The Sun and Shadow

•1 August 2019 • Leave a Comment

There was a time in my life when I never needed to nap and I generally don’t need to these days. However, there was a slew of days in July when I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything other than nap. And they weren’t those energizing naps, they were those draining naps where I couldn’t bring myself to wake up even though I knew I had (non-urgent) things to do. I’ve been waking up early, I think because of the warmth and sunlight allowing me to get out of bed in a timely manner. But then the midday heat gets into the bonus room and it makes me all sweaty and lethargic. At least, cold showers are perfect for this time of year, without hesitation.

Connection

  • Click here to read all about this year’s hot mess San Diego Comic-Con. This is what happens when you go three days when your body could barely handle two days last year. I say this now, but four days next year?! Trying to reign in my FOMO and re-evaluate what I consider fun.
  • Last month, we started our first official session zero for our second D&D campaign and I’m really excited and nervous about the storyline. I still have this major feeling like I’m failing my players as a DM because I really want them to have fun and want to play D&D, but I feel inadequate. Need to get over that hurdle in order to just have fun with friends.

Freedom

  • I’m getting into Essentialism, which, to my understanding, is similar to Minimalism. It has to do with understanding what is essential in one’s life and what is not. This has been an ongoing theme with me recently as I’ve been trying to pare down my life and really focus on what it is that drives me forward. And (mostly) everything else can just be discarded.
  • My parents remodeled my bathroom last month and it was annoying not having access to it for a while. Makes me appreciate a good sink and shower situation. While I do like it, I unfortunately did not get to do all the cool sustainability stuff I wanted. It’s still very nice though. It’s still not technically done because the mirrors aren’t up yet, so I’ve actually just been living without mirrors for a while now, which is surprisingly freeing. There’s an imaginary post-it above my sink that says things like “You look perfect just the way you are”. A lot of self-love in my morning preparations not looking at myself and critiquing myself at every glance in the mirror.

Sustainability

  • Guys! I’m so proud of myself. For Comic-Con weekend, I meal prepped vegan meals and I found a vegan restaurant and brought my refillable Starbucks canteen to get Matcha Lemonade and I inspired Tricia to get a bamboo utensil set. And I tried very hard to decrease waste while on the floor and not take freebies I didn’t actually want and while making cosplays, I was cognizant of consumerism and waste and recycling/upcycling.
  • I got my windshield fixed and I also got my rebate check in the mail (so fast!) and I have driving anxiety and it makes me sad, but I was very much able to toss aside my worry about the money and just realize that it had to be done and it was all chance and it’s gone and I can just forget about it and move on instead of dwelling on the lost money. Expensive car, expensive repairs.

Signal Boost

Hikaru Utada’s Laughter in the Dark Tour. Thank you Netflix for having this tour film because it was magical and I cried. It was also a bonus to read English translation lyrics at the bottom of the screen to learn what some of these songs were about.

Men in Black: International. A movie about a woman who saw an alien as a kid and then got into the MIB. A useless addition to the franchise, but nonetheless fun. That Hemsworth-Thompson chemistry though.

UglyDolls. A movie about an ugly doll that just wants to be loved. Relateable af, right? I don’t think this was as bad as the critics say and it’s a great film for kids for the message and people like me who will enjoy anything Kelly Clarkson does. I like the doll designs, so precious.

Doom Patrol (season 1). A show about a bunch of losers with powers and their quest to save their missing friend. Listen, I am becoming more selective about what type of shows I watch and I’m over superhero shows, but this looked good. And it was. Not very superhero genre, a lot of character development, a superb cast, and really beautiful standalone episodes.

Into the Badlands (season 3b, series finale). An underrated post-apocalyptic show. Diverse leads. Dope fight sequences; probably the best martial arts show on TV. Aesthetics for days; colors, outfits, weapons, landscapes. Don’t get me started on the lore though! Sadly cancelled with a crazy cliffhanger. Now added to one of my favorite shows.

Stranger Things (season 3). A show about how those little bitches from the Upsidedown won’t leave a small town alone, thanks Russia. An enjoyable season with, thankfully, enough Mrs. Wheeler. I enjoyed the character interactions, especially Max/El, Erica/everyone, Hopper/no-one.

Warrior (season 1). A show about the tong wars in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Y’all, Reddit recommended this to me because I was having post Into the Badlands sadness. I thought it was going to be tacky, but it’s my new favorite thing. Cool Asians everywhere, though it’s sometimes hard to see the very overt racism because it hits so close to home. Brilliant, I’m so excited and I need more and I need more people to watch this. Tasteful nudity, great fight scenes, beautiful Asians, adapted from a story by Bruce Lee.

What We Do In The Shadows (season 1). A mockumentary about modern day vampires. Y’all, I was so excited for this when I saw the Taika Waititi movie two years ago. And it doesn’t disappoint. It has the same quirky silliness and fun irreverence of the movie. So funny!

Silver Surfer by Dan Slott. A graphic novel about a powerful being plagued with remorse learning about love and life in the vast universe. Ugh, brilliantly and beautifully written and drawn. Such creative, zany adventures with a pleasing, deep storyline throughout.

Doom Days by Bastille. A concept album about the end of the world, a final party celebrating hope and friendship in the chaos. All the songs are great, but highlights include: “Divide” and “A Million Pieces”.

The Lion King: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. I was really excited for this album because these are great songs being covered by greats. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” is obviously the best because it’s a Donald Glover and Beyonce Knowles-Carter duet. Nothing can really top the originals, but Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen do great things.

ORION by X Ambassadors. A lovely sophomore album with beautiful songs. When I listen, I feel peace. My favorite is “Hold You Down”.

Stranger Songs by Ingrid Michaelson. A concept album based on Stranger Things, so it’s doubly awesome. So cute and fun and full of feels.

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The Finite Things in Life

•5 July 2019 • Leave a Comment

Finally, we are leaving the gloomy overcast behind as the days are turning into a real scorcher, folks! Oddly enough, the air is so cold at work, I yearn to roast outside. Summer, we welcome you with open arms. Except climate change is real and it’s probably going to be really bad this summer so I have to take care of my skin. Remember back in the day when we took summer for granted and didn’t think about time, responsibilities, ultraviolet radiation…no cares in the world, right? Sometimes we forget that nothing in life is forever and certainly, nothing is guaranteed. Thus, it is imperative to be present in the moment, not necessarily because “it could be our last”, but because it’s what’s matters most.

Connection

  • I got to have a vegan lunch at my place, which is something I’ve been planning to do for such a long time. The items were hit and miss, but overall, a success because Alan taught me how to make oat milk and I’m addicted. My dream is to have vegan dinner parties where I can introduce friends to vegan food and also have guinea pigs on which to try my recipes/experiments.
  • I also realized I went to a fully vegan restaurant for the first time in my life (usually, I make do with where other people choose to go by not eating or eating fries or eating the one vegan option that’s not a salad or a sauce). It was probably because Hanna’s the only one that’s down to do that with me smh.
  • We did an escape room for Danni’s bday and I am 2/2! It’s like a D&D puzzle oneshot with a time limit and your only enemy is your own intelligence, for which you cannot roll checks. There’s something about escape rooms that really scratch that cooperative itch and I’m surprised I haven’t done more of them.
  • Yesterday for Independence Day, I got unexpectedly wasted and threw up, so that was fun.
  • Taking perspective is a huge part of how these blog posts help me live a fuller life. I love looking at people and seeing how they’ve helped shape me as a person. I love experiencing that moment of complete connection with another being.
  • Lately, I’ve been consciously trying to understand and appreciate the nuances of every individual person and their feelings, particularly at work with the kiddos.

Development

  • Having a simple home gym has been such a fun blessing. I can work out at any moment because it’s just a walk away. Then I can hop in the shower or grab a snack from the kitchen right away. I haven’t had an intense work out in a while, and though I’m still getting back to the point I once was before, I’m so grateful to be able to have this access. I would like to reiterate how important exercise is for, not only physical, but mental health as well. I just feel more clarity when I exercise regularly. I’m excited to get back into this healthy habit.
  • I’ve been doing really well with sleeping on time and waking up on time and staying hydrated! I’ve noticed I’m off and on with proper meal prep weeks and lazy meal prep weeks, because sometimes, it’s so much easier just to microwave things.

Freedom

  • My budget has been thanking me lately because I haven’t been spending too much at all. It’s like, everything has been focused on the Tesla, mentally and financially. So I’m just trying to go back to my frugal roots, which obviously ties in with my minimalism and simple living I’m trying to achieve. Every time someone has asked me variations of “what’s new?”, nothing pops up because I’ve just been devoting time to my Tesla.
  • That being said, my laptop is in its death throes and I’ve just been using my work laptop for everything. I don’t necessarily want to buy a new laptop because I’m hoping maybe I don’t really need one anymore. We’ll see. I feel like, without one, I can free myself from the incessant need to be on it at all times. Slowly, but surely, I am disconnecting.
  • I’ve been trying to give myself permission to relax and enjoy life because sometimes I forget that I don’t always have to be doing something. Not doing anything or doing something that’s not “productive” can still be useful. I’m still trying to accept this.
  • Then again, there’s been this nagging feeling in the back of my head: it has to do with the idea that life is passing me by so quickly and while I’m struggling/managing to get control over things that can be controlled or while I’m struggling/managing to stay present in the small moments of life…I can’t help but think that there’s so much that the world has to offer and I’m squandering it because I’m not doing enough. And that scares me. I don’t know if the hunger for more will ever be satiated, but I imagine as I get wiser, I’ll understand what my needs are. I want to be content in just being, but I also don’t want to get complacent.

Sustainability

  • After collecting tons of pasta jars, I have finally put them to use at Sprout’s and can finally start my zero-waste crazy-scientist/witch jar shelf aesthetic.
  • Some progress with the Tesla (excitement because everything is so slow with all these applications (luckily, I’ve learned to just out-of-sight-out-of-mind everything because it would just drive me crazy if I’m waiting and worrying about these things)): I’ve received my carpool lane stickers, but haven’t had the chance to put them on yet.
  • Also, after I wrote that, I got news that one of my rebates has been approved and will be coming in the mail! This was a major one because it’s one of the reasons I was able to swallow the high cost, so I’m relieved it’s been approved. Now, I can entertain superfluous things like a vanity plate (psychologically, even though I should consider this rebate as money saved, it actually feels like I already spent the full price and now this is just extra money I can use).
  • In related news, my car had an issue (still not really sure, but it had to do with the charging or something), it self-diagnosed and showed me on the screen, then ordered the part for itself, and all I had to do was set up an appointment. Yes, a new car shouldn’t have issues, but with new tech, it’s bound to happen. On the other hand, I was so amazed about how everything was handled. Plus, everything was so stress-free. They loaned me an S for the weekend and I was totally going to do a roadtrip, but spontaneity isn’t my forte as I felt I had things to do at home. The S was a strange drive and I was so glad to have my 3 back safe and sound.
  • In even more related news, my windshield has a huge crack and I have no idea why! Just happened earlier this week. There goes my rebate money. This whole section has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I’m trying to keep my worry over the entire situation in check. Mixed results. The irony doesn’t escape me.

Signal Boost

Alita: Battle Angel. A movie about the future where a robot woman who lost her memory competes in a sports competition to gain access to the rich city above. Or something, I’m not really sure. But it was a fun romp.

Dumbo. A movie about a circus elephant who can fly. Dumbo is super cute as all baby elephants are. It was an interesting take on the film, fun and cute.

Pokemon Detective Pikachu. A movie about a guy searching for his father, who disappeared chasing a story about illegal experimentation. Also, with Pokemon. I was unsure with the marketing of this campaign and have been a vocal critic of the design choices, but they ended up being cute. Gritty, fun, emotional, silly, and not too self-important. Not enough Pokemon battles.

Shazam! A movie about a boy who gains superpowers and hilarity ensues because children are hilarious. What a well-crafted DCEU movie! Funny and action-y with a lot of heart. I don’t need an entire DCEU because these films do perfectly well as standalones. I know nothing about Shazam (like all the MCU heroes), so it feels very fresh and exciting.

Black Mirror (season 5). A Netflix anthology series about how technology is scary af. A solid 3 episodes that each had a very different story tonally. I still found them interesting, though not as mind-blowing as previous seasons.

Documentary Now! (season 3). A satirical show presenting documentary style episodes that are truly random and hilarious. Such prominent guest actors. Very well written, it’s almost as if these could be real.

Jessica Jones (season 3, final season). A season that’s really all about Trish Walker turning into Hellcat. Tonally, it’s very grounded, not superheroic at all. At first, it felt tame: “let’s spend the season catching a serial killer”, but it turned into so much more. An end of an era of Marvel TV, but I’m so happy to have enjoyed it when it was here.

God of War. A game about a father and his son’s journey to spread the ashes of his mother. It’s so simple, yet it vastly humanizes Kratos. The voice-acting was superb and I found the combat to be fun and fresh. There were few flaws, and all of them negligible. Such a satisfying story. A masterpiece.

The Impetus

•2 June 2019 • Leave a Comment

One morning, I was sitting in my usual place at the couch and realized some mourning doves (I was today years old when I realized it wasn’t “morning”) were nesting on the balcony. They were making cute noises and coming and going. I was actually thinking about putting a birdhouse or feeder up so I can experience stuff like this. Anyway, so cute right? Then, one day, I hear this wild flapping and it turns out a large crow swooped in and grabbed its egg(s) or chick(s). I just saw it standing there, swallowing something. The parents chased the crow as it flew away, but it was already too late. Nature is fucking wild. I still haven’t fully recovered.

Connection

  • In April, for the first time, I drank a bit even though I was designated driver. Usually, I go full zero, but it was Yen’s bday, so.
  • My sister also came home to visit and I always need to check myself when we have “guests” over because it’s there’s such a routine that gets interrupted.
  • This month, I went out for dinner in the middle of the week, but I guess because I wanted to try the vegan ramen and I didn’t have work the next day.
  • I also went out when it was sprinkly, which I normally don’t do (it’s called a rain check for a reason), but it was Lo’s bday, so.
  • Something else of note is hanging out with my cousin and playing games, which is something we haven’t done in ages. It’s called relaxing and I apparently don’t know what that is. On a side note, Matt, Megan, and I are an improv troupe now.
  • Also, it looks like I hung out on a Sunday which I never do because I like to have me time on a day before work. Luckily, everyone was available early in the morning to play Pandemic.
  • Clearly, the underlying thread is any excuse to drive my Tesla at any moment, which is an exciting revelation I don’t take lightly because I hypothesized this would happen, but I’m glad it’s actually working. Important events aside, I’ve been trying to not just decline everything and do nothing. Small victories, go me!
  • My grandpa died last month and I’m not sure if I’m in the right headspace to sit down and write a post about it yet.

Development

  • I bought my home gym rack since it was on sale and I think my minimalist starter home gym is complete. I just need to set it up after my parents clean the garage. I’ve just been telling myself that I’ll get around to working out when this is set up, but I’m starting to think that may not happen soon and I just need to start doing something/anything to keep in the routine.
  • I’ve been keeping my schedule light and simple, yet I still find ways to not spend my time wisely despite proper scheduling. It’s a bizarre feeling that I need to overcome. I don’t know what’s going on with me. Part of it may be that I need to get over the fact that I don’t always have to be doing something at all moments, that I need to allow myself to just live in the moment even if the moment is dull. Part of it may be me trying to avoid any sort of responsibility for some reason.

Freedom

  • I think I shouldn’t be afraid of comfort. We all strive to be comfortable and secure for the most part. And yet we tell ourselves to go outside our comfort zone. I like the idea of both. I want to be able to accept comfort without guilt and, at the same time, be open to exploring outside my comfort zone without anxiety.

Sustainability

  • I washed my car for the first time, actually waking up early as planned and not just sitting around. I previously did a wax and wash, but since she was pretty dusty, I opted for a full wash. I still have issues with it, but hopefully, I’ll get the hang of it. So far, no major damage! I love using the community-recommended no rinse solution to help with the environment. The only issue for me is having to wash my microfiber towels separately and carefully, so that’s a waste there. Maybe it all balances out? I’m happy to report I’m not meticulously wanting to clean her all the time and I’m okay with just enjoying the car as much when she’s clean as when she’s not so clean. These SoCal mini rains can fuck right off, though.

Signal Boost

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. A Netflix original film about Ted Bundy from the perspective of his girlfriend. What a trip, moreso researching during/after viewing about what a fucked up human he was. Compelling performances, but was it really something that needed to be made? What did it add to his disturbing story?

The Perfection. A Netflix original movie about two cello players. And y’all thought it was gonna stop there, but it took multiple left turns and I was not expecting that. Wild.

See You Yesterday. A Netflix original movie about two kids experimenting with time travel, which leads to disastrous consequences. I thought it was gonna be a fun, hokey romp through science and time, but it was so much more than that. Time travel yes, but also social relevance.

Us. A movie about an American family attacked by doppelgangers. One of my 2019 favorites so far, I definitely need to rewatch to catch everything. Jordan Peele is brilliant once again. Eerie, satisfying, a trip! I love the subtlety of the genres melding together, in the same vein as A Quiet Place, without too much exposition.

Wine Country. A Netflix original film about some middle aged women who don’t have their shit together, but they’re friends and that’s what matters. It had its funny moments anid the cast is naturally great, but overall tame and menopausal.

You’ll Always Be My Maybe. A Netflix movie about two childhood friends who grow apart and find their way back together. Didn’t that one sentence synopsis just sound like any other rom-com? But Randall Park and Ali Wong are a dream team (high key, I’ve been so ready for this film since I first heard about it). It was so satisfying. My favorites were the cameos and the raps.

Barry (season 2). A show about a serial killer turned wannabe actor, who now has to grapple with what he’s done. A hilarious season, with some of these episodes so unique and creative. It’s a specific mix of dark comedy that works so well, especially during fight sequences.

Bob’s Burgers (season 9). A show about a family and their completely normal, everyday adventures. Always clever, always funny.

Dimension 20 (season 1: Fantasy High). A D&D stream from CollegeHumor about a party of teens attending high school and dealing with the end of the world. Wow, who knew I could get so invested in these characters in such a short amount of time? Funny, refreshing, quick, clever, surprising, and novel. Brennan Lee Mulligan’s DMing style is great!

Easy (season 3). A Netflix original show about the messiness of life and love. Final season! Classic Joe Swanberg mumblecore anthology goodness. I’ve been into anthologies lately, and I like that we see the growth of these characters over the seasons, even if we don’t necessarily see conclusions.

Fresh Off the Boat (season 5). A show about how it is being an Asian American teenager in the 90s. Truly relateable
even if it’s not exactly how I grew up. The nostalgia factor is so strong because it’s like a mirror into an alternate reality. Another beautiful season with still interesting plot lines. My favorites are all the date-specific jokes and the music video re-enactments. And my absolute favorites are the moments between parent and child.

Killing Eve (season 2). A show about a killer and her pursuer and their strange relationship. Bizarre concept, beautifully executed. There are perfectly hilarious moments sprinkled in between. I’m excited to see where this goes next as this season saw more interesting development of their relationship.

Relics and Rarities (season 1). A D&D stream from Geek and Sundry about a group of adventurers working out of a curios shop to save the world. Another short D&D stream where I felt deeply for all the characters, oh my. Deborah Ann Woll is brilliant and so are the guests. Another unique way to run D&D with props and puzzles and fun characters.

The Twilight Zone 2019 (season 1). A rebooted anthology series now exploring the modern world. Hit and miss, but overall, a great update. Jordan Peele is next level as always.

The World

•3 May 2019 • Leave a Comment

Some people need a purpose in life and I am probably one of those people. This month, I’ve taken time to reevaluate my values (hehe) and make sure I’m living authentically. What’s interesting is that I’ve found a conundrum thinking about what’s important to me and what I want to be important to me. For example, I want all my relationships to be important to me (so I value connection), but I also spend a lot of my time alone and enjoy it and have difficulty finding motivation to be more proactive and developing relationships and scheduling hangouts (if no one invites me somewhere, I figure a free weekend as a blessing).

I think my purpose in life is to save the world. A tall order, I know. I find that I feel out of whack if I’m not actively pursuing and behaving in such a way to benefit the collective planet. It’s Idealist Me showing his ultimate desire. He’s balanced with Rationalist Me who wants to just live a simple life. They’re not mutually exclusive, but there can be juxtapositions.

I was having difficulty reconciling what’s deemed important, so I created a list (consistency, son), which could be called a manifesto of sorts, in which I detail how I want to and how I can live my life. I plan to continually edit it through my lifetime in order to really hone in on what makes me me and put words to my life philosophies.

Last month has mostly been lowkey and if I’m being extra honest, I’ve been struggling with routine and finding motivation to do what I need to do. Talk about Avoidance April, amirite?

Signal Boost

Avengers: Endgame. The satisfying wrap-up to a decade-long adventure. I’m so happy with what they did and I’m so happy to have experienced this Universe. So well done. I have little words and I am still processing. Many tears, many chills.

Brene Brown: The Call to Courage. A Netflix original talk (?!) about a doctor’s studies with vulnerability, courage, shame. Deeply moving with anecdotes, charismatic, and surprisingly hilarious like a stand-up. Reminded me of Minhaj’s Homecoming King, inspirational and aspirational. I didn’t know what to expect, but I do love my TED Talks, so I hope this becomes normal. File it under B for becoming better beings (I’ve binged all of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone).

Captain Marvel. An MCU movie that brings us 90s goodness. I loved the references and the old school tone, I loved that it wasn’t trying to hard, but I also understand how monumentally important this movie is for society (because I’m not an asshole). Yet another great addition to the Universe. Teared up at times. Chills when the suit and the powers came out. Not enough Lee Pace, not enough Gemma Chan.

Glass. The last movie a Shyamalan trilogy about superheroes or something like that. Split surprised me and I really enjoyed it, but then it just fizzled out and this was a weird movie. Finally getting into 2019 films (finished everything in 2018 finally) and this is what I start with? Definitely not enough James McAvoy personalities and a whole slew of characters I don’t care about.

Guava Island. A short semi-musical semi-thriller film on Amazon Prime Video. Of course, with Donald Glover and Rihanna as leads, it would be charismatic. It’s a beautiful story and art piece, but I wish there were original songs. Nice insight into the mind of Glover and his latest releases.

Juanita. A Netflix original movie about a woman who needs to get out of her regular routine in order to feel alive again. Well, if that doesn’t hit the nail on the head. Alfre Woodard is great in every role, and this one is no different. A cute film with indie vibes.

Someone Great. A Netflix original movie about a woman going through a breakup and needs the help of her friends. Generic and not all that substantial, but I clicked fast because of Gina Rodriguez and Lakeith Stanfield. Completely charming and good millennial fodder when you’re in the mood.

Triple Frontier. A Netflix original movie about a heist of a South American crime lord by a team of former Special Ops. Interesting concept, well acted, overall forgettable.

Unicorn Store. A Netflix original movie about a woman who can’t grow up and then goes shopping for a pet unicorn. Cute, whimsical, random, and a reminder to hold onto one’s child-like imagination and sense of wonder. Brie Larson is great.

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (season 1). A Netflix original sketch show that’s super random and hilarious and awkward and hyperbolic and relatable.

Kim’s Convenience (season 3). A show about a cute little Korean Canadian family and their everyday lives. All seasons are on Netflix and you should definitely watch even if you feel like you can’t relate because it is just so precious and funny. I love all the actors, they are so endearing. I think what’s powerful is that we are laughing with them and we can relate to their struggles- it’s not exclusively Korean or Asian, but just a family- with immigrant flavor.

Our Planet. A Netflix documentary series, narrated by David Attenborough, about conservation issues that our planet deals with and how the animals must deal with a changing world because of humans. Beautifully shot and narrated, but of course, it made me really depressed. I wouldn’t say it’s groundbreaking; it’s a familiar and constant reminder that we share this planet and we should take care of her. Spoilers: the walrus scene killed me.

Rilakkuma and Kaoru (season 1). A Netflix stop-motion show about a young woman’s life struggles and her adventures with her pets, two bears and a bird. So incredibly cute and surprisingly deep (I relate to Kaoru, okay gosh). The main creepy thing is that Rilakkuma is wearing a suit and that freaks me out.

Special (season 1). A Netflix original series about a gay disabled millenial. A short watch and I am always keen to learn about different lifestyles. It’s endearing and sweet, though, again, very short so development wasn’t too great.

Tuca & Bertie (season 1). A Netflix original show about two bird friends and that’s all you need to know. Bojack Horseman + Ali Wong + Tiffany Haddish = brilliance. The animation is fun and quick and the characters are endearing and relatable. Hilarious, irreverent, very adult.

Lips on Lips by Tiffany Young. A debut English solo EP from my favorite ex/current SNSD member. Born Again is probably my favorite (it hit me the most), but all of the songs gave off nostalgic 90s R&B vibes and also gave us a personal look into her life more that bubblegum K-Pop. So happy for her, so proud of her.

Free Spirit by Khalid. An aptly named sophomore album that hits me right in the feels. Songs good for a weekend in to heal the soul.

Paradise Lost by John Milton. An epic poem about man’s fall from paradise and how Satan is evil, yada yada. But, as Philip Pullman said in his annotation, we start to feel for Satan as a character, more than we do God. He’s much more exciting and endearing. I can’t believe I got through my first ancient poem by myself! It wasn’t horrible, but if I take it as a piece of fiction and not some Bible truth, it becomes enjoyable.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. A book about human history and how we’ve fucked up the world. Thanks Hanna for the rec (and letting me borrow!). Really insightful and intriguing points brought up; I found myself getting upset thinking about it. Some of it I knew, but there’s interesting perspective here. Well written, easy to understand, interesting.

The Wasteland

•2 April 2019 • Leave a Comment

Since I wasn’t sure what I would type in this intro box, the Universe delivered with a fun story: I stabbed myself in the hand more moments ago. I decided to eat an avocado after dinner (yup, this is where it’s going) and stabbed myself right in the palm. The knife slipped off the seed and stabbed right through the avocado flesh right into my own. I’m no stranger to food-related injury, as I’ve sliced open my palm with a butter knife while spreading spread (I forgot what) on my toast. But as I went to the bathroom to check it out, I started feeling hot, dizzy, and nauseous. Vision blurry, I was about to keep over. I’ve never felt this way before and it really scared me! The wound must be severe, I thought. When I looked at it, it seemed deep, but not deep enough for me to go to the hospital (I don’t have time for decent health insurance!). Of course, being stupid, I decided to Google “I stabbed my hand” and the first thing that popped up was an article about avocado-related stabs. Eerie as fuck! But also hilarious. I felt woozy for a bit after and here I sit, unable to do anything. I’ve taken my hands for granted! And this is a good reminder not to take these small things for granted. Anyway, just know that I don’t want to go to the hospital and I’m hoping that this problem will go away on its own and if it doesn’t, it was nice knowing some/most of you.

Adaptability

  • I’ve been a slow Spark Joy-er because I’ve just kept all my things in boxes nearby without actually getting rid of them. Mostly, it’s because I’m seeing if anyone wants any of it before I donate it to strangers. I guess I do have difficulty getting rid of things until someone does it for me.
  • After I got the car, I finally cleaned out my Mazda and am officially getting rid of (most of) my toys from my childhood. I’ve been desperately hanging onto these 2 boxes of action figures and 1 box of Lego since forever. It’s been my lifelong collection of toys, after all. But I found it easy to finally let them go to someone else who can hopefully enjoy them (very Toy Story 3-esque). I wasn’t really using them. That being said, I’ve kept a small portion of the toys in a single, small box because they sparked joy when I looked at them.
  • I now have two medium boxes of items that I would like to display on the bookshelf that my dad is building. They are the last physical items of pop culture indulgence I will ever buy, hopefully.
  • This car has given me such an appreciation and zest for driving, it’s like I have no cares in the world. This has translated into my everyday life as well, surprisingly. It may be the weather and it may be me working out again, but I think this car has given me a peace of mind that I couldn’t get with an old ICE vehicle.

Balance

  • I’ve officially started my home gym. After my gym pass expired, I moved to calisthenics, but I was having difficulty finding motivation. I didn’t want to go back to the gym, so I looked into starting a home gym. I of course want to keep it minimalist. Unfortunately, it was difficult to really find sustainable and ethical brands because it’s very niche. I really wanted to have easy access to working out and I decided it was a worthwhile investment (this was right before I got my Tesla, so…). It’s been great though. It’s not complete yet, so I can’t do all the exercises I want yet, but it’s been nice to just do a quick workout and immediately shift to something else I can do, like eat or shower right away. I’m feeling a lot better in terms of energy and mood, too. Abstaining from working out really dampened me in myriad ways, in hindsight. And it must be why I’ve been getting sick so much (I had lingering sickness from last time that evolved into something else)!
  • That being said, my routine has been wildly out of whack. All month, I had been so focused on the car, that I would stay up late and refresh pages, do endless research, and read all the conspiracies. I was having difficulty just sticking to my schedule and being present. I’ve been lazy with meals. My sleep was non-existent. I threw my carefully scheduled schedule out the window on many occasions.
  • Now I can’t work out because I stabbed myself, ugh.
  • While getting a Tesla is a eco-friendly dream, I admit purchasing accessories wasn’t the best. I used Amazon and produced a lot of waste. Luckily, my car wash solution is little to no water, so there’s that.

Connection

  • I’m really honored to announce that Amadeo asked me to his best man! I wasn’t sure exactly what that entailed, but me being me, I’m doing deep dives into research about what I need to do. I’m also really excited because Amadeo and Cat are getting married in Disney World, so it’s going to be my only vacation for the year and possibly next several years (see: I just bought a Tesla). It’s a rare opportunity to go on a long vacation with friends because everyone has different life priorities, but this is one occasion that surely brings everyone together.
  • I would like to uphold my promise to be designated driver in as many instances as possible. While my dream is to have everyone own an electric vehicle, for now, I will gladly drive people that need to be driven. This does mean I’ll be drinking less, but maybe that’s for the better (see: the last time I was in K-Town). I remember back when I first got my Mazda, I was keen to drive everywhere because (1) I really enjoyed driving and no one else was and (2) I didn’t worry about money or the environment. Now, I can be that person again!
  • It’s been another month of low social media use (if I get a notification, I will check and then browse a little), and it’s still freeing to me. I don’t feel a toxic need to post and like and comment and compare. While I do agree social media is great to keep up with friends’ lives, it can also very quickly lead down a rabbithole and before you know it, it’s just not healthy. For perhaps the first time, I feel free of the shackles of social media. I don’t need to mindless scroll through it when there’s seemingly nothing else to do. It’s nice for me.

Development

  • I’ve been in a really odd headspace thinking about the concept of time and how I am using it presently. It’s sometimes hard to reconcile ambition with simplicity, but I think they don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. I’d like to think my greatest ambition is, in fact, simplicity itself. I want to make the most of my time being present and doing things that feed my soul. Getting caught up in the minutiae of life, it can be hard to really hone in on that feeling, but it’s nice to remind oneself as much as possible, or at least, be aware of it.

Experience

  • This month, I found some nostalgia. Looking at my old toys. Doing a replay of The Last of Us. Borrowing Amadeo’s 3DS and playing through Gen VI and VII of Pokemon. Binge-watching The Twilight Zone on Netflix. It seemed to be a recurring theme of this month and I’m not exactly sure why.
  • As if I haven’t spoken about this enough in this post, I can cross off getting a zero emissions vehicle off my list. Never did I think it’d be this soon and never did I think it’d be my dream car.

Freedom

  • I’ve also been in a weird headspace with finances and what I really want out of money. Think about your end goal here. I think financial stability is important to allow me to pursue what I want in my life. Stability being the crux, not excess.
  • In adulting news, I’ve been trying to sell my Mazda and I received two scams right off the bat and now I’m terrified to interact with humans because they are just the worst.
  • In other adulting news, I clogged the toilet for the first time in forever and decided not to try and unclog it and just kept flushing it intermittently throughout the day and voila, it unclogged itself. And I think this is not great, because it just enables this idea that problems will solve themselves without much effort from me and that’s why I’m leaving this hand wound alone and may come to regret it, but we’ll see because that’s the fun in real life!

Signal Boost

If Beale Street Could Talk. A movie set in the 70s about a black couple who deal with a pregnancy and a wrongful conviction. Its themes ring true today, even though it’s set in the past. It’s like The Hate U Give, except quieter. A beautiful love story, broken only by the tragic reality of the situation presented.

Mary Poppins Returns. A movie about a mysterious woman who comes to your house to help you clean the fuck up and get your shit together. So Marie Kondo, but for London. Such a mysterious woman! It doesn’t help that Emily Blunt is brilliant. The songs were great and it’s a nice piece of nostalgia (with hybrid animation!), but the story was blah.

Vice. A movie about Dick Cheney and how evil he is. And it’s scary to think about all of this going on in my lifetime, during my childhood, and I just wasn’t aware. I just didn’t care enough to try and comprehend how much this affected all our lives to this day. The make-up and impressions were brilliant. I editing was at times annoying, but at times, also great. I liked that Christian Bale won an award and thanked Satan in his speech.

The Umbrella Academy (season 1). A Netflix original show about some emotionally stunted children with superpowers. Okay, so I watched it so I could cosplay the Asian dude, but it turned out to be a rather intriguing premise. The writing was iffy and the character decisions were eye-rollingly CW-ish, aka really frustratingly dramatic for the sake of drama. Still, I found the characters endearing and the fun parts were fun and campy.

Slade House by David Mitchell. A book about a duo of immortal siblings and what the things they do to stay immortal. It’s dark, creepy, and fun. Cloud Atlas is one of my favorite books, so I will read anything by Mitchell. I liked that this one was short, though perhaps the ending was too abrupt for me (and perhaps he’ll continue the story in another novel, as many of his novels are connected by threads of some sort). I listened to it on audiobook and found myself so engrossed in the story and got many shivers listening while driving home in the dark.

Wasteland, Baby! by Hozier. Something about Hozier is just so melancholy, yet soothing and subtle. It makes my heart churn and ache, feel full and beat heavy. This album captures this same feeling. While less intense than “Take Me to Church”, there’s nonetheless a strong magnetism to each song on this album that brings me back.

The Tesla

•2 April 2019 • Leave a Comment

As some of you may know, I bought a Tesla Model 3 (Standard Range Plus). This is one of those life changing moments. Below is the stream of consciousness I had been writing throughout the process, which I wanted to document for myself. I don’t feel the need to justify my decision to anyone except myself, but it’s here for your enjoyment and judgment. People also don’t like to talk about finances for some reason, so here I am talking to myself about it. Perhaps someone can glean some life wisdom in these words. There is no TL;DR because I’m self-important. But also, it’s just a mess of words and I have no desire to try and recap what I’m feeling. But do know, I’ve somehow gained some life perspective in this entire process. And as a warning, I do the regular Brian thing of tangents and long-winded explanations.

PSA: If anyone needs a ride somewhere, let me know!


circa Spring 2018: I’m in the market for a new car, but I don’t really know where to begin. I want a Tesla, but that’s out of my price range. I remember talking about it with Alan and Amadeo after watching Ready Player One. I know that I could probably afford a Model S outright, but I’m not sure that’s what I want to do with my money. Regardless, I know Tesla is a company I would like to support because I’ve been really big on clean energy and a better future. I set this aside as a goal for myself to eventually one day own a Tesla when I have my life together. I mean, I’ve wanted one ever since Tesla became Tesla, but it seemed only a far away dream (I was fresh out of college trying to find my way in life).


circa Fall 2018: I begin to seriously consider an electric or fuel cell vehicle as my car begins to show signs of wear. I also decide I want to lease, with the idea being that in three years’ time, I would find the perfect electric vehicle with much better technology and range. I understand that leasing is not for everyone, nor is it widely recommended unless you have financial comfort. I am waitlisted for the Honda Clarity EV. Due to multiple failed attempts to obtain one, I begin to seriously consider the Toyota Mirai, a fuel cell vehicle. The lease would not be pricey, relatively. And it aligns with my values and what I want out of a car. It is a waiting game. For what, I’m not sure. But I do know that no other electric vehicle fit the idea, range, or price point for what I want. Throughout 2018, I’ve absorbed so much knowledge and wisdom about vehicles in general, not mechanically, but perhaps socially, culturally, and politically.


December 2018: I’m secretly upset because I really wanted to get myself a new car for my birthday. The 2018 Mirai sell out before I go to the dealership.

I go through a lot of internal changes, naturally, as I leveled up one year. There is also a shift in mindset. I can afford a new car and still be able to be afloat with savings and an emergency fund. I start to resent my ICE vehicle and perhaps, all ICE vehicles.


January-February 2019: I tell everyone I will be getting a new car within the next couple of months for sure. I delay getting a new car, for some reasons I understand and other ones (perhaps subconscious, perhaps serendipitous) that I don’t. I think about the Toyota Mirai and decide it’s the best option, due to availability and range and cost. Though I also think I may wait for the 2019 Honda Clarity fuel cell, which is slated to be due in Spring 2019. Though these Clarity are questionable with their availability, 20K miles/year was very attractive. I see countless Mirai and Clarity (mostly PHEV, but I certainly get excited when I see an EV or FC version) on the road and I weep internally. I really just want my car not to die on me just yet.

I also start thinking about my finances and stress about car payments. Between last year and this year, my Mazda3 continues to show signs of problems, but I’m reluctant to get them fixed because perhaps a new car is right around the corner.


February 28, 2019: Tesla announces a cheaper Model 3. I don’t flinch. A cheap Tesla is still a luxury car that’s out of my wheelhouse, I think. I also just think about how many delays and reservations there were, it was giving me a headache.


March 1-2, 2019: My dad asks me if I want to go to test drive the Model 3. I humor myself and start doing a lot of online research, as it’s the weekend. I realize it could actually be affordable with a much shorter waiting period. In fact, I can just order one without a reservation and it said delivery in 2-4 weeks. I play around with the online order form and pick my perfect Model 3 because I like to dream. I humorously text Amadeo that I should get one because they’re “cheap” now. I offhandedly tell my dad all the stuff I’ve been researching about the Model 3.

I find out my grandpa is dying.

I try to rationalize to myself that all signs are pointing to the fact that I should not be buying this.

  • A lease is much cheaper right now
  • My AGI on my W-2 clearly says in bold, all caps: “YOU CANNOT AFFORD THIS BASED ON THE MONEY YOU’RE MAKING
  • The Internet tells me it’s a really bad idea (though the Internet also says that anything more than $20K is too much, which isn’t untrue)
  • I don’t need a luxury vehicle
  • I don’t have any business even looking at this car because I just moved all my money to a high yield savings account and it should just sit there and marinate
  • I need to be smart with my money because there are other things I want to spend it on
  • I did not come across a windfall
  • I am not yet at the top of my field, monetarily or educationally
  • I don’t deserve this

But there is a shift in mindset.

  • This is a dream of mine
  • I have the money
  • THIS IS A DREAM AND I HAVE MONEY
  • I dodeserve this

March 3, 2019: My parents ask if I want to go look at Teslas. I think that they just want to go check them out, for the future. Or perhaps, for themselves. They can’t seriously think that I can buy a Tesla right now, right? Nonetheless, I arm myself with a bunch of reasons to defend the fact that I can afford it. In true Brian form, I also arm myself with a bunch of reasons against purchasing one.

I humor them and we go to a Tesla showroom and delivery and service center (conveniently all in one and conveniently nearby). On the way there, my mom says things like “which version do you want” and “which color are you getting”. I don’t think I’m actually going to order one there, I just want to check them out.

We spend our time reviewing what I’ve already seen online; I show my parents exactly what I want and justify it to them. We sit in a Tesla and it’s minimalist paradise. Any technology is a step up from my 2007 car, but this is lightyears ahead of anything else out there. We have the chance to test drive a Model 3 mid-range (not the exact one I want, but mostly the same), and I fall in love. However, even as I’m driving, it feels surreal. Am I actually considering this?

I hear my parents seriously say that I should do it. I hesitate and at the same time, internally scream because perhaps my dream is within reach even though waking up this morning, my plans were to meal prep and bathe my dog and vacuum.

They want me to buy it. They want me to be happy. It scares me because they should know that I have no business doing this because of my income. They know I’m frugal af. They know I live at home so I can save money for school/future. But…they want me to buy it. They want me to be happy.

So, I do it: I put a $2500 down payment on a new Tesla Model 3 with the click of a button.

Even as we leave the dealership to congratulations, I am still in shock. Did I really do that? Can I back out of it? And myriad doubts zoom through my mind at the speed of light. I can barely show excitement because I’m so shocked- I would never do something like this. But I just did. I have to use my meditation to calm my mind.

We go out for lunch, but I think I’m shaking, my mind is buzzing.


March 4-7, 2019: Mainly, I try to rein in the anxiety.

First, I’m handling a large amount of money. And as you know, I just finished transferring my money to an online bank and so now I had to transfer it back. But instead, I stupidly order a check. So all these what ifs come in to play. And without a set delivery date, I need to make sure my finances are settled so I can pay and get my car.

Second, I start reading up as much as I can about Tesla, the state of the company, the Model 3, the new 3s (another thought being I’m ordering the first of its kind so no one really has any information about it in experience). All these theories and horror stories and a deep dive in reddit and other forums nearly drive me crazy.

Third, the waiting and not knowing kills me. This unknown, all these factors that could go wrong just run through my mind.

But I have to talk myself down. I use techniques I’ve learned throughout the years to push aside this doubt and unnecessary worry. We’ll tackle these hurdles as they come. I’ve prepared for the worst as best I can and can do nothing except wait.

It’s strange because after the purchase, this wave rushes over me. I start to feel this surreal sense of time; I think about what’s important to me and find that so much that I do now may just be a waste of my time and energy. It’s like I started to clearly see my priorities.

I can’t help but start to brainstorm names.


March 8, 2019: I wake up to a text from a random number saying my car will be ready between March 20 and March 29. This is a faster time frame than I was expecting as I was at least hoping for March 31 or later (so my check can arrive and be cleared). It looks like other people who have ordered the SR+ have also been receiving texts.

We also still need to figure out the home charging situation. And by we, I mean my dad because as much as he tries to explain it to me, it grazes my scalp as it goes over my head. Like, I kinda get it, but also…don’t. He says there are concerns (that I can’t repeat to you now because hell if I can explain it), so that gives me some anxiety.

I also get a call that the mid-range is ready now and if I upgrade my car for $3000, they’ll throw in a free color swap (the other colors cost $1500-$2500 more). It tempts me for a moment. I never considered the other colors because of the extra cost. And black is so beautiful. Though I’ve heard it’s a low quality paint, I really don’t know what to believe. And 20 more miles can’t hurt. And better audio, though I have a feeling I wouldn’t be able to discern with my hearing skills. And some other useless (to me) perks. Worth it? Maybe, but then again, I do not have my finances or charging in order to get it right now. I would rather wait.

My concern is if the car will actually arrive in the time frame. I’m just hoping before mid-year, where the federal tax rebate cut off is. These incentives are a big reason why I can afford this car. I also mainly just hope I get my check in the mail, but I try to control the panic attacks.


March 9, 2019: I think we solved our charging problem and my check arrived. This took a lot of the stress I felt. Never do I want to have such a large sum of money moving randomly/physically, floating around outside of my accounts.


March 10, 2019: As it feels more real, I start looking into all the accessories I want and all the things I need to do to make sure my car is taken care of. As it’s black, it looks like I may need to do a little more for care.

It’s interesting how quickly my mindset has changed with money. (A) I’m willing to spend more on random accessories I normally wouldn’t care about (nor would I be willing to spend this much on). Dealing with buying a car in the tens of thousands suddenly makes me not blink at random hundred+ dollar items. (B) I start caring more about this car, moreso than just a means of getting from one location to another.


March 11, 2019: There is a lot of controversy with Tesla, and it’s hard to avoid as I scour the webs for information. I feel lucky that the delivery date did not increase since I ordered last week. I am also avoiding the 3% price increase that’s announced today.

I bring my check to the bank and, to my surprise, the money will be available tomorrow as opposed to the nine day holding period I thought it’d have. More good news.

I see online that people that ordered the SR+ are getting delivery dates, so I feel mine is just around the corner. Lo and behold, I suddenly get a text that says my delivery is Friday March 15, which if you’re still following along is much earlier than the previous text.

I’m kind of shocked because I didn’t think it’d come this early. I still needed to order cables and adapters online, so I’m not even sure I can charge it properly when it arrives now. Nonetheless, it feels tangible, so I can maybe get excited now.


March 12, 2019: I see online that someone in the country has received their SR+! We finally have a physical car to see, which is something that sat in the back of my mind: I ordered a car without actually seeing and feeling it exactly.

And then I finally get my VIN and everything seems so tangible. I can’t wait, yet everything is happening so fast. Time needs to slow down but also fast-forward. All I can think about is the car and I literally had a dream/nightmare about it. I buy all the accessories I want right away.


March 13, 2019: I’m still skeptical whether or not my car will actually be here. It still feels surreal and intangible. I’ve been keeping it on the down low, not actually telling anyone because it truly does feel like a dream and I don’t really know if it’s real until I’m sitting inside my car. My parents, on the other hand, are telling everyone for me (they really like this car too).

I don’t get any emails or paperwork or contact from my delivery advisor…all my information has come from online. 48 hours in and I should have received this information already. And it’s not completely surprising- it seems Tesla delivery isn’t the best at coordination or consistency. It’s a mixed bag, which is partly why I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch.

The good news is that everything I ordered should be here on Friday, coinciding with my car’s arrival as well.


March 14, 2019: Having still not received any response to my email, I call the support number and leave a voicemail. I don’t expect a call back.

After work, I head to the nearest delivery center, which thankfully is close and is also the place I went to before for a test drive. As I pull into the lot, I get a call to confirm my appointment tomorrow. Finally!

But I do go in to clarify because I was told mixed things: home delivery vs. pick-up. I also never got a call or email from anyone, though I’ve heard stories like this, so I’m not surprised. They confirm that I’ll need to pick it up and they also tell me that it arrived last night and I can take it home now!

I don’t have my payment on hand and I also drove there, so even though I would have loved to hop in and drive her away right away, I decide patience is the better option and keep my appointment time.


March 15, 2019: I can barely sleep. Today is the day I’ve been waiting for…less than a fortnight from order to delivery.

I’m pretty anxious the entire day, but the process goes smoothly. I drive away in MY TESLA MODEL 3 and she drives like a dream. She comes off the lot with 5 miles on the odometer. All the accessories I ordered came except the one thing I really need- the charging adapter. It’s delayed, so hopefully Monday arrival.


March 16, 2019-present: What a dream it has been. I can’t help but smile every time I drive. I added a couple aesthetic modifications. I’m excited to wash my car properly.

And I find myself relieved that I’m not a slave to the car. Yes, I want to keep her in tip top shape, but I also recognize that natural wear will occur and I don’t want to have to worry about her every time I drive.

That being said, she’s been like a new baby. Her first rain, her first wash, her first outing, her first drive to work, her first valet parking, her first passengers. I find internal joy in this.

Yet I find myself hesitant to go telling everyone I have a Tesla. I told Alan and Amadeo and that’s about it. My parents told the family and Amadeo told everyone else (LOL). Part of it is the judgment, as much as I don’t want it to be. I’m still Broke Brian, y’all! Moreso than ever now. Part of it is this feeling that even telling people sounds like bragging and I don’t want to come off as pretentious. Again, all of this relates to this idea that I care about what people think and I think this applies only to my friends.


Takeaways:

  • Listen, I already know. This is a poor financial decision.
  • Yet, I find myself leaning towards “Will Not Regret” looking into my future.
  • I’m lucky because, with this car, there is no compromise. This is the best car right now for my values (I’ve been so big on values lately). It touches on all of them in some way, see if you can figure it out!
  • There are caveats, of course.
  • I am privileged, monetarily speaking.
  • I’ve always had a comfortable financial life. My first car was gifted to me (and she’s kept me alive for 12 years). My undergraduate tuition was paid and there were no debts (and I graduated early to save money). I live at home (and it’s afforded me so many things).
  • My parents told me they’ll help with tuition in the future, as needed. I have this as a fallback in case I need it. But I also have money to still put in savings and in an emergency fund. There is security in this so I can be confident with my purchase.
  • But I’ve also saved a lot of money just by living the way I do (again, afforded to me in part because I live in a nice house). I’m not making tons of money, but I’m also not spending tons of money. I live below my means, but it feels authentic. I don’t buy extravagant items for myself, I don’t eat out (perhaps once in a blue moon), and I don’t have expensive hobbies. A lot of my personal budget allocation goes to savings at the end of the month. And it’s just the way I’ve always been.
  • And there are some “sacrifices” I’ll make.
  • I know I’m consigned to live at home for the next few years, guaranteed. In fact, the rent money I’ve saved for my parents in a separate account (they wouldn’t take my money) will go to this car’s payment.
  • I know that I can’t travel much for the next few years. In fact, a lot of my travel plans will go on the back-burner, which really hurts because it seems hypocritical, what with the way I’m saying that I should spend my money on experiences not materials and how I don’t want to regret spending my 20s/30s doing nothing.
  • I know that I will have to go back to more extreme frugality. Ironically, I plan to be driving and going out more because I predict I’ll love driving.
  • In the next 5ish years, I predict that there will not be major life changes that will make me think I need all that money. It’s all just money that would’ve gone to savings. Luckily, I have an emergency fund in case of major accidents. I don’t plan to own a home or have children in the near future.
  • And that leads me to this: I’ve been so worried about my future and my finances and retirement (because my mom is retiring and my dad is retired), that I’ve forgotten to live right now. My grandpa is dying and he’s old, so I hope he’s lived a full life. But I can die at any moment. It strikes me at this moment because he’s the first person in my family that I really know to die (my paternal grandparents died, but I met them once long ago and at the time, it seemed so disconnected). It’s jarring and it took until right now typing this for me to realize how much it’s affected me.
  • Rationalist Me wants to just keep saving and keep turning down opportunities because of money. But Idealist Me wants me to live right now. To make mistakes and learn. To make decisions for myself. To just live because we are guaranteed nothing except death in this life and that alone drives me to not squander this existence thinking about petty things and doing things that amount to nothing.
  • It’s because I’ve lived my entire life on the safe side, planning and planning and not acting. I don’t regret much, but I’m getting emotional as I write this because I never thought I would do something like this. And even if it financially ruins me when I’m old and say I wish I had this money and its interest, I want to look back and think that I made this decision and it brought me joy when I did it.
  • I don’t see my future as this white picket nuclear family. I don’t think I’ll get there. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to retire. That doesn’t scare me anymore. But I am worried that I’ll be living life without existing, going day to day without taking advantage of the privilege I’m afforded.
  • Whatever happens to Tesla, whatever the increased cost of owning a luxury vehicle is, whatever issues my car may have, whatever sacrifices to my financial future, whatever comes…anything could happen at any moment and, while I do agree that it’s prudent to prepare for the worst, I need to remind myself that this is a single moment in time that I can look back on and remember as a great moment in a, so far, great life.
  • Many people (my parents included) don’t realize that hard work is not a measure for success. You can work hard and never achieve anything. I don’t want that life for myself and I am in a position where I can choose (a vast majority of people in this world do not get this choice). And yes, perhaps I’ll never be hardened and resilient in certain ways, but in other ways, I am and will be. It’s the Protestant work ethic as the foundation of this nation that tells us to just keep working and try to enjoy your 48-hour weekend before doing the same thing again. All this to make money to keep yourself alive. I’m barely fulfilling the hierarchy of needs if I just do this. It never was right for me. I want to work enough and suffer enough and spend the rest of my waking life enjoying that particular moment in time, whatever it may be. Of course, as an aside, I am lucky enough to love my work. It is an exceedingly self-centered viewpoint, I am aware. Many people are not in my position. For me, right now, I’m not thinking about my future house and spouse and children and their futures, as perhaps I should be. But it worries me when I realize that I’m only living for the future and not living for the present. I can’t make all my decisions based on where I think I’ll be and what’s considered the smartest or safest or most followed path. I’ve worked hard in my youth and pushed myself and in the end, I don’t think it was completely worth it.
  • In a weird way, throwing all this money at Tesla has awakened this idea inside me that life is worth living and while time is a relative and made-up concept, it’s not something we can just take for granted.

Asian American Addendum:

  • An important topic to discuss because it’s relevant.
  • My parents were and are refugees who came to America with nothing. But this is not their identity.
  • They have succeeded in fulfilling the American dream, they are successful and have created a healthy life for themselves, me, and my sister. My sister is also successful. I am grateful for our collective good health. It’s not even possible to put into words except to say that I am completely aware of how blessed I am, even at my lowest points, I know this single truth.
  • I know I won’t have to financially support my parents when I’m older and I understand that this is very fortunate. In fact, my parents are not bad with money and neither am I. Because of this financial security, I understand that I come from privilege and can afford opportunities not given to others.
  • I say that because I know a lot of Asian Americans are trying to succeed in order to give back and make those immigrant sacrifices worth it in the end. It’s a lot of pressure, I know.
  • My goal is to succeed so my parents don’t have to worry about me. This is a slightly less pressure-filled goal.
  • And my real goal is to be happy. Not all the time, but in general. And the freedom to find happiness is what I was given. So I want to take that and really live life. Because, ultimately, that’s why my parents came to America. To give their future progeny a better chance at a happy life. Perhaps selfishly, this is what I truly believe. I just need to find my happiness in life and it will all be worth it. I will have repaid this debt I owe to my parents, this debt that all first generation Asian Americans must feel in some form or another.
  • That’s all I need to do to make their sacrifices worth it. I won’t need to support them. I just need to make sure they’re happy and healthy. They won’t need to support me. They just need to make sure I’m happy and healthy. And I think, in that way, we will all succeed in life. And so, because I’ve been so privileged, I decided this was the right decision for me in this exact moment in time.

The Future Is

•2 March 2019 • Leave a Comment

With the coming of March, I find myself yearning for adventure. I awake from my hibernation with a renewed sense of ambition to conquer the world. There’s a sensible calmness in sitting with oneself, observing where one is in the world at this particular moment in time. “Here’s where I’ve been, here’s where I’m at, and here’s where I want to go.” While rain is a definite enzyme to this feeling, I’m ready for the sun and Spring and the end of dreariness, please.

Adaptability

  • I was thinking about my personal independence a lot during my week+ of being sick last month because when I got sick, I turned into an escaped fetus that could not take care of himself outside of the womb. I haven’t been this sick in years and it was miserable and I felt useless. Like there’s no end in sight and you just want to shrivel up so you can crawl back up your mom’s vagina and be swaddled in amniotic fluids (no, just me?). Ever thankful to my parents, with whom I live, because they took care of me when I couldn’t even find the mental and physical strength to take care of myself.
  • Because of the sickness I wasn’t prepared for, I didn’t have any health-hacks I normally do for other things. I resorted to a lot of sugar (cough drops and honey tea). I started just taking hot showers for the steam (though I guess I can’t complain about this habit breaker). The only movement I did was the coughing, which didn’t even give me abs, smh. I slept for a couple hours a day because when I tried to sleep, I just kept coughing myself awake. I’ve never been so wide awake between 0200 and 0400 before. I could barely stomach any food and was definitely losing weight but couldn’t really do anything about it.
  • And while I admit to being melodramatic for the sake of drama, it does go to show that even when you’re about to get your shit together after the new year, a meteor crashes down on all your plans and somehow fucks you up the butt too. While I would like to say I was able to cope, I really was barely holding on to my sanity. I just gave negative shits about everything.

Balance

  • Dinners have been a little longer now. Why is that? Because I wait for my parents to finish eating and then I clean up. Not because I am a selfless and helpful individual, but because I like to demonstrate how easy it is to store food without using plastic wrap. Once we are stable with this lesson, I hope to move on to cloth napkins only.
  • I’ve still been recovering from the habit-destroying illness of February 2k19, so it’s been taking me a while to get back into the routines that I inevitably need to keep me tethered to some sort of reality.

Experience

  • We celebrated Tet on a rainy Sunday in SoCal, which is unfortunate because the rain makes me want to not celebrate, but instead go back to bed and turn into a chrysalis. My aunt told me she put away her Styrofoam plates because she knows I don’t like Styrofoam (I love when stuff like this happens!).
  • So Dhruv has officially begun the process of showing me how to paint minis and it’s much more involved and intense than I thought. But oh boy, is it addicting! At first, I didn’t think it was going so well, but towards the end, it seemed to be coming together (just have faith, B!). Though my eyes were straining, I completed the applying the base step. And honestly, it’s satisfactory at this level, so I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Freedom

  • I’m finally slowly moving my money over to an online bank so I can start saving some money instead of letting it just sit there uselessly. It’s also a credit union because I’d rather my money be used by a credit union than a large national bank. That’s not to say I still won’t have some money in the bank account, nor have they personally done wrong by me, but socially aware me wants to do better so this is a happy medium for all parties involved.
  • Speaking of money, I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m saving for. Retirement is always important. But I want a new car. And I still need to get some degrees. And then there’s travel, which technically, is a necessity. And of course, the inevitable rent. It’s been so hard trying to figure out what I want to prioritize, which in a way, is lucky and pretentious of me to even be able to consider this, I realize. But, it’s all relative. I think I have to spend time really honing in on my financial future because money makes the world go round, something of a necessary evil. Unless…I could just go live in some sort of hippie commune and not have to worry about anything.

Signal Boost

The Domestics. A movie about a kinda-couple who have to travel across the state in a post-apocalyptic world and- you guessed it- the whites be psycho! The lore doesn’t make too much sense, but the fun was in all the different gangs that developed and the gore was great. They could’ve done much more with it, but it was a good time when you’re sick and want to watch a movie without thinking too hard.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. A movie not about fantastic beasts, but in fact, about Johnny Depp playing an asshole (so real life, byeee). Ugh, so many issues with this movie, which is a shame because I really enjoyed the first one as it breathed new life into the Potterverse. At least the fantastic beasts were still cute, but they managed to just add them in randomly to remind audiences that this movie is in the Fantastic Beasts universe. Hoping for better installments in the future. RIP Nagini.

The Favourite. A movie about two cousins vying for the attention of a queen. It’s a Yorgos Lanthimos film, so that’s really all you need to know. Any other period piece would be boring to me, but somehow, he makes it so quirky, funny, and random. Emma Stone is bae, as always.

Mary Queen of Scots. A movie about sister(?)/cousin(?)-queens who fight for the throne. I’m not a period piece fan, nor do I really like history as much as I should. I have interest in it now, but who knows what’s real or not? I never appreciated it back in school, so now I’m just confused. That’s all to say I have no idea what the point of this movie was, nor do I understand it’s history in the greater context of world history. Kinda boring and not enough of the baes, Margot Robbie and Gemma Chan.

Mirai. An animated movie about a young boy who struggles to cope with the arrival of his baby sister. But then things get all fantastic and magical and wonderful and beautiful. The animation is brilliant and I’m glad I didn’t know anything about this film before watching because it took me on a magical adventure that I didn’t expect. And it almost feels like just what I needed right now.

Ralph Breaks the Internet. A Disney movie about a videogame character going to the Internet to solve his problems. Y’all, what a cute movie…I’m mainly glad they avoided the dark recesses of the Internet and their references were wholesome. My favorite scenes were hands down the ones with the princesses. Also, Gal Gadot is bae. I’m so glad Disney decided to care about their franchises/properties/sequels.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. A movie about some Spider-persons from different universes colliding. Man, what a masterful theatrical experience. When I see a movie like this, I can’t help but be so inspired. The visuals were stunning. The soundtrack was dope. The meta-ness and multiverse were extra meta. The movie wasn’t about some boring white nerd, for once! I need more of the Spider-Verse asap.

Bojack Horseman (seasons 1-5). A Netflix original animated series about an alternate universe where there are anthropomorphic animals and, more specifically, about an actor who is a horrible person. Spoiler alert: possibly my new favorite show. It’s been on my list forever, and I finally had nothing else to binge, so it was the perfect time to get through 5 seasons. First off, I love the lore. All the animals, the world, the continuity, the background…even when it doesn’t make sense. Then there are the social issues and topics, which are handled superbly in a nuanced way. They really cover the gamut here. Lastly, the characters are great. Yes, Bojack is very problematic. Yes, Diane Nguyen is voiced by Alison Brie (but I love Alison Brie, so…). I could go on and on. Another brilliant show in the guise of a comedic cartoon.

The Dragon Prince (season 2). A Netflix animated original show about some kids trying to stop a war by delivering a baby dragon to its mother. Though this season was slower, there was more cuteness and more revelations. I’m so glad this show exists as I’ve missed the brilliance of Avatar: The Last Airbender and this scratches that itch nicely. There are less episodes, so there isn’t time for filler, which is a shame. However, character development is still top-notch.

Weird City (season 1). A YouTube original anthology show about a futuristic city and the weird things that happen in it. It’s Black Mirror, but light and funny and doesn’t make you want to die before you have to experience society’s downfall. And y’all, it’s funny, with such a great cast of guest stars. Also, by Jordan Peele, so get on that ish!

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu. A collection of short stories from Liu’s mind that he wanted to give life to. A recommendation from my sister, as this is one of her favorites (and now, one of mine). The themes are varied between history, sci-fi, and I love the underlying Asian-ness of many of them. Particularly, listening to (the award-winning) “The Paper Menagerie” made me cry. It’s my favorite in the collection, but there are so many other great snippets of stories that are so well polished, you’d wish they were full novels.

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. A book about structural racism. Perhaps for me, this wasn’t as enlightening as it would be for others because I already understand how structural racism is pervasive in everyday life (weird flex? humble brag?). Nonetheless, it is an important and short read that I think everyone can learn something from.

Persona 5. A videogame about a group of Japanese high schoolers who gain the power to fix corruption in people’s hearts. My first Megami Tensei game, so I didn’t know what to expect, but it was on a lot of favorite lists. And it was quite precious, despite the fan-service, sexism, homophobia, and obvious catering to a Japanese boy’s wet dreams. At times frustrating, at other times, highly addicting and fun. Catching personas (like Pokemon), deciding what tasks to do each day to raise stats (very stressful), building relationships (though romance was bland and didn’t affect anything). 115+ hours later, I really enjoyed the message of this game and the ending was perfectly suited.