Dude...

When I first started to develop the characters of my book, Nightfall, I knew one of the subjects I was going to be exploring was ego, and how ego weaves its ugly opinions into their lives and shape their world. And the startling thing I've found was that part of the development wrote itself. It's character arc, how a person moves from who they are today to who they should be tomorrow. 

The story of Scrooge is a great example. When the story begins, Scrooge is greedy, hoarding his riches. Through spiritual enlightenment, namely the three ghosts, Scrooge evolves into a person who is giving and caring.

I was like that. Being Asian, I was raised to save, save, save. Before I was born, my family of six lived in a bedroom-sized apartment. My mother is a huge saver. So I grew up to be very cheap. I had an argument with an ex one time because she asked me to buy her a three-dollar bottle of water at a movie theater. I bought it, but then we fought about it because I was upset at having to spend that much money for water. Safeway sells it for less than a buck. Common!

But I realized that I wasn't poor anymore. I was earning more than enough money to live on, my savings was healthy, and I wasn't living from paycheck to paycheck. But I was still in the mental space of being poor. Luckily for the woman in my life today, I'm not in that head space anymore.

Recently, I asked a friend if I can get a ride to a dinner event. I would take Bart, a public transit system, and get off at the 16th Street station that was literally a five minute drive to the restaurant. He wanted me to get off several stations passed that because it was closer to where he lived. So I reiterated that the restaurant was only a five minute drive from the 16th station.

He then went off and said, "You're the one who needs a ride, dude. Not me, dude. Just meet us at Balboa. I don't mean to be rude, dude!"

Hmm. OK. I can understand if I was asking for rides all the time, but we hadn't hung out for a couple months, so I wasn't sure what his problem was.

Dude. Deeeoooood. Dewd. Dood. Diud. Dhude (the H is silent).

Then I remembered an incident. He had liked this girl for a while and was stalking her online. He asked her a question about a conversation she and I had had. We were talking about FOBs (fresh off the boat) and traded our experiences with them. He then asked her if he was an FOB and she said yes. He took offense to that and might have blamed me for that classification. It wasn't I who had turned him down for a date. But I think he started using the word 'dude' a lot to further himself from being a FOBby dude.

A friend and I met up with a girl one Friday evening to watch a group of bands play. I'm not a huge fan of live music, but I went because I'm always trying to break old habits and thinking. The girl was late, Asian time, and the first thing she said was, "San Francisco is so pretentious."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because the restaurants and bars are very douchery." Translation: they charged a lot. "I've been to a lot of them and they're all like that."

"How many restaurants have you been to?" I asked.

"Thirty."

There are over 4,000 restaurants in San Francisco. It's a foodie town that houses everything from food trucks to Michelin rated establishments (Translation: hella good grub). So for her to make a determination that the city is douchery from a sample size of thirty restaurants is kinda small, especially when the variability seemed to be non-existent because she's choosing expensive places, obviously.

Thinking that you deserve to eat well versus just eating good food is egotistical. Personally, I love hole-in-the-walls (not glory holes) just as much as Michelin rated restaurants.

I've always hated the corporate world. I work in it because it's just a paycheck to me. And that's what is so soul-sucking, that the work has no meaning to me. Think of a woman having sex for money, so she can eat, shade herself from the rain, feed her children. Sex should be pleasurable, be an intimate communication of the bodies, and/or maybe, depending on who came first, to procreate.

I look at everyone who seems to love the corporate world and ask myself, "Don't you all want more out of life?" I hear from old corporate execs that they should have spent more time with friends and family. And if I were to get laid off, I don't think I'd mind it so much. I would be shocked at first, but then I'd be free of my voluntary jail sentence to my 6X6 cubicle. 

All of this thinking, of course, is egotistical, like I'm too good for the corporate world. And me spending all this time writing isn't taking away from friends and family, that my writing is more important than the job that affords me to write. Well, yes, to me. But it's still ego. Knowing this truth doesn't change how I feel, but it helps take me off of my high horse. And get on a smaller one. What? It's not a bad joke!

H8

When I cast the characters of my novel, the usual suspects were the first to be chosen. Talon, is my main character, the hero, the poor soul that goes through hell. You'll have to read the book if you wanna see if he makes it back. Then there is the antagonist, Logan, who is filled with H8red. Severe H8red. And the more he thinks about it, the more the H8 encompasses him.

At first, I didn't know where that H8red came from, who or what it was about, and why he even had it. But, as I go through my own journey of being a human, I realized that H8 isn't necessarily about who or what that person H8s. Somehow their fixation is a reflection of themselves, what they H8 about themselves, or what they fear.

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Take gay marriage. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. You would think that people here are open about gay marriage. I mean, San Francisco is the Mecca of Gay Pride! But California voted against same-sex marriage. Say what?

I had a few friends who are against it. Had is the fuckin' operative word here. Why would straight ass people be afraid of gay marriage? One of the reasons (excuses) is the influence on children. That they would become gay if gay marriage was allowed. Say what?

That's kinda like saying, "If you put two vanilla ice cream scoops in one cone, the third chocolate scoop will turn vanilla." My fellow ice cream connoisseurs are gonna ask, "What if all three scoops melt?"

And that's fear. Fear reflects peoples' insecurities about themselves, whatever that may be. It sounds obvious, but fear always leads to H8. 

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to H8. H8 least to suffering.  —Yoda, Jedi Freakin' Master

I tell guys that they're good looking, or tell people a guy is good looking, and I have no insecurities in doing so. Now, people may think I like dudes. But them thinkin' it ain't gonna turn me gay. So why would I care what people think when I voice my opinion?

However, if I wasn't secure in my own sexuality, then I wouldn't even think a guy is good looking because that harmless thought alone has the potential to shatter my sexual identity, and I would resort to H8 in order to guard my ego.

I remember one of my girlfriends asked me if I was OK that a former boyfriend of hers was gay (before he came out), and that they were now besties. I told her I was fine and didn't care what her past looked like, save for killing peeps, but that's neither here nor there nor anywhere. She had issues with prior boyfriends about her past. I just had fun with it. I teased her bestie a lot when we hung out, telling him I put out, but only if I was the giver.

Sometimes, however, I can't figure out why people H8, especially when that H8 is directed toward me.

I had dinner at a restaurant with some friends. Several of us had beers, a lot of food was ordered, and the place was hoppin' with Latin music. The bill came and one of my buddies entered into an argument with the server, stating there were two extra beers on the tab. Being busy, the server got in my buddy's face and pointed at it. Oh, no he didn't. Not the pointing of the finger! The server yelled at my buddy, my buddy yelled back, and I squeezed myself in between them and said I'll pay for the beers. I felt pretty good about myself. Not that I had solved our energy crisis, nor cured cancer, nor had given birth to a child. But I used to be a tightwad about money. I just wanted to get the bill paid and move onto our next locale. 

Afterward, some of us were talking about the food and service, which weren't that great. This one girl told me that I should not publicly complain about the service, then left. My buddy who almost got into a fight looked at me and said, "Shouldn't she be H8ing on me?" Not only that, I wasn't the only one who complained publicly.

Man, she must H8 Yelp, a small time website.

A couple weeks later, she had threatened that if I'm ever around, then she wouldn't be.

Why does this little girl not like me? I don't fuckin' know. But my mind wandered back to a time where I had been talkin' to two girls, and she was the third, standing there like a third wheel, more like a flat spare tire. I paid no attention to her because she hadn't said anything. Five minutes later, she huffed off.

Had she yearned for my attention, but didn't get it, so she H8s on me now? If not, then why had she stood there like a flat spare tire? Obviously, this girl targeted me and has some serious issues. I'd understand if I'd said something lewd to her. But I hadn't. Or at least I don't think I had. Either way, her H8 for me rests within her. She'll have to deal with it, endure the heavy emotions that comes with it, and suffer through it whenever she thinks about me, raising her H8 even more. It's a freakin' vicious circle.

And that's the main issue about H8, as Yoda, the puppet, had said so long ago, in a galaxy far, far away. H8 ultimately comes back on the H8er. And the only way to cure it is to let the H8 go.

Are You A Bore?

Has a stranger ever told you to shut up and eat?

Well that happened to me and this is how I felt:

In San Francisco Chinatown, my fellow yellow peeps celebrated the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. A group of us went to dinner to celebrate, then headed out to the bay to observe the full moon. There were two large tables with twelve people each. I sat at the table where I didn't know most of the peeps and introduced myself.

Now, I find humor in everything. I'm not sure why, but I think it helps keep away the dark thoughts that tend to creep in. And it makes life a little more fun. Shouldn't that be 'funner'? No, dammit! Whoa. Issues.

There were three ladies sitting to my right, and I was cracking jokes all night. For example, one woman introduced herself to me, but I couldn't understand her Korean name. She said it sounded like Honey. So all night, I called her Honey as if we were in a relationship.

"Would you like more rice, Honey?" I asked. She laughed with her hand covering her mouth. Why do Asian women do that?

One of the dishes we ordered was Peking Duck. If you're not familiar, it's a duck that's been baked until the skin is golden brown, crispy, but still juicy. The waiter cut the skin off in small pieces so they could be placed in sweet bread that is lathered with sweet bean sauce and eaten like a slider. The waiter then took the rest of duck away.

This rook rike a flowah

"Did he just take the meat away?" I asked. "Did we just pay for the skin?"

People laughed, so I went with it, despite being actually concerned that the waiter took the meat away.

"They're going to make another dish out of it," someone quipped.

"So do we have to pay for two dishes?"

People laughed again.

"Where's the meat?" I kept saying because they weren't bringing the duck back. "Where's the freakin' meat?"

Then the guy sitting across from me said, "Shut up and eat!"

Everyone was like:

Chirp chirp

It took a few minutes before my ego sat back down, and I became myself again. I resumed joking and being sarcastic with the three ladies, and any need to verbally attack this guy had left. 

But..I'm a writer, and this is my site, so I'm gonna go third grade on his ass:

This fat turd is a fucktard, and he's missing a neck. His shoulders are tighter than a Church girl's twat. Like a dog peeing around his property, he put his arm around his wife when I looked at her. Seriously? Your penis must be tiny. She had chuckled at my jokes, holding back her laugh. For some reason she was scared to let go. Her baggy eyes seemed to contain fear. She's probably scared to be flattened by him. Why would she stay with a fucktard like that?

Keep in mind this is an abridged version.

Now, I know that was incredibly immature, hence third grade disclaimer. We as human beings have different facets to our personalies (good excuse, Jimmy). And I'll admit that I'm loud, but life is too short to take it so seriously. Look at Robin Williams. In every single interview, including the one he did with Charlie Rose, he was joking, improvising, going off-the-wall. He had his serious moments, of course. He was incredibly intellectual, but we knew him as someone with the comic genius equivalent to Nobel Prize winners, people he truly admired.

Even the three ladies sitting next to me threw jokes around, laughed out loud, and enjoyed the humor the four of us were in the midst in. And Asian women aren't known for their humor. The only one that comes to mind is Margaret Cho.

The guy who told me to shut up talked about business, work, and shit that was just fucking boring. It's the goddam weekend. Why do you wanna talk about work? And was he that insecure that he had to put his arm around his wife? I know from experience women hate that. They ain't property. 

People need to live their truths. What the hell does that mean? If you've seen Margaret Cho's stand up, she's brutally honest, especially about herself. She often makes fun of Asians, is open about her sexuality and her downfalls, and continues to express her views whether they're popular or not. So many people fall in line with societal norms that they forget to just enjoy life.

Are socially accepted norms that much fun that people wanna be caged by them?

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How Many Sunsets Do We Get?

 

How many sunsets do we get in a lifetime?

Better yet, how many sunsets do we see in a lifetime?

You'd think the answer would depend on how accessible sunsets are. I spend a lot of time in San Francisco. I love the city, the weird people, the yuppies—not really, the restaurants, niche neighborhoods, and especially the ocean. I take a lot of walks by The Embarcadero and Fisherman's Wharf. The smell of food mixed with the salty sea air reminds me of my childhood in South America. But the one thing that's a little hard to come by are sunsets. The tall buildings make the sun set around three or four o'clock.

For the past three months, I've been living in Hawaii, and the one thing I do is go see sunsets. It's different every time, it's always beautiful, and it attracts tons of tourists. Since the Waikiki beaches face westward, there's nothing to block our view of the sunsets. I'm always amazed at how much the sky we see here, at least on the beach.

But my roommates don't spend much time on the beach nor do they go see sunsets, despite the fact that we're literally a ten minute walk to the edge of the Pacific Ocean. I'd understand if they were bogged down by family, work, life. But that's not the case. I'm older than they are, so there is a part of me that understands that we only get a certain number of sunsets, sunrises, full moons, laughs, shared moments with loved ones. Instead, they spend their time drinking and partying. And that's cool. I've done my share. But that part of my life quickly waned. For my roomies, it's a slower ebb. 

Now the question becomes will I get tired of sunsets, the beach, swimming in the ocean, and communing with nature. I don't know. But I'm grateful for having seen more sunsets in the past three months than I ever have in my life. And it's apparent by the tourist turn out that they love sunsets too.

Life's a beach.