Up in Skyspace To Get Out Of My Headspace

This past weekend, Los Angeles welcomed its newest attraction the Skyslide atop the OUE Skyspace LA observation deck. (Yes, I read that as “Wee Skyspace,” too.) The deck sits atop the recently renovated U.S. Bank Tower, and I learned that the building is the tallest one west of the Mississippi river while waiting in line for the slide.

As someone fortunate to have traveled to many places, I’ve been to the top of my fair share of tall buildings. I’m happy to say that the awe I feel each time has yet to be dampened, since I just find it utterly incredible that humans can build so much so high. Maintaining a sense of wonder, oddly enough, keeps me grounded.

tokyo tower
Tokyo Tower, seen from Roppongi Hills Mori Tower.

I think it’s the same reason I didn’t hesitate to buy a combo ticket for the Skyspace and Skyslide once I scrolled to a targeted ad in my Facebook feed. It goes to show that as strange and creepy as advertising has become nowadays, it sometimes works. In my daily life, my body rarely travels more than four stories up from the ground. And a shot of adrenaline was something I sorely needed. What better way to get it than sitting on a mat and sliding down a glass slide from the 70th to 69th floor? 🙂

IMG_8115

Besides getting a hilarious souvenir photo of myself, my ticket also provided a reality and perspective check. A trip to the Skyspace is not cheap. Between the ticket itself and pre-paid parking, it’s about $40. (Believe me, pre-paid was worth it. DTLA parking? Good luck, bro.) Of course, if you go with multiple people in a car, the parking fee seems trivial. But realizing that I could afford this small luxury? That was a rush in itself.

Here’s my view from just before the actual slide…

about to slide
Holy 2^*#$)@#

They said that if you wanted to get the biggest thrill, you could look to the left out over the expanse of Los Angeles. Most sensible people kept their eyes straight ahead. I was not one of those people. I dared to look and scare myself, and for the brief four seconds I felt like the daredevil I always imagine myself to be but seldom execute against.

I spent the rest of my time on the observation deck. My friends who work in tall office buildings probably wouldn’t understand why (or might think the opposite), but I felt invigorated being so much closer to the sun than I usually am. My current work is rather elevated yet in the weeds at the same time, and sometimes I lose sight of the “why” of it all. I’m so focused on desperately trying to understand the numbers and check all the footnotes that the details wear me down instead of painting a clearer picture. Perhaps it’s just professional infancy that I’ll grow out of. It’s definitely why I eschewed Starbucks during the week for this ticket, and it was well worth the trip to get out of my headspace.

Don’t Kick Gerald Off The Rock!

Last Sunday I attended an employee screening for Finding Dory, the long-awaited sequel to one of my generation’s beloved Pixar movies, Finding Nemo. Walking into any Pixar film, we expect an excellent story with bits of humor, sadness, and hope, as well as vivid characters who stay with us long after the theater. We, or at least I myself, don’t expect to feel uncomfortable at any point.

But that is exactly what I felt when the goofy sea lion character Gerald is introduced early on in the movie. The motif is that Gerald wants to join his fellow sea lions sunbathing on a rock, but as soon as he approaches, they forcefully bark him off. It seems my feelings are validated, since I’m not the first to comment on how the other sea lions interact with him:

  • The Blog on Huffington Post: “The One Glaring Problem with ‘Finding Dory'”
  • zap2it: “Did ‘Finding Dory’ mock autism with Gerald the sea lion?”
  • USA Today: This article is more complimentary and notes that “‘Gerald eventually has his day.'” However it also mentions that he’s aware there’s a “‘playground pecking order.'”

Loop Source: The Blog on Huffington Post

Gerald’s scene stealing is altogether short, so I’m not saying that it detracted too much from the likability of the story. It hasn’t caused an outright backlash on the scale of the ire caused by Tilda Swinton’s casting in Marvel’s Doctor Strange, so no one’s calling anyone, for lack of a more descriptive word, “butt-hurt,” yet. It is surprising that Pixar included this “you can’t play with us”-type scene though.

I share the same worry as some of the above and other article authors that today’s kids, who’ll likely have a stronger bond with Finding Dory than its predecessor, may watch Gerald getting bullied (playfully or not) and decide that since it’s all in jest, it’s okay. Obviously, it’s not. I hope that kids (or adults!) don’t kick the Gerald in their lives off the rock.

Maybe I react this way because at some points of my life, and come to think of it anyone else’s life, we have been the Gerald or had a friend who was. He’s a little different in appearance, personality, and maybe mental ability from everyone else. When I started pursuing figure skating seriously as a tween, I was a little heavier set than everyone else. I wasn’t into the same celebrities, and I preferred Japanese rock over Justin Bieber any day. (He’s okay now.) I felt the exclusion that comes with a clique not willing to let you in, and it hurt my self-esteem at the time. There wasn’t any sea lion barking, but there were side glances, which are just as poisonous to a tweenaged girl.


As for the rest of Finding Dory, we all know the expectations for it were incredibly high, and the movie as a whole impressed me for the technical advances in animation and creative storyline. At times maybe a bit too creative, as I found it hard to imagine a whale shark jumping out of its tank and back into the ocean…

whale shark and diver
Source: Tiger Quoll’s Photobucket.

But the overall pieces fit into the ending so well that I was taken by surprise when the dots all connected. I can’t imagine the number of ways that were brainstormed for how to find Dory, but I sincerely loved what they came up with. Have you seen her yet?

Humor Me: I’m a fan…

I realize that by publishing this revelation to the internet, it will always be attributable to me, but there’s no need to hide this anymore. You’ve also probably had a long hard week and deserve a good laugh, no? Well I have, so here goes.

As I was doing some digital spring cleaning, I came across a word file titled simply, “JA.”

“JA”? Whatever could this be? I clicked it open and pretended to myself for the briefest second that I didn’t remember exactly what this was about.

Ah, yes, this was my two-chapter long piece of fan fiction about an original character I created (that’s “OC” in fan-fic terminology) and her romance with a character named Jack Atlas. If you remember a little cartoon series called Yu-Gi-Oh, you might not have known about (or even been in the target demographic for) an offshoot called Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s! In it, you’ll find this studly character with dangerously spiky blonde hair.

brooding jack atlas
Those studs. Those spikes. That brooding.

Some people are infatuated with Ryan Gosling. Chris Hemsworth. Chris Pratt. Chris Rock. You know, the usual fare. Oh no, that wasn’t enough for me. I had a crush on a cartoon character! They don’t get more inaccessible than that.

You may ask, what did I see in this character to develop a crush so strong that I wrote an embarrassing Harlequin-paperback-type story in which I, through an OC, lived out my cartoon fantasy? Honestly, I can’t tell you. The character is brash and arrogant. He’s the equivalent of today’s esports star backed by corporate sponsorships. …Okay, that’s still a bit out there, so think of him as the Lionel Messi of a dueling card game.

I can’t lead you on like this without providing some juicy bits from my actual fan-fic, so as promised, see below for the hilarity. Some background, my original character’s name is Hana, and she studies piano performance at Edelweiss, a school I also made up for the fic. Jack the “King” has ascended to the top of the card game competitors’ circle, and Hana is a childhood friend turned girlfriend. When Jack left their poor childhood home to become a star, he convinced Hana to follow along, but her heart may still belong to…Yusei, a different childhood friend!

Today, she had neither the energy nor inclination to argue, so she simply sat and laid her head back on the white leather couch and listened to her MP3 player, a gift from the ‘King’ himself.”

MP3 player? Well, at least we know I didn’t write this too recently.

His words pierced her core; he knew and had seen her depressed and indignant when she wanted to just give up caring for her sisters and her dreams. Her watery eyes released some of the tears she had harbored for so long, hidden from almost everyone.

Just look at that diction. Indignant. Harbored. Pierced!!

“Yes, I am. And don’t start–,” he put two fingers against her lips, “with that betrayal story.”
She shook his hand away, “Then what do I do?”
“Nothing. Except know that I will protect you.”

Fingers, against, lips! The p-word! Sigh, I think I could have been Stephenie Meyer had I kept going.

“Yusei. Yusei I’m so sorry! I really am. You have no ide-” She didn’t get a chance to finish her sentence because he had swiftly wrapped her up in his arms.

(wheeze) (rolling on floor) (laughing or crying can’t tell)

“Yes, I did, and I still do. And I will always care about you. Even if Jack does win you over, I will always be here to catch you when he lets you down.”
‘I love you too much to let that ever happen.’ Yusei thought.

I don’t make this stuff up. Okay technically, I did.