conversations with my hilarious pessimistic uncle


“Don’t get me in the photo! You don’t want anybody to look at my old ugly face and lose their appetite!”

I just recently found out that my uncle is moving to China mid-March. My world shattered when I initially found out. I don’t remember feeling like the way I had in that moment in a while. Maybe the last time I felt like that was when I was sitting on the stairs when I overheard my parents talking in the living room about how we were moving to New Mexico, and I was devastated as an 11 year old because I liked the life I had in New York and didn’t want to leave to this so-called place New Mexico, which my uncle refers to a place where birds don’t lay eggs. I don’t see him often, but when I do, it’s really refreshing. My uncle is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. He’s down to earth, he’s real. He’s not afraid to call out society and tell me it like it is. He’s always doing his thing, being outlandish as ever. I truly treasure him and I always remember as a child looking forward to seeing him. Things haven’t changed since then. I’m going to miss him when he leaves. He doesn’t know when he’ll be back, but he’s going to help out a friend with his business. Moments like these, I realize how much I take for granted. Knowing my uncle is around the corner and nearby provides this sort of protection. It’ll be different when he’s not here, even though he is an email away. Emails are weird you know, the energy isn’t the same. It’s stale and empty, especially compared to the lively, childlike energy my uncle has.

I know you hate when people care about you, and you’re always happy to send me off to the airport to rid of me, but I know that in a way, we have a deeper connection. You are one of the few people in this world that I feel truly connected to because our energies flow so well together. I know that you pick on me and I pick on you and call you out on all your shit, but hey, it’s like you said, I’m the only person who’s brave enough to butt heads with you and challenge your perspective. My college experience out here in California would not have been quite been as exciting or as this flexible without you around. I truly cherish every time you have given me a place to stay for Thanksgiving or every single time you took time out of your busy day to pick me up from the airport. I’m a big girl with a car now, but it was you that drove down from San Jose to do some grocery shopping at 99 Ranch for me because i desperately craved to cook Chinese food.

I can only return you the world because you deserve it. I wish you the best of journeys uncle, I absolutely love you and know you will start up this business very well. If I knew the cure to your depression, I swear I’d provide it to you in a heartbeat. If I knew how to fix that wacky knee of yours, I’d hand you all the money necessary. If I could find you a lovely woman, I’d be the wedding planner. I know you’re not actually pessimistic. I know you’re not actually a realist. It’s just different when you’re 53 and you look back on a life that you thought would be different compared to where you stand now. You know, when I was little and my mom used to tell me about how you were jobless, divorced, an alcoholic, and unable to get out of the bed in the morning, I had a lasting image of  you for years. It was 6 years old when I learned of depression. I overheard my mom on the phone saying something about how you couldn’t move. I had a pressing image of you in a dark room with barely any light coming through the blinds, slumped in your bed. My first thought was that if you couldn’t move, how would you be able to go to the bathroom? And I cried because there would be nobody in that household to assist you to the bathroom, and that’s why you were slumped in bed all day. And then I started crying some more because there would be nobody to open the blinds for you so you could see the wonderful scenery outside your window. It was only when I grew up that I would learn the metaphor behind “move.” I don’t know if you’re better now. I can’t really tell, I think you’ve grown accustomed to it, but I always worry about you, because my world wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t exist. Nobody’s world would be the same. I hope you recognize how important you are – that you’re more than just your downfalls. I know my love isn’t much, but some part of me hopes it’s enough in fleeting moments. I really hope that, in this lifetime, you find what you’re looking for. You deserve it, you really do.

You’re one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. I don’t say this often about people, everybody is goodhearted, but there are few compassionate people in this world. There is not an ounce of judgment within you, just a heart wanting another heart to sleep next to at night with a mind full of innovation. You are hospitality, you are a helping hand. You take people under your wing. And even though you regret it much later because people keep coming back to you for favors, your heart shines through in moments like these. You’re a contradiction you know. You express such great love through favors, through time dedicated to those around you, yet you think nobody cares about you. You think they’re just favors, instead of actions encrypted with love. I like people like you. People like you change the world with your simple presence. Your energy is remarkable. It tells people that it’s okay to be you, that you shouldn’t ever take anything too seriously. You’re very light despite what you carry in your heart or mind. It’s like you can somehow set it aside because you focus on the bigger picture of things.

I can’t wait to hog you for the next few weekends up until your departure. Who else will take me to eat delicious Chinese food when you leave? I better take up this opportunity while it lasts! :)

“You know Chinese?”
“What do you mean I know Chinese? Of course I know a little!”
“This is probably all you know!”

“He told me, “I moved out to the Bay Area because of you!” and I said, “The reason I’m going to China is to get away from you! Every one of you is worse than the other, piling up!”

“I’m leaving to China to hide away from you.”

“Why are you moving to China?”
“I want change. I want challenge. It’s too boring here.”

“I was young and ambitious once. I guess I should be giving you words of encouragement.”
“Just tell me congratulations already!”

“I told my mom not to worry, because in 10 years I’ll be a millionaire.”
“Millionaire? Psh! Honey, that doesn’t matter. Anyone can make that. What matters is if you’re a multimillionaire.”
“I don’t care about making money. Some people want to change the world. I want to change people.”
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Stupid people like you wasting my time!”

“I saw a sign outside a restaurant the other day. It said something like, why you still know everything, why your parents are stupid.”
“Parents aren’t stupid, but you do know everything. John Green once said, “ When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are.”
“But you’re not a teenager.”
“Don’t take it so literally! It’s the metaphor behind it. Everyone grows up and forgets their dreams. Children are the smartest people out there.”
“Dreams only exist in your mind.”
“That’s why you make your mind a reality.”
“And you’re not a child.”
“No, I’m a big girl with big dreams!”
“Well, then in 10 years I’m coming to you for money when I’m old with no money!”

“I like New York or Chicago. It has culture. I dislike Silicon Valley, just a bunch of stupid people making money, wearing nice suits who watch stocks.”

“Do you know your IQ?”
“80, 70 if I’m lucky!”
“Yeah right. More like 155.”
“Intelligence is a mental problem.”

“Well now I have more of a reason to visit Shanghai! I’ll start saving up!”
“That’s fine. You can come. And they’ll ask me, and I’ll say who? Don’t know her. Oh wait, is she a multimillionaire yet? No, don’t know her.”


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