OakMonster.com - Disapproving Asian Father

I don’t take compliment well

It definitely is an Asian thing to ALWAYS be humble.

Humble even though the other side of the humble facade is the push to be the best at everything.

Get straight A’s. Excel in music. Be the best at dance. Win all the medals.

But NEVER tell anyone that you’re the best or agree with anyone else who tells you that you are the best.

Your parents and teachers always tell you that you’re good but not THAT good, and that you need to do better.  All at the same time, be humble about how good you are. Even if you’re the best, you can’t accept that you’re the best.

You go out there with your head low. Do your best…which is never good enough. Anyone tell you you were great, you shake your head.

“No, I’m not great. YOU’RE great.”

Your mouth will always tell people that you suck while your heart seems to go first to “I’m the fucking shit!” then quickly to “Nah. Not really. I’m being cocky. Someone else is still better.”

More or less…

Your friends and relatives, and perfect strangers would always compliment you. Your parents will tell them quickly, “Oh, he/she is not that good,” not only to be polite but to let you hear it, out loud, told to the world, that you’re still mediocre.

People can compliment all they want. You’re not to accept it.

Humble pies are served daily in most Asian household by Tiger Moms and Disapproving Dad.

So, no. I don’t take a compliment well.

A conversation with a typical American:

“Great job on that report!”

“Aw, thank you! I worked hard on that.”

“It’s an A+!”

“Pretty sweet, right?”

The same conversation with an Asian:

“Great job on that report!”

“Oh, no. That was not very good. But thank you.”

“But you got an A+!”

“There are still things I need to fix. But really, thank you. You’re very kind.”

Am I right?

So, no. I don’t take a compliment well.

The pressure for us to be perfect and yet humble has always been a constant battle culturally and psychologically.

Fucked up? Yeah, I know.

Now, substitute all the things about your skills with your physical appearance.

Same damn thing. Probably more fucked up actually because unlike your skill set, it’s harder to change how you look.

Life under scrutiny. Every aspect of it.

One exception to the rule here though.  You get to wallow in the compliment if you are indeed pretty. That’s one thing you get to fake being humble and get away with it.

There’s an article recently written by a Chinese-American about the “Asian Perfection” perception that we all have to uphold.  We may think we’re not affected by it, but deep down, we are.

I’ve been brought up this way too. Still being called “fat” every time I visit home.

The good news is that I’ve always been sure of myself and had plenty of confidence to go around. I’ve always known who I am and what I wanted to do, so I didn’t feel like I have to conform to anyone. (A huge reason why I’m a kept sister.)  I’ve always been happy with my appearance, knowing full well I do not fit “the standards”. Not one bit.

It bewilders me to find out that other people are okay with how I look. *sigh* Alright, I’ll say it. Urgh. Gah.  Some people even find me attractive.

Case in point, the man I’m married to thinks so. ;-)

It has taken years to deprogram myself to accept that fact.

So, no. I don’t take a compliment well.

But I’m working on it.

OakMonster.com - Old West Avengers - S&W Photography

The Old West Avengers’ Day Out

Team cosplay is FUN!

At the beginning of the year, I had a thought. What would Lady Deadpool look like if she was in the Old West? Not like the present Lady Deadpool that get transported back in time, but if Wanda Wilson really did exists then. Obviously, it wasn’t be this.

OakMonster.com - The real Lady Deadpool

The real Lady Deadpool aka Wanda Wilson

And so, the cosplay idea for the Wild West Wanda Wilson was born.

WonderCon2013 8

Photo Credit: Michelle @ The Suitecase Studio

Originally, I was going to debut Wanda at 2013 Comikaze since I had so much fun as Hulk Bunny last year. But then WonderCon announced that they were returning to Anaheim. Since I didn’t cosplay there last year, I wasn’t going to miss a chance this time around.

When I shared that idea with my friends Christine and Annette, they all wanted in on the action! Then Brandon decided to join in too. Christine also invited her boyfriend and her friends Michelle and Tony to join our team as well.

Behold. The Old West/Steampunk Marvel Avengers. (Minus Annette as Storm. She joined us later on.)

OakMonster.com - Old West Avengers - S&W Photography

Photo credit: S&W Photography

Michelle: Countess Antonia Stark. Brandon: Wade Wilson aka Deadpool. Christine: Lady Deathstrike (although at some point we just started calling her the Oriental Harlot because people couldn’t quite guess who she was!). Chris: a totally bad ass Wolverine. And yours truly as Wanda Wilson.

I tried to get pictures with as many Deadpools as I could. Not entirely intentional, I skipped into the arms of the famous Merc with the Moves of Deadpool VS YouTube channel.

I might not have made it into The Nerd Machine Slave Leia PSA, but I get my own section here at 2:04!

Between Brandon happily snapping away with his new camera Nikon D32000, and Michelle’s professional photographer’s eyes, we have wealth of photos from our adventures. And we even found a few others, like that awesome group shot up there, from other folks who stopped us for photos too!

Can hardly wait for Comikaze! My cosplay won’t be quite as epic, but it’ll be fun. :)

Here’s our Flickr album:

OakMonster.com - Work Is Love

Work Is Love Made Visible

Remember how I ran home from the Office about a month ago?  Well, running home is no longer an option.  My hours have been extended to 6 hours a day now, and that would mean I have to run home after lunch. There was no way I could do that with my issue with side stitches, and I wasn’t about to starve myself all day for a run.

The key point from that paragraph is that I am now working 6 hours a day. At that same company.

I’m 2 hours away from working full time, y’all.

This gig was supposed to be 4 hours a day for 2 weeks. It was extended to 4 weeks. Then last week, my contract is extended to 6 months and hours increased to 6 a day.

Indeed, this alone is pretty sweet. But wait, there’s more!

Instead of running, I’ve saddled up on my beach cruiser for my daily 1.5-mile commute.  Seriously, this close, there really isn’t a reason to drive. Well, except when the weather is bad, or I hit snooze one too many times in the morning…*ahem*

And the best part yet.

I’m talking to people about food on social media. Everyday.

Boom.

OakMonster.com - Mic drop

So, as I was scouring the web for my daily content, this quote grabbed me.

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

– Khalil Gibran

I have worked with distaste for 6 years AND begged at the gate of the temple for the most part of these past 2 years.  But I have also worked with love on and off.

I now know what it’s like to love your job. And I’m here to tell you that I’m smitten.

I’m just hoping that the love is not unrequited.

OakMonster ran a race!

Raced On the Base

This is my final original article as the Face of the Race for the Los Alamitos Race on the Base. It’s been fun writing for them!  Please give the Race’s blog some traffic and click here to see the original post.  Also, I was interviewed pre-race with both the Race on the Base blog AND the Orange County Register. Check them out!

After all this time of having shared with you about my journey and struggle with running, I almost didn’t make it to the Race this past Saturday.

Tuesday night before the Race, I was clutching the toilet bowl for dear life as the room seemed to be spinning around my head and the floor tilting underneath me.  Hello again, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).

That’s right. Y’all know about this one from last year.  For those who don’t, BPPV develops when a small piece of calcium breaks free and floats within the tube of the inner ear. This sends the brain confusing messages about your body’s position and therefore causes you to feel like the world is spinning.

The difference between this bout and the last one is that I now know what it is and how to get out of it.  And got out of it I did, after 3 days of mostly sitting still.

By Friday, I was back to normal. Well, at least my head was. I went to bed at 9 p.m. in preparation for the super early wake up call.  At midnight, my stomach had a different idea.

When I went back to bed at 2 a.m., I really wasn’t sure I would be able to run the Race at all. All the resources I have looked up advised against running when the symptoms are below the neck. All I could do was pray.

My alarm went off a couple of hours later. My friend and running inspiration Amy was behind schedule, hailing in from Hollywood. One thing led to another and we were 45 minutes behind our expected departure time.  Adding to the lateness, we decided to “save our legs” and drove instead of just walking a mile or so. And that was not a wise choice, being as late as we were.

By the time I met up with my other friend and fellow 5K newbie Tamara at the starting line, we had just enough time to hug, take a picture, and we were off!

OakMonster.com - Oakley and Amy OakMonster.com - Oakley and Tamara

A friend teased that the running gods were out to test my resolve with all of these obstacles leading up to my very first 5K race. Where am I, in a Greek epic poem?  Sheesh. Then again, I was going to run as a Pegasus…

But despite the health issues and lateness, I did it. I ran my first long distance race of my life.

I did it in 41:35.3 minutes at a 13:25 minute-mile pace.  Some could walk faster than that. But to me, this is the fastest pace I’ve ever run.  In that, there was a 25-minute stretch of run which was the longest I have ever accomplished on the road.

I did it with my best friends by my side.  (Well, kind of.  Tamara was never too far behind and Amy was just a few miles ahead on the 10K track!)

I did it with the love of the most understanding and supportive husband in the world in my heart. I mean, the man lets his wife out to run her first 5K dressed as a cartoon character from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic! That’s LOVE!

The wings on my back may have been made out of wire hanger and soft foam, but when I crossed the finish line, I really did feel like I could fly.

Thank you, Race on the Base, for providing me with a goal I can set out to accomplish.  If I hadn’t signed up to run, I might have abandoned running a long time ago and spiraled right back down the pit of self pity.

Oh, and by the way, I’m hooked.

I will be running the 5K at Run Seal Beach in April.  Then, Tamara and I, now race buddies, will be doing the 5K at the OC Marathon, where Amy is running a half-marathon. And, as the members of the imaginary rock band Kittens of Fury, we will be joined by the likes of Resa and Annette, and don our rockin’ kitten gears at the Long Beach Marathon 5K later in October.  I’m hoping that I can get into a 12 minute-mile pace by then.

Who knows, you might see me running the 10K at 2014 Race on the Base!

Until then, happy running, everybody!

OakMonster ran a race!

See more pictures here.

OakMonster.com - What I feel like when I run

Why We Love to Run

This is my final original article as the Face of the Race before the Los Alamitos Race on the Base! I think I will probably have one more post-race. Please give the Race’s blog some traffic and click here to see the original post.

My oldest brother, an avid runner, sent me a blog post last week from the Guardian called “Why We Love to Run”.

Just over a week away from the Race on the Base, it is a good day to ask ourselves that question. Why, indeed?

The blog post said we love to run because it’s a natural urge. We did it freely when we were kids because it was fun. As adults, we find reasons to justify running again. Also, we love to run because it is a primal instinct; it connects us to nature, and at the same time disconnects us from everything else.  And finally, running connects us to ourselves and brings peace. We love to run because we love the Zen.

Maybe you agree with a few of those insights. Maybe you don’t.  We all love to run for all the different reasons.  For me, it was definitely the joy.

OakMonster.com - What I feel like when I run

Truth!

This is my 6th update as the Face of the Race, and you probably notice that I still whine about running. (Like here, here, and here.) With this much complaining, how could one say she love to run?  How is this joyous?  To answer that, we’ll have to go back many, many years.

Growing up in Bangkok, Thailand, I was a sprinter.  The tiniest and fastest girl in class up through 6th grade. 50-meter dash was my event. I could sprint up and down that stretch of my school’s field all day long and beat just about anybody.  At that time, if given the chance, I’d sprint ANYWHERE. I just loved the speed, the rush of the wind, and the pounding of my heart.

In my submission for the Face of the Race contest, I said that I started running to find self worth and a sense of accomplishment.  While that is true, I didn’t realize until now that the real reason why I run is because deep down I still love to sprint.

The Guardian blog post also said,

I remember, as a keen runner in my youth, constantly correcting people who asked me if I was running to get fit. “No,” I would say. “I’m getting fit to run.”

Apparently, that’s exactly what I have been doing—subconsciously.  I was getting in shape so that I could sprint again.  A part of me loves to run because it’s the opposite of the slow march toward the pit of despair that was my soul-crushing unemployment.  But most of me loves to run because it just makes me happy.

Without knowing it, I’m trying to get back to my favorite activity of my youth to experience that complete and utter joy.  The one that makes me giggle when I cross the finish line.

After all these months of “training”, I’m barely making 14-minute-mile pace.  And while I do love to run, I still can’t say that I love going the distance.  The first mile, I feel like Wonder Woman. The second mile, I force myself to keep going and all the while hate myself for encouraging myself to keep going. (Totally meta, I know. My brain gets really weird on the run.)  The last mile, though, I would start to feel like Wonder Woman again.

And then, a block or so from home, with every ounce of energy I have left, I would sprint until I could no longer feel my limbs or catch my breath.

And I would giggle.

Steven Spielberg J.J. Abrams Joss Whedon Will Wheaton

The Greatest Audition That Never Was

I scrambled into a waiting room full of hopeful actors.  A friendly face looked up and waved me over to an empty seat next to him.

“So, when are you going up?” I asked.

“Soon,” he said.

A few steps away, a glass door swung open.  A lady with a clipboard called out a name, and my friend stood up.

“Break a leg!” I called up at him as he walked by. He gave me a thumbs-up as he crossed in front of the clipboard lady.

The lady followed his line of sight to me, then looked down at her clipboard, then back up at me.

“You. The friend. What’s your name?”

“I’m Oakley.”

“You’re next.” And she closed the door behind her.

“What?!?”

I scanned the room and realized that everyone had a head shot and acting resume in his/her hand. I had my purse in mine.

“Um. Fuck?”  I started to rummage through my purse for pen and paper. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity fuck…”

“I can print something out for you if you have it online,” said a voice from the corner of the room. A girl who looked very much like Pauley Perrette, aka Abby from NCIS, was sitting on the floor with a laptop and a printer.

“That’s very kind of you. Thank you!” I said as I walked over and sat down on the floor next to her. “But I don’t have any of that.”

I’m no stranger to the stage, having been on it for some kind of a dance recital since pre-school. American high school got me in a few actual plays but I only had small parts. Some of them I mimed.  College was all songwriting workshop performance.  Then I did a storytelling workshop after college. That was that.  But none of these experiences were available online to print.

Then it came to me.

“Let’s just print out my LinkedIn profile and I’ll just write more stuff on it.”

The printer spit out a few pieces of paper and I frantically wrote whatever I could on them.

The glass door swung open again and the clipboard lady returned.

“Oakley?”

Pauley look-alike winked at me as I got up.

The clipboard lady led me up the wooden staircase.  We turned the corner into a dimly lit hallway with flickering fluorescent lights.  Then she knocked on the door on the left, and let me through.  It took a second for my eyes to adjust to the room before I saw its occupants.

Steven Spielberg J.J. Abrams Joss Whedon Will Wheaton

Steven Spielberg. J.J. Abrams. Joss Whedon. Wil Wheaton. And some other guy.

Al…righty then?

The dude I don’t know extended his hand, “Hi, I’m Craig.”

“Hi,” I shook his hand, and trying not to gawk at the rest of the room.

“Is that your resume?” he asked. I just handed him the paper.  “You know everyone here, I’m sure?”

My mouth started to say, “Duh!” But I made it say instead, “Of course!”

I tried to swallow my starstruck (starstruckness?)  but instead I regurgitated it in a ramble.

“I’m trying not to freak out right now…and I probably shouldn’t have said that out loud. To you. The Gods. But, um. Yeah. Hi.”  And, I waved.  What a dork.

Everyone nodded in recognition.  Craig then passed my printout to Wil.  He furrowed his brows.

“This is a LinkedIn profile…” Wil said as he passed it over to Joss.

“Yes, well, I didn’t plan on auditioning so this is the best I can do.”

“Well, there must be a reason you were called in,” said Spielberg. I shrugged.

J.J. passed the paper to him. “I’ve got to say LinkedIn profile is a new approach.”

Joss chimed in, “Not bad for someone who actually didn’t know she’s auditioning.”

“I’m glad I could entertain you. I guess?”

Joss surveyed his peers and then looked at me. “So you have never done movies or TV?”

I shook my head.  “Look, I’m a social media and marketing-communication specialist. But since I haven’t gotten a full time job in two years, someone recently suggested that I should pursue a career in standup comedy. I think that’s a nice way of telling me I suck at marketing.”

The gang chuckled.

“Well, thanks for stopping by, ” Craig said as he got up to shake my hand.

Spielberg turned to J.J., “Hey, J.J. Sure you don’t have room for her in Star Wars?”

“You know, I might actually have something,” he replied.

I squealed a little bit. “Really?”

Joss held his hand out at the guys, “Wait, wait.”  Then he turned to me, pointing, “But wouldn’t you rather get killed in the next Avengers movie?”

I might have let out a bigger squeal. “Ooh, can I die in Thor’s arms?”

Wil added, “Guys, she could do both!”

Yeah. Absolutely. That would be a hoot. Those were the answers.

I looked at Spielberg. “You know, when I was in kindergarten, a few friends called me E.T. because I was small and skinny with big eyes on my big head.”

Spielberg offered me his hand to shake.

And I woke up.

A dream. A total dream. Too much thinking about my employment situation and recent Super Bowl commercial, watching NCIS marathon on and off all day, and reading way too much IO9 and EW’s Cape Town before bed brought this on, I’m pretty sure.