January 31, 2012

Poem: Tonight No Poetry will Serve, by Adrienne Rich

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve
Adrienne Rich

Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon's eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force-feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb disgraced goes on doing

now diagram the sentence

Today, so many happy things:
1. We discussed Saussure in Literary Theory. Words cannot express how much my brain loves this class- grappling with all these crazy concepts and feeling just a little out of my depth and like the meanings of ideas and words are just a little out of reach. I think this is what consultants call "stretch"
2. Sitting in my S3 meeting and being so very excited about this project. Today we did up a team contract and one of my team mates talked about making a commitment to each other to "be present and be prepared," which I think is one of the most well-put statements I've heard about team dynamics and meetings. It is so awful to be a listless meeting where no one really contributes, and it is so refreshing to be in a team which is so committed to this endeavour and providing a kick-ass deliverable.
3. It is so easy to make me happy- I'm discovering some really good music on Spotify radio, which I will be sharing on a revival of Thursday Music!
I feel like the happy list is very at odds with the poem, but that was how I felt last night, when I was extremely upset about something. Thank God for friends who care, and who walk you through tangled messes of feelings.

January 30, 2012

Partners & Spade

So one of the things that I've found out I enjoy about recruiting (yes, I am over my mopey stage and into my finally enjoying the process stage) is that it really forces you to get off your butt and focus energies on doing what you're passionate about. I am the LAZIEST person in the world if not pushed to do stuff, and recruiting has definitely pushed me to do things that I usually never do- like asking people for help, cold-emailing people for coffee chats, even researching extensively on the things I am interested in (I think it's an Asian phenomenon not to want to intrude on people. Which I always feel like I am when I ask someone out for coffee.) But in the process I have had so many awesome conversations, yummy meals, and been able to reconnect with friends and so I'm actually quite glad for recruiting!

Another thing is just research into firms I like/ branding and marketing things (which I am super interested in, but usually never have the time to do sustained research into). One firm that I've always admired and admire even more now that I've dug a little into their portfolio is storefront/ studio Partners & Spade:

Their client list includes kate spade new york, J Crew, Jack Spade; they also did the page layout rebranding for Lucky Magazine. They've perfected the art of the (veering on hipster) casual-cool aesthetic- clearly reflected in their client list. I love it. The old men with the model airplanes for Jack Spade- perfection. Totally captures the spirit of Jack Spade.

All images from the Partners & Spade website.

January 27, 2012

Adorable illustrations

How charming are these illustrations from French illustrator Genevieve Godbout! Yes, we share the same name. Yes, she is way more talented than me. Yes, that makes me sad.

No, not really. These girls are just way too precious :)

All images from her blog, Rose-a-Petits-Pois.

January 26, 2012

Stern note to self

I read over my last post, and realized how terribly whiny I sounded. I WILL CEASE THIS AT ONCE. How I shall do so is by reminding myself how much I have to be happy about:
01. I am involved in organizations that I care deeply about. I do work that I believe impacts the world in a meaningful way. Today we had an info session for CREATE, and even though really few people showed up, it's fine. Even if we touched ONE person, even if our mission makes an impact on one person, that person is going to go into an afterschool classroom and be an amazing arts teacher. How can I sit around and be sorry for myself for answering tons of email when all the email indicates interest and community support for the cause I believe so strongly in?
02. I am taking classes that I LOVE. I've never actually read the entire Bible cover to cover, but I think I actually might this semester. I'm reading the works of really smart people and challenging myself so thoroughly, and this is EVERYTHING I came to college for- I can literally feel my brain expand with knowledge when I sit in class. Today I read some Russian Formalist theory and the book of Genesis. Will I EVER AGAIN have the opportunity to say such a pretentious sentence??
03. I am surrounded by people who love me. I just Skyped my dad (as usual I spent about 10 minutes looking at his ceiling) illegally while he was at work, and then he Whatsapped me 2 purple hearts.
I'm not going to talk about recruiting anymore. I'm banning all recruiting talk from this blog and from MY LIFE. I REFUSE to be stressed by this, or upset when things don't go my way, or upset at myself for not being enough. I am a student. I am a daughter. I am a granddaughter. That should be enough. That IS enough.

January 25, 2012

European Adventures: Barcelona

Ugh, winter break seems like it happened an age ago. I'm out of Marks and Spencer's ): and school/ recruiting is starting to get to me. I'm starting to suspect that the most challenging thing about recruiting isn't showing up at events and twirling your hair or memorizing frameworks to solve imaginary problems, but just merely getting through the entire shebang without losing that enthusiasm, excitement, and eagerness for the firms that were so interesting at the beginning of the process. Which I DO have in spades. It's just somewhere under the eye bags from reading until late at night and under the calluses gained from typing out cover letters furiously under the threat of deadline. (I kid. I don't have calluses. Yet.) Okay honestly I know it doesn't sound like it, but I'm super excited about the firms I've applied for; I'm just stressed because I haven't gotten any first round interviews yet and therefore the world seems bleak and grey and terrible.

Barcelona. What can I say? Summarized in 4 words: constant threat of pickpockets.
It is also a very lovely city.

Day One
We took the cable car up Montjuïc. I highly recommend this.
We were super tired out from our overnight stay at Gatwick Airport, and this was the perfect way to start our Barca experience. Perched on top of Montjuïc is this adorable stone castle with some incredible views- and though my caption on the first picture is highly misleading as there is no sea (yes I know), let me assure you that there was sea, and rolling hills, and a city stretched out tautly in the middle of it all.
Montjuïc is basically a giant (well-maintained, civilized) forest in the middle of Barcelona, and it was really calming and restful.

08038 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest subway: Espanya (L1, L3)

Days Two and Three
We went on 2 free walking tours: the tour of the Old City and the Gaudi tour, both by Runner Bean Tours. I cannot stress this enough: if you are a young person with little money but with the energy of youth on your side, take free walking tours everywhere you go in Europe. It saved us ridiculous amounts of money but we still got to see everything that we needed/ wanted to see.
The only thing that you might want to keep in mind is that feet hurting is a mandatory consequence of this. I recommend bringing a lot of body moisturizer and nightly self-administered foot massages.

Both Runner Bean tours were pretty good, though I preferred the Gaudi one more because Gaudi is a crazy person. Evidence:

This is a church- La Sagrada Familia.
And that isn't even its crazy side. That's its severe side, to show the crucifixion of Christ. The inside is basically like being inside a forest, because the pillars reach up to the top and then branch out (see picture on the bottom left). There is light pouring in from everywhere, and the whole altar is bathed in this sort of transcendently colourful mosaic-splintered light. It is a stunning piece of architecture. Ok I realise that the photos I chose do not represent the craziness of Gaudi (the official website has much better pictures) but trust me when I say that the man was insane. I don't think I saw a straight wall in any of his buildings- they are all curvy, embedded with splintered tile, ornately wreathed in a tangle of iron. Or (most of the time) all of the above.

La Sagrada Familia
C/ Mallorca, 401, 08014 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro: Sagrada Familia

Places I wish we had time to visit:

  • Park Guell, for more Gaudi craziness
  • Going inside Casa Batllo, because it used to be the home of the family who owned Chupa Chups! Also because it's another crazy Gaudi house. This wasn't free though; I think that's why we didn't visit.

Where we stayed
Equity Point Centric hostel
C/ passeig de Gracia 33, 08007 Barcelona

INSANE location. We were right down the block from Casa Batllo, and it's a really beautiful street, Barcelona's Grand Avenue, completely tiled in the blue Gaudi tile in one of the pictures above. The food around the hostel was expensive though, but I found food in Barcelona to be expensive in general.

It feels so surreal to look back on these pictures. The person I was then- so self-absorbed, really; on vacation the only thing you care about is maximizing enjoyment but in school there are so many other competing concerns and always this terrible pressure not to let anyone down. (Even though I acknowledge that if I don't get the job of my dreams I will only be letting myself down- the worst kind.)
Oh well. Onwards! The only way to go is to keep going.

January 16, 2012

I resolve

I'm half a month late, but seeing as school is starting tomorrow I guess there is no better time to set some GROUND RULES for this upcoming semester:
01 I will strive for balance and perspective at all times. Last semester I basically threw my hands up and offered my life to the gods of too much work, too much stress, and not enough focus on school- it was so easy how that happened, actually, not doing readings, giving excuses for skipping class. This semester I will focus on school, but also remember that these competing concerns (recruiting, extracurriculars) are nothing compared to focusing on MYSELF (that sounds a little terrible of me)- taking the time to savour my coffee in the morning, eat properly, being happy. To put this more actionably: I will attend all classes, I will do all my readings, I will say no.
02 I will Skype my family at least once a week, no matter how busy/ stressed/ insane school gets. What my mother Whatsapped me is true- everyday we have with Konger is a day to be cherished.
03 I will allow myself to fail. I will allow myself the privilege of trying things I am unfamiliar with, the privilege of putting myself out there (jobs, friendships, cooking) with the ACCEPTANCE of possible failure.
Wow this is terribly ambitious, but I'll update midway through the semester about my progress!

January 15, 2012

Coco Avant Chanel

I watched Coco Avant Chanel on Friday and what struck me the most about the movie was Chanel's wardrobe (though the rest of the film was pretty good as well)- the easy, luxe aesthetic of Coco's choices, but especially in the later part of the movie, when she started dressing in these coolly menswear-inspired choices. It reminded me a lot of the new Sofia Coppola x Louis Vuitton Resort 2012 collaboration, though with less crazy prints, or the Chloe Resort 2012 collection, which I saw in the Chloe store in Paris and would have bought the entire collection if financially capable of doing so without giving my mother a heart attack.
EEP I love the loose silk button ups tucked into long, straight skirts. The perfect business casual look.

Images from the official film website.

January 14, 2012

Poem: The Trees, Philip Larkin

The Trees
Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Stepping into my apartment for the first time in a month is a startling thing. I'd forgotten how my apartment smelt- dusty, woodsy, pale in the sunlight that slides in through the window shutters. I've been suffering from the most APPALLING jetlag, which is extremely annoying because my jetlag is usually more of an excuse rather than an actual affliction, but I guess serves me right for lying all these years.

This semester, I feel entirely unprepared for. I have yet to begin my consulting prep which is really terrible. I can't muster up the confidence, excitement, or inspiration to begin- all I've been doing since coming back is tending to the little domestic day to days, like doing heaps of laundry, buying notebooks, cooking, eating, falling asleep in front of movies. Showering. I think I have yet to forgive myself for the insanity of last semester and my body is rebelling against splitting itself to do work once again. But I think in a couple of days- the slightness of a new semester, the tipping over into a new semester of academic rigour and incredible stress; this time right now is so fraught with anticipation and possibility that I really have nothing to complain about.

Picture of what I know is not of trees, but I think is a pretty picture anyway; taken by me on Montjuïc in Barcelona.

January 6, 2012


Today was the best sort of London day; it was cold and sunny, the skies were clear and open-eyed. I think, I'm finally breathing-
1. The thrill of saying the word palace- that one is within your reach, and the stone feels cool. The reaching far back into the past and tumbling breathlessly into the future, this building that has stood there silently and watched London change, has held royalty in its grasp, will live unyielding long after you've passed.
2. Drinking mushroom soup alone and finally being warm (is there any better feeling than that of feeling warm again after a blustery cold walk).
3. Striding through tube stations with absolute certainty (in reality just a quick sign reader), carried along by the winds that hurl through the tunnels of the stations and emerges gaspingly into the slap of cool air.
4. The Tate is a museum that allows one to breathe. I don't really *get* modern art, but there is no better or truer feeling that standing in front of a piece of art and having your breath smooshed out of you. I think I try too much to intellectualize art, but now I really do feel like art is just a visceral gut-wrenching sort of experience. 
5. Curling up on a couch with a cold fruit smoothie and a full tummy and finally being able to be truly grateful for the many many blessings that life has offered, that life continues to offer.
I need to hold on to this fiercely and not let it go.

Happy New Year

I've been a terrible blogger, but hello all, and welcome to 2012. I'm currently in London now, after having flown through Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Venice, and Paris (and then when I got to London, Stonehenge and Bath, and later Cambridge). I'll be blogging pictures, itinerary suggestions, general thoughts. Our trip was really quite affordable for something of this length- museums in Europe are OBSCENELY affordable for the quality/ quantity of art that you see; the only constraint is TIME!! I need to go back to Paris if only to revisit the d'Orsay. Because we are cheapos and only did free things, and Bennett and Gerald spent ages culling through potential accommodation.

London is very refreshing, because I am finally alone. I think that being away for so long has given me much practice in being alone, and I have discovered that I miss it when I am not. So for today, my first day in Europe alone- hello Old Palace Quarter tour, the Tate Modern after (and/ or the National Galleries), and then Korean with Cat for dinner. I'm excited :)

It seems a little strange, but sometimes I do feel like in the hassle of living I lose myself all too quickly. But this poem is quite life-affirming indeed:

How to Tell a Story
Shira Erlichman

There is a way of telling stories. A red pen. A teacher to move it.
Instead you have hands, and a Light inside you, and Bones.
Instead you have ideas, which ricochet, and an anger that won’t sit still,
and dogs from outside which come to die in the quiet spots inside of you.
And, deliberately, you have noise.
You have rape, and cities, the noise of the dumb, and of the very rape of the
earth, an ache, a strangeness like swallowing feathers, a bitterness, you have.
There is a way of telling stories. They tell you it is not like this.

So you remove your arms, that way no hands can find anything.
You reject the light to please the darkness.
You and I, we become just bones, moving with the stiffness of the dead, caught
in the riot of the rotting, and producing similar sounds.

A page opens before you like a new day
and this is where you find your story.
The earth sings with a thousand ways to tell it.
Lose your tongue.
Don’t be confused by shadow, and when you hit water, tread.
Find God, ask questions, don’t leave till you’ve tasted the tea.
You don’t need to multiply. Never divide.
Carry the one on your back if you have to.
When you meet the devil, don’t spit at him, but don’t make love to him either.
When you meet me, take my blooming, bloody palm.
You’ll know where to find me, I’ll be in every page held by greasy fingers.
I will be the bread that sustains you. If you remember your hunger,

I will remember you.
And when they tell you life is not like this, life is never like this,
life will never be like this, insist that the sun
has always found a time and a place, the moon too knows when and where to enter,
and you too have your stories,
and you too have your place.