christmas eve in seoul – immanuel

my mom and i had a quiet dinner because my dad, brother and sister here in korea had other plans.  i thought to myself, christmas in korea isn’t so different.  in boston, i expect to spend it alone but end up spending it with lots of friedns.  here in korea, i expect to spend christmas eve with family but end up spending it practically alone, at least christmas eve dinner. 

after dinner, my mom and i went to coex to look for some books.  when we got there we saw a huge crowd of people trying to get down to the subway station!  they weren’t in line to get on thet train or to get through the gates.  they were simply trying to get into the station!  wow.  as we were walking towards the bookstore, i noticed that people, practically everyone, were wearing red, just kidding, they were all wearing black.  i guess wearing black happens in any city?  anyway my mom and i bought a book.  grabbed some coffee at starbucks (yes starbucks is everywhere!).  then we tried to get out of coex mall and we did successfully.  but we went out the wrong exit so we had to walk for more than 30 minutes to get to where we wanted to be!

so no, i wasn’t able to check out redmango tonight to be able to compare it to pinkberry, or yoberry or berryline (both in boston area).  sorry folks.  the review of redmango is going to have to come after christmas.  i did send a fax to their main office to complain about how much trouble i had on their internet site. 

as expected, our entire family (those who are in korea) went to church today.  there was a music part – complete with little kids singing, which i unfortunately missed – and then a short service and then a performance by the choir.  the choir was great.  the solos in one part almost moved me.  🙂  it was weird, however, how we were practically the only ones standing up during the handel’s messiah – hallelujah part.  later, more people stood up.  i guess i just feel like you can’t listen to it without standing up, not because of tradition (ok maybe a little bit due to tradition) but out of reverence for the creator.

the title of the sermon was immanuel.  and the pastor preached that we are not alone, god is with us.  he said, don’t go through life as if you are alone because god is with you.  and when god is with you, all things are possible.  believe in the power of god.  believe in miracles.  have hope because god is with us.  god is with you.

what i haven’t said in my last blog was that my dad is the pastor of the church we go to.  so of course i felt like he was tailoring the sermon just to me.  i mean, sometimes i feel like a pastor is talking directly at me during a sermon, but i know that can’t be the case because they don’t know what i’m going through.  but this pastor, my dad, he knows what i’m going through.  so who knows?  maybe he did in part speak to me, directly to me.  i liked what my dad said – that we are not alone and that god is with us.  more than liking it, i want to believe it.  i want to believe it because i think it’s true.  here i think it’s appropriate to mention william james’ will to believe essay and his phrase “leap of faith.” 

i want to believe that god is with us and i think it’s true.  but i don’t know if i have the religious experience that warrants me to say i know that god is with us.  i know it in my head that god is with us.  whether a personal god or an impersonal god, god who created us and everything else, god is with us.  i’m sure of that.  so why can’t i believe it in the depths of my soul???

it felt so awkwards today to say merry christmas to the few people i said it to.  it’s too warm in seoul.  we’re not going to have a white christmas.  if we get any precipitation, we’re going to get rain.  anyway, it’s close to midnight here in korea.  so merry christmas!

in search of redmango

i am visiting my parents in seoul korea.  the one thing i was looking forward to, other than seeing my family, was to try frozen yogurt at redmango (the original frozen yogurt that started pinkberry which then started other frozen yogurt stores across u.s.).  i went to their website www.redmango.co.kr and tried to find the nearest store. 

1.  to search for a redmango in your neighborhood, you have to type in korean which is a pain for me since i hardly type in korea and can’t type in korean using my own computer anyhow.  

2. when you look up an area, it either tells you the list the stores in that neighborhood or tells you no store exists in that neighborhood.  why on earth would they not list nearby stores even outside of the specified neighborhood?

3.  so next i typed in other neighborhoods i know of.  (which i realize if you are a tourist, would have no idea what other neighborhoods to type in, if you knew how to type in korean and had access to a keyboard/program that let’s you write in korean.)  that worked.  but then the stores only had phone numbers, not addresses! 

4.  next i tried to leave a comment about the website and found that you can’t leave a suggestion unless you are a member.  and you can only become a member if you are a korean citizen who has a citizen number!  all that to say, for such a well known store, a store that i have heard of so many times, is kind of behind the times when it comes to marketing/website up-keeping!!!   so i either have to mail in my comments about their website or fax it in.  and guess what?  my parents got rid of their fax machine!!!

hopefully later tonight, i can find one of the stores.  i’ll have to call the store and ask for directions!!!

i believe – help my unbelief

wow.  time is passing by fast even when i am visiting my parents in korea.  today is christmas eve and it’s just another day, well, except that i’ll be spending the night at church.

yesterday at church, the pastor said the meaning of christmas was christ worship.  and i wonder how many people even know that’s what the word means! 

lately, i have been reflecting on whether, how much, and in what nature i believe in God.  it’s been super difficult to pray to God.  part of the reason is my recent struggles with depression.  i seem to be doing worse, not better.  and part of the reason has to do with what i’m reading/learning in my theology class.  i was brought up to believe in god who wants to bless us, loves us, and cares about us.  that is to say i believe/d in a personal god.  but the more i study theology i realize that the god i believe in is boxed in my what i want god to be, and not actually who god might be.  i mean who really knows what god is like anyway right?  but some theories sound more convincing than others, that is for sure. 

i still pray, prayers half-filled with unbelief.  i go to church but reluctantly, wondering what worshipping an impersonal god means.  can one maintain one’s faith while the conception of god which one previously held on to is going through radical change?  it seems that there is/must be a kind of a suspension in belief.  while the belief in god is going through radical revisions, it’s difficult even to know what one believes in. 

so as for the meaning of christmas, to be honest, i’m not sure what i believe or feel about it.  presents have been exchanged already in my family and tomorrow morning, we’ll rush to get to church and then head out for a family trip. 

man-doo-kuk

my mom just made me man-doo-kuk (korean dumpling soup) for lunch.  she didn’t know it was my favorite food of all time.  it was simply delicious. 

do actions speak louder than words?  i always wish that my mom would cook for me whenever i come home.  whether by chance or by fate my mom’s cooked for me during this visit more than i ever remember her cooking!  i love it love it love it!

top five new year’s resolutions

i’m determined to do the following during the year of 2008!!!

1.  lose about 60 pounds/30 kgs.  i gained a lot of weight since my last depression episode.  i know that at least one of my medicines are facilitating weight gain.  i’ve been exercising three time a week for the past six months.  i’m going to try to go to the gym 4 time a week during the new year. 

2.  by the end of january i want to quit smoking for good.  i don’t know if i can.  but i’m sure going to try. 

3.  i want to finish my program in theology by the end of spring semester.  i think i want to write a thesis on nothingness in order to fulfill graduation requirements. 

4.  i want to come off of effexor completely.

5. there shall be no 10th hospital visit!

that’s all for now.  🙂

dreams dreams dreams

dreams are funny aren’t they?  i feel my dreams sometimes throws me into my subconsciousness, forcing me to encounter what i really don’t have desire or ability to in my consciousness.  and then when i wake up, i feel like i was re-living my life, at least some aspect of my life. 

so i was dreaming last night of course.  and i dreamt that an old boyfriend, actually an ex-boyfriend, the love of my life, was visiting me.  it’s not far from truth since after breaking up we really did have a reunion.  but in this dream i was able to tell him how much appreciated him all at the same time telling him i’m glad we broke up and that i am glad, so glad, that we didn’t get married.  i feel so empowered! 

it felt nice to be with the love of my life with whom i want nothing to do with.  i think just the friendship itself was so wonderful i wish i had something like it in my life now.  and i have that warm fuzzy feeling inside which i feel sometimes when i feel i have really connected with someone.

dreams dreams dreams

antidepressants

so what psychiatric medicines are you on?  my main antidepressant is effexor.  but since my last hospital visit, my doctors are slowly taking me off it.  they took me off ritalin completely, which i think is for the best.  i was on lithium only for about a week and a half before they realized it may not be working for me.  i am still on abilify and lamictal.  i think abilify is the drug that is/has been making me gain weight!  oh well. 

i told my mom and brother that i am coming off of some medicine and they were so excited.  they can’t wait until i am completely off psych meds.  my doctor and i know, however that i am on psych meds indefinitely, for as long as relapse is a possibility.  it’s kind of sad that my family and friends have such a hard time accepting that i have uinipolar depression.  one of my friend said, if you have bipolar depression, you really need meds, but i don’t understand why your doctors prescribe you so many pills.  i’m like, what duh???  the difference between bipolar depression and major depression is simple.  with bipolar depression, one has extreme ups and extreme downs.  with major depression, one only has extreme downs, hence the name unipolar depression.  i sometimes wish i were bipolar so that i could be super productive and not need sleep, etc.  but that’s really silly, isn’t it?  it’s hard enough to cope with unipolar depression.  coping with manic episodes is not something i honestly wish for.  in this instance, the grass does not look greener on the other side. 

getting back to antidepressants and psych meds in general, contrary to what some people might say and/or believe, they are not “happy” meds which magically deliver more self confidence or happiness!  it’s actually rather depressing that with meds, i don’t start my day off way down the “normal” range of feelings, but am brought to a level of manageable feelings/mood which is where most people naturally start of their day.  so yes, i’m thankful doe my meds.  no life doesn’t get easier with meds that i’m taking.  life becomes manageable and at times even bearable.  and without meds, life is a torture, the kind of torture and sickness that would have one wish for death.  (read sickness unto death by soren kierkegaard if you want an analytical exploration of despair!)

speaking of which, i better take my night time meds.