Happy Chinese New Year! May your year be filled with sunshine. 羊年快乐，阳光一生！
I arrived 10 days ago to New York City.
Within these 10 days, I’ve hit the ground running:
I moved in, became the NYC ambassador for Circle Chic, toured Bloomberg, went to Boston on a rather impromptu decision, met some incredible movers and shakers in the Boston startup scene, toured the MIT Media Labs, toured the Boston Globe, went to a speakeasy in Boston with some young art patrons for a gorgeous event at the Wang Theatre, went back to NYC to catch dim sum with 20 people, met some incredible movers and shakers in the NYC startup scene, visited AOL/Huffington at NY Tech Breakfast, found some work opportunities and will begin some projects next week, participated in the NYC Meet & Hire and opened up some more doors and opportunities.
This weekend I will be participating at the Hacking Journalism hackathon and you come join me! RSVP to the Video Party they’re hosting at the W!
And yet with all this hitting the ground running…you would think I have done some more running! Admittedly, I still have not done any running and my half marathon in Brooklyn is coming up soon. That will soon change. *gets ready to go for one now*
I’m looking forward to a wonderful 2015 to come!
Can you believe it? I can’t.
I can’t believe that only three months ago I was selling off all of my furniture in New York in order to deliberately move back to San Francisco for this intensive training program to which I had somehow made a commitment. Now we’re done. Proud, humbled, excited and determined at the same time, I just want to keep going. I’m not finished yet. Last week may have been the final week of the program, but in two weeks I will be back in New York again.
*note, I moved back to San Francisco because I needed to be closer to family too…not just for the program 😉
“What? But you just got here!” said everyone.
Well, I’ve given a lot of thought about what shaped my decision.
In short, my journey has been one of finding self-respect through identity and direction:
Awareness and identity
This may have all started when I was four. While growing up, I often pondered who I was and who I would become. (Fortunately and unfortunately, I was a highly philosophical child.)
What parts of me are me and what parts of me are just what everyone else has told me to be? My first encounter with this dilemma was when one of my kindergarten teachers (in China) came up to me one day and shocked me with a statement: “Your best friend Zhang Yan is a bad girl, do not play with her anymore. 张燕是个坏孩子，不要和她一起玩儿了” Of course, my gut told me that Zhang Yan is not a bad girl so I took heed of the teachers recommendations to observe my friend for a day in order to decide if our teacher was speaking the truth. I assimilated this to a story that I had read not long before with my grandmother about a little pony trying to test the depth of the water before he crossed the river. In the end, the pony just had to experience the truth for himself. And the truth for me was that Zhang Yan was not a bad girl. Or if she was, she was just as bad of a girl as she was a good girl. Also, if the teacher was right then I would also be just as bad if not worse since I made most of the decisions about which games we played throughout the day. As it turns out, there were some petty politics involved with my best friend’s family and the teachers (sadly) and since my familys’ relations were excellent, the teacher wanted to pry Zhang Yan away from benefiting from my friendship (and therefore social protection). In the end I forgave the teacher for being such an idiot, but henceforth, I always felt better when I could think for myself. And as a side effect of that experience, I also developed a protective inclination for my close friends.
Dissatisfaction and fulfillment
Now twenty something years later, most of you know me as a social butterfly who did most of her work in public relations and media. To some, I seemed to hold a promising and successful career, and to others…probably silly or lost. For those of you who knew me well, you knew I was panicked and worried. Some of you suggested I should find the color of my parachute, and others pointed me in the direction of quarter-life crisis literature. You didn’t seem as worried, but I’m glad I was…extremely worried.
Because I realize now what it was that held me back from moving forward: dissatisfaction.
My decision to learn how to code, was driven by a need for fulfillment. There was no real crisis, just a problem I needed to face. I had to get over my denial and my gut was telling me that there was an urgency to catch up with the times in order to be prepared to face the industry I want to be a part of…while I still can. Growing up, my parents were both in the science and technology industry and I was always trying to prove that I could pave success down a different path. But why must I feel the need to cripple myself in order to prove that I am strong?
Indeed, I also got a lot of:
“Why are you studying how to code? You’re social enough, that’s all you need!”
But in the pursuit of fulfillment, I had to pursue this path because I know I can be more than that.
I am the daughter of engineers, the granddaughter of a general, a female opthamologist, and two architects, the great-granddaughter of a female business tycoon, a descendent of a line of ancient scholars. We all came from somewhere, and we’re all here today. The fact that we’re alive now proves that we are standing on the shoulders of giants, some who have given up their luxuries for a meaningful future and some of them, their lives for the pursuit of truth in order to serve justice and compassion for what’s right.
I, too, want to be a builder in the modern world. I want to participate, as a pioneer.
I ultimately want to understand and pursue potential solutions for media & technology.
Social isn’t enough. I need to get my hands dirty.
I need to be able to test how deep the water is, for myself.
New York? New York!
Embracing a light-hearted attitude towards failure or discouragement, and a serious determination towards overcoming challenges, I saw a different side of myself emerge over the past 3 months. I focused. I was hesitant to sacrifice my own learning and intrinsic growth for a few moments of petty pleasure. I took better care of myself, and developed a routine for growth. I took more time to be introspective about life, and listen more carefully to myself.
And a big question was coming up for me as well: how did I feel about San Francisco? Is this where I wanted to be?Maybe, but somehow I had a gut feeling that I needed to go back to New York again. I knew that I would regret not taking this opportunity to move back. I also really enjoyed New York’s tech potential. Besides…New York’s standing as an epicenter of the media industry is a crucial advantage for understanding what problems we face on the convergence of media & tech. Everything else just made sense. I also had a certain craving for a certain cultural depth that I wanted to continue to fulfill while in New York…which will drive me to be who I want to be. There was a vibe I needed from New York that San Francisco couldn’t provide, and the transportation in New York is such a crucial component of life especially when time is so precious during youth! I mostly just felt unhappy thinking about not being back in New York.
So I have secured an apartment in Manhattan (thanks to a truly resourceful friend in the real estate business!!)
I have booked a flight to arrive in New York on the morning of January 5th.
I am preparing for my technical interviews, and will start reaching out soon in this colossal effort once again,
because I am coming back to find employment in New York City.
Check out some of my projects! I’ll have more coming soon:
Take a look at my profile:
Claim a spot on my calendar if you want to see me in person!
*Cue Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken” (which, by the way, is NOT about a road less traveled).
Hey! I have a new profile up on General Assembly!
What a week! Besides making up my mind about several crucial career decisions, I’ve been learning to work with AngularJS and exploring how to use Jekyll, MeteorJS and Parse in my attempt to create a new website for my portfolio. In the end, I decided I would stick with my current website (which works nicely for the time being) and focus on producing more sample products that can better demonstrate my familiarity with certain libraries and frameworks.
I also had some fun this weekend playing around with Jekyll, Parse and MeteorJS. Check out this mini to-do app I deployed the Meteor tutorial using MongoDB! checkyinout.meteor.com
And thanks to my research, I’ve got a couple other toolboxes to add to my to-do list as well:
At this point, I’m dreaming about code. The rest of tonight, I’m going to go through all of the easy challenges on Coderbyte:
I’m also going to take a hit at creating a hangman app with AngularJS and Rails. We’ll see how far we get! (I’d love to try and make a mini Wheel of Fortune app to piggyback on top of this…)
It has been approximately six weeks since I began my 12-week intensive program at the General Assembly. On week 5, I created this little app:
Basically, you can search a keyword and my app will go through The Guardian and NYTimes APIs to pull out the latest articles. If you register/login you can also save your keywords to produce a report. And as long as you don’t log out, you can just access your report every day and tweet your favorite articles via my app. Inspired by my previous work in PR, this app is just an experiment. I made it in 4 days, and I felt extremely nervous about sharing it publicly until about 2 weeks later. (Mostly I felt like I needed to revamp my blog design again!)
This weekend, I’m supposed to create a simple project… and I’m at a temporary loss for ideas. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out Kimono, Nokogiri and D3 for constructing new APIs and hopefully configuring data visuals. Ambitious, as I am…I’d also like to also figure out how to use OAuth with Twitter & Facebook. And no wait, I’m not done! I also need to understand the Sina Weibo and Twitter APIs. Now, React.js is on the list too (thanks Jeff!) Phew. It’s a lot. One at a time.
My last few months in New York were spectacular, a whirlwind. Friends were always passing through, and people always meeting up. There was always something glamorous going on. Always an excuse for champagne.
Now I am in San Francisco, spending 12 hours a day learning how to work with code at the General Assembly. I miss my friends dearly, especially a few who I felt I really got to know better during my last few days in New York.
But for now, I am here. It has been a wonderful journey so far. And San Francisco has been good to me. The air is pure, the produce fresh, the ocean close…and even some of the nightlife here can spark your curiosity. Everyday I feel as if I am a cloud growing roots towards the ground beneath.
I call this quiet time. I am very lucky to blessed with so much energy, and for the past 4 years I have poured that energy out on everyone else. I’m thrilled now to be able to focus and redirect that energy on myself.
Get ready, San Francisco, I’m coming back.
Last year around this time of year, I made the leap back from an exciting, but smog-ridden China to the US and landed in the exciting but less smog-ridden New York.
In a way, I spent the past year on a semi-sabbatical. Slightly commitment phobic, I tried to feel if New York to see if it was my type of city. As a media & communications professional, I wanted to understand the media center of the world. As an entrepreneur and technophile, I also half wondered to myself if I should just head straight to San Francisco to join my family, friends and the Pacific Ocean. And finally, a fresh-off-the-boat expat thanks to being in Beijing for the past 3 years…I felt as if I still had an itch to scratch.
People today talk about the “quarter life crisis” as if it were a bad thing. Indeed, it is very distracting. Life is suddenly so full of possibilities that we can experience a deer-caught-in-headlights shock, but I think it’s much better to have a quarter life crisis than to have a mid-life crisis.
“But I think it’s much better to have a quarter life crisis than to have a mid-life crisis.”
I read books, studied, took the GRE, worked in various jobs, took a summer class on digital marketing and sorted out my strengths and weaknesses. I pushed and explored my boundaries, discovering where I stand on all things love, health and work. I spent more time with myself. I learned (and applied) a lot of new skills. I worked part time and freelanced to pay the bills. I made a lot of new friends and met many new kinds of people. I developed a bit of an edge, cushioned by well-practiced soft skills. I tried some new gigs, and came to terms with the true meaning of being “American” through my involvement with a diverse number of vibrant local and national communities.
And now with all my curiosity and cravings satisfied, thanks to the “fast forward” pace of New York City, I feel much more grounded. My next move to San Francisco will hit several stones with one gesture – career, family and health.
Indeed, I am looking forward to spending time with my family – life is short and time is precious. There is a time for everything. Time to keep it real for a while.
Speaking of real/unreal:
P.S. As some of you know, I have a strange tendency to meet interesting personalities and people with epic stories (my theory is that everyone has a story and the best stories usually involve a lot of people). So, despite getting bitten alive by the mosquitos from the open window…I just had a random conversation at a wine bar near my home with the son of the gallery owner who introduced Jackson Pollock to France and did photographic portraits for Salvador Dali. I am sure Jackson Pollock and Salvador Dali interacted with a lot of people, but nevertheless still quite remarkable.
It’s been a really amazing past year in New York City and as some of you know, I am moving to San Francisco (on September 14th, to be exact) for a 3 month web development training program at General Assembly, after which I will be working in either SF, NY or possibly even overseas. Now appropriately, I need to selling the things that I cannot bring with me! Prices negotiable, see if there is anything you’d like!
Please follow this button to a Google Form
for a complete list of prices & purchase requests:
Request to Purchase Here!
Ms. Yin Mei’s Virtual Garage Sale
My fancy hand mixer: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/app/4636919341.html
My fancy baking stuff: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/hsh/4636920816.html
Hey fellow GA classmates (and instructors),
I just created a simple list on Twitter. I’ve added some of you already.
Subscribe here, I will add you to it!
Tweets from https://twitter.com/MeiThoughts/lists/ga-dgm-summer-2014
In my recent article on the School Library Journal, I reported on the Pennridge School District budget cut involving the loss of another elementary school librarian position in the district.
What wasn’t mentioned in the article, was that in fact the budget also created another position for a school counselor in the district to deal with teenage suicide. Is it worth it? Some also speculated that the addition may have been as a result of heavy petitioning from the counselor group. Furthermore, I also heard some incredible stories to demonstrate the incredible commitment and compassion of teachers and librarians while I was reporting.
I think this is indicative that every story we read is only a part of the whole truth. I really wish I could have heard the superintendent’s point of view but she was unreachable.
Either way, every decision that we make and implement will hold undeniable consequences.
See my latest article at the following link:
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