Sticks and Stones

"You care about what people think about you. I know you care," my friend told me. Not said. But told.

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I was making fun of her friend who hates my guts. She seems to have a level of Asperger's syndrome. If you're a fan of The Big Bang Theory, the character Sheldon Cooper suffers from it. He's socially awkward and has a hard time reading people.

I said, "Your friend definitely cares about what people think of her."

"No. She just hates you."

"She told you not to invite me to a networking event. That means she cares."

My friend thought for a moment. "She doesn't want to be associated with you among business people."

Smiling, I nod. "She cares."

Then my friend went on a calm tirade, telling me that I care about what people think about me. She assured me over and over that I did.

No. In general, I don't.

I have an acquaintance at the gym. One day, she was telling me about a guy who was hitting on her. And she shucked him off because she was not interested.

"Don't you feel good when a guy hits on you?" I asked.

She shrugged. "I know I look good." She does. "But I feel safe with you."

"I’m not menacing to you?"

"Well, if you're gay, then I'm safe. You won't hurt me."

I was like…

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"Yea. If you're gay, that's OK. I'm safe."

I wasn't sure why she jumped from feeling good about herself to assuming I was gay. I wanted to get back to my workout and didn't want to put forth the effort to tell her that I wasn't.

Many people initially think I'm a woman because I have long hair. I don't correct them. Their mistaken assumption won't make my penis fall off. At least, that hasn't happened.

And that's the crux of it all. What people think about you changes nothing about you. Taking offense only gives it power.

If I took offense to my gym friend, and berated her, then there's some part of me that feels insecure about my own sexuality. Or that somehow my image doesn't fulfill what I think a manly man should look like. And that's ridiculous because trying to prove to someone else that I'm not gay or that I'm manly doesn't make me any more or less of those things.

What's important is what we think of ourselves.

Let's slow down here. There are moments where I think I'm a loser for whatever reason. Maybe I'm comparing myself to someone, and I feel like crap because I'm not as successful as that person. In that moment that I feel like a loser, I'm not really a loser. It's just a feeling caused by that thought. That's it.

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However, if I continue down that road of thinking I'm a loser, then what may happen is that my actions may change. Maybe I’ll stop going to the gym. Or that I’ll get fired from my job because I don't try as hard. And my perception of reality may change. For example, I'll become angry at people because I think they're treating me like a loser. I may treat others badly as a result. All of this can lead me down the road of being and acting like a loser, which can make me angrier…it's a loop.

The moment I let go of the thought that I'm a loser, my mind will clear itself up, and my emotional state will return to peace.

Letting go is always the difficult part. I used to think that letting go meant stuffing my emotions down. That doesn't work. Imagine a heavy thought that you're carrying around in the physical form of a twenty pound weight. Now, try stuffing that weight down your pants. You might not see that weight, but it’s still weighing you down. Trust me. It ain't easy walking around with twenty pounds in your pants. I'm Asian. I know.

Letting go of a thought is like letting go of that twenty pound weight in that it doesn't weigh you down anymore. You're literally free of it. That doesn't mean you won't pick up it up again. So be aware.

You'll know when you've released yourself of that heavy thought because you don't feel it's affects on you anymore. If you merely stuffed that thought down, then you'll feel it somewhere in the back of your mind.

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We're all masters at letting go of thought because we do this every day. There have been studies that suggest that we have 60,000 thoughts a day. Holding onto each one would crush us, causing a mental breakdown. Most people don't have mental breakdowns because as each thought comes, it goes.

What tends to happen is that we focus on the thoughts that "matter" to us. If I was insecure about my sexuality, and my gym friend comes and suggests that I'm gay, then my mind will go into a whirlpool of thoughts about what she said. But I know what I like, so I have no need to confirm or deny my heterosexuality. I just want to get back to my workout.

Back to my friend who assured me that I care about what people think about me.

Generally, I don't. There are times when I do. If I'm on a date with a lady that I really like, then my ego likes to step in front of me and analyze everything that she does and says. That means I'm not listening to and engaging with my date, which likely is putting her off.

My friend is probably projecting her need for peoples' approval onto me. I know her well enough that she does put a lot of value into other people's opinion of her, so it's difficult for her to imagine how I do not.

Everybody projects at some level. If I'm watching a video of someone hiking the trail to Angels Landing, I freak out. I see a picture of a person sitting on the edge of a cliff, I freak out. Me freaking out is irrational because the threat of falling isn't present to me. I'm just watching a video or looking at a picture. But I'm projecting my deep fear of heights.

Hopefully, it's obvious at this point that reality is projected by our minds. That one person can be in misery, while the next person is experiencing orgasmic joy. And that thought is the main ingredient of our experience. This gives us a lot of power. That peace and happiness are not determined by others or by our circumstances. How peaceful we are in our minds determines that.

You Mad?

Working with a writing coach has been interesting because The Grinder, as I call her, has torn my manuscript to pieces. In other words, it sucked ass. I think the story is good but that remains to be seen. The execution of it was really bad. And I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what nor how to fix it. So I called The Grinder.

She has given me line by line critiques, and I had to decide whether to use them or not. When the critique was technical, like grammar or structure, there would be no question. I'd either make the edit or rewrite that part. However, when it came to suggestions such as logical progression of the story, or to reveal certain story elements earlier, then I'd have to take the time to think if this would work for the overall book. I'd either do the edits/rewrites, or decide that her suggestion won't work and move on.

Having done an overhaul on my book over the past two years, I needed people to read it to see their reactions, do some fine tuning. So I'm fortunate to be a part of a writing group filled with writers that are also working on their own books. We trade pages each week and critique each other's work. And it's going really well. For me, reading other peoples' works allows me to apply what The Grinder has taught me.

Yesterday was an interesting session because one of the authors challenged my critiques.

He tries to be really efficient with his writing. He doesn't use dialogue tags, which makes it difficult to know who's speaking, especially at the start of the scene. Many times I have to re-read lines to figure out who's speaking. I think making the reader work hard when they're already piecing together the images he's trying to paint isn't a good idea.

The other issue I have is he's telling instead of showing. A simple example, he often writes something like 'She lets out a sigh' instead of 'She sighs'. If he wants his writing to be efficient, then 'She sighs' is it, and the wording is stronger. Look at it this way:

She gives her man a beating

She beats her man

They're both still telling, not showing, but by linking the noun directly with the verb, the wording is much stronger. To make it vivid:

She punched her man in the face

This is a much stronger image that plays against the expectation of her kicking him in the balls, leaving us wondering why she punched him instead.

Here's another example:

She gave him a pointed look

I suggested that he show this. He then gave me a pointed look and asked what I thought that meant.

It doesn't matter what I thought because he wasn't showing, at least not clearly enough for me. She could be pointing with her forehead, chin, index finger, nostril, tongue, or tits. Or was he describing a look that was pointed, whatever that means.

Now the critiquer in me wouldn't mind this as much, but he was telling way more than showing, and I thought he needed to help the reader out a bit.

The thing is that he challenged my suggestions on his work that are just that: suggestions. It's his book. He can ignore everything I say. I have no power when it comes to his writing. Literally.

In one of my suggestions, I told him I didn't have a problem with one of his sentences, but remembered something similar that my writing coach had pointed out. He said, "She's not my writing coach." And I said, "OK," and moved on. I'm not about to argue with someone who isn't willing to listen, and again, it's not my book. I'm just trying to help.

The lesson here is that my opinion, or anyone else's, has no real power over you. And if you think there is, then you're the one giving those words power.

Sticks and stones. 

I Don't Date Asian Guys

A friend of mine accused me of being racist. Now, old school Asians tend to be racist. And in some ways, when I look at someone I do assume certain things by their actions and by what they look like, but I don't hate on them. What my friend was talking about was me being racist against my own people. Did he mean humans?

I say Herro a lot. I also look at drivers when they make driving mistakes. I slap my forehead when he's an Asian, and sigh when she's an Asian woman. A part of me is tired of comedians relying on the old stand by that Asian men have small peepees and that we own laundromats. There's no creativity when comedians say the same thing over and over. It gets boring. Though, I've yet to see a laundromat owned by a non-Asian. Hmm.

In saying this, I don't go on missions or write articles or protest against Asian stereotypes. 

In the above video, one of the women hates it when she's told to get over the Asian stereotypes. The others agree with her. How could they not? One of the bloggers is called Angry Asian Man!

However, I am one of those who would say to get over it. Guess she and I will never go on a date.

I laugh at Asian stereotypes because I do think they're ridiculous and funny. I'm not bothered by any of it, so I put little thought into any of it being true. That includes body parts, ladies. Wink, wink. Don't judge me by my small hands!

By railing against Asian stereotypes, power is given to it, perpetuating the stereotypes themselves. So in a way, the people in the first video are helping people who actually hate Asians pass along this ridiculousness.

The cool thing is that the first video came from an Asian female comedian, Jenny Yang, who I saw live in Oakland, and she makes fun of these stereotypes. But it was kinda sad to see her in that first vid because the Asians there seemed to take themselves a bit too seriously. Given their successful blogs, I guess there are a lot of upset slanty-eyed people.

Do you know slanty isn't even a word? Look it up. Well, you can't cuz it don't be exististin'. So why get upset about a word that doesn't even hold a place in the Engrish dictionary. And yes, I did type Engrish.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent -Eleanor Roosevelt

Words don't hurt. Sticks and stones, on the other hand, can break bones.

There is so much power in laughter. I think that's why I am the way I am. I laugh at a lot of things that maybe shouldn't be laughed at. I take very little seriously, including myself. But when it comes to my writing, I put my heart and soul into it: love. But that's another subject matter.

I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously -Alan Rickman