The upside of hurricanes

So unless you live several feet beneath the earth under a teetering pile of heavy rocks (to which I say, I’m sorry and you better GET THE HECK OUT OF THERE!) or haven’t encountered any form of media or other human beings in the past 48 hours, here is your delayed newsflash (although if you’re reading this blog over checking the news or looking outside your window, you need to reset your priorities): there was a hurricane this weekend. You’re welcome.

Not only was there a hurricane, but it was apparently supposed to bring the apocalypse along with it. Fun!!! Or at least that’s what you’d think from all the coverage this Irene character had been getting. I’ll be settling down with a good book to read by candlelight once this hullabaloo has passed.. IF I LIVE.

My parents were supposed to get on a flight to Korea last night, but it got delayed until Wednesday. My dad’s taking his sabbatical for 10 months over there, doing research with companies, teaching at the university, and generally embracing his full-fledged nerdiness. My mom is going for a couple of weeks to help him move in and make sure that his apartment is stocked with more than just ramen packets and peanut butter (left to his own defenses, my dad would have the eating standards of a college frat boy).

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Public service announcement

I interrupt my scheduled hiatus from WordPress to bring you: AVATAR

My, what blue skin you have..

“When people have an experience that’s very powerful in the movie theatre, they want to go share it. They want to grab their friend and bring them, so that they can enjoy it. They want to be the person to bring them the news that this is something worth having in their life.” -James Cameron

With that said.. THIS IS SOMETHING WORTH HAVING IN YOUR LIFE. For serious. I came out of the theater in complete awe and fascination and knowing that I had witnessed something historic in cinema. More than 10 years in the making, this was basically Cameron’s passion project and every detail of every scene was clearly placed with painstaking precision and artistry.

Yes, the screenplay sucked and contained some shockingly cringe-worthy dialogue, the anti-war and pro-environmentalism themes were immediately evident, and the plot could just be construed as an “alien Pocahantas” story (as one of my friends matter-of-factly stated), but that’s obviously not where the power of the film lies. If going to the movies is supposed to be an escape from reality and the dullness of daily life, there really isn’t any place more lush and vibrant and spectacular where you would want to run away from your earthly existence than Pandora. And even though it boggles my mind to think that even this technology will be antiquated in a few decades or so, right now, it’s the best that we’ve got and I STRONGLY URGE every arts-appreciating citizen to go and experience the magic. (Or visit Disney World – whichever’s easier.)

Plus, Neytiri has a sick bod! Very lean and feline. If I took away anything in those 2 hours and 30 minutes, it’s that adoption of the Na’vi workout plan into my less-than-stellar physical regimen must begin immediately.

</End propaganda here>

Oh yeah, and entries from abroad and half-hearted New Year’s resolutions will be coming soon to a blog near you (this one). Stay tuned.

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Barnes & Noble has FREE WI-FI NOW?! AND offers red velvet cupcakes at select locations?!? If it’s trying to become my new favorite place in the entire universe, it’s clearly working. The last time I came here often was in high school when it was the ultimate HOTSPOT for afterschool study sessions. Like, it was pretty much the only place where large groups of us could meet up and get dropped off without our parents disapproving. (Leave it to Asians to claim a quiet space filled with books as their main social grounds.) Many an unproductive evening was spent browsing the magazine rack and selecting about 5 to take up with me as a prelude to actual studying, snuggling up in one of those ridiculously comfortable sofas that would literally mold itself to accommodate my body, flipping through my glossy selections while chattering away with whomever was around me, and finally opening my backpack, grabbing a textbook and attempting to cram some information in my reluctant brain 30 minutes before store closing. Good times. I distinctly remember coming up the escalator one night to see half my Biology class sprawled out on the floor next to the bookshelves because all the other tables were occupied and doing last-minute studying for our exam the next day. So of course I flopped stomach-first on to the ground and joined them – if you’re gonna go down, might as well have fun doing it, amirite? (This life motto might need some modification later.)

I got the best sleep all summer last night because I had stayed up for approximately 48 hours before I hit the sack, definitely the longest I’ve been awake since school with its exhausting all-nighters ended in May. I was up until 6 a.m. sitting in my kitchen blasting my girly pop radio station on Pandora, eyeing (but successfully resisting!!!) the ice cream mix my dad bought and placed in my direct line of vision, and getting hand cramps from the 220 seating cards I was attempting to write my sister’s wedding guests’ names on in “calligraphy.” Which basically meant the first Google image of ‘calligraphy alphabet’ as my guide and an inky pen that took forever and a year to assemble. No joke, there is nothing quite so frustrating as directions that insist on using names that don’t make sense to you – like, “Place converter into nib section. Immerse whole nib. Pull plunger out slowly. Replace barrel.” Um.. WHAT?! (rage ensues) Why can’t they just say ‘Take the clear thingy that looks like a cross between a bike pump and a pogo stick and squeeze it into the pointy end until black stuff that looks like you might be able to scribble on a paper with drips out accordingly.’ See, isn’t that better? I should be a professional instructor. Payment in the form of frosted pastries, obvi.

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If this blog were a library, I’d owe $1000

Well, I’ve done it. I have single-handedly made a fool of myself in the vast blogosphere community and quite possibly to any potential employers who have stumbled on to this page’s sad sorry state.  Why, oh why did I think it was a brilliant idea to include this site’s URL on my resume? (And not even buried within lines and lines of exaggerated self-flattery mind you; I put it aaaall the way at the top. Right next to the slightly obnoxious font-size-200 letters of my name.) Adding on to the fact that I’ve liberally handed out said resume to a fairly large number of people, I don’t know which is worse – the fact that I haven’t actually updated this thing in 6 months, or that the last time I did update, I linked to a poll on a gossip (but informative! and sharp!) website about who’s the sexiest new member of our president’s administration. In my defense, this was clearly an issue that needed to be addressed. (And for the record, our undeniably good-looking Chief of Staff – and my top choice – did emerge victorious.)

I’m glad to say, I’ve changed since then. (I mean, I totally still crush on Barry O, but I’ve tried to tone down the objectification a little bit now that he’s, you know, the leader of the free world and all.) Or rather, not entirely changed, but I have at least accomplished some of my previously mentioned goals for the year. For starters, I landed my very own internship in the city! Anyone who’s had the misfortune of hearing me moan how badly “I waaaant oneee” last semester can affirm that this desire was almost on par with my demands of having Honey BBQ wings delivered to my dorm at 3 a.m. the night(s) I said I was going to run on the treadmill but got hungry reading food blogs instead. After months of agonizing wait since my interview, and a lot of all-nighters spent firing off emails to any internship listing I could find, I was offered a spot in the Conde Nast 2009 Summer Intern Program and am now placed in the editorial department at Brides Local Magazines. Fortuitous, considering my one and only sibling and recent addict of anything wedding-related is getting married in August (like I also mentioned in my last post!). Funny how these things work out, no?

It’s about 5 weeks in and I love my job and realize how awesome of an opportunity I’ve been given to participate in the actual production of a publication. No, it’s absolutely nothing like The Devil Wears Prada, nobody’s a size 0, and I don’t wear heels to work every day. Granted, I haven’t worn any form of pants for the past 3 weeks (and still going strong), but that’s more out of personal choice and refusal to tolerate zipper/button restraint on my lower half as I eat my way through Manhattan than enforced dress code. Anyway, I kind of enjoy being the lowest rung on the employee ladder and paying my dues – lucky for me, my editors want me to help out and contribute to the magazine and website and don’t have me running around fetching coffee or dry cleaning. (I did make a Starbucks run once, though I think I might have botched their usual orders and went a little cream-crazy because they haven’t sent me since.)
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Cabinet candy

Click away! —> Obama hotties.

After my fleeting interest in frat boy Jonny, Rahm’s starting to climb up my political lust list – he’s got that whole deep, dark, distinguished thing down pat. (And why yes, we ARE on first-name-speed-dial-meet-for-brunch basis actually.) Aw, and there’s the token Asian guy! Spotted: nose buried in book, eyes averted from camera. Time to show Bashful some love, ladies.

Sometime in the future, I’ll actually post a halfway intelligible entry about Obama and stop treating him like a piece of meat, I swear. Until then, let the Capitol Hill-crushing continue! Heh heh.

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Bright lights, long nights

First and foremost – happy new year! 2008 had its brief sparkling moments – new friends, awesome spring semester (alas, not because of good grades or anything else remotely rewarding), first internship, California, Cancun – but overall, there was much to improve on. This past fall was kind of a downer in terms of fizzled relationships and strained academics but an eye-opener that I desperately needed.  I realized just how much growing up I have left to do – my adaptability got frustrating to the point that I felt like I was waking up every day trying to be completely different from the morning before. My goals kept shifting, my motives were murky and I became obsessed with maintaining multiple versions of myself at a time, to better fit each situation and please every person. While I can’t necessarily say that this will come to a complete halt in the new year, I definitely have a singular idea of what kind of person (friend, student, daughter, etc.) I want to become and will stretch myself to stay devoted in reaching that.

This week has also affirmed that the city is the place for me, post-grad and God-willing! I still can’t navigate anywhere outside Times Square and have yet to understand the little shapes and colors that mark the subway system (as my friends who get my desperate phone calls of, “…Where am I!?!?!!” at all hours of the day can attest to), but being lost and confused and then stumbling into some underground haven is all part of the intoxicating city experience, I suppose. Last Tuesday I met up with my childhood friend Carol, also an avid foodie, and spent hours poring over review sites the night before to pick eateries whose patrons would get the honor of seeing us stuff our faces.

Three tier tray? We approve.

Three tier tray - we approve. @ Alice's Tea Cup

Reasons I love hanging out with Carol:

1) Her natural charisma.
2) Our easy, spirited conversation.
3) Her willingness to spend inordinate amounts of money on food with me even while she’s suffering through severe stomach pains.

Seriously, what a trooper. We went to a lively little Cuban restaurant in the Village where we were promptly seated and then given a tutorial by the adorable (and slightly buzzed) gay couple next to us on what to do with the mysterious sugarcane stick that came with our (sweet fruity delicious) mojitos. “Chew, don’t bite!” I obviously can’t follow directions properly considering I sat there for five minutes gnawing at my piece with my molars, spitting and slurping and looking all kinds of attractive, but to no avail. We bumbled about afterward with sangria-infused merriment and as we engaged in our weary rants of “What am I going to do with my liiiiiiife,” Carol said if all else fails, she’d open a bakery. Or plant some sugarcane fields. I mean, even in a recession people have to have their fluffy, fresh-baked goods and a little homegrown sugar to go along with it, right? It’s genius.

As for the new year, I love having fresh slates, or at least ones that I can continue writing on without too much guilty retrospect, and am genuinely excited for the new semester. Although I currently have a review, two columns, and a million applications and emails to write, it feels good to be busy again. Fun classes, spring break, hopefully-God-pretty-please an amazing summer internship, sister’s wedding, then vive la France! Bring it on 2009, let’s see what you got.

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My debit card transaction history during finals week:

12/11/2008 MC-CAMPUSFOOD COM 2126163070 -$37.00 Send a secured message to WaMu about this transaction
12/11/2008 MC-APL*ITUNES 866-712-7753 -$3.18 Send a secured message to WaMu about this transaction
12/10/2008 MC-DOMINICKS RESTAURANT SYRACUSE -$30.00 Send a secured message to WaMu about this transaction
12/10/2008 MC-CAMPUSFOOD COM 2126163070 -$15.00 Send a secured message to WaMu about this transaction
12/9/2008 MC-UNIQUE TEA CAFE SYRACUSE -$10.21 Send a secured message to WaMu about this transaction
12/8/2008 MC-JIMMY JOHN S #999 QPS SYRACUSE -$5.62 Send a secured message to WaMu about this transaction
12/8/2008 MC-STARBUCKS USA 00075Q48 SYRACUSE -$6.00 Send a secured message to WaMu about this transaction

Ah, my eyes! Make it go awayyyy.

The steadily increasing cost of food-related purchases is not looking so good for my thinning wallet/expanding waistline combination. And sadly yes, due to my school’s strict policy against music-pirating which I am too technologically disabled to get around, I’m left with no choice but to buy songs off iTunes. THE HORROR. I’m a huge fan of beating the system if it results in me getting things for free, so this is kind of a big deal. Perhaps I am growing up? (Maybe, but only for about 8 months out of the year – the other 4 at home are spent frantically downloading every song I’ve heard since middle school  and overloading my iPod with all my glorious smuggled music.)

On that melodic note, I’d just like to mention that I am officially in the holiday spirit so…Christmas songs galore! And by galore, I mean on repeat for at least 10 hours a day. This one never fails to put a big stupid grin on my face:

Aww, how can you NOT giggle at Justin’s bleached curls and 90’s dance moves made up of excessive hand-clapping and awkward upper body motion? (I’m especially loving the multiracial babies about halfway through. As most people know – maybe I should stop making this information so public – little black boys are my weakness. If they’re also rockin’ the fro like this adorable one, I squeal outwardly and melt inside.)

Anyway, I digress, which I often do when I’m looking for any excuse not to finish my papers, which is basically what this blog entry was for, so back to it. Enjoy the boy band-crooning in the meantime because next up on the playlist is Britney. (Since I seem to use parenthetical asides primarily for shameful confessions, I’ll admit it. I teared watching her MTV documentary.) But can’t fight it – the pop royalty is back and looking GOOD. Seriously, can I look like that after two consecutive pregnancies, please? I assume it’s nothing that a little exercise and craving control can’t solve. Hmm. And therein lies the problem. Anybody up for some hardcore gym action…after the 25th? (Let’s be real now, no one skips Christmas dinner.)

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Wishful thinking

In lieu of the impending holidays, I’ve decided to put together a wishlist of sorts for my current longings and insatiable desires. On Friday, December 5 at 9:24 p.m., I wish that:

-Starbucks would set up a permanent coffee stand in the BB elevators, so that when I must endure the headache-inducing, patience-testing ride from the lobby to the 12th floor (while a mixed odor of rusty metal and late night campus food pervades my nostrils), I can at least have the warmth of a tall caramel macchiato in one hand and freedom to punch whichever sheepishly apologetic person gets off at the 2nd floor.

-Someone undyingly devoted to me and well-versed in Marxist literature would write my English paper while I provide them with snack breaks and endless entertainment (but not enough to distract them from completing my barely-started assignment).

-The university would build an underground transportation system, preferably designed like a full-feature steel roller coaster, complete with seat straps and the occasional loop-de-loop.

-I could avoid all awkward run-ins with “only friends on Facebook” friends and not be compelled to carry on a stilted, 3-minute conversation concerning the frigid weather conditions of upstate New York.

-There were more people like Jon Favreau in my life. 27-year-old head speechwriter to Obama means 1) Hot, 2) Eloquent, 3) VIP access to The Man. Swooning much? Yes, yes, I am.

-It was easier for me to convey my love and appreciation for close friends and family. I know I may seem aloof and indifferent at times (and I’m really trying to work on that!), but I care about you a lot more than you think.

-I could fly, be invisible, stop time, and read minds, all for various important reasons. And I guess if I’m wishing for impossible skills that I’ll never acquire, learning how to cook something other than ramen would be nice, too.

-Unfettered curiosity and passion would get you more in life than personal enlightenment and an assortment of useless information.

Sigh, a girl can dream.

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Stuffing for my mind

Do you like my (transparent) attempt at a holiday-appropriate title? It took me a whole two minutes to think of! Trying to be creative is clearly not for the post-buffet, tryptophan-addled mind.

I kind of love being home. I don’t really know what about it is so pleasant but whenever I come back, it really seems like I never left and that’s always a nice, calming feeling that I don’t think I’ll tire of. The familiarity of my neighborhood, the three hefty meals and multiple in-between snacks that I can expect from my master chef of a grandma (even away from college, the weight gain’s relentless), the inside jokes and instinctive comfort I find in my high school friends, even the predictability of the perennial arguments I will always get into with my parents but know that we will disregard a few hours later due to our shared inability to stay angry past dinnertime.

The past few days have been pleasantly low-key; went into the city for an interview and had my first Chipotle burrito in all its south-of-the-border deliciousness, caught up with everyone at the annual high school football game (which yes, I came during the fourth quarter of), had an extended Lee family & Co. gathering at my house complete with an interesting fusion of Korean food and traditional Thanksgiving dishes, and went through a slew of failed Black Friday plans due to my aversion to finishing schoolwork, instead spending the day in front of my laptop with a fleece blanket wrapped around me and grabbing anything edible within arm’s reach, much to my sister’s protests.

Various comments to me from my sister throughout the day:

“I can’t believe you just ate that entire bag of shrimp crackers.”


“Did you seriously eat that whole thing?”

“Put. The Spoon. Down.”

“Two words, Hoyoon! Self control.”

And my personal favorite:

“Oooohhh, piggy piggy piggy.”

Jess and I have some grand plans for today to make up for the utter slothfulness that was Friday, so hopefully will have fun stories and a barrage of photos to share later. I realized I have 3 1/2 papers due when I get back, none of which have crossed my mind this break until about five minutes ago. Perhaps I should attempt to remedy this situation, maybe type a few introductory sentences or at least a heading before I go out for the night, but highly, highly doubt I will follow through with this momentary contemplation.

Indeed, the thought has passed. Heading downstairs with the cousin to watch Science of Sleep and feast on Thanksgiving leftovers. We are truly unstoppable.

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Theater 2.0

(Note: This is a pending, unedited post for my JERK movie blog.)

Cigarettes are expensive, video games are draining, and porn is – to put it mildly – rather distasteful. But, I will confess that I am helplessly, irreversibly addicted to one thing: the Internet. The source of all my academic woes, the great World Wide Web has been responsible for many a delayed homework assignments, luring me through my laptop screen’s unfailing incandescence (damn the long battery life!) and refusing to release until my contacts had sufficiently dried out from watching YouTube clips that range from movie scene montages to captured moments of homemade hilarity. (My ongoing obsession is cute baby videos. I’d like to think it’s premature maternity kicking in, but others just tell me I’m borderline creepy.)

I am most definitely not alone in this productivity-hindering endeavor – according to Nielsen, viewer ratings for YouTube averaged a whopping 81 million in September alone. Multiple features, such as the “related videos” sidebar, cater to your interests and abet your search for the freaky/sad (ie: snake baby) to the downright adorable (PANDA SNEEZE!…I need a new hobby). But what is it about this rapidly growing social media tool that makes it so incredibly addictive?

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