March 22, 2012

Thursday music: breathing in

1. God Made Man, by Young the Giant
2. The Reckoning, by Needtobreathe
3. The Cave, by Mumford and Sons

I honestly believe that I will eventually feature every single Young the Giant song on Thursday music.
Quick inhales/ long exhales- only two more days before Spring break!! Seven days of being with my favourite person, meeting up with good friends, listening to good music, and frolicking in cherry blossomed parks. Yes, please.

Image from Tumblr; if anyone can help me out I'll be happy to credit more appropriately!

March 21, 2012

3 things so far in March

I've learnt some things this March:

1. I have realized how important school is to me, how personally important it is for me to do well in school. I just finished writing a paper and I literally have not been prouder of a paper in a long, long time. I haven't put in this much effort into a paper in a long, long time. It's embarrassing. But I'm relearning how important learning is to me, and how much I need to protect this against the rest of life

2. How difficult it is to have faith- not just in God, or in the goodness of the world, but in myself. That I am of value, that I can make incredible change if only someone would just give me a chance, that I can do it. That all these rejections don't mean that I am less of a person, or worse of a person

3. But also how to have faith- how to seek out happiness, how to surround myself with people I love, how to remind myself that life is bigger than all of this, that all of this is building me into a more resilient person. That it is okay to fail, because failure means having tried. That what's important is the getting up. Again, again, again.

Image taken by my mom, from her trip to Burma earlier this year

March 18, 2012

Spring flowers!

The weather here in Berkeley for the past couple of days have been TERRIBLE (I've tweeted about the non-stop rain/ dreary skies/ terrible moods more than I really should have been inflicting my Twitter feed friends with), but just when I was about to seriously consider transferring to another college in a sunny beach town, the sun came out, and Berkeley BROUGHT IT. Today was so beautiful! Sunny and lightly breezy; Dan and I went for a walk after lunch because it was so gorgeous out.

Along the day we saw so many gorgeous flowers that I couldn't help but whip out [Dan's] iPhone to document our journeys! Plus I'm trying to participate in GOOD's 30 day challenge of "making art every day" so this is my first foray into it.

A rainbow coalition of Spring flowers is taking over Berkeley!! And this was only over a stretch of 3 blocks, which is insane. The only thing I'm really sad about is that we had these ridiculously gorgeous wilting white flowered trees a couple of weeks ago but I never managed to get a good picture of them, so you'll just have to take my word that they were phenomenal.

If you're joining me in the GOOD 30 day challenge let me know! We can spur each other on and inspire creativity every day :)

All images taken on the iPhone and edited with Instagram

March 17, 2012

St Patrick's Day

Of everything that makes me feel awkwardly international, special holidays top the list. Halloween, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, St Patrick's Day... I just haven't grown up with these traditions (my roommate freshman year was so shocked that I had never gone Trick or Treating in my life that she actually brought me out that night and we fought over candy alongside adorably small kids. We lost.) and it just not ingrained in me yet to celebrate these days.

Well. We had our midpoint presentation today (it was so great. Definitely could have done some things a lot better, but I learned so much just by being in the room- just such an amazing experience), and we capped it off with lunch at Thirsty Bear. The beer was so good!! So in celebration of St Patrick's Day, beer, and all things green:

Some of my favourite green things I've been creepily stalking on the internet!

I'm not a huge beer drinker by any means (ha ha, the amount of alcohol I drink is laughably low), but I've been really surprised by how yummy some microbrewed beers are! One of my group mates for a class project actually has this whole microbrewing set up in his kitchen and so we get to try new beers all the time when we're at his house for meetings. It is delicious, and I haven't died yet, so that's great.

[1] Hunter Boots [2] Paris Postcard set from little brown pen [3] Green onyx teardrop earrings from Amy Fine Designs [4] Topshop Tuck Neck shift dress [5] Clare Vivier La Pochette clutch [6] My all-time favourite beer: Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat Ale (image via Midwest Beer Collective)

March 14, 2012

After eating this meal, you will be as nutritiously virtuous as I am now

One of the things I'm really trying to do is to cut down on extraneous expenditure and focus on eating healthily (looks guiltily at the McNuggets I had just last week). I actually do really like cooking, when it's just for me and there isn't anyone I could potentially poison or kill through my food. Going to the grocery store, dreaming up ways to easily/ sneakily get vegetables into my meals, doing the actual chopping and cooking... the only thing I hate is the washing up.

Presenting: the healthiest meal you will ever eat in college.

This has it all! Salmon, mushrooms, kale- and if you wanted to make it healthier you could even use whole wheat pasta instead of the $1 box of pasta I got from Safeway yesterday!

2 oz. smoked salmon, thinly sliced
2 stalks of kale, roughly chopped
2 largish mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic, diced
Pasta (I used mini penne- they are so cute)
1 tablespoon pesto
1/2 tablespoon crispy prawn chili
Olive oil

Basically chop everything up while the pasta is cooking away. Heat up some olive oil in the pan and start by cooking the garlic, onions, and mushrooms. When the pasta is done, put it in the pan and throw in the smoked salmon. Stir everything around with the pesto and crispy chili, and then add in the kale. At this point I also added some water just to move everything around.

This cost me under $5 to make (seriously), and it was so healthy and delicious I just had to share. Recipe adapted from the delicious meal that Cat cooked for me in London- obviously, adapt as you please. I used 2 oz. of salmon because that was half of the packet, but also because I am cheap and smoked salmon is expensive here. For pasta, I usually pour it onto a plate before throwing it into the pot so I can gauge the amount. And I don't think crispy prawn chili is available in the US (seriously... why), but I'm sure regular chili flakes would work as well.

Let me know if you try it! Agh so good.

Also, Berkeley when it is raining is the most awful place to be in. This rain just makes me want to huddle indoors and never leave the comfort of my warm squishy bed.

March 13, 2012

Books this month: March 2012

This semester's a little strange for me because I've had heaps of time to luxuriate in going in the library and curling up with some non-academic books (yes I am aware I am possibly the only person in the world who would use "luxuriate" and "library" in the same sentence with no sarcasm). Some of the books that I've really enjoyed this month:

1. The Little Lady Agency, by Hester Browne
In the style of Meg Cabot (author of The Princess Diaries; except Browne's British); a great read anytime your brain is too exhausted from grappling with Derrida and you need something lighthearted, well-written, funny- this is it. I am a huge fan of the obnoxiously-named "chick lit" because sometimes you just need novels to escape into, not drive you crazier. I read one of the sequels, Little Lady and the Prince, and didn't like it half as much as the original book that started the series.

2. Great House, by Nicole Krauss
I need to preface this by saying that Man Walks into a Room is one of my all-time favourite novels. Great House is this sprawling beast of a novel, that spans lives, places, times. It's actually ridiculous how much it covers in such a slim volume, but I love the way she uses language to wrench this hidden place in you.

One of my favourite quotes from the novel:
"The more I've learned in my life, the more acutely I've felt my hunger and blindness, and at the same time the closer I've felt to the end of hunger and the end of blindness. At times I've felt myself to be clinging onto the rim -of what I can hardly say without the risk of sounding ridiculous- only to slip and find myself deeper in the hole than ever. And there, in the dark, I find again in myself a form of praise for all that continues to crush my certainty."
3. Collected Love Poems, by Brian Patten
A lot of people think that buying anthologies is a complete waste of money because with enough internet sleuthing you'll be able to find it all on the internet ANYWAY, but I completely and totally disagree. In fact I hardly ever buy novels, and the very first book I bought (proper book, not Enid Blyton or textbooks) (this is unfair; I adore Enid Blyton) was an e.e. cummings anthology- I just really like having poems collected in book form and I think poetry, more than novels even, the presentation of the form is so important that it NEEDS to be read on paper, with proper formatting and everything.

I was introduced to Brian Patten in JC when Mrs P mentioned him as her favourite poet, and when I saw this anthology at Judd's Books in London for £3.50 I grabbed it immediately- as I was crouched in the corner so many poems jumped up at me and grabbed at me. They are so excruciatingly simple and ring with this clarity of emotion; it's really unbelievable.

Some of my favourites from this anthology: Song for Last Year's Wife, Doubt Shall Not Make an End of You, You Come to Me Quiet as Rain Not Fallen

I might actually make this a monthly series! Thoughts? I read a ridiculous amount, and am very strongly opinionated about good books, so this might be a good thing to start on the blog.

Also, I am so thankful to everyone who has commented/ emailed/ Facebooked me to tell me they've enjoyed reading this blog. Sometimes it feels like I'm talking to myself here (I mean, obviously I blog mainly to remember things that I like/ things that happen in my life so I don't forget anything in the future of my college life, but it's nice that there are actual humans other than me reading this!), but all your comments make me enthusiastic to continue blogging and sharing my life here with you :)

March 12, 2012

Babble about clothes

Good morning! It's a cold, clear day here in Berkeley, and I'm going to start off the week by talking about how much I like business casual clothes. Inspired, really, by this Shopbop feature of their Ultimate Closet- the workwear edition.

The second outfit (with the white shirt and the cropped pants) is basically my dream outfit for interviews. FOR LIFE. When I saw it I was already beginning to plan out the ways that I could incorporate each individual piece into my everyday wear- to the point where I actually went on eBay and placed bids on some white Equipment shirts, only to be thwarted by dastardly people who clearly have too much time on their hands and not enough places to wear these shirts to. /frowns. And that Marc Jacobs polka dotted shirt!! It torments me, it does. I'm on this huge polka dot kick right now so I really, really, really want that shirt.

We're going into the city on Thursday to get some Brooks Brothers shirts (30% off for members!) (p/s I am definitely not the one with the membership card), and I think I'll pop into J Crew to try on their Cafe Capri pant.

Now that all that girly babble is done with, I need to express how much pride I have in myself this morning- we have to do 4 units of research for my organizational behavior class, and I am nowhere near completing those units because other people are so on top of signing up for research slots. So this morning when I received the email about open slots I literally LEAPT out of bed (at 8.20am mind you) and RAN to my computer where I SUCCESSFULLY signed up for a slot. Yessssssss.

With that, happy Monday!

Images from Shopbop

March 11, 2012

Poem: Cruelty, by Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton

cruelty. don’t talk to me about cruelty
or what i am capable of.

when i wanted the roaches dead i wanted them dead
and i killed them. i took a broom to their country

and smashed and sliced without warning
without stopping and i smiled all the time i was doing it.

it was a holocaust of roaches, bodies,
parts of bodies, red all over the ground.

i didn’t ask their names.
they had no names worth knowing.

now i watch myself whenever i enter a room.
i never know what i might do

This was a good weekend. I didn't get much work done, but I went to the library, we watched the UC Men's Octet (SO GOOD. SO, SO GOOD.), I shopped for groceries and am planning out my meals for the next week because I need to save up for splurging on Lauduree in New York. At the same time, this waiting- if there's one big thing that recruiting has taught me, it's how to wait without doing something immeasurably awful and keenly terrible. It's how to have faith and hang on, and not let the waves of  bitterness and frustration wash away everything that you hold dear and makes you who you are.

March 8, 2012

Thursday music: restless

Just kind of want to run away and not do anything for a long, long time. I feel so restless in my skin, so jittery all the time. I have nothing to complain about, I don't. But at the same time I feel so desperately restless and not myself at all. I love these images from Louis Vuitton: they paint such an ethereal image of this exoticized India. [insert issues of colonialism, othering, denigrating of the darker skinned other into a subservient position, privileging of the white foreigner in exotic land, ETC.] YES. I know. But these images are still beautiful.

We've been reading black feminist lesbian criticism and identity politics in my literary theory class. The concepts are completely getting to me, as you can tell.

1. Speaking a Dead Language by Joy Williams
2. Crows + Locusts by Brooke Fraser
3. Bluebird by Christina Perri

I just want to be certain of something, of one thing, of a concrete thing in my life right now. I feel like I am excellent at handling ambiguity in my work life: everything can really be reduced to a to-do list/ if we structure our analysis to this problem sufficiently, we'll be able to solve MOST of the problem and understand where we can't. Not in personal life, where issues are so beyond your control and all you can do is wait and hope.

At least Auyong (and Tony, hello if you're reading!) visited Berkeley tonight. Great surprise :)

Images from Louis Vuitton

p/s Published at 11.59pm: the most snuck in Thursday music ever!!


Tonight I watched the movie Sylvia, about Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath's relationship, and leading up to her suicide. I think it really affected me more than it should have. At the end of the movie, when Plath is breaking down right before her suicide and she says, "I am so tired. I'm just so tired. I just need to sleep a little. I am so tired."- that's what I feel like everyday to some extent. I think it's just where we're at in the semester right now, but I just feel so emotionally and mentally drained. I know I shouldn't complain, but I am so on edge about the summer and so tired of doing everything that I just want to hide under my blanket and not do anything (i.e. what I've done today), I feel like there's so much to do I don't want to face the reality of the piles of work I have facing me.

Anyway. I got such a kick out of identifying the passages they were quoting (e.g. King Henry IV Part 1! I memorized that speech when I was 15 because we studied that play for the 'O' Levels! The Wife of Bath from Chaucer! I wrote a paper on her 4 semesters ago!)
And. I really love the outfits and the makeup in this film:

The nipped-in waists, the midi-length skirts, the pearls and red lipstick. I wish life were as simple as what to wear tomorrow. I think I'd do quite well if it were so.

March 6, 2012

Pictures of a beautiful house

I've just realized that every single house that I've been attracted to that has been featured on the internet has been a house in the Bay Area. Take for example Kate and Alden Woodrow's gorgeous house in Berkeley (! they live less than 10 blocks away from me!) (or at least their neighborhood is very very near mine):

I love the soft cleanness of the entire colour palette and how it is delicately feminine, but not overly so. Just a really charming house to come home to, I think.

Plus that MINT! Exactly the colour Belle and I were gushing over just yesterday. Perfectly paired with white and those crystal knobs.

Images from Design*Sponge via Gradire

March 5, 2012

Sunday Funday

I just spent the entire morning editing my resume and writing cover letters- how did applying to 3 firms take up 2 hours of my time? I have one more cover letter to write, but my brain hurts so I'm taking a well-deserved blogging break before embarking on that can of worms.

Monday mornings always make me sad because I can't believe how fast the weekend whizzes by- this weekend I shopped my scholarship cheque away (KIDDING) (not really) in San Francisco and had really great hanging out time with Joan and Lisa, and then spent the entire Sunday with Dan studying, reading, and making a Nutella-banana french toast brunch. It was SO good. I'm not even that big of a french toast fan, but I can't even-

Here are some pictures, they say more than I ever could

The bananas made it somewhat healthy. I guess. Also, that is possibly my all-time favourite photograph of Dan, and I am brandishing my Nutella spoon in triumph at our french toast success.

French Toast Recipe
from How Sweet Eats

3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Butter for the pan

In a bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, cream and cinnamon, whisking until combined. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat and brush with butter. Dip each slice into the egg mixture for about 30 seconds to coat completely (I put it in for 15 seconds on each side instead of squishing the bread into the mixture for the full 30), then place on buttered surface. Cook until golden and somewhat crispy, about 2 minutes per side.

After this, you may choose to set up an assembly line of french toast, Nutella, and banana slices the way we did, or dump anything on it to your heart's content. I think it would be obscenely delicious with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.