“If music is the color of life, then I wonder what my palette looks like”

Graduation is just around the corner. In exactly 4 weeks and 4 days, I will be walking across the stage, accepting my “diploma”, that empty folder of a thing that represents the completion of my undergraduate degree.

With that thought in mind, I’ve been trying hard to spend as much time with my friends as possible. However the sad reality is that a majority of these friends I am making time for, those people who were such important parts of these last 4 years of my life, are probably not going to be of such importance post-graduation. I used to let this get me down a lot, and it still does, but my friends have helped me wrap my head around this situation by putting it into perspectives that I have never thought about.

One of my best friends compares friendships as running a hostel (lol) where different people come, go, and stay for different periods of time. Some come back, but some never will, and that’s okay. For him, he will always be there running that hostel, welcoming returnees with open arms if they decide to come back. For me, that has always been an issue. When someone decides to walk out, I tend to close those doors and not want to let them back in. Maybe it’s a pride thing? I don’t know. But from his point of view, why not let these individuals back in? Life happens. Sometimes it just doesn’t permit some friendships from lasting. If some people do decide to wander back and “put in their fair share of work in the hostel” why not let them stay?

Another close friend of mine shared that many of his friends never know where they stand with him because he tends to keep his emotions to himself. I am exactly the same. Just like him, I wondered if people I hope and want to keep in touch with after graduation actually know and feel the same way. While he was at a music festival and high off life and music (among other things, haha) he decided to express his feelings to one of his friends, telling his friend that he really appreciated their friendship and no matter where he ended up after graduation, he really wanted to keep that friend in his life. He realized that he just needed to do the simple thing that we often forget; share how he felt to the people he felt those feelings for. Let them know because if you feel that strongly about them, they most likely feel the same.

Anyways, /endrantaboutfriendships. I am truly grateful for everyone that has stumbled into my life in the last four years. Whether big or small, ya’ll have played a role in my college experience and if that is the end of the road for us, I’m learning to accept that. If not, feel free to step back into my hostel some time. I’ll keep them doors open with some tea, cookies, and good stories to share.

Random side note: If you were wondering about the title, it has nothing to do with the post. I just thought it was an extremely interesting way to use color as a metaphor for music that a friend shared with me today. It makes you think, doesn’t it?

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Spring Break 2016

What a week. Actually, what a great 2 weeks. I finished my finals the Monday of finals week so I had an extra long Spring break this year. #blessed

The “Unofficial” Week of Spring Break

I took a mini trip down to San Diego. It was pretty damn spontaneous and the only reason I went was that one of my buddies I met in CTY was visiting the area. Malka lives all the way in New York so it is a rarity that we are in the same state at the same time. When I heard she would be around, I rearranged my whole schedule from driving back up to NorCal early, to staying down in SoCal an extra 3 days to see her. I only really spent a few hours with her, but it was completely worth it. I was reminded of how an amazing person she is. We may not talk all the time but when we meet up, it picks up where we left off last.

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Besides that, I even had a time to catch up with Bianca and my study abroad friends Julie and Henry. Love them all and thank them for taking time out of their crazy schedules to grab drinks or food with me. I know I will be seeing them real soon as I seem to be going down to SD a lot lately  (:

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The “Official” Week of Spring Break

Here’s the good stuff. I went on a road trip with two buddies, Jesse and Brian, and it was amazing. I did get sick right in the beginning which developed into a fever by the middle of the week, but this trip was unforgettable. It both tested my limits and showed me beauty in life that really made me appreciate the world I lived in.

The whole trip, I sat in the back of a coupe with half of our shit piled high next to me. It was slightly claustrophobic and extremely uncomfortable when I tried napping, especially one of the nights when we had to sleep in the car (also the same night I caught my fever). I didn’t get to shower for 4 days, I couldn’t do anything the day that my fever hit, and I was coughing up a storm all week. Some parts of the trip when I was feeling extra sick, extra congested, and extra dirty from lack of showers, all I could think about was going home. However, we would get to one of these beautiful scenic nature views and I would be reminded of why it was all worth it.

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My friends were great as well. They took care of me when I was at the worst parts of my sickness and I thank them greatly. From doing all the hard labor in setting up camp, to cooking food for me and taking a million breaks during our hikes because I felt faint… they never complained one bit about it and I appreciate it greatly. I can’t wait to go camping again.

Here’s a video compilation of my trip. It was my first time making a GoPro video, or a video in general actually, so bear with me (:

 

Spring Break 2016 from Elaine Poon on Vimeo.

Norms

 

Tonight, I had a spontaneous trip to a local diner and caught up with a friend I haven’t hung out with in awhile. He took me to a diner that his dad had introduced him to and naturally, right as we sat down, I pulled out my phone and checked Yelp to see its ratings. Immediately, I passed judgements on the diner when I saw that it only had 3 stars. When my apple pie and ice cream came though, it was absolutely delicious and I loved every bite of it.

Isn’t it interesting how influential technology is on our behaviors and perspectives? If it were not for my friend (and my friend’s dad) I would have never, in my whole life, stepped foot into that diner because of its low Yelp rating. My friend and I discussed how our millennial generation is so focused on eating the “best” the “newest” restaurants out there. I am totally guilty of that, as I am someone who basically never tries new restaurants below 4 stars. According to my friend, the older generation (or his dad’s generation) is more focused on just going to a place with their group of friends as a hang out spot, almost like a meet up place with food being secondary. I know this is only generalizing, but I definitely see  this trend existing. Of course there are usually reasonable reasons why restaurants have the ratings that they do (especially the 1 or 2 star ones), but the positive experience I had at this three star diner is just something to think about.

Anyways, that was just a little side thing that I wanted to share. I’ve been trying to write some sort of blog post for the past few days now, and have been so stuck. I think this will be my way of easing back into things. Oh, and if you ever want to check out a 24/7 diner in West LA, go to Norms. It has three stars, but it is delicious. Well, at least their apple pie, ice cream, and ice cream floats were.

 

Throwbacks.

Lately, Facebook has been reminding me of my high school basketball days and damn, do I miss those. Has it really been 4 years since my senior year of high school ball? Sigh, nothing is quite like the feeling of representing your school and being on a team for a sport that you love. Being able to share one of your passions in life to others… to have fans come watch you do something that you both love and are good at… You really can’t duplicate that feeling in much else.

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This photo showed up on my Facebook feed today. I still remember that day so vividly. It was my “Senior Day” game, meaning it was the last home game where all of the seniors are honored and are the starters even when they normally don’t play much. That doesn’t really affect me much because, you know, I’ve been a starter on the varsity team since my sophomore year, but I’m not bragging or anything (;

Anyways, I still consider that day one of the best days of my life. I remember being extremely surprised at all my friends that came, some of whom I am not extremely close to. Some of them even made me these hilarious posters and signs which I still have to this day, all on the walls in my room.

My friends were basically my personal cheer squad and when I came on the court, they single handedly made the bleachers erupt with noise as if we had a stadium filled with people. I remember feeling slightly embarrassed externally, but who am I kidding. Internally, I was beamin’ like the sun.

Here are some more photos from that day.

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My family is awesome. Throughout my 4 years playing ball, they came to essentially every single one of my games, no matter how tired they were after work. My sister, I’m pretty sure, was living in LA at the time and made time to come. Even my cousin came all the way from Oakland just to watch me play that night. A week night to be exact, so he probably had work the next morning if I remember correctly.

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It’s days like that that remind me that I have amazing friends and family that I don’t appreciate enough and tell them how important they are to me enough. So first, here is a shout out to my family. Thanks for always being so supportive with every aspect of my life, whether it be sports, school, my career… You guys really are the opposite of stereotypical Asian parents, and I really appreciate that.

Now, here is to my high school friends. Although we may have drifted some, you guys will always hold an extremely special place in my heart. I love you all and really hope that our friendships stick around well into our adulthood years. I want to go to all of your weddings and have our kids be friends with each other (: That, would be the best thing ever.

#NostalgiaAsCollegeGraduationApproaches 😭😭😭

Changes

It’s crazy to think that I will be graduating from UCLA in about 4 months. Just like your typical soon-to-be college graduate without a full-time job lined up at some Big 4 company, I’m at a loss, just hoping everything will fall into place.

From my conversations with my fellow peers, everyone seems to be having the same worries and anxieties centered around post-graduate plans. Among everyone’s mind is the job search and finding that perfect job. My question is, how crucial is that first job after graduation? Is finding that perfect job possible, especially when most of us come out not even knowing what we really want in the first place?

The older generations are always telling me and my peers to just explore and have fun while we are young, but it is so hard to do! I think all of us are freaked out about fucking up no matter how much the other people try to convince us otherwise. It’s starting to sink in for me though. I may be starting the rest of my life, but I shouldn’t be worried about making the wrong decision. I should just follow my gut. Life is so unpredictable that we can’t really think or plan that far ahead.

There is a pretty big probability that I am going to be abroad when I graduate and I think (hope) that’s where I’m supposed to go. The thought of it both freaks me the fuck out, yet fills me with excitement. I guess that isn’t such a bad thing though? I think it’s going to help me grow a lot and it is for sure going to push me out of my comfort zone. It’s going to be tough. For the first time ever, I am going to be moving to a foreign place without the crutch of friends and family to lean back on. I will have to make a conscious effort to form relationships and bonds with people because most likely, I will know absolutely no one in the new city that is going to be my home for at least a year.

I am thinking ahead though. Right now, I don’t have anything solid. If anything, I could be bummin’ after I graduate because I am still jobless. It’s such an exciting, yet terrifying time to be alive right now. People say that your 20’s is when you really start learning about yourself, and I could not agree more. Hello 2016. I have a feeling you are going to bring many interesting life changes and new milestones my way, and I am ready for you.

Oh yeah, here’s an attempt to resurrect my dying blog. Let’s see how well I keep this up (:

One for the Books

If there is one piece of advice I would give to everyone based on the experiences I have been having the past few days, it would be to talk to everyone and try to make friends. Last night, I had the craziest adventure with one of my CTY coworkers. We went out to LKF with the expectation that we would find a chill bar to have a few drinks and to socialize in and, well, whenever I expect ordinary nights, things get crazy.

Unintentionally, we hit it off with one of the floor managers of this awesome bar we were at and coincidentally, it was her birthday. Long story short, we had rounds of drinks with her at her bar, met her boyfriend and some of her friends, and ended up hanging out with them for the night. After filling us up with free drinks, they took us to another place with live acoustic music where she not only knew one of the workers there, but would keep running into friends on the streets near that bar. I swear she knew everyone. Within an hour, we were chilling with a few more people she knew, one of which worked in the wine business in Hong Kong and another of which was the manager of a famous steakhouse nearby. By the end of the night, these new friends had bought us more drinks and invited us to visit their steakhouse to play wine cork pong with them.

Topping off this night was a friend I made in Hong Kong last year who must have been psychic or something, because he randomly hit me up to see if I wanted to grab 3AM dimsum in Kennedy town. This was me and my coworker’s plan all along so it could not have been more perfect. Actually, I take it back. He ended up treating us too. What?!

The funny thing about this friend is that he had contributed to my most memorable night of Hong Kong last year when me and a few of my coworkers randomly met him and his girlfriend at a bar in Kennedy Town. It had been his girlfriend’s birthday that night so when we hit it off, he ended up taking us out and buying us rounds of drinks at every bar we went to to celebrate. We were out with them until 3AM. Sounds familiar right? This is the beauty of random friendships. I can’t wait until I have the means to return their generosity and to spread the love to new friends I make in the future.

Introverted

Just last night I was having a girls night out with one of my new CTY friends at a random craft beer bar. She is much more extroverted than me, so one of the first things she said when we sat down was, “Who should we try to talk to first”  I found it so interesting that that was one of her first thoughts because the thought of socializing with anyone around us never even crossed my mind. Eventually, opportunity came and we started talking to the group of old foreigners (lol) at the table next to us. It definitely was the highlight of the night, as we joked around with these complete strangers, learned about one of the guy’s life as a project manager for the MTR and how he had come to leave his home near London to live in Hong Kong for over 20 years, and even got a few recommendations for some of their favorite bars and hangout spots.

Today, I decided to have a little “Elaine time” so I adventured to Sheung Wan to do a bit of photography and exploring. The thing I love about this area is that there are so many hidden gems scattered about. You can find an old vintage antique shop sitting next to a modern cafe, or a fusion burger joint next to traditional Chinese butcher shop. It’s really remarkable. I’d like to think that this is Hong Kong’s natural progression towards the intermixing of different cultures instead of westernized ideals being imposed into this area… but that’s another conversation for another time. For now, as far as I know, these juxtapositions are a sort of beauty that is adds to the uniqueness and beauty of Hong Kong.

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Anyways, I walked into a fusion burrito / coffee shop named  Americanos (again, not so sure how I feel about enjoying that burrito / the name of the restaurant in general) hoping that it would be a quiet little coffee shop that I could eat lunch / read a book / write in my journal in. Turns out, this place was a full on hipster restaurant filled with expats and their friends. It was already too late, so I walked in, sat at the only available table in there (which happened to be this huge ass 4 person round table) and ordered my food. It wasn’t too bad though, since my table was so big, a random Australian girl who was waiting for her take out order sat down next to me and me, trying out this new thing where I try to talk to strangers, started initiated conversation with her. I found out she was a recent graduate who came to Hong Kong in the summer to work as an intern at a law firm, and how she had studied abroad in Beijing and thinks Hong Kong is an awesome place. Talking to her reminded me of the group of Australians I met while studying abroad. I miss them!

After lunch,  I walked around aimlessly through random back alleys and stumbled upon a cool antique shop. Both because I was interested in what the shop had inside as well as the fact that it was hot as fuck and I was dripping in sweat, I escaped into the store to enjoy some AC relief. Inside, I found an Asian American girl asking the store owner a bunch of questions about his shop, whether he designed all of his goods, whether they were by local artists, ect. I could tell that they were genuine questions filled with curiosity, and I admired that because I would have never done the same. Curious to her background, I thought about striking a conversation with her, but my introverted tendencies made me hesitate, and she left the shop before I could say anything. Just my luck though, she was taking a photo of the shop as I was exiting.

Long story short, in the span of 5 minutes, I found out that this girl not only was from California just like me, but is going to work in my home town, studied abroad in Shanghai like me, AND knew one of my closest guy friends at UCLA who she had met during her study abroad session last semester. WHAT A FUCKING COINCIDENCE RIGHT?! My mind was completely blown. The best part was that we clicked really easily and I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring with her.

Every shop we went into, my new friend continued her trend of asking the store owners interesting questions. By the end of the day, I had met two sisters who with zero knowledge of fashion, created their own line of women’s swimwear purely because of their love for water sports, a lady who continued her great grandfather’s work of creating beautiful furniture created from precious stones around the world valued at several hundred thousand US dollars, and a man who both sold his own designs as well as taught a class to teach others to create similar products. By talking to them, these store owners suddenly became so much more, I guess, human. Normally, you go into a store and do your shopping and your only interaction with the workers at the store are to to make small talk and pay for anything you decide to buy. However today, I was reminded that store owners, especially pop up shops where the owners tend to be the designers of the products themselves, have so much more to offer and that the products they sell are more than just items; in many cases, they are little pieces of their passions in life that they are sharing to the world and you can only make sense of their work if you talk to them about it.

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Moments like this made me think about all the possible “holy shit” moments and personal stories that I missed out on because I didn’t make that move to be a social being. It’s been a goal of mine to be more of the conversation initiator and every time I have acted on it, something cool / interesting / unforgettable has happened. Time and time again, I am reminded of this and the events of yesterday and today are definitely new additions to that ever growing list.

Oh, in case you haven’t already figured out, I’m back in Hong Kong and will be here until the end of the month. Then, I’ll be off to Japan and Korea for the first time in my life. Stay tuned for more updates!

Also, as promised, here’s your dedication Amy Jiang (;