beginnings and endings

The worst part of a new beginning is the final ending. Some beginnings have no end; some endings follow no true beginning.

I was a struggling English student throughout my education. Somewhere between the beginning of elementary and ending of intermediate school, the struggles I dealt with grew incrementally. I was even placed in a Reading class in 7th grade while many of my friends went into honors classes. Reading class was only for those who were struggling and was not required.

While it made me feel rather stupid, I knew I could easily make A’s in this class. There was no way I would struggle that much in a class of people I considered to be below me intellectually.

I was wrong.

I was more in tune with books as a kid, reading many which I remember enjoying. Even today I can recall various visual scenes I made up in my mind for some of the stories. However, the last time I really remember enjoying a book while in public education was in 8th grade. I vaguely remember reading certain stories which were mildly entertaining. It wouldn’t be long now.

By high school, I knew I wasn’t going to excel in this area of study. The required readings I was forced to commit to in English classes never satisfied me. Unfortunately for my education, my lust for video games had set in. Sitting still to comprehend static text was not even a passing thought if I wasn’t reminded.

I forced myself into the honors English class my freshman year of high school. For two years, I endured this ongoing struggle for several reasons: to be around peers better and smarter than me, to be around those who would challenge me, many of my friends were in these classes, and I needed to challenge myself.

By my junior year, I ended my personal challenge. Sophomore English class killed me, leaving me scarred with three D’s. It was time to end my suffering and take the personal hit. My pride in English, of what I even had left, was pretty much shot. While I didn’t want to let go for so many reasons, and while there are probably many reasons I should have continued this challenge, it was in my best interest to move on.

I tried hard to make it work. My timing wasn’t always great, I procrastinated a lot, and my test scores reflected this. I made mistakes which I wish I hadn’t, but I struggled to change my circumstances. Sadly, I just wasn’t meant to be great at English but I have slowly improved over the years.

It wasn’t a fun choice to leave the honors English track but I needed to make a change that was good for me. I was too stressed being in the same situation again and again and it left me unhappy. Since high school, I gained a huge appreciation for the English language because of my decision. I almost regret not continuing on with honors English but I knew at the time it was right for me.

I don’t always know when the right time for me to let go and move on is but I try my best to make my life work for me. The unintentional endings I’ve experienced through my life have been unfortunate but I’ve grown into a better person because of them. I just hope I know that doing the right thing doesn’t always mean doing the best thing for everyone.

Out of a sad ending will come a beautiful beginning. My improvement and understanding of the English language into my 30’s is proof that it doesn’t need to completely end. It just needed to change, this change allowed me to appreciate it more, and I found a new way to invigorate myself to improve my writing, reading and understanding.

I hope I can apply this lesson throughout the rest of my life.

digital disorientation

Why do I never feel accomplished anymore?

This year has felt like a never-ending work in progress. It usually feels like once I accomplish one thing, there’s still 100 more things that need to be accomplished. I feel like I have a ton of works in progress without any end in sight for some and a close finish for others. My head sometimes swirls at what the next task should be.

My desktop PC finally started taking a turn for the worst this year and I lived without Windows for close to 2 months. As much as I enjoy using OS X, it was torture to experience this since all of my personal files, email, etc. are stored on my desktop. So during those two months, I lived in anticipation. I was eagerly waiting for a time when my desktop would be completely up and running. This confirms why I can’t switch completely over to a Mac. It’s great but it doesn’t have what I need right now… yet.

I also started having phone troubles as well. My ringer stopped working, I couldn’t sync to and from my computers. Trying to do something became a chore sometimes when I had to wait for my technology to catch up to me. Right now, as I type, half of my personal photos are on one computer and half are on the other.

In the meantime, while I live through my own mental holocaust, I’ve kept myself busy keeping afloat with projects, work, and business opportunities. The horizon has potential but I need to get past this virtual hump as soon as possible.

This is the main reason why my website has no direction, no updates, and is halfway designed. I never really completed tweaking this design because many other things suddenly became more important. You can even see my Flickr account has gone untouched for nearly a year, when I came back from Moscow. Leaving these things in disarray is another form of madness I deal with, but at least I’m am not too obsessive about these things. I can live with it to a point.

Hopefully while I make slow but steady marks and knock out rebuilding my digital life, I can dedicate more time to this site. I miss expressing myself like I did when I first started this website. It’s amazing how far I’ve really come since 2002, when I started a little blog on asuh.com.

bored with writing

Since my last post on Moscow, I though about writing the following topics:

  • St. Petersburg
  • 2009
  • web design galore
  • having no social life
  • wishing I didn’t have to submit my taxes or pay for car insurance

Since my last post, I’ve had no desire to sit down and write until this very moment.

You see, I’ve been busy. At least, I’ve kept myself busy with work. I’m not putting in 40 hours a week every week but I’m coming close to it.

As a freelance/contract/self-employed person who works 2 part-time jobs on the side, I work harder for my money than the average person.
I don’t clock in.
I don’t have water cooler chats with my coworkers.
I don’t have a boss peering over my shoulder
I’m my own boss and I call my own hours.

Writing, as I’ve said in the past, is tough for me. Creative writing is even more of a chore. I force myself to do it because it’s good for me and keeps you informed. I almost want to blame my lack of desire on my site’s design. I feel like this design is only half complete. Thinking about editing it makes me bored. So my site sits here and I don’t say much.

I remember when I first started writing on my site 7 years ago. It was much more frequent, it was exciting, and I generally felt as ease typing more than I do now.

Life has gotten the best of me lately, and I’m much less motivated to do certain things than I was before. Wax and wane I guess.

Since I’ve had no social life in January, February is stacking up to be much more productive in that way. I’ve planned a few trips and sacrificed going on others.

It’s going to be an interesting next few months. Maybe I’ll drop by a little more. Maybe I’ll even write a few more times a month.

the initial

Palace Square in St. Petersburg, Russia
Palace Square in St. Petersburg, Russia

This was another trip of firsts: first 13 hour flight, first time being anywhere near the North Pole, first time to spend the majority of all 13 hours in darkness, first time to be around plane full of Russian speaking natives and visitors, and my first time to visit the largest country in the world. Russia.

I knew my nerves would eventually get to me. In the air thousands of miles above Canada, Greenland and Scandinavia, it never hit me. In fact, just an hour or less before we landed, I looked out the window. It was drawing towards evening local Moscow time.

I looked towards the ground and quickly glanced at the sky. It’s the moon. I also saw two other bright dots: Jupiter and Venus. I had forgotten this event was happening until that moment.

Before I knew it, it was time to land. 13 hours is much too long to stay seated in such a confined space, but I survived. Then came the rush.

We landed pretty quickly. My anxiety was very low; I was distracted by trying to gather all my stuff and pack up. It didn’t occur to me where I was.
Not yet.

All packed and following the crowd. We weren’t at a gate and we walked down the portable stairs to a bus. Five minutes later, we arrived at the next destination: customs.

As I walked off the bus and and looked around, frost in my breath and intrigue in my eyes, it finally hit me.

This is Russia.
I’m here.
Thousands of miles away from everyone and everything comfortable to me.
Except one new person.

We walked up to the customs stations, waiting for our turns to be inspected. Not knowing where everything was, what to expect, I wondered if the other side of these booths was my friend. I searched but saw no one. Nope, just baggage. One more wait, and one more path until I met her. Tanya.

With two bags on my shoulders and a suitcase handle in my hand, I quickly greeted her, nervous and anxious. Here is my accommodation, my lifeline, and my only personal contact for the next 11 nights. The greeting was initially awkward and a little weird. I was really nervous but trying to act as smooth as I can.

My first car ride into Russia was mentally blurry, with so many new sites, foreign characters and letters and a curiosity about what’s to come. With lots of silence, quiet awe and wonder, I looked around, made awkward small talk and generally took in what I could see.

So began my first night in Moscow, my first night in Russia, and the first night in a completely new, foreign and intriguing place.

silly CHIPs

I just got home about 10 minutes ago from a late night out of seeing the movie Juno and hanging out. I would have been here 15 minutes ago if it weren’t for a particular California Highway Patrolman.

The 210 freeway is notorious for speeders. It’s the closest interstate to my house and most desolate and safest freeway on which to speed. As you would know from me, I tend to go the speed of traffic as it’s much safer than going the speed limit. I learned that in defensive driving 9 years ago after getting my first ticket.

Upon exiting the freeway to drive to my house, the car directly behind me quickly sped up before I saw some flashing headlights followed by flashing car lights. It was the cops and they caught me!

I turned right at the light by the overpass and slowly tread by the curb until we both fit in a tiny space between the access road and entrance to a large outdoor garden center. Seconds later, two patrolmen came walking towards both sides of my car with flashlights shining into my car. By the time the patrolman rapped on my window, I had all my paperwork and license ready to hand him. So, I began to open my door to meet him outside.

“Just roll down the windows, sir”

Okay, whatever you say officer. I closed my door and rolled down my window.

May I help you?
“You were speeding. Did you have any alcohol tonight?”
No sir.
“Have you had any drugs or medications?”
No sir.
“I smell something that smells like coconut. What is that?”
I’m not sure what you’re smelling.

He proceeded to hold his dirty pointer finger out, pointing towards my chest. His hands needed to be washed and his fingernails had a little grime under his cuticle ends.

“I need you to follow my finger with your eyes and without moving your head. Do you understand?”
Yes sir.

His finger first went to the left a few inches, he held it there for a couple of seconds before slowly moving it along a plane to the right about eight inches. He held it still for a couple more seconds before moving it back to the left another eight inches. My eyes easily followed his fingers towards both sides, locked on his dirty grime under his fingernail nail plate end that was almost white.

“Sit right here, I’ll be back”
Okay.

The patrolman went right back to his car and I decided to shut my engine off since he likely would take a while to check my clean record and determine whether I had any problems for him to write me up. From the way he asked those certain questions, I think he was trying to find a stupid person to admit something was the matter. I’m not stupid.

As I waited there and wondered what fate had in store for me, I resigned from any discomfort about getting a ticket and paying for it since what was done, was done. Sometimes things just happen and there’s nothing you can do to change the situation. I’ve been in a similar situation before with a New Mexico State Trooper and I walked in between our cars to plead my case. I was lucky enough to get a warning instead of a ticket from that New Mexican. Trying to remember which arguments won that situation, I racked my brain to come up with a few logical, defensive driving arguments that would help me in case this patrolman did want to write the ticket.

A couple of minutes later, a flashlight starts to make his way on my passenger side. Great, the other patrolman wants to see if he can find anything in my car to make me get out. I get another rap on my passenger window. I lean to the door, push the handle to open the door.

“Here you go. Drive safely.”
Thanks.

Bite me. You just wasted five minutes of my life.

selfishness

For the first time ever, I wanna know what it feels like to spend Christmas away from my family.
For the first time ever, I don’t wanna feel obligated to spend Christmas like I always have.

If my college years were the time to make something of myself, my twenties are the time to live selfishly. I didn’t follow the path many of my peers and friends have. I spent the first 25 years of my life doing what was mostly expected of me without much debate or question. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized my twenties are quickly about to pass without me living a life I see myself living.

I say living “a life” instead of “the life” for a reason. I don’t see myself living one life, “the life”, doing something for the rest of my life. I see myself doing many things, living many lives and enjoying many passions and desires.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2004, I moved from my comfort zone to the front lines of my ambitions. I stepped out of that which I knew (everything in Texas, everyone I knew) to a place where nothing was familiar. All for a dream. All on a whim. All for everything and anything.

I had no real plans, no real decisions to make, nothing to push me in any certain direction except my degree, my passions and my desires. I was open to anything, hoping for everything, and expecting nothing. Now, treading the beginning of a new year, I realize I’m barely further than I was in 2004.

I decided after a couple of years of being here it was time to live like I was in my twenties. I’ve become more selfish, doing more things I want and pushing responsibility and obligation as far away as I can without it bringing me down. I’ve started to seek out social activities such as dating, something I’m still quite unfamiliar with and don’t know what it really feels like to be with someone I want.

I’ve resigned from security and comfort to pursue the untamed and out of reach. I don’t want a typical life; I want the extraordinary life. “The man” has no more control over me. Not right now. I’m living for me.

I spend my free time dreaming about a music career, a photojournalistic life, a performance to inspire, a production of success, a listing on a site. I see so much for me and I want it all.

2008 will test my will and force my hand.
2008 will reveal my discipline.
2008 will show my weaknesses.

I can afford to be young and stupid, to be twenty-something as long as I want but I need to push myself to live the lives I want to live. I hope I can push myself, turn away from distractions and stay motivated.

No regrets.

into the wild

into the wild

Driving is in my blood. I do it often and I enjoy it. It’s a mobile comfort zone. I’ve made many long distance trips and endured many hours alone while driving from point A to point B. I mentally prepare myself for long trips since some drives can be tedious and boring. I also learn and adapt to visual cues to make my drives more interesting.

In college, there were the trips I made between Houston and Dallas on I-45. I know the amount of time it should take to make the trip. I know how the outlet mall in Conroe is the cue that either I’m completely out of or getting closer to the metropolitan and suburban of Houston. I remember Highway 79 at Buffalo is where I used to turn in order to go to my grandparent’s house in northeast Texas or the way to Lakeview church camp. Fairfield is the beginning of the Dallas half of I-45. I know the exact point about 30 miles south of downtown Dallas that I can see the neon green outline of the Bank of America building at night. The McDonalds in Huntsville is where I’ve spent many rest stops with my friends going to and from church camp. Right before I get to Madisonville, I know I’m exactly 99 miles from downtown Houston. My dad and I stopped at a closed gas station between Conroe and Huntsville for a few minutes because the rain was coming down so hard. There used to be a hill between Corsicana and Dallas just east of the freeway that had “GOLF” clearly spelled out.

When I lived in Denver for two years, I spent two 8 hour days with an overnight in Lubbock. Brenham is where the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory is located! When 290 turns into 36, I spend about five hours of my drive on 36 ending up in Abilene. One time when I was driving through Abilene, I found a college radio station that happened to be playing one of my favorite composers, Kurt Bestor. I instantly fell in love that day. There’s a stretch of Highway 84 that has a lot of plateaus and rocky hills. This is the precursor to the next day’s drive or reminder of the previous day’s drive. After leaving Clayton on Highway 64, about 15 minutes into the drive to Raton, there’s a huge hill across from Mt. Capulin Volcano that keeps my attention for about an hour. It’s a beautiful drive. From Dumas to Clayton, there is little of anything to look at except corn fields and silos. Dalhart is your last chance for Blue Bell Ice Cream before you leave Texas. About 15 minutes south of Raton, a hail storm pounded my car and I almost got into an accident. Trinidad, Colorado has this one hill that looks like stair steps. Colorado Spring signifies the last leg of my journey or the beginning of the rest of my trip. Just north of Colorado Springs is the Air Force Academy’s chapel, a place I’ve been to exactly three times. Between Trinidad and Pueblo, the best music to play while you see a train going down the track with mountains in the background is Kansas’ “Song for America”. In fact, this song is appropriate for a lot of this trip.

I saw the movie Into the Wild a week ago. I don’t watch movies as often as I wish, and I come across movies like this even less often. Although the subject of the movie has its controversies, the message was very well delivered and quite thought provoking.

Throughout the movie, I continually thought of different people I know who would identify with this scene or that scene. His journey, the scenery, his misfortunes… so much brought back memories of my own journeys and behaviors. For each person I thought of, I could relate my own experience and memory of these scenes just as much. This kid had a lot of angst and loneliness trying to find the way to his purpose and I understand what that’s like. This kind of loneliness is being in a car for many hours and allows you to process anything you want. It’s you, the radio, and your thoughts.

The kinds of solitary experiences Christopher went through brought me back to the countless hours I spent in my drivers seat. The kinds of inductive reasonings and theories he would often expound upon, including the memorable quotes from several well known authors, were identifiable and familiar. It made me miss those solitary times I spend in the car. I think that’s part of the reason I like to be on the road; the open road is my freedom, my independence and my endless possibility. It reminds me that there’s more to live than just the routines and habits we develop. If we continue to do the same all the time, we lose the opportunities to make the memories that change us. Living outside your element is the experience which helps you see those new possibilities.

“Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fairness… give me truth.” -Henry David Thoreau

a personal philosophy

A few years ago, I had a huge self-realization that changed my outlook. I know that I carry a lot of negative energy with me sometimes. Depression, sadness, worry, fear: these states of being can get the best of me and bring me and others around me down.

Randomly, self-realization hit me: why am I wasting time on emotions and states of being that make me unhappy? Why should I spend anymore time than I have to wasting away with negative energy? I’m always going to have the moments and periods in my life that won’t be the happiest or positive; I’ll likely continue to regret my words and actions from time to time (it’s almost inevitable).

I decided that these negative emotions were a waste of my time. I see no reason to carry on as a negative person so much and I won’t live from my regrets. Sure, you can’t just deny that you feel a certain way at a certain time, but there are positive ways to reflect from those things in life that make you feel a certain way. A few years ago, I saw a friend of mine give me a great example of dealing with problems. Most of the crap I let get to me I should brush off my shoulder. Dismiss it. Forget about it. Most of the problems I let get to me are petty, not worth getting upset about.

I do everything I can to learn from my regrets and try to move on as quickly as time allows. It helps me to be positive and happy, things that resonate to others around me too. It’s not always easy to do this, but it’s a goal I’m committing to for the rest of my life.

the chronicles of my life

During the first two months of my sophomore year in high school, I was inspired to keep a journal. My closest friend was doing it, so monkey see, monkey do. It was a useful way to keep track of my life, to practice my writing, and to get out thoughts and feelings I would not otherwise express externally.

For the record, it was not a diary. Diaries are for girls: Journals are for boys.

I kept journals for the rest of high school and into college. After the first year, however, my desire to record my life waned. I didn’t feel a need to write down as much as I did before, and it took me a while to realize why this was. I initially credited this to keeping busy or being lazy. Writing everything down became a burden and chore and it did not represent the same things it did in high school. So I stopped.

The truth is… I never stopped writing. My journaling took on another form, one I didn’t realize until a few years later.

When I began my first semester of college, one of the first things I began using was the relatively new-to-me medium called e-mail. I think I first discovered e-mail when my mom started using AOL in the mid 90’s. I didn’t really think much of it and was much more interested in the capability of talking to my friends online instantly. But e-mail quickly became a favorite way to communicate with my friends when I couldn’t IM.

School transitioned my habits and relationship with e-mail. As per the instructions from the IT office, I setup Outlook Express to download all my mail from the server so that I could store it on my computer. In 1997, I doubt we were given much storage space in which to store e-mail archives.

This practice of downloading my e-mail never changed, even with the rise of web based systems such as hotmail and yahoo. I always wanted to store my mail on my computer since there were times I would receive mail that I wanted to refer back to, even if it was just for nostalgic reasons.

E-mail became my journal. The fact that I am able to keep everything I receive and send is my log. To this day, I have thousands of e-mails and over 10 years worth of it sitting in my Outlook Express. I don’t save everything written to me or sent to others, but I always try to save meaningful mail, whether good or bad, to represent those moments in my life. This is also a way for me to jog my memory about someone I haven’t spoken to in a while or to recall certain things we said to each other.

I still have my journals boxed away. It’ll be interesting to someday get back into those and read the memories I kept and see what I said about the things I did, the girl I dated and the people who affected my life. I sure hope I surprise myself; I hardly remember much of what I wrote but I do remember the way I wrote and how I kept track of certain things.

Keeping track of my life is more important than ever. Realizing how quickly my memories fade scares me.

good company makes for good times

the loud music, the crowded spaces, the sweaty gross bodies all moving around, the sticky floors, the dirty and wet bathroom floors, the attitudes, the rejection

I’ve never been much of a fan of dance clubs. I don’t know how to dance without looking stupid. I feel awkward going up to girls who I don’t know. There are so many excuses I can make for why I’ve never gone clubbing very much.

I feel like the one fun person who doesn’t have fun sometimes. I’m all about being with friends, partying and enjoying my company. But I’m often uncomfortable in social situations where I don’t have much control or feel as though I’m not very desirable. And that’s precisely what clubs make me feel like.

I also haven’t been clubbing too often with fellows who are around my age, mostly just my gal friends who are strictly platonic. And being out with platonic lady friends at a club is really just a waste of time since you’re not the focus of their desires.

So why do I put myself in situations where the outcome is usually against my favor? Because I love going out and being social. I love music. I love the lights. I love watching humans and how they interact. I love laughing and smiling and feeling good.

[wow, I didn’t realize Stevie Wonder had so many hits that I know but didn’t realize they were his. Superstition, Sir Duke, I Just Called to Say I Love You…]

Being out and about is essential to me. I need my alone time, where I can have self-reflection and get personal things done but being amongst friends and just taking in the evening is a such a wonderful feeling. I feed off of other people who bring out the best in me, and getting crazy in public is a wonderful way of releasing yourself.

I’m much more of a bar person than a club person. But if I had my choice, I’d probably just stay at home with friends and relax. Low key is nice after a long, busy weekend of social distractions.