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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

HNY

Happy New Year!

I can't believe it's already a new year, but I think I welcome it. 2016 was a strange year, all the way to the very end. I suppose strange doesn't necessarily mean bad, but this past year was a bizarre mix of events, both on a personal level and in a much broader sense.

Like clockwork, once New Year's Eve comes around, I always get asked whether I set New Year's resolutions for myself. Although I initially say "No, I don't really 'do' resolutions," I'm always left wondering if I should be making resolutions. I think what I arrive at are not strictly resolutions, but hopes.

I hope that in this New Year, I will write more. With that, I'd also like to read more. A few years ago, due to opposite schedules, I would often find myself at home alone in the evenings. This was a glorious time for me in terms of reading: I'd average a book or two every couple of weeks, and I eventually made one of my best friends simply by walking upstairs to her apartment and reading together for hours in what we called her "library." The clock would strike 10 p.m., the "library" would close, and I was back in my own apartment, most likely reading a little bit more before it was my own bedtime. I miss you, AF - I know you'd like to see me read more too!

I would also like to spend more time being present. One time last month, I hopped on the train right at the beautiful sunset hour: The sky was painted with striking hues of bright orange, purple and pink. I stared out the train windows until all the colors dissolved into the night, and felt so thankful to have seen the sunset that evening. It made me think more about not letting every day pass me by. I want to see and appreciate more of the little things that make life worth living.

2017: I think — I hope — I'm ready for you.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Home

One major event that happened this year for me was moving out of San Francisco. Shifting from a one-bedroom apartment to a four-bedroom house is one thing, but leaving a city that has been home to me for more than twenty years was probably the hardest part of moving.

As a child, I never really explored much of the city. For much of my school life, I'd go from home to school and then straight back home. In high school, sometimes I would go to the mall nearby with friends or walk around the neighborhood surrounding campus, but that was pretty much it. I didn't start discovering San Francisco until I moved away for college. My dad would send me copies of local San Francisco magazines, and it was on those pages that I discovered the city that I've lived in for so long. Every time I came back for a visit, I'd insist on trying out a new coffee shop or browsing a small boutique on a street I've never heard of before. When I moved back to the city after graduating, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

Things started changing after I got married and moved out of my parents' apartment. Maybe it was the city that started changing, but I believe I changed too. I kept reading story after story of long-time San Francisco residents and businesses being forced out of the buildings they've occupied for years because they couldn't keep up with the soaring rent prices. Back at our apartment, the idea of buying a home instead of renting an apartment kept cropping up until I couldn't ignore it anymore.

After the move, I started to think more about the meaning of a home. My dad always talked about how the apartment I grew up in was so small, but the size of my apartment never really bothered me at all. I always think fondly about that space, and I always love going back to see my parents. After visiting Nathan in New York a few times, it became clear to me that he feels quite at home there, despite the fact that he didn't grow up in New York. Although I'm still adjusting, I can say I feel comfortable in the house I now call home.

Maybe home is the feeling I get when I see my family and my friends. Maybe it's what I feel when I've settled down in my favorite cafe with a cup of coffee and a good book. Maybe it's not about where I am, but about how I'm feeling, and figuring out what or who makes me feel that way.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Work, Life and the Pursuit of Happiness

This past weekend, I watched the documentary film "The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness." The film centers around director Hayao Miyazaki, as well as the goings-on at Studio Ghibli during the production of two animated features: "The Princess Kaguya" and "The Wind Rises."

While I found the inner workings of Studio Ghibli fascinating, the most interesting parts of the documentary by far are Hayao Miyazaki's views. At one point, he spoke about how he didn't believe that one's own happiness should be the goal that people aim to achieve. He talked about how filmmaking was tedious, implying that it didn't in fact make him happy. If that is the case, then why does he continue to make films? Why does his most recent retirement statement start with the sentence "I hope to be working for 10 more years"? (He has since announced that he is coming out of retirement again to work on another feature-length film.)

Hayao Miyazaki really got me thinking about my own happiness. I have a great family, wonderful friends, and many activities that I enjoy doing. I also have a job that allows me to live comfortably.

The part about my job is what puzzles me. I don't really have an idea of what my "dream job" would be exactly, but I can say that what I do now isn't it (at least not yet). Is that okay though, as long as I can do the job well, and as long as it lets me live the life I want to live outside of work? Or, should I be striving for something more? How important should my career be to my overall happiness?

I attended a conference recently where a speaker talked about how work and life shouldn't be separate since work is a part of life. I understood what he meant, but I find it important to have a clear line of separation between the two. When the work day is done, I turn my computer off and leave it at the office, and I don't check my email when I'm home. Perhaps if my career became an added source of happiness in my life, I wouldn't feel so strongly about keeping work and home life apart.

I am, however, quite fond of the separation. Maybe what I have now is enough.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Sound of Silence

Hello again. I feel as if this blog, this space, is filled with many apologies. Almost every time I go on a short hiatus from writing, I always come back with an apology. This is a habit I have decided to break: Why should I apologize for anything that I am not sorry for?

In the past, I mostly stopped writing because I was either too busy (I started this blog when I was still completing my undergraduate degree), or because I felt like I had no writing direction or focus. Although my most recent break initially started because I felt I had nothing to write about, I think it came at a very good time. Updating my blog started feeling like something I had to do, and something that I didn't enjoy anymore. It bothered me that my blog seemed to lack a central topic, and I felt like my posts were all over the place.

Over this past year, a lot of things came up that made me feel very unsettled. I won't go into details here because many of the issues are rather personal, but I will say that these events made me question who I was. While I was in such a state, writing was the last thing on my mind. How could I convey my true self here if I didn't even know who I was anymore?

This is why I do not feel the need to apologize for being away from writing for so long. I needed to take the time to feel okay again, and to feel like myself again. I needed to accept the fact that yes, perhaps my blog is a bit all over the place, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. My thoughts are often a bit jumbled, and if I am being my truest self here, in this space, then my journal can and should very well reflect that.

So here I am. I'm back. I'll be writing about anything that compels me to write, and if my thoughts somehow show any patterns that I can categorize, I'll make sure to include labels at the top of my blog so you can jump around from topic to topic.

Before I'm off for now, I do want to say thank you so much to the special few who have always supported me. You've encouraged me to find myself again and you've helped me truly accept who I am. I could not be as happy as I am now without you. You know who you are.