3.06.18 – Appreciation in Food Culture, Friends, and Motivation vs. Depression

I find that I don’t click well with people who have their heads so far up their ass and are so far stuck up their little bubble that they don’t see anything else outside of it.

Aren’t you curious about the rest of the world and how they live their lives?  That’s the only way to pursue truth, to open your eyes and really grow as an individual, to humble yourself.  To understand other people’s way of life and beliefs, and have a greater appreciation for your own, and to fully understand what privilege or lack of it is.  That’s why it’s always so surprising to come across someone unbelievably ignorant.

That was a bit harsher than I intended.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I wish I could have the means to travel all over the world and learn about other people’s experiences and culture and way of life, I have been lucky.  Despite all the issues, my parents have always made it a point to try to travel to other places to see and absorb and learn, and I realize I am fortunate because of that.

My friend came back from Ethiopia recently and was generous enough to give me some pre-mixed shiro-bebere powder that her coworkers gave her.  It was amazing because I know I’ll probably never have the chance to visit Ethiopia, but making it and having it for dinner was a unique and exciting experience.  I was thinking what, puree onions and tomato?  Who does that?  Ethiopia does. And it’s freaking delicious.  And it was obviously more authentic too because a native Ethiopian made the mix.

We made a trip to the Indian grocery store and I got so excited by things like their roti, badam, and of course, bru (instant coffee.  TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE DIVERSITY IN AMERICA.  EAT ALL THE FOOD.


Blessings:

  1. My friends and I were planning our next upcoming get together, which would be a bit more venturing and walking.  I was a bit worried that I might get exhausted.  My friends said they would be happy to push me around in a wheelchair so I could save my energy.
  2. My friend told me I would be one of her bridesmaids when she gets married.  I didn’t realize how happy that would make me when I heard it.  ❤

I had gone through a phase a few months ago of “I can do this!” planning to work out every couple days.  That only lasted for about three-four weeks, and then it got cold or something and I fell off the wagon, unmotivated and sinking into a bit of depression on my limitations.  The physical limitations really do weigh on your mental health.  Misery can be a constant companion, but you gotta remember to reach for your other friend too, perseverance.  Consistency… whatever it is, I need more of it.  I need to get on my own ass regarding my goals that I wrote in my previous post.  I want to transform my chicken legs and get some abs, just become fitter and lose 3 pounds.  Will stop just saying, must do too.

Must not let depression, limitations, and other people’s problems stop me.  It’s all noise.


Today’s Favorite Songs:

 

Empty- Olivia O’Brien

“I wonder if I’m good enough… pretend there’s no tomorrow…. I wish there’s no tomorrow. But I’m empty inside x2, I just don’t feel alive, and I don’t want to live but I’m too scared to die”

Pursuit of Happiness – Kid Cudi

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Storytime: That Time I Got Robbed and Other Musings on Gratitude and Empathy

~StoryTime~

There was this one time when my parents and I were on vacation in Canada and my mom and I had gotten into a fight the previous night; I was about maybe twelve years old.   The next morning, we ate at the hotel complimentary breakfast with the expected aftermath of awkwardness in the air- I kept my eyes lowered to shield my puffy red eyes under my hat.  There weren’t many other people around, but I remember seeing two tanned men sitting near us at the next table.  I was in a foul mood, angry with the world and still upset at something my mom had said earlier; my feeling ashamed reflected clearly in my flushed face.

I was so lost in my own world of sulky thoughts that I only barely took notice that my mom had left the table to get more food.  Soon after, my dad also got up to head to an aisle leading to the men’s room, leaving me alone.  The next minute, I was whipped out of my thoughts by a man who approached me, pointing furiously towards the direction my dad had left in and jabbering in a foreign language.  His panic was infectious.  The first thing that came to my mind was that something had happened to my dad: he had a heart attack, he had passed out, there was a fire.  I hesitated and stood up as the man bolted off – confused, I wondered if I should follow him or call the police.

Next thing was my mom’s alarmed voice; she had come back and immediately exclaimed, “Where’s my bag?!”

I glanced around to the chairs around me, and only saw mine.  That was the moment  I realized that I had been hoodwinked.  The men who were sitting near us were gone.  The police arrived and questioned us, and after watching the security footage, confirmed that the two men had dashed out the backdoor.  The police told us that it was one of a few cases that had happened recently in the neighborhood hotels in the same exact fashion.  The next hour was filled with my mom calling various places to cancel her credit card accounts, phone accounts, and anything else the police advised her to do.  My mom’s camera, phone, and unfortunately, more than half a thousand dollars cash had been in her favorite bag.  She said she had forgotten to remove all the cash since her recent trip to Taiwan where she wanted to exchange some of it for Taiwanese money.

The shock that had hit all of us that early afternoon had us immediately forget, or rather, let go of any ill feelings harbored towards each other.  I remember feeling a mixture of emotions.  I felt guilty that I had not watched our things more carefully, that I had so naively been fooled by that guy, who must’ve distracted me to one side so that his accomplice could grab my mom’s bag to the other side of me.  I felt a bit regretful that so much money had been lost, especially since my younger parents worked hard to save up money.

I also felt tremendous relief that nothing in fact, had happened to my dad; he was okay.  My mom was okay, I was okay, we were all okay.  Nobody had held me at gunpoint or knifepoint threatening to kill us if we hadn’t handed over our possessions.

I also felt the weight of grudges just a couple hours ago melt into incredible gratitude, realizing by comparison the full pettiness of my sulky world.  One argument was a bad grain of sand in the spectrum of our lives.  Even though I don’t count myself as particularly religious, I remembered thinking that this incident must have been God’s reminder to me to wake up and understand that much worse things could happen at any given time.

We really tend to see what we don’t have, and what others do have.  Even on days where I’m in tremendous pain physically or emotionally, or my car broke down,  I would just think, if only I didn’t have to deal with this shit.  How much better the day would be if I just wasn’t in pain, if the car just worked and I could get to my friend or my groceries.  That’s how we see that the ordinary, “boring” events are actually extraordinary.

Today, some tragedy could’ve happened that left my family homeless.  Today, I could be so destitute that I don’t have enough money to buy dinner.  Today, I could’ve lost a loved one.  Today, I could’ve found out someone I loved didn’t love me back anymore.  Today, I could be feeling so depressed that I want to kill myself.  Today, I could be lying in the hospital again, just wishing that I could sleep in my own bed and get a hot shower.

Today, none of those things happened, and I did get to feed myself, sleep in my own bed, and take a hot shower.

I was in the car the other day and musing over the whole “glass half full, glass half empty” cliche.  Maybe we’re missing the point when we look at it that way.  Maybe the truth to finding Zen and acceptance of everything around us, including the shitty parts, is to see the glass itself.  That the glass exists at all.  That we have a glass.  That we have water at all.  It could all so easily be nothing, just empty space floating into more nothingness.


-Just a passing thought about how to find happiness and peace since that is something I’ve struggled with my whole life.

Reminder though, that even though we should strive to be more appreciative and notice all that we do have, it’s still okay to let yourself feel the sad parts too.  We’re wrapped up in a society that expects us to feel fine all the time or try to get us there (“Feel better!” “You’ll be okay” “I’m sorry” other crap etc.).  Is that true healing?  No.  You have to walk through the tunnel to get to the other side, there is no shortcut.  You can’t magically Apparate or sprout wings over the tunnel.  What we can do for each other?  For true empathy, be there for one another.  Rather than a “Feel better”, I want to live in a society where we hold each other’s hand.  We offer an embrace, we tell them yes, what they’re going through sucks, but I’m here for you.  I will walk with you through the tunnel.  You’re not alone.

There’s a difference between finding pleasure in sulking in misery, and brushing off any pain like it’s nothing.  Validation, entitlement, to your feelings… I guess it’s a bit of a fine line sometimes depending on perspective.  There’s a balance.

I’ll admit that this is one of my faults too.  I’m a hypocrite, because I have told people to “feel better” before.  Because when I feel their burden, I just can’t.  I can’t even handle my own burdens sometimes.  “Put the oxygen mask over yourself before helping others put their masks on” <— wise words of a flight attendant.  But I’m working on it, and I wish more people would just give more of a shit to be honest.


Today’s Obsessions (Music):

-Heaven by Julia Michaels

-Sacrifice  by Black Atlas & Jessie Reyez

-Wait by Maroon 5

Thoughts on Morality (Shower Post #4)

I think it’s a fair thing to say that the more we get older, the more jaded we get- we have less patience, we have less faith in others, we become more cynical or realistic, depending on your perspective.  I think for me, I have definitely become more cynical/realistic with age.  Whenever I go through something difficult, I think, why does no one know or feel my suffering?  Why does it feel like I am even more isolated and alone?  Instead of having faith in others, we fear reaching out because we don’t trust that anyone actually cares, or sincerely cares.  I think this is the logical path that people follow that can lead them to such a dark place, to the point of even suicide.  At this point, it seems like your life doesn’t count anyway, and it won’t matter.

For me, I get frustrated because in chronic illness, the suffering doesn’t end.  It’s not like a cold or a break up where your circumstances may improve eventually; they don’t.  You do.  Your mind sinks or swims.  And then I hide my fears because I’ve had it proven countless times to me that in the end, it seems I am the only one who can fully do anything about what I am going through.  Besides my dad and sometimes my mom and a few close friends, I am pretty much alone.  Almost no one else is there beside you every second living your life, observing it, experiencing, as much as you, having that strength of endurance.  People will enter and leave your life, maybe be a blessing even for the short run, but they can always fade at any given time.

We are all so scared of showing vulnerability, of laying out our cards and letting everyone else judge us, embrace us, or reject us.  Especially when we go on social media like Facebook and Instagram, and we are flooded by images of hot, fit bodies, attractive portraits of people laughing, having the time of their lives with their significant other on their vacation, surrounded by friends, or eating delicious food.  It is true that the positives and highlights are part of our lives, but they are only a small snapshot of the entire rhetoric.  Our whole society encourages us to hide our insecurities and to only portray our best selves, but it isn’t always the whole picture, the whole truth.

I do the same.  I only put up pics of my happiest moments of when I look good on Instagram.  It does make me feel better to take pride and look at these images and tell myself “Wow, my life is not bad!”  It does make me feel more or less validated when I get many likes.  But I also wish to be brave enough to allow myself to receive likes on my ugliest, saddest, most depressing snapshot of my life- even more so, I want to be brave enough to be okay with no likes if that’s what happens.  I may be afraid of judgment, or of dragging down other people’s happiness- but so what?  We gotta inject some sincerity and realism in what’s really going on in our lives, to show others our scars so that they can be more accepting and forgiving of theirs.

People don’t see me through the moments where doctors discuss my life span and ask deep cutting questions like “Have you ever had suicidal thoughts” and me, reluctantly admitting “yes.”  People don’t see me when I wake up in the morning and count the amount of meds I daily pop into my mouth or inhale.  People don’t see me when I am at home, physically and mentally too tired to complete simple tasks like laundry.  I fight everyday to live a fraction of energy and memories that others take for granted.

Maybe part of this is my fault, for not being more open, and for withholding part of the truth, I actually get more judged than not, because people see a “normal” young woman abusing a handicap sign, people see my beaming grins on my Insta, and people see me when I am trying my absolute best to participate happily in life.

I guess for me, faced with the morality of my being, and always reminded of how small of a drop of water I am in the ocean, I keep questioning, how do I make my life count?  It is not going to last forever, but that is out of my hands.

What I wish, is for people to think more on this question, on how they impact others, and to be part of a greater plan for us all to have faith that if we fall, the ones around us care enough to catch us, as cheesy as that metaphor is.  To come to terms with our true selves and the imperfection we are- taking pride in our strengths, accepting our flaws and vowing to work on improving them.  So that we give encouragement and faith to others, and in turn can let ourselves fall in faith.  Knowing that we are trying our best, even if that’s not what it looks like, even when others tell us we are crying wolf and victimizing ourselves, them telling us we’re fine, but us knowing for ourselves that we are not okay, and knowing that continuing to do our best is okay, it is enough.

Acceptance in Mind, Heart, and Soul

I often find it difficult to understand how people have that kind of faith in God or a bigger picture.  I want to make sure I try to obtain that kind of peaceful acceptance in my heart, without stopping to fight for the way I want to live, my right to be who I want to be and who I am, and becoming complacent by giving it up to fate or that it’s “out of my hands” and “God’s will.”

I think the people in this world who are angry, hurt, and who struggle with depression and anxiety, see all the misery that is the world’s suffering, and we feel it more deeply, to a point where it is near unbearable levels.  That’s some of us fall prey to alcohol and drugs, anything at all to numb the pain, even if it ends in self destruction.

This week, I’ve started my four-day lung transplant evaluation tests at UPenn.  I’m 24 years old, and I’m somehow simultaneously used to but also feeling misplaced standing in the waiting room with the other 60+ year olds.  I was wheeled in a wheelchair for a 6 min walk test, and one of the technicians said to me, “You’re too young to be here.”  I just laugh it off and say it’s okay, I’m basically an old person.

I don’t fit in with peers in my age group.  I don’t know how to at least pretend I fit in, and chuckle lightheartedly at moments in life like just silly things with friends.  I might as well be socially the same as a hermit in the mountains, with a long beard in a dark stone cave.  I have to relearn it each time I try to really interact with civilization again.  I’m awkward.  No denying it haha.

Instead of wallowing and focusing on how pitiful I am in everything I’m going through/about to go through, I’m trying to focus on the positive: my inner strength, the inner strength of every journey and experience that’s made me who I am today.  My Asian heritage, I am an example of what immigrants go through, what it’s like to grow up and live in America.  My struggles and experiences as a woman, my eyes have opened up to the inequality and the things that are really not okay.   From how guys sometimes treat me, from the subtle to the obvious.  Being manipulated, getting hit on sexually, or finding out that a guy hooked up with your friend while pretending to go after you while you were ill.  All of that shit.  All of it.  #metoo.  I feel the weight of it all right now.  But I’m still standing here, because I’m empowered by the strength of the people around me.  We’re in this together, we’re fighters, and that’s what life is about too.

I have to find the strength to endure it all, and keep trying anyway, despite constant setbacks and constant misunderstandings and judgment by people who are blinded by their privilege.  I need to overcome my own judgment of me.  And I want them to want to be better versions of themselves, because I see the potential.  If I didn’t, I would have given up on myself a long time ago.

August 12, 2017, Sat. @ 3.54am (technically 13)

#chroniclesofthechronic

Pt. 1 Overview

I feel like life keeps being really tough, and not just tough in the usual senses, but extra tough even when I’m just doing mundane, ordinary things. When people ask me what I did all week, sometimes I have to catch myself feeling sorry for myself, because I realize that my level of achievements can be considered small in comparison to others who are able-bodied and fast paced.  I can’t say anything exciting, but rather, I have to remind myself to be proud that each day, I meticulously planned out how to live in small increments of productivity and function, saving up energy to check off goals like laundry, cooking, remembering to drink water, and that I dragged myself out of bed and did these things, even though they were hard and do not match up to my level of ambition and what I would want to consider a “true” accomplishment.

My insomnia has worsened recently but I know why.  Hearing again that I need to see a lung transplant specialist wasn’t easy, but for some reason, this time a switch flicked in my head and I decided it was time to fully wrap my head around accepting doing the evaluations, no matter how strenuous that ordeal was going to be.  I constantly find myself wavering between moments of calmness and acceptance, almost contentedness, yet other times like last night, I lay awake in my friend’s guest bedroom, thoughts flying everywhere and causing an increasing panic in my head until I succumbed to the pill to aid me in sleep.


Pt. 2 Log In of the Day

What I originally intended to write about though, was happiness.  I had a rough week (what else is new, the usual levels are rough, rougher, and roughest), but today was a good day.  A solid, good day.

I had been worried that today would be bad, as usual. Yet it ended up being one of the best days I’ve had in awhile.  Friday night, we prepped hard for a dessert competition at fellowship, and even though we placed third, I felt pretty proud and we did bond with our team by working hard to produce a beautiful panna cotta.  And today, we went to dim sum and it was a lovely meal with a large group of people.  Then, I migrated back up north for another fellowship and met some people, and finally migrated back down where we spent a great night learning how to make fresh pasta and EATING it!!!  Seriously, the best pasta I’ve ever had… it was what I always imagined fresh pasta to taste.  Delicious, right amount of bite and sauce.  It was fun, and we had some sangria as well.  We also watched a bit of Master of None and the rest played card games.


Pt. 3 Insecurities on my Physical Capabilities, but also- Body Appearance

A crazy thing that happened recently is my weight gain.  I weighed around 92-95 lbs for the longest time, probably from all of college until now.  I weighed myself a few days ago, and each time it was the heaviest I’d ever been… first I hit past 100 and couldn’t believe my eyes… then I hit 103 within two weeks. I was getting a bit concerned… because even though I know I’m not concerned “fat”, I’m also now looking very “skinny fat” where the rest of my limbs are super bony, yet my stomach and cheeks are protruding…. I even have a muffintop.  Then I saw a few candid pictures of myself, and I was kind of horrified at my shape. First of all, my stomach protruded quite a bit around my lower abdomen area, but my legs were still super slim and lacking muscle… it reminded me of the Titan in “Attack on Titan” that was round and fat but stuck on a house with its long, super twig like legs.  I also have a TERRIBLE posture, and I guess from my tense muscles and all the stress of anxiety + breathing struggles, my shoulders are a bit risen up and hunched over, especially from the right side.  It really looked very unattractive to me.

I know that steroids do deposit fat differently for your body, and I guess I’d never been on it as much as I was in the past year, and particularly now that I’ve been on it for almost two weeks now to see if I can improve my lung function.  While I was never super concerned with my body appearance prior, I was never a super fan of my body either and just thought the major complaint was that I was too bony all over, especially my bony knees and lack of butt.  But now in addition, my lumpy waist and hunched shoulders just all in all are a mild devastation to me, psychologically.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt actual unattractiveness like this, even when I’m just in bum clothes and glasses and hair that hasn’t been washed in over a week…

Steps to take to stay determined:

  1.  keep working out and doing planks + gym as I can at least 2 times a week
    1. particularly, strengthen back and chest workouts, and legs… and arms… ok basically everything
  2. try to lessen sugar intake and eat more vegetables, fruit, and protein (find more delicious recipes + buy healthy foods)
  3. keep being productive in writing music for grad school
    1. sign up for GREs/ plan a date
    2. shoot emails to professors sometime in late September asking for recs
    3. keep doing research on other grad school programs
    4. follow up with Monica on online graphic design program
  4. do things to make yourself happy, like walk with Meg around neighborhood, hang out with friends
  5. TREAT YOSELF –>  bubble clay mask, hot  bath, hair treatment at salon, massage, leg wax/ exfoliation, clean make up
  6. Express yourself –>  continue improvising on piano, learning Chopin piece, also Photoshop + Illustrator (empowerment of chronically ill women <superhero with treatment mask>  <cute new kinds of hospital wear…>
  7. Google Analytics / Hubspot /Lynda Academy for digital marketing, etc.

 

 

 

What Animal Would You Pick If You Could Become One?

In 6th grade when we had to introduce ourselves including our favorite color, number, and animal, we would have to explain the animal we would transform into if we could.  I always picked dog or butterfly or eagle… the one I picked the most was the dog because well, a dog is always loved by everyone, and you don’t have to do much except be fed and cuddle right?

As I’m older though, I think it’s a horrible idea.  First of all, it really depends on what country you’re born in.. if you’re born in a country where they still consume dogs, then you’re pretty much fucked.  Second of all, once in awhile I would picture what it’s like to have a bunch of wide-eyed excited giggling humans touching me without my permission, and forcing me to roll over and do stupid shit like that.  I would be bewildered first of all because of my social anxiety, and then I couldn’t even bark or bite them or I would be deemed “unfriendly”, a nature that is contradictory and unloving to what dogs are supposed to be to humans.  But humans suck and in some ways, they are really condescending sometimes!  I truly believe dogs are angels sent from above, we don’t deserve them :/

It’s kind of like stereotyping dogs and women and third world countries, where you help them out, but they were always remain second to you as a “pet” and you as the “owner.”  So even if you didn’t physically abuse your pet, probably one of the perks is having that power to control this cute and vulnerable being.  Not to mention if they dared cause any sort of injury to a human, they would probably be put down :/  Even though humans exercise the right to harm animals, even if institutionally in farms or wherever most of the time.  Can you imagine how much life would suck for humans if another species more clever than us dominated the planet and they were as crappy as humans?  I wonder how many mean psychos and compassionate people exist in this world, and whether they equal each other out.  You always see it in politics.  In most of the minds of people though, they always right and the good guy.  The people who can’t accept same-sex marriage because they are stubbornly fighting for a tradition that is the correct way to live, so depending on where you stand, you are either a jerk or an altruistic individual.

Anddd this is why they ask a child at age 12 this kind of question, because as an adult you way overanalyze and overthink your answer to the point of exhaustion.

A butterfly also dies in 2 weeks- am I okay with the transcendental brief life span?  I guess depending on humans too living an average of 80 years or whatever, it’s all subjective.

As for an eagle, well they can fly and they are definitely powerful.  Bald eagles are also revered in America.  But Idk.  They look like assholes.  LOL.  I’m judging now based on looks, which I try not to do, but inadvertently, I can’t help but do it as a human.

Retreat: Testimony

Wow.

So I forced myself to drive out to the university where spring retreat was being held- I had seen many pictures of this place in all the pictures I stalked when I first befriended my fellowship friends last summer so I was curious to check it out.  The night before, my anxiety kept me up all night with me knowing I should show up at a respectful time to participate, especially since I felt guilty that I had not paid anything and had not planned to come, much less stay.  Nobody knows how hard it is to push the small part of yourself through all the anxiety and fear, simply to challenge yourself to be present in the experiences of life, no matter what they are.  Something so natural to someone else, like looking forward to how fun retreat is, or a vacation, is stressful to me no matter what.

Anyway, as usual, there were things I was not too keen on, one of them being the Sunday message given by the pastor (more on that in another post), but one of the most crazy experiences this Sunday was testimony.  To be honest, I was a little apprehensive as the last testimony I witnessed was during their Thanksgiving dinner led by the pastor… it felt a bit forced and inauthentic, with every single tumor that disappeared, every mini good thing that happened, resounding in ‘PRAISE THE LORD.’

I thought it was strange that testimony was scheduled for more than an hour as nobody spoke for the first five to ten minutes.  However, slowly but surely, one by one people went up to speak.  These felt spoken from the heart.  One kid was in high school, and he talked about how he felt he was in a dark place, and was depressed that he wasn’t getting good grades.  He said he knew that it might get better, yet he might regret if he didn’t speak up about it.  Another who really got to me was Donna, Bobby’s mom who lost both her father and her husband AND got cancer all around the same time… nuts.  She apologized for being difficult to be around and also spoke of her pain and gratitude for the kids especially.  It was really hard to listen to her, but I felt her suffering, and a couple people were crying with her.  It was so real, and I was almost tempted to go up and talk about my experiences too, except I still don’t know if I’m completely convinced of the beliefs in the bible and I still question a lot of things… but I do wish I have the courage one day to speak up, and at least talk about my personal experiences or give a word to encourage others, especially the younger kids.

Thoughts n Questions to Ponder

  1.  What are the main differences between pity, sympathy, and empathy?  Are there two different levels of empathy?  A.  Having gone through the same, or very similar experience where you understand deeply B.  Can understand as explained to you, as you willingly strive to seek out understanding of another’s experiences
  2. What determines what is art and what is not?  Is it enough that it makes one feel an emotion, or an opinion?    What about if something is crudely done in controversy? Perhaps this is how famous celebrities (Kim K, Andy Warhol, Trump, the Pepsi commercial) garner publicity knowingly and manipulatively
  3. Everything in life mainly revolves around the goal of Efficiency, which will lead to Effectiveness.  Example: Why Marie Kondo’s book on tidying and organizing became a bestseller as we have so much waste and crap in our houses.  It is how I learned to memorize my music with intent and away from the piano, more intensely in less time, but more mentally draining regardless.  Creative design should also focus on minimize waste, energy, time.  Should the same concept be applied for empathy?
    1. Things that are wasteful but shouldn’t be… 40% groceries wasted away in the average American household- why??
    2. Taco Bell sauce packets
    3. Throwing away or not having anywhere to place reusable teabags…

What are my strengths and current goals? Curiosity, focus, and intense determination

  1.  Korean / Spanish language, teaching Mandarin to my friend daily and weekly
  2.  Coding for Python
  3. Looking into animation (create short) practicing piano again and writing music (create a great piece)
  4. Empathy, Pondering, Philosophy
  5. Creating greater efficiency in waste, energy, time
    1. Re-organize lifestyle and bedroom
    2. Establish regime – wake up before 12pm, sleep at 2am, take morning/bedtime calcium supplements.  Stretches, drink 37oz liquids, work out, floss, mouthwash, skincare, haircare.
    3. “Is what I’m doing beneficial to me in the long run? Am I learning something right now productive?” –>  TEDtalks, cooking recipes (next up, ba wan), Lynda tutorials
    4. Be better at planning events
    5. Minimize sound pollution, food waste
    6. Develop photography portfolio so I can develop photoshop photos
  6. Passions:  women’s rights, Asian American rights, Disability rights –> how to save energy
    1. Suitcase with wheels/ moving chair
    2. Accessibility (ex:  more elevators in the city, better “wheelchairs”)
    3. How do we increase efficiency in obtaining empathy in each other in a simple, direct manner that makes sense?  –>  perspective of woman translating well for men.  Struggles of Asian Americans and immigrants, their story to become understanding or more relatable.
      1. Watch movies:  50/50 on reality of illnesses, The Godfather on moral dilemmas, Master of None on feminism, immigrants, ageism, hook up culture, racism, etc.
  7. Me:   Sound of heels clicking cleanly across the floor with a slight echo, rustling of a turning page, old smell of sheets of paper, fresh cut grass, moisturizing lip balms, Lupicia cookie tea and chocolate strawberry tea, slicing cucumbers, sizzling oil, matcha bubble tea, onigiri, ramen, glistening sashimi, glutinous gelatinous ba wan, emotional energy channeling through fingertips into keys, deep breaths, whirling thoughts, racing heartbeat, derp.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Christianity

Someone once asked me before if I was a Christian or not.  I responded “Technically, I am I guess.”  The answer understandably complexed him, because well, it confuses me too.

Let me start from the beginning.  When I was hospitalized at the age of three, my parents were Buddhists.  I remember faintly the scent of burning incense with some sort of mini red and gold shrine in our house.  The suffering they went through guided them to pray to a different figure instead, and well, six weeks later, I got to come home.  From that time on, we thanked God before every meal, and my family attended church and were involved in the religious community for about a decade.  At some point though, I’m not sure if it was necessarily loss of faith, but rather the experience of witnessing and experiencing hypocritical and un-Christian-like behavior that caused a drift from the church.

Regardless, even though it may be wrong,  I always couldn’t help but wonder, question, and even challenge the whole idea of God, and what it meant to be a devout, true, “good” believer.  When I was about seven years old, I would think up immature ways to test that God was real, like praying that the water be turned hot immediately if he was indeed, listening to me.  I was incredulous that God had the ability and personableness to attend to my talks with him if other people were also demanding his attention.  Not understanding the concept of faith either, I would also request that he perform other similar mini miracles to prove his existence.

At my mom’s deepest moments of despair, I heard her once whisper that it was unfair and that it felt like we were being punished.  Though brief, that moment stayed with me, and throughout life later, whenever I witnessed or experienced pain, I would cry out in my head, Where are you now? Why aren’t you helping if you care?  Nevertheless, no matter how much I felt upset or resentful, like a habit I couldn’t help but converse with God whenever I was feeling very, very lost.

After we stopped going to church much when I was around twelve years old, it wasn’t until I entered college that my identity in limbo as a Christian would be pulled to the forefront again.  There was a group of older Asian students I wanted to be friends with, but I soon found out they were very religious.  The first time I sat down with a particular senior in the student center, he stared at me and flat out asked if I was a Christian.  I said yes. He asked what kind of Christian I was, to which I felt stupid and couldn’t answer because I wasn’t sure. He asked if I attended church regularly, and I said no, I had stopped going when I was about twelve.  After a long awkward pause, he continued staring at me and then finally said, “Well, that’s okay” even though it felt like I had failed some interview.  I felt incredibly intimidated.  Nevertheless, I would end up becoming better friends with some of the other people in the group, the ones who at least, didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or judge me for any transgressions I might commit by accident, such as cursing or sharing openly that I had imbibed some alcohol.  The ones who were genuine in their goodheartedness, and that took awhile to read and sort out.

During my darkest period of time, I started to attend one of the weekly Christian discussion meet ups, openly tearing up at bible passages, but also recklessly challenging perspectives not meaning to be rude, but in a genuine quest to understand better what it meant to be Christian and why certain beliefs were formed.  For example, I didn’t understand why some Christians believed all non-believers were denied entry to heaven when some of my closest friends and most wonderful human beings were non-believers, while there are more than enough shitty Christians who give all Christians a bad name in the world… while Hitler could be allowed in if he found redemption the second before his death and asked for forgiveness.  I didn’t agree with the idea that homosexual people were sinners, just as liars and other kinds of sins existed.  How could it be a sin if you had no choice in the matter and were born to love one or the other type of person?  I wasn’t particularly pro-LGBT rights before I got to college; I simply had no opinion and had lead a pretty sheltered, conservative life.  From my standpoint, I believe that the bible has great teachings to share with us, but it is definitely outdated and open for interpretation.  But stubbornness and strong faith leads us to believe that it is not interpretation, but simply  the word of God, and there is no room for debate, only truth.

Whenever I entered discussions with religious friends, it felt enlightening but also like we were entering a delicate danger zone.  At my most vulnerable, I reached out to many people and some reached back.  I am forever grateful for that, but always wondered if it was because they were good friends and cared for me, or because they felt pity and considered it a duty to lend me a hand.  I suppose it could be both, that they loved me and that it was through God’s love as well?  At my darkest times, I felt conflicting emotions when some friends would attempt to comfort me by sending me more bible passages.  Maybe they provided a minimal sort of comfort, but it also kind of irked me.  However, I recognized that it was a way of sharing their care for me in their own way, and I felt a tremendous amount of gratitude.

One particular story never sat well with me, and that was the passage where God tells Abraham to sacrifice his own son as evidence of his loyalty to him.  That didn’t sound like a very kind God to me, it felt cruel to force anyone to choose between someone else one loved and yourself.  But was I blasphemous for thinking these kinds of thoughts, would I end up denied entry as well?  I say that in an attempt to avoid the sentencing of going to hell for eternity instead… again, that seems rather unforgiving.  My friend once said that she doesn’t believe there is a hell, it’s just too extreme.  When we got into a heavy discussion about heaven and hell, I came to a theory that for people who have comparably minimal worries in this life on this planet with no particular worries embedded in serious health or financial issues, maybe that was the heaven that God has blessed them with (also, please, no more #blessed. It’s an abused word).  After all, for immigrants or refugees, the ultimate dream was to reach a safe land where they could live together and provide each other with food and basic comforts, not just survive day to day, and so many of us already have that that we don’t even notice it.  So if you already have all of these elements, and are deeply worried about getting better clothes than your friends, or a hot boyfriend or something like that, check yourself.

And while we are on the subject of hypocrisy, there is A. LOT. OF. THAT.  It’s a ridiculously easy thing to do, and all of us do it from time to time.  But everyone is constantly passing judgments off of each other, even Christians.  I get that even Christians can make mistakes, but it just seems I hold Christians to higher standards especially ones who are always focused on telling others what it meant to be a real Christian and holding others in contempt for not doing the same.  I think it’s important to respect your body and treat it well, but i also think it is a woman’s right to dress themselves however they see fit and not have to get a giant scarlet “A” slapped on them for it since men don’t.  That doesn’t mean I am a fan of Kim Kardashian for showing her nakedness all the time everywhere she goes, because I don’t think starting your fame from a sex tape is a skill I admire, and I don’t think her main goal of being naked all the time is to conquer and end gender inequality.  She is obviously talented at staying in the public eye, but to constantly seek the limelight and be considered a role model isn’t healthy either.  Even her sister Kylie’s example encourages young girls to demand a specific type of beauty that exudes superficiality with lip fillers and plastic surgery, and there’s more than enough of that in the world.  At the very least, that entire clan can use their platform to contribute more to society.  But maybe my opinion is misconstrued by what I don’t know.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with embracing your curves, but I also think she gets way too much fame and money for no particular reason.  News articles and the media are always featuring the latest antics of Kimye and whether Kylie and Tyga are back together, but girls in our culture pay attention to that shit, and we prize that clan’s flaunting lips and booties over girls fighting for their rights in challenging societies, risking their lives to make a real difference, like Malala Yousafzai.  But I think I know what the issue is here.  We prefer not to dip into others’ tainted waters, we prefer to stand by the pool in our shades, all the while saying “Oh man, that’s awful!”  We want to block out all the misery in the world instead of get swallowed up in it, because it’s much easier that way.  When I look at the seven featured Facebook news, I find myself gravitating towards opening the one about TSwift and THiddleston on their romantic getaway abroad, making out, rather than the one about more killings and deaths in another airport.

Going back to my original ramble,  I think women are valuable beings who deserve to be treated with respect from their counterparts, and not suppressed or mistreated by men, but that does not mean they are holy vessels who must absolutely save themselves for marriage.  (It’s always been a bit amusing to me that I am considered a wild child in comparison to my conservative Asian parents and their friends and more so to other Asians, particularly in the motherland- yet, I am by far the most prude in other groups of friends.  I’ve always considered myself standing somewhere on middle ground on the spectrum, always in moderation of opposing opinions, yet if I had to choose, I’d say I agree more so with the perspective of most in modern times, yet my natural inclinations lean towards conservative views; after all, I am an old soul).

To expand on that, a lot of women have been pushing the boundaries for gender equality and demanding that women get to sexually explore as much as men do.  While I think it’s a fair right to demand, I also am just not a fan of hook up culture personally, and wish both men and women don’t sleep around so casually, because while I don’t think waiting until marriage is practical or reasonable, I still think the idea of sharing bodies is so intimate that it has to mean something to both parties.  I also believe it is my right to go out and have a night of fun that may or may not involve drinking a little or wearing an outfit that may or may not reveal more skin, as long as it’s responsibly handled and there is no disrespect and lack of consideration for others (acting trashy, there is a difference here that many conservatives don’t seem to consider).  Some people do curse too much, and it can get excessively rude or annoying, but if you’re judging the quality of a human being as a whole by how much profanity they spout above their actions, something is clearly wrong.  There are plenty of people who appear friendly and nice on the outside, but won’t be there where it counts down the wire, just like there are tons of individuals who seem rough around the edges but are actually some of the kindest souls out there.  If we had to nitpick, I think the amount of cursing one produces should be ranked pretty low on the scale, wouldn’t you say?

Bottom line, I can see how tempting it can be to believe wholeheartedly in God and find peace and comfort in having full faith, but my doubts have rarely strayed from my thoughts.  Christianity has been the cause of the crusades, wars and killings of other religions, intolerance practiced, multiple incidents of misrepresentation and dark interpretations of the bible.  I know that the argument is that Christianity is not the cause, but people are, because people are, well, sinners.  But still, it was and continues to be a source of both terrible and wonderful things, bringing out the worst and best in people.  And I may continue to have these complex, fluctuating feelings, which kind of sucks, but that’s the way my relationship is with Christianity.  I am a Christian because I do pray on rare occasions and attended church and read the bible; on the other hand, there were years where I barely touched on religion and felt “faith” was a rather demanding alien concept, and I still hesitate if asked the question “Are you a Christian?”  Technically, yes I am. I guess.  I’m here neither to evangelize nor denounce anything, but portray my honest thoughts.

 

Waste

You know, it’s interesting to me that we often discuss waste, but not much in the literal sense.  More in the abstract sense of “waste of time, waste of emotions, ugh Trump is such a waste of space” that kind of thought.  “That boy is not worth my time,” the usual kind of relationship material featured on mainstream music like Taylor Swift. Maybe it’s more romantic than talking about actual, straight up, physical waste.

I don’t remember where I read this from, so forgive me if the forgotten source detracts from the credibility of my blog post, but Americans do waste 40% of their groceries on average.  When I came across this figure, I paid attention to the amount of food I unearthed in the fridge that had gone bad because it was shoved way in the back, or we simply ran out of time before it started getting inedible, and ashamedly I admit it was probably close to that figure that particular week.  After that, I tried to stay on top of things and remember to use up food while it was fresh, but this new mindfulness conflicts with my natural hoarder mentality to tuck everything away and save it “for next time.”  Especially during college, when I had the occasional frame of mind to focus on making food with real ingredients and not instant ramen, I would open the fridge and stare aghast at the over-aged, sad-looking, withered bok choy and the molded cheese and fruit (It had only been a week!)

I grew up in a household where a few grains of rice left on my bowl prompted my mother to warn me that the amount of grains remaining equaled the amount of pimples on my future husband’s face.  Even though some unused ingredients manage to slip through here and there, my parents had known a harder life than I had, and know the value of food.  I’m not saying it was helpful or fun to hear a voice constantly guilting you of all the African and Asian children starving when you couldn’t finish your noodles or felt unmotivated to eat the rest of the fried rice- I was too young to understand anything from it anyway except that it made me feel bad.  Regardless, the general rule was that until the food placed on your plate was empty, your butt was not allowed to leave the chair.  This plus my eating problems resulted in many nights of sitting at the kitchen table for hours.

In contrast, my friend and I talked about the occasional dinner to a white friend’s house, and finding it absolutely blasphemous when they couldn’t finish their dinners, instead of putting it in the fridge as leftovers, the simple answer to most things was to throw it out.  And while I am certain this was not the scenario for every white family, or even my scenario for every Asian family, there seemed to be a common theme for some differences, particularly for how privileged the family or generation is at the time as well.

Many other countries consider Americans lazy, pampered slobs. In many ways, they are right.  When other countries think of McDonalds and obesity first, that’s kind of upsetting.  Going to Taiwan and Japan, many parts of the culture revolves around the theme of moderation.  I find that every single napkin handed to me by the waiter in Japan is petite, and valued.  Place this image side by side to the food court at some American mall, where some dude walks by and grabs an unnecessarily large wad of napkins, all to jam into his face as he eats a burger and fries.  Sometimes, I get frustrated that I have to walk a couple blocks to the subway station in Taiwan just to find a trash can to throw a cup out, but you know what?  It works.  Furthermore, Denmark has transformed into waste-to-energy country, with a Zero Waste system in place.  I’m pretty happy to be an American, and I am proud to call myself one, but on the other hand, why is it that such a powerful, great nation is unable to achieve what many other smaller countries already have?

Another facet of waste that I see often that is a personal pet peeve of mine, is the waste of water.  Let me begin by saying that I definitely waste water- I am very guilty of taking long hot showers, especially when I’m having an off day.  It’s one of the best feelings in the world.  But what really gets me is when people take their time examining their face in the mirror and leave the faucet running for a minute or more.  I see this all the time in public bathrooms, and it BOTHERS ME.  Because well, at least the hot shower was contributing to someone’s happiness, but this is just well, plain waste for no reason at all except habit.

I love watching cooking shows.  But every time the judge takes one bite of food and then leaves the rest, I can’t help but assume that the remaining food is thrown away.  I cringe when I see Joe Bastianich throw the entire plate into the trash can just because it’s not up to his standards.  I mean, is that really necessary?  While I’m on cruises, I get excited when I know that I get to order as many things as I want, try and taste different plates, because well, the whole point of the cruise is to spoil yourself and get all glutinous, right?  A part of me says not to, but I still end up picking maybe two things and not finishing all of it.

I am a hypocrite, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve watched more documentaries (“Living On One Dollar A Day”, courtesy of Netflix, hop on it folks) on why and how people who count every drop and every bite of food, and I’ve had few moments when I was alone and had little access to buy a meal or go grocery shopping.  Of course, my spare moments are nothing to complain about, but I just mean that I had a very minor taste in what it could be like to be hungry and make every bit count.  I’ve walked by the streets and seen homeless people waiting to get enough for the next meal, or been asked to donate some money to organizations.  Listen, I know none of us are exactly able to dump out our pockets and just give it all away, because soon enough, one after the other there are more and more causes piling up, it’s endless.  The ongoing problems in our world rarely end, especially the common themes of war, hunger, poverty, politics, inequalities, etc..  But maybe I can honor the organizations and people a little bit by trying harder than I am now not to waste.  It doesn’t kill me to make that tiny choice of finishing the rest of the food for tomorrow, it doesn’t kill me to decide to research a few ways to use “waste,” such as using stale bread to make bread pudding, or overripe bananas into smoothies.  Even throwing waste into the garden patch is better than just throwing it into the can!  It doesn’t kill me to form the habit of remembering to turn off the faucet more frequently. I’m not saying, force yourself to eat the sad-looking, withered bok choy or the expired cheese.  Just being more mindful of little choices everyday is a great habit to have, despite our flaws and our desires to be less so.   We know there are better solutions out there, and it must be a goal to better our methods from the personal habits to society’s answer to waste and pollution.