Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my blog.

11 Jul '18  — thinking on the road

I.

Whenever I get angry at someone for driving in the HOV lane when they’re not suppose to, I think ‘it’s so easy for me to take a photo and report them.’

‘Why hasn’t law enforcement moved into the gig economy?’

Everyone has a phone. For a small fee, 10 cents, I’m sure there’d be people who’d gladly patrol and report violations. People who collect bottles, heavy bottles, do it for ten cents a bottle and they have phones.

But then–it’s the world they describe under communism. There’s incentive to report on your neighbor for small violations.

It would not be good.

So I never report any violations. I feel wrong to take the side of the government over the people I live amongst. If no one’s getting hurt, why bother?

For some reason I’m under the influence: don’t be a rat! No one likes tattle tales!

I don’t know if it’s so good to feel that way.

II.

Why would anyone risk the reputation of their company on their driving?

Logos are often printed on the sides of cars. All sides if the person’s going to do it. Driving incites passionate responses for the smallest transgressions.

“Too fast!” “Why are they going so slow?!” When a driver cuts you off, you think they deliberately planned to single you out.

The logo becomes intertwined with the emotional reactions.

“These guys must be really slow” “That company must be inconsiderate! I’d never hire them.”

So many conclusions are made about the people that drive these cars, why wouldn’t they think that the same is being done to their brand?

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10 Jul '18  — don't know and don't like

The last movies I’ve watched, Mulholland Drive, 8 ½, both required analysis to enjoy. After I was taught to appreciate the movies, I thought the two were incredible. I wouldn’t have liked them much without analysis from Roger Ebert or a breakdown of the drama from film reviewers.

How can something become infinitely enjoyable after someone tells me how to enjoy it?

I had to learn to like these movies. So what are things I didn’t have to learn to like? What does it mean to like something if you had to learn to like them?

Likes seem to be the most important thing in the world. It’s how decisions are made–what we go for, avert, who to hang out with. But if it’s all learned, why is it the basis of so much decision making?

No one could actually prove whether everything a person likes is learned. There are tastes we acquire, but there are things we naturally have an affinity towards. It’s not clear whether our environment molded us to like certain things or whether we’ve developed an interest independently.

The truth is, the mediocre and even disliked, can be learned to be liked.

Why stay within the bounds of what you like?

Things I dislike may just not have been revealed in a way where I could like them. Brussel sprouts were disgusting as a child but when I finally came across them made well, I wished I had them earlier. The appreciation opened my palette–I was able to enjoy even more bitter vegetables.

It doesn’t mean that I’ll end up liking everything I dislike. I cannot imagine liking any of Kate Hudson’s romcoms. But there’s an opportunity to learn something when you’re so far from understanding. Perhaps I may never learn to like things I dislike–just as I’m incapable of learning the theory of relativity. I’m just too dumb to understand.

I’m missing out on a lot of the world by choosing only what I like. I stay ignorant on why or how people like things I dislike if I continue to only pursue things I like.

Perhaps I don’t have to go to extremes to learn why anyone could enjoy a Kate Hudson romcom, but at least, I can start by trying out things I mildly dislike rather than what I strongly dislike.

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09 Jul '18  — learning from considerate criminals

trash Is it possible for everyone to follow the rules?

We were at the park when I noticed a young boy gathering sticks. My husband told me the same boy built a fire when he ran into him the day before.

“We can do that here?” I wanted a fire.

When the boy passed, I asked if fires are allowed in the park. He was reluctant to answer but I explained how I wanted to make a fire myself.

“There’s no one patrolling here. As long as it’s small and doesn’t get out of hand–I don’t see why not.”

I saw his point. If everyone were responsible, perhaps we wouldn’t have so many laws in the first place. Some people ruin it for the rest–laws had to be set in place. But if you’re conscientious, why not?

Conscientiousness doesn’t just involve making the fire, or whatever you’re doing against the law, an inconvenience for others, but also it concerns those who enforce the law.

If it becomes known to law enforcement that a law had been broken, it becomes inconvenient. Being conscientious is about making sure you don’t get caught.

I’m sure they’d rather not find out some boy was making a fire. There are probably more interesting things than reprimanding him. On top of that, they’ve got to keep the public happy. Everyone’s looking at them: “are they doing their job?”

It’s a problem for everyone if you’re caught.

After meeting the boy, I recognized that people break laws all the time. There’s probably a lot of laws being broken at any second.

Law’s need to be enforced because unlike law of physics, they’re not based on real things in this world that would prohibit you from doing it. These laws require incentives to obey and they also change over time. As much as laws would like to have the reputation of being based on something real, moral–they’re not.

Would you be an advocate for crime if it were compassionate and conscientious?

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06 Jul '18  — more drama at night

waves

My old roommate sat next to me in the basement of a synagogue. She’s putting on face paint that makes her look like a skunk. There’s a spiral staircase I’m tip toeing down from with a friend. It’s hard to manage and I asked her whether she prefers this sort of ‘hike’ over the one we had in Panama. At a children’s playground, a lady shows me and my friends an AI toy for children. I’m working out at a luxury gym. Everyone is selling cell phone cases for money.

I fell back asleep for a short time, no more than thirty minutes this morning. Yet I had dreamt a timeline of activity that lasted days.

Because of Steve Jobs, there’s an idea that psychedelic drugs could unlock answers to the universe. Dreams are so trippy, far beyond the wildest acid trip anyone has described. We’re going on them every night whether we’re aware of it or not. It’s a shame we can’t figure how to pay consistent attention.

I woke up worn out–because I went through so much in a short period of time.

What if we could consistently remember our dreams? Why is there no technological development in this arena?

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05 Jul '18  — far from home

mountains

I’ve been working hard to get back to myself.

I’ve spent a lot of time dreaming of a reality I don’t have. A few weeks ago, I was thinking of getting a new camera. Last week, I was thinking of a dream house.

You can get into the habit of dreaming so much that you forget what it’s like to enjoy what you have. When you somehow find yourself getting something you’ve wanted, it can be hard to enjoy being too used to dreaming about what you don’t have.

That happened to me. Anytime I got something I wanted, I was off wanting something else.

No one ever talks about how it takes practice–and learning–to enjoy what you have. There’s so much out there that teaches us to want more and be more than what we have or are–it’s so easy to become accustomed to that behavior. There’s barely any info that lets us understand how to enjoy what we have or like who we are right now.

Inspiring quotes online instruct us to enjoy the present moment without any hint as to how.

I’ve gotten back to myself by doing more things I enjoy and avoiding activities I’ve done with the intention of getting a future result. It takes a lot of restraint from doing things that I feel will get me ahead. As I get back to myself, a lot of what I thought was urgent and necessary are no longer important. I’m finding my work to be more creative and original, it lacks the inadequacy I used to embody, the yearning for achievement and desire to be liked.

Now I understand how much work it takes to learn and become acquainted with enjoying what you have and loving what’s happening right now. If I go back to becoming accustomed to wanting things I don’t have, I become less accustomed to enjoying what I have. It’s a zero sum game. And unfortunately (because it’s a lot of responsibility), that’s a choice that’s totally made by me.

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04 Jul '18  — pure freedom

More recently, I’ve discovered the phenomenon of celebrity and its requirements to be a good example. Society disproportionately awards certain people and in return, they are expected to set a good example. Not just be like any respectable human being, but disproportionately, go out of their way to show an ideal example. If they don’t, rewards are taken away.

People live in ways or produce works that inspire are providing ideas for us to ‘be better’. What is ‘better’ changes over time and is different for different groups of people.

‘Work life balance’ might be inspiring for a certain group while ‘work hard, play hard’ might inspire another group. Each group has its leaders whose roles are to be living examples. Inspiration could also be shallow, like ‘be skinny’, or it can swing the other way: ‘don’t care the slightest how fat you get’. Ideas can also come in and out of vogue.

The inspiration may not necessarily move us forward as a species, but it’s what society or social groups think is ‘better’. It’s an opinion of what is better. For example, most people believe a person with a tan indicates that they’re living a healthier lifestyle, but a tan has no indication on health. It’s an imagined idea of what good health looks like. Some people seem to fit as living emblems of an inspiring idea, far more than others.

Like tans, celebrities may not have anything to do with the ideas they represent. But as long as they play the role demanded by society, they get disproportionate benefits. I wouldn’t be surprised if charities are created with the sole intention to maintain these roles.

Outside of charity work, you cannot just be an average person, you’re there as a guide for career, and you definitely loose any freedom to be a creep. I remember when Leo hit on a Cara Delevingne, twenty years younger, he instantly became creepy. There are tons of guys who do the same each day, they have total freedom to live as creeps.

Speaking of creepy behavior…

“I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian” - Louis CK

Louis CK has played the role of an innocently awkward guy in his comedy sketches. He’s always careful to maintain the persona, but recently, it’s let out that he’s quite aware of his celebrity and not so shy about wielding his power. Much of his comedy no longer makes sense once he doesn’t fulfill his ‘reluctantly famous, low key’ persona.

It is demanding to be held to a particular expectation. Fulfilling such static roles, you’re not free to be your true self, which most times, might be not very cool and even creepy. As long as celebs expect disproportionate benefits to come their way, they have to disproportionately deliver.

When once young and skinny actresses complain they’re no longer getting opportunities as older, fatter adults, it’s because they no longer fulfill the ideal role–what they were once paid for. Their careers were made by being skinny and young, they collected benefits for fulfilling a role, but want to continue collecting benefits without providing the same value. They can provide other values, like great acting, but they’d have to be extraordinary, inspiring in that new attribute, in order to be offered the disproportionate benefits that were once bestowed upon them.

I’ve started to believe that disproportionate benefits come with disproportionate expectations. With doctors, they’re suppose to know what’s going on, diagnose correctly and cure–an expectation that is not humanly possible. They get paid above average with both money and respect.

But what about men? They are disproportionately paid in comparison to women. Are they disproportionately expected to live a certain way?

As controversial as it is, I believe men have way higher expectations than women. People talk much on how woman are held to impossible expectations but I’ve never felt that way. As a woman, I can wear whatever I want. I can appear as dumb as I want. I can cry, express volatile emotions. I can borrow any bag that my husband has, any sweater. He cannot borrow any of my purses, he has pressure not to appear scared or hyper emotional.

It may seem small, like an inconsequential point, but dressing the way you want, being comfortable with whatever you throw on before you leave the house, is a great freedom. I will never feel less of a woman, or less of a human for wearing whatever or showing my emotions. But men have extreme expectations on these aspects of life.

“Strong men don’t need to put down women to feel powerful.” - Michele Obama

As inspiring as this quote is upon first read, the premise is aimed to emasculate men. Average men aren’t strong men, because then there’d be no differentiation between strong and regular men. Regular men are like everyone else, which the quote seems to acknowledge. Most of us don’t feel strong most of the time. Women don’t have as deep of a necessity to appear strong.

This statement says that if you want to be a real man, which is a strong man, because expectations to be simply a non-strong man aren’t enough, then you don’t put down women to feel powerful. The truth is, most of us, men or women, are not strong. And we need to put down many people to feel powerful–which is strangely acknowledged in the quote.

The statement is just another example of how men are required to live up to higher expectations. The premise of the quote emasculates any man who isn’t willing to be strong.

We loose a lot of freedom when we’re living up to expectations placed on us. How about not paying anyone disproportionate wealth and opportunities and not holding people up to disproportionate expectations in the first place?

That’s too much to ask–society is precisely about setting standards and ideals.

Does it mean that disproportionate benefits won’t swing your way if you don’t play a role? Anyone can find themselves in the role with or without desiring to be. People decide their leaders, they’ll find an exemplary citizen who fulfills an idea they believe in.

There’s a chance you could be freely living as you are and find yourself handsomely rewarded. You may naturally be able to deliver on a disproportionate amount of expectations, living an ideal people look up to. But as humans we evolve, we always want to change how we live so it’s hard to be confined to performing a life that lives up to certain standards. Also, what inspires humans and groups changes over time. Doctors were once the group that made a lot more, now there are others careers that pay disproportionately more.

It doesn’t make sense to chase disproportionate benefits–you would loose freedom to do what you please with life. Rewards from society come and go and if it happens your way, enjoy, when it leaves, continue living the way as you please. It’s never something to seek or hold.

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03 Jul '18  — this could have soothed my soul

l'avventura A 1960 movie more relevant than movies made today.

In L’Avventura a group of rich friends get on a boat and explore an island. A lady disappears and her boyfriend and best friend go to find her. As the two spend time together, they ‘fall in love’.

“Too shallow to be truly lonely, they are people trying to escape their boredom by reaching out to one another and finding only boredom once again.” - Pauline Kael

It’s common to use romance to pass time. It wasn’t clear to me in the past but a disproportionate amount of my twenties was used up dreaming about guys, getting excited that they talked to me and finding schemes to talk to them again. It’s not clear if I hypnotized myself to like them in the first place.

There are better things to do with one’s life, but the most basic way to pass time is to look for a romantic partner. If I wanted to learn a skill, like knitting, I’d have to look up some youtube videos and spend time practicing before picking up rewards. There’s thinking involved.

As humans, we have the desire to look for a mate and I found myself looking automatically without much consideration. It’s an activity you just find yourself plunged in, not an activity where there’s space to acknowledge you’re getting into it beforehand. During my early twenties, I was least excited with life and the most lost. I was looking for someone to bring ME meaning and excitement.

It’s strange how nature pushes us towards a mate. It’s so much easier to worry about a upcoming date than to worry about a skill you want to learn, or even, learning to understand yourself.

Back in the day, I wasn’t capable of exchanging ‘love’ without getting anything back. TV shows all made a huge fuss when someone says ‘I love you’ and there’s no ‘I love you’ back. My understanding of ‘love’ was based conditions. A person didn’t deserve my ‘love’ if they didn’t love me. So I wasn’t capable of love in the first place. I could have deduced this but never took the time.

Part of me wishes I had seen this movie earlier and understood my pursuit for love was done out of boredom. It would have been nice to know that much of humanity has already dealt with such issues–I wouldn’t have felt so alone. But even with that info, it would take a lot more to get me to change. There’s no way I would have understood or known how to behave any differently.

“It is impossible to be happy simply because one is ceaselessly entertained.”

La Dolce Vita, also from 1960, discusses a similar theme. The topic back then was about the despair from endless pursuit of entertainment (romance, drinking, partying). Today’s movies highlight a different set of themes, more about civil equality. Perhaps the themes of each period offer medicine for the soul in different ways. But I wish the themes addressed in this movie were available to me when I needed them the most. From what my peers have gone through, they could have used the help too.

“Why don’t we have movies like ‘L’Avventura’ anymore? Because we don’t ask the same kinds of questions anymore. We have replaced the ‘purpose of life’ with the ‘choice of lifestyle.’ - Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert wrote this in 1997. Why is no one talking about this today?

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01 Jul '18  — subversive privilege

Watched Blue Jasmine for the second time and got a different take.

I was surprised how women are still allowed to play dumb. In the movie, friends gossip about Jasmine saying she must have known her husband was involved in shady dealings. I believed it was possible that she might have known but I was more convinced she was a silly woman who conveniently looked the other way.

Later in the movie, it is revealed that Jasmine is instrumental in swindling clients, like her sister’s husband. She not only knew, she assisted.

Blue Jasmine

As a woman, I bought into her ‘I’m just a silly lady who likes to decorate’. Many of us women like to decorate but at the same time, we’re capable of grand schemes.

If a woman like me took Jasmine to be ‘silly’, I’m sure many others, both men and women, did as well. If women are benefiting by playing dumb, I can see why it’s difficult for us to be taken seriously. We can’t have it both ways, get away with playing dumb while be seen as people capable of responsibility.

No one ever questions if it’s a fair trade. ‘Playing dumb’ is still used today. It’s still effective and there are plenty who value it.

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30 Jun '18  — urges

Once a month, I entertain the idea of having kids. These moments coincide with my fertile window–I’ve been keeping track. I’m startled by how consistent it is every month, so much so, I’m seeing most of my thoughts as hormone driven.

On another day of the cycle, I’ll rearrange something: furniture in the living room, my desktop, or appliances in the kitchen. Something must undergo an overhaul. Like clockwork, these moments happen at the same time each month.

There is also a day where I make to-do lists. Today is a to-do list day.

As empowering as it is to come up with a to-do list and get a lot done, I soon realize it’s just my hormones. I’ll feel good about myself at the start of the day. ‘Oh I’m taking the initiative to improve myself…getting so much done! I should do more of this.’ Later in the day I’ll figure it out. ‘Oh, it’s just that time of the month.’ Just part of the drill, a time where I feel driven or when my will is strongest.

List making comes from an urge to prepare. ‘I’m going to need extra resources…’ I may not think I’ll have a family but the drive to procure resources (make more money, start a business) shows up.

Both boys and girls share the same urge to plan for the future–to get ahead of everyone else, to be significantly successful.

There’s much awareness about women’s desire for children and how much it’s driven by hormones, but there’s less awareness on how ambition and drive could also be driven by the same survival mechanisms.

While women’s urge to reproduce is often criticized, the urge to be ambitious, to conquer–is celebrated. Ambition is a symbol of how we humans can overcome and choose how we live, how we’re different than animals who are hostage to circumstances (hormones).

Work harder, build your future, start today, get things done. That drive provides a high that is intoxicating. I remember listening to inspirational speakers because they gave me that high–without requiring me to do any work.

But that high is just one of the many volatile emotions I go through in a month. Perhaps because I’m a woman, I’m able to observe intense drive as just another feeling, like the deep sadness I feel during PMS.

My drive to work hard, achieve more than others comes from the same drive to I have to reproduce. They’re spawned from animalistic me who wants to survive, procure resources.

Because of that, I don’t believe my drive to accomplish has anything to do with will, reason or choice.

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28 Jun '18  — not trying to be a snob

Last weekend I had a chance to visit Ballard for the first time. It’s one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Seattle. I browsed a cute apothecary, ate at an upscale Mexican restaurant, and had ice cream at a hipster ice cream parlour. I spent some time walking around, saw a bunch of cute cafes and a pizzeria.

Trendy, cute, hipstery…it was exciting to see in the first five minutes, however, after a sampling of the shops, the place got old. I was happy to confirm that I’m not missing out living in the suburbs.

After living in New York and London, it feels strange when visiting chic parts of a less global city. ‘That’s cute…’ The attempts to be trendy in the same exact way always fall short. Coffee shops and restaurants copy styles inspired by shops in global cities, but there’s always a quality of ‘copying’. I felt it in Austin, TX and in Poznan, Poland. The same style of cafes and restaurants are being exported everywhere. They all look as if derived from the same Instagrammy inspiration, not created from scratch or with any local flavor.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a long motorcycle ride that led us to Yakima, Washington. It’s a run down town with a lot of abandoned lots and men drinking on the sidewalks in front of closed storefronts. The place doesn’t emulate in any way. There’s no feeling that there’s any attempt to, which was completely new.

yakima the city of Yakima is surrounded by hills like these

The peculiarity of such a place makes me want to visit again. There were far more Mexican restaurants, the signs for banks and shops were all in Spanish. The Mexican restaurant I ate at MADE THEIR OWN tortillas. When we visited the Shell gas station, there was a sign inside the shop window: ‘Gone to church. Sorry.’

There are plenty of towns that don’t wish to be anyone else. No one talks about them.

Ballard, however, is talked about. During my visit, I was brought back to my twenties, the days when I was enthralled by trendy places. Back then, I loved grabbing drinks while basking in ‘hipness’. It’s strange to see something so exciting become rather boring.

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