Friday, December 30, 2016

emergency contact.

Out of habit when I moved to the East Coast, I continued to list my mother as my emergency contact – on doctor's forms, travel itineraries, HR files. It was impractical, I realized, because the very nature of an "emergency contact" requires that person to be able to respond immediately during an emergency. Being 3,000 miles away put my mother at a disadvantage, should something happen.

When I first moved to New York, the habit kicked in as I was filling out paperwork for my internship – but I caught myself, and decided to ask the HR coordinator if it would be OK to list my mother first, and then switch it later. It was January of 2012 and I knew nobody in the city. I had figured I'd wait until I met more people, and then go from there. The coordinator suggested I pick someone more local – a roommate or landlord, perhaps?

So I listed my roommate, who I'd known for a total of 48 hours at that point, and didn't even tell her about it. And as the years have passed, I never changed it; at some point, I forgot about it. Between 2012 and now, I've worked in the same building and lived in the same apartment with that same roommate, and somewhere along the way, I settled into a routine of "going through the motions." Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with New York the way a person "falls in love" for the first time at 16: infatuation mixed in with excuses for the moments that don't feel quite right.

And then, slowly, over time, I fell out of "love." And then, suddenly: a break-up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

16 things I loved in 2016.

This year was rough, and so many of my 2016 "favorites" were things that helped keep me distracted amidst all the crap that happened over the last 12 months. So, in no particular order, here's my annual list that I probably won't keep doing in the future because monthly favorites are way easier to keep track of than these end-of-the-year giant roundups that, inevitably, leave out many things from the first half of the year...

One disclaimer: not everything on this list came out in 2016. I'm just really late to things.

(Also, in preparation for my end-of-the-year lists, I asked my friends on Facebook what some of their favorite pop culture things were in 2016, and their super cool and interesting answers reminded me how behind I am on pretty much everything.)

Monday, December 12, 2016

5 things I'll miss about New York City.

The first photo I took from my apartment living room.
People often call New York City the greatest city in the world, though when I first moved here, I was warned that I would constantly feel exhausted just trying to walk down a sidewalk. And it ended up being very true, in my first year especially – whether it was on the streets or down in the subway, the amount of people constantly surrounding me became so overwhelming that all I wanted to do at the end of the day was shut my bedroom door and not talk to a single soul.

The last five years have been as exhilarating as they have been draining. When I look back at old blog posts or diary entries or letters from high school and college, I was never shy about declaring that someday I would live in New York. I'm glad I did it and I don't regret getting on that bus in 2012 with just two suitcases and a backpack, praying that I would find a place to live and a job one day.

But lately – the past 18 months especially – I've felt somewhat frozen in time. New York felt less like "home" to me in 2016 than ever before, and it hit me so suddenly back in the beginning of the year that my head and my heart were just no longer here. All of the excuses and the reasons I'd given for being in New York just no longer held up. I think I'll get into all this in a separate post because what I really want to talk about right now are the things I'll miss about New York. For as much shit as I've talked on this city, I've had some amazing moments here too, and I don't want to leave only remembering the bad stuff.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

memory lane can be a tough road to walk down.

When you're a nostalgic person like I am, it can often turn into becoming a bit of a pack rat. I used to savor movie ticket stubs as if they were snapshots of the film itself, every coffee stain on a page of a book reminded me of a place or time, and even worn out pens had a story to tell.

But since I left home for college, I've moved every year (in D.C., I moved every month), and in the process, some of those things went into storage boxes or got lost to the wind. Sometimes, I'd carry things from place to place, even if they were never unpacked, because having them was some sort of comfort that I could learn from the past: from the mistakes, from the stories, from the triumphs.

When I moved to New York in 2012, I had no sense of how long I would stay – let alone, how long I would stay in one apartment. 2016 is coming to an end, and I've been in the same room. Sure, there's now a bit more furniture (and a lot more books), but this one space has been mine for almost five years.

I'm in this process of throwing a lot of stuff out. The idea is to tackle the room in sections – corner by corner, drawer by drawer – and re-examine the importance of holding onto items that aren't exactly necessary to keep in my life. In doing so, it's also led me to a box filled with old bank statements and birthday cards and deeply personal letters exchanged with friends from the other side of the country and, occasionally, the other side of the world.

Friday, November 25, 2016

I have thoughts about 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.' (spoilers!)

Warning: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life spoilers ahead.

Yes, we stayed up until 6 a.m. marathoning all four mini-movies straight. There was lots of coffee and snacks involved. And now that it's all done (I'm debating whether a re-watch is necessary for any deeper analysis right now, but I'm also very sleepy), yes – I have thoughts.

But rather than wait until I decide to re-watch it all now or not, I wanted to jot down some initial reactions because posting anything on social media right now is cruel and I don't want to accidentally spoil anything for anyone.

So, this post has spoilers. Seriously. Last chance to duck out.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

'I thought it was beautiful.'

When Jimi Hendrix took the stage the morning of August 19, 1969, at Woodstock, he launched into a guitar solo of the "Star-Spangled Banner." It was unrehearsed, but not new — he's played the anthem on stage plenty of times; on that Monday morning, he was filling time. Delay after delay had pushed his set and by Monday, a large part of the crowd had left. Not that that took away from the power of the moment: if you listen closely to the live recording, it's both gritty and pure and, I would argue, patriotic at a time when patriotism was being questioned.

Some people called it disrespectful, but what I don't think they got was that, in those four minutes, the "Star-Spangled Banner" was more than just a song. Hendrix made the National Anthem an anthem for a generation of people who felt that their country didn't care about them, a country that was drafting them to war to die. And if you listen carefully to the way Hendrix jumps from fret to fret, interrupting his own interruptions with Taps, using (some say, overusing) the whammy bar and wah-wah pedal in a way that's distinct to his sound, you'll hear imperfection that tells a story people weren't sure how to articulate. At that last note, there's a sustained silence, and then Hendrix launches into E7#9, known as the Hendrix chord, that begins "Purple Haze," a song unambiguously about getting high.

When asked about it later, Hendrix didn't talk about the performance as a protest or a symbol. "I thought it was beautiful," he said. It was.

Because even with the "unpatriotic" interruption, Hendrix remained unapologetic in his art. Because even if it felt like the country was turning against you, the music could still go on. As long as we create — unapologetically — we can change it.

Monday, October 31, 2016

October surprise.

The D train came on the A/C line yesterday. I wasn't expecting it because down at Broadway-Lafayette, there were dozens of signs announcing the D was not running over the weekend and to take the F instead (underneath some of those signs were other announcements about the F being out of service too). But as I was bopping down the stairs to the new Lady Gaga album, I saw a D leaving the station. But by the time I had let two F trains pass, I assumed I was mistaken and got on the third F to arrive. When I got off at West 4th to take the A/C up to Columbus Circle or the Upper West Side (whichever train came first), the D suddenly showed up.

It was unexpected and I wasn't sure what route it would be taking or where it would end up, but I got on it anyways and was pleasantly surprised to find myself where I wanted to be, at Columbus Circle. I probably could've just taken the F to the 1 at 14th and been fine, but this was faster, though it did come with the risk that I'd end up far from where I thought I'd be.

That's all to say: New York City drives me crazy. I don't know if it's never not driven me crazy. And yet, it's familiar. I've only ever ridden the train the wrong direction once, and it wasn't even when I was new here; it was because I was so used to one route that I forgot I was supposed to be going another way once.

Friday, October 28, 2016

warrior, pt. 2.

A couple of months ago, I was introduced to someone by a friend who felt our work was aligned and that we'd make a good connection. This isn't uncommon in my job, people connect me to other people from time to time, and I do my best to accommodate (though I encourage anyone who wants to do this in the future to ask first before looping me into emails).

Anyways, so I invite this person for coffee and we do the usual small talk about work and job duties and visions. As I'm asking him about what he does, he answers in short sentences and turns the questions back to me. He says he's curious about what I do because he didn't know anything about how this side of the industry works. As I'm answering, he interjects with more questions, so I keep talking. (Also, it's hard to sum up "what I do" in one sentence.)

After we parted ways, a couple hours later, I got a message from him following up on something we discussed. I responded, thanked him for stopping by, and said I hoped he wasn't bored listening to me talk about my job.

He responded that it was fine, but then offered up some unsolicited advice about me as a "young person" (mind you, we're about the same age) and how my need to talk too much to overcompensate for my youth can be seen as a negative when pitching myself.

And some other stuff, but that immediately jumped out to me. I wasn't aware I was being evaluated, nor was I aware that this was a "pitch" meeting. Was I supposed to impress him?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

a trip to Stars Hollow.

It's safe to say that most people I know these days would be surprised to find when I'm part of any sort of fandom. Part of me thinks it goes back to the time in middle school when I went to an early screening of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in costume, and some of the "popular kids" from my class saw me and made fun of me the next day at school (to them, I now say: ha). So it's rare to find me fangirling over anything IRL (until you begin a conversation with me about, say, Shakespeare or America's Next Top Model), but when the opportunity to attend a Gilmore Girls festival came up, I couldn't say no.

My love for the show (and passion to argue about the show) is well-documented. Every Tuesday night at 8PM, you could find me in front of my TV anxiously awaiting a new episode. It introduced me to new music and movies and authors, and it got me interested in what journalism could be. Every Christmas, I'd ask for the DVD sets (yes, I do own all seven seasons), and when Netflix added the series to its offerings, I binge-watched it all immediately.

But this isn't a post about my obsession; let's get to the topic at hand: this past weekend was the first-ever Gilmore Girls Fan Fest up in Washington Depot, Connecticut (the town that inspired Amy Sherman-Palladino's Stars Hollow). It was a completely fan-driven event with no affiliation to Netflix or the show, but some of the cast and crew came up for the weekend, and there was everything from panels to charity events to screenings and more.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

the thing about mentors...

I don't have a mentor – which is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately as I try step back and take these "big picture" looks at my life, my career path, and my future. As someone who's desperately in need of being creative at all times, I've found myself a bit out to sea when it comes to figuring out what to do or where to go next. I've said this before to a couple of people, who all argue that I don't really "need" a mentor. But...I don't think I'm done learning yet (who is?). In fact, I've sort of found myself in this rut where I'm not learning as much anymore.

As I've been thinking about all of this, I started to wonder if I was alone in being mentor-less and wondering why (Am I too stubborn to take advice? Too arrogant to think I can get by without a mentor? Should I have worked harder to identify a mentor and keep in touch with people who could've served as mentors? The answer to that last question is most likely, yes.), I decided to take my inquiry to Facebook (like all good, serious inquiries, of course) and ask my friends about whether or not they have mentors – or if they're like me and searching for one.

The result? 100% of people said that yes, having a mentor is important. But when it comes to finding the right mentor...that's another story. About half of the people who answered my status are pretty much where I am: looking for the right mentor.

Friday, September 23, 2016

'that sucks.'

There's an episode of Parks and Rec where a pregnant Ann is hiding from Chris because she wants to complain and vent, but every time she does, he immediately jumps into problem-solving mode. She ends up finding temporary refuge in some of the office gang who get together semi-regularly to vent, and she says: "You know what my biggest complaint is? I have a million things I need to complain about, and I can't take them home because Chris is the most considerate person in the world, and he just wants to help me, and then I feel bad about that, and then I get annoyed that he wants to help me, and I feel even worse about that!"

It's selfish, arguably, but I think we've all been there: sometimes, when life dumps a pile of lemons on you, you want to just roll around and cry for an hour before jumping into action mode. You want someone to agree with you that, yes, the situation sucks, but it's OK that you're acting like a 5-year-old right now. Because you know it's not a moment of pride to be a ranting, raving puddle, but damnit, you want someone to tell you it's fine for that one moment.

Because, chances are, once the anger, hurt, and frustration subsides, rationality will kick in and you'll calm down or you'll be ready to hear a voice of reason. Nobody wants to be told in the first 30 seconds of a rant that they're being dramatic (even if they are). 

The other night I was feeling particularly low about something and sent a string of text message rants to my best friend. Her response was a sad face emoji and an agreement that the situation sucks and that me feeling like crap was justified. Instantly, I felt better. Like I wasn't crazy or dumb for being mad about something that could've been seen as "small" or "insignificant," because she understood that my frustration was tied to a larger problem I had been struggling to voice for some time. Now, 48 hours removed from that moment, I can look back and say, "You know what, it'll be OK." 

And it will be. It might suck, but it'll be OK.

Monday, September 19, 2016

5 things I learned from watching (and re-watching) Gilmore Girls.

We're two months away from Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and I've been binge-watching all seven seasons to prepare. (OK, let's be honest: I'd be binge-watching whether Netflix was doing a revival or not!)

Gilmore Girls has always been my "comfort show," the show I've turned to when I'm feeling sad or overwhelmed. It's also been a show I've watched with family and with friends, and laughed over and repeated the lines and shared inside jokes for years and years and years.

It's also a show that's given me a lot of life lessons, and on every re-watch of a season, I feel like I'm learning something new depending on where I am in life and what character I'm identifying with. Here are a couple of those lessons (just five for now, because if I don't limit it, I'll go on for paragraphs and paragraphs and paragraphs...) – mainly seen through the eyes of Rory, who I always identified with because we were closer in age while I was growing up and watching in real time (I also may or may not have majored in journalism because of the character...*cough*...):

1. Don't let relationships consume you. In Season 1, Episode 8 ("Love and War and Snow"), a newly coupled Rory and Dean are so focused on each other, that Rory doesn't realize she's been blowing Lane off. And if you've ever felt like a third wheel (I think we all have), you'll know it pretty much sucks. Later in the episode, Lane awkwardly runs her fingers through her high school crush's hair and when she tries to talk to Rory about it, they end up fighting. "I don't need you to be sorry," Lane says to her at one point. "I just need you to be there."

I've been the person before who's been ditched when her friend starts dating someone new, and I've also been the person who's done the ditching because of a new relationship. Both positions are crappy ones to be in. It's all just a matter of balance, right? Be happy and in love! But don't forget about your friends – especially when they need you the most.

Friday, September 16, 2016

normal things I am bad at that other people seem not-so-bad at.

While comparing yourself to other people is obviously unhealthy and (let's face it) downright silly, I think it's fair to do a bit of ranting on one's own personal blog – and also, it's 3 a.m. and I can't sleep.

Normal Things I'm Bad At That Other People Seem Not-So-Bad At:

1. Sleeping. Obviously. It's 3 a.m. and I'm sitting here typing this. If you know me, you know that my top struggle is sleeping well. Even when I try to go to bed early, I'm up. This seems to be a recent phenomenon in my life, as I always slept "when I was supposed to" back when I had to catch the 5:45 a.m. bus, but I think the combination of stress and my brain being broken is causing me to be up when the rest of the world is enjoying their REM cycles.

2. Putting on mascara. I've never really had eyelashes to deal with, but now I do and I don't know what I'm supposed to do with them. I bought this eyelash primer last weekend, recommended by a colleague, and it's given me these nice extended lashes to sweep mascara over, but I normally end up jabbing myself in the eye at least twice before I am even slightly successful. I think I've always liked the idea of mascara more than the actual act of using/wearing it.

3. "Boy talk." If you ever want to talk about your boy problems at me, I'm all ears. But I've learned I'm terrible at giving practical advice (or, at least, the advice you probably want to hear). Once, a friend was ranting to me about how dating was exhausting, but she was also dating three separate men, so I told her to just...stop dating all of them. And then she got mad and we had a fight and didn't talk for a month. So now when people want my advice about boys, I usually just ask them questions about what they want to do or how they feel, and wait for them to come to their own conclusions which, honestly, I feel is a better way for me to be a friend sometimes anyways.

4. Watching TV shows through. I stopped watching House of Cards a couple episodes into season 3. I never picked How To Get Away With Murder back up after a hiatus, even though I still maintain it's an excellent show (sigh). I never watched the last episode of last season's Top Chef. Now that I think about it, I never watched the last two episodes of Mad Men. I just read about it. This is your invitation to judge me.

5. Remembering the day of the week. I have to ask my team multiple times a day what day of the week it is. I genuinely just don't remember. Maybe I should get more sleep.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

starting a bullet journal (and what I've learned from it).

I've always loved paper planners, but I've always been horrible at maintaining one. Often times I would buy a planner (or be given one) and only use it for a month or two before losing it or falling out-of-date with it – usually because my Google Calendar served as a better alternative, and I keep my phone on me at all times and spend my life sitting in front of computers; or, because, I am an absurdly stubborn perfectionist and one mistake or missed day in my planner throws me off.

So when everyone and their third cousin started talking about bullet journaling, I was immediately both interested and skeptical: interested because it seemed to combine my two favorite things (to-do lists and neat schedules), but skeptical because blank pages were too big of a canvas for me to screw up and give up.

But a couple of months ago, I decided to take the plunge and see what all this chatter was about – and now I'm the one preaching to everybody about the magic of bullet journaling. Bear with me.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

life goes on.

Joan Didion once famously wrote: "Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends."

August is over. In some ways, it feels like the end of a very long year – a year filled with rainbow cakes and last goodbyes, pink forms and purple flowers. And when all that's said and done, life still goes on: texts and emails and cross-country flights, all reminders of the 3,000 miles between my head and my heart.

But my life hasn't stopped. I walked through my door to mail, a stuffy room, and a nearly-blind dog rushing over to say hello. Tonight, I will go to bed, and when I wake up, it'll be time to get back to work.

This is a reminder that life goes on. Some days will feel frantic, others will feel slow. All of those days will feel like a blur – but I'd like to focus my vision in these last months of 2016. I won't make any sweeping declarations on how I'll do it yet, but we'll see where my brain takes me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

when social anxiety strikes.

I filmed this a bit ago, after the AAJA convention, but didn't get around to actually editing it because life's gotten a little (a lot) stressful. Also, as I was editing it, two things became clear: 1) the video quality is terrible, sorry (not 1080p womp womp); and 2) I spent half of this video just rambling about me being anxious at VidCon.

Which is what the video is about: social anxiety. This time around, I don't really have a rundown of "surefire tips" like I did on networking as an introvert, but I do have some bits of advice that I've gotten from other people over the years...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

networking as an introvert.

I'm a massive introvert. When I tell most people this, they try to tell me I'm mistaken because I seem quite extroverted. (As mentioned before on this blog, I guess I'd consider myself more of an...ambivert?)

One of the hardest things for me to do, as an introvert, is network. Walking into a room full of people I don't know makes me anxious and tired. They don't really teach you in school the "right" way to network, and I don't think there really is a "right" way to do it, to be honest. Everyone has different styles and personalities, and what might work for one person won't exactly be right for you.

That's my way of saying: these tips are not definitive, surefire ways to become a networking expert. Over the past couple of years, as I've gone through networking events and talked to other people about networking (particularly, with my friends who are also introverts), I've learned a handful of things that might be helpful.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

creating without consequences.

Be OK with failure. Failure is a part of life.

I say this as someone who needs the constant reminder, I think, more than others. I've blogged before about my penchant for starting and not finishing projects, and even when I did finish a project, it resulted in me falling off the face of the earth for...well, arguably, I'm still hermiting.

So when I started doing this vlog series, I knew already in my head there was a 50/50 shot of me not finishing it, which is why I didn't come out the gate with a declaration of intent. In my head, I told myself that I would post one video every Sunday for the month of July, and I was so close to reaching that goal.

Monday, August 1, 2016

there's no 'right' way to pursue the American dream.

I wrote a blog post for my pal Phil over at Angry Asian Man while he's taking a much-deserved break...
We never talked about it. The word "undocumented" was nerve-wracking, confusing, and -- as it's been argued in my grandfather's circumstances -- not exactly true. Growing up, my sister and I were told many stories about our family history, but we had also been taught a moderately conservative stance when it came to immigration, about the "right" way to do things and the hard word that comes with that journey.  
Which is why when, during a visit to California in April, I sat down with my mother to talk about this in-depth, she didn't use the word -- at least, not at first. Let me explain.
Check out the full post here!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

I feel like I've lost my voice.

“We are not idealized wild things. We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.”
Someone once told me Didion was too depressing to consider a favorite, but I disagree. Anyone can slap an inspirational quote on the wall, and use it to motivate them throughout their day. I don't know if that necessarily is effective for my brain these days. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I don't own a rice cooker.

OK. I'm going to do it. After five years of living on the East Coast, I'm taking the plunge: I'm going to buy a rice cooker.

Every time I tell someone I don't own a rice cooker, they stare at me with eyes that say, "But how?" mixed in with the more awkward, "Don't you eat a lot of rice, know..."

If you know me, you know I've been lazy about cooking over the last couple of years, despite having a decently nice kitchen. I could lob my various excuses at you about why that is, but that's irrelevant here--

Except...actually, it is kind of relevant. What if I buy a rice cooker and don't use it that often? And because I was raised by a family who made their American Dream a reality thanks to being chefs, buying a cheap rice cooker would be side-eyed so hard. Trust me: I asked them and they all recommended the Asian brands. Those ain't cheap.

anxiety is a funny thing.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

am I a 'glass half empty' kind of person?

“A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”

Sunday, July 3, 2016

I have no idea what I'm doing.

Four years ago, about when I moved to New York, I started reading a lot more Joan Didion. She was always a source of comfort and inspiration for me. Her brutal honesty, her dark take on life – it was all something that spoke to me. If you know me and/or have read this blog for awhile now, you'll know this about me already.

I had started a separate blog project back in 2012 where I was going to read and blog my way through all of her works. I eventually ended up posting most of those entries onto this blog, and I never quite finished the project. (Though, I did keep reading.)

Truly, I have no idea where I'm going with this revived version of whatever that project was. I've just been in a creative rut this year, and I'm taking July to just...breathe. 

So I hope you'll bear with me.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

takeaways from VidCon.

I've always wanted to go to VidCon, and I always enjoy V3Con, so this past week was both fun and exhausting. I got the opportunity to attend VidCon as an industry attendee, though the majority of the convention tends to be focused on the fans and on creators (as it should be).

I always get a little anxious around networking events (that's a blog post for another time), and there was originally someone who had offered to be my guide around my first VidCon, but she friend-ghosted me, so I was on my own. The convention, overall, was good (interesting, in a good way!), but there were also a couple things I wasn't too sure of...

My takeaways:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

finding faith.

Nobody really talks about how busy you become near the end of someone else's life. There's a lot of paperwork that needs to be obtained and understood and filled out. There are appointments to make (and keep). There's tupperware to fill with snacks, and efforts to make every last conversation meaningful. 

And the whole time, even though you don't want to think about it because thinking about it makes it real, there are arrangements that need to be made for if and when that end comes. 

Ultimately, we do all these things, and more, not just for the person, but also for ourselves. It makes us feel better to be busy; to be useful, rather than helpless. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016


When I first moved away to college, I felt this sharp jab in my chest every time I thought of home. I had spent 18 years of my life living under the same roof as my parents, and suddenly they felt so far away. I was excited about the next chapter in life, but it still stung every now and then when I thought about how much I missed singing along to the radio with my mother in the car and how those days of picking peaches with my father and sister in the backyard were gone.

When I left college and parted ways from my roommates, my friends, my soulmates, I felt that similar sting. When I left California, that feeling was there too. And all the while, I knew it was nothing new -- when you spend an extended period of time away from the familiar, it's bound to hurt a little. Especially when you don't know when, or if, you'll see those faces again.

My 94-year-old grandfather was put into a nursing home a couple weeks ago. It was supposed to be temporary, and now it's permanent -- although nobody will say that word exactly, because the rest of that sentence is "permanent...until he goes." We don't really talk about death and things like that so candidly (which is perhaps why I'm terrible at handling grief), but I can't stop thinking about how, for the first time in 70-some years, my grandmother doesn't know how her husband is.

About nine years ago, my grandfather had a stroke. The doctors had said they weren't sure if he'd make it, and even if he did, they only guessed he had a year. That Christmas, he hugged everyone.

So I guess he's been living on borrowed time (though aren't we all?), but I think it's his nature to be scrappy. It's what you did to survive a war and coming to a foreign country and starting over again and again.

I've been thinking a lot about my grandparents since I moved across the country -- their past, our history, the moments I took for granted as a child when they would take care of me. People used to tell me how lucky I was to have three of my grandparents alive and able to see me grow up. I've never felt the weight of that sentiment until now.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

get back up again.

Three months into the year, and I finally made a New Year's resolution: don't just be grateful, express gratitude. Send "thank you" notes, tell people you appreciate them -- even if the people helping you may not have honest intentions, still: say "thank you."

Everyone deserves some fucking kindness.

That, and more lessons from the month:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

blogging, candidly.

“As a writer, even as a child, long before what I wrote began to be published, I developed a sense that meaning itself was resident in the rhythms of words and sentences and paragraphs, a technique for withholding whatever it was I thought or believed behind an increasingly impenetrable polish. The way I write is who I am, or have become, yet this is a case in which I wish I had instead of words and their rhythms a cutting room, equipped with an Avid, a digital editing system on which I could touch a key and collapse the sequence of time, show you simultaneously all the frames of memory that come to me now, let you pick the takes, the marginally different expressions, the variant readings of the same lines. This is a case in which I need more than words to find the meaning. This is a case in which I need whatever it is I think or believe to be penetrable, if only for myself.” -Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Sunday, March 6, 2016

when it loses its shine.

The McDonald's on the corner by the subway is gone. I don't know how long it's been boarded up, which is surprising because I walk past that corner at least once a day when I get off the 1 to head home.

But Friday, I took the 1 down to work — instead of my normal B/D route — and saw the corner in daylight. It couldn't have been a deconstruction that took place overnight.

I wonder what else has changed while I stopped looking, while my head has been down and buried in work. Somewhere between getting off the bus at Port Authority and March of 2016, my inbox and messages went from fun to buried by needs (I know we barely talk , but can you hook me up with a job? Can you cover this story? Can you meet my friend and give him a job?).

When did coffee dates and dinners go from catch-ups to business transactions?

I get it. This is the bed I made. Somebody the other week asked me if I regretted trading a personal life for success. The question wasn't intended to be blunt, but it was jarring to have it laid out for me like that. At the end of the day, those sixth days at work and weekends spent freelancing were worth it to get me where I am now. I don't regret that. I don't regret it when New York City still feels temporary, and so the idea of roots in a concrete jungle make no sense.

But if you could lay the regrets I do have next to each other, they would circle Central Park.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

26 going on 27.

Hey -- so I tend to get sucked down these rabbit holes online when I can't sleep. A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for an old email address in my Gmail archives and I came across an email from you that led me to another email and then another one and then a Gchat transcript and then links to posts on my now defunct Tumblr page.

Sorry, I'm having trouble getting to the point -- mainly because I've had a lot of points swirling around my brain for awhile, and I'm not sure which one is the most articulate for me to write down right now. Maybe none of them are.

The reason I'm writing this is because I'm turning 27 tomorrow. This is significant because -- well, let me rewind a bit first.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

insane insecurities.

I had a really excellent fifth birthday party, if my memory serves me correctly. It was at Thee Upper Crust Pizza (now closed) next to my parents' regular grocery store and bank, and there was a magician who made tiny bunny rabbits made of red foam appear in my hands with a wave of a wand.

I couldn't tell you much about the guest list (kindergarten classmates, of course) or the gifts or even the cake (was that the year I had a Snow White themed cake? I don't remember), but I do remember loving the feeling of that day. I got to eat pizza and cake with my friends and a magician. What could top that? 

The years following, I wish I could say birthdays were just as fun. While I enjoyed the family traditions of dinner and cake at my grandparents', and the way my mom would let me sleep in 10 more minutes in the morning before school, I don't have many fond party memories the way pizza and foam bunnies made me feel. For my 12th birthday, I had planned a party at my house, and my wonderful mother and I spent the morning putting up decorations (it was supposed to be music-themed, so we had this paper music notes on the walls and the cups and plates were purple with music notes and treble clefs on them) and getting food ready. I was excited about it because at this point in my life, my hair loss had sped up and I went from losing small chunks sporadically to losing fistfuls by the day. But this party would make me forget that I was losing my identity and losing my confidence, and it would make me feel like I still had friends even though people had stopped hanging out with me at recess and I was spending more time in the library reading than playing outside. 

So the Saturday of the party comes, but the only people who showed up were my sister's friends because my mom used to let her invite one or two friends to keep her company. When I called my "best friend" to ask where she was, she said she forgot. Another friend (who had RSVPed, by the way) said she had just invited friends over to her house and couldn't come.

After that, I really hated my birthday.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

don't forget to fall in love.

Don't forget to fall in love with your dreams.

Hell, don't forget to have dreams in the first place.

I think it's scary to have dreams, or to speak them out loud. Saying your wishes and desires out loud means that someone in the world can hear it and hold you accountable in the future -- and what if you fail? Can you still love a dream that seems far out of reach?

"Dreams never die," someone once told me. "It's people who give up on them."

What would it look like if we woke up each morning in love with the possibilities ahead of us?

If I were honest with myself, there are dreams I still have -- dreams for myself and my future, but also dreams for others, for the world -- that I don't necessarily have full faith and confidence in them becoming realities. But that doesn't mean they're worth working toward in some capacity, even in the smallest of ways.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

go your own way.

It’s surprising to me how few Gilmore Girls references I’ve made on this blog in the 6-7 years I’ve been writing here, considering how deep into the world of Gilmore I am — from owning every season on DVD (even season 7) to binge-watching the series multiple times (it’s my comfort show).

Basically, if you ever want to have a way-too-long conversation about the show, I'm your girl.

Of course, inevitably, during the many times I’ve met other fans, the question of, “Which ‘team’ are you on?” always comes up: Team Dean? Jess? Logan?

While I've historically been Team Jess (and I stand by that during my episode re-watches), by the end of the series -- and looking ahead to the revival -- I'm truthfully Team None of Them. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

coffee to-go: get ready, get set.

Another blog goal for the year: document travels. Thanks to my mom and sister, I have a new travel bag that's spacious enough to hold everything I need, but not too cumbersome to serve as my carry-on.

The first trip in this busy year is to Raleigh, North Carolina, where I'll be speaking at Duke University on a "Woman in Media" panel on Tuesday, followed by a weekend in DC for Laura's bachelorette party.

Follow me on Snapchat for more this week (and throughout the year)!

Friday, February 5, 2016

watch this: 'switched at birth.'

Everyone -- I have a lot of feelings about this.

I was feeling sick a couple weekends ago, so I stayed in and decided to put my Roku to work. Monica had been recommending Switched at Birth for awhile now, and since it popped up at the top of my Netflix recommendations, I decided to give it a try.

If you know me, you already know I'm generally down for an ABC Family (now, Freeform) show. After all, the network has its surprising gems that you might not expect (Bunheads, anyone?).

The show reminds me a lot of Parenthood, which is another drama that was equally as captivating. What both shows also have, that intrigues me, are characters you both root for and hate throughout the series. There are some characters and storylines that are ripe for criticism, and often times I found myself wanting to throw something at the television when a character was being pretentious or judgmental or naive. If you were to read through my text updates to Monica while I was watching Switched at Birth, you'll see the constant flip-flopping I feel over individuals and relationships and storylines.

But isn't that what makes a good show? Investment in the characters? At least, for me it does. (And trust me: I have a lot of opinions right now about every character, including the characters that I'm still sitting here wondering, "Where the hell did they go?!" -- and if you watch the show and care to rant with me, you know where to find me.)

My original blog post on this was just me gushing on and on about why the show is so good, but I'll share a few non-spoilery takeaways instead to get my thoughts organized (and to try and convince you to watch, if you aren't already):

Sunday, January 31, 2016

'embrace feeling stupid.'

At the end of every year, I'm pretty convinced I haven't really learned anything. Which isn't true. There are "big picture" lessons I do take away from the year, but I often forget some of the other details of a week or month, lessons I should be taking with me as the year progresses.

So I'm going to start keeping an advice log for myself on this blog because it'll hold me accountable to not fall into the same old traps and the same old pity parties that generally tend to grab onto me and drag me down halfway through the year.

Also, blogging and writing is good for me. It makes me go less crazy in a day, and it also helps me sort out the thoughts that I tend to word vomit at Kristen every day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

'mark my words.'

Do you ever feel taken advantage of because people assume you aren't a leader? Or they look down on you because of your age, gender, ethnicity, etc.? In those instances, what would you do?

Or, rather, WWMKD ("What Would Mindy Kaling Do?") -- the answer, which I've found upon some Googling, is this:
"I love women who are bosses and who don’t constantly worry about what their employees think of them. I love women who don’t ask, 'Is that OK?' after everything they say. I love when women are courageous in the face of unthinkable circumstances, like my mother when she was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Or like Gabrielle Giffords writing editorials for the New York Times about the cowardice of Congress regarding gun laws and using phrases like 'mark my words' like she is Clint Eastwood. How many women say stuff like that?"
So... it's nice to be liked, but it's not so nice to get walked all over. Time to grow some thicker skin.

Monday, January 25, 2016

it's not you, it's me.

I'm dreadful at responding to phone calls, text messages, emails, etc. from people. You'd assume I'd be right on top of things because having a cluttered inbox makes me anxious and I've bullied my staff into responding to emails ASAP.

But in my personal life, the graveyard of unanswered messages is my biggest shame. Not because I don't want to respond. Often times, I'll read something and then forget to write back. Or, I'll tell myself I'll "get to it later," but then get distracted by something else so incredibly mundane, you'd wonder how I'm able to put my shoes on the correct feet every morning (except for this morning, when I put on one snow boot and started pulling on a regular boot on the other foot -- oops).

You're probably thinking, "Geez, why don't you STOP BLOGGING and write everyone back," and you're probably right that I could be spending my time more wisely. I think, when it comes to answering all of the people I've now unfortunately neglected because I'm a dummy, I want to make sure I set aside the right amount of time to be thoughtful with my responses to them. I want to make sure I have something witty or heartfelt to write. I want to do more than send three sentences and a smiley face emoji, like I'd been doing for the past six months because I haven't yet figured out what "work/life balance" means.

Also, even though I didn't really make 2016 resolutions, one of the things I've been trying to do in my life lately has been to admit when I'm wrong or bad at something and not make excuses for it. Just...acknowledge, apologize, and find a way to fix it.

Anyways. I have a communication problem. I'll be better, I promise.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

what I watched: 'meet the patels.'

Disclaimer: OK, so ... I don't know if I'm going to blog about every film I watch, re: this year's movie-watching goal, but I'm going to try. These aren't even really "reviews," more like... reactions. With a coffee cup-inspired rating at the end. I'm not a film critic, I just have opinions.

Meet the Patels is one of those films where you know the tensions, and you can probably assume how it will end. But even if you're right, it's still one of the most delightful journeys to go on because you've become drawn into the hearts of the characters you get to know through the camera.

Although my own family has never been one to pile pressure on regarding marriage (although my mom did say half-jokingly to my grandma last year that neither my sister nor I were going to get married, causing complete panic and anxiety in my poor 92-year-old grandma's heart), I definitely get the cultural conversations in the film. Like how parents don't want you to date at all while you're in school because "it's a distraction," but then the second you're in the working world they want to know why you aren't married yet? Been there.

When I was little, my parents used to say things like, "Just marry a Chinese boy. It'll make things easier."

"What do you mean easier??" I used to ask.

Their answer: "He will understand our food, our traditions."

It was like we were on another planet.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

'yes, thank you.'

I'm better at giving compliments than receiving them -- not that I receive a ton, nor do I necessarily want many. A "good job" once in awhile is always nice to hear, but anything more makes me uneasy.

This truly isn't me fishing more compliments, if that's what it sounds like. I've been thinking about this topic for the last month or so, and then today I had a meeting with a lovely individual that ended in her saying wonderfully complimentary things and my gut reaction was to say anything but "thank you."

Why is it so hard sometimes to just say "thank you"? I think a few reasons go through my brain when someone says something complimentary: "I don't deserve that," "Is he/she sincere?," "I can't look like I just agree with the compliment because it'll make me look cocky."

Sunday, January 17, 2016

watch this: 'crazy ex-girlfriend.'

Confession: my biggest pop culture-related regret of 2015 was not watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend from the start.

So, if you know me, you know I'm terrible at keeping up with television shows. Sometimes it's because I forget. Other times, I'm not home. I also don't really know how to use the DVR in my apartment (I know, I know). I often will watch season/series premieres, and then wait until weekends to catch up online on what I've missed.

Truthfully, I didn't tune into Crazy Ex-Girlfriend when it premiered in October on The CW because -- well, I couldn't really grasp what the show was about. The subway ads and the trailers that ran before web videos didn't capture my attention. Also, October was the month where all I did was wake up, work, go home, work, fall asleep while doing work...

The buzz kept growing for the show, and I kept putting the show on my "to watch" list, but didn't get around to actually watching until the Thanksgiving episode which featured a Filipino-American Thanksgiving. I found the show charming (My kind of dry humor! And it's partially a musical too! How could I not love it!) and bought the iTunes season pass for the show and made a mental note to binge-watch it.

After a lot of procrastination, I finally finished watching the eight episodes released this past weekend, and good Lord -- why did I wait this long to finish it??

My three main takeaways:

Sunday, January 10, 2016

how not to network.

I'm no stranger to people getting close to me because they want something. This isn't a "I'm so successful in my career, everyone wants to be me" blog post, nor do I think that at all. But I get it -- if you have the ability to talk with someone who has a career path you're interested in pursuing, then you'd want to pick their brain, ask for opportunities, etc.

But the one thing that really pisses me off is when people try to take advantage of that.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

'make it by any means.'

When I got my first paycheck from Albertsons in college, my mom deposited the check in my account, withdrew a dollar, and framed it. She did this with my sister's first paycheck to, and said it'd be something we would want to look back on someday. "So you remember where you came from," she said.

I made $7.60 an hour pushing grocery carts and cleaning bathrooms. It wasn't glamorous, but I was 18 and I needed a job so I wouldn't have to go to my parents for every single expense: for school supplies or for that extra coffee. We had loans for tuition already, and I wanted to do my part to contribute, and also to start saving up when I could.

I left that job in January 2008. I hadn't been doing well -- personally, academically, mentally. After a series of events and the right people in my life, three years later by the time I was ready to graduate, everything had changed, and it's been changing ever since.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

oh well.

I wanted so badly for my first blog post of 2016 to be one of reflection and sprinkled with a little bit of hope. There are drafts and ideas jotted down on my phone for several posts -- there's one about my four-year anniversary of having moved to New York, and one about my most-listened-to music according to Spotify from last year. There was also one that was sort of a love letter back to California (I know, I know).

But, nope. This post is going to be how you probably all know me best: full of anxiety, insomnia, and too many thoughts to fit into my brain in a proper and orderly fashion.

I mean... we're barely into the new year and about 45 minutes ago I've just had my first "crying because you're too stressed and frustrated to do anything else" moment.

I wish I could say my New Year's Resolution is to put my foot down more. To be confident. To stand up for my work. To stand up for my ideas.

To basically prove to everyone who's suggested over the last six months I'm un-fucking-qualified to do what I'm doing that they're wrong.

Whatever. Here's a list of things that make I'm currently doing to make me happy when I'm feeling blue:
  • Binge-watching favorite shows (old and new -- I just blew through The Comeback)
  • Watching something I know will make me laugh (currently switched to: The Late Late Show)
  • Talking to Kristen
  • Drinking water 
OK. I'm fine.