OakMonster.com - Love Yourself

Unconditional Love of YOU

I was hanging out with my friends in Sacramento this weekend. After a few glasses of wine, and the conversation turned Sex and the City-esque.  My love history–or lack thereof–surprised the hell out of everyone. And I heard myself said this.

“It wasn’t like I had a self image issue. I was perfectly happy with who I was and I knew who I was. I was content that guys aren’t attracted to any of this [pointing around myself]…”

At which point, as good girl friends do, my friends chimed in, “”Aww! Stop it. You’re totally hot!”

“Oh, I know I’m totally hot. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that since I’ve decided that I will end up alone, I had all the confidence in the world to do whatever I want, and be 100% myself and care nothing about what other people think. And that includes potential mates. It was really freeing, I have to say.”

I think that threw my friends off for a few seconds. Frankly, I threw myself off for a second too.

Wow. I sound like such a cynic.

But I kind of was back in college. When you started your freshman year in college to realize that you were the only person you know who has a) never been asked out, b) never gone on a date, and c) never kissed a boy, it’s hard to not be cynical about the world.

And then I tried to impress a few boys to some kind of embarrassing results which led me to conclude that I would never find a boyfriend and would probably end up alone in the end.

Yes, it’s a depressing thought. I’m sure at one point in time in a girl’s life, we all think that way. As a matter of fact, I still hear it from single women everywhere.

But instead of making me depressed, I felt…empowered.  If I would go through life being single, in that case, let’s have some life!

Oh the confidence I had once I had absolutely nothing to lose in the love department. What a freeing epiphany it was!

The only person who will love me for me is me. And whatever makes me happy, I shall do.

The sage advice of “Nobody is going to love you if you don’t love yourself” or “You can’t love anyone else if you don’t love yourself”?

Bullshit. Utter and total bullshit.

The right phrase is, “Love yourself.”

That’s it. Not ifs, ands, or buts.

OakMonster.com - Unconditional Love of YOU

Loving yourself to make someone else loves you, or so that you can find love is NOT the right frame of mind. You know why?

It still involves SOMEBODY ELSE.

If you’re consumed with making other people love you, then you don’t love you enough.

If you’re working out to feel good about yourself, awesome. But if that is a lip service because underlying reason is you want to look hot to find love, then no amount of working out is going to make you happy.

You should love you for you. Don’t love you so someone else can love you.

Once you’re really, truly doing things for you, that is when you have control of yourself and your life. You then realize that everything you ever wanted, you already have.

Happiness comes when you take a hold of your own life, live on your own terms.

You have to love you , unconditionally. Once you do, you will be happy.

Back in college, once I finally set my mind on not needing a guy in my life, my mantra back then, still applies today, is this.

Take it, or leave it.

I like myself exactly the way I am. Whoever is the right person for me is going to like all of this. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time for everyone.

If he doesn’t like me without make up on (which is, well, all the time, really), my t-shirt and jeans, and all of my quirks, then he doesn’t like me.  So, why should I bother putting on make up, change my clothing choices, or put on an air just to attract a guy? If he’s attracted to THAT and not to me, then the relationship is already built on a lie. And that is just not the relationship I want to have.

(And as I come to find out, replace the word “him” with “a company you want to work for,” and exactly the same thing applies to finding the perfect job.)

Sure, that probably didn’t get me the amount of dates and boyfriends everyone else seem to have under their belt, figuratively and literally (hee). But I was perfectly happy without it.

I also figured that since finding a guy who would like all of me is probably impossible, so I might as well go out and make friends, or stay in and do art ,or read a book, or do whatever it is I enjoy doing. I was just happy being me.

That weird self confidence I had going for me also led me to ask out both of the two guys I ever dated. In both cases, we were friends before I developed a crush. Instead of waiting around to find out if they felt the same way, I just asked them out.  If it was a no, then we could go about our lives. If it was a yes, then we’d both be happy. Simple as that. Why play games and waste time to be happy?

The first guy I asked out, we dated for 3 years. That break up almost destroyed me, I’m not going to lie.  But I found myself in the rubble and started over again, putting myself first.

By the time the second guy came around, he didn’t have a chance. Hell, he didn’t actually want a relationship but I told him that he didn’t know what he was talking about and to trust me.

That guy who wasn’t ready for a relationship will be celebrating his 14 years with me next month.

Sure, we’ve had our rough patches. And when I looked back on those bad days, I realized that those were the days when I lost sight of myself. I forgot to live MY life while in my relationship, and later on, a marriage.

This is why I blog. This is why I organize get-togethers. This is why I cook. This is why I enjoy food. This is why I cosplay. This is why I go off and do all the crazy things I love to do. It’s more important now than ever that I love me most.


Without me, who is there for Brandon to love?


Be good to yourself out there today!

OakMonster.com - Brandon and Oakley with the Endeavor

10 Goals for 2014

Let’s do a quick recap of 2013 first.

2013 Goals: kind of 7 out of 10

Find a job I love? Check! Oh my god, check!

Don’t finish last at Race on the Base? Totally check. What I didn’t expect is that I would stick with running and continue to run 5K races around the neighborhood. This year’s Race on the Base is my one year anniversary race, and also my last race in a series of 3 to receive my first ever series medal!

Be able to do 20 burpees in a row? I wouldn’t say in a CONTINUOUS row. I can push through to 20, but after the first 10, it’ll just take some time. 😉

Learn Indesign? Check.

See my BFF Nora once a month? Totally check. We were both so good at making time, and putting things on calendar this year. We even did a camping trip together! It worked out really well.

Read 12 books a year? I cheated a little with a big stack of graphic novels on loan from our neighbor Andrew. But here’s my list:

  1. Days of Blood & Starlight – Laini Taylor
  2. Frozen Heat – Richard Castle
  3. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn. I have to say I love how horrible Gillian Flynn makes these characters. I hate EVERYBODY, and to get me all invested in characters this much means the writing is really, really good.
  4. School for Good and Evil – Soman Chainani. Adorable YA. My niece-in-law has this book now and she loves it too.
  5. Dark Places – Gillian Flynn. Since I liked Gone Girl, I gave this one a shot. Meh. I don’t even remember what it’s about at this point…
  6. Serenity: Those Left Behind – Joss Whedon
  7. Batman: The Killing Joke – Alan Moor/Brian Bolland
  8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot. Intriguing for a little while, but then it got boring. This is why I should never pick up another nonfiction ever again.
  9. V for Vendetta – Alan Moore
  10. Superman: Secret Identity – Kurt Busiek/Stuart Immonen.
  11. Superman: Birthright – Mark Waid/Leinil Francis Yu.  Great origin story. I really dig Supes in this.
  12. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky. Am I too old to appreciate this book? Because it seems to be a book about nothing to me.
  13. Doctor Sleep – Stephen King. Now I’m going to go back and read The Shining.

Now, as for what I didn’t do: archery once a month and taking old documents to shredder.

And then there were the almosts. I did make a pie crust from scratch once, it wasn’t any good. Then I rolled out someone else’s crust, and baked with pre-made crusts several times. Pretty much, more pies than I ever baked in my life all within 3 months. And then catching up on Doctor Who, I got through Season 1 and I’m almost done with Season 2. I’m nearly there!

So, that makes 6 completed goals, 2 failures, and 2 almosts which, to me, make a one. Hence, kind of 7 out of 10!

Before we look at 2014…

To tell you the truth, I almost didn’t write goals for 2014. I almost let Brandon be right when he said last year that I shouldn’t even call these goals or even setting them because I never really tried to complete them.

But then I thought, I should set them anyway. Many of the 2013 goals sent me down a completely different path. It’s more like 10 adventures to embark on or 10 quests to complete. Some will fail, and some will succeed. But you wouldn’t know it if you didn’t set any goals at all.

For example, I might have failed at doing archery once a month, but I haven’t given up on running. As a matter of fact, I joined a gym so that I could run when the street condition isn’t optimum for me.  Also, I might not have made a successful pie crust from scratch, but I’ve worked with several pre-made crusts this year to give me confidence.

Besides, I might not have learned to make a pie crust, but I did learn how to tie a roast. So there!

Goals for 2014

1. Run 5K under 40 minutes.

My best time has been around 42 minutes. I’m starting to train with a heart rate monitor now so we’ll see if this works out.

2. Make a pie crust from scratch

I’m still going to try, goddammit.

3. Finish reading “S”

I got started on “S” by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst all enthusiastic. But when you had a full day of work, by the time you get in bed to read, you want something to read to escape for a while and to wind down for the day. You don’t want to get all pumped up and frustrated by a fictional story by a fictional writer, full of footnotes that potential contain clues, plus TWO other people “talking” around the margins. It’s too much!

Seriously. This book takes so much effort that I have to pick it up from the nightstand and back on the living room table. It needs to be its own project. But I’m not going to give up!

4. Learn basic greetings in Quenya and insults in Klingon

“You took 2 years of Italian, and you’re not even going to put that back on your goals, but you’re going to learn phrases in fictional languages?” asked Brandon.

Yes, yes I am. I don’t know. I just want to be able to say, May the stars shine upon your path in Quenya–that is Elvish to you muggles–because it would sound beautiful and awesome. Also, fuck you assholes in Klingon should probably sound menacing as hell. I mean, who wouldn’t you want to curse someone out in a language they would probably not understand?

5. The Hobbits Challenge

It’s always been a joke that Thai people are like Hobbits: we eat at least 7 times a day! This point was made very clear when my Thai girl friends came to stay with me after New Year’s Day. So, I thought it would be fun to try to eat like a Hobbit for a month and see if it helps with anything or worsen anything.

And yes, I will be blogging what I eat daily and report the process. The eating part is easy, it’s the blogging part that might be a challenge. When will I start this? Soon, grasshoppers. Soon.

OakMonster.com - Hobbit's Daily Meals

6. Take Brandon on an adventure once a month

This is separate objective than taking a quarterly mini-vacation around the area. Brandon and I went to see the space shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center last weekend through a USC alumni program. And we had a wonderful time. I realized we don’t go out on fun day-trip like that as often as we should, even as a member of the Aquarium of the Pacific. So, I’m going to try to get us out to play at least once a month, even it means dragging him to a USC football game once! ;-D

OakMonster.com - Brandon and Oakley with the Endeavor

7. Connect with “long lost” friends once a month

If I haven’t seen someone in over 6 months and they live within an hour of driving, it’s time to schedule a meet. Last year’s “meet with Nora once a month” has worked out beautifully so I’d like to spread the wealth to see others this year.

8. Eat fruit and/or vegetables daily

Now, you’re thinking, how could the girl who works at a produce company not eat fruit/vegetable everyday? It’s not the accessibility: it’s the mindfulness.  Oh, you’ll be surprised at how I could go through the day thinking about the 7 meals I could have and none of them would have vegetables in it. I’m horrible at that.

9. Revamp this blog

I know the blog has been grossly neglected, but I’m in a desperate need of change. I’m also thinking about bringing Food.OakMonster.com back into this blog. So we shall see.

10. Read 12 books a year.

I already bought myself 2 sets of Barnes & Noble’s collectible edition to start the year with: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Anansi Boys, and Stephen King’s Carrie, The Shining, and Salem’s Lot.  There’s also Commander Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth waiting bedside right now. It’s going to be a great year for books!

Let’s see how well we do in 2014. Any goals of yours to share?

OakMonster - Team Wicket and Animal

Counting my 2013 Blessings

I know I usually do a 2013 recap here with all of my high points and low points of the year. 2013 has been a year of great things. You could say it might have been one of the best years of my life.

So, instead of the usual recap, I’d like to actually, literally, count my blessings.

Blessing #1: A Permanent Job

Since I moved on from the last permanent job in 2011, I was freelancing for about 12 months of the 24 years of being unemployed.  My last temp assignment was to Frieda’s Specialty Produce.  It was supposed to be part-time for 2 weeks but ended staying on longer, and longer, until I became a permanent member of the Frieda’s family.

OakMonster - Captain Bubbles - Talk Like A Pirate Day

I couldn’t have asked for a better job! I am doing social media and marketing with a touch of PR for a produce company where I get to talk about food all day long, and test recipes and style a plate for photography here and there. And best of all is the commute…all 1.5 mile of it.

As for Brandon, he finally gets to make some awesome career moves he’s been working hard toward for a couple of years now.  So, yes, this year has been awesome for the both of us job-wise.

Blessing #2: Running

I am NOT athletic in anyway. Sure, I used to play tennis but I was no good at it. I was a dancer but I was never going to be on So You Think You Can Dance. But running? In a million years, I would never thought I’d end up running.

Unemployment was definitely a low point but as they said, you don’t make a change until you hit rock bottom. And I was there when I decided to get off the couch and onto the road.  February 2013 was my first 5K race ever, and I continued to race throughout the year. My time hasn’t gotten any better, but it was not the point.  The point is that I am RUNNING! Slow as all hell, but I’m doing it. Brandon got me a heart rate monitor for Christmas so I can train better.

And maybe, just maybe, I might be able to run the 5K in less than 45 minutes.

OakMonster - Will Run for Beer

What surprises me more is that I have NOT given up on running. One of my headbands said it best: I love running, I hate running, I love running, I hate running. Somewhere inside my head, I do enjoy the benefits of running while another part of me hates it.  But I love the freedom that comes with running.  I don’t have to stick to a set schedule like the dance classes I used to take. I can run almost whenever I feel like it, as much or as little as I want.

I’m not sure if it really offsets my caloric intake but if I haven’t gained any weight and my blood work is spectacular. I guess I am sticking with running, a blessing that keeps on giving!

Blessing #3: Friends

2013 has been a spectacular year of friendship.  I spent a lot of quality time with my BFF Nora per my goal to see her at least once a month.  We lapsed a little bit in December but it’s the holiday season so I think we’re okay with that.

My friendship with my cosplay buddy Christine, the better half of Team Wicket, is in full bloom. We don’t just do conventions together but we hang out all the time. 3 conventions, and one each of an Otto & Victoria book signing, Renaissance Faire, and Victorian Christmas event this year will be hard to top. But there are so much more adventures ahead!

OakMonster - Team Wicket and Animal

Team Wicket as Beaker and Dr. Bunsen featuring Animal (aka Brandon)

This year also brought us some new friends and next door neighbors: Andrew, Briley, and baby Jameson. It’s weird to be full-grown, responsible adults and yet we’d still leave our door open and so we can party with each other across the hallway as if we were still in a college dorm.  I also got to visit Pim of Chez Pim–and soon, Kin Khao Thai Eatery in San Francisco—and took her famous jam making class at Love Apple Farm in Santa Cruz. It’s an amazing to witness Pim doing all the things that she does!

The topper of it all is actually happening as I type this.  My best friend from Thailand, Tong, is in town. Right now! The original plan was for me to just see them twice as they transit through LAX in December and then again on New Year’s Day.  But they extended their trip so they could spend a few more days in Southern California with me.  They’ve just gotten back from a full day at Disneyland and California Adventures. I really didn’t know how much homesick I have been until they showed up at my door. I really do miss my friends!

Blessing #4: Family

If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you’ll know that my family is a little broken and is half a world away, and I love them still.  I didn’t get to see them this year, but we’ve solidify a plan for me to fly home for Memorial Day 2014, so that’s a good thing.

However, my biological family isn’t the only family I have. I got to visit my American host family, the folks who hosted me when I came to the US 20 years ago. Bob and Bonnie moved to Hollister many years ago and I haven’t been able to visit them. I had a chance to do so last summer on my way to see Pim.  I also got to visit Brandon’s family over Thanksgiving. His nieces are all tweens now and are both wonderful young ladies.

And then yet another surprise. My cousin Toni, who I thought was living in Japan, turned up in Southern California. She finally got herself a car so she drove out to spend the weekend with me last weekend. We haven’t seen each other for 10 years! And it was kind of funny how we’re pretty much the same person. We also discovered that she has my mom’s slender hands and I have her mom’s wide hips and stocky legs. LOL

My mom would’ve been so happy to know that Toni and I are reunited at last.

OakMonster - Oakley & Toni at the Aquarium of the Pacific

These blessings may not be the winning Powerball numbers or a secret billionaire benefactor, but they all make 2013 memorable and awesome. What else can a girl ask for?

OakMonster.com - I'm Blogging This

Everything has changed: 10th Blogoversary

Might as well join in the crazy world of Blogging. So I don’t have to keep sending you emails to update and stuff. Hehe.

That was my first blog post on this very day, 10 years ago.

Oh yes, kids. I’ve been providing you with entertaining verbal vomit for 10 years now.

Back then, not a lot of people were doing it. And those of us who did, we were writing about anything and everything.

Now, we’d be called a “lifestyle blogger” since we don’t specialize in anything. Or maybe even “humor blogger” if we were slight bit funny.

Two weeks ago, I was in a room with a handful of bloggers as we chat with experts at Gigasavvy about how to optimize our blogs for search engine and what the best practices are. I was sure of two things that day: I was the only child-less blogger there and that I’m probably the only person in the room who doesn’t give much thought to traffic coming and going from her blog.

But I’ve already ranted about the evolution of blogging/social media so I’ll spare you my Purist/Pragmatist theory.

I started this blog originally because I was bored. And the next thing I know, it became a hobby and I was blogging all the time. At some point, it was almost like the speed of which I tweet or post on Facebook now.

“Wait, let me write down what you just said. I’m blogging this!”

OakMonster.com - I'm Blogging This

I ranted. I raved. At some point I was writing for 2 other blogs. I was quite prolific. Thoughts and ideas were pouring out of me. And I had no other hobbies to channel my energy into.

I wrote about everything. My hopes and dreams. My emotions. I wrote about home life, work life, and even about Thai politics once in a while, and got in trouble with friends, family, and coworkers for some of those things.

You practically see me grow up right here on these pages.

I’ve made friends with great people along the way with bloggers and readers alike. And because I’m comfortable in the virtual social setting, my transition into Facebook and Twitter was seamless. And as you already know, Twitter brought me a whole bunch of friends.

Naturally, with all these friends and new hobbies I’ve discovered (hello, cosplay!), my time to sit down and compose a blog has dwindled. You’d think now that I have so many more adventures, I would write more. Yeah, that’s what I thought too. LOL

One thing I haven’t realized about blogging is that writing gives me peace the way that my other hobbies doesn’t. (Well, except my attempt at singing and playing musical instruments.)  Writing is a creative and emotional outlet and a meditation, all at the same time.

I didn’t think I’ve missed blogging until I sit down and write one. Like I’m doing right now.

Doing better at blogging seems to be one of the yearly goals I never accomplished. Then again, who would’ve thunk I’d stick with running the entire year! LOL

Maybe it’s time I make time for blogging again.

It’s been an interesting journey so far, you guys. 2014 will be more fun.

Thank you for being here.

OakMonster.com - Talk Like A Pirate Day - Krispy Kreme - Captain Bubbles

On the Universe & Being Shameless

It was Talk Like A Pirate Day last week. Since I’ve learned about the holiday 7 years ago, I’ve transformed into Captain Bubbles and gone to work as such. Every year.

Last year, I sailed to the township of Long Beach to plunder a pastry shopped called Krispy Kreme. Since I was rogue at the time, I brought the booty to my good friend Doctor Justin to take to work.  This year, Captain Bubbles, now employed, repeated the raid and came away with pastries for her shipmates.

OakMonster.com - Talk Like A Pirate Day - Krispy Kreme - Captain Bubbles

Before we took this picture, this little girl kept looking at me and told her mom, “Mama! She’s a REAL pirate!”

One of my coworkers asked, “Where did you rent your outfit from?”

“These are all mine,” I said.

“You OWN these? Why?”

“Because it’s my hobby.”

“Wait. I don’t want to know.”

Move along, muggles. Move along.

Then another coworker told me, “I just love how in-to things you are. I mean, obviously, you have your clothes. But you actually name your pirate alter ego and everything!”

I shrugged and said, “Hey, life’s too short to not go all in.”

She laughed and went on her merry way.

I’m serious, people. Pussyfooting around your life gets you nothing but a really boring existence.

You can quote me on that one.

Later that night, my friend Traci sent me a link to this video about how Hubble telescope was pointed to a spot in space that is utterly empty.

Except that it isn’t.  The light from 13 billion years ago has just now been captured. The “empty space,” about the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length, has 10,000 galaxies, each filled with hundreds of stars.

That’s how tiny our existence really is in the scale of things.

We are but a speck in this vast universe. Our lifetime is just a blip compared to everything else.

The more the reason to not waste anytime not living your life.

I discovered as a child that it is more fun to NOT be shy. By being “brave” (or as my mom called it, a showoff), there were so many fun things I got to do.

Need a volunteer to go on stage? I’ll do it. Nobody is going to start the buffet line? I’ll go. Dance floor is empty? I’ll start.

I can’t even begin to tell you about all of my adventures because of me NOT being shy. (Or as my mom called it later on in my life, being shameless.)

It’s not “Oh my god! What are people going to think about me when I do this?!” that I think about. It’s “How much fun is THIS going to be if I do it?! Let’s do it!!!” It’s “None of these people know me and/or I’d never see them again. Let’s do it!!!” Well, the second doesn’t seem to work very well in the digital age, so it is now, “Someone’s going to get this on video, but I don’t care. Let’s do it!!!!”

My life has been amazing because I’ve long ago abandoned the concept of shame.

Let’s just put it this way, if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I have no regrets.

(Well, okay. Not having been to Italy to eat would be the only thing on my bucket list that I would regret not having accomplished.  But I can make up for it the next time around, I’m sure. Hey, I’m a Buddhist. We’ll ALL be back!)

Life is but a blip in the universe, people. Live it well.

As Mark Twain said, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

Bring it.

OakMonster.com - Be Kind for Khun Noi

Be Kind for Khun Noi

OakMonster.com - Be Kind for Khun Noi

Please join me in remembering my mom, Noi, on the 6th anniversary of her passing by doing something good for others. Treat your coworkers to donuts. Donate to charity that is not yours. Give money to a bum. Etc. Share your act on the event’s Facebook wall, if you’d like.

Dedicate your act of kindness to the wonderful Khun Noi who was always generous to her family, friends, and those in need.