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

22 May '18  — discovering ulterior motives

continue what’s lurking

I’ve been questioning the motives behind my writing. ‘Am I trying to be someone? Do I want people to think of me different than I am? Why do I think it’s cool to show people a particular angle of my life?’

Writing can be enjoyable without an intended purpose. I’ve been writing so long with an agenda that I forgot how to write without a motive. These motives are subtle, it may be to show how I value a certain lifestyle (home cooking) or where I stand against public opinion on current events.

I’m not conscious of the motives, but looking back, I was driven to receive recognition. The writing served as identity–it established who I am.

How can I continue writing if everything that comes out of me is false? There’s no honesty with motives lurking about.

I don’t know how to write with no intention but all I can do is try my best.

For a long time, I felt sure what I was writing but these past months have been difficult. The uncertainty has doesn’t reflect real uncertainty–sometimes I’m super confident and yet I can be completely off track. It just feels uneasy, unsettling, I’m less confident, however, it has nothing to do with being on or off a right track.

I’m getting back to writing that’s just about writing. It may not make a point, but at least, it’s more honest than how I’ve been writing before. The uncertainty seems to be a component of being on the right track. I want to write more honestly without any ulterior motives.

One thing that inspired this change was watching politicians be politicians. People complain that they say one thing and act different. Words are often used as a way to convey ideas that inspire, however, these beliefs are often used as a vehicle for other motives. The more I complained about politicians the more I saw myself doing the same, using words to convey values and beliefs that masked the ulterior motive to appear more good amongst others.


21 May '18  — RIP

Blogs have ‘About’ pages that give insight into who’s writing. I have an about page but things on that page change from time to time. Who I identify as changes.

I wrote the following page more than a year and a half ago. I can’t identify with anything I say nor how I say it, and it’s not how I see myself.

In my twenties, I had no clue what I was doing. Everything I put effort towards, my exercise and even my job, was based on how much others thought it was neat.

I didn't know why people thought certain things were neat. But because I didn't have a preference, I just went with what others approved. So many people think particular things are neat. They can't all be wrong? Can they?

So I ended up working in New York at internet startups, doing analytics work, and going to business school.

Then I finally had my first opinion. The direction I was heading would lead me to a place I didn't want to be. I found my way off the path.

It might never be clear, this question of where I want to be. I may never 'get it together.'

But starting over has been transformative. I'm constantly learning, unlearning and relearning about myself and how I relate to the world.

This is my daily journal. I write about what I'm going through along with different things I'm making (food, drawings, videos).

Hi and welcome! Just trying hard to enjoy life...

This blog is written by me, Tina. I'm an average person enjoying a low key life.

I like to cook at home, go hiking, watch Youtube videos, write my thoughts and feelings, make things from scratch, multimedia and thrift store shopping.

I no longer relate to being a person that was confused in the past. It’s strange how a person’s history can change based on how she see’s herself.


17 May '18  — Ever not know what you're doing?

wall textures textures

I take a lot of photos because I want to capture textures and patterns, small intriguing details that appear randomly. When I’m not clear with why I’m photographing something, I get confused: am I trying to create a composition? That’s what photographs are (aren’t they?). And any impressive photo tells a story through composition.

When I go back to old photos I’m even more confused because none have much of any story. Forgetting that I’m not really taking a photo in the way a good photographer would, I get upset–why can’t my photos look like they say something? By comparing my photos with others I convince myself that my intention was to create a story. I get persuaded because it seems to be the only intent anyone with a camera could have.

I’m using a camera so I jump to conclusions about myself. ‘Maybe I should look into tips on improving as a photographer?’. I never wanted to be a photographer but I bucketed myself into an aspiring one. It’s hard to be clear on why I’m doing what I’m doing.

That’s led to time spent attempting to compose images. I suddenly want my photos to look as compelling as others. (How did I get into this rat race?) What a waste of time. For me the camera is a device to record and capture.

Going back to my photos I see the intent. I just need to crop out things to fulfill my original mission, highlight the textures, shapes I came across so I have a way to revisit the things that made me giddy.


17 May '18  — no one knows

I love books on nutrition because they tell you ‘this is good’ ‘this is bad’. I don’t have to think much, perhaps that’s why I like it. But if you take a few seconds to browse several books, you’ll realize so many facts’ contradict each other.

Nutrition for health covers a broad spectrum. What does it mean to be healthy? I am interested in sattvic diets for their calming qualities–good for meditation since they encourage a quieter mind. I’ve also been interested in macrobiotic diets for the same reason. These are not the same reasons other’s look to nutrition.

Generally, however, people look to nutrition to feel better, stronger, more stable and relaxed.

My mom is always talking about cold and hot properties of food. The Chinese look at food by how they generate cooling or warming energies. I had eggplant last night and afterwards, I noticed how cold I felt internally. No amount of blankets could warm me up. I noticed how turmeric and coffee make me feel so good–especially since most of the food I eat generates cool energy.

Sattvic diets don’t encourage consumption of caffeine or onions since they keep the mind busy. But the Chinese see green onions as one of the best ways to expel toxins, particularly when sick.

How does one make sense of so many attributes?!

Perhaps there’s an even more holistic approach. The nutritional guidelines of different cultures developed across centuries. Maybe the guidelines have a lot to do with the climate of origination.

The Indian subcontinent is not entirely a hot place, however, the majority of the climate is warmer than China. Can the general need to stay cool be a factor in determining what’s best to eat?

I’m going to have to look more into this, however, extensive descriptions of the nutrition guidelines are not translated inEnglish. Having lived abroad, I realized how much knowledge hasn’t been translated and won’t be at all.

I guess I’ll have to talk to my mom.


16 May '18  — another un-learning

Recently I learned that cleaning allows me to do what I want.

In the kitchen, I’ve always had a hard time keeping it clean. Making one large meal, there was no energy left to clean afterwards.

Since moving, I’ve made an effort to preserve space. If there’s a corner with stuff laying around that no one’s using–I start thinking, should we donate the item? Or store it somewhere else so we can free up the space?

A few days ago, my husband cleaned the kitchen after brewing beer. I walked in and felt empowered. ‘Wow, I can start cooking! Anything I want!’

Clean counters, space to make things–infinite possibilities.

Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why did they tell me I have to keep clean so other people won’t say bad things about me? It’s a terrible reason to clean for reputation. Why was I encouraged to think cleaning was vain and bad?

Why did adults keep this secret from me?


16 May '18  — scaredy cat

a page from my journal

It’s scary to write because you can’t explain everything. People will take you the wrong way.

If I write “there’s no rationale for anything” I can hear a chorus of “Yes there is! Science has proven… There are facts! Statistics say…” But none would refer to what I’d be talking about nor would it address what I’m attempting to say.

If someone wants to fight, argue or refute, you can’t stop them. If they want to bring their agenda into light, construing a person’s message and use it as a springboard, you can’t stop them. You can never protect against those who wish to fight.

I write differently in my private journals. No defensive strategy, no ‘let’s start from the beginning to explain.’ All explanations are ways I try to make my ideas easier to accept. Explaining is done out of fear.

Someone will always take me the wrong way. Gotta get used to it.


15 May '18  — the calm before the storm

I remember the first days of school. The first week, there’s people unfamiliar. They’re just these people with faces. You can barely remember and you don’t have an opinion who they are or how they compare. Second week comes and everything about them emerges.

It’s always a strange feeling, that first week. Everyone’s nice and respectful, everyone’s got a blank slate. People are interchangeable, there’s not much that defines anyone in particular.

Suddenly everyone becomes defined. Drama about their lives, why they are the way they are, how to potentially be careful around them or whether they’re nice–strong opinions that mark who they are come out. Unintentionally I’ll jump to conclusions on the character of a person based on behavior I’ve seen in people I’ve met before. A universe of lives appear.

It’s much like the beginning of the movie where, at first, you can’t keep track of characters. “Is that the same guy in the last scene or is this a different guy?” Ten minutes later, you know who you’re looking at, you know what he’s up to.

It’s amazing how an entire universe of lives emerge–I love the moment right before–where you can feel the potential of that whole world ready to burst upon you but it hasn’t happened yet.

“I may not know you now but in a few short moments, I’ll know everything (or believe so) and I’ll never change my mind…”


14 May '18  — constant vigilance

For Mother’s Day we had a pizza party. Until the first bite, I hadn’t realized I’d achieved something: a complete homemade meal.

Homemade beer and homemade kombucha were the beverage choices. The tomato sauce was a reduction of fresh tomatoes over 4 hours. The sourdough preparation was more nerve racking.

Five days prior I’d pulled the starter from the fridge. It hadn’t been fed for several weeks. There was a dark layer on top and it never rose even after I fed it last.

I never know beforehand whether I’ll end up with anything edible. There’s a mystery in sourdough. I’ve made the same recipe over 50 times–measuring precisely doesn’t help. There’s a missing element NO ONE talks about.

Well, people talk about similar issues on forums, but renown bakers and cookbooks never mention the issues–it’s as if it never happens, doesn’t exist.

I really didn’t know if this pizza was going to happen. I had instant yeast as a backup. For five days I fed the starter and on the remaining three days, I fed the starter twice. It was rising and active all days.

On Sunday morning, I woke up and mixed the flour and yeast. The dough looked promising but still I couldn’t fully believe the sourdough pizza was going to happen.

By lunchtime, the dough was ready. I could form the wet dough into balls and it had enough gluten to stretch out. The pizzas were assembled on the pizza peel and I had my husband toss them onto the pizza stone. I’ve burnt many pizzas this way by tossing them in so I shake from pressure to make them perfect. Since people were coming over, I had my husband make sure the pizzas got in safely.

It all went well and I’m glad it did, especially for the occasion. However, it might never happen again.

At least it happened once.

artichoke pizza

The five pizza flavors:

Pizza 1: grilled bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella
Pizza 2: artichoke hearts, olives, feta, caramelized onions, feta, and buffalo mozzarella
Pizza 3: pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella
Pizza 4: olives, caramelized onions and ricotta cheese
Pizza 5: pinto beans, grilled bell peppers, green onions, buffalo mozzarella


11 May '18  — a phenomenon

I don’t understand the fascination with the butterfly effect. People are excited to talk about how the flutter of butterfly’s wings could affect an event across the world.

If that’s true, shouldn’t everything that ever happened be an effect? The result of a person’s action ends up affecting something across the globe which in turn affects the person who ‘started’ the effect? There’d be no beginning or end, just effects upon effects upon effects.

The universe as a single connected ginormous effect is something I can get with, but if it really is, then there would be no significance in stating that any instance causes a random, unrelated instance. No one would be fascinated. It’d just be how things are.

The butterfly effect requires belief that the world isn’t one continuous butterfly effect. That’s why it’s fascinating. The phenomenon is described with a starting point. A guy in Canada sneezed and that’s why the guy in Brazil has a leaky toilet. Following that logic, the leaky toilet should cause a whole chain of events to later affect the guy who sneezed. The fascination lies in how one person is connected to another on this planet but not how a person’s previous action could potentially affect themselves.

Perhaps the leaky toilet led to events that made the sneezing guy forget his keys. Wouldn’t it be more fascinating to say that sneeze caused the guy to get locked out?

Instead of looking at it from a perspective of “I set a chain of events that caused what’s happening to me now” the phenomenon suggests that someone else across the planet is responsible for setting a chain of events in motion to affect me.

It’s just a choice. I did enjoy believing in the butterfly effect at a point in my life. Maybe it’s not for me now.


09 May '18  — wholesome home entertainment

‘I really shouldn’t be watching this.’

Watching the real housewives bicker over the pettiest things is what I enjoy the most. Of course I’m racked with guilt for liking such entertainment.

‘I should be better.’

I used to believe my enjoyment of reality tv, celebrity gossip was a symptom of dissatisfaction in life. I’m living poorly and bored–not living life to the fullest. As a result, I spend time enjoying trash entertainment.

‘Maybe I can change?’

I started to abstain from reality tv, vlogs, and celebrity news. Any content that idolizes a person in any way. But almost everything on youtube is about glorifying someone else. Additionally the blogs on my feed glorify lesser known people.

‘No! Stay away!’ I was hoping to cure whatever was wrong with me. Why am I so broken to find such entertainment enjoyable?

I started reading books and watching highly acclaimed films. The first few were amazing–definitely better quality than anything online. ‘It’s working! I feel good and I’m entertained!’ However, as I watched more films and read more, I realized good stories, deeply compelling ones comparable to what I find on reality tv, aren’t common.

‘Who says I need to be into high brow culture?’ I caught the snob in me bullying the commoner.

High brow, low brow, acclaimed books and films, reality tv, they all involve stories about people. Madame Bovary is the most soap opera-y story I’ve ever come across, yet, it’s considered a classic.

I continue to go back year after year to watch the housewives because their drama is more compelling than others I’ve come across. The fact that I go back to watching them year after year shows that they achieved a format of storytelling better than others.

Part of the guilt was a fear that I’d end up valuing luxury and wealth. ‘Would their behavior, preference for plastic surgery and designer clothes rub off on me? Would I begin to think stretched faces are beautiful?’

That’s only one aspect of these stories. It all depends what I pay attention to. I’m most amused when a housewife cannot hold her opinion. A statement of little substance (“she looked fat”) could cause a world of trouble. I learn tips for navigating life.

I also see challenges that comes with being amongst people, particularly the competition for greater respect. The anger and emotions driving each women are so relatable, I experience similar scenarios a few times a week: jealousy, striving to be seen better, wanting to fix how I’m perceived by others, wishing to voice my true opinion. Perhaps the drama in my life doesn’t get blown to the proportions on the show, however, inside, they feel just as dramatic.

Reality tv might not be good for others, but it’s wholesome entertainment for me.