Christmas is over. All of my relatives have come & gone. My older brother came home, & I felt tension radiating off of him, probably from the stresses of his demanding job. My sister & her two kids came crashing in like a chaotic tornado. The more time progresses, the more new things I learn about my sister, but also the more she easily irritates & frustrates me. I find myself easily becoming angry &/or flying off the handle the more I spend time with my siblings.

I try to be accommodating to my brother & sister. I try to make their lives more comfortable. That’s engrained in my personality, to take care of & to comfort others. However, I’ve learned over this past Christmas holiday, that it often comes at my own expense. I sacrifice my own happiness, comfort, & (sometimes) sanity to make other people’s lives more comfortable. I don’t ever seek recognition or much validation, but a little compromising &/or acknowledgment goes a long way.

Last year, during the same time of the year, I had a HUGE & COMPLETE meltdown. I broke down into tears & was sobbing uncontrollably for hours. I mean, I had a mental breakdown, & it scared the hell out of me. I’ve never cried like that in my entire life, not even when my dad passed away. What was I having a meltdown about? One of my “to-be-unnamed” family members disrupted my housekeeping routine, & completely LOST IT! I don’t recall throwing a tantrum, but I vividly remember breaking down into utter sobs so intense I gave myself a panic attack & lost control of my breathing. I was half crying, half gasping for breath, so much so that Jian seriously considered taking me to the hospital.

It was then & there, well, after I had regained my composure, that I recognized this episode as a genuine wake up call to loosen the reins on my compulsion for cleanliness & strict housekeeping. I could not allow myself to freak out every time someone didn’t clean the house to my standards, or didn’t do something exactly the way I would have or wanted them to. I’m a Taurus astrology sign, so I can easily become stubborn, easily dig my heels into the ground & not budge, & easily let myself get angry. I learned from a very early age in my life how to maintain a home & how to be domesticated from my mother. So, when I perform my own housekeeping in my house, I do everything exactly the way my mom taught me, & I don’t stray from her exacting steps. I realized last year that I couldn’t go through life being so rigid & straightforward like that. There’s going to be a cuss-load of times where I cannot control the steps. I had to loosen my “grip”, so to speak. People will make messes, & I will just have to deal with it accordingly. I can’t spend my whole life trailing behind others with a vacuum & a dust rag. I told myself then, I’m not giving up my controlling ways, but I’m toning it down several notches.

This year, I also had another meltdown. I finally confessed to Jian that I’ve been carrying around a cuss-load of emotional stress & baggage. He told me that it is very unhealthy to keep all of my emotional stress bottled up. I told him that I had no other choice. I wanted to protect my mother & to not put any emotional stress on her, especially since she still feels so emotional over my dad’s passing. There’s already intense tension between my sister & older brother. As much as they love each other, they can’t stop fighting like cats & dogs. That makes my mom sad, to see her older kids fight, & I can see that it worries her out a little. I try to keep the peace as much as possible, & not “rock the boat”, & to shield my mom from as much stress & worry as I can, but then all of that pressurized burden falls on my shoulders.

As much as my mom is one of my closest confidants, it’s difficult for me to talk to her about this. Sometimes I find it hard to talk to Jian too because it’s difficult for him to relate to my issues when he was raised as an only child with very few cousins to interact with. Dear, sweet Jian tries to help me sort through & process all of my thoughts & emotions in a practical/sensible way, & I try to control my stubbornness & sometimes defeatist attitude. I think I’m making slight progress.

There have been many times, this Christmas alone, where I wanted to wring my sister’s neck or grab her by the shoulders & give her a good hard shake & scream, “What the hell is wrong with you?” straight to her face, but somehow, I was able to draw upon Jian’s practicality & wisdom, & I was able to take a step back every now & again to let myself cool down. I actually went with the flow some of the time, & pushed my immediate stressed feelings out of myself in order to stop & think before I reacted. My sister is a sloppy person, leaving clothes & used bath towels strewn all over the bedroom floor. All of her belongings are in messy piles all over the place, & she can never put a dirty dish/cup in the sink to save her life. Her children, in turn, learn those habits/mannerisms from their mother, & do as she does. They are equally messy, but to add another layer to this disaster, all three of them tend to be quite careless with their belongings. For example, my niece, in her throes of rough playing around her house, stepped on her expensive tablet & cracked the screen. She gave it no second thought whatsoever. My sister has lost her mobile phone so many times, in this year alone, that she now has to buy an expensive protection plan in case of loss or theft. The kids hate wearing jackets, even if it’s minus 14 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside, & they’ll throw their jackets on to the floor & walk away if they don’t want to wear their jackets.

All this time, I want to scream, tear my hair out, cry, shout, ball my fists & stomp my feet like a whiny toddler, but I was able to mentally talk myself off the edge of that cliff so many times this Christmas holiday. That made me feel like I’m clearly on my way to a more mature & composed self. That’s one of my goals for the year, to keep progressing my inner self, & to break away from my anger. I feel like I’m off to a good start. At least I think I am. I still have a very long way to go. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Galdin Quay” by Yoko Shimomura for FINAL FANTASY XV

wth-december

This December has quickly become one cluster-cuss of a month. First, I pull a muscle in my shoulder. Then, I have an annoying mix-up with some of the online orders I made for Christmas. After that, my sister’s family has a last-minute change of plans, which completely throws our annual family traditions into a tailspin. Then finally, we find out suddenly that some extended family in-laws have just suffered a major health scare, & it was a hair’s width close to becoming a catastrophic event for the extended family that was involved.

HOWEVER, THE SHOW MUST GO ON…

Despite all of that, we are making the most out of the situations that come up,, & we are having a wonderful time. Even though this Christmas feels a little off for me, I am having the best time. I actually feel like this holiday break is going to turn out better than expected. No, better than ever! I am so grateful for everything that has been given to me, everything that has gone well for me, & every opportunity, experience, & memory for this glorious year. I couldn’t be more appreciative & thankful. Yeah, I’ve had a wonky month, but I am going with the flow. During these times of the year, during the holidays, my family can especially put me in a real cuss of a mood, especially when it comes to my near obssesive compulsion for cleanliness & organization, but I am trying really hard this year to let my inner reins loose a little bit, & just let them be them & I will be me. That’s pretty much all I can do for now to keep my sanity in check.

And now, it’s time for me to get back to washing my THIRD load of laundry. On Christmas Day, of all days, I’ve decided to do a complete overhaul on my bed linens & wash everything from my bed sheets, all the way to my comforter cover (a.k.a. duvet cover), to my pillow cases & shams. Until then, Happy Holidays & Cheers!

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Today’s song of the day:

“Fresh Eyes” by Andy Grammer

fresh-eyes

craziest time

So, remember that one time when I said I got a head cold? Well, guess what? Immediately after that happened, I seriously pulled a muscle in my left shoulder. My mom says that I pulled a rotator-thing-a-ma-jiggy because she pulled the exact same muscle in her right shoulder several months ago. However, I’m neither a doctor nor am I a physical therapist, so I’m just going to say that I pulled a generic muscle in my shoulder. The left one. Oh man, if you’ve never pulled a muscle in your body before, & this was my first time pulling a major muscle, you should feel so lucky, & grateful , & all that good stuff because it is definitely no picnic in the park…I’ll tell you that for sure.

Can you ever imagine, not being able to lift your arm even 45 degrees? Or not be able to put on a shirt or a bra? Or not be able to pull up your pants after you’ve finished peeing? Unless you are physically disabled, or have had a major accident or an outdoor/sports injury, I don’t think it’s imaginable. The struggle was real, guys. My shoulder was throbbing so bad from the pinch & the pain that it even hurt to keep my arm straight at my side. Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating slightly, but this was my very first experience pulling a muscle in my body, so of course I’m going to throw in a little over-the-top whining.

I’m just so thankful for my slight compulsive disorder to stockpile my medicine cabinet at all times, & for having tons of Salonpas pain relieving patches on-hand. Those sticky little mentholated, medicated pain relieving patches saved my aching shoulder. I slapped on several patches all over my shoulder, twice daily (once in the morning & another time at night), & after three days of having a non-working arm, I’m all patched up & well on my way to a full recovery.

So, that was my sort of depressing start to the month of December. I was very much looking forward to decorating our Christmas tree, but since I couldn’t lift my arm more than 20 degrees, my mom helped me with the decorations, & now our house looks festive & ready for Christmas!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

I thought I was being so clever by ordering some of my Christmas gifts online. Geez, I was wrong. I ordered two special gifts for my two older nieces online, & when the shipment arrived in the mail, the company got the entire order wrong & only sent me half of the items I paid for. I then made a special trip to the shopping mall to have my order corrected, only to be turned away by the store manager with her standard spiel about not being able to fulfill or correct website purchases, & that I would have to call their customer service hotline to rectify this glaring error. I was a little upset having to deal with this stupid mistake (which is entirely the fault of the company & its website staff), especially when Christmas is not so far away. I mean, nobody likes to have missing gifts at Christmastime. Well, I ended up canceling my entire order, sending back the half items that were sent to me, & bought my nieces something else entirely.

I’m rather relieved that most of my other online purchases arrived in a timely manner, & were the actual correct items. My Christmas shopping list is nearly complete, & I’m waiting for two more items to arrive in the mail. I’m ready to snuggle up beside the fireplace & watch some trashy reality TV shows. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Laura” by Coleman Hawkins

laura-by-coleman-hawkins


Well, I just finished up celebrating he Thanksgiving holiday, & I’m so pooped, but that’s probably because I got a severe sinus & head cold right after returning from a fabulous trip to Disneyland (yet again, on both, being sick after a vacation & going to Disneyland after Thanksgiving). My body is still trying to push out the last bit of phlegm & mucous still lingering in my chest & sinus, but otherwise, I feel like I’m almost recovered. Boy, oh boy! I had a migraine during my cold so severe that it made me couch-ridden for nearly two days. 

Ugh, being sick right at the start of Christmas season is such a bummer. I wanted to decorate my tree early, so that our house would have decorations up throughout the entire month from start to end, but I ended up getting so sick that I had to put off my crazy decorating until just yesterday. Now I’m so excited that my beautiful Christmas tree is up, & it’s really getting me into the mood of this holiday season. I haven’t gotten any present shopping done yet,  but I’ve got ideas swirling around in my head, & once I put my mind to it, I can get my Christmas shopping done in no time. Until then, I’m going to drink some more hot tea & rest up some more, so I don’t aggravate my annoying cough. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“I’m Glad There Is You” by Oscar Peterson for Stan Getz


Ever since I was a young child, I’ve been somewhat of a “hoarder”. Not quite the packed-from-floor-to-ceiling, almost-buried-alive kind of hoarder, but more like one of those sentimental fools who can’t bear to get rid of anything…a “clutter bug”. I’m always keeping little things here & there from my childhood, calling them “collections” & whatnot, but what those things really are, are sentimental mementos eventually collecting dust as junk. This new “collection” of mine is slowly building, but at least they serve a function. I can actually use them around the house. They are drink coasters. I’ve got a tiny collection going, & I’m kind of proud of them. They not only serve a purpose, but they also show the places I’ve been to & the things I’ve done. Let’s take a look.

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Brew Dog beer is one of my all-time favorite brands of beer (originating from Scotland). I was very surprised to find one of their taprooms during my trip to Hong Kong earlier this year. I had a great time eating Shepherd’s Pie & drinking pints of their Hardcore IPA. I “borrowed” these 2 coasters as a souvenir to mark my 1st experience at a real Brew Dog Brewery taproom.

coaster1

Belga is an incredibly delicious Belgian-ish style restaurant in San Francisco. Every time I’ve eaten there (which is three times), I’m always blown away by the interior decor. The first time I sat at the bar counter, I fell in love with this drink coaster. First of all, I’d like to note that I am a big fan of typography & graphic fonts. The text on this coaster is so cool & perfectly matches the decor & taste of the restaurant. Secondly, I love the background. It reminds me of antique tiles, yet it’s still able to look simple & clean.

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I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I picked up this drink coaster. It was probably from one of the many bars I’ve frequented in or around the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m not too sure why I had chosen this drink coaster other than the fact that I’m an avid whisk(e)y/bourbon drinker & I like Tullamore Irish whiskey.

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Earlier this year, my family & I took a small weekend trip to San Diego. On our way home, Jian & I stopped by the Stone Brewing Co. taproom at the San Diego International Airport. Jian is a huuuge fan & avid drinker of craft beer, so he was over the moon when he saw that Stone Brewing Co. had their own bar at the airport. Since San Diego is California’s epicenter for amazing craft beers, I grabbed one of these drink coasters as a sunny souvenir.

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This is another one of those drink coasters where I have no clue where I got it from. Yet again, it must be from one of the countless bars Jian & I have visited in or around the San Francisco  Bay Area. This was one of the first drink coasters I’ve ever kept from a bar. Way back in the day, Jian used to like drinking Lagunitas Brewery IPA, so I saved this coaster for him. He doesn’t drink this beer anymore, but I still kept the drink coaster.

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Coedo Brewery is one of my favorite Japanese craft beer brands. While we were visiting Hong Kong, I happened to stumble upon the Coedo taproom while searching for restaurant listings on Yelp. (Yes, Yelp works just as well as Open Rice in Hong Kong.) After a long day of subway rides & walking in the hot humid weather, we enjoyed a few glasses of ice cold beer & Japanese izakaya snacks. I kept this drink coaster as another souvenir from my trip to Hong Kong. I love how the coaster says “Beer Beautiful”, & I love the font & simplicity of the design. That’s Japanese artistry for ya!

coaster7

Mortar & Pestle is one of the few cool, hip bars in my city. The mixologists who work there are always friendly & the cocktails are pretty tasty. I feel like I’m getting a slice of the San Francisco’s craft cocktail experience right in the downtown of my bland & quiet hometown. I saved this drink coaster because it had a recipe to one of the bar’s signature drinks on the back, & was hoping that Jian would be able to spin his mixology magic & recreate that drink.

coaster9

Last year, I attended the 150th Scottish Highland Gathering & Games in the Bay Area hosted by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco. It was an amazing & overwhelming Scottish (& partly Irish) cultural festival. I had so much fun sampling Minced Meat Pies & Scotch Eggs, & watching bagpipe teams perform. I also got to sample loads of scrumptious whiskies from all over Scotland. Two of my friends that went to the festival with me got to sample some Crabbie’s ginger beer, & they saved me this coaster. I don’t like ginger beer, but I saved this coaster anyway as a memento of the special Scottish & Highland festival.

coaster8

Gitane is a very special restaurant that will always hold a special place in the hearts of Jian & myself. This is the first restaurant in San Francisco that we frequented so often that we became “regulars”, & practically everyone knew us there. The Iberian food & the cocktails were so good at this restaurant, it kept us coming back for more. Not only that, but we built solid friendships with a lot of the mixologists & the general manager of the restaurant. Eventually, a lot of the staff that we became friends with moved on to other restaurants or open their own bars, & we followed them as friends & loyal customers. This drink coaster symbolizes our “golden time” spent at this restaurant, making lasting friendships.

One of mine & Jian’s favorite bars in the San Francisco Bay Area is ABV (aptly named after the phrase “Alcohol By Volume”). At one time, this bar had a city theme on their drink coasters. These 4 coasters were the only cities we were able to find &/or collect during the last time we visited the place. I was pretty excited about these coasters because all of the cities represented places I want to visit at least once in my life, & so far I’ve already been to Tokyo, Hong Kong, & New York City. I would seriously love to visit Ireland at least once & do a whiskey crawl. That would be epic. The best part about these drink coasters are the different ways to say “Thank You” in each region’s native language. Although, I don’t understand why they would use the Mandarin language for Hong Kong when their native language is Cantonese (& sometimes we get a little butt-sore over people mixing up our dialects). I find it utterly hilarious that NYC’s saying is “Fuck Off”.

Well, that’s pretty much it. This is the end of my blog post. I am seriously going to try & cut back on my collecting of random things next year. Really. I’m getting sick & tired of myself having to cram little knick knacks & tchotchkes into every drawer & buying more storage boxes. I want to simplify my belongings & really de-clutter my life, but until then, cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

“Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes

always-something-there

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