Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Love on Credit

THERE’s a certain disturbing parallelism how we wade along an acquired credit card/financial loan culture and current way of life—with the manner in which we have come to regard love (primitive, pristine kind of love) and try to sustain a relationship. It sort of feeds each other, in some absurd yet socially-acceptable way… 
     In our quest for life’s comfort and convenience in pursuit of happiness, we buy in to a “give me some good stuff now and I’ll pay you later” ticket that has been sold to us the moment we sign up as member of society. It seems to be the most normal, smartest, and reasonable way to live a life—a social contract that is facilitated by a bank or any societal/community edifice that is erected and fueled by corporate profit.
      Problem is, we are, most often than not, unaware or oblivious of the longevity or future of our capability to pay—since, like addiction, we savor the moment and disregard what’s up next. “Next” is taken care of by a job arrangement that is as shaky as an unpredictable weather, or some inheritance money or business savings that could dwindle in time as inflation and recession hits reality check. Although bigger acquisitions (cars, business capital, houses, education) take 15 to 20 years of nonstop payment, the enticement of present comfort and convenience that these acquisitions offer is stronger. We want these amenities and luxuries now, so we got them on a mouse click—yet we don’t really own them, yet… We have to work hard to fully own them later.

IN LOVE, we know we feel it when it happens—we have it inside. We know it’s reality within than without.
     Despite current studies that say lesser people show interest in marriage or committed relationships, majority of single people—61 percent, according to Pew Research—still hope to get hitched and savor matrimonial bliss. We all want to hold on to love.
     Last Valentine’s Day, consumer expenditures reached almost $18 billion, according to a National Retail Federation finding—up 8.5 percent from 2011. A Time article, citing business and academic sources, estimate that an average of 220,000 wedding proposals are pronounced on Valentine’s Day each year (10 percent of the annual total in just one day). And that, 70 percent of singles said they wouldn’t mind a blind date for the occasion.
     Meantime, romantic fiction accounts for more than $1 billion annually in US sales. Harlequin—the brand name alias for romance novels—sells more than four books each second. Many are still gasping over Stephenie Meyer’s silly vampires in love and whoever The Bachelor or The Bachelorette chooses as his/her longtime mate…
     But LOVE is not a daydream, reality TV, or Shakespeare’s sonnets. We want a piece of that good stuff—and we want it to last, we want to touch and feel it. Love has to enter into a social/human “contract,” or a relationship (partnership, marriage) to be able to, at least, acquire a semblance of holding on to love.
     Pretty much the same way we treat material acquisitions—we try our best to find the man/woman of our dreams on the get go. We have to be sure that the person we want to coexist with under one roof, and build a family with—is also financially capable of paying back what both acquired, or help both enter into more acquisitions to make life “more convenient.”

HENCE, we keep on looking—and we prefer convenience and accessibility, as well, in terms of finding the right partner. Dating sites—which number an estimated 1,500 with a projected net worth of $2.1 billion, based on recent figures—offer that user-friendly service. There are about 54 million singles in the US, and some 5.5 million of those use dating services. Smartphone users spend on average 81 minutes using mobile apps compared to only 74 minutes on the web.
     You see, even finding love and relationship is tied up to business—hence, finding lovers and spouses has got to be business-like, too. But aren’t relationships—and love—like life, an interactive flow of reflex/response that is nourished and nurtured as two people work around it? Compromises and negotiations, patience and tolerance, synergy and teamwork. Isn’t happiness/good living and love/relationships working projects that are built and fortified as both work around the bittersweets and rollercoasters of life? That life and love aren’t gift-wrapped packages—signed, sealed, delivered—and all figured out?
     The financial burden of living has gone too steep to climb, too high to hurdle, that the only way to make sense of life is to find someone who is physically/materially capable of bailing us out of what we have acquired. Sadly, when we meet that life’s partner who’s financially capable—we often go on acquiring more…
     So where do we place LOVE in that context—that ridiculous itch, swashbuckling idiocy, unreasonable insistence—that make us all human, when focus has shifted to paying bills and loans and we are frantically working for the money like there’s no tomorrow? Love needs time and attention, beyond the constraints of hours spent and dollars paid, far from the limits of gilded four walls. It is difficult indeed, given the circumstances that seem to entrap us, but there is always a way. We just have to start somewhere, somehow. It is on how two people in love talk about it, if they have ample time for those moments, that is. And if they do have time, the next ultimate move is... Just do it: Give love the chance to regain its bearings and be the way it is--for two people's lives. Love can wait, but not for long. It doesn't pause when it decides to stop--unconsummated, unattented love dies a natural death.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

THE JEREMY LIN STORY: Race, Business, Game, Himself, and New York City

IF Jeremy Lin were of Italian, Greek, or other European descent, there likely would not have been a comparable article speculating about this topic.” –A post in NYTimes message board.

In response, let me elaborate on Jeremy Lin:

(1) HIS RACE: Look back in time, the “firsts” in competitive sports, in terms of hurdling the racial barrier in white America—Sugar Ray Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, and most recently, Tiger Woods (golf) and the Williams sisters (tennis), who excelled in sports games that were once dominated by whites (whether they were Irish, English, German, Italian, Swedish, Australian etc). Jeremy Lin is the first legitimate Asian-American sports personality who actually created such a tremor of an impact. It’s uprecedented, it’s new, it’s novelty. Imagine if there are 15 other Asian-American superstar millionaires in NBA, would people be this Linsane? There’s Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Lincecum (and the upcoming Yu Darvish) in baseball, Troy Polamalu in football, and Manny Pacquiao in boxing—but Lin, so far, is a lot more than his game of basketball. For one, he is Taiwanese or Chinese descent: We are talking about the most gargantuan heap of humanity on Earth—who, whether we are happy or not, kind of controls the world’s economy at this point in time. When the Chinese of the Universe yell “LIN!” expect a tsunami.

(2) THEIR BUSINESS: Time Warner and MSG fixed their quarrel in the name of cable TV profit, all NBA arenas that Linsanity visits posts record-highs in attendance, sale of shirts and merch is simply Linsane (there’s even one dude who just moved to copyright“Linsanity” as trademark), and VOILA! Chinese all over the globe are watching like the kid is their biological kid—Asia bought TV/NBA coverage rights in all Knicks games, which means moolah generated from this hoopla is even bigger than the Super Bowl. And corporate America is just warming up.

(3) HIS GAME: It all boils down to his game. Lin can play ball, no doubt. He is a multi-tasker: he shoots, passes, steals, rebounds—and he’s only 6’3” and 200 lbs. He is not the typical ball-hog or selfish ball player, he makes his teammates look good as well. He turns the ball over quite frequently—it’s primarily because he’s all over the court most time (more than 36 mins per game), handles the ball 80 percent of the way, and takes more risks than the average point guard. More than all, he wins games. When he was given the nod to take the floor by his coach, he almost single-handedly put New York Knicks back in a winning pace from a badly-losing situation.

(4) HIMSELF as PLAYER: His rise to stardom is an enticing and intriguing Hollywood feelgood blockbuster. After receiving no athletic scholarship offers out of high school and being undrafted out of college, the 2010 Harvard University (Economics) graduate reached a partially guaranteed contract deal later that year with his hometown Golden State Warriors. Lin seldom played in his rookie season and was assigned to the National Basketball Development League (D-League) three times. He was waived by Golden State and the Houston Rockets the following pre-season before joining the Knicks early in the 2011-12 season. He was again assigned to the D-League and continued to play sparingly. In February 2012, he unexpectedly led a winning streak by New York while being promoted to the starting lineup.

[5] HIMSELF as HIMSELF: He has sterling humility—a trait that is not usually seen in most superstar athletes these days. He doesn’t trash talk, he acknowledges God and his teammates before he even mentions his achievements on a particular game. Before he shot to prominence, he was crashing in his bro and friend’s couches—since he wasn’t even sure if his non-guaranteed contract will amount to anything. That was about two weeks ago. He is the ideal role model: Modest beginnings, immigrant dreamer, accomplished academic background, God-fearing, humility/determination/perseverance/hard work, exceptional ball player. No wonder, people from 5 to 75—irrelevant of color, creed, culture and social standing—come out to join Linsanity. He is the personification of the Great American Dream, especially at these times when the Dream seems to be fleeting away…

[6] NEW YORK CITY. Linsanity happened and is happening in New York City, the grand stage of America’s insane love affair for bombastic melodrama, boisterous fanfare, and magnificent corporate brawn.