Beauty as subjectively defined, society, and media

/ Saturday, November 18, 2017 /
Lately I've heard a ton of comments from people and also have read a bunch of stuff involving the topic of physical beauty. These comments range from issues surrounding underlying self-esteem to hatred and even malice.

Here are some examples:

  • "I'm 24 and still a virgin. No guy will ever want to (do) me."
  • "I hate the engagement photos and wedding photos that people post in their profile pictures. Every day they remind me of how single and lonely I am."
  • "I'm so ugly. I was bullied in high school and lost 30 pounds. Now guys want me, not for who I am but for my body. When can I find a decent guy?"
  • "Why do people post Facebook statuses about how wonderful their significant others are? Are they out just to laugh at me?"
  • "The girls who talk about "27 and still single" are just too messed up to get anyone."
  • "Someone recently confided in me that she got raped. At least she was attractive enough that someone wanted to rape her."
  • "I'm too fat. Nobody wants me."
  • "Why can't I get a guy?"
  • "No one likes the nice guys."
  • "Nice guys always finish last."
  • "I'm single, unemployed, and living in my childhood bedroom. I'm a loser."
  Whatever people and society think about these comments, these words still reflect underlying issues - doubt, uncertainty, regret, lack of self-esteem and self-worth, even jealousy and hatred. Despite these facts, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

  • Life is what life is, but you control how you're portrayed.  Whatever your beliefs are - atheism, God, Buddha, Allah, Sikh, animistic beliefs, etc - uniqueness was endowed onto your body and your mind. Despite how cliched this sounds, your soul, your mind, and your spirit are things that you control. The looks you were born with will remain, but it's the way that you react and portray to them that define who you are. Think about it - the girl who is beautiful but hides her face in fear will never be noticed by people, but the girl who stands tall and proud will be noticed because her face will be visible to the world.
  • Plastic surgery can come along, but it also comes with other, "unhideable" results. Anyone who has had surgery will tell you that the recovery process is extremely, extremely painful. And the thing is that physical beauty is temporary. Eventually, the human body, due to telomere shortening in DNA will overcome telomerase, and starts degenerating. Wrinkles will set in, no matter how many botox injections you get and how many nose jobs, tummy tucks, etc you get. Think about it this way - suppose you are very successful and are able to get botox injections to paralyze your facial muscles every week. Your muscles will still limit your facial expressions, and even if your face may look younger, the other parts of your body - mottled skin on your hands, your weak knees and presbyopic eyes will give your true age away.
  •  Rape is a horrible tragedy and crime. Contrary to popular belief, rape isn't about sexual desire or arousal. It is, more than anything, about control, power, and stems from anger. Think about the 70-year old woman who was rapedBoko haramNanjing. The women in these tragedies have numerous differences in factors of age, attractiveness, body types, etc. What do they have in common though? They were all in situations where perpetrators were assuming control of situations. Conflicts involving anger and violence. Rape isn't a beautiful thing; it's a sad consequence of choices and situation resulting in violence and rage.
  • Engagement, marriage, and having children are beautiful passages of life and are celebrated. When one becomes jealous of people displaying their lives publicly, imagine what they are thinking on the other side of the situation.  I'm so happy XY proposed after 9 years of dating. I'm finally getting security after years of uncertainty. I can finally take my OkCupid account down for good. My parents will finally stop nagging me about having grandchildren. I'll be able to give my daughter the brooch my mom gave to me. Aren't these beautiful thoughts? There's bad enough news on years of conflictproblems in governmentsensationalized trials and internet pirating, among numerous other subjects. Isn't good news something to celebrate?  
  •  Life is what you make of it. Yes, this is a cliche, but these words reveal a great deal of truth. Everyone is born with weaknesses and vices, but it's how they deal with them that defines who they are and what they make of themselves. Think of Lizzie Velasquez, one of the world's thinnest people who was born with a condition that could not allow her to have any body fat. She was scorned and ridiculed at school, to the point where someone posted a YouTube video naming her the "ugliest girl alive". Yet she didn't let that stop her. She focused on the positive parts of herself - the fact that she only had to buy half the contact lenses that most people buy because she could only see through one eye, the fact that she has beautiful, ravishing hair, the fact that she graduated from college. As Condoleezza Rice once said, ""You can't change your circumstances, but you can change your response to them." Lizzie did exactly that, and because of it, people see her inner beauty and strength, and admire her for her bravery and courage all at the same time.
Bottom line - everyone has their share of insecurities, faults and weaknesses. But it is our actions, our thoughts, and beliefs that ultimately dictate what we are and how the world perceives of us. A wise friend of mine once told me that when you show your true self, and when you proudly present yourself the way you really are, when you are happy for others and accept your own life, others will see that, and truly respect and admire you.

I encourage everyone to go out there and proudly show your true selves. I wish you the best in your lives and endeavors.

Thoughts on relationships

/ Thursday, November 9, 2017 /
Ahh... relationships, relationships, relationships. The subject of much gossip, the lore of rom-com movies and sitcoms, the giggly-girly feelings and awkwardness that young girls and boys feel, all the way to the more practical aspects of arranged marriages, tradition, courtship and beyond.

Growing up, like many other little girls, I was caught up with the idealistic romanced version of love. Of a handsome prince sweeping me off my feet and into a castle (well, Kate Middleton did that, but it took a lot of work). Some tumultuous relationship with ups and downs like Carrie Bradshaw. Heaps of exciting dates, amazing adventures, cuddling by the fireplace, etc. Feisty drama and parental concerns.

What did I get in reality?

A mix of some but other surprises.


/ Tuesday, October 31, 2017 /

Often times people ask about the purpose of life. Of course. We're living it. It's one of the biggest things that people contemplate over - the philosophical meanings and abstract livelihoods of our pithy existence on this planet.

I've been thinking about this topic pretty much since childhood. I remember one day in the 4th grade when I drew a huge circle in the dirt during recess. I wanted to sit in the middle of it and think about the sun above my eyes - why we were here, what was the purpose of the time we were given to play about under the sun. Was I going to be given free time forever? Was I always going to be stuck in my short body as a fourth grader? How on earth was I going to move through to middle school? (I couldn't even fathom the idea of life beyond grade 6.)

Well of course, time passed and I started middle school. Before I knew it, somehow I landed myself in college and afterward medical school.

Today, I still think about this question. What is my purpose in life? What is my worth? The Church teaches us that we do things for God's glory and that He has a plan for every one of us. I think that's a valid conclusion. We shape our own lives through actions with guidance. The mentorship that guides us is omnipresent. Whether it's in the form of upper levels, professors, counselors, role models, divine intervention, parents, siblings, friends or anyone else, we seek to understand life through others' experiences and relate them to our own. We attempt to either emulate (or learn not to emulate) others through their actions and speech.

I've definitely grown during college and medical school in this regard. During my still novice experiences in medical school, I've learned more about the doctor-patient interaction, the value of teamwork in order to accomplish goals, and more so, a bit more about my own purpose in life. Our lives are shaped every day by our interactions with others, who we hang out with, and ultimately, the way we think and act.

There's several other role models I've recently added to the list. Recently, two of our professors passed away from pancreatic cancer. It was quite devastating for all of us (students, professors, friends and colleagues alike), especially considering that they had influenced us, taught us, and guided us so much throughout our medical education. Another esteemed professor who has been battling pancreatic cancer recently celebrated his 5-year remission. I'm going to go to a party to celebrate his milestone in a few weeks. Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease. I've lost a loved one to it. I'm just glad that these people are at peace, and that one professor - one person - one more person - has been able to overcome it.

I went to the ER!

/ Tuesday, October 24, 2017 /
Recently, I went to the emergency room.

It was the first time in years.

Basically, I injured my elbow and had pretty bad pain for about 10 hours. I figured it was high time to see what was going on.

And stupidly, because I decided to go to the ER too late, I ended up going around midnight.

The ER is an awesome place if you have a dire emergency. Whether it's having a heart attack, feeling the symptoms of an oncoming stroke, getting the severe gnawing feelings associated with appendicitis, etc, this is the place to go to in order to get care that is both high-quality and ASAP.

At the same time, sometimes it's not the best place to go. Minor issues such as a cold or a low fever may be better addressed the next day at a clinic or at urgent care. Sometimes the wait times are long, especially while life-threatening issues such as a possible stroke or myocardial infarction are being addressed first... and thus, it delays care for less urgent issues.

Working for months in the ER has made me realize something very vital: the emergency room is where you go for emergencies. I've seen horrifying cases of physical abuse, tended the wounds of patients bitten by rabid animals, witnessed patients who died after every life-saving measure had been taken, as well as victims of severe burn wounds, shot wounds, and everything in between.

I cry for these patients.

The reason why I went to the emergency room wasn't due to these dire issues. My case wasn't life-threatening. Maybe it was the pain that got to me? Or was it the fact that it lingered for so long? Any case, I should've gone to urgent care or next-day clinic, but none of these were open at the time due to my stupid decision to wait till the pain got worse.

Alas, perhaps a broken bone could've waited. But the husband thought differently, and probably, many, many family members also in his shoes would also be worried.

So I went, at midnight, got an x-ray, an ice pack, and instructions for care.

Even though the ER I went to was empty, I could've used my time more wisely by putting an ice pack on my arm and just going to the next-day clinic. At least the ER was empty, so I wasn't taking up space that patients with more urgent cases needed.

I didn't break any bones. But I had a pretty bad contusion.

There's still a bad bruise, and my elbow still hurts as I write this post. I should just be more careful. 

Let's just hope it gets better. And I don't make the same silly mistake next time.

How we met and our story!

/ /
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.....

Nope. No Star Wars trope here.

Dani and I met at a math competition in the eighth grade. Back then, he lived in Pearland and I still lived in Houston. Back in those awkward, glasses-googling and braces-tying days, while we sat there turning math tricks in our brains and thinking of sines and tangents, there was no way we knew that that initial meeting would be the start of a long journey of our lives intertwining, together and together, again and again.

Fast forward four months. My family, in taking its steps to achieving the American Dream, moved out to the suburbs, and I found myself as a freshman in high school in the same biology and English classes as That Nerd! We found ourselves in a friendly rivalry in classes, working together on many projects and assignments together. Whether it was co-writing a re-enactment of Romeo & Juliet, staying up till 2 AM solving calculus problems over the phone, quipping the teachings of Thoreau and Emerson from English, reciting the timelines of the Ancient Egyptian kingdoms, or having AP review sessions at IHOP and Cici's Pizza, we marched hand-in-hand, mind over matter.

Senior high school prom was our first "friend" date. I still remember those fun moments we had - riding in Dani's Lexus down to Galveston's Moody Gardens and having a ball with our friends and fellow teachers. We graduated high school in 2008 and swiftly moved onto college - Rice University. Throughout our years in college, we kept in touch but still just stayed friends.

Until November 4, 2011. During a Sadie-Hawkins dance hosted by Rice University, he asked me out. And, somehow, I said yes.

Some people say it's fate? Others call us high school sweethearts? Old souls? Somehow bets were won that day when we started going out, during our senior year in college. Who knows, it's been quite awhile.

We've been through a lot of things together. Ups, downs, nadirs and zeniths. Whether it was multiple surgeries, family members' weddings, heartbreaks, loss of loved ones, school milestones and setbacks, we've been working hard to help each other along every step of the way. We've been in a long-distance relationship for the last four (five?) years.

Yes, most of our dates are "Skype dates." Yes, we only see each other in person every few months. Yes, no matter how hard we try to hug that image on the computer screen, or call with each other's voices, it still feels like, as Mae best put it, "it's so close but we're so far away." But the most important thing is that we trust one another. we know each other. We've gotten so far in our lives, through trials and triumphs, whether it's in medical school, business school, working in the commercial industry, or doing renovations at home. With this distance, we learned to trust and love one another in ways that we had never imagined.

We got engaged on December 24, 2014, at Galveston Moody Gardens - the place where we had our high school prom. It was quite pre-planned, and we proposed to each other, with our own pre-thought vows. He gave me an engagement ring I had picked out the day before; I gave him an engagement watch (only 1/10th the price of the ring?) that he had picked out that previous day as well.

And with this, we vowed to spend the rest of our living lives together.

We've gotten so far in our lives, through trials and triumphs. God, family, friends, and their spirits have guided us throughout this journey woven through the decades. We hope you will join us in our celebration.

Life and responsibilities: the past vs today

/ Saturday, September 23, 2017 /
Last night, I was talking to my in-laws. I was inquiring as to what envelopes they had, and if we could have some of them, since they almost never write checks, and we have to all the time. But they didn't have the kind we wanted - specifically, security-covered check-sized envelopes.

I responded that we would just go to Amazon to buy them. My father-in-law chuckled.

Every day at my condo complex, hoards of packages come in. Boxes of all shapes and sizes come hither, bringing forth every good one could possibly imagine.

A lot of these customers are young people - people ranging from teenagers to those in their 30s and 40s. Young adults - millennials, as they say - get many, if not most, of their products off of this one site.

Even more than this, lots of other businesses are getting their "business" online. Clothing companies, pet box subscriptions, hardware stores and more - more and more products are being sold online instead of at brick-and-mortar stores.

Why is this? Who's winning? Who's suffering?

For one thing, it seems that millennials today are expected to do MUCH more work than previously expected. What I mean by this is that originally, with the advent of bigger and better technology, people thought that our lives would become easier. Instead, it has triggered a scale of invitations to have more responsibilities and other items to complete. Beforehand, people used to go to the library to look up topics in encyclopedias and journal articles. Now, we can access them at home.

But what is the trade-off? We do have more access to such media. But we are expected, instead, to have more responsibilities. We are allotted shorter amounts of time to access such things and are expected to produce more output, ever day.

Case in point is the modern working mom. My mom works a 60-hour a week job, but still has the responsibilities of all of the cooking and cleaning in the house. (My dad's culinary skills are terrible. Nobody wants to eat what he makes anyway.) How is she able to do this? She multi-tasks almost all of the time - starting the laundry as soon as she gets home, programming the oven so that it automatically turns on/off so that food is not undercooked or overcooked, using a high-tech rice cooker with both "cook" and "keep warm" settings, etc. At the end of the day, she sets on both the laundry machine and the dishwasher so that another load of laundry could be done, and the dishes would be washed overnight.

Her mother, a generation ago, was a full-time homemaker. She needed all of the time during the day, 24/7, to do all of the chores and cooking. She needed more time to change diapers, because she had to wash cloth diapers - unlike the luxury my mom had with disposable diapers. Laundry had to be washed entirely by hand. Technology was less advanced, and that meant that less things could be done at the same time.

Mind you - this was a long time ago, perhaps during the second world war era. So technology wasn't as great as it was now.

But the point is that, despite the fact that my mom needs a lot less time to perform such responsibilities than her mother, she (my mother) is bombarded with more responsibilities in addition. Her full-time job to "bring home the dough" takes up time, and she is also expected to do other things, such as type at a computer, text her children with tons of emojis, etc.

Which gets me back to my original point. Today's generation - nay, everyone living in today's technological world - is expected to do more things. Need to buy groceries? Don't go to the grocery store - use Amazon Pantry instead, so you can save time to do something else. Need a new couch? Don't make the drive out to Ikea - just look online at the reviews and pick one that is to your liking. Even simple things such as buying a present for someone requires only a search and the click of a button, rather than a trip to the mall, complete with used time and gas, etc.

But instead of saying "Yipee! We have more free time!", instead, we are bombarded with more responsibilities. Instead of using that extra time to relax, we're expected to spend more time on our jobs and obtain even more responsibilities than before. For example, as a student, life is filled with endless studying and working at the hospital. When I get home, I run the dishwasher and the laundry, load after load, while cleaning the floor and making coffee by the pot. I continue running the delicates while looking at a book - a book on the iPad. The husband, at work, runs tons of tests on machines at the same time, due to the sheer fact that many, many virtual machines are available for use. He isn't just using ENIAC. He's using i9 or whatever.

So ultimately, what wins? Whose lifestyle and responsibilities are better? Honestly, I don't know. Life is what life is. We are just simply inculcated to the responsibilities we are given. At the end of the day, we just have to do what we need to do. And that's that.


/ Tuesday, August 29, 2017 /
During these past few days, we've been inundated again and again by the calamity known as Harvey. As many might know, this is a hurricane that originally hit the Yucatan Peninsula, regained strength, hit Corpus Christi, went back into the Gulf, and then hit north of Galveston area.

We currently live in Houston right next to a body of water. This is a bayou that is notorious for flooding during past hurricanes and tropical storms. (yes, I know, some might ask why on earth would you live there? I have to. It's close to work, and if I had to drive 30+ min after a 12-hour shift at work, I wouldn't be sane.)

Thus, these are things to be aware of.

For the past few days, the husband and I have been hunkered down at home, with water, frozen food, and charged batteries. We've thankfully not had any major issues. Our entire apartment complex has become an island.

Outside the complex:

Image may contain: tree, plant, bridge, outdoor, water and nature

Inside the gate:
Image may contain: tree, sky, outdoor, water and nature

Harvey's hit us pretty hard. Airplanes have had to airlift people /out/ of airports due to flooding. Roofs have torn off due to ensuing tornadoes. We've had friends who had to be airlifted out of their houses. My father-in-law wanted to get us a boat to rescue us. My dad is worried sick about his car. Husband's flight has been cancelled till at least next week. Highways are closed, so nobody can really get anywhere. At least 16 people have been confirmed dead.

Who knows what is going on?

Lots say that climate change is making hurricanes worse:

That might be a legit reason. Nonetheless, right now, we are all focusing on getting through this catastrophe and recovering. Lots of my friends are going to volunteer at shelters. People lined up in droves to donate blood at our local blood bank (myself included). The ride-out teams at our hospitals have worked with limitless stamina, motivation, and care to make sure that patients are getting the care that they need. Friends on FB are marking themselves as safe. Many online donation sites and Red Cross sites are getting filled with blessings. Friends have reached out to neighbors, giving out water and food supplies.

As of right now, we are safe. We can't guarantee what's going to happen, seeing that the storm seems to be what the husband calls a "zombie storm" that keeps up popping alive, again and again...

New nice places to sleep?

/ Sunday, July 30, 2017 /
I like a good night's sleep just as much as the next person. I've slept in all sorts of places - on the bus, empty college classrooms, a friend's couch, on the floor, in the grass, etc.

And honestly, apart from sleeping on my Leesa mattress, I think the next best thing is sleeping on the ground.

Whaa? You like sleeping on the ground? Yeah, for some reason, I don't mind the hard pressure points of the ground. In fact, I kind of like it!

Reasons why:

  1. I feel like I'm living in a K-drama - a lot of people in Korea sleep on the floor due to a nice heating system. Granted, there is no such heating system in my home, but honestly, in the Texas Gulf Coast area, where there are 10 months of summer in a year, it doesn't matter.
  2. Privacy - I feel like I'm in my own cozy area when it's there. For some reason?
  3. Nostalgia- reminds me of those good ole' college days, when sleeping on the grass was quite the norm for some students. (One of my best friends completed a mission where she slept in EVERY single building on campus!)
  4. Cooling temperature - warm air rises and cold air sinks. When you're on the ground, in the hot summer, with the air conditioning running non-stop, every single degree counts.
  5. Incentive to vacuum - I'm encouraged to vacuum the carpet more often to create a cleaner ground to sleep on.
So yeah, bottom line is that I kind of like this new system of sleeping. Who knows how it will work out in the future?


/ Sunday, July 23, 2017 /

I like doing my own henna designs. I think it's really beautiful - not only for weddings, but also for everyday occasions - and these intricate designs are marvelous.

Souvenirs from Japan!

/ Sunday, July 16, 2017 /

My roommate took a trip to Japan and brought me back some awesome souvenirs!

Sushi erasers
Kit-Kats: dark chocolate, lychee, matcha, etc flavors


/ Sunday, July 2, 2017 /
Exams are super stressful for me.

Exams in high school, and even college, were relatively okay. As long as I studied for them - e.g. a week in advance - they turned out well.

Everything hit the fan during medical school.

On tests during pre-clinical classes, I would still be learning things for the test during the actual test. Things that weren't covered were extremely difficult to understand and memorize. How was I supposed to know all of these things? I'm not good at memorizing blatant details. As a result, this makes medical school studying extremely difficult, because a lot of it is just pure memorization.

Our board exams are extremely long. The first exam that we have is 8 hours long. The second is 9 hours. The third is a clinical exam that lasts about 9 hours as well. The next one is 17 hours long (albeit divided into 2 days, thank goodness).

And our last ones? Sometimes they last a week. Or whoever knows how long.

So thus, it's difficult, really really difficult, for me. Even if I prepare for half a year for these exams, it's still hard.

What can I do to improve this? Any advice?

Heart to heart: Insecurities

/ Sunday, June 25, 2017 /
I've always had insecurities. I think every person has them. We all have our weaknesses and strengths.

So thus, during this tropical storm (it's raining like crazy outside), I've decided to make this list of my insecurities. Some people may say that I'm a survivor, or that I have a lot of great attributes, etc, but in reality there are a lot of things that make me extremely human and weak.

  1. Height - I'm super short! I'm 5' 2''. Even petite clothing purchased in stores has to be hemmed to fit properly. It's really sad actually - lots of money/time wasted from either going to a tailor or me doing it myself. I don't like sitting behind tall peeps in movie theatres, it's hard to reach places, etc. I look like a midget.
  2. Scars - I have a ton of scars from my countless knee surgeries. I hate going to the beach because of these scars. These scars will probably never heal completely. They look gross!
  3. Insomnia - easily a problem for many peeps. Stress can really get to a person.
  4. Weight - this is something that's bothered me since the 2nd grade. I ballooned during high school and freshman 15. Afterward, during college and med school, I definitely lost weight. But to this day, I still have these thoughts, need to remind myself to watch my diet, etc.
  5. Ability to multitask - I can probably do 3 or more things at once. But in the hospital, often times you have to do 5 or 7 things at the same time - talking on the phone, typing things onto the computer, listening to conversations in the background of the team rooms, figuring out and typing in computer orders, writing, etc. It's really difficult to do this. I've trained myself to do several things at once - e.g. have casual conversations whilst typing or doing chores, but other than this it's really difficult, especially with things that are more brain-intensive.
So there you go. I'm not perfect. I'm a person with lots of flaws. I've failed and messed up, tripped and become broken along these years. I work hard and try to improve myself every day. I just hope it's enough.

I got married?

/ Sunday, June 4, 2017 /
I recently got married to Dan. Somehow we became adults and took the "next step" in our lives?

We met at a math competition in middle school (yeah I know, nerdy right). We went to HS and college together as well. It's always been interesting, considering that we've known each other for so long. Perhaps that was why it worked. We were in a long-distance for 5 years (and still are?!?!) but somehow it worked out.

Evolution of my haircuts and hair lengths

/ Sunday, May 28, 2017 /
I generally prefer a mid-length look. It isn't too long, it isn't too short, etc. I can tie it up in a ponytail and I can wear it in braids.

However, with miscommunication from various hairstylists and laziness, it's either become super short or super long. 

Here is the progression of my hairstyles/hair lengths throughout the years:

Mixed thoughts on flowers

/ Sunday, May 14, 2017 /
I really do like flowers. They make great gifts - but only occasionally. 
It's because they are so transient, in a way! They wilt and go bad after days, despite regular care.
I wish that they would last longer, but sadly that isn't the case.


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