It was two years ago on July 26th that I arrived in California to work for Yahoo! Last year, I wrote a post describing what had happened in my life during that first year. Truth be told, I didn't know if I would actually stay out here after a year. Being so far from my family and friends was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I held onto my condo in Massachusetts as a security blanket, knowing that I could change my mind at any time and head to my life as I formerly knew it was comforting. But I decided to stay and continue on into another year.
I definitely didn't play enough in the past year. There were major stresses related to my home life, my condo in Massachusetts, and my health. At times I felt like I had lost my smile. The one exception was getting closer with my friends, Shelby and Courtland. You guys rock in so many ways that I can't even begin to describe. Oh wait, yes I can: Hawaii.
Hawaii was my first real vacation in years. I'm not just talking going away, I'm talking leaving the computer, watch, and cell phone behind. I'm talking sleeping when I felt tired, eating when I was hungry, and the toughest decision I had to make was to hang by the pool or go to the beach. All made better by sharing the experience with Shelby, Courtland, and a few others. The only crappy part was that it was so short (four days). Viva Hawaii!
This year didn't see much in the way of dating. As it turns out, having your heart ripped out makes one a little gun shy when it comes to the fairer sex. I was definitely pickier after that, picking my spots much more deliberately in the hopes of avoiding more such pain. The result was a year of very few dates and certainly none to write home about. In lieu of having a love life of my own, I found myself giving more relationship advice than ever before. Apparently, I'm the go-to guy for everything from how to pick up a girl to interpreting signals to picking out gifts. Whatever I can do to help.
I've now moved into a townhouse, my third home in four years. Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate moving and how poorly I deal with major life transitions. If anyone had told me ten years ago that I would move three times in four years, I would have laughed them out of the conversation. For a guy who didn't even live away at college, this has been quite the lifestyle shift. All of a sudden, I see things not as how much I like them, but as how difficult it will be to move them. My love for large furniture has certainly been cooled through the experience.
I've also written more in the past year than ever before. If I wasn't writing a book, I was writing a blog post (for myself, for YUI, for others). I've written as therapy, I've written for work, I've written letters to people...just a lot of writing all around. It seems like something is trying to be expressed through me all the time and I need to get it out of my head and onto paper (or computer) to free it. Yeah, kind of esoteric, but I'm sure you're used that from me.
I think this past year will undoubtedly go down as one of my most productive years ever and possibly one of the least fun (except for Hawaii!). Now, the goal is to take my foot off the pedal and relax a bit. Once my writing is done, and once my latest round of condo issues are resolved, I'm ready to settle into a life with more socialization and less around-the-clock responsibilities. Yes, I think year number three will be a big one for me, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
It seems like all the craziness over iPhone applications has finally hit and everyone who's anyone is hacking together some little app to run on the platform. As with shareware in general, most of the applications are crap. However, my buddy Courtland threw together a really slick app called Drinks
iDrink contains a database of over 4,500 cocktail recipes that can be searched, rearranged, and rated. You can search for drinks by their names or ingredients, plus you can add your own recipes easily. Not sure what you're in the mood for? iDrink has a random mode that will pick something for you. If you like your cocktails, I'd recommend giving it a try (or even a buy, it's only $4.99).
I'm often accused of thinking differently than other people. It's quite common for me to hear people say, "hmmm...I hadn't thought about it that way." Actually, I take great pride in getting people to think about things in a way that they may never have considered; it's what makes life fun. I take nothing as an absolute and consider several areas of gray whenever possible. But I wasn't always like this. At one point, my life was just white or black, on or off, true or false, good or evil.
As far as I can remember, there was one moment that broke me out of binary existence. It occurred in 1992 while I was still taking karate (shaolin kempo, to be precise). I was a brown belt at the time and a tournament was coming up that would have representation from a bunch of schools. Now, I was never very good at tournament fighting, and anyone who's practiced martial arts knows that there's a huge difference between tournament fighting and street fighting. But I was encouraged to give it a shot. Sure, why not?
There were five people in my division at the tournament. My singular goal was not to come in last place. It shouldn't be too hard, I only needed to beat one person to avoid being fifth place. Except that it was hard. I got beaten and ended up in last place. Dammit.
The interesting thing was that they were placing four people from each division at this tournament. That means a plaque was awarded to places 1 through 4 with everyone else going home with nothing. That meant I would have been the only one in the division to go home without a plaque. One astute official realized this and found an extra plaque, took a sticker and wrote on it, "5th Place." He promised that he'd talk to the other officials and get an engraved plate sent to my school so the plaque would look official.
I returned to my school the next week to find that the official had kept his promise. My instructor Paul handed me the plate and said, "congratulations on earning fifth place."
"Congratulations?" I shot back in my typical sarcastic tone, "I came in fifth place out of five. I could have stood there, just let him kick my ass, and I still would've gotten fifth place. I don't deserve congratulations."
"I think you do," Paul said with a smile beginning to appear on his face, "you see, you're looking at it as coming in fifth out of the five people at the tournament...I'm looking at it as coming in fifth out of the five people at the tournament and the hundred other students I have who didn't even try."
I was blown away. From that moment on, I began inspecting things in a different way. The martial arts gave me a lot growing up: confidence, strength, knowledge. But perhaps the best lesson I learned was how to think outside the box and see what other people were missing.