Oct 11, 2002

We Interrupt This Program for an Important Announcement!

We interrupt this program to bring you an important announcement... On Wednesday, October 9, 2002, at approximately 7:30 P.M., I asked my girlfriend, Jun, to marry me. And she said yes! I'm still in a state of shock, let me tell you. It has only been a little over three months since we first met each other, and I know a lot of people are saying, "Three months? You hardly even know her!" But we both feel that this is the right decision to make. Both of us are old enough to know what we want in life (I am 36 and Jun is 33), and neither of us want to wait a couple of years before taking this step. And, most importantly, we love each other very much and really do feel incredibly comfortable and compatible with each other. We have not set a date yet, other than to say that it will be sometime next year, and in spite of the speed of our engagement we don't want to rush into marriage. At the very least, there are gobs of plans to be made, not to mention the logistics of getting all the family members together in the same place.

I'm not going to describe our entire courtship, but let me just mention a few tidbits:

  • As I mentioned in my previous entry, Jun and I have either seen each other in person or talked on the phone pretty much every day for the last two months. When we talk, it is often for an hour or more, and when we get together it is often for the entire day. I suspect we have spent more time together in the last two months than most couples do in six months.

  • Two days before I proposed, Jun told me that she talked to her father and that, based on what her mother had told him when she returned to China, he likes and accepts me. This was apparently for three important reasons: I don't smoke, I don't drink, and I don't go to church (and no, the irony of that last reason doesn't escape me)....

  • After I proposed, Jun told me that, while it wasn't "love at first site" on her part, she quickly grew to love me. She said that the defining moment when she knew she wanted to marry me came when I took her to meet my mother for the first time and she saw how well I treated my mother. Jun felt that this was the best indication possible of how I would treat her.

What can I say? All my life it seemed that whenever I met a woman I liked, she had no interest in me, and the women who did express an interest in me were all women I just didn't find attractive (and no, I'm not just talking physical attraction). For years I've worried that I was being too picky, or that maybe I had a subconscious fear of commitment that caused me to avoid women who might actually be interested in me. It seems, however, that it really was just a matter of finding the right woman. Jun is not perfect, any more than I am. But I truly think that she is perfect for me. And, wonders of wonders, she actually seems to feel the same way about me.

Sep 13, 2002

Time Really Does Fly

Wow, I guess time really does fly, whether you're having fun or not. It's hard to believe almost two years have gone buy since I last updated the information on this page....

Anyway, first comes the boring stuff. I've been working at my new job for almost two years now and I've really been enjoying it. I had only worked as a contractor for two months when they asked me to come on-board as a regular full-time employee. If I were cynical I'd say that they simply were tired of paying me consultant rates (I typically work 45-50 hours per week), but I think they just really liked the quality of my work. My original manager -- the guy who hired me -- ended up leaving the company a couple of months later and they decided to reassign me to a different manager rather than hire a replacement for my old manager. It was a bit difficult at first, since my new manager knew nothing about my background or why I was hired, and basically treated me as "just" a technical writer. I soon showed her that I was much more than a mere technical writer and she came to depend on me for a variety of different tasks. At which point, of course, they finally decided to hire a new manager and transfer me again. This time, though, my previous manager was around to tell my new manager what a fantastic worker I was, and the transition was very smooth. I receive plenty of compliments on my work, both from co-workers and clients, and I really feel like I am making a difference here.

After starting my new job, I decided it was finally time to say goodbye to the Cambridge Madrigal Singers after something like six years. With the longer hours I was working, it was just getting to be too stressful singing in two different choirs, and I decided that I really wanted to focus on early music. My newer choir, Vox Lucens, exclusively sings Renaissance music, whereas the Cambridge Madrigal Singers (despite the name) sang music from all periods, up to and including contemporary music. Also, I really enjoy the experience of singing with a smaller group that allows me to frequently be alone on my voice part, and this has helped me grow vocally quite a bit.

And then, of course, there's the new girlfriend.... [Hopefully it is not too premature to be writing this, but I suppose I can always go back and delete this section if things don't work out between us, right?] As with most things in my life, there is a story behind the story, so let me start by mentioning that my best friend happens to be from Hong Kong. His name is Fong Yui Moon (Kenny, to his friends) and we lived together for a couple of years while at college. He got me interested in Chinese culture (pop culture, admittedly -- Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat movies in particular -- but culture nonetheless), and in January of 2000 I had the great opportunity to fly out to China to be the best man in his wedding. I'm not sure if it's because of my experiences with Kenny, all those years of watching Godzilla movies, or what, but I've always been very attracted to Asian women, both physically and personality-wise. Not exclusively, of course. I realize that there is an unfortunate phenomenon of Caucasian men "fetishizing" Asian women because of their "exotic" looks and becoming fixated on them as a result, but I honestly don't think that is the case with me. I actually find many different types of women attractive from all different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

Anyway, one of my co-workers happens to be Chinese, and sometime last year I half-jokingly asked him why he never introduced me to any cute Chinese women. He responded that the only cute Chinese woman he knew was his wife, and I couldn't have her. That was the last we spoke on the subject, until a few months ago when he came into my office and asked if I were serious about wanting to date a nice Chinese woman. I said, “sure,” and he told me about this woman he knew. Apparently, his father's best friend (they were college classmates, just like Kenny and I), has a 33-year-old daughter named Jun who has been living here in the Boston area for the last two years and working as a software developer for a large downtown company. Her mother had come for an extended 4 month visit, and was apparently very concerned that her daughter wasn't married yet and wasn't even dating anybody. So, she mentioned her concerns to her husband back in China, who mentioned them to my co-worker's mother (his father passed away a couple of years ago), who then called my co-worker and asked him if he knew any nice single men that he could introduce to Jun. Confused yet? Well, my co-worker told his mother all about me and what a great guy I am, the word eventually made it back down the grapevine to Jun, and she contacted my co-worker to say that he could give me her e-mail address if I was interested.

Well, I hate blind dates as a rule, and I had no idea what Jun looked like or if she even spoke English well or not, but I decided to take a chance and write to her and tell her a little bit about myself. She responded very quickly and told me more about herself, and also gave me her phone number and said I could call her. I called her that evening, and we ended up talking for about two hours. Her English was not perfect, but the fact that we were able to talk on the phone for two straight hours obviously meant that there wasn't much of a language barrier. Now, I don't believe in love at first sight, and I certainly don't believe in love at first hearing, and yet… I could tell there was something very special about Jun. She was intelligent, she was witty, and -- perhaps most important -- she was nice. In fact, she seemed to be the nicest woman I had ever met in my life. Maybe it's a cultural thing and all Chinese women are this nice, I don't know, but she just seemed to radiate an aura of kindness that I could feel through the telephone.

We had a few more lengthy phone conversations before we had a chance to meet in person, and I honestly think I was beginning to fall in love with her before I even met her face to face. And when we finally did meet in person, she was everything I hoped she would be. The first month had its ups and downs as we navigated the cultural divide between us, and at one point the relationship almost came to a complete end due to some miscommunication and misunderstandings between us. Once we cleared up that particular misunderstanding, however, we became closer than ever. We talk on the phone every evening and get together at least once every weekend, the more I get to know her the more I want to be with her.

Jun and I obviously come from very different backgrounds, but we seem to share a common outlook on life. One of the problems I've had since making the decision to stop attending church is that I still believe in living a “Mormon” lifestyle (no drinking, no smoking, no premarital sex, etc.) and have been looking for a woman with a similar lifestyle but who is not overtly religious. Unfortunately, the women I tend to meet either live a lifestyle I am not comfortable with or else are very religious. Jun, however, comes from a very traditional Chinese background that emphasizes family values, and she neither smokes nor drinks (well, at least she doesn't drink often). She was also raised to treat other people with respect (“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) without needing to rely on a belief in God to feel that way. There are certainly differences between us (she prefers comedies and just can't understand my love of monster movies, for example), but these seem to be far outweighed by the things we share. And the level of communication between us is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I've had a chance to meet her mother repeatedly, and her mother seems to like me. And Jun has now met my mother as well as my younger brother and his wife, and they all got along extremely well.

It has only been a few months, and I am fully aware that it is way too premature say anything for sure, but I haven't lost that initial feeling that there is something very special about this woman. I love hearing her laugh and making her laugh. I love the fact that she is not shy about speaking her mind, even when we disagree about a subject. I love the way she makes me feel about myself when we are together, and I love the way she makes me want to be a better person at the same time. And, dare I say it, I think I love her....