Archive for the 'awesome' Category

the future is so much awesomer than the past

Happy 2010! Since that last post, there have been a few adjustments to my life. For one, I’ve decided to stay in the Bay Area for at least another year (unless I get a really good job offer in NYC, or I end up not finding a job and entering the Peace Corps for four years). For another, I’ve figured out most of my game plan for the next five years. Also, 2009’s finally over and it’s the fucking future! They say 2010 is the start of a good stretch for the Rabbit.

My decision to stay on the West Coast was a hard one, but it’s nice to have family around when you’re just getting started in the real world, just in case you fuck up and they have to save your sorry ass. But yup, I’m probably moving to San Francisco the first chance I get, given that most of my friends are up there and I’m turning into a hermit in my house. “Empire State of Mind” still makes me feel both homesick and proud, but I’ve got history here, now, too.

As for doing the things I want to do: I still don’t know exactly what career I’m going to end up in, but I know for sure I’ll be doing lots of music on the side. There’s this producer in Daly City I’m working with to make some epic vocal trance, and one day when we have a place to practice, my Motown punk band will be back on. And I will eventually edit and re-write my novel and get it published, but I’m going to try and find some meaningful work first, hopefully involving a fun, possibly do-gooding company or NGO. Yes, this is not the starving artist schtick I expected it to be, but you can’t really do that when you’re 22 with a Stanford diploma and $100k in debt ($200k with interest!). I might as well be useful.

So, I’ll be investing my free time in music, my extra money in stocks and savings, and all of my trust in only my closest friends. The student loan thing is still a problem, but I think it’s one I can solve. Things are on the up and up.

P.S. I’m sorry that this blog hasn’t been living up to its name. There hasn’t been much serious “transit” going on besides the CalTrain and BART I take to get to SF. I’ll try to write more pieces on cultural stuff, but since I’m staying put, this blog is effectively on indefinite hiatus. PTFO.

ahoy again

It’s been a very, very strange year. I wish I could get a do-over, but at the same time I’d MUCH RATHER NOT have to go through all that crazy shit a second time. I graduated and transitioned into the real world of unemployment and despair. I went to Burning Man (again). I got dumped (again). I went to war with and cut myself off from some crazy, pushy, confounding, conniving people, stressed to the point that I had to question my priorities, my morals, and the very nature of my character, and sometimes I still have to remind myself why I did what I did. I moved back in with my parents and got a sweet little dog who cries when she’s alone. I’ve got lots of free time now, and I spend it working on two novels I’ve written for NaNoWriMo, tinkering with GarageBand and my resume, learning how to drive, and trying not to get cabin fever.

I realized that the three-year cycle that keeps me ever “transitory” is coming around again, and after a two-week jaunt to NYC in October, the “Empire State of Mind” song is stuck in my head. I really might go back to where I came from, that ghetto-ass Chilltown that my sister and I spent years trying to forget. I think I want to finally live in the city proper. I think I’m finally prepared.

Then again, I’ve got a bunch of loans to repay, and maybe staying under my parents’ roof would be a better idea. I don’t know. I’ve talked to so many people this past month. Some of them are my age, or younger, or decades older, with kids a decade younger than I am. Some of them are still at Stanford, some graduated with me and are still unemployed, some have been working the same insanely cushy job for the past five years, some are my parents’ friends who have been working for the past five decades.

I’ve told each person something different about myself and what I want in a job. Everything I’ve said has been true. Everything I’ve said has been me talking out of my ass. I’ve gotten more advice than I know what to do with.

My sister scared me best: You have a degree that will make you more money than mine will, but because of that you also have more debt than I ever had. Pay your dues.

A thirtysomething friend and father of two put it this way: It’s never too late to do what you want to do.

I feel like my clock is ticking, but this is a recession. Despite all of those newspaper articles on people finally chasing their dreams because they lost their jobs and are retooling their priorities, I need to be making bank.

I’m clinging to hope. A friend currently at Columbia told me about a fellow neuroscience Ph.D. candidate who is in a fairly popular Brooklyn indie band. The guy spends all day at his job and all night rehearsing and doing gigs. Sure, you can always make time. Am I really that dedicated, though?

of bilinguals and road trips

I’m now in a youth hostel in Québec, putting my feet up on their old church pew chairs in the recreation room as I type and plan my next few days. (The pews are actually kind of creepy. I think this was part of an old monastery or something. Or maybe the pew benches were just really cheap on Craigslist.)

Montréal was a fun place, except that it was completely dead since the Jazz Festival just ended and I stayed there on Monday and Tuesday night, so no hoppin’ clubs to check out. But hey, they had fantastic beer at the bars. (More like tavernes since people all knew each other and it was cozier, it seemed.)

Sorry, but omfg I can’t understand you guys at all

I still can’t pinpoint exactly what makes the French here sound so different. I can tell whether a Canadian Francophone is stronger at English by the way they speak French (it’s just the slightest hint of a Canadian English accent, but I can pick up on it), but while I know that Quebeckers (which sounds so much more ducklike than Québecois) speak French so strangely that Parisians stop in their tracks to listen, they sound less conspicuously non-Parisian than shopkeepers and bus drivers in southern France. I have to listen carefully to hear the slightly AFLAC duck difference. That said, 1) sometimes I really DO hear quacking ducks! but mostly because 2) I still can’t understand Québecois French to save my goddamned life.

It’s like the Utopia of bilingualism

A lot of staff in establishments in Montréal were bilingual. I think they’re all required to speak English and French, but there are some who do so with complete ease and you know that they were born and raised in the city. I love it. It’s like the bilingual signs all over Canada… except that the signs are completely in French once you get to Québec (perhaps a vestige of their European counterparts’ snobbishness? lol).

Anyway, to illustrate: the cashier at the bookshop near McGill that I chilled out at greeted me with a “Bonjour, hi!” and switched to English once she saw what language my book was in. And on the train ride here, there were a bunch of old people who spoke French in the line for the bathroom, but then a guy piped up in English and they all switched to fluent English and I was like WHOA!

I know that all the politics behind this shit is pretty serious and polarized, but man, to have a thirty-second moment like that…

But what effing language should I be speaking, guys?

They say in Montréal you should always try to speak French, or at least start all your conversations with “Bonjour!”. It’s a sign of respect. It’s almost like Paris– you don’t always get an A+ for effort, but in a place where people bitch and whine about everything all the goddamn time, a B is pretty stellar. However, if you’re fluent in English and sound like you’re fluent in French (à la moi-même), starting the conversation in French can be kind of hard because they might continue the conversation in French, and then you’ll have to ask them to repeat themselves multiple times because you’ve only ever heard Parisian French and you can’t understand them to save your goddamned life (and then they’ll start to think that you’re mentally challenged). Then the person you’re speaking to will have three options: 1) continue in English, 2) continue in French, but really ridiculously slowly, or 3) just say everything in both (“Vous allez où, where are you going?”). Needless to say, #2 doesn’t happen too much. But hey, you’d definitely get an A+ for effort… if they ever find out that you’re actually American. -_-;;;

n.b.: I’m really sorry if I’ve offended anyone by comparing their language to quacking ducks. It was the best analogue I could come up with.

my fake graduation, and why i’m not getting a job this summer

Since I took a quarter off last year and seriously messed up my schedule (I was originally planning to take an entire year off, remember?), I’m actually getting my diploma next year. But I walked in this year’s graduation because I am in the class of 2008 and wanted to walk with my friends. (That, and my family wanted a reason to see Oprah’s commencement speech.)

Unfortunately, my decision to have a fake graduation is having unexpected repercussions. I keep reminding my parents that I haven’t, but everyone they know still thinks that I’ve actually graduated. This means that I’m gonna have to try to avoid all of my parents’ friends for the next twelve months so I don’t have to give them that awkward explanation that no, I haven’t actually graduated yet– ‘coz then they’ll give me that strange look that Filipinos reserve for failures, fags, and teenage girls who get knocked up way too soon. -_-;

But I digress. (And I shouldn’t really care ‘coz in a year’s time, I’m graduating from Stanford, bitches! And then I’m gonna be a rock star.)

Anyway, my aunt from Toronto is helping my mom plan a July trip to Toronto, Montréal and Québec as a graduation present. (I think she knows the deal.) This is in addition to my very first Burning Man in August, my mom and sister’s Waikiki vacation in early September (which I ended up tagging along on), and a weekend in Jersey in late September for my sister’s best friend’s wedding.

I seriously thought I was done with all the traveling after last year, but apparently not. (Surprise!) This strange (and touristy :P) itinerary of mine makes it difficult for me to get a summer job that doesn’t involve Stanford psych experiments or strange odd jobs on Craigslist. But I still need a way to pay for that $300 Burning Man ticket, so psych experiments it is…

american whitebreadism: a double standard in political correctness

It’s only been on the Interwebs for like, not even two full months, but it’s gonna hit your nearest word-of-mouth source of awesome real soon.

Let me direct you to a fellow WordPress blog called Stuff White People Like. It’s a blog written like a handbook for foreigners to “white” (i.e. American liberal yuppie/hippie) culture, and handily pounces on the American double standard of using political correctness towards minorities while subjecting the majority “white” population to all forms of ridicule.

Why do you think this double standard exists? Well, this American whitebread culture has our world by the balls, and if people who have to be PC couldn’t make fun of it either, there’d be a public outcry against whitebread cultural dictatorship.

(In this blog, I am coining the term “American whitebread (A.W.)” to loosely refer to an ethnic and cultural group that consists of the mostly-Caucasian, monocultural, monolingual majority in the United States. According to Wikipedia, whitebread has already been used in the past by the Soviets to derogatorily refer to Americans, but the generic term can also refer to certain portions of the Canadian population. Anti-whitebreadism would refer to derogatory remarks towards this group.)

My favorite post was #19 Traveling. (For people who have read this blog, you can see how it’s a no-brainer for me and my dislike of sketchy old white guys.) Here’s an excerpt:

Every white person takes at least one trip to Europe between the ages of 17-29. During this time they are likely to wear a back pack, stay at a hostel, meet someone from Ireland/Sweden/Italy with whom they have a memorable experience, get drunk, see some old churches and ride a train.

What’s amazing is that all white people have pretty much the same experience, but all of them believe theirs to be the first of its kind. So much so that they return to North America with ideas of writing novels and screenplays about their experience.

Upon returning home, they will also find an affinity for a particular beer or liquor from a country they visited. They use this as an excuse to mention their travels when at a bar. “Oh, I’ll have a Czechznlishiyush Pilsner. You see, that was my favorite beer when I was travelling through Slovenia and the Czech republic.”

And it gets even better from there. (My second favorite post would be #75 Threatening to Move to Canada.)

I love this blog because I’ve done this same scrutiny of the French, Japanese and Filipinos, but I’ve never done it for the culture I’ve been immersed in for most of my life. (Okay, mostly just the past four years– living in Jersey City doesn’t count.) And it’s sort of like one of those “You Know You’re ______ When…” lists. You nod in agreement or laugh out loud or go “Hmm!” when something rings totally true… or applies to you.

My count so far? 26…ish. Not completely whitewashed, but oh-so-very liberal hippie.

elvis is back in the building

It’s strange for me to see my friends from Stanford now. A lot of them I haven’t been in touch with, so when I see them for the first time in who knows how long, I don’t know whether to hug them, kiss them, double-kiss them, wai them, etc. Having the Philippines as my last stop brought back all the Filipino manners I had when I was a kid (before my sister and I got overly Americanized), so now I’m “po“-ing everyone at home and I’ve forgotten a lot of the American mannerisms I picked up from four years of living on a mostly white college campus. I’m kind of scared to conduct myself in front of non-family members now.

But besides that, I’m back in a land where the customer service is fantastic, the people are so effing friendly, liberals rule the intellectual elite, vegetarians are heartily welcomed, and I can speak my mind.

WHOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I’M BAAAAACCCKKKK!!!!!!

about liverpool (and european security)

How to get a free ride on the RER to Charles de Gaulle Airport
1. Get to Gare du Nord at 6:30 in the freaking morning.
2. Try to buy a ticket to CDG from the ticket machine, then remember that French ticket machines don’t take bills, and thus you are expected to pay 8.40 euro with either a bank card or loose change.
3. Say “fuck that shit” and notice that one of the ticket barriers to the RER, as always at the Gare du Nord, is completely open.
4. Enter and find the platform that leads to CDG.
5. Get on the train.
6. Pray that the metro Nazis aren’t going to swoop down on your car and charge you 50 euro for not having a ticket. (Well it’s not like you have to pay that fine anyway…)
7. Get off at CDG Terminal 1, and notice that the exit doesn’t even *allow* purchased metro tickets to be used upon exit because they’re broken… or because it’s so early in the morning.
8. Realize you don’t need a ticket to leave if you enter through the disabled set of doors.
9. Exhale. Or, mutter “What the fuck?” under your breath over and over again.

How to leave France with an expired visa and with no proof that your application for a temporary residence permit is currently being processed
Pre-requisite: have an American passport.
1. Go to the airport with your passport. (And get your boarding pass if you haven’t already.)
2. Realize that you have an expired visa and your temporary residence permit is still being processed, so you may not be able to leave the country.
3. Go to the passport control officers and hope they don’t notice anything.
4. Get your passport stamped.
5. Go through security.

How to get on a French EasyJet flight on time
1. Get your boarding pass right when check-in opens and get through security.
2. Arrive at the gate during the time that they’re scheduled to open it and discover that no one’s there.
3. Wait at the gate for an hour.

How to get back into France from Liverpool with an expired visa and with no proof that your application for a temporary residence permit is currently being processed
Pre-requisite: have an American passport.
1. Get drunk.
2. Get on the plane.
3. Get off the plane.
4. Wait in the passport control line still drunk or with a hangover.
5. Decide to laugh at everything that happens, even if you *do* get deported.
6. Find yourself in line with a gaggle of 5th grade Liverpudlians.
7. Get waved through the passport control with the kids.


What?

This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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