I see an expanse between us, sometimes a salty sea, others a peaceful lake.
I see an expanse in that twinkle of your eye, where the light hits from the sun and it gleams and you smile.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
You Should Live in a Big City
You don't want anything in particular out of life... you want it all.
You crave new and exciting experiences. And you get bored fairly easily.
Only very big cities can keep you entertained and stimulated.
Friday, May 30, 2008
I entered for an autographed copy of the latest Emily Griffin novel. Since I am currently revising a mainstream fiction novel (with Asian American chick lit aspects), Griffin's genre is important for me to keep up to date on.
Speaking of which - anyone have any publishing connections who is looking to represent a strong, important new voice?
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Two weeks ago I debated the virtues of the finance social networking sites Geezeo vs. Wesabe. I just could not tell which was more suited for me. So I joined both.
In five minutes I had my answer.
Wesabe's clean, understated presentation on the outside turned out to be just sparse. There were limited options; setting a goal, for example, a feature common to both sites, takes you to a group page on Geezeo replete with a percentage meter measuring your success and an accompanying discussion board. On Wesabe, it garnered you a button graphic.
I wanted Wesabe to be better, I really did. I wanted it to blow Geezeo out of the water with its sophistication. I wanted to sip chai with it in the house masters quarters like I did at Harvard, laughing at safety schools like ITT Tech and Yale.
Keeping Up With the WongsThe urbane reputation does hold in the realm of discussion. The message boards at Wesabe are chock full of rich, interesting and - most importantly - useful information. One of the most prolific discussion threads is a salary and debt survey that satisfies our most primal curiosities: how are the Wongs and Krishnamurthi's doing and are we keeping up?
Participants were refreshingly frank, breaking down their net worths into income and each type of credit owed. I felt jealous about the stay-at-home mother who bragged about her husband's $190,000 income and their zero debt (granted, they have three children leeching his earnings, which I take no small pleasure in.) I was likewise secretly smug hearing about the graduate student couples who make do on $30k combined while incurring student loans and making car payments. Thank goodness H completed his masters years ago! How smart I am to marry so late! (Alright, I am not that old, but you all know my frenzy to commit myself to holy institutionalization.)
With topics as pricey as buying a first home to weekly expenditures on food, Wesabe's discussion threads provide a reality check, even if the demographic is skewed towards those who would use financial planning tools in the first place. And what other demographic do we need ? Is that not who we are in this context after all?
Geezeo vs. Wesabe: The Winner...Sort OfAlas, good conversation alone cannot a financial site make. In the end what cinched the deal came down to the meat: the product itself.
Geezeo simply had what I was looking for.
My purposes for joining are 1) to see all of my finances in one place 2) to budget.
1) Both sites are a bit clunky when it comes to consolidating. It takes a while to retrieve information from your financial institutions and Geezeo still cannot display my credit cards. Data is not automatically refreshed; you have to ask Geezeo to sync with your accounts each time you sign in, which again takes time. (I imagine this has something to do with security; you do not want a third party security site to access your information constantly.)
In any case, this is faster than Quicken or hand tallying, so I cannot complain.
2) As I suspected, Geezeo's budgeting tool singlehandedly stole me from my Wesabe fetish. Geezeo has a more comprehensive line of products that address the needs of the consumer like me.
Eating All My CakeIn short, Wesabe is like the friend of a friend who feels chummy and you wish you could work with. I like that the CEO, Marc Hedlund, participates in the discussion boards regularly, offering frank disclosure of his personal spending habits and increasing the feeling of "we're all in the same boat." I was mostly drawn to the fact that Jason Knight appeared to be a CEO of color. Unfortunately he has had to step down due to his son's illness. Details are on their blog where you can leave your prayers and wishes for them.
Despite its fewer users than Wesabe, Geezeo feels impartial to me, although co-Founder Peter Glyman was the first to court my "business", commenting on my Week 19 post within minutes of its publication. (For fairness - Wesabe's Marc Hedlund wrote me a direct message as soon as I followed Wesabe on Twitter.) Geezeo's crowd so far seems to be young and white and its New England addy only supports that image. Whereas the San Francisco-based Wesabe sports Asian names on its blog comments, making me feel like I belong.
Thus, I have decided to use Geezeo as my financial planning tool. I will retain my Wesabe account where I will continue to read their blog and participate in their discussions while keeping an eye out for product development.
I have only been a member briefly and I will update when my experiences change or grow. For now, I wholeheartedly endorse both these sites and encourage consumers to try out and see which one works best for you.
Here is to our financial mastery during this
The Geezeo Report
Geezeo vs. Wesabe
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I joined Twitter nary a few weeks ago and since then two* men posted accounts witnessing violence against women or the aftermath. Given the 140 character limit, male posters have accommodated by stripping "tweets" (=twitter entries) down to bare facts. Like my recent coffin-in-a-truck tweet, the brevity works in service of humor, the martini kind. When reporting trauma or conflict however, the effect is disturbingly different.
A lack of commentary is simply cold; in the second account the perpetrator made a verbal racial assault on two males but enacted the physical violence only upon a woman, yet this fact was not highlighted.
The first poster went so far as to call his account "an interesting 911 call". What is interesting about a beaten up, half-naked woman, I cannot seem to find. (I removed that poster from my "following" list.)
I find the blase treatment of these incidents unsettling and traumatizing. Despite the hearty attempts by America, I am not media-numb. Sensationalism has the effect of nauseating me, not titillating.
These testimonies are also personally distressful, as they recall my own two assaults in San Fakecisco in broad daylight, with bystanders watching or commenting and none coming to my aid. I pray for both the women that these posters witnessed and the countless many that do not get Twittered about.
Awareness about misogynistic violence is so dated it almost seems unnecessary to mention. But it has not ended. I am far from my feminist college days, to me it is a dirty "f" word. But I will speak strongly when I see patterns based on race or gender that have chilling results.
We are not done, people. Let us wake up from our slumber when it comes to violence, especially against females.
Go here (National) and here (Asian women in NY) to help.
*thus a pre-trend
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
You Are 30% Left Brained, 70% Right Brained
The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.
The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Twentysomethings I speak with here agree that L.A. is a lonely city. The entire entertainment industry is a wash (what, you can't help my career? forget it!) and the driving culture makes it difficult to just walk around bumping into people the way you can in the City*.
The only people we interact with now are from work and if your workforce is filling out AARP membership cards then you are out of luck indeed. With a boyfriend out of town and a roommate/sole friend who works an opposite shift, I pretty much have zero social life.
Fortunately I found not one but two awesome Asian chicks in my office complex. I took one to a screening this week and had lunch with the other and her intern yesterday. Yay estrogen!
One of them has been particularly helpful this week by normalizing what I would normally take to be turbulence. That is all that is needed to be said, as the chilling NYT article by former Gawker editor Emily Gould on oversharing reminds me. (I am not linking to it because that would only fuel the media whoring in a paradoxical way.)
(Yes, I had declared May to be Money Month. But God does not go by our plans, does s/he/it?)
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I am officially a Stumbler - as addictive as Twitter - we will see if it is even harder to kick.
Under "writing", I found this site. It gives you a one word prompt and then you have 60 seconds to write about it. I actually like what came out of me. I have not written creatively in so long...(not sure if a blog counts)
I am reproducing my short-short story here:
prompt word: cycle
Steven bought a blue Schwinn for his sister from Goodwill for twenty dollars, brought it to the bike commune where he "worked" for parts but no wages and fixed it up himself. I've been the only one riding it -and writing it- since.
Grab a button and join the network of high quality blogs with low traffic. Content over numbers, yesiree.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Wednesday in 'won' word. (That's how Selena and her brothers pronounce it):
Monday, May 19, 2008
More ways to help.
I am joining the three days of mourning that began this afternoon, exactly one week after the quake.
One billion people mourning for three minutes:
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Things are stressful!
My boyfriend just moved out of the state and is actually still in the process of moving. It is a two or three step process that I am involved in.
I started a new job recently - full-time, corporate in an office with stale air and buzzing machines - so not me. My boss, who I delightedly thought was gay, gave me inappropriate once-overs all last week and apparently is not. (Selena: I knew that's why you were hired!)
I am needing to sort things out with two of the people closest to me.
The pressure from the week seeped into my weekend with H. On his end, he showed up after a long drive with a terrible backache, exhausted from his own super busy week in 1) his new city 2) his new office.
We tried to go to the beach yesterday to chillax (yes I still use that word) and got as far as laying down our towels and running into the ocean before having to return my scratched self home for some antisepticizing.
Somebody cut us a break!
Grudgingly and muttering, I turn to the antidote that all those self-help blogs and books espouse: gratitude.
Today I am thankful for:
beautiful nice decentpretty morning that I get to see because I cannot sleep from all the thoughts on my mind my boyfriend being here, even though he has to leave later today
- my boyfriend being here
- my best friend for cooking sloppy joes for me by request this week
- my boyfriend in general
even though he drives me crazy
- good health
- safety and good health for my family
- working cars
Universal and Divine Spirit, let me be One with you and feel the unity that is between me and those close to me. Let negative feelings arise and float away without any grasping. Let me remember that I am not those feelings. Let me be loved.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
H and S leave for the beach. They return less than two hours later.
Selena: You're back already?
S: I got scraped pretty bad.
S shows her the catty claw marks and pebble designs on her right hip and stomach.
Selena: How did you do that?
S: Body surfing.
Selena: You are so hard core.
It turns out Manhattan Beach is full of riptides and broken shells. Literally pouring salt into my wound.
Mother Ocean and I are tight like that.
Friday, May 16, 2008
On Monday, the day of the earthquake, I was having a fantastic coaching session and wanted to write the Lotus. She wrote me not 30 minutes later, asking about my family in China.
It was not until the next day as I drove home from work that I realized what she was referring to. NPR broadcasted a previously recorded feed from one of the disaster sites. The reporter followed a mother as she searched the rubble for her 2-year-old son that she had dropped off at daycare that morning.
He said "Mama don't go, don't go."
I had to turn it off. When I cry I cannot drive and I had to get myself home in particularly tricky traffic.
Hearing my mother's tongue drove this event home more tenderly and painfully than I can describe. It calls upon the line in my heart that is directly connected to the roots of my people.
(For the record, the little relatives I do have in China are far from the quake.)
So much mourning and we are barely hearing about it. I am calling on my readers and my friends to pray, donate and send your love.
God thank you for keeping my family safe. I cannot describe the grief I feel for my people. Please help. Please help.
Go here to help.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Last week I mentioned that money is spiritual. Money is also social!
I am hot on the jocks of the recent trend in social networking finance sites. I am deciding between the top two: Geezeo and Wesabe. Both offer a dual-pronged service:
- Financial Planning
They consolidate all your accounts in one place so you know what comes in and what comes out, down to the last penny.
- Money Buddies
Saving like a Scrooge and confessing spending sins = group activity
And of course - both sites are free.
Why I like Wesabe:
- The CEO picks up your phone calls. I may give this a try this weekend and report back.
- There is a yelp-like user rating system that gives recommendations for cheaper alternatives to vendors you use.
- The blog and advice seem more sophisticated than Geezeo (whose advice sometimes sounds like it came out of a Teach Your Kids What Money Is primer)
- They operate entirely out of investor capital and not advertisement.
- They have a gazillion options for security that doesn't involve third-parties receiving your financial information.
- They have way more members than Geezeo - the force of numbers makes me trust them.
Why I like Geezeo:
- They really push the community feeling. Their groups are in the forefront, seem more organized, and are classified under really common financial goals, such as "Paying Off Student Loans".
- Confessionals - watch everyone's spending shame!
- Big colorful graphic markers show how much of your budget you have already spent. (As someone who shops at IKEA kids department, this alone makes me consider Geezeo.)
I am not huge on the social network thing (which is probably why my readership is so "cozy"), so that aspect of Geezeo is not a main draw.
Marketers can learn from the branding skills of both companies (and my brand-analyzing prowess, thank you :P).
I am immediately drawn to Wesabe having a face (Jason Knight, CEO) and its more upscale, bare bones image. Geezeo with its round splashy buttons and hip-hop lifestyle (don't you hate when people use that term?) is definitely eye-catching. The fact that these titans-to-be have managed to differentiate themselves in an intuitive way is product promotion genius.
So - any input on who I should choose?
Well if America really needs to inch forward like this...
Californians can celebrate in these cities.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
FYI: We tried to go to Red Mango first but the one down the street from me is still under renovation.
Monday, May 12, 2008
S: girl that is NOTHING. Me and Selena's kitchen is like a mousetrap game with very dire consequences. Yet we insist on continuing to cook in it.
Karyn: i guess i don't have to feel wracked with guilt then over this tornado zone. . . some of you should post pictures so that i can have a frame of reference, something to compare my current state of disorganization with. . .
Selena's old roommate's stuff + boxes I still have not unpacked from my move...in February:
And I cannot even show you the boxes of H's stuff from his move that are sitting on our balcony. By the way, what do you feel when you hear a structural engineer say, "Uh oh, these boxes are too heavy for the balcony. Ah, just leave it." ?
Because I feel rampant panic.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Finances have been on my mind lately, probably due to H bugging me nonstop about them. (I had no idea someone could use the word "budget" in so many situations.)
My 2008 horoscope also indicated that May would be a belt-tightening month and I can see why - my coaching training is expensive in that really unfun way.
On top of that, my impacted wisdom tooth has sprouted a pleasing periodontal disorder that causes me to bleed from the gums. Ah periodontitis, how intimate are thee! I had to scramble to purchase a dental plan so I can pay for some tooth fixin'. (This is where H smoothly turns my plight into a stump speech for Obama - or any candidate that supports universal health care at this point.)
With student loans smiling cheerfully at me and a weepily high credit card bill this month from coach training tuition (and please will no one even mention the economy any longer) - I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind.
You Can't Eat GodMoney is such a hot topic in spirituality. Buddhists remind us that desire, particularly for the material, will always lead to suffering. Christians write droves of books about monetary stewardship and echo the sentiment not to get too attached to being of the world. "Rich in spirit!" we all cry. Then we look at our empty refrigerators and cry in a different way. Then we turn to our boyfriends and scream for food and then they cry.
We must end all this crying!
Besides, how can you tithe for your church or purchase all those expensive Tibetan prayer flags from rip-off white-owned shops without moolah?
Turn Your Mind To Your Money
a.k.a. God Helps Those Who Pimp ThemselvesIn my last year in NY I went hardcore investor, waking every morning and staring manic-eyed at the ticker like a day trader. (This was in the days when I was still discovering trailing stops - God's best invention since...the Earth, I guess.)
I had a vital, "non-materialistic" reason for putting dollars first - I had a radical plan for paying off my graduate school loans within two years of finishing my degree. So I bought and sold like a fiend, took my loans out, entered grad school that autumn and turned my attention fully to transpersonal psychology. And while I sat cross-legged on the floor meditating with a group of smelly, rich hippies, the economic infrastructure of the United States crashed. And then I ended up leaving grad school anyway.
Needless to say, my plan for financial freedom did not pan out. I am back in the corporate world (although working for a video game company makes for a much more colorful - and explosion-ridden - office), I have a new aunt named SallieMae and my boyfriend is yelling at me to get health insurance before I die in the street.
You bet I am looking forward to becoming money savvy again.
p.s. How much do you want to bet?
p.p.s. Is that prime or +2%?
p.p.p.s. What do you mean you don't want to buy this timeshare? It's an investment for the future!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
First let me clarify: I am not naive about this matter. Like anyone from New York, I have come to allow for a certain level of loathing towards clientèle.
Anti-customer service has been cliche news since the late 80's. Expecting helpful service is like betting your money on bluechips like Pan Am. (Or now Citibank, sob!) But lately the level has become obscene.
You know how we always suspected certain grade school teachers of secretly hating children? In the last week alone I have had three encounters - two within five minute of each other - that are nothing short of outright sadism. These service people hate customers. Hell, they hate people. They probably even hate bunnies.
For your safety, I will be naming the companies. If you must call these people, pray first and pray hard.
Pathology: Love of responding to customers with immediate yelling.
Bonus Insanity: Will stay on the line arguing - in said yelling tone - for over an hour at 5 in the morning.
Pathology: Self-loathing that manifests as condescension, almost immediate, of any customers that should cross his path. Need to believe that customers have never seen glasses in their lives in order to feel knowledgeable.
Bonus Insanity: Will refer to customers as "these kids" and will stomp off without a word when his ultimate superiority is not acknowledged.
This profile is most fascinating because he is more educated than the first two and has fine-tuned his defense mechanisms accordingly.
Pathology: Repression, severe. Background allows him to utilize a faux "expert" tone. Patina of calmness belies hatred of customer if condescending content is observed.
Bonus Insanity: A creepy passive-aggressive voice that he will use when attempting to talk over you. (Silly optometrist, one can never talk over a displeased woman. Ask any husband.)
I have read that difficult people are put in your life to teach you lessons. I am sure the person who said this was bullied as a child.
I gave a brief attempt to find some spiritual meaning to these instances of unprovoked hostility. Even compassion fails here. One could say, with great magnanimity, "Oh Little K_n was having a bad day." But that does not excuse Little K_n from taking it out on the people that pay his income. How can the negative energy he showers into the world be excused?
Sometimes it is just necessary to say
I am a sensitive person. I am angry and confounded by stranger attacks. Just as I refuse to excuse the people who assaulted me in San Crapcisco because they were homeless or "probably just crazy" (the latter verbatim what the police who refused to come and escort me or even file a report said on the phone), I can not, will not excuse hostile or violent behavior towards people who are just minding their business trying to live their lives.
Take responsibility for your actions.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I want to say electronic entertainment again because it was so successful last time, but I almost feel that would be cheating because it is "easy" this week: I have been in Chicago until this evening and H will be with me until fast break.
Not to mention I already broke it today - H and I watched a few minutes of the History Channel in the hotel room before we left and we played the radio (to decidedly un-Christian hip-hop/r&b) on the drive to Midway.
To my credit, seeing God everywhere has become so natural since I began 52 Faces that it is easy to infuse my life with a recognition of the Divine hand in everything. And of course, there is still the thought "I could do more".
Christians often preach that God takes you as you are; what you are doing is enough, has always been enough - hell, you are enough. Perhaps the lesson here is to accept that even my distracted, traveling, relishing-boyfriend-in-town, still-giving-props-to-the-Divine self is, has always been, enough.
God takes me (makes me!) as I am.
So shall I.
Friday, May 2, 2008
It is the ASPCA on 92nd St. where I interned as a dog trainer for a summer. It is Candle 79, whose cuisine beats out any pretentious vegan monstrosity in California. It is the lights on Bleecker right off West 4th St. as we look for a cab. It is mixing my latest single in the loft L.S. used to inhabit south of Canal.
It is hot, crazy weather in Inwood when the fire department opened the hydrants for the kids and you could not flush your toilet no matter how many times you called the water department. It is frigid cold laughing and yelling to get the blood going as you walk on wood legs from the diner back to York Ave., no cab in sight and too close anyway.
It is mosquito spray in Brooklyn where I am starring as the Little Prince in a backyard play.
Mastercard commercial makes me teary. "Columbus Circle!" I sigh and remember my celebration dinner at Jean-Georges the first night of my new job working for a celebrity manager. (I quit after 3 days. She made Devil Wears Prada look like nursery school.)
And lately, I just try not to think about New York anymore. It is too painful. It is too past.
At fraiche for dinner last weekend:
Me: I like this song.
H: Yeah? It's Kings of Convenience. They're Norwegian.
Me: I'll have to add it to my blog.
It turned out to be called "Homesick".
p.s. Buying through the link above helps keep 52 Faces chubby-faced the way H likes.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Week 16's Confessions of a Settler and its follow-up Crazy Enough to Be Committed generated spirited dialogue with my readers. Kris, the witty as hell and paler half of L.S., sent me an article from the Onion that we can all relate to. (Being able to say "my boyfriend" rather than "that guy that I had two dates with and never called me back" or "my television" - worth settling for alone!)
Kris and I had a little e-chat about settling as maturation, which I summarize with this advanced calculus equation:
Settling is not a dirty word to me because it is synonymous with contentment, satisfaction and acceptance. It is the path I have been seeking before I had the word(s) for it.
Quest to PerfectI inherited a severe case of congenital perfectionism from parents who taught me that the best is not good enough. There was a hole in my heart, a black screaming void that sucked every achievement and person who tried to love me and compressed them into more aching, unfillable want. Nothing and nobody was good enough, most of all myself.
In my Hollywood days I had the great pleasure of taking a screenwriting class with a dear soul (of all industries to find one!) named Albert Wong. At the reunion at our teacher's house I remember curling into the couch while Albert sat on the floor. I must have been spouting my ambitions, of wanting and needing more when Albert turned to me, held a hand out and said in his soft prophecy voice, "I think, you will never be satisfied." He then, also in his way, apologized.
"No, no!" I protested. "I think you're right!" I wanted him to keep talking; I wanted him to tell me the answer to life.
Over the years his words stayed in my consciousness. He was absolutely correct. I was dissatisfied and there was no end in sight. I had no idea what to do about it.
Sing Abundance, Start With MeIt has been a long journey to walk out of that and into the light. I had to leave people behind, including the very two that raised me in the dark. My mother still seems to live in the place of scarcity; my father appears to be making a slow, not always successful climb out of it. I am grateful for the ways he has worked furiously hard against his own egoic habit and raised me with a few mental scraps of abundance, though he himself possesses none.
I preach abundance like a zealot now, inundating this blog with as much God and love and positivity and warmth and vigor as I can to make up for the dearth that was my childhood. I write these words over and over because I will not always remember to put them into practice otherwise.
Settling is the cynic's word for abundance. It means being happy with what you have. It tells me to see the good where it lies underneath the common pattern of life. It allows me to relax and let go. It lets me just be. It quiets the chatter.
Like the man in the gospel story who decided to build bigger barns so he could store more than he needed— and as it turned out—more than he would ever need, most of us are also addicted to more.... more power, more money, more activity, more pleasure, more approval, more control, more comfort, more sensation, more security, more food than our bodies need, more possessions, more exciting experiences and even more opportunities for our children than are really necessary.
Jesus doesn’t mince words in the parable about building bigger barns; he warns, “You are rich in things and poor toward[s] God.”
Instead of feeling the pain of our emptiness and waiting on God to fill that emptiness–instead of waiting on God to save us from our false, fearful selves–most of us take matters into our own hands...Instead of waiting on God, most of us attempt to fill our inner emptiness with more, whatever the more is for us.
- Reverend Killian Noe
"Let Go and Trust God"
Satisfaction, With Ugly JeansIf I was not meant to be with H then God would take him away or let me know somehow that I should leave. So far God has not said a Word. So all I can do is thank the Universe for a mate and trust that this is the right one for me, even if I thought the right one would live in New York and talk a bit faster and maybe wear better jeans.
Albert, I am feeling a little more satisfied these days.