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 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


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


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.


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


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


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.