A rare update

So… how long has it been since I’ve written a proper post that isn’t about KPop? The new year, I’m thinking.

Here are some things that have happened:

  1. Graduation. We did it. The slowpoke finally graduated. It was hard to watch my friends graduate a year or two ago but I’m happy with the way things turned out for me because college really is the best time to do a lot of things. Now that it’s over, it doesn’t feel read. It sure will feel real soon enough…
  2. Watercolor fun. We painted cards for friends over spring break and it was so much fun. I never knew how to use watercolor but I’ve discovered that they are so fun and easy to use. You can’t really go wrong with diluting watercolor and making random drawings. I’ll see if I find the guts to post a picture of a card I made.
  3. Kitchen adventures. Right now, I’m obsessed with the potato soup we made for the second time. It’s so chunky and luscious and I think it’s definitely healthier than those you get outside. We made too little and I keep wanting to make it again (with bacon but don’t tell anyone).
  4. Travel. We have been hitting up national and state parks and they have all been wonderful. These city gals have been soaking up a lot of nature time which is something we don’t get a lot of back home. The drives are long and tiring and sometimes kind of unnerving (no cars in front or behind you for miles?!) but worth it!!
  5. Post-graduation life decisions. Uhhh, don’t wanna talk about it.

What are you up to?

Raine
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And then

After one year, I went to the free and anonymous anxiety screening session to find out if I really have anxiety or not.

Long story short, it was a completely useless event. An online search for anxiety survey would have saved me a trip if I had known that it would be nothing more than checking a few boxes with extremely broad questions and having a trainee psychologist stare at me in silence after asking me what I wanted to do.

The moment I sat down, she said, ‘hmm looks like your scores were low… you have some anxiety… so what do you want to do?’ And stared at me from behind her false eyelashes with a stupid condescending smile.

(Thank you, Captain Obvious, for stating that I have SOME anxiety. I could have told myself that too.)

And I’m like, ???????? She’s asking me?????

She continued, ‘There is individual counseling and then there’s group counseling. Which are you thinking of?’

(How the fudge am I supposed to choose when you have given me NO information. And do I have anxiety? What kind? Can I tell you my problems? Is that not what you are here for?)

She kept suggesting that I attend group counseling and when I asked her how I could do that, she said I could just call in.

If she bothered talking to me a while longer, she would know that I have social anxiety when it comes to phone calls. I avoid phone calls as much as I can.

‘Do you have any questions for me?’ she asked, not looking interested in answering any that I potentially had.

I asked her what types of anxiety there are, hoping the conversation would go somewhere.

Her reply: ‘social, phobia, general…’

No discussion of my scores, no ‘how are you doing’, or ‘what’s been on your mind lately’ or even the slightest comfort in any way. She was NOT warm, NOT welcoming, and certainly NOT helpful.

So that was messed up and I left, feeling shocked that those people can even be allowed to be psychologists or counselors. I have spoken to teachers, friends, and strangers who have offered me way better words of wisdom and comfort. I am concerned for the people who have larger mental health issues that saw those ‘counselors’ today.

But even though those people didn’t have anything to offer me, I kind of stumbled upon the kind of anxiety I might have. High functioning anxiety, is what it’s called. I don’t know how valid it is but I read several articles on it and I could relate to almost everything they said about high functioning anxiety (HFA).

At first, I doubted it because I looked at the statement about how people with HFA sometimes feel the need to leave a room full of people immediately without reason. I thought, I don’t do that. I don’t know who I was trying to kid but it suddenly hit me today that I certainly do that. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been at a social event and suddenly I turn to my sister (or myself if I’m there alone) and say, oh God, I want to leave right now. I need to leave right now. Can I leave now? And I would sometimes even feel sick.

I had no idea it was even a thing. I thought I was being over-the-top. I am type A, I always need to ‘go, go, go’, I don’t catch a break, I stretch myself so thin by taking on everything (omg this), I compartmentalize my emotions to the point of thinking that I’m fake with people because I can’t show my real self because people will hate me if I show them my real self, I always think I’m not good enough and not doing enough and letting people down.

This is me. Now I get it.

I have no real ending to this post but somehow knowing that there are people out there are feeling the same way I do makes me feel slightly better. And also, I guess after meeting such cold and unhelpful counselors. it makes me want to be the person people can come to, can feel safe around, can feel vulnerable around without feeling judged.

Please be kind.

Raine
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Post-Thanksgiving shopping

My sister and I just agreed that we’re excited for our Black Friday packages to arrive because it means that we’ll be able to buy more stuff. Kind of like an advising hold before applying for classes. It’s a nice thought and a girl can dream (even with a tight budget), right? It’s nice to be able to see, hear, smell and touch stuff that you buy online. The beauty of online shopping. The wait is what gets to me. I’m usually not very excited when I order stuff online (because money, guys) but as soon as the arrival date gets closer, I realize that it might all be worth it!

I’m already starting to look at music instrument websites and other Christmas deals that are starting to pop up. Who said that winter is just about freezing in your sweatpants and sleeping in like a hibernating bear? There’s stuff to be bought! Sales to go to! Research to be done!

My tip for online shopping for those with a narrow wallet like mine is to think of how you’ll be able to buy something better in the next season. Fashion is always changing so even if you really wanted that pair of harem pants that all your friends are wearing, something new and even better will be popular the next time. Plus it might look really good on you! And it’s not just about clothes. Kitchenware designs, watches, earrings, printers! So don’t fret!

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Awkward Encounters: the apartment on the second floor

You know the basketball player I successfully had a conversation with last semester? I meant to wish him good luck in his future endeavors since he was graduating at the end of the semester. Well, as it happened, I only ran into him once and I was in a rush so I simply and breezily said hi to him. He said hi to me and that was it.

I went home for summer and he graduated. Summer went by and basketball season seemed like years ago.

Two weeks after returning to our apartment, we were outside one day giving the car interior a quick antibacterial spray. We heard someone’s door opening and closing then two people talking.

We are, um, rather antisocial neighbors so we try not to bump into anyone but if we’re forced to, we’ll just exchange greetings.

I looked up and saw that there were two people coming down the stairs from the apartment opposite ours. My eyes couldn’t believe who I was seeing but yes, it’s true. It was him – the basketball player. I mean, our new neighbor. He was with his girlfriend.

My eyes couldn’t believe it but my reflexes were quicker.

“OH MY GOD, IT’S HIM!” I think I whispered to my sister.

“WHO?” She tried to look over her shoulder.

“GET IN!” I dove into the backseat and pretended to be busy digging for something.

We both were lying across the seats and had our legs flailing outside the car (obvious dramatization) but better than an awkward situation where we meet each other’s gazes and he recognizes us and is like, wth??? No, no, no.

So yes, hello, new neighbor, how bizarre.

He spotted us last week. He seemed confused and surprised and probably doesn’t believe that it’s us. Same. Well, I’m over my reluctance to run into him but still, the initial surprise lingers because how the heck is the world so small?

Not sure if we’ll see him at this season’s games as an audience member but until then…

He has a small dog and lets the little thing run around and does its business on the grass between the apartments. First off, that’s not considerate and second, THE SMELL!!!

Maybe we need to have a word soon.

Raine
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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?

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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.

kfashion-dress5

Photo from YesStyle. I apparently saved it halfway lol.

kfashion-dress2

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.

Raine
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Orange and playing softball for the first time

Since returning home for the summer, I haven’t thought much about the spring semester. During the spring semester, I thought about writing about the spring semester… a lot. There were days when I didn’t quite comprehend what I was doing or whether I was okay.

While watching Orange – the new summer anime – yesterday, there was a scene where the main character plays softball. A memory flashed across my mind. Softball. Wait, I played my first softball game in the spring semester.

Having never been athletic in my entire life (think hiding in the gym storeroom to avoid being called out to play ball and always being the last one to cross the finish line for track races) – Okay, that’s not entirely true. I took swimming lessons and was good at it, and I also took golf lessons and didn’t completely suck at it. It was my dad’s secret dream that we become the next Michelle Wee (I’m sorry, I’m out of the golf loop so I don’t know who the top female golf player is right now).

Softball is something that I never saw myself doing… at all… in this lifetime. My mom talked about playing it during her school days – back when PE was actually taught in a useful way – but me, a hard bat, and a hard ball? And on top of that, running an entire diamond? Um, no.

But then came the day when my professor declared one day a sports day where we were required to play softball to earn participation points. A teensy weensy part of me was curious about trying the sport. The other part of me balked and wanted to skip class that day. I remember asking my sister if I should go. She didn’t force me to go neither did she tell me not to go.

I went, for the stupid 10 points and because I didn’t want to seem like a spoiled sport to my friend who was also taking the class.

Maybe I should explain why I didn’t want to go and why I avoid participating in most sports. I was once traumatized by a flying ball sent by my kindergarten teacher, I wear glasses, my hand-eye coordination can be compared to a scarecrow trying to be a soccer goalie (I don’t even know what that means), and my poor self-esteem makes me shudder at the thought of people laughing at my lack of athleticism. Valid reasons, I would say.

Here’s the other reason why I went. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to be able to say at the end of the day, yeah, I’ve played softball, wasn’t very good at it but at least I tried. I’ve been pushing myself a lot this year to get out of my comfort zone and this was one of those things.

I’m glad I went because I actually enjoyed myself. I managed to hit the ball two times out of three! Pretty good for someone who lets tennis balls sail past because I swung the racket five miles too far from the ball. “You’re swinging too early,” my professor, the self-appointed pitcher of the day, told me after I swung the bat milliseconds wayyy before the ball came within reach. “Keep an eye on the ball. Pace yourself. Focus on the ball. You got this.” His words didn’t help but I can’t say his patience and unwavering faith in his students (there were others like me, okay?) didn’t.

Focus on the ball, I scoffed inside my head as he readied himself for the second pitch. Right, very helpful, sir. I can’t even tell how far the ball is from me.

My shaking arms positioned the bat against my shoulder, wondering whether my form was even right. I ignored the watchful gazes of the people around me and assured myself that making a fool out of myself in a sporting event is nothing new. The bat felt heavy but the pressure to bat was heavier.

The pitch was gentle. I could see it approaching but I told myself to wait just a fraction of a second longer. I swung blindly, getting ready to be met with disappointed groans or smirks from the sidelines. Instead, there was a clink as the bat connected with the ball. Uh, what?

“Run!” I vaguely heard in my dazed and confused state.

There was also a satisfied “There you go,” uttered by my professor.

I started running. I reached the first base, breathless and still in a good amount of shock. You mean, I hit the ball and it actually went some distance? I was as pleased as punch. I didn’t know when to run to the next base the next round – and the girl in front of me gave me a withering look when I asked her to repeat the basic rules of softball because I was nervous and had already forgotten what my professor said – so I just let my teammates shout and cheer for me to run.

I didn’t mind the sand in my shoes or the sand clouds billowing when people slid to bases and kicked up a bunch of sand. In my excitement, I even threw down the bat which my professor reminded us several times not to for fear of bats spinning into someone else’s gut (true story he told) to run. If I had to describe my softball experience in one word, it would be exhilarating. It’s different from swimming and golf, neither of which requires running as fast as you can to the cheers of your teammates.

What made the game even better was that nobody jeered or booed at me, nobody gave me judging looks (except that one girl and even then it wasn’t too bad), and nobody kicked me out of the game. I just might say yes the next time someone invites me to play a sport.

Oh, my professor made us use his daughter’s old lighter bats and softer balls so in the end I was worried about hard balls flying into my gut for no reason. And because my self-esteem hadn’t seen the boost it deserved, I went to the another class session instead of my usual session because I didn’t want the people, who have seen me in class for 3 months, to watch as I flailed about helplessly on the field. Which I didn’t.

And in case you’re wondering why I can play golf (when is this post going to end?!) which is played with hard clubs and a hard ball but I kind of liked – or didn’t hate, if you will – golf because you know where the ball is, nobody but trimmed grass (or in unluckier cases, sand bars) is on the receiving end of the ball, and all you have to do is swing (or putt… or drive… or chip… never mind).

It has been said that college years are the best time to break free and venture into new and exciting things. Pretty sure I did that when I showed up for that softball game. 🙂

Raine
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