The official shrine of Tim's e-peen.

A quick mental monologue:

So I’ve recently made a graphical overhaul for my blog. I must say, it does seem a bit barren. However, I’m currently in the process of designing a new header, as well as more pages and new content. I was thinking of perhaps adding a music and writing section, but am not sure at the moment. I’ll figure it out eventually.

I do like the color combination, though.

At work today, there was a Halloween potluck. Pretty much everyone in my department participated, bringing food, drinks, and whatnot. When the clock hit 12:00pm, the entire office stampeded towards the large conference room loaded with employee-made foodstuffs. I, however, did not participate. I humbly clocked out, walked to my car, and drove to Micky D’s (McDonald’s).

I ordered my personal favorite: 20 piece chicken nuggets.

Unhealthy for the body, yet healthy for the soul.

When I returned, my co-workers asked me why I didn’t get food from the potluck. I simply told the truth and answered, “I didn’t want to.”

Now, am I being anti-social? Maybe.

Is there anything wrong with that? Perhaps, by society’s standards.

Do I care? Absolutely not.

In fact, I find that with deviation, there is creation. When in solitude, I find that I’m much more productive and proactive in capturing those elusive moments of creativity.

Right now, I’m sitting in my room, cats beside me, thoughts bouncing around my mind. My roomates are at a school Halloween party. While they invited me to go, I turned them down so that I could write and brainstorm. I plan to work on a second blog, as well as work on recording some music for a cover. Maybe I’ll even get in touch with my friend Serene for some vocal work when it’s done?

There’s numerous things to do, but for now I’ll relax. It’s Friday after all.

So far so good for a productive weekend!

"I guess it's Monday again."

Lately, I realize that I’ve been asphyxiated by life — or more specifically, the hallucinogenic ideologies of success imposed by the pressures of everyday society.

What is success, anyway?

Sometimes I wonder what my real priorities are. I want to follow my passions, but I need to be financially secure.  I find it’s hard to focus on my passions knowing that I live paycheck to paycheck. When I take my lunch, I often pass by others on their lunch. Just by looking at them, I get the feeling that they don’t often have these types of worries. Their clothes, their car, their sleek iPhone 4 — all of these things tell me that they’re doing alright. At the same time, however, I wonder. Are these individuals happy? Did they follow their passions and dreams? Or perhaps they’re simply content with being successful.

I want to be successful. That’s right, I’m not going to lie. I’d love to have the status and material wealth that’s synonymous with being successful. Unfortunately, I’m host to an internal struggle that will not cease. I will not settle for a meaningless job, regardless of the pay. I will follow, explore, and develop my passions. I will make a difference. All this time, I thought I was in need of a way out; an easy exit.

What I really needed, however, was to breathe.

To be quite honest, I think a lot. Probably more than most. I think retrospectively, prospectively; I think about now. I have this habit of analyzing everything. I’ve been this way since I can remember. In fact, I’ve had a recurring dream for about 20 years of my life:

It's kinda like this, I think.

I’m in a monochrome sandbox. As I’m sitting in this sand box, I see a shovel and a pail. They’re sitting in the sandbox with me; the shovel, resting itself on top of the pail, like a pair of hashi (chopsticks) resting over a bowl of ramen or rice. I never pick up the shovel or the pail. I just stare at it. And that’s it.

When I wake up, I instantly know it was that dream. It doesn’t matter if I sleep for 7 hours or 7 minutes, the dream is exactly as is, every time, like a residual haunting. I’ve analyzed this dream so many times, yet I still don’t know what it means. There’s just too many possibilities. It reminds me of Inception‘s “limbo” state (Inception was a fantastic movie, by the way). However, I digress from the main idea of this post.

Yesterday, I re-met a friend, and it’s been on my mind for a few hours now. It wasn’t my preferred in-person, 1-on-1 type of meeting, however. We met while playing Starcraft 2 online, which might seem kind of lame. Regardless, an encounter is an encounter. As we talked, however, it became increasingly surprising to me how much distance didn’t exist between us. We talked about where we were in life, and provided numerous single sentence summaries of the years that had passed in between then and now. You see, we used to be close friends. However, due to the clique-iness of high school, a certain girl, and numerous events that occurred back then, we gradually grew apart until we became enemies weren’t friends anymore.We played aggressive pranks on each other, trash talked each other, and pretty much lost respect for each other. I must say, I hate drama.

Zoom back to today.

A Starcraft 2 representation of high school drama.

I felt feel very strange about the whole thing. When I think about it, the whole situation seems to be evidence that time does heal, assuming there was ever any injury at all. I don’t know how, but for some reason, it’s like we never had that tension between us at all. Perhaps the tension was all in my mind? Yet, I recall him showing the same signs of distaste towards me in high school that I displayed towards his clique. Regardless, I like to think we grew out of it. I admit, I don’t talk to most of my high school friends anymore. I mean, while I do hang on to a few friends who have been very dear to me over the years, I rarely, if at all, talk to even a fraction of the friends I once had in high school. When I reflect upon and analyze my relationships in general, I notice that I put very little effort into maintaining old friendships.  While some may see this as lazy and downright anti-social, I realize that in doing so, I indirectly filter my relationships that I’ve developed over the years. I notice that those relationships that were founded on small talk, class conversation, “fitting in,” and overall fake-ness withered and died rather quickly. The relationships that were forged through sincerity and honesty, however, were the ones that persisted.  I can confidently say, “Hey, I actually care about my friends.” Those who really know me can attest to that; they know how much I care.

Currently, I think it’s safe to say that my long lost buddy and I are still friends, despite a turbulent past. We’re not enemies, we’re not rivals, and most importantly, we’re no long peer-pressured into that clique-esque mindset; we’re older now, with our own independently driven and rational minds. We’re different, but at the same time, I feel an old familiarity; an old feeling that’s reminiscent of that monochrome sandbox in my dreams that  I re-analyze time and time again as the years go by. It’s hard for me to explain, but it’s like leaving a house and coming back to it years later. The outside looks the same, but when you enter it, it’s not the house you remember. In fact, it’s completely different. It’s not a bad change, however, but rather quite the opposite; a change for the better.

Finally, during this moment’s final retrospective thought, I ask myself a simple question, in an attempt to connect a past me with a present me:

Would I ever give my enemies old acquaintances another chance?

Surprisingly, yes. I think I would. And the best part? I feel like a better person simply because I can.

Oh, and by the way, today’s my mom’s birthday. Happy birthday, Mom. 🙂

Those were the last of several lines of encouragement I received from an eccentric, yet extremely hospitable Mr. Davis (whose son just received his PhD… congrats!) before I left the odd, yet enlightening social gathering I was reluctant to attend (a story for another time). He admitted that he was crazy, and that’s what it takes to keep an individual sane. Had I been a few steps behind my current  standing in life, I surely would not have agreed.

I think I’m definitely crazy. If I wasn’t, I would have no desire to express myself. The way I see it, every artist has a bit of madness in them; a chaos within the mind. Whether the platform is art, music, writing, or whatnot, I feel that this madness is the only constant. You know, I’ve tried a wide range of expression platforms. At first, I loved to draw. There’s something very organic and sensual about the visual expressiveness of drawing.

One of my early anime sketches.

However, I never really felt that I was good, or even decent/average at drawing. After seeing the art of some of my friends, I was immediately humbled. At the time, I took an incredibly strong interest in anime and anime-style drawing. There was something about it that was so cool. I mean, it wasn’t just regular drawing… it was Asian drawing. Was it something I could be proud of? Perhaps. At the time, I never really gave it much thought. It wasn’t just art; it was anime. Asian anime. And because of that, it was cool. As you can imagine, I tried to learn how to draw anime. For some reason, however, I was never satisfied with my work. I never understood why my drawings were so… bleh. Was it because I lacked the talent? Or even worse – was I not Asian enough to draw anime? Some of my friends said I just needed practice. However, to be even more honest… I just didn’t think I was born with the artistic talent.  My creative mind wasn’t programmed that way. Well, at least that’s what I tell myself. Regardless, I still feel inclined to do the occasional sketch, or perhaps even a full-fledged drawing, provided I ever happen to reach  an extremely high level of boredom. Perhaps I’ll even get back into drawing anime. Who knows? While I’m not strongly into the anime style as I used to be, I still appreciate it, along with other reality-warping, stylized types of drawing. While I’m currently working on reworking my art style, there’s still much, much work ahead of me, assuming it ever gets done.

Music is a completely different story, however. I’ve been playing music since middle school (pretty late, compared to many of my peers). Up until the middle of high school, I never thought of playing music as any different than any other  academic class – like English or math, for example. I had played clarinet back then. However, as I progressed, I realized that I was unable to consistently play high notes, as my fingers were too small to completely cover the air-holes. Eventually, I stopped playing. When I started high school, I enrolled in the orchestra. There, Mr. Crawford taught me how to play the violin. While difficult, it was intriguing. I wasn’t a good player, but I enjoyed playing with the orchestra, despite my lackluster contribution to our sound. However, it wasn’t until roughly sophomore year of high school that I utilized music for purposes of expressing myself; enter the guitar. I first picked up the guitar after I was grounded from video games by my dad for getting crappy grades. At the time, video games were my life blood, my escape from reality, my entertainment, my goal. I won’t deny it. Sometimes they still are. At the time, however, I had nothing else to do other than school work. Long story short, I eventually found an old acoustic in dad’s office room closet. I started playing it. I still remember the pain in my fingers after playing for the first month or so. I felt kind of like Will Smith in Men in Black, after he got his fingerprints erased. Oddly enough, despite the pain, I kept playing. I played and played and played and played. And then, I found The Pillows.

The Pillows = awesomeness.

The Pillows were are awesome. They took me away from the classical, oldies, hip hop, and techno. They brought me rock. J-rock. I remember many of my peers thinking that the purpose of playing guitar was to get girls. This was not the case; not my case. The sound of rock was the audible frequency of rebellion. A solid “fuck you!” in  E minor pentatonic. I loved it. In fact, I remember stashing my lunch money to save up for my own guitar. Not a sellout, cornball acoustic, might I add… no, no, no. I saved for an electric guitar. A white Squire Stratocaster. A rock guitar.

I’ve  grown very, very much (musically), since those days. Now, I play many genres, learn the styles of many guitarists, and slowly but surely perfect my technique. However, while I may have several guitars, several amps, and several gigabytes of different music to learn and draw from, one thing remains constant. Expression.

A white Squire Stratocaster... much like mine.

While I love expressing myself through music, I have to be human. I have to be realistic. And I must say, I hate it. Let’s face it. I am not a rock star. I don’t make millions. I need to pay bills. I need to survive. Compromise is brutal sometimes, I think. I work a robotic job for robotic hours for a crappy wage. However, this routine keeps me fed, sheltered, and through filtered eyes, independent. However, I am not satisfied. The madness – the chaos in my mind, continues. Enter my old, yet new expression platform – writing.

I studied writing throughout most of my academic years. English classes yielded my highest grades in high school. I majored in English at both PCC and UCI. To me, English classes were about writing, and writing was strictly academic. However, if there was any academic subject or area of expertise that I possessed an affinity for, it was writing. In the context of school, however, I hated writing. It was lame. Being forced to write about stuff you don’t care about sucks. It’s boring. Writing to express yourself, however; now we’re on to something.

Poet/Author Angela Koh.

As much as I’d like to say all of my ideas are my own, I can’t. That’s a lie. My recent out-of-character, yet strangely sincere interest in writing was not an engendering of my own accord, however, but a(n) reaction inspiration by someone else’s – namely an inspiring individual named Angela Koh. Like I, Ms. Koh also earned a BA in English; another scholar of the liberal arts. However, there is a HUGE difference between her and I; she actually did something with it. Angela is an aspiring established writer, at least by my standards. Her words are well chosen, polished, and carry a characteristic of elegance, yet at the same time, she’s modest and never comes off as a literary elitist, despite her literary background and achievements. Through writing, she can express herself, both clearly and artistically, in a simultaneous fashion. She enjoys writing, yet it is what she does. She is a writer. In a modern world full of self-deceit, quick fixes, and lazy compromise, this is strange to me. It deserves my respect. Go ahead, call me a fanboy. You’re just jealous. I mean, I know I am. Edward Bulwer-Lytton once said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” If this is indeed the case, Ms. Koh is very well armed.

I’m willing to work for a taste of that power. I owe my friends and family that much.