Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year, New Theme

As the end of yet another year rolls around, it's time for some evaluations and forecasts.

Looking Back

Obviously the biggest things that happened this year were graduating high school and going to college. In the interim summer, I worked with my wonderful speech and debate coach to teach two elementary speech workshops, and in college I joined a mentorship program to continue working with elementary school students. I definitely want to continue my path working in education, so I declared the Education Minor at Berkeley. I wrote about every memorable event (and some of the things in between) on this blog, so there's no need to go over everything again (I'm so glad I decided to continue blogging). I would say that the big theme this year was change and transitions. Turning 18 meant becoming an adult, and with that came college and freedom. I've been so incredibly happy this year, but I've still been struggling with mental health problems. I can't possibly go over all the things that are now different, so I truly mean it when I say everything has changed and I've had to change too to keep up.

Looking Forward

I am so very excited for second semester. After all the lessons I learned about time management and whatnot first semester, I am ready for another round. As for goals next year, I think it's more effective for me to think about what not to focus on rather than a single goal.

Last year my goal was "Mindful Body Wellness." Apparently, it was a pretty complicated concept, but it boiled down to three actions: skin care, eating right, and exercise. Skin care I definitely succeeded in, with the Lush lotions and Clarisonic cleansers and whatnot. My skin still isn't perfect, but it is improving. Eating right started out ok, but then I went to college and had a meal plan in the dining halls. Still, I tried my best to go grocery shopping for celery and smoothie ingredients, so I'd say this is still a success. As for exercise, I tried, I really did, but after two Zumba classes and a series of yoga classes, not much happened. However, being on the Berkeley campus should really qualify as exercise, with the hills and walking. I don't know what to make of that goal. I guess it was a partial success, but there's still plenty of room to improve.

"Mindful Body Wellness" actually isn't too bad of a goal, so I will definitely continue to strive for it as best as possible, but additionally, I want to revisit a concept that has been very important to me: identity. 2016 will be the year to work on something I will call "Core Self." Less worry about what other people think of me and what they want me to be, and more focus on what I think of who I am and what I want to be. Cut out the extras, build a stronger sense of my own person. Become comfortable with who I am. Everything is clean, fresh, and pure. Let life come to me instead of me chasing after life.

A part of starting fresh is a haircut!

Also, as much as I love this pretty purple theme, it does look a little high-school-y. It's way past time for me to update it into something clean, minimalistic, and mature. To live is to change is to improve. What better time to do that than the transition into the new year? Sadly, as soon as I've caught onto one web design trend, everyone else has already moved on to the next big thing (for now that would be paneled posts; I'm not a huge fan, I'd rather just see everything on one page without pop-ups). I can't decide if I want to change the blog title into something a little more simple as well, but I think I'll be keeping the URL the same. Hopefully nothing gets too messed up when I tinker with the code, because I've already forgotten to save a backup of this old one. Some of the old posts are still wonky because of the image resizing, but oh well. Happy New Year! ◊

Friday, December 18, 2015

The End of a Semester

By the numbers:
I arrived 116 days ago;
I lived with 2 roommates;
I watched 4 seasons of Doctor Who;
I read 14 textbooks;
I wrote 7 essays;
I was sick for 4 weeks;
I saw 43 small dogs;
I went to 1 wonton party;
I observed 1 protest/rally;
I pulled 1 all nighter;
I took 1 final exam;
I went to 1 football game.

By the things I did:
I learned how to take public transport;
I became acquainted with an Italian activist abstract concept;
I hung out in my friends' rooms, just like I used to;
I had too many cups of coffee;
I mused about a blue-mohawked Alaskan GSI;
I ate too many Clif bars and drank too much juice;
I spent Thanksgiving with a group of strangers;
I lost my head over a boy who was allergic to cats;
I made so many smoothies;
I hiked up to the Big C;
I mentored the most wonderful small children.

By the feelings:
I felt unrestrained happiness;
I felt free;
I felt exhaustion;
I felt the cold, empty fog;
I felt in control;
I felt content;
I felt panic;
I felt everything;
I felt nothing.

By the things I didn't:
I didn't go to San Francisco;
I didn't run out of meal points;
I didn't attend a frat party;
I didn't recopy all my notes;
I didn't apply for scholarships or internships;
I didn't drink or do drugs or party too hard;
I didn't eat at Clark Kerr for Sunday brunch;
I didn't get straight A's;
I didn't visit the top of the Campanile;
I didn't fall in love.

By the ways I've changed:
I have a better fashion sense;
I can write a four page paper in two hours;
I know how to take care of myself better;
I let my social anxiety get worse;
I completely lost track of my eating habits;
I figured out why I have problems;
I deleted people I didn't really know off of Facebook;
I learned that it's ok to not let people know everything.

This is the last night I'll sleep in this bed this year. Lately, I haven't been able to fall asleep. I remember the first night, right after I moved in. I had never fallen asleep so quickly. It felt safe, a fresh start, a world of endless possibilities. I was scared, but I was excited and ready to take on all the things being thrown at me. And I did pretty well.

But now, as I anticipate heading back to suburbia, I am only scared. It's all going by way too fast, and I'm afraid that if I just blink a few more times, I'll look back and college is all gone, and I still won't have done so many of the things I wanted to do. They say to live life to the fullest, but there's only so much a human body can do in the time it's given to exist in this world. And I tried, I really did, but sometimes, some things just didn't work out. I can only wish for more, but despite that, I'm proud of what I have accomplished. Here's to even more next year. ◊

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Clarisonic Mia 2 Deep Pore Detox Set Unboxing

R.I.P. Neutrogena Wave
It's the midst of finals seasons which means a lot of stress and breakouts, which I have been struggling with forever. I've tried a whole slew of face washes and exfoliants and coconut oil and face masks but nothing seems to work on my poor clogged pores. Especially as my old $5 Gen1 Neutrogena Wave has finally sputtered to a stop and I've been too lazy to replace the battery, skin care has been tough. I don't know what made me do it (maybe it was the stress shopping urges) but I finally decided to invest in a significantly pricier device on Cyber Monday. I present to you: the Deep Pore Detoxifying Clarisonic Mia 2 Holiday Gift Set.

As it was Cyber Monday, all online orders were an additional 20% off, which brought the price of the set down to about $95 before tax and $105 after tax. Initially, I was suspicious because the basic Clarisonic Mia 2 costs $149 on its own, and this whole set with a cleanser and face mask were priced at $119. The box itself said the value of the set was $203, and it was priced at $169 on the sticker. There was a chance that the set wouldn't have the actual device in it, and would only consist of the accessories, but it was a risk I was willing to take as the sale was ending soon and the return policy seemed pretty straightforward. To my satisfaction, the kit included the device with a brush head as well.

I haven't gotten a chance to use it yet as it is recommended to charge the device approximately 24 hours before use, but comments on the first impressions of the product. Everything was impeccably packed, though the box was a bit confusing to figure out. The device feels well balanced to hold, and the magnetic charger attaches easily, though not particularly strongly. The cleanser and the face mask actually smell wonderfully light and clean, opposite to the heavy chemical smell I had anticipated for whatever reason. The device also comes with a travel case, though I don't know how frequently that will be of use for me.

Overall, I'm fairly satisfied with this stress shopping/Cyber Monday purchase, and I look forward to using the device! I'm hoping its the miracle product I've been looking for to take care of my pores. Here's to happy skin! ◊

Saturday, November 28, 2015

What's on my iPhone?

This is a post inspired by an anon question on Tumblr (hey you, anon, if you see this I want you to know you're the best!) I've been in a bit of a creative rut lately as the end of the year brings not only season's greetings and joy, but also tons and tons of essays. And of course, when my brain is confronted with a large problem, its first response is not the best method to finish the task, no, it's avoidance, which makes it all the harder to work. But I'm glad for a thing to do as productive procrastination rather than feeling crappy because I'm sitting around wasting time. I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, but here are the apps on my phone. Feel free to ask questions to clarify!

So here is my homescreen, and only screen, on my iPhone. I like to be utilitarian, though not purely by choice, as my phone only has 16GB and I want to save as much space as I could for pics. I like to lay out everything in a way that is logical for me, including the staples on top down to extras on the bottom. Therefore you have the calendar, clock, app and iTunes stores on the top row, followed by camera, which is to photos, as FaceTime is to videos. For some reason, this makes sense to me. The next row is tools, such as map, compass, weather, and calculator. Next is note based: email, Safari, notes, and reminders. These generally help me keep track of what is going on in my life. Finally, non-default apps, such as music, Spotify, Evernote, and Wunderlist. You may also have noticed that there is a bit of vertical correlation, as Evernote is to notes as Wunderlist is to reminders. I also kept the apps with a circle in the icon all in the second column. Am I a little obsessive? Probably.

Aside from default phone functions, such as call, messages, contacts, and settings, my last row is grouped apps. Each bubble has exactly 6 acts, grouped together by content and/or color. The first one, Apps, is default apps that I sometimes use. The color scheme loosely falls along the "red" pattern. The next, Extras, are the apps I very rarely touch, but can't get rid of from my phone. I thought the yellow ones looked nice put together.

The third, which has three green apps, contains resources I use frequently, from the banking app to check my balance, to the student portal that is used for assignments, the ASUC app which gives information about facilities on campus, and the bus schedule. The last app in the bottom right corner is called Emergency Chat. I use it when I get panic attacks to communicate with people when I find it hard to breathe or talk. The last bubble called "Entertainment" isn't really all for entertainment. This is where you'll find a lot of my communication apps, from Snapchat, to Venmo (a handy app that lets you pay people and be paid back), to Messenger.

I don't have a ton of social media because I find it distracting, and really I used Instagram with just one or two people, so that's about it. The last app, Inkboard, is a doodle app that lets you draw things either from scratch or on top of existing photos. I haven't put much use into, but it can be entertaining when I need it to be (or if you need scratch paper in the middle of the night to calculate how many points each question on a quiz was worth).

With such few apps, the plus side is great battery life and less distraction, but hopefully my next upgrade will let my phone play a much more central part in how I am organized. As of now, I am still tethered to my computer, though my Apple Watch also plays a large part in how I send and receive notifications. And that's about it for all the things on my phone! Not a lot, I'm afraid, but maybe it inspired you on various methods of organization at least. ◊

Saturday, November 21, 2015

#obsessed: One Last Time – Ariana Grande

I'm usually not a huge fan of Ariana Grande's voice, but this song has been great. The "one last time" hook has been stuck in my head for days, and since I haven't posted here for a bit, I thought I might just share a quick #obsessed post. ◊

Thursday, November 12, 2015

November Already?

Well, it's been a while since I've blogged.

I've been busy. I survived my first midterm season here at Berkeley (it wasn't too bad, an essay for sociology and a short answer test for political science –– got A's on both of them), the essays and readings are never ending, and I've started to spend more time with people I think I can start to call "real friends." It's surprising how easy it is to be lonely on a campus of so many people, but once you discover the people you share values with and they are equally interesting in being friends with your own strange little self, lovely things can happen. Yesterday was Veterans' Day, which we had off from classes, so a few friends and I got together, bought some cookies, piled up the blankets (it's been unusually cold around here), and did nothing but watch Disney movies. If you ever get the chance to revisit Pocahontas, I highly recommend it. The artistry is beautiful, if the plot and dialogue are a bit frustrating sometimes.

Aside from not wanting to neglect this blog, another very important reason for returning as I am is to vent a little. Actually, things have been going pretty well in all aspects of life, especially achieving that balance between social and academic. Extracurriculars are starting to make more sense too as all the procedures become routine. I even went hiking up to the Big C with my RHA ExComm last Saturday. I just wish I could be doing more. I went to a protest for the first time today, and I was so overwhelmed by the sheer number of people that I ended up observing the rally rather than participating in it. Though it is now crossed off my bucket list, I wish I had the time and energy to be more involved. There are so many things to be done, and while I know it's not possible to do everything, I want to put it near the top of my list  next semester to go to more events and be a part of the larger causes on campus.

At the moment, the thing that's holding me back is a turbid mix of academic perfectionism and mental health problems. I had another panic attack out of the blue on October 28th, and it's held me back as life keeps moving forward. I missed a week's worth of lectures in some classes, and I'm hopelessly behind on readings again. I want to make up every little detail knowing fully well that I can't. And you may not be able to tell from reading this, but I've been stuck with writer's block for my Classics essay. As I am able to type this out now, I know for sure that I can attribute my inability to work on it to the fact that I just don't think I can write it right (and therefore my brain believes it is best to not work on it at all), but that doesn't mean it's not due. Back to the grindstone... ◊

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Change in the Weather

It's been a while since I've started this post; I really liked the pictures I took but I didn't have time to think about what to write, and the few tidbits I did manage to jot down don't make much sense to me anymore. As you can see, I was originally going to talk about how the weather has changed for the cooler, but this week it's back into the 80s again at some points. But what a week it's been. I've constantly been feeling icky, and that's also partially from being so tired. I've been working nonstop for days, first to study for a midterm, and then to help with AHOW. I haven't been feeling down per se, but for some reason, so many bad things have been happening. The thing is, they're all minor things, like spilling coffee, or missing the bus, or having a persistent cough, but as the saying goes, there's no use crying over spilled milk (or coffee). You wipe it up, and keep walking. I seem to be handling all this much better now; I used to be so worn down from just one little thing going wrong, but now I solve the problem and life goes on. I don't know if this is an improvement in mental health, or if it's just a part of growing up, but it's a welcome change. Anxiety and getting upset is draining.

That aside, I still find the need to take time for myself. That's far from a bad thing, self care is so important in college, when there's not always a friend to check in on you. In a weird twist, I don't think I could have gotten as good at self care and being aware of what I need had I not had depression and so many panic attacks. I suppose it's true that overcoming obstacles prepares you for difficulties down the road. I've learned how to struggle and how to live through it, and it really is a valuable skill.

Sadly, that means I've been spending a lot of time by myself. In fact, this weekend, I don't plan on leaving my room until Sunday in order to catch up on work and sleep. In an attempt in mimicking a social life, I've gotten sucked in to Facebook again, though for the time being I've logged out.

Hopefully once I've caught up on everything, I can also put some time into working on this blog. It is in desperate need of an update, in order to keep up with the times and stay modern. Not that it was ever really relevant, but if I want it to be something I don't mind sharing with people, it needs to be on top of the trends.

In short, the nuisances in life never stop coming, but I'm handling it pretty well. And every cloud has a silver lining. As I was walking back after missing the bus, I looked up and saw a rainbow circling the sun as it burned away the fog. That's not something you see every day, and I wouldn't have seen it either had I not looked to the sky in exasperation over all the things gone wrong.

But this time, it was just right. ◊

Friday, October 23, 2015


I cannot articulate how busy I've been over the last few days, from midterms, to life in general, to helping organize All-Hall-O-Ween, also known as AHOW (it's an event the residence halls put on to give children from neighboring elementary schools a safe trick-or-treating experience). I've barely had a single moment where I've done nothing in the last two and a half days, and I haven't had a proper meal for a day and a half. Nevertheless, I don't regret putting so much work in. The kids were absolutely adorable, and I got to dress up too. That was actually a really great bonus because I was caught undecided between two costumes, until I realized that I had two occasions to celebrate Halloween – AHOW and the day of. The first costume was Kate Bishop (aka Hawkeye), which I loved doing because I got to wear a lot of purple. I wasn't allowed to take pictures of the kids, so instead here are a ton of self gratuitous pictures of my costume. I'm actually quite proud of it because I put a lot of thought into the details (chevron necklace and arrowhead earrings) and the makeup (inspired by the Hawkingbird mask). I even dyed my hair purple (!) even though it doesn't show up very well because my hair is already so dark. ◊

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Midterm Stress Shopping

If you're wondering why I haven't posted much lately, it's midterm season, and I just turned in my Sociology midterm essay on Friday before going to volunteering and office hours for PoliSci to study for that midterm on Tuesday... Needless to say I am exhausted and I needed a break. What else do I do when I'm short on nerves and I have no energy for impulse control? Shopping of course (great idea)! I may have gotten a bit carried away and I'm never buying anything ever again (which I always say – it never works) but for the most part I'm happy with my purchases.

It started on Saturday. The weather had finally cooled down and I was wearing the sweater that I bought the last time I went stress shopping (before the PoliSci short essay) and I was feeling pretty good. Since it was late, I went online shopping. I needed pens anyway, and I was looking for a poster to fill the space above my window. It was too easy. A few clicks, and now I am the proud owner-to-be of a gorgeous Marvel character collection (and a 12-pack of Pentel R.S.V.P. fine-tip pens).

Aside from studying, I didn't have much to do today, so I decided it was time for a trip down to Emeryville. I've been craving a face mask again, but to my dismay, the shipment didn't come in (again!) so I bought a self-preserving mask (Mask of Magnaminty) for my roommate and picked up a few samples to use until I have time to go again.

I also picked up a Lush catalog. I love browsing through them and looking at all the gorgeous products I probably could never afford all at once (sigh). One thing about it: their Christmas products are here! I'm so excited!

Next up was The Body Shop, as I have been out of tea tree oil and therefore no spot control. I was faced with the dilemma of 10mL for $10 or 20mL for $18 when my friend reminded me that they were having a Buy 2 Get 1 sale, which means I could get three 10mLs for $20. Done deal.

Lastly was Forever 21. I have enough clothing so far, as California weather only requires layering at worst, and I simply have no patience for picking out an outfit from a huge selection in the morning, but their jewelry is cute and cheap. Somehow, I walked out with about $40 worth of it (so much for inexpensive [and remember we're talking about a college student budget here]).

With this new inventory, a challenge was how to organize everything without getting all of them tangled. Previously, I used a bead box for earrings and necklaces alike, but this would no longer work as it doesn't have much space, so I resorted to hanging up the necklaces on push pins in the cork board of my whiteboard. This isn't ideal as everything is out in the open, which might leave it vulnerable to theft in case the room door is left ajar, and if anything falls, it'll end up behind the bookshelf, where I'll probably never see it again until I move out. Still, one benefit is I might see it and be more motivated to accessorize. I love collecting all these cute trinkets, but sometimes it's just so much effort in the morning to fumble with necklace clasps.

I have a post ready to retroactively publish once I get the time to work on it, as well as a filler post that I can publish anytime once I write it. Hopefully after this midterm I'll have some more time to work on this blog, as it is long overdue for a makeover. Academics is definitely a priority right now, and I have been off of Tumblr (though that procrastination vacancy was quickly filled by Facebook, which has its uses, but is still a distraction). Thanksgiving Break can't come soon enough, though its only mid-October. Still, despite the neverending stress and exhaustion, I'm mostly happier than I've ever been, and I can't wait to see what's to come. ◊

Friday, October 9, 2015

Food Friday #021 – Chengdu Style Restaurant

Chengdu Style Restaurant in Berkeley Chengdu Style Restaurant Berkeley Chengdu Style Restaurant Berkeley Chengdu Style Restaurant Berkeley Menu Chengdu Style Restaurant Berkeley Chengdu Style Restaurant Berkeley Spicy Fish Soup Chengdu Style Restaurant Berkeley Lamb and Green Onion Chengdu Style Restaurant Berkeley Spicy Eggplant Chengdu Style Restaurant Berkeley

I was a bit sick on the day of this outing, so I can't say that I can give a fair review of this restaurant as I was feeling queasy the whole time. Megan's boyfriend visited and took everyone in the suite to a restaurant; we ordered a spicy fish soup, lamb and green onion, fried rice, and a spicy eggplant dish. I am not a huge fan of spicy food, so I barely ate anything, but I like taking pictures, so I thought I might as well publish them. ◊