The True Meaning Behind Valentine’s Day

Like most people, I love holidays – even when I don’t actively celebrate it. Perhaps it’s the festive atmosphere or the fact that everyone just seems happier. I would also say I love how you get some of those holidays off of work (or school), but I only get the major holidays off – mainly about two weeks for Christmas and New Years and, of course, Labor Day. The occasional July Fourth is off as well, if my bosses decide to go that route. Quite honestly, though, I still work from home on those days or at least am required to routinely check my work email, so getting holidays off doesn’t quite hold the same clout for me.

However, there is one holiday that I frankly have mixed feelings about: Valentine’s Day. America is notorious for turning holidays that originally had this deeper meaning and turning it into this overly commercialized thing where people put more worth into physical displays of the meaning that may or may not hold anything deeper. This is somehow exacerbated during this day that is saturated in roses and shades of red and pink everything… or at least this is my opinion, though I’m sure I’m not the only one to share this thought.

It’s the Monday after Valentine’s Day and everyone I met today asked me one common question: What did your husband do for you for Valentine’s Day? Although a small part of me likes little gestures like giving flowers (I’m mainly stuck on getting chocolate…. and good-quality chocolate – none of those overly, sweet excuses of brown-colored sugary cocoa butter), I’m honestly not that much of a romantic and my husband? Less so. Much less so. Not to mention the fact that before Valentine’s Day, people would ask what your plans were for that particular day. I don’t know about you, but it seems as if they’re unconsciously comparing — whose plans trumps whose? Who is the better couple? Should I be jealous or – better yet – you’re the jealous one?

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Korea 2012 Tour: To the Northern Border!

On my friend’s second full day in Seoul, I had arranged for all of us to go on a tour hosted by the USO that would take us to the DMZ and also give all the participants more knowledge about the situation between the North and the South. I was pretty excited; this was one place I didn’t get the chance to visit when I still lived there. We arrived at the USO headquarters at noon and made the one hour trek up towards the border…

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Jeollanam-do: Living it out in the countryside

I was lamenting the fact that my friends could all lose weight while abroad because their body rejected something about it. Despite how my first two months or so here when I first arrived in Korea being riddled on and off with colds and such, I never had any digestive problems and I never had major moments of weight loss other than the steady toning up due to nightly taekwondo work outs. My mother likes telling my friends that I would gain weight after merely drinking a glass of water. Well, turns out my body decided to listen to me for once: on the morning of October 6th, I woke up feeling sick – and when I say sick, I mean nauseated and incredibly hot.

I wasn’t ecstatic because, of course, this had to be the same morning of our trip to Jeollanam-do with Adventure Korea. I had booked this so my friend (and I) could experience a little something about Korea outside of what most foreigners experience. The tour advertised itself as harvesting crops from the countryside, making green tea, and staying in a traditional Korean house called a hanok. I eventually got myself better after taking a cold shower but I lost my appetite. Even so, we were off because we had already paid and it was too late to cancel for a refund. After a five hour bus ride from Seoul and two rest stops later, we were finally there.

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Vegetarian in Korea

It’s exactly three months until I’ll find myself in Korea once more. This time, it’s just an opportunity to travel and explore the rest of the Korea experience while I can; I honestly don’t know when’s the next time I can visit. This is also a trip where I’ll be taking two friends of mine over and I will be the unofficial tour guide. I’m rather excited: Korea’s a great place. It’s beautiful, the people are nice (for the most part but this is normal for most people), the culture interesting, and the food delicious.

I’m not entirely biased, because as a vegetarian, I know that in Korea, you’re going to have to work a little harder than others to get food. After all, when I think of Korean food, I think of flavorful soups, rice, fermented vegetables (i.e. kimchi) and meat (and when I listed ‘meat’, I also meant seafood) – not to mention alcohol and their love for spicy things. When other people think of Korean food, they think of Korean barbecue. This is where things can get a little complicated. I’m a semi-vegetarian. I’m mostly vegetarian but when I go somewhere that’s less-than-friendly to vegetarians, I loosen up my restrictions a bit: I might take a sip of the soup broth that I know was cooked with some meat, I will pick out the meat and eat the rest, etc. However, one of my friends who will be going is a strict vegetarian. As such, I found myself compiling Safe Foods for him to eat and decided that it would be nice to make a post on it. Why not, right?

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Fat: It Keeps Comin’ Back

I’m sure other people have this problem. You finally take off a decent amount of fat, only to find that it’s returned out of nowhere – slowly but surely – somewhat reminiscent of a horror film and a nightmare combined into one.

I was always someone who always had a bit of squish to me of various amounts. I finally noticed in 6th grade but I didn’t really care until university. Then, I discovered the gym while in college and I would go on-and-off. Of course, the problem then was a lack of something called motivation.

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I Want to be a Flying Octopus!

It’s crazy to think that I’ve been out of school (and by ‘school’, I mean my undergraduate studies) for almost two years. It’s simply amazing how time flies now that I’m getting older and older. Next thing I know, I’ll be on my deathbed. Can’t wait. However, before then comes the age-old question of what do you do next.

I have friends who have had their (hopefully) Permanent Job ever since they graduated or have otherwise found their niche in life. Some even bought their first house and/or car. I have friends who are still in the transitional phase like me, or are temporarily doing something – waiting for something bigger and, preferably, better – also like myself. Then I thought of when I was still in grade school and we had journal topics on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember making up class rolls at home and I played with that; I just loved the idea of telling people what to do and have them listen to me as a teacher. Now that I’ve been a teacher, among other things, I know that’s not the case. I also know that I’m just not teacher material – I’m too impatient, too much of an introvert, I prefer working alone, and I’ve a mind that works at my every whim in the most random of manners. I’m not consistent. However, there’s a difference between childhood fantasies (it never went farther than a teacher and then my next “epiphany of the future” was when I had randomly applied to a magnet high school and their medical sciences program) and reality. Once in high school and enrolled in such specific courses, I switched between so many occupations within the health sciences arena that I just simply wanted to try it all.. just nothing too boring. Unfortunately for me, once I got used to something, it got boring.

Now, reality (and my age) comes knocking at my door. Truthfully speaking, I’m not that old, but I’m definitely not that young anymore. After all, if I were to come into my work office with my hair in pigtails, a lollipop stuck in my mouth, and donning on a pair of neon yellow overalls (don’t hate; I used to have a pair of neon yellow cargo pants), people would think I didn’t belong. The adult world is full of rules, pressures, expectations, wants…

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The Relativity of Right and Wrong

When it’s time for one of the life-changing events to happen to me, it usually comes out of nowhere – hard and fast. On Tuesday, I got a job interview and on Wednesday was my first day of work. After my third full day of work, I finally find the time to think up and write another post, this time on something that’s been bugging me ever since I came to this realisation some ten years ago.

See, one of the things my mom loves to nag at me about is my seeming obsession over my laptop. I can sit before it for hours on end. Not completely nonstop, of course; I still tend to move around a little, but I can pretty much sit there for a long time. It’s been a long battle between us, whether it’s due to fanfiction (yes, I’m an avid fanfiction reader and proud of it), dramas, or little projects like blogs, research, and brainstorming. You would think that when I get a job where I sit in front of a laptop for 7 hours a day crunching numbers, among other things, she would be against it. Think again.

Then there’s how my mother refused to let my sister take the highways to get anywhere. I fortunately escaped this, as I went to a university outside of my city, but on top of that, I suppose my sister didn’t mind too much, but you bet I was surprised when I had given my sister directions to go to the mall and had instructed her to get on on the highway only for her to shoot questions at me at how it works because it was her first time driving on the highway. The sole thought running through my mind: how in the world did she get her license??

I understand the motivation behind both of these situations. After all, staring too much at a computer of some sort isn’t good for one’s eyes or health – you become a blob, something America doesn’t need more of. As for driving on the highway, cars do tend to travel at high speeds – I know because I’m one of them – so if you don’t have a good reaction speed or aren’t very observant, there’s a chance that it can be a dangerous trip. However, apparently slowly harming yourself due to a job (read: money) – the fact that I work for a company that deals with oil companies makes it all the better – makes it all right. My sister also isn’t helping the environment any nor is she getting anywhere fast, due to spending a good amount of her time on the road after an hour long commute to school and back. Granted that though the traffic here doesn’t get quite as bad as the traffic in L.A., it’s still nothing to scoff at. So then, it all comes down to how there’s essentially no right or wrong, as everyone’s perception of either idea is essentially up to them: their priorities, personal beliefs, particular circumstances, and I suppose this generally accepted idea of what is right (helping the elderly woman cross the street) and what is wrong (killing people) having been enforced since childhood.

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