Thursday, May 10, 2007

Birthday Post #01: A Brief History Of Me

In four days, we come across the most insignificant day of the year: my birthday. I gave up long ago making a big deal out of it, because it's usually very inconsequential to me. Also, many people don't realize how bad it is to have a birthday in May, schedule-wise. Having a birthday in November or December is bad for obvious holiday-related reasons. But the main culprits in May are graduations and weddings. Sometimes my birthday falls also on Mother's Day, like it did last year. Given how little patience I have for difficult scheduling, I just don't even bother to make plans.

However, having a birthday and a blog does give me a prize opportunity to be unapologetically self-centered and write about myself for a change, since we all know how leery I am about that (haha). So I think I'll write a series of birthday-related posts this week and we'll see how many of my readers are ready to put a gag on me at the end.

I was born on May 14, 1977 in Cheverly, MD, a town which I have no recollection of, and have been meaning to visit, so I could tell people someday how I rose up out of the ghetto, with my black name and all. I was the first born in my family and blissfully enjoyed life as an only child for two years, until my first brother was born.
When I first started to speak, I was about three years old, at which point my first memory is me sitting in a La-Z-Boy chair, watching The Dukes of Hazzard in our apartment in New Jersey. I can only imagine that at that moment I was a) silently taking in everything around me, plotting my master plan to dominate the family structure; b) humming quietly because I was an infant genius utterly bored with my current company; c) or sitting, strapped to the chair, so I wouldn't fall down the stairs again.

I soon mastered English, once I realized that my mouth served a purpose other than chew and drool. I caught on to English so well that today I even have a blog. Woo-hoo.

I suppose I was a smart kid, pretty early. But due to the Asian parental academic pressure instilled in me since pre-school, I was pretty socially inept, which still holds true today.

After pre-school, we moved to Virginia and I was ready to take on the world. I entered Kindergarten at a public school near a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Waynesboro, VA. I breezed through Kindergarten with the best show-and-tells and an unhealthy obsession with The A-Team (you can see my tv habits were developed early). After Kindergarten, we moved to Charlottesville, where I would live for the next 12 years. In Grade 1, I began to learn about classroom politics and in my rebellious and stubborn nature, refused to take part.

In Grade 2, I got a tonsillectomy and went through a lot of complications that required me to go back to the hospital after I threw up blood (sorry if I grossed you out). In Grade 2, I also cried in the middle of class because Anna (I forget her last name) announced to the entire class that she had a crush on me.

I think in Grade 3, I began to fear my own genius. I was kind of a rebellious third grader, maybe because Ms. Locke was this evil bitch and I did not get along with her. I do remember that we did have a semi-sweet bonding session because for some reason when I was little, I really liked going to the dentist, and Ms. Locke used to be a dental assistant.

Grades 4-8 were pretty non-descript, defined really by my choices in wardrobe and as the sole Asian kid in my entire grade. I switched schools again in 4th grade when we moved out to this tiny town just outside of Charlottesville, that basically consisted of a post office. I graduated 5th grade as the front runner for the 5th grader of the year award, but lost to some other guy. It's a loss from which I still haven't recovered.

Things picked up in Middle School. I was at a new school and the New Kids On the Block were gods. I picked up the saxophone and was starting to learn of young teenage love. I had a "girlfriend" in Grade 7, if you could call it that. I think our high point was going to the movies together and then a month later, she unceremoniously dumped me. By the end of middle school, I had a great group of friends, including my best friend, Ryan Zackrisson, who I've lost touch with and no Google search has ever been able to come up with anything on him. I also had a crush on my 6th grade Social Studies teacher, Mr. Maher (I started gay at a young age, I guess.) I still remember on our 8th grade class trip, when he showed us his boxers because he was so proud of them, but now looking back I probably should have told our principal that our teacher was sexually harrassing us.

I left J.T. Henley Middle School as the Best Dressed Guy (voted by my classmates) and was forcibly switched to a private, quasi-Episcopalian (who are the wimpy Catholics) and rather snooty school. To this day, I feel bad about not keeping in touch with my public school friends, especially the aforementioned Ryan, and my Cub Scout buddy Cam Dirickson, who I had a brief reunion with at Kaplan SAT class. But I made some new friends including her (who really needs to update her blog one of these days) and him and him.

I got pretty good grades. Then I encountered Biology and stopped doing well in school. I became our school's resident trivia expert as captain of the Academic Team, which was fun in high school, but in college extremely dorky. I also got glasses and focused a little too much on my studies. I played on our high school tennis team as well as a few local tournaments (and one in Florida). I even won a few trophies, but more for Academic Team, than tennis. For some reason, I got really shy in high school, which is a trait that is stuck with me today.

I give college mixed reviews. I ended up having a single my Freshman year, because the person assigned to my dorm ended up going somewhere else. I joined Model UN, and am still pretty proud of my gavels (no, that's not a phallic metaphor). I was a little lost in college, both personally (I'm much too cynical to say "spiritually") and geographically. Penn was still in the midst of taking over West Philly, but the neighborhood was still definitely "not so good" with "not so good" people wandering around.

Graduation came and went. After that, I moved to New York where I lived in an assortment of apartments. I took a job at a law firm, and ended up staying there for six years. While I don't work there anymore, my career, I think, has been what you might call "stagnant." I also came out at age 26 and haven't looked back since.

That brings us to my life post-coming out, becoming an amateur gourmet, dating some cool guys, dating some really dumpy guys, traveling a bit, developing an unhealthy obsession with Canadian Maple Leaf Cookies and frequent flier miles, watching every episode of every show that J.J. Abrams ever made (Felicity, Alias, Lost, Six Degrees), and then in July 2005, while wallowing in self-pity from a broken arm, starting up a blog called TCho's World, which depressingly enough, may prove to be my crowning achievement. Unless, you count the time when I hit a ball with my racquet frame and the ball--I can't stress this enough--MIRACULOUSLY landed inside an empty tennis ball can, as if the hand of God had dropped it in there himself. Who I am kidding? Of course that's my piece de resistance. That will never happen again in the history of time.

In summation, 29 years, 361 days, no boyfriend, very little responsibility, an addiction to expensive shoes and really salty pickles, contact lenses, a somewhat odd collection of friends (one of whom still holds a grudge against Brad Pitt for leaving Jennifer) and an impressive scar that allows me to brag to all my friends about my bionic arm. I can see it now. 30 will be the best age for me since 29.


teahouse said...


Happy birthday! Sounds like a pretty awesome life so far, if you ask me.

14 is my favorite number. And May 14 is my fantasy birthday - if I could pick a birthday, it would be May 14. Weird, I know.

The 30s are even better. I promise.

Anonymous said...

From Jayne: Yes, "she" does need to update her blog. Seriously. But enough of her: Happy Birthday to you!! A great life's story that is only just beginning. I wonder what you will be doing at 150, with your bionic arm (and likely, by that time, other bionic parts ...) Living in NYC must be an amazing experience, in and of itself. For you to survive and thrive there is a testament to who you are! Happy, Happy Day of YOU!!! Thank you for sharing your blog. :-)

PocketCT said...

Happy Birthday TCho! I hope your 30s are wonderful for every aspect of your life.

GrooveTheory said...

Awww ... Terrence in a nutshell ... LOVES IT! Make me wanna pinch you in a the cheeks!

If I don't speak to you then, HAVE A HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! And IT IS a significant day :) LOL

David said...

All I can say is that 30 was the start of an amazing decade for me. Especially for us gay boys who didn't come out at 14, the 30's are where you hit your stride. I came into my physical and mental prime, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

PS Are you joining us for the Gay Blogger confab over Memorial Day weekend? Please consider it!

Kristy said...

All right, I'll try. Sometime soon. But in the meantime, I find your life FASCINATING, and I think every "Sex and the City" addict would agree with me. I remember when I visited a few summers ago thinking how glamorous your life must be living so close to the park and paying someone else to do laundry and just buying a new shirt when you have no clean ones and stuff. And I'm glad we've reconnected, not that we chat all that often, but I still love being your friend. Happy (early) Birthday. HUGS!

Michael said...

Your 30th Birthday is a big deal. I'm glad you didn't let it come and go without saying anything. And David is right--the 30s are where it's at, baby. (He says as he clings to the last of his own!) HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

macboyx said...

Happy Belated...

Thank you so much for sharing your life. Too bad I couldn't have met ya while you were in West Philly!

30 was just the start of my life... you've got much to look forward to!

thwany said...

happy bday.

have some meeyuhk ghook!

kevin said...

I am so happy that you are coming to NZ. You will have a great time here i assure you.

If there is any info you need or want just drop me a line and i will be very very happy to sort it out for you. The flight here will be long but you wont be disappointed. It is very different to New York. We are friendly so you shouldnt get any hassles at all. If you are down on the South Island Tcho you must come and see me and i'll even treat you to a real kiwi dinner.

Here's to February.
Kev in NZ

kevin said...

By the way, i forgot to say Happy Birthday. I send you a big kiwi hug for your special day.

Kev in NZ

Aaron Weber said...

Thirty is great. It means you can begin to prepare to settle for less. It's a lot less pressure once you decide not to give a damn about greatness.

Ming_the_Merciless said...

1. Happy Mother's mean, Happy Birthday. Whatever, they're the same day!!

2. Define "girlfriend" from 7th Grade!!

3. Who hasn't had a crush on a teacher at some point in his life.

4. Cool stories.

Todd HellsKitchen said...

Great post!!!!