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

09 Aug '17  — Something I've deemed unconscionable

I started the day thinking I'd learn Java. Totally convinced it was a good idea, I went through lectures and examples on Coursera. Several years back, I spent a month or two learning Python. Even further back, in high school, I took classes on C++.

I often find myself inspired to learn computer programming. Each time, I'm overly optimistic. "Maybe this time I can learn programming..." I start on a book or online course and think it's just going to be like that from now on, I'll be this person who programs and knows how to make the computer work for me.

Although I find it enjoyable in the beginning, I quickly find myself disinterested. I always end up thinking 'oh maybe it's just not for me...'

This morning I was convinced I was sabotaging myself the previous times by saying it 'isn't for me'. When something is hard to learn, isn't it strangely coincidental that it's 'not for me'? Learning programming becomes an existential crisis--I'm betraying myself by doing something not 'me'.

Once I decide not to commit the sin, I find myself spending time scrolling through celebrity news and social media. Is it more 'me'? Well, it's definitely designed for addictive enjoyment that anyone can easily get into. If anything, it's for everyone, designed to feed on human weakness, our short attention span, the propensity to feel jealous and the desire for what's attractive and rich.

Maybe it's not so bad committing the sin.

So I dedicated myself to doing something that wasn't me. I did the exercises. Like all the times before, I found myself disinterested towards the end of the day.

In the evening I watched the trailer for Narcos Season 3. Then I found myself reading At the Devil's Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel.

It was hard to pull away from the book since the story is riveting. Then I was upset at myself. How does a person think they're on their way to becoming one thing in the morning only to find themselves in the evening, not caring the least? Why can't I operate more consistently?

Then I realized I couldn't be consistent even if I wanted to. How many days has the same situation occurred? There have been countless times where I woke up in the morning thinking I'll work towards a particular goal only to find myself on a different trajectory in the evening.

And that is quintessentially me.


08 Aug '17  — I like the font

An old photo taken long ago. I hadn't remembered this shot until I came across it today. I don't recall seeing this sign but I remember the square in front. So many experiences are forgotten because I have my camera.


07 Aug '17  — Finding my way back

"You gotta trust yourself"

I snapped out. A reminder appeared in my head.

How did I get carried away? This morning the world persuaded me that I can't be trusted. I'm totally wrong about EVERYTHING!

I felt left behind. I got angry. 'Why did I date that guy I had lukewarm feelings for? I wouldn't have gone to business school. Why did I travel after graduating?' I was wrong in not getting a real job, one worthy of my degree and the loan payments that came with it. Most of all, I was wrong in starting this blog--doing what I believed was right for me.

I woke up with a strange feeling. I didn't look forward to anything in the future and there wasn't a single moment in the past I yearned for. This was all there was and ever will be. As good as it gets. And it sucks! What's the point?!

stared into the void

I thought about it. Imagined grabbing something sharp. Unfortunately I can't handle the tiniest prick.

Maybe because I awoke to loud neighbors drunk at four in the morning or perhaps my mood was the result of a bad caffeine high that lasted through the night.

Getting up groggy, I went to the computer and looked on Indeed.com. "Must have 3+, coordinate with...in a professional manner..."

That helped me snap out. I've been down the same road with these real jobs. Each time I advance 'in a professional manner', I'm led further on a path of more confusion. That's why I started this blog.

Perhaps I will crash and burn. I don't know any other way.


06 Aug '17  — Where did feeling empowered get me?

After college, I hopped around a few internet companies. The few places I first worked at were volatile places of work: the boss would have an idea one day, then the stats suggest otherwise and everything determined the previous day was thrown out. My work seemed so directionless and I felt like I was moving nowhere fast.

Finally I found myself at a online advertising startup where things were moving. Very fast. I had responsibilities for once. My work made an impact to the bottom line! With hindsight it's clear that impact relies on how the world reacts to the work. You might wish you had impact, worked as if you might cause it, and yet have absolutely no impact.

This empowerment I found...working late, feeling energized, I finally felt like I had purpose and place. And where did that lead me? Nowhere I personally wanted to be. I just found myself at another online advertising company after. And I have no interest in ads. But it felt so good to be in an environment where I could work hard and make an impact.

I'm constantly chasing the feeling of empowerment. Embarrassingly, I've watched motivational speakers on youtube. I want to FEEL like I'm moving forward with determination and direction. These videos make me feel that way and I want to feel like my work makes an impact. The feeling is as inconsequential as the feeling of tasting delicious ice cream. The high is intoxicating yet it has nothing to do with getting to where I want to be.

Am I empowering myself by being okay as someone who feels less than empowered most of the time?


03 Aug '17  — morning doodles

Played with some watercolors.

I really like painting but I don't usually have anything to paint. I like spreading color on paper. That's probably why I enjoy cooking so much. There's a lot of spreading and shaping that occurs. Recently I 'painted' bright red sauce over pizza dough.

Yesterday morning I found simple compositions on Instagram and sketched them out. The table with coffee was found at Pasticceria Marchesi, a cafe in Milan that opened in 1824. It had an ultra deluxe logo with a crown. The flowers were found at Violet, the bakery in East London. I didn't like the perspective it was shot and tried to imagine what the vase would look like if I were looking at it directly from the front. The table made of wooden planks was made up.

Usually I mention how I'm a beginner and how my art isn't good at all--I feel like that's mandatory whenever presenting anything drawn by hand. I have a fear that people might think I consider myself an artist, comparable to those who have a higher level of technique. I wonder why I care so much? Just because someone says they're an artist doesn't automatically mean they're arrogant. It doesn't necessarily mean that they think their work is great. It might just mean they're having fun.


02 Aug '17  — Savor each mistake

Is slow learning a thing? Can being an idiot, fumbling without facts have merit?

I've been fumbling terribly with sourdough for nearly a year. I could take a class. I could study the biological processes behind yeast development.

Instead, I make the same mistakes multiple times. Multiple bread making sessions go by until I figure out what's wrong. But once I learn, it's much harder to forget than if I had gone to a class and obtained the knowledge from someone who knows. The amount of mistakes I've made, the amount of frustration... I've paid a lot. I will remember. Savoring mistakes seem to have a place.

I've always wanted to download knowledge like how Neo downloaded his kung fu skills in the Matrix. Learning fast, as fast as possible, is glorified. Being in the dark is not.

Perhaps that's why I hadn't tried to 'learn slow'. I think it should be part of the slow living movement but it's probably something modern culture doesn't want to promote. It's not cool to not know what you're doing. It's not cool to not improve. Maybe that's why I find it so cool now.


31 Jul '17  — Signs from the universe that I'm missing the point

Things that 'aren't suppose to happen' have suddenly become things that 'are suppose to happen'.

Thinking in my new way, from the perspective that we are all here to serve anything but ourselves, the world started to make sense.

I was outdoors this weekend and accumulated a ton of mosquito bites. Bug bites are something I try to avoid. "I shouldn't have to feel itchy! What if I get some sort of disease?" These questions are relevant only in a world where I exist purely for me.

"I should make every effort to make myself comfortable and healthy, I need to protect me from things like mosquito bites. I should not be taken advantage of. In fact, the only reason I'm here is to take advantage of what the world has to offer."

I allowed these thoughts to take a break this weekend and let the mosquitoes bite. Actually I couldn't stop them. But I didn't complain. It's what happens when I'm outdoors. I started to see that these bites are suppose to happen.

Perhaps I exist for mosquitoes to bite. It happens and the universe allowed for it. Despite signs like these, I never took a hint.

I woke up this morning because a neighbor started cleaning a surface of some sort in the courtyard. The sound was loud. I was pissed. I heard another neighbor complain shouting from a window above. Whether it's an inconvenience to me or other neighbors, that isn't the point. I was already awake and that moment of sound had past. The universe allowed for it without having concern whether it was right or wrong.

It's not the first morning that awoke to sound from a noisy neighbor. It's not the last. Strangely I'm still focused on how wrong they're done me, still expecting that it's not suppose to be.


28 Jul '17  — perhaps finding purpose and meaning

What if we were here to serve? Any cause other than ourselves.

This idea first came to me a couple months ago but it didn't make it's way into me until today.

Instead of becoming a star, successful in career or as a creative, or someone who gets a significant number of followers...what if being outstanding wasn't the point?

I've spent decades competing to stand out against others. Even when it came to activities that were 'self-less'. I wanted to be the best babysitter. It feels good when the kids prefer you over others. I wanted to be the best at customer service. It feels good to be recognized against coworkers. I even wanted to be the best volunteer. I thought it was convincing to others that I cared more for social problems than other volunteers. The only thing I was serving was my reputation. I don't think I knew how to be self less even if I wanted to.

I never considered a different mode of being.

Today I came across a video where Adam Driver talks about how he went from the Marines to acting. He's part of a theater group that visits Marines all around the world. Whether it was the Marines or the theatre group, his story was about his intention to serve. His experiences described the joy and meaning that came in serving. The benefit is found solely in helping others.

I love finding new perspectives. However, I'm alarmed how long this perspective has been around but I just never tried it out. For decades, I couldn't have been driven by motives other than self serving, other than recognition desiring. It was the reasoning behind my drive, all my activities. Which is probably why I often find myself at a dead end, struggling to find place and meaning.

It could have been different the entire time.


25 Jul '17  — Is it human to want to play god?

I watched Apocalypse Now Redux this weekend and was surprisingly transformed.

The movie is quintessential Hollywood: guns, boobs and explosions. But the theme of 'playing god' and having ultimate control is something that got to me.

Like most humans, I grew up wanting to be rich one day. I wanted to be able to afford everything I wanted, but also, I wanted to provide my family with more than what they needed. They deserve it, right? MY family deserves it. I cannot be NOT right in thinking so. Right?

Luckily everyone in my family has what they need. Whether they have what they want is a different story. Instead of money I think my sister would prefer to have a career with steady advancement, a way to make her own money doing work that is meaningful to her. My mom would prefer to have companionship since she often feels lonely. I've always imagined that I could alleviate problems by getting rich. I want that power. I want them to be happy, not because of their choosing, but because I want them to be.

'My sister wouldn't need a better job if she had money. My mom wouldn't need a companion if she had better things.' My backwards thinking doesn't acknowledge that money isn't a solution in finding purpose nor does it resolve loneliness.

'I should just get to work, make a ton of money and support them later'...that was an excuse. I wouldn't have to provide day to day support by listening to how they feel. I didn't want to recognize my powerlessness in my inability to resolve their issues. I was doing my part by going for "the solution". MY solution would solve all problems and make them experience the world the way I want it. Happy.

It's scary to recognize the horror in me.


23 Jul '17  — a new activity


I don't do much listening. Whenever anyone speaks, I cannot wait for them to finish. I get excited and impatient as I wait to contribute my input.

Similarly, writing a blog, posting pictures, commenting... it's all talking. I haven't had a healthy balance of listening and talking...surprisingly that's been the case since I left school. Many years ago.

Luckily listening opportunities are abundant.