I just got back from lunch with my friend Angela. We ate at Shanghai Bun, which we've eaten at a bunch of times, and provides pretty decent and authentic Shanghainese fare. Angela is Chinese but is really enthusiastic about stuff that falls under the American stereotype of Chinese food. She likes General Tso's and fried rice in particular.
"I'm apparently a bad Chinese person," she said once, referring to the time her parents visited her in D.C. They went out to a Chinese place that she thought was pretty good. "They were just clearly disappointed. It was just not up to their standards."
Angela's birthday just passed this Thursday, and her Dad's birthday on Monday, so she came all the way down from Boston last night to celebrate with her parents and also take a few things from their house in West Windsor back up to Boston.
It was pretty refreshing to hang out. Angela was one of only really two friends I have around these parts--friends who are not also friends with my brothers. Zarrar got his approval to return to Yale a few months ago, and had been living in NYC, anyway, closer to his work. Angela left for her MFA program at Emerson as August was coming to the close. It was the middle of my trip to Minnesota.
The stack, bundle, or heap of unentered receipts still in my wallet attests that I haven't really recovered from drive out to Minnesota. It's not as though I've really recovered from 2013, 2012, or even 1998. The receipts form only the newest layer of the newest stratum of personal backlogs.
Minnesota--I like Minnesota a lot, and I'm glad Bryce is out there. It's not as diverse as the East Coast (and there's little way it could be as diverse as the school district that Zarrar, Angela, and I grew up with) but it's more diverse than I expected. And it's not a complete, made up generalization that people there are friendlier and a lot more laid back. They're focused more on living, and less on superficial achievement--was Bryce's characterization, which I think works all right.
It makes sense why my mom's family settled just fine in tiny Brownsdale, Minnesota
, coming straight from the Philippines. The climate and the typical hair color (more blonde people in one place than I have seen in my life) were different. But the openness, friendliness, and expectations of politeness work just fine. And the folksiness! Filipinos can be folksy to the max, and that worked just fine in that tiny, tiny town. I'm the eldest grandchild on my mom's side, and before my cousins were born I grew up with the coming to America stories. My Uncles and Aunts racing snowmobiles, the kids being in the July 4th parade, getting snowed during the heavy winters and having to climb out the second floor window to get to school (Neil Armstrong high school--best name.)
I'll have to write about our actual Minnesota trip (and my crazy solo voyage back) some other time. There's too much to say.
I do wonder what it'd be like if I uprooted and went there for a while. The Twin Cities is a pleasant, affordable place to live, especially around Dinkytown--and of course I'm saying this as a person with by crazy preferences.
But my trajectory is probably taking me elsewhere. In a couple months, back to NYC--a city with less of a reputation for friendliness, folksiness, or affordability. If I don't end up staying, it's probably off to a different hub of happening things, a different gathering place for misfits of the world.
Angela just celebrated her 30th, and just about everyone else in my graduating year is due for the three decade stamp if they haven't gotten it already. I'm up in--what? Nine weeks? Eight weeks? It doesn't register a bit. Most of my social world--my brothers, my cousins, our mutual friends--are all much younger, still going through college.
My friend Jerome (meanfreepath
) gets to wait for next year, but he's getting married
three weekends from now. I'm really excited, except for two things. One: I'm showing up for the special event still obese
, and I hope the nice-fitting tux I've ordered will smooth things out. Two: dinner table small talk with some
people. But I'm only just a little unexcited. I get along with Jerome's crowd just fine; I used to visit him every once in a while during his days at Swarthmore.
It's really just: time is going by so quickly. What did I do with it? Will I think the same thing come December? Will I have finances and logistics lined up to move back to the city?
The main thing I've got to figure out is income. I'll need a new job, or some other way of getting a paycheck once I move. The app I've been working on the past year and a half is going to be in the App Store soon, but I think of it a really basic, not so impressive thing. It only dragged on this long because I struggled so much with organizing and directing my attention. I want to be able to present some other portfolio pieces.
And do I actually know this stuff? My boss tells me that I must be an expert by now, in some areas. I wouldn't call myself an expert at all. iOS 8 came out, and there are still some developments from iOS 7 that I haven't really internalized. The scope of my preparation is overwhelming.
Thus comes the urgent quest to establish a system to help me compensate for my attentional challenges and train me to focus. Thanks to my friends, I've been exposed to what seem to be the best-in-breed when it comes to productivity techniques. They are great tools that work miracles--when you get them running. Your state of the art appliance work wonders, if you can get it plugged into a reliable electrical outlet, and can ensure that the vermin don't chew through the damn power cord.
It might not help that I've had the itch to be able to write lately. That's different from having the itch to write; the latter would imply that you enjoy the actual process. I don't assume that much.
Hearing Angela talk about what she's doing in her program was encouraging. I've been trying to write for fifteen minutes, maybe half an hour when I'm generous. Junk usually comes out. Angela has to spend large chunks of her days doing prewriting so she can get ideas for her poems. Then a few more days reworking the poem so she can present it to the workshop.
That kind of longer term working and reworking has become pretty alien to me at this point. The last ten years, aside from a few school papers, my model of writing was typing for a while, and agonizing, typing a bit more, setting the permissions, then hitting POST because it's 3AM and if I ain't gonna put it up now, I ain't never gonna.
I used to think that even that dose of pacing and hand-wringing was too much. I've yet to acknowledge, across the board, that things don't only just time, they take whole days, whole months, whole years, whole decades sometimes. I don't suppose I'll have accepted this once my thirtieth rolls around, either. I just hope I'll be too distracted to worry.