This is my extremely belated New Year’s message (or a really early Lunar New Year’s greeting) that I’ve written every year since I’ve been using the Internet, which was some time last century. If you received an email from me directing you to this message, it is because you participated in my life in a unique way in the past year, and I’m grateful for that. I usually do a recap of what happened, pick a yearly topic of dicussion (which in past years focused on psychiatry as a common thread, unintentionally), and make a couple of resolutions.
As is customary at this point of the letter, I’m going to rattle off a few statistics for the past year:
Emails received: 488.9 megabytes
Miles flown: 45,720 miles
Miles driven in rental cars: 1,848 miles
Ruben sandwiches purchased for self or others: about 30 (For non-New Yorkers, it’s a thin sliced corned beef, sauerkraut and swiss cheese sandwich on rye bread seasoned with mustard or russian dressing, buttered on the outside and then fried on a deli grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown. Yum!)
This year’s travels included
– San Francisco to view the SF Asian International Film Festival, try to find real Hakka Chinese food and run into blogger Min Jung
– San Diego to visit the gravesite of my Grand Aunt Bea, Orange County to visit Bichvan and Mark, a run to Baja California to deliver a birthday present for my boss’s son and have fried Ensenada pacific lobsters
– Seattle to attend a conference for tech people who work at law schools (you’d never think that they would be that many people), see the grand opening of the Science Fiction Museum, then drive to Vancouver for Chinese food
– Seoul to have a sauna and visit a palace, Singapore for pepper crab, and Ipoh, Malaysia to attend YC’s wedding
– Philadelphia for cheese steak sandwiches and Manet
– Dallas to attend another conference for Asian American lawyers, judge a moot court competition, and buy some students cowboy boots (Lucchese’s are the best)
– Toronto to visit my uncle on his 70th birthday, attend a conference about Hakka and Carribean Chinese people, and ring in the new year with 300 Caribbean Chinese
As you can see, I enjoy traveling. I do it to discover the world, and to see for myself why things are the way they are. I remember being on a study abroad course in Hong Kong as a law student, and in a question and answer period, I was unable to counter the premise of a panelist, because I lacked worldly experience. I’m trying to make up for it now. The frequent flyer miles don’t hurt, either.
As for the job, I was promoted in the middle of the summer to director of administrative computing, which is the number two job in my department. This meant that I had to give up the kinds of things that I was accustomed to dealing with students, but also meant that I am able to grow in my career. I manage a cadre of computer staffers, with a wide range of personalities, which I enjoy and sometimes agonize about. Apparently, I am the youngest person to ever reach the rank of director, and I am younger than half my staff, which sometimes becomes a problem, but I try hard to earn their respect. It’s been a big change from being the webmaster so long ago as a student a decade ago.
As for the rest of my family, the most traumatic experience has been my father’s chronic diabetes. He spent a month at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital recovering from gangrene that required amputation; there were some points that were really touch-and-go, but he’s really tough. He’s got to stop doing this though, because he’s probably on the sixth of nine lives. He’s been recovering at home, undergoing physical training, being fitted for a prosthetic limb and just generally trying to put a good face on an otherwise lousy situation. I admire him a lot.
The one steady thing in my turbulent, transient life is my girlfriend, who is known on this blog as “P–“. We’ve been together for over a year now, and we really do complement each other in ways that I could not even imagine before. Yes, it can be sappy sometimes when we speak in stereo, but I think that’s endearing. She actually doesn’t think I’m crazy for racking up so many miles, although I’ve only recently convinced her of the value of an airline elite member card. I am so lucky and I treasure her so much.
The topic of discussion this year is “dissociative fugue”, which the New York Times describes as a psychiatric condition characterized by “sudden unexpected travel away from home or one’s customary place of daily activities” in order to escape a severely stressful situation. Maybe this is just escapism. There are a number of people that are close to me that are engaging in it or thinking about it. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that I had it myself. As a Hakka Chinese, we’re supposed to be professionals at this.
The NYT article doesn’t mention the other half of the condition according to the Merck Manual: amnesia of either one’s past life or of the trip once they return. I think that for many of those people, leaving their stressful situation is probably the healthiest thing for them. But, please, please don’t forget. You should always know where you have been.
As for resolutions, last year’s was to try to keep in touch with people (mostly successful through trips and occasional emails for those who have signed up with Plaxo) and trying to clean up my apartment of clutter (somewhat successful in terms of putting things into file boxes, but my girlfriend will be helping me more this year). As for this year, I’m going to try to find ways to simplify my life and recapture the innocence of childhood. This will culumate in my “baby tour”, which will consist of visiting friends and relatives who are having babies this year. So far, the list includes Trinidad, Orange County, and Taiwan. Let me know when the christening or the “one month” party will be, and we’ll see what I can book.
Finally, I want to thank SSW, who has been a real trooper blogging and contributing here when I haven’t, and YC who chimes in from his extended honeymoon in Taiwan. I invite you to continue reading Triscribe, and if you are have the knack or inclination, to write. Sign up by following the “Register” link on the right side of the page. Once you are registered, I will work on giving you writing privileges. Pictures of my travels are at https://www.triscribe.com/gallery, if you would like to check them out, and you can order prints through the automatic Gallery system (I don’t make any money from your using that system). Thanks for being a part of my life this year.