Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saturday Under the Sun

Yesterday was all about some good ol' entertainment. First, my sister and I made a pit stop at the movie theater in the morning to watch Sex and the City 2. Loved the cute little old ladies who came out in groups to see it! Afterward, the weather was so beautiful that Adam came over and we headed out to my neighborhood park to play some games in the great outdoors. Our friends Uno and the travel-sized Trouble I've had since I was little joined us at Monarch Park.
The weather was perfection. Not a cloud in the sky. I think I said "It's not too cold, it's not too hot" about 2349871 times. There was even a lovely, soft breeze--oh, how I love a good breeze!
Later in the afternoon, we all got together in the backyard for some grilling. (Yes, that would be my dad down there wearing a NERD energy drink t-shirt.) On the menu: Korean BBQ, skewered shrimp, grilled eggplant & zucchini, spinach soup, and my mom's famous cucumber-and-tomato salsa with tortilla chips. It was a fine feast.
Dinnertime highlights included a very wholesome family discussion on weed (what does it smell like? what color is it? is marijuana the same thing?...don't ask how any of this came up), a riveting conversation on the Vietnam War, and then all of us looking over at my sister at the end of the meal to find her slumped in her chair, asleep. she took food coma to a whole new level. (I really wish I got a picture of it but she woke up right away when all of us burst into hysterical laughter.)
After dinner, the three youngsters (that would be me, my sister, and Adam) headed to Trader Joe's to pick up some goodies. There's something about going to Trader Joe's that doesn't feel like you're running an errand. Everything there just seems so fresh and special. As if all the items are saying to you, "We're here just for you! Won't you buy us?" "Oh, just for me? Well, of course I'll take you home then!" And even if you're going for someone else and don't want to buy anything, there are always delicious samples in the back, like yesterday's Pomegranate Blueberry Sherbet. Heaven. And then you want to buy it.
The night ended with:
Watch it. Even if it's not the best-executed documentary, you will fall in love with all of the characters. See the trailer here.

I hope everyone's having a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekend Lessons

Adam's secret stash of fortune cookie fortunes

 Things I Learned This Weekend:
-How I Met Your Mother marathons with my TV-holic buddy Robert are pure heaven, even if we can only watch them on my computer monitor in a cramped home office area while sitting in swivel chairs. That show is the best Friends replacement I could ask for. 
-Glee's Madonna album (thanks to Robert again) will no doubt make you feel shiny and new.
-There IS a difference between baking soda and baking powder. This advice should be heeded to avoid ruining a perfectly good batch of vegan pancakes. (But when done right, they are plenty tasty.)
-Time flies when dining with the wonderful Anisa, where a simple Thai dinner turned into an epic 3-hour meal. I love that girl.
-At this same dinner, it was revealed that Adam carries in his wallet a stash of his favorite fortune cookie fortunes. There was a collective "awwww," followed by, "Wow, how often do you eat Chinese food?"
-Watching Diary of a Wimpy Kid with your girlfriends in the theater will give you the simultaneous feelings of being very old and very young (grandmas compared to the kids; children compared to all the parents).
-I'm capable of taking nearly 2 years to read a book. Said book would be Watchmen, which I bought in August 2008 and just finished today. Amazing read and I highly recommend it. And if you don't have a habit of dilly dallying with other books on the side, you can probably finish it in less than 2 years. Probably.

and finally...
What I'm Dying to Learn By 11:30 PM Tonight:
THE ENDING OF LOST. Please, Lost gods, let it be everything I'm hoping for and more. Pleeeeease. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Banksy, U-Hauls & Breakfast

Highlights of the weekend:
-Watched Banksy's film Exit Through the Gift Shop. So awesome. I adored it. It was hilarious, insightful, and just an all-around delightful two hours with Banksy and overnight graffiti artist Thierry Guetta, aka Mister Brainwash. 
Favorite quote from the crazy Guetta: "I'm going to brainwash your FACE."  
And the best part was seeing some footage from Banksy's 2006 show, which Adam and I actually went to back in the day! We had no idea that it was Banksy's first American show until we saw the film. But seriously, we were there. Here's proof:
(I remember it was the HOTTEST day. We stood in line for about 2 1/2 hours)
(a really young Adam next to some grandmas)
(a guy living in an apartment building next to the line of sweaty people lowered cold sodas down for $1. genius.)

-Officially moved Adam and his roommate Steve into their new apartment. Fact #1: moving is torture. Fact #2: U-Hauls are incredibly dangerous to drive. If you see one on the road, steer clear!
-Celebrated Allie's 25th birthday at Breakfast in the Park, an adorable cafe in the middle of Huntington Beach's Central Park. It sits right next to a little pond and there are plenty of benches for some al fresco dining, plus the indoor dining room has a little vintage/antique shop attached to it. (The place is so cute and it's closing in September, so go if you can!) We talked for about 3 hours and came to the conclusion that being domesticated is in, 25 is great, and if you sit outside at BITP there is NO wait...which we learned the hard way after standing inside for 45 minutes waiting for a table.
Speaking of birthdays, I've decided to never complain about my age again. With every birthday, I always say, "Gosh, I'm so old now." And you know what? I've been saying that since I was 17. So, no more of that. I've decided that I'm however-many-years-YOUNG from now on. At least until I'm 90...because by then, that actually is old. And quite an accomplishment, so might as well brag.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New York, I Miss You

(by Danna Ray at Groundwork)
I love this tranquil print. It makes me think of being back in New York, reading in Central Park.
I remember when I first got to the city, I felt so free. The first few weeks I was there, I took in as much as I could before school started. I barely knew anyone in the city, and anyone I did know lived several subway rides away or worked all day. It was OK though because, surprisingly, I never felt lonely. I would go anywhere and everywhere I could during the day and I never looked at what time it was because who cared? I had nobody to answer to and nowhere to be.
I remember going to The Dark Knight by myself for the third time and sitting down in the enormous IMAX theater with a box of Magnolia cupcakes in my lap. I watched the movie while enjoying all that heady frosting and thought, If I died right now, I would definitely die happy.
Oh New York, sometimes I can't believe I was ever even there. I look back on my year in grad school and it flew by. It felt, for a fleeting moment, as though I were in a magical land with magical people and everything was beautiful and it was always beautiful. Even when it was annoying or ugly or complicated, it was beautiful.
I know, I know, everything is about 100x more lovely in retrospect...but thank goodness for that.
I just want to state for the record that I really love my life, wherever I may be. I'm so grateful to be back home with family and friends, out of an office and working in the comfort of my home. I know this time isn't going to last forever. In fact, as I type this, my heart is beating a little faster because I'm being reminded of how little time I have left in this perfect bubble I've created for the past year. How many people get to just take a year off and write? Good grief, I'm lucky. 
Sometimes I panic at the thought of going back to a 9-5 job soon. How petty of me, I know. But I recently realized that I panic not because the idea of a real job scares me; it's the idea that perhaps I didn't use this year off to the best of my abilities.
It's the feeling that something is slipping through your fingers and you want to hold onto it and tell it that you cherish it but you're afraid that once it slips away it never knew you felt that way. 

Do you know what I mean?

I don't want it to feel that way. 
So I'm off to get some things done.
Happy afternoon to all of you out there.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Morning with Dad

Yesterday might have been Mother's Day but today was Dad's Day.
That is my dad and he is fantastic.

-He likes to watch Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune, CNN, old Chinese films that have been dubbed over, and most recently, basketball
-He loved the film No Country For Old Men.
-He really disliked the film I Love You, Man.
-He loves The Count of Monte Cristo. After reading that, John Grisham didn't seem to cut it anymore.
-He would very much like to find another book as good as Monte Cristo but has so far been unable to.
-He is very particular about his food. He still raves about the steak he had at Max SoHa in New York last May.

The best thing about my dad is that he'll drive me, my mom, and my sister for a day of shopping and even as the hours melt away, he NEVER complains about it. Most of the time, he wanders into his own stores or goes out for a nap in the car. But he'll never rush us or seem annoyed to be there. Because he's happy. When his girls are happy, he's happy. That's the best dad you can ask for.
Today I spent the morning with my dad. He's been pretty sick for the past few months, but now he's recovering quite nicely. It was great to see him up and about, running errands, and driving again. We went to Target to get some groceries (love the new market inside!) and to pick up some flowers for the garden. Our front yard has been a bit lacking in the colorful department for the past couple of months, so we purchased a few pretty little things and gave them a new home.
Gardening is hard work. I got a nice little thigh, arm, and butt workout in the process.
Overall, it was one of those really nice mornings. The kind that remind you how simple and uncomplicated life can be when you let it. 
And that is all :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dear Mom

(me and my mom at Columbia University on our first day in New York, July 1, 2008)

Dear Mom,
In honor of this special day, here are my top 5 memories of you:
#5: Reading to me and my little sister every single night when we were younger. You helped us fall in love with Highlights and all things Roald Dahl.
#4: Teaching me how to tell time. I still remember when you showed me on a paper clock in the back of a book and I got it like that thanks to you. 
#3: Taking me to Souplantation, then Costco, and then shopping at Nordstrom Rack. Those were/are the best kinds of Sundays.
#2: The time I woke up at 6AM to finish a 6th grade science project...only to find that you had already finished it for me after I gave up at 10:30 the night before.
#1: The 10 days you spent helping me move to New York 
...which included: rescuing my luggage after it rolled down a massive slope; lugging a million pounds of Ikea stuff from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side; sleeping on the floor for 2 nights while we waited for the mattress delivery that was supposed to arrive "in 15 minutes" from the point of purchase; waiting downtown for the 4th of July fireworks for 5 hours only to be in a no-visibility zone when they started; eating at random, terrible places because we didn't know better; and the 12 straight hours we spent building every single piece of furniture in my room.
Only a mom would put up with all of that. Although we did treat ourselves to some lovely days shopping and sightseeing all over town, including taking a beautiful ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island...all of which I won't soon forget.

You are the best.


P.S. Today was another great day of memories with you. Thank you for taking us to a delicious lunch and treating Olivia and me to some new clothes even though this is your day. And I'm really glad you loved the so-so tote I made you...even though the tears of joy really came when you realized a Susan Boyle CD was inside.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Cable Guy

cooped up for the afternoon

I'm up in LA until tomorrow night to help Adam move into his new apartment (and attend a friend's birthday/going away party, but more on that later). 
Today was all about...THE CABLE GUY. 

The Scenario:
Time Warner informs us that the cable guy will arrive between 1-5pm. Apparently a 1-hour estimate is unreasonable. So Adam and I prepare to camp out in the empty apartment for an entire afternoon.

The Supplies:
-Adam's crazy med school textbook
-My laptop, with access only to Word
-Watchmen comic
-Toilet paper

The Afternoon:
We admired the apartment, stretched out on the soft carpet, and looked out the window at the beautiful tree and bright green leaves just inches from the glass. They block most of the street view and it kind of feels like you're in the middle of the woods. I got a little jealous. I hope wherever I live next has a tree outside the window.
 Then we got down to work, relaxing in the big space and throwing jokes back and forth. Guess what? It's kind of fun being cooped up.
Fast forward 2 hours and nope, not so fun anymore. Both of us are getting crampy, tired, and cranky. Adam sits down next to me against the wall and we both stare at our reflections in the big, mirrored wardrobe. Our minds and bodies are numb. 
"Why do you think you're alive?" he asks me. 
Wow. It's time to get outside. So we decide to take a walk. 
The new apartment building is surrounded by lovely greenery and outside, the sun was shining and a light breeze was blowing and cars zoomed by us on the street. I have to credit Adbusters magazine for their articles about nature's effect on our happiness. It's so true. Every time I'm outside, I feel happier. When I was in New York, I was arguably in the happiest state of mind, and I don't doubt that a lot of it had to do with the walking culture, Central Park as a massive playground, and all the al fresco dining my heart desired (if only for a few months out of the year). 

 So Adam and I enjoyed the stroll down Bundy Street, checking out the Starbucks and the little taco and pizza shop around the corner. Then we crossed over to Santa Monica, and just as we were about to continue our outdoor adventure down a row of interesting shops...the telephone rang. The cable guy had arrived.
After all was said and done with the TV and internet, we locked up shop at 4:45 and went back to Westwood for dinner at Angelino's, my favorite little Italian spot in the neighborhood. It's run by one guy with a white beard who takes your order and cooks and serves all the food himself.
Mr. Archie Zanali, working away at Angelino's Cafe. Fun fact: he was the personal chef to Larry Flynt back in the day.
 the quaint, tiny interior
 Don't worry, the food is delicious; it's the flash that's distressing.

The night ended with a walk through the neighborhood while enjoying some Rite Aid ice-cream. Beautiful night, glowing lights from every angle, and UCLA students filling the streets. I always try to remind myself to embrace the outdoors more and today I appreciated it more than ever. 
All thanks to being cooped up inside for the afternoon...which was all thanks to the cable guy.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Everything Old Is New Again

On friday night, a group of us headed to the Phlox event put on by my two amazingly artistic friends, Jovan & Mimi, to see the highly anticipated unveiling of Miss Jackie Jones' artwork. and she definitely didn't disappoint...she had four large oil-on-canvas pieces on display, each of them inspired by different songs. i loved the one in the top right corner so much that she gave it to me at the end of the night and it's now in my house, waiting to be hung. thank you, jackie!! she never ceases to amaze me. go here to check out more of her artwork and beautiful photography.
now, a little word about jovan & mimi...this was their third Phlox event and it was their best one yet. 150+ people showed up and there were body-painting sessions and a table of homemade desserts by Cherry Blossom Cake House. i hovered around that table for most of the night.

several different djs performed and the evening wrapped up with the talented Jovan of VIVUS easily deejaying the best set of the night (in my totally biased opinion). we all had so much fun that none of us even pooped out until close to 3AM.
then saturday was me and adam's date day, the only day out of the week where our schedules are cleared (almost) entirely just to hang out. we tried vegan restaurant The Loving Hut in huntington beach for the first time (it was so-so for me), then debated between going to South Coast Plaza or Westminster Mall. we chose Westminster Mall because only there can you do THIS while shopping:
adam gets his fortune read
of course, you can't go to that mall without stopping at Cinnabon for a warm, gooey roll, so we did just that while playing a game of "sound effects" that made me laugh so hard i was crying and the girls behind the counter were looking at me funny. then we entertained ourselves at a variety of eclectic stores, from the pet shop and the $5 bookstore, to the tacky furniture outlet and anime/random-things-from-all-over-the-world store (pictured above). seriously, can you do that at swanky south coast? i think not.

afterward, we ended the night picking up some crafts at Michael's for mother's day (i'm obsessed with crafting now!) and then going mini-golfing. after the game, as we were walking to the car, adam realized he forgot to return the mini pencils so he walked back inside. i stood in the parking lot looking up at a big palm tree lit up by the ferris wheel lights from across the way and listening to the sounds of bubbling fountains from the golf course and whizzing go-carts behind me. it felt so nice. 
in an age where everything seems to be about what's new, sparkly, and advanced, it was so relaxing just to have some old-fashioned, outdoorsy fun. in fact, the whole day felt like old-fashioned fun.

then adam drove me home and we were both practically giddy about ending the night at 10:30. call me old and boring but it was one of my favorite saturdays in a long time.