Friday, July 29, 2016

Old Sac Revisited

Sacramento has been an intense experience food-wise. This trip to Old Sac was immediately following the Davis trip last week (to recap, last Thursday was CPK, last Friday was Davis, and this post is about Saturday), and on the Sunday after that the plan was dinner at Chili's, but I was simply stuffed from three days of gluttony. I'm definitely happy about all the food, but I really need to work on moderation.

I've been to Old Sac for a fourth grade field trip before, and recently I was there to watch fireworks on the riverfront for Fourth of July. However, I had yet to truly experience it in an immersive way. I feel that now that I'm older, I can appreciate the historical significance and aesthetic. Seeing some familiar shops such as Candy Heaven brought back a wave of nostalgia, even if the barrels of sweets seemed oh-so much smaller (likely because I am now bigger). We also checked out Evangeline's Costume Mansion, which is something that can only be experienced, not described. I also bought a pair of pineapple socks at Sock City, because I know they'll remind me of Breakthrough (I don't like pineapples that much though).

Mina also wanted to check out a restaurant in the area, the Tower Cafe. I was definitely glad I went because the food was amazing. The restaurant itself seems a little cramped due to the smattering of eclectic decor, but we were able to find seats and get served relatively quickly. I had a Malaysian Chicken sandwich (Grilled skin-on chicken breast marinated in a hoisin and ginger glaze and served with mayo, lettuce, red onion, jicama and grilled pineapple on a brioche bun — it really is the summer of the pineapple) and a peach Italian soda (not worth, but refreshing nonetheless). ◊

Sunday, July 24, 2016

All's Well That Ends Well

I'm pretty sure I'm going a little crazy from being around so many people all the time. It brings out the worst in me; while I try to rein it in, there are times when I am so exhausted that I don't care if I'm being insensitive. It's somewhat liberating to reach that point, but it's definitely not healthy to be potentially hurtful to other people in favor of my own mental health, especially when everyone else is stressed too. Given that, in some estimates, only around a quarter of people are introverts, it's frustrating to have to interact with people differently due to the way I am. Though I am well aware of my strengths and limitations, I still feel rude to turn down invitations. On Thursday night, I went to a team dinner at CPK even though I was not at all comfortable with socializing at the time. I was so stressed, I ordered and ate an entire pizza. I'm worried about missing out, but it's time I commit to putting my own needs first.

That said, I did enjoy going out for an FMH after the UC Davis trip, even if I completely crashed afterwards. It was a long day, being at work by 7am and ending at nearly 11pm with all the events and whatnot. There's not much to do this weekend, so it's good to take time to recover.

1 — UC Davis: Orange club is done with planning responsibilities! The seventh grade UC Davis trip went swimmingly well as the students enjoyed the tour, activities, and pool trip. The campus was huge so the tour ran over time, but there was an hour long buffer worked in, just in case, and everything worked out perfectly.

2 & 3 — After the trip, the faculty went out to eat at Jack's Urban Eats. A friend and I swapped halves of a Jack's classic chicken sandwich and a pulled pork BBQ sandwich and split a plate of fries. I should have stopped there, but there was more food when we went to...

4 — Parlor (again!) I finally tried their Main-Go (mango sorbet) and it was heavenly. Parlor happens to be a Pokestop in Pokemon Go, so there were three tip jars set up for the three teams. I wish I had more space at the time to eat ice cream, so I definitely need to go back again. But that's not all...

5 — We went back to UC Davis for an FMH game of sardines in the social sciences building known as the Deathstar. On the way there, everyone stopped at a famous drive-by coffee place called Dutch Bros Coffee. I had no clue what to get, so I went with the recommended drink, an iced Cocomo, which is a chocolate and coconut infused coffee. I'm usually hesitant about anything coconut flavored, but as this is the summer of #trynewthings, I took a risk and was pleasantly surprised! It was delicious and smooth and I highly recommend it.

6 — We arrived back at UC Davis and tried to find parking. We drove around the same little square at least four times. We were considering giving up and joining either a frat party or a circus circle. The struggle bus was officially updated to a struggle boat, the HMS Struggle. But in the end it was worth it, as we arrived at the Deathstar at twilight. The building itself seemed quite ugly earlier in the day when we passed it, but in the evening it glowed as the soft orange light bathed the walls. My team entirely missed the first round of sardines as we walked around taking #aesthetic photos of everything. Unfortunately, that meant that we had to hide the next round, which resulted in...

7 — One. Whole. Hour. Spent in a hot and miserable corner. We were originally going to go up the roof, which looked like a good hiding place earlier, but the layout of the Deathstar was so complex that we couldn't find our way there. We settled for a tiny corner of the side of the building. We were so sure that everyone would find us within five minutes, but apparently it was a good enough hiding place that three teams gave up and couldn't find us in an hour. Towards the end of the hour, I got bored, so I tried walking around and setting a timer to take pictures of us, but the rest of the sardines weren't having it. They sent someone to literally pick me up and carry me back into the can. We were the champions, but it certainly didn't feel very glamorous.

8 — A number of people were down for round three of sardines, but I had enough. After walking around the Davis campus for nearly 8 miles, and being awake for almost 15 hours, I was near collapse. As one of the original hiders, I was stuck in the back corner of the people pile for a good twenty minutes, and as said before, it was miserable (I really can't emphasize that enough). Instead, I went with my original teammate and another person to Sharetea, which was thankfully open until 11pm. I ordered a kiwi fruit tea with ice jelly and basked in the oasis of air conditioning. It was a satisfying way to end the night.

9 — I went home in the daze from sheer exhaustion. All I can remember is that the moon looked very bright and pretty. I tried to take a photo, but my camera wouldn't focus. The result was a rather nice abstract picture that I slapped a snapchat filter on. Once home, I showered and promptly collapsed into bed. It was a good day, but I'm more than glad that it's over. ◊

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mid-Summer Crunch

Too often I've seen jokes online that 2016 is not real. With the election nonsense, senseless terrorist attacks, and celebrity drama, it can be funny to imagine that it's all a collective hallucination; as someone who struggles with dissociation, it's terrifying that my entire view of reality could unravel at once in a brutal panic attack.

On Tuesday, we had a professional development (PD) session about self care. Somehow the PD did more to break apart my mental health balance than to help. It's that point in the summer when everyone's nerves are wearing thin and people snap at each other. I've snapped at people, and I've been snapped at. Yesterday, I was frustrated, I snapped at someone when I had the option to stay silent, and now I feel horrible for it. It doesn't help that I'm overwhelmed by the social expectations of Breakthrough, to be there for the students all the time. My boat has finally hit rough waters, and even though it's well equipped to handle the storm, it doens't make me any less overwhelmed and anxious and stressed and mean.
"I'm fine // Drop tears in the morning // Give in to the lonely
Here it comes with no warning // I capsize, I'm first in the water
Too close to the bottom // I'm right back where I started
Said I'm fine"
I'm trying to unlearn toxicity and I'm trying so hard to be good and kind but sometimes I'm tired and careless and all the worst parts of me come bubbling up to the surface and I say something that sends me back to square one. That was the situation yesterday, and I also snapped at a student for breaking a pair of sunglasses that he was lent by another teaching fellow. In both of these situations, my quips were completely unnecessary and I wish I had handled it differently, but it's too late. What is said is done. The best I can hope for is a chance to apologize in order to move on so things smooth over.

I've been sustaining myself by checking in with friends electronically, but even those check ins are few and far between. Everyone is spread out so far across the globe: Sri Lanka, Mongolia, and Europe. If the time zones don't deter communication, the sheer amount of time commitment in this program puts a damper in the time I have to catch up. For me, an anxious introvert, it is especially difficult to want to make friends. I don't want to let many more new people into my life unless they do fill that criteria of a level four friend. It's too many expectations to fulfill if I'm letting people in to my mental burdens.

In this setting where everyone is intensely close for sustained periods of time, it's difficult not to let people in, but for my own good I need to set boundaries and understand that for me, I'm not here to make friends. These are first and foremost the people I work with. I physically spend a lot of time with them, but I'm not emotionally close to them, and it's important for me to remember that I don't need to be. I am not beholden to them. However, on the flip side, even though I am here to do a job, the job is people. And when people are the job, it's not possible to have it my way all the time. It's still something I'm working on and struggling with.

Tonight I'm taking time to deliberately reset and refresh. Music, face mask, nails, the whole nine yards. I need it more than anything. If I can't be my best self for myself, then I'm definitely not my best self for my students. I'd like to continue to communicate my idiosyncrasies to my coworkers, so they know that when I micromanage, it's due to my stress, not that they're doing anything wrong. It would be helpful for the both of us if they would be blunt with their feedback. I'm in a good place with organization, lesson plans, and finishing my responsibilities. It doesn't matter that there's no special occasion, it is time to breathe and prepare so tomorrow is a great day. ◊

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Day at the Fair

It's safe to say that teaching has taken over my life. The other day, I ended up working on campus until 9:30pm. At that point, a few of the other teachers that came back to campus almost literally had to drag me out of the classroom. I'm physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, this last week especially more than others. My brain is still mush right now so I'm not sure how coherent this writing will be. Sometimes, it's necessary to force myself to take breaks. On Saturday, the team organized a Faculty Mental Health Day, aka an FMH, at the California State Fair. I had never been to a State Fair before, so to get the full experience, Mina and I, along with two others, left a few hours earlier than the other teaching fellows (TFs).

The fair was quite an experience to say the least. We saw the farm exhibits outside, and booths from every county in California all in one building. Mina and I had bought our tickets with a few others in a value pack, so we also had a ride ticket. I chose to use mine on a ride I had never seen before, the Zipper. As a fan of roller coasters, it definitely was a fun experience, if a bit tame in my opinion. The ride was short and there were only two flips, but the view from the top was amazing.

Later that night, the BSAC squad danced to a live band karaoke (truly #squadgoals). There was also a fireworks show, though I missed most of it as I was in the bathroom. I left the fair quite satisfied. My three goals that day were to have a strawberry lemonade slushie, a tater twister, and a deep fried item, and I'm glad to say that I was successful, all within a $20 budget. On the way back to the parking lot, the shuttle was nowhere to be found. We walked for a while before convincing a sympathetic golf cart to stop and pick us up the rest of the way. Then, suddenly, the next day, it all seemed like a dream, and it was back to working on lesson plans and projects. ◊

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Birthday Haul (A Well Deserved Shopping Spree)

Teaching is exhausting work. This week was 4th of July, Back to School Night, and a field trip (that I was in charge of planning). With only three days of class but two upcoming events, it was easily twice the work in half the time. While I had a lovely birthday and all the students sang to me, I had no time on Thursday or Friday to do anything fun. Saturday was a huge breath of relief. One of my coworkers, Mina, who has a car, offered to take me to the mall. We had a grand time shopping at the Roseville Galleria, and I stocked up on pamper products and a few new garments.

First up, as always, is Lush. The shop was a bit smaller than most I've seen, and there didn't seem to be a back room for stock. As a result Saturday was crazy busy, and all of the attendants were helping other people. I wanted my go-to face mask, Love Lettuce, and fortunately there was one left, but I didn't want to buy it early and have it melt in my bag as I was walking around that day. I decided to come back for it later, which I would regret. I did however, pick up one of the new soaps, Outback Mate. It's a beautiful marbled blue, with eucalyptus and peppermint, topped off with lemongrass scent. Initially, I was a bit iffy about buying it, as I still have two soaps to use, but as soon as an attendant mentioned the peppermint, I was sold.

Sadly, Love Lettuce was no longer available when I came back. That second time I did come back, the store was still crowded, and it felt like all the attendants were strangely rude. When I described what I needed, they pushed the first product they could grab towards me without hearing out my concerns. I've always felt very relaxed and at ease in Lush, but this time, I had to wait a very long time just to get someone to help me try a new face mask to use in place of Love Lettuce. Finally, I was able to try Mask of Magnaminty, which I instantly fell in love with. It left my skin so soft and smooth, and far less red. It also doesn't feel like it leaves a film after rinsing off, which is my top concern with skincare products.

Next up was the Body Shop. I still have two vials of tea tree oil, but I'm fairly sure I left those in Berkeley. Tea tree oil is ridiculously expensive, which is why I was ecstatic that the Body Shop expanded their line. The attendant recommended the new Tea Tree Oil Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution, which promises to take care of blemishes and soften skin through oil control. It costs $22 for a 50mL bottle with a dropper, but as they were promoting the new products, it was on sale for $17.60. This was a huge deal, because I usually pick up three 10mL vials of tea tree oil for $20 ($10 each, but the Body Shop usually has a buy 2 get 1 sale). 30mL of tea tree oil only lasts for about half a year, and is far too potent for my needs. The attendant promised that the new product will probably last three years and has a three year shelf life, which I doubt, as the packaging said a 12 month shelf life, but even if it lasts one year, I will be highly impressed. It seems like an excellent product and I hope they don't raise the price if it gets more popular.

At the Body Shop, it is essential to go with a friend to take full advantage of their sales. Even then, you have to be careful that the items you pick up are included in the sale. The new tea tree products were not included in the buy 2 get 1 sale, but another deal was to spend $50 and get a free body scrub ($20 value). When both of us bought a tea tree solution, we were close to that deal, but there would also be the issue of splitting the body scrub. The resolution was to buy another sugar scrub to get the sugar scrub for free, and split the total cost down the middle. This worked perfectly, and now I also have a coconut sugar scrub and Mina has a honey sugar scrub.

We wandered around the mall a bit more, not sure what to get. July is a great month for shopping as all the stores have their mid-year sales. I had to take care not to buy too many things, because I still have to pack everything up in one suitcase to bring back with me to Berkeley. I had a list, but unfortunately I did not pick up a lot of those items. I did get my hands on this "Squad Goals" shirt from H&M. I saw it last month when I was shopping in Bay Street looking for orange clothes to match my Breakthrough club color, but didn't buy it because I wasn't sure if I'd want to buy a shirt specifically for Breakthrough. However, being here and having a pineapple related inside joke meant that this was the perfect item to memorialize this summer, even if I don't get a lot of wears out of it. Unfortunately, it was a popular shirt so there were none left in my size (and it's no longer available online), but I bought a size L to wear as an oversize shirt (it still looks cute).

I also ended up buying three bras. Two were clearance from Victoria's Secret. I have an odd loyalty towards VS, as they were the first place I bought a bra myself that actually fit. All my bras prior to that were ones my mom bought, where the bands were too big and the cups were too small. At VS, I got measured and wore a bra that felt comfortable for the first time. It felt like I had pillows hugging my chest, and it was on sale for a reasonable price. However, as much as I love VS, there is no way I'm paying full price for a piece of clothing that goes under my clothing. The clearance bras are about $20 each, and there is a fair selection of items in my size. I bought a strappy neon-yellow piece, and a soft purple everyday bra. I really wanted a wireless t-shirt bra, but there weren't any available in the color I wanted for my size. The last was a cute pink and black bra from H&M that was on sale for $7. It isn't as soft as the ones from VS, and the underwire is a bit more pokey, but at $7, it was worth it.

We ended the day with a classic In-N-Out. I can probably say without hesitation that In-N-Out burgers are my favorite food. The fries could use some work, but the burgers are #blessed. 

I arrived home exhausted. I thought I could get some work done, but after shopping from 1pm to 7pm, I dropped. After guzzling a bottle of water (shopping is surprisingly dehydrating), I napped from 8:30pm to 12:30am and instantly regretted it when I woke up, knowing how messed up my sleep schedule would be. I finally went back to sleep from 1:30am to 7:30am today, which wasn't bad, but hopefully, my sleep schedule rounds itself out before going back to work tomorrow. ◊

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Where Have I Been & Where Am I Going?

Hello friends! It is July, and I am now 19 years of age, so it's a good time to take a deep breath, step back, and reflect on this past year and the status of this blog. I've forgotten who I've shared this blog with already, it's been ridiculous keeping up with url changes, especially with the email subscriptions. Unfortunately, you will have to resubscribe if you want to keep receiving updates. It should be fairly easy as I've double checked the feed burner settings and now I've upgraded to this shiny new URL which I intend to keep! Happy birthday to me!

I think this may be my first time publicly sharing my blog, but since a number of friends (hello Diana and Kelly) are sharing their blogs, I thought I might do so too, especially since I want to deactivate my Facebook account again soon. I'm still a bit hesitant or insecure to share this blog; it's rather private and I'd prefer not to have people poking around my thoughts. There are things on here a bit further down the blog roll that I would rather people not know about me at first glance, for fear that it could change their perception of who I am according to my carefully crafted public self (whether my perception is what I intended, I have no idea). Some of it is really old writing that I find to be immature when I read back. Then again, there are some wonderful posts that I look back on and am proud of.

To recap this summer so far, I've been in Almaden, Seattle, Berkeley, now I'm in Sacramento teaching writing at a summer program called Breakthrough. It's been amazing working with my advisees, in the picture above, even if I spent 15 hours on campus today teaching a day of classes and staying after school for Back to Breakthrough Night. The kids are phenomenal and I can't wait to see how they grow this summer. After this six week program, I'll be back in Berkeley moving in to my apartment and getting ready for sophomore year. It's crazy how quickly time flies.

That's about it, feel free to say hi in the comments, and maybe I'll see you around! ◊

Friday, July 1, 2016

Food Friday #029 — Parlor

I am still in Sacramento, if the scheduled posts brought about any confusion; there will be an update on that to follow soon. In a nutshell, I've survived my first week of teaching. There were highs and lows, but in the end, we all celebrated at a cute little ice cream shop called Parlor right around the corner from my homestay. It hit all the points of ice cream shop aesthetic, with little handwritten signs and a public chalkboard. I had a single scoop of Cake Batter in a waffle cone, and it was amazing — creamy and cold, with just the right amount of cake chunks. I have decided that I probably don't want a cake this year, a pint of this will do. It's regularly over 100˚F here as well, so ice cream feels less like a treat and more of a necessity. I also really want to try Main-go (mango sorbet) and Green Machine (mint cookie), so if by some chance you're in Sacramento this summer, let me know and let's all scream for ice cream! ◊