I was fumbling through an old pile of receipts, when I came across this one ticket stub. SOUTHWEST AIRLINES, 3SEP97 1710, SANTA ANA - SAN JOSE.
Today is the 7th anniversary since I stood on my own feet and started living in the bay area.
An old motel near downtown San Jose -- it still stands there; I wonder if the same old hospitable man still runs it. A nearby Safeway (`What a strange name for a grocery store' I used to think, hehehe :p). The good 'n' old VTA Route 22 that stops right in front of the motel -- I used to take every day all the way to work in Palo Alto. I still work for the same company -- I've been with the company the longest among locally hired employees.
My goofy boss and his pretty wife, a dinner at his place near downtown Mountain View, and a game of Time Crisis (the original one!) on his PlayStation that I basically RAPED... They were gawking at me like %@&*$%!^%!@&* OMGWTF! Hehehe. He's now a graduate student somewhere in the midwest. Countless nights I stayed at work, completing and doing some more on the project I was assigned to (I was such an workaholic at the time -- the department head used to tell me in his serious tone `Gene, you come here at 8am and won't leave until 11pm, I think you work too hard and need more rest'), and a pile of empty pizza boxes from a Domino's in the next building -- which made me gain more than 15 pounds in less than 6 months... :D
My second boss, who is now in charge of the entire IPv6 business in NTT Communications worldwide. The business trips I made with him in late June of 2000. An Akihabara trip; a hunt for a Japanese PS2, the very first model with the very first firmware revision, because it had a flaw in the DVD player software and could play out of region DVDs. Him mentioning about DDR `I heard it's a very good workout'. DDR 1st and 3rd mixes CDs as well as a pair of official Konami DDR pads I bought at Akihabara (I loved Lady on the 3rdMIX CD cover, and made a screenshot of the intro clip to use as a wallpaper. :p) And hooking up the PS2 to the TV in my hotel room the next morning (July 1st, 2000). FAILING MY FIRST DDR SONG EVER -- Get Up 'n' Dance. Hehehehe.
A game room in the new office. Installing an NTSC projector and a modded PlayStation. Coming into work like 6-7am every morning to play DDR on it. The HR manager coming into the office around 8am and making fun of me because I used to encounter her at the entrance, all sweaty, on the way to take a shower.
Googling for DDR. Finding out about DDR Freak. When it was GREEN. :D Printing out the Machine Location page -- yes, it was possible because there weren't that many arcades at the time. Frequenting SVGL, befriending VTA Route 22 even more. :D Gawking at Bryant (`OMGWTF PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT *dies*'). Making friends with some of SVGL regulars -- gah, I was so nervous and shy because my spoken English sucked so much (even more so than now that I still suck XD). Drooling over the shiny new 5th mix. Hating God of Romance for its machine gun steps XD. Staying there until 1am when they closed on summer weekends. The vague memories of the SVGL tournament -- used to get embarassed by all you then-PA/FSers, just by watching you guys playing.
Making more friends. Going to MGL2. Getting splashed by some unidentified food in the you-know-what incident. Mad props for Ray (v00j00) who was filming the tourney, refused to retreat but kept the front line to tape the incident -- professionalism!
Meeting J Dogg. Hearing about the bandwidth hardship he was experiencing because of the video downloads. Offering my then-idling bandwidth (10Mbps constant!) in Korea. Maxing the bandwidth up like in no time as soon as the videos went up there. Joining DDR Freak as a staff member (like, a non-moderator but still working on the website). Setting up the development groundwork such as CVS, hourly checkout thing and stuff. Getting pissed off by the flaky MySQL server when it went belly-up, screwed up the post number sequence counter and mangled several topics and posts. Buying a new server (dual P4/Xeon 1.8GHz, 2GB memory -- a.k.a. purple.the-7.net), hosting it in the same datacenter and letting DDR Freak move into the server. Ditching MySQL and moving the forum and some other things onto PostgreSQL, which I have never regretted up to this date -- it's one of few open-source projects I could wholeheartedly recommend without any hesitation. Becoming a DDR Freak forum administrator. Posting my first DDR Freak headline then getting reprimanded by J Dogg because I used `Click here for...' style linking -- he hates that. XD
Moving from SVGL onto MGL because it felt way less stuffy even during summer weekends, had louder and better-sounding KeyboardMania, and had the godly fries. Yum. Starting to communicate and participate more in social scenes.
And developing deeper -- less superficial, hi-and-bye but more down-to-earth -- friendship with some of you guys. You know who you are, and I am very grateful to you; you salvaged Eugene out of the dumpster of shy and fobby Asian otaku-engineers into a more well-round, sociable person. Thank you all of you, and I love you guys. (Will you marry me? XD =3=33)
Seven years. I started at 22, and I now gaze at the folding edge of 30 approaching me. And as with everyone else who's approaching 30, I look back at the path I've walked so far. A lot of things I wanted and planned to accomplish in the states, something they call an American dream, I haven't achieved yet. Some of them I just had to give up, some I had to postpone until I can actually aim at them once again. But in place where the unfulfilled dreams once were, I have some other unexpectedly pleasant and valuable experiences and memories instead. And I am proud of them. Because they reflect and shine the undeniable path that I have been running on; because they are the evidence of my growing up.
A lot of people nodded and sighed when a female Korean writer published a book of essays, titled `30, The Party Is Over.' What losers. Everyday is a party. A party of a slightly different kind every day. I'm still enjoying my life. I'm still seizing the day -- heck, I'm still alive. In fact, the real kick-ass party of mine is about to start now -- thanks to all the experiences and memories I've gotten to cherish, thanks to all the lessons learned from the daily battles, thanks to all people that I have gotten to know since I got off that Southwest airliner one starry night in September 1997 and started my own quest.
Thanks again, pals. I really love all of you. And join my party if you wish. Because it's gonna rock the house. Because it's gonna rock the world.