Wednesday, October 29, 2008

politics entertaining?

I'm watching the Late Show with Jay Leno and he starts his show with short responses from children regarding the current presidential election...

Here's a couple of the funnier ones that stood out to me:

8 yr. old girl--
Q: what will the new president do first day on the job?
A: "Lie, lie and lie some more!"

10 yr. old boy--
Q: what's the difference between Democrats & Republicans?
A: "Republicans are elephants because they stomp all over Americans. Democrats are donkeys because they carry everyone on their backs."

Let me tell you, I really got a kick out of it. As the Nov. 4 Election day comes closer, every network is talking about McCain, Palin, Obama, & Joe the'll even catch snide remarks in Boston Legal! And SNL with their weekly updates...well, if you've been keeping up, you know what I'm talking about...
NBC has really found a way to make politics a little more entertaining.

Here's Sarah Silverman's Great Schlep for Florida:

Anyways, regardless all the angles the media gives us, I encourage you to do YOUR own research on the issues that matter most to you. I know it's only 6 days left until the OFFICIAL LAST DAY TO VOTE, but you still have a chance to make a difference.

Yesterday, I went with my parents to our local village hall and voted for the very first time ever in my life (I forgot to register during the last election). Unfortunately my parents and I don't share the same political views, but let me tell you, it felt great!! I really feel like my one vote counts for something. Also, take time to learn a little about your local Senate and Congress candidates. They are the ones that directly impact your community. Get to know who they are and what they represent. is a really easy site to navigate to learn about all the candidates for each state. It provides you a complete list including their websites.

What you choose in this election may not only affect the next four years of your life, but who knows may directly influence the rest of your life. Make an educated decision and choose wisely.

Anyways, there's my speil...GO MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND VOTE TODAY or NOVEMBER 4!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

lessons from tank

this lovable, black haired, labrador/australian shepherd mix joined our family three summers ago when we went to Monterey Bay, CA to help my brother settle in to his senior year of high school. 

as children, my brother and i always begged for a puppy but never got one. you can say tank accidentally worked his way into our home because getting a dog was never really part of the plan. we accompanied my brother to his new boarding school (Monterey Bay Academy) facing the beach and surrounded by strawberry fields. it's a beautiful place and he's very lucky he had the opportunity to go there even for just a year. anyways, we spent a couple days getting supplies for his dorm room, unpacked his stuff, painted the walls, etc. 


on our last day there, the day before my parents and i were supposed to head back to Chicago, the dorm dean (strategically) placed six beautiful black puppies on the front lawn of the dorm. if you know me at all, i'm instantly drawn to animals, specifically dogs and i couldn't resist. i had to go and play with them. he was busy bumping around his smaller sisters with his giant swaying butt, he barely noticed me picking him up. the moment i picked him up, my heart melted. i called for my mom to come and see the little guy (he was actually the biggest of the litter) and apparently he had the same impact on her because well...she changed her flight to accommodate a puppy, we went to a vet to get his shots on that same day, and he now lives with us and keeps us company every day. 

 (there he is playing with some boy in the dorm before we took him away)

i'm sure the dean didn't intend to lure parents into taking home a puppy that day. no actually they were probably hoping that as parents were leaving their children behind for a year to four years, they'd feel lonely and empty at home so the thought of adopting a dog would probably be more effective on Dorm Move-in day than any other day of the year. since the puppies were being given for free, they each were brought home by different sets of families that day. most stayed in california while one went on an airplane to live in the suburbs of Chicago where he is currently being pampered and probably spoiled beyond belief ;) 

my parents (especially my mom) have been truly grateful for tank's company in the past three years because he essentially became their only child left at home. she would buy him sweaters and toys and oh my goodness the list goes on. but what makes life different since tank entered our home and joined our family is the constant love and joy he provides us. 


there's nothing like coming home and being greeted with a wagging tail and excited sway in his body. tank seems to know when we're not feeling so good, when we're sad or angry. i've read that labrador retrievers are especially more sensitive to human emotion than other breeds but having experienced so many things with tank in the past three years, i know that now for sure. two months ago i was extremely upset and crying about something and he just instantly came to my side. i was laying on the couch and he just did his best to console me by licking up my tears and resting his head on my shoulder. what a dog! 

anyways, something happened the other day. if we're not careful to throw them away, tank has this habit of stealing paper towels from the kitchen counter. so he snatched one that probably had the smell or leftover taste of food on it and was chewing it underneath the living room coffee table. he know it's not good for him because it always gives him a hard time when he's trying to relieve himself outside, but he eats them anyway. i was trying to prevent this from happening so i got down on my knees on the opposite side of the coffee table and scolded him to drop the paper towel. he got so caught up in the moment that he growled at me and probably didn't intend to bite me but my hand was too close to his mouth. one of his teeth punctured a gash into my left ring finger and i instantly pulled back and squeezed my throbbing finger. it began bleeding and my mom came to the room to see what had happened. tank immediately knew what he'd done and came to me as if apologizing for allowing himself to get out of hand. but in my anger and pain, i refused to forgive him and yelled at him instead. i was so angry and bitter at him! since i've moved home, he and i have been constant companions every day. i make sure he doesn't miss a meal or a walk every morning and evening. and this is how he repays me?! i told him i would not speak to him for the next whole day and he really seemed to understand me. he just sat quietly on the floor and would steal a few glances at me every now and then as if to say, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you." 

later that night, rather than jumping on my bed like he normally does, he just looked at me kinda hesitantly from the hallway and just had this mournful look in his eyes. he was trying to melt me with his eyes, but i wasn't going to budge. i went to bed with my finger still throbbing. the next morning when i woke up, he didn't greet me with a good morning lick, rather the mourning eyes and hesitant body language continued. he was waiting for my approval but i had to hurry and get ready for work. when i came home from work really late last night, he came to door and was waiting for me to pet him. i got down and gave him a long rub and told him that i forgave him and reminded him to never do that again and to obey when we tell him to do something. 

friends again, i sat on the couch with my laptop and he curled up next to me. it's amazing how we humans can hold on to feelings of anger, hurt, sadness, etc, but dogs are easily let it go. when they make a mistake and you make it known to them, they acknowledge their wrong and try to instantly fix it or beg for forgiveness. they just want to be friends again. humans (us) on the other hand, we can stew and begrudge for months and months on end before we realize we have a part to play in bringing relationships whole again. 

sometimes i think labs (or dogs) are more sensitive to humans than humans are to humans. we are so afraid of how our response or emotions are perceived by other humans that we're afraid to be 100% transparent with everyone around us--more often than not with those that are closest to us. i think we have a lot to learn from animals, in this illustration black labrador retrievers. they can teach us how to love unconditionally and forgive when wronged. 

how can i apply this lesson that tank has indirectly taught me to my human relationships?

Friday, October 24, 2008

decluttering: letting go & embracing the future

Rather than trying to promise daily posts, my new goal is to write at least once a week if not every other week.

so my journey at HOME (referring to my parent's house) really just began last sunday when i unloaded my car of the remaining belongings i left behind in Michigan.

while i began my new job at Apple almost a month ago, i was really still a guest in my own house because i hadn't even begun to at least unpack my suitcase. how could i when the current state of my closet and bedroom has been used as storage space since i started college? there was literally no room for me and the other things i accumulated while i was away for the past five years. i was totally tempted to stack these storage bins on top of the other ones i brought home at the beginning of the summer after graduation, but like my hard drive, i knew i was coming close to reaching the ceiling before our house would be packed full of storage bins. i really did not want to unpack them and sort through the other crap in my closet and bookshelves because i knew it would not be quick and easy.

i hate to admit it, but i did just that. i lounged around the house feeling sick, watched tv with tank, and let my stuff sit in a pile in the living room while contemplating how i should begin to sort through my mess. alas, i woke up one morning (maybe it was tuesday) and decided to put my contemplating into action. unfortunately i didn't do a very good job at visually documenting every step of the process. i should have taken a "before" picture before i started attacking each corner but i only started taking photos halfway through the renovation. my room is a square with two windows (on the left of one wall), adjacent to that wall is a wall painted red. the other walls are a light gray with white trim. my parents originally positioned my bed in the corner between the windows and the red wall. at the foot of my bed was a stack of plastic drawers and a large 5-tiered bookcase against the red wall. directly to the right of the bookcase is a mirrored closet that really is not meant to contain much more than one person's regular-sized wardrobe. my mom has from time to time been guilty of storing unwanted clothes, blankets, towels, typical household odds and ends mixed in with the few items i left in there for the times i did come home for a visit. so if you were to just quickly glance in there, the closet would appear quite full. anyways, here's what my room began to look like after i started the DE-CLUTTERING process:

my dad and i rotated the bed so it would be centered against the red wall with the foot facing the opposite grey wall rather than it's previous position against the corner opposite the closet. since the goal was to also move the tall bookcase, i temporarily unloaded my library into a box until i could get the bookcase to the corner diagonal from its current position.

yes, the goal was to clear up this corner and move the beige bookcase to the corner where this black bookcase is currently standing. also, to the left of the black bookcase stand two consoles side by side. they too were fully loaded with a bunch of crap i had accumulated through time. a few of the items i found are displayed below. after painstakingly sorting through each item and discarding a majority of them, i moved one console to each side of the bed. it was not an easy feat.

there were two spindles of old burnt CDs with MP3s, movies, and games my brother downloaded mixed with some originals i.e. Spice Girls and the 1996 Grammy Nominees. I began my music library at a young age (12 years ago I would've been 11 yrs. old) and at that time the iPod did not yet exist hence homemade mixes. unfortunately i think i already threw away all the old cassette tape mixes the first time we moved. so, i threw away most of the CDs, they were scratched up anyway and kept these few so my brother can reminisce and take his own journey through memory lane when he comes home for Thanksgiving.

the contains of this box used to be an authentic marble vase handmade in Egypt. I went on a 5-week tour of the Middle East in summer 2005, bought this in Luxor, Egypt after seeing a man work his magic with marble stone. Considering i paid quite a bit for it and made sure the man wrapped it as securely as he could, I hand-carried it for the remainder (4 weeks) of the trip intended on gifting this to my parents when i returned home. unfortunately the contents didn't quite make it to the United States in one piece. the shards you see above actually occurred halfway through the rest of the trip. i didn't realize it until i opened it upon arrival at home. i was so heartbroken that my prized gift to my parents couldn't even resemble a vase anymore. for some reason, i couldn't part with it right away, left the shards in the box and tucked the box away down in a corner in the lower part of the console in my room. i quickly forgot about it and other items i brought home from other countries began to take up space to my already small room. i could've just thrown it away when i saw it was beyond repair, but maybe it was the thought of having spent so much money on one item only for the tangibility to be shattered before it could even be used. or maybe it was because i bought it in Egypt and even if they were just shards i could still hold on to a little bit of that experience regardless the direction our individual lives (my travel partners) would take us. maybe it was both.

anyways, i've decided that moving on doesn't necessarily mean i have to forget those experiences, i'm just making room for new ones. while these shards apparently meant something to me, i let them go and put them in the trash (after taking photos of them). they were only taking up precious space that i need to use for new souvenirs.

next item(s): two walletbooks. huge back in junior high and high school. i decided to keep them, after all they are full of pictures and it's fun to look at them every few years just to chuckle about how much we've changed (or not) since those days.

a taste of my massively increasing book collection.
- my fave Dr. Seuss book: "Oh the Places You'll Go" gifted to me when I graduated high school from my best friend's sister.
- a few old yearbooks
- marketing research books i bought as reference for some papers i had to write but turned out they were quite good reads--Why We Buy by Paco Underhill is so mind-opening. I recommend you pick up a copy. You'll find yourself in the book more often than you expect.
- some of my books were obviously for classes i.e. Advertising & Promotion. actually, that was probably one of my favorite classes; 1. because i loved the teacher 2. i took it as an elective 3. it's a very well-written textbook.

i did discard quite a few books, but in the end i actually ended up still keeping the majority of them. i'm now trying to convince myself to go through them again and sell some of my older textbooks despite a voice in my head telling me that i may need to refer to them some day for future papers or research i may need to do...i dunno, it seems these are the hardest items for me to let go. hmmm, don't judge.

the hallway and guest bedroom where packed with stuff while i was busy moving and organizing in my room. eventually, it all got cleared out of the way and went to the garage. while i threw away lots of old papers and contents of binders that i've collected from possibly every class in college, most of the other stuff i just threw in storage bins and marked them "Garage Sale items." if anyone needs binders (i have pretty much every size), un-used college rule notebook paper, dividers (color and clear, with or without pockets), notebooks, just let me know! it'll save you some money if you're still in school! don't worry they are all in good condition, i threw away anything that was broken or looked crappy.

after pictures

while i still have very mismatched furniture. at least it looks cleaner, less-crowded, and organized. i removed all the things that are no longer pertinent to this part of my life and kept those that i think can still presently serve a purpose and possibly the future. of course tank is a permanent fixture that i'm glad my family attained three years ago. life wouldn't be half as entertaining without him. he's the one thing (or creature) that brings joy to this home.

transitioning from a 40+ hour work week, living in my own apartment, having my own routine and activities, to working only 10 hours a week, moving everything i owned from that apartment and finding space for it in an already filled household, and coinciding with other people's (my parents) routines and schedules...this entire week was a cathartic process for me. sorting through the past and making space for the present and future is really helping me adjust and cope with the change(s) that have naturally developed in the past few months.

my room wasn't the only room that went through changes, actually i re-arranged the entire family room downstairs as well, i just didn't document it. it may have only been two people living in this big house, but somehow they've just made it their own. my parents didn't intentionally shove us out of the house; my brother and i just went off to college and only came home for a weekend or week(s) here and there. since we weren't here on a daily basis, each room kinda acclimatized to my parents habits, activities, routines, etc. the entire house molded to their daily life. since i will be living with them now, i need to transition from just being a visitor to a daily resident meaning the shape and mold of the house has now to adjust to having a third person with a different lifestyle and routine. i'm not the only one adjusting, my parents are too. it's not just about them anymore, it's about all of us and living harmoniously together.

this re-arranging and organizing was just the beginning of the process. the next few weeks will only see more progress in this development process i call "moving home and decluttering." next week's project is my brother's room and then maybe i'll take a break, find some recipes and take up some cooking. we'll's going to be one week at a time.

thanks for enduring my extremely long posts and therapeutic rants. i don't assume you read it all, but if you do Reader, thanks. thanks for being there with me and going through this with me. i encourage anyone who's going through any life changes to find something productive to help you embrace the change and process it in a healthy manner. good luck!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

udpates: i've been too busy living or no one woke me up after september ended

you know the song, "wake me up when september ends?" yeah, it took me a little bit longer past september to wake up. now, it's mid-october. It's not that I have nothing to write about, rather I've had too many things going on that I didn't know which to blog about or if I even wanted to share what's been going on in my life. matthew says the truth: "if you're not blogging, it means you're too busy living."

or...maybe i just wanted to wake up when october ends? haha...nice try huh? anyways, here's the updates:

since my last entry of Aug 29, Obama and McCain have debated twice, both of which I think were quite unsuccessful and demoralizing--the American people don't want to hear two grown men bicker and throw insults at each other (you know who does what more than the other); we want to actually discuss the issues and concerns currently relevant to our lives! Plus side about the political antics, Sarah Palin has just provided more fuel for SNL and Tina Fey to provide entertainment for America so we can be distracted from the reality of our lives.

besides politics, since my last entry I stood as a bridesmaid in my childhood friend's wedding with 10 other bridesmaids and 11 groomsmen...yes, it was a VERY large wedding, but fun nonetheless. most traditional weddings are typically the same if the couple doesn't get wed in a Vegas chapel: a large bridal entourage, lots of flowers, toole, lots of guests, lots of pictures, and a dance party after the reception.

the very same weekend of my friend's wedding (Labor day weekend), i discovered that I did not get accepted for the job I really wanted, realized that I was now officially unemployed and made up for it by becoming the proud owner of my very own iPhone 3G. the rest of that week I spent wallowing in despair. my mood lifted momentarily when i received a phone call from Apple a few days after receiving the "bad" news. the manager at the local Apple retail store near my home had just finished reviewing the resume I [forgot] sumbitted a month before and invited me for an interview. Of course I accepted! I interviewed two days later, gave them my all, and a week later I called back to ask the results...the follow-up phone call went like this:

me: "hi my name is karen. how are you doing today? i came and interviewed with Manager 1 and 2 last week and I was just calling to follow-up and see what your collective decision was?"
manager: "hi, karen I was just about to call you. unfortunately, at this time we have decided to accept some of the other applicants. I'm sorry."
me: speechless. I politely thank her for her time and the opportunity to interview and hang up. still speechless. thoughts run through my head, "what could I have done better? what did I say wrong? am I really that bad of an interviewer?" etc...

10 minutes pass and my iPhone rings again. it's the Apple store. what else did she forget to say?

manager: "hi, Karen! I'm so sorry, I read the wrong file! I made a mistake and I actually wanted to tell you that we do want to go ahead with you and have you start as soon as possible."
me: speechless. "Thank you! I would love to"

now, here's the clincher. between the time I interviewed and the above phone call, I went back up to Andrews to get some of my stuff and visit some friends. While I was there, a dear friend who's also the Alumni director, offered me an opportunity to do some contract work while waiting to start with Apple. I graciously accepted. who's going to turn down money and awesome experience? not me. ever.

so, I respectfully told the Apple store manager that I would be doing some contract work for a couple of weeks and they told me that I wouldn't be starting training anyway for another couple weeks so it ended up working out perfectly! I gained some amazing event planning experience assisting with Homecoming events for Alumni weekend, got to spend a little more time at Andrews, and Apple was flexible enough to let me start when I completed my contract. It turned out to be a win-win situation! It definitely helped keep me from twiddling my thumbs.

I helped out with one last event (the Harvest Picnic) on Saturday night, the last weekend of September, woke up super duper early on a Sunday morning and drove down to Chicago with a few of my belongings from my apartment. I stopped by my parents' home to check on the dog (tank) for half an hour (the parents went on a weeklong road trip) and went straight to the Apple store in Oak Brook to begin my new experience in retail.

I have had a wide variety of work experiences in my short life, but never actually dabbled in retail, so why not give it a try now? who said you had to go directly to a full-time career straight out of college? there are no absolutes about post-college career options. anyways, i've always been curious to experience retail and who better to work for than the giant conglomerate Apple Inc.? I've been a huge fan and Apple user for many years now (thanks to my great friend andriy who converted me from a Windows Sony Vaio--he was the original commercial).

after four scholastic days of training, I officially became shirted "Mac Specialist." This week marks the completion of my second official week since I finished training and I can truly say "yep, I'm proud to be working retail and working at Apple." :)

while I've had some depressing moments during this whole process and transition(s) between college and home, old comfortable campus job to no job, successful interviews and contract work, i'm still grateful for having gone through these past couple of months. everyone comes out of college and goes through something different. some may seem to have more of a clearly directed path while others will fumble for a while until they realize their focus or passion or both. but regardless, we will all learn something about life and about ourselves in the process.

what i've learned so far about myself during this (sometimes enduring) process is that i love to work regardless what kind of work it is. but not necessarily for the right reasons. i like to work for the experience [and money], but really i liked to be constantly working and being busy because it helps me stay distracted from the deep, jumbled emotions that have been stockpiled for so long but have to be eventually dealt with. that's the reality i learned about myself. so now i'm accepting it and trying to find ways to be real with others and more importantly with myself.

also, in addendum (to this already long entry) i've begun to like living at home again, getting accustomed to a new routine, reconnecting with old friends, and making NEW friends! it might have just taken leaving Andrews for me to realize that there is a whole world of wonderful, beautiful people out there ready for me to discover and meet.

that's the update for the past month and
half. hopefully i will be more faithful and blog more regularly so i don't stockpile it all in one long speil another month and half from now.

quick recap...

1. interviewed for a job, got denied -- it's okay, i LIVE
2. my friend entered the life of marriage
3. got an iPhone 3G!
4. interviewed with Apple for retail position
5. did contract work for Andrews Alumni office
6. started work at Apple store
7. september ended

8. making new friends
9. learning to deal with life's cards for me
10. choosing to LIVE and continue my journey