The telling and retelling of my story (Ricky Weekly #13)

This is where I share 3 things every week with my friends and anyone else interested.

A picture from my life:

This is the patent for the toilet paper roll (found in a bathroom of a Chinese restaurant). Clearly this means the roll should be “over” not “under.” Case closed?

Thing on my mind:

I was sick this week and got so bad Thursday I was in bed all day (I’m fine now!). Fortunately that gave me a chance to crack open Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and it’s been hard to put down. The book is having an effect on me similar to the movie Boyhood. I’m transfixed because every single word seems to be taking me back to my childhood and giving me new language and perspective to understand what I experienced. I’m seeing memories flash before my eyes as I’m reading while trying to not cry too much. Sometimes my memories are very similar to what the author is describing, sometimes they’re different but feel the same. I find myself taking the author words and overlaying them on my memories to see if they fit, and if they don’t fit, I’d use the author’s voice to try to give my old self a fresh understanding especially because this guy is a great writer. It’s been forcing me to think about family more than I want to.

I still feel uneasy when people ask me about my family because if I were to answer the basics honestly, it’d still take a while to explain and change the tone of the conversation. So I have an official version that I tell people that’s more sanitized, and depending on who it is / what we’re doing I might share more while slipping in jokes to lighten the mood. There’s a version of the story that I tell myself that’s self-serving, but I know necessarily creates a “bad guy” character. Kind of like how rappers talk about the haters as the fuel for their drive. You have to have the haters if you want to keep that useful narrative. Over time as I received new information or perspectives, the self-serving version of the story has started to lose its power. Like realizing you don’t really hate the haters. What I fear sometimes is that I don’t have an equally powerful story to replace it. Reading this book and watching Boyhood are exercises in continually challenging my story and maybe searching for a better replacement, if I can find one.

Piece of content I recommend:

I Think it’s Important to Tell You How I Feel” by my friend Jessica.

My brain that picks up the happiness that is in the air during puppy golden hour at Alamo Square, equally picks up the sadness in small interactions, missed opportunities, setbacks, sometimes even situations that are not mine. If you don't know me, you really only see me happy or doing well - when I'm asking for something on Facebook for a new thing I'm thinking about, posting things that seem like there's lots going on, on insta stories watching my caterpillar friend on the lettuce plant on my sweet SF patio. And I don't really want to be that to you. Because it's also hard AF, and I'm confused, and uncertain, and feeling inadequate after browsing the LinkedIn feed. And I hope I never make you feel like I just have it going on.

I love Jess and I found myself nodding as I read it because I feel the same way. Other than my Resting Bitch/Tired Face (I’ve been told), people tend to remember my enthusiastic laughs because I’m easily entertained. But that’s only what you see, so important to remember that!

As always, you can find out what I’m thinking in more real-time on Twitter and my essays are on my website. My latest essay is called “I got next!” — a personal #RequestForStartups.