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.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What I have done lately

quit the job, but nice enough to give 2 months notice

never more proud of myself

set the end date of my lease of red studio, where I had the best time of my life

not started packing yet for travel or storage

aruged with friends about Obama

almost started panicing about living out of suitcases

wanted to get away since D left the city last year, but work or sense of responsibility stranded me

Just realized I have way more books than shoes, confirm that I live on the right side of the city

Kissed a hand-written note I found in a book while moving my books from point a to point b, "it said "Darkenss Visible" by William Styron"

Hoped for Spring

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Peaceful Transformation

That is the year when they fell into devastating love, if only the frenzy comes from secrecy and suppressed passion is the constituent of love.

They were holding hands up until the rail of the subway station, which she is to take for home. She let go of his hand, looking at him with a smile that is almost untraceable, her on top of the steps leading underground, him on the other side of the rail, on the corner of 42 and 6th.

She moved her lips with out a sound: have a good weekend. He replied: you too. Still seeing the sparkle in her eyes, He leaned toward her and they kissed briefly with the iron rail in the middle. Then he turned around and left.

She began her descent while still looking at him. He might know that he is being looked at, from the corner of his eyes, but he did not look back this time. His profile instantly seemed grim to her. That is a different face already, being prepared to its familiar facings.

She was also preparing hers. Which side of the face is more true, or, they might all are. She felt a torn bitterness and yet also some excitement for enjoying the face that he prepared for her, customized and hopefully very close to qualify as unique.

20 minutes ago, they were standing inside the park kissing like it is the end of the world, while the empire state building glowing red behind them. It is not the end of the world. It is only the night before Valentine and a week after his birthday and two weeks after hers. They share the same astrological sign.

All these statistics came together in her mind so easily and readily for interpretation, since she is hopelessly romantic and passably superstitious as a Chinese.

They hugged for a while during the interim of their mouth being occupied. She murmured beside his ear: this is what I want. I miss you. He did not say anything just touched her gently.

She burst into a chuckle and only half joked: you are so silent. You know I would not hold you for anything.

He smiled: what do you want me to say?

I want you to call my name.

He did.

But there is only void following the utterance of those names, both English and Chinese version of it. She sighed and decided to let it go.

His face almost looked painful after a passionate kiss and her licking gently of his icy-cold ear loop.

What kind of face is that?

She jumped on it.


He might be honest on this one.

Once they walked out of the park onto the brighter and noisier 42 ST, she became more rigid. She held his hands after deciding not to part with him right there outside the park. She led him to go with her to the subway. They should not be seen together.

Love has more secret than death.

For some time, they can only see each other after work for drinks, so she found herself drinking much more ever since starting seeing him outside work. Being petite and well disciplined all her life, she get intoxicated very easily. But that is almost the stage she enjoyed most, when she became bold and tempting.

There are some evolutions going on inside her, and it is unstoppable.

Coming from the last communism territory of the planet, she knows that her growing up under the red flag left some traces in her talking and carrying.

She teases him for being seduced by a red spy. He complained her exposing his life to danger for no particular reason. She joked that he is so charming that she has to break the code to have fell for someone that is not much useful to the party.

An evolution that is peaceful, happens gradually but irrevocable. In the 80s, a book written by an American writer has caused so much worry, fear and somewhat hope in the heart of its readers in mainland China. It laid out a scheme of how western countries should try the most effective yet realistic way to change the monstrous communist country with its world’s one-fifth population, a peaceful transformation.

A transformation that is gradual, metaphysical at the beginning and disguised with innocence and good will. But when it finally takes roots, it will be too late anyway for anybody to do anything about it. It turns out that it is not a book about strategy, but a prophecy.

Falling in love is like a peaceful or violent transformation in every bits.

In the night before Valentine, he chooses his word very carefully. He would not say happy Valentine. Maybe he is not just that type. "Do not romanticize me.” But he holds her little hands very gently in his palms and kissed her with passions.

They are seeing each other too often for two people who do not have sex yet. They laugh together too ready. They are risking too much of career to let the feeling flow. “But do not fantasize this”. This is always on his script. He was analyzing, and she was feeling.

They dreamed of each other before they ever made love. She does not know whether this indicates that this someone has entered a territory in the other’s conscious where no casual stranger will ever be able to reach.

When they described their dreams to each other with each other in them, those are the time when elements of chemicals that have made the evolutions taking the non-cease-able advances being produced.

She can hear the sound of elements being formed, old discarded pieces of emotions and memories being crushed, reformed and re-sculptured inside her. She is striding toward a little stranger her from the one that existed each single moment ago.

She is falling in love and she knows that she is doomed, it is irrevocable . And that is the whole point.

Sometime would have passed before he told her: I have always loved you, looking straight into her eyes, calling her Chinese name.

She forgot when she said "I love you" to him, she did not remember because she felt she has loved him when she did not fall in love yet, that without being aware of when and why and how, she is there. She does not have to say it to mark the date. There is no date to mark.

And there is no reason to be named.

It is not a decision to fall in love, it just happens, like an evolution, when water, sun, geography, wants and meets aligned or not aligned, when something is in the air, when we breathe.

I am wearing the red scarf that he gave me today, to color coordinate with the city in this "Hallmart Card Holiday", so said one of my friend. The scarf gives me warmth. I wore it to Copenhegan as well, as if taking a piece of us with me.

And the empire state building will be again glowing red tonight, for all the lovers, at this city, for all the lovers, distant and far, for this moment, for there is not much else that they can hold on to, but now, but then.

Happy Valentine!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Happy New Year to All and Happy Birthday to You

Yesterday, Feb, 7, 2008, is Chinese New Year's day.

And today, Feb 8, is a speicial birthday as well, not mine.

8 is a good number in Chinese culture. Olympic will start on 080808, so the best of the best, full of prosperity.

02082008, that is a very elegant number, and a good one. It will be a good year for people who are born in this day.

This year is the year of earthy Rat, energetic, on the move, a promising new start.

For us Chinese, time passes in cycles, with 12 astrological signs, each paired with five different elements (metal, wood, water, fire, earth), so every sixty years, a new full cycle begins.

So 2008 is the first year of a new sixty-year-cycle, the Earth Rat Year is an excellent opportunity for a new start. So they say.

The way this works, you always believe in reincarnation of sort, you believe that things come and goes, luck up and downs, fortune reverses, in this way of thinking and living, it is easier to trust in hope.

So Chinese people in essence, is an optimistic bunch.

The nation is thrilled of having the Olympics in this year and planned a first Space Walk. Eastern promise is full of innocence and appropriate superstition.

This day I have my first ever plant bloom to flowers, with more on the way. The timing can not be more perfect and I can not be more spell-bounded with new year forecast and outlook, even if some of the plans I have already knew and made, changes, travels, to simple and earthy life, to reach my own inner voice, taking actions, trying new things, connecting.

So I have been reading astrological forecast. There are decent ones out there; I guess those are not free. Free ones, suck, try this:

"You look all set to lose some of your belongings this year including your mobile phone, wallet or keys. Forewarned is forearmed. While you may not be able to avoid all the bad luck that looks set to come your way, you should take steps to minimize the loss by carrying minimal amount of money in your wallet, keeping a spare set of keys in a safe place and making a duplicate set of phone numbers. "

Thank you very much!

It is cheating to forecast one will lose these small items that one carry around daily, and have the highest likelihood to get lost. Try forecast that I will lose my plasma TV or Roland keyboard. That is more respectable.

Who are these people writing these content, maybe they are the same who wrote fortune cookies, I bet they are not even Chinese.

I am worried about my belongings, just as well. I don't want to lose anything that is the point, especially not my heart, as if, I have got it back.

But, all the quality ones and non-quality ones--those forecast, seem to say, consistently, this year, people with metals signs will do better than other signs. Some how, metal works well on the earthy years.

We are the people of metal dog and metal pig, so we should be optimistic.

Yes, the date of Feb 8, from when it become meaningful to me.

Every year, Jan and Feb are busy months for me, mentally and emotionally, my own birthday end of Jan, birthday of someone I have loved, and Chinese New Year in between or around, my birthday again following that, being the fifth day of the new year on the lunar calendar, Valentines’day soon after, when the whole city is lighted in red, in my favorite color of passion.

It is time of awe and longing and anxiety of gaining another circle.

And it just came to my realization yesterday, while I was walking around in the empty park of central, taking my day off celebrating the first day of the lunar new year of Rat, that, in a week out of a year, he and I are of the same age, when I catch up with him for about 8 days.

You remember these things. You just do. Happy birthday, my love from the year of Metal dog.

Happy New Year of the earthy Rat to everyone! And make duplicate set of keys, always.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


If I am an American Citizen, I would be voting for Obama.

If I am in China, I would be getting ready for fireworks and to welcome a New Year, saying goodbye to my year of the red with tenderness.

If I am with you, I would be simply smiling.