Category Archives: Career

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Everything feels a bit sophomoric at the moment. I feel like I’m doomed to be in perpetual anticipation of something more, to graduate to something more profound?

Like, I wonder if it’s symptomatic of law students, in eras when the global economy is in constant states of uncertainty, to feel like such frauds, because after all, law school doesn’t teach you anything about being a lawyer. Or, in better times, does the certainty of a real job after graduation gives them a sense of purpose that obviates such existential contemplations? Contemplations that are truly inconsequential to the “higher order” of advocacy?


On the flip side of the pillow

Which is predictably, and perhaps fortunately, cooler, there is this:

China to cancel majors that yield less than lucrative careers.

There seems to be a perennial conflict between training productive human beings that may contribute to society in a meaningful (meaning, of course, being measured by cash money) way and training well rounded INDIVIDUALS which takes a holistic view of the multiple facets that comprise a persona.

Why must they be mutually exclusive? There is no continuum, apparently. Or, it’s broken.

Incidentally, these two events seem to reflect the disconnect between the societal values of China and the United States.

What am I doing wrong with my life?

Last night, between writing a draft of my 25 page final paper for China Intellectual Property and browsing Cyber Monday deals, I uncovered this piece of gem on Daily Intel: Yale is offering a seminar class on night life in NYC.


I took my fair share of culture studies, namely just the freshman intro to rhetoric, the syllabus for which was built around relevant pop culture and media, you know, so as to appeal to the sleepy freshman brains who are in class at 8:30am in Binghamton where the sun don’t shine. And, yeah, I did write papers discussing the reciprocal/symbiotic influences between Hip Hop music and fashion, analyzing the seemingly divergent female narratives on the deterioration of a relationship in a Kelly Price R&B jam and a Eve rap hit. But this was in my first semester of college, I was 18 and I never thought for a second that this would be permissible topic of study as a thesis to a 4 year program that is supposed to be the build up of my 21 years on this earth. I assumed dedicating 4 years of education would add a new facet to my life, and that I should at least acquire new knowledge. College, in short, was not supposed to be an extension of my life before or out of college, because if that were a legitimate topic of study, then why would I even need to be in college? Even after composing a thesis on the cultural nuances I witnessed between living in Shanghai, New York and Paris, I always assumed that this intellectual curiosity is a natural by-product of, oh say, living a life. It was not until much later, after having worked for a year, did I realize that there are people out there who take on pop culture and lifestyles as a course of study and then as a overarching theme to a CAREER. People are making a living out of simply synthesizing fragments of everyday life through verbal articulation.

My ninjas, that is bullshit.

I get it. There are implications upon implications in every trend ever in society. But the implication of this particular phenomenon seems to be: this is a generation of people who is so existential so 24/7 that they find enough relevance in these trivialities to not only dissect but to create a whole discourse out of as if such extrapolations can have even a de minimis worth to the society beyond themselves. Not only that, but that the few who are “elevated” as studied in these issues, means that there is a whole generation of people who are interested but are capable of even less.

I am all about reading the casual blog post on fringe social issues that come thru in the movies, ads, or songs on some inadvertent philosopher business, but a seminar class? What do you suppose is the pre-requisite for the class? What are the accompanying texts? Perspectives on the gaze? Feminist response to the male gaze?

A quick google search of the instructor turned up his catalog of works on the Thought Catalog, after which I read a few more random posts on the site, which are desultory, if anything. These are published. When Charlie sent me a NYT post by Edith Zimmerman 2 weeks ago, she was critical of the casual style and generally lax standard of writing. I lamented that it is a new norm, that this is apt as blogs are increasingly legitimized as a medium of expression.

But these jawns are making me weep. I never considered pursuing writing, because I hold the discipline with esteem, and didn’t think that I had the requisite skills. Apparently, those skills? Not such a requisite! These writings make a mockery out of the craft by simply existing beyond a private realm. I mean, I just CANNOT.

Mona Lisa cannot Rome without Ceasar

Indeed, because she lived about 1500 years after Ceasar?

Between detailing the five conferences, paper, interviews, book, and committees he’s working on, the professor peppered the narrative of his career with mentions of his deteriorated marriage. At the end of the two hour lunch, having summed up his endless commitments over the next year, he trailed off with “yeah, building an empire…”, which just sounded like a sad consolation.

This Might Offend My Political Connects

Earlier this week, Runako sent me this article on the children of China’s One Child Policy, hereafter dubbed “Singletons”. Two days later, Janelle linked me to the NYT article on “millennials” in America, which has been ripped to pieces by…basically everyone aside from the NYT.

I probably shouldn’t be taking on this post right now since I’m too pooked to even compose a Tweet, let alone a coherent, comparative essay, but I guess I’ll just do a rant:

Singletons = Millennials (in terms of age and doting parents, but for clarity purposes we’ll differentiate the two by their names), yet their outlooks are as divergent as East and West. Lest you miss the point, it has little to do with the “One Child Policy”. If you’re not a moron, then you would have realized that the so called crisis facing many “millennials” is nothing but a case of serious entitlement. I’m not exactly on my knees to worship China and all of its idiosyncrasies here (because Chinese people have serious issues that I will probably get into another time), but we breed men and women that suck it up and get it done. Why? Because if you don’t finish your homework before dinner so you can practice the violin/piano/accordion (yes, stop it), study extracurricular work 3 grades above your current grade level, write essays that implements “Chengyu” (Chinese proverbial idioms, basically SAT words but much much more sophisticated), recite Tang dynasty poetry (like reciting Shakespearan sonnets, but more immediately culturally relevant), you will not only miss the opportunity to read your story book, you will get beat. When you start building that sort of discipline when you’re 7, naturally, you’re not whining about your miserable disposition, for which you have no one to blame but yourself. Furthermore, this middle class bourgeois issue of “soul searching”, is a luxury granted to sons and daughters of millionaires, which is obnoxious under those circumstances, but becomes ridiculous and embarrassing when it’s being supported by the savings of your parents’ middle class income. Income they earned by sucking it up and doing what’s necessary. This moron wants to move out and have his parents pay the rent until he figures it out so he feels like he’s on his own? You know what will really help with your independence? A job.

Do you know what? It’s not some uniquely Chinese characteristic, which the article try to convey with its whole Confuican filial piety resultant no retirement policy, maybe partially, it’s so ingrained that I don’t even notice anymore, because it’s SO CHINESE?! But, I’d like to venture to say that, it is just a matter of humility and basic human decency to want to 1) establish yourself 2) show some gratitude to the parents who’ve spent the last 20 odd years giving you everything you needed to become a failure?

Seriously, Scott, have you no shame? To first be a completely incompetent jerkface and then to bring shame to your family by agreeing to an interview like this? No publicity is bad publicity only holds true if your name is Snooki, please, get a job.

Another note: centralized government, which all the morons in America fear more than HIV and illiteracy, it is the reason why China is basically churning out geniuses and talent and laughing at America at the same time. Because we’re too busy trying to maintain the illusion of free-will, democracy, and individuality, with what? The loan you took out from China? So much for sovereignty. I’m aware of all the negative consequences of this centralized government, so if you want to assert your world news awareness by listing the human rights violations, religious oppressions, corruption, go TA an undergrad globalism class, it would be an ad hominem attack here.

Then earlier this afternoon, I read David Brooks’s op-ed piece, in which this idea of deference lit a bulb. But, of course. America was founded upon this principle; we are rooted in forging our own rules in reaction to rules we don’t like. Obviously, there are different circumstances, but I suppose that’s the American spirit if we are to make cultural attributions. Is it problematic? Is Scott’s refusal to accept the conventional path simply a reflection of his culture? (I’m being very generous here.)

I may be biased in the assessment of the two situations with a bit of idealizing the more distant past, but I do feel very fortunate to have gotten the latter half of my education in the US. With the foundational disciplinarian start in China, it’s allowed me to think for myself, which is not entirely possible in China. There were various moments in that singleton article that made me tear up (on the subway!) in being resonant of various moments in my life. As much as I appreciate the foundation, I’m also very aware of the weight that comes along with this discipline. Sometimes, it pushes me along, but there are other moments, in which the weight of the guilt suffocates me. In an ideal world, we would all have the discipline and discretion to exercise – and not abuse – liberties to their maximum benefit. The absence of liberty is very apparent to those in China, while the absence of discipline in this case seem almost irrelevant. I’m not sure what’s worse.

It’s a shame how skewed the media portrayal presentation of the world can be, because for every Scott Nicolsons, there are plenty more who are doing extraordinary things. It’s a shame that NYT chooses to write about the “products” of these desolate times, which keeps these Scott’s in a cloud of recession complacency. The unemployment, the bankruptcy, the not paying your mortgage, all creating a culture where responsibilities can be evaded on a personal level. Misery does love company.

Also: “…since one-child was set in motion, critics have called the policy “draconian,” “crude,” “horrid,” “drastic” — an intrusive policy that allows the state to strip individuals of the most intimate of human rights: the decision to have a baby.” Isn’t it a bit ironic that “strip individuals of the most intimate of human rights: the decision to have a baby” can be said re: abortions, both anti and forced? Perspective is all relative. Crazy, huh.

Just vibe with me…

I will return to Balmania-bashing shortly, in the mean time, sorry for the shortage of my witty witty commentary on shredded tees.

In my senior year of college, one of my professors posed this question: would you rather be happy or famous [seriously, only philosophy/comp lit professors would ask these kinds of questions]? In my pre-graduation bubble of chippy naivete, I said, happy, with some certainty. He said, he and his wife answered, famous. Which seemed, to me, to reek of vanity.

This, by the way, is the same professor who gave me a book as a token of gratitude for my services as TA and wrote, “To Jae, For you, for whom beauty and truth are the same thing; these are the foundations of faith in yourself; this book for my finest teacher of that truth”. I think that he means, hey, you would follow the glittering light outside of Plato’s cave, only to come back as the jerk who won’t stop telling everyone “the truth”, which is SO TRUE on so many levels. [Also, the nicest thing ever written about me, the challenge is on]

But, now, I find myself reevaluating my answer. I don’t think I could ever be content with just being happy, for many reasons, one of which is my neurotic tendencies. I put in my deposit for law school last week. Finally, after many melancholy talks loaded with insecurity [on my part], I have accepted Fordham as a good school, even though the aspiring elitist in me will always be remiss that I am not Ivy material. Oh, nothing like exclusivity to shake my self-esteem to the ground. But immediately, I enter a state of existential crisis, where I am questioning my choice of career especially since my passion and interest seem, so ostensibly, to lie somewhere else. [What does it mean that NYFW moves to Lincoln Center as I start law school right across the street? Nothing. Just checking] After seeing my friend and meeting all these random people my age in China, who have these amazing jobs with the liberty to do what they want, I came back with more than a little bitterness about my own station in life. While I have been mostly happy with my job for the last two years, I can’t help but feel like I didn’t get to exploit my full potential. Although I’ve learned a lot directly and indirectly from the job, I feel like it has kept me stagnant. I wish I could go back and do it over, maybe, even go to China (or somewhere similarly bold). Especially on a day where I owned on all fronts, speaking 4 languages back to back within the hour. I am frustrated.

Even though law school is the next step in what has been my plan since forever, I feel like I am somehow putting “real life” on pause, if not on rewind for a bit. As if I’m voluntarily going back to a (non allegorical) cave, when I could be doing something else. Therein lies the problem, I am never happy with what is. I’m constantly in an unsteady state of flux; just restless. Like today – I hit up the Jil Sander sale, even though I was lusting after all the fluffy weird sheer s/s 08 goodness, I forced myself to make “practical” purchases and came away with a shirt that goes perfectly with my one suit. Except the suit is Helmut Lang and not entirely conservative enough for a law firm interview really, but I’ve been trying to convince myself that it might. See what I mean? I always feel like I’m settling, one way or the other.

One day I’ll feel certain that I feel this way about life, and the next, I’m questioning myself. When I reach one goalpost, I create another, in so doing, I create uncertainty for myself, which never makes me happy. Therefore, “happy” becomes very theoretical.

shallow indulgences and a light tread in the deeper end.

or a glimpse into the riveting happenings that is my fabulous life.

Sunday was the last day of the semi-annual animal house survival of the fittest showdown Barney’s Warehouse Sale, which means pillaging through racks of shredded Lanvin and other names too dear to mention for the second time that day. [see: Brooklyn, we go hard] Honestly, it’s awesome finding that rare gem for 15% of the retail price, but in the process, I’ve wept for many a ripped bodice, broken paillete, and stained Balenciaga. As much as I love shafting bitches for 5″ talons and 100% soie tops, something has to be said for the satisfaction of coming away with the actual goods…

Sike, I love shafting bitches.

Anyway, post-sale and emerging with Marni and Margiela [Jil for Dado, zOMG, baby’s first Jil, aw], it was only natch to follow with celebratory caffeine¬† in the form of 75% foam cappuccinos and baguette slices that are just 20 points shy of the most average baguette normale in Paris. Syndicated brunch food, yay. Something has to be said for the amazing faux Nutella-esque spread, as it was so up my alley that I failed to even acknowledge the marmalade and jam.

Anyway we got to talking about where we are in life, what we want to do and a common decided indecisiveness when it comes to what next. As I continue residence in grad school purgatory, I’ve been considering and reconsidering my options or my wants. My wants — not those material wants characterized by instant gratification — are consistent, but at different moments, they wax and wane. When I graduated, I left college ready to plunder all the riches of the world that is to be my oyster. Also, I was ready to be back in New York in a more valid way than as a weekender seeking sanctuary from the twilight zone. Totes cheesy, but I was ready to savour it without a pending departure looming in the horizon, without having to worry that it will be out of my reach tomorrow, without it being some kind of frenzied speed consumption. So I trolloped around New York with no holds barred, like a little hussy, I steady chased the bounty that it had to offer. Although in hindsight, being that it was Steven’s last few months here, I might still be a little guilty of saturating a short time period with too much NY lovin’. Eventually I became restless anyway, I wanted a schedule, order, a plan, stability. I wanted to utilize and apply my spectacular skills and qualifications. So that’s my dilemma: on the one hand, I’d love to indulge in every Hedonist whims I can conceive. On the other hand, I LOVE accomplishing things. I’ve thought about taking another year off before law school, just to “eff around”. But honestly, I also cannot wait to go and finish law school, so I can move onto the next phase of my life. For real, to be so complex so as to be a paradox can be a gift and a curse. I can’t make up my mind to answer the calls of my reckless, I’m going to do what I want, make some bad calls and have a couple of mistakes, because I’m 22 and nothing can phase me or to be “boring” and stable.

D said he can’t make up his mind to stay here or go back to Asia like he’d planned to do after college. [y’all, being abroad changes your life forevs, seriously] He’s def going back in May to work for this director who’s totally “taken him under his wing”, but he’d gone to China back in the summer with the intention to stay for a reason. Life took him in another job and now he has this totally fabulous job with like real responsibilities that took him back here. So now, “it’s like we’re 30 and expect to have our shit together, meanwhile forgetting that we’re 22 and mad shit is totally permissible in a way that won’t ever be again.”

But then what? I told him that he should do as he please, because New York is so over right now. Get out there and frolick, because New York might as well be Missouri right now, it’s so saturated. Too much social climbing and gratuitous PR egostroking and d-ridin’, too many pseudo hipsters that front like they are anti-institution meanwhile working mad hard to prove they’re too legit to quit [New York]. I am not trashin’ it, I’m always going to love this place and miss it if and when I’m not here and yet I can’t really tell you in so many words why. It’s familiar and strange.

Alors, a la recherche de…quoi?