Posts Tagged ‘friends’


laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

commencementWell, it’s that time again and everyone at UCLA is done with finals and have been spending the past few days graduating.  Today marks the final day of all the ceremonies, from commencements to departmental graduations to the ethnic-based ones.  I’ve been getting e-mails on the AKPsi listserv of people talking about taking pictures together, attending their respective ceremonies, and otherwise celebrating the Class of 2009’s achievement.  It’s really a festive time of year, as everyone has summer on their sights and just this one last hurdle before induction into the world of alumnihood.  For just a moment, any worries about the future can be set aside as we focus on the here and now and rejoice in the completion of a degree.

Still striking.

Still striking.

All this hubbub reminds me of my own graduation last year, with the drama of the strikers, the excitement of the surrealness, and the hectic whirlwind surrounding finals and graduating.  The summer of 2008’s kickoff will always be a bittersweet one for me, since some of my relatives were able to fly in from China to attend, but the strike drove away Bill Clinton and Ariana Huffington as commencement speakers.  I still feel it would have been better for Clinton to come and talk to us about the strike, rather than avoid the issue completely and leave us all so bitter over that outcome.  Overall, it was still a good time, to enter Pauley Pavilion and see so many of my peers filling the floor as their loved ones crowded the arena.  The Deans of each segment of the College of Letters and Science introduced us with flair and I got to be represented in both the Life Sciences as well as the Social Sciences.

Phil Wang at the APIG.

Phil Wang at the APIG.

The following day I had both my Psychology and Economics departmental graduations, which my relatives split up to attend, with half coming for the morning Psych one and the others coming for the afternoon Econ one.  It was a crazy day that started way too early and had me going far into the night as I ran around to get to places on time and find my family amongst the crowd.  I still had some packing to do, which I needed to complete by the next day so I could go to the Asian/Pacific-Islander Graduation (APIG) in the afternoon and head back immediately thereafter to celebrate Father’s Day.

The APIG ceremony was truly special, since it was much smaller and was held outside in Dickson Court.  I gathered together with a bunch of my fraternity brothers and we sat quite close to the front.  Far East Movement and Wong Fu were there, with Far East performing customized lyrics and Phil Wang speaking to us about how the Asian-American community needs to unite.  We had a local Asian-American leader as a guest speaker, but of course I’ve forgotten his name.  All of the graduates even got t-shirts commemorating the event, with our names on the back!  It was great that one of my fraternity brothers was actually organizing the event – I was so proud!  Now he’s graduating as well.  Amazing how a year can pass just like that.

Chirp chomp

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Haha, a lazy one.

Haha, a lazy one.

Today was Blood Donor’s Day and in celebration, all regular blood donors who gave at least once in 2008 were invited to the Jurong Bird Park for free.  Chatty, Typea’s mom, had an offer for two to go for free, which she kindly offered me when I mentioned the places I’ve been meaning to go to.  Mizu had promised me he’d take me around to similar things like the zoo and Night Safari, so I asked if he’d come along for this.  Luckily, he was free for the day and we were able to enjoy a leisurely brunch before going in.  He brought a fancy camera to take some nice photos, which was great since I had neglected to charge my camera’s battery.  Plus, it freed me up to take some video footage while the battery was still alive.

DSC04884It was a nice overcast day for the most part, which kept things cool.  Thankfully, the rain stayed away though and allowed us to enjoy a very nice time at the park.  Apparently a lot of people are blood donors because the place was packed!  From the bus that took us from Boon Lay to the park to the line to get in, we could tell it was going to be a crowded place.  It was still great fun though, as we made our way from penguins to flamingos to macaws to hawks to ostriches, and so much more!  There was even this beastly creature that was huge and rather ugly, with remnants of a dino-like crown protruding from his head.  Along the way, we came across a pelican feeding, where we were told about the seven types of pelicans in existence, and then got to see an entertaining bird show with all kinds of fun tricks.

DSC04897At the end of our trip, we took the tram for one more spin around the park and headed out to meet up with some of Mizu’s friends.  We stopped by the gift shop hoping to find a cute penguin pen to bring back to Starfish, but they didn’t have any.  🙁  We also came across this free pearl offer (where they would extract it in front of you), but it was only for real ticketholders.  🙁  I was so sad because I really wanted one so I could bring something back to Chatty to thank her.  Oh well.  We then squeezed back onto the bus to take us to the MRT and took a nice long ride to Ang Mo Kio to wait for Mizu’s buddies.  Typea’s been using my iPod touch to play Tap Tap Revenge (it’s like DDR but with your fingers on the touchscreen), which Mizu also enjoys, so we played a few rounds challenging each other as we sipped on some drinks.

Come dinnertime, I met Mizu’s classmate Gold, a Korean guy who studied in the states for a number of years, Gold’s roommate Jolly, a Korean guy who had just come to Singapore two months ago, and their mutual friend Youli, a Japanese girl who’s working over in Changi.  We made our way over to a food center called Chomp Chomp, where Mizu played host and got us all kinds of dishes to try, along with the most montrously-sized mugs of sugar cane I’ve ever seen.  We had a fun time fighting to make people eat more and even ended with a lovely competition between Mizu and Gold, who chugged the rest of their sugar cane drinks.  Poor Gold got himself a bit of a headache from the intense sugar rush.  I wish I had been able to film that footage!  Unfortunately my camera had long since died by that point, so I have no pictures or videos to share.  However, I’ll be getting all the fun shots that Mizu got on his camera in a few days!

After that, we ended the night chilling with drinks and some snacking, chatting about all kinds of random things (and, inevitably, showing them Tap Tap Revenge as well!).  Ah, what good times!  🙂

A bit of a loner

laelene Posted in general blog, relationships,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Growing up an only child, constantly on the move, and often home alone, I’d say I can be a hermit of sorts.  At home I’m used to holing up in my room, for the first half of my life reading books and for the second half spending time on the internet.  I’ll spend the entire day there, taking breaks only to go to the bathroom or go grab some more food from the pantry.  It’s a lifestyle that I think a lot of people don’t understand, either because there are too many people in their households or their parents didn’t offer them as much space and independence.  But for me, what is normal is to do my own thing.

My mom will call me for dinner when it’s ready and I’ll make my way downstairs when I’m ready, usually after my parents have finished eating their meal.  We’re not ones for small talk, so they’ll continue on with their lives, my dad sometimes flipping on the news and my mom burying herself back in her study material (she’s always teaching herself something new or playing with AutoCAD).  We have a very nontraditional family unit and I think outsiders would often see our relationship as cold and distanced.  I don’t know how to convince them otherwise (nor do I want or need to), but that’s just the way it is.

white hp laptop

Just me and my computer.

I get all the support I need both emotionally and financially.  When I need help or advice on something, I can go ask and though we’ll often disagree, there’s much to be learned from that.  As for money, I hardly spent any as a child, never really asking for toys or new clothes.  All I wanted was to be driven to the library on a weekly basis so I could drag a new stack of books home.  At one point, I wanted video games, but they refused and I didn’t pursue it very frequently so eventually the desire faded.  In my senior year of high school, I started to drive and since then my habits have changed quite drastically, where I am much more in charge of where I go, what I do, and what I buy.  I still try not to spend much, but I do splurge here and there and my parents are always there to help me pad my bank account if I need it.

Panda and I have talked about the type of family we would want and I think it will be much more cohesive.  I image going to the park on a weekend or wandering around some new part of LA.  It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with my family; it’s just that when everyone is busy with their own things, hanging out for no good reason seems a waste of time.  So yeah, I’d like to have a lot of time to do things together, but I hope that when it comes time for the kids to leave home and go to college, they won’t feel tied down.  I don’t want them to feel like they need to come back on weekends all the time.  I chose to go to a college near home not because of the proximity but because of the university itself.  I want that to be the case for my children too.  There comes a time when you need to leave the nest and start making a life for yourself and college is definitely a major transitional period where that starts to happen.

buffalo walks along side of road alone

A bit of a loner.

Lately I’ve found that my immense independence and solitude is not “normal” and I think it can be seen as being aloof.  To me, it’s leaving people alone and being left alone to do what we need to do.  Unless there’s actually something to talk about, trying to find things to discuss feels like a waste of time to me.  So I thought I was doing everyone a favor by staying out of the way.  Well, when I was told that that’s not what they wanted, I started to greet in a less timid manner, began coming up with follow-up comments or questions, and would occasionally make my way to the living room and watch some TV together (even though I have no interest in TV).  All the while, I wracked my brain for things to talk about.

At the same time, I was terrified.  I don’t know how to approach people who I perceive to be in a position of authority (teachers, bosses, parents) and even when they are extremely open and inviting, I proceed with caution.  I think much of this fear held me back and created a lot of self-doubt in what I was doing and what I could do.  I knew I needed to somehow be more talkative and interactive, but I couldn’t think of interesting topics.  Perhaps it was because I felt that everything had to be so meaningful and profound.  It seems that small talk isn’t like that though – so much of it is really just mundane stuff, isn’t it?  And everything is quite repetitive – what you ate, what you did, how the weather is – and really doesn’t change all that much.

I also stopped myself from trying to talk much when the TV was on or trying to enter a room if the door was closed.  Those are signals of “leave me be” in my world, so I respected that.  Yet, other than that time, there were not really other windows of opportunity.  It’s either nobody’s there, they’re in the room, or they’re watching TV.  Well, it seems that there has been discontent because of the lack of interaction, so I decided to give it a shot.  I sat there and tried to make conversation for 45 minutes, with many pauses and much of the time spent looking at the tennis match on TV.  A couple times, it was suggested that I go rest or that I must have other things to do, so I should go in the room and go on with it.  I didn’t know if those were just polite refusals as a gesture that it’s ok if I don’t stay or if they were a subtle dismissal and an attempt to get me to retreat to the room.

guy puts face into handSigh, everything is so complicated when it comes to relationships.  I’ve got no experience in this realm and it is kicking me in the butt.  Even when I ask what is going on and what thoughts and feelings there are, I get no answer.  It’s such an Asian thing to do and perhaps I am too Western in my behavior.  To me, it’s about sharing feelings and talking it through.  But I guess it’s not so easy.  There’s so much that is taboo in the Chinese culture.  I wonder if this is the case,where even asking will not help yield an answer.  It sure seems so because so far it hasn’t.  I know I have a lot to fix but I don’t know what exactly and, more importantly, I don’t know how.  I feel utterly powerless and useless.  Boy do I have a headache.

Productive day

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

I feel quite good about today overall, since it has been a long and busy day.  Though it started off a bit slow, with Marylin and I running half an hour behind schedule, it was still an efficient day.  A lot of things happened, starting with the mysteriously loud bangs we were hearing – turns out it was the water jug delivery guys.  We got our new stash of water to guzzle (which we do at a very high pace), then received two samples of pillows and blankets from a company in China (for Napper’s other business), and the model ship we have been waiting for!  The ship was made by prison inmates and donated to the Yellow Ribbon Project as a way to promote giving prisoners a second chance.  When Zen saw it, he was very keen to buy it and was actually able to!  I always love mail (and packages especially), so it was rather exciting to keep getting deliveries to the door.

On an individual level, I sent out some follow-up e-mails to people I met at the SHRI Congress.  Some of them took me awhile to craft, since I wanted to make just the right impression and give just the right message.  I feel quite good about what I ended up sending, so we will see how the replies are.  I also spent a lot of time doing some random market research and got a chance to chat with Lorry and share my opinion on something he was working on.  It was a nice bonding bit, getting to spend some time brainstorming and discussing ideas.  I got a chance to step out for lunch, which has been more occurring more rarely these days, so that was nice.  Soon after, I got a call from an old friend  back from Perth for the week and made dinner plans.  I then continued working, taking some small breaks here and there and had another fruitful sharing session with Lorry, which made me late heading out of the office to go to dinner.  Though Orchard Road is not far from our office, it still took me a good 20-25 minutes to get there!  At least the trains weren’t packed.  I guess people go home way earlier than 7:30 on a Friday.  Thank goodness!  Those 6 o’clock crowds are killer.

I spent many hours over dinner catching up with my friend and then we met up with a good friend of hers.  A lot of interesting topics were discussed and it was very nice to spend some time out for myself, chilling and talking over dinner and drinks.  There was a lot of ground to cover, after three years of not seeing each other, then mixing in a new person.  It was quite nice to see her because 1. we didn’t expect to see each other again for years, if at all; 2. Singapore was the last place we thought we’d meet up (it was supposed to be LA); and 3. I had no idea she was coming back so soon until just a few days ago.  This was rather unexpected and a great refresher of my second year of uni.  Ah, the good old days…  Life has changed so much since then!  The college lifestyle is so special.  Pity it can’t be retained as we move on into the workforce.

As I was leaving, I checked with Marylin to make sure she was still awake to let me in.  Turns out she and Zen were still out, hanging out with some of his friends from the Navy.  Thus, I was dropped off at Clarke Quay and made my way to a rooftop bar.  I met four other guys there and we sat around having a grand old time.  It was a nicely breezy night up there, so it was quite comfortable.  I munched on some ice to help clear my throat from the smoke I had been close to at the bar I came from and eventually we headed off to get some “supper.”  What do you actually call a meal that you have at 3 in the morning?  Over dinner, we continued to crack jokes offhandedly and have a grand old time eating porridge.  I avoided the frog meat and got myself a bowl with some chicken shreds in it.

We were out until nearly 4 in the morning!  If tomorrow wasn’t a Saturday, I don’t think I could make it.

Family life

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , ,

At times I wish I had more family living near me, or a greater extended family sprawled around the world.  I have always dreamt of having an older brother to rely on (or a gay best friend).  Since I tend to connect a lot better with guys, I have always wanted to have one who was very, very close to me in a platonic way.  Unfortunately, though such figures have come and gone, I can’t really claim one guy who I can run to when I am hurt or scared or just have a great secret to share.  More than that though, I wish that my cousins and I were closer.  When I was young, I would always follow them around so closely that they nicknamed me their shadow.  It was true enough, since I only got to see them once a year for a few weeks and that was my only tie to my background.

I have lived my life very much alone, or in a tiny family unit consisting of me and my parents.  I always love to have people over to my house simply because nobody ever visits!  It’s always just me, my mom, my dad, and for some years, my cats.  There are no random second cousins or great aunts, twice removed who can swingby to say hi.  In fact, there isn’t a single other person in our family in the country, from either side of the family.  So, other than the summers that I got to go back to China in my childhood, I’ve hardly ever seen my relatives.  Lately, I have also spent a lot of my time on my own, first as I went off to college, then as my dad moved back to China, then as I studied abroad in England, then as my mom moved back to China as well, and finally as I moved out to Singapore to work.

Granted, I am not alone alone.  Yet, I have had nobody I can call family in the same country as me for the past two and a half years, but for the few months my mom came to visit, the couple of weeks my dad has spent back, and the lucky few days that some of my aunts and uncles got to come watch me graduate from UCLA.  Family, after all, are the only people who are linked to you from day 1.  And in my life, they are the only ones who have always been there, even if it was largely in the background and rather out of reach.  But year after year, they are there, growing in their own ways, and eventually we will catch up again.  For me, friendship has not worked out quite that way, since each move brought another group of people to leave behind.  I can never claim a best friend from my childhood who watched me grow up.  The only people who truly watched me grow up were my parents.

I have certainly been blessed with a lot of wonderful people in my life, but once again I find that they come and go.  I’m so used to people leaving my life and becoming a great memory that I didn’t even notice I do that, until a close friend pointed it out.  Perhaps I got too conditioned to having to leave people behind with every move we made over the years.  I don’t have the mindset that makes me think of someone, pick up the phone and call them, or drop them an e-mail to catch up.  Instead, I just wonder whatever happened to them and how they are doing.  I am always grateful when I do hear from a long-lost friend and get to see how they are doing in their lives.  I love that we are becoming a more globally connected world now and facebook was the first social media tool that allowed me to get in touch with friends from lives past.  I also love that you don’t need to be maintaining a conversation with each other to keep tabs on and be able to find each other years down the line.

I like to dream about a handful of aunts and uncles and dozens of cousins bustling around during Chinese New Year, as the whole family makes time to be together.  Sadly, I’ve only been in China once during that time of year since I left (which was when I was too young to remember anything anyway) and I don’t recall a thing about it.  My dad has told me that to truly experience Chinese festivities, I need to spend Chinese New Year back in his hometown, the little place that he grew up in.  Now that truly has small town flair in its celebrations, with all the stops pulled!  Maybe if I have time next year, I can make it come true, in the second Year of the Ox that I will experience since the one I was born in.  2010 will be an important year for me because I will have gone through two full Chinese zodiac cycles.  I’m sure that has some sort of significance.

Someday, I’d like to be able to gather with all my relatives (or at least one representative from each family unit).  But over the years, even our not-so-big family has had trouble reuniting as my cousins married off and started to create their own little families.  Between work, children, spouses, and friends, it’s hard to find time to get together like we used to when everyone lived in the same town and the only ones missing were me and my parents.  Now I’m embarking on my own life as well, sacrificing time with loved ones in hopesof building a strong foundation for a successful future.  Work is hardly as flexible as tertiary education was, with more hours and less ease of changing schedules.  Plus, there’s a lot less time off per annum.  On the other hand, I am very fortunate to be working for a company that would, like no other, work with me to try to make it happen, if I so chose.  One of the things I will miss most about education is the lovely summer months filled with enrichment learning, extracurricular fun, and personal fulfillment.

Despite all this daydreaming about a huge family, I still don’t want more than two or three kids, if only because I don’t know if I can handle any more.  Growing up so independent and with all the attention focused on me makes it difficult for me to conceive how it would be with a handful of children running amok.  The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it?  And that is why I wish I had a companion to grow up with, whether sibling, cousin living nearby, or best friend from childhood.  But, because I know there is this tendency to think that the other way is so much better, I do recognize the benefits of only childhood.  Thus, I don’t want to overcompensate by having so many kids I don’t know what to do with myself.  Instead, to create that feel, I’d like to live in a neighborhood where everyone knows each other and the kids can play together.  This would also be a great way to expose them to how others live their lives, especially if it’s a multicultural communit

My favorite moments in college

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , ,

As my departure date approaches, I am frantically taking advantage of the time I have left to visit my friends at and around UCLA.  The other night, I met up with a friend for tea and two and a half hours later, I left campus with a nostalgic feeling in my heart.  I miss the days of staying up late with my friends, discussing all sorts of ideas and lamenting the work we had to do.  One of the things I will miss most about college life is those late night chats in the hallway or lounge.

That is the reason that I stayed in on-campus housing for as long as I could; I loved the atmosphere there that cannot be replicated.  When else can you go knock on a random stranger’s door and make a friend without seeming too forward?  Where else will you find so many doors kept open and people weaving in and out of the hallway?  College residential life is the best buffer for meeting new people who may have nothing in common with you.  In every other social situation, you are brought together by some shared interest, but in this one, your choice of living situation hardly dictates the type of people you will be living around.

It was the nicest thing to be back in that environment I adored so much, doing what I do best – livening up the quarters!  In fact, as we stood in the hallway chatting, the duty RA came by and told us how he had just been thinking how he hadn’t heard the place so chatty since I was last around when he rounded the corner to find it was actually me there!  We caught up briefly and then he left to continue his round, jokingly warning us to keep it down or else he’d have to come write us up (he’s a friend of mine, so it was only half serious).  I thought about it and you know what?  I’d much rather be the type of person up way too late interacting with my peers and possibly getting written up for it than the type of person always holed up in the my room, hardly ever socializing with fellow students.

College is a time of great growth, academically and socially, and everyone should take advantage of it in all aspects.  I will always fondly remember the feeling of sitting around with my friends, exchanging our thoughts throughout the night.  And I will miss that, as well as having such a huge concentration of friends in a small area.  Life is changing quickly.

How I was molded into an independent person

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

I just overheard my mom on the phone, booking her plane ticket to Mongolia, due to leave just about 12 hours after mine to Singapore leaves LAX.  The past couple of days she has been lamenting what to do about our mail, since many statements cannot be sent to P.O. boxes and there is no one in our family here to take care of it for us.  We used to get it forwarded to a family friend’s place, but that’s such a hassle to do for just a month or two.

Now that I’m leaving the country, my mom is left to figure out what to do with the house (and her life) again.  When I was studying abroad in England, she rented it out and moved back to China with my dad.  Should she do that again or stick around to try to pursue a career in aerospace, as she’s dreamed of doing?  Strangely enough, my life is what gives her some stability – whenever I’m around, she can stay at home and do various types of work happily.  Yet, once I leave, she needs to figure what her life is about, sans moi.

All of this made me think of the fragmented time I spent with my parents growing up and how multiple moves affected my sense of independence.  It’s no wonder I did become so independent, what with one parent or the other often away and our family hardly ever staying in one place long enough to make lasting friends.  As I grew older, it became my time to be away from home and friends on my own – to swim camps, to boot camps, to a swim competition in Australia, and the frequent visits to my relatives in China.  Another factor contributing to my independence was early on: I didn’t even meet my parents until I was three and a half (my dad left six months before I was born and my mom left six months after I was born, so I hardly remembered her).

In the early days, my parents were busy finishing up their graduate degrees at Penn State – a Master’s for my mother and a Doctorate for my father.  To support us, they had to be research assistants and my dad worked as a teaching assistant as well.  From there, it was off to Kansas, where my dad worked for the government and my mom found a random job with Payless Shoes.  I would come home to an empty house and do homework or play by myself.  I think that’s when my desire for a sibling or pet began to grow, as I spent many quiet afternoons alone in the house, waiting for my mom to get home from work.  I had one or two good friends, but mostly kept to myself.  I enjoyed playing around during recess, but I rarely mixed home life with school life.

Three years later I was sent back to China for a year to reacquaint myself with the culture and language.  It was a blissful time of no homework, no worries, since I was so far behind in all the subjects – except for English, where I was so far ahead – that I was kind of just a dead weight in class.  Nevertheless, the kids loved me because this little 3rd grader was stronger than the 6th graders, and faster than anyone in school.  I didn’t really contact my parents much during that year and when I returned to the US, I had no viable way of staying in touch with my friends from that school.

When we moved to Missouri, my dad had been working there for awhile.  He had secured a position with a company that kept him traveling as he and my mom started their own company, so my mom went back to China for two or three years to work on that.  The internet had just gone public and I was immersed in the world of HTML, making a variety of websites that I have since forgotten about.  I was also an extreme bookworm, preferring to spend time poring over novels to that of physical company.  At school, I was a social butterfly, known by everyone but not close to many.

By the time we made the move to New York, I was in the smack middle of my middle school years.  Afraid that I would get gaps in my knowledge if I took the honors track for math and science, my counselor advised me to follow the normal track and then test out of it after 8th grade.  The classes, unfortunately, were far too easy and filled with immature peers who I did not connect with.  My close set of friends didn’t have many classes with me, since they were all on the honors track.  After finishing middle school, I found that this test that my counselor talked about did not exist.  I was stuck.  Meanwhile, my mom busied herself with the stock market as my dad worked hard at his new Vice President position, often going on business trips.

During my freshman year of high school, I took a math class that was nearly a joke for me – algebra.  I aced nearly all of the tests and quizzes and got a disappointing 99 on my final.  Frustrated with the lack of challenge, my mom had me talk to my teacher to find out what I would need to know for the next level of math.  I spent that nextsummer learning geometry with my mother, meticulously practicing, learning, and writing out homework.  At the beginning of my sophomore year, we took all the paperwork to the principal and my new counselor to show them that I had mastered the material.  It was agreed that I should be allowed to learn trig at that point, however, I still had to attend geometry class.  (Apparently a New York State law that I needed to spend a certain number of hours in the classroom – utterly useless.)  So, I took two math classes simultaneously that year (along with either other classes, ensuring I never had a lunch period).  Though I finally caught up academically, socially it was a bit too late – the honors track students had already formed their cliques.  And I was not a part of them.

My dad had moved to Texas when his company moved headquarters and waited there for us to move there to join him sometime in the future.  Instead, a headhunter found him and convinced him to take a new position as VP over in a Californian company.  So, with just two weeks notice in the summer following my sophomore year, we packed up and moved across the nation.  Being that it was summer, not many people knew what had happened to me and why I left.  Once again I had been the social butterfly, knowing everyone in my grade, but hardly close to any of them.  Only my closest group of friends saw me off and the rest of the school I didn’t know well enough to call up to inform.

I started life anew in California as a junior.  With just two years of high school left and a lot of focus on college prep work, I made friends only with people in my classes, on my swim team, and in my JROTC unit.  This was the most present my parents had ever been, but I was far too busy with schoolwork, SAT prep, ROTC training, swim practice, and meets to really spend time with them.  For the last blissful weeks of high school, I lived it up driving around with my friends and enjoying life after APs and before college.

Then came UCLA, where I was so busy with being a college student that I only went home when I needed to do laundry.  When I was about to start my second year, my dad moved back to China to work and has been there ever since.  My third year of college I went abroad and by the time I returned, my mom had joined my dad in China.  I spent my fourth year and extra quarter on my own in this country before my mom came back to join me until I found a job.  Now I’ll be off to Singapore and by the time I get back, who knows how things will be.

So you see, much of my life was spent with my parents traveling around or busy at work.  I had a lot of time to myself in the afternoons when I came back from school and spent many years away from them.  Even when we are together, we all are busy with our own obligations, so I don’t just hang out with them much.  In fact, the only true bonding we get is the periodic family outings we go on – road trips my dad concocts to all kinds of places.  It’s been an int
eresting lifestyle and it just amuses me that in a week, our family will once again be split amongst three different countries.  I do love being independent and traveling a lot, but eventually I’d like to settle somewhere long-term to have as a home base.

Thoughtful friends make my heart sing

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , ,

You know when you think it’s just another meet-up with your friend and then BAM you arrive and it’s a surprise party for you?  Well if you haven’t experienced this, it’s just about the coolest thing ever.  If you have, then you know the utter shock and amazement that washes over you when it dawns on you what is happening.  And yes, I am writing about this because it happened to me today (well, I guess technically yesterday now).

February 24th was cut out to be a special day.  I thought it was because it was my boyfriend’s birthday.  I thought it was because it’s Mardi Gras.  But more than that, it turned out to be a special day for me!  After spending as much time as I could with Panda this afternoon, I had a few hours to kill before I was scheduled to meet up with my friend “Shadow” for dinner.  I decided to head over to the student store after parking my car, which turned out to be a fortunate decision – I ended up running into an old friend and an alum from my co-ed business fraternity, AKPsi.  It was great to catch up and I was happy that I didn’t end up bored out of my mind for three hours.

Eventually I headed back to the residential halls to get ready to meet up with Shadow, but since I was early, I decided to drop by and say hi to some old friends.  They weren’t in, but luckily, I happened to see them in the window of one of the eateries on campus.  As if that wasn’t enough excitement for a day, I also ran into another friend there!  We all made some plans to meet up later this week before I fly out on Sunday.  Eventually, it came time to head down to the restaurant that Shadow and I were going to eat at.

As she and I walked to the car, I babbled about how I didn’t want to walk down so I’d drive the car and try to get a metered spot in front.  Then we could get our food and park somewhere else to eat in the car.  She calmly agreed to this silly plan and we drove down, coming across a 30-minute spot that had 30 more minutes until they stopped checking meters.  Perfect.  I even babbled out loud about how I could keep the spot now, even though we shouldn’t need it since our food shouldn’t take that long.  Well, I didn’t realize just how fortunate that was!  It freed me up to stay happily put at the restaurant once we did arrive and she hurriedly pushed open the door to reveal three other friends, waiting there for us!

I was completely oblivious this whole time, haha, which worked out just as it needed to.  It was so amazing to see those lovely faces that I haven’t gotten to see in months!  Gosh, I am still thrilled about it now, hours later and even as exhaustion kicks in.  Additionally, Shadow got me this amazing gift baggie with UCLA gear to remind me of my alma mater, some candy for my sweet tooth, and even some gum, since it’s banned in Singapore.  I’m not sure I’m allowed to bring it in, but it’s cute.

A few years back, Katana also did something similar for me, arranging a surprise birthday party.  Sometimes I can’t believe I actually thought I was going to her house for lunch with her parents!  Haha, I can be so gullible when it comes to social gatherings.  Instead of a warm family gathering, I walked into their hosue and found a dining room overflowing with gifts and food, and most importantly, good company!  What a special day that was.

The point of all this is just to express how grateful I am to have friends like this.  Those who take the time and care to arrange these get-togethers and lure me to them.  I feel so blessed that they would go to that trouble and I really wish I was better at these things.  I am a hugely sentimental person and I appreciate thoughtful gifts so much more than anything of great value.  That is why these things speak so much to me – it takes careful thought to plan and execute them!  That sort of effort means so much more to me than anything that can be bought.

I want to explore what I am good at and find a creative way to turn that into something that I can do for my friends, in turn.  I remember when I used to be the picture-taker, Katana used to be the writer, and Elle used to be the CD-maker in our little trio.  We each had our own niche and that is how we shared with each other.  I want to do something special akin to the whole party-throwing thing, like make an artful collage or mini photo album or scrapbook.  Something that will be signature “me.”  At the same time, these little meaningful gatherings are a classic and I’d really like to do them.

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

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , ,

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!


laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s not very often I get to meet up with my best friends.  In fact, we get around to it about once a year.  Tonight we finally managed to get together for a dinner (and dragged Gimp, Katana’s ex’s best friend, out with us).  Ah good times as we fell back into the old routine: the three deadly Asians threatening the attention-loving ginger.  See, back in high school, Katana, Elle, and I were quite the force to reckoned with.  It’s quite dangerous to spend time with the three of us if you’re a sensitive soul.  So, of course, we abuse those who can take it.  And Gimpy’s a big boy who can take a bit of a beating.

Elle and I shared a meal called the Love Boat.  Lovely, isn’t it?  😉

It was a fabulous time as we stole from each other’s plates, argued about who was going to pay (we volunteered Gimp), and stuffed ourselves full of Japanese food from Kabuki.  The Love Boat that Elle and I shared had an assortment of choices ranging from California rolls to shrimp and vegetable tempura and it came in that HUGE wooden boat pictured above.  I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever ordered.  It was also nice to get out and enjoy the company of old friends since I’ve mostly been staying at home since I finished up at UCLA last month.  Now Katana’s back to Kansas, Elle’s returning to UCLA, and Gimp is off to his job in Texas.  Meanwhile, I’m at home looking for a job and trying to convince my parents that this business venture in Singapore is worth a shot…

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