Monday, March 31, 2014
I've written before about how devastated I was seeing a full-body shot of myself in a recent video that FoF did. At that moment I could no longer be in denial, and I didn't like it. It hurt. I don't mean denial in that I wasn't aware that I was fat until then. Of course I was. But in my head, I was so ashamed of and disappointed about how I looked, and I wanted to be just like everyone else so much that I tried to dissociate myself from my body. Whenever I looked at my body I would think, Tsk, tsk. It's a shame that this is what people see. That's not really me. That's just how I unfortunately look now, but that's not really me. The real me is underneath all that. That's just the ugly-looking cage I'm in for now.
I could never look at myself as a fat person and really take in the extent to which I was overweight, because it would've just been too much. It would've meant that I've been failing this whole time, and that it's been all my fault. So I was in denial. And when I was put in a position where I had to look at myself in full and couldn't just brush it off as temporary or not real or not that bad, I didn't handle it very well. I couldn't. I broke down. Honestly, this past month or so has been one of the darkest periods of my life.
Now that the dark cloud that was filling up my head has passed, I understand that this period has been necessary. It was an uncomfortable, painful, yet necessary opportunity for me to really face myself, and take responsibility for the physical predicament that I'm in, but not in a way that produces more self-loathing. I've done enough of that. I think now is the first time that I've genuinely been willing to be patient with myself and learn to be nice to myself. I'm starting to be able to look in the mirror and say, Okay. This is my body. This is my face, these are my thighs, these are my arms, this is my stomach, this is my behind. I have a lot of work to do. And it might take a long time. But that's okay. I can do it. I'm still a good person, even now when I don't look the way I want to look.
Yesterday I was thinking about all this, I had a moment, I wrote a couple notes to myself, and I decided that I need to change things. Take different approaches, make new plans. So now I'm starting over. And I'm gonna be okay.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Celebrity dads taking care of their children by themselves for 48-hours at a time, getting to know their children better, learning how to be better parents. Reflecting on life and the memories they'd like to make. And those kids' warm hearts and cute little faces! Why don't we have anything like this in the States?
Thanks to KBS World TV for making this accessible to English-speakers!
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
I remember dreaming about the first day of the semester, where I walked into the classroom (which was abnormally large both in size and headcount), we went through the syllabus and got our first assignments, etc. Then I remember having another dream where I had missed a couple weeks without noticing. I was just going about my normal school day when I suddenly realized, Wait! I have another class, don't I? What's that class again? Oh yeah, the kanji class. Why do I keep forgetting that one? I return to this class, but am overwhelmed and frustrated by how behind I am.
Then, last night I dreamt that I'd completely forgot about the class again. But this time, I have a meeting with the Korean professor who explains to me that it's near the end of the semester (my dream follows the same time frame as my real life), I've missed too much to even think about catching up or getting a decent grade, so I've just been removed from the roster with an "X" on my record. No damage to my GPA, just money lost and time wasted. This professor helps me to arrange to re-enroll in the same class next semester.
The scary thing is that this thing feels really real. The feelings of frustration, confusion, and discouragement that I have in my dream feel really real. I'm serious! It's very unsettling. It's so bad that a couple times I've woken up and had to run through this semester's schedule in my head just to be sure that I haven't missed anything, that there's no extra class hiding in my brain that's just been escaping me all semester.
I don't know what any of this means.
Yesterday our class was required to go to this French-language symposium on historical memory, and he came up to greet me while I was there. He asked me if I would be performing in some upcoming event this weekend. I told him that I wasn't. Then he started randomly going on about how much he respects and looks up to me, "You're like a natural leader. I see so much leadership potential in you. And your work ethic is just, like, crazy." OHkay, Les.
Later yesterday evening I ran into Les again in a different setting. We were chatting in French and I told him about how I was nervous about this interview, and he said you'll be fine, you're like the best speaker in our class, blahdeblah. OHkay, Les. As I was about to leave, he called his friend from Mali over to where we were standing and told him that I speak French too. I introduced myself to this friend, and as he listened to me speak he asked me where (what country) I come from. In my head I was like, well duh, I'm from America. Isn't it obvious? "I'm from here. I'm American."
He was stunned. "What?"
"Okay, but where did you learn French?"
What do you mean? Didn't I just tell you that I'm American? "Here. I've never been to France."
"Really?! Wow. You sound like you're from the métropole (mainland France). You have like no accent. You know, like Americans have sometimes."
Now it's on to waiting game round 2 to see where/what I'll be assigned as an intern...
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Also, check out the woman in the denim dress and purple sweater. Her name's Monique Dehaney, and she's an awesome singer. After participating successfully in a singing showcase for foreigners and releasing a Japanese-language album, she's slowly but surely gaining popularity in Japan. Don't sleep on her!
Saturday, March 22, 2014
- Going to Paris. This is not a life and death situation. Fear won't defeat you; it'll just be really uncomfortable for a while at first.
- What are you going to take with you to reassure and remind yourself that you are going to be okay?
- Going to another country is a great opportunity to be who you want to be. No one knows you, so you can sort of remake yourself and try things that you wouldn't normally do.
- Accept people's invitations! Trying something new (just the act of it, regardless of whether or not it's successful), can build up confidence.
- Being able to smile and ask questions will get you through over there.
- You already have the skills that would make a good intern/employee. You just need experience adapting them to a work environment.
- Might need to see a doctor about medication; depression and anxiety nearly paralyze you sometimes.
As we'd learned before he arrived, Payen was born in raised in France but has a personal interest in Southeast Asia. His grandmother was Laotian, making his mother half-Laotian, and so Cyril himself is one-quarter Laotian. However, even though he was aware of having Laotian heritage, no one in his family wanted to talk about exactly what happened and he had no connection to that culture or his relatives in Laos. At the age of 20 he traveled to Laos with the little information he had, visiting various people and places in search of answers. He didn't really find those answers, but as he explained to us, the journey is a reward in itself. He wrote a book about his journey and other research he did while there, which sold very well and was highly acclaimed.
Also, this is going to sound crazy, but Cyril Payen looks like someone who belongs on television. Other than the fact that he's shorter in person, he literally looks like he's just stepped out of one of his news reports. I don't know if he was born looking TV-ready or if he's just regularly groomed that way, but either way, he is striking. Some of his statements were equally so. In answering our questions or sharing the knowledge that he has on this topic or another, he would say one inspirational thing after another. And what was cool about it was that he wasn't even trying to be inspirational. He was just talking. But so many things that he said were just so insightful. One of my favorite things he said was that he doesn't believe in words like "satisfied" or "content", because those words imply that there is nothing more to be learned or gained. And anything we do, even life itself, is a progression that continues on and always has something to offer us. I heard that and was just like, Wow.
Even though I'd been intimidated to meet him, and my professor piled up extra projects and assignments on us in both classes in order to prepare for his visit, it all ended up being very rewarding. I even spoke to him up close for a bit. A few of us stayed after my second class, and he asked each one of us why we'd decided to study French, and he didn't cringe or look at me crazy for butchering his language when it was my turn to answer. In all, Wednesday was a very good day.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Saturday, March 15, 2014
- You feeling lost and uncertain about your purpose in life or what direction you should go
─that's where you should be at 21.Your dad being that way at 50-something─he should've figured a lot of that out already. So just because you see that commonality between you two doesn't mean you'll end up chronically unhappy in adulthood like he is.
- Underneath the depression and anger you have due to what you've experienced, there's also profound sadness that you didn't get the dad you deserved. You didn't get the stable foundation of unconditional love that you needed from him.
- Even though you've been physically separated for 10 years, he still has power over you because you operate with the mentality that his evaluation of you was correct. And it wasn't. You have more depth than your dad does.
- Good thing is now, no one has to control you. You get to say how your life will go. Rather than living in what you didn't get or he didn't give you, you get to say, "Well, I'm going to make something good for myself now."
- Taking advantage of opportunities to socialize with people affirms for you that you're worth spending time with.
Friday, March 14, 2014
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Saturday, March 8, 2014
While at the Walt Disney Family Museum I read a panel discussing Walt's doubts about whether or not he would make it when he first moved to Hollywood. He was quoted as saying that he feared that he was getting into the business too late, like the business was already established and he wouldn't be able to break into it or find a place for himself. Now obviously, things worked out for him. But I read that and thought, Wow, that's exactly how I've been feeling since I've been in college. I try to ignore it, but this question has been popping into my head more frequently as graduation nears:
Is there really room for everyone to follow their dreams, become successful, and be happy?
Sometimes it seems like all the good spots are taken, everything great has already been done, and the rest of us have shown up so late for the party that we just can't even get in. It seems like we'll just have to settle for what we can get. But I really don't want to settle.
Being my age, in college, and on social media, I hear and see a lot of the same ideas that are meant to inspire and encourage people. Rise and Grind. Anything worth having is worth working hard for. If you give all you've got, something is bound to happen for you. Never give up! But no one wants to acknowledge the reality that there are plenty of people out there who have done all the "right things", and still end up average. Disappointed. Failures, even. I mean, that's life right? That's how things have always happened. Not everyone is going to get exactly (or anything close to) what they want.
Forgive me for sounding cynical or pessimistic here, but what if a lot of us are just fooling ourselves into believing that we will be the lucky ones, the exceptional, the shining stars who demonstrate to the world what's not impossible?
Sometimes I sit and think about all of these overwhelming ideas and (im)possibilities, all these unfavorable odds, all this uncertainty, and I wonder, Well what am I here for, then? Where do I fit?
One of those desperate nights when you sit up and try to plan out your future in an attempt to alleviate that feeling of being pushed out of a nest, off of a cliff, into darkness. Alone. With no wings or maps. And no guarantees.
I graduate a year and two months from now. I have no plans or prospects. I am afraid.
Friday, March 7, 2014
I've never had a reason to celebrate Valentine's Day, so I wasn't expecting anything on February 14th this year. But after a long day of classes, I returned to my room to see a card on my door! My neighbors down the hall─three sisters, one of whom I got to know in Japan─made and signed a card for me for Valentine's Day! So sweet and unexpected!
Thanks Susan, Anna, and Heidi!
The lobby is a mini-exhibit of its own, showcasing 248 awards that Walt Disney received from national and international film festivals, motion picture academies, academic associations, and various other clubs and organizations during his career. There's even an entire case that's just for the Oscars he's won. The main exhibit of the museum begins with Disney's family tree and ends with his death in 1966. When going through it, you notice that the focus alternates between two currents: Walt's work/accomplishments and his family life. The message is that being an artist and being a family man were both essential parts of who Walt Disney was.
Next stop was the Golden Gate Bridge. We figured walking it would be a nice way to say farewell to San Francisco. Being so high up, surrounded by water, with nowhere to go but foreword or backward, surrounded by a history and possibility of injury or death... it's both exciting and a bit stressful. Almost like riding a rollercoaster. Even though all we'd done was walk across a bridge from one city to another, Ma and I both had an odd sense of accomplishment. Ma for overcoming her nervousness and making it to the other side. And me for... I don't know. Being able to move forward on foot while cherishing a powerful moment in a beautiful place, I guess.
Our plan was to walk to the other side then ride a bus back, but nope! We got there and there were no buses, and we ended up having to turn right back around and walk our behinds back to San Francisco. So we walked the Golden Gate Bridge twice. And you would've thought someone was after us, as fast as we were walking trying to get back before it got too dark. We just didn't want to be on that bridge at night. Plus there is always the possibility of witnessing a jumper, which was also something we wanted to avoid (Golden Gate Bridge is the most used suicide site in the United States, and second in the world). After some time we made it, took one last look of the bridge, then rode two buses to get back to the hotel.
This week was an amazing week for us spending some quality mother-daughter time. We did and saw everything that was on our list, and we never got lost when finding our way around the city. What matters most for me is that Ma enjoyed it. Seeing her so relaxed and pushing herself to do things that she wouldn't normally do at home made me happy for her. To be honest, I'm not looking forward to going back to Michigan tomorrow. My life back home, my "real life", is so sad and lonely and I don't feel like I have anything to look forward to. But alas, I can't stay away forever.
Thank you, San Francisco. First vacation accomplished.
SB in SF! photos
I don't post much on it, so that's not the problem. And it can be used to see and share beautiful, creative, and inspiring things. But too often I'll sit and waste time scrolling through it, thinking how much more beautiful and capable and talented and just "better" other people and their lives seem to be than me and mine. It's a waste of time and enables me to make unhealthy comparisons and put myself down. That's not good at all. So no more Instagram for me until April 19th.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
There were still plenty of hours left in the day, so instead of waiting until tomorrow like we'd planned,Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD). It's a small museum whose public space emcompases only three floors. But its goal is unique and well-executed given its size: helping people see and understand how different cultures and populations of African descent around the world are connected and speak to each other. Their current exhibit is "Crosscurrents: Africa and Black Diasporas in Dialogue, 1960-1980". It aims to demonstrate dialogue and solidarity between people of African descent through art, literature, and activism ("Culture as a means for holistic empowerment... African people to define culture on their own terms"). It runs from now through April 13th.
Bino and Fino. The title characters are young siblings, and in this particular episode ("Big Birthday Party") their grandparents explain independence and colonial rule to them on Nigeria's 50th Independence Day. I liked the way they handled the subject in a sensitive manner, referring to colonial forces as "bullies" and "uninvited guests" (as opposed to thieves, white supremacists, rapists, murders, you know). The last two rooms on this floor feature numerous examples of cultural diversity and commonalities that exist amongst blacks around the world.
The third floor is an art gallery showing paintings, sketches, posters, and sculptures made my artists of African descent. Some of the works are explicitly about members of the diaspora or issues related to them, others are not. My personal favorites were Nap Tapestry by David Hammons and Trophies of Empire by Donald Locke. Overall, the museum is small and the exhibit is kind of short, but no less interesting. We were glad that we went.
From there, we returned to Bellini to try their non-dessert items. I had croque monsieur (another first!), and I have nothing to compare it to but I enjoyed it very much.
Another day well spent. Tomorrow's our last full day here, and I can't believe how quickly this week has gone.
SB in SF! photos
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf were our first stops today. Being near so much water was incredibly refreshing, and we had a nice walk taking in the sights. After watching the sea lions and taking pictures, we stopped to buy some bread from Boudin at the Wharf before leaving. From there we walked to Ghirardelli Square. To be honest, there isn't really much to do there other than buy stuff and eat things. But it is a very pleasant place to just sit and enjoy the day. Ma and I aren't really chocolate lovers, so we didn't buy anything, but we each got free chocolate upon walking into the Ghirardelli chocolate shop and marketplace.
We had one last site that we wanted to reach today and that was Lombard Street, "the crookedest street in the world." We backtracked a bit from Ghirardelli Square and walked up the steeeep hill (basically climbed a mountain) that is Hyde Street until we reached the crooked street. I'm so proud of Ma for persevering and making it all the way. Other people took the easy way up by car or streetcar, but we worked hard to get up there even as the hill got higher and steeper, which made looking down Lombard and out over the city that much sweeter. This is yet another place that's full of tourists staring down the hill, standing in the middle of the street to take pictures of it, or even driving down it in their cars and taking pictures of themselves in the act. I feel bad for whoever lives along this section of Lombard, because it's literally all homes that line this crooked street and tourists are all over the place hanging out and making noise. After taking in the view we walked down the steps on the side of the street and snapped some photos from the bottom. Then we headed back to the hotel for a little rest.
farmerbrown. With dark lighting, earthy colors, and oldschool hip-hop and R&B music in the air, the vibe of the place is part country kitchen part underground hip-hop spot. The word "cool" came to mind immediately when I sat down. Paintings of important black artists decorate the walls, and the movie Dreamgirls was playing on a projector hanging from the ceiling. We made a reservation this time, and since today was a Tuesday it never got too crowded even at peak dinner time. I went with the day's special (chicken and waffles), with the traditional staples of macaroni and cheese and green beans. Everything tasted wonderful, but I was especially pleased with the chicken and waffles since it was my first time having
it. And what a coincidence, we were seated next to another pair of French-speaking people! It was hard for me to tell that they were speaking French at first though, because their accents were a little different. Maybe they were from Quebec? Again, I was tempted to try speaking with them, but chickened out.
You can't really compare farmerbrown and Brenda's because they offer completely different styles of soul food, but I will say that farmerbrown's style was more akin to what Ma and I are used to. Oh, and the service is really great; probably the best service we've received since we've been here. Before we left I got red velvet to go, and though the coloring is a
little brown I have no complaints. Very moist and not too sweet, so almost perfect.
After all the walking and climbing we did today, I know I'm going to sleep well. My feet, thighs, and hips are still talking to me after that challenge going up Hyde.
SB in SF! photos
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
After wandering around for a while, we still had plenty of time left in the day and no plan. I was itching to go back to Chinatown because even if it wasn't going to be our favorite place, I wanted to be able to say we'd eaten there at last once. Come on, it's the largest Chinatown in the nation! So I looked up restaurants there and came across a sit-down place called Great Eastern Restaurant. President Obama has been there once, so I figured the food had to be at least halfway decent. Turns out it was more than halfway decent. I got one of the specials, which was stuffed tofu, eggplant and pepper with black bean sauce. The restaurant has the air of a formal dining hall, with miniature chandeliers and waiters in white shirts, black bowties, and green jackets. But it's certainly not a place that you have to get dressed up for if you don't want to. Just walk in as you are and enjoy.
We took our time eating and then returned to the hotel. We were about to call it a night when I got a sweet craving, so we went out one last time and ended up at a really cool café called Café Bellini. It's got this red and black, American and European thing going on that is fun and sophisticated at the same time. I also really liked this place because there were so many different people there. A French family of three sat two tables to our left. I was tempted to try and speak with them, but I figured that'd be weird. To our right was a curious Australian woman to whom we explained the origins of red velvet cake. Bellini has a long menu with a variety of options, so there's bound to be something for everybody. I just had a "Berry Berry Tarte" and a Coke. After getting our sugar fill, we returned to the hotel for the night. I'm glad that we were able to explore more of the city than we'd anticipated today.
SB in SF! photos
Monday, March 3, 2014
"Yoga: The Art of Transformation" runs from now until May 25th at the Asian Art Museum.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
This trip means a lot to us because it's our first time going on vacation together ever. It's also my first time in California. So hopefully this week turns out to be full of new things, bonding, and good times!
So we walked back and decided to eat at the Italian restaurant attached to the hotel. And despite my preconceptions when Ma first mentioned "hotel restaurant", this place called Scala's Bistro is actually a very fine place with delicious food. A little pricey, but nothing that's going to put you in debt as long as you pay attention to the numbers. And the atmosphere of the place may seem a little stuffy at first, but the staff is actually very kind and everyone's just there to relax and enjoy good food and conversation.
"We're just two people out of thousands here. Ain't nobody looking at or thinking about us. You always go somewhere and act scared like people already know you and everything about you, and that's not the case. So chill."
Tonight that's what I'll do. Take a breath, get some rest, remember that this supposed to be fun, and that everything's going to be okay. Tomorrow's a new day, and we're going to enjoy it!
SB in SF! photos