About Me

an brief introduction!

I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.
Lemony Snicket

Here I am at the beach!
Here I am at the beach!

Hi, my name is Often L. Zhan, and I'm a twenty-something-year-old young adult with mixed Asian heritage. I'm the youngest of three brothers and the oldest of no sisters. Currently, I live in the fringes of San Francisco improper and spend the bulk of my free time playing Dungeons & Dragons (3.5E), reading fiction, journaling, and writing notes.


It's always nerve-wracking to write an introduction. An introduction sets the stage for what is to come and provides the reader with a first impression of the writer.

In my case, it's even worse because this blog is brand-spankin' new. Actually—to tell you the truth—this is my first post, and I think I am doing a mighty bad job so far.

How can I introduce you to a blog that doesn't exist yet? I'm not sure, but that's OK.

Like you, I'm going into this blog blind. I'll figure out what I'm doing on the job as I continue to work on this blog.

History Leading Up to This Blog

So where do I start? Well, I began journal writing since I was in 3rd grade but underwent a long writing stint between 5th grade until early college—ever since my mom rummaged through my room, found my journal, and asked me, "So who is this Susan, and when can I meet her?"

During this long hiatus, my middle brother also wrote a blog when I was younger (during the Xanga era) that ended up angering a lot of people. It endangered both him and myself, and we were advised by the principal to not go back to school for two weeks in fear of being lynched. This event made me hesitant to write publicly.

It wasn't until taking Storytelling 101 my freshman year of college that I decided to resume the craft of writing. During this time, I became a voracious reader and a free-spirited amateur writer with longing, desperate hopes to become the next Robert Heinlein.

However, the changing point in my writing was when I gallivanted across the countryside picking up odd jobs after college. That's when I truly saw the slums, multigenerational poverty, and drug abuse. I was not a part of this world, but rather, saw the cruel reality of this world for the first time. During this time, I wrote desperately. Why? Well, I needed something—an outlet, a voice, a hobby—because without it, the events I witnessed would have crushed me into despair.

After this chapter of this life ended, I kept writing. Why? Well... I don't know. It makes me happy, and it's now a habit (like sitting on my left foot whenever I sit down and cursing myself afterwards because when I stand up, blood rushs into my oxygen-deprived leg making my foot feel like a balloon filled with angry entrapped bumblebees).


I've been researching online about how to write a good blog, and they all say the same thing:

  1. Garner a niche audience.
  2. Write consistently.
  3. Write something worth selling.

In other words: Make your blog a commodity. As a result, I was bogged down for a long time in a fruitless effort of planning a profitable, nonexistent blog.

So, what is the purpose of this blog? Let me tell you! Um...

Ah, this is going to hurt. Just say it and get it over with. Like ripping off a bandaid.

I DON'T KNOW. I have no idea what I am doing.

None. Nada. Ziltch.

THERE! I said it.

This blog is just a place for me to organize my thoughts and interests. A place for me to consolidate my scattered ideas into one neat package. A place for me to reason out the events of my life and somehow give these experiences a sense of purpose and meaning.

Hey... that actually sounds 'purpose'y! Now I don't feel so bad.

So, what can I actually say about this blog? While I can't predict the future of this blog, I DO know my interests, values, and beliefs.


I always try to make it an effort to pursue what I believe. Who I am determines how I will act, so I better know who I am and plan my actions accordingly. Here is a list of some of my core beliefs:

I believe everything has a purpose.

As in, we all have a collective destiny and a higher purpose. From a teleological perspective, I believe that everything was made with an intended reason or cause (Principle of Sufficient Reason). Therefore, all of us have a responsibilty and a role to play in this big narrative called life.

As a result, I reject nihilism. I'm not trying to find purpose in a purposeless world. There is no "Searching for Godot".

I believe that writing will change the world for the better.

I'm not talking about New York Times Bestsellers or Publitzer prizes either. I just believe that writing is an ongoing movement that can never be truly usurped by radio or television, and I want to be a part of that movement.

I believe structure gives birth to creativity.

For intensely large creative endeavors, a well-planned workflow, time manangement, and goal setting are critical. There are many projects I want to complete, but the only way I can accomplish all of them is by structuring my life.


Here are two interesting economics questions:

  1. What determines something's value.
  2. How should and, just as important, how does an object's value drive consumer demand?

To say the least, while the question is simple, the answer is quite complicated. However, one thing can be said for sure:

The role and purpose of someone's core values differs from someone's core beliefs.

For the sake of brevity, let's put aside the Hows and Whys to all these questions and comments are for another post. Here is a list of some of my major core values.

I Value Content-Creation.

There are three major types of Leaders.

  1. Innovators - Those who pave the way for new ideas. They create things the world has never seen before.
  2. Supporters - Those who encourage and provide assistence to individuals who take innovative risks.
  3. Maintainers - Those who preserve prexisting content through tending and teaching.

Though a good leader has a balance of all three, I can't help but lean towards innovation.

One measure to use to determine whether or not I want to invest in someone is to ask that person, "What are you passionate about?" and "What are your hobbies?". If their response is comprised entirely of napping, watching TV, exploring new places, and reading (Shocking! Right?) and nothing about producing anything of their own, this would raise a red flag. At most, I would probably keep our friendship at arm's length. Why? Because if all they do is consume, I find myself quickly getting bored. Also, I'm not just looking for friends but also comrades, shared in the common goal of ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING. Not just complaining or ditching the situation when it gets difficult. These up-hill moments may be strenous but if done with the right intentions and approached deeply and intentionally, they are what makes life worth living.

What do I want to create? Many things. However, my biggest passion is this:

I will become an accomplished writer.

The reason is simple. I enjoy reading books so much that I want to give back.

I Value Reading

My lofty goal has always been to read 100 books a year which I always fail miserably at (except for 2015 where I read 102 books). Usually, I end up reading somewhere between 25 to 50 books from my reading list.

My favorite genre of books is Epic Fantasy. Wheel of Time, The Assassin's Apprentice, The Third Law... they're all good. I've decided not to read or watch Game of Thrones until the entire series is finished, so don't spoil it to me. Or do spoil it. Whatever, I don't really care.

The current fantasy series that I'm reading is Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen.

I also find myself reading a copious amount of low-tiered self-help books. Yes. I admit it. You know what I am talking about. We've all seen them. Those books with trite buzz-words like Authentic, Attitude, Motivation, and—more recently— Mindful. They all pretty much say the same thing: "Work hard and stay positive". They're predictable and rarely ever carry any deep philosophical substance—but hey—they make me feel good, and I can usually burn through a book or two in an afternoon.

I Value Project Management

I am a pretty scatterbrained and messy person. It's a family thing. Last-second decisions... Impromptu adventures...

While I'm proud of this family trait, this unfettered personality falls short in setting and achieving long-term goals. As a result, I always find myself in a messy workspace with dozens of unfinished projects. It wasn't until recently that I found the secret to success.


Have a big project? Lists!

Feeling overwhelmed! Lists!

Single and ready to mingle? Lists!

Break it down into small manageable steps! Cross out each step one-by-one as you complete them and guess what! You've finished the entire looming, impossibly large project!


In short, lists are awesome, and you will see a lot of them.

Wait... what was I suppose to be talking about? Oh yeah! Project management! Well, lists were like my gateway drug to other project management and leadership skills. You'll see me reflect on many aspects related to Project Management Skills including gantt charts, flow charts, lists, and other organizational skills.

I Value Cooking

It was not until I became older that I appreciated cooking. They bring people together with something that everyone can enjoy. Also, home cooking is economical. At least, in theory.

Despite my parents efforts, I've never felt the need or compulsion to become a better cook. They've tried to teach me, but honestly, they're bad at it. One phrase I absolutely loathe is "add to taste". I get it when you use it for salt and pepper. But not for cinnamon, soy sauce, or any other herbs and spices. That is like saying 'add flour to taste' when making bread. It's complete and utter poppycock.

I need order. Order! Order in the Court Kitchen. So... I've developed a plan. A flowchart that evolved into a Gantt chart that will build my cooking skills from the bottom up.




If you can't tell, I'm sweating profusely with excitement.

I Value Health

My job and my fun are all sitting down stuff. Also, I've never been super sporty. Once, I once asked my parents if I could join a football team, but my mom feared I would break every bone in my body and refused to provide her blessing and support. As a result, I joined the chess team and got chubby. Not obese. Just chubby. A year ago, I decided to lift weights, eat healthily, and run. I'm nowhere near where I want to be, but it's a start.

I Value History

I have always struggled with identity and acceptance. Don't ask me why, but I thought I would have everything figured out by the end of college. Anyways, this feeling of identity is what started my desire to learn more about family history. Eventually, my interests spread outwards to include the Eastern Front in WWII. From there, I began to learn about the Roman Empire.

And the rest is history... to the rest of history. Wow, I can't believe I just said that.

However, my interest in history is still primarily family driven.

I Value Writing

I have some upcoming and ongoing writing projects. They can be found here.

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