Music

Here are my recital pieces, and no I’m not playing them in the youtube clips.

The Pathetique Sonata, 2nd movement.

Asian Dream Song by Joe Hisaishi.

I will be playing it minus the cellos. 

Why am I playing these pieces? I wanted a more classical piece along with a more modern piece. I love Joe Hisaishi, and I AM Asian, and I HAD to have this piece.

The Pathetique is just magnificient. It’s also more classical, and everyone knows it. Everyone who does classical music, that is. 

Wish me luck!

Piano Recitals and Children

Love of Music - red roseMy piano teacher has an annual recital at around the end of June. 

My siblings and I are among her oldest students. We’ve been with her for a while. The funny thing is that the vast majority (about 20-25 people) are small children just learning how to pick out “Twinkle twinkle little star” with one hand. When I’m among them and listening to them play, I feel OLD. But on the other hand, it reminds me of how far I’ve come, even though I still have far to go.

It’s funny, really. I can see that some of these parents except their kids to go from “Mary Had a Little Lamb” to “Moonlight Sonata” within a year. Some of these parents don’t even come to their kids’ recital. Some of these parents praise every single thing their kids do. Some of these parents mix praise and correction, like my parents. 

I know a mother who was trying to teach her daughter piano, but quit. (The mom, not her daughter.) 

“My daughter has no talent.”

How old was her daughter?

Five.

That’s right. Five years old.

I was seven when I started. (Come on…)

What would I say to those little kids? 

Don’t be pressured by those teenagers who can memorize Moonlight Sonata. Or even your mother who claims that she was a prodigy and played in the school band and so wants  you to do it. You’re still young, and you’re still learning. Don’t rush it. Where did those teenagers start? They started by playing “Mary had a Little Lamb” just like you’re doing now. Your mom had to start somewhere, too, even though she probably doesn’t remember it. You’ve got to start somewhere.

Hard work and determination go a long away. Perseverance as well. Don’t give up.

So what if you can’t play Mozart and you’ve been learning for 2 weeks? So what if you can’t play Mozart and you’ve been learning for 2 years?

Don’t give up, and someday you’ll get there.

Clutter

800px-Ringbound_notebookI’m not a very neat person. In fact, I’m very messy. 

This is important, because I”m moving to college in only a matter of months. I will need to pack all my clothes, my cute stationery, my Star wars toys, my pens, and take them all the way to PRovidence College, which is 19 minutes away. And then unload them all into the dorm room where I will be staying, hopefully with a roommate who won’t laugh at me or run shrieking in the other direction.

A few days ago, I was bored, so I started cleaning one of my desk drawers. It took a while. I found out that my habit of dumping random stuff in there to organize “later” was a very good habit. In fact, the amount of stuff I have but don’t even use was frightening.

So I started stressing about packing to college. Then I saw these drawers that have been pushed up against my bed for years and years and years… AACK! Those drawers are filled with tons and tons of stuff that I don’t even use. Stuff that I don’t even look at. Stuff that can only be classified as “stuff” because I don’t even know what they are. What about all the make up I don’t even use and will probably never use? Or the perfume that I got for Christmas but never used? Or the marbles or the balls of  yarn or the rubber artic seal or…

Isn’t it amazing how much junk we have when we really drag it out to look at it? While they’re sitting in their boxes sleeping out the time, they’re also nesting in our brain space, where we worry about where we’re going to put them the next time we move. And then we organize and say, “I have to keep this even though I’m not going to look at it again or even think about it.”

I might as well start packing now.

Look Before You Fall

486372262_6530df5003I was on facebook when I noticed an album labeled “thinspo.” 

For those of you who don’t know what thinspo is, it’s basically what people call thinspiration. It’s what people use to inspire them to get thin. But these pictures consist of emaciated girls whose ribs poke out. A lot of the girls in the pictures look happy. Some of them don’t. 

How could thin = happy for some of us? Is our culture that messed up?

Maybe so.

What those pictures represent to those girls is basically this.

Thinspiration:

Thin-Inspiration

Thinspo, or better known as Thinspiration is used by people who having eating disorders to keep them inspired. Thinspo is usually of photos of skinny or bony celebrities or models. It sometimes takes the forms of celebrities who have lost a great deal of weight. Thinspo can be anything. Book quotes, song lyrics or films.

Thinspo targets young girls who are obsessed with becoming skinny. They have influenced girls who are about to eat, to keep going and strive to get skinnier. Once someone has the idea of being skinny in his or her head it is very difficult to get it out. Even if that person has gone to therapy and has got treated for it, it will always be in the back of their mind.

These pictures are used as a goal for these girls. My friend had one picture of a girl who was all ribs and bones and wrote, “my goal” under it. These goals are not only impossible, they are extremely unhealthy. But try to tell that to someone with an eating disorder. They may know that they could die from this. But at the same time, thin has become everything to them. To let go of it means losing control. And they can’t lose control. 

skeletonOnly sometimes do they realize that they’re really losing control. To the ones that don’t…

I feel guilty because I never really talked to that friend. She was a Facebook friend, nothing more. But should I have been more of a friend to her? I talked to a girl who once knew here. This girl used to be quite active in her church. She used to be doing a lot better…

But that was before now. Now she wants to be skeletal. Now she posts pictures of her arms on her facebook where people can see the wounds. 

Maybe it’s a cry for help. Maybe it’s a signal that I should do more than what I’m doing right now. Maybe I should be more of a friend to her… than just sit back and watch her fall.

In any case, here’s a petition you can sign to ban these sites. I signed it. I can at least do that, for her. If nothing else, I can pray.

If you doubt the seriousness of this, please take a look at this site. It’s a Pro-Ana site, which means that it’s pro-anorexic lifestyle. 

This poem is on the front page:

thinspo

In this section, they teach you how to lie to your doctors and other people so that they won’t suspect that you have an eating disorder.

Here’s just one of the tips.

As you lose weight, your skin will become dry and sallow and it will heal slowly. Make sure that you use LOTS of lotion where it is needed and take a multivitamin. If you lose enough weight, your body will develop lanugo, which is a very fine downy hair that covers your body. It can easily be removed with a mild depilatory followed by hydrocortisone cream.

This is merely a way of disguising the problem so that people won’t suspect that things are going on that shouldn’t be going on. 

They also say that getting a pedicure is a way to distract yourself from the hunger and make yourself feel prettier. 

Here’s something from another section of the site:

Anorexics usually have low self-esteem and sometimes feel they don’t deserve to eat. The anorexics usually deny that anything is wrong. Hunger is strongly denied. They usually resist any attempts to help them because the idea of therapy is seen only as a way to force them to eat. Once they admit they have a problem and are willing to seek help, they can be treated effectively through a combination of psychological, nutritional and medical care.

The pictures that you’ll see when you click “thinspiration” are nauseating. A lot of them are real girls. Several of them are celebrities like Paris Hilton. Lindsay Lohan and Angelina Jolie are other popular celebrities that are used to inspire these girls. 

This is just one of the many sites out there that encourage this lifestyle. There’s also the many xanga blogrings and facebook groups. I even found a blog on wordpress that was very very recently started. Or check out the videos on youtube. 

It’s sad. 

This is what got me started on psychology to begin with. Seeing this reminds me that there’s a very big need. And that I am needed, not as the solution but as part of it.

How Do You Edit?

This is part of an Absolute Write forum challenge.

How I edit: I read the blog post over twice. Then I save it as a draft and put it aside for a while. After a few days, when I decide to post the draft, I’ll read it again to check for any typos and add any links that I forgot to add. 

Sometimes the post gets published and there’s an embarrassing typo. If that’s the case, then I go and catch it as soon as someone tells me. 

Pencil on pad of paperIt also pays to have a sibling or parent or friend look over the post and tell exactly what they think about it. Maybe a sentence was vague. Maybe a statement was phrased awkwardly. They’re good at helping out when it comes to that. Be careful, though. Some people don’t know how to critique and it turns into criticism (this post is terrible),rather than helpful tips and comments (I felt that this sentence was a bit weak. Could you rework this sentence so it is more like…). Critique is not criticism. 

If it is a manuscript or essay that is going out into some magazine to be published, always let it sit for a while before sending it out. 

I also like going over a manuscript with a red pen and marking parts that need improvement.

Anyway, that’s how I edit. Enjoy!

3 Weddings and a Giggle: Review

c19091I had time to kill. So I got a 3 in 1 romance from the library. These are all the so-called “Christian” romance genre. I thought I’d review them for you.

The first story is called “Fine Print,” by Liz Curtis Higgs. 

Speech coach Meghan DeWitt heads to Michigan on business, only to find her agenda turned upside down by tall, handsome printing executive Hugh Osborne. Meghan’s mission is clear: tohelp Hugh overcome his stage fright. But Hugh’s father is on a mission, too: He wants the company’s next printing job to include wedding invitations for his widowed son and the talented Miss DeWitt!

The first thing that struck me about Higgs’ writing style was the quality of it. She is very witty and uses lots of humor. It’s a very sparkling way of writing, and very enjoyable to read. You won’t go “that was an extremely improbable story.” You’ll go, “Oh wow, wasn’t that fun…”

Meghan’s been unlucky in love. She dated a man named Gregory, but he jilted her a month before the wedding. She’s very burnt. Especially since the reason he gave for jilting her was that he was attracted to some other woman. But then Meghan takes a job in speech therapy to help some guy overcome his stage fright. Yes, he’s a hunk.

Meg and Hugh are attracted to each other at first sight. Usually this kind of scenario makes me go, “uhh… what just happened?” but for some reason it doesn’t seem as stupid as it sounds.

The story is told from the perspective of both characters, as well as Hugh’s daughter. That means that it frequently switches from all three characters. Luckily, Higgs manages to do this without making me confused.

One thing I didn’t understand. How did Hugh’s daughter Savannah “know” that Meghan was a “keeper” on their very first meeting?

I was, however, relieved to see that the relationship wasn’t all warmth and happiness. Meghan has to get over her fear of betrayal. Hugh has to not compare her to his late wife.

All in all, a good and satisfying story.

The second story is called “Sweet Chariot.”

Lexie’s grandmother, Opal, and Opal’s best friend, Eunice, two octogenarian daredevils, have outdone themselves! They’ve bought a monstrous motor home, sight unseen. What’s more, they plan to drive the beast from Montana to their Seattle home. So Lexie and Eunice’s obnoxious grandson, Jake, go along. Soon they’re all on the wildest ride of their lives–a ride God uses to teach Jake and Lexie what’s really important in life.

Uhhhh.

This story felt a little flat. Lexie and Hunky Jake hate each other’s guts. After 24 hours in an awful motor home, they start getting attracted to each other. Twu wuv! All of a sudden, he’s making her heart go thumpity thump. He can’t believe how appealing she is. 

rosesThe book was ok written aside from the storyline that still felt awfully awkward. Grammar was good. Descriptions were ok. There’s a lesson on faith that goes throughout the whole story.

I just don’t like the romance.

And I can’t figure out how her hair still smells great after days in the wilderness. Minus showers, of course. Is there something she uses? Or does Jake like the smell of unwashed? Unless unwashed smells like flowers. Because then I want whatever it is she uses.

Good ending, though. 

The third story was called “Bride on the Run.”

Heiress Alexandria Wingate is determined to wait on God where marriage is concerned. Her father, however, waits on no one. Before Alex can say “I don’t!” she’s engaged. Finally she puts her foot down–an hour before her wedding. So it’s out a window and down the rose trellis, wedding dress and all. Alex’s bid for freedom takes her to Oregon, to a place where people get second chances… and to a man who may be the one she’s waited for all her life.

All she has to do is convince him.

The style of writing is certainly very animated. I haven’t read any of Karen Ball’s novels, but it might be worth a try.

Alex is a very well-drawn character. She’s strong, feisty, and spirited. To the point that she’d run away rather than marry someone she doesn’t love. Good going, girl! I think it’s supposed to be set in modern times but the “arranged” marriage made me pause a bit.

There’s an important message about waiting on the Lord as well.

wedding-dress2I got a healthy dose of twu wuv at first sight.

She’d never seen such eyes. Eyes the color of rich,velvety chocolate… the kind you let melt on your tongue as you close your eyes in ecstasy. Eyes that held a wealth of emotion and depth. Eyes that seemed to speak of laughter and wisdom, resolve and determination… and something more. Something indefinably, irrefutably male. 

Oh good, so he’s not a eunuch. 

How did she get all that from looking into his eyes?

As it turns out, he’s something of an idiot.

Sorry.

There has to be a reason why we’re drawn to tales with love at first sight. Where we look at someone and explicably know that they’re the ONE. 

The telling of Alex’s mishaps when she started helping Evan out were rather humorous. Turns out they were taken from the writer’s own experiences as a young bride who didn’t know how to cook. 

It sort of makes me nervous about me when I get married. 

In conclusion, I recommend this collection of novellas. I liked the first and the third. However, don’t read the second, unless you like that sort of thing.

Sushi at Haruki's

contact_east_picOn Saturday, I went to have lunch at Haruki’s with Beth. 

This is definitely a place that I’d go to again. And again. And again.

I am still lusting after that spider shrimp sushi.

The restaurant had a very nice atmosphere. I can’t think of any words to describe it other than relaxing and casual. The decor was very tasteful. The website even says so. Here:

The decor is upscale and minimalist, yet comfortable, with a chi-chi bar in one room and a sleek, curved sushi bar lining one side of the dining area. Walls are bathed in soft greens and blues, with a large, round, etched-glass window as a focal point.

I sat at the sushi bar with its brushed steel surface and watched the cooks roll and chop sushi right in front of us. 

The restaurant was quite busy on that day, and although chiming glasses of ice water appeared at our elbows as soon as we sat down, the waitress didn’t have the time to check whether out water glasses were filled. Though she did her best to make sure that we had all we needed, I felt that maybe Haruki’s was understaffed in regards to staff waiting tables. 

A picture of their sushi, from the website

I don't know, some random sushi from google

The sushi was heavenly. We ordered spider shrimp, tuna and cucumber sushi (tekka/cu maki), and spicy tekka (tuna with some spicy mayonnaise). I haven’t eaten much sushi in my life, ever. The first piece I ate fell apart because I didn’t stuff the whole thing in my mouth. I judged that sushi tastes better when you cram the whole piece in your mouth, rather than eating each ingredient separately.

Random picture of sushi

Random picture of sushi

My favorite was the shrimp sushi, though. It had shrimp, cucumber, avocado inside it, and avocado and masago outside it. Masago is that orange fish egg thing that looks so pretty. 

Eating it = bliss. Heaven. 

Maybe I should close my eyes and behave like those chocolate-eating ladies in the commercials.

Random picture of fried ice cream because I'm making myself hungry.

Random picture of fried ice cream because I'm making myself hungry.

Afterwards, we ordered fried ice cream. I ate the Pocky, Beth ate the whipped cream with strawberries. For some strange reason, the ice cream, which was supposed to be vanilla, tasted like ginger. I’ve never had ginger ice cream before. Beth told me that ginger is supposed to cleanse your palate. So if you’ve eaten so much that everything tastes the same, try some ginger. It will make everything taste like they’re supposed to taste, which means different from each other. But how did ginger get into our fried ice cream? It wasn’t unpleasant, but it wasn’t vanilla.

Would I take my friends here? Yes. Would I recommend this place? Yes. Would I go here again? Yes.

In fact, I want to to Haruki’s again, right now. Never mind that it’s midnight. I’m craving some of that sushi.

I am also going to learn how to cram a piece of sushi in my mouth, because it tastes so much better that way. Come on, taking it apart and eating the shrimp, then the cucumber, then the avocado, then the rice, and then the seaweed… unsatisfying. Sushi must be eaten all together. 

Because it’s sushi.

Another random but pretty sushi picture

Another random but pretty sushi picture