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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Life & Ramblings

october ’19 // month in review

1 – neck deep in the quarter

It’s the penultimate month of the year and I am in week six of this ten week quarter thing and that calendar system is, you know, about as terrible as I thought it would be. (Except also I will be taking more classes and doing more stuff next quarter and I shudder to think at how overwhelmed and tired and stressed I may well be then.)

Anyway, I have been doing well. It feels a little weird to be like “yeah, I’m good”, and I’m pretty sure that’s me just used to being really anxious and depressed and not feeling good and now that I’ve made such a big move and am Surviving it’s like – Is this a joke? When’s the bad thing gonna happen? Where’s the proverbial other shoe that is definitely going to drop? I’m trying improve my self-talk, though, and just stop myself at “I’m good” before I get to catastrophizing and the like. In October I turned in my first few assignments here at UCLA, I got a good grade on the one assignment I got back, I hung out with people, I hung out with myself, I went to the gym, I kept my room relatively tidy except for one corner, I ate 100% more dessert items than I do at home. I feel pretty good about October, actually.

The thing I find myself comparing now to is a few years ago in Edinburgh. It was the same time of year and I was, in many ways, doing similar things: meeting new people, going to class in the form of huge lectures, walking about twenty-five minutes to get to class, eating by myself in the dining hall, studying and doing homework in fancy looking libraries. My mind is expecting Now to turn into That any second now, with the accompanying crying in bed, missing my boyfriend, agonizing over how I haven’t made my Best College Friend yet, feeling self-conscious about not laughing uproariously over dining hall food with a hashtag girl gang. I’m definitely in a better headspace about the whole thing now and, like I said before, I’m mostly sure my unease is me not quite knowing how to be OK. I’m figuring it out though, and I am OK. Soon I’ll be OK with being OK.

2 – good things

Cheyenne Barton on YouTube: This woman’s YouTube channel is so so nice, my lord. She’s an artist in a lot of different ways – she illustrates, makes videos, acts, and sings. Her videos on YouTube are so sweet and charming. I really love seeing her sit down to draw her stickers while her cat Sophie walks around her, make tea with her partner, and go to cafes and whatnot in the Pacific Northwest where she lives. Her illustrations are colorful and cute and happy. I usually put some YouTube videos on when I do my lil nighttime bathroom routine of skincare and teethcare and whatnot and recently I’ve been watching more videos from artists rather than influencers and it’s very nice! We’ll tackle the debate on whether influencers are artists another time, but for now my clarification here is that most influencer YouTube videos say something like “here are things I bought or received from PR teams this month and some affiliate links, hooray for capitalism, consumption, and destroying the planet with glitter packaging”. Anyway I digress from my praise of Cheyenne, highly recommend, love her, cannot get enough.

The Mind Explained on Netflix: This is a spinoff of the Vox ‘Explained’ show focusing on, well, ~THE MIND~ so psychology and the brain and that sort of thing. It’s informative, wonderfully edited, and narrated by Emma Stone, who still has a lovely voice despite her Scarlett Johansson-esque choice in roles recently. My favorite episodes so far have been ‘Psychedelics’, which features the author Michael Pollan and discusses research on LSD and shrooms as treatment for mental disorders such as addiction, anxiety, and depression; and ‘Mindfulness’, which explores mindful meditation originally from Buddhism and features Buddhist monks as well as Western biomedical researchers who explain what happens to your brain waves when you’re a master meditator like those monks.

How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Peterson on Buzzfeed: Such a good article about an awful thing. AHP is my fav celeb PhD Buzzfeed journalist speaking truth about Armie Hammer. Writing on her own experience becoming a professor in this quote below, she explains how millennials and the generations that follow have been raised with lessons that are no longer true for us. We now face systemic, institutionalized barriers to our future, and that’s our own personal economic future (and our lives on this dying planet, which are linked in the most fun, heartcrunching way).

Still, thousands of PhD students clung to the idea of a tenure-track professorship. And the tighter the academic market became, the harder we worked. We didn’t try to break the system, since that’s not how we’d been raised. We tried to win it.

I never thought the system was equitable. I knew it was winnable for only a small few. I just believed I could continue to optimize myself to become one of them. And it’s taken me years to understand the true ramifications of that mindset. I’d worked hard in college, but as an old millennial, the expectations for labor were tempered. We liked to say we worked hard, played hard — and there were clear boundaries around each of those activities. Grad school, then, is where I learned to work like a millennial, which is to say, all the time. My new watchword was “Everything that’s good is bad, everything that’s bad is good”: Things that should’ve felt good (leisure, not working) felt bad because I felt guilty for not working; things that should’ve felt “bad” (working all the time) felt good because I was doing what I thought I should and needed to be doing in order to succeed.

[…]

“Yet the more work we do, the more efficient we’ve proven ourselves to be, the worse our jobs become: lower pay, worse benefits, less job security. Our efficiency hasn’t bucked wage stagnation; our steadfastness hasn’t made us more valuable. If anything, our commitment to work, no matter how exploitative, has simply encouraged and facilitated our exploitation. We put up with companies treating us poorly because we don’t see another option. We don’t quit. We internalize that we’re not striving hard enough. And we get a second gig.”

We optimize ourselves for work so much, making sure everything we do is in service to our economic stability, like growing an online following with a hobby that we later leverage for a job and feeling somewhat guilty when we do something just for fun, and it’s literally all for naught. I’m not really sure what to do here now that we know this and I don’t think she is either. But at least we’re self-aware, right? And I think that’s the first step.

3 – not so good things

Being a renter: In a realization shocking to no other renters I am sure, being a renter has been Not Fun! Our apartment has a whole bunch o’ problems and our landlord doesn’t really respond to maintenance requests. I also, apparently, am in the single most expensive rental market in this whole goddamn state according to the LA Times.

Missing familiarity + the work it takes to gain it: Everything is new here and I am a homebody and creature of comfort with social anxiety, so predictably I’m having a bit of trouble fighting the urge to just curl up under the blankets forever. I miss having a routine and a regular schedule and knowing which restaurants in town have specials on what days. And I don’t like not having that but perhaps more, I dislike the work and time and effort it takes to gain that. It kind of scares me how complacent I am with being in a place I dislike just because I’m terrified of the work it takes to get out of it. So there’s something I’ll work on with a therapist if I ever get around to finding one here.

Why I Haven’t Gone Back to SCOTUS Since Kavanaugh by Dahlia Lithwick via Slate: Some big awful quotes here on letting the whole Kavanaugh thing go.

That is the problem with power: It incentivizes forgiveness and forgetting. It’s why the dozens of ethics complaints filed after the Kavanaugh hearings complaining about the judge’s behavior have been easily buried in a bottomless file of appeasement, on the grounds that he’s been seated and it’s too late. The problem with power is that there is no speaking truth to it when it holds all the cards. And now, given a lifetime appointment to a position that is checked by no one, Washington, the clerkship machinery, the cocktail party circuit, the elite academy all have a vested interest in getting over it and the public performance of getting over it. And a year perhaps seems a reasonable time stamp for that to begin.

The problem with power is that Brett Kavanaugh now has a monopoly on normalization, letting bygones be bygones, and turning the page. American women also have to decide whether to get over it or to invite more recriminations. That is, for those keeping track, the very definition of an abusive relationship. You stick around hoping that he’s changed, or that he didn’t mean it, or that if you don’t anger him again, maybe it’ll all be fine when the court hears the game-changing abortion appeal this year.

4 – reading list

Johann Hari’s TED Talk on depression and anxiety

Jenny Odell on why we need to learn to do nothing via The Guardian

The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles by Molly Conway via Man Repeller

Unhappy Meals by Michael Pollan via The New York Times

The Birthstone Ring by TAI Jewelry

5 – camera roll

I went thrifting at Jet Rag Vintage’s $1 sale! I got some really good stuff, some of which I have worn and some of which I am unsure if there will ever be a situation to wear it to (bolero top with pandas and tigers on it, hello), but all of it was a bargain that would make my grandparents proud.

I am always behind on finishing up my planner pages – hence this from September.

Using my foot as a pillow!!!! (I typed those words in the wrong place just now – i.e. “using my pillow as a foot”. I’m not drunk or sleepy or anything, perhaps just a little dumb, but isn’t that hilarious?)

Sometimes Pisces memes hit me right in the heart. Here’s one of them that Josie sent me. On the very day he sent me this I had earlier masturbated to procrastinate writing my philosophy paper. I also think my remix of track 8 would be Cross Stitching and Baking Shows feat. My Cat.

My friend sent me a letter with a crane she made!!!! It is on my bookshelf now and I am uwu about it.

I wrote and mailed letters to a couple friends and a boyfriend! I’m pretty happy I did this because I have a problem of wanting to send letters (/ do art) and not actually sitting down and getting around to it. I also got to use the wax seal I got in Rome with my initials on it. How pretty and useless, eh?

My laptop refused to turn on one day shortly before my first essay was due and I freeeeeaaaaked out and Lyfted over to the nearest Apple store that would get me an appointment right away. They fixed it thank the lord (and thank the lord I’m in a financial situation courtesy of parents to pay for that) and I met a really cute dog there. It was also the first time I was in The Grove, which I’ve seen many a time in influencer vlogs lol, but I didn’t enjoy it due to laptop-related heart palpitations.

I used the leftover thread from my Van Gogh cross stitch to make some lil plants from Stardew Valley! I used the guides here – the book costs $32 but there’s a sample PDF which is what I used. I also bastardized the colors completely just using what I had in store lol.

One dark night in LA, I was driving with my roommate home from Target when we saw the local cinema closed off. A big sign read “El Camino”. “What’s that? Do you know that movie?” I asked. “I don’t know, I’ve never heard of it,” my roommate replied. I forgot about it. UNTIL I WENT ON INSTAGRAM AND SAW THAT IT WAS A MOVIE PREMIERE THAT BOBBY BERK ATTENDED. I.E. A TEN MINUTE WALK FROM MY APARTMENT. WE WERE SO CLOSE. This is obviously my first brush with celebrity and I am not a native Angeleno.

On the shelf in my philosophy TA’s office!!!!! She said she didn’t know anything about it and it probably belonged to someone she shared the office with, but I was overjoyed. Am thinking of asking to borrow it.

On Halloween I went to a club in Koreatown lol. It was a pretty off brand activity but was still fun and an interesting insight into the ABG lifestyle! I couldn’t do it, y’all – I lack the ability to apply fake eyelashes well, the knowledge of how to twerk, and the dedication needed to up my alcohol tolerance.

Happy November, friends. I hope LA cools off soon and I get all the classes I want for winter quarter. I hope you get whatever you’re wishing for and your favorite fruit is on sale when you go shopping.

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Life & Ramblings

september ’19 // month in review

1 – beginnings + endings

I’ve moved to LA! Halfway through the month I moved 400 miles south. The first two weeks of September were spent finishing up at my internship and restaurant job, packing up a lot of stuff, and feeling very unprepared for the end of my time in my lil ol’ hometown. Then I had a six-hour drive, a confused cat, a helpful boyfriend, blessedly absent parents, a very difficult IKEA bed, and the beginning of whatever I’m doing now!

I’m in the first week of my first quarter here at UCLA and hopefully two years from now I’ll have a bachelor’s degree, a few friends, some cool LA thrifted clothes, and some cooking and tidying and general house skills to show for it. I still feel pretty weird but I’m looking forward to feeling normal here eventually.

2 – things i’ve liked a lot

Silent D Shoes: I was so fucking #influenced and I’m only slightly ashamed that I was seriously going to spend $150 on these. Ashley from bestdressed wears these in black a lot and they look so fucking cool that I clicked on the link and looked at them seventeen times a day for, like, four days straight. I think the most I’ve ever spent on a pair of shoes is around $100 (for my Sam Edelman loafers), everything else is in the 50 or 60ish range, but lord. Shoes are my biggest wardrobe weakness and I went from “wow, I am generally uncomfortable spending anything over $50 for shoes” to “I need those $150 shoes right now and I will express ship them if needed” at a frightening speed. My bf thought they were hideous (he’s wrong, obviously) and expensive (he’s got me there), so I checked Ebay and Poshmark and Mercari and LO, $30 ON POSHMARK, MY SIZE, THEY’RE MINE. I wasn’t sold on the silver at first as it’s a bit loud, but for $30?! I’ll take ‘em. I really like them!!!! I really love them!!!!! The silver isn’t as unwearable as I had feared and, I mean, they’re kind of an out there shoe look to begin with so in for a huge buckle penny in for a shiny silver pound, eh?

Moving away from my parents: Don’t want to put anyone on blast here, not least people who are responsible for funding the vast majority of my life, but let’s just say I have very much enjoyed some geographic distance from a few people who are not the most helpful to my mental health. Depression, actually improved. Anxiety, same. Acne, still fine because of my acne cream. 🙂

My new tattoo: A lot of big changes this September!!! Another being that my right arm has this big piece o’ black on it now! Claire at Tex Tattoo in SF did it for me and it is so gosh dang pretty. I wanted golden poppies (for sweet home California) and thistles (for sweet birthplace Scotland) and she whipped up this cute lil thing. My butt was numb and hurt by the end, but my arm didn’t feel too bad at all and it’s healing pretty well now. My parents are disappointed in me which is par for the course, I know the rest of my family is going to be o_O (I think this is an emoticon we need to bring back from the 2000s graveyard), and I myself think it looks so so nice.

3 – from my camera roll

Thank you cards I made for my internship office! I wasn’t the happiest with the middle one but I also lacked the time and energy to make a new one lol. For my last day we went out for lunch at a Mexican restaurant and they got me a California State Senate resolution which meant a lot to me. It’s good to be appreciated for ur work u kno!

This sign was at my vet one day and I mean, my god. Zoom in and you can see those lil animal faces. And my tears because it is so sad.

We did a lil day trip to SF to get my tattoo and had ramen in Japantown afterwards, as well as picking up some donuts for the drive back home.

Saw this sign in Berkeley on the way back – I think someone hacks into those traffic signs to say stuff like that :O ✊✊✊

I’m trying really hard to remember this! I think it’s important. My resilience being responsible for me being me – not shit that should not have been there in the first place. Just me taking care of me.

This is literally me every time I go to a Chinese restaurant without my parents lmao.

While my bf was helping me move in, we went to Santa Monica Pier where I saw my gosh darned name on a tourist knick knack for the first time in my entire life. It was less exciting than I thought it would be.

Lots of people go fishing here!! It’s wild.

I finally finished my cross stitch! I didn’t even properly finish it because I lost the instructions lmao; I think I was supposed to backstitch a detail or something. But I’m really happy with it! I have a lot of trouble doing art and creative things because I’m afraid of being bad at it – and that’s a thing I’m working on getting over because obviously when you learn new things you’re not amazing at them + sometimes it’s nice to do things you like even if you’re not really good. So I’m proud of myself for being persistent with this guy and I hope my next project doesn’t take me two years! (I’m not that bad, it took me 2 years mostly because I would start and then forget about it for three months and then pick it back up for a week and then repeat the cycle.)

And this is a wire grid from IKEA I got as ~decor~*. I’m really looking forward to making this space mine and feel like home, so this is me trying to decorate!

After moving/building furniture, we went out for a very late dinner at Fat Sal’s. We realized very quickly that this is definitely food that’s great at 2AM when you’re drunk.

It’s really bright in my room. My blinds don’t do anything! So I put up my towels in a sad attempt to block light and this is Luna being confused about my interior decor.

Actual images of me trying to be social and make friends right now lmao.

I leave you with this hILARIOUS Chinese meme.

4 – things i have not really liked at all

Long distance: My boyfriend and I are in a long distance relationship now with 400 miles between us. It feels pretty sad to not be able to drive fifteen minutes to see each other and have to schedule phone calls every couple days. I’m really thankful we’re making it work right now, but it’s just sort of sad, you know? When your individual life plans mean you kind of have to not be physically together. I don’t think I realized how sad some small things would be or just how empty it feels to receive 0 hugs a day instead of 30.

Being sick and lonely and a bit overwhelmed: The day before the quarter started I woke up with a sore throat, and I’ve still got a cold! It’s not great timing. This is kind of big change in my life and, you know, it’s not the easiest. I’ll figure it out in time, but right now I haven’t yet and it doesn’t feel great.

5 – reading + looking list

Tracy Ma’s typographic tour of Manhattan’s Chinatown for AIGA Eye on Design

I Was a Low-Income College Student. Classes Weren’t the Hard Part. by Anthony Abraham Jack for The New York Times Magazine

I may be just an ordinary orc, but I wasn’t at all surprised when the Dark Lord Sauron became the leader of Mordor. A lot of my smart, liberal friends, though, reacted as if Middle-earth was coming to an end.

[…]

It’s all very well for those of you who dwell in the Shire, the haven of Rivendell, or the quiet forests of Lothlórien. You live in a bubble. You don’t know what life is like for the average orc, in depressed areas like the Trollshaws, the Misty Mountains, or the Dead Marshes. Let me tell you, it’s hard out here for an orc. We experience tremendous insecurity, not knowing whether we’ll have a job, or be able to raid peaceful villages, or if our friends will eat us. Sauron appeals to us economically challenged goblins because he offers us the chance of a decent wage, respect for our values, and renewed pride in being the corrupted spawn of Morgoth.

[…]

And to those who say it’s time we choose someone like Lady Galadriel, forget it. There are still a lot of people who will never vote for an elf.

‘We Need a Wizard Who Can Appeal to the Moderate Orc Voter’ by David Howard for McSweeney’s

Vanessa Lianne’s custom signet rings: If I had more money and more of an inclination to buy things without feeling very guilty I’d like to get one of these that says Luna.

Active meditation: Victoria Hoff writing for The/Thirty on WhoWhatWear

GOOP has no issues weaponizing fears about femininity for profit. They use words like “pure,” “clean,” and “natural” — the same language as the patriarchy — to market supposedly better than conventional (but not really), yet definitely more expensive products as taking charge of your health.

GOOP has promoted vaginal steaming, the origins of which include the false belief that a uterus is full of toxins. If the myth weren’t so harmful, it would be laughable. If menstrual blood were filled with deadly toxins, how exactly does an embryo implant and thrive? 

This lie has been used to exclude menstruating women from school, work, and religious services. Vaginal steaming is a literal tool of the patriarchy. A literal tool of the patriarchy.

No GOOP, we are most definitely not on the same side by Dr. Jen Gunter

Maxwell Tilse’s illustrations and his Etsy shop

AM I OVERTHINKING THIS? Over-answering life’s questions in 101 charts by Michelle Rial


It’s been a big September for me, y’all. I’m not ready for whatever’s coming next but we’re gonna do it anyways. Have a good October!

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Life & Ramblings, School

first impressions

I am a resident of Los Angeles, California now. If I weren’t signed up for paperless billing, my credit card bill would go to LA, CA, USA. If I were faster at doing things on my to-do list, I would be registered to vote in the same city that Lauren Conrad is. (I have a very surface-level knowledge of her and assume that she both lives in LA and votes.)

I will be living here for at least the next two years of my life for school and feel, as with any ending/beginning I experience, funny about it. My boyfriend came to help me move in and as we walked around talking about how different everything is here compared to what we’re used to, he suggested I should write down some first impressions to revisit later. I love this idea and can’t believe I, a highly sentimental and stationery loving person, have never done it before in any of the places I’ve been.

So that’s what this is: the view from my first week here in LA. I hope I’ll be able to look back on this in a year, five, ten, seven hundred, and feel funny all over again.

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Life & Ramblings

august ’19 // month in review

1. LA again

We went to LA again! This time it was because I had my orientation for UCLA, where I enrolled in classes for my first quarter there, did some mandatory health and safety training, and listened to a lot of ‘welcome’ type talks. It was good, in that I still felt pretty nervous beforehand and afterwards those feelings were significantly lower. I think I just attribute that to there being a solid amount of information that helps me feel like things are going to be alright and there’s shit out there to help me when it’s not. A woman said to us that you’ve made transitions before, you’ve done them fine, and this is just another one that you can do too. I wrote that one down in my planner; it’s helpful to think of starting at UCLA as not an entirely new alien experience, but just a new transition that’s both similar and different to previous changes I’ve had in my life. So I’ve made transitions before, I’ll do it again, and this time around I can learn even more. 🙂

The view from the room where I enrolled in classes. I’ve heard friends talk about how difficult it can be to get the classes you need and my god, I understand why now! It feels like a mad rush when the enrollment window opens and you can see that there are 3 out of 157 seats still available in this class you want but the internet is slow and the discussion section you want isn’t available and your fingers are cramping and your bachelor’s degree depends on it!!!!

We had dinner at Malbec, an Argentinian restaurant. I’ve never had this cuisine before and it was delicious! I especially enjoyed the rice, which had peas and carrots in it, and the empanadas. I had to unbutton my skirt after the meal, which is how you know you did a good job and made your ancestors proud.

After eating there, we walked a few blocks to take a look at CalTech. It’s a really pretty campus and there’s a pond full of turtles (tortoises??). There’s apparently also a Pokestop (correct terminology?), as we saw a ton of groups clustered around one building looking at Pokemon Go on their phones. I’ve always swung towards the humanities/social science/art type interests, so going to places like CalTech makes me feel like “ah very science and technology, much prestige discovery, wow”.

A really nize painting at the Chinese restaurant we had dinner at.

The Hammer Museum! I’ve never been here before and I am so chuffed that I’ll be able to come here as it’s definitely walking distance from campus. I’ve never really lived in a place that feels full of art and “culture” (whatever this word means, you know) long-term, so that’s something I’m really excited to experience in LA. It’s something that’s helping me feel much more OK about uprooting myself into a new freaky place.

This piece by Sondra Perry, titled IT’S IN THE GAME ’17 or Mirror Gag for Vitrine and Projection, is so interesting. When I go to art museums/galleries, I take photos of pieces that really stick with me and their accompanying descriptive plaque, but I usually promptly forget about them in my mass of photos. In the spirit of remembering, here’s this one:

In the early 1990s, Electronic Arts (EA) Sports videogames were accompanied by the motto “If it’s in the game, it’s in the game.” The slogan became catchy enough that eventually EA Sports did away with the consequent clause […] Sondra Perry’s [work] takes as its starting point a class action lawsuit brought against EA Sports for the unlawful use of the names and likenesses of student athletes whose identities were licensed by the national Collegiate Athletic Association without their consent. The case in question involved Perry’s twin brother Sandy, who had previously played Division 1 basketball for Georgia Southern University […] Perry’s video draws a parallel between the absorption of physical bodies into the digital space of the games and the colonial foundations of encyclopedic museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, whose collections are based on artifacts that were removed from their original cultural contexts in an attempt to represent the expanse of World civilizations.

And this one features much less social commentary, but it’s Claude Monet’s 1884 View of Bordighera.

2. favorites

The straw lid for my water bottle: The Hydroflask I have just has a regular screw off lid to drink from. On account of being generally a bit clumsy and prone to distraction, I’ve spilled water on myself quite a bit while drinking from it. (The worst time was during class once – everyone was listening to the professor lecture and I thought, ‘hey, this is a great time to drink some water’. I lift the water bottle to my mouth, start drinking, and spill some water down my chin/shirt. The professor looks at me at that exact moment. He keeps lecturing and looks away like nothing’s happened BUT I KNOW HE SAW IT. Anyway, that moment clearly still haunts me, as I’m writing about it months after the fact.) I also think I drink much less water if my water bottle lacks a straw, because I can’t sip while walking or driving. All this to explain that I bought this for around $10 on Amazon and I like it more than the ~official Hydroflask straw lids because it has a bigger handle to hold your bottle in. It’s great! Water intake has increased! Embarrassing spillages have decreased!

Walking my cat: As you can see in the above photo, my cat is on a harness and a leash. It’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened in my whole life!!!!! I hope I can take her on walks to give her a lil more fun and exercise as we move from our big family house to a smol college apartment, but it’s early days yet and I’m kind of more scared than her lol.

Redwall: It’s not like I needed another cartoon show to cry about, but here we are. My bf and I are watching this on YouTube – he used to watch it as a kid on TV and I’ve never heard of it before. The seasons are distinct storylines, so the first season follows a mouse named Matthias who lives in Redwall Abbey. Matthias and his friends, including a badass badger named Constance and a funny English rabbit named Basil, are being attacked by Cluny the Scourge (a rat), so they must fight to defend their home. The second season, which we’re on right now, follows Matthias’ son, Mattimeo, who is kidnapped by Slagar the Slaver (a fox) and sold into slavery, along with all the other Abbey kids. We just finished the second season, I bawled my eyes out, and now we are starting the third!

3. not favz

Fahrenheit 451: I quite enjoyed this book (I even took a photo of this paragraph I really loved), but I’m popping it in the not favorite section because the bits afterwards really took me from 😌 to 😟. The edition I have, bought from a thrift store, is the 50th anniversary edition, so it had an afterword and a coda written by Bradbury himself and an interview with him. He said/wrote things that compared very valid criticism from women that there were no real female characters in his books (which is true! I was thinking to myself while reading it that it’s fucked how the circle of people Montag encounters at the end is entirely male!) to censorship or a difference of opinions that a white Southern man might have when POC are included in art. And it seems, based on the interview in the back of my edition, that Bradbury intended this to be a critique of the increasing consumption of TV, rather than any tyrannical government or censorship of books and ideas (which is what I mistakenly took from it). So, you know, Mixed bag here. Really did love some turns of phrase from this book, though!

4. camera roll + reading list

While I was away for my UCLA orientation, my bf took care of the cat and our house – he made her a little pizza!! I die from the cuteness, lord.

This is an old photo (are we still calling them tbts? @youth, what are we doing now?) of the British Library that I unearthed and posted on my Instagram. It is the literal prettiest.

How to Make Granola Without a Recipe from Epicurious: The tl;dr of this is 6 parts dry ingredients to 1 part wet, with at least 3 being rolled oats, the wet ingredients being made up of half oil, half sweetener + an egg white, whatever seasoning you want but definitely a pinch of salt, bake until golden brown at 300°F, ~45 minutes, and finally add dried fruit at the end so it doesn’t dry out while baking. I like to eat granola with Greek yoghurt, but I like it at a pretty extreme ratio so I always run out of granola suuuuper quickly. I also think a lot of the granolas out there are kinda extra and I’m not looking for free range quinoa coconut in everything, you know? So I made my own and it turned out great! I did oats, sliced almonds, walnuts, dried ginger, and vanilla extract/honey/cinnamon for my sweetener.

I decided my new planner for the academic year needed a new color code, and then I decided I wanted my Google Calendar to match. So I figured out the hex codes for these Mildliners lol.

I got into an Instagram meme spiral one night and looked at enneagram memes for hoooours with my brother. I’m a type 4 and my brother is a type 9. We LOLed a lot at these.

Jennifer Aniston’s Home from Architectural Digest: It’s beautiful! It looks homey and artsy and cozy and cool. I got onto this link from a Reddit thread that started with Kim and Kanye’s creepy looking mansion, and that one looks like a weird celebrity house… so this is like the polar opposite and is like, ah, they are doing the right thing with their mountains of money and fame. The bathroom has hand-painted floral wallpaper!!

UCLA’s brand guidelines: I’m not entirely sure how I got onto this page, but I think it must have been while I was trying to figure out what colors to use while editing photos for a blog post? In this class I took on the history of graphic design I learned that graphic designers will provide a list of guidelines for brands, to make sure they don’t fuck up the colors and logos. So this page is really interesting, as an inside look into the ~rules~ of color and design that UCLA uses.

Work Shutdown Ritual via Cal Newport: At the end of an average work day, Newport says he goes over his master task list, reviews his calendar for the next couple weeks, and, once he’s decided that he’s on top of everything, finally closes his computer and says “schedule shutdown, complete”. He says that after he says that, it helps put work-related worries and stresses to rest, as he’s said the “termination phrase” and he wouldn’t have done so if everything wasn’t taken care of. The general idea is that a ritual and a phrase to be said aloud upon completing the ritual will really help one’s ability to relax and focus on other things, like resting and recharging and not working. It’s summer now so I don’t have much need for it, but I think I might try it once the school year starts to try and quiet those school-related thoughts that pop up in my head right when I lie down in bed.

Plan.txt via Cal Newport: Another Cal Newport idea! He begins by saying that there are two main parts to productivity – one, organizing all the shit we have to do (which is, obviously, the fun part), and two, actually doing that shit. This blog post of his focuses on the second part. He says that he uses a plain text file named plan.txt to write an action plan for the week on Monday in a very freeform manner. By not being rigid – he says, some weeks it just says “work on X until it’s done” and others it’s longer, with specific people and deadlines mentioned – it helps him narrow in on what’s important to make progress on and in the short-term, he can just do it.

Glamour magazine’s ‘Money Tours’ series on YouTube looks at how women spend their money each month. This is the first video I watched from it and it’s still the best one, because she seems to have a really good handle on putting her money to work for her and saving where she can. It helps, of course, that her apartment is beautiful!!

My bf found some photos from our trip to SF and I think I look cooler than I am!

5. goal recap

THE GOOD

  • Sorted out my residency for UCLA
  • Signed my lease for my (room in an) apartment
  • Enrolled in classes for my first quarter
  • Took my car to be serviced
  • Got pest control for the ants in our house (except as of today September 3, 2019 THEY ARE BACK and my parents refuse to do much about it so I think I will just let them sit there because I’m outta here soon !)
  • Bought a cat tree, desk, and chair for my move
  • Trained my cat to walk on a harness and leash (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

THE NOT SO GR8

  • Learned how to cook my favorite dishes from my mom
  • Cleaned my bedroom/donated furniture (this is a perpetual item here lmao)
  • Was confused about orientation and didn’t enroll in all the classes I need for the double major I’m hoping to do (2 BE FAIR this is half my bad for not doing more research but half my orientation adviser’s bad for not u kno advising me correctly)
  • Honestly August was not half bad and I am being forgiving with myself for the stuff I didn’t do, bc I’m happy with where I spent my time! It’s my last month with my boyfriend and my bb brother and friends and whatnot before I leave, so I’m glad I did all that 🙂

Man this one was a long one. Thanks if you made it thru! :))

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Travel

rome 🇮🇹 walking around in the day & the trevi at night

I spent a little over a week in Rome this June with my dad – here are the photos!

We stayed in a hotel right next to the Pantheon, so it was a really good distance from touristy attractions. This was my first time in Italy/Rome; it felt a little surprising, in that it’s not a location that I’ve seen a lot of or thought a lot of so I didn’t have that many preconceived expectations about it. Anyway, Rome is a city with a orange/red/yellow and green color palette. The younger people all look like they’re fun at pubs and pool parties. The older people look like that too. And I’m into it all. So now I’m head over heels for both France and Italy.

I started this day wandering around semi-aimlessly by myself. My dad was doing work at the university, so I set out to meet him but took my time to look at whatever caught my eye. I wasn’t very on top of planning/researching, so I’m afraid I didn’t know what a lot of things were until later in the evening when I looked them up. This is the Capitoline Museum, which I reached after crossing a terrifying roundabout.

The Vittoriano, or Altar of the Fatherland, is for Italy’s first king, Victor Emmanuel II. The Capitoline Museum is behind it, but this huge marble edifice is what originally caught my eye and set me started on a path through an intense roundabout and a huge flight of stairs in the heat.

I so enjoy walking around by myself in a city – it’s freeing and fun, to think of nothing but what you want to do in a city where no one knows your name and you don’t know much either.

Now the evening! The Pantheon was literally a one minute walk from our hotel and, I mean, how wild to have slept next to this building for a week. To think about how much life this building has witnessed is entirely mind-boggling; from marriages to religious services for the Roman gods at first to the Catholic church it is today to modern-day tourists like me to travelers passing through ancient Rome to locals using it as a meeting point for drinks after work, it’s been there for all of it.

CONTINUE READING
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Life & Ramblings

july ’19 // month in review

1. a weekend in sf

July flew by, which is obvious because here I am two weeks into August writing this post lol. I spent a weekend in SF with my bf and my brother and I have a lot of photos to show for it! Otherwise, I have already completely forgotten most of what I did in July – so it’s a good thing I have some photos to fill this post up with.

A mural in the Mission of Carlos Santana.

This is SF’s City Hall! I’d never been there before and we just kind of stumbled across it, but now I finally know the location of the trendy photos everyone takes with those trees lol.

After walking around the Sutro Baths a bit on our first day there, we found a hot pot place in Richmond for dinner. They were very popular and busy so we had to wait, but it was worth it for all you can eat delicious hot pot! While we waited we walked around the area and got donuts down the street at Golden Donuts.

I saw so many lovely plants decorating the entry ways of houses and I felt really ~inspired~* for when I move into my own (room in an) apartment in September.

The Heath Newstand was a very cute, hipster, SF artsy type shop (or at least it felt like that to me, an out-of-towner). I loved the greeting cards and the books they had, especially the travel and art section.

We wandered into a good few random boutiques on the second day, and I was absolute heart eyes at all the art supplies at The Aesthetic Union. I do this thing where I take photos of things I want to buy but won’t let myself buy, like these compliment cards. (I think I do this because I’m pretty frugal with money and feel like I can DIY cards instead of buying them, but I feel liiiiiike it’s weird that it makes me feel an inordinate amount of guilt to buy a nice piece of art that makes me happy so maybe I should talk to a therapist about that.)

My bf saw this tent and said “omg, it would be perfect for Luna!”. I picked it up and saw that, wonder of wonders, it was actually intended to be a cat tent! Then we looked at the tag and it was almost $200, so we put it back to wait for the day when we are millionaires and can spend $200 on a cat tent.

This was outside a school – it says “curious and courageous”. :’)

The murals across SF are so so nice. These are from a brewery that we walked past, and the one above was in the Mission.

2. things i liked a lot

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui: My best friend from high school gave me this book while I was visiting her in LA, so this was my July read. It’s an illustrated memoir and pretty fast to get through because of that, and it was the first graphic novel type book I’ve read that hit me like a non-illustrated one would. She writes and paints with such care and skill and it felt so big to be able to read her story and her family’s history. I saw parts of myself and my Asian immigrant family in it, especially when she wrote about her relationships with her parents and their life in Vietnam. Other parts I couldn’t see us in at all. It feels intimate and foreign all at once, but most of all, it’s exactly what the quote on the back says – “a book to break your heart and heal it”. It was UCLA’s Common Book last year (? I think?) and I’m really :’) to have it as a memory of a visit to my best friend from high school for the school I’m starting at soon.

My Mango wide-leg jeans: I was going to take a photo of these, but honestly it’s the middle of August already and I just want to publish this post lol. Maybe I’ll add one later. In any case, I have the tag in my travel journal which is further down this page in my Rome journal spreads, so you can kind of see what they look like. On me, a person who is firmly 5’3, they look nothing like they do in the picture because they skim the top of my feet and are not culotte length – so that’s why they are my wide-leg jeans and not my culottes, lol. I got them in Rome with my dad and I’m really into the aggressively wide-leg look! I’ve realized lately that I’ve become very blah with my style, wearing the same things all the time, and it bugs me because I remember being into putting outfits together and having fun with experimenting like that. I’m trying to remember that feeling and also trying to dress in a more interesting way – it’s not worked out yet, but we’ll see where we get lol.

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe: This is a webcomic about the Greek gods that I kept seeing Instagram ads for and my god, they know exactly what kind of people to target with those ads, because I caved and clicked and I’m obsessed with this comic now!!!!! I have push notifications on (and I only have notifications turned on for like 10 apps on my phone that are ‘important’ like banking and messages, not even Instagram!!!) so I know immediately when a new update is up!!!! I LOVE THE GODDAMN THING AND I’M EVEN THINKING OF CONTRIBUTING VIA PATREON!!!! …Anyway, this is a webcomic mainly about Hades and Persephone and I adore the artist’s style of art. It deals with things like sexual assault and toxic parenting really well, and it’s fun and gorgeous to read. I cannot believe an Instagram ad for Webtoon brought this into my life and knew exactly what I wanted. I also know full well that I was a child with a book of 101 illustrated Greek myths that I read cover to cover at least twenty times so, you know, that last sentence is a complete lie.

3. things i did not like a lot

Photographers, Instagrammers – Stop Being So Damn Selfish and Disrespectful from Paul Reiffer’s blog: If you’ve gone anywhere in the past few years, you’ve probably taken a photo for the ‘gram or helped someone take one for the ‘gram or seen a lot of people taking pics for the ‘gram. And, like, this is not to be old man yelling at a cloud about it, but I think we all need to look critically at our photo-taking habits and reassess whether we really need a photo in this lavender field right now. I like Instagram as much as any Gen Z gal, but it’s hard to deny how narcissistic it can make us, as well as how a photo op can be incredibly disrespectful to lands and people. Reiffer is a photographer who wrote this blog post after seeing the lavender fields in Provence overrun by people trying to get their shot. I think Instagrammers, Chinese wedding shoots (idk about other groups bc I’m Chinese? But omg the Chinese wedding shoot thing is like. A WHOLE THING. It’s wild.), photographers, and normal everyday folk alike have a hand in this, and I think Reiffer could have been a little more self-aware of the role he and his fellow photographers have played. Overall though, it’s an interesting read from a photographer’s perspective.

These weren’t people wanting to enjoy the view – or even capture the scenery to share and enjoy well into the future with friends. These are people so obsessed with their own sense of self-importance for the sake of a few instant “likes” on their social media profile that they find it perfectly acceptable to trespass, steal, disrespect the workers and their land – all in the name of “influencing”.

+ how I don’t remember anything else from this month lol

4. camera roll

Something Shalom said to me after I read one of her Instagram captions that really fucking ~spoke to me~ after a week of feeling hardcore imposter syndrome and freaking out about what I’m doing and where I’m going. I wrote it in my planner and I’m trying to remember it still.

I finally finished journalling my Rome trip!

Saw this on my Instagram explore tab, went :o. You guys think it’s true?! I’d like to try it out the next time I’m writing a paper.

Luna’s turned five!!!!! This was my bf’s birthday cake, so don’t worry, we didn’t serve her chocolate cake lol. We just put Luna-appropriate candles on it and gave her extra tuna for dinner. 🙂

I also screenshotted this from somewhere on Instagram (I think someone’s story) and I’d like to read her book. I struggle a lot with the feeling of constantly disappointing my parents, and it would be more OK if I didn’t have accompanying not-super-high self-worth/-esteem. I’m learning every day that it’s not my job to satisfy my parents’ needs and wants; sometimes people are unhappy because they want to be, not because of me.

While sorting my clothes into piles of keep and don’t keep, I tossed my bf’s sweater to the side. And Luna jumped on it immediately, curled right up, and fell asleep. Can you believe this little bub?!?!?? Ach, my heart.

VERY USEFUL BANANA INFO !!

5. goal recap

THE GOOD

  • Got prescription sunglasses
  • Went through all my clothes and got rid of a whole bunch via consignment/donation
  • Applied for my UCLA student ID card
  • + some other miscellaneous school stuff
  • Took my cat to the vet for her annual check up
  • Started working on my cross stitch again
  • Finished my travel journal for my trip to Rome

THE NOT GR8

  • Did not donate various items of furniture that I’ve been meaning to do 4 4evr
  • Did not seriously look for/apply for scholarships
  • Completely stopped writing in my planner so I don’t know what I wanted to do but did not lol

That’s all for July! If I do August on time, I’ll see you in two weeks lol.

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