Posted March 14, 2013 by Thought Catalog
Categories: Uncategorized

Thought Catalog

I used to drink coffee every morning, but now I drink tea. I feel I am very much a coffee person in spirit — in the same way that I am a dog person, maybe — but I have always been drawn to tea people. They have surrounded me in life and warmed me to the more nuanced, quiet pleasures of all the different teas there are to try. My best friend loves English Breakfast, my sister loves Earl Grey, my boyfriend loves Lapsang Souchong. Now, after years of turning up my nose and pouring myself another espresso, I love all of them. (Except Earl Grey, because bergamot tickles my throat.)

There is something beautiful about learning to love through osmosis. We fall in love with people throughout our lives and, by extension, learn to love what they love. Everything that they are interested in, everything they touch, is suddenly…

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Scrubs and My Brother

Posted November 7, 2011 by YAI
Categories: Uncategorized

Back during the summer of my junior year, a friend of mine convinced me to start watching a show called “Scrubs”. I marathoned all six seasons that summer, probably within the span of a week. It was the first time I remember running into the megavideo 72 minute limit. Scrubs had this irresistible quirky sense of humor while balancing it with some heavy handed morals. The show is one of my favorites and sometimes I’ll rewatch a few episodes out of nostalgia. The great thing about “Scrubs” is its cast. I really enjoyed Dr. Cox for his sarcasm and his repertoire with J.D., but the character I identified with most though would have to be Dan, J.D.’s older brother.

Dan was played by Tom Cavanagh as a whimsical, happy-go-lucky, fast-talking mess of a person. We’re first introduced to him when he’s living in his mom’s garage and his biggest promotion was to bartender. But Dan’s progression through the time of “Scrubs” was almost inspirational; by the time the series ended, he was a successful real estate agent and was making enough money to gift a Prius to J.D. Not exactly a compelling character on paper, especially if you take into account that you could count his appearances on the show with one hand. But it was what he did during his stints on the show that made his so great to me. It was his second appearance that really resonated, when he visits J.D. and Dan finds his younger brother becoming a cynical, callous doctor.

Besides being a great emotional scene, it made me take a step back and look at my own sibling relationship with my own younger brother. Would I be able to do the same thing? I like to think I would and that the opportunity hasn’t presented itself. Does he look up to me at all? Am I proud of him? Will our relationship as brothers deteriorate as we get older?

Among my group of friends, I’m fairly sure I’m the only one who has a sibling within two years of my own age. And our relationship has never really been ideal. It’s no secret I haven’t been an easy person to live with, especially since I went around with this self-entitlement all older brothers hold over their younger brothers. I would, as all older siblings would, disregard him to hang out with friends from school. I’ve always felt a certain responsibility to make my brother’s life easier but I’ve never acted on it, and it bothers me. In all honesty, I didn’t like having a younger brother because of this responsibility from my parents and from society. This resulted in fighting with him every chance I could get. Sometimes he would deserve it (most of the time, he deserved it), but there have definitely been fights born out of resentment for the other.

Some of my favorite times with my brother is when we’re fighting. Not like when we were younger, though not much has changed since then. We fight about everything and anything, but it’s how we’ve learned to keep entertain ourselves. We do it mostly because it’s fun and we make each other laugh during them because we say some pretty stupid things when we fight. I feel closest to him when we’re having these back-and-forths. I can’t speak for him, but when we are fighting, I feel most like myself.

I can’t imagine life without my brother. Life would certainly be easier, but I wouldn’t be the same person if it wasn’t for him. And it’s from these recent fights that this guilt of never doing anything for him has come up. But like all sibling relationships, ours is always evolving. I hope I can be a brother like Dan and look out for him, even when I’m not someone he sees as an older brother.

Auld Lang Syne

Posted January 1, 2011 by YAI
Categories: Uncategorized

Auld Lang Syne is my favorite Christmastime song, despite it not actually having to do with the holiday. I love it partly because it’s Scottish, but also because with it comes the gratitude of the past year and expectation of the next. It’s the one time of year I can count on reflecting on my life and taking my reflections seriously.

I can say with a certain level of confidence that this year, unlike the last couple years, has not been terrible. I mean, yes, I have had better days and not many good ones (not many I remember, anyway) but there was nothing absolutely soul-crushing of this past year. I dealt with failure and came back from it. I have started doing better in school because of that failure. I’ve spent more time with family and I feel like I know them better now.  I read more than I have in the last three years combined, having read about nine books during the last five months of 2010, about five of them in one sitting. I lost my grandma this year and now appreciate the sympathy and pain that comes with losing a loved one (I am somewhat emotionally dead inside, as I was the only person in my extended family that did not cry during the time for her funeral).

But what I think is most important to me is that I have a better sense of self from this past year. Let me set this up with a small anecdote. This past Monday, December 27th, I went to the Golden State Warriors vs. Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers basketball game with my dad. And on the way to the game, I was telling him of my time in college, as I often do. I was telling him about the choice I had to either minor in Statistics or to minor in Education. He replied that a minor in the former would be more useful later in life when applying for a Masters’ program or for Graduate School. And I resented his answer.

My point is that I have learned a lot about myself through my relationship with my dad. He follows the general principle that everything is just a means to an end. And I can’t live by that mentality. Most of my life has been trying to win his approval and it took me 20 years and five months to realize that while I enjoy it and it’s nice to have, I don’t need it. I have learned that there are times when I have to do things I don’t want to (i.e. major in Business Management Economics) but that doesn’t mean that I cannot enjoy myself. The present is important because it is our lives and if you don’t enjoy the current arrangement, then something should be changed. Do work, even when you don’t enjoy it, but never take the enjoyment out of your everyday life.

I have also learned something about fathers in general. Dads should never be openly questioned, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t question them. They are not infallible. They are human. They are their sons’ heroes because they are human. Their choices for you shape you because you are human. And because they are human, they are prone to living in a singularly minded point of view, namely their own. And because we are human, there will come a time when we resent them for this point of view. And that is okay. Dads shape you into the man you become, but you are not your dad.

And now, like I’ve done in past years, it’s time for the “Thank You”s. Last year, I wrote that the message 2009 gave me was to “follow your dreams”. This year, it was “move forward, work hard, and the dreams will come to you”. I honestly think that at some point in my adult life, I will look at my life and realize that I am exactly where I want to be. This year was the first step to that goal. So thanks are in order for those who made this year great.

Thank you Lauren Jeong for being, for better or for worse, one of the most reliable friends I have ever had. Thank you Thomas Tran for always reminding me of myself and being an amazing person to be around. Thank you Carol Liang for being my online confidant and fellow internet lurker. Thank you Ishaan Sengupta for being, for the lack of a better phrase, my better half for not just the past year, but since I started college. Thank you Gordon Huang, Seth Wong, Rayson Lui, and Adam Rosasco for being the same people I met when I first met you guys and for being good people to kill time with. Thank you Tiffany Sun for testing me in ways I couldn’t even think possible before and for counting on me. Thank you Daphne-Loves-Derby-Message-Board-Members-On-Tumblr for accepting me for being the introverted stranger and making me feel valuable again. Thank you Hank and John Green for helping me rediscover that intellectual sharpness is totally bad-ass and reminding me why I was an obsessive reader in second grade. Thank you Andrew Yi and friends for reminding me that being young means not giving a damn what people think. Thank you Dad for being the man I model myself upon and the high standard that I try to meet everyday. And thank you to everyone I could not remember. Every person I met had a hand in making 2010 the year that it was: exciting, trying, and worth living.

Last year, I also made a goal. That goal was Don’t give people the chance to give you shit. Not even your parents. And for the most part, I think I succeeded. It’s always a work in progress, but in more ways I can count, I was successful. So this year, I’ll do the same. This year, the goal is this: Stay creative. Stay hungry. Stay determined. I think a lot of my success this past year was from making a goal, so this year, I’ll add to it. Don’t give people the chance to give you crap and do something, anything you find worth doing.

I hope that 2011 will bring more of the same 2010 did: more chances to be great and more progress in a good direction.

What did he just write?

Posted September 23, 2010 by YAI
Categories: Uncategorized

Every single time I write something here on wordpress, I feel like I regress to the 13-year-old that I once was, complaining to the world that wouldn’t listen about how life is hard and bleak. I’m sure this means something. Perhaps it means that I only ever feel like writing “blogs” when I’m not particularly in the happiest of mindsets. Or maybe I only ever log in when I’m feeling particularly poignant or introspective. Neither of these seem right, though.

Or rather, one seems more invalid than the other. The only reason why I’m even sitting and writing this stunning piece of prose is because I’m stranded on campus because my bus only ever comes in hour and a half intervals. So I’m sitting in one of the learning computer labs on campus waxing pseudo-philosophical while listening to the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World soundtrack, which as it happens, is very good.

The only thing I can really definitively differentiate between prepubescent me and me right now is that my vocabulary has gotten better. That’s about the only thing I can really say, however. I still know very little about music, although I now think of the radio as white noise for driving rather than a source of excellent tunes. I’m also prone to these particularly annoying bouts of not-quite-loneliness and, for a lack of a better, more fitting term, emo-ness. Ah, I also seem to make sense only to me. This can be argued with the idea that nobody can really make sense of another’s musings, that people are inherently trapped within their own head, but even then, I’m sure that means nothing more than chucks are lost in translation. My case seems to be not only an inept translator, but the dialect is unknown and foreign.

Even when I read that last paragraph back, I can’t help but be angry at the person who wrote it.

And now I must leave, for my bus is to come in any minute and I do not want to spend another hour and a half sitting outside, staring at my phone, feeling like Holden in a phonebooth. I sincerely doubt that I’ll be cheerier the next time I feel compelled to write here, but anything is possible. It is the 21st century after all.

Happy Birthday?

Posted August 2, 2010 by YAI
Categories: Uncategorized

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Yesterday was my birthday. Officially Twenty. No clever tweets or slogans this year. Hell, not even any real celebration. Today I was happy just sitting at home, sleeping until noon-ish (still haven’t slept past noon this summer), and just enjoying what I once called daily routine. It was probably the best way I could have spent my 20th birthday.

But with my birthday comes my annoyance. Yeah. Annoyance. Even borderline fury. The source of this annoyance is facebook. It’s basically ruined birthdays for me. And all because people feel obligated to leave a “Happy Birthday!” on my wall. Just to let me know they were “thinking of me” today. And I can’t help but get infuriated at this. There are people who posted on my wall today that I haven’t talked to since even before graduation. People I haven’t seen in years. If I haven’t seen you in so long, why leave me a message? Why is today special? In fact, if all you can leave on my wall is just “Happy Birthday Alex” or some derivative, why are we even facebook “friends” at all? The converse is opposite. There are people that I genuinely thought would care about my birthday that I haven’t heard from. Why haven’t I heard from them? Guess I don’t leave quite the impression I thought I would.

I quite frankly don’t care that it was my birthday. I mean, sure it was an excuse to celebrate and have fun. But what’s it matter? Not if all of social networking ruins it for me. Give the impression that you care when you don’t. Letting people down when you do. And this is not to say that I’m not innocent of this at all, either. In fact, I rarely facebook people for their birthdays. If I’m going to wish them happy birthday, I want to say it to their face so they can see I genuinely wish them the best on their day. Or at the very least, personalize the message on AIM or facebook or whatever. What the fuck does a generic “happy birthday alex” do? No time to punctuate? Not even with a period? Or what, can’t elaborate on that? Can’t type some sort of “Missed you on that trip and see you next whatever”? Fuck. If you have nothing to say other than that, I’d rather you said nothing at all. Cause fuck it all, you obviously don’t care and you wouldn’t do anything if facebook didn’t conveniently remind you of my birthday.

So that’s it I guess. I am close to loathing my birthday. Which is to say it wasn’t a very happy birthday at all. Because of social networking. Fuck it all. Can’t wait to see it happen all over again next year. Fuck. I could punch a wall until my hand fell off  just thinking about it. Gotta respond to all these empty birthday wishes now.

“Shallow and Pedantic”

Posted May 26, 2010 by YAI
Categories: Uncategorized

Every time I sit down or take time out to write something on wordpress, it feels like I’m trying to be Zach Braff on Scrubs. Preachy, pedantic, and just esoteric really. I think it’s because I haven’t really had an original thought.

That actually sounds a little hard on myself. I think a slightly better way to say it is that I feel like I haven’t ever really had an original thought. Among the many innocuous debates and oddities I like to think about is the fact that most things have already been thought. Many places of inspiration have been tapped by someone, somehow. Through photographs, through stories, through other works that have already been widely published. Thoughts and ideas are also, as someone put it (I think it was a Green Brother of the vlogbrothers), not scarce. It’s like the only thing that doesn’t deplete if consumed. It then gets into the whole thing about intellectual property and heavy topics, so I stop thinking about them. But it’s something that I visit a lot, especially when exposing myself to pop culture. Movies don’t seem to have a single original story or joke anymore. Most songs are about the exact same things (booze, booty, and parties). And everybody on any social networking site logs and regurgitates information found through someone else.

It surprises and frustrates me to find out how little originality there is in media. It seems to me that originality isn’t a treasured thing anymore. I just keep hoping that someone is able to prove me wrong.

“The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, something to hope for.”

Posted May 18, 2010 by YAI
Categories: Uncategorized

-Allan K. Chalmers

I have several very unusual hobbies. One of which is to watch the commencement speeches at College Graduations. I have seen several of them and read the transcripts of a few more. Steve Jobs at Stanford, J.K. Rowling at Harvard, David Foster Wallace at Kenyon in recent memory. And on the whole, most of them speak of the value of following your passion, valuing imagination, or believing in your gut. Basically, a lot of them are idealistic. Which makes sense. Graduation is a time of hope and excitement for the future, for thinking of the things that you have yet to accomplish in your life.

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but I find there’s another reason for these lofty speeches of ideals and dreams. It’s the last time most people will think in such a idealistic way. I have yet to graduate from college (and that is assuming that I make it to the end of my fourth year), but it seems to me that after the joyous occasion that is College Graduation, the immediate next step is monotony and boredom. A majority of what I have come to expect after graduation is the rat race or to look for more money.

It’s already quite prevalent now. I, like many of my peers, have had to switch majors. I used to be a Biological Sciences major and I switched to Economics. Not because Economics was my passion, but because I was disqualified from studying Biology. I had failed a prerequisite class and was barred from the department. And I was not alone in this change. The familiar faces I had seen in Chemistry or Engineering Math I was reacquainted with in Macro Economics or Statistics. Many believed they weren’t cut out to study hard sciences. Others thought they had a better chance of earning higher salaries immediately out of university. But nobody I know that made this transition made it because it was their passion or destiny.

I am also a supporter of TED Talks. One of my favorites was given by Mike Rowe, the host of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. Sorry to spoil it, but he states that there need to be blue collar workers. Plumbers, Construction Workers, Sanitation Engineers don’t need college educations to perform. And there is a general consensus that these jobs are undesirable. More people are leaving the blue collar world for the white one. And the quality of this country’s infrastructure is failing because of this shift.

Reading it all over, it may seem like I’m saying that college is a useless institution or that your passions are worth jack. I have my own passions and dreams I want to pursue. I want to be an animator or storyboard artist. I support small time independent artists pursuing their passions. I want to travel the world, or at the very least, move to New York. I want to do many things with my life, some of which is more realistic than others. What I think I’m trying to say is that Asian parents have the right idea that dreams don’t exactly pay the bills. I just think it’s incomplete. People discredit the worth of hard work because of the shift towards a service economy. A college degree has gone from a luxury to a demanded commodity by employers. But become a country that shifts to a total service economy, the garbage will stay in the streets and indoor plumbing will be a thing of the past.

  • Never think you’re too good for a job. Do it and do it well.
  • And never look down on the garbage man. Because their job is secure. Yours may not be.
  • And while everybody can and should pursue their dreams and try to turn their passions into professions, don’t quit your day job because it 1) pays the bills and 2) keeps everybody going.