Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Whether the Weather

There's a common question that's always bothered me: Would you rather live in hot weather all the time or cold weather all the time? I've always answered, "Cold, because if it's cold you can always put on layers, but when it's hot, there's not much you can do."

This summer, living in Sacramento, I've realized I really like hot weather. I love the feeling of sun on my skin, the sweet cool relief of air conditioning, wearing crop tops, eating ice cream. I don't like cold numb toes, layers upon layers of jackets, dry skin and watering eyes, dark grey skies.

But it's more than just a temperature preference, it's a revelation on how I am so limited by what I think is right, without taking into consideration what I actually want. There are fun things that I've put aside because there's serious business I know I need to take care of, and before I knew it, I passed all my time without doing anything I really wanted to do.

That's how I spent high school: putting grades, tests, and extracurriculars before dances, relationships, going out with friends, and doing fun things. Thinking of what I missed out on is my biggest regret. The times I look back on and remember that I was happiest are the classes I skipped to get burgers with friends, the spontaneous drives up a hill to watch the sunset, and later at night coming back down that hill blasting music and standing out of the top of the car sunroof. Years from now, I won't remember what grade I had in a class, or what AP classes I took, but I know I will remember if I was happy or not, and unfortunately, in the case of high school, the answer is no.

I'm desperate to not make that same mistake in college. 

There's a post on Humans of New York that has always stuck with me. In it, a young woman sitting on a suitcase explains:
"I wish I'd partied a little less. People always say 'be true to yourself.' But that's misleading, because there are two selves. There's your short term self, and there's your long term self. And if you're only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays."

So far, I've been having the opposite problem. I'm so preoccupied with the long term that I've neglected to take care of myself in the short term. Occasionally it gets so bad that I forget to eat, sleep, drink water, all the very basic necessities of life.

It's something my parents passed down to me. They would never put "My child is an honor student" stickers on the minivan because it could lower the resale value — even though two consecutive minivans were totaled in crashes. My future was always a ticking time bomb of what if's. My entire life, I was told to prepare for the day I turned 18, when I would be a "real" adult and everything I knew would change. That didn't happen. "Sacrifice now and reap the rewards later."

But there's always a later. The now is gone in a blink of an eye.

It was 8pm and we had just finished a long day of meetings and work. We got Chipotle because you're supposed to eat beforehand otherwise it'll hurt more. We drove to the parlor, a random one Patrick found on Yelp with a good rating, that was still open late at night. They neglected to tell me to bring an ID, so I had to be driven home to grab my passport. I came back and I wrote it out a million times on a piece of printer paper, and it still wasn't perfect, but it was good enough, and the artist printed it on my arm and asked me a million times if I was okay with it, and I almost settled because I was tired but he wiped it off and let me spill my thoughts that it would look better rotated just two degrees clockwise, so he printed it again and it looked right. It's my own handwriting. It's not perfect. But I'm happy with the results.

This summer the theme was to "Go For Your Goals." The faculty would ironically say it every time someone was about to make a bad decision. I used the phrase to buoy my confidence getting into the car to go to the tattoo parlor. But there's a soft edge of authenticity to it. I've always wanted to dye my hair, to get a tattoo, but I was always worried about what future employers might think, or what my friends might think in doing something so drastically out of character. But hair can be cut and regrown. A tattoo can be covered in a variety of manners. If my friends can't handle a little tattoo, why should they still be my friends? Clearly, it's something that means a lot to me. It is a reminder that this is real. It is my acceptance of my panic attacks, it is a tribute to a program that may no longer be there next year, an ode to impermanence etched into my skin, because a tattoo may be "permanent" but I am not.

Who cares that the apartment decorations will have to come down at the end of the year? I still have a whole year to enjoy them on the wall, and that itself is worth the little effort it takes to put them up. Order the pretty headphones. They're cheap, and they might break, but they'll do for now, and you'll like them. Invest in a goddamn iClicker, even if you never use it again, you can always resell it. You're spending more money renting one every year anyway. Get Spotify Premium! Life's too short to waste time on ads! Date people! It doesn't matter that you're probably not going to marry them! Be happy! Abandon logic and feel something again! (Can you tell I'm screaming at myself at this point?)

Getting a tattoo is never a logical decision. I've tried to plan what I would get and where, but that day, I was tired and frustrated and I wasn't thinking. It just happened.

Seize the now. Live boldly. Everything will be okay. ◊

Friday, August 19, 2016

Santana Row & Valley Fair

I had often heard of Santana Row and thought it a wonderfully elegant shopping center, but had not really explored much as the extent of my experience was two forced family dinners. It turns out, it has so much more to offer than awkward Italian food. Anisha and her boyfriend took me to Fantasia for PMT, which I really enjoyed. I ordered a Green Mango Black Tea, and though I didn't get to finish all the pieces of fruit at the bottom, I'd still try it again. Then it was off to the Valley Fair mall across the street. Again, I had heard much about Valley Fair, but had not actually been. We were there to celebrate Karan's 20th birthday (!!!) at Din Tai Fung, which is apparently a very fancy restaurant. Five teenagers and a twenty-something looked a bit out of place amongst all of the old people and business-looking people, but the meal was enjoyable. Would not go back as it was expensive af, but it was a great way to celebrate! ◊

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sleek Unboxing and Swatches

My lovely friend Wei-Wei was in Europe this summer and kindly asked if I would like some makeup from exclusively across the pond. Having no real experience whatsoever beyond lipstick and eyeliner, naturally I said yes. Giving credit where credit is due, requesting both of these products was inspired by Youtuber Roxxsaurus, who probably wears them better than I ever will. Nevertheless, the highlighter and blush by Sleek exceeded my wildest expectations and makes me so happy whenever I see them on my desk.

The highlighter quad by Sleek in '032 Solstice' is an incredibly worthwhile purchase at $15 USD. It is extremely high quality, from the packaging to the pigment. It comes with a fairly large mirror and a small brush. I would not recommend using the brush, as it is not all all fluffy and smooth. I have yet to try all of the shades, but I'm very excited, and the names are so elegant as well!

The Sleek blush in Rose Gold is approximately $8 USD, but according to Roxxsaurus, it's a near match for Nars Orgasm blush. The packaging is nearly the same as well, so I'm quite excited to try it out. Below are swatches for all four shades in the Solstice palette, as well the blush.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sunset in Sacramento

» Bear with me, this'll be a long post. The last few days of Breakthrough were extremely hectic, and that's just on the business end of things. On the emotional end, it's been overwhelming and bittersweet. On one hand, I'm glad to be done with work and I'm glad that I no longer have to be around so many people all the time. I am completely exhausted. These past few days after setting up the apartment and getting ready for school (this is a retroactively published post) all I've been doing is hardcore catching up on sleep, often not getting up before noon. On the other hand, I miss a lot of people: advisees, students, fellow teachers, and friends. In feeling so, I've been procrastinating on the things I need to do in order to put together scrapbook pages of the notes and trinkets that remain of the summer (I lost my State Fair ticket stub! So sad!) And of course, I wouldn't be doing the experience justice if I didn't blog about it.

» One of the biggest highlights of my summer was hopping around Sacramento to get food with Mina. It is her life goal to eat at every restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The above is a "Hot Blonde" (Grilled organic chicken, Swiss cheese, spinach, avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes, roasted red onions, garlic spread, brown mustard and Pepper Plant sauce, panini pressed on sliced sourdough) from Dad's Kitchen. Mina, if you are reading this, know that I applaud you on your life-long quest, and thank you for letting me a part of it.

» Friday's celebration was the last official day of Breakthrough, but that wasn't the last time I saw the students. On Saturday, Breakthrough was treated to tickets to the Sac Republic soccer game vs. San Antonio. Mina, who's from Texas, rooted for San Antonio, while I was able to see two of my advisees one more time. After the game, we all went onto the field to take a photo.

» During Wrap-Up Week, two fellow teachers (my do-or-dye buddies whom I dyed my hair with!) went on a little adventure (more on that later ;) ). We also ended up at a cute little coffee shop at 11pm. I didn't get any great pictures, but I had a Mochaccino from the "unusuals" board, which was the most delightful treat.

» As a final treat, the faculty took one last FMH to the Old Spaghetti Factory. It just so happened that I was craving lasagna the day before, so it really hit the spot. The crowning glory of the meal was the drink I ordered: cotton candy limeade.

» On the very last day, after most people went home, a few TF's wandered around dazed on campus, not sure what to do with their lives. Mina was taking her advisees to In-n-out a few hours later, so we followed her and pranked her by pretending that we didn't know them. It was great fun, but after they left, we again had no idea what to do. I wanted to take some nice pictures of the sunset to commemorate my last day, so we drove up to the top of a parking structure at Sacramento State. We caught the most gorgeous orange hues, and grabbed some cool jumping shots, except that it was windy and my dress was not cooperating and I'm really bad at timing my jumps. It was a very satisfying way to feel closure for the program, in a way.

And then it was over. Really, truly. All I have left are rapidly fading memories, but I can't deny that Breakthrough has changed my life in so many ways. It'll take me a long time to digest it all, and even then there will always be new things I learn about myself from the things I did this summer. Here's to the next adventure, to live boldly, and go for my goals! ◊

Friday, August 12, 2016


Again, technically not doing Food Friday's anymore, but I love doing food posts, so here is another one, on a Friday. After Celebration, we went to a Sacramento staple, Leatherby's Family Creamery. It was late to be having ice cream, but the ice cream shop aesthetic was too cute. It was extremely satisfying to try a proper banana split for the first time! The ice cream was delicious but I was too tired to remember much of it, so the photos here are all I have. Highly would recommend going once if you're in Sacramento, and I definitely want to go again if I go back. ◊

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Squeeze Inn

The food adventures continue in Sacramento at the Squeeze Inn. I don't remember how or why I ended up here — that's how intense the food coma was — but I know for sure it was delicious. I believe it was Mina's personal quest to eat at every location featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and somehow the Squeeze Inn turned into an FMH. It's named the Squeeze Inn because the original location was a tiny orange shack, but that was ruled to violate ADA standards. They are now in a new location, with the original entrance preserved inside as a feature of the decor. They are known for their "cheese skirts," where extra cheese is added on until it spills over the sides and is grilled into a "skirt" for the burger. The pictures are a bit blurry because of how greasy my hands were after eating the food, but it's the thought that counts. I ordered a Squeezeburger with grilled onions and a side of small fries. 10/10 would eat there again. ◊

Monday, August 1, 2016

Becca x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Palette Unboxing & Swatches

I will not hesitate to admit that I am a stress shopper, but I will reluctantly admit that I'm a bit of a hoarder when it comes to supplies, most notably office supplies and beauty supplies. In my time of intense stress a few weeks ago, Mina mentioned that she had an extra unused Jaclyn Hill palette. At first I wasn't sure what it was, but then she mentioned that it included the Champagne Pop highlighter, I was intrigued. I had heard so many bloggers and vloggers rave about the shade of highlighter, but I was a bit put back by the price ($38 for a single shade). The palette, with five shades for $52 total, is much more economical (lol, right?). It also happens to be impossible to find anywhere; I can't even find it on anymore. It turned into a win-win situation: I took the palette off her hands, saving her the return trip, and I now own a Champagne Pop palette, which I never in one million years would have found in stores.

I have yet to try it out, but you can see the shades in the pan and in the swatches. As I am still in Sacramento, I do not have all of my makeup brushes with me, and even if I did, they are long past due an upgrade. I have a basic set from e.l.f. but they're quite old and there's no specific brush for blush and highlighter. I considered getting the e.l.f. professional set, but since they're more or less the same price as the highly acclaimed Real Techniques brushes, I'm leaning more towards that core collection instead. I'm still a good bronzer and foundation short of a full makeup set; I don't know why I'm buying all this makeup when I rarely wear anything but eyeliner on a daily basis. Hopefully once I have the brushes I'll be more inclined to wake up an extra ten minutes earlier every day to pop on some highlighter. ◊