Final Destination

A couple of years ago, I went on a date with a Filipino guy after I submitted my residency applications. We met at an Asian restaurant in northern Virginia sometime in December, late in the evening. We sat down, started eating, and talked about our work situations, music tastes, and dating histories. When I told him that I hadn’t dated a man long-term yet, he said “that’s surprising,” especially because I had been 26 at the time.

“What’s surprising about that?” I asked him. Continue reading

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30 Dollars

A few weeks ago, a cousin I have not spoken to for about a decade invited me to his wedding in Hawaii. I knew almost right away that I would decline the invitation. Yet, I felt guilty about saying no. I talked with one of my best friends about it a few hours after receiving the invitation which helped me feel better, and I decided to donate $30 to my cousin’s honeymoon fund instead. Still, his ask and my reaction to it lingered with me.

I felt a small drop of guilt for a few hours after I made up my mind to say no even though I had several strong reasons not to attend. Continue reading

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Perfection

I wrote the first draft of this post back in early to mid-December, right before deciding which academic job to accept. When I started out on the job market, I had no idea what would happen, like if I would even get any initial interviews. I felt some sense of relief when I started to hear back from schools, and soon enough one college in particular rose to the top of my list.

This college felt perfect to me. I loved its location, its atmosphere and the collegiality of my specific department, and its purported values system. Even though the three-day-long in-person interview tired me the heck out, I still walked away thinking, okay, yes, this is my top choice.

When the department chair called me and extended me an offer to join the college, I felt so relieved. Though I saw positives in my other options, this place rose to the top. However, a few days later, as the high of getting the offer faded, I noticed some imperfections about the position. Continue reading

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Thomas’s Top Ten 2022 Reads

Hello guys gals and nonbinary pals! This year I read 105 books, which I feel proud of given all the other stuff going on in my life. While I loved several of the books in this top ten and deeply enjoyed all of them, this year’s selection does not feel as strong as previous years. The books I read in the second half of 2022 didn’t impress me much. Here’s hoping to better reads in 2023, which your recommendations could help shape! As always, I’ve included links to my full Goodreads reviews of each book and you can see all of my previous years’ lists at this new page I created. Continue reading

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Wait a Second

A week after I accepted my academic job offer, I started thinking about one of the courses I would teach in fall of 2023. Omg, how should I structure this course? What learning objectives and assignments should I plan out to ensure that it runs smoothly? Omg I haven’t taught this yet what am I doing?? Most of my internal dialogue focused on my lack of experience teaching this particular course and my desire to put in work now to make sure it goes well.

At some point, I paused and practiced cognitive defusion. Continue reading

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Weak

The article about Mindy Kaling’s obsession with white men triggered my depressive feelings. Not at first – the day before I read it, thought to myself, yeah, great points, and retweeted it and went about my night. The next day, though, I noticed more emotions of dread and frustration creeping up. Against my will I started thinking about messages I’ve received about my desirability as an Asian American nonbinary/male-adjacent person and other experiences of racism in my life.

It’s easy for me to acknowledge the anti-Asian racism I’ve faced in my life. Continue reading

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Ten Years Later

Almost ten years ago, I opened an envelope in the mail from my top choice undergraduate college: I got in! I remember feeling almost euphoric, pacing around the basement of my childhood home. On an academic level, I yearned to dive deep into English and Psychology, subjects I felt an affinity for in high school. More personally, I couldn’t wait to escape my abusive mother – I had studied and planned for years to get away from her, and now I could see the end of our relationship in sight.

In terms of academics, my idealized vision of college pretty much came true. Continue reading

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Home Ownership??

Earlier this year I started thinking about home ownership. The timing made sense – as the majority of my friends enter their late 20s, they raise the topic more so I start thinking about it too. I myself may enter a new state of permanence where homeownership makes more sense. Next May/June I graduate with my PhD, and if I land a tenure-track job, I could end up staying wherever I go for the long-term.

Holy sh*t, I thought to myself when I looked up one-bedroom homes right outside the city I live in now. Continue reading

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Vers??

Throughout most of my PhD program, I provided therapy two days a week. I liked this setup: I enjoyed the empathy, compassion, and interpersonal acuity of therapy, then on the other days I found satisfaction conducting research, teaching, or engaging in some form of mentorship or advocacy. The flexibility of my schedule helped me avoid getting stressed; I could go on a jog at 2pm on a weekday and work on my research during the weekends instead of dating and settling for a mediocre man, reading multiple books by mediocre white male authors, knowing how to put together furniture, etc.

Now, on residency, I provide therapy for more than two days a week. I still love the therapy and want to keep at it after I get my PhD, and at the same time I want to go back to a more research and teaching-focused schedule after this year – which aligns with how I have applied for a ton of academic and research positions starting in summer or fall of 2023. While I feel comfortable with my path, over the past few weeks I have talked with my friends and supervisors about the question: does not wanting to do therapy full time make me a bad person?

It’s obvious that this question is a cognitive distortion for many reasons. Continue reading

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Disappointment

A couple of weeks ago I went on a coffee date with a queer Chinese man from my local gay tennis league. This guy loved talking about tennis, so I let him steer the conversation into topics such as: how long we had been playing tennis, how we felt about our performance in the summer challenge ladder, and tennis tournaments taking place in nearby cities. Somehow the conversation shifted into talking about racialized dating preferences. This man proceeded to tell me that he does not find it problematic for queer Asian men to prefer white men over men of other races *and* that he finds white and Asian men more attractive than Black and Latinx men. I felt triggered when he made these racist comments; my body tensed and I felt my heart rate increase. Later in the day I emailed him my recently published peer-reviewed paper on the topic and checked his name off on my mental list of men who I will not associate with in the future.

I talked about this encounter with one of my best friends Bri. Continue reading

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