Facing Regret

The past week and a half has been an emotional one for me. Strong feelings that I have not had in years surfaced and the decisions from my past stared me in the face. I learned it can be difficult living with regret and I have delved into ‘what if’ moments in my mind on more than one occasion. In the big picture of things, I regret very little in my life and know I still have a bright future ahead of me. But the reality I now live in is what I must deal with, and I can say it is a happy one. I have been richly blessed in my life. Like with anyone, a few decisions years ago could have vastly altered my life now. But I cannot undo my past, and now I understand that I can live with that.

What was helpful for me to do, however, was express my feelings for what occurred years ago. I had lived with pent up emotions causing whatever regrets I had to grow more intense. I wanted a chance to get some things off my chest and say my piece. I have. And now I am finally at peace. I realized I must let go of the past and put my feelings behind me and move on. I can do that now and I thank the person that allowed me to do this. What if will always be there, but for where we are now in lives, happiness is in our future.

The City by the Bay

I’ve been in San Francisco since Tuesday for business and have been busy, but I have also had a chance to explore the city in the evenings. It has been a few years since I was here last and I was looking forward to coming back to the Bay Area. After all, this is one of the cities that I always claimed I could live in. The first night I had free I decided to explore the Financial District, as it is near my hotel and my firm’s office. The place was dead. It livened up a bit as I entered Chinatown at Kearny Street, but otherwise I was a bit disappointed with my travels around the Embarcadero Center and the Financial District. After being in Manhattan for almost five years, everywhere I go seems small, unpopulated and quiet.

Until last night, that is. After work I headed up Market Street from my hotel and explored the shopping areas around Union Square. It was there that I found the San Francisco I was looking for. The area was bustling with people at 9:00 pm, there were plenty of locals and tourists out and about and what looked to be a great deal of interesting restaurants. One of my favorite places in Manhattan is Union Square, and ironically, I can now say that San Francisco’s Union Square is among my favorite places in the city by the Bay. Each Union Square has its own unique culture and feel, even if it is somewhat similar overall. It’s too bad the cities couldn’t have been more creative in naming their public spaces. I only have a short time left here in San Francisco, but hope to find at least one more area I enjoy before I head back to cold New York.

My 20 Random Things

As almost anyone on Facebook (FB) knows, the “25 Random Things About Me” tag has been rapidly making its way from person to person across the social-networking site. I have been tagged numerous times and have yet to respond once. The tag has become so pervasive that Slate has launched quite an amusing investigation to try to get to the bottom of the mystery. The way it works, essentially, is that you, once tagged, post a Note on FB detailing 25 random things about yourself for all of your friends to see. Once completed, you would then tag 25 of your friends to do the same. Despite my refusal to post my 25 Random Things, I have enjoyed reading the random facts and intricacies of my FB friends. So I will continue to boycott posting my 25 on FB, but thought I would put up a few random thoughts about myself on my blog instead. Without further ado, my list of 20 (instead of 25):

1. I have written in a journal everyday since April 1995 and must do so before I go to sleep. During my recent move, my box of journals almost broke my friend’s back – literally.

2. I am a pretty mellow guy and handle stress well. I rarely get mad and can’t remember the last time I lost my temper or really felt upset at somebody or something.

3. Last spring I joined a group and walked around the entire island of Manhattan in nine hours – a full 32.3 miles. I love walking and this was the ultimate walk. I plan to do it again this year. Let me know if you’re interested in joining me.

4. I lived in Hawaii for three years and miss many things about the uniqueness of the island life, culture and community. I have thought seriously about moving back there with my family one day.

5. Sports and physical activities were a huge part of my youth; I don’t remember a day growing up when I wasn’t physically active in some way. This is unfortunately not always the case nowadays.

6. I love reading books and have read about 80 of them in the past two years. Only time prevents me from reading more.

7. I had a speech problem when I was a kid and had a difficult time with my R sounds. I hated when people asked my name since most people couldn’t understand me when I replied, given that my name has two letter “R”s in it. After some speech therapy, the problem faded as a I grew older and my speech is almost never an issue today.

8. I speak Japanese relatively well, even though I haven’t been to the country since the year 2000.

9. I am a person of routines and find comfort in doing the same thing the same way day after day. This is true from my morning commute to my routine prior to going to bed. When I return home from work each evening, I find it hard to do anything until I have changed out of my clothes and tidied up around the house.

10. I work at a private equity firm as a lawyer, but hope to find my passion and life’s work one day.

11. One of my goals in life is to write a book and have it published. The book will probably be part historical and part memoir; I don’t think I am clever enough to write fiction.

12.  I married a doctor and can testify as to the pros and cons of two professional working parents. I hope to convince my daughters to choose neither medicine nor the law as a career path; both professions are not what they used to be.

13. I was raised in Federal Way, Washington and am proud to be from that area. It was a great place to grow up. Despite what people say about the weather in western Washington State, I firmly believe that it has some of the best weather in the country.

14. I love looking at maps and could spend hours studying maps of various cities. My appreciation for fold-out paper maps has been replaced by Google maps. I thought seriously about being a Geography major in college, but stuck with History instead.

15. I have a strong passion for man-made spaces and architecture, even though I doubt I have the skills to do anything about it. It finally dawned on me that this is probably largely why I enjoy visiting different cities and parks. On the flip side, I don’t find as much satisfaction in nature, although I would like to further develop that trait. 

16. I bought my first cell phone in 2003 and received my first BlackBerry in 2006. Now I can’t imagine life without either.

17. I am a big listener of jazz and R&B music. I enjoy listening to other types of music here and there, but agree with the statement that life is too short to try to listen to and appreciate music that you don’t like.

18. One of my favorite things to watch is the Summer Olympics. I am touched every four years when I tune in the Summer Games and hope to one day visit the host city while the Summer Games are in session.

19. I like having our cat, Neko, sometimes to my surprise. I was truly against getting a cat when the idea first came up, but soon learned to like her and would miss her if she were no longer with us.

20. One day I want to become a full-time teacher. From my experience, I believe that teaching would truly bring me satisfaction.

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Postscript: The ironic thing about this list is that I have touched upon each of these twenty items in some form of another in one of my almost 250 posts on this blog over the past few years. Should I be concerned that I couldn’t come up with anything interesting about myself other than what I have already mentioned to the world via this site?

The Flight to Phoenix that Almost Wasn’t

I had quite the adventure last Friday as I traveled to the airport. It started with my decision to save some money and take public transportation to JFK International Airport. Having done the trek before, I knew the easiest way to get there and was confident that I would be fine, so long as I left early enough. To this end, I woke up at 4:15 am so that I could catch the first train of the morning to Grand Central Terminal. My walk to the station from our new house was freezing, but I caught the train I wanted. Things were off to a good start, I thought. Upon arriving in the city, I hopped on the number 5 subway for a trip to Fulton Street so that I could transfer to the A train, the one line that winds its way through Brooklyn and Queens to the Howard Beach station near JFK. From Howard Beach, the plan was to catch the AirTrain that stops by each of the nine JFK terminals. My flight was scheduled for a 7:59 am departure and, with no bags to check, I was hoping to be there no later than 7:00 am, as I’m someone that likes to arrive early. I had the time to make it if it wasn’t for the A train. I knew that the subways on the weekends can be slower than usual, but I was sure that everything would be fine on a Friday morning, allowing me to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Such confidence in the MTA infrastructure was my first mistake. I still do not know what the problem was, but I waited for the A train for much longer than was safe given my timing. At one point, I made a brash decision and ran out of the subway somewhere in Brooklyn hoping to catch a cab to JFK. I was not too familiar with the area and a quick survey of the surrounding streets revealed no cabs and a small chance of finding one within the next few minutes. As I ran back down into the subway, I realized that I had just missed the train I needed. Upset at myself for my impatience, I was forced to wait longer, this time really causing me concern as the minutes were ticking by.

When I finally made it to terminal 5 to jump on my JetBlue flight, it was 7:42 am. My flight, mind you, was scheduled for 7:59 am, a mere seventeen minutes away. My initial thoughts were that perhaps I could take the next flight out to Phoenix and that I wouldn’t mind waiting at JFK a few extra hours if necessary, as I was to arrive earlier than needed in Phoenix to explore the city. But I panicked when I discovered that the next flight was at 7:00 pm and that there were no indirect flights the entire day. The customer service help at the JetBlue counter would not guarantee that the flight could wait for me, but said that I could try making it as I ran down the terminal. I about begged a TSA officer to let me cut in line so that I could bypass the security lines prior to the gates. Fortunately, he understood immediately my predicament as soon as I mentioned the A train, as he himself had been a victim to it many times, he said. Through security, I ran as fast as I could with a backpack through the airport to the gate. It was 7:55 when I arrived. I made it, I thought. Whew.

But as I looked around, I realized that no one was at the gate counter and that those waiting around at the gate must be waiting for the next flight. The plane was there, but the doors were locked. I quickly found someone I thought could help. Out of breath, I tried to explain that I needed to be on that plane and that my lateness was not my fault. She casually mentioned that the doors were locked and that there is nothing I could do. After more persistence, she picked up the phone, but her heart wasn’t in it. It was at that moment that two more other people showed up eagerly asking why the doors were locked if the plane was not scheduled to leave for two more minutes. They had just arrived at JFK from Boston a bit late and were scheduled to connect with my plane to Phoenix. We were a three-person team demanding that the doors to the plane be opened. The lady at the counter marshaled some help and, after upsetting a few JetBlue people, we were able to walk on the plane at 8:02 am, three minutes after the scheduled departure time. Those on the plane gave us dirty looks as we boarded after the plane had all but left the gate, but I didn’t care. I had made my flight after arriving at the airport only twenty minutes earlier. It took some running, scheming and some luck, but I was on my way to Phoenix and enjoyed several good episodes of The West Wing on the flight. Exhausted and tired, I ironically arrived into Phoenix about twenty minutes ahead of schedule.

Twenty Years of Friendship

After everything that I had heard about Phoenix – one of the fastest growing cities of the last few decades, great place to live, etc. – I was a bit disappointed with what I experienced this past weekend when I made my first trip there. I flew in to Phoenix to meet a group of friends from my youth to spend a few days enjoying each other’s company and to celebrate one friend in particular that is getting married in March. It was a bachelor party in a sense. Each of us have moved on with our lives compared to the carefree lives we lived in our youth, but the memories and the area of Seattle we grew up in will bind us together forever. Even after many years of separation and sporadic correspondence, we pick up right where we left off.

Thankfully we chose to stay in Scottsdale for the weekend (and not Phoenix) and credit is deserved to the organizer for a successful event. Scottsdale, unlike Phoenix, seemed like a very nice area to live. And from what I saw this past weekend, this country is not in a recession. Everywhere we went was packed with young people – the clubs, the FBR PGA golf tournament, the restaurants – but the crowds may have had something to do with the fact that the weather was great in Arizona when the rest of the country was freezing, the rowdiest golf tournament in the country was being held that weekend, and the local football team was playing in the Super Bowl. We ate, talked, danced and laughed so hard I cried a few times, as I usually do when we’re together. It was definitely a weekend to remember.

At the end of the weekend, though, we all returned to our different lives. We have each grown and changed with age and time, but the loyalty, the bonds and friendship are still there after all these years. There are few people that would cause me to pick up and leave my wife and daughter to fly to Arizona to spend a weekend with. But in the end, I had to be there when we raised our drinks and toasted to our almost twenty-years of friendship and to wish us many more.