Long-form blog posts and editorials. Topics cover both personal and the world at large. 

Aren't we so lucky - 2013 reflections


So, where to begin? 

2013 was quite mundane compared to previous years. It’s what happens when I’m two years removed from the (probable) end of my educational life and entering workforce as an “adult”. I say probable because I’ve yet to determine whether or not pursuing a graduate degree is worth the considerable time and concentration (doesn’t help that I’ve develop a smidgen of apathy towards being enslaved to the academic machine once more). Anyways, there’s only so much excitement to spread around when week after week you do the exact same thing at work. I don’t think I’ve looked forward to weekends more than I had this year, purely because that’s where all the fun happened.

Ironically, I haven’t exactly left academia at all; my place of employment, after all, is a college campus. No complaints from me though, because while I’m increasingly antagonistic towards going back to school for an advance degree, I must say I enjoy immensely the vibe and lifestyle offered by a college campus. In a way it keeps me young - and young at heart - because the median age of the immediate surroundings at work is always at a constant high teens to low twenties. I turned 26 this year (where it all goes downhill from, right?), but I don’t feel at all that age. Innately I feel just as wet behind the ears as ever. What doesn’t help the situation though, is seeing many friends of a similar age getting on with the business of marriage and procreation. Meanwhile, I’m over here screaming: what on earth is the rush? 

Indeed, it’s gotten to that point, hasn’t it? I’m at the age where acquaintances left and right are settling down (or have settled) to form families of their own. Stable employment does that, I guess (and love, haha). Good for those people, of course: just because I’m nowhere near that point in my own timeline doesn’t mean I throw ninja stars full of question marks every time I see a new engagement announcement or pregnancy press release. Funny thing is, none of my immediate group of friends are even remotely close to that sort of stuff, which gives credence to that whole “you are the company you keep” spiel. Hey, at least I won’t have to hear “yeah… we’re going to stay home tonight.” when hang-out solicitations are sent. 


Of course, countless thanks to the higher spirits that I have gainful employment amidst the turmoil that still is the United States economy (my god I must have been watching FOX news). 2013 is the first year that I’ve ever held a full-time job (well, if you discount much of January), and the stability it has brought to my life is immeasurable. Having a solid sense of purpose everyday when I wake up and actually looking forward to going to work is, as Gollum would say, precious. However, as with any public university job that isn’t management, the pay is what can be best described as mediocre - especially when I live in the third most expensive city in America to live.

It’s enough for me, though. Every time I encounter negative employment news such as the fast-food workers strike or the termination of unemployment benefits, I’m reminded just how lucky I am. Low wages, income uncertainty, and job search futility -  I’ve been there, and it isn’t at all fun. Plus, everything else about my current job is so spectacularly awesome. One of which, is my commute to work doesn’t consist of me being mired in Bay Area’s infamous traffic gridlock. I’d gladly trade a few ten thousands in dollars earned to not have to sit in traffic for hours on end, every single day. Time is money, as they say, and nothing piss away money faster and more miserably than sitting amongst a sea of cars, all going slower than people can walk. 

So how is it possible that I can live in the great expensive city of San Francisco when I’m getting paid less than a BART train operator? (There’s a joke in there somewhere). Fortunately, because I’m decidedly Asian (last I checked), there is no social stigma in my culture for living with your parents pass the age of 18. So, instead of using a significant chunk of my monthly paycheck towards renting a place, I get to put most of it towards investment accounts. Which, speaking of, 2013 was a solid year for stocks and mutual funds, and I must humbly brag that my investment portfolio is looking very nice indeed. Anyways, I’m not saying moving out on your own and doing for yourself is a terrible thing (we all have to do it eventually), I’m just glad I have that option to choose, instead of getting unceremoniously kicked out of the house at a predetermined age. 

Because if there is one important lesson I take away from 2013, it’s that spending time with your family is incredibly important, especially when you’re still young and single. Perhaps it’s all too easy to get caught up in being independent and experiencing the world, but you - and your parents - are only as young as you’ll ever be, today. I certainly don’t want to be that person who regrets not having spent more time with the parents only when said parents are sick in a hospital bed, or gone to the heavens. We need to spend time with our family while we are still able, healthy, and on our end, not tied down with spouses and kids of our own.

There will come a day when I’m only going to see my parents during the scant few holidays we get in America (meanwhile, most of Europe gets the entire month of August, off), because real life will certainly get in the way. In the meantime, I’ve made it a point to allocate a portion of all my weekends to hang-out with the father and mother. While I still can.


Portions of the weekend not spent with family, I’ve mainly dedicated it to my beloved car, the Subaru Impreza WRX STI. The joke is the car has become a substitute for a girlfriend, and it really isn’t far from the truth (haha!). There’s not much better on a weekend day than spending a few hours cleaning up the STI, and then taking it out for a spirited drive on one of the numerous mountain roads the Bay Area is so blessedly endowed with. It’s horrendous on gas, sure, but what car isn’t that can go from zero-to-sixty miles-per-hour in under five seconds. Besides, the car’s significant running costs (lost the windshield to a rogue traveling rock this year, which was quite the ouch to the wallet) escapes the mind as soon as I mash the throttle. Driving the STI brings a smile to my face each and every time I get in it,, and having a daily driven car that can do that for you is one of the core tenets of being a car enthusiasts.

With the STI in tow, I made a few ventures southwards this year, utilizing the blissful stretch of tarmac that is the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The first time was back in July, when I took the weekend to traverse the entire length from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It was an arduous 12 hour affair, and most of the time I was stuck behind slow-driving SUVs that refused to let faster cars behind them go past. However, the spectacular views (the skies cooperated very nicely) and the winding road was as advertised, and more. I highly recommended those traveling to LA and have got the time to spare, take the PCH instead of Highway 5 - twist and turns with a view beats driving in a straight line looking at cow manure any day. The STI’s seats proved their worth as my back didn’t complain at all after the 12 hours, though my feet had a completely different opinion. I guess Chuck Taylors aren’t the best driving shoes for trips of considerable distances. 

I love the PCH so much I went back a second time early October, this time along with other car enthusiasts (there was nearly 20 of us). Good times are best shared, right? At least it made slow cars more willing to move over, because having 20 loud sports cars in a train behind you is a frightening scene indeed (ah, the power in numbers). Driving in a group also meant being with people with more knowledge of landmarks and places of interest. This second drive on the PCH was definitely more scenic than the first. I certainly wouldn’t have gone on a tour of Hearst’s Castle in San Simeon had I gone by lonesome.


Speaking of cars, I started new blog this year dedicated to them. Since my personal life hasn’t been nearly as exciting as previous years, I decided to exclusively write about one of my greatest interests. Povertyspec.com is chock full of random editorials about all facets of the automobile, from individual models, the technologies, to the greater industry as a whole. Having written nearly 90 posts in a span of five months is pretty prodigious, if I do say so myself (and I do). Blogging has continued to be is a good excuse for me to hone my non-college educated journalism skills. I shuttered my separate photography blog (pun intended), and this blog with under my namesake has largely become its replacement. 

2013 marked the first time I’ve made the prerequisite pilgrimage to that small town in the desert, Paradise, Nevada. Some might say the age of 25 is much too old to be making the first (adult) trip to Las Vegas, but honestly the timing just hasn’t gotten right until this year. Never known to be the life of the party or a compulsive gambler, I think this year was as good as any to see Vegas for myself. It’s really all one huge, never-ending party, isn’t it? The awesome food, the great shows, and the overflow of drinks simply doesn’t stop for the entire duration. I can definitely see the allure of Vegas for many of my peers, because compressed down to it, it’s an escape

As for me, it’s merely a ticked check-box on the bucket list. I don’t think I will be making another trip to Vegas again anytime soon. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I had an awesome three days with my friends. (I found out exactly how long a Las Vegas block (off the strip) is, and I will never venture to walk one ever again.) It’s just that there is so much to see and do in this world that it’d be a personal disservice to visit a place more than once within a short time-frame (says the guy that drove on the PCH twice this year). A trip to Vegas isn’t particularly cheap (and I didn’t even gamble!), and I much rather allocate that money next time to go visit another awesome place.


Midway through the year, I started the 16/8 intermittent fasting program. It dictates that I must eat my daily required intake of food within an eight hour period (three big meals, in my case), after which I mustn’t eat for the next 16 hours. The fasting is suppose to significantly increase the body’s growth and repair hormones, something it can’t normally do if you keep stuffing it with food. I haven’t stop doing it since, because it has been, and continues to be, wonderful for me. Not having to worry about the old “eat every three hours” routine has been liberating, and I’ve ceased to have the typical hunger pangs. In fact, I seldom get the “hungry” feeling anymore, even when it’s the end of the 16 hour fast and my stomach cannot be more empty. Combined with my usual regiment of healthy eating and regular exercise, I feel awesome and full of energy ever day. 

When it comes to sports, now that I thought about it, 2013 was bad. Bad, because expectations were so high. Not for me to complain after winning two championships in the past three years, but the San Francisco Giants stunk up the joint during the 2013 season. I do wish the team doesn’t get the World Series hangover the season immediately after (same thing happened in 2011), but it appears to be inevitable with the men in orange. Of course, it’s always an good time (as Carly Rae Jepsen and that Owl City guy would say) to go see games live at the cathedral that is AT&T park. That’s the beauty of baseball: even when your team isn’t going particularly well, there’s enough games in a season that many, many, good things can still happen. Losing season as it may, I won’t soon forget epic-ness that happened like the Tim Lincecum no-hitter in San Diego, Pagan’s walk-off, Pablo’s three home-runs in one game, and many other heroics, that’s for sure. 

As for the 49ers, I didn’t think I can be more heartbroken than back in 2012’s NFC championship game when Kyle Williams fumbled that punt. Well, what happened in the Super Bowl back in February proved me wrong. Granted, as whole it’s awesome to see the 49ers get back to being perennial Super Bowl contenders, but being a scant six yards away from winning it all, that’s a heartbreaker if there ever is one. Perhaps it’s just too much to ask the sports gods to grant two teams from one city winning their respective championships in the same season. Now that the baseball Giants have failed to defend their championship this season, perhaps it’s good sign for the 49ers heading into the playoffs early next year. One step at a time, right? Lose NFC championship last year, this year win NFC championship. Lose Super Bowl this year, so next up is surely: win Super Bowl. 


So, that’s pretty much 2013. Just your typical twenty-something adult life: work for five days, and then play on the weekends. I do wish I’d travel more, and I took the least amount of photographs this year since starting the hobby many moons ago. I hope to rectify these two things in 2014, but other than that, hopefully much of the same as this year. As long as we have our health, family and friends, a roof over our heads, and a steady job, we’re all so very lucky, indeed. 


The top 10 most played songs on my iTunes, 2013: