perception of/from others: a realization

Back in November, I had to get a physical for an application I was submitting. So I went there, and was told that I needed an M.D. to sign my form, and that while I could have my physical that day, I would need to come back the following day to pick it up. But that it would be ready first thing in the morning. So I come during my 30 minute lunch break, and unfortunately, the form was not filled out. In fact, the clinic told me to wait. So I waited. For the entirety of my lunch break, on top of the time it took to commute to and from the clinic from my workplace. I did not want to come off as a diva or diva-ish, so I kept my mouth shut and was as polite as I could be. I felt annoyed, because they obviously forgot to sign the form first thing in the morning, like promised, and probably would have forgotten had I not even followed up with that. But they took advantage of that. And I missed eating lunch, took a 50 minute break because the workers did not communicate to each other, and on top of that, I had no signed form. I had to come back a third time to that clinic later that day just to get the form signed.

Later in January, I find out that I needed an additional shot. So I went ahead and got it, but I found out I needed the physician to update it. So this time, I made an appointment. Since that would guarantee that I would be scheduled for a certain time. I even explained to the receptionist repeatedly that I just needed the physician to re-sign my form. Yet, the same issue happened again. I came in, slightly earlier than my scheduled time, and waited until 30 minutes after my scheduled appointment time. At that point, I was upset, and I, still politely, asked for an update on why I could not just see the physician really quickly to get it signed. They told me, with no apology, to wait another 10 minutes, even though I said that I had already been waiting for 30 and that I was on my lunch break to be here. It was only after I pressed more that they did something about it. And it took 5 seconds, like I said it would to get my request done. Yet I was still upset, because of how consistently bad they were at customer service, communication, and time management. This time, however, I decided to speak out on my second experience with this in a review. And of course, the clinic tried to reach out to me, asking me to give them another chance. Honestly, I had forgotten about the first incident until I heard them say that. The only reason why they even cared to address the issue was because I publicly spoke about it.

I was honestly beyond upset and frustrated. Having to take longer than your allotted break time, and to not even get the break you earned, it’s frustrating. Not being able to eat because of the clinic’s operation, really frustrating. Having some ignorant person reach out after the incident happened, upsetting. Because it was made very apparent that they would not have cared if I did not leave that review. The receptionist did not even apologize for the delays, or at least explain or communicate them to me. Nor did she inform the physician that I just needed a form to be re-signed and that my request only would take all of 5 seconds to do. While they might perceive me as an angry person for getting upset, my impression of them is no more positive. That receptionist, clearly just there for a paycheck and nothing else. She does the bare minimum because she does not care about helping others. That PR person who reached out to me, she only wanted me to remove that review/not spread my extremely poor experience to the general public. Like I said, had I not left a review, they wouldn’t have reached out to me. They did not the first time, so why would they have this second time? They don’t care to prevent the problem from happening. They only wanted to play damage control.

To summarize a long story and a series of frustrating lunch breaks turned waiting in a clinic lobby, what this experience made me realize is that I should have just been myself from the get-go. I am not saying that I am a diva. But I am saying that I should have been more vocal and pressed earlier to get what I wanted faster. However, I cannot just blame myself for this situation. That clinic is full of people who caused me several inconveniences as well. And they were not genuinely apologetic at any portion of my interactions with them for their inefficiencies. Not even one single apology until I made that post. And I highly, highly doubt that it was sincere. It just goes to show that some people will only care about your opinion if it is posted publicly. While I felt a tinge of guilt for doing that, I do not regret my decision. They acted and treated me in a way in which they deserved that score. No explanation, apology, no remorse for keeping me waiting over two requests that would take seconds to do. Ultimately, what I’m realizing from this all is that if you want to be well-perceived, you need to exude that sort of behavior from the get-go, rather than after others have already casted judgement. Be the you that you want to be seen as, but just know that there is a factor of credibility that goes with that. You cannot just ask people to respect you. You need to act in a way that is deserving of their praise.



















falsely justified bullying: realization

Something that I have come to realize about certain bullies are that they make the most ridiculous excuses to antagonize somebody else. I can immediately think of two instances of this, one in fifth grade, and one in senior year of college. In fifth grade, there was a boy, I’ll call him Phil to keep things discreet, who went out of his way to bully me. We were classmates and it just so happened that I was being annoyed a lot by somebody who I will call Mickey (not his real name, obviously). Mickey would like to touch other people, which I found gross, so I would often yell at him and call him out for it, telling him to stop, because it was unpleasant. However, our teacher felt like Mickey was being picked on a lot, because Mickey was socially awkward and nobody felt comfortable around him. Our teacher would tell everyone to look out for him, even though he was obviously harassing others and found enjoyment in doing so, because it was attention nonetheless for somebody was felt neglected. Phil took it upon himself to then bully me as well, claiming he was doing so to protect Mickey. He would call me ugly, a donkey, and other ridiculous insults every single day. I would not even open my mouth sometimes, and he’d still go out of his way to do this, just because I yelled at Mickey before, and I was repulsed by Mickey’s really inappropriate tendencies. Phil argued he was doing right, but he was no better than I was, nor did he even listen to that rationale.

I remember that just moments before I broke down crying, because I felt like I was being harassed to that degree, I called Phil out on his actions. But he then called me an ugly donkey, per usual, and then went on to say that I deserved the treatment I was receiving, and then went on to say a lot of things in Korean, to which my Korean classmates then laughed about; it was obvious that he was throwing insults at me, and again, he was being the very thing he was claiming to be preventing/defending against: a bully. Obviously, Phil had a lot of pent up aggression and anger that he was refusing to express. Instead of channeling that in a healthy manner, he took to bullying other people, i.e. me, and he obviously did not care about Mickey. He just wanted to vent, and used Mickey being isolated as an excuse to do so. It was highly ironic, because Phil was as much a bully as me to Mickey, or Mickey was to others. I don’t really know what happened to Phil after elementary school, because he transferred out of our district. All I remember was that he did get sent to the principle’s office, not for making me cry, but for enabling/empowering Mickey to touch other people and it just goes to show that again, he did not have Mickey’s best interests in mind. A true friend would not be bullying other people’s bullies and ignoring the main issues at hand, in this case, being that Mickey was physically harassing other people. They would help the victim out, and while standing up to an antagonist helps, there’s a proponent to reflecting on actions and trying to understand why somebody is getting bullied or bullying that needs to be done for everyone to actually grow as people. Phil could have just told me to stop yelling at Mickey. He did not have to go as far as bully me every day, calling me names and demeaning my physical appearance. He could have also told Mickey to stop touching other people too. But instead, he just manipulated the situation and used it so he could become a bully himself.

The other situation happened to my friend, who I will call Lily. While she was their vice president, she still got bullied in college by an Asian student group, or more accurately, by select members of said group. She had a conflict with a guy, who we will dub Harry, who was passive aggressively slinging insults at Lily. And when another member of that group, who I will call Clancy, hear, Clancy went as far as publicly screaming at Lily in front of other members of the student group. Clancy claimed that the reason why he was allowed to do this was because he was being a good friend to Harry, and that Harry was too nice to express his discomfort towards Lily. Obviously, this was a lie, since Harry was openly rude and showing animosity to Lily, and Clancy himself did not need to take Harry’s conflict into his own hands, nor did he need to even mention being a good friend, which obviously shows where his true motivations lied behind: himself. He wanted to feel good and he wanted to prove to everyone that he was a loyal friend. And he would go as far as to vilify Lily to make himself look like a hero. Clancy did not care that Harry and Lily were butting heads. He wanted to exert his dominance, as somebody with more seniority and higher presence than either of them. He was self-important, and quite frankly, an instigator. He wanted every conflict to center around him, so that he could “resolve” the issue, by isolating one person to generate more respect for him from the other people involved.

I won’t even bother getting into what Clancy did to me, because I am trying to be less self-important than he is, but I can say from that personal experience that people like him are not interested in hearing all sides of the story before making judgements or actions. When it comes to dealing with conflict, or antagonists, there is a fine line between actually resolving the issue or becoming a villain and escalating an already toxic situation. Both Phil and Clancy did that by essentially hijacking a conflict that they were not really involved in, just to get some sort of buzz out of antagonizing somebody. That to me is not being a good friend nor is it even being a good person. It is characteristic of somebody who has issues, either deeply ingrained in them, and likely from a source that does not even pertain to the current subject matter or conflict in question. In short, they have chips on their shoulders, and rather than dealing with their own problems, they choose to lash out on other people, and use whatever excuses, being conflicts between two people, that they can to justify their actions, to put themselves on a higher horse, and to feel empowered as a bully. To live a healthy life, it is more important to tackle your own inner demons and address them, and at the same time, do not get involved with conflicts unless they somehow affect you directly, otherwise, you’re just stepping into somebody else’s problems, and putting your own stake into a situation you did not need to. Being able to know who to talk to, and how to approach a situation, that is important to living a feather light life.





learning where to draw the line: realization

Something I wonder is if somebody’s actions are genuinely as reprehensible as I feel they are. The context is that during my senior year in college, I was “friends” with a girl, who I willy just name Holly, to hide her real name. Holly and I were not terribly close, but she often hung out with my roommate at the time, and because of that, I would basically see her every day, and we would talk often; she was transferring into the same major as me, so I wanted to help prepare her and let her know what to expect. But I got the vibe that she was not even interested in hearing that. She just wanted to get into my roommate’s pants. And then, of course, the whole incident between me and my roommate happened. Surprisingly, Holly was one of the few people who actually tried to find me when I attempted to jump into the ocean. But she did not say a word when she did find me. She stared at me, with these eyes that I could not discern if they were filled with judgement or worry. Shortly after the incident, she went on to date my roommate.

This is where the situation got awkward for me. On one hand, I appreciate the fact that Holly cared enough about me to come find me, especially when she did not have to. However, knowing that she would date somebody, knowing that the person she had feelings for was capable of doing that to another human being, that to me screamed out very bad judgement of character. And on top of that, most of my subsequent encounters with Holly were simply just her giving me these long, silent looks when she would see me on campus. As if I did not deserve to be in school, but rather, shipped off to some institution. It was a lot of passive aggressive treatment. It went from her liking all of my posts on social media to her judging me. Clearly not understanding or willing to hear my side of the story in any of this, as she thought that I was this bad person, and that she was doing my ex-roommate a favor by dating them, as if doing so was part of their healing process. To me, it was obvious bullshit, for a lack of better words. She wanted to date my roommate from the get-go. I saw through it, and even when I was still friendly with my ex-roommate prior to the incident, I expressed support for their relationship. But that was before the incident, and before I realized what kind of heartless human being that I was living with.

Things took a turn for further awkward, because first off, I graduated. So I went about my post-student life as a working adult. I kept Holly on Instagram just because she was not terribly active on it anymore. But then in January of 2018, she started posting pictures. Of her in the hometown of my ex-roommate. I was obviously triggered and without a second thought, I un-followed her from social media. Now, it might all seem trivial now, and even as I am typing this, I am actually laughing because it sounds so silly. But in that moment, I felt that same anxiety, because I was being reminded of a person and a specific incident I was trying to forget about. And seeing her dating that person, it was very unsettling for me. All I could think was that Holly was a moron for rewarding somebody so undeserving of her company with her love, attention, and affection. It was not necessarily jealousy, but rather, frustration because my ex-roommate was milking being a victim of a situation that they had a huge part in escalating just to date her. And she was buying into that, and drinking the Kool-aide. But after the un-follow, I started to forget about them again, since I had no further contact.

That was until I visited my college town again to catch up with friends, and to my huge annoyance, Holly’s relationship was brought up, yet again. Like I really needed to hear about it. Full sarcasm intended there. They broke up. Which would be good for her, because the ex-roommate turned ex-partner for her was honestly a coward and a troublemaker anyways. However, it made my relationship with her awkward. I wonder if she did wrong in the first place by dating her, and if this was an action that even needed my forgiveness to rectify, or if I have a right, as somebody who was wrongfully attacked and misbranded by her ex, to not like her as a person, because she chose to date them after what transpired. It is one of those complicated situations, where I wonder if, since they are no longer dating, if I should continue to think of Holly as somebody who supports bullying and immature behavior, or just let bygones be bygones and not let the past affect the fact that she is somebody who cared enough about me to look for me when I was in a dark place, despite her body language telling me that her intentions were for my interest, but rather, to look good and impress somebody else. For now, I continue to keep my distance, not to run away, but rather, because Holly lives in a completely different time zone than I do, and she is just a character of a very twisted part of my past. Either way, the line I drew was to cut her off, which is what she did when she chose to date a bully. So I have to live with that choice for now, as that acceptance is a part of my feather light life.






progression vs regression: realization

The saying “old habits die hard” really hits home with me from time to time. I notice an unusual cycle with my life, in recent years, where I go into a state of isolation, driven by butting heads with somebody I thought was a friend. As a result of cutting ties with somebody like that, I wind up giving off airs of confidence to hide my loneliness and anxiety, as well as regret and guilt for destroying a friendship. And when that emotional baggage becomes too much to bear, I crash. Depression hits like a train, and I unravel. I keep thinking that I can overcome this cycle, but it seems like I get caught into it as quickly as I get out of it. And I wonder to myself, am I really overcoming these bad habits, or just taking a break from them? When did this start happening to me? And why does it happen to me? I have to dig deep, and really think back when this started.

Elementary school. First grade to be exact. I had a group of people who I thought were my friends. They definitely weren’t. They used and abused me. And I had separation anxiety when they finally abandoned me. I wanted to fill that void. And I filled it with anger and rage. A desire to ruin these antagonizers’ lives. That really hijacked a huge portion of my early childhood, even stemming into parts of middle school, where I was able to prove my worth, and expose their lack of it. Then I hit a slight slump, where my life plateaued because my desire to push myself was no longer there. I just wanted to excel to spite those people who hurt me. And in senior year of high school, I wound up feeling this emptiness and regret, for being so unprogressive with my accomplishments, first and foremost, not realizing that what drove a majority of my desire to succeed was revenge. And that resulted in me fighting with yet another friend, who I was close to. And it set off another bout of anxiety and depression. And from that, it stemmed into a desire to thrive again. I wanted to prove to that ex-friend I am better off without their attention or their time, when in reality, I was trying to cope with that loss.

In college, I thrived yet again. People knew who I was, because I was so determined to put myself out there, and establish a reputation for being this capable, reliable, and well-liked personality. And yet, another fight happened between me and somebody I thought was a close friend, during my junior year. It was stressful, and I guess in a turn of events, I was angry before I was hurt. My rage allowed me to accomplish more, including a business minor, Dean’s list, and getting on board for four different student organizations. But then, the loneliness kicked in again. That sadness of knowing that I cut ties with somebody who I really thought was my friend. And that led to the very indecent that actually spurred me to starting writing in a blog, something I feel a bit tired thinking about. But ultimately, the cycle I have noticed is that I get into a rut, get hurt, then angry, then vengeful, which drives my successful, but once I achieve what it was that I set out to prove, I plateau, and feel lost and confused. That confusion gives birth to yet another rut, and from there, I question if my entire life will be built upon disproving horrible people and working off my rage and frustration.

What I realize about this entire, horrible cycle that I have lived my near 24 years of life around is that there are a ton of awful people out there. And that is what this world is. A bunch of scumbags, but amongst there, genuine gems of human beings. People who do care, who will sacrifice, and go out of their way for those that they care about. And the people who manipulate, use, and hurt others. Something I still have yet to fully learn is how to ignore the latter in my quest to fill my life with the former. How to not let those fake, two-faced, abusive, or toxic personalties affect me to the degree that they do. How to achieve things not to escape from a problem or to spite somebody and prove that they were morons or idiots for doubting me. While yes, realization is one key step, the next important step is to practice what I preach. To sound out the baggage and to not allow it to define me anymore. While it is hard, it is necessary to make that progression and to burn the bridges that enable my regression. I will need to do that, to live my feather-light life.






Bad Together: Chapter 4

A couple days had passed and it was already the next Friday. Farina stood in line, waiting excitedly. “Ah crap, I’m running late.” Jamie sighed as he got out of his Uber and darted off for the London Eye. Neither of them have ever been and it was the sight of their next date. Jamie was slightly nervous; one of his fears was heights and being out of control of his own fate. Planes, roller coasters, trains, and ferris wheels, they all made him feel uneasy, especially knowing that he has to entrust his life in the hands of some complete stranger. But he wanted to do this. It was about time he conquered a fear, and especially in front of somebody he really liked. But he had to make sure he did not keep her waiting for much longer. “Farina?!” He shouted, finally running into a crowd of people waiting to board the attraction. “Hey, wait in line!” An angry tourist barked at him. “Oh, no. He’s with me, sir.” Farina poked her head out of the crowd, certain she heard her name being shouted by Jamie. “Hey, sorry for the wait.” He felt bad for making her stand there for him. “Oh, don’t worry about it. I’m the kind of girl who likes to come to things 15-30 minutes early anyways.” She shrugged. Farina was used to waiting for others, so this nothing out of the ordinary for her. Patience was something instilled in her from a young age, hence why the theatre student was able to befriend almost everybody, especially people like Jessica. “Well, are you ready for the ride? I’m so excited!” She clapped her hands. It was a new side to Farina for Jamie to see. Normally, she was somebody who exuded low energy, so an enthusiastic Farina was a rare sight to behold. “I just love city views. Seeing the giant buildings and landscapes, it helps remind me why I wanted to be an actress in the first place. I wanted to be a famous actress who can hit the big city and enjoy a civilized lifestyle.” She beamed. “You mean you weren’t always a city girl?” “Oh, of course not!” She laughed.

Farina was born in Guangzhou, China, but moved to Linkou, Taiwan, when her parents relocated for work. Back then, she went by Liu Xiaofei, which was to represent her spontaneity, creativity, and easygoing nature, according to her mother. Once she enrolled in the Taiwanese European School, she changed her name to Farina Liu, since they were required to have Americanized names. Since she was specifically in the British school, she was taught English and was given an immersive experience in British culture. However, she was raised in the Yangmei District of Taiwan, where the lifestyle was more low-country and suburban. Ever since she was young, Farina was already scouted by agencies for commercials and advertisements; she started modeling on and off from the tender age of five, and since then, she had never stopped, even when she tried to. While she did commute for school and modeling work every day, she hardly ever considered actually living in a city environment until she had to get ready for university applications and visited universities and schools throughout Europe, China, and Taiwan. Traveling through the city after city, it was an eyeopening experience for her. She had always known she wanted to do something either modeling or acting related, but it was not until she saw the plays on Broadway that she set her sights on London. While she was more interested in becoming a film actress in China, seeing these performers and how impassioned they were on and offstage, she wanted to bring that level of artistry and dedication back to screens all over Asia. It was when she got into Central Saint Martins that she felt a sense of self confidence in what she was doing. Farina felt like she was heading in the right direction with her life.

“Wow! Look at it! It’s breathtaking!” Farina was too busy admiring the view of the entire city to realize that Jamie was trembling. All the former stockbroker was thinking about was the cart and hoping that the screws stay intact and that they all don’t plummet to their deaths. “It’s beautiful.” Jamie murmured, still trying his best not to let Farina realize that he was internally terrified beyond belief. “Hey, what’s wrong?” She finally turned over, realizing that Jamie had been acting strange the entire time. “Oh, nothing.” He tried to lie through his teeth, but was clearly failing to do so convincingly. “You’re lying.” She raised an eyebrow at him, frowning. “Okay, well I should have told you this beforehand, but I’m…. deathly terrified of heights and being in vehicles like roller coasters and planes. There’s just this feeling of helplessness, like not being in control of my life, that I don’t like.” He confessed. “Oh… well, I feel bad now. I just made you do this. I’m sorry.” Farina could not help but feel horrible for subjecting Jamie to this uneasiness. “No, I wanted to do it, though. It was about time I confronted my fears. I’m 26, I own my own business, and I’m still afraid of heights? I can’t let that be the case anymore.” He insisted, much to her surprise. “Wow. I appreciate that mentality.” She beamed at him, holding onto his arm. “And don’t worry. If we do fall, at least we have each other. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true, right?” She giggled. “You’re right. On both counts. That was way too cheesy, and I’m Italian!” He chuckled back at her, adding to the incredibly bad jokes. But it was that sense of comfortability that helped Jamie through the rest of the ride. He forgot about possibly falling to his demise. All he was thinking about was being with Farina, and how it made him feel invincible. Nothing scared him anymore, with her by his side.

“I had a great time tonight.” Farina smiled at Jamie as he walked her back to her apartment. They had just finished dinner and were ending yet another date. This was number five now. “I know it’s a bit forward for me to ask this, but Farina, I really like you.” Jamie started. She could already tell where this was going, and the aspiring actress could not withhold her excitement. “Farina, would you-” “Yes! I will!” She smiled. Jamie frowned. “You didn’t let me finish there.” He shook his head. “I think I know what I’m agreeing to.” She insisted. “Alright, perfect. So I’ll come by tomorrow to harvest your kidneys and sell them on the black market.” He teased while she smirked at him coyly. “Boy, you can harvest my kidneys any time, okay?” She offered jokingly. “This is why I like you so much. And that is why, beyond obviously wanting to harvest and sell your kidneys, I was wondering if we can finally put a label on this? I’d like us to be exclusive. Somebody as incredible as you, I want you to be my girlfriend.” He confessed. “Jamie, all I can say is no. To harvesting my organs or whatever. That part is really weird. But yes, I would love that.” She beamed at him as they kissed. It was not the first time they had done that, but it was the first kiss they shared as an actual couple. It felt like it lasted for a second, but it lasted much, much longer than that. Then again, that was with anything enjoyable in life. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, boyfriend.” She smiled as they finally parted ways. “Sure thing, girlfriend.” Jamie beamed back at her as he watched her walk into her building. They were both the happiest they had been for a long, long time. In Farina’s case, she wanted to move past Joseph. In Jamie’s case, this was his first relationship ever. They both had felt like they were meant to be together. This relationship was supposed to happen. Without a doubt.

transcendence – dream

We often get lost in the bustle and demand of our every day lives and it drowns away our own thoughts, dreams, and desires. It sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s the truth. High stress and commitment, from things such as jobs, rent, paychecks, often causes us to forget about our own needs and concerns, our dreams and aspirations. Why would we be able to think about what we want out of our lives in the next five years when we have a task or chore that needs immediate attention, and therefore preoccupies our present? I wish there was a way for us to just turn this need to address the short term issues on and off, like a switch if you will. When it is off, we do not think about anything other than how and why we want to grow in the long term. Where do we want to be? How can we put the mundane or the painfully boring routine that we are slowly outgrowing behind us? These are the sorts of thoughts that litter my mind as I run through the motions and live in this cycle of waking up, going to work, working out, and going back to bed every day. Now I am grateful that I have this constant, but I would be lying if I said I never thought about breaking it to be a free spirit.

Why do we work? Why do we chase these titles and have the jobs that we do? Often times, it’s for the money. We need to pay bills and feed ourselves. Now I would never, ever become a transcendentalist, mostly because that sort of isolated, almost hippy-esque lifestyle does not fit me, but wouldn’t it be thrilling to have that same sort of liberation, minus the living in the forest? Just being able to cut free from expectations, be it your peers or your own, and just living life, enjoying every second of it. I could just go anywhere, regardless of the time of day, distance, or convenience or practicality. I could eat whatever I want, even if it is normally out of my budget or would be extremely difficult to procure. Why should I have to cut off that sort of freedom? Because I have to wake up at 7am the next day to get ready for work? Why should I not buy that basket of black truffles? Because it would take me 2 hours of driving through traffic to go to the market, and because $500 for one purchase would break my wallet?

A sad, but unfortunately expect truth, is that money is what ties us down. Now, I would never want to be a farmer or somebody who lived in the time of bartering, but I wish we could only get the things we want because we ask for them, knowing full well the consequences we would be walking into. Or better yet, we do not have consequences. Now, that would be impossible. Every action has a reaction, and typically one is at the expense of another. Wanting something comes at a price. But either a world where you do not have to factor that in, or for the price to not exist, imagine such a world. No stress, no concerns, no worries. Impossible, but it fits a world of our dreams. You can be a king or queen (or non-gender binding monarch, given how progressive we are these days) of your own life. You do not have to feel like you are just a small part of some large operation where you feel insignificant or unimportant. Easily forgotten.

Within such a transcendent world, you would not have to feel imprisoned in your job or obligations. You could feel like a somebody and not like wallpaper or in the background. You could feel significant, because the only person whos opinions or needs matter would be your own. You would be rising above everything else, and you would be your own number 1 priority. Nobody else would matter. To me, that sounds exhilarating. To know that you are freed from the burdens of being an every day person. You are still the same you, but with more focus on you. That sort of lifestyle would be ideal in my dreams. In my feather light life.

Bad Together: Chapter 3

“So how was it?” Olivia looked at Farina eagerly. The two were with another one of their friends, a tall tanned girl named Patricia, working together on a project for their graphic design elective. “I can’t believe you guys actually got into Raise. And that you spent one on one time with the owner! That’s crazy.” Patricia laughed in disbelief. It was not an everyday thing to see Jamie Cortina, the young-gun owner of Raise, let alone spend the night with him. “Well, he is not as tall as the photos make him out to look.” Farina laughed. “Says the pot to the kettle.” Olivia snorted. “What’s that supposed to mean?” The Taiwanese girl rolled her eyes at the remark. Olivia was referring to Farina’s modeling career; despite being only 5’1”, Farina was already a model, and every time she goes to an event, the first thing people tell her is that they thought she would be taller in person. “It sounds like he’s perfect for you. You guys can be deceptively short together!” Patricia teased. “Oh, shush. But it was a magical night, for sure. The height only bothered me for a second. And he was just a really… kind and considerate person.” She sighed, contently. Every single thought she has had since she went to Raise yesterday was of him. Whether it was just imagining what his childhood was like, or thinking about how kind and selfless he was, letting her in despite the drama Jessica caused, giving her a private tour of the club, and even giving her his jacket when he was worried she was cold. Most guys just wanted to sleep with her. But he seemed different. He seemed to be genuinely interested in learning more about her. They had been texting each other constantly since then, talking about the little things in their everyday lives, and even now, she was eagerly waiting for him to text her back in regards to what he was up to that day. Talking with him, it was fun. He lived such a different life from her, and being able to have a peek into the life of a successful club owner, it was really interesting. She was enjoying herself, and it seemed that the attraction was mutual. Or at least that’s how she chose to view it. He did not seem completely repulsed by her, nor was he just giving her short, one word responses that would insinuate a lack of interest. But all she could do was assume and hope that whatever feelings she had for him, they were reciprocated.

In his office, Jamie was looking at the numbers from the previous night, while also looking at his phone, waiting for a text notification. Their texts started with small talk, such as talking about what they were doing that day, but he just wanted to get into the deeper topics, about things like life aspirations. Having dealt with a lot of fake backstabbers in Wall Street, Jamie was a bit nervous to be pursuing a relationship with somebody as outwardly beautiful as Farina. At the same time, he felt that her personality, it was kind and gentle. She did not look like the type of person who would just use him for a free tour of Raise. “You seemed to have a fun night, yesterday.” Andy smirked, walking into the room. His arms were visibly bruised from having to separate a few fights the prior day, but he was used to being the brute force and last resort when the bouncers and security guards could not handle riots caused by the club-goers’. “You’re looking really peachy. I haven’t seen you this happy ever.” He continued, much to Jamie’s embarrassment. “Well, she’s banging. But she’s got a great personality too, and she’s smart and really talented, so she’s the total package.” He sighed, enamored by Farina. During their night together, he got a chance to see her acting and modeling portfolios, and she was definitely going to be a successful actress down the line. She was gorgeous, great at playing a variety of characters, ranging from a successful businesswoman to a high schooler to even a young nun. He had never quite met somebody like her. She was unique, and a breath of fresh air for him. Most women only ever wanted to sleep with him for the perks. But with her, she did not try to do any of that. Granted, he never really gave her the opportunity to try any of those moves on him; Jamie was too quick to offer up free admission and a one on one tour. But she seemed to be genuinely interested in knowing more about him. Suddenly, his phone buzzed. The club owner could feel his heart skip a beat as he scooped up his phone and read the text, wanting to respond as quickly as possible. “Hey, did you want to go out on Saturday?” He needed her to know that he really wanted this conversation to keep continuing. He never wanted it to end. “What time?” She sent back.

It was a foggy afternoon in London that Saturday. But she didn’t mind it. Farina was not thinking about anything other than meeting up with Jamie. They were going to spend the day over some afternoon tea, something a little more casual and laid back. Farina smirked to herself. Even though she had been going to school in London for three years now, she had never been to afternoon tea; she was always too busy with projects or internships, and she really never had a reason to go. Until now, that is. Her first high tea, and with somebody she genuinely wanted to spend time with. It had been a while since her last relationship, which happened back in Taiwan. It was with a young man, Joseph, who she had been dating since middle school, until halfway through high school. He was a charismatic young man, at least that was what she thought when she first dated him. Everyone like him for being this tall, smart, and handsome jock. But he turned out to be a elitist, rude, and condescending person, and he broke up with her the moment she confessed to him that she wanted to pursue theatre. “Good luck finding a job with a theatre arts degree. I refuse to date somebody who is trying to leech off my success.” He rolled his eyes before walking away. It devastated her at first, but Farina managed to pull herself back together, and focused on her career. She took every opportunity to model and act, and did whatever she needed to do so that her name could get out there. Commercials, internships, modeling gigs, networking events, awards shows, she attended everything, head shots and business cards ready, in hopes that she would get discovered. And while she did get into quite a few small things here and there, she knew that her big break had yet to come. 

“Here it is.” Jamie looked up from his Google Maps app. It was a very neat, clean white building. The Eccleston Square Hotel, a boutique property known for their tea parties. This was where he was meeting Farina. It was an exciting feeling. He could not wait to see her again. Surprisingly, the Italian American was not nervous. He was looking forward to spending more time with her. In a lot of ways, Farina was mysterious, but beautiful. He wanted to uncover the question mark that was this gorgeous, seemingly perfect person, and learn to love her for both her perfections and faults. Growing up, Jamie never had the time to date. He was busy putting himself through school, college, and making as much money as he possibly could. But he never understood the need to be nervous for a date. It was just another interaction between people, where you learn more about each other. It was almost no different from a business meeting for him. Maybe with less formalities, but that was how he talked himself out of being scared or uneasy about meeting up with the model and aspiring actress. Business as usual. He thought to himself. Opening the doors, he was just thinking about her and how much he could not wait to see her again. “Jamie!” She smiled, waiting inside of the lobby. Walking over to him, they met in an embrace. “I’m so glad to see you again!” She started. “You look gorgeous, as always.” He smiled at her, admiring her outfit and appearance. While she was wearing quite a few expensive labels, Farina could have worn a garbage bag and still looked beautiful in Jamie’s eyes. She was the textbook definition of the word ‘gorgeous’.

“So you’re telling me that you’ve never been to afternoon tea before?” He raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “I just never had time or really a reason to try it, you know?” Farina shrugged, taking a sip of her tea. It was a dark Darjeeling, aromatic and bitter. Quickly offsetting that with a white chocolate and cranberry studded scone, the fine arts student was enjoying her time. “But I’m glad I did, and I’m glad I got to have my first high tea with you!” She smiled. “Wait, is this your first time?” Farina asked, wondering if this was something Jamie did on dates with any girl. “Oh, no. This isn’t. I went with Andy when we first moved over here. And then a couple times with business partners and investors. I just like the environment. It’s relaxing.” He chuckled. Farina tried her best not to laugh at the image of Jamie and Andy attending high tea together. It must have been a sight to behold, seeing two fully grown men fumbling with tiny tea cups and even tinier treats. “Hey, what’s so funny?” He looked at her, clearly noticing her failing attempts to refrain from laughing. “Oh, it’s nothing. What’s your favorite thing that we’ve had so far?” She tried to change the subject, but to no avail. “Okay, for an actress, you’re not convincing me that something’s off. Just spill it. I’m a grown man. I can handle the truth.” He insisted. “Well, it was just the thought of you and Andy having tea together. It-” “It must sound hilarious, right? Trust me, we were laughing our asses off the whole time.” He finished. It was obvious this was not the first time he told this anecdote to somebody. There was something about his directness that appealed to Farina. Unlike a lot of the young men in her classes, Jamie was not this flamboyant, over the top, or passive aggressive personality. He was direct and clearly no-frills. She felt like she could be herself around him. It was clear that trying to put on an act just did not work for the club owner. And yet she loved it.

combating opposition – realization

When I became an editor in chief for a food publication (this was back in college), I had several hurdles I had to overcome. The first was that the publication was handed to me in really bad condition; we had no writers or photographers, and our editing team only had myself, my second in command, and one new editor as the only people who were actively trying to effect change. So already, we had run into the issue of having the weight of an entire organization on just three people at that time. And it got worse. One of my former writers, who felt offended that I removed the parts of her one submission that entailed basically trashing a restaurant where one of the publication’s alumnus worked, decided that she could run a better publication and went off to start her own. I found out about this during the summer before my term officially began, when she thought it was a smart idea to post a Facebook status about it and had her publication follow all of my publication’s Instagram followers. She attempted to take the few members and followers we still had with her, with some varying levels of success – she definitely took at least a third of our basically defunct team’s writers, which at the time, it shook me. We had two major challenges in total: reviving a basically dead organization, and combating opposition from people who felt so disrespected by us that they wanted to take us down instead.

At first, I kept the news about this new publication to myself; I did not want to stress my already small team as it was when we had to focus on ourselves. The only person who I wound up telling was my second in command, because I needed her to be on the same page as me when it came to our strategies on how to beat them. We first went over why this happened. Those writers must have felt neglected, disrespected, and just all around stifled. We had to change the environment within our publication. We had to increase our engagement. So we expanded our team to make that more possible. I took it upon myself as the editor in chief to do a lot of outreaching with members, personally messaging them and congratulating them for their contributions, even doing a member of the month page with a detailed tribute to members who we felt deserved the mentions. We also got aggressive with our recruitment as well, advertising on several platforms and pages, just to make sure that we had as many people added into our roster as possible. Once I taught my team how to be good at involvement and engagement, I decided to focus on tackling the other issue, being the enemy publication.

We already succeeded in stopping more people from joining the dark side, as we would refer to it as, because we created this happy community environment where everyone felt welcomed, appreciated, and involved. Luckily for us, that was really all we wounded up needing to do to dry up that publication’s resources: since their editor in chief was the same girl who wanted to dirty restaurant’s reputations, they did all of the damage to their own publication without me needing to employ underhanded methods. Their own aesthetic, culture, and image only attracted a small, small handful of people, who were likely just that girl’s friends. Meanwhile, the publication team was growing to the point where I literally had no time to focus on the opposition. I had so many writers and photographers to engage with that I really started to forget about the other side. While I harbored these deeply negative thoughts towards a group of traitorous people, I really did not need to, because by focusing more on my members and expanding our member base, that was all I needed to do to be successful as an editor in chief.

The best way to combat the doubters and the haters is honestly not to think about fighting them. Think about what caused them to act so negatively, and improve that aspect so that nobody else will think that way about you. Self reflection is the best defense against negativity like that. You don’t need to worry about those who think little or less of you anyways. They will be too busy thinking so highly of themselves that they will not even realize when you have surpassed them. I looked into the enemy publication recently and to my amusement, their last post was in September… of 2017. While my initial goal was to smite them, I managed to have that accomplished without having to resort to the same underhanded methods that they took. I did not need to poach their members, or steal their article ideas, or steal their following. By just working hard on the product, culture, and environment of what I had already, we superseded them. Looking at our publications side by side, there was no reason for anyone to go to them, because they were just a bunch of backstabbing, conniving people anyways, while we were longer established with a much more positive and supportive working environment.

New story series announcement: Bad Together

Bad Together is the story of two young people, Jamie and Farina, and their intertwining lives in London, England. Jamie is an Italian American transplant from Long Island, New York, while Farina is a Taiwanese performing arts student who is currently at Central Saint Martins. The story will tackle themes of toxic relationships, abuse, addiction, and overcoming them.

the leech – realization

I spoke about the fearmonger, who was one of two previous bosses I had the misfortune of working with. The other person who plagued my nightmares and fueled my hate-filled thoughts, I refer to him as the leech. Shamelessly a parasite, willing to make others do all of his work, and on top of that, also willing to throw you under the bus for not doing the work that he was supposed to do. I still remember feeling overwhelmed, because I had to handle bank statement reconciliations, requests from corporate, cash transaction variances, and journal entries on top of my own work. It was exhausting, stressful, and I remember that there was one moment when I genuinely could not handle doing it all within an eight hour day; they refused to pay us overtime as well, so I could not stay for long to handle the issues that plagued me.

I recall at the end of April, I had tried to get everything done, but I could not manage it all, due to having so many different processes; on top of what I had to do for the leech, I had to handle all cash distribution for a massive hotel, as well as the accounts payable side. So having to do all of that, it was impossible. And when I could not manage everything, he had the audacity to tell me that I was getting a written warning for not doing it all. That was when I put my foot down. Within the corporate standards, there was nothing written about me having to handle all of these things. While I managed to do my job plus his corporate request, bank statement reconciliations, and journal entries, I could not manage his cash variances for that month. And I knew for a fact that I was not supposed to be doing these things. I took it to human resources, and I actually won that case. It felt liberating to know that I did too, especially since human resources were just another set of eyes and ears for the fearmonger.

This man, if you could even call him that, he was painfully incompetent. For somebody claiming to have 22 years of experience, and is a CPA in an accounting department, he was useless. And that was the most polite way of putting it. Whenever I would ask him for help, he could not help me because he did not know how to do anything. Yet, he expected me to do everything for him, because he was that incapable. And he had no shame about dropping entire binders of work on my desk, leaving me with nothing more than a post-it with basic instructions on it, and asking me to do that work for him. I would come into work feeling anxious, because I dreaded walking up to my cubicle and seeing what fresh hell I had to tackle today, because he was so useless. There were multiple instances too, where he would come harass me to do his work when I was not in my cubicle. Seeing his shameless smile when he told me to help him, it was annoying. I rarely ever wanted to punch somebody so badly. It was like being electrocuted and being told that the more I screamed, the worse it would get. I had to keep silent.

People like that, regardless of how they are as a person, they’re a liability. They offer nothing to a high-functioning team and deserve to be removed. It was funny that human resources insisted that he was an asset and deserved his position when I initially complained to them about him, but when, for a lack of better vernacular, shit hit the fan when he epically dropped the ball to the point where everyone was throwing him under the bus, and they told us that he was an on-going issue that they had been trying to get rid of, I had to call them out on their lies. It was frustrating to deal with that to the degree I had to, but I could take solace in knowing that I got him fired. Upon leaving that company, I had to do an exit interview. I was completely honest, knowing that I had nothing left to lose. And I am glad that I was. Four days after I left, he got canned. 22 years and a CPA background can only do so much to save you when there was overwhelming evidence of your idiocy and incompetence. The leach shriveled from my salt, is the most fitting way to put it. And that is how it should be. Anyone who tries to use or manipulate you, salt them. Let them shrink away and die off. Removing those burdens is one way to live your feather light life.