Old friends, new lives

New York is one of those cities where you could co-exist with another person for decades and probably never run into them. It’s one of the greatest things about living here — it rarely feels small the way it does for most cities, especially after you’ve had a breakup or a falling out with someone.

At my friend’s birthday party today, I ran into an old friend who had moved to San Francisco to be with his now-wife three years ago, and I found out that he’s actually living in Hoboken now and has been back on the East Coast for over a year now. I had no idea, but it was good to catch up with him and see what he’s been up to. In the time that has passed since we last saw each other, he moved to San Francisco, got married and had two family-wedding ceremonies in Korea and China, moved back to New York, and got an apartment in Hoboken. I’ve since changed jobs, moved apartments, got engaged, and am planning a wedding. In three years, a lot of things change, but it’s always nice to see a familiar friendly face.

Nice girl

Tonight, we went to see a show in the West Village called “Nice Girl,” about a woman who ends up dropping out of Radcliffe College after her dad falls ill and dies, and she lives with her mother for the next 16 years and helps take care of her. She takes an assistant-type job at an accounting firm, and it’s clear she thought she had more potential than to be someone’s assistant at the age of 38.

The mom is emotionally manipulative. She tries to get her daughter to do things by guilt-tripping her here and there, and she loves to act helpless, as though she would not be able to survive without her daughter’s daily help. She gets angry at the idea that her daughter would even think of moving out and being on her own. Wow, this seemed so familiar to me. It’s like my own mother in a lot of ways. She always says she’d never be able to live alone, ever.

It made me remember the one time when Ed had a tiny chance of moving out. He found a small room for rent in an in-law of someone’s house at an affordable price, and he considered moving. It would have given him freedom not just from the overbearing eyes of our parents, but also freedom from constant scrutiny and intense and unwarranted criticism, which chipped away at him every single day. Unfortunately, when my mom brought it up with me one day on the phone, she was angry about it. She said it was a stupid idea, that he’d never survive living on his own, and that his job wasn’t good enough for him to move out. She also said that if he did decide to move, he wouldn’t be allowed to take anything from this house with him except the bed he slept in. That infuriated me, and I told her it was wrong. My words meant nothing to her, though, and of course, she just yelled back.

Well, now the house has all these nice things that Ed was so generous and loving to buy — endless bath towels, bedsheets, pillows, comforters, a fancy knife set that is barely used, dishes, plates, bowls, bathroom supplies, even a freaking flat screen TV. That bed is still there, too. But there is no Ed. That house will never see Ed ever again.

Annoying conversations

I had two conversations with two different men today that bothered me. The first had to do with “responsibility” to the people we care about and to the world. My friend’s boyfriend was saying that he owes the world nothing, that everyone can “go fuck themselves,” and he doesn’t need or want to contribute anything to this world. That’s why he chose a job that gives him no accountability, no mobility, and no real responsibility. He thinks it’s all a load of crap. He also hinted he thinks I’m naive because I think I am making a difference in the world by doing youth mentoring and volunteering. Well, I never said I was curing cancer or saving the world. I’m only one person, and if I can help just one other person, why not? It’s not fully selfless, as when we help others, we tend to feel good about ourselves, so there is a small selfish component to that. The concept of not wanting to possess any responsibility or duty to the world really angers me. It’s that type of selfishness that makes the world a bad place to live in, when we know we cannot rely on anyone for anything. Part of being an adult means having responsibility, and to try to escape responsibility is to evade adulthood. No one wants a real life Peter Pan in their lives.

The second annoying conversation was with a guy I thought was supposed to be my friend, but he’s really just using me as an outlet to complain about his failing dating escapades. When he had his last girlfriend, every single time I used to see him, he would complain about her for at least 70 percent of the time. Now that he’s broken up with her and she’s moved out, he’s tried to over compensate on his dating and sex life by seeing over 17 different women in the last four months and sleeping with all of them. And he thinks I want to hear about the details of his life. And after sleeping with these people, he realizes that they’re all neurotic in some way and he doesn’t want to be with any of them in a real relationship. “I feel so comfortable telling you these things,” he said. “That’s why I complain to you.”

I’m never responding to another message from this guy again.

Saying “hi”

Today at work was one meeting after another, so needless to say, it was a tiring day, especially since some of these meetings weren’t really that necessary or informative. During one of these meetings, someone who heads up another team who I’ve never officially met was already seated for the meeting, and I sat down next to him and said hi. He literally looked me up and down, probably decided I wasn’t “high up enough” at the company to really acknowledge, and then went back to looking at his laptop. That “hi” was never returned. Yep, you got that right. I just got dissed and ignored.

I thought that the whole point of working at a start up was that title or positions shouldn’t matter and that the structure was supposed to be flat because everyone was valued and everyone is a contributor?


Contact lenses

I haven’t worn contact lenses since September 2, 2012. That was the day that one of my good friends had her U.S. wedding in Maui. Because I am kind of vain, I don’t generally like to wear glasses at special events, and because I cannot see very far (I’m negative 1.50, which isn’t awful, but I want to see things crystal clear on important days), I need to either wear contacts or glasses when I want to see all the details around me. Most of the time wandering around San Francisco or New York, I won’t wear glasses, but I wore contacts on and off for about two years and just got sick of putting them in and taking them out all the time. The maintenance of having those two-week long ones was awful. I hated cleaning them and making sure that there was no dirt in them. I hated spending money on the contact lens solution, which was not cheap and not covered by insurance. And now because I’m thinking about my wedding, I knew I was going to need to get contacts. Today, I got a trial of daily contacts, which means I wear them once and throw them out. That removes the maintenance bit. But taking them off was the biggest pain tonight. I had forgotten how to remove them, so I had to YouTube a video on how to take them out. After a few frustrating tries, I got both out, and of course the left one was more finicky than the right one. The optometrist today said that because my vision isn’t horrible, she strongly recommends against my getting laser eye surgery. “It’s just not worth it for your vision quality,” she said. “Your vision is good enough!”

I just want to see perfectly all the time, though. I guess it’s either contacts or glasses for the rest of my life for me. Damn vision.

Thoughts of a mortician

I was on Facebook this morning and saw an image from a page I follow called Humans of New York. The photo depicted a young black boy playing basketball in a playground. He was interviewed to say something along the lines of, “When I grow up, I want to be a mortician. I went to my uncle’s funeral, and they dressed and made him up well. I want to be able to do that, too!”
I’d never, ever heard of any little kid saying he wanted to be a funeral anything or mortician. In our society, most families shield their children from anything death or funeral related, which I highly disagree with. While I have always been uncomfortable about the idea of death, I think children should be exposed to whatever is in front of them. If someone close to them dies, they should not only know about it, but also be given the ability to say one last goodbye to them. Death is just a part of life as much as any of us want to deny it.
This led me to doing a Google search on “mortician,” and I found this article called “Confessions of a Mortician,” in which a 5th-6th generation mortician candidly discusses his profession, what he does, and why he continues doing this. He also had a very well written and at times humorous mortician blog that discusses his experiences and thoughts. On his site, he has a list of reasons, briefly and thoughtfully written, that discuss why he enjoys what he does.
One reason he continues this work is what he calls “the lack of the superficial.” What he says about the lack of the superficial is very compelling, as in we live in world where people are always trying to earn more money, one up other people, get fancier cars, etc., but when death comes upon us, all that goes away and people reveal their authentic selves. Their authentic selves may be cowardly or even more selfish, but many times, they are deeper, more loving, more emotional, and more raw.


The ‘safe death confrontation’ is also very true, even if I don’t want to admit it. I think because for the longest time, I had been to more funerals than weddings that I developed a deep fear about death, not so much my own, but of those around me (that story may change if I end up getting diagnosed with a life-threatening disease). Because I went to so many funerals at a very young age, I just thought that people around me could drop dead at any time, and that frightened me. But I think we’d all live happier, healthier lives if we were more comfortable with the fact that death is an inevitable part of life, and that like he said, it is sadly one of the things that unites us all in terms of experience. It would also force us to do and pursue the things we want because we know our time here is not infinite. We’d be less fearful and more willing to take chances.

Seat belts

We were shocked to learn of the economist John Nash’s death over the weekend during our trip to Ohio and Kentucky. I first learned of Nash during one of my economics courses in high school, then again during college, and of course, when the movie A Beautiful Mind came out during my high school days. When I learned of Nash’s genius and how he suffered from schizophrenia, I had thought about my brother then and thought that it was possible my brother did have a future. John Nash could get through it and persevere, therefore so could my brother! At the time, Ed was not exhibiting any schizophrenic symptoms, but he did have some of these symptoms toward the end of his life. They had mental illness in common.

The most tragic part of Nash’s and his wife’s deaths was that from what the reports have stated, they could still be alive today if they were just wearing seat belts in the cab they took from the airport. It made me shudder to read about the seat belt detail in the articles, as I thought back to a small handful of times when I’ve been in a New York City cab, and for some reason, the seat belt fastener either was not there or not working. I’ve been pretty diligent since I was young about always wearing a seat belt. It was drilled into my head by both of my parents (to this day, my mother still asks when I am in the car, “Did you buckle your seat belt?”), and then again during my mandatory driver training course in high school, where we had to watch test crash videos of dummies in car crashes wearing versus not wearing seat belts. Like when Dave Goldberg died earlier this month and I thought about him falling off his treadmill every time I got onto a gym treadmill in the weeks following, when I think about being in a car now, I think about seat belts, as I did tonight during our car ride home from LaGuardia.

Cassius Clay

Today, we drove to Lexington and Louisville from Cincinnati, and one of the stops we made was at the Muhammad Ali Center. We’d actually seen it last year when we stopped in Louisville last year, but we didn’t realize exactly what it was until after we left. I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy the center because all I really knew about Muhammad Ali was that he was a famous boxer, but I had no idea that he was also a huge advocate of racial equality during the time of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, and also extremely charitable in both time and money to the poor all around the world. The work he did beyond his boxing was the most compelling to me.

A lot of people get annoyed that athletes and Hollywood actors and actresses get paid so much money for the work they do vs. the average working man or woman. I can see why they’d get annoyed by it, as sometimes I have in the past. But I do love hearing about celebrities who use their celebrity to help those who are less fortunate, and to shed light on important social issues that segments of our population want to turn a blind eye on. As sad as it is, when celebrities pay attention to certain issues, so do the regular people who follow them, which makes all the difference.

“Why in the world are you here?”

We’re spending the long weekend in Ohio and Kentucky this Memorial Day weekend with Chris’s parents. They’ve never visited either state, so we started our day in Cincinnati at the Findlay Market, which is one of the oldest public markets in the country. It was a really fun setup that reminded me a bit of the markets we’ve seen in West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. As we’re walking through one of the markets and stop to try some cheese spreads from a vendor who owns a restaurant in Kentucky, the man makes some polite chit chat with us and asks where we are from. I tell him that Chris and I live in New York City, but his parents are visiting from Australia, so we decided to spend the long weekend in Ohio and Kentucky. He gives me a very puzzled look, and he says as he gives a little laugh, “I’m not trying to be rude, but why in the world are you here?” He elaborates that he’s confused as to why people who are visiting the U.S. from Australia would want to visit states like Ohio and Kentucky; he’d think that people from such an interesting country (“interesting” for Australia is debatable) would want to visit the more popular and well known states, like California or New York. And for Chris and me, how did we even think about flying to Cincinnati of all cities to visit? I tell the man that we are trying to see as much of the country as possible and see what everyone has to offer. I also let him know that we’re doing our second day trip to Kentucky tomorrow. He smiles and says he likes my attitude and that he hopes we enjoy our time in his town.

The man was clearly being modest, but maybe he just doesn’t know what makes his home town so great. Maybe no one really gets why anyone would want to visit their relatively small home town. But I still believe every place has something special about it. Maybe everyone in these ‘smaller town’ areas needs to have a little bit more pride about where they are from. I’d be so irritated all the time if I had to say things like, “Why would you want to visit (where I am now that I represent)? Don’t you want to visit (insert some other glitzy, bigger city nearby)?” It’d be as though I have little self worth.

Fridays before long weekends

Fridays before long weekends are typically dead days at every office I’ve ever worked at. If employees have not taken the day off or decided to work from home (“work” is used quite loosely in that statement), they typically are at the office and only half there in mind and in action. No one really wants to be there, but they know they have to be, otherwise it gets counted as a paid time off day, and no one really wants that unless they are definitely doing something they deem “worthy” of a paid day off. Today, about half the office was actually in the office, but given the number of meetings and the chaotic chatter throughout, it was clear no one was that busy today. I ended up leaving the office just past 3pm. My clients had either all taken the day off or left their offices by 1pm to officially start the long weekend.

It ends up being a wasted work day, a day where you are working in name only but you don’t really get much accomplished. In that event, why don’t companies just give the Friday before long weekends off? I guess if they did, workers may just got lazy even earlier on the Thursday before, and then the cycle of laziness would just continue. There’s no incentive to work hard on the day before a long weekend, so as a group of people, we just don’t.