Raison d’etre


As of late, I catch myself smiling for no reason, reciting and writing poetry, leaping out of bed in the morning unable to contain my fervor. Muffling a giggle during a meeting. Tapping my foot on the metro. The cloudiest of days do nothing to daunt me. I have experienced a reawakening of sorts, the flame in me re-lit and burning certain. It has been a long and arduous courtship, but I have finally fallen in love.

Yes, I have finally fallen in love with the French language – and everything about it! To those who know me well, this comes as no surprise, but it’s boiled over to a point where I just have to announce it to the rest of the world!

It started the summer after 8th grade when my family and I flew to Paris, France, for a week. That was the first time I’d visited a country where I couldn’t understand the language. My family had gone to Vietnam before this, but my lackluster conversational Vietnamese still got me by. In France, I had no idea what anything was past “baguettes” and “champagne,” the latter of which I was too young to consume anyway. Out of curiosity, not necessarily a desire to learn French, I bought myself a French/Italian/German phrasebook and sounded out as many nasal sounds as I could. (“Co-MAHN tu t’apelle?”) However, I decided that I’d never be able to pick up another language by reading phrasebooks alone. So I gave up.

Instead of trying to learn French, I pulled my focus back to resources I already had: the two years’ worth of basic Spanish vocabulary I had stored in my brain…which wasn’t much, but it was something. I went to Spain two years later on a trip that eventually transformed and defined my young adulthood. Entering college, I chose to major in Spanish. All in all, the French language’s career in my life was forced into early retirement. Bu like a stubborn worker, it never gave up on me.

French came back in different forms. French songs slowly made their way onto my iPod, Edith Piaf’s gusto sounding the first alarm. Close friends would recommend French films to me. Disney released Ratatouille. Even Target started selling black and white photos of Paris! I dismissed this as an effort to capitalize on France’s appeal. Too easy. Why would I want to give into this mainstream false romanticization of a city I walked through once as a girl?

But it wouldn’t stop. It was incessant, insistent. It found other tactics to enter my life. My brother’s entrance into culinary school and penchant for French cooking introduced terms like boef bourginon into my vocabulary. My college roommate Jenny went to Switzerland one summer and came back wanting to learn French. For months, my nights were subject to YouTube tutorials of French playing in the background. My former boss’ mom, whom I spent a considerable amount of time with, would speak French to me when I drove her around, encouraging me to study the language because it was “tres sexy!” When I moved to the east coast, I quickly learned that the immigrant demographic on this side of the U.S. consisted of many West Africans, many of whom spoke French beautifully. Hell, even Vietnam’s colonial past communicated to me through textbooks that French could have once been in my blood. If not, it was at least part of my cultural heritage.

Okay, I thought. Fine.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago. I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to learn. I started with songs I already knew and painstakingly taught myself how to pronounce words. I went back to that phrasebook that I bought years ago and flipped through the pages hopefully. What a rush. I had forgotten how thrilling it was – how FUN it was – to learn a new language. After reaching fluency in Spanish, I didn’t have much to learn past additional vocabulary. I did take German as a senior in college but couldn’t even finish a full year because it was one too many courses on my already-full schedule. Learning French, though, was not going to be something I half assed, I told myself.

I sought out a group of people who meet at a restaurant called La Lavandou every weekend of the month for French workshops. After showing up, I met people who were equally excited about learning this language. My teacher was surprised of my prior knowledge of the language. This surprised even me. Who knew how much I already knew from my brother’s cookbooks, my former boss’ mom’s French interjections, the French films I’d watched, the songs I listened to, and the phrasebook vocabulary I had retained?

You could say I’ve found a “nouvelle raison d’etre” while out here.

The thing I love most about learning languages is not how the process makes me feel. While it is the closest thing I will ever know to heaven on earth, I love that language is both a barrier and a bridge to other people. It is a means to which we can learn more about each other and about ourselves. In learning a new language, we come to understand our limits but eventually come to realize that enthusiasm, earnst, and humility are understood without ever saying a word.

Signing off for now and bidding everyone bonne nuit et a plus, til next post!

Kal Penn and other updates

Kal Penn (White House Office of Public Engagement) at the APALRC’s 11th anniversary banquet. The man whose hand he is shaking is our Executive Director, Myron Quon, who is the real celebrity here.

I remember Fiona Apple said once during an interview, “I don’t think I’ve ever stopped myself from having a good time just so I could write a song.”

Similarly, I haven’t updated too much lately because things are moving right along here in D.C. I apologize for my absence! Here’s a quick snapshot of where I’m at.

  • I’m in the process of looking for new roommates. Not that anything’s wrong with my current ones. My current roomies have recently purchased a house together and are eager to start making a Home out of it. That leaves me looking for two others to take their spots. The search has left me with a kind of double life as a pseudo, after-hours real estate agent. It’s also left me with an incentive to keep the place clean.
  • Work is amazing. My project is picking up momentum and I’m in a very Zen place right now, very content with the decisions I’ve made because of my contentment with where I’ve ended up. In this environment, I feel valued, trusted, and spoiled even. The APALRC already has a warm place in my heart. Also, Kal Penn came to our 11th anniversary banquet. How can you go wrong with that?
  • Music. I haven’t been playing as much as I want to, but that’s because my energy level at the end of the day is kaput. I did, however, perform at an open mic last week! That was tons of fun, and I’d do it again. Met great people, had great support. You know me, though. In no time, I’ll be back at it. Also – guess who has Zee Avi concert tickets for November in Philly? It starts with M and ends in E.
  • Movies. Netflix is still my best friend. Thank you to everyone who contributed to that deliciously long list of French film recommendations. The majority of the films are now on my queue. I checked out the theater close to my house called the AFI Silver Theater. It was bought by the American Film Institute and remodeled. Now they have film festivals there all the time and show tons of indie flicks.
  • Trips. I’m going to New York for Halloween!! Staying with Nick, my former R.A. This is going to be an awesome trip. I always am stoked for an NYC trip. Going to Philly in November for a Zee Avi concert. Hoping to plan a day trip to Baltimore sometime soon. I love being so close to other states!

That pretty much catches you up to me. By the way, I still haven’t received photos from everyone yet! I’ve asked for mug shots but only have received pictures from Jenny and Anton (thanks, guys!) So send ’em over. I would love to decorate my cork board with your faces!

On a family vacation once, I stayed up all night talking to my mom. I don’t know what compelled me to say it right then and there, but I whispered to her, “I’m going to be a writer someday.”

“I know,” she answered, pulling the sheets over her. “I know.”

I Love You…At My Earliest Convenience: A Working Girl’s Take on Love in Your Twenties and Thirties

On Cupid’s to-do list, those in their early twenties to early thirties are swiftly overlooked. Brimming with both adrenaline and hormones, this age group is left to fend for itself without Cupid’s catalystic arrows. Unfortunately the results are often cataclysmic.

Let’s start with some givens. Typically, your twenties and thirties comprise of (but are not limited to) the following:
  • Exploring different interests
  • Meeting new people
  • Starting a career, post-graduate studies
  • Self-discovery, soul searching
  • Traveling
  • Establishing a core group of friends
  • Seeking independence to some degree

This list is definitely subject to commentary and/or criticism, but from talking to others my age, I’ve found that these are common denominators among my cohorts.
My theory is rooted in the notion that it is a challenge to find love at this point in your life. (Note: I did not say that it’s impossible to find love. In fact, it’s very possible and very true for a lucky group of people who are in happy, stable relationships.)

At this age, we busy the days with setting ourselves apart, standing our own ground, and establishing our niche in the wide world. The future is ahead of us and any distraction is simply a headwind we have to face. As we make progress as young professionals, Love begins to take a backseat to personal goals, which is why I think people who are in long-term relationships at this age experience friction with each other. You suddenly have less time, less energy, less interest in spending every waking moment with your significant other like old times. You’re trying new things, becoming more independent, so the 24/7 kind of affection you once found endearing suddenly feels like suffocation. Couples who are flexible with the change or who are willing to work through it, I think, are the ones that make it over the hurdle. Those who decide they need more space (or on the flip side, more attention) move on and end up in the singles pool like yours truly.

Anyway, here’s my theory. This goes out to everyone else who has recently had a run-in with heartbreakers (the only euphemism I could come up with for “assholes” or “bitches”) . If I come off as bitter or critical, I really do mean to be reassuring, so help me out and read between the lines!

Ever hear, “It’s not you, it’s me”? Similarly, what I’m trying to say is, “It’s not you, it’s everyone!”

From a woman’s perspective, I’ll say that it’s a challenge to harbor my feminine instincts to be cared for and wooed while at the same time know that for myself, I want to find a career and excel at it. So as a result, I’m cautious – wary, even – of “getting too attached.” To me, being in a a relationship is another full-time job, one that requires an investment of even more time and more emotion on top of those that my actual full-time job already demands. This is the plight that I feel many people at this chapter in life share. If a guy gets too clingy, I tend to back off and think, “Whoa, there, mister. I don’t have time to pine for you. I’ve got people to see, places to go, languages to learn, and marathons to run before I have time and energy to allocate to THAT.”
Therein lies the rub. At the core, doesn’t everyone want someone to feel that way about them? Then to be able to return those kinds of feelings, genuinely? So then, by keeping your feelings at a threshold, you end up prompting the other person to do the same. And you have a desperately thrilling but incredibly meaningless kind of thing that dissipates faster than you can spell out “dissipate” at a spelling bee. In a way, by trying to keep yourself from getting hurt, you actually set yourself up to be disappointed.
Then again, if I had a penny for every time I heard someone say, “Oh, I’m just having fun right now,” in regard to relationships, I could spend at least a month in the penny arcade. Now, why would I want to waste my time with someone who sees things that way? Why should you? Ultimately, the freedom that you have in your twenties is reason for celebration as well as for caution in terms of love. You have the flexibility to choose and to try but at the same time can be chosen and tried. Ya dig?
I don’t know. I deliberately leave this post without a conclusion so that you all have room to insert your own thoughts. I really enjoy the feedback some of these posts get, so keep it coming! We could get a really interesting, perhaps even helpful, discussion going.

I’ll take the extreme on this one and decide not to expect TOO much out of Love in your twenties. Part of that I say in jest, but really – I’d rather be pleasantly surprised by being proven wrong than disappointed by being proven right.

Part the Second: The Day I Said, "The World Can Wait"

The Day I Said, “The World Can Wait”

started at Busboys & Poets on 10/12/09
finished at work on 10/14/09

The day I said, “The world can wait,”
The clocks froze in their tracks.
The Minutes retired silently;
While in vain the Hours fought back.

Conversations paused mid-sentence;
A painter dropped his brush mid-stroke.
One hopeful lover said, “I do,”
The other ceased, half eloped.

A fly buzz was the last refrain
Heard for a thousand miles
A widow’s dirge cut short,
Her pain half-reconciled.

A hunter cocked his gun,
The bullet stuck inside.
His game stood still – fixated –
Staring Fate straight in the eyes.

The stoic captain firmly stood
Feet anchored, mouth tight lipped.
The deck had tilted sharply
On his halfway sunken ship.

The china lay in pieces
While a couple griped the cost.
If I hadn’t begged the world to wait,
What else would have been lost?

A sewing needle had begun to mend
The lace of a wedding dress
The hum of Mother’s lullaby
Would have eased her child’s distress.

The sight of that day’s sunset
Would have left the dead inspired
The words scrawled on a napkin
Might have changed the world entire.

Good news to tell by telephone
The number just half dialed;
The frown on someone’s lips
Had almost curled into a smile.

What caused me to imagine
A plan so lost, depraved?
Think – if the world had waited,
What else could have been saved?

The Day I Said, "The World Can Wait"


I’ll admit it. I’m a woman possessed.

I was looking at Google Maps the other day while trying to find directions for an errand for work. While staring at the destination point on the map, something compelled me to zoom out, and out, and keep zooming out until the point was barely visible. I saw first Montgomery County, then nearby D.C., then the state of Maryland, the entire U.S., North America, the western hemisphere.

Then I saw it – the Atlantic. The vast blue stretch of ocean that separated the point from Europe. Six hours, I thought. That’s how long it would take to fly from Maryland to Europe. That’s it. From California, it would have taken twice as long.

Once I saw it, I couldn’t stop seeing it. London, Madrid, Paris, Berlin. London, Madrid, Paris, Berlin. LONDON, MADRID, PARIS, BERLIN! Insatiable, this girl. I wonder what it’s called when you can’t ever be satisfied with where you are. Is there medication for that? Ritalin, probably.

It doesn’t help that in this whole week, I saw Paris, Je T’aime, Amelie, Coco Avant Chanel, Before Sunrise/Sunset, Julie & Julia, and other movies starring my favorite European cities.

Not too long ago, I thought, “The world can wait.” Get your gig together, stay on track. Write down your plans, divide them into steps like you usually do. Find a stable career and you’ll find time for the fun stuff later. Well, let me tell you something. Nothing stirs my insides like knowing that there is still so much world out there to see.

For the first time, I let myself admit that I want to put things off.
London, Madrid, Paris, Berlin.

At a loss for anywhere else to go with this information, I called my mom. For the first time since I got here, I let myself admit everything. In the middle of a Barnes & Noble, with a W.H. Auden poetry book in hand, I confessed my insecurities. I want to end up practicing law eventually, but there is something in between now and law school that’s calling to me, and I can’t deny it. I feel good about the work I’m doing here in D.C., and I’m not going to stop doing it, but when this year comes to a close, I had been dreading having to buckle down. I want to sing, act, travel, dance, learn as many languages as I can, write. Oh, how I long to write. My mother listened on the other line as I poured my confused little heart out. Then, to my biggest surprise, she answered with great ease and in a tone devoid of any judgment, “Okay.”

In the pregnant pause that followed, I let my eyes wander to a line in the poem I had been reading. W.H. Auden’s wisdom seeped through the silence:

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose all the lions get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?

She told me to do it. Do all those things. Be yourself. Go sing if you feel like it. Pick up another language because you’ve got a knack for it. Do what makes you feel alive. Make a short film. Audition for a play. Write some poetry. Start a book. And if you want to travel the world, I’ll come with you!

All this time, I’m thinking – what happened to the typical Asian parent response? All my life, I felt I’d been rebelling against the pressure to find structure in my life. I felt so…relieved, for lack of a better word. The fact that my mother supported me meant the world. I could have cried right then and there, and W.H. Auden’s stanzas would have been blurred beyond recognition.

After that conversation with my mom, I’ve felt so at peace. I’m excited to wake up in the morning. I can’t stop smiling. Life feels so wonderful now that there’s no rush. In a way, I’ve renewed my citizenship of the world and I again feel connected to everyone around me in a strange, metaphysical way. My friends think I’m crazy, but my mind is clear. That’s all I can ask for.

A few months ago, I told myself, “The world can wait.” But the truth is that’s it’s me. I’m the one who can’t wait.

(my newest recording, and appropriately, it’s in French)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlM8r1iCgmM

http://www.youtube.com/v/hlM8r1iCgmM&hl=en&fs=1&

Do What You Are: The Myers-Briggs Scale

If you’re anything like me, you have spent countless hours, days, weeks, months, years even – trying to figure yourself out. It’s important to know at this point in your life. You’ve in college, just graduated, or long gone and are interested in what the hell you should do with your life. If only there was some kind of formula…or quiz you could take…to help you put the pieces together.

While I’m familiar with Facebook’s many personality quizzes, I have to admit I’m not a huge fan. I’m not really interested in which U.S. state I would be if I were one, which celebrity I would date, or what vampire I am in Twilight. I like substantial stuff. Applicable stuff. But it’s really not exactly easy to find in the brimming pool of online quizzes there are out there.

So I tried something new. I picked up a book. (Yes, with actual, physical pages.)

There is something called the Myers-Briggs Personality Type scale, which I’ve found to be incredibly accurate. It’s also used by big businesses and has made quite a name for itself over the years. Don’t believe me? Google it. Anyway, my roommate here just got her MBA and told me this is one of the first things her program made her do. The name of the book, “Do What You Are,” piqued my interest more than anything else because like I mentioned, I’m not a fan of personality quizzes. Ever since I took this for myself, though, I’ve felt enlightened with a stronger sense of who I am. More importantly, I’ve wanted to be useful in helping others figure out who they are. (This also stems from my personal curiosity of what my friends’ results are.) So I re-posted the test here.

DIRECTIONS: There are 4 parts to this test. In each, you will choose which result BEST fits you. Answer as honestly as you can. At the end of it, you will have acquired four letters that will be incorporated into your personal vocabulary word bank of self-discovery. Remember these letters well!

Part One

Extravert (E)
(yes, with an “a” instead of an “o”)

  • energized by being with other people,
  • like being the center of attention,
  • act then think,
  • tend to think out loud,
  • easier to “read” and know
  • share personal info freely,
  • talk more than listen,
  • communicate with enthusiasm,
  • respond quickly, enjoy fast pace,
  • prefer breadth to depth

Introvert (I)

  • energized by spending time alone,
  • avoid being the center of attention,
  • think then act,
  • think things through inside their heads,
  • more private/prefer to share personal info with only a select few,
  • listen more than talk,
  • keep enthusiasm to selves,
  • respond after taking time to think things through,
  • prefer depth to breadth

Part Two

Sensor (S)

  • you trust what is certain and concrete;
  • like ideas most if they have practical applications;
  • value realism and common sense;
  • like to use an hone established skills;
  • tend to be specific and literal;
  • give detailed descriptions;
  • present info in a step-by-step manner;
  • are oriented to the present

Intuitive (N)

  • trust inspiration and inference,
  • like new ideas and concepts for their own sake;
  • value imagination and innovation;
  • like to learn new skills and get bored easily after mastering skills;
  • tend to be general and figurative, use metaphors and analogies;
  • present info through leaps, in a roundabout manner;
  • are oriented toward the future

Part Three

Thinker (T)

  • step back, apply impersonal analysis to problems;
  • value logic, justice, and fairness;
  • naturally see flaws and tend to be critical;
  • may be seen as heartless, insensitive, and uncaring;
  • consider it more important to be truthful than tactful, one standard for all

Feeler (F)

  • step forward; consider effect of actions on others;
  • value empathy and harmony;
  • see the exception to the rule;
  • naturally like to please others;
  • show appreciation easily;
  • may be seen as overemotional, illogical, weak;
  • consider it important to be tactful as well as truthful

Part Four

Judger (J)

  • happiest after decisions have been made;
  • have a “work ethic” of work first, play later;
  • set goals and work toward achieving them on time;
  • prefer knowig what they are getting into;
  • are product oriented (emphasis is on completing the task);
  • derive satisfaction from finishing projects;
  • see time as a finite resource and take deadlines seriously

Perceiver (P)

  • are happiest leaving their options open;
  • have a “play ethic” of enjoy now, finish the job later;
  • change goals as new info becomes available;
  • like adapting to new situations;
  • are process oriented (emphasis is on how the task is completed);
  • derive satisfaction from starting projects;
  • see time as a renewable resource and see deadlines as elastic

Now that you’ve gotten through all these parts, remember your four letters _ _ _ _.

Results:

  1. ISTJ – http://www.personalitypage.com/ISTJ.html
  2. ISFJ – http://www.personalitypage.com/ISFJ.html
  3. INFJ – http://www.personalitypage.com/INFJ.html
  4. INTJ – http://www.personalitypage.com/INTJ.html
  5. ISTP – http://www.personalitypage.com/ISTP.html
  6. ISFP – http://www.personalitypage.com/ISFP.html
  7. INFP – http://www.personalitypage.com/INFP.html
  8. INTP – http://www.personalitypage.com/INTP.html
  9. ESTP – http://www.personalitypage.com/ESTP.html
  10. ESFP – http://www.personalitypage.com/ESFP.html
  11. ENFP – http://www.personalitypage.com/ENFP.html
  12. ENTP – http://www.personalitypage.com/ENTP.html
  13. ESTJ – http://www.personalitypage.com/ESTJ.html
  14. ESFJ – http://www.personalitypage.com/ESFJ.html
  15. ENFJ – http://www.personalitypage.com/ENFJ.html
  16. ENTJ – http://www.personalitypage.com/ENTJ.html

There is plenty more literature online about these results on Google and Wikipedia. I encourage you to read up on your personality type. Chances are you won’t agree with everything, but with greater knowledge of yourself, you can better relate to your own actions and reactions as well as those of others. You can stand more firmly in your ground and make choices affecting your life according to the knowledge you have of yourself. It’s incredibly self-empowering information.

Let me know what you guys get! I’m keeping track. 🙂 If you really want to know mine, I’ll tell you, but I avoided posting it here so as to avoid bias.

My Season of Magical Thinking

Yesterday marked 100 days since my grandfather passed. One hundred days since 8:15AM that morning when our family stood in columns, steady sentinels of his life, waiting for an end none of us wanted to accept. I rely so much on words to express myself, but I remember being at a complete loss for them for so long after.

I never talk about this with anybody, which I why it helps, I guess, to keep a journal.

In Vietnamese, we call a funeral đám tang which carries a double entendre. It also means “to dissolve” or “to fade.” A funeral marks the beginning of the fading or dissolve of that person’s existence. In my mind, I would will this to be less true, or even downright false. But I can’t deny that the things I do remember are solely impressions of my grandfather. None can manifest themselves into my grandfather himself.

Wild geese fly, disoriented, calling out for deceased members of their gaggle. Dolphins refuse to eat for days after one of theirs passes. Elephants return to the site of the deceased, even years after their loss (hence, the term “elephant graveyard.”)

It is natural to grieve. Isn’t it? Humans react in similar ways and display similar psychological changes and disorientation.

The poet Walter Savage Landor writes in “Rose Aylmer”
A night of memories and sighs
I consecrate to thee.

In Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking, she chastises Landor for allocating merely one night of memories and sighs to mourn. But I have to disagree in the reading of these lines. To me, a “night” can mean a figurative night, one whose length depends solely on the individual experiencing it.

“Grief is a place none of us know until we reach it…I seemed to have crossed one of those legendary rivers that divide the living from the dead, entered a place in which I could be seen only by those who were themselves recently bereaved. I understood for the first time the power in the image of the rivers, the Styx, the Lethe, the cloaked ferryman with his pole.”

Looking back on these past few months, I already recognize this as being one of the touchstones of my adult life. Whether or not there is any function to that realization, I have yet to find out. I do acknowledge the element of selfishness that piggybacks on grief. Is my grandfather’s death something that happened to him, or something that happened to me? To my family? I have to ask myself that constantly. None of the times I have asked that question has yielded an answer.

Once, when I was driving with my mom, she began talking about my grandfather and in her broken-English reverie described him as “touchful.” My cousin told me her mother often recalls, “He was the most loverly man in my life.” When I hear accounts like these, I realize that we will continue to eulogize my grandfather as long as we live. He will, as they say, stay alive within our hearts and minds.

So why doesn’t that bring as much comfort as it should? Why do those words (he’ll stay *alive* within our hearts and minds) leave such a bitter aftertaste? Because at the end of the day, he’s gone. And there’s no changing that no matter how much we delude ourselves.

Yesterday I was filling out a form that required emergency contact information. My mind raced back to pre-school, when my mom taught me how to spell my grandfather’s name and memorize his number so I can always remember to add that to my permission slips, then through every year thereafter when his name was always my first emergency contact. Thanh Pham. To this day, I can only first remember how to say his phone number in Vietnamese. If something happened, my grandfather would know first. I stood staring at my form through dewy eyes and turned it in blank.

At the local community center this past weekend, there was a Tet Trung Thu event, an annual Vietnamese festival to celebrate the onset of autumn. Looking around the room, I observed grandparents who had taken their grandchildren out. They were dressed in the traditional ao dai, waiting in line for a lantern. I remembered a picture of my grandparents kneeling beside me and my younger brother. I’m dressed in a yellow ao dai, with the token bowl haircut. My grandpa has large-rimmed glasses and bushy eyebrows, his hair peppered with black, gray, and white strands. Standing amidst the children toting their lanterns and chewing their moon cake, I wished so much to return to that photograph’s simplicity.

My grandfather had a record player that played 33’s and 45’s. I would toy with it each time I came to visit, but much to my disappointment, my uncle sold it a while back. So I found a record player at a store in downtown Fullerton back home. Each time the needle hits the vinyl, my thoughts jump to Grandpa.

I just wish he were here so I could show him.

A lot of what I consciously do now is based on that mantra. He made an effort to be intellectually strong all his life. I read, write, and search for facets of learning everywhere I go, with more vigor now than before, with my grandfather in mind. He lived for his family and loved ones. I make a conscious effort to be there for my family (a handful of friends are included in this category) to carry on the legacy he left. I do things every day that I believe connect me to his spirit. That’s the best I can do for now.

To every day henceforth, Ong Ngoai, this is for you.

Doesn’t Anybody Stay in One Place Anymore?


Sing it, Carole King.

I might have to move again.

Just when I thought I had gotten settled and decorated my room to the point where I didn’t need to tape anything else up or move anything else around. My roommates just bought a new house for themselves. They mentioned that they were looking for one when I signed the lease, but I was in denial about it for a while. Congratulations to them, but friggin A for me. I have two options:

1. Take over the lease and find two new roommates and take care of rent for the rest of the time I’m here.

2. Find a new place to live.

There is opportunity in both options. If I take over the lease, I can charge my two potential roommates more and ultimately pay less rent for myself. But at the same time, I’m only going to be here for a year and don’t really want to handle rent for a property I don’t plan to keep. Also, with my roommates moving out, there won’t be any other furniture around at all other than that in my room, nor kitchen supplies. I’d have to invest in some of that.

If I find a new place, I could move downtown into Silver Spring or College Park. There would be younger people there. And much more to do. Right now, downtown D.C. and Silver Spring are accessible to me via the metro and my car. The small town I technically live in, Wheaton, is like a Santa Ana of sorts. Lots of families, not too much of a commercial district, not too many younger people in general. People go outside of Wheaton to hang out. No one really wants to come here to hang out, if you catch my drift.

So I looked around, and I found some awesome listings in downtown Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and College Park for cheaper rent than what I’m paying now. Plus furnishings. And possibly younger roommates, not that I have beef with the ones I have now, but it’s always nice to live with people around your age.

Anyway, this week I’m going to be scoping out new places to live. I talked to my roommates, and they’re going to try to negotiate something with the current landlord to see if I can stay and not have to take over the lease. We’ll see how that goes. I’m going to keep my options open. Once again I run the risk of skewing my perception of Home.

But I’ve never run into any challenges without coming out all the better for it. So you’re on, Life. Let’s write this next chapter.

When They Were 22…

  • At 22, Johnny Cash went from decoding Russian communications for the Air Force to recording his first country single at Sun Records.

  • Bill Murray, a one-time aspiring surgeon, was arrested with nine pounds of marijuana at O’Hare Airport. The incident forced him to drop out of college, and his brother eventually persuaded Bill to give comedy a try in Chicago.
  • At age 22, Jack White started a band with his wife. They later became known as The White Stripes.

  • Dissatisfied with the direction of his life and longing for immediate involvement in politics, Karl Rove dropped out of college. At 22, after being accused of trying to steal an election, he was rewarded by then Republican National Committee Chairman George H.W. Bush with the national chairmanship of the College Republicans. Rove was later instrumental in the election of George W. Bush in 2000.
  • Pamela Anderson discovered at a football game at 22 after getting her first breast implants.
  • Giorgio Armani originally wanted to be a surgeon but realized it wasn’t for him. So he tried his luck at photography. Still struggling, he took a job at a department store and discovered his love for fashion. His boss, recognizing a talent in him, gave him a promotion. He later started his own fashion chain that many people recognize today.
  • At 22, Desi Arnaz moved to Miami from Cuba when Fidel’s regime moved in. To make ends meet, he bussed restaurants, drove taxis, and did odd jobs. Unable to deny his desire to perform, he began playing at local night clubs, then started his own band. He and his band were discovered and made it all the way to broadway, where Desi met the starlet Lucille Ball, six years his senior.

These amazing stories that I’ve been posting on Facebook and Twitter all week are from a book called When They Were 22 written by Brad Dunn. As promised, I revealed the source of all my anecdotes as soon as I turned 22! So I’m joining the ranks of others on the endless road of self-discovery.

A few people thought that I was posting these anecdotes to show how behind the rest of us were in our lives compared to these celebrities and entrepreneurs when they were our age. Far from it! These are instead to show that when they were our age, they didn’t necessarily know what they wanted from life either. The point is to keep trying new things, keep being true to yourself, and remember – as they say…

The best is yet to come!