Sam's Ramblings

Pets, like friends, are usually the family members we get to select for ourselves. This is how I view pets, at least. There is a la...

Pets, like friends, are usually the family members we get to select for ourselves. This is how I view pets, at least. There is a large difference from owning your own pet from having a family pet. I think that many of us who grow up with family pets don't realize all the realities of having that life depend on us. I would definitely include myself in this category which is how this post gained the concept for writing. 

1. Pets tend to be expensive - This might sound odd, funny or obvious but it's true. Between grooming, vet bills, toys and food, pets cost a mini fortune when you start to add all the money spent together. Obviously, certain pets are much more economical than others, think fish versus a cat. 

2. Pets can be high maintenance - Once again, think cat or dog versus fish. Fish, outside of cleaning the tank, are relatively low maintenance. Dogs are on the high maintenance spectrum with exercise, attention, affection, training and grooming (dependent upon breed). Having a Pomeranian, for instance, kills my wallet in the grooming department. 

3. Traveling can become hard with pets - Pets have to be factored in when traveling, even if it is a short trip. Will you have someone come over to check on the pet or will you board the pet? How much do you want to pay or can pay for either of these? Do you have family or friends that wouldn't charge or would be more reasonably priced? Another thing to consider is if you want to bring the pet with you. Boarding fees, shot requirements and more then need to be factored and considered when planning a trip. It just got a whole lot more complicated, right?

4. Pets become part of your family - Pets become our confidants, our shadow and take a special place in our hearts and lives. This is a very positive thing and sometimes they can really be great support systems, especially those suffering from anxiety, depression or other mental/cognitive illnesses. Caring for a pet also acts as a really good grooming tool for those considering children because, like children, they rely solely on your to survive. 

5. Just because you want it, doesn't mean it works for you - This is a hard lesson, but it's one that needs to be faced. Many people want the cute puppy or kitten until they have one. They realize their work and personal life schedules don't line up well with properly caring for the pet. Others learn they have allergies or can't properly bond to the pet. All of these are scenarios in which it is better to give the pet a proper home than to keep it with you and make it and yourself miserable. 

Who says swiping is only for online dating?! Well, if it was you, you'd be wrong. Friendship finding applications such as Bumble BFF (ye...

Who says swiping is only for online dating?! Well, if it was you, you'd be wrong. Friendship finding applications such as Bumble BFF (yes, Bumble has a friend portion) and Hey! Vina exist and use the swiping method. 

Why a Friendship App? 

Well, if you know anything about me, I'm not from the current state, let alone city, I live in. When you are an adult that works a lot, it's hard to meet people and that leads to being friendless. It's an awfully isolating and miserable experience, honestly. 

Experiences Using Friendship Apps?

First, like anything else, there's going to be hit or misses. We are not meant to befriend everyone, have a relationship with everyone and not everyone will work well with our personalities. This is something to keep in mind because a decent amount of people are awful at conversation, don't want to meet you and/or are flakey. This shouldn't completely turn you off because it happens in real life and yet we still try to date and have friends, right? Right. 

Out of the four friends I have in Houston, three of them came around because of friendship apps-two from Bumble BFF and one from Hey!Vina. I am highly grateful for the apps because these ladies are awesome! We can talk about family, dating, food and go out for brunch or go to a yoga or spin class. We clicked enough using the app to exchange number and hangout in person and the rest, as they say, is history. 

The negative is I've matched with people who don't use the app, are flakey or some other various that doesn't sit well with me. I met one lovely woman who just doesn't make an effort to communicate, at all, not even responding to a basic text. A few others were all about going to get drunk and that doesn't fit with my personality so that was a pass. Clearly, these people were ones I unmatched and moved on with my day. 

Would I Recommend Using Friendship Apps? 

Absolutely. Even if you aren't new to your area, people change, friendship groups grow smaller and people move away. There's nothing better than to have people to talk to about random things or to go out with. Just like with dating, there are some really great people who are on the app which an app worth while. I'm partial to Bumble BFF because it's where I've had the most success but I highly recommend trying both Hey!Vina and Bumble BFF. 

As the advice giver amongst my friends, I always find myself thinking of what advice I can share with others. I would say at 28 years old, ...

As the advice giver amongst my friends, I always find myself thinking of what advice I can share with others. I would say at 28 years old, I have some wisdom that should be shared. This does not mean, in any way, that I am all-knowing or perfect. This list is of lessons I've learned over the course of my life so far. 

1. No one's family is perfect, most families are dysfunctional 
and all families have problems. 
2. There is always room for improvement. 
3. Friends who challenge you, push you, support you and are there for you are the only kind of friends you want around. 
4. It's okay to not be productive every waking moment of every single day. 
5. Making time for yourself is essential. 
6. Taking care of your mind (mental health), body (physical health) and heart (emotional health) is important. No one health is more important than the other. 
7. Fake positivity is just as bad as constant negativity. 

8. Skincare is very important, regardless of what kind of skin a person has. 
9. Makeup is a choice, not a requirement. 
10. Healthy looks different on every person. 
11. Clothing stores all have different sizing which can negatively impact mental health.
12. Professional dress does not mean black, white or grey. 
13. Accepting yourself is an important part of mental health.
14. What works for others doesn't always work for you.

15. Using cheap, harmful hair products is a big way to flip off your own hair.
16. Everyone has insecurities. 
17. Pets offer unimaginable mental and emotional support.
18. Dating can be stressful, rewarding, draining and disappointing. 
19. Love comes in many forms. Everyone loves and needs to be loved differently.
20. People are complex and don't always fit in a neat little box.
21. Living alone can be wonderful and awful at the same time. 

22. Life is expensive.
23. Traveling can give you the most rewarding experiences.
24. Social media is both a blessing and a curse.
25. When you show you are capable, people will always expect you to go above and beyond. 
26. Working in corporate can drain you mentally and emotionally.
27. Higher education doesn't do enough to prepare students for the realities of working in the workforce or guide on realistic compensation. 
28. Smiling makes people view you as approachable. 

The much talked about concept of "The Bucket List." I created one a few years ago and finally feel confident in sharing it. The id...

The much talked about concept of "The Bucket List." I created one a few years ago and finally feel confident in sharing it. The idea of having this list is to have something to reference as you go through life and say "I did things and experienced things I really wanted to." Do you have a bucket list? If not, are you thinking of creating one? 

The List

1. Live Abroad

2. Go to Asia
3. Go to My Ethnic Backgrounds as an Adult
4. Work for a Global Company
5. Get Married to a Life Partner
6. Buy a House
7. Live in LA, Seattle, Boston or back in NYC
8. Cut My Hair into a Long Bob
9. Dye My Entire Head Pink
10. Live Alone
11. Get a Dog or a Cat
12. Go on an African Safari
13. See the Pyramids in Egypt
14. Become an Instructor (Cycle, Yoga, Mat Pilates or something similar)
15. Buy a Luxury Car
16. Travel Solo

What I've Accomplished 

1. Travel Solo - I accomplished this earlier this year in February when I went to Taiwan. I'm glad I did it because the experience was fantastic and I saw I enjoyed traveling alone.

2. Go to Asia - Once again, Taiwan checked this off but Thailand will also check this off when I go next year.

3. Go to My Ethnic Backgrounds as an Adult - Within the last two years I've been to Puerto Rico, Spain, Italy and Portugal. This summer ensured I checked this off.

4. Buy a Luxury Car - In June I began financing an Acura so that has been checked off. 

5. Live Alone - Last July I moved into my first apartment alone. This has been checked off for over a year. 

6. Get a Dog or a Cat - Earlier this year I put a deposit down for my Wei, a Pomeranian, and picked him up in March. This was going to wait another few years but after the death of my beloved Rusty I didn't do so well and ended up getting a puppy.

I've been dating since June of this year and there have been a lot of first times for me that I figured I should share. It's importa...

I've been dating since June of this year and there have been a lot of first times for me that I figured I should share. It's important to share findings and stories so we can all feel a sense of community. Also, I can't be the only one running into these  situations so here we go.

1. Dating Multiple People at The Same Time - I've never really been one to date loads of people and see where it goes. I dated three guys at the same time which was a first. Sadly, none of them were a fit but it was interesting trying to juggle names, back stories and such. For those who normally date multiple people at the same time, you are really cool and I salute you because it's exhausting and slightly stressful.

2. Using Dating Apps Consistently - I've never actually stuck to any dating app or website until this past summer. Granted, due to personal choices, I have slowed down the usage, but I did faithfully use them from June through the beginning of September. I went on several dates and dated two guys consistently before it not really working out. 

3. Sleeping Over on the First Date- I normally don't sleep with or near someone on the first date because I really need to be comfortable with someone to actually sleep. Case in point, I slept over the guy's house and slept maybe 30 minutes. I "woke up" exhausted and cranky. It proved that I should listen to myself and not do it. 

4. Having Better Chemistry with a Friend - I was dating this guy and met one of his friend's at his house party. Safe to say his friend totally charmed me and I had a little zing when he touched me. The friend and I had undeniable chemistry. I ended up going on a date and sleeping with said friend, after the guy and I parted ways. 

5. Mixing Up Back Stories - During the time when I was dating three guys at once, I mixed up back stories on two of them. The positive is the guy took it well and laughed because he said he never told me if he had siblings or not so it's not a big deal. You need to keep like a notebook when you're dating multiple people, I swear. 

I have to start out by saying I LOVE Taiwan. I'm definitely planning on returning within the next few years. The culture, food, peo...

I have to start out by saying I LOVE Taiwan. I'm definitely planning on returning within the next few years. The culture, food, people and shopping were all amazing. If Taipei isn't on your list, you're missing out on a great city and some really awesome food. The night markets are well worth attending between the food and the items shown. Personally, I acme back with a quarter of my suitcase filled with souvenirs, clothing, beauty products and snacks. I decided to compile this list so hopefully it piques your interest in Taipei, Taiwan. All these photographs are mine. I took them while in Taiwan earlier this year. 

1. Taipei 101 - This structure is like the Empire State Building of Taiwan. It's known for having the fastest elevator in the world and is a beautiful modern building with hints of its Asian roots in design. It also boasts restaurants, an observatory for a fantastic view over the City and shopping.

2. Moon Bus - This is a total tourist trap/Instagram trap but it's cute and right across the street from Taipei 101. I think the best time to see it and take photos inside of it is after 10 pm at night. 

3. Shongshan Ciyou Temple - One simply does not go to Taiwan and not see a temple, or four. This is one of the most famous temples in Taipei which means it is almost always extremely crowded. It's near Rahoe Night Market so make sure to go to this temple midday or so to stay for the opening of the night market. 

4. Chih Nan Temple (Zhinan Temple) - I walked so many steps to get to this temple but every step was worth it for the magnificent view and the interesting stories about the temple immortal mixed with the temple itself. 

5. Lin Family Mansion and Garden - This tends to be very crowded but it was very pretty with true Chinese architecture very obvious within the buildings and the layout. 

6. Ximending - Think a calm, clean and less expensive Times Square and you get Ximending. This is where I purchased the most stuff from socks to souvenirs for family and friends. It's totally worth it and if you can't find it in Ximending, it probably doesn't exist!

7. Raohe Night Market - Here is where I tried deep fried soft shelled crab! It was delicious, in case you were wondering. This is a famous night market and is very crowded but very interesting. There's a lot to see, buy and eat. Definitely worth the crowd! 

8. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall - First, this has an incredible view of Taipei 101 behind it (reference the above photo). Second, there's so much in this area to see and read and know. Very interesting and easily accessible in the Xinyi District, a 20-ish minute walk from Taipei 101. 

9. Lungshan Temple - This temple is always VERY crowded and one of the busiest temples around. It's not only beautiful but also very humbling. The earlier you go, the better! 

10. Tonghua Night Market - This night market was literally a two minute walk from where I was staying so I ended up in it several times for dinner and to buy things such as fruits and souvenirs. It is a bit more local and less touristy which I loved but it's still pretty packed during the "peak" hours. 

Netflix has been stepping up to the plate and has added loads of Korean and Chinese Dramas to the fold, some are also Taiwanese, Japanese a...

Netflix has been stepping up to the plate and has added loads of Korean and Chinese Dramas to the fold, some are also Taiwanese, Japanese and Thai. Coupled with that, in order to jump on the wave, Netflix has produced its own Korean and Chinese Dramas, I believe there is a Thai remake of a Korean Drama, too. This makes me a happy camper since DramaFever was cut only a few months ago leaving me with Viki, which I love, but sometimes it doesn't hold everything I want to see. So if you love Asian Dramas or never watched one, this list is for everyone! 

1. Ashes of Love (Chinese) - This Drama is a 2018 Chinese Fantasy and Romance show. I watched it as it was on air in China through Viki and fell in love. It's so detailed and beautiful from the story to the costumes and settings, you'll be captivated. I cried a bit, not even going to lie. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "Hidden away by her mother, the Floral Goddess, the naïve Jinmi is drawn to Xufeng, the Heavenly Emperor's son, yet forces conspire against them."

2. Lion Pride (Taiwanese) - This is a 2018 Taiwanese show set in modern day Taipei. It was interesting, clever and wasn't all about romance so if you're not a big romance person, you might still want to watch this one. I enjoyed it and it only further pushed me to want to go to Taipei.

The short synopsis reads as such:"Two teachers, with opposite viewpoints, must work together to solve a crime."

3. Something in the Rain (Korean) - This is a modern-day Korean Drama focusing on the struggles of dating a younger guy, family expectations and career aspirations. I really enjoyed this one because it was very raw and real feeling. It wasn't overly happy to where you realize it's fake and that made me connect with it. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "When a single career woman reunites with her best friend's younger brother after he returns from three years of working abroad, their efforts to reconnect grow into romance."

4. Meteor Garden (Chinese) - This is a modern day Chinese remake of Boys Over Flowers and I have to admit I preferred this. It's super romantic but messed up and will really grate on your nerves but also pull at your heart strings. I loved this one and think it's something any romance lover should see.

The short synopsis reads as such:"Dong Shancai is determined to excel at her dream university, where she encounters an elite clique of dashing, popular high-achievers--and finds love."

5. Here to Heart (Chinese) - This is a modern-day Chinese Drama with a lot of twists and stress. I really enjoyed it and have to admit that I was even shocked at the level of devotion between the two, it's a second chance romance. 

The short synopsis reads as such:"After 10 years of separation, a man and a woman struggle to rebuild their relationship." 

6. Accidentally in Love (Chinese) - This is a young adult type modern-day drama. It's funny, a bit ridiculous and totally within the style of the Drama world. Personally, I didn't enjoy it but I forced myself to watch the show to the end. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "Chen Qing Qing is the daughter of a rich household desperately wanting to avoid an arranged marriage and find love on her own terms." 

7. Eternal Love: Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms (Chinese) - This is a fantasy Drama with a love of moving parts. The story line focuses on two Gods and their evolution as well as the evolution of their relationship. It's extremely fascinating and the costumes are beautiful. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "The love between Deities Bai Qian and Ye Hua stands the test of three lifetimes." 

8. The Rise of Phoenixes (Chinese) - This is a very complicated and sometimes inconsistent Historical Chinese Drama. The costumes and acting were incredible but, at many times, the plot line left for something to be desired. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "Feng Zhi Wei is the unfavored illegitimate daughter of the Qiu family, who is banished from the clan after falsely accused of a crime. Zhi Wei cross-dresses as a man to attend the prestigious Qingming Academy and stuns the world with her talent and knowledge." 

9. Love 020 (Chinese ) -  A modern-day University Drama that incorporates gamers, love and college days. It's sweet, fun and pretty much a feel good show. It introduced me to Yang Yang (actor who portrays the make lead)  and I'm in love. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "Xiao Nai is a gaming expert who, courtesy of his basketball skills, academic excellence, swimming talent and game company presidency, also happens to be the most popular student on campus. When he first comes across the gorgeous computer science major Bei Wei Wei, the infinitely talented wunderkind immediately falls in love." 

10. Pretty Man (Chinese) - This modern-day Chinese Drama is all about misunderstandings, love, responsibility and happiness. The three main characters have a triangle of complication, if you will, along with the pushing of misunderstandings due to lack of communication and parental expectations. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "What could possibly go wrong with a fake relationship? Qiao An Hao and Lu Jin Nian have a history together. They were very much in love in high school  but misunderstandings kept the two apart. More than a decade later, Jin Nia has become a successful CEO of an entertainment company and An Hao is trying to make it into the business as an actress." 

11. A Love so Beautiful (Chinese) - This is a modern-day Drama that will really make you want to believe in love again and cheer on the female lead. You might tear up or straight up cry at points because the acting and feelings are that powerful but it's sweet and has a solid ending. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "The ups and downs of school, family and growing up test the affection between a budding artist and her handsome but indifferent classmate and neighbor." 

12. My Only Love Song (Korean) - This is a time travel Drama. The female lead gets sent back in time. She doesn't get sent back alone and, due to her personality, it's a very comical show. The episodes are rather quick but I think it's a fun watch.

The short synopsis reads as such: "When things don't go her way during the shooting of her new show, a top actress runs away in an old van that guides her on a time-traveling journey." 

13. Ice Fantasy (Chinese) - This Chinese Drama is a mix of fantasy and historical. There are multiple realms, including the human one. The show focuses on the Ice tribe's heir and his younger brother that he always favored. It has romantic elements but has a lot of action, fantastical elements and great acting.

The short synopsis reads as such: "Ka Suo, the Ice Tribe prince, makes the journey to the magical holy shrine with his entourage in order to vanquish evil, but ends up in a war with the Fire Tribe and his long-lost brother." 

14. Diamond Lover (Chinese) - This Drama only has the condensed version of the show which can lead to some confusion when watching it. Overall, I think it was meant to be cute but I found it annoying and kind of pitiful. There was a major undertone of fat-shaming going on so that will really bother some. It's meant to be like a second chance at life and a chance at love Drama but it fell flat for me. I only really watched it for the stars in it. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "After an accident leads to a great loss of weight, Mi Duo starts a new life working for her secret crush, Xiao Liang, CEO of a diamond company."

15. Fall in Love with Me (Taiwanese) - This is another Drama where Aaron Yan is the male lead. He seems to have a thing for creative agencies and roles. This is a modern-day Drama where Yan portrays an Advertising genius who is burned out and decides to take time off. This show is very unrealistic at certain points and realistic at others. It's a feel good Drama that is on the romantic comedy spectrum. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "Le Si battles to protect her brother's agency but instead falls in love with Tian Xings disguise, Xiao Lu."

16. Just You (Taiwanese ) - This is a funny and sweet modern-day Taiwanese Drama set in Taipei. This is the Drama that introduced me to Aaron Yan, a famous Taiwanese Actor who was part of boy group Fahrenheit. The plot is easy to follow but that doesn't make it any less entertaining. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "Liang-liang is on a mission to get her new, strict boss and landlord to mellow out, after the imposition of a strict policy forbidding office romance." 

17. Boys Over Flowers (Korean) - This is a remake of the Taiwanese and Japanese shows and where Meteor Garden got its concept from. It's an extremely popular Korean Drama, pretty much considered a staple Drama to watch. It's about school time love, the life of wealthy elites and the clashing of love when two people from different backgrounds come together. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "The story of Geum Jan-di, a normal girl who finds herself attending a prestigious private school after saving a student's life."

18. Hymn of Death (Korean) - Hymn of Death is a Historical Korean Drama that is very, very deep. If you don't like sad endings, this is definitely one to skip. The weight of this show is very heavy as it touches upon the strains of life with regards to personal relationships, society and family. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "During the Japanese colonial period, married playwright Kim U-jin falls in love with soprano Yun Sim-deok, one of Korea's notable New Women."

19. Mr. Sunshine (Korean) - This is another Historical Drama which has the male lead as a Korean American, living in American from a young child as he fled from Korea. The female lead is a privileged Korean young woman who wants to make a difference in her nation. This is set during the Japanese occupation of Korea. It's really heavy with cute and funny moments sprinkled out. It shows a lot of blemishes of the Korean society structure, too. I found it to be one of the most interesting things I've ever watched. 

The short synopsis reads as such: "A Korean boy from a poor family who ends up in the United States after the 1871 Shinmiyangyo incident returns to his homeland during a historical turning point. Now an office with the American military, Eugene falls in love with Ae-sin, an aristocrat's daughter, and discovers a dark scheme to colonize the country from which he once fled. Ae-sin tries to figure out if Eugene is a friend as they wonder what the English word 'love' means." 

Any flight over eight hours is going to be uncomfortable. My 16 hours aboard a direct flight to Taipei, Taiwan has taught me this in a very ...

Any flight over eight hours is going to be uncomfortable. My 16 hours aboard a direct flight to Taipei, Taiwan has taught me this in a very real way. The good news is I have some tips to make the long flights just a little bit more pleasant. 

1. Pack personal items in your carryon - Pack your toothbrush, toothpaste, mouth wash, intimate wipes, face wash/face wipes and/or baby wipes. You buy travel sized items that are allowed in your carryon with regards to toothpaste and mouth wash. You can either buy, if available, travel sized face wash or put some into a ziplock bag. The intimate and baby wipes are to make yourself feel cleaner because, at least for me, you can feel absolutely gross after a long flight. 

2. Don't sleep much the day before - Before my flight to Taiwan, I slept maybe four hours and hen worked all day and stayed up until 1:30 am my local time before finally falling asleep on the plane. Forcing yourself to be exhausted will make it easier to sleep the plane ride away, even if it isn't the most comfortable. 

3. Headphones and electronics are absolute musts - In your carryon, keep your laptop, tablet, phone, headphones and chargers. I find it's easier to block out all the sounds in the plane when I fall asleep with my headphones in. If you can't sleep, watch something on either the screen the plane has or something you have on your phone or other device. The chargers are pretty explanatory. 

4. Wear comfortable clothes - It's so interesting to see people boarding a 10 plus hour flight in dress clothes or stiff clothing items. That makes it even harder to sleep or be comfortable so why would you do that to yourself? Personally, I wear workout clothes. 

5. Have blankets, hoodies or jackets - Planes tend to get very cold and just the thin blankets some airlines provide doesn't cut it. I personally wear hoodies or sweaters aboard a plane, regardless of the season. I don't like to be cold when I know I won't be moving much. 

6. Get up and stretch - Using the restroom and just getting up to walk around a bit when the fasten seatbelt sign is not on, even if it's for a few seconds, is a smart idea. You can get stiff if you are in one spot for too long.