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I'm bored and it sucks (but better than scared, stressed or weepy and so I'm still grateful).
In Yangon for work and things are not exactly urgent and so I struggle to fill up my days at the office.
I don't like having team dinners because I'm socially awkward (but I have to go to a dinner with my boss tonight).
I've been binge-watching tv shows in the evenings until it's time to go to sleep. And checking my email every few minutes to check for updates on Vietnam.
I miss my dogs.
That is my life right now.
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Hokkaido is <3, probably my favorite place in Japan.

















--

I'm still feeling a confused sort of happiness (and fear) about Vietnam.
It will be a big adjustment mainly because I'm such a shy person and it will be my first time living on my own in a foreign country for more than a few months at a time.
Still, I am very very thankful -- the job is a dream come true for me (and my parents). 

Safe

Jan. 26th, 2017 07:16 pm
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Got the pre-offer and experienced ecstacy :))

Now I have to work on gathering the pre-employment documentary requirements, wait for feedback after they get in touch with my references.... I wish everything could be settled already. This entire experience has been very stressful though it will be worth it if I push through in my move.

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I got the Vietnam job. Now putting together the requirements for the pre-offer >> negotiations >> formal offer.
I'm thankful, this is all because of Him, by His will.
At the same time, I feel strangely less elated than I thought I would.
Hmmm. Maybe it's because I waited so long for the decision that some of my excitement died, but I'm sure my heart will pick up speed when the pre-offer finally comes.

Back from wintry Japan. It was <3 as usual.
I love Hokkaido.
I wonder when I'll be able to go back.

Friends

Dec. 29th, 2016 10:43 am
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Spent time with my oldest friends last night. We were almost complete 😊🎄😘

In the midst of all that love and comfort, I still managed to feel a bit alone.

Thing

Dec. 24th, 2016 10:37 pm
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... and some other stuff
As a reward for hard work

tell me

Dec. 14th, 2016 09:34 am
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Random updates

9:34 am: ticked 3 things off my to-do list for today. Now time for a short break. 

<3

Dec. 11th, 2016 07:43 pm
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I've bought luxury goods online before but it was my first time actually walking into a Prada shop today.
The staff were excellent - a group of them so attentive, and helpful. I had an idea of what I wanted but they didn't have the exact piece, so they offered their own suggestions (one of which suited my needs) and I came out of it with a beautiful black nylon backpack <3

It goes well with my shoulder bag as well.







Fashion

Nov. 29th, 2016 08:43 pm
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I used to care, and then I stopped. And when I say "stopped", I mean I almost completely stopped buying new clothes for a couple of years. Then I got stressed because of the interview, got sad and so -- Im back to caring (too much). The upside is I can talk about this with my more fashion-conscious friends so I am not alone 😂😖
It's still challenging because I avoid products with leather or fur (the boots are faux leather; the coat is wool - I know, not good, but it's nearly impossible to find good coats that aren't wool).







In other news, I seem to have lost my interest in food.
I mean, I eat because I get hungry but it's like I get full after a few bites and so I think I've lost a little bit of weight. This isn't humble-bragging. I'm happy I lost weight but I'm also wondering WHY I've lost my appetite

new

Oct. 13th, 2016 07:59 pm
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"where I go you know, and the way you know"







I've been wanting to get a tattoo that says something about my Christian beliefs, and so after discussions with regular tattoo artist, decided to incorporate a line from the Bible in the middle of cherry blossoms (because I love Japan forever - even if they don't love people with tattoos - and I love spring, and I love flowers).


"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"

Family

Oct. 4th, 2016 10:43 pm
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I wanted donuts so my twin brought home a whole box.
He also bought me a book I was interested in:




And then today he backed into a metal sign and broke the right tail light of my car.
Tsk.

Cry

Oct. 2nd, 2016 04:32 pm
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Hurting for Daiichi huhu

Girls

Jun. 13th, 2016 11:15 am
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I just returned from an exhausting 8 day work trip. So exhausting that I started becoming weepy during the trip and Ive remained in that condition since coming back. Im very grateful for the opportunity of course and it is just nuts because the past two times I was on mission; it appeared that Sho-kun was also in the same area for work. So near yet so far. T_T

But - happy to note that my Arashi obsession has calmed down significantly. It's always good for everything to be in moderation anyway.

Highlight of last week was of course the surprise bridal shower we held for my dear Chinky. I just met some of the other girls in the entourage last week and I thought to myself that her friends are such good-looking people. Im the least good looking one hehe. She's going to have such a gorgeous entourage (not counting myself hoho) - I need to hit the gym again and reduce my ice cream intake :p










/rest

May. 31st, 2016 10:24 pm
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Life is good.
Major deliverable submitted last week, praise the Lord. I can take a break from that for a while, pending questions/requests for revision.
Got a present for the kids of the lady who has been helping take care of our household matters for more than ten years... that felt good. Sometimes I feel like there is no act of kindness that is completely unselfish because you still do these things to feel good or to ease your suffering. Like my donations to animal welfare organizations and sponsorship of rescued animals - I can't really call it unselfish, because seeing suffering animals depresses me. And doing something for them helps ease my pain. But this present for our ate's kids -- I feel convinced that it's one thing I did without getting anything in return (except, obviously, now I can write this and feel good about what I did).
But I do a ton of stuff for myself as well, come to think of it. I treated myself to a major thing this week. And then... I'm back in Ho Chi Minh (but this is for work). Still, it was such a comfortable trip!
And Viet Nam... for some reason... always feels like home.
I lived here for a few months in 2011 and made some very good friends; is that why?
I love it here.
I was semi-forced to stay in an expensive hotel tonight because this is where my boss is staying and we're leaving for the field early tomorrow and it would be too much hassle for me to take a taxi from another hotel to her hotel... so I gave in and just booked here as well. Because of this, I will not be able to save any of my per diem. Oh well. Sometimes, we just have to choose the path of least resistance.

I've also been thinking... I was talking to my mom a few weeks ago about how I've never made any friends by myself in the gym, even after going to the same one for almost 9 years. My mom, on the other hand, quickly made acquintances at the gym she's been going to for just two years or so. I asked her why, and she said that maybe it's because I don't look at people. And it's true. I don't go to the gym to make friends but the real reason I don't make eye contact is because I am a very insecure person. It's true. At the office, I generally don't look at people either. So after my mom brought that bad habit of mine to my attention, I tried making eye contact with people I meet in the corridors at work, and found that it really does make a difference. So yesterday, I ended up talking to two random people and all because of making eye contact. To be honest, I was only that pleasant because I mistook them for someone I ought to know (namely, my mentor's husband), so I was like all smiley and they were all smiley in return, and then I was like "are you Frank?" And they were like "no, I"m not Frank -- Oh, so that's why you greeted me so nicely". haha :)) So yeah, I should be friendlier.

Another lesson learned - prioritizing my health has helped me claw back my sanity. I burnt out but I couldn't afford to stop working, which the doctor actually said I HAD to do since I was in really bad shape, but I tried to do things in moderation - I've been paying attention to signals from my mind and body; I stop working when I hit a certain point of not thinking quickly enough; I've been exercising a little bit. And I feel so much better. I feel that I'm more productive as well. So now I live in fear of burnout. And only because it hurts my productivity. I'm not sure if that's ironic. But whatever. As long as it helps me stay healthy.. :))





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Dear Lao,

I decided to write this the other night, while lying on my stomach during a one-hour aromatherapy massage in Pakse City. The masseuse pulled the towel down my back, saw my tattoos and momentarily hesitated. It isn’t unusual for people with tattoos to visit Southeast Asian countries, so I know she wasn’t surprised by the fact that I have tattoos; she was probably surprised by what I have tattooed on my back – your name, in Lao script. 




I vaguely remember the first time I felt the urge to visit you. I must have been in college when I read a short piece written about you in some book or magazine, and something clicked into place.

I am someone you could describe as “outdoorsy”. I grew up in the mountains, among the trees, loving open spaces. You have an abundance of this, and life here – the cultural diversity, the basic friendliness and simplicity of your people, the sleepy cities, the food and liquor - it fits with who I am, and what I look for to be happy. It provides a counterpoint to the storm I have inside my head, and it brings me peace.



It takes some imagination to picture what a Lao city is like. It feels spacious because the population is sparse and there aren’t any skyscrapers or imposing buildings. There are hardly any neon lights, and nothing much to do past a certain point at night except have a cold Beer Lao and count the chickens and dogs strolling down the road. Vientiane, the capital city, is a bit different, but still the same. For example, there was an 11 pm curfew in effect the first time I visited, and my friend Kris and I would walk back to the guesthouse just before that, after having what passes for a few drinks when you’re 22 years old. It isn’t that I love curfews, but this helps illustrate how Lao cities are different, in my experience, at least. It’s like I have to rest here.



I first visited Lao in 2006. My mother and I stayed in a small guesthouse in Luang Prabang. Nothing grand, but every bit of that experience has been seared into my brain – the wooden floor under my bare feet, the smell of fresh laundry coming through the open window, the taste of the banana pancakes the guesthouse owner made every day, the lights of the lanterns sold in the night market. In Luang Nam Tha... A secret wish of mine was granted when we went on an early-morning hike through rice fields before the mist had lifted.



I visited Luang Prabang again in the summer of 2007, and also made stops in Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Phonsavan. A quiet memory I have from that trip is of Kris and I going from one riverside eatery to the next, looking for the best mango-banana smoothie in Luang Prabang. The Vang Vieng of 2007 lacked streetlights, and did not have the sprawling luxury resorts it has today. Kris and I walked into ‘Ghostbear’s’ guesthouse and were shepherded to a second-floor room with a balcony overlooking the Nam Song river. Our days in Vang Vieng were spent hiking and kayaking for hours (“don’t think, just row”). My fondest memories are of the 2-day “Secret Eden or life” hike and kayak trip, where we took turns trapezing into the river after having shots of Lao Lao (a note: apparently, free shots by the river were banned in 2012) and which ended with us swimming across the river after our guide who had, without prior warning, stripped down to his green underwear and plunged in. On one night, we had to pry open the window after getting locked out on our balcony (we did not want to break the still of the night by shouting for help).






The only reasons Kris and I were able to pull ourselves away from you that summer were because we were low on funds and we had already bought our tickets to Cambodia. Otherwise, we may really have permanently disappeared into the mountains. Upon our return from Cambodia, I got your name tattooed on my back, along with a mountain scene from a picture I took on our hike to a Khmu village.



I returned to Vientiane in 2011, as an intern for a project to improve your urban water supply systems. That year, I met a girl, Galit, from across the world who was also on a (semi) short visit in the country, who also has a soft spot for you and has now become one of my best friends.



It is now 2016. After burning out at 31 years old due to my unsustainable work habits, I decided to pack up and visit you (and my dad, who has a project in Pakse) for a week, to rest, and to experience life away from the hectic world I’ve built for myself. One of the outputs of this trip is this letter.



I fly out in less than 5 hours. This goodbye is not as sad as previous ones, because you are more accessible to me now. My job, while being too much most of the time, has also allowed me to become independent (financially and otherwise), which is basically what I’d always aimed to be. I’ve grown up. I’m not the lost 21-year old girl I was in 2006 but some things don’t change, and it seems that my love for you has become one of my core characteristics. While the world keeps turning and undergoes (sometimes) irrevocable transformations, it is my hope that you will also stay the same in some core ways – same same, but different.


Love,

Maria
(March 28, 2016)
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I've been blessed with wonderful friends, but this girl is probably the one who understands me the most.
She who has had the most INSANE things happen to her. One of the few people who has been around even more than I have, and who was brave enough to start traveling on her own while in her teens. This girl, much braver than I am. <3



I miss her. 

Eyes open

Feb. 11th, 2016 07:46 pm
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So tired and still have much work to do when I get home. The above pic was taken a few years ago. I think my eyes have changed. I've noticed that my eyes now look tired in pictures. I will probably never look so carefree again. But well, I've had my share of carefree days I guess.
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And you left with your head filled with flames
And you watched as your brains fell out through your teeth
Push the pieces in place
Make your smile sweet to see
Don't you take this away

- Neutral Milk Hotel, Two-Headed Boy Part 2
--


Got sent a reminder on the above this morning by way of a message from an old friend (the wonders of modern technology!)
Realized again that there's really so much suffering that just happens on the inside, and what may seem insignificant to us  may be a big deal to others. Nothing can be taken for granted and there are (almost?) always chances to do good.
Thank God.
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As a break from work, I have decided to jump into the (relatively mild) uproar over Arashi's leader's new drama; leading lady; their apparent chemistry (in one of the group's TV shows); how said leading lady supposedly looks like his ex-gf (whom he has previously said was just a friend) and, therefore, they will probably end up dating, falling in love, and getting married.

1. As with the entire prior-to-Miyagi fiasco, this has polarized fans, which is well - the most negative thing about this, I would say.
2. Let's get real - Arashi's career rests significantly on the emotional connection they have worked hard to build with fans. Therefore, can anyone expect anything other than emotional reactions from fans? I don't think so. Is it sad for leader? Of course. But he has also benefitted through the years from this emotional connection and must take the bad with the good - as does everyone else.
3. On the point where leader should be able to have the freedom to do whatever he wants - yes, but in the same line, others also have the freedom to react. Everything has consequences. Will the consequences be reasonable in everyone's view? Of course not. And fans on both sides will continue to be polarized over this, I expect. Tsk tsk.
4. Are emotional fans not real fans? (see point 2 above).
5. And, also, all the fuss is also ending up as publicity for the show. Some people who may otherwise not have cared, may end up watching out of curiousity.

....and I shouldn't actually be taking the time to write this, but I'm procrastinating from things I should be doing. hehe.

Captain

Feb. 6th, 2016 09:00 pm
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Key to  my hear -.. I mean house.



Because I truly believe that Ohno is the cutest guy ever. For real. Adorable even in his awkward age and just getting better with age. <3

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