reunion, reflection, resolution

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on December 30, 2009

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find ways in which you yourself have altered.

– Nelson Mandela

Last week, I attended a mini-reunion for my middle school class. I had a great time catching up with those who attended and hearing about those who didn’t. The Gifted Magnet Program made our class truly unique – we were diverse before diversity became a buzz word. We came from all walks of life (ethnic, religious, socioeconomic). In three dynamic years together, we grew together, taught one another, and learned with each other. We all went separate ways after graduation but, 10 years later, a link still connects us all – some stronger and thicker than others. By the end of the night, we reached a consensus: our class wrecked havoc yet got away with so much.

I’ll advocate for magnet programs any day. I went to magnet schools from 4th to 12th grade and I have so many fond memories from those formative adolescent years. I’m still reaping the benefits.

What will the next 10 years bring?

As you get older, every choice that you make defines who you’re going to turn into. So…you need to look at yourself and ask whether you like the person you’re becoming.

– Alison Humphrey, Gossip Girl

2009 is coming to a close. Who will you be in 2010? Actually, forget that last question. As someone emailed to Post Secret this week, “No More Resolutions. Just change.” Ta tabula rasa.

Have a great New Year’s Eve celebration! Welcome the New Year in style! Make sure there’s a designated driver!

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merry christmas, part deux: highlights

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on December 26, 2009

christmas eve:

  • everything mentioned in the previous post
  • debut of my short hair for the family (and revisit my faux hawk)
  • chats about Peace Corps

christmas day:

  • dim sum (crazy line, speed eat)
  • “Avatar” in IMAX (took up 3 rows)
  • football (first touchdown!)
  • dinner (double fist pumps, passing cousin around the table)
  • “The Hangover”

this christmas. all about the family. come to think of it, that’s how it is every year. hip hip hooray. 🙂

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merry christmas, part un: traditions

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on December 24, 2009

Over the years, I picked up the “responsibility” of Christmas shopping for my extended family a.k.a. mostly cousins. When I was younger and still lived at home, I really enjoyed this task. Prior to the trip to the mall, I’d make a list of all my cousins based on seniority of my mom and her 11 siblings. For the record, I have 20+ first cousins just from her side of the family so I didn’t want to forget anyone by accident.

When I was younger, I tackled this task with gusto. With shopping list in hand, my family would head to the mall, shop for each cousin, and pick up presents for gift exchange. Sitting in traffic and standing in long lines for the register didn’t bother me. Each person’s present was hand-picked (usually to reflect their personal style) and taken up to the register to ring up. Just in case s/he didn’t like the present that was chosen for her/him, a gift receipt was enclosed in the gift box so that s/he could exchange the present received for something desired after the holiday.

I enjoyed this less after I went away to college. I wasn’t as eager to embark on a couple rounds of holiday shopping after returning home from travel and finals. Sadly, this sentiment carried over after I graduated from college. It felt like a chore I was coming home to do. I just didn’t have as much fun shopping anymore. It felt too materialistic at times. Call ’em the Scrooge years.

This year, the sentiment is different. I caught myself on the borderline of holiday cheer and Scroogeville while sitting in traffic after a full day of holiday shopping. I was tired. I was hungry. I didn’t want to swipe plastic cards anymore. All I wanted to do was complete my to-do list and head home. Just as I was about to become irritable, an unexpected wave of reality washed over me:

This is the last Christmas I’ll have with my family at home for the next two years. Next year, I’ll no doubt be craving for this stuff: driving to the mall and trying to find parking, zigzagging through mayhem with other last-minute shoppers, returning home with armfuls of presents waiting to be wrapped. That’s not even what I’ll miss most from the holiday season either.

On Christmas Eve. Loading the car with bags of presents. Driving to grandmother’s house. Stopping at a relative’s house on the way to pick up/wait for/carpool with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Finally heading to grandmother’s house. Driving past houses decorated with holiday lights. Arriving and unloading the presents. Walking in and seeing more aunts, uncles, and cousins. Seeing the decorated Christmas tree and piles of presents flooding the floor around it. Holiday feast in the kitchen. American, Chinese, and Vietnamese dishes. Dinner in shifts because not everyone fits in the dining room at the same time. Younger cousins initiating the gift exchange process. Time for presents! Gift exchange comes first. Who has number 1? Number 2? Keep going until everyone has opened their gift exchange present. Now it’s time to distribute presents of all shapes and sizes. Parents mark the perimeter as complete madness ensues. Claim a spot on the floor and plant yourself there. Here’s a present for you. Watch out, present being passed over your head. Oh, here’s another one! And another one! Oh wait, a couple others for you too! Excitement fills the air as hands tear off wrapping paper and “thank you”s fly around the room. Younger ones play with their new toys. Older ones pile their boxes of opened presents atop one another. Piles are grouped by (immediate) family. Large bags are filled with crumbled up wrapping paper. It’s an efficient process played out over the years.

Family coming together at this time of year every year. This is what I enjoy most (and will miss most) about the holiday season. Gifts are just icing on the cake.

Merry Christmas! I hope you spend it with those you love, too!

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conversation of the day: faux hawk

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on December 23, 2009

i drove into downtown to have lunch with a friend. her job has a secure parking lot so i needed to check in before i could park. during the check-in process:

parking attendant, after checking my driver’s license (photo of me with long hair): why did you cut your hair?

me, smiling: because I wanted a mohawk.

parking attendant, laughs: did that work out?

me: yup!

hahaha. i was so memorable, the attendant waved goodbye when i drove out of the parking lot after lunch. good times. 🙂

p.s. GO BEARS! we’re playing in the Poinsettia Bowl. i miss tailgating. i love my alma mater. GO BEARS!

What is Peace Corps? (family & friends)

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on December 20, 2009

For my family and friends,

This post is written especially for you. During a drive with my mom today I realized:

  1. Most people do not know what the Peace Corps (PC) is (even though they know I’m joining it) and
  2. I haven’t been very good at explaining what PC is (even though I’ve been telling people I’m joining it).

I want to answer your questions and prevent (and clarify) any misunderstandings.

Official website: Obviously, this site provides all official information as published by the U.S. Government. Above all, there are two areas in this website that I want to point out to my family and friends:

An unofficial but equally if not more useful resource is which lists blogs kept by PCVs. It’s helpful to read what other volunteers are doing at their sites, how they’re living, etc. For blogs kept by PCVs serving in Morocco, check out,mo@blog. I’ll add mine to this group once my travel plans are confirmed.

Ask me questions, too! I don’t know what you want to know unless you ask me.

Finally, keep in touch. Yes, my request comes prematurely which means you have no reason not to once I’m overseas. (Alternately, you can start now. :)). In all seriousness, I’m excited and scared. Your company and support (via any of the methods mentioned above) will mean so much to me. Yes, this is a fact I already know.

Happy holidays, everyone!

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