Blogmas Days 11 and 12: Sickness Galore!

Hey guys, sorry I didn’t post yesterday (Wednesday 12/28/16). I was feeling feverish and really out of it by the time my family and I got home from a hot pot dinner party, so I went straight to bed after changing into my pj’s.

Yesterday was an eventful day. At 11:30 a.m., my two brothers and I had lunch at Amici’s, an Italian restaurant, with a childhood friend, Warren. We were all so used to the college eating schedule, so we were in and out of the restaurant in 45 minutes! In retrospect, speeding through a “catching-up” meal like that kind of defeats the purpose of the long-awaited reunion, but you’d be surprised at how much you can fit into a 45 minute conversation should you surpass the small talk and get right to the nitty-gritty. I’ve always wondered why it is socially implied to make small talk with people you just meet, instead of going straight for the real talk. I personally never enjoyed dabbling on the surface with cliché questions about the weather, the traffic, etc. Yet I still find myself doing it from time to time, mostly when I’m at a loss of interesting things to discuss. I guess that’s one purpose of small talk– filling in awkward silences. But then again, why must silences be uncomfortable? Why can’t we be OKAY with simply, being?

Excuse my little small talk digression. Just a thought I wanted to get out. It’s currently 4:34 p.m. as I’m writing this post. Today was pretty miserable. I pretty much stayed in bed the entire day, plagued with fever, cold sweats and non-stop coughing. I’m totally reminded of the period of sickness I endured at UCLA, except now I’m home on break, with my mom here to make me hot soup and tea with honey and lemon. Earlier today, the entire family was scheduled to have dim sum with one of my dad’s old high school classmates and his wife. I decided to forgo the lunch, however, since I was still feeling really sick. Last night was rough. Slept first thing when we got back from the dinner party. Woke up at 3:00 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep. Basically just tossed and turned until morning came. My room is a total war zone. The blankets are kicked off the bed and I have cups and bowls strewn every which way.

So, back to yesterday (I apologize about the complete lack of organization of this blog piece. Parallels the current state of my room, I guess). After the lunch of Caesar salad and New York Cheese Pizza, my bro’s and I made a quick Nob Hill run, where we bought almond milk. When we got home, I went back to bed. I slept until 4:30 p.m., when Chris woke me up, telling me to get ready for that night’s dinner party. We were invited to the Espiritu’s home for a hot-pot dinner. Dr. Espiritu is our family’s dentist. Auntie Maria is his wife, and they have two kids– Kyle and Kaitlyn, both in high school. We go WAY back with all of them, but we haven’t seen each other in years, after the busyness of life carried us our own directions. Thankfully, yesterday, we had the chance to catch up on lost time! I really did enjoy myself at the party. Dinner was amazing, courtesy of Auntie Maria’s incredible efforts. I absolutely adore the family dog, a Chihuahua and Poodle mix. Her name is “Sexy” and she is the friendliest (and might I add, sexiest) dog ever! The party went on till past midnight, as the adults had a lot to talk about, with their children all grown up. Towards the end of the night, I was feeling really sick again, so I took a nap on the family room sofa. All-in-all, though, I had a great night with old family friends!

Fast-forward to today. As I mentioned already, I stayed in bed the whole day, with the exception of getting up to go to the bathroom, drink hot soup, and take a shower (I couldn’t stand the sticky feeling of sweat all over my body). Watched some Fuller House. Did some social media dives. Listened to a TED Talk podcast. I dream of giving a TED talk one day. You know, once I’m cool enough to actually give one. And when I overcome my fear of public speaking. Next quarter at UCLA, I’d really like to join Bruin Toastmasters or something to get me up and speaking. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but I still get pretty nervous when I have to give a presentation or something like that. I have faith that with time and practice and the courage to fail, I will be able to overcome this!

Okay, friends. Sorry this post wasn’t more interesting, haha. If I don’t post tomorrow, it’ll be because I’m recovering. But hopefully I will be better before the New Year! Speaking of which, I’m currently writing a piece for the Daily Bruin on the psychology of New Year’s Resolutions. I’ll share with you guys my outlook on the whole tradition of resolutions in a later post. For now, here are some links to articles on New Year’s Resolutions that I stumbled upon during my research:

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resolution.aspx

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201512/6-reasons-you-probably-wont-achieve-your-resolutions

http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

I hope these articles are able to give you guys some guidance on how to set more effective and realistic resolutions, thus boosting your chances of sticking to them!

3 Gratitudes:

  • my mom to take care of me when I’m sick!
  • my grandma, who makes the best anti-cough soup ever!
  • the Espiritu family for being so fun and loyal all these years

 

2017, BOY ARE WE READY FOR YOU!

 

-Belicia

 

Blogmas Day 10: Sick Day :(

Hey guys! This post is gonna be a quickie, because as you can tell from the title, I am sick!!!

I woke up around 11:00 a.m. and was feeling pretty okay. Mom, Dad, Chris, Grandma and I headed out to dim sum shortly after I woke up (Austin was at the gym, I believe). We ate at this dim sum place we’ve never been to, and the food was delectable! My appetite was up, and I didn’t start feeling sick until after we had finished eating.

On the way back home, we stopped by the Marina to pick up some food. My dad, grandma and I stayed in the car while Chris and Mom shopped. By that time, my head was pounding pretty badly, and I felt pretty weak and dizzy. The back of my eyeballs burned when I blinked– yet another tell-tale sign of sickness. I slept the entire car ride back.

When we got home, it was around 2:00 p.m. I went straight to bed and woke up at 6:00 p.m. Originally, I had planned to go out for a Vietnamese dinner with my high school friend, Denis. I was really looking forward to catching up with him and was super disappointed that I had to cancel the dinner due to my health!

The rest of the night has pretty much been comprised of intermittent naps and Netflix and YouTube binges. I absolutely adore figure skating, and I’ve been watching a lot of Evgenia Medvedeva, Elena Radionova and Yuzuru Hanyu– all incredible skaters. At 7:15 p.m., I phoned Chris from my sick room and asked him to bring me some Tylenol and water from downstairs. He kindly obliged, and after I took the Tylenol, my headache got ten times better. I managed to hobble downstairs for dinner at around 7:30 p.m.– Chris had baked some really delicious salmon, so I couldn’t miss out! I’ve been drinking plenty of fluids and going to the bathroom a lot, so hopefully my illness will be gone soon. I’ve had a cold for a really long time now, but it’s strange that only now it would progress into something worse (flashbacks to my 2-week period of sickness at UCLA). My grandma, Mom, and Dad are also experiencing varying degrees of illness. Something is definitely going around our household… Austin won’t stand two inches next to any of us sick folk, since he plans to play flag football on Friday with friends.

I’m sorry today’s Blogmas wasn’t all that interesting! I absolutely hate being sick, which is all the more reason why I should be thankful for my relatively good health.

I guess the one interesting thing that happened today was my questioning pre-med, yet again. Except, this time, I really did consider the alternative of a career other than becoming a doctor. If I decide not to go to med school, I’d probably major in psychology, go on to grad school, and get my PhD. As for what field of psychology I’d go into, I’m not sure yet. There’s counseling, research, teaching, all sorts of options to consider. I’m genuinely interested in psychology, and even though this field may have a bad rep among skeptics, I think it’s important for me to pursue what I love, despite what others think. Over dim sum, I casually brought up this idea to my parents. My dad nodded his head in approval. My mom didn’t object. See? No parental pressure, which I’m utterly grateful for. Plus, if I did just psychology, I’d have a LOT more time for dancing and writing. But again– these are just ideas. I’m not completely ruling out medicine as a career path. I need to explore the medical field and get more data before I make this big change.

Alright guys, I’m going to bed now. Hopefully I’ll be better by tomorrow! Have a good night!

 

4 Gratitudes:

  • supportive parents
  • Tylenol
  • general good health
  • Chris!!!

 

-Belicia

Blogmas Day 9: Oh, Happy Day!

I awoke from my restful slumber at 10 a.m. The first thing I did upon awakening was pull out my laptop and finish up Blogmas Day 7/8, which was actually due last night. This past weekend has been pretty draining, with Christmas parties and family outings and such. I had a great time, though, and am ready to get back to regular Blogmas posts.

Finishing up Blogmas Days 7 and 8 took me all the way until 12:30 p.m. If you guys haven’t seen it yet, please check it out! Although, fair warning: this post is a doozy.

After writing, I did my morning routine and headed downstairs. I had originally planned on going to San José to meet with my friend from UCLA, Ivy, who happens to be in NorCal this week. However, I didn’t know my parents had made plans to take us out for lunch! So I had to reschedule with Ivy. It’s okay, though– we have the next four years to bond!

For lunch, it was between Japanese, Pho noodles, dim sum, or ABC café, which serves a whole variety of Hong Kong-nese style dishes. We ended up settling on ABC. I ordered a beef/tomato sauce over white rice. Dad had a similar thing, except his rice was covered with two different sauces. Mom and Chris had wonton soup noodles. Austin was not present– he went running with some friends. I was in good spirits throughout the meal. I had good food and a great family. What more could I ask for?

After lunch, we headed to the Marina to do some grocery shopping. I never like going to the back of the store, where the fish market is, because it wreaks of raw seafood. When I grimaced at the smell, my mom told me I had to get used to it, as I’d be doing this someday. I told her that I did not care for fish, and thus would never find myself in this section of the market. She replied that I still had to cook fish for my family. It’s like, seriously?! Why must I do that?! Anyway, after leaving the grocery store, my mom, Chris and I walked to a nearby bakery, where we bought a Black Forrest cake and coconut bread.

We got home at almost 4:00 p.m. By then, with our lunches sufficiently digested in our tummies, Chris, Dad, Austin and I decided to go to the gym! Chris and Austin took one car, while Dad and I took another. I drove us there and back. It was a smooth sail both ways, although I had a little trouble parking the car. Dad and I worked out until 5:30 p.m. I warmed up on the elliptical, and focused my workout on abs exercises. Lately, I’ve been incorporating a lot more machines into my workout than I’d used to. I struggled with using the device that resembles a single wheel with two handles on the side. You know which one I’m talking about? You go on your knees and, holding the device, roll out as far as you can go while keeping your core tight, and then roll back in. I can’t go out very far, lest I want to fall flat on my belly. I took the device over to my dad and asked him if I was using it correctly. While he was assessing my performance, a kind man walked up to us and suggested I put a slightly elevated cushioning underneath my knees, which should help me go out further. And it did!

At 5:30 p.m., my dad and I called it a day. Austin and Chris, who were still in the middle of weight training, said they’d come home at around 6:00 p.m.

I got home to the sound of my mother cooking on the brand new stove top. My grandma is usually the one who cooks dinner, but since she’s a bit under the weather, my mom took over. She was a making sautéed veggies, clams, greens, and abalone. As she cooked, I helped do the laundry (something I couldn’t do before college) and set the dinner table.

After my chores were completed, I plopped on my bed and read an excerpt from Dr. Pamela Wible’s book, Physician Suicide Letters Answered. The book discusses the huge problem of mental health illness among medical students and practicing physicians, and how many of these health care professionals suffer in silence with depression and suicidal thoughts. There was one story about a 3rd year medical student, Kaitlyn, who suffered from depression her entire life, unbeknownst to her parents. On paper, she was incredibly accomplished. In addition to being a stellar student, Kaitlyn was an artist, poet, writer and dedicated marathon runner. To her parents, she was always happy. But inside, Kaitlyn suffered. And so, she decided that the only logical way out was not to seek help, for doing so may harm her medical career, but to kill herself. And so, she took her own life. This seemingly happy, highly-accomplished young woman with a promising future as a physician, ended her life at the ripe age of 23. Her mother, so grief-stricken that she had failed to notice her daughter’s signs of depression, just couldn’t cope with the ensuing guilt, and ended her own life.

This tragic story definitely illustrates the mental health crisis faced by nurses, doctors, and aspiring doctors. It’s a field where mental health stigma runs the deepest. Doctors are obligated to report any mental health illness they may have. Many doctors worry that should knowledge of their mental health struggles become public information, they may have their medical licenses revoked. And so, many choose to suffer in silence. It’s ironic, isn’t it? The suicidal doctor. The one who heals and vows to do no harm, yet wanting to end his/her own life. Makes me question whether or not I, as an individual with a history of mental health problems, am well-suited for this particularly demanding profession.

It’s about 8:15 p.m. right now, and I really want to watch some Harry Potter before I go to bed. My favorite of the series is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, because the triwizard tournament is thrilling to watch.

3 Gratitudes:

  • Having my father in my life, who, despite facing physician’s burnout, is still powering through each day and staying strong.
  • Having a family and community of friends so understanding and compassionate about my issues with mental health. Never have I felt the urge to hide it or treat it as something to be ashamed of.
  • My warm bed

 

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow!

 

 

-Belicia

Blogmas Days 7 and 8: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!!!

Hey guys! I apologize for not uploading a blog post for the past couple days. My family and I spent an entire weekend celebrating Christmas! So today’s blog is gonna be a double-whammy Christmas special! Also, stay tuned for a regular Blogmas Day 9 later tonight!

Christmas Eve

I woke up at around 10 a.m. to  Chris yelling at me to get up, as we had to leave soon for a family outing in San Francisco. So I got out of bed and did my usual morning routine. After breakfast, I finished the movie Amelie, which I have officially deemed one of my all-time favorites. By 11:30 a.m., my family was still not ready to get going, leaving me wondering why Chris had rushed me out of bed. At a little past noon, we all piled into the white van and headed to the city for a day of sight-seeing and eating! I fell asleep on the car ride to SF. Once we arrived, the first order of business was to find a restaurant to eat at, just to keep us mildly satiated before the big Christmas Eve dinner we’d be having that night. We walked around Fisherman’s Wharf in search for a not-too-crowded eatery. Austin and Dad led the crew, as they’ve always been the ones to make most of the executive decisions in the family. I’m trying harder to play a bigger role in decision-making and contributing my opinion when we have to make family decisions, instead of letting others call the shots and mindlessly following. Finally, we found this seafood restaurant that had no waiting time! For lunch, I had fish and chips, fried calamari with ketchup and tartar sauce, crab cake, and some clam chowder. I had originally not intended on eating such a large (and unhealthy) meal, as I wanted to save room for dinner, but alas! I couldn’t control myself!

After lunch, we walked around Fisherman’s Wharf and did some sight-seeing, took some pictures. If you knew my mom, you’d know that she’s obsessed with taking pictures. Everywhere. I swear, she was a photographer in her past life! Anywho, her picture-taking antics can be quite annoying at times, especially when she insists on taking a gazillion photos of me and my brothers– so much so that our faces hurt from artificially smiling at her Samsung smartphone! That’s why, for Christmas, my brothers and I got her an intro to photography book. But more on that later…

We drove to downtown SF, where my mom used to hang out when she was attending SF State University, back in the olden days. We arrived at this scenic area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and got out of the car. My mom led us along a trail, where she claims she used to jog at night when she was a student. I asked her if she had to “bundle up” in warm clothes when she jogged (my mom always makes us wear lots of layers when there’s even the slightest breeze outside), but to my surprise, she said she usually didn’t! As I don’t know much about my mom and her college days, I really appreciated her sharing some old stories. She recalled how, some days, she would walk along Broadway Street with friends, and her friend Cindy would shout her name really loudly. Unbeknownst to her, a “short Italian man” working as a strip club bouncer soon caught on. Every time my mom passed by the strip club to get back to her apartment after class, this bouncer would call her by her name and attempt to converse/flirt with her! At first, my mom was polite and smiled back, but eventually, she became “annoyed and angry” at this man, whom she did not care to associate with. One day, she called him off, telling him, “Stop talking to me!” That, I must say, was pretty bad-ass of my mom.

At around 3:30 p.m., we headed back home to get ready for the Christmas Eve party at our family friends’ house. I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say that we were all exhausted from the few hours we spent in SF. Chris and I fell asleep the entire car ride home. I felt sorry for my dad, who had to drive us there and back, and was probably even more tired than us kids. But the thing is, my dad never complains, even when he comes home from a long and hectic day at the hospital. I really admire that about him.

Once we arrived home, we all got dressed and dolled-up for the Christmas Party, hosted by long-time family friends, Auntie Ella and Uncle Henry. I always love their annual Christmas parties! Uncle Henry is an amazing chef, and Auntie Ella is always the most welcoming host and charismatic M.C.

When we arrived at Auntie Ella and Uncle Henry’s home, people were already filing in, and the kitchen was busy with preparation for the feast. Austin, Chris, my grandma and I got our own little table in corner of the house, while my parents sat at the large roundtable with other adults. Appetizers were already laid out– white grapes, little slices of sourdough bread and cool ranch flavored nacho chips with blue cheese dipping sauce. In the beginning, as not a lot of people were present yet, my brothers and I mingled amongst ourselves, nibbling on appetizers and trying to teach my grandma how to use the internet on her smartphone (a lost cause, as we soon discovered). My mom insisted on taking a plethora of photos, as the house was so beautifully decorated for Christmas. One thing that ticks off me and my brothers is my mom’s tendency to take FOREVER to snap a single photo on her phone. You would think that, with smartphones, it would take less than two seconds to take a picture. But no!! My mom has to get the lighting perfect before taking the photo. The problem is, you can only hold your smile for so long until the muscles in your face start to tire, and your smile because painfully fake. I’ve found that in such cases, when the muscles of my face start quivering with exhaustion and I feel like I can hold my smile no longer, squeezing the shirt hem of the person standing next to me (usually my brother) can help. Or, I just laugh at Chris’s loud grumbling that naturally follows when my mom is being slow. A third trick is to have someone, usually Austin, say something funny to make me laugh, so my smile is no longer so forced. Little things like that help a lot.

Later, as more guests arrived and familiar faces of people we see once every year at these Christmas parties appeared, I left our assigned table to work the room and mingle. Take that, social anxiety!

At nearly 8:00 p.m., the feast was ready. Boy, was it one heck of a dinner! Everything was cooked by Uncle Henry, whose birthday we were celebrating in addition to Christmas! Laid out buffet style were an assortment of salads, mushroom stew, corn bread, lobster, king crab, beef tenderloin, grilled vegetables, lobster soup, oysters, linguini, and lots lots more. Before lining up to fill our plates, Uncle Henry said a prayer, in Cantonese. The thing is, not everyone at the party understood Cantonese! So, mid-prayer, one lady said “Amen” prematurely. It was all I could do to stop myself from laughing out loud. I accidentally let a laugh or two escape from my mouth, and Austin, who was grinning himself, kicked me under the table. I feel bad that I would find something like that funny, instead of sympathizing with the poor woman, who must have felt quite embarrassed. Why couldn’t I have acted a little more maturely? Well, anyway, I asked my dad later if he found the incident funny, and he replied, “Kind of.” Which, if you know my dad, is saying A LOT, since he is very serious most of the time.

After the prayer, tables were called up randomly to get food. Despite eating a large lunch earlier in the day, I still went for two complete rounds of main course and one round of dessert. I tried pretty much everything, except the mushroom stew, since I’ve never liked mushrooms since as long as I can remember. I also stayed away from the seafood, since I’m not a huge fan of the creatures of the sea. Nonetheless, everything was so marvelously presented and tasted even better than it looked! It was so funny– before the masses were unleashed to have at the food, everyone crowded around the kitchen to take pictures of the incredible feast. It was like a freaking paparazzi party in the house! For dessert, I had fruit (good Belicia) and two slices of cake– tiramisu and chocolate (naughty Belicia). I tried Uncle Henry’s homemade orange cream soda, which tasted absolutely delicious!

After dinner was game time! In the past, game time (in any context) was always an ordeal for me, as it involved interacting with others and letting your personality loose, which I wasn’t always comfortable with doing. Tonight was testament to how far I’ve come in overcoming my social anxiety, as I didn’t find myself nearly as nervous as I used to be during game time! Sure, I did feel that momentary flurry of nerves during the raffle game, when Uncle Henry read out the winning ticket numbers. A part of me wanted to win a prize, while another (more familiar) part of me didn’t want to, as winning entailed walking in front of all those people and being the center of attention, if only for a single moment. In the end, no one in my family won a raffle prize! It was definitely a stark contrast to last year, when our family won several prizes between the five of us!

After games were over, we decided to check out for the night. It was a night of great food, great fun and great people. Christmas spirit was in the air, and I really appreciate Auntie Ella and Uncle Henry for their tremendous efforts to impart such joy to their friends each holiday season. I fell asleep on the ride home and was so tired that I decided to call it a night once I had changed into my pj’s and zoomed through my night routine.

 

Christmas Day

I woke up around 10 a.m. to rays of sunlight seeping through the cracks of the curtains. After finishing my morning routine, I headed downstairs and saw my dad and two brothers  already up and about. After wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, I sat down at the dining table and ate some cereal with almond milk. My mom was still upstairs, probably sleeping in.

After breakfast, I headed out to the living room for present-opening time! This year, we didn’t put up a Christmas tree. I’m pretty sure we discontinued the tradition a few years back. Our family is not super enthusiastic about Christmas, but we still celebrate. As usual, stockings hung above the fireplace, beckoning to be emptied. I spotted some presents from our Uncle Richard and Auntie Ruth sitting on the table. Being the impatient person I am, I decided to open my present first. Auntie Ruth got me these super comfy and fashionable Adidas sweat pants! I immediately put them on (well, I went back to my room first to put them on) and wore ’em for the rest of the day!

Once I had opened the first present, the others filed into the living room and followed in suit. From our Uncle and Auntie, Chris got this snazzy black bow tie (great for his piano recitals) while Austin got an equally snazzy skinny black tie. My dad usurped my mom’s role of photographer during this present-opening ritual. But where in the world was my mom?

Shortly after we started opening presents, my mom came rushing down in her nightgown and, without a word, started opening Macy’s boxes and digging out old Christmas-present bags. She later apologized for not having the presents ready on time. She was so tired the night before, she wait straight to bed without wrapping presents! We forgive you, Mom! Meanwhile, Austin, Chris and I all pitched in for Dad’s present– a Warrior’s hoodie! He put it on, and we were glad to see that it fit like a charm.

While Mom continued her last-minute wrapping of presents, I tried my hand at the baby grand piano sitting in the living room. I opened a hymn book and played the right hand melody of “Noel”. I started piano when I was six years old, but quit in 8th grade when gymnastics and school became too time-consuming. Chris was the only one of the three of us who continued, and look at where he is now! Anyway, the only two pieces I can play on piano now are Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata (first movement). My dad was pleasantly surprised that I could still play some. When Chris sight-read “Noel” from the hymn book, he could immediately do both hands at a decent tempo. Compared to Chris, my piano skills are nothing, lol.

Eventually, my mom brought out five large, present-filled bags into the living room’s center. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting any more presents besides the one from Uncle Richard and Auntie Ruth, just because I explicitly told my mom and dad that I didn’t want anything for Christmas this year. Going to UCLA in itself is the best present anyone could ask for. My mother disregarded my wishes (although, I am not complaining). Before we started opening more presents, we wanted our grandma to be with us for the ceremony, but she was in her room, asleep. My grandma has been feeling under the weather for the past few days, so we decided to not disturb her as she convalesced.

With each present we opened, my dad snapped a picture of us holding our respective gifts. Austin, Chris and I also pitched in to get our mom an intro to photography book, since she just LOVES taking pictures. She was very pleased when she opened her gift.

To my surprise, Austin had so lovingly gotten presents for both me and Chris! He got me this book-shaped desk organizer, since I love reading and my desk is pretty cluttered, with random pens and pencils and other stationary scattered every which way. He also got me this UCLA tote bag that he’d received for free during move-in weekend, lol. I felt kind of bad for not getting Austin anything this Christmas. I’m thinking of getting him and Chris a belated-Christmas present.

While material presents are wonderful, Christmas is about the spirit of giving, loving, and being together with those you care about. I honestly could not ask for a better Christmas. For once, my dad was not working on Christmas Day, so it was a treat just to have him spending the holiday with us this year. I really wish my grandmother wasn’t sick, so she could’ve been a part of the festivities.

After opening presents and throwing away the shreds of wrapping paper, Austin had the ingenious idea of watching the Christmas classic, Elfas a family! So we gathered round the dining room tv and watched the movie while eating dim-sum leftovers for lunch. My mom brought out fresh black cherries and salted edamame as movie snacks. It was a great family bonding time.

The movie ended around 3:30 p.m. We had about an hour before we needed to get ready for another Christmas party at a family friend’s home! I used that hour to take a nap. After waking to the sound of Chris yelling at me to get ready, I scrolled through my closet in search of a festive outfit for the party. I eventually settled for a bright red top and black pants. I put on my new dangling golden earrings from Forever 21. For makeup, I kept it really really simple. Pretty much left it at lip gloss. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of make up. I have acne, so piling foundation on top of my face just clogs up my pores and causes more breakouts. Plus, I’m a believer in natural beauty. Sometimes, I find that I look better fresh-faced without an ounce of makeup on my face, than I do with makeup on!

At around 5:30 p.m., we finally left the house. My grandmother, who originally did not want to go to the party because of her cough, decided last-minute that she was strong enough to go.

We arrived at Uncle Peter and Auntie Eva’s home at around 6:15 p.m. Also present were Uncle Peter and Auntie Eva’s son, Justin; Uncle Peter’s sisters, Auntie Theresa, Auntie Mary (who is my godmother), and Auntie Moi; Auntie Theresa’s husband, Uncle Ken, and their son and daughter, Mark and Michelle; Peter, Theresa, Mary, and Moi’s father; Auntie Mary’s Pomeranian, Cream, and Uncle Peter’s Pomeranian, Beanie. It was indeed a full house.

We were greeted with joy and Christmas spirit. Everyone was wearing Santa hats and ugly sweaters and red and green clothing! There was a Christmas tree at the corner of the house with presents piled underneath. The dinner was hot-pot style, so there were two dining tables set up, each with a pot of boiling soup base at the center. The set-up of the tables was amazing! The big plates and wooden chopsticks were designated for holding raw food, while the little black plate and red chopsticks were for cooked food. The utensils were wrapped really nicely in festive cloth napkins. In the kitchen were raw meats, veggies, fish balls and tofu that we put on our plates, brought back to the table, and placed in the hot pots for cooking.   Also in the kitchen was a sauce-making station where we could mix soy sauce and other spices and oils together to dip our boiled meats and veggies in.

While I did have my reservations about how conducting a hot pot dinner with so many people would play out, I have to say, this dinner was marvelously organized and ran very smoothly! The only hiccup of the night had nothing to do with the dinner itself. Towards the beginning of the evening, when we had just arrived and taken off our shoes and coats, my grandmother missed a step and fell down on her back, crashing into some chairs in the process. Because of her illness, she was more disoriented than usual, and thus was less aware of her surroundings. During her fall, she grabbed onto the nearest object, which happened to be Austin. Austin was unable to fully catch her, but he did break her fall significantly. My grandma’s fall was further cushioned by the puffy black jacket she was wearing. The incident was scary, unexpected, and caught everyone off guard, but thankfully, my grandmother emerged unscathed.

For dessert, we had homemade tiramisu cake, courtesy of Uncle Ken! There were two cakes, actually– one with rum and one without. The one without rum was circular in shape with “Lady Finger” cookies lining the circumference. I helped myself to 2 servings, since it was THAT good! Also for dessert was homemade fruit salad, which was equally delicious and just a tad healthier.

Uncle Peter and Auntie Eva got the three of us these awesome mug-bowl fusions that are perfect for college students. Will definitely be putting mine to good use once I head back to school!

At around 9-something p.m., it was time to say our goodbyes. I really enjoyed spending my Christmas with some wonderful and kind-hearted people. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep on the car ride home (I do that a lot nowadays). Either that, or I listened to Katy Perry’s Rise on repeat whilst doing some mental dance choreography. Once we got home, I did my night routine and started writing this Christmas-extravaganza blog post! At around midnight, I decided to call it a night, after a weekend of fun and celebration!

6 Gratitudes:

  • my family
  • our family friends
  • my godmother
  • the wonderful memories of this past weekend that I can hold on to forever
  • my Christmas presents
  • good food!!!

 

Thanks for reading this super long Christmas Blogmas Special, and have a great last few days of 2016!

 

*RIP George Michael. A talented soul departed too soon.

Blogmas Day 6: Bonding Galore!

Greetings, dear friends, and welcome to Blogmas Day 6! I hope all of you are getting pumped and prepped for the coming holiday festivities- I know I am!

Today, like yesterday, was a great day. I woke up around 10 a.m. but fell asleep again until 11:00 a.m… silly me! As I didn’t feel the motivation to leave the warmth of my bed, I grabbed my Elenor Roosevelt autobiography and read it in bed until nearly noon.

At noon, my mom suddenly called my name in a frenzy, as we were in a hurry to eat lunch at this interesting hot pot place called “Fashion Wok”. While my mom told me she had informed me of our lunch plans the day before, I honestly had no recollection of such prearrangements, and thus was very confused! My brothers, who had both gotten up before I did, were all ready to leave the house, while my dad and I were still getting ready. So Mom, Austin and Chris left for the restaurant first in a separate car.

My dad and I finally arrived at the restaurant at 12:30 p.m. This restaurant is really interesting, because unlike traditional hot pot, where you have one giant pot filled with boiling soup base that everyone shares and cooks their raw meat/veggies in, this restaurant serves each person their own little pots, each with a different combination of meat/veggies/noodles. I ordered #10, the “Korean Army Pot”, which contained ramen noodles, sausage, baloney, bok choy, tofu, and this random slice of cheddar cheese! Each order also came with a bowl of rice.

I hardly had time to finish my meal because I had a therapy appointment at 1:00 p.m. with the new therapist!  So I tried my best to gobble down the really really hot food, and was bummed when I had to leave at 12:45 p.m., without indulging in my meal to its entirety. My mom said she would doggie bag my food, which she ended up NOT doing (since I guess it’s difficult to take home the hot soup base).

My dad dropped me off at Kaiser at 1:00 p.m. sharp. I walked up to the 4th floor to fill out a bunch of paperwork, since this was my first time in adult psych. As usual, I felt a bit jittery before the therapy session, but more so because this was my first session with the new lady, whose name I still don’t know how to pronounce!

As I was sitting in the waiting area, this female therapist walked out of the door leading to a wing of offices, and I presumed she was my new therapist. She approached me, and I was about to introduce myself, when she cut me off and told me, “Hold on one sec,” and walked back through the swinging door she’d just come from. I was a bit confused, as this didn’t seem too professional. I waited for about ten more minutes, continuing to complete the paperwork, when she reappeared and led me through the doors, to her office.

The session lasted around 45 minutes. As usual, I told her what was going on with me, as well as my family background and some other relevant info. I’d say my former therapist was a lot warmer and easier to talk to, but that may be because I’ve been with her for over two years, and I’ve developed a deeper connection with her. The vibe I got when talking to this new therapist was that I was talking to an equal, as opposed to a professional whom I’d be able to trust with my deepest thoughts… I don’t know why I felt this way. Maybe it was her nonchalant, borderline “fake” tone of voice, as opposed to the sincerely empathetic and understanding one of my former therapist. And when I asked her how I could get out of the depressive cycle I’ve been in for the past couple of weeks, her reply was simply, “Do stuff.” Of course, she elaborated on what she meant by “do stuff”, but just the delivery of her advice seemed devoid of sympathy or understanding of the crippling nature of depression. Sure, it’s easy to say “do stuff”, but when a depressed person can’t even find the strength to get out of bed in the morning, the very task of “doing stuff” is probably the hardest thing in the world. That said, I think her advice is legitimate. My depressive cycle is like a positive feedback loop (credits go to my LS 30A class for teaching me this concept). My depression is often triggered when I find my life devoid of structure or a goal to fight towards. After ten weeks of hardcore studying and getting the hang of college life, I came home for winter break, unsure of what to do with all the free time I suddenly had. That was the primary trigger for the depression. The more depressed I felt, the less motivated I was to do anything, which in turn exacerbated the pre-existing depressive feelings. It was this endless cycle that has been very hard to break. I know that once I go back to college and start the daily grind once more, my depression will likely fade. However, I don’t want to wait that long to feel better. I hate letting my circumstances dictate how I feel. I wish I could develop an inner core so steady and unshakeable that no matter what situation I find myself in, be it winter break or during the school year, I will be able to control my emotions, remain level-headed, and live productively and happily. I’m determined that, starting tomorrow, I will get back on my feet and force myself out of bed, even if I don’t feel motivated. If I feel that my life lacks structure, I will create my own structure! The new therapist told me to make a very structured schedule for each day that I will abide by. The key is to force myself to stick to the schedule, even if I don’t feel like it. Only then will I be able to get out of the unhealthy cycle I’ve been entrapped in since the start of winter break.

Once the therapy session ended, my mom picked me up and drove me home. By the time we arrived home, our high school friend, Noa, was already waiting in his car to take me and Chris to his house for a baking party! We planned on baking blueberry scones, but I decided to bring along the molasses cookie mix I’d bought from Nob Hill, just in case we had time after the scones were finished.

Upon arriving at Noa’s place, introductions were made and formalities exchanged. Noa’s mom and dad were home, as well as his sister and her friend. Their family dog, Piccolo, was super friendly to me and kept giving me kisses! He wasn’t as friendly to Chris, however… lol. But Chris has had a history of making dogs angry, so I wasn’t terribly surprised. After washing our hands and reading the instructions, we proceeded to make the scones from scratch. The procedure wasn’t terribly difficult to follow, and I’d say the three of us made a pretty A-OK team! Since Chris’s livelihood depended on his hands (he’s a pianist), I made sure he was super careful when using the grater. After the dough was made and placed on the pan in little “wannabe-right-triangle” shapes, it was time to bake ’em! The whole process took no longer than half-an-hour, I’d wager. Thus, we had plenty of time to make the molasses cookies from the cookie mix I had brought! While Chris showed off his piano skills on Noa’s electric keyboard (he has a habit of playing piano at whosever house he goes to), I tried my best to follow the seemingly simply instructions to make the cookies. The recipe said to put 1 stick of butter, 1 tablespoon of water, and 1 egg into the cookie mix. But did these measurements correspond to the entire bag cookie mix? I wasn’t sure. So I measured out 12 teaspoons of mix, which yields approximately 18 cookies. Once everything was mixed together, the resulting dough was far too liquidy for cookie dough. However, I didn’t think much of it, and Noa suggested we put the dough in the refrigerator for it to firm up a bit. Meanwhile, the scones had finished baking, and, after letting it sufficiently cool, the three of us had a little tea party with freshly-brewed tea and our homemade blueberry scones! The scones themselves were not too sweet, but once we lathered lemon curd on our pastries, they were perfect. Soon after, the molasses cookies were ready. Boy, were we unprepared for what we saw!!!! Because the dough was so liquidy, the cookies essentially “spread out” and blended with one another to create one really flat and gigantic molasses cookie, with one or two rogue individual cookies that transcended this unfortunate fate. Shape aside, the cookies were delicious, although their extreme softness caused them to taste more like pancakes than cookies! Next time around, we’ll know to add the ENTIRE bag of cookie mix, instead of just however much we pleased, to create cookie dough of the correct consistency.

While we waited for our mom to pick us up from Noa’s house, Chris, Noa and I sat on the sofa and watched the French movie, Amelie. You know, I’ve been meaning to watch that movie for a long time now, and I’ve even fallen in love with the soundtrack. However, something about its being in French turned me off, because I thought that having to read the English subtitles would detract from the movie’s experience. Well, boy was I wrong. From the beginning of the movie, I fell in love with the unique style of this film. It’s third-party, omniscient narration was quite interesting. The soundtrack, as I mentioned, was so beautiful. I was entranced by the title character, Amelie, who is super eccentric but kind-hearted and beautiful. We only watched about 15 minutes of the movie at Noa’s house before it was time to go. I plan on finishing the movie either later tonight or tomorrow.

After saying our goodbyes, we left Noa’s house and headed back home. Both Chris and I were yawning continually during the ride back! I’m not sure why we were so exhausted… Maybe a post-sugar crash. Anyway, once I got home, I took an hour-long nap from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., while Chris, whom I presume was still in his “cooking mode”, made semi-raw tuna with handmade dipping sauce. I woke up at 7:30 p.m. to his voice yelling at me to come downstairs and try his creation! He was very excited, in an almost adorable way.

Now don’t get me wrong– I’m a huge fan of Chris’s cooking. He’s got a real knack for it. However, when it comes to anything even the slightest bit raw, I will refuse to eat it. I’m the person who likes her steak well-done. I’ve never tried sashimi in my life. My childhood obsession with the Animal Planet program, Monsters Inside Me, that documents cases of worms and other disgusting parasites that enter the human body, has scarred me for life. Anyway, I really didn’t want to disappoint Chris, who was hovering over me like an eager puppy. So… I ATE THE TUNA! I gobbled it down really quickly, quickly rinsing my mouth with soup right after. I told Chris that I liked his cooking, especially the seasoning. I wasn’t totally lying– the semi-raw tuna wasn’t as gag-inducing as I expected it to be. Still wouldn’t eat it if I had the choice, though. When my brother Austin came home shortly later, Chris hustled Austin over to his masterpiece and urged him to try it, as he did with me. I found the whole spectacle adorable, and it warms my heart whenever I think of Chris’s childish grin as he watched our reactions to his cooking.

At around 8:00 p.m., I drove to the gym (with my mom in the passenger’s seat), where I met with my good friend, Linda. The two of us worked out for about an hour and a half and caught up on our winter breaks! Linda also goes to UCLA, so I have four more years to bond with her! After completing our workouts, Linda gave me a ride home.

Upon arriving at the foot of my garage, I decided I wasn’t ready to step foot in the house yet, as I wanted to take a stroll under the stars, and do some thinking. I put my gym bag down and walked around for probably 40 minutes, just reflecting. It was a bit chilly outside, but I was wearing a super thick marshmallow jacket, so I braved the cold with ease. My neighborhood is super safe, so I didn’t worry too much about potential kidnappers, although I was taking a risk by not bringing my pepper spray with me. The night sky was absolutely gorgeous. There was no moon visible tonight, but hundreds of shimmering stars dotted the dark backdrop of night. In that moment, I felt at one with nature.

After the walk, my head was a lot more clear, and I was ready to go back home. The rest of the night has consisted of writing this blog post and helping my mom vacuum the house. Now seems like a good time to end this post, especially since it’s now 12:25 a.m. and I’m nearly 30 minutes past my deadline! Thanks for readying, everyone, and I wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah!

3 Gratitudes:

  • close friends
  • living in such a safe neighborhood
  • planet Earth

 

 

-Belicia

Blogmas Day 5: New Therapist and Family Bonding

Today was one of the best days I’ve had this break!

The morning didn’t start out too well, though. I wasn’t able to get out of bed until 11:30 a.m. The good news is, at least I got nearly 12 hours of sleep!

Upon waking up, I opened the curtains and did my usual morning routine of brushing my teeth, cleansing my face, applying moisturizer, etc. I cleaned my room so that my clothes were no longer piled at the foot of the bed. By the time I reached downstairs, it was lunch time, so I had a brunch of cereal, boiled tea egg, my mom’s famous smoothie, an egg roll and some Shang Hai style stir-fried green beans.

After brunch, I headed back to my brightly lit room and watched a 25-minute episode of “Fuller House” (that show gives me the feels…) while awaiting my phone call appointment with my therapist of the past two and a half years. I made a list of all the things I wanted to discuss with her, including:

  • the depression that started at the commencement of winter break
  • my questioning of pre-med
  • my despondency towards dancing

At 1:30 p.m., my therapist called. We hadn’t spoken since week 3 of fall quarter, so about two months ago. Basically, I spilled out everything I needed to get off my chest and asked her how I could get out of the depressive rut I’m currently in. She suggested that I force myself to leave the house by planning at least one activity each day that involved spending time with friends or family. She urged me to continue dancing, even if not as a profession. She told me to treat dancing as exercise, social engagement and a fun outlet. I don’t need to turn everything I do into a competition, with an end goal in mind. Even 45 minutes of dancing is better than none at all.

My therapist has faith that I will be able to get back on my feet, as I’ve always taken to heart the behavioral suggestions she’s given me. I also found out that my therapist is currently pregnant with a baby boy and will be gone for maternity leave starting in February! She thought it best, then, to transfer me to a new therapist, in case I needed help again down the line. Also, since I’m 18 years old, I’ve technically “graduated” from child psychiatry and am eligible for adult psychiatric services. So my therapist found me a new lady, whom I will be meeting tomorrow for the first time.

I cried over the phone when I found out that I’d no longer be seeing my current therapist, who’s helped me for nearly three years. I came to her July of 2014, when I was about to start my junior year of high school. I was a very grief-stricken, bitter, closed-up and socially inept girl suffering from depression and anxiety. Through weekly one-on-one cognitive behavioral therapy sessions with my therapist, as well as an intensive outpatient group therapy for teens and their parents (I’m so grateful for my mom and dad, who never missed a single meeting), I slowly recovered. If it weren’t for my therapist, no way would I have the courage to tackle my social anxiety by facing head-on the situations that scared me most. She gave me the tools and the emotional support to fight my anxiety, even when things seemed hopeless. She helped me see my many distortions and crawl out of an extreme, unhealthy way of living. She’s the reason why I’m able to enjoy my life more today. She saved me.

I really do miss my therapist, because over the years, we’ve developed the most intimate relationship. She knows my greatest fears, struggles, thought patterns and behavioral habits. I’ve entrusted in her things I dare not divulge to even my parents. However, I’m glad I will still be able to keep in touch with her via email. Even though my case will be handed over to a new therapist, I will keep her posted on my progress, and hopefully, eventual conquering, of my mental health problems.

After the phone call was over, my dad took me to Best Buy to buy a new laptop, because on Friday 12/9, I stupidly left my MacBook Air on the plane that took us home from UCLA. I know, I know. Very absent-minded and inexcusable. I called and emailed Virgin America several times inquiring about my laptop, but to no avail. My laptop is gone. We all make mistakes though (and this one was quite an expensive mistake), but the key is to LEARN from them. Next time, I will TRIPLE check that I have all my belongings before exiting the plane.

We went to Best Buy and got the laptop, as well as a pink case. The total amounted to $956.77, which I plan on paying back to my dad (when I get a job this summer, of course).

At 3:45 p.m., Austin, Chris, my dad and I headed to the movie theaters to watch Dr. Strange. It was originally supposed to be an ENTIRE family activity, but since my mom had to monitor Ken, the handyman installing a new stove-top in our kitchen, she had to opt out this time.

The sci-fi/fantasy movie was pretty epic. It’s about this brilliant but insanely arrogant and self-centered neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange, who, after suffering a (self-induced) freakish car accident that ruined his hands, was forced to retire from his profession. He struggled to find meaning in life after the career that constituted his identity was taken from him. By word of mouth, he discovered this spiritual place in Nepal that is known to heal “broken” individuals. While he thought the “Sorcerer Supreme” would heal his hands so he could go back to his former way of life, he was in for a LOT more than what he’d originally bargained for. Watch the movie to find out more about Dr. Strange’s fate!

As we exited the theater and braved the bitter cold walk towards the car, I asked my dad if neurosurgeons were usually arrogant. My dad, who’s met quite a few at the hospital, said that most were indeed quite full of themselves. “Probably because they make so much money,” he deduced.

From the theaters, we swung by our house to pick up my mom and grandmother, who’d be joining us for a buffet dinner in Daly City. We were all pretty hungry by the time we arrived at Moonstar Buffet (we purposely didn’t buy popcorn or other overpriced movie snacks to save our appetites), but thankfully, there was no wait time, and we could dive straight into the Asian cuisine!

For the first time in a while, I was in good spirits throughout dinner. Austin and I joked about my dad’s pronunciation of “newbie” (he pronounced the “bie” like he was saying “pie”). The three of us also played a game where we stared at my mom with poker faces as she was eating and observed how long it would take for her to notice. It was really difficult trying to keep a straight face! I could tell my mother was very pleased that my spirits were up. My happiness is her happiness. If I’m hurting, she’s breaking inside.

As for the food, I indulged in:

  • ramen soup noodles with wontons and seaweed strips
  • sweet and sour pork
  • a variety of greens, including steamed bok-choy, string beans, and stir-fried broccoli
  • corn on the cob
  • giant clam over transparent rice noodles (not sure what these noodles are actually named)
  • pan-fried flat rice noodles

I was able to exercise some self-restraint by staying away from the buffet’s ice cream bar. For dessert, I had a single almond cookie. Nothing earth-shattering. My sweet tooth was surprisingly mellow tonight!

On the car ride home, I attempted to sing Sia’s Titanium, to my brothers’ horror. I’m thinking of auditioning for UCLA Hooligan Theater’s production of Footloose this coming quarter, so I gotta get those chops ready! Austin and I shared several laughs about the movie. Chris fell asleep mid-car ride, and I was pretty wiped-out myself by the time we got home.

Now it’s 11:21 p.m., and I’m typing away this blog post!

I’m looking forward to tomorrow. At 1:00 p.m. I’ll be meeting my new therapist. At 2:30 p.m., my brother Chris and I will be going to our friend Noa’s home to bake blueberry scones! In the evening, I’ll will meet my friend at the gym for a workout. I’ll be out of the house, fighting my demons by building relationships. Honestly, life doesn’t get much better than that. Sharing simple pleasures and making memories with people you love. As I’m learning to live in the moment and stop obsessing about “achieving success” in life, I’m also realizing that the beauty of life lies in the NOW. You don’t need to have loads of money or a prestigious career to ultimately be happy.

Thanks for reading today’s Blogmas, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!

3 Gratitudes:

  • my therapist
  • good food
  • my family

 

 

-Belicia

Blogmas Day 4: Reunion, Shopping, and Movie Night!

Hey guys, welcome to the 4th day of my Blogmas series! I want to start off my thanking those of you who took the time to read Blogmas Day 3: Family Love, Depression, and Epiphany. It was the longest piece I’ve ever written, and a heavy one too. I appreciate all the positive, encouraging feedback from you all while I’m sorting out a lot of things in my life.

Today was pretty eventful and a lot more light and fluffy than yesterday was. At 10:00 a.m., my brother Austin so fondly coaxed me out of bed by coming into my room and opening the curtains, letting in the bright rays of sunshine. He told me that today was gonna be a great day. He doesn’t know it, but his words, while simple, gave me courage and positivity. It showed that my brother empathized with what I was going through, cared about my recovery, and did all he could to brighten my day. Thank you, Austin.

At 12:30 p.m., Austin, Chris and I headed out to have lunch with our former college counselor, SAT English tutor and family friend, Dr. Chow. We ate at this restaurant called Grill House, which serves a mixture of all-American/Italian food. Lunch was pleasant. We briefed Dr. Chow on our first quarters (for Chris, first semester) of college. We discussed everything from grades to professors to potential budding romances (a big fat zero from all three). Chris naturally dominated the conversation, ranting about his computer science project and how, for one part of the four-person group project, he had done ALL of the work! I told Dr. Chow about how difficult it was to find time for both pre-med and competitive Latin dance, and she concluded that to do both to the degree I would like is virtually impossible. Compromise is unavoidable. It is reality.

After lunch, Austin went home, while Chris and I headed to the mall with my mother to get some clothes altered. Originally, only Chris was scheduled to go, but my mom asked if I’d like to join, and I figured anything would be better than sitting in my room doing nothing.

Going to the mall, taking in the holiday festivities and doing some window shopping was very therapeutic. It felt uplifting to be surrounded by happy people decked in red from head to toe. I explored the wide variety of fragrances from my all-time favorite fragrance store, Bath and Body Works. I did some “window shopping” at Forever 21 and tried on a lot of clothes as my mom finished up her errands. I dream about the day when I can actually afford to buy such clothes, lol… In the end, I bought a pair of dangling gold earrings for myself, as well as two heart-shaped necklaces– one silver and the other gold– for my two friends, Callista and Cassandra, whom I would be seeing that night.

The mall outing took us to about 5:15 p.m. On the way out, I ran into one of my childhood best friends’ mother! We hadn’t seen each other in several years, and boy did we have much to catch up on!

As I was scheduled to meet Callista and Cassandra at the movie theaters that evening, our reunion was ended prematurely. My mom drove me to the theaters, and in my haste to exit the vehicle, I left my phone (aka, my lifeline) inside the car! I only realized what had happened after I had entered the theaters and bought my ticket for the new animation movie, Sing. As I sat on a chair in the theater lobby, grumbling over my absent-mindedness, my brother Chris suddenly stormed in, muttering and shaking his head in disapproval as he handed me my iPhone. Thanks for saving my butt, Chris!

Once Callista and Cassandra arrived and got their tickets, the three of us headed to Chipotle to eat an early dinner before the 7:00 p.m. movie. As we munched on our delicious burritos, we caught up on the past 2.5 months of college. Callista and Cassandra, who are identical twins, just completed their first quarter at UCSB. I always enjoy talking to the twins, as they are two of the sweetest people I know, and also share a similar sentiment and understanding of my experiences.

At around 6:30 p.m., we headed back to the theaters, expecting a super long line for the new movie, which just came out today. To our surprise and relief, no such line existed! We just flounced on in to Auditorium 19, where we found very good seats near the top row. As we were pretty early, we watched about 30 minutes worth of advertisements and trailers. We split one medium popcorn between the three of us, but, as we had nearly completed the entire bag before the movie even began, we decided to buy another medium-sized popcorn.

(the next paragraph contains spoilers from the movie Sing. If you didn’t watch it yet, feel free to skip over this paragraph!)

The movie Sing, in my opinion, was very good. The beginning was a little bit meh… nothing too special. But as the plot progressed, I grew to love the characters more and more, especially the elephant, Meena, who suffers from really bad stage fright. She has an amazing voice and shows the greatest talent and potential among all the singers, but because she never mustered enough courage to perform, her gift remained hidden from the world. Such a travesty it would be if the world was forever deprived of Meena’s angelic yet powerful voice. I loved her development from a super shy, insecure and complacent elephant to one that radiated confidence and passion on the stage. My new motto whenever I’m afraid to try something: “Think of Meena!”

I don’t know what it is about films, but not matter how cliche the story of characters who overcome personal barriers to ultimately reach their dreams, I never fail to walk out of the auditorium inspired.

After the movie, the Callista, Cassandra and I had frozen yogurt for dessert. I had pomegranate-raspberry, cake batter, and pink-lemonade flavor fro-yo, topped with cookie dough, brownie bits and little jellies. We indulged and continued catching up/bonding until the twins’ mom arrived to pick us up.

As I walked up the driveway to my home, I smiled at the joy of having a carefree day of simple pleasures. Reconnecting with old friends. Going to the mall. Watching a movie. Doing these things made me feel a LOT better than I would have, had I chosen to wallow alone in my room.

I arrived home to the sound of my brother Chris, hard at work at the piano. How greatly I missed that music (and to think I used to find it irritating!). After completing my night routine, I plopped down at my laptop and began typing my blog entry.

In the middle of my writing, my dad knocked on my door, asking if he could come in. These moments are rare, as my dad is always away at work, working at his computer, or sleeping. It’s difficult to have one-on-one bonding time with my dad, like I often do with my mom, so I greatly cherish these moments when they happen.

We talked about a lot of things, like how I was questioning pre-med. When I told my father that I was having second thoughts about pursuing a career as a doctor, he replied, “Then don’t do it.” There was no malice or disappointment laced in his voice, like I sometimes hear (or maybe just imagine) when I tell my mom the same thing. His statement was matter-of-fact, nonchalant, even. He really didn’t mind if I didn’t want to be a doctor. That’s something I really appreciate about my father. Even though he is a doctor himself, he never, ever, gave any of his children pressure to follow in his path. In fact, he told me that if a young person were to tell him that he or she were interested in pursuing medicine, his first reply would be, “Think twice.” He stated that I have many other qualities that would serve me in fields other than medicine– writing, being one of them. He emphasized that college was the time to explore, and that it wouldn’t be wise to put myself in a box and limit my options to just pre-med. When he was an undergraduate student, he took random GE courses in geography and communications. The point is, at age 18, no one expects you to know for certain what you want to do for the rest of your life, and college is the optimal time to explore different interests. He described careers in writing, psychology, and even performing arts as “fabulous”! Why close the doors to such career paths, just because they aren’t medicine? What is it about medicine that attracts me? For my dad, it was obviously the passion for healing, but it was also his penchant for problem-solving and his “investigative” and “diagnostic” mind, always hungry to solve puzzles and find the root cause of problems. This is why he chose internal medicine, which is not just about performing procedures to correct an ailment, but also determining the cause of a problem based on symptoms presented and creating a treatment plan from there. In high school, he loved learning about human anatomy– a passion only strengthened by the human anatomy and physiology courses he took in college. These are some of the main reasons why he chose medicine. Now I must ask myself the same question. Why medicine?

It’s 12:16 a.m. right now, so I will end the post here and get ready for bed. Thanks for reading today’s entry!

3 Gratitudes:

  • my dad, who encourages me to do what I love in life, and not just go for medicine because he did it
  • my close friends
  • Austin
  • (and a fourth one because you can never have too many gratitudes) finally reaching the point where I’m able to look in the mirror and accept my body the way it is