April comes like an idiot

It’s officially spring in Seattle. I can declare this because the tulips are blooming, and we’ve had a streak of three, yes, count them, three whole days of sunshine. My friends are even getting sunburnt, stumbling around my apartment, grinning ear to ear, happily drunk on wine and overexposure to Vitamin D.

“What are some poems and songs about spring?” I asked myself. (And by “myself” I mean Google.) In my hunt, I found this poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay really funny.

Spring

To what purpose, April, do you return again?

Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.

I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.

It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.

Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.

It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

P.S. I’m happy to return to Edna St. Vincent Millay again. This was almost my mantra in college as I ran around trying to do too many things on too little sleep.

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light.

AIDS, Writing, Loss, and Geography of The Heart

I know nothing about AIDS.

I grew up in a time when AIDS, or SIDA as it’s known outside of North America, was just discovered, and since not much was known about it, much was speculated, and feared. A quick Wikipedia read and I learned that “AIDS was first recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1981.” The recognition of this disease is exactly as old as I am.

I don’t remember much from my formal education about AIDS, other than that you can’t get it if you don’t have sex with someone who’s HIV-positive. Okay. Got it. Check. Plus, I am not a homosexual man. So I went on living in ignorance of how this virus affects my fellow human beings.

A few days ago, this segment on NPR caught my attention: Love Isn’t All You Need: 3 Relationship Building Reads (they might as well have called it, Nikki Chau Sucker Alert).

Of the three books recommended, Fenton Johnson’s book, Geography Of The Heart, a Memoir, seemed most like a weekend read. Plus, the author practices at the San Francisco Zen Center, and his lover (Larry) is a Francophile? Count me in.

As luck (or some version thereof) would have it, I’ve been sick all day today, shriveling with a bone-chilling cold and a burning sore throat, so it was good timing to be lying around with this book and finishing it.

Here are a few quotes from the book that spoke to me, emphasis is mine.

When Fenton told Larry that his greatest fear is that he will die and leave him infected and alone:

“One measure of love is the ability to speak aloud the unspeakable, secure in the knowledge of the bedrock on which you rest.

To speak with such frankness of the terrors of the heart–to talk so openly of the demons within, with no fear on either side of rejection–honesty of this completeness is the privilege of true lovers.” – Page 92

A student talking about learning to write at Larry’s funeral:

“He took us out to Telegraph Avenue and made us write about what we saw until we thought it was good enough to convince somebody who’d never been there what it looked like and what we thought of it.

It was the first time in my life I really understood what writing was about–trying to get something real across to another faraway person through this incredibly abstract medium.” – Page 209

When Fenton finally confronted the silence in his family about AIDS at 3AM in their Kentucky home before his morning flight back to San Francisco:

“I’m filled with bitterness and rage that no one will acknowledge that Larry was my lover and that he died of AIDS, and I’m here to give the first annual AIDS prevention speech.” – Page 216

Fenton contemplating on our own insulated myth that we might live forever (if we are HIV-negative):

“It’s just that HIV, with its extended incubation period, its prolonged illnesses, its often horrifying complications, its impact on close-knit neighborhoods and communities, is forcing gay men of my generation to acknowledge what our life– and youth-obssessed society prefers to deny.” Page 232

Fenton’s mom, telling him she understands that love is not gender-dependent:

“And then you told me you were gay, and I guess I’d suspected it all along, and I just prayed that you’d stay healthy and find yourself a place where you could be happy.

I prayed for all that and I was glad to see you get yourself to San Francisco, to a place where you could live in peace and be yourself.

I was happy about that, but it wasn’t until I met you and Larry and spent time with the two of you together that I understood that two men could love each other in the same way as a man and a woman.” – Page 234.

Fenton, on love and death

“I love better now, more wholly and completely, not because I have learned some exotic technique but because I know death.” Page 235.

Today, I gained a new perspective. A friend told me I should join her in the AIDS walk in San Francisco this summer. “You walk *all* night?”, I had asked. The resulting sleep-deprivation didn’t sound appealing to me in the least, but now it feels like it’s not about me and sleeping.

Also, Seattle, here is a list of restaurants who will be donating to Dine out for Life on April 26.

Signal and Noise and Apple Subscription Plan

There’ve been a plethora of reaction and analysis of the Apple subscription plan, from pros and cons to anywhere along that spectrum.

I don’t know enough—or as much as the tech pundits do—to dissect, slice, dice, julienne, and fry all the possible implications. I am for sure worried about the common concerns, like not being able to read all the Kindle books I’ve bought, or not being able to stream Netflix on my iPad or iPhone.

Until that happens, I’ve taken the sideline to see how things unfold as the tech world scrambles over itself.

I do have one curiosity, though, about how this affects “the average user”. As much as I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of an average user, I have a hunch I’m not one, or at least in Apple’s eye. One night, I captured a picture of my parents sitting on the couch, my mom playing on her iPhone, and my dad browsing for news on an iPad, and it dawned on me that they might be considered more “average” than me.

My mom and dad on their iPhone and iPad

After all, they’re not going to jailbreak and root anything. They’re not going to try to run Android as a dual boot. They just need to be able to turn their devices on and off, and send a picture, a message, or read the news. While I am trying to squeeze all the features out of my devices, demanding and constantly asking “What more can you do for me?”, I don’t think it’s the same for my parents. They don’t think of their devices as something to hack and do surgery on.

What do these devices mean for an average user? Specifically, how do they read news and magazines? Curious about this, I went to the App Store and looked up what I consider the quintessential average user—busy moms and busy women who still want to stay current with all the trends, tips and tricks for that much promised Best Life—Oprah fans.

Here are some comments about the Oprah Magazine app for February 2011:

“I have subscribed to O Magazine since the beginning 10 years ago. I love this new app! I have the January and February issue on my IPad. I have one suggestion. Make the app a subscription price instead of $3.99 per issue. I now trying to decide to cancel my magazine subscription or download monthly to my iPad.”

“Give us an annual subscription price and I’d gladly sign up and go green. A reluctant 4 stars for a 5 star app.”

“It could be 5 stars if new issues was [sic] and “in-app” purchase rather than purchase one app every month. “

“Please please please make make this a subscription and load it into one app.”

What I see here is a clear desire to have  content from a trusted source in the easiest way possible: one app, one subscription. As I mentioned, I have no idea how this will pan out, and for the sakes of all my Kindle books, I hope Gruber’s right: “You’ll seldom go wrong betting on Apple doing something that’s good for Apple and good for its users — no matter what the ramifications for everyone else.”

Hello world!

Perhaps not so different from the fickle life of a twentysomething, moving often and much, running around exploring, and eventually settling down somewhere, after multiple blogs, here, and here, and here. I’m ready to put some roots down here (I think).

The plan for this blog is to write about one of my favorite topics: twentysomethingism. (The *other* favorite topic of yoga and meditation will continued to be blogged at Yoga with Nikki Chau.) In addition, I’ll write about entrepreneurship, web, graphic, and user experience design, books, music, movies, marketing, technology and something really important: relationships.

I’ll continue to upload pictures to my Flickr and my picture blog (which I know has been sorely neglected.) I’ve got a brand spankin’ new Flip HD camcorder for my birthday (after I dropped these really subtle hints to my bf, like “It would be sooo awesome to have a Flip camcorder”, and “Wow, I could make really cool yoga videos with one of those cool Flip camcorders”). So, expect vblogs (vlogs?) as well as LOLcats. (This reminds me of my friend Andy’s tweet: “Amen. RT @drewtoothpaste: Webisode, webinar, welebrity, vlog, tweep: The english language sentenced to death by a thousand cuts.”)

I kept the “Hello World!” WordPress default title for this post because it takes me back to my very first exercise in Intro to Programming. I wrote it in C. It was a short and brief shining moment when hit the “Compile” button, and then “Run”, and then, “Hello World!” was written across the screen. I still remember the joy of having made something from nothing, of being able to create and communicate.

And so, this blog is just that, a “hello world”, a communication line. I’m not sure who will come by and actually read yet “just another WordPress.com weblog”, but you know, I’m not sure that that matters much to me at this moment. When I go back to my first blog, the pre-livejournal blog, the one that I wrote during my year of living in Europe in pure HTML because no blogging software had existed yet, I find myself laughing, and crying, and laughing again.

Most of all, I’m glad that there’s something that helps me answer: “What is it that I cared about when I was 17? 27?”, “What was I willing to share publicly with strangers?”, “Why did I stay up all night writing that?”. Just like those seemingly inconsequential and silly tweets and Facebook statuses, sometimes they reveal much more about ourselves in the long run than we really think (or want to).

Well, here I go. But first, I got lots of fixin’ to do around here. CSS gods, please be kind as I rearrange the furniture.

Just unpackin' my moving boxes!

Just unpackin' my moving boxes!