Adulthood – Interviewing

I hate interviewing.  Can I just leave it at that?

Just kidding.  But seriously, interviewing is one of the most nerve wrecking things.  Actually, it’s the entire process of having to find a new job.  I’m not entirely sure I know anyone who really enjoys the process but for me, it gives me a whole new level of anxiety that makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and pretend that no on in the world can see me.  I know it sounds extreme but whenever I go through the job hunt process (which hasn’t even been that much), I’ve had to go through a whole slew of emotions and anxiety that is motivating and demotivating all at the same time (if that’s possible).

I remember the first time I had to find a job, it was right out of college and the interview process was a little less formal.  Luckily, I had an internship at a big company and they offered me a job when I graduated. The interview process in college was a phone interview and then the interview process after was more of just seeing which teams I wanted to join.  After that, I stayed with the same company for close to 6 years and knew how the internal system worked.  When I switched jobs, I knew how to answer the interview questions, I knew what I needed to say and the interview process made sense to me.

The second time I really had to go through the process was when I left said company and tried to change industries.  That was the first time I realized just how much I disliked this process. Maybe the reason why I dislike this process so much is because it means that I have to make the decision as to what I want to do and who I want to be.  It’s a much bigger decision to try and make sure that whatever my next move is has to be the right career move for me, it can’t be just something that is going to propel me forward in whatever direction I want to go.  But that’s just the thing, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  I don’t want to grow up and so having to make sure that all my decisions are moving me in the right direction seems inherently difficult.

Then the process of having to apply for jobs and the anxiety that comes with constantly waiting and hoping that someone will respond to you.  That is a whole ordeal within itself.  Hoping that someone thinks your resume is that great that you can move onto an interview is terrible.  Especially if half the time, you’re waiting to get through a computer system.  Then comes the actual process of trying to convince someone you know what you’re doing.  You can be yourself but not always yourself if that makes sense.  I had someone once tell me that I just need to be my goofy and chaotic self in interviews and I’ll be good.  The fact that someone called me chaotic is … worrisome to say the least.  I’m not entirely sure that my chaotic self can really convince anyone to hire me.

Then it’s the process of waiting for the offer, and hoping that you did well enough that someone will just be so excited to have you on their team.

Why must this entire process be so stressful?  It’s one of the few things that reminds me that being an adult is really not my favorite thing in the world…

Book of the Month Club – Obsession

I joined Book of the Month Club a few months ago and I have to say that it is one of the few things that I am more than willing to spend money on every month and I don’t regret the decision at all.  You see, books are one of the few things that I have loved ever since I was a kid and by loved I mean that I have always been slightly obsessed with them. When I was younger, I loved just being able to hold a book in my hand and smell them.  And the better I got at reading and processing what I was reading, the more obsessed I became with books.  The idea that I could get immersed in a whole different world and go on a completely different journey just by reading was amazing to me.  I would get lost of hours and hours in my books and it was almost like I couldn’t stop reading.  I craved it and craved the escape from reality to a different world that didn’t exist and stories that captured my attention.

Once I got older, reading in school was no fun.  I had to analyze everything and I couldn’t always pick what I got to read. It became work rather than fun and I just wasn’t as interested in it. I read some really good books as I grew up and through school but nothing really made me as excited to read. And when I finally stopped going to school, I have to admit that I stopped reading.  I even made it a goal of mine every year.  At the start of every year for the last 10+ years, I have made it a goal of mine to read at least one book a month.  For the last 10+ years, I have never achieved that goal.  It’s never been something that I’ve been disciplined enough to do. Until this year.

I think that it is a combination of the Book of the Month Club and a new tactic a friend introduced me to that has prompted this increased interest in reading.  My friend told me that his goal is read at least 20 pages a day in his book regardless of the day, the time and where he was in his book. So I started trying to do that and now I can’t seem to stop reading.  In addition, the books from Book of the Month Club have been fantastic.  I have to admit that I have purchased additional books from them because they have amazing choices.

You pay a flat fee and every month on the 1st, they release 5 titles and you pick which one you would like for the month.  The flat fee includes the book and regular shipping.  If you want, you can add more books to your bundle for the month for another fee (usually cheaper than that of a hardback book) and get this delivered to your door.  The selections for these books have been on point in my opinion.  I have yet to be disappointed by any of the books that I have purchased.  In fact, I usually finish the books just a week or two after receiving them. I would say that this has inspired me to start reading again, it has reignited the urge to read and it has changed my views on reading.  So much so that I have read 11 books this year and counting.

If you are looking for something to motivate you to read, or something to provide good recommendations on books to read, or you just want to pick up reading again, I would highly recommend checking out Book of the Month Club.

Bangkok to Los Angeles

The next morning, we woke up and wandered downstairs for breakfast.  I cannot say that anyone was really in good shape but we were all still alive and that was all that really mattered at this point. We sat with our friends, reminisced about the evening and then decided that we wanted a brief moment alone with the bride.  Her husband had already made it downstairs for breakfast and so we knew that she was alone.  So we ran upstairs and bombarded her room to say hello and tell her how happy we were that she was married. It was one of the only moments we really had alone with her and it was  amazing.

Finally it was time to say our goodbyes to the group. It’s interesting because I do not see myself as an exceptionally emotional person but for whatever reason, having to say goodbye to the group this time was pretty rough.  I think part of it was because I wasn’t going back to Seattle where most of them would be going and the other part is that we all live in such different places that seeing each other isn’t a common thing anymore.  I cried slightly, partially because I am a contagious crier and the other reason was because I knew that I was saying good bye for the foreseeable future. We loaded into the vans and our group headed off to the Bangkok Airport.

We arrived and it ended up being too early to check into our flights so we sat on the floor of the airport and finally started to decompress from the trip.  It was one of those moments where we could finally just sit and relax which we hadn’t done for awhile.  Finally, it was time for us to check in and we made our way through the airport to the lounges.  We didn’t get a chance to use the lounges on the way to Asia and this time we could finally use it for our trip which was fantastic.  We got some food, hung out for a bit, charged all of our electronics and then boarded our flight to Taiwan.  The connecting time in Taipei was short and we ended up landing late so we ran through the Taoyuan Airport to our gate with just enough time to make a bathroom stop before boarding the plane again for the 14 hours home.

I was asleep for most of the flight home and that really helped passed the time.  When we finally landed in LA, made it through customs and made it home, I finally had time to reflect on the experiences over the duration of the trip. As I settled into my bed and sleep started to take over, I realized just how sad I was to be home.  This was by far one of the best trips I have ever had and one of the best experiences I have ever had.  I’m not sure if it was because I got to hang out with elephants and cross a few things off of my bucket list or if it had to do with the fact that I had just spent time with some of my favorite people. But whatever it was, I was more sad than normal to have landed back at home and go back to real life. Usually, I am ready for my bed and ready to go back to reality but this time, this was not the case. Even with that realization and being sad that the trip was finally over, I am so happy that I am left with the memories of the journey that I had and the experiences I had on this trip.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Dance parties in Sattahip, Thailand

One thing that I love about weddings would be the dance party and the fact that it is a pure celebration of happiness.  There is no part of it that is sad.  It is a few hours where nothing else in the world exists except for that pure bliss that you see radiating from the happy couple. This celebration was exactly that except that it wasn’t just a few hours but rather hours upon hours of celebrating.  We danced to all sorts of music that ranged from American music to French music, a little something for everyone.  We spent the evening and nighttime rolling around in the sand, wandering through the Gulf of Thailand, tracking sand into the infinity pool and celebrating the happy couple.

At midnight, we decided it was time to set off Chinese lanterns to celebrate the events of the evening.  It was the perfect way to end the evening, or at least pretend to end the evening.  We brought out boxes and boxes of the lanterns, lighters and set them up.  When you get them, you have to unfold them and take the flammable portion and attach it to the lantern with the wires and then find a way to light it.  It’s a difficult feat when you’re tired and hot and your arms start to get tired (like me.)  I got mine lit and then I stood at the edge of the water and waited patiently for the flame to generate enough heat to fill up the lantern and lift into the air. It definitely took quite some time to get to that point where it was ready to fly up into the area.  And while I stood there, I watched the people around me laughing and celebrating as we all tried to get our lanterns to light and fly up into the world.  It was a strangely peaceful moment.

Finally, my lantern had enough heat that it finally lifted out of my hands and floated off into the abyss of the night sky.  The sky above us and above the water became speckled with little orange lights as the lanterns floated away.  It was wonderful until… the cops came.  Apparently lighting lanterns during this time was a type of celebration that was against the law because the country was still in mourning.  So for those people who hadn’t lit their lanterns or let them go, we had to put them out and clean up all the left over lanterns to save for a later date.

We continued our dance party and around 2AM, I gave up.  I couldn’t do it anymore.  We hadn’t really had much sleep the entire trip and this was our last night in Thailand before heading back to the U.S.  I was at that point where I was too tired to fully function and I needed to go to bed.  My eyelids were heavy and we had been celebrating for so long that I needed to go to bed.  So I went back to the room, showered (which was the best feeling in the entire world) and then climbed into bed to read for a bit.  I read about a page and a half before I fell asleep with my Kindle on my chest.  I woke up a few hours later to the lights on so I put everything away and immediately fell back asleep. It was officially the end of our trip.

Sattahip, Thailand

After checking into the hotel, I wandered up to my room and set my stuff down.  It felt good to put my feet on stable ground.  I opened up the blinds and at that moment I knew that this would be the best end to the trip.  Right outside of my window was a private beach and the Gulf of Thailand.  It was unreal to say the least.  As I looked out over the water, we watched them set up for the private wedding that we would be having on the private beach at sunset. I have to admit that for this trip, I didn’t do much of the planning and I didn’t pay as much attention to our plans as I probably should have.  I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on.  In fact, at one point, I was a terrible person and texted the bride to make sure I had a room at the hotel because I couldn’t remember if I had actually RSVP’ed to the wedding.  I knew that I had sent a message to her months in advance to say that I had purchased an airplane ticket and that was all I had done. Luckily, she took that to mean that I would be attending the wedding.

So standing there staring out over the Gulf of Thailand, I was shocked at what I was seeing.  I didn’t expect a private beach wedding and, in all reality, I didn’t know what to expect.  I wasn’t even entirely sure that we were going to be there for a wedding because I thought that it was just the reception/party aspect that we would actually be attending.  I was only half right.  We wandered downstairs to meet up with everyone else because we were told that we had to be downstairs by 5PM.  There we enjoyed some drinks and a view of the Gulf of Thailand with palm trees reflecting off of the infinity pool.

When it was time, we ventured out to the sand and took our seats to watch our friend get married.  There’s something inherently heart warming and amazing about seeing two people so in love.  It was great to see my friends during this ceremony because it was the perfect ceremony for them from the setting to the way the vows were expressed to the random commentary they would throw out.  When the ceremony was over, it was time for some pictures followed by dinner.

When it was time to finally settle in for the meal, we were all starving by then and the food couldn’t have come at a better time. The spread was unbelievable to say the least.  We had a buffet line with noodles, rice, vegetables and various other dishes. And then to the side we had a freshly made to order papaya salad complete with spices and all the toppings. I have to admit that this specific salad bested my tolerance of spicy foods and I struggled to finish it but regardless it was delicious.  Just to the right of the papaya salad table was the freshly grilled fish and then just past that was the freshly roasted pork.  We could have eaten all night long but my stomach can only handle so much food before the food coma set in.

After the food comas started to settle in, we moved onto our talent show.  Yes, we had a talent show.  It’s not often that you get to experience a talent show at a wedding but it happened.  And the best part was that we had such a melting pot of talents.  People sang in French, rapped in French, sang in Chinese, danced, did impressions/stand up, taught dances and sang in English.  It was quite the talent show and one of the more entertaining things that I’ve seen in awhile.  Afterwards, it was time for the dance party and the rest of the events of the evening to transpire…

 

Bangkok – Wishbeer and Weddings

The next morning, we woke up early and repacked all of our belongings.  We had to get prepared for the long day we had ahead of us that would involve a lunch time reception, a wedding ceremony and an evening reception. We all met in the lobby of our hotel with everything we owned and made our way down the street to a local brewery called “Wishbeer” which is a local beer company in Sukhumvit, Bangkok.  Our friends were actually partnered with them and provide the food for the company.

It’s a great little location that is kind of hidden.  You can find signs for the company along the main road but you have to walk down a side road and there is a small sign that shows where the front door of the business.  When you walk in, there is a little hallway that opens up to a warehouse time location that is very modern and it was beautifully decorated for the reception.  We started off our morning with some freshly brewed coffee, beverages and short photo shoots with pictures of the couple.  Then they played the engagement video which was adorable.  Immediately following the engagement video, the lovely couple walked out of one of the hallways and it was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip at that moment.

I had met the groom two years ago in France for the first time and now I was seeing him celebrate his wedding to my friend in Bangkok.  And seeing my friend whom I’ve known for years standing in her wedding dress with the biggest smile on her face was by far one of the best things I could have ever seen.  She saw our friend group from school and walked over to say hello. It was at that moment that I knew that I was truly a very lucky person. Seeing my friend for the first time in two years and feeling like no time had passed was by far one of the most wonderful experiences.  There’s a lot to be said about the fact that I was surrounded by people from all over the world and we were all there to celebrate the same thing.  The union of two people that we loved immensely.

After all the hello’s we sat down at our tables and enjoyed our lunch.  It was a perfect opportunity to catch up with everyone because you can really only catch up so much at the bars.  Plus, we had added a few people to our group who had arrived the night before.  When we finished our lunches, it was time for everyone to find all of their belongings and begin our two hour journey to Sattahip.  We loaded into the various vans that were booked for our drive and after a bit of confusion, we finally were on our way to Satthip.

This was a relatively uneventful drive out there. If you’ve ever driving out to Pattaya or Sattahip from Bangkok, you know that it’s not the most entertaining or enthralling of drives out there so if you have a chance to take a nap, I would highly recommend it.  Once we arrived in Sattahip, we started driving down the coastline toward what we thought was the hotel only to realize that we were driving in the wrong direction and were going to be late getting to the hotel.  Our driver decided that he was going to make up for the time by flying down the main roads to get us back to our hotel.  It was terrifying because driving in a taller van makes you feel like you’re driving a lot faster than you would feel in a sedan.  After a relatively eventful 10 minute drive back toward the correct hotel, we arrived, unloaded our belongings and checked into our rooms.

24 Hours in Oslo, Norway

I have to admit that my views and experiences in Oslo, Norway are a little skewed since I was there on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  That means that the entire city was quiet and predominantly closed but here are a few things that I think you should do if you’re there.

  • Check out the main shopping street in city center.  There’s a road that is lined with stores and great little restaurants and coffee shops.  When I was there, I walked by multiple buskers and performers.  In addition, during the holidays there are great holiday lights strung between all the buildings.  It is beautiful and a great place to take a walk.
  • Check out the Vigeland Sculpture Park. It is about a 20 minute walk from city center but totally worth it.  It’s great to be able to see the rest of the city on your way over to the park and to check out what the city has to offer.  If you aren’t interested in walking, you can definitely take the tram over there or the buses.  The park has over 200 sculptures and a coffee shop plus a museum (which is closed during the holidays).  It’s a rather large park so you could spend quite a bit of time there to check out everything there.
  • Go to the Munch Museum to check out the Scream painting.  This is literally across town and a small building just outside of a major park that is home to multiple museums.  It is worth it to check out this area if you like museums.  If you don’t like museums, then check out the park.  It’ll take you awhile to walk through the park and it is a great little leisurely stroll.
  • Check out the Royal Palace over near the water.  There is a great walking path up to the Palace and a beautiful park near by that you can sit and relax.  As you can tell Oslo has lots of parks that you can check out and  relax in.
  • Go to the water front.  If the weather is nice and the water is warm, there are diving boards off the docks that you can use to jump in the water.  If it’s not warm, it’s still worth it to stand on the docks and see the beauty of the coastline.  It’s super peaceful and serene over there.  You can also check out the museums and the restaurants along the docks while you’re over there.
  • If you’re looking for some food for on the go, I would recommend checking out some of the deli’s around city center.  They have great options for to go food for a decent price.  If you’re looking for a good coffee shop, I would recommend the Espresso House or a coffee shop around the city center.
  • Take a walk around the business district of Oslo.  There’s a lot of shopping and a lot to see around there.  There are some great stores and things to check out plus there’s a lot more going on in that area.  It’s an interesting contrast to the rest of the city because it is significantly more modern than the rest of the city.  The architecture is a nice contrast to the older buildings near the city center and the water front.

I would recommend staying in Oslo longer than just a day if you can, and avoid the holidays there since everything shuts down.  But if you find yourself there for only 24 hours, these are just a few suggestions to make full use of your time.

Bangkok – Adult activities

We broke up into smaller groups to load into cabs so that we could all go to a place called Nana Plaza.  You would have thought that at this point, we would have separated into different groups who didn’t want to go to Nana Plaza and would go home but for whatever reason, all 14 of us went to this area together.  I’m not going to go into incredible detail about Nana but let’s just say that it is an adult area.  I remember the first time I went to Thailand, one of my friends had actually booked a hotel for us near her place and for a decent price which ended up being just down the street from Nana Plaza.  We didn’t visit there the first time I showed up in Bangkok but driving by there on a Friday night at 1AM in the morning after a long journey, it is definitely an eye opener.

We settled down at a bar in the very center of the area where it was an open bar that you could see everything around you from the walk ways to all the bar options all around us.  We sat here because then people could go off and explore and check things out while having a “homebase” and we would be able to keep an eye on everyone.  We would know where everyone went and for the most part, one of us had a view of the main walk way out at all times. We ordered our beverages and the night continued on from there.

Finally, it hit a point where we were no longer interested in being out and we had an early morning the next day.  The main reason we had all flown to Thailand was the wedding happening the next day.  So the girls split off and left to go grab a cab.

We had looked at Uber and found that we could grab an Uber for 100 Baht to get back to our hotel and so we knew that we could barter with the taxi cabs on the way home.  Grabbing a taxi instead of an Uber was preferred in this situation because the Uber’s were about 12 minutes away and there are taxi cabs that line the streets outside of the adult areas in Bangkok, especially during this time of night. So we crossed the street to the direction we needed to grab our taxi on and tried to find someone who would take us back down the street.  One thing to keep in mind when it comes to grab taxi’s in Bangkok is that it is recommended to be on the right side of the street if you’re heading down the main roads, especially if it’s the roads with the metro stations because if you catch it and have to make a U-turn, it can be rough.  Those lanes are about 3 to 4 lanes deep in one direction and can be a bit rough to make turns, especially when there is heavy traffic.

We started out trying to find a taxi and I have to preface this experience with a short note.  I have a friend who loves to barter and she’s fantastic at it.  In fact, I don’t think she’s ever paid full price for anything from a street vendor or a taxi cab. So we let her lead the charge to get us a cab. Rather than sticking with the 100 Baht, she started low, really low and asked for a cab ride for 50 Baht.  After about 5 cabs telling us no, we finally got a cab for 100 Baht and made our way back to the hotel. We went our separate ways to our rooms and settled in for the night.  The next day would be jam packed and the chances of getting any sleep would be slim to none.