Category Archives: Friends

My First Film: Indiegogo Crowdfunding PGSS Campaign

I love movies. I try not to think about the thousands of hours I’ve wasted repeatedly watching “Fight Club,” “Being John Malkovich,” and some of my other favorites. When we went skiing in Utah one year and stumbled upon Sundance, I was amazed by how bad some of those movies were- amazed and inspired- like, “Wow, I could definitely make a movie that gets into Sundance because these suck!”

This week I began to see how hard filmmaking can be because I’ve finally made my first “movie,” an Indiegogo campaign video for PGSS. It is 54 seconds long and took me at least 20 hours to make. I just finished it a minute ago and I’ll be so sad if no one watches it. I’m a perfectionist about certain things- I think 80% of the movie has not changed since hour 5 while 10% of the movie has changed 1,000 times. Obviously I wasn’t a perfectionist about a lot of stuff like sound editing- I think I’m not super into sounds. During the creation of this film, I learned to use and hate iMovie with its infuriating bugs and basic features that simply don’t work (come on, Apple- how hard is it to figure out a file system? This is basic stuff), although it was really easy to learn.

It’s not “Exit through the Gift Shop,” but “Save PGSS” is my first video so I’ll probably watch it repeatedly until I make my next movie. The footage came from past years of students filmed during their summers at PGSS, and also from Ray He, Dan HL, and mitri. Thank you guys so much for making videos of how PGSS has changed your lives! I wouldn’t be surprised if this film launches you all into well-deserved movie-stardom.

So yeah, watch my movie debut and go to
http://indiegogo.com/pgss. Please tweet and share this video because the algorithm that selects videos onto Indiegogo’s front page cares about tweets, etc. If you tweet and share this video, I will get my cat to do a flip for you!

Cool fact: if you show this video to someone and they aren’t moved to tears and immediately inspired to tweet it, Facebook it, and donate to PGSS, you should stab them in the chest where you will find a mess of mangled metal wires instead of a beating human heart.

Cat

In case anyone was wondering, the secret topic of this blog is This Cat!

I got this cat from an animal shelter in Chicago. I’d wanted a dog but Mom convinced me this was a bad idea until I bought my farm. Plus I was never home anyway. But there comes a time in every person’s life when one needs animal company.

Although I had been seeking a really old cat that no one else would adopt, and I think someone else would’ve adopted this cat because she’s so pretty and friendly, I chose this cat because the instant she was in my lap she pushed her face firmly into my face and then into my hand, infecting me with her weird mind control virus that now dictates all my thoughts. Like all the other cats 1 to 9 years old, this cat was labeled “1 year old kitten.”

After adopting her, I didn’t give her a name for a long time. I don’t know, I just didn’t speak to her verbally- I’m not going to talk to a dumb cat. Her food was stinky, expensive, raw, gluten free goop and I lavished her with many toys and useless, ugly cat items she ignored, like scratching posts/boards and catnip. Her favorite toys are things covered in fur. She particularly liked to lick and worry my furry, winter hat made of 1000 bunny rabbits. Because she grew bored of toys after possessing them for a while (who doesn’t?), I’d often go buy her different copies of her toys to briefly renew her interest.

This cat desperately craves human company. When I would come home, she’d be at the door waiting for me, and then follow me around the house. If I barred her from a room I was in, she’d freak out and meow, pawing at the door and pushing it with her head, getting creative about forcing her way in. Once she ripped a chunk of fur out of her head by scraping her tiny skull so hard against the door to get it ajar. A visitor remarked, “That is so annoying. No wonder she got put up for adoption.” I don’t like cat fur on the bed so I wouldn’t allow her into the bedroom, which taught her to possessively scramble into the bedroom in front of me if she sensed I was headed that way. Once she was trying to sneak into the bedroom when I was exiting to let someone into the house and I put my foot out to stop her, pinning her against the wall and knocking the air out of her. I frantically asked my visitor, “I squished my cat! Do you think she’s ok??” I’ve often worried she was in pain when she appeared to have forgotten getting the keys dropped on her eye area because her face is just impassive. Who knows what she’s feeling?

When I’d check the mail in the hallway before entering the house, I’d hear her faint, repetitive meows coming from inside. Had she been doing that constantly in my absence or does she only start up when she hears someone outside? Does she do it whenever anyone is outside or only when I’m outside? How could she possibly know it was me and not someone else? I’d hoped she’d only start when she knew it was about time for me to return home, but unless she knows how to count the days of the week, when I’d come home at earlier hours on the weekends she’d still be meowing, waiting. The thought of this poor cat mournfully meowing all day, filled with endless hope that the next step would be the step of her master entering the house at last, broke my heart. Nevertheless I left her alone for days at a time because I often visited my parents on weekends.

Finally I had to go to London for a week. I told my mom I was worried because I’d never left this cat for more than a few days, and Mom promptly said she’d come to watch this cat. “Wow, that’s a VIP cat!” my coworker said. While I was away, without asking my permission, my mom named this cat Mimi. Mimi loves to cuddle and sleep in your lap. If she hears strange sounds she jumps up and growls. What can she hope to gain by growling when she’s so small and easily mastered in a physical contest? What a cute cat! She likes to play tag and hide and seek. During tag, she leaps up into the air and gently tags you with her front paws. If she senses she won’t win the game, she lies down and rolls her tummy upwards to peer at you, “What? Were we playing something? I recall winning.”

Is it Tiger Mom of me to constantly suspect this cat of fatness? There are certain positions from which Mimi looks flabby, and when she rolls into those poses I invariably exclaim, “What a fat cat!” But most of the time when she isn’t displaying her fluffy stomach she looks very trim and healthy, a perfectly formed, sparkling, white cat. I used to have ambitions for her to learn to use the toilet like those cats on Youtube, but she did not find the videos instructional. I accepted her for what she is, a stupid cat that uses the disgusting litter box.

When I showed a picture of her to mitri and went on about how she was the greatest, most wonderful cat, the first thing he said was, “She looks like Uncle Fester.” She eventually bit and scratched mitri, as she has apparently everyone except me and my mom. “She’s even purring!” he protested. As I got him Neosporin, I said, “I don’t think purring means what you think it means. She’s probably purring to calm herself of her blood lust.” I tend to think that when she bites someone they secretly deserve it. Even if their offense is totally unclear because they just met her, they must somehow have wronged an animal somewhere in their hearts or in a past life and are getting their just desserts. What a great cat!

The next time I went to London, I asked my coworkers who wanted to watch her. Some demurred to help (“Didn’t your cat fall into the toilet?”), but Mingyuan volunteered. When Mingyuan met Mimi, the first thing that happened was that Mimi fiercely bit Mingyuan’s cautious hand. No blood, but she definitely had him.

When I got back from London, Mingyuan reported that they had gotten along famously! When I came to fetch her, this disloyal cat did not appear to know me, so I yanked her out of her pathetic hiding place and briskly stuffed her into her carrier without regard for her piteous cries (this episode turned out to be a recurring theme).

Mingyuan liked her so well he got his own cat as a result. Little did he know that Mimi is not the average cat since the cat he adopted turned out to be the exact opposite, hiding all the time. Whenever we’d discuss Mingyuan’s cat, Dilip would say wistfully, “I wish This Cat would hide more.”

The months before my mom died, I left this cat with Andrew. He said that she meowed when not allowed in his room, filling him with such guilt that when he lay in his bed he imagined he could still hear her cries, which was impossible because he’d heartlessly locked her in another room far away. When I came to collect this cat from Andrew, she coldly snubbed me, once again inspiring a businesslike stuffing into her carrier. Mimi hates her carrier and ceaselessly meows when in it. Sometimes her meow is very loud and frightening as she thrashes and twists against the carrier’s mesh, forcing me to channel Pharaoh’s stone heart.

Earlier this year, I started traveling a lot. When I realized I’d only be in my NYC apartment less than 5 months out of this year, I wanted someone to watch Mimi. Although several deserving people asked to live in my apartment and watch Mimi, I chose Jason because he always feeds me, plus he’s so freaking responsible and actually appeared eager to read the long document I write for everyone who has ever watched this cat. This document details things like how to best pet her to avoid getting bitten, which freaked Jason out and caused him to unfairly prejudice many Asian women from petting this poor, lonesome cat.

Once I accidentally cut Mimi’s claw too close to the quick and she let out one low yowl as her paw welled with a single, dark drop of blood. I felt really, really bad but didn’t know how to make it up to her so I just let her have long nails for another week. Due to laziness, I let this cat scratch all my furniture- Dilip calls it “sharpening her nails.” Because Jason did not want to attempt cutting this cat’s nails, Tony, who knew this cat’s ways from a previous visit, came all the way down from 100th street or wherever to do this task. Apparently the experience was so traumatizing with the banshee-like sounds this cat screamed, that everyone in the room subtly feared this cat forever, except Tony who dominates any animal and probably any machine.

When Mingyuan’s wife said she preferred Mimi to her own cat, we decided to try moving Mimi to Chicago to stay with them. Mimi wouldn’t like sharing her humans with a second cat, but Mingyuan’s cat is timid and would probably just let Mimi do whatever she wanted. Upon releasing her into Mingyuan’s place, Mimi crept into every nook in a cautious crouch, her tail down low compared to its customary perky lift. Mingyuan’s cat hid in the closet where she had ruined all of Mingyuan’s shirts by thoroughly coating them with fur.

A few weeks later, Mingyuan reported that everyone was quite happy. When I went to visit, Mimi ran and hid after looking at me blankly without recognition. She even hid under the bed with Mingyuan’s cat, which they said had never happened before because Mimi normally avoids the other cat. Such callous betrayal, such disregard for my pain, such intentional cruelty!

I just want this cat to be happy, despite her many betrayals and willingness to forget all about me. Is this what parents feel for their children- disdain, pride, possessiveness, and helpless hurt? Maybe from her view I’ve betrayed her many times by forcing her into her carrier and onto planes and into other people’s houses. This stupid cat. Doesn’t she know that if I thought there was a fire, the first thing I’d grab is this cat despite the many bars of gold I have lying around my house and all my diamond encrusted furniture? That’s so irrational because this cat is worth like $50 tops. How humiliating. Cat, what have you done to me!

Bay Area Vibe

Everyone in NYC wants to be a star in some ferociously competitive industry, like finance, ¬†entertainment, fashion. Every waiter wants to be a rock musician or top chef or something. Everyone’s very ambitious, yet the elites turn out to be old, white, male, tall, and business-y.

As an ambitious, driven person, the NYC atmosphere suited me better than Chicago, where I lived for the first 3 years after college. Chicago is a great city, but it’s definitely Midwest. People get married at age 23 and live super balanced, normal lives. They leave work at reasonable hours to go hang out at sporting events. Not feeling compelled to get married or settle down anytime soon, I sometimes felt out of place in Chicago.

Californians are as ambitious as New Yorkers, but in a more gadgety, nerdy way. Everyone seems to genuinely believe their new app is going to save the world, whereas most New Yorkers don’t seem to consider that when they talk about their work. Unlike in NYC, the successful Bay area people are nerdy, young, and not always white, male, or tall. I am nerdy, young, Asian, female, and average height. No wonder I keep going back to the Bay!

Here’s some photos of new places we hadn’t gone to before: French Laundry, Muir woods, Napa, Sonoma.

Staying with Anna at Mobi Headquarters

I’m trying to write some shorter posts because Anna said all of my posts are pages and pages long. Here’s a short post:

When Anna invited us to stay with her in Lincoln 30 minutes from MIT, Dilip was like, “I don’t know…” I told Anna I’d try to convince him.

Winding up the green, wooded driveway, we both said, “Let’s stay a few extra days.” I said this without even seeing the house- the sparkling smell of the air was enough. Maybe I was just overjoyed to be back on US soil.

A VC gave Anna and Nii the house for their headquarters. Although we didn’t use the underground movie theater or roof deck hot tub, we made good use of the gigantic pool. I loved all the light coming into the house- many walls were windows and the sunroof in each room made the air bright. Also who knew there was such a thing as doors in the back of your closet opening into the laundry room so you could put clothes straight into your drawers from the laundry machine? And there was a tiny treehouse and groomed grassy fields flanked by trees to tumble around on.

In addition to Mobi, Anna runs the Vehicle Design Summit and is doing a fashion startup Lorien.¬†Anna grows corn and other plants in her greenhouse area and prepares yummy foods for us that I devour while imagining murderers creeping into the huge house through one of its million entrances to take showers or something. Every time I pass the sauna I speed walk in case there’s a sweaty murderer lurking inside. This is why I need a pack of ferocious dogs- to alert me of squirrels and murderers.