Travel 1

Since I forget so many details on things I have done and experienced, and my efforts to keep a regular diary have flunked constantly (because riveting content like, “today I went to work and ate and read stuff” x10000000 became quickly monotonous since I don’t usually do exciting things on a day to day basis), I will try to keep a travel log here as well.

On Thursday, 8/31, I went to work despite Scott (my boyfriend) and Irv (his dad) left that morning. Pat (Scott’s mom) waited to leave until Friday, so I didn’t have to drive to Maggie Valley (further west of Asheville but before Cherokee) alone. I had talked about requesting off both Thursday and Friday but, of course, my supervisor said that was not recommended since the Senate and House were in session (I work in the state government). The trip was intended as a birthday celebration for Irv’s 84th or 85th birthday which was in May, but we were finally getting around to it in September. The Senate and House adjourned at noon on Thursday, which meant that I would have been fine if I had taken the day off. I finished the day (we even left early that day, and my supervisor told me that patience pays off and let me take Friday off, even though I could have taken the whole week off and we still would have been fine. I have a lot of resentment towards my work and the people that I work with but that’s another story.)

I was nervous about riding in the car for almost five hours with Pat, since we never really connected, and I never know what to talk about with her. Drive turned out quiet and fine. I tried to tell myself not to stress out about the long blocks of silence and it helped that she knew that I was quiet and awkward by now after three and a half years. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s at an exit that she frequented when she used to have to drive to Asheville for work every month.

Scott had gotten a nice log cabin-ish vacation home with a great view of the mountains. We settled in quickly, and we attended a folk music show late after rushing to make and eat dinner. I value culture, but y’all, this was something else. It was a sea of silver and gray with a few young folk. The performers were either 80- or 8-years-old, and although I knew I didn’t really care for folk music, I enjoyed the musicianship and some vocalists. But y’all, WTH is up with clogging. I know in my Korean culture and various other cultures do some weird shit but watching people clog blew my mind in the worst way possible. I just was baffled by the lack of art or skill (none that I could see, anyway).

On Saturday, Pat and I went to Cherokee casino to play slots. She loves slots, hahaha. I had never been to a casino or played slots, and I am always down to try new things, so we went with $20 in hand. Within my first few machines, I had more than doubled my winnings with almost $45 on my ticket. If it was up to me, I would’ve left there and then, but we had just gotten there and were there to kill time, so I kept on playing until I was down to $23 and some change. I realized that gambling wasn’t for me, because I am still sad about the money I lost that I never had in the first place, and I made it a point to stop before I hit lower than the amount I walked in with. Later that day, we cooked dinner and drove about 40mins to downtown Asheville for a free music show. More folk music and clogging ensued. Scott and I walked around downtown and had a nice time on our own. Sidenote: OMG we brought some snacks to the show and Trader Joe’s ginger snaps with crystallized ginger and shit is so fucking good. We left early because the audio setup was really bad, and we couldn’t hear any of the show (which I was so fucking glad about). Once back at the cabin, we played Cards Against Humanity with Scott’s 60-something-year-old mother and 80-something-year-old father. Hahaha they were actually more vulgar and hilarious than me.

On Sunday, we stopped by Country Vittles to eat their all you can eat breakfast. They had the most amazing crispy potatoes. Everything was delicious and I built a biscuit, sausage, bacon, and gravy tower that I couldn’t finish after eating a fuckton of grits, eggs, pancakes, and more bacon and sausage. After gorging ourselves, we went up to the Smokey Mountains (along with the rest of the world, it seemed like) to do some hiking. After a huge congestion and crowds we found a less popular trail and Scott and I went for about 25mins in and then back. After that, all four of us found a trail by a creek/river and walked some more before heading back. We made dinner and watched Sing and then the Lion. The Lion was an amazing movie that I found myself leaning in and being engrossed in the entire time. Dev Patel was nice to look at heheho.

On our last day on Monday, we packed up and headed back to downtown Asheville. We walked around the River Arts District, which was kind of stressful, because I can’t appreciate a lot of art being kind of an artist myself, and I have a very particular vision when looking for art (my favorite is Art Nouveau, which is what my blog’s main image is. Alphonse Mucha is my all-time favorite artist). Local artists there were intriguing and I appreciated their experimentation in different mediums and their dedication to their art, but I didn’t really like any of the art we saw (sorry, I’m a bitch). Once the heat and low blood sugar kicked in, I had lost all interest in looking around, and eventually we left toward Mellow Mushroom (apparently the first/original location). That was the most stressful event, because ordering food is always a pain in the ass. I don’t like decisions or having to pick something, Scott doesn’t care and will eat whatever and will often have me choose (?! Despite my hatred toward choosing lol), Pat is vegetarian, and Irv is a picky eater who is reluctant to try new things and mostly eats only foods he has been eating since childhood (but he eats curry and lamb and Mediterranean food so he is definitely not that picky). The four of us combined in one table and having to share one pizza turned out to be disastrous. HOLY SHIIIIT. So stressful for no reason. We left after Mellow and headed back to town. I drove the whole way there and back and everything ended well, I think.

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Want and Need

How does one distinguish from want and need
when the pleasures flow and make us heed
to worldly enticements that we have trained
to fool ourselves into thinking that materials gained
will satiate our needs through the goods attained?

We’ve been conditioned to jump from want to need.
We’ve trained our whole lives to spend with speed.
Omitting all processes that should be in between,
grasping at unnecessary filth our eyes have seen,
because instant gratification is a hard milk to wean.

What we need is a life with a fulfilling purpose.
We don’t need an empty shell to strike a pose.
Being denied of things we think we want seems forlorn,
but that’s society talking to make us take on a loan.
Happiness doesn’t come from money and goods alone.

We must find a way to hone the ability to determine between want and need,
because we were born to adorn life. We deserve so much more.

Interviews try to put you in a box.

Recently got a rejection letter from a job I really wanted. I completed their 30-min phone interview and completed the in-person interview that was two hours long. Most of the interview went well, but I think they ultimately turned me down after hearing my answers to the rather personal, “get to know me” questions. I forgot to talk about the me that enjoys working hard and loves learning new things. Instead, I told them too much about my personal issues and ended up presenting myself as an emotionally unstable person who cannot be depended on. I have a lot of issues, lack of self-confidence, propensity for self-deprecation, and random, unbridled honesty to name a few. Basically all of the worst traits to show during an interview.

The important thing here is that I know I have learned and grown a whole lot. I have always been aware of my flaws while ignoring or downplaying my accomplishments (which is another flaw). I have struggled my whole life to recognize them and work on them. I should be proud of who I am and who I have become. My personal issues do not translate over negatively to my work ethic, it enhances it. My compassion and empathy for others allow me to analyze the situation and adjust to the individual work styles and demands. I am a problem solver who is constantly trying to find the weak parts and make them stronger. I am flexible and adaptable and my awareness of self and others enable me to aid others effectively.

Interviews try to put people in a box for fast processing, but I’m not a box. I am at least a squiggle at my worst and a Jackson Pollock at my best.

When your parents make you feel like shit

Me: I might get promoted to a leadership role at work after only five months of starting there!
Dad: Oh? I thought you didn’t have any leadership skills. Actually, aren’t you bad at that?
(somewhere a litter of kittens dies)
Me: I just got requests for two interviews this week from jobs I really wanted to hear back!
Them: Don’t you want to take the leadership role at your current job instead of being a quitter?
(my current job is a fucking cesspool of drama, far worse than anything I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life)
Me: Oh, I haven’t weighed myself in a while. I’m just focusing on lifting weights to tone (I have been dieting my whole life bc my parents think I’m chubby).
Them: Just see how much you weigh! It’s fine, step on the scale.
Scale: 116lbs
Mom: Ok, you should be like 106lbs
(goodbye, world)
Me: *Showing them pictures of Asians with blonde hair* I want to do my hair blonde again.
Them: Really? Blonde hair makes your face look huge and only celebrities can pull that off.
Me: *dyes hair dark instead*
Them: Your hair is so black. It looks too intense. You should dye it lighter. It really brings focus to your face and you don’t want that.
(shoots self in the face)
Me: I found this really exciting graduate program, and I think it will be really beneficial to me!
Dad: I think you should have just stuck to graphic design when you had your chance.
(okay, I’ll just go fuck myself)

This is how I have grown up my entire life. Needless to say, my self-esteem is shit, and I have worked really hard to even get to where I am now. I attribute a lot of it to culture (Korean, to be specific, but I’m not trying to exclude other countries and people as a whole who have this experience. End of cover-my-ass clause.) and to different approaches in parenting. Korean parents, or my parents, really want their children to excel in every way. If this means they are going to point out your flaws in the most offensive, exaggerated way, you better pucker your pink, tender, virgin-like asshole up (or lips, if you want to be less vulgar) and learn some coping/survival skills.

I used to hate my parents for being assholes, but as I’ve gotten older, I have been able to focus more on the intentions behind the remarks rather than the remarks themselves. Popular culture and media already force me to think that my body is too big and then add to that my own parents constantly saying I need to lose weight. I love my parents. I did not know that for a long time. Although they constantly fail to give me what I need emotionally, I have to learn to overlook some (or a lot) of their flaws in order to have a relationship with them.

I want to

wake up with my head held high
with your hand between my thighs
with our hairs entangled
and your chin at just the right angle

wake up with my mind on a high
life without sighs
and when our lips touch-
our love we silently vouch

wake up with my hands up high
you command me with your sly eye
and you grasp my wrists tight
giggling with sadistic delight

wake up with my back curved high
have all of my doubts slide on by-
deciding between a meaningful life
and a meaningless life

all I know now is that life has highs

Consumerism and Identity

Consumerism and Identity: Some Psychoanalytic Considerations

Consumption, the buying of consumer products, has become central to the meaningful practice of our everyday life. People make their consumption choices based not only on a product’s utility value, but from the personal symbolic meanings they invest in objects.

Randomly remembered an article that I read when I was in school and how consumerism shapes people’s identities and how we use goods (they can be objects, places, people, etc) like symbols. The one I’m quoting from is not the article I am thinking about, but it discusses similar topics.

“I’m a BMW kind of guy.” It’s crazy how that simple sentence can evoke so much imagery, identity, and assumptions (this was an example given in the article I was thinking about). If you tell me you’re a BMW kind of guy, I’m going to assume that you’re at least in your mid-30s, was in a fraternity or had affluent parents, wear pants that are a little too short, lived in the suburbs, wear designer cologne, and never change positions during sex (this is purely my opinion). If you own a BMW or you like BMWs, that is completely different. Statements like that make me think that you like brands, the quality associated with established brands, the finer things in life, and you’re either rich or pretending to be. Using the object to describe your identity is what is interesting here.

The products that we buy, the daily routine activities that we do and the philosophies or beliefs that we pursue, tell the world stories about who we are and with whom we identify. (Elliott, 1997: Gabriel & Lang, 1995) This means that we not only consume products to satisfy your own biological instinctual needs, but
to carry out an ‘ego project’ of identity formation.
Of course, this stirs up my rebellious side in wanting to be different and not like the others. Up until my early 20s (so not too long ago, haha), I used to shit on popular music and thought that people that liked popular music was brainless people who lacked the capacity to appreciate real, good music. I took things too seriously as well as people’s choices and opinions. Now I freaking love top 40 (bc they’re catchy as fuck, especially when you’re drunk as fuck) and have acquired a lot of patience in getting to know people. Although, I still judge people who don’t like pop music as well as “real” music.
In other words, that elusive trait we find in our ideal objects of choice is something more than the characteristics of that object. The ‘real’ object of consumption that the consumer is attempting to attain, is not only their own ideal identity, but the endless pursuit of the ‘objet petit a’ projected into and perceived in advertisement’s and commercial’s ideal scenes and narratives.
I’ve heard marketing people talking about how companies are not trying to sell products anymore but experiences. Selling a can of soda isn’t about shooting the can up-close with attractive condensation and saying some nice things about it anymore. It’s about showing you a cute family who loses their cute dog or some shit, queue heartwarming montage of them putting up some handwritten lost posters in the rain, and then having the dog return with a can of soda in its fucking mouth and living happily ever after. It’s how a consumer can use the product in the consumer’s ideal context. On that note, I honestly feel embarrassed when I drink Starbucks. I’m feeding the machine, and I don’t want my identity to be associated with such a superficial and shitty coffee…but their green tea lemonade is the shit, y’all.

Roll it back

Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.

-Jim Carrey

I have never had enough spunk to roll my eyes at anyone. I think at the very core of me is a soft fluff of goodness…I think a diagram is in order:

IMG_7159

This is my expert depiction of myself (I can actually draw, just not in this instance, apparently). A big piece of amoeba mold. Amoeold (pronounced like ‘I’m old’). Moldeba (pronounced like ‘mold diva’).

But, boom, all of a sudden I’m clapping, rolling my eyes, raising my voice, and pulling all kinds of crazy stunts in general. I think my years of silent observation are finally culminating into some limbo between intense introversion and survivalist extroversion…making me into sort of an ambivert.

But! It is definitely blurring the lines of my original identity and acquired identity. For so many years I longed to be a smooth sensei of social grace, and now I find myself questioning my identity and sense of self all over again. I used to write and speak in prose, took myself seriously with the power and hormones of youth, and kept to myself, shrouded in depression. And now, after many years of trial and error, I find myself talking and laughing with coworkers and bosses and almost enjoying myself at times (total blasphemy, really).

I don’t know if it’s an age thing or if my creativity and inspiration are slowly evaporating back into the earth whence it came from, but I am straying from my deep appreciation of nature, my love for floral, succulent poetry, hopeless romanticism, and stream of consciousness writing.

I think this calls for a roll-back.