Celebrating New Year’s Like a Grown-up

I have never been a huge New Year’s person; the whole drinking bubbles, getting wasted, wearing those ugly glasses with the new year and squeezing in public areas with a billion people to watch 5 mins of fireworks that is. Then I looked back and realized I never actually did the stereotypical New Year events. Of course, I blame this on my parents because they have collectively stopped celebrating any type of holiday or birthday since I hit the age of 12. My dad didn’t understand why any sane human would want to brave the cold and stand with a bunch of people to watch fireworks when you can catch the whole thing live on TV. In your underpants even. In other words, my family is uber chilled and low-key about things like that (euphemism for lazyass’).


my family during every new year's since i can remember

This year is the first time as a “grown-up” celebrating New Year’s. Living alone, working and supporting myself like a BAMF, I decided to accept the invitation to “party-like-there-is-no-tomorrow”. I’m not a huge party animal but I am a fan of fireworks cause they pretty :)

Turns out, having a friend that is uber into New Year’s and loves planning things is crux. The first thing I see when I get to her apartment is this:

...jello shots

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The day I woke up feeling like shit but then was motivated to walk to work

I’m not entirely sure what possessed me at the start of this week. Monday morning came and I woke up feeling like a bag of shit that has been left sitting out in the sun for too long. My dreams the night before were long and dramatic, but instead of having something interesting to talk about, all I was left with when I woke up was a sense of what-the-hell and loneliness. I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed, curl up in a ball and sleep for eternity.

But fortunately for you, this blog post isn’t going to be about me feeling sorry for myself.

Somehow I got my sorry-ass out of bed and stumbled into the shower. I proceeded to have a huge self-pity fest (oh woe is me)  and felt bad for myself. For about 30 mins. Then I decided I was tired of feeling sorry for myself and decided to walk to work.

I’ve only walked to work on one prior occasion and had a blast (see two posts down). My office is pretty close, about a 10 min bus ride or a 25 min walk. When you add in the time you wait for the bus, walking isn’t actually a bad alternative. The weather has also been beautiful in Taipei this past week, about a steady 68F. With all the misty, gloomy, rainy weather that we’ve been experiencing in the past month, it’s nice to be out and about in the sun. More sun, less cubicle.

Walking is awesome, especially when you aren’t in a hurry. I love having my headphones on and just feeling the crisp winter (Taiwanese winter) wind around me. It has also been a great way to see more of my neighborhood, which I’m growing to love more and more everyday. It’s an old Taipei neighborhood, where the buildings are very old and dilapidated. However,  each and every building as charm and character. The neighborhood feels like a place that is loved and lived, kind of like your favorite pair of jeans, just slightly worn out but ever so comfortable. I’m so glad I moved.

My favorite part is all the trees and parks that is nestled around the neighborhood. I’m constantly surprised by how many trees there are just sprouting in unexpected corners. Though the buildings are unattractive and marked with the characteristic bars on the windows, everyone seemed to solve the unsightly problem by filling each windowsill, doorstep, wall and crack with flowers and plants. There’s probably a small park every two blocks.

something like this

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A Pause to Feel Time

For better or for worst, I spent a lot of time this weekend getting completely lost in my thoughts, reflecting on the past couple of months and just taking a breather. Work has been intense and going at full-speed, relationships have come and go in a blink of an eye and the only things that are still consistent are things like my love for tofu. Even my breakfast habits have changed in the past 3 months (I started eating corn flakes again).

Kurt Vonnegut Jr once said that “Life happens too fast for you to ever think about it.” That’s exactly the sentiment I’ve been feeling recently. Why the fuck is time going by so damn fast?! I think working at an ad agency is one of the main contributing factors to these feelings. The agency life is so unbelievably dynamic and fast-paced. Sometimes I don’t even really realize what is happening until it is all over. Mostly, I’m working on autopilot, automatically dealing with whatever is thrown at me. I can never predict what will happen each day because the unexpected always happens. Problems arise, dealt with and resolved within minutes each day, so many that it is impossible to even keep track of. 12 hour work days really screw over your perception of what a day looks and feels like.  Monday just blurs into Tuesday, Tuesday blurs into Wednesday and those tiny moments of moments when I’m aware of the present, I just count down the hours until the weekend.

When all you look forward to is the weekends, time goes by especially fast. The weekends go by even faster and then before you know it, it’s Sunday night and it’s the start of another week.

That’s life isn’t it?


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A Perfect Monday Morning

I hate Mondays just as much as the next person. In fact, I dread Monday mornings so much that I spend Sunday night thinking about how much tomorrow is going to suck.

every single goddamn monday morning

The other days of the week aren’t much better. I’m just a a nightowl by nature. Even if I am exhausted, have nothing important to accomplish, you’ll still find me awake at 2am being sucked into the internets. It’s a habit I’ve developed since college (high school even) and it hasn’t changed since I started working. One of the only perk about working in advertising is being able to go into work late.

Today however, was the perfect Monday morning.

Last night around midnight, I decided to give meditation a try (thanks No More Dirty Looks). I set my alarm for 5 mins, sat comfortably on my bed and let my mind free (sort of). It’s difficult to not think about anything since I immediately start thinking about everything possible in rapid speed. Something I’ve been doing that has been effective so far is instead of concentrating on not thinking, I concentrate on just listening to all the white noises in my environment. Often it is just the vent or the wind, but sometimes I can hear my neighbors from upstairs practicing piano or stray traffic sounds. Once you focus and really listen to those sounds, you realize you don’t think about anything.

I made it through 3 mins of meditating before passing the eff out. Although the meditation was a fail, I was in bed and asleep by midnight. That NEVER happens. My body apparently loved the solid 8.5 hours of sleep though and I woke up NATURALLY 30 mins before my alarm clock feeling fresh and rested. On a Monday morning. I took my time getting ready, ate my breakfast at a leisurely pace and walked to work.

Walking to work today :)

one of the nice paths I walk on when I walk to work

The weather was a perfect 70F, I had my headphones on with “Out My Mind, Just In Time” by Erykah Badu and felt at ease. I accidentally took a different route to work and discovered the cutest park with a group of old people doing taichi. I stopped and examined some flowers. The sun felt warm and welcoming.

A most perfect Monday Morning.


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The Correlation Between Moods & Clothes

I think there is a positive correlation with mood and clothes. When you are in a happy, feel-like-a-million-dollars mode, you tend to dress like a rock star. The little details, like what earrings you should wear, whether or not your nail polish matches the color scheme all become things to scrutinize repeatedly, again and again, as if you were polishing up a powerpoint for that client meeting in an hour.

When you are in a bad mood or feel like shit, you become the honey badger; you just don’t give a shit. You tend to look like a train wreck when you step out the door and secretly hope that you don’t run into someone you know.

Often times, if you put in the extra effort to look good when you are in a pissy ass mood, the results can leave you pleasantly surprised. There is some sort of elf-magic in new clothes or that dress that fits you just right. At least, I like to think some happy elf worker made my H&M skirt with love instead of the tears of the child labor, which is probably a little bit more realistic. When you make that extra effort to look good, you tend to be handsomely reward by feeling less like a piece of dog poop on the sidewalk. When you look good, you just feel better about yourself. It’s kind of the logic behind sexy underwear day.

An example of my hypothesis:

Today was one of those unfortunate days where I decided not to make an effort on my outer appearance and instead, let the inner Eeyore take over. Somehow I decided it was ok to leave the house with black leggings, jeans skirt (with little beads), coral pink tank top, a grey sweater and GOLD flip-flops to work. I work at an advertising agency, so there aren’t any real dress code but I think today was me putting a toe over the line. The security guy at the front desk of my office building asked where I was going and whether or not I have scheduled an appointment. I had to awkwardly respond that I worked here and shuffle into the elevator as soon as possible to avoid the deathly silence that was creeping into the lobby.

Love me judgmental glares in the morning.

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You Can Never Have Too Much Auspiciousness!

This post is a continuation to my last post and dedicated to my friend Ivy, who literally laughed her ass off when I told her this story. How it will translate into words on a blog-post is unknown.

After checking auspicious dates with my favorite Yoda and moving into the new apartment with my 2 suitcases, I thought I put all the Chinese superstitious customs behind me. Oh, if only I were so lucky.

Getting a deliciously good sleep in my comfy big bed from IKEA (of course), I was all set to explore my new neighborhood and hopefully find a place to feed myself. Turns out, my new apartment is located in the most convenient place in the city, IMHO. There’s a supermarket across the street, a drugstore a block away, 7-11 one building over, Starbuck’s around the corner, a police station and hospital within a 2 min walk and a shit ton of restaurants and bakeries as far as the eye can see. I am uber excited since this environment is essentially the opposite of where I was living just 2 weeks ago. There was a lot of green, space and roosters (according to Dan) but not much else.

i love chickens...they seem to be a running theme this post

Just as I stepped out of the apartment, I was intercepted by Yoda again. The conversation went something like this:

“How’s the new apartment?”
“It’s excellent! I’m about to go find some lunch, do you have any recommendations?”
“Did you pray to the 地基主 (de gi chu) yet?” he asks
“Excuse me?”

Not again.

Yoda and co. went into long, lengthy lecture about who this mysterious “De Gi Chu” person is. Apparently he’s someone that I needed to know, so they poured me some tea and made motions for me to sit.

“De Gi Chu” or the Land Deity (my rough translation, don’t quote me) is a God that protects and blesses the home and the family members for safety and success. According to Yoda, there are many different gods in Taiwanese tradition. It seems similar to Greek Gods, where there are different levels and rankings of the gods, with Zeus being the King and then Apollo, Athena, Poseidon etc being very powerful gods and so on and so forth. It’s the same with Chinese Gods, where they have ranks and variations in power and strength! The land deity is considered a god with a lower rank. Besides protecting the family and home from harm, he also acts as a messenger (like Hermes?), bringing the news of how well behaved the family members are to the great gods. I guess he’s also like the elves that compile the naughty and nice lists for Santa.

They probably don't look anything like Buddy though

Many more religious Taiwanese families often have a figure of deities in their house. Since De Gi Chu is a smaller God, his figure would usually be placed in the back and prayed to at the end.

Yoda told me it was essential that I pray to De Gi Chu soon (preferably from 11am-1pm, since that’s the ideal auspicious time to pray to him). Well, I thought that was pretty straightforward. Nothing wrong with a little praying! I closed my eyes and was about to pray to De Gi Chu, asking him to protect me and bring me good fortune, only to be poked by one of the wise men.

“No! That’s not how you do it!” old wise men #1 exclaimed
“???! How do you do it then??” I retorted

i opened can of worms i didn't even know existed

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I bet you never checked your moving date for an auspicious day!

As I was leaving my new apartment two days ago after happily examining the final touches of what has been a long and stressful renovation process, I got stopped abruptly by the building manager. [1] He was about 60 years old, really short and mostly bald – he reminded me of Yoda.

“When are you moving in?” he asked
“Uh…I don’t know, whenever I find time (translate: when I’m not being a fucking bum)” I replied
He gave me an alarming look and immediately said “You have to move in before this month is over! July[2] is Ghost Month[3], you can’t move during that time!”
“…ok, well I’ll move in before July 31st! Still have a few days right?”
“NOO!! You can’t just move in whenever you want! You have to check if it is an auspicious day to move!” he retorted

Alright, having grown up mostly abroad and having the most chill (aka lazy) parents, it became clear that I missed the chapter on Chinese traditions and customs during my academic career. Actually, I’ll give myself more credit – I actually heard or know most Chinese traditions but I never actually followed all of them.

Taiwanese people are mostly very superstitious people. There are temples everywhere in the city, whether it is a magnificent standalone temple that takes up a whole block or just a small temple lodged between 2 buildings. Praying has never been more convenient and readily accessible. There’s a Chinese saying “寧可信其有 不可信其無” which roughly translate to “better to be safe (in believing) than sorry”. Whenever I start dismissing a tradition or custom (usually out of laziness), people always retort with that Chinese saying. If you think about it, it’s kind of true. However, when an old wise Chinese man that looks like yoda says it, you KNOW it’s true.

Anyways, he sat me down, took out his little lunar calendar and start rapidly flipping through the pages. Soon enough, a bunch of little old people appeared out of nowhere and things got real really fast; it was felt like I accidentally walked into a meeting between the Guardians of the Universe. Eventually Yoda found what he was looking for, pointed to July 28th as being the auspicious date to move. All the elders nodded their approval and I thought that was the end of it all and was about to excuse myself from the council until a walking stick blocked my path.

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