Tuesday, October 17, 2017

finally fall book tag.

The weather in LA might not be exactly autumn-like, but it is fall ... my favorite season! And what better way to celebrate it than with the pile of books on my coffee table just waiting to be read (four, at the moment: Reset by Ellen Pao, Still Buffering by Hannah Hart, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and Turtles All the Way Down by John Green).

But before we get to all of that, let's talk about the Finally Fall Book Tag from Tall Tales – I came across this going around "Booktube," and thought I'd adapt it for the blog, so without further adieu...

1. In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting!
All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

2. Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

3. Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.
The Places in Between by Rory Stewart

4. In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.
Harry/Ron/Hermione, of course.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

what we were taught.

We've always been a news-watching family, the kind that gather around the TV and consume silently as the anchors and reporters tell us what's happening in our city and in the world. On weekend mornings, my parents would read the paper over breakfast.

The news was a way for us to learn, in the same way that it was a vehicle for my parents to learn about the U.S. when they first came here at 10 years old. When big, historical things happened, the news was there to tell them what and why.

The first time I remember asking my mom about why something bad happened was in 1995. The Oklahoma City bombing was all over the TV, and I didn't quite understand – at 6 years old – why it had happened. "I don't really know," my mom said, pointing to the TV where Tom Brokaw was giving us facts, "but let's keep listening."

We did this every time a major story took over the nation.

I was 10 years old when Columbine happened. I still didn't understand why. All I remember was coming to school the next day and the teachers talked us through what a lockdown was and said we'd be practicing one soon, like a fire drill.

Turn off the lights and keep quiet. Lower blinds or shades, lock the windows and doors, and move away from them. Get under your desk or behind something solid – somewhere that could keep a bullet from getting you. Stay low.

At the time, we didn't think it would happen to us. How could it? School is supposed to be a safe place.

We did the lockdown drill a couple of times in the following weeks. About a month after Columbine, the flashing lights went off near the end of the day, signaling what we thought was another drill – only this time, it wasn't a drill, the teacher said. "Get under your desks."

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

favorites: September 2017.

I've been excited to do this month's favorites list all month because September was a good one for new things. It's also getting into that cozy autumn season soon (at least, I hope so...I don't remember how California's seasons work) so instead of freaking out about my super dry skin and trying to match my foundation to my tan, here we are with new products that have been making me love life lately:

1. Just Peachy Velvet Matte Eye Shadow Palette – Peaches and Cream Collection by Too Faced


As soon as I saw the Sephora email about Too Faced's new Peaches and Cream collection, my heart jumped a little. If you know me, you know how much I love Too Faced, especially their Sweet Peach collection. And an all-matte eyeshadow palette? What more could you want?

The colors are gorgeous (and subtle) and the shadows blend beautifully. The scent also isn't too overwhelming, and I know some people don't like that about Too Faced's scented palettes. The Peaches and Cream collection seems a little more subtle. I poked around at other products in the collection, and there were a few misses (I don't like the primer), but if you're going to get one thing from this set, get this palette.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

cozy autumn things.

Dear autumn,

Hi again, from another coast. Yes, it's still me and I'm still obsessed with you, only now I'm in a sunnier place and hoping we can still meet this year.

Cold Spring, NY

I've forgotten a bit about what you're like down here in Southern California. Growing up, autumn was my favorite because the giant tree in our front yard became brilliant, and then bare. It was a metaphor for something I couldn't articulate at the time. Decades removed from it, I see now that it was a reminder that things will always change.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

'the tiger hunter' is a love letter to the immigrant story.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might already have seen me tweeting about The Tiger Hunter, but I wanted to dedicate a blog post to it because I don't know how much I was able to really express in 140 character chunks.


I honestly wasn't expecting to be moved by this film as much as I was. (Truthfully, I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting.) It was the small anecdotes, the short scenes, that hit me the most: when Babu offers Sami a place to live, no questions asked; the single suit the roommates shared for job interviews; Sami's efforts to study up on being a "professional American" so he can fit in at work; the optimism that, in America, even the street sweepers own cars. 

And isn't it true that every immigrant family has a version of that optimism? My parents dreamt that the streets were literally paved with gold. In America, they imagined, there was equality and opportunity. Nobody told them how hard it would be to be looked down on because your accent was too strong or because you didn't understand the pop culture references. In China, my grandfather was a teacher. He had an engineer's mind – like Sami, who fixed radios and electronics for his neighbors – but communism and danger drove him and the family away from it. When he got to America, he washed dishes. If he were still alive today, I'd want to know if he ever learned the rules of baseball.

On my father's side, my grandmother was a nurse, but in America, she worked at a canning factory. It's where she lost the hearing in one of her ears. I wonder if she struggled to learn about the Winter Olympics the way Sami does in the film.