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You ask me what my favorite memory is.

And I laugh and say that there aren’t many to choose from. It was meant to be a light joke, but I’m somber all of a sudden at the truth of the statement. There aren’t many and I doubt there will be many more.

It’s doubt that’s the enemy, isn’t it?

I tell myself to have faith. To believe. To hope.

But no, Buddha was right when he said:

There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.

But I do. I doubt. And it kills me.

You hear it in my voice and soon I hear it in yours. If I can’t have faith, how do I expect you to believe in me? If I refuse to believe in you, how can I expect you to stay?

“I’ll miss you, too.”

Is that your way of acknowledging that I’m pulling away? Is that you saying goodbye?

I close my eyes and sigh.

It’s the way you always curve your arm around my waist every time you walk by me. Whether I’m brushing my teeth or getting a glass of water, you pass by and your arm snakes around my waist slightly, then your hand runs across the small of my back before you continue on with wherever you’re going. It’s the way you give me that teasing look on your face when I get scared. You laugh and whisper encouragement but you always say, “Don’t look at me with those scared eyes.” You somehow know just how to bring the fearless out of me.

It’s the way you make me feel flawless.

It’s the way you lace your fingers with mine as we sit and talk with your friends, or when we’re sitting at the dinner table drinking our wine; it’s the way you squeeze my hand so hard I can feel your bones fuse with mine just before I say goodbye.

You ask me what my favorite memory is, and I want to say, “You are.”

But I can’t.

And so, someday, I know I’ll sit in front of the sunset feeling the sand slip right through my fingers and I’ll miss you, too.

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Gratitude

Gratitude: it’s underrated.

I think people need to practice gratitude more often than they practice the Art of the Whine. My friend, Evan, introduced me to the Gratitude Project which really is as simple as it sounds: Be Grateful for Something Everyday.

So, I’ve decided to actively do that. Remember when I joined in on Seth’s idea to not complain for 30 days? I don’t really know if I passed or failed that test, but I do know that it made the entire Bar Studying Experience a lot less of a thing to whine about than something I just had to do.

As great as the No Whine Project was, it focused too much on something negative (i.e. not doing something). That’s why I think the Gratitude Project is genius because it makes us think of the positives of our day (and still preserves my right to whine when things go wrong, mwahahaha!).

So, the way I’m going to do the Gratitude Project is to find one person, one thing, and one event per day that I am grateful for and explain why. Easy.

I hope.

LET US BEGIN with YESTERDAY:

1. Person: Jessica P.

Jess and I have been friends since my first day at JLHS when I sat slightly away from everyone else on the bleachers while Coach Rod introduced himself. I had 2nd Period PE for my first class of the first day of school on my first time in an American school. I probably had the deer-in-headlights look. I had terrible listening comprehension (I thought Americans spoke way too fast), could barely trust myself to speak the English words I had studied all those years in my classes, and was generally just a NERD/GEEK/FREAK/OUTCAST. I didn’t know a smidgen about fashion (I had worn a uniform since I was in kindergarten from 6 am to 6 pm every day of my life, and on weekends I wore more uniforms for sports so fashion was never an issue); I was obviously a tomboy and wore a XXL shirt and baggy pants that three other people could have fit in with me; and I didn’t understand all the cultural, social, and socio-politico-economic implications that was life in an American HS (I had gone to the same school with the same group of people from kindergarten to high school…and there were only about a hundred of us in our graduating class…there were no boys in our school…nuns walked the halls and taught us. Drama? What is that?) I doubt there is anywhere else in the world where high school is so angsty and confusing.

So enters Jessica. She looked at me over her shoulder, climbed the bleachers to where I sat and said Hi.

I had never been so grateful for that word in my life.

She smiled that big smile, “I’m Jessica, you must be new. What’s your name?” She had a big voice and an even bigger personality. When she found out that I wasn’t just new to the school but to the country, she took me under her wing. I found shelter in her friendship that entire year. She introduced me to everyone she knew — and she was popular and well-liked (and was voted Class Clown with Nate), which made me an instant-part of any group she was in. She introduced me to speech and debate and to the people who would continue to be my family to this day.

She invited me to parties and sleep-overs and she never asked me to change who I was. She let me learn from her and I am grateful that she is still one of my best friends ever.

We both had our hearts broken over the past year and yesterday, we sat and talked about our lives over burritos (ahhh, typical of us), and laughed over our predicaments. Left and right some of our closest friends are getting married and neither one of us could see that in our near future. But it was okay because it was something we both could laugh about and support each other through.

Jessica reminds me everyday that it can take something so little as a smile and a “hi” to change a person’s life and the way they see the world around them. Every time someone new comes around, I will always remember to make them feel welcome, and to stay with them until they feel like they belong, too. It’s so simple but it’s so powerful.

2. Event: Meeting Bryan H.

I was a little lost in UC Davis King Hall. Then I was extremely bored in UC Davis King Hall. I was about to pass out from sheer boredom when a deep purple shirt tucked into perfectly pressed pants stopped right in front my fading line of sight. “Hey,” says a voice.

I look up and smile. “Hey.”

“I thought you were APALSA for a moment.”

I roll my eyes at him. “Because I’m Asian?”

He shrugs. “They were here before you.” He looks at my table, goes around the table and pulls up a chair. “Mind if I sit with you?”He was already seated, so I shrugged.

Talking with him made the rest of the three hours bearable and time flew by in a blur. He was engaging. He was annoying. He was funny. He was chauvinistic. He was strangely humble and yet arrogant at the same time. It was like every time I would think he was awesome, he would say something completely opposite that I would instantly change my opinion of him. And then he’d say something incredible again, and I’d be impressed again…and so on and so forth. It was almost weird never really finding a comfort zone talking to this guy, but that was okay with me. Like I said, time flew by with a quickness.

We talked about Tie Tuesdays (why he was dressed so nicely), the Marines, Military Service, JAG, law school, life, being a drill sergeant, motivation, and just very random things. Next thing I knew he was standing up and saying, “Hey, I have Contracts now, will you be here tomorrow?”

“Is it time to go already?” I asked, in shock, pleasure, and another strange mix of disappointment and relief.

I’m grateful for him keeping me company and just…being. I don’t know why I’m grateful really, but when I thought about it today, he was one of the first things that popped into my head as me being grateful for. So, there you go, Bryan. I’m grateful that I met you.

3. Thing: Air Conditioning

This should be self-explanatory. California has been suffering from an onslaught of extreme temperatures. I was in UC Davis and Sacramento yesterday for work, and boy was it H-O-T. Granted it might not have been as hot as Los Angeles, but it was still a scorching 103. I was so glad that everywhere I went, I was greeted by a blast of cold air, thanks to this marvelous invention.

I think I might have had an aneurysm if AC didn’t exist. Whew!

Gratitude Project Day 1: Check.

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I’ve been trying to figure out this strange restlessness in me, wondering when I’m going to “get there.” This blog entry pretty much nailed it. All the short-term pleasures are exactly that: short-term. I find myself wallowing in the troughs between the peaks of indulgence and wondering why I’m not “happy” at those times.

He calls it self-actualization–and I’ve been calling it my search for a “deeper meaning.”

I don’t know what to do yet. I am certainly still playing the “waiting game” of “when I get that job” then I can start figuring out the rest of my life.

But at least I know I’m not the only one trying to define happiness that lasts.

What is happiness anyway? It hit me across the back of the head like an angry parent. There I was, minding my own business, wallowing about in a mopey state of woe at my dissatisfaction with my own life, when reality bit me fair on the butt. Hard. I regularly bang on (and on, and on) about the importance of independence, that is, not seeking a partner to complete ones-self, but rather, ones who complements us. I rant on about the importance of goals, incremental personal … Read More

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When I looked at you, my life made sense. Even the bad things made sense. They were necessary to make you possible.
-Jonathan Safran Foer

I wonder if there really are people out there that come into your life and throw everything into complete disarray…and yet you accept the disarray because, well…because it made sense.  Maybe part of it is because you allowed everything to happen the way it did. You turned a blind eye, told yourself you’d deal with the consequences later on, or worse–you believed that it was okay that things were bad because it was just how they were. It was the only way to make that person a possibility in your life.

How does someone like that make sense?

Maybe if only to show us that it doesn’t.

A person’s life can’t all be made up of good things. It’s part of the theory of relativity. Each person is tested by their own fire. Each person has their own demons. Each one has that one person that only exists to remind them of how things can be so good…and how things can be so bad. Each one has their polarizing person. Or two. Or three. Who knows? Maybe as many as it takes to learn your lesson.

Maybe it stays painful for as long as it takes to learn what’s good for you.

You’ll keep seeing this person, keep feeling this person because…well, it just makes sense and still does.

I don’t get it, and I can’t possibly explain how I feel. Except that…the quote above reminded me of you. And maybe who you’re supposed to be in my life.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

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…um…okay. I guess.

_________________________________________________________________

Today, I was sitting in the coffee shop studying for the California Bar when this guy just comes up to me and asks me if I thought the music was too loud. I look up, pull out one headphone, assess the coffee shop music and give a small cursory nod of agreement. “Yeah, it’s kind of loud,” I agree.

He nods, “That’s what I thought. I just asked them to lower the volume.”

I shrug, pop my earphone back on, then turn back to my books.

“So, do you live around here?”

I pause in the middle of trying to remember exactly how to analyze res ipsa loquitur and look up at him again. I pop out the earphone again. “What?” I ask, politely.

“Do you live in downtown?”

I’m a nice person. I wouldn’t just give this guy the death glare. But I was mildly irritated. I was focused dammit. Do you know how hard it is to get into the zone with Torts?!?

So, I give him a small smile. “Yeah, I do.”

“It’s a nice area.”

Really? Really?! Small talk? I nod. “I like it, yeah.”

I try to turn back away. I mean, it was obvious, right? He’s standing over my table, I’ve got my laptop, my books and an assortment of papers all around me, and I’m popping my earphone back in.

“So you’re in law, huh?”

OMG. If only lasers came out of my eyes.

“Yeah…I’m actually studying for the Bar…”

“That’s cool. Where did you go to school?”

Can someone please tell me how to not be evil and cut this person off? Cuz it turns out, I don’t know how, and I spent a good solid 20 minutes talking to this guy.

I find out he’s a neurosurgeon. He owns a condo in downtown and a house in Newport Beach. How can someone so successful and awesome on a resume just not get that I was in the zone?

Finally, he goes off, grabs a seat somewhere and reads the paper.

An hour later, he’s back. “Hey, so I’m leaving. Let me give you my number.”

I’m snapped out of my zone again. Wtheck, man?! I have a schedule. A regimen.

And besides, how do I say, “Actually, no, don’t.” or even politely smile and say, “I’d rather you didn’t.”???

So, I smile politely and say, “Um, okay?”

He takes my post-it pad and tears off the front page where I had scribbled some pages on the book I had to review and writes his number(s) down. Wha—? Nobody rips off just anybody’s post-it notes! NOOOO!

He looks at me, straight in the eye. I swear to you it was like the staring game. I was too scared to blink. “Call me,” he says.

Um…no? I really don’t want to? — again, how does one really say that?!?

I don’t really say anything. Maybe I mumbled an ‘okay’ or smiled and nodded. I don’t know. He waves and leaves the coffee shop.

I sigh. Here’s one more number I don’t know what to do with.

So, I don’t get it: Aren’t guys supposed to ask for my digits?  What’s with the “let me leave you my number” or “here’s my number if you want to hang out” or the “I left something on your desk”?

Coop says it’s a no-risk move for a guy.

What about for the girl?

Because, sure, while I didn’t particularly like the intrusion of the coffee-shop guy, there was one guy that gave me his number. But I wasn’t sure if it was a gesture of friendship or interest. And don’t get me wrong, I am interested in him. But man, now the ball was on my court and I don’t know what to do!?! I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.

I guess I’m a girl in the traditional sense. I like being pursued. I like being the one invited out as opposed to “calling if I wanna hang out”.

I don’t know. Am I just mental? Am asking too much in this modern world? Am I just really chicken-shit when the ball is in my court?

I think the answer to that is yes.

Maybe next time someone I couldmaybekindof be interested in tries to give me his number, I should just say, “Actually, lemme give you my number.”

Problem solved.

GENIUS.

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There is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of these lovable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable. The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else; they’re often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really, want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else.

— Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself To Live

The score as it is now is pretty even. Some days, I feel like he still wins and that I’ll always compare everyone with him. But most days, I figure I’m happy. I have amazing friends, I find a reason to laugh and something to love every day.

And I’m convinced that someone someday will sweep me off my feet that I won’t even know what hit me. I won’t even have the moment to compare. I can only fall, fall, fall in love.

It’s not happened yet. So for now, I’ll concede that we’re even.

But be warned: I’m in this life to win.

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