Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crossroads of My World

There are times here and there and everywhere in between when I feel like I need some change or I need to set up some change or I need to start thinking of setting up some change. These are crossroads in our lives and we all encounter them. It's the moment when you think about your life and wonder if you should continue down this path or follow a different road.

I mentioned a few weeks back that I got a promotion at work. I getting involved in my new products and responsibilities and tasks, which is great. And I do love the title: Product Support Director. But there's always this jabbing in the back of my psyche that's telling me to pursue what I've always wanted to do: study film.

Even in my current occupation I strive to find creative outlets in my work. And in life insurance, there isn't much of the kind of creative opportunities I'm looking for.

So. After spilling the beans to my good friend and neighbor Wally and discussing my options for 2.5 hours, I've decided to finally enroll in some film classes. Just to get my feet wet.

Hopefully I'll start taking classes by January. I'll still maintain my job in the meantime. It's going to be a busy time, but like the half marathon taught me..

It's tough and grueling, but so rewarding in the end.

I hope that will be the case.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Party I Never Had

I love my parents and all the parties that they gave me growing up, but I never had that big budget blowout birthday bonanza other kids had. And by "other kids" I mean my Kwan/Ong cousins. ;)

So that's why when I set out to plan my big once-in-a-lifetime 30th birthday party, I wanted to go big.

After two months of planning and brainstorming and crafting, my Very Potter Birthday came and went and was a huge hit. I spent a lot of time getting crafty and made a golden snitch, a goblet of fire, a shelf full of prophecies, school banners, a mandrake, and more. Check out the pictures below:

One thing that I did and didn't tell anyone explicitly was that I made all 7 horcruxes and hid them around my pad. It was fun watching guests get that epiphany and ask me "Are all the horcruxes hidden??" And then I watched as they set out to find them.

I also created a playlist with Moaning Myrtle sound bytes and played it loudly on the top shelf in my bathroom. Many guests were surprised and even frightened by what they heard.

Eric thought of using a Pensieve to show a slideshow of pics. So I figured out how to do that with a cardboard box, laptop, and a candle dish. People were blown away by the effect.

Of course I had to mimic the Great Hall and float some candles overhead. Wingardium leviosa really works!

The goblet of fire was a simple idea that turned into quite a headache. It didn't turn out how I had hoped, but was fine all the same.

Cake from Portos. Or did Hagrid make it?

Krystine made me these amazing golden snitch cake pops!

Hired this super cute cartoonist. He was also very talented. Dominic draws the most attractive caricatures!

A lot of fun all night with coworkers, family, neighbors, friends. Everyone who has a special place in my heart.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Thirteen Point One

I know I still have a Harry Potter birthday party to blog about, but I had to talk about this huge accomplishment yesterday.

I completed my first (and possibly last) half marathon!

I signed up back in March and all but planned to train hardcore for it, but when I started, my shinsplints were horrible. I thought they would go away after I got my new running shoes, but they didn't. So even though I was only up to 2 miles on the street, I stopped running for a while to let my legs heal.

And then I suddenly had a Harry Potter party to plan. And out went my desire to train.

Which then led to the Disneyland Half Marathon fast approaching. When it was one week away, I jumped on the elliptical and tried to work on some stamina, but with as little impact to my knees as possible. And I tried to eat lighter.

Well, I only did the elliptical twice and as for the eating thing.. let's just say Hooters and burgers and Chipotle and Yogurtland and Korean BBQ and.. got in the way.

So essentially I was screwed.

The Saturday before the race, I Metrolinked down to Anaheim and met up with Chelsey who had signed up with me. We went to the required Health Expo to pick up our race kits. Seeing the marathon bib suddenly made this entire thing so real.

We carb loaded on beignets, Boiling Crab, and a homemade spaghetti meal. And the rest of the Saturday we spent constructing our last minute Disney costumes.

She was going to do an Incredibles costume, but decided to turn her red shirt into Lilo from Lilo & Stitch. My costume was a bit harder to think of. I already bought a tan running shirt and black running shorts and pink running hat. So we looked in the Disney library to see if any characters fit that color scheme. And we thought about Little Brother from Mulan. Yes, the dog.

There's a great scene (and maybe his only scene) where Mulan ties a bone on his back that dangles over his head. As he chases the bone, he helps her feed the chickens. What a great idea for a running gag (pun intended). So I started gathering material to see if this could work.

I cut out a bone from a paper plate. I wanted to keep it light as possible. Then I found a durable wire (a stem from a fake rose). I taped that to the bill of my cap and hooked the bone through. It worked remarkably well. Then I rounded out the costume with a giant paper bag spot on my back and lower back for my tail. Paper bag ears safety pinned to my hat. And a green collar made from felt.

On race day, we woke up at 3AM to prepare. I put Body Glide EVERYWHERE and we were out of the house by 4:10AM. When we arrived, we saw NO ONE ELSE in costume! But when we went to the round up area we saw some good ones.

The race itself was grueling, but fun. Around Mile 2 my ankle started to feel achy. Then around Mile 4 my knee started to feel like it had a knife jammed in it. And all down Ball Road, the run completely sucked. Like a trudge to the slaughter.

Chelsey was exhausted at around Mile 6 and wanted me to carry on without her, but I wasn't about to do that to her. So I did my best encouraging her; trying to pump her up to get going. We picked short term goals and ran to them and rewarded ourselves with breaks. Walked all uphill segments and allowed gravity to trot us downhill. We took every water break along the path and ate nasty protein shots. BLEHH!

We arrived at Angels Stadium where the Ong family was waiting for us. They spotted us and had encouraging signs. We snapped a few photos and continued on our way. They provided a MUCH NEEDED boost at the Mile 9 mark.

After Angels Stadium it was more or less a straight-shot back to Disneyland. My calves started cramping up but I took some time to stretch them out. My knee felt like it was going to fall off. But we kept going along with a great crowd.

Before we knew it, around the corner after 12.5 miles, a giant cheering crowd cheered! Running at this point was extremely painful, but their chants to keep going helped us muster the strength to go. We passed the Mile 13 marker and saw the finish. Chelsey and I made a mad dash to the finish. And my god, crossing that finish line was the most incredible feeling. I was so proud of us and could not believe what we had just accomplished!

We wore our medals proud. I'm still on the fence about repeating this next year. Now that I know I can do it, I feel like why not?? But it was tough and it helped tremendously to do it along with someone; to help push you along.