Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day has arrived!  I’m stoked because this is my first time spending it with someone special.  Not that my friends aren’t special and I didn’t have fun going out with them, but… you know.  And though I’m not into the whole gift-giving thing (nor do I expect Panda to pay for my meals), I do like this holiday in the sense that it is supposed to be a celebration of love and loved ones.  Granted, this holiday has undergone a fair share of commercialization, but when it boils down to it, I hope people realize that it’s really another time to appreciate the people you care about.  Would it hurt to do it in a cheesy, gaudy way occasionally?

Remember those cheap little cardboard Valentine’s cards from elementary school?  As I a child I always made sure my mom got me more than enough, just in case…  I even spent time to decide which card design would best fit which friend as I gingerly traced out their names on the cards, hoping I didn’t mess up.  There’d also be the lollipops or Sweetheart candies to distribute along with the little note.  Then came the day to bring your baggie to class and exchange them with your classmates (and just to be safe, you could give one to everyone in your class, whether you wanted to or not).  It was always fun to see what themes people chose and any special messages they may have written for you.  I secretly hoped that my crush would give me a unique card and use it to reveal his feelings for me, but alas, it never worked out.  So at the end of the day, you’d return home, baggie now filled with cards from your frinds and classmates.  At what age do you stop doing this?  I can’t seem to remember, but I think it was 2nd or 4th grade for me.

More recently, I had celebrated by gathering with my single girlfriends to enjoy an evening together.  Here and there there’d be a guy on my mind who I was loosely interested in and reminded of as I watched lovers throughout the day.  It generally wasn’t a big deal to me and I even spent the day taking three midterms last year!  To reward myself for that rough day, I went online and bought a longboard from Loaded.  Other times I was wrapped up in helping with fundraising events centered around the day with Valentine-grams and roses to deliver to students around campus.

This year, though, I am spending Valentine’s Day with my sweetheart.  We don’t have any fancy plans and I think we might even wander around Costco, just because he has not gone in years and it’s one of those things we’ve been meaning to do.  Whatever we do end up doing, all I care about is that I get to spend the whole day with him.  And that is what counts.  🙂

So no matter what plans you may or may not have for the day, just remember the loved ones who surround your life.  And why not play, “Single Ladies” and get your groove on too?  😉

Friday the 13th

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Well, well, well, if it isn’t Friday the 13th again.  I usually don’t realize that it’s coming until the day before, or usually the day of.  I never did understand why people seemed to be so afraid of the day, or even of the number 13.  They even have a term for fear of this day: paraskavedekatriaphobia.  Try saying that fast!  Perhaps I don’t get it because I’m not a superstitious person – I’d gladly stay on the 13th floor of a hotel or work on the 13th level of an office building.  I love it when black cats (or any cats, really) cross my path and I don’t mind if a mirror cracks.  I’ll even air out my umbrellas inside – *gasp*!

It’s interesting to me how pervasive some of these superstitions can get – there are countless cases of numbering where the 13th floor, room, or even stable is skipped over entirely.  It’s borderline paranoia.  Come on, it’s not like there isn’t a thirteenth; you just haven’t named it such (this then begs the metaphysical debate about what numbers are and if they even exist – but I digress).  Apparently, all you need to avoid this “unlucky” number is to not see it.  A similar superstition surrounds the number 4 in Asian culture, which stems from the similarity in sound that it has with “death.”  The aversion for four is so great that you can even get cheaper cell phone numbers and license plates if there is a 4 contained in it.

Now I’m not one for superstition, but I do enjoy little charms and trinkets that purportedly bring about good fortune!  I see no need to buy into the fearful beliefs that the negative superstitions promote.  It’s all too easily a self-fulfilling prophecy: you’re so afraid of something bad happening because of that black cat crossing your path that you get distracted while obsessing over it and get into an accident!  Though I may not believe in these mythical beliefs, seeing a four-leaf clover or finding a penny heads up on the ground still brings a smile to my face and optimism to my heart.  Is that so bad?

Today is three of the Friday the 13ths we are going to have in 2009 (and that’s the most you can ever have in a year).  Ironically, the 13th of a month has a slightly higher of occurrence as a Friday than any other day of the week!  Check out the Wikipedia article on it (look at the last chart on the occurrence section).  So if you’re the superstitious type, hold on to your hats, it’s going to be quite a year.

Comedians are pros at making observations

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I like to be funny.  One of the greatest joys in life is bringing a smile to someone’s face and laughter to their life.  I admire the comedians out there who can do so on a regular basis through various forms of media.  However, my type of comedy works on a more personal level, which doesn’t translate well to stand-up acts or videoed skits.

Consider it situational comedy, if you will.  As opposed to sitcoms – situation comedies – this kind of humor can only work with interaction in day to day life.  Now let me clarify: sitcoms can have situational comedy embedded in them as the storyline develops.  But what I’m talking about is the kind of humor that only comes up when you’re sitting with your friends, talking about all kinds of random topics, throwing in jokes wherever they may come up.

Somehow I can’t quite translate that into a solo act, so lately I have gotten into watching clips from HappySlip and KevJumba on YouTube.  They take everyday observations, put in their own brand of humor, and put it all on video to share with the masses.  I wish I could do that (or draw and narrate a comic like Lev, or even just write with a humorous tone).  They have done something that I envy.  It’s ok though, I don’t plan on making a living or being known as a comedian, so I’ll just keep the humor in my day-to-day life.

One thing that I have realized in watching their videos is that they take very commonplace occurrences in their lives and make it funny through their commentary and presentation.  It’s almost like they see life through a lens that distorts things like a fun house mirror that turns every image into a silly one.  Likewise, they take everything and put this funny twist to it.  You really can’t be a good comedian without viewing the world in another – brighter – light.

Another skill that you’d need to be a truly effective comedian is a broad knowledge of things.  From pop culture references to specific jargon, you can put the best twist on things if you can reference a variety of areas.  Not everyone is going to get everything, but it’s nice when the audience is treated intelligently.  That’s why I enjoy shows like Gilmore Girls – there are a lot of quips I may not understand, but even more that I do get and will get a laugh from.

Additionally, they’re not afraid to make fools of themselves and look silly.  Not everything in life is fancy, graceful, and elegant, after all.  So to have “real” appeal (aka seem true to their audience), it’s important to not be afraid of being goofy.  Too often people are scared of being judged, but that’s the beauty of comedy – sure you may be laughed at, but it’s not because people think poorly of you.  Rather, it’s their appreciation of what you’re saying and doing that makes them burst out in a fit of giggles.  It’s exceptionally rewarding.

Philosophers observe the world around them and question everything.  Writers jot it all down.  Photographers capture it on film.  Comedians?  They make everything laughable and enjoyable.  So why do I keep coming back to them?  Because they keep things fresh and interesting!  Why don’t you put a smile on your face and let them tickle your fancy too?

(Now I realize there are darker forms of humor, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.)

Social media paving the way to transparency – good or bad?

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In developing this blog, I have spent a lot of time researching online and reading up on other people’s blogs.  One thing I found was that what I was most interested in was reading their bios and trying to find a picture of them.  For some reason I was fascinated by learning about these people.

Now most people go to blogs to read the posts and discuss the ideas held therein.  I love to do that too, but I am also immensely interested in these writers as a face and a personality.  Personal anecdotes make what they’re writing about so much more real to me.

When I first started blogging, I held nothing back – it was my personal journal for all to see.  Then I decided to privatize my posts so that only friends could read it.  With that veil, I could continue to write about the people in my life without concealing their identities, since they mostly knew each other anyway.

However, as I was getting back into the blogging scene in the early days of 2009, I wanted a public blog that anyone could stumble upon.  I thought long and hard and decided I should create aliases for the people I would be talking about (and even kept myself behind a pen name) for privacy purposes.

With social networking, blogs, photo and video sharing sites becoming evermore popular, transparency has emerged as concern for us all to consider.  It is much easier to find the true identities of people via these sites now, so it makes me wonder how transparent I should be on my blog.  Should I use people’s real first names?  Should I post pictures or videos of them up?

To some extent I am worried about the safety of this – am I endangering those around me by overexposing them on the internet?  Or, should I just go with the flow of it (which, apparently, is towards complete transparency)?  Though I believe in being honest and open, should I be so open?  It doesn’t change the quality of my writing if I refer to someone by their real name or their pet name.

A blog I was reading recently dealt with the decision to be more transparent and it made me think about my own choice to use pseudonyms.  Only recently did I even decide to reveal my own name in the “About” section.  It’s a first step towards my personal transparency.  However, for now, I still don’t feel right about revealing more about the people in my lives.

It’s a hard balance between sharing enough and sharing too much!

Marriage: a broken institution?

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I’ve gotten the feeling that Millenials are jaded by the idea of marriage.  Or, at least, have such high standards and low expectations that they’re rather pessimistic about the whole idea.  Call it realism if you want.  Or it may just be cynicism.

This issue seems to stem from our generation growing up hearing the sad statistics of high divorce rates.  Of course, many also grew up in such households, having to live a life in single-parent homes, bouncing between parents, and dealing with step-parents and siblings.  Perhaps that is why this generation seems so much more against marrying (especially at a young age).

Too many of our parents rushed into marriage and it either failed or they are unhappy together.  Now, I used to be deathly afraid of commitment despite no family history of bad relationships (only one relative has gotten divorced and it didn’t seem nasty), but when I found Panda, it worked.  This whole relationship thing wasn’t as terrible as I imagined it to be.  Likewise, for marriage, I think that it comes down to the right feeling.

If it feels right, why avoid it? Sometimes you’re just ready to make that leap of faith.  And that is what any relationship is – faith in yourself, faith in your partner, and faith in your union.  You need to trust yourself and your significant other to make it work.  Sure, you may be too young and inexperienced for that judgment call, but if you’ve thought long and hard, if you’ve both talked about it, and you both feel comfortable, it can be a beautiful thing.

You can never be fully prepared for marriage and all the complications that it entails.  I don’t judge people based on what age they choose to get married.  For some, it works.  Statistically, younger couples are more likely to separate, but that tends to be an issue of maturity.  If you don’t know yourself well enough and you don’t understand your partner, it’s not going to work no matter what other factors there are.

Sadly, there are a lot of practical reasons that drive couples to the altar: finances, convenience, right of kin, etc.  Some marriages are carried out due to necessity or pressure, but you shouldn’t get hitched for such mundane reasons.  After all, marriage should be a celebration of love and devotion.

So why does it seem that getting married actually tears many couples apart?  Stability.  Though it’s great to have in our lives, if that’s all you have in a relationship, it stagnates.  So many couples feel their relationship diminish over the years, if only because they know they have each other to depend on, through thick and thin.  So they stop trying.

It shouldn’t be so easy though.  Relationships should constantly be evolving and changing as the individuals do.  The moment you stop working on it, you have doomed it.  Think of it as a process rather than a goal to be reached.

Marriage as an institution needs a major makeover if it is to survive.  Though, perhaps it doesn’t need to be saved and Gen Z can come to age in a society where couples get legal civil unions.  I wouldn’t mind a secular institution that allows gay unions as well.

A reflection on college: what is it for?

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Those of you active on facebook have probably been tagged in the “25 random things about me” note by this point.  In case you haven’t it’s this note that someone started by writing 25 tidbits about him/herself (I’m just going to pretend this was a girl and use the appropriate pronouns) and tagging 25 people who she wanted to learn more about.  You are supposed to include whoever tagged you as well, so they can read what you wrote.  I think it’s the most passed-on note of all facebook history.  After I’d been tagged a few times, I decided it was my turn to continue the trend and I found myself reflecting on college:

“After I graduated, I thought I’d miss college a lot. Surprisingly, I’m ok. Possibly because I am still there all the time (at least once a week), but I think also because this is the only time I can get away with weeks of not having something/somewhere I had to go, certain times I have to get up, and no deadlines to meet. I spent a lot of time watching TV shows, which I haven’t done since middle school – Gilmore Girls, House, Pushing Daisies, and now Lie to Me. Now that I’m all but caught up on the last episodes of House and Lie to Me, I’ve been filling my time with a lot of reading. To some extent I’m learning a lot more than I ever did in school. From career advice to relationship advice, Asian American perspectives to Gen Y opinions, I’m covering a lot of ground. The great thing is everything I’m learning is useful!

Looking back and reading others’ thoughts on college is making me think of it more as a place to blossom and learn about yourself than to really learn anything concrete for your future. To some extent, yes, there are facts and figures to be remembered. But for the most part, it’s about figuring out what you want to do, how you interact with people, where you fit in the world, the type of people you should surround yourself with, etc. Except for highly specified fields, the degree you walk away almost never tells anything about your future. (I just realized this is starting to sound like something that should be a blog post. Sorry. I’ll go write up an entry on this instead.)”

Here I am, making good on that promise.

I’ve read articles on why this guy regretted getting straight A’s in college, tips on what college students should do to prepare themselves for their professional future, and a personal account of lessons learned outside the college classroom.  It all made me realize that there’s a bigger picture here, beyond the quest for perfect grades.

We enter college thinking that this is our ticket to that job we wanted.  And in many ways, it is.  Just not the way you’d expect.  People spend so much time agonizing over what major to study, what classes to take, and what school to go to in the first place.  Yet what matters more are the people you’ll meet, the skills (and not so much the facts) you’ll learn, and the experience you can look back on.

What should you be capitalizing on?  Networking, self-discovery, and lessons in life.  The spectrum of people you meet in college will trounce any high school experience you’ve had (unless you’re going to some small private university meant for a very specific demographic).  It is important to notice the types of people you get along with, the types who rub you the wrong way, and your interactions with them.  Life is largely composed of relationships and looking at your interactions with people can tell you a lot about your personality and preferences.

When I look back on my time at UCLA and studying abroad at the University of York, I hardly cherish the facts drilled into me as much as how my friends, organizations, and even living situations have shaped me.  From them, I have learned that I enjoy company and never want to live alone.  They have shown me how much I love to travel and meet new people in foreign cultures.  They have shown me how loyal I can be and what motivates me to get things done.  They have even taught me a bit about relaxation and what soothes me in stressful times.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to know yourself.  What are your passions?  What are your fears?  It is only when you begin to understand the “why” behind the “what” that you can apply that knowledge towards personal fulfillment.  Find what drives you and use that to motivate you towards your goals.  And while it’s important to be aiming for something, it’s also important to know how you can get there while enjoying yourself.

The idea is to not take things at face value, but look for the deeper lessons to be learned.  Lessons about you as a person and how you fit into the world.  College is a great place for you to meet the best and brightest to learn with.

Side note:
One of the great things about blogging (or keeping a private journal/diary) is your ability to look back and see how much you’ve changed.  I kept a blog for about two years in the early stages of my college career and when I went back to read what I had written so long ago, I was surprised to notice how things have progressed.  Even if you don’t have access to that type of insight, I don’t know anyone who looks back on college and thinks, “Oh yeah, just another four years of my life.”  No, college is life-altering.  Take advantage of it.

Sleepless in my bed

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It’s early in the morning and I have yet to sleep all night.  This has been an ever-increasing problem with me in the past week.  I’ve always been a night owl, but now I’m up until brunch time and then I end up sleeping through until dinner.  If I have something to do during the day, I just take a nap before I have to go.  It’s not enough sleep, but I get through the day and usually pass out in the evening.  However, that sleep is never very restful and I end up waking up later that night, which just leads to another all-nighter.

I’m starting to get a headache from this, but there are so many things to occupy my time!  Sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to do it all and next thing I know, the birds are chirping outside and the sun has come out to shine again (or, in today’s case, just light things up through the clouds).  I have found so many blogs that may be worth following and now I just spent hours creating this website on Weebly.

My mom just got up to go to the local swap meet.  She loves to take a walk around there and try to haggle a few deals here and there if it’s something she needs.  In just two hours I should be driving down to UCLA to meet up with Panda and a friend for brunch.  At least I haven’t been sleepy or tired while driving!  That has only happened to me once in the past three or four years, as far as I can recall.  (I got off at the next exit and pulled onto a small street to take a nap.)

Should I take a two-hour nap?  Probably.  I’m at the point where my eyes start to feel heavy and I can sense the bags developing.  I also get ridiculously hungry at this time… grumble.

Etsy: eBay, handcrafted

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Recently, I discovered etsy.com through Katana, who has now set up shop on the site.  Etsy is a place for people to sell handmade items, ranging from jewelry to soaps to no-wedgie underwear and pillows!  I absolutely adore the novelty of this place and the allure that customizations can often be made by request and many of these items are original and unique.  It’s a fun place to explore, but handmade items come at a price!  So, for now, I won’t be purchasing anything, but when I’m ready to splurge, this adorable, simple necklace is first on my list!

I really like how this site took something that seemed outdated and brought a whole new life to it.  In the olden days, people made their own stuff because they had to.  All merchants chose to specialize in something for local customers and townspeople only had those choices.  Now, it’s like having one big village!  People from all over the world can browse what each person is good at and specializes in and sellers can change items per customer’s request.  It’s so much cooler to have something that you know is special, whether it was because you chose the color combination or you may have even contributed to the design!

The world really is getting smaller, isn’t it?  That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as a sense of community is maintained and people don’t always retreat to their online havens.

Possible themes?

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I lay around all night, thinking about what kind of perspective my blog can offer the world.  Through hours of research in the past couple of days, I am slowly beginning to come up with an identity for myself.  At first, I thought about writing career related stuff, especially for college students and fresh college grads.  Then, I also wanted to incorporate a feminist point of view (and for me, that just means exploring how I view things being a female).  After that I started thinking about my interest in marketing and entrepreneurism and perhaps providing tips in those areas, as I learn them.  From there, I explored how my perspective is different as an Asian American and that is what I’m currently reading about.  So, in an effort to merge all these interests, I could create a “female Asian American’s thoughts and experiences in the professional world” type blog.

Of course, I also have a myriad of interests outside of those areas, so I really am struggling to try to keep a certain focus.  I adore traveling and immersing myself into other worlds, but I haven’t done that in a year, though I am about to leave for Singapore.  I love cats (and pretty much all animals), but my last one just died on Christmas.  I have an obsession for the military, especially the Marine Corps, but I don’t really get to interact with them anymore.  I am also fascinated with relationships and reading about all aspects of that kind of advice.  I find arts and crafts to be really cool, though I haven’t really had time to create anything lately (the last thing was my cross stitch).  I am a huge fan of food and I even take pictures of any and every meal that is vaguely interesting or tasty-looking.  Speaking of, I also take LOADS of pictures to document my life and those around me.

I think in the end I am just hoping that because everything I write about will be from my thoughts, there will be a theme or two that emerge from the way I write and what I choose to write about.  Am I just trying too hard to find it right now?

Twitter revolution

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For the past couple of hours, I have been entrenched in the world of blogs and Twitter, which seem to be at the forefront of social media.  I continued the slow trudge through the rest of the entries that Jess Goodman wrote on her blog after writing my previous entry and started to get curious about social media.  Link after link of related material led me to various blogs of famous writers, career coaches, entrepreneurs, and anyone else who has embraced this new trend.  I still have over twenty tabs open in my browser of blogs to visit and ideas to research.  It’s crazy!

What hit me recently (sometime between the last post and this) was the emerging phenomenon of Twitter.  Alarmingly, I haven’t a clue what it is or how to utilize it, but after reading up on it, it seems it is the new direction of the online community. I am sad to realize that as much as I pride myself on adapting quickly and being rather tech-savvy, I have been left behind on this front.  Thankfully, it’s not too late to get in on it, but to some extent I don’t want to.  I never really thought of myself as a traditionalist at heart, but I’m starting to see that part of me emerge.  I don’t want to learn about this “tweeting” and all the new lingo associated with it.  I don’t want to give up my Yahoo account for a Gmail one.  I don’t want internet access on my cell phone.  I don’t want to learn how to use a Mac.  I don’t want the pace of life to pick up even more!  But, it is the age of connectivity and sooner or later, that is how things will be.

Back when Facebook first began in 2004, I was graduating high school and resistant to this new concept.  It wasn’t until a friend whose judgment I respected greatly invited me to join that I decided to set up a profile.  Since then, I’ve never looked back and I absolutely adore what the site has done for me.  As a child, I moved every three to four years, and as a result of that, lost touch with most of my friends from my youth.  What memories I did hold of these lost friends enabled me to find them years later, on Facebook!  It was a great way to reunite with all those people who I had to move away from and now it is an amazing way to share the extensive amount of pictures that I take.  Throughout the evolution of Facebook, I have kept an open mind and though I am generally not a fan of the applications and the newsfeed made me a little concerned, I have always known that after the initial uproar, people would learn to use those new features.  It amazes me that time and time again, people will resist change, but then slowly they will adapt to it and forget how life ever was without it.

Now with the Twitter revolution, I feel like I am back in the summer before college, trying to decide if this trend was just a fad or something to start getting involved in.  And though I may not be entirely comfortable with it starting out, I will give it a try.  After all, it seems like every avid blogger (including my best friend)  is obsessed with Twitter.  There’s got to be a reason for that, right?

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