Archive for March, 2006

Review

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

So I had my work review yesterday.

It went fine. I can’t really go into details about it since it involves pay and whatnot.

But I do want to say this.

At the end of the review, Kal and I talked about a magazine article I had pointed out to him in India about Project A and Project B individuals. At least, I think the word was Project…it began with a P at least. Anyhow, the distinction is that Project A individuals are leaders who innovate and collaborate and drive the team, while Project B type people are support people, who fulfills tasks that are necessary, but not exactly forward thinking.

Kal then asked me what kind of person I thought I was.

I told him what I thought honestly

I told him that I thought I had the skill set to be a Project A person, but I didn’t have the confidence to be a Project A person. He replied by telling me that I was a Project A person and that we’d work on the confidence.

It stems back to worthiness. I usually defer command to someone else because I don’t think I’m capable or worthy of command. I find that I’d rather help out the person in command to the best of my ability. But I think there’s also a fear of some sort of responsibility, fear of blame that really drives me away from it. I think there’s also a fear of not being followed, that I’ll lead so poorly that people will mutiny.

I mean, I can always count on my own skills and my own work ethic to ensure success, but relying on other people, trusting other people to accomplish their goals isn’t something I’ve felt completely comfortable with, especially if the blame will fall to me.

I suppose that’s an odd dichotomy. I can trust myself to accomplish tasks, but I don’t trust myself to lead people. But I trust leaders and will help them accomplish their goals, but don’t expect the same from people below me. Strange.

But I’m slowly gaining management skills and building off of the little successes to help generate confidence. We’ll see how it goes.

Johari

Monday, March 27th, 2006

Several people I know have done these and I’m always curious about personality tests and what not.

So follow the link and click on the words that you think best describe me. I won’t take offense, seriously.


http://kevan.org/johari?name=FngKestrel

Unworthy

Friday, March 24th, 2006

It’s been a few days since Showing’s Birthday Party.

Seeing Showing brought up a bunch of feelings. Feelings related to the person I used to be when I was in Cal 12 years ago. At least in terms of interpersonal interactions and tempered through the haze of time. I felt like I didn’t belong in conversations. I think it was that way in Cal. I look back then and I do remember seeing being an outsider at times. I must have been involved somehow, right? My perception of the world colors my memories.

But I definitely didn’t feel at ease. Taller guys muscling into conversations, on the edges of conversations. It was reminiscent of interacting with Eddie, going as far back as high school.

And that’s where it’s depressing.

Have I not changed in 12 years? Have I not improved myself? I’m ever striving and yet even in the most mundane of situations, I crumple into old patterns.

It’s low self-esteem. Ever the killer.

It’s coming up at work, too. Jacob and I are on the same wavelength at times, but where as I’ll keep my mouth shut, he’ll go ahead and speak his mind. It’s happened a few times. I don’t fault him for it, but I don’t understand my hesitation. Self-doubt, self-flagellation, fear of embarassment, all keys to my tentativeness.

Low self-esteem. I don’t feel worthy of recognition, of notice.

Tall guys are commanding and women swoon over them. What can I do, bite their ankles? Younger, more intelligent individuals speak their mind and garner praise. What can I do, say, I thought of it too?

Meaningless.

I don’t want people telling me to cheer up or to think that this is false modesty and I’m fishing for compliments and props. Because that’s what they are, props. Take them away, and I sink back down again, ever dependent on the comments of others.

Where’s my backbone, in a dumpster somewhere? Should I go onto ebay and see if I can get one for a couple of bucks?

Now that I think about it, I think it had less to do with Showing and more to do with the environment I was in. My comfort zone. Where am I comfortable? Am I comfortable being a home body? Who am I comfortable with? I remember a few times I was having conversations with some extremely beautiful women (by my standards), and I just couldn’t hold a conversation. Not for lack of trying, but because I was physically shaking and nervous.

That’s not to say that women I can and do talk to now aren’t extremely beautiful, lest I offend any female readers. Both of you.

What about work? I thought I was comfortable there. At least, comfortable enough to spend almost every waking moment there.

But am I working that hard because I love the company, or because I’m afraid of losing my job?

Don’t rock the boat, so they say. They, being my parents.

Am I loyal for not taking time off? Or just stupid?

I’ve had horrible thoughts these past couple of days.

Just horrible.

Beaten

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

My head hurts.

My fingers hurt.

My body hurts.

I’m at a point right now that if I weren’t taking the class, everything would be hunky-dory. I’d be asleep at normal hours and I’d be smiling happily at the thought of the nice groove that I’m in.

But I’m not. I’m practically killing myself for this class, which is slapped on top of my work.

Heaven forbid I try to squeeze a life in there too.

But I brought it upon myself and I know that it’ll pay off in the future, provided I last that long.

But damn, do I hurt.

Fine Grade Mush

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

Man, what a waste of time. I opted to go home to work on my 3D stuff and when I got home at 1 in the morning, I ended up spending two hours in front of the computer doing nothing.

My mind has been reduced to a fine grade mush, incapable of coherent thought or useful work.

I’m under a little time pressure, aggravated by a lack of sleep and an excess of work.

Add to the fact that this weekend is getting more and more busy by the second and I’m ready to scream.

Deja mistake.

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

I just took my midterm for my class. And I got a question wrong! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! My perfect test scores, ruined! And the thing was, I knew I was going to get that question wrong. I had a feeling about it. My little head got mixed up on the process of creating a 3D model and I confused one part of the process for another part.

But yeah, the feeling that I was going to get it wrong. It was like deja vu, that I had been here before and pondered the question before. I thought I had gotten the question on a previous quiz, but looked around and didn’t see it.

I don’t think I rushed. I try to always print out my quiz and look over it carefully while going over the material.

Okay, it’s one freaking point.

In a class where the grade won’t matter for me.

But damn, it chaps my hide.

The last day

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

I felt it necessary to end the last entry where it did. There was nothing more to say on the matter.

The rest of the day was incidental in comparison.

So today was the last day. It was fairly mundane in comparison to everything else that’s happened.

I did manage to get on IM with Mike though, and he pointed me to Din Tai Fung, a dim sum place worth checking out. I pointed it out to my aunt and she knew it instantly.

So with lunch plans in hand, we waited.

We arrived at the restaurant, renowned for its xiao long bao, and I took in the crowd. It was a vast milling of people in front of a very frantic maitre’d. We got our number and an estimated wait time of 30 minutes.

I only state these mundane details to emphasize how extraordinary this restaurant is.

We had an order sheet before we went in and made our choices. Naturally, since the restaurant is known for their xiao long bao, we had three orders of the plain ones. I don’t think it was enough.

We get in and sit down. The food flowed forth. I can’t even begin to describe how perfect these dumplings are. They were delicate, the filling was subtle, and the skins were sheer. I can’t go back to the ones at Shanghai East anymore, since these xiao long bao have now been eternally ruined by this place. In addition to the xiao long bao, this place also has the most incredible shrimp fried rice. I have no idea how the egg is prepared for the dish, but every piece of rice seemed to be enveloped by the egg, so that it was smooth and fluffy.

It’s definitely on my must eat list next time I head to Taiwan.

After that, well, more waiting.

I tried to contact Shu Mei a few more times to say bye, but to no avail.

On my mind and in the back of my head.

And now I’m on this flight, which, with the tailwind, will only take 10 hours instead of the 13 1/2 that it took coming here.

Aeon Flux, Good Night and Good Luck, The Legend of Zorro, and Elizabethtown are all showing on this flight.

Aeon Flux is starting now. I wouldn’t pay to watch it, but I’m game.

Funeral

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

I was going to write a huge treatise on the way the funeral was handled. In fact, I was going to write it yesterday, when the funeral actually happened.

But everytime I closed my eyes and thought about it, the tears started welling up and I couldn’t do anything anymore.

I have plenty to write about. The ceremony was good and the weather was nice. It was a good day to put someone in the ground, to gain closure.

We were at the mortuary before she was put in the coffin. Standing in the hallway, with her body a foot away from me, lying on a metal gurney, was a real test. I kept hoping that she’d sit up and that we’d find out that it was just a morbid joke.

When we finally saw her, we saw that her head was shaved. I think it was from the rest home she was staying in. But it didn’t look like her. It was unreal. And when they put her in the coffin, it seemed fairly unceremonious, as two morticians huffed and heaved her body into the coffin. I kept thinking about 6 Feet Under and the conversation my grandmother would have with the guy preparing her.

There were several moments of finality, from the drilling they used to screw the glass plate over her, to the industrial strength glue gun they used to seal her in.

We finally rode with her to the church where the final ceremony was held. It was nice. There were flowers from people who had probably never met her, but had done it in deference to their relationship with my uncle.

I started to break down when we stood up at the front and the people greeted us and offered us their condolences. My family was already starting to cry, my aunt, my mom, one by one, our stoic veneers began to crumble. At a certain point, there was a horrible emptiness as I realized my grandmother would never be there to yell at me for eating roasted corn or show me how to turtle-tip in Super Mario Bros 2.

After everyone had left, we had a final chance to say goodbye and to put flowers on her. At that point, the veneer was completely gone.

.

.

.

After they closed the casket, we left for the graveyard where my grandfather was buried. I had been there several times before, to say goodbye to the grandfather I never knew and to revist him each time I went back to Taiwan. Across the way, there’s a gold range, where people constantly play, rain or shine.

We watched the pallbearers carry my grandmother up the stairs and down the path to their plot. And we watched them lower her coffin into the tomb. Resting eternally beside her beloved husband, there lays my grandmother.

Cultured Love

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

I met Shu Mei today after not seeing her in a couple of years. It was good to see her. She’s still as pretty as she was when I first met her, but that could just be the infatuation speaking. When I first met her, it was 6 years ago on a trip to Paris. There’s pictures floating around of us gallivanting about Germany and Paris, merrily on our way. It was fun. My awkward Chinese really provided a simplicity to our interaction, since I was reduced to pointing and gesturing. At the end of the trip, we had a very candid discussion (well, as candid as you can get in two word sentences) about relationships. She had a boyfriend at the time that she had been dating for a while.

Fast forward 3 years to my grandmother’s stroke. I manage to meet up with her in Taiwan through no small feat. It involved the aid of Jason rooting through e-mails, looking for phone numbers and e-mail addresses. But eventually we met. My Chinese was a little better and our interaction was a bit richer. She talked about her current boyfriend whom she was considering dumping because he wasn’t quite right for her. She knew it too, but was hemming and hawing.

Okay, so now this intro has dragged on like the intermediate part of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon where the girl meets the guy in the desert. But like that sequence, this has a point, as labored as it was to get to it.

Cut to present day. We meet up at Sogo and make our way to the train station. I see a picture of a baby on her cellphone and “innocently” ask her who it is, knowing full well the answer. The baby is hers and the boyfriend she was considering dumping 3 years back, well, she married him. Color me not surprised in the least.

Alright, if she’s happy, that’s great. But, as it turns out, he’s very traditionally Taiwanese, that is to say, he doesn’t help with the housework, doesn’t help with the kid, doesn’t lift a finger, expects her to be at his beckon call, doesn’t do shit. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best homemaker either, but I know the importance of having a fair relationship. And that’s the problem, he loves her more than she loves him, he’s traditionally Taiwanese, but from I could gather during our conversations, very insecure. All of which, in my book, spells trouble.

We met up with Jiang Ling, another woman that was in our tour group to France and they had their conversations and it came out that she’d probably leave the guy but she loves her child too much. So she’s in this life where she feels trapped. She works long hours, takes care of her kid, cleans, cooks, and takes care of her in-laws. I can see the quiet desperation in her eyes as she realizes that she has no time left for personal growth, which she desires badly.

Jiang Ling said that in time, she’ll find something in him or something in herself that will let her love him, but my naive American view is just upset that she’s in this position in the first place.

So I asked her why she married the guy if she didn’t love him. She said that he was a good person. You can imagine my irritation. Because he’s a good person. Sure that’s important on most people’s list of criteria and good can be subjective, but come on, doesn’t love figure into this somehow? There’s a concept of matching. In Chinese, the word is “pA” with a long a. I told her flat out that it sounded like she and her husband didn’t “pA.” Yes, Russ Fan here, consumate homewrecker. Going to hell in a handbasket surely. I’ll hold places for anyone interested. But my point here is that culturally, being a good person is more important than being in love.

I’m just calling it like I see it. I’m yelling out that the emperor has no clothes. Except that I’m not a child, so any offenses can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But there is a shining point in this. She loves her kid dearly. She’ll be a good mother, provided her sanity holds together.

And in all my aggravation, I didn’t even talk about the places we went today and how much fun we had. Ah, go look at the flickr pictures.

Feeling better

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

Well, I got out of the house today, and it was definitely much needed. Even though the weather was crappy, I still enjoyed the modicum of vitamin D that peeked through the clouds. I went to go see my paternal grandmother, who’s looking pretty spry for 101. She’s still hounding me about the girlfriend/wife/kids thing. That’s about the only bit of Chinese I can understand in her super thick accent. Because I have so much trouble understanding her, she’s definitely of the impression that her grandson must be an artist because he’s completely illiterate. It’s probably true. Well, at least when it comes to Chinese characters. I forgot how to write the last part of my Chinese name the other day when I was filling out the disembarkation forms.

How embarassing.

I had to watch the tail end of Harry Potter and read the subtitles at the bottom in order to find the word that makes up the end of my name. Ironically, the word is knowledge.

We went to Guanghua afterwards, and that place always brings a smile to my face. It’s just a hustle and bustle of electronics and software in a convenient setting. Like Fry’s except if Fry’s were made up of 100 booths competing booths. Picked up some Sennheiser PX 100s, which I had actually been debating about for weeks. Got some good photos of Mecca, and had fun walking around.

We then went to Ximending, which is a place where young people go and hang out. That’s the quote I got from my parents. Actually, it was more like, this is the place where we used to go when we were younger. My parents…younger…*shudder* But the place is cool and we had some shredded ice, which always hits the spot. We also walked around and saw the sights, the goofy 4 story KFC, and the number of cinemas in the area. Like Valley Fair, if it was outside.

Came home, worked on some 3D, getting ready to go to bed. Long day tomorrow since I’m hanging out with Shu Mei. That’ll be fun, provided I can get over that language barrier.