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This past weekend, I headed home for less than twenty-four hours with a mission in mind: tell my mom about my faith and about my decision to not go to medical school.

I was scared out of my pants.

Now, anyone from a strict Asian family can tell you that we’re all expected to grow up, become something big, get rich, support our parents in old age, and lead successful lives. But success is relative. It’s subjective, immeasurable, by all accounts, by anyone but the sole subject himself/herself.

My idea of success? Being able to help people. How? Dunno.

But I don’t plan on being rich in the process. I don’t like money. Money corrupts. Money’s probably already corrupted me pretty badly. I mean, I spend thirteen hours a week at work, right? There’s a lot more I could be doing with that time. It would’ve been easy to pass all of my classes, but I’m probably going to end up with an F and a C (Thanks, chemistry.).

And my mom, being the kidder that she is, suggested that I work thirty hours a week so that I could attend school basically for free. This was about five minutes into our drive away from UCLA. I groaned on the inside, wanting to smack her (working thirty hours isn’t even possible or legal as a work study student) and not tell her anything. I then proceeded to tell her about my summer plans, which consist of attending summer school for the first half and taking EMT training for three weeks afterwards. Immediately, she went on about how we “talked about not being a paramedic, but a doctor instead,” and I slyly explained to her how a lot of doctors work as paramedics initially. In my head, I wanted her to shut up; it’s true, a lot of doctors do work as paramedics at first to get a feel for the field, and she ranted on without even knowing what she was talking about.

Sometimes people just need to shut up when they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

If you can’t tell, my mom frustrates me a lot.

And of course, I wasn’t even planning to be a doctor, and I didn’t say that I was, either. Which my mom found out later after lunch the next day, amongst other things.

Two people that I’ve talked to recently have had difficult situations with their parents regarding their faiths and their futures. I easily heaped my mom into the grouping of parents that would freak out, especially over both. Would I get kicked out of the house? Would I be disowned? Would she cut off funding for school (not that it matters, she’s probably more broke than I am at this point)?

Nope.

She was fine with it.

Just like that.

I was relieved. It was like trying to dig up hot stones from inside my throat, and saying it was like pouring cold water down my esophagus and letting those stones dissolve.

She was fine with me being Christian. The explanation was that she wanted me to be old enough and strong enough to make that decision before I did, which is why she always disapproved of me going to church when I was younger. To me, it sounded pretty silly, but I wonder if I’ll feel that way about my kids in the future, if I have any.

And she was fine with me changing my major to Communications, though she immediately rushed to “Oh, you can be a psychologist then!” Mom, please learn when to shut it. I had dig into her mind that I didn’t plan on being rich; she accepted it with some disappointment. I told her that I didn’t know what I would do with a degree in Communications; maybe go on missions or something. “Well, you can still learn some medical things…” Mother, there are times to spew crap and there are times to not spew crap. “Well, as long as you’re proud of what you do, go ahead and do it.”

Relief. And then a tinge of anger. And then a bit more. You hypocrite! You spent fifteen years of my life literally beating school into me, and you’re fine with this? Am I supposed to be happy? What was all the yelling and screaming for, then? What was all the expectation to get A’s in school? What was the disappointment on your face when I was rejected from UCLA and the glee when I was accepted? What was it all the times when I asked to donate to a cause that I was working for and you blatantly said no? Why the hell would you say “no” when I asked you to drive my friends home and they’ve driven me home dozens of times because you weren’t there?

You piss me off.

Are you proud of what you’ve done with your life?

“Not really.”

Oh.

You hurt, too.

I didn’t know that.

I thought you could only hurt me.

Lesson learned: though my mom can be a class A doofus sometimes, she’s still human. She’s fifty-eight going on fifty-nine this year, more than three times the amount of life that I’ve had. I wonder what went on in the forty years that I wasn’t there? I still have a lot to learn and a lot to live.

So yes, my mom is fully okay with… everything. And to add to the good news, my grandma, who had a stroke this past summer, is learning how to walk again almost seven months later. She’s been in Taiwan for the past two months because the doctors here told her that she wouldn’t be improving anymore and took her out of the nursing home. Wrong, you are, doctors. There’s really only one possible explanation for this:

God answers prayers.

In the words of one Michael Eubanks, “Now, if you had told me just one of those things, that would’ve been pretty cool. But all three?” Yes, Mike, all three. In short, I’ve been praying for my mom’s acceptance for a couple of weeks and for my grandma’s healing for a couple of months.

And I could’ve found out that my grandma was learning to walk again a while ago, but my mom chose to be ambiguous via e-mail because, well, she’s a jerk like that. And God basically went, “Hey, I’m going to reveal to you three amazing things in your time at home, it’s going to be awesome, and you’re going to see me in it.” That, I did. Good job, big man.

Photos later, hopefully, and I’ll attempt to update the photos from a couple of posts ago. It’s been difficult keeping up, not even because of finals or anything. Photography funk, I guess. That’ll change over spring break, for sure.

This is me, stuck at a five hour work shift, saying, “I believe in miracles. (Where you from? You sexy thang!)”

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On Friday, I went longboarding for the first time. And I didn’t fall on my face!

I look like I have to pee.

When I was little, I was really scared of skateboarding, so I didn’t think that I could longboard. Ever. It’s really not that hard, though. I think going snowboarding over winter break helped me get the hang of it; it would just be worse to fall on concrete than on snow.

These three are pretty cool kids for going with and teaching me, you know? They borrowed my camera and took some pictures while I was at work… needless to say, they were hilarious. Find them on my Facebook!

I had a lot of fun, and I’m really excited to go again some time!

Yesterday, we had a girls’ night in at Evelyn’s. We cooked! It was good to be cooking again after such a long time… making cereal and kimchi bowls just doesn’t cut it sometimes.

The Menu
Quick Potato Chip Chicken
Pasta with Herb Lemon Butter Sauce
Cornbread
Salad
Condensed Milk Chocolate Walnut Graham Cracker Thing of Awesome

Sorry, if I forgot anything! I was really impressed with how each of us had a hand in making our meal and quite satisfied with the result. I’m also really glad that I got to chill out with Liz Namba in the kitchen… we had a lot of fun making tons of chicken and having private dancing moments that nobody saw.

I love my Sistahood!

PS What does protege even mean?! I’m scared.

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Part I: Outlook
This is going to be the last… dead serious thing I’ll be writing here for a while. Not because I don’t want to share anymore with the blogging community or because everything’s all fine and dandy now; more due to the fact that I really have to spend some time looking at the forest, not the trees. Doing this everyday is like looking a tree, or just a couple. If I spend more time in the forest, I’ll see things in a much broader view. Also, I expect a lot of incoherence out of myself (see last post) in the next part of my journey.

But a short explanation is due anyway.

It took me a while to figure it out for myself, but the entire talk about anger and reconciliation made me realize how much anger exists in my life and how much reconciliation is required. People have hurt me, and I have hurt people. Accidentally and intentionally; in small ways and in large. We look out and we see a world that’s filled with disaster and hatred, but what about our own lives? We’re all collateral damage of each other’s existence, and we all contribute to the damage.

But me… as much as I don’t like to think my life is any worse than anyone else’s, I do believe that I’ve caused a lot of harm in my life, more than the average person. There have been times when I’ve been so enamored by rage that I’ve hurt people, physically and emotionally, that I claim to love.

And I did think that I was done with that. But then came the realization that there hasn’t been a time yet when I’ve had cause to be extremely angry, likely because I’m surrounded by good people. Yet I know that there will be a day when that happens, because it’s an inevitability of life. Or at least, that’s what I think. Someone says or does something without the intention of hurting you, but you are hurt; so you retaliate. That’s how wars are started. That’s how relationships are broken.

I was actually once told that humans only have the capacity to destroy. You can disagree and say, “You’re wrong; look at all of the progress we’ve made!” But where does all of that progress lead? Small arms, assault vehicles, weapons of mass destruction. Our race has become so entangled in conflict with each other that there are organizations composed of millions of members attempting to stop it. So you say, “But those people are doing good!” But the reality is that they perpetuate the cycle. How much can millions do in a world of billions? And what do they really offer? Good samaritan by day, but when they go home, they wear clothes and eat food which can be traced back to funds used for the very things they attempt to combat. And it’s true: they can’t help it. Nobody can trace back their every move to the essential core of it all.

And I also won’t deny that there are some truly good people in the world.

I’m simply not one of them.

It’s the knowledge that hurts me the most. The knowledge that, in all probability, the people I love will hurt me, and I will hurt them. It scares me to think about that, but I acknowledge that there hasn’t been one person that I love that I haven’t hurt. As much as I talk about having grown my heart and going through a transformation that Jesus has started in me, can I truly say that I will never hurt anyone ever again? I’m surrounded by love; a love that could end in pain for both sides. And only time will tell.

————–

Part II: A return to simpler things.

Awkward to transition from one to the next like this, but I think this’ll be a breath of fresh air!

This is the Nom Nom truck! I saw that it was going to be in the Court of Sciences on Thursday, so I intentionally brought my camera. I didn’t get to eat any that day, though, because I didn’t have time between work to get any. It made me smile big, though, for sure! This truck is ridiculously cute. Like me.

And this picture’s for Esther! I know how much she likes taking pictures of the sky, and this was most definitely an amazing sky to take a picture of! My camera somehow gets really good lens flare. Well, it can be considered bad, but I like how it makes my pictures sometimes.

Wesley looking at me for not getting a picture of him blowing out his candle. Oops! My camera was in auto-focus still from getting the waitress to take the group picture, so it took a while for it to go. My bad! Still, he and his ice cream sandwich look funny here haha.

OGDAD Update
Today: Gave leftovers of Pad See Ew to… everyone haha.
Yesterday: Caught dinner with the Paula! And we talked. And were cute. (Does that even count?) I’m getting really creative with these…
Thursday: Helped Tammy with kendo tournament volunteer “training.”
Wednesday: Got meal for Earl Duque! Who now has his Bruin Card back.
Tuesday: Let people borrow my special Mark Study markers! A lot of people. Especially Daniel Allen.

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That was an interesting weekend. It totaled about forty-eight hours, sixteen mood swings, six worship sessions, two awkward waking up’s, and one big lesson about love.

Going into the weekend, I don’t think anyone was sure about what would happen. We had expectations, hopes, things that we asked God to do for us in our time there. And He responded. Personally, I was moving back and forth between a personal frustration with having to drop the Daily Bruin and wanting to be at Frosh Con. And what didn’t help was that I had high expectations for our exposure in South Central LA, but I felt like I hadn’t gained much from it. I’m still struggling to seek the deeper meaning of that day and to grow a heart for those who live in physical, emotional, and spiritual poverty. But what I did realize thereafter was that the Daily Bruin wasn’t the most important thing I could’ve done that weekend: Frosh Con was. Not only that, but I remembered why I loved photography in the first place: because I could take pictures and capture moments of my friends. Whether I’m in the Daily Bruin or not really doesn’t change that; in fact, it probably gets in the way of it. I have no interest in taking pictures of basketball or volleyball players for our school or a broad view of Bruin Walk. So why did I join the newspaper? I’m not sure anymore; maybe it’s because I’d forgotten the core of my love for the art of photography.

The biggest bonus of the weekend, though, was learning about love and the ways that we could share it with those around us. Honestly, hearing about it at first, I didn’t know if what I had to offer to others. I thought that I, who had constantly been hurt by the ones I love and didn’t believe that I had any talent or unique characteristic to connect to people through, couldn’t possibly know how to give love freely to others. And in thinking about this and through talking with Michelle Kim, I saw that these things had no ability whatsoever to hinder my ability to pour my heart into others; that the broken can heal the broken and that you don’t really need anything special to do so; you just need love. And even though I grew up surrounded by hurt and hate, it could’ve only made my heart grow more for those who had felt or are feeling that same pain. Loving wasn’t just about looking over yourself and your capacity to do so; it’s about offering what you can, however little or much, to others in order to ease the poverty in their lives.

Besides, apparently I can write. And I know I can take photos. And I know I can love. Having ever doubted that last one was foolish; I thought that being damaged meant that I had a closed heart. But I don’t think that’s true, at least by the way that I feel about people and how my heart breaks in seeing them be hurt.

So I’d really like to just be able to stop being so concerned about what’s going to happen five, ten years down the line and live for what I can do today. “It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into doing it.” And this boundless, unconditional love that everyone has the ability to give can be used everyday. For me, I just need to start living out my faith and put down all of my shame and stigmas over being a Christian. I was asking myself who I was to be the type of person that asks people to go to church events and to ask themselves about how they personally feel about God and religion. And the reality is, well, that I was being a Change Agent. At first, I had thought that I was turning into the kind of person that I despised: the sort that go door to door trying to convert you into whatever they want you to be lest you be damned. But I’m not; I’m turning into a person who loves and wants to share that love with others. And at the end of the day… I like those people. I really do.

And what can I do today or this week to live that out? Well, I think I’ll invite someone to Can This Wait and go with them to help them explore what Jesus has to offer. I’m not too sure who yet, but a few people come to mind; I have to pray and think about it before I set my mind to it. And every time I see someone sitting alone or with their head down or just someone who looks like they need somebody, I want the courage to go up to them and ask them how their day is. But I think I can progress towards that instead of just jumping into it; it’s kind of hard, you know? And I think I’ll check out that student leadership meeting after Catalyst on Thursday. I may or may not be a good (Paula and I have decided that “leader” is a misnomer) person for the job, and I may or may not have much to offer others in the scope of it all; but if there’s anything in this world that I can do for anyone, shouldn’t I just do it?

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OGDAD Update:
-Today: Held a door for someone in front of Acacia.
-Yesterday: Held an umbrella over a complete stranger.

Did I skip a day? I’ll figure it out later. And now…

What do you think? I don’t know, something about this photo just brings a great joy to my heart; I almost cry when I see it. It’s probably nothing special, but I will say that it’s probably my favorite photo that I’ve taken. Even now, as I’m ebbing between frustration and content, I like to throw all of my windows aside and just stare at it (it’s my wallpaper). For a while, I was concerned that I couldn’t take any incredible pictures with my camera; it’s a bit dated and the lens is starting to show signs of wear from loss of lens cap. But God proved me wrong in like half a day by giving me this, and I’m very thankful for it!

So I got in trouble today by Alex Slevcove and Michelle Kim… for password protecting things, of all reasons. But I don’t have an answer for why I do it, other than the obvious fact of my last post being incredibly rude and angsty. But I think I’ll draw on a lesson from our latest Mark Study: Jesus comes for those who are in need, who are sick and acknowledge their ailment. And like 6’3″ Earl Duque told me earlier today, I live in a community. I don’t intend for my life or any parts of it to be a secret, so they shouldn’t be. Well, that’s easier said than done. I have plenty of secrets. And someday, I’m guessing, they’ll all be out there, and by that time, I’ll have more. Vicious cycle, right?

But as for my weakness, my sickness, my need; these things I can share with everyone. “Trust those you love; love those you trust.”

So I’m going to un-password protect everything now. Are you watching?

PS Yes, it is 4 AM. At this moment, I’m sad that I don’t have my camera because Philip Silao is wearing a Snuggie and studying; it’s hilarious. This is a picture perfect opport– I have Photobooth. Watch out for pictures later!

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Words in my head right now: Fuck this shit. I don’t know what’s up with me today. It’s a laundry list of negative emotion: upset, angry, frustrated, exhausted, impatient, discontented, unsatisfied. Something about yesterday made me think… What am I doing?

Since when was I the person who gave up something deeply important for church?
Since when was I the person who was inviting people to church events?
Since when was I the person who spent entire nights talking to people and telling them that I believe their attendance at a church event would be good for them?

I’m pretty sure that who I am is the exact opposite of… not who I wanted to be, but who I expected to be. I kind of hate that. God, Jesus, fellowship. These are an inevitable reality of my life now; I can neither deny their existence nor escape their gravity. But part of me still wishes that none of it had ever happened… Why?

I’ve never believed in any of these things in my life, ever. So why now? I’m not denouncing everything that’s changed about me and my life in the past few weeks… I’m just confused by it all. I mean, wasn’t there another time and another place where I needed Jesus much more than I do now? I was… content with life. Granted, it’s much less satisfactory than what I have now, but it was simple and pure and fun.

So where’s all this gone? I don’t know. Somewhere along the way I picked up too many things to do with not enough hours in the week to do it. School. Work. Intervarsity. Kendo. The Daily Bruin.

Oh, that’s right. I’m out of the Daily Bruin for this quarter. At first, I thought I was okay with this reality; that I’d be fine with giving this up… No. In what universe have I ever sacrificed my interests for… anything? And for what? I know nothing about Frosh Con, only this burning sensation in me that tells me that I should go. What is that anyway? God? Jesus? Intuition? Instinct? What I hate is that it feels like I never had a choice. I like to be able to choose. To say yes or no. To go one way or the other. But in this case… I don’t know, someone else has the steering wheel.

And I guess therein lies the answer: the reasoning by which I simply don’t give a damn at the moment. Intervarsity, Kendo, and The Daily Bruin. My priorities are skewed. Yes, work tops the list. But… school is at rock bottom. I just don’t care anymore. And somewhere in my rather angry walk to work today, I quantified all of this into words.

There are two types of people in the world: those who justify the means by the end, and those who justify the end by the means. I am the prior. What does this mean? It means that if I can’t perceive any particular goal or endpoint or final destination for what I’m doing, it’s pretty much pointless. And I guess that’s what’s happened: I no longer see any sort of end to school. So what if I get a degree? Med school that I can’t afford? What would I do then? Become a paramedic? I don’t need to be in school for that.

But another explanation’s cropped up in my head this morning. I simply haven’t had enough time to be myself lately. What we learned in Mark Study yesterday feels like it applies here: I’m letting off that I’m better than I actually am. If it’s one thing I hate, it’s admitting weakness to other people. And though others might think that, in having recently decided to follow Christ, that I’m at a strong point right now… I’m not.

Imagine being a dark room for a very long time and then stepping out into the sunlight. That’s how it is right now. I’m disoriented, confused, lost, and I’m happy to be out in the light, but it’s blinding. And right now, as I’m questioning everything and drowning in my own doubt, it’s kind of like I’m shielding my eyes from it all.

I realized last night that I’m comfortable in the dark. It’s not great, it’s not happy, it’s not even contenting, but it’s comfortable. And sometimes I’d like to just be there for a while instead of having this world thrown at me.

God, I don’t know what to do. SOS.

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Ick.

I woke up feeling… not great today. I’m sort of split between maybe half a dozen or so concerns at the moment; life is not being the simple thing that I want it to be.

I miss the days when I enjoyed the better things in life, and that wasn’t even too long ago. Thinking about it now, I can, but I have to take the time to comprehensively think about it before I can smile.

Kendo, for instance. I love kendo. It’s a shame that I couldn’t practice yesterday (partly due to my chilling out with goodsociety for so long and because of my hip), but I still enjoy watching and photographing it. When I’m there, the only thing on my mind is how I can improve and how I can adjust my white balance to take clearer photos.

Speaking of goodsociety, those kids together make one amazing band! I’m envious of their individual and group talent, and the truly captivating part is that they’re all our age. I wish that more people knew how crazy good they are; give credit where credit is due, you know? It’s so random how I photograph them and make wallpapers and banners for them, but I enjoy using my creative talents to tell a story about other people. Hence the camera.

And that leads me to OGDADing. Always makes my day a little bit brighter. Yesterday, Paula, Sarah, and I left Lester (Leslie and Esther) a little gift on Leslie’s laptop. Afufufu. I wonder if that counts as a good deed… Today, well, I don’t know what’ll happen today, but who does?

But right now, at this moment, it’s all about studying for the quiz and midterm I have tomorrow for the classes I haven’t been going to. I’m not too sure what’s up with my attitude these days; I really don’t care about school right now. I might be reading and taking notes right now, but there’s no intent to it. I should figure this out soon before I’m on academic probation…

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