Month: August 2015

No One Is Rooting For You

Is humanity inherently good or bad?

Where does morality come from? Are certain values innate or learned? Are some individuals naturally friendly and kind-hearted while others are born to be shitheads? I think about these things from time to time.

I’ve developed the general belief that no one is rooting for you.

If you have at least one person in this world that truly and genuinely supports you and wants your dreams to come true with no strings attached then you should consider yourself fortunate.

But for the other 99% of the people you encounter in life, let me break the news to you, they are not rooting for you to succeed. Hell, I’m not rooting for you. Do you think I want your blog to blow up? Do you really think I want you to have more readers than we do?

Recently, I decided to dive into the world of photography. Why? Obviously because there’s not enough Asian photographers out there.

It only took a day or two before I encountered a few people that wanted to take a big dump all over my pursuits. No, I don’t own a fancy Canon DSLR (it’s always the Canon users), nor do I have a $2,000 telephoto lens, but what’s it to you? It’s almost as if people are afraid that you’ll be successful so they want to put out that flame of desire before it gets bigger.

Everyone has their own worldview, the set of morals and principles that guide and reinforce the way they see life. Whenever something comes along that challenges or even shatters this worldview, they feel threatened and get defensive. We saw this when Elvis started shaking his hips on TV and when Bruce became Caitlyn. The polarizing reactions weren’t a reflection of Elvis or Caitlyn; they were a reflection of the individual viewer and the discomfort they felt seeing someone living life with a different worldview from theirs.

We all want to be ourselves, do we not? We want to try new things. We have different dreams and interests. I’ll tell you this much: the bigger the dream, the more hate you’ll get from your peers, your so-called friends, and even your family. You want to be a Hollywood actor or a rockstar? Almost everyone will be waiting for you to fail. Why? Because people are risk-adverse. In their minds, they would never dare to do anything crazy because they feel like they would certainly fail, and so obviously that means you should fail too. People want to be right. They want their worlds to make sense. But what if you’re crazy enough to take huge risks in your life and they actually pay off? These people may have a hard time with that.

So just be clear on this: if you want to try anything daring in your life, just know that most people will be rooting against you. It’s not so much about you, it’s more about their own insecurities and self-imposed limitations. It doesn’t matter though, it still feels equally shitty to know that you don’t have a whole lot of support. But that’s exactly why it will feel so much sweeter if your dreams come true.

Then again, they’re probably right. You’ll probably fail. But will you go for it anyways? That’s the question.

Chris.

The Art Of Contrast

For better or worse, I’m an LA guy. I was born and raised here, having never lived anywhere else. When I hear people say disparaging things about Los Angeles, I get defensive. “People are so fake here,” or “The transportation is horrible,” they might say.

The thing is, I know these things, but you are not allowed to say them since you’re on the outside. It’s like when a man fights with his girlfriend and busts out the line, “Jesus, are you on your period?” He very well may be right, but still, what the hell does he know about the menstrual cycle? On a side note, living with Emily, I’ve learned a thing or two about that, and trust me, you’d rather not know.

Another opinion that’s thrown out about Los Angeles is that it’s a haven for artists, and more specifically, the struggling artist. This is definitely true, as Emily and I spent our weekend around the art of LA.

My brother, an artist himself, had a private show over the weekend. Again, another LA stereotype coming to fruition: you have to know someone in the know to hang out at the cool spots. But this show was as LA as it gets: an art show, famous people, a DJ booth, live music, and drinks on the rooftop. Even I felt like a tourist, observing the cultured in their native habitat. I’m glad that I like my brother’s art; it would suck if I had to force myself to support something I didn’t enjoy. But I really believe in his talent so I can give my full support with a clear conscience.

My brother's private art show

My brother’s private art show

Emily and I also spent a day at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA. Thank god we went – it was the last weekend that they were showing Kahlil Joseph’s exhibition, Double Conscience. If you’re a fan of Kendrick Lamar, this was a must see: a 14-minute film titled m.A.A.d that provided visuals to Kendrick’s 2012 album, good kid, m.A.A.d City, projected on a dual screen. The film showed video images of the hood, the ghetto, the neighborhoods between the 10 and the 91, between the 405 and the 710, if you know what I mean. But the images served to beautify an area that’s otherwise looked upon as dark and tragic, with Kendrick’s verses being played throughout. Being that good kid, m.A.A.d city is a social commentary of Kendrick’s upbringing and culture, Kahlil Joseph’s film blended perfectly with the music. Hopefully, they’ll show this exhibit again for more people to see.

Kahlil Joseph's Double Conscience at LA MOCA

Kahlil Joseph’s Double Conscience at LA MOCA

Kahlil Joseph's m.A.A.d. on dual projectors

Kahlil Joseph’s m.A.A.d. on dual projectors

Apart from Double Conscience, there was plenty of cool art on display at MOCA.

Emily admiring the work of Jackson Pollock

Emily admiring the work of Jackson Pollock

Artists are collectively unique, a different breed. It’s a feeling I can definitely relate to. After all, I do consider myself an artist of some sort. There are moments in life when I feel so weird and different from everyone else around me that I want to completely detach myself from society, go off the grid, unplug from the matrix, if you will. In those moments I believe that no one else knows what I’m going through or how I’m feeling, oftentimes including myself. I may not even know what the hell is going on but I know that there is this feeling inside of me that I want to get out.

I see these artists all around me, and yes they are all different and diverse, but really, the struggle is the same. We’re all living this life trying to make sense of it all. I read this quote once on Reddit: The meaning of life is to give life meaning. I think that’s what we’re all trying to do, make our lives meaningful in the end. It’s so easy to separate and contrast individual to individual, and I know LA is the land of struggling artists, but really, no matter where we are or where we’re from, we are all struggling artists, and the art is our lives.

Chris.

The Writer Alcoholic

Do you drink?

Certainly, if you consider yourself to be a writer, then you must indulge in an alcoholic beverage on a regular basis.

I’m not sure what this says about me, but I’ve been given alcohol as gifts from multiple people recently. Is it because they know how miserable I am? Do they know that I enjoy writing? Or have they seen me on more than one occasion being lit up and said, Hey, this guy likes to drink?

About the writing, I’ve thought about this for quite some time. Does writing and drinking go hand in hand?

There is no way I could ever write and drink at the same time. I imagine that under the influence my writing would be of the same caliber as Charlie’s from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Couple that with my hundred pound teenage girl-like tolerance and the results would be embarrassing.

I suppose I’m thinking more about the lifestyle of a writer, or on a grander scale, the artist. After all, I do consider writers to be artists of some sort. In my opinion, the greatest art comes from a place of intense vulnerability and pain. If life is nothing but puppy dogs and ice cream, then you have nothing meaningful to express. Well, that’s not entirely true – I do love me some Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and his material was as vanilla as it gets.

I’m talking about writing that transcends: stuff from the Hunter S. Thompson’s, Charles Bukowski’s, and Herman Melville’s of the world. They seemed to have lived completely miserable lives, yet out of that misery came a Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas or a Moby Dick.

This brings me back to drinking. If you travel outside of the U.S., you’ll realize that this country views drinking with a far more negative connotation than most of the world. So if we want to write more and wish to become legitimate writers, should we drink more?

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Midnight In Paris, but you really should. Yes, Woody Allen has made his fair share of duds, but this movie is more on the Annie Hall side of the scale. It seemed like when these 1920’s writers weren’t actually writing, they were drinking. One such writer, Ernest Hemingway, had a good quote about drinking:

I drink to make other people more interesting.

His buddy F. Scott Fitzgerald also championed the pastime:

Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.

I suppose what I’m really pondering is this – so many of the great writers in the past were such dedicated drinkers, so is that part of the blueprint to great writing? If I wanted to be the next Jimi Hendrix, I would seriously think about doing drugs; luckily, that’s not what I’m striving for. I do enjoy the beer, wine, and whisky, but is it time to kick it up a notch? Should I advance into drinking on the daily?

I realize these questions are somewhat silly, but still, you have to wonder sometimes. Hemingway wouldn’t have written A Farewell To Arms without experiencing the brutality of war, but perhaps the alcohol was just the thing he needed to cope with it all and organize his thoughts and feelings so that he could write about it.

It’s just a thought. Please don’t share this at an AA meeting.

Chris.

An Abbot Kinney Anniversary

So how was everyone’s weekend, good? Actually, I don’t care.

Saturday was our two year anniversary. Yes, that’s right, someone out there exists that can actually stand being with me for two years. It turns out that I’m not so bad. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I am a h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s individual, and as long as you don’t mind the chronic flatulence, I can be a good time.

Anniversary day is code for doing whatever she wants (if you’re reading this, Emily, I am totally kidding). After a relaxing morning that involved Netflixing and eating breakfast burritos, we took a drive out to Santa Monica. A few days ago, Emily found out that a Philz Coffee existed in Santa Monica. The news gave her an orgasm – a coffee orgasm, that is.

Philz Coffee in Santa Monica, CA

Philz Coffee in Santa Monica, CA

I like coffee but I go out of my way to drink regular coffee on a regular basis. What do I mean? People get extremely snobby about coffee, scoffing at commercialized, “normal” brands from their high horses. I don’t want to be that guy who’s always drinking the premier brands that the hardcore bougie coffee aficionados drink.

I must say, though, Philz does make a legit brew.

Speaking of bougie, we made our way to Venice afterwards where we spent the afternoon on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. This street is basically a hipster’s wet dream. There’s nothing but boutique shops and restaurants there. I did come across a cool men’s fashion store called The Stronghold, and Emily was able to buy some treats for our dog at Modern Dog. By the way, bringing our dog with us – not a great idea. He’s more A.D.D. than a thirteen-year old Asian gamer.

The highlight of my time there was eating a mint chip ice cream cone and witnessing an older MILF-like woman throw up on the sidewalk from drinking one too many mimosas. I wish I had captured that on camera.

A shot of Abbot Kinney Boulevard

A shot of Abbot Kinney Boulevard


Emily and Kang Kang

Emily and Kang Kang


At The Stronghold

At The Stronghold

Of course, there was traffic ready to kick me in the balls as we departed Abbot Kinney to head home. I shouldn’t be surprised at this point, but yet I can’t help but feel a bit astonished to see that much freeway congestion on a Saturday.

At night, I took Emily to a sushi restaurant in Yorba Linda called Sushi Noguchi. When we got seated, the only thing on my mind was beer. We had some nice unagi, uni, salmon, yellowtail, and tuna. We were really able to taste the quality of the fish as the cuts were thick and smooth. And did I mention beer?

Cold Japanese beer on tap is magic.

Cold Japanese beer on tap is magic.

All in all, it was a good day. I won’t get into the gifts or what we hand-wrote in the cards that we gave each other. I’m also not going to mention the fight Emily and I got into that day (fellas: a girl will freak out on you from time to time; just weather that storm and roll on). Why spoil things, y’know? I just want everyone to know that it was a nice way to celebrate two years of relationship bliss. I didn’t have to break the bank (though that sushi wasn’t cheap); all we had to do was change it up a little bit. It was quite nice, minus the traffic.

That pretty much sums up Los Angeles – nice, minus the traffic.

Happy 2 years to us.

Happy 2 years to us.

Chris.

Taking Chances

When’s the last time you took a chance in life?

As we get older, we get smarter.

As we get smarter, we become more analytical.

As we become more analytical, we start to recognize the risks more readily.

Risk. That’s a dangerous word. There’s a fine line between using risk to our advantage and having it cripple us. I think it’s human nature to start focusing more on what could go wrong than what could go right as time goes on.

I read a piece of advice once. It said, “In a year from now, you’ll wish you started today.” Are there certain things in life that you really want, but are afraid to take a chance? Maybe it’s a career change. Perhaps it’s asking that girl out that you’ve had a crush on for months. It could be an investment of some sort.

If you’re reading this, I hope you take a few moments to look at your life. If everything is exactly right where you want them to be, then I salute you and say cheers. But for the rest of us, surely there must be something in our lives that seem too risky to chase. Now ask yourself, “Why aren’t I going for it?” What’s the worst that could happen?

We’re all living this life in search of something. Some are searching for happiness, some seek a higher power, and some want their lives to mean something greater than themselves. Whatever it may be, there will probably come a time when a chance needs to be taken, where failure is definitely possible. That’s when you’ll have to make the decision to go for it or not.

As for me, I hope that I take the motherfucking chance.

Chris.

Sleepwalking In Traffic

Traffic sucks.

Day after day, I sit in my car, switching between the brake and the gas pedal in a sea of vehicles that move about as slowly as our lives seem to move in that moment. I can feel a glaze falling over my face as I enter a trance-like state, fueled by monotony, mindless.

I’ve sat through traffic so often that all the days coalesce into a singular memory. I can’t distinguish one day from another. It feels like I become a sleepwalker driving a car among other sleepwalkers.

The word sleepwalker reminds me of a song – not necessarily the famed Santo & Johnny tune, “Sleepwalk,” which is such a classic that, whether we know it or not, it’s burned within our collective subconscious – but the song “Sleepwalker” from the movie her, composed by Arcade Fire, one of my personal favorite bands.

Speaking of her, that has to be my favorite movie of this decade. The story is set in the future, but really Spike Jonze is depicting modern relationships – what people are going through today.

I see, hear, and read about it all the time. People are lonely; in a world that “connects” individuals through more mediums than ever before, these mediums are the exact thing that push people away from each other. Our Facebook friends aren’t friends and our Instagram followers are just stats. Whether we know it or not, we are dehumanizing each other via cyberspace.

Dating is confusing. No one knows the rules. Are there even rules? If we text each other day and night, does that count as a relationship? What are we to make of the face to face interactions that are so different from the online exchanges? If we don’t want to meet anyone at a bar or a club and we don’t feel comfortable using these online dating platforms, what do we do?

Which brings me back to traffic. I live in Los Angeles, where everyone drives and usually alone. Everyday I am stuck moving like molasses on a freeway crammed with other solitary drivers. We’re all heading in the same direction, yet we’re going to different places. The people driving next to me are always random people whom I know nothing about, but we share a space for that moment in time.

And that’s life, isn’t it? It’s a bunch of people sharing space. We’re busy with places to go and we hardly take the time to be in the moment. We’re so caught up in our own shit that we don’t empathize or humanize in our minds the people around us. It’s like we’re constantly in the same state we’re in while driving: sleepwalking in traffic.

Hopefully, one of these days, we’ll wake up.

Chris.

Depressing Bar Talk

Is there anything more therapeutic than whisky? Apparently not.

Why spend thousands of dollars to verbal diarrhea all over some asshole who spent hundreds of thousands himself to be a professional listener? In all fairness, I’ve never seen a therapist before, and I don’t judge or wish to disparage anyone who believes in therapy. I’m sure it works for many sick people out there.

This is how things played out the other night. I am at a bar with my friends. You’d think that we should be having fun conversations, or that my single friends would be trying to mingle with other ladies.

But no, since we’re a bunch of dorky Asians who collectively have the game reminiscent of Steve Carell’s character in The 40-Year Old Virgin, we end up talking to each other all night about depression.

I made the brilliant move of bringing this question up to the guys. On a scale of 1 to 100, how happy would you say you are with your life? I know, I am such a douche, but hey, it was the Macallan, I swear. I love Macallan.

I had it in my mind that out of everyone in the group, I was certainly the most depressed. I wouldn’t even consider myself a pessimist or a cynic, but yet I am growing more and more aware of this emptiness inside of me that is becoming more cavernous by the day, and it’s not because I’m dieting either.

To my surprise, however, I come to find out that my friends are pretty fucking depressed themselves. Good times. Positive vibes all around.

That night, there were probably around 200 people at the bar. I’m pretty sure that my friends and I were not the only depressed souls drinking our sorrows away. In fact, I’d venture to say that at least half of these fuckers shared the same feelings of melancholy and emptiness as we do.

What’s even crazier is that so many people are probably depressed and they don’t even know it. People have too many responsibilities and their dance cards are too full to even recognize that their lives suck. If you’re working fifteen hours a day, where is there any time for reflection or self-evaluation? I get it – there’s no time to be depressed.

Or maybe they’ve been sucked into the monotony of life for so long that they don’t even think about anything. Life has become a routine: we get up, go to work, come home, watch TV, eat, shit, and sleep. And that’s all there is to it. We grow older and the dreams we once had when we were younger fade into the grayness that surrounds everything.

Which comes back to me. Why the fuck am I depressed? I have everything a guy could ask for. I have family that’s present in my life – a little too fucking present but that’s neither here nor there. I am in a loving relationship that’s great – so great that we can blog together, I suppose. I have good friends that I can rely on. I have a shit job that pays pretty well.

So should I even be depressed? Is this some first-world problems bullshit? Am I just being a bitch?

I usually come back to this scenario – If my life ended today, would I be satisfied with how things turned out? I must say, I would definitely feel like I left a lot on the table if it was game over now. There’s so much more that I could be doing than what I am doing now.

I have this conversation with Emily constantly. Sometimes I feel bad for her because she has to listen to my bullshit, but I listen to her bullshit too so I suppose we’re even. The thing I’ve noticed about depression is that oftentimes it comes from a perspective that life can’t change and that there’s not much we can do about it.

With this in mind, I should take comfort in knowing that I am taking strides to take more control over how my life story is being played out. Yes, I feel depressed at times but I don’t feel eternally hopeless. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? I don’t really know, but I’m going to find out.

And to think, all this shit came up at a bar. I guess guys do talk about other things than girls.

– Chris.