Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Getting Through the Day


I was a freshman in high school when my friend Barbara was accepted into a college in Canada. She took up political science, under the impression that she would pursue a law degree. She had a boyfriend here in California before she left, but they broke up because she didn't feel like he could be faithful  during a long distance relationship.
 We had been close friends ever since I started high school, so we kept in touch, mostly through Facebook chat. We talked to each other about three-four times a week, and talked about everything there was to talk about. Barbara was usually buzzed, if not fully intoxicated. It was in college where she discovered her weakness for red wine, the cheapest kind with the highest alcohol concentration.

Most of our conversations started with her sending me a message so she could complain about how college has been going. It was mostly just random stuff, and I barely listened, as I had my own problems at the time. Our conversations were never actual conversations, they were more like monologues that neither of us were actually paying attention to. We both talked a lot, but neither of us took the time to listen.
I didn't notice the amount of alcohol she consumed, or the stream of complaints on life she made. I also didn't think she noticed how wrong everything seemed to me, how I was so tired of living life the way I was.
The fact remained that she was there more as a comfort, even if she never really understood or cared what I was going through. And a few years later, when we reconnected, I learned that she felt the same way about our relationship. To her, it didn't matter that I wasn't listening, or that I was too absorbed with my own issues. The important thing was that we were there for each other, and that was what she needed more than anything.
The funny thing was, I wasn't a good friend to her honestly. But she wasn't a good friend to me either. We were just way too caught up in our own worlds to care about anyone else. But that doesn't matter now. We were there for each other when we needed a person the most. At the end of the day, that was enough for the both of us.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Musings


The first time Steph told me she loved me, I told her that she didn't know what she was saying. It was too soon to say things like that, I thought, and I was afraid that she didn't realize the full extent of what she said, or of the commitment that this implied. I told her that maybe she made a mistake, and that she didn't really mean it. I gave her an opening to take back her words.

The next day, I told her I loved her too. I truly loved her then, and whether or not she felt the same wasn't the problem. It was the truth for me and I had to say it. I thought she loved me, but more than that, I realized that my feelings were a small price to pay for the love that I thought I had.

This is what I learned from my experience: we sometimes sacrifice our feelings (particularly happiness) for the possibility of someone liking us back. But why do we put such importance on being in a relationship? Perhaps it's the fear of being alone that drives us into relationships that we probably shouldn't be in. I can say for a fact that I stayed in a relationship with Steph for a lot longer than I should have, all because I was too afraid to be alone.
***
It's often said that to love someone you have to be able to sacrifice yourself, or at least parts of yourself into the relationship. But I don't agree with this view. Love should elevate the people in the relationship, make them into something better than who they were before. Though these people may add up to be a couple, they are whole in themselves. I feel as if a lot of times, shows and movies romanticize at least one broken person looking for someone to waltz into their lives to fix them. And oftentimes we rush into relationships because it feels like time is running out for us to be worthy of love. These concepts, of running out of time or waiting for someone to "fix" who we are, those only help in making rash decisions and ultimately bad choices in relationships
***
But at the end of the day, I feel as if a certain amount of faith is necessary for any relationship to work. Just as many people have faith in the religion they believe in, people in relationships ought to have faith that the person they are with cares for them in the same way. Just because the media tends to over-romanticize what it means to be in a relationship doesn't mean that I have given up on finding "the one".

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Love: A Tragedy



It was a Wednesday afternoon when she first messaged me, through the Tumblr messaging app. She wasn't exactly my type, not someone I really found attractive. My friend Natalie pointed out that I should take a chance with her. I typed out a quick reply and left it at that. When I got out of my class, I had already forgotten about this interaction, and was ready to move on with my day. Little did I know, she had already written a reply back, so we kept talking. Eventually, I gave her my number, because why not. She also seemed like a decent person, which was hard to come by.

We ended up talking all day. Her name was KB. We texted about where we came from, the things we liked to do, where we wanted our futures to go. She seemed like a lot of fun, definitely someone I could see myself with. She lived in New York, making her 3 hours ahead of me. Eventually, it got late. She asked if she could talk to me tomorrow. I smiled at the thought of us talking all day tomorrow.
***
We had been talking for about two or three weeks, and I thought that there could be something serious between us. There was joyful routine, both of us were happy (at least that was what I thought). She told me she thought I was her type, I told her she didn't know what she was saying, but I texted all my friends anyway. I  was happy, mainly because I felt I was still lovable, especially after the rough breakup between me and my ex. I believed my friends when they said they were happy for me.
***
Pretty soon, I started noticing small things that would make me uncomfortable. KB was polite for the most part, but she would make fun of me for my interests, under the guise of "teasing". She would say things that would bother me, and whenever I called her out on it, she would always find a way to twist the situation such that it would make me seem like I was overreacting. But always, there were the excuses. It would be okay for her to do something, but not okay for me to do the same exact thing. We fought constantly, I was living in a state of constant tension, not knowing when the next fight would come.
***
It was a Thursday morning when I got the text that I was expecting for a while now. She said she wanted to "stay friends". We had lasted for about two months.
***
It was a routine: dinner with a few friends as a form of breakup therapy. They told me they never liked the looks of her, she had the look of a self pitying attention drain. They insisted it would be better for me to just walk away. I took another bite of sushi and agreed. I desperately wanted to believe them.
***
I kept tabs on her Tumblr for a while. A few months later, we reconnected again. She had met someone new. I didn't know how to feel, but at the end of the day, it didn't matter. The other girl didn't feel the same way about her. We talked for a couple months more, and it became apparent to me that she hadn't changed at all. She was still the same condescending, self-righteous person I had thought she was all those months ago. After a few days of not talking, she sends me a message with just a "Hi". When I didn't respond in about a day, it became apparent that she had blocked me on social media and blocked my number.
How childish, I thought. But then again, how predictable. At this point in my life, I simply just didn't care.
About three weeks later (as of Oct. 14, 2016), it feels like nothing has changed in my life. I guess that's how you know you've moved on from someone: when talking to them feels more like a hassle than anything else. My friend asks me if I had bothered to check up on her since, and my response ran along the lines of, why should I, when things are going great for me?
***
A few days ago, a friend asked me how to get over a girl that he had feelings for. My solution for him was simple: find the right someone, and things will figure themselves out. I had the good fortune of having met someone who had a stellar personality, someone who helped erase all trace of KB from my memory. It might seem impossible, but good girls are hard to find.
My friend Natalie asked me how I felt about this situation. I told her, people who break up end up in competition with each other, even if they won't admit it. In order to win, you need to live a better life. I'm pretty sure I've won.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Blogging as Art


Writing has been really frustrating to me lately. Writing ideas (at least for the past few months) have been difficult to come by, and putting a writing idea into words just seemed to hard. But a few weeks ago I wanted to get back into creative writing again, so I just stopped making excuses and just started writing. I needed to fight the feeling to just lay down and not put any effort into writing anymore, which gets worse the longer I stay lying down, which makes the act of writing even harder than before. But pretty soon I realized that sometimes I just need to get up and just write, regardless of the quality; otherwise, I might as well pack my bags and stop blogging altogether.

Which I have no intention of doing. I've been blogging for years, and I love this blog. I've just been too wrapped up in everything else that's been going on. 
The problem with blogging is that usually it's a one person project, and if this one person is not capable of keeping up with a certain number and frequency in terms of a posting schedule, then the blog just dies a pretty natural death. Not death in the sense of the person stops writing, that's really up to the writer themselves, but more so in terms of the lack of readers that would still be interested in your work after a long absence. And for people who say that they don't care about the traffic or having a set number of readers come back on a regular basis, they just want to put their work on paper. I call BS on that: everyone wants readers. Maybe your goal isn't to have a lot of readers, maybe you just want your friends, maybe just one or two strangers, but you still want people to read what you have to say. Otherwise, posting your writing online would be pointless. Why not write your work in a notebook? Having a blog or an online site is putting your work on a public space, which means that when you post, you aim to share your work to the public (even if the "public" means a few friends). It's similar to the philosophical question about trees and forests: if your blog doesn't have readers, or as some people say "having readers isn't my goal", what is the point of having a blog in the first place?
Because a blog is something that requires readers, then maybe some standards are supposed to be set. What is the point of doing something if you're only going to put in half the effort? You might as well give everything you have. This applies to blogging as it does for anything else.
This brings me to the point of this post: that blogging could be elevated to something of an art form, in the same way that poetry, or fiction, or novels are considered art work. Many people view having a blog as a hobby, which in itself isn't really a bad thing, but I think many bloggers tend to limit their views by thinking that having a blog is just a platform to create something else, something "greater", rather than having the blog as the end result. I understand that attitude, and one of the main reasons why I blog is to practice writing so that I eventually get better. But that doesn't mean that blogging instantly becomes something "less than" a book, or a poem. Some of the best blogs that I have come across have connected to me on a personal level, whether it be emotionally or  psychologically, and honestly, who is to say that this connection is less valid only because the connect was made in a blog? When the goal of your work is to connect with people you've never met on a humanlevel, where does the art begin and the hobby stop?
It's interesting to see how similar the end goal of bloggers and artists are. Those aims are, in essence, based on the love for what they do.
So this is what I'm trying to say. My suggestion is that bloggers stop feeling that blogging is anything less than any of the accepted art forms that are established. At the end of the day, we are all artists. We create content for others just like any other art form. In my opinion, blogging can be the future of what art can look like.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The First Morning I Forgot You


The morning started out as it normally did. I woke up early as usual, the quiet sounds of the morning chirping in the air, the day still cold. My roommate forgot to turn off her TV. I could hear the Game of Thrones theme song playing through the wall, the sound reminding me that I haven't finished the latest season.

I stood up from my bed, my head aching from general lack of sleep. My mind was still a blur, causing my motor functions to slow down. It was so early that at first I didn't realize that it was already the next day, and that I have a lot of work to do before the day is over.

After brushing my teeth and running my fingers through my hair, I decided that I was just going to go eat and work out before my classes started. I walked into the living room, and I saw my roommate. I pause for a moment, surprised that she had gotten up so early. She apparently had yet to change from her clothes from last night. Her face looked like it was carved from stone: filled with disappointment.

"When did you get back?" I asked her.

"A few hours ago."

"You haven't slept at all?"

"Nope. Decided it was a waste of time." That made sense. What was the point of going to bed if you have class in two hours?

"Did you have fun last night?"

"Nah, not really."

"What happened?"

"My date ditched me for some other girl."

"That's rough."

"Yeah, can't be helped. What did you do?"

"Nothing much. Just watched some Netflix and went to sleep."

She nodded, and finished her food. After a while, she changed and headed for class. I scrolled through the news on my phone, seeing if I had missed any major news that happened overnight. Nothing major had happened.

The microwave beeped in it's usual annoying manner. I quickly got my food out.

And right when I sat down to eat, I remembered you. Right at the moment when I started my computer, and the smell of coffee still strong in my nose. It was that moment when I realized that you were no longer the first thing on my mind.

This came as a complete shock to me. After months of listening to sad love songs, of self-pity, of waking up feeling like I was missing something, of blaming myself for not "doing better" in the relationship, I had just woken up to a morning where I didn't feel like a big part of my life was gone. And apart from the shock that was this realization, I saw how such a moment could be so mundane. All this was happening while I was at my desk, opening up Hulu, and looking like someone who just rolled out of a trash can. It was a moment that was as anticlimactic as one could be.
Yet, I felt like it couldn't have been any better. Even though this moment was lacking any of the drama that I was expecting, I felt as if a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

 "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." - Albert Einstein 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Heartbreak


It was 3 years ago when I found myself staring at my phone at a contact that I both did and did not want to reach out to. I was lying in bed in my dorm room, with the only light coming from my phone shining on my face. I remember my gut clenching and my heart racing, and the small voice in my head telling me that I should just turn off my phone and that a conversation would not end well for either one of us.

I should have listened to myself. But against my better judgment, I didn't. I didn't know what I was feeling, just that I wanted to be with you more than I wanted anything. In the back of my mind, I knew that I couldn't have you, no matter how hard I tried. But I had hoped that I was wrong, that somehow, we would work out.

I found myself pressing the call button. While the phone was ringing, I had this unique feeling that I didn't own my own body, that someone else was in control. On one hand, I was waiting for her to pick up, while on the other hand, I was watching myself waiting. To this day, I can still feel my heart pounding and my gut clenching.

"Hi."

"Hey, it's me."

"Yeah, how's it going?"

"I have something to say to you."

"I can't really talk. I'm currently with someone right now."

"Sorry. It's just that I needed to tell you something."

There was a long silence. I held my breath until she finally said "okay."

My words came tripping over themselves. I hated the way I stuttered when I tried to get my thoughts out. "I know that we're just friends, but it sometimes doesn't feel that way, you know? And I was hoping that one day that one day you'd realize that I'd be the one to be able to make you happy. I feel like I can be the one to be able to do that."

I couldn't hear anything on the other end of the line. I cleared my throat and continued, "I guess what I want to say is that I hope you realize I'm better at the end of the day." I knew that I had crossed a line that I couldn't come back from.

I had so much more to say, but I stopped myself. There was already enough damage. I knew her answer before I started talking, I knew it before I dialed the number on my screen.

"I can't be thinking about this right now." She was trying to keep her voice light. It didn't take much to realize that she was putting on a show for the person she was with at the time. "Let's talk about this later, alright? It's nice to hear about your concerns for me, I really appreciate it."

At the end of the day, there were no big realizations. There was nothing, and the silence on the other end only further humiliating me. I had put myself out there, but for what? It was pointless.

It struck me how silent a heartbreak could be. And at the same time, heartbreak could be so deafening to the person it was happening to.

Then, I realized something. I loved and cared for her, but that feeling wasn't mutual, to say the least. Maybe the word "love" wouldn't be appropriate to the situation. Maybe it was just an infatuation.
I shut off my phone, closed my eyes, and attempted to get to sleep. I hoped that when I wake up everything would be better.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Missed Opportunities



My first adventure towards dating in college was through this online chatroom. To summarize how this website worked, it was basically a chatroom where you could chat with the profile that you liked. Basically anyone could put personal descriptions on the home page, and if you liked someone based on her description of herself, you could just shoot her a message. If she accepted your chat request, then the two of you can chat privately. If the two of you agree that you liked each other, the next step would be trading pictures, and then finally make plans to meet in real life.

I talked to and met a few girls on this chatroom. Electronically at least. I wasn't really ready for an actual date yet. But talking to people online eased me into this process.

I remember a few weeks into this I met a girl named Laura. She seemed really interesting. We both liked the same things, so we ended up talking for hours on end. After maybe four or five hours, she asked if it was okay to call me. I was hesitant, but ended up agreeing. I gave her my number.

She was just as good with conversation over the phone as she was online. I found her very easy to talk to. After a while we bonded over appreciation over dystopian novels such as The Hunger Games and movies such as V for Vendetta. As a "sort of" date, I thought it went pretty well.

She then asked me to ask if I wanted to meet her in person. I knew this was coming sooner or later, but it still felt like a surprise. I didn't know what to say, so I stayed silent. I could hear the worry in her voice when she asked if I was okay. I told her everything was fine. Then I told her that I'd think about it.

We then hung up on that note. It was late, and we both had very busy schedules the next day.

 I texted her the next day saying yes to meeting in person. She said that was great, and we could meet at the Starbucks near campus.

I spent the entire day worrying about meeting her. There were a lot of things that were going through my mind. What if she ends up not liking me? What if I'm too ugly? What if she's ugly? What if I come across someone that I know when I'm with her? What if the date goes sideways? What do I even wear to a completely casual date?

I decided to take a nap to calm my nerves, but I couldn't actually fall asleep. I flipped through my phone for two hours instead.

Ten minutes before we were supposed to meet, I made a decision to not go to the date. I was too nervous. I closed my eyes to try to go to sleep. I still couldn't drift off.

I heard my phone vibrate. Then again. Then there were several rings. I never bothered answering. I deleted her messages without reading them. I already knew what she had to say. I was ashamed, but I was more angry than anything. I was acting like an asshole. I hated myself for doing what I did.

After that there was a voice in my head that told me that I would be alone forever. I was too scared to take a chance with someone. Maybe it would be better if I just lived my life alone so that I would not hurt anyone with my cowardice.

Later, I told one of my friends about what happened. She told me that it was alright, and that there would always be another girl who wanted to be with me. I agreed. Then I thought about the real problems that was bothering me. I couldn't put it in words. I knew that saying it out loud would make my thoughts a reality. But that thought was insistent to make itself known. "What if no one wants me?"

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Loneliness



One morning I was sitting alone in a Starbucks, eating a doughnut with a frappuccino with too much whipped cream on it (just as I liked it). I watched cars move on the street, my eyes passing over the top of my drink and onto the parking lot. Pretty soon, my mind wanders to random thoughts, and my mental direction goes to places that are usually reserved for when I'm engaged with people I enjoy talking to. Tired after finishing finals but at the same time buzzing with the energy provided by caffeine, my thoughts were allowed to roam freely, and the end result usually happen to be both unusual and surprising.

It is at times like these where I don't understand why most people are afraid to be alone. It's in moments like these, perhaps, when they are forced to confront themselves in conversation, that they also have to confront something in their lives that they do not want to face. Believe me, I have several parts of my life that I would not like to confront, but that does not stop me from enjoying moments like these. For others, maybe loneliness is an emotion that they feel like they must overcome by making scheduled appointments with everyone else in their life, faked enthusiasm for events they have no interest in, all in the name of trying not to be alone. Maybe they are afraid because they equate loneliness with darkness.

But in my experience, this darkness can also be a friend. It's not always like that, sometimes this darkness can try to bury you and it can be very hard to find your way back to the light. But I'm always grateful for the moments where I can engage in moments with myself that usually cannot happen until we have dealt with our loneliness. Through this feeling, I've discovered so much of myself that I would not have discovered otherwise.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A Conversation Between Friends


"So you think I'm in love?"

"I didn't say it like that. But I was just teasing."

"Okay, seriously what do you think?"

"It's not my place to say anything. It's your decision at the end of the day."

"I know, but I also want to know what you think."

"No you don't. You just want me to confirm what you believe so you can feel better about yourself."

"So you think my emotions are easy to read?"

"Girl, please. I've known you since what, we were five? I could read you as if you were a book. Even if I met you an hour ago, I could still tell if something was up."

"That's debatable. I'm not that transparent."

"Okay, let's get down with examples. Take the girl you were talking to before. You act like you no longer care who she's with, but really, you're still hurt that she didn't fall in love with you."

"That's incorrect."

"I don't believe you."

"The only reason why I acted like I didn't care was because I thought it was hard to be friends and have romantic feelings. I felt like I could only choose one."

"Yeah, it can get hard sometimes to draw the line. But it doesn't change the fact that you were hurt when she started seeing someone else. You always seem to want to exude this cool, chill persona, as if no one can hurt your feelings. And that's fine, it's a way of living life. I'm just saying that you don't have to pretend when you're with me. Or even if you decide to pretend, just accept the fact that I know how you're feeling, even if I don't say anything.

Also, I know how it feels when someone doesn't pick you. Having feelings for anyone that's not reciprocated hurts like hell. But even though I sort of understand why you feel the need to lie, there's no need with me."

(a period of silence)

"I hate it when you word situations like that."

"Haha. You know you love me. You just know when I'm telling the truth."

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Open Letter to a Friend



I don't remember how we met. It was definitely in elementary school, but other than faded memories of you running around at school, but other than that, I don't remember much else. You had long golden hair, much longer than it is now, which always seemed to get in your face when you ran from one classroom to the next. From what I remember, you were a bit arrogant. Even at five years old, you knew your self worth.

I don't think we were friends back then, though we would tell people we were because our parents told us to be nice. I was extremely reserved, and you were extremely outgoing. Sure, we talked to each other occasionally, and probably played together, but we were never "friends". At the time, I don't think it could have worked anyway, we were too different.

I grew up nerdy and with extreme self-image issues, which were masked by self-deprecating jokes that I threw out as a defense mechanism. (Even then, I had a talent for insulting myself). It was unsurprising that you grew to be a social butterfly.

There was this one memory that I have, of you coming out at the ripe age of eleven. This was particularly funny now that I look back at it because when you had accepted who you were as a person, I had no idea of the person I was. I thought it was great that you managed to surprise the school, even the teachers, into accepting who you were. It was an achievement.

And this triggered something in me. I couldn't exactly point to what it was at the time, or maybe I didn't want to, because to admit the truth would mean facing truths that I was not ready to accept yet. Maybe it was envy, envy of your ability to not give a damn about what others thought of you. Your ability to be happy with who you were.

I remember feeling very envious of you. I couldn’t admit it to myself at the time, or I didn’t want to, because to admit it meant accepting a few truths about myself I wasn’t ready to confront yet.  And looking back, I realize that that was precisely what I felt envious about. Your ability to be happy with who you were.

It's not as easy as people think it is, being happy. Sometimes it takes a lot of bravery.
We started talking more at a dark time in my life. I had just lost my friend, and I was struggling with self loathing and depression, and you were still yourself: outgoing, confident, and most importantly, happy. Just like you have always been.

Memories of us talking about life and how you had everything to look forward to, while I didn't have faith in my future and where my life would go. It seemed like we disagreed on everything, but the fact of the matter was we felt comfortable talking to each other about things that mattered.
Our talks became an almost nightly tradition, sometimes I would look forward to it at the end of an otherwise boring day. And, in the midst of these conversations, what started as a casual friendship turned into a true friendship.

But, like most things, we changed. Our life values changed, and what relationship we had built weakened over time. The changes seemed small at first, and the gradual disintegration of our friendship barely noticeable, but it happened, and neither of us could have done anything about it.
This continued until the moment when our friendship was tested, and because of its weaknesses, it broke.

At the end of the day, I can't blame you. Your decisions are yours, and being true to yourself is the best thing. I didn't hold a grudge, just know that I am still your friend.

Sometimes I catch myself wishing that things were simpler, and that whatever problems we had can be solved by picking up our phones and talking to each other. But sometimes, it feels more complicated than that.

However, I still have hope that, given time, things will settle down and we can continue our friendship where we left off. Maybe in a few years, when our lives have progressed, we can still find space and time for each other. But even if, in this lifetime, there never comes a right time, when time and silence and growing distance erases the possibility of a friendship we could have had, the fact remains that in the twenty years that I've lived, I had met someone truly special in my life.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Dark Sky



When I was in high school, the school in the neighboring city decided to hold a dance that included students from neighboring school districts. One of my teachers had a nephew named Henry who was my age, so she asked if I could go with her nephew to the dance as his date. The thing was she didn't say the word "date", she just asked if I wanted to go.

I took a few days to think about it and ended up deciding that if I wanted to stop not being sure about my sexuality, I had to start going out on dates with guys. So I walked into her classroom and said I would go.

Things started out fine. My dad decided to drive us, so I picked Henry up at his house at 5 pm. We didn't know each other, so the ride there was extremely awkward. He tried to initiate conversation, but we both knew that we were forcing ourselves to talk. It was definitely one of the most uncomfortable situations I have ever been in.

When we got to the campus, I just sat at a table in the corner of the event. Later he joined me at the table, and we sat some more. We didn't speak this entire time. To this day, it was one of the longest nights of my life.

Fortunately, I knew some girls at the school, and they decided to come to rescue me from Henry, who was the worst date created in history. He looked like he understood. I made up a few half-hearted apologies and ran off with the group of girls. I never looked back to see if he was still there.

After meeting up with a couple of friends, I just went out by myself and stared at the various couples hanging out. I think I just felt sad more than anything. I tried to go back to Henry and sit with him, but there was no point. With my friends beckoning to me, this situation just kept getting more awkward by the minute.

So after a while, and sat down on the grass. My dad wasn't outside. I called him and he said that he'd pick me up before midnight. I still had to find a way to waste the next couple of hours.

I remember leaning back and staring into the sky, and it looked like a deep gray marble. After a while, I had a strange feeling like I was falling. I straightened back up with my heart beating quickly in my chest. I felt like I sensed loss, even though I couldn't explain it. I definitely felt lonely.

Henry and I never spoke to each other again. The few times we saw each other, we acted like we didn't know one another. It was just an uncomfortable situation all around, one of which I'm glad to never have had to repeat again.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Life and Being Lost


(1 week ago)
It was around 10 pm, and I was heading over to your apartment with three different boxes of pizza sitting in the backseat. I was only headed over at the late hour because I needed to talk, and you, being the friend that you were, said yes.
"I'm about to graduate in a few months," I say. "The main thing is, now that I'm not with my parents, I don't know what to do afterwards."
And I talked about my college life. And all the people that I've met. And how, even though all your friends say that one day you will find love, no one seems to be interested in wanting to know you romantically. And that lack of a long term relationship made that sense of loss stronger.
"I just feel so lost. It's hard to describe, but it's there."

***
(about a year ago)
My hall mate. We were talking in the common room. She had moved to college from Northern California. She just broke up with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend decided to go to an out of state college, and had told her that he could not promise monogamy, and she would not accept that. She felt alone, in a completely foreign environment, and just learned (over Instagram no less) that her ex had no trouble finding a replacement for her. Someone who was "hotter" in every sense.  She said that she found peace in the soft warmth of white wine, the cheap kinds you find in the corner of the local liquor store. As someone who used to find a similar comfort in alcohol, I could relate to her more than most.  She wanted to go home, to a safe space, but she couldn't. There was a desperate sense of loss and regret.
At times, I imagine where she is now. I hope she has found happiness. Because, I know, there are places one can find the soft warmth that one needs.
***
(3 years ago)
Summer after high school. My best friend sits across from me. I am talking about my feelings about my future, and how my parents told me that I wasn't doing enough. Tears started streaming from my eyes, tears that I did not want her to see. She held my hand, and told me that I was a fighter, and that even though I don't see it now, I am capable of getting up and fighting another day.
"You can do this," she told me. "Don't give up on me." 
***
(2 years ago)
At a Starbucks, waiting in line. When the door opens, a classmate from high school walks in. Although we didn't know each other well during that time, you walked over hugged me like a close friend.
You said, "I missed you. Because there was that one time when you made me feel important when I thought no one cared about me. Even though I have forgotten what you said to me then, I remember how special you made me feel."
You then ordered your drink and left. But I never got a chance to tell you how much that meant to me.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Coming Out



The process of "coming out" as LGBT is an extremely personal act, but of course, in many countries around the world, including the United States, it is a political one as well.

My life would honestly be much easier if I just shut up about my sexuality. If I just stop talking about how much I liked girls, or grew my hair out to an "acceptable" length for a girl, or just stopped. And to be honest, I exhibit enough heteronormative traits to pass myself off as a straight woman (if I grew my hair out of course). But whenever I think about just making my life easier and pass myself off as someone straight, I remember myself in middle school, a scrawny 12-year-old girl with braces and headgear.

I remember being bullied for being that"lesbo" or "gay". I have had the words "fag" been thrown at me. I have had food thrown in my direction at the cafeteria, and I've been thrown against the wall while walking down the hallway. I remember feeling completely and utterly alone, not daring to tell my best friend or my parents what was going on at school. Because, in my mind, being that"lesbo" meant not having any friends or people who care about you. I remember wanting to die before I let anybody find out that I wanted to spend my life with another girl instead of a guy.

As I remember my experiences before I came out, I try to be as visible as I possibly can because I know from personal experience that I would have vastly appreciated (as someone who didn't even realize I was gay) to see someone like me own her sexuality and live life that was not in denial. I would have loved to see someone live without fear of judgment from others.

So a bit of advice for the young LGBT people out there, whether you have realized your own truth yet or not: your sexuality does not own you, nor does it define you. I'm 23 now, and I've been where you are right now. I remember being scared and calling my best friend in the middle of the night and telling her that I was gay while crying and (literally) shaking with fear of how she would react. The LGBT community is blessed with some of the most creative minds in the world, but we are also bankers, athletes, lawyers, doctors, scientist, farmers, and much more. LGBT people are everywhere, and we can be anyone.
So, at the end of the day, remember this: you can be anyone you want to be. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise based off of nothing but this one trait.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

First Date



Let me tell you a story of a girl I once dated. Her name was Kristie, a part time gym instructor who worked at the gym that I went to every day. It was a date that I was definitely excited for; I found her attractive, and it seemed like she seemed nice, but apart from that, I knew nothing about her at all. For all I knew, she could be a horrible person, but again, she seemed like a pretty cool person. I texted her, and we agreed to have dinner at a local sports bar near campus.

The moment I got there, I realized that punctuality was a problem for her. Growing up, my parents taught me that punctuality was a sign of respect that you have for the people you were with. But at the end of the day, she was cute, and I figured that there was still potential for the date to lead into something that was fun for the both of us.

The moment she saw me, she immediately launched into a rant about how horrible her day at work was. This rant took a while, and set the tone for how the night went. It seemed as if she was pissed at everyone that day. I tried to be more positive, but it seemed like she wasn't about to settle down anytime soon. The conversation was by far one of the most awkward conversations I've ever been in.

While we were in the middle of pool, one of my friends texted me saying that her and her boyfriend were hanging out at another bar near campus, about 15 minutes from where we were. She asked me if I wanted to hang out. At this point, I figured that the date couldn't have gotten any worse, so I figured why not? I asked Kristie, and she said it was alright. I told her that if it was alright, I'd like to walk to the bar because I didn't want to take an Uber for a place that was so close. Kristie said it was alright, though I noticed a flicker of a scowl go over her face. I decided to ignore it, and thought I was just imagining things.

Anyway, we met with my friends, and decided to have a few drinks. Kristie seemed to still be in a pretty bad mood, and it was then that I decided to stop caring. This was a first date for crying out loud. If she didn't want to have fun, there was no point in me forcing her to have a good time.

While we were walking back, she told me that she was angry at me because first of all, I had made plans to meet with friends even though we were on a date. I responded with that was why I asked for her permission to go, and when she agreed, I took her word for it that it was alright. There was no reason for me to doubt what she said. She responded that I should have known better in the first place and that it was rude. I didn't want to argue with her, and I thought that her preaching about manners was quite ironic in this situation. But I kept my mouth shut, deciding that silence was my best option considering the circumstances.

Secondly, she said that she was mad because I forced her to walk to the other bar. I told her that I asked about that too, and when she agreed, I also took that as the truth. I didn't really know her that well, and there was no reason for me to doubt what she said. She responds with I should've known she was tired from a day of work at the gym and I should have taken that into consideration. I kept my mouth shut at this point, mostly because I wanted the date to be over and get away, but also because I knew that arguing with her would serve no purpose. The only thought I had was how difficult this date turned out to be, and for someone that I've been out with for the first time, she was acting too much like a long term girlfriend. I felt annoyed and pissed off.

This whole experience made me so angry that I wanted to swear off dating completely for a while. If she was a representative for what college girls looked like, I figured that it would be best if I waited to get out of college so I could actually find someone mature. The date was less like a date and more like babysitting a bratty 7 year old. This taught me that physical appearance can only take you so far. At some point, personality will win over, and talking to someone who never stops complaining about their lives is just torturous. Maybe I would have had a better time if she had just stopped complaining and decided to actually come out and have a good time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Not Alone



I was single when I was introduced to Maddie in an LGBT networking event on campus. I was in the middle of studying for three back-to-back finals then, and she was a business graduate student. I noticed her immediately; she was tall, with long blond hair tied into a ponytail and bright blue eyes that appeared to light up the room. I stared at her from a safe distance, and after a lot of convincing from my friend (and maybe some liquid courage) I positioned myself in her space and after introductions, we gave each other our numbers.
I saw her again later that evening (or night rather, it was around 8 or 9 pm). The friend I went with had already started to head home. Being the only familiar person left, she walked up and we talked for a while. One thing seemed to lead to another, and pretty soon I heard myself (I felt like I was having an out of body experience) inviting her to my dorm.
 She smelled really nice, that much I could remember. Anything else I don't because apparently, I fell asleep while she was talking.
(I was cramming around 300 pages of tiny text every day. I swore I was just going to close my eyes for a few seconds.)
So anyway, long story short, I woke up to a bright morning light coming through the thin university-issue curtains, and I saw her sitting across from me on my black chair a few feet away from where I was lying on the couch. I immediately realized that I had fallen asleep, and I apologized while feeling extremely embarrassed. She smiled at me and told me she didn't mind. She said that she was glad that I didn't talk that much before falling asleep.
With anyone else, I would have laughed out loud because that sounded so cheesy, but somehow she managed to pull it off. I felt like I was falling in love with her already.
I asked her if I could make her anything to eat for breakfast. She said that it was already a little past lunchtime. I checked my watch and saw that it was already 1:30pm. My face turned a bright red. This whole situation was just so mortifying.
So we walked down to her car, and headed to Tyler Mall and grabbed lunch at one of the small restaurants there. She was extremely easygoing and really charming such that the whole date (was it a date?) passed by in a very comfortable and relaxed way. It was getting fairly late in the afternoon before I realized how much time had passed without me realizing. I told her that I needed to study for my classes because midterms were right around the corner, and she said that she understood. She drove me back to my dorm and hugged me goodbye.
On the way back to my dorm, she asked me quite bluntly if what had happened between us (or not happened) was a one time deal, or if I had wanted to see if I wanted to take our date to the next level. I didn't know what to say. I didn't how to explain how to explain that she was too good for me and that I didn't feel like I deserved her. Or that even though I thought she was amazing I didn't think I wanted anything more. She was amazing, but at the time, I wasn't ready for anybody to be in my life. And after getting to know her, I didn't want to lie to her and lead her on. I didn't want to be "that person" in her life who lied to her about what I was looking for in a relationship.
And for whatever reason, I told her all of that. She said she understood.
***
I saw her again about a year later during another event campus. As things would have it, we were both still single, and she was still as pretty as I had remembered. I asked her how she was doing, and she said that her friends had asked her to move to New York to start a small business with them. She had thought about it and decided it was worth a chance. I told her that I was happy for her, and I truly was. She deserved to be happy and achieve her dreams. We talked some more, and it was as if we were old friends who hadn't seen each other in a long time, not strangers who had one date and (almost) a one night stand.
She asked me if I had come with anyone. I said that I had come with a friend, but she had left. She met with someone that she knew from another event, and they had gone somewhere else. I told Maddie that I was alone at this event, which was kind of lame and pathetic. And she told me "Of course you're not alone. You're here, with me."
I smiled at her and forced myself to looked away. To this day I'll never know how she managed to pull off these cheesy lines.
It's been almost three years since I've met Maddie, but I never saw her again. But to me, she will always be that girl who reminded me that I was not alone.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

How I Failed at College But Aced at Learning

Titles can sometimes be deceiving: I did, in fact, successfully graduate from college and get a degree. One year earlier than I expected, but not with the academic record that I wanted.

Finals: a series of tests that collectively make up around two and a half weeks of hell on earth with a rather large portion of your final grade at stake. Screw up one of these tests, and you most likely will find yourself retaking this course during the next quarter.

Now that I am successfully applying to medical school and writing up my secondary applications, I thought I would give myself some time to reflect on why I believe that even though my GPA is abysmal compared to most other applicants to medical school, I still succeeded at learning.
I could go on and on about how science courses don't come easily to me, or if I applied myself more, I would have gotten a better grade. But I would like to tell everyone about a class that I did well in, academically at least -- an upper-level political science course. The professor was young, never assigned any homework, never took attendance, and admitted in our first day in class that reading the assigned book was pretty much useless. To this day, I couldn't honestly tell you if I loved her or hated her. But I'm getting off track here.

The responsibilities that a student had to take in order to pass the class were pretty basic: one group paper, a midterm, and a five-minute group presentation that counted as a final. I found people who I knew to be responsible, so in other words, no real room for error. For our midterm, we were not only allowed two pages worth of cheat sheets, but we were also allowed to work with a partner. It may sound too good to be true, but at the time, it felt like I had scored a gold mine.

After going through all the lecture slides, flipped through the "useless" book in the library (thus saving myself $150), I started copying down the main ideas on my cheat sheet. I didn't really understand all of the concepts that I was copying down or why some concepts were more important than others, but I knew for a fact that the question "why was this event important" would never be tested on for a grade. To be honest, I copied down the ideas and promptly forgot about them until test day.

But as I looked up my grades online, I had to take a moment to laugh to myself: even though I received an A in this course, I just failed. The only thing that made my grade was an ability to manipulate the system. I didn't know what I was doing for the majority of the course. I didn't know the importance of the various figures that were in the textbook. And I definitely would not have gotten an A without copying down the concepts.

This brings me back to the title of this post -- more often than not, the grade that we receive is not indicative of the amount of material that we learned. After I let this sink in, I realized that this is not the first time that this has happened. In fact, after talking to a few friends, I realized that this is a pretty common occurrence. We will sit in these huge lecture halls without paying attention to a word that the professor is saying until it's a week before finals. Then, we will finally crack open the assigned book and spend a few restless nights cramming the subject material as best we can.
This, of course, is not indicative of every course that I took in college. I took a second-semester organic chemistry course at my local community college where the professor was fantastic. I managed to pass the class, but it was only through daily practice and several sleepless nights that I managed to do so. There were no cheat sheets, you either knew the content or you didn't.

Sadly, for most classes, there are not many great professors -- at least not in my three-year experience. Which, then begs the question: is getting a college degree worth it? It just doesn't happen often. More often, there are professors who are tenured or land themselves as the head of their department and are then content with being a mediocre professor at best. I remember watching a Youtube video of a professor who was complaining (that's putting it in a very diplomatic way) about students in his class using the test bank provided by the college to land a good grade on his tests. He said that the students (who got these tests through a legitimate service provided by a department which was funded directly by the university) should be sent to the dean's office for academic dishonesty. I had to pause the video and take a moment to laugh at this man's ignorance. This man -- who's getting paid more than $100k a year to teach a few classes per week -- is complaining about having to work harder for his money whereas there are students who are honestly drowning in student loans.

So instead of using the sixty or so questions from the textbook (which I assume he didn't have to buy or even know how much it costs) he now has to choose between two options:
  • A) Actually coming up with a list of questions that he wrote on his own time using his "intelligence" as a professor
  • B) Continue using the test bank and be angry at students who know how to use the resources provided to them by the university
In my opinion, he can think what he wants, but the fact that these students know to use what resources are available to them shows a lot more character than his little temper tantrum.
This brings me back to this massive question that I have been asking myself for the past few years: what do grades mean anyway? This is a scary thought, especially since my parents had paid quite the pretty penny to send me through school. I keep thinking about all the money that went into renting me out a dorm room in college, and how that money essentially became wasted in the seemingly endless bureaucracy that clogs up our college experience.

I realize that my thoughts of choosing "pointless" classes that I feel will never help me in real life is a common experience amongst students across the United States. Sometimes I think (or maybe it's coming from being young and inexperienced) that I would have been better off majoring in something like Sociology or English, something that didn't require pure memorization or knowing how to work an equation. Sure, these majors are not as "competitive" in the workforce, but I know for a fact that I would have gotten a higher GPA if I had majored in a "soft" humanities subject.

Whenever I ask my mom about what the point of all these classes are, she simply tells me that loving what you do and doing what pays the bills are usually two completely separate things. Even though this is incredibly annoying, it's also an extremely accurate statement. As much as I hate to admit it, she was right. As controversial as this is, choosing a major that will get you a steady (or very good) job is typically more "useful" than studying something that you "love" but won't pay you a dime. That's not to say you shouldn't follow your passions, far from it. But the reality of graduation is this -- how will you survive in the real world when all hiring managers have to go on is a resume?

I know that this post most likely sounds like me complaining about how I should have done things differently when I was an undergrad (and a little bit of this post is). But I don't believe I am alone in the sense that I felt that the majority of the classes I took were of little consequence to me. I can't possibly be alone in thinking that just because someone has a higher GPA, it means that they are somehow better qualified for a job. I have met many people who are considered successful but don't have a fancy degree from an upscale university. Again: is having a degree worth it? Or is it just another piece of paper?

So what's the point of this rather long post? I guess my point is that my core belief of numbers (birth year, SAT scores, GPAs, etc) are not the full measure of ability, intelligence, or knowledge of subject material. Sure, they're a good measure of what you may have learned, but it's finite. I remember a class where I got low B's on all of the tests, but I went to class every day and got "extra credit" points just for being there. I ended up getting a high A based off nothing else but the "credit" in the class. So, what grade did I really deserve? I honestly couldn't tell you.

So the next time you look at a B grade (or lower), ask something of yourself: is it better to receive an A and walk out remembering next to nothing or receive that B and walk away having learned something? If you ask me, I would rather have had learned something than get a "good" grade and remember next to nothing about my class.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Masks That We Wear


I was in a club in West Hollywood with my friend Allison, looking down from a balcony at the large group of people dancing on the main floor. Allison was not in a good mood, mainly because her boss was giving her a hard time. When she was in a bad mood, she tended to rant.

"Look at them. It's so gross."
Raising my eyebrows, I looked at her and asked, "What do you mean?"
"Everyone is fake. They're all just pretending down there."
"Pretending? I still don't understand."

"Fake. Pretentious. Example: look at that dude over there." She pointed at a guy wearing a thin tie dancing on a table on the right side of the dance floor. "I'm pretty sure when it's not the weekend, he's hauling ass at a minimum wage job who probably had to save up a week's worth of money just to afford to be in here. But look at him! He acts like he's the coolest guy in here. It's just so annoying."

"I'm sure he just wants to have fun. Besides, we don't know his history."

"Of course he isn't. Just look at him. That annoying posture. That fake swagger. He acts like he's a gift from God."
  
I didn't really know how to respond, so I decided to keep quiet. 
"Look, here's my theory. A lot of people who act cool, composed, and perfect, both here and on social media tend to be such losers out in the real world."
She now had my full attention. I looked at her seriously this time, trying to see if she actually believed what she was saying.
"That's what frustrates me so much. Why we wear the masks that we do."
"We all wear masks to some degree Ally. You should know that better than anyone else here. Hell, your job is to make people look better than they really are. I believe that you call that advertising or something. But here, in the real world, we would call that lying."
"Haha, Gina. I don't know how to respond to that because there is some truth. But here's the thing, it's one thing to wear a mask and know that it's not your true self, and really it's quite another when you start to believe your mask is the real thing."
"That's true. But the thing is, I think we all need to wear masks for our own reasons sometimes."

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Family


A few weeks ago I had dinner with a few friends, most of whom I haven't seen in a long while. To put into context: I used to see them at least once a week, and this time around I haven't seen them in a couple of months. I missed them very much. They were practically my family when I was in college.

 The idea of what a family means has always been interesting, in the sense that it implies so much: love and responsibility, affection towards one another. Parents. Perhaps children. And we hold the ideal of a family like a shield against everything else; that is to say, we assume that family members are not capable of hating one another, or not be responsible, or that it requires two parents instead of just one, right along a lot of other notions that we associate with the word "family". So many people are surprised, or even angry, when a family does not resemble their ideals. A family is supposed to look like this you say, because families just are supposed to be like this. People say this as if all families are supposed to be cut from the same cloth. People say this like families cannot be as different as the people who make them.
But what about the other kinds of families? The families that you create when the one that you were born into are too busy, or just don't care to spend time. The standards that we place aren't the same, because they're not our real family. But what does a real family  mean?

For many people who are naturally inclined for something else, and being pressured by society to be similar to everyone around them, they are chained, and rebel because they feel as if they have no choice in the matter. Some people are quiet about it, fearing the consequences of being different. Some do it loudly, putting a finger out to what the world may think about them. And there are those who choose to simply live, and hope that no one bothers them and they can be left in peace.
In a sense, we are all different (hopefully not in fundamental qualities like love or a capacity to care for others) because of the lives we live. Many of us have an ideal of what the term family means, but what reality is tends to fall short of the ideals most people set forth. It's the same with everything in life, I think. We start out with an ideal, and when reality sets in it always surprises us when the person or object that we idealized falls short of our expectations.

When I was growing up, I always felt like there was something different about me. I couldn't put a finger on what it was, but I always thought that I needed to fit in to whatever image other people expected me to be. I was taller than many of my peers growing up, so I hadto play a sport. I was a girl, so I hadto be attracted to guys. I was Asian, so I hadto do better at school so my mom could tell other families in the neighborhood my grades. All these chains that held me down chafed at me, and the endless barrage of what was expected of me morphed into resentment towards my parents, some drinking problems, a sense of having to prove myself to the world, and a lot of anger. All these expectations and the feeling of never living up to what my parents wanted led me to seek approval in all the wrong places.
  
But who knows where I would be if these expectations weren't there in the first place.
Tying all this back to what a family means, it blows my mind that we put so much pressure both on ourselves and on each other to fit an ideal that we made up in our heads of what a "family" means. This isn't to say that there's something wrong with a family that does fit the traditional ideals of being loving and compassionate to each other; all I'm saying is that if we broaden our minds a bit, maybe we can at least believe to a degree that all a real family needs is to be loving and caring towards one another. Maybe nothing else is needed. In other words, why should the concept of a family be tied down to a few superficial standards?

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

This Way, Not That: A Letter to My Mom


I remember sitting in the car with you, and you were talking about my future, and how you wanted me to be this way, not that. What you meant by these phrases, you never fully explained, but I remember you putting your point across by flipping your hand back and forth. And that flip-flop of your hand spoke louder than words to me, because in that one clumsy gesture with the flick of your wrist, you summarized to me what it meant to be gay.

And I remember feeling awful for both of us, and how difficult it must have been for you to even broach this subject considering the fact that you couldn't even say the word out loud. So instead of saying it, you flipped your hand over and over again, knowing that I would know what you were talking about, because I knew where you were going with this conversation, and because I knew your daughter.

Maybe you couldn't say the word out loud because saying them would make it true. And I know that to this day, you want so much for the opposite to be true. Maybe you regret ever bringing the topic up in the first place, like ignoring the problem would have kept the issue away.

I also remember not knowing what to say, or whether or not I should lie to you, someone that I've never lied to before.

So I decided to say nothing. As you were talking, I wanted to hold your hand and say to you that your daughter would turn out to be more than just okay, she is a caring, decent, thoughtful human who is in the process of possibly becoming a fine adult, and that this, the word that you couldn't even make yourself say, it doesn't matter because it shouldn't matter. In the grand scheme of things, it is a defining attribute but is also the least important attribute your daughter has been blessed with.

And I also wanted to say that I know you are worried about her because she lives in a society where there are people who would think of her as abnormal and weird, for something that she has no control over and that differentiates her from the majority of the population. And that worry you have only comes from your love, but that it doesn't change the fact that your daughter would rather have you support her because, at the end of it all, it is only when she accepts herself for who she is, and when the people she loves accepts her, will she be truly happy with her life.

And I wanted to say that you did not make a mistake with parenting, that you did not do something "wrong" to make your daughter feel "that way" about girls, and that she is simply who she is.

But instead, I remained silent. Because, to this day, you would rather believe a lie than to hear the truth about your own child. Your only child.

And so we continue to live our lives, my thoughts a blur, you in your seat worrying what you did wrong to make your daughter go "wrong". Yes, the world can be a terrifying place to live in, but it is even more so when the people who claim to love you the most are the first to reject you for the person you are.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Being Preppy



The word "preppy" means different things to different people. But what image comes to mind when the word is said?

Do you think of someone who is well off, dressed in pastel colors, with gelled hair? The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes the word as "Someone who dresses or acts like a student at a prep school (such as by wearing neat, somewhat formal clothing or by using particular words and phrases)".

Since starting college, I've been looking into switching up my style. After two and a half years, I felt as if I had found the style that fitted my personality. In the past year or so, I've described myself as being preppy, not only in terms of dress but also in the morals that I believed in. To me, being preppy meant setting yourself to a higher standard and putting yourself second, if not third. I guess I've always had these inner standards. It just took time for my outer self to match my inner one.

In many ways, I see being preppy as being respectful of traditions and history. It is being respectful of where you come from, and the belief that just because something is new does not mean it's necessarily better. But most of all, being preppy means embodying charity, compassion, and the desire to help others without wanting something in return.

However, this leads me to what we see online: Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest. What do we see when we type up "preppy"? We see guys with monogrammed polo shirts posing in front of "their"sports cars that their parents paid for, girls lying on beaches sipping on some tropical drink. In short, we see people with backgrounds of privilege, affluence, and the attitude of getting more than what your neighbor has.

How about all the other things that are behind these pictures? Is being preppy having a closet stuffed with clothes and accessories? Or having money/property passed down from generation to generation instead of having a work-hard ethic to get where you are? Is that what preppy means?

There may be an endless number of attributes to what being preppy means, but at the end of the day, what does it all mean?

Am I guilty of playing into this trope of wanting to be preppy? Of course -- but who isn't? In the past 20 years or so (or should I say in the last 2-3 years), I've definitely tried to fit in, materialistically at least. In the attempt to find my own style, I had lost myself in a cycle of consumerism.

In short, it seems as if being preppy is not what it used to be. The word has been photoshopped, filtered, and edited to the point where the word has more extrinsic meaning than it does intrinsic. However, this doesn't mean that I don't respect the term --I did at one point in time, but it's been changed to the point where it's hard for me to find any part of the word that still relates to who I am today.

And what does this mean for me? I can't give you a clear answer. Based on how the term "preppy" is defined by pop culture, I definitely do not fit this definition, and I don't want to. I don't go on vacation in Southampton. I don't come from a rich background, nor do I have a plush bank account. My parents were foreigners from China. And my style of dress? It's a mix of everything.

So if there's one thing that you take away from this post, it's this: large brand names, big houses, and fast cars doesn't make a person better than the next. The best style is being true to who you are. At the end of the day, each one of us will be remembered for the kind of people we were, not what possessions we had.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Performance Art



I'll put this out there: I'm not good with kids. If you leave me around with a kid for more than half an hour, that is a minor inconvenience to me. If you leave two kids or more with me, then you either hate your kids or you hate me.
Don't get me wrong, I love kids. I really do, it's just that I'm not good at dealing with them in a mature manner. I'd make the worst parent because I don't have the nerve to say "no" to them or do what has to be done. And speaking of that, teenagers? Don't even go there with me. If you think I'm bad with little kids you should see me try to deal with a teenager. It's a joke.

But kids are great when they're supervised by their parents or if they are with a nanny. In that situation, they can be pretty entertaining and I can put up with them. Put that kid in a public situation with people they don't know and you get double the entertainment. That's your entertainment for the night.

Marina Abramovic once said that performance art was all about context and that the context of what you do is different in a museum than out in the real world. For example, if you bake bread in a museum, it is considered art, but if you do the same exact thing at home, you're just baking bread. Children have no sense of what "context" really means, which makes them the best performance artists in the world.

I was running around the track with the kid of one of my friends when she says to me "My mom told me that you're different from other people.""I...uh...hmmm." "She says it's okay to be gay. Are you single?""I....um.......no...uh."

I have another theory. I once read some commentary about what art should mean (I read this in a required reading for one of the classes that I took while in college). The author, who was quite prominent in the art community in San Francisco, said that "good" art should be disruptive; in other words, the goal of "good" art should disrupt people's perceived idea of what "reality" means to them. I wanted to see if the author had kids because if that was true, then kids would fulfill that purpose to a T.

To back this up, I would like to bring up an example. I was celebrating my birthday with a few friends in West Hollywood. I have friends of all ages: those old enough to be my parents to those just entering college. One of my friends brought her two children with her: one son and one daughter: the son was two years old and the daughter was 7 months. If there were ever an embodiment of hyperactive energy and restlessness, it was these two children. In the restaurant that we were in, there were several other large tables with people focused on their own events.

 Now, the two-year-old boy decided he wanted to run around all over, and my friend, after half an hour of running after him and trying to get him to settle down, gave up and thought that it would be best to just let him run until he was tired. This situation was already bad enough, but then the 7-month-old little girl decided that this would be an appropriate place to practice these bloodcurdling screams that she was passing off as human conversation. It felt excruciating. My friend tried to have her stop but this kid just wouldn't stop screaming. When I looked over at the other table I saw the disapproving stare of a teen. I gave her a fake smile and pretended that having a screaming kid at your lunch table was the most normal thing possible. Disruptive indeed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Trading Up



Over coffee in a popular part of town in downtown Arcadia, Madison told me a story that touched on an aspect of dating which those of us who have been around the dating game for a bit could probably relate to. This story revolved around another friend of hers named Abby, who we viewed as a successful person (or at least as successful as you can be for someone who just graduated college). She, like so many of us, was looking for the love of her life. At some point, she was going out with someone by the name of Jonathon. From the looks of everything, it seemed as if they got along great; their personalities seemed to match, and they enjoyed being around one another. In terms of the relationship itself, or at least how they talked to and behaved around one another, it seemed like they didn't have any problems.

In terms of problems, the only one they had was that everyone around them thought that Jonathon was not in Abby's league. He wasn't particularly handsome, or motivated, or blessed with a natural talent that could have made up for everything that was average. In short, he was average in every sense of the word. Abby's friends didn't know why she was dating him, and apart from the fact that she liked Jonathon, it seemed as if Abby had no idea why she was dating him either. But because she tends to listen to her friends' input and opinions on who she dates, and also because she felt as if what they were saying had logical reasons, she decided to break up with Jonathon. It wasn't a nasty breakup, but Jonathon still had his heart broken.

A few months later, Abby heard that Jonathon had moved on and was dating another girl named Shavan. Shavan was a popular girl who was even more successful, better looking, and seemingly had a wealthier background than Abby. Abby couldn't comprehend what had happened. The main reason why Abby broke up with Jonathon in the first place was because she felt as if she needed to "be better" so to speak, and in the most ironic twist, Abby was left alone while Jonathon was the one who traded up. To her, the whole situation was confusing.

 This story was particularly interesting to me because when I was still desperate to date someone, I would always fall into this cycle. I was never truly satisfied with the person I was with, and therefore I always kept an eye on a possible person who was "better" than the person who I was currently dating. Here's what I learned from my past in this regard: that's the worst possible way to go about dating people. It's not fair for either party. It's exceptionally superficial, and doesn't get to the heart of what dating should be about, which is being with someone who you truly care about. You can either love someone or not. If too much value is put in superficial things, thinking that there is only a group of very specific people you can date or can have a possibility of falling in love with, it seems to limiting and unnecessary. From my experience, it seems that falling in love with someone (or "liking" them) is more often than not a tricky thing. It's often better to accept these feelings as a gift rather than look for problems in the other person.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

What's In A Name?



A few days ago I was walking through the mall when I heard my name being called by a voice I didn't recognize. At first, I thought it was directed at someone else, but I turned around and I saw a guy walking towards me with his hand extended. I shook it and realized that he seemed to know me but I couldn't remember meeting him.

There are people out there who are good at remembering names but not faces? And those who are good at remembering faces but not names? Well, I'm good at neither. I'm one of those unfortunate people who are bad at both. Which is not good for someone who is socially awkward in most situations (namely, me). I'm bad at small talk with people I don't really know, and adding the fact that I needed to pretend I knew someone just contributed to the mess.

Unfortunately, situations like this have become something of a regular occurrence in my life. I'd meet someone who I could not recognize, and they'd talk to me about a conversation or event that we had together with such detail that I knew I was going to be a rude prick if, in the middle of the conversation, I suddenly asked how I knew them. So, me trying to avoid confrontation at all costs, would usually just stand around and nod hoping that our conversation would end soon and that the other person would not realize that I was only pretending to remember who they were for the past half hour.

And soon, I realized, this kind of behavior is a mistake. Here's why I think so: in a conversation, there's a window of opportunity when someone can ask the other their name and how they know each other, without coming off as rude. This window is definitely within the first five minutes. After 15-20 minutes, it might come off as strange, but you can still do it. But after the conversation is over, this opportunity is out the window, as they say. This will make the next conversation not only very awkward but if you ask their name, they will be very humiliated and you will be an asshole.

This is why now, particularly after starting college, I have quite a few acquaintances who I bump into often whose names I don't know, but recognize because I know they are the people whose names escape me. There are some "mutual friends" that I hang out with, and who I sincerely hope never realize that I don't even know what their name is. Sometimes I'll give them a nickname to compensate. "Oh gosh, it's that banana costume dude. I need to look as if I forgot something in my bag so it looks like I didn't see him and I'm not ignoring him; it's just I'm really busy looking for something super important in my bag."

So going back to my mall story, I was standing there very awkwardly, hoping that I could find my way out of the conversation before he realized that I just wanted a way out of talking to him. I figured that I'd listen to him for a few more minutes before I excused myself and pretended I was meeting someone.

All this was going as planned until one of my friends walked along and joined our conversation. The polite thing, of course, would be to introduce them, and I would have done that, except the only problem was that you can't really introduce your friend to someone you don't really know, and that person was talking to you assuming that you knew who they were this whole time.

So of course, there was a moment of silence. I have never been stuck in a more awkward position. I was standing there looking at both of them like an idiot because I knew they were both waiting for me to introduce them. After another period of silence, I just decided to take a risk and introduce them.
"Hey, so this is my friend Mark." I just pulled a name out of a hat and hoped that I was correct in my guesswork. "Peter? Are you sure? You look like a Mike," I might have added.

Another period of silence. Then the guy looked at the ground, smiled, and introduced himself. I forced a smile back, and tried to look as if I knew his name the whole time, and that I just didn't know how to make a good introduction. Which I realize makes me look rude and incompetent at understanding social cues. Apparently, there is no winning option.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

My Philosophy



As many of you may know, I've been visiting a lot of blogs lately. To be honest this experience has been both interesting and harrowing in its own way. I see people who are depressed, happy, or more often a bit of both. Most of these posts are boring, mainly because I can somehow feel that this person was not being true to the audience. That they were somehow lying to their audience.

With the year (about) that I have been blog-hopping, I have discovered something cool. Every blog is different in its own special way, but there is one main ideology behind each successful one. The way to really connect with someone is to really be honest about how you feel. The more you connect to the reader, the more they will enjoy reading your post, no matter what. 



Anyone can be a good writer. A good writer is constituted as having good grammar, good mechanics, nice structure. But that doesn't attract people. It's not what strikes people in the heart. People get honesty because they can emphasize with it. Good writing can definitely get you somewhere, but honesty really gets you to the point where you want to be in your writing.

And that is probably why I keep looking at blogs even though I'm so busy with other areas of life (classes, finding a job, etc). Sure, there's a lot of people with bad writing out there, but if there's honesty, there's something to be learned. It teaches everybody a lesson.

So this is my point. If I can express something that other people can just feel in them, then I believe I have succeeded. We all live in the same world, and I feel that my world is pretty much the same as yours. We're all the same, even though we give each other all of these labels to show how we are somehow "different". All of these differences are not important. Inside, we are the same person. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Why You Should Date A Writer



"Why would I date a writer?", you ask. You should date a writer because she will write about everything. She'll write about the things that you did together, or the things that she wishes you've done. She will write about the time you held her hand at Starbucks, and how warm she felt for the rest of the day. She will write about how, during a mellow summer evening when the two of you just started dating, you asked her to reach for something in the cabinet, and when she gave it to you, you looked at her with such intensity. And that's when she realized she had already fallen in love with you.


You should date a writer. You should date a writer because she will write about everything. She will write about how you look in the morning, and how you were so beautiful even when you were sleeping. She will write in great detail of your lives together, and her words will make ordinary events sound like music.

You should date a writer. You should date a writer because she will write about everything. She will write about how she was tired, but she stayed up anyway to talk to you because you asked her. Or that time where she really wanted to keep talking to you, but you said no. She will write about how you broke her heart when you said that "It's all for the best", and of how you no longer wanted to work on the relationship.

But you will also learn about how she fixed your door before you came back home because she wanted you to feel safe after having your house broken into. Or about the time she tried making you breakfast in bed, burning herself in the process, and had to throw away the food on multiple occasions because she wanted everything to be perfect. Or about the time when she woke up at 4 in the morning to get your favorite flowers from the farmers market because she couldn't afford the ones they sold at the mall and she knew how happy they make you.

Or about the time when you were sick, and she came by to see if you were okay. It was raining really hard out, and it was dark, so she didn't see the slippery part of the sidewalk and she slipped. She won't tell you how she twisted her ankle and the taste in her mouth as she laid on the sidewalk. Or how she limped all the way to your place. She had a key to your apartment, and there were no words to describe how good it felt to enter your place unannounced. She will tell you how, after she made sure you were safe, she limped back home. She shook from the wind but felt safe because you were.
You will learn that when she first told you that she loved you, she had never felt so relieved and scared at the same time. And when you said that you loved her back, it sounded like a promise she did not dare believe.

You should date a writer. You should date a writer because she will write about everything. She will write about the promises of love, and how she will always love you even if you didn't love her anymore.

Inspired by "Never Date a Writer" -- xstephens (Redbubble)