The moment you’ve been waiting for: the plunge into Korean music

It has begun. Last year around this time, it was Chemistry every. single. day.

This time it’s Korean music. What is up with this time of year? Okay, so maybe this was coming… My parents have been serious about learning Korean – they text each other in Korean now – and our household as of last year has been very influenced by all things South Korea.

I’m literally 10 years late to the party. Throughout high school, my classmates were into Kpop. The explosion of Kpop started around 2006 and it hasn’t stopped since. The first Kpop band I remember my classmates being crazy about was Super Junior.

My thoughts 10 years ago: EWWW!!!!!

My thoughts now: -tears of joy-

I was not impressed at all. I wasn’t into the whole eyeliner, synchronized dancing, 10-people-in-one-band thing. Then there was the excessive plastic surgery to make themselves beautiful (though beautiful is so subjective). I couldn’t understand that. Most of them looked kind of scary to me.

Tastes change and now I find myself totally loving ALL THAT JAZZ – eyeliner, dance, huge guy group. In fact, give me more. Miles away, my mom is horrified. Okay, the plastic surgery thing is still not okay with me but now I accept that it’s their thing and while some of them aren’t really my type, there are some who are.

We always find things at our own pace so 10 years later, here we are. The irony of it all??? Super Junior is my favorite Kpop group. While Super Junior is still relevant, I feel that the newer groups like EXO and BTS are more current and growing in fan size.

Disclaimer: I’m not into the girl groups (yet, I think) but my sister is. She will hopefully do a post on that soon.

Kpop is usually bright and lively, the dance moves are killer, their makeup and fashion are always flawless, and no, you should not be envious of their ‘perfection’ because take away their makeup and clothes – and video filters – and they are no different from you and me. I feel like this is important to say because my sister and I had a discussion about this.

If we were younger, their ‘perfection’ would have no doubt influenced us in some ways and it might have been something we would have wanted to achieve or have. Knowing what we know now, we can watch these videos and look at them without feeling like they are some unattainable creatures of perfection.

Oh yeah, this post isn’t just about Kpop. I am rather – no, very – fond of ballads and the ballads I’ve discovered have been extremely pleasing.

1. Super Junior

Our favorite songs right now are Magic and Devil from their 10th anniversary album. Magic is the song that successfully reeled us in. There are 10 – or was it 11 – members altogether (I found a picture where there are 15 guys, I have no idea why) and it takes a while to distinguish between some of them but you’ll figure it out. Because they have to complete their military duty, you’ll notice that some of them are missing during different years.

I still have to wade through their previous albums to find songs I like. We’ll get there.

Someone saved me the trouble of getting screenshots from the Magic music video.

I think this is their promotional poster for Magic. I’ll name them for you to save you the trouble of Googling for a specific one if you happen to be like: oh, that one’s cute. AHAHA.

From left to right:

Row 1: EunHyuk, RyeoWook, KyuHyun

Row 2: KangIn, SiWon, DongHae

Row 3: HeeChul, LeeTeuk, YeSung (MY FAVORITE)

And this is just another picture from the music video.

The original music video was meh since there were scenes I found dull. I much prefer to watch the dance version. It’s not so much that their vocals are great, more like they make fun pop music and music videos.

2. Chen (from EXO)

Everybody loves EXO – your neighbor, your friends, the store clerk at FoodMaxx, the person sitting beside you on the plane, that girl you don’t know, you get the drift. They are huge right now and there are also 10 of them. I watched some of their music videos today and they were not to my taste.

Chen is a member of EXO and his voice is decent. His solo work is good. He’s NOT 15.

Chen’s double eyelid game is strong.

3. JunggiGo

JunggiGo leans more towards R&B/soul, which after Chemistry, I appreciate more and more. He’s only becoming popular now so he needs to sing more. My sister introduced me to his music and now I love it.His trench coat game is extremely strong. If you didn’t already know, Koreans have this thing for trench coats and until I find someone who wears it better, JunggiGo is the winner.

He’s also kind of cute, behavior and expression-wise. Shhhhhhhh!!!

4. 4men

Okay, these are the oldest guys out of everyone I’ve talked about and they are the real deal because they can sing the real-est. Their music genre is R&B/ballad.

My mom discovered them first and because our taste in music is similar, I naturally started listening to their music.

Thank you for your undivided attention. This was fun to write about. I hope you find something you like. If you’re already into Korean music, I’d appreciate any recommendations.

I’m sorry this post isn’t as thorough as I wanted it to be. I’m struggling to balance everything on my plate. PRIORITIES.

But first, not coffee, but Super Junior. See you at KCon 2017.

Raine
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First week of April

An update has been long overdue.

First off, today is my least favorite celebrated day – April Fool’s Day. Lame jokes, irritating pranks, and a bunch of falsehood make a poor combination and I cannot appreciate any of it.

Second of all, I got off early from class today. From the class that hasn’t ended early at all this semester. It’s a good thing because there was so much information to absorb and I don’t think I could’ve sat through a guest speaker’s presentation without being distracted.

This time last year was spring break. Oh how good we had it last spring break. There was plenty of time to mess around in the kitchen and experiment with recipes. Spring break this year is over and I spent half of it not doing the work I should have been doing which made me feel horrible but I was insistent on letting the break stay a break. I spent one day doing absolutely nothing but writing. Aside from the nagging guilt and procrastination buildup, it was great.

All my hobbies and interests have had to be pushed off the trundling wagon. My language learning has been stalled. I have been thinking about the many language sites I’ve visited telling you that the only way you can make progress in language learning is by cutting out a block of time for language studying and sticking to the schedule. Here’s the thing though: life happens and sometimes even when I do have 15 minutes or even 2 hours of free time, my brain is so tired that I just want to not do anything, and sometimes I have no mood to get back into that language learning zone so it makes studying frustrating and pointless.

Last week I had a surge of inspiration after having lunch with a Japanese professor. I came home and pulled out all my studying material. I didn’t get to any of it. I looked down at the first set of notes and felt guilty about not doing school work so I set it aside. That pile of papers now sit beside me on the desk, collecting dust… again. I want to get back into the momentum I was in before the semester but I know that school workload is only going to take over as the semester comes closer and closer to the end.

In other news, I finally have a functional phone again. I have been without a phone for 6 weeks. It was okay. A bit challenging at times, not being able to communicate with my sister, but mostly it was liberating. I didn’t feel the need to check my phone unnecessarily and I didn’t get distracted by the light flashing when I got incoming messages.

I can’t remember what else I wanted to say except that the only thing I feel like doing is eating. I have been craving vegetarian pizza, Thai panang fish curry, dim sum, all things pasta, all things potato, a nice big fat tray of sushi (I haven’t had decent Japanese food here, not counting the meal my Japanese friends made), samgyeopsal, Burger King french fries, fish and chips (I miss fish and chips so much), and anything homemade. I want it all. So much food, so little time, so little money.

I feel that a lot of my update posts are depressing to read. They probably are.

But if it’s not challenging you, you’re not changing, right? That’s what my friend told me today. Let’s keep hustling.

Happy Friday.

(P.S: It’s getting warm, maybe that’s why I’m irritable and have the hot weather blues)

Raine
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Old friends, new stories

Just when I was leaving an event the other day, I saw someone familiar. It was my old friend, Watson, whom I met in my first semester of college. I caught up to him and asked him how he was. He said he was fine and somehow we ended up talking about mesa boogie 6l6 tubes. I was reminded of his interest in music. He used to play the guitar but stopped because he was taking too many classes. He said that he was trying to get back into music by managing his time better.

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Awkward Encounters: same player, different day

He lives next door.

What is going on?

This is the very short story of how we came to find out that the basketball player I met lives in the same apartment complex as us.

We were cruising slowly to the gate, on our way to school (because who doesn’t go to school during spring break?). It was just a regular late morning in the car, listening to Bruno Mars’ Moonshine and putting our sunglasses on.

I had just gotten over the small bump on the road when I noticed someone crossing the road in front of me. I hit the brakes again and looked ahead… and recognized the person crossing the road.

“It’s Jose,” I said very calmly.

“Yeah, right!” My sister snorted.

It. was. him.

I was joking when I said that it was him. I was half-joking. I recognized him – headphones and T-shirt with our school mascot – but in my mind, I thought, NO WAY.

And it was him.

He looked at us. We looked back at him.

I drove off.

The next thing I know, both of us are going “HOLY *BLEEP*!” and laughing because he’s the last person we expected to see.

Now he knows. And now we know.

I was in too much shock and disbelief to have the sense to wave or roll down the window to say hello. Also, because somehow I think people can’t see me when I’m in the car.

Hello, neighbor. You have some basketball skills and we would like to continue watching you play. -rotfl-

This is getting ridiculous, I know. I have no excuse to not talk to him the next time we meet. IF we meet, says Cinderella’s stepmother. -cackles away-

Raine
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First time trying Panera

In all the time we’ve been here, we have heard about Panera but have never actually gone there. It was just never on our list of places to eat at… I don’t think we would ever have gone if not for a friend of ours who took us there one day. From what I heard, Panera is supposed to have lots of healthy and delicious options.

Does it, though? I saw a lot of white bread and deli meats (bacon, salami, ham) and some soups on the menu. Being in the major that I am, I couldn’t help thinking: okay, white bread equals refined carbohydrates equals blood sugar spikes… and deli meats equals processed foods equals everyone knows processed food is no good for you… and soups? Oh, don’t get me started on the sodium level and the stuff I learned about salt.

I’m not a health freak (lol inside joke) by any means but I was curious to know if the rich  (oh yes, they are) health freaks who eat there regularly actually think Panera is healthy.

We generally don’t order sandwiches at restaurants unless we are at Subway or Togo’s because my mom’s idea is that sandwiches can be made at home for less and better. Almost everything on the menu seemed to be something I could make at home and not have to pay $7 for half a sandwich or buy double the amount at a store for the same price.

Well, anyway, the cashier explained how to order and I went with the roasted turkey and caramelized kale panini. “Did you want half or the whole order?” she asked. She somehow couldn’t tell me exactly how big half was…? “It’s just half an order,” was her very helpful answer. I decided to go with half. It was $6.59 for half an order and I could apparently choose a side of either apple, bread, or chips. I went with bread.
sb-panera-sandwich1

So this is it. This was all it was. Maybe my expectations were too high for a place that seemed to be adored by many folks. I looked down at the panini… disappointed. I paid $6.59 plus tax for this… Can I have my money back and go home and make it myself?

Okay, but the real question in your mind (at least for those of you who haven’t tried Panera) is, was it any good?

It was neither tasty nor yucky. It was just a panini. It would have benefited from having some herbs inside but it was alright. I guess you could say it tasted ‘healthy’ since it wasn’t special in any way that would make you wonder if they had put some ‘extra ingredients’. It tasted like something you would make at home thus the ‘healthiness’ factor, I suppose.

Who serves cold, hard, and dry bread? Panera does. Who likes bread that way? Not me. It was a sorry piece of bread that couldn’t be saved by the pats of butter you tried to put on it. You look at the luscious loaves of bread arranged on racks behind the counter and think, my god, that looks delicious, I’ll have that bread. When it arrives on your plate, you find it COLD and TOUGH. I’m sure I saw a microwave somewhere in their open kitchen. They are certainly generous by giving half a loaf of bread but perhaps they are just trying to rid their kitchen of days-old bread.

The elderly lady who was with us had a hard time trying to rip her bread apart and chew it. I was tempted to ask her if she needed any help shredding it to bits. In the end, she tore the remaining bread into chunks and fed it to the birds who were more than happy to have their go at the stone-cold and rock-hard bread.

My sister got the roasted turkey cranberry flatbread. It, too, lacked any kind of appeal except maybe for the fact that it is listed on the site as being a mere 300 calories.

People who don’t know how to make their own sandwiches and have extra money to spend, I get why you love this place. People who do know how to make their own sandwiches and have better things to spend their money on (I don’t know, utility bills and tuition fees), save yourself a trip here.

I’m almost afraid to try Chipotle which is the other place that have people singing praises about…

Raine
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The radio in her car

My friend was driving me to an Asian restaurant for lunch that day when I asked her what type of music she listened to. She was enthusiastic and said that she would turn on the music player in her car to let me listen to her current favorite song. Once she turned the volume knob, extremely loud music started blasting out from the speakers. A few seconds into the song and there was an awesome guitar solo that sounded exactly like a les paul classic guitar. Needless to say, I have that song playing in my headphones whenever I put them on.

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Revamped series of Awkward Encounters, starring a basketball player

Now if you’ve been following on this dead-ish blog, you will have read my two highly interesting posts of how I failed to talk to my TA on the bus because of my social anxiety.

Those two posts are one of the many favorite posts I’ve written on this blog because they are truly a reflection of what my daily life is like so I thought it would be appropriate to recount a recent somewhat awkward encounter.

College basketball is our thing right now. We went to one game this season and we haven’t stopped going. When we take an interest in something, you can bet we will do our homework. For basketball, we picked up the free catalogs at the games, read it from cover-to-end, did some intense background reading on our school team, started following the athletics department on Facebook and Twitter, and even started watching live streams of away games.

Side note: We get our homework done.

So is it any wonder that we had our list of favorite players after the second game? Our school team has been killing it this season – the most wins in a couple of years – and it’s, of course, thanks to the players who make magic happen on the court.

We think most of the players are skilled and all-round awesome but there are two who stand out. I want to say they are easily the two best players… I think I will.

I digress. Here’s the story. We took a picture with one of those two exceptional players one fine day after a game and it was the most exciting thing to happen that whole weekend. Let’s just call him Jose* (haha, omg, I laugh as I write this because I come up with the strangest yet most appropriate altered names for people).

The story of how we got the picture? I spotted him from one end of the court – mind you, this was after the game – and I grabbed my sister’s arm.

Me: It’s Jose!! Look!!

And my sister was like, What? Where?!

She had been pining for a photo with the players so of course we had to grab that golden opportunity to take a photo with him.

You ask.

No, you ask.

Yes, we had that conversation while awkwardly – I want to say wriggling across the court but never mind – going up to him.

He was standing with a bunch of people he seemed to know. He took a picture with them then started branching off with some man – or was it a woman?

He caught sight of us shuffling forwards and made eye contact with me. I blurted out (because sometimes I experience spurts of courage): can we get a picture?

And he probably said, sure. I hardly remember what I say to people when I’m excited and nervous so forgive me.

We got a picture and floated away on cloud nine. I still wish we hadn’t said thank you and walked away so quickly. Somehow I just have it in my head that people are busy and have no time for chit chat.

I thought that photo op would be the most interaction I would ever get with our college basketball superstars and I was okay with that. The least interaction being seeing them on campus (I saw Jose once or twice at school before that).

Which is precisely what happened. Lo and behold, who should I run into after getting off the bus a little over a week after we got that picture? Yes, sirree. Jose, indeed.

Okay, technically, he walked past the bus door while I was getting off so it’s not like I ran into him. I recognized him and was like, O_O!!! How cool to see him at school again. I should say something to him… maybe…

I walked behind him then beside him. He didn’t notice. Then I decided that my five seconds of awe were over and that I wasn’t going to say anything to him. I began to pull ahead of him.

I was already brimming with confidence from earlier on when I meant to compliment a guy for being super sweet to his mom (I overheard his call to her) but didn’t manage to because I was going to be late for class and he was still on the phone.

So what did I do? I decided, you know what? Screw it, Jose played well in yesterday’s game and we won and I’m going to tell him that. It’s no big deal. It’s what anyone who watched the game would say anyway.

I slowed down and looked over my shoulder. He had his headphones on – those Beats by Dr. Dre kind which might have been noise-canceling, come to think of it – but I kind of leaned in his direction and said his name.

Hahah, it was awkward calling him by his first name because he doesn’t even know me and I don’t even know him.

I don’t know if he heard me or if he merely noticed that someone was in his face – or rather, trying to be in his face since he’s over 6 feet and I’m nowhere near that height – but he kind of blinked and reached up to tug one side of the headphones down.

Good game yesterday, was all I could manage.

I expected him to say thank you and continue on his way. But noooo… Instead, we had a conversation. Did. not. expect. that.

I’m quite sure he said, thank you. What he didn’t do was put the headphones back on. I somehow recognized that as a sign that the conversation wasn’t over. So I said something along the lines of: I’ve been going to almost every game.

He surprised me by going, oh, were you the one who wanted a picture the other day?

Yes, yes, that was me. He recognized me… @_@

Then he kind of pulled me into a side hug and went, heyyy, how are you?

Being squashed under an athlete’s armpit is a new experience for me.

It was a very Princess Diaries moment for me, I guess. This one who has social anxiety (and I do not say this lightly) was walking beside and talking to an athlete whose plays have made it into our school’s basketball hall of fame. And he was actually being rather nice.

I think my reply to his question was, I’m good. I’m quite sure I asked him back how he was doing (it’s become automatic for me) but I don’t remember.

Do you have class? he wanted to know.

Yes.

What class do you have?

I told him.

And he repeated it, his expression suggesting that he hadn’t heard of it before. I don’t blame him. The class I’m taking is something nobody would know about unless they actively sought it out.

Do you have class? Can you tell that I find ways to keep the conversation alive based on what the person I’m talking to says/asks?

Yes ma’am, he said. My sister finds the ‘yes ma’am’ phrase hilarious somehow. I’m walking over to building x and I’m just going to cut across over here and take a shortcut to class.

Oh okay, was about all I had to offer.

Okay, this is the part where I have no idea what he said after that or what I said after that but I only remember him going, Yeah, I’m really tired from yesterday’s game. I wish I remembered how we even got there but sadly, I don’t.

And then it seemed that he was about to leave but I had a burning question on my mind that I had to ask. Reason being that if I told my sister that I met him, she would want to know if I asked the question.

Uhhh, I began, effectively stopping him from breaking off and heading in another direction. You know how the women’s basketball games have meet-and-greet sessions?

Yeah.

Do you happen to know if there’s one for the men’s games?

He was like, uhhh… then went, yeah, yeah, there’s going to be one in xx (which is where they’re having their tournament finals… also a six or seven hour drive from where we are).

I deflated.

I guess he noticed since I have yet to perfect my poker face. He said, well, the last home game is on -insert date- so if you’re going to be there… (or at least that’s how I remembered him saying it). I realize that his reply doesn’t answer my original question but I only realized afterwards.

I smoothly replied, Yeah, definitely. -inserts laughing-crying smiley-

Then we were saying goodbye. He patted me on the shoulder though it felt more like a slap on the back since his hand is heavy and said, alright, have a good day (I think), see you then.

To which I replied, yeah, see you. Because we’re two friends casually saying goodbye and going to catch up on each other’s lives over lunch or outside a classroom two days from now or something. No, I’m kidding.

And that’s another story I have added to my list of awkward encounters.

Of course the overthinker in me replayed and analyzed the conversation for the rest of the day and week, and wondered why I chose to say what I chose to say and why he chose to say what he chose to say.

The overthinker in me also wonders if after reading this post, you’re thinking that I have a crush on this guy. The answer is no. I just think it was really nice of him to have a conversation with me. It’s hard enough for me to start a conversation with people so I like people who are patient with me even though I’m a fumbling ball of social anxiety. -insert thumbs up-

P.S: For every one step he took, I had to take two so it felt like I was jogging beside him. No wonder I couldn’t catch up to the other player who is 6’9.

Double P.S: I only just realized that most of my awkward encounters are related to buses… ?_?

*name changed as always haha

Raine
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Standing tall and proud

I’m not really big on burgers but I do like those paper bags my order comes in when I grab the occasional burger to go. Those bags are like the cutest things ever. Somehow they have a retro feel to them unlike the boring plastic bag.

Another thing that paper bags have over plastic bags is character. Seriously! Why did they ever replace paper grocery bags with plastic ones? They’re not only bad for the environment, they have no character whatsoever.

Sorry, plastic bags, you knew that was coming! I have nothing against you. You can be really useful, just that you’re nothing compared with a paper bag. Even your crunch is kinda stilted, unlike the crunch of real paper.

Now I don’t know about you but I hate that plastic bags have no backbone. The minute you let it go, it flops down. Unlike the paper bag who is still standing tall and proud!

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