Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Small, small world

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

It’s funny how interconnected we can be.  Lately I have come across many situations that make me shake my head at how small the world can be at times (or maybe it’s just LA).  The most prominent example is when I commented on a friend and coworker’s Facebook about a post he put up, then later saw that the next person to comment was one of the girls who used to live in my house!  The house that we have owned for about 10 years now…  At work the next day, I had to ask my coworker how he knew this girl and (dun dun dun…) she’s his cousin!  Wow.  Of all the coincidences in this universe, that is one I didn’t see coming.  So as it turns out, my coworker had been in my house before, many many years ago.

Other such situations include a trip to Wurstküche in downtown LA, where I got into line right behind a fellow 2008 UCLA orientation counselor!  Then, later on as I was eating, I looked up to find one of my pledge bros from AKPsi sitting at another table.  Imagine that.  And many months ago, one of the engineers at work and one of the operations girls were chatting because they found they had both lived in Michigan.  When the guy mentioned that he swam, she was interested because she had worked on the coaching staff or been an assistant.  Further probing revealed that she had actually been there working with the swim team that he was on during the time that he would have been on the team!  And then they both end up at the same (very small) company out in California?!

In addition, that same girl recently found out that her former roommate bartended with the girlfriend of one of our sales guys.  Of all the bars in LA and all the roommates and girlfriends these people could have had…  Seriously, what’s up with all this interconnectedness?  I guess even a large city like Los Angeles can quickly become small after a couple years of building relationships and connections.  Eventually you’re no more than a 2nd degree contact to anyone!

Not your average

laelene Posted in relationships,Tags: , ,

Well, Panda and I have been going through some tough times so I wanted to take some time to celebrate what makes our relationship beautiful.  We’re not your average couple…  He is not afraid of domestic work and I am not afraid of manual labor (or bugs :-P).  I do not expect him to be the bread winner and he does not expect me to raise the kids mostly on my own.  We are not afraid to show emotions to each other and cry.  We are also completely comfortable with each other’s bodily functions, though we may tease each other about them at times.  I don’t see a reason to conform to society’s standards and censor myself with him.

Then again, I guess a lot of that is sort of the traditional sexist type of relationship.  Many modern relationships are not restricted quite like that, but still I find myself grateful for what we have when I hear about others’ views.  When the guys at work talk about their girlfriends/wives spending $400 on a purse, I gawk like they’re all insane (which they are).  I can’t fathom ever spending that kind of money on a purse, or shoes, or clothes.  Then there’s the engagement ring of $10k+.  What?!  At first the ones I liked were a few hundred.  Then I started to look at nicer ones in the $2000-5000 range and that’s where I’m at.  Why spend more?  It’s a waste.  Panda will never have to worry about saving up crazy amounts of money so I can spend it all away.

Another thing that struck me was when the guys were talking about going to events without their significant other and being able to enjoy themselves more that way.  I can’t think of a single event I don’t want Panda to come with me to.  In fact, many a time I’ve opted out because he didn’t want to come or was unable to.  The first thing I think about is how much fun I’d have if he could come.  Not how much fun I could have if he didn’t come.  That concept was foreign to me and the events I do go to alone, I am missing Panda the entire time.  Of course, I still do what I can to enjoy myself, but it would be infinitely better with him there to share the experience.

We are also perfectly honest with each other.  Cheating, abusing, breaking up – these are all things we’ve discussed before.  We will do everything in our powers to prevent these atrocities, but we recognize we’re human, we’re not perfect, and it’s possible it could happen.  Our open line of communication might sometimes be too open and feelings get hurt, people get offended.  Nevertheless, we accept what is the truth and work with it.  Things aren’t always peachy, but we aren’t giving up.

Perhaps the problem is actually that our type of relationship is NOT the standard.  I sure think it would help lower the divorce rate since you either wouldn’t get married in the first place, or work through your problems and stay together for it.  People can do with a lot more trying and a lot less giving up.

Happy Birthday

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

Today is Panda’s birthday!  On Sunday, he told me that it was his Chinese birthday, so I joked that he got a year younger in three days (because by the traditional Chinese measure, you’re 1 year old when you’re born, so he was technically 23, then turned 22 today).  🙂  Isn’t that a fun way of looking at things?

He’s a hard one to get things for, so I was worried for awhile, but I managed to conjure up a few small items and make them into a scavenger hunt of sorts.  That way, it’s a fun journey of discovery too!  It was simple and practical, which is exactly what works for us.  No need for fancy bells and whistles.  All in all a fabulous day.  😀

More pups!

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , ,

Right after I wrote about the doggies at the office yesterday, of course two new ones had to come in today! So of course, I can’t help but add them to the mix:

Sophie, a feisty little one!

Then came Bumblebee from upstairs, the most complacent one of all.

He kept making rounds around the office and occasionally stirring up trouble with Sophie, who wasn't happy he was there.

A rejuvenating experience

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The past week has been really hard on me, as the pressure to get a job grew and my parents and I had a tiff over my sleeping pattern and job search, among other things.  So, it was an absolute blessing that Opportunity Green was holding a retreat over the weekend.  One of the Board Members owns Casa Barranca, a fabulous estate out in Ojai.  People who had contributed to the Opportunity Green Conference back in November were invited to either stay the weekend or swing by on Saturday or Sunday to hang out.  Tucked in the hills of Ventura County, in a gorgeously maintained house from the early 1900s, I got to spend my weekend relaxing, enjoying nature, and chatting with some really amazing people.

pasta, salad, and schnitzel for dinner

Delicious potluck to start off the weekend.

Friday night I arrived thinking I was late for dinner, but it turns out the days drag out so peacefully and slowly there that dinner hadn’t even been thought of yet.  I hung around the kitchen, talking to some of the people I hadn’t really gotten to know prior to the conference – we were all so busy, after all!  It was already completely dark outside when I pulled up around 6:30, so it felt like 11 when we eventually got around to preparing the food.  I think it was more like 7:30-8.  But that’s the thing about being far away from the city and its lights and noise; time stretches itself to its very limits and you discover how much can be done in just a few minutes, a few hours.  There’s a serenity about Casa Barranca that relaxes you and lets you forget that you have an inbox full of e-mails or that your favorite TV show is on.  In fact, there isn’t a television in the entire place, which I found to be one of the best choices they could have made.

yoga studio at casa barranca, detached from main house

That yoga studio was to die for!

The house itself is absolutely lovely and you should definitely check out the virtual tour on the Casa Barranca website.  Besides that, there are a bunch of little bungalows or “teahouses” sitting around the property and small cabins as well.  You can easily fit 30-40 people without ever feeling overcrowded.  When I got a chance to first see the grounds during the day, it was even better than I imagined.  The yoga studio sits perched at the top of a hill overlooking part of the valley below.  There’s no better location to get in touch with your inner spirit and truly experience some Zen.  Between that and the house lies a little orchard, teeming with citrus trees of all sorts!  Since part of the grounds is an organic winery, I think it’s safe to assume those fruits were organic too.  I meant to pick one to try, but was so distracted by the beauty that I forgot to.  There’s also a chlorine-free pool and hot tub, small field to frolic in, a koi pond, a hammock, and so many great vantage points!

casa barranca wine tasting & gallery

A cute little shop in the middle of town!

The town is also a delight, with a main street that is lined up with little shops.  The Casa Barranca tasting room is right next to the ice cream shop (and thank goodness, because I got hungry pretty quickly and needed something to fill me!).  I felt slightly out of my comfort zone in their downtown, which didn’t have lights illuminating every inch of street.  When I was directed to the nearest ATM, I turned around too early because the lights stopped.  It seems that their town is so safe and quiet that they don’t need lights all over the place.  It was strange to be back in that type of place again, after years in the city.  At night when I went to sleep, I was struck by how absolutely silent it was out there.  It was completely dark as well, and laying there was such a tranquil experience.  The rest of the people had long since called it a day and were no doubt happily dreaming away in their respective beds.  I’m glad I had a roommate to share the space with, otherwise everything might have seemed too still.  But with another person in the room, I fell asleep easily as a long day caught up with me.

cool (and difficult) yoga pose

Can you believe it was only her first time teaching? She did a fantastic job and should totally be a yogi.

I slept in until 10:30 on Saturday, but was still able to enjoy a full day, complete with yoga, sitting out in the sun, chatting in front of the fireplace, going down into town to watch the Casa Barranca wine tasting (mentioned above), playing Spoons and BS, lots of opportunities to experiment with the ISO settings on my camera, an intense game of Jenga, and some hot tubbing.  It was really nice for the day to go on forever, since it allowed me to have a multitude of quality conversations with some remarkable people.  We talked about all kinds of random things, from what they do to what I want to do to what drives us and how we came to get involved with Opportunity Green.  In the mix was also random talk about crazy cat ladies and women who obsess over fake babies.  Sharing some of my ideas really helped me think about what it is I want from life and the like.

people walking along a hiking trail

We came across some great vantage points and learned to be grateful for every bit of shade we got.

On the final day, I got up at 9:30 when I was told we were leaving for the hike.  About a dozen of us headed out along the trail, making our way up the path in the morning sun.  After awhile, those of us with long sleeves began to regret the decision and the few who brought water found themselves sharing with the group.  We met some wonderful people along the way and got to play a bit with their adorable dogs!  Two of the people staying at the retreat had brought their dogs, one of which came along for our hike (even though she’s 13!).  The trip was absolutely worth the huffing and beads of sweat that began to form, as we were rewarded with views of so much greenery it was hard to imagine life back in the city.  It was a great way to spend the morning before heading out in the afternoon.  Though physically I was tired from more physical exertion than I had done in months, it was a great feeling and my spirit was lifted after being there.

And for more pictures of the weekend… I’m quite proud that some came out looking nearly like a DSLR took them, or so I think!

standing at the end of diving board looking down into pool

I went to have some fun on the springy surface.

landing after a short jump on the diving board

They tried to get a shot of me in the air, but the timing just wasn’t right. I had a blast anyway!

decorations inside yoga studio

Artistic pieces sit by the doors that open out to the view over the hillside.

view from yoga studio, looking out over hills and valley

The view that we saw as we did yoga in the studio.

buddha statue sitting outside yoga studio

The statue that sits to the left of the yoga studio entrance.

fire pit with log seats

The fire pit situated right outside the yoga studio doors.

a sitting log full of holes

I wonder if the tree was shot at or got infected with bugs?

a side path leading up to the house

This pathway led up to one end of the house, where the kitchen is located.

orchard full of orange, lemon, and lime trees

Looking the other way down the path, you see more fruits that you could possibly eat!

lone pomegranate on tree

Hidden amongst the green, orange, and yellow is this little gem, just barely clinging on.

sunburst-looking green plant

These plants grew in a patch just outside the kitchen.

bird of paradise flower

I love the colors of the Bird of Paradise.

plant with spider-like legs

It kind of looks like those 8-prong head massagers.

closeup of orange

Take a look at that freshness!

closeup of lemon with little white flower visible

There’s something really fun about the dimpled texture of citrus fruits.

purple iris flower

What a beautiful shade of purple! Absolutely gorgeous.

a dog laying on brick area

Jack, one of the dogs with us for the weekend.

a dog laying on brick

Jazzy, the other dog hanging out with us.

outdoor bungalow/teahouses for guests to stay in

One of the bungalows/teahouses scattered around the property.

looking inside bungalow/teahouse to see bed and fan

Inside each were two single beds, a little desk, a fan, and heater.

hammock overlooking view of mountains in distance

A hammock was put at the edge of the hill, with a great view of the land below.

sun setting through haze

It was a hazy day and the sun began to sink slowly.

setting sun casting hills in red

It soon became a brilliantly beautiful sunset. I love the details of the rocks in the distance.

festive display in window of casa barranca tasting room

It was so cozy, warm, and welcoming.

people getting ready to taste some wines

Everyone squeezed in to the bar for their share of the wine being sampled.

line of wine bottles in a row for display

Many of these were tasted that night, as Casa Barranca generously shared their products.

square coasters made from colored paper

Check out these awesome coasters recycling paper into a great new use! I think I remember reading they were from Vietman or Thailand or something.

funky-shaped leaves

Along the trail path were these funky leaves, complete with curling tendrils.

fence made of wood pieces

The kind of fence you used to hand make with an axe and nails.

a house perched on top of a hill with great views

Now that house is situated in a place with views in nearly every angle!

green metal crane sculpture in alcove along trail

A random sculpture tucked away along the trail.

cute white half-Chihuahua

Such a pretty little puppy!

muddy paw print on black leggings

I was trying to capture how there was a perfect little paw print on her leggings, but the angle isn’t quite right.

hill after hill in the distance

So many layers of hills!

a clearing area on the hill, perfect for sheep

We seriously expected some sheep to be grazing here. I thought we were continuing over this hill, but thankfully we cut down the mountain before then.

view that shows part of the town of ojai

You can see part of downtown Ojai now.

tall pines lining either side of a driveway

Now that’s an imposing wall to have for your driveway.

large pile of avocados

Back inside and we are made some fresh guacamole! I learned that putting bananas and avocados together makes them ripen faster.

fresh-made bowl of guacamole

There’s nothing quite like freshly-made, is there?

lounge chairs on rooftop area

There was this cool rooftop patio complete with lounge chairs for resting in!

view of backyard from rooftop

The view of part of the backyard from the rooftop.

outdoor room with screens

You can sleep here and feel like you’re outdoors without the bugs!

wine grapes in winter

Lines of vines of wine grapes! That’s just too fun to say.

Jealous much?  😉

Asian to American generational gaps

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

Things have been very different for each generation of my family, especially on the marriage front.  I thought it’d be interesting to outline how it has changed from thoroughly Chinese and traditional to (eventually) entirely American and modern.  I’m counting from my great-grandparents’ generation through to my future children’s (and possibly even my grandchildren’s).  I guess five-six generations is what it takes to make the ultimate transition in terms of how the family will progress.

Starting off with my great-grandparents back in Communist China in the early years of last century, marriage was something that your elders decided.  Romantic love wasn’t really a familiar concept and whether you liked it or not, your future spouse was chosen for you by your parents.  In a way, being match-made was easier, since you didn’t have to find someone for yourself.  Plus, with the wisdom of their years, parents would generally match you up pretty well according to personality and wealth.  Think eHarmony, except substitute wealth for education in that case.

So one day your parents would strike a deal with his or her parents and a fortuitous date would be set.  Nothing with 4s and preferably with 8s.  You’d probably get really curious and nervous leading up to the wedding, wondering what your partner would be like, look like, act like.  Then the day would come and you would first lay eyes on this mysterious person you were destined to spend the rest of your life with.  After all the ceremonious duties were done, you’d spend your first night together, getting to know each other.  Over the years you would grow to love each other, or at least tolerate each other.  And you would propagate and continue the cycle for your children too.

Then came my grandparents’ generation, where things were starting to get a little less traditional.  Though your parents still chose your spouse, the two of you were allowed to meet before getting married and get to know each other a little.  Call it a supervised courtship of sorts.  As your parents did, you learn to love each other and build a life together.  By the time your offspring grow of age, rules have gotten lax and you let your children decide from a number of suitors you present to them.  With each, they get to know each other and court a bit before deciding if they like each other enough to commit their lives to each other.  The pressure of making the right choice started to become an issue, with this generation having the power to decide their own fates (within certain choices presented to them).  Now the concept of romantic love began to spread as young couples tried to figure out if they could love this person for the remainder of their years.

For my parents in particular, my maternal grandmother heard of my dad through the wife of a professor at the local university, which is where my parents both went to school.  My maternal grandfather was also a professor at the school and his professor buddy had my dad as a student.  Through the women talking, my grandmother learned that this young man was the professor’s star student and first in his class.  My parents were introduced to each other and my grandfather approved without ever meeting the man.  All he had to know was that he was a hard worker and an excellent student.  My grandmother, on the other hand, wanted to meet and get to know this potential suitor.  As the legend goes, she sat him down for an interview (probably mostly asking about academics and his professional future) and liked him as well.  My mom decided that of the guys she’d been introduced to, she liked this one the most, and so they were married.  Or something like that.

(More on my parents’ (and my) story in this future post.)

As for my generation, we’d moved to the US when I was young and I was brought up in a very Asian-American household.  I’d say my split was probably 60% Chinese, 40% American in my younger years, and now it has transitioned to 70% American, 30% Chinese.  It gives you a rough estimate anyway.  So for me, choosing a future spouse is mostly up to me, though my mom has certainly tried to introduce me to the sons of her friends and former classmates.  I get to pick him, but I still seek my parents’ approval and blessing.  If they don’t like him, I don’t know if I could go through with it.  Thankfully, they seemed to have liked Panda plenty at their first meeting.  🙂  Also, at this point, love is very much an issue and the real thing driving my motivation.  Whereas before people learned to love, now I am looking for love.  Completely different priorities!

I anticipate that my children’s generation will do whatever they want without much, if any, say from me.  They’ll probably go chasing after their own fantasies and desires with little regard for my wishes.  But then again, I’d probably let them do their own thing and not try to interfere.  As for the generation after that, well, who knows how the world will be!  Maybe having a family will be so overrated that they chose not to procreate.  It certainly seems like more and more people I know are choosing to delay a family or throw that concept out entirely.  What’s important to us has shifted beyond recognition and I’m sure my great-grandparents would be utterly confused at the state of the world today.

And so, in five generations we went from no choice to complete choice.  In six we can go to no children, no seventh generation!  Yikes!  But hey, perhaps family values will make a comeback and the opposite will happen.  You never know.

Blogosphere, really?

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , ,

Sooo I’ve been trying REALLY hard to find blogs to follow, but something is wrong.  The blogosphere is not quite as I had hoped.  I recently joined 20 Something Bloggers after this sudden motivation to start connecting with other blogs.  So far I’ve been keeping a low profile with this blog, with just about 15-25 unique visitors a day.  I haven’t told many of my friends about this blog (except recently, when I was publicizing the whole job competition thing), I don’t really follow personal blogs (I seem to lean towards news and other informative ones), and I haven’t really made any blog friends (except for some loose acquaintances, but pretty much the “blog friends” I have I knew in real life first).

I’ve come across a few decent ones that I may or may not follow long-term, but nothing that draws me by the belt loops and makes me want to them like a faithful puppy.  Is there something wrong with me?  Do I just not connect with 20-something bloggers as well as I’d hope?  Perhaps I should be looking elsewhere.  I’ve met some really nice gals so far and started to read their blogs, but it seems that I only obsess about things I find on ABC7, like 20/20, and CBS, like 60 Minutes.  Once I get into those, I stay up all night reading.  Blogs?  Not so much.  Perhaps my standards are too news-focused in this blog search.  Perhaps I need to learn to read less educational and informative in an immediate way.  Perhaps I need to learn to connect with my peers a little better.

I don’t really know what it is, but it is somewhat frustrating to read blog after blog only to find much of the same.  Drinking, partying, fashion, drama, sex, complaining, and cursing.  None of which I’m interested in.  Is that what my generation is all about?  Or there’s a blogger who writes about entrepreneurship, which is great, but his pompous tone is just too annoying for me to read regularly.  Plus it seems everything for him comes back to sex and materialism, neither of which I want to hear about.  In fact, I ended up going from one girl’s site to the blog of this lady, the Pioneer Woman, as she calls herself.  Her entries were far more interesting to me than all the opinionated ones of those my age.  Then again, I always had a soft spot for the countryside, snow, animals, and farms (or ranches I guess are close enough).

I know there are plenty of great blogs out there that I would love to read!  Now where are they?  I need some help navigating the blogosphere.  Having been a loner for this long, I don’t know what to do with myself and there’s no instruction manual for me to turn to!  Then there’s also the problem of RSS feeds… I’m the “send me an e-mail when you post” type of person, but most people just have standard RSS feeds, which means I’ve been adding them to the Google Reader that I don’t use.  Great.  Now I need to get used to yet another thing to check on a consistent basis!  Can the reader perhaps e-mail me a daily summary?  Hmm…

The relationship

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

I realized that I don’t speak much of Panda except mentioning him here and there.  But in terms of our relationship, I haven’t delved much into it.  I thought I’d write more about how our relationship developed, but it’s one of those things that’s nice to just do and not have to reflect on.  So, to meet my expectation in setting up this blog that I would at least cover our relationship somewhat, here are some thoughts…

It’s been a year and a half since we met and things have changed tremendously.  We managed to make things work around busy schedules and even a couple of months apart.  I was a little nervous coming back from Singapore, wondering how things might have changed after so long of only interacting virtually.  Thankfully, we quickly eased back into each other’s lives and had a painless transition.  He taught me to use coupons and pay attention to the price of food I buy and I taught him that life should just be enjoyed sometimes.  We’ve built a rhythm and style of interaction that only we share, with plenty of inside jokes to be remembered.  We’ve shared laughs and cries and hugs and kisses and plenty of food as well.

It’s hard to imagine a life without him and I certainly don’t plan on it.  I can tell him every little thing and I often admire just how cute he is.  He’s got the gentlest soul and so much heart that it touches me deeply.  He’s done a lot of behind the scenes things to take care of me and is usually cleaning up after me.  I’m not a very neat person.  I am organized in my own messy way.  We’ve learned to compromise on some things, change for others, and still many have to be worked out.  We developed a pattern for many of the things we do and we’ve created so many memories already.  We’ve made a variety of loose plans for the future, both for ourselves and for us as a couple.

Of course, things are not perfect and he hasn’t had much experience with what high maintenance a girl’s emotions can be.  The way I interpret things is not something he can think of naturally, so it’s a challenge.  I have high standards and I let him know exactly when I am not pleased with him.  He always cares so much and wants to do right by me, but often just doesn’t know how.  I have been extremely demanding at times, not giving him a break.  But the good thing is, we almost always want to talk it out and don’t just stop speaking to each other.  And with a lot of back and forth, I think we both learn a lot in the process.

So all in all it’s been a great ride and I’m excited for the years ahead.  And now that I’ve covered the relationship, I probably won’t really talk about it again.  It’s probably the only thing that I like to keep private.  🙂

Family time

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

I got a chance to spend some quality time with my dad today, showing him some of things I did and saw while I was in Southeast Asia and even going shopping with him.  We’re a family of few words and often it is difficult for me to small talk because that’s not what we do.  So today, I used the pictures I take as a medium for sharing my recent life experiences, mostly in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

It was nice to tell my dad what I had been up to and hear from him the projects he’s been working on.  Over the years, we haven’t shared much.  Usually he’d just ask me about how classes were going and discuss career stuff.  And I only ever went to him if I needed some thoughts on jobs or something along those professional lines.  We talk business, and then we stop talking.  Because of that, I know just the basics of what’s he’s up to – working in China as VP of an environmental consulting firm.

Today, however, there was a bit more of an exchange.  We’re awkward with each other when it comes to conversation because we’ve spent 20 years not talking much.  Not every family functions the same way and a big part of my nuclear family is the individualism we have.  I do my own thing in my own room and my parents do their own thing in their own spaces.  They only come to my room occasionally to find me if it’s time to eat or wake up and I haven’t gone downstairs.  Sometimes I feel the pressure to try to be more like a normal family and interact more, but who’s to say that’s better?

I never understood the people who talk to their parents on a daily basis.  It was always a mystery to me what they had to talk about.  Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned that it’s really nothing.  They talk about absolutely nothing, really.  Boring things like the weather and meals and unimportant general statements here and there.  Recounts of days with some thoughts thrown in.  Yet that is exactly what makes it so nice.  They’re not talking to really learn anything most of the time; they’re talking just to converse with each other, share with each other.

That’s what I found today.  I learned a lot of random things that won’t matter in the long run, like my aunt is looking for skincare gift packages.  He, in turn, learned a lot of random mundane things too, like how I think sting rays would be great pets.  In a few weeks, I bet we won’t even remember this stuff, but it’ll have created a deeper sense of connection that can last.  It seems that those families that are constantly in contact can be close just because they exchange so much with each other over the years.

I guess there doesn’t always have to be a lucid point to each interaction.  I’ve never liked pointless conversation, at least not via a device (hence why phone calls rarely last over 2 minutes).  Unfortunately, most of the time that’s the only way to connect with my parents.  Another reason why I just don’t talk to them.  It’s too much effort, it’s too awkward, it’s completely pointless.  Now I’m seeing that it may not be – not entirely, anyway.

When time stands still

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Just like old times, taking self-portraits in the car.

Just like old times, taking self-portraits in the car.

I got a chance to hang out with Katana yesterday and it never ceases to amaze me how each time we see each other, I don’t feel like she’s been gone for that long.  The last time I saw her was sometime during Christmas break a good nine months ago, but it’s easy for us to fall right back into an old pattern, an old routine.  I guess this is kind of how I live my life, since the same thing happens when my parents and I are reunited, and last month when I finally came back to LA and saw Panda again.  In each case, the time we spent apart doesn’t seem so long because of the ease in which we slip back into familiar territory.  Sure, a lot has changed, but fundamentally, we’re still the same.

It’s weird to think about Katana and Elle, who were the two best friends I had from my high school years at Valencia.  Ever since Katana and I graduated, with her going off to VMI, then NMMI, and I going off to UCLA, the three of us have only gotten to hang out sporadically, whenever it happened to work out.  Usually that meant about once or twice a year, particularly the over the holidays and/or during another one of our seasonal breaks.  And though interactions were few and far between, we were still the Asian girls who stood out and didn’t quite fit into the mould of what people expected girls, especially Asian girls, to be.  I guess that’s what ties us together in the end – this common way of life that leads us from “normal” girl activities to things like JROTC, where we met, or to be particularly outspoken about some feminist beliefs.

Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve known these two ladies for nearly 7 years now!  I haven’t ever known and stayed in contact with someone for that long.  Being that I moved every 3-4 years, that’s not too surprising.  For the first time in my life though, I’m going back to old friends again and again.  They are no longer memories to be stored away in a compartment labeled based on what city I knew them from.  Now they are a consistent prescense in my life, however fleeting that may be.  So I guess this is shocking to me because I don’t know what it’s like to have lifelong friends.  Do they all fare so well seeing each other so infrequently?  No matter where we are, whether it’s spread across three states in the US (like we are now), or spread across countries (as we’ve often been), I don’t need to see or even talk to these girls to know they will be there.  It’s kind of like family.

A picture is also like a moment frozen in time...  photo credit: _Mike_Howard_ on flickr

A picture is also like a moment frozen in time... photo credit: _Mike_Howard_ on flickr

Speaking of family, mine is also a very scattered one, with me seeing my relatives something like seven times over my lifetime and seeing my parents twice a year on average.  And though we’ve all grown a lot these two decades, I still think of my parents as 35-year-olds and honestly, only when I look closely do I realize they’re not anymore.  But in my head, there’s a semi-frozen image of my family members – my cousins are still budding young adults, my parents quite young, and my grandparents still sprightly.  Sure, we’ve added a few new members since then, but they kind of just get tacked on without the others gaining much in age.  I don’t know how it works in my mind, but that’s how I recall my closest kin.  Every time I see them again, even after four years away and so much that happened in between, I remember a lot of my childhood and the main processes remain unchanged.  I still get spoiled and stay with the same people and generally do and eat the same things.

Even for my parents, the few weeks I see them out of the year doesn’t seem so odd because those memories last me a long time.  I’ve got so much other stuff going on while I’m on my own that just touching base with them semi-annually is plenty to work from.  It does get lonely in the house sometimes when I’m the only one, but I’m used to solitude.  That was much like how our household functions anyway.  Besides, at my age, it’s time to be moving out and doing things on my own.  Much as I adore my house, Valencia is not really the place to jump start a career.  I’d rather be in Westwood or Santa Monica, or somewhere more central to the hubbub of LA.

Finally, the day that I came back after months away in Singapore, I was nervous to see Panda again.  It was our first time being apart since things really got started and it was certainly not a short period of time to cope with.  Even now I wonder how we managed, because not seeing him for a day can make me antsy.  I was glad that we fell pretty quickly back into a comfortable rhythm, working out our schedules around challenges, as we’ve always done.  I had been afraid that it would take some time to warm up again and that we may almost be like strangers for a bit, but that didn’t last very long.  Once again, time altered its flow for me (well, at least to my perception it did) and it was like a fraction of the time had actually passed.  I guess that’s what happens with people you care about.  Katana said it best: we have changed enough to have things to talk about, but haven’t changed so much that we don’t connect anymore.

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