Give to Receive

Random thought:

Life is really just the same lessons recycled. Certainly, there are many instances in which I learn something new–I mean there is a lot to know and I know very little–but more often I feel like the very big lessons that stick are ones that I’m rehashing from previous experiences or my younger days.

One such lesson is the idea of giving to others. It’s a challenge to put other people first and above yourself, especially when your natural inclination is to think about your needs and wants. But I realize I’m the most satisfied and content when I am focusing on the people around me and seeing how I can make their day better with whatever I have to offer through my talents, personality, money, or time. As I’ve said, it’s not really a new concept, but it’s something I need to remind myself of constantly.

My friend JB once said, “You don’t become better to get better, you become better to give better.” It sounds so simple, but there is a bucket of profound truth in that statement. I want to excel in life so I can help others do the same.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these but there are a few things that have amused me recently.

1. My sister came back for the weekend (more for business, but we were a bonus) and we got together for a nice family dinner out in LA. It’s her favorite spot, Bottega Louie. It was some fine and surprisingly light/refreshing Italian food. We also got this creme brule cake-thing to celebrate my sister’s 23rd (whoops!) birthday and my dad’s early retirement. Beware, it is a little pricey–that thing was $25! But if you are willing to fork over some dough, you should keep this place in mind for future dates and other momentous occasions.

2. Went to help my friend Kelly build an IKEA dresser earlier tonight. I haven’t seen him much since his semester started, but it was good just to reconnect with him and see how he’s been doing recently. I like IKEA because I can build objects and feel like a man without the hassle of easy-to-misunderstand instructions.

3. Met a cute waitress at Coconut Bay. She’s the innocent-looking type, not a lot of make up on. Just as equally important, she’s sweet and nice. It’s not really a big deal, but it was like finding a nugget in a place I wasn’t expecting. I hope she gets good customers and better tips.

Find some things that you can be thankful for this week!

Waking Up To Dreams

I had a good night’s sleep last night. In fact, it was the best I’ve had all week since I was so tired. You know it’s good when you have a lot of weird dreams. The dream that stood out the most, the one I guess I can really recall at this point, is the one in which I’m staying up at some old grandma’s house. I’m talking to her and a bunch of her old “girlfriends” about raising kids and how to run a family. What the…?

Man, you know you’re getting old when even in your dreams you are talking to old people about adult subjects.

Speaking of dreams, if you haven’t seen it yet, please go watch Inception. I don’t want to hype it up too much, but I can easily say that it is the best movie I’ve seen this year–hands down.

Random Amusings 4

Wow…it’s been such a while since I’ve done one of these, cause things have seriously been running off the wall with craziness! But I’m just trying to enjoy each day at a time–don’t let life go by so fast that you don’t at least get to just stop and think. Consider all the things that are coming before you and analyze your life and where you’re headed. Perhaps you’ll realize all the good things that you have and that maybe life ain’t too bad after all.

So, much has obviously happened in two weeks time. Normally, and naturally, I choose to share with you the big events and highlights. But recently, I’ve been finding the beauty in the little subtle moments. The big things should obviously be noted, but the little things we seem to dismiss throughout our days without much thought. Don’t discount the little things! Because when you actually stop and think about those subtle stirrings, you will discover that they are the soft murmurs of life that make life interesting.

Or just flat out weird. Take for instance…

1. Trying to Go Green (In Spite of Brown) – I am a big fan of our environment and green does happen to be my favorite color. I do my best to recycle, and it sounds dorky, but I always take the extra napkins I don’t use at restaurants and store them in the car (I mean, I save trees and I don’t have to buy any Kleenex, what’s wrong with that?). But I am finding it extremely difficult to apply Sheryl Crow’s “One Toilet Paper Square” law when I’m taking at least 4 or 5 dumps a day. Even if I used one square, you multiply that times five and I’m sure I killed as many trees as Mr. Average Joe who takes a massive dump every two days.

So my actual concern, and that which I address to you, my dear reader, is: “Is it healthy and/or even safe to be taking so many Number 2’s?” Factoring in my body weight and frame, I’m starting to think I have a tapeworm in my stomach or something…

2. TRIPLES! Tennis – I took tennis lessons once when I was a kid and I have been playing tennis on and off in the latter half of my life. I have been picking it up again recently with a few friends from home and it’s been fun on those sunny yet cool summer nights. Yet it is amazing how the game can still develop as you get older. And I’m not just talking about more skill shots or better body movements… I’m talking about triples tennis! Yes, TRIPLES: three people on each side of the net.

Okay, so here’s how it happened. We had a group of six and we were spread out well on the two available courts for us at this park in Chino Hills (one doubles court and one singles). But as our good friend CC was rallying with our other friend Arthur, he felt bad for a pair of teens who were waiting for a court on the side. Being the sympathetic man that he is, our good friend CC offered up the court and decided to join us on ours–when we already had four players! Might the court be just a little too crowded, you ask? Hmmmm…..

A few minutes into the game, our good friend CC swings and smacks a ball right into the face (!) of our first time player Kellie. Well done, CC! And this is what happens when you are playing Triples tennis (or act generously/kindly). For those of you reading, try it sometime! You are definitely missing out on some good face-smacking times.

3. F. Scott Fitzgerald – Like some of you, I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in theaters, but had never come across the written short story until today. I decided to spend some time reading as I was heading back home on the train. (Free time not having to worry about traffic and crazy drivers affords you that luxury.) When I came across a clever line, I chuckled. I don’t remember a time I actually (and unintentionally) flat-out laughed out loud when I was reading. I quickly looked around me, of course, to see if anybody was giving me weird glances. After I regathered myself, I just smiled.

Why is he such an amazing writer? When I read his stuff, I am totally captivated by his every word. As the classy and clever Dos Equis commercial says: “I hang on his every word–even the prepositions.” The man is a pure genius when it comes to capturing emotions, displaying subtle wit, painting vivid pictures with language and simply telling stories. I have yet to read Tender Is The Night, but I can safely say that from what I’ve seen thus far, Mr. Fitzgerald is surely one of the best writers of our time.

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I love to hear from you guys, so please keep any and all comments coming. Even feel free to ask me questions about whatever “amusings” that stir in your mind, and I’ll do my best to address them. Once again, thanks for reading and enjoy the day you’ve been given!

Random Amusings 3

Take that to the bank.

Take that to the (piggy) bank.

1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – As plans for Game Night Part Deux failed miserably, I decided to go watch this movie on Saturday. Alone. For some reason, I was quite excited. It was going to be the first movie I had ever seen in a theater by myself. (That is, until a girl came in the picture last minute. But hey, I ain’t complaining.) I would hesitate to say that it was a great movie, but it definitely belonged in the category of “solid, feel good movies” overall. I still say Slumdog Millionaire is the best picture of the year, though BB will probably capture a few golden statues anyway. Pitt and Blanchett turned in some stellar performances and some scenes could not be more beautifully shot. It’s not a movie that left me saying “Wow” like SM did but it grew on me the more I digested it. I could not help but compare the movie and some of its elements to Forrest Gump–which happened to be written by the same guy, Eric Roth, by the way–but they are subtle enough that one may not notice. Overall, it is a movie that tells an interesting story and shares a beautiful message about life. If you can fork over $11 at a theater, watch it now. If you’d like a date, add another $11 (and the rest of your wallet, for that matter. Just kidding. Kinda). If not, wait for it to come out on DVD.

*Update: my good friend Chris says it is not socially acceptable to be watching movies by yourself in the theater until at least your mid-30s. Well, Mr. Cho, I will just have to be unacceptable then, won’t I? Haha.

2. Chinese New Year – We celebrated last night and had a relatively subdued night of festivities, especially since it was just my family and another family friend. But the Mamas still rocked the kitchen: we had about 9 or 10 dishes, I couldn’t keep track. All I know was that I had a hard time breathing at the end of it all; I was the only man sitting at the table, almost two hours after we had begun, finishing all the leftover scraps of crab that I could scour. But my tongue was satisfied. Also, interestingly enough, this was the first time that I ever received a Red Envelope from somebody who wasn’t Chinese! My Black co-worker friend came up to the Studio (my new workplace) to hand me a “Bank of America” Red Envelope; inside was a bill with “Jefferson” on it. (Can’t remember what amount? $2!) That was pretty awesome. So…what do I do for her when Kwanzaa rolls around?

It is now officially the year of the Ox! After a tough 2008, will it be the year of the Yan? That remains to be seen. I guess we might just have to wait and see…

3. Story Ideas?? – Alas, my screenplay Touchdown Jesus did not make it onto the next round of the 2008 Kairos Screenplay Contest. I’m sure there were several top entries and that I was running up against some very high competition. And it was really only my first attempt at a full-length feature screenplay. Nevertheless, I am still very proud of it. It took a good two and a half months to complete, and it was like nursing a babe for almost a good trimester at that. (Ladies, with three times the nursing period and innumerable times of pain, I don’t know how you do it, but definitely much respect.)

Now, I’m on to new projects. I got a project proposal coming up in February, and then possibly a collaborative effort with a friend in the summer. In the meantime, I’m turning my focus more towards poetry and short stories. I’m possibly aiming for the Writer’s Digest Contest this May. Anybody have any fascinating stories or ideas they would like to contribute?

4. Crossfit Work-outs – To all my fellow skinny brothas out there, this is a work-out that you must simply try out! JB and MJ got me started on this thing, and though I haven’t been following it nearly as religiously as they have, it has helped me get into shape and increased my overall power and practical strength. JB preaches this thing more than anybody else, and after seeing his results and using it myself, I can see why. (I can now lift a box of feathers!) The exercises target every part of your body, and each day’s exercise consists of a different activity. It focuses on natural movements of your hands, arms, legs, and feet–the way it should be–and it is absolutely KILLER if you follow their entire schedule (you’ll be doing a lot of pull-ups, dips, burpees, and thrusters…). Best of all, it’s all FREE and it teaches you how to do a certain exercise if you’re not familiar. Visit http://www.crossfit.com if you are serious about being healthy and feeling good.

5. Super Bowl XLIII – (I’ll give you props if you could tell me what number that is…haha.) This is the first year, at least in a long time, that I will not be hosting a Super Bowl party at my house. My HD antenna at home is just simply unreliable. That is quite the shame, considering the huge TV that sits in the middle of my parents’ living room. (I had to hold up the antenna a few times when friends were over for previous games, just so the signal didn’t move in and out…did I pay $20 for that thing so I can be the antenna?) Let me know if there is a party out there, because this is one thing I don’t want to be watching by myself. Holler at the China-man!

Random Amusings 2

Come see my stink face in person!

Come see my stink face in person!

Once you start a routine that requires a good chunk of your weekday, you learn to appreciate and live for the weekends. This weekend is a telling example. Random things I am thankful for, in no particular order:

1. Beautiful films – I just came back from catching Slumdog Millionaire in the theaters. It was an indie flick that really blew up from the acclaim it garnered through word of mouth. I went into the movie with high expectations from all the hype and…Wow. Seldom have I walked out of a theater speechless. This was one of those times. I don’t want to hype it up for you too much, but just do yourself a favor and go watch it. Worth every single penny of the 11 bucks that I spent!

2. Pop’s silly gym antics – Funny story told by my mother from the one day my dad accompanied her to our local LA Fitness. I took the liberty of translating her account into English: “So, we went into our respective locker rooms and I told him I’d meet him by the swimming pool after we’re done changing. So, there I was, waiting for him for like 10 minutes. He didn’t show up! I was wondering what was taking him so long, and I got fed up so I just decided to start swimming on my own. After a few minutes, he finally comes in, all flustered. He said, ‘I got changed, but I didn’t know where the swimming pool was. I thought the entrance was from the outside, so I went back out to the weight area. Half-naked. Everyone was staring at me. Then a wide-eyed staff member then came up to me and said, “Sir, you’re going to have to put your shirt back on to be in this area.” My mom told me that story over dimsum and my sister and I laughed so hard. Just imagine an unassuming old man with a big beer belly walking around the open, co-ed exercise forum. LOL! If I were a girl on the treadmill and I saw that, I would sue LA Fitness for mental trauma. Man, I’m still laughing as I think about it haha.

3. Hanging out with the DB Jokers – Man, every time I hang out with these clowns I have a blast. We eat up a storm, get trailed by CHP officers, crack jokes about our pathetic love lives, and fart around (literally). And uh…wait, I enjoy this?

4. Hanging out with CY – I am cool. Like really cool. Not on my own merits of course, but by association. When I meet people, I gain a friend. When I tell them I have a younger sister, I gain 5 more. That’s how cool she is. This is the same Cat Yan who is a honors double major in Psychology and Communications at UCLA, is a part-time fashion/magazine editor, shares half my friends (maybe I’m just a pawn?), and goes out to things like “Kanye’s CD Listening Party” and brushes shoulders with Will.I.Am and Jay-Z. Earlier today, we watched Slumdog and went Christmas shopping together. Now I remember what it’s like to wait on girls again. Haha. Well, we all know who wears the “cool” genes in the family. Big ups to you, CY!

5. “The First Christmas” – I’m thankful for Jesus Christ and our awesome church. I seriously can’t say enough about just the genuine presence of God felt in that humble and sincere body of believers. And this year, I get to be a part of an all-church Christmas pageant/stageplay that we are putting on! I get to play the tough macho role of Gabriel the angel (at least I’m not Mary). Come check it out this upcoming Sunday night! Ask me for details.

Alas, the weekend flew by in a jiff but I enjoyed every minute of it. This upcoming week (and weekend) will find me quite busy but hopefully well-rested, well-fed and at peace. Till my next post, friends!

Random Amusings

Just some whimsical amusing developments/things I wanted to share:

hotpot

1. Puttin’ the HOT in pot. I had hotpot (or “shabu shabu”) with my family for dinner tonight. It is perfect for the cold winter season. Now, generally speaking, hotpot in and of itself is good. But my mom took it upon her baaad self to throw in some extra dashings of LOBSTER and LAMB. Rarely have I left a table speechless because of the greatness of the food…tonight was one of those nights.

settlers

2. SETTLERS FEVER! I recently discovered and played (and not too long after, purchased) a board game called “Settlers of Catan” at my Pastor’s house. Granted, I haven’t played many board games and I’m not normally a board-game kinda guy (i.e., nerd), but this game could quite possibly be one of the most entertaining board games I have ever played. (It is supposedly the best selling international game, too.) I ordered the original (for 3-4 players) and the expansion pack (for 6 players) on Amazon for a total of about $50, and the company accidentally sent me an extra original. Unfortunately for you, I gifted it to my friend JB for his birthday. Fortunately for you, I will hold consistent game nights at my pad…starting with this Friday.

whatisthewhat

3. WHAT is the WHAT I received this book as a birthday gift from a friend in New York and I started it a few days after. I’m halfway through the book and it’s pretty spellbinding. Very reminiscent of “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah and is a story that tells of one boy/man’s journey through the tragedies and aftermath of civil strife in Sudan. But more than just educating one about war in Sudan, this book speaks out to the soul about life and struggle as much as it does to the mind. Dave Eggers as a writer is captivating; the only accurate description I can find for him is, he is a painter of words and a capturer of emotion.

4. These past few weeks I’ve been feeling rather pensive. I feel like “the world is too much with us” and a little bit of what Kevin Spacey (Lester) says in American Beauty, like I’m about ready to burst with all this emotion that’s flowing in and through me. It’s like my heads always up in the clouds somewhere. I think I might suffer from delusions of grandeur–I want to write the next great American novel, end world hunger, find me a gorgeous girl, and be on the cover of GQ–all at the same time.

But I’ve been reminded just to slow down, take a deep breath, and let it all out. I’m always eager to get on with the next stage. But let me not miss the forest for the trees. “The time will come,” I tell myself. So just sit back and relax.

And thus my random amusings…because life’s just a bunch of little moments rolled into one big catalog. Enjoy today, my friends.