Eating Lunch

#liaison #berkeley

I like eating lunch with people. Lunch is casual, dinner is formal. It would be weird to invite some of the people I have lunch with to go to dinner, yet at lunch it is totally cool.

It’s a strange thing. Even if we’er just having something like a burger or a bowl of pho, I feel very caucious who I have dinner with. I rather eat alone than having a stressful dinner.

However, at lunch, I can tackle anyone. I mean, I wouldn’t tackle people while they’re eating of course (lol), but you know what I mean.

There’s so much potential between people while they’re at lunch. We can be strangers, or trying to get to know each other, or really enjoying the hang out. It could be anything.

The Reason to Read and Write

chips_eyes_and_fry_mouth

I’ve been reading more articles on Medium (medium.com) these days because the site is very well designed for reading, and the content is not those that are celebrity related, sensational, or listicles. Every article is marked with the approximate amount of time needed to read it, usually not over 10 minutes. This feature gives me huge motivation to actually click through and read it, knowing that I’ll be able to finish it in a matter of minutes.

Although the articles on Medium are not the brain-rotting sort, I still get tired of them very fast. In fact, what’s on Medium is usually very insightful pieces of wisdom written by pros on technology, design, science, humanity…etc. The topics are varied, but there’s a common theme: how can we improve? How can we improve brainstorming? How do I improve the time when I’m not traveling? (yeah because it sucks so bad) How would you improve your mobile strategy? I’m all up for improving things, but does every single fucking thing needs to be improved? Including myself and everyone I know? I guess so, because there’s a “Better Humans” article collection which provides “Intelligent Ideas for Upgrading Yourself.”

Sure. I can read maybe two of these in the morning before I go to work just to fire myself up and get ready to change the world (aka design something on mobile), but these articles would just drain me by the end of the day. What do I read for relaxation then? Chinese food blogs. The Peking ducks, dumplings, soups and stews have absolutely nothing to do with self improvement, technology, design, or Steve Jobs. They are just delicious looking pictures of food taken in a faraway land. Someone had a great night out. I partake in their joy. It helps me relax.

After becoming a frequent visitor of some food blogs, I stumbled upon a Taiwanese girl’s blog where she writes about not only food but also moments in her life that are memorable. There’s nothing earth shattering and no secrets to success, just small musings on some of life’s most common things. Like when she broke her shoes on the way to a meeting, she met some friendly shoe store clarks who helped her find a new pair of shoes, or how one day she decided to not take the train home, instead she walked home and walked through neighborhoods she’s never been before. I can relate to most things she talks about, and her thoughts make me think of my own life moments and what I’ve learned and felt from them.

Not only do her articles help me relax, they actually make me want to write. After writing more posts lately, I feel that I’ve lightened up the load on my mind by simply sharing my life with others. There’s nothing to improve, no problems to fix, no tips and no rules. There’s only sharing life’s common moments with fellow humans. And that’s my number one reason to read and write.

Chick in Egg Development In Exploratorium

chicken_in_egg_development

To me, the most memorable exhibit in the entire Exploratorium, a children’s science museum in San Francisco, is the chick in egg development petri dish. The start of the life of the chicken, its heart, is pumping in the egg yoke while the whole thing sits in a petri dish, underneath the glass in an exhibition case. I didn’t have a chance to take a picture, but it literally looked like that. (Animation credit: yours truly!)

At first, I was stunned at the level of technology we have to keep life going in a foreign environment. However, I highly doubt that the chick, though heart beating and looking quite alive, would survive in the petri dish for long. Even if it is successfully “born” it wouldn’t be as healthy as a chick that comes out of an egg.

In other words, that chick’s life is doomed. I feel sad for this chick after realizing this. But is there a better fate for this chick? Nay, I say. Even if it is actually born from an egg, in an organic free range humane farm, its eventual destiny is to be consumed.

Death. Yes, the fate of all things living.

It is so huge, so inevitable and so unchangeable. I used to indulge in the imagination of my own death, a young one, and the funeral that would follow. It would be the most beautiful death of course, perhaps dying in my sleep, for some reason, without any side effects that would damage my appearance (lol). My friends and family would gather at the ceremony, the sky would weep, and there would be heated discussions on the meaning of some of my art works.

These days, however, I don’t think that any more. After re-studying Confucius’ works, I decided that one of my main goals of life is to outlive my parents. Not only will I live longer than them, I will also “serve them well while they’re alive, bury them properly when they pass away, and afterwards remember them well both in life and in ceremonies.”

Having this goal helps me put the lives of my parents, me and my potential offspring into perspective. It’s not just me and my own beautiful death any more. We are all part of the stream of human history, and natural history of the earth. Of course we all wish our family would live forever, but if my great great grandma is still alive, man, she’d be a pretty scary looking witch by now!

Death happens, so does life. One cannot exist without the other. The chick in the petri dish will die, so will I. For death, no organism’s life is more precious than others’. We all go back to the earth. This has been my main takeaway from the chick in egg “life development” exhibition in Exploratorium.

On Being Pretty

Recently I’ve been on a kpop  kick music wise, especially the more dancy kind of kpop girl groups who also rap. There are two girl groups that I especially like,  f(x) and 2NE1. They’re both pretty dancy and rap quite a bit, unlike cutsey style girl groups like Girls’ Generation or Wonder Girls. I realized that my favorite song from f(x) is called Pretty Girl and my favorite song from 2NE1 is called Pretty Boy.

The song Pretty Girl is about how a girl, who is not as pretty as the prettiest girl who everyone likes, uses her magic power to put a pretty face on everybody, thus depriving the pretty girl’s privilege of being pretty and getting all the attention.

The song Pretty Boy is about a boy who has only a pretty face but not so much other nice qualities.

Both songs kind of look down on being pretty, or, at least, a person who looks pretty and lacks other qualities such as being kind, smart, or has a “nice personality”. Funny thing is, all the girls in these groups are very pretty. I’m not sure if they’re born pretty but they’re definitely packaged by entertainment companies to be very pretty, prettier than any girl you just stumbles upon on the street.

This is how pretty f(x) is.

f(x)

This is how pretty 2NE1 is:

2NE1_is_pretty

Working in the visual media industry, I’m very aware that much of our sense of aesthetics is formed and directed by mass media. But everyone wants to look good and that’s why beauty and cosmetics is a billion dollar industry. However, no matter what kind of products regular people buy, they are never ever ever going to look like the celebrities who are representing the brands. Behind every image and video clip thrown in front of your eyes is a group of talented stylists, photographers, videographers, marketing strategists and touch up artists  who know how to create a dream for you and make you take out that cash from your wallet.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t look pretty. You can look absolutely fabulous,  you just have to genuinely accept how you look, and create a look for yourself. The minute a person starts to put a little thought behind who they really are and style themselves according to their own features, they start to break the spells of the media and brainwashing of companies.

I was born with too dark of a complexion for a standard Asian “pretty look.” My friends and relatives used to tease me and said my skin is so dark because I drank too much soy sauce (lol). Here’s me and the standard asian pretty girl, Zi Yi Zhang.

Me and Zi Yi Zhang

Even after moving to the U.S where there are people of all colors, I was still frustrated by not looking like a “pretty asian girl”. But maybe because of my laziness and frugality, I never bought products to lighten my skin color like a lot of asian girls do. Now I’ve totally given up on looking like those girls. First of all, I don’t want to spend money and time doing something that will never work. Besides, I finally  realized that God already gave me a set of pretty good, healthy features and most importantly, a creative mind that appreciates what I already have and can make a style of my own.

Plus, there’s a variety of tastes and beauty standards in people. People who like Kim Kardashian will probably not like my look. But people who like my look might not like her. Even if I’m underestimating the power of the Kardashian makeup, hair, boobs and hips, I fundamentally don’t care about the people who like that kind of look. I’ve got a niche audience instead of a general appeal (lol).

Me_and_kardashian

On the days when I’m totally happy with my look, I feel pretty. And that’s the most important thing that no magazines, websites or companies can ever sell people.

Jardin de Pierre

Jardin de Pierre

My former co-worker came back from Paris and brought me a jar of tea by Pierre Hermé. It is green tea mixed with a couple of different floral notes, packaged in a lovely printed metal jar. We still meet with her from time to time for lunch in downtown San francisco. She’s always willing to come back to our office and hang out for a bit.

I think this is a very special thing. Usually, and this applies to me too, when people leave a company, they seldom go back to the office to visit. Even if you leave on very good terms, there would still be some awkward sentiments that most people would probably rather not have to deal with. But she comes back to have lunch with us almost once every month. It’s not a lunch with just a couple of people in a cafe. It’s a lunch in the office where about 10 or so people all sit around having food, talking, joking, laughing, and just generally have a good relaxing time with each other.

The job that I have is not exactly my first job, and they’re not the first company I’ve ever worked for. Before I came here, I had been a freelancer for many years. For a lot of freelancers, it is the best to “get in, get the job done, get out.” And you want to do it fast too, so that you can get the most money within the shortest amount of time. That was my mentality when I first started working for this company.

Even though I was only contracting for 3 days a week, I found that I was included in almost all the activities in the company. Someone would always come and ask me to join in for lunch, and there would always be a gift for me when people come back from vacations. We know what each others’ hobbies are, if they’re vegetarians or hate any foods from the sea, and our significant others’ names.

I tried very hard not to, but eventually I started to like my company. I knew this is just one of the  many companies I’ll work for in my life, people will leave to have other jobs and one day I will too. But still, I couldn’t help it, I started to like my job, the people who I work with, like the success and also the mistakes that we make (okay maybe the success a little more). When I’m at work, I feel that I’m a person, not just a machine, and I have a strong connection with other people who work here also.

When our former co-worker comes back, she’s a person who we used to see a lot, but now we see her less often. That’s why we need to catch up with her, even if she’s had a million other jobs. She would always be a friend, not someone who does or doesn’t work here any more.

Loneliness

#lonely #snake

Recently, maybe in the past few months or so, because of changing situations in different areas of my life, I’ve been feeling a great deal of loneliness. I have never really lived by myself in my entire life, and almost all the time, there’s someone at my side. But still, I felt this slight sense of sadness, like I am on a tiny island. I think this is the so-called loneliness, although I’m almost never alone. It’s a strange thing.

Each of us was born with ourselves and will die with ourselves. At the end of the day, as we leave this world, no matter how much we love someone or something, we are leaving alone. So I think there’s an inherent sense of loneliness in everyone no matter how outgoing and popular you might be, or how many friends and family you have. When I experience a strong sense of connection to the world, this sense of loneliness recedes and I feel happy. But when I cannot relate to the people and environment around me, it comes out shrouding me like smog, like someone had released the valve that contains the most raw and primal fear in human beings.

I hate it. It feels so sweaty, dark, and sluggish. I’m doing my best to fight against it. It will take some time, but I’m working on it.

To All Trains

At #bart

I rushed out of the house quickly to take bart this afternoon to go to the basement, and didn’t even think of the strike until I was on the train. They had extended the deadline until Sunday and there might be a Monday strike. I really hope they would reach an agreement by Sunday night. We can’t afford to have the government shut down and public transit shut down at the same time!

Small and Frequent

Small #happiness

I’ve been accumulating a lot of designs lately and am thinking about doing another release of new shirts.

A lot of times, I’d be listening to some music, and imagining a runway show of my collection. It will feature women of all sizes and ethnicities, and I will come out in the end, smiling and thanking everyone. I love you people, welcome to my world. Don’t forget to take the gifts before you leave.

As enticing as it sounds, I don’t have the capability to throw a big party right now. I’m kind of in start up mode where small and frequent release and improvement is more beneficial than a big push.

Small, frequent, consistant. Whoa, do I sound like a boss? XP

I Feel, Therefore I Am

#descartes

This is Rene Descartes, the guy who said “I think, therefore I am.” Well, Mr. Descartes, I wish thinking is all I ever am. I wish I’m always calm, think with my brain, and do the right thing. I try so hard but I know I’m a lot more than that.

I used to belong to a improv theater troupe. It’s been about a year, or maybe a year and a half since I did any theater. Now I realize, the stage is perhaps the safest place for all human emotions.

What did I do on stage? I shouted, I sang, I flirted, I cursed, I cried, I laughed, I got angry, I got sad, I got excited, I got silly. I  talked loudly and projected my voice well, so I often lead the opening scene. I broke down many times in front of my troupe mates, and I saw them break down too. It’s all okay. We stored all our emotions in a magic bag, releasing them when the right moment arrived. Emotions were precious, it’s the money we had and we used that to make drama.

I really miss that. Now all I do is trying to think the right thing, say the right thing and do the right thing. And even that, I get yelled at.

[Boxing Notes] Jabs

#boxing

Today i learned

Catch Jab

Catch the opponents jab with cross hand in front of face, at the same time jab opponent. cross hand comes back to defense position right after catch. combo: catch jab, cross, slip to right, cross jab cross, jab jab (moving)

Flick Jab Combo

Flick, flick, hard jab (front foot slight turn to left), cross, slip to right while taking a step out(so the right leg would step forward), slip to left while taking a step out (so left leg would step forward), pivot back to fight stance.

— Movements are small and fast, not big. to go in, inch and slip forward from side to side.

— The hundred drill really adds up to 105. It is 1+2+3…+10+9+8…+1. Do a set of 10 then you would’ve done a thousand punches.

— When punching, if too much weight is put into front leg, it will be hard to move back or get out.

— To make the turn at the end of the jab, the arm remains straight but the elbow bone would turn to face outward. Therefore, its not just the wrist is turning, the whole arm, including the shoulder, would need to rotate to deliver the turn in the end. Its important that the elbow doesn’t flare out, but still rotates.

Little Punk

i'm a little punk

Someone called me a “Little Punk.” That was 4 years ago, and I still remember it.

I used to be a member of an artist collective in Oakland, where I got to know many local artists who are working hard on their craft and are very passionate about their work, hoping to make it one day. There’s a monthly arts event called “First Friday Art Murmur” that happens every first Friday of the month in which lots of art galleries in Oakland would open late and have openings. It has evolved into some kind of street fair scene.

On this particular first Friday, I was dancing through the streets full of people in and out of the galleries. Some were drinking beer, some were playing music and some were selling ice cream or poems. I wore a mask I made myself with felt and lots of plastic flowers from dollar store, passing out flyers of the improv troupe I was a part of.

Then I bumped into this guy who I got to know from the artist collective. He had moved to another state and was attending graduate school in art. We exchanged some news which I can’t remember any of, but somehow he said,

“(…blah blah blah…), yeah cuz you’re just a little punk.”

True. At that time, in that environment, with my outfit and mask and dancing and all, I probably looked exactly like what you would call a “little punk.”

And true. I’d rather be a “little punk” than your so-called adult these days. But, I’m more than “just a little punk.”

I’m a little punk who does mobile design and make more money than most of those “adults” out there. I’m a little punk who’s starting her own fashion business. I’m a little punk who’s a part owner of a kickboxing gym. I’m a little punk who always, ALWAYS, break the dance floor completely sober while people are still needing one more drink to start the night. I’m a little punk who is not afraid to be punched in the boxing ring, not afraid to fall down in the roller rink, not afraid to totally forget the moves in a dance class. I’m a little punk who does all this in her 2nd language.

He’s right. I am a little punk. And when I grow up, I’m going to be a big punk. And when I grow old, I’m going to be an old punk. Fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you :)

my 29 bday with brother

I Just Want to be Good

#fish

Recently I’ve been feeling a bit down at times. I suppose partially because the marketing work that I still need to do for BONSTERxBONSTER, which I’m not great at and honestly don’t love, and partially because I can’t spar in kickboxing as much as I want to due to my eye injury.

Here are a couple of questions I think are just the most mysterious things in the world. None of the great sales/business people in the world are demanded to be great at making what they sell. Jeff Bezos does not make e-books himself and Donald Trump surely does not build towers. However, makers and artists need to know how to do sales and marketing. This is extremely frustrating.

The other thing is, once you start doing a sport, there are a million other kinds of stuff that you can do to improve the particular sport that you do. If I want to be a better boxer, yoga would help me, running would help me, swimming would probably help me, heck, I bet singing would help me as well. But, I just want to box! Am I going to be more dedicated or less dedicated if I cut out all these other stuff that are supposedly “good for me”?

These are kind of my old problems that I need to solve by myself, so I didn’t bother talking to anyone, but that resulted in some kind of low grade depression that just hung below all the other good stuff that happens in my life.

I just want to be good. How do I become good? Well, I asked God for a super power, and God gave it to me. It’s not muscles as big as Fedor’s nor is it business wiz as brilliant as Steve Jobs’. It’s a mind that never gives up trying, working, testing, and that’s all I know to do.