Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Secret Garden of getting into the holiday spirit


What's more great than our birthdays, carnival rides and the first day of summer?


It's the most jolliest time of the year! The turkey and stuffing, red stockings and reruns of Christmas specials all day long, it's the time of giving and being with our loved ones. The decorations and awesome sales at the mall, everything about it just makes our hearts melt. So how can we prepare for the festivities? Here are some suggestions on how to get into the holiday spirit and also my personal tips on how I get myself ready for the big 25!

1. Decorations.... and lots of it!

My inspiration was the movie Elf with Will Ferrel as the human Christmas elf. In the movie, he decorates the mall into a white winter land, everything made of cotton, paper and possibly maple syrup. I love to decorate by myself because I like to decorate it the way I like it but decorating is more fun with other people. Stick a popcorn in the microwave, a couple of sodas and let the magic begin! What I found really useful was printable Christmas decorations, I googled "Christmas coloring pages" and with a click a whole list popped up on my screen. Santa Claus, Rudolph, Elves you name it! After coloring it I cut it out and stuck them all over the house, yes, it's a bit cheesy and kind of kiddish but I had a great time! Also there are loads of ideas on Christmas decorating online such as Christmas lanterns and printable gingerbread houses. Decorations don't have to be expensive, of course there are the traditional decorations; the Christmas tree, the lights, the yard decorations but I found it more fun and meaningful to make the decorations myself.

2. Christmas movies and specials + Couch + Snacks = Love

When December nears the television stations play hours of Christmas movies and shows every day, it's nice to sit back on the couch, feet up, cuddled up in our favorite blanket that just feels so smooth (or a snuggie, I don't judge) and unwind while our minds are fed with cartoons, jolly songs and Will Ferrel running in tights while eating cotton balls. Yup, that's the life.

3. Sing your heart out.

Who cares if it's still November? Go and bring out last year's Christmas CD and play it in your car, play it loud, play it proud! It doesn't even have to be in the car, play it in the office, download it to the ipod, listen to "Rudolph the Red nosed reindeer" while you jog, heck, turn up that boom box playing "Frosty the Snowman" while walking the block with that swagger. To make this look really work, tie a bandanna around your forearm, forehead and stick it in your back pocket while fashioning a wifebeater and baggy blue jeans with raggy white shoes. Oh, don't forget your "I Believe in Santa" pin!

4. Last but not least, presents!

They don't even have to be big or expensive, what really counts is the sentimental value it holds. For my sister she poared her heart into the wrapping, she would wrap it with sparkly wrapping paper and made the bow herself. You know the ones from stores where it's nice and curly with a big flower looking bow? She spent hours wrapping them and she really enjoyed it. Not once have I ever seen her do a half ass job on a present.


It's what counts :]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Secret Garden of past friendships

1. the state of being a friend; association as friends: to value a person's friendship.
2. a friendly relation or intimacy.
3. friendly feeling or disposition.

The foot prints left behind by the people we've encountered are numerous and most of them fade after a short time, but what happens when those foot prints come back? What happens when forgotten friendships come bursting in our lives once more just like the ghost of Christmas past?

The feelings we felt, the smiles we shared, the stupid things that we did flashes through our minds like the silver surfer from Fantastic 4. The smooth sail of long lost memories take us back to the school yard, the cafe on the corner and to the days when we promised to be there for each other. But while this ship is in motion, we drift away from what's keeping us grounded-- reality.

Everything is destined to change, we can't stop it or slow it down but to realize that it's happening. Old memories do that to us, it implants a small piece of hope to make us think that even though 5, 10, 15 years has passed that person will remain the same. It hypnotizes us to forget what years of separation can do to a person. All we can think about is how great it'll be to be reunited and pick up where we left off, to revive the friendship that was once believed to be dead.

Just as much as a person's feature change, so does their personalities, their values and hobbies. Things we once had in common with them may have changed. The sad part of it all is the fact that the comfort we found in that person and the memories that remind us of how carefree our lives once were are dismantled. Like an old picture that's discolored and cracked on the edges.
Unless the picture is constantly looked at and taken care of we won't be able to notice the changes it goes through. If we have it close to our hearts and hold it once in a while, we'll be able to witness the small nicks and tears that happens to it over the years instead of seeing them all at once to realize that it's a damaged picture. If observed frequently the changes the picture goes through are not as noticeable to us.

Does that mean we should grasp tight around our friends when it's our time to say our good-byes? No, definitely no. If it's their time to stray away from our lives then it's their time to go. I look at it as a part of a cycle, friends come and go but if they were meant to be in our lives they'll always return to us like a boomerang but if they don't, then maybe they weren't meant to be with us from the start. That's no reason for us to stop going on with our lives and focus on that particular person, it means we need to move on and better ourselves with the lessons they taught us, the smiles they brought us but most importantly those precious memories that we can look back on when we encounter rough climbs throughout our lifetime.

"What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies."
- Aristotle

Our acquaintances, friends and best friends.. If they were meant to be our companions, they are still here or will return to us when the time is right, but if they didn't return, maybe they weren't meant to be with us after all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Secret Garden of uneasy vacations pt2 - pictures

Jon-- we were dropping off Sue at the airport when we realized it's only her and Jon (with the lei) going off to boot camp but none of his family members came to say bye. So we hugged him and told him to kick ass. And brought him Hawaii snacks and lei.

After graduation.

waiting at the outdoor stadium for the graduation ceremony to begin, it was 45 degrees with wind and light drizzles of rain. We waited almost 2 hours for it to begin. The soldiers were standing on the field longer than us.

-- A dinner at Olive Garden after the graduation, my sister and her friends, their families, and us. It took us about 2 and a half hours to find Olive Garden.

Mac, Orange, Kline, and I'm sorry I don't remember all the names. At Olive Garden

--After family day ceremony.

I ran into a friend of mine that I knew since 8th grade, didn't know he was in boot camp with my sister. We brought lei and snacks for him too but didn't get a chance to give it to him.

Being reunited... Very first time seeing her and it was emotional-- she lost a lot of weight and her voice was hoarse.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Secret Garden of uneasy vacations

It's November 13th 2009, my heart feels heavy and my mind a blur. Today was my sister's graduation from basic training, the whole reason why my mother and I flew 16 and a half hours. When I first saw her yesterday at family day, I couldn't even recognize her; she looked amazing, dignified unlike the old image of her. So here is the story..

November 12th 2009.
We woke up at 6:30am, we felt rushed because we wanted to leave the hotel at 7am, get breakfast downstairs and head on towards Fort Jackson by 7:30am. We left the hotel at 7:25am and realized my ID was missing, so we rushed back to the hotel with my mother running red lights and zooming through stop signs. I got my ID and reached Fort Jackson by 8am, we realized that we can't see her until 1030am so we sat at BurgerKing and killed 30 minutes, then we parked in front of Solomon Center; which is where the family day ceremony was held and where she would be meeting us, and sat there until 9:30am. it was 45 degrees out side with rain and wind so it felt much colder.
When it was time, we headed in and saw the Charlie company (my sister's company) and the Delta company do a little ceremony-- their song that they sang when they marched. It was so crowded and of course people laughed at me when I screamed "CHHHHEEEHOOOO". For those of you who don't know, that's Hawaii's version of "OOOWWWWW".
I saw her and I couldn't believe my eyes, she was a totally different person. My eyes filled with uncontrollable tears and my nose started to run, my heart beating fast and all I can think was "Oh my gosh, I'm so proud of her."
We met her friend; Faith Klein (I don't remember the spelling) and I saw an old friend, took pictures and met all of her new family. It was a day filled with joy, laughter, tears and hugs. Until I remembered that we have to tell her about grandma. Then my day became up and down with emotional roller coaster rides. We spent that day shopping for necessities, Fort Jackson is so huge that many people including us got lost, they even have a water park in there! We were going to tell her about grandma's passing but she was with all of her friends; we just didn't have the heart to tell her. That night we said our good-byes and sent her back to her barracks.
She texted me directions and knowing my sister, she was worried we'll get lost or not make it on time. I took her advice to heart and made sure we were prepared.

November 13th 2009. Graduation
This day is the day that I'll never forget in my life. It was a privilage for me to attend this event and I'm so greatful that I got to witness this honorable day. The graduation was moved out doors due to the surprisingly amount of families that showed up, at 48degrees we sat on metal bleachers, waiting anxiously until our soldiers made their way. They stood on the field for 1 hour and 30 minutes until the ceremony began, they looked so cold that I wanted to run over there and give her my jacket. The marching band's music started off the soldiers march towards us, the ceremony was short but really sweet. The graduates made their way towards us and I was so proud of every single one of them, even though I have never met them ever in my life, I was proud of them. I saw her marching in front of me and I screamed my butt off.
We ended up going to a book store to get some books for her and her friends, and we got lost on our way to Olive Garden, we wasted 3 hours trying to find it and almost 2 hours at the restraunt.
I was so upset that we had to go there because we wanted to spend it with her alone. My sister still didn't know about grandma so we wanted to rush back to the hotel and spend the last hours we had with her talking about our experiences. We had to take her back at 8:30pm and we left the hotel at 5:30pm. We starting driving on the freeway and realized that we don't recognize any land marks or road signs. We were trying to go to Two Notch Rd but ended up in a dark, scary split road in the middle of no where. 8 o'clock was nearing and we had no idea where to go or where to ask for help. My sister needed to get back in order to go to her AIT in Texas. Usually my sister would blame everyone for getting the directions wrong, curse at the driver, yell that we don't know what we are doing and just freak out before anything happened. But she stayed calm, when she panicked she picked herself up and made sure we got some help, she called 911 and asked for directions, if we can make it back on time, called her sargeant and explained our situation.
Totally different person; a soldier.
We eventually ended up finding our way back to the hotel and we packed her luggage with food and clothes that we brought from home. Then she picked up an envelope of pictures and said "What's this?"
Her next words were "Oh my god"
And the tears came racing down her cheeks. She said she had a feeling that something was wrong but she didn't want to believe it. We explained to her briefly about what happened, what we saw, smelt and experienced.
She apologized, "Maybe I shouldn't have gone to the military then maybe things would have been easier for you mom."
We spent a short amount of time mourning, it stopped when my sister dried her tears and held us tight. Her warmth still lingers in my arms, my neck and my forehead. I never realized how tiny she was, her hands smaller than mine, her height shorter than mine and her face much slimmer than mine. That tiny little thing went to the army, something that we never thought would happen, and she made it.

That's when I realized how much the Army has changed her, she's someone that I can't even recognize. This trip was worth the ride, even with the annoying kid who kept kicking my seat and my mom's bad driving, everything was worth it. The bad meals, the 7 hour rest I had since tuesday, the stress about leaving behind work and school, everything was worth it. Before she left to the Army, I was so mad at her, she was always picking fights, saying mean things, blowing up on people and just being crazy. After she left and I was filling in for her job, I experienced first hand what it felt like and I too, became that person.
I realzed how much I missed her and how much my life would be incomplete without her, especially after my grandmother's death. And how proud of I am to be her sister and to have a sister like her, who would go to the Army to support her family, she's had such a hard life and I understand how difficult life has been for her. I miss her terribly and I await that day til I get to see her again.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Secret Garden of a superwoman

One day I sat down to watch this show called The Secret Life of Women and it was absolutely bizarre! They are ordinary looking women who live out of the ordinary lives. Then it got me thinking about my own mother, how was her life?

She came to Hawaii with nothing to her name and two daughters to take care of. I remember I used to stay up til 10 at night until she came home so I can see her, I went to school at 8 in the morning while she went to work at 9am. I was only 8 years old so I went to bed early, but if I didn't stay up to see her i would be able to see her at all. She went to work and studied to become an acupuncturist, a career that was forced upon her by her husband at the time who only planned to use her brains to do the work while he counted the money. About 6 months after we landed in Hawaii she dominated the house and was obligated to start paying bills. Her work didn't pay her; it was more like an internship. With a troubled head over her shoulders she decided that she needs to finish her studies in order to put food on the table. About 3 years later she graduated with her masters degree in Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture, she actually graduated a year early because she was the only student in her school to have scored a perfect 100 on her license exam. Her professors begged her to stay longer thinking that she will fail- how was this middle aged Korean women who can barely speak English pass this difficult exam in English?

But she did it.

I can't ever forget the time she told me about her exam day.
She went to the gas station on her way to the exam, about 6:30pm, it was raining hard and she was in such a rush to get there that she forgot her wallet at the gas station. Half way to the school she turned the car around to look for her wallet; no where to be found. All of her credit cards, ID and information was there. But she still decided to take her test, if she didn't she would have to wait another year to take it. She walked through the doors and the exam has already begun, all the other students were half way done with their exams.

She sat down in an empty seat and was soon approached by her professor, "You don't have to do this, you can do it later. Or you can take this in Korean." She shook her head and said that she will take the exam in English and she will take it now.

My mother sat her things down next to her and looked at her test; tears went racing down her cheeks when she couldn't remember the things that she's been studying so hard for so long.

The next part was a blur, she remembers being the last to turn in her test and the professors waited for her to finish.

She was the only one out of everyone else that got a perfect score and she took in English language.

I am so proud of her and the only regret I have is that I wish I took more pictures of her graduation.

I have always considered her my superwoman, no matter what came her way to break her down she stood her ground. In my eyes she was unstoppable, unbeatable and immortal. There was nothing that she couldn't do. Now she has her own clinic that she's always dreamed of and today she had her first interview for the KHON2 news station about alternative ways of swine flu prevention. To know that I am her daughter, that I have her blood running through my veins brings me great courage; that I too, will overcome any obstacles that come along my way.

We are all superwomen inside, whether we are recognized by our good deeds and miraculous achievements or be thanked by our family members, we are superwomen.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Secret Garden of ex-boyfriends we despise

At first they just blow us away with the numerous amount of red roses, romantic dinners, late night car rides to look at stars, the complements on our outfits, the shopping sprees, the hugs and kisses, then BAM! They show their true self.

The unshaved faces, burping, farting, yelling, the never ending demands for food, showing us off in front of their friends, the mood swings, constantly telling us to stop our whining (which we don't), yelling at us to change our outfits because he doesn't want other guys to stare, their clingyness, the check-up-on-you phone calls every half hour when we out with our girlfriends, the "why aren't you texting me back" text messages, and the damn TV permanently playing ESPN.

The loving, caring guy we fell in love with just fades away along with the feelings we had for them so the fighting begins and so do the childish games. Eventually after a long, brutal war it ends, it all ends.

I definitely had my share of bad boyfriends and in the end I don't ever regret the experiences I had with them because if they didn't treat me badly, I would have never known what a good, healthy relationship will feel like.

One time when breaking up with a boyfriend I told him that I felt like he behaved differently when we are alone and when we are with his friends, that I felt like he was only nice to me when we were wit his friends and he was really loving in front of them. These were his words "I don't know like, all the guys they act like I can't get one chick and like they all tell me that you're hot and I want to show them like hey I can get one hot chick and like she stay with me."
SO.... what the hell does that mean?

It hit me hard because I liked him a lot but he only considered me as a trophy girlfriend. And honestly, I should have known that he was a jerk when all his guy friends made it a game to see if they can steal me away from him.

I realized that the people that he liked to surround himself around speaks for themselves. Not one of them were descent, they all were into drinking and partying. At one point I had to sit in a car while his friend drove me home while intoxicated. Of course at 16 I had no car so he was my only way of getting home, then he decides to drop me off home last even though my house was closer than everyone else's house. It's really frightening to sit in a car with a drunk guy who kept trying to make passes at me, because he was intoxicated I wasn't sure if he was going to hit me.

Now that I look back on it, all of my ex-boyfriends were jerks and so immature.

I mean, what's wrong with the way we dress? If I wear a V-neck all hell breaks loose. There's yelling and cussing, but that's nothing compared to the fights that we girls have to have with them when we wear skirts. We are not stupid, we are not going to sit with our legs open! Why is it that guys get so angry when we wear shorts but we don't yell at them for walking around with their shirts off. IT'S THE SAME THING!!

Another time, I had this ex-boyfriend who kept walking around with his shirt off, wherever we went, there it went- his shirt went flying off up over his head and to his back seat. Even to the mall, or to Safeway. Then he would yell at me for wearing a shirt that made my boobs look big. Okay damn it I have boobs, deal with it. I couldn't understand at the time but when we broke up he said that most of the time he felt like he wasn't getting enough attention so he felt like he had to tone me down.

Why is it that I kept going out with losers with low self esteem?

I don't consider myself to be overly good looking or talented, I'm average, ordinary and I like that.

I left Korea when I was about 8 years old so I attended 1st grade for about a month there, on my first day of school I had a traumatic incident where I had to go use the girl's room and two boys from my school followed me to the bathroom and tackled me to the floor. One of them jumped on top of me and tried to kiss me or whatever he was trying to do and his friend was holding me down. So once in a while I still get scared that someone will tackle me in a bathroom.

Ever since then I didn't want to be noticed or seen, I went though a tomboy phase for god sakes. I wore boy jeans and t-shirts.

The past relationships that we all had that were horrible was actually a blessing in disguise, we learned, matured and it made us realize that there are bigger and better fishes out there. That even though we get hurt and we can't get back up quickly, we will be okay.

Better than okay, we'll be Grrrrreeeaaaaat!