talking about hard times.

from an essay i wrote in college:

My parents and I packed up the rental car and headed towards Seattle University. During the fourteen hour trip on I-5 from Sacramento to Seattle, I put in my favorite CD that summer: Rilo Kiley’s Take Offs and Landings. At the conclusion of the fourth song, “Picture of Success,” the lead singer, Jenny Lewis, sings the lyric: These are times that can’t be weathered and we have never been back there since then. As Jenny repeated the lyric like a mantra, my mom, sitting in the passenger seat, listened closely and looked at me.

“She’s talking about hard times,” she said.

good enough.

so, yo. check it.

this dude is like twenty-four years old when he starts this blog. he doesn't even know, really, what a blog is. but it sounds like something to do, something manageable. his friend has one, and he likes hers, so he decides to start one, too. it's 2007, and he's two years out of college. his first entry (and quite possibly the entire thing) is inspired by a speech by this guy, victor villasenor, who talks about how writing is a sacred act. he believes it. in college, he majored in creative writing. he wrote a twelve page essay on the act of revision alone. he worked as a writing center consultant, and he really felt like he was good at his job. it was the first time he'd ever found something he actually believed he was good at.

he had these professors, see, and they were paid to tell him his writing wasn't total shit (even though it was). they were paid to tell him to keep writing. something would happen eventually, if he would just keep at it. that's where the blog came in. he started to write, even though he didn't think himself interesting, didn't think he had anything worth telling. he was just an introverted asian kid, an only child, who felt as though the world continually conspired against him. and who knows? maybe it did.

it earned him some recognition. a local girl read his blog, and she was hot, too. he'd gotten a fan even in idaho. some guy in new delhi followed it. it got him a job. friends and some family read his writing. he didn't know what to think of it. he didn't really think about it at all. sometimes, a friend would say, "please don't blog about this." another might say, "you're going to write about this, aren't you?" and sometimes he did, sometimes he didn't. it was just what he wanted, though. he could write about what he wanted, when he wanted, and sure enough, somebody was gonna fucking read it.

he became more adventurous just for the sake of having something to write about. it challenged him, this blogging business, to get out there, seize the day and all that. because he was such a poor fiction writer, had such an unintelligible imagination, he had to go out there and get the material for himself. he didn't actually exist anymore. he was just a character in this long, rambling story that may or may not have a point, or even an ending. was the story poignant? did it have meaning?

at 24, when he started to blog, he said he was gonna be a doctor. then he decided he was just going to be a teacher, instead. when that didn't work out, he was gonna work for the state, or else go to grad school for writing or something. and for a split second, it was law school, and then he was gonna join the peace corps. he was gonna do all these things, but he never got around to doing any of them. because he didn't really want to do those things. he just wanted to write, and be appreciated for wanting to write. and while no one ever outright said he couldn't do this, he continued to believe it was impossible. as it turned out, all he wanted was to live in a world where he didn't have to feel inadequate, like he wasn't quite there yet. so he made up these fictions about his personal future plans, a sort of choose your own adventure book he never even bothered cracking open.

but it didn't matter anymore. in a little over four years, he'd started and ended multiple friendships, lived in three different cities, visited dozens others, quit a job, got a job, then quit a job again, gotten robbed and reimbursed, learned to love karaoke, shot handguns, proctored exams, saw a bear, climbed mt. si, gone to concerts, had wisdom teeth extracted, pissed in central park, told a go-go dancer he loved her, gotten better at speaking tagalog, eaten balut, gotten lost in osaka, recorded songs, read books, reconnected with old friends, put up christmas lights, learned how to be alone. it was a hell of a story. and it was good enough. he was good enough.

it's now been over four years since he started, and it's time to move onto something different. it's been a good run.

hard times are over, haven't you heard?

thanks for reading.