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Swimmer’s high May 2, 2009

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I finally made it to the pool again after months on inactivity.  Though it felt awkward to try to work out in a bikini (pity I didn’t bring my competition gear with me), I managed to still get some decent exercise in.  I’m so used to the comfort of a one-piece suit, cap, and goggles that I didn’t exactly know what to do with myself without.  I figured I could just tread water and do some endurance exercises that way, so I started off just doing a casual freestyle kick, keeping my chin just above the water.  After awhile, that got boring, so I curled up my knees and tread with just my hands.  From there, I did variations of strokes, from a breaststroke with my head above the water to doing some freestyle kick drills on my sides.  Every time I get in the water I’m tempted to do the butterfly, which is my favorite stroke, but alas, in a suit like mine today, I was in great danger of losing my top half that way.  So instead, I satisfied myself with some simple exercises that may not raise my heart rate a great deal, but certainly required a certain amount of strength and endurance.

By the time I got out, I felt great.  My face was flushed and my heart rate had increased.  That’s one of my favorite parts of working out – getting to that flushed stage where you know you’ve pushed your body beyond its normal resting state.  I felt so at peace that I began to wonder if there’s such a thing as a swimmer’s high.  It seems pretty commonly recognized that there’s a runner’s high, but does the same go for swimming?  I have not been able to find anything online to back me up, but there’s a certain feeling that I get when I’m doing the fly and everything is in sync.  You get into a rhythm and inertia kicks in.  It’s almost harder to stop that flow of action than to continue on with it.  Unfortunately, the pool can only be so long and that stroke tends to be very taxing on the body, so at some point gravity’s influence becomes more apparent and it slows things down.  But for those couple of beautiful seconds, everything just feels so right.

If there was such a thing as a swimmer’s high, it could only really be achieved in freestyle (at least that’s how I feel).  Fly is too demanding, breast is too technical, and backstroke is too disruptive.  I’m not saying it’s not possible, but from what I understand, it should last quite a long time and for any of the other strokes, it’d be more difficult to accomplish.  To start off with, people tend to swim proper strokes in a pool, which of course requires flip-turns every couple of seconds.  That in itself, though integrated into the process, can be disruptive.  Runners can get themselves to move to a beat and maintain that for virtually as long as they want.  Swimmers must pause their rhythm to add in the occasional glide, flip, push-off, kick-off, and resurfacing.  In open water swimming, this phenomenon might be easier.  At least for freestyle, the stroke motion going into a flip-turn is similar to what you are already doing.  Maybe it’s just the way I swim, but I think it’d be easiest to get into a groove with freestyle.

I miss the lull of the water, the smell of the chlorine, and the whole atmosphere surrounding training and competition.  From wearing swim parkas and Uggs around the pool to helping be the counter for those swimming the 500 free, I really enjoyed being on swim teams.  I liked how it felt to have the water rushing by me and bubbles flowing around.  I loved playing with Sammies (those super absorbant towels) and the beauty of a perfectly executed backstroke start.  I enjoyed practicing my dives and finishes, especially when there was a touchpad present!  I liked how professional I felt when I wore a drag suit for added resistance in training.  I even had a blast at the swim camps at Mt. Holyoke, where we did dryland circuits until I could barely move, then hopped in the water for more working out.  It was a lifestyle that I will always miss, just like my track and field days and my military training days.

Back when I was a sophomore in high school, I got invited to go to Australia with other swimmers from around the country, to compete against some of the swimmers down under.  This was with the International Sports Specialists, Inc. who run Down Under Sports.  It was an awesome time, from the places that we went (Sydney, Gold Coast, and then Waikiki Beach in Hawaii) and the people we met (these guys who were there playing soccer took us around).  I don’t remember much of the meet, except that Aussies are freaking fast and we couldn’t beat them, but we had a great time and it was a great bonding experience.  I used to have a t-shirt with all the people from the New York team on it, but I lost it long ago.  I also managed to misplace the sweatshirt I bought from them, as well as the Bond University one that we girls decided to get when we went there for a visit.  It’s a pity – those were great memories of an unparalleled two weeks.

I have always had a pleasant experience with the water, from my childhood splashing around in pools to middle school when I first learned the four strokes to high school where I helped start the swim team at Brewster High School and finally when I competed on the varsity team at Valencia High School.  Though I got a late start, learning stroke techniques when I was thirteen, I wasn’t too far behind and always managed to be good enough for varsity level, even if I wasn’t a star in that realm.  Nowadays, without a team to practice with and keep me motivated, it’s hard to complete a workout like I used to.  Once I settle down somewhere, I’d like to make sure I visit the pool frequently, even if I don’t do a real workout.  Perhaps one day I can join a club or something, just to get back into it.  For now it will just be my therapeutic experience; something I can always count on to make me feel better.

Retreating to nature May 1, 2009

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I spent the day off exploring the Singapore Botanic Gardens, getting a chance to escape from the city for a few hours.  When I first entered, it looked like a public park of sorts, with fields dotted with trees and an asphalt path for people to walk, run, or rollerblade along.  Following the path deeper into the grounds took me to Swan Lake, where there were a couple of swans swimming around languidly.  A few were being fed various bread and cracker type substances, surrounded by hungry koi and curious turtles.  It was the cutest thing I’ve seen – three different species all swimming around each other peacefully.  I made my way around the entire pond before continuing along the path.  On the side with the grassy knoll and speckling of trees, dozens of families and friends were having picnics and otherwise enjoying the pleasant day.


Turtle in the top left area, fish in the bottom area, and the swan you can’t miss.


That fish was not shy.

I followed the signs to the Ginger Garden, where there was this cool waterfall with a little cave area behind that people could pass through.  I saw a family taking pictures of themselves behind the waterfall and wanted to do the same, but alas, I didn’t want to elicit outside help.  I also imaged taking a fun jumping shot in front of it, but that’s something I’d do if I was with a friend.  Not everyone can get the timing right and I don’t know how strangers would feel about trying to capture such a shot.  So, in my mind’s eye I took a note of how I would do things if only I had Panda with me and moseyed along.  I then reached the National Orchid Garden, where I got myself a ticket to enter.  I spent the next hour wandering up and down, in an out of their paths.  I don’t know how many species of orchids I saw, but some were curious-looking, some were gorgeous, some had strange patterns, some were plain, some were large, some were small, and all were cool to look at.

Some of the interesting things I saw…


Above is the Margaret Thatcher, I believe.


And so many more!  Look out for a photo album on Facebook.
 

I took countless photos and rediscovered some things that I want – Venus flytraps (though I couldn’t find any, there were plenty of pitcher plants that reminded me of my desire for a certain carnivorous plant!), tadpoles (I had one once, but dropped it and when I went to pick it up I squished it 😦 – oops), and a water fountain (there was this cool one that looked like a cluster of plants).  On my way out, I wandered around the gift shop, contemplating things I might want to buy and ended up deciding to just get these small little rings.  I can’t figure out what material they are made from, but a lot of Chinese bracelets resemble this.  These, of course, are merely cheap imitations.  I have a bracelet that’s legit though and it’s quite cool – it’s made of some sort of stone and metal.


If only I could find some Venus flytraps too!


I was sooo tempted to try to bring some with me.  😦


Plant?  Nope, water fountain!

And finally, the rings.

From there, is was then power walking for the next two hours, going through the patch of rainforest, Evolution Garden, Eco Garden, checking out Au Jardin (a French restaurant, as it turned out), and heading back to the waaay other end of gardens to exit again.  I got a bit disoriented a few times and made a few detours to some of the other attractions on my way back, including a gazebo, some desert plants, and lily ponds.  It was around 8 PM by then and I was ravenous, so all I could think about was getting to food.  I quickly made my escape and hopped on a bus to Orchard Road, but I tried to find this Din Tai Fung that I could see in my mind’s eye, but for the life of me couldn’t find in real life.  The front desk at Takashimaya shopping center was useless, so I wandered around, through a fashion show and a drummer circle.  Eventually I ended up at the bus stop that would take me back, so I got on and stopped along the way at Holland Village to have dinner at the Crystal Jade there.

What a day out!  I was drained from all the brisk walking, but it was so nice to see so much greenery, so many beautiful flowers, and so many creatures!  I really do love to retreat to nature whenever I can.  It clears my mind and calms me down.

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.

A black hole of a purse March 2, 2009

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I just arrived in Singapore a few hours ago and I’m having trouble sleeping, so I found myself mentally going through the contents of my suitcases, trying to remember if I brought that darned toothbrush or not.  I swear there are items that I specifically packed, but I was unable to find them last night as I was getting ready for bed.  I’m willing to bet that it’s not my memory playing tricks on me, but my luggage.  Smart buggers.  So, I will try again in a bit as Marylin and I get ready to start our first day at work together!  Until everything is unpacked and stowed away, I am not giving up on finding my favorite facewash and that silly toothbrush.  Thank goodness they give you a temp one to use on the plane, or else I’d be using my finger and gargling a lot.

So does this happen to anyone else?  You throw something into your purse and no amount of digging will make it resurface again.  You just know it’s in there, but minutes of feeling around for it yields no results.  You give up on the search and decide that it’s a lost cause and go buy another one or stop using whatever it was.  Then it’s not until you dump out all the contents that it finally emerges from the depths of the bag.  It’s really quite amazing to me how this manages to happen, even in a seemingly small and innocent purse.  But no, those suckers are like a vortex.  Sometimes something has been hidden away in the crevices of your bag for so long you have forgotten you had it in the first place, then suddenly one day you clean out your purse to find it there!

This is the reason I avoid getting a big purse to carry around, or else I’d spend way too much time rifling through its contents trying to find what I want.  I wish they had more pockets and compartments in purses to keep things from falling out of place and away from reach.  No matter how neatly I place things in, they always manage to shift around and I can never seem to pull out that pen or chapstick when I need it most.  It’s like when you try to find something you’ve misplaced – you only find it after you don’t need it anymore.  Now what’s up with that?  Murphy’s Law?

Something similar happens in bowls of soup too, particularly ramen, as my friends and I found when eating some for lunch recently… really, how does a piece of pork get lost in that bowl?!  They need to serve these things with strainers or we may never even know some of the food we missed out on!  It’s all fine and dandy when you’re drinking the entire bowl, but if it’s a noodle-based soup, you could be leaving a lot more left over than you intended to.  Oh the black holes in our lives…

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.

Kollaboration 9: the aftermath February 22, 2009

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What a day!  I left for Kollab around 4:30 in the afternoon yesterday and just got back 11 hours later.  It was intense.  From the obscene amount of traffic to get there to getting in early enough for awesome seats (and pit access!), it was quite the adventure.  I even ran into three accidents on the drive down from home (somehow always ending up in the lane where the debris was from the collisions).  Not the best start to the day, but it ended on a very high note.

First, let me explain:  Kollaboration is a sort of concert and talent show all rolled into one, with an after party to boot!  This is their ninth year putting it on in various cities around the country with the mission: Empowerment Through Entertainment.  It’s about bringing the Asian community together and promoting the presence of Asian/Pacific Islanders in the media.  Of course, it’s not exclusive to only APIs, but it is about awareness and support for the issues surrounding them.  Anyone who believes that APIs deserve to play a larger part in the entertainment field (and really all fields) is more than welcome to come celebrate what has been acheived.

Kollaboration 9 was at the Shrine Auditorium and the after party was held adjacent to it at the Shrine Expo Center.  The night was comprised of seven competitors, six guest performances, five celebrity judges, two freestyle competitions, tons of free giveaways, and a slew of sponsors.  All in the course of three hours.  There were even NINE letters from government officials printed in the program, talking about their support for the show.  (Yes, even Arnie.)

So who all was there?  Well… Kenichi Ebina, Jazmin, Paul Dateh, Kina Grannis, Lilybeth Evardome, Jane Lui, and David Choi competed; BoA, Jo Koy, Kaba Modern, Fanny Pak, Norman Ng, and Team Millennia performed; Printz Board, James Kyson Lee, James Ryu, Welly Yang, and Teddy Zee judged; random volunteers from the audience freestyled; and of course, my lovely AKP brothers and I attended, along with the rest of the sold-out crowd (including Philip Wang, Wesley Chan, MySpace Tom…).

Aren’t you jealous?

Well, maybe you aren’t.  Maybe you don’t really know who these people are.  In fact, the only ones I had known were the Wong Fu guys and Kaba Modern.  David Choi, Kina Grannis, Jane Lui, Jazmin, BoA were very new discoveries that I had just learned about.  Everyone else was new to me.  See, that’s the unfortunate situation we are facing (and hopefully eliminating).  How many API performers do you know of?  How many of them are mainstream?  Very, very few.

Jane Lui on the piano, earning her second place.

Kina Grannis at the after party.

Yet, interestingly enough, a lot of popular YouTubers are of some sort of Asian descent.  What happened there?  It seems that having a platform that empowers the individual to make it on their own enables these Asians who are not making it on the big scene to create a following of their own.  Kollaboration is a means of getting those types of artists to the forefront through exposure beyond social media.  Social media is more grassroots whereas Kollaboration is more mainstream.  It can help slowly bridge the gap between online phenomenon and nation-wide star.

As for the rest of the night, there were a lot of entertaining moments throughout, and the performers were great.  David Choi and BoA are really good live and it was wonderful to watch them perform from the pit.  Though it was about six feet deep, I’m really glad I moved there during the intermission so I could see the facial expressions better.  I also had a clear view of the fancy fingerwork that Kaba incorporates into their routine.  My arms did get rather sore and there were times when I started to shake a bit, but it was all worth it in the end.  We were also treated to a sneak preview of another song on BoA’s first American album, set to come out next month.

Aww, David Choi was really enjoying himself.

BoA wants to Eat You Up.

When that part of the evening ended, my fraternity brothers and I took a break to get something to eat before heading over to the after party.  I was fortunate enough to come across Philip Wang, Wesley Chan, David Choi, Kina Grannis, and the guy who won the freestyle vocal competition (gosh, what was his name?).  And I took pictures with them.  Of course.  😉  It was sooo exhilarating!  I never run into people that I know from some sort of media outlet.  It’s cool to see them in person.

I was catching up with an alum of the fraternity when I came across these people and he took the pictures for me, bemused at my giddiness.  I don’t know why I was SO excited (mostly for Phil and David), but it felt awesome.  I have so much respect for them and it’s really great to get to meet them in person, even if we just take a picture and I am forgotten.  Phil did ask for my name though when I told him how much I enjoyed his speech at my graduation this summer.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he forgot it as soon as he repeated it, but it was a very sweet gesture.

AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!  I heart Wong Fu (too bad Ted’s in NYC).  They’re so sweet.  🙂

 

Smiles all around.


Maybe this is why I like low-key "stars" – they don’t have some sort of upkeep to make them happy and they really appreciate their fans so much more.  I’m not into the big Hollywood stars and I probably would want pictures, but wouldn’t care to really interact with them beyond that.  Part of that is because they probably wouldn’t give me the light of day anyway, but part of that is because they’ve got so many fans they’re probably used to that whole lifestyle already.  I’d much rather appreciate those who are more real, living like I am, working in less than ideal situations, but nevertheless pursuing their passions.  Not that there aren’t A-list stars who do that, but they just don’t interest me.

Cute journals February 19, 2009

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I was browsing Brushdance journals and came across these two that made me smile.  Just thought I’d share.  (Click images to go check them out at the site.)

Business casual redefined February 17, 2009

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I decided to take advantage of President’s Day sales today by going to Kohl’s to buy myself a young working woman’s wardrobe.  I have only ever held two jobs that required professional attire – one was an internship that I went to twice a week and one was a summer job that had business casual days two or three times a week.  This job in Singapore will be the first time that I need enough fancy clothes to wear five or six days a week for many long hours!

I have a bunch ofnice shirts that are borderline "going out" and some that look nice, but just don’t look… grown up enough.  I am also sorely lacking in slacks – I have four and the ones for two business suits.  So, today I marched myself out of the house and spent THREE HOURS rifling through the racks, trying on various sizes and colors of various styles.  All in all, it was a productive time and I came out with eight shirts (though two are casual for day-to-day wear), three pants, one suit jacket to match one of the pants, three dresses (one for work and two for formal parties), and some small personal items.

I tried to arrange everything in a way that would show their features best, but alas, I had too many things squeezing into too little space.  As you can see I went a little crazy with the gray pinstripes…

I have feared this shopping trip for far too long and it’s nice to finally get it out of the way.  I always knew it was coming, but I never really needed to stock up, so I never had the patience to spend so much time sorting through what I wanted and what I didn’t.  Why did I fear it?  Because "business casual" is a very hard term to define nowadays.  Traditionally it was business formal attire minus the outer jacket, but with trends influencing what we wear, there are my nice button-up shirts that are also inappropriate for the office.  Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between what adds a nice stylish flair to your outfit and what gives off the entirely wrong impression.  It’s a fine line to walk.

Whatever happened to the good old days when things were simple and straightforward?  Now it’s just a complicated mess that you can’t generalize and things like these can vary by personal preference.  I hope my choices were classy enough without being too straightedge.  And if they were expecting longer sleeves… I’m screwed.  But hey, it’s Singapore!  Their temperature is currently in the high 80s!

Bubble Spinner February 16, 2009

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I have spent a couple hours playing this game on Addicting Games after Panda introduced me to it.  I don’t know why it is so addicting… guess it really does belong on this site.  Try to beat my high score – 629!

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.