Thanksgiving Trip

bonsai This Thanksgiving trip was rather hard to plan, but I was determined. I really wanted some time away and this trip did not disappoint.

First, there was timing. I had been planning this trip for about 2 months, first inquiring about my sister’s plans for Thanksgiving. When I found out that DC was very close to Durham, NC, I decided I’ll go visit Derek as I had promised years ago. However, work got really busy and for those who know me, I tend to procrastinate a lot. I also had a friend visiting me the weekend before Thanksgiving, so that added additional constraints. After coordinating with my sister and Derek, what should’ve been planned months ago, was only finalized a little over a week before my trip.

Second, being someone mindful of money, flying anywhere during Thanksgiving has always been painful. Apparently $650 total to fly from Seattle to Durham to DC and back is actually a decent price given this was during Thanksgiving.


My sister is currently getting her masters at Duke. I figured since I hardly get to see my little sister these days, this would be a good time. Plus it gave me an excuse to travel. Durham is a pretty quiet town, but that could be because I went during Thanksgiving and all the Duke students have gone home. The Duke campus was small, but was really pretty and used a lot of old architecture (I don’t know from which period). They also had a really beautiful botanical garden.

We went and saw Harry Potter 7, something about the deathly hallows. The movie was fun and the acting has definitely improved, but I was never really a big fan of Harry Potter and I guess the movie didn’t affect me much. It was enjoyable otherwise.

For Thanksgiving, we were invited to some other engineering student group’s party and had a rather swell time. They had tons of food, too much in fact, but I guess Thanksgiving is all about abundance and overeating. Met some interesting people there.

On one of the other days, we went and checked out Falls Lake, about 40 minutes NE of Durham. The lake was pretty, but we sort of got lost hiking and trust me, it’s not fun trying to find your way back when the sun’s setting. We managed to get lost several times, trying to look for the little white dots on trees that identified the way back. After a couple mis-turns, we finally made our way out of the forest.

Washington D.C.

Did you know for people who live in DC, you put Washington as your city and DC (or District of Columbia) as your state?

For those who saw my Facebook status earlier, you knew I was extremely fond of their subway system. I wouldn’t say it was as good as Hong Kong’s octopus system, but it was really up there in convenience and usability. I was flying into Baltimore and Derek had sent me his spare keys along with a SmarTrip card several days before I flew out. The SmarTrip card is similar to Seattle’s Orca card or Hong Kong’s Octopus card where you can preload it with money and use it for any public transportation.

The 2nd day I was there, I visited a couple of the Smithsonian museums. Did you know all the Smithsonian museums are free? In fact I was told there were only 3 museums in all of DC that actually charged an entrance fee. These are not your dinky little museums, but world-class museums. I got to check out the Gallery of Art, Natural History, Air and Space, and Portrait Gallery. Due to time constraints, I had to briefly go through them and even then each museum took about 2-3hrs to complete. My favorite was the Natural History museum. While browsing through it, I had wished I could’ve visited here as a kid as I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed it much more. The thing I really liked about the Natural History museum is that you get to touch everything. Bones, rocks, … I mean with the museum’s target audience of kids of all ages, they were prepared for this. The Air and Space museum was really cool too, but it reminded me a lot of Boeing’s Museum of Flight in Seattle and maybe that’s why I was not as impressed.

Apparently in order to tour the White House, you have to request like 6 months in advance. The White House was also a lot smaller than I had imagined and less grandeur (from the outside). The Capitol Building gives tours every 15 or 30 minutes. Derek mention that we could try and get a private tour from either my senator or representative. Unfortunately I forgot the names of either of my senators, but for some odd reason I remember California’s. I did remember my rep was Dave Reichart. We located his office in the directory. The people there were very nice. Unfortunately a private tour required 24hr notice in advance, but they were able to give us gallery passes to visit the House of Representative gallery. When the tour started, we were told they were still in session, but they must’ve ended sometime during our tour as we only got to see an empty gallery with a few pages.

The monuments were also really cool. Did you know that the stretch of grass between the Capitol and Lincoln’s memorial is called the mall. When Derek first mentioned the mall, I was a bit confused as I thought he was referring to a bunch of retail stores along that stretch of land. But nope, the mall is what they call that area. I didn’t get to check out all the monuments and memorials as by the time I got to the Vietnam Memorial, the sun was setting. I really wanted to see the statue they put up for the Iwojima soldiers (after watching Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers), but apparently that wasn’t located at the WWII memorial. Derek says that statue is located in some circle, but we never got a chance to visit it.

We also did a Segway tour of the city and that was extremely fun. It was my first time on the Segway, but it was rather intuitive to learn. It was scary when I first got on it, but by the end of the tour, I was doing pretty well. I contemplated for a bit about getting my own Segway, but ultimately decided that it’s not for me, especially given where I lived. Maybe if I lived in the city or if I lived closer to work.

There is so much more to say, so much more I saw, so much more I wanted to do, but I won’t bore you with the details. For my Facebook friends, do check out the photo album (if it’s not up yet, it’ll be up shortly).

I was surprised with how much there is to do in DC. I’ve been there for 3 full days, and wished I could have stayed for at least a full week. That just means there’s a next visit. 😀

How I Deal With Stress

This is actually a happy post as I’ve been reflecting these past few days on a lot of things. I wasn’t sure if I was going to write this up initially as there’s quite a bit of stuff I don’t feel like sharing with the world. In the end I’ve decided to split it into 2 posts. The 2nd post will most likely be password-protected if it ever gets published and is currently titled Krunk is a Jackass.

I can be a very private person, especially around people I’m not familiar with. I generally don’t like talking about myself, and would much rather listen to other people. Then what do I call this blog? Some of the stuff I’ve written up are pretty private. I’ll get to that.

Given that I’m a private person, I tend to keep stuff bubbled inside me. It’s all fine when I’m happy and content, but when I’m stressed or sad, it sort of builds up and I can get really depressed. Usually when that happens, I have 2 main outlets: close friends and my blog.

When I’m really depressed, I usually call up some close friends and grab dinner or something. Sometimes I do talk about my problem, but what I really want is the company. Just being around people who care about me always makes me happier.

The other outlet is my blog. I find that I’m able to talk a lot more about myself on my blog than to people. It helps me reflect and is very relaxing and soothing. By typing everything out, even if no one reads it, it allows me to channel all the pain away.

Something else I find that works for me is watching comedic TV series. I’m not sure if it’s just any funny series or the fact how “How I Met Your Mother” reflects a lot about myself, but whenever I watch it, all my problems seem to melt away.

I notice recently when my mind wanders, either when I’m driving, sitting, or just walking in circles, my mind tends to drift toward embarrassing/depressing moments, and I would end out shouting expletives. For some reason, hearing myself shout the word F*CK, helps calm me down quickly. I usually don’t do it in front of people, but my brother caught me a few times quietly shouting under my breath while I was driving and he thought I made a wrong turn.

Another interesting observation I’ve made is that I tend to lose a lot of weight when I’m stressed. That sort of explains how I got from 170 to 140 in just a few months and why I lost like 5lbs this past week. Of course the exercise helps, but it helps more with maintaining the weight lost.

So a lot has happened in the past week. Besides what I’ve blogged about already, I think I’m finally over my *cough* problem. You know how you know you’ve finally moved on when you’re no longer trying to avoid someone, but can instead hang out with them and chat with them for hours. My brother has helped me put a lot of things into perspective. My brother has also helped instill confidence in myself that I’ve lost long ago. The Krunk in me is finally waking up from hibernation and it’s mostly thanks to my brother. Oh, haaaaaave you met Krunk? Yah, Krunk is a Jackass.

My Grandma

As some of you know, my grandma recently passed away. These past few days have been somewhat difficult to go through, though probably not for the reason you’re thinking about.

I first got informed my grandma was hospitalized on Friday 6/18, the same weekend my brother was flying in to visit me. My dad tells me that the doctors are pretty sure she has some form of leukemia, but wouldn’t be sure which type it is until the labs reopen on Monday.

This sort of threw a wrench into all my plans and I should probably be tarred and feather for even thinking that. On one hand, the right thing to do would be to fly back to see our grandma. On the other hand, a lot of money had already been invested into this trip. We decided to continue with our trip and would get status updates. With that lingering in the back of my mind, I tried to enjoy the time with my brother as best as I could.

Fast forward to Thursday 6/24, I was informed that my grandma has a form of acute leukemia and probably won’t make it past a few days. My dad wanted to know if we wanted to see grandma one last time. My mom already had tickets back to LA on Saturday night and my brother was leaving Sunday morning. I figured if I was going back to LA to see her 1 last time, I’d try to get a flight Sunday morning/afternoon and fly back to Seattle early Monday morning.

While at work on Friday 6/25, my sister IMs me and informs me that grandma is probably in her last moments/hours and I should pray for her. I forwarded that message to my mom and brother. We were later informed that she passed away peacefully some time around 6pm.

I’ve been thinking this over and over for the past few days. Should we have flown back immediately when we heard of the news? What’s killing me isn’t the grief of my grandma dying, but the fact I’m not feeling much grief at all. I’m her grandchild and I should be feeling grief. Is there something wrong with me? This wasn’t just some random family member, this is my grandma who took care of of me since I was little baby.

My earliest memory of my grandma isn’t actually my own memory, but something that has been recorded on VHS. However, my parents and siblings make fun of me everytime about it. I was probably around 4 or 5 at that time and we in the back of our house in Long Island playing with snow. I would throw a snowball at my grandma and playfully she threw one back at me. I began to cry and I wouldn’t stop crying until she let me throw another snowball at her.

I spoke with my dad on Saturday and he sounded okay. It’s a good thing that at least my sister was home to look after him.

Dave told me about his experience and I may just be in a state of shock and grief will probably settle in later. I actually saw my grandma when I went back to visit back in May and she seemed to have been doing fine. The fact that this came out of nowhere may be another reason why I’m in a state of shock. Maybe when I fly back on 7/10 for her funeral, things would become clearer and I can find some emotional release.

Empty House Once Again

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve been alone in my house. I woke up this morning and it was eerily quiet. My mom’s been here since end of May and my brother came to visit me for the past week. I originally have a 3-4 page draft of what we did, but I figured I’d just talk about the highlights.

This trip has been a great bonding experience between my brother and I. Ever since I went to college, I’m sad to say we haven’t really spoken much to each other. There would be the customary calling each other during holidays and birthdays and whenever he had computer problems, I’d be there to help him. I guess my brother and I didn’t really have that much in common. On the other hand, I have a better relationship with my sister as we shared common interests.

I took 2 days off work and we went up to Vancouver and Whistler. You can see our photos on Facebook: Vancouver and Whistler 2010. We also went to see Cirque du Soleil and I took them out to several of my favorite restaurants.

Despite our mom being around, my brother and I actually had quite a bit of alone time to chat. One of the things we talked a lot about was relationships and girls. For some reason, I always found this topic hard to talk with people, especially with family, but my brother made it sound like everyday conversation. It was also a bit weird to be taking relationship advice from my younger brother, but he’s definitely had more experience than me. I think we finally found a common interest/topic we share.

On his last night here, we went out clubbing. It was a crazy night alright and I have a 1cm cut on my forehead to prove it. It’s also actually my first time going clubbing in Seattle. I guess my friends up here aren’t really into clubbing.

As with going out drinking with my brother, if you aren’t careful, you’ll get hammered fast. Fortunately for me, I’m starting to understand where my limit is, though I’m still surprised at how much alcohol I can take in and not get wasted. Within the hour, I had:

  • Long Island Ice Tea
  • Shot of Pitron Silver
  • Whiskey Sour
  • Shot of something that tasted like mint chocolate
  • Midori Sour

My brother also wanted to get me an Adios Motherfucker, but I had decided that was it for me that night. I was preoccupied most of the night looking after someone, but my brother was able to enjoy himself, which is really why we went clubbing. Unfortunately what happened after clubbing is sort of like what happens in Vegas, it remains in Vegas. I can tell you that he had a flight to catch at 5:30am and we didn’t get to leave Seattle until 4:40am. We arrived at the airport at 5am and he actually made his flight.

When I woke up this morning, the fact I was now alone in my house became apparent and feelings of loneliness started to creep in. I tried to sleep it off, but that didn’t really help. I ended up watching episodes of How I Met Your Mother and I think I’m feeling better now. Speaking of How I Met Your Mother, it’s interesting how similar my brother is like Barney. Me being Ted, my brother can be an awesome wingman.

Roller Coaster Ride

You ever get the feeling that your life is on a roller coaster ride? No, I’m not on drugs. Haha. I’m talking about way too much stuff happening way too fast.

For the past few years, my life was like a roller coaster stuck in the middle of its track. Finally at the beginning of this year, someone finally fixed it and hit the green go button. Since then, I’ve been on a non-stop roller coaster ride. Now that I think of it, that someone may actually have been my brother after he got me drunk.

It all started with my 3 New Year resolutions. 2 of them have been semi-achieved already.

I’m happy with my current physique, though I’m continuing to tone my body and maybe even reach 130lbs. I’ve decided growing a 6-pack may be beyond what I’m capable of as several of my friends have warned me.

At work, I’ve been switched to a new project which I’m quite enjoying. My lead and I also have an understanding of what I’m trying to accomplish.

For those who know me well, well, you should probably know what resolution #3 is already. I’ve decided to slow down on that for now. I’ll still continue searching, but not as hard. Life was really a roller coaster ride back then, and let’s just say it caused way too much headaches.

Life has been everything except routine lately. There’s been weddings, family/friends visiting me, flying down to LA, planning a trip to the bay area, my new hair cut, my new style of clothing, and just too many to list.

What really prompted this blog post is that my grandma just passed away. She was really sick and was hospitalized last Friday. Turns out she had a really weird case of leukemia and it was too late for the doctors to do much. I was actually contemplating on flying back this Sunday to see her one last time, but it looks like I didn’t make it in time. I’ll be flying down 2 weeks from now to attend her funeral.

This afternoon I got a text from my sister:

just want to let you etan and mom know that grandma is possibly in her last few moments/ hours so pray for her

My grandma and I weren’t exactly close, but she is probably the grandparent I’ve spent the most time with. She was a really cool grandma, but can be very strict (part of the Chinese culture). It’s definitely sad she passed away and I’ll definitely miss her. I was told she passed away peacefully and that’s good to hear. I’m not quite sure what I’m feeling at the moment, but it’s definitely a mixture of emotions. I’m still not sure I’ve been able to wrap my head around this whole situation.

When life is slow, you can spice it up, throw some excitement into it. But when life is moving too fast, where are the brakes?