123. I’m a human being now

August 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Re-establishing myself into American society.  And in the land and time of consumerism, reestablishment of course means having a home and buying stuff.  But if you take a minute to think about it, the implications of each item is pretty meaningful.

Got myself an address (aka home base): this seems really un-special, but if you think about it, your physical location is quite an important aspect of yourself.  While there are certainly differences within a particular city or a neighboring area, the fact that people of similar class and age cluster in particular areas is really quite interesting.  And from where I am located right now, which is on the border of Koreatown in a disheveled neighborhood of sometimes-nice and sometimes-ghetto housing and people, I find myself upgraded from my all-ghetto past (apologies if the use of the term ‘ghetto’ isnt PC.  what I mean specifically by that is “lower rung of the socioeconomic ladder.” but that’s such a mouthful.) yet still not quite where I am.  Look at the people living around you – what does it reflect back to you about your current status and place in society?

via bargains.best-prepaid-cell-phone-plans.com/

Prepaid LG flip-phone from the dinosaur age.  Meaning no touch screen, no web browsing, no apps that can count how many breaths I take per minute or how I can efficiently wipe my butt, no frills no bells no whistles.  Good old text and talk…but frills bells and whistles do look tempting :’)

A cell phone (aka connectivity): a cell phone represents connectivity with other human beings.  It’s interesting because as much as I think myself to be an introverted individual with qualms about large social gatherings, I really cannot deny that having people to connect with and rely on is an immense gift and necessity.   And as I reestablish myself here, I find that one of the first things I do instead of diving straight into my job search is to reconnect with people!  I think that is really weird because in the past I would’ve totally neglected the people in my life in favor of educational or work-related pursuits.  My my, how I’ve grown.

A bank card (aka societal mobility): I spent the first couple of days here without much cash and I realized how immobile I was.  You really can’t get too much done without money here (okay, you’re thinking duh. But sometimes we really take each dollar we have for granted and it’s nice to be reminded once in a while).  And, random story: I have this odd and terrible habit of leaving things at my bank here!  When I first opened my account there six years ago, I forgot my wallet.  When I finally returned last week to reopen my account, I left my cell phone!  And then, today, when I went to deposit some cash, I left my sunglasses!!  What is going on here?  It’s like the bank is working some weird voodoo magic on my short-term memory.  o.O

nike free run+ 2 via nikestore.com

Really really comfortable.  No, I’m not getting paid to advertise.

Shoes (aka physical mobility):  In lieu of a car, I bought new shoes.  I enjoy walking, but it’s definitely not a time-efficient means of transportation in Los Angeles.  Unlike the North American east coast or any of the Asian countries I’ve been in for the past year, LA is super spaced out.  Skinny-tall buildings have been replaced by wide-short ones and people on foot or bicycle have been replaced by metal chunks of cars.  One time, I walked three miles and passed by a total of three individuals.  And they were construction workers who were fixing a pothole -.-;;

via intps.us/

Apparently if I wear this scent I can be as sexy as that woman and my menfriend will like me back.

Perfume (representing…um…luxury and social desirability?):  Why perfume?  What does it represent?  Honestly, there’s no deep insight about this one.  I just want to smell good because I think I’m developing a crush on a boy.  Or maybe he’s a man.  I can’t tell :)

* * * * *

Adieu friends and lovers!

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122. Hello LA

August 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’m back in Los Angeles, my supposed hometown.  I say “supposed” because even though I spent most of my childhood and adolescent years in this city, I don’t feel that warm-and-fuzzy “I’m home” sensation upon return.

The buildings and streets look familiar yet organically evolved as renovations and fresh coats of paint are slathered on old facades.

The people are fairly the same – they look slightly older, they talk about slightly different things, their attitudes are slightly altered, yet the foundational person remains in their unchanged core.

As always, the palm trees are plentiful and tall.  As always, they wave slightly back and forth with the breeze.

As always, there are illegal Mexican immigrants standing around for day jobs on the corners of the streets.

Things change.  But they really don’t.

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121. energy and emotions

August 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

Back in Korea.  Will leave for the United States in two days.

via eiris.edublogs.org/

Lots of energy and emotions.  Of various sorts:

  • Nervous: Had my interview last Friday and I haven’t heard back yet.
  • Sad: I’m going to miss the friends I’ve made in Korea.
  • Pleased: Enjoyed an amazing lunch and coffee date with two friends with whom I share an eccentrically comforting and comical group dynamic.  I’ll miss you guys – let us rendezvous again soon :)
  • Apprehensive:  Le sigh.  The future is currently a bit vague.
  • Proud: My little brobro started his junior year a week ago and he’s off to a great start — he’s being more wise and responsible about managing his time AND he made the volleyball team as captain!
  • Tan: Okay, this is not an emotion.  But I’m super toasty from Taiwan right now.
  • Lawlz-ing: I’m not sure if this an emotion either, but as I was waiting for my ride at the bus station today, a middle-aged Korean man pokes me and says “You’re awesome.  I think we could be really good friends.”  Lawlz.  I don’t know why I attract such crazies sometimes.
  • Happily eager:  Can’t wait to reunite with college/pre-college friends.  And to be in a country where I have full linguistic fluency (though I must admit, my English speaking skills may have been waning since I’ve been abroad for so long).  And to go to Trader Joe’s and buy myself some hummus :)
  • Reminiscent: I’ve had quite a fulfilling year enriched with beautiful and sometimes odd experiences in which I stepped outside my comfort zone and widened my world view.  I also learned to appreciate life.  That seems pretty odd because appreciating life should be somewhat inherent, but it’s quite easy to forget and take for granted sometimes.
  • Grateful: This past year wouldn’t have been possible or as fulfilling without the support from my friends (both old and new, including you dear reader) and family.  Especially my family.  Even though my mom sometimes thinks I’m crazy and my dad sometimes gets restless about my time-consuming wanderings and ponderings, at the end of the day, they pull through with love and support that they express in sometimes cryptic ways.  :)  I sure am thankful.  I sure am lucky.
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Okay everyone, thanks for reading and I wish you all the best.  Off to LAX I go!
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120. Can you imagine doing this for a living?

August 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

Guards at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.

No movement.  Not even an eye-blink.

But if you watch closely you see the inevitable sway of breath.

119. Hello again real world

August 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

Hi there, internet and virtual and societal world.  I’m back after a weeklong hiatus from you.

Fo Guang Shan, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Just completed a temple stay/seminar/tour with Fo Guang Shan monastery in Southern Taiwan.  Many experiences.  Many people, many monks.  Many meals.  Quite busy.  Quite ridiculous – quite memorable.

There were many moments in which I thought “I can’t believe this is my life” or “I’ve got to be one of the luckiest girls in the world” or “Wtf did I get myself into this time?”  :)

And now, I’m ready to tread my next step.

My experiences during the past week add a nice finishing touch to my yearlong wanderings and ponderings.  They confirm the progress I have made, the progress I have yet to make, and the progress that comes next.

I could write pages and pages about the past couple of days – but I won’t.  Instead, I leave you with a quote that overarches my experiences:

“Where did you go? — Fo Guang Shan in Taiwan.

What did you do there?  — Attended a seminar on Life and Ch’an.

What have you gained? — I have not lost anything had I never went.

…So why did you go? — I wouldn’t have known this if I didn’t go.”

-Venerable Hsing Yuen

 * * * * *

Except the thing is that I did gain moments and snippets of significance :)

Group #4 of the 2011 seminar on life and Ch’an.  An international group consisting of Korean-Americans, Caucasian-Americans, South Africans, Hong Kongese-Beligians, Malaysians, Guatemalans, French-Taiwanese, Filipino/as, Taiwanese-Australians, etc etc etc.   

* * * * *

And now I’m off one boat and heading straight toward another — I literally just checked into my guesthouse in Taipei where I’ll prepare for a job interview I’m having in six hours (@ 2AM here) via Skype.

Dear self, jia you.

@ Xiao Yehliu, Taiwan

…and one more pic.  Cute monastic:

118. Taroko-a-go-go

August 4, 2011 § 4 Comments

On my second day in Taiwan, I visited Taroko National Park, located near the city of Hualien and full of gorgeous gorges and beautifully powerful mountains and fine-tuned natural art and soulfully deep rivers and breezy quietly fresh caves.  I was so happy that my whole body was singing for joy.  I didn’t know that was even capable of happening.  Seriously.  The more I spend time in nature, the more I realize how much I am connected with it and adore it and am energized by it.

So much better than Disneyland.

…and take a look at this ridiculous pair of trees!  The skinnier one on the left completely wrapped itself all over and around the thicker one.  Is this what love is?  lol.  Click image to enlarge.

* * * * *

Ended the day with a beautiful bicycle ride along the beach of Taiwan’s eastern coast.

And uh…this is kind of embarrassing but I’ve had the following dinner for two days in a row now: a microwavable boxed meal of rice, chicken, tofu, egg, and pork from 7-11.  Honestly though, I think I enjoy it so much because it offers a kimchi-like spicy cabbage substance. I guess I need some time to wean myself off of Korean food…

Boxed Taiwanese meal from 7-11

And this is for you JShay: Hualien mua-gee!  Commonly known as ‘mochi’ to westerners, it is a soft and glutinous rice ball filled with deliciousness.  It’s like an Asian version of the Dunkin Donuts munchkin with filling.  I purchased two varieties: (1) sesame-filled and (2) red bean-filled.  For your viewing pleasure:

Hualien Mochi. Yums.

Another thing I love about Taiwan: endless varieties of bottled unsweetened teas.  YUM.

Bottles of unsweetened tea galore!

…that being said, I am also obsessed with the slightly sweeter milk tea here.

And, I’m a sucker for odd design so here’s some bottled coffee that looks like shampoo:

Post-meal beverage or hair product?

* * * * *

On a somewhat unrelated note…as predicted before (click here for link), I got past the initial screening for the latest job I applied for.  I have been working on the secondary application and am waiting to confirm a phone interview.  Yay?  Yikes?  I don’t know, no comment.  I’m trying not to be happy because I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch.  Or is it eggs?

via animals.desktopnexus.com

* * * * *

Anyways, back to physical location.  Tomorrow I’ll be taking a 5-hour train to Kaohsiung, a city on the southern tip of Taiwan.  For the following couple of days I’ll be participating in a seminar on a mountaintop temple – internet availability is questionable so it might be a couple days until the next post.

Enjoy your today and have a pleasant tomorrow!

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117. Hello Hualien! A fine start and an artsy mood

August 2, 2011 § 3 Comments

ICN –> TPE

Got an upgrade to business class on my way to Taiwan.  Unnaturally, I wrote a hybrid poem-slash-rap about it. Enjoy.

Free upgrade to business class –

Got a plush seat under my ass;

Plenty of leg room I can do some

yoga up in here.

Champagne and orange juice in

fancy glasses always near.

Coat rack on the seats,

Good-looking flight attendants with

pitter-patter feet.

Girl next to me with duty-free galore is

flipping her hair and

flipping through magazines and

flipping through iphone tabs and

flipping tray tables and

flip flip flip flip flip.

.

Pitter-patter pitter-patter: “Excuse me miss,

would you care for some fine dime wine?” >:D

The seat-control panel for fancy people.  Wtf mate, does this make intuitive sense to anybody?

* * * * *

After my flight to Taipei I hopped on a train to Hualien, a coastal city located in northeastern Taiwan.  Three hours on the train and I didn’t feel sleepy, didn’t feel like reading or writing, and didn’t even feel like daydreaming!  I eventually found myself doodling  ^^

[edited: after reconsidering, I removed my last doodle because it was pushing the envelope for a completely public audience.  Thanks for understanding!  ^^]

* * * * *

Today was weird.  I was compelled to write poems and draw all day.  I almost felt possessed.  And I haven’t drawn in a long time so it was nice to see that I still had it within me :)

Anyways.  Here’s your first glimpse from Taiwan: a view of the eastern coast out into the Pacific Ocean.  The image does reality no justice at all because in reality the view is infinitely expansive and the gorgeous colors suck the life out of you and an automatic “WOW” escapes your lips as you start feeling all giddy inside.  It was a naturally-occurring larger-than-life-size Photoshop gradient with a million more fine-tuned colors illuminated by a shower of shimmering light.  ART IS NOTHING COMPARED TO NATURE.  NOTHING I SAY!!!!  :)

Okay people.  I’ve been commuting all day and my body is going to throw a fit if I sit still any longer.  Off I go to explore some more Connie/Jason/Julie-land.

加油!

Enjoy your day  :)

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