August 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
I imagine that most people’s relationship with their parents follow a somewhat similar cycle. You begin in a state of adoration where it seems like your parents are God, or something close to God. Then as you grow up, and lose a bit of yourself through the challenges of adolescence, you lose a bit of that adoration as well. But finally, likely through a combination of growth, maturity, and equal effort to meet in the proverbial middle, the relationship usually springs back into one of love, respect, and mutual understanding.
For my parents and I, that period of discord lasted from the latter years of elementary school through the early years of college. While much of what we argued about (curfew, boys, and school work) seemed too typical – our misunderstandings towards each other were not only brought on by a generation gap, but by a cultural one as well.
During many of these heated exchanges, I was very fond of saying, “This is my life!” These four simple words didn’t seem so special, nor did they seem particularly spiteful – we can all think of more colorful phrases in the English language. In fact, these harmless words were probably uttered by many teens before me and will be uttered by many after me, but those four always angered my father greatly. It wasn’t until my later years, when I became more observant towards the nuances of human emotion, that I would realize how it would also shatter him a little as well. My father didn’t understand the separation of “my life” and “his life.” To him, we were a family, and therefore, my life was his life, and his, mine. To him, the four words weren’t harmless; rather, they signified a desire to see my life and their life as separate.
In fact, my father had lived his life for his family. Whatever burdened my mom and me, burdened him. Whatever we rejoiced in, he rejoiced in. He had never lived his life for himself, but always thought of us as an inseparable whole. When we had little to spend, he would skip lunch so our family could eat nicer dinners. When I was going through the critical years of high school when what you wore defined where you stood on the social totem pole, he would buy clothes at a discount so I could buy something new off the rock. And even now, as a 25-year-old woman, my family has decided to help me carry the heavy burden of my graduate school loans because to them, we will always be a team.
There is a lot about my parents that I do not understand, but if there were one thing I could hope to emulate from them, it would be to live with the mentality that my life is never just mine.
August 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
I love the use of Ingrid Michaelson’s rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” I love the beautiful, yet somewhat tragic notes of the song that weave in and out of the clips of the movie.
I absolutely hated growing up with the name Rodan. I despised it because when you are in elementary school and everyone is trying to be the same and wear the “Gap,” I just wanted to have a “Gap-like” name and wear the “Gap” as well. Rodan is definitely not a “Gap-like” name. One day, I sat down with my mom and she told me that my father and her had chosen that name for me decisively because it was not normal. It wasn’t common, it wasn’t ordinary, and in fact it was the namesake of someone who had been great (the great modern sculptor Auguste Rodin). Thus, it was their hope that I wasn’t to be common, I wasn’t to be ordinary, and perhaps I could even be something great. It didn’t take long for me to take the aspirations of my parents to heart.
But what does “great” mean? I think on one side, great can be an objective standard. It is a standard that is measured in terms of fame and success in the likes of perfect movie stars or diva sirens. To my friends that work in finance, a great investor means someone like George Soros or Warren Buffet. Surely there is greatness in the millions and billions they have raked in. But great can also be a subjective standard and take on an extremely personal stance. This kind of greatness is more a feeling than any certain objective measurement that can be equally difficult to achieve and is more personal than the objective greatness mastered by the aforementioned brilliant investors. It was this subjective greatness that I started yearning for in my own life. I began dreaming that my job would be a great job that would provide joy to my life – and not just a means to make money and survive. I yearned for a relationship where I would be madly in love – and not merely dating someone for companionship. I desired to cultivate friendships would be deep and significant – and not just looking to spend time with people so I’m not lonely and I don’t look friendless.
I think this is the kind of greatness that human kind gravitates towards and it’s the kind of greatness that can be found in the smallest and most simple situations. For example, the love story in that movie above isn’t “great” by any objective standard. It’s a story about two students, one who is studying abroad from England and one who is an American. It’s a story about the two of them falling in love for the first time, and the inevitable heartache that must come when she must return home. It’s a sad story, but on the surface it’s not a great story because it’s an ordinary story. Yet, despite all measures of objective greatness, the film captures a sense of personal greatness. He’s not just another ordinary boy with a thousand other ordinary boys out there – he’s the love of her life. That by definition makes him important to her. Makes him great to her, and makes their struggle relevant and great. The greatness of their love is something that we can all relate to and identify with because we have all had great love at one point in our lives or have come very close.
We are all unique and diverse people with our own objective standards of greatness. My friends in finance don’t quite understand the nuances of what it takes to be a “great” film maker and vice versa. My friends in fashion and film don’t understand the bits and pieces of what it takes to be a great investor. However, I do think they all have a sense of what a great relationship should feel like, the sense of purpose a great job should provide, and the kind of fulfillment great friendships bring about.
August 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
Lately, but particularly today, I’ve been having a serious case of the “supposed-to-be’s.” I think it started with reading this email chain that I have with my college girlfriends, appropriately titled “Texas Girls Group.” – we all went to The University of Texas after all. Reading through the brief updates on their busy lives I am simply in awe of all the things they are doing: one is starting a production company and planting a church while she’s at it, one is counseling physically abused women, one is dreaming up start ups, one is getting married, a few are falling in love, and the originator of the chain is growing her own cake baking business by stepping over into sweet and salty territory… yes, these are my friends. These are the same girls I used to make Taco Bell runs with on a Tuesday night. These are the same girls that I would sit with in our modern yellow house, around the large kitchen island, talking for hours. These are the same girls that I would lounge with in our living room watching chick flick after chick flick, indie film after indie film. These are the same girls that I would eat my breakfast with, grab my lunch with, and sometimes cook my dinner with (cooking meaning pouring a bowl of cereal and adding some milk.)
I can’t help but feel that they are out conquering the world – their world, and I’m over here baking crappy vegan treats. While I read about all their endeavors, I can’t help but look at my endeavors and think that I should be endeavoring things other than how to make my vegan raspberry brownies less crappy. Shouldn’t I be embarking on a new and exciting career? One that will make me happy and gratified that I went to law school? Shouldn’t I be feeling settled and rooted in a cute apartment? Shouldn’t I be as eager about marriage as everyone else seems to be? I do want to get married one day, but eagerness, I do not have. Shouldn’t I be dreaming of things and actually taking steps to accomplish them? I read about people – fiction and real – doing such big, bold things and can’t help but wonder if I am not supposed to be doing something big and bold myself. I look at my sad, not fudgy, not wudgy brownies and I just want to heave a sigh at all the “supposed-to-be’s” that stand hovering over me and my brownies. (Let me pause for a moment and just say that you have not stumbled upon my own personal pity party.)
It’s not that I’m not happy learning how to make things in the kitchen. In fact, it’s one of my life long dreams that I would be described as “crafty in the kitchen” one day and surely learning how to make good vegan raspberry brownies will give me a boost in that area. However, it’s the hovering of the “supposed to be’s” that are currently sapping out any joy I could find in between the 1 1/2 cups of flour and the 1/2 a cup of cocoa powder. It’s the worry that I may never actually accomplish anything big and bold that keeps me from getting lost in the book I’m reading about how math nerds brought down the financial world (see “The Quants”). It’s the nervous anticipation of actually putting my law degree to use that keeps me from indulging in the fact that I have nothing but free time to do things I enjoy these days.
I wonder if this is just my nature, or perhaps this need to feel productive, this need to feel like “I’m going somewhere” is something that my parents and society at large has bred into me. Last summer when I was traversing around Thailand, I met so many people that had quit their jobs, and were taking a break from life with their new found time and all their savings. I marveled that they could just step away from all the commitments and guarantees that life at home provided them so they could experience a sense of unbounded freedom. There would be no job waiting them when they returned, there would be no guarantee of stability. A year from when they left, they would return to nothing with nothing. Yet I’ve never met people that were more free and happy. I think if they were to look at me now, they would say “Bake!” “Read!” “Write!” They will surely turn to me and tell me that a moment will come when I will find my way, when the chips will fall in line and I can go along my worker bee lifestyle, but until then, I should enjoy where I am.
Oh how I wish I could listen to their unspoken words.
August 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yes. I just made my second batch of vegan raspberry brownies. Yesterday, for one of my friends birthdays, I decided to make her a special vegan treat. It had to be vegan because she was recently ordered by her doctor to lay off dairy for a while. This was no doubt upsetting since she has a certain affection for chocolate, but I was convinced that I could make her something that would take her mind off of her current dietary limitations. After perusing a vast array of vegan dessert recipes (mostly found on findingvegan.com) I finally settled on raspberry brownies, partially for the abundance of chocolate the recipe called for, and partially because most other things were too difficult as I am still a novice baker.
I actually came upon two recipes and they were very similar but one was easier and seemed healthier – meaning that recipe, and the one I ended up choosing, used no butter. No butter, no oil. Just some flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, raspberries, and some semi-sweet vegan chocolate. No butter and no oil though. I thought to myself that this was strange since I’ve never seen an oil-less, butter-less recipe, but I figured it was a trusty blog with gorgeous pictures and I would be able to make the yummiest, healthiest, most delicious batch of vegan raspberry brownies.
Can you guess what the result was? Needless to say – the best part of the brownie was the layer of chocolate on top.
So today, I thought I’d conquer the other vegan raspberry brownies and see how they turn out. There is a bit of canola oil, a lot more semisweet vegan chocolate, and some almond milk (as substitution for the soy milk the recipe uses)… I will give an update as they are baking and will be done shortly.
All this baking lends me to the conclusion that I am officially… a stay at home non-wife, wife. No, not really, but I’m at a very curious stage in my life where my days are completely undefined and that is something that I can only imagine stay at home wives can understand. Now, to be clear, a stay at home wife is not the same thing as a stay at home mom. A stay at home mom has to fulfill the important tasks that is required of being a mom. Tasks that I don’t have a full grasp of but something along the lines of changing a million diapers, making a million peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and driving your kids from here to there to here again. A stay at home wife, on the other hand, doesn’t really have anything that she MUST do on a day to day basis that is so time sensitive. She definitely has tasks to accomplish, she has to-do’s she must cross off (like laundry, groceries, and cooking, etc.) – but she also has a nice chunk of time that she can fill with whatever she wants to do. That is me. I have recently been filling my time with baking vegan desserts.
Sure. I have many things I have to do. I have to look for a job. I have to look for a temporary job while I look for a full time job. I have to work on this “writing” thing that I both love and am possibly trying to turn into some kind of a “job.” But then it kind of just stops there. Then there are the other countless hours I have to do things that make me feel productive and good. Countless of hours that are undefined and unmarked – for me to do whatever the hell I please with. Can you feel I am not used to this kind of … freedom?
To be fair, I’ve been a student all my life. There is a lot of freedom in the schedule of a student especially in your later college years and my law school years when I could schedule my classes just to give me 4 day weekends. My junior and senior year of college, I pretty much only had Tuesday / Thursday classes which meant I had 4 day weekends with a nice break on hump day. In law school, I endeavored to only have Monday – Wednesday classes so I could maintain my wonderful long weekend life style. Still, I had things to do during those days where I wasn’t attending classes. Those days were filled with many hours of studying (many many hours of studying), hours in meetings for various organizations I was a part of. Hours of planning and being with friends who had the same student life that I did. And now it’s entirely different – I’m an at home non-wife / wife with no real solid plan to my day. What a strange, new, and slightly scary time in my life.
So here I am, pondering the next few weeks before me, and I’m intimidated. Intimidated at the lack of structure in my life, intimidated at the lack of cohesion, and mostly afraid of feeling like I’m wasting time doing a lot of little things which leave me feeling like I’m doing a whole lot of nothing.