Be Smart, Play Dumb

Dead Rabbit, an awesome bar on Stone St. that dates back to 1818.

Sometimes, I think being a generalist is a curse. Sometimes, it’s smart to play dumb.

If my employers didn’t know I could do both 2D and 3D work, I would have half as much work to do. And by that, I mean I would be over-worked instead of drowning in work. With a project as large in scale as the one we’re working on, with over 300 deliverables to give the client, and with such specific, name dependent parameters to this….it really sucks doing both the 2D and 3D side. I was hired to do 2D and I haven’t had the months of time with our custom 3D asset system to know my way around it. So I’m slower in 3D work than the dedicated 3D guys. No one seems to mind that I ask a million questions a day, and on the bright side I’m learning a lot. But then my 2D assignments fall behind in schedule. They really just need to hire another human body – another pair of hands and eyes. It isn’t going to happen, though. While I’m wishing, we could hire like 3 more people.  And the funny thing is, big clients have small budgets so we can’t afford it.  Multimillion dollar companies have small budgets.  It’s weird.

I’m at work 9:30am to 8:30pm on a good day, and stay to midnight routinely. I hear the sun sets late in the evening now, but my body hasn’t witnessed it, except on the weekends.

Still, this could’ve been my last week of work. I didn’t have to agree to extending my booking on this crazy, over-achieving job. But I did and I might do it again. I’m not sure yet. The money is good and I have international vacations planned this Fall. On the other hand, I miss having dinner at home and spending time with my boyfriend.

We’ve collectively started drinking once 6PM hits, to get through the rest of the day.  I have my 2nd espresso.  At lunch this week, we started drinking our sorrows away there as well.  Morale is low but we won’t mutiny, we still want the money.  Maybe that’s just destiny when you’re on Wall St.?

A good friend of mine has been a great connection for the past couple of years, getting me jobs with him around the city. But a pattern has emerged. It was there all along but I kept making excuses. He was bragging about this other place we worked at where he would routinely leave at 6:30PM on the dot, and how great it was.  A flash of anger hit me, and I said, “You leave at 6:30.  I was staying to 10PM at least, every night.”  Kinda wish I pushed that issue more because he brushed it off.  I stayed late because no one else would, so the work wasn’t going to get done unless I did.  Man.  Next time, I’m not staying later than this guy anymore.  I gotta put my foot down.

House Envy

ABJ Terrarium “Linea”, by ABJ Glassworks

It took them 3 weeks to make a beautiful home. There were house plants, fresh cut flowers, framed wall art everywhere, bright splash colors, a walk in closet, and rich, warm grey bedsheets. Little tea candles flickered on every surface. I walked through the rooms, taking it all in. It felt like a showroom for IKEA.  Every room had at least 2 Pinterest decorating trends in play. 

Now contrast that with my place. The only wall art I have are old nail holes and mysterious black (wheel??) streaks. There’s a decade of dust that previous occupants never cleaned, and that I can’t reach without real effort. Things are starting to come together, furniture-wise (I no longer use a stepping stool covered in paint as a nightstand), but I gotta say it makes me feel pretty inadequate. I been here for almost one year and the apartment doesn’t look cozy or personal yet. 

“We need to make our place look this nice!” I said to my boyfriend. 

He said, “You’re the girl, shouldn’t you know how to do this?”

“But you’re dating me because I’m not a girly girl!”

The true tragedy is, I actually love girly girl things! Neon nails, fashion blogs, home decor, I love it all…I just have no idea how to execute it in real life. I’m an artist but not that kind of artist, and in a way that’s also what makes it sad. It’s a different skill set, a different mindset. Maybe it’s easy for a Graphic Designer to see their house as a canvas, but I’m a CG artist! 

So for the past few weeks, I’ve dedicated my last waking hours of each day to reading decor blogs like Apartment Therapy, Pinterest, and Refinery29. 90% of what I see is trash, clutter, and useless sensationalism.  But that 10% has been motivating, and I’m identifying how I have been holding myself back. 

One big thing keeping me from decorating is how cheap I am. It’s been a huge effort for me to change myself from being cheap to frugal. I realized when I look at nice things in [online] stores, my first thought is, “Pretty!” My second and immediate thought is inevitably, “But how much does it cost? What else does it DO to make my life better? Will I regret this later?”  Everything, to me, has to be utilitarian. It has to be multifunctional, or be irreplaceably essential for my life to function. But why? Why can’t something’s sole purpose be “eye candy?”

That cheap, practical side of me would say, “Because you live in an apartment and not a house. Because you don’t have a basement/garage/, or deep/multiple closets to hide useless clutter. Or barely used items. 

And have you seen the prices of home goods? They get PRICY.  Like these awesome geometric terrariums – $210+ each!

Obviously I’m not going to do that.  But I do have a list of things to do and buy for my home.

  • Give the bedroom a fresh coat of paint. Est. ~$65
  • Get a vacuum that can handle pet fur!  Est. ~$450 (Miele?)
  • PLANTS!!!!  I’m limited by the low-light stipulation… $??
  • Candles!  Candles EVERYWHERE!! $8~15 each.

Being A Villain Is Being A Friend

Sometimes I feel like I’m a villain when I’m with my friends.  They spill their problems and worries, ask for advice, and I tell them what they don’t want to hear.  9 times out of 10, I will tell you to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend.  9 times out of 10, I will tell you “That really sucks, but this is one of those times you need to pull yourself together and man up.”  I focus on the weakness in their relationship, deem it unworthy in my own eyes, and tell them it’s over.

In a way, you could call it tough love.  But as the person doling out what people don’t want to hear but need to hear, it gets me a little down sometimes.  I start wondering, why does it seem like everyone’s in a shitty relationship?  Why does it seem like everyone is making bad choices?  But hey, I’ve been there too, so logically I do know the answer.  It’s just hard to see things objectively when you’re the one in the shitty relationship and the shitty-but-easily-escapable situation.  And thankfully, I too have friends who can be a villain and tell me the hard truths I need to hear.

What’s really rare, though…is when a friend actually TAKES this advice!  When they actually do break up with their significant other.  When they face the hard truth and deal with it.  It so rarely happens.  And even rarer than that, a virtual unicorn, is the “thank you” that may come afterwards.

Recently, a coworker of mine went through a breakup while we were rushing at work.  I have no idea how he even got work finished because if I were in his situation, I’d just shut down and not be productive.  He vented to me about his relationship, about what he loved about his girlfriend, about what he hated.  And what does a villainous friend do?  The villainous friend latches on to the bad stuff and slings it back to her coworker’s face, in full fury.  It was clear to me that they weren’t compatible on a fundamental level, and I tried my best to make it clear to him, too.  Two big red flags for me: she was uncreative but constantly complained that she wanted to do something about it (So why not just do it? Huge personal pet peeve), she constantly talked about “the ex” and how much better he was.  At what, I can only imagine. But HEY EVERYONE….You’re only allowed to compare your ex to your current boyfriend if it makes your current boyfriend look awesome in comparison!!  What the hell kind of bitch will say their ex was better at x y z?  A soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend kind of bitch!  I had no guilt in persuading my coworker that it’s great that his relationship is exploding.

“You dodged a bullet,”  I told him.

Days later, whenever my coworker would feel the urge to try and break their “no contact” agreement, he remembered those words.  I really don’t feel that I said all that much, and we weren’t very close beforehand.  But the fact that he latched on to those words meant, to me, that breaking up was the right choice for him.  He knew deep down that it wasn’t working out, he just needed a 3rd party to let him know: you’re not crazy for thinking that.  Throughout January, she would ring his phone, an attempt to break no-contact even though she imposed it herself.  He’d tilt his phone towards me, and I’d shake my head.  My coworker would turn the phone face down and get back to work.

Well, we’ve come this far.  I may as well brag some more, as he is one of the few people who listened to me when I was the devil on his shoulder.  Most people ask for my advice and don’t take a word of it, so this felt GREAT :D  I’ve probably told everyone I’ve ever met to break up.  Your relationship shouldn’t be a chore, you should light up when talking about that special person in your life.  Despite how often I say this, I feel it’s true every time.  Most relationships just suck.  Anyway!  My coworker had also hurt his leg two years ago; it still aches and he never got it looked at.  So what do I do but bully him in to calling a PT NOW, not later once he does other errands, but he needed to make that appointment on the phone NOW.

Couple days later, which is today, I got a message on my phone.  “Thanks again for the push.  Day one was eye opening for my leg. Alot learned and quite hopeful actually.”

Left a smile on my face :)

Proceeding With Caution With A New Roommate

It hasn’t even been a year and I’m on the 4th roommate!!

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  As soon as I moved in with my boyfriend, his 2 roommates moved out to be with their boyfriends.  Roommate #1 was a disgusting pack rat, while Roommate #2 was quiet and kept to herself.  The only story I have about her is of that time when my boyfriend walked in on her giving a blowjob to her boyfriend :O  It’s a railroad apartment and, with the way things were arranged at the time, you have to walk through her room to access the rest of the apartment.  Since that incident, we’d just exit the apartment in to the “lobby” and bypass her room, and go through the other entrance to get to the bathroom, kitchen, and living room.  Yeah…not a great layout!

Roommate #3 was the best roommate we could’ve gotten!  I pushed to get her during the Craigslist interviews, and it turned out great.  We have nothing, and she had everything.  Great pots, pans, dishware, just…everything!  She was clean and picked up better than I did.  Even her boyfriend was really friendly and fun to hang out with.  But alas…..she moved out to a 1-bedroom with him a few blocks away, and took all her lovely house stuff with her!  No more blender to make smoothies, no more GLASSES to drink water out of, no more bathroom accessories, pots, pans, can openers, etc.  Yeah, I wasn’t exagerrating when I said we didn’t have much to our name!  I have a bed, clothes, computer, and gaming systems.  Oh, and the dog!

I’m undecided about Roommate #4, another Craigslist find, like all the previous ones.  She was really friendly when we interviewed her, albeit very desperate to get the place.  As if it were a job interview, she sent us her LinkedIn page and kept following up through text and email.  But hey, she was friendly…maybe it’s fine.  #4 and #3 were both from Long Island, and #3 mentioned how it was really hard to get an apartment when people found out she was from Long Island.  Brokers especially wouldn’t take her.

I’m still a little skeptical about the new girl.  She’s still very nice but some things are odd.  She paid her security deposit with a check that had her office’s name on it, not her own.  She has literally two bins of clothing and a mattress on the floor, which she just bought.  There’s still plastic wrapped around the box spring.  I know she owns toothpaste, an electric toothbrush, a towel, and a single mason jar for drinking.  That’s it!  Maybe she’s just minimalistic?  Or maybe I’m making excuses?  She doesn’t cook, which I knew from her interview. It’s just odd to me.  Oh, and I think she has 2 boyfriends, though she doesn’t label them in that way, they’re just her “friends”.  One of them is super friendly and I like him, the other one is a CREEP.  He does 3D like me, except…kind of a hack.  My boyfriend showed me the guy’s site and it’s all awful, unironically awful!  He said hi while I was prepping bits of raw chicken a couple nights ago, and that one encounter has me disturbed.  I don’t even know what he was saying fully, but he made some comment about “Two little Asian girls living together”.  Roommate gave him a look, while I cut him off and changed the subject.  Sure, he had a jack & coke in his hand, but he wasn’t drunk.  Just.  Creepy.  Both guys sleep in her room with her, and it’s all very quiet.  Yes, I’m kinda being a weirdo by being so interested, haha.  Boyfriend thinks the Creepy Dude is probably great in bed, while the Nice Guy is, you know, the one who’s fun to hang out with…like they independently fulfill 2 aspects a person may desire.

Would You Ever Go To A Cuddle Party?

Today, I learned that “Cuddle Parties” exist.  And I also learned that I’m totally late to the game because, according to their official website, they’ve been around for 11 years!  I couldn’t write an un-biased summary of it so here’s the blurb from their site:

You can come to a Cuddle Party to meet new people, to enjoy amazing conversations, to touch, to be touched, to have fun, to practice asking for what you want, to practice saying “no” to what you don’t want — all in a setting structured to be a safe place for exploration and enjoyment. Shucks, you can even come to a Cuddle Party just to cuddle!

Cuddle Party is not a sexual event! It’s not a hook-up or dating scene. It’s common to make new friends, and occasionally people have met dating partners, but mostly it’s about friendship and learning nurturing touch.

I dove in to the internet rabbit hole and set out to read the experiences of people who’ve been to an actual Cuddle Party; one good resource was this Reddit AMA of a Cuddle Party Attendee, with over 800 comments.

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“What Would You Do If We Broke Up?”

He stood under the yellow light of a lamppost.  Neon signs from nearby restaurants cast rainbows on to his skin. The breeze flowed past us; his hair moved like fur.

“Hypothetically speaking, of course.” My boyfriend smiled. “What would you do? Would you get all crazy? All stalkery?”

“No…I didn’t after I broke up with my last boyfriend.”

“Yea, but you guys were on the outs for over a year by then. But we’re actually happy. What if I broke up with you right now?

“I’ve dreamed of that moment.”

“Ha!” My boyfriend grinned, smugly. “One could say that you fantasizing about it means you have some kind of disorder.”

“I’d be sad and bitter because it all makes no sense to me. Then I’d go to your place with my new boyfriend to pick up my stuff….”

“What…”

“And then I’d have to say goodbye to Jasper, except he doesn’t understand goodbyes. I’ll try to explain it but he just won’t know we’ll never see each other again, and that’s when I’ll start crying, just like in my dream.”

“Well I’d beat your new boyfriend with a pipe. Then I’d stab him! I’ll get something and keep stabbing him with it!”

“Nooo!! How did you know blood loss is his only weakness?!” I shouted on the streets on Brooklyn.

“Ugh, I’m grinding my teeth just thinking about it now!” said my boyfriend, his jaw visibly clenched. “Then I’d cut off his face and wear it as a mask and fuck you.”

“Ew!!!”

“No wait, I’ll skewer his face on myself and then fuck you, as a fuck you to both of you!”

“And you say I’m the one with the disorder?!?!”

I think it’s safe to say I got his question to emotionally backfire on him… :p

Halloween, How You’ve Changed!

Did people of generations past feel old and outdated by age 25?

I don’t recognize Halloween anymore. When I was little, which really wasn’t that long ago, Halloween was awesome and Halloween made sense. Here is what one of the coolest holidays used to be like, if you grew up in NYC.

Trick or Treating Happened at Night.

If you were really little, a parent would come along, but most of my memories have me and my friends trick or treating without an adult.  In NYC, most parents let you go to school and back, and navigate the subways and streets alone, by the time you hit middle school.  Not to mention, by the time you’re at least 10, people trust you to babysit other kids.  So you’re not only entrusted with taking care of yourself alone, but taking care of another kid alone, pretty early on in life.  When you travel in packs, you feel very safe.  Even in the early 90s, NYC was not a brutal place to grow up in.

Now we have Daytime Halloween.  It’s not even dark, it’s not even 4pm, and I would see kids and their parents wandering around in costume, plastic orange pumpkin container in tow.  I don’t know why they are doing this.  Are they afraid of the dark?  NYC is in darkness by 6:20pm in October, you don’t have to wait that long….a lot of people aren’t going to be HOME yet, so you’re not going to get a good haul either.  I rarely see big groups of kids anymore, it’s usually just 1 kid, siblings, or 3 or less children and parents.  Newsflash, parents….the New York City of the 2000s is way safer than the New York City of the 1990s.

You Get Enough Candy to Last More Than a Year

Seriously!  Think about it this way – New York City is the densest city in the United States, with a population of 8.5 million.  People literally live on top of each other here; you can hit up over 75 families per building. Per BUILDING.  Then walk next door to the next 75 families!  We were constantly filling our sacks – SACKS, because those tiny orange plastic pumpkins only last like 3 apartment floors – which would sometimes rupture from the weight of SO MUCH CANDY :D  We would ring every bell on the floor and rush, little feet stampeding, towards the first one that you hear unlock with an echoey snick sound.

Nowadays, there are sign up sheets in apartment building lobbies.  This is technically a good improvement, since you can see right away who is guaranteed to open their door and shower you with sugar.  But less and less people are signing up for those things….I feel sorry for the kids when I look at the list.  Can they even fill one pumpkin when only 5/75 families are giving out candy per building?  Over the past 10 years, the kids who adored Halloween have grown up, but never abandoned Halloween festivities.  In what I do see as rather selfish, we adults have our own costume parties and dance all night.  From house parties to warehouse parties to fancy clubs, people will spend over $65 per head on Halloween.  More like $100, actually!  And while I’ve gone to a bunch of Halloween house parties myself, this means there is a huge scarcity of people who stay at home and give out candy.  I rarely see anyone bother leaving a bag of candy at their door for kids to take from.  So Halloween in the 2000s sounds really lame for kids.

Sorry, children.  We’re a generation of selfish kids in adult bodies, and we’re not giving you our candy anymore.

Halloween Happened ON Halloween

Yes, there would sometimes be the parade or events and what not happening on days that weren’t Halloween.  Sometimes you’d go trick or treating on whatever weekend was closest to October 31.  But this year, I see kids and their parents out trick or treating not just in the daytime…but a full week prior to Halloween week.  The subway this past weekend was also full of adults in costumes, heading to or from various parties.  Halloween is no longer just a single day; it extends over two weeks.  While I see why this is good for parties, because then you can attend more than one and show off your costume….I don’t understand why this is good for trick or treating kids.  People aren’t going to be expecting you to come by asking for candy!

Has anyone else noticed ways Halloween has changed compared to when they were a kid?  Was it any different from my childhood?

No Work = Even More Work

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You’d think taking a break from work means a vacation. You’d think of long hot showers, getting lost beneath the shadows of skyscrapers in New York City, watching the people go by. Window shopping for hours. Reading at a cafe, where you sip a latte, its frothy milk shaped like a leaf. You’d think of enjoying video games (and actually finishing them!) for hours, just like you did during high school, when you had no responsibilities.

But that’s just the thing. Taking off from work doesn’t mean you also shed your responsibilities…actually, it just brings even more to the surface. Without work to exhaust me, there’s no GOOD excuse for me to avoid getting things done.

Things I have been trying to accomplish on my time off:

  1. Plan a Philippines trip for me and my sister. Less than 30 days till it happens!
  2. Create a new demo reel to become employable again.
  3. Construct my first Halloween costume in years!
  4. Finish all the random errands I put off for months.

Caveats

It sounds like a small list, but everything has become infinitely complicated, with branches and branches of smaller-but-still-important decisions growing out of each. Add to that, despite having an awesome L-desk and monitor set up at home, it is incredibly hard to concentrate here. Not only does my computer house my work tools, but it also has my Steam games and the INTERNET (goddamn you all), and all the temptations to draw something in Photoshop. My 2nd screen is also a TV, connected to my PS3. Pokemon X and my 3DS XL are always just an arm’s length away. And worst of all….MY BED IS 2 STEPS AWAY!!!! I constantly feel its gravitational pull, sucking away my self-control. And once you’re in it, this full-sized bed expands to 10 x 10 miles long. There is no escaping it, once it has you in its fluffy clutches!

What Keeps Me Sane

My To Do list, pictured at the top of this post. I need the constant reminder of what I’m supposed to be doing, else I just squander this time. I could have all of eternity to do something and still not get it done, if I’m here in my room! I also use Evernote to jot down non task items that I want to remember. At first, I tried to just remember them….because as my high school history teacher often said,

“We don’t take notes to remember – we take notes to forget.”

I tried remembering. But you know what happens when I do that? “Hmm….there was something I was supposed to remember instead of putting it in to Evernote…what was it?” How sad is that – all I remember is that I was supposed to remember something!! Pointless! So I give up, I’m jotting down everything I can. And if you never used it before but have a similar problem to me, Evernote is AMAZING. They have a desktop version and a smartphone version, for all platforms, and they synchronize to each other. So whatever I write on my computer-Evernote will show up on my phone, and nothing gets lost. It’s got a cool “web clipper” function too, where you can take snapshots of webpages and read it later on your phone, without internet access. Great for subway reading :) Oh yeah, also it’s free!

But getting back to my To Do notebook, I do find that the routine of writing with a nice pen on real paper is something that really helps me. It’s like when you’re studying in school, doing rote memorization…the only way I could do it was by writing my notes over and over. The act of writing it helps my mind remember and, most importantly, focus on what I’m supposed to do. No computers to look at. No distracting game apps on my phone to “accidentally” boot up. It’s just me and this notebook and the things I have to do.

My goal is typically to get 3/10 things done from my list. Anything more than 10 is unrealistic. Anything more than 3 is bonus. If I don’t get 3 things done, well, I’ve officially squandered the day.

Welp, I’ve written too much already and procrastinated too long. Back to my non-work work!

Paper Feminist

Chances are, you know someone like this. The first time you meet her, she seems strong, confident, in control, with her eyes on the future and her career. She talks about injustice in the workplace, about the difficulties of being a woman in a male dominated industry. You think to yourself, this woman knows how to handle life. Why can’t more women be like her? Maybe then we can, as a first world society, finally have both genders treating each other as equals.

There is such a woman where I work – the only other woman at our company besides me. The only woman in the hierarchy, albeit she is at the bottom of The Top. For ease of writing, I’m gonna call her Amy.

Amy would talk sometimes about how much it sucks to be a woman in a man’s world. As someone who’s in that situation, I can agree with that statement with no hesitation, because of firsthand experience. Amy talked about ways guys treat us like subordinates and the various ways things are unfair. I commiserated, and I extrapolated that because she was so aware of the problems….she knew the solution.

And surely she does. But knowing and doing are two different things, and action is really what defines a person. 

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Flat Feet VS Arched Feet: What I Look Like From Underneath

Me (left), boyfriend (right).

A very rarely seen side of me!

For some reason, when people hear I have flat feet they become concerned….as if it’s abnormal, and perhaps a painful condition.  But no, it’s really not a big deal.  No, I am not in pain when I run; I was born with flat feet, I grew up with flat feet, and my body knows how to carry itself very well with flat feet.  It does limit my footwear, however. The majority of Americans have arched feet, and unfortunately there’s a LOT of shoes that are shaped to give “arch support”.  THIS KILLS MY FOOT!!!  I can raise my arches at will, the way ballerinas practice, with no problem….but I can’t do that every day, 24/7!  That’s just not my body’s default state.  So having that extra “support” bump in a shoe is murder, like a dull knife driving up in to my foot from underneath.  When I buy shoes, I look at reviews that say “1 star, no arch support, returned immediately!” and then I know it’ll be a good shoe for me!  Converse shoes are awesome because they lack arch support – for me they are the ultimate in comfort.  Adidas, in contrast, almost always has “arch support” in their sneakers and it does make walking all day a pain in the foot.

Sometimes I wonder if arch footed people are the one who have it bad.  When I read shoe reviews of people complaining about lack of arch support, I wonder if maybe they need to strengthen their ankle and calf muscles?  How would they walk if they were barefoot, as Nature intended?  If being barefoot is painful (barring stepping on sharp objects, of course!), I think there is a problem….humans ought to be able to support their own weight, they should be able to move in comfort with what they are born with.  Then again, people are growing HUGE boobs nowadays and I always hear that’s a huge, literal pain too.  Although it’s debatable how natural that is – many say that the various hormones and medicines we give to our food and drinks causes women to grow bigger boobs….so that’s probably NOT a good comparison!

So I don’t know about all that.  But I do know that “80% of Asians are flat footed – more than any other ethnic group”, and that’s perfectly fine.  According to the internet, Black people also commonly have flat feet, but not nearly as often as us Asians.  I remember when the Vibram 5 Fingers came out, I excitedly got some – I LOVE being barefoot, and a barefoot running shoe sounded awesome! – but the front of it pinched in a bad way.  Upon returning it, along with 3 of my Asian male friends, the Asian cashier commented that he “Totally understands.  Asian feet are shaped different; a lot of the shoes here [in the US] just don’t fit right for us.”  I found it interesting.  It’s not one of the racial characteristics one normally thinks of in regards to Asians.

Inspired by and written for Sue’s A Word A Week Photography Challenge: Underneath!