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

14 Mar '18  — wish I could

‘If only…’

I could make my own furniture.

Last night, my husband and I went to Home Depot. There’s hardly anyone there a couple hours before closing. It felt great to have the store to ourselves.

I have a fetish for visiting typically crowded places when they’re empty. Being able to leisurely explore with no one around–the activity gets me more excited than most things in life.

Browsing the lumber aisles, I came across so much pretty wood. I caressed the surfaces and got excited thinking of all the things I could make. A headboard, a table. At the same time, I knew there was no chance it’d ever happen.

‘Maybe…one day…’

I want to. But I don’t want to enough to look up plans, rent equipment, figure out measurements… If I gave it a shot, I’d end up with materials laying around for months, getting in the way of my day to day.

I’ve left too many projects unfinished. Whenever I come across a project laying around, I always have hope. ‘I’ll get to it one day.’

But all the projects I’ve thought that about were thrown out, never finished.

It’s too scary to start something new.


13 Mar '18  — the excitement of irresponsibility

It’s strange to watch my parents. Older people always say “I watched you grow up from a little baby…” I haven’t watched older people grow, but I have grown, and with that, my perspective on my parents.

I now spot all the things they do that are not ‘adult’ like. Before, it seemed that they always had a plan. They convinced me they did. Every time they did something they always had an explanation.

But the things they don’t explain, like why the glove compartment is full of mail from 8 years ago, are the things I’m noticing now. Why did they hoard so many rewrite-able cds and have them out collecting dust for years? Why did they not preemptively tell close friends who worked in real estate that they’re selling the house with another agent?

They shirk responsibility all the time. They don’t have a plan most of the time.

Through my eyes, they’re getting younger. There’s a lightness to being, not burdened by the consequences of their actions, and the boldness to make irresponsible decisions. When they deal with consequences, they lament for some time but that never stops them from going back out and causing all sorts of trouble.

I spend a lot of time as their therapist, discussing their drama.

It’s mostly overwhelming, but I’m still tickled. It’s wonderful to see them so young.


12 Mar '18  — a meaningful way to procrastinate

As a modern woman, I had issues with sugar since I was young. ‘Should I have a slice of cake? It looks so good. Maybe I can.’

Just deciding to have dessert is a huge decision. And each time, I feel remorse for deciding to have something sweet.

‘Why did I have to do that?’ I can’t help but hate myself. ‘Why can’t I learn?’

The next day, I’ll go through the cycle again.

cream cake

Yesterday, I understood for the first time, that this cycle occurs when I want to procrastinate.

In the afternoon the thought came up. ‘Oh, I’d like a piece of cake!’ The second thought was ‘Do you really have time to do this dance?’ I’ve never seen the situation like this.

‘Wouldn’t you rather do something else with your life?’

I don’t know what happened but the cake dilemma was no longer just a cake dilemma, but an awful way to get out of achieving everything I ever wanted.

I’ve had the cake dilemma for decades. In college, when I didn’t want to study for a test, I’d go through several cycles of dessert remorse each day. ‘I’m not going to have sweets ever…’ An hour goes by and someone shows up with brownies… ‘Ok, I’ll have a small slice.’ Often, the thought ‘why did I do that’ appears before the end of the first bite.

More recently, the dilemma revolves around moving. Having dessert and going through remorse was a way to procrastinate from packing.

The issues involved in each dessert are existentially pressing. ‘I shouldn’t care whether I get fat. I should feel free to do and look how I want. It’s my life.’ I find a way to reason that the dilemma was a great opportunity to build self esteem.

When I feel remorse, I tell myself ‘You’re not perfect. It’s okay. You do make the same mistakes over and over. But you have to be okay with who you are. Show some self love.’

Most surprisingly is finding that I have more dilemmas than just cake.

There are many scenarios that become ‘issues’. They’re all ways to procrastinate.

My parents want me to help out with my brother who doesn’t want to go to school. It’s not an issue that will directly help me achieve what’s important to me. I don’t blame them for ‘colonizing’ my life to achieve their life goal: a family with children that can survive more than well.

I want to learn how to consistently bake good bread. The amount of life (time, energy, thoughts) I’ve used on cake and family dilemmas–I could have been a master baker years ago. I could be making fresh bread daily!

I didn’t know there was a choice before, I thought all these scenarios, cake, family, school dilemmas, were just issues being thrown at me. Now seeing that my life now is based on where I placed my focus, I’m cautious about getting into dilemmas that aren’t mine.

Are there issues with the apartment we’re moving into? How do I rate the management? As much as it’s natural to think about it, if I want to do what I want in life, on this very topic–I shouldn’t care.


08 Mar '18  — where I'm the only one to know

I was trying out a new recipe today and after finishing I took out my phone. I wanted to capture how delicious the dish turned out and I was ready to send it to my parents. Then I stopped.

I was tired. Every time I share a moment, I feel like it’s no longer mine. The more I share, the less I have of a private life, one that absolutely no one knows about.

I never saw this as an issue. But all of a sudden I had an urge for more experiences where I’m the only witness. I don’t have enough significant stories that I keep to myself.

‘That’s a shame.’

I’ve never felt this way and perhaps it has something to do with the phones and accessibility. It’s so easy to share and I’ve shared so readily that I’m depleted of moments that no one knows about.

Somehow I feel out of balance. Those private moments seem to contribute to well being but I’m not precisely sure how.

So the secrets of this afternoon were kept to myself.


06 Mar '18  — scaredy-cats

You can only imagine how cruel another person is if you possessed the same cruelty inside.

If I was afraid someone wanted to cause me harm, I would have to be familiar with the hate or anger that entices a person’s to cause harm. If I didn’t have the ability to understand or imagine how anyone would intentionally harm, I couldn’t be afraid of bad intentions directed towards me.

Even if the ‘cruel intentioned’ person told me to my face. If I had no understanding of cruelty, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt.

‘Oh, they really needed to steal my wallet because they couldn’t get by.’

There would be no internal processing that the person was bad or that they intentionally singled me out. I just happened to be there, bad intentions don’t make any sense.

But I am not the person described. I do fear people’s intentions because I have it in me to cause others intentional harm. Sometimes from jealousy, or simply because I don’t like a person.

The cruelty I am afraid of receiving is reflective of what I’m capable of handing out.

When I talk to people and they reveal their fears, I’m alarmed how much they expose about themselves. The fears demonstrate the internal state.

My father believes my brother is intentionally lazy. I find it hard to believe anyone could be intentionally lazy. It’s hard to sit around and make yourself do absolutely nothing. My dad goes on and on about my brother’s laziness. ‘How is he so familiar? Is laziness a component of my dad’s life? Does it have something to do with him going out of his way to tell everyone how hard he works?’

My dad is also afraid my husband will take advantage of me. I’m a stay at home wife, economically dependent. ‘Has he taken advantage of my mom, also economically dependent, in a way that is scary to him?’

I’m usually not prepared for my parents to admit the guilt they have inside. The more they fear others, the more they reveal how eminent their cruelty is.

But it’s also hopeful. Apart of me sees that if they can forgive others for the cruelty they foresee, they can forgive the cruelty inside.

They’re too hard on themselves so they’re hard on others. How can I show compassion? The only thing I’ve been able to do is to listen, allow them to project their guilt into the outside world.


05 Mar '18  — something that should be celebrated

My mom is worried my brother won’t have a place to live after this month. She sold her house and my brother hasn’t bothered to start looking for a place. Now my mom’s stressed to the point she can’t sleep or eat well.

‘Just sit with the unease. It’s like feeling inertia on a plane. If you fight it, it makes you sick. Rather, take time to get acquainted with the feeling of not having control and not knowing what will happen. Don’t address the discomfort, but just sit, feel it out and get acquainted.’

I’m also uneasy about finding a new place to live. But by consoling my mom, I was reminded of what I should be doing.

I’m nervous but instead of sitting with the feeling, accepting it, I find myself fighting the feeling. ‘I need to overcome this! This needs to be resolved!’ I’m thinking of all the things I should do to find a new place. My actions are driven by fear as I try to remedy the unease inside.

This is a rare occasion. Once I settle into a place, it’ll be a while until I get so uneasy again. There’s a lot of unknown at this point. I don’t often feel this way. Why not take the opportunity to fully feel something that comes only once in a while?


04 Mar '18  — an effective tool

Can you tell if someone is lying?

‘There must be some signal of inauthenticity. Probably in the voice or how a person vibes…’

That’s what I thought before I took a test. I was so bad at spotting liars. I thought the people who were telling the truth were liars.

Maybe I’d be a better person if I didn’t know, if I hadn’t taken this test. More than ever I’m convinced lying works.


04 Mar '18  — free and infinitely better

It’s 1:30 am and I’m completely awake.

There’s light streaming through the window. What could be so bright?

It’s the moon. And the clouds are moving fast. Gradually the silvery light glows brighter, then softens to a dim, then bright again.

I can’t believe how beautiful it is. Yet it’s there all the time. I’m not away enough from screens or light to notice it.

The moon is more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen at any art museum. Why bother with man made art?


02 Mar '18  — tasty notes

During the past few weeks, I ate mostly food I don’t normally eat. It was tasty but I’m glad to be home with my oatmeal.


02 Mar '18  — reflections from city walks

taipei buildings

I’ve been to Taiwan many times but never had I enjoyed the city ambiance as much as I had this time. Growing up, I was always reluctant to visit Taiwan. It was a mess in comparison to the suburbs of Chicago. Chaotic signs, overlays of patterns all clashing together, I couldn’t grasp why anyone would want to live that way. Also the architecture didn’t interest me much.

But this time–it was a delight to explore.

Taiwan’s urban landscapes are an acquired taste. I am only able to appreciate because I’ve been paying to more design details in the past few years.

My husband and I spent a ton of time walking around Taipei. I felt overloaded with visual excitement. There are all sorts of decorative grilles on windows, doors. There were different tiles on the sides of buildings, granite patterns in lobbies and a wide range of patterns on the tiled public walkways. Each shop had separate flooring for their entrances.

At night, we came across dimly lit walkways, mysterious stairwells, noir flickering lights. When it was warm, the grating for many lunchtime restaurants were half open. You could peek into families having dinner watching tv in a shadowy, half lit room.

I previously assumed Taipei had no distinct architecture. Many buildings have a first floor retail space and apartments upstairs that go three levels up. Just boxed space stacked on top of each other.

I got to check a building out in detail. The ceilings are high. There was a smooth and heavy staircase that wound up to the top. It was more interesting than from the outside. Terrazzo is very common in Taiwan and different patterns can be found in most buildings.

Each of the building floors typically correspond to different residents. The grating and awnings are determined by the preference of those who live there. They all have different preferences. The plain stacked space buildings are each transformed into unique shapes.

metal, concrete and plants

I’m always unsure if my new found enjoyment actually comes from the thing I’m enjoying. Is Taiwan really that interesting in terms of design? Or is my newfound appreciation derived from having more gratitude overtime?