Hey, how’s it going? I hope you had a lovely holiday and are doing your best resting and attempt to transform into your couch. I’ve certainly put aside my usual productive goals for the month to do just that.
I did recently begin dabbling in poetry, though. I wrote this one earlier this week — what do you think?
And in lieu of new recommendations, I’ve put together all the recommendations previously mentioned this year. You can click on the month below to get more context and reason behind the recommendation through the past issues.
As I’ve said before, the best part of writing Dear Friend, isn’t the content itself, but rather its invitation to hear from you. Collectively, this year I was blessed to learn about your new business venture, your family drama, your coming out, your imaginary vacation, your road trip, and your everyday hustle.
Through your replies I could sense your anxiety, invisibility, resilience, hope, and joy. Whether we’re miles apart or unheard in years, thank you so much for sharing with me. I’m glad this newsletter can connect us together, and along with your stories to show that we belong and matter.
And that about wraps it up for 2021! I hope you’ve enjoyed my newsletter this year and were able to find some relief, if not amusement from it. As always, please let me know what you’ve been up to — it serious makes my day 🙂
Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.
Hey, how’s it going? I hope you had a great Thanksgiving 🦃 and are looking forward to the holidays right around the corner. November is Birthday month for me and this year’s been pretty chill due to everyone’s schedule. That said, it’s still great to have a couple friends drop by to wish me a Happy Birthday IRL.
Here are the things I did this month:
I ran 42.08 miles (average 4.21 miles per run), down from 42.45 from October.
I finally bought an Asian Art Museum membership! It’s been on my wishlist for a minute to find a meaningful way to support the AAPI community.
Animal Crossing released a big 2.0 update and has once again sucked up a huge part of my morning routine.
I meditated 13 days in October, with an average time of 21 minutes per session (blame Animal Crossing!)
Here are some photos I took in November. (Link expires in a month)
Couple friends dropped by to say HBD and Thanksgiving with family, but that’s about it. Anybody around for December?
Here are the things I enjoyed and would recommend this month:
📺 TV: Dickinson (Apple TV+): While everyone’s on the Ted Lasso train, I’ve been in love with Dickinson from the very beginning. The show is about Emily Dickinson, sure, but it’s moreso the things happening in her world during her time that truly captivates me. From women’s suffrage to slavery to the Civil War, this 27-episode series wobbles from weird to woke from one episode to another — all while showcasing how modern women could be given the limitations during this time period. Wild nights, indeed!
🎤 Podcast: Invisibilia (Apple Podcast): The latest season is about Friendships and all its expectations, implications, and ambiguities with those who we call our friends. Whether it’s the pandemic or just getting older, I’ve been finding it increasingly challenging to build and maintain friendships these days. So it’s been comforting to hear from others’ unique experiences with their friends — from getting ghosted, to making friends under the vow of silence, to going to therapy with friends and of course, to exploring Friends With Benefits. Friendships can be so vague and ill-defined, yet it bond us all together such meaningful ways.
📗 Book: Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Goodreads): So here’s the thing, I didn’t love this rom-com of a book for its plot or character developments. But for me it was very refreshing, almost in a foreign way, to read a book with LGBTQ characters and seeing them just experience gay joy without compromise. Unlike most of the LGBTQ media I grew up with, there’s no plot lines related to suicides, AIDS, drugs, family abandonment, or gay trauma or any kind; instead this book is just a rom-com story about two characters that happened to be queer. It’s a marker that I’m from another time and perhaps wow, we’ve indeed arrived.
🎧 Music: Long Ambients by Moby (Apple Music): So this recommendation is less about my love for it than how it helped me recently. For whatever reason, I’m again having sleeping issues and this playlist (comprise of both of his Long Ambients albums) has been part of my remedy. Apparently, Moby also has sleep issues and couldn’t find any music that would help him go back to sleep, so he made his own. He made two albums and I combined them into an Apple Music playlist here.
My next book will be A Little Hope by Ethan Joella, recommended by Book of the Month Club (a bday gift from my friend Rebecca). Please reply and LMK if you have a book recommendation for me! I’m currently trying to read more fiction.
And that’s about it for the month of November! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. How are you doing? It’s kinda sad I had mentioned “With Covid calming down…” last month only to see there’s a new Omicron variant in the horizon. Stay healthy and safe, and have a great holiday in December! Let me know what you’ve been up to please — it seriously makes my day 🙂
Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.
Hey, how’s it going? Happy Halloween 🎃! October was a pretty productive month for me, as I finally had my annual physical appointment and restarted my meditation routine. It’s been nice to set time aside to just sit still to let thoughts flow through like a rushing stream, while actively practicing calm, focus, and kindness.
Here are the things I did this month:
I ran 42.45 miles (average 4.25 miles per run), down from 44.32 from September
I meditated 24 days in October, with an average time of 21 minutes per session
As we approach winter, I’m winding down my intermittent fasting and began having overnight oats for breakfast again. Here’s the base recipe I use before adding different toppings and flavors.
Lunch with the gang: Becky found this great park around Ocean Ave, so we met up for a quick lunch. With everyone living all around the bay with their own lives to manage, it’s getting increasingly difficult to get together these days. But when we do, it always good.
Lunch with coworkers: I don’t normally put work stuff here but our team recently launched a product that took more than a year to scope & build, so we decided to meet up for lunch and celebrated the launch like actual human beings.
Here are the things I enjoyed and would recommend this month:
(Note: I try to find and recommend more under-the-radar things, since we all know Squid Game basically took over October.)
📺 TV: The Leftovers (HBO Max) — I once jokingly refer this show as “Depression in a TV show”, but apparently that was only true in the first season. From the co-creator of Lost, The Leftovers offers more questions than answers in this 26-episode series. How would you react in the scenario where 2% of the world’s population suddenly vanished one day without any reason? Would you hope for your loved ones to return, and for how long? Would you grieve for their loss, or how do you make peace with it? Would you be afraid it’ll happen again? And how would you apply meaning to its occurrence — with rationale, religion, psychology, or something else? This series is just so beautiful and perfect for an overthinker like myself.
🎤 Podcast: Welcome to Your Fantasy (Apple Podcasts) — This 9-episode series detailed the abrupt rise and unbelievable fall of the Chippendales brand of the 1980s. Though it’s still around today, their ubiquitous fame in the 80s was filled with jealousy, corruption, and sociopathic murder attempts that more extra than the cheesy Chippendale dance routine you may have in your head. Speaking of, check out the podcast’s IG account (you’re welcome).
📗 Book: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (Goodreads) — While some of the characters and plot lines didn’t hook me right from the start (or maybe I’m just that jaded?), this book transported me into the middle of WWII in a world unknown to me. Away from the battlefields where most WWII books and movies take place, it was interesting to experience the danger of living a hidden life of resistance — all while showcasing the value of “doing what you can” when hope seemed anything but a fantasy. In a way, this book is quite relatable to today when authoritative rule and military coup is increasingly common around the world.
🎧 Music: Optimist by Finneas (Apple Music) — While Billie Elish may be the pop star of today, I’ve always been more intrigued by her lower-key, yet equally talented brother Finneas. His songs in this debut album have a good balance between folk, pop, and rock, while still sharing quite a bit of similarities to Billie. Let’s hope he doesn’t turn into another Ed Sheeran in a few years.
🎬 Movie: Wolfwalkers (Apple TV+) — The storybook-like art is so unique and far from the Disney style that we all grew up with. Apparently this movie is the studio’s third part of a “Irish Folklore Trilogy”, after Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. And fun fact — apparently the villain of this story is based on a real person, considered by some as a hero in English history.
My next book will be Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Goodreads), recommended by my friend Jessica. (Please reply and LMK if you have any recommendations for me! Especially books since I’m currently trying to read more fiction.)
After years of contemplating, my friend Eugene finally signed up for AIDS Lifecycle and will be riding 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles over 8 days in 2022. As a friend, he’s always been there for me to celebrate my highs while support me during my lows. You can read up on his training journey here and please consider donating if you can.
(Do you have something to share as well? Are you working on a project, fundraising, selling / giving things away, or otherwise just have something you want more people to know about? Please reply and LMK — would love to help spread the word. We’re all good people here :D)
And that’s about it for the month of October! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. How are you doing? With Covid getting better (at least here in the US), do you have any Thanksgiving or holiday plans this year? Let me know what you’ve been up to please — it seriously makes my day 🙂
Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.
Hey, how’s it going? September came and went, and the sunrise shifts just a bit later with each passing day. One unexpected perk — it’s been nice to see the sun rises alongside and throughout my morning runs. I still can’t believe 2021 is closing in on us, and I still haven’t had my annual PSL from Starbucks yet!
Here are the things I did this month:
I ran 44.32 miles (average 4.43 miles per run), up from 42.66 from July.
I’m trying to restart my meditation habit. With everything going on with work and the world, there is a need to actively find stillness in my life. Currently aiming for 20 minutes a day.
I’ve also been doing some light research on ebikes. My car is completely fine and the (non-Tesla) EV infrastructure is still years away from being reliable, so I’m curious to see if ebikes would be a good short/medium term solution. I’m not great at riding bikes though, so there will a learning curve involved if I do go for it.
Dinner with Shannon, Dreya, and Chris: Shannon was in town! We went to Tacolicious for dinner and for a brief moment life felt normal again.
Dinner with Livi & Lucian: Lucian was very sweet to plan a surprise dinner for Livi’s birthday. Always good to see them and their new puppy is a wild one.
Here are the things I enjoyed and would recommend this month:
🎤 Concert:HOCC Shouson Live — Denise Ho (stage name HOCC) is a entertainer in Hong Kong, whose pro-democratic views has gottened her banned in China and now increasingly censored in Hong Hong. She couldn’t book any venues (all managed and denied by the HKG government) for years, until she finally did this year with a small, indie theatre. A week before her show, the theatre cancelled on her and she had to pivot to livestreaming her concert from an undisclosed location. Her songs are all about self-empowerment and inclusivity, and her concert was touching and simply iconic. While the concert is over, you can learn more about HOCC through her TED talkas well a recent documentary about her (both in English).
🎧 Podcast:Dolly Parton’s America— While today’s America is divided at best, for years Dolly Parton has been labeled a unifier that can seemingly bring everyone together. This 9-episode series goes into her upbringing, her rise to fame, her stance on politics (or lack thereof), Dollywood, and even a college course about her!
🎵 Album:Firebird, by Natalie Imbruglia — If Lorde’s Solar Power was Summer captured into an album, then Firebird takes that same energy and extends it into fall. Her last original album was released in 2008 so it’s wonderful to finally hear her silky voice again through a new set of songs, filled to the brim with empowerment and positivity.
📺 TV: GameFace — Ian recently introduced this show to me and it carries a very similar energy as Flea Bag. Written and starred by Rosin Conaty, this 17-episode show is a hilarious, endearing journey to see Marcella stumble and her way through a series of very, FML moments.
📖 Book: Bad Muslim Discount, by Syed M. Masood — Aside from a handful of Muslim celebrities on TV, I simply don’t know anything about the Muslim identity and culture, either here in America or otherwise. Through the eyes of two protagonists from very different backgrounds, this book provided an impactful peek into their worlds. Each chapter alternates between the two characters’ perspectives as the story accelerates and converges into a fascinating read.
My next book will be The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel, recommended by my friend Becky. (Please reply and LMK if you have a book recommendation for me! I’m currently trying to read more fiction.)
Look back ⬅️:
Wins: Went to the dentist after 2+ years. Ran more than last month.
Aspiration: Improve health by schedule a dentist & physical appointment
Results: Went to a new nearby dentist on a whim, but not too sure if she’s as good as I was hoping her to be.
Pivot: Still need to schedule a physical, and want to get a new pair of glasses.
Look Forward ➡️:
Goal: Decrease time on social media, notably Facebook
Action: Setting time restriction social media
Plan: Block out evening time for reading instead
And that’s about it for the month of September! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. How are you doing? Do you have a (fiction) book recommendation for me? Let me know what you’ve been up to please — it seriously makes my day 🙂 Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.
It’s been a while since my last newsletter. Depression, amirite?
The gist was that I was feeling down (even as the world picked up for a few months until recently) and was also making some minor pivots following my 10-week life coaching journey. It’s a bit too much to plop everything down here, but I’ll be writing a blog post about it in the future.
In the mean time here’s a quick summary and reflection of what I did in the month of August, 2021.
Here are some things I did this month:
I ran 42.66 miles (average 4.27 miles per run), down from 44.6 from July
Canceled my gym membership (and then immediately went to Jollibee)
Completed a 3-month Technical Program Manager (TPM) Practitioner course (Oh thank goodness I’m done with it!)
Drinks with Rick and Becky
Coffee with Terence
Brunch with Ms Ozaki and Ka
Brunch with Dreya and Chris
Dinner with my cousin
Picnic with the homies
Here are the things I enjoyed and would recommend this month:
Podcast: Stuff British Stole by ABC. The fact that you’re reading this newsletter in the English language, by a writer born in Hong Kong now living in a country that’s not England says a lot about just how much the British had influence (and stolen) from the world.
Album: Solar Power by Lorde. Haters gonna hate because I love this album more and more with each listen.
TV: My Hero Academia. Between the theme song, recap, and next episode preview, the 22 minute show is more like a 10-minute web series. Super binge-able and enjoyable.
Book: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I like the slow-ish pacing and how it spans across four generations — and how a decision in one generation can lead to very different paths in another. I was 3/4 into this book before realizing how special Pachinko truly is.
Soft reset and completed the time-consuming TPM course.
Saw more people to expand my world
Keep track and manage my time better and find ways to uplift my world
In a recent trip to Barnes & Noble (remember those?), I was inspired to pick up the Bullet Journal Method and restarted a Bullet Journal
None, keep at it
Improve health by schedule a dentist & physical appointment
Research dentist near me that takes my insurance
Schedule physical appointment
Do this when I’m bored at my parents 🙃
And that’s about it for the month of August! It’s a bit long (as always), but what do you think of this format? I hope it’s interesting for you to read as it was nice for me to take pause and recap for the month.
And how are you doing? Please reply and let me know! (Hearing from my friends is by far the best part of writing these newsletters. 😬) Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.
Hey! How’s it going? No really, how are you? There’s a lot of pain and tragedy around the world and it’s more important that ever to stay connected with friends and family at times like these.
As for me, I’ve been better. On Instagram I’ve been seeing a lot my friends meeting up, traveling, and otherwise just catching up on life… and honestly I’m just not quite there yet. I’m happy for them though, and hopefully I’ll be in a better place once I’m fully vaccinated next month.
In the past few weeks I’ve been trying to write a list of things that brings me joy, and ended up procrastinating with something (anything) else every single time. It dawned on me just how uncomfortable and almost rusty for me to write about joy these days, yet that’s exactly why I need to work harder to better acknowledge the few good things in my life lately.
Attack on Titan: I’ve been on and off with this anime for a while, but the latest season for this show is just on another level. The latest season shines a spotlight on war, propaganda, and otherwise the many faults of humanity, and it’s especially interesting to see the parallel between this show and real historical events like the Holocaust and the ongoing China/Taiwan conflict. You can watch AoT on Hulu and Netflix.
Nancy Podcast: This podcast was cancelled last year but there is still a huge back catalogue to sift through. As heavy as some of the topics may be, this show is the epitome of queer joy and representation for me. It’s such a joyful experience to hear to queer asians talk about everyday LGBTQ topics with such positivity and realness. You can listen to Nancy on Apple Podcast, Spotify, etc.
Shang-Chi Trailer: I know it’s cliché to say “I felt seen” these days, but I didn’t know I need to see a movie where the Marvel super hero is an Asian American in San Francisco, and perhaps most importantly, not played by Scarlett Johansson.
Kiri T: This sweet-sounding girl with the spicy lyrics has been on my radar for quite some time, but her latest album is by far her spiciest – the album is even named as Chili T 🌶! She recently had a very cool socially-distance, yet immersive mini concert that’s pretty cool to watch. Almost all of her songs are in English, so be sure to check it out.
And just a lot of smaller, every day things. Ian cooking dinner for me, parents being fully vaccinated, sunflowers, Daniel Henney, running, good weather, YOASOBI, etc…
What about you? Reply and let me know what’s bringing you joy lately! I’d love to get inspirations and ideas on how to invite more joy into my life — the more the better! (Not to mention hearing from my friends is by far the best part of writing these newsletters. 😬) Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.
I have said a lot of toxic and mean things to people in the past just to feel special about myself.
I have looked down on Asian actors and artists because I didn’t think they had worked hard enough to earn my admiration.
I remember thinking my Hong Kong culture was somehow above or better than other Asian cultures.
My gaze toward men is still automatically drawn to straight-passing white dudes because for a very long time I didn’t find Asian men attractive.
With all this, I don’t think anyone had ever explicitly told me to think, feel, or act this way. No one has ever said to me “white people are better” or that I should actively doubt or devalue other people of color.
I’m not going to shift blame and say the toxic things I did or thought was not on me. In fact, as much regret as I may have now, these actions and thoughts are carved so deeply in to me that unless I can rewind time these scars will forever be part of my many imperfections.
But with that I should also mention when I was growing up in Hong Kong, the only Filipinos I ever saw were maids and the only Vietnamese people I saw TV were behind chain-linked fences.
When I moved to the US in the early 90s, there was a television show called Kung Fu starring an older white guy playing a character named Kwai Chang Caine.
Aside from that show, there simply weren’t Asian leads on network television. And when it came time to understand my own sexuality, there were no gay characters that could live through to the end of movies. (Instead they all died from drug overdose, AIDS, hate crime, or by suicide.)
Whether I was drooling at male models in GQ magazines by day or on Lycos.com searching for gay porn by night (just to be 100% certain I’m not actually… you know 💁🏽), I simply don’t recall seeing any Asian men. The skin tones of these men varied from pale to tan, and that was about it.
So despite being a living and breathing person as an Asian American, once I’d return home from school and turn on the TV it was almost like peering into another world. A world where pantsless talking cartoon ducks were more common than people who look like me; we just didn’t exist.
So did anyone really need to explicitly tell me “white people are better” when they could apparently do represent us all, be named as Kwai Chang in a show called Kung Fu? Did anyone really need to convince me that “Asian men aren’t attractive” when we were already non-existent in the media? Did anyone really need to teach me to choose my Asian alliance carefully when there would only be one “one size fit all” seat at the table for Pan-Asian representation, if there were any at all?
Yet even as I spend decades untangling my bargain basement self-esteem, internalized racism and gay trauma, I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to be a women of color.
There is a lot that can be said, but I think it’s more important than ever to listen. With the recent mass shooting in Atlanta, a couple of my friends have shared some personal stories with me that I couldn’t believe can be true, and yet these are the realities minority women are forced to live with every day.
The only thing we can do to heal, learn, and move forward is to actively listen, raise their voice, while vigilantly keeping our own imperfections in check.
Did you enjoy this issue of Dear Friend? Please reply and let me know if you have any thoughts on all this, even and especially if you disagree so we can all learn together. And please feel free to share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can subscribe to this and future newsletters below:
We’re all living in uncertainties right now, one way or another. We’re all unsure about the pandemic, our employment, our health, our relationships with those we love… the list continues as our anxiety grows.
Over the past few years, I had done my fair share of reflection and responsibility ownership through countless therapy, running, and meditation sessions. I‘ve had a lot of time to talk, think, and sit on my own thoughts with each of these sessions. Over time I created this idea to separate the idea of selves, specifically by following these three shifts in my mindset that inevitably changed my life:
Thank your past ➡️ Own your present ➡️ Prep for the future
The core idea of this is to separate your selves. Who you were yesterday is not the person who you are today, and the version of you today will be different from the person you will be in the future. There is a responsibility to acknowledge all parts of your selves:
Thank your past. Sure, you are who you are because your friends and family’s support, but it’s also because of your privilege, your luck, and of course your own hard work along the way. Before you work on your future, it’s important to show gratitude and acknowledge all the work and accomplishments from your past self for putting you where you’re at today.
Own your present. Now that you’ve shown gratitude and are mindful about your past, it’s time to let it go and move on. Owning your present means taking full responsibility and accepting your present self. Instead of blaming your current decision on your past, shift that responsibility, power, and focus to what you can do right now. You’re doing X because of Y in the past (or worse, that Y had happened to you), you’re doing X because you’re actively choosing to do so right now.
Out of the three shifts in mindset, this is the by far the most difficult one to shift into — one that I’m continuously working on. The core idea is to not give yourself an out and to believe you’re not already holding the keys to living your life. If you’re slacking off, realize that it’s your choice, right now, that you’re deciding to slack off. If you’re staying up late when you should be going to bed, realize that you’re actively deciding to do this — no one else is forcing you not to go to bed. So when you’re tired tomorrow, you know that it was on you and no one else.
Instead of relying on the unpredictable winds to carry you through (and hope that it takes you to the right direction), owning your present empowers you to be the captain of your own ship. There is a lot more to this I can go into, so I might create a separate post specifically on this in the future.
Prep for your future. Your present is going to be tomorrow’s past, so in order to thank you past tomorrow you have to not only own your present, but also prep for your tomorrow, today. The good thing is this isn’t as hard as it sounds! A good example is to cook with the slow cooker. You know you want a wonderfully slow-cooked dinner tonight but it takes eight hours, so you prep ahead of time in the morning. This shift is basically that — doing things now to so you can thank yourself later.
I apply this mindset to all areas of my life whereever I can: Add water to the Brita filter now so I can have fresh water later. Put aside money now for retirement later. Prep for next week’s meeting now (by adding notes into the invite) so future me won’t forget about the the discussion topics or action items in the future.
Now the coolest part is this — by prepping for your future now, you’ll inevitably be thanking your past later. This cycle repeats itself endlessly and over time you’ll have less burden from your past, more ownership in your present, and more outlook for your future. By focusing more on each of your selves separately, they can create a more meaningful impact to your life as a whole.
I didn’t learn about the separation of selves and these shifts in mindsets in any one book specifically, instead I was inspired by countless productivity and other self-help books in order to develop this “recipe” over time. By learning to be more grateful, accountable, and future-thinking, I became the captain of my own ship over time, instead of letting (or blaming) the wind to take me somewhere I felt I didn’t belong.
This was just an introduction to the idea of separating your selves, and I can expand more about each of these three mindset shifts in future posts. In the mean time, I invite you to ask yourself (or comment below) on the following questions to get started:
How can you thank your past for getting you to where you are today?
What decision can you own / what action can you take today regardless of the past?
What can you do now ahead of time to set up for tomorrow’s success?
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Hey there, how’s it going? Last time I mentioned how January felt like month 13 of the year 2020, and now I’m starting to think perhaps 2021 is shaping up to just be part 2 of 2020. This 2020-vibe, can we not?
Anyways, there’s been a lot of talk about the not-just-recent, but ongoing rise of anti-Asian hate crime happening in the US. People are justifiably outraged about these clips shown on air and via social media, about how the victims are all Asians, then about how the victims are all elderly, and inevitably people start noticing the perpetrators are… Black.
Inevitably at some point, someone will point out this fact and start asking why is the media not giving these terrible crime as much attention as the death of George Floyd. Even if they are, why aren’t they mentioning that these perpetrators are all Black? Why are people not showing up for us when we showed up for them. A lot of Us. A lot of Them. Ugh.
I don’t have a PHD on racism, I don’t have the perfect answer, and I’m not immune to any of this. I do, however, have some experiences in another type of race — so let’s talk about that for a moment.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have trained, ran, and finished a marathon in 2007, a half marathon in 2019, and a handful of 5 and 10Ks in-between. And in all of these cases, I don’t actually remember who were the first place runners of these races. I have zero idea. But I still vividly remember the weather on the day of these races, the sound of the cowbells people were cheering us with, and in one particular moment when I “hit a wall” just 3 miles away from the marathon finishing line — my running mate lent me her watch and said “You’ve got this!” right when I was so sure I wasn’t able to finish the race. (And I did.)
Point is, we’ve been taught since birth that there is only one winner in competition, in contests, in lottery drawings, and in life. If you’re not the winner, then by default you’re the loser. It’s so ingrained to us that it’s become our reflex to see everything in life this way. It can’t possibly be Britney ANDChristina, or Cardi AND Nicki — there must only be one.
But I would never think that in a marathon (or half or 10k) race. I wouldn’t not run the marathon just because Usain Bolt is also going to be in the race. While there’s only one “winner” in marathon, the rest of us is what makes the experience special. And in fact, I would argue that while I’m happy for the winner, I’m actually happier and prouder for everyone else for finishing the race. We’ve all endured the months long training to be there, freezing our butts off before the crack of dawn, just to put our bodies through hell in the goal of finishing the race. We cheered and clapped for each other, even though none of us were realistically going to be 1st place winners.
So, back to the headlines. What can we do? What can I do? First it’s important to unravel ourselves away from the sensational, knee-jerk feelings we may have at the moment. Take a breath and separate the justified outrage of the actual crime with any negative feelings we may have with any given communities. If the phrase “us” or “them” were mentioned at all in our bullet train of thoughts, take note of it and let’s actively work on turning a “winner takes all” into a “marathon race” mindset. Here’s my personal process (again, I am not perfect so your mileage may vary):
Then, be mindful of the cogs that are so ingrained to us. Why are we reacting this way? Why is it so important for anyone to say “the perpetrators are all Black” when the actual hate crime already speak for themselves? (I’m also skeptical that there are no instances of hate crime done by non-Black perpetrators?) Does mentioning it help solve or reduce the series of hate crime? If so, how? (And if the potential solution is to apply that to an entire community, see point #1.)
Also, as humans we instinctively apply our past experiences as learnings as a way to protect our current selves. Take inventory of media portrayal of Black communities and how it affects the way we see our world today. I also grew up in a Black-majority neighborhood and was often bullied as a kid and into high school. To this day, I can still fall into the trap of relating some of my fears, biases, and prejudices with the traumatic experiences I had in the past. But then I sit for a minute and do my best to unravel — these experiences were caused by specific people (again, not groups), many of whom are different today than they were back then. These experiences do not define them just as they do not define who I am today.
Next, unravel from the mindset of ALL / None / Always / Never — because reality usually take place between all and none, and between always and never. It’s easy to think we NEVER get media coverage, or we’re ALWAYS the punchline to a joke, but that’s just as ridiculous to say ALL or NONE of the Black people are [insert blanket statement here]. A quick scroll on social media or Tumblr will also show plenty of outrage and coverage at things happening in Asia — the Hong Kong protest from 2019, the ongoing protests of Burmese civilians and Indian farmers today, and yes the not-just-recent wave of Asian-targeted hate crimes. (It’s finally gaining traction.)
Finally, fight discrimination with compassion. The Black voters in Georgia single-handedly gave America a fighting chance for a better future. My Black teachers, friends, and mentors who have loved, supported, and cared for me through the years. The never-ending list of art, food, music, culture, and joy Black people have given humanity. Other things that make me smile every time: Bowen Yang and Ego Nwodim. Black Joy. Black K-pop stans.
What it ultimately comes down to is simply that we can win together only by working together. And instead of thinking of us or them, as media and society LOVES to pin things against one another, we should really think of it as a race; we need to actively shift from “we need to win” to “we all need to finish”.
Geez, every time I write these letters I aim to keep it short, only to keep getting increasingly longer. I do think this was important for me to write it all out though, and hopefully it was helpful for you as well. Again I’m not an expert nor am I immune to any of this, and it does take a lot of active work to reflect and unravel these “What if…” and “How about…” thoughts.
But through these mental exercises I do find myself landing in a lighter place afterwards — please reply let me know if you have thoughts on all this, even and especially if you disagree so we can all learn together. And please feel free to share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to this and future newsletters below:
Hey! How’s it going? The first month of the year is quickly moving along but in so many ways it just feels like we’re in month thirteen of 2020. Hopefully things will start improving once we have a more sane (and less criminal) person leading the country once again. Remember how we used to think that was a given?
So I’ve been thinking a lot about time recently. Specifically, I’ve been losing track of just how much time has past, milestone events I thought happened a mere year or two ago but in reality they took place much farther in the past.
It’s quite shocking to realize it’s almost been ten years since my time living in Los Angeles (before moving back around 2014), and a whopping twenty years ago since I studied at RIT. This May will mark two years of my leaving IGN and working at Walmart.
It’s no surprised why lately I’ve been feeling so distant from people I’ve always thought was close to me. Time can drift people apart naturally, but sheltering-in-place and the social media mass exodus can only expedite this process. I suppose this will take more work than ever to actively keep meaningful people close during this time and during this stage of my life.
“So what do you want to do in your career?”, now this is a question that has truly haunted me throughout my life. Whether it’s from college counselors or whenever I’ve reached a crossroad in my career, this question has come up time-and-time again and I’ve never been able to answer this question. Instead I’d stutter and would try to weasel my way out of it — I’ve even quit a job because of it! “Since things are moving so fast, what I’d like is to learn more about the different options before coming to a decision on whether a potential change is needed or right for me”… If that’s not the most non-committal, politician-like response you’ve ever heard, well do I have a bridge to sell you. 🙂
That’s not to say my life sucks, of course, far from it. The fact that I’m even asked this question (time and time again) means I’m given different opportunities, and that I am blessed and privileged. Since graduating from RIT, I’ve also icepicked away career options that are blatantly not for me — finance, design, sales — but what still remain is a vast ocean of opportunities.
Thanks to the many team restructures at Walmart from last year alone, I was recently asked with this #%&$ question. Once again I’ve got no answer, but this time around I’m also aware of the resources available to me. Never in my life do I have access to a mentor, life coach, AND a therapist at the same time — a bit ridiculous, actually! I have the privilege, opportunity AND the resources; what I don’t have is an excuse not to finally sort this out.
Lastly, in addition to a monthly status of my life, I also want to start sharing a couple things I came across in the past month with you. I hope you’ll find them helpful? Let me know and more importantly please share anything you find interesting to me as well!
My friend Bruce recently wrote an opinion piece on how witnessing the surge in COVID-denialists is eerily similar to the surge in AIDS-denialism during the height of the AIDS crisis.
I can’t believe another month has passed, as it finally wraps up an overall miserable year of 2020. I also hope this newsletter has made it safely into your mailbox, as apparently they’re been landing in a lot of people’s junk mail folder instead. Sorry about that!
This year has affected so many people in so many ways, myself included. While I always try to find the bright side with every adversity, a lot of time energy were spent this year trying to combat my self-doubts, anxiety, and depression. I recently asked my therapist if I’m just overusing these terms, like I’m relying on them like a security blanket, and he verified that nothing from this year has been normal. “Plus, you’re anxious when you’re anxious!”
Even so, there have been some good amidst the bad. After my slump for a couple months with close to no exercises, my Apple Watch finally nagged me enough to finally into exercising more. I was able to spend time with my parents for much of this year, that is until last month when Ian and I finally moved in together!
Here’s another thing, for the past decade or so I’ve been attending the Great Dicken’s Christmas Fair — a bay area tradition where they turn a massive indoor arena (called Cow Palace) into a Charles Dicken’s stylized London. Fully decorated and filled to the brim with period actors, carol singers, and dancers and play performers, the Dicken’s Fair has always been a great way for us to escape reality for a couple hours. And what better way to set the mood for Christmas than to nom on some meat pies and haggis?
With COVID ravaging the country more than ever, the Dicken’s Fair sadly had to be cancelled this year. But because of that, they are posting a LOT of their amazing performances, recipes, story readings and more on their website for FREE. Check out this page to experiment a sample of the Dicken’s Fair I know and love. You can even shop for some goods and buy merch to support them and other local stores! I hope this page can bring some joy and holiday spirits to you and your loved ones.
Here’s to having a very safe, yet special Christmas and holiday break. Feel free to reply to this email and let me know what you’re up to. Let’s all stay safe and here’s to a much calmer, happier 2021!
Hey! How’s it going? I hope you had a very safe, yet special, thanksgiving earlier this week. I spent Thanksgiving Day with my parents, and with a lot of Turkey leftovers Ian and I then spend much of yesterday making traditional sides for Thanksgiving part II!
So earlier in the month around my birthday, my high school friends and I opened up a time capsule we had sealed back in 2010. While I could remember some of the items I had put in — my original iPod touch, a meaningful book, and a copy of that day’s newspaper — I had completely forgotten we had also recorded a number of videos capturing the event, and that we had each written a letter for future, um… present us.
Upon watching the video and after reading the letter had me very sentimental, just to see where I was and the things I thought was important to me back then. It was also just a bit… foreign to see how genuinely excited I was about the future, while fully able to read behind that optimism to see the nervousness that is still so familiar today.
But there’s the thing: 2010 was a full year before working at IGN, a life-changing career where I ended up meeting some of the people I now call my dear friends. It was also half a decade before meeting Ian, who until then the thought of even having a boyfriend was something I always wanted but never truly believed could actually happen to me. As much as that 2010 version of Obama-era Winson had in optimism (something I can’t say I have much of nowadays), he also didn’t have a full decade of life-changing things, people, and experiences that shaped me to who I am today.
So, what I’m trying to say is that even though we’re living in what may seem like the darkest timeline right now, and that the smallest hope we’re holding on to today can look more like a delusion than a possibility, the time capsule was proof to me that things can indeed get better.
As tough as things are in 2020, what with the world literally torn between hurricanes and wildfires, authoritan ideologies and conspiracy theories, all topped with a global pandemic that is COVID-19, we also don’t know what the future can bring us.
Things can always get better or worse whether it’s politics, climate change, or family life, but It’s worth keeping an open mind (and outliving the chaos) to see how the next ten years unfold. Where were you ten years ago and what would you tell yourself in ten years? Feel free to reply to this email and let me know! I look forward to hearing what you’re up to.
PS: Feel free to forward this email If you think others can benefit from it! Or you can ask them to subscribe directly below.
I see a lot of people grieving for Anthony Bourdain on social media. My friend Mauricio even posted a list of suicide prevention hotlines for those in need. All of this is understandable, and all of this is needed.
Now of course, I don’t know Anthony Bourdain on a personal level, I don’t even really know his background outside of the 2-minute soundbite NPR played the day he passed away. I simply watched his traveling shows, related to the episodes that took place in Hong Kong, and admired from afar. Yet even as a casual fan, I’m grieving for him just as anyone would. I can see that he was troubled yet talented. His writing was sharp, if not confrontational, yet always lied this layer of honesty underneath. And as different as his personality was to mine I couldn’t help but admire the authenticity, the “what-you-see-is-what-you get” persona that exude from every minute of episode of every show he ever hosted.
And as easy as it may be to go down the rabbit hole and pour my heart out, it’s also important to remember and remind myself to look the other way. Anthony Bourdain passed away the same day as the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Finals. Unlike with Anthony, I’m not even going to pretend I understand anything about sports (I will, someday), but this championship means so much to those in my life and to the Bay Area in general — that even as a non-bandwagon fan I can understand the significance and reason to celebrate. I’m may not understand sports, but I’m not a monster either.
2018 has been a challenging year for me so far, so zooming out a bit, it’s likewise important for me to look both ways when it comes to other aspects of my life. My grandmother passed away the same week as I got my first promotion at work after being there for six years. In attending her funeral in Hong Kong, I missed out on an one-night-only concert in San Francisco from a Hong Kong artist I’ve waited my entire to see (and yes, I do see the irony). But the trip also allowed me to connect with my extended family, especially with my brother whom I haven’t seen in more than five years.
Life is persistently filled with conundrums like this, where I’d read about Kate Spade’s passing and her positive influence to American women an hour before seeing my friend Brian Altano posting a picture of his newborn daughter. Life is also complicated beyond just happiness or sadness, so as much as we want to simplify (if not quantifying) our emotions to what Facebook limits us to a series of Likes, Love, Haha, Wow, Angry, and Sad, we’re doing ourselves a disservice by singularly assigning an emotion to the vastness of our daily occurrences.
So look both way before crossing your daily feeds, because you may not see the emotional truck coming when you don’t. Just as I feel genuine sadness for people passing away, I also try to remember the education or spark they’ve given me to help me grow. Just as I feel down about being unproductive at work, I’d open up my logbook and remind myself all the tasks I’ve accomplished for the day. While it’s easy to focus on the sadness because it’s right in front of you, it’s important to understand that this sadness alone is not the entire picture.
It’s a practice that’s saved my life repeatedly. Through mindful meditation, through writing sessions, through therapy, my daily life involves a constant reminder not just to look for the brighter side of life, but to put in the actual work and find truth amidst the darkest hours. While it’s truly sad that Anthony Bourdain won’t be able to take us along in his travel shows anymore, he has always lit a spark in us the worth of exploration and the value in telling our own stories.
First of all, thank you for subscribing to FORWARD.
In this social-first, auto-playing video, trending topic world, FORWARD is aimed to be the opposite of all of that noise. Not quite a blog, not quite a newsletter, my hope for FORWARD is to provide a monthly dose of inspirational features for you to check out when you have time instead of offering something that will fight for your time.
In this issue, you’ll find an update on the California drought, how to keep plants alive, why it’s important to speak up, and more! This is the first issue so please be patient as things may evolve over time as the newsletter forms its own identity. But in the mean time, please take a look at FORWARD, and join me in this brand new journey.
Oh! And if you like the newsletter, please share by forwarding (hehe) the newsletter to your friends and family.
Let the rain fall down
After weeks of heavy rain, it seems to finally help California alleviate its record-setting drought. KQED did a nifty feature where you can compare the massive difference between 2014 and 2017 side-by-side. You can check out the feature here.
Not so Tender Greens
Despite my best intention, I have yet to keep a single Rosemary plant alive around the apartment. My black thumb has become somewhat of a joke as Ian keeps buying me Rosemary plants to “replenish” my dead ones. You can check out the feature here.
I’ve always lived minimally, but even with a mindful intention my closet still tend to fill up over time. I was watching The Minimalists, a documentary currently available on Netflix, the other night and it totally sparked an idea for me to declutter my life.
Minus365 is where I will remove/donate one object from my life every day for all of 2017. Each month will be based on a different theme, and I’m starting with t-shirts for January to kick start this yearlong project. Just think, if I were to keep this up for the entire year, there will be 365 fewer things around my apartment, and my life!
Between all the t-shirts I was given (or earned?) in my five year of working at IGN along with other gifts and sentimental hand-me-downs, my closet is full of t-shirts. Are you curious enough to join Minus365? If so, reply to this email and send me pictures of your 30 t-shirts (or whatever you decide to remove!).
“The problem is that we don’t tell you, we speak about it amongst ourselves and you get to carry on about your day not realizing you’ve ruined ours.” Jamelia
Recently Jamelia, a British R&B singer, was on board a first-class flight with her daughter, only to be questioned by other passengers who asked to see their airplane tickets. She stood her ground and went on Twitter to explain why. You can read more about the incident here.
Now, I’m not a fan of hers because I have barely heard of her before this incident. But this happens all too often to me and to minorities everywhere. Like Jamelia said, I tend to be too polite or try to rationalize myself to be “the bigger person” instead of speaking up and calling out bullies who makes hurtful or ignorant comments.
But words do hurt, and their comments ruminate with me for the rest of day if not for weeks to come. Why do they get to carry on their day while we suffer silently? It’s not fair, it’s not acceptable, and it’s time we speak up.
Between Us: Classic Aransky
Maybe it’s my connection to RIT or maybe it’s me working at the crazy world that is IGN, but I have a lot of friends who are constantly working on various creative projects. Since FORWARD is a monthly showcase of all things interesting and inspirational, I want to use this space and share with you other interesting projects my friends are also working on.
Meet Michael Aransky and his new video blog, Classic Aransky. By day he’s a senior producer at IGN, and by night he’s on a yearlong journey to get comfortable in front of a camera as he works his way toward to making his first movie since 2012. You can check it out here.
If you have an interesting project and want to be featured on FORWARD, simply reply to this newsletter and tell me all about it!
Take a Minute
And..that’s it for January! Please (ahem…) FORWARD this to a friend if you enjoy this newsletter, or sign up below if someone had shared this newsletter with you in mind.
Sign up for FORWARD here:
As always, you can reply to this and let me know what you think.
“Move toward what you want instead of moving away from what you fear.” Let that sink in for a minute. I mean, wow. Talk about #LifeLessons, amiright? ^_^
The truth is that I’ve spent most parts of my life feeling stuck. I always felt stuck as the kid who couldn’t wait to be an adult so I could “do whatever I want”, only to turn into an adult stuck with bills and responsibilities while unsure what I want to do in life. I’ve felt stuck in my childhood home, in school, on the college campus and in various jobs, always waiting for the day I am “truly free.”
But the reality as I’m finding out is that life is not all or nothing. It’s not stuck or not stuck; it’s not free or not free. Instead it’s about working in a series of steps toward the things I want and believe in that will ultimately take me there. Sure, there may be hurdles, compromises, and even failures along the way, but life is so much more productive and meaningful that way.
Rather than avoiding or not pursuing my goals in the name of my never-ending list of fears, I should instead find ways to move toward the things I truly want to achieve. Even if I fail, even if I’m afraid. We may be granted the pursuit of happiness, but in order to achieve that we must first find the happiness in pursuit.
Life is messy sometimes, my handwriting definitely is. Nothing’s perfect, and we all have flaws now don’t we. We all have days that are up-and-down.
I’ve been thinking about this for a long time now, and with most things probably for too long. But I want an organic way of journaling and expressing my thoughts. My messy, imperfect, and sometimes distorted thoughts, in a way that can’t be hidden by yet another san-serif font. That’s not me.
I also miss physically writing something down. Not just note-taking, but the whole process of writing complete thoughts onto the page from beginning to end. With this you see it, the mess of it all, including my ever-declining handwriting skills. When was the last time I ever wrote something this long on paper? Probably back in ninth grade.
Pencil is also great because it leaves a mark, yet it’s easily erasable. It also just FEELS organic, you can see my flaws in my eraser marks, my insecurities through the shakiness of the alphabets, as well as my EXCITEMENT! through my handwriting in ways I simply can’t emulate by italicizing words.
Well I’m back, and yeah it’s been a while. Wanting to change things up (while slowly getting my feet wet with writing again), here’s a new feature detailing what I’m really into currently. You’ll notice not everything is new, but hey, they are new to me.
I recently gave in and signed up for Apple Music’s 3-month trial. I’ve been tempted to join quite a few times in the past but always felt weird about the concept of renting (and not owning) music.
Well turns out one good thing about having a music subscription is having access not only to the music you may buy, but also (and especially) access to the ones you know you probably won’t. Like classical music, or in this case French pop.
One of my best friends is French, and I’ve visited him in Paris no less than three times across various stages of my adult life. Because of that, he’s had a huge impact in shaping me into who I am today, and a big part of that influence by proxy is French culture and music.
Whether it’s AIR or Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sébastien Tellier or Yael Naim, French music has always been a mainstay in my music collection. Christine and the Queens marks my best first finds in 2016.
Mike’s always been my favorite character from Breaking Bad. Now that Better Call Saul is finally, finally on Netflix, I binge watched the entire season over a single weekend. This episode in particular about his past is just absolutely precious.
Podcasts (and music) offer something other art medium do not — the flexibility of multitasking. As good as Game of Thrones may be, you can’t really watch the show (or read the book) while you drive or when you’re out jogging. But not so with audio and podcasts.
And it’s one thing to listen to podcast while you multitask, it’s something else when the content moved you so much that you had to stop what you’re doing in order to give it your full, undivided attention. This episode does just that… It tears your heart apart to pieces before lifting you up. Just amazing.
I am such a bad gay. Having exactly zero idea this was a cover from the musical Grease, I was fascinated by Lo-Fang’s haunted voice and the very first line of the song — “I’ve got chills, they’re multiplying”. And boy did I feel that when this song came on during an episode of HBO’s Leftovers.
Being born in British-ruled Hong Kong and growing up in San Francisco and self-identify as gay, my identity is all over the place. And for a really long time I didn’t really know where I belong — and often times I still don’t. But the good thing is there’s this vibrant community a mere click away. A community called YouTube, where you can find and ask and learn anything in seconds!
Half Filipino/British and fully raised in Hong Kong, Asha is apparently one of the first Hong Kong vlogger on YouTube. I can’t recall how I landed on her vlog but I’m so glad I did. In her videos she often shares her views about Hong Kong culture from both a local and global perspective. She also speaks and think in both Chinese and English — something I can totally relate to. Finding her channel and videos has been such a breath of fresh air!
I was basically raised by television, and it seemed like every show I watched growing up was about the importance of friendship: Golden Girls, Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, Friends, Seinfeld, the list goes on.
And in every single one of these shows, we were taught that friendship was all that’s needed in our lives. We don’t need fancy jobs or fluffy retirement accounts, because our friends will always be there for us. We should also go out of our ways to help our friends, because at the end friendship is the only thing we need in this world. That and maybe a bottle of Coca-Cola.
But the problem with learning from television is that none of these shows really prepare you for what happens when friendships end and how to carry on after that. Instead everything is just summed up into 30-minute self-contained storylines, and life is anything but that. This week, a three-part exploratory thought process on my struggle in making friends, my fear in being left behind, and my reluctance to carrying my own life forward.
A couple months ago I spent a weekend disconnecting from my otherwise turbulent life at Mavericks, California. I was at the beach by Pillar Point on a late afternoon just after it stopped raining. The clouds were clearing away, the sky was opening up, and the view to the Pacific Ocean was simply breathtaking. There were some people walking out and climbing up toward a vantage point so I followed them.
Curiosity soon turned into self-doubt when I noticed how slippery the rocks were, and that I was only wearing this cheap pair of slip-ons from Old Navy. I clumsily worked my way up, eventually to this spot where I would have to climb my way down and across a 4-foot wide pocket in order to get to where the vantage point was.
There were about five other people where I was. Some held the same initial hesitation as me, but all of them tried their way and eventually made it across. Meanwhile I just stood there for the longest time, because I was scared and more importantly frustrated at how useless I felt, unable to do something literally everyone else around me managed to do.
Then this guy showed up. He couldn’t have been much older than 25. He was wearing this preppy navy sweater and a nice pair of shorts, not unlike a model you’d find in a J.Crew catalog. He looked down toward the pocket for a second and just jumped from my side to the other. He just… did it.
In classic fairytales, the princess would meet the prince, and through overcoming evil or learning an important life lesson, they would live happily ever after. They’d never have to worry about filing taxes on time, dealing with severe droughts, or even the potential hidden danger of consuming genetically-modified soybeans.
My coming out process was supposed to be the story. In a conservative Chinese family, the protagonist realized the value of truth and self-worth, and risked everything to be himself. Fueled by cultural differences, there was a dramatic clash with his parents but through the power of love, everyone came together, saw past their differences, and learned a valuable life lesson. And like the end of every fairytale, having gone through everything I’m supposed to end up with this new found confidence and everything else in my life should fall neatly into place, including my very own happily ever after ending!
But as it turns out, coming out the closet was only the prologue to my story. TL;DR — I’m a friggin’ homo, now what? Turns out, being a gay man is a lot more than just being attracted to your own gender. If only.
It was January 29th, and the year was 1999. I was sixteen at the time, and there was a giant “Publish” button staring at me. My heart was jumping out of my chest, so I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, clicked the button, and exhale. Within a minute my website went live, along with my first online journal entry.
“…I was very mad throughout the day until I went to a supermarket, and saw 2 really (really) good looking men, European accent, WOW! My mood changed sooo fast!!” it read.
Poorly written and embarrasingly hormonal, but just like that, I finally came out to myself — I’m gay.
Years later I found myself feeling the same way, this time with the Ingredients of Fear. The idea of opening up to talking about my darkest fears is a powerful one, but the actual process of doing so is also incredibly scary and probably really dumb. So there I was, with the giant “Publish” button back and staring right in front of me, daring me to click on it…
I’ve always loved a perfectly new notebook, ripped with the scent of freshly-cut pages. I especially love the way a new notebook always starts with a blank canvass, ready for someone to dive in and start writing in his or her new masterpiece at a moment’s notice.
I have a lot of these notebooks. Probably no less than a dozen, many of them still have their plastic wrappers around them. Yet the only task they’ve had so far was to sit on my work desk, collecting dust as time goes by.
It’s not that I don’t have anything to write, because I certainly have plenty to say. But when push comes to shove and when my pen is about hit the pages — I back out. I don’t want to ruin this perfectly new notebook with my subpar handwriting, ya know?
Ever since my family emigrated to the US when I was ten, I’ve been trained to be constantly on the move. From going to middle school on the opposite side of the city, to college in Rochester, to working in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, I’d find myself in a different part of the world every few years. I always looked so restless from the outside looking in, like those people who would rush to the front of the plane the second it hit the tarmac. Yeah, I hate them too.
The good thing about moving so often is that you get to hit the big red reset button every single time to restart your life. Like a witness protection program I’m sent to a different city again and again, every time with the opportunity to be anyone I want to be.
But growing up as a nomad also created this mindset that I could just pack up and evict myself every time an opportunity knocked at my door, even when that opportunity was really an excuse for me to take the easier way out.
I’ve changed jobs, wiped my computers, changed my email addresses, and even moved to the other side of the world just so I could look away from the face of fear. Instead of dealing with my problems head on, I’d just run away and try to restart my life over with a clean slate.
I’ve always been the baby: always the youngest in my family, in my class, and always, always the inexperienced newcomer at work.
That is until I woke up one day, looked around, and realized that was no longer the case. At Reddit meetups, at IGN, and basically everywhere I go in San Francisco, I’m consistently the oldest person in the room. My go-to ’90s references are getting outdated by the minute — who the hell is Danny Tanner?
The scariest part of being an adult isn’t the fact that you’re getting old, but this realization that you still have so much fear living inside you. Things that you’ve been afraid of your whole life, and things you’ve been meaning to work on but haven’t because you think you still have time to improve. You’ve arrived at the infamous sink or swim moment, only to realize you were too afraid of drowning so you never learned how to swim.
During a BART ride on my way home from a long day at work, I was daydreaming for excuses where I could take some down time and escape from all the daily stress in my life. Away from all the stressful projects at work, away from these errands I have to do around the house, and most of all away from these minute things that I know I have to do but totally don’t want to. I wanted a quick break for myself before the holiday season arrives to steal the rest of the year away.
Then something dawned on me, something so ridiculously nerdy that it’s almost perfect. I’m going to start planning for an annual retreat based on the location named for each OS X release. First up: Mavericks, California.
I am fortunate enough to live in California with some of the most beautiful places located right around me, yet I never visit any of these places because I’m either too busy (like everyone else), or they’re places I never think of visiting.
One of the things I really miss from my college days is the yearly retreat hosted by The Women Center. It’s a weekend of relaxation but also it’s an incredible opportunity to reflect on where you are and where you want to be. Setting time aside away from everyday life to reflect and set goals is important and frankly, I haven’t done that in a while.
It was something that needed to be done. I was constantly on Facebook on all hours of the day. Like an addict I was always making sure I had read everything off my feed and had cleared off all the notifications. And with increased frequency Facebook had became the first thing I reach for in the morning and the last thing I look at before passing out in bed.
Facebook wasn’t a part of my life as much as my life had became specifically planned around it. I had to cut the cord somewhere, so for Lent this year I decided to give up Facebook and social media altogether.
From being in Hong Kong, to growing up going to schools at various ends of San Francisco, to going to college in Rochester, starting anew has always been the story in my life. It was no different when I told my friends in 2011 that once again, I would be leaving San Francisco for Los Angeles to pursue something that I’ve only ever dreamt of doing — to work at IGN.
I’ve grown and learned a lot in the past few years. And through these two years it took a lot of thinking in figuring out where my next level should be in 2014. It’s time to return to San Francisco.