Through My Eyes

Timing was everything.

Posts Tagged ‘reflection

Completely Present And Available

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As I write this, I’m sitting in my parents’ home in Rio Vista. They moved here 5 years ago. It’s a gated senior community sitting on a golf course located an hour and 15 minutes northeast of San Francisco. I’m not sure how likely there are other 28 year-olds living at home in this community.

I arrived at SFO last night after having spent a month and a half in Asia, road-tripping through the U.S., and helping my sister settle into her new studio in Los Feliz, CA. For the most part, I was able to put aside any feelings of anxiety towards what I would be looking forward to upon returning ‘home.’ Being a new graduate in a challenging and competitive economy can raise fear, or it can be a blessing in disguise. Having supportive and loving parents who have welcomed me back into their home is allowing me to take some time in my next job and apartment search.

It’s really easy to rush into things for the sake of necessity, or really, what we think is necessary. I remember my first job out of UCSB. I moved up to the Bay because many of my friends had found work there, and my parents were living there at the time. I stayed with my parents for three months while working as a contractor in Google Blogspot’s legal department. Because a lot of Google contractors were dissatisfied with the unstability of the positions at that time, we continued to look for jobs with more definitive, or foreseeable, futures. I finally went to an interview at a real estate marketing startup in Oakland and secured an account management position. I should have known several things – I wasn’t ready to make cold calls selling ad services to huge development projects in Asia, the startup founder was literally funding the company from his own pockets, and this was not the job for me.

When I left for a technology services sales startup, I was then able to move into my own studio in the Piedmont area, eventually transition into a San Francisco apartment, save enough money for annual travel, live a very comfortable lifestyle, and even put away for a rainy day. That rainy day turned into a grad program at the Academy of Art.

Now that I’ve spent almost all of my savings on tuition for the last 18 months, I’m starting over again. This time, I want to take my time. I’m not rushing into anything, I’m going to do everything in my power NOT to feel the need to settle on something just because I want to get back to SF or Oakland – I’m going to look for something that feels right and is right for my skill set and personality. And if I don’t find it, I’m going to create it. There’s something to be said about being young and just plain ballsy. The optimism, the idealism – I still feel it within me. Sure, I’m more mature now, so that I’m realistic….but I do still feel a fire that tells me to go for things. Just do it. Nike was onto something.

I read this op-ed in the New York Times last night before going to bed. It was about how we self-impose traps of being too ‘busy’ in our everyday lives. For the past few years, I know that I’ve answered invitations, emails, text messages with, “I can’t right now – crazy busy.” How many of these ‘crazy busy’ days were because I overbooked or committed to events/workshops/shows I really didn’t need to attend? Too many times. As I sit here and look out the window, the pace of life is slow. I can swim in the evening, read old books, watch all the movies I’ve been wanting to see, re-cut versions of videos I’ve been wanting to finish, sift through all the footage that’s been shot on my new camera and do something with it, and…I can take some time to find the job (and home) that is right for me.

During the eight days on the road, Wendy and I encountered watercolor sunsets, hippies selling cheese at farmer’s markets, men fly-fishing hours on end, bison holding up traffic, reminders of the Native American presence throughout this country, people piling all of their belongings in cars, crossing one coast for the other, eyes filled with hope…it reassured me that life isn’t about how you fill up each of your days, how many people you see, how ‘busy’ you were – it’s about how you feel at the end of the day. Are you happy? Are you proud?

I hope this patience lasts…ask me how I feel in a month or two.

Written by winniewongsf

July 3, 2012 at 9:19 am

Title is Optional

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For one of my last classes this semester, I’m supposed to design a business card and create a personal website to show my portfolio reel, resume, and blah blah blah to potential clients and the general online public.

What I’m having difficulty with is coming up with a design, a brand, a name for my site. Having a name like Winnie Wong has always caught the (undesired) attention of teachers, classmates, co-workers, drive-thru cashiers, restaurant maitre d’s, acquaintances, and anyone else I’m introduced to. Trust me, If I could go back to being a fresh-off-the-boat 4 year-old, choosing my own name, knowing what I know now – I probably would’ve chosen Sara. But I’ve come to embrace it. The alliteration, the ease of which people actually remember it when they see me their second time, the references – everything from Winnie Cooper to Winnie the Pooh to Winnie, the daughter of Gordon Gekko from Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – it is all good.

But when it comes to naming my site, coming up with a name for a future production studio, I’m not sure Winnie Wong works. In fact, it’s caused me to lose sleep. Sleep that I’m not getting much of these days. (And I don’t mean that in a good way.)

At least, up until now. I was on gchat a little while ago, and a friend of mine, whom I hadn’t seen since his last visit back from Singapore, IM’d me. I’ve always had mentors here and there, and he was one of my first when I started working in SF back in ’06. He was literally my mentor because the company we were working for paired us up and said, “OK, Jeffrey, Winnie is new. Teach her your ways.” Or at least that’s how I’ll always think it went.

We would go on coffee breaks and chat about how things were going at work. We’d meet up for an occasional dinner with our significant others tagging along. We’d run into each other and end up talking for half an hour on the sidewalk. I always looked forward to talking with him because I knew that deep down, I could trust him. He always seemed to give me advice that looked out for my best interest. And he would always play devil’s advocate, helping me to see every side – not just the good, but the bad, the ugly.

Tonight, after catching up (he’s going to be a dad!), I told him about my predicament. (#firstworldproblems)

He first asked me what type of work I want to do after graduating. I told him that I’d love to produce some kind of travel or documentary content where I would help tell the stories of really interesting or eccentric characters in different parts of the world. He then asked why I was so hung up on naming my site or attempting to create a brand name for myself that isn’t my actual name. His actual words, “The name matters a lot less than the content, right?” I had to step back from that one. Of course it does.

JF: “You are the brand. Your name is the brand.”

WW: “I know, I’ve thought it through. I’ve tried things that encompass my name, but my name is so cheesy. So many W’s.”

JF: “People aren’t buying into a notion, or something crisp. They’re investing in you. Why do you think branding is important here?”

WW: “I think in any creative industry, aesthetic is almost as important as content. I think content takes time to build upon, but having a brand image or style that is tied to you makes you that much more memorable and creates a kind of enigma.”

JF: “Ah, ok. I think that’s the most important word of what you just said. First of all, I agree with everything. But it depends on what you’re after. Do you want to be an enigma?”

WW: “No, but I want someone to visit the site and say, ‘Wow, I want to stay here and spend some time here.’ Not just watching videos I produce or contribute to, but to go through to find out who I am and why I do the work I do. It’s a very personal thing.”

JF: “Yes. Obviously, my perspective is biased because I’ve known you for years, but I think you are the type of person who people want to get to know.”

WW: “I guess I want potential clients to be intrigued and also feel the need to reach out and find out more.”

JF: “I think that your name would be fine because it’s really you that people will want to get to know, not a brand name, it’s the personal element you just mentioned.”

WW: “It’s also really easy to get caught up in this whole thing about having a ‘style.’ Creatives are the most judgmental people ever. Ha.”

JF: “Design, aesthetic are really important, no doubt. I just don’t think a clever name is super important at first. Start with your name, and change it later if you like. As a consumer of information, I would rather start out knowing who you are and see you evolve into a brand, than start out as a brand and evolve into a different brand.

I can think of so many people that are successful brands, but I cant think of the people behind successful brand names. As a consumer, I always relate more to people than the brand, but that is just me. People have all different consumption habits. You summed it up well. You want people to engage with your work and you as an artist, and to me, that doesn’t sound like a brand, it sounds too human.”

WW: “I feel sort of caught up in differentiating myself from others in this field.”

JF: “I feel that lasting success comes to the people who put their content before their brand image, and ultimately, the content winds up creating the brand image. If you do one thing really really well, people will pin that on you as your image, whether you like it or not. Then, you have to keep moving forward and letting the content redefine who you are.”

And that is why he is a mentor. Thanks Jeffrey.

Written by winniewongsf

March 21, 2012 at 2:08 am

Thoughts on a Thursday

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A few weeks ago, I came across an article written by Kate Bolick called All the Single Ladies.

It’s not that I was relieved upon completing it, I felt more than ever like I could relate to this woman. Granted, the author is a refined thirty-nine, while I, at a ripe twenty-eight, know I have a long way to go and am in no rush to find a partner-in-crime. I associated emotions she described from her journey through several relationships, dating as a single woman, and being alone and single during long, cold winters with some of my own.

There have been instances when I’ve thought – “How/why the hell did I mess that one up? Will I, going forward, refer to him as the one that got away?” It’s hard not to direct the blame inward when I know that in these relationships, I made a lot of mistakes I’m not proud of.

It’s not to say that I don’t feel nostalgia when I think back on the ones that have mattered…

R, whom I met during my first year at UCSB, the on-again off-again boyfriend of three years – opened my eyes to global politics, my ears to Aesop Rock/Hieroglyphics/Dave Matthews, and accompanied me in painting Italy red during our study abroad in Siena…

D, whom my good friend Alex introduced me to the first week I arrived in the bay from SB – explored through Argentina, Brazil, and Chile and ate our way through unforgettable culinary experiences at some of the tastiest restaurants in the bay, both of us gorging on the revolutionary food scene that was happening here around ’06. He was the one who forced me to confront problems by communicating openly, honestly, and most of all, vulnerably…

A, whom I met on a mutual friend’s birthday ‘party bus’ driving thirty of us up to Tomales Bay for a day of cold beers, grilled oysters, and endless flabongos (it was, I kid you not, flabongo at first sight) – discovered where to find the best drinks in town, taught me what it meant to be in multiple fantasy leagues, convinced me to fly up to Seattle just to see Gonzaga get whooped during last year’s Battle in Seattle (spending only 24 hrs there), and which indie bands were going to get SF hipsters shakin’ their tail feathers at the Fox Theater.

Now, when I meet someone, I know what it is I’ll be looking for – that is, when I’m ready to commit. Most of the guys whom I’ve taken more seriously have been pretty damn well-rounded: intelligent, better communicators than I, knowledgeable about sports, open-minded, up for trying anything, music junkies, foodies (but not food snobs), can show you a great time being crazy and out all night, but also relish a night in, wine glass in hand, vegging on a couch. So why did these relationships end if they were such great guys?

I guess they just weren’t the right ones for me. I’m learning to be okay with that.

Written by winniewongsf

December 2, 2011 at 12:01 am

Dude, Where’s My Mojo?

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No, not that mojo. Although, I could use an extra dose these days. It seems like the guys who are interested are not those whom I’d want to be involved with and those whom I am intrigued by are not ones I should entertain the idea of pursuing. Alright, enough with the internal conflict; it’s been a weird month in that department.

Lately, I’ve been looking down. You know when you travel, and you become this hungry sponge that’s unable to satiate your thirst for anything and everything around you? You walk the streets constantly looking up and down, and back and forth, and side to side – so as not to miss a thing. You go to bars, theaters, restaurants, museums, alley ways alone with your journal or camera, and it feels liberating to talk to the strange old man next to you. You wake up every day, excited to be unprepared for whatever might happen in the next hour, that you might get lost, that you might make the wrong turn and end up in a situation you won’t know how to describe to your friends back home. But lately, I’ve been looking down, straight ahead, and walking around like the living dead. I feel like some days go by, and I have literally felt nothing. Not one single emotion.

I feel slightly claustrophobic, trapped. I feel like this semester, even though I’m taking a few classes that were just what I was looking for, is sucking the life out of me. I feel like I might be ready to leave San Francisco, after calling it home for 5 years. The weekends are starting to blend in with the weekdays, and I can only take so many more random Saturday nights on Polk street. It’s not that I don’t do other things. It’s that school, work, and other obligations have taken up so much time – so much of that free time I had a year ago – that I’ve forgotten how to be a sponge again.

I’m divided between what to do when I will have a break this winter and between graduating and going full-time next summer. Should I go to Toronto and New York next month to visit family, or go somewhere I haven’t been? Should I fly down to Mexico City in June to do some shooting for my doc project, or visit my old roommate in Abu Dhabi and explore some of the east? These sound like questions that belong here. Ugh.

I guess the only way to look at all of this is – this phase, funk, emo-binge – it’s going to pass. I just need to my mojo back.

Written by winniewongsf

November 17, 2011 at 12:30 am

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