persona 5 is over & i will never be the same again

I finished Persona 5 last week. I clocked in just about 120 hours by the end of it.

Honestly? I liked the ending less than I thought I would. I found it to be extraordinary long — fighting your archrival, and then the villain set up in the game, then the real villain, then the real villain again.

It was just “We have to finish this!” over and over for the last 30 hours.

Regardless of that though, it’s officially my favorite game of all time. How can you tell?

I started New Game+ the exact next day. I also bought the remastered version and I bought the dancing game. (No really, there’s a dancing game.)

I absolutely adore these characters and this world. I love the jazzy soundtrack. I love the red visuals. I love the voice acting and the writing and the story and every single thing about this game.

I love it so much that I want to finish New Game+ — getting every single trophy so that I get the Platinum trophy — before I jump into the remastered version.

I want my experience with Persona 5 to be so prolonged that I get to play every single version of it. I don’t just want to play every single version of it, I want to complete every single version of it.

At this point, I kind of feel like “an hour of Persona 5 a day keeps the darkness away.”

It’s winter, I’m suffering from iron deficiency, and this dry season makes me want to stay away from screens as much as possible. It’s just not really a gaming season. But it’s easy to turn on Persona 5, coast through NG+, and hear the jazzy soundtrack in the dark.

I don’t think I’ve ever loved a game this much. I’m 150 hours in and counting.

my body is bruised, but i’m a soft girl

I love skateboarding.

It’s officially been over 2 months since I started skateboarding, and it’s the most important thing in my life.

I’ve gotten to the point where the initial adrenaline is gone. I’m not skating every day like I did at the beginning, a big part of the reasoning for that is just because ever since I started skating outside of the parking lot / practicing core skills, I’ve fallen every single time.

I’m trying to just be a sidewalk cruiser. I’ve been grabbing my backpack, wearing my pads (full set! I can’t live without them now), and trying to get used to sidewalks. I even bought new wheels that are more optimized for sidewalk cruising.

It’s tough. It’s getting tougher now that winter is here. The night comes on so quick, and any hope I had of learning how to ride rough sidewalks is completely gone.

I tried to get into practicing tricks at night. Since I live in an urban part of the city, there is no safe space at night where I feel like it’s lit up and populated enough that I wouldn’t get kidnapped.

For now, skateboarding is on pause for the winter.

It’s the most important thing in my life, but I resent that I had to fall in love with such an outdoor sport. Why couldn’t it be something I could do inside? Why couldn’t it just be jump rope?

favorite song of 2018

2018 was a great year. I remember Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety really popped into mainstream audiences with an amazing Yo Yo Honey Singh soundtrack. I loved Dil Chori and Chhote Chhote Peg, but then I got to the theater, and boom, there were two surprise songs no one told me about.

Kaun Nachdi is basically the definition of a hype song. This paired with Cutiepie? Perfect as a pre-party playlist.

This was around the time I started to get more into Punjabi and Hindi pop, but in the end, I think an original party song made for Bollywood always hits on another level.

vacations are sugar

I took nearly a week off from work because I was starting to feel burnt out. I basically did nothing for the last 2 weeks, I couldn’t sustain any focus on the work at hand.

Burnout has been coming quicker due to WFH. I basically need a week off every 4-5 months, while before it used to be every 6-7 months. I miss the office.

My strategy is to make the vacations so long that you’re sick of eating all that sugar.

I’m on my 6th and final day of vacation, and I feel thoroughly sick of the sugar. I’ve done everything I wanted to and more.

However, there’s one thing about vacations that differ from actually being free from a schedule. You can’t really start anything new during a vacation.

You know it’s limbo, so there’s no point in starting a book you know you won’t have time for soon. Why play the mandolin when you know you can’t when you have your 9-5 again?

It’s a bit like being stuck in this trapped room — whether it’s home or an actual vacation stop, where time stops and life isn’t moving.

I don’t really enjoy vacations. I just think that sometimes, we need time to catch back up, a pause button to snap us back to the present.

Tomorrow, when I go back to work, the apartment will be clean, I’ll have read all my emails, and I’ll have an idea of what I want to do after work.

I just needed some space to breathe. But, the oxygen is getting a little too thin here.

some thoughts on life at the midway point of persona 5

I am 66 hours into Persona 5. I’ve been playing it basically non-stop since I started. This is the first time in several years that I have played a game almost every single day for this length of time.

I’ve lost my evenings to Persona 5. While I used to read and catch up on YouTube and life, I am now spending 4 hours every evening with this game. Considering that I’m also still skateboarding several times a week, I have lost all sense of what I used to do before…

It’s an interesting game to lose my life to, considering that it’s basically a life simulator. I’ve seen my life decaying around me because of my addiction to this game while seeing Akira’s life build up.

He moved to this city with no one. He met Ryuji — who is my favorite character — on the second day. Akira’s dating Ann now, even though I’m personally in love with Makoto. He’s made a little family with Futaba and Sojiro. He went from having no skills to being charming, proficient, knowledgable, and gutsy. He has tons of other friends and has read a lot of books.

The game is only a year long. I’m at about the halfway point, which is 6 months in. It’s a big testament to how your life can change in a year.

The fundamental conceit of the days is simple: How do you spend your time when you have only have 2 timeblocks every single day?

I’ve reflected on this, and it really isn’t that different than real life. I’d give myself 3 timeblocks on the weekends. (It’s also worth noting that Akira goes to school on Saturday so I really do have more time than him.)

The answer is obvious in the game — focus on your friends. You pretty much only raise your stats when you need to advance a relationship. Otherwise, you always respond to your friends texting you to hang out.

I think the most interesting thing about the game is the way it handles closeness of relationships — Akira has a lot of friends at a relative distance. The top rank of friendship really isn’t even close enough to be a “best friend.” It’s more of a “good friend.” You never get to that point where you’re really that deeply involved in each other’s personal lives. It’s kind of just hang out friends.

I’ve never been one to rank my friends in that way. I pretty much write off anyone who I am not super close to as just someone I know. Not necessarily a friend I just keep at a distance? I’m not sure if this makes sense.

I have about 4-6 best friends at any given time and everyone else is the same to me. I rely and talk to my 4-6 best friends all the time, and everyone else just comes and goes. There’s no emotional fulfillment with the “people I just know.”

I think Persona 5 occurring in my life at this time has really helped solidify that. I’m too sickened by the idea to write down a list of people that maybe I should consider friends (not best friends), because on one end, the list will be very large, and on the other end, it will never feel large enough.

Anyone who knows me knows that I know a lot of people. I meet a lot of people (at least before this year I did). I don’t really have a problem meeting new people. I just don’t value them unless my “best friend sensor” goes off.

Maybe the quiet period of not feeling like I have that many friends would be offset by thinking more in Persona terms. Although Akira is hanging out with people CONSTANTLY, I don’t need to think of it that way. Anyone I talk to at least once every 1-2 months is basically a friend. That’s enough and okay.

“Best friendship” is about having people to rely on. That’s really important, but there shouldn’t be much to rely on people for. (This is irrelevant to this post — but I’m trying to do this less in general.)

But it’s okay to just have friends you talk to about niche topics, or hang out with, and share a single interest with?

(This reminds me that I really want to make some cruising friends. I see skateboarders all the time, but they all seem to be white men, so I don’t want those friends lol. There’s meetups and skate-togethers and whatever in normal times, that’s one of the perks of living in a metropolitan city after all.)

I’m generally trying to wrap my head around the fact that it’s been a really weird year for friendships and I’m okay at the end of it. I just don’t really have a framework for it, so adopting the Persona framework doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

I don’t want to invest as much into friendships as Akira does. I don’t really care. As long as I’m talking to people semi-regularly, even texting and calling, I’m pretty good. I like hanging out with people maybe 1-2x a week. Any more than that and I get drained. I need and like and value my alone time. I tend to feel empty or too hyper after spending time with people a lot — depending on the crowd. That mood isn’t something I chase.

But there’s still credence to the idea of there only being 2 things I can do per day. This has turned out to be relatively true. If we don’t count chores like making dinner or checking email — there’s kind of only 2 “activities” you can do after work. For me personally, hanging out with someone takes those 2 slots.

So recently — basically the entire past month, those 2 slots have been skateboarding and Persona 5. I can not get the energy or the time to read or watch a movie or even catch up on TV.

I think that’s fine, but it’s an interesting way to think about priorities. I think there’s just an illusion that I can maintain all my hobbies, and getting thrown into something like Persona 5 where everything is on pause really puts it into perspective.

There is very little chance at a future where I watch a movie every single day. If we look at the list of hobbies that I listed, there’s at least 7 things there that I do regularly enough to consider it taking up a “slot” of my time:

  • Skateboarding (1 slot)
  • Reading journalism/books (1 slot)
  • English/Bollywood films (1 slot)
  • Gaming (1 slot)
  • TV/YouTube (1 slot)
  • Mandolin (1 slot)
  • Social life (2 slots)

Pursuing this dream where I have everything balanced out in 30-minute chunks per day seems really silly now, actually. No, I won’t skateboard and play mandolin and read and watch a film every day. It’s just not possible to context switch that often and maintain any sense of time.

Given my calculations for 2 slots per weekday and 3 slots per weekend day, that’s 16 slots per week.

In some ways, that’s way too little time. In other ways, that’s enough time to do all of this 2x a week.

I was definitely not watching 2 movies a week and playing mandolin 2x a week (before the P5 addiction). Where were those timeblocks going? I think it was a lot of reading… but I’m not sure, honestly.

Maybe this system of counting timeblocks is a sustainable way to think deliberately about things without falling into the productivity trap of time-tracking and not understanding that time wasted is okay.

I think one thing that’s really interesting about this list is that the actual time taken for each of these timeblocks really varies. I don’t tend to play my mandolin or skateboard for more than 60-90 minutes, but that’s a timeblock. On the other hand, video gaming tends to always be just over 3 hours before I get tired. Reading is always just hours and hours and hours. I can still usually fit in two of these per day, despite the variance. (Life really IS just like video games.)

Just asking myself every morning: What are the 2 things you want to do today, apart from the life maintenance tasks like work, inbox zero, and eating?

I actually might start doing this — particularly because I am trying to skateboard every other day instead of every day. There’s still a few blocks even in this frenzy of a time that aren’t accounted for.

i’ve been playing persona 5 for 6 hours and it might already be my favorite video game of all time

Persona 5 is magnificent. It’s glorious. It’s a spectacular game that’s so unique, yet so familiar, and just so wonderful to sink into.

There’s rarely times in games when I stop them, and I still feel the visuals and the music surrounding me. That’s probably only happened 4 times previously in my life: Crazy Taxi (my childhood favorite game), Digital: A Love Story (the only game that has made me cry), Bully (the best parody game of all time), and Earthbound (my favorite game of all time).

I don’t know if it was ever this immediate or visceral before though.

This song keeps playing in my head. (The only other time this has happened to me is with this song from Earthbound.)

I keep seeing this visual in my head and I just can’t get the aesthetics out of my mind. (THIS is unique. This is the first time this has ever happened to me.)

Persona 5 is the perfect amalgamation of everything I’ve ever loved in video gaming.

As you can tell from my favorites list, 3 of them are JRPGs.

JRPGs are kind of a lost art. I know they still exist with existing older series (like Persona 5!), but it’s hard to get into them as standalone titles. I haven’t played any JRPGs that feel truly modern, truly comparable to a AAA action-adventure until… Persona 5.

The combat system feels very traditional, yet very modern at the same time. It’s comforting, yet novel, and the UI and combat just looks so brilliantly next-generation that I can’t help but love it. Compare that to modern Pokemon games that just look like 3D versions of Pokemon Red and Blue.

I love the PS4 as a console, and getting a JRPG that feels like it’s using it is an immersive JRPG experience like I’ve never had before.

If Persona 5 was just a JRPG, I’d like it, but there’s a few other things that tick boxes for me.

I love modern, urban settings in video games. Fantasy games like Chrono Trigger are fun and all, but I love the worlds in Bully and Earthbound. It feels just out of reach. I adore the hyper-exaggerated, almost parodic take on real life in games like these. It hits me on a level that a fantasy story about a mythical hero with a sword never could.

If Persona 5 was just a modern JRPG that takes place in an urban environment, it’d have the potential to be in my top 3 favorite games of all times.

However, Persona 5 adds one more twist to my story. It reveals one of my hidden favorite things… visual novels. (Digital: A Love Story is a visual novel.)

(I apparently am more into Japanese-style media than I thought I was.)

Visual novels tend to be interactive stories, often in exaggerated urban environments, about relationships, the underbellies of our world, and how our choices matter.

I know that Persona 5 is not a choice-based game like that, but the style in which the story is presented, with the life simulation elements, is straight out of Hatoful Boyfriend and dating sims. I grew up playing dating sims and light visual novels. They’re like my secretly favorite genre of video games. Some are brilliant, some are silly, but I just love stories in video games. I play video games for the stories first, gameplay second. So a style of game that prioritizes stories and relationships first is totally my jam.

Persona 5 is the ultimate compendium of everything I love in video games.

I really haven’t even gotten past the beginning of the game yet, and it’s consumed my existence in a way no game …ever has.

This is also interesting, because it’s one of the rare games that I am playing that I have seen zero gameplay of before. I actually bought the PS4 because of all of the games I saw in Let’s Plays that I wanted to play.

I find it difficult to get engaged in games that I haven’t seen Let’s Played before because I actually find the language of modern video gaming to be fairly difficult still. Open world games are still really difficult for me.

You know what style of game I can understand and progress through without needing to watch a Let’s Play to contextualize it? A JRPG!

I love Persona 5.

nostalgia, comfort, & cinema

I love cinema.

Honestly, you could even go as far as saying I live for cinema. It has quite literally kept me alive some days. Cinema is the highest art form and I love analyzing movies. It’s a huge reason why this blog exists.

However, something very interesting happened to my Letterboxd diary in the past few months. Basically, since the beginning of this year, I’ve almost rewatched more movies than watching new movies. The era doesn’t matter for new movies — it could be a 50s film, a 90s film I missed, or something current that everyone says is awesome.

But the rewatches are interesting… a pattern has started to emerge.

I’ve slowly been trying to watch movies whose soundtracks I remember but whose plots I don’t, ever since I was in my teens. I know I’ve seen those movies before, but I don’t really remember them. I will maybe remember a scene or two here or there, but sometimes I remember nothing at all. (Example: Tere Naam from 2003)

It’s like filling gaps in my understanding of the time I grew up in.

But this year, it’s been very different. I rewatched Humko Dewaana Kar Gaye alone upwards of 6 times now. I watched a ton of other late 2000s movies that I remember pretty vividly as well — Chup Chup Ke, De Dana Dan, Shaadi No 1, Dulha Mil Gaya, Jayantabhai Ki Love Story… Quite simply, films I grew up with.

Why? I remember everything. There’s nothing new to be seen here.

I remember exactly when I had this realization… Once July hit, I was going to re-prioritize cinema as part of my life. (My Letterboxd diary says I watched 1 film in June, and 12 in July.) By the end of that month, I didn’t care to watch new films anymore.

Let’s analyze every film I watched that month.

  • Blue Valentine — Excellent, soul-wrenching, a LOT to handle
  • The Half of It — Good, not great, was it worth my time? Slightly empty
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie — Terrible but worth it since I am watching WOWP the show
  • Oliver & Company — Horrifying, terrible, felt sick and empty after
  • Frozen II — one of the most boring Disney movies I’ve ever seen, I hated it
  • Laggies — I love Sam Rockwell and Keira Knightley but uhh???
  • Life After Beth — I hated this movie. A lot.
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan — Liked it, didn’t love it, haven’t loved any of the Muppets movies so far but I’m on a quest to watch every single one in order
  • Dil Bechara — Terrible, disappointing
  • Anjaana Anjaani — The first rewatch of the month. It was a bad movie, but I didn’t feel empty after!
  • The Pursuit of Happyness — Amazing, brilliant, stuck with me for weeks after.
  • The Pianist — Holocaust porn, I did not like it and I felt slightly ill.

Notice how a lot of these films made me feel empty or ill or like they were a waste of my time. I love that about cinema. I love how it reaches inside of me and pulls at my emotions.

But maybe life is already emotional enough? Maybe I don’t need an emotional reckoning every day?

Sometime a few years ago, I stopped listening to most new English music unless it was from an artist I was already familiar with (Bad Bad Hats or Ariana Grande’s new albums, for example). English music was just too …real, something about the English language feels too real and sounds like stuff I would say.

It was one of the best decisions I made for my sanity. I worked on these huge, elaborate playlists full of Hindi songs. I also had a few English playlists full of music that I used to like (Frank Turner, old pop), or with Disney Channel music I liked (that’s practically not in English).

This was around the time I became obsessed with Disney Channel and middle-grade books as well. I had Hindi music and Disney Channel to always be… unrealistic media. I wanted to drown in unrealistic media.

As the years go by, I still want that. It’s applying to films now, too. It’s applying in particular to a very particular time in Bollywood. Romantic thrillers were abound, romcoms were perfectly blended between modern and traditional, and comedies were at their peak. It’s trashy, it’s wild, it’s unrealistic, and I love it.

There’s still a place for new films, and I’d say I watch about 50% new films a month, but actually, my tendency to watch films increases when I have palette cleansers.

I’m less obsessed with being a cinephile, keeping up with Knives Out and even something like Andhadhun (which I still haven’t seen!). Interestingly enough, my followers on Letterboxd are similar to me in this sense and we all tend to watch the same style of Bollywood movies here.

In fact, my most critical pieces about myself, my relationship to cinema, my relationship to being Indian, everything really — comes out of having critical thoughts about these movies I grew up with.

Everything I do has become in favor of comfort except maybe gaming still.

What I find interesting about this is that when I don’t force myself to read a hard book or watch a movie I know that’s going to be unsettling, I end up reading and watching more (including that harder stuff) because I’m more motivated to do the activity in general.

If enough pieces of a medium make me feel empty, the medium will make me feel empty. Even my one true love, cinema.

So, give into the nostalgia. Go crazy. Disney+! I kind of want to go on a quest to watch every DCOM ever made, but I’m not emotionally ready for that many movies about little kids. I feel like it’d be a better quest to watch every Akshay Kumar movie ever made?

Either way, self-help starts with the conceit that you’re dissatisfied with your life. As long as I have cinema, skateboarding, music, and something to read, I’m quite satisfied.

a tentative edict for guilt-free finances

My biggest takeaway from I Will Teach You To Be Rich is that as long as I’m meeting my savings goals, my spending should not matter. I’m not a naturally spendy person and this doesn’t really haunt me, but I do get anxious about “spending too much,” whatever that means.

It’s something that I’ve been working on for years — being comfortable with accumulating “stuff” is hard. It’s hard to admit to yourself, “I want a nice TV,” or “I want to eat out whenever I want.”

I have been tracking my spending via Mint for the past year or so. I used to use another app, but I don’t remember why I got off of it… Either way, Mint works. Mint links all of my accounts and shows me my categorical spending per month as well as my total net worth each month. That seems good enough for me.

Caveat: Mint is not a very good app. Personal Capital is the spiritual successor to it, but I found the Android experience to be absolutely terrible.

As far as other finance tools I use, I have a dead-simple spreadsheet that I update once a month. It literally just asks how much I earned, spent, saved, and donated each month, and calculates the total per year. Along those same lines, I also input that information into the FI calculator from The Mad Fientist. I’m not sure why I do that. I have no desire to retire early, but I think knowing what date I will be financially independent is nice.

That’s my entire finance system… It’s more mature than it used to be. I’m happy with it as is, though. I never plan to track my spending the way some people do. I already have that instinct to kind of ask myself whether this is the right thing to do when I’m buying something.

The problem is that this happens pretty much every time I’m buying something.

For example, when I was recently buying my skateboard gear — I pretty much went for the best union of cheap and high-quality. I spent several days researching the best option for each thing I bought. It was good to think it through. I ended up spending over $150 total on my skateboarding hobby, without any indication on whether or not I was going to stick with it. It could’ve been much higher or much lower depending on my other priorities, but spending more time on it allowed me to find the happy middle ground.

On the other hand, on Friday, I actually ripped through a $100 pair of pants I bought earlier this summer. I’m going to repair the hole, but something that I thought would last me years lasted months. That kind of thing tears at me. I hate when you expect something to last forever, to be so high-quality, and it just doesn’t. I feel like it’s my fault that I broke it. It was my fault! But, if I broke it, it wasn’t right for me in the first place.

There’s still that guilt for spending $100 on something that I thought was high-quality and it turning out to be a waste of money.

I shouldn’t live with that guilt. It should be fine. I should be able to move on. They weren’t right for my future as a skateboarder anyway if they ripped so easily. We need to adjust and pivot.

So, I’ve decided to look at my spending per category on Mint. This is the chart for this whole year.

As you can see, rent is obviously the biggest thing. Other encompasses other sorts of shopping — entertainment, random purchases, pharmacy stuff. This isn’t all accurate, some of it should go into shopping, some of it should really be its own sliver, but it works for our purposes.

According to the book, there should be 1-2 categories that go into guilt-free spending. Let’s take this list and categorize it into stuff:

  1. Rent & Home: includes utilities, insurance, furniture, and rent.
  2. Food & Dining: includes grocery shopping and eating out.
  3. Gifts & Donations: self-explanatory.
  4. Travel & Transportation: includes Ubers, hotels, flights, and any tickets for events that I am traveling to( eg. conventions)
  5. Shopping: Amazon, clothes, essentials & non-essentials.
  6. Entertainment & Digital: making my own category here for Netflix, video games, anything I buy digitally.
  7. Other: the last category, includes literally whatever else. Pharmacy? Cash? Whatever.

Let’s break down my thoughts on each:

rent & home

Thinking about this a lot makes sense. I don’t buy new furniture very often — pretty much only when I move, and moving is obviously its own fixed cost of major nonsense. Each time I move, I get so stressed about how I manage to spend so much so quick, but this shouldn’t happen as long as I continue to stay in the Bay Area. I like my stuff here, I like my life here, even if I move apartments, it shouldn’t be a major issue.

Being willing to invest into living in the Bay Area is hard. One of my biggest “commitment” purchases was my couch last year. It’s not the highest quality. It was about $600 for a three-seat recliner. I love it. It’ll probably only last 3-4 years, but hey, that’s a decent amount of time to commit to a large piece of furniture.

I recently bought a really nice air purifier as well (lol fires). That means I now have an air purifier and a humidifier in my apartment. It’s so hard to commit to buying this stuff because I keep thinking about moving it. Every single thing you buy is something you have to move or throw away.

But that’s no excuse to live in a home that doesn’t feel like home. Just move less. Accept the pain when it comes. I think I should buy everything that makes my home more comfortable and convenient.

This includes stuff I am woefully lacking in like home safety stuff. (I didn’t have a first aid kit until last week. I still don’t have an emergency flashlight or any source of solar charging. One thing at a time…)

Also, I am happy with my rent price. I spent a lot of time on that (obviously) and I am happy with where I live. I shouldn’t move just to move.

food & dining

This is a big part of a rich life for me. The pandemic has made this harder.

Although I know that cooking is economical and healthy, I do want to eat out more. I used to get lunch out every day, and dinner 2-3 times a week. That was all normal before we were all staying at home all day. It no longer made sense after covid started.

I feel like earlier in the pandemic, getting delivery was not ethical, but I’m starting to change my mind there a bit. The issue now is that delivery is expensive.

I’m happy to live near some amazing vegan food that I can walk to and grab food from, but even then, there’s always some guilt. I really need to work on getting rid of that.

It’s been 6 months of cooking for most meals. I still hate it. Clearly, I’m never going to like it. I should just eat the cost of delivery for places that I can’t get takeout from guilt-free. Leave good tips, order enough for 2-3 meals, and eat well. Why worry about spending an extra $10 just to get it delivered? It’s fine.

My grocery bills continue to be relatively low, as well. This was more stressful during the beginning of the pandemic because I didn’t really have a set of meals and a backlog of rice, noodles, and canned goods to rely on. Now that’s all settled and I only do groceries every 2 weeks.

gifts & donations

This is one area I’m very good about. I had a goal to donate $3000 in 2020, which is a ridiculously large amount of money, but also relatively attainable. I am currently at $2800 for this year.

I’d like to increase this with time, but more as my income increases. This was a really scary thing to commit to and I’m really happy that I reached it.

travel & transportation

This is something I always want to stress about. Given public transportation (and soon, skateboarding!), there is very little occasion to use Uber or Lyft. Let’s see how many I’ve taken in 2020… 6. Total. I shouldn’t stress about the price when I do take them then. I do it so rarely. Just do it and move on.

My flights per year are fairly pre-planned. I will fly home maybe 3x a year (and that’s a flight from OAK -> ONT, one of the shortest flights in the US) and I’ll fly to the religious convention every year. There’s very little travel beyond that.

Basically, everything I do in this category is an essential. I don’t stress about it too much, but I could stand to stress about Uber less.


This is the big one in 2020. Being at home has made the limitations of my home and the stuff I have very obvious.

I’ll give some examples…

  • Exercise gear including my jump rope, resistance bands, and my skateboard gear
  • New clothes because I finally have the mental space to think about my fashion post-pandemic
  • Physical books (even though I have a Kindle)
  • Stuff I should’ve bought before like a first aid kit, batteries, and tape
  • Air purifier & humidifier
  • Instant Pot & other essential kitchen gear

Honestly, that’s about it. When I list it all out like that, it doesn’t seem that bad. Then why do I feel so guilty about it?

It’s complicated… Of course I know what I have is enough. But that isn’t the question being asked with these questions. It’s “Will it make my life easier and better?” The answer is unequivocally yes. Then what’s the big deal? Who cares about the price?

I don’t know. I just have to keep questioning it, I guess. I don’t want to get to the point where I’m buying stuff just to buy it. Stuff does accumulate.

There’s only so much space in my apartment and my closet to give up on things.

entertainment & digital

All things considered, I spend relatively little on this and I’m very happy with my spending here. (I wonder why… Digital clutter just feels different than the stress of new physical items, maybe?)

I do need to stop buying games because I have too many, but I never feel guilty for those purchases anyway. Isn’t it weird how the relationship just does a complete 180 when compared to my shopping section?


I have no comment here. I don’t know what goes in here even. This is fine. I don’t think about this.

what should my two limitless categories be then?

I think it’s fairly obvious that food should be one.

But god, should shopping be the other? I am allowed to buy whatever I want? That feels so limitless and bad and wasteful. I think if I allow myself to buy whatever I want, then the natural limits I have should act as a buffer.

One thing is for sure… I should not feel guilty about buying a nice air purifier.

We’ll see how writing this out helps my sense of guilt over the upcoming months.

favorite song of 2017

There’s always one song per year that hits on a different level. It’s not the most popular song, and it might not even be the song you listened to the most. But it just hits you on another level.

Usually, I fly at least once per year, and I always choose a song or an album to loop during the entire flight or bus ride there. Sometimes, I lose wifi for days and all I have is this one song that just becomes my home.

This year, it happened to be Ullu Ka Pattha.

I honestly still don’t know what the song is about and I never watched the movie, but I love the instrumentation. I love how weird it is. It just stands out in a sea of …same. Somehow it’s a fast song, but it’s not a party song. It’s great to jam along to, but it’s still slow enough to chill. It’s ethereal.

I don’t have much else to say about this or any grand story. There was so much great music this year, but one song always has to stand above the rest.

what’s my definition of a rich life?

I’m reading Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich (2nd Edition). It’s awesome so far. It is the best personal finance book I’ve ever read.

I’m pretty far ahead with having done everything he recommends, but I finally feel secure enough about everything I’ve done to maintain my financial life that I can stop reading these terrible books. I’ll have a full review when I’m done reading it.

For now, a question he poses at the beginning of the book is what does a Rich Life mean to you?

I think this is a very important question, and a big reason why I am as clear-headed as I am about my financial and career life is I have always had the answer to this. I know exactly what I want out of my financial life. Here it is, in ascending orders of wealth:

  1. Being able to live alone wherever I want (size/amenities matter less).
  2. Being able to eat out whenever I want and not look at the price. This includes getting a quick drink or snack whenever I’m out.
  3. Being able to buy high-quality things (long-term things like furniture or just electronics like a phone or headphones) without having to wait for a sale.
  4. I want my net worth to be $1m by the age of 30, so that I can sustain myself even if I am unable to work in the future. (This is a really ambitious and improbable goal!)
  5. I want to donate 10% of my after-tax income each year.
  6. I want to “retire” at 55. (I don’t know if I will retire, but I want to have the funds to be able to do so.)

That’s it. Where am I on this list right now? I’m somewhere between around #3. I can buy whatever I want, but I’m still a bit anxious about waiting for sales.

I am nowhere near being on track for #4, but we’ll see how the economy and my career plays out over the upcoming years.