Tuesday, July 31, 2007

h a p p e n e d t o you..because it happened to ME too

icryinpain.. i mourn still sometimes
what i wouldn't do for one more hug..
one more conversation..

i love you. i will always love you.

life's not fair, it just isn't

it's almost been a year since you were taken from us.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

stop and smell the plumeria

there is this sense of hawai'i that comes over you when you step off the plane. you breath deeper, your body relaxes and you let that feeling of aloha come over you. (unless you are a crazy, OCD, anal retentive, high strung, control freak of a planner - which luckily neither me nor my traveling companions are.)

as you drive around the island of Maui the first thing that catches your eye (besides the fact that their highways are more like major roads than highways) is the colors of the land and the movement of it. we passed by flat sugar cane fields and in the distance can see Haleakala rising through the clouds. work is the furtherest thing from my mind (okay now that i mentioned that i had to go and check email really quick, but that's it no more, i promise.)

it is truly beautiful here, the colors are so vibrant, the greenery is so vast. you could spend hours looking at one area of scenery and see hundreds of different types of plant life in a million shades of green. i notice smells more when i'm here, i'm breathing them into my lungs and it feels fresh, clean and alive. the sunsets are, in a word, brilliant, their colors are vivid and not a result of smog but a symphony of colors, clouds, water, and reflections.

the streets are lined with flowers, mostly plumeria. these flowers are incredibly delicate but they emit a perfume so soft and strong it wraps you up and you know you are on the islands. there's no need to rush here, there's no hurry to get anywhere and if you miss something oh well - let it go with the waves bra!

So for those of you on the mainland right now that can't be here.. malama pono! keep your life in balance.. breath and let it go!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

southern california adventures - korean spas, weddings, and rejuvenation of the soul!

warning long journal type post ahead!

my plane departed san jose at 7:40 am, why i booked such an early flight i have no idea... i landed at 9:00am and went to get my rental car. they asked if i wanted to upgrade to a prius, i thought sure! why not.. this is a chance to test drive it.

now if you know how i drive, i'm a bit of a speed demon (i learned to REALLY drive in So Cal and my mom drove fast too, no stereotypical asian women drivers in my family!). well first, i get in the car, then realize i have no clue how to turn it on! dialed mason (thank god for a friend who drives a prius). alright NOW i'm ready to go!

i'm armed with my trusty notes on how to get to gloria's house in rowland heights. i'm surprised at how smooth the prius is and a little disappointed at it's inability to go from 0-60 in less than a minute, but hey, i'm saving gas right? well, it easily gets up to 80/85 mph and i'm going with the flow of traffic. when bam, nearly get in an accident as i'm trying to get to my exit. i forget the prius is lighter and thinner than my car so i over compensate, not to mention the steering wheel is smaller. was totally calm during the whole thing and manage to get the car under control and off the exit, phew, mental note to self, cannot drive it like a race car. check.

5 freeways later, i finally get to rowland heights. i get off the freeway and i realize i forgot to put left or right, i choose right (i generally like right turns over left). about a mile down i realize there is no way my friend lives over here! great, i forgot to pack maps and in an effort to save money i opted out of paying $70 for GPS. so luckily i pull out the trusty iphone - thank goodness for the google maps feature! put in her intersection and off i go again! yay i made it!

a brief rest and then it's off to lunch with ameer, one of my favorite people in the whole world. google maps again, he's practically around the corner from her house. i make 99.9 mpg to his office and hop out of the car to get a proper ameer/vix hug going! YIPEE!! the hugs between loved ones who haven't seen each other in a long time are THE BEST!! we hop back in and get another 99.9 mpg to go across the street for lunch where we discuss what we like and dislike about the iphone. yeah, way geeky, but in a cool kind of way (you may disagree).

unfortunately he's only got an hour out of his 10-12 hour work day, so little time! another hug and it's back to glor's house for a nap. she gets home early and yay another great HUG! she treats me to the korean spa, also around the corner, across from ameers work place. (the whole time i'm in rowland heights we never go more than a mile from her house.. crazy) we dine at earthen, it's delicious, known for it's chicken and onion pancakes and dumplings. MMMM, when we sit down i realize i've eaten there before. after a "tough" afternoon at the spa we're starving and the two of go through all three dishes. then it's movie rental time, we decide on "because i said so" which oddly enough featured weddings, korean spas, and men. my weekend consisted of pretty much all three, although the men part was not romantic.

the next morning i spend some time on google maps, figuring out how to navigate southern california again. i go get my nails done for the wedding the next day and hop back in the car, trying to drive carefully. i get semi lost trying to find the freeway from the nail salon, but make it on. luckily it's only 3 freeways to get to my next destination... lunch with luis and jane!

these two have conversations plotting how to bring me back to southern california. this included emailing me a timeline of me getting into business school and numerous job opportunities, which pays less than what i make now. did i mention i notice the smog and traffic everytime i visit So Cal now? ick! i drive to the end of the shopping complex, thinking the restaurant was there, realize it isn't and call luis. it's at the beginning of the complex (this complex is about 4-5 blocks long). okay i make it! YAY a luis hug! These are great too! He's wearing these giant harry potter looking sunglasses, i struggle not to laugh. he likes my dress. (he's my fashion discussion person when i'm shopping online) we wait for jane, who wants to maximize her time with me since she only has an hour lunch, so we do all the ordering. we're eating at macaroni grill so we get paper covering the tablecloth and crayons. i promptly draw a picture of jane so she knows where she's sitting. :D she walks in and the first thing she says, 'let's see this iphone', not even a hug first! haha. i still manage to get a hug later after i hand her the iphone of course.

from here i make my way to the Orange County Museum of Art, a building i had no idea was here in the 4 years i lived in irvine. the first face i see? john hitchens, yipeee!! a john hug! i've known this guy since my freshman year, i think day one! he always makes me laugh no matter what. and then i see shwynn the bride to be, she looks fantastic as always. shwynn hugs are amazing, she's only 4' tall (ok, ok, 4' 10"?) but she hugs like she's a 7', 210 pound bear. it's great. :). Following that I get a fantastic michael knox hug - the groom to be and another one from jeff lee his groomsman. i swear with each hug i'm just getting happier and happier. two of my bestest friends are getting married to each other, what could be greater than that! rehearsal is quick, there's two groomswomen and one bridesman so the three of us will be traversing down the isle together. shwynn and mike treat us all to lunch and the men in the bridal party are gifted with vans to wear for the ceremony! so cool! the girls are given matching jewelry - yay i was wondering what i was going to have to wear!

one by one people disappear and soon it's pretty much the groom's "court" left, plus mr. rozanno, another great hugger. as the only girl left, the conversation takes a turn naturally, but i'm used to it, sitting with the boys (i'm sure they're still keeping the conversation cleaner than they would if i wasn't there), but it's good laughs. eventually it turns into 8pm and i'll leave them for Efrain, Y-co (more hugs), and YOGURTLAND, it's a new craze, supposedly modeled after Pinkberry in LA. I heard Yogurtland is better because they have more flavors. It's self serve fro-yo and toppings bar and they charge you $0.30/ounce. sooo yummy. my favorite combination (i went there twice in the weekend) was mango/green tea with fresh mango and mochi. the line was out the door but moves very quickly, after getting our fro-yo, we sit on the steps outside and chat it up. these two have been together quite some time now (i was adding in the car as i drove to see them, trying to remember how long i've known them). they're quite cute together. :) through them, i catch up on luis' life of all things. hehe.

as the evening gets later, i head over to my cousin's place in irvine for some Wii action. as i drive up to the guard house, i'm looking at the 5 inch thick electronic gates and think, this really does feel like pleasantville. irvine over the past few years has done a lot of developing. everytime i visit i see at least 2 new housing complexes and a new shopping area nearby - it's a planned pattern - housing complexes, shopping complex - includes grocery store and either a starbucks/jamba juice/tea place. kinda unnerving in a way. i get to her house and it's more hugs! it's nice to be able to just chill out with family, this is how it went, angie knitting, mike (her hubby), robert (her brother) and i playing lazy Wii (meaning we don't stand up to play) and Link their bunny just hopping around on the floor.

we stay up late (late for us in the late 20's.. just kidding) and it's off to bed. i wake up early, pack up my things and go to meet the bridal party at shwynn's apartment. we spend the next 4 hours with a hair stylist, chatting it up, eating lunch, applying make-up, laughing and getting ready. soon the families of the bride and groom, groomsmen and best man are all there. we get everyone sorted in cars to go take photos.. where? UC Irvine! where the two fell in love. pictures finish really fast, so what does my car do? In & Out!! oh i miss the days where the burger joint was across the street. a quick stuff of our faces with burger, fries and shake and it's off to the wedding!

the bridal party hides out in a conference room as we wait for all the guests to be seated, then it's show time! after the parents and sponsors walk out, we're the first of the bridal party to hit the runway, i mean aisle. i have a huge smile on my face and my eyes are scanning for the rest of our friends from the year i staffed as a resident advisor with mike and sherwynn. i spot them in the front and it takes some will power to not just run over there and hug each and every one of them like i never want to let go. if ever there was an act of serendipity it was the coming together of this group of friends. 19 of us thrown together to be resident advisors. normally with a group of a large size you can't expect everyone to get along, much less grow close to one another. this was different, indescribable and something i thank higher power(s)/life/destiny/fate/good fortune for everyday.

sherwynn and mike were wed by her brother, they each wrote their vows which i had the privilege of reading beforehand, struggling not to cry when i did and in 30 minutes the ceremony was over and the party began. i let go of the will power, ran as fast as my aching feet in heels would let me and hugged each of the 13 RA's that were there, out of 19 of us, 15 were there that night. we ate, we drank, we danced, we laughed, we hugged, and told each other how much we missed and loved one another. when the wedding ended we packed everything up and headed to the after party at the hotel. this was short lived as the noise we made got the security called on us 3 times. oops. more snuggling, cuddling, hugging, chatting and soon we were all asleep.

the next day at brunch, the few of us remaining went to brunch at cheesecake factory. we laughed as we looked through the photos, talked about future trips, where we were at in life. joked about who should get married next so we could see each other sooner rather than later. james even very sweetly helped me get my bacon fried to a crisp when it came to the table oily and and not to my liking. this is why i love them and why i miss them like crazy. dustin and i left at the same time and we hugged everyone and i took a moment with each hug to soak it in so i could take home the memories.

from brunch i head to my uncle's to see my cousin who is now a year old. she is so darn cute! okay i'm biased, i'm family but she's adorable! she decides that i'm the best chair and decides to plop herself down on me, get up and do it again. after her nap she settles into the vicki arm chair, makes me hold her baby monitor and has angie feed her kiwis. what a life! while i'm there i decide to check in for my flight...

to my disbelief, the reservation lady booked my flight for Monday evening! crapola, i wanted to go home!! i call and AA isn't as consumer friendly as Southwest. it will cost $257 to get first class home, $100 is a change fee. that half of the ticket isn't even worth $100!! the lady says my best bet is to try standby tomorrow morning. first flight out is 6:45, booked full, next two flights have a few seats.

grumbling about my bad luck i figure nothing else i can do. so instead i head to dinner and more yogurtland with an old family friend, derek. great fun! i got to play with his puppy, she's adorable and so well mannered, unlike my turning into a teenage brat, morgan. sure he follows most directions, but now he's testing boundaries... i'm not giving in. i head back to angie's and go to bed so i can wake up at 4:30 and get to the airport.

4:30am... good grief why am i up this early?! i get to the airport and it's surprisingly busy at 5am. i whisper a prayer and hope for the best, cross my fingers and toes, YAY, i get on the 6:45 flight! of course it's delayed leaving the airport, but whatever, i'm on the plane. thus ends my adventures for the weekend! now back to the hamster wheel of reality.

if you made it all the way down here, you've earned yourself a cookie. :D

Saturday, July 07, 2007

korean spa: aka the naked spa

My friend first told me about this spa because she totally wasn't expecting this kind of experience. Her friend took her and next thing she knows, her friend is stripping down to nothing and they're soaking in hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas with other naked women of all ages, shapes and sizes, they do an exfoliation and massage and you come out refreshed and oh so soft. Well, I happen to love spas and thought... for $70, this sounds great!

So this weekend she took me as an early birthday present. I was all prepared for a relaxing experience after not much sleep, sore muscles from the week, sore muscles from the plane ride and trying to figure out how to drive to my friends house (navigating 5 freeways to get there). We walk in, collect our towels and strip down in the changing room. It feels a little weird to be walking around with my friend naked but hey, we're all women and after awhile you just forget. There's a mixture of naked and clothed women walking around. It's the middle of the afternoon on a Thursday, so not many people are around. This is great, we pretty much get the sauna to ourselves and then try some of the steam room. I can already feel my skin soaking up the moisture and getting softer. We take some time to relax in the relaxation room and chit chat, catching up.

I can see how this is a very communal and community type of activity. Women are soaking in the tubs talking to one another. If there had been more there I imagine them chatting about their husbands, children, significant others, children playing with children, young women talking about anything and everything. This is a place where generations come together to share something in common. It's a nice time to catch up and not think about anything.

I start to really enjoy myself.

They call my friends number first and off she goes, I can see the treatment room as it's open and connected to the big room with hot tubs and the sauna. I hear them scraping off skin, pouring water, and massaging oils, honey, and milk onto women's bodies. I soak some more and nearly fall asleep on one of the chairs I'm so comfy. They call me over and right before I lay down, I'm see a flash of a manga comic book image in my head. The image of these women massaging and scraping other women made me chuckle. I could see little poofs of steam drawn comic book style and these women with happy faces, ready to commence their torture.. I mean massage.

Now comes the scraping, she puts on these gloves that have a rough loofah type of surface. *picture happy asian girl comic book character laying down to get a relaxing exfoliation and massage, next thing you know her eyes are bugging out and she's yelling that it hurts*, flash back to real life and that's me. Okay so I didn't yell out, I didn't want to seem like the pansy baby, but inside I did! And my eyes did bug out really fast. It felt like they were sandpapering my skin off! I closed my eyes and just hoped that she would finish that area and move onto a next. She did, then she came back again! In my head I'm thinking, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? AHHH.. telling myself this is going to be great afterwards, just bear through it.

I opened my eyes and peeked out, I could see the skin coming off like worms, and there were lots of curled up bits of gray look skin! GROSS! That's coming off me?!

After what seems like an hour she's done scraping, the only saving grace is that occasionally while scraping she would stop and pour warm/hot water over my body. It was incredibly refreshing, then back to the scraping again. Finally the scraping is done, she sends me off to shower and rinse really quick. I was never happier to do so! I head back and think, great, I can nap while she does the massage part, hard part is over.

Well next thing I know she's straddling me and running some part of her hand up and down my back and pressing down hard... more pain. More eye bugging and silent screaming in my head. At one point she was running her knuckles (I'm assuming it was knuckles, it felt like her bones) over my back and I whimpered. "Gentler" she asks loudly in Chinese and repeats, "Lighter?" in English. The first time I just grunt affirmative in reply. The second time, she was running her knuckles down my leg and I cried out again. "Lighter" she asks again in Chinese. "Please" I whisper back, my voice feeling dry and gone. It does get better and then she flips me over. I giggle when she massages my stomach, it tickles. Some more oils are poured and massaged and then milk.

I feel a cool mushy mixture going on my face, finally I smell cucumber. Mmmm smells good! You can tell her hands are strong from all the massaging, just in her fingers alone there's the power to cause pain and pleasure. A quick wash of my hair along with a scalp massage, I'm in heaven now. She pulls off the mushy cucumber mixture and has me sit up. She pours more milky looking liquid on me and has me wash my face in it. There all done!

I rinse off again and rinse out my hair. I feel great! My body feels so relaxed. I dry myself off and I can't believe how SOFT I feel! I couldn't believe it, I have to find a place like this in the bay area. I can't wait to go again!

Now all that's missing is someone to cuddle with because this skin is made to be touched!