Way too much time on social media

Ok people. I’m cutting out Facebook.

Or rather, I’m cutting down my time on Facebook.

All this time spending browsing through news feeds and pictures of engagement photos, wedding photos, babies, new jobs, new loves, new everything, happy everything….it sickens me. I’m just not in a good place to accept it all and I’ve gotten way too many comparison hangovers than I care to have.

I, like most people these days, wake up by swiping their alarms on their smart phones, then swipe on their home screen and touch the Facebook app button. Bam! In my blurry eyed face are posts of fun happy times of other people that I’m not enjoying and probably won’t for the next few months….or ever. Thanks for the start to my miserable day. Motivation deflated. Happiness popped. Inspiration…where is it?

I’ll have to say that I’ve been making good steps to feeling better about my situation and it’s actually working. I’ve started my superstar routine this past week by deleting my Facebook app off my phone, removing the Facebook shortlink on my browser, and have limited myself to checking it once a day. Now, I start by checking the weather, then checking CNN for any relevant and/or juicy celeb news, eat a small bite, and go out for a run. I’ll do 30 minutes to an hour of exercising, come back and eat another small breakfast meal before a shower. Then, I complete all my online duties at home, make some lunch for Gavin and me before heading out to the library/coffee shop to study/work/apply to jobs/read or do something else productive. I come home at a decent time to make dinner or go out with friends. I sleep at a reasonable time and I feel great.

Having a routine makes a world of a difference, at least for me.

It establishes something to look forward to, and it provides order in my world. I don’t deal well with scatter and I definitely don’t deal well with too much time on my hands to be scouring through news feeds of happy people’s lives.

So, I’m taking a break. A break from the evil empire that is Facebook. I’m also taking a break from Drop That Eggroll, though I’ll still be tuned in with the episodes. I’m still on twitter though that platform still confuses the heck out of me. You’ll find me on this blog more often, and I’ll be in touch on Instagram (still part of FB, but a little less evil), Pinterest, and Yelp! These platforms don’t leave me with as much of a comparison hangover as Facebook does. Ew.

Goodbye sad times (for now). Hello happy goodness from not comparing myself to others so much. Yay!

Like running, like writing, like life

 I’m a huge fan of Haruki Murakami, though I’ve only read a few of his works. About a month ago, I stumbled upon a book of his that was unlike the others; it was a memoir of his running. This immediately struck my attention! I mean, why wouldn’t it? I love running. I love writing. I love Murakami.

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To be quite honest, it wasn’t anything really riveting. Often times, he’d go off into different tangents and try to link things together. For this kind of work–a memoir/diary/running log to recount his feelings and thoughts–it works. What I really enjoyed though, in addition to being able to relate so much with him, was the endless amount of inspirational quotes to parallel my life right now. Here’s one that really captured me today, on his talk about his unfavorable finish time of the 2005 NYC marathon:

“But in real life things don’t go smoothly. At certain points in our lives, when we really need a clear-cut solution, the person who knocks at our door, is more likely than not, a messenger bearing bad news. It isn’t always the case, but from experience I’d say the gloomy reports far outnumber the others. The messenger touches his hand to his cap and looks apologetic, but that does nothing to improve the contents of the message. It isn’t the messenger’s fault. No good to blame him, no good to grab him by the collar and shake him. The messenger is just conscientiously doing the job his boss assigned him. And this boss? That would be none other than our old friend Reality.”

This book is indirectly helping me cope with my own reality now. I’d really recommend it to all my friends, struggle or not, runner or not. It’s a great, short, inspiring read.

To end this, we’ve got to keep remembering….

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
― Haruki MurakamiWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running

It’s been a vicious ride…

….and it’s still going.

These past couple of months have been spent feeling really motivated, really deflated, really hopeful, really rejected, really neutral, really discouraged, really anxious, and all around stressed. The waiting game hasn’t done me well, as I’m not a really good waiter. I do and I try and I want things to happen now, but it doesn’t really work that way. I keep reminding myself that good things come to those who wait but the other part of me feels like it’s a bunch of bullshit.

Though I’ve been stressed in different intervals and intensities, I can’t deny that I’ve had an incredible and overwhelming number of support from my family and friends. The ones who care about me have shown that they do, and have done everything in their power to help me. The words Thank you simply cannot express how grateful I am for this kind of support.

A job doesn’t define who you are, but it certainly helps with bringing some sort of order and meaning to a life (and without saying, some dough!). I appreciate the here and now–the freedom I get to do what I want during the day. But you can’t deny that it can be a rough tide to ride sometimes.

To those who feel me and are in a similar situation, I’m hanging in there with you. To those who have and continually support me, I owe you all my gratitude. To those who have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry about it and appreciate what you’ve got now.

What are you?

Do you remember that song back in the 90′s (I’m talking to you, Generation X and Y) by Meredith Brookes that goes, “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother, I’m a sinner, I’m a saint, I do not feel ashamed…”? Yeah, nostalgia’s got me thinking today.

As this is the start of a new year, I thought I would take some time to evaluate myself and figure things out about my life. Let’s start the year off right by looking into who I am, who I want to be, and how can things in my life can be improved. Well, I’ve been dragging this idea around for some time (like, a month and a half) and I thought I’d throw it out there to see if you can help me with an answer.

What am I?

Go up to anyone and ask them what they are and you’ll probably get some answers like, “I”m a human being–duh!”, “I’m a man/woman”, “I”m a 4th year at UCR”, “I’m a 25-year-old loving mother of two”, “I’m Chinese American”, or “I’m a Gemini”. Aside from all the concrete categories that make up people (actual occupations, nationality, ethnicity, biological make, birth/star alignment), what makes someone something?

A couple of months ago, I was running with my close gal pal and she was talking about being a writer and a runner, among a lot of other things. And I thought to myself, “hmm..what makes a person a writer? Or a runner? Or a foodie? Am I any of these things?” I certainly don’t consider myself a writer. I don’t get paid to do it. Sometimes I enjoy it (it’s rare–this post took me ages before I began to write it…and even now I’m still reluctant! I had to stop and eat a bowl of chicken wings because I needed something to distract me. And now I’m distracting myself again with this parenthesis! I digress. As usual.) I have a blog, but it’s not updated frequently. I love running, but I don’t consider myself a runner. Well, I run, but I don’t think I’m very good at it, therefore I’m not a runner. I share a passion for good food and good coffee, but I’m not an expert. Am I not a foodie or a coffee connoisseur?

So at the end of the day, if you like to do something, but you don’t think you’re good at it, don’t get paid for it, and only do it sometimes, are you still that thing? Is there a standard or requirement you have to meet in order to proudly state that you are? Is simply having a passion for it enough?

People classify each other all day long. That person is a hipster, this person is high-maintenance, that guy must be from Canada. I think how you define yourself based on your own standard is the best way to look at yourself. So if that’s the case, I’ll tell you what I think I am. Judge at your will, but I’m proud to be…

* a runner (marathoner, albeit really slow at it… and leisure runs)
* a foodie (or person who appreciates good food at a good value and loves to cook and bake)
* a hipster lover (I <3 their style and the way they always deny that they’re hipsters and that everyone hates them)
* a coffee drinker and lover
* a writer
* a blogger
* a podcast-er (www.dropthateggroll.com)
* a baker
* a cook
* a boba addict
* a good friend

These are all things I can’t necessarily quantify, but they are definitely some things that make up me. So, what are you?

My tips on training for a marathon…and such

Recently, I had a friend who reached out to me because he was interested in running a marathon next year. A couple years prior, I had several other friends who asked me for advice on training and running. It was really puzzling to me because I never really thought of myself to be any kind of expert, despite really enjoying the sport. I gathered up all the information I knew and mustered up some words to help guide my buddies into the sport that I love.

With that, I thought I’d share it to some of you who were curious to what I think marathon training should entail. It might seem a bit scattered brain (I’m mostly ALWAYS scatterbrained), but I think you’ll get the point. Most of this stuff you can find online from actual real, paid experts, but I’ve summed up what’s worked best for me.

Here ya go:

First things first: Why do you want to start running? Ask yourself, why do I want to do this? Is it something on my bucket list? I’m almost turning 30, 40, or 50? I want to lose weight? I’m running for a cause/a family member/myself? I want to see if I can really do it? Find your motivation and make sure it sticks with you the entire time.

Training for a marathon: To start off, it’s always good to give yourself around 4-5 months to train before the actual marathon. Have a running schedule in mind and make time for it during the course of each week. For my NYC Marathon, I used a schedule similar to this: NYC moderate training schedule, but there are a number of training schedules you can find to fit your needs. Generally, I try to run 2-3 times during the weekdays and have my long runs on the weekends. I’ve also found that doing some cross training (weights/hiking/pilates/Bar Method) have helped strengthen my muscles.
When I trained for my first marathon, which was the 2009 LA Marathon, I trained with a running/ charity group called AIDS Marathon (APLA– the same folks who does AIDS Walk). It was really helpful to run with a group of people and to have support (water stations, snack stations, volunteer cheerleaders) as I trained each week. But that requires you to raise money for them (sponsorships and such). There was a method they used called “The Jeff Galloway run/walk method”, where you would run and walk in intervals. I loved it and it helped me build up my endurance a lot faster. Personally, I feel like a lot of beginners use this method and there really is no shame to it. The benefits is that you can run/last a lot longer. The downfall is that some people find it very hard on their legs (they cramp up or get charlie horses). Here’s more info on the run-walk method: http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/run-walk/. I’ve used it 3 out of 5 of my marathons and would usually run 6 minutes and walk 30 seconds. I really like it and probably wouldn’t have been able to finish my first few marathons in a good time without it. For my most recent marathons, I’ve generally ran most of the time with far less walk breaks. I trained on my own, but I also attribute my running muscles to being accustomed to running longer distances. Don’t push yourself too hard; take it really easy.
If you’re not a runner and you’re just starting out, I’d suggest running as much as you can, up to 3 miles. Slowly build up to it and don’t worry about how fast you run your miles. Training slow will help you become a faster runner, seriously. If you are fairly confident in your running abilities, find a schedule that is a bit more challenging, which includes more sprint training and tempo training. Those will help you get a very competitive marathon finishing time.
Gears and such: Whenever I go run, I like to bring my running watch which helps keep track of my interval times (if I do run-walk) and my running splits. These past couple of years, I’ve been running with my smart phone that has a tracking app. I find that “mapmyrun” has been helpful in keeping track of my miles when I free run on the streets as well as the “Google Tracks” app. If you have any leg injuries or certain parts of your legs are weak, I’d suggest being extra careful and finding ways to not hurt them. I have weak knees (not from running) and so I wear knee braces to protect them and hold them in place.
Something very important that I cannot stress enough: I feel like the right running shoes will make or break your running experience. I’d suggest you go to a specialty running store to get yourself fitted with the right shoes for you. The store I go to is in Pasadena called Run With Us and they are super kind and friendly. There is also A Runner’s Circle somewhere in Los Feliz, which I hear is also good. Here you will be able to find all sorts of running shoes and running related supplies.
Fueling up:  During my training runs, I always bring a bottle of water with me. Even if it’s a short run, I think it’s still necessary. For long runs (13 miles+), I put Gatorade in my water bottle and bring some “Gu“, which are energy gels that help fuel me on the run. Before short runs, I like to eat a lighter meal of just fruit and toast or oatmeal. For longer runs, I fuel up on carbs the night before, drink plenty of liquids, and eat a decent sized breakfast. Make this a habit so when it comes to marathon day, you’ll have a routine down and your body won’t freak out and do something new.
Last thoughts: Even though I really hate it, it’s really important to stretch often. Runners are known to be inflexible so if you can do it before and after your run and even on days you don’t run, it’s a good thing. Find a good marathon where it’s got great scenery, a good course for your needs (lots of flats or lots of hills), and some place where you want to run. Train in different places for your long runs and bring a friend out to help you if you can. Sign up for smaller races that lead up to your marathon to help you stay on schedule and give you a feel of what being in an official race is like (5K, 10K, half-marathon, etc.). Do your best to stay on track and stay motivated. It’s hard during the winter time, but make time for you to run, whether it be at the break of dawn or the break of dusk. Slow and steady wins the race. YOU CAN DO IT!!
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The voice of the internet!

A good buddy of mine, whom I haven’t seen in nearly half a decade, and I decided to try out podcasting. If you’re interested and/or have the time, feel free to check out our website and have a listen.

http://dropthateggroll.com/category/podcast/

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Our weekly podcasts are usually about Asian/Asian American related topics, but sometimes can be off the wall. It’s really all things in our perspective. Hope you like it. Cheers!

Coffee, coffee, coffee

Anyone who knows me knows that I like hipsters (don’t hate) and hipsters love coffee. I don’t love hipsters because they love coffee and I don’t love coffee because I love hipsters. I love them both independently! I just needed to get that out there.

Ever since my wee days as a middle schooler taking my first sip of Starbuck’s caramel frappuchino (now considered a coffee connoisseur’s sin)  to working part-time as Starbucks barista in college, I’ve developed a taste for coffee. With each passing year, I get more and more bold and try coffee with less and less “fluff” (aka sugar and cream) to the point where I’m okay with black-as-night coffee. But, that makes me a fairly picky person when it comes to picking my coffee.

After being a strict drinker of tall soy no-foam lattes at the ‘bucks, I moved overseas to the land of, what I thought was, tea. Japan is, contrarily, the land of coffee…..but from what I’ve discovered it’s more like the land of INSTANT coffee.

Dun dun dun!!!

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And the land of CANNED coffee….

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Oh no no no no no NO! That was way no bueno for me. I guess my choice of leaving my comfortable individually prepped lattes should have warned me about my impending fate. As a school teacher in my small town of Kibichuo, I learned to deal with the instant stuff, but I truly despised it. If there was canned stuff, I wouldn’t drink it because of all the fluffy sugar it had. It just wasn’t right. Coffee seemed mistreated there.

On the other hand, if I wanted the good stuff in Japan (which I could get if I tried hard enough and drove far enough) the price for a droplet (I exaggerate, but it might as well have been a droplet) would be about 300-700 yen (~$3.00-$7.00 USD). Absurd. Literally drowning my money away.

So, I had to shoot myself to Jupiter–literally, there was an import store in Okayama City named Jupiter, to get my golden taste of Illy coffee. As any coffee aficionado would know, pre-ground coffee is ALSO a sin (among practically everything else), but I had to deal with what I had–which was not an at-home grinder (and given the product prices in Japan, I was happy without one).

Say hello to my best friend and hero in Japan…

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Though it was 1200-1500 yen ($12-15 USD) a pop, I had to have it to tingle my taste buds in my cold deserted, mountain home.

Fast forward to now and I’m back in the US of A– the land of convenient awesome coffee! However, now the issue has flipped and I have way too many choices. Honestly, go to any market and there is a dizzying array of coffee selections. But with the invention of the Keurig coffee pod machine (one of which I don’t have– yay old fashioned makers), my selections have been boiled down significantly. I favor the lighter roast (and the lighter prices) so I decided to give Target’s Archer Farms Kona Blend light roast coffee a try. I know, I know…I could have easily gotten some Starbucks brand whole bean, but Japan made me used to the easy, already-ground coffee. The verdict? It was surprisingly delicious! Not too strong of a flavor, it was just the right fit.

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And with the holiday season, which really should be called pumpkin season, I decided to be frisky and try their Pumpkin Spice blend.

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The pumpkin spice was really inspired by my cousin in Fresno, who had a unlabeled Tupperware box of ground coffee, which I tried and deduced it to be pumpkin based on the flavors in my mouth. That, too, was delicious.

You might think that I’m content with my at-home coffee selections, and in a way I am, but I want to start back up my coffee snobbery (very hipster of me, isn’t it? Don’t judge!). I’ve tried Intelligentsia, Jones Coffee Roasters, Stumptown, LAMill, Illy, and so forth, and though I like them all, I’d like to get your take on it. What at-home coffee do you like? Is it affordable? Is it something you’d like to be buried with? What do you normally drink? How do you normally drink it?

Better yet, let’s go get coffee and tell me all about it. Any takers?

As a parting gift, here’s a favorite clip of Portlandia that cracks me up every time.