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In my 99 Things That Bring Me Joy journal, I have reached list number 7: listing your closest relatives. I find this list a bit hard to write about, as I have complicated relationships with some of my closest (DNA-wise) relatives. I have a good relationship with practically everyone in my family, including my 90-year old grand-uncle & 96-year old grand-aunt (both siblings of my maternal grandmother). However, in regards to my immediate family, our family dynamic is quite strained/tense.

If I had to make a definitive list based on who I believe are my closest relatives, well, I would definitely put my mom at the very top of my list. I have a wonderful relationship with my mother that continues to flourish every day, even as she lives with Jian & me. I wouldn’t exactly say that my mom is my “best friend” because I believe in parent-child boundaries, but we are extremely close & talk to each other about every subject under the sun.

When I was growing up, I feared my mom so much. She was an extremely strict disciplinarian, who had no qualms with disciplining me in public. I would often get myself into trouble, doing things my mom had specifically told me not to do, & that’s when my mom would really lay down the law…not with time-outs, or sitting in the corner, but with physical punishments (nothing severe, just basic spankings & light paddling with a thick/hard hairbrush). I had ultimately feared my mom’s strict discipline as a child, but grew to appreciate it as an adult, turning what would be perceived as punishment into a learning lesson.

On the flip side, I was super close to my dad when I was a very young child, but as I got older, I would often clash with my dad & we would get into arguments both small & extreme. My teen years living with my dad was especially tenuous. I was going through puberty, & wanted to be like my peers with more lenient parents who let them stay out late & drive to the big city, & go to music concerts. My parents, my dad especially, wouldn’t let me even hang out at a friend’s house on a school night, even though most of my friends lived on the same street as I did. So, that led to more than a few clashes with my dad, but eventually, I learned to stop fighting against my dad’s words, & start to listen to his words more. Gradually, as I further grew into adulthood, I became even closer to my dad, & we built a bond I will treasure forever even though his life was cut short.

I would then say, after listing my parents, that Jian would be the next closest in terms of relationships. He is my absolute most best friend in the entire world, & there is nothing in the world that could break that bond. Jian & I talk about absolutely everything, from internet memes, to our individual hopes, dreams & fears, all the way to bowel movements & flatulence.

Yes, at one point, Jian used to call me every day at work while he was making his morning deposits in the lavatory, & I would sometimes do the same to him, & we would often joke around that we should send each other photos of evidence, a la the “pics or it didn’t happen” meme. THAT is how close we are…resorting to talking about poop. However, aside from our easy banter, we also talk to each other about personal issues, life goals, & everything in between. I don’t even have girl-friends who I can talk to this freely. Jian truly is one-of-a-kind.

And then the next up on my list would be my two older brothers. It’s been a strange & difficult journey, since there is such a huge age gap between the three of us. My oldest brother is 17 years older, & my second oldest brother is 9 years older, but we have grown closer over the years, & we communicate with each other regularly.  It’s a bit difficult to keep in touch with my brothers, as the oldest has a family of his own to take care of (his two daughters are already out of university & into the working world), & my other brother lives in Southern California, but we still call & text each other regularly, & I will always cherish the memories I have of my brothers helping to taking care of me & playing games with me when I was growing up.

Here’s where things get a bit sticky-icky-icky. I do have an older sister, but things between my sister & the rest of our family is extremely strained. Due to many personal circumstances that have occurred throughout our lives, tension has continued to build over the years, & many unresolved issues have resurfaced to become obstacles blocking the path to our family’s unity. We still keep in touch with my sister, albeit limited to her terms, & we try to maintain a close relationship with her two children (my beloved 11-year old nephew & 9-year old niece), but when we get together as a family, the tension boils to the surface, & things spiral out of control. So, we try to keep things on my sister’s terms, in order to placate her hair-trigger temper & to “keep the boat from rocking”.

I’d love to build a closer relationship with my sister. We did not spend a lot of time together when we were growing up. My sister is 6 years older than I am, & when we were growing up she was always steps ahead of me: liking boys, wearing makeup, hanging out with friends. By the time I would reach a certain age, she would already be much older & had moved on to more mature things, which always left me doing things by myself while my sister would be going out with her friends. So that left me with no older sister figure for me to look up to at home.

We never got a chance to build a relationship when we were growing up, & it became even more difficult as we got older, since my sister moved out of the house as soon as she graduated high school & went off to university, never looking back. I had thought we were building our relationship once my sister became a mother, since our whole family centered around her & her kids, but our relationship became strained when I started getting closer to her children, & she thought that was totally inappropriate for an aunt to be so close to her nieces & nephews. Ever since that notion crept into her mind, things between us have not been the same. Our relationship has now devolved into one developed out of her paranoia, & my walking on egg shells around her while trying to placate her…unsuccessfully, to her chagrin.

Overall, things just are what they are. We are all trying to make the best of our situations, & getting by one day at a time. I am so happy & grateful that I have a wonderful & supportive family surrounding me, with three awesome nieces & one cool nephew. We’ll just have to wait & see what happens next. Until next time fam, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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For the past couple of weeks, the weather in my area has been so beautiful during the daytime, but super chilly in the evenings. I am really, really, really enjoying this kind of weather (warm in the day, cold at night). One of my favorite aspects of this weather is when I get to step into a relaxing, hot shower while it’s icy cold outside. Then, while I’m in the shower, I take that alone time to let all of my innermost thoughts flow out of my mind. It feels like a therapeutic release, letting all of my bottled up thoughts of that day just flow out.

Sometimes I get really deep into my thoughts, talking to myself internally about family drama or about personal doubts. Other times I’ll just talk out loud to myself, ranting about unimportant things, like some moronic thing I heard a vapid, air head say on a dumb reality TV show. Last night, while taking a late night shower, I had some really random thoughts swirling around in my mind.


There are times when I’ll share the bathroom with Jian, & we’ll both catch each other humming or singing a song one of us will recognize. One of us will just jump right in & sing right along with the other person. Usually I’m the one who catches him singing or humming a song in the shower, & I’ll often times recognize the song, sneak into the bathroom as quietly as I possibly can, & then surprise him by loudly singing along with him. There are other times when Jian will catch me off guard & try to sing along with me, which causes us to break in to a fit of laughter.

Let me just include a tiny little disclaimer here by saying: neither Jian nor I have great singing capabilities. We are not the best singers. We’re not going to audition for American Idol at any time in our lives. Not gonna happen, ever. However, we do enjoy singing with our friends at karaoke bars, & I’d say we’re pretty decent at it. I mean, at least we can carry a tune, & neither of us are tone deaf…so I think either one of us singing in the shower is not a crime.

I, myself, love singing along to my favorite songs. I’ve always got my Spotify playlists playing when I’m working at my computer station at home, & I’m always singing along to all of the songs on my playlists. I also sing along to the radio whenever I’m driving in my car. Although I won’t really sing along to the car radio if I’ve got other passengers in my car other than Jian. I’ve also sung open mic karaoke at multiple dive bars…sober. However, usually my friends & I like to sing at private room karaoke lounges (’cause we get the mic all to ourselves & get to pick our own songs). Perhaps all that singing in the shower has prepared me for karaoke. LOL!


I sometimes complain to Jian about this, but I really don’t enjoy the “perks” of being a woman, especially a woman who takes care in keeping up a presentable, decent appearance. I will lament to Jian that I sometimes wish I could be more like a man. Then I wouldn’t have to spend a frivolous amount of time in the shower shaving body parts, using fancy smelling soaps & shampoos, & doing all of this frou-frou stuff to make my hair soft, shiny & pretty. On top of that, once I step out of the shower, I have to rub special lotion all over my body, apply all kinds of creams & anti-wrinkle & anti-blemish, blah, blah, blah on my face.

For guys, all they have to do is use a generic soap & shampoo, scrub up, rinse off, & towel themselves dry. That’s basically all there is to it for a no-frills kind of guy like Jian. Well, I will admit that I got Jian to use a facial moisturizer to hydrate his super dry, flaky skin, but that’s pretty much the only extra step he has in his nightly shower routine. I on the other hand, have 20 more steps to take before I can throw on my pj’s & climb into bed. Ugh! Why can’t I just have a three-step nightly routine, like Jian…a dude? It’s annoying sometimes.


My final thought blurb is about that time right when you finish washing & you turn off your shower. Yes, that does sound weirdly specific…but I swear this is going somewhere. As I had mentioned earlier on in this meaningless blog post, it’s been super cold at night where I live, & there’s nothing better on a cold night than taking a hot shower…or bath. (I’m an equal opportunity bather.) However, the one part I absolutely loath the most about showering is those five to ten seconds right after you turn off that glorious, hot water & reach out to grab your towel.

No matter what you do, you will feel that initial gust of cold wind hit your body, & it’s just “bad news bears” all around. It feels like you’ve just jumped in to the deepest waters of Antarctica, naked. Sometimes I’ll try to just poke my hand around a small sliver opening in my shower curtain, & try to stealthily pull my towel in to avoid letting the hot steam escape, but I always end up letting in a frosty gust of wind into my hot, steamy cocoon. It annoys the hell out of me. I was actually thinking this yesterday as I was just about to finish my shower. I kept saying to myself that I wish I could just stand under the hot water for ten more minutes before I have to MacGuyver my towel into my steamy shower cocoon behind my shower curtain. I nearly froze my nips off trying to pull my fluffy towel behind the curtain, but I managed to not freeze my body too much.

The struggle is real, folks. A real steamy struggle. I am so sorry for this stupid post about taking showers. I wish I had more engaging content to write about this week, but my brain is on strike. Until next time, cheers & stay soapy friends…

Today’s song of the day:

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graphic art courtesy of: http://www.ryderdoty.com

Continuing on my year of lists, my “99 Things That Bring Me Joy” journal brings us to the list of my most treasured childhood books. I remember when I was younger, my dad used to be a hardcore member of the Book-of-The-Month club. He really wanted me to get into the habit of reading, more than watching TV like my older siblings (& cousins), so he signed me up for the Childrens-Book-of-The-Month club. We’d get a catalog in the post, & we would select up to three books each month. I was a slow reader (reading was so boring for me back then), but my dad could read at least two books every month.

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I distinctly remember reading Harriet The Spy as one of my most treasured childhood memories. This book really shaped my life as an observer of the world, & as a writer. This book was also one of the first Young Adult genre books I ever read in full. I never really had the motivation (or attention span) to read books longer than 50 pages when I was a kid, but this was the first fairly lengthy book I remember reading when I was a kid & really getting swept away by the story.

When I was a young tweenager, I was obsessed with the title character Harriet M. Welsch from the book. (I was not a fan of the 1996 movie at all.) First off, I was so jealous that she lived in such a vibrant city, & her parents let her roam around town unsupervised. I had a couple of close friends that lived on the same street as I did growing up, & my parents wouldn’t let me even walk to their house without asking them. I could not believe this little girl named Harriet was able to galavant around the city all by herself & never got in trouble for it.

I loved Harriet’s curiosity towards everything in life & was always asking questions. My favorite part about this title character was her passion for writing. I feel like her passion for writing inspired my own passion for writing. For a short period of time (let’s just call it a phase in my life, for lack of a better word), I tried to copy &/or imitate this book character. I wore baggy sweatshirts with jeans. I tried to carry a flashlight in my school backpack (but it was a total waste of much needed space). Most importantly, I tried to follow what Harriet had been diligently doing for as long as she could remember: Write. Down. Everything. I tried writing the observations of the environment around me, but things got too frantic, & I couldn’t focus on what to write about. So, I stopped writing observations & transitioned into writing journal entries. I had a couple of Sanrio-themed childrens diaries lying around with pages begging to be filled with my pre-teenage nonsense.

There was one line however I would not cross, one trait that I would not imitate. Under no circumstances would I ever, in my life, eat a ripe tomato & mayonaise sandwich. At that age, I absolutely despised tomatoes. More recently, I have grown to accept eating tomatoes. If they’re in a salad, a hamburger, or in a sauce, I am willing to eat it, but tomoatoes are still not my favorite fruit. That’s where the character Harriet M. Welsch will always differ. There is no way I will ever eat a ripe tomato & mayonaise sandwich, ever.


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I don’t know where I got these books, if I chose them from the monthly book subscription, or if someone gifted them to me. All I can remember about reading this series of books as a child was how much of a sense of wonder & imagination these stories brought to life. I would often study the illustrations in the books in great detail, trying to examine every nook & cranny of all the animals’ houses. There was just such vibrant detail in the visual depictions of all the scenes. Oh, & the food illustrations made my mouth water!

I’m not a big fan of mice, but the mice in Jill Barklem’s books are just too adorable to resist. When I was a child reading these books, I would get so immersed in my own wild imagination. I would daydream that I was living in a treehouse just like the ones depicted in all of the books. The stories were so much fun to read, & I would become so engrossed in them that I could also imagine that I was in the story along with all of the woodland animals.

I was sad to learn that, one day, when my parents were cleaning out the storage closet, they found this set of books, but one of the seasons was missing. No matter how hard we searched, we could not find the last book to complete the set. Also, the pages had been severely yellowed & water damaged, so I was not able to salvage this set of books that I cherished so much as a child.


I grouped these two books together even though I hadn’t read them at the same time. These two books are a few of my most memorable & favorite books. They’re not pop-up books, but they are highly interactive. Even as a young child, when I read these books, I was extremely careful when turning the pages & playing with the interactive sections of the books.

I absolutely love the Jolly Postman & his heartwarming story about delivering fun mail all over town, riding his trusty red bicycle. It’s also fun to read about the classic children’s story book characters every child grew up reading at bedtime, recognizing each of the characters as you turn the pages. My most favorite part of these interactive books were the envelopes inside each page. You can open the pocket of each envelope & find a wonderful interactive surprise inside like: a Humpty Dumpty jigsaw puzzle, a letter from Goldilocks to the Three Bears, or a Red Riding Hood board game.

Even though I’ve grown considerably older since I first acquired these lovely books, I still take them out of the closet every now & again, & browse through the pages. These books will never go out of style, & they are still fun to read no matter what age you are. At one point during Christmastime, I was tempted to gift these books to my young nephew & niece, but they are quite rough & careless with their belongings (especially children’s books), so I decided to squirrel them away & keep them for myself. I am so happy that I’ve kept these books for all these years because they bring me such joy.


Well, this is the end of it, my list of favorite childhood books. It took me nearly “forever & a day” (metaphorically speaking) to finish this blog post. So much has gone on in my personal life since I first began writing this post that I had to put this entire blog on the backburner for quite some time. Now I’m back & ready to resume my writing. Until the next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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