It’s raining right now. My incense is almost burned out and I’m three-fourths through my coffee and all the way through my honey and almond butter toast. San Francisco has no winter but does have a rainy season, and she may be small but she is fierce as shit. One thing I like about the rain is that it gives me an excuse to not do anything. In the same way, nice weather means there’s extra pressure to do outdoor activities. I can’t complain though because this city has the best weather of my life.
Here’s an impression of me going on a date:
Girl: Girls don’t talk like this. You’re bad at dialog.
Me: Okay, note taken, but could you be less mean?
Girl: Well you’re writing this, so maybe you want someone to be mean. Is that because you secretly hate yourself?
Me: That wasn’t less mean, and no. I think I actually love myself a lot. I mean sometimes I struggle with my flaws but everyone does sometimes. Out of my friends I think I’m one of the more emotionally healthy –
Girl: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Healthy people don’t sit around writing stories about how healthy they are. And the fact that your fantasy is telling a girl that you’re healthy speaks volumes.
Me: What do you mean?
Girl: You romanticise emotional pain, but you’re ashamed to admit that because you know it’s immature – it’s just something you picked up from books and TV. You want a girl who sees you as broken but loves you anyway because that would prove that she really-really loves you. Also I think it’s fucked up that you couldn’t even come up with a name for my character.
Me: I love you.
It was raining on Friday when I went to Local Edition for Rosita’s 24th. I admitted to Cameron (was that his name?) that I haven’t dated in years. He said I seemed like I would be good at dates. I was flattered, of course. I had told Jen that the trick is to talk about FORD. Family, Occupation, Recreation, and D? What is D? “Dreams?” Jen suggested. Oh yeah, Dreams. I fucking forgot Dreams. And if that isn’t the best summary of what my life starting from college has been like, I don’t know what is. I used to always talk about how I wanted to move to New York to try and cut it as an artist. Now I’m 22 and I could actually do that, but I don’t, and I’m not sure why not. Whether it’s because I’m afraid I wouldn’t be good enough, or whether it’s just the sheer inertia of having a job and an apartment here, it makes me wonder if I really want to do it or I just say I want to. But here’s a secret: I’m jealous that Marty’s job will be to make music. I don’t care if I make more money than him. He makes more music than me. Once in college Apoorv asked Marty to transcribe a jazz piece for his brother’s wedding and I was sad that he didn’t ask me. The flip side of that jealousy was that my senior year Marty inspired me to be a better music director for Kopi. I’m grateful for that.
I told several people throughout my senior year to join only one acapella group. “It’s too easy to have one foot out when you’re in two groups,” I explained. “It’s not about the time commitment, if you’re organized you can easily make two groups work. The thing is, being in both G-Men and Kopi meant that to the G-Men I was always also-a-Kopi, and to Kopi I was always also-a-G. I really didn’t feel like I fit in with either group until a few years in. I don’t regret choosing to be in two groups because I love both, but I don’t recommend it to other people.” Now that I’m out of school I’m insanely grateful that I have friends from both groups. I don’t know if I would change my recommendation, but I do know that there’s no wrong way to be a G-Man or a Kopi.
This weekend I installed a music programming software called Max MSP. I wanted to get it working with a patch called “shifter~” because I read that its how Jacob Collier gets his synthesizer to harmonize with his voice on the notes he plays. I couldn’t get that patch to work but I did find some tutorials that taught me how to make a vocoder. I used my mic and Sijia’s speakers as an amp and played for hours in the living room, singing everything from Daft Punk to Imogen Heap. I’m thinking about getting a keyboard that I can use for MIDI input so I don’t have to use the trackpad to change notes. Even if I don’t, though, it sounds fucking good! I’m going to take it to the next electronic music jam session at work and hopefully impress everyone.
Mark’s friend Yuma was always a stronger musician than me. He double majored in music and engineering, and after school got a job at Google in NYC. After a few years of saving up money he quit to focus on music. I wonder if having more encouragement from my parents would have pushed me to find a career in music. I don’t think I resent them for not encouraging me, but I do think that when I’m an uncle or a father I’ll be more encouraging. I write a lot about how my life sometimes feels stagnant and I feel like I don’t have any agency. But the truth is I also sometimes feel like I do control my own future. When I take a step back, I can find moments in my life when I have made choices which define who I am. My extracurriculars were always music. In college I probably spent more time rehearsing than in class. And even now I spend hours on the digital piano at work and hours singing in choirs. Dan Harmon says the way to know whether or not you should be an artist is to ask yourself: if you never achieved any fame and barely scraped by for the rest of your life, and the only redemption was that you were making art, would you be happy? I don’t really know, and I’m not sure anyone really knows, but maybe.