Astroturf & the Sky

Sleep on AstroTurf in the dead of night with your two best friends
one with the hiccups
one drunk
one laughing her ass off each time the boy hiccups.

Be 27
but also 6 years old

Escape reality because your time together makes the world stop

The stars pepper the sky looking down at you from their vantage point
smiling and shining at your pure joy in each other’s company

A lot of innocence slip away as we enter our late twenties
but when you’re laying uninhibited staring into the night
A piece of your innocence revisits
bringing fondest memories of forgotten friendship and youth.

 

 

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My 5 Year Plan

So imagine grabbing a latte with an old acquaintance. Almost always, this is how the conversation starts out:

What have you been up to?

How is your relationship going?

How’s work?

These common 3 “small-talk” ice breakers are everything I dread about going out to see a friend I haven’t connected with in a few months.

The next question I absolutely resent people for even bringing up is, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

The younger me (okay so last year) would have mouthed off something to my interrogator and stood up on a soap box preaching the futility behind this inquiry. Partially for the below reasons:

  1. There’s science behind those who talk too much about their goals and never achieving it. So it’s better to keep tightlipped until the deed has been done. What’s the awesome term for this? Oh yes, hubris.
  2. Most people use this to evaluate what my priorities are. If I’m on a date for example, and I say I’d like to become director in the next 5 years, the other person would assume I’m too career focused. If I say, marriage, they probably would have bolted for their car on our first date.
  3. A real goal feels too intimate to share with anyone. I rather not have my secret hopes and dreams passed on, then having them tell their cohorts, thus creating our entire social circle focusing on my foreseeable future at tea time.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

So here’s my 5 year plan. The goals I hope to achieve that aren’t wasted on defining who I am by who I will be bound to, or what desk I’ll be chained to, or which professional title to brand me for the new few years. My goals in life transcend beyond the mundane.

Year 1: Fill my brain with beautiful stories – as many books as I can possibly read

Year 2: Master flexibility outside the physical entity of my being

Year 3: Understand the value of success is more than the digits in my bank account

Year 4: Observe and indulge in other cultures. Distance away from the routine provides fresh perspective

Year 5: Persevere through all things that pass through my way and just continue spreading positivity

This is what I want to discover in the next 5 years. Career or love life… they’re just small percentages of our daily life and yet we attribute way too much in both. There’s more to our existence than how we make our fun coupons and who we choose to spend it with.

The heart, the mind, and the soul

Time passes and I’m completely unsure now at this point what I want.

The head convinces me I haven’t matured,

Girls just want to have fun

The heart yearns for a meaningful companionship.

It’s time to open yourself up 

The war between the two is at a standstill however eventually one stronghold should have bent to the other.

But, whom is deemed victorious?

The head proclaims out of silence, “Patience child. The time will come and enlightenment will arrive.”

Then the heart steps forward and pleads, “Dearest one, understand prospects will show but what if he’s been here the whole time? Why not give it a chance? How many prospects will pass by before you realize you’re now bewildered by options that only confound what is actually right?”

Soul eventually breaks the dichotomy.

It says it’s piece and vanishes back in search.

What the fuck are you holding out for?

 

 

8 Silly but Important Things to Always Choose

1. French fries over Fruit. Are you kidding? This is a no brainer. You can’t make crispy golden french fries at home, but fruit? Fruit you can get anywhere. Yes, you’ll feel like a heifer for maybe an hour after you consume all of it but at least in the moment, you enjoyed every freaking second of those delicious oily fattening awesome things. Fruit? Get that shit at the market and eat it at home. When you’re out, indulge yourself.

2. Unsubscribe. I’ve recently purged myself from online shopping after realizing about 70% of the emails I accrue on my personal account were from Forever21, Groupon, Sephora, the like. It feels a bit insipid when now I wake up and I’ve got 18 emails vs. 60+ but at least I’m not wasting precious time deleting meaningless “SALES” and breaking my wallet. Now each morning I focus on positive affirmations from my virtual yogi on YouTube and success stories shared on Gates Notes.

3. Bring a book wherever you go. Apps on our phone are endless as such are puzzle games with infinite levels. (Trust me I work in gaming, I know how many levels there are ready for the player to trek through, and beyond that there will always be another map, another dungeon, another challenge). But the greatest lesson you absorb is those from stories and historical documentation. I’ve learned resilience through Marcus Aurelius and strategy from Sun Tzu, valuable knowledge which otherwise wouldn’t have been taught via mobile games.

4. Chop it off. In 2013, I got bangs that basically ruined my life. Or so I thought. In retrospect, I was young and naive; time felt longer than what it really stood for and I cared way too much how “swoop” my bangs were. The stylist had cut it too short and I swore everyone could see the extra centimeter he took off. 5 years post trauma, I’ve now gotten the shortest haircut I’ve ever underwent and it’s been the best decision of my life. Time will tick as hair will grow. So choose to get that haircut you’ve always wanted to try out. If it sucks, it’ll grow back in 6 months. And if it shines, you’ll love eliminating the fear of going shorter.

5. Keep a notebook & pen. First, always have a pen on you because when you fly, you don’t want to be that person bothering your neighbor for theirs to fill out a customs form. Second, notebook & pen helps jot down your consciousness. I don’t know how many great ideas have gone out to the wild to never return because I failed to remember what they were by the time I got back to my laptop.

6. Daily Notecard Trick. This is courtesy of Tim Ferris. He jots down things that must be accomplished by the end of that day on a notecard and once they’ve all been finished out, he rips up the card. It’s so cathartic to start my day with goals then completing each task and finally being able to toss the card as a part of the exercise.

7. Run on your own damn time. Never wait on anyone not worth waiting on. If you’re just sitting there waiting for the phone to ring or someone to eat with- go enjoy time alone. Cook something healthy and enjoy it with FRIENDS on Netflix. Time is too precious spent waiting on others.

8. Never commit to lukewarm. I don’t know how else to explain passion as an extreme. This an important lesson I learned from mommy dearest. If you’re at a store and you see this red dress but it just makes you feel 50% while you put it on, DO NOT BUY IT. No matter how many accessories pieces you dress it with, it won’t make you feel 100. Buy the dress if it makes you feel like hard 10, otherwise, that garment on the hanger will only sit in your closet collecting moths and dust. This philosophy can be applied to most life decisions. The dress was just a recent example I had whilst shopping with Momma bear.

 

Shanghai was my First Love

September 2017, a major milestone happened to me. I flipped my nationality and placed my right hand over my chest and recited the pledge of allegiance to the United States of America.

This change granted me a new privilege. The US passport now opens the gates to allow my freedom to travel more countries than China could. Yet my dad questioned: Of all places you can now fly to, why are you still going back to Shanghai?

My cliched answer at the time was: because our family is there.

But as I sat in the airport bus back to my mother’s flat in Putuo District in Puxi, Shanghai, I marveled at my city and realized she means so much more to me than just family.

She was my first love.

She is a beauty deeply rooted in Chinese history but far more advanced in technology than one acknowledges. Her magnificence is a blend between contemporary succession and old fashioned heritage. She is a time traveler sharing her past with monumental buildings from European influence with paved streets donning juggernaut monitors displaying new age art.

She was my first love.

She is New York, Los Angeles & Vegas combined.

Shanghai’s skyline dazzles and dizzies as you peer out across the Bund. The Statue of Liberty is pretty. She may be tall & green but we have the Pearl Tower that glistens with dancing lights.

Shanghai’s palette is sophisticatedly crafted. Los Angeles is the heart for foodies with street eats to high end dining, but Shanghai takes international to a whole new level with fine dining at every corner as an art form rather than providing a meal to its patrons.

The Strip owns debauchery, we all know this. Yet Shanghai has her own secrets. Her mysterious speakeasies and classy nightclubs provide an avenue for fun without the overdone fraternity children prancing around acting stupid. Shanghai has an elevated way of drinking and partying. She can have her fun and be regal too.

I can provide an infinite list of things to do and ways to get around. Sure she’s got a few little imperfections but she is my love and I will always come home.

Because not only does she hold my family together, she holds my heart.

 

Start with this Reading List

2 weeks ago I pledged to finish 12 books before the clock struck midnight on 2019. I’ve since finished another book and am well underway with my next few targets.

Okay so this isn’t some soapbox exclamation that my list is the recipe for happiness for everyone but I love to fall down a rabbit hole and explore everything these books have to offer. It’s an escape where I’m screaming YESS YESS YESSSSSSSSS — tell me more and teach me deeply. Knowledge & wisdom from books will always transcend further than mind-numbing telly.

  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    • What makes me happy about it?  Have you ever tasted something so decadent and rich in flavor it felt like swimming in the river of chocolate from Charlie & the Chocolate factory? Doerr’s prose makes you experience it all.
    • Status: I’m currently Day 2 in Shanghai and still plan to have this wrapped before I touchdown back in Cali.
  • Wildcard by Marie Lu (Book slated for Q3 2018 release)
    • What makes me happy about it? Three words: Female power overload
    • Status: About to pre order!! Those of you who haven’t heard of Marie Lu need to 100% make sure you do now. She’s an amazing writer for the YA and I’m seriously honored to have met her last summer. She tweeted to me on my birthday out of a request from a dear friend. She’s just an awesome human being and her stories inspires me to write and perpetuate the female protagonist.
  • Meditation by Marcus Aurelius
    • What makes me happy? Ryan Holiday swears by this, my life has 180’d since I’ve exercised Stoicism, and the excitement itself that I’m about to read the teachings from one of the OG’s simply makes me leap with joy.
    • Status: Book ordered & delivered. I’m so excited to open my package when I get home in July!
  • The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
    • What makes me happy about this? Ferris found the loophole we all need. The key that frees the chain around our ankles. Life has never been about work for me, I just thrive to be in it and yet he found a way to do it with more efficiency.
    • Status: book delivered to my flat in Cali. I love having physical copies.
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
    • What makes me happy? Rhimes is a creative storytelling demigoddess. She guts us with plot twists. She champions other women and she’s human. She’s so god awfully human like all of us and that motivates the hell out of me. I can be fabulous and so painfully human at the same time as well.
  • You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
    • Status: I’m awful at self-help books. Its been a bit rocky to finish them out. (I received & 7 Effects during college and it’s still sitting on my nightstand waiting to fulfill it’s destiny with me) But! Sincero has humor, Sincero has realism. I’m going to finish this because I’m already a baddie, I just need a reminder every once in a while.
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
    • Status: delivered to my flat! I’m ready to sink my teeth.
  • My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
    • Status: We all need fiction in life, especially Kinsella’s casual light read stories to fulfill the days when we just need a homegirl by our side.
  • [REMOVED] Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them By JK Rowling
  • [ADDED] The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
    • Why it makes me happy: You mean to tell me the tactics I’ve used in life has been an actual device for power?! This is the Yoda for all things power and I am the young Padawan thirsting for more.
  • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • [CODENAMED] My friend is writing a Trilogy and I’m beta reading Book 1.

9 more books to go, 4 of which I’ve basically sprinted through half. It’s rather cathartic to read and thrilling to log about it with a mission.

I hope you all find this list helpful in your journey to happiness.

I grew up ugly & stupid

His friends used to call me ugly.

She kept telling me I was too dumb.

Their extended family would mistake me for a boy because I didn’t have feminine enough features.

Her coworkers would snicker because they felt their kids were smarter and more cunning.

I grew being told I was ugly.

I grew up being told I was stupid.

She used to make me feel worthless. She used to yell at me like I ruined her life. She would say all my friends manipulate me because I’m too nice and dumb to notice.

I had a childhood friend growing up. Let’s call her Tilly. Tilly was always smarter because she was one year older. But Mother would tell me everyday that I’ll never amount to Tilly.

“Tilly is going places.” She’d say. “I bet she’ll end up at a better college than you.”

“Tilly is stronger.”

“Tilly wins at all these games you play because you’re too stupid to anticipate her moves.”

It wasn’t easy being told I wasn’t pretty for a girl.

It wasn’t easy having a mother resent me for being stupid.

But as I sit here two decades later looking at the place I bought for myself close to the Cali beach. I wonder, is this enough to prove to my mother I’m more than what she’d lost hope in?

Tilly now works in retail and still lives at home with her parents.

So, why do I still cry thinking about my upbringing? I can still hear every remark from her ricochet from my memory, cutting me like bullets from deep within.

Why does she hate me so much?

If I can’t even trust my mother to love me, how do I trust someone to enter my life without hurting me?

Am I still so broken?

There’s a reason I feel safe living alone. Isolated. Single.

No one can tell me I’m ugly or stupid. No words can hurt me here.

 

We’re all Plugged

We rely on this tiny little device to grant us instant gratification.

We say we miss each other so we bookmark a day to “brunch” only to be holding up our phones obstructing our view of the other person.

We cuddle side by side on the couch yet not a word flows between our lips as a show runs on screen.

Modern technology is death to the human experience. 

We feel depressed when we don’t garner enough likes.

Social media has evolved to social competitions.

Brands have collected private data to target, seed, and plow our every penny.

The 4th Industrial Revolution has simplified our routine but complicated our mental health.

With the emergence of easier communication, we’ve saturated ourselves with more strangers and lost the meaning behind connecting with close friends.

The notion of everything being “instantaneous” soured our patience.

Seeing 20% battery has brought new waves of anxiety to ourselves we didn’t think possible 2 decades before.

Plugged in: the well that cures or poisons? 

SATC: the friends I’ve always wanted

In my quest to live alone in my late twenties while I sort out my life, I’ve come to realize there’s quite a bit of down time between getting off from work and sleep.

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix & Hulu, it’s fostered a new routine: binge watch old shows and reconnect with some of my favorite heroines.

Time & time again though, I find myself harkening back to SATC. Yup, Sex & the City with Carrie’s unrequited love for Big, Samantha’s unwavering demand for her individuality, Miranda’s unforgiving nature to put work always first, and Charlotte’s undying hunt for the model husband.

Samantha struts strength in her Louboutins and brings independence towards every relationship in her life. It’s always about Samantha. It’s about putting her wants and needs first and never compromising or sacrificing that for anyone or anything. Going through a breakup? Samantha would be the first you’d text and by 7PM you’re already 3 scotches deep, eyeing the 6 foot 3 beachy manbun AND his best friend with the perfect jawline. She’ll catch on and give her nod of approval and say, “Options girl, you now got options instead of the loser you were tied to three hours ago.”

Miranda’s climbed the glass ceiling and fully smashed it when she became a partner at her firm. What an inspiration as she juggled being a single mom while she continued to be a top lawyer in NYC. The days we feel we can’t have it all, we all channel a little inner Miranda and remember we can do it and to keep going.

I want nothing more than to have the positivity Charlotte shines in all her endeavors. She’s able to find the most radiant flower in the darkest nook and cranny. Imagine going through a rough day and calling her up to come over with wine. You know she’ll have your apartment smelling like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies & buttery popcorn evenly salted to perfection while she sits with you on your loveseat listening to your problems.

Last but certainly not least, Carrie. We all learn through her mistakes. We all carry a little piece of her as we go through our own adulthood and trials in love. She taught us that in a way, we tend to always fall for the same person because we gravitate towards what we like. She gave us the hall pass to go back to the ex because sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. She documented her pain the way we type love into words on pages. We bleed suffering onto this blog holding on to memories the way she did in her column.

These four forces have been such role models in my upbringing. I guess they’ve always been my friend as I made my own mistakes and confronted my own failures.

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