“Round and round!!!” she exclaimed.

In her 3 and a half year old voice, she told her mother, “I want the round and round!”

Her mother said in a friendly stern voice, “Louise, you must be polite, because Jenn hasn’t finished eating. We can go find it after we are done.”

I laughed as Louise smiled broadly and continued to fidget in her chair.

Then her mother said to me directly, “I think that she means boba.”

In ten minutes, we strolled down the street as Louise ran ahead, jumping over manholes and related covers. Every few steps, her mother would say loudly, “Louise! Please wait!” Then she would add as we approach an intersection, “Car! Please come and hold my hand.”

When we go to Tapioca Express, Louise peered inside and instantly threw a tantrum. As her mother pulled her to the door, Louise dropped to the ground screaming. “I want round and round!!!”

Pointing a techy startup guy coming out with a large milk tea, her mother said, “Look! It’s bubble milk tea!”

“No!” Louise screamed.

I chuckled wondering what round and round meant. Eventually, we went back toward her mother’s car where halfway through the journey, Louise declared that she wanted round and round initially. Spotting a blue awning of a Mexican restaurant, Louise ran ahead and peered into the restaurant. Inside, a bubble gum machine stood where with a coin, a gumball would spin round and round sliding down a circling slide. Her mother gestured toward the bubble gum machine to the cashier almost apologetically, “We are here for this.”

Her mother opened her fashionable wallet and Louise jumped up to pull it down, sticking her hands in. I reached into my bag to find my wallet, but her mother found one first. Quietly, Louise took one quarter and put it into the machine. With both hands, she twisted the knob. A blue gumball dropped into the slide and it went round and round. Louise put her hand in the small metal door at the bottom waiting for the gumball. She grinned happily, holding the gumball in her hand.

I don’t know if she ever tried to eat it.

Brick and blanket test

I read about this test in Outliers about testing for creativity and non-rigidness. When I was young, my parents were worried that I wasn’t developing fast enough. My social skills were lacking. My speech development skills proceeded at a snail pace. Catching a ball? Impossible. But when tested for my IQ, I was tested for someone a few years older than me.

To this day, I wonder how my IQ was tested if I could barely communicate. And whether my parents believed that I would be the person I am today when they brought their oldest daughter to a series of tests (including a MRI scan). If it wasn’t for my social anxiety, what could I have become? Did my circumstances inhibit me? And why did suddenly my ambition finally broke free when I edged into third decade?

A dear friend once said to me in college, “If you really applied yourself, you can do great things.”

But couldn’t anyone?

Brick: building structure, oven warmer, steps, weapon, a door opener, a car opener, mini table, when decorated a piece of artwork, doorstop

Blanket: clothing, towel, fire smother, comforter, poor man’s parachute, blindfold, rope, chair, rug, table, pillow, stuffed animal

What if money was no object?

I would go back to school and get a MFA.

(Although I know personally if a financial incentive is not present, my drive isn’t as strong.)

Every few months, i wander over to a graduate school program. In creative writing. In journalism. In film. Then I imagine how it would be like to be in school again. Especially now that I have the maturity to pursue a degree with thoughtfulness and rigor.

Yesterday as I cleaned out my room for an incoming sublet, I came across articles I had written for a home newspaper in 1995. My writing was clear and vivid, capturing an objective, interesting perspective. I remember how I applied for the classes in the school newspaper and yearbook, rejected from both. I always blamed it on my inability to communicate in person and I slunk away in disappointment, never trying again in college or after.

And when the earnest awoke again, I found myself surrounded by writers in their fifties and sixties. People who suddenly awoke to find that their dreams plundered by demands of children and careers. In a room today, I sat in a circle, free writing, and I wondered about the other attendees—did they just wake up now too?

I love stories

Deep personal human stories…with a greater philosophical meaning that transcends the physical world in front of us.

I listen intently hoping for a moment that it will teach me something, especially about myself. I am curious about others because I want to understand myself.

Then there are stories like Oblivion that I hoped was more than just a story of a man, a lover, and misguided sense of being. Being who I am, I am always seeking for the greater meaning and I kept trying to find it.

Travel > Everything Else

They say, I want to travel…but…

“Yeah, but…” is pernicious. Because it makes it sound like we have the best of intentions when really we are just too scared to do what we should. It allows us to be cowards, while sounding noble.

So said another blogger.

To some extent, I pity the dreamers who never achieve their dreams, because they let everything else get in the way. It’s not just travel. It’s working out. It’s painting. It’s music. It’s everything else.

Every week, someone says, “I wish that I could do what you’re doing.”

Usually I smile, but I really want to say, “Why not?”

Is it the mortgage? The kids? The job? The vacation? I know that I once got into that spiral when I started thinking about the responsibilities.

So why is it that people complain about what they cannot have (or maybe they’re just humoring me)?

But most importantly, do they really want it?

I used to think that I would love:

  • Skydiving
  • Hiking the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu
  • Visiting Berlin
  • Partying in Buenos Aires
  • I did that all, and I didn’t like it. It wasn’t my thing. Regrets? Maybe for the money that I lost. But to know that I didn’t like it is the most valuable reward.

    My love language is quality time

    More than the standard person, the trick to get to me…is just by listening to me. Really listening to me and showing that you really understood.

    There are some who believe that it’s simply sitting there and letting their ears open, letting the words flow in. But to me, it’s asking clarification questions and prompting with curiosity or their own anecdotes.

    The worst thing to do to me is not listen to me. Ignoring is one thing, but to return with criticism and misunderstanding is the worst thing to do.

    Yet, today as I stood with a coworker who I did not want to build rapport with for professional reasons, I suddenly struggled. I can’t help but comment on the cuisine, the bright sun casting a feeling of 70 degree weather in the valley, the ways of suburbia. It’s just what I do. And just like any other typical person, he couldn’t help but also converse as well. And then, there it was understanding.

    Today, I drove up the 280 and relished how its ease and freedom unlike the horrible 40 minutes I drove yesterday on El Camino Real hitting traffic lights every few minutes. Perhaps because the former felt habitual. It felt like it understood me.

    I have a deep purple bruise

    In the last week, I apologize profusely when I instinctively pulled my sleeve back and my deep purple bruise on my right forearm displayed proudly. Not quite looking like a birthmark, I didn’t want people to feel repelled by it. Then upon noticed by another party, I pull the sleeve down and tell myself not to pull it up.

    But then again. Why am I protecting myself from being seen by others? Why not show it as a proud marker of cycling? After all, I did exactly what almost all cyclists do in San Francisco. What do I have to hide?

    When I was 15, I had a bad habit of scratching my bug bites. As a result, being allergic as I was, the bites would get gruesomely swollen. Yet, I never felt shameful enough that I would stop wearing shorts. So at school, I walked around with the large red welts without any self-consciousness. Some people did remark and I obliviously described it—yeah, so I got bitten…and I like scratching!

    Whether that repelled people or not (most likely?), I am not sure. But is it that now I have become so self-conscious, so sensitive to my surrounding that I would try to cover a vital part of who I am? Granted, it was only an injury, but is it a metaphor?

    You know that you’re over something…

    When you can talk to someone about it without feeling a rush of emotions.

    Despite sounding like a teenager, it’s especially…

  • When you don’t listen to the same moody song
  • When your hindsight is truly 20/20 and say you would have done it differently
  • When all you want to do is hug your past self during the toughest times
  • When your love for happy songs grows
  • When your biggest worry is not about those emotions, but rather whether you should bike or drive to work tomorrow
  • When you can laugh about it…with clarity
  • When after speaking about it, your mind wanders to other more interesting things
  • When during the precious moments right before sleep takes over, you dream of the future and the wonder, the excitement that it holds
  • But what about the hipster who defies habits?

    I finished reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

    Throughout it, Duhigg discusses ingrained habits like eating too many cookies to lifelong habits of willpower and belief. Then he goes into targeted merchandising and addiction.

    How does that apply to a hipster who buys nothing from large supermarkets or chains. Especially one who never frequents large chains?

    But then again, you ask me. I have a habit of novelty. Trying something new thrills me to no end. I wonder if this is the reason that I like living in the city. It reflects value, self-importance, and reputation. I hang on to my identities of being a know-it-all and wiser-than-thou persona. And if I have a good experience, I will gladly tell you about it.

    But I rarely go to the same restaurant or shop twice in the last 6 months (with the exception of the 23rd/Mission Market which supplies me with an onion here, two jalapeños there, four tomatoes tomorrow). I am a value seeker, yet I go for months without going to Foods Co., my budget grocery store of choice. If you find me there, it’s most likely that I am hosting a party where I don’t care if the results are superbly organic. I buy online where it is the cheapest. Sometimes I buy on Amazon, but sometimes I have someone else buy it for me. Maybe on ebay or craigslist. I don’t cook the same things as I used to four years ago because lunch is available at work. Brands? I don’t even understand what that is beyond the big electronic manufacturers. I only know milk brands, but if it has the word organic, I am intrigued. I buy when the shop is convenient. Clothes? I have sworn to only buy abroad, because I don’t want to wear anything that anyone is wearing here.

    I watch people who struggle with eating too much, not working out enough, addictions.

    But those are habits. My goal of being different—that I’ll go lengths out of my way to do it. How is that for a habit?