Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tickets: I Asked and You Deserved Them

It was a beautiful morning, a great song was on the radio and there were no cars on the highway… so of course I was zooming.

As it happens, I saw the speed gun locked on my windshield once it was much too late to engage in preventative measures. My speedometer dropped 15 notches in two seconds, but when I saw this cop jump on his bike, I just knew it was for me. I merged in-between two cars in the center lane and drove with my eyes on my rearview mirror because, if I was going to get pulled over, I wanted to see it coming.

Except, I don’t even know where he went. The next 10 miles were driven in a silent fear because, despite being a general do-gooder, normal citizens like me are busted for silly things all the time. Technically, being a smidgen over the speed limit is against the law, but why pick on a princess when there are actual villains wrecking havoc in the city?

And the thing is, I feel like I’m busted for everything. I don’t know how to be sneaky and I always forget where the usual speed traps are. The one text I make is the one a cop sees and the day I get into a fender bender is the day before I renew my expired registration.

Today, however, I’m happy to say that my ghost cop left me alone and I merely worried myself to work. I’m so glad it caused me to reach out and ask what everyone’s last ticket was because the responses I received were nothing short of laughable.

I see now that what we’re left with are a series of vibrant stories of being ticketed for wacky reasons. Cops have united us so that we stand in spite our reprimands with our tickets held high and our personal records stained colorful. In truth, sometimes we deserve a good scolding for the things that we do.

Here are a few responses I got to make you feel better about your last ticket (and I quote, because some of your answers made me laugh out loud):

Running a red light in Waikiki on my bicycle.
Speeding. A lot.
Unsafe lane change - so pretty much not using my turn signal.
Parking in a stupid place.
Going 28 in a 25. I actually paid it because I'm a sucker.
Taking pictures of [my son] with my cell phone while driving.
Noise violation for blasting death metal in Manoa graveyard at midnight.

What are some other silly or embarrassing tickets you've received?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breaking Up In The Age of Social Media

Breaking up in the age of social media – I’ve never done it before. I was considerably late jumping on the Facebook train and ended my three-year relationship without needing to endure a single status change. There were no photos to untag or cuddly profile pictures to delete, just an untainted Facebook page waiting for me to fall in love again.

But then I found myself lost in 2012, trying to manage the second big breakup that mattered. Times have changed since my first heartbreak and the landscape isn’t what it was. There’s now public proof that I was once the second half of a romantic duo, our photos haunting albums, our history so clearly displayed with Facebook’s friendship feature. I felt hapless, like I was standing alone in front of my romantic ruins, expected to clean the social slate for the next guy to come along. The task was as daunting as it was heartbreaking, and, months later, there’s still a year and a half of history I’ve yet to untag.

Which begs the question, what is the proper post-breakup protocol? How is a person expected to break up in the age of social media?

It’s important to remember that much of what you do on Facebook and Twitter is accessible, at least to your select followers. There’s an increased level of messiness that comes with a separation that’s invariably public. All it takes is an insensitive misstep to propel a touchy issue into a communal train wreck.

So take the initial steps in stride. That relationship status, as frustratingly symbolic as it can be, will eventually need to change. However, instead of using Facebook’s drop-down box as spiteful catharsis, take a few days to make these changes. I opted to make my relationship status entirely private. As a friend so wisely put it, “No one needs to know who doesn't already know.”

There’s also the compelling temptation to lurk your other half’s networks, see where they’ve checked in to and who they’ve been tweeting. There’s no need for ostentatious, spiteful romancing with other people, so be respectful and keep your fraudulent flirting off the media grid. Nothing is more hurtful than thinking your love has already found another, and with emotions precarious, it doesn’t take much to believe you’ve been replaced.

So, for your personal health and mental stability, consider taking the final daunting steps of unfriending or blocking your ex. Sometimes we need to take advantage of technology to cut us off from our addictions, and over-analyzing every one of your ex’s new tweets is one of them. Time itself will help bring solidarity, and having access to the social reminders that your love is alive and well (and god forbid, flourishing) might not be what you need in your time of recovery.

While I'm still navigating the volatile currents in the wake of my own breakup, I realize it's important to resist the urge to plague my social networks with my woes. It's oddly therapeutic to set it free and let it fester in public. However, I'd much rather be the girl who handled her heartbreak with grace than the crazy Fraulein who set Twitter on fire with her bitterness and misery. He and I are now single by status, officially unfriended and both managing (with respect) in this delicate context of technology. I'd like to think we're doing it right.

Remember that the symptoms of withdrawal are as formidable as they are temporary, so throw on your heartbreak mix tape and sing along.

Here’s one to get you started.

So, what do you think is the most difficult part about breaking up in the age of social media?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today is Comic Sansday

Perhaps it’s because I was grass-fed on Comic Sans, that once invasive species of typography, that I’ve grown to despise it. In the late 90s, it was overly proliferate within AOL chatrooms, chain mail and Angelfire homepages. We instant messaged in comic sans and lit up our text with every illegible chroma. Needless to say, I was 14 years old and sound judgment was not yet a virtue.

And still, I remember my confusion when, years later, my best friend changed his default text to Veranda. We were still teens, but the Comic Sans bandwagon had reached its peak and suffered from mass mutiny. The world, it seemed, was sick of fun-loving, fantastic fonts.

The problem was the way in which the text was habitually misused, often chosen to convey serious messages when the font could hardly be taken seriously itself. Warning signs and passive-aggressive notes written in Comic Sans served as ignorant juxtapositions. I spent the last four semesters learning German out of a workbook entirely decked out in CS and it was the silent joke of the department. I couldn’t look at a list of verb conjugations without feeling like my second-language learning abilities were being shamelessly humored.

But while Comic Sans remains the font we all love to hate, it’s important to acknowledge that, like any typeface, it was created for a particular purpose. Back in 1994, font designer, Vincent Connare, was commissioned to develop a child-like type suitable for software called Microsoft Bob. Comic Sans was not meant to exist outside this domain, but the font wasn’t completed in time for the release of the product and so it was instead included in the Windows 95 Plus! Pack. The rest, as they say, is terrible, terrible typographical history.

However, it wasn’t until recently that I was right there with the Helvetica fans, too pretentious with my text to advocate for the laughingstock of font. But when I reached out to the people around me, I realized that my antagonism was sorely displaced. I interviewed a handful of students nearly 10 years my junior, only to find that they had hardly an opinion on Comic Sans at all. Have we spent the last decade so passionately trampling out Comic Sans only for the next generation to adopt a passive apathy over our cause?

And so I took to the Internet, interested to see how the Comic Sans bell curve was taking shape. What I found was a font pushing back from the obstructions of mockery and loathing, a zombie typeface with a renewed, albeit abused, vigor. There’s a Tumblr dedicated to revamping old corporate logos into its Comic Sans counterparts and an impassioned monologue of anger from the typeface itself.

But there’s no better way to convey the undeniable Comic Sans upswing than through the latest and catchiest pro-CS movement from YouTube user, Gunnarolla’s, most recent creation: The Comic Sans Song

So lets shelve our Trebuchet for a day and pay homage to the most resilient of fonts. Comic Sans, you horrendous Beanie Baby, amateur typeface: today I pay homage to you.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Space Deprivation

Travel involves relinquishing yourself to a time warp. I don't know what day it is or how long I've been awake, but my mathematical estimates are as follows: Saturday night, 48 hours. It might be October.

The group, which began with four, has since tripled. My mom, dad, brother and I met up with my aunt and uncle at the Honolulu International Airport. We picked up my two cousins in Seattle and flew to Florida. Here, we were met by my second aunty and uncle, my second cousin, her friend and another aunt. I think this makes 13, though my cousin is pregnant, thus making it 13 1/2.

We've all been falling asleep at small increments and at really inappropriate times. Some of us slip into states of comatose during 20 minute commutes. Others sleep during shows, on outdoor benches or whilst driving. We are ill, but we press onward because vacations don't last forever.

Today we made it to the John F. Kennedy Space Center and wowed ourselves silly off of rockets and space travel. The universe is out of control, and in a cool way. They had propped the Atlantis shuttle up for its launch next month, so we took our time appreciating the sight of the second-to-last spaceship getting prepped for action. My heart is broken that the shuttle missions will be ending soon.

Tomorrow we go from space to sea and embark on our Disney cruise. My cousins told me that there will be karaoke, so I'm already working on my Lion King songs. Naaaaaants ingonyamaaaa bagithi baba... and Elton John just gave me a high-5.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prelude to a family vacation

I miss it: The packing and list drafting and three-week foresight that comes with travel. I crave those restless nights that come before departure. I would find myself shifting all night in bed, sleepless due to excitement or the morphing list of things that still need to be done.

Distractions ensue, and the result always seems to be me dashing out the door in house slippers and breakfast on my chin. But I love it.

Midnight in Venice, Italy
I’d give anything to wake up to pitch darkness and the kind of silence that signifies how the world around you is still asleep. I embrace that feeling of being suspended in my 4 a.m. preparations, moving through an early-morning resistance as if the night thickened while we REMed. I love taking my shoes off at security, even though I can feel the cold of the tile seeping through my socks, bringing with it some backpacker’s athletes foot or toe jams or whatever nonsense feet absorb and disperse. I even love sitting next to that one passenger, the one who talks incessantly about nothing at all because that’s the ridiculousness that I remember when the movement has ceased.

The stories I could tell you that have taken place during transit, oh, they range from embarrassing to heart-warming. From hair products mistaken for sex toys to old Korean men who have offered the type of kindness that breaks harbored stereotypes.

I just love to travel.

Bag piping in Edinburgh, Scotland

I’ve grown accustomed to traveling alone, navigating and getting lost and discovering things by myself. This trip I’m taking, the one that starts on Friday, is of a different design and for an alternative purpose than what I’m used to. This week, I’m going on a family vacation.

Three weeks gone with parents and siblings and relatives and cousins. Three weeks with agendas and meal plans and beds that don’t have bugs and rooms that don’t house strangers. I’ll get room service and fancy dinners, a pirate-themed party thrown by a family-friendly Disney. Someone else will navigate and someone else will get lost, and I’ll be the one tagging along in the back, just along for the ride.

Lost in the outskirts of Seattle

Though it sounds like a trip induced by leisure, it’s in fact a result of family deaths and cancers and sicknesses. Like a home-owner investing in a house alarm after being robbed, my family is taking action. Together, we will experience the nuances of being related. I haven’t done this since ’96 and I have no idea how it’s going to go down, but I have my brother and an ID that says I can buy alcohol, so I’m well-equipped to endure anything.

Three days until I’m gone. Three weeks until I’m crazy.

Florida, Bahamas, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas. Oh good gracious, here I come.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Born to Depart

Three days, two dinners, one meeting and half a day’s work stand between an airplane and I. This is an intolerable amount of time considering how desperately I’ve been longing to get my feet off the ground. It’s been seven months since I’ve been thrown into travelers abstinence, grounding myself for the sake of education. I’ve endured the withdrawals of an ex-wanderer, pacing in circles to compensate for how stationary life has been.

So I’ve strapped myself down to the circumference of an island and thrashed under my own restraints until I've exhausted the need to take off. I’ve been depressed and hopeless and lonely, but I’ve recovered from my melancholy by drinking it down, throwing it up and hanging it over. It sounds like a reckless way to recover, but I’ve been optimistic and surprisingly sober for the better part of July. Cured, I say, or broken, I think.

What matters is that I’ll be in a terminal once again, moving through gates and metal detectors like a puppet flipping off its axis. I won’t even wear shoes that day 'cause I want to impress security with my obvious familiarity with their rules and regulations. Liquids? Drank, thank you, and recycled, you’re welcome. And I already know where all the emergency exits are located, naturally.

I’m hyper on reliving the feeling of leaving. I want to be a stranger and a brand newcomer and an explorer of a place I know little of. I want to leave this mound of sand to swish in the tides without me while I drink overly chlorinated water in the tourist hub of Orlando. I’ll get paid to reach high elevations, and being on the job will not bring me down.

There’s little use in recovery when, really, I was born to depart. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Death of the First Born iPod

In lieu of my writers block, I'm going to pull an entry that I wrote back in 2007 during my second year in South Korea. I don't remember writing it, so stumbling upon it was glorious. At the time, I was living in a small farming village located in an isolated valley, which, at one point, I refer to "the punch bowl." Enjoy.

Korea is a map in which all corners are connected by trains, subways, taxis and buses. There is no one place that is inaccessible through these means of transportation. Here, traveling is accessible, affordable and, for the most part, comfortable. The one thing it is not, is fast. When I say that it isn't fast, I don't mean that the drivers are slow, because they are anything but. Travel is slow because the big cities are small and few in-between. So, to see Korea, one must truly go the distance.

Destinations are strangely and exactly one hour apart, as if these roads and speed limits were designed in such a way as to help regulate and simplify the bus schedules. Of course, the farther you are, the more hours it takes to arrive, so I am constantly traveling here. I gladly opt for the token hour-long journey from my punch bowl to the nearest city in order to escape small town stagnation. 

It was through these long drives in which my iPod became both companion and best friend. My iPod was the medium through which "This American Life" - a Korean bus-ride favorite of mine - could reach and entertain my brain. It was what connected me to Hawksley Workman, Belle & Sebastian, Regina Spektor and The Shins. For all I knew, I was front row, VIP, BFF with every band and singer that resonated through my ear canal.

So when my iPod died, it was more than just a portable entertainment device that went to Heaven. It was death to Ira Glass and all the ways in which I could live vicariously through him. It was the demise to my mind-blowing silent power vocal solos held discreetly between the window and the empty seat beside me. It was an end to my personal serenades, sung sweetly to only me by dashing men of multiple musical talents. It was the annihilation of a personal world in which bus driver and fellow passengers ceased to exist - a world in which a custom stage and face-melting pyrotechnics were mine.

So when my iPod died, I was left with a kind of silence that I didn't know what to do with. For hours and a multitude of bus rides, I'd sit and pout because I didn't know how to appreciate the lack of electronics. Except, there comes a time when mourning ceases to cut it, and when this happens, there is true silence. It is in this void that the change begins to happen and suddenly I am thinking, I am praying and I am creating. 

I've already dreamt up a series of South Korean folk tales, inspired by the forest that I just noticed that we drive through. I've been writing a lot more, mostly thoughts on my experiences, and have mapped out the direction in which I'd like to go in life. So, although there is a gravestone dedicated to my iPod, there is also a shiny blue mylar balloon that reads, "Congratulations. It's a brain." Indeed, my thoughts were being held hostage by the completed works of others, when what I needed most, was to create some work myself.