Category Archives: relationships

better or worse

What is the purpose of a wedding anyway?

As a girl, I envisioned the fanciness, the awe-inspiring grandeur as the movies make it out to be.  More so… when I thought of my wedding, it was really about the PEOPLE you love and the HAPPINESS that came along with it.  I saw the wedding as a ridiculously overpriced party with tons of food, smiling, laughing, dancing, a gorgeous dress, a fabulous husband, and a large crowd of supportive friends and family.  At 26 years old, engaged, and about to be married, I still want those things.  Yet, I didn’t see myself struggling so hard to get there.

Now that this “Big Day” is approaching for me, I’m left with several conflicting feelings of dread, stress, disappointment, nostalgia, and during rare moments, excitement.  It feels like a lonely place to be because I don’t seem to find my issues reflected in the glossy wedding magazines, colorful Knot website, or dream wedding shows.  When people ask me “How’s wedding planning?”, I feel like a freak for not being more giddy in my response.  Sometimes I completely fake it.  The only place of solace are through conversations with other real-life brides.  It’s like meeting another wounded soldier who survived the same battle that I’m about to face.  An instant connection is formed – one based on encouragement & empathy.

The biggest shock for me in getting engaged and beginning the wedding planning was how it drastically changed (or perhaps unveiled?) the relationships in my life.  It forced me to evaluate who were the most important people in my life.  Who to include in this whole planning process.  Who will truly be by my side for such a significant occasion in my life?  Who will truly support me in my decisions?  Who will be consistent?  For better or for worse isn’t just for your life partner; it applies just as much to your other loved ones.  It was a test of some sorts for many of my relationships – both friendships and family.

For the sake of some confidentiality, I won’t list names, but I will say with great disappointment that some of those relationships failed me.  There was a great deal of emotional conflict that arose in the first month of my engagement – family loyalty, selfishness, old history, lost friendships, etc.  In hindsight, I believe that a majority of those issues arose because other people had selfishly harbored issues of their own and decided to use the engagement as a catalyst to bring those issues to the surface.  Funny enough, life was just fine prior to when J asked the question.  So, was it REALLY about me?  Or was it about them?  Sadly enough, no one ever warns you that a wedding could potentially be destructive to your relationships… or to your mental health for that matter.

In the past few months, J & I had some major talks and decisions to make.  How much of our own happiness are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of others’ happiness?  And how much of it is ours to claim?  We’ve realized, with much disappointment and sadness, that it will not be given to us easily.  As much as these people say they care and love us, they love themselves – be it their pride, ego, or traditions – more.

Honestly, I’m pretty tired of walking on eggshells around others’ feelings, especially for an event that’s intended to be mine & J’s.  Compromising is one thing, but losing perspective is another.  I know the difference between support and selfishness, and as much as I hate to say this about people whom I love – it’s downright selfish.

If happiness is our goal, then I’m determined to make sure that’s what J & I deserve and demand.  For better or for worse.



Filed under Bridal blues & bliss, relationships


I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately.

At first I thought it was because I’ve been sick for the past couple of weeks – it’s tough to sleep with a coughing fit.

Next, I diagnosed that it must be my coffee intake.  After all, introducing caffeine into your body after a long hiatus is sure to send it into shock.

Hmm… maybe it’s my late night workouts.  It probably takes some time for my adrenaline to slow down after an intense work out.

J has to literally tear me away from my computer during these restless nights, only to have me toss and turn wide awake.  Anyone who knows me would find this behavior unusual – I typically sleep fast and soundly in an instant.  When J, who is himself an insomniac on occasion, can find sleep more than I can – something is off.

I began to realize that taking Nyquil was only a quick fix.

Last night, I jumped into bed and just stared at the ceiling.

“I think you’re right.”  I said.  That got J’s attention.  He put his book down, and asked, “About what?”

“I’m overwhelmed.”  Still looking at the ceiling.  Not angry, not upset, not in a fit or crisis.  I was simply, calmly acknowledging a very obvious fact.  Obvious to everyone but myself, until that very moment.

“Well,” J started, as he turned to face me, “You’ve been working non-stop all month.  Of course, you’re overwhelmed.”

I tried to mentally list all of the possible culprits for my anxiety.  I’ve been dedicating time to Stella & Dot, my new side business and learning all of the strategies to successfully book and execute trunk shows.  In just my first month of signing up as a Stylist, I had done 4 trunk show events, including my initial launch party!  Wedding planning is just gearing up, with the continuous hunt for a wedding venue and the seemingly never-ending task of gaining my family’s approval.  There are days when I wince at the thought of devoting an entire year just to planning it, with the current stress already forming & the anticipation of more stress.  Job searching is still on the periphery of my mind, especially with lay-offs occurring in the next month or so.  With all of those things, financial security is a big factor in my worries.  And somewhere crammed in the rest of my head are the obligations and expectations to multiple roles in my life: being a good fiance, sister, friend, employee, daughter, etc. etc.

Ugh.  No wonder I’m a mess.

Just from voicing it aloud to myself and to my wonderfully supportive fiance, I decided that the bulk of these issues were not going to be resolved that evening.  If I’m going to have a busy year, I can’t burn out this early in the game.  Something needs to change.  I need to change my game plan.

At that moment, what I decided I needed more than anything else, was a chance to just rest from all of the chaos and noise in my life.

So I made a conscious effort to hit “pause” for the evening, and I finally went to sleep.


Filed under Bridal blues & bliss, epiphany, relationships, simple things, Stella & Dot

black cloud

I’m in a foul mood today.  No thanks to the stress from my & J’s family situation with the engagement ordeal.  A lengthy phone call with my mom earlier this afternoon (possibly mixed with a heavy dose of caffeine this morning) only fueled my grudge against the world.

Today’s entry is devoted entirely to things that piss me off.

– adults who act childish, knowingly or unknowingly.

– people who cough/sneeze without covering their mouths.  It’s flu season, cover it!

– men who disgustingly stare.  Anyone ever tell them it’s NOT attractive?

– when a person chooses a bathroom stall RIGHT next to mine, when there are countless of others to choose from.  Hello, personal space?

– indecisiveness and fickleness.  ESPECIALLY when it’s at the expense of my time and energy.  No, I will NOT humor you or be a “good sport.”

– solicitors at my door.  NO, I do NOT want the Mercury News.  *slam.

– people who ask “how are you?” but don’t really care to listen.  Don’t ask and I won’t waste my breath!  Thanks.

– being tricked into feeling guilty for something that’s not my fault.  Parents are really good at this.

– doing something for the sake of doing it, or “tradition” or “that’s just the way it is” without real knowledge or explanation of purpose.  That drives me CRAZY.

-caring/worrying over things that I don’t have control over nor should spend time on.. but I still do anyway.


Bah humbug.



Filed under relationships, simple things

triple milestones

Today J and I celebrate the most momentous milestones, thus far in our lives.

Our engagement, our first home together,  and our upcoming birthdays.

That’s all heavy stuff; I’m still trying to wrap my mind around all three at once.  In just two short, yet eventful, months, both of our lives changed dramatically.

The concept of “milestones” intrigues me.  Socially constructed, it’s like a way to mark time.  You don’t really know how much has changed or how long it’s been until you look back on a certain period in your life – be it comparing your freshmen year of high school to college, the friends and lovers who have gone into your life and out, or the first time you left the country and had a new perspective of the life you lived.  If it weren’t for milestones, how else can you distinguish elusive days from others?

Milestones reaffirm the purpose of my “everydays.”  And that I worked hard to achieve some of them.  A milestone like an engagement actually happens in one day, one heart-pounding moment.  But that was over 5 years in the making for J and I to reach that moment.  It symbolized years of love, working through a long-distance relationship, surviving grad school, learning to compromise and listen, and continuing to challenge and learn from each other.  It was a moment that I relished, be it socially constructed.  And the exciting part is that it one of the first major ones that we shared – the first of many.

What better way to celebrate an end of a marathon than with a nice, shiny medal?  Or to commence a brand new journey ahead.

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Filed under epiphany, relationships

the proposal

It’s been a flurry of activity, excitement, tension, and melodrama the moment I landed back on the mainland.  Largely for two major reasons: I was engaged & I also became a homeowner.  All in the time span of 2 weeks.  It was all too easy to get caught up in the craziness of this turn of expected, yet still overwhelmingly exhausting, events.  Thus, my delay in the desire to properly document my travels and photos.  I figure as long as I post them before I reach the one month mark, it’ll be somewhat fresh in my memory.

When I came back, the next question I received after “SOOO… Are you ENGAGED?”  (Yes) would be “How was Hawai’i?”  I wrestled for the right words to answer such a question.  There’s too much to say about this place that can’t be justified by a gushing “beautiful”, “amazing”, “sooo fun”, or “great!”

I will say:  I completely understand why it is a place people enjoy visiting again and again.

I’ve put together a photo blog 3-part series on Hawai’i.  And be aware that there will absolutely be no mention of running/jogging/working out during this trip because…it didn’t happen.  But that’s a whole separate entry.  Aloha!

Day 1. June 25, 2009 (Thursday).

Honolulu, Oahu

Aerial View of Oahu

Aerial View of Oahu

My first glimpse of Oahu from Hawaiian Airlines.  Seeing all of the green and blue already made me feel like I was entering paradise.

*After a 6 hour flight and then checking into the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel, J & I were hungry.  Hawaii is known for its sporadic light showers, so we ducked into Hatsuhana Restaurant to avoid the drops and for a quick bento box lunch.

*We head over to the Manoa Falls Trail, in the Upper Manoa Valley.  The drive itself is quite elevated and the trail took us deep into the lush green rainforest.  It was a 1.5 mile hike through a worn path that often was muddy, rocky, and slightly steep.  When I read about the trail in my Lonely Planet guide, it was labeled “relatively easy.”  I thought perhaps Hawaiians must be in better shape than Californians as I sweated my way across rocks, lunged up stones and thick tree roots, and nearly slipped more than twice.

Manoa Falls Trail

Manoa Falls Trail

For some time, it felt like J and I were the only two people on the hike.  The only sounds we heard were birds chirping, the wind rustling the tree branches, and the distant sound of water rushing.  I felt like I stepped onto the set of Jurassic Park and imagined a velociraptor stealthily following us in the thick bushes.  We pass by a sign that says:  Warning.  Beware of flash flood. “Do you think we’re almost there yet?” I ask J, in a near panic that we won’t make it back by nightfall.

After woefully mourning the muddiness of my white Nikes, I see a streambed of water and hear the increasing sound of an approaching waterfall.  We scramble to the top lookout point and gasp at the sight of the beautiful 150 foot waterfall drop.  J smiles and I’m smiling, too, as we hug each other – a silent appreciation of such a moment.

There’s no one there, but us, to bask in the beauty of the Manoa Waterfall.  J then nervously drops down to one knee, pulls out a red heart shaped box out of his pocket.  “Pauline…”  he says.

I don’t let him finish his sentence because I’m screaming in pure surprise, joy, and semi-confusion.  He repeats my name again.  Three times.  I’m still screaming “Oh my god! Oh my god!  Is this really happening?”

“Will you marry me?”

The 1.5 mile hike back down the Manoa Falls Trail was damned quicker and easier, given my high spirits and a brand new sparkling diamond on my finger.  I’m grinning the whole way down.

“Aren’t you just EXCITED?” I gleefully ask J, as I bound and skip from rock to rock.

“Not at the moment.  I just want to make sure you get down this trail SAFELY,” J says with a slight grimace as he quickly follows me in my frenzied state.

Engaged at Manoa Falls

Engaged at Manoa Falls

*We celebrate our engagement at Bali by the Sea for dinner, one of the Hilton’s fancy restaurants.  After enjoying a filling meal, where we chatter nonstop about the Manoa Falls hike, we take a moonlit stroll down the beach.  The entire day was a perfect way to start off an already memorable vacation.

Evening at the Hilton beach side

Evening at the Hilton beach side

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Filed under city travels, photography, relationships

quality control

I have a love/disturbed vibe towards email, text messaging, or social networking as a means of staying connected with friends.

It’s great because it’s so easy to crank out a few lines and zip it on over to someone. The response is also instantaneous. In either exchanging or reading a few paragraphs, a short message, or a facebook status, a person can believe that he/she is caught up with someone’s life. That gnawing guilt over being MIA or out of touch is immediately assuaged by that tiny bit of “connection” no matter how brief the interaction or the size of characters exchanged via the cyberworld.

Not to say I don’t do it. I text, I email, I gchat, I facebook, I Myspace (hardly), and I get LinkedIn. You’d be a pariah not to be somewhat tech-savvy these days. But for the love of humankind, what happened to phone calls and face to face conversations??? Remember the time when you could actually see and hear the person?

This is where I firmly believe that the closest of my friendships, the ones I truly value in keeping, are the ones where the connections are still personal. And I’ve learned to really appreciate the friends who also value quality time and put in that same effort to maintain the relationship. Whether it’s a lengthy phone conversation now and then, catching up over dinner and drinks, planning trips or city outings together, or even working out, my life feels fulfilled. It takes time, definitely. It takes reciprocity – I initiate and they initiate. And it takes effort. But that’s what it takes to build and maintain a relationship.

Yes, technology makes communication easier. But easier doesn’t always mean better.


Filed under relationships


I decided to venture outside for a run this weekend.

Running outside is a nice change from the treadmill. Even though I don’t have the convenience of counting my calories and distance, it forces me to listen to my body. It’s also nice to enjoy the scenery – to feel like I’m running somewhere.

That sunny afternoon, I run past my usual cut-off point and end up at the street where my best friend used to live. On a whim, I decide to veer left so I can run past the exact apartment complex. Instead of brown and cream, the exterior is now painted a light blue. I remember being dropped off at this very spot nearly every Friday night during the summer of my freshman year. Early on Saturday morning, I’d wake up to go to church with her family. Of course, the real reason I begged my mom to have me stay over was so that my friend, G, and I could stay up late giggling over our boyfriends, trying on her newest outfits, and gossiping about mutual acquaintances. I heard so-and-so got caught messing around… is she really running away with her boyfriend…who’s still a virgin…? Things that were of utmost important in a 14 year old girl’s life.

Rejuvenated by my sudden nostalgia, I ran further down towards my former elementary and middle school (attached to the church), where she and I have stayed friends since the 4th grade. I slow my jog down as I peek inside the parking lot. There’s a pang in my stomach when I notice that the rainbow arched bars, my favorite place to sit during recess, is gone. This was the very bar where G & I sat with our other friend, school uniforms and all, for a yearbook photo tagged “Best of Friends.” Only tanbark and a lone monkey bar set are left behind. No one would be able to guess that this place once held memories of where G & I had our first fight in the 5th grade (over a game), where a group of us would lounge on the picnic tables trying on the new “raisin” colored lipstick, or that I cried and sat on the nearby curb the day my 8th grade crush turned me down. In many ways, this was where my theories of life and relationship dynamics were first formed – this very playground.

It’s Saturday afternoon and though I know the church service is long over, I wait around, though I’m not sure for what. I spot my friend’s auntie loading her car with potluck utensils and head over to say hello. She breaks into a smile when she sees me waving. I would hug her, but I’m sweaty in my shorts and blue Ciao Bella t-shirt. We exchange the customary “how are you doing”s and status updates.

“It’s been such a long time since I was last here…” I say wistfully. I’m positive she can’t place the emotion in my voice since she’s not sure how to respond other than to smile and nod. When we part and I turn away, I can’t stop the wave of heaviness. I’m a sentimental person, but I wasn’t expecting this. Nearly thirteen years later, why do seeing all of these old places make me feel so bittersweet? Maybe I wish for those days of simplicity again. Maybe I fear that I’ll easily forget these seemingly insignificant moments, forget about those two little girls. Maybe so much in my life is changing that I’m not quite ready to “grow up.”

As I run back towards my home, I know it’s a mixure of all of the three.

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Filed under relationships, simple things