Wednesday, July 30, 2008

goodbye my car

For the last time,
I backed the car off the parking lot,
stopped at the gate waiting for the gate to open,
turned right to go over the u-turn to go east,
drove down Almeda, passing the post office
followed McGregor, turned into Cullen,
pulled into the parking lot in front of Cougar Place

one less key, one less responsibility, I suppose

Monday, July 28, 2008

2 more boxes

Last night, I woke up at 2am due to anxiety. My mind was running like crazy thinking all the things I need to do. Finally I got up and started packing. I took out 2 big boxes and started cleaning up all the clothes and all the remaining stuff in the kitchen. I don't know how long it took but I went back to bed after the 2 boxes are packed.

This morning I mailed these 2 boxes (20x18x18) to Hawaii. I am a lousy packer that I might end up flying with 2 luggages, 1 carry-on, 1 backpack, and maybe 1 box. sigh....Why do one person need so many things? I had imagined that I will live with only 2 suitcases for 6 weeks. Not going to happen now.

The 2 boxes are not extremely heavy; I managed to get them down from my second floor apartment, to my car, to the post office. I do have a personal cart to help me carry them. I had them mailed via priority 1-3 days. The post office lady told me give and take a day or two.

I hope I lose some weight since I sweat like a pig all the time with moving stuff around, packing, taking stuff out as trash...

Tonight after dark, go to Target to return the air bed, then stop by this cloth donation box to drop off 2 bags of clothes. Then tonight I clean up more; take more things to the dumpster.

Clean, clean, gone!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

because we all have too many

So I put all the "good" stuff in the study room, thinking *somebody* sure can use some of them.


I did not realize it is so hard to give away stuff for free these days. I really need a serious reality check. How come everyone else seems to have everything they need? I thought someone can use some good used items. How wrong was I.

One person told me, "because we all have too many extra stuff ourselves."

I guess everyone is living a very comfortable life that everyone has more than what they need.

Once I reached that realization, I decided to dump all the stuff at the dumpster. Boxes of stuff. Gone! I started late at night so it is not too hot. Luckily that I still have this personal cart to help me carry stuff. One trip after another, my study room now is very clean.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

will I see you again?

Tonight was Shin Tien's wedding. Many young people were at Yao's restaurant. An lively event. I got to see many friends as well. At the end, I was taking pictures with everyone and saying goodbye at the same time. Claire looked up and asked, "will I see you again?"

I don't know, Claire. Maybe, Maybe not. I felt my heart sunk and tears almost ran out. I held myself back very hard. It was a wedding after all. Everyone was laughing and having a great time. "I will see you in Hawaii," I replied.

The reality: people will not come to Hawaii just to see me. I am fortunate in such that Hawaii is a desirable destination. People might come for Hawaii, not for me. But that is okay.

I don't know if I will be able to keep my old friends. New friends I will make. But does making new friends necessitate the letting go of the old?

"You make room for your new life," someone might say.

"But I have plenty room for me friends," I think.

Will I see you again?

Friday, July 25, 2008

learning how to live without Internet

The stupidest thing I did recently was to cut off my phone line. There was this unsecured wireless connection that had been very stable for over two months. I thought, I can just cut off my phone for the last 2 weeks and use this kind stranger's connection.

Not so.

The day I cut off my phone, that connection disappeared as well.

Everyday at home, I am learning how to kill my time without the use of Internet. I cook some simple meal, I watch TV, I try to read, clean up, and, yes, maybe I should pick up my meditation practice as well.

There will be no Internet at least initially in Hawaii. Will I able to find something for myself to do?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

boxes gone, attachments remain

Life has been too exciting recently and today is no exception.

Condo is closing next Tuesday. Car was sold yesterday to the first person who came to see it. We have made arrangement to turn over the car next Wednesday. I went to school this morning, thinking I finally will be able to do some work. Oh, one last small thing to do. Hawaii requires a TB test so I went to UH health center 2 days ago. It cost only $6. My doctor charges $35. So I thought I got a good deal. I went back to get the result.

The TB test came back positive. Then I have to do a chest x-ray. Now I went back to my doctor. They looked at my arm and said, they would have said it is okay. But they cannot revoke UH doctor's diagnose. So I went to take the chest X-Ray.

Since I drove all the way to China town, I went ahead to the title company and signed the closing contract. I don't need to make another trip next week. When all was done, it was pouring rain and about 2:30. I had not had lunch so I was going to find something to eat.

Then the phone rang. The moving company called and said they were coming to pick up my stuff "right now." Right now? It is raining, I was on another side of town, I was not done packing. What do you mean you are coming over right now? The person on the other end had no mercy. He said they "have to" come over now and there is no way they will come tomorrow. But I had it scheduled for tomorrow. "But I am telling you we have to come right now," the person said. I hang up and called the customer service 800 number of the relocation company. I was as mad as hell. I don't like it when things don't go as planned. I was driving in the heavy rain while making all the phone calls. So a supervisor was put on the line to deal with this angry customer. But by then, I was no longer angry. I told her, you cannot just call and come, people have plans and I need three more hours. It was 3:00pm. I said, come at 6:00pm. She said no problem.

So I went home as fast as I can. I was pretty much packed expect maybe the last 2-3 boxes. I just boxed them up, throw in some things here and there, number them, write down the content of them on my notebook, then I sat down at my only chair in the room.

Why was I so angry?

For some reason, I thought about death.

Like most people, I never really seriously thinking about death. But today's experience somehow made me think about my death. I realized that I might be one of those people who just wouldn't let go at the end.

I need more time
This is not as planned
It should be tomorrow, not today
I am not ready
It cannot just happen

But death certainly can. Now I realized I might be mad at "death" since it does not happen as planned.

The mover showed up at 4:30 and left at 6:00pm. I survived to tell the story. Looking at the empty apartment, I don't know why but I thought about death, how unexpected it could be and wonder: will I be able to let go regardless?

For the longest time, I thought I live a frugal life, not much desire of material stuff, not much attachment to any person, any thing, or any place. This move knocks me good in my face to tell me otherwise!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

cragislist rocks!

so the car is sold!

yes, that is right.

The first person called within 25 minutes of my posting. She works at north side of town and cannot get to me until 7 pm.

The second person is a friend of a friend. She called after the first person. When she knew someone else is coming, she wanted to come before that person. So we made an appointment for 6:30 pm.

The right around 4:30pm, a third person called. Once they know I have 2 appointments lined up, they wanted to come over right away. So they did. Very nice people, mother, daughter and son. So they put down $500 deposit and the deal was made. They are happy; I am happy. This is the way things should be.

The car is priced to sell. I was not greedy. This is a good lesson - do not be too greedy!

frantic in selling the car

so the moving day is approaching and now I have the sense of urgency to seriously sell my car. What happens if it doesn't sell? But what happens if it does? So keep the positive energy and it will sell. I wonder who is the lucky person to own this reliable car... here is the posting to Craigslist

Monday, July 21, 2008

threading the past

The sound of the threader might even be therapeutic! 1992, 1993, 1994.. all the past go through the mouth of the threader and come out recycled. Hmm. I wonder if we can ever "recycle" our past, making the past usable again and again. We burden ourselves to keep the past in neat, organized folders. Then one day, we decided to thread them all.

Recycle, good for the earth.

But why am I acking inside?

Oh, I know. There is no other reason other than attachment and self ego.

But in this case, knowing it doesn't make the pain go away.

Even the threader seems to agree with me - it quit working due to overheat. I guess the past is just so heavy that even the threader cannot take it all in at one time!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

no eating after noon

Since I don't like cooking and since everything in Hawaii is so expensive, this morning at the temple, somebody suggested that maybe I should take this opportunity and start practicing no eating after noon.

A good suggestion, a good practice for the wrong reason though.

sealing the boxes

I have been hesitate to seal any boxes. Not sure why. Maybe deep down, I feel once the boxes are sealed, I will have no other way but to say goodbye to Houston.

But tonight, I started to tape up all the boxes. Box #1 has the majority of my Buddhism-related books. Box #2 and #3 are my other books. Then the list goes on.

I know I am still struggling.

When I seal the boxes, does it mean I am ready to seal my Houston life?

Saturday, July 19, 2008


So I went to the center to say goodbye. Master said, to apply Buddhism into life is to have a different attitude. We do the same work, perform the same task, just like everyone else. The difference is how we face the world, with our Buddhism attitude in practice. I really like that idea. Yes, I will be a professor at a university, just like many other professors at a university. How will I be different from the mass? I think I know how to take each opportunity to create good karma with my students, my colleagues, and all the people that come across my life.

Attitude is the manifestation of Buddhism in practice!

Friday, July 18, 2008

I must be nobody

Saw this little poem while searching for some Buddhism concepts online

Always remember you're unique.
Just like everyone else.

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

If nobody is perfect, I must be nobody.

I must be nobody!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

which side?

Ran into this little poem today, pretty funny at first, also profound if think deeper

One day a young Buddhist on his journey home, came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, "Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river?"
The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, "My son, you are on the other side".

Sometimes we don't know where we are, sometimes we envy each other, more times, we only see ourselves. where are we and where are we going?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

money is your statement of priority

Heard this today at OneStar's non-profit capacity building workshop.


Take a look at your monthly bill. Where do you spend your money? Food? Entertainment? Book? Who spends your money? You? Your children? Your parents?

What are my priorities in life? Do they reflect on how I spend my money?

If how I spend money is my statement of priority, then charitable contribution definitely falls out of any priority list.

What does that have to say about me?

It was probably the summer of 1998 or 1999. It was an important summer in my life. My father had just passed away that year and I started volunteering with Tzu-Chi at their Houston chapter. It was the big flood of the Yellow River that summer I think. I was asked to join their fund raising activity in China town area. Dynasty Mall was my assignment. I watched how others did it then I approached my first "customer" To my surprise, people gave money! That was such an enlightening moment for me. After that, donating money to charity became something I do. Prior to that, I was always suspicious about people's motive. When I saw how complete strangers would give money to me (not to "me" per se but still) I was moved by their generosity. Looking back,it is hard to imaginethat such a small event could have such a big impact on me.

If how I spend money is my statement about my life's priority, I think I need to seriously re-think about what are important in life.

What is your priority?

Monday, July 14, 2008

my "Ajahn mosquitoes"

A while back I once heard Ajahn Brahm (Buddhist Society of Western Australia) talking about his early years as a forest monk in Thailand. They had to sit under the trees and meditate. As a young monk, he was bothered by the tropical jungle mosquitoes and cannot concentrate. He complained to his teacher, Ajahn Cha. But his famous teacher told him that those mosquitoes are his teacher, teaching him how to ignore all the surrounding and to learn to concencerate even in seemingly impossible situation. Therefore the notion of "Ajahn mosquitoes" - learning from the mosquitoes.

I have always liked this story especially today - I finally met my "Ajahn mosquitoes" - Mrs. Tan.

Mrs. Tan is such a unique person that I have never met anyone like her my entire life until now. Not only does she attend to all possible details, ask all questions humainly imaginable, she simply cannot make up her mind! She has this mentality that she can always find something better and cheaper. She bothers my friend June so much that even June got pissed off this morning when Mrs. Tan called and asked June to "hold" the contract. June called me. I called Mrs. Tan. The entire morning was gone. I discussed with June and we decided to email her a copy of the contract termination paper.

Mrs. Tan is the kind of person who will not only suffer from her own indecision but will make everyone around her suffer. I got really angry and vented my emotion with Donna, Youmei and Georgette. Just five munites before I went into tonight's Buddhism class, the husband called to apologize. He said he had no idea all the things the wife said and did. He is very angry at her and apologize for what she did. Interestingly, he had no idea that the wife called me and asked me to "hold" the car deal after he said he wanted to buy. He said he still wants my car. Evidently they don't talk to each other. :-)

At first I was very angry at her. But after I let go of my own desire to sell, and emailed her the termination contract, I felt very liberated! Once I can let go of my own attachment (wanting to sell), I opened up more space for myself. As the day went on, I became to feel sorry for Mrs. Tan. She is not an evil person but her self ego is too strong. She cannot see the suffering she is creating for her and everyone around her. I don't think she is a happy person. I wish she has the wisdom to let go of this contract. Unfortunately she cannot let go when she should and she cannot take on responsibilities when she should. Of course she cannot let go of the contract and to lose $1,000 earnest money.

I learned not to be angry at her. She showed me how suffering it is to have a strong ego and how ignorance creates suffering not only for self but for others.

Arising and falling away as all phonomona are. This, will be part of a faded memory in my life soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What are we willing to give up to keep what we have

Saw this question today and a sense of profoundness overcame me.

There are days I question what is it about Hawaii that I am perusing?

And there are days I wonder what is it about Houston that I am letting go?

What am I giving up and what am I getting? Do we always have to sacrifice one thing for another? I remember learning about the concept of "trade off" in college. Why do we always have to comprise, to trade off, to take less than what is possible? When we "trade" something "off" with another, is it that we take "less" for what we deserve or is it that we act according to reality?

Why do I feel "reality" sometimes is like a box that seems to confine me more than liberate me?
When we act "according to" reality, do we give up what we are suppose to go after?

What is it about what we have that we so desperately trying to hang on to?

Can anyone answer my questions?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

condo sold - attachment gone

Within 24 hours of posting it to MLS, through network, the condo is sold today. I am thankful to many friends who made this possible. The Tan family is very interesting. After spending the afternoon with them, I can tell the mom is a character. She might have a lot of thinking to do tonight. The father is straightforward. I like Amy, who I think is a very lucky girl to be able to go to UH, live in my condo (or should I say ex-condo), and drive my very reliable car. I am counting my blessing today for sure.

This is my first property in the states. Being a property owner did not really give me too much "pleasure" as most people probably think. It was a smart move money wide, I think. At the end, I don't think I necessary "make" any money. However, with the housing being so affordable in Houston, I strongly encourage anyone who plans to stay in Houston for a while to consider owning one.

One less Houston attachment gone!

Friday, July 4, 2008

it is HGTV like!

pictures don't lie

I am so lucky to have a good friend. We used to be roommates about 10 years ago. We got along just fine for the next 2.5 years until her brother came. She is talented, artistic, and motivated. At this young age, she owns a music studio and is a special education teacher at an elementary school. Now everyone knows she did a wonderful job for me, maybe she will be very busy helping many other people during her 2-month summer break!