minute thoughts 9.22.16

Thoughts while scouting out travel discounts on airline websites

1. My friend Sasha shared an article on Facebook a while ago, called 25 Ways To Accidentally Ruin Your Life By 25. It hit me pretty damn hard, especially the day before I was preparing to leave the country, when everything in my life was fundamentally unstable. But it gave me a lot of existential and directional insight, both of which I needed.

2. An oldie but a goodie (honestly just wanted an excuse to show these off because they came out so perfect and fluffy and pretty): I baked cupcakes for my friend's birthday last month with a recipe from Magnolia Bakery, New York's classic American confectionery shop, which is credited as one of the bakeries that started the "cupcake craze" of the early 2000s. I've made its "vanilla on vanilla" cupcake so many times that it may as well be my signature dessert, and over the years it's kind of become a tradition for me to make it for all of my friends' birthdays. I forgot how much I really love baking, especially with a fully-stocked kitchen. But since I don't really have access to that here, this will most likely be the last homemade thing on my blog for quite a while :(.

3. I think one of the best things living in Singapore has taught me so far is perspective. You get perspective from living anywhere else, of course, but since Singapore is so international, it's a lot less discovering-yourself-while-meditating-in-a-jungle, and more a daily revelation of how amazing cultural differences are, and how they interact and coexist. Singapore is often viewed by Westerners as somewhat austere because of its strict laws on things like chewing gum and its willingness to condone corporal punishment. But my boss said something interesting. He told me, "Americans and Singaporeans have very different ideas of freedom. Americans consider freedom being able to do whatever you want. Singaporeans consider freedom being able to walk alone at night without being afraid." There are definitely more laws here than back home, but as far as I can see, Singaporeans don't really need them as much. America has a big superiority complex, so it's refreshing to live somewhere with such different priorities and values.

4. Donald Trump always boasts about how well-educated he is, but I think it would be interesting to see him try to answer the same questions as Miss America pageant contestants, who he claims only achieved their status because of their appearance. A John Oliver segment (during which one girl actually gave an impressively articulate response to "what should be our country's response to ISIS") poked fun at this very sentiment, noting that "at this point in time the notion that beauty pageants are about anything other than outer beauty is belied both by the continued existence of the swimsuit portion and the fact that [they are] expected to answer this question in just 20 seconds." Since Trump clearly doesn't have anything going on for him, appearance-wise, I think it would be a good opportunity for him to prove that he can be a) concise and b) coherent, neither of which he has demonstrated during Republican debates.

5. On a (slightly more) serious note, my friend and I were discussing politics and he asserted that Trump is essentially a creation of the left. And while he and I don't agree on much, politics-wise (he's a Libertarian and I...am not a Libertarian), I think he's spot-on. Trump is merely a reaction to the upwelling of cultural liberalism in this country, which some people regard as a negative thing. He paints himself as some kind of savior, someone to give a voice to the ignored, and to people nostalgic for the past who have felt disregarded by the government, his ideas can sound pretty good (good, not necessarily reasonable). Conservative blog The Resurgent called Trump "the 'nothing matters but winning' yang to the Democrats' 'nothing matters but me' yin". And it's important to note that Trump supporters resemble the Brexit "leave" voter demographic, proving that a Trump presidency is a dangerously real possibility. And while it's easy to dismiss them, they are a significant portion of the country, and if/when Trump loses, they are going to be upset. A lot of Brexit voters were unaware of what they were voting for when they opted to leave the EU, and many Trump voters are the same way. They don't actually support all of these policies; they just want to be listened to, and they're willing to cause a stir and reject "traditional" politics to make that happen.

6. I met this awesome guy at my workplace named Malcolm, who's a British expat and our current CTO, and he was telling me about how he's lived all over the world—Europe, South America, Asia (he even started his own business in Hong Kong). He told that I should travel while I'm here, and I responded that I wanted to, but it was a matter of having time and money. And he said, "You can always make more money, but you can't make more time." And I've heard several variations of that, but never one so succinct. I sometimes forget that life is short, and that experience is always the most valuable thing. But that's why I'm here. That's why I try every food that's put in front of me. That's why I don't rush anywhere I'm going if I don't have to, and I try to take time to appreciate the scenery. So I booked my ticket to Taiwan for Christmas (see you soon Conrad ^_^), and I'm doing a Spartan Race in Indonesia in November! Other countries on my list: Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand again.

7. I have a lot of conflicted feelings about dealing with personal pain. I mostly like to be alone and in my own head, but I also need attention sometimes. I don't talk to many people about my personal problems, but the ones closest to me know that once I fixate on something, I have difficulty letting it go and will obsessively overanalyze it until I find some kind of closure. I almost never take people up on open invitations to discuss my feelings, but I also have an all-consuming need for articulation and clarity. I think that's partly why I write. It helps me make sense of a lot of things.

8. Ms. Moffett and I were talking about Tinder/online dating and its evolution into an actual method of socialization. It's actually amazing that it used to be this tool for the socially ill-equipped to facilitate human interaction, but is now much more common for well-adjusted, busy people to use in order to have a social life. Tinder, while still stigmatized, has become a legitimate way of meeting people to date or just befriend. And that makes me wonder if, despite all of the negative theories about millennials and hookup culture and the demise of traditional dating, that humans are naturally inclined to want that kind of connection. 

9. At some point I have to stop blaming my inability to sleep on jet lag and accept that I just have no self-control and/or an unusual amount of activity in my brain. And it's not even intelligent or productive activity, necessarily—sometimes it's just recalling what I ate that day, or considering the implications of animals other than primates developing opposable thumbs (can you imagine dolphins omg).

10. I feel such a rush of joy and a sense of satisfaction from updating my online profiles. Some people drink a glass of wine, some people take hot baths; I like to edit my blog pages and LinkedIn description. It's oddly soothing.