29 9/12: The Rocker

Music has always been a big part of my life, so it’s strange to con­sid­er the fact that I only seri­ous­ly took up an instru­ment the year I’m turn­ing 30, which I gen­er­al­ly con­sid­er late to be start­ing any­thing new.

I used to play piano and flute, but that was nev­er real­ly my choice. For the for­mer, it was more of my mom want­i­ng me to be a good Chinese boy, and me not want­i­ng to let her down. When it came to the lat­ter, my school had a strong empha­sis on arts, and either visu­al arts or music were manda­to­ry. I chose music1, and played the flute; far from ide­al for a teenag­er going through puber­ty and an iden­ti­ty cri­sis.

I bought my first ukulele a few months ago, and I don’t think I’ve stopped play­ing since.

Self portrait at 29 9/12

Jammin’ in my jam­mies. With what may pos­si­bly be an erec­tion.

Photo by Jess.

So much of my life has been filled by those four lit­tle strings. It’s an entire­ly new medi­um I’m still explor­ing, a mus­cle I’d yet to flex, a way of express­ing myself that’s so unlike any of my oth­er out­lets.

I get pains in my fin­gers and wrists from play­ing too much, so I struc­ture my life around the breaks; doing laun­dry, writ­ing, clean­ing my room, sort­ing my paper­work until the tin­gling or pinch­ing goes away. The pads of my fin­gers are dead. I used to fall asleep think­ing of her — now I work out scale pat­terns and chords across the fret­board in my head until I pass out. I even decid­ed to make the ulti­mate com­mit­ment and grow out the nails on my strum­ming hand because the longer they get, the more pleased I am with the sound (and I find both long nails and asym­me­try absolute­ly dis­gust­ing).

It’s come to the point where I’d rather play ukulele than play games, or go out, or talk to peo­ple. I love play­ing so much that I enjoy it even though I’m still no good at it.

I turn 30 in three months, and music is my hot hot bath, my dead end, and my girl­friend.

The Turning 30 Series

  1. Ironic that I’m so much more of a visu­al artist now. []


  1. Woot.. I love this turn­ing 30 series you have

    My music guide and men­tor is final­ly cre­at­ing his own!:)

    Awesomeness… I hope one day we both have home stu­dios with drum machines, key­boards, drum sets, gui­tars, blah blah and are mak­ing what we love most !:)

    • I told you, we’re going to be postal ser­vic­ing our tunes one day. Don’t stop play­ing with that uke, it’ll give you a good musi­cal foun­da­tion and devel­op your ear.

  2. 30 is not old, sheesh! You’re NEVER too old to learn because you should always be learn­ing to con­stant­ly be grow­ing. There’s always time for your­self. My grand­fa­ther’s 80 some­thing and he’s total­ly edit­ing his own vaca­tion videos and show­ing them to us at BBQs and pho­to­shop­ping all the pics he takes with my grand­ma. It’s pret­ty cute. He only start­ed this in his late 70s! All I did was give him CS2 and a book :)

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