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It wasn’t raining the day we stopped talking. It was cloudy. Like today. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but I ensured the date with my impatience and over thinking tendencies. The underlying complications had been masked by playful interactions. When problems showed their tails, I ignored them. If I don’t acknowledge their existence, then they are not real. Right? I ran away from confrontation, confronting you in person, and things unfolded the way they did. We are not on the same page and we both are unwilling to compromise. So I wonder, if I felt lightly and gave you space, will we move on from this standstill?

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard.

Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.

Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.

Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Aldous Huxley, Island

Before you, I believed the hardest part of any relationship was the initial tension. I didn’t understand that starting a relationship opened the doors to all the incompatibilities and insecurities that were tucked away. I had to learn how to communicate and confront the differences, the expectations, the disagreements. Your lack of communication made me realized its importance. Thank you. Even though my first response to conflict, potential rejections and disappointments is running away, I’m working on them. Although I miss the one who believed if a couple professed their mutual attraction, they get a happily ever after. But this is all part of growing up. Isn’t it?

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Before archiving photos on Instagram was a thing, my feed consisted of everything I’ve ever posted on the app since that first photo of my Japanese notes back in April 15th, 2012. The app is basically my diary in photo format. The changes in the way I take photos can be easily seen scrolling through the 600+ pictures I’ve posted.

Thinking back, my interest in photography, specifically city-scapes and buildings, peaked during my stay in Chicago. I’ve also started this blog during that time. Being in a city with so many interesting high rises had a huge influence on my interest in man made structures. It was also during this time that I started this blog. Some of you might remember the series “week in pictures,” I created that as an outlet to share the overflowing amount of photos I was taking during that time period.

The devices I’ve used in the past five years upgraded from the Samsung S3 camera to the iPhone 6 and now to the Canon 80D. Camera technology these days has been involving at an amazing speed. The two lens camera on the iPhone 7 plus and the digital Polaroid are only a couple of the new technologies that are currently available. One of the coolest innovation I’ve seen is the mobile camera Light L16 which is a point and shoot camera with a DSLR like system inside. I don’t really understand technology used (you can read more here if interested), but the product looks like cell phone with many camera openings of different sizes.

In the time span of five years, the way I edit photos changed quite a lot but the content remained similar. I used to abuse all the filters on Instagram and exclusively use the app as both a photo sharing and photo editing platform. Throughout the years I’ve learned to enhance the photo rather than drastically change its tones, although I still do massively edit some photos to portray a certain vibe. I’ve read it somewhere that photography allows the photographer to share the way they view the world to everyone else. The subject of a photo is never as important as the way the photographer views it. While I continue to develop my style through experience, who knows what it will become five years from now.

With the recent events, the blurry divide within the country became clear as day. I may be called naive and an idealist, I can’t help but wonder if the world would be a nicer place if people are a bit more empathetic, a bit more open to those who are different. Technology is improving rapidly. We are no longer confined within the boundaries of physical world. Virtual reality is being employed by a variety of industries, from gaming to construction. For example, my company uses VR during safety training for big projects to help workers fully understand the dangers while working on the site. Verbally telling someone about the dangers of working on a steel beam a hundred feet off the ground is one thing, but letting them walk on said beam with no safety equipment through VR is another thing. Teachers always say, in order to fully understand a concept you’ve got to describe it using your own words. Having this personal experience of what might happen is an much more effective way to getting the safety protocols across than simply talk about them.

If people need to be in the situation to understand the concerns of others, I think virtual reality might be a perfect way to install some empathy in said group. For example, for those who don’t understand the concept of “mansplaining,” a virtual world can be set up where any individual’s actions are viewed in a patronized and condescending way. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have chances to become another person and view the world through their lens? Maybe it would help some people open their mind. Maybe it would help the world to become a better place.

 

P.S. Recently a friend pointed out to me that I have minor grammar errors in my posts. I am sorry if these errors bother you, please let me know if you find any and I will try to change them to the best of my ability!

June 21st was the official start of summer and it’s been more than a couple of weeks since then. It has been quite hectic for the past month. Now that I’ve pretty much settled into the new chapter of my life, I’m taking some time to look back and give you guys an update.

As my last post suggest, I have recently graduated from college. Less than 48 hours after I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, I was on an international flight to Lisbon, Portugal. This was my first time travelling to Europe and I was beyond excited. Although due to time constraints, I was only able to budget a little over two weeks on the continent with a focus on Italy (Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome) with a 19-hour layover at Lisbon and a couple days in Brussels, Belgium.

travel-map

Honestly this trip was reaching the definition of spontaneity. Putting it plainly, we had nothing planned after my friend and I booked the tickets to Brussels at 2AM on a Tuesday morning. We waited till a week before the flight to finish booking all of our Airbnbs (I strongly do not advise this, especially for Venice which became really expensive). We decided on the attractions as we explored. Planning as you go can definitely stress out some, but I really enjoyed having the possibility of the unknown. Just naming a few, we stumbled upon a handful of free galleries in Venice, a symphonic concert in Florence and a really cute postcard boutique in Brussels.

If I were to recount every memory I had of the trip, this post will go well beyond a proper length. Hopefully through the photos, you guys can experience vicariously for a brief moment.

 

There were so much history everywhere we went. With the pace we were traveling at and historical background we had,we really could not absorb everything the six cities had to offer. However, one regret I have is that we were not able to go see the Uffizi Gallery in Florence due to the line. The famous painting by Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus is housed there, and it’s one of my all time favorite paintings. I did end up getting a post card of the painting in Florence to make up for the missed opportunity.

Although it would be impossible to pick my favorite city of the without any preconceptions, Venice will have a special place in my heart. The city on water is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. Being obsessed with anything water related, whether it’s mermaids or Neptune or aquariums, I love them all. Not to mention, I basically have a college degree in water. Venice is just as beautiful as I thought it would be, surrounded by canals and roads paved by cobblestone. The only thing was I didn’t except the amount of tourist that would be there.

As for food, I had nothing but pasta in Italy with the exception of two meals. And of course, I took full advantage of the great wines in the region. Chianti will forever be my favorite red wine, not even the fancy Bordeaux wines in France can beat it. Since we are on the topic of food, one unexpected problem we faced was water. I’m not sure about you, but my friend and I really despise fizzy/sparkling water, especially after this trip. We has so much trouble distinguish between fizzy and still water, especially in the supermarkets. We even developed this shaking method, but it was not very reliant. We still accidentally purchased fizzy water multiple times. It was so tragic whenever we opened a new bottle of water and a gush of CO2 comes out. For those of you who don’t like fizzy water, you might want to keep this in mind.

There are still so many places in the world I hope to see one day. This trip was just the start of my Europe journey. Even though it is currently on hold, but it won’t be long before I go visit again. Till then. Ciao.

 

Hello there. Have you been well?

It’s been well over a year since we’ve parted. I think it’s time for me come to a closure, so I dedicate this post to you and for all the things I wish I told you.

Guardian of the Galaxy Volume 2 came out a couple of weeks ago and I watched it with some friends recently. It’s been three years since the first movie came out. The first movie we watched together, the one with Korean subtitle and comfy theater chairs. Sometimes I think back to how we came together, it could have been a movie. The sweet gestures, the turmoils, it seems just like yesterday when they happened.

When I think of you, I should be angry but instead I am sad. I’m sad about not telling you how much I appreciated you and how happy you made me. But modern dating frowns upon this, saying that showing too much, feeling too much, loving too much is a weakness. It gives the other person the upper hand and too much power over us. We always want to the have an upper hand in love.

One of my favorite Chinese songs has a line in it that perfectly describes my feelings.

遗憾是会呼吸的痛

流在血液中来回滚动

后悔不贴心会痛

恨不懂你会痛

想见不能见最痛

The oversimplified translation is that regret is a pain that’s alive. We always brood over what could have been, should have been. So I decided to stop hiding my heart. Sure, I might get hurt, but regret about the things I didn’t do is even worse.

Whenever I think about you I have to actively remind myself the fucked up things you did. Your shortcomings. The parts of you that showed our incompatibility. The aspects that you pointed out I should work on. My mom told me that relationships make people mature. They make us understand ourselves better and gain a bit of perspective of another individual. Even with their caveat, they are beautiful things.

Thank you for the many firsts, for being such a big part of my life at a point, for giving me so much happiness and excitement. But for now, it’s time to move on and I will stow you away in an box deep inside. My host father told me that you never really forget anything you learned, it’s just lost and you have to find it again. I will hold on to the bittersweet memories, and one day when I find the box again, I will smile.

With love,

J.

“What makes you happy?”
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Mine was nice people and food. A friend of mine asked me this on our drive back from spring break. Maybe because I have a crush on him, this question has been in my mind since then.

Advertisement, social media, popular crowds on campus, there always seem to be things telling you “if you have this you’ll be happy,” but what really makes you fulfilled and happy? What is happiness? Will buying that beautiful highlighter or that super cute dress really make me happy for more than a couple hours?

Having the question on my mind, I noticed so many things that made me smile. Running into a friend I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. Listening a new song by a current favorite artist. Talking to friends for hours about nothing and everything till 1 am. Appreciating all the talented people I’ve come to know, even if I haven’t actually talked to some of them. Having this blog as a space to express myself.

Happiness seems to be everywhere, but I can’t help but wonder is it really free? Or is it built upon the materialistic gains we have previously acquired? What is happiness? Is it a form of fulfillment, a connection, or is it a secondary emotion that comes together with a physical product? Just what makes you happy?

File Apr 02, 10 41 45 PM

Hey there. It’s me again. I am writing this instead of finish packing for my flight tomorrow morning. For the first time in all of my college career I am actually going somewhere other than home for spring break! I’m super excited to go somewhere warm and full of tropical fruits (mangoes and pineapples here I come), but before I go I thought I would update the third part of my winter Asia trip, Kyoto.

I spent about three days in total in Kyoto, arriving early afternoon and leaving late morning. Friends have told me about all the amazing places to visit beforehand. But being the lazy planner I am, I didn’t realize how far apart all the attractions were from each other. Thank goodness, I booked an Airbnb place near one of the most famous attractions, the Inari Shrine. However, everything else I wanted to see were scattered all over the city. Since Kyoto is much smaller than Tokyo, with more historical sights and a lot less people, the trains were not as convenient as the buses. After doing some quick research, I decided to purchase a daily bus pass for the two full days I was there.

Out of all the amazing places I saw, my favorite is still the Inari Shrine. Despite being the first place I went to, there was something magical and magnificent about the thousands of torri that climbed through the mountain. Running close behind, the Heian-jingu Shrine is my second favorite location in Kyoto. To be honest, I think it is mainly because I visited during 成人の日, which is the Coming of Age Day for those who turned 20 that year. Sadly I went a year too late, but I loved seeing all these girls dolled up in their furisode (the most elaborate kimono for an unmarried lady) and taking pictures all around the shrine. It made me feel like I’ve became part of the culture for brief moment. 

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Looking back through my photos as I was preparing for this post, I was honestly surprised by the number of sights I visited in 72 hours (considering I also went to an ryokan for a night). I was very ambitious and determined to see everything, but sadly there were a couple that I just couldn’t get the chance to. On the bright side, this means another Kyoto trip in the future! But for now, I will get back to packing for Cancun.

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