Posted in Life, Memory-keeping

2017 Best Nine

2017BestNine

From left to right:

  1. Captioned “15 years of love. 15 years of friendship. 15 years of cheating at board games” (My best friends, sisters, soulmates)
  2. Dad and I in front of Jesus, posted on our birthday
  3. Dad looking cool and handsome
  4. Snapchat photo of G and I, celebrating 5 years of togetherness (!!!)
  5. Dad and I, on one of our many trips to Big Bear next to our snowman
  6. A day spent with the Bez playing Nintendo
  7. G and I at my friend’s wedding reception
  8. Turkey Day!
  9. Bez’s birthday (she’s holding ice cream and a gifted Prince candle)
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Posted in Life, Music, Trippin'

Valentine’s Day 2018 Playlist

Wow, I really suck at keeping up with blogging! So, so much has happened since my last check-in it’s unthinkable to catch up on, so we’ll just skim it over, no? Valentine’s Day just recently passed and it was a good one. G has been in Sacremento getting ready to graduate and start his first civilian job (he’ll start in April, yay!) so we’ve been in a hefty long distance relationship for a bit. Thankfully, the light at the end of the tunnel is so near it feels unreal. Just thanking my lucky stars this is the last time we’ll be apart for so long for forever. Since he couldn’t be here on actual Valentine’s Day, we decided to meet halfway between us in a town called Visalia for the weekend.

I wanted to hit up Sequoia National Park on Saturday but I came down with a bit of a cold (flu, bug?) Friday so I wasn’t feeling up to it. I haven’t been to Sequoia since I was in middle school so it was a bummer, for sure. Luckily I started feeling better that night, just in time to make it to dinner at Harris Ranch, a real oasis in Central California. Super glad we made reservations because we had to wait a while even with them. I ordered the Prime Rib and G had the New York Steak. Amazing. G got me flowers and chocolates on actual Valentine’s Day, as well as Mario Kart 7 for my 3DS (I swear, we are adults). I got him a book filled with silly cartoons and reasons why I love him. I take Valentine’s Day as a perfect excuse to go disgustingly cheesy in the gift department. I always make G a Valentine’s Day mixtape every year (and for anniversaries–and occasionally for no reason because I love music and the people I love have all gotten a mixtape from me at some point). This year, I added some oldies but goodies as well as some lovey-dovey new stuff I’ve been very into. I have a big old file of songs I’ve already put on all his mixtapes over the years so I don’t repeat songs, which is something I’m keenly proud of. I hope everyone had a lovely commercial holiday as well!

Posted in Life, Memory-keeping, Trippin'

1 Minute Videos | June 2017

Wanted to drop in to talk about a little video series I’ve decided to start called…

“1 Minute Videos”…Yes! I upload videos to Instagram from time to time and, as of now, the video time allowed is only one minute in length. To be honest, I think one minute is the perfect amount of time to get a glimpse of, well, anything really. Maybe it’s my millennial lack of an attention span (I’m half joking), but a minute is such a sweet spot for a short “movie.” To kick off this venture, I present to you (part) of my month in June. Snippets include a trip to La Jolla with my mom, which is at this point a yearly tradition, road trip/camping footage when we went to Yosemite for G’s third ever triathlon, and my first taste of what a Red Bull strawberry slushie tastes like (heaven, btw). I didn’t film stuff for my birthday, which was really awesome and I’ll talk about separately and instead chose to document that in pictures. Anyway, maybe you’ll get inspired to try this out, too?

**Everything was filmed using my Samsung Galaxy S7 and edited using Sony Vegas Pro.
**Music is “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man.

Posted in Life

My Copper IUD Insertion Story

Image result for copper iud

That little beauty up there? That’s a Paragard Copper IUD. Who got one a week ago? THIS! GIRL! And I am SO proud of myself at the moment. I feel like everyone who’s had an IUD feels obligated to tell their story because it’s such a mysterious, potentially scary thing. I’m the only person out of my group of friends who decided to go the IUD route so I didn’t know anyone who had one. Did you know that while most U.S. women opt for the pill (25.9%), more and more of them are turning to the IUD (11.6%)? That’s 4.4 million women! (More Women Opt for IUD, Contraceptive Implant for Birth Control)

WHY AN IUD?

I’ve actually wanted an IUD for over a year months now but was too afraid to get one. What if it hurt a lot? Is it really worth the pain? Can’t I just stick to pills and be more diligent? Here’s the thing with birth control pills; I was so horrible at taking them at the same time each day and some days I even forgot to take them and would just double my intake the next day. This happened too often. And the feeling of, WHAT IF I’M PREGNANT?! would plague my mind until the date of my next period (and yes, even on the pill I would make sure to have my period each month although some of my friends only have theirs a few times a year–paranoia). I’m sure most women have had the same thoughts, which are never, ever fun. So, in short, it wasn’t that hormonal birth control pills affected me negatively–it was my negligence that made an IUD the smarter choice. Oh, and it bears mentioning, I wasn’t sure how long I’d have to get an IUD free-of-charge what with Trump in office at the moment, which is why I was determined to get it done this year.

WHY PARAGARD?

This is another reason it took me longer than it should’ve to get one. I wasn’t sure which IUD I should get. I decided on Paragard for a few reasons. The first is that I went off the pill around 3 months ago because my partner is in the military and left for his final 6-month deployment EVER (unreal). I do this every time he’s deployed to give my body a “break” from the hormones (note: there’s no scientific evidence this does anything at all but a crazy part of my brain says to do it anyway even if it sounds like woowoo). I figured I should keep this no hormones thing going with Paragard which uses copper and is hormone-free. Here’s an article from the NY Times that discusses why I ultimately chose this in more detail. Now, there are downsides to a copper IUD versus, say, Mirena which is a hormonal IUD. First, it doesn’t decrease menstruation and it may make periods heavier and cramping worse (Mirena often completely diminishes periods, which believe me you was very tempting to consider). Post-adolescence, my periods have always been on the shorter side (5ish days) and I would rarely get cramps even before taking birth control pills. In fact, I can remember every period I did get cramps because it wasn’t something that happened frequently. Again, though, I like to get my period every month (as confirmation) so it isn’t a big deal that I will continue to get it each month. This would be a huge downside for a friend of mine who only gets hers three times a year, for example. One other negative, at least for insertion, is that it’s bigger than the Skyla IUD (another hormonal IUD). The size of Skyla makes it easier to insert (e.g., less painful) for women who’ve never been pregnant and may have a tighter cervical opening (me) but it also only lasts for 3 years (more about this below). Another major plus of Paragard besides being hormone-free? It lasts 10 years! Enough to get through this administration and then some. Here’s a good website that compares all the top IUDs.

THE BIG QUESTION: DID IT HURT?!

I’m not going to sugarcoat this: It. Hurt.

I prepared myself by reading other women’s IUD stories online, which I think did help but also made me a bit more anxious because there were a few horror stories I came across. I knew the chances of it hurting were going to be in the 90% range from everything I’d read, especially since I’ve never been had a baby. A part of me hoped the bulk of people who told their negative tales only bothered to because they had a bad experience.

Some background on me. I’ve never been pregnant (which means my cervix has never dilated). I’ve never broken a bone or had kidney stones or experienced a debilitating pain of any sort. With that said, I don’t think my pain tolerance is low. I know this because I’ve done multiple back-to-back days of “wet cupping” or Chinese bloodletting therapy in South Korea, which is illegal in many countries including the United States and is utterly painful. There are tons of reasons why I did wet cupping and why I don’t regret it, but they’re irrelevant to this post. Maybe another day?

On a pain scale of 1-10, I’d say wet cupping was a solid 7 (mostly because the pain was prolonged). Getting my IUD, I’d rate a 5. Here’s the low-down…

Before heading to the hospital, I took 800mg of ibuprofen and ate a hearty meal like the advice I’d read online suggested. When I got to the hospital, I learned that my OBGYN makes everyone take a pregnancy test no matter what, so I had to pee in a cup first. Then the nurse checked the regular things like my weight, height, and blood pressure. I had to sign a consent form. The nurse then led me into a room to wait and instructed me to undress from the waist down just as if I was getting a pap. I waited 10 minutes in that room (which felt like much, much longer) and read everything on the walls (I learned a newborn will typically breastfeed 8 times in 24 hours–dang mommas!) To be honest, waiting was probably the worst part. I was so nervous…

My OBGYN came in and reaffirmed that I wanted the Paragard IUD. She told me the cons about it like potentially heavier periods and cramping. She showed me how big it was with a sample and explained how the strings would hang out of my cervix and told me to feel the strings and that I should check to see if I could feel them after each period to make sure the IUD hadn’t fallen out, etc. The IUD was bigger than an inch, which surprised me because I thought it’d be smaller. So seeing that actually made me more nervous. Then, she told me to lay back and put my feet up in the stirrups, just like with a pap smear. She inserted a speculum so she could see my cervix which was fine and didn’t hurt and let me know what she was doing with each step. The next thing she had to do was measure my cervix as well as insert the clamp to keep it straight for the IUD insertion. This was my first taste of pain. She inserted another tube-like thing called a tenaculum (the clamp, which actually pierces the cervix to hold it in place, hence the pain) and told me it might be uncomfortable and to take a deep breath in. It clamped onto my cervix and immediately I felt the sensation of a really, really bad cramp intermixed with being pinched in a highly, never-before-felt sensitive area. It was such a weird, painful sensation that I actually moaned in pain and said things like, “Ouch,” “This hurts–owww,” etc., which I didn’t think I’d do at all. You suddenly become completely aware of just exactly where in your body your cervix is and that it hates to be touched. The next thing she did was swab my cervix with a long q-tip dipped in Betadine to sterilize it for the procedure, which didn’t hurt, thankfully. I had a mini break there while she and the nurse prepared the other tube which held the IUD in it, which is called a sound. This was the most painful part of the whole procedure. The sound pushes the IUD (which has had its “wings” bent for easy insertion) up past your cervix into your womb where the wings then pop out. My doctor guided me through some deep breathing exercises; a big breath in as the sound was pushed to the tip of my cervix and a big breath out while it went through my cervix and released the IUD into my womb. The part where it was going through my cervix was super painful but I think the breathing helped (again, I mumbled “Owwwwwwwww” and such). It felt like the worst cramping I’d ever had on my period combined with this much more acute pinching pain. But! The good thing was after it was over and done with the pain immediately receded. And! The entire procedure starting with the speculum to the sound was less than five minutes. The most painful part lasted less than a minute.

THE AFTERMATH

It’s been over a week now since I’ve had the IUD and things are going great. The first day was not bad at all, thanks in large part to the ibuprofen I took ahead of time. In fact, I felt so okay that first day I went to my kickboxing class a few hours after the procedure. One thing that was uncomfortable that night was that I could feel the strings poking my cervix. The strings feel like dental floss, so they’re tough, and my doctor did say that they would…moisten…after a while, which they thankfully did by the next day. I did re-up on my ibuprofen because of that. The next few days I actually relied on ibuprofen a lot, especially because I kept my exercise routine going. Probably would’ve saved me some pain to skip a week, but it wasn’t so bad. I took about 600mg of ibuprofen before exercise and used a heating pad as well. The pain always appeared in the afternoon. This lasted for maybe 4-5 days. Currently, I’m on my period which came early. I did have spotting and it took me a minute to figure out I was on my period this week since technically I’ve been bleeding since last Thursday. I know it takes a few months (typically 3-6 months) for your body to get used to the IUD and periods to get regular. My period is definitely heavier than before but the cramping is non-existent as of right now. From the looks of it, it does seem like my periods will be longer and heavier, at least for the time being. Overall, though, I am so, so happy I finally got my IUD! The peace of mind is worth the minute of pain. I’ll more than likely update in 3 or so months to report on how everything’s going, but right now I’m so proud I went through with this!

P.S. If you yourself are planning on getting an IUD, pump this when you’re driving home or some similar anthem because you did it!

Posted in Life, Memory-keeping

1 Second Everyday | 2016

As part of my New Year’s resolutions for 2016, I set out to record one second of every day. I definitely wasn’t able to do so, but looking back at the nearly two minutes of 2016 I did capture has inspired me to keep doing this project in following years. I think it’s such a great way to do memory-keeping. I experienced so much in 2016, including personal loss, personal growth, traveling to South Korea for the first time in my life, and progressing in my education. Of course not all that is shown. In fact, a lot of the footage may seem boring. However, I remember each day in detail from a simple snippet. Whereas the photos I take are more thought out and deliberate, these clips give a greater sense of how my life was in 2016 and that’s why I love this project so much.

I chose to add music to my video, although it’s been argued to not do that in order to preserve what is truly happening in the clips. I totally agree and kept a copy of the original without music for my own safe keeping. For some reason, it’s a lot more personal than I thought I’d like to share. Plus I did want to make a video that had music in it, too. So there’s that.

My thought on next year’s project is to film at least one clip each week. You can see in my 2016 video that I tried filming every day and eventually started filming sporadically. Filming every day started to become more of a chore than fun, which is why I’ve decided to focus on once a week. The good thing is that I did manage to film a clip for each month of 2016, which is great. One thing I regret is editing in Sony Vegas Pro instead of iMovie. The quality would look so much better in iMovie because I still have no clue what I’m doing in Sony Vegas. I’m simply too lazy to edit it on my Mac after doing it on my PC though. Ah, well.

I highly recommend this project to anyone who likes memory-keeping. It is so easy to do and so powerful to look back on your year in moving pictures.

Without further ado…

1 Second Everyday | 2016 from Grace G. on Vimeo.

**Everything was filmed using my Samsung Galaxy S7. I edited it in Sony Vegas Pro 13 but had issues with it whitening the clips which are why they look a bit washed out at times. It’s a learning process.
**Music is “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” by Tame Impala.

Posted in Life, Memory-keeping

2016 Best Nine

bestnine_2016

From left to right:

  1. Visiting dad’s grave Christmas week
  2. Voting November 8th
  3. Celebrating four years with G
  4. G and I’s Rick and Morty Halloween costumes
  5. My favorite family photo of us dressed in hanbok
  6. Turkey Day spread ft. this incredible sweet potato casserole (I added a whole stick of butter instead of 1/4 cup–no regrets)
  7. A market during off hours in Jejudo
  8. A throwback of my dad and I
  9. My mom and I’s trip to Mount San Jacinto for my 26th birthday weekend
Posted in Life

And so it is…

Image result for results election 2016

Donald Trump is the president of the United States. I can honestly say I hate talking politics. That isn’t to say I don’t think they are important, etc. I’ve stayed mute on this blog throughout this election because 1) I don’t update it enough to keep a running tab on my opinions about U.S. politics and 2) I don’t like talking politics, particularly U.S. politics because it enrages me and I want this space to be a positive one. I knew the moment Bernie Sanders lost the primaries that it was going to be a slippery slope for Hillary Clinton to win the presidency. Like many Bernie supporters, after he lost, I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not to say voting for Trump ever crossed my mind because it sure as hell didn’t and voting for Hillary was also the last thing I wanted to do, but between the two, voting for Hillary was the right thing to do and I still believe that with every fiber of my being. The thing that surprised me the most were people’s shock and surprise that he won. Why didn’t she win? How did he win?

In the summer, when Bernie lost, I spent hours looking at reasons why Trump would win because it’s what I most feared when Bernie lost. I have issues with Michael Moore–and who doesn’t with anyone–but his piece on “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win” pressed me to do more of my own research as did Fusion’s “The Naked Truth: Trumpland” because they made me realize just how out of touch I was with a huge portion of the population. I truly wanted to know why people would vote for someone who was so obviously horrible in my eyes. I also dove deep into the rise of populism in the EU and took a harder look at the Brexit and just what it means for the entire world going forward (or entering into another cycle as I like to say).

There are so many reasons I am angry right now; so many reasons why I’m sad and disappointed; so many it would turn this post into a dissertation.

It’s easy for me to say voting for Trump was wrong. My mother is an immigrant and we had an “uncle” who was an illegal immigrant live with us until he could get up on his own two feet and become a citizen–he started by painting houses and now he’s an ophthalmologist in Los Angeles. And although I was born into the middle class, my family is one of the “lucky ones”–we were able to keep our heads afloat in this economy and are still able to even now. So many others in the middle class, the working class, are floundering. Both parties have failed them. And the reason Trump won was hugely because of that reason (and the Electoral College, but let’s not go there). When people are scared and angry and feel forced to choose between themselves and their loved ones’ futures versus what’s right, history has shown time and time again they will choose the former.

To add, I have friends who nearly all agree with me on my political views; liberals to the core. Most of us are the same; the people we most associate with usually hold similar values and because of that we can get stuck inside a dangerous bubble where our beliefs and our opinions are constantly validated by others in our inner circle to be what we consider as common sense and infallible and only goaded on by social media. This is so dangerous because it can make us believe “the numbers” are all true and that “everyone” is on the same page. Everyone except those who don’t take part in polls (newsflash: Trump voters), everyone except those you don’t associate with. The liberal media is a perfect example of that and another reason why Hillary lost.

I want to encourage everyone to please be your own journalist. Coming from me, it’s easy to say. I wanted to be a journalist for years. For others, that might seem like too much of a “hassle”; it’s simply easier to buy into everything you see and/or hear on your selected media outlets. However, please don’t. Please, please do your own research. Please don’t be complacent and completely subjective as incredibly hard as it is. I truly do believe that if only we had been our own journalists, things would have been different.

To be honest, I just had to get some feelings out of my system and this seemed like a better place than any to do that. It’s necessary in order for me to re-focus on how to keep fighting for what’s right. We have to keep fighting.