48. cute cafe/im a stalker/never growing up

January 26, 2011 § 10 Comments

my little booth!where the magic happensview from insidei turned on my total creeper status and took this picture. i wonder how many people are in there2-inch thick butter/honey/syrup/sugar/whippedcream toast. not recommended if you’re trying to wean yourself off of sugar. came at a different day – waffles with fruits and ice cream. looks delish (there was great lighting that day) but the taste buds were disappointed.bathroom door.


im going a little stir crazy here because:

1. i havent been exercising bc i got this acne treatment and i dont want my face to fall off

2. ive been in the same location for almost 5 months now…which means its getting too familiar and im itching for some change. [see this is my problem…i never really ‘ground’ myself anywhere because im always looking to move or do something else]

3. this has nothing to do with being stir crazy  but did you know that our generation is known as the Peter Pan generation?!?!?  As in, we’re taking longer than ever to cross the five milestones into adulthood.  five milestones being (in no particular order):

  1. get educated (does that mean theres an ‘end’ to being educated? but i love school :(  )
  2. leave home (technically, my family wanted me here right now)
  3. financial independence + security (the idea that people think im competent enough to pay still amuses me, even after my gigs in high school + college.)
  4. get married (how about i learn how to go on a date first)
  5. have children (how about i get nervous when babies enter my personal space)

in the past, people completed these rituals by the time they were in there early 20s.  currently that period has extended into the 30s. research shows that on average, young college graduates change jobs 9 times by the time they are 30 (i dunno thats kinda hard to believe but those were the statistics…well you can make up anything with statistics but thats another topic in itself).

psychologists even coined a term for this – “emergent adulthood,” a stage that lies between adolescence and adulthood.  i guess thats cool, because i can definitely relate to the peter pan complex, but i cant help wondering who’s in the right here.  are we really just a bunch of giant children who dont want to face the realities of the world (realities being that work can be boring and meaningless at times, that we’re ‘supposed’ to eventually have babies, that we should “settle down” with a partner and a stable job with the same company for 25+ years)?  or should we be commended for refusing to settle with mediocrity and instead continuing our sense of i-can-have-it-my-way, work-can-be-good-if-we-find-the-right-job attitude?

no one can deny that our societal standards are definitely changing.  for example, in the past, raising babies and staying married weren’t within the realm of personal choice – you just did it, no questions asked. that was the way it was, and those who didn’t were considered the vagabonds of society – the crack heads, the wild artists, or the pleasure-seeking adulterers.  and in terms of the job search – you inherited your family business or trade.  even the college-minded tended to choose a major depending on their exact career interests that were determined at a very early age.  of course there are always exceptions to the norm (benjamin franklin and charles darwin are fine examples), but im just talking about general trends here.

however, there is no such thing as “normal” in modern society.  with regards to family situations or career paths, you really don’t have to go far to examine this yourself.  look at the family realm: many people we know come from families with a single mom, a single dad, alternate mom-and-dad schedules, two moms, two dads, one mom one dog, one mom who donated her egg to be enseminated by a stranger, the old-fashioned mom-and-dad household, etc (if you’ve somehow lived in alien world and have no idea what im talking about, go watch an episode of ‘modern family’).  the combinations and permutations are endless.  and even in the realms of career: the doctor-turned-businessman, the businessman-turned-doctor, the lawyer-turned-truck driver, the store-owner-turned-circus clown, the rapper-turned-business mogul – make one up yourself: the _______ turned _______. i bet you someone out there in the world is living proof of your words.

life paths arent straight lines anymore.

theyve turned loopy topsy turvy upside down crazy and what used to be considered “normal” seems to be an outdated version of the american dream that only mormons (not to be confused with morons) or southern conservatives seem to uphold.

simply put, our generation is crazy.

well, not to us though. what others see as crazy, we see as freedom and excitement, a refusal to be dissatisfied, a movement against long-held traditions of cookie-cutter family lives and predictable futures (and again, its not fair to assume everyone ages 20-30 think like this, but im just going by general statistical trends here).

i guess its not surprising that the older generations are concerned. no wonder my mom yells at me to CHOOSE ONE THING AND BE CONSISTENT!  GET MARRIED!  HAVE CHILDREN NOW!  you’re just wasting time by dipping your toe here, dipping your toe there and frolicking around!  who’s going to want to marry you when you’re all old and ready to settle down!? what about your uterus! have a baby before you turn 30 because all your eggs will deteriorate and then really no one will marry you! (and if you’re a boy….well….good for you because you can endlessly produce semen until your deathbed – but your equivalent would be: GET STABLE JOB and MAKE LOTS OF MONEY SO BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN WITH HEALTHY UTERUS MARRY YOU!)



but the scary thing is, we know she’s not completely wrong.


so what are we supposed to do?

i dont know. you figure it out.

but until one of us does – im going to thailand for a month to study yoga! woohoo!

(that was supposed to be a cruel irony)


the end.


and about the horrible grammar/spelling/not capitalizing of words…im just…not in the mood to be articulate today. apologies.  ^^


o and earlier today, i walked into a glass door because i thought it was automatic and would open by itself before i got there.  clearly, i should not be an adult quite yet.




47. long time no c!

January 25, 2011 § 3 Comments

hello hello!

ive been neglecting the blog. for various reasons, with the main one being that my mind has been…cluttered…to say the least. as evidenced by my desktop:

too much stuff. cant breathe. note that internet browser has way too many tabs open with websites i wanted to check out

during such times of stress, the amount of floor you can see in my room and fingernail length significantly decrease while my waistline and acne significantly increase.  i would’ve taken a picture of my face to show you, but that means i would’ve scared you away. and have no readers anymore. well, except for my college roommates who’ve seen plenty of my moments of giant yellow tshirt + acne imploded face + no-shower self. yum.

anyways. it took a while, but i reorganized the desktop + external hard drive, reorganized the living space, and tried to prioritize my time (im still working on that one -.-).

so why am i telling you this?

well, dont you think its interesting that our mental states can be represented by external  indicators, like computer desktops or room cleanliness or facial hair length or head-hair oiliness (girls, you know exactly what im talking about) or the amount of time you spend watching tv?  what are some of yours? its kind of funny to realize what your indicators are.


46. real housewife/top chef of korea

January 18, 2011 § 7 Comments

bring it.

I. korean barbecue marinated beef sauteed with onions and enoki mushrooms, served for lettuce wraps with rice and spicy soybean sauce

II. L: tomato-cream cheese pasta sauce sauteed with chicken breast and vegetables atop a bed of whole wheat spaghetti; R: homemade garlic butter cheese toast by the sous chef brobro

III. top: kimchi fried rice with fresh kimchi, onion, and spam served with fried egg on top (the brobro was the head chef for this one!); bottom: dakgalbi [sweet and spicy marinated chicken breast with enoki mushrooms]

IV. forgot about these in the fridge…can you guess what they are?

answer: bacteria-covered potatoes! ewwwwww.






oh and funny quote by the brobro: “i reallllyyy want a girlfriend. but none of the girls at school are good enough for me!”





45. korean wedding

January 17, 2011 § 4 Comments

so. lessons learned since last entry:

1. dont get depressed

2. but if you do, dont make it worse by reading a depressing book

3. dont write depressing things that creates a cloud over other peoples’ days

(but now im confused because i started writing this blog for me but now im realizing that um maybe i have a responsibility to readers as to what kind of message/emotion/etc i send across)

4. i dont know what else but here are some pictures from a korean wedding. enjoy!

a. hello my lover you are so beautiful to me:

b. hello competing grandmother to my unborn grandchildren:

c. thank you for my wife:

d. thank you for my husband:

e. holler

f. we’re really excited and have cool glasses:

yay <3

44. ugh

January 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

have you ever met those people that just seem amazing in every way?  life seems to come as easy as pie and they are socially graceful in any situation. they exude positive energy, seem endlessly driven, and carry along with them a string of successes seeping through their core being. 

im not one of these people. 

in fact, im pretty far from it.  you guys seem to respond to my writing, but dont be misled.  my writing persona does not equate to my being persona.  in person im pretty bland and in most social situations my natural instinct is to sit in a corner and just watch and wonder.  even during one-on-one interactions, which i consider my forte, i usually sit and ask a string of questions whose objective is to “figure the person out” and “see what makes them tick.”  these conversations get pretty serious pretty fast.  while my individualized attention stems from a sincere curiosity about people, its also a great way to divert attention from myself and prevent people from getting to know me.   

relationships (with friends, with lovers, with family, with coworkers) are apparently not fully forged by receiving someone’s story or probing them to death about themselves.  youre supposed to share pieces of yourself too.  but heres the problem: i dont know how.

and apparently this is a major problem if you want to make it in the ‘real world’ where social ties matter and reputation follows you.

sooo, in an attempt to cultivate some social grace and presentability (along with desirable traits like positve energy and confidence) ive been actively practicing methods to develop empathy, compassion, and a can-do attitude.  and i really mean it when i say that its been working (and not just by my own testimony…outside sources have commented on it as well).  im learning to give and receive love and finding an odd sense of deep fulfillment in time spent with loved ones.  but sometimes, maintaining a positive outlook and being empathic towards everyone all the time is really REALLY hard.

that was a long-winded way of saying “i really need to whine right now.”

-sometimes i really hate social niceties and rituals. why do people ask questions that they don’t care to hear the answers to and why do people subsequently answer these questions with the full knowledge that the other party isn’t interested in hearing the answer??  (e.g., im beginning to realize that when people ask you “how was your day?” they really mean “im asking you this question that implies my interest in your well being because its a polite thing to do so please just answer with a standard one or two-word answer so that i can get on with my day”)

-and sometimes being an attentive and non-judgemental listener is REALLY hard.  you really have to actively remind yourself that the person across from you is a human being with a childhood and thoughts and hopes and dreams who feels pain and joy like anyone else no matter how stupid you think their opinions and lifestyle are and you have to understand that someone out there in the world probably thinks the same thing about your opinions and lifestyle too.

-why why why is my mom so sick? really though. shes had it tough for a long time now. and by tough i mean her whole life. she watched her father beat her mother endlessly (including scenes which involve shoving her head into dog shit), she watched her only loving sibling die during high school, she hid in the mountains as she studied because her mom would curse her for going to school and not helping out with the family and the farm, she still got herself through nursing college despite being the class outcast due to her refusal to participate in a demonstration that would jeapordize her scholarship, worked her tail off to support my dad throughout his time as a graduate student and nurse her stroke-embedded mother-in-law into full health, came to the states to again work her tail off to support our family, got into a car accident which resulted in permanent damage to her knees, came back to korea to again nurse her mother-in-law for two years before her death, then she had surgery on her knees, then her spinal discs ruptured, and now her lungs are covered with some obscure something-or-other that leaves her bedridden and suffering. 

i know im pointing out just the negatives right now but it really is depressing.  a part of me replays the age-old existential crisis of why live in the first place if we’re all going to die.  and another part of me is really angry at my mom.  i read somewhere that “you only accept the love that you think you deserve,” and this rings no less false for my mom.  her philosophy is that if she works her tail off, she’ll one day receive salvation “from god”.  but here is my interpretation: from the day she was born all she knew was suffering. she was harshly reinforced by her parents that hard work in the form of suffering is the only way to achieve some kind of validation. this kind of mentality followed her into adulthood where hard work and exhausting amounts of self-sacrifice in the name of being the traditionally asian “dutiful” daughter, daughter-in-law, and wife. there is very little room for living for one’s own happiness in her generation and culture. while she is a proud woman, her level of inherent self-love is low and in my humble opinion, she didnt grow enough of a backbone to demand better for herself. and that makes me mad.  not at her neccesarily. not at her parents either because they all had it tough too.  not at any one particular entity because there really is no one thing/person to be mad at which is even more frustrating.  i just wished she knew from childhood that she had every right to be happy and loved just for who she is instead of being yelled at or picked on all the time.  maybe her life wouldve turned out better. maybe then she wouldnt have worn herself so thin. maybe then she wouldnt be crying every night and lamenting about how disappointed she is with life even though she tried her best. or maybe it wouldve ended up all the same. who knows.

it all just makes me so sad. i just want her to be happy. or at least healthy.  is that too much to ask?

i know life goes on. shit happens. life happens. you trip over a sidewalk. you get bad hair days. childhood friends go to jail. countries go to war.  some people shoot up schools and others illegally pocket millions of dollars. and moms work hard and are still disappointed with life and then get sick and die. and yes, i know there are plenty of things to be grateful for (like the fact that i even have a mom or a roof to live under or three meals a day or whatever). and really, in all seriousness (i emphasize my seriousness because i know positive psychology/spirituality sounds dangerously close to new-age fluff), like i mentioned before, overcoming negativity with acts and thoughts of gratitude and compassion really do work.  but sometimes its just really tough when all you just want to do is kick and scream and cry and curse the world.

-and one more thing im really mad about. kanye west’s distateful new music video. im all for artistic expression but wtf. kids look up to you.

you know, id normally apologize for being so depressing and emo or whatever but i really dont feel like being sorry for projecting my potentially burdensome thoughts and feelings into the outside world.

43. humility vs. confidence

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

im confused.

this blog has been, and continues to be, an outlet for expression, an experimentation on self-presentation, and a means to gain self-confidence.  and im happy to report that its working.  publishing my thoughts and receiving encouraging feedback from friends and strangers alike is holding me more accountable for my thoughts and actions while helping me realize that it’s okay to be me.

thanks to your words of encouragement about my inner musings, I became happy and proud of myself.  i published my achievements more frequently, i talked about them more when i met new people, and i started to give myself some credit.  in other words, i grew a backbone.

there’s a reason why interviewers, psychologists, and dating gurus alike are pandering on and on about exuding confidence – it works. people notice you more. they listen. and the world feels like your oyster.  in a culture where standing out and making yourself shine among the masses are key factors to snag a job interview, self-promotion seems pretty damn important. who’s going to look if you’re not honking your own horn?

but something struck me quite hard last night after a conversation with my parents.  during a discussion about my future plans, my dad called me out on needing humility and my mom called me out on being a self-deprecating perfectionist.  while i wont get into the specifics, both observed that i have a mental block of pride and fear that prevents me from fully acknowledging and admitting to mistakes.

my dad, being the Christian pastor that he is, paralleled my need for humility to the Christian admittance that we are all sinners.  And I, fostering bad memories of Sunday school hypocrites and indoctrination of shame during my youth and having received scientific training during college, naturally recoiled at the thought of anything Christian.  However, he didn’t mean “sinner” with the often-preached notion about being harshly shamed for who you are.  He also didn’t mean it in the Sunday-school sense of having premarital sex or bingeing on drugs.  No, what he meant was far more delicate.  It was that we are sinners in the sense that we, as humans, have every room for conscious improvement – but in order to do that, true recognition and admittance of our limitations is necessary.

My refusal to admit faults seem to be coupled with a perfectionist fear of mistakes.  You see, I’ve had a long-held belief that even the slightest of mistakes will lead to a world of complete and utter destruction and disaster in which i end up homeless and alone on the streets with rabies and smelly hair.  i wish i was exaggerating, but for a long time i literally imagined this to be my fate if i made ‘the wrong’ decision.  Naturally, I avoided making such decisions by 1. not making mistakes, and even if i did, I’d 2. never admit to it, and finally, I’d 3. rationalize the mistake to make myself feel better.  #1 is impossible, #2 is irresponsible, and #3 is delusional.  That’s hardly a healthy process for getting along in the world.

So there we have it – I need to learn humility, defined as “a modest or low view of one’s importance” by my handy-dandy dictionary widget, and I need to face my fear of making and admitting to mistakes.  The first idea is necessary because come on now, history is scattered with instances when hubris and overconfidence leads to downfall and the second notion is essential because if I don’t muster up the courage to make mistakes how am I going to learn anything of substance in my life?

but now we’re in a bigger pickle than we were in before.

modern society tells us to be confident and market yourself in the brightest of lights, and on the flip side we have old adages advising us to gobble up some humble pie and downplay our achievements.  have self-confidence but maintain a low view of yourself.  toot your own horn but put it on mute first. develop a quality product but don’t market it.  present yourself well on a resume but dont.  ehh?  what are you supposed to do? -.-;;  i dont know about you, but these mixed messages are pretty ridiculously confusing.

i then remembered two of the humblest people ive met and realized that those apparent contradictions are not necessarily so.

during college, and even now, both friends had every reason on earth to be tooting their own horns.  they had unbelievably high GPAs, participated in prestigious honors programs, ended up in respected post-college situations, and, most importantly, are nice people and lead satisfying lives.  any momma bird would burst with pride.

however, the two in question are as quiet as white on snow about their amazing selves.  friend #1 only shares her achievements with a select few and intimate friends and even then she holds out.  and although i knew friend #2 since freshman year, i didn’t even realize he was so accomplished until i read his mini biography in the school newspaper during my last semester.

the two are very humble even though they have every reason not to be.  yet compared to the average early-twenty-somethings, they are ahead of the curve in self-confidence.  like most of us, they are still fine-tuning their future visions – but unlike the majority (and to be honest right now when i say ‘majority’ i mean me), they accept life with grace, grit, persistence, and dedication.

im lucky to have such friends who are living and breathing proof that humility and confidence are not mutually exclusive.  there are no easy answers to hard questions (so maybe i should just stop asking hard questions -.-;; ), and this one is no exception.  humility and confidence seem to be on the scales of a finely tuned balance that needs to be re-calibrated for each unique situation and each unique person.

so here’s what ive gathered: maybe its something like…we aren’t perfect (whatever “perfect” means) but that’s okay.  no one is.  that doesn’t mean we have to go around trying to convince ourselves and those around us that we’re always right in order to feign confidence.  maybe deep, true confidence comes from realizing your need for humility.  and these ideas are hardly new…the major religious philosophies, from Judaism and Christianity to Hinduism and Buddhism, proclaim humility a key virtue, Plato started his inquiries with the acknowledgment “i know that i know nothing,” and i have a funny feeling those friends of mine live by this principle.

you can only claim confident mastery of a system by assessing the complete scope of both its capabilities and limitations.  why wouldn’t the same idea apply to ourselves?  be brave enough to question the pedestal you are on, truly acknowledge your flaws, and embrace the room for self-improvement.  the core of self-confidence is not built upon achievement and overcoming hardship (although no one can deny their ability to enhance it). true self-confidence, the kind that exudes from the wise but not from the smart, seems to be about fully knowing yourself and taking joy in those opportunities for improvement.  we have dirty houses filled with pride and laziness lurking around the corners we keep hidden even from ourselves.  so have fun as you dig around, reorganize, and redecorate your mental living space.

last point:  i ate quiznos yesterday and it was delicious.

42. return from hiatus

January 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

q. shih

hello lovers and madmen and friends.

its been a while.

took a 2 week break from active internet use.

here are some brief updates:

-christmas happened

-oh, but before christmas:

mr.C @ coex in seoul

  • i caught up with two east coast friends who happened to be in korea and i had a really nice day. it was just one of those days that just felt right.  nostalgia-inducing omlette and pancakes with honey butter + unifying conversation with ms.E, art galleries (didnt realize asian fine artists were so talented – why aren’t they more well known throughout the western world!?!?) + coffee by myself, fateful subway rides + a brief hip-hop show, and to top it all off, an interesting dinner + enlightening talk and walk with mr.C.  yay.

western omlette + country fried potatoes + pancakes with honey butter with ms.E

L: a gallery in seoul with really meditative works (photography prohibited inside though. sad) R: a cool-looking chinese restaurant

love love love watching people perform. the enjoyment is not necessarily a function of skill level (although it does enhance the experience) but moreso because watching people in visible states of flow makes me happy

-okay. and then christmas happened. i dont remember exactly what i did that day. i may have shot some pool.

-read a really depressing book (the fall). it also had a very nicely designed cover.

camus book cover designs by helen yentus

-brother and i went to a remote countryside to learn some ancient chinese characters from an old guru dude.  we all sat in designated rows according to skill level.  i was in the row of kindergartners.  i was humbled by their well-proportioned strokes and superior knowledge of chinese morphemes as i struggled with the criss-cross hatchings that looked and sounded all the same to me. but i can now proudly say i know how to write the chinese characters for ‘water,’ ‘missed opportunity,’ ‘five,’ and ‘big’ from memory.  score!

-read a surprisingly engrossing book (the host. yes, the one by the author of twilight. i feel like i should feel guilty but it was hard not to sympathize with the protagonist’s internal struggle. but i didnt like how it ended. too unrealistically idyllic. but then again, the whole novel is pretty unrealistic. and by pretty i mean very.)

-returned from countryside and ate the face off. and i got to shower.  that was nice.

-took a break from my camera as well.

-then the earth creeped up to that sweet spot in its orbit that we humans commemorate as the marker for a new year.  isnt it weird though…we refer to a new year with attitudes of a “new start” and a “fresh beginning” when in reality we’re going around in giant circles in which a differentiable “end” and “beginning” are concepts made up by humans to keep our lives somewhat organized.  but then i guess even if we are in the same location in space we’re not in the same location in time so maybe terms liked ‘new beginning’ and ‘fresh start’ are reasonable.

-that designated date for a new year happens to coincide with my brobro’s bday. we went to pizza hut (in the US, pizza hut = blegh beer night/too lazy to cook. in Korea, pizza hut = upscale special occasion restaurant) and ate too much. then got him a new outfit. realized shopping is a way more enjoyable and convenient experience for boys than it is for girls (us girls have way too many options. its unnecessarily overwhelming.)

-watched my mom’s body withering away.  its like watching a decaying apple thats starting to brown but hasn’t quite shriveled yet. except that its not an apple. its the woman who gave birth to you.

-realized my dad is experiencing the same vertigo ive been thinking about.

-drove up to the mountains and saw breathtaking winter scenery. it was unlike anything ive ever seen before.

-i turned 23. i also received my college diploma on the same day. i actually laughed at the irony. here i am, taking a year to venture off from what ive been trained to be for the first 22 years of my life just to receive a nicely timed reminder, even when im halfway across the world, of the exact thing ive been separating myself from on the morning of my 23rd birthday.  but funnily enough, that stupid piece of paper with those stupid lines of ancient latin that i cant even read made me quite happy. maybe happy isnt the right word. maybe its more smug. a secret kind of smug. that im now very publicly posting.  thats kind of ironic too isnt it.

-read a breathtaking book (the unbearable lightness of being. even the title is heart-wrenching). please go read it if you haven’t already. the writing is beautiful and the ideas in each chapter leave you somewhere between awe and mindfuck (is there a better one-word way to express “mindfuck” without the profanity?)

-and. my laptop is dying. and i have to go to the dentist in half an hour. cant decide which is worse.

:)  <3

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