On this and that

Hello. My mind’s been on a few things and I thought I’d spill them onto here.

On anger:

After reading this interview article, a certain part of it hasn’t quite left my mind. It goes along the lines of: people often think that there are only two ways to handle anger – one, express it, and two, suppress it. But there’s something else you can do with anger: understand it.

Isn’t that interesting? You hear things about letting your anger out by punching a pillow or screaming from the top of a mountain but does that really help? Is the anger gone afterwards? Does the anger leave with every punch or scream you make?

When I think back on the things I used to do to express my anger, I realize that it was just a temporary way to relieve my emotions. In the long run, the anger remaining would collect and eventually explode. It’s just ugly and unhealthy, the way it would collect and explode.

I’ve been trying to understand anger. It’s not easy to remember to try to understand anger but the few times that I have, it has been good for me. I realize that if I stop myself from getting angry and try to understand where the other person’s anger is coming from or why I’m angry at something, I tend to realize that it wasn’t worth getting angry at in the first place.

It’s a work in the progress so I’m still prone to letting my emotions get to me but the contents of that article have helped me see anger in a different light.

On change:

I watched a Q&A video with Thich Nhat Hanh (who as you may remember from a previous post is a Buddhist monk) and this video provoked many new and deep thoughts that I hadn’t considered before.

I realized that what he said is true. Perhaps to change someone, we must first recognize the other person in ourselves and change the things we wanted to change in the other person. Is that confusing? We must recognize that we have parts of other people in us. Everyone who has entered our life surely must have touched our life in some way (whether good or bad) and we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen and we can’t erase their existence from our life.

I’m still reading The Art of Communicating. The simplicity of Thich Nhat Hanh’s word usage is what I love about this book besides the simple yet moving messages behind each passage. Everything is just laid out for you to read and absorb.

On spring break:

That one week flew by just like that. While everyone was in New York or the beach or wherever, we were at home, relaxing. We didn’t go out much except to TJ Maxx to browse the handbag and decor aisles. On Friday, the semi-official start of spring break, we were too tired from sitting for a few midterms so we came home and didn’t do much apart from watching a few Chemistry videos and episodes of Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu.

On Saturday, we celebrated the end of midterms and the start of spring break with lunch at our favorite Thai place. Of course, we planned ahead and ordered enough so that we would have dinner (and dinner the next day lol). On Sunday, we had dim sum with a friend and that was all the outside food we had for the rest of spring break.

Which leads me to my next subheading…

But before that, I forgot that we did a few other things worthy of a mention. We finally washed our car. It’s not dirt-or-dust-coated anymore, hooray. After weeks of procrastination, we got it done in 30 minutes on a Sunday morning. We also did some spring cleaning so now stuff is kinda clean.

On kitchen adventures:

Over spring break, we made cream puffs and custard filling, shepherd’s pie, our favorite tomato and basil pasta (absolutely delicious as our professor often says about the food he’s talking about), stir-fried noodles with minced pork (so good that we had it twice), baked potatoes, German potato salad, croissants stuffed with rotisserie chicken and guacamole, and roasted basil chicken. This may not seem like a lot (or maybe it does) but that’s mostly because there are only two of us so each dish takes us at least two meals to finish.

We cooked all that except for the croissants & rotisserie chicken which were from Costco because sometimes we need a break too. Our cream puffs were amaziiing and even though it took us a long time to get everything done (it was our first attempt), it was worth it! Most of the recipes are from my mom who is our master chef mentor haha.

I have never cooked so much in my life and clearly, neither has my sister. It’s crazy. The kitchen is where the fun is at though.

Side note: I discovered that German potato salad is warm which is the way I’ve always liked it. Cold potato salad is also yummy but the warm one is my favorite because it tastes good warm OR cold.

Here, have a picture:

springbreakmeals

On more Chemistry:

Our song list has grown to 60 songs. It has been roughly 2 months since our ‘official’ obsession with them.

Here, have a video:

On writing:

A first draft of a novel has been completed. This. is. bizarre. How did I do it?! I feel like there should be a bunch of exclamation marks here but I’m somehow feeling oddly controlled about this.

No coffee was consumed before, during, or after this writing process. I always hear about coffee fueling people but uh, coffee doesn’t even cross my mind haha.

On online friendships:

My sister and I were reminiscing long and hard the other day about our Maple Story days. We had more online friends than I can count and it was brilliant while it lasted. People were so warm and welcoming and honest back then. I was 13 when I started playing and almost 15 when I stopped. Most of the people who played at that time were around my age too so it was really fun.

The 1.5 years of Maple Story resulted in lots of memories, both good and bad. We made friends and ‘families’, laughed with them, fought with them, trained with them. Sometimes I wonder what happened to all those friends and sometimes I wish I had saved some of those friendships. Sometimes I just feel a pang of longing for people I could have been good friends with. Sometimes you just know, you know.

You have been playing Maple Story for 12 hours. We suggest you take a break. so the sign would pop up in our chat box at the end of the day.

NOOOOOOOOOO, is what we would say.

We are also half-ashamed and half-amused to admit that we were, indeed, addicted to it and it was right for our mom to put an end to our addiction. But oh what glorious days those were.

On studying/living abroad:

‘Going on holiday, eh?’ the people back home ask.

I don’t think they know how far off they are. This is not a vacation to us by any means. Maybe it is to the kids whose parents fling cash at them and tell them to do whatever with it. Buy a sports car, buy booze, buy a house, buy the whole town, go on. I know a good number of kids like that.

I don’t know what goes on in those people’s lives but to me, in these 8-9 months that I’ve been here, I’ve learned much more than I would ever have if I had studied back home. This experience is rich. It has taught me so much about myself – my life, identity, perceptions, impressions, mentality, culture – and the world as a whole.

If you had asked me early last year whether I could see myself driving to school, making my own three meals a day, doing weekend grocery-shopping, doing a bazillion chores, paying my own bills (what) and fighting bugs, I would have laughed in your face and told you flat out, NO. In that sense, I guess I’ve been spoiled by my parents a bit? Haha.

But words will never be enough for me to describe how grateful I am for my parents for giving me and my sister this opportunity to study abroad. Contrary to what people wrongly assume, our parents work hard to put us in college so everyone who accuses people who study abroad of being loaded needs to shut up and sit down. Don’t lump everyone into one category based on only the other rich and spoiled kids you see.

On white vinegar:

If you missed it, we had to battle a cockroach this week and it was terrifying. Thank goodness for Victoria who answered my sister’s tweet and told us to spray white vinegar onto it. There was a lot of screaming, scrambling, and spraying. It took us 2 hours to get rid of the cockroach. Lots of vinegar and bug spray was used.

Who knew that white vinegar would come in handy?! Not me when I bought it. I originally bought a bottle of white vinegar to make a delicious chili marinade but couldn’t figure out what to do with the rest so I Googled the uses. Apparently there are 100+ uses for vinegar and I’ve since tested out some of them.

I dumped a load of white vinegar into the washing machine that day. It also helped get rid of the kitchen grease on the stove top which was a pleasant surprise because I tried using Method but it only worked to a certain extent. The other things I did with the white vinegar were clean out empty jars and rinse the sink. I need to do that with the kitchen sink soon.

If you know of any other great white vinegar tips, let us know!

On other types of ignorant and annoying people:

My sister overheard someone trying to persuade another girl to travel with friends within the US for summer.

The girl said: I don’t feel like it. Traveling is quite tiring and my dad won’t allow it.

The persuader said: But it’s FUN! You should go. Here, let me look up plane tickets for you. Look, it’s only $600 to New York. You should go. It’s really fun. -promptly starts planning out an entire itinerary for the girl-

Answers like ‘traveling is tiring’ are generally NOT accepted by the locals I know (aka ahem, from where we come from). Relatives and friends will judge you based on how much money you spend. Douche move? I think so too. But that’s the way it is back home. Peer pressure is real shit back home and no words will allow me to describe how annoying and incredibly stupid it is.

The problem does not lie in spending money on vacations because who doesn’t like traveling to places? The problem lies in these people traveling to show off/flaunt their money and judging other people who don’t do the same.

Someone’s got a Michael Kors bag? Okay, you HAVE to have one or at least a similar upscale designer bag because if you don’t, you will be disqualified from their friend list. I mean, come on, you’re not IN enough!! How can one be seen with someone carrying a $10 bag when the other person is carrying a real leather tote handmade in Italy that cost at least 100 times of that?! -note sarcasm-

Someone is paying $25 for an English breakfast which isn’t even good but is famous because of the unique decor? Someone is eating at a Mexican restaurant that serves nachos for $40 and you haven’t been? You HAVE to go because if you don’t, face disqualification and/or harsh judgment.

Someone went on a full two-week Europe tour? You HAVE to go on a similar vacation because if you don’t, prepare to face potential gossip about how you’re poor.  Like, omg you can’t afford to travel, ewww. Or, eww someone who doesn’t want to go to New York or Paris? So boring. People are judgmental, yes they are.

Does going on vacations measure my worth? No, it doesn’t, so people need to shut up and stop with their stupid peer pressure.

All I can say is, live within your means. If you can afford it, go for it. If you can afford but don’t want to do/buy/eat something or go somewhere, then don’t. If you can’t afford it, that’s absolutely fine too and you shouldn’t be made to feel bad about not being able to.

And that’s it, folks. Apparently I had a lot to say. Have a lovely little Monday.

Raine
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A peek into Tuesday

1. We left for school early which came as a surprise because lately we’ve been spending our mornings karaoke-ing to Chemistry before leaving for school so we usually end up 5-10 minutes late.

Excuse for arriving late: sorry, I had to wait for Almost in Love to end.

Actually this morning we were listening to You Go Your Way which is obviously too amazing to stop midway.

We arrived early and scored the second parking spot of the row!! That’s a first! Slid right in like hot butter and got out.

Walked to our first class.

2. 50 minutes of utter boredom later, I was rushing to my next class for a test. I power-walked to my class like I always do and today I tried waiting for the elevator which is impossibly slow but I checked my watch and decided it would be faster to take the stairs.

I climbed up 3 flights of stairs and marched to my class. Before I stepped into class, I could already see that most of the seats were filled up. Ugh.

I walked in and my professor – who is the most patient lady ever – immediately called out to me and asked me to take a seat in front since there were no more seats.

Um, sitting at the very front of the class at an odd table facing the class is one of my favorite things ever (if the class is decent). While everyone had their little desk-chair-thingys, I had a long rectangular table to myself (and later some other guy).

It was only after I sat down that I realized what was strange.

My professor, whose office hours I’ve been going to quite regularly to get help on homework for, called me by my given name.

No kidding.

She called my name so casually that it just floated over my head. But it’s WEIRD because nobody has ever called me by my given name so casually or smoothly. She’s also somehow even gathered that the second part of my first name is NOT my middle name.

Amazing. It’s a pleasant surprise. Isn’t it nice when someone bothers to call you by your name without giving crappy excuses?

The test wasn’t bad but with any kind of mathematical tests, I usually always doubt my answers after I’m done.

3. Because of the test, I came out way earlier than expected and had to wait for my sister. I wondered what to do for the time being. I walked into two buildings to look for a table where I could study but none.

I ended up sitting down at a table at another building but I barely sat for 3 minutes before deciding to head over to the chemistry stockroom to check if they had any lab coats.

4. A leisurely stroll in the windy weather later, I found myself in front of the stockroom which had an ugly blue handwritten sign saying OUT FOR LUNCH, BE BACK AT xPM.

Great.

I didn’t want to wait for a whole hour so I walked away. Where to go now? I wound up at a little shady corner by a classroom where I had a class last semester.

5. I put my bag down and played a few rounds of Sudoku while a lovely breeze drifted past continuously. When I was tired, I looked up and something caught my eye.

It was a squirrel in a leafless tree.

I watched the squirrel mess around and dangle from the branches for a few minutes and then I thought to myself, nature is so beautiful.

And almost cried. Seriously. What is up with me? Lately I’ve been finding joy in all the nature around me and it makes me emotional, I don’t know why.

6. My sister’s class ended so we headed home… And on the way back, I said, uh there’s nothing for lunch -____-

I’ve been a slob lately. I haven’t been on top of this week’s menu and it’s only Tuesday. Which means there’s still time to commandeer the ship to smoother waters haha.

Seriously though, we’ve had Korean instant noodles for lunch for the past two days.

We wanted to get Chinese takeout but in the end drove past Burger King and saw that they had a 2 for $5 deal for their fish burgers. I don’t know about you but fish burgers are tasty.

McDonald’s here is different – too much bacon and ranch in everything. Burger King has been our go-to of late (and we rarely even have fast food these days) but not so much since we found out that they took the Mushroom Swiss burger off their menu.

What is wrong with you, Burger King? That mushroom burger was the whole reason we even started going to BK.

Anyway, the Spicy Big Fish that we had wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t spicy but it was decent.

7. It’s been a mellow day of discovering more Chemistry songs that we like. In 1 month, we’ve accumulated at least 50 new songs.

I’ve said this once but I’ll say it again: if Chemistry gets back together, we are so going to their concert.

Here, have some pictures in the middle of a post:

birdofparadise1 The bird-of-paradise that my sister mentioned in her post. flowers1

Vibrant flowers on campus that I adore looking at.squirrel1

‘This angle is better.’ The chipmunk said when I aimed my camera at him.

I can’t believe he/she stood so still for me to get a picture. Little fella, you’re awesome.bk1

Said fish burger.

Other things that have been on my mind:

1. I’m reading Gangsta. the manga. I don’t know where to put all these emotions and inspirations I’m getting from it. The two main characters are endlessly fascinating and the girl too.

It makes me think about humans and relationships and the complexity of both. Come to think of it, 99% of the manga I’ve read are brilliant. They are well-written as much as they are thought-provoking.

2. My friend recently submitted some of her poetry to a site and it’s gotten quite a bit of positive feedback. I’m happy for her. At the same time, I started to beat myself up over my lack of courage all these years to share my work with others.

I’ve been writing since I was 7 but I haven’t published anything that I’ve written. ‘You’re crap’ is what I think to myself when I think about sharing my writing. ‘You’re not good enough.’

I know I’ve read things about writers often experiencing this ‘your writing is not good enough’ thing but I think it’s a bit more than that for me because I also suffer from poor self-esteem.

Yay me. It’s a shitty feeling.

3. Then I confessed my crappy feelings to my sister who obviously is my sister for a reason. AND SHE KNEW THAT I WAS FEELING DOWN.

No wonder she kept asking me: why? what are you doing? why so quiet?

And I kept telling her nothing.

And in the end when I told her, she was like, I knew it. I knew something was off about you.

But yeah. Long story short, she gave me the dose of self-esteem I needed back after all those feelings. We had a long and deep conversation about feelings.

And at the end of the conversation, she said: Remember, I’m your number one fan fo-evar.

Dammit. I’m going to cry in the bathroom now.

But first, a bonus,

Bonus: my mom sent me an IM saying: hello lil me. And I was like, why? My mom said: because you look like me and cook like me. If that is not the best compliment I’ve gotten so far, I don’t know what is.

My mom is my hero. And I hope that I’m hers too.

Happy Tuesday… Or Hump Day since it’s already almost Wednesday. Keep doing you, whoever you are.

Raine
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shouldn’t have to give a reason why

Headline news of the day: My phone bill this month costs 77 bucks.

Since I haven’t mentioned it before, I will tell you now that I barely use my phone. My phone is not my life, unlike many people who cannot bear to part with their phones even when they are in the shower.

The number of contacts on my contact list can be counted on my fingers and toes and maybe some of my sister’s fingers. I am not even kidding. I have that few contacts and half of them I don’t even contact. You must be thinking, that’s really pathetic. I don’t deny it but I’m not actually obsessed with adding numbers of people I don’t really know.

I got my first phone when I was like 14 or 15 and only because I needed it to call my mom when I was at extra classes. At 14, I distinctly remember sharing a Nokia phone with my sibling. Of course, he got more calls and texts than I ever did. I only had like 3 friends on the list and even then, I received a text like once a month?! I don’t deny the initial excitement when you first get to use a phone and when you receive text messages, you feel SO important.

I realize that nowadays people can’t live without their phones and I see kids as young as infants being allowed to use phones. Well, parents give their infants their phones to keep them busy but geez, has anyone ever heard of the word TOYS? Because kids nowadays are spoiled brats with all their flashy tech gadgets that I never even dreamed of using when I was their age. Which 10-yr-old kid doesn’t have an iPad now? I think parents spoil their kids with all these gadgets. It’s totally unnecessary. What ever happened to toys and books and running around a jungle gym??? Seriously.

Anyway, I can hardly be considered as someone who can’t live without their phones. I know the importance of my phone but at the same time, there are times when I don’t feel the need to carry my phone EVERYWHERE I go. If I’m having a lazy day, I ask my sister to bring her phone or just depend on my mom to have her phone.

Also, I have this thing about being too close to phones. The radiation can get pretty bad for me and sometimes I get headaches after being too close to my phone. Another added reason not to hang out with my phone too much.

So you see, my phone is NOT my best friend. I have trained my close friends to NOT call after 9PM or expect replies to text messages if they send texts after 9 or 10PM. I seriously don’t entertain things like that after a certain hour. I sleep early and I can’t be picking up your calls in the middle of the night. At one point, I was famous (maybe infamous) for not replying to text messages. That was in the early stages of owning my own phone. I often forgot to check for texts and my phone was ALWAYS on silent so essentially I never answered calls.

Over the years, I’ve improved on my text-reply timing. Sometimes you can expect a reply from me right away. (I prefer IM-ing more than I text and when I’m IM-ing, I like fast replies and will almost always reply to you immediately. I can’t stand seeing the ‘Person A is writing a reply…’ on the chat box and a reply doesn’t arrive until a full 5 minutes later.)

So anyway, I’m an efficient phone user now, hehe. I will answer calls and reply to texts. And only recently, I’ve discovered the magic of 3g data. YESSS, you guessed it: you can only imagine how much data I’ve been using. And since my phone does NOT have an internet plan, I use 3G which charges me a certain fee every time I use it.

AND I adore using 3G to check my Tweets. Twitter, sadly, is my addiction. Every time I’m bored or have time to waste, I log onto Twitter through my phone. Every single time. So you can only imagine how many times that is. I’ll give you a hint: it can range from about 3 to 10 times a day. You know when you’re alone and you’re feeling awkward and you don’t want to look stupid and you try to find something to do to distract yourself from being awkwardly alone? Yes, I check my Twitter every time I’m alone in public or in a crowded area where I don’t know anyone.

My frequent usage of data has led to the sharp increase of my phone bill. Being a less-than-moderate user of text messaging and calling, my phone bill usually does NOT even scrape past 10 bucks a month. But after using so much data on my phone, I did realize that I was going to pay more than 10 bucks. I just didn’t know how much.

Until I was asked not-too-happily by my dad, ‘What have you been using this month? Your phone bill is 77 bucks!’

HAHA. Initially I thought he was going to say a hundred bucks or more. But 77? That is a record-breaking amount for me. This goes down in history. I didn’t get why my dad was so pissed though. His own phone bill is more than 300 freaking bucks every month. And he won’t even get me the internet plan (who the hell doesn’t have an internet plan nowadays?) so is it even my fault for using the paid 3G?? And he should be glad that I’m not like my friends whose phone bills can be as high as his.

Oh, and he won’t even get me an iPhone. I am not a fan of Apple products because they are highly overrated and overpriced but I wouldn’t mind an iPhone at all. He won’t even get me a new non-iPhone phone. My phone is crumbling to bits and is really effing slow but he refuses to get me a new phone. He won’t even get my mom an iPhone even though HER phone is crumbling to bits as well. And my dad can get himself two frackin’ phones and an iPhone for someone else but he can’t get it for us? Whatevs, my mom and I are planning to get our own phones when the new one comes out this year.

I will end my post with my Paint-drawn graph of my phone bill and the usage:

(I think my graph is messed up and if you think so too, you’re probably right. Ah, I was never too good at graphs and I did draw this in a moment of frustration/anger.)
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