The Fear of Water

I’m working on a couple visual effects (VFX) shots right now for a friend. Usually when I do VFX, I turn on a podcast and click my computer screen for hours until a car explodes. Or a tripod gets erased. The latter is much less interesting.

However, I’m also dedicated to blogging every day, so I’m taking a break to let some words loose. Here we go.

When I was about nine years old, I was terrified of water. I used to take swimming lessons with a few childhood friends and I hated it. When I told our instructor that I didn’t want to put my head underwater, she moved me to the beginner’s side. Away from my friends. By myself. At that moment, I realized: being afraid sucks. But I’m still afraid.

I told my parents I didn’t want to take swimming lessons anymore. They warned me that if I didn’t learn how to swim, I wouldn’t be able to hang out with my friends at pool parties and whatnot. Great. Now I’m not just afraid of water, but also being a social outcast.

This story has a stupid ending. I overcame my aquaphobia after chilling in a hot tub with my dad. He challenged me to put my head underwater. I did, because it was a hot tub. The end.

Also my current friends don’t have pool parties. Not now, not during my teenage years, and probably not ever. In fact, I’ve never received one invite to a pool party and thought, “Wow, it’s a good thing I learned how to swim when I was nine!”

This isn’t to say I actually know how to swim. I know how to float long enough to not drown if thrown into the Atlantic.

I’m realizing now how interesting my relationship with water has been. For all my life, it’s made me feel inferior to, well, everyone. I continued to take swimming lessons as a teenager, flailing my limbs around the pool in attempt to swim a lap, while every other person Michael Phelpsed their way to the other side.

This inferiority complex also applies to basketball. For the first half of my life, my dad couldn’t figure out why his abnormally tall son couldn’t make a lay up.

I don’t like being bad at things. If I wrote my own life story, all skills would come naturally, and I would only struggle with managing my time from being so talented. It’s the dream.

Suffice to say, I am not talented at most things athletic. So I pursued the things I perceived to be talented in. Filmmaking. Writing. Visual effects, like I’m doing right now.

But I would run into failures in those areas as well. My self-published book sold about fifty copies. Not exactly the Eragon level of success I was hoping from another a homeschooled writer. One of my first short films I can barely watch anymore. It’s an action/drama film about spiritual warfare named…wait for it…Prebirth.

I called it Prebirth. What is this, some medical procedure? It’s funny because I remember a bunch of people trying to convince me out of it. And I shut them all down because I was the skilled and talented filmmaker extraordinaire who could do no wrong. This wasn’t swimming or basketball! This was something I was talented in until I discovered I wasn’t.

I’m not really afraid of water. I’m afraid of failure.

I’m twenty-five now. I’ve failed many times and will fail many more. It’s part of life. There are so many things I love that I stopped pursuing because I wasn’t naturally good at it.

As with most of my posts, this blog doesn’t ever have a clear ending. I used to not blog because it would take so damn long, tweaking my writing, editing the structure, making sure the ending was perfect. But now I’m thinking…who cares? I write because it’s fun. And if I stumble across a profound conclusion worthy of a college essay, so be it. Otherwise I’m going to keep writing every day because I want to get better and it’s fun.

Josh out.

P.S. HOLY MOLY I’m not even twenty-five yet! Why did I write that I was already twenty-five? I sense a quarter life crisis arising…

The Greatest Chicken Nuggets in Los Angeles

7503 Garvey Avenue, Rosemead, CA 91770.

This address should mean nothing to most people. Just another McDonald’s out of the thousands in America. But let not your consumeristic eyes deceive you.

This Mcdonald’s location…this SPECIFIC location….has the MOST INCREDIBLE CHICKEN NUGGETS I’VE EVER TASTED.

See, it started when the exclusive Szechuan sauce came out. I went to this McDonalds and ordered a few nuggets. The sauce was pretty good, but I was struck by how crispy the nuggets were. However, I was too distracted with the sauce to truly realize what a magnificent batch of nuggets I had consumed.

Later that day, I had a sudden urge for nuggets. No, not the sauce. The nuggets. I started replaying the memory of devouring them. They were tender on the inside, yet crispy on the outside. Not too soft, not too dry. Juicy. Meaty. Delicious. That was when I came to the conclusion…wow, that was the BEST nuggets I’ve ever eaten!

I went back again the next day. They were out of the Szechuan sauce, but I didn’t care, since the spicy buffalo sauce was just as good, if not better. I ordered another batch of twenty nuggets.

Heaven hit my taste buds. I remembered it like it was yesterday, because it was literally yesterday I had eaten these glorious nuggets. This was no small fluke in the system. The nuggets were just as good, if not better than before.

I don’t know what this particular McDonald’s is doing to craft a superior nugget. It is truly amazing, and if you want to experience the ultimate nugget, as of March 11, 2018, you must go to this location.

The Gospel of Nuggets has been served. You’re welcome.

Whiting Every Day

I’ve been listening to a podcast called Whiting Wongs. Strange title, yes, but it’s tongue in cheek. It features two writers of Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon and Jessica Gao, discussing racial issues within the entertainment industry, with tons of great writing advice along the way.

As far as I can tell from the emails and feedback they receive, most of their audience is white. It’s interesting listening to this podcast as a minority, thinking, “Wow, is that how white people actually perceive us?” See, I grew up in Chinatown, Manhattan, so I didn’t see too many white people for the first fifteen years of my life.

Then we moved to New Jersey. But even though most of our neighbors were white, we still attended a mostly Asian church and hung out in Asian circles, so I can’t say I’ve ever really felt discrimination.

Because of this, I never considered myself an advocate for Asian…rights? Issues? I don’t even know the correct terminology, to be honest. A couple close friends in LA are very involved in Asian American ACTIVISM, that’s the word! Had to google it just now. Maybe I’m just dumb. That’s one stereotype down.

I feel like if I blog about a weighty topic like this, I need to have some profound insight, or really dig deep into my stance on the issue. The truth is, I’m still learning, finding out that my experience is not the same as everyone else’s.

Wong Fu Productions, a popular Youtube channel that makes, you guessed it, Asian-related short films. During the making of their first feature film, they played up the fact that this was a movie starring and made by Asians, in order to get people to fund their Indiegogo campaign. I still supported it, but deep down I thought, “What does it matter if the film stars Asians unless it’s actually a good film? Shouldn’t they be promoting the story, not the Asian-ness of the story?”

But I get it now. Especially after seeing Black Panther. If the media we ingest can change the world’s perspective on African-Americans, it can be the same for Asians.

This post was originally titled “Writing Every Day” and I was going to talk about how this podcast has inspired me to blog every day, practice those writing muscles, etc. But then I got side-tracked with a topic too complex for my quick daily thoughts. I’ll probably be hit with some revelatory insight about race one day and blog it here.

I don’t think this is a great blog post. My thoughts are all jumbled up. But the point is to not over-analyze my own writing and just write. And I’m going to write. Every. Single. Day. Building habits that will make me great. Eventually.

Alright, Josh out.

I Followed Christopher Nolan Around For An Entire Evening…

…in my dream last night. It was fantastic.

I met him in a humongous office building, where he was doing prep for his next film. He invited me to follow him around as he ran some errands.

We walked through a couple classrooms full of students gaping at Nolan. He ignored them. So did I.

We entered an elevator. I asked him if he enjoyed living in the city (I don’t know if he actually does or not).

NOLAN
Sometimes. The city gets a bit boring. I rather spend some time in the country with my wife and daughter.

The scene shifted to him giving his infant daughter a bath in a rural cottage. His hands disappeared, leaving behind a 3D wireframe model of his hands, bathing a virtual projection of his daughter in computer-simulated water.

I woke up.

Jump! Advice from Grandpa

My grandpa (rest in peace) used to tell my dad that in order to wake up in the morning, he would JUMP out of bed and get to work. This would prevent him from sleeping in for hours.

I enjoy sleeping in. If you read my previous blog post, you’ll know I slept in until 12:30 yesterday with disastrous results.

I also like taking warm, hot showers. My house is barely insulated, so it’s freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer. Right now, it’s so cold in my house that I need to go outside for warmth.

Ten minutes ago, I was standing in my shower, which is a little too short for me, so the water hits the back of my neck first with a sharp sensation. My shower head is basically a power hose, like a thousand water arrows piercing my skin. It’s not that painful, but if I try to wash my ears, I can hear Poisedon’s Fury being unleashed.  The only reason it’s comfortable is because it’s so warm compared to the iceberg that is my house.

Wow, that was quite off-topic. So I finish washing my nekkid bod. Time to dry off. Or I could chill and soak in the liquid heat for a few more minutes.

This has happened before. I never time my showers, but I am prone to basking in boiling glory before returning to the Arctic Zone.

I really shouldn’t be complaining about the cold. I used to live in New Jersey. We had snowstorms. California occasionally gets a light, misty spray of rain. But hey, cold is cold.

This blog is a lot longer than I intended it to be. I should just get to the damn point.

“No,” I thought to myself, “I must not waste time or water. I must…JUMP!”

And jump I did. Out of the shower and into my freezing bathroom, which wasn’t that cold because all the hot water had humidified the room with warmth.

I thought this was a lot more profound than it actually is. I’m really just wasting your time right now by having you read this.

Long story short, I’m learning to stop basking in my comfort zones and jump. The end.

I Majorly Effed Up

First of all, I invite you to judge me for waking up at 12:30pm in the afternoon. I worked a twelve hour shift yesterday on a film set, and hey, might as well sleep in the next day right?

This small decision would become my downfall.

My phone rang. Unknown number. I rolled over in bed and picked up. Someone with a British accent begins talking to me. Now, I only know a few people with an actual British accent. Most of my community is Asian, and there ain’t too many Asian Brits out there.

He tells me his name. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call him Steven. Not that I could clearly understand him, due to having woken up a few minutes prior. Due to my drunken sleep state, I assume this is a friend prank calling me. It’s happened before.

“Steve,” I reply in my terrible imitation British accent, “who is this Steve?”

“My name is Steve. I’m a friend of May.”

I can’t understand that last name.

“May? Who is this May?” I say. At this point, I’m laughing to myself and trying to figure out what’s going on.

“Not May,” he clarifies. Then he says the name again and I finally understand him through the British accent.

This isn’t a prank. It’s an actual British person with an actual British accent.

And he’s calling on behalf on my friend who’s trying to help me look for a job.

CRAP.

I immediately switch back to my normal talking voice. We talk for about five minutes, where he gives me a bunch of possible places to apply. Really nice guy. I apologize for mocking his accent several times.

I think you, the reader, needs to know how bad my British accent is. It’s not even a British accent. If I were to say, “It kind of sounds like this” I would go “EIT KAHN DA SEWNDS LAHK DIS.”

Lord, help me.

I’m going to apply to the places he recommended. Maybe something good will come out of my biggest faux pas of the year.

 

Well, It’s Technically Tomorrow…

Should I write a new blog post now? Too late, I am.

I recently had a huge writing revelation. One of my many writing weaknesses has always been dialogue. People have told me all my characters sound the same. It’s like I’m playing hand puppets, making slightly different voices for each character but every voice stemming from the same person.

A few days ago, I figured it out. Or Jenine figured it out. She told me that writing great character dialogue means listening to your characters. Figure out what they want to say, or would say. My problem is that I like talking too much. In real life conversations, I often find myself just waiting for the other person to finish talking so I can say my witty remark. And that habit bleeds into my writing.

I technically am putting myself into the character, but I’m only having them say the cool line I would’ve said if I were them. It’s not true to who they are.

Okay, that was three paragraphs of about this stupid writing revelation. I’m sure there’s a way to condense it into 1-2 sentences. It’s 1:28 AM and I’ve been up since 6:30 AM. I’m exhausted.