Another Completed Trip: Thoughts

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VentureScape 2013.

As I type this out, I am sitting at SFO about to head back to Denver. I have been in San Francisco for six days (roughly), and, the original intent of the trip was to attend VentureScape 2013 Office Hours yesterday and spend the rest of the time meeting with friends, colleagues, etc.

The plans have changed since early last month though: my parents take an annual trip to California and when they heard I would be back in SF during this time period, they decided they would also travel out at the same time. Plus, this year was one of those special years where Mother’s Day fell on the same day as my brother’s birthday.

So, the trip became a family-oriented one rather than friends-social-business-oriented. I am perfectly fine with the way things turned out, but am also disappointed I was not able to meet with folks I had said I would meet with when I was next out here.

Well, the timing was not right for that; and, as one Twitter follower said to me, “Family is priority.” It’s true; my parents aren’t getting any younger these days (and neither are we). Over the weekend, we went to a winery in Livermore and did a small tasting; went to Hakone Gardens to look at the bamboo garden; ate good seafood and good steak; and generally enjoyed the drive around Silicon Valley. It was a good time with my family; couldn’t trade it for anything else.

I was able to meet with a few friends, but only a few. A few had to cancel but I found that to be no big deal considering I was pretty much a flyby visitor.

It was a good trip, and probably my last trip to the Bay Area for the year…unless something else harkens me to the area. Although I am disappointed that I was not able to see a lot of friends, I am also okay with that. Life happens, and just have to go along with the flow.

(P.S. My post about VentureScape will be next week)

Negativity on Social Networks & Seeking Help

Temperatures got you down? Don't fret!
Temperatures got you down? Don’t fret!

I woke up a few hours ago and was checking my Twitter feed, as usual. I kept coming across negative/grumpy posts from one user that I finally decided that I didn’t have to sit there and read this person’s negativity. I could simply unfollow.

The thought that crossed my mind though: I know quite a few people like that. They plaster themselves on social networks and constantly complain about how miserable they are, how much life sucks. This could all be taken as just “Oh, he’s a whiner.” or “Oh, she’s had a bad day.”

But what if these tweets, status updates, etc. are actually cries for help? What if, for these people, their lives TRULY suck?

I wouldn’t recommend leaving these people, but I would recommend suggesting to them to seek professional help. This recommendation is coming from myself, who has been in counseling for over five years. Am I seriously depressed all the time? No, but I get bouts of it. What I’ve noticed over the years is that, no matter how much I may try to avoid talk therapy, I need it, all the time. Yes, I can always talk about my sadness, my problems, with friends and family. They do care. But, since they are not psychologists or counselors, they can only do so much.

I’ve experienced this myself as well. Having a few colleagues over the years complain to me about how miserable they are, I found that their energy was draining all of mine. I wanted to help so badly, but I noticed that, after awhile, I was only talking to a wall that wouldn’t take any advice I’d give. I didn’t have any more resources to pull from to help the other party get out of their rut.

And that’s the thing. When these same individuals resort to complaining about life on social networks, it just makes things worse for the rest of us. We sit here, wanting to console our friends & family that are going through hard times, but after awhile, we can do no more. We can’t take care of everybody. We’re not all counselors or psychologists. If we’re true to ourselves and to our troubled loved ones, we would recommend seeking therapy.

Of course, in our society (the American society), talk about therapy and mental health is so taboo. But it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to feel ashamed that you’re seeking a psychologist’s help to get through your dark times. You’re helping yourself by doing this instead of wallowing away and avoiding it!

So, next time you see someone complaining about life on your social networks, give them a little nudge to perhaps seek talk therapy. They don’t need to be seriously, clinically depressed to seek that. It’ll make them feel better and more proactive about their life if they just go through a bit of talk therapy.

The Spirit of Halloween…or Lack Thereof.

Halloween 2009: the last time I got dressed up.

Halloween, oh Halloween. Truth be told, I’ve never enjoyed this holiday.

Growing up, my siblings and I didn’t partake in the holiday; we lived in an area where most everybody were college students, so there was no way for us to enjoy trick-or-treating. Our parents still had to work at the restaurant, so there was no adult guardian to get us across town to the family-friendly neighborhoods.

My memory of costumes in childhood is foggy; I only remember doing some Halloween festivities through Girl Scouts or Awana. One year, I got my face painted for Halloween; the following few days, I had an allergic reaction on my face, so I never touched face paint again.

Going into my adult years, I haven’t gone to many costume parties. I honestly find the costumes that stores sell very sexist for women. Always a sexy-little-something. Not my thing. And I haven’t cared to put in hard-earned cash for creating my own costume. What’s the use? It’s a silly holiday to me.

As you can see from the picture in this post, 2009 was the last time I got dressed up. I remember that night was terrible; my friend and I were invited to go to the Bubble Lounge in San Francisco. We figured that public transportation would be the best idea for the night. HA…no. We were miserable trying to get to the Bubble Lounge…and when we arrived there, our friends were so late that we ended up just leaving and hoping to get back to my apartment at a reasonable time. It took forever to get back out to the Outer Richmond. The bus moved very slowly because everybody wanted to pile on. Everybody was either going home from a Halloween party or going to another party. Most patrons were already wasted in costume.

When my friend and I had arrived back at my apartment, we both vowed to each other that we’d never to a Halloween night like that again.

In 2010, I spent my Halloween grocery shopping with my cousin; that was also the same night the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. Cars stopped in the streets, honking; people ran out into the streets saying “GO GIANTS!”….The Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin'” blared from somebody’s car.

Last year and this year, I will spend Halloween at the NaNoWriMo Kick-Off Party. That’s pretty much how my Halloween is going to be from now until I have my own children.

So yes, I don’t celebrate Halloween. I enjoy seeing others’ costumes (if creative and not tasteless); I just don’t care to get into a costume myself and go to wild parties to show off this costume. I’d much rather stay at home and watch Ghost Adventures.

“Not American Enough.”

My most recent birthday party, where I blended in with my Asian friends.

For those of you who frequent my site, you probably already know that my Asian-American identity has defined a lot of my life. Only in the past year have I been examining this aspect more and more, considering I am constantly reminded at school and now in my company of who I am, what I am.

Today I was writing a post over at TAOpivot talking about international students not having enough American friends. As always, I add pictures to my posts to give a little visual; yet, I found myself looking through all my photos from over the years, trying to find photos that didn’t include me with foreign nationals.

I exclaimed out loud to my intern and my colleague, “I can’t use pictures of myself with my international friends, because I don’t look American enough!” They nodded and agreed with my statement.

And that’s how it stands.

This doesn’t discourage me from continuing on with my company; I feel that, as an Asian-American consulting with foreign nationals (mostly from Asia), they may find me more relatable to them and their situations than one of my caucasian counterparts.

It can go both ways, though: as I had written about my conversation partners, they could also think what I exclaimed today: that I’m just “not American enough.”

Daily Post Day 62: My Hometown of Radford

To describe the town of Radford, or I should say, the CITY of Radford…it is a dreary scene. It could be more, and in the past it was a happening place. But that was when the baby boomers were in charge and life was fine and dandy.

And then came along the generation I grew up in, where everyone wanted to leave Radford as soon as they could. Nobody wanted to build our city anymore.

Today, the city is dismal, trying to keep up to pace with the college scene in town, but turning into a ghost town when all the college kids leave for summer/winter breaks.

All small towns seem to try to keep up with the national scene, bringing in chain restaurants to have people want to stay. But who cares to eat at another Applebee’s? Shouldn’t we, the small cities of the world, be promoting LOCAL food like all the city hipsters? We have MUCH MORE to be proud about here. We have plentiful land here, not like the big cities. But even they are doing a better job at farmers’ markets and such.

It saddens me to see how people in the community here don’t care to see changes much. I read in the newspaper the other day that Christiansburg, the next town over, is trying to establish their own farmers’ market. Let’s see if any interest actually crops up.

I thought I’d be happier returning back to my hometown for these next few months to recuperate from emotional distress. But, just from the few days of being here, I already feel dismal from the landscape. Local businesses disappearing…the giants coming into the city trying to resuscitate things…the university growing ever larger and wanting to devour the eastern side of town. It is sad.

To me, I still cannot see how people would want to stay and settle here. But that’s the exact problem this city is having: all the young people, the 20somethings, want to bolt as soon as they can. Well, at least the ambitious ones do. That leaves the treaders here and the aging baby boomers.

Of course I can never forget my roots. Nobody can ever forget where they came from, no matter how hard they try. I just want to see a better future for my hometown, instead of it dying off within the next twenty years because no young adult wants to stay and re-build the city.