That was the first Meetup event I chose to attend. Around twenty people gathered at a Friday night, regardless of the chilly SoCal breeze in late autumn, in front of the Panera at the District. Tustin is close by everywhere, and there are more office places around. I guess this is why Dev picked the District at the first place.
We were sitting by the table, near the open air fire place, playing Teletranslation. The man sat next to me just moved from Boston.
“Why here?” I asked him.
“Cuz I had a very unpleasant memory back there, and I cannot bear living in Boston any more.” he mumbled.
“A break-up?” I guessed.
“Sort of. A separation.” he looked absentminded.
When Fone and Joshua came to Beijing for a business trip, we were strolling down Chang’an St. The two boys wrapped in their leather jackets joked that no one would even think about messing with me since they are around.
“Where the hell do your partners get a clue of you guys working on private equity?” I tried reaching my hands to the deepest corner of my coat pockets for it’s still winter in February in Beijing.
“Well, we wear suits when we don’t wear jackets.” he winked, “and we build emotional connections instead of throwing out business to our clients. So what’s your favorite city?”
“Oh, I was born in Chicago but my parents moved when I was 4, so I only have a blur impression of the fierce winter. So, who’s at Chicago?”
“What?” I must looked shocked, “well, I could see why people would rather have Men in Black to do business with. So why?”
“Because I ask this question all the time, most of the time there is an explanation following with the answer. In rare cases, there is none. It only happens when the reason is someone rather than somewhere.” he raised the left corner of his mouth with a proud and triumphant smile. I suddenly remembered that board game night in Tustin. I used to do my rental car renewal at the Enterprise on Auto Center Dr., but never a fan of hanging around that region.
Dev’s girlfriend was majored in psychology, she told me she is working on a novel, and it’s about a mysterious man unexpectedly appears at the heroin’s front door, covered with blood and delivered a shocking information-he is her brother.
“So how’s the writing going?” I tried my best to draw a fire plug meanwhile.
“It is going well, slowly though.” she smiled.
“Then where are you now?” I didn’t mean to be pushy but the question just came out of curiosity.
“Well, I’m still on Chapter 1. You know when you write, and after a while you read it thoroughly and all you want is to redo everything?”
We got to switch our drawing board before I could come up with an answer.
I learnt about S in a memo he wrote on himself. He said that he plays board games with his family and friends on weekends. It started to get warmer in Chicago at that time. I had never thought about getting my driver’s license nor did I wonder how much street parking used to cost in downtown back in the 90’s.
His words remind me of my childhood, very very long time ago, I used to play board game with my parents and friends too. We used to spend the whole afternoon playing all kinds of chess and Monopoly. Then finally my companion would stand up and say she had to cook or he has to go back for dinner, and we’d say “see you next week” as the most natural thing in this world. There used to be next weeks, many of them. However not until we’ve apart, did I start to learn that S is a Master of board game, literally. He got a Bachelor’s degree in computer science with his capstone project on board game designing.
When he was in college, the least thing he care about is his classes. S and his best friend Bree used to skip a whole day class playing Counter-Strike in their dorm. They somehow held a firm but blind believe that their professor would never find out their absence in a 50 sophomore’s lecture class. But of course he found out, becaus Bree, too different from S, always acts quite actively in their class. So every time he’s not there, the classroom was captured by an embarrassing silence. People expect him to answer the question or at least throw out a joke, later on even the professor kind of anticipates the same. However, on days when him and S sitting in their dorm violently shooting at each other, no one take the savior role in their classroom.
S used to complain about this.
“Would you mind to be quieter next semester on our core course? Or I will likely get another B just for not physically being in the classroom.”
“Sounds like you are spiritually there.” Bree mocked.
“Well, I am. How do you prove I’m not spiritually there?”
“You should shut up right here.” Bree stopped typing on his MSN, turning towards his best friend.
“Want to do something crazy?” S lays in his bed, stretching and let out a big yawn.
“Want to go and get a girl?” Bree turned back to his best friend, “seriously! Anyone!”
“I think we still got the overdue salami in our fridge. It’s been… how long?” S idled to the fridge.
“A month? Maybe two?” Bree sounds desperate.
“So, what we are going to do with this?” S inspired.
“When was the last time we played frisbee?”
“This is why I love you.” S smiled. The best thing about their friendship is that there is always a tacit understanding between them. S tends to be lazy on explaining himself, so anything save him from using more words on articulating naturally fell into the “nice” category for him. This mischievous action plan was the beginning of his way becoming the legend.
The structural tips from Austin:
1. Steal like an artist.
2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
3. Write the book you want to read.
4. Use your hands.
5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
6. Do good work and share it with people.
7. Geography is no longer our master-build a world; save sometime for self-imposed solitude and temporary captivity.
8. Be nice.-be with wonderful people and learn from them.
9. Be boring. (this is a very interesting point that I felt in my living experience too. The more regulated and orderly you live, the more creative you get in your work and thoughts ;))
10. Creativity is subtraction. [Green Eggs and Ham*]
“Don’t throw any of yourself away. Don’t worry about a grand scheme or unified vision for your work. Don’t worry about unity—what unifies your work is the fact that you made it. One day, you’ll look back and it will all make sense.”-p23
“There’s no pressure when you’re unknown. You can do what you want. Experiment. Do things just for the fun of it.”-p24
“Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.”-p34
“The way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself.”-p38
Pictures and drafts that haven’t been included but I feel like sharing here.
A children’s book written with only 50 different words.
I encounter this title in Austin Kleon’s book and cannot help taking a look at the content.
Here is the origin of this story from Austin’s book and a link to a sample of the book.
“Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat with only 236 different words, so his editor bet him he couldn’t write a book with only 50 different words. Dr. Seuss came back and won the bet with Green Eggs and Ham, one of the bestselling children’s books of all time.”
Well I like green eggs and ham. The title reminds me of the cloudy morning at Over Easy. When Jim first took me there, I never thought myself would be back to visit. So that day, two days after St.Patrick’s Day, I was driving up to Damen, did a street parking, walked in the small hommie place when the owner recommend me the spinach juice colored eggs and ham omelet on their spring menu.
It’s called “Dusk Dawn Club”, hidden in the deepest corner of Shanlao Hutong. I knew this because that’s where the car accident happened.
The second weekend after my trip from SD, I booked a jazz bar concert organized by InterNation. That was about to be my first music event with them, if the accident never happened.
Of course I drove in a Hutong before, once. Last time, I scratched the right side of the car, a minor paint peeling. But this time, things run wild and completely get out of control.
After missing the parking lot outside of South Scissors Hutong, the GPS redirects me into the deep and narrow labyrinth.
“You are gonna get us killed.” S joked.
“Did you just take both of your hands off the steering wheel?” S asked with his right eyebrow rising.
“You need to speed up.” S commented in the middle of me mumbling.
Fragments shattered through the passenger’s seat. By that time I still didn’t know in Finnish, they call it pelkääjän paikka – “the fearer’s seat”, and in Czech sedadlo smrti-“seat of the death”; by that time, he was sitting there and said those things.
When the cracking sound caught my attention, I didn’t make a stop or even slow down. I pulled the car over at the slightly opened fork, shockingly to find out it gets two flat tires and a flipping back bumper on the right side.
I texted to David “I cannot make it to the concert tonight. Just had an accident.”
“As long as no one gets hurt, you’ll have another chance for the concert.” he typed back kindly.
“What the hell are you doing here, lady?” some middle aged local guys emerged from the small restaurant along the ally.
“It is already getting dark and how could your parents let you go out like this alone?” a second question followed without leaving any space for an answer, “So why are you here?”
“I come for a concert.” I explained.
“What kind of concert would be held in a small hutong like this?” they asked.
“A small jazz concert.”
“Oh, I see, there is a small bar around the corner, in Shanlao Hutong.” one man said to another.
“So you got a flat tire?” the first one asked.
“She’s got two.” the second answered.
“Don’t worry, we’ll help you.” they gave me a number of local police office, and I called the roadside assistant and the insurance company.
“It happened a lot. Cars scratch the walls, bikes, another car, all the time.” they tried to comfort me, but I know that this is an accident.