This entry makes no sense.
When I was younger, me and James used to hang out a lot. We lived close to each other, him on Hellyer, just off of 101 near Coyote Park, and me on Rice Drive, off of Monterey Rd. A big hill separated us. At any rate, his was the closest family from church most of the time.
So our families did a lot together, because we were both an older brother and younger sister, similar in age. In order, it was me, then James, then my sister Christine, then Gina. For 5 months of the year, between Gina and James’ birthdays, our ages would all be in chronological order, meaning like, I would be 10, James 9, my sister 8 and Gina 7.
My fondest memories are of course doing nothing or goofing around. Especially the summers. Summers were great when I was a kid. Our families would go camping a lot, not just our 2 families but our 2 families would always be among them. I don’t think my family ever went camping without James’ family there. But camping was great. We went to a lot of places, most of which I can’t remember, except that, as a kid, it seemed to take forever to get there and we always seemed to pass through those windmills.
We would leave really early in the morning, like at 5 or 6. I think. Something really early. While it was still dark. And we’d meet at a McDonalds where the adults would plan the course. There’s something exciting about being up really early and listening to adults plan trips. It’s just a sense of adventure, you know? Just knowing you’re going to be somewhere fun soon.
And off we would go, usually caravaning but not always. James’ dad used to have this old brown van that was legendary because there were no windows in the back at all, which meant that as we went up and down these long windy roads in the mountains, everyone would vomit. So we called it the throw up van. Later he got a truck, and we’d sometimes bring our bikes. On one such trip, me and James were riding around and there was this one section in the campground with a big long downhill sloping road. We’d ride down it then put our feet on our handlebars. Once I was going down and I decided I’d clap real quick, just to show off or something. So with my feet on the handlebars, I let go with my hands to clap, and as I did, I swear, time slowed down and I became aware that I was slowly tilting to the side, and eventually I spun out and got pretty bruised and stuff.
Gosh these trips were so great. We’d have ramen cooked on a Coleman stove, and cool stuff like that. A lot of memories. I remember one trip, and I won’t name names because we know these people, and I actually wasn’t there, but a bunch of kids played Truth or Dare, and one person’s dare was he had to pull down his pants in front of his brother outside the tent, so they went out and you could hear his brother yelling “Lower!” Another dare was this guy had to walk around the circle where the parents were having Bible study and sing the Rainbow Brite theme song.
That was another cool part of those camping trips. On Sundays, all the parents would get together around the campfire and have a little service, singing a few hymns and just kind of talking. It was very cool, an indelible memory. It just felt very fresh and solemn, in the cold forest around a fire in the morning, listening to all the parents sing Korean hymns. And the mornings when we left were also cool. We would generally have marshmallows the last night, and the next morning, the embers from the fire would still be warm, a little glowing. The kids who got up early would sit around the ashes, kind of bundled up since it’s cold, and all just kind of look at the fire. Just the older ones. Not really talking, just kind of watching the fire in the early morning. I don’t know why I liked that but I did.
The parents would always say not to play with fire, because if you did you’d pee in your pants. A weird Korean thing. But we mostly did.
By the way, I have lots of incriminating stories of what the older kids, now highly respected in the Asian American Christian world, did on these trips. Mostly stories. These people we admire today weren’t so pure back then. My goodness. Like the Golden Toilet. And that was mild.
Anyway, me and James did a lot together. We started our athletic careers together. Flag football, when we were really really young, I’m thinking 5 years old. My mom said we’d mostly look at the sky while the Nerf football bounced off of us. But we still got a little trophy. That’s the best thing about kids’ sports. You always get a trophy. Even if it says something lame like “Participant.” A trophy is a trophy.
We played in different leagues for soccer, though. I was in BVSC. Blossom Valley Soccer Club. My first coach was George I think Romero, Danny Romero’s dad. I think. This was a long time ago, like first grade. I was a defender at first, along with Chris Lucero’s brother and Yash. That was a good club. We did well and went to a San Jose Earthquakes game that year. After that year, I was on mostly bad teams. But the coaches were always great. Our coach for a long time was Paul Gorton, just one of the nicest guys ever. He was just a really nice guy. Our best year, as I recall, was when we were the Dragons. But I can’t remember how well we did. I was never particularly physically talented, but I was smart, which makes up for more when you’re young than when you’re older. I played mostly halfback. Didn’t score much, but I think I played well.
That year we were really good we put one of the worst players at goalie because he didn’t see much action. He actually turned out to be pretty good. The thing is, under BVSC rules, you could only take 3 steps after trapping the ball before kicking it. But he had this terrible habit of backing up before he took his steps, so he’d get the ball, then back up 2 steps, then start his 3 steps. Everytime he got the ball, all the coaches and parents would be yelling from the sideline not to back up! Don’t back up!
But I’m digressing. Anyway, James and I hung out a lot as kids. We also took swimming lessons together at first, before he joined a club. Often on summers we’d go to one of the Thousand Trails, which is kind of hard to describe. I guess it’s like a country club? More like a outdoors club. But they had a pool and campgrounds and stuff like that. James’ mom was a member so she’d take the 4 of us and we’d swim all day. Oftentimes on the way home we’d stop by Mountain Mike’s Pizza.
We went to each other’s houses quite a bit, especially when there was something going on at church that kids didn’t go to. So they’d drop me and Christine at their house or vice versa before taking off. Sometimes, when they came home late, we’d all pretend to be asleep so we could spend the night. I don’t know why spending the night was so cool but it was. So we’d hear the parents came back and we’d all pretend to be so fast asleep that they couldn’t wake us up and sometimes, if it was too much trouble to carry us, they’d just leave us there. I’ve told this story before but who cares; I’m redundant.
The weird thing about us is that we were uncomfortable when people (especially my sister) would ask us if we were best friends. I, I think we, were just totally uncomfortable answering that question. If someone asked, it would just make us squirm and say stuff like, “I don’t know, I guess so, whatever.” I’m not sure why. I think it was, I don’t know, the title? The status? It made things tense if you had to classify it or whatever, and this pressure of being best friends was put on the relationship. I think what I liked best was just not talking about what we were and just hanging out, so there was no pressure or anything. Can anyone understand this at all? All my life I’ve hated the term “best friend.” It’s just such a pressure filled term. I hate pressure, especially with relationships, and especially with male relationships. It causes me to flee. Which is why I’ll always essentially be a loner. I know you don’t believe me with this, but I have always and will always distance myself when there’s any perceived pressure in a relationship. I don’t know why, but it’s always been. It’s not that I don’t like relationships. I just don’t like pressure.
There was one evening for some reason I remember. We were messing around at his house one night doing nothing and pretty much bored. So we started messing around with Lego’s. We were into Lego’s. Basically we just threw Lego’s into the can. But we got more and more creative and fancy with our shots, and by the end, I at least was having a great time. It was very simple.
This, I think, is a key thing about my personality. I think when it comes to pleasures and emotions, I’m very simple. I think to no end about lame things because I can’t help it, but that’s intellectual; the things that satisfy me emotionally are really simple. Like some of the things that have made me deeply happy the past few days have been going through a car wash (seriously made my day) and reading in a park. I went to a park today (sorry for the mysterious disappearance, Henry, but I really needed to be by myself) and it was so great. Saw a lot of families, some young couples sitting on each others’ laps, lots of young parents with toddlers, some big groups having barbecues. It was a fantastic afternoon, just the right amount of warmth, and just a great day to be outdoors doing nothing. Very simple, and deeply satisfying. And cheap.
I won’t deny I have some expensive pleasures, though. Most notably good food and recently, wine.
Anyway, I like watching people. Also went to Coffee Society, where on occassion I went during high school after seeing a movie at the Oaks. Such an interesting place. There are 3 types of people there. The wannabe cool high school people, who dress in weirdo mostly black clothes and are convinced that hanging out at a coffee shop is a cool arty thing to do. This place caters to these types. There is no way you can be cool in high school. Being really cool to me means expressing your own style, defining yourself. You just don’t know enough or have enough life experience to do that in high school. Being cool in high school means choosing a stereotype to emulate, be it jock, teenybopper, or arty weirdo.
The second type is the Silicon Valley nerd. These types are pretty much unavoidable no matter where you go in the Bay Area. This group of 3 near me had this conversation about object oriented programming paradigms (all of which, sadly, I understood fully) and used phrases like “it took me some time to parse his sentence” without shame. Like I said, you can’t avoid this in the valley. By the way, apparently, the infamous [blink] tag in Netscape was conceived over beer at the Peninsula Creamery.
The third type are the truly weird that reside in coffee houses around the world, most notably in Berkeley. This one truly bizarre character was talking about how life needs to be a line based on value not time. I couldn’t understand him at all, but he was pretty passionate about it.
Anyway, high schoolers invariably annoy me but the weirdo white guys with dreadlocks that work there are very nice, and I have always found their Mocha Latte among the tastiest around.
I digressed. Yeah, my pleasures are simple. Me and James were into Lego’s. The thing is, we never (well, almost never) had the really cool Lego’s but just the basic ones, where all the pieces were pretty much rectangular. We had a few interesting ones, more James than me, but nothing really fancy. But we’d build some really cool stuff. My specialty was building these Lego ships that attached to other Lego ships to make bigger ships, a la the 3rd Voltron. It was actually pretty cool. That was great.
Paul though would have dope Lego’s (I’ve mentioned this before) I mean the ones with like rotating pieces so you could build helicopters with retracting legs that he’d bring to church on occasion.
And that’s something I’ve realized is a difference between Paul and me. Paul is the best at what he does, and he’s always getting better. Most notably, he’s always getting better stuff. Paul has always had the best stuff he could get, be it software, hardware, or just gadgets, and he’s the best at it – he always gets it at amazing deals, and often sells it for profit. It’s truly amazing; he’s the best. I on the other hand, haven’t really. My last computer was a 486. My guitar was given to me by a friend. The coolest Lego’s I have were given to me by Jieun. The only thing which I have that is cutting edge (besides my wit) is my DVD player.
Anyway, the reason for this difference is that Paul is a visionary and I am fundamentally lazy. Thus, Paul will always be looking at bigger and better things, be it stuff or goals or whatever, whereas I will always be looking at what I have. It’s a lot like the Lego’s. Paul was the best at making dope things with his new ones, but I was too lazy and made my dope creations with what I have. Paul’s the visionary one, who sees bigger potentials and moves towards them. I think I’ve only looked at what I have and how I can do the most with that. Which is why I never know about things outside my system. If I didn’t have a college counselor in high school, I would never have gotten into anywhere. As it is, at Stanford, all I know about is Stanford. I have no idea how to go about applying to PhD programs or jobs or pretty much how to find out about anything I need to know to survive. Like how do people know about NSF and other grants? I have no idea. Because I’m lazy. Fortunately, it’s been enough for me so far just knowing Stanford and the co-term program and whatever. The point is, I tend to look at my current situation and no further.
I have no doubt that we will both be successful, Paul and I. Paul with undoubtedly big things, like Joseph, and me with my conveniently self-defined success. The interesting thing is how this is all reflected in the kind of Lego’s we played with. Or maybe I’m just pulling this out of my butt. What you think, Paul?