allow me to reintroduce myself

January 1st, 2013. 2:53am

Can’t Sleep; let’s write.

2012 began with me making the move back to the US, specifically, New York City. It had been something I’ve talked about since spring of 2010, when she left.

That I’m writing this in Sheung Wan now means I’ve failed. At least in the general sense. I loved New York, and as a pop culture geek, I’m always going to put the city on a pedestal, because that’s where everything I love — basketball, hip hop, media, indie rock, “the batman”, street art — originated.

I came back to Hong Kong for a few reasons. One, although I was making end’s meet in New York, the high cost of living and tough job market made life very stressful — I was bordering on being broke towards the end of every month. Two, I simply had no close, or even regular, friends in New York. Part of that was my fault: I’m socially awkward; I hate making small talk; I’d rather do shit I love alone than do something I have no interest in with a bunch of friends. Part of that’s due to factors outside of my control: In the US I’m just a normal American, there is no “expat community” that sticks together like Hong Kong. Well, I suppose there is an “expat group” for people from Hong Kong. They’re called FOBs.

So yeah, I spent literally 95% of my time in New York alone, walking/biking up and down Manhattan; walk across the Williamsburg bridge while listening to The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack; eating out of taco trucks and Momofuku Milk Bars; sit around Union Square or Washington Square Park. I did all that mostly with headphones on, closed off to the rest of the world. I’d go a full week without getting a phone call or text message. Even for an anti-social guy like me, it was a bit much.

But New York is still Gotham, and lonely as I was, I felt inspired by it everyday. All the cliches New Yorkers throw around? About how the bright lights inspires? (Wait, that’s a Jay-Z lyric, no?) As much as I want to roll my eyes at it, they’re mostly true.

Aside from a four month stint at The Village Voice (!!!!!!), I was either freelancing/unemployed or doing a shitty remote editing gig for a site I didn’t care about. That setup, at least, allowed me to travel, and I did plenty of that in 2012.

I went to Europe for the first time. London was a blast, partly because of the stunning London architecture and the public bike-share system, and partly because I met up with two close friends there. Victor Chi. Anita Lam. Friends from my old life in Alhambra and my life in Hong Kong. I remember being in London and hanging with them — separately, but with others around as well — made me miss being around friends so much.

I also went to Boston with my friends from Alhambra. The boys. Seeing them always brings back old memories of high school days, when we were all carefree and…young.

Speaking of that — I turned 30 this year. And for the first time, I felt self-conscious about my age. I’d see a writer who’s established in New York — say, Jon Abrams, formerly of NY Times and now of Grantland — and when I realized he’s younger than me, I’m like, “damn, perhaps I’m trying this too late.”

Everyday in New York was a constant struggle. I’d step out of the house and love the city, love the life. But at nights when I’m wandering around town alone, or when I see my bank account, or when I see groups of friends or couples at a park, I’d tell myself perhaps it’s foolish of me to try to uproot my whole life and attempt to start over elsewhere at my age. It makes most sense, financially, and socially, to be in Hong Kong.

So I’m back. And like always, with many things in my life, I’ve been so lucky. I found a great flat at my favorite spot in Hong Kong, with a flatmate who’s actually a friend of a friend.

He’s gay. But we get along fine. We find each other’s attitudes — my overwhelming straightness; his flamboyant gayness — hilarious.

And work came fast. SCMP quickly gave me work. Between that and my remote editing gig for New York, I’ve been able to make a proper income while sleeping in till two everyday, working to my own hours.

The original Brit-Chinese crew has grown in size, and now, just about every weekend, we get together for a huge gathering. To go from spending everyday and eating meal alone to suddenly having huge 25 people dinner every weekend, in one calendar year? Cool/Weird, right?

But despite things in Hong Kong going smoothly, everyday, I think about New York. And when people ask me how long I’m staying in Hong Kong, I find myself feeling ashamed of saying “maybe I’m back for good”.

If I never return to New York, I worry I may always feel like I’ve failed. That I gave up — took the easy way out — and came back here.

Whatever the case, 2012 was an eventful year. On top of all that I mentioned, I also witnessed Linsanity; watched the NBA playoffs, marched down Manhattan with Occupy Wall Street; wrote for the Wall Street Journal and Village Voice; experienced The Dark Knight Rises in Gotham, at 4am, with hundreds of fellow fans.

And most important of all: I’m over her. That thing, which has been eating away inside of me for the past two years, is finally gone. I’m always going to hold her at a high place in my heart, but the sadness, the pain, the anger is gone. I’m done.

This blog has, for the most part, been all about her. I think I can retire the damn thing now, for it has served its purpose.

I don’t know what I’m going to do in 2013 — do I get a proper job and commit to staying in Hong Kong long term? Or do I stick with my freelance gig and travel around?

Not sure. Who cares. Let’s roll.

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This.

This blog…has centered on mostly two things, two things that somehow tied together–LeBron leaving Cleveland, and, um, her leaving.

Tonight, while browsing through Twitter trends, I came across this.

Cleveland, two years later, letting go of heartbreak.

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imbruglia’ed

Eleven days ago, I left for a mini Eurotrip unsure of what to do with my so-called life in New York upon return.

Continue the grind, on low pay, in a city that inspires me, despite having, virtually, no close friends? Or move back to Hong Kong, where I’d have no trouble getting a cushy job–jobs are always cotton candy cushy for native English speakers in Asia–and be near most of my favorite people in the world?

The Europe trip was supposed to help me decide. Or actually, help sway me in the direction that was already winning? I mean, that I took the trip itself was a sign I was leaning back towards Hong Kong–I can afford to go on these holidays with my fluffy HK life, not the poor NYC life.

(And for the record, just about every one in their 20s is pinching pennies in the US these days; in Hong Kong, the land of expats and international school kids, you get tricked into thinking everyone is well off with the constant travels, nightly SoHo dinners, and parental funding of career goals).

And Europe (or, shall I say, London) was good. I saw my high school best friend from Alhambra and my former colleague/flatmate from Hong Kong. The latter was so good to me–took me out to cool hipster joints during the day, trendy bars/clubs during nights, cooked me breakfast and paid for my dinners–that I was almost in awe.

That somehow, despite my social awkwardness/snobbiness and moody, emo tantrums, I’ve gained an older sister from my time in Hong Kong. That, despite working for the biggest asshole in the city, my two years at Beats proved to be life-changing: I got my (real) start in writing, and, more importantly, many of my colleagues and interns have become close personal friends.

New York is New York. But I’ve come to realize that maybe it’s the people in your life that matters. And yes, I know the cliche: “Friends will come”. But…I’m too old, too tired, too socially-awkward (this last bit is important, I don’t just want to hang with anyone…) to want to go through that whole process of forming close friendships again. I’ve never actively tried it. Every one of my good friendships were formed naturally and organically, not at some bullshit networking event or cocktail mixer (seriously, WTF is that?) or these random parties where every guest can invite anyone.

I have 4 to 6 good friends–people I’m confident I’ll keep in touch with for the rest of my life–in LA, and another 8-9 of these cats in Hong Kong.

Maybe that’s enough.

But then, hanging around London and hopping from spot to spot with friends reminded me how much fun it’d be to do this in New York. That I can’t give up yet, that I gotta try to make New York work.

Yesterday, on my last morning in London before flying back to New York, I woke up feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness and confusion.

Why did I voluntarily leave all these friends behind? Now I go back to New York where I’m by myself every day and night. What the fuck am I gonna do? Do I stay or do I go?

Anita–that’s her name, by the way, if you scroll this blog back far enough you’ll see that I’ve never mentioned her by name, always as “my sassy flatmate who talks like Beyonce”–took me to Brick Lane for lunch. She told me that she, too, is wondering if she and her boyfriend should move back to Hong Kong (she moved to London to be with the love two years ago).

“All my best friends are in Hong Kong,” she said. “But then, some days, when the sun is out and I’m walking through this space in London, I’m like ‘I can’t get this in Hong Kong’

I’m so torn on what to do.”

And then, we passed by this mural near the end of the road.

Ah, the British variation of the NBA cliche “just gotta take it one game at a time”.

Just make it up as you go along

At least Anita has someone to make it up with. I’m doing this all alone.

 

 

 

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again.

Last night, Lebron James returned to Cleveland, and despite his trying to make nice pre-game–he said he’d be open to playing for Cleveland again one day–Clevelanders still booed him, mercilessly, every time he touched the ball. Every single time.

It’s been over a year and half since Lebron ripped the heart out of Cleveland, on national television, and fled town. Cleverland has since gone through the lowest of lows–setting an NBA record for longest losing streak–and a couple of good moments, most notably winning the NBA draft lottery and netting Kyrie Irving. But still, Cleverlanders feel the pain.

“They may never let this go,” an ESPN announcer said during the thunderous chorus of boos directed at Lebron.

As I sat and watched at home, I felt a tremendous sense of fear.

What if…it’s always going to hurt?

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so sally can wait

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The Show Goes On

Lupe’s latest. The rhymes are a bit shallow by Lupe standards, but that sped-up Modest Mouse beat is sick.

For anyone who’s had a rough year, this is the perfect anthem to march on to 2011.

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love

this story is very, very moving.

i think the writer, Manny Fernandez, did such a good job framing the story. it’s a tragic story, but Mr Fernandez makes it read like this epic love story.

i gotta say, the room got mighty dusty when i was reading this.

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