Asia travels

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I’ve been traveling through Asia with some of my classmates for school and now for fun, so I haven’t had the time to really sit down for a post. It’s been such an amazing time and in trying to explain work husbands to my cousin in Japan who joined me for part of the trip, I talked about creating my own little extended family unit. I think that’s a fitting way to describe the closeness I feel with these incredible people. I’m with two of them now, as well as some who could very well be siblings or cousins of sorts (I’ve taken to calling one of them “lao ba” – an affectionate “old dad” nickname). More on my non-blood family another time… for now, here are some pics.

We stayed right across from Taipei 101.

Climbing Elephant Mountain was difficult but totally worth it.

I’m all about climbing and nature and views.

Pretty sure I lost this dress at the hotel, boo.

This bus was like a time capsule!

Taipei airport music-themed rest area. Off to Shanghai!

Visiting Baosteel to watch steel being made was cool.

It’s super hot when it rolls by and glows all over you.

City God Temple has tons of shopping.

Professor Lin and have the same taste and voted for the same logo design.

Hangzhou visit to Alibaba took us to this beautiful city.

Cats!!

At the highest place in Shanghai enjoying the view.

A funky place for live music in the basement of The Peninsula.

We found an amazing rooftop bar to contrast the club below. What a way to end our time in Shanghai.

The last breakfast buffet! I loved the salted duck eggs and congee.

I finally had time to try the fresh noodles before heading off.

Website down

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Yesterday I went to check on my site here to find it was disabled. Cue minor freak out.

I logged in to JustHost, my provider, and found that the issue is I have too many files. Apparently there’s a 200,000 limit for my type of account. About 150,000 of them were sitting in my various email accounts. I figured it’d be simple enough to delete all those messages since I have them forwarded to another email client anyway.

Well, I should have known that things wouldn’t be so straightforward. It took me forever to get around to figuring out that I wasn’t logging in to the correct email account. Yet even when I managed to delete all those messages, my file count did not change. Seems like there’s quite a lag in when that number gets updated.

My site got restored just minutes ago, so if you tried to visit before and got an error, you know why. I need to keep track of this situation for the future so I don’t have downtime again! Because of this debacle, I haven’t been able to get in to edit posts, but hopefully I’ll have a spring break update soon. 🙂

Israel preview

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Spring break has been incredible. We’re exploring Israel and have done things ranging from the Dead Sea to Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem) to an Israeli Air Force base.

Today we hiked Masada, rode camels, visited SodaStream, and have settled into a quaint resort. Here’s a quick look at my fav photos that a friend took. More to come later!!

I look like I’m saying something important right? 😉
Photo cred: “My Front Half”

Oh you know, just floating in the Dead Sea and admiring my muddy hands.
Photo cred: “My Front Half”

Revisiting work

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This week and last, I went back to my old work place to say hi to come of my colleagues and grab dinner or drinks. It was so strange showing up and not being able to get in without someone letting me in, then hopping around from conversation to conversation while I was there, with no desk or seat that was mine.

It was great to see everyone I ran into and get caught up on some of the changes that had occurred. I was at once surprised at how little had changed yet how much had. It was so strange – the past six months I’ve been in an insane bubble away from much of the world and since I’d undergone intense changes, I sort of thought more would have happened at the company too. At the same time, some of the things that did transpire during that period were changes that could have meant major changes for what my role was.

How often and how frequently do you go back to visit your previous workplaces? I’ve found that I initially return every 6 months or so and it seems to taper off after 2 years, since by then many of the people I knew best move on and there becomes a weaker tie back to the company. I do have some good friendships that came of each place and I maintain loose ties with those friends as our paths find ways to crisscross in the future. In fact, one of my old colleagues who had left will now be moving to NorCal, not far from where I’ll be interning over the summer!

Funny how life works sometimes.

I hope that over the course of my career, I can maintain strong relationships with the people I worked with and maybe we can even work together again in another capacity. It’s always so nice to see them again and be able to get the group back together for some conversation. I don’t know when I can visit again, but I do hope it’s a few more times before life moves on and we disperse to more places.

Shock and awe

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24 hours ago, I went to bed stunned. I really did believe that America would vote Hillary Clinton into office. Perhaps I was too naive.

It’s been a rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions in the ensuing hours. I’m pretty sure I went through all the stages of grief and then started all over again today. For a period, I also blocked out the memory and managed to forget. I’m still grappling with how exactly I feel and what I think. It’s pretty insane.

I know it’s not the end of the world, or even the country. But I do truly feel that we could be headed down a dark path. Based on what happened in the campaign, there’s a lot to worry about. Luckily the government has power spread out and things don’t generally move very fast. I’m hoping the more extreme ideas never come to fruition and I know we’ll be looking out for ways we can help ensure that’s the case.

At this point, I think it’s important to remain hopeful and to be strong with those who value humanity without labels that separate. There has been so much division and disagreement in the discourse. I can empathize that certain Americans have been unhappy. I do not pretend to understand their plight, but I would certainly be upset if I felt marginalized and ignored.

However, I wish that this election wasn’t the way for the disenfranchised to lash out. Will they really get what they want out of it? I’m doubtful… only time will tell. I personally could not ignore the consistent bullying and belittling. That is not the temperament and character of a president. I cannot respect a man like that.

I’ve seen a lot of people shocked, disappointed, upset, appalled, disgusted, and in disbelief. I am many of those things too, but at the same time, I have hope that the next couple of years will pan out in a more positive way than we expect in our fearful state. I know many will be working to secure a better future than we might foresee right now. I believe that’s what we’ll need.

For now, I’m taking a moment to mourn. There will be some tough roads ahead.

Good news and good fortune

laelene Posted in general blog
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This was an awesome week. First and foremost, I got an internship offer!! This was a major win for me and I’m thrilled. I’ll share more details on recruiting and internships once everything settles in the coming weeks. I’ve now rewarded myself with a night meeting new friends, sleep, grocery shopping, lots of boba, a massage, Ethiopian food, and a long-awaited iPhone order (expected to arrive in a month). This is the good life.

cart with last set of honest tea for sale at costco

Score of the day.

Compounding that awesomeness are other wins:

  • I was selected for a workshop to develop my strengths, Gallup style. I’m told over 175 people applied! I’m curious how many were selected – 50 maybe?
  • I randomly came across Honest Tea at Costco and when I tried to find more, was told I was lucky because they sold like hotcakes and they had no idea how I even found any left. I claimed the very last one, which wasn’t even in their system anymore, lol.
  • Last-minute, I called up Massage Envy to book an appointment and got the next slot, with their most popular therapist nonetheless. He was amazed at how much pressure I could take (comfortably) and how flexible and loose I am in the shoulders and hips. Apparently only dancers and gymnasts are like that, yet I’m neither. He said I was one in a million and even thanked me after the massage because he had so much fun.
  • And I even got a fortune cookie that said “Your opportunities are many.” Indeed!

Now before I get too carried away, I do have homework and studying for a quiz that I’ve been putting off… So I guess I should buckle down and stop acting like I forgot all about school. I’m going on a hike tomorrow that I thought was 3.5 hours roundtrip but upon further research, that might only be the way up. I guess I can spare half a day for fun and to finally hike the Hollywood sign!!

Busy time

laelene Posted in general blog
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Has it really been a week since my last posting?! I don’t think I’ve gone that long without writing something since I started blogging more seriously. Yikes.

This might be a preview of what’s to come with business school. Things have been busy with all the preparation and I can hardly believe all the traveling, packing, unpacking, and repacking I’ve done in the past three months. I’ve been on 20 planes, 11 trains, 2 long distance bus rides, and countless car rides. From Admit Weekend to a wedding to a full month in China and a Europe vacation to boot, I’ve covered a good part of the globe.

Since coming back late the night of the 20th, I’ve been working out the details of my move and trying to get back to PST. Luckily, it only took two days for me to get out of the jetlag funk and now I’m on a pretty normal schedule. I have now moved in as of yesterday and am settling in and trying to get my homework done before the start of the pre-term prep course.

There are also a bunch of administrative things I needed to do, like get my student ID, get books, pay for my parking permit… it’s all so overwhelming that I have trouble even picking which one to do first. I’m slowly chipping away at my to do list before it completely balloons into insanity sometime next week.

I have no idea how the workload will be once classes kick into gear, so postings may become rather sporadic. I’ll certainly try to continue with minimal interruptions!

For the record

laelene Posted in general blog
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I get my sentimentally from my paternal grandfather. This has become clear to me in recent visits, as he gets older and it presents itself more.

A visit to his room and you’ll see pictures of his children and grandchildren plastered all over the walls and dressers. I hadn’t noted it much before, but it’s his way of preserving memories of his burgeoning family. It’s a nice way to see what family members were like, like a little collection of time capsules. I might just be the same when I’m old and proud of my progeny.

When he was in his mid-eighties (86, perhaps), he wrote a log of our family history. My aunt carefully helped me read through it and I learned of his origins, my dad’s and ultimately mine. I had not known that my dad had another brother in his youth – a child who drowned when he was just 12. Apparently a few more of my distant relatives had also perished this way. (And there I was an avid swimmer in middle and high school… irony? Fate? An anomaly?)

For someone fascinated with family trees, this was a gold mine. He gave me a copy to keep and I cherished the gift of knowledge. I’ve been interested in my ancestry but looking at online sites wouldn’t be very useful since Chinese records aren’t as readily available. I don’t think I even have a birth certificate.

Last time I was there, in early 2014 (which may have been that same trip – I can’t recall), he gave me two photo books of pictures when I was small. There were some I hadn’t seen before and others that were a reminder of my childhood. It felt like he was passing them on to me, a sort of memory inheritance. This time, I received another one, with pictures ranging from when I first arrived in the US to when I was around 9, growing up in Kansas.

This visit, I was also told that there’s a new, updated version of our family history. My family members chuckled and sort of brushed it off as the silliness of an old man, but I appreciate his efforts. He even took a formal portrait and had copies given to each branch of the family. My sentimentality smiles at these gestures and I see myself in him. Now I know where this behavior comes from. How did I miss it all these years?

Life pain

laelene Posted in general blog
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My heartstrings are tugged easily by all sorts of creatures in life. It’s difficult for me to think of pain or death for almost any living thing. This has been exacerbated by being in China, where life and death are constantly on display.

That tank of fish at the restaurant? They’re there so you can pick one fresh to eat. The meat market? Freshly killed animals that morning. Even a gaggle of geese by the side of the road could be plucked for a meal at any point.

I’ve never been crazy about meat but now I truly spent some time considering whether I should go vegetarian completely. I saw a truckload of pigs in the freeway and all my heart could do was cry at the thought of their fate. Visiting my uncle, there were geese and ducks and chickens abound. He eagerly had one of the geese caught for us to eat. I was nearly sick at the thought. Why should I be the reason a goose had to die that day?

Strangely enough, my hypersensitivity started when I noticed a massive ant and pointed it out to my mother, only to have her stomp on it. I was so upset that in my mind I was thinking about shoving her or even punching her. Had I not pointed it out to her, it would still be alive. This was a desperately upsetting thought and I suppressed the urge for all maturity to fly out the door and kept myself from throwing a tantrum. Inside, I was fuming.

Life is so precious yet we humans so carelessly take it left and right. We kill bugs out of fear or sometimes even pleasure. We kill animals for food. We even kill each other in anger. It’s crazy and sickening. I know that eating animals for food is a natural part of life, but it’s hard to accept sometimes. I hate being the reason for death.

It makes it hard for me to enjoy meat now. I found myself averse to eggs, fish, and various meats. Guilt riddled every bite, if I could bring myself to take it. All I could think of was the pain of a piece of my flesh being torn, cooked, and consumed. Seeing bone made me imagine my bones being broken. Pigs’ feet reminded me of that truck. Everything makes me sad and this sudden closeness with the source of my food has increased my sensitivity to it all.

It’s difficult imagining the pain of the creatures we eat. But at least we’re using them. What bothered me most about the death of the ant is that it was completely senseless. It was not a pest in our home we wanted to be rid of. It was not something we would eat. It was not attacking us or endangering us in any way. So why did it have to die? Thinking about it makes me so sad. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it.

Our world revolves around food

laelene Posted in general blog
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My entire visit to my grandfather was predicated on food. First, food for the kids. My mom put together goodie bags of all sorts of crackers, cookies, etc. for my cousin’s children.

Then, breakfast at the hotel before heading over.

Once there, we sat and conversed until lunch was served.

In the afternoon, we went back to rest and then returned again for dinner.

As we left, we were given an assortment of food to bring along, including zongzi (sticky rice and meat or dates wrapped in leaves) and fujiu (a family fav of fermented rice).

The next day, it was breakfast at the hotel again and we were off to the next destination.

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