Friday, December 17, 2010

Blogging is a skewed sample

I would wager that people write more when they are depressed or when they have more to complain about. After looking back, there aren't many positive entries at all and there are quite a few rants.

I better make this a good one so we can add a tally to the "Happy Column".

Guess who has two thumbs and is going on a last minute trip to Vegas? THIS GUY!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

President Andrew

I participated in a thought provoking exercise in traffic school earlier this month. Basically, we had to choose 6 people to live and restart the human race with a group of 10 people to choose from. Each of them has different pros and cons. It was really fun and one member in my group really liked my ideas and said he "would vote for me if I ever ran for President." As flattering and funny as his statement was, I couldn't help but start to think of the stuff I'd do if I was President.

First thing I'd do is tweak modern education. I'd replace learning cursive with learning how to type. I'm not saying cursive is useless or obsolete, but I can make arguments for why typing is more important and useful to children growing up in today's society. In the same light, I'd make high school students take a personal finance class before they graduate. This class would teach people the effects of credit card debt and important concepts like compound interest and saving early. What would we remove? Maybe one of the 4 years of English? I don't mean to devalue English, but here in California I was required to take English all 4 years of high school and there were two years solely dedicated to literature. One year of American Lit and one year of English Lit. I graduated being able to recite Shakespeare but had to take it upon myself to learn how to balance a checkbook.

Second thing I'd implement is the concept of "Criminal Testing". Prisoners could opt to be lab rats for experimental drugs. Right now, monkeys and mice are being used because they are close to humans. What is closer to a human than an actual human? If the prisoner dies during the test, they could get their name added to a list of people that died for a good cause or something. Seems like a pretty good upside for a prisoner serving a life sentence. Instead of being remembered for a horrible crime, they could be remembered as a volunteer who donated their body to science for their society.

Third would be immediately investing some tax dollars into creating gym bikes (or any machine) designed to generate power. It boggles my mind that this isn't already being done. How many hours out of the day do people spend in a gym? How much sweat and effort is exerted into these machines? Convert this enegery spent into energy for society. This can later be extended to people who want to work off community service or criminals serving sentences. Got a speeding ticket? Go generate some energy for your city. Or maybe even extend this idea for a person who wants to make a quick buck. This seems like a worthwhile investment to help our "energy crisis" and also adds some incentive to fighting the obesity problem in America.

I have some other ideas in the works. One is having reproduction be a privilage, like driving. There would be basic tests that potential parents have to pass. Or maybe financial limitations to eliminate the need for welfare. I can see some big problems with this one as far as infinging on natural rights... but the basic idea is if you're too stupid or too broke to have a kid... you can't have one!

Andrew Tran for President 2048! (I picked this year because I don't realisticaly think I'll be alive at 62. Also it's a power of two, sweet!)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Story of Linda. Part 3

It would seem that I had one of two options at this point: 1) either tear her asunder before her trip to leave her in well-deserved shambles, or 2) execute my plan of action that I had designed the night prior.

What I ended up doing was... treating her like a complete acquaintance. Ugh. "Are you excited for your trip?" "I hope your trip is great." "Are you going to know a lot of people out there?" Stupid small talk. So stupid. She gave out halfhearted answers and we arrived to the airport in no time. I took her luggage from my trunk and gave her one last hug. She left my embrace crying and I remained strong and gave her a flat, "Goodbye Linda." I drove off and sat in my car in the parking lot of Solar Turbines (near the airport). I was half-asleep and wondering what the hell just happened. I needed to collect myself. The next plane that came roaring overhead thrust me awake. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I've cried (not because I'm a tough guy or whatever, it just takes a lot). As you probably guessed, this was one of those days.

My tears and heartache would spark a series of events in which I almost quit my job, dropped out of school (with half a quarter left), and dropped everything, to go to China to see her and get her back. I was convinced and determined. People saw me and thought I had everything, but without Linda... it felt like I had nothing. A month after I dropped her off at the airport, everything was ready. I had planned out everything. I had my letter of resignation ready. I had "final" conversations planned out with all my friends. I was going to call Linda to ask for her address so I could send her a "care package" (that care package would be me). All of my plans were made with one mission on my mind: get her back.

I never made it on that trip. Not for lack of effort, but when I called her for her address she said, "I'm not in Hong Kong anymore." After a confused and garbled exchange, she admitted to me that she was in Riverside. After hearing that, I hung up immediately. I was crushed. "What? How long? Why?" I asked myself. I would find out from her former roommate that she was in a new relationship with her best guy-friend at the time. This left me completely devastated.

I suppose most people at this point would go into a huge depressive spiral. I ended up handling things "different" to say the least. I went straight into the denial stage and told myself that she never existed. I was going to try to live my life like nothing ever happened. I would try and bury her memory... it helped that I kept myself extremely distracted...

The following three months were just about as insane as the three months prior. Tons of side stories, some of which involve a psychopath named Vi and a cougar named Samantha. There were boatloads of other women that jumped into my life: another Linda, her counterpart Trang, a co-worker Jenny, and the droves of women that my friends set me up with to help me get over Linda. Each of those unique side stories started and ended in a different way, a couple of these girls are actually still around in my life today. I can say with confidence though, that every single one of them though suffered from the "wake" of what happened with Linda.

Linda is simply known amongst my friends now as "Hong Kong Linda" or "HK". Like Voldemort from the Harry Potter books, everyone avoids saying her name around me because they know how intense everything was. She was only in my life for a few months, but in that time she completely changed me.

Reading that letter that I wrote a little while back is both scary and comforting. It's scary because I know that if I saw her again it could really fuck my head up. It's comforting though because I used to fear that I had become something that I didn't want to be. I thought maybe she turned me into a jaded womanizer or a hopeless romantic with a frozen heart. Instead, when I read that letter, I see a part of me that is at least willing to take chances with my personal life again. Although I am more hesitant to let people in, I can at least begin to start trying again.

It's been almost 3 years and it is about time that I put her memory to rest. I can't let her haunt me anymore, I can't let her effect my relationships. Typing out that letter and her story made me realize that I was holding on to her in my mind as the perfect woman. I thought that I only wanted her. Tonight, I have come to terms with the fact that she was the perfect woman for me in that time of my life. That time of my life is over now. Maybe it's my hopeless romantic side surfacing again, but I think I'm ready to find the woman who will be perfect for me for the rest of my life.

The Story of Linda. Part 2

Although it seems like every moment with Linda is burned into my memory, there were 3 moments in particular that feel as if they were just yesterday. The first was the day we met at my friends place (Part 1). The great first impression, the amazing instant connection. The second was the night that I told her I loved her. I can remember our date so clearly, it was perfect. Although we both knew how we felt already, saying it to each other just made things more valid somehow. All of a sudden, things started to have more purpose than before, it was no longer "me" and "her" it was "we" and "us". The months after were some of the best days of my life. I was a quarter away from finishing college, I had 3 different job offers to choose from, and I had the most amazing girlfriend. Life was good.

The third moment with Linda that I will always remember was a Monday night. Mondays were our date nights. This particular Monday started no different, we had a great date... but it would end horribly. I dropped her off at her apartment and we did our usual kisses at the door. Before I could walk away she said "I have something important I have to tell you." and I could hear her tone of voice get serious. I braced myself for the worst. She was going to tell me that she was married, wasn't she? Or maybe she had a fatal disease? Maybe she was an alien or a figment of my imagination? Instead, the words she spoke were, "Andrew, I'm going to Hong Kong in 4 days." Relieved, I said, "Oh. *laugh* Do you need a ride or something?" She looked confused and said "No..." and since I was already late to my friends party I headed back to the car. "Okay then! See you later." I slammed my car door and drove off. I could see her standing in the doorway in my rear-view mirror and once I rounded the corner it just hit me. I pulled over to the side and called her. She picked it up before it rang once, "You dumbass, come back."

Slowly walking up her steps in a daze I could hear her on the phone with her roommate telling her not to come home just yet. The first words out of my mouth were, "How long?" "6 Months..." she said dryly. She took a step back from me and I grabbed my face while navigating to her sofa. "How long have you known?" "Why didn't you tell me?" "I thought we trusted each other with everything." "What do you expect me to do?" My confusion turned into rage as I started to understand the bomb she just dropped so nonchalantly. She blew up in tears as I blew up in frustration. For future reference, this is the point where you would normally want to walk away and cool down to come back to the situation later. Needless to say, I didn't do that. Everyone has experienced the feeling where you are so angry that you say things you don't mean? Yeah, that was me. I was filled with so much anger at the time but I can remember my sharp words line by line. Hurtful sentences about how hopelessly romantic we both were, about how selfish I thought she was, about how everything we had was just a lie. I stormed out and left her a crying wreck.

In my mind, the story was over at this point. I have the unique ability to completely shut a person out of my life like they don't exist. My breakups usually involve girls texting me to say, "Delete my number from your phone." to which I normally answer back "Who is this?" So after our fight on Monday, it was completely over, case closed, she doesn't exist... right? Thursday night comes along and her roommate calls me, but instead it is Linda on the line and she says, "Can you give me a ride to the airport?" Today, Andrew would have let out the a huge, loud, obnoxious "FUCK NO!!!" that would have her ears ringing for days... but back then, I was a little different. I had been thinking about her constantly. I still loved her. It took every ounce of discipline to not read her texts or listen to her voice-mails. But when I heard her voice for the first time in 3 days, my answer was "Yeah, okay." I stayed up all night planning what I was going to tell her. I read all her texts and listened to all the voice-mails. I was going to tell her about how still loved her too, that I wanted to be with her, and that I would be waiting for her when she came back from Hong Kong. Long distance is hard, but we could beat the odds. I even set a reminder in my phone for when her plane landed for the return flight.

The morning couldn't have come soon enough and I drove to her apartment to pick her up. As I drove along that familiar route I had my plan ready and played out in my mind. As soon as I pulled into that driveway, my mind flashed back to the events that transpired in the same exact spot not 4 days ago. The exact location that I stood when she told me she was leaving for Hong Kong. My mind blanked and anger started to mix with my plan. I don't even remember the next few moments but I was putting her luggage in my trunk and holding the door for her as she got in my car in complete silence. "Thanks for everything, Andrew." she said, testing the waters. Her familiar voice was scratched up and her eyes were still as red from the last time I saw her. She hadn't slept either.

What I did next was something unexplainable.

 Part 3

The Story of Linda. Part 1

I entered the door and our eyes met immediately. I really hoped it was her that I was "supposed to meet" tonight. Although I am usually reluctant to these kind of setups, I hadn't seen my friend in a while so I decided to come to his little kick-back-thing. Within a couple minutes came all the usual jeers of, "Oh, look who decided to come!", "So nice of you to join us!", and "Well if it isn't Mr. Too-fucking-busy-to-come-to-my-birthday!" After a few yeah-yeah's and apologies, I could already tell that this was going to be a long night. I needed a drink. I made a round of introductions, dropped off my present, and headed straight to the kitchen for a beer.

She confidently followed me and slammed the refrigerator shut with her butt when I tried to open it for my prize. "So you're the guy I'm supposed to meet?!" she exclaimed, half-sarcastically-annoyed and half-excited. Those first words had me a little curious and embarrased, so I smiled and said, "I guess so. You must be Linda... I've heard SOOOO MUCH about you!" She laughed and sassed me, "Oh yeah? I'm sure they were all good things." I pointed at the fridge, "Well, they never told me about your beer blocking skills, but I'm a quick learner." She jerked forward and looked embarrassed but quickly grabbed us some beers. At this point we both turned around and noticed the whole room watching us. Everyone quickly turned their heads back to try and fake some conversation, but it was obvious they were watching us out of the corner of their eyes. We both said at the same time, "Wanna get out of here?"

We shotgunned our beers and took off to stumble across the beach (gimme a break, we're lightweights!). It's hard to articulate exactly how perfect we were together, but our interaction felt like the textbook definition for "hitting it off". After an exchange of happy emotions, good conversation, and contact information, I scheduled our "first date". Our dialog would roller-coaster from rapier wit to loving compliments seamlessly. Within a day she had the balance of padding my ego and keeping it in check at the same time. She was a little insecure at times but I always had the right thing to say. Her issues were molehills compared to the things I've dealt with in the past and it's safe to say that our first two weeks were absolutely electric. It wasn't quite love-at-first-sight, but call it love-at-first-couple-weeks. We both knew what we had was special and although I've had honeymoon phases before, I could tell this was something different.

We quickly donned the boyfriend/girlfriend label and things continued wonderfully. Within a month of meeting her I felt like I knew her my entire life. I knew her 1st grade teachers name and her mom's favorite flower. I knew how to instantly make her smile or turn her into a furious ball of rage. One day, after being so stressed out about a midterm, she actually picked up my Java book and tried to learn enough to do my programming assignment. If that doesn't scream "keeper" I don't know what does. Everything was smooth sailing, sure there were a couple fights, but we just couldn't stay mad at each other.

Part Two

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Letter to Linda

Here's my favorite memory that took place with you:

I had worked something like 38 hours in the previous three consecutive days. You came back from your trip, I introduced you to some of my friends, we went grocery shopping, and then we went back to your apartment to make dinner and watch a movie.

I am trying so hard to articulate the significance of that day, yet I am completely failing. Ever since I can remember, I have worried incessantly about finding a career that I enjoyed because I could not imagine going to work each day unhappy. But in that one day with you, that single bracketed eight hours of time, you hit me over the head with a brick of clarity. I figured out that I was content with spending the rest of my time with you and that very little else mattered at all. I had my family, I had my amazing support group of friends, and then I had you. Whether I disliked anything else would never have mattered, because at the end of it, I would have been able to come home to you. Sweet, beautiful, funny, loving, wonderful you. That was it. After all of my worrying, job-hunting, running-around, and idle-days, you made everything make sense and be okay. Better than okay.

You were so young, and I was so naive to think that at that point in time it would all just magically work out. I am, more than you could believe, so sorry that you had to go through all of that and that I wasn't responsible enough to think more with my head and less with my heart. I would never say that I wish I could go back and change any of it, but I'm still sorry. There is no part of me anymore that wants (or believes we could) simply pick up where we left off. There's no part of me that thinks either of us could be the same people we were before. There is a large part of me (all of me, actually) that remembers exactly how it felt to love you so completely and I would be willing to try it again from the beginning, consequences thrown to the wind.

I don't know what else to say.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


It's been 3 years and I still think of her every single day. Some days, I try to convince myself that I don't want her anymore but every time I close my eyes and my imagination hears her voice or sees her face, I get sucked back into the the amazing times we had. She's ruined one real relationship by being in my head and I can see the same thing happening again and again in the future. That is, if I ever decide another woman can come close to her.

Her memory haunts me now. I often consider writing a letter to her, the contents of which seem to change on a daily basis. There are times where I lay awake at night and I do the terrible "What If?" games about her trip to Hong Kong and about the fights we had (especially our last fight). I can honestly say that she is one of only two women that I've ever loved. Maybe sharing their stories or writing that letter can help me move on, letting them go by getting them out. Although I know my story with Lilly is most definitely over, part of me hopes that the story with Linda is not yet finished...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about

I hate this statement. If you've read my blog in the past, you'd know that privacy is one of those things I get pretty passionate about. I have come up with the perfect counter-argument for people who use that statement:

The statement is basically a false dichotomy - the same kind of conundrum as "you're either with us or against us." It presents a false choice: you are either guilty of something and therefore have a reason to hide it, or you are not guilty of anything and therefore have no reason to hide anything. It is based on the (false) premise that privacy's sole purpose is to conceal wrongdoing, and it excludes the possibility that someone may be innocent of any wrongdoing but may still want to conceal their activities. Why? Because something is embarrassing, but not wrong. Something may be deeply personal. Someone may have concerns about their information being used for marketing purposes or stolen. The list goes on and on.

Find someone you get along with

I think the biggest myth about relationships, that people lure themselves into, is the idea that "love conquers all" or "love is enough". Honestly, I think the key to a happy relationship is simply the ability to get along with each other.

The same way that you get along with your family, coworkers, roommates, or anyone for that matter. Would I fight a hundred gang members and Satan for my girlfriend? Absolutely. But rarely is that asked of me. What is asked of me all day every day is to simply get along with her. In the successful relationships and marriages that I see, the people just seem comfortable together. They peacefully share a living space, parenting style, food preparation, bathroom habits, etc. There's nothing romantic about that, but the base act of being able to get along is the difference between a happy life and a miserable one. It's not that passion and romance don't exist in peaceful relationships, it's just that the people in those relationships have learned that the dramatic moments are not the base of the relationship, the everyday moments are.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Instant Click

I went to a bar to meet up with a friend and his co-workers. I slowly made my rounds getting introduced to people in the typical fire-hose-fashion of saying "who I was" and "how I knew him" and "what I do". After making it about halfway through the group, my eyes met with one particular young lady. She looked nonthreatening enough and it turns out she was well versed in the talents of small talk. We got to talking and somehow it came up that she read Questionable Content, an awesome web-comic that I also read. When she told me, my eyes widened a bit and I could see hers do the same as she noticed my reaction.

My friend made some snarky comment that contained "nerds" and quickly ran off. This left the two of us to sit and talk about QC for a good 15 minutes. From here, we talked like we knew each other our whole lives. Our conversation diverged from QC and we started cracking jokes on each other. Our chemistry must have been obvious because my friend dropped back in to make a comment on how we "hit it off". Apparently, this comment was made a little too loud, because her boyfriend soon scurried over.

I had felt some glares earlier from his direction, but made nothing of it. She never mentioned she had a boyfriend, but I figured it out when he came stomping over and wrapped his arms around her. He couldn't have been any more obvious. She smiled at me and rolled her eyes because we both knew what was going on. He made his introduction, shook my hand, and tried to make a little small talk. He couldn't seem to insert himself into our conversation though. A couple more minutes of this awkward stalemate and he was dismissed to go fetch her a drink (that she confessed that she didn't even want). I could tell that the boyfriend was annoyed by my presence and my ability to make his girlfriend laugh so I mentioned to her that she should probably pay him some more attention. As I motioned to exit my seat she quickly grabbed my arm and told me she wouldn't be having it. The next two hours flew by as we continued to talk... the rest of the bar didn't even exist.

I never really clicked with a person like that before. I wouldn't call it attraction, but more like a comfortableness. We are both in happy relationships, but there is definitely something here that I am struggling to articulate...

Fast forward to tonight and I am sitting here thinking about how this stuff even happens. I wonder what things cause such intense instant camaraderie.

Was it Questionable Content that got us going? Was it her personality? Her appearance? All of the above? Is there some piece of information that you can tell me that will completely let my guard down? What about bands and types of music? Maybe having the same Alma Mater, having the same teacher, or working in the same field?

Tonight is shaping up to be another cog-sci-reading-induced sleepless night.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Where is the love?

I'm a big fat hypocrite. If you've read my blog recently, I'd be the last person you'd suspect to fall into a serious relationship. My enthusiasm for single life was unrivaled amongst my friends. On top of that, I'd say I read more than the average person when it comes to relationships, marriage, and gender issues. A lot of these articles are anti-marriage and I don't know if my goggles are fogged up from Rachel, but the more I read, the more I am left wondering... Where is the love?

It seems that when people write an article nowadays they are either feminists or Men's Rights Advocates. Both of which, act like marriage and committed relationships are either some form of oppressive servitude (via the feminists), or a means for gold digging women to use the system to take his money, his kids, and his dignity through divorce (via the Men's Rights Advocates).

I have come across some extreme cases when reading about gender rights. I can usually tell who's actually for equality, and who is just an angry pathetic individual with a persecution complex. It's truly sad how much people can hate or fear the opposite gender. There seems to be so much recreational outrage. You can tell that half these women have issues stemming from bad events with their daddy or an ex-boyfriend. It's obvious that most of these men have been screwed over by their wives or mommy.

The way they talk about inter-gender relationships is like it's some kind of power struggle. There is something very human missing from the way they speak. They might, at times, bring up great points in politics but they lack the ability to speak with any soul or humbleness about other human beings. For them, it's just "the people on the other side and they're against me". They try to mask their anger with cold academics and regurgitated philosophy.

Anyone who has been there can see right through it. When I read, I see people who just really need their insecurities and preconceptions busted by someone who hopelessly loves them for a change. When I get irritated at them, half the time I just want to hug them. It seems most of these people could use a few extra hugs.

I stay extremely interested in gender issues but all I see is anger and bias. It's like only a few people want to elevate themselves up and see the good in human kind. The others see the half they don't relate to and go after it with both barrels blazing.

It saddens me to see people talking about the one thing that makes life awesome, our connections to each other, like its some kind of war zone. A power struggle or strategy game where we must come out on top to avoid inevitable oppression.

I don't mean to detract from arguments against cultural and legal institutions that are inherently patriarchal. I don't mean to dismiss how divorce settlements and child custody choices usually screw over fathers. I don't mean to dismiss pay gaps for women, or how men get stereotyped as pedophiles and rapists. I don't mean to take away from any legitimate critique of modern femininity or masculinity. I don't mean to ignore either gender's concern with domestic abuse or genital mutilation. But it'd just be refreshing once in a while if I heard a feminist say she's in a happy marriage and isn't in it due to any societal expectations but because she wants to be committed to a partner she loves. Or how about a Men's Right Activist to say that he loves his wife dearly. To hear them put history and politics aside to talk about people like they're people. Like they have a heart and fucking feel something without filtering it through the Valerie Solanas or Glenn Sacks lens.

What happened to two individuals loving each other, communicating and respecting one another? What the fuck happened to that?

I find it funny that so many people are against marriage as an institution, while another demographic (homosexuals) clamor for the ability to be treated as equals and be allowed to marry. Are these people just salivating at the chance to be enslaved? Do they want to have fun custody battles too? I have a feeling that it's a "No."

All in all I think marriage can work for some and it will fail for some. Sex will be great in some marriages and it will be non-existent in others. Some will follow the stereotype and sex will go away once the ring hits the finger. Some will become even more passionate, while others will stay exactly how it is.

The majority of people let themselves go as they get older, period. Some people don't.

With sex, health, and looks, it's really up to the couple and the individuals to keep pushing to make things better. Stereotypical marital problems in regards to sex make for great laughs in stand-up comedy (and it might even be true in a lot of cases) but I can't let that stop me from falling in love, having great sex, or making commitment.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Who is Syp?

Melissa and I carpooled over to Oggi's Pizza for a "new hire" happy hour. We walked in and Melissa asked, "I wonder which one is our group?" I took a quick look around and pointed at the group of 20 dudes and 3 girls, "That's gotta be us." Melissa let out a halfhearted laugh and I (out of habit I guess) made a B-line straight to the only female that I didn't already know.

Being half-deaf and in a noisy bar, I couldn't really hear what she was saying. I resorted to making a sipping motion with my glass. "Your name is... 'Sip'?" "No!" she replied, while making dripping motions with her hand "Seeeep!" She looked a little annoyed but instead blowing me off, she offered to change the topic, "So, what group do you work in?" From here, the rest of our dialogue was fairly bland. The usual song and dance about what we do for fun and where we grew up. I did manage to gather that she was a Laotian RIT'er who was native to Rochester. Although our conversation wasn't very memorable, I do remember that I was hardly paying attention to anyone else in the bar. Unfortunately, I had to take off early to make it to a Thirsty Thursday in PB, but this wouldn't be the last time I saw her.

Over the next few months at work we got to know each other pretty well. A random conversation over messenger once in a while. A lunch here or there. Our initial group of friends were a bunch of Asian BAE'ers that consisted of our mutual friends Mike, Long, Jenny, Quang, and Melissa. But it wouldn't be the work scene that helped our friendship grow, it would be the club scene of all things. I found out that Syp was quite a dancer. I introduced her to my core group of friends who hit the clubs every weekend. Soon enough, Syp was in the rotation at least once a month. Not only did Syp have the moves (I''d find out later that she had won a dance contest in her earlier years), but she had incredible stamina. The nightclubs would have to turn on the lights to make her stop dancing, half the time that wouldn't even work.

We started hanging out and talking a lot more because of the club scene and we got along great. Syp humored my narcissistic tendencies, played a mean Devils Advocate, and always saw my side of the coin (even when no one else did). She was a great friend in some of my darkest hours. As she slowly let her guard down I was able to learn about her and return some of the favors.

The next couple years held plenty of ups and downs. We both had a lot going on personally and professionally and there were times where our friendship drifted. Similarities always pulled us back together though. One week, we might be learning cooking recipes. The next week, we might be studying vocab at the Wild Animal Park. If you asked me, "Who is Syp?" I'd almost always have a different answer. Co-worker, dancer, relationship coach, fellow volunteer, study buddy... the list goes on and on. If someone asked me today I think the answer I'd give would be the best and most accurate one to date: "A great friend."

Our strong personalities clashed at times and some bad times were had, but they were outnumbered by the good times. These "good times" aren't even defined by our trips or the big events. In fact, my fondest memories of Syp are the WTF-faces, the deadpan silences after her corny jokes, and the famous fog related fobby-incident (from an otherwise ardent Grammar Nazi). So many memories and I have even more to remember her by because in two years, we rubbed off on each other quite a bit. She stole my name calling of Something-y Mc-Something-son (I was so proud the first time I heard her say, "That's where the Slacky McSlackersons park!"). I stole her pet peeve of redundant acronyms (I just corrected a bank teller yesterday when he asked me to enter my "PIN Number" *cringe*). I am sure there are tons of other things, plenty of unconscious decisions where I ask myself, "I wonder how Syp would do this?" or "What would Syp think of this?"

Tonight I am trying to decide what I miss the most about Syp. Maybe it will be our deep conversations over pickled ginger about the complexities of life. Maybe it will be a silly argument about the quality of free food in the breakroom. Maybe I might actually miss a corny joke.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Andriod vs Apple Debate

Part 1 (on the debate itself):

I have seen this debate many times. I hear the conversations at lunch. I read the reviews. I read the message boards. One weird trend that I noticed is that many Android users think that Google loves them. Like at the end of the day Google is going to tuck them into bed at night and kiss them on the forehead, while Apple wants to murder all Android users.

Where the fuck is this idea coming from? Apple and Google are corporations. Every product they make has one single goal in mind: making mother fucking money. Google doesn't give a shit about you. Apple doesn't give a shit about you. They just want to sell you their shit. You are a stat on an accounting form, nothing more.

Read a review or two and try them both out in a store. Then decide for yourself which one you like the best. Please don't make your decision based on the word from some fanboy who thinks their phone is some religious way of life.

Part 2 (in the interest of full disclosure, and I suppose to actually add something substantial to the Android vs Apple debate):

I currently own an iPhone 3GS and I am happy with it. When it comes time to upgrade I will shop again in the way I described above. Overall, I am fairly unimpressed with the upgrades in the leap to the iPhone 4. Also, I am not a fan of how AT&T is changing the data fee. Content shielding hasn't really been an issue with me and I do like the closed platform-ness of Apple when it comes to devices like a phone. (I have never experienced A SINGLE issue). The deciding factor for me was... *drum roll*... I was already with AT&T. Boring, I know, but truth be told- I liked them both. I probably would have bought a Droid if I was already with Verizon. This could quite possibly be the deciding factor again when it comes time for me to upgrade.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

With you it's Catch 22. Because sometimes when I win, I actually lose.

I have created a list of reasons I think she argues with me:
  1. In the beginning, she used arguments as a way to get to know me. To see what I'd stand up for, what I believe in, etc.
  2. During the relationship, she'd argue to test me. She wanted to make sure that I had a spine. I could tell that she wanted me "to be the man" in certain situations.
  3. Lately, it seems like she argues to try and change me. There are no winners when we argue, just a middle ground. We "reach agreements".
  4. Alternative theories:
  5. She thinks that's how relationships are supposed to be. Maybe her parents argued a lot. Maybe she thinks TV dramatizations like "The OC" and "The Hills" are normal relationships.
  6. Some woman's magazine or episode of Oprah told her that healthy relationships require arguments.
  7. She wants me to argue back. She likes the attention.

The worst arguments are the ones that are out of the blue. I'll leave and will be perfectly fine. Then, out of no where, we are arguing over something one of her friends said. How does that happen?! Then, there are times where I can see the argument starting right before my very eyes. She'll pick a fight over something so stupid.

Mind you, these are all fights I can never win. Frustrating. Even if I am right, I have to be careful not to come off like an "insensitive jerk" or else that automatically causes the conversation to turn into how I could be a nicer person. Sometimes, right before I am about to win, the subject gets changed to "If you spent half as much time coming up with arguments as you did doing _____, we wouldn't even be arguing right now!"

Say somehow I managed to do it. In a short amount of time I was able to create the ideal argument. Sensitive, succinct, and gets my point across. This creates the perfect storm. This causes her to be "upset with herself" and there is nothing I can say or do to stop it. She doesn't want to talk and "needs alone time".

I once tried to avoid arguments by giving up. Think Dane Cook style, "You’re right. You’re so right. You’re the Czar of right, and we are all swimming in the sea of wrong as you float by in your ship of right." As you can imagine, this ended poorly. If I give up and she knows it, she feels like I don't understand her point of view and that I am just giving up to avoid arguments (which is true). She wants me to care as much as she does (about things that I simply don't). This means that I have to pretend to care and fight with her long enough to show I care, but I can never win or I am insensitive (let her win too fast and I didn't care enough).

This balancing act is draining. I hate it.

This entry reminds me of a huge rant on women that I wrote a long time ago. The overall message of the rant was that although I am frustrated by women, the most frustrating thing of all is that I am uncontrollably attracted to them. In the same light, what I find stranger than our actual arguments, is the fact that I keep putting myself through them. I'd like to say it's because of "sex" or "comfort" but those are things I can get elsewhere with much less drama. My brain is struggling to figure it out, and I don't know if I'll even like the answer if I find it. I think I'll quit while I am ahead because it feels like I am arguing with myself. There is one thing I discovered already about arguing with yourself: If you win, you also lose.

Monday, July 26, 2010

8 reasons I go to the movies alone

Last night I went to go see Inception by myself. What an amazing movie! However, this entry isn't about the movie, it's about seeing movies by yourself. What follows is a list of the reasons I go to the movies alone:
  1. I know exactly when the movie starts, I know when to leave my house and I can show up exactly when it starts.
  2. I am going to see exactly what I want to see.
  3. I never have to buy anything from the snack stand. I can buy candy beforehand if I really want some. For some reason, all the girls I bring get really thiiiiiiiirsty right before the movie starts.
  4. It's cheaper. (see #3)
  5. Sitting next to someone for 2 hours with little or no talking is a really stupid way to spend "quality time" with someone.
  6. I see the movie when I want to see it, like Monday nights for example. Empty theaters rock!
  7. When the movie is over, I can be the first one out the door. For some reason when I go with friends I get trapped in that slow moving stair mob. Every time.
  8. It's less strain on friendships. Mainly because I get violent thoughts toward these friends:
    • The "Ha, did you see that?" friend.
    • The loud laughing friend who thinks everything is funny.
    • The friend that bounces their foot so hard that it shakes my seat.
    • The chews-really-loudly-on-noisy-foods friend. "Hey you want some of these nachos? No? Well I snuck in some banana chips if you want some of these... man this bag is hard to open..."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top Chef Andrew

Uhh... close enough?

Cooking is hard. It's just following directions, right? WRONG. There seems to be a long list of unspoken rules that I never learned.

I never knew what hot foods in plastic containers could do.
I learned the hard way about putting a shiny object in the microwave.
I discovered that you have to make sure the oil is insanely hot before attempting to fry stuff.
I simultaneously discovered that hot oil bubbles like mad when you drop stuff in it and hurts like a bitch when it hits your skin.
I found out that cooking noodles in a small pot will make them all soggy and gross.
I found out that dried herbs and fresh herbs can sometimes have a huge difference in the strength of taste.
...the list goes on and on.

I used to think that I could be good at anything I set my mind to... until now. When I cook, I feel like a living demo for Murphy's law.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Real You

A short while ago I wrote an entry about Single Life and bringing the A game. Since then, I have shared the sentiment of the entry with a few friends and received some mixed responses. This followup entry aims to explain why the A game is important to me and to clarify what exactly the A game is.

I will start by saying that my way of dating is not the only way to do things. "Bringing your A game" just might not be for you. Maybe it is a woman's "style" to be so comfortable that she doesn't care to impress me. Or maybe she is so naturally impressive that she doesn't even have an A game to begin with. There is nothing wrong with those women, I just wouldn't be interested. The importance of bringing the A game isn't necessarily about the result, it's about trying. I like it when a girl goes out of her way to impress me and it feels nice to be worthy of their effort.

Addressing the idea that bringing the A game is deceptive or misleading. It's not. I would argue that most people probably bring their A game without even knowing it.

I think the negative stigma associated with "bringing the A game" is due to the choice of words, but it's really not as bad as it sounds. Here is a better way to explain it: Have you ever heard the phrase "put your best foot forward" or done an interview? It's like that. It should feel natural to want to make a good first impression, especially when dating. I think everyone understands that even the most healthy relationships have bad times and disagreements, but in the beginning we are (hopefully) trying to avoid those things. That is what bringing the A game is. The A game person is the cautious and considerate person in the beginning parts of dating.

My A game person is still me. It's not like I hired someone to go on those dates for me. I was actually me who held those doors and refrained from swearing the entire night. That's just how I am around the girls I date. Sure I behave different when I am with my friends. I also behave different when I am at work or when I am around my parents. Like most people, I behave differently depending on my settings. You can't just pick one of those guys and call that one "the real me" because they are all really me.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Everyone Has A Little Captain In Them!

As a volunteer I always wondered what went on behind the scenes. My curiosity first led me to become a Team Leader for the Flex-Voluntering Program with Volunteer San Diego. My particular project was a piece of cake. There were three other team leaders if I ever needed someone to cover, the project had already been running for ten years so there was already a smooth line of communication with the library, and there were a myriad of "regulars" who attended the project.

Fast forward and I am signing up to be a Site Captain for Serve-a-thon 2009. This should be just like being a Team Leader, right? Wrong. All of these projects are quite literally just "ideas-written-on-paper" until you bring them to life. It's all you. Everything from contacting the site where you'll be volunteering, to getting the supplies that you'll be using, to keeping contact with the volunteers you'll be leading, to running the show on the day of. After learning all of this, my expectations flew out the window.

I attended my first training to get a better hold on what I needed to do. When I arrived, everything was so overwhelming. I was already off to a bit a late start because I had missed a couple trainings. The Site Captains there all seemed unfazed by the daunting tasks ahead of them. It was intimidating to sit and listen to all the progress they had already made. Then, I realized what all these Site Captains already knew. I understood why they didn't seem worried: It isn't all you. You are not alone. The staff at VSD is there for a reason. Between trainings and emails there was always someone around to answer questions.

Fast forward through a few more trainings and the project is finally here. My project went off with a few bumps here and there, but overall, it was a huge success. KUSI even came out to film us at one point. I would later find out that my fellow Site Captains had similar experiences and that all of Serve-a-thon was going great. It felt good to be a part of something that was making such a huge impact.

So that was my story from last year. I was scared, I had no idea what to expect, and I had a late start to top it all off. A year later I am signed up to do it all over again. This time around it looks like it will be even easier to ask questions and get support. Hopefully my story can provide hope for those wondering if they can do it; a year ago I wasn't sure that I could. With a positive attitude and a little help from VSD, I discovered that I had a little captain in me.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Remembering My Grandfather

I never really had a father figure in my younger years. My real father took off and my step-dad was too busy tiptoeing around me to make sure he didn't piss off my mom. The first alpha-male-role-model-figure that I had growing up was my grandfather. My grandfather was a self made businessman who left a fortune in Saigon for the safety and freedom of his family. He came to the United States with only the clothes on his back and the respect from members of the Vietnamese Community. Instead of building up a huge construction empire again, he decided to focus on the empire that was his family. I guess I should mention that he didn't just come with clothes and respect, he also brought one of his eleven wives and the five children that she bore.

What would his first job be after being a cut-throat Vietnamese businessman? He was ready to do anything for his family. He was ready to take a job as a janitor. He could work on his English skills and, more importantly, bring home a paycheck. He eventually landed a job and became a successful banker but I can't imagine what it was like to go from a mansion with cooks and maids to potentially scrubbing other peoples toilets. From my understanding, he never complained about it. I only ever heard about his past from my aunt and uncles because he never talked about anything from the past. By the time we were hanging out, he was already retired and always happy.

We hung out almost every day when I was a kid. My mother was really busy getting her own life together and my step-dad wasn't in the picture yet. So my grandfather would be the one to pick me up from school every day. He would teach me little random things and answer my stupid questions. He taught me simple lifehacks that seem so trivial now that I am older. I suppose we all learned that stuff somewhere though. He was the guy that did that for me and I thanked him all the time. I still remember the day he told me about putting on socks before pants! At the time it was such a game changer!

When he took me along to run errands I would notice the droves of people who approached him to shake his hand. I never cared why and never listened to the conversations because I was always preparing myself for the inevitable cheek-pinch or head-pat. I put up with it though because he would buy me some sweet rice or macadamia nuts afterward.

Then came dinner time. Every single weeknight my aunt and uncles would slowly trickle into his house where the whole family gathered for a dinner that my grandmother made. I never knew any better, but I would later find out that this whole occurrence was rare and amazing. Every night a man and his wife had dinner with all 5 of his kids who were in their 30's and 40's. It boggles my mind how he was able to retain such strong sense of family when it seemed to be completely lost in my generation. It probably had to do with how much he helped everyone. Not only did he send every single one his kids to college, but he also helped them all buy their first homes.

I then witnessed the family bond drift apart. My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer and started to go through chemotherapy. This prevented her from cooking, so my mother and aunt tried to keep the family dinners going themselves. It was too much work for them and the food was never as good anyways. So then the dinners became a once a week thing. Then, one day, they just ended. I made it a point to visit my grandfather at least once in a while and he always showed up to my awards ceremonies. There was no way we could see each other as much as we used to; I was too wrapped up with my own life now.

I was in my last year of middle school when my grandfather died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Everyone in the family was already prepared for my grandmothers death. No one was prepared for his death. I mean, the man was incredibly fit; I used to walk in to the patio and catch him in the middle of his daily 50 sit-ups. His death had brought us all a shock but it also brought us all together for the first time in a long time. We would discover that he left behind a small fortune, but we all remembered that it was never about money with grandpa. It was always about family. That night and the days leading up to his funeral, our family agreed that we would try to see each other more often. Sometimes it feels like his family values transcend the grave. Like it keeps my cousin together with her mom. Like it keeps me together with my mom. It's like we all stay together to honor his memory.

It has been just over 10 years since my grandfather passed away but I still think about him all the time. I think about his lessons of respect and sacrifice. I think about his little lifehacks and his peculiar country music taste. I think about him when I try to imagine the type of family values that I will have when I am older. I think about the legacy that he left behind and I can only hope to one day be half the man that my grandfather was.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Single? Bring your A game.

Single life rocks. What are the good things about a committed relationship? Stability? Comfort? Cheaper taxes?

Here is the single greatest thing about early-stage dating: You are trying to impress each other. This means you get the A game from both parties involved. That is, both people look their best, they have interesting conversations, they both avoid swearing, farting, and burping in front of each other, and they bust out the crazy sex moves in bed.

If the other person isn't going out of their way to impress you... it's kind of insulting, it's like they don't even care. For me, this beginning stage is an important part of courtship. It's also really enjoyable. In fact, it is so enjoyable, that once a girl starts to get comfortable, I feel myself pushing them away. I don't want to know what your farts smell like. I don't want to hear about your friends coworkers dog. And to be harshly honest, the variety in the bedroom doesn't hurt either.

Some other bonuses of single life:
  1. Less time consuming. Steady relationships require "work". Everyone talks about how when you're in a committed relationship you have to enjoy working towards a goal together. How about no. How about the only "work" I do is plan a fantastic and enjoyable date, and the only "work" you do is show up and bring your A game.
  2. Answer to no one. I don't want a girl who is comfortable enough to ask me, "What are you doing and who are you with?" It's none of your business. Maybe I am dating another girl. Maybe I am watching sports. I am definitely doing... well... whatever the fuck I want to do.
  3. Less stress. People are less likely to get hurt when these relationships eventually end. This is because the time involved is much shorter than the long-term relationships. Sure it will sting, but the time to move on is shorter as well.
  4. Becoming a better person for yourself. With more time, less stress, and no one to answer to, you have more time to improve yourself. It's great if you meet someone who makes you want to be a better person, but shouldn't you want that for yourself anyways? Also, this way, you can be sure you aren't "improving" to the standards of someone else.
  5. Finding your passions. You can probably do this and number 4 while in a relationship, but they're both easier to do in single life. When you're single, things are clearer; your passions aren't their passions. You are becoming the person you want to be.

Will I eventually settle down? Maybe. Right now, I feel like I can be single for life. If I do settle down though, my enthusiasm for single life will have benefited me greatly. I can look back and have no regrets. I can be comfortable in knowing that I saw a good variety of people. I can be assured that this woman has to be pretty awesome to make me change my mind about single life. Just thinking about a woman like that gets me motivated to bring my A game, every single time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nice Guys vs nice guys

There are nice guys and then there are Nice Guys. Everyone knows a nice guy, they are genuine people. The nice guy will respect you, do nice things for you, basically treat you like they'd treat any friend, but they won't expect you to have sex with them in return. They won't get all passive-aggressive and whiny when you "friend-zone" them. They'll just move on, because they realize that not every girl they go after is going to be into them. These are guys who eventually land in relationships with awesome, non-crazy women with healthy levels of self-esteem.

Then we have Nice Guys. On the outside, they portray themselves as kind and caring souls, shoulders to cry on, guys who are always There For You. They'll go out of their way to help you out, but they do it with an ulterior motive. They think that becoming your knight in shining armor entitles them to an all-expenses-paid excursion inside your pants. They put you on a pedestal instead of interacting with you like you're a regular person. They refuse to speak up when they disagree with something you say (but they won't forget it, expect it to rear its ugly head later). They throw private or public temper tantrums if they are rejected and blame your lack of interest on the fact that you only like guys who treat you like crap. They're unable to see that their own behavior is disrespectful and dishonest. Instead of confronting their own issues, they continue to go after girls who just aren't interested in them. Thus, they can always paint themselves as selfless martyrs, hopeless romantics who've been played by evil girls who just go craaazy for collar-popping, date-raping, birthday-forgetting losers.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"I know it sounds boring, but I think it's the boring stuff that I remember most."

This will be the second movie review of my blog. Don't worry, Up will fare much better than The Lion King.

I was hanging out with my little cousins and needed a break so I put on the Pixar movie Up. I have been a fan of Pixar since Finding Nemo and The Incredibles but for some reason I didn't watch this one until today. Pixar has this annual trend of putting out some really good movies (I can't wait to see Toy Story 3 this summer) and Up falls right into that category as well.

Up is a movie with cute well-developed characters, outstanding animation, and a terrific story. The message really hit home for me and left me a little teary eyed. Well, not literally, because, you know... I'm tough and stuff.

The main message of the movie is that most of us get caught up in daily issues and the responsibilities of living. Carl and his wife Ellie save and plan their whole lives (since they were children) to go to Paradise Falls. Sadly, Ellie never makes it on that adventure. At 70-something, Carl sets off to live out their dream and go to Paradise Falls. On his journey, Carl meets a little boy named Russel, who embodies pureness of spirit. Russel is responsible for the beautiful quote in the title of this entry. He reminds us that, many times, it is the most ordinary things that we miss the most once they are gone.

Carl and Ellie show that sometimes we can wait our whole lifetime for an adventure. We tell ourselves that we will be happy once we get that promotion or diploma. We say that we will be content when we buy that new boat or pay off our house. We think that we can finally relax once we go on a vacation.

We tend to live so far in the future that we forget to be present to the moment. Somehow we forget that today is part of our adventure also.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Have you had life changing moments?

My short answer was: "Yes. Many." She looked surprised. She didn't understand and I didn't care to elaborate. If I did, my answer would been a lot longer...

Yes. I've had many.

When I lost my virginity. The first time I drove a car. The first time I programmed on a computer. The first time I drank alcohol, and coffee. Reading any of a hundred different authors, listening to any of hundreds of musicians, seeing the souls of artists poured out into verse, canvas, or note and feeling their raw emotions with a chaser of connectedness. Any of the near-death experiences I noticed, and the analysis of the otherwise inconsequential events that precipitated them. Some moments of special receptiveness to mundane beauties like frost on rose petals or the bleed fires of oil refineries in the fog that crystallized a peck of life and made me stop and consciously feel. The day I met my first cat, and the day I watched his chest stop rising. The first time I noticed I was drinking myself to sleep, and the day I realized I'd stopped dreaming. Heartbreak. The first really really good taco I ate. When I realized I was more intelligent than my parents, and when I found out I was stronger than my father. And hell, thousands of bits vaguely remembered that nonetheless changed me into the fingers typing this.

Life's a fucking palimpsest, and each layer is a moment that bounced us one way or another. If you don't notice them changing you, you're just not paying attention.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blows my mind

I don't think I could own a gun for the fear that I would shoot myself. However, I am not suicidal. I know there seems to be a contradiction in those last two sentences, so let me try to explain.

Something about having a gun would open the possibility that I could someday put the gun to my head and pull the trigger. It would be a daily option so easily available that one day I'm afraid I would do it. This is the same feeling I get when I hike to the edge of a cliff and contemplate what it would be like to jump. The same feeling I get when drive and think about what it would be like to swerve into oncoming traffic. It's not like I have these thoughts often and I don't particularly dwell on them or anything. It's just a rundown of all the particular scenarios. It's just my mind wandering, creating a list of all the possibilities.

Here is a similar (but less serious) impulse that I sometimes get. I'll be having a conversation with someone when all of a sudden I think to myself, "Wow. What would happen if I just said [x]?" Where [x] is usually some horribly offensive statement that would take the conversation into a drastically different direction. Never in a million years would I actually say these words, but there they are, popping into my mind. Some phrase that could just explode the entire situation. What fascinates me is why I even drift to these thoughts in the first place. Equally perplexing is my natural instinct that prevents me from saying or doing any of these things. This instinct must be inherent to my biology, related to self-preservation and status quo.

For the few friends who read this blog, please do not worry about me, I won't blow my brains out. This entry was written merely to try and articulate a phenomenon that I felt. I caught someone off guard earlier with my reasonably pro-gun stance. My thoughts after that conversation fell on politics. Then gun ownership. Then myself owning a gun. Then this. Now I can't seem to get to sleep. Tonight, I will continue to stay up and read about psychology's "id, ego, and superego". In spite of my tiredness, I can read these articles for hours because they're all so interesting. Sometimes I really think I should have changed my major to Cog-Sci. This stuff really blows my mind.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why I speed

I have a feeling I will look back on these days and think about how silly I was. How unnecessary the insurance costs were. How much wasted money went into speeding tickets. All that said, I don't think I'll regret it one bit. If not now, when?

You can die doing just about anything. If you can manage to survive all of that? You'll eventually die anyways. Tupac once said, "The only promise in life is death." So I might as well enjoy myself with the time I have, right? I enjoy driving fast and I am prepared for the consequences. Worse than my own death, would be living with the guilt of knowing I killed another person.

I try not to let my fears hold me back from doing the things I enjoy.

If there was ever going to be an incident to get me to drive slower, it would have been my tire blowout. Exactly two years ago today, March 10th 2008, I was driving home on the 163 going about 130mph. I was in the fast lane with a semi to my right when my tire blew out. I could tell my car was about to spin out of control and crash. Fortunately my ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) kicked-in and sped up my other tire, allowing me to get to the shoulder safely. My car saved my life that day. This is the reason I tell people I love my car.

No matter how dark my days may get, none of them are darker than it could have been. Death. Everything looks a brighter in comparison. I remember how fast my heart was beating after that all went down. I got a new lease on life that day.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Time heals everything

This blog might as well be a renamed "Andrew's Collection of Cliches". These past few months they've all been so applicable though. "Familiarity breeds contempt." "Fake it till you make it." "Easier said than done." Get em while they're hot! Today, our featured cliche is "Time heals everything."

I have been trying to eliminate my anger for a while now. I have not been a happy person. Nothing amazing has happened. No amazing epiphany. No startling event to thrust me into being a new person. Time has just passed. There are now more days between me and the events that caused my anger. Time has slowly taken its effect. Memories are no longer so fresh in my mind. Not forgotten, just in the past. All of a sudden... I am not that angry anymore.

The time has moved slow, but it has moved sure enough. There are certain moments in your life that force you to categorize things into "before" and "after". Today, I think I am ready for "my life after depression". Perhaps this is faking it till I make it. Oh well.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Hopefully-Therapeutic Vent

Newsflash! I have figured out what causes depression. The root cause for depression is anger. Okay, not exactly ground breaking news. I already knew anger was associated with things like verbally lashing out, spousal abuse, and cutting off other drivers. What I have recently discovered is that anger can cause "depression" too. There's more to anger than the temporary thoughts of rage. It can change your whole mindset. Negativity feeds off anger.

So great, I figured out this depression. It only took me a month. Fuck, I'm slow. That is only half of the battle though. Now, I am faced with the task of "destroying" my anger. An ironic word choice I used when stating my goal was to: "Find out what is really fucking bothering me. Then destroy it." How can you just stop being angry? Eliminating the root cause of your anger? Minimizing the value of what is angering you (a.k.a. Getting over it)? Anger management classes? Stress release? I suppose there are a bunch of ways to overcome anger. I normally spar or vent when I am angry. I remember about a year ago when I vented a nerdrage to the blagosphere and it was quite the therapeutic experience. I will try and duplicate that experience by recalling the events in my recent past. What follows is a recollection of my constant stream of disappointment.

First, there was some small bullshit at work that had me feeling generally useless. A presentation got shot down that I had been working on for about two months. Not so bad, but this was also coupled with the first mediocre perf-review of my life. Design work had me generally unmotivated for 8-9 hours a day and I spent a good deal of it surfing Reddit or Christmas shopping on Amazon. Next was some financial fallout with a friend who was being delinquent on payments for a joint-membership at kung-fu. The instructors attempted to coerce me into paying for him. When that didn't work, they tried using me as a collector. I hurt my wrist, so I wasn't even able to practice for a couple weeks. They picked a bad time to pull that shit. I was paying for something that I wasn't even currently using and I was getting hustled? Fuck that. Next was some mild family drama due to me not caring about my aunt with cancer. I don't care if she is family. If she is stupid, she is stupid. Being a blood relative or dying does not change the fact that a spade is a spade. Next was the usual Winter Blues that I anticipate around this time of year. It wasn't all that bad but it definitely didn't help. With this other crap going on, it would have been nice to have a healthy relationship. A confidant, someone who could make all the bullshit go away, a girlfriend to take care of and do nice things for... or just anyone at all. Next I lost my drive for an MBA, had a couple bad runs in Vegas, watched both of my football teams lose in one day, got a speeding ticket, organized a downtown event that turned into a bust, left the roof of my car down in the rain, destroyed my favorite jeans... and it gets worse.

I have been trying to buy a place for about a year. I told myself that everything would be okay if I could just have this one win. Generally when you open up escrow, you are in there, both parties are committed. I unfortunately had escrow canceled once before, but I was told that was a rare case. The seller had put in a clause allowing him to back-out after an inspection. He did exactly that and my hopes were crushed. Fast forward 3 months and I am about to close escrow on a new/better/cheaper place. This seller was ready to go. It was a short sale that we had to get closed before the banks decided to re-appraise. It was currently appraised at the bottom of the market, so I was eager to close at this price too. We quickly opened up escrow and I needed a loan in an unusually fast amount of time. The correct strings were being pulled and everything was falling into place. It was difficult, but good things usually are. We sped up the process and communicated terms fast. We backdated the loan to 2009 allowing us to skip some added 2010 protocol. The goal was near and we had one last turn before the finish line. My loan company was just waiting for an inspection to come back.

The inspection comes back and there is a pending litigation against the complex. Loan app denied. Game over. No bank in the world would give out a home loan for a condo complex with a pending litigation. Even if I could get a different loan, it wouldn't be in time. By the time the litigation gets removed or I get a loan, it will be reappraised for an undoubtedly higher price. Dreams crushed. It gets worse.

My Realtor, who also normally did my loans, was busy tending to her mother with health problems so she recommended a Loan Agent to me. The two of them are good friends so I gave this Loan Agent my full trust. I even gave the Loan Agent my credit card number and said "run anything you need". Big mistake. Turns out that when you are a Loan Agent not only do you make friends with my Realtor, but you make friends with plumbers, carpenters, repairmen, inspectors, and pretty much anyone else involved in the whole process. As it turns out, the Loan Agent had no problem hiring friends and paying them using my credit card. In return I'm sure she gets commission for bringing clients. Loan Agents are self-dealing crooks that should not be trusted. I had made a prior agreement with my Realtor stating any upfront fees would be refunded by the seller if escrow was ever canceled. Apparently this agreement was not communicated to the Loan Agent. The resulting week involved me trying to get hundreds of dollars back from my Realtor and the Loan Agent. After tons of "I'm sorry" emails from my Realtor and the Loan Agent, I decided to contact the companies that employ them. After telling me how "valuable of a customer" I am, one of the companies reimbursed me for a measly HOA Cert (pennies compared to the inspection). It gets worse.

What I have not mentioned yet is that my Realtor is a family friend. She is very good friends with my mother. (She even named her first boy Andrew also). In this current market, home buyers have tons of options when looking for Realtors or Loan Agents, so customer retention and word-of-mouth-recommendations are paramount. Apparently my Realtor got hand slapped at work and this information trickles down to my mother. My mother emails me saying my Realtor is "very sorry" and that I have "a lot to learn". This pisses me off. What happens between me and my Realtor concerning my finances should not make it to my mother. Ever heard of client confidentiality? This whole industry is based on trust. Trust that has boundaries. Trust that she lost. Sure, my Realtor is "very sorry" and her mother is having health problems. I. do. not. care. I am coldhearted when it comes to business and finance. If getting her fired would put money back in my pocket, I'd get her fired. It would be easy at this point because of the client confidentiality breach. I decide not to. Not because I am sympathetic, but because getting her fired would not benefit me in any way. Nothing is going to get me back my several hundreds of dollars. Well, perhaps blackmailing my Realtor to pay it out of pocket if she wants to keep her job, but I decided against that.

Still fearing for her friend, my mother gives me a rare confrontation-in-person. My mother takes the angle of trying to school me on the risks of home buying. For a little bit of background, she has never even done it before. Her parents held her hand through everything. She didn't even put up a dime for the down payment. She continues to babble and I am getting pissed off. It doesn't help that her sentences are starting to contradict each other. I eventually reach my boiling point and my mom is mid sentence, "Back when I bought.." when I cut her off and say, "You mean when all you did was co-sign a paper? Your parents did everything for you. They are dead, or I would ask them for help. I don't want your help. I don't want your 2 cents." My cold remarks are met with her usual onslaught of how she gave birth to me and how she supported me when I was younger. Typical rhetoric with words like "respect" and "appreciation". This time I didn't just cover up my good-ear and nod along. I wasn't having it. I raged on her, "What the fuck do you want me to do? Did you want me to work when I was two years old to support myself? Trust me, I would if I could. Just so you couldn't hold the past over my head. The only thing I am going to learn from you, is how to be a bad parent. There's a difference between a parent and a provider. We both know I don't need you anymore." As soon as those sentences left my mouth, I realized I shouldn't have said them. Although all those things are true, I can only imagine how soul crushing it is to hear your own son call you a "bad parent" and dismiss you as a "provider". I don't know how my mom puts up with it to be honest. I imagine her saying "Fine, leave." (a scenario I have planned for) but it never seems to happen. Maybe it's something about Asians that require them to have the appearance of a solid family household. Maybe she wants her son around because it's one of the few things in her life she can brag about and pretend to take credit for. Maybe she knows the personality I have to cut people out of my life (like my aunt) and knows that once I leave I won't be coming back.

I don't know if those things should be enough to make a person angry and depressed, but it worked for me. I have been over-reactive, angry, tired, and not-my-usual-positive self. If it is possible, I have become more cynical than ever. Life sucks, people are stupid, and things rarely go the way you want. I keep telling myself, "Anger is a wasted emotion." "Focus on the good." "Go eat a Nutella Crêpe." Nothing seems to be working. I tried to put some perspective on my issues by comparing it to the huge tragedy in Haiti. I see other people dealing with much worse things. My problems are not catastrophic in nature, but damn it, they are still my problems. Problems that made me angry. Problems that leave me depressed.

In a rare flash of optimism I decided to take the day off work to write this vent. Perhaps there will be some therapeutic magic once I hit the publish button. In the back of my mind though, I know what I need to do. I know what really needs to happen. I just need to let everything go and stop caring about the things that I can't do anything about. Easier said than done.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Having patients!

I wonder if any of the 40+ people on that email distro told my boss about his spelling mistake. I sure as hell didn't. With my current string of luck, I'd probably get fired.

On a related note, my patience has been tested recently. Turns out I have more than I thought. I don't know how much more patience I'll have with this "depression" bullshit though. Tonight I sit back and ask myself, "Am I doing everything in my power to get myself out of this?" Sadly, the answer is undoubtedly "No." I have become lethargic and unusually lazy. I now contemplate the consequences of "letting depression win" and what that would look like. I imagine it as living the same way I am now, but just accepting that I'll be miserable and treating myself to as much escapism as possible. It sounds pretty awful typed out, but it seems like a realistic (and attractive) option as of late.

In my attempts to "not let it win" I have been trying to channel the energy that I do have, into doing productive things. More volunteer work. Practicing cooking recipes. Cranking up my martial arts training. Sadly, all these things feel like distractions that are not improving my overall disposition towards life. Part of me is tempted to just "fake it till I make it". Honestly, it's all so exhausting. How much soul searching can I take? How much can I let my restless mind wander? I haven't had a good nights sleep since I can remember and my diet is all over the place.

The only thing that rivals how exhausting it is, is how confusing it all is. I fail to even articulate what "depression" is. It's not quite lack-of-relationship lonely and it's not quite the-day-after-your-dog-died sad. I want to compare it to extreme hopelessness, like standing before a mountain and not being able to see the top. Like every step you take is pointless and there is this overwhelming feeling that you are extremely... lost. I suppose at least "being lost" implies having a destination in mind though. So I cant put my finger on what depression is, but what I do know is that it makes everything so slow. The days feel incredibly long and there doesn't seem to be anything to look forward to.

Being left to my own devices has been alright, but I concede that I am not very "emotionally-smart". I contemplate turning to others but I wonder how anyone else could help anyway. I know I am not the only one who has ever felt this way. People have gone through this and beat it before. Maybe others could help. I want more than anything to discover this for myself. For one, asking for help is selfish; I know that I am still not good company right now. (In fact, I just raged on my mother last week. Not pretty.) Secondly, getting help robs me of the chance to "do it myself". Isolation creates an opportunity for self-accomplishment. On the plus side, there is a lot of self-discovery that I've been going though; it reminds me of the younger years when I was quite the autodidact.

I guess this talk of "figuring it out for myself" and "looking at the plus side" proves that I am not as hopeless as I thought. I'll keep waiting... waiting patiently for some kind of epiphany or life changing event to thrust me into being a different person.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Once we get to know them

Why is it so often that people hate their family members? Ever notice how the people we hate the most are typically people we know really well? We give complete strangers the benefit of doubt, a clean slate. Only after we get to know them better, can we see who they really are. It's only after we have become comfortable and familiar with them, can we see all the ugly things that the other people don't see.

"Familiarity breeds contempt."

This idiom has been held as an absolute truth for many years. Like most belabored cliches, there is often a lot of truth behind them. There is one thing that I think this saying fails to recognize though. The person we know the best is... ourselves.

Recently, I have had the time for a lot of inward reflection. I have "gotten to know" myself. I was able to make one huge realization in the past week. I am quick to point fingers and blame something else to absolve myself of guilt. Popular targets for blame include: parents, friends, bad situations, and a-a-alcohol (damn that song...).

It is extremely hard to be completely honest with yourself. But that is all you can do when presented with solitude and isolation. My hiatus has given me that. I have owned up to the fact that I am the cause of my situation. It wasn't random chance; it happened because I let it happen. I see this as an important realization because if I can manage to make it out of this "depression", I won't fall back in easily.

So I can't tell if the hiatus is working. On one hand, I have started to realize some things and stopped making excuses for myself. On the other hand, I hate myself a lot more than I did before. I will log my progress for now as a "mediocre success" and continue to stick it out. Heck, it's only been a week. The Einstein Quote of the Day on iGoogle seems somewhat prophetic: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Let's hope I don't go insane. Apart from canceling the Vegas trip, I can't really say that I miss my social life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Suicide, Depression, Anger, and Purpose

Let me begin by stating that suicide is for fucking losers. Suicide is the easy way out for ignorant pricks. I consider it to be the ultimate selfish act. Nowadays, my disdain for those who commit suicide is the only thing keeping me from that option. I would never want to be associated with them. (Well except for maybe Van Gogh, but he's quite the exception).

These last few months have left me feeling extremely "depressed". At first, I was in denial and tried to dance around the label. I'd tell myself, “Eh, it's just a rut.” “It is just the Winter Blues.” I joked with my friends, “Hey! Perfect people have bad days too!” Underneath though, I knew something was wrong. I ended up taking a plethora of self tests to try and figure out if I was depressed or not. Well apparently I have all the symptoms: insomnia, difficulty concentrating, irritability, decreased sex drive, lack of motivation, the list goes on. The next step followed quickly, acceptance. I admitted to myself, “Fine, I am depressed, now what?”

I logically attempted to remedy my situation. Depression is something I've seen my ex-girlfriend go through and I've seen it in the movies. But now it's me. I didn't know what to do. I turned to my friends and reached out to those who were available. I continued to do the things I normally did, hoping that it would go away. No one really believed me, I am not sure if I even believed it myself. I wanted to run into a string of good luck so it could just disappear. I felt sad, lonely, and empty all the time and even the small wins in my life did nothing for me anymore. It wasn't working. I needed to try something else and I didn't want to do anything drastic or stupid, so I attempted to look online to fix myself. “Good ol' Google, the internet can't fail me.”

Or can it. I found very little non-medical or non-psychiatric advice. Maybe I am old school, but I am not a proponent of those kinds of solutions. I find it disgusting that boys are being prescribed Riddlen just for being boys. I find it stupid that people stay in horrible marriages at the advice of their "marriage counselors" rather than just splitting up. All of it seemed stupid to me, this fake "illness" with stupid solutions. Hell, if I was going to take Tricylic Antidepressants or Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors to make myself feel better, I might as well spend the fucking money in a strip club. I say that is a better (and less dependence-based) temporary solution.

What can I do? The internet failed me for the first time in a long time. I don't want to see a “professional”. I don't want to dope myself up everyday on happy pills. I ran into a wall, but this feeling wasn't new. It has happened before; I just need to remember what I did then.

I hadn't had big problems in a while. Things were on cruise control and I was feeling pretty invincible with a “blessed life”. Wait, now I remember. Things have not always been this easy, I have had to rise to the occasion multiple times before. I just need to do what I have done my whole life, what everyone else does: simply overcome obstacles. I just have to look inside myself and present it as another obstacle to overcome.

Too long I have relied on my friends for their advice on a life they don't live. Too long I have found comfort in dating random girls to keep myself entertained and distracted. Enough of the mild escapism of other people; I need to deal with my problems. This time, my obstacle is “depression”.

I have decided to take a hiatus from my social life for two reasons:

One – keeping everyone away for my own good. I need to have my own thoughts and take everything at face value. At the end of the day, I may call them "friends", but I don't give a shit what they think and shouldn't let anything they say effect me. Normally, I am pretty good at recognizing when I am in over my head and need help, but this isn't something that a friend can coach me through. This isn't something that anyone can help me with.

Two – keeping everyone away for their own good. I know that I am not good company right now. I am filled with so much rage, even at this very moment, dealing with loan agents that are self-dealing crooks just happened to be an exclamation point on a snowstorm of shitty events in my life. Every playful comment made by a friend would probably cause me to lash out and say hurtful things. I have had that happen one time in the past and it was not pretty. Consider this "learning from my mistakes".

Some of my friends will understand and some will not. I anticipate losing many friends during this hiatus and frankly I don't give a shit. Who will stick around? Who can say if anything can be the same when it is over? I suppose that's the whole point. Things should not be the same. I have already been able to fix one thing. It actually happened just now, on day one of my hiatus. I no longer feel that perpetual “empty” feeling. This anger has given me purpose and the hiatus is my tool.

I now carry only one mission on my mind at all times: Find out what is really fucking bothering me. Then destroy it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

If you make a job out of what you love, what you love will become a job

For a long time I subscribed to the notion that your occupation should be directly related to your passions. "Do what you love!" is what I have been told my whole life.

I used to love playing video games. One game, World of Warcraft, took over my life for about a year or so. I became extremely good at the game. Loved it. People started paying me real money to play. But one night it happened: I was being called by one of my team members to get online and play so we could "sell our points for this week". I felt obligated to play. World of Warcraft became work. That was the moment I lost my passion for gaming.

I used to be very passionate about programming. Over time, programming became work. Part of me still likes to game a bit, part of me still likes coding a bit. I have actually missed programming over the past month, where all I have been doing is design work. I am not saying that everyone should hate their jobs, but at the end of the day: work is work.

I have decided to try and preserve my passions by not letting money get involved.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rambledump of current thoughts. Bring it on Twenty-Ten

1) Not setting any goals for 2010 because I don't want to jinx things. I failed my only goal of "buying a place" in 2009. I want a place so bad. Over 30 offers submitted at asking price. W. T. F.


3) Holy crap, I am lagging seriously on the MBA application process for this Fall. More importantly: "Where has my motivation gone?" I am pretty sure I can get in if I just fucking apply. Blah.

4) Why is there even such a thing as a "Guilty Pleasure"? If you like it, own it. Do it. Who cares what other people think? If it makes you look stupid or gay or not-normal... who gives a fuck? I am getting real sick of seeing an incessant need to try and conform to other peoples expectations.

5) My friend set his one goal for the year to get over his ex-girlfriend. Sure he has been with her since he was 16, and I cant pretend I know what that is like. But... GET OVER IT MAN! For his situation I want to give him this SA quote:

"Calm down. Breathe. This isn't the end of a beautiful love life that ended suddenly, this is the beginning of the rest of your goddamn life, and it's only going to get better from here. You're free. Realize that. This girl wanted to marry you, and she's willing to fuck some dipshit behind your back?

You dodged a massive fucking bullet, man. The really huge Super Mario kind with the eyes on the side, where you had to run and duck into the little divit to avoid shrinking. You did that. You got into that divit, and you're still super sized, and you can break blocks with your face. Now get out there and step on some fucking turtles."

I love that quote!

6) My overwhelming desire to drop everything and escape is becoming larger and larger. I have been trying to give myself a reason to stay: buying a place, getting involved with women, strengthening friendships, feeling a sense of family.

None of that is happening.

I want to escape and start over. Nothing is holding me back right now. I have the means, now I just need the courage.