Life & Ramblings

january ! 2020

1 | a bad time

January has been an utter shit to me. The first few days were still winter break for me, but then I started winter quarter, which I have heard many people say is the worst quarter out of all of them. So I’ve been trying to balance my four classes, internship, job, and not give up eating and showering, but I’ve also been dealing with this health thing. My stupid body’s taken me to doctor’s office, specialist’s offices, so many please hold’s on the phone, insurance customer service, and a whole nightmare. It’s such a slog to take care of yourself, god. I’ve been so tired. Cried a lot. Cried in a school bathroom for the first time! A professor’s office! All that fun stuff. So, yes, January has been a shit, and I am hoping February turns out better. On the up and up, right? (It’s Feb 10 as I write this, so I can say that I thiiiink I’m coming out of it.)

2 | but i liked some stuff a lot

New Girl: The latest sitcom I’ve started watching! It’s, like, really funny you guys. I laugh out loud a lot. I think there are a few shows that make me do that consistently. So I’m so glad my roommate loves this show and kinda sucked me into it, and I am once again in love with Zooey Deschanel’s hair and outfits.

Threader earrings in both ear holes: I got a second earlobe piercing a while back and while the right side is no more, the left one is all good. SO I can wear threader earrings looped around all cute like this! Really into it. Gonna get my right side pierced again and actually wash my ear properly so I can do it on the other side too.

Maggie Rogers: This is another music thing I’m sort of late to (but then again, I always am!), I only discovered her at the end of 2019, but since then I’ve put her on repeat a lot. This month I sang to her in the shower a ton.

3 | and i tried not to be too down on other stuff

Stupid toddler hairs: These are not baby hairs, because they’re not like those little wisps. These are for real hairs that I had to cut real off and now I’m trying to just grow them all the way back to normal. But this middle stage is a shit, look at this fuckery!

My lost Tombow pen: Usually on these blog posts, I like to do a lil doodling and writing on all my photos, but alas this month those are conspicuously absent. I lost my Tombow brush pen somehow! I think I might have left it at home over break, which means I’ll probably never find it again and should just buy a new one soon.

Not too many things I disliked this month. I had a pretty bad month overall so I think I tried to like the things I did. The things that I could like, you know? Because I didn’t have any control over the other shit going on in my life.

4 | the links section is empty bc this month, as previously mentioned, was A Bad Time

5 | but here are many photos i took

Winter break! A time of many naps and cuddles with Luna, as well as some deep psychoanalysis of myself because of all that good ol’ family time.

Several years ago a family friend looked after Luna while we were away, and I visited their house and saw that they had a photo of her on their gallery wall :’)))))

For the end of winter break we came back down to LA, and that was a nice time hanging out with my brother and boyfriend in my new home before the quarter started. We went to the Hammer Museum and the Getty Center!

We got a TV and Luna was no0o0t happy about no longer being the center of attention.

I’m trying to do more nice things for myself and try new things, so in the spirit of that I walked on over to the UCLA Botanical Garden. It was so pretty and green and there were all these people having little picnics and reading in the sun… I also saw a woman walking her cat!!! If you look closely at this photo below, she’s holding him in her arms right between the tree branches. I ended up chatting with her a bit and found out his name was Grey and he’s been with her in cars and planes, and I was just so impressed at his calm attitude. (I was also pretty impressed with myself for just casually striking up a conversation with a stranger, which is something that is terrifying for me most of the time!)

Not impressed with my Snapchat filter selfies lol.

Ah, winter quarter. What a dark, gloomy time.

The grocery store Ralph’s (a new discovery for me, as a non SoCal-ian) has a bar inside! So weird, but the pineapple beer is so good and doesn’t taste like beer that much. Don’t tell the bar I used to work at, but that’s my main criteria for what makes a good bear.

I started an internship this month! It’s archival work focusing on political graphics and has been really interesting. I love the design of this PDS poster lol, they were a German political party (the Party of Democratic Socialism, I believe) that is now no longer in existence. Doesn’t this poster look like something Urban Outfitters would sell though?!

This month has been not great for my mental health, so I leave you with a flattering selfie that reminds me of good things in the world and a hilarious Reddit post about mental illness.

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Life & Ramblings

2020 please be kind to me

We’re fully into 2020, so here are the things I want to do this year. New year, same me just tryna get a little better to give myself more joy and peace. I really like this Instagram post from @revelatori; it helped me conceptualize goal-setting and New Year’s resolutions not as antidotes to our deficiencies (“I suck and am lazy but this year I’m going to not”) but as exercises in self-compassion and gifts to ourselves to make our lives better, because we deserve to not hate things all the time (“Taking care of my body will bring me physical and mental strength and improve my life, and I want that for myself”). Anyway, we’re like mostly through January already lmao so heeeere are all the things I am hoping to do in the coming days and weeks and months!

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Life & Ramblings

december '19// month in review

1 – i got a vacation!

My first quarter at UCLA ended in December, so that was my first finals week and all that here. I’m really happy with it overall! So, a couple weeks into the month, I headed back up north to do not much for winter break. I watched The Mandalorian, cuddled a lot with my boyfriend, saw friends and my brother, and wondered if I’d ever use the yoga mat I packed for winter break. It was nice to get a lil rest from everything, but we are already in January 10 and boy oh boy has winter quarter hit me like a truck.

2 – things i liked

The Anthropocene Reviewed: John Green, of The Fault in Our Stars and Crash Course fame, hosts this podcast where he reviews various aspects of the human-centered world on a five-star scale. I discovered this on the 99% Invisible podcast. When I was in middle school I loved Green’s books and my friends and I even went to see the Vlogbrothers live. Then he got even more popular and I think I thought he was too self-aggrandizing and pretentious, especially his Tumblr presence, and now I haven’t thought about him in a couple years. Until now! I was so surprised when he came on the show, and pleasantly so when his podcast turned out to be funny and insightful and touching. They feel the same way as his books felt for me years ago, only a little more smart, and a little less teen angst. The episode on the potatoes of Lenin made me cry, and the episode on penalty kicks in football/soccer made me care about sports more than I ever have in my life. I’m happy to have come back to John Green in this way.

Baby Yoda: We watched The Mandalorian, not all of it, and the best thing ever is Baby Yoda. The rest of it, eh. It was good, but I don’t care for fighting. Love Baby Yoda though.

Mario Party on Nintendo Switch: Not much to say, other than I play as Monty Mole and am not very good, but still have a grand old time.

3 – things i did not like

Someone stole my Instagram post: I posted a photo of UCLA and then someone else posted it! This was weird and I felt weird at how annoyed I felt. I thought I should have been more chill – it was an Instagram photo, some pixels and that’s all. But I was pretty upset about it. She ended up crediting me in her caption and said she thought it wasn’t my photo in the first place, so whatever, sort of believable mistake. Just a weird occurrence in my month, lol.

Vacation with some people is not vacation: Taking breaks is important, and I was really glad to go home and see my boyfriend and friends and moof around a lot. Sometimes ‘home’ doesn’t feel like home though, because people there impede your sense of self and safety. A big realization for me!

4 – other things i liked that you can click and also like

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It’s the time of year when I’ve always started thinking about making New Year’s resolutions, examining myself in the mirror, contemplating my drinking or workout habits, running on the hamster wheel of my thoughts about what I should change or fix or alter about myself. And because I have always done all of this in the name of growth and self-improvement, I have always felt like it was a useful exercise. But I’ve realized, lately, that I was doing myself a disservice—selling myself short, holding myself back—by always viewing myself in terms of how I was deficient, how I needed to change.
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I think it is a very good and noble thing to want to improve yourself, and I’m not against New Year’s resolutions or anything (as an Enneagram 1, actually, the only reason New Year’s resolutions aren’t my jam is because if I want to make a change, I make it right away instead of waiting for a holiday 😂). But I’m growing to learn that the motivation behind making a change is as important as the change itself. I am working to shift my motivation for self-improvement from “because I’m somehow deficient as I am” to “because this change will bring me more peace and greater joy, and I am worthy of both.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We are each of us so much more than our least favorite things about ourselves. So maybe in 2020 we can work on caring for ourselves and loving ourselves just as we are right now, today. Flaws and all.

A post shared by Tori Press (@revelatori) on

Virtue and Vanity at Reformation by Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker

The Company That Branded Your Millennial Life Is Pivoting To Burnout by Anne Helen Peterson for Buzzfeed

The Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter by Jason Kottke

Toward an Applicable Theory of Just Not by Rachel for Autostraddle

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What I wish I could say but cannot 🙃

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I didn’t!

I had no idea what I wanted to do, and felt “stuck” for a long time.

Eventually – when I was working in restaurants, unable to afford going back to school, and feeling like I was so far away from doing anything I enjoyed – I gave up on having a 5 year plan or destination/dream job, and just started to follow my curiosity and values to create meaning in my life outside of work. That led me back to the path of community work and activism that led me to Congress. The funny thing is that I had been invested in community work since I was young, I just didn’t quite realize it.

That’s all to say if you feel “stuck” one of the most helpful (and difficult) things to do is to let go of expectations about external achievements (title, job, money) and start listening to what you are immediately curious about, invested in, or good at and follow that in ways outside of work. That can help you re-orient yourself.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Instagram Stories, answering the Q ‘how did you know you wanted to do what you do?’

5 – camera roll

In closing, I leave you with a reminder of what my face looks like from a photo my brother took of me a few months ago and a Tweet I believe in strongly.

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Travel

rome 🇮🇹 the colosseum & the roman forum

Happy almost New Year! Here are some more photos from my trip to Rome in uh July! Today is the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. It was incredibly hot and I was tired and grumpy as a result.

We were so confused about tickets. So, so confused. I was really tired this day and it was really hot and we walked alllll the way from our hotel to the Colosseum and my travel companion and I are not bosom friends who can spend upwards of 72 hours together and have me still feel :]. All this to say, I almost cried when we ran into ticket trouble on top of all my other feelings. It’s always like that, huh? Depression? A bunch of things go a bit off and if your headspace is in a depressed hole at that time, it’s only a matter of time before one of those things pushes you to burst into tears! These posts about Rome have been colored by my depression during that time, and while I was there I felt so guilty for feeling depressed amidst all the beauty and privilege of travel. I still feel kinda guilty about it but I’m trying to remind myself that it’s OK to feel whatever I’m feeling and let it just pass through me, instead of feeling bad and then feeling bad about feeling bad on top of it all.

OK let’s get back to the Rome stuff!! This is the Arch of Titus, the sort of entrance point to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. It was built after the Romans won their war against Judaea (present-day Israel, I think?) in AD 70 and so, uh, it was built by the Jewish slaves who were captured by the Romans. How awful, right? Your people lose the war and you all get captured and then you have to build an arch depicting that victory with all your enemies carrying off menorahs and slaves aka you?? Jeez. Caring about people really ruins how pretty some fancy old things look.

You think this woman’s saying “Look! It’s the Roman army carrying off a menorah! This is when the Jewish Diaspora was created because they no longer had a home!”?

The Basilica of Constantine, now. These arches are the side niches of the old basilica, so originally this place would have been fucking massive with a statue of Emperor Constantine on a throne at one end. His finger would have been as big as a human!! Lordy lord. I’m imagining an ancient Roman style Grand Central Station from NYC lol, because I think that’s the biggest rectangular building I’ve been in where I felt like whoa. I imagine that’s what this would feel like in its proper glory.

Some kind of temporary exhibition that I no longer recall the details of due to this being several months ago.

The Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina.

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Life & Ramblings

november ’19 // month in review

1 – i want a vacation!

So, it’s the last month of the year and I am writing three final papers and trying desperately to come up with “good original ideas which contribute to a scholarly conversation”. Isn’t it funny how you go through school for so long being told to cite experts and remember this important objective fact and don’t give too much of your own opinions – and then eventually you’re just expected to pull some original insights out of your ass with no explanation of how to do that? Isn’t that just awesome?

So clearly I’m in a ‘really need a vacation’ mood. It takes energy to put myself out there and walk thirty minutes uphill to class each day and exercise seasonal wintertime dreariness away, and I am ready to be done with it for a bit. It’s the Sunday before finals week – I’ve only got a bit left. That feels so wild to me, because it literally feels like just yesterday that I was moving in and getting lost (I still get lost, so that is less a “feels like” thing and more a “happens on a regular basis” thing), and also just yesterday that I was far, far away from LA and had no idea why UC students always knew what numbered week it was. I am really looking forward to December – finishing up my first quarter here, hopefully seeing some good grades come out of it, my favorite holiday (Christmas!!), getting to take a breather after all this school, seeing friends and catching up and all that. November has been alright, all in all! More of the same, but with a bit of Trying Not Get Seasonal Depression seasoning.

2 – what is good

Queen & Slim: The film club here at UCLA did an advance screening of this for free – I felt very cool for seeing a movie before it was released and also wonderful for spending $0 to do such a cool thing, lol. This movie wrecked my whole damn heart and then some. The premise is that a black man and woman go on a first date and it doesn’t go that great. They’re driving home when they get pulled over by a cop, and he’s the worst kind of cop. He’s unreasonable and aggressive and makes demands he has no right to make. The woman steps out of the car and is like, hey man, I’m a lawyer, and you can’t do that, you need a warrant! The cop ends up shooting her in the leg and then fights with Daniel Kaluuya’s character, who grabs his gun and shoots him. They drive away and are basically on the run trying to escape to Cuba for the rest of the film. It is exactly as tense as that summary suggests, a blistering mirror to America, and it’s also so full of heart it makes you weep until your whole face doesn’t remember what it feels like to be dry. Melina Matsoukas directed – it’s her first film but she’s previously directed a whole truckload of music videos, like Beyoncé’s Formation. Lena Waithe wrote the screenplay. I know nothing about film – most of my movie reviews are just “yes good I like made me cry” – but I know that this one deserves attention. It is the kind of two hour long experience that leaves you troubled over the state of your racist, anti-black country and yet a little heartened by human connection and love; just enough to keep from barricading your heart up forever. It came out properly over Thanksgiving weekend and I really hope it gets a strong reception.

Community: Big tone switch here. This TV show has been over for a while, but it’s a sitcom that follows a study group of community college students and, you know, hijinks ensue. In community college I had a study group and one time we were talking about Community and people were like ‘haha let’s cast our study group in the roles in Community!’ and they decided I was Annie. I had never seen it at the time, so I Googled her and was like, oh great, I’m this prissy cardigan-wearing nerd girl. Thanks a lot. After that I did a lot of Wikipedia reading on the TV show and character, but didn’t actually watch the show until now. In hindsight, my Wikipedia activities entirely prove the accuracy of that casting. So I’m on season two now and it’s very funny! It’s so weird seeing Donald Glover being funny instead of dancing intensely.

hospital at saint-rémy, 1889 (vincent van gogh)

Van Gogh at the Hammer: Another cool LA thing I did was go to a couple lectures on Vincent Van Gogh at the Hammer Museum! You guys, it was super fucking cool. Art historian John Walsh lectured on Van Gogh’s time in a three-part lecture series and I went to two of them. I learned so much about him and his art! I got to see some really cool paintings and drawings they carted out for this! And it was all free! They even had my favorite cookies from Trader Joe’s at the reception afterwards! Agh!!

Warranty earphones: My earphones broke and I was super bummed. In one fell swoop, I lost the ability to listen to podcasts while walking to class, music while doing laundry, absolute silence while walking past people I just don’t want to talk to… Anyway, turns out the warranty was still valid! So the company, Anker, sent me some new ones. This is the first time I’ve ever actually used a warranty, lol. It’s wonderful! Thank god they exist!

3 – what is bad

College dining halls, or rather, what they have exposed about me: I enjoy eating and I am extremely averse to spending/wasting money (in other words, cheap). I have grown up knowing that when I walk into a buffet, I cannot leave until I am stuffed to the brim and have to unbutton my pants, because that is how you know you got your money’s worth and didn’t waste food, because did you know your father grew up poor and food-insecure? So, now I’m here at UCLA, and the dining halls are the home to “the #1 college food in the country!” as the advertisements will proudly declare, and I have a meal plan that I’ve already paid for, and the set-up is exactly like a buffet. And I just keep eating!!!! And then I leave and go to class and I’m like “holy fuck, I feel like I’m gonna barf”!!! And the next day I go back and eat the same uncomfortable amount!!!!! I really need to learn a lesson here. It’s just so hard to shake this mindset of scarcity concerning food and money. I literally don’t need nine flatbread slices for dinner! I was probably full at five! Maybe even four! Why did I keep going! Agh!

My poor left loafer: One night I left my loafers out while trying to figure out a good interview outfit. The next morning I put them on and saw these things on them and, I mean, it can really only be my cat’s nails, right? I can’t think of anything else that would cause this shape so I think she must have decided to do a bit of biscuit kneading on top of them. Now my shoes look like this and I am very, very sad about it. I should look into how to get it fixed or if that’s possible at all.

The Now/Then app: A number of months ago, I declared my love for this app – it lets me track everything I do! In satisfying color blocks! Amazing! Actually, it became pretty terrible. Every time I did something I felt vaguely panicked because I had to pick what category my activity fell under. Is curling my hair under “health and hygiene” or “leisure”?? The stopwatch that goes when you hit start on a particular activity is stupid stressful. I’ve been trying to step back from endless productivity being a main goal of my life, so I deleted this app. It’s been going really well. I enjoy bar graphs and pie charts in nice colors depicting random facts of my life very much, but it ended up making my brain constantly panic over measuring how productive I was being.

My fingers/hands: I think I may have carpal tunnel, arthritis, or tendonitis. We are working on figuring what, but it’s pretty shit.

4 – cool things from the internet that i liked looking at

Am I overjoyed that I am Li? Do I think it is all of my positive traits and I am a cute fat panda to boot? Yes x2.

I got really into looking at embroidery and cross stitch things. I hope eventually it spurs me into making my own lol.

Erica Weiner’s Secret Message Acrostic Ring: This is $600, so approximately $580 more than I would ever consider spending on a ring in the next several years of my life, BUT BOY OH BOY. If you like fancy shiny things, secret messages, personalization, and romance and sentimentality, have I got the ring for you!! Acrostic rings were big in ye olden days (starting late 1800s, apparently) and each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a different gemstone. So it’s a SECRET FUCKING MESSAGE SPELLED IN EXPENSIVE FUCKING ROCKS. My god, how cool. Take my money. Let’s forget for a second that I don’t have the money for a $600 ring – what would I spell with it?? Isn’t that so hard to decide if you don’t have a spouse or a kid??

5 – camera roll

back garden of sien’s mother’s house, the hague, 1882 (vincent van gogh)

Doggo spotted looking at Van Gogh with his ma!

I used this recipe, although I did change it a little. It was pretty bland, which I guess is my bad for using an Indian recipe from a white person. I just thought it would serve me well as someone who cannot handle spicy food. But I added a lot of cilantro (as you can see) and it got much better! I think cilantro does that to everything.

My roommate and my friend sent me this meme literally less than ten minutes apart. My heart felt so full, like all those cheesy Pinterest boards say.

Thank u for being here with me. I hope the last weeks and days of your 2019 are good, safe, and easy.

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Travel

rome 🇮🇹 the pantheon, musei capitolini, & more walking in fountains and piazzas

What time better than midterm season to look back at my time in Rome, eh? We start in the Pantheon, which is actually unreal. Even with all the people there, like the Chinese couple I saw using it as an opportunity for a photoshoot (I am srs, this man had a huge variety of intense camera lenses and the woman had multiple scarves to do outfit changes as she posed it up), it is ~breathtaking~. Very much one of those buildings that you see in person and stop in your tracks and go, I understand what the postcards are about! Shit!

There are lots of fun facts that I learned from the audio tour on the Rick Steves in Europe app, but I have forgotten them. I do remember that this altar has changed according to the dominant religious and theological views of the time. Now, it’s Jesus and a Catholic cross, but back in the earliest days it was for Jupiter, the Ancient Roman god.

I always wonder what the people who work gift shop and custodial and everyday kinda jobs at these fancy tourist spots think about. To them, are we just fools gawking at their everyday background? Do they ever stop to look up and gawk themselves?

This is Rafael’s tomb! I was reading the little plaque about him and thinking about his life and work and getting all in my feelings and started to tear up… and then I heard a conversation behind me between a couple Americans that went something like –

Mom: Look, Rafael is buried here! The man the ninja turtle is named after!

Son: Oh my god. Wait. RAFAEL IS DEAD?!?

– and then I was snapped out of my feelings and had to stifle laughter. Americans deserve our reputation for being horrible guests in other countries.

OK out now! The square in front of the Pantheon is so busy all the time and it still blows my mind how so much modern life just happens in and around ancient buildings.

Our hotel walls were painted to appeal to hapless tourists like us.

I did the first half of the Rick Steves’ audio tour on his app today, starting at the Campo de’ Fiori. During the day it’s kind of like a farmer’s market vibe, but I get the impression a lot of the vendors just target tourists rather than it being a place for actual Romans to shop. One of the guys selling cabbages yelled “Konichiwa” at me which was a surprisingly racist start to my day.

Loved this show of EU solidarity!

The center of this square has a statue of a monk called Bruno, an outspoken Dominican priest who ended up getting kicked out of Italy, the Calvinists, the UK, the Lutherans in Germany, before finally getting burned right here by the Inquisition. Chilling, right?

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