Uninspired, but at peace

My Awesome Life, Uncategorized, Writing

I’m on the cusp of a profound transition, arguably the most significant one in modern life: crossing the threshold from 20 to 21.

My grand initiation into the 21 Club is scheduled on Pi Day, which may be more than 50 days away, but I thought I might as well reflect on and immortalize in writing the bizarre and uninspiring person I’ve grown into over the last two decades.

The first 20 years of my life have been a collage of confused decisions, abandoned resolutions, disillusioned attempts down various career paths, and random epiphanies about both myself and the world around me.

My teenage years revolved around an emotional pendulum rooted at equilibrium, refusing to even flirt with either extreme. I’ve been frustrated and lost, hovering in a purgatory of mediocrity and indifference for the better part of the last four years. I’ve been sad but never heartbroken, I’ve been happy but never ecstatic, and I’ve dated but never in love. At times I feel like I’m incapable of feeling anything to the fullest extent, like anything I experience will only be a dimmer version of what others have already felt. I love writing–always will–but I’ve never felt that scorching thirst to sew my dreams into narratives, never been inspired enough to write for hours on end until the sun bled into the horizon and hours bled into days. Can I ever feel as passionate about anything as professional athletes do about winning a damn trophy, or as actors do about, well, acting? Can I ever commit to anything?

My state of mind is the Jamie xx album, “In Color”—not any particular track but snippets of the entire album. In electronic music, we anticipate drops. We dig bangers that take us on pulsating mind trips and emotional roller coaster rides. The spectacular is what expect from life, too, and if we don’t get it, we lash out: “I didn’t deserve this. I just thought there’d be more.” When the going gets tough, we tell ourselves to hang in there, push through the pain and wait for eminent arrival of better days. I think that’s been my attitude for the majority of my adolescent years: You haven’t seen shit. Just wait for the bass to drop.

The bass never drops in “In Color.” It’s just an impressionistic painting of intelligent beat-making and ethereal atmospherics, delicate but brimming with wonder. Some tracks (“Far Nearer,” “Loud Places”) bottle a fountain of youthful emotions–optimism, desire, dread, yearning–into a quiet and exquisite world of gentle, fluttering synth sequences and stirring vocals. “Gosh” builds up to a two-minute climax of lush keyboard soundscapes that douse you with euphoria and hope. On the other side of the spectrum, “Stranger In a Room” envelops you in spellbinding warmth using minimal percussion beats against deep baselines, hinting that life can be okay without staggering achievements or life-changing revelations.

Electronic music is an enormous and expanding world of countless sub-genres that defy categorization. Bangers comprise a recognizable but very small part of that world; extraordinary milestones comprise but a small part of ours. I’ve been so lost and frustrated that my youth–the most exciting years of my life–has so far been defined by a maddening indifference, and that I couldn’t find the motivation to reach my full potential to make my parents proud.

But maybe I’ve been asking too much. The way we package our emotions determines the way we experience them. I’ve never been euphoric about anything, but I’ve been happy about plenty: getting into college, road-tripping with mom, feeding my dog, hanging out with friends. I just need to believe that happiness can give me the same satisfaction as euphoria. I’ve never been obsessed with writing, but I want to write and I’ll continue doing so, inspired or not. What if you don’t need to live life to the fullest to be at peace with it? I’m not in love with life, but I feel lucky to be alive and to live this life.

I doubt much will change about my appearance or attitude 12 months from now. Maybe I’ll be single and jobless at 25; maybe I’ll be profiling Leonardo DiCaprio for Vanity Fair. I can’t see either happening, but I have always been dreadful at predicting the trajectory of my life. And I’m still young. I want to believe that one day I will fall in love with life.

 

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What’s the most important (or interesting, or unexpected) thing about blogging you know today that you didn’t know a month ago?

When I joined WordPress in late July, I thought a blog was just an online journal. A publicized journal, yes, but not one that the reader has any control over. At first, I wanted people to read my stuff, but I never really cared too much what they thought. Four months and eighty-four posts later, I’ve realized that writing is never an entirely isolated process and that interaction is what makes blogging meaningful. The advice and support I received from my fellow bloggers, especially in the last week, have really kept me motivated and made me believe that writing is what I’m meant to be doing. Now I spend almost as much time reading and replying to comments as I do creating new posts. Blogging has taught me that I can’t make it into the writing world without the help of other writers.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/recently-acquired/

Blogging Lessons

Daily Prompts

First Come First Serve

Musings/Rants

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a tennis junkie who watches almost every important match played during the year. Unfortunately, I can never watch all of the important matches because I have to attend this dumb thing called school. Most of my college professors allow us to use our laptops during class, so I can simultaneously stream matches and take notes. But high school ain’t so sweet. Teachers are fucking vultures, just gawking at you and waiting to peck you alive for showing the slightest sign of disinterest in their vastly entertaining lectures. (I’m talking specifically about most of the teachers I had at my high school, a place I loathed with 97% of my heart. So please take no offense). Technology is basically taboo. Well, except for that shitty projector thingy they love so much. I’m not even allowed to check the bloody live scores on my phone. But I never gave a shit, of course. Saturday school was a small price to pay for an update on my favorite player’s journey to conquer yet another milestone. Trust me, you’ll find tons of sports fans more obsessive than I.

Shit, I’ve digressed quite drastically from the actual point of this post. I didn’t intend to go on a mini rant about my horrendous high school experience. What I really wanted to say is that my following of a tennis match has zero impact on the outcome of that match. Yet, I still can’t help but believe that if I follow the match, by either watching it or checking the scores, my favorite player (or favorite team in other sports) has a higher chance of winning. In other words, if I stare at the screen long enough the next point is more likely to go Djokovic than Nadal. If I don’t check the scores for 20 minutes, I’m sure Nadal will be up by two breaks. It’s bizarre and completely irrational, and I’m honestly kind of embarrassed for believing that.

But is it really so bizarre to want to be involved in something larger than ourselves, to foolishly overestimate our importance? I don’t think so. We want to feel important in this huge, crowded world. First hand knowledge makes us feel important. That’s why replays are never as impactful as live matches. Because millions of people already know the results. Because millions of people have already celebrated or sobbed with their friends. Because millions of people already witnessed the event before you did, which makes your experience irrelevant.

Take this line, for example: “Dude that’s old news. You’ve only just found out?”

We’ve all heard that before. We’ve all said that before. Apparently we only have a small window of time to make our knowledge of current events relevant. That window is generally 24 hours wide. When it comes to sports, it’s 2 hours wide. The relevance of our knowledge and the importance of our opinion on an event are heavily contingent on the number of people who came upon that event before we did. We can never be the last to discover anything. The least we can do is be one of the first.

This has been a very strange and disorderly post. I’m not sure if any of it made sense at all, but I just think it’s an interesting subject to discuss.

Please Hate Me

My Awesome Life

I’m terrified of kids.

But for some bizarre reason they seem to love me, which makes everything very uncomfortable. Last week my mom and I had dinner at Outback with her coworker and his 5-year-old daughter, Jade. Everything was going fine until the waiter dropped by and gave Jade a coloring booklet and some crayons. You know that suicidal feeling you get when you accidentally send a rage text to the person it was attacking? Yup, that’s how I felt when the booklet landed on the table. She grabbed the crayons and started attacking the outlined pictures on the booklet. Worse yet, she made sure I knew exactly what she was doing.

“Hey look at my turtle. It’s blue!!!!!!”

“I’m coloring this green because it looks like grass. Isn’t it pretty??”

“Look at my mermaid!!!!”

“Uh. It’s nice.” That’s literally my response to everything she said. I mean, what was I supposed to say? Oh, the vibrant blue against the stark white background illuminates the sharpness of the thick black edges. Jade, you’re a fucking prodigy. She’d probably think that I had just spoken Spanish. Truth is, I’m just really bad with compliments, even when I’m talking to friends my own age. Even when I do feel genuinely happy for their success or whatever, I just don’t know how to express that in a natural, believable manner. I’d pause for an eternity while I debate on the most apt way to congratulate them, then I’d come up with nothing and just mumble, “Congrats. It looks nice.” Moments like that made me feel like such an embarrassment to society.

But Jade didn’t seem to be bothered by my awkward and disinterested compliments. If anything she only became more animated and talkative. So I kept on spilling empty praises and kept on smiling. I smiled for so long that I could swear my damn jaws started bleeding. It was exhausting as hell. The problem with kids is that they’re too innocent and dumb (no offensive intended) to interpret tone and body language. Anyone older than 13 would probably think I’m a sour bitch and ditch me after about three minutes. Kids wouldn’t leave you alone unless you hit them or something. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Jade or children in general. They’re sweet and pure and adorable and just a tad annoying. I don’t hate them for any personal reasons. I just despise interacting with them because I have to talk all the time, and I hate talking with a passion.

Bite-sized Brains

Musings/Rants

Do you ever wondered how often the “9” button on the microwave is pressed?

I was thinking about that because my mom left me some noodles for lunch, but I was too lazy to heat it up so I just ate some cereal instead. The microwave is at once the most-used and most-underused device in the household. We use it almost everyday for almost any type of food – drinks, packaged food, left-overs, popcorn – but at the same, we only ever use half of it. When was the last time you hit any button on the top row? You only hear about one-minute Quiche, two-minute noodlesfive-minute brownies. Let’s be real, if you have to wait seven-minutes for the damn microwave, you might as well just get the pan out and cook something.

For whatever reason, we just don’t seem to have enough time. Everything in our lives somehow revolves around speed. How can I get the most done in the least amount of time? This attitude applies to communication more than anything else. The reason why news and social media have become intertwined is that we young people just can’t be bothered to open up a new tab on The NY Times or The Washington Post and search for serious shit ourselves. But being the narcissistic gossipers we are, of course we’d be on Facebook all the time, so the only way the government or whatever can get us updated on worldly affairs is by posting bite-sized headlines on the FB Home page for us to skim through while we’re stalking other people. It’s kind of sad, isn’t it?

I’m not sure if our short-attention span is a cultural thing or a hereditary thing. All I know is that actively seeking detailed and complicated information is a long and winding process that doesn’t appeal to me. And patience isn’t my strong suit. But despite all that, I believe we still need to put in that effort to learn new things, even if they don’t interest us as much. That nine-minute microwave chocolate cake probably tastes a thousand times better than anything you can get in two-minutes. You just have to be patient enough to see it through.

Fucked Up

Relationships and Shit

Kids have sex in the park.

Did you know that? Allow me to clarify. By kids I mean high schoolers, maybe some college students and 8th graders (I hope not) too, and by the park I mean the park five minutes from my high school. The sex happens after sunset, for obvious reasons. How did I know this? Because who fucked who where and when is all you ever heard about during lunch breaks. Not entirely true, but people are quite vocal about their sex life, to their friends at least.

Now, before you start hating the Almighty for creating my generation (as I’ve been doing for the last 10 years), just try to understand our dilemma here. Imagine being 16 again, young and reckless, stacked with bursting hormones that you have no idea how to control. On the one hand, you have a relentless Entertainment industry that shamelessly glorifies casual sex, kinky sex, underage sex. On the other hand, you have this rigid, protective family (for Asians at least) that absolutely forbid you to fuck anyone under their watch because they don’t think you’re capable of correctly using a condom (which is quite true). Sex is apparently both liberating and sordid. Now you’re just confused. The world tells you to embrace your rebelliousness and free your damn hormones but the people who supposedly love the most won’t hear of it.

So what do you do? You have sex in the damn park. That way, you can please the world without pissing off your parents. It’s tough being a teenager, huh?

Throwback Thursday: Summer Foodporn

Throwback Thursday

I’ve been writing a bit too much lately, so today I’ll just do a photo blog. During summer break, my friends and I pigged out almost every day at our favorites places in Orange County, which isn’t exactly famous for its restaurants but food’s always good with company. Here are some of the highlights:

I wish I have healthier pictures to share, but we just aren’t about that life. We’ll probably regret that in 10 years time. Also, the mini cupcakes are homemade.

Salad Days

Daily Prompts, My Awesome Life

I think I’m too young to be talking about the good old days, but I do reminisce about my boarding school days with an aching fondness, which is weird because I absolutely loathed my time there.

My two-year journey started in mid-2002, just in time for the start of second grade and the outbreak of the SARS epidemic. If I start talking about my experiences there, I’d sound like a broken record. The academic stress (elementary schools in China are slightly more challenging than those in America), the homesickness, the bullying: you’ve heard it all a million times over. My fears and struggles were no different to any other kid’s, so there’s no point getting into them. What I do miss about that difficult yet rewarding period of my childhood was the purity of it all. It was a time when we didn’t lie about grades to keep our faces. It was a time when breaks consisted of tag and thumb war rather than Youtube videos and backstabbing gossip. It was a time when girls liked boys because they were funny and sweet rather than tall and dashing. It was a time when orange juice was a breakfast staple rather than a chaser. It was a time when 69 was just an odd number that looked weirdly symmetrical. It was a time when we weren’t afraid to dream.

It was a different China back then, and a different me. I was resilient and compassionate without even realizing it; now, I have to consciously stop myself from pretending to be nice. Everything was so transparent back then: every emotion, every thought we had was tattooed in our expressions. Us teenagers are too sly and phony for our own good, and I guess I’m just tired of guessing all the time. At nineteen, I believe my best days are still ahead of me, but my purest and most honest are long gone.

Tattooed.

Bedtime Stories/Fiction

I often wonder what it feels like to be born in a dryer. Wouldn’t it be nice to tumble around in clothes warmer and softer than cotton candy then pop out smelling like citrus spice?

It sure as hell sounds a lot more comfortable and intimate than crouching in someone’s stomach fluids for eight months. But I shouldn’t complain. How many souls are lucky enough to ingest limitless portions of free nicotine and alcohol before they can even chew their fingers? I’ve been living the high life since the day I woke up in my mother’s toxic swamp. Everyone tells me it’s a miracle that I escaped her womb alive, yet twenty-two years later I’m still not sure that’s the right word. What’s so miraculous about giving a child with doomed genes the opportunity to fuck up her own life?

I’ve never met her. Or him, for that matter. But they taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned: humans are the most soulless machines of all.

~~~~~~~~

“Are you sure about this? It’s going to hurt like hell.”

My client nods and flash me a toothy grin. I shrug and bring my machine down to her left foot. Her breath catch as the needle sinks into her porcelain skin.

“Is this your first tattoo?” I ask out of curtesy as I begin tracing the outline of a sugar skull on her ankle.

“Oh, of course not.” She pulls her shirt up and proudly shows me the watercolor hummingbird on her side rib. “I got this just a few weeks ago.”

“Why the hummingbird?”

“Because it’s everything I wish to be. You know, resilient and graceful and optimistic.” She winces when I start shading the teeth on her joint. “Can’t let pain and disappointment stop you from being you, right?”

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. Chicks like her walk into the parlor every single day, courageously battling through an eternity of pain to get some cliched symbol inked onto the most delicate parts of their bodies for the sole purpose of proving that they’re tougher than other chicks. I can just imagine the smug look on their stupid faces as they unveil my handiwork, the physical manifestation of their phony resilience. As if being continuously poked by a pin for a few hours is an inexpressibly scarring experience comparable to losing a child or being abandoned at birth by someone who’s supposed to love you unconditionally. As if pain is yet another popularity contest that this self-obsessed generation has created for itself.

They’ve never been hurt. Because people who have experienced real pain never come back for more.

You don’t choose pain; pain finds you.

~~~~~~

There’s something so tragically beautiful about fall.

Every moment is like a Jackson Pollock masterpiece, so frenetic and transient – leaves falling to the grass like splashes of orange and red paint bleeding into the deep green backdrop. Fall is at once the climax and twilight of the year, a cacophony of colors and emotions that vanishes just when you’re about to be swept away by its beauty. Anything that dazzling is bound to burn itself out – it’s a metaphor for life, really.

I take a painfully long drag from my cig and exhale, watching the slender grey shadows melt into the baby-blue expanse above.

“Mommy, look what I made.” Skylar shouts from the playground, zealously pointing at a pile of leaves next to the swings.

I walk over to her and scrutinize the abstract forms laid out in front of me. “It’s beautiful, honey. What’s it supposed to be?”

Her little eyebrows furrowed in the adorable way that always makes my heart ache. “Can’t you tell? It’s us.” She points to the big stack of green leaves on the right. “That’s you.” Then the small orange stack in the middle. “That’s me.”

She doesn’t need to explain the yellow stack on the left.

I push a lock of red hair behind her ear and stare straight into those trusting green eyes – his eyes. “Skye, see that hummingbird up there?” I guide her index finger to the tiny creature perched on a branch next to the swing. She nods.

“That’s Daddy’s watching over us.” I touch her freckled cheek. “He’s seen your sketches.”

I don’t know if five-year-olds still believe that bullshit, but Skye grins and runs back to play with her friends. Sooner or later she’d find out, just as I did about my mother’s substance abuse while I was still in her womb. The truth always finds a way rear its ugly head.

I light another cig and fall back on the bench, watching Skye’s copper head bounce up and down the seesaw. Sooner or later she’d resent me. I’ve always known it, but what can I do? How can you tell your kid that she’s the product of a drunken mistake with a married man of three kids? How can you tell her that the only reason she even exists is that your stepparents think abortion is sinful? How can you tell her you’ve never wanted her in the first place?

I suppose it was all inevitable. Teenage delinquent parents. Orphanage. Foster homes. Drugs, alcohol, casual sex. Teenage pregnancy. High school dropout. Single mother. You couldn’t write that shit.

Fate is a tattoo on the heart.