Tuesday, December 27, 2011

like that

my last entry on my lingo embellished on the term "gak", which clarified much of my speak currently.

but "like that" and its permutations have become a more common and often misunderstood phrase in my arsenal.  here is the entry that will attempt to explain its origins and its pervasiveness.

"like that" otherwise known as LT, first derived from "you like that", aka YLT.  as originally explained in an earlier post, this phrase comes from the movie rounders, where the main character sees his friend with an ace of spades tattoo, and the friend says, "you like that?!"  what the phrase is ultimately saying there is not only, "do you find this to be enjoyable?", but with a combined, "i know right?" as in, i know how awesome this is and this feeling of mutual like of this thing that we are enjoying is also pretty awesome.

so being the bros and gaks that we were in las vegas, in 2009, the phrase YLT was born.  it became shortened to LT, because it still retained its original meaning and was a quicker optimal way to say it.

however, LT became so widely used and changed up, that depending on how LT is said, it can mean a variety of things.  kind of like chinese tones, where different inflections can mean different things, LT can also take on a multitude of meanings.  LT?

normal - like aforementioned, it means to ask if someone likes something and to bask in the liking together.

greeting - usually just a regular "lt" online, not asking if anything is particularly liked, but more like a "do you like that i'm contacting you" type of thing.

high pitched - this is usually done after the person who says LT did something gute that the person hearing the LT will not like very much (either because it is done at the latter's expense or because the former is being annoying about a certain victory or such)  it is also used when the LT signifies something hilarious, as the high pitchedness gives it a certain comic effect.

low pitched and slow - this is the creepy LT, when someone says something kind of awkward on purpose and wants to create an even more awkward moment (probably having some sort of weird sexual undertone to it), only used among close friends as others will surely be weirded out.


other permutations:

there are other phrases that i have used that play on the LT phrase in recent times.

-LT - instead of LT this is a negative LT, aka i don't like that. (replaces IDLT)
LT+ - this is like a comment that likes something with the forcefulness of a like on facebook.

like how - this is a standard filler phrase that can go before any statement to kind of give it more emphasis. (sometimes to convey a sense of complaint)

ex.

"like how, this gak is annoying me so much."

"like how what are you up to tonight?"
"like how, i don't know."

like how like how - otherwise known as LHLH, illustrates when i used LH so often i didn't know what else to say after i said LH, so it just became LHLH.

LAG/WAG - like a gak, what a gak - this is used when someone is being particularly gak-like.

LIG - like it's gute, obv.



questions?  comments?  LT?


Monday, November 14, 2011

when i was younger (part 4: grief)


i have had interactions with a lot of different people in my childhood.  it's weird however, because although our family only moved once (and to a town that was probably 15 minutes away from where i was anyway).  some of these interactions would be a one time thing or episodic in nature, family friend get-togethers in far places where the children would play while the parents chattered.

other times there would be friends for a season, where relationships were borne more out of proximity or necessity rather than...i don't know what the proper word for it is, but something sort of like mutuality.  people you didn't really necessarily relate to, but you were friends with anyway because there was no one else around. it seemed like that had been a very common experience for me up until high school.

i can remember being close with people who i can't connect with now, even with the wonders of facebook.  indeed, i have no idea what has become of my first real crush.  she could be dead for all i know, and honestly, i almost think it's not out of the question that she may be.  i have memories of these people who may as well not exist in my life at all, i remember their names and what they looked like, but have not heard from them in years.  they have vanished, for whatever odd reason.  these are people i would have hung out with every day, and considered them close friends, but yet have faded from my life.

that's not to say facebook and other things of the internet hasn't informed me of the goings on of people i used to associate with and befriend.  it's weird to see people you know getting married, becoming older, changing the world in lots of different ways.  social media has kind of made reunions almost obsolete, technology has made them constantly happen in slow motion, where you know what goes on in other people's lives, but don't necessarily interact with them.  those people aren't dead to me exactly, and there is some modicum of relief that they are still around, ready to update me with their most recent posts.

i think what i long for, and what most people want, is permanence.  i think about my friend from the maryland area, and his group of friends, people who he has known for a while, and who have all stayed in relative close proximity.  the bonds that he shares and the time he invests in his friendships are probably very well spent, as he can count on those people to stay in his life for a long time.  in places like nyc, where things are a bit more transient, these kinds of bonds are harder to come by.

i've been fortunate enough to have not gone through a major death in the family or amongst friends, at least something that wasn't unexpected.  that is not to say that this won't be an eventuality (though i also believe for some perverse reason that my death may come sooner than old age), but to simply observe that if one were to look at my capacity for grief, it wouldn't seem that great at all.  after all, what have i really gone through that has been devastating?  this is something that i actually do wonder if it will be detrimental for my craft of acting, in which experiencing pain can be of great inspiration.

but i have experienced grief.  growing up, as mostly an outsider, it was easy to go all in on someone who you actually interacted with, no matter how incompatible you were with them, after all, who else was there really to choose from?  i believe that compared against most, the number of people who have been important in my life and now nothing is extraordinarily high.

when i was 5, after visiting korea for a few weeks, i had cried apparently for days straight after returning to america, crying until i fell asleep.  in america, i had few relationships, and in those weeks, i felt like i had found my family again, only to lose them right back.  this kind of emotional response was not uncommon, i can remember multiple times in my childhood where i had cried, knowing that i would not see someone again or for a long time.  over years of similar types of experiences, i have become more and more numb.  last year, visiting korea for my grandmothers funeral, maybe a day after leaving that family i so desperately cared about , i reverted back to "life goes on".

what changed in high school was that i thought i had finally found some sense of this permanence that i had been longing for.  but over the past half decade, i have come to grips with losing that from a particular episode.  i guess what i might be trying to get at is that a special person's absence from your life may not make too much of a difference if the absence is created by an external factor or death.  i can definitely feel the sting of this pain dull my experience of life.


at some subconscious level, i suppose i believe that people leaving my life so abruptly either had to do with somewhat bad luck or a personal defect.  it is probably these cynical thoughts that have hindered my ability to be a philanthrope, and made my misanthropic habits progress.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

to lose gracefully.

it's been almost three months since i went to vegas.  it was familiar, yet foreign, going back there, to a place i hadn't been for around two years.  you forget, but just missing one series creates a two year gap, and in two years, the landscape of poker completely changed, yet again.  since 2003, really, every year has had a huge change in who's who, what is considered standard play, what the latest drama is going on and the ever increasing level of talent.

5 years ago, i would've said with full confidence that i was in the top 5% of players playing the main event.  this year, i think i might barely crack the top 25%.  while my skills have progressed, the reality of the landscape is that the game has become more and more accessible to more people who would have a natural talent towards it, and theoretical edges against one another become smaller and smaller.

i now acknowledge that going down to the world series may no longer be a hugely profitable endeavor for me (profitable still, but not as much once you factor in flights, hotels, and other expenses from being in vegas), and did not enjoy the trip overall.  i do think that it was a good trip for me to go to overall, to take in the experiences that i did, but i will say that i did not enjoy it this time around for many reasons:

a) many of the players that i was friends with over the years have moved on to different things.  as a result, i felt that i was almost "holding the fort" by going, and was only there with one other friend.

b) simply put, it's harder to win now.  winning is more fun than losing, obviously.

c) i am not a wide eyed 22 year old anymore.  in the poker world, i'm something of a dinosaur, probably around the age where retirement is considered to not be outlandish.  it's true, no one wants to be in the grind forever.


going deep in back to back WPT borgata open tournamnets was a nice outcome, even if i came a bit short (7th it seems, is my destiny), and a good reminder that this old dog still has some new tricks left in him.  however, i don't plan on playing any other tournaments until next years' WSOP, and perhaps not even then.  i will probably only go if i see it being worth my while in terms of fun and enjoyment, than merely just profit.


no one knows how the poker landscape will be in the next couple years, let alone in 5 or 10.  i can't make any overarching assumptions and assume that i can plan for how big of a part it will play in my life so i will acknowledge that transitioning to something different may take a while, until something else becomes a much larger part of my life.

here's to keeping myself busy.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

you got to take a little dirt to keep what you love.

Well you got your reasons
And you got your lies
And you got your manipulations
They cut me down to size.

Friday, July 8, 2011

suffocating.

the first day of play was not a good one.  i ended up at a table with mostly people who had some sort of clue what they were doing.  there were a few softer spots, and i was probably still one of the best players at the table, but it was just hard to get anything going.  i was out of position against the tougher players, and couldn't make hands against the weaker ones.  a situation that kept arising was when i would open a pot and get 3bet from a player in position, and a 4b bluff by me would commit way too much of my stack to be profitable.  as a result, i wasn't really opening a lot of pots and would have to tighten up, which hurt me because i wasn't going to get in a lot of good spots with the fish.

it also didn't help that the two fish at the table were

a) an old guy who played like 5 hands and didn't pay off anything unless he had a big hand.
b) a loose calling guy who seemed to hit every single hand he played...and still managed to only end with around double starting stack.  terrible.

the first day was also marred by the fact that i wasn't playing my absolute best.  that's what disappoints me the most, that i didn't bring my best game even after trying to prepare myself.  there is such a thing as getting too caught up in the moment, and forgetting the fundamentals, and remembering to stick to the game plan.  i was playing a bit too fancy in some spots and it ended up costing me.  though i'm still in the hunt, and the mistakes i made weren't fatal, every opportunity i have to make the best play needs to be taken if i'm to have any shot at this.

i won't go into specific hands because there's nothing that's too interesting.  during the day though, i could feel the heaviness of the moment.  there's something about playing at a table where you're not in control, you become more anxious and start forcing the issue when you need to always let the game come to you.  it's almost like being a sort of poker martial artist, using your opponents aggression and attacks against them, by adapting and creating.  i was trying to force the issue at times, and really i should be calmer, and be thinking more objectively about each situation.  it's been difficult.

day 2a is on monday.  i have around half average with 60% or so of the field remaining, hopefully i'll fare better.  i haven't made a day 3 in five years.

Monday, July 4, 2011

landed.

july 2006

my parents did not approve of my poker playing.  so my sister obliged and took me to the airport.  she might have been convinced to do so because of monetary gifts that came her way when i won my seat in an online qualifier a few days before.

"thanks, see ya later," i said as i got out of the car.

"win lots of money, bitch." she retorted.

this was my third time going to las vegas as a 21+ year old, but this time, it was with a different purpose.  in a sense, a poker tournament is essentially a glorified lottery where skill slightly alters the probability of getting your ticket picked.  win or lose, a singular event has no real significance in terms of distinguishing anything real in terms of accomplishment, except in the monetary prize that comes at the end of the journey.

the view of the vegas skyline is unlike any other city, especially at night.  instantaneously anyone can tell this is vegas, a strange city where pleasure is equated to gaudy buildings, such as an egyptian pyramid, a mock set of buildings that look like new york, a minature eiffel tower, and more.  where huge monstrous buildings are contained on mostly contained on one street, also known as "the strip".

there's plenty to think about overlooking the view while the plane is landing.  how you're going to prepare yourself for the things that await you in las vegas.  for some it's the vices the city has to offer that aren't readily available in their home towns, for others, it's the shows and entertainment (who can resist a good celine outing or a cirque show), and yet for still others, it's the conferences and conventions where their business takes them.

for me, it was something different entirely, the anticipation was preparing my mind, my body, and yes, even my soul and heart for the event that i would be playing.  this was the one shot do not miss your chance to blow that eminem was talking about.  it was time to make it count.  this was going to be a new experience for me, and i wanted to soak it all in as much as i could, and i guess subconsciously, gain from it in a way that was not merely monetary.

"hey, you a poker player?" a guy around 30 or so, asked me from the seat next to me.  i had been reading up on harrington on hold em on the plane.

"yeah."  it always felt strange kind of saying that, somehow identifying oneself as a poker player seemed very arbitrary.

"you know of any good games in vegas?  i'm gonna be playing there with a couple buddies of mine."

"actually, i'm just going down this time to play in the main event at the series."

"oh is that going on right now?  man, that's exciting.  so you're going to be playing with all those famous people huh?  are they any good?"

i laughed off some of his more sillier newbish questions.  talking to strangers sometimes is exhausting.  we chatted for a bit about the upcoming tournament and vegas, until the plane touched down.

"well, i hope you do well man, i'll be looking for you on tv!"

i thought how silly that comment was.  does he know that thousands of players play now every year, and the chances of my appearing were slim?  i let more of my ruder comments evaporate in my mind.

i shut down the various things i had been thinking about in my mind, my job, my relationships, my life post college.  for some reason, all those thoughts slip from my memory except for this one conversation with this random stranger, where the conversation wasn't anything remotely memorable.  i suppose there was something about sharing the experience of anticipation and excitement stuck with me.


--------------------


i've decided to go back to vegas this year.  although yes, i've said i retired, the main event is something that really just happens once a year, and i don't think i'd be violating any retirement clauses by playing in this event.  it's like saying to a retired basketball player who's playing a game of pick up, "wait you're playing basketball?  but you're retired!"

it's really kind of just an event that has a different character all on its own.  sure, the dramatics are somewhat artificial and overdone, but there is a quality to it that i can't exactly describe.

that's why i'm going back this time.  i still feel like i left something on the table, and i'm going back in order to retrieve it.  it's not pride, or money, or anything of that nature.  i've realized that a poker player's legacy only really goes so far, and that nowadays, a full career in gambling can sometimes span less than a decade.  it's to document and see how the experience is, now 5 years removed from when i first went.  it's almost a reunion of sorts.  hum, maybe i'll go just as often as i attend college reunions.

for me, it's an examination of the state of poker, not only as a community, and how it coexists with our culture, but for my own feelings and thoughts towards it.  i pray that i may be able to extract something useful out of the next week in vegas.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

storytelling.

as mentioned from my last entry, i would like to posit that a poker player who is good at his craft, has the same characteristics as a good storyteller.

good story telling begins with an awareness of its audience.

any work of art is going to be limited by its audience.  a piece of artwork that may be worth millions of dollars may not have any significance to someone who's knowledge or appreciation of art is limited.  this is not to say that i have taste in every single art form there is.  no one does.  i will definitely appreciate Amazing Fantasy 15 more than a jackson pollock.

if we are to compare poker playing to an art form, we must also recognize that there are different levels of awareness when it comes to players.  to paraphrase my friend tom, "making advanced plays against newbs is like painting a picasso for a douchey rich guy who has no actual appreciation for it outside of its name, a total waste."

therefore, as a poker player, never fall into the trap of thinking, "well he SHOULD have been thinking along the lines of xyz, because that's obviously logical."  a successful player gets into the mind of their opponents, and makes them fulfill their own prophesy.



next, what characterizes most basic stories is narrative structure.


a good poker player is always aware of what he does.  that sounds a lot simpler than it actually is.  but take into account a simple action such as just looking at your cards.  if you do it before the people on your right have to act, there's a possibility that you may give away information that alerts the people on your right to whether or not you have an interest in the hand.  but if you do it right when you have to act, the attention is on you, where people may be able to pick up something while you do look at your cards.  in this case, the optimal thing to do is to simply look at your hand, but have a consistent thing you do afterwards so that your opponents don't know whether you're going to play or not.

naturally then, everything a player does becomes consistent with some sort of plot line.  a good player realizes the plot that he is trying to tell and has already prepared a gameplan for the different outcomes of the story, and what different punchlines he can deliver.  he does not try to deviate from that plot line, or his story will fall apart.

there was a hand i played at a casino a long time ago, playing 2/5 no limit hold em.  i had picked up 55 in the big blind.  an early position raiser opened the action to 25 and three other people called, so i came along for the ride and called.  the flop was 864, with no two suits.  the flop was checked all the way around (everyone checked).  the turn came another 4 bringing a flush draw.  i checked as did the original raiser, but then the third player fired 100.  two folds came to me, and i called, and the original raiser folded.  the river came an offsuit K.  i checked, and the player bet 200, and i immediately called.  he turned over a busted ace high flush draw for ace high, and became angry that i had called his big bet with such a weak hand.  he wondered how i could have called there, as there was so much on the board that beat me?

what he forgot to realize is that merely firing big bets into a pot does not make your hand believably strong.  it must be consistent with how a strong hand would normally be played.  if he had some sort of set on the flop, he most certainly would not have checked it.  he probably would not even check a hand like top pair because he was later to act with a decent hand, to protect his hand from getting drawn out on.  on the turn, because a 2nd flush card came, it added a lot of possibility to hands precisely like the one he held, a semi-bluff.  on the river, even if he had a hand like a pair flush draw on the turn (like 7c6c, for example), he would not bet it on the river, because he can not be totally confident that his pair of sixes is the best hand (beaten by an 8, or overpair, or a K).  so when he bets the river, he is representing a strong hand, but it is not consistent with the fact that he had originally checked the flop.  he could have backdoored into a hand like A4 suited, but the more likely scenario was that he had a missed flush draw (there are more combinations).

now this assessment of his story had to do with my assessment of him as a player to begin with.  he could have totally been leveling me and made some sort of tricky slowplay or thin value bet (a big bet with not so strong of a hand but confidently getting calls from even weaker hands), but like a well versed storyteller, i had "read plenty of his stories" in the past, and could conclude what kind of plot line he was capable of delivering.





most classic stories have a strong focus on temporality (which includes retention of the past, attention to present action, and protention/future anticipation).


when most professionals break down a hand, or recount a hand to others, they go into history.  what they mean is any history that existed prior to the hand, during that session, during any other session where the players involved in the hand were playing with each other, and then during the actual hand itself.  any detail is usually helpful, what their opponent said, what they themselves said, what both of their actions were, how they acted during each action, how they reacted, how quickly they acted and the sequence in which their actions were made are all taken into account.

most newbs fail to recount even the most basic of details, such as what position they were in the hand, or the bet sizes, or even who the player was.  they are most inwardly focused on the details that do not matter.  the reason that they don't have good "poker faces" is not because they are so concentrated on what they have they don't focus at all on what their opponents have, and play in a predictable manner.  as it were, they give away the story's climax before it begins, they do not properly lay out the structure before they start, and so a proper audience knows exactly what they're representing.

the forms of poker that have multiple rounds of betting allow for a player to unfold the story of his hand in many different ways.  each street (round) becomes a chance for him to make a different kind of move, thereby allowing for creativity.  this idea is illustrated best of the concept of range identification.  in poker, good players don't actually put a player on one specific hand and go with that unless something changes to make them guess at a different hand.  instead, they put player on a "range" of several possible holdings, narrowing it down street by street by process of elimination, as more information becomes available.  the skilled player not only makes an action for the current street of the hand, but thinks about how that action will affect future actions and future interpretations of his past actions, laying the groundwork for a complete beginning, middle and end.



finally, a good story allows for many different interpretations and viewpoints.



although playing solid fundamental poker is good, there is always a place for some sort of unpredictability, especially if it can surprise an opponent or exploit an opponent's major weakness.  although no story is truly original and has basic rules to make it work, at the same time, most good stories have some sort of unique twist that make them interesting.  in the same way, it's always good to stick by a certain playbook when in doubt, but from time to time, it may be wise to throw a curveball every once in a while.

the trick to do this is to make a surprise come out of something you typically do.  in a tournament i was once in, i started completing the small blind with most of my hands, because the hand was good enough to try to sneak in a flop but not good enough to stand a reraise before the flop.  my big blind partner started picking up on this, and as a response, started being more aggressive when i tried to cheaply see the flop.  as a result, the next time i picked up a strong hand, i limped again.  as predicted, the big blind shoved his stack and i snapped him off, and ended up busting him out of the tournament.  but this play required me to show my opponent the same move repeatedly until he was convinced that he knew what kind of hand i had each time.  this enabled me to give him a twist for a surprise ending.



i end this post with two full tilt ads featuring gus hansen that are pretty gute, maybe they'll clarify it a bit:




Monday, June 20, 2011

FAQs

as many poker players who have had the experience of talking with "normals" (i guess the poker player equivalent of muggles), i have run into several typical questions about my line of work.  some common questions that any professional would roll their eyes at are:

a) what % of poker is luck and what % is skill?

my answer would be that this is just as easily quantifiable as anything in life, how do you quantify % numbers of skill and luck in any endeavor?  does the fact that part of poker is determined by statistics help define that cause?  would you say that your particular occupation is 100% skill, that the amount of work you put in it is precisely what determines how much success you achieve?  i would almost unequivocally say that this is not the case.  this illusion of self determinism is an incorrect assumption is what most people have about their own lives, which is the fallacy that causes them to ask useless questions like this.

what annoys me when i go on to explain this, is that people still ask, no but if you had to say how much % is skill what would you say.  ignorant people irk me.

b) do you get free rooms or recognition because you're a poker player?

this is a simple question of incentives.  since a hotel/casino doesn't really make that much money from poker players, they don't have that much incentive to keep them around.  in fact, poker rooms mostly exist to entice players to come, and then gamble/spend their money at that particular casino (since sometimes even successful poker players will make bad decisions playing in the pit).

so the short simple answer is no, i get no recognition.  unless you're a pretty well known player, or you are a regular at a particular casino, you don't really get any preferential treatment.

another corollary question is if i get a free entry to the WSOP every year.  again, simple mathematics would probably answer this question.  considering that there is probably close to 300 people who have made the final table at the world series from inception, (and around 9 more every year), does it make sense for a casino to dump 3 million+ in a prize pool they are making maybe 6 million from?  probably not.

c) isn't it all math?  isn't it like that movie 21?  do you get taken to a back room if you win too much?

21 was about a team of MIT students who counted cards playing blackjack.  the game of blackjack is played against the casino, and in theory, played over the long run with a counting strategy, a gambler should be able to win, because they will be statistically favored over an infinite number of trials.

poker however, is a game that is played against other opponents that have no affiliation with the casino.  therefore, no, you won't be taken to a back room if you win (though sometimes you want to make sure you're not being followed to the parking lot in seedier casinos/cardrooms).  and because human decisions are involved, it becomes a math problem, yes, but it becomes more complex as strategy becomes described moreso by a game theoretical structure than a purely mathematical formula.


my next entry will go into how that develops, and why i relate good poker playing to story telling.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

cut, or you will be cut.

so much of poker has drawn a lot of attention from people in recent history:

a) the glamour of being a professional gambler, which has been grossly heightened partly due to poker players self aggrandizement and natural narcissism (one needs to really believe in one's ability and judgment to really excel at poker), and also probably because of recent media portraying gambling in a "cool" light (ocean's eleven, 21, rounders, etc.), but also because of the recent allowance for a wide multitude of players to make a very profitable living off of it.

b) for the players, some of it has been the intellectual side, relating it to merely as a game that is played where money are points to keep score, where complicated bayseian game theory also meets an element of heightened awareness of human psychology (games where money is at risk tend to bring out heightened emotion).

c) our culture has been reevaluating the acceptability of gambling as a normal way of life, by examining the definition of poker as a game of skill or chance, what part the government has in allowing or disallowing it, and ethical debates of the impact of poker on our society.



as i have understood last year, however, there's one aspect of poker that has become more apparent to me.  with winners, there are losers.  this much is painfully obvious, but that doesn't tell the whole story.  in order to be successful at the game, you have to be willing to constantly be on the attack.  it might be silly, but you almost have to think of it as a war, in a warrior like mentality.  your table mates, are your adversaries.  and as hard as it may be you must not harbor good or bad feelings towards them, as both will cloud your judgment.

last september, i played in the WPT at the borgata, where i finished 19th.  there was a bit of luck sure, but i think also what was different than from how i had been playing a lot recently was the way i approached each hand.  i had been playing with a more robotic mentality when i was playing, and things became just textbook and predictable.  i switched from thinking, "i'm merely betting, folding, raising, calling,"  to thinking, "i am cutting into their stack," visualizing my chips as more of a cutting tool.  every bet became a thrust, every fold became a side step, every call became a parry.  all necessary moves to gain victory, but all moves that needed to be played at the right time.  however, if you're too friendly with your opponents, you may not be as willing to cut them when the time comes.  if you're filled with too much enmity towards them, you may become distracted and walk into a trap by another opponent.

there was one hand where i lost focus, and i thought of saving my chips as a measure of safety, when the move was to be aggressive and shove it all in.  i was distracted not by my opponent, but by my not accepting that i was in a battle to begin with, and that i was trying to escape it instead of face it.  it was because i let my emotion dictate my actions that i didn't win where i should have, where it was better to err on the side of...not caution.  it could've made the difference between a late finish and a final table.

5 years ago, when i played in the main event for the first time, i went in with the mentality that i wouldn't play scared and i would play the best i could no matter what and even if the best play seemed risky, because in the grand scheme of things, the $10,000 didn't mean much if i had to live regretting making a poor decision that would cost me what i thought would be my only shot at the WSOP main event.  i think i've lost that mentality after a few years, and hope to regain it next month, when i will probably play the main event for the last time...in a while, at least.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

vindication

for something we all already knew, but californians too stubborn to admit:

shake shack wins taste test

for further reading, my old entry

here.

for good

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood

Who can say if I've been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better


unwilling suicide.

it's ripping apart a part of myself.

i give up the right to argue.  i give up the right to make a statement.

and i eat it, become the fool, as i have done many times before.  looking like the one who's lost all sanity, a grasp of relative perspective and clarity in reality.  maybe i have.  maybe i'm crazy.  i wouldn't like myself very much if i weren't, though.

so much seems demanded of me.  maybe it isn't so much.  maybe it seems so much because my capacity to give is so small.  maybe that speaks to my overall generosity.  that my emotional ability determines my view of how much i can afford.

perhaps it is a good thing, that the thing i feeling in me dying everyday, is in fact a cancerous growth that needs to eventually die.  the loose ends that remained unresolved will just become like withering flowers, slowly decaying into nothingness, like accepting a bad ending to a movie.  a continual process of "dying to one's self."



i do this all, because one day, i hope to be able to shed my cynicism.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

annoyed.

i recently had a conversation with someone who has been a friend of mine for a while which kind of upset me to some degree.  there was an aspect of my life that was something i would not attribute to my own efforts but rather out of circumstance that was interesting to him, and although it was fine to open with a question about it, it seemed to consume his whole interest in talking to me.  during the convo (it was an online chat), i even wrote like at least 20 lines of text commenting on this whole other subject, and instead of even acknowledging that i said anything, proceeded to just ask more questions on what he wanted to know.

it's just disappointing when you believe that your friendship is deeper than just caring about surface level things that don't really matter, and it becomes apparent that the guy just cares about fulfilling his own agenda, as if you're kind of just there to be a source of entertainment or whatever.

maybe i'm cynical, but i keep coming across more and more people where it's not just that they aren't at that level of intimacy, it's that they really just see other people as a means to an end.  these kinds of people also the type to really just seek after meaningless things.  

and i'm annoyed because they keep wasting my time.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

examination.

perhaps the unexamined life is not worth living, but examining does make living more taxing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

life view.

nate: sometimes i wish i could be this complete selfish asshole that didn't give a shit about anything and just work at some mindless job that paid me a fuckload of money.  it'd make life a lot easier.

brenda: you don't want life to be easy.

- six feet under

poignant.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Good Friday.

for good friday, i mashed up two songs from jars of clay and sufjan stevens, "liquid" and "to be alone with you"

i liked mashing up the songs because after listening to "liquid", what IS the one thing that i know?  i decided to answer that question using "to be alone with you" to describe it more fully.

yes i know the quartet part in the beginning looks a bit too fake...i don't really know what happened with the lighting inconsistencies...i'm kind of newb with that stuff.





here are the lyrics that i used:

arms nailed down
are you telling me something
eyes turned out
are you looking for someone

this is the one thing
the one thing that i know

you gave your body to the lonely
they took your clothes
you gave up a wife and a family
you gave your ghost

blood stained brow
were you broken for nothing
arms nailed down
he didn't die for nothing

to be alone with me
you went up on a tree
i never knew the man who loved me



hope you guys like it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

oldies but goodies

been thinking a lot through the book of romans recently, and just was listening through jars of clay's original album (90's and past theme of the month, etc.)

the lyrics in their debut album are just crazy awesome.

"sinking" has been describing a lot of my struggles recently.

an excerpt:

deny myself
deny my heart
deny Your hand
deny Your help
but You offer me
eternity
but why should i buy that?

see that i can play a pretty convincing role
so i don't need You
i don't think i need You

but You see through my forever lies, that You are not believing.
and i see in Your forever eyes, that You are forever healing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

reminiscing the 90's

when everything feels like the movies
yeah you'd bleed just to know you're alive.

- ggd

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

i am.

typical.  look at how cliche i am:



i look shorter because of the bean's curvature distortion.



it looks like a frozen bit of mercury.

things about chicago that were meh:

- food (had everything i think that was chicago-an, and was thoroughly unimpressed)
- public transportation

things about chicago that was somewhat legit:

- architecture (if i had more time that'd be what i'd walk around looking at)
- weather (for summers, i can imagine it being a tolerable city to be in during that time)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

rewrite.

this script is wrong right?

this can't have been where the map said to be.

hum.

back it up...two years, i think i was supposed to take a left when i took a right.





yeah.  it was definitely a left.







backtracking that far is gonna suck.

Friday, April 8, 2011

call me emo.

but listening to this amidst a crazy moment tonight made me tear up again:

http://owlcityblog.com/2010/10/25/my-hope-is-found/

Sunday, April 3, 2011

stumble til you crawl.

so tell me what do I need
when words lose their meaning?

i was spinning free, whoa.
with a little sweet and simple numbing me.

the sweetness will not be concerned with me.

-jimmy eat world

Thursday, March 31, 2011

when i was younger (part 3: embarrassment)

when i first started taking violin lessons, they were at a music school in a neighboring town where i lived.  lessons would be around 45 minutes long, and they would just be one on one.  i can't remember how i even got started playing that instrument, i can't recall uttering a "hey, i would really like to learn this violin thing" when i was 6 years old.  i do remember the first exercises not even being about playing the instrument, but making circles with the bow in your hand to get used to the grip.

a few months into lessons, they had this thing called group lessons, where kids would play pieces and other assorted music together.  i suppose that was kind of like an introduction to playing in something like an orchestra.

i remember my first group lesson, i had no clue what to expect.  i was a total newb, and while it was my first lesson, the other kids seemed to have gone to them before.  my mom dropped me off with a roll of life savers in my pocket and my violin.

the kids had all perfected a piece that they all played together in unison.  i had no idea what was going on, and the teacher either didn't notice that i wasn't playing, or didn't care.  either way, i felt like a complete idiot because there were only like 3 other kids in the group and i was pretty sure i was sticking out like a sore thumb.  i didn't really know what to do.  i had to do something instead of just standing blankly there...so i started just eating the life savers.  just eating them one by one, to try to keep myself busy, as the painfully long lesson dragged on, and until it was all over.  it was a prolonged episode of embarrassment, and it was a situation where i wasn't completely sure if people were aware that i had no idea what the fuck was going on, so i didn't want to like leave where i'd definitely draw attention to myself.  i was mad at my mom for putting me into this situation, i felt like micky ward in the fighter, putting me into a fight i could not win to get my ass kicked.

eventually, i played better than most of the kids there probably because i was determined not to look like such a fool again.  but i hated that that was my motivating factor in playing, to be able to perform, instead of doing it for the love of the music.

i hate fucking being embarrassed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

when i was younger (part 2: books)

my talent for mathematics wasn't that surprising to me.  i could trace back to when i was probably like 5, when my dad gave my sister and me books on math to solve.  the reason why i probably did them with such fervor was that i was so sheltered at the time (or probably that my parents were too poor to afford anything of fun at that age) that doing math was the only kind of fun i had.  in fact, i didn't think it was to any great intelligence of mine (i used to have this theory when i was younger that people who weren't MR had the same basic potential for intelligence), but from just constant repetition and practice.

however, being the parents that my parents were (re: raising harvardian children), my mom was concerned that i wasn't becoming a "well balanced" asian kid, and that i needed some skills in the english department.  her solution, was books.  lots of books.

i'd always love when i was in grade school when they would bring around those book ordering forms for scholastic, where i'd fill out what i wanted myself (only to have mom knock off a few extraneous items, but she did let me get the occasional calvin and hobbes comic).  my mom would also drive me to the library every week to pick out books to read.  i can't remember exactly what i got every week, i'm sure they included classic kid books like "the westing game" or "a wrinkle in time", or mystery series like "encyclopedia brown" and every roald dahl book i could find my hands on.  when i read a book, i carry it with me wherever i go, couch, dinner table, bathroom, etc.  the hardest part was reading on the bed in a comfortable position when i had glasses on (reading on the side required holding the book closer to my face because you can't wear glasses with the head to the side, and reading with the head laid down required me to raise my head some way or use arm strength to hold the book up, and reading with your face downwards required your arms to prop you up, which wouldn't do for hours).  i used to be able to read for an entire day (i think i finished harry potter 4 in one sitting).

reading books became another sort of accomplishment thing, kind of like finishing them was a goal.  i read through the old testament when i was 9 once just to do it (retaining like 1% of what i read).  i think i tried to read through a mini encyclopedia once, but concluded that it was not nearly interesting enough to do that.  i would just want to finish everything.

we would probably spend an hour or so in the library, with me just going through my favorite sections, looking for new additions and what not, probably wasting some time in the magazine section looking at video game mags etc.  i remember that library pretty clearly, the different sections, the walls where they had a little artistic mural where kids would put up some sort of sticky thing for every book they read for some sort of prize (does anyone ever remember that read a book promotion thing by pizza hut like way back when?), and the card catalog section.  i remember looking through the card catalog thing (so archaic now probably), and thinking to myself,

"there are too many books to read.  i will never be able to read them all before i die!"

i probably then calculated all the books that would probably actually be of interest to me, narrow it down, but still conclude that there would not be enough time to do it all.  it all became very sad, but then i would just reflect on how many lives that have actually existed on earth, and how the people populating it would still just write books too fast for me to consume.  it all became very overwhelming, but eventually, i think it clicked that i would eventually just have to carve out a niche of books for myself to enjoy, and that would be that.

soon after, when i started going to high school, i lost that need to burn through books.  i wonder if the fact that i would never finish them all deterred me from that thirst.  i wonder if that applies in other things in my life now as well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

when i was younger (part 1: routine)

i had a routine growing up and going to school.  i would get up probably precisely 15 minutes before i needed to leave the house.

the first 5 minutes were spent getting out of bed and changing into clothes.  i coined the term "warm change", when i would stay underneath the covers and change because it was still warm inside the bed.  (asian parents tend to keep the temperature a bit chilly during the winter)

the next 5 minutes were eating breakfast, which was a bowl of cereal.  cereal would be what i called 2nd tier tasty, which would be the kind that were uncolorful, but still had enough sugar to be palatable.  sometimes my mom would mix frosted flakes with corn flakes in order to make it healthier.  she knew i would never take reg corn flakes or reg cheerios (without honey) straight up, so sometimes she mixed in sugar or bananas in them.  but it'd always be cereal on a school day, i don't believe it was ever different for 12 years.

the last 5 minutes were washing up, brushing teeth etc.  this was critical at this juncture, because the bathroom was upstairs, where i had a vantage point to see if the bus was coming.

until high school, i took the bus to school every morning when i was a kid, and i was always the last stop on the bus.  i didn't actually really mind (unless i was going to miss a darkwing duck or a batman the animated series episode), because it left me a lot of time to think on the bus.  i'd always try to get a window seat, and stare out as we rode, calculating how much time there was left before we got to the dreaded place.

i do remember distinctly thinking about the future often.  i would think to myself,

"so, i'm 12 years old, that means i've probably lived around 1/6-1/7th of my life already.  man those 12 years went by quick, huh.  i wonder if the next 12 years are going to be that fast.  i'm only going to have 5-6 more 12 year shots, if that.  and, i'm spending most of it at school.  then work.  yay."



though i wasn't suicidal, i wasn't exactly the most optimistic person on life, either.  i went through routine, because i didn't know anything else in life, because i thought this was the way life was going to go on, and i should just accept it.  i did have a thirst for meaning beyond what was presented to me, but i think i resigned to "figuring it out" later in life when i thought i would be better equipped to do so.  so i went on day after day, going through that routine, in hopes of finally coming to some sort of epiphany.



that epiphany never arrived.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

stories.

i have a lot of ideas for stories.

some of them are taken from my past, other people's pasts, a mix of inspiration here and there from books, movies, and other media.

unfortunately, many of these ideas are unformed, or i guess to put it more clearly, they are episodic in nature.  they don't have a clear direction in terms of an overarching theme, and as such, they don't all fit together in a nice and neat way.

not that life in general is nice and neat, or that good stories have to have endings that make sense in the end, but i've come to realize that more and more endings are so critical to a good story.  a lot of times nowadays, it seems like a writer just runs out of gas towards the end, throws some ex post facto hocus pocus and boom, story ends.

it's easy to come up with ideas that are charged with a lot of emotion, but drawing purpose and meaning out of them is an entirely more difficult proposition.  all the blueprints in my head that i have seem to be just an amalgam of happenstances, making them work together will take a lot of thought.

Friday, March 18, 2011

patience.

if i can see the light at the end of the tunnel, if i can see the goal that i'm striving for, if i can see its eventual fruition, i can be as patient as a rock.

but if i can't make sense of it at all, my emotions start to get the better of me.  my lack of patience slowly starts to stir a quiet brewing storm.



and then i go to sleep where i'm haunted by vivid dreams.

fox searchlight, gets me every time.

anyone want to watch?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

another post about duke.

a recent documentary came out on the fab five, a group of five players all in the same class at the university of michigan during the 1991-1992 and 1992-1993 ncaa basketball seasons.  an interesting story, but perhaps with a bit of revisionist history and shot taking by jalen rose, one of the fab five, who conveniently was the executive producer of said documentary.  one of the comments he made was that coach k recruits a certain kind of player, and blacks he recruited were seen as "uncle toms".  he qualified his statement by saying that those were his thoughts as a teenage kid, but nonetheless, the bitterness and the insistence that he still recruits certain blacks highlighted a bitterness and resentment he had against duke players.

i suppose this image of duke being elitist and the fab five being the "people's players" definitely fostered an "us vs. them" mentality over the years, and have painted duke as a program that has players an fans from the bourgeois. remnants of this image are probably what have created more and more duke hate over the years.

i get it.  people hate duke because their players come off as arrogant pricks who aren't that great.  their students seem like the privileged spoiled winklevi twins in the social network movie.  they get way too much media coverage.  they get all the calls.  the cameron crazies are annoying.  i partially examined why last year in this post.

one championship later, we're still the most hated college basketball team in the country.

some of the reasons are true.  some of them are half true.  some of them are false.  some of the reasons are just whiny.

but this isn't really going to be about appeasing the haters for whatever reason they hate duke, for that is beating a dead horse to oblivion.  people are going to hate who they want to hate, for whatever reason they want to, and that's their privilege as a sports fan.  i'm done trying to change minds.

and so, all i can say really is my response to that hate.  this post made last year by a duke/yankees blogger sums up what i think, that at some point, there's no real arguments to be made.  

we are going to remember joe alexander screaming in our faces, and joe mazzulla slapping the floor mocking us in victory.  then we're going to torch them by 21 in the final four two years later.

we're going to remember all the hate that was poured on us, which will rile up even more pride in our dukies.  we love when you hate us.  cause haters gon hate.

i was somewhat disappointed this year when kyrie irving went down this year.  because with him, we truly had a shot at being an undefeated team, the first in 35 years.  it might be spoiled to want an undefeated season.  but i wanted duke to make a statement to silence the haters, when we announced, we're back, we're going to win, and there's nothing you can do about it.

but i'll have to settle for his return this weekend for the start of march madness.  it's almost scarier this way for other opponents, to have a mystery factor behind their opponent, a secret weapon they've been stashing all this time only to unleash at the final moment. an ace in the hole, if you will.  it'd be awesome to watch him just dominate and watch him play his way to the #1 pick of this year's NBA draft.  sweet justice, indeed.

i must admit, anything but another championship would be a disappointment.  i can count on hundreds of messages, emails, wall posts and taunts if duke loses.



maybe i'll surprise you guys, and be gracious when we don't.

profanity.

there are certain words i will definitely stray from using, because of the weight behind what they mean, and because i think that by saying them, i cheapen it, or it's not 100% honest.  that's why whenever i want to really say something, i have a hard time verbalizing it completely the way i want it to be conceptualized, because i'm always making sure i'm saying things as succinctly as possible.

similarly, whenever a situation may call for it, i use some choice words, because i think not doing so wouldn't be honest.  or maybe not the full picture of what i feel.  when you break it down, words are simply sounds that convey some sort of meaning, intrinsically, the way they sound aren't wrong in and of themselves.

i'll be the first person to say that people who use expletives every other sentence come off as either:

a) dumb, because usually their vocabulary will be limited to just these kinds of words and it just becomes repetitive after a while.

b) douchey, because i know of a lot of people who fit the "hey, look at how big and cool i am because i'm using tough language" type.

c) lazy, because they don't really take the time to think about what they're saying, and assume an f-bomb here and there will spice up their speech somehow.



i hate when people say things like "fudge", or "shiet" or "biatch"  it's just like muted truth to me.  it's as if they were saying, "oh, i didn't cross the line that you did, so that makes me all legit and holy and stuff."  it's kind of like when hot chicks get comments like "you're so pretty" on their facebook photos and they're all like "oh no! you are!", giving the whole false humility thing when it's probably obvious they're aware of their own hotness.  

now, i won't say that cursing is always acceptable, because yes, many of those words represent ideas and thoughts that are unwholesome and not uplifting.  sometimes they are disrespectful to that which is holy, or insulting to other people.  i'll be the first to admit, my usage of words sometimes fits in these categories and i have to catch myself sometimes when doing so.


but sometimes, there's no other way to express what you mean without a clean "what the FUCK".  anything else would make me question one's humanity, if they actually felt anything or lived their lives like drones.  a long while ago, something angered me completely, and as i talked to a divinity school graduate about it, he just told me to let it all out.  i felt like he understood at the core of it all, there's no use in pretending that what's in your heart isn't going to show up on the surface one way or another.

another time, i was with some people, when someone was fooling around with a gun, and the other person said to him, after pleading several times, "come on man, i'm not fucking around."  i had never heard this person say anything like that.  instantly, the point was taken, and the guy stopped what he was doing.

i suppose therein lies a possible solution, making sure to really economize one's usage of such words, so that when it is finally brought out in the open, it can highlight and make known that something serious is going down.


there were other things i wanted to mention i think but i've run out of thoughts due to the lateness, so you'll have to deal with my incomplete ramblings.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

futility.

recently, as written in blog entries previously, i've wondered about the choices i've made and if they were the "right" or "wrong" ones.  although agonizing over each one won't resolve any of them in the end and serves as a somewhat pointless intellectual exercise, as i've said before, it may be somewhat beneficial for the future to prevent myself from making the wrong choices.

but something has been bothering me now, thinking over it again.  something that's driving me crazy.

what i can't seem to accept is that whenever i run every scenario in my super duper complex alternate universe scenario simulator (that takes place in my brain, that is), every choice i make would be the wrong one.  that the concept of choice making is indeed futile.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

regret.

a lot of development and growth seems to fulfill the old adage, "two steps forward, one step back."  sometimes there's just so many angles and ways to look at things you become confused when you have it all laid out on the table.  and so many times, it seems like that one angle brings you back to the place where you thought you'd already gotten past, something that you've already gotten over, something that you've solved.

in the adjustment bureau (which btw, was not a very good movie) one quote stuck out to me.  matt damon's character says, "all i have are the choices i make."  are we defined by our choices?  given our circumstances, the things that are out of our control, i suppose that it is in some senses, a true statement.  we can't control our economic environment, our race, our heritage, our gender, and a plethora of other characteristics, but our choices are ultimately what we can take a step back and say, "hey this is who we are, this is what defines us."  

now, sometimes i get more deterministic and say, wait a minute, no this is what was meant to be, and i chose this because that was the way the chemical composition of my body was going to react towards the given circumstance no matter what, like given the same exact molecular mixture of gak and the same copy of the universe, the situations would play out exactly as they have, and that really, i have nothing to claim in terms of failures or successes, because ultimately, my choices are out of the realm of my actual control as well.

but, my gnawing feeling of regret still claws at my very being, saying that we own these choices.  that i am in fact to blame for the failures that i have accumulated over the years.  that i have my own stupidity to blame for the situations i get into.

whenever i make a decision, i'd like to think i weigh all my past experiences and other knowledge and insight and wisdom i've gathered into them.  so when the decision seems to be the wrong one, i always obsess over why that was, and to seek the answer to why.  but the answer isn't always there, unfortunately, and i just feel like i'm stuck trying to solve a 1000 piece puzzle with some of the critical parts missing.  i feel like without it solved, it'll remain unresolved in my head, or worse, i'll end up repeating the same mistake again sometime down the road, because i won't have recognized the same situation fully before it happens.  i fear that i won't have learned something from my mistakes, that going through them was in vain...that without those missing pieces, i have no reason to not wish for a reset button under a changed circumstance.

but maybe such a search for a meaning or resolution to preclude those experiences from being in vain, are fatally, in vain as well.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

disenchantment

"Yes, you have killed my love. You used to stir my imagination. Now you don't even stir my curiosity. You simply produce no effect. I loved you because you were wonderful, because you had genius and intellect, because you realized the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art. You have thrown it all away. You are shallow and stupid. My God! how mad I was to love you! What a fool I have been! You are nothing to me now. I will never see you again. I will never think of you. I will never mention your name. You don't know what you were to me, once. Why, once . . . . Oh, I can't bear to think of it! I wish I had never laid eyes upon you! You have spoiled the romance of my life. How little you can know of love, if you say it mars your art! What are you without your art? Nothing. I would have made you famous, splendid, magnificent. The world would have worshipped you, and you would have belonged to me. What are you now? A third-rate actress with a pretty face."

- Dorian Gray

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

communication arts

when i was younger, countless thoughts i would have would be jumbled up in my brain.  when a subject enters the realm of my thoughts, every possible angle to which they can be analyzed is thoroughly and obsessively processed.  it's not until i get them down all pat and organized that i can make any sense of them.  the facility of putting them all down into words though wasn't always available to me, and even through my sophomoric attempts at any sort of meaningful writing have probably been a bunch of fail (like in this blog), my writing was that much worse when i was a little lad.

throughout the later years of high school and college, the things i wrote down would start to form with a cohesion that could possibly maintain the attention of intelligent beings.  this was borne out of a need, a desperate desire to an audience that sprung from a singular event.

ironically, however, my writing was not improved by putting words down on a paper, but from actually speaking, talking, hearing myself out loud, responding to what other people said, recollecting their reactions from things i would say, and just generally thinking on the fly of various combinations of things i could say to elicit a certain type of response.  there was extensive self training and forming various new habits where i'm quite certain my brain was starting to wrap the myelin or whatever it is around the synapses necessary to just be more improvisational and quick on my feet.

music was another way for me to really delve into this realm of transferring ideas.  the movement of words in combination with tones just awoke an infectious need for me to relate anything i come across into a song (i often just sing a line from a particular song like an annoying song quotable jukebox when the proper situation arises).  after a musical phase in high school, it was in college when i watched moulin rouge for the first time, awakening a somewhat latent desire to be in some sort of musical theater (although i don't think i'm ever going to be cut out for broadway), and in turn my love for the dramatic and acting.

i feel that my quest for self expression is not nearly complete.  and i have myself to blame for that, i have taken shortcuts and have been lazy in that regard, not fully living up to the potential i have been given.  sometimes it's difficult however, when caught up in bouts of despair to wonder if what you have to say really even matters at all, if it's at all different than whatever has been said, and even if it matters and hasn't been said, if it will have an impact or meaning on the things i cherish and value.  it is this intangible outcome that debilitates and paralyzes me to the point where i cannot truly feel free in expression and backslide into mediocrity.

i do not know how to stay sharp and motivated anymore.  i need a purpose, a reason, a desire, an impetus.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

rhetoric

i am too easily influenced by the rhetoric of others.

but i would like to surmise that it may be preferable to being too easily influenced by the rhetoric of one's own heart.

out of body

corroborating evidence.

that's all i can see when my world view is formed.  early in my adolescence, probably in the middle of an earth science class in 8th grade, i formed a philosophy on life that was bleak, depressing and probably somewhat analogous to the Big Freeze theory of the end of the universe.  i probably could've wrote part one of the Leviathan as a 12 year old.  the idea ingrained in my mind was that things in the world are in constant decay, and that there's nothing essentially we can do to stop it, no matter how long we try to hold on to any sense of permanence.  every experience i've had since then i probably took in with a bit of confirmation bias, to validate that philosophy.

although there might be evidence to the contrary, they have not been personal experiences.  secondhand truth is not something that has ever been palatable to me, there's something to be said for going out there and making foolish foolery out of oneself and growing from it.  now this doesn't mean i'm about to go around and do dumb things i'm going to regret, but at the same time, finding out about life in a book, poem, movie, doesn't cut it.



i was having a conversation with someone about good things in life, and how sometimes it was easier to not believe in them because it's harder to face the reality that maybe they do exist, but they were just not meant for you.  it'd be easier to believe in a reality where no one really attained those things in the end, and futility just awaited every endeavor we embark on.  having continual hope has become a hopeless goal, hope is a hard thing to maintain.



so now it's ironic, that something that i heard about for someone else happened recently (something kind of trivial and stupid, but awesome nonetheless), that convinced me of the possibility that the future holds.  it's curious too, because another event that happened soon after tempered that notion of optimism with a reserved cautiousness.  it's almost perfect how the two events worked together in unison to show me how i think i need to view things, and that my usual method of going in guns ablazing, shooting first and asking questions later might not always be the best method.  it showed me that sometimes a step back needs to be taken to consider possible consequences, but at the same time, that the leap of faith can still be worth it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

love is in the air

last year, i wrote about my on and off relationship.  you can find out about it here:

heartbreak

little did i know what was in store.  she finally came around.  our one year anniversary is going to be in a couple months, on april 5th.  this was the day i had been waiting for my entire life.  we tied the knot.  we had our honeymoon.  streaming confetti, fireworks, parades, celebrations, songs, speeches, all were given in much fanfare to celebrate the occasion.  although i heard of this kind of love happening in the past to others, in 1991, 1992, and 2001, i didn't know if it'd happen again in my lifetime, much less to me.

the past year has been remarkable, full of happiness and promise.  we were unashamedly, unabashedly in love.  even my fashion took a trend towards demarcating the occasion, as many a paraphernalia was purchased in happiness.  sure, my affections were found nauseating by others, even more so than in previous years, but hey, what good is a good event if you can't gloat to the haters who wished unhappiness upon us?

i mean i know there are supposed to be good times and bad times with any relationship, but so far, it has been smooth sailing.  well, i guess there was last week on wednesday, when we got in a huge fight about her idiot sister caroline, but within 20 minutes or so, we resolved it.  and more than made up, if you know what i mean.

so...there's been a bump here and there, with the occasional toe problem, but surely that will all be resolved in a month or so.  or so i hope.  it's alright though, i'll love her no matter what happens.  for better or worse, or so they say, right?

this coming month, our one year anniversary is coming up.  the view from up top is looking excellent so far.  here's to a continued blessed relationship, and eternal passion, no matter what the circumstance.

well, i guess i don't want to have another 9 year stretch like last time though...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

weary.

sometimes, you just get tired of looking for the truth.  not because you don't care about it anymore, or that you can't "handle it", but after failing to scratch its surface for so long, you wonder if finding it is worth its cost.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

maybe

i'm not as complicated as i like to make myself out to be.

i don't have time.

i know i know, another priscilla entry and nary a month passed by, but who knew she was going to give a clandestine performance in new york for me to quickly ninja?

went to rockwood music hall today after seeing priscilla ahn tweet that she was going to be playing there for free, and got the opportunity to hear a set of songs from her upcoming album "when you grow up"

some titles are based on my best guess, may not be the actual ones:

Lost Cause, sorry about the early camera work.
Elf , be sure to check out 1:47
I Want You Right Now, some gute electronica action
You Were the One, piercing and emo, but with a lol moment at 0:34.  my second fave.
Ooh La La, cute song about happenstances

and of course:
Dream, gets me everytime.




her newest set had a lot of love themed songs (which was surprising since her first album was more about identity seeking, but i guess maybe her marriage had something to do with her direction).  here was my favorite song from the set, called "I Don't Have Time to Be in Love".




as i've said probably countless times before, i don't really like love songs in the sense that they're so easy to really just mess up by being overly cheesy or cliche.  i won't say that i won't like songs to just listen to for fun like "baby" by justin bieber, but when i think about them conceptually, i don't get really that much enjoyment out of them.

however what makes a love song work is the intimate and personal nature of it, which you can see coming from the lyrics, although they may not be totally original illustrations, they work because they sound genuinely anecdotal.  the cheap keyboard instrumental actually gives it a cute little quirky twist that adds to the personal element, imo.  it defintely just feels, real.  something that's uncommon nowadays.


lyrics:
i don't have time to be in love
kissing you on the cheek
two hundred times a week

i don't have time to be in love
way too much candlelight
keeping me warm at night

but that's not true
when i'm with you

i don't have time to be in love
watching a foreign film
feet on the windowsill

i don't have time to be in love
cooking a meal for two
climbing all over you

but that's not true
when i'm with you

cause i used to
be there for you when you were so blue
i'd walk with you in the rain
nothing was better when we did it together
but i don't have time for love

i don't have time to be in love
holding to you to my chest
feeling your every breath

i don't have time to be in love
laughing so hard we cried
sometimes i don't know why

i don't have time to be in love
maybe this reverie
just wasn't meant for me

but that's not true
when i'm with you

when i'm with you

Monday, February 7, 2011

destiny.

if you were to ask me how my life would turn out, 6 months, a year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years ago, each response would've been different.  each response shows me the futility of actually trying to figure out what my life would look like.  and even if i don't feel like i've changed, others who have known me throughout have told me that throughout each period of time, i have given off a sense of growth.

like the joker in "the dark knight" says, i used to think i had plans, that i was a schemer.  that i had all these machinations and ideas of how my life was going to go, and the root of all that was comfort.  comfortability with the status quo, with life as it is.  and also like the joker says, nobody panics when things go "according to plan".  even when the plan is horrifying.  it took me a while to realize that they were in fact horrifying.




i asked a friend recently if he had any regrets in his life, and he told me, "i'd like to think that at the end of the day, all my mistakes will amount to something.  will i live with some guilt?  of course, the consequences of my actions will live with me.  but does that mean that they served no purpose?  i don't believe so."

and little by little, i realize that if you were to chart out every step of my life, you could see that things had a purpose.  it's crazy but this is one of the things that i cling to when i try to revive the miniscule shred of faith that i still have.  this is the evidence i try to keep in mind when i try to submit and give up control of any plan or idea of where my life should be going to God.




my birthday has always been a sensitive time for me.  strange momentous, lesson learning things happen on my birthdays.  a long time ago in my teenage youth, the beginning of my many escapades of emotional turmoil, i had been romanticizing this vision of being in love with a girl.  as someone who has been told that "you're the kind of person that likes to blow things up in your mind", it was easy for me to become enchanted with it all.

i remember watching a movie on my birthday with some friends and remembering seeing this guy and girl, who i thought was a couple, right in front of me, and thinking how nice that kind of love looked and thinking about a girl who i was interested in at the time.  at the end of the movie, the "couple" turned around, and the girl happened to be the girl i was interested in, and the guy was her brother.

needless to say i pretty much had a heart attack afterwards, but looking back, i think i was being subtly (or not so subtly) told that a relationship with a significant other isn't the only way we as humans are relational beings, as we sometimes make it out to be.  and that sometimes God will use his sense of humor to not only play sick jokes on me, but to teach me something from his concoctions of crazy circumstance.

it is this ineffable persistence of coincidence that tip me when i'm on the fence that my life does have some sort of purpose, however murky and indeterminate it may be.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

strangers.

"i don't even know who the fuck you are."

no you don't.  i'm the guy trying to save your ass, you idiot, i thought to myself.  i cursed the weather as the night had become surprisingly cold in the past few hours.

how does one get through to a drunk and/or drugged girl, that they had never met only for the first time that night?  the idea of "i want to help you because you cannot help yourself" becomes a lost phrase that cannot be understood.  dealing with a belligerent girl who didn't know where she was, was trying to contact a girl who was in california to pick her up, lived out of town, and you or the person you were with had no real tangible connection with was a problem.


"you realize that you're not all there right now, right?  you just tried to get into a police car."  i had a nice time apologizing profusely to an officer who looked like he was about to pull his 9mm on me and the drunkard, as i pulled her away from the car.

"whatever, who cares?  just get off me!  leave me alone!"

i thought if maybe i was a bit gentler, maybe if i coaxed her in a certain way, maybe if i had more psychological training, i could fool her into being more cooperative.  but sometimes, there is no reasoning with the crazies.  so we spent hours trying to get any sort of useful information out of her, and instead we received nonsense and insults.

finally, relief came in the form of an actual bouncer who helped with getting the authorities involved in getting her to safety.  my friend and i could walk away (and oh did we want to walk away many a times), without the guilt on our conscience of her body being found somewhere in an alley the next morning.

but i couldn't help thinking to myself of that phrase she said to me.  that she didn't know who the fuck i was.  that she didn't understand that i was trying to help her.  that more than, it felt like a loaded statement, that she did not trust anyone to help her but herself.  instead of being angry at her for causing such a disastrous night, i began to pity her for having that kind of outlook on life, that she would find it hard to believe that a random stranger would try to help her when she was in need.

she had the airs of being independent, but i could sense that there was a deeper pain underneath that facade.  and as much as she attacked me, and as much as i wanted to walk away, i couldn't.

but maybe it doesn't matter, because i was just a stranger.  there was nothing really much more i could do.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

courage.

sometimes i wish i had remained the coward that i was in my youth.  things seem like they would have been easier then.  the biases that form once you get cut so deeply by a situation where you expose yourself become so strongly etched in your identity, that it's hard to shake them off the next time you need to try again.

but then i remember that those wounds remind me of how deeply i do feel things, and how i don't ever want to get to the point where i am stoic about life.  i want to keep hungering, and longing, and searching, and not ever give up on life, never quitting, never admitting defeat, never settling.

it is also in those moments that i remember that the memories of my past have been the reason i was able to build up the courage that i have now.



"hope remains, while the company is true." - galadriel, lady of lothlorien



It hurts just to wake up
Whenever you're wearing thin
Alone on the outside
So tired of looking in

The end is uncertain
And I've never been so afraid
But I don't need a telescope
To see that there's hope
And that makes me feel brave

-owl city

Monday, January 31, 2011

lessons.

quotes of teaching to me that i want to remember from the past week (and before):

"the sins that you are aware of probably only scratch the surface of the depth of your depravity.  your legalism probably blinds you from some of it, as much as you think you're thorough."

"it took God to actually physically remove me from this country to understand that i wasn't desiring him and was replacing him with things of this world."

"God's been guiding man since the beginning of time, so he's pro, and that will never change."

"whom God will use deeply, He will hurt deeply."

"no experience is the same, and different things can be learned from each one."

"i know you're an all or nothing kind of guy, but you can't go from 0 to 100 in a day, as much as you want to.  growth is slow."

"thinking outside of yourself in pain and suffering is one of the hardest thing to do."

"your one biggest desire?  to let everyone know you're the coolest motherfucker there is.  and you have to change that."

"in our lives, we fall into depression.  and we fall deeper into despair because we believe that we need to find our own way out.  we tend to believe that we need to walk alone.  Jesus in all his trials, suffering, and hardships took his walk and was fine, because he knew he was never alone."

"He's what i've been searching for in this world for a while, but it just took me 7 years to find.  it's all in the timing and the where you are."

"i'm gonna pray for the holy spirit to slap you in the face.  get ready, the slap is coming."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

risk.

"the only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

- cs lewis

sadness.

i had the fortune of meeting jason min of miss vintage fame a couple years ago.  he recently came out with a song that made my heart stop a beat.  the song is in the perspective of a wife viewing her husband after she has alzheimer's.  this was just so moving to me, and i've been listening to it for a bit.  it's songs like these that help keep things in an eternal perspective.

hope you guys enjoy.


lyrics:


How do you put on my coat every morning
When I don’t know your name
You rake the leaves while I am sleeping
When I don’t know your name

I don’t know who you are but

Please don’t leave me alone here
‘Cause I’m coming undone
Oh, tell me you’ll stay
When I don’t even know your name

I know you try to be quiet
But I heard you weeping for me
You wear a smile, act like it’s nothing
But I know there’s more

You, I don’t know who you are but

There’s a picture
In the middle of the living room table in black and white
The scene looks familiar
but I just don’t remember this man and his wife

So will you play your guitar
And sing me a love song
When I don’t know your name
When I don’t know your name


Friday, January 28, 2011

difference.

i read a book recently called crazy love by francis chan.  normally, i don't really resonate with books like these, books that seem to pick at one's emotions to try to shock them into action.

it wouldn't be so powerful i suppose without knowing the actual lifestyle of the author.  he wants people to step outside of their lives, and to come to terms with the growing satisfaction of the current status quo of the "american christian" lifestyle, to just tread water and be content with pursuing the typical american dream, and living out christian values whenever it's just convenient.

it illuminated to me a few things.  it convinced me that it was not wrong or prideful to try something different than what everyone else was doing, that people's advice of doing what is stable and proper were just self projections of how they think i should be living life.  to them "godly" life is just maintaining stability and not taking risk, while putting on a good image for others as good "christians".  what "taking a risk" is can mean different things for different people obviously, but for me personally, this difference manifests itself occupationally, because i believe that i am being prepared in that way to eventually be positioned to do something great for His kingdom.  what i'm going through and the struggles that i face i don't quite understand at the moment, but i can only pray that i will eventually have my "owen meany moment" and realize what it has all been for.

it also convicted me of my own contentment with how i am living, and how sinfully i carry on through life not caring, not loving.  it reminded me of the lack of love that i have for others, how i long to have that genuinely but how it has not really manifested for probably over 10 years.  how i have to stop seeking out acceptance from others and put myself out there, to love without expecting anything in return.  because that kind of love is conditional.  i have allowed that kind of love to shape who i am, how i think, and how i respond to others, but i realized that that kind of love only will fail in the end, as people (myself included, as much as i pretend to think i'm not) are ultimately fallible.

but it told me that as long i'm genuinely searching for truth and justice, it will all someday fall into place.

i hope you'll check it out.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

it is now

i always come back to the realization of my introversion.  i am probably going to take somewhat of a personal retreat into the recesses of my mind to draw out what's truly within.  at least, i'll use this snowstorm as a backdrop for such processes.

you find out people's true character when the chips are down and the luck seems to run out.  people become desperate, clamoring for any opportunity they can, and showing what they are willing to sacrifice and what they are not.  what is truly dear to their hearts becomes known by what they decide to throw away in return for what they decide to keep.



four years ago, during a talk, someone's words permanently etched themselves into my brain.  i was asked, "what is your biggest fear?"

i thought for a while and said, "it's to look back at my life at age 40, and regret what i had done with my youth."

that person made me promise that i wouldn't do that.

13 years left to do something.  i always keep my promises.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

today

is the first day

of the rest of my life.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

phonecall.

i remember the day.  friday.  thank god it's friday, huh?  i guess.

it was cloudy.  rainy.  coming back to nyc.  images of the lincoln tunnel and the subsequent 30s street exit signs come to mind.

i was in a black car.  a car service that takes you from the airport to the city.  probably expensive, maybe like 150 bucks or so.  it was ok, i didn't have to pay for it.  it was nice tho.  leather seats.  comfy.  rain droplets building up slowly on the windows.  a darkening afternoon.  i'd like to say there was a cool sunset like streak in the sky somewhere, but the truth is it was probably mostly a mundane boring greyish color.

i held my cellphone.  waiting.  wondering.  wondering when the call would come.  gripping it, flipping it open and close a few times, as if that would bring it to life somehow.  as if it would summon that call to come.

it didn't.  i knew it wouldn't.  i knew it wasn't coming.

things were different.

but i had to put on a happy face for the rest of the day.  pretend i was strong.

mask my disappointment.

forget my acknowledgement of transition.  change.

it was over.

this was the beginning of acceptance.

i couldn't wait for the day to be over.