Uncategorized · wrap up

September 2018 Wrap Up

September was a relatively normal month for me. I’ve been trying to do this thing where I try not to let my social anxiety dictate my life. Not until I really analyzed myself in September did I notice how many of my behaviors (touching my hair incessantly, going on my phone, looking down) in social situations helped me avoid talking to people when really it’s not as bad as I made it out to be in my head.   I mentioned in my August wrap up that I wanted to live a more meaningful life. So I started forcing myself to initiate conversations and my theory is that by exposing myself more to different social situations I can start to become more myself wherever I go. It’s quite the difficult journey as I’ve had these habits for about 20 years of my life. In the meantime, here are some fun things I did.

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iSno cafe – shaved snow with brownies, chocolate chips, and whipped cream
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Patch Coffee – the usual hipster coffee shop but I liked this one’s airy atmosphere and travel pictures on the wall

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I promise my next post will not contain Cha for Tea
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Happy Hour!
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My boyfriend got a pillowpet bear. His name is Lenny.

 

Books

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The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (4.5/5) – I reread the Winner’s Curse trilogy this year and I am still so amazed at this series. I did an entire review on it in my previous post here.

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Sadie by Courtney Summers (3.75/5) – Sadie is a YA crime thriller about Sadie who is out to kill her sister’s murderer. It alternates chapters between Sadie’s point of view and that of a journalist, West McCray who makes a podcast chronicling his investigation into Sadie’s whereabouts. For a crime thriller, I really liked this one and I thought the complicated relationship portrayed between Sadie’s mother, Sadie, and her sister Mattie was ambiguous and consequently fascinating.  Ironically, Sadie paints her neglectful and drug abusive mother in the best light to Mattie wanting to give her normal childhood, who, in turn, sees Sadie in a harsher light. Sadie is an awesome protagonist to follow in the first person. First person is written a lot in YA and I often wonder why because a lot of the perspectives offered nothing unique or nuanced but Sadie remains brutal and mysterious even though we are in her head. I thought the accompanying podcast to this book where you can follow along on the podcast was very ingenious and realistic. I just wish the book had a little bit more to it. Despite the good exploration of their relationships, I wish I knew more about Sadie’s past because it was so interesting. I also wish I knew more about the murderer too, he became just another murderer to me. Also, for reasons I can’t explain, this book lacked a certain tension to it.

Movies

Memento (A-) – Memento is about Lenny who is unable to form new memories whichImage result for memento makes it difficult when the movie revolves around him trying to find his wife’s murderer. When I found out this was a Christopher Nolan movie, I went into it with certain expectations since I had now seen Inception, Interstellar, Batman and now this movie. And as expected, you are left in the dark about basically everything which is actually fitting for this movie as the main character doesn’t remember anything about what he just experienced and the movie starts at its ending and meets in the middle. You will get more confused as Lenny tattoos more information to his body with the same ambiguous people appearing in his life again and people chasing him. This one is not as grand as the other movies in terms of CGI and worldbuilding. It definitely has more of a thriller aspect to it and once again that ending is left open for interpretation.

Image result for princess diaries 1 and 2Princess Diaries 1 and 2 (B) – Whenever anyone feels doubtful about who they are or whether they’re enough, they need a dose of Princess Diaries. Aside from being utterly charming and warm with a cast of lovable characters (my favorite of which is Mia’s grandmother, proper but sassy Julie Andrews), PD shows how Mia, a girl who thought she was an insecure outcast, found the princess inside herself. As a side note, I am always so delighted at the ending of PD 2. To me, it is one of the most feminist endings of any rom com I’ve seen.

TV

Insecure (A) – Insecure continues to be such a delightful comedy show. It’s definitely aRelated image show made for millennials. In this season we learn more about Issa’s childhood and we finally see her recognize her mistakes and try to fix them but really come into her own. Of course, as per Insecure, it’s filled with drama and relationship twists. The dynamics between her and Molly are as solid as ever. The Coachella episode was my favorite of the season as Issa and her friends grapple with the fact that they are growing apart.

Image result for emma approvedEmma Approved Season 1 (B)– I rewatched Emma Approved because as I am writing this Season 2 is already out!! It was such a wonderful shock when I found it was coming back because Season 1 was such a huge part of my life 5 years ago when it first came out. I was still in my sophomore year of college. I remember rushing to the library after my dreaded physics class and hurriedly finding a computer and putting headphones on to enjoy the next short but sweet episode. It was definitely one of the few bright spots in my otherwise dreary sophomore year. Though upon rewatch I found the plot to be lacking compared to the nuanced commentary and wit of the book, I definitely needed Emma’s stalwart optimism and high confidence in September.

Reality showsLove Island is only the start of more bad reality TV shows I’ve started watching except for British bake off (which is so charming). I’ve since started watching Married at First Sight. It ends up being more funny than anything since I can’t take any of them seriously.Image result for killing eve

Killing Eve – It’s been said a thousand times but I just cannot get behind watching a crime show and this one did not break that streak. Though objectively this is a great show about a female assassin (never gets shown on TV) and a female detective to boot, I need to be just in the right mood to watch crime! I watched 3 episodes before I stopped but for any crime junkies out there, I wouldn’t miss this one. It’s filled with some funny side characters and the potential for deeper psychological and violent reveals.

Games

Clash Royale

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I was back to playing this game because I just liked the gameplay and I found more interest in making new decks. But alas I got frustrated with it and stopped playing it although I know it is a game I’ll come back to eventually.

Music

Yellow by Coldplay, remade by Katherine Ho – I saw Crazy Rick Asians in August and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack. I really like the rendition of Coldplay’s Yellow. Fun fact: Coldplay originally did not want the song to be played since it had racist connotations but the director sent a heartfelt letter saying this was the song that made him comfortable in his Asian skin for the first time and Coldplay approved it.

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Nobody Compares to You by Gryffin – This song was on repeat when I was driving to pick up my boyfriend from LAX airport. It’s got that airy but upbeat tone that I always gravitate to in a song.

Makeup

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Tarte Microliner

I have found my holy grail liner. I thought it was the Kat Von D liner but that one, after I’ve used it in its entirety, I’ve noticed it actually doesn’t last that long, it’s not that pigmented and it’s actually harder to take off than this liner. The great thing about the Kat Von D liner was its tip’s precision. This one is just as precise. It’s amazingly pigmented. I only need to put one line on if needed. It also comes off very fluidly and it won’t come off in crusty pieces. You can make any eyeliner shape you want with it.

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Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized · wrap up

August 2018 Wrap Up

personal

August 2018 is the year I realize my own mortality. How quickly time moves. I know this because I feel this sense of urgency, that I must accomplish things now before I lose the time and opportunity to do so. Feeling this urgency also helped me realize that I can take small steps but maybe bigger steps towards my goals will be better. As is happening more often than not now, I am feeling anxious about not reaching my dreams. I always thought things would work out one way or the other but now I realize I must really work towards them and make my dreams into goals. Speaking of goals, August is now that time of year that everyone goes back to school. This gives me anxiety that I’m not in school yet. Although I know my time will come, my anxiety comes in waves and questions start to wash over me. Are they reading my application? I tried my best, but maybe I should have tried harder? How can I possible compare to the thousands of applicants that apply? The good thing about this anxiety is that it gives me the motivation to be productive and to be motivated towards my goals, personal and professional. Because of this, I am trying to give 100% to everything I care about whether it is more to my hobbies and learning more for the sake of learning or whether it is cooking or scrapbooking or learning how to store photos. I hope I can keep this streak going.

One of the biggest highlights of my August was going to Disneyland!! I have missed this IMG-0827place so freaking much! I hadn’t been back in 3 years and let me tell you a lot has happened within those 3 years, so I was excited to see how I viewed Disneyland again. I went on the “new” Incredicoaster and the “new” Guardians of the Galaxy ride. I went on the not so great Monsters Inc ride (why couldn’t they have made a Tangled one??). Also, how could I forget the famous and classic Mickey beignets, or my old favorite Pizza Planet, which has some new pasta combinations, or my new favorite, the Mint Julep–a mint lemonadey drink–at New Orleans Cafe.

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Ratatouille Postcard from Downtown Disney

Disneyland will always hold special memories for me. I’ve gone to Disneyland with the most important people that have been or are in my life. It’s always so fascinating to see what a different experience Disneyland is with each and every one of them. Sometimes I get swept up in every ride possible. Other times, I watch parades and animation academy and the other times like this, I really get to savor the food. It’s why I’m always excited to go back and I already can’t wait to go back again.

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August also marks the month of my best friend’s birthday. Talking to her while we were eating ice cream, I am struck by how much can change in a year when you’re in mid 20’s. It’s a bittersweet time of rapid change and even greater revelations. My Instagram feed is full of people of who are getting engaged, getting into grad school, and even getting married. I once thought my life would never change and now it’s changing more than ever.

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Rolling Ice Cream @ Rollin Creamery

books1

Image result for my lady's choosing an interactive romance novelMy Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curan (3/5)

I remember loving the Choose Your Own Adventure novels when I was a kid and when I heard there was a romance version, I was so pumped. Yet, the storyline is a little too simplistic for comfort. You literally know how some endings and caricatures are going to go. There’s the nice guy, the Darcy character etc. Also, the one storyline I did with the Darcy-like character suffers from an intense case of hate to instalove with no explanation. But it’s fun to see the different endings. I did end up dying once as a penniless orphan with syphilis so there’s that.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells (3/5)Image result for all systems red

All Systems Red is a Hugo award winning novella about a murder robot who hacks into her scripted programming and can make her own decisions and works for these human clients in exploring a new land but gets caught up in a bigger conspiracy when the other bots start to kill her human. The worldbuilding is amazing, but honestly I felt the characters were kept at arm’s distance and the plot, though suppose to be exciting felt like it was written by an eyewitness’s grandma’s cousin’s second stepsister. Too far removed from the action. The best part was hearing murderbot’s thoughts as she decides how to approach being more of a human than a bot.

1383168The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller (4/5)

The Anatomy of Story is an introduction to writing, well, a story.  It shows you the basics of plot, character, character arc, scene building, and dialogue. I love the way this guide does not make this process seem too simplistic. Normally when I read guides on writing, it’ll say things like make your character relatable, give one or two flaws and then that’s it. But this guide really shows you how to make your story organic. I love reading writing guides even if I’m not too much of a writer yet and that’s because I think these make me a better reader and helps me better analyze story structure critically and actually use specific terms. I’ve even found myself analyzing books, TV, and movies with some of his techniques in the back of my head.

Fence Vol. 1 by CS Pascat (3/5)36064768

16 year old Nicolas Cox wants to the best fencer. Headstrong and determined, he plays a match against the world famous Seiji Katayama and loses. Now he is determined to beat him and gets his chance at King’s Row, an elite fencing academy. Fence is very inspired by sports anime and manga and considering that’s not my thing, this is just ok. I just think the caricatures for these main characters are all the same. There’s that one mysterious guy that the main character wants to beat in game but there’s sexual tension between them and you get the idea. I also wanted to read this because I knew there was going to be a found family aspect but I feel nothing. I just really want more depth to these caricatures besides out of proportion drama and angst and a main character whose external motivation is very cliche and generic.

games

Polytopia

Polytopia is a strategy game where you capture cities and fight other tribes. I love polytopia, the aesthetics are freaking adorable!  It’s so fun and there are endless possibilities for creative gameplay. I love thinking about the maneuvering and seeing how using your resources affects how you play. It’s a completely free mobile game with some in game purchases but it is never at the expense of your gameplay or enjoyment of the game.

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Plants vs Zombies

This mobile game is kind of old but no less entertaining than it was when I first played it years ago. It’s great for the casual gamer and it only took me a week or so to beat the game. The graphics are so cute. It’s not that challenging but challenging enough to keep you persisting through the game.

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music

Sweetener – Ariana Grande

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I’ve been listening to this album nonstop since it came out. It seems as though Ariana Grande is moving away from her pop roots and dipping her toes in more sultry rnb music. My favorites are sweetener, goodnight and go, and pete davidson.

movies

Image result for nice guysThe Nice Guys (B)

What Nice Guys ironically lacks in action sequences, it makes up for in its clever satire and even cleverer tongue-in-cheek dialogue. Ryan Gosling’s character’s daughter steals the show with her razor sharp bluntness. It definitely plays with the action and buddy cop genre. It was a very good time but don’t watch this if you’re in the mood for a mindless action film. It was definitely a lot more than that.

Blue Valentine (B-) Image result for blue valentine

I first was interested in Blue Valentine because I had always mean to, fascinated as I am with the analysis of marriage and watching Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling reminded me of that. Blue Valentine follows a young couple in the bitter throes of their marriage. Though their marriage is tumultuous and full of miscommunication and past hurt, it was not always like this and the movie explores the beginning of their relationship and where it all went wrong. It’s quite a sad tale. We really get to see how love manifests differently in the eyes of each character. Though they see it as love, their definition of love is imperfect and different than the other. The movie makes effective use of its blocking, the characters as mysterious to us as they are to each other.

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The next two movies I will have reviews for in the upcoming weeks. I wanted to mesh them together because oh boy have I got a lot to say. I must say though I am so excited to see more Asian main characters on the silver and big screen.

shows

Image result for disenchantmentDisenchantment (DNF – Netflix)

This show took me by surprise; I wasn’t expecting this level of emotional depth but it is just not my type of humor. Simpsons was never really my type of show so objectively pretty good, but not one I’ll be continuing on with.

30 rock 

The 30 rock binge marathon continues! this Image result for 30 rock season 4show just gets progressively better as it goes on and Seasons 3 and 4 are a testament to that. Although the character of Tracy Jordan really gets on my nerves.

Image result for insecure season 3 posterInsecure Season 3 (Ongoing – HBO)

This comedy is so consistently good!! In this season Issa continues to navigate the throes of work, relationships, and friendships. Season 2 left off on a major change and I’m glad to see that although Issa’s flaws are the same, it is nice to see her navigate new changes and really self reflect. This is one of the few comedies that pays attention not only to the comedy but to its craft. The cinematography really highlights Issa’s isolation and thought processes which is awesome because she is a character who doesn’t really express her emotions easily through dialogue. But it is still fast paced and raunchy and keeps you bingewatching. Also, the music is always phenomenal.

youtube

How I Plan and Organize My Life – Jenn Im

Jenn’s videos always inspire me to be productive and this one was no exception. I love that her advice is not as basic as these productive videos tend to be (just write everything down in your planner! ugh) and it has really inspired me to strive for what I love whether personal or professional  and however simple it may be and paying attention to a long term goal through small steps is so worth it.

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favorites · Uncategorized

Favorite Books/TV Shows of 2017

Sadly, because 2017 was not a great reading year, there weren’t many books that really stuck out to me. I even hesitated making a best of 2017 for books because even the ones I considered my favorites of the year were not the same greatness that my favorites for previous books. But I decided I do want to mention the most memorable of the year. I tried to include a variety of formats that I read. Unlike in previous years, I have not ordered these in any way.

Human Acts by Han Kang

30091914Han Kang is such a daring writer. She experiments with format and writing style and whether or not it is effective is often besides the point. What I feel she always tries to achieve though is capturing the rawest emotion of her characters. I think it works very well here. It is stylistically quite different than her previous work, The Vegetarian. Human Acts is definitely more like one long metaphor but it completely works as she portrays the brutality of the 1980’s rights as an extension of death and life.

 

 

I have a few short forms I would like to celebrate.

  • A Series of Steaks by by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Short story) – A clever scifi story about 3D printing and female friendship.
  • Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station by Caroline M. Yoachim (Short story)- A throwback to Choose Your Own Adventures stories. It, at once, celebrates the format but also pokes fun at it.
  • Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Agozi Adichie (novella) – nothing in this novella is particularly new but the way Adichie crafts her writing about feminism makes you feel as if this should be common sense and her arguments are
  • The Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf (Essay) – I need to read virginia woolf’s other works asap after reading this. This short story is literally about the narrator watching a moth die but the spectrum of feelings you get while reading it is  all encompassing.

We were Feminists Once from Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl: the buying and selling of a 25898263political movement by Andi Zeisler

I’ve read a lot of feminist rhetoric and it’s surprising to find a recent one that I learn so much from. This book ties modern feminism and how it has affected capitalism. This book has been so eye-opening for me and I see how feminism in the modern age can be manipulated for less than wholesome motives.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

35247769You know I like this book because I’ve read it twice..in 1 year. It’s hard to explain why exactly this book and this series is so special to me. On the surface, it wouldn’t seem so, after all it is just a romantic contemporary about a high school girl and her journey through high school and romantic entanglements. But it is just so sincerely heartwarming and fun to read. I love Lara Jean’s little family, Peter, and of course, all the cookies Lara Jean baked.

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios29102896

I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. I have no qualms about coining this book as the best YA book discussing the progression of a toxic relationship. It is subtle and powerful and just has an all around depth to it. It paints everything in greys instead of blacks and whites and it’s such an honest and realistic portrayal of all different types of toxic relationships.

Image result for the language of thornsThe Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

I’m starting to like Leigh Bardugo more and more as a writer. My favorite thing about this collection is how it upends fairy tale traditions and canon. By reversing these traditions, Bardugo really shows the reader how much we have relied on traditional tropes to write our fairy tales and how when you look at these tropes in the light, it might cause you to look at these characters differently than you always have. It is honestly worth a hard copy just because the illustrations inside are so beautiful!

TV Shows

I had much better luck in finding great shows this year. These are my top 5 definitive TV shows of 2017 and I would rewatch all of these in a heartbeat. I thought it would be a little repetitive if I included Superstore because I have a feeling that that show will be here for a while and it will probably on every single one of my favorite TV show lists. But other than that, here are my favorite shows of 2017. These are in order from least favorite to favorite show of 2017

Insecure, Season 2

Comedy|8 episodes|HBO

Image result for Insecure season 2I watch Insecure like I listen to friends gossip. It is so deliciously juicy and enticing in the way that the world of dating can be.  But the great thing about this show is that its so clever about portraying how the different men in Issa’s and Molly’s life reveal who they really are. But it’s not just about that. It’s about their struggles in the workplace and of course, the struggle to find who or what they truly want. Even better is that in the end this show is about Issa’s and Molly’s enduring friendship. It is a completely bingeworthy show.

 

Master of None, Season 2

Comedy|10 episodes|Netflix

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I am so, so impressed with this show above all else to experiment with different storytelling formats. One episode will be an hour long while another will be half an hour. One episode is partly told in subtitles with the main characters not even being present in the episode. One is told like an old Italian movie. There are long pauses without dialogue. This show feels like a meandering but it manages to stay cohesive. It is absolutely brilliant in its discussion of modern dating, workplace harassment, and diversity. I’ve seen and read a lot of media that covers the coming of age of high school to college to post grad people but Master of None shows that a coming of age for the late 20s-30s group can be done so well.

Search Party Seasons 1&2

Dark comedy|20 episodes|TBS

Image result for search partyI love Search Party and it is one of the most unique shows I’ve seen in a long time. Its young 20something characters are very difficult to like and even sympathize but they are great fodders for discussing self entitlement and self obsession as well as the struggle that a lot of 20some year olds struggle with now: the struggle for purpose and meaning in their lives. Don’t take this to mean that this show is a continual philosophical story but these themes are the foundation for a darkly funny and satirical tale. This show is weird. It combines a mystery featuring amateur detectives with a great look at characters that we think we know until they sweep the rug from under our feet to reveal who they truly are. My review for this is coming soon but this is truly a unique, weird little show that deserves so much more hype.

Anne with an E

Drama|7 episodes|Netflix

This was honestly a wonderful gem of a show and I’m so happy it has been renewed for aRelated image second season. This is just one of the few book to TV show adaptations that have so accurately casted the right actors and actresses for their respective characters. I also think it is one of the few book to movie TV adaptations that have stayed so true to the book’s core themes while still adding its own individuality to the show.  The addition of the stable boy, Jerry, was such a delight considering how much humor he brings to the show. This show is somber, melancholic, and aesthetically beautiful but it is full of hope and lightheartedness just like its main character.

 

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Korean drama|16 episodes| MBC

My number one favorite show of the year is Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo. I’m actually Image result for weightlifting fairy kim bok-jooalready thinking of rewatching this next month. It is a beautiful, beautiful drama full of hope and love. I completely adore the lighthearted and vibrant tone of the show. Our main character, Bok Joo, is a charismatic and blunt weightlifter who goes to a college for athletes. She is always a character that you root for and throughout the show you are cheering for her success and the ambitions she has despite the many comedic and cringeworthy situations she finds herself in. Cushioned around this character are two lovely best friends, a well meaning father, some endearing coaches, and a charming and swoonworthy love interest. I especially like this drama for how it upends some traditional korean drama tropes and understands that at its heart, it is a story of a girl who dreams of being the best weightlifter instead of a story of a girl who has a romance. It had me smiling, laughing, and crying the entire way through.

Have a wonderful New Year’s and here’s hoping that 2018 will be full of even better books and TV shows!

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