the good, the bad and the ugly

What do you do when you feel down?

a. Listen to emo songs.
b. Go through all the unpleasant stuff that happened in your mind again and again.
c. Make definitive conclusions about how terrible you are and how you appear terrible to others.
d. All of the above.

I’m trying to extend it to an

e. Reflect on the good that happens and focus on learning from the unpleasant stuff.

This takes up quite a lot of willpower and energy not to go back to d. *muscle emoji*

Let’s start with the good stuff. It is kind of unplanned but I went out of my comfort zone.
Firstly, I organized an event which I have never done before for people that I am not really close with. Upon hindsight, I came to the conclusion that I never consider it properly beforehand. For some reason, I just went ahead and regret later. Again and again. Oh, well. This experience taught me a lot and I gained invaluable knowledge. So, Y to the E to the S!
In fact, this “went out of my comfort zone” was the sole positive reason I can think of not to let myself slip into the darkest corner of my weary mind.

Next, I tried GrabShare, a feature where you can share a ride with other passengers in a cab for a cheaper fare. Again, without thinking much, I went ahead and took my chance. It turned out that the other passengers are two friendly girls and together with the driver, the four of us chatted happily. It was an awesome experience and made my morning!

The biggest step I took out of my comfort zone was probably deciding to try out as a Scrum Master. This is a departure from my usual job role and it is the first role of its kind within my department. Thankfully, I have a mentor who loaded me with lots of study materials and is willing to provide advice and guidance whenever I need it. Turns out, the most challenging aspect of being a Scrum Master is the ability to facilitate and to remove impediments to the team. It sounds so easy in writing but it is super difficult. I often find myself either tongue-tied or stuck thinking of what I need to do. It comes with experience and I for sure do not have many. At the moment, I am just doing my best to remain composed and not break out into a panic attack whenever I feel discouraged. However, I also got started in resolving a crucial impediment to the team and hopefully, this can be the best gift for them ( the team )..

Besides that, I recently completed a Japanese drama series titled ‘My Boss My Hero’. It turned out to be my favorite Japanese drama for its super awesome life lessons. When I first started, I didn’t find it really engaging but from episode 3 onwards, I was hooked. It just gets better with every episode and I was completely rooting for the lead character. In a nutshell, it is about this Yakuza ( Japanese gangster ) who has to pose as a 3rd year high school student and passed all the exams in order to succeed his father as the Yakuza’s leader. Being very ignorant and stupid, he initially failed every paper. The delightful aspect of the drama is his journey in learning to love, learning to learn, learning to reach out to others and learning about the beauty of life while struggling to keep his identity a secret. It is really hilarious and engaging at the same time. While he is uncouth as a Yakuza, his ‘high school’ personality is what drew me to him. Although he was ‘forced’ to be polite and humble at first, his inner goodness finally has a chance to develop and he became genuinely wonderful. He may revert to some of his short-tempered and uncouth speech when he is caught in an unpleasant situation ( old habits die hard ) but he is generally just a lost boy. It is interesting to observe him discovering the simple joys in life – such as when he chastised his underling that there is no fun in cheating to get what you want ( his favorite pudding ). Or the way he suddenly asked ‘profound’ questions such as ‘Why is the sky blue?’ when he started liking a fellow classmate. Most importantly, he does what he thinks is right even when it is not the right thing to do under circumstances. For all that, he earns my greatest admiration and also the adjective of being super manly! That’s a first! Have my preferences changed? :p

Inspired by his high school experience and his love for learning, I see my Scrum Master studies as something similar. He has to learn and study quite a number of subjects to pass high school. I don’t have to but I wanted to study and learn something new too. So, I find myself enrolling in two online courses: ‘Buddhism and Modern Psychology’ offered by Princeton University and ‘Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills’ offered by University of Michigan via Coursera. I will do my best to complete the course and pass, hopefully. 😀

One more thing! This is a humbling experience and it made me re-evaluate myself. So, I was chatting with one of my colleagues. He is very young with a friendly smile. We were talking for a bit and I was trying to guess which of the girls in the office that he might like. And I narrowed it down to a specific department, simply because it has the most suitable age appropriate ladies for him ( as mentioned, he is very young ). His question then caught me by surprise. “Why do you think I will only like <race> girls?” Honestly, I felt really humbled. I always considered myself to be very open but I realized then that I just made a racist analysis. It is not the first time anyway ( with him, but it was another convo ) but this time it struck me hard. Luckily, he is very nice and proceeded to share some of his cool personal experiences which made me go wow!

Before I wrap up this post (which has gotten pretty long), I’d like to bring up some random thoughts. One of our colleagues was away on holiday and I asked another co-worker if she misses him. Her pointed reply was: “He is coming back, right? So, there is no need to miss him.” That got me thinking and reflecting. It really fits in with the phrase, you will only appreciate something when it is gone. Or you know that it is going to be gone.

Is it legit to be mad at someone who only (openly) appreciates you upon knowing that you will be gone? Or should you have felt happy instead because that shows that the person finally realizes the importance of your presence? I would say, it doesn’t matter because it will not matter in 10 years. Take that from someone who has been there, done that. *hits chest with right fist twice*

yay yay yay

Exciting times!

Today has been very exciting, despite some uncertainty.

I usually refer to people when I need validation or approval. More often than most people, as I like things to be done right and correctly. Today, I stopped myself, and chose to believe in myself. It felt like I was given an opportunity to lead and so I should do my best within reasonable judgment instead of running back to my superior over every little thing. It was hard but I just kept going. I really hope I will not screw up too much. Even if I failed, I think I would be able to learn something.

There were visitors from a local university and one of the visiting students looked very similar to me. When my colleagues alerted me of this doppelganger, I was stunned. It felt a bit odd looking at someone who looked so much like myself. My first instinct was to run away. Well, technically, I returned back to my seat. But as many people are aware, they began ‘redirecting’ back to me. Telling me one by one of how this girl looks exactly like me. When HR brought the group over, I was politely requested to stand up to show myself. It was quite an unusual event and everybody was smiling and laughing. I just smiled back. I don’t know why, but it just felt weird looking at myself. =p

I had pilates today and I didn’t know what to have for dinner. Coincidentally, there were a group of us and so the idea of ordering dishes sprang up. I was caught between getting something ala carte so that I can leave for pilates earlier and ordering dishes. I chose the latter. So, I ended up 25 minutes late for my pilates class but I did not regret it. I enjoyed my dinner and the camaraderie between my colleagues. It felt really good! We had soup, vegetables, bean curd and mushroom. Yum yum! Anyway, I apologized to my pilates instructor for my lateness and his cheerful response really made my day. He said, what matters is I came. ^^ Better late than never! This is why I really enjoy my pilates class. The senior who makes the most noise teasingly remarked that I was super early for class today. Ha ha ha

Okay, I saved the best for the last! I have been studying Hiragana, one of the Japanese character sets and I have also been watching Gochisousan, a Japanese drama. At the end of every episode, there is a picture of someone enjoying his/her meal and some Japanese characters. It just so happened that I was studying the characters and to my delight, I can read them!!! Well, not all, since I haven’t studied them all but I have learned enough to make out the chi-so-u-sa-n characters!!! Well, the font for so was so off that I could hardly recognise it. Still, I consider that an accomplishment! I could also make out the word ‘o-i-shi’. Delightful! =)

 

raya hols and the heat

A rather unique week it was!

I took a day off from work and plus the two raya public holidays, I got myself a 5 day weekend. Splendid! Yen and I carpooled back to Taiping and had a smooth drive, thankfully. It was a good session of catching up and me playing DJ. I was pretty terrible at it though, haha. But practice makes perfect! =p

On my first day back home, you would have thought I slept away all my weariness. Oh no I did not! My dad recommended a few movies and I ended up watching ‘Bird on a Wire’ with him. It was an old movie but still exciting. I get to see the young Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. Not to mention, caught up with the Chinese dramas that my family was following. The title is rather funny: The Three Heroes and Five Gallants. I suppose I enjoyed it because the word ‘gallant’ reminded me of Jiraiya ( character from Naruto ).

The next day, I did something new: Hiking up Maxwell Hill with Yen. Okay, honestly, we did not hike up the entire hill, just halfway. We made it to the third hut (check points). I was panting hard and out of breath. Yen, however, was just chill and steady. Oh man, I need to do more cardio exercises! I had a good sweat though! ^^   Aside from the green foliage, steep slopes and lots of much older people passing through, there is an interesting incident. Before we got started, I was careless with my speech and spoke a little too publicly (and loudly?) about Yen’s purse whereabouts and the mini bag I held which was used to put my water bottle. A random uncle with a small black folded umbrella chipped in to chide that I should take an umbrella instead because you never know when it might rain. Stunned, Yen and I merely gave cordial smiles and proceeded to walk up but no, he was not finished. He then cheerfully invited us to join him in the hiking trail instead. FYI, there is a bitumen-ed road where one can walk up to the top or use a hiking trail instead. Shaking our heads and politely declining, we continued our journey.  So, we walked up and up till the third hut and descended. While we passed the second hut, the random uncle was resting there with some other people. He spoke out again to us, this time, jokingly asking if we ran up since we seem to be fast. He was blissfully ignored. Yen and I ended our adventure with a refreshing sugarcane drink (for her) and coconut water (for me). It reminded me of  Kuching’s wondrous mix of sugar cane and coconut water. The combo was exquisite and thirst quenching. I missed it!

Now, I should probably mention that it was also very hot. I’ve gotten quite used to it, fortunately. My next activity would be exploring Gochisousan. It is an ‘asadora’ japanese drama, meaning the drama mostly focuses on a heroine’s life, either in a modern contemporary setting or from small to old. The English name of this J drama, Bon Appetit, is about the latter. Anne Watanabe (Ken Watanabe’s daughter) plays Meiko, a little girl with a passion for eating who blossoms into a young lady whose passion switches to cooking delicious food for the people she loves. It is an endearing drama with lots of life lessons and not to mention, good food! Heavily recommended by my father, I was soon hooked (sadly the english subtitles only begins from ep 25 onwards ). Notable mention would be the height of the main characters. It is pretty rare to have such a lanky leading lady (whopping 175cm) and the leading gentleman (amazing 189cm!!!).

Besides that, my family got to meet up with some relatives who have been traveling around and it is kind of sad to see the young kid saying “Taiping has nothing”. What do you know? Anyhow, it has been a rather quiet affair. I did not initiate any meetings or approach any of my friends for a meet up, though I did think about it. Sometimes, I feel like I want to and I need to but I just ended up hiding in my house. If it were not for Yen, I probably would be in my house only. Next time. Though, I am not sure if I am already a stranger to my friends by then…..

If you would like to know, the trip back to KL was slightly congested. We did heard a loud thud. I turned and saw the front of the car glued to the back of another. Oh my….it is a minor knock though Yen was asking, how can this accident happen when we are literally crawling on the road? We made it back safely and all is well. It is hot in KL too.

Looking forward to tomorrow! 2 new colleagues will be joining us!

 

descendants of the sun

It’s been a long week.

After I completed Descendants of the Sun, I listened to the soundtracks and actually wrote a post and saved it in a draft. At least I thought I did. Sadly, when I came back to continue, the draft was missing. I felt annoyed and didn’t come back till today.

Still, I enjoyed the drama very much! It was a breath of fresh air from the usual Korean dramas. It made me think quite a bit,  reflect a little and laugh a LOT. I don’t know if I am inexperienced but there is a lot of creativity in the jokes and romance section.

Especially the famous “I don’t know if I should confess or apologize”, the copy-what-the-other-say-or-did and the “ghost-eating” scene. Even the “Music really changes everything” public confession scene had me grinning like a mad woman. =p

I enjoyed how the drama is deprived of common life dramas. Maybe because the premise is somewhat different, seeing as the main characters are soldiers and doctors, it became more philosophical. Each has their own core values regarding their profession and their own moral integrity. That’s where the conflict lies and it is wonderful to watch their willingness to evaluate, adapt and sometimes bend over in order to do what is right and honorable.

The acting was excellent and the chemistry among the characters delightful. Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

1. Big Boss aka Captain Yoo Shi Jin and Wolf aka Deputy Leader Sergeant Major Dae Seo Young
Their friendship is enviable and desirable. Mutual respect, loyalty and tender loving care for one another. Life is never dull whenever they are together. One of my favorite moments are when they are on a ‘double date’ with their plush toys. XD
I found this article which compiles most of their funny antics!
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2. Doctor Song Sang Hyun and Nurse Ha Ja Ae
I always knew something was up between the two. Although they constantly bicker, it was really because they are very close. They simply light up the screen whenever they are around. Goofy and endearing. My favorite moment has gotta be when he joined the soldiers’ morning jog. Ja Ae’s stunned expression is worth every sweat drop! =p
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3. Big Boss and Dr Kang
Since they are the main hero and heroines, they definitely have the best spark, right from the first episode. I love how they both grow and gravitate towards one another. Their relationship best exemplifies the phrase “Imitation is the best form of flattery”. One of my favorite moment is when her dying confession is broadcasted to the entire world. The horrified look on her face and the amused look on his face is worth rewatching over and over again! Also, the ghost scene was clever and wonderfully executed with perfect timing. Best of all, I like how they have sincere and honest discussions with one another. Not to mention, lots of compliments and flattery as well that can give you diabetes! ^^
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Aside from that, part of the drama feels a bit like a documentary too. The destruction and tension during a natural disaster, the challenging search and rescue efforts by volunteers, the diseases that followed after and the post traumatic stress disorder effects are covered pretty well. There are a few heart wrenching moments which made me feel really grateful for what I have. The scene where they all ducked and hid under the table upon the slightest tremor felt was a really good portrayal of how the earthquake affected them.

Last but not least, excellent soundtracks. I got myself acquainted with most of them, with my favorite being Once Again by Mad Clown and Kim Na Young. I really enjoyed listening to Kim’s voice and Mad Clown’s rap. So much pining, longing and regret. Maybe it reflects how I feel about some things, I suppose. Balancing up the emotional feelings is Talk Love by K. Will, a delightful song with memorable whistling which will surely lift anyone up. I found this great article which did a fantastic job in listing and describing each soundtrack. And I also found this youtube playlist of the soundtracks with lyrics in both Korean and English. Internet is really amazing!

sunset or sunrise?

Hello there! I’m back with a mid drama review of Descendants of the Sun. I’m halfway through, done with episode 9/16.

It has been a roller coaster ride, I must say! What started out as light and delightful became intense and deep. The first episode was like the honeymoon where everything is whimsical and exciting. The second episode onward is where reality makes its grand appearance. Now, since I mentioned ‘mid drama review’, there WILL be spoilers so you may stop reading at this point. But if you are interested to know what I think, go on!

** Be forewarned that this is going to be a long post. **

In short, our characters are now well-acquainted and faces a dilemma. Main guy, Big Boss is a soldier who cannot divulge much info about his work because of military rules. However, he is very honest about his feelings, convictions and thoughts. He gives her plenty of space (and jokes) too. Main girl, Dr Kang, finds Big Boss very charming and also very dangerous. His job’s nature affects her a lot and she is unable to settle her feelings. Aside from their issues, the secondary couple, Wolf and Army Surgeon is also moving along at a snail rate. We get to learn more about their relationship history. To put it simply, Army Surgeon’s dad is a 3 Star General who has his eyes set on Big Boss as his potential son-in-law and ‘hinted’ to Wolf to back off willingly or he will command that. So Army Surgeon keeps going after Wolf who is running away from her because he feels that he cannot win against a father’s sincere wishes.

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Wolf and Army Surgeon VS 3 Star General Dad

I used their nicknames because I find it easier to follow than if I were to use their Korean names. If someone is not familiar with the drama, one might find it hard to trace who is who as they read along.Okay so moving on, we can cheer for joy at episode 9 because Dr Kang finally decides to give the relationship a go! The 3 Star General dad finally gives Wolf permission to date his Army Surgeon daughter, with a condition. Of course, nothing really ends with a happy ever after in reality. Pffft. But, the drama has not ended and so there should be good news later on. It IS a drama after all, right? Enough with these two couples.

The other side characters have interesting developments as well. My favorite would be the friendship between Senior Nurse and Senior Doctor. Their banters always put a smile on my face because they are just so natural and witty! I love how cool and steady Senior Nurse is and even more amazed at how amazing Senior Doctor is when he is being a doctor. Senior Doctor seems to be trolling or pulling people’s legs when he is in normal mode but when there is a medical crisis, you can really count on him. As Senior Nurse says it clearly ( and i paraphrase), he may be useless at times but he is the BEST when he is being a doctor. Oh, I really do wish they would end up together. Such a cute bickering couple!

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Senior Doctor and Senior Nurse 😀

Okay, I’ve covered the characters. Now, to the intense and deep part. This drama gives us a slice of life peek into scenarios which we normally would not encounter or consider. We tend to assume everything falls in a linear fashion and only see our own lives in 3D. I, for example, before this drama, thought of soldiers as people who go to war or protect the country from attackers. I think of doctors as people who cures sick people. Simple as that.However, two incidents in this drama gave me something to ponder about. So, a simple background: Dr Kang and her medical team are in the fictional country of Uruk because the hospital they were working for is building an eco power plant there. I have no idea the need to send doctors but we can ignore that. Big Boss, on the other hand, is stationed with his army team in Uruk as part of their break. No idea as well why, but from their(soldier’s) point of view, not having to work on ‘dangerous / critical’ missions counts as a break.

First incident is when a VIP (prominent Arab leader) makes an emergency landing at their Medi Cube ( cute name for their base). Unconscious and in a critical stage, he could die soon if he is not treated. Dr Kang wants to operate on him but the VIP’s bodyguards refused. They wanted to wait until the VIP’s personal doctor arrive. Meanwhile, the Korean heads are telling Big Boss not to get involved. If the VIP dies, the doctor can take the blame. Sensitive diplomacy indeed! So, should she operate on the VIP? If she doesn’t, he will surely die within 20 minutes. If she does, and if the VIP really dies on the operating table, who is to take the blame? Even if she really gets blamed, she is a Korean and the Korean government will be facing hostile enemies from the Arab region. To make matters worse, high profile leaders’ medical histories are hidden / blanked out to protect them and Dr Kang really has to analyze and evaluate the VIP’s medical condition on the fly. I won’t tell you what the decision is but it is an honorable one. =)

Second incident is during the unforeseen 6.7 magnitude earthquake where the eco power plant collapses and many workers are injured and stuck inside. Of course, our heroes, Big Boss and Wolf ( brotherhood ftw! ) work hard to rescue trapped workers and search for as many survivors as possible. The medical team is also kept busy administering first aid and saving as many lives as they can. One particularly heart-wrenching scene is when two trapped workers’ lives intersect. Old man Manager Go is at the bottom, where his body is crushed by a big slab of concrete, which connects to a narrow metal pole which strikes right through a young worker’s lungs. It misses the heart and is very close to the spine. The young worker is still alive and responding but is suffering greatly. Big Boss lets Dr Kang evaluate both of them and then calmly tells her that they can only save one. Any attempt to remove either the concrete slab or the metal pole will affect the other. Faced with this moral dilemma, Dr Kang does not know how to decide. She gives her analysis of their conditions and asks Big Boss to decide on the best decision. He sternly but nicely tells her that there is no best decision, they are only doing their best given the circumstances and she must choose who to save. Implicitly, the one with the highest survival rate. It really pains her, and me too.

Some muses from the drama:
1. We are never really satisfied. In the beginning, Army Surgeon was depressed because Wolf does not anwer her calls and runs away from her. Then, when Wolf finally answers her calls, gives her a one sided arm hug and some responses, Army Surgeon gets mad because he would not hold her hand properly or something. Aigoo….

2. We are only honest when we are near the end of our lives. Or at least, when we have a close brush with death. Dr Kang will only admit her feelings out loud when she thought she was going to die. But then again, maybe it is only during those near death experiences which gives you mental and emotional clarity. It could be too late, sometimes. Hmm…

3. I’m digging the friendship between Big Boss and Wolf. They are such close friends and good buddies. Their interactions and chemistry are so …desirable. It would be wonderful to have such a friendship. But then again, they are men. I don’t think it would apply well to women. Their friendship style, I mean……

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i think our lives will be more fun and bearable if we have friendships like them.

With this, ends the review session of the first half of the drama. It is definitely a breath of fresh air from the usual love stories and conflicts that we generally see from dramas. As usual, I can’t help but to read the episode by episode recap with screenshots from Dramabeans after I’m done. They write really well and point out a lot of things which I’ve missed. Look for Descended From the Sun (KBS, 2016) and you will see 16 links to each of the episodes. I would very much love to continue watching, but I will be rational and go to sleep. I have work and I am glad I don’t have to make such difficult decisions in my job.

Thanks for reading!  =)

p/s: One important point I gain from Dramabean’s recap: Dr Kang is unsure because a soldier’s job puts their lives in danger and so it means Big Boss might die early. However, we don’t really know what is going to happen next. Just because your job seems safer does not mean you will die at a ripe old age, you see. What’s important is that if you found someone who you love and who loves you back, you should not delay. Every moment together is a blessing.

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Big Boss tying boot laces for Dr Kang. Cue for “i care for you and please take care”.

thoughts on descendants of the sun pilot episode

It’s been almost a week (or a week)! I’ve fully recovered from the neck and arm aches caused by the Bubble Sport. Had a long nap this afternoon and am feeling refreshed. Especially after watching the pilot episode of Descendants of the Sun. =p

The last time I watched a Korean drama was in 2012 so it’s been a while. After observing all the hype surrounding the drama and being surprised at the people who watched it (obviously these are the people who I never expect will watch), my interest grew.

AND I MUST SAY, IT HAS BEEN A HIGHLY AMUSING AND APPEALING PILOT EPISODE!!!

I never expected this from a Korean drama. The plot wasted no time in letting the main characters meet and interact. The chemistry was right there! From the way their eyes looked at each other, to the obviously NOT-VERY-SUBTLE flirtatious lines, I spent most of the time either chuckling or grinning myself silly. It was all very smooth and charming, and not too cheesy. Maybe some would think it is too fast or too easy but hey, if both parties have excellent chemistry and the desire to see each other again, what can stop them, right?

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*** WARNING!! SPOILERS AHEAD BUT IT WON’T SPOIL TOO MUCH I PROMISE! ***

Their commitment to their responsibilities. Unlike the usual drama plots where the main leads took episodes to finally go on a date, everything unfolds in the first episode itself!

They already know they like each other. They even set up ‘dates’ to see each other again. Granted, it is an appointment to sanitize a wound but still, that counts as a date! In the calendar, of course. XD But, because she has an emergency operation, she missed the appointment. And the next date fails because he had to go on duty.

Suddenly, this drama feels like it is taking on a more heavy sub-context. Behind the main leads’ beauty and suaveness, it indirectly ‘educates’ the audiences that there are other things more important than your crush. Your duty comes first. Well, in their case, it is a matter of life and death AND national security so they obviously can’t say “Sorry, I need to go on a date”.

Moral matters aside, let’s discuss about their dialogue. It really amazes me how they can maintain their cool and speak so casually when they should clearly be having butterflies in their stomach! I mean, come on, you are on the phone with someone you like and “who seems to like you too” and you don’t fluster? No ummms and aahs, just pauses. Long pauses. I love the way he teases her – where his sentences can be interpreted in two ways and she of course, assumes the romantic notion. He would then pretend to refer to the ‘other’ notion and she, although caught off guard, knows how to cover, too. Their encounters and words sparring delight me to no ends.

Oh, and that famous scene where he flicks the phone off her as she was speaking and gracefully catches it when it falls? I still think it is rather rude but it is a drama after all. The main lead always gets away with it and still gets the girl. Typical!  They should put a subtitle subtext which says “Please do not try this at home or anywhere UNLESS someone steals your phone”.

With that, I can’t wait to watch episode 2. Did I mention that I love their chemistry? Yes, I did and I will say it again. Their chemistry is DEFINITELY ONE of the many reasons why I will continue to watch and if you haven’t, you should, too. *winkwink*