Daring to Disobey

I’ve been thinking a lot about The Rules lately.

Specifically the societal rules we surround ourselves with every day that go by unchallenged – sometimes for good reasons, othertimes not so much..

I guess this is a long winded, overly pedantic way of me trying to rationalise and explain why I feel so bad for dropping a class, when by all objective measures it would be the best course of action for me to take.

I don’t NEED to max out my course load and take 6 classes (18 credits) in one semester, in fact, I KNOW I would burn myself out a few weeks later when taking into consideration my commitment as a peer tutor (in both English and Science), my role as a student blogger, my non-credit German classes, my new role as an Equal Opportunity Student Ambassador, hall activities etc…

The list keeps building, yet there are only a finite number of hours in a day.

And as Malthus pointed out (paraphrasing to make an contrived metaphor):

As populations (workload) increase exponentially, while resources (time) grows linearly if at all, eventually you will reach competition and eventually, collapse.

Yet it feels a bit… wrong to do so.

Like I have just given up when this is pretty much exactly what add-drop period is made for.

I’m not sure where this feeling comes from really.

I could go with the classic “Asian Parent” excuse, but that is just that, an excuse not a reason.

I guess it is the fear of being left behind. 

Everyday, you are surrounded by messages of supposed encouragement:

  • “Push Yourself!”
  • “Don’t let dreams just be dreams”
  • “Shoot for the stars!”
  • “XYZ famous person made it while living in a college dorm at [so and so] famous university, why can’t you?”

It all creates an atmosphere of “Is that all you CAN do?”, when the more pertinent question is “SHOULD I do more?”.

And, although it sounds much less inspirational…

Sometimes the answer is NO.

Sometimes the correct solution isn’t to keep on going with reckless abandon til you crash, it is to slow down a bit, perfect what you have, then SLOWLY ramp up the speed.

Right now my gut is telling me slow the F- down.

So I am daring to disobey what society often expects of university students, and taking the time I would spend in an extra class + tutorial + homework to sharpen my skills as a whole.

To look for opportunities outside of the classroom such as volunteer work

And above all, to just prove to myself that I am in control of my own destiny and which path I decide to take is mine, and mine alone, to make.

Because sometimes it is okay to buck the trend and do your own thing.

In the words of Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken (emphasis mine):

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

And besides, great scores in 5 classes > okay scores in 6, GPA wise. 😛

Thanks for reading!

-Rebecca


This post was based off of the Daily post prompt: Disobey (September 12)

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Day 26 – Key Chain Janglin’ Quirks

I have a bit of a odd habit when it comes to my ring of keys that I carry.

Whenever I put them down, I jangle them in a specific way, in order to remember where I last had them. 

Which works…

Nah who am I kidding, most of the time I still manage to misplace them anyways. 😛

As my mom once joked: ” If your head wasn’t attatched to your head, you would some how manage to lose it as well!”


And sure, the easy solution to this is just to keep multiple copies of keys or whatever, but I have a certain fondness to my current set.

  • It has a plastic oval royal blue key fob with sky blue, white, yellow and light orange lettering that says : “My friend went to TASMANIA and all I got was this Lousy KEY RING!” on it, a gift from my younger brother to me after his school trip there.
  • There is the pin tumbler lock key, aka the house key, mainly light pink but covered in pastel flowers ranging from yellow, light blue and purple.
  • Then there is the sturdy utilitarian-steel, dimple key for the inner door.
  • And finally my tiny key for my locker back at uni.

I’ve used the same set for so long, that using my backup set (because I lose my keys enough to warrent a second set) feels a bit… off.

While it has the same keys (for obvious reasons, otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a spare set):

  • there are 2 key fobs: A rectangular white plastic I ❤ New York one and a Taiwan shaped wooden one with little cutouts of Taipei 101 and a Taiwan shape filled with colored beads.
  • The flower key is replaced by an aluminum on that is just red in color, so is much lighter.

I would include pictures, but if spending way too much time learning about lock picking (I really want to pick up the hobby some day, it sounds like a pretty interesting and useful skill to have) online has taught me anything, it’s that copying keys using a photograph of them is remarkably easy to do.

Perhaps in the future I’ll include it as an edit, when I figure out how to blur out the key’s cuts!


Bringing it back to the prompt…

Because of the differences in each member of my family’s key rings, you can always tell who is coming home based on how they jangle.

My mom’s keys are attached to an orange fob with a retractable line that she keeps clipped to her bag or purse.

Thus you always hear footsteps, a slight pause (with a very quite unzipping bag zipper sound), then the outer door key opening the door, a very quiet closing of the outer door (it’s metal so is pretty loud when I close it, but my mom can somehow do it so that all you hear is a faint click when the latch reengages.) Also, she always takes off her shoes and puts them in the wooden shoe cupboard before opening the inner door, so you will hear it open and close before the inner door key goes in.

My dad’s key ring… well he has a ton of keys and fobs (for work and the like) so his keys are particularly jangle-y.

Especially since he doesn’t have a set place for them, so you can always here the bag riffling sounds as he tries to locate them. He, like me also messes up the inner door key (both sides look the same at a quick glance, and like usb it seems impossible to get them in the right way around the first time) so you key the key go in, some jangling, it being taken out the placed back in after being flipped, some more jangling etc until the door unlocks. (my brother and mom are more observant and have figured out which side is which, so they rarely get tripped up with the key)

My brother’s set has a metal key fob (a gift from a friend of his with his name on it) and gets his keys out early before getting to the door.

So there are fewer pauses compared to mom or dad. The key jangling noise is also much more… metallic sounding and sound pretty different to the other sets. Also he does the thing where he opens and goes in the inner door first without closing the door, takes off his shoes then puts them in the shoe cupboard

As for my key janglin’ quirks?

Well, I’m not really sure since I don’t pay attention to them when I unlock doors, since I am usually going home tired or hot and just want to get in asap and lie down or turn on an aircon. I should ask sometime just out of curiosity. Then again how do you bring up a conversation like that: ” Wow! that sounds interesting. In other news, do I have any weird key janglling habits?”. For the most part, I guess I have some similar traits to my dad with the inner door trip up, and with my brother with the go in first, then take off shoes and put in cupboard order.


I would usually try to bring this post to some satisfying metaphor for life, maybe about how we notice more about others subconsciously and compare ourselves to others, rather than focus on our own flaws. But really? It is just a post about key janglin’ quirks, I’ll be impressed if anyone reads to this point :p

But people are still reading this… here is a question:

Do you have your own key jangling habits? Is it purposeful, such as to remember where you put them? Or is it a unique quirk you do without noticing?

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts!

And as always, see you later!

Rebecca


This post was based off of the Daily post prompt:

Jangle (July 8)

Day 21 – Scampering Around Trying to Sort My Life Out (A Filler Post & Rant)

Yesterday, I said I would be doing Snacks: part 2 today, but given the title, you can probably see where this is going.

Just as a heads up tomorrow will also be a filler one, since I am going to Ocean Park with some of my school friends, so won’t be back til late (and need to sleep earlier today), so if any of you are waiting for the snacks post, see you some time after day 23 (because I really need a few days of doing nothing and relaxing right now)!

On to the prompt! Which is…. * drum roll *

Scamper (July 2)!– (It showed up earlier than normal, so I can actually do today’s prompt, rather than yesterday’s one)


Scamper!

That word just about sums up what I’ve been doing for a while now.

Scampering from one project to another, one idea to the next.

Thought after thought fills my mind without pause, from the moment I wake up to the second my head hits the pillow. Even my dreams are sometimes filled with tense situations that ask – nay – demand my attention.

I’m being pulled 90 directions, trying to make the most out of “the best 4 years of my life”.

Trying to:

  • figure out how to apply for exchange
  • look for internships
  • decide my next semester’s classes
  • type up blog posts/Camp Nanowrimo
  • list textbooks on Carousell
  • catching up on books I need to read

On and on the to-do list grows…

But above all…

Trying to figure out what I want to do after I graduate university. 

It’s not a controlled run, where there is a goal in mind and a pace to be set.

It is a frantic grasping of straws, attempting everything at once and getting nowhere.

And I am EXAUHSTED.

Pure and simple.

Because I JUST DON’T KNOW!

I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know how or what I’ll get a job in (Ecology and History not really known for tons of jobs) and I don’t know what the future holds for me!

If I did, it would be simple.

Just complete the skill tree that leads to me following my career path (which at this point, is more a meandering stream). Unfortunately, it’s not.

The fear of the unknown causing is to dart off wildly in an unclear direction right now, and I hate it.

All that build up of my life til this point and this is what I end up as.

A tense, anxiety ridden mess, reacting to things rather than proactively planning a course of action

Though now I think about it…

I guess that is the feeling that a cockroach gets when I suddenly switch on a light!

So much change has happened, but no time to plan.

In that instant, just one action comes to mind…

SCAMPER!


Thanks for taking the time to read my semi-rant 😛

Rebecca

Day 20- Snacking on Dry Squid! My Favorite Things to Munch On

Since it is officially the 2/3 point of my Post a Day Challenge (as outlined HERE ), and the start of my Camp Nanowrimo journey today, I thought I’d write something a bit lighthearted and more straight forward, since I’ve done enough BS-ing for today.


Due to pretty international upbringing (Asian Parents, born and raised in Texas, moving over and currently living in HK) , I’ve got pretty different and diverse idea of what constitutes a snack in my mind.

In attempt to keep things organised , I will be splitting the snacks into two sections: Section 1 being the type of snacks buy straight of the shelf or make at home. Section 2 is more “Street snacks”, or special occasion type of food.

So here we go!

  • Dried Shredded Squid (魷魚絲) – Or literally translated “Squid Strands”. Yes I know, it sounds a bit odd (even revolting some would say), but think of it like the Asian beef jerky if it was a bazillion times better.
Squid
Image Source: Flickr

Don’t knock it til you try it! It’s not like calamari at all, more like a subtle sweet taste (like seafood crab/lobster/shrimp sweet, not watermelon/candy sweet) that turns to a strong salty with a hint of peppery taste (like jerky).

Also, there are really two types of strands in each bag: a fluffier, lighter colored type (think cotton candy texture if it didn’t dissolve in you mouth) and a stringier, tougher type (think somewhere between pulled pork and beef jerky in texture). Personally, I like the second type more but both are great! Try it out and you will see what I mean! (you can get it at pretty much any Asian major market State-side)

Chips
Image Source: Dania’s Delicacies
  • Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (+salsa & guac if I’m feelin’ fancy) – Texas roots showinghere! I really do prefer the Blue Corn type, but not sure if it’s due to nostalgia since mom would buy these instead of white/yellow corn since they are supposedly “healthier” (not sure if this is true though) or because I really can taste a difference even though they are supposed to be the same except for color (I feel like the Blue ones are… more substantial? like nuttier or something).

Or maybe it is just because I get a kick out of blue food due to Percy Jackson (10 bonus points to you if you got that reference)

Hold the cilantro/coriander on the salsa & guac though, I’m one of those “It-tastes-like-soap-what-the-heck-are-you-doing-putting-it-in-this-amazing-food” type of people (it isn’t so bad when cooked, like in Pho. But Raw? Why?!)

  • Guai Guai Corn Puffs (乖乖) – If you ask any kid in Taiwan or with a Taiwanese
    guai-guai.jpg
    Image source: Ibon Mart

    parent (like me!) about these, they will know. It’s like the unofficial snack of Taiwan. Why? Well it’s name directly translates to “Well-behaved, Well-behaved” and you usually get them when you do well in something (they usually have a spot where the parent writes the child’s name on it). I guess it is a bit like the Japanese with their Kitkat’s. Man the memories of wolfing these down…

They are pure amazing. Imagine a cheeto, if they removed the fake cheese dust, then made them sweet. Then, they added chocolate or coconut flavoring and that sweet condensed milk taste.  Basically, it is what astronaut ice cream should taste like, with all the amazing goodness there, but without the chalky aftertaste. A bit harder to find but well worth it if you do!

  • Fruit – This is a bit of a catch all, but a fresh bowl of fruit an awesome snack in all cases. Whether it is the more Western apple, pears, oranges and watermelon; the more Asian wax apples, persimmons, mulberries and lychees; or somewhere in between such as pineapples, mangoes, honeydews and cantaloupes, they are all great snacks. I’ve been mostly munching on blueberries and bananas in university (no washing and great with breakfast cereal or oatmeal)

 


This post has been inspired by the Daily Prompt from the Daily Post: Snack (30/6) (due to time zones it’s  the one from yesterday, see previous daily post prompts for explanation)


I’ve just realised it is 11:53pm here, so I need to post this soon or I won’t meet my Post a Day challenge requirement!

Guess this will become a two parter! See you tomorrow with more snacks!

Rebecca

Day 17 – Training Wheels OFF! Thoughts on Living in HK as a “Local”

Confession time.

I didn’t learn how to ride a bike without training wheels until I was 11.

Yup.  5th grade.

That revaluation isn’t too startling for my local Hong Kong friends, who live in an expansive concrete jungle with excellent public transport and everything else more or less in walking distance.

But I was living in the suburbs of Texas at the time, where public transport consisted of only the yellow school bus, and EVERYONE drove (or biked if they were too young to drive).

After all, how else are you supposed to get from point A to B. Spend hours walking? Fly? Teleport?

The idea that someone could make it to teenage hood without learning this vital skill of transportation was virtually unthinkable.

And yet there I was.

Why?

It wasn’t that I didn’t have the necessary tools (a few seconds with a wrench to take off those training wheels would suffice)

Nor was there a lack of teachers (any one of my friends could have taught me, if I had the courage to tell them I didn’t know that is)

No, it was something else more sinister. I convinced myself that it wasn’t such a big deal or even that I was better off without learning. After all:

  • I won’t like it… Who wants to spend all day in the hot sun instead of an AC-ed car?
  • It takes too long to learn and I have better things to do.
  • I’m too old to start do so anyways.
  • I’ll make a fool of myself failing to ride.

On and on the “reasons” could go, like the wheels of the bike in question.

Except they weren’t moving.

Because I wasn’t getting on that dang bike and learning.

Had I spent even a few second consciously thinking about it, those excuses would crumble away into dust. 

It took a “Ride your Bike to School” day and me not wanting to be the only one with training wheels to finally try to learn. And at the end? I wanted to kick myself for putting it off for so long.

In a round about way, that training-wheeled bike sums up my experience living in Hong Kong as an expat for almost 7 years now.

Why do I not consider myself (at least partially) a “local” Hong Konger?

Perhaps I feel the label is too strong, given I wasn’t born here. But considering that by the time I finish university, I will have lived here for a decade (almost as long as I’ve lived in Texas) it doesn’t really make sense.

And it still doesn’t explain away my actions.

  • I cling on to my “Local- Non Jupas” (i.e. international qualification) status, never just Local like some of my friends do.
  • I still default to English and Mandarin when speaking to others. My Cantonese, despite all my time living here, is pretty awful, just due to lack of use in my daily life.
  • I haven’t really joined any hall activities with the local students, really sticking with the international or Mainland hall mates. Well, I am in the social subcommittee, but that essentially is for the expats in the same situation I’m in.

I could try and redefine “local” to exclude me, but that feels like a cheap way out to avoid the question. Why don’t I at least act more local instead of clinging on to an expat label?

Its the same excuses as the bike. All over again.

I really should work on my Cantonese and connect more with people that have different backgrounds to me.

Yes, I will probably “speed out of control and crash into the bushes several times” (it would be odd-er if I didn’t at some point.)

But I still need to make more of an effort to step out of my comfort zone and just try being more local, rather than sticking to places that cater to English speakers.

Learning how to ride without training wheels gave me a type of freedom not found elsewhere. To speed along bike trails that don’t allow walkers (not the zombie kind, the normal people kind :P). To feel the wind whip past in my hair. To explore the world in a new way.

I wonder what exciting adventures living in Hong Kong as a local will bring me. Well no time like the present to find out! Its time to take those training wheels off and challenge myself to explore the city, not as an outsider, expat or “psudo-local” but as someone who can say in earnest: “I am a local Hong Konger”

See you tomorrow.

Rebecca

 


This post is the result of two Daily post prompts: <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/local/”>Local (26/6) </a> & <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/wheel/”>Wheel (27/7) </a>

(Because of time zones, I don’t see today’s “official daily post prompts” until the next day, so these will always be slightly behind time wise, like with the Blossom one on Day 7)

Day 7- Blossom: A rose by any other name

Originally I had planned to carry on from yesterday’s post with a post about the world of speed cubing but this prompt was so good I couldn’t pass it up (due to timezone it is technically the June 17 one but whatever). Indulge a novice blogger will you?

Daily Post Prompt Here


Blossom.

Such a simple word that evokes such differing thoughts depending on how it is interpreted by an outside observer.

As a floral emblem or symbol of location?

It reminds me of bluebonnets, Texas’s state flower, that dotted the Austin highways in numbers that seemed magical to the little eyes of a young girl and the LBJ wildflower center alongside the red Indian paintbrushes, pink-purple cone flowers and bright yellow sunflowers at a place lovingly nicknamed “ 我們家第二個後花園”(our home’s second back garden)

Or perhaps the Bauhinia orchid tree with its pink blossoms, the emblem of Hong Kong, where I moved to and currently live, that lovingly adorns the city’s flag and coins. Its the name of the hotel we first stayed at when we moved and one stood guard near the bus stop I got off at to go to school every morning in secondary.

Blossom 1
Image Source (Clockwise from left): 1, 2, 3, 4, 56

How about in creating nostalgia?

I remember my childhood home’s garden, with its the sweet smell of jasmine flowers planted near the trash can and recycle bin to mask any foul odors.

Or the tiger lillys, whose dried stalks made for excellent sword fighting material against my little brother ( they snap more easily then twigs or sticks so they ).

The dandilions that I used to mess with on my walk home from elementary school with my brother (before our mother scolded us for it, since it meant more weeding work in the hot sun for someone).

The tiny orchid that my mom gave me for my birthday when we first moved to Hong Kong (which I accidentally killed, because unlike my mom, I do not have a green thumb at all)

Blossom 2
Image source (Anti-clockwise from top): 12, 34

What about as metaphor for historic moments of protest?

More recently, with the yellow umbrella’s blossoming in the face of adversary as thousands of people (including myself) gathered on the streets of Hong Kong during the 2014 Umbrella Revolution/ Occupy Central with Love and Peace (sounds better in Chinese: 和平佔中) to call for true universal suffrage and protest Beijing’s influence in Hong Kong elections

And in the past, with Mao’s Hundred Flowers Campagin which called for a hundred flowers to blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend. (You know, right before he cracked down on anyone who was outspoken against the regieme with the Anti-rightist Campaign)

How about blossom in the purest form the biological and botanical?

With the study of different phylums of plants, and how even though flowering plants may all fall under Angiosperms, they are still incredibly diverse with over several hundred thousand species of monocots, eudicots, basal plants etc, with many not just being important for their looks, but for their medicinal, ecological, economic, nutritional etc uses as well

Blossom 3
Image source (Anticlockwise starting from top left):123

So..

What’s in a name?

Does it matter if we call a blossom 茉莉花, Jasminum officinale or its by common name, Jasmine? 蘭花, Orchidaceae or Orchids?

No.

We are the ones who give the blossom’s their meaning, not an arbitrary number of character strokes or squiggles placed in a specific order. A flower holds in itself a certain beuty that we ourselves associate with a story, a message, a tale.

Why?

Because “that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene II [1]


And with that final quote from Shakespeare, I leave you dear readers – all 9 of you guys at time of writing

(thanks by the way, really appreciate it, though not really sure why you are following a blog that has neither rhyme nor reason to the content it posts).

Until tomorrow!

Rebecca