Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my journal.

15 Jan '18  — Fake it til you no longer want to make it

Pinterest is full of designs that help people copy a look they could not come up with themselves. I’ve copied designs, website layouts, food plating ideas.

All the designs I’ve copied are outside my skill level. That’s why I needed to copy–I couldn’t have developed these concepts myself.

But the more I copied, the more I identified other people’s copying. If someone was going after a particular style, I could see where they checked all the boxes especially when they were going after a style I had attempted to also copy. I started to see how the soul of the work was missing. The copies may have initial impact, but they wear off quickly, become cheap.

It’s like my mom’s Mexican burritos. She’ll use beans, rice, veggies, cheese and sour cream–and it’ll taste nothing close to Mexican. I might be hungry and the first bite will be delicious. When I pick it up again for another bite, all I taste are the individual ingredients, beans, rice, cheese. It doesn’t taste right.

Some designs are so breathtaking, they seem so simple, so harmless to copy. ‘Why can’t I have that look for my website’ ‘I should be able to impress others with that look.’ The more I harmlessly copied, the more designs I tried out. I understood more and more how short I came from achieving the styles I aspired to be associated with.

The drive comes from wanting to be liked. I want to look impressive, I want to recreate the draw behind the works that attracted me.

But now, with a full understanding that I’m incapable of achieving a quality aesthetic style that I didn’t work from scratch, I’m not inclined to try. It’s unattractive and cheap.

Also, I started appreciating my lack of skills.

My limitations help me develop a style that is genuine, honest, and all mine. It’s nice to work with what I already know, the skills I have, rather than feel like an imposter, trying to trick others into thinking I have better skills.

There’s a message that gets delivered in a piece of creative work. It’s a translation of whatever is going through a person’s mind.

I feel the same confidence as when I stopped shopping for counterfeit looks at the mall, in places like Forever 21.


14 Jan '18  — Remember being dragged to boring places as a child?

I remember my parents dragging me to different places as a child. Grocery stores, McDonald’s, Burger King, garage sales. The only place I enjoyed was the theater and the mall. In elementary school, I thought adults were wack.

‘Why are they excited about the most boring things?’ Now I understand that the conveniences brought to them via malls and Costcos weren’t always there. The grocery stores and malls delivered better options than what they grew up with.

As I’m approaching the same age, I’m wondering about children today. Are they tired of coffee shops and brunch places? Because coffee and brunch are two things that have undergone an astronomical improvement in my lifetime. After years of eating Costco bagels and pastries, I’m enjoying sourdough bread with my gourmet coffee over breakfast.

The new generation must be wondering why adults are so into places that look similar. Lofty interiors, subway tiles, wood surfaces, handmade everything…Why are these older people so into hand forged, artisanal? Haven’t they had enough romanticizing traditional methods of food and beverage prep?

‘Can I just have plain, un-special coffee? No more artisanal, no more craft–just give me something indistinguishable, with no identifiable flavor notes?’

I imagine the adults of the future requesting something different. At times, I’m starting to crave the same.


12 Jan '18  — Awkward situation #145245

I was in grad school and on an afternoon between class, I was chatting with a friend in the school courtyard. It’s a space where students gather between classes.

While talking to my friend, she spots a classmate passing by. She hasn’t seen him for a while. She introduces me and we all have a nice conversation.

This classmate of ours went to Brazil to study abroad, found the place so inspiring that he prolonged his stay. The carefree culture was a breath of fresh air. It was the first time he felt full from doing nothing but being alive under the sun. It was fun to hear his experience and to know that a location can be so transformative.

Somehow, plans were made to meet up for drinks. I wasn’t the slightest attracted to him so I assumed the feeling was mutual. Just friendly company and a good conversation.

We went to a bar and sat by the window. Mid conversation, I saw a group of friends, friends from school heading our way. I was ecstatic to see them and jumped out to say hi. Strangely he seemed reluctant.

‘They’re our classmates. Why isn’t he excited?’ I was puzzled but I brushed the incident aside. I was having a good time, we had so much to chat about.

After drinks, we walked back to our neighborhood, an area where all the students live. My building was the first stop before his.

As we finished our conversation, we sat for a bit to enjoy the warm weather. Before I knew it, his tongue was in my mouth. I was so confused. My first thought was ‘How can I get out of this without hurting his feelings?’

My response was to pretend like nothing was wrong. Play along and transition to an exit. “It would be easier than to end by saying ‘no, I am not into you’”.

I could ghost him after.

I didn’t want to receive backlash–what if he gets his feelings so hurt that he hates me enough to start rumors/make my life miserable? By ghosting, there’s technically no evidence that I didn’t like him.

I wanted more than ever not to hurt his feelings. I didn’t care so much about some random tongue in my throat, but being responsible for letting someone down? I couldn’t handle the consequences.

Now, I prefer to let people down. I’m old enough to handle the consequences. In some situations, I look forward to the backlash.

But I still remember the pity I felt for others, the imagined devastation I’d cause if I didn’t appear to love someone back. Perhaps I felt that way because I projected the devastation I’ve felt and I didn’t want anyone to feel the same.

I used to hate this version of me. I used to see her as someone with low self esteem, someone who didn’t want people to not like her. But really, most of the time, I just didn’t want people to feel sad. I wanted to protect them.

It’s not such a bad thing to want.


11 Jan '18  — Never ending fascination with space

I saw a headline this morning about a supernova explosion that happened 6000 years ago. Hearing about stars millions of light years away, I couldn’t stop thinking about the photons traveling to Earth.

NASA telescopes are always picking up light from stars that have exploded and died. The photons that reach Earth don’t degrade, they don’t age or deteriorate, although the source has disappeared.

I see these photons as parts of a star that’s no longer there. Actually, they are the image of the star, the shape and form of the ball of gas travels through space to reach our eyes.

We see it but it’s not there. We’re looking at the past, but we can only see it because its particles reached us in the present.

Thinking about photons, I feel silly separating the past from the present. The past exists in the present. I can’t help but think how time should be treated as one blob.

It’s easier to think about the arbitrary demarcation of time than to live believing that time is a blob with past, present and future fully intertwined.


07 Jan '18  — A story about two dogs

“He looked at him like [shrugs], ‘you think that’s a dog?’ A year later, Putin says ‘would you like to meet my dog?’ Laura and I were with Putin right outside of Moscow and I said, ‘Yeah, I’d like to meet him.’ And out comes a giant hound loping across the birch lined yard. Putin looks at me and says ‘Better, stronger and faster than Barney.’ And it speaks volumes when you listen to what somebody says.” - George W. Bush on Ellen

My first reaction was: ‘Wow, Putin’s got low self esteem. Does he not realize how tacky that is?’ I’ve felt a similar disgust for people who drive Hummers.

Listening to Bush’s story, I felt proud. ‘America has confidence. It doesn’t need big dogs.’

But those who favor Putin could have easily justified his superiority. ‘Wow, Bush can’t handle a bigger dog? Is that why he’s got such a small animal?’

Who are the leaders addressing in this scenario? Because there’s no way they can convince each other that the other is better.

Although it seems like an altercation, this interaction is a win-win for both Bush and Putin.

The same instance is used to justify the superiority of both sides. Both leaders are awarded by their people. Bush’s reaction makes him more attractive in the US. Putin’s reaction shows how strong he is among his fans.

The effect is on the people they lead. They can never change each other’s minds–it’s like convincing a minimalist that owning a Hummer is a good idea. The only people who’s minds are changed, more amped up, more proud, are the people who believe there was conflict in the first place.


06 Jan '18  — A new curiosity

My husband told me about a rule he heard from a podcast. It’s allowed me to see the future.

The ‘five year rule’ pertains to how the face looks. My face in the evening will be my face in the morning in 5 years. Looking into my face this morning, I go back in time and see the most worn out version of my 28 year old self. I just looked into the mirror this evening and met fresh-out-of-bed, 38 year old me.

No time in my life have I ever noticed much change day to day. I’ve been ambiguously twenty-something for so long. ‘It’s finally happening.’

Other people have noticed that I’ve aged, but maybe I hadn’t because of some reality distortion field. But now there’s enough noticeable change that it cannot be ignored. It’s always been happening, but for once in my life, I see it.


04 Jan '18  — How to find new interests


‘Oh let me not look like a fool.’

I’d tell myself this over and over during my first month of yoga. Unfamiliar with the poses, I was extremely self-conscious. I felt as if all eyes were on me.

As I got better over time, I started enjoying the poses for the feeling. It felt great getting tight areas pulled apart. Bodily sensations took up all focus. Slowly, I stopped thinking about the eyes, the ones I imagined were on me, judging me throughout the exercise.

When yoga switched from being a performance, I felt free to experiment. No eyes were watching so there was no pressure. I could fall on my face, tumble onto my neighbor’s mat, wreck havoc trying things I didn’t have the guts to before.

There have been other interests that have taken a similar path.

When I started blogging, I’d take weeks to write a post. ‘What will people think if I say this?’

At the time I didn’t realize how unlikely anyone would come across my blog let alone have time to make a judgement.

I was cautious and I’d re-edit so much of my writing. The idea of having people watch was overwhelming.

Now I don’t feel like anyone is watching. Similar to yoga, the eyes have disappeared. I write because I want to explore my own ideas, not because people will read.

Both yoga and writing began as high pressure activities, but became incredibly low pressure and highly enjoyable.

Is the level of ‘audience pressure’ an indicator of something I’ll enjoy? I didn’t know beforehand whether I’d like yoga or writing.


03 Jan '18  — Conveniently anti-capitalist

My brother becomes a communist when he’s losing.

Whenever we play a board game, if someone else is clearly ahead, he focuses all his efforts to sabotage first place even when it puts him at a disadvantage. If he happens to be winning, however, he’ll do nothing to level the playing field.

It’s not an uncommon way to think. ‘If I’m not number one, no one can be.’ The desire to take away from others becomes overpowering when hope is lost.

Wasn’t the playing field leveled at the beginning of the game? Why does it need to be reset just because he is behind?

Once my brother settles into the fact he’ll lose, the game is only entertaining if he can make the winner lose.

I wondered if his methods were reflected in life. Perhaps he is a loser who feels so hopeless at times that he doesn’t wish to do anything but to sabotage people he’s jealous of?

The only people I see him sabotaging are my parents. They do have much more than him. He has mentioned that it’d be impossible for him to attain what they have.

Unlike a game, life is much longer. It’d probably get boring to play a longer game in the same way. Just as he got bored of competing to be first, he’ll soon get bored of being a communist. I wonder what’s next.


02 Jan '18  — My parent's don't love me for me?

When I was young, I wasn’t sure why my parents loved me. ‘They don’t like it when I’m disorganized. They hate it when I have different opinions.’

‘What if I swapped bodies with some other child? They’d probably love them the same way.

As I became a person with more opinions, I defined myself by how I saw the world, my likes and dislikes. I liked cooking and yoga. I liked liberal ideas on environmentalism and sustainability. I believed I had to work hard. I try to be funny but my jokes are only good sometimes. That’s what makes up me. After all, that’s why my friend’s like me.

But my parents don’t care whether my jokes are good. They get upset when I have an opposing viewpoint. They don’t take my concerns about the world seriously. If they’re not arguing with me, they’re nodding and I feel like they’re just listening because I happen to be their child.

I noticed that they didn’t care if I preferred cooking over swimming. I could be anyone, even a person who never tells good jokes, and they’d still like me the same amount.

If my parents didn’t care who I was, how could they love me?

This was what I thought for years. What would I tell my younger self now?

First, get over yourself. There are so many other children with similar interests. If my parents wanted to find a child with a cool personality, they could if they wanted to. You’re not that special.

Also, you just showed up. They didn’t know who you were and took you in despite not knowing your personality. They weren’t aware of how unfunny you’d be.

Second, the disappointment from hearing an opposing viewpoint is a tiny inconvenience. It only seems like a huge inconvenience because your opinions define so much of you. You project the importance of opinion onto them so the issue that their child is disagreeable gets magnified.

The inconveniences my parent’s have gone through, sleepless nights for years, constant fear and anxiety that something would happen, are far more inconvenient than a simple argument.

They are more than happy to go through an emotional tantrum over dinner. To have an argument with their child sitting in front of them, out of harm’s way with food available?

Best case scenario.


01 Jan '18  — Anyone wish they take the holidays more seriously?

I made my husband buy a bottle of champagne a couple days ago.

‘Maybe we can have a glass on New Year’s Eve.’ I stopped having alcohol a couple years ago so I have no idea what I was thinking.

There wasn’t even a moment to pull the bottle out. I only noticed the new year had arrived a minute before the clock struck. I went to my brother’s room to notify him. He was on the phone with my cousin, both totally unaware.

‘I don’t feel like having alcohol at this time of day. I’m going to bed.’

I wish I were a festive person.

On Halloween I told myself that I need to get serious. ‘Next year, I’m going to dress up to hand out candy.’ Thanksgiving came and I planned on making a full menu but ended up making just pumpkin pie. It was so much work I couldn’t do much else. In December, I thought about getting a tree and putting lights up.

Wouldn’t it be cool to make gingerbread houses every year? I’d love to be the type of person who’s able to put in the work to make the home festive. But right now, all I know is I’m totally not the type to make it happen.

Maybe one day.