Damn real: chapter 22

“Congratulations!” Wei smiled at Namie. The two were with Claire and Niall at a restaurant, Ripple, enjoying a late night dinner. A few months have passed since then, and it was now late January. “Well, she totally deserved it. First associate of the month, then she gets recognized for all of her hard work, and she’s now basically running the finance team.” Claire smirked. Namie had just been promoted to Finance Generalist, meaning that she was one step closer to becoming an Assistant Director of Finance. “Well, let’s not forget about you.” Namie pointed at Claire. She had also been promoted to Assistant Director of Front Office, to the surprise of everybody at work. The previous manager, Takeru, had left the company to pursue a career as Director of Reservations for the Intercontinental Waterfront, so the vacancy meant that Claire, being the next in line as the supervisor, was offered the chance to step into the new role before Human Resources would have to find a new person. She took the offer with next to no hesitation, as it meant that with more work, there would be more distractions from thinking about Frankie. More responsibilities to drown herself in. “Yeah, it was not really an expected turn of events. I genuinely was surprised that they’d want me to do it.” She shrugged. Looking back on how hasty her decision was, Claire was doubting whether or not taking a career advancement was what she really wanted. It meant that she would have more obligations and longer hours, something that could potentially interfere with her job as a beauty guru. However, time was never an issue for her. Claire was able to work overnight, and still have time to record, edit, and plan her own videos. So this was just going to be another hurdle for her that once she overcomes, will just add to her already incredible resume.

“Well, we are all doing well, and that’s what matters. The two of you are dating, we both get promoted, it’s a great life.” Claire smiled while Wei and Niall rolled their eyes at them. “Meh, this coming from the girls who are now anti-relationship? Whatever. At least you aren’t judging me for dating your ex, Nams.” Wei shrugged. Even though it was initially awkward, Wei and Niall started dating. It started a few weeks ago, when Niall and Wei started talking more, first over the phone, and then eventually in person. The person who really won Wei over was Kimmy; seeing how caring Niall was towards her, she could not help but feel like he would be the perfect kind of guy for her. Despite formerly harboring feelings towards him, Namie could not be happier for her cousin. It was about time that she found somebody that made her happy, besides herself of course. Surprisingly enough, Wei and Niall were very compatible; both of them were really into performing arts, and Niall’s constant praising of and fawning over Wei only complimented her self-loving nature. He was a nurturing personality, while she was more independent and strong. Since they have started dating, Wei has been trying to use her connections to help Niall build more career opportunities beyond the D.C. Concert Orchestra.  Because of that, they both really brought out great qualities in one another. Niall made Wei a more caring person, while Wei’s newfound caring nature helped bring Niall and therefore Kimmy, more chances at a better life. “Well, we keep pushing each other, and that’s what I appreciate about it.” Wei shrugged. “We’re just happy that you’re both happy.” Claire and Namie reassured their friends. It was just refreshing to see somebody as outlandish as Wei find somebody who was such a perfect fit for her.

“Well, don’t forget! The next showcase is coming up very soon now!” Melissa called as the class was dismissed. “Namie, how often have you been practicing?” “Well, I try to squeeze in at least one to two hours each day after work, on top of the weekend classes.” She admitted. “And you’re happy with the song you chose? It was a JPOP song, right?” “Yeah, it’s Koda Kumi’s song, Damn Real. It’s a bit intense, but I really wanted to try it.” “Oh, I think I heard about it from my bisexual Japanese friend. He’s really into that artist because she’s all about sex and self expression. I got your number.” The dance instructor laughed as Namie stood there, impressed that Melissa knew that much about one of the accountant’s favorite artists. “But yeah, Damn Real is a bit slow. I have a remix I’d like to suggest, just to jazz it up. It’s the NINESTATEFLEX remix, and it’s bomb as hell. The beat is a little more suitable to waacking, but it’s up to you.” She shrugged. “I’ll listen to it and adjust my movements. Thanks.” Namie smiled, as she wrote down the version she would be later downloading off of the internet. Luckily, it was the weekend and she still had about a good six days to make revisions. And since it was a remix, not an entirely new song, the accountant knew that she could handle making those changes to her choreography by today, and adapt to the new steps by the end of Tuesday. Smiling to herself, she felt pumped. This was an opportunity to get her name as a performer out there in the greater D.C. area. The thought of becoming a full time dancer or performer, it sounded incredible. She already enjoyed the pace of learning how to dance, as well as being able to express herself as an outlet, so to have more opportunities to do so, and to get other people inspired to join in with it, it sounded increasingly like something she could pursue an actual career in.

“I hope she’s not nervous.” Wei and Claire exchanged glances nervously. It was finally the day of the end-of-winter showcase. Namie’s performance was somewhere towards the end, so the wait and suspense were eating away at both girls. “Oh, I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Emiri rolled her eyes. She was also getting impatient, because she was only there to support her sister. None of these other performers even mattered to her. “Wow, how are you even related to Namie and Wei? You’re like heartless of something.” Niall raised as eyebrow at her. “First rule of newly dating somebody, don’t shit on their family.” Emiri glared at him. “And also, I hardly consider Wei my family. Yeah, we’re blood related and all, but I hardly know her.” “She’s got a point there.” Wei agreed, not entirely enthused by the thought of being closely associated with somebody so straightforward and ruthless. “Sh! I think Namie’s performance is up next!” Kimmy looked at them. Out of all of the five, she had been the only one closely paying attention to all of the performances and the program in general. As she was an avid fan of Wei, Kimmy just appreciated the performing arts as a whole. So each and every dancer to have gone up on stage thus far has been a great inspiration to her. “We need to be quiet, especially if there are scouts in the audience. We don’t want to distract her or detract from her performance.” Niall realized aloud. He was right. And with that point, everyone else’s bickering came to a halt as Namie made her way up towards the center of the stage. She was draped in black, with fishnet leggings and a face dowsed in a heavy amount of eyeshadow and mascara, just to give her overall appearance more intense features to match the song she was about to perform to.

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blood stained road

She was wandering this strange world for such a long time. It felt like years since she had seen a familiar face. She still remembered her friends, two young men, and how the three of them would be able to sit together and laugh at the simple things in life. What happened to those times? Succumbing to her doubts, she fell to her knees, clutching her head tightly with both hands. She could not understand why things had to happen the way they did. The three of them were promised a chance to explore the world. However, the situation soured quickly. Only one of them could leave their town. A small, rural village, in the middle of the mountains. None of them had ever seen the outside world before. They did not know life beyond those mountains. And when offered that opportunity, their friendship fell apart. Her friends, they argued and fought, screaming over each other why they were most deserving of this chance. The girl, she was willing to step down and let one of them travel. She was happy, living a simple life, and was okay with staying there with one of her two friends. But that was not good enough for either of the young men. Their tactics quickly shifted from arguing and debating to much more extreme measures. The consequences were dire. She still remembers that day. When she arrived at their usual spot. A small clearing on the cliffs, overlooking the rest of the village. The normally lush flower garden was stained red. One of her friends weakly crawled over to her, the stake pressed through his chest dragged through the dirt, and he grabbed her ankle pleadingly. He quickly succumbed to his wounds, coughing up blood, unable to utter his final words. Gasping, she quickly looked around the field, screaming her other friend’s name. Walking closer to the edge of the cliff, she was horrified. Her other friend, body mangled beyond recognition, was left hanging off the edge. Shuddering to herself, trying to cast off that horrendous memory, the girl frowned. She did not want to be the wanderer. But she wanted to honor their memories and dreams of escaping the village. For her, living out her friends’ wishes was enough for her to continue living on. She did not want to remain in the village, and be constantly reminded of their demises. She wanted to live a life, free of her trauma. Free of her pain.

 

Righteousness: dream 38

Righteousness, chivalry, I do not give a shit what you call it, I just wish we can all have it. Having the same set of morals is definitely something we can all benefit from as a species. Now, life is unfortunately not black and white. That damn gray area is what causes so many people to be split. Their perspectives would then be based on their experiences. And no, I am not trying to advocate a dystopian world where everyone lives off of a hive mind. Mostly because, I refuse to be copied or copy something else. I am my own person, and anyone who wants to render that fact otherwise can have their teeth curb-stomped. Okay, now back to righteousness.

Righteousness for me includes morals and etiquette. I just want everyone to be polite and nice to each other. It sounds weird at first, but it is that hard to say “hello” or “good morning” to a complete stranger (within your age group, just so that we do not encourage little kids talking to potential pedophiles)? I tried it recently on campus, and most of these students just treated me like I was some kind of weirdo. Some of them would say “thank you”, but most of them thought I was either mistaking them for a friend who looked like them, or that I was bat-shit crazy. Whoops. Did not mean to creep you out, students of my campus. I was just trying something.

But beyond just saying hi to people, righteousness include helping those you see in need. I remember seeing a girl struggling to get her suitcase up a flight of stairs, and nobody helped her. In fact, I saw people walking around her, as if she was in the way. So I went up to her and helped lift her suitcase up the flight, because if I was in that situation, I would love it if somebody else could do the same. Having empathy is where I am getting at here. Putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes when they are in trouble, and trying to help them. Prove that chivalry is not dead, and I am not saying that only young men should help out, no, girls, let’s band together and show that strength in numbers and unity! Who said acts of chivalry can only be performed by a man? That is idiotic and too 18th Century.

Being able to have a strong sense of what is right, and being able to implement it is what it means to be righteous for me. I really wish that everyone can try to be more welcoming, kindhearted, and empathetic, because it will serve you well in life along the way; more people will gravitate towards you, and with more people, more opportunities. More doors open when you are righteous. I want everyone to optimize their potentials and opportunities, which is why I hope we can all gain that sense of empathy and caring.

Open doors: realization 23

Growing up is scary. I’m nearing the end of my career as a student and it has been stressful. My father always pressures me, using numbers like rent and salary to give me perspective on how fucked I am going into the hospitality industry. Thank you, dad, you know exactly what to say to make me feel confident about adulthood. In my college, what we in the hospitality school stress about is getting into management-in-training or MIT programs in restaurant groups or hotels. These programs basically guarantee you a manager position within three years, but they are rigorous and difficult; almost every MIT I had met has burnt out and quit the industry, with the exception of two. That’s how hard it is. For me, I was stressed heavily over trying to become an MIT myself. I thought by getting one in accounting, my life would be set, and then I can reach my 5 year goal of becoming a director of finance. But life, as we all know, does not like to work the way we want it to all the time. For me, the biggest issue was that I could not get hired for this program for accounting as of yet. And it stressed me out. For a while, I thought that this was the only way to shut my father up about my career and future.

I still don’t know if I can get into this program. However, I am confident in my ability to climb ranks and do well in whatever it is that my job is; my experiences with the culture club and food publication show that, with me becoming the presidents’ advisor in three years, and the editor in chief in two. I know that so long as I am given a hand of cards to play with, I have a great chance at winning the game. That’s because I am determined. I don’t want to give up on the life handed to me. Even if my father is a grade-A asshole for trying to freak and stress me out, so long as I ignore him, I know I can get to above where he expects me to go in due time. It’s his impatience and ridiculous sense of urgency that pisses me off, but I know I can do it.

The reason for the title of this post is that I have come to realize that life is full of opportunities: therefore open doors. There are endless possibilities of where you want to go with your life. You don’t have to just stick to one path if that path does not make you happy. I will admit that shifting gears and changing careers can put you behind peers of your age already doing the same thing, but you can push yourself and get to their level, if you really are passionate about it. One example is my sister’s friend, who I shall dub Mitch. Mitch, she started her career in hospitality in her 30s after teaching kids in Asia English and Spanish. She became a front desk agent after that career, so in her really early 30s. And within 1-2 years, she got promoted to being a human resources manager. Not even coordinator. Manager. And she is getting another promotion to become the regional HR manager for the hotel group, and it’s been less than 4 years since she started in this industry. She managed to rise to the same, if not higher level than most of her like-aged peers, in just 3 years. It’s because she found her passion, and ran with it.

I don’t know if hospitality is what I really wanted to do. I only enrolled in the hospitality school because I loved to cook. Granted, cooking for fine-dining was stressful, and cooking for a living, I would need to live in a box for the rest of my life. Honestly, the box does not sound too horrible. The hours don’t either. But I know with where my skillset is at right now, I would need either culinary school, or to keep working in kitchens to get to the same level as people who did go through it. I still don’t understand what is keeping me from completely going back in to the culinary world. With my four experiences with fine-dining, only one went badly. The other three, especially my most recent stint at a James Beard Award winning restaurant, it went phenomenally well. So maybe for me, I didn’t look hard enough. I got too carried away in what my vision of success was. Success, like perfection, they are both terms that are subjectively defined. For me, having a future where I can be financially stable and happy, that is success. Maybe that door will open for me someday. But for now, I keep looking. I keep working, so that I find my way to a feather-light life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solitude: dream 11

Being alone. Yeah, we finally get around to talking about this. What makes this more of a dream post than a realization is that it speaks more to taking isolation and making it an opportunity, rather than just being a self reflection on being lonely and how to overcome that. That being said, solitude. Just being alone can be very difficult for people. But as an introvert, I thrive on it. I need time alone just to recharge, relax, and really grow. And to truly be alone, I need myself to be my sole concern and thought. To reach that state, it requires a lot of isolation. I just feel so empowered in my little bubble.

When there is nothing else around, I can finally take a moment to think about myself, my needs, my wants. While yes, having the company of others is nice and appreciated, being alone is really how I thrive and grow. When I am with other people, I am so distracted by their problems and lives that I cannot focus on my own at all. Their needs consume and overtake mine. I cannot love others and myself at the same time. I always put others first when it comes to my attention and time.

There is a point where it is okay to be selfish. It is okay to want something for yourself. In this case, I think time and space are very important. I need time and space for myself so that I can relax. When I am relaxed, I see the world in a different way. I can truly begin to appreciate the beauty around me, learn new things, and develop more as a person through gaining this additional perspective. My biggest source of happiness comes from walking on the beach… alone. Yeah, it sounds like an e-harmony profile gone wrong, but it’s the truth. I need to be alone so that I can enjoy the view and the sensations. When I am with other people, I get nervous for their safety, self-conscious about how I am presenting myself, and the entire experience becomes that much more different.

Being alone, soaking in the solitude, that’s how I continuously learn more as a person. I can ask myself what I really want from life, and what it is that I really love to do. Being able to escape from reality, it gives me the clarity to find those answers. I don’t have to be distracted with that class assignment or those job applications or paying my rent. My only concern in those moments is me as a person. I can give my life more purpose and reason.

Darkness: dream 9

This post is a test of my sanity and happiness. Just writing about my inner darkness is a trigger for my anxiety and fears. That photo was taken right before I tried to jump into the 0 degree F ocean. But if I can overcome that fear and write about it, then I’ll just come out of this stress that much stronger.

My biggest fears include being left behind, dying without a sense of purpose, and the darkest would be growing old alone and being left behind and completely forgotten by my friends. That one really scares me.

When I’m in this state of darkness, reason doesn’t exist to me. I felt alone, scared, worthless. I feel like nobody else understands this uncertainty and numbing fear I am experiencing, and that just pushes them away.

The biggest challenges in overcoming that are: properly communicating how I’m feeling so that people understand why I need help, and taking this feeling of loneliness and turning it into something positive. I need to make sure that, even though I’m alone, that I can take this as an opportunity to make new friends or focus on myself.

You can take these dark moments in your life, and find ways to embrace them. See them as challenges to overcome to make you stronger. Being afraid and being nervous are understandable. Trust me, I know the feeling all too well, and talking from retrospect, I wish I could have seen my situation in that light. Unfortunately, if you do succumb and you make irreversible mistakes, just learn from those and find new ways to move on. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You just need to find it first.