Farewell Willow Park!

This is one of the few photos that I took at Willow Park:

taiche burfday

When Chris first moved to his place in Willow Park, I had only begun to know him. He had first lived in Foster City, but he never invited me over, claiming that it was “messy”. And granted, living in San Francisco, why would I venture out of the city? Then he moved to Fremont. By that point, I convinced him that I should see his place. So I did.

But then shortly after, he was forced to move again, because his unit was being purchased. And then he found his place at Willow Park in early 2007. Since then, there were starts to move, but they never transpired. It was just easier to stay in one place that fit everything he needed.

But today was the end. He found a better place in San Francisco. Gone were the days of “car safety”, the comforts of Mountain View (and the surrounding silicon valley). Gone were the strip malls—the omnipresent need to drive to a grocery store and the feeling that everything one needed was just a car ride away. The silence was going to be gone.

I’ll miss that he lived alone—no more loud noises from his home theater or insane pop music from his computer. I’ll miss having a place down in the South Bay—a pleasant positive sojurn from a tech job. Or a place to crash when I visited a friend in the South Bay (this is the real reason that I am down here).

But what I won’t miss is: having two homes. The thinking that he’s down there and I am up here. And the whoops, I left something 50 miles away.

Memories? I’ll list them next.

On the struggles of artistry

Whenever an artist said “I was put on this earth to create art”, I had a slight reaction. I am not quite sure what it is—was she being overly pretentious (which nowadays is an overly used word) or was it my sudden jealousy of her clear awareness of her self?

Nonetheless, I feel this now. I have been put on this earth to write. Quite often, I often state something a little pompous: I write to live. I live to write.

For me, it is true. I know that I love to create. And in first attempt to create, it was through words. The stories that appeared in my mind. The books that I stacked when I went to the library. I wanted to be an author when I was a kid and told everyone so when any adult asked. And yet, as I got older, pressures and expectations from an Asian family meant that art was not an option. It was not successful and not financially sound.

And so for years, I pursued the more appropriate profession that boomed of success and money…and stability. I studied computer science initially. The lack of creativity was still surging with me and that very reason led me to product design. And yet, I was not CREATING. I was creating for a company—mobile phone companies, washers and dryers, car companies, retail stores.

Several months ago, I was troubled by a response to my desire to be a writer.

But today, I saw this talk from Elizabeth Gilbert. People have fear of creativity. As she describes, no other profession has creative geniuses falling into emotional despair. Sure, accountants, software engineers, servicemen…may have despair with their colleagues. But really, in an artist, we are in the profession where creativity comes within.

In the stress of the moment, I took a misstep

In the morning, I realized that the game started at noon rather than 3 pm. So I thought about the writing workshop that I was attending: I could not withdraw my attendance (as it had impact on my reputation) so I decided to attend one hour of the workshop. Then I thought about how I would get to the game. Should I bike to the workshop and back to the my place? Or do I go directly from the workshop? Was it the same time? And I thought about how Chris was going to accomplish his task. Will he be on time? Will there be sufficient time to drive and park? Was driving a good enough reason? How will we meet up? Then, I thought about how long it took to walk from the BART station? Why didn’t I know the starting time earlier?

The stress was so distracting that my writing workshop was not as successful for myself as I had hoped. Rushing back to my place, I switched bags and put on my gear. Then as the thoughts whizzed through my mind, I rushed down my steps.

And in a single moment, the only moment that has happened in the last 6 years that I lived in this building, I misjudged a step and fell. I heard the smack as I landed on uncomfortable parts of my body. I glanced around, seeing that nobody saw. My bags were safe, untouched and unbroken. Brushing myself, I scanned my body for injury. Three painful spots. Muscular aches I hoped and started limping to the BART station. Seems like I wouldn’t make the 11:31 am train. I remembered distinctly my falls this year in the bus terminal in Vancouver and the lobby of the YBCA. Surely, I could recover right?

And on the way, as I called Chris to tell him about what happened and my delayed arrival, I started to feel relief wash over me and the stress disappeared. In place of the pain that I had.

It was going to be ok.

There is a businessman and the artist

In every successful partnership, there are two people. The artist—the one who seeks to express, to create, to design. Then there is the businessman—the logic, the thoughts, the one who actually seeks out monetization.

Examples range where the power shifts. The artist wants to give away work for free in order to benefit the community. The businessman is hesitant—nothing should ever be given away for free.

At a food blogger meetup recently, a guy with background in law advised us: “Protect yourself.”

When I challenged him with examples of artistic expression and community benefit, he told the story of a man who came up with an idea of a blender-type fan in the toilet. As a lover of Jamba Juice, he went there every day ordering the same smoothie. However, one day, he felt sick from a smoothie that tasted off. Several hours later, he started having diarrhea. Inspired by the blenders at Jamba Juice, he thought the blender blades would work well in a toilet.

Arbitrarily, he went to the patent lawyers, who completed the patent application pro bono (since the man had zero income). Many of the lawyers were skeptical. Toilets have been around for years without blades. Yet a few months after the patent was completed, the firm received a call from a company interested in licensing the idea. Before the lawyer offered a number, the company immediately offered a million dollars to start plus royalties for every use.

The guy at the food blogger meetup finished his story with, “And that’s why you want to protect yourself.”

I cannot pretend that I don’t have moral values

A few days ago, I unknowingly witnessed what seemed to be a betrayal in an acquaintance’s relationship.

This year, I have learned that there are boundaries that I can compromise on and some boundaries that I cannot. The latter of which are deeply rooted to my sense of morality and values.

So as much as I tried to put the incident out of my mind (since it’s none of my business), I could not. And it festered in my mind as I saw the acquaintance. Out of etiquette, I behaved like nothing happened.

Maybe I hate lies. I would rather know about the painful truth than the easily cloaked lies. And perhaps I misinterpreted.

But this is me.

I use wheels, but not feet

When an intrepid friend proposed a 26.5 mile hike through San Francisco, I was excited for the adventure of the stops, but not for the idea of walking throughout the city. He always had brillant ideas, but this one with walking for more than 12 hours (sunrise to sundown) was unappealing.

Fortunately, he provided an alternative. To be a roadie. Or as he termed it the “Best People Ever” committee who would provide support at all the stops, provide the morale boost for people, and serve as emergency backup.

I signed up immediately. A friend later joined me, but wasn’t as ambitious as I was. For me, the motivation was startling. I enjoyed playing in the background—cheering for people as they reached the checkpoints, providing the food and water for each individual’s boost…and especially being able to rest between checkpoints. Because unlike the general participant, I could drive or ride my bike. Because I knew the city well, I knew where to park (for free!) and how to get around generally effortlessly.

During one of the most busy weekends in San Francisco…I avoided traffic and parking crunch. I swerved here and there by bike, shouting cheers and providing rides for the suddenly disabled.

Sure there were a few moments where I suddenly was alone and lonely, knowing that the rest of the crew (numbering over 20) was out participating in an activity that I did not participate in because I wasn’t walking. But the idea that I could help them, support them…was motivating. That I could use something that I was good at—navigating the city by other means—to plan the day.

taken by Chloe

I love saying this:

Feet were not made to walk. They were made to push the pedal.

Why do you write?

I don’t remember the first time that I started writing. I remember loving music, wanting to be a singer and a dancer (both which I realized that I was neither good at). I have my old writing books from school—the ones that teachers made all the students write daily to practice sentence structure. I remember the books that I carefully selected from the library each week, piling up to a stack in the twenties.

But what I remember the most: the explosions of creativity I had when I was 8 or 9. The images, dreams and nightmares that crossed my mind to create landscapes of stories. Every moment I experienced then inspired a fictional story. There was the quirky girl captured in mystery of a death on the subway. Then there was the story of the kidnapper and the sisters that tricked him.

In my early teens, I lost the desire to write fiction. I was drawn to memoirs…and what we call creative nonfiction. The honesty and truth of reality was mesmerizing and magnetizing. By my early twenties, I was swept into the world of blogging and journaling. More than a decade has passed and I am still writing. Every day.

This morning, I wanted an answer for my deep need to write and I found it:
I’m trying to capture in language the things that I see and feel, as a way of recording their beauty and power and terror, so that I can return to those things and relive them. In that way, I try to have some sense of control in a chaotic world.

I write, because it’s my way of self-expression. Sometimes I say that it helps makes things unreal…and to make more sense. Each piece is art. It’s this is how I view the world.

The writer’s guilt

I wish that I wrote more.

Unlike many, I don’t have this writer’s guilt. Although not as ritualized as it used to be, I attempt to write once a day in this blog. Recently, a friend asked, “It’s still going?”

But I can’t help but write. Every single memory, I worry, will slip away if it’s not captured in words, sentences, pages. Weeks, months, years later, I look back and appreciate those moments. Because if it was not for the writing, I would be deep in the mud, stuck calling for help.

It is stress-relieving.

But my guilt right now is that I find it impossible to write about what I had planned to write. I keep coming back here. In my personal essay class, my instructor told the class to choose the subject that shone the most. Like walking into a Tiffanys and getting to drawn to that single sparkly diamond ring. Sadly, it isn’t the project that I set to do. I want to write out the emotions, the feelings, the motivations for my own tears here. I want to write about the laundry that binds us, the people I have discarded and accepted, and the successes that I swallowed only to forget one day later.

This is my own struggle of being a writer. I am driven by feelings and so my blog has always been my best friend like that. It has allowed me to write anything. Even though I have no profit, no true audience (well…hello out there!)…because that’s fine to me.

Because at the core, I am writing.