Catch Me Live

So, we’ve been in Taiwan ten days and I have not written a word about our trip. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing stuff for my public!

Thanks both to a challenge in a blogging group I’m part of, as well as great ideas and encouragement from my friend, Brittany Minor of Clumps of MascaraI have been trying out Facebook Live Videos.

(Seriously, Brittany is really amazing with her own videos – and she suggested all sorts of great topics to discuss, checkout, and asked so many great questions that I feel kinda guilty that she so generously helped me without asking for anything in return. All she got were some FB Live videos of questionable value.)

Now that I have done a few of them, I don’t know why I was so hesitant about doing them before. I think part of it was that it never occurred to me that people would want to see videos of me wandering about Taiwan. I mean, a city is a city, right? Just how interesting is a tour of 7-11?

Well, just because I personally am not interested in this stuff, I suppose doesn’t mean that other people wouldn’t be! And I also realized that I have been taking my trips to Taiwan for granted.

Most people do not get the chance to travel to Taiwan, let alone often enough for it to become familiar and not entirely intimidating. And even if they came, perhaps their language skills are nonexistent, not good enough or if they are, they still don’t necessarily know how things work.

Plus, all this knowledge that I now take for granted (eg: going on an MRT, shopping for stuff in a store, what to bring, how to shuttle kids around) – that is interesting and helpful to people! And folks, I am what we call a helpful person.

Also, I am somewhat of a narcissist.

So, because I’m a giver, I am collecting a bunch of my FB Live videos into this post, but if you are not following my personal FB page (sorry, I only friend folks I know In Real Life), you can still follow along at my Mandarin Mama Facebook Page.

Also also, because I’m never one to let a good suggestion go, please let me know if there is stuff you want to see or ask or watch a FB Live about. If I can swing it, I’ll do it. 😀

Anyhow, without further ado, here are most of my FB Lives up until today. (Holy cow, I did a lot!)

1) Traveling in Taiwan with Kids Q&A

2) Tours of Playspaces

Leo’s Playground

Fantasy Island Playspace Tour

3) Tours Around Town

Taking the MRT

Costco

Taiwanese Bus

7-11

Taking out the garbage

Wellcome Mart Tour

My Kids’ Favorite Escalator

Watsons Tour

PierMei Hair Accessory Store

Guang Hua2 Technology Mart

4) Restaurants

Modern Toilet

Costco Food Court Part 1

Costco Food Court Part 2

Yong3 He2 Dou4 Jiang Da4 Wang2 Taiwanese Breakfast

Taiwanese Department Store Food Court

Local Taiwanese Breakfast Place

Checking In on My Year of Risking Dangerously

I briefly mentioned it in Monday’s blog, but a college friend recently approached me to ask me about blogging. He wanted to know how to make money with the blog, increasing visibility and readership, how to make his blog better, and general advice (like writing) for his blog.

I had a really great time discussing the business side’s minutiae and dispensing advice.

Ok. I won’t lie.

I LOVE dispensing advice regardless of the topic. I am definitely my own favorite echo chamber.

But anyhow, after texting with him over the course of several days, it reminded me of my lofty goals at the beginning of the year and kinda lit a fire in me again.

Now, I’m not saying that my goals are now exactly the same because, HI BABY4! But I didn’t want a pregnancy and subsequent new life form to be an excuse. (Even though it’s been a very handy excuse.)

As a result, I thought I would check in on my Year of Risking Dangerously and see how I was doing.

So, here are a few things I mentioned that I wanted to accomplish this year, as well as some goals I had written for myself in my planner.

1) Become “internet famous.”

I’m not sure how to gauge this exactly. I definitely haven’t gone viral or won any awards or taken the internet by storm.

However, in my little niche of Mandarin stuff (you like that technical term?), I seem to be “famous” enough. And although it’s not the same as going viral on HuffPo, it’s acceptable to me.

Of course, if HuffPo comes calling, I’m not gonna object. So, you know. Get to working, internet.

2) Submit my work to online publishers.

I was pretty good with this the first few months of the year.

I pitched Postpartum Progress and they published an article of mine on How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapist

I was interviewed at Moms and Biz about Chinese homeschooling and loved my two minutes of fame. 

I also submitted to a few other places, and although it’s technically not an online publisher, I auditioned for Listen to Your Mother and made their San Francisco cast. (You can see the video and read the transcript here.)

So, even though I didn’t do much else after that due to my extreme fatigue, I am satisfied. I may get my act together enough to submit a few more articles, but truthfully, I probably won’t.

I am content to hold off for now (unless I start getting some second or third wind).

3) Create and publish ebooks from my Chinese (and other) series.

I have TOTALLY dropped the ball on this. Like, completely.

I deluded myself into thinking that I would do this during my Taiwan trip, but mostly, I just focused on eating my own weight in shaved ice.

However, after talking to my friend, I am newly re-inspired.

So, I will definitely try and make this happen before the end of the year. (Heck, even if it means squeaking in just under the wire or right at the new year.)

Of course, to get it out in time, I have to let go of my perfectionistic tendencies and maybe not have the ebook be as completely re-written as I’d hoped.

But sometimes, good enough is still good enough.

4) Create material for and launch my own YouTube channel and series. Start a podcast.

Total fail.

I did record some videos, but I don’t think this will realistically happen this year or the next. UNLESS I stop caring about the “professional” look of the videos and just post whatever. Like, Facebook Live quality types of videos.

We’ll see.

Otherwise, I’m content to let this go for the next year or so and wait until Baby4 is a little older.

5) Take myself seriously by owning my talents/abilities/influence and acting like a professional.

Although it did not quite manifest in the ways I originally had in mind (such as starting a newsletter, revamping the website, making it more businessy by getting sponsors or ads), I did start participating more in online communities, subscribing to blogs and Facebook pages and interacting more with the writers.

Also, I’m not sure what it is exactly, but my personal attitude about my writing and abilities has shifted. For some reason, I no longer feel embarrassed (not even sure if that’s the right word) about blogging.

Instead, I’m confident in my writing and my voice.

I don’t know how it happened, but I like it.

So, I give myself a C. I did well on certain tasks, but others, I completely failed. It kind of averages out, right?

Ok. My brain is mush. Introspection apparently hurts me. But thanks for reading anyway! We’ll see if my sudden surge in energy is going to last long enough for me to get things done to my satisfaction.

Otherwise, I’m ok with letting things go.

See you Friday!

My Year of Risking Dangerously

riskWhen I look back on my youth, I am always so puzzled as to why I had such a hard time asking my parents (especially my mother) for what I wanted or needed.

I mean, we’re talking about basic needs like menstrual pads for when I was menstruating. And yet, instead of asking my mother to buy me more pads, I would just surreptitiously sneak into her bathroom and raid her supply. When she ran out, she would just buy more for herself.

Or, for instance, I am uncertain to how I ate lunch from junior high onwards. I either had to make my own lunch, or I somehow paid for lunch at school. But I always remember being hungry – or not really having a lunch. And either scrounging for change around the house to pay for food items in nickels, quarters, and dimes – or just bumming snacks off of my incredibly patient friends. In high school, I finally decided to work in the cafeteria in order to get the free lunches. (I also considered it a way to build up my college applications.)

When I mentioned this to my mother and brother, they both looked at me as if I were crazy. Why didn’t I take money out of the cash drawer when I needed money? I had no idea what they were talking about.

But now that I think back, I do recall a cash drawer. And I was pretty sure I knew what it was for. So why didn’t I avail myself to it? Was I trying to “make it” on my own? I have no idea. But it’s weird, right?

I also remember that I used to covet all those teen magazines and would want to buy them but never asked my mom if I could because I was certain she would say, “No.” So instead, I would shoplift them. Or tear out certain pictures and shove them in my backpack.

One time, I was with a bunch of my friends and a clerk caught me shoving magazines in my backpack. He accused me and I was terrified because it was obviously true. I said I would pay for them. But one of my friends said she was certain I bought magazines from another friend who was selling them for the school fundraiser. And another friend’s mom accused the clerk of racism so they backed off. Of course, I called the friend who was selling magazines to say that I bought them from her if anyone asked. Of course, they asked.

This inability to ask for what I wanted or needed followed me through college and most of my adult life. I stayed in a major I hated because I was afraid of both acknowledging my changing and evolving desires as well as possibly being forced to transfer to UC Berkeley if I were no longer pre-med. (My father had made me write a huge pro/con list as to why I should attend UCLA instead of Cal. A big reason was that UCLA had a medical school and I wanted to be a doctor.)

As a result, I didn’t tell my parents until I was about to graduate that I didn’t want to be a doctor. Turns out, they didn’t want me to be a doctor, either. They thought it was too hard of a life.

When I reluctantly became a financial advisor, I didn’t want to tell my mother (who was my partner) that I absolutely hated it out of fear of disappointing her. After I finally told her (a decade and a child later), she wasn’t as crushed as I thought.

I wasted so much of my life tamping down on my desires and needs, constantly lying and dismissing myself. It’s no wonder that it’s taken me years to finally admit what I want and grab it.

So.

This is my year of risking dangerously.

This is my year of taking my desires, talents, and abilities seriously.

This is my year of pushing through terror and fear of disappointment. Of putting my money where my mouth is.

This year, I’m acknowledging the hidden corners of my heart. I’m giving voice to the whispers that I shunt to the side, thinking I’m not good enough, brave enough, or diligent enough.

So.

This year, I’m going to risk for what I want and what I want is to be “internet famous.”

I’m going to (and have already started) submitting my work to online publications. I want to create and publish a book out of several of my Chinese series. I want to create material for and launch a YouTube channel. Maybe start a podcast.

Who knows how many of these things will succeed?

I find the process terrifying and overwhelming. That is a huge reason I didn’t want to write about what I wanted for this year.

But you know what I find even more terrifying?

Ending 2016 at the same place as I did in 2015. Yearning and wanting but cowering in fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success (and having to reproduce that success). Fear of finally taking myself seriously only to be confronted with the prospect of my possibly not being as great as I think myself to be.

So.

There it is. That’s what I want. What I most desire.

I’m done hiding.

Here I come. Ready or not.

Sacking Up

Ladies and Gentlemen: I am the Worst Fantasizer in the World (WFotW). (This is also why I think I have an incredibly difficult time with writing fiction.)

Why would I say this? Because quite simply, it is true.

I can ruin a fantasy in about 15 seconds. Any fantasy. This is also why I absolutely hate hypothetical questions.

To illustrate how I ruin all things fun and imaginary, I present to you, a hypothetical Q&A between myself and myself:

What would I do if I won the lottery?

I wouldn’t win the lottery because I think it is a tax on people who can’t do math. I would never, in a million years, buy a lottery ticket. Therefore, this is an implausible (and also impossible) question and incredibly stupid. Next question.

Ok. Ok. Then let’s just say, you have a ton of money. Like, “Fuck You” amounts of money. What would you do, then?

How would I come into this amount of money? Am I celebrity? Did I become famous for acting? Singing? Those are likely the most plausible – after all, I don’t really have any other talents. Maybe writing? But writers don’t make Fuck You Money (FYM). So, likely, a celebrity. But let’s be real. I’m Chinese. Odds are, I’m not going to be famous in the US. So, did I go back to Taiwan or China to make my millions? And if so, how would I do that? Did I get better at reading Chinese all of a sudden? But the exchange rate is about 33:1 so I would need to make a SHIT ton of money in Taiwan.

OMG SHUT UP. Yes, let’s pretend you’re a celebrity. Forget how you became one. What would you do?

Wait. If I have FYM, I need to make sure I keep as much of it as possible. Let’s see… 10% to manager; 10% to agent; 50% to taxes. Would I incorporate? Hire all my family members? Max out 401ks? Set up deferred compensation? What type of insurance would I need? And would I live in a gated community (although I don’t believe in that). Wait. Would I become a celebrity before or after I met Hapa Papa? If I don’t end up marrying Hapa Papa, then I wouldn’t have my current kids. I can’t entertain that “reality.” So, I guess it would have to be after marrying Hapa Papa and then having my kids. But then I’d be old so then I would have even less of a chance of making it big – even if I went to Taiwan or China.

Ok, stop. Forget this scenario. Let’s pretend you’re in the Lord of the Rings or some similar fantasy world. What would you want to be?

I would want to be a female Legolas. (Geekcheck!) But hey, how would a woman travel? How did they provide for contraception? Or menstruation? Do elves even menstruate? Would I disguise myself as a man? But then how would I relieve myself? And all that wiping with leaves or moss or clumps of grass. This sounds very chafey.

Alright. Fine. Let’s pretend you’re in a science fictional universe where there is technology to take care of everything you just mentioned. What would you want to be or do?

Is there faster than light (FTL) travel? Are there space ships? If not FTL, and I were a space traveler badass like River from Firefly (but with less crazy) or like Zoë (but with an alive husband), I would have to leave behind all my family because quite frankly, all your family and friends would die by the time you reached any destination. I don’t think I’d be a space traveler if there is no FTL flight. I think I’d just stay on planet and live and die there like regular boring people.

OMG I HATE YOU. I DON’T WANT TO PLAY THIS ANYMORE. YOU SUCK AND RUIN ALL THE THINGS.

I can’t even fantasize without getting overwhelmed by the details.

Coming up with a plausible world build for any type of “fantasy” – even sexy ones where Damon Salvatore, Spike, Sark and I have incredibly fascinating … “conversation.” I mean, they all exist in different timelines. How would this work out? And how would they be “interacting” with me all at the same time? And could they please talk a lot because sarcasm and smirking are –

Perhaps I have said too much.

Actually, now that I think about it, I would make an excellent fiction writer if only I could get past the details threatening to derail my story and not infodump and bore the shit out of people because I can’t get past the story behind the story but I digress. Who wants to read a bunch of information that never actually gets anywhere?

This is why I prefer to write fan fiction. The world is already built and I can cheat by going straight to the story. (I’m revealing all sorts of shit today, aren’t I? Oh, come on. As if that tidbit were surprising.)

Oh, FFS. Even my blog posts are like this. It takes me at least 1,000 words of byzantine blather to even get to the main point.

I can’t help it. I delight in finding connections and I like pointing them all out in all their mind-numbing glory.

Not that any of you are again, surprised. We have known each other long enough for you to get that general sense of who I am, right? This is, after all, how I approach pretty much everything in my life – be it cleaning my house, packing for a trip, homeschooling, or future goals and desires.

It’s excruciating. But most of all, it is completely paralyzing.

99% of the time, I don’t get beyond the planning stages of ideas because, in the words of Dr. T, my plans are grandiose and as a result, completely overwhelming.

But my response to that is: Why plan for mediocrity?

I mean, why do anything if you’re only going to half-ass it? I always plan to be brilliantly successful in all my endeavors so if I plan something, I make sure I account for everything.

This is also why my posts are often extremely long because I am always anticipating multiple objections to my arguments. As a result, I never feel as if my posts are good enough because I can always come up with another objection. But then I get annoyed and impatient and settle and then say, “Good enough!” and fire off a post only to always regret it because I didn’t double check a fact or a data point or I missed some other vital thing (like consent for republishing work).

There is nothing I hate more than “Work in progress.” I’m a completist, through and through.

The unfortunate side effect? I rarely start things I don’t think I can finish.

What a sad, pathetic, safe life.

I have to remind myself of what my mentor, Mark Joyner, used to constantly tell me:

The map is not the terrain.

And also: A mediocre plan excellently executed always beats an excellent plan mediocrely executed.

Somehow, I have it in my head that unless I plan for every single possibility, I shouldn’t start at all because why set myself up for failure?

I really am quite Type-A (however failed). Dr. T always says my expectations are so high and exacting but then I downplay all the things I accomplish as if they are nothing. (But truly, anything I accomplish I don’t consider amazing because somehow by default, if something is amazing, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. After all, I only can do easy/lazy things.)

Omg.

I just realized what Dr. T has been telling me all this time. (Like seriously, for at least nine months now.)

How sad that I believe amazing and me are mutually exclusive scenarios. That if I can do something it must not be hard.

In fact, the only thing I consider worthy of “amazing” that I’ve done recently is my 5 week trip to Taiwan in July of 2014. That’s right. One and a half years ago. This past year has been a wasteland of amazing, I guess.

Whenever Dr. T points out things that I do that are “difficult,” I immediately deflect it and refuse to accept it. (For example, that I have consistently blogged around three times a week for over two years. Or that I have continued to go to counseling every week for the last year – even when I initially thought she was full of shit. Or taking care of and keeping three small children alive – even when Hapa Papa travels.)

In my mind, that is easy. What’s the big deal?

No wonder people find me intimidating and graceless. I am merciless in my contempt for people who can’t do what I can – because if I can do it, it must be easy so get your fucking shit together already, people.

What a horrible way to view myself as well as other people.

Incidentally, I really hate people who publicly cut people down (as much as I do internally, I try not to be that way as my “public” face). I despise people who give backhanded compliments or insult me under the guise of being funny. I mean what can you do about it? Especially if they are male. After all, if you take issue with their “humor” thinly disguised as a way to “neg” me, then I can’t win. I either don’t have a sense of humor (because what woman does, amiright?) and take myself too seriously, or I fall into their troll trap and try to prove my “worth” to an asshole who is a total waste of my time. And if you recognize yourself in this post, I’m probably talking about you. Why are you such an asshole? Seriously, stop it already. You’re not funny. You’re a dick. (Also, Pot: Kettle.)

OMBlergh. That was a 1,500 word preamble for a point that is at best, a few hundred words long.

So. Sacking up.

As the end of the year approaches and a new one is imminent, I find myself (like most people), reflecting on this year and anticipating what I want for 2016. All those hokey Vision Planning boards or activities ask us to contemplate and think of a word that will encapsulate the upcoming year and despite all my reluctance, for me, I think it will be Risk (or Sacking Up in the vernacular).

For 2016, I want to accomplish several items that will require a lot of effort and work with an uncertain outcome. But I really am reluctant to own these goals and desires that I have. After all, I am once again, confronted with a million details and grandiose schemes that it seems nearly impossible. And aren’t I, at heart, a lazy bastard?

Sorry to “vaguebook” and not actually tell you what I’m planning for next year. I would be more specific because commitment and consistency are real things. But they also say that if you tell too many people your goals or resolutions, your brain produces the same euphoric effect as if you actually accomplished your goal. As a result, you no longer have the same amount of urgency to finish.

Anyhow, this is just me vaguely telling you, dear reader, that I have big plans for 2016. Huge. Grandiose, even. I just need to sack up and do it. (How come we never say womb up? As if only humans with testicles can risk and risk big.)

See? I can’t even end a post without digressing. Oh, look! Shiny!