Wednesday, December 6, 2017

favorites: November 2017.

Happy DECEMBER! That's wild. The year is almost over... but my obsession with Kylie Cosmetics is only just beginning. Read on!

1. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I can't even talk about this book right now without stumbling over my words. It's beautiful and upsetting and familiar and absolutely wonderful, and I think it's my new favorite John Green book. I felt so close to the main character, and the way he captures the voices of young adult women and gets right in their heads has always amazed me. It's like listening to the internal dialogue of my 16-year-old brain, and Turtles All the Way Down hit even closer because of those spirals that I've found myself in too.

I can't say enough about this book. (And yes, I cried.) Just read it.

Friday, December 1, 2017

a winter drink.

When I think about winter, I often think about peppermint lattes and gloves and scarves. I think about the sight of Central Park covered in snow before they shoveled it, and I think about the fogged up windows of Village tea shops. It sounds romanticized, but those were just a smattering of the moments I experienced living in a place where seasons were real.

Sometimes, I think that I miss it –  not the slippery, iced-over sidewalks that are impossible to walk or the packed subway cars filled with puffy coats and agitated commuters...but the quiet moments when the snow's untouched. In the last snow dump that I could remember before I left, I walked around my neighborhood and it felt as magical as the dreams I had of a place I never thought I'd live. 

When I think about winter, I think about wistfulness, about how things never feel quite right after autumn has passed. Instead, winter feels like a season to reflect on regrets and to wish for something better in the new year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

gratitude for the present moment.

I've always had a soft spot for Thanksgiving – and not just because it's a holiday that contains a lot of amazing food (though that doesn't hurt). I love that it's a day for gratitude and to be with family and friends, and I love that the day lands during my favorite season.

Growing up, it was also the first event of a season of opportunities to spend an entire day with my cousins and aunts and uncles. As the youngest, I loved the change to observe everyone around me – how they interacted, what they talked about, and imagining how holidays would be when I was grown up enough to be part of every conversation.

When I went to college, I stopped coming home for Thanksgiving. The timing was too short, I usually had to work, and I knew I'd be home for longer less than a month later when finals were done and Christmas came around. It helped that I had family in LA too, even though I wasn't used to holidays down here. And I'll admit it took me awhile to get comfortable with it: there was less lounging around in a warm home and more eating out at restaurants, and something didn't scream "holidays" to me the way I was used to, though in some ways, it did prepare me for life after college too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

the longest relationship.

I'm not going to pretend to be any wiser than I was in 2016.

Last year, I wrote a post about the importance of falling in love – with your dreams, with your life, with yourself. It's a reminder that I let slip away from me almost as soon as I wrote the post because it was so much easier to fall back into old habits than to fall in love with all of the possibilities that life could bring.

But isn't it true that the longest relationship you'll have in your life is with yourself? So why is it that that relationship – the one with ourselves – is the hardest to maintain?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

favorites: October 2017.

Man, October felt like a slow favorites month because my September was filled with new things I loved. It's not that I didn't love things in October, but I traveled more than expected and was a bit out of sorts. Also, it's been 100 degrees in LA and I've still been living like it's summer.

Anyways. Onto the favorites plus my watching/listening recommendations that I've been forgetting to include in my favorites posts:

1. Blue Oversized Denim Jacket from New Look

OK. The 100-degree weather has not been the right time for this. But I've worn it a few times in the evening and also when going from coast-to-coast and it is so cozy. I love the oversized look of it and it's a great travel jacket because it doubles as a nice blanket, and the denim isn't too heavy either. It's just a nice jacket. I can't wait to wear it more once the temperature drops.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

how to moderate a panel (aka how not to eff it up too much).

Moderating panels are stressful. That's just a fact. When you're a panelist on the panel, the preparation consists mostly of making sure you know what you're talking about. When you're being asked questions, you don't need to worry so much about directing the conversation.

But when you're the one steering the ship, that's a whole other ball game. So far this year, I've moderated about a half dozen panels (and been on about a dozen more), and most of them with anywhere from 2 to 4 panelists. That's a lot of people to talk to in 45 minutes about a wide range of topics.

So what makes for a successful panel? I've learned the hard way (by effing up) and the easy way (by being on panels with great moderators), and I've got at least one more panel to moderate before the year's end, so here are some tips and tricks that might help you through moderating your next panel:

1. Research your panelists.
Often times, panel organizers will provide you with bios, but even if that's the case, do your own research too. Look at their social media accounts, dig back through their YouTube videos, read other interviews they may or may not have done. It's OK if you aren't 100% familiar with someone on your panel, but by the time you get to the day of the panel, you should be able to talk about this person as if they're an actual friend.

And then practice introducing the panelists. I always recite bios of people in my head while I'm getting ready for my day – making coffee, doing my makeup, etc. – so that if I'm the one intro-ing them before the panel kicks off, I'm not just relying on them to tell the audience who they are. A good moderator should be able to make that introduction.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

when words stick.

With the recent news of actress Charlyne Yi's recollection of an uncomfortable encounter with a fellow actor, I've been thinking a lot about those moments we often run into in a day that stay with us – and perhaps don't resonate as deeply with the other person.

Perhaps David Cross doesn’t remember. I don’t know. But what I can say is that even the most well-intentioned people will unknowingly offend, and even if they don’t remember it, their words or actions may make a lasting impact.

I’m sure the person last week who mis-identified me as two different Asian-American women in one breath, and then waved his hand and said, “Oh, whatever” when I corrected him, didn’t think he was saying anything wrong.

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.

Monday, September 11, 2017

5 reasons to love having alopecia.

There should be more positive content about alopecia, in my opinion, so I figured I'd use this week's blog post to highlight a few of those things. These are 100% based on my own experience, so if you have others, share away!

1. No need to panic about finding the right hairdresser.
OK yes – there's a lot of drama around figuring out how to handle your hair (or lack thereof). Wig? No wig? Headscarves? But if there's one thing I've gathered from my friends and relatives who haven't yet found that perfect hairdresser who gets them, it's that there's a lot of stress that comes with finding your Hair-y Godperson. And even if you find that person, what happens if you move? Or they move? Just hearing people discuss this makes me anxious. I don't even like buying a new brand of soap.

2. You can see how the back of your hair(style) will look.
There's honestly nothing more relaxing than being able to sit in front of the TV and curl your hair while it sits on a stand in front of you.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

alopecia storytime.

I was 7 years old when my hair started falling out. It was a really hot day and my school was this 100 year old building that didn’t have central A/C. So we were having this quiet reading time and I reached back to tie up my hair into a ponytail.

A few minutes later, I started hearing this whispering behind me...and then it started getting closer and closer, and it turned into laughter. A girl tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to my head.

“Maybe you shouldn’t tie your hair up,” she said.

I wasn’t really sure what to say. And then she said, “You’ve got a bald spot.”

I quickly pulled the hair tie off my head and sunk back into my book, mortified. When I got home that day, I asked my mom about it and she said that it’s normal for people’s hair to fall out. But it’ll grow back. That’s just how it is. didn’t grow back. It actually kept falling out. I started wrapping my head in scarves and tried to disappear as quickly as my eyebrows and eyelashes did from my face. I spent recesses on the bench reading, and at lunch, the librarian would let me spend the period inside the library instead of having to be outside with the rest of the kids.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

favorites: August 2017.

I don't have many new product favorites from this past month; it's been more of a month to rediscover some old standbys that have quickly become favorites. Also, I think at this point I should do an update on some "unfavorites," but I find a list of "favorites" tends to be more fun...

Speaking of favorites updates: Cheer Up Buttercup is now available online!

1. Sleepy Hand and Body Lotion by Lush

I bought this last Christmas when it was a holiday exclusive, but I'm not surprised it's gone into the regular product line. If you love Twilight (and you know I do!), you'll love Sleepy. It's got a strong lavender scent and is so soft and moisturizing – and it's a gorgeous purple in the pot.

About a month after I bought it, I packed up to move across the country and then misplaced the pot for awhile. When I unpacked it, I would use it infrequently and then just sort of stopped altogether because I was using Dream Cream before bed to calm my skin. But I've started reintroducing small bits of Sleepy into my bedtime routine, and it's been knocking me out quickly and helping me sleep through the night. Who knows, it could just be a placebo effect, but I'll take it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

why 'Dear Evan Hansen' resonates.

There's been a lot of hype around Dear Evan Hansen (even before the Tony's), and rightfully so: it's music is powerful, it's story is striking. There's a lot of emotion packed into this show, and I know there's been a fair share of criticism about it too, but I can only speak from my own experience about what I felt walking into the show and what I felt walking out of it.

By the time I went to see the show, I was incredibly familiar with the music, but only somewhat familiar with the details of the plot. I knew what the show was about, how the characters related to one another, and where the music fell in the story, but I didn't want to know every line/every scene/every detail before I saw it on stage. So walking into the theatre, I knew what I could expect in the broadest terms.

Dear Evan Hansen is, too sum it up briefly, about suicide, anxiety, and what happens when a lie spins out of control in a very public way. Those tentpoles of the show build a story that is complex and challenging because – here's the thing: it's hard to root for Evan Hansen, 100%. In the beginning, you feel empathy for him. He's a lonely teen who struggles to accept that his voice matters to anyone, including, at some points, to his own mother. But as he carries on with the lie that he was best friends with a classmate who killed himself, things spin out of control and he begins to not only own the lie, but manipulate it.

On the surface, it's the most selfish thing an audience could witness; and yet, I think one of the reasons it makes you feel uncomfortable as you watch it is because we can all recognize Evan in ourselves in some way.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

grief is for the living.

I spent the majority of this day one year ago in bed watching The Great British Bake-Off. It's not productive to re-hash what happened and the terrible final 24 hours we went through as a family, but all I remember was feeling vulnerable and helpless – 3,000 miles away, and all I could do was send emails and call and try to get the convalescent home to listen as my aunt was dying. By the time she took her last breath, I don't know if anything I did made a difference other than to get one person to finally respond and say "sorry" they had forgotten about her needs.

When somebody you love dies, the grief is impossible to put into words. Even a year later, I don't have the right words to reflect on the loss. All I knew at the time was that I could no longer afford to be 3,000 miles away, and so I packed up and came back to California – a decision I 100% don't regret.

We went to her grave site yesterday to lay flowers and say "hello." My grandmother still hasn't been, which my dad is judgmental about, but I don't think he gets it because his side of the family is always in this perpetual state of petty fighting. It's been hard to feel like I should've come home sooner, been there for when I was needed. But I think being back now is good enough. It's the least I could've done.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

the Disney tag.

I meant for this week's blog post to be a Dear Evan Hansen reflection, but a combination of family obligations plus crashing on a few projects with tight deadlines has resulted instead in – you guessed it – another tag/list.

I'd say "oops," but it's my blog so I suppose I can do whatever I want on it :) So this week: the Disney tag! (Note: I'm excluding Pixar films from this.)

1. A scene in any Disney movie you wish you could experience.
The lantern scene from Tangled.

2. An unforgettable experience/moment you've had at the parks.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

favorites: July 2017.

In between crying over Dear Evan Hansen and catching up on my YouTube sub box, July passed by in such a blur. I'm trying to focus these "favorites" list on products and keep the entertainment (podcasts, shows, music, book) to a "what I'm listening to/watching/reading" section at the end. Not a perfect structure to these lists so far, but who needs perfect? ;)

1. A French Kiss Bubble Bar by Lush

Y'all know I love me some lavender – and this bubble bar doesn't disappoint. I had never used a bubble bar before, but watching it crumble and form the bubbles for a luscious purple bath is addictive. The scent is wonderful and relaxing and it doesn't leave an annoying color stain on the tub like I was worried it might.

when (not) to burn a bridge.

It can be difficult to spot when you're being taken advantage of – whether personally or professionally – but when you realize it, I've often struggled to answer the question: is it too harsh to cut off ties completely?

Here's the thing: burning bridges is generally never advised as a first resort. The internet has actually made our worlds a bit smaller, I think, and even if you tried to do everything possible to keep someone out of your social media feeds, they're never really excised a la Eternal Sunshine.

That having been said, I've wondered when exactly it is the "right" time to say, "No, I don't want this person in my life." That can be a harsh decision to make. You're essentially saying to yourself – and the other person – that you actively do not want them to be a part of anything you do. Sometimes, it makes sense to cut certain people out: an abusive ex, a bully who made your life hell... but often times, there's no easy answer when it comes to trying to figure out how/when/why the time is now.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

30 songs.

Having one of those writer's/creator's block moments where nothing interesting is coming from banging my fingers against the keyboard, so here is the most boring thing I could think of to blog about this week: a Tumblr survey I found that has 700-some notes to it, so it must be popular, right?

1. A song you like with a color in the title: "Blackbird" – The Beatles
2. A song you like with a number in the title: "6/10" – dodie
3. A song that reminds you of summertime: "California Girls" – Katy Perry
4. A song that reminds you of someone you would rather forget about: "Calendar Girl" – Stars
5. A song that needs to be played LOUD: "Call Me Maybe" – Carly Rae Jepsen
6. A song that makes you want to dance: "Bad Romance" – Lady Gaga
7. A song to drive to: "Castle On the Hill" – Ed Sheeran
8. A song about drugs or alcohol: "Habits (Stay High)" – Tove Lo
9. A song that makes you happy:"Here Comes the Sun" – The Beatles

Friday, July 28, 2017

'did I even make a sound?'

I was 16 the first time I saw a professionally-staged musical. Little Women had come to town and my uncle had tickets but couldn't make it, so he offered them to my mom and me. Until that point, I had seen taped stage productions aired on PBS and rented from Hollywood Video. I was in shows in school and went to see the ones I didn't participate in, and we had soundtrack after soundtrack in a CD folder we kept in the car for our drives to school each morning.

I'll never forget the feeling of seeing Little Women played out in front of me: the way the sets moved and the lighting shifted to the music and the actors poured emotions across the stage, and the way the audience laughed and gasped and cried... It all felt so real and unexpected – like anything could happen, like the experience of being in that theatre was a moment meant just for us.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

a letter & three drinks.


I feel like it wouldn't be a new chapter for both of our lives if I didn't also mark it with some mix CDs. Well, I guess they aren't really CDs because I've just made YouTube playlists, but as we've determined: it's expensive to mail packages to/from Ukraine. Also, my MacBook Air doesn't even have a CD player.

I've been making mixes for people since middle school, back when we all figured out how to burn music (shh), but my favorite mixes were always the ones I would exchange with you and the girls. I'm glad I was able to introduce you to my guilty pleasures (scream-singing "7 Things" by Miley Cyrus in your car is still one of the funniest memories) and there are country selections from your CDs that are still some of my favorites.

Whether it was a mix CD for graduation/goodbyes, or a mix "just because," it feels like we can't move from phase to phase of our lives without exchanging music – music that we unapologetically love, and music that ranges from the classics to the hidden treasures. I like that about our friendship.

So per your request to use YouTube (if/when Spotify is accessible, I'll bombard you with music there too), here are three playlists to keep you occupied: they're sorted out by beverages to help you decide what mood you're in to listen to them:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


When I'm in a creative rut, I like to surround myself with music and stories and writing that can feel like a warm hug: art that is comforting and familiar and reminds me of times when I've felt inspired to just make things.

But the flip side of that is that it can also feel a little sad. Sometimes I'll listen to something or watch something and just think to myself: "I could never create something that beautiful."

Sometimes, I go through these phases where I'll pick an artist whose work I like and just dive headfirst into consuming everything – I'll listen to everything available on Spotify. I'll fall down a YouTube rabbit hole. I'll read every interview they've ever said anything new in. The past two weeks, the subject of this obsessive behavior has been Mika, whose debut album "Life in Cartoon Motion" came out 10 years ago. (It wasn't an album that was received incredibly well in the U.S., and Mika himself isn't as commercially successful here in the U.S. as he is abroad.)

But I remember listening to "Life in Cartoon Motion" the first time and feeling like it was special. As his later music emerged, I didn't follow his career as closely, which is why when "Grace Kelly" came up on my Spotify recently, I was reminded of a time when the world felt like a blank canvas before me, and I immediately went and downloaded his entire body of work.

There's something lovely about his journey as an artist. His music doesn't fit comfortably into one genre, and it's evident he's constantly exploring the world and his perspective through his music. Each song, each album was part of his own journey as a person, and it's so clear from his writing on "The Origin of Love" and "No Place In Heaven" that something has changed in how he views himself and the world.

Monday, July 3, 2017

favorites: June 2017.

I feel like I spent June half-asleep until VidCon arrived, and then suddenly I was hit by this wave of energy. That being said, I barely had time to keep track of some of my favorite things from this past month.

1. Dream Cream Hand and Body Lotion by Lush

It's one of Lush's "best-selling" lotions for a reason, which probably also makes me a bit out of touch by including this on a June 2017 favorites list. I actually received a sample of this last year, and was told it was developed with those who suffer from eczema in mind. I've read up on it, and it seems to be hit or miss for many, but I began using it pretty regularly once I moved to Los Angeles where the dryness and unexpected winter heat hit me harder than I expected. Having grown up in California, I was pretty used to my skin flaring up with small rashes due to the heat, and having grown up with mild bouts of eczema, I knew what helped and didn't help too. Unfortunately the one thing I always relied on was a topical cream that contained steroids, but even that should be used sparingly because of damages it could do if too much is used.

The other thing that I discovered quickly worked though? Dream Cream. It would stop the itching, which helped me sleep, and it doesn't leave a sticky or oily feeling. The downside, in my opinion, is that it's not the most pleasant smell you could get from Lush, but it's not offensive either.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

the impersonal internet.

Sometimes, I'm afraid that social media has replaced so many of the interactions I've used to treasure and hold so dearly. A tweet or Facebook status update is assumed to be enough; a blog post or Instagram photo appears to tell a full story. Even with my own parents, who follow me on most social platforms (sometimes, to my dismay), they'll refer to tweets from three weeks ago as if it was a story I had told them personally.

It's not that I'm exactly complaining about this. We all participate in social media willingly; nobody forces you to tweet or Snap. But it's easier, isn't it, than writing lengthy emails or talking on the phone. Sometimes, it's even easier than making time to sit down for coffee with someone and catch up on life.

Monday, June 26, 2017

harry potter tag.

At the WB Studio Tour in Leavesden
Happy 20th anniversary, Harry Potter franchise. When I was first introduced to the series (my mom read the first book to me before bed while I used my albuterol nebulizer to help me breathe while sleeping), I loved the idea of stepping into a world of magic. The concept of an outsider becoming a hero is not new, but there was something special about this scrawny kid who had something different about him.

So cheers to you, JK Rowling, and the world you've created that made this quiet, Asian-American girl who needed a machine to help her sleep and a wig to make her look "normal."

RELATED: the wizarding world of Orlando, Florida.

And here's the the HP tag for a bit of fun!:

1) Favourite book?
Philosopher's Stone (classic intro to the world!) or Order of the Phoenix.

2) Least favourite book?
Chamber of Secrets.

3) Favourite movie?
Prisoner of Azkaban or the Deathly Hallows films because having a two-part movie helped preserve more of the book details.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

travel diary: is it possible to visit three cities in one week?

When we began planning our London/Amsterdam/Dublin trip, the first question we had to ask ourselves was: can we do this all in a week?

Somewhere over London, en route to Amsterdam

The short answer is "yes," but it requires a lot of planning and understanding that you might not be able to do it all. (Check out my previous post on what we did/what we ate.)

I'm also an anxious traveler, so some of these steps and tips might seem overkill to you, but I found they worked best for me and helped us do (most of) what we wanted to do. And as Kristen just said to me: "It's smart to spend time worrying earlier instead of there."

Step 1: Use Google Flights.
Set your home airport and then move your mouse around the world with Google Flights' interactive map that shows you how much it costs to fly to various cities. This helped a lot in figuring out the order of cities to travel to, and I also love that it gives me a ton of options when it comes to airlines, time, and stopovers.

Being able to set notifications on specific flights helped too so I could get alerts on when prices went up or down dramatically.

Friday, June 16, 2017

can you live in LA without a car?

When I tell people I'm living in LA without a car, there are two responses I typically get:

1. How??
2. Why???

The latter is easier to respond to and understand: having a car is expensive. By the time you add up car payments and insurance, gas, parking (and parking tickets because, c'mon, it's LA)... it's a hefty monthly cost. And seeing as how my anxiety has only risen with age, putting a stressed and terrible driver on the road (yes, I do have my license but I'm really that bad of a driver) is bound to have terrible results.

The "how" is a bit more of a difficult explanation for some people to wrap their minds around, and seeing as how this is my personal experience and perspective, it will vary for each person who navigates the city without a car, so my opinion isn't even representative of the majority at all.

Is it more convenient to have a car you can just hop into when you want and need to? Absolutely. For instance, the amount of pre-planning it took for me to commit to buying a tower fan the other day was more than I cared for (I still did it).

Friday, June 9, 2017

travel diary: London, Amsterdam, Dublin.

Since traveling to Dublin and Amsterdam last year, I couldn't stop thinking about how much there was to do and see, and how much I didn't get the chance yet to experience.

The bench! I solo tripped it last time here so I didn't actually get to sit on it...

It wasn't that I didn't enjoy last year's trip, but I took it right before my busiest month and right at the time I had just launched a major project. I was exhausted and half-working and poorly prepared. So when the opportunity arose to travel back (at the END of this year's busy month), I couldn't pass it up – add a trip into London, a place I'd always wanted to go, and you had an irresistible itinerary.

My travel buddy Kristen and me at the WB Studio Tour,
in front of the doors to the Great Hall
We flew out of LAX on a Saturday night on a 787 Dreamliner and it was lovely and comfortable, and we had Panda Express before boarding the flight. (The flight back was just OK except for the one guy next to me who elbowed me in the head and face the whole 10 hours, and the part a few hours into the flight where I was asked to move seats for au upgraded male passenger. I guess if you buy the lowest fare with Norwegian, you're not considered a priority.)

Part of me was worried such a packed travel plan would backfire, but everything went well and our tired feet can attest to that.

Below is just a quick snapshot of what we did and what we ate, and I plan to write more about traveling and planning (and being an anxious traveler) and all that later, but if I don't post this now, you can absolutely bet I'll forget 80% of it.

There are also a ton of things here that deserve its own post, so that's coming later...

Thursday, June 1, 2017

favorites: May 2017.

So many of my favorite things in May had a lot to do with what kept me company on my travels. I've spent so much time the past few weeks in airports and hotels, and bopping around from place to event to outing. (For an introvert like me, that's exhausting.)

This month's list is a combination of beauty products that kept me glowing during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month events, to entertainment-related things that helped me get through all those travel delays...

1. BECCA X Chrissy Teigen Glow Face Palette by BECCA

I was dying to get my hands on this palette when I saw Chrissy Teigen was collaborating with BECCA, which has been my new favorite brand for highlighters this year. I traveled with this BECCA x Chrissy palette for my APAHM events at the end of May and – not only did it make my makeup collection so much more compact – it was the best accessory for every outfit. Everything is subtle, yet dewy, and not too pigmented either (which adds to that subtlety).

Monday, May 22, 2017

main street, nostalgia.

I don't think he remembers, but somehow, I do. These days, I'm very forgetful – I'll leave the apartment and have to turn back around in 15 seconds to check if I've locked the door. Did I unplug the coffee maker? What about the hot-air brush? One day, I left my bedroom light on all day until I returned at 11PM and thought someone had broken in.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

dream on the horizon.

I sat on writing this entry too long, and now it's past midnight here in D.C. as I try to find the right words I've been weighing on what to say about May 17.

If you asked me 10 years ago where I thought I'd be in a decade, I wouldn't have come close to being right. Ten years ago, when the clock struck midnight, I remember laying in bed and wondering what it meant to graduate from high school and leave behind the bubble I'd grown accustomed to. At Loretto, I felt safe. I knew the 100 classmates I'd gone through the past four years with. The biggest risk I was taking was doing back-to-back performances on the stage of Memorial Auditorium as the Class of 2007 said goodbye to our high school years. Up until May 17, 2007, the only time I'd been out of state were for family trips to Reno (and that one trip to Las Vegas in elementary school); I'd only ever lived in one house in one neighborhood in one city. My world was small, and yet I wanted more without knowing what that "more" was.

But knowing at that moment, when the clock struck midnight, that I would soon be embarking on an adventure soon was both exciting and absolutely terrifying. It's a mixed bag of emotions that's come up again and again in the past 10 years with every step forward into some big unknown: leaving college... leaving California... leaving DC, and then leaving New York.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

favorites: April 2017.

I was so busy last month preparing for this month (I also just launched a podcast with Charles: more about it here) that I don't have many new new things to tell you about, but I have some oldies – but goodies – to gush about. Also, I'm adding a list at the end of what's been on repeat on my Spotify (both new releases and old favorites):

1. Too Faced Sweet Peach Eye Shadow Collection Palette

OK, this one's new(ish): I managed to snag the Too Faced reward from Sephora in February and it finally came in the mail in April. I'm a huge fan of Too Faced palettes, and was slightly disappointed by their White Chocolate Chip release. What's nice about the Peach palette is that it's got a variety of warmer spring tones that's been missing from their chocolate series. It also smells like peaches, which is my second favorite scent!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month | #RedefineAtoZ

I was 8 or 9 the first time I got called a chink on the playground by some school bully. It was words like that – and "oriental" and "China doll," among others – that made me scared to be proud of being Asian American. I thought the definitions about who I was had already been written by others, and I just needed to fit into what those rules said I could be.

We joke in the community that May is just another month, because we're all still Asian American and Pacific Islanders on June 1. But I want to take this month, while we've got your attention (yes, you, out there) to introduce you to some of the things we are that you might not see the other 334 days of the year.

I want to introduce you to Mei Lum and her incredible story about reclaiming the narrative of Chinatown through Wing On Wo & Co. I want to introduce you to Richard Tran, who was introduced to me through our open nomination call a couple of months ago, and whose work I can't stop thinking about. I want to introduce you to Rajuju Brown, whose music through GRUMBY has been the soundtrack to my workdays the last couple of months.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are artistic and curious; we're historic and inclusive, multicultural and resisting cliches. We are tireless. We are versatile. (We are #notyourmodelminority.)

Take the time to check out "NBC Asian America Presents: A to Z," and also watch and share the video our friends at Jubilee produced to go along with our project.

Every day, we have the opportunity and the challenge to push back on the assumptions of others when they see our faces and our skin before they see us, and I hope you'll think about the ways that you too are writing and rewriting what it means to be Asian American and Pacific Islander in America today.

Friday, April 28, 2017

dear LA: thoughts from the carless.

1. Stand to the right, walk to the left! 
2. Crosswalks aren't a suggestion. You should probably stop before them.
3. Stop signs: also not a suggestion. You don't have to California roll through 'em all.
4. The sidewalks are big, but that doesn't mean your group should take up the entire thing – especially when there are other people trying to walk around (or opposite) you.
5. Why do your crosswalk lights not function unless you push a damn button? 
6. It's always a pleasant surprise when the train the board said was 24 minutes away shows up in 3 minutes, but update that shit, please. 
7. Take out your Metro card before encountering a turnstile!
8. How is anyone supposed to tell the difference between the red and purple lines at Union Station when they don't always come in on regular tracks?? I've run down stairs to jump on what I thought was a red train before only to end up on a purple one.
9. On that note: why aren't your trains color coded in some way? Why do the trains all have that literal red line paint job?
10. How do the majority of the Metro employees stay so cheery and helpful? Explain, then create a course and teach it to the MTA.
11. Why can't I drink my coffee in the morning if it's in a tumbler with a secure lid? :(
12. Do you notice when people sneak sips of their coffee anyways?
13. How often do you clean the metro seats?
14. I'm secretly grateful for the lack of cell service underground because then I don't have to check my emails.
15. Despite the occasional frustrations, I'd still take you over the MTA, let's be honest.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

the things in my brain.

After a long day filled with laughs, coffee, and wedding planning (for non-existent weddings), a friend said to me upon our reflections about work and our chosen profession: "It isn't something you just half 'do.'"

He was right, but I think that's really true about anything you're passionate about. You have to work hard and there are sacrifices that go hand-in-hand with it, and as you throw yourself deeply into the career you've picked, you'll also find that that dedication ends up bleeding into other parts of your life. Half-assing anything is no longer an option.

But lately I've been wondering about what happens when that light dims a bit. Where does all the motivation and the passion go if it isn't wrapped around you every day? Did it burn out with the rest of your fire, or did you build walls around it in your heart so you could save it for later?

Monday, April 10, 2017

favorites: March 2017.

I'm a bit light on favorites this month – not because I didn't like things, but because I don't think I explored enough new items really worth writing home about.

That having been said, March was a fine enough month, but it was so busy that I fell massively behind on reading and TV and film and, in general.

But here are a couple of things I'd recommend from the month...

1. BECCA Prismatic Amethyst highlighter

Watch this Instagram video previewing the amethyst highlighter and try not to be mesmerized. I love this highlighter, and I've never been one to really use highlighters in the first place. But since moving back to a state where the sun is out more often than not, I figured now's the time to dive right into this shimmery trend. This BECCA powder is subtle, but still provides a unique tint to those cheeks. I'm obsessed.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

how to kill a giant spider.

1. Scream and run out of the room.
2. Pull everything out of the broom closet that might help you defend yourself.
3. Cry.
4. Consider vacuuming it up, but then think about what to do if it's still alive inside the vacuum.
5. Think about what happens if it gets shredded to bits and then stuck inside the vacuum.
6. Abandon the vacuum.
7. Grab a cup and postcard.
8. Inch toward the spider, realize how big it is, then run out of the room.
9. Go online and look up the guidelines for your apartment complex on how to report a maintenance emergency.
10. Realize "help me kill a spider" isn't a maintenance emergency and the staff probably won't come.
11. Consider breaking something serious in your apartment to fake a maintenance emergency.
12. Get on Twitter and Facebook and panic at anyone still awake cuz it's almost midnight, you idiot. Find a friend who 100% GETS YOU and your freakout.
13. Grab a shoe and a wad of paper towels and try to be brave.
14. Imagine the spider dodging your shoe and then running up toward the ceiling, and now you'll have to move because your apartment now belongs to the spider.
15. Go back to the closet. Pull out the Swiffer wand.
16. Seek advice on whether the dry or wet Swiffer cloths are the better option. (The wet Swiffer is your best bet, according to your friend.)
17. Grab Scotch tape and wrap it around the ball of the Swiffer wand to keep the flat end from moving.
18. For background noise, turn up the podcast episode you were listening to before the spider entered your life. Waffle A LOT.
19. Scream. Smash the spider against the wall with the Swiffer wand. (Wonder if your neighbors are trying to sleep.)
20. Panic about what to do next. Video call a second friend who's half asleep but will laugh with you to make you feel better about yourself.
21. Scream while scraping the spider off the wall.
22. Panic and throw the Swiffer cloth into the toilet and flush without thinking.
23. Watch as your toilet gets clogged.
24. Call the maintenance emergency line and explain to them what happened. Wait for the maintenance guy to show up and unclog the toilet.
25. Stay awake all night in fear of more spiders showing up to get revenge.

* This is inspired (as in, it is) a true story.
** This post is #notspon by Swiffer.
*** S/o to Jason and Kristen for sticking by me during this emotionally challenging time.

Friday, March 31, 2017

apologies, pt. 2.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about catching myself apologizing for things I shouldn't really apologize for. In a follow-up to that, I've realized that one thing I tend to do often is apologize to people for not responding to emails right away. It's a bad habit I developed during college in my need to prove I could be a reliable assistant and, eventually, freelancer (when I began to do more graphic design freelancing).

And then it just kind of continued onto my professional life, because in the era of breaking news, you have to be fast – and not just fast, but with precision and professionalism.

The problem with that is then you develop a reputation for being reliable – even on your days off. Because I can literally take my job anywhere with me, I've felt this weird sense of obligation to be responsive 24/7. There have been many moments, too, where people would get upset if I didn't respond on a Saturday night or at 10PM on a Tuesday.

Lately, in an effort to disconnect more frequently, I've tried not to respond to emails past a certain hour of the day or on weekends – not because I don't care about my job, but because I also care about my mental health too (which, let's face it, has not been in a great state these days). The exceptions have been emergencies, of course, but the people who need to reach me in a life or death situation have my phone number, and they would call if the situation was urgent (I think).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

gratitude check 2017: #1.

2017 has been off to a less-than-stellar start, so I thought I'd do a quick "gratitude check" to remind myself that even when times are tough, there are always things to be thankful for:

  • Best friends who will talk with you all day (sometimes about everything, sometimes about nothing – and it's always exactly what we both need), go on random adventures when you just need to do something in the sun, or go to Target just to buy dish soap
  • My apartment (specifically, the furniture + having family around to help build said furniture)
  • Falling asleep on Na's couch (usually, on accident)
  • Conversations with Lyft drivers (this is uniquely LA – or, at least, uniquely non-NYC – and also the topic of a future, longer blog post)
  • JetBlue Mint status
  • Receiving the same viral panda video/image from a dozen different people in one day because my brand is very strong

Thursday, March 16, 2017

coffee book tag.

I don't talk enough about coffee, but I do love my lists. Here's the most roundabout way to tie those things together: the coffee book tag!

1. Black: Name a series that's tough to get into but has hardcore fans.
For me, it would be Game of Thrones. I read the first book and then a third of the second book, but then it just stopped holding my attention. I think the genre just isn't for me, but every time I tell anyone I've not read the books (or that I don't watch the show), they look at me like I'm missing out on the most important thing in the world.

2. Peppermint mocha: Name a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year.
For me, I feel like it's the first Harry Potter book. It just makes me feel warm and cheerful.

Friday, March 10, 2017


The lid of my record player broke.

I don't know when it happened – it was fine last week – but I went to move things around on the shelf and it just...came off. The hinge was already in a fragile state, from several big moves over the last 6 years, but it didn't mean it sucked any less to find it snapped.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

favorites: January/February 2017.

Be glad I'm combining the past two months because, otherwise, my January favorites would've just been IKEA furniture.

Speaking of which! I've finally settled into my apartment out here on the Best Coast – at least, as settled as I can be right now. The moving boxes are gone, I have a rice cooker (finally!)... with the exception of a couple of missing things (I'm going to be talking about the end table I want to buy for months, I bet), I'm pretty much unpacked and pleased with it.

Surprisingly, as in love as I am with my apartment, there's only one apartment-related thing on this list...

1. Pillowfort Glass Table Lamp 

This is just one of my favorite things in my apartment, but currently near the top of that list. It's operated by touching the base, which turns it on and off. If there's one thing that can further encourage my laziness, it's this.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

the best advice I've ever gotten.

The best advice I've ever received comes in two parts, and both are not pieces of advice I would've thought to label as "the best" a few years ago. But lately, when I've been asked to share advice or words of wisdom, these are the two I keep coming back to:

1. You have your entire life to work, but only right now to be there for the people who need you most.
I used to be the kind of person who put work before everything. But last year, I began to make the conscious effort to unplug on weekends; to keep my phone zipped away in my purse when catching up with friends. Even up until the spring of last year, I was constantly on my phone, thinking I needed to respond RIGHT AWAY to every email I got, even if it was something that could've waited until Monday. Even when I was in Amsterdam on vacation in April, I was answering inquiries about invoices and demands to read pitches. That only contributed to what happened at the end of the year when I left New York burnt out AF.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

carless in LA.

Most people, when I tell them I don't plan to buy a car upon moving to Los Angeles, look at me like I'm crazy.

"You need a car," some say.

From another: "Enjoy having no social life."

Coming from New York City, where it was rare for someone to own a car, the comments don't surprise me. LA is a city built for cars. And while it isn't the most convenient thing to not have a car, I also believe in my abilities to survive on my own.

So it does bother me when people assume I'm either A) helpless, or B) naive. In the month I've been here, I've never asked someone for a ride (so even my own sister snarkily – I know, that's not a word – suggesting to people that I only use her for rides drives me crazy, though not totally surprising given her unconscious habit for putting me down in front of other people as a "joke") and have gotten from points A to B to C either on the Metro or with the push of a button on my Lyft app. The other night I was en route to the Metro to go home from a business dinner when one of my colleagues insisted he give me a ride because it was on his way home, and I tried to refuse because, at this point, I just want to be stubborn and prove people wrong: that I am actually a capable young adult who can figure out how to make her current situation work for her.

Yes, it'd be easier to buy a car. It probably wouldn't be cheaper than my current public transportation/Lyft combination, I can tell you that. I will say that I am a terrible driver, which adds to my desire to not put myself behind a wheel, so really it's just better for the whole city that I'm not driving.

Anyways, I just wanted to say that. And shout out to the handful of friends I have in this city who also don't have cars – y'all give me confidence to say ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ to the non-believers.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

burnt out.

I had about three posts half-written with the intention of having one ready to go for this week, but you'll have to allow me a brief pause this time around.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

stop asking your journalism students to interview working journalists.

Last year, I received an email from a journalism student who had an assignment in one of her classes to interview a working journalist. The email I received explained the assignment briefly, and then a list of 8 questions she had copied and pasted from the professor (I assumed they were copied and pasted because she didn't bother to remove the professor' notes on each question).

No request asking if I was available, no offer to speak by phone – oh, and her assignment was due Tuesday morning. I got this email on a Sunday night.

It's not that I don't like helping young journalists out. What I dislike is being asked to essentially complete an assignment for them. In this case, I wasn't even asked. It felt like a command or an obligation, like an expectation that I would fulfill.

In my career, I've done informational interviews with people, and I helped a student once with one of these interview assignments (it was a student who I knew because she interned at my company, she asked me well in advance for my help, and we spoke by phone). But the more and more I get these requests from students for their classes, the less inclined I've been to do them.

Again, not because I don't want to help, but for other reasons, which include a lack of time and also something that needs to be addressed with journalism instructors everywhere:

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


I've been catching myself every day apologizing for things I don't really need to apologize for: opening a door when someone on the other side is trying to come in, or using the printer when someone else in the office also needs to use it.

It's a natural tendency to say, "I'm sorry" even if you technically don't have anything to be sorry about. I needed to go through that door and don't have X-ray vision. I deserve to use the printer as much as anyone else, and it wasn't like I had cut the queue.

One of the reasons I've been thinking about this lately is because I think some of that tendency to say "I'm sorry" all the time has spilled over into other areas of my life, leading me to apologize for other things: for asserting authority at work when people try to take advantage of my openness; for not bending over backwards 24/7 to be everyone else's cheerleader; for daring to set boundaries and not work all the time; for trying to practice this thing called "self care" people always talk about but I've never felt permitted to do because people always want something from me because of what I do for a living.

It took me awhile to pinpoint this as a problem. Obviously, apologies sometimes are necessary. But apologizing for taking up space in the world, which is what I've been doing the last few years, is a habit I'm trying to break.

Friday, February 3, 2017

some Qs to A.

I've never been private about my blogging, but that apparently seems to strike at people most. "How are you able to be so honest? Aren't you afraid people will read it?"

The answer is both "yes" and "no." Longtime friends will know the constant battle I go through of trying to figure out if I should be writing with an audience in mind or not. More often than not, this blog is a personal diary of babblings and freaking out. (Sometimes I'm told I say something insightful, which is nice.)

I figured I'd answer a few of those questions I get often about this blog, and blogging in general, because I've been terrible at actually having real, human conversations with people these days.

Q: Aren't you afraid of people reading your blog and judging you?
A: Yes, but I'm also afraid of people knowing me in real life and judging me. Or the barista at the coffee shop judging my order. Or the stranger on the subway judging my hat/scarf combo. Truthfully, social media has made it so it's quite easy to judge others without really knowing them or talking much to them. I still get nervous sometimes about hitting "publish" on posts, but I like to think of my blog as a place where I can just be 100% me. If people judge me for it, then OK.

Monday, January 23, 2017

a true story.



January 2nd. TWO SISTERS wait for the elevator to the store. They enter, along with a WOMAN and her SON, and a MAN.

                                                      Happy New Year!

                                                     Oh, Happy New Year!

                                                             (He looks at the sisters)
                                                      Well, not for you two yet!

The sisters exchange a glance.

                                                     ..."Asian New Year," right?

The woman and her son look nervous. The elevator ride to the grocery store feels long.

                                                     Oh.'s still a new

                                                     No! Your new year is later, right? Next month, huh? Mooncake!

                                                             (Laughing nervously)
                                                     Ha, ha...different holiday...but yeah. Lunar New Year is the end of the month.

The elevator doors open.



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

6 beauty favorites of 2016.

This is a bit overdue, considering it's 18 days into the new year and I meant to write this 18 and a half days ago. But after spending the last week or two giving makeup advice to some of my friends (actually, one of my favorite things to chat about!), it reminded me that I need to catch up on my blog drafts...

Also, who doesn't love a good favorites list? I've always struggled at the end of each year to do my annual round-up, but I think I'd like to sprinkle more of these throughout my blog (which will help with that goal I've made of creating weekly content...more on that later).

These aren't necessarily all new products that came out in 2016, just new to my favorites/routine. (Also, none of this is sponsored – I wish!)

1. Tarteist Creamy Matte Lip Paint by tarte

Sunday, January 15, 2017

soundtrack to my life.

I've missed doing lists, so when I came across this "soundtrack to my life" tag, I couldn't resist.

1. Song you listen to when you're happy? "Rainbow Veins" by Owl City

It's a shame "Maybe I'm Dreaming" isn't on Spotify because it's the album that introduced me to Adam Young, though I don't even remember how I came across it in the first place. It's just such a cheerful mix of songs, and "Rainbow Veins" is maybe the cheeriest of all the tracks.

(Fun fact: I interviewed him back in 2011 when "All Things Bright and Beautiful" came out and asked him about some of his more nonsensical lyrics, and he said he liked to write what made him smile.)

2. Song you listen to when you're sad? "Best Day Of My Life" by American Authors

I don't really like listening to sad songs when I'm already feeling sad. But I stumbled across the Oh, What A Life album while searching for another song two years ago, and it was the album that oddly got me through the death of a close friend. I don't know why, but from start to finish, it just...fixed things.

Monday, January 9, 2017

in pursuit of joy.

When I first moved to New York, finding an apartment as soon as possible was an absolute necessity. I was couchsurfing and had no family or close friends in the city, and an internship looming in the not-too-distant future. I just needed an apartment to put my suitcases until I could feel more "settled" and really think about making a home here.

I was 22, broke, and had no real concept of what living in New York City was like. I had looked at maps, but I'd never really been in New York before, so I had no idea what to expect. I ended up finding a place in Harlem – and now, at 27 going on 28, I'm cleaning out this apartment I've lived in for 5 years and I'm honestly so happy at how this journey has gone.

It's been really tough to tell people I'm leaving New York. The reaction I've gotten from people has generally been something along the lines of: "Awww," but that's been bothering me because I don't want to feel sad about it. I'm glad I moved to New York when I did, even though I'm glad to be leaving it too.