Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Continuing from this post about things I’ve let go, recently I’ve been thinking about my Game Boy Micro.

This portable console was one of my favorite devices. I already had a Game Boy Advance, but it wasn’t back-lit and somewhat bulky. The Game Boy Micro changed all that, with a beautiful screen and small form factor. The Super Mario 20th Anniversary design looked cool and felt great, considering the plastic bodies of regular Game Boy Micros. One of my favorite memories is binging on Advance Wars during a Christmas trip to Hong Kong in 2006.

So, why sell it last year along with all my other stuff? At the time, we were planning on moving back to Hong Kong, and space was limited. Add to that the fact that I hardly ever used the Game Boy Micro anymore, and the answer seemed clear. Looking back now, however, maybe it wasn’t so clear. One of the reasons I stopped using it was that my eyesight got worse and it was no longer comfortable looking at the screen. The difference was magnified when compared with my PSP, which also has a GBA emulator. Another reason was I didn’t really play GBA games anymore.

What bothers me about it now is that there were some things we brought back to Hong Kong that we haven’t used at all, like a Google Chromecast. I could have left the Chromecast and kept the GBM. I mean, it was so small, how much weight would it have added? Also, since I’ve bought reading glasses here, I no longer have an issue with seeing small things in front of my face. When I use my glasses before bed to look at my devices, I am reminded of my Game Boy Micro. Lastly, now that we have free time and are no longer focused on getting rid of all our things so we can move, I’ve found myself playing a lot of older games – games that would be awesome to play on original hardware.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and I know that the decision to sell the GBM was the right one at the time. Like losing anything in life, it takes time to get over. The reality is that very few people have the space to keep every single thing they’ve ever acquired – a fact that I’ve been coming to terms with this past year. I will be happy to see these photos in the future when I’m randomly reviewing my website.

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition – bought April 18, 2006 from Circuit City Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California. Sold September 5, 2017 via eBay.

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition

Tell Me About Yourself

It was my third week on the job, a Wednesday. Up until this point, I had spent a week in training and two doing simple tasks like swapping keyboards and mice, learning the culture, and meeting various people. But on this day, which also happened to be an anniversary with my wife, I got my first major test, a desk swap.

On the surface, a desk swap sounds simple: unplug a bunch of cables, move the hardware, and connect them again. But these workstations were neither simple nor single; each desk had two machines connected with KVM switches; one had four heavy and thick (for LCDs) 21-inch monitors, the other had six. All the monitors were attached with heavy metal arms to rails on the desk. The traders had his or her preferences for which machine displayed on which monitor. These were also SBFI trading desks, which means that the cables are built into the desk, and that if they’re not properly labeled, it’s a trial-and-error process to figure out which cable is which. At the time I didn’t even know what a trading desk was, and I tried to pull out individual cables, which complicated things.

I was given fifteen minutes to do the job, starting at 18:45, with my scheduled off time at 19:00. Of course, knowing what I know now, fifteen minutes is not a realistic time in which to get the job done. Even at my peak, after I had mastered this job after a year, it would have taken at least thirty minutes, barring any unforeseen issues. This was a test from my manager. How would I handle it?

Of course, my manager did not know that it was my anniversary, and that I was planning to have dinner with my wife. We weren’t supposed to do overtime without pre-approval, either. With these looming over my head, I had extra desire to finish quickly, but it was my first time doing this and I couldn’t rush it. And it was the only window in which to get this done: the voice guys had already come and swapped the dealer boards, so there was no going back.

In my innocence, I thought it would be easiest to physically swap all the monitors. Considering the users’ preferences and that even identical model monitors can have variations in color and viewing angles, it seemed like the right thing to do. After all, in the small office environment where I had last worked, I’d do stuff like this all the time. I quickly learned that things were different in this environment.

First, as mentioned before, these motherfuckers were heavy. The monitors were 21-inch professional-grade NEC LCDs, three inches thick. The metal arms, then, had to be just as heavy duty in order to hold up these monitors to the rails. Second, the rails are situated at the back of the desk, furthest away from you. You have to lean forward and extend your arms while holding something that weighs like a couple of bowling balls, and you have to precisely guide the metal arms into the rails, then hold up the weight while you lock them down. And sometimes the locking levers were stripped so you had to manually position them a certain way or the whole thing would come crashing down, or you’d fuck up your fingers getting them caught in the rail. Seriously, I don’t think it was even physically possible for some of my skinnier coworkers to do this.

Third, on some monitors, the cable screws would be frozen in the holes, and no amount of twisting or even using a screwdriver could unfreeze them. This was a blessing in disguise for me though because this is how I learned that moving all the monitors didn’t make sense. In the end, I just moved the two over to the other desk and arranged both to match their originals.

Must have been the Hong Kong humidity
Must have been the Hong Kong humidity

All this time, I’m sweating profusely in my wool slacks, cotton undershirt, and button-down dress shirt, the standard uniform for this company’s IT staff, regardless of the physical demands of the job. On the third day of this job, three weeks prior, my 15-year-old pair of dress shoes gave out right in the middle of training, and I had to run down to the mall to get a new pair. Unfortunately for me, this was a luxury mall, and even the cheapest pair of shoes ran several hundred US dollars. If I was going to spend hundreds of dollars on shoes, I figured I’d at least get a pair that I thought looked good. Somehow, in the end, the shoes I bought cost nine hundred dollars, and I walked out of the store in a daze.

So here I am in my nine-hundred-dollar shoes, crawling and squatting underneath desks, pulling out wheeled trays with sharp metal edges on which 50-pound metal computer towers sat. These shoes were meant for going to a wedding, or a ball, or perhaps wearing to work by those whom I was moving these workstations for, not for physical activity. But I needed to bend my feet to get under the desk, and the leather was hard. Well, I had to do it, and when I finally sold the shoes on eBay last year the crease was still there.

Crease
See the crease? Sold for $170.

Now, it was 20:30, and with the workstations physically configured, it was time to test and make sure everything was where they were supposed to be. Fire up each workstation, confirm they are displaying on the correct monitors, confirm the KVM number matches, and confirm they can ping the Exchange server. Yes! Time to go, time to have a nice dinner with my wife, and time to worry about the true test tomorrow morning when the traders come in to work. Welcome to life in frontline IT support, investment-bank style.

Still Smiling
Still smiling after a hard day. Bon appetit!

An Explanation

I actually haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth – I’ve just moved to the other side of it, again. It’s a journey that probably started back in September of 2016, when JC and I decided to come back here. At that time we had been staying with our parents for over a year, and things actually weren’t so great. You can see it in my posts from the time, from hinting that I was realizing how much our parents fucked us up to how I tried to convince myself that things were good. There was even a list of things that I missed from Hong Kong.

The first time around in Hong Kong we still thought of our parents’ places as home, and kept things there. But this time would be different. Having been at home for a year, I realized how tethered we still were to our parents, how we weren’t really as independent as we thought. No, if we were to leave this time, I would not use my mom’s house as a storage unit. I would take care of all my shit, whether that meant taking it with me or getting rid of it. From the past year of museum posts and magazine scans, you can see what I decided.

If I had the money, and the means to make that money, I would stay in the Bay Area. Even as we were selling our things and packing our suitcases I told JC that Hong Kong actually isn’t so great, we already gave it a go, and we came back to the USA. But where would we stay in the Bay Area? We tried looking for a place to live in early 2016. I actually had a job with decent hours and pay. But it was a shit life, a draining life. Work all day doing something you don’t like, ride in a stinky train before and after, and repeat daily. Hong Kong would be the same, but at least the train wouldn’t be stinky. I wouldn’t have to worry about my surroundings all the time. But I’d still have to deal with the shitty parts of living here. In the end, given a bunch of shitty choices, we picked the least stinky one.

So this is where we are now, more than 6 months back in Hong Kong. Despite now being independent, we’re still not as happy as we’d like to be. Adulting is fucking hard, and the more you live and experience, the more it seems like it’s all bullshit. JC is working and dealing with office politics, and I am not, a repeat of early 2014. As I posted back then, I still got nothin’, no motivation to work, no hunger for money, no plans for the future. I still just want to play basketball and video games, read books, and drink Scotch. We can’t exclusively do those things because we don’t have money, but if we commit ourselves to earning money, then we won’t have time to do those things. What a vicious turn of events.

I often think of things to post here, about life and our current situation, and the future. And yet, when the time comes, it seems difficult to organize all my thoughts. We’re not quite 40 yet, but life seems tiring. Is this all there is? What’s the meaning? Is there even supposed to be a meaning? Why does it seem like most people are deceiving themselves? Or are we the ones deceiving ourselves?

I’m looking for a job now, so I won’t post this just yet, because despite my angst, I understand how the world works. Just more bullshit, right? For the record, I started this entry in January, and today is April 11. Let’s see what the actual date will be when I finally post…

There Are Times

MGH Disk 1 of 2, Street Fighter 2 Turbo for the Super Famicom
MGH Disk 1 of 2, Street Fighter 2 Turbo for the Super Famicom

There are times when I am reminded of something I once had, and I feel sad.

There are times when looking at something triggers a memory of an object I once had, an object that I purposefully disowned. I ask myself whether it was really necessary. I wanted to be an adult, to stand on my own two feet, to not become attached to material possessions. Even had I not desired so, I would not have the physical space to hold all my seemingly precious objects that I only think about and cherish when an associated memory brings them back into the forefront.

Tonight I randomly decided to look at one of the manuals from the SNES mini, the one for SF2 Turbo, and I thought of the generic Capcom stick at my mother’s house and how it no longer has an SNES to connect to, and how even if I did I no longer have the game copier or the floppy disks to load the game from. Those are painful thoughts for me. From the time I acquired those possessions to last year when I disowned them, I knew that if I ever had any desire at all to experience the originals, I could. But now, no matter what, regardless of whether I go back to my old room, it’s impossible.

It’s like with my dead cousins, there’s no way back to those times, and no way forward to reminisce about those times. It’s all only inside my head, and maybe my heart, and that’s the reality of life and its fleeting nature.

First Date

I originally posted this here on February 11, 2018 @ 02:56 but later un-posted it because I thought that maybe I was airing too much of my “dirty laundry”. But then I remembered how I wrote about fearing making a caricature of myself, being afraid to post my real thoughts and feelings, so now the post is back. Hopefully, it stays that way.

There doesn’t seem to be anything great about aging at all. My eyes are going. My memory is going. The main purpose of this post is to preserve a memory from adolescence, the first date that I ever went on. Sprinkled in is some parental resentment that has bubbled up during these past couple of years. As you can see, there was a flurry of activity on this site in the first half of 2017, with a dramatic slowdown and a few inconsequential posts in the latter half, followed by no activity at all these past few months. We finally moved back to Hong Kong, because we couldn’t take living with our parents anymore. I’ve been mourning the end of the first half of my life. Perhaps I’ll explain further at a later date, but for now here is the first post in a long while, my first ever date.

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To a person from a normal, loving family, it would never occur to them that another family could be so broken that it would produce a person who did not know how to express his own feelings. I was taught to never approach a love interest because that would make me “less valuable. Let them come to you, that’s how you know you’re a catch.” Sadly, as a result of this type of thinking, my sister, who is only a couple of years younger than I am has never regularly dated a person and has probably never known love. My mother continues to infantilize her today, advocating a policy of “there’s no rush, whatever will be will be”, which means she probably never will.

My first date was with a girl named Julia from my class. It was probably around ’92 or ’93, because I remember my dad taking care of us at that time. Those were the years when my mother had to return to Hong Kong to sort out her legal status. Anyhow, I remember at the time that it was just two classmates hanging out, but maybe I was just dense.

So Julia came to meet me at my old house, that little tiny apartment that I’ve mentioned before. My dad was super (and unusually) happy to meet her, maybe because his son was going on a date, or maybe because Julia was white. My dad and his side of the family have always had white-worship, something not uncommon amongst wannabe upper-class Chinese people. I remember the gray metal gate at that place when I recall this memory. Also, introducing Julia to my dad inside the kitchen which was also the entryway and first room when entering the apartment.

Julia may have been coming from a play rehearsal. She was into the arts and in later years when I looked her up I was glad to see that she continued on the thespian path. I remember her giving me a flyer to go see her performance.

First place I remember going to is Mission Dolores. Despite having lived in the Mission for years, I’d never actually been to the place it was named after. In the years since, I haven’t gone either. I was amazed to see a graveyard and to learn that cemeteries aren’t allowed in San Francisco, with the church being one of the few exceptions.

Next, I think we went to the Randall Museum. For all these years, I would drive by and see the green sign, and have a feeling that this was where I went with Julia, but I never confirmed it until today, when I looked up some photos after reading of its remodeling. There’s no doubt now that we went there.

It’s foggy but I think there were animal displays. That’s all I remember of the interior. But it would seem I remembered the exterior all these years and just never knew it was Randall. When I googled it tonight, I saw the little hilltop where Julia and I sat on some rocks to appreciate the view of the city from up there. It was cold, and she put her arms around me. Thinking about it now at this moment, I remember that she was wearing a gray sweater. The sky was gray as well.

When she put her arms around me, I remember being confused. Did she like me? I tried looking at her face for a clue, but she had this cool look, like she was just taking in the moment, a look of contentment. She inhaled the crisp air through her nose.

Looking back at it now, I think she did like me, but I was completely clueless. I didn’t know how to enjoy that moment at that time, filling my head instead with inconsequential thoughts. Typing this out now, I remember my heart beating fast. I wish someone had told me about love back then, even the puppy variety, and that there was nothing wrong with it. My family treated it as a mutually-exclusive enemy of education.

After this, I remember being in Chinatown, specifically next to the Pagoda Theater in a Chinese restaurant. I’d eaten there with my family before and after watching HK movies next door. I recall introducing and explaining wonton noodles to Julia, and she seemed to like the dish. I don’t remember how we got there, but it seems logical that we might have taken the N or the J downtown before transferring to a 30 Stockton or a 45.

The next thing I remember is dinner. I think I was supposed to go home, but we were having such a good time that we wanted to keep going. I called my dad from a payphone outside the restaurant, and I think I also called my college-age cousin to ask for a ride later on. The restaurant was at a corner, an Italian place in North Beach where we had pizza. One of the streets might have been Grant, with the other being the one that goes up to Coit Tower.

I think it was my first time having pizza in an actual restaurant. Since then, I’ve tried to find a pizza restaurant like that, without success. The closest with a similar vibe would be the pizza place Admiral Kirk went to with the whale biologist in Star Trek IV, but apparently that’s not really in SF. Maybe I was just trying to chase a feeling that can never be duplicated.

The last place we went to before my cousin picked us up was Pier 39. I don’t remember how we got there or even what we did there. It was definitely wet and cold. We sat on a bench near the vehicle waiting area, on the left side (vs. the right where the arcade used to be). This time, Julia took my hand. It was an incredible feeling. We held hands until my cousin arrived.

When Julia got out of my cousin’s two-door car, she hit her head. It was on Army Street, and my cousin’s car was a silver Acura Integra. I can still see that image inside my head. Later, my cousin and his girlfriend took me to McDonald’s in Serramonte and I shared the day’s activities with them over a sundae. They were excited for me just from talking to Julia in the car, asking me if I liked her and all that. I think on my end I still wasn’t sure if it was a date.

The next school day I remember sitting in reg and our mutual friend Emily telling me she’d heard about the date, and asking whether I’d go out with Julia again. I recall being a bit wishy-washy about it, giving off an impression that I wasn’t interested. In the coming weeks, I didn’t really talk to Julia much, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, there was one interaction where the disappointment was clearly visible on her face. When I finally saw it, it was years later, in hindsight.

In my mind, I thought that if she liked me, she would ask me out again. I had no way of knowing that what my mother taught me was so fucking ridiculous.

Over the years, I’d see Julia around the neighborhood every so often. Things were always cool between us and we’d ask each other how things were and all, but we would never go further. I mean, not in a continuing-from-Pier-39 type of further, but more like an extended conversation. We would say bye and then not see each other for years again. At one point, I said that the next time I ran into her, I’d tell her how I really felt back then. But sadly, the last time I thought I saw her last year, I chickened out and didn’t even go up to her.

In conversations with JC about the crazy that I come from, I’d tell her that I regretted my inaction because I probably hurt Julia unintentionally. Perhaps it’s just a projection on my part: my first date, the impression it made on me that 25 years later I still remember it, perhaps it was only a big deal to me, and not so much for Julia. I mean, I’m married now. What does it matter to tell all this to a person I haven’t kept in touch with whom I’m not even certain liked me 25 years ago? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that if I don’t it will be another regret. When I look back on that day with a proper lens, I’d like to think that there was something there. And I would want Julia to know that she was totally awesome and I would’ve totally asked her out if I hadn’t been fucked in the head as a kid. We’re not getting any younger, and some of us have even departed. Who knows who will be next?