Things about this week and next week

A lot of times this week, I felt like a lot of things were going wrong for me. I felt like I was going to see the doctor too many times and that obviously wasn’t a good feeling. I also realized how difficult it is to get certain words out of my mouth. But I’ve gotten over some of it.

Some things that were fun this week:

  1. Going to a fashion show, always an inspirational experience
  2. Volunteering for an event because who doesn’t love running around backstage and feeling important? Not to mention, I won a prize and my sister had to claim it in front of everyone under the K-pop superstar name I listed myself as. Sorry, not sorry but it was memorable and fun.
  3. Watching my friends dance for the event. Let’s face it: I love watching people dance. It makes me want to dance too!
  4. Wood carving. Who knew that could be so fun? It’s very relaxing when your carving tools are fresh and sharp. But once it starts to get blunt, all your energy will be gone just like that. It’s a new experience and I love it though.
  5. Answering “What is your dream job?” honestly for the first time.
  6. Talking to my career counselor for almost 3 hours. I love her, she’s so nice. She even made me hot chocolate.
  7. Finishing a super long lab report hours ahead of the deadline and completing most of it without assistance.
  8. Finishing one of my last few presentations for the semester. I feel like my speaking skills have somewhat improved and I am thankful for the experience even though anxiety was killing me at the beginning.
  9. Classmates bringing food to class.
  10. Bringing some tea for my professor who is facing hard times in her life and seeing her smile.
  11. Another class cancelled for the whole week.
  12. Buying a super cute pocket coloring book to bring on long flights and boring events.

Some things I hope to accomplish the coming week (who am I kidding):

  1. Watch more anime because priorities.
  2. Listen to more music.
  3. Cook.
  4. Go to the gym. Or at least dedicate 10 minutes a day to exercising.
  5. Dress better (if the weather would just get warmer).
  6. Finish assignments (ughhhhhhhhhhhh).
  7. TRY to apply for some things because the first step is so hard and I still don’t know what I want.
  8. Paint and make some cards.
  9. Eat more noodles and pasta. Lunch and dinner were vague and college-student-like this week because of homework and everything. Examples:
    • 2 days of instant noodles
    • Random 30-minute rice, egg and vegetable lunch
    • Pita pizzas
    • Half a sandwich + half a fritter + 3 dates???
    • Granola bar + dates + Goldfish crackers??
  10. Continue being more confident in saying what I want to say (no matter how cheesy and cringe-y).

I’m missing out a bunch of stuff but thank you for making my week wonderful. Let’s stay positive and keep moving forwards!

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Long weekends with the SpudBuds

I believe this was our first long weekend since the semester began. You have no idea how thankful both of us are. Talking to people has made me realize that weekends go quick for a lot of people too. That means: Yay, we’re not alone! Responses I got after I asked some friends if they were looking forward to the weekends:

“It’s like I come home, go to sleep and it’s Monday.”

Agreed!

“I don’t think it’ll be long enough.”

How about we protest for a 365-day weekend?

“I think… it’ll be over soon…”

Depressing but 100% true!

Whatever it is, we’ve been winning this weekend! It has been eventful, surprisingly. We went to a basketball game, cheered on our favorite players, and made delicious Hainanese chicken rice in 30 minutes for dinner! We also returned a bunch of clothes we bought, quickly realizing that false advertising is everywhere and that we need a fashion designer in this house ASAP.

We made cranberry salsa to eat with the best damn low-salt potato chips. Finally we were able to replicate the one that Baja used to have ages ago. It was amazing and we need to buy more fresh cranberries to make more!! We also made garlic bread and tomato soup. We realized how we had been doing our soup wrong – red onions instead of sweet white onions. Who cares! The red onions were cheap! screams the broke college student in me.

We cleaned the bathroom – a very strenuous activity that makes me wish technology could do something about this. But I think the most rewarding part was feeling like you have done something important over the weekend. And hey, everything looks nice too! The other part that is my favorite is getting to laze around for the next one and a half days in my sweatpants.

Did I mention that we made no bake PB&J granola bars and banana bread in about an hour early in the morning? Talk about efficiency! Finally getting to open a jar of creamy peanut butter was the most satisfying thing on Earth.

We proceeded to make okonomiyaki and mastered it! Eureka, the shape finally holds up! So delicious too! Shake on some green onions, shrimp furikake and katsuobushi, all done to the beat of GOT7 songs we’ve been repeating for the past few weeks, and life is perfect.

Now that we’re done with the fairytale part of our weekend, the part with lots of reality and adult life consisted of completing a bunch of homework, printing out stuff, checking stuff on checklists, worrying about vacuuming the floor, receiving a steady flow of annoying text messages, and pondering over life matters deeply.

Hope you had an awesome weekend, too!

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The new year

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to write about the two people she became in one year. And here’s her story:

As usual, I wanted to talk about the second half of this year which was filled with a lot of negative things but then I remembered that there are positive things in my life as well and so I’m going to start on a good note.

The most memorable event that keeps coming back to my mind is of how my dad decided to take us to a dessert store at night when we were back for summer. It’s something we don’t do often so I thought it was fun and interesting. We ate matcha ice cream, hated it, and jumped to the other dessert shop where we discovered my new favorite dessert, Shibuya honey toast. Thinking about it makes me want to cry a lot… and that’s exactly what I’m doing right now.

Summer was wonderful. I have a lot of good memories that I often think about. I took a summer class (again), befriended some people, hated some parts of it, loved the rest of it. I ate a lot of good food that I am very thankful for. I bought clothes beyond my yearly quota and was pleased with the choices I made. I also discovered that I actually like driving, sort of. I listened to a lot of music, lazed around like a panda (hello, two months of jet lag), did my homework diligently, worked out to my favorite songs, discovered a Youtube artist who inspired me to pursue my dream again (thank you Alphonso) and drew a lot.

Around March or April, I started working out. At first, it was for fitness. Then it was to be  lighter. Then it became a passion. I fell so in love with working out that I did not realize that I was hurting myself. I exercised for 5 days a week at first. Then I wanted a challenge and did 6 days a week. That was when everything changed.

I don’t really know how it happened but it’s been two months and I’m still suffering from muscle strains. I have been extremely upset about that. I’m still struggling to accept the fact that I have to take a break from exercising. I feel like I have lost a part of myself with this issue. I’m trying really hard to get back on my feet. It’s depressing for me to write about this but as always, I hope someone will read this and realize that they are not alone in fighting whatever difficulties they are going through. Our problems might be different but our fight is the same.

I’m usually aware that life has its ups and downs but I have been in great denial for this matter. I have been reading the book of wisdom that my sister and mom gave me last year and trying to lift myself out of sadness that I somehow keep wanting to swim in. A lot of the content makes me cry because it’s so raw and real and true to my feelings. One particular quote that really sent a ray of hope through my current hopelessness was this:

When we have an unpleasant feeling, we say to ourselves, “This feeling is in me, it will stay for a while, and then it will disappear because it is impermanent.” -Your True Home by Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s not an easy process, but I’m going to keep trying. And I know you will too.

“Onward to the next year with a shield and sword in hand!” -Myself in 2015

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Assassin’s Creed movie review: A hit or miss?

The Tuesday I have been waiting for arrived yesterday. We went to watch Assassin’s Creed, the movie adaptation of a popular video game series that blends science with historical fantasy themes.

It was our first time going to the theaters over here so we were pleasantly surprised to find no lines and that it was totally okay to buy your tickets 15 minutes before the movie began. The nice and sunny morning was destroyed by my awkward mumbling to the box office lady who asked me to repeat myself.

We went inside the building, gawked at how different it was from home, stared at the ridiculous popcorn prices, took a few pictures outside the auditorium and went in, ready to watch our first movie in what seemed like years. It felt strange that we got to choose our own seats and that it was so darned bright inside. Even the ads were sectioned into fun facts and then other movie trailers (and I swear there’s a sequel for Planet of the Apes every other year).

You don’t know how tempted I was to start my post with “As a fan of Assassin’s Creed for EIGHT years…” but I figured it would be too cheesy, too boring, too pompous. I have not played a video game in more than a year until last week, a shocking comparison to my high school days (video games, I love you), so you could say that I didn’t think too much about what the plot was going to be like and that I didn’t have many expectations.

This is the part where you look away if you hate spoilers!

As a non-gamer looking for some good entertainment over winter break, the movie was decent. As a gamer, the movie was mediocre at its best. There wasn’t enough action at all. The three times that the main character went into the Animus was all we got. And if you’ve never played the game, Assassin’s Creed is 90% historical and 10% modern day. The way important moments in history are intertwined with an entirely fictional storyline is part of what makes the game so rich and so compelling. And the movie was quite the opposite – 80% modern day, 20% historical.

There was far too much focus on the modern day story, which, I suppose, was used to appeal to a wider audience and not just those who have played the game. Some parts could have been shorter. It was obvious that the movie was only building and focusing on the main character, Cal, to set up a nice background for its movie sequels. The huge miss for me was that Aguilar, the assassin from 500 years ago, did not have a story of his own. The appeal of AC games lie, as I mentioned earlier, with the historical scenes and characters. We don’t care about the main character but we care about his ancestors.

With that said, I loved how dedicated Michael Fassbender was to this adaptation. In 2011 or something like that, I read he was attached to the project and was very surprised that he did not drop out all this while. I was glad because I thought he really looked similar to Desmond Miles (main guy in the modern day part of the games) and his acting was great in X-Men. He was successful in creating a great character out of Cal who seamlessly fit into the AC universe unlike new characters in movie adaptations of video games or comics who often seem out of place. I thought the other actors/actresses did a great job as well. Some part of me wished that they had kept the original modern day characters like Lucy, Shaun and Rebecca, but oh well.

I also did not expect the historical scenes to entirely be in Spanish. It certainly made it more realistic and interesting but there was something lacking about it. I figured it was because the characters didn’t have enough lines. It made everyone seem really stiff because there was less talking so the characters were either nodding or staring at each other with intense gazes.

The cinematography was messy. I thought the Prince of Persia movie did a better job at recreating the feel of the games. I could barely see the parkour because the scenes were cutting wildly from spurring horses to wide angles of mountains to dark silhouettes and blinding white lights. The eagle was iconic but there was no need to keep following it around because it made the panoramic shot of the city lose all its magic (it’s freaking magical in the game). Another appeal of the games (because I can’t help but compare) is the beauty of the historical cities. With the lack of exploration, there was nothing to appreciate about the dusty and poorly lit locations.

While the movie’s Animus didn’t make me cringe as much as I expected to, though there were cheesy sci-fi elements about flying around with metal arms and football field lights, it was extremely distracting to have the scenes cut from the past to the present just to capture Marion Cotillard’s wide-eyed look of anticipation. It made it more difficult to get immersed in the action that was happening in the historical timeline.

I’m glad they did not throw romance into the storyline. I thought Aguilar and that female assassin were going to have a scene together or something but it didn’t happen, thankfully. That would have racked up the cringe factor. I hope that they won’t in future sequels because that would turn it into another romance/action/sci-fi thing. What they should add is some wit and humor but just a little. Like, really little. Too much would take away its essence. In the game, Desmond Miles was a crappy character but his sarcasm made up for all that he was lacking. At the same time, I suppose the serious tone in the movie wasn’t all too bad either.

I enjoyed the soundtrack. I actually thought Jesper Kyd (musical genius who composed the soundtracks for the games; this might be a bit outdated since I only played until AC3) composed it because it sounded similar, but it wasn’t him. It was good though. The rock music at the beginning was also very AC-like because all the game trailers have really awesome non-mainstream songs that sound epic.

Overall, I would give this movie a 7/10. It was a hit AND a miss for me. Would I watch it again? Probably, because Fassbender’s sport shoes and sweatpants look is fab! Just kidding. I wouldn’t mind watching it again but not so soon. People actually clapped after the movie was over! I didn’t yawn or complain which tells me that I found it entertaining. It was nice to be reunited with in-game jargon and understand all the references. I would probably watch the sequel. I was mostly disappointed that people who have never played the game did not get to experience the feeling captured through AC’s use of history as its playground because it was, and still is, a great feeling that inspired me to delve deeper into the subject of history and see video games as a wonderfully unique form of art.

If you want a great story, play the game (preferably, most definitely, infinitely, the second game, AC2) but if you’re not picky and got about 2 hours to spare, I would say give the movie a try.

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On the topic of K-pop girl groups

The thing I like about our connection – us as the bloggers and you as the reader – is how quickly we acquaint you with our interests. It’s amusing to me, horrifying to you maybe, but it has always been this way since the day this blog was born. If you’ve been keeping up or if you need a refresher, we recently got into K-pop. You might have seen a few hints here and there, which led to the ultimate reveal that inspired several more posts.

To start off my HeeChul ramble (because HeeChul is best known for his girl group mania that is not too far off from my own), I started off my K-pop adventures with one girl group and that spawned a musical expansion into other girl groups. From the vibrant stage outfits to the outrageous hairstyles and hair colors to the catchy and modern songs to the impressive and effortless dancing, K-pop was so darned appealing that I couldn’t help falling into the spell that captured the hearts of other young people all over the world.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I was initially hesitant about getting into male groups because I didn’t want to feel weirder than I already was if I were to, let’s say, fall for some cute K-pop dude with thick eyeliner, blue contact lenses, bleached blond hair and flawless foundation on his face (of course my worries were not uncalled for and that’s the truth now, HAHA), so I listened mostly to girl groups. I even have ‘biases’ a.k.a favorite members for each group. I’ll go ahead and introduce them to you now:

aoa

Choa, Chanmi, Hyejeong, Seolhyun, Yuna, Jimin, Mina

1. AoA

Having glimpsed the word ‘AoA’ on a friend’s Twitter update before a long flight, I found myself listening to my first ever K-pop album, Like A Cat. I was hooked after the first listen and danced all the way until touchdown in California. It was no surprise that I was curious to see who these girls were. Song after song, I was impressed and completely captivated by the dances and fashion. It didn’t help that there were so many dance practices out there. This is random but I wanna know what hair products the members use and what I can do to get hairstyles like that.

Favorite member: ChoA. Favorite song and dance: Like A Cat (Fun fact: I listened to this song more than 100 times within the first month I discovered it).

mamamoo

MoonByul, WheeIn, Solar, Hwasa

2. Mamamoo

After much dabbling, I discovered a group that did not fit the mainstream girlish or sexy image that the K-pop scene was overflowing with. When I think of Mamamoo, I always think Christina Aguilera. Strong vocals, jazzy music, and fabulous dance moves. While I’m not a fan of the rapping in their songs, I’m a big fan of their energized performances. They always look like they’re totally into their dancing. They also seem to have genuine camaraderie, which is evident in their on-stage interactions.

Favorite member: WheeIn. Favorite song and dance: Piano Man. Special mention: Mr. Ambiguous.

iu3. IU

It took me a while but I warmed up to IU’s music after listening to her latest album, Chat-shire. She has a whimsical and girlish style and very unique voice, and her music is what I would describe as ‘fairytale’ genre. That’s not even a genre but if you listen to her songs, you’ll see why. I think she pulls off simple and casual fashion very well, nothing too bright and bold yet nothing too plain and boring, and it really suits her image.

Favorite song and dance: Twenty-three. Special mention: Glasses.

dal-shabet

Subin, Ah Young, Serri, Woohee

4. Dalshabet

They had a few controversies with their dance moves previously, but I think they are doing pretty well now. I was first introduced to the genre ‘jazz swing’ through one of the songs, and now every time I see any song that has ‘swing’ in it, I catch onto it and devour all that musical goodness.

Favorite member: WooHee. Favorite song: Someone Like U (love their suit jackets). Favorite dance: Have, Don’t Have (The crazy fashion and makeup describes everything I love about K-pop styles). Special mention: Ya Heart (their latest song and so good!!)

apink5. APink

I was searching for 80s-inspired K-pop songs and found APink! I love the music in all their songs and I also love their girly image. They recently released a new song and the maturity is obvious in their dancing and fashion. Fun fact: This is the first girl group my sister has actually listened to more than twice.

Favorite member: Eunji. Favorite song: Only One.

girls-generation

Yuri, Sunny, Hyoyeon, Yoona, Taeyeon, Sooyoung, Tiffany, Seohyun

6. Girls’ Generation

What would this list be without the female counterparts of Super Junior, right? I initially wasn’t a big fan of theirs. Gee was my first ever K-pop video in school which I quickly forgot about. Like SJ, everyone around me talked about them but I didn’t really think too hard about who they were. I actually heard their songs in Daiso this summer and somehow recognized Taeyeon’s voice even though I probably only listened to one of her songs. I just knew she had a strong voice and sorta guessed it was her? Anyway, their songs made me want to dance badly and dancing is a good thing so that’s how I ended up liking their songs.

Favorite song: Galaxy Supernova. Favorite dance: Mr. Taxi (my summer workout jam!!). Special mention: Mr Mr. I don’t have a favorite member but…

I watched several of Taeyeon‘s videos during summer and kinda liked her song called ‘I’, came back to that song after summer, ended up watching more of her videos, and falling for her other song ‘Why’, which introduced me to another genre known as ‘house’ or ‘tropical house’ that is apparently all the rage now (where, though? The radios are congested with mainstream pop?).

Favorite song: Good Thing. Favorite dance: Why (When I think of the dance, I think of the word ‘contemporary’, I don’t know why but I love the dance at the second verse and especially when the male dancers lift the female dancers up and they do that cool kicking thing that suits the song so well; you can tell this is my favorite of all favorites because I’ve become super wordy).

Well, that’s all I have to say about girl groups. I feel like their music has really diversified my taste. When I first started listening to K-pop, I felt really special because the songs were totally unlike the Japanese and English songs I like. It has really opened my mind to a lot of genres and, musically, I really love that.

But wait…

I have a surprise on this list?!

shinee

Jonghyun, Taemin, Minho, Onew, Key

SHINee is my latest male group muse. It was unexpected but it’s great! Another name I’ve been hearing for years yet did not think too much about. I actually thought they were Japanese before this (check out Jonghyun’s Ring Ding Dong era hair). My sister and I tried to watch their videos but I was having a mini K-pop burnout where pretty much everything I listened to sounded the same. Then I was at a point where I was looking for new music and saw that SHINee was having a comeback and somehow I had a sixth sense that I would like their new song. And I did!

I’m finally understanding what a SHINee trend is because I’m totally in love with their fashion sense!! If I were a guy, I’d be making fashion choices based on these guys’ casual and colorful styles. I don’t have a favorite member as of now but Key seems cool and I really really like Onew’s voice.

Favorite song: 1 of 1. Favorite dance: View. Special mention: So Amazing.

It’s been so hard to choose between all the songs and dances because I really love all of them and I’d love to share all of them with you. And I’m sorry, not sorry that this post totally gave away my taste in fashion. I’m working towards being more carefree about my own opinions but that’s a story for another day.

As I’m proof-reading this post, I realize that I have a thing for main vocalists and that most of the songs I’ve mentioned I’ve spammed the repeat button for days and weeks. That means I’m recommending good songs, guys!! I hope I helped someone find new music, if not I’m just pleased that I managed to write about something I like.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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What working out means to me

Today marks my 14th day of working out (with breaks, of course). Actually it’s the 14th day for this month, not counting the number of days before this. It’s amazing to think that I have been working out for about 6 months already. I haven’t always been this way though.

As a kid, I would follow my mom and sister to the gym but I only used the treadmill, which formed my love for running. I know, what a shocker. I always came out last on the track field. I never participated in a sport in school, though I sometimes dreamed of joining the basketball club or soccer team. At the gym, I was always too embarrassed to join my mom and sister for their floor exercises because I was afraid of having bad posture and injuring myself.

I never thought I’d like working out, but now I do. I genuinely love working out. I freaking LOVE working out. I love it so much that one fine day during summer, I thought to myself, Maybe I should be a fitness instructor…

These days I’ve been trying more floor exercises, something I’ve always shied away from. I’ve been making a conscious effort not to focus on weight loss, so my current fitness goals are to master the roll-up (as much as I can) and master more planks!

I never thought I’d been saying this but I really kind of like planks. And now back to the title, which is what working out means to me:

Mindfulness, love, practice, confidence, fun, smiling, happiness, a lifestyle, lightness, agility, and finally, being STRONG.

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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!

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