January 31, 2011

I have lovely friends

Dawn randomly bought me flowers one day



Aren't they pretty? And they're still alive, which is nearly a miracle because I forgot to put them in water for 2 days. It now resides in a Corona beer bottle on my desk in front of my clothes-line board of love. This is because I have no vases at home.

When Ian went to Europe he bought this home for me:


IT IS AN INSULT BUTTON!! It is the best invention ever!! You press the red button and it says things like "YOU HAVE DEPRIVED A VILLAGE OF AN IDIOT"
Which is terribly mean but very funny. There was a period of time when I actually went through all the insults twice.

Okay back to

This is me carrying them:


I am clearly displeased. We also clearly need to get a shoerack for Dawn's shoes. Mine are hidden near the front of the photograph, but I'm just going to pretend the mess of shoes only belongs to Dawn and not me.

Lazybones weekend

This weekend has been such a relaxing one:

(photo from when we were in Central Park over Christmas)

Friday: woke up at 8.10am for an 8am class. Hauled ass over to Evans under 15 minutes. No makeup, scrappy jeans and tatty teeshirt, ponytailed hair, and I told my class that my dream job was to be a "fashion editor." Nice.

Saturday: spent 7h in total in our pursuit of The Boiling Crab. 2h roundtrip drive down to San Jose, 3h (yes, THREE hours) wait to get a table (thank goodness for Target), BUT IT WAS ALL WORTH IT. Pictures of our savagery will be posted once Juju uploads them onto Facebook, but I'll paint a mental image for you now:
- No plates or cutlery
- Clam, crab and prawn shells in the midst of us eating
- Dawn: "OMG I love that I can eat through my trash"

It was epic.

Sunday: Dinner out with the Deutsch 4th floor. They are insane and I love them.
The evidence-

Jupiter's has crazy good pizza. We had 5 appetizers and 4 pizzas. It was incredibly good. There was SHRIMP on our pizza. SHRIMP!!

Possibly the only normal picture of the night. (Oops I think I'm blocking Perry)



This is my favorite picture of all: Natasha's face, Judy's finger &nose, and my imitation of Rebecca's classic C pose that is all over my Photobooth photo album.

(on a side note: Dawn got the Nars Orgasm illuminator as a free sample from Sephora the other day and I tried it on today- isn't it fantastic?? I sparkled like a vampire in the sunlight, but I love the color!!)

CREAM is the latest fad to hit Berkeley. They sell ice-cream sandwiches.

There are always long lines ): But today we braved it. This is Julie in the line:

Julie was my roommate last year (and bunkmate; she slept in the bunk below mine and always rescued my fallen pillows) and I love her dearly :D

I had a chocolate chip and turtle (chocolate with caramel) cookie with soy mint and chip and it was yum. I miss living with these people- we saw each other ALL the time last year, even when it got busy in the spring and the only opportunity for interaction was in the bathroom (we had co-ed bathrooms...I'm glad those terrible days are over) They made my freshman year so much fun and made me feel like I had a family to return home to after class. Tonight just made me miss the times in DE 411 so much!!

The week ahead AWAITS! Info sessions and case workshops every night Monday-Thursday. Intimidating but exciting.
Also, as a side note, I think Berkeley has the loveliest, most helpful professors in the world. They are so incredibly generous and passionate and interacting with them everyday just reaffirms my love for Cal and my belief that coming here (and getting into so much debt) was worth it.

January 27, 2011

Transcendent

Ezra Pound is freaking amazing!!!

All the while they were talking the new morality
Her eyes explored me.
And when I arose to go
Her fingers were like the tissue
of a Japanese paper napkin.

AAAGGHHHH isn't it absolutely gorgeous!! The book by Altieri that I'm reading now encapsulates what I feel about that poem,
"The imagination of what this lady offers is inseparable from touch--text becomes texture."
I love how you can feel the lady's fingers on your skin, the absolute transcendent LUMINOSITY of feeling you get; the entire 2nd chapter of Altieri talks about how Pound was seeking to transform poetry from words on a page to words that convey movement and action, and perceptions that are beyond what you read on a page, and that poem just does it for me.

In other news:
- Started my first day of my internship, and I love it. I must take pictures of the hilarious wall decals (teaser: the word "pissed" appears above the door to the Executive Director's office) and the AMAZING stamp machine that funnels envelops through this tubular thing, seals your envelop, weighs it, stamps it, and spits it out at the other end. Oh technology, you never cease to amaze me.
- Had a good time tonight.
- D is passed out on my bed DIAGONALLY. I have tried to wake him up approx. 8 times tonight but have failed 8 times. Not a good track record.
- I have an entire single spaced page to write about the progression of one word in Twelfth Night. So far I have written 1/6th of the page and it is absolute rubbish.
):

January 25, 2011

Social media has permeated even the fashion world!!

Okay I shouldn't be surprised, seeing as everyone and their mothers have Facebook (yes, my mother included), but it totally threw me for a loop when I found out that Bergdorf Goodman, DKNY, and Oscar de la Renta have Twitter accounts.

I kid you not. I found this out from Business of Fashion, which is one of my favorite blogs to read.

There are many reasons why:
1. Thematically, it connects two of my favorite things in the world, fashion and making money. The latter of course is to afford the former. Haha, kidding obviously. I think it's rare that one platform is so devoted to describing just the business end of fashion (even WWD has commentary about the collections) and BOF condenses all the business news about fashion in one handy dandy Daily Digest. Did you know that J Crew is being bought out (and that Urban Outfitters made a bid but it was too low)? And that the founder of Zara is stepping down (I love Zara!!)? I didn't, until I read BOF.
2. They have great interviews. One recent one they have is with Susie Bubble, one of my favorite British fashion blogs, but the ones I love the most is a series they have called CEO Talk, where they've interviewed CEOs from firms/stores such as The OutNet.com (Net-a-Porter's online outlet store), Loewe, and Harrods. The interviews are business-focused, in-depth, and are extremely interesting to read (for me at least, I love this stuff)
3. They have great fashion exclusives, and I love the style of writing on BOF. Even if the exclusives may be on arguably shallow and frivolous subject matter (not that I personally feel this way, but some people who value computer science over fashion might), the writing is never that way and is both accessible and smart at the same time. (Kind of how I feel Vogue's writing is--I know many people think of Vogue as a shallow fashion magazine, but I really like how Vogue's articles are not filler fluff for their photographs, but actually explore interesting issues in an intelligent way).

But back to the Twitter- I think it's really interesting how these 3 fashion powerhouses are all using social media to market in a very untraditional way. I feel like marketing, and especially fashion marketing, is really about showcasing a lifestyle, and these companies are using Twitter to do that. Their Twitter accounts sound like the lifestyle of a very hip 20-something WEARING DKNY/ OSCAR/ STUFF FROM BERGDORF and just basically being awesome at life. Bergdorf also has this #BGTutorial thing where they basically use products that are sold at Bergdorf counters and Twitter a makeup tutorial (the one I read, which also comprise their most recent Tweets, was on putting on different Ellis products with tips for a flawless application). I am blown away because fashion is traditionally a super cloistered industry with zero transparency (they need to keep all their sekrets in their big runway hair), PLUS Bergdorf and Oscar aren't exactly new and young, so it's refreshing to find that they're using Twitter to appeal to a different audience than they traditionally attract. (Okay actually, I'm not sure about Bergdorf, but I'm pretty sure no regular 20 year old can afford -or have a place to wear- one of Oscar de la Renta's gorgeous gowns)
I don't even have a Twitter account. This is how hip they are (or how unhip I am)!!

Follow them on Twitter here: DKNY, Bergdorf Goodman, Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta also has a Tumblr. I actually like reading the Oscar Tumblr a lot more because I'll be honest, I really don't get Twitter, and I hate the Retweeting and hash signs (#) nonsense. Here is a screen shot of Oscar's Tumblr page as of an hour ago:



Isn't it pretty? I love the simplicity of the header, the ink and marker drawing, and just the overall chicness of the design. They blog pictures from backstage, runway show pictures, celebrities who have worn Oscar on the red carpet, Oscar features in magazines and on websites, and, my favorite, old ad campaign pictures:

Oscar de la Renta, Spring 1999

Isn't that absolutely gorgeous??

I think all of it--Tumblr, Twitter--all contribute to a greater richness of understanding about the brand and the lifestyle they represent. We've been learning in Marketing that the best way to become a market leader is not through market share, but through customer loyalty, and that is built upon increasing (perceived) customer value. I think by giving poor (I mean this in the literal financial sense of the word as well) mortals like myself unprecedented access to this rarefied world, Oscar de la Renta has earned my glowing enthusiasm for the brand! Just because I feel like they've given me an all-access pass and I'm thus super special. I mean, not that it really matters, because I'll probably never be able to afford a Oscar de la Renta gown or ever have occasion to wear it, which makes me wonder how effective this is in reaching their attractive customers, i.e. the people who actually purchase.

Whatever the case, this is how it should be done, Louis Vuitton and Chanel!! Not that working in LV was particularly glamorous or aspirational...haha.

Today I also carried 10 pounds of textbooks to class all day. I love you, Riverside Shakespeare and Modernism: An Anthology. You will give me very defined shoulders and arms by the end of the semester.

Edit: Theory also has a pretty interesting Twitter!

January 24, 2011

Things that I really like right now

1. Hair twists

Whitney Eve show, source unknown

2. Slouchy sweaters with full skirts

Dries van Noten Fall 2010:
I tried to mimic this look all fall and I think I finally found the perfect skirt. Usually I like waisted skirts, but I bought a purple skirt from Old Navy (for $4. I smirk.) that sits on my hip and I'm going to try duping this look again because it's one of my favourites.



Chloe backstage, source and season unknown


The Sartorialist: I love the colors!! And the pleatedness of her skirt. And her umbrella.


Creatures of Comfort, Spring 2011. I love the colours. And long, full skirts.

When I spent inordinate amounts of time in Zara (I walked into Zara in Georgetown and walked out 15 minutes later with the perfect pair of slouchy, tapered grey pants, striped boatneck top, and high waisted black shorts. FIFTEEN MINUTES!! And I tried them on.), I realized that there was a lot of full, pleated, longer length skirts. Which made me really happy because I like longer skirts (when I wear short skirts I look like a skank because I show too much leg)... and I like dressing ladylike okay! Even though I am hopelessly NOT ladylike (need to learn how not to slouch and to gliiiiiidddeee while walking), I still secretly covet my mum's pearls and like going for tea. (I asked an American friend out for tea once, and she gave me this wtf stare.)

3. MAKEUP!
I've been reading too many makeup blogs ): Today I went out and bought 2 eyeshadow trios (for a total of $7... haha) And they've been really fun to play with, even though I have tiny Asian eyes. Still waiting for my e.l.f. stuff to come though, it's super annoying because I am really running out of blush (oh MAC mineralize in brunette sample...you were the best bronzer/ blush ever and I still search for you everytime I go to MAC/COO) so I get tempted to buy blush everytime I go to Walgreens even though I KNOW I have new blush coming soon.

4. Trying new things
Dawn convinced me to go to a salsa decal today
(I'll do another post on Cal's decals one day, I think it's a super cool concept and they have really hilarious ones this semester e.g. soccer and Jersey Shore; I say soccer is hilarious because there are so many Singaporeans in that class seizing the opportunity to fangirl and get graded on it.)
We're struggling to get into the class because there are 24 spaces and 130 applicants (oh Cal and impacted classes, what's new...) BUT I'm going for the free salsa beginner's lesson tomorrow with Jenna. This scares me because I have two right feet (both like to lead) and 0 balance, but I have decided that this year is the year of doing scary things (like going for networking sessions) AND SO salsa shall be one of them!!

January 23, 2011

Learning to be less sensitive

I just read something on Facebook that made me really upset and filled me with this scary self-loathing, but also a loathing of someone else (which may be the scariest of all). I don't think that one's ever felt more self-loathing than when one is not interesting/ amazing/ special enough to keep the interest or friendship of someone else.

(and somehow this always happens to me, so what does that say about my personality?? Okay I'm going to read some Ezra Pound; words will really never fail you or let you down, plus they never care if you're smart enough or funny enough or interesting enough because words. don't. care.)

A poem by Boris Pasternak that I really like (which is strange, because usually I think rhyming poems are trite and annoying, but not this one!):

In everything I want to grasp
The essence underneath the nerve,
In work and on my chosen path
The languor that my heartstrings serve.

The essence of the days long past,
What are their purpose and design?
Which principles, which roots will last,
What core within the ball of twine?

And all the while to hold this string
Of life’s events and sundry fates,
To live, to love, to feel, to think,
To enter new and uncrossed gates.

If I could but elucidate
My passion whole or just in part,
Then I’d describe in lines of eight
What sparks reside within my heart.

Outlaws and sins would be my stars,
Pursuits and flights their lone resort,
And happenstance beguiled by scars
Would hasten palms and elbows forth.

Its law I would uncover bare
And show its source, its wellspring pure,
Its name I would repeat and wear
Upon my sleeve and soul demure.

And verse would grow in gardens mine,
A quiv’ring vein in every patch,
And there would bloom a linden line
Of single file and common back.

This verse would bear a rosy scent
And breaths of mint, and meadowed gaps,
And hay and sedge would too be lent
To scenes beneath my thunder claps.

So did Chopin infuse his staves
With wondrous life in greenest green,
Etudes of parks, of groves, of graves,
Estates which lived behind his sheen.

Both pain and joyous play arise
In all victories achieved,
A bowstring taut before our eyes,
Released in triumph unretrieved.

Random art

I think having grown up in Singapore gives you this really weird mentality and view of the world. Besides the fact that public education in Singapore, unlike many parts of the world and sadly including Berkeley, is a super well-funded, excellent system (and so we as Singaporeans take good public education for granted and whine about having to study so hard at school- the alternative is not being challenged academically or extracurricularly, or not being able to participate in international competitions, etc, so I will never again whine about how hard the education system in Singapore is), we also take for granted that streets will be clean and safe and pretty all the time. When I go for lectures and realize that there is OLD GUM under the desk, it is seriously the most uncomfortable and disgusting knowledge in the world!! It's like- I can't put anything on my lap (because the top of it may touch the old gum), when I flip the desk back down, I can't let it touch ANYTHING of mine, I have to cross my legs super carefully in case the gum gets on my jeans etc. So when I read of this guy who actually PAINTS old dried gum (which is, btw, STUCK ON THE FLOOR), my first reaction was: EWWWWW.

But then it became: wow okay that's quite cool, even though it's still pretty gross.

Ben Wilson transforms gum stuck on the floors of London into art by actually painting the old gum stuck on the floor. According to Kuriositas:

"First he finds a piece of gum (not too hard in London) which is obviously old and has little moisture left inside it. He heats it up with a burner and then lacquers it, which hardens the gum and creates a suitable surface for his acrylic paint. His special treatment ensures that the gum and paint come together in a way which gives his art something approaching permanent street presence."

These are my favorites!!


Isn't this crazy? (picture for size proportion comparison). I can't imagine bending over that teensy tiny canvas for hours on end to create art that not very many people would notice/ care about. But maybe that's what art's about? The sole purpose is just to create and put your work out there in the hopes that someone will see it and be touched by it. I know if I saw this on a sullen, rainy London day I would be super excited and happy...





London people, go look out for this on the floor!!

This reminds me of so much interesting art, like when we were at MoMA in New York over winter break and I kept spotting these tiny scrawled messages around exhibits:





Which was super nice and provided a nice counterpoint to the famous works of art that were being displayed. Especially since it was winter
(and FREEZING: we were in New York during the cold blizzardy days. The night before we were supposed to leave for Washington D.C., we went to watch Billy Elliot on Broadway and emerged to an EMBANKMENT of snow. We trudged home nearly bent over at a 90 degree angle because the wind was gusting snow horizontally at our faces and the wind chill was 7 degrees, which means that any exposed area of skin would get frostbite within 20 minutes. Insert space for mildly horrified silence.)
But anyway, the last one really got me envisioning spring and thinking about how gorgeous Berkeley's trees would look in the spring, when the tree beside Crossroads (the dining hall that I frequented all freshman year) would be in full, yummy white bloominess and it made the cold slightly more cheerful.

I think guerilla art is so interesting!! There's so much of this going around now and I like how art has become a much larger democratizing force. Like you don't have to be hanging in the Louvre or be Italian to be considered an artist. Some people seriously hate Duchamp but I am really enjoying this new public ownership of art, like that you don't have to be in art school to be an artist, and that you can use art to make the world better and not just to hang in some white walled museum where you have to pay an entrance fee to view it (I mean, of course there's space for that, but I like that we're moving away from that into a more democratic medium of expression)

I think that's why, out of all my friends, when yarnbombing started happening in Berkeley I got super excited! (Nobody else really cared. Sigh.) Because suddenly the lamp posts around Berkeley were getting gussied up with pretty yarn!
(All images from the Streetcolor blog)


Outside the Ferry Terminal Building in San Francisco; isn't it adorable? I like all the pompoms. I was really lucky to see this because I don't think it's there anymore and I hardly ever go to that part of SF! (though I should- I haven't had Boudin's in super long, i.e. THE best New England clam chowder outside of New England)


Outside Sproul Hall, along Bancroft (saw this last semester on my way to school! Blue and gold represent!!) But after it started raining (I think we had one tiny storm last semester, but nothing compared to the ridiculous storm that we got Fall freshman year or the constant rain all last spring), it started looking a little sad and I think it eventually got taken down ):


Outside Venus on Shattuck, where we had brunch today! I had a super delicious scramble and had the BEST MUFFIN OF ALL TIME. Seriously, it was so good. Usually I hate muffins because they are dense and hard, but the Venus muffin was SO GOOD, all moist and fruity and crispy on the outside!! D had realllyyyy good stuffed french toast with poached pears. Yumm, makes up for not being able to get a table at La Note (my other #1 top brunch place, even though my brother the neanderthal hated it when we went there on his last day in Berkeley).
But I didn't get to see it today, I think it's been taken down already ):

One of my dreams for CREATE is that we'll be able to start doing fun community art projects like these to make Berkeley a prettier place to live in, or remind Cal students that life really is full of beauty even if you do have to search a little harder to find it (especially during midterm season...) I think Singapore has a movement like this too, where an anonymous guy/girl puts up postit notes around random places in Singapore with cute graphics and slogans, which I think is super sweet!

Yay I like art. I wish I could be a History of Art major AND a business major (still crossing fingers on this though) AND an English major. Actually...since I'll be doing 3.5 years, I may be able to squeeze in a HA minor????? That's only 2 more classes a semester!! omg the world has opened up so much with one more extra semester, now I think I can even take French!!!!!

January 22, 2011

Black Swan and Ezra Pound

Black Swan made me remember what it was like to be in secondary school, a little. Or maybe what it felt like to be in last semester. The isolation of a drive for perfection, the trappings of innocence, the physicality of the brutality to Nina really affected me. Not on a personal level, but as a human watching another human break down, and how the physical body and sex played such a large role in it. The competitive drive for perfection and success even as people snap at your heels waiting for you to fall--who hasn't worried about that or had nightmares about that? (Okay, maybe more balanced people. Hmm.) Beyond all the trappings of the psychological thriller (the mirrors, sudden turning off of lights, the pervasive sense of wtf is going on??), the inner breakdown of Nina just really affected me because the themes that she went through are so universal. I want to be the perfect student, the perfect job candidate, the perfect daughter/ friend/ girlfriend/ family member, but at what cost? Will I one day wake up and realize that I've pushed myself too far and killed myself even without knowing?

Yet on the other hand the other thing that keeps me up at night is NOT pushing myself enough. Not doing all that I can, not using my time as best as I can. Thinking back about last year, I really felt that I didn't push myself non-academically as hard as I could have in the Spring, and totally over-compensated in the Fall. I think I had a lot of mini-Nina days when I would be so stressed about finishing everything on my to-do list to the point where I literally couldn't breathe because I was so nervous. At the same time it was so very isolating because I was constantly going at it alone and my goal this semester is to be committed to building better relationships with those around me. And it's true--perfection comes with isolation, the pursuit of perfection is isolating, yet we still want to be perfect.

It was very difficult watching Black Swan. The acting was brilliant and the cinematography was very well-crafted, and that just added to the believability of the whole story (D is convinced that Dawn is secretly a crazy ballerina who will break our mirrors and stab me in the face...)

Came back to find that I finally received my last English book, which means that I now have absolutely no excuse to get on top of readings. Right now I'm reading Ezra Pound's ABC of Reading:

And Ezra Pound is HILARIOUS. That was an example of the way that Pound writes. I don't really agree with some of what he says, especially about the literary canon, but I think that's mainly because of History of Art and that professor's views on the conversation that goes on between art works and thus what makes this particular piece of art "important" (echoed in last semester's 180), and I definitely don't agree with the way he didactically puts down what he determines as the "best" poems to read, like of all time because I mean yeah, maybe for Petrach it would be easy to determine everyone else who wrote Petrachian sonnets to be copycats, but it's really difficult to say that about the modernist poets? I think that some poems are complete rubbish (I...really do not get some modernist poets, and I'm okay with admitting that it is MY fault. I lack the capacity to understand some of them; I also lack the capacity to appreciate Wordsworth's "piping down the valleys wide")
But anyway, my favourite quote from the reading so far is this:

"One has to divide the readers who want to be experts from those who do not, and divide, as it were, those who want to see the world from those who merely want to know WHAT PART OF IT THEY LIVE IN.
When it comes to the question of poetry, a great many people don't even want to know that their own country does not occupy ALL the available surface of the planet. The idea seems in some way to insult them."

I think when I read I tend to start looking out for familiarizing clues. I think that's why I was so affected by White Noise last semester (I had nightmares about dying and I would wake up crying because I was so scared. I freaked out internally for approximately three weeks, and when I reread White Noise for finals, I finally realized why I was so afraid for that period of time in the semester. That novel seriously got to me, I don't even know why), because so much of what they thought of, like Babette wanting to die before Jack, was so parallel to what I think of sometimes. And everytime I read a novel /poem, I tend to look out for all the comfortingly familiar hallmarks of what I like. Guess according to Pound that means that I'm a terrible reader ): I love the last part of that quote because it is so true and so funny. But also somewhat tragic, because it doesn't just apply to the question of poetry, I think it applies a lot to the values that people hold and are important to them.

After not writing for super long, writing seems so stilted now!! ): Okay I'm desperately hungry and so I am going to eat myself. BRB.

January 21, 2011

Re-do

Huh. Finally decided on blogger because the template's easier to navigate (Wordpress is too confusing for little old me). Also because blogger has such good secondary school memories!! Which could be a good thing (spritely youthfulness and over-brimming enthusiasm) or a bad thing (woefully stupid and immature).

So, re-do!
So I decided to do this because I felt like I didn't have a central depository of all my thoughts/ Feelings (capitalized because of the crazy person I have become in college) during these tumultous (and yes most exciting) years. One of my resolutions was to write more frequently--I feel like I've been hiding behind to-do lists and technical language (chiasmus is currently my pet favourite), but also to have a place to store all my Facebook photos just in case Facebook dies one day (!) and as an inspiration board for everything that makes me happy.

Rilke is one of my favourite poets and this is why:

Just as the winged energy of delight
carried you over many chasms early on,
now raise the daringly imagined arch
holding up the astounding bridges.

Miracle doesn’t lie only in the amazing
living through and defeat of danger;
miracles become miracles in the clear
achievement that is earned.

To work with things is not hubris
when building the association beyond words;
denser and denser the pattern becomes-
being carried along is not enough.

Take your well-disciplined strengths
and stretch them between two
opposing poles. Because inside human beings
is where God learns.

--

I want to get inside human beings this year: inside myself as I start recruiting for internships and jobs and experience college in all its tumultous nonsense, inside communities as I meet, serve and get to know them, inside a larger collective human voice that resonates within all of us, in poetry and in music and in conversation. There are so many things I want to do and so many things I want to achieve with my life, and sometimes I feel like there's no way I can ever achieve those things because I am so uneducated, so lost, so illogical; the destination seems overwhelmingly distant but "miracles are miracles in the clear/ achievement that is earned" and I'm going to put myself out there this semester/ year and see where that takes me.

Hello

I am indecisive (I can't decide...)