爷爷

Today would have been my grandpa’s 86th birthday.

He passed peacefully 14 days ago. Because of the current circumstances with the coronavirus, there will be no funeral.

I had started to feel a bit numb after a few weeks of self-quarantine, but his passing brought on a surge of emotions, primarily grief and guilt.

May you be resting in peace, with Grandma.
祝爷爷一路走好, 天堂不再有痛苦.

WithGrandpa

February Favorites

February 2015 Favorites

Our shortest month of the year seemed to pass even faster than usual, didn’t it? It was also a REALLY cold month for us: record lows across the board and the coldest February we’ve had in decades, with some broken outstanding records lasting over a century before being broken this year. Here are a few things I enjoyed during this cold, short time.

TELEVISION

You know I love TV. I was raised on television and it was getting so bad that I gave up TV for Lent last year. Because of that, I basically stopped watching most shows I had been watching every week and haven’t caught up since. (I still need to watch the last season of Legend of Korra!) Because I have this new void in my TV schedule, I decided to fill it with new shows rather than with something productive. The shows I’ve been liking with the new TV season are:

  • Agent Carter

    Tuesdays at 9 PM EST on ABC

    My FAVORITE new show this year, I cannot recommend it more if you like humor, action, good relationship-building between characters, Marvel, plain folk heroes (vs. superheroes), and good TV in general. The writing is great, the acting is good, and I want them to renew this show desperately. Season 1 was amazing.

  • Fresh Off the Boat

    Tuesdays at 8 PM EST on ABC

    Basically, every Asian person and any person who knows an Asian person has been watching this show, sometimes out of guilty obligation. Don’t worry, I understand. But you know why it’s good, besides the really funny writing? Two words for you: 90s nostalgia. We are a generation with a heavy case of 90s nostalgia, and this show captures so many of the things we loved about our 90s childhoods really well.
    (And also, the show is just legitimately really funny.)

  • The Flash 
    Tuesdays at 8 PM EST on CW

    Do I love Grant Gustin? Yes, yes I do. He’s a cutie. But in an age where too many studios are trying to cash in on “darker, grittier” superheroes (even though not every superhero is meant to be like Batman and in fact are not supposed to be dark or gritty), it’s nice to have a regular guy superhero with a show that just makes me happy. I’m invested in Barry Allen, I want to know what Dr. Harrison Wells’s deal is, and I care about these characters a lot. It’s really fun seeing how they write the villains every week, too.

  • Gotham

    Mondays at 8 PM EST on Fox

    Sometimes, though, a town like Gotham can only be portrayed for what is is: dark and gritty and broken. I have really been enjoying exploring Gotham and its inhabitants, many of whom are characters that we know from the Batman stories. (Also, I adore the young actor who plays child Bruce Wayne. He’s great.) The writing is really good in the pacing, within the episode and from one to the next.

Smithsonian Visits

Even though I have now lived in the DC metro area for nearly a decade now, I haven’t really visited the Smithsonian institutions properly! My first visit to the zoo didn’t even include seeing animals and I only saw the Natural History Museum for the first time on my anniversary. But then I got to see the Natural History Museum again at my first Instameet! And I visited the National Gallery of Art this weekend for a photo adventure with some of my friends from the short film I worked on a short while back.

A Degas sculpture

I’m going to go back one of these days and really take in the art. I am also going to make a stronger, conscious effort to visit al these Smithsonian galleries and museums because they are FREE to visit and just such an amazing resource. I should be taking advantage of the fact that I have free access to the biggest museum system in the world.

Walking concourse between the west and east buildings at the National Gallery of Art

Watching Musical Theater [at Warner Theatre]

I’ve had the chance to watch  not one but TWO musicals at the Warner Theatre. Prior to this month, I had never been to this theater. I saw 50 Shades! The Musical Parody, which was a romp for sure. I also saw Anything Goes!, which is more of a traditional (and I mean traditional in the sense that Cole Porter wrote the songs) musical. I’ll be doing a write-up of that soon, but I really loved it. Being at the Warner Theatre this past month has reignited my love for musical theater and really made me miss doing choreography and singing along with a chorus.

Our view for 50 Shades! the Musical Parody. Check out that gilding!

IGDC

I’ve just discovered the #igdc community on Instagram (InstaGram DC) and discoverd so many great photographers in the DC area, many of whom I was able to meet at my first ever Instameet. It’s been so nice to see these amazing photos on my Instagram feed as I slowly allow Instagram to be a social network that I use to follow more than just my friends. Plus, I’m learning so much about DC and the beauty it has to offer.

Follow @igdc on Instagram to see a daily featured photo and check out the #igdc hashtag as well!

Photobooths

I am such a sucker for photobooths. We have them at a lot of events in the DC area and I have gotten to the point where I have some standards now. Lazy photobooths (which I’ll still do and have fun with) will consist of a hung up cloth of some sort and someone taking photos for you. MAYBE they’ll throw in some props. We have a lot of companies in the area that set up booths, have a lot of props, and the lighting in the booth is actually really nice. I saw maybe the best photobooth I’ve seen yet in DC this week. It was amazing because they had so many awesome props for our DC-themed party! I was overwhelmed by the options, so we had no choice but to duck into the booth multiple times.

Shenanigans in this photobooth were the highlight of that party. Each frame tells a weird story XD

Family Group Chats

My extended family + my mom are all in China, so they use WeChat religiously. (Maybe a little too much.) (Definitely a little too much.) For Chinese New Year (holla at me, fellow sheep!), they started a giant group chat to include me, my mom, my dad, my mom’s 2 sisters, their daughters, my cousin-in-law (?), and my uncle. I had to mute it because they’re so active, but it’s nice to be in touch with my family on the other side of the world.

A struggle for me to keep up with because I still read Chinese slowly

 

The Oscars

It’s my favorite award show for a reason. I love the Oscars and I wrote a lengthy post telling you so, complete with a link to my live tweets. 2014 was a great year for movies so the Oscars are a great time to look back and kind of say “Wow, great job Hollywood”. Do they really need that affirmation? Nah. But they give it to themselves every year and we help.

Trivia Crack

The football does not treat me well. Everyone else: we coo’.

 

This is the only game app I currently have on my phone. I don’t really like having games on my phone because I try to keep the unproductive activity to a minimum. (Since I already waste more time on my phone than I’d like.) HOWEVER I do love trivia. I used to like playing QuizUp, which was great for proving how much Disney trivia I knew. But as my friends shifted from QuizUp to Trivia Crack, and I learned very late why my brother was always asking me random trivia questions, I had to indulge my trivia nerd. I used to be on a bar trivia team but we’ve been forced into retirement because of different circumstances. (Moving, our statewide trivia league ditching the bar we went to anyway, etc.

Even though Trivia Crack madness has been winding down, I did like it a lot this past month. It has been forcing me to scrape around my brain for accurate sports knowledge, but no one is challenging me on Trivia Crack and I’m starting to feel like that friend who is always starting new games. My bad!

Are you ready for March? How was your February?

Busy Chanukah?

I’ve had a very eventful Chanukah, actually! Although I’m not Jewish, I figured this would be a good way to mark the time period and also its a fun holiday where you get to eat fried food (hit me up with some latke and sufganiyot) and play with dreidels and chocolate gelt. (In another life, I was destined to marry a nice Jewish boy.)

Let us begin!

On the first day of Chanukah, I spent the day ambling about the National Aquarium. I’ve been 2 times before, but I have this apparently unique habit of wanting to read every single sign. All of them. After all, someone worked very hard to make the signs and I want to learn and know what I’m looking at when I’m in an aquarium/museum/art gallery! It was nice to spend the day there without having someone rush me through the exhibits.

This is Calypso, their sea turtle. She is missing a fin/foot but is still the star of the aquarium.

I got to see the beautiful little golden lion tamarins, looking at me with their giant eyes and hugging each other.
(They later started humping each other about arm’s-length away from me and I will just assure myself that doesn’t mean anything.)

I had a lovely dinner and a lovely birthday cake. (But srsly, can a girl get some Carvel ice cream cake with those delectable chocolate crunchies?)

Chocolate cake!!! With a snowman and a tree on it. (They weren't edible...)
Chocolate cake!!! With a snowman and a tree on it. (They weren’t edible…)

I took my dad to the airport on Thursday (before seeing the last Hobbit film again) because my grandfather is unwell and he wants to look after him. This would begin a long weekend of me chauffeuring my family around.

On Friday, I was able to crash attend my old company’s holiday party at – wait for it – the Newseum! For those unfamiliar, the Newseum is a really cool museum that looks at our history and relationship with news. News is intensely important in informing us what is going on, whether in our own background or across the world, and it’s really amazing to see how far the news has come as well as how far we have come in parallel with the news.

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Bartending in an elevator
Bartending in an elevator
I was craving doughnuts and LO AND BEHOLD! Doughnuts, macarons, and tiny pies
I was craving doughnuts and LO AND BEHOLD! Doughnuts, macarons, and tiny pies

Also it was fun scaring the bejeezus out of people who thought they would never see me again.

Even though it’s not free admission (SADNESS) (in a town with all the free Smithsonian institutions, it’s difficult to get me to pay for a museum or art gallery or zoo), I would really like to come back to the Newseum for a proper visit. While it’s a really cool venue, I don’t think it’s a great place for a celebratory party, given that a lot of news is, well, bad news. The coat check line hugged the wall with all of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photos and people were stumbling around drunkenly through the 9/11 exhibit. It felt distasteful, in my opinion, but that’s no fault of the museum’s.

A tissue box provided by the museum in the 9/11 exhibit
A tissue box provided by the museum in the 9/11 exhibit
One of the antennae from the Twin Towers

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In any case, I had a lot of fun with my old coworkers and I’m glad I was able to see so many old familiar faces.
(ALSO WE HAVE A SLOW-MO VIDEO)

I came back from DC really late that evening, and was supposed to go to an alumni meeting Saturday morning but I totally slept in and missed it, whoops. Luckily, they very kindly invited me out to lunch and we had dumpling at “Mama’s Dumplings” (aka China Bistro) and tried the famous new bubble tea place SnowBots for some snow cream! I don’t really have many photos from Saturday but it was nice to catch up with this group from college that I really had fallen out of touch with. I also picked up my brother from school after picking up an extra boba for him as a post-finals treat.

On Sunday, my Yelp region had our annual holiday party! I went dressed as Santa (kinda) and a fun time was had by all. There was White Elephant, a gingerbread house contest, a mimosa bar, Italian food catered by Venti Tre, bagels galore, eggnog, a photo gbooth, etc. etc. Again, not many photos since I was working the event, but it was a lot of fun.

Afterwards, I went to a belated birthday dinner with my closest friends and my boyfriend and then we went back to my room to just chill for a bit and so that I could give everyone their Christmas gifts. (I’m so glad I cleaned my room!)

Yesterday, I mostly chilled before picking up my mom from the airport, thus having chauffeured every member of my immediate family and making a second trip to the airport.

And that’s been Hanukkah for me! If only I could get my hands on some potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts…

Stockholm

We only had 5 hours in Sweden’s capital. It was August 3, 2013 (haha ohmy how late these posts are) and it was easily one of THE nicest days we were able to enjoy, weather-wise. Essentially, we only had time to:

  • Take our necessary ho/ho tour (on a hop-on/hop-off bus)
  • Walk around town
  • Browse the Nobel museum
  • Eat Swedish meatballs

However, there were so many things that we didn’t get to do in that teeny amount of time, like:

  • Visit the ABBA museum
  • Check out the famous metro station art
  • Go to the giant flagship IKEA at the border of the city

But enough about what we missed out on. I still had a really good time during my 5 short hours in Stockholm!

Always pick up a free map or 2.

One of the reasons I was supremely sad at how short our stay was in Stockholm was the fact that the weather was absolutely perfect. It may have been the most perfect day of the entire trip, even.

Just look at how gorgeous it was! And there’s a VIKING LINE, come on.

We spent most of our time on the ho/ho bus, learning about Stockholm and taking in the sights, because our time was so limited. (Fun fact: Yo, Stockholm is a very wealthy city. There are some residents who pay 51% income tax. Officially, more of their income goes to the state than into their own pockets. And they still live like ballers.)

By the time we reached Stockholm, I really wanted to live by the water. A lot. Almost desperately.

Oh man, Stockholm was a beautiful city, it truly was. But let’s not forget those highlights! Like Swedish non-IKEA meatballs:

Verdict: Not really great, from this shop. Honestly, I prefer IKEA’s plates more but the IKEA has its own zipcode and was far away so.

I also got to visit the Nobel museum!

We weren’t able to stay long enough for a guided tour, but you know, all in all, I had a nice time in Stockholm. It was a beautiful city that  I cannot afford, but I’d love to spend a little longer there next time. (And see the ABBA museum!)

Day 4 — Your sibling (or closest relative)

Dear Stone,

It is similarly not easy being my little brother. You had to kind of live in my shadow for a while, and I know that. Although I give you grief about doing soccer when I was the person who asked to do it, I’m glad you have soccer. It was the first thing that was all yours where not only were you no longer “Starr’s brother”, but I became “Stone’s sister”. I remember seeing you relish the first time someone called me that.

I’m glad you’re so popular at school. You deserve that. I tried to force nerd-dom onto you, but you deserve friends and popularity. I just hope you continue to make good choices. I can’t tell you how proud I was when you told me (after I pestered you about it for weeks) that you didn’t attend prom your junior year because you didn’t want to drink but you knew that your friends who had invited you to prom would be drinking. (I hope there was no drinking at prom this year.) (Also, no drinking while you’re at Senior Week, k?)

I hope that you push yourself to be the best possible version of yourself. That’s why I pushed you into nerd-dom. It’s hard to jump higher when the bar isn’t constantly being set higher, and I know that you’re sometimes very influenced by your peers. I wanted you to value people who value their educations.

I am so proud of you and I know you’ll keep making me proud. I’ll try really hard not to be doing embarrassing around your friends but sometimes I just can’t help it, you know? 😛

Love,
姐姐, which I haven’t heard you call me in years

Stone and I on graduation day
Stone and I on graduation day

P.S. Maybe think about changing your Twitter handle. It’s embarrassing for me, I don’t understand how it’s not similarly or more embarrassing for you.