Shane O'Neil Is My Nemesis.

There is a land where sadness and loneliness go forth and multiply. That land is Architecture School. And in this dejected and soulless place, for one little Asian girl, Conan O'Brien brings her great happiness. When the workload is overwhelming or when some spawn-of-Satan-teacher assistant, say...Oh, I dont know, let's call him Shane O'Neil, grades super unfairly & could possibly cost her to not pass, Team Coco is always able to bring a smile to her teary grey face.

So as you can imagine, when said Asian girl found out that she got a ticket to the taping of the Conan O'Brien show, she was BEYOND ecstatic. This Asian girl had once thought to herself that if she were to ever inherit a terminal illness from Life, she would tell Make a Wish Foundation that her dying wish was to be a guest on the Conan O'Brien show. Meeting Conan O'Brien was more than just a bucket list item, it was practically a life goal.

Thus, waiting in line from 1:30pm to 4:30pm felt like mere seconds knowing the magnificence that was about to be displayed. Therefore, when those purple curtains peeled open to reveal the 6'4" red-headed talk show host, this little asian girl whooped and hollered like she had just won the $586 Mega Millions jackpot. (She had not.) "CONAN! CONAN! CONAN!" she shouted as the tall man danced!!!
Yet, as the show taping continued, things felt different in person than it had usually appeared on television. The facial expressions seemed rehearsed, the interactions - staged, the dialogue - scripted. It all felt a bit off. In fact, the only real interactions that seemed to take place was when Conan interviewed Barkhad Abdi, a new actor who clearly had not yet perfected a premeditated act. The interactions were refreshing because they were genuine.

You would think that a born and raised LA girl would have already known that Hollywood was just a facade - just glitz and glimmer with little substance. But somehow she was fooled with Conan. Watching the taping felt slightly empty, left one wanting a little more.

Now, don't get me wrong. Watching the Conan O'Brien show truly was a wonderful experience. However, I realized I had romanticized Conan. He was still, at the end of the day, an actor - trying to make a living by putting on a show. Perhaps, this is obvious to all of you, but for me, it was slightly ground breaking. While I thought the Conan O'Brien youtube videos could bring me happiness, I realized that those segments were made to create cheap laughs. That was its only purpose. This may seem sort of a dismal point, but in some ways, it was actually liberating. True happiness is not found in the Clueless Gamer segments - hilarious as they may be, but elsewhere. As I sit and read my Bible to calm my anxious nerves about the impending doom of my Building Enclosures' grade, for the first time in a long while, I truly feel at peace.



Today, I finally assembled my rocking chair! I can say that I've never felt more like a proud mother. Suddenly, I've become this overprotective mama bear that glares at everyone who doesn't first wash their hands before running their grummy fingers over my baby. Be Gentle!!! Shh!!! Don't wake her up!!!

Like any new mom, I'm going to show you photos of my labor of love even though you didn't ask to see them.
The Maple & I. Isn't she a beauty? Straight Grain & everything.

 No longer afraid of the band saw!

Figuring out Dimensions. 

Pieces Cut & Planed!

Figuring out the right angles and positions.

Clamping Time!

Intricate Clamping Time

Deliberating the connection between the Back and the Seat.

Terrifying Moment: Trying to figure out if the dowels and the holes all line up.

Lars, my favorite, Testing Out the Chair. It is Sturdy!!!

 Me Testing out my Chair!!! Success!!!

Baby Chair with Actual Chair. Still Need to Sand, Finish & put the Webbing on!

My time in Copenhagen is finally coming to a close (with only one week left!) & I'm finding myself sooo sad to leave. Walking home tonight from the bus, I felt content & genuinely happy. Of course other areas of my life could use a bit of help, but tonight was perfect. With a stable chair & this view, how could anyone be sad?


The Perils of Femininity

Today was the first day of me being in the wood shop. This is how I felt: Stupid. Stupidly Feminine.

I would say, I'm generally a pretty girly person. I played with barbies as a little girl (until her head fell off one day & put me off of barbies forever). I like the stereotypical girl things - flowers, candles, & once a month - a ton of chocolates - fries - and then gummy bears (in that order). I suck at kickball and pretty much all ball sports. I throw like a girl because, well, I am a girl. I prefer to watch HGTV over Sports Center. Though, I like to pretend that maybe, sometimes, occasionally, I enjoy watching game highlights - but that's usually because I like to annoyingly point out to those around me who I think is handsome (I'm looking at you, Herbstreit & Cousins). Yes, it's pretty clear. There's no gender identity crisis here. I am a girl - through and through.

But today, I felt differently. All of a sudden, I wished my red shirt didn't have these magenta frills on it. While others were moving large 7' planks of wood around, I suddenly wished I was a little bit more tomboyish - a little more rough around the edges. I wish I could just muscle around these large pieces of wood like it ain't no thang. But instead, I just stood there awkwardly & stared - like a rouge unused tampon on the side of a sidewalk...where everyone who walks by wonders..what on earth is that doing there? It is so uncomfortably out of place!

Nevertheless, the first day of the wood shop was a lot of fun. I managed to perfect riding the bus system all by myself (victory!) & thus I have post-poned my bike riding to another day. I can't wait for the upcoming days where (hopefully, with God's mercy), I will learn to use scary things such as the table saw and the band saw without screaming like a girl. Here's to awkward moments, feeling feminine, feeling masculine, and as always, feeling inadequate. Here's to real life.

Luckily, this truck had a crane & we were relieved of having to carry the wood up the stairs by ourselves. 

 Success!!! With some careful handeling, the maple was dropped off on the third floor of our wood shop.

 my design & drawings with my cut of maple. Isn't she a beauty? Somehow, I need to transform this plank into a rocking chair in 2 weeks. yeesh!


Fat Girl Reconsiders Priorities

Today officially marks the completion of my fourth week of classes in Copenhagen! I have three more weeks here before I head off to Barcelona & then home shortly thereafter. In some ways it feels like I just got to Denmark last week, but in other ways it feels like I've lived in Scandinavia for centuries.

This Copenhagen trip started off with a bang with the airlines losing our luggage in transit the very first day. I subsequently had to live off of the clothes I was wearing on the airplane for the next four days (namely, sweatpants, a red tank top, & ghetto looking Nikes). After some extreme hygienic compromises were made, I was thankfully reunited with my precious luggage. There was no shortage of struggles during the first week, however. Just a day later, I found myself completely stranded in the fire stairs of my school's building. I'll spare you the gruesome details of me running up and down the stairs for 45 minutes in sweaty & tearful panic, but as you may have concluded, I managed to escape through the "Employees Only" exit of a clothing store. I tried to play it cool & even shopped around before gracefully exiting like someone who hadn't been seriously considering jumping off of the roof just a few minutes ago.

Living off of Airport Clothes & Feeling Disgusting

Nevertheless, Copenhagen has treated me kindly. There is close to no language barrier as almost everyone here speaks fluent English. There is however, a FINANCIAL barrier. Even the most basic things will cost you your left kidney...and that's if you have the Colin Firth of kidneys. I ate a mediocre $35 dollar pizza and drank a $9 smoothie before I decided enough is enough! If you know me at all, you would know that food is absolutely the most stable relationship in my life. If you were to ever ask me whether I would rather spend my money on clothes that will last forever or spend it on food that will only make my thighs expand, there would be no hesitation in my answer. BUT, but...here in Copenhagen, my priorities started to change. All of a sudden, I saw every meal as an opportunity to save! save! save! Spend $40 on average meat and potatoes or spend $40 on a beautifully designed dress? DRESS, I SAY, DRESS! As a result, I have been cooking all my meals at home and saving every penny to buy what I like to call "souvenirs."

Things have not been ALL fun&games though. Contrary to popular belief, studying abroad for design students is actually quite rigorous. I'm currently studying Scandinavian design and furniture making at the Danish Institute of Study Abroad (DIS). The professors have been amazing and I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a quality program. I just completed my working drawings for my chair design &we will start construction in the woodshop on Monday. Unfortunately for me, the woodshop is just outside the city - easily accessible by bike. For any normal human being with a childhood, this would not be an issue. But for Miranda Lee who spent her toddler years on a hill in a Los Angeles suburb & thus never quite learned how to ride a bicycle with finesse, this is quite the sensitive topic. I might have to just face my fear and ride my bike...but I'm so afraid I'm going to literally crash & hypothetically burn & not be able to build my chair. oooooh. what to do, what to do???
Stay Tuned, my friends. Hopefully, I will update soon. Hope all of your Summers are going well!


A Tricycle Life.

You guys,
Yesterday, I realized, 
I've spent my whole life...
as a third wheel.

Maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but hear me out:
From birth, I was the mini third wheel to my parents. This wasn't too bad. I would usually just play with marbles on the tile floor or run around in my backyard. But sometimes, hints of thirdwheel-ness would creep up. For example, the time I had to spend what felt like the majority of my childhood in the Celine Dion giftshop at Caesar's Palace because my parents left me to gamble. I came out of the gift shop not the same person. To this day, I can't really listen to Celine Dion belt out those notes without a tinge of bitterness in my heart.

In high school, the third wheel life wasn't too bad either. The Third Wheel Syndrome would come and go at monthly increments. One month, everyone loves you. Your girlfriends think you're the coolest. The guys think you're chill. You're the favorite. Then the next month, the pendulum shifts - and then you're the hated one & people just whisper behind you. High School is practically an institution filled with third wheels all trying to find themselves in a cruel world of hormones and melodrama. So, I didn't feel all that alone.

OH, but in college. In college, my friends, is when you start to realize...that maybe my life is not so much like a normal bicycle - two wheels, working together to achieve something great. But instead, a tricycle - an oddly shaped device that has no real purpose. Why in the world was that third wheel installed? To make the wheel feel lonely? out of place? awkward? Why? Why? Why? 
You see, college, is when people start pairing off and you start having conversations similar to this: 
Oh you found your soulmate? Ok, that's cool, I guess. I'll just go eat this meal by myself. 
Oh, you're going to the movies? Cool. Can I come...oh wait nevermind...I guess I didn't want to see that blockbuster anyway.

Yet sometimes, you find yourself in the situation where your two friends start dating due to the work of that devil named Cupid. This is the worst kind of third wheel. The process of "grabbing lunch" is never the same again. Starting with seating arrangements, it's never random anymore (maybe it never was). It is no longer a "oh, grab a chair, any chair" type of deal. You start getting your own entire side of the table. You start getting that one empty chair next to you. You tell yourself "Oh, well this is actually NICE, because I get to put my PURSE here." But then sometimes, you don't want your purse to go there. You want someone to sit there. Someone - Anyone. Every meal becomes like a Jewish Passover meal & the chair next to you is forever Elijah's chair - never to be filled, always left empty. Then to twist the knife even further, the check comes. And while everyone used to pull out their plastic and toss it in a pile to be split three-ways, Suddenly, there's only two cards. Oh, you're paying for her? Ok, cool. I guess...I guess, I'll just do some math here to figure out what I need to pay... 
And there, after you've signed your receipt alone and driven home alone, you start to feel kind of lonely. It's the loneliness that Beyonce never dares to sing about in her Independent Women songs. But it's real.

And now, in graduate school, where the majority of my friends are engaged, married, or have kids. I don't even know what kind of third wheel I am anymore. It's almost like I've been promoted to the third wheel's third wheel. I'm just so out of place. & this is when joking about third wheeling is no longer quite as funny as it used to be. It becomes harder to laugh carelessly because deep down, I'm kind of afraid that I'm going to die a third wheel. That somehow, even at the gravesite, I'll be buried next to my best friend & her husband with an empty tomb to the right of me - never to be filled. 

And I think it's here, in pits of loneliness that I just have to trust the Lord. I need to trust that He knows what is best for me. He has continually proven this to me - in all things.  I've been given the most satisfying gift in the universe - a relationship with Christ. What else do I need? The Tricycle Life will only be a momentary affliction in comparison to the eternity of life. May I never miss an opportunity to allow the tricycle life to point me back to my Savior and His comforting promises.


Stores of Desperation

Spring Break comes at a steep price. The price of burning the midnight/1am/2am/5am oil to try to turn in all your finals on time. The price of trying to deep clean your room so that when one returns, there's a welcoming scent of someone who is "on top of it," "successful," and "a model citizen." & finally, there's the price of $153.00 for those of us who really really try to be a proficient human being but instead, fail miserably.

Today, Life fined me $153.00 for failures and fatigue. After turning in two finals, moving out of studio, four loads of laundry, "secretly" vacuuming at 1am, "secretly" mopping the apartment at 2am, and cleaning the shower...I thought to my 3:30am delusional self, "let me take me take a 30minute nap before I have to drive to Portland for my 8AM flight." Thus, when I woke up at 8:30am, 2 hours away from the Portland airport, on a very clean bed in a very clean room...the air of failure was thick upon my chest. In hopes of begging for mercy, I drove to Portland while wailing remorsefully to the new Justin Timberlake CD (my only comfort at the time).

After being informed that upgrading to the Business Select for the 2pm flight was the only way I was going to be able to get home...I made the decision to sell my left kidney in return for one cheaply printed, ugly Sans Serif font, boarding pass back to Burbank, California. HOME, here I come.

As I wandered the airport terminal stores to kill time, I began to realize that every store sold the same thing: desperation. 

Desperation Purse: You have REALLY got to be desperate to buy this purse.

Desperation Tea: WHY would you suddenly have the urge to purchase mediocre overpriced tea? Desperation.

Desperation Useless Thing: This is the ultimate form of desperation There is no reason ANYONE in the world should be desperate enough to buy this glass pyramid full of sand. Even if it's on sale.

Yet, feeling quite miserable myself, I kind of enjoyed these Stores of Desperation. I enjoyed it so much so that I bought my very own Desperation Coconut Water. This is an odd purchase because I don't actually like coconut water....but feeling very underdressed for Business Select (I saw a 5 year old wearing a fedora for crying out loud), I decided to buy coconut water to show everyone I did indeed belong  (Let's be real...only rich people legitimately drink coconut water).

Now, I'm sitting in my window seat...next to a third grader girl named Kennedy who likes Johnny Cash & Counting Crows. I'm self conscious that I've lost the chance to befriend her because I've been typing away during the last 20 minutes. Just a few minutes ago, she told the girl sitting to the left of her that in the last flight she sat next to a mean lady who didn't talk to her and a nice lady who talked to her. (Unsure if that was a passive aggressive way of telling me that I'm the NEW "mean lady." I'm a bit offended.)

Well, friends...that is all. I used my free drink coupon for wine and now I feel (and look) like I'm about to die. Nothing like Business Select perks that make you realize that you are indeed a sucker for free things...even free things that you're allergic to.


Elementary School & Boys

They say that everything you need to learn about life, you can learn in elementary school.

Well...I don't know about EVERYTHING (elementary school did not teach me about how frustrating my Structures course would be), but in first grade, I learned that boys were freaking weird. And this is still true. You see, I think I had the most game in elementary school. This look was really killing it for me:

(The teef, the red vest, and the hair scrunchy that is about to fall out... I'm damn irresistible).
I swear, I don't think I will ever be able to beat the number of boys who "liked" me during those 5 years. It wasn't that I had a million prepubescent boys pursuing me, but compared to my current numbers (z.e.r.o)...any number seems infinitely more.

In the age of recess and handball, the only way you ever knew if anyone liked you was from the mouth of somebody else. It was a cruel world of telephone...one kid running from the grass field to the swings, taking a breath before cupping her hands around your ear and whispering "Hannah told Ashley who told Jessica who told me that Matt likes you." E-mail, Twitter, and Facebook, may have made the exchange of information almost instantaneous, but nothing beats the velocity of a 7 year old kid with juicy gossip.

So amongst all this, one particular boy stood out from all the rest. I think it would be impolite to disclose his name, so let's just call him Bevin Kernstein. Bevin Kernstein was the rebel child. He usually wore jeans with a plain white tee and sometimes, he would take off his shirt to reveal his wife beater tank just to show everyone who's boss. I knew Bevin from sitting next to him in class, but every so often, my teacher would rearrange the assigned seating to break up any gangs that had formed. Bevin and I went our separate ways, and got placed on opposite sides of the room. So you would understand my surprise, when one day, I came back from Lunchtime with a folded note on my desk that said "For You." I cautiously opened the note to find a $1 dollar bill and a message.

I like you. Do you like me?
_ Yes
_ No
_ Maybe
(please check one)

I was shocked. I can't remember all the things that went through my head, but I imagine it was something like this:
I dont like Bevin..he scares me with his wife beaters. Wait, but there's a dollar...so perhaps I do like him. Wait wait no. I'm worth more than this dollar. Whyyy is there a dollar IN HERE? Is this note even for me? (Checks note...sees own name). Hmmm, okay, this is for me. DEAR GOD WHAT DO I DO?!

After all my brain neurons had finished firing, I came up with a plan of action. I decided that I was a classy lady and could not be bought with the dollar bill. I would return the dollar because it is impolite to just take money while also avoiding the dreaded question, "do you like me." Paralyzed with fear, I thought I would go with a minamalist approach and simply write "Yours?" in OBVIOUS reference to the dollar bill. It was a genius response because I avoided checking any boxes & signing my life away, but addressed the MORE important issue: to whom this dollar belonged to. I returned the new note to HIS desk before he got back, and carried on with my life.

Little did I know, later on in the day, while we were working on our Sioux Native Americans project, Jill runs over to me, asking if I liked Bevin. WHAT? 

I was in disbelief...I asked Jill to explain further.
"Bevin told me you left a note on his desk saying, "Am I Yours""

Panicked, I tried to clarify to Jill..."No No, I didn't write AM I yours....I just wrote "Yours?"..because, you see, Bevin left a dollar on my desk and I was wondering if it was His."
Jill didn't believe my story and all of a sudden I felt like I was wearing a scarlet letter on my chest.

To this day, I never knew what happened to that note. Why Kevin..I mean Bevin, sabotaged my note. Who that dollar belonged to. And why Jill had to get involved.

This is what I do know: I know NOW to write my intention clearly, (I should have written: "IS THIS DOLLAR YOURS? PLEASE DONT TRY TO BUY ME. THAT IS CALLED HUMAN TRAFFICKING. NO GOOD, KEVIN, NO GOOD"). And I know to never trust a boy. Because...the moment you try to do something nice, like return a precious dollar, some little weiner tries to save his reputation at the cost of yours and make you look like an adulterer.

& my dear friends, this is the life lesson of the day.


An Open Letter

Dear Person who Broke Into my Prius,

The police tell me you're probably "those meth addicts." I'm not sure who you are...because the only interaction I've had with a meth addict is through Season One of Breaking Bad. It's hard to imagine Bryan Cranston rummaging through my stuff.
But then, to imagine that you look like this....kind of scares me too much.

For starters, I have to say...I'm impressed. You managed to break into my locked car without smashing any windows. How did you do this? Are you a wizard? It really is quite impressive. Thank you for not breaking my window...It's been getting quite cold lately. So, I have to ask...why my car? Was it the California license plates? Or was it because you have been watching me? If so, that's totally creepy & didn't your mother teach you that it's impolite to stare?

I see that you've taken my GPS. I would like to believe that if you truly knew me, you would have left it for me because you would know that I need it more than you. But now that it's in your hands, I have to say "Lonches to Go" is a great mexican restaurant... you can find the address under "Recently Visited." As for "Alyssa's House"....well, she moved last year...so, don't waste your time breaking into her house.

Also, you seem to have stolen all $30 worth of quarters and my jar of "Emergency" money. Not cool, man, not cool. Quarters are a hot commodity around this college town..and now I will have to make another dreaded trip to the bank. If only you knew how often I forget my wallet at home & have to rummage through my emergency jar to buy a snack...you probably would have left that for me too. However, perhaps, you're starving too. Please don't spend the money on drugs & please don't spend it on crappy food - Both acts totally go against everything I believe in. Again, you can find a list of approved restaurants under the "Favorites" category of my GPS.

Lastly, of all the things you stole. You stole my precious sunglasses. Maybe you thought you deserved these because I could just go get another pair. But what you don't know is that I bought those sunglasses while I was Italy as a gift to myself for finishing my Final Reviews. I allowed myself one splurge in Europe...and it was these aviators. I visited these sunglasses everyday for a week and finally bought them on the last day. I think I've worn these four times. And now you'll wear them. Please take good care of them.

I see that you decided to leave my Beatles' CD (Rubber Soul & Abbey Road) and a Black Key's album. This makes me question your taste in music...but I'm glad you didn't take these. I also see that you had no interest in my napkins and paper towels. But why did you have to throw them everywhere? I literally just cleaned my car yesterday. Finally, you left Jonathan Edward's biography too. I wish you had taken this so you can listen to what a God-fearing man this theologian was. It might have done your soul some good. But, maybe you thought I needed it more. So, thank you for thinking of me.

Well, Sinner Stealer. I can't say I'm not freaked out by your sudden intrusion. You've made me feel very vulnerable and actually kind of scared. Most of all, I'm saddened by how we've crossed paths. I hope you change your ways. I will pray for you because you probably don't have anybody praying for you. And maybe...maybe...we will officially meet in heaven & we'll laugh about this crazy incident & you'll finally ask why my GPS history had Trader Joes listed so many times & I'll just change the subject because the answer is embarrassing.

Well, until then....



As the ball dropped, as champagne glasses clinked, and as Dick Clark, undoubtedly, counted down in his grave -All welcomed 2013 with open arms.

New Years hadn't always been a big deal for me. In fact, I don't remember caring much about the celebrations and the backwards number chanting...until...I saw a particular episode of The O.C. during a very young and impressionable time in my life. I clearly remember Mischa Barton saying "How you spend New Years, is how you will spend the rest of your year." Ever since that darn Mischa, New Years became of UTMOST importance to me. Annually, December 31st was a day dedicated to superstitiously deep cleaning my room, exfoliating my skin, shaving my legs - all so that I would enter into the New Year, the best possible version of myself: un-hairy, clean, and put-together. I was ready to HAVE IT ALL.

So, when my parents told me I had to spend New Years 2013 in Sacramento, I almost keeled over in sorrow. I frantically tried to find the absolute most exciting activity to do...and came up with: seeing the movie, Argo. Argo was how I was going to spend the rest of my year.

As I scrolled through my instagram/twitter/facebook/google feed to vicariously live through friends' & strangers' New Years's Eve, I couldn't help but feel a little jealousy, a little sadness, and a little envy at how others' welcomed 2013. And beneath every smiling-party-hat-confetti photo, twitter update, or facebook post, was the same declaration: "2013 IS MY YEAR".
I felt robbed. Hold on, why can't 2013 be MY year? Did I miss the sign-up sheet?

Logistically, 2013 can't be ALL of our's year. For some of us, 2013 will just be another 365 days. For others, 2013 will be a year worth forgetting. And then, for a lucky few, 2013 will indeed be their year.

So what kind of year will 2013 be for me?
If I listen to Mischa Barton, 2013 will be a year of overpriced movie tickets, scratchy theatre seats, and buttery styrofoam popcorn.
But, perhaps this year, will actually be the year, I stop letting The O.C. superstitions dictate my days.
I must remember, It is God who is sovereign over 2013. And it is in that truth that I will hope in. I will trust in God's Power,  His timing, and in His Word. May 2013 be a year of spiritual growth. May 2013 be God's year.


I Kissed Health Goodbye

Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness. These are just some of the rights I will not be able to enjoy this upcoming week. For those who are not architecture students, let me tell you, the days prior to Final Review are catastrophic. It's the week before we present our final project to other professors & local professionals. Sometimes they say helpful things & other times they say things that make you want to rip out all your teeth and scream "IM SO MISUNDERSTOOD!!!"

Anyway, the week prior to Final Review is simply put: utter hell. Think...Black Friday Shopping meets Vampires on Bath Salts...& that's half the intensity of what this upcoming seven days will be. It's ugly. It's really ugly. Trace paper will fly, the computer mouse will dart from left to right, eyes will roll... I wont sleep. I'll run to the bathroom & run back to my desk.
There's no time. There's no time.
8 hours feels like 5 minutes. Where did the time go?
There's no time. There's no time.
Thighs will soften like butter on a warm day. Stomachs will bulge like an exploding balloon. Need elastic pants. Need baggy t-shirt. Need more cookies. NO, actually chips, NO. NEED. COFFEE. NO TIME TO TEXT BACK. NO TIME TO CALL. DON'T TALK TO ME. GET OUT OF MY WAY. YOU ARE THE WORST.

It's a nightmare. & before I know it, I'll wake up & It'll be over.
I'll be 10lbs heavier and 20 days closer to my death, & probably have a net lost of 2 friends from just being an irritable human being. 

Thus, Thanksgiving Break is a good time to prepare for this impending catastrophe. I must do all that I can to help myself be less psycho. I cooked. cleaned. I double watered my plants. There will be no time to take care of them, hopefully they wont be too thirsty. be strong, little succulents, be strong. 

Yet, no preparation would be complete without the help of trusty Trader Joes. I bought every snack that fancied the eye. Come, take a lookieloo.

[Top: Hazelnut cookie, Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, Macarons, Cocoa Batons]

Alright Friends. The Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies ($3.99) ARE TO DIE FOR. I am slightly biased because I'm  a hungry hippo for anything hazelnuts, but I've given these to four friends & they are all obsessed. These cookies are soft, buttery, and have just the perfect marriage of hazelnuts & chocolate. They would go perfect with some neutral tea, a warm couch & fuzzy slippers. Be warned though, these are dangerous...so don't go blaming me when you can't fit into your tiny dress. But let's be real here, what are you doing wearing a dress in the dead of winter anyway? Go put on some slacks & enjoy these cookies, you'll be sooooo much happier.
Next: Chocolate Covered Potato Chips ($2.99). Much like communism, this snack looked much better on paper than in reality. The chip was sort of weirdly moist & not crunchy. The chocolate was mediocre.  If snacks were different people in society, these choco-potato chips would be hipsters. On the exterior, they look kind of funky-cool, but then you get to know them, & they're just kind of fake, drab, and damp. NO. THANK.YOU. 
Pumpkin Macarons ($4.99): Last year, I sort of overdosed on TJ Macarons...and by overdose, I mean, I ate an entire box by myself literally within 3 minutes. They weren't even totally defrosted yet. I just flat out ate frozen macarons. Afterwards, I felt ill- physically...and mentally. So, I was a bit weary when I bought these pumpkin ones. They are pretty great though. I would suggest opening the box up with friends so that you don't follow the same fate I did.
Petite Coca Batons ($1.49): Holy Moses are these freaking good. They are the TINEST of things. In terms of size, they're about half the length of your pinky. They're so baby that when you eat them, you don't feel fat at all. You just feel dainty, light, & most of all, happy. HIGHLY recommend these. You can't go wrong. The price, the crispiness of joy, & the power of chocolate - you can't go wrong.
Peaberry Coffee ($6.99) I bought this coffee simply because I fell right into TJ's marketing ploys - it was colorful & it was only here for a limited time. Like most people from Brazil, the Peaberry looks absolutely beautiful. All those colors! I was instantly attracted. But, I'm not so sure how I feel about this coffee. What IS a peaberry anyway? If it's a fruit, then that explains why the coffee was so flamboyantly fruity. I personally like my coffee dark, coffe-esque, & not $7. So I say pass, but do as you wish.
Can't get enough of my Trader Joe reviews? DONT YOU WORRY. I have a TJ shopping problem & here are 4 more snacks.
Dark Chocolate Orange: I lost my receipt for this purchase so I forgot how much these go for...but I LOVE these dark chocolate oranges. It's pure dark chocolate...in the shape of an orange...you literally smash the ball of dk chocolate & it splits into ORANGE SLICES. I CANT NOT THINK OF A MORE GENIUS IDEA. It just brings out the child in all of us. This product is seasonal...SO BUY IT ALL, I KNOW I ALREADY HAVE.

Peppermint Pretzel Slims ($2.99): I dont know if you've tried Peppermint Pretzel Slim's older brother, Dark Chocolate Pretzel Slims, but both are simply delicious. Peppermint-anything is just the perfect holiday treat & you really feel like Santa is about to come down the chimney when you bite into one of these. I wouldn't necessarily die for these, but they are quite good.
Dk. Chocolate Covered JoeJoe's ($6.99): I admit, these are not cheap. But if you are not part of the 99% Occupy Movement  splurge & buy these!!! These cookies are hands down my favorite Trader Joe's holiday item. They're great because they are SO satisfying...you don't feel the need to gorge yourself every time you eat one. You eat one or two & you really feel okay just walking away. They hit the spot but aren't addictive...in a good way.

Multi-Flavored JoeJoe's ($6.99): These were somewhat disappointing. Placing words like "ASTOUNDING" & "DECADENTLY ENROBED" on your product is really setting super high standards. A more accurate adjective in my opinion would be something like "decadently average." The four flavors are: peanut butter, ginger, chocolate-chocolate, peppermint. The peppermint is the same as the holiday peppermint joejoes, so, delicious. The peanut butter joejoe tasted to me like a candy bar...it was good, but just, I dont know...kind of weird. I dont want my cookie tasting like Snickers & Butterfinger had a baby. I just want it to taste mostly cookie with a hint of peanut butter. The chocolate one was boring...it felt like the think tank at Trader Joe's ran out of ideas..and just resorted to age old -chocolate on chocolate. & the ginger one was actually interesting...but I personally hate white chocolate...cause I'm a racist. No no, I'm kidding. I am not a racist. White chocolate is too creamy to me...so wasn't a big fan. That's kind of a personal problem though... Nevertheless, I say pass on these unless you want to spend $7 on satisfying your curious JoeJoe nature.

As you can see. I'm well equipped for stress eating this upcoming week. Pray for me & I'll see you after Final Review.

[Disclaimer: All opinons are totally personal & were not endorsed by Trader Joe's. Since the company does not know I exist as a person & have zero incentive to send me any free food given that I have low readership & NO commenters, happy reading knowing that you are getting 100% honesty.]


No Husbands. No Extra Parking Spots.

Of all the things I should be doing right now as a responsible human being, blogging can be found at the very bottom of the barrel...
which is precisely why I'm blogging. I've been awfully mum lately, almost been in a blog-coma if you will. But, as you might have guessed, school has started again & therefore time has simply vanished like a piece of hazelnut-chocolate cake. Not to fear though. Life has continued..as per usual, my own life has been filled with extraordinarily mundane things. So let me talk about my mediocre life incase your life is too awesome & you would look to see how the other side of the world lives...

In the last 3 months:
I've moved into a new apartment, approximately 5 galaxies away from school. This has resulted in two things: 1) I feel much more grown up, because I get to take the freeway to school. Just like those of you who DRIVE to work! I too can now participate in your conversations about what time you need to wake up to beat the morning traffic. & it ALMOST feels like I live in a big city since I have to take the freeeeewayy. 2) I'm always late to class...& now, significantly so, because driving + parking is much more time consuming than the previous walking/running. 
Want to see my room? Okay, Here:

L: Bedside Light&Chair      R: Dwell Magazine because I'm an Arrrrchitecture Student & Plants

L: Dresser Nook & Pretentious Framed Things     R: Bathroom Corner

L: Closet & Staged Desk Chair    R: Desk  

If you're thinking that even after those photos, you have no idea what my room looks like, you would be 100% correct. You are very smart. Someone should HIRE you. This careful camera staging is because currently my bed alone looks like this:

& Since I didn't feel like making my bed just for the sake of photographing it, I decided just to avoid that side completely. Also, parts of my room have been falling to pieces because...as I have learned, 3 broken Ikea Ribba Frames later, heavy duty tape does not fix all. So if you want to see what my room looks like, you JUST HAVE TO VISIT ME. IS THAT SO HARD? NO. 


Since this is my first time living in an apartment, I have learned many new things...all made possible by  thin walls & loud voices. Things, such as...the neighbors to the left argue a lot. Plus, both the wife & the baby are very whiney. As they don't say...the tree doesn't fall far from the apple. eh? eh? eh?

The neighbors on our right, moved in rather recently...but previous to their apartment occupation...we had hoped for many many wonderful things. I, in my current "there-are-no-godly-men-so-i'm-giving-up-entirely-on-my-love-life" phase, dreamed that NO one would ever move in because then I could enjoy their parking spot freely. On the other hand, my roommate was praying that three godly single men (one for each of us, duh) would move in.
Honestly, I was okay if either happened.
But then, a handful of weeks ago, two Eastern European gay men with Montana plates & a blue eyed, blonde haired babychild moved in... God couldn't have made his decision more clear. I guess, technically, three guys DID move in - but two of them are in a relationship...with each other. & the third "guy" is probably 4 years old...& 4 is really just slightly below the cut-off age for me...so that's not going to work either.

I guess the SparkNotes version of this blog post is simply (as the title suggests): No Husband. No Parking Spot. Which really, if we think about it, has been the title of my life for the last 5 years. So there you go, for the readers who are just joining us now, you are now officially caught up with my life.


Friends & 20 Euro Meals

These past weeks have flown by and now I find myself in my last week of school, but more importantly, my last week in Rome. It is absolutely wild to think that I've already spent six weeks here in the Eternal City. Six weeks that have simultaneously felt like mere days but also like endless years - I suppose this is the nature of these study abroad programs.

Wine Tasting in Tuscany completely paid for by our program!

I wanted to spend my last Saturday in Rome wandering the city by myself. An only child type of day. Needless to say, I got lost too many times & pretty much circled around each major tourist attraction two times. Campo de' Fiori. Piazza Navona. Campo de' Fiori Again. Pantheon. Capitoline Museum. Piazza Navona Again. Capitoline Museum Again. Pantheon Again. Trastevere. Santa Maria in Trastevere. Dinner. Santa Maria in Trastevere Again. Some random street. Some Neighborhood. Really lost. Back to Santa Maria in Trastevere. Other dark street. Extremely Lost. iPhone @ 1% Battery Life dies. Back again to Santa Maria in Trastevere. Recognize a gelato place. Finally home. Struggle to get keys. Almost pee my pants. Where are my keys? Slightly pee my pants. Found the keys. Elevator. Home Sweet Home.

All in all, I had a phenomenal time. I actually really enjoy hanging out by myself. I get to shop where I want to shop. Stop as long as I want to. Bypass things that don't interest me. Try on clothes that I would never want anyone to see me in. & most of all, order as much food as I want with no sense of judgement. That is correct. I ate a 20 euro meal entirely by myself ($21.50 to be exact). I guess depending how cool you are, you'll find me gluttonous (not so cool) or totally impressive (very cool). Yet, during the 3 hours of me wayfinding my own neighborhood (Trastevere), I started thinking....are these solo days really beneficial for me?

And this is what I think: Yes, solo days are good, but a solo life is not so good. I think I need these independent days every once in a while to keep my insanity in check. Days where I don't necessarily need to suck in ALL the time. But a whole lifetime of solo days? Now that's a recipe for disaster. No judgement from friends means 20 Euro meals every meal. It means unabashedly shopping for me when I should be shopping for others. And this is where I found a new appreciation for my friends. While I love just hanging out with my subconscious, sometimes, my friends' judgement is sometimes the only thing keeping me from turning into a complete food blob. Companionship is necessary and healthy. Perhaps the next time a friend gives me an alarming look of disapproval for ordering another dish, I'll swallow my insatiable appetite and remember my own advice.



I am in Rome.
Needless to say, Rome is beautiful. I wake up every day with the same reaction: "I can't believe I'm in Italy." For those of you who don't know, I'm currently studying architecture abroad in Rome. I just finished my first week of classes & have six fabulous weeks more to come.

The city is as stunning and classy as ever. I, however, am not. I've realized that everything I do practically screams "I AM AN AMERICAN, HATE ME PLEASE." It doesn't help that my Italian is trash & every food ordering experience is an embarrassing one. Nevertheless, I'm having a great time. The food has been wonderful with the exception of paying for water. Water costs $$ at restaurants & everytime I have to order it, a part of my Chinese roots withers and dies. I'm just too thirsty & hot to avoid it though. The heat has been a curse & a blessing. I no longer crave colossal amounts of food since the temperature has taken away most of my overindulgent appetite. But on the other hand, I hardly ever urinate since all my inner liquids flows out of my pores. So. Sweaty. All. The. Time. Finally, with heat, brings bugs. Insects with human sucking tendencies have always had an affinity for me & Italy has not been any different. I've managed to accumulate 9 bug bites on my legs with one especially gnarly one. This one bite was so incredibly itchy that there could not have been enough fingers in the world to satiate the prickly sensation. & now, the bug bite is an amoeba of red on my leg. I'm afraid that the perpetrator is a crazy poisonous spider bite... & soon my flesh will start to decay away. Or maybe some pervy bug has laid its spawn in my skin. If either hypotheses come into fruition, it's really going to put a damper on my plan to come back to the States molta favolosa. So.....pray for me? 

Ciao, friends, until next time.


No, I dont want to drink Poo to Celebrate.

In elementary school, my friend was known as the girl who hated chocolate. Some kids thought it was strange, but for the most part everyone just marveled at her unique preference. Yet, somehow, when I tell people I hate drinking [alcohol], no one marvels. In fact, I usually get one of two reactions:
A) The person somewhat backs away & stammers, "wh-whhyyy...." in a frightened way
B) They are simply confused & then proceed to ask me the SAME question - "wait, you. DON'T. drink?" - this time, much more pronounced.

So let me explain:
Alcohol tastes like crap to me. So when you ask me why I'm not going to "have a drink to celebrate my birthday," my brain hears it as: "You don't want to drink Poo to celebrate your birthday?"
For me, alcohol not only tastes disgusting, but it makes me feel sick, makes my hands and neck itch (awkward), and makes my head feel like it is pumping blood while my heart Pogo-sticks around my rib cage. & this isn't after 4 shots of Patron and a Four Loko; this is after 6 sips of the girliest drink you can imagine. Drinking alcohol makes me feel ill, kind of like how I imagine drinking poo would make me feel. So, no thank you. I'll pass on the drinks, but I'd take that hamburger instead.

Yet, I think my actions are often misconceived - so let's straighten some things out.

I'm not abstaining from alcohol because somehow I think I'm holier and better than you. I just don't like alcohol. It really is THAT simple. In fact, I honestly wish I DID enjoy alcohol because then I wouldn't get so many questions, or receive such shocked responses...as if I just told people I hated happy children & baby monkeys who are friends with baby tigers. How was I suppose to know that the same liquid in an sparkling apple cider bottle would be heinous? Apple cider is so delicious...it's all so deceiving. :(

Let me say that again: I'm not judging you when you drink. You don't need to turn to me after ordering a gin + tonic and say "Don't Judge Me"...because, I'M NOT. If your conscience is making you feel guilty then that's an issue you need to deal with on your own. However, I'm not judging you - unless you are just uncontrollable with your liquor, in which case, I'm genuinely just worried for you.

Besides that being filled with drunkenness is unglorifying to the Lord, I know I have a heart of sin and darkness. Why would I want the entire world to know that explicitly? I already have enough trouble discerning what I should and should not say. I 'm not about to make it harder on myself through inebriation. Otherwise, I might accidentally say something like, "I absolutely HATE IT when you don't pick up your disgusting hair out of the shower drain." OUT LOUD to your FACE with wild angry hand gestures rather than passively in a blog post. Heaven forbid.

Honestly, if I'm going out and getting drinks with you, I'm doing it because I genuinely want to spend time with you. I value our friendship and will shell out $12+ dollars so that you don't feel alone/awkward/uncomfortable/WHATEVER emotion, drinking by yourself. If I can avoid it - I will. But I understand that sometimes I just have to bite the bullet. So, when I mutter politely, "Oh yeah, this is good," I actually mean, "this tastes less disgusting than the other alcoholic drinks I've ever had in my life." Be flattered, friends. I care about our friendship. You can be nice & humor me in letting me order an extra appetizer.