Appreciating where I am now

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The view from the downtown newsroom

Why was I so anxious? In retrospect I can say that of my anxiety filled early post-college years. I was anxious about what my life would be like right now. Would I get into graduate school? Will I always be alone and lonely? Now I’m living what was then my future. Perhaps, it is easy to feel relieved since those concerns worked out.

Once you’ve had anxiety and it’s clear you’re prone to it, it’s easy to revert back. I’m facing another huge transition the stepping off of the cliff from what I know in graduate school to the abyss of the unknown that follows. I could be worried about the future once again, but I’m not really. Getting older has stabilized my inward being. Sure the ripples of anxiety still come, but I try to manage the heck out of it.

A sense of gratitude subtly infuses my daily life. Yes, I have peers who are at different places, perhaps already married or already working. What does it matter. No need to rush and marry the wrong person, I have my whole lifetime to be married, one or two years more makes negligible difference. And who at the end of their life has regretted not working their desk job for one additional year or two? I’m doing work that I love that fills me with joy! And hey, it’s relief for everyone else if I get all my question-asking urge satisfied by the end of the day.

I used to not look forward to getting older. I’ve always had milestones in my head. I want to be married by 30. Run a full marathon at 26. Have my first kid around 30 or 31, if I get married before then. A part of me still hates the lack of control surrounding some areas of life, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how things have happened so far. In a year I imagine I’ll be in a completely different place personally and location-wise.

(Today’s post was inspired by this beautifully written piece on Aging from my favorite blog, Cup of Jo)

Interracial Relationships and how do you know?

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My mom, a native of Seoul, South Korea. She would probably not be happy with this large candid picture of her.

My parents are such quirky, wonderful people. The time difference between LA and Chicago and trying to reach them between our work and school schedules can be difficult.

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My Dad visited me without my mom last year. We spent most of the weekend camping and hiking at Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin

Hopefully my parents don’t mind that I’ve just shared pictures of them on my public blog. You won’t see many pictures of me anytime soon.

Theirs is the only marriage I’ve really seen up close and it’s an interracial one. I don’t usually think about the last fact, except that my mom claims that she’s the exception and it’s better to be “same culture. Different cultures not good.”

I loved how a dear family friend, who’s also in an interracial marriage, responded to that. Her and her husband are very similar in culture because of what they value and how they are. Culture’s not solely tied to race. Her husband recently offered via my sister to fellowship with my mom about her prejudices. Surprisingly, my dad thinks it’s a good idea. We’ll see what happens. Of course, my mom might feel uncomfortable with other members of our church knowing her feelings on this topic.

One thing that always stuck out to me is how I never saw or heard my parents argue or fight. A friend’s mom happened to hear me say that once. She was very surprised. Many of my friend’s parents in elementary school were divorced. Whenever I asked my Dad if I could do something, it was always “go ask your mom” and vice versa.

My mom always told me to marry someone like my Dad. Sadly, there just aren’t many witty, diligent, nerdy, stick-skinny geniuses like him out there. Or at least I haven’t encountered any I actually got to know. A guy also named Andrew who likewise majored in physics once joined my English class at Berkeley. I remember being intrigued, but I don’t think he was there all semester.

One of my sisters prefers nerdy skinny white guys, though she’s open to other races. I’ve never known what my future husband would look like, what race he’d be. Any relationship where someone isn’t my exact combination of European and Korean is technically interracial. Although if you see me and a white guy together, we probably look like a white couple.

Some people know that they’re going to end up with a certain race. My old roommate, a Jewish girl with blue eyes and unruly brown hair, always knew she’d marry an Asian. And her husband is. I wonder how people know that. Well I guess if you’ve always had a certain preference.

The question of knowing in general looms largely in a relationship. It sounds cheesy, but how do you know if they’re someone you could be with forever? Forever is an awfully long time.

I don’t know how to conclude my posts. A questioner by nature, I could easily conjure up a multitude of questions to discuss.

Thoughts on a Wednesday

 

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Writing spurred me to action it seems. I actually worked out this morning, just a short ab ripper x video from P90x and a short run, but it counts. It’s not that I’m usually sedentary. I think all the running I do to catch buses and trains and walking around Chicago counts too.

Back to thinking about perfection, other people aren’t perfect either. Some of the people I look up to are people who seem to have it all together(it being their career, impeccable grooming and great fashion, and a great love life, whatever stage it’s in). That describes both of my old roommates, though my current ones are great too. But even these people, my old roommates and everyone else who gives the appearance of having it all together, have struggles too.

There’s an older lady in my neighborhood who I know from church that intimidates me. She’s strong, doesn’t come off as being emotional and definitely has it together. I heard that like me she’s struggled with depression in the past and that perhaps it contributes to her strength. Now she’s more relatable and less intimidating to me. Who knew! And I was interested/flattered to hear that she likes me and thinks we’re similar. She’s quite insightful to detect that given that we don’t know each other well. I know some things about compensating for my weaknesses, more anxiety than depression actually. Thank you grad school, for training and forcing me to manage my anxiety so I’m free to write stories, design, code etc freely.

Perfection is particularly nonexistent in relationships. There is no perfect boyfriend, husband or marriage. I majored in English at the top English program in the country, UC Berkeley(not to brag, just establishing my authority on literature here). The marriage plot is a kind of story structure that culminates in a marriage. Getting married is seen as a happily-ever-after conclusion to one’s life. In a marriage plot, the marriage concludes the novel, as if life doesn’t continue to be full of fresh struggles to describe. I’ve realized from observing others (since I’m not married yet) that it’s not. There are still struggles within marriage. Maybe your husband is in medical school and spends countless, necessary hours studying, so you don’t spend as much time with him as you’d like. (True story) Or there are others who got married really young and have beautiful photos, but are now divorced or really struggling in their marriage. I’ve seen this happen among fellow Christians.

Points of weakness are universal. There’s a literary term for it, an achilles heel. The hero of a novel always has one. But it’s in our weaknesses that we’re relatable. We’re human.

Writing is my skill, dare I say talent. I’ve devoted my academic career to it and very soon, hope to make a living off of it. Yet, it’s not always easy. I procrastinate more than I like. Sometimes I tell myself you are not leaving this cafe or library or newsroom until x is written. Still, there’s a joy in the struggle almost and a satisfaction at the completion of each new piece, like this blog post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Resurrection- I’m not my ideal self but who is?

 

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You can thank my friends Learn with Amy and Insightful scoop for inspiring me to blog once more. I would like to think I helped inspire two of my best friends to start blogs and continue with such dedication.

Lately, some of the blogs I read are starting to lose me as a reader. I can write better content! Just keep reading and you’ll see.

I think everyone has a divide between their ideal self and their actual self. What I enjoy about my childhood friend Amy Lo’s new blog is that it’s very thought provoking. I haven’t come across another blog like it. Her post on establishing a morning routine got me thinking about where I am versus where I want to be.

For example: Hobbies I have: reading(mainly blogs and the news, ain’t got time for books in grad school, but usually lots of books).

Hobbies I wish I had: making kombucha, some form of consistent exercise like swimming or pilates, personal writing that’s not for school, decorating my room

It sounds like I have no hobbies, how lame. Free time isn’t particularly abundant during grad school unless you really make time for something you love. One of classmates who was a college runner somehow makes time to be a dedicated cyclist, competing in events etc. I do travel(for school, which they pay for-love it!) so hopefully that counts.

My grand excuse for not having more hobbies is school and wanting to spend my limited free time with people. Hobbies can be solitary activities and the nature of my reporting work is already solitary. I’m too extroverted and restless to sit still and engage in more solo activities.

Hopefully, I can at least add blogging to my current hobbies. I have bigger fish to fry, namely, finishing my capstones before I graduate in six weeks!

Run with it

Four years ago, I wrote a short story, my 2nd ever, for my English class. It’s crazy that the distance between me and college continues to widen. Anyways, that story was, “A Deviant Style of Murder.” Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert in Lolita were my inspirations. My character a teenage murderer, Chase Franzen was too fun to write. I’m bringing this up cause my Mom suggested I write a novel. I didn’t take her seriously at first. Why not, my Dad texted. You’re boring(how my Korean Mom says I’m bored) and when you’re sad, call on the Lord and write. She had a point. I’ve never had such an excess of free time, more than I know what to do with.

So here goes the resurrection of Chase. He made his debut with this:

I don’t deny that I did it, but I cannot say so with regret. It was a crime of passion, a term invoked by many, but adequately realized by few. Danielle was my same-age Lolita, the ignition to my vehicle’s engine, the amplifier to the strings on my guitar. I envision her dimpled smile and startlingly blue eyes still. How’s that for adopting a murderer’s apparently inherent trait of possessing a fancy prose style. Time in a prison cell, devoid of the usual accoutrements of comfortable living, seems as a good a time as any for me to act on my literary ambitions. An erroneous account in the Herald also warrants my immediate correction. 

And he returns with this (this is all I’ve got on day 1 of writing, not sure if I’ll get a full novel out of Chase and I realized I need to do some research on prison life, life after prison etc):

Dear beguiling reader, I’m back. The last you’d heard of me I was weaving yarns in a prison cell describing Danielle’s death this way and that. Somehow and no one’s more surprised than me, I’m about as free as a murderer can be. I mean I’m in house arrest. Any home feels luxurious after a 6 by 8, even when you’ve got a bracelet wrapped around your ankle. Good ol’ mum had to take me in. It’s home yet foreign. The friends I had long departed, first for college, then onto jobs in new big cities. I’m here breathing in fresher oxygen, taking in the stillness unpunctuated by the howls of distraught inmates. Who knows how I lasted.  

Thoughts from any readers out there?

 

 

 

 

 

Getting personal

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One of my new year’s resolutions is to write more. I swapped Facebook for LinkedIn and mindless scrolling or tv watching for blogging. The weight of an unproductive day sits with me in bed. I hadn’t planned to share personal stuff here, but I do enjoy getting an authentic glimpse into bloggers lives, their anxieties, their heartaches. Not that I in any way exult in someone else’s struggles or failures, but I find hearing about them comforting because then I’m not the only one.

My sister told me about a Berkeley prof who took time off from college. Glad I’m not the only one who needed a break from school, albeit grad school in my case. And it turns out that break will be longer than expected. I’m not in classes now. I can’t start them until September or August when my classes are offered again.  There are no structured, busy days ready made for me.

Instead, there’s an abyss of time for me to fill. At least, I’m waking up early, beating my alarm even and going to the gym first thing. Something about winter dampens my energy on occasion. The cold deters me from leaving my apt and makes me want to do things from my bed like I am now, eyes threatening to stay closed with each lingering blink. Today was an outlier, one day of listlessness. I couldn’t focus in on or feel a sense of purpose in charging forward with my job search. In my caffeine induced sleep deprived state, I mindlessly scrolled through job postings.

Project bedroom decor

My sister called my old bedroom “depressing.” She was right. In my eight months there, I never put anything on the walls. And that apt tended to be dark and empty, lacking in natural sunlight and furniture to fill up the large space. It never had the warmth of home. So with my new bedroom in my new apt, I don’t want to just say I’m going to decorate. I’m doing it.

First up, a gallery wall. Today I bought some frames from Ikea. Now I’m working on getting the photos, art prints and such. A small frame will showcase this gem:

Only my favorite gif cause my friends and I saw this on our way to Yosemite. A bearded old guy in a plush blue wizard’s hat and tie dye shirt was riding his bike, pulling along a chihuahua past a McDonald’s parking lot. Something about the  ridiculous sight was hilarious amid the ordinary moment of leaving McDonald’s. He was also biking slow-ly as one might imagine for the chihuahua to be able to keep up.

Hopefully, it adds to a gallery wall  as cohesive and striking as this one:

(designed by Emily Henderson; photo taken by Jess Isaac, found by me on Cup of Jo, http://cupofjo.com/2015/07/how-to-hang-art-best-tips/)