Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Showering the old fashion way

This past weekend the water boiler in our rented home failed, and with the call to the maintenance emergency line going unanswered for some reason, we were without hot water for two solid days. Everything went on as normal, except for one situation: showers.

Perhaps it would’ve been fine in a city with much warmer climes, but San Francisco’s signature chill means that taking a cold water shower is a near impossibility. I mean, I certainly wasn’t up for it; not because I can’t handle the cold, but to get a proper clean and open the pores, hot water is a requirement.

So for those two days with the water boiler out of commission, it became a throwback to my early childhood in China. Our apartment back then did not have water boiling amenity at all: to draw hot water for our showers, we literally had to boil it on the kitchen stove. Once up to temperature, it gets mixed with cold water straight from the faucet and into a bucket, and then we showered by pouring the water over ourselves with a ladle.

Primitive stuff compared to what we are used to now, but it was no less effective. I was remind of that when I had to perform the same procedure this past weekend. The clean was the same, yet I’ve only managed to use around two gallons worth of water. There’s no doubt I use exponentially more water showering the “modern” way, because honestly who doesn’t linger the extra bit longer under the stream - it’s so comfortable and relaxing.

Maybe in our efforts to save the planet, I should return to showering the (asian) old fashion way. Certainly it won’t be a big deal should the water boiler go out again in the future. A working stove and kettle is all i need.

It’s a cool, cool Summer.

Imposter syndrome at work

Having grown up poor and seeing how both parents work low-wage, labor-heavy jobs just to provide, I’ve been imbued with a sense that you earn your money by working hard - physically hard, that is. If you’re not constantly doing something during work hours, then you are definitely not earning that paycheck. That mentality have served me well in my younger years as it’s all about the hustle and doing the most in order to standout amongst a crowd. Now that I’m decently established in my current job, the inherited thinking from my parents causes a bit of internal conflict.

My job is mainly to help people when they need technical assistance with technology in a classroom. If an instructor have trouble plugging a Macbook Pro into the ceiling projector, I am his Huckleberry. As is the tendency of this kind of work, some days we get an endless amount of phone calls, and others there’s nary a troubleshoot to be had. It’s on those less busy days where I am sat waiting for the next call that the feelings of an imposter and not fully-deserving of my salary, creeps in.

I can’t seem to reconcile my upbringing with the fact I mostly get paid for my knowledge and expertise, and only a small portion is for actual physical work. Indeed this is what a typical white-collar job looks like, and I guess my blue-collar childhood carries some residual effects on whether or not I think myself worthy of such a role. That’s my unique sort of imposter syndrome: am I doing enough to deserve this job? I constantly ask myself this.

Indeed I’ve achieved the hopes of my parents, to not have to trade physical labor for a meager salary, and I am profoundly grateful for it. However, sometimes that gratitude can corrupt itself into an adverse sense of fear that it can all be taken away in short order. So I work hard justify my position, and mentally stress about my competence level. I’m sure in a perverse way that thinking has helped me get to the place I am today, but looking forwards I really could do without with the unnecessary stress.

At some point I need to be confident in what I can do and not worry about the tangible amounts in I am doing. It’s simply the nature of the work.

Indeed it does, writing-on-the-bathroom-wall guy.

No Halloween for the wicked

Halloween was yesterday, and I count myself fortunate to have had work until 1030pm, thereby avoiding the noisy streets and kids who ring our doorbell even though we haven’t got our light on. Indeed I’m a bit of a Grinch when it comes to the holiday that everyone seemingly loves; a homebody who prefers peace and quiet, and not overly fond of horror films, isn’t likely to enjoy the Halloween atmosphere.

It all connects back to my childhood. In China there was no such thing as Halloween, and when we immigrated here my first ever Halloween at age 8 was bewildering and fantastical. You mean I knock on doors and people will give me candy? What the heck I love America now! Due to circumstances however that was my one and only trick-or-treating experience.

When your family is under the poverty line, spending money every single year for a costume is completely out of the question. Therefore I never got into the habit of dressing up for Halloween, which is just as well because adult me making decent money equally loathes to expense money each year for a new outfit. Was it sad as a kid to see everyone in costume and I wasn’t? Not really; when you grew up and went to school in a poor neighborhood (back when San Francisco still had those), I was far from the only person lacking proper holiday garb.

Back then roaming the streets at night in my neighborhood wasn’t exactly the brightest of ideas - not a day goes by without sounds of siren and emergency vehicles whizzing by our home, so I never once trick-or-treated. Not to say there weren’t kids out and about during Halloween, but surely they’ve got parents with calmer hearts than mine. We never gave out candy, either, because our family can barely afford to keep the roof over our heads. Spending money on candy as charity was an extravagance we can’t indulge.

So the Halloween spirit never had the opportunity to take hold on me. Even in high school when there were years I wanted to go trick-or-treating with classmates, the fact I lived an hour away by bus from them made it impossible. My parents wasn’t about to go out of their way to pick me up by car just because I wanted to hang out with friends instead of coming home immediately after school and focus on homework. Hashtag tiger mom.

In the coming years I’d be all too happy to continue working during Halloween night and miss the commotion and festivities.

The most magical place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but rather, Costco.

The most magical place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but rather, Costco.