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Feline adoration April 30, 2009

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I have, as long as I can remember, always loved cats.  I like animals of all sorts, but felines are certainly my favorite out of the bunch.  Perhaps it’s because much of my behavior is like theirs, so I feel a connection.  Last night I ran into a plump kitty lounging around outside on my walk home.  Being the first time that I had come across a cat and I wasn’t headed anywhere or with anyone, I decided to stop to pet it.  I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl, but it certainly enjoyed my stroking and scratching.  I was reaching out pretty far, so I tried to shift to move closer, but that scared it a few feet away.  I considered trying to approach it again, but it takes some time for cats to trust you, so I decided that was enough for the night and headed back.  As I made my way back to Marylin’s, I thought of my beloved cats and how sad I am to not have them anymore.

The first cat I ever had got some sort of disease and had up to 90% of her lungs filling up with fluid before we found out and put her down.  That was the first time my dad and I cried together.  Actually, that’s the only time I can remember.  The second one we got had the longest life of them all and got sick recently, dying just on or past Christmas day 2008.  He was in China and my parents and I were in Cancun for the break.  I wish he could have held out for my dad to get back to him.  Then the third one we had just disappeared one day almost six years ago.  My mom is convinced that the coyotes or owls in the neighborhood caught him.  He was always a rambunctious one, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he ventured too far.  We’ll never really know what happened to him, but I can always hope that someone took him in and he’s happily squeezing himself into their sinks for his naps now.


This is Jerriey, our second kitty, curled up on my favorite blanket.

Lately cats have been on my mind a lot because one of Panda and my friends got herself a little kitten that was found on site for a Habitat for Humanity project.  That reminded me of the three other times I have come across cats that I really wanted to adopt.  First was a little black kitten we found at a club in the Echo Park area.  It was my first day on site for the filming of Wristcutters: A Love Story and this little guy was found hanging out in the back area where the crew hung out as we waited through shots.  I named her Echo (I think the club was named that too) and gave her a lot of attention.  In fact, I even managed to convince the club owner to adopt her, since I couldn’t.  Next was a pair of kittens, brought to us on Wilshire Boulevard.  Katana and I were just walking along in Westwood when this kid comes running up to us and asks if we’d like to adopt kittens.  We looked at each other with those yearning eyes.  In our hearts, we really wanted to.  In our minds, we knew we couldn’t.  So, we only glimpsed the kittens he held in his hands, swaddled in his clothing before we sadly had to say no.  We watched as he ran down Westwood Boulevard and talked about how we could make it work.  Then, in the spur of a moment, we decided to go with our hearts and take them.  We went after the boy, but didn’t know where he had gone.  I looked to my left and noticed a pet store, so we went in.  The boy had just handed over the pair and when we tried to take them now, the store owner said she’d have to take them in for various shots and clean them up before we could come back to adopt them.  Sigh.  In the weeks after, we thought long and hard about how we could do this, even thinking we’d name them Boba and Udon (one was black and one was grey).  Unfortunately, practicality won out in the end and we never did go back for them.  Finally, the third came when I was volunteering at a cat home.  A tiny grey kitten was confined in a box with a plastic facing so we could see.  She was held there because she was still being treated after being rescued from Hurricane Katrina and, consequently she was named Katrina.  I loved that little cat from the seconds we got to spend with her before turning our attention to the cats we could interact with.  Just the way she cocked her head when she looked at us was adorable enough for me to want her.  Unfortunately, I was still in school at the time and my dad had left the country, so it was just my mom taking care of the one cat we still had.  But I wanted a kitten to raise myself.

This is a dream I’ve held for years and years, ever since I got to carry little Jerriey home from the shelter, so cute and loveable.  He spent the whole time purring, which is what won me over.  I have mentioned this desire many a time and though he started off first not comfortable with the idea, he is now more open to it.  Granted, we had to have a whole hullabaloo of a… discussion over it, but he’s willing to consider it at least.  To me, having a cat is almost more important than having kids.  Not only are they nice to cuddle up with, their purring is good for your health.  They are very independent and don’t require much attention or care, which is how I live my life.  They train very easily, from going to use the litter box when nature calls to coming to eat dinner with the banging out a plate.  I also like to crawl into small spaces and squeeze myself into strange positions to sleep.  And come on, there’s a reason we call it the "catwalk" – they’re beautiful and graceful creatures!  Cats are highly misunderstood animals.  People take their independence for aloofness, much as they do with me.  And I think that is why I defend and adore them so much.  I’m misunderstood too.

Well, my dream of owning a cat is still very far off, sadly.  I have to wait until I’m settled enough to keep one with me.  I have to make sure I have the funds to buy all the food, litter, and catsitting services I would need to take care of it.  Thankfully, they love very simple little toys, so just a little catnip and some string or crumpled newspaper can do the trick.  Once I feel like I have the resources and capabilities to finally care for a cat of my own, I hope Panda will be ready to have one too (or maybe more).  He doesn’t even need to do a thing.  I’ll buy everything, scoop the kitty litter, feed them, play with them, and arrange for their care when/if we are away.  All he has to do is let me have one.  For now, he has agreed to catsit our friend’s kitten if she ever needs us to and we will go visit her after I get back.  I hope he likes that experience so he’ll be willing to have one of our own.

Back in high school Katana and I would joke about how we’d grow old and have properties next to each other, each with certain natural formations that we want (like a waterfall for me), and we’d both have houses full of cats.  (This was back when we imagined ourselves as old maids, never having been able to truly settle down.  I guess it could still work with men in our lives, as long as they allowed all the cats.)  At night, we’d both go out and sit on our rocking chairs on our porches to enjoy the nightfall, either knitting or petting a cat.  We’d have our houses close enough that we could see each other, but our property large enough for ponds and creeks and forests and whatnot.  I think it’d be great if we do end up that way.  Yup, we have all the makings ofbecoming crazy cat ladies.

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Earth Hour – a reflection personal passions March 28, 2009

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It was 8:05 PM when I opened up my planner to pen an event into it.  Suddenly, a reminder of Earth Hour was staring up at me.

"25 minutes!" I gasped.

"What are you talking about?" asked Marylin as Zen peered at me quizzically.

"Earth Hour!  We’ve got to turn off our lights for Earth Hour!"  I looked over at Zen: "You signed us up!"

And so, we all changed our plans to meet this commitment we had made by pledging our support for Earth Hour.  Rather than continue to work in the office as we had thought we were going to do, we headed out to eat some dinner.  Ok, so we cheated a little and didn’t confine ourselves to the dark.  But hey, we did turn off our lights!  We just went to take advantage of lights that were already on, that is all.

Being that recycling and conservation are the very things I want to build a company around someday, it was important for me that people are aware and care for causes like these.  Lately I’ve been going to a lot of informative sessions about various organizations in Singapore that are meant for the betterment of people.  There are the various divisions of the People’s Association, like Family Life, which is meant to promote the quality and importance of family life.  There is the Urban Redevelopment Authority, with plans to add infrastructure throughout town and expand and improve nature areas.  There are the efforts of the Yellow Ribbon Project to bring awareness and acceptance to ex-offenders, offering them a second chance at their lives.

And then, there’s Marylin’s passion for people with disabilities, which I’ve heard a good bit of lately.  Let’s not forget Zen’s love for the people in his life, which is pervasive in all that he does.  All this makes me wonder: for all the love I feel I have for people, why am I more interested in volunteering with animals and the environment?  Perhaps it is because I see it as my time to connect with the world and, in a sense, meditate.  It’s much easier to do that when your interactions don’t require conversations.  I’ve also always felt a huge connection with nature, finding the most peace in getting away from people and society.  I want to preserve that aspect of this world.  The things that live by their own rules and not ours.

So, sometime down the line, I want to create an environmental consultancy.  I don’t have the background to really go into air and water pollution stuff or how infrastructure can be built to be most efficient, but I can definitely become an expert in the types of materials and processes that are environmentally friendly for building with.  Mostly though, I want to advise organizations on how to create an effective recycling program, ways they can conserve on energy, alternative sources of power that can be employed, and also provide training for their members to promote awareness of these issues and show them why they should care.  I can also have seminars explaining how everyone can reduce their carbon footprints and offer easy solutions to greener lives.

As for the interest in animals, I absolutely adore cats (though I do like all creatures), so I think that will just be a personal pursuit for now.  I’m still trying to convince Panda to let me raise at least one cat.  Katana and I always used to joke that we’d grow old and be "crazy cat ladies" living next door to each other.  Though I don’t want to be stepping over them at home, I wouldn’t mind two or even three.  For now, I’ll have to wait it out and then find a shelter nearby with cats to volunteer at.  I’d really like to start a cat shelter myself, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to give any of them away.  Ever.  Maybe I’ll look into championing spaying and neutering and adopting from shelters.

Amethyst: my gemstone of choice March 12, 2009

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I am often inspired to write my personal opinion or a follow-up to what Katana has been writing.  I follow her feminist fitness blog, professional blog, and Associated Content material closely and as of late, she’s been a superstar in posting for AC!  Awhile back, she posted an entry about an engagement ring and today Lin and I were talking about such things, so I felt it was appropriate to delve into it a little more.

Katana’s article was about her how fiance wants to get an emerald on her engagement ring, partly because of his Irish heritage, but also partly because of their rarity and value.  It was fascinating for me to learn more about this gemstone, so I did my own follow-up research online to read more about it.  I was inevitably led to links for a variety of gemstones and one of them caught my eye: amethyst.  As far as I remember, it has been my favorite gemstone ever since I learned it existed.  Previously I was interested in blue sapphires, but purple is my favorite color, so that was quickly booted upon my new knowledge.

Now, it may not be a very precious gemstone, but I have never been one for expensive taste.  What I do like, as I have mentioned time and time again, is the sentiments and meaning behind things.  So, naturally, I started to do some research on what amethyst is known for and why it is valued.  I came across some very interesting information that coincides well with my preferences, so of course now I’m all the more convinced that if I were ever to get a nice fancy ring, it would feature amethyst.

For one, "amethyst is unique with its coloring," which appeals greatly to me and my personal taste for all things purple.  I do prefer darker, more blueish purples than the redder type, but I pretty much like all shades.  "If you get the right amethyst stone you can get a very deep and beautiful purple color that you cannot get with any other gemstone."  Other things I learned from this site I am referencing are that amethyst is less costly because of its availability and easiness to cut.  It has a lot of historical significance and monarchs and popes have been known to wear them.  Purple is the "royal color," after all.

According to the Wikipedia article, the Greeks and Romans used amethyst to ward off intoxication, which tickles my fancy because that can play off of how I don’t drink.  There are various stories surrounding it in Greek mythology, which I am fascinated with (both the stories and the mythology).  I even took a course in Greek mythology for fun!  Also, it is relatively hard, scoring a 7 on Mohs Scale, so it’s good for wear and tear.

The best color grade for it is called Deep Siberian/Russian (depends on the source what it’s called).  Doesn’t that just sound so cool?  Plus, it used to be one of (what is now) the cardinal four: diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald.  However, since it is now much more accessible after more deposits were discovered, they aren’t valued as much anymore.  I also love that it is the birthstone for February, zodiac stone for Pisces, and that I once went to Fowler with Panda and we came across some.  I even taught him how to pronounce it, haha.  A little bit of personal history adds so much meaning.

"It is a symbol of heavenly understanding, and of the pioneer in thought and action on the philosophical, religious, spiritual, and material planes."  Now though I am not striving for heavenly understanding, I certainly am working for more understanding all the time.  As for being a pioneer in thought and action, I’m all for that!  It could be a symbol and reminder of my goals to be a leader and inspiration.

So with all this talk about precious gemstones, I couldn’t help but look into engagement/wedding rings, since that’s what triggered this whole research endeavor.  That led me to this fun list of anniversary presents!  So cute and a totally fun, cheesy thing I’m into.

Thoughtful friends make my heart sing February 25, 2009

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You know when you think it’s just another meet-up with your friend and then BAM you arrive and it’s a surprise party for you?  Well if you haven’t experienced this, it’s just about the coolest thing ever.  If you have, then you know the utter shock and amazement that washes over you when it dawns on you what is happening.  And yes, I am writing about this because it happened to me today (well, I guess technically yesterday now).

February 24th was cut out to be a special day.  I thought it was because it was my boyfriend’s birthday.  I thought it was because it’s Mardi Gras.  But more than that, it turned out to be a special day for me!  After spending as much time as I could with Panda this afternoon, I had a few hours to kill before I was scheduled to meet up with my friend "Shadow" for dinner.  I decided to head over to the student store after parking my car, which turned out to be a fortunate decision – I ended up running into an old friend and an alum from my co-ed business fraternity, AKPsi.  It was great to catch up and I was happy that I didn’t end up bored out of my mind for three hours.

Eventually I headed back to the residential halls to get ready to meet up with Shadow, but since I was early, I decided to drop by and say hi to some old friends.  They weren’t in, but luckily, I happened to see them in the window of one of the eateries on campus.  As if that wasn’t enough excitement for a day, I also ran into another friend there!  We all made some plans to meet up later this week before I fly out on Sunday.  Eventually, it came time to head down to the restaurant that Shadow and I were going to eat at.

As she and I walked to the car, I babbled about how I didn’t want to walk down so I’d drive the car and try to get a metered spot in front.  Then we could get our food and park somewhere else to eat in the car.  She calmly agreed to this silly plan and we drove down, coming across a 30-minute spot that had 30 more minutes until they stopped checking meters.  Perfect.  I even babbled out loud about how I could keep the spot now, even though we shouldn’t need it since our food shouldn’t take that long.  Well, I didn’t realize just how fortunate that was!  It freed me up to stay happily put at the restaurant once we did arrive and she hurriedly pushed open the door to reveal three other friends, waiting there for us!

I was completely oblivious this whole time, haha, which worked out just as it needed to.  It was so amazing to see those lovely faces that I haven’t gotten to see in months!  Gosh, I am still thrilled about it now, hours later and even as exhaustion kicks in.  Additionally, Shadow got me this amazing gift baggie with UCLA gear to remind me of my alma mater, some candy for my sweet tooth, and even some gum, since it’s banned in Singapore.  I’m not sure I’m allowed to bring it in, but it’s cute.

A few years back, Katana also did something similar for me, arranging a surprise birthday party.  Sometimes I can’t believe I actually thought I was going to her house for lunch with her parents!  Haha, I can be so gullible when it comes to social gatherings.  Instead of a warm family gathering, I walked into their hosue and found a dining room overflowing with gifts and food, and most importantly, good company!  What a special day that was.

The point of all this is just to express how grateful I am to have friends like this.  Those who take the time and care to arrange these get-togethers and lure me to them.  I feel so blessed that they would go to that trouble and I really wish I was better at these things.  I am a hugely sentimental person and I appreciate thoughtful gifts so much more than anything of great value.  That is why these things speak so much to me – it takes careful thought to plan and execute them!  That sort of effort means so much more to me than anything that can be bought.

I want to explore what I am good at and find a creative way to turn that into something that I can do for my friends, in turn.  I remember when I used to be the picture-taker, Katana used to be the writer, and Elle used to be the CD-maker in our little trio.  We each had our own niche and that is how we shared with each other.  I want to do something special akin to the whole party-throwing thing, like make an artful collage or mini photo album or scrapbook.  Something that will be signature "me."  At the same time, these little meaningful gatherings are a classic and I’d really like to do them.

Love in midair… the ups and downs of Valentine’s Day February 15, 2009

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In the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d include a cute thing Panda and I came across today as we were wandering the windy roads of Bel Air and driving up and down Mulholland Drive trying to find the best scenic overlooks.  The plane continued on to spell something like Mio, but we lost sight of it, so I never did figure it out.

As for my post-Valentine’s Day report, all in all it was a most splendid day, starting at the painfully early hour of 8 and lasting until midnight.  We got a delicious dim sum brunch before wandering the roads and discovering some random places.  We hung out for a bit before heading out to Santa Monica, where we were going to have dinner.  At first we tried Benihana’s, but the wait was two hours!  -___-  So, we went over to Buddha’s Belly instead, where they told us it was a 45-minute wait, but we got seating in no more than 20.

I love that place because of its chocolate fondue dessert platter.  The food is always interesting and has a fresh taste I’m not used to, since it’s an Asian fusion type of place.  They have the coolest plates and bowls too (and I, ever so easy to entertain, am immensely amused by this fact).  Following that, it was getting late, so we headed back towards campus to hang out some more.

In the morning, Panda had given me a card that I wanted to read when we had peace and quiet alone to enjoy.  So, sitting together at night, I opened the card and he read it to me.  It was seriously the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.  He had managed to find a card with a really long quote that described his feelings for me wonderfully.  Then, his message was so eloquent and heartfelt it made me cry (with joy, of course).  It was the best end to a spectacular day.

Now that I look at this picture, I realize I should have taken a panoramic picture to share the immensity of this valley.  This is the view from the Bel Air Presbyterian Church, looking out on the San Fernando Valley.

When I got home, I found an e-mail from Katana, outlining her contrasting experience: after painstakingly preparing gifts for her boyfriend to present today, she got the ultimate letdown when he didn’t even remember the occasion.  It’s a sad thing when one person cares so much and the other puts in no effort.  For such a memorable day, my Valentine’s was nearly just as dismal.

You see, last weekend when I was visiting Panda, I tried casually asking him what he was doing this Saturday – he was headed home for the long weekend.  Crushed, we then spent the next hour or so talking about why I was upset with him.  It’s not so much that I need to celebrate the holiday, but I did want to see him and it hurt when it seemed like he didn’t even bother to think about it.  Had I not asked, I may very well have been alone today, moping at home.

So, though I had a fabulous time, it didn’t come without a fight.  I often need to give Panda a little push (or big shove) in the right direction for him to get a clue as to what he’s supposed to do.  No, I don’t ask for gifts from him and yes, I pay for my own meals.  I’m not into material things; I much prefer his time and attention.  Then there are things like these where the consideration should at least be discussed, but he just doesn’t seem to understand that it’s important to me.  I mean, it is an internationally recognized holiday after all, whether you like to celebrate it or not.  Doesn’t that at least deserve a mention?  Sometimes it amazes me how thick-headed guys can be.

I suppose this is something I should get used to, always throwing out clues and hinting about what he should be doing and resorting to outright telling him when he doesn’t pick up on the signals.  Successful relationships need good communication and it seems that extra effort is needed when it comes to this particular area.  It just would be nice if he could figure it out on his own and surprise me (like he did with that card) a little more often.  Perhaps he’ll learn with time…  When it comes down to it though, it’s like he said – we will work together and work to understand each other.

A reflection on college: what is it for? February 9, 2009

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Those of you active on facebook have probably been tagged in the "25 random things about me" note by this point.  In case you haven’t it’s this note that someone started by writing 25 tidbits about him/herself (I’m just going to pretend this was a girl and use the appropriate pronouns) and tagging 25 people who she wanted to learn more about.  You are supposed to include whoever tagged you as well, so they can read what you wrote.  I think it’s the most passed-on note of all facebook history.  After I’d been tagged a few times, I decided it was my turn to continue the trend and I found myself reflecting on college:

"After I graduated, I thought I’d miss college a lot. Surprisingly, I’m ok. Possibly because I am still there all the time (at least once a week), but I think also because this is the only time I can get away with weeks of not having something/somewhere I had to go, certain times I have to get up, and no deadlines to meet. I spent a lot of time watching TV shows, which I haven’t done since middle school – Gilmore Girls, House, Pushing Daisies, and now Lie to Me. Now that I’m all but caught up on the last episodes of House and Lie to Me, I’ve been filling my time with a lot of reading. To some extent I’m learning a lot more than I ever did in school. From career advice to relationship advice, Asian American perspectives to Gen Y opinions, I’m covering a lot of ground. The great thing is everything I’m learning is useful!

Looking back and reading others’ thoughts on college is making me think of it more as a place to blossom and learn about yourself than to really learn anything concrete for your future. To some extent, yes, there are facts and figures to be remembered. But for the most part, it’s about figuring out what you want to do, how you interact with people, where you fit in the world, the type of people you should surround yourself with, etc. Except for highly specified fields, the degree you walk away almost never tells anything about your future. (I just realized this is starting to sound like something that should be a blog post. Sorry. I’ll go write up an entry on this instead.)"

Here I am, making good on that promise.

I’ve read articles on why this guy regretted getting straight A’s in college, tips on what college students should do to prepare themselves for their professional future, and a personal account of lessons learned outside the college classroom.  It all made me realize that there’s a bigger picture here, beyond the quest for perfect grades.

We enter college thinking that this is our ticket to that job we wanted.  And in many ways, it is.  Just not the way you’d expect.  People spend so much time agonizing over what major to study, what classes to take, and what school to go to in the first place.  Yet what matters more are the people you’ll meet, the skills (and not so much the facts) you’ll learn, and the experience you can look back on.

What should you be capitalizing on?  Networking, self-discovery, and lessons in life.  The spectrum of people you meet in college will trounce any high school experience you’ve had (unless you’re going to some small private university meant for a very specific demographic).  It is important to notice the types of people you get along with, the types who rub you the wrong way, and your interactions with them.  Life is largely composed of relationships and looking at your interactions with people can tell you a lot about your personality and preferences.

When I look back on my time at UCLA and studying abroad at the University of York, I hardly cherish the facts drilled into me as much as how my friends, organizations, and even living situations have shaped me.  From them, I have learned that I enjoy company and never want to live alone.  They have shown me how much I love to travel and meet new people in foreign cultures.  They have shown me how loyal I can be and what motivates me to get things done.  They have even taught me a bit about relaxation and what soothes me in stressful times.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to know yourself.  What are your passions?  What are your fears?  It is only when you begin to understand the "why" behind the "what" that you can apply that knowledge towards personal fulfillment.  Find what drives you and use that to motivate you towards your goals.  And while it’s important to be aiming for something, it’s also important to know how you can get there while enjoying yourself.

The idea is to not take things at face value, but look for the deeper lessons to be learned.  Lessons about you as a person and how you fit into the world.  College is a great place for you to meet the best and brightest to learn with.

Side note:
One of the great things about blogging (or keeping a private journal/diary) is your ability to look back and see how much you’ve changed.  I kept a blog for about two years in the early stages of my college career and when I went back to read what I had written so long ago, I was surprised to notice how things have progressed.  Even if you don’t have access to that type of insight, I don’t know anyone who looks back on college and thinks, "Oh yeah, just another four years of my life."  No, college is life-altering.  Take advantage of it.

Etsy: eBay, handcrafted February 7, 2009

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Recently, I discovered etsy.com through Katana, who has now set up shop on the site.  Etsy is a place for people to sell handmade items, ranging from jewelry to soaps to no-wedgie underwear and pillows!  I absolutely adore the novelty of this place and the allure that customizations can often be made by request and many of these items are original and unique.  It’s a fun place to explore, but handmade items come at a price!  So, for now, I won’t be purchasing anything, but when I’m ready to splurge, this adorable, simple necklace is first on my list!

I really like how this site took something that seemed outdated and brought a whole new life to it.  In the olden days, people made their own stuff because they had to.  All merchants chose to specialize in something for local customers and townspeople only had those choices.  Now, it’s like having one big village!  People from all over the world can browse what each person is good at and specializes in and sellers can change items per customer’s request.  It’s so much cooler to have something that you know is special, whether it was because you chose the color combination or you may have even contributed to the design!

The world really is getting smaller, isn’t it?  That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as a sense of community is maintained and people don’t always retreat to their online havens.

Twitter revolution February 6, 2009

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For the past couple of hours, I have been entrenched in the world of blogs and Twitter, which seem to be at the forefront of social media.  I continued the slow trudge through the rest of the entries that Jess Goodman wrote on her blog after writing my previous entry and started to get curious about social media.  Link after link of related material led me to various blogs of famous writers, career coaches, entrepreneurs, and anyone else who has embraced this new trend.  I still have over twenty tabs open in my browser of blogs to visit and ideas to research.  It’s crazy!

What hit me recently (sometime between the last post and this) was the emerging phenomenon of Twitter.  Alarmingly, I haven’t a clue what it is or how to utilize it, but after reading up on it, it seems it is the new direction of the online community. I am sad to realize that as much as I pride myself on adapting quickly and being rather tech-savvy, I have been left behind on this front.  Thankfully, it’s not too late to get in on it, but to some extent I don’t want to.  I never really thought of myself as a traditionalist at heart, but I’m starting to see that part of me emerge.  I don’t want to learn about this "tweeting" and all the new lingo associated with it.  I don’t want to give up my Yahoo account for a Gmail one.  I don’t want internet access on my cell phone.  I don’t want to learn how to use a Mac.  I don’t want the pace of life to pick up even more!  But, it is the age of connectivity and sooner or later, that is how things will be.

Back when Facebook first began in 2004, I was graduating high school and resistant to this new concept.  It wasn’t until a friend whose judgment I respected greatly invited me to join that I decided to set up a profile.  Since then, I’ve never looked back and I absolutely adore what the site has done for me.  As a child, I moved every three to four years, and as a result of that, lost touch with most of my friends from my youth.  What memories I did hold of these lost friends enabled me to find them years later, on Facebook!  It was a great way to reunite with all those people who I had to move away from and now it is an amazing way to share the extensive amount of pictures that I take.  Throughout the evolution of Facebook, I have kept an open mind and though I am generally not a fan of the applications and the newsfeed made me a little concerned, I have always known that after the initial uproar, people would learn to use those new features.  It amazes me that time and time again, people will resist change, but then slowly they will adapt to it and forget how life ever was without it.

Now with the Twitter revolution, I feel like I am back in the summer before college, trying to decide if this trend was just a fad or something to start getting involved in.  And though I may not be entirely comfortable with it starting out, I will give it a try.  After all, it seems like every avid blogger (including my best friend)  is obsessed with Twitter.  There’s got to be a reason for that, right?

Blogworthy? February 4, 2009

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I have spent a lot of time these past two days reading people’s blogs, mostly about the guy biking all over the Americas and Africa and the aforementioned Brazen Careerist founder’s.  I also read through one about three guys longboarding their way through South America.  All this makes me want to have a strong theme to my writing as well, but I can’t help but write about all aspects of my life.  I don’t really have a focus for a target audience, though I feel like I should have one.  I’m also trying to come up with a good title for the blog that would encompass the right ideas and give the right impression I’m looking for.

As of yet, I’m having trouble with this – perhaps I am going to need to do what Katana is doing and have two blogs to achieve this goal: one for personal writing and anecdotes, the other for a more professional and focused front.  So, I think I am going to continue to write about all sorts of thoughts that cross my mind here until I am ready for a pro blog, which will ideally go on my own website (which I still need to have).  Thankfully, maryqin.com is not taken and a quick search of my name yields all but one result for me on the first page.  I am hoping that the other Mary Qins out there don’t steal that domain name before I get to it.  I doesn’t look likely, but who knows.

An important decision: Singapore February 2, 2009

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My best friend’s blog inspired me to pick up writing again and now one that she referenced has inspired me to take an incredible job opportunity abroad.  It started off when Katana mentioned Penelope Trunk’s entry on how that isn’t her real name.  This caught my eye not only because I use something other than my birth name, but also because Ms. Trunk started the website Brazen Careerist that Katana had recommended to me as a networking tool.  Interested both in the story behind her alias and background as an entrepreneur (especially a woman entrepreneur, which seems a lot harder to find), I went to her blog.

At first, I was unimpressed.  Here was a woman who had changed her name multiple times and wrote about it in a quirky writing style that didn’t suit me.  All those changes made her seem flighty, almost shady.  I had been expecting some sort of great revelation that led to her current name, but she didn’t even choose it.  The first time she changed her name would have made a good story, but the other times it was just giving in to pressures.  After reading the article, I hoped a second reading would show me something I had missed.  I was about to start on that when other links distracted me and before I knew it, I was engulfed in the opinionated advice of a career woman.

From working as a professional to working as a mother, tips on relationships to advice for the future, she covered a lot of ground.  I found what she wrote to be thought-provoking, whether or not I agreed with it (and mostly, I found I did).  She referenced Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, multiple times, which won brownie points for me – I have read the book twice and will probably continue to read it in the coming years, or at least remind myself of the lessons held therein.

Hours later, I was still reading, scouring every entry that had an interesting title.  I read about her experience beinga block away from the World Trade Center as it collapsed, why graduate school has become a deadend, why working any job is better than taking nothing, how changing jobs should be in the normal course of a career, how my generation is unique professionally, that failure will come and failure will go (and only those things worth doing will make you doubt your ability to accomplish them), and so many other lessons.  Most were lessons I knew in the back of my mind, but never really took to heart.  Some were new concepts that just made sense.  And somewhere in the midst of all this, I realized that I needed to stop living in denial.

I want to take the opportunity in Singapore.  I am going to stop being afraid of failing, I am going to stop being afraid of disappointing, and I am going to try.  I may not have a definite plan, but I have goals, dreams, aspirations.  I have a vision.  It’s time to stir my passion and just go for it.  It’s not going to be easy and it will take a lot of time, energy, and effort, but what better time than now?  I have the least to lose – no job to quit, no family to care for, no rent or mortgage or loans to deal with.  I will, however, be terribly sad to be so far from Panda.  He is supportive of my hopes and career choices though, so we can work through it.  I need to stop being so scared of how difficult it will be to not see him for months when I can’t even go a week without going crazy.  Because you know what?  Once I’m over there, working, learning, growing, it won’t seem as bad as when I’m sitting here like a couch potato, with no real plans and no schedule to adhere to.  Plus, I’ll be living with Marylin!  I’m sure my "twin" can help me get through rough times and we can commiserate, since her boyfriend is also here in California (albeit up north).