Big Bang – no, not the scientific explanation

Falling in love with Korean music has been one of the many turning points I’ve had in recent years. There’s more variety in my playlist now and it’s a good thing. In the last week, I have discovered yet another band that I would have been uncomfortable admitting I had feelings for 10 years ago. Nope, not that person anymore.

The big reveal? Big Bang.

Big Bang - no, not the scientific explanation

Daesung, G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Seungri

I feel like I should be shocked at myself but somehow I’m only surprised and tickled. Not ashamed, either.

I know Big Bang. After the explosion of K-Pop 10 years ago, Big Bang became one of the names I couldn’t miss in conversations, tweets, and whatnot. I ignored it all. I had no interest in Korean bands. I was also a judgmental teenager who didn’t quite know how to accept others who weren’t like her. I may cringe at the thought of my old self but I don’t hate myself for that; I can only be happy that I’ve become more open and accepting of others for who they are and what they like. It’s all in the process of becoming a better you and I don’t think it’s ever really too late to do that. Aaand I’m traipsing down the ‘digression’ path again.

Before this, I only knew Big Bang by name. I knew little else about what they had to offer. I had no idea the band comprises of 5 members or that G-Dragon is in the band or that their song ‘Fantastic Baby’ loved by my classmates and my sister’s classmates is by them or that they’re under YG, another famous South Korean entertainment company. I simply thought all popular K-Pop bands were under SM Entertainment and the less famous ones were not lol. Having stopped following mainstream news, I had no idea their latest songs hit #1 on so many charts either.

I recall my sister and I trying to watch one of their music videos a few years back. We couldn’t make it through the halfway point of the video before we closed the video. Some things are an acquired taste. Big Bang might just be one of them. Big Bang makes Super Junior members look like preppy mama’s boys (not necessarily in a bad way because beautiful DongHae… I mean… never mind). The only way I feel you would understand is if you Googled Big Bang…

A girl I call an acquaintance yet befriended on Facebook posted a clip of a Big Bang interview and they looked so oddly clean-cut that I couldn’t help playing the video. I played it without sound the first time, reading the captions and succeeding in being amused till the end. I scrolled down but found myself scrolling back up and turning the volume up.

I was fascinated by that video. Not all the members spoke but I concluded that they exude a certain charm. And yes, I was surprised to find out that G-Dragon, T.O.P, and Taeyang (whom I assumed was the same person as Taeyeon for years) are all Big Bang members (I knew them by name and vaguely looked at their pictures but never got around to reading the part that mentioned their ties to Big Bang)…

What did I do next? I did what felt most natural – I went to look up more of their interviews on Youtube. It did feel strange to be looking them up and voluntarily watching their videos but it ended up all good.

One evening was spent watching their interview on a popular Korean variety show, Happy Together. I was sold. I still didn’t know much about them but I knew that they have chemistry and personality. (Side note: I watched another band’s interview and they had very little chemistry and that was clearly reflected in their music too, ugh.) The member that stood out the most to me was G-Dragon. He wasn’t the big, scary punk with crazy hair that I had pictured in my head for years. He’s actually soft-spoken, easygoing, and polite. And he’s not even 30?!?! Um, what?

Oh, my misconceptions. T_T

Okay, then I Wikipedia-ed them, and watched a live performance of Bae Bae and didn’t completely hate it which is usually a good sign. Bang Bang Bang followed, then Loser, then even Fantastic Baby. Then I knew I’d gone too far down the Big Bang path. Oh well, here I am. I can recognize all five of them now – G-Dragon, Taeyang, T.O.P, Daesung, Seungri. Thank you very much. I don’t have a favorite but I do like Taeyang’s voice the most.

Their music is more diverse than I expected. I specifically want to point out their album MADE because I haven’t quite finished listening to the rest of their albums. The songs fuse R&B, rap, hip hop, and dance (and other genres but mostly these) so seamlessly that it almost seems like a genre of its own. Actually they’ve been constantly proving themselves to be a group who doesn’t stick any labels to themselves or limit themselves to just a handful of things. I like that. I guess you wouldn’t really call them a K-Pop group since they don’t lean towards the pop genre?

My mom and sister would most likely not would not imagine themselves going to a Big Bang concert but I’m quite sure they’ll be surprised at how much of a good time they’re having when they eventually follow me to one. ROTFLTTM (roll on the floor laughing to the moon).

I’m sorry this post was all over the place – I tried really hard to get my point across while combining some history. I’m going to go watch their MADE tour on Youtube now because I really like their MADE album. Bye.

Pretend this is tiny font: I hope my sister will like at least one song of theirs so that we can karaoke and talk about G-Dragon together ahaha.


The most random conversation

At the barbeque party my friend had two weeks ago, there was a lot of food (hot dogs, grapes, cakes, potato salad, etc.) but I noticed that there was no music, which was surprising since that usually gets people all excited and energetic. I was sitting at a table with some friends and one of my friend’s friend wouldn’t stop talking about rhythm wolf. Apparently she’s very knowledgeable about musical instruments since she knows how to play the guitar, violin, saxophone and piano! Pretty impressive, huh?


My thoughts on Riddick

Aliens — That was the only thing I knew about Riddick. I was pretty sure it would turn out as bad as Oblivion because of the word aliens. The poster didn’t look attractive at all. But my sister was going and it was the weekends, so I went… and I didn’t regret any minute of it. (I also had no idea that Riddick was a sequel and a movie based on a book.)

Riddick wasn’t just an alien show. There were no aliens, actually. There were only two kinds of predators, three if you count in the humans. The movie was a survivor’s tale. A survivor who was being hunted after being labelled for violent crimes. The first thirty minutes of the movie was about survival and problem solving. I didn’t mind that for one thing. It kept the tension going and slowly unfolded the story of Riddick. As a post-apocalyptic fiction fan, I find the perception of daily life in a destroyed world (or in this case, a planet with nothing but vast fields of land) incredibly interesting.

Riddick went on to fight the scorpion-like creatures inhabiting the land and caught himself a puppy who would later on become his loyal companion. In between all this, there was some humor, which really surprised me. It’s not often you find humor in a futuristic movie about danger and survival. (Ahem, I’m totally referring to Oblivio– yaaawn.)

The CGI wasn’t that great, but the action scenes were good. It wasn’t the kind of action that made you cower in the seat with your hands over your face. It was action you find in a normal action movie. You know, all the stealth takedowns, gory violence and several intense moments. No explode-in-your-face action (like Looper, by far one of the worst futuristic movies ever) that made me jump in my seat.

As for the acting, Vin Diesel was nothing short of stellar in his performance. His portrayal of Riddick was an A+ for me because for not one moment I felt that he was an action hero or a hero at all. He was a survivor with a set of useful skills that helped him through the tough days and that was a really good feeling for me because for once, I wasn’t watching some antihero vigilante guy or a hero who was there to play the super good or the super selfish guy. It was like he could only be classified in adjectives — deadly, charismatic, gritty, intelligent, fast.

All in all, I enjoyed it and I would definitely watch it again. If there is a specific kind of sci-fi genre that I love, then this is it.

Freaking plot twister: I wrote this post almost THREE years ago and I did not post it!! Why!! I don’t know why because this post is fabulous in the most mediocre way. I love writing movie reviews and reflecting on this and that about the plot. I believe I was writing for a gaming blog in that year, so you can see how I absolutely loved inserting a load of adjectives to describe Mr. Diesel’s character. I still do. Adjectives and characters – we belong together. Rereading this post makes me miss the movie theaters (cries) and all the fun times we all had. Nostalgic, so darn nostalgic.

Well, I hope you have a new movie to add to your to-watch list now!


Guitars and stories

Let’s face it: shopping is something that most of us like to think about. My friends are always talking about it when there’s nothing else to talk about. Labor Day was last week and I got a lot of shopping done. I’m already looking forward to the next big holiday where I can get some more shopping done. Well, probably window shopping and browsing since I feel bad about buying too many things. One of the places my friends mentioned was guitar center knoxville to get a new guitar for his nephew.


Part 6: Weight, what? (Weight, who cares?)

Conclusion… kind of.

Well, I’m still not thin by Asian beauty standards therefore I suppose I’m not beautiful. But WHO CARES? Screw the standards. Tear them down and jump on ’em. I’m okay with not being a size 2 or even a size 6 (even though J.Crew lied to me and tried to make me feel better by allowing me to fit into a size 6 dress ?!?!). I’m okay with my broader-than-Asian-average shoulders and hips and let’s not forget that mini J.Lo booty.

I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. I’ve come a long way from being the exercise-loathing person with zero sense of portion control.

I exercise, I eat healthy (have I told you about the week we ate only walnuts for lunch?), I eat poorly (have I told you about the day I allowed myself to be handed a mountain of rice on a plate and I ate it all?), I gain weight, I lose weight, I fit into my jeans, sometimes I don’t, I still have anxiety but then I read Ajahn Brahm’s book and feel better, and at the end of the day, just to be cliché, I am meeeeeeee. I am enough.

And so are you.

You do healthy you and you’re fine. Who cares what people say about your size? Okay, it hurts and you can’t help caring but don’t let it hold you back or drag you under. We need to focus on inner beauty and stop all these needless mean comments. You might think it harmless to make a comment about someone’s size or looks but it could affect them more than you’ll ever know.

Especially as a child. There’s a difference between being a bit bigger than average and being unhealthy. If a child is not eating healthy and not getting any physical activity in, point them in the direction of living a healthy lifestyle, don’t label them as fat and tear down their self-esteem. Teach them self-love. Teach them that everyone’s body is different. Teach them that there is no specific size for healthy and beautiful.

It has been a long and slow back-and-forth process of accepting and not letting people tell me how I should feel about my own body but now when I look back at old photos, I don’t see a fat kid. I see me. I see me who had no problem being the size I was. And it’s a good feeling.

I still have my days – like this one – but for the most part, I now brush off ignorant comments about my size because I’m not going to let some distant relative – or some freaking stranger – tell me what I should look like and how I should feel. You can take your unsolicited advice and shove it up yours.

Elasticized waistbands and I still belong together no matter what you say, though. They have been with me, through thick and thin. Thick and thin, geddit? Haha.

P.S: Even as I wrote this, there was a battle going on inside my head, wondering if I’m being entirely ridiculous and stupid for writing this when in reality, I was and am fat. Can you see how ridiculous it is to have ‘fat’ and all its negative implications thrust upon you and having to deal with it for the rest of your life? ‘Rest of your life’ sounds absurd but the inner fat kid inferiority complex that remains even when you know you’ve lost weight? It’s as real as real gets. Please think the next time you intend to open your mouth and give ‘well-meaning’ comments about someone else’s size.

Double P.S: You’re supposed to read the ‘weight’ in my title as ‘wait’.

In case you missed it: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.


Part 5: Weight, what? (The fitting room)

So where the heck does that first paragraph come in in this long story? It doesn’t. I’ve only just realized this after posting the first four parts. The fitting room stories that inspired the main gist of this mini-series, namely my struggles with my size/weight, don’t really tie in with the other parts. But well, who cares because I already wrote the rest of this post. So here goes anyway:

I’ve been yo-yoing. If you know anything about Christina Aguilera, you know what I’m talking about. One year she’s wearing XXL, the next she’s dancing in a tiny dress in Burlesque. Not that I have ever been that slim, no.

After slimming down as mentioned in the previous post, I put some of it back on. I acquired a new companion – his name is anxiety – in Vancouver and did a lot of emotional eating. Free flow of fish and chips? Bring it on. Oh, and can we get a refill of this endless bottle of tartar sauce? A whole box of Hong Kong roasted barbeque pork rice? Nope, not sharing. The only thing that I maintained was my butt which saw a lot of inclined walks. They say spot-reducing doesn’t work but well, inclines helped my butt stay toned lol.

The gist is I gained and lost weight here and there, now and then. Part of me also allowed the yo-yoing to happen because I wanted to resist the idea that bigger-than-average or fat is not beautiful which are society’s and many cultures’ mindset when it comes to size. Am I less worthy if I am 5lbs heavier? Why can’t I be 5lbs heavier and be okay with it? Why do I feel disgusting when I look over at someone skinnier? Nevertheless, it was a never-ending tug of war – eat, exercise, portion control, eat some more, don’t exercise, no portion control.

That brings us to today. Whew, finally.

Where do I stand on the scale, so to speak, today? I still don’t know. Even now I have no exercise goals related to numbers. I have no plans of reducing myself to a number on the scale.

I think I’m a size 9… somewhere between 8 and 10, some days a 10, not quite an 8 yet, something like that. Decent, I would say. Could stand to lose a bit more belly fat but no complaints about being in between sizes some days and a full 10 (and a half) on others. Unless, of course, mean comments about my size are aimed my way then I either 1) fall back into my thinking that I’m fat therefore disgusting and unworthy or 2) struggle between feeling like I haven’t done enough or 3) think, F off, a**hole, you don’t know my life. Or all of the above.

I came home this summer, fully expecting to continue our workout regime. I worked but I managed not to slack off. The conflicting emotions after I lose weight or drop a jeans size aren’t as severe as they used to be either.

OR SO I THOUGHT. Cue more dramatic Dracula music.

/prelude Fitting rooms here are where I am taken back to the times when people made me feel bad about my size. When I look at myself in the mirror in the fitting rooms here, I remember the younger me who had this ugly love-hate relationship with her body. I didn’t hate my body but people around me made me. /end prelude haha

The wife of my dad’s friend recently gifted us a bag of clothes from South Korea. Korean fashion is something I never thought about until I started noticing my sister’s growing interest in it. I long ago stopped keeping up with the fashion world, if you’re wondering how that interest went.

What is Korean fashion? I haven’t studied it enough to give you a thorough overview but basically flowy A-line shapes, cute layering, trench coats that look impossibly good on men (this might only be Kpop men but correct me if I’m wrong), ripped jeans, platform shoes, and no showing your shoulders or armpits (at least that’s what I’ve read). Sounds good to me since I love sleeved clothes.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, after doing brief research, when we pulled out the clothes and I immediately noticed how oversized all the clothes in the bag were. By the way, a lot of their clothes are free-size (never understood this). The other obvious thing was the empire waist/A-line shape that ALL the clothes had. They are feminine, beautiful, expensive clothes but empire waists…?

You see where I’m going with this? Oh yeah. We tried on all the clothes that looked like they would be too big and shapeless to fit.

Much to my disappointment and embarrassment, I found out that I am no Korean female idol. Dreams of joining a female idol group evaporated as I stared down at the flowy dress with spaghetti straps. I’m kidding. I have loftier goals than that – joining a male idol group. Super Junior, let me in.

Empire-waist and A-line clothes make me look like I’m pregnant. Having never been your typical dainty Asian with a small frame or flat butt or small chest, it was clear that those clothes were not made for the likes of me. I could have been the Hulk (amen, Bruce Banner, whom they recently killed off in the comics; don’t tell me I spoiled it for you, it was in the news!!) being delusional, thinking he could still fit into a pair of tailored office slacks after morphing into that angry green giant.


Photo from YesStyle. I apparently saved it halfway lol.


Did anyone even think the clothes would look remotely like this on me? NO.

Yes, I was sad. No, I will not be wearing any of those clothes to meet my dad’s friend’s wife.

Later, for whatever masochistic reason, I went to browse Korean fashion sites. To my fascination, and masochism, if you will, I noted that most clothes with sizes only go up to a medium. Well, this one hasn’t worn an Asian size M in years. Looks like I will not be shopping at online Korean fashion stores.

The fitting rooms here are where I first ‘confirmed’ the fat comments said to my face. From my pre-teen years onwards (or at least that’s when I first started looking at tags instead of just having my mom buy clothes for me) I didn’t need to bother looking at anything smaller than an L. School uniforms? Large. Okay, extra large. Jeans? Large. Size 10-12. T-shirts? Large. I was always ashamed of buying size L clothes. That is, until fitting rooms in the US entered my life. Well, they didn’t have that big an impact that time I went and gained a lot of weight but later when I slimmed down a little, I realized that I was actually pretty average-sized over there. Sometimes M even does it for me.

That was yet another aha moment for me when it dawned on me that I may not be as monstrously big as I was told and made to feel. BUT apparently, I don’t learn my fashion lessons too well because I still keep going back to try on Asian-sized clothes at the malls back here. I don’t do it often because I spend a lot of time glaring at racks and shelves of clothes, thinking, ‘nope’ but when I do, sometimes I come out of the fitting room, ready to go home and wallow in self-pity. Unless we’re going to Nando’s after that, no joke. Okay, maybe not self-pity… More like feeling irritated and angry with myself.

At a recent fitting room session, I had the sense to laugh off what I could classify as the worst piece of clothing I have taken in to try. It was a maxi skirt, size L. In my head, I didn’t look as good as the mannequin wearing it but could still somehow look okay in it. I tried it on. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I still hate trying on clothes here but at least now I know it’s not me, it’s the standards. And well, eff the standards and the people who bring down your self-esteem.


Part 4: Weight, what? (How do you like me now?)

Let me pick up where I left off and get back on track. The main topic: my size, not my fashion choices. Got it.

Fast forward to the year we left for Vancouver. At some point, I started working out more and more. Don’t know how or why but it happened. Jillian Michaels was my girl and her 30 Day Shred Workout was my jam. Only, of course, I wasn’t thaaat dedicated to the 30 Day Shred and missed days here and there. I also began to eat less. I halved my portions (I’m sorry, curry, I can only eat half of you; sorry, bowl, I’m only filling you up halfway; sorry, Asian roots, my white rice and noodle intake is being reduced for the greater good lol) but still had no one true goal to lose x amount of weight or be as thin as x celebrity.

When the term ‘thinspo’ blew out of proportion on the internet and girls started finding other thin girls to inspire them, I was nowhere near climbing onto that wagon but I did wonder now and then how awesome it would be to look like Erin Heatherton. Or at least the airbrushed healthier-looking Erin on the VS site, not the one whose rib cage was sticking out.

My mom encouraged me to find some kind of inspiration to keep going. Oddly enough, I lack that kind of drive/competitive streak which I blame partially – or entirely, depending on my mood – on the fact that I always missed joining the A (read: smart) class because my report card always somehow didn’t make it to the school in time. I don’t paste pictures of my idol or fitness quotes on the wall to motivate myself, I don’t make schedules or workout routines that I strictly follow, I don’t force myself to go on diets or cut out specific foods, I don’t think of being able to fit in smaller-sized pretty clothes. Not very inspiring, I know.

I made it very clear – well, I hope I did – to my family members that I was exercising for health’s sake, not for numbers’ or fitting into a size 2 dress’s sake. I meant it. I didn’t start working out to lose a specific amount of weight. I did it for me. I did it for my health. Because I knew that I wasn’t doing enough daily physical activity. The bonus, to me, is looking nice in things I would like to wear. Anyway, I lost weight, toned up, and for the first time ever, I felt healthy.

When people told me that I looked better after I started working out, I didn’t quite know what to feel. Of course, my first reaction was delight because people actually noticed that I had slimmed down but then later I would mull over it for a long time. Did I look better because I was thinner? Or did I look better because I looked healthier? Clearly, it was the former. Thinner, healthier, what is the freaking difference, right? To me, and I’m sure to many other people who know anything about anything, thin doesn’t automatically equal healthy.

I thought I would feel better after slimming down. Healthy? Yes. Better? I don’t know. I tried to explain it to my mom who told me, ‘Who cares what other people think? Do it for yourself.’ Truer words have never been spoken. But it was more than that, I feel. I still didn’t feel satisfied with the way I felt, if that makes any sense.

I’m not sure if I can explain it better now or if what I’m about to say accurately describes what I feel but I’ll try anyway:

I was comfortable in my own skin. I was comfortable in my own skin before people started calling me fat. I was made to feel uncomfortable even though I was perfectly okay being the size I was (which wasn’t fat). The fact that I was made to feel ashamed of my own body at such a young age repulses me. So after losing weight, I guess I felt like, ‘was my old self that bad? How much better is this? Was the old me not me? Is that all I am – a size? At size 12, I can’t be happy, but at a smaller size, I can be? Am I closer to ‘beauty’ now?

When I could have been focusing on things like building my self-esteem or working on my talents, I was made to feel self-conscious about my body?!

I don’t want people to like me because I’m thin. I have never wanted people to like me because of my size. I want people to like me because I’m funny and easygoing and loyal and practical and sometimes adventurous. I want people to like me for who I am, regardless of whether I’m a few pounds heavier or lighter. Too much to ask for? Too idealistic? Who knows?

I’m finally getting to the part about the fitting room in part 5.

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