Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hangout and Blogging

Friends has the coffeehouse Central Perk.
How I Met Your Mother has the bar MacLaren's.

Why can't my life play out like a sitcom? The one thing I wish everyone in the world has is their own Central Perk or MacLaren's. Just a spot where you can sit with your friends and hang out. Nothing meaningful has to happen. You don't need to make plans for the day and follow that strict schedule. Just go to your designated hang out spot and follow the flow from there.

I sort of had a spot like that. It was a teahouse on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Small and simple. Just order a flavored tea and riceball. Sit there and just talk. It was convenient since it was right across the street from my church. Then they moved a few blocks down to a larger venue. Being lazy New Yorkers, the location became too much of a hassle to walk to.

That was the closest I've ever had to my own hang out spot. Maybe one day, I'll find it.

Don't you just hate it when you want to blog, but you have nothing to blog about? Happens to me all the time. Others rarely face that dilemma. Some people can blog to their heart's desire and still have more to write. It took me a while to think up a topic to blog about. And I didn't even come up with it. I just saw a How I Met Your Mother .gif and it reminded me how awesome it would be to have a hang out spot.

This Sunday has turned out to be a lazy Sunday night. Perhaps I'll clean out my room. It's been long overdue. My suitcase is still unpacked from winter break. My poster fell down and is not just lying idly on my bed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Followers and Retreat

Thanks to the people who have started following me this past week. Getting new followers is like being eight years old again and opening Christmas presents, which I no longer receive. It's especially exciting when the amount of followers nearly doubles. Doesn't say much if I only had 8 followers prior to the "surge" of new followers, but I'll take what I can get. So keep spreading this blog!

So I just came back from a retreat here in Syracuse. I was told when I was younger never to start a sentence with "so". I remember I was told that when my teacher circled that sentence on my book report on Charlotte's Web. Anyways, it was a blast despite it being cold and trekking to the dining hall wasn't the most joyous journey, especially at eight in the morning. I didn't get to meet a lot of new people like I did last year. But, I suppose that's what happens when you're no longer a freshman. I did get to know some people I already knew a bit better. I also got to spend one last time with my family group (even if not all of them were there) which meant so much more than I let on.

There was this one amazing moment that happened during the morning devotion. We separated from our retreat groups and allowed ourselves to have an hour to ourselves to pray and reflect. I don't know why, but I started wandering towards the lake. I saw this dock far into the distant. I tried walking towards it, but was stopped by a cluster of trees halfway. I figured I wasn't supposed to wander off this far so I turned back. I soon found myself standing by the shore/edge (no idea if shore only refers to the ocean) of the lake.

No idea why, but I suddenly remembered this story about an old lady in the World Trade Center during 9/11. On the morning of the terrorist attacks, she claimed to have heard God's voice which told her to quickly leave the building. She obeyed the voice and made haste out the building. After she was out of harm's way, the first plane hit the first WTC building. Wow!

I became so desperate to hear God's voice just once. I looked up into the sky and I just begged to hear His voice just once. I cleared out all my thoughts and just stood still. Now, let me tell you this. It was extremely calm weather. I felt nothing on my skin except the sun beating down on me and the cold winter air. Nothing more than that. All of a sudden, as soon as I cleared my thoughts, a gust of wind started blowing against me. Out of instincts or something like that, I quickly removed my hood. This is the amazing part. I'm not exaggerating. It felt like the wind began blowing into my ear.

At the point, I was so ecstatic that I didn't know what to do. I was overflowing with joy. I don't know why. I connected this to God's voice. I suddenly felt much calmer. To this point in time, I still have no idea if it was God's voice or not. I didn't hear any words. But, that feeling of calmness was definitely there. I felt like things were going to be alright. Maybe it was God telling me to relax and stop worrying about the little things in life.

I could go on much longer about my experience at winter retreat. It was truly a blessing.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jay Chou and School

And we can breathe a sigh of relief. Jay Chou wasn't terrible as Kato in The Green Hornet. In fact, I would say he was who saved this film from utter catastrophe. Surprised? I know I was.

Sure his English isn't top notch. But, that was to be expected. He covered it up with some clever lines during the movie and his total badass-ness. I would not have minded if the entire two hours I sat there for was watching Jay Chou beat a bunch of gangsters up in Kato-mode. Seth Rogen wasn't fun to watch at all in this film. He came off as pretentious, weak superhero who got bailed out by Kato and yet took all the credit. The villain left a lot to be desired. He had some nice moments, but was a disappointment in the end. I don't want to go into spoilers since I'm sure everyone is dying to watch this highly anticipated film (/sarcasm). It's a nice watch nonetheless.

I had to pay extra money to watch it in 3-D since that was my only option. If you can watch it in 2-D, save yourselves the extra money. The 3-D was nice and all, but not necessary. All you get for that extra $4 is a lot of stuff flying at you.

I'll give it a 6/10. Then again, I don't give high grades often to films.

Well, winter break is officially almost over. I head back up to Syracuse on Sunday morning. I'll be leaving the cold sidewalks of New York City for the colder campus of Syracuse. Break was fun while it lasted. Definitely much more fun than last year's winter break. Actually, I don't even remember how my winter break went last year. That unimportant.

Actually I do. But only one event. Last year my friend insisted that we play basketball in the gym at Queens College. My friends and I arrive to see the courts relatively empty and the girl's basketball team getting ready for practice on the other side. As my jeans are around my ankles (I wore my shorts under my jeans), someone from the other side of the gym yells at everyone to get out of the gym. C'mon, I just took my pants off.

That's it. That's all I remember from last year's winter break. There were plenty more fun moments this year that I'm sure to remember next year...hopefully. At first, I couldn't wait to go back to school. Now I'm dreading it. Most of my friends head back up to school the week after us. They have an extra week to play. How I envy them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Movie Stars and Artists

The unexpected feeling of shock and enthusiasm was welling up inside of me. I wanted to muster up the courage and say "Hi!", but I was choking up on my words and was left afraid that I was going to sound like a stuttering idiot. This doesn't happen often. Well, that feeling and seeing Ben Stiller up close. And when I say "up close", I mean like a foot away!

What was a normal day of chilling at a friend's house, watching The Social Network, and eating a McDonald's dinner (yeah, if you read my blog, I tend to eat at McDonald's a lot) at the mall turned into an exciting night to end it. We went to the mall because one of my friends didn't want to spend a lot of money at a nearby diner. So we decided to go to the food court. Upon entering the building, we noticed a bunch of lights and what seemed to be a movie set. Cool. The paper by the escalators explained that this was to be for a movie called "Untitled Heist Project" at the moment. We sat down at the closest table which was a table right next to the escalators. As we all got our food and was starting to settle down, the star himself descended down the escalator.

Ben Stiller. Gaylord Focker. Tugg Speedman. Larry Daley. Derek Zoolander.

I was starstruck. He was within reach to give me a high five if he wanted to. He did a side glance over at our table and I swear I maintained eye contact with him for a good two seconds. I felt like a giddy little girl giggling to myself. After we all pulled out our phones to update our Facebook statuses and Tweet the presence of Ben Stiller, we turned around and checked him out on the set. Surprise, surprise. Standing next to him was Eddie Murphy!

That's Eddie Murphy in the middle.

An aerial shot of Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy as we were leaving the mall. Will upload a better quality picture once my friend posts it on Facebook, ha!

You'd think that living in New York City would let you see all these celebrities. The closest I've ever been to another celebrity was seeing Shelley Duncan, ex-New York Yankee, on the 4 train after school one day. But he's no A-list celebrity.

Our table was in prime position to be in the movie. We were sitting by where all the extras in the scene were supposed to be involved. But right before they started filming, the director (I assume he was the director) told us to kindly move to another table outside of the shot. Darn it!

EDIT: Nevermind. That guy wasn't the director. The director is Brett Ratner and he was not Brett Ratner.

It was cool while it lasted. In other less exciting news, I am officially a VPA student. But it wasn't your typical admission. I won't post what happened on my blog. This will give you the incentive, hopefully, to ask me in person. It's nice talking to people and this is a good way to start conversations. Right?

I remember a time when I wanted to be an artist when I was younger. I saw a bunch of paintings for sale at a booth in Chinatown. I thought to myself, "I can do that!" I remember this painting I wanted to paint if I ever got good enough. It was an alien that looked like it ran into a glass wall. But, I've learned art is much more difficult than my 7 year old self can ever imagine.

It's been a long while since I felt this. Actually, I can't remember the last time I felt this. But, I've had this feeling that everything's going to be alright. I am beginning to align myself with God's plan for me. I'm gonna be alright.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Permit and Passion

Well, I can finally cross this off my "to-do" list after what seemed like an eternity of "I'll do it next week". I finally got my driver's learner permit. Well I don't actually have in my hands the actual permit. They said it'd be in the mail in two weeks (I'll be long gone by then).

I know everyone has been telling me that the test would be easy. But I didn't want to risk being the failure among my friends. Yeah, they were right. I breezed through it in like two minutes. Now to work on getting my licence and a car...not like I'll drive anyways with the subway system and buses right there for me to use. But I guess if worst comes to worst and the MTA raises the fare to $3, driving wouldn't be too bad.

I visited Jon Tam's church this past Sunday (I told him I'd go the week before, but the iPhone's alarm clock app sent thousands snoozing away on that Sunday morning). What a great day to visit. There was a guest speaker, Dr. John Piipo, and the words that came out of his mouth just woke me up from this dry spiritual routine I was getting myself into this break. My prayer life has declined, my Bible reading has become almost non-existent outside of Sundays, and I was feeling like I wasn't being the best Christian I could be.

Dr. John Piipo started off in quite the unusual fashion. He pulled out a conductor's baton and led us all in singing the chorus of Chris Tomlin's "How Great Is Our God". This went on for longer than I would have liked. But then he tied in his message with the little activity and I felt like I was being revived from the dead. The message was long (well, longer than what I had to hear at my home church) and I don't think I could go into detail about his message. Part of it is because I can't do it justice. I can't explain like he could.
The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Acts 10:15
Plus Dr. John Piipo plays the electric guitar and he's old. How cool is that?

So what's new? I got myself a new cap. A customized cap. My sister went into a enthusiastic frenzy when I showed it to her. It has my (and her) initials on the front (SH). On the back, it has our signature trademark name (which I insist that I came up with first): shuanged. It's also the username for my blog and pretty much everything I use now.

That's her hand by the way.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Swans, Fire, and Hunger

I can clearly see now why I've heard numerous things about this movie. Half of them in praise, half of them mutters from a disturbed mind. Plus, it was on my to-watch movie list. I had no idea what Black Swan was or anything related to the plot. I've heard of it from other people.

"Hey Stanley, have you watched Black Swan yet? No? It's psycho thriller stuff. I think you'll like it."

Psycho, indeed. Disturbing, yes. I applaud the direction the film was heading towards. A delusional sense of perfection that must be met. Creepy hallucinations that make Tyler Durden look sane. Several times during the movie, I was clenching my phone (that I took out to check a text) as tightly as possible in anticipation of what was going to pop out next. I let out a small scream when Nina hallucinated Beth in the reflection of her mirror. However, the movie became way too predictable. Once they explained the story of Swan Lake within the film, I knew what was going to happen. They did it quite nicely, though.

Overall, the movie was pretty good. But I don't know how to explain or put into words this feeling I have about this movie. It was good, but it wasn't quite satisfying enough. Maybe because when I watch or read anything psychological, I want to question the world, not one's perfection.

I just finished read The Girl Who Played With Fire. Long overdue. I just couldn't find it in myself to read in one heck of a noisy suite at school. Plus, it doesn't help that the first 200 pages are kind of boring. It's not until the plot picks up that you will forget what the meaning of sleep is. The plot was wildly engrossing. However, the ending did not tie up loose ends. By that I mean, it leaves you not knowing the outcome of the final conflict. We do find out who murdered who and why. This only means I have to go and buy the third book (which I plan on doing anyways). For anyone who has not read any of the book in this series, I highly recommend that you do. If you can get over the Swedish names, excessive sexual and violent situations then you will find yourself enjoying an amazing crime thriller series. You can't help but root for the heroine. She's unlike any female character that I have read about or watched. You can't help but want to be her friend if she was real.

Another book I just finished this past week is Hunger Games. An unexpected read for me. I mentioned that I would blog about this in my last post. Here it is. The book I didn't plan on reading or expected to read. My sister borrowed this book from her friend and recommended that I read it. I thought it was going to be about world hunger or something addressing hunger. Just the thought of it downed my interest. I can't read a book that doesn't fully capture my attention. The last book that did that to me was a book my ETS professor praised last year. Bel Canto. It's about a Japanese businessman or something who has his birthday party in Brazil taken over by terrorists. I was so downright bored half way through that I had to SparkNotes the rest of it. Anyways, back to Hunger Games. Imagine a dilapidated future for the United States (that's how I imagined it). The country is built around the Capitol (the center of the country where all the rich and powerful people are). It's surrounded by twelve districts (and an annihilated thirteenth). Now think of the Japanese movie Battle Royale. A male and a female from each district is picked each year to compete in the Hunger Games, an event held where each person picked battles each other for their lives. This is to remind the districts the power that the Capitol holds. A good read that overflows with a bit of cheesiness. Another book that features a strong female lead. I'm just waiting now for my sister to finish the second book so that I can read it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Highlights and Resolutions

No matter how I look at it, it was a pleasant end to the year 2010 (and I insist on saying twenty-ten not two-thousand-and-ten). I was typing up things I've learned in 2010 when I realized I was making the king of cheesy lists. Don't want that now do we? It started looking less like a list and more like my life story. I'll try a new list this time.

Highlights of 2010 include:
  • Getting hired at Burger King (then quitting it) and Toys R Us.
  • First semester as a small group (family group) leader.
  • Watching World of Dance: New York. Met (and probably creeped out) Poreotics! I'm like a little fangirl for them.
  • Going to my first ever dance class.
  • The start of this blog. And Tumblr too. I just checked. I made it in January.
  • Won my first giveaway.
Feels like there was more to my year highlights, but I guess if I can't remember them off the top of my head, I can't say they are truly highlights. I feel so young, but much older than I have in my life. Might be the lack of sleep in this month catching up to me.

But this was a good month as a whole to end this year.

Giving Josh his first taste of Malaysian food.

Getting some "siu long bao" or Shanghai soup dumplings with high school buddies at Joe's Shanghai.

Watching Syracuse win in the Pinstripe Bowl at James' place.

I suppose this when I start listing New Year's Resolutions. However, as the years go by, resolutions seem should I put it? Relevant? I don't know. I'm at a loss with my wording right now. My eyes feel like they've gained about 20 pounds in the past 5 minutes. I'm probably going to start a new book now that I've just finished Hunger Games (which I will dedicate a blog post about. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good read).

Back to resolutions. I was never good at keeping them. I just looked back on my high school blog and one of my first posts was a resolutions list. The only thing I managed to do was pass Calculus. I ended up getting a job which was also on the list, but a year later. Does that still count? There was 12 things on that list. I did 1 (kind of 2?). I've never made a list since.

I don't need to. If I see the need to improve myself, I'll do it then. I don't need a specific day to announce to myself how to improve my own well being. The only immediate thing I can say I want to accomplish in 2011 (well, more like as soon as possible but it is 2011) is get my permit then license. Long overdue. I've been nagged about it for the longest time now. I would have gotten it by now but the bus and subway system surround me and give me a convenient way to travel.