Thursday, November 26, 2009

human condition

I thought this New York Times article was worthy of cutting and pasting:

"Editorial: A Thanksgiving Toast"

Sitting down with friends and family today, there will be thanks for the steady currents, flowing out of the past, that have brought us to this table. There will be thanks for the present union and reunion of us all. And there will be prayerful thanks for the future. But it’s worth raising a glass (or suspending a forkful for those of you who’ve gotten ahead of the toast) to be thankful for the unexpected, for all the ways that life interrupts and renews itself without warning.

What would our lives look like if they held only what we’d planned? Where would our wisdom or patience — or our hope — come from? How could we account for these new faces at the Thanksgiving table or for the faces we’re missing this holiday, missing perhaps now all these years?

It will never cease to surprise how the condition of being human means we cannot foretell with any accuracy what next Thanksgiving will bring. We can hope and imagine, and we can fear. But when next Thanksgiving rolls around, we’ll have to take account again, as we do today, of how the unexpected has shaped our lives. That will mean accounting for how it has enriched us, blessed us, with suffering as much as with joy.

That, perhaps, is what all this plenty is for, as you look down the table, to gather up the past and celebrate the present and open us to the future.

There is the short-term future, when there will be room for seconds. Then there is the longer term, a time for blossoming and ripening, for new friends, new family, new love, new hope. Most of what life contains comes to us unexpectedly after all. It is our job to welcome it and give it meaning. So let us toast what we cannot know and could not have guessed, and to the unexpected ways our lives will merge in Thanksgivings to come.

My Thanksgiving

When I was in college, I worked as a housekeeper for a handicapped law student. Twice a week, I would drop by and do laundry, dust, vacuum, wash the dishes, and accompany him to buy groceries.

I bring this up because I suddenly remembered him today. He was a poor cook. His diet consist mainly of frozen dinners and mountain dew. Right before Thanksgiving, he told me to stock up on a few Hungryman turkey dinners. He planned to spend his Thanksgiving studying, eating his Hungryman dinner, sipping a little whiskey, and putting himself to bed.

Upon hearing his plans, I felt a drop of pity for him. It was quickly pushed aside by my own plans.

I thought of him today because had it not been for the fabulous feast provided at work, I might be spending Thanksgiving in a very similar fashion. I don't feel badly about working; I chose to work. The place is festive. Everyone is smiling and jolly. I don't feel sad at all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I woke up this morning, hungover and disoriented, with my eyes swollen shut. I know, what a sexy image! The eye problem is something I've dealt with since childhood. Since my eyes are so small, every time I cry, they swell up so much that I literally can't see. It forces me to stumble blindly to the fridge and root around for an icepack. I think this affliction explains a lot about me. 1) I am terribly vain and 2) I hate crying from others and myself. Many Asians steer clear of alcohol because they can't metabolize it properly; I avoid crying because I look like a monster the next day.

Anyway, after I iced my eyes for a few hours and drank some coffee, I felt much better. I felt like my old self again. One night of fitful rest and I can see everything clearly again.

I still think I'm an amazing person. I still think I'm smart. I won't go as far as to say that I am glad to study again; however, I will say that better this happen to me, someone who can handle it, than someone who would dissolve under the pressure.

After everything I have been through in the last few years, I feel fine. I'm still determined and still confident in myself.

Friday, November 20, 2009

pride comes before the fall

I've chugged about a bottle of wine in the last half hour, so I really shouldn't be blogging right now. Then again, I'm a mass of contradictions and a hypocrite to boot. I despise drunk texts and dials and yet I am spilling my guts out on this thing. I think tonight's blog will be a testament to what a stickler I am regarding spelling, grammar, and punctuation. No matter how many drinks I have in me.

Anyway, I wanted to just come right out and say that I failed the bar exam. I am reeling from shock and disappointment, yes, but most of all from pure embarrassment. Serves me right. I really thought I passed. I was really confident about it, to the point where I returned my Barbri books for a refund check. I didn't sweat the last few months. I told my family and friends about my job offer (now rescinded). I looked for apartments in Los Angeles. I already started spending the money in my head. So I will swallow this as a lesson in humility and maturity. Don't count your chickens until they've hatched.

I think what makes this whole process especially painful is that I gave it my all. If I had half-assed my studying, then I could chalk it up to lack of effort and set it aside easily. This time, I took it seriously, studied by myself, eliminated all distractions. If I was tired, I forced myself to finish one more essay, just a few more multiple choice problems. I stopped spending time with friends. I felt focused. I actually thought that the bar exam wasn't so bad. It's harder to brush aside this incident and find additional reserves if I've already used them up.

The worst part is being at home for this shit to go down (excuse my language). I decided to spend Thanksgiving with my parents a weekend early because I am working Thanksgiving weekend. My dad sat beside me when he found out that I failed and he was very quiet while I frantically typed in the numbers over and over. He told me that every path has a stop sign or a stop light (meaning a minor setback does not change your ultimate path).

I know that tomorrow, I will recover and stop feeling sorry for myself. I know that I will just study again, take the test again, and that this will be another good learning experience for me.

But. Right now, I just feel so shitty and alone and ridiculous.

Life can change so quickly. One second, you are almost-employed, excited to move. The next second, your wheels and your ego are just spinning in the mud.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hooray. And reality.

I had been waiting with bated breath. Today, I got The Job Offer.

I felt a little dizzy and my heart pounded, but I acted like everything was cool. When no one was looking, there may have been a few fist pumps and some poor attempts at dancing. In any case, everything is contingent on passing the bar, so I can't celebrate just yet.

After my interview, I went apartment hunting, just in case. I wanted something reasonable - not too dingy, not too extravagant. I wanted to live within my means. I found a few potential places, ruled out a few others, and made an excel spreadsheet of my top living choices.

Then reality settled in. IF I passed the bar, IF I got the job and IF I managed to hang on and not quit, I could not live in any of my top living choices. I crunched the numbers and realized that for now, a dingy studio would have to do. Which doesn't bother me in the least. I am still very excited.

You see, I've never been an extravagant kind of person. I have been known to hoard items and pinch pennies. I've never said no to free food. But the cold reality is that it's time for me to grow up and to stop dreaming. I have to take care of me. I have to finally start chipping away at my massive student loans. I have to make sure I have enough left for a comfortable retirement.

The most important thing I realized is that I can't think that some guy is going to drop into my life and sweep me off my feet. I have to be prepared that it might never happen. I have to do things like start saving for Tibet and Hong Kong. Even if it is a solo journey, it will still be pretty amazing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm in love...

with my new label maker!

I don't know why this started, but I've become obsessed with organizing as of late. I've been throwing away massive amounts of clutter and rifling through documents that haven't been touched in almost a decade. My shredder has been putting in overtime. Even my superfluous buttons have found proper homes (organized by size, shape, and color, of course!).

I know part of it is anticipating a big move and part of it is putting my life into order. I realize how much I have held onto and how little I really need.

But now it's gotten to the point where I'd rather hang out at home with my label maker than see real, live people. I wonder if I'm turning into one of those crazies. Even so, is there anything sexier than a sleek, shiny label or the euphoria of tossing out junk? I don't think so!