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


67. i heart breakfast

March 24, 2011 § 5 Comments

Freshly sliced sesame seed bread

As mentioned in a previous post, I am absolutely obsessed with the breakfast here.  After four hours of meditation and yoga asanas, we have our first meal of the day set amongst a lush green backdrop or by the poolside and eaten in complete silence with the exception of the gentle clinking of teacups and the morning symphony of birds, geckos, and cicaidas.

Lounging around in silence during breakfast

The food itself is fresh and nourishing while uncompromising in taste.  Served as a buffet, breakfast includes fresh seasonal fruit (which include mango, pineapple, dragonfruit, and a bunch of other exotic fruits i dont know the names of), eggs, three kinds of toast, hot oatmeal, chilled yogurt, and an assortment of mouthwatering toppings ranging from golden raisins to tahini to the best marmalade you’ll ever taste.  Drink options range from freshly squeezed juice to an assortment of herbal teas.

Nom. Topping options for oatmeal and yogurt: white and black sesame seeds, black and golden raisins, and oats.

Even more nom. Options for toast: butter, citrus sweet marmalade, mashed strawberry spread, fresh pineapple spread, tahini, and honey.

My daily indulgence: a slice of toasted cranberry-walnut bread, layered with a bit of melted butter topped with a coat of sweet citrus marmalade and a hint of salty tahini. Every bite takes you to a place of delicious foodgasm.  I usually don’t like butter, but due to the conservative amount of fat used during lunch and dinner, I find myself reacting with unusual pleasure to my daily dose of morning lard.


We are required to maintain absolute silence in the mornings from 6:00 to 11:00 AM so breakfast time is unusually quiet for a meal.  I love it.  In my opinion, eating your meals in silence is one of the most relaxing and effective methods for self modulation and appreciation.  (Though today I was so hungry that I ungracefully scarfed down way too much bread and felt sick afterwards.  Haha so much for yogic mindfulness.)

Healthier heaven. Hot oatmeal topped with black sesame seeds and and an assortment of raisins.

I don’t even know where I would start to describe the effects you start to feel during silent eating.  Listening to your body’s reaction as you nourish it, savoring each flavor while feeling the texture, and appreciating the culinary journey from soil to edible final product exponentially enhances a meal.  Though it may be the case that I enjoy silent meals so much because I feel uncomfortable with insistent mealtime chatter.  Heheheh…what I would do and claim to avoid awkward human interaction ^.^

I have a low tolerance for unnecessary human chatter, but I do love all encounters with kitty cats.  Like this one here, who determinedly stared at this plate of food before helping itself to a generous piece of butter.


Thanks for joining me for breakfast.  I wish you all the best :)

Morning journal session with a cup of tea


54. updates on real life

February 24, 2011 § 3 Comments

as the title suggests, these are just updates on real life. as opposed to the fluffy one in my head that i usually live in.

Daejeon, Korea - the view from ML's apartment

1.  i think i get really bad performance anxiety. or public speaking anxiety.  or just being-in-public anxiety.  i gave my second speech at toastmasters last monday and an hour before my speech my stomach was churning and i felt really gassy and i felt like i was going to throw up for the next 59 minutes.  during the next minute my whole body tenses up and i feel like someone is sucking all the air out of my muscles like when you squeeze the air out of plastic bags before you pack them into your suitcase.  i was also being reviewed by mr. honcho-toastmaster-man so that added to my nervousness.  but something odd happened when i got on the podium…i dont know what. i just gave the speech. nervousness faded and i just did what i had practiced…granted it wasn’t perfect, but people enjoyed it and they laughed at times too. some were even enthusiastic about it yay.  but anyways, after my speech i felt a rush of tension-relief and a major major migraine started building up and i couldnt get that stupid pounding out of my head.  i felt so drained. i think i put too much pressure on myself. chill out!

Nicolette, you will be missed :)

2. the first friend i made in Daejeon, Nico, is leaving next week. im quite sad. she’s just one of those people who knows how to brighten up a room no matter how gloomy the world may seem.  she wears her heart on her sleeve and i think its quite beautiful because her expressiveness is bold and brave yet quietly disarming.  she has this way of pulling people out of themselves.  her affection unwittingly causes those around her to let down their guard and spread affection themselves.  you just don’t meet these kinds of people everyday.  nico, monday nights just won’t be the same without you. <3

the lovely farewell dinner ML cooked. Homemade kimchi jjigae + premium steak. delicious.

3. i went on a foodie lunch date (aka eating overpriced but beautiful and delicious food in a trendy looking restaurant filled with rich housewives) in Seoul with LC, a college friend i hadn’t seen for a long time and it was lovely.

Seoul, Korea. Top: I had an avocado chicken pesto sandwich and LC had a salmon bagel thing.

4. ticket confirmed. visa confirmed. payments made. two Couchsurfing arrangements confirmed (For those of you who aren’t aware of what Couchsurfing is, it’s basically a network of people from all throughout the world who allow travelers to sleep on their couches).  im excited. though when i asked my Couchsurfing mentor about my concerns about being a lone female traveler this is what he responded with:

“…of course it can happen that someone feels attracted to you and tries to kiss you or seduce you, this is real life after all, but nobody will rape you…”

……comforting. -.-;;  but dont worry, i looked into people who had good peer reviews and i always have tricks up my sleeve to ward off creepsters.

rando cafe in Daejeon, Korea

5. i’ve been having this craving for musical creation, which is odd because i haven’t done anything musical for a long time now.  i composed/arranged some music and posted two of them on youtube and i currently have this one idea for a song and ive been working on the lyrics and i will record it this weekend and you guys should be excited because its uh…something that i normally don’t do.  in fact, i’ve never done anything like this before. and i will never do it in person.  ever.  so come back next week for a once-in-a-blue-moon moment of ridiculosity (yes, i know thats not a word. but i like it ^^).  Here’s a hint about what’s to come:

the inspiration behind my next video/project. look familiar? get excited. (source: screenshot on youtube)

6. Haven’t done this in a while – here are some amusing Engrish signs:

ewwwwww too many things about the text disturb me.

great box great box SHOES

The Korean standard of beauty includes a small face. Here you see part of a campaign by a korean plastic surgery center promoting their services.

that last sign really annoys me.  Engrish signs are usually understandably amusing but that one really irks me for some reason.  I know they mean “Do you want a small face” but all i can see is “Do you want TO small face” and it bothers me in explicable ways.  Like i’m really upset about it. It just makes no sense. at all.

7. last but not least, weird korean moment of the day: today as i was changing in the locker room, a lady comes up to me and picks off the hairs on my bare back.  awesome.

Goodnight from Korea

Hokay bedtime for me now.  thanks for stopping by and i wish you all a very lovely day!

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.



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!”





22. writer’s block

October 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

do you ever have days when life is busy but you feel stuck in a rut?  my days have been filled, but for some reason im not too compelled to write/photograph.  its odd. the stability of a routine is comforting but i have this complex where familiarity flattens inspiration. ive been exposing myself to different people and ideas and experiences, but korea as a whole is just not that fascinating to me.

and that got me wondering…are we internally or externally inspired? am i just easily bored or is my environment really boring?

a lot of psychology research suggests that your outlook is internally driven.  no one would doubt that korea has a lot to offer, but i also cant doubt that something within me feels dampened by this environment.  i dont feel as driven or stimulated as i used to.  i guess this is why people pick up hobbies and random stuffs after getting used to a 9-5 schedule.  i counteract this by constantly exposing myself to new ideas, reading, going to conventions, exploring the area, and anything else I can think to do amidst the routine parts of my day.  and in some ways, it works.  i love a good challenge, so i make sure everything i do has a component of mastery and learning in it (which ranges from cooking a particularly complicated dish to aiming for a high GRE score to trying my best to be a loving person…oddly enough the lattermost presents the most challenges -.-;;).  however, there is only so much internal drive one can have before becoming a bit restless. i hit my limit and i realized something was missing, but i had no idea what it was and why i was in a funk.

i discovered that missing piece last monday.  Every Monday, there is a Toastmasters International meeting at the Korean Advanced Institute of Technology (Korea’s MIT which is more commonly known as KAIST).  Toastmasters International is an organization that meets to improve public speaking and leadership skills.  I’ve been meaning to go the meetings since I’ve been in Daejeon, but every week something came up or I’d make excuses to not go.  I don’t know why this particular Monday prompted me to go, but it did.  Although I got frustratingly lost and showed up half an hour late, I’m really glad that I went.

I felt a rush of familiarity and comfort when i stepped onto the KAIST campus.  Not because I’ve ever been there, but because of the fact that I was walking in an institution where people are working to change the world.  The people around me were inspiring. I was walking amidst an environment full of people who were hard working, ambitious, creative, and intelligent.   The people at Toastmasters represented a variety of backgrounds – KAIST students, military veterans, foreign researchers, high school seniors, and professionals both young and old.  However, everyone was gathered there with the common goal of challenging and bettering themselves.  They were accomplished in their own different ways, and even though that was only my first meeting, I was hooked. And I stumbled upon one key point: it is important to surround yourself with people who inspire you.

my past self would gawk at that last statement.  I used to see complete self-sufficiency as the ideal state (kinda like China’s and India’s old economic policies) and considered interdependency a grave weakness.  While self realization is still a very important component for development, balancing that with environments and people that stimulate and inspire you will do wonders and give yourself that extra kick in the balls.

hmm so much for writers block. once i get writing i guess i write quite a bit ^^

anyways.  i made delicious musubi the other day! :D

spam musubi with grilled onions for the brobro

I made a tuna version for myself. i died a little.

and of course…amusing engrish/konglish/bootleg (you may have to look twice): how many ‘a’s’ in ‘adidas’?




19. uh oh

October 1, 2010 § 3 Comments

friday’s breakfast for the brobro: bbq ham, egg, and lettuce topped with honey mustard and homemade bechamel sauce. between slices of a butter-toasted bagel. yum.

well hello.  i wish i could come bearing some good news but im afraid this entry will be a bit bleak.  after my egg exploding fiasco from last entry, i took extra care not to blow anything up.  however, i did almost burned the house down.  i decided to heat up some soup on the stove and went across the apartment to work on the computer.  after some time, i remember smelling something delicious and thought ‘wow our neighbors are cooking something delicious,’ completely oblivious to the fact that the smell was actually my mom’s soup.  and then things started getting funky. my throat started itching and i smelt the grossness that could only be an overcooked pot burnt to the core.  i was wondering why our neighbors would let something burn for so long when i was hit by the realization that the smell was coming from our kitchen.

i dashed through the doors to the other side of the apartment and what i saw made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.  the kitchen and dining area were filled with a thick layer of smoke pouring out from the closed metal pot.  i was astonished that the fire alarm hadn’t been set off until I remembered that smoke detectors were nonexistent in our apartment.

cursing myself in a state of amused panic, i ran to the pot and turned the gas off, opened all the windows and doors, and then stared at the closed pot.  the smoke was still seeping through from inside and i just stood there, silently staring at the pot, willing it to be untarnished so i could escape my moms reprimands (it was a really nice pot. and a really delicious soup).

knowing that my efforts were futile, i finally got the balls to carry the pot outside and slowly opened the lid.  a gust of fresh smoke gushed out, and the stream of smoke that followed seemed to have no end from this bottomless pit of a pot.  it was actually kinda pretty, with the smoke reflecting off ambient light against the darkness, rushing through the wind in a steady pattern of waves before fading into the night sky.  and then i looked down at the pot and saw how charred and black and disgustingly melted everything was.

what remained didnt even look like it could’ve been food at some point in time.  it was just burnt black balls of stuff melted into the bottom of a burnt black pot.  i wouldve taken a picture except that i didnt want any visual evidence of this kitchen mishap roaming around the internet. it was too much. who knows, maybe ill run for office one day. i cant risk it.

BUT. ive had a very successful journey in the kitchen this past week since i started cooking for me and my brother.  i’ve made omurice, sweet sticky and spicy tofu/beef with vegetables, egg and shrimp fried rice, spaghetti with a garlic beef and potato sauce, toasted garlic bread topped with cheese, and szechwan shrimp with broccoli.  oh and that breakfast sandwich pictured above. yum. oh. and did you know then when you boil milk, there comes a point when the level of foam goes from 0 to 100% in a matter of milliseconds? so, if you are ever boiling milk, keep a close eye on it!  cooking makes me happy. ^^ it also helps when you have a brother who enthusiastically gobbles up the food. yay.

my maternal grandfather, a man who fought for survival on the streets after being orphaned at childhood.

so i guess in all seriousness and aside from kitchen adventures, one major thing thats going on is my mom’s health.  shes had severe respiratory distress symptoms for over a week but being the stubborn nurse that she is, she thought she could take care of herself until her symptoms went away.  thankfully, she agreed to go to the emergency room last friday and was admitted to the intensive care unit that same day.  she couldn’t breathe by herself – a minute without the oxygen mask and her blood oxygen levels dropped ten percent.  ten percent can seem minimal, but when your blood oxygen level should be at 97-99% to be fully functional, a ten percent decrease puts you at risk for organ failure.  currently, the doctors have diagnosed the symptoms, but they cant figure out the underlying cause. they will have to perform a biopsy this monday to get a better idea. lets hope for the best.

the night sky fading away the sunshine atop my grandparents’ farm

im trying to keep myself calm throughout all this but i cant say its been easy.  i spent the first day and night with her at the hospital and it was a bit nerve wracking. first, the emergency room is just a room of people in pain. and agonized waiting. some people are in so much pain but they have to wait so they scream and curse the hospital and demand treatment while their loved ones look on, pathetically helpless.  its worse when you see children or teenagers being rushed in, sweat on their brows with glazed eyes that seem to look at nothing and everything all at once.  and then you go to into the Intensive Care Unit and all is quiet.  for a moment you breathe a sigh of relief because you can finally hear your own thoughts and the chaos of the emergency room is far far away.  but then you look around and you notice the rows of patients, most of them withered and all of them hooked up to machines, and it hits you that its so quiet because most of the people in the room are silently waiting to die.  and then you realize your mom is being put in the same room with these people and you stand there, wondering wtf is going on.

looking over his land

that night i watched her as doctors made their rounds and as nurses came in and out.  my mom has had four surgical procedures this past year so i knew she was physically unwell, but watching it firsthand was so much more different than hearing about it through the phone halfway across the world.  i woke up at 5am to her screaming in pain because a nurse couldn’t find the right artery to draw blood from and my mom’s nerves, raw and sensitive from a previous spinal procedure, were amplifying the sharpness that already comes from being stabbed multiple times by a needle.  i was torn between wanting to strangle the nurse for his incompetence and feeling sorry for him because he has no choice but to do his job.

a makeshift storage facility he built

i wanted to be strong for her. i wanted to tell her that i could spend another night with her but i betrayed myself with a sense of relief when she insisted i go home.  i couldn’t stand being in that room any longer.  its interesting though – im a very visual person, but the auditory signals are what strike me hard when it comes to these emotions. ive watched live brain surgeries, witnessed babies getting giant cysts cut out of their heads as they lay awake and conscious, seen surgeons shove a metal rod up a person’s leg, and much more, all without a flinch of discomfort but apparently i cant listen to people cry out in pain without wanting to shoot myself in the foot. nothing makes you feel as helpless as you do when you hear someone, especially your own mother, scream in pain. i am so glad im not going to be working in a hospital.  all you pre-med, med school, and nursing peers out there, you all are brave people, and im glad you exist because the world needs people who can directly face the pain of others.

walking up to visit his parents and his wife

hmm. this post has shifted moods quite a bit hasnt it?  i apologize if i’ve made you uneasy, but we all know life isnt always rainbows and butterflies.  thanks for reading :)

traditional Korean graves. From bottom up: my maternal grandmother, my great grandparents, and a heap of dirt.

and as promised, i take my leave with some amusing english: luxury sexy business. where i truly belong.

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