Damn real: chapter 8

Phones were ringing and everyone in the hotel office was tense. It was the worst time of the month for the administrative level, and that was month-end. For Namie, that meant making sure she counted all of the front office and food and beverage employees’ banks and keeping the money in her vault even. “Alright, so counting all of the paid outs that I have already done, with the quotes, that makes me have $80,000 exactly.” She smiled to herself, locking up the large vault behind her. She was able to finalize her bank for the end of the month and it felt incredible. Stretching as she left her office, she smiled to herself. “Good luck, everyone! I’m taking off for the day!” She smiled, waving to her still-stressed coworkers. Her favorite part about leaving work was that she was so close to the Georgetown Waterfront. Before Uber-ing back home, she could take a moment to relax and admire the view of Virginia from across the river. “So many ducks.” She frowned to herself, taking note of the large crowds of brown and green birds polluting the water. “Time to call an Uber, I guess-” Before Namie could click on her app, her phone started ringing. It was her dad. “Ugh.” The accountant fought the temptation to answer the call before deciding to be a decent person. “Hello?” She tried her best to not sound angry, despite the fact that even the mention of her father made her blood boil. “Hi, Namie. So your mother and I have been talking about your marital status, and we both believe-” “I don’t want to get a husband right now, okay? I’m happy with my life and I don’t need to define myself as a person based on who I am dating. Bye.” She hung up the phone, unable to hear another second of her father’s chauvinistic nonsense.

Even though the month itself had ended in terms of the calendar timeline, month-end itself was still a multi-day process. Namie did finish all of her month-end work, but she still needed to follow up with every step that she submitted, making absolutely sure that every report was sent out so that she could put the nightmare that was the month of September. “Another month end, another day.” Namie had sighed to herself. An entire month had passed since the showcase, and she had been practicing every single weekend. One artist in particular really appealed to her, Koda Kumi. She was a J Pop singer and dancer, and Namie had been practicing the choreography from her songs in her free time, since there were a lot of waacking elements in her music videos and live performances. However, the phone calls from her parents, they did not stop. Ranging from her mother crying about Namie potentially not going to heaven to her father yelling at her for making her mother cry, or for adamantly defying his male authority, she could hardly be bothered to care. While yes, the accountant did harbor guilt for making her mother cry, she did not understand what they rationale was behind her needing to get a husband, especially given that she had already relinquished her Mormon beliefs and therefore, did not feel the need to go to heaven or anywhere after she dies. However, her parents did not give up on their convincing. “Did you buy the tickets yet, honey?” Mrs. Merrimen looked at her husband. “Yes, dear. The flight leaves tomorrow afternoon and arrives at night in D.C.” He confirmed.

“Alright, thank you all for coming down to our month-end celebration!” The Human Resources coordinator, Jeanne, smiled as all of the employees made their way down to the staff cafeteria. “So for our Associate of the Month for September, we wanted to award somebody who had been on our team for a little while now, and she had really stepped up in the finance department, being able to close the month effectively and with little to no real trouble. And that person is… drum roll please!” She called as some of the workers began hanging on the lunch room table to effect a drum. “Namie Merrimen, our general cashier! Congratulations, Namie!” The brunette was shocked as Claire sniggered. “Wow! Thank you!” She smiled. In the four years she had been working with The Ritz Carlton, she had never won Associate of the Month, so this was a huge honor for her. “You really captured the Ritz and Marriott spirit.” Jeanne congratulated her, handing her a glass statue with her name carved into it, along with the phrase “Associate of the Month.” It felt surreal. “Well, thank you all so much for nominating me for this. It is a pleasure to work with all of you and I look forward to continuing with that.” She took a bow. “You earned it, Namie!” David smiled at her. “Easily one of the best cashiers we have had in a while. You should be proud of yourself!”

“Cheers!” The three clinked glasses and downed the vodka. Wei, Claire, and Namie were at a club on U street, taking shots to celebrate being done with month-end. This occasion was cheekily dubbed by Claire to be their month-end after party. “Another round, on me.” Wei told the waiter, who walked over to the bar. “This bitch, she’s the real deal. Associate of the Month at the Ritz Carlton? Hells yeah, she deserved it. She earned it!” Claire sluggishly shouted. Despite her showering Namie with praises, because of how loudly she was speaking, it almost sounded as if the front office supervisor was yelling at her. “Thanks!” Namie laughed, taking another shot. After all of the idiocy her parents were putting her through about her dating life, she could really use a lot more alcohol. She did not want to go home sober, that was for certain. “More shots! On me!” Claire squealed as they finished another round of vodka. “Let’s go with some tequila this time!” She told the waiter, who was amused by the three’s semi-drunken antics. “Alright, coming right up.” He walked away again. “Oh, he’s cute. But he definitely looks gay. That’s not the face of a straight man. Why are all of the good men in this world gay or taken?!” Claire cried loudly as the waiter returned with their drinks. “Uh, I don’t think I feel comfortable answering that, ma’am.” He frowned, inching away. “Whatever. Have a good life!” She shouted after him before taking another shot.

The drive home was a blur for Namie. She did not remember anything other than being told that she should Uber home, and telling her Uber driver how to turn into her building because it was a confusing thing to do given that the pavement of the driveway and the sidewalk were painted the exact same color, though she was used to having to explain that, time and time again. Stumbling out of the car, she fumbled around with her purse. She was not seeing double, but rather, quadruple at this point. Definitely way too many shots, but it was a Saturday night, and Namie was proud of herself for taking ownership of her youth. “Namie?!” The half intoxicated brunette looked up to see a girl in her early twenties standing outside of her apartment, disgusted at her behavior. “Emiri?” She blinked, at first thinking she was still seeing things. “Holy shit, I must be so drunk right now, if I am imagining you here.” “You’re not imagining. You are drunk, but I’m real. Our parents told me about what happened and they got me tickets so that I can come over to talk with you. I think you have a problem. Well, other than being a blatant alcoholic.” She fanned the air in front of Namie and pinched her nose. The accountant was too drunk to roll her eyes, but she was definitely annoyed to see Emiri here.

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How it is: Chapter 9

In middle school, Timmy’s feeling for Valerie just continued to grow. Before, it was just because Valerie chose him and Tarou over their female classmates. But even during puberty, Valerie just blossomed. “Ugh, you two are so lucky you don’t have to wear a bra.” She groaned. “These things are like sandbags on my chest.” She was awkwardly referring to her bosoms. Both Tarou and Timmy were at a loss of what to say. Timmy was the youngest of three brothers and Tarou was an only child, so neither of them ever had to hear about bras, breasts, or periods before talking to Valerie. And since Valerie had very few female friends, she would just complain to them about her puberty-related predicaments, much to Tarou’s visible discomfort. Even then, Timmy was still intrigued by her. To him, she was always such an interesting person. At first, it was because she was the only girl who was not his mother who was close to him. But then those feelings, they expanded when he got to know her better. Hearing about her dreams and goals, and seeing the lengths she went to so that she could accomplish them, it was inspirational.

Valerie wanted to be a chef since she was really young. She used to travel with her grandparents throughout California, eating at fine dining restaurants, such as The French Laundry. By the time she turned 16, she was interning throughout her summers at a variety of restaurants. First, it was a local country club in Queens, where they all lived. But then, she started commuting to Manhattan to work for Mario Batali, and spent an entire summer in Chicago with her uncle, working under chef Stephanie Izard. Timmy still remembers that summer. It was before their senior year and Valerie was away the entire time. They would call every week, just to catch up. “So, how’s Chicago?” “It’s really cool! It reminds me of the city in a lot of ways, and I just love it.” She confessed. “I’m surprised by how not-homesick I am. That’s probably the biggest shock.” “Well, that’s great to hear!” Timmy was relieved, knowing that she was happy. “Hopefully, we’ll all be going to college together like we planned.” She laughed at them. “Definitely! Going to NYU with you and Tarou, it’ll be the best four years of my life.” He chuckled in agreement. Spending any time with Valerie was fun. She was a loyal and loving friend, and Timmy greatly appreciated that.

“So, I’m going to be competing on Warrior Chef, but that means that I’m switching to online courses to finish my education.” Valerie was sitting down with Timmy and Tarou. It was their senior year of high school, and she just heard back from the casting crew of the show. “Wait, really?!” They both looked shocked. While Tarou was excited, Timmy felt a little sad. He would not be spending their graduation together with her. But Valerie had already heard back from NYU, and got in with early decision. “I’ll see you guys on the other side of this experience, okay?” She smiled at them. “I can’t wait to hear about it!” Tarou grinned at her. “Unleash hell! Let them see what Stephanie Izard and Mario Batali taught you.” The Japanese boy chuckled. “Good luck, okay?” Timmy beamed at his crush. “Thanks, you two. I’m going to be sad that I won’t be graduating with you guys, but at the same time, this is really exciting and I can’t wait to compete! I want to make a strong impression in this competition from the get-go.” “Knowing what you can do, those other teenagers will not stand a chance. You’re going to be Warrior Chef. I know it.” Timmy assured her.

The concept of Warrior Chef was that high school students with an interest in the culinary field would compete in several challenges to determine a winner. In her season, Valerie was one of 16 high schoolers, and one of eight girls, to be competing. Much to her delight, she was able to start the competition on a strong foot, the entire first round and more importantly, the respect of everyone in that season. Everyone knew that Valerie was the strongest female cook. In the end, she wound up winning a total of eleven challenges. Valerie had the entire summer to work under Janice Arrington and slowly forget about losing the competition. While it was hard then, what helped her get over the pan was not thinking about it. She did not have the entire nation harping her on social media over her decisions at that point. Reliving the rounds going up to the finale, it actually bolstered her confidence. Valerie felt that no matter how she was portrayed in that final challenge, she would have enough fans and support to keep her going. But it was just comments of disappointment and judgement. Everyone thought she was an idiot. Nobody supported her decision to stick to dessert.

The one person Valerie would really want to speak to was Tarou. Since they were young, she always felt like she could relate to him. Then seeing him transform from what he was into an aspiring model, that was when her feelings turned romantic in nature. Tarou came off as confident and capable, but since they grew up together, Tarou was never nervous or afraid of her. He supported her as much as she supported him. Valerie knew that a relationship with Tarou, it would only help both of them grow as individuals and as a couple. But she did not want Timmy to feel uncomfortable, especially when the three of them were friends for such a long time. It was a major factor for why she always refused to confess her feelings to him. That, coupled with her fear of him rejecting her. Especially in the state she was right now, the last thing she needed was for yet another person she admired to tell her that she was not good enough.

Meanwhile, Tarou finally returned to the room from his event. “Hey, can we please talk?” He looked at Timmy, whose eyes were still red from crying earlier. “No. I don’t want to.” “What?” “I’m not ready yet.” He shook his head, before going back to ignoring the taller male. “What the hell do you mean you’re not ready yet?” Timmy did not respond. At this point, he felt like Tarou was being emotionally and verbally abusive to him. The constant yelling and screaming, it was beginning to take a toll on him emotionally. Just looking at Tarou, it made him uncomfortable. “Well, alright then, you fucking baby.” The model was already exhausted, and the last thing he needed right now was for Timmy to, per usual, treat him like shit or an obstacle. He did not need to be this protective of Timmy, and at that point, he decided it was for the best to keep his distance. “Hey, Alex. I just wanted to let you know that even if I do get the event coordinator position for ACU, I have to decline.” Tarou sent that message via Facebook to the president. “Oh, thank you for your honesty.” Alex sent back. The mode knew it was burning a bridge, but he did not care. The last thing he wanted was for Timmy to feel even more suffocated by him. Timmy was an immature brat who needed time to adjust to everything. Tarou was starting to realize just how inexperience the smaller male really was with life compared to him and Valerie. And a lot of that inexperience came from the Japanese boy smothering him with protection.

Road Movie: Chapter 24

“Are you ready, honey?” Mrs. Logan looked at her daughter. It was finally time to go to Phillip’s funeral. Dakota’s parents had arrived at her apartment to pick her up. They were going to drive together to Graceland Cemetery, where the brunette will see her boyfriend for the very last time. She felt nervous. She had no idea how she was going to react to seeing his body. It had been months, since she basically turned her life upside down and started anew. But this was something she knew she needed to do. She needed to finally confront the fact that she could not turn back and return to the life she used to have with him.

It was a very somber moment. Sitting in front of the sea of people, dressed in black. These were Phillip’s relatives, friends, and a few of Dakota’s as well. It was quiet. The brunette sat in the front, to her left, her parents, and to her right, Phillip’s father. The four of them slowly got up, and approached the casket. Phillip’s body laid there. It was the first time she had seen him since they had gotten into the accident. It had been months. Looking at the young man’s corpse, and seeing his peaceful expression, Dakota felt herself let loose a sigh of relief. The one thing that concerned her about this moment was the look on his face. She would have been devastated had his face worn a look of pain or despair. But it looked like he still went out peacefully. “You’ll always be a part of my heart.” Dakota whispered, as she placed the bouquet on the body.

Standing with Mr. Hopkins, Dakota and her parents quietly walked towards the casket with the rest of the crowd. They were going to bury his body now. “Phillip is in a better place now. And hopefully, we will be too.” Mr. Hopkins smiled at Dakota and her family. “”You’ll always be family to us, Matt.” Peter patted his friend and former neighbor on the back. “Thanks, Pete, Marisa, and Dakota.” He grinned sadly. But he knew that he had to live on for Phillip and Jessica now, more than ever. Neither of them would want him to be unhappy. He was moving into the next chapter of his life. He would be off, helping the less fortunate raise money for college. Nobody knew it at the time, but Matthew Hopkins would go on to be one of the best known philanthropists in the Greater Chicago area.

Walking back to her room, Dakota sighed. It still felt numbing that she just witnessed her own boyfriend’s funeral. But she knew that seeing him with that peaceful expression, that he lived a happy life, even if it was a short one. While her life was longer, Dakota needed to do whatever was necessary for her own happiness now. Phillip would have wanted that for her. Just as badly as she would have wanted that for him. She shook her head. Phillip was an all-consuming thought, but she needed to get him out of her head. She wanted to put those thoughts to rest with the funeral. She had to get into the habit of not thinking about him. “Honey, come down stairs!” Mr. Logan called. “Oh, okay!” She ran down, closing the door behind her.

Walking into the living room, the brunette found herself face to face with both of her parents. “Dakota, I know that you might be stressed, since you’re in between jobs, houses, and you just attended your boyfriend’s funeral, but we wanted to make sure that you had this before you left.” Mr. Logan handed her daughter an ivory studded ring. “This was given to me by my own mother. She wanted me to have it because it was good luck for her when she moved to Wisconsin from Oklahoma. I want you to have it, because you’re moving from Illinois, and I want you to keep carrying on that legacy of making a new place your new home.” She smiled at her. “Thanks, mom.” The two hugged. “I love you, sweetheart. Please take care, and let me know when you arrive at your new apartment, okay?”

“Dakota, you’re my only daughter, and I have to tell you now while we can still talk in person, that I am so proud of you.” Mr. Logan looked at the brunette. It was his turn to give her a speech. “Your mother and I, we both love you a lot. You mean the world to both of us, and we are so happy that you are taking risks and trying something new.” He started. The brunette was unsure of where he was going with this. “Don’t worry about money, okay? Financially, we can support you while you are still starting out as a photographer. But I’m sure you’ll be in high demand! You won your first photography contest with out the gate.” He smiled as he joined in on hugging his daughter with his wife.

Hearing their warm words touched Dakota. She was already grateful to have two parents who are living proof that taking risks and putting yourself out there is okay, but knowing that they support her decision, even when most rational parents would probably yell at her, not support her, and say something of the effect of “you made your bed, now sleep in it.” But that’s what made Dakota love her parents beyond everything else. No matter what she was doing for a living, the two of them were more than happy to support her. They knew that while money was important, being happy while making money was optimal.

Dakota did question if becoming a photographer was a viable option, but she was not terribly worried. Which was a surprising change for once. She expected herself to be stressed out by the idea, but her own love for doing this outweighed every other fear she could possibly have. It was a great feeling to know that she had her parents as a safety net, absolutely. But that was not why she was so relaxed. It was more along the lines of her being happy with what she was going to be doing. That part, plus being able to move to a new city, it was exciting. She knew that with these opportunities, she can continue to grow as a human being. And with that growth, she can continue to reconnect with that “Fierce Nerd” that she knew she was deep down.

Environment: realization 30

I’m not referring to anything relate to global warming or going green. I’m a Buddhist, not a hippie. That being said, I’m talking about the environment in the same context of Lewin’s Equation, where behavior is the function of an individual and the environment. It basically means that you can control your own behavior, but you cannot control the behavior of the environment around you; in short, there’s no guarantee that you can change the environment. There’s two options in this case: run away or change your outlook. Running away, I think it’s the easier option. It’s also the one that hurts you more in the long run. When you leave something behind, unresolved, you leave extra burdens in your heart, unfinished chapters in your life, and it will come back to haunt you. But when you learn to adapt to the environment, you might be able to enjoy it more.

I’m not saying that running away or giving up on your current environment is something frowned upon. Sometimes, you only have that option; you’ve attempted to adapt, and you failed repeatedly. In those cases, you only can leave and cut your losses. The environment you surround yourself in, it will affect your psyche. For example, I used to be an introvert when I had a person who constantly frustrated me; because of how routinely my energy was being wasted on those one or two individuals, I found myself needing time alone to recharge. But once I cut those people out of my life, I found myself becoming an extrovert. It was because my environment, specifically the people and places I had in my daily routine, changed that I found myself changing as well to adapt.

Adaptability is a completely different topic, but I think it’s worth discussing here, even though I mentioned it in my previous post about panicking. Specifically the pace and methods we use in face of changes in our environment. If you can thrive in an environment where it is high-pressure, high-demand, and intense, then that’s a good environment to stay in. If you cannot, then get the hell out of there if you cannot even swim in there. Do not let yourself stay in an environment where you feel like you are drowning in doubt and fear. Your environment helps you grow as a person, so find the right environment for you.

For me, I am learning that I prefer company who are open-minded, ambitious in their careers, but prefer a routine or a schedule. That creates a sort of environment where I myself can be career-oriented, have norms that do not surprise me, but I can be as weird or awkward as I want and not feel like I am being judged. It helps me feel a need to advance my own career, while I can spend time with the people I love on a constant basis, but ultimately, I can love myself for who I am or become a person who I can love continuously and constantly. Obviously, each person has a different environment that is ideal for them. Some people would rather not have the pressure of finding a career. Others may not love themselves and would rather be surrounded by people who they want to be like. It is ultimately up to the individual what they want. The environment that is suitable changes constantly, to match our personalities, goals, and interests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus: dream 23

“Learn to focus, and you will get better.”

That was the advice a Michelin starred chef I worked under once told me. Being sidetracked can happen to all of us. I still think about my cooking class, where one of my teammates was so distracted by boys that she proceeded to burn herself and make black pesto in an hour (two separate incidents, with the burn happening in a latter lesson, just to clarify). She was not focused….at all. Which is why she did not wear oven mitts when I asked her to remove my oatmeal cookies (once she burned herself, she left the cookies in the oven and got passive aggressive with me for asking her to open the oven) or she spent an hour picking basil leaves and then presenting me with something I originally thought was tapenade before tasting it. Yeah. Sometimes, I just feel like people are really dumb. But it’s not that they are actually dumb. It’s that their minds are preoccupied with something else.

For me in my Michelin starred internship, I was too busy being star-struck (pun literally intended) because the chef I was working for, they were a Top Chef contestant. I will not disclose who. But I will say that chef, I am so sorry for how bad of an intern I was. I have since then improved, and if you are looking for a pastry intern, I can definitely deliver on that station 1000% better than I could as a garde manger. Bottom line, I was too busy freaking out about the fact that they were this big name chef that my head was not on straight. I would be off in lala-land, being so excited about working for them that I could not deliver on what I was there to do: cook. My knife cuts were crap, as the sous-chef pointed out, I would take a lot longer to do tasks, I basically got into a wrestling match with the oven, mostly because I could not open it. The list of mistakes, it was very long. And it got to me.

Each mis-step took me further and further away from being confident and trying to nail my tasks. Instead, I got more depressed and these thoughts about me being useless and that I am better off somewhere else because the bar was set too high for me really got to me. I wanted a way out. Eventually, I quit because I felt like I was being too much of a burden and not enough of a help. Wow. I just started to realize a pattern here with me and my self-esteem. Doubt builds when I don’t feel valued or know that I am doing as good as I should be, that leads to anxiety and depression, and then I try to remove myself from the equation. Okay, that’s going to be a realization post soon enough. Bottom line is that had I focused on doing the job and learning how to do it right, and not fret about how I was making mistakes, something perfectly acceptable as a beginner who was starting out at their first fine-dining establishment, then I’m positive that I would have done fine. But all it took was me not having focus for me to completely melt down and break apart.

To focus on something means to clear your mind of everything that does not directly pertain to the subject in mind. The easiest way to do something like that is to make the situation less about your problems and more about getting the job done. I know I talk a lot about making life all about you, but that’s for your personal life. When it comes to your professional life, you need to look at what it is that you are doing, and how it helps the company or organization you are working for. Rather than thinking that a task is beneath you, or that you have better things to be doing, just focus on doing the damn job, doing it well, and then if you really dislike what it is that you’re doing, then quit and find something more compatible. Ideally, you should be allowed to work a job you are passionate about, and if you are passionate about work, then you will be able to focus on work and nothing else; your work will be in a way, an escape from whatever responsibilities you have to think about.

Motivation: realization 16

Having a strong work ethic is something I have always prided myself on. Just knowing that people are counting on me to get the job done, it makes me feel that much more inspired to work harder. Being motivated is one of those things that you need for every person working with, above, or beneath you to have if you want a successful organization. I still recall from both organizational behavior and leadership on how you are supposed to motivate people. Aligning values: making sure that the people you are working with have the same values as you. People are more inclined to work harder if they are passionate about the cause they are working for. Showing respect: it doesn’t matter if they are your custodian or your CEO, respect them and show them how grateful you are for their contributions. Those two points were how as an editor-in-chief, I was able to get my entire team to work as a single, functional, and cohesive unit.

If you are a leader trying to motivate your subordinates, it’s pretty easy. Set a good example, make sure you clarify and communicate your values for the organization, and so long as you show appreciation and respect for their efforts, or should they come up short, give them a very uplifting form a criticism, then they will generally respond well. An example of an uplifting form of criticism would be to say “I believe you are capable of so much more, and we would love to see that!” rather than “You are lazy and clearly don’t want to do your work.” The former just makes people feel recognized and appreciated, and it’ll make them feel that much more inclined to work harder. Being encouraging and uplifting are my secrets to keeping people motivated. Just letting them know that you acknowledge and appreciate their contributions and efforts, it’ll make that much of a difference.

When you are not a leader and trying to motivate, that can be a lot harder. I previously mentioned how I used to be a secretary of a cultural organization, and how I wanted to quit. It was because I tried to motivate my board, but because I was not a president or advisor, nobody would take me seriously until it was too late and the club tanked. My advice would be, in this sort of position, to approach everyone like they are equals, with the exception of your superiors, and with your superiors, just try to say things in a very respectful but still encouraging way. It is a lot harder to motivate when you are not the leader, because as a leader, you can change the culture of a group or organization, but as a follower, you have much less pull. But so long as you are polite but still insistent in your delivery, that’s really the most you can do as a follower. Obviously, if the need for a new leader comes up, then you can step in, but if you really do feel strongly against the level of motivation in your organization, then it might be better to find another cause where the culture better suites your personality.

As stated in Lewin’s equation, behavior is a function of the individual and environment. You, as a leader, can change the environment, but you unfortunately cannot change the individuals within it. It would be up to them on whether or not they are motivated enough to adapt to the new standard or if they would be better off going elsewhere. Motivation is something all organizations need to function. Without it, people just slack off, and everything just falls to the wayside. It happens in businesses, organizations, clubs, and I’ve experienced the lack of motivation in a lot of cases. Use encouragement, respect, and generally, that’s all you need to get people motivated. When those around you are motivated, it takes the pressure of you to be the sole provider in any setting. When you all work together as a strong unit, then there’s no more real stress. Work becomes enjoyable. And enjoyable work is necessary for a feather-light life.

An ideal life: dream 3

When I think about what I am working for, it’s to help reassure me that what I am currently doing is the right thing. For me, a perfect life down the line would include being happily married by the age of 30, living in Japan and owning my bakery, while my spouse would also be doing some sort of non-hospitality job in Japan as well. For kids, maybe before I’m 35, because I don’t want to be so old that my children cannot relate to me at all. I would like at most two kids, since we as parents would also be preoccupied with our respective careers.

In my bakery, I’d be preparing mostly modern desserts. Think Reynold Poernomo’s concept in Sydney, Australia, Koi Dessert Bar. Actually, Reynold is somebody I aspire to be one day, and it’s not just because we are the same age. The desserts he creates, they take you away to a magical land, far far away from all your troubles. That’s what I try to do with my desserts as well. For the kinds of desserts, I’m probably going to do French-Japanese, because it’s something I love to do.

With my kids, I plan on raising them when I’m not working. I’ll probably go into the bakery early in the morning, just to get the operations started, and as my bakers come into the kitchen, hand tasks off to them to finish. Hopefully, I’ll be done early enough to pick up my kids from school and take them home. I’d expect my spouse to come back home maybe a little later, since most jobs are 9-5 outside of the hospitality industry, and then I can leave the house, come back to the bakery, and close shop. After closing, come back home, eat dinner with my family, and then go to sleep and start the day over.

For me, having a family to take care of makes me happy, because I am a naturally caring and nurturing person. The bakery side will keep me preoccupied with both my love of baking and storytelling, but also presenting me with challenges that will help me continue to grow as a person. Just thinking about being able to live that life, I want to work hard, just to make the steps towards achieving it feel more like leaps and sprints.

That sort of routine is enough to make me happy for the rest of my life. I have family, I’d have my own business, and most importantly, I’m doing something that I genuinely love. For anyone out there reading this, just know that with life, doing what you love makes doing the obligations you have now, such as school or jobs you don’t like, all the more worthwhile.

What I want to do: dream 1

I think it’s important to establish your goals in life, just something to aspire towards. For me, I hope to become an accounting manager or director of finance in a hotel (mostly because of the money) and then move to Japan and open up my own bakery. The reason for the bakery is because I love making desserts, and with food, sugar and chocolate are the best story-telling mediums out there. You can make basically any tangible object out of either of them.

But let’s break it down even further with the “Why? Game.” It’s a little trick where you ask “why” and respond to that five times. Why accounting? Because I need money. Why do you need money? Because I want to be financially stable to open my own business. Why do I want to open my own business? Because I want to be working for myself for a change. Why do I want to eventually work for myself? Because I like being able to be in charge of my own vision. Why do I need to be in charge? Because I would like to share what it is that I believe in, without needing the adulteration of business partners or other people.

Now I could break down why Japan and owning a bakery there, but that’ll just take too long. You get the idea. By breaking down what it is that I want to do with all of these questions, you are left with the purest reason as to why I am doing the things I am doing. I want to open up my own bakery and it must be my own, because I do not want to keep working for somebody else, and make their visions come true for the rest of my life. I need to be able to do something that will be true to me. I need to let my voice and my stories be expressed, either in words or pastries.

For my pastry experience, I have been baking for about 6 years (I started in 2010). It started with vegan cakes. I was raised by an organic-forward, lactose-intolerant, Buddhist mother who banned all things butter and sugar from our pantry. I love you, Mom, if you are somehow reading this and you realize that this is me. But anyways, I only could cook vegan because of that. And then I managed to sneak butter and heavy cream into our pantry, and then we got the ball rolling. Even though we didn’t have whisks, I managed to make due with what we had, and I made meringues using my strainer. When it came down to it, I was able to bake despite the obstacles presented before me, and it just showed that my determination to make desserts with next to no real equipment or ingredients.

While baking is one of my loves, I needed to have an umbrella passion that covers everything. Like I said, desserts are one of the best ways for me to tell my stories. While my writing skills are basically lukewarm one a good day, I know my love and understanding of pastry makes me capable of properly expressing my story and my journey from an immigrant child to an adult. Desserts just make me smile.