79. Um…Are you flirting with me?

April 28, 2011 § 4 Comments

So.  Today I had lunch and coffee with a newly minted friend.  A friend who happens to be a boy.

But in order to understand the significance of the interaction, let me give you a little background.

Lunch and coffee with a friend who happens to be male.  I’ve done that before.  Big deal right?

Well for me this one was kind of a big deal because it was different.

See, the thing is, my usual approach to friendships/relationships has been quite passive.  I do my own thing until someone actively seeks me out to spend time together.  Not that this is a bad way to make friends, but I was never the one to initiate a relationship request (unless your initials are CK and I bought you sushi for your birthday).

It’s not that I didn’t like people.  It’s just that I didn’t realize there does not need to be an end goal with a friendship.  What I mean by that is this: spending time together doesn’t have to have a set purpose (e.g., getting a job done, discussing a project, helping someone out with a given problem, etc.).  I didn’t really know how to just sit and enjoy the presence of another living being (except for trees and grass and plants and perhaps kitty cats and puppy dogs).

Given my lack of friendship courtesy, it is quite a miracle that I maintained friendships with my roommates during college.  Even after spending four years together sharing a living space (bathroom included), I realize now that I had a hard time with the concept of sharing time together without a specific goal in mind.

I remember one instance that struck me quite profoundly during college:  I was sitting in my room, hunched over my computer and getting some work done (I think it was work. who knows what I was doing in college) and two of my roommates (yes you, JC and BL) walk in.  This is the exchange that happened:

Them (or one of them): “Hey, let’s get lunch!”

Me: “Nope. I already ate”

Them: “So? Join us anyways”

Me: “…but I already ate”

Them: “Come onnnnnnn”

Me: “No. I already ate.”

Them: “You suck”  (yes, this is the best insult my mensa-level genius friends could come up with)

They leave for lunch and I sit on my desk and I am confused by the situation.  I’m thinking: why the heck do they want me join them if I already ate?  What would I do?  Just sit and watch them eat?  It just doesn’t make sense!

…But then something dawned upon me.  A strange and new idea that caused me a lot of grief:

Omg.  They enjoy my company.

Finally, at that moment in time, after four years of spending every day together, I realized that they like sharing time with me.  They didn’t want to eat with me just to consume food.  They wanted to share time without a necessary end goal in mind other than to just enjoy being in one another’s presence.

…What a breakthrough!

**********

Okay so I ventured off there a bit. The purpose of that anecdote was to show that for the whole of my life thus far, I rarely initiated an action that could constitute “starting” a friendship.  Nor did I realize that sometimes, people just want to share time.  I haven’t been quite aware of the feel-goodness of shared interactions between people, and I have usually just waited for people to approach me.

I didn’t know how to share myself and initiate friendships.

BUT.  This year is different!  Because I’m trying this whole thing where I’m pushing myself outside my comfort zone, I decided to take initiative and ask someone out for lunch today in order to actively pursue a friendship.

We had lunch and coffee and a nice little semi-deep conversation.  During our previous interactions, it was he that usually did most of the talking and because I’m a good listener, I listened.  And today, as usual, he did most of the talking.  And I listened.  But I also started talking and “sharing about myself” too.  And it turned out to be pretty insightful and not that bad.

So there we have it.

I’m becoming more comfortable consciously “revealing myself” or “being myself” or “sharing myself” around people.

…But something strange started happening.

In the midst of our pleasant conversation at the coffee shop, I slowly became aware of his and my physical interactions.   Now in part, memory is fallible and I may be remembering things inaccurately, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.   But as we sat across from each other at the coffee shop, I noticed that our body positions mirrored one another, and whenever I would take a sip of coffee he would repeatedly do the same (or perhaps it was vice versa, but I was careful not move around too much during conversation).

Uh…so what?

Well let me tell you so what.  Through what I’ve studied during my undergraduate years as a major in cognitive science (basically, trying to explain human behavior by integrating psychology with physiology-based neuroscience), research shows that when two people are quite engaged, their actions will start to mirror one another in terms of body position and motion. Such interactions fall within the category of human courtship (also known as “flirting”).  Many examples in the animal kingdom also show instances of such mirroring activity during courtship (e.g., swans, leopard slugs, etc…but again, take what I say with a grain of salt because I haven’t done enough research.)

[sidenote: I can take that idea of mirroring one another one step further into the level of neuronal signaling but I’m not quite sure how many of you would be interested in that so message me if you are curious.]

Anyways.  So the basic point is this: during our coffee time, I started becoming vaguely aware that he was, subconsciously and/or consciously, sending “signals” via his body language.

And.  On a not-so-analytical level, I just felt “vibes” and it was weird because I had never been aware of them before.

*********

So uh…what does that mean?

Well one, it means that I observe and analyze a lot (surprise surprise)

Two, hooray for me for pushing boundaries and actively pursuing a friendship

And three, perhaps my newly minted “friend” is interested in more than friendship.  Probably not.  Perhaps I am interested in more than friendship.  Probably not.  But that’s not the main point here.

…The main point is that observing these research findings, the ones I had merely been studying as theory in college, and experiencing them firsthand for myself are absolutely fascinating!

(omgz note to self: u. r. a. psychonerd.)

Oh and four: I think I like having friends and “sharing myself” sometimes.  And I want to take this opportunity to thank you, all my past and current and future friends out there, for sharing your friendship with me in your own unique ways.  I’ll do my best to be a better friend to you too.

…But seriously though, don’t expect any miracles.  No matter how much I value your friendship, I still probably wouldn’t sit and watch you shove food down your throat if I had already eaten and had work to do.

…heheheh.

I’m kidding.  

Or at least, I think I’m kidding.

^.^;;;;

78. fascinating food for thought

April 27, 2011 § 7 Comments

James Reynolds, a London-based artist, photographed a series of former Death Row prisoners’ requests for their last meals before their execution.

Images copyright 2009 James Reynolds [www.jamesreynolds.co.uk]

What an intriguing concept (not to mention the appropriately sterile yet profound visual style). I wonder what variables these now-deceased prisoners’ thought about as they requested their last meal. Taste? Texture? Past memories associated with the food? Nutritious value?

At this point in my life, I think I’d request the following: Trader Joe’s red bell pepper hummus, fresh carrot sticks, and a spicy tuna roll with ginger on the side. And a cup of hot tea. Oh, and an orange (or a grapefruit).  And Jack-in-the-Box’s curly fries (with ketchup).

What would you request? (And why?)

*******

77. blog why?

April 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

I quite enjoy blogging.  The other night I spent hours updating my blog. And every entry takes a good chunk of my time as well. But sometimes when I look at my blog I just feel this intrinsic sense of satisfaction.

But in all honesty, this blog is not that stellar. The blog, like my mind, can get quite unfocused and scattered at times. One of the golden rules of blogging is that it must be focused and specific. A blog should interweave its readers from one entry to the next. Theoretically speaking, a good blog is able to be described in a single short sentence. “This blog is about unicorns.” “This blog is about acorns.” “This blog is about your mom.”

…I dont really know how I could clearly categorize this blog…this one is about…what exactly?  Nothing and everything in particular. My entries are somewhat random and unpredictable. Some days I talk about boys, some days I go into deep-thinking mode about life, some days I just post pictures. Some days my entries are meaningful and at other times they are useless. Take this entry for example – this entry seems pretty unexciting and purposeless.

So why do I ramble on?

It’s just that I’ve just been thinking about experiences and things and people that bring us joy and the source of joy itself.

I think one of the keys to living a happy life is to fill your time with events, projects, and people that give you pleasure. But not just the passive kind of hedonistic pleasure. The kind of pleasure that balances a sense of ease with a sense of challenge to ensure that you happily push your boundaries from time to time. I think this blog brings such boundary-pushing pleasure for me.

…but one question leaves me hanging.

Blog viewing trends.  Look guys all those little bars represent you :)  Am I driven by such external reinforcements…

…or internal ones?  (Screenshot of the blog editing window)

Would I write this blog, would I update my entries and edit my photos if you didn’t look at it? Do I enjoy the action in itself or is it your reaction that I look forward to? Actually, I won’t even go so far as to say your reactions…how much does the mere fact that you read this blog contribute to my sense of satisfaction?

Bottom line is, would I continue writing if no one reads?

Would I take photos if no one ever saw them?

Would we do the things we do if no one was watching?

(those multiple “…”s means  I’m being contemplative and encouraging you to really think about the question.  Is it working? ^.^)

So. What is the purpose of this musing?

I think I’m trying to figure out why I enjoy certain things so much. Like earlier today, I saw a really clever mural on a wall and it made my day. Stupid things like murals and watching a man play with kitty cats in a pet store make me quite happy inside. Stupid things like a picture of two of my college roommates hugging brought tears to my eyes.

Joy in a bundle (and baby friends ^.^). Photo credits to baby friend/roomie JH.

I thought stuff like making millions and going to Harvard and looking beautiful were supposed to make me happy. And who knows, maybe they would make me happy – I’ve never tried them so I wouldn’t know. But I also didn’t know that these little details of life could induce such joy.

…see what I mean by unpredictable rambling?

***

Anyways.  Happy Monday!  Let’s start this week off fresh and strong :)

76. punk rock prom queens

April 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

One final Thailand post.

A band led by a fierce Lady Gaga-esque Thai boy.  Consists of guitar, bass, synthesizers, drums, and a brass trio of trumpet, saxophone, and trombone.

I found myself quite attracted to that trombone player in the last image.  There’s just something so enticing about tall men playing musical instruments.

…lol I guess I do have hormones after all.

**************

Blog news:  updated the “about” section and added a “links” tab — feel free to browse around (but if you have work to do I highly suggest you finish that first)

Cheers!

75. goodbye thailand ill miss you

April 20, 2011 § 8 Comments

Long-distance bus in Thailand

Life is a giant puzzle sometimes.  The more I participate, the more material I have to write about and photograph, but the less time I have to contemplate and extract meaningful messages and images.  And on the flip side, the more I observe and contemplate, the more meaningful the insights are but the less I end up experiencing and enjoying life.

So why am I telling you that?

There’s really no good reason in particular.  That was just my introduction to this entry which will feautre bullet-point updates about my last week in Thailand.

However, these quick updates concern me sometimes because they feel somewhat shallow relative to the deeper insights in my mind.  I’ve extracted very fulfilling lessons and experiences, but I have yet to consciously sift through them all in order to construct meaningful messages.  There are so many and I don’t know where to start.

Another thing that troubles and amazes me — the more I reflect upon things, the more I realize that the depth of our minds is ridiculously unknown to us.  We are so unaware of the variety or non-variety of processing we undergo every single day.

Lastly, another thing that prevents us from knowing ourselves is that we have these things called life and time that consistently push us forward.  They make it quite difficult to reflect upon life and self because days are busy and there are dishes that need to be washed and spreadsheets to be reviewed and friends to enjoy meals with.

Okay.  So I ventured into lala land for a bit and got a little off topic there.  Oops :)

Here are the goods, in semi-chronological order:

-Well, firstly, here’s a picture of my certificate:

Like I mentioned before, I am extremely proud of my certificate and what it represents to me.  For the first time in my life, I chose and completed something significant based off of my own interests and happiness and not due to perceived parental or societal expectations.  And that whole month opened my heart up in endless ways.  I really don’t know how to express this in words without sounding like a bad commercial for engagement rings.

At the closing ceremony, E and A from Germany sang a farewell song.  Sitting to the right are our five amazing instructors.  Clearly, instructor M (far right) is enjoying himself.  And yes, that is a heart made of flower petals in the middle of the floor.

-After the training, a couple of trainees and I went into the heart of the city to rest and relax for a couple days.  It was quite interesting because after the glow of yoga training, the lovey-dovey vibes start to fade and you can observe people’s underlying personalities starting to rise.  It’s like that point in a relationship when you realize your partner doesn’t poo out gold and diamonds and in fact that he/she is a human being with human tendencies.

-With that being said though, I shared some lovely times with the trainees in random Thai bars and clubs and eateries.  Good conversations and laughs and dancing make for good friends :)

Say hello to S and her demolished banana smoothie.  She tells me she wants to make a baby as soon as she gets back home.  That last sentence is not a joke. She also does not own a television set or have a Facebook account. 

-After my time in Chiang Mai city I took a 4-hour bus ride weaving in and out the mountainside to a small mountaintop village called Pai.  Beautiful mountains set amongst clouds, clean air, lots of hippies, plenty of lost souls.  I stayed at a great resort/farm place that housed three puppy dogs and had amazing breakfast.

The farm/resort I stayed at in Pai. So peaceful. I love.

Homemade muesli with yogurt and fruit.Vanilla pancake with iced tea and pineapple smoothie.  Made with love and served with a flower. 

-At the farm I met someone like me.  She’s a girl (I’m a female). She was born in Korea (me too). She immigrated to the States at a young age (same here).  She grew up in California (yep).  She is now a yoga instructor (just finished my training).  Ummm…coincidence?  Fate? ****A SIGN????*** Perhaps.  Perhaps not. But how many first generation Korean-American twenty-something female yoga instructors do you meet in a tiny village on top of a mountain?  Hmm I think Malcolm Gladwell could answer this question brilliantly.

-Also I was fortunate enough to meet E, a sharp ex-businessman who worked in finance and sales before realizing he didn’t like where his life was headed (which was en route to a comfortable millionaire salary in 5-10 years) and consequently decided to travel and explore.  After seven years of traveling throughout Asia and gathering lots of interesting stories and people, he is slowly transitioning back into the working world in Bangkok.  He took me around on his motorbike for two days and showed me around all the major and minor paths around Pai.  I really like motorbike rides.

In Pai I hitched many motorbike rides.  Sometimes when I walk, random local Thais would stop and offer me a ride like this kind little lady here.

Rest stop on a mountainside during a ride with E

-During one of our rides I witnessed my first real live bar fight in a village roadside bar.  I was enjoying my beer and the off-tune Thai karaoke music when I hear mass shouting and movement.  A bottle crashes and a tall strong man is grabbing the back of his head as blood seeps out.  You can see his anger bubbling over — you know that point when that animal side of a man kicks in and his eyes just glaze over with rage?  It’s not a pretty sight.  He runs to the back alley and returns, clutching a giant steel rod in his right hand and ready to do who-knows-what.  Thankfully, the offending group of people were smart enough to quickly hop on their truck and drive off.  I don’t understand the anger of men sometimes.  Women get angry too, but men seem to become inexplicably violent more easily.

Roadside bar in a remote village.  These boys were milking the mike.

This guy followed me around and insisted on getting his photo taken.  I like the dog.

-After a couple of nights, three yoga trainees soon came up to Pai as well and we shared a fine time together.  One of them sang with the live band at the small bar we visited.  One rented a motorbike and explored the town.  One kept on hugging and touching me because she knows unwarranted physical contact makes me feel uncomfortable.

Chill nights, live music, outdoor vibes. 

-Following my time in Pai, I headed to Chiang Mai city for my first experience with Couchsurfing (basic concept: sleep on other people’s couches and make friends).  I was supposed to stay there three nights but ended up staying for two.  This is one of those experiences that is a whole separate story/entry in itself.  All I will say for now is that I’m very happy I’m me, people are fascinating, and I now know my dad loves me.  If you ever plan to travel alone, one piece of advice: please know yourself to some level before doing so.

-This really really old man (like grandpa status) tried to get me to sleep with him while touting his ability to give young Korean women three orgasms in one night.  I politely declined.

-I spent my last night in Chiang Mai by myself in a hotel.  The hotel was familiarly western, but it seriously lacked the attention to detail I loved so much about the independent resorts/hotels in Pai and Hiroshima.  Comfortable bed though.

-Right before leaving for the airport, I treated myself with a mani/pedi, massages, and a delicious lunch.  All for less than $10.  The relative cost of luxury living in Thailand is amazing.

-You know what I think every time after I get a mani/pedi though?  Why in the world did I just pay someone to paint my nails?!?  Although I don’t get my nails done often, every time I do, I end up in disbelief at the fact that I actually paid someone money to soak my hands in warm water and then swipe some color on my nails, something I could easily get done myself in a shorter amount of time.  I feel jipped every time I get my nails done, but I continue to give it a shot because so many people seem to like them.  But I never feel any inherent pleasure with a mani/pedi.  I guess it’s just not my thing.  I guess that will the last mani/pedi I myself pay for.

-Anyways.  After the disappointing mani/pedi session I had an amazing massage.  I love massages.  Especially when the hands are strong and experienced.

-And now I’m back in Korea.  And happily so.  My travel bug is settling — my desire to run away and wander is decreasing.  Methinks I’m becoming ready to transition into my next stage of development.

-Hm. Do you people even read all this?  This entry is quite long.  Too long for my personal taste, but I guess that’s what happens when you take a weeklong break.  Regardless, if you’ve made it this far I want to thank you for joining me on my travels and my observations/happenings.  Tune in next time for more interesting snippets of life and have a wonderful day :)

Doggy says goodbye

74. gone fishin’

April 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

Hello lovers and friends.  You know, I don’t really know why I say ‘lovers’ because I don’t have any.  But “lovers and friends” has such a nice ring to it.  Anyways.  Getting off topic.

I completed the yoga teacher’s course and I am now a certified yoga instructor!  It was odd because I felt more excited about that certificate over my fancy schmancy ivy league degree.  Life is interesting sometimes.  What you expect to be exciting turns out to be okay and what you expect to be okay turns out to be exciting.

Perhaps the trick is to have no expectations and just…”go with the flow” as they say.

After the yoga training, I stayed in Chiang Mai for two nights and the city was too hectic for me.  So I hopped on a bus for four hours weaving in and out on winding roads and ended up in Pai, a tiny mountaintop village with a modest share of attractions and plenty of farms, mountains, and roaming puppy dogs (but no kitty cats!).  I’m staying on the outskirts of Pai on a farm-based villa-like place and I have my own bamboo hut.  There is also a cow right outside my room.

It’s quiet and scenic and I love it. I’ll post pictures soon.

Also. I have three interesting boy stories.  One is about awkward dancing at a Thai club, one is about someone trying to “pick me up” (I’m still confused as to wether or not he thought I was a prostitute), and the last one is about “vibes” on the 4-hour bus ride here.

However, I’ll go into detail next time because I’m taking a break from the blog. Come back in a week for amusement :)

Love you guys and wish you all the joy in the world.

Breathe and smile, breathe and smile.  Everything’s going to be just fine :)

73. kitty cat cat cat and a monk man

April 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

During one of my bicycle rides around the countryside I came across a temple.  And there were lots of kitty cats.  More kitty cats than there were monks.

Gilles, a French model-turned-forest-monk.  You can take the monk out of the model, but you can’t take the model out of the monk.

I wanted to take pictures of the three Thai monks in the temple but they all ran away when I came near.  Though technically monks are not allowed to run so…I don’t know.  They just disappeared.

*****

In other news, today I completed the practicum section of my certification which consists of teaching a 90-minute class to two students.  It was pretty fun and apparently it was funny because my reviewers kept praising my jokes…which I found quite odd because I don’t remember making any jokes.  Actually I don’t remember much about the whole thing at all.

Oh and apparently my voice is quite loud. One instructor commented “I overheard you…from across the room” lol oops.

Sighs.  Only one more day. Unreal how time flies.

Goodbye lovers and friends.  Happy Thursday :)

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