Out of the new people I’ve met in the past month and a half here, I’ve only maintained any form of a consistent friendship with one couple who live in my building. I met them a couple days before classes started, during a social event specifically for residents in my building. The girl is a graduate student in sociology, and the guy moved here with her.

One interesting thing about my university (I don’t know if it’s true elsewhere) is that they have housing for couples, even when only one person in the couple is a student. It’s a nice deal. I also found out during that social event that the vast majority of apartments in my building were for couples, which could explain the initial setup of my apartment having only one queen-sized bed.

Anyway, beyond a few Facebook messages every couple days, I only see this couple of friends about once a week. We’ve been trying to go to dinner once a week, usually on Fridays or Saturdays. I think we’ve only missed one weekend so far, probably because I was in The City. As the couple are new to the city (moving here from way out of state), we try a new restaurant every week. In past weeks, we’ve done sushi, Japanese BBQ, and Greek.

This week (this was yesterday), we went to a local restaurant fairly close to campus. I suppose the food would be classified as “American,” but in an upscale way (like lamb and duck entrées instead of burgers). Actually, every restaurant we’ve tried is upscale, some more than others. The city surrounding Prestigious University is a very rich area, so all of the restaurants are pricier than if we were somewhere else. The portions are a bit smaller too.

My sociology friend loves dessert almost more than I do (and she doesn’t restrain herself the way I usually do), so we always get dessert after dinner. This time, we went to a Cold Stone Creamery that was in the same plaza as the American restaurant. As usual, I took a long time to decide what to get, so I ordered last.

I ordered a scoop of Oreo cream ice cream and a scoop of chocolate ice cream, mixed with cookie dough and chocolate shavings, all in a chocolate-dipped waffle bowl (I had never ordered one before). The guy behind the counter was friendly and talkative (and possibly a little high), so my friends and I reciprocated (we didn’t get high). Before putting my ice cream into the waffle bowl, the guy mentioned that he would make it “a little special” and added some chocolate syrup to the bowl. When he rung me up, he didn’t charge me for both the chocolate syrup and the waffle bowl. I was appreciative, so I put a couple dollars in the tip jar.

Once my friends and I sat down to eat (and for me to take a picture of my huge dessert), my sociology friend leaned in and told me that the guy behind the counter was “totally food-flirting” with me. I was, of course, completely oblivious to it, but the free chocolate syrup and waffle bowl were strong evidence. My two friends didn’t get any discount for anything.

I never officially “came out” to my new friends, but I’ve made small comments in passing to subtly hint that I’m gay. Our exchange about the guy food-flirting with me confirmed that they got the message. I’m at an age now when my sexuality really shouldn’t be an issue anymore. I didn’t make a big deal out of it, and neither did they. It was perfect, and it was exactly what I wanted. I really feel more grown up now, and it’s wonderful. Well, I’m not completely grown up, since I clearly can’t read flirting cues.

My friends and I sat at Cold Stone until it closed. We were the last customers to leave. When we left and were walking past the front window, I noticed that the guy behind the counter was watching me (not in a creepy way). I looked at him and smiled as I walked away.

It was a great evening.


Diverging From Expectations

I ran into an old acquaintance/friend on campus today. It was very random, considering that she’s not a student at the university. I hadn’t seen her since I graduated from high school about ten years ago.

In the Chinese-American world in which my friend and I grew up, it was expected for us to do well (i.e., get straight A’s) in high school, attend a prestigious university (Ivy League or better), and get a well respected, high paying job right out of school so our parents can brag about us to the rest of the Chinese-American community (a graduate degree from a prestigious university is optional only if there isn’t a company wanting to hire you before you even finish college).

Of course, neither of us lived up to these expectations, but my friend’s story is more interesting than mine. She had straight A’s in high school and was accepted to a very prestigious university but dropped out after a year for medical reasons. All her goals (projections of her parents’ goals for her) fell away. She spent many years soul searching before she eventually found Christianity. Her goal now is to be a missionary and someday return to college. Note that most Chinese people (including my friend’s parents) frown upon religious jobs, mostly because those jobs don’t make much money (relative to jobs in business, medicine, law, or engineering).

All these years later, she has mostly come to terms with how her life has turned out (I’m sure Christianity helped with that), but she still often feels ashamed that she didn’t live up to the expectations she grew up with.

It’s interesting how far our lives diverge from what we expect when we’re kids. While many of my friends my age now have Ph.D.’s, have high paying jobs, are buying houses, and/or are married with children, I don’t feel behind. Everyone’s path is different. I have my own timeline. I’ve learned and grown from every experience and every hardship. I wouldn’t change anything. I value where I am and what I do so much because of where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Good times.

I like to think that everything happens for a reason. Maybe my “random” encounter with an old friend who lost her way was so that I could share what I’ve learned about life with her. Just a thought.

Dogs And Video Games

The six hour drive up to Monterey wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I was never sleepy and made great time. Having an iPod and CDs (in case my iPod ran out of battery or mysteriously died on me) of upbeat music helped.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but by the end of the weekend, I felt a little disappointed. A large proportion of the time my friend and I had together was spent taking care of his dog. We went to a dog park and watched my friend’s dog mingle with the other dogs in the neighborhood while my friend mingled with the other dog owners. My friend has only had his dog for about six months, so he talked about his dog constantly.

When we were in college, my friend and I played a lot of video games together. Recently, though, I’ve found myself playing video games less frequently. I don’t have the patience to play for hours on end anymore. Unfortunately, my friend still has such patience. If we weren’t taking care of his dog, we were playing video games (often accompanied by two of his roommates, who are also avid gamers).

The one touristy thing I wanted to do was visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I haven’t been there in a while, and I’m not in the area very often. I know my friend loves aquariums as much as I do, so I thought he would be up for going. I mentioned (a few times) to my friend that I was interested in going, but we never went. Somehow, between the dog park and endless video games, we ran out of time.

I haven’t gone into everything I’m thinking about (and I left out a lot of details), but I feel like my friend and I have grown apart. Or rather, my friend seems like the exact same person he was when I last saw him, but I’ve changed somehow. I feel like something is different between us, and it isn’t him.

When it was time for me to head back home, my friend did express how he was glad that I went up to visit him. He had a lot of fun. Despite everything above, I had fun too. But I don’t think a friendship can last on video games alone. Not anymore.


School is consuming all of my time and energy. On weekdays, I carpool with my parents, so I get dropped off on campus at around 9am. After my classes are done for the day, I spend a few hours in the library until my parents pick me up around 6pm. When I get home, I continue to study and do homework until around 12 or 1am. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

My weekends are also filled with studying (though I do take a little time off every now and then). Even though my homework assignments are due on Fridays, I like to get a jump start on the next week’s assignments over the weekend so I don’t fall behind.

I was a pretty good student when I went to college the first time, but I don’t think I was this studious before. My outlook on life is different now, and my motivation has changed. I’ve been out in the “real world,” so I understand what’s at stake. I’m not in school just to get good grades or get a degree (I’m not getting one right now anyway); I’m in school to learn the material so I can use it in the future.

It helps that my statistics classes are specifically designed to be applied in the practical world. My professors often express how important and universal statistics is, and we often analyze real data that my professors have used in their work. I don’t know how much the other students appreciate this, but the connections to real life fascinate me, and I stay motivated to learn more.

I think this all means I grew up a lot over the last couple years and I didn’t even realize it. Being lost wasn’t a total loss.

My Own Two Feet

After a few days with my friends in Las Vegas, talking to them and thinking about my future, I decided to accept the accounting position. While the end decision seems like the obvious choice, I didn’t make the choice easily.

Before I revealed my final decision, I had a talk with the operations manager (who will be my supervisor). She told me the initial salary, which, as I expected, is a substantial pay cut. But there is room to grow. Beyond the starting job description, I can take on more roles within the accounting department and maybe eventually manage the whole department so that the operations manager can focus on her myriad of other responsibilities. Even further than that, I could end up as the controller, controlling all the finances for the company. If I end up liking accounting and deciding to pursue it outside of my company, the growth potential is even greater.

When I told my boss my decision, he didn’t seem surprised or upset. I think he already knew what I would choose; he knows me pretty well. From here, he’s going to talk to the operations manager to see when exactly the transition will happen. He’s hoping to find a replacement for me before I make the move, but the operations manager is pretty anxious for someone to help her handle her accounting responsibilities (she really has too many things to do).

All the friends to whom I’ve talked to about this (including a few coworker friends) thought that changing to accounting was a good idea. I guess I made it well known that I wasn’t too happy with my sales job. However, when I told my parents over dinner, they seemed shocked that I would make such a decision. Because I’m “lucky” and “do well at sales,” they thought I should stay in sales because of the potential financial returns. My mom was especially upset by my low starting salary, exclaiming that with my master’s degree, the amount was absurd (I’m paraphrasing, but it’s an equivalent sentiment). I had to explain all my reasoning to them, but I still don’t think I convinced them.

In many ways, this change is important for me. Not only does this mean I get to leave sales behind, but I also feel like I’m standing on my own two feet. The fact that I made this decision based on what I think is best, knowing full well that my parents thought otherwise, is a big step for me. Even though I’ll be making less money for a while, I think I made the right choice.


I’m not sure if this post is disconnected or really conveys what I’m feeling. Still, I needed to type it.

One of my very best friends is my roommate from college. We lived on the same floor in the dorms my freshman year, and we ended up living together throughout the whole rest of my college career. After we graduated, we maintained contact, but being in different cities (even different countries for a while) makes it difficult to keep our old connection. Email just isn’t the same as face to face conversation.

A few years ago, not long after we graduated, my friend’s mom suddenly got a brain tumor. She fought long and hard dealing with surgery and lots of chemo. It was a scary time. Everything happened so quickly, and my friend really wasn’t ready to lose him mom (though, really, who’s ever ready for that). I tried to offer my support and my ear, but there was really nothing I could do.

Luckily, his mom made it through the ordeal with flying colors. She recovered quite well. Everything seemed fine until about a month ago. My friend’s mom fell in her backyard and broke her hip. After surgery and staying in the hospital for a long time, she returned home, but she still had pain in her leg. Moreover, she had lost a lot of use of the left side of her body. My friend and his dad had to take care of her basically 24 hours a day.

Just yesterday, my friend and his family received the news that my friend’s mom’s brain tumor had returned, only deeper into her brain, so deep in fact that previous treatment methods would be mostly ineffectual.

 It had actually been about nine months since I last emailed my friend until this week. I tried to restart communication between us, because I really don’t like going for so long without talking to my best friend (I hate the idea of growing apart). But it seems that I have bad timing. When my friend sent me the email telling me all of the recent developments with his mom, I was at a loss for words.

Obviously, there’s nothing I can do or say that can really make things better for my friend or his mom. I originally had wanted to catch up with him on how he’s doing, but it all seems so trivial now. I certainly can’t just shoot the breeze or talk about how I’ve been.

As his (former?) best friend, I want to be there for him and give him a great big hug. He lives about 8 or 9 (driving) hours away from me though, so it’s difficult to be there for him in person. The only thing I can do at this point is offer my thoughts and deepest sympathies to him and his family and let him know that I’m always there for him if he needs me.

Knowing that my friend is going through so much makes me feel terrible that I can’t do anything to help him. I really wish I could do more. I feel so helpless, though I’m sure my friend and his family feel even moreso.

I absolutely hate it when I grow apart from my friends, especially since we were best friends. But when this ordeal is eventually resolved, I feel like my friend will have had to grow up much more quickly than me. I’m not sure how things can ever be the same. Things are so rough for him and his family, I can’t even imagine.

This whole situation has been weighing on my mind all day today. In the end, all the stress I have about sales, my financial situation, and my future are pretty unimportant in the grand scheme of things. The things that truly matter in life are your friends and family.

Growing Apart From Target

Working at Target today felt different. Now that I only work once a week, I miss a lot of what happens in the store when I’m not working. There are new interns training to be executives, and we’ve hired a few new people, but I haven’t met or been introduced to any of them.

One of the big reasons why I like working at Target so much is because I really feel like I’m part of a team. Lately, though, my team is changing, and it’s changing without me.

It’s like when you go away for college and all your high school friends stay behind and hang out together. They all grow up together, and when you come back, everything feels both familiar and completely different. You change and grow up, too, but in your own way.

It’s not a bad thing, of course. It’s just not the same as it was.