I am an introvert and….

And I hate how extroverts need to rebel.

Granted, I am really the unique snowflake who completely wants to declare I AM SPECIAL.

Yet, the introversion signs that have been going around the web unmistakenly describe me. And for so many years, I never quite understood why I wasn’t like the others. Sure there were reserved kids, but I was crippled by social anxiety accentuated my natural quiet inclination and my cautious behavior. And for so many years, I wanted more than anything to be loud and obnoxious. Even to the point where I demanded that people never ever call me nice. Because nice implied quiet.

I hated class participation and routinely failed this class requirement—unable to raise my hand in class. I loved writing essays (although I didn’t always do well in them) and even asked a teacher once to make a test about essays rather than multiple choice. A former boyfriend attacked me with a “you don’t know what you like to do with other people; you only know what you like to do by yourself”. In my yearbooks, the most common scrawl was “You are nice and quiet. Speak up!” Nowadays, you’ll find me playing with the kids at parties (if there are kids). I have a three hour limit at almost all parties; sometimes one hour.

But hold on, I love talking to people (when I am happy). And I love planning events (although I don’t really enjoy participating). And I often find myself going out every evening (is it a habit)? And I don’t mind telling the world my thoughts. Really.

How do you get what you want?

I am a pansy when it comes to getting what I want, especially when I think it’s black and white. Whether I can attribute it to my quiet nature and my let’s-follow-the-rules philosophy.

In the last seven years, Chris has taught me this lesson: everything is negotiable. Legally.

Such as:

  • A (free) bag from a conference that you’re not attending
  • Tickets to a sold out concert at face value purchased one hour before the show starts (e.g. to watch Foster the People
  • Getting a laptop fixed within 24 hours when the usual estimated time is 72 hours
  • Getting credit card fees waived
  • Getting other fees for rentals, hotels, cars, cellphone bills, etc. waived
  • Fighting parking tickets
  • Exchanging an unused movie ticket
  • And most importantly…getting onto a sold-out flight
  • I have mastered the art of negotiating my salary, but everyday requests are difficult. But I have learned that we are all human and people’s egos just want to be stroked. A little bit. Most of the time, I stand in the background as Chris works his magic (sometimes I don’t want to know or overcome with the embarrassment). But now I can call it the kindly brontosaurus posture. Granted, there’s more that he does than this posture. (Not to mention, he already looks unthreatening with a general baby face and extroverted relatable nature.)

    Several years ago, before the Clipper Card, I regularly purchased the 8-ride ticket for Caltrain. This kind of ticket requires a validation prior to a ride on the Caltrain as proof of payment to the conductor. On a spare-the-air-day (when all transit in the Bay Area is free), I accidentally validated a ticket, thereby paying for a free ride. Upset, I moaned about my mistake. Calming me, Chris said that his friend was able to use the accidental validation for the next ride on a regular day. The following day, I promptly rode the Caltrain without validating my ticket, certain that my spare-the-air-day validation would work. As the train zoomed south from the city, the conductor came by. I looked at the conductor and sincerely explained the situation, ending with “my friend said that it was how it worked!”

    He looked at me and shook his head. “No, it doesn’t.”

    I blinked. “Oh?” I mumbled. “I thought that’s how it worked.”

    He lectured me more and continued on without fining me. Later, I found out that Chris tricked me, knowing that if I knew the truth, I would have never done it. Did I have the kindly brontosaurus posture? I hope so. I still don’t like that conductor.

    djfljasflalf FIVE POUNDS!

    On my driver’s license, it says a skinny 115 lbs at my 16 year old frame.

    You see though, of course, years have passed and I am not quite the same. Yes, a little more weight. Yet, maybe I have more muscle now. My experience is heavy. My scars droop.

    About once a month, I cave into this worry about my appearance. I look down and worry about the barely noticeable inner tube. I look at my feet and wish they were smaller…dainty. I wish my ankles would not be cankles. And I look at my face and wish that it was blemish-free. Clear, perfect just like the woman I am supposed to be.

    Yet I am crippled by childhood memories where I learned that it was not ok to look different and be different.

    Then I revert.

    I really don’t care. I would rather wear my black yoga pants (even though I dislike yoga) and my hoodie all day. I wear makeup only a few days out of the year—usually for a wedding or a costume party. And usually, it’s quite a mess because I don’t have the practiced hand of lining my eyes perfectly. Lotion? What’s that? Nail polish? My shoes are all scuffed, even my flats. Because yes, I have ran in them. Into water.

    Sometimes I wonder how I ended up this way. My sister is quite the opposite—rarely going out without makeup. She has her outfits carefully put together in the proper New York City style. My mom wore red lipstick frequently and indulged regularly at the Estee Lauder counter.

    For now, I like to wander around without the required eyeliner (of a Mission hipster), without the tight jeans (because obviously I would rather be more comfortable)…although now I have upgraded to nice shaded hipster sneakers of light aqua and bright yellow.

    I am going to crush now

    I really mean candy crush. That is, Candy Crush Saga.

    Just to be clear, I have not fallen to the prey of easy micro payments.

    As a lover of sweets, I was drawn to the candy part. The sounds of the candy being crushed appealed to my sweet tooth. And my weakness and impatience for sucking on candies. I naturally just eat most hard candies in one bite. Moreover, the candy crush sound effect massages my happy place (in my mind). Every single time.

    With every crush, I feel the taste of a lemon drop, a chiclet, a blueberry jelly bean, a cinnamon jellybean and a purple candy. It doesn’t help that I pretty much have similar candy that I arbitrarily purchased in Philadelphia in May, sitting on my desk. They’s shaped like fish. But every time that I look at them, I think CANDY CRUSH SAGA.

    I would love to say that I have very good self-control for not dipping into micropayments of 99 cents for extra boosts and extra lives. Yet the primary reason that I cannot is that I don’t have the password for my iTunes account (complicated reason).

    But if I did, would I submit to addiction? Would I see more candies being crushed every moment? The fact is that the “energy buildup” game mechanic tickles my want-to-play center. It’s as if the game was designed for my psychology. That it understood what made me crave and desire. Too much.

    I do live in a bubble

    Not to anyone’s surprise, I live in a bubble.

    Although I would like to believe that I relate to any middle class person, I live like the upper middle class. When I watch my behavior and observe my preferences, they are stereotypically white and upper class. I barely know anybody who makes a working class wage (beyond my second cousins and a former friend—indeed, the former friend and I had a falling out because of our differences in our approach to finances). I barely watch any standard mainstream TV shows, because simply I don’t like it. I don’t like the mainstream movies, except big blockbusters of action and excitement. I rarely buy any name brand products and I refuse to eat in chain restaurants. If I had a choice (and endless budgeting), everything I eat would be organic, farm-raised, and free-range.

    I am a San Franciscan. I eat at taquieras when I feel cheap. I eat at fancy pants Japanese Izakaya restaurants when I have money to spend. Then I spend time watching independent films, especially those from foreign countries. I love subtitles and wish that they were everywhere. I love small businesses and try not to frequent big box retailers. If I could, I wouldn’t drive a car…and a car does not represent who I am.

    What are your dreams?

    Last weekend, a friend talked about her now ex-boyfriend. She talked about an evening when she came home with dreams. Dreams of a year abroad, traveling, eating, drinking, etc. Her passion and fervor engulfed the room. Then with a single swoop, he exclaimed, “What about our apartment? The rent? Money?”

    And in that moment, she knew that he wasn’t quite right.

    What do you do when you’re with someone who doesn’t have shared dreams. That your dreams must melt into a mess in sorrow.

    In the last year, in trying to figure out my own project, I have read a lot of new authors. In many of them, they have a supportive partner. A partner that says, “You can do what you need to do.” I read about Ang Lee and how his wife encouraged him tirelessly. Because why have an unhappy rich partner when you can have a happy poor partner?

    I don’t know if I will succeed, but I am glad that I am trying.

    People don’t buy what you do…

    …they buy why you do it.

    Which seems rather simple as we watched the video in the staff meeting on Monday.

    I met an older guy a few weeks ago during a tech meetup. When he approached us, he declared that he created something innovative. He pointed at his bike. I saw a colorful pinwheel attached to the handlebars. I tried hard to look for something. I started opening my mouth to laugh when I realized that he was not joking. “These are fun and safe!” he exclaimed.

    I saw the packaging. A clear packaging stabled to a poorly design cardboard label featured stock photos of a happy girl on bike and happy mommys. In the kindest way possible, I asked, “Do these sell for 99 cents?”

    Being polite, I decided not to ride away from him and let him spit out (literally and figuratively) his plan to me. And through it all, I challenged him. Not quite asking the why, I continued to ask, “What unifies all of this together? What is the mission?”

    That’s when he stepped forward and smiled. “This is just a small part of the puzzle, Jennifer.” He touched me on my arm for emphasis. “This is going to help me be an environmental activist.”

    His eyes glowed with passion.

    At that moment, I felt uncomfortable and took a few steps back. Whether it was the awkward touch that kept increasing in frequency or how I sensed that…I couldn’t buy the why. It was unrelated. I saw the bright colors. The sparkles. The oddly shaped attachment. And I thought, why would I ever buy this?