Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday is not funday

Sunday night has rolled around again. I'm surfing the web for pictures of brisket (because that's what I do on a Sunday night).

I don't know if this is just a case of the Sunday blues. Holly Golightly might say that it's a fierce case of the mean reds.

Anyway, I know that these types of feelings pass quickly. I fall into small, bratty funks. I reason my way out of them and I'm fine again. It's just a mix of confusion and ennui, sprinkled with the flu, a dash of holiday glum, the monotony of studying, and the sense that I'm bogged down, in limbo again.

It all really boils down to one thought: I hate feeling like I'm missing out. My sister is flying to Ethiopia tonight. Stephanie will be traveling in Japan within a few days. Jen D just got married and is living in Thailand. Emily gave birth to a daughter. Ky is starting a new job tomorrow. I want to gather up all of their experiences but leave behind their pain, hard work, and sacrifice.

I'm a positive person, I try hard, and I always make the most of things. I'm (mostly) pleasant and happy in public. Still, once in awhile, especially late at night, I slip up and look back and feel enraged and bitter. I'll wonder if that part of me really gave up.

Anyway, I'm sorry to write in ambiguities, especially because I vowed not to commit this particular offense in my blog and run the risk of all (four? five?) of my lovely readers becoming confused (and frightened of me). I'm aware of how selfish and childish and just plain nuts that this entry has become, but I mean this to be a reminder to myself. I'm going to leave it up here so that tomorrow and the day after and the month after and the year after, I can look back and laugh at myself for being so silly. I already know I will.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Connie Chung Christmas

I should have known better.

I got another quickie haircut yesterday. Even though I've fallen into a pattern of receiving bad haircuts, I keep hoping for the best. See

I set myself up for disappointment, though, when I let another beauty school student plow through my hair. We almost got in a spat. She kept cooing "volume"; I guess "volume" = poodle curls. She refused to release me from her grip until I said that I loved her handiwork. Sometimes, it's just easier to agree and cut your losses (haha, sorry, couldn't help sneaking in another pun) than to continue trying to make your point.

My hair has been feathered and teased to look like Connie Chung. I'm mortified, but it's nothing that a sturdy baseball cap or sleek ponytail can't hide. I'm pretty thankful that I'm not going home for Christmas so that I won't have to debut my news reporter-esque hair in my hometown.

Merry Christmas, everyone! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

human condition

I thought this New York Times article was worthy of cutting and pasting:

"Editorial: A Thanksgiving Toast"

Sitting down with friends and family today, there will be thanks for the steady currents, flowing out of the past, that have brought us to this table. There will be thanks for the present union and reunion of us all. And there will be prayerful thanks for the future. But it’s worth raising a glass (or suspending a forkful for those of you who’ve gotten ahead of the toast) to be thankful for the unexpected, for all the ways that life interrupts and renews itself without warning.

What would our lives look like if they held only what we’d planned? Where would our wisdom or patience — or our hope — come from? How could we account for these new faces at the Thanksgiving table or for the faces we’re missing this holiday, missing perhaps now all these years?

It will never cease to surprise how the condition of being human means we cannot foretell with any accuracy what next Thanksgiving will bring. We can hope and imagine, and we can fear. But when next Thanksgiving rolls around, we’ll have to take account again, as we do today, of how the unexpected has shaped our lives. That will mean accounting for how it has enriched us, blessed us, with suffering as much as with joy.

That, perhaps, is what all this plenty is for, as you look down the table, to gather up the past and celebrate the present and open us to the future.

There is the short-term future, when there will be room for seconds. Then there is the longer term, a time for blossoming and ripening, for new friends, new family, new love, new hope. Most of what life contains comes to us unexpectedly after all. It is our job to welcome it and give it meaning. So let us toast what we cannot know and could not have guessed, and to the unexpected ways our lives will merge in Thanksgivings to come.

My Thanksgiving

When I was in college, I worked as a housekeeper for a handicapped law student. Twice a week, I would drop by and do laundry, dust, vacuum, wash the dishes, and accompany him to buy groceries.

I bring this up because I suddenly remembered him today. He was a poor cook. His diet consist mainly of frozen dinners and mountain dew. Right before Thanksgiving, he told me to stock up on a few Hungryman turkey dinners. He planned to spend his Thanksgiving studying, eating his Hungryman dinner, sipping a little whiskey, and putting himself to bed.

Upon hearing his plans, I felt a drop of pity for him. It was quickly pushed aside by my own plans.

I thought of him today because had it not been for the fabulous feast provided at work, I might be spending Thanksgiving in a very similar fashion. I don't feel badly about working; I chose to work. The place is festive. Everyone is smiling and jolly. I don't feel sad at all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I woke up this morning, hungover and disoriented, with my eyes swollen shut. I know, what a sexy image! The eye problem is something I've dealt with since childhood. Since my eyes are so small, every time I cry, they swell up so much that I literally can't see. It forces me to stumble blindly to the fridge and root around for an icepack. I think this affliction explains a lot about me. 1) I am terribly vain and 2) I hate crying from others and myself. Many Asians steer clear of alcohol because they can't metabolize it properly; I avoid crying because I look like a monster the next day.

Anyway, after I iced my eyes for a few hours and drank some coffee, I felt much better. I felt like my old self again. One night of fitful rest and I can see everything clearly again.

I still think I'm an amazing person. I still think I'm smart. I won't go as far as to say that I am glad to study again; however, I will say that better this happen to me, someone who can handle it, than someone who would dissolve under the pressure.

After everything I have been through in the last few years, I feel fine. I'm still determined and still confident in myself.

Friday, November 20, 2009

pride comes before the fall

I've chugged about a bottle of wine in the last half hour, so I really shouldn't be blogging right now. Then again, I'm a mass of contradictions and a hypocrite to boot. I despise drunk texts and dials and yet I am spilling my guts out on this thing. I think tonight's blog will be a testament to what a stickler I am regarding spelling, grammar, and punctuation. No matter how many drinks I have in me.

Anyway, I wanted to just come right out and say that I failed the bar exam. I am reeling from shock and disappointment, yes, but most of all from pure embarrassment. Serves me right. I really thought I passed. I was really confident about it, to the point where I returned my Barbri books for a refund check. I didn't sweat the last few months. I told my family and friends about my job offer (now rescinded). I looked for apartments in Los Angeles. I already started spending the money in my head. So I will swallow this as a lesson in humility and maturity. Don't count your chickens until they've hatched.

I think what makes this whole process especially painful is that I gave it my all. If I had half-assed my studying, then I could chalk it up to lack of effort and set it aside easily. This time, I took it seriously, studied by myself, eliminated all distractions. If I was tired, I forced myself to finish one more essay, just a few more multiple choice problems. I stopped spending time with friends. I felt focused. I actually thought that the bar exam wasn't so bad. It's harder to brush aside this incident and find additional reserves if I've already used them up.

The worst part is being at home for this shit to go down (excuse my language). I decided to spend Thanksgiving with my parents a weekend early because I am working Thanksgiving weekend. My dad sat beside me when he found out that I failed and he was very quiet while I frantically typed in the numbers over and over. He told me that every path has a stop sign or a stop light (meaning a minor setback does not change your ultimate path).

I know that tomorrow, I will recover and stop feeling sorry for myself. I know that I will just study again, take the test again, and that this will be another good learning experience for me.

But. Right now, I just feel so shitty and alone and ridiculous.

Life can change so quickly. One second, you are almost-employed, excited to move. The next second, your wheels and your ego are just spinning in the mud.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hooray. And reality.

I had been waiting with bated breath. Today, I got The Job Offer.

I felt a little dizzy and my heart pounded, but I acted like everything was cool. When no one was looking, there may have been a few fist pumps and some poor attempts at dancing. In any case, everything is contingent on passing the bar, so I can't celebrate just yet.

After my interview, I went apartment hunting, just in case. I wanted something reasonable - not too dingy, not too extravagant. I wanted to live within my means. I found a few potential places, ruled out a few others, and made an excel spreadsheet of my top living choices.

Then reality settled in. IF I passed the bar, IF I got the job and IF I managed to hang on and not quit, I could not live in any of my top living choices. I crunched the numbers and realized that for now, a dingy studio would have to do. Which doesn't bother me in the least. I am still very excited.

You see, I've never been an extravagant kind of person. I have been known to hoard items and pinch pennies. I've never said no to free food. But the cold reality is that it's time for me to grow up and to stop dreaming. I have to take care of me. I have to finally start chipping away at my massive student loans. I have to make sure I have enough left for a comfortable retirement.

The most important thing I realized is that I can't think that some guy is going to drop into my life and sweep me off my feet. I have to be prepared that it might never happen. I have to do things like start saving for Tibet and Hong Kong. Even if it is a solo journey, it will still be pretty amazing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm in love...

with my new label maker!

I don't know why this started, but I've become obsessed with organizing as of late. I've been throwing away massive amounts of clutter and rifling through documents that haven't been touched in almost a decade. My shredder has been putting in overtime. Even my superfluous buttons have found proper homes (organized by size, shape, and color, of course!).

I know part of it is anticipating a big move and part of it is putting my life into order. I realize how much I have held onto and how little I really need.

But now it's gotten to the point where I'd rather hang out at home with my label maker than see real, live people. I wonder if I'm turning into one of those crazies. Even so, is there anything sexier than a sleek, shiny label or the euphoria of tossing out junk? I don't think so!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Before I started sewing together my egg costume, I prepared by perusing egg pictures online and by eating three eggs. (For those of you worried about my cholesterol level - it's ok, I left out the yolks.) The details are all in the planning and readiness. My dad used to say, measure twice and cut once.

Still, nothing could prepare me for the enormous lines and screaming children at the Jo-Ann Craft store. I have a newfound respect for the textile industry, Project Runway contestants, and my old home ec teacher. Sewing felt eggs is harder than it looks! At one point, I ripped out all of my uneven seams and started over again. I haven't even tackled the bacon fat yet and time is running out!


Here is the final result!

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Breakfast" for Halloween!

I've never been big on Halloween costumes. I wore the same store-bought pumpkin costume for almost a decade. In alternate years, I wore store-bought fairy wings and called myself an angel.

In later years, in true undergraduate fashion, I usually wore as little as possible, slapped on a headband with ears, and called myself "a sexy [fill in the blank with an animal]." I never liked these costumes because I felt like I was cheating.

This year, I'm going to make my costume out of felt material. I'm going as "breakfast." I'm going to make a top that looks like an egg and fasten bacon suspenders. I'm going to wear a fake piece of toast in my hair. I'm so excited!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

waiting, waiting, waiting

I am tired of waiting. If I don't pass, I will just take it again. Simple as that.

Still, I'm using this "what if" to concoct crazy, elaborate alternatives that could pan out.

Like this:

Isn't this beautiful? It's Denali National Park in Alaska.

Most people crave tropical beaches, warm weather, and lush vegetation. I prefer the opposite: I want cold, pristine, sometimes-harsh terrain. I want a lonely-looking landscape.

the wonders of Facebook

I joined Facebook a few months ago because I wanted to keep in touch with classmates and touch base with old ones. I spent the first two weeks in a Facebook frenzy, adding people left and right, until my activity slowed to a steady trickle. It was kind of unsettling to see how little and how much people had changed. I think this is why I didn't bother keeping in touch with them for so long.

I'll admit, it's fun to see what people are up to nowadays. Tonight, I had extra time to procrastinate and went down my list of friends. I checked an old boyfriend's facebook profile and lo-and-behold, there he was in a suit - getting married. My jaw dropped. I couldn't believe it.

Now, don't get me wrong - I felt nothing. I haven't felt anything for him in years. It just made me feel strange because now another remnant of my childhood has moved onto something so completely out of left field for me. Marriage? A wife? Responsibility? Good god, this coming from the guy who did so many reckless things, just because he could.

I want to congratulate him because I am genuinely happy that he has found someone special in his life. However, I'll just leave it be. We haven't had any contact since I was 20 and we have no reason to keep in touch. I'm just really glad our lives worked out. I wish them all the best.


Just need to get this off my chest. I just botched another interview!! :( I feel so, so dumb. I am going to hide under my covers, wallow in self-pity, and agonize over my stupid answers.

Once I get back up, I'll be fine and try harder next time. I am just oh-so-embarrassed right now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


A few days ago, I watched "Frozen," a Tony-nominated play. "Frozen" revolves around three characters: a serial killer, a victim's mother, and a psychiatrist. It was an excellent play with fantastic performances from all the actors, especially the victim's mother. Afterward, at the reception, I stalked one of the actresses enthusiastically. I'm pretty sure I scared her into going home early because she clammed up, looked petrified, and backed away from me slowly.

The play features heavy themes of forgiveness and guilt. The play unfolds over the course of several decades, as the serial killer rots away in prison and the victim's mother struggles to cope. Although the sexual assault and murder of the child is described briefly, most of the play deals with the aftermath of the act. How do you forgive someone who has killed your child? Is it even possible to let go? Is the psychiatrist correct when she concludes that there are no "crimes of evil," only "crimes of symptom"?

The play suggests that forgiveness is a sort of "unfreezing" transformation. We encounter distasteful incidents, threats to our security and happiness, difficult people... and our sense of humanity stiffens. We thaw out by learning to deal with our emotions.

The play really struck a chord with me. No, not the serial killer part, but the part about learning to forgive and practicing it. Sometimes I find myself freezing up only to quickly thaw out later. The process changes a person, softens them up.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

another shiner

I have another amusing story to tell.

Today, I was at the mall to buy a birthday present for a friend. I turned to leave the store and ran face-first into a floor-to-ceiling window pane. I hit my face so hard on the glass that my world went black for a few seconds.

Once I concluded that my cheek was still attached to my face and that no one had been around to upload the incident onto Failblog or Youtube, I had a good chuckle. I scared myself a little but left relatively unscathed. However, if I have an oddly-placed shiner on my face tomorrow, you'll know where it came from.

When I was little, I believed that once I became a bona fide "grownup," incidents like this one would stop happening to me. I'd stop chipping teeth, skinning elbows, and using my face to cushion my falls. Now I'm older but maybe some things never change. What better reality check than doing something utterly stupid that brings you back down to earth?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

DC bar

Wow, I need to stop eating several hours before bed because snacks after dinner lead to nightmares. Last night, I dreamt that I was taking the DC bar. I already knew, while taking the scantron portion, that I would not pass because I had been too cocky to study. I woke up terrified!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I woke up this morning, traumatized, because I dreamt that someone tortured me by picking at my eyes with an icepick until they were bloody cesspools. Luckily, I could still see but I told my attacker that I went blind in order to throw him off the trail and escape.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

coming home?

Noun a return home, esp. after a long absence

This job search has taken me from one end of the state to the other. After I set aside the logistical headaches of moving, I start to feel the heady rush of a maybe-homecoming. I've spent the last almost-decade hiding in Southern California. As much as I fought it in the beginning, I've become used to sunny skies, sandy beaches, and happy people.

I (used to) want to move to the East Coast. I crave(d) the idea of starting new. Maybe part of the reason why I wanted to move stemmed from a subconscious desire to get as far away from my hometown as possible without moving out of the country.

I'm afraid to go back to Northern California for a number of reasons. I fear that I won't have lived up to my expectations. I loathe living in the shadow of comparisons. I don't want to revert to my old self. Names, memories, and street names may fade, but those residual feelings hang in the air. It's taken me many years to understand that it's not normal or healthy to live with that kind of shame and regret.

I guess I just need to prove to myself that I've come a long way. Every time I visit my family, I feel jumbly and confused. I don't know how I will feel to live there again if I ever move up north. I think it will be very strange.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Yesterday, I found out that one of my childhood classmates had passed away. None of my hometown friends know the details, except that it happened in the middle of a basketball game. Word of his untimely passing spread like a virus through our Facebook walls.

I feel sympathy and empathy for his friends and family and for the life that he could have lived. Beyond that, I can't muster up grief because I simply did not know him very well. He was just an acquaintance. Still, it's shocking and difficult to accept. I feel all sorts of weird about it. I didn't really want to talk about it but I've long since learned that it's always healthier to just get it out.

It's selfish of me to make his passing about ME ME ME, but I've managed to do that once again. It weirds me out to know that he is dead. It weirds me out to think that he won't be walking around anymore. It weirds me out to realize that we could all drop down dead at any moment. I can't help but wonder how I would react if any of my close friends or family members passed away. I don't know how to grieve properly or accept the inevitable. I live in a tiny bubble of my own making and it protects me from being hurt.

Still, I can't avoid attachments to other people. Hearing the news about my childhood classmate just spurs me to create and cultivate meaningful relationships with the important people in my life. I'm grateful for my family and friends.

Life is too damn short. RIP.

Monday, September 21, 2009

presenting... deep fried butter!

I lovelovelove butter, and this is almost too much to bear...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

growing old

I work in an assisted living facility. I'm not going to tell you where it's located, what I do, or who works there. I'm trying to hold onto some semblance of anonymity because it's never prudent to blog about work. Nonetheless, I blog about my life, and my life includes work, so I will try to write about it with balanced sensitivity and candor. I want to leave out significant details without losing the essence of my stories.


This is one incident that I have been mulling over in my head for a few days. It concerns a resident who lives at the facility. She is tiny and sits all day in her wheelchair with a big smile and clouded eyes. She used to be a professional dancer. Although she has deteriorated physically, she is still mentally sharp.

A few days ago, after waking up in the morning and getting ready for breakfast, she told her caregiver that she was scared.

"Why are you scared?" asked the caregiver.

She replied, covering her face, "I don't recognize myself in the mirror because the woman in it is so old and ugly."


My confession: I'm living in a fantasy world. Even though I work with the legal and emotional consequences of aging, I can't really come to terms with the fact that even I will die someday. I can't even accept the fact that I'll grow wrinkles. Working here is a daily reminder of my own mortality and it scares me sometimes.

That's the cold reality of the facility. Death serves as the ultimate equalizer. No matter how beautiful, rich, or successful we are in life, none of us can avoid the dance of death. If we have the opportunity to grow old, we will bear witness to transforming bodies and minds. Will I also wake up one day to find gnarled jowls, surprising age spots, and sagging skin? Will I also find myself old and ugly?

I can only hope that if and when I find myself fully in "senior" territory, I will be able to live out the rest of my life with a modicum of dignity.

writer's workshop?

Hi all,

I've researched every writing workshop/class available in San Diego, such as those offered at local universities and those offered by community organizations (San Diego Writers, Ink Has anyone taken writing classes offered in this city? Can you describe your experience with it? More importantly, what can I expect from my first creative writing class?


celebrity crushes

Suz and I watched the new movie "Extract" a few nights ago. We watched it because we both enjoy lowbrow humor and share an appreciation for Jason Bateman. The movie was amusing. I enjoyed some awkward scenes and particularly fine acting (I'm referring to some of the hilarious blue collar workers, Gene Simmons, and Ben Affleck). However, the plot moved slowly. I doubt that I would have seen the movie if not for Bateman.

In any case, I started thinking about my improbable celebrity crushes and making a list of them:

Will Arnett's character Gob Bluth
Rainn Wilson's character Dwight Schrute
Charlie Day's character Charlie Kelly
Clive Owen
Val Kilmer
Eric Bana

I wonder what the list says about me! There seem to be two types of guys here: 1) strange, socially awkward, crazy and 2) manly and stoic. HA.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Photoessay book about living well with bipolar disorder

Meggy is a childhood friend. Here is her project. Please support it!

From her site:


Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic-depression) is, and can be, a beast. A monster. Unspeakably cruel. It ruins lives, and sometimes, it kills people.

I'm not going to let this happen to me, and I don't think it should happen to anyone else with this disorder, either.

I've been browsing the ever-growing collection of books about bipolar disorder since I was diagnosed with it almost a decade ago, and to be frank, the selection is disappointing for a lady like me. Many of these books are designed for people who have just been diagnosed with their disorder; for example, spending ten pages explaining what a manic episode is, or defining the term "major depression." This is important for a certain audience, and may have been helpful to me ten years ago, but where do I turn to now when I'm faced with questions like, Should I have a child? and How do I deal with symptoms that aren't part of the textbook diagnosis? What is it like to see suicide in the news? After all these years, do I yet know when in a friendship to disclose my condition?

I know I can't be the only one with these questions, and though I may not have all of the answers, I have certainly written about and am exploring them. For example, the following is an excerpt from one essay about the question of having and raising children ("Thirteen Times"):


Once, I wanted children. And then, hours after pausing in front of a children’s clothing store, I did not. I’d watched women purchase tiny peacoats and miniature blouses with peter pan collars, my own shopping bags hanging at my sides. Later I called Chris, my then-boyfriend and now-husband, to say, “I was at Gymboree, and I thought of you.” Though he’d spoken several times of wanting to have children with me, this was the first time that I had, however vaguely, returned the sentiment.

He was quiet. “I talked to my mom,” he said.

I didn’t understand.

“She said that mental illness is genetic.”

“Oh. Never mind, then,” I said. “Forget I said anything. I didn’t mean it.”

Six years later, I found myself working at Camp Wish, a summer camp for children with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar I disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, is primarily characterized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Manual Disorders IV (DSM-IV) as a combination of alternating manic and depressive episodes. Symptoms of mania include a week or more of the following: grandiosity, such as believing one has magical powers; severely decreased or a nonexistent need for sleep; flight of ideas or racing thoughts; risky behaviors; impairment; in some cases, psychosis. Depression is characterized by two weeks or more of symptoms such as depressed mood, diminished interest or pleasure in nearly all activities, fatigue, and feelings of worthlessness. But writing about these textbook symptoms is like drawing Guernica on an Etch-A-Sketch; as Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., writes, “There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness and terror involved in this kind of madness.” I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder immediately prior to my freshman year at Yale University.

I read in the New York Times that the child of a parent with bipolar disorder is thirteen times more likely to develop the disorder than one of parents who do not. A piece in the online magazine Salon about madness and motherhood, written by a woman with bipolar disorder, evoked the following reader responses: “I grew up with a bipolar mother, and it made my childhood nightmarish”; “Someone who is mentally unstable enough to require psychotropics should NOT, under any circumstances, even consider having a child.” I read all sixty-eight comments. These, I remember.



I plan to combine my love of writing with my passion for photography to create a photoessay book, entitled Enitens: The Day-to-Day of Bipolar Disorder (Latin, essentially, for "the act of trying harder"). The photographs in the book will be professionally printed. Example photos might include different methods of tracking medications, portraits of interview subjects, and portraits of couples dealing with the illness. (See for examples of my photography.) I plan to spend my final year in my MFA Writing program writing these essays and taking these photographs.


Much of the money will be for buying a Canon 40D and a 4 gig flash card. (Mine was, I believe, stolen from a Burger King near Sacramento.) ETA: Due to issues of first rights and copyright, I am no longer able to distribute the finished product myself. However, any remaining money will be invested toward the book and its publication; 25% of the royalties of the book will be donated to mental-health related charities, which the backers will help me decide. In the case that the book never be picked up by a publisher, I will print Enitens myself and distribute it for the purposes of Backer Rewards.


With almost 60 days left, and having already reached/surpassed our goal, I'm amending my dream to buying a more high-quality camera (Canon 5D -- professional grade). A Canon 5D is approximately $2,649. Will we make it? Time will tell!"


It's something like 4:30 am and I just had another jarring dream that shook me awake. There are logical reasons for dreams such as these - I've always had an active imagination, maybe it was the dinner I ate last night, maybe it is because of a post I wrote a few days ago about moving on and not comparing every person I meet to the person I lost.

In any case, I need to justify and understand why I still have these insane dreams where he pops up all over the place and causes the dream Sharon to completely lose it. I've done some pretty hilarious and wrenching things in these dreams. Maybe they are things that I wished or wish that I could do in real life.

I need to explain to myself why I think I can start over fresh and that I wouldn't let something in the past hold me back anymore. If this is true, if this is something I believe even at 4:30 am, then why do I still have these crazy dreams?

I think dreams are just a product of your subconscious exercising and doing some random stretches. I don't think they mean anything.

To be honest, sometimes I feel uncomfortable with putting myself out here. Once in awhile, I wonder if I've said too much or compromised my safety in some way or I've exposed myself to be a giant hypocrite and now it's public.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wormhole Project

Please check this out. Caroline Chang is my lovely cousin and a mighty fine writer. I'll definitely be there on October 3. You should come, too!!!

WORMHOLE is a writing/audio/thought experiment by Caroline Chang and Kyoung Kim running throughout September 2009 at The project will culminate in the opening of an Official Wormhole on October 3rd, 2009 between Los Angeles and Seoul, Korea at Soundwalk LA.

WORMHOLE involves quite a bit of experimenting in mad-cap-inventor fashion, and we hope you will join us, trying and sharing your own wormhole tests and thoughts on our blog and/or in your own clever way.

Caroline & Kyoung



Wormhole is a writing/audio/thought experiment in which collaborators Caroline Chang and Kyoung Kim will open a wormhole between Long Beach, CA and Seoul, Korea* on October 3rd, 2009 during SoundWalk through which the public can travel. Using the space and time of SoundWalk, corresponding maps of Long Beach and Seoul with similar physical constants will be created making a wormhole that the two can navigate through and have similar experiences. A record of these experiences through phone conversations will be streamed to the public.


As defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, a wormhole is “a theoretical distortion of space-time in a region of the universe that would link one location or time with another, through a path that is shorter in distance or duration than would otherwise be expected.” We view wormholes – the idea of being in two places at the same time, of shortcuts in the space time continuum – as the stuff of science fiction. But in actuality, we move through wormholes all the time – with cellphones, internet, radio, live video. In this day and age, we aurally, visually, spatially exist in and on multiple planes all the time with technology. Likewise, despite the many differences that can be found in architecture and geography from place to place, the present day urban spaces we inhabit offer similar enough standardized elements (e.g. asphalt roads, buildings made of similar construction materials, similar urban planning elements), that offer a sense of dejavu and adds to our ability to wormhole. By playing with these elements, Wormhole highlights and considers trends of how we use communication technology and standardization.
Though places and people never exist wholly parallel, breaking symmetry, there are physical constants that we have created for ourselves to defy space and time. When we make a phone call from Long Beach to Seoul, we are creating a wormhole through the electromagnetic waves and the invisible audio of voices, a new singular space in between the two cities where two people can share the same spacetime. Physical markers in our landscapes, our human need to create strong emergent similar systems, creates more visceral wormholes. Two disparate locales, a street in Long Beach and a street in Seoul for example, can be similar enough where a wormhole is created and be a touching point between two different universes. We are constantly wormholing like this existing in these created limbo spacetimes, sharing the same space with people but not quite being there with them. It is a need that extends beyond ourselves, an urge to make our reach far beyond our physical limits but that what we do here and now affects something else someplace else.


The Wormhole project begins with Caroline who will be residing in Los Angeles and Kyoung who will be residing in Seoul and will aim to create a wormhole on the day of SoundWalk and between the space of SoundWalk and Seoul. In order to find/create this wormhole, prior to the event date, Caroline will describe the space of SoundWalk aurally and textually (no visuals) via regular email correspondence. The space of SoundWalk will be the skeleton template for the wormhole as it is a temporary space as well, from streets and rooms to linked art event. In turn Kyoung will find and map a similar space in Seoul which corresponds to Caroline’s descriptions and add further details back to Caroline where she will then find similar details at SoundWalk. These correspondences will occur until both have found enough physical constants to create a wormhole wherein both can draw a map that creates seemingly parallel universes.

During the SoundWalk art event, Caroline and Kyoung will “spend a day” or the duration of SoundWalk in the wormhole with each other, encountering the physical constants on the map while talking on the phone. The two will encounter the same ground, the same landscapes, the same plants, the same people, the same eateries, the same shops, etc. and do similar but slightly different things. The conversation will be recorded and then shared through streaming podcast or radio throughout the event. SoundWalk goers can eavesdrop on the wormhole conversations and the time spent together through the website or other means such as radios placed throughout the event sites. By using the event, Caroline and Kyoung will create a wormhole that allows the two of them to exist in the same space without actually being in the same literal space. Listeners will also be able to exist in the wormhole as they will be able to encounter the same spaces as Caroline and Kyoung are moving through them.

For more information, email

*originally between Long Beach and New York

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Welcome to the Hangover Cafe

Today, my friends and I were sprawled on the living room floor, watching Sunday morning football and clutching our empty, nauseated stomachs. Each of us tried to convince the other to go out and pick up lunch for the rest of us. If only there was a one stop shop where we could pick up all of our comforting hangover cure foods in a single swoop. I'd like pho with a side of hamburger, I joked.

I'd call it the Hangover Cafe. The lighting would be muted, the music would be soft. All orders would come with a side of Advil and a gallon of water. Is there such a place in real life?! I googled the phrase. The only thing bearing the same name was a rock radio station show ( To my knowledge, there is no real "Hangover Cafe"!

My hangover cafe menu would include the following:

Chicken soup
Dumplings with vinegar
Scrambled eggs
Eggs over easy
Soon du bu
Hae jang gook
Bim bim bap

Different dishes to please every palate and every culture. Yum!

What is your ultimate hangover cure food?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sumac, the lab and pitbull terrier mix!

I've been scouring petfinder for several months. I've tagged a few animals but this is the one that I keep going back to...

The description is from the petfinder website:

"When I'm with my human family I love to be their sidekick. I have fun with other dogs, but have much more fun doing training and playing with my people. Training is my favorite game. I have had a really good start in life after I got to my foster home and know that good behavior gets me good rewards. Treats are fine and all, but my favorite reward is your love! I love to play with my ropes and sometimes with balls, but my favorite toys are always the ones that you'll play with me with. I'm not too picky! I make my family laugh when I am able to predict when I need a bath. I LOVE to play, but I know I get pretty dirty sometimes. I'm pretty self-aware of my hygiene because when I get to the point where I need a bath, I walk right up to the tub and jump in. It's like magic--when I jump in, my humans clean me! I love baths and feeling so fresh afterward! My favorite game with my canine friends is chase, although I do like to play tug sometimes with my older foster sister. Like I said earlier, though, I do prefer the humans. When the other dogs get to play in the yard together for playdates, I prefer to sit on the porch and get love from the people. Other types of animals I've met include cats and a turkey and when I interact with them I am curious, but keep my distance. Sometimes I like to play kitty cleaning time where the cat and I lick each others faces. I only do that with the friendly cat, though--the other cat doesn't like me very much, so I'm pretty respectful and I give her the space she needs. Trust me, I'm working on the potty thing. People tell me that Im more adoptable if I know things. Here are the commands that Ive already learned - my name, sit, lay down, stay, off, out, leave it, shake, touch, and wave. Right now I'm working on learning 'sit pretty', where I sit up on my back legs and a 'roll over'. I LOVE LOVE LOVE training. It's my favorite and whoever adopts me would have a great time continuing that with me. I know a good amount of commands, but I also know my manners like walking well on leash, sitting and waiting for my meals, and always sitting and staying quiet if I need something. My foster family knows me pretty well and they think the perfect family for me would be one that would like to learn more about training with me. I am a VERY quick learner and would love to do doggy sports classes someday if you'll let me. My foster family also thinks you should be prepared for a cuddler--that's what they say I am! Geez - I almost forgot to tell you that when I came into our program I was only one week old and very very sick. Me, my mom, and my littermates had a bad skin infection and my mom didn't have any milk for us. We got into a foster homes, and were brought back to great health. I'm now very, very healthy, but I do still have skin that is a little sensitive. All that means is when you give me baths, the shampoo shouldn't be too strong and that sort of thing."

How can you not go "awwwwwwwwww" from a description like that?!!!! I think I'm in love!

Monday, September 7, 2009

What kind of dog should I get?

I've been researching different dog breeds for several months now. There's so much to consider - each dog's individual personality, health issues, training, food, exercise, shelter, vet visits, etc. I never realized how much work went into taking care of a dog. The more I research, the more confused I get. The only thing I know for sure is that I'd adopt the dog from a shelter.

So far, I've narrowed down my ideal dog to three choices, based on various factors:

#1 - Golden Retriever

#2 - Dachshund

and #3, my favorite so far: Norwich Terrier

Which dog do you like the most? Why?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

aftermath of a breakup

Today, I can contemplate a future without you and I am just as happy. I still think about you and still believe in your worth. It's time for me to move on, to hold onto a happy heart, to not feel guilty when I'm tasting a luxurious dessert or swimming in the ocean or just enjoying life.

I want to start over fresh. I still have a lot of moments where I feel like I can do it, but then I revert and crash and feel ashamed and weak. I hear a song that brings me to hidden tears. Just the mere hint of you and I'm shattered. It's hard to keep that under wraps, to pretend that I'm fine and to put up a nonchalant front, to hold things in and to deny, deny, deny. It's hard to hold everything in and to not talk about it because I'm afraid. And it's not fair to anyone else because they are competing with the ghost of a relationship. I wouldn't want to be second-best, either.

I learned that I really don't need anything else. I've got me, I've got my ambitions and ideals, I've got a pocketful of family and good friends, and I have the memory of a wonderful and sad and awful and chaotic love.

For the first time, I can really understand why my aunt, my brilliant, hippie, tenured Berkeley professor of an aunt, has never married and yet still lives a full life and is now retiring to Hawaii. My family used to pity her. Now I can celebrate her for living a fulfilling life.

Maybe it seems like I'm the epitome of one of those starkly feminist women, the ones that don't ever need men. That's not true. I'm open to someone interesting and wonderful and happy. It's just that he doesn't have to live in your shadow anymore.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I've sent this picture to just about every female I know, but I still need to post it for all to see:


I can't stop laughing at their hilarious expressions, especially the toddler. Also, I loveloveLOVE the fact that the older kid is using tampons as tiger claws. Someday, I hope to have children who will do silly, inventive, and hilarious things like that. When it does happen, I'm going to snap tons of pictures so that every time they talk back to me, I can find new ways to humiliate them. I can't wait!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


A heat wave descended upon Southern California last week. It was the perfect weather for the beach. I spent a glorious weekend in La Jolla and Coronado. On Saturday, I "taught" my friends how to boogie-board. On Sunday, Andrea, my classmate and friend, and I spent FOUR hours straight in the water. Water warriors!!! Now I've got some toasty almond color in my skin.

A few days later, I got food poisoning from some bad milk and a homemade donut. No, I did not make the donut myself. I snagged it on my first day at work (job #2). I can already tell that I will enjoy working there. The staff is very nice and the clients are adorable. Another plus is that the food there is FREE and it rocks. Today, I ate my weight in toasted bagels and homemade pastries.

Anyway, I felt much better today. The world seems like such a better place when you're not hovering over the toilet or lying on the bathroom ground waiting for the next wave of nausea to hit. Right now, I'm in bed with a steaming bowl of soup, watching a cheesy soap opera and shrieking with laughter.

I just wanted to remember this moment, that's all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lhasa, anyone?

I'm in a bit of a rut, figuring out my next step. Thankfully, I don't feel as restless as I did when I was a bit younger. I think I'm just trying to find a place that feels like home.

I've discovered that I'm happiest when I have plans and goals in mind. So while I plan my next career move, I'm simultaneously setting a new, non-career-related target so that I have something else to work toward and look forward to.

I decided that I'm going to go to Hong Kong and Tibet some time in the next two years. I don't know how or when but it will happen!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I have a lot of respect for my grandmother. She worked as a history teacher when most women living in the Qingdao area (China, same as the beer) were not even educated. She played basketball in high school. She escaped the Communists by dressing in a soldier's uniform and moving to Taiwan. She is intelligent, strong-willed, healthy and disciplined. She's the kind of lady who solves problems and gets things done.

Unfortunately, she started to go blind a few years ago due to glaucoma. It was really difficult for her to learn to relinquish control. It's been difficult for us to see her deteriorate physically and mentally. She lives a few hours away from me, in the same senior citizen center she has lived for several decades, because she knows exactly how many steps it takes to go from one point to another. She still insists on cooking for us.

This weekend was her 90th birthday (in Chinese years). We congregated in her tiny apartment, uprooted her from her schedule, and planned our weekend around restaurants. I haven't eaten this well since... well, since the last time I went home, but I'll save my food descriptions for a different entry.

Since the onset of the glaucoma, my grandma was forced to stop painting and writing calligraphy, two hobbies that she used to enjoy immensely. For her birthday, she wanted to write some characters for us to frame and keep. We helped her line up the words, soak the brush in ink, and place the brush in the correct starting position.

She was sweating from the effort it took to write. If you focus on the wall, you can see the calligraphy that she wrote before she went blind.

I guess I'm trying to hold onto as much of her as I can, while I still can. Part of the reason why I am so obsessed with improving my Chinese is because I want to finally tell her what's in my heart.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I've been doing a lot of fun and novel things, like snorkeling, eating cake for dinner (twice!), sleeping in until an embarassing hour. Next thing on the list was making and eating our version of Luigi's pizza. Luigi's is a local pizza joint where my classmates and I used to go after studying ( When the going gets tough, the tough get going... to Luigi's!

Richard, my friend and classmate got his hands on the recipe for Luigi's Spinach-Ricotta Thin-Crust Pizza and suggested that we try making it from scratch. (

Although Disha did all the work while Richard and I watched, we all took credit for what turned out to be a fabulous, crunchy, amazing pizza. I was so pleased with the results that I posted the recipe below:

Luigi's Spinach-Ricotta Thin-Crust Pizza
Makes 2 (12-inch) pizzas

1 (0.25-ounce) packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups water, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

3 ounces fresh spinach
4 ounces ricotta (we used about twice as much ricotta)
8 to 10 ounces mozzarella
1/8 cup grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, chopped (all three of us like garlic a lot, so we added about 3x the amount of garlic that the recipe suggested + granulated garlic)

Dissolve yeast in water and add sugar. Mix well and set aside. Place flour in mixing bowl. Return to water and add the salt and mix well.

With your fingers, make a small well in the flour and slowly pour about a third of the water into the well. Mix with one hand. Add another third of the water and continue to mix. Add remaining water. Work the dough with your hands until it is smooth and firm and still a little sticky. This could take about 10 minutes. (If you are using a mixer with a dough hook, mix in about 1 cup of the water to begin with. If the dough, once mixed, seems too dry, add the remaining water.)

Cut the dough in half. For a true thin-crust pizza, the dough should weigh about 11 to 12 ounces. For a slightly thicker crust, 14 ounces is good. Knead the dough for a few minutes, form it into a ball and seal the bottom.

Place the dough on a plate and cover with a smooth, damp towel and let rise for about 25 minutes. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 15 to 20 minutes. When you take it out of the refrigerator, dough can be used right away. Alternatively, you can leave it covered in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes. Flour both sides and put it on the countertop. Flatten the dough with your hands and use your fingers to create a rim. Continue using the heels of your hands to flatten and stretch the dough to form a 12-inch disk. You can also use a rolling pin.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. (If using a stone, preheat it for about 45 minutes to an hour.) Lightly oil a metal pizza pan and place the dough on the pan. Top first with mozzarella, then parmesan. Scatter spinach leaves on top of cheese and dot with spoonfuls of ricotta. Last, scatter chopped garlic. (If using a stone, place the pizza on a floured pizza peel, add toppings and then slide the pizza directly onto the stone.)

Bake for about 10 minutes. Check the underside of the pizza and the edge of the crust to make sure it is golden brown. Leave pizza in oven longer if it is not brown enough.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

new words

I'm watching a really dumb Chinese drama/comedy about a group of high school students. It is so awful that even my stomach cringes! However, the upside is that I'm learning how to say a lot of new words in Chinese. Here's a list of new words that I can add to my growing arsenal:

band of outlaws
swear ("promising")

I really hope that I never have to use any of these words (except for the last one).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some of the Jobs that I Applied to Today

My leftover student loans and current part-time job leaves me with barely enough money for gas and food, so it's up to me to find a way to make that paycheck stretch for longer. I've been looking for another temporary job to hold me over and I'm starting to get desparate.

I hope that divulging this information won't come back to haunt me, but it's too funny to pass up. I think this is a testament to my hilarious (non)employment situation: Some of the Jobs that I Applied to Today (and no, I did not apply to these jobs in jest).

1. Groomer at dog daycare center
2. International hostel graveyard shift security guard
3. Mexican gift shop employee
4. Yacht worker

Sometimes I feel like my life is a nonstop sitcom played for laughs.


I spent all weekend watching bad Chinese dramas, so I decided to up the ante by testing my reading skills. Today I went to a Chinese bookstore, determined to buy something that I could limp my way through.

The bookstore employee pointed me to some children's books, which were too easy. She pointed to some novels, which were too intimidating. Finally, she directed me to the comic books area. As I slowly picked my way through, I could feel her eyes boring two holes into the back of my skull. I actually broke into a cold sweat because I didn't know where to start.

Now, I'd like to think that I can appreciate different types of art. Japanese animation should be no exception. I'll admit that I have watched my share of anime because it appeals to my inner escapist. But crouching there, sifting through shelves and shelves of comic books, I felt like a giant pervert. Each comic book I picked up featured a scantily-clad girl with breasts the size of air balloons. I started to wonder, where do we draw the line between art and pornography? I guess it just depends on the individual and the intended audience.

I did finally purchase a few comic books that did not feature any naked women stretched out over the cover. Mission accomplished!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

nothing is for sure and nothing is certain

I had another dream last night. It was one of those punched-in-the-stomach kind of dreams, the kind that leaves you slightly winded and thinking a little too much. I won't get into the nitty gritty details, except that it involved English class and a pretend transfer student from USC Business School who actually lives in SF in real life.

I blame this dream on watching (500) Days of Summer. When I think about each nuance of the dream, it starts to make sense. I think dreams are like shimmering tapestries of slippery memories, quirky details, and past traumas. Sometimes, they are hard to shake off. Sometimes I think that they are hard to shake off because I don't want to forget.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


My original plan was to begin my part-time job last Monday, as soon as I was done with the bar. I'd take a weekend off to relax, and then get my life right back on track. However, my career counselor and several former classmates urged me to take at least a week off. You're probably feeling burned out, they said. You need a break. My career counselor promptly sent me home and told me not to come back for a week. "You need to learn how to relax," she said. "You law students and your type-A personalities. Not everything in life is go-go-go."

So while our dean sets the funding process into place, I've got a few weeks to do this thing called "relax." When I was studying and working and dreaming of a chance to take a breather, I wrote a list of things I'd do if I had free time. And guess what? I've already run through most of the list. At this rate, I will be able to write contracts in Chinese by December.

There are so many worse things in the world than to be bored on a beautiful Wednesday. That's a luxury that most people can't afford.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Sometimes I wonder if personality characteristics or traits spring from somewhere deep inside ourselves, or if they are just given to us via family and friends through brainwashing. When I was a kid, my parents designated me as the loud, silly, clumsy one in the family because I seemed to possess no fear of danger or death (or any nerve endings, for that matter). I swung from palm trees, fell off several large structures, spent a summer perfecting a trick that consisted of jumping off a moving bike.

I don't see myself as clumsy person, but maybe I have a skewed perception of myself. I have to consider that I've sliced my face with a metal fence and I've broken three teeth in Andorra (a tiny country sandwiched between Spain and France). Surprisingly, I've broken no bones (yet - knock on wood).

So it's no surprise to me that this is the second time I've given myself a black eye. The first time involved snowboarding and my goggles ramming into my eye when I fell on my face. I wish there was a very cool accompanying story for this particular incident, but there isn't. I walked into the career counselor's office and she asked, somewhat jokingly, if I was a victim of domestic violence. No, I had to admit. I was a victim of the car door. Yes, I am 26 years old, and I can't seem to close the car door properly without swinging it into my face.

Luckily, all these years of accidents and injuries have transformed my thinking in a positive manner. Whenever something bad happens, I just wince, chuckle, and think about how much worse it could have been. If I had swung that car door into my face just an inch higher, I might be blind in my left eye!

Another upside: I have a very fierce looking cut under my left eye, like a miniature eye. I don't know if it looks more football player-ish or cyclops-ish. People are afraid to talk to me and I feel very tough and silly.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"What's next?"

Everyone has been asking me about the bar, if I've passed, what I'm going to do now with my life. Here's a general update:

Have you ever been to a racetrack before? (I swear, there is a point to this sudden jump.) Have you ever watched the movie "Seabiscuit"? Have you ever noticed the funny eyewear that racehorses wear? Racehorses wear blinders, which are also known as blinkers or winkers. According to wikipedia, blinders are pieces of horse tack that restrict the horse's vision to the rear and to the side. Many racehorse trainers believe this keeps the horse focused on what is in front of him, encouraging him to pay attention to the race rather than other distractions.

Anyway, that's what studying for the bar and taking the three day exam felt like for me. I felt like a racehorse wearing blinders. I zoned out the rest of the world. I didn't know or care about what was going on outside of Barbri. I counted my days according to which subject I was studying, not which day of the week. Mondays were no longer Mondays; they became "Constitutional Law practice set 2 and 3 + California Evidence practice essays." I didn't dare go to a coffeeshop to study, because I didn't want any distractions. I memorized 15 subjects, to the point where one word could trigger 30 pages.

I was pretty calm throughout the whole process. About a week before the bar, subjects suddenly fell into place. All the subjects connected. It was a very cool, numbing feeling, like mental menthol.

The actual bar itself was held at the San Diego Convention Center. Picture a thousand students lined up in perfect rows, with a gray-haired proctor watching each row. Each student was assigned a seat and a number. I expected to see some meltdowns but there weren't any. Apparently, there were a lot of people who didn't show up and one guy behind me who left after the first hour and didn't come back, but I didn't pay attention to anyone but myself.

Barbri prepared us well. Of course, I don't know much about the other bar exam preparation courses out there. I know that Barbri is probably the most expensive, but I think it's worth it. The bar presented some surprises, but for the most part, I did what I was programmed to do. By this time, I was used to sitting for 6 hours at a time without getting up, so sitting for three hours really wasn't so bad at all. They melted away quickly.

I don't get the results until November 20, so until then, I'm focused on starting this new chapter of my life. I'm excited and happy and nervous to see what happens!

I start a part-time job at a nonprofit elder law organization in a few weeks. The job is temporary and will hold me over for a few months until I find something more permanent. The attorneys, staff, and clients there are truly wonderful people and I can't wait to return.

In the meantime, I plan on watching hours of mindless television, cooking a lot, painting, going to a Padres game, snorkeling in La Jolla cove, hiking in Torrey Pines, attending my grandma's 90th (!) birthday, and having lots of mini-adventures.

Although I'd love to travel, I decided to hold off until I'm in a more financially secure situation. Since a bar trip was out of the question for me, I decided to do some armchair traveling instead. I've been working through J. Maarten Troost's trio of books. Currently, I'm on his third book, "Lost on Planet China." There are a lot of laugh-out-loud parts.

This weekend, I watched three movies: "Tulpan," "Irina Palm," and "Mister Lonely." I highly recommend all three. "Tulpan" reminded me of what it felt like to be on the Mongolian steppes (although it is set in Kazakhstan).

I'm also embarking on my "Chinese Project." I've been meaning to brush up on my Chinese for a long time. I hate to admit it, but my parents were right. I should have paid attention in Chinese school when I was growing up, instead of using my Friday nights to gossip with friends. I know approximately 100 words right now. There are about 20,000 Chinese characters. I need to know about 7,000 to understand educated Chinese. If I learn two words a day, that's 730 words a year. If I keep that up, in less than 10 years, I will reach my goal (and maybe I will have paid off most of my growing student debt as well). I'm going to start with the important words: the food words. Right now, I can pick out words like "chicken" and "green" but I can barely order from a menu. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, I will be able to read out of a Chinese cookbook!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

one more day left

almost there! :) Thanks for all of the support!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Recurring Shopping Dream

I've always had an active imagination and a hyperactive subconscious. When I was a child, most of my dreams were peppered with flying and fighting bad guys. In the last two months, I've been struck by a recurring nightmare. I call it "The Recurring Shopping Dream."

I have a recurring nightmare in which I found myself wandering a mall in a state of panic and helplessness.

I know this sounds hilarious and it's a silly thing to have nightmares about. For most women I know, spending a lazy afternoon skimming through a clothes rack would be more enjoyable than not. My sister and I are probably the only people in the whole world who harbor secret shopping fears. I'm sure this is all tied into our upbringing. That's good old-fashioned Catholic + Chinese mother guilt for ya!

The Recurring Shopping Dream is my only indication that I'm nervous about the upcoming test. Many of my classmates have commented about how calm I appear. I assure you it's just a sham. Deep down inside, I'm just a quivering mass of nerves. The trick is not to admit to it. The trick is to push it so deep down that it only manifests itself in silly shopping dreams. Haha. Ok, just kidding. The trick is to keep your eyes on the prize, to stay away from nervous people, and to enjoy the experience for what it is.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I wish I was at Comic-Con! :( Sigh.

One of my classmates is there right now. His excuse is that he needs to "check out the test site" ahead of time. Liarface!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


This morning, I woke up and wandered sleepily into the living room. I noticed a towel tacked onto the wall. Curious, I removed it…

and found myself face to face with a GIANT GAPING HOLE.

Apparently, my roommate’s brilliant boyfriend and friend accidentally “fell” into the wall while they horsing around, drunk, last night.

As you can imagine, I was quite pissed. I yelled for awhile at my roommate, she expressed remorse, and then I stormed away to the library. I was fuming, I am still fuming. I probably shouldn’t even be blogging right now because it’s time for me to buckle down and study, but I need to get this off my chest.

I’m not fuming just because there is a hole in the wall. Holes can be fixed and what is done is done. I’m not just mad at myself for yelling at her and probably doing the irreparable damage to our friendship.

I am mad because she is beautiful and smart and sweet, and she is dating a douche. Her love life has all the makings of the next hit country music song.

I know that I’ve already overstepped my bounds by writing about her like this, so I’ll segue into the real meat of this entry. How many of us have friends like this? Friends who find themselves trapped in toxic relationships. Friends who are hoping and waiting around for their significant others to “change” while their friends and family watch them, nervously.

I write this as someone who used to be the one that someone else hoped would someday “change.” I truly believe that people can change, but there’s a caveat. People will only change when they decide to change. You can’t wish understanding and wisdom onto someone. You can’t force your values on someone else. You can’t force someone to care. Most of all, you can’t wait around for the Maturity Magic Wand to hit them. Sometimes it’s better to cut your losses, heal, and hope that the person will get there, someday.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rocky time!

The bar is like a hazing ritual - ask any lawyer about it and he or she will offer sympathy, advice, and horror stories. The California Bar is a three day exam that consists of 6 hours of multiple choice, 6 hours of exam writing, and 6 hours of performance tests. General opinion in the legal community is that California is the toughest bar exam in the United States.

Everyone has been asking how I'm doing, so I wanted to let you all know that I'm doing great. Really! :)

I think it all boils down to cultivating a good mentality and knowing what works for me. Unlike most people, I actually looked forward to studying for the bar. Sure, I groaned like the rest, but I was ready for it. When is there any other time in my life that I'll be able to drop everything, study like a madwoman, and ignore all distractions?

Quite a few of my classmates have begun to succumb to nerves and freak outs. I can understand how they feel. I had my minor freak out moment in early June while I was watching the Pixar movie Up. The feeling lasted less than a minute but reminded me of how I felt, four years ago, when I took the LSAT. Taking the LSAT was one of the worst experiences of my life. As soon as the proctor placed the test on my desk, I succumbed to nerves and almost ran screaming out of the room. The only reason I stayed was because my friend happened to be taking the test in the same room and I was too proud to show her that I was scared shitless. I don't even remember answering the questions. It's a miracle that I got into University of San Diego.

Anyway, the LSAT incident taught me the power of perseverance and the importance of learning from past mistakes. I was too wound up from studying and from everyone else's advice. To prepare for the LSAT, I was eating fish every day (to boost my brain power), gulping down vitamins (to keep me from getting sick), exercising like a lunatic (to ward off stress), constantly listening to Yo Yo Ma (to calm myself down with classical music), and going to church (to pray, just in case). It was too much.

Anyway, I got home from watching Up and realized that if I wasn't careful, I'd experience an LSAT-type of freak out again. And here's the thing... I've gone through three years of law school. I've gone through much worse in life and I will endure much more in the future. I realized that my problem was that I had to accept that I couldn't control everything.

Ok, I admit it - I am a control freak. But now I accept that I can't control whether or not the guy sitting next to me will shake the desk when he fills in multiple choice bubbles. I can't control the amount of omega-3 fatty oils that my brain and heart will absorb. I can't control how sunny it will be on the day of the test.

Of course, don't get me wrong. I control what I can control. There's no substitute for putting in the hours and the effort. I haven't gone to the gym in a month. I had class on July 4th. I study 7 days a week because even taking a day off feels wrong. I do get frustrated from time to time. The library is a boring place. I haven't seen some friends in months. But I enjoy studying because there is something refreshing about tackling each subject systematically and seeing how they are all intertwined.

Sometimes when I'm in a good studying groove, I picture that I'm in a movie, having a Rocky moment. The camera is rolling behind my shoulder and there's upbeat music playing in the background and I'm pumping my arms up into the air because YES YES YES! I AM A CHAMPION! And I'm in control of my imagination.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

a time to sew

Almost a year ago, when I was in Mongolia, my coworker Bolormaa asked me to do an impromptu book exchange. I gave her The Twenty-Seventh City by Jonathan Franzen (of The Corrections fame); she handed me The Zahir by Paulo Coehlo.

I think Bolormaa got the book exchange idea because while she was studying for her advanced law degree in an Indian university, she lived in a hostel where students frequently swapped books. I liked the idea that her copy of The Zahir had traveled from far away, falling into different hands and minds along the way.

Anyway, I read the book in my little room in Ulanbataar and reread it again while camping near Khusvgal Lake, near the Russian border. For me, it was the right book at the right time. The book is about a writer who becomes obsessed with the disappearance of his wife and who eventually travels to Kazakhstan, a country that barely grazes western Mongolia. I drew more than a few parallels from the novel - I myself had traveled to Mongolia because I was consumed by a recent failed relationship.

There's a passage where the lovelorn writer in The Zahir makes a speech about relationships. He says,

"... I had lunch with a friend who had just got divorced and she said to me: 'Now I can enjoy the freedom I've always dreamed of having.' But that's a lie. No one wants that kind of freedom: we all want commitment, we all want someone to be beside us to enjoy the beauties of Geneva, to discuss books, interviews, films, or even to share a sandwich with because there isn't enough money to buy one each. Better to eat half a sandwich than a whole one...

I'm telling you all this because, although in Ecclesiastes it says there is a time to rend and a time to sew, sometimes the time to rend leaves deep scars. Being with someone else and making that person feel as if they were of no importance in our life is far worse than feeling alone and miserable in the streets of Geneva."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"I'd rather be doing MBE problems"

My review:

Confession: I wanted to like "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."

I'm not pretending to be some sort of movie buff/snob. I enjoy many summer movies for what they are - entertaining, mindless fun. But that doesn't mean I enjoy being hit over the head repeatedly.

It was Saturday night. We had already spent most of our beautiful Saturday in another class and a few fruitless hours at the library. So two of my classmates and I decided to take some time off studying and watch the new Transformers movie.

Anyway, here's the quick summary - Shia, our dorky young hero, is all set to go to college when Optimus Prime calls on him. Optimus Prime sacrifices himself to save Shia. Shia's mission is to resurrect Optimus Prime with fairy dust. Everyone wins, robot butts are kicked.

Alas, even Megan Fox's piercing green eyes and push-up bra couldn't save it. I think Richard summed it up best when, half way through the movie, he whispered to us, "I'd rather be doing MBE problems."

First, the positives: the transforming machines were kind of fun.


Sorry, that's all I've got.

I felt bad for the robots. I started to pray that movie would be over soon, that Shia would never reach Optimus Prime, and that someone would put these poor robots out of their misery.

It was as though Michael Bay needed to beef up the script by throwing in every teenage movie cliche possible: Boy must embrace his destiny as a leader. Boy tries to run away from destiny. Mom eats pot brownie and embarrasses boy. Parents keep popping up at heart-wrenching moments for some good ol' fashioned bonding. Boy and girl refuse to say "I love you to each other." Boy "dies" and girl screams "I love you." Boy wakes up from stupor and says "I love you" back. Passionate kissing ensues. There were so many cringe-worthy scenes that I spent most of my three hours in the fetal position.

Richard and I decided to write and exchange reviews of the movie. See below for his hilarious review:

Richard's review:

"For those of you who don't know, I have been studying for the bar for the better part of 6 weeks. This is an all consuming experience, and basically means I put in 9 am-9 pm days everyday, memorizing law in the hopes I pass. I wanted a break this weekend so I decided to take Saturday night off. I put in 3 hours of studying and called it a night. I went out to dinner with my family and thought... "Hey, why not see a movie?" So with my little brother and 2 classmates in tow I watched "Transformers 2: Megan Fox runs in slow motion a lot."

I wasted a perfectly good evening. But first the pros. Megan Fox is still very pretty, and she prances around a lot in booty shorts, skin tight jeans and stares seductively in the camera pouting her lips. Excellent. Now for everything else. Let me say, I would have been more fulfilled covering the tv screen with Vaseline, putting a paper bag over my head and popping in a porno and turning it on mute. Where do I even start? First, Tyrese reprises his role and is basically stuck making obvious. It's like the directors had no idea what to do with black actors. The jive talking robots are something you need to see to believe. It makes Jar Jar Binks look like Nelson Mandela. Also, the whole draw of this movie is watching kick ass robots beat the crap out of each other. All the transformers are this gray-steel color, so in the end, all the fight scenes look like a jumbled mess. You could get the same effect if you imagine throwing a washing machine into a ball pit, but the pit is filled with dented soup cans instead of plastic balls.

Good god. And the dialogue. The "dialogue." Essentially, if you commissioned a 14 year old boy to write love poems, you'd get half the result with this script. I kid you not, half the movie is about waiting for Shia Lebouf to say "I love you" to Megan Fox. Also, there is pixie dust and robot heaven. I'll let you figure that one out for yourself. The movie is also 2 1/2 hours long. That's about 45 minutes too long, especially when all you want to see is robots fighting and Megan Fox. You get to see her underwear by the way, so that was pretty awesome. Speaking of that scene...ugh, just watch it, I think it was a showcase for the Charlotte Russe fall collection, Megan Fox made 3 wardrobe changes in 2 minutes. I know it's difficult to rationalize and conceptualize. Just watch it and you will be baffled as me.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being horrible, 5 being awesome and 10 being horrible again, I give this movie a "how the hell is a student price ticket $10.50" stars."

And see Charlie Jane Ander's review, which might possibly be one of the funniest reviews I've ever read: "Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A&E Factory Service - acronym for "Abominable and Extremely bad service"

A&E Factory Service claims that it is a "nationwide leader in product repair service that provides a professional and enjoyable repair experience." I urge A&E Factory Service to refrain from misleading the unfortunate people who come across their website. My experience with A&E Factory Service was far from professional and enjoyable. Definitely, I will never use their services again.

I scheduled an appointment with A&E Factory Service to fix my washing machine. The technician spoke to me rudely and rescheduled me several times. I waited for four hours and he never showed up or bothered to call in the end and let me know what time he would arrive. He claimed there was no parking in the area even though I could see several parking spots.

A&E Factory Service is staffed with several customer representatives who lack common sense and sound as though they read from scripts. I spoke with four different customer representatives who failed to address my questions adequately. I am extremely disappointed with the poor service and the lack of professionalism.

As one final slap, A&E Factory Service also charges a $70 service fee, even if the technician is unable to fix your problem.

Shame on you, A&E. Shame on you.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Evelyn Hsieh, my friend and recent Columbia Journalism School grad, writes a thought-provoking piece about what it means to be "black" in America:

Students Define "Black" On Ivy League Campuses

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Sometimes my mom is too, too cute.

"I'm glad you wrote to us. Because I tried to call you an hour ago. Somehow, I thought about the poor cat Waffles' swollen front paw. Then, I was smiling at the cute bunny picture that you sent me. Did you see the 'little girl and a penguin' picture that I sent you and Kristin? Her smile reminds me of you when you were her age." Mom

Monday, June 8, 2009

Waffles the Cat

Poor Waffles was stung by a bee! Guess which foot was injured?


"The Joy of Less" by Pico Iyer

“The beat of my heart has grown deeper, more active, and yet more peaceful, and it is as if I were all the time storing up inner riches…My [life] is one long sequence of inner miracles.” The young Dutchwoman Etty Hillesum wrote that in a Nazi transit camp in 1943, on her way to her death at Auschwitz two months later. Towards the end of his life, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen,” though by then he had already lost his father when he was 7, his first wife when she was 20 and his first son, aged 5. In Japan, the late 18th-century poet Issa is celebrated for his delighted, almost child-like celebrations of the natural world. Issa saw four children die in infancy, his wife die in childbirth, and his own body partially paralyzed.

In the corporate world, I always knew there was some higher position I could attain, which meant that, like Zeno’s arrow, I was guaranteed never to arrive and always to remain dissatisfied.

I’m not sure I knew the details of all these lives when I was 29, but I did begin to guess that happiness lies less in our circumstances than in what we make of them, in every sense. “There is nothing either good or bad,” I had heard in high school, from Hamlet, “but thinking makes it so.” I had been lucky enough at that point to stumble into the life I might have dreamed of as a boy: a great job writing on world affairs for Time magazine, an apartment (officially at least) on Park Avenue, enough time and money to take vacations in Burma, Morocco, El Salvador. But every time I went to one of those places, I noticed that the people I met there, mired in difficulty and often warfare, seemed to have more energy and even optimism than the friends I’d grown up with in privileged, peaceful Santa Barbara, Calif., many of whom were on their fourth marriages and seeing a therapist every day. Though I knew that poverty certainly didn’t buy happiness, I wasn’t convinced that money did either.

So — as post-1960s cliché decreed — I left my comfortable job and life to live for a year in a temple on the backstreets of Kyoto. My high-minded year lasted all of a week, by which time I’d noticed that the depthless contemplation of the moon and composition of haiku I’d imagined from afar was really more a matter of cleaning, sweeping and then cleaning some more. But today, more than 21 years later, I still live in the vicinity of Kyoto, in a two-room apartment that makes my old monastic cell look almost luxurious by comparison. I have no bicycle, no car, no television I can understand, no media — and the days seem to stretch into eternities, and I can’t think of a single thing I lack.

I’m no Buddhist monk, and I can’t say I’m in love with renunciation in itself, or traveling an hour or more to print out an article I’ve written, or missing out on the N.B.A. Finals. But at some point, I decided that, for me at least, happiness arose out of all I didn’t want or need, not all I did. And it seemed quite useful to take a clear, hard look at what really led to peace of mind or absorption (the closest I’ve come to understanding happiness). Not having a car gives me volumes not to think or worry about, and makes walks around the neighborhood a daily adventure. Lacking a cell phone and high-speed Internet, I have time to play ping-pong every evening, to write long letters to old friends and to go shopping for my sweetheart (or to track down old baubles for two kids who are now out in the world).

When the phone does ring — once a week — I’m thrilled, as I never was when the phone rang in my overcrowded office in Rockefeller Center. And when I return to the United States every three months or so and pick up a newspaper, I find I haven’t missed much at all. While I’ve been rereading P.G. Wodehouse, or “Walden,” the crazily accelerating roller-coaster of the 24/7 news cycle has propelled people up and down and down and up and then left them pretty much where they started. “I call that man rich,” Henry James’s Ralph Touchett observes in “Portrait of a Lady,” “who can satisfy the requirements of his imagination.” Living in the future tense never did that for me.

Perhaps happiness, like peace or passion, comes most when it isn’t pursued.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend my life to most people — and my heart goes out to those who have recently been condemned to a simplicity they never needed or wanted. But I’m not sure how much outward details or accomplishments ever really make us happy deep down. The millionaires I know seem desperate to become multimillionaires, and spend more time with their lawyers and their bankers than with their friends (whose motivations they are no longer sure of). And I remember how, in the corporate world, I always knew there was some higher position I could attain, which meant that, like Zeno’s arrow, I was guaranteed never to arrive and always to remain dissatisfied.

Being self-employed will always make for a precarious life; these days, it is more uncertain than ever, especially since my tools of choice, written words, are coming to seem like accessories to images. Like almost everyone I know, I’ve lost much of my savings in the past few months. I even went through a dress-rehearsal for our enforced austerity when my family home in Santa Barbara burned to the ground some years ago, leaving me with nothing but the toothbrush I bought from an all-night supermarket that night. And yet my two-room apartment in nowhere Japan seems more abundant than the big house that burned down. I have time to read the new John le Carre, while nibbling at sweet tangerines in the sun. When a Sigur Ros album comes out, it fills my days and nights, resplendent. And then it seems that happiness, like peace or passion, comes most freely when it isn’t pursued.

If you’re the kind of person who prefers freedom to security, who feels more comfortable in a small room than a large one and who finds that happiness comes from matching your wants to your needs, then running to stand still isn’t where your joy lies. In New York, a part of me was always somewhere else, thinking of what a simple life in Japan might be like. Now I’m there, I find that I almost never think of Rockefeller Center or Park Avenue at all.

Friday, June 5, 2009


My days have begun to bleed together. There are no weekends - every day is the same. It's Friday today but to me it might as well be a Tuesday.

Every day, I follow the same routine:

1. Wake up.
2. Drive to the Scottish Rite Masonic Center for bar prep class.
3. Listen to hours of lectures and take notes.
4. Drive to the school library.
5. Study for 5-8 hours in the same spot.
6. Drive home and go to bed.

I'm not complaining - just setting up the facts. Anyway, I wanted to describe the weirdness that is the Scottish Rite Masonic Center. ( The building houses the San Diego chapter of the Freemasonry Fraternity ( In my mind, it's really just my personal slice of Hogwarts.

This gigantic symbol is the first cue that you've stumbled onto the Scottish Rite Masonic Center.

The giant parking lot features reserved parking spots. There are signs designating that only the "Venerable Master" or "Honorable Warden" can park there. This is the second cue that there is something strange in the air.

The large entrance is carpeted in maroon. There's an ancient gift shop on one side, an office on the other, and a security guard and information booth in the front. Sloping railings lead to the giant auditorium, where class is held.

During my breaks, I've wandered down the halls and stared at all the glass displays of secret rituals, talismans, and oddly shaped caps. Ornate photographs of dead white men line the walls. Sometimes I peek into the Ionic Banquet Room and see remnants of breakfast left on white tablecloth. Strange old men shuffle down the halls and disappear into dark offices filled with amulets.

I know my imagination is probably working into overdrive. The sloping railing isn't just for effect - it works as handicap access. The "secret rituals" actually involve philanthropies, not human sacrifice and wizardry. The strange old men are just old-timers who keep everything running smoothly. In fact, the entire place feels more like a senior citizen hangout than a secret society. Oh well, at least I can dream.

Friday, May 29, 2009

bah humbug!

My life is in shambles right now because I found out some awful news!

My current favorite show, Daisy of Love, will not be airing this Sunday due to the MTV Movie Awards! ( Nooooooooooo... (cue dramatic music and dizzying montage of me falling into oblivion).

Ok, I'm partially joking/exaggerating! I suppose I should be embarrassed that I like to watch this show, but I figure that everyone harbors secret vices and hobbies. Some people play World of Warcraft, some people go shopping... I get a kick out of watching Daisy De La Hoya flirt with 20 wannabe rockers.

Really, life is all about the simple things/pleasures. Right now I'm battling the flu and I sound like a pirate, but things are going well and I'm happy. I think I've reached that point in my life where small stressors don't faze me like they used to because they seem so unimportant to me now.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I graduated last Saturday. I've been taking a week off to celebrate, run errands, spend time with friends, and sleep.

Since I haven't been taking care of my looks lately, I decided to get a much-needed haircut this morning. As usual, I went to a certain cosmetology school that shall not be named. My friend Charlie keeps warning me not to go there, but I don't know much about salons or hairstylists. I am a creature of habit.

The hairstylist began pruning my head. When she finished, the floor was covered with what looked like several species of hairy animals. I left feeling pretty hot. My head felt about twenty pounds lighter. As I skipped downtown, I swished my hair. As I passed shiny store windows, I gazed lovingly at my reflection. It wasn't until I got home and inspected my head that I realized that I look like I'm wearing a large helmet. A helmet that is longer in front and shorter in the back, like a backwards mullet.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Just say "NO!"

Although I have a caffeine addiction that runs from one cup of coffee a day to four during finals, I abstain from energy drinks. I don't want to put more chemicals in my body than I have to.

The energy drink industry commands an enormous amount of revenue. Nowadays, it seems like every celebrity wants a piece of the pie. Even Steven Seagal, the veteran actor. According to his website, he can now add "energy drink formulator" to his long list of formidable talents.

A few months ago, my friend Kelly gave me a few cans of his "Asian Experience" energy drink as a joke, because really, what DOES the "Asian experience" taste like? I'm Chinese and I had no idea.

Apparently, it tastes like apple juice.

Anyway, I stuffed the cans into a corner of my fridge and forgot about them until this morning.

This morning was my first final and I overslept. I woke up 10 minutes before the final was to start and had no time to brew coffee or swing by a coffee shop. So I turned to Steven Seagal and prayed that the Asian Experience would give me an A on my final. I chugged.

My head pounded the whole time I took the test. Even now, hours later, I'm jittery and not feeling too hot. Unbeknownst to me, Steven snuck 60 GRAMS OF SUGAR into that can. Gah!

Lesson learned: stay away from energy drinks. The end.