Food for Thought (Literally)

Throughout the years, I’ve been exposed to a lot of things I’ve grown to care about and follow closely.  I used to live in my own bubble, and my life mostly consisted of my parents, my piano, my books, and the internet, most of which I used to casually stalk other people on facebook, and watch korean dramas.  During my high school years was when I started to pay attention to movies and film music and start a notebook.  But it wasn’t until college that I ventured out of my bubble,  became friends with gay people, started reading up on news and politics, and discovered through experience how wrong it was to assume people thought, felt, or processed things the same way I did.  I made friends, drifted apart from friends, and learned how it was normal for shitty things to happen, but that it was still important regardless to retain my empathy and sensitivity in a healthy amount. I’m proud that I’ve decreased my level of ignorance, even though I’m sure there are still tons of things out there I’m not aware of.

And now it’s come to the chapter of post-graduation life.  In the three years since college, I’ve continued to grow by becoming more aware of myself as a person as well as building on my understanding of different issues globally.

  1.  I’ve struggled with my one-foot-in-one-foot-out stance on Christianity
  2.  One of my passions have become following the representation of Asian-Americans across the spectrum of different things, particularly media (shout-out to BTS and Awkwafina in particular this week!)
  3. I’m really disappointed in the Kavanaugh-Ford result this week, and find it harder to have faith in our government in general.  I also need to read up on what the current election situation is.
  4.  I’m now a partial-vegetarian:  I’ve been such for about 2-3 months now. I consciously avoid beef/cow and pig/pork now.  I don’t buy it, and if there were other food options I would choose the alternate food option.  The only time I still eat it is if for example, my mom made pork soup and it’s already been prepared, or if I’m at a friend’s house and it’s rude to refuse.  The reason being, from a moral perspective I’m not sure I could kill a cow or pig unless I had no choice, especially being aware that a pig is smarter than a dog, and dogs are so wonderful and intuitive.  I think I’d be okay killing a chicken or seafood though, so I still eat those.  I also understand why people consume meat, but the food should be treated with respect.  My mom used to lecture me on starving kids in Africa and never to waste food.  It gave me a lot of pressure especially since I had eating problems as a kid, but as an adult, I fully understand what she was getting at.  From my perspective, eat it if you want, but don’t just eat a bite and throw it away nonchalantly.  This is particularly for meat, because an animal did have to be sacrificed for you to fill your stomach.  And because the meat industry is so industrialized, we don’t think about this when we purchase a slab of steak at the supermarket.  That’s really upsetting to me.
  5. Related, but Americans in particular are so wasteful, and our environment is in danger.  We’re all conscious now about global warming and entire ecosystems being tainted with pollution, and polar bears drowning or starving because of us.  I know the problems are so convoluted and big that I can’t change things alone, but I’d like to rid myself of the guilt of adding to the problems.  So some changes I’ve made are to always use my refillable water bottle, and I haven’t touched a plastic bottle in the past 3 months or so.  I’ve been nagging my parents to do the same, which is ironic since my mom used to be the one to nag us.  It’s really easy to grab a plastic water bottle on the go, but in my opinion, those are there for exceptions, such as emergencies, or for a guest in need.  You don’t need a plastic bottle to use at home.  I also have been trying to put leftovers in containers so we use less plastic wrap.  We have a semi-compost situation where we throw our rotted vegetables and egg shells in a separate bin.  My next step is to buy a refillable bubble tea container, or at least a silicone or glass straw.
  6. I need to organize my clothes and Marie Kondo the old clothes that do nothing for me.
  7. Some mistakes have happened at work this past week, but not even knowing if those mistakes came from me or something else made me realize I needed to have a talk with my boss about receiving additional training.  I needed to understand from a holistic perspective about the company, and he wholeheartedly agreed and supported my thoughts.  My co-workers encouraged me to stand up for myself and have that discussion, so I feel grateful and proud of myself for again, venturing out of my comfort zone.

I guess life consists a lot about making choices that you’re comfortable with.  I can’t keep focusing on upsetting thoughts like where my potential life could be at if I wasn’t held back by my illness.  Even though there are an infinite amount of things happening around me that are terrible, I feel a bit better in the knowledge that I am trying my best to do my part to make a difference, even if it’s just a tiny bit.  At least I can live with myself, knowing I have no regrets, that I don’t have guilt in my hypocrisy, and that I continue to push through, admit to my mistakes and grow.  That’s what’s most important to me these days.

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Insecurities

It’s come to a point in my life where I feel like I’m living two lives.  I try really hard lately not to separate the two, but there are always certain moments that so clearly remind me how there often feels like two separate realities.

When I’m alone playing Toon Blast or Youtubing, it’s pretty chill now actually.  Sometimes when I’m stressed, being alone made it worse, but lately because I have work and some sort of rhythm to my daily schedule, being alone is now nice to unwind.  I find ironically, that the moments that remind me most of my circumstances is when I’m at a party and hearing them talk about their lives.  Although my confidence has definitely grown throughout the years, the insecurities suddenly make themselves apparent through the most subtle and casual conversations. Couples outnumber the single members, and all the talk surrounds wedding dates and engagement plans.  I find I have nothing to contribute, and I’m also feeling insecure that my personality does not blend in seamlessly with theirs.  I always feel like I’m the misfit in any group, and sometimes I really think it’s a me problem, and not a general “it is what it is.”  Perhaps I am not engaging enough, outgoing enough, I don’t have that spark that naturally draws people to me.

And while everyone chatters happily about their career, their significant others, their last trip abroad, my mind browses quickly through what my own contributions to the conversation could be, and it comes up with all negatives.  Yes, I can say I have a job now, but it still feels like it’s not enough.  I start to think there’s something wrong with me.  Part of me is too introverted, the other part just doesn’t have the energy, literally, to make my presence known and memorable.  I’m the floater who’s sometimes there, but no one would miss me if I wasn’t.

And if you really wanted to know what’s going on with me.  I’ve been going to therapy to become comfortable with the idea of my decreasing health and that I must become mentally prepared to die, whether that’s in the next year, 5 years, or 10.  How’s that for a party downer?  Even as my own friend is talking about her wedding, this thought seeps into my head, what if I don’t even make it to your wedding?

Shoes and Fawn

Shoes

I once read somewhere that two of the biggest products you should be willing to invest in are bed and shoes, because you are spending the majority of your time in either.

After reading Marie Kondo’s book on tidying up and only keeping things that “spark” or you need, I think it’s a good idea to make a list of the different types of shoes one (me) would need to satisfy the categories for different occasions in my life.

I like shoes that are hassle-free, you don’t need to add an extra two minutes to tie or pull on your shoes when you’re already late, but sometimes you just have to deal.

So here are my shoes:

  1.  Cheap e-bay everyday red sneakers
  2. Fancy, super comfy Stella McCartney Ultraboost sneakers
  3. 2.5 inch black platform-sneakers
  4. Formal, black work heels
  5. Black booties
  6. Black boots
  7. flip flops
  8. Red 2-inch sandals (for work or semi-formal events)
  9. 1-inch multi-color sandals

I have black keds that I don’t really like, they make my feet itchy for some reason and also aren’t that comfortable.  I would choose to wear my red sneakers over these black keds any day, so they kind of just take up space now.

What I would like/need:

10.  A solid pair of warm, winter boots.

Other wishlist items:

-Balayage my hair eventually

-Bose Quiet headphones

-Long sleeved work tops

-Shorts + pants


Fawn

Lately, I’ve sighted 2 baby deer with their white spots wandering around the neighborhood and a bit outside the neighborhood.  I really hope that they’re okay and doing well, especially since it seems like they were separated from their parents.  It made me pretty sad, thinking that they might be lost.  I saw them 2 more times, and possibly a 4th time, but that time, there was only one baby.

 

 

Life in the 20s

Yeah… just a blink ago, my brother remarked on how he was starting to attend weddings and other adult things that seemed 20 years away.  20… LIGHTYEARS AWAY.  Cause now it has reached me.  Yep. Me.

Newsfeed on facebook, all day, e’eryday, people be getting engaged with their couples pics and bling bling rings, and even POPPING OUT LITTLE HUMAN BEINGS.

Like, time is supposed to be slow, but it is speeding up lately.  On a scale of MY personal level of stress, it’s been a solid 5.5/10 lately, which is not too awful.  But mostly, I think it’s probably a topic I’ve written about quite a few times now, and that’s how everything around me lately especially with my friends is related to couples, and relationships, and engagement/wedding talk.  I feel like maybe I’m exaggerating, but then the topic comes up and I’m like nope, I am not imagining this.

And I want to be chill, content with who I am and my own journey and all those philosophical quotes that remind you about self-acceptance and all that, but then I have so many moments where I cool down and all the doubt and uncertainty of the future floods in.  I’m constantly wondering now how much my potential really is in career, in how confident I am in my standards of dating, and my ability to continue trying my best to get my shit together, or appear to have my shit together, while enjoying life in the now.  And it’s really difficult – I definitely feel like I have so many to-do lists constantly, from the small to the big, like laundry, and laundry, and food prep, and insurance things, and doing that thing for my dad, and counting my finances, and worrying that all the meanwhile that I try hard to be in the now, everyone else has planned out their next steps, whether it be a trip abroad, moving in with their bf in the following year, or getting into grad school.

And while I haven’t been exhausted in that out-of-breath way too often, lately I’ve been sleeping A LOT.  Remember when I had major insomnia and anxiety, to the point of feeling psychotic?  Now I nap around 3-4 hours a day on the weekends .___. I don’t know why, and I don’t mind too much, but why am I sleeping so much?

All I can do now and continue to try to remember all the things on my weekly to-do list, and to try to go to the gym on a constant basis, stay patient on where I am in the workplace, and try to navigate and learn whatever I can.  Stay as healthy as I can be.  Find the line between ambition and satisfaction.

STRESS: Blegh -not-feeling-grateful Days

I want to write a wise journal entry today about how I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head, food to eat always, and my family, friends, and still some independent ability, but all I feel is negativity.  Not depression at its worst as I’ve felt before, but on a scale of happiness, it definitely drooped more.  Especially considering it’s summer and should be the highlight period of my year.

Let me jolt down some actual and pessimistic thoughts and conditions lately:

  • I felt very frustrated and angry that someone at work falsely accused me of abusing my grandmas handicap placard to HR. First off, one grandma is deceased and the other is halfway across the world.  I felt very wronged and misjudged, and not even able to confront the situation as I don’t know who reported me.  I felt angry that with all the shit I’m dealing with, I have to justify my legal use of trying to help myself out and make life just a tad easier.  I also would rather not be short of breath and constantly exhausted that I have to take a poorly paid part time job. This incident has made all my other issues affected by my illness amplified, and I am aware that I am in a poor attitude mode these days and have been very short tempered with my mom, and barely tolerating incompetent or creepy people at work. Guilt- the definition of feeling and hearing someone’s elses feelings and thoughts louder than your own, and them fighting in your brain.
  • Leading to my next point, I also would rather not have to go to Upenn every single month and do a bunch of unpleasant tests like bloodwork, cat scans, following up and scheduling with doctors, going to a psychiatrist, therapist, taking 10 diff kinds of meds each day, and also having other symptoms exacerbated by my weak body.  Trust me, I want to appreciate my body that I have one at all and appreciate any functions it does have, but right now, I just want to complain about all the bullshit I deal with.
  • Relationships and Weddings:
    • Everyone around me is in or getting into a relationship, and it feels like their lives are all planning or moving on towards the next step:  moving in, getting engaged, getting married.  I want to feel confident in my singleness, but I don’t.  It’s kind of gotten to me and made me feel left behind even more so in all the other ways I feel left behind, and I wonder if it’s me or just the circumstances that I happen to not be in a relationship.  I went to a bbq this past weekend and literally there was only couples there, besides me and my bestie.  Possibly 3 other single people, out of 30-40 people.  Also, my friend is planning her birthday, and my entire friend group asked if they could bring their significant others.
    • Making the “left behind” feeling worse, I realize that while I am grateful to be a part of anyone’s lives at all, I also feel shitty that some friends I thought I was at least decently close with in college haven’t invited me to their wedding- I was told not to take it personally, but it just reminded me of all the times growing up and in high school where I struggled to find solid friends, and how I was always the one on the fence that people thought of maybee inviting to their parties and events.
    • On the other hand, it made me worry even MORE that if I were to be chosen to be part of someone’s bridesmaid or maid of honor, would I even be up to the task?  I may be too busy taking care of my health to even make it to their wedding or event, and that makes me unreliable (my health, but aka me).  It’s not fair, and I really want to do those things for one of my friends.  And my best friend isn’t even planning on dating or getting married, so I don’t even get to 100% be someone’s maid of honor -_-
    • I’m thinking, am I going to literally live with my parents and depend on them forever?  For awhile it felt like that was an okay situation, but then my mom would say little things here and there that would add up, and make me feel a little nuts and wish there was some space between us where I could have more independent choices, and not constantly have to put up with another opinion on my clothes, etc.
    • I had a major headache at the bbq this past weekend, and so I didn’t enjoy myself or socialize much with anyone at all.  It was all I could do to be present at the bbq at all.  I was so tired and just wanted to be out of the house and have a break from my house and parents.  I went to Upenn today, and had a fever of 99.8, and even though my cat scan shows that the cavity walls around my hole in my left lung is thinner aka less inflammation, the lungs have slowly but surely been progressively deteriorating.  So it’s like I’m falling down a giant decline on a mountain and this news was just a slight rock hop before continuing screaming and falling down the decline.
    • I want to break down and cry, and I feel all this pressure and tension inside my head and my neck and shoulders, but it’s not coming out.  It’s stuck.  I had an upset stomach and also my nose started bleeding again, and although it’s a bit dramatic I feel like my body is falling apart all over the place.  I literally just fixed my yeast infection and eye dryness.  There isn’t even anyone that I can target all my pain and anger at, that I can just direct a giant “FUCK YOU’ to.  It’s just luck, fate, whatever.
    • Trying to be mindful of human nature and not getting too greedy with what I want.  Two months ago, my main goal and source of happiness would be to just get hired for a job, any job.  Now I’m tired of it and finding the work very uninspiring and feeling like I’m undervalued and just doing bullshit repetitive work.  I suppose this is normal, and at least a “normal” problem to be stressed about.  But then I think about what could’ve been, how far my potential could be, and how I will probably never know because I am constantly being limited by my body.

Mundane Update on Terminal Illness and Such

It’s summer, and it’s usually where I’m doing relatively well, as well as I could be doing for my condition anyway  (COPD).  I have a part-time job that is manageable, and it’s as normal to normal as it can be – I have a set schedule of waking up around 8:20am everyday and coming home by 4pm to rest, eat dinner, prep, rest, repeat.  Even the pill popping at night has become a pretty standard routine that doesn’t bother me much. I stay busy physically and mentally, but then comes the visits to Upenn every month or so for fv1 testing, and sometimes it’s okay, some other days it’s less okay.  The past week, I’d been trying to obtain a note from my lung transplant team verifying the medical needs of staying with the same psychotherapist who treats me with anxiety and follows me on my chronic illness journey; we hope to get a single case agreement with the new insurance company.

Sometimes I get a bit of a panic wondering what it would be like with me surviving an illness that limits me in so many ways, financially, physically, etc. The only thing I can control is my emotions and mentality, so that’s what I’ve been trained to focus on.  What if my parents weren’t there for me to depend on?  Nobody else would care.  My nurse practitioner wrote me a medical note that I could give to the insurance company, and in it it describes me as a very young patient with severe lung disease and one with a “terminal illness.”  It was so weird to read that part.  She had warned me she would use some scary words to make her point across.  But what freaked me out later was the realization that she wouldn’t use it to straight up lie– it was at least true and relevant to me even if I felt like I was managing my day-to-days okay.  I am someone they all are monitoring to see when, not if, my progression starts to decline.  But again, I can’t focus on these thoughts because they don’t contribute positively in any shape or form.

For me to be questioned at work when I park in the handicap spot by a co-worker, these things feel so ridiculously unfair.  Yes, I don’t look sick enough.  But yes, in fact, I do not have a mild disease, but a severe one.  I am just young and able to fool people in the short term run.

To end on a good note though, this woman I’d been following who is just a bit older than me with cystic fibrosis (fighting2breathe) was severely ill, on the hospital bed for months in California.  And she received her second lung transplant and looks like she is on the way to recovering.  I am so happy and relieved, and hope that for all her suffering and strength, she is able to have the life she wants, with her husband and future kids like she hopes to have.  That’s her biggest wish, and yet most people around me take those for granted.

I don’t pray to be successful or have anything given to me:  I want the opportunities to be able to become successful on my terms, and the drive and determination to get there regardless.

Reminder to be Thankful: Healthcare, Career, and Other Basic Things Most ppl take for Granted

I’ve started my second week of work, and I remember thinking of my last job and how excited I was just to have a job and be healthy enough to go to work everyday.  After a couple months though, the excitement wore off and the work became mundane- I felt restless and uninspired, not to mention the weather got colder and more difficult for me.

I had this thought at the end of last week that it seemed I was nearing the end of my training and picking up most of what I could pick up at this job and place, but I really hoped that wasn’t the case.  Thankfully, I think I still have a lot to learn, and if I do well and still last here 3-6 months later, maybe I’ll get a raise or they’ll consider moving me to another higher position in data.  Ideally, my image of “making it” career-wise would be to climb up the ladder in terms of data analyst, then data scientist, of which the avg annual income is ~$100,000.  Even though money isn’t everything, it would definitely be one less thing to worry about and would make life a little easier.  My hospital stay for just 8 days last year ended up costing ~$50,000… I don’t know how people are supposed to survive and pay that without insurance in America.  Definitely a huge problem.  It’s inhumane not to provide people with the basic ability of maintaining their health and welfare.

I’m glad that compared to certain peak times of my life, these past months I haven’t had to visit doctors an incredible amount- I have to take off once a month so far, and I try really hard to book my appointments for other things after my work ends, which is possible because it’s part-time.  As I grow older, I become more and more aware of spending money practically, and investing in things I need. Really need.  Like work clothes.  What I WANT are a nice new pair of bose headphones and for my mac computer to have sound again, but so far, I am living life fine without either.  Shout out to you Sean if you’re reading this lmao because I use bluetooth on the sleep machine to get sound when I connect it to the laptop 😀

So what I want to be thankful for now, and what I have to keep reminding myself when I start to feel bored or annoyed that I have to go to work, is that it is a blessing to have the ability to have a job and to make it there everyday.  I remember those cold winter months where I had really bad winter blues and was alone and so frustrated that I was just full-time sick, watching everyone else simply have opportunities to hit their goals.  I don’t need anyone to hand anything to me, I just want the opportunity to earn it.  Because now that I am not down with the flu/cold or my lungs are fucking with me and I can manage my current job so far, I feel confident that I have the drive and the ability to learn and make it to where I want to be.  As long as life doesn’t throw more shit at me (which I know it will), I can do it.  And that is one of the biggest leg ups I have over my competition.  I know what it’s like to simply not be able to try.  When you’ve never known what it’s like to have a chance feel like it’s completely robbed from you, you don’t know anything else except to take it for granted.

I know I’m not earning that much right now.  But it’s a step above not having the ability to earn anything at all.  And even if I get fired now, I already picked up so much on the corporate world in one week, and other random technical jumbo I never thought twice about that impact our lives very much, that it’s okay:  I know it wasn’t a waste of time.  Absorbing knowledge is great 😀  I’m starting to migrate towards analyzing real work this week in their many Excel sheets… my biggest wish is that the learning doesn’t stop here and I’m not stuck doing this for weeks on end, or for the rest of my position there.  Give me a chance to prove what I can bring when illness doesn’t prevent me, and I will kick ass.

Musical Awakening

I just had a really fun and good night.  After years of starting to really resent the piano and classical music in general, tonight I dragged friends along with me to a low-key performance in Princeton, and it reminded me of how much I loved music and playing.

I don’t know, I always hesitated a lot to label myself a musician, because I felt again like I was lacking in confidence and being a stage whore, which you kind of have to be natural with to a certain degree to enjoy performing for others.  But I definitely have a deep connection and to music when I’m in the zone, and with some encouragement, I went up after the concert to mess around with the piano, and I totally fell in love.  The piano is a Mason and Hamlin, and it just sounded so beautiful I kept playing and gathered a tiny audience again.  I improvised a lot and it made me want to go back to practicing and possibly teaching and/or playing.

One of the few things I am confident is in my musicality.  Maybe it’s my emotional side but sometimes I felt incredibly sad playing the keys, but in a good way.  You feel both worn out but relieved after you’re done.  I think I’ll try to go back to composing music and/or doing covers, and recording a few on my SoundCloud 🙂

Summer plans – Productivity

So I always feel like I’m not doing enough.  For myself, for other people.  It’s a lot of pressure.  I’m consciously making an effort to think of all the things that I AM doing though, and there are a lot of things actually that I’ve worked towards and improved on despite all the other regular shit going on.

  1.  Crisis Textline Volunteer – in the process of being trained.  I already agree with a lot of the things I’m being taught in the guidelines and videos, so that’s a good sign.  I worry that I won’t be able to handle it emotionally and will feel like a failure. But I still think it’s a good challenge to try.   Text HOME to 741741 if you’re looking for support.
  2.  Starting a new job as a Data Entry Specialist this upcoming week- again, feeling like I might be a failure if I can’t hold onto this job or feel sick and end up quitting/getting let go.  But that’s another thing I’m working towards for summer plans, and I hope I at least learn something.
  3. Dating – Yeah, I had an anxiety attack last night thinking that I’ll never find somebody, but I did go on a few dates and it’s probably hit the end of the road in that department for now, but whatever I tried lol yay me.
  4. Seeing friends – I’ve definitely made a huge effort to stay present and updated in my friends’ lives, and I am pretty content with my social life at the moment, which is a rare thing.
  5. Body – I’ve hit my weight goals and also hit the gym 9 times the past month, which was my original goal all year long and I wasn’t able to hit that goal until recently.  I do see mild tricep/bicep lines, but legs and butt still feel like sticks.  Regardless, I’ve also taken up Sunday yoga again and I’m happy I forced myself to do that because it does help more or less.  My parents also go on evening walks and my dad goes on a few runs each week, so I’m also proud of them!

Making Lemonade out of Lemon

Hella cliche I know.  But I was thinking about how the past UPenn hospital visits have only become increasingly difficult, with more doctors from different departments added on each time.  It definitely took off in the “worse” direction around the time I decided to do the lung transplant evaluation.  I was rambling to my friend about making lemonade out of lemon, even if it’s kinda shitty, just to make it edible enough is good enough for me.

I used to be someone who just kind of enjoyed bubble tea.  But now bubble tea has taken on a whole new level of meaning for me.  It’s the reward I looked forward to after my rough appointments and tests.  It’s forever going to be ingrained as a positive memory I will cherish, grabbing Mr. Wish with my dad or my parents, a ritual you could even say.

So with all the rough memories that are occurring in my life, I am still trying my best to balance it out with each visit ending in lemonade, even if sometimes it’s only barely edible.

Create your own silver lining?  It’s damn hard but I’m trying anyway.


On a slightly separate note, I think I’ve finally reached that point where needles don’t completely send me into a near anxiety attack.  It’s my 20th or something blood test/needle in the last year, and now I kinda just stare at the needle in disdain.  Still a bit nervous, but not nervewracking.  You just don’t know how strong you are until you’re forced to challenge yourself consistently.