All posts by gotpooned

Hi, my name is Elaine Poon. I was born in Hong Kong, I moved to San Jose when I was 2, and I am a recent UCLA grad. Basketball, yoga, photography, and rock climbing are only a few of my loves in life. I dream of one day traveling the world and I yearn to be more than another face in the crowd. Here is my collection of stories, thoughts, and photographs to share to you.

If this were my PS…

If this were my PS, I would start it in this way.

I would have an attention grabbing sentence, one that captivates my reader;

Perhaps a scene from my life, or some shocking dialogue.

 

If this were my PS, I would use it to tell a story.

I would create it in a way that shows some larger theme, one that may not actually have been obvious when the event happened.

Yet, if this were my PS, the act of brainstorming, creating, and writing about that theme would actually teach me something new about myself.

 

If this were my PS, I am not sure what I would talk about.

But if this were, in fact, my PS, I know that I would eventually find something interesting to say (I hope).

2 Months & Some: Stream of thoughts

Hello friends and fam,

It’s been a little over 2 months since I’ve left US and moved to Beijing. My hope to keep better logs of my time here has all gone down the drain. GoPro vids have been scarce and blogging has been nonexistent, but here I am.

It’s funny, I’ve been spending the last two months helping students figure out their futures, teaching them how to write, teaching them to think deeply about themselves.. yet I have done none of that myself. I still suck at writing, and I have no real revelations since my time in China.

Life In General

My life has been pretty simple, and maybe that’s the way it should be. I work, eat, sleep, drink (occasionally work out) and repeat. Tbh, I probably drinking more on a daily basis than I ever did during my senior year of college. This can be viewed one of two ways: either I was a super lame college senior, or drinking culture righnow is too cray. This reminds me, if I don’t start working out again, I’m gonna be majorly 胖.

Work

Work life is tough, but I am managing. Apparently it is going to get even tougher come October/November, so you may have to wait another 2+ months for updates. Haaalp. These past two days, I’ve stayed at the office past 9PM and I know this is only the start of it. You know its rill when you  have to be the one to turn off all the lights and A/C’s in the office. 我的生活很难。

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I haven’t had much of a chance to explore much of Beijing. Of the tourist sights, I have only gone to the Forbidden city. HOWEVER, I guess I have one piece of major news: I will be buying a motor scooter this weekend. Yes, Elaine will be hitting the streets of Beijing after this weekend, and 北京人 should be afraid.

My social life revolves around my coworkers. Thank goodness I like them. However, I’m still tryina insert myself into the rest of Beijing b/c you can only handle so much student talk inside and outside of the office, especially when your ass is working until 9PM and you go out to happy hour with the coworkers afterwards. I say this, but on those days that I miraculously leave the office at 6, I just wanna go home and burrow in my bed with chips and Masterchef. Sadly, that is usually what happens. Give me some credit though, I did join a co-ed flag football team as an attempt to broaden my social circle. Moment to brag: Over the course of one game I went from being that one girl no one knew, to that someone everyone in the league knew because I scored mad TD’s for my team. We lost both our games, but wadddupppp. Destroying gender stereotypes and one upping boys in sports since ’94.

Reflections

Beijing is where I should be right now. Today, I had a meeting with my student and his parents to discuss the progress of his college applications. After our conversation, his mom says to me that the past 2 months since her son started working with me, he has never been happier. He looks forward to coming to the office to meet with me and has had a great experience learning about himself and working on his application with me. She then said that her son really loves spending time with me and that she is extremely grateful for my help. This all happened right after my boss, the family, and I decided to take a selfie together to commemorate the ending of an awesome meeting. While I sometimes have extreme moments of frustration at work, times like this remind me that it is all worth it. I love my kids and I’m generally enjoying myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stressed as fuck about 90% of the time, but it’s good. I’m learning, growing, and having amazing experiences that staying in the US would not have provided me. This is where I should be and here’s a reminder of that to look back on in October, when major shit hits the fan. #fml #wishmeluck #bai #再见

 

Full Circle

Right before takeoff to New York, I logged onto Facebook to kill some time. At the top of my feed was one of there memory posts. You know what I’m talking about? Those posts that remind you of your old posts from that exact day, years ago. Today’s was crazy. As I sat on the plane excited but mostly having last minute doubts about my decision to spend the next year in Beijing, I saw the post. I saw the post from two years ago when I announced to all Facebook friends that I was just about to hop on a plane to spend the next 6 months in Asia.

Seeing that could not have come at a better time and I was suddenly overcome with a sense of calm. I began remembering how freaked out I was then, but how amazing of an experience I ended up having. I remembered how sad I felt when it was all over, and how months after my return to the US, I was still reliving my memories by continuously retelling the stories.

I had no idea what to expect when I studied abroad two years ago and today, I have absolutely no idea what to expect from my year working in Beijing. But seeing the parallels, I can’t help but be sure that this experience is going to be equally as special. I am now more excited than I am scared. I know it’s not going to be easy, especially in the beginning, but I know that it is ultimately going to be worth it. No matter what, no matter whether I become a complete loner because I can’t make friends 😂😂 or I end up not liking Beijing (which I highly doubt, but it could happen!) it’s still going to be a great time and a great learning experience because I am going to make it so.

Stay tuned for more updates (: for now, bye Cali. It’s gonna be awhile before I’m back for you. But for you East coast folks, I’ll actually be in NY / Boston for the next two weeks before Beijing, so please hit a girl up!

Promise to Myself

Recently, one of my best friends said something that stuck with me. She said that she had lost touch with her creative side and needed to find some sort of outlet to let her artistic side thrive. Her words made me realize that I, too, have lost touch with my own creative side.

I am a terrible with art. I can’t draw, I can’t do crafts. Heck, I still remember when my basketball teammates in high school made fun of me for sewing letters straight through my sweats during one of our team bonding activities where we were making personalized clothes. “You get straight A’s but you can’t sew “Poon” on some sweats?!” they said.

Despite all that, there was one type of art that somewhat made sense to me, and that art is photography.

I bought my DSLR back in high school, a very basic Canon Rebel XSI. In fact, that is the camera I still use. Well, when I say use, I mean own. That thing has been gathering dust in my room for awhile now. The last time I put that thing to use was when I studied abroad about 1.5 years ago.

I really miss photography and I have made a promise to myself that I will get back into it this year, especially since I’ll be traveling to Beijing soon. This post is so that I go through with it. I even created a Flickr account today to motivate myself (link at the bottom).

I’ll also be exploring film photography as well as videography with my GoPro so stay tuned for that as well!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/epoon

Nature is Awesome

After last week, I completely understand why people choose to go on backpacking trips over car camping. I went on a baby backpacking trip with one of my best friends last week to celebrate our graduation / have one last hurrah before I left Los Angeles to head home in preparation for my one year adventure in Beijing. I had my doubts that we would actually go through with the trip, and boy am I glad that we did.

Day 1

Since the beginning, we both had our uncertainties about how prepared we were for the trip. Although we had both been doing our research, neither of us had gone backpacking before. When we arrived at the ranger station in Bishop to pick up our wilderness pass, it seemed the ranger had his doubts too. Thankfully, he was awesome and he helped us out by giving us a heads up about the weather conditions / trail conditions (which initially freaked us the fuck out). He told us there was a huge stream we could potentially fall into, and how there had been snow storms and 40 mph winds in the area. After talking to him, Ashley and I both knew that we needed to hit up the local outdoor adventures shop and there, we bought gloves, an extra layer, a compass, and a trail map (all of which ended up being useful except for the compass, which we should have for safety purposes anyways) Thanks, Ranger John.

After that, we were on our way into the mountains. Day 1 consisted of car camping at the base of the trail so that we would be fresh for the trek the next day. That night, holy shit. The wind was blowing super hard and it was cold. V cold. We had bought this backpacking stove and the wind was so bad that it kept blowing out our stove fire. It was such a bitch. When it was time to wash dishes, we realized that we had nothing to wash them with. Ingeniously, we thought of cutting up one of Ashley’s old towels in her car to use as a makeshift sponge. It worked… somewhat adequately. We retreated into the semi-warmth of our tent pretty early on for a game of banana grams and light reading before going to be early, in preparation for waking up at 5AM to begin our trek.

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Lessons learned: Use rocks to help block wind and contain the fire. Bring a sponge / soap because washing dishes with your hands sucks.

Day 2

There was no wind that morning so cooking breakfast was a breeze. I was proud of us. We actually got our asses out of bed at 5:30AM and were packed up and ready to go by 7:51AM, which is when we began our trek. The first 10 minutes both of us were like, holy shit. This is going to be fucking hard. Taking a day hike for 6 miles is much different than carrying 30lbs on your back and walking the same distance. Our bodies needed time to adjust and the beginning of the trek was such a struggle, but so worth.

Here are some of the sights we saw:

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After successfully conquering the stream that Ranger John warned us about, a few double backs over a river, many rest breaks and uphill climbs later, we finally arrived at Dingleberry Lake which would be our home for the next day.

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At 11,000 feet, we were virtually alone. There were two other groups of backpackers up there, but the area was so large that we found our own area near a small stream to set up camp. It was so peaceful up there with the only audible sounds being the sounds of running water, rustling trees, and the barking of a fellow backpacker’s dog. Up there, you truly feel like a part of nature and it was while I was sitting up there admiring snowcapped peaks and still lakes that I fully understood why people endure smelly clothes, heavy packs, and extreme weather conditions to do this. Pictures really don’t do the beauty justice.

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Lessons learned: Chicken risotto flavored freeze dry food is disgusting. Freeze dry food = made in the bag = NO DISHES ((((: Find a campsite by running water because it makes cooking much more convenient. Beware that you might poop in the same place as your friends. Dig big holes for your poop to avoid missing. Lul.

Day 3

By this time, we felt like pros. We woke up at 5:30AM again and got packed and ready to go by 7:30AM, even though we took our time drinking tea by the lake. Day 3 was a breeze. Our packs were lighter and everything was downhill. Elevation changes make such a big difference! This day, we barely took any breaks and got back to our car in 3 hours. The day before, we had taken about 6. I don’t deny that we were being total millennials obsessed with documenting everything with the perfect picture appropriate for IG (probably accounting for a majority of the 6 hours), but I don’t deny that we were also struggling and needed those breaks. Cutting our time down by 3 hours, though, was super surprising.

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Lessons learned: Decreasing elevation rocks. Lighter packs make all the difference.

Thanks, Eastern Sierras, for an amazing time and special shout out to Anthony’s Grill, an absolutely delicious Mexican joint halfway between LA and Bishop. If you ever make that drive, stop by that place. Ashley and I did. Twice. And we have no ragrets.

When Laziness Works In Your Favor

You read things on the news and learn about all the horrible shit that is going on around the world. You read about it, and go about your day as you normally would. Out of sight, out of mind. You never expect things to happen to you and when it does, you almost have no idea how to react.

This morning I lagged getting out of bed, perusing Facebook as I laid under the comfort of my blankets. Thirty minutes later than planned, I finally dragged myself out of bed and got ready for my day. As I was just about to head out the door, my half asleep roommate says, “There’s a shooting on campus” before casually taking her dog outside for a pee. I stood there a little confused about the situation, contemplating whether I should just go to campus anyway. I remember thinking, how serious could it really be?

I don’t think the gravity of the situation really hit us until we started getting more and more updates, and more and more worried friends / family texting us to see if we were okay. We found a live KTLA feed of our campus and saw footage of our campus swarming with police cars and SWAT vehicles filled with armed officers. None of it seemed real to us.

I’m glad that I am okay and all of my friends are okay. I’m glad that it wasn’t a mass killing as many of us feared when rumors rapidly began to spread about how there were 4 shooters in all the different parts of campus or how the shooters were spotted running from Kerckhoff to Bunche, etc. But, people really need to watch what they say in situations like this. Like seriously, how the fuck did those rumors start and where did people get that information? It really screws with people and that isn’t okay.

This incident also made me realize two things.

Firstly, unexpected things can happen anywhere at anytime, but that doesn’t mean that we should live in fear, especially not in the fear of dying or any other terrible thing that the news teaches you to be afraid of. Even in times like this, I want to trust humanity a little, especially as I witnessed the other side of things during this tough time, the side where fellow Bruins, friends, and family united with one another and made sure everyone was okay. Heck, we even housed a few random students from my roommate’s class for a few hours because they were too scared to walk home. Life is too unpredictable to waste it living in fear. Be adventurous and satiate whatever curiosities you have, even if they scare you a little. Obviously don’t be dumb about it and throw yourself into stupid situations, but just take the necessary precautions and go for it.

Secondly, I was reminded of the amazing people I have surrounded myself with over the years. To all the people that took the time to text me to make sure I was okay, thank you. During such a scary situation, you don’t know how comforting it was to receive messages from ya’ll  letting me know that you were thinking about me and here for me with whatever I need. I love you all and truly appreciate having you all in my life.

Anyways, the timing of today’s situation was absolutely crazy. If I would have left my apartment at the time I had planned to, I would have gotten on campus just as all the craziness started. I don’t even know what I would have done or where I would have gone. I guess I have my morning laziness and my warm, comfortable bed to thank for helping me avoid that situation. #TYlaziness&warmbed

And on that note, I’m out. My bed + Netflix awaits. ✌🏽

 

 

Spring Quarter 2016 Recap

Life is really good. With this being my last quarter at UCLA and everything, I’ve really committed myself to the “I’m going to do absolutely everything” mindset.

Weekend 1: Basketball tournament in San Diego. Although we lost 2 out of 3 games, I had such a blast. I definitely felt as if I got to know some of the NSU basketball girls a little better and felt much closer to them than I was before.

Weekend 2: China Care Staff Retreat. It was really nice exploring the Sherman Oaks area of SoCal. Ashley and I didn’t feel up for the laser tag portion of retreat, so we walked around and stumbled upon the Urban Outfitter Surplus store. I still remember how her walking speed suddenly sped up to twice what it was before and how her eyes lit up when she saw it. I don’t blame her though. EVERYTHING WAS SO. CHEAP.

Weekend 3: Coachellaaaaaaaa. What a weekend. I had a blast third wheeling with my friends Amy and Inje allllll weekend and am truly grateful that they did not mind one bit. I will never forget when we sneaked out beer from the beer garden and the level of inebriation we experienced because of it.

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There are also two very specific moments of Coachella that I will never forget. During those moments, I felt as if absolutely everything was right in the world. The first one was during Of Monsters And Men. We were near the back where there was ample room for people to move around. I remember looking around to see that everyone around me was dancing, laughing, and smiling without a care in the world. The second moment I won’t forget is when Edward Sharpe closed his set with “Home”. Every single person in the crowd was singing along and as I observed everyone around me, it gave me goosebumps as I realized the hundreds of people who were all enjoying this one, very specific memory with me. We were all brought together to that moment because of our mutual love for music. Ain’t that a beautiful thought?

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Weekend 4: Moar basketball, free swipes, and studying. What can I say, I’ve played a lot more ball these past two quarters and have made some underclassmen friends in the process. Free. Swipes. FTW. Also, these two quarters have reminded me of why I love basketball so much. I regret not playing more in college!

Weekend 5: Joshua Tree. After Spring break, my obsession with hiking and the outdoors has intensified. Some of my favorite moments of this trip:

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1) Taking our sweet ass time and not being able to find a campsite at our location of choice, yet all being chill about it and just going with the flow.

2) Getting to the campsite to realize we had nothing to cut wood with and no lighter fluid to make a fire with.

3) Going on two random hikes which felt as if we were on different movie sets. Enduring changing weather conditions, crazy steep hills that made me regret not ever doing leg day at the gym, and climbing random rocks. The view that just opened up in front of us, showing miles and miles of the natural J-Tree landscape.

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4) Playing car games and laughing about stupid shit (Smashbox 21, bad singing, etc)

5) Failing at making a fire/running out of firewood

6) Bombass homemade burritos. Who woulda thought of making burritos as camping food?! We did.

There is just so much about this trip that made it memorable.

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Weekend 6: Going home for Mother’s Day. This time around, I didn’t drive alone because one of my best friends, Jeff, drove up with me to surprise his mom. I definitely got to know Jeff better as we spent basically 10 hours together during our drives to and from LA. He also treated me to steak in SF for my driving troubles and I met some of his home friends which was pretty awesome (: Besides that, we stopped in Palo Alto to visited Kevin, our smart, Stanford law student friend. I’ve missed him! He was my first friend at UCLA and will always hold a special place in my heart because of it. Anyways, home itself was relaxing and perfect as usual. I had some much needed family time that I need to take advantage of before I leave for my abroad adventures. Did I mention that I will be moving to Beijing after graduation? More about that another time.

Weekend 7: Now here I am at the end of my 7th week at UCLA. This quarter really has gone by much too quickly. This weekend, I had a much needed break from my hectic weekend plans. I have forgotten what it is like to have “Elaine time”. Right now, I am sitting here listening to an awesome playlist a real cool cat made for me while sippin on a Kirin beer that was on sale at Mitsuwa (7 bucks for a 12 pack!!!) Life is real good. I’m glad I decided to take a break from busy weekend plans. Now I am recharged and ready to celebrate my friends 22nd birthday tonight.