Friday, September 30, 2011

Socratic Method

I've become less and less of a skeptic as I've gotten older. Sometimes I think that God really does have a plan for us that appears in this weird Socratic method. Life throws you situations where you are forced to address a long series of questions, until finally, you reach The Answer. And this conclusion ends up being so pure and indisputable because of this deliberate filtering process, and thus is freeing. Today I made such decision -- it was so obvious and I'm never looking back.

If this post doesn't make sense to you, it shouldn't. :) Because life teaches us all different things customized to each of our flaws and needs.

[end philosophical musing]


It's very strange to be back in Shanghai. The only way I can describe it is like if you're running on a treadmill for an hour and then you suddenly stop and take a walk on solid ground. That sensation where your senses are all dislocated. I got so used to New York that Shanghai feels like a weird dreamland... I wonder when I'll snap back into reality and stop mentally processing all this in 3rd person.

I arrived Wednesday evening SHA time with two 50 lb luggages (maxed out on economy class), my 18.4" laptop, and a carry-on bag busting at the seams. Girls have way too much shit!!!!!!!! :) Right now I'm crashing with my boss in her super posh apartment (with several live-in maids), where the single room that I'm staying in will probably far exceed size/comfort of the entire studio that I will end up renting. I need to figure out where I'm going to live, but that will depend on proximity to office/gym/public transportation. Also, if I decide to rent a bigger apartment then I can bring 小虎 over from the US, otherwise my dad wants to keep him. My dad doesn't have the confidence that I'll stay in China, so he doesn't want me to bring the cat over and stress him (小虎) out. I told him that I had all the intention to making it big here, but lately I've been wondering myself whether it needs to be do or die. At the end of the day, I tell myself, all these musings are rather pointless. The main thing is to accomplish the task at hand while maintaining a level of flexibility and ambition.

Perched in the Shanghainese version of a NYC "black car", ideal during rush hours if you don't mind speeding at 40mph without a helmet (or seatbelt).

Work has ramped up quickly. There are so many things that I need take a role in, from relationship management, legal work, financial projections, top-level business strategy... a lot of these are long-term projects that will surely take on different dimensions as time passes, so sometimes I have to remind myself not to waste time on theoretics. The work is not brainbustingly difficult, but it is trying on your patience. Whoever coined "patience is a virtue" is so on the money.

Recently there has also been some personal developments that has lifted up my spirits tremendously, as if I really needed more of that during my NY vacation! It's incredibly exciting and has renewed my faith in relationships. :) I don't know what direction it will ultimately take, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it unfolds. The way I see it -- there's only upside from here!

I guess the whole theme of this post is that I'm taking things one step at a time, but these steps can also be leaps and bounds... it's time to make something of myself. :p

Sunday, September 25, 2011


You always find when you're not looking. How very true! :) I think as you get older, you learn that these seemingly trite sayings really can work some magic.

Riverside Park, Manhattan.
Way better than a romantic stroll on the beach. ;)

I leave for Shanghai on Tuesday (if all goes according to plan) -- this New York holiday has been the best experience ever, not even an exaggeration. I learned so much about myself and what (and who) makes me happy. The bar has been raised! I'll carry this with me no matter where I go and where I end up.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Taking Grams to the Opera

Last Saturday I took my grandma to a performance by the New York Chinese Opera Society. It wasn't my idea, in fact it was my first time at the opera! My grandmother's obviously a fan, but she admits that it's because she took a class on the symbolic intricacies of the performer's movements, pitch and inflection. Luckily the stage had a projector with the Chinese subtitles and English translation, otherwise there would have been no way that I'd be able to understand the plot. I was straining my ears to catch the words. Even native Chinese have a difficult time understanding the performers' words because they deliver the lyrics in such a high sing-song style! 

An example (cover your ears):

Getting ready!!!

There were three separate acts, the first was a playful romance between a maiden and a shepherd, the second was a terrible slaughter by Cao Cao (from Three Kingdoms), and the last was an adaption of the seduction of Bathsheba by King David. I found the last one very interesting everything about it was Chinese except for the fact that the characters were named 巴士巴 and 大卫王 -- the idea of forbidden love (with or without its Biblical origins) is a tempting recurring theme in drama!

I thoroughly enjoyed taking my grandma to the opera... it's not very often that we get to spend time one-on-one, and I'm sure I'll cherish this memory for years to come.


There's probably not many things more awesome than cats ferociously noming on rainbows. But they're out there! :)

Brought to you by 我的兒子,小虎。

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Andrew's Afro

Some sort of nuclear genetic freak accident must have occurred for my brother to have this amazing afro action... he's the only one in the family who has (extremely) poufy curls (very Korean boyband perm) that simply cannot be tamed. He's also a huge lazy butt, so he cuts his hair every few months or so to my dismay. It's gross. I hate when guys grow their hair long. But actually if you look closely his curls are quite pretty, and he'll never need Rogaine. 

So mom and I dragged Andrew to a barbershop in Flushing, where haircuts were only $6. He obliged, and then treated us both out to dimsum in the freshly built (and expectedly tacky) New World Mall. The dimsum was as good as it gets in Flushing, highly recommended if you're ever in the nabe.


Look how handsome he looks now! :D

 Mom cajoles Andrew to take his glasses off for a picture. (fun GIF created here!)
If you notice he only has one lens in his glasses. It's because he just went through LASEK (yes, with an E) with only one eye. I have half a mind to buy him a monocle! 
Hahaha. (o_O)
I learned something very valuable over the last few weeks -- it was the unveiling and confirmation of a personal trait that I didn't know was ingrained in my personality. Most people would assume that I'm a ballsy girl, open to trying new ideas and new things. So I automatically assumed I was ballsy too, but how do you know until you actually have to make a move?

On the surface, especially given my lifestyle over the last 2-3 years, I do get painted as a free spirit quite often by people who don't know me very well... but there is always an underlying risk calculation beneath each decision that I make. The only difference between me and other risk-adverse people is that I have certain goals that require me to venture beyond the box, but each step is carefully thought out nonetheless. If I don't feel certain, then I'm not going to jump the gun. And this extends out to how I conduct myself in society and in relationships. I know I'm generally easy-going, but perhaps it's because I don't impose my belief system on others. If you're my friend, you can do the craziest things and I won't even blink an eye. I'll listen and even empathize. But when it comes to how I conduct myself I'm surprised to find that I'm quite the little traditionalist. I was really confused and dismayed at first, but now I realize that's just who I am and that's totally cool too. I'm happy that now I know. :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Playdate at The Met

Guess what guys? Dandy Sandy's in town!!! What does that mean? Someone to have super geeky fun with! I've known Sandy ever since I was... 14? 15? Goodness, that's 10+ years already... time flies but our nerdiness remains. :)

We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Thursday, a place that I've been to a billion times as a kid. I think that I've actually been to every section of that museum for some sort of school project from grades K-12, from Renaissance to Renoir... been there seen that. But, my cultural acumen has been dull since class trips to the Met were no longer deemed mandatory, so I jumped at Sandy's suggestion that we should take a whirl around the museum. Had a great time -- remember to always wear comfortable shoes!

The security guard actually told me to back the F up from this Van Gogh.
Tee hee. I felt so naughty, I was so close I could have licked it.

Two muses?
Had a terrific time, I feel more civilized already!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mi Segunda Casa

I spend at 1/3 of the week in the city, where I usually crash with my dearest friend Vicki. She's a godsend, and when she says "Mi casa es tu casa" I know she really means it because I have her keys, muhahaha! :) Plus, she lives in the best location in NYC -- right on Houston and Elizabeth where all the action's at. Love this area, love my second home, but I love Vicki the most of all. If it weren't for her I'd be stranded in Queens most of the time and you'd all see much less of me in the city!

At Bread, where the food is hot and the servers even hotter. ;)

I love this girl like a sister, with all my heart and soul. That's all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mid-Autumn Festival

Monday was Mid-Autumn Festival, when families get together to eat mooncakes and watch the moon together. :) I spent it with my dad, grandparents, aunt, and cousin Grace. My grandma made this mish-mosh stew thing made out of tofu, taro, radish, carrots, cabbage, vermicelli, and meatballs. I think the most accurate way to describe it would be a Chinese ratatouille! It was the ultimate comfort food. She also made a delicious pan-seared whole fish as well as steamed breaded pork ribs with yams underneath. 

Grace trying to escape the family photo.
See me tightly grasping her wrist, I am the enforcer (with a smile!).

Everyone completely food coma'd out, hahahahaha. :D
Needless to say we didn't get to watch the moon together, but there were mooncakes (see the tin on the coffee table)!

Oh and I almost forgot -- my grandpa told us a really funny story at the dinner table. It started when he accused me for not taking good care of my brother. To support this accusation he cited a fight that my brother and I had when we were little. He tells his story with increasing excitement until he's waving his hands around and pointing his finger at me, hahahaha... just imagine it with the dialogue below.

GP: You were a big bully, you totally took advantage of your brother all the time.
M: Yea... I remember... [not liking where this is going]
GP: And you beat him up all the time.
M: Yea, I remember that too.
GP: And he was a head shorter than you.
M: Yup... 
GP: There was a time when I heard you guys fighting and found you grabbing his hair. I told you to let go and you said "NO!!!!!"
M: ............... [that was how we usually ended up stalemating when we fought]
GP: So I smacked you really hard on the butt. I smacked you so hard that my hand hurt! My hand was numb! That's how hard I hit you!
M: ............... [buns of steel?]
GP: You didn't even flinch! You didn't even cry! You just teeter tottered a little, and then finally you let go. But you didn't let go because I had hit you. You let go because you wanted to hit grandpa!!!!
M: WHAT??? What are you talking about, why would I want to hit you?
GP: Well you went off muttering to yourself "找棍子,找棍子...." (I'm gonna find a stick, I'm gonna find a stick)
M: Wait, so you're saying......
M: [spits out my food] HHHHHHHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GP: Yea so I was like I don't want to deal with this anymore so I ran into my room and closed the door.
M: You were afraid of me beating you up?
GP: I pressed my ear to the door to see whether you guys were still fighting. But I didn't hear anything. So I opened the door and found you and your brother sitting quietly by the door.
M: How old were we? [And uh, you weren't worried that I'd seek retribution by beating my brother up with that stick instead?! Good job gramps.] 
GP. You guys weren't in school yet. So like five or six.
M: Wow.... I guess some things never change.

HAHA that was a hilarious story, I don't know whether it's all true but I'd like to think it was because it was wildly amusing. :) Totally OG.

Pretty Little Things

NY Fashion Week is here!!! Last Saturday I went to Alexander Wang's Spring/Summer RTW 2012 show, which was very enlightening for a fashion noobie like me. It was fun to go backstage and see how much work goes into a 10 minute runway production (a lot of work.. wow, and bankers complain about a powerpoint presentation). It was also the best people watching experience ever, where the normal-looking sticks out like a sore thumb as abnormal. Basically I got tickets to a circus of beautiful people with Alex as the ringmaster. :)

Aila Wang, the secret star of the show with adorable AW clothes made just for her!

Preparation bustle. Lots of leggy models.
Yes, that's Alicia Keys. :) And also a ton of other famous people that I'm too unsavvy to recognize.

I LOVED the runway set. It was so cool and creative. Basically they had 4 blocks of double-sided mirrors and the model would first walk straight down so that the front audience could see the look from all different angles. If you sat on the 3 other sides you could still get glimpses of all these different looks while the models were walking through the set. It was a great concept that was much better than the traditional up and down runway format. The music that they used was this super energetic techno African mix that got you really pumped up, really appropriate for the city chic sporty warrior look. For me the real winner in this collection were the shoes. GIMME.

AW sprinting in and out for credits.

Carine Roitfeld, former French Vogue EIC.

The afterparty at the pier had a frathouse themed setup that was really divey and incredibly fun. :D Again, beautiful drunk people abound. Really strict entrance policy though, but I was able to walk in with the family.

The guest performer was Odd Future, which I didn't appreciate (hoping for Lady Gaga, ha!). 
Call me prude, but rapping about doing sexually deviant and horrible things to women will never get any pass my musical vocabulary. I don't care how "in" they are right now, I'm putting it out there that I hated this group. Otherwise the party was legen [wait for it] dary!!!!

Beautiful things can be incredibly profound and moving when they're appreciated solely for what they are, but often times they're misused as social tools. That's when beauty turns superficial. Just like how you should love yourself for who you are, what you perceive as beautiful is just as much a personal choice. Never let someone else dictate that, even if some fashion influencer told you so.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Thursday, September 8, 2011



Q: “愛”的相反是什麽?
A: 傻瓜才會認為是“恨”。


Mama's Chinese Spaghetti

Chinese are good at improvising.
With hand-made noodles, DELICIOUS chicken meatballs, and her own tomato sauce recipe (with ketchup, hahaha).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

That's where you wanna go... Down in Poconos!

I just came back from a very leisurely Labor Day weekend with Chris, Alice, and Fred at the Poconos. I was telling everyone that I was going upstate for the long weekend, until someone pointed out to me that the Poconos was actually in Pennsylvania. Well, that's how you know a true New Yorker... when you relegate everything "country" to upstate, haha! That was my first lesson of the trip. Americans are supposed to be bad with geography. :p

The second lesson of the trip -- Chick-fil-A is not pronounced "chick-feel-ah" (whoops), but "chick filet". It's a Southern fast food chain that specializes in delicious juicy fried chicken burgers, worth making a side trip for. Aside from Miami the most south I've ever been in the U.S. would be Raleigh for some CASA event at Duke University back in 2003, where the afterparty was in this dark dank room with one strobe light. I would love to visit the Dirty South sometime though, but I guess Paramus Park's food court Chick-fil-A will have to do for now. 

I got the #2 sandwich and a whipped peach milkshake. Delish? Absolutely. 5000 calories? You betcha.

We passed by so many lush meadows that I told Alice that we should see whether it was really cushy enough to romp around. Soak in those rays, breathe in that clean air... ah, America the Beautiful [cue song]. The grass was actually quite prickly, watch out for thistles!

"Can I blow it into your face?"
This must be what dogs feel like when babies insist on pulling their tails.

Chris was the only one who stayed in the car because he was scared of bugs.
Hahaha, no seriously.

For dinner we went to the local supermarket where for some reason EVERYTHING was on sale. This is the sad economic state of the everyday American. The receipt said that we saved 22% even without using coupons. We bought a set of 5 large steaks for $17 and 10 Greek yogurts for $10 -- I've fulfilled my meat/dairy quota for this month thanks to this weekend. Chris and Alice made yummy steak, creamed spinach, dinner rolls, and corn. Fred and I did nothing. :) 

The last day of the trip we went whitewater rafting on the Lehigh River, which was a total blast! SO MUCH FUN. Surprisingly the water wasn't terribly cold, so we all got by with our rented paddler jackets. Also very surprising was the fact that we didn't have a guide on our raft. Uh-oh. That probably explains why Fred and Alice flew off the raft within the first minute on a baby wave, kicking off our 9-mile adventure rather inauspiciously, hahaha.

I would highly recommend White Water Challengers if you plan to go rafting in New England. I thought that they were really well-organized, and although there was an absurd amount of people on the trip for Labor Day Weekend, it made for more targets for our "splash wars". We didn't really need guides because the river was easy enough for the group to navigate it by ourselves. However, the water was still bumpy enough to give us a couple of surprises here and there. All of us ended up in the river sometime in the trip, whether it's because we fell off or we got pushed off by our "comrades".

A picture of a picture since I'm too cheap to buy the real thing.
I have no recollection of putting up the peace sign, subconscious fob.

Third lesson of the trip -- did you know there is such thing as "extinct marble"? I still call BS on that (how can you even confirm? And they don't procreate, can sit on your kitchen counter forever, so how can they go extinct?) but Alice claims I owe her a bazillion dollars (or Brazilian dollars).