Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Many Splendid Thing

I should be packing, or cleaning my apartment, instead, I read without breathing "50 years on the frontline of history-Magnum", and jumped on the internet to search for photos that were taken 50 years ago. That deserves a whole other entry, my passion of black and white photography, or Capa, or Paris, or all of the above.

Point is, I find happiness in things I want to do. Not things I should be doing.

I should start packing, I am vacating the city.

My red studio is rented out already, soon enough, 8 more weeks, the time I spent in this space, will be a past, yet close to my heart, always.

And I have already quit my job, my high-flying advertising job, a job that keeps me busy, at a time of heart broke. I gave them 60 days notice, that makes my tenure with my current company to close to 11 months. My boss looked into my eye, searching for a motive.

I said: I need a break. I held it off as long as possible, for I feel I owe you personally the commitment.

He said: you can come back any time, or if you want to go anywhere in our offices, west coast or Asia or where ever. Just say it when you are ready.

We are not close, but I guess he like me. We don't know how to get close, we are very different people.

"I am not going to work for some time, maybe months". I said. I should be secure enough for I am now a "digital expert", or maybe I am just acting on my impulse, like Acquarius do.

Why? He asked.

It is personal. I am tired. I did not say the person I love has left the city, and I think it is the right time, to take a break, after all, the whole world is doing it.

It is not about me, it is about you and the team. You need someone who can give the attention and devotion that this account requires, at this stage, and I can not offer that at this time, not anymore.

And I have never just walked away from a work and my beloved city, I just need to do that once in my life, that I can act on my impulse and what my heart is telling me, that I am able to leave.

It is a job that any ambitious and driven individual should cherish.

The second week I started on this job, the cross company account team have a drink out, for the farewell of the global account lead, who is going to become a CEO of a branding company. I met all the players, key or non key ones, in the drinking gathering. I will be the global accountability lead.

I am a senior player now, without me fully aware of it, or care.

Andy, the man who was leaving, a charming and smart man, a Brit, said to me: Too bad we won't be working together, you seems so interesting, you know what you are talking about, and I almost want to see you drunk. He is too flirtatious for my taste.

Mike, the other lead man, who is the president of the general ad company, overseeing the account during interim, was especially warm to me. He is handsome in a very low key way, down to earth, real, wearing Khaki pants not from Brook Brothers (I hate that store for being provincially snobbish). He is not one of those heavy suit guy who disappear in his multi complex offce. He is Australian, working up all the way from Management Supervisor.

They stood besides me, too surprised to see a comparatively young, and funny Asian woman to be their new global accountability lead for their fortune 50 company account. Mike is amazed with my English, he travelled wide in Asia for business and expect something more falting.

"Not your typical asian data chick." Got them everytime.

I thought, this is a world of men, somehow, this is a world where senior positions mostly still hold by men. My boss, his boss and my peer all are alpha male, I am in the world of alpha males. I was welcomed from the beginning with excitment and curiosity.

I disappointed them, if they wanted to see someone more sociable, dearing or what my vivacouis personality may promise, I am a fantastic performer, much better presenter than I ever was, a hard worker, but I am not an office butterfly. I dress well and with style, but mostly I sit in meetings or in front of my computer or on the phone or with my team, I never really made small talks with all these big shots.

They are all married with children as well, but that is not the point. I am too busy with work to socialize, too focused on my own feelings and broken heart to reaching our for friendship, too proud to please my superiors, too striken or distracted with other inspiration to think this is the chosen path.

I did not have time to write my blog, I did not have time to miss D although he is always in my mind, or stalk him propely.

I never manage up in my work. I only manage well for people I appreicate and who appreicate me.

1 month into the job, one account person worte to my boss saying Red is such a fantastic player, supporter, leader.

What I do, digital, is new and fun to me, but the math is 3rd grade, how could they make me sweat. Yet the internal and external politics that my level sould deal with, the idoicy of some of the media buyers, the magnitude of political games involved, on this and client side, made this a different field for me to play. It ask for concentrations and managing up, it ask for top priority in my emotional agenda which I find it hard to give. I am emotionally unavailable for this, although it is challenging, which has its own share of thrill and satisfaction.

I now understand how D felt when he had to be a big shot at an adversing agency, while dealing with his personal loss, and with my drama. And like me, he has always been inspired with something else, his writing, his drawing and his performance.

I have been nothing but swamped. Yet I represent some special quality of Chinese female species, perseverance and high tolerance of pain, both makes me a ferocious player at work, those qualities that makes me needy and a stalker in love relationship--see I am pretty good at self analysis.

My wit kept its sharness among the stress and pain in heart, I become funny again and my alcoholism ends at being a hostness always with alcohol and more than enough food, that is as bad as it gets. But my heart was aching even when I am laughing.

Three months into the work, early Aug, Mike wrote an email to the COO of my company, later forwarded by my boss to me, saying Red is terrific.

I passed the test.

In mid Aug, I heard D was planning to move out of the city, going to the West. My face drained of blood in hearing the news. I stick this out for the fact that we are in the same city, close, breathing and sleeping in 180 blocks away on the same side of the island. I was not reconciled with the fact that he is not in this with me anymore.

I felt like we were in this silence parternship. I was partially destroyed, internally, by this.

I wanted to quit then, to leave, to hide, just to go to a faraway place.

But I can't, for I feel the responsiblity to honor my commitment. It has only been 3 months.

Meanwhile, the new guy who were hired to work for me as senior person turned out to be a fake. He promised two things he could not deliver and then quit in the middle. And I need to pick up the mess. It was hot, late August. I was a working machine. Storm passed, clients are happy, they never know we almost failed. I kept on working although my soul is screaming pain.

On a stormy Sunday Aug 23, I went up to Bronx to see D. I was half crazy. He was there. He won't talk to me. He slamed the door shut in front of the stalker.

I run away, sitting on the train, the guy sat across me began to hit on me, I got off at 125 street to avoid him but mostly to cry. I was shaken. I was sitting on the platform crying for an hour.

I came back next day to work like nothing has happened. "You look great". They still say. How strange. How much we can hide, how much we can bear.

All these years, I never said I need to take a break from the craze of work, it is as if that is the only thing I know how to do and to continue doing it is the most natural thing, not when D most needed me, not when I needed the time to make decision and take actions. I use work as execuse.

My soul was caged by my own bar of fear, fear of change, fear of disappointing, fear of feeling of good for nothing, yet tormented by the longing of love and freedom and strength. I fought a battle with myself to prove that I can be strong and during this fight I gained the shell of metal. D's love woke me up, yet I lost it.

Heart broken, I scheduled a trip to Europe, to Copenhegan and Paris, in Nov. Paris, that city beloved by me and D, I hope it somehow warms me, like it did last time. I worked from 9 to 12 am everyday, before the trip. My boss advised me to cancel it. I refused. I did not want to, I needed it, I was going crazy slowly.

Copenhegan was dark and rainy. I ended up working a lot. I ended up spending $1700 on dialing long distance to make sure work is covered while I was away. Still, I had to cut it short, I had to cancel Paris.

In the belated company party, the CEO of my digital agency, a stone-faced and aggressive looking man, work his way up to me. We never chatted, for I never tried to manage up. But he put his hand around my waist, my boss stood across us, I was again, hanging out with big boys.

I wanted to say: put your f-king hands off me. I said nothing, in my breeding we avoid causing inconvinece or unnecessary hostility. My boss said to the CEO, she is the most hard working person I ever known. I know that is true, but I want something else. And that comment made me feel like death, and all these meaningless desire from stranger men makes me feel like death.

Strangers's kindiness, stranger's want, what do we want to prove, when we are eager to please and pretend, and hurt those whom we love, and hurt ourselves.

It adds the final straw.

My boss hugged me pretty compassionately that night when parting, somehow, I was never sure that he has some human touch. But I felt it that night. Maybe he felt something is coming.

Next day, he came to my office and talked to me extra tenderly. I said: do you have 5 minutes? We need to talk. We did for an hour.

I said, I need to do something for myself, need to re-set priority, and be happy and find my way.
Working is my excuse for not making a decision. Although, this work, despite all its dysfunctions, gives me a boost in confidence, finance and marketability, for an immigrant like me, who is rootless here, who have no safety net or fall-back plan, it is a good year for me career-wise.

I am grateful, I travelled far, enjoyed greatest city on the planet, I have loved in New York. But I need to face the fact that I am heart broken and I don't love my job.

I want to be real. Too busy of a work makes me lose touch with reality, with my inner self.

The point is, finally, it has happened. Change is needed again. This is not what I call happiness, living like this, working so hard like this, missing someone like this without knowing how he is doing, without even the capability to cheer for him, while he is happy.

On the road of make-believe fast and furious, I am suffocating my soul, in exchange for a sense of belonging. But I came to realize, I don't need a professional job I do not truly enjoy to prove my strength and worth, it never can.

It is the voice of the heart and compassion that can save me, or I can die happily.

Cold winter nights, I am reading a lot. Bookstore and coffee shop, those are the things I need to make myself happy, maybe a fire place. But I miss the touch, the intimacy with someone that you just smile to think of, small tenderness, like tales in the book of Lord of the Rings.

Despite all my longing of whom I love, I don't need much, to be happy, so it proved. And I am picky with friendship and companion ship.

I just need to know that I can be real, I can be a human being who cares and loves well, I have to know I am not turning into a coward who hide in work like in a shell on a snail's back. I need to be exposed and then maybe I can find msyelf, find my heart, my compassion, my empathy, my appreciation of real things in life and doing things I truly enjoy.

Living in this island when all is here, at the center of the world, being totally free from family obligations, small town depressions that I left years ago, working, living, with in 5 mile radius sof everything great and glamarous, have been a safe chocie for me, but not necessariy the right one at this time. It makes me feel I have everything I need, that i have arrived. But that is a lie, well told.

I do love the city so much, for it holds my memory, and I had to leave, it is too much to bear.

I still need to buy clothes, enjoy some littel pleasure here and there that does not come free, I still have to support my parents in time of needs, but I can afford a break for now, when I can wear casual, live cheap and travel light for a while.

I will travel and write. Not to get over anything, but to start again, with myself. Perspective, they say that is important.

You are such a dreamer.

My friends all feel happy for me, but some, may feel I am making a mistake. If they do, they did not say it. They are sad to see me leave. Lots offer to keep my furniture for me so when I come back, I can still have them. Some are planning a party.

Goodbye should be simple, not always so. You will be back in 2 months. Some say.

Some already plans a trip with me in China. Forbidden city, my favoriate park in Beijing, I will take you there. I told one friend. I miss D tremendously. All the places we could have gone together. I hope he is happy. He deserves it.

I will store my bookes and CDS and winter clothes and expensive shoes, that is the toughest part-books, not the shoes. When you begain to collect books, you know you get a place that you can all your own. Wandering without a real home, sounds exciting, but also makes me anxious.

While storing those I have read, I am also collecting books to read for my extended trips. Some I began to read alreayd like the Magnum story. I always eat my food prepared for picnic when I grew up, always. That never change. Only this time, it might be a pretty extensive picnic excursion.

I need to try to know. And life can not wait, can not wait for mistake to happen, for only through those, we find surprise and reward. If only I knew better.

I leave my heart here in New York, here in this blog. I have always connect better with my New York side than the China side, for I really become me here in this great city, in its parks, and bars, on these streets, in loving the man I met here.

And it will always be home.


Blogger chris miller said...

Did you ever try martial arts ?

It just seems like all that manic red-energy has to go somewhere.

Business hasn't really satisfied it - and I doubt that romance can ever withstand it.

But the martial arts can present an endless challenge -- while patiently building a sense of inner peace and quiet.

11:14 AM  
Blogger NYE said...

That is why I liked kick boxing...
I have not done enough of that.

Inner peace and quite, yes, important and there are many venues to achieve that and I guess the process matters.

11:56 AM  
Blogger NYE said...

an example of difficulty in acheving inner peace: I know as soon as I step into the shower, Salvation Army pick up person will call. It is hard to acheive inner peace with such anxiety of waiting and uncertainty..I am just saying...

12:00 PM  
Anonymous lilac said...

Same difference.

It always amaze me to read your blog. Feels like an inner soul in me talking. Same ethnic origin as you, been in London for a very long time, in the similarly political and mentally demanding marketing field, and a hopeless love addict who find it almost impossible to stop longing for someone who one can no longer have.

I thought of going away. Just to get away from this all. There are days that I feel physically emotionally psychologically drained by thoughts of him - sometimes I can still work like a machine - because I choose to, because we have high commitment to things we do. Other times, its exhausting to focus, to tell yourself to forget about him. It beats me why I'm still staying where I am, maybe I'm not hurt enough yet?

4:49 PM  
Blogger NYE said...


It seems that we have been in very similar state of being, I hope you remain strong and get happier. You summarized what we have experienced and felt very well in 2paragraphs, which I have been trying to let out on this blog.

"There are days that I feel physically emotionally psychologically drained by thoughts of him - sometimes I can still work like a machine - because I choose to, because we have high commitment to things we do. Other times, its exhausting to focus, to tell yourself to forget about him."

How true.

To me, it is not just the longing, it is the loss of someone I love even as a friend, it hurts so much. It hurts to think all the things I could have done, and the better human being I could have been when he was here, all the happiness we could have had.

It also seems that we are addicted to pain, our love is masochistic, and thus could be heavy. There is nothing wrong with that, but I hope you can be out of it and cherish what you had and celebrate it.

I hope to hear your story sometime. And we should have a drink in London or New York....

I understand how you feel and I am getting away, not to forget, I don't think I ever want to get away from my past. But I would rather continue to love him in a different place, a different time, with a new me. This place where we loved make me feel sad to see everthing is still here, remain unchanged, except his smile, and his existance in my life.

You can always move to New York, you know. ;-) As exciting as London, but different and new for you.

Email me at if you want a listener.

12:51 PM  
Blogger epeius said...

I like NY city!
An asian art city!

12:41 PM  

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