I mean it's totally fair

To start writing again after 3.5 years.

I will just say that this weekend included the viewing of two movies that seem to have very parallel plots.

God Help the Girl (Saturday late-night streaming)
Broadcast News (Sunday evening DirecTVing)

shells

I can't necessarily believe that I haven't posted anything in more than a year, but since my Elle.com horoscope says that my "biggest year in over a decade begins this month", and because I've just cleaned most of the apartment, I wanted to just sit and write.

I know irrefutably that it affects somehow your mental state to force yourself to write.  Is that the reason for which 2010 was so ... jumbled up and bereft of meeting?

To do a quick recap:
  • I moved back to Brooklyn.  I found a job at Google that sounded perfect on paper - but not without having gained 10 pounds over the course of 3 months of unemployment.  
  • I reconnected with friends old and new.  I hung out a ton with Scott.
  • I went food shopping.  I decorated my apartment and tried to lose those 10 pounds.
  • I bought a Kindle and started reading a ton more.

When I apply a discerning and disciplined eye to that year of life in those 4 bullet poinds, I find there's very little to be said.  The same could be said of my professional resume.

I'm looking for a new job, less than 12 months later.  And hopefully, something more in my life as well.  There.  Committed to in writing!

iceland without a camera!!!

but, with Homeblest Digestive Biscuits and the ever-present cranberry juice.

got to Reykjavik after a wonderfully stressful morning - the snow in Fontainebleau made a normally 25 minute trip from Barbizon to school to train station take more than an hour.

and then Keno missed the train, with us and his bag on it.

and then i had to pee soooo bad.

small small things

wow, maybe the longest time not posting ever!

i got inspired by daul kim's blog, i like to fork myself.

obviously inspired since i'm not typing in capitals. is it something about the student life that makes capitalization so tiring?

and meanwhile i'm just completely tired ... unsure whether it's my usual change of seasons fatigue, or my also quite usual fatigue of an insular situation. INSEAD it's been real, but i think it's time to go home.

things outside the usual that have also cheered me up:

sculpture: Rodin


baked goods: banana bread


nature: Fontainebleau forest


Chanel nail polish: dragon


Superlative Shopping Day

Remember my olive green corduroy coat from study abroad, junior year?

No?

Well, it was from a company called Sessun.  I bought it at a skater/snowboarder-y shop in Lyon, back in 2002 and wore it to death.  I loved that coat.  It was warm and full of attitude.

Today we rode into Paris and what should I see in the 11eme but a Sessun STORE?!?  I bought another adorable coat - this time a navy blue detachable hood option spring jacket with stripey lining.  Life started to seem really grand.  Also given the potentials of great conversation with Adriana and Romain over lunch at Pause Cafe.

Then a party tonight.  I begin to realize that not everything that goes wrong in life is my fault, and that some things are simply not meant to be.  Simultaneously exhilarating and annoying.  I don't know what to feel guilty about if not EVERYTHING.


Supergahhhhhh

I just recharged my new French pre-paid plan.  This involved going downstairs, standing in line at the tabac, buying a card, scratching off the code...listening to my options in French, and finally selecting VeryGoodTime.  I hope it is a very good time.  France is too expensive not to be a VeryGoodTime.

Now back at the apartment.  Had what I would like to imagine was a very French dinner of Emmental and prosciutto (leftover from dinner with Romain two nights ago) and a glass of Corbieres rose.  It's going straight to my head, thank goodness!

I miss my Singapore crew.

Pizza Hut and THEN McDonalds?!?!

On a Sunday night, there is nothing else to do but eat disgusting fast food.

I did exempt from Macroeconomics.  I just made a makeout mix on iTunes using Morphine's "The Night" as the Genius source.  Fifteen songs.

Things to experience: "Goodbye Lenin" and "Be Kind Rewind".

Things to never repeat:  Pizza Hut + McDonalds + 4 Asahis.  It's just too much.

Singapore Doesn't Make Anything

Because it has no natural resources.

That's why it made me so happy to go to Korea and buy wonderful cheap pens!

However, it did feel nice to come back to Singapore and its sultry tropical weather.  I am now studying in just such weather at our dining room table for the P3 macroeconomics exemption exam.  I took macro roughly a trillion years ago, but it still rings a very faint bell.  Hopefully the ringing will get louder by 4pm tomorrow afternoon.

I arrived in Korea early on Thursday morning, flip flops on and laptop off (minutes later, I figured out that I had probably left it at Immigration, which I had ... and it was returned to me within an hour and a half.)

Since then, I've visited my grandpa in the hospital, where he's recovering nicely from spine surgery he had two weeks back.  I've eaten my FAVORITE ice cream - it is red bean ice cream, inside a mochi which is made of a Korean green plant whose English name I don't know ... encased in a waffly outside.  Despite having forgotten that it existed, I really missed it.

Today I visited my cousin Sehyo at her work at the hospital - she was wearing a lab coat and her life is not very much like Grey's Anatomy, although she is certainly enjoying it.  And then I met up with Jaime Oberlander at a Starbucks in Shinchon for coffee and speed-reminiscing/catching up.  And then my other cousin, Hansu, in Shinsa-dong.  I made him wait while I spent the equivalent of $160 on stolen clothes.  I totally scored some Yves Saint Laurent and Mayle.  Um, this is the stuff my dreams are made of!  I might go back tomorrow morning...

Finally Hansu and I sat down and had our usual heart to heart about life, dreams, and guilt as the hookah smoke coalesced around us.  I totally can't believe that I'm older now than he was when we last saw each other, when I was here after college.  Now I'm back at my uncle's house in Banpo, after having gotten utterly confused about how to get in without disturbing anyone (there is no way).

Oh, and I bought the wrong size of white Cons (which I needed because I didn't have anything other than the flip flops).  So if anyone wears size 6.5 and wants some nearly pristine white lo-tops, let me know.

And perhaps most tellingly, I took an ONLINE QUIZ last night.  Here are the results.  I have already made a lot of it, believe me...

Upper Body

I'm totally digging Deezer right now - I found out about it from Javier one day a couple of Saturdays ago while we were all studying at school.

I finally figured out the whole 'add to playlist' aspect of it, and I'm unearthing a sorry slew of songs from the olden times.  For example, rediscovering:

  • Natalie Merchant and Dar Williams
  • Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
  • The Bluetones
  • Aaliyah
As per the always, I'm atavistically returning to the music from freshman year of college, plus or minus 3 years.  So if you have any recommendations from those magical times of wild MP3 downloading, please let me know!  I need to procrastinate from writing this paper for my "Leading People and Groups" class.  Hence this blog entry.

Yes, Mom...

"I can afford to order $209.96 worth of sale stuff from J. Crew, but I can not afford to call you internationally."

I love 'me' time.  This hasn't always been the case, I suppose, although it is possible that it has and I just didn't feel comfortable acting on it.

Fickle Internet

Has cut me off from the world outside this fine city-state.

I have a tremendous headache right now from a major freakout about losing my wallet at IKEA.  The cab driver very patiently drove me back to the store and waited as I zigzagged past shoppers to the security office.

Also potential cause of headache is my miraculous immunity to jetlag.  I stayed awake all of New Year's Eve and woke up bright and early New Year's Day (but not too early!) and am very ready for sleep (but not too sleep!)

How does it make sense that in the many many malls Marita and I visited today, there was only ONE floppy-brimmed sunhat?  But many DOWN PUFFER JACKETS and woolen SCARVES!?

So sweaty and disgusting.  Signing off.

And then...

Unpacking, repacking.
Changing all subscriptions to "electronic".
Change of address form.
Haircut, manicure.
Selling furnitures.
Ruefully hating all physical objects.

Final Steps

Packing.
Spending remaining "flex dollars" on incredible, chic new glasses.
Sneaking back into the Google offices (not sneaking, just badgelessly entering) to pick up my holiday bonus G1!

Cowardice

The extent of my cowardice, or discretion, disturbs and wracks my soul.

Wittgenstein

Potentially only because I like so much to say his name...
The whole sense of the book might be summed up in the following words: what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence. 
Ludwig Wittgenstein
I have a bad habit of being surprised or moved by some experience, and then needing it to share it with all at hand, despite the fact that generally, it's something I "cannot talk about".

Routines

This morning's routine:

I wake up due to the hissing and puffing of my radiator, which generally starts up around 7am and actually rouses me by 7:30am.  My body feels completely desiccated.  This morning in particular, I felt my soul recoiling in terror that I might have a hangover from the 4 beers and 3 tequila shots I had with Luis last night.

The dream that I woke up from was a strange amalgamation of the Sex and the City movie and my work life.  A very plausible one, as it happens.  I dreamt that they were casting Googler extras for a scene taking place in the DVF store (not right across from our office, but close enough) and that I, I would be chosen.  But makeup would have to be applied to make me look "harder".  I gleefully acquiesced and started to dream-move towards the makeup chair, and then I woke up.

Couch Life

I've already elaborated on the non-stop eating that I do when I go home.  Much of the eating takes place on our living room couch where my mom and I basically remain rooted throughout the day, like small and chirpy devices in a cushion-bedecked charger.


Sample interaction:
Me, looking through The Sartorialist for haircut ideas:  "How about this one?  Oh...My hair already looks like this."
Mom: [kicks me]

And then, just now, my mom singlehandedly came up with a brilliant scheme for how to potentially decide on some rent details in our Singapore apartment.  It's a good, good time.

Anyway, here I am, back on the couch again, and in dependable fashion, both Star Wars IV and The Fellowship of the Ring are on cable.  
Inexplicably, I've had two conversations with completely unrelated people recently about The Lord of the Rings.  I'm never sure how enthusiastically I should chime in...geeking out is kind of an all or nothing deal.  And yet I feel strangely tepid about arguing the case for my favorite non-humanoid Star Wars characters (Admiral Ackbar, Nien Nunb).  Or, sure, my own passing regret over no Tom Bombadil or Farmer Maggot scenes in the first LOTR movie.  But being a fan of anything, except maybe the Penn Music Department on Facebook, doesn't really feel like me.  These days.

Another beautiful quotation, this one posted high on the wall of a beautiful home furnishings shop in Hudson:
It was the queer old complexion of the long straight street, however, that most came home to me: Hudson, in the afternoon quiet, seemed to stretch back, with fumbling friendly hand, to the earliest outlook of my consciousness.
I wish I'd taken a photo now to depict in what an uncanny, and graceful, way, this summed up my own feelings about boutique-hopping in the quietest town ever.

Never Full and Never Hungry

Something about being at home flips a switch in my appetite.

Such that it is always on.  It doesn't really matter what I've eaten during the day, or how my food habits have been.  As soon as I get back into the house where I grew up, my stomach expands into a bottomless pit.  To wit, since coming home five hours ago, I've eaten:
  • 2 crab-stuffed shrimp(?!)
  • barley and vegetable soup
  • pomegranate chocolate torte
  • tofu casserole with rice and kimchee
  • a sweet potato
  • cauliflower and chestnut gratin
  • 3 glasses of red wine
  • cheese cubes
Perhaps more?  Well, I just ate another bowl of the soup.  And I just took out two pies out of the oven, so I might cut myself a sliver of one, just to taste.  

I always think that it'll subside by the next day, but then it doesn't.  Maybe this time?  

When I get nervous, my brain prompts me to say the second or third thing it thinks, and not the first.  I'm playing against instinct most of the time.  It can be confusing to auditors,  to say nothing of myself.  It is extremely distasteful.

Also ... I'm absolutely petrified now, watching the coverage of terrorist attacks in Mumbai.  I saw one man say that he saw "bloodshed and all that" in a way that was eerily familiar to me. Oh, and a man who just put his mother on a plane to Mumbai said, "I'm a little concerned, but I told her to use her wits."  Did they make a point to only interview the most flippant Indians they could find, or is flippancy just a built-in feature of English as spoken in India?  

To learn more about my trip upstate today, please refer to this article on the Hudson Line.

Stranger Things Have Happened

Recently, I thought that I had had a revelation about Bedouin Tent, which is a fantastic restaurant a block away from our apartment that is my "go to" takeout spot.  I felt confident that it was that I preferred the merguez platter to the chicken platter.  So, imagine my resulting dismay and bemusement(!) as, when I shoveled the merguez platter down my gullet about three weeks ago, I didn't feel a sense of joy.

In fact, I figured out tonight that it wasn't the merguez platter that I liked.  It was the merguez sandwich!!!

There is something so wonderful about eating a pre-assembled sandwich, wrapped up with love and dripping with merguez juices, that can never be duplicated at home, even with the platter components and pita at hand.  Thus, I felt wonderful, not only for having eaten a delicious sandwich but, for being right about the world being a little more perfectable than I had previously thought.  Truly, truly, a sandwich is more than the sum of its parts.  And, sometimes to get something done right, you have to stand back and let the experts do their work.  Facile expression of two important life philosophies.

Today, I bought my one-way ticket to sunny/rainy Singapore, Singapore!  Tomorrow, I'll take part in an organized communications outreach to people I've been working with for the past two years.  Life seems to be wrapping up right on time.  And yet I seem to be making the same mistakes.  Again and again, word for word.  Although, if the only mistake is "being myself", I don't know whether I can reproach myself out of it.

For example, my preciousness and sentimentality.  Something I simultaneously value and despise.  And something that I can't shake.  I think it always stems from guilt - or rather, a wish to feel guiltier than I do.

About polar bears treading water in the middle of the ocean.  Or swearing.  When I walked away from someone on Saturday night, I don't know why I felt such immense regret.  My selfishness? My cowardice?  Or a simple inability to make nice?

Why, after such a long time at striving towards flatness, do I feel like I'm crumbling into a complexity I never sought?
Surprisingly for a book I didn't much like, certain passages of Immortality have stuck with me for a long time:
"...even her handouts to beggars were based on negation: she gave them money not because beggars, too belonged to mankind but because they did not belong to it, because they were excluded from it and probably, like her, felt no solidarity with mankind.
No solidarity with mankind: that was her attitude.  Only one thing could wrench her out of it: concrete love toward a concrete person.  If she truly loved someone, she could not be indifferent to the fate of other people, because her beloved would be dependent on that fate, he would be part of it, and she could no longer feel that mankind's torments, its wars and holidays, were none of her concern."
Milan Kundera