Monday, March 28, 2011


My twenties were all about big birthdays. I liked to have big parties, excuses to invite everyone I knew and drink (even) more than usual since everyone is buying you drinks. The birthday party is the day where everyone shows up, even if it's just for a drink, because it's your birthday. You are surrounded by all these people you love and it's just magical! It's the high school equivalent of having your locker decorated so everyone knows you have friends who spent time cutting out letters of your name and coming to school fifteen minutes earlier to paste them on your locker, along with cutouts of Jared Leto and Mylar balloons tied to the handle.

My 29th birthday was an odd party in the middle of sobriety and following a life-changing week in the desert, and I remember spending most of my party feeling anxious and waiting for the peripheral invitees to leave so I could spend quality time with the besties.

Last year, I spent my 30th birthday in the middle of nowhere by myself, and I sort of figured it would pretty much signal the end of birthdays for me. It's a different sort of celebration to have a birthday by yourself, where nobody can reach you with wishes, there's no cake, no candles, and the little part of you that misses that gets tamped down by the part of you that realizes you truly don't need that shit to feel festive.

This year, I sort of thought I would have a big party to celebrate being back in San Francisco, but my family showed up and then the idea of a party a week later sounded so silly that I might as well wait for next year, or at least an occasion where something cool is being celebrated--like, hopefully, the "publication" of my first e-book, which should be soon. I thought it would be more fun to have some sort of accomplishment to celebrate, because I'm really tired of alternately bitching about or avoiding the topic of my employment status.

But I've realized that the birthday party isn't just about making the birthday person feel loved and happy, it's a time for your buddies to feel good about being your buddy. You show up, you give love, and this makes you happy for being the good friend who shows up to the party. And having a birthday party, I've realized, is also a way to remind people it's your birthday so they can wish you a happy birthday and not feel like a dick later for forgetting. Without the birthday party reminder, I've realized, people forget and then they panic and wonder how to make it up to you. But you don't have to make it up; it's not a big deal. Birthday wishes are still nice a week or a month later. It's not about the date, it's about the hugs and kisses and gratefulness to not have died yet.

Besides, I still don't know the birthday of my friend J, and I've known her since we were five years old. I was her maid of honor. So there. And let's have a party, just to have a party. It can be a celebration of anything, and yes, it can still involve Mylar balloons and cutouts of Jared Leto.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I'm not having the best month. It's raining; my skin is a mess; I didn't convert either of my two interviews into job offers; I also lost two freelance gigs this week to more qualified people--one photographer, one writer. I also wrote two serious blog posts, one about being a stay-at-home girlfriend, and the other about racism, and then decided that I would rather not publish any more thoughts on these topics, no matter how eloquently stated mine might be.

I got surprisingly pissed at someone's comments on my blog recently. I think if I were in a better mood, I wouldn't have cared. But despite the fact that I am surrounded by love and opportunity and recently signed a little publishing contract, my self-esteem is suffering--maybe because I'm online too much lately. I don't like being on the defensive, and I realize that is just how I feel lately. There was all this backlash against the whole stay-at-home girlfriend thing, and then all of this hate over racism, and then people telling me I'm just not good enough for whatever it is they want. I don't like defending myself on other people's terms. I don't like trying to prove that I can do a job, that it's okay if I don't have a paycheck for a little while, that it's okay if I'm Asian, that it's okay if I just need to fucken mellow out and bake cookies for a while in my sweatpants. I got all sorts of vitriolic over both hating and defending my way of life, and then I realized I don't have to. And the reason why I feel so defensive is because I spend too much time online reading people's opinions. I mean, some asshole yelled "Chinaman!" at me this week. Yesterday, some guy commanded me to "Smile!" when I passed him in the street. I wanted to react shrilly to both of them, but I let both moments pass me by. It is one thing to give one-sided commentary, and another thing to invite discussion. And I did not want to have discussions with either of these people.

Anyhow, I want to be done feeling defensive and stuck, so I'm just going to be done. I started writing a new novel this week, and I am happy with it. I also know that the reason why I get stressed about money is that it is yet another thing that I try to force myself to care about in order to be "responsible" (like a job!) but that ultimately, I'll have it when I need it, and as long as I don't worry about it, it doesn't really bother me.

Also, I'm glad to be with a guy who I think is getting used to me, so much so that last night when I burst out "Sometimes I don't think you even WANT kids!" he hardly batted an eye. That, and he still wants to quit his plum job to spend six-plus months with me in a van, driving south.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Last week I wrote about change and how good it is, how it keeps our minds agile and ready for what devil may come. But today I want to write about the flipside of so much change, where so much is uncertain that you end up doing the same thing every day.

A lot of people experience "travel fatigue," where they stop absorbing new experience after a long period of time on the road. That is when you feel like a homeless person instead of a tourist, and all you can focus on is getting a cup of coffee, resting your feet on a sunny bench, and finding a clean place to go to the bathroom. Inevitably, you start to think to yourself that every place is the same--and why the hell do you need a clean place to go the bathroom, anyway? Isn't that counterintuitive?

I'm having another one of my many days of frustration at being an un-salaried worker. I spent another day hustling, trying to simultaneously research something and sell myself, and although the prospect of getting this plum assignment is pretty exciting, I have to admit that part of me feels like I'm wasting my time; I'm not going to get it. The other part of me says "Not with that attitude you won't!" My second-grade teacher would be proud.

I am still not used to the ups and downs of freelancing. I was sort of relieved when I didn't get called back for a second interview at The Perfect Job For Me, since that would have led to, you know, me...working in an office. I guess it was really The Perfect Job For My Skill Set, and not Me per se...but being offered the position would have been good for my self-esteem, which always suffers when nothing is happening. These are the days when I feel like, in foregoing a traditional job because of fear of routine, I end up doing the same thing every day: freaking out, scattershot research that leads to dead ends, half-assed attempts at self-representing, baking cookies. In the end, it feels like trying to find a kernel of corn in a swimming pool by scooping out cups of water and then throwing them back in.

I think I need some popcorn. Where the hell did that analogy come from?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


It is now the Year of the Hare. According to Chinese astrologists, it will be a calm year following the Tiger's year of turmoil. Hooray...?

But I prefer to think of it as a year not of the hare, but of the jackrabbit. We saw these in the desert last week and I can't stop thinking of them. They blend in to their desert surroundings, their gigantic ears standing on alert like tall radars. At the slightest detection of trouble--or opportunity--they take swift action. I am thinking of this year as a resting time, too, but resting with the notion that at any moment, we could take swift action. We can be like the hawks, opportunely waiting our moment for the right current of air to take us away.

Marido is out of town. I miss him in all the usual ways--out of comfort, out of desire, out of excitement...but I also miss him in an unexpected way that I think has something to do with his existence being a new sign that things are different now.

Although I miss him intensely, I am glad that we have some time apart to break up the routine. It is not just the routine of the everyday activities that is nice to escape, but the mental patterns you become accustomed to regarding someone's role in your life. With Marido so far away, I am reminded of our physical language, how we support each other daily, but also his overall role for me as a man who has encouraged me to pursue what I love (like writing) and change what I don't (like smoking).

As we know, our minds both seek and create patterns, which in turn give us stability, logic, and form foundations for seeking extended truths and higher-level problem-solving. It is because we can accept the physical realm that we can build skyscrapers, that when we fall asleep at night we can trust that we will wake up in the same place.

Sometimes our reliance on patterns can work against us, though, creating limitations of the imagination rather than platforms for expansion. I think that this happens when people get depressed, anxious, or fearful--our minds attach to a mental conception as tightly as it attaches to the physical world. We see ourselves as inflexible beings, incapable of change.

But change happens. We can resist it, but we miss out on a lot. It's like refusing to enjoy a comedy, just because we were expecting an action flick. Adaptation is more than adopting new survival skills to a changing environment, it's recognizing when we need to change our environments ourselves and knowing when the moment is right to do so.

If this is the year of waiting, I am glad to be waiting it out with Marido. And when the time comes to take action, I hope we will be ready. I think we will be.