“And then…” she said

Hello all,

Three years ago, I quit my corporate sales job and bought plane tickets to New Zealand. I walked through the office, turned in my badge, and danced next to my car before getting in. I gave myself permission to never look back.

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I dreamed of a “Plan B,” a life completely different from the one I was living, different people, a different job, different guy, different home. What would that look like? Plan A wasn’t going so well for me, and sometimes all I felt I had left was Plan B. In an ironic twist of fate, here I am, looking back years later. On a Sunday, three years ago, I posted this blogAnd when I read it again, I get a little choked up. (I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately, can you tell?)
I feel like no one ever really chooses to have their lives go the way they do, and, while we all have choices, there’s only so much you can control.  As one of my dear married friends once wisely told me, people in different stages of their lives just have a different set of problems. Doing things the way you’re “supposed” to doesn’t fix or change any of this. I’m going to admit that I find this to be a somewhat terrifying concept. It’s like the adult equivalent of finding out there is no Santa, no tooth fairy, or Easter bunny. “What do you mean I have almost no control over the things that happen in my life?! WHY?!” I’m convinced that everyone has this epiphany at some point or another. There’s almost a bit of beauty in that— you never know what kind of hand you’re going to be dealt.
As much as I once wanted it to be, my life is not an “and then…”  I’m grateful for it. I try to practice this gratitude every day. Some people in my life don’t understand what my life is, what I do, or why I do it. When they ask me these strangely personal, existential questions, I don’t really have answers for them. At the end of the day, all I know is that my life is exactly the way it should be, and I simply do the things I love doing. I’m lucky enough that I can. If one day, this changes, I can make my own “next steps.”
Until next time,
EVA♥
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Burnout: Real Thing or Real Life?

Hello all!

It’s time for deep thoughts with Watch Me Juggle! I bet you can’t guess what today’s post is going to be about.

hamster (1)

Gif: hahahamster.com

I’ve written about a few life things (for lack of a better term) here and there.  It was a recent discussion that I had with a friend of mine that got me thinking. While I embrace the fact that I have a less-than-traditional field of work (no 9-to-5 here), things can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. They say the key to a successful and happy work life lies in finding something you love to do. I’m fortunate enough to say that I work for companies that I truly believe in, and with people who I consider family. The time I spend in the studio doesn’t ever feel like work. No two classes are ever the same- I get to be creative and I’m constantly learning new things.  I try to hold myself to a high standard, and want to continue to grow professionally, in all my jobs. But, as someone who is altogether too hard on themselves, every so often, that little voice in my head says that I’m not doing enough.

Talking to my friends who have all manner of jobs (tech, engineering, education) helps give me a bit of perspective. If you care about your job and work with integrity, you’re bound to feel like this at some point or another, no matter what field you find yourself in. You consistently push yourself and want to be better. I sometimes worry that what people refer to as “burnout,” is simply the reality for many people. This, to put it quite simply, makes me sad. It’s especially difficult to find balance when you care deeply about what you do. I’ll admit that I’m perhaps a bit lucky in this in that I, without the additional stressors of having a family or a mortgage, have the luxury of overthinking things like this. I hope that by acknowledging that things can get overwhelming sometimes, I’ll get better at balancing life, making room to decompress and do things just for me- like writing, traveling, and getting back to dance class! And that, as opposed to feeling like a hamster running in a wheel, I’ll feel more like this little guy, in his tiny swing:

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What about you, dear readers? Is “work/life” balance a tricky thing for you, as well?

EVA♥

The Lady or the Tiger?

Hi everyone!

Today’s post is a little more substantial than my usual. Every once-in-a-while, I have some “deep thoughts” I like to share; I’m usually compelled to do so because I know at least one or two of you out there can relate. I’ve come to a bit of a crossroads in my life, and, it being a crossroads, you’re typically forced to make some decisions.

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A little while back, my mother handed me a printout that she insisted I take home and read. She didn’t elaborate much after that, but was adamant that I look it over. It’s only three or so pages, so it doesn’t necessarily belong on a bookshelf, although I think the content is undeniably worth the binding, or a soft cover, at the very least. I expected it to be an article or a bit of self-help type advice, something to help me make sense of my life. It turned out to be a short story: “The Lady Or The Tiger?” by Frank Stockton. The story starts out like any other fairytale, depicting a kingdom in olden times, ruled over by a king. It’s certainly not a children’s story, as the king is “semi-barbaric” and his kingdom is unique in that, in lieu of a proper judicial system, there is an arena in which any person accused of a crime is given the choice between two doors. Behind one, a tiger and a horrific death, behind the other, a beautiful young woman and a wedding. (An awfully extreme kingdom, yes?) Chance dictates whether the accused receives one of the other. Things in the kingdom get a bit interesting when the king discovers his own daughter in love with one of his subjects, and immediately has him thrown into the arena to be “judged.”  The princess, obviously invested in this particular case, makes it her business to know what lies behind each door on the day of the trial. Her love looks to her for guidance, and she secretly signals him to choose the door on the right.

   “Now, the point of the story is this: Did the tiger come out of that door, or did the lady?”

Apparently this tale is often used in academic settings as a teaching tool for comprehension and logic. The author leaves it entirely to the reader to decide. The princess has already lost her love, and it is up to her to then chose his fate. In the story, her mind is made, and she does not hesitate.

As the reader, you can’t but help imagine yourself in the princess’ shoes. This, of course, colors the outcome of the story. I shared and discussed the story with a friend of mine, and we both easily decided that the barbaric princess would have sent him to his immediate death. I think any woman who has ever been in love and had things not work out can relate. I oftentimes wish that the people I once cared about would simply disappear in a puff of smoke. Poof! Things would be so much easier. Admittedly, when asked about certain people in my life, I did once make big eyes and state the they had been “hit by a bus.” Funnily enough, the woman posing the question immediately understood my meaning. “Wow…that’s unfortunate.” I know, right…?

 After finishing the story, I did have to ask myself that, were I to choose, would the outcome be indicative of my feelings for the person at stake, or of my general character? One would think the natural choice would be the lady- to be the bigger person and to wish them the ever clichéd “best.” And yet, strong feelings for someone can, somehow, easily bring out the worst in us. The boss lady once told me that she could recognize how passionately she felt about someone based on how angry they occasionally made her. You might argue that if your feelings are fundamentally platonic or indifferent, a disagreement or canceled plans would leave you unruffled. In this case, the princess knowingly sending the man to the lady would be somewhat palatable. On the contrary, it’s often easier to grasp at anger when you feel a profound sense of loss, especially when it’s over something entirely out of your control and when your decisions are made for you. When discussing the story, I once joked that there should be tigers for all of them.

I recently came across a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that somehow manages to sum up those difficult feelings: “suddenly she realized that what she was regretting was not the lost past but the lost future, not what had been but what would never be.” At the end of the day, what touched me the most in the story was the awareness on the part of the princess that she had already lost. I’ve always been a big softie, and often to my detriment. Sometimes I find myself sad or fundamentally angry about things that never had a chance to materialize. I wonder if the princess in the story felt the same way. If she did, she might have perhaps chosen differently? Who knows…

EVA♥

Where Are You From?

Where are you from?

I know people get asked this a lot.

I have a love hate relationship with this question, for lack of a better expression. The “love,” although I use this term loosely, comes from the fact that I find myself asking this same thing quite often. I also somewhat resent being on the receiving end of it. It’s not so much the question itself I have a problem with, it’s the context in which it’s being asked. It’s the nature of the answer that people want that bothers me.

See, when I ask you where you’re from, I quite literally want to know where you moved to San Francisco from. I know that most of your answers will consist of things like: “I’m from Boston,” or “I grew up outside of Chicago.” I’m a naturally curious person, so I find things like this intriguing. It can usually make for some decent conversation. When people ask myself or my parents this, it usually bears some kind of hidden meaning. The question is really something like:”Where is your accent from?” Or “Wow, you’re different looking- what’s your ethnic background?” At the very first, the hidden meaning of the question seemed harmless enough, people would ask me things like this all the time. However, I quickly started to notice that many of my friends weren’t subjected to the same kind of questioning. It’s suddenly become a game of “Guess My Ethinicity!”

karenmeangirlsKaren! You can’t just ask people why they’re white!! (Gif c/o giphy)

With the exception of Karen from Mean Girls, very few people will walk up to you and ask your ethnicity outright. So they choose something like “Where are you from?” instead.

Once, in Las Vegas, I answered this question truthfully: “I’m from San Francisco…you know, the Bay Area.” Only to get a “No. I mean where are you from? Are you Latina or something?” I’m happy to share my stories with people, but when strangers approach me with this as their opening line, it still takes me aback. I wouldn’t walk up to you and say things like “Hey! What are you genetics like? You have some really hyper-extended knees!” It’s a weirdly personal question.

It bothered me even more, as a child, seeing my parents get subjected to similar treatment. My father likes to be stubborn, and insists he’s from “here.” Right here, California. It makes people uncomfortable, because it doesn’t get them the answer they’re looking for. Especially in today’s political climate, no one wants to approach a Middle Eastern looking man and directly ask him what his “deal” is. “Excuse me, sir, what war-torn country are you from and how did you get all the way over here?” wouldn’t go over well, I imagine. Then, people get an eyeful of my mother, who they then confuse as Australian, instead of Austrian, and then want to know everything. Of course, how they met is quite a story, but I don’t always feel compelled to tell it. Don’t get me wrong, I very much appreciate and enjoy the uniqueness of who I am. I just don’t always feel like being gawked at like a zoo animal. (I know I’m  not the only one. Please see #4 and #10 on this Buzzfeed list on “21 Feeling All Mixed-Race Kids Know.”) Someone actually referred to me as a “half-breed” once. My response to that is that at least I’m not a whole idiot, thank you very much.

This isn’t the first time I’ve shared a bit of what it’s like being me. For a little background, you can check out my previous post on growing up multi-lingual here. Sure, 99 percent of the time I feel tremendously lucky; there’s never a dull moment and I always have a story or two to tell. I appreciate your curiosity, but sometimes, it just best to let people share with you, at their own pace. In the meantime, please find a better question to fill the silence.

Love,

EVA♥

The Consolation Prize

Hello all!

consolation prize

(Can you tell I’ve been really into gifs lately? Who doesn’t like GIFs? Yes, Eva, welcome to the 21st century…)

Today, I wanted to share with you about a little life phenomenon I’ve come to appreciate lately. I call it the “consolation prize.” Yes, it’s exactly like what it sounds like.

I came to appreciate the existence of the consolation prize years ago; I was out to sushi with a girlfriend of mine, and something specific on the menu caught my eye. I used to never order seaweed salad, well, just because I always thought pure seaweed was a surefire way to trigger my gag-reflex if I’ve ever heard of it. But, I had somehow come to really enjoy it. A man I had dated once had insisted on ordering it whenever we went out for Japanese food. I don’t think I would have ever tried it of my own volition had it not been for him. It’s delicious. That being said, I made the crack to my friend that if there was one positive thing that had come from my previous relationship it was my awareness of the existence of seaweed salad.

It’s sort of sad to say, but when we emerge from tough situations, whether it be a less-than ideal job or partner, sometimes all we can do is try to find a little bit of the silver lining. This might not happen overnight, hell, when I left my first “real” desk job, I had a difficult time finding the prize. I felt a little bit like I had given up, that I had flunked out of adult-land, knowing that a rigorous desk job in a corporate setting wasn’t really for me. Oddly enough, I came away  from that job with better relationship with my father. Being at the same company, in vastly different departments, he would walk by my desk, find me buried in paperwork, and insist on taking me to lunch. We weren’t speaking very much at the time, and rarely saw each other outside of work, but, after a year, our conversation became a lot more than just about the weather. In a strange way, we bonded over work. The same thing goes with most relationships that don’t work out the way you hope they will. Some of the best things that have come out of some of my dating mishaps were wonderful restaurants, the discovery of new neighborhoods, or a really great pair of shoes. I try not to let how I’ve come about these things color my opinion of them.

The boss lady always tells me that much of your quality of life, of who you are as a person, has to do with how you deal with disappointment. Sure, I’m not going to tell you that I’ve never locked myself inside, drank a ton of champagne, and spent some time lying face down on the floor. A lot of things in life straight up suck. They suck, and there’s not very much you can do about it. I think people don’t tell you this often, but sometimes it’s true. However, you can pick yourself up, and find yourself with that consolation prize. You can change your bad experience into a decent, maybe even good one.

You can do it!

EVA♥