Fantasy Life

Tomorrow is my grad school orientation. I’m not ready — not sure. I think it’ll be OK. I think I’ll love it. I’m just not sure.

It’s a new stage in my life. And every time this happens, I play a game. It’s called fantasy life.

It’s like fantasy football — except you are the player, and you score points based on how you perform in life. This is the post-college edition.

When I graduated in May 2009, I didn’t think this stage of my life would be so short. I expected so much more. But, in the last 16 months, I’ve been confused. There were things I thought I wanted — like being a sportswriter — but, when they became a reality, it didn’t feel the way I thought it would. So I’ve been chasing those fantasized feelings, unsure of whether they even exist.

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Work Division

When I was 11, I wrote in my journal, “I want to be a sportswriter.” So I was shocked when, at 22, I was doing just that. (+10 points)

But, as a sportwriter, I was unhappy. (-5 points) I often felt that sports were meaningless in the scope of the world. So in the summer of 2009, I applied to several jobs.

Things did not go so well.

During a phone interview with an HR rep, one thing led to another and, eventually, I cursed at her. To be fair, she started it. (-2 points)

During another interview, I said I would do anything — except fetch coffee. And the interviewer said, “Well, if you’re not comfortable in a Starbucks line, this isn’t the job for you.” (-1 point)

Another time, I sent a cover letter to Florida. Two minutes later, I was rejected. (-1 point)

I always imagined job hunting would be easier. Like most people, I thought my resume was a silver bullet. It never is. So I stuck with my job.

Small things kept me going. For example, my stories appeared on the front page of ESPN.com. (+3 points) I began writing regularly. (+1 point) And I learned something new — hockey. (+1 point)

Then, in January, I was kicked out of the ESPN office because I was a freelancer. (-5 points)

But that meant I could work from home and I loved it (+3 points) — until I devolved into a smelly (-5 points), socially awkward (-5 points), Chinese takeout-obsessed (-5 points) slob. But, worst of all, I didn’t feel challenged.

Then, around February, I was invited to write for NHL Draft Blog. Initially my job was as an aggregator. I found cool stories and wrote about them. But, one day, I pitched a statistics-based piece — and my editor loved it. So I learned Microsoft Excel with the help of Adam Playford. (+2 points) I also learned calculus, with the help of a YouTube video. (+5 points) By July, this had become my niche. (+5)

But, no matter these triumphs, my ultimate blessing was that I had a job out of college and I could paid rent every month.

However, when the 11-year-old me wanted to be a sportswriter, this wasn’t the feeling he was chasing.

Running total: 1 point

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Home Division

My 39th Street apartment was 10 minutes from work. (+5 points), three blocks from Grand Central and the United Nations (+2 points), and 16 blocks from my girlfriend, Kristen. (+5 points)

But, during the move there, I drove my U-Haul’s side mirror into a street sign. (-5 points) It was an omen.

Early on, I discovered mice. I caught one on a glue trap, but I felt bad for it. So I tried to free it. Horrible idea. (-2 points)

In December, my kitchen cabinets started to fall off my walls. My 5-foot-2 mom yanked them down and said, in Korean, “Now they’ll have to replace them.” They did — four weeks later. (-3 points)

In May, my toilet exploded. (-10 points)

Last month, I moved to the East Village. It’s wonderful. (+10 points)

Running Total: 3

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Personal Life Division

My first summer out of college, I sucked at life: I had no friends (-2 points), I watched too much TV (-1 points) and I was often depressed. (-5 points)

Kristen felt the toll of my struggles. She was in Rhode Island, and she’d have to listen to me mope, which wore her down. (-10 points) Then, when she came back to New York, she had a tough school schedule — and I became one of those needy, clingy idiots. (-10 points) Then, when my mom lived with me for a month, I caught the swine flu. (-5 points) Then, right after I recovered, I caught the “asshole son” syndrome. (-10 points)

This wasn’t the post-college life I’d imagined. I didn’t like who I was.

But, slowly, things changed. Kristen and I built our relationship back up. Yes, she’s wonderful. (+10 points) Also, I got into grad school, which caught me by surprise. (+10 points) And, finally, I had a direction for my near future — one that made me happy and hopeful. (+10 points)

So that’s how I ended up here, on the verge of going to this semi-artsy, super geeky school. I think the 11-year-old me would approve. Because the 9-year-old me wanted to be an artist. This is close enough. (+10)

Running Total: 0

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Closing Ceremonies

Reality has not lived up to my fantasies, and I’m learning that it’s just how life is.

But, sometimes, reality lives up to fantasy. And I think those are the feelings we chase — the moments we hold on to.

Under my computer monitor, I keep four sea pebbles. I collected them while walking down a beach with Kristen. During that walk, I wasn’t chasing any feeling, because this was it; this was the feeling. So these pebbles are a reminder that they can be caught — and that they are real.

So, gor that, I’m giving myself 200 points. And I’m going to need that head start, because over the next two years of grad school, I’m probably going to lose thousands of points. But I won’t care. Because, the way I see it, life isn’t about points.

Running total: Four sea pebbles

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hey, go read the Rec Writers Club. also, follow it on twitter @recwriters.

3 responses to Fantasy Life

  1. Nate

    I always like these. I’m totally going to draft you in my Fantasy Life league.

    • Alvin Chang

      I think I’m a good late-round steal. I’m trying to think who would, among our friends, would be the first overall pick…

  2. I miss reading Life of Alvin every Tuesday in WSN…

    These point ones were always favorite columns too 🙂

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