2013 in Film

It’s time for my annual round-up of films that were released this year that I saw. (2012 here) It was a lot fewer than I usually see. The fall-winter season saw a marked decrease in theater visits, aside from my holiday between Christmas and the new year, where I saw 3 movies at the theater in one single week.

Without denotation = seen in theaters
* = seen on Netflix/some other service (e.g. Redbox, Amazon)
** = seen on a plane/ship

These are listed in order of the release dates as provided by Wikipedia.
However, it is not the order in which I watched them. I did not enjoy all of these films, but oh well!

  • The Grandmaster
  • Movie 43*
  • 21 and Over*
  • Jack the Giant Slayer**
  • Oz the Great and Powerful**
  • Olympus Has Fallen
  • Iron Man 3
  • Star Trek Into Darkness
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Fast & Furious 6
  • Now You See Me
  • The Internship
  • This is the End*
  • The Heat
  • Coffee Town
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Total = 19.

2013 movies

Which 2013 releases do you think I should still try to see?

If you would like to know whether I’d recommend any of the movies I watched, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I’ll try to keep it brief with a yes or a no. 🙂

2014 Resolutions – Goals & Aspirations

It is that time of year again. You already know what it is, I am the kind of person who requires a list goals to keep myself on track. Let’s get this party started.

Concrete Goals

This is my list of achievable, measurable goals. By the time December 31st rolls around, I will know whether these were completed or not.

  1. Find a new full-time job. I delayed entering the real world because I worked in the research lab that I was at for 4 years as an undergrad for the first half year of me being graduated. That job was making me unhappy, and it was no longer aiding in my new career goals.
  2. Clean my room. Hahahahahaha okay I’ve given myself a year to do this, it should work out, right? This mostly means that I need to
    1. Organize my clothes and books
    2. Throw out a lot of things I have been hoarding
  3. Move out. I think I will need to move out and be on my own again, soon. Getting my room in order will likely help me with that. I don’t need to do this ASAP, but it would go hand-in-hand with getting a new job. Sometime this year, I should move back out.
  4. Post 50 blog posts. I have really enjoyed blogging more regularly again. I’m going to aim for about one a week, so, with any luck, I should have no less than 50 posts by December 31.
  5. Read 30 books. This will be tricky, especially if I don’t have a designated commute time to read books.But I do miss reading and I should try to set aside some time for it. (I anticipate not being able to do one a week.)
  6. Win NaNoWriMo. “Winning” means that I’ll have written 50,000 words between November 1 and 30. This year’s effort didn’t go very well, because I hadn’t given much thought to it until November 3. Next year, I’ll develop my story a bit more and try again.
  7. Full. Split. I completely dropped the bomb on this resolution this past year. That’s frustrating but I learned my mistake: Not only do I need to set a concrete physical goal, I need to have in place a training plan to achieve it.
  8. Get 700+ on the GMAT. I should really think about taking this test if I want to think about applying to business school. I think a score in the 700+ range should leave me in good shape to worry about other admission considerations besides GMAT score.
  9. Wake up by 8 on weekdays, by 10 on weekends. Admittedly, this is primarily so my parents get off my back about me sleeping in and “when I was young, I woke up before dawn because I had a dream and I had to have it!” but I should get my life together and stop wasting away my daylight hours. This may help with my oft-failed resolution of not sleeping too late.
  10. Read The Little Prince in French and Chinese (and Russian?). I would like to really work on my language skills this year. Le Petit Prince is a book that I have loved for a long time, but it’s also short and has relatively simple language. To be able to read it in other languages without having to refer to a dictionary AND while being able to fully understand everything I read would be great. (This book may be changed depending on if I find one better suited to this goal.)
  11. Drink no less than one liter of water a dayAnd perhaps other non-dehydrating beverages, but I primarily drink water and nothing quite quenches my thirst like water. I have been working on this one for a while and I do drink more water than I used to, but there is more room for improvement. I know that humans get a lot of water in food, but this is specific to me ingesting water in water form.
  12. Eat at least one full serving of fruit and one full serving of vegetable a day. Last time I put this resolution down, I knew it was not enough and I was called out on it. But so many days pass that are so carb heavy with nothing more than maybe burger or noodle toppings to pass off as vegetables. I need to more consciously incorporate fruits & veggies into my diet. Some days, I would buy a smoothie or a Naked juice just to make sure that I did this consciously. I think I often eat my vegetables incorporated into other dishes (e.g. celery + carrots in chicken noodle soup), but it would be good to have just a dedicated veggie dish every single day.
  13. Do not buy any more makeup or skincare. Buy skincare only when previous products are empty. My little Black Friday splurge was fun, but I have zero reasons to buy more makeup. I have more mascara than I know what to do with, because I always buy sets, and mascara is always in those sets, and I wear makeup never. I do, however, want to continue investing in my skincare but it is unnecessary to buy new things while I still have products that work well.

I have many other goals that I can probably make more concrete, but this seems like a good place to start.

Abstract Aspirations

This list will be harder to keep track of, as far as whether I’ve achieved them or not, but they are nonetheless important.

  1. Allow myself to be happy. The ThoughtCatalog post “10 Lies Depression Tells You” really forced myself to criticize thoughts I had, such as “I deserve the unhappiness I have and any future unhappiness I inevitably come across”. It is time to stop being such a defeatist. I acknowledged a short while back that happiness is an active process. I acknowledge now that everyone – myself included, as difficult as that is to believe – deserves to be involved in this process.
  2. Pick my battles. I want to detail this a bit more in a post later, but I have improved significantly with regards to inhibiting myself and not getting into arguments that would benefit no one. However, I am not blind to my less-than-savoury interactions with my loved ones, and I acknowledge that I have a ways to improve here.
  3. Make fitness a priority. I liked the person I became when I was training for a 5K and then taking a ballet class. Every year, I berate myself for not being physically active. My ballet class lent support to my hypothesis that I need an external structure, i.e. a class or an event, to keep myself committed to my physical fitness. Preferably, I’d love to find a new ballet class, or perhaps even a barre class, to attend. I know I dislike running (although that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing it), so ideally I can find a really fun dance class or two to keep me moving.
  4. Hone my music skills. My heart aches at how long it has been since I’ve played my piano. And I joke often about how I am addicted to karaoke, but I seriously love it and it makes me legitimately blue that I haven’t been in several months. I would love to join this competitive karaoke league I heard about, but I need to do some more research first.
  5. Refine my web presence. I am kind of playing around with my web presence since graduating. I don’t know how serious I want to be about it, but right now I kind of want to make the plunge and make this a real thing. I also have a collaborative project with a friend, and ideally, I’d love to be able to see some real results from both my personal stuff and that project to the point where it is an investment with foreseeable returns if I, for example, purchase a nicer camera and learn to use better editing software for photos and videos.
  6. Talk slower and less. I tend to talk really fast, especially if I’m excited about something. Often, it’s because I’m worried that the other party will lose interest and stop listening before my amazing story is over, so I just want to get to the end before then. Ridiculous, right? I also talk a lot. I’m a loquacious gal. It’s exhausting for myself and all unfortunate listeners, so this has to be addressed.
  7. Discipline myself. Many, if not all, of my goals will require discipline. I lack discipline and I usually do. I’ve relied on being admittedly bright for a lot of things, but that just isn’t cutting it anymore. I need to stop being afraid of hard work, and of the possibility that working hard may not fix my shortcomings.
  8. Invest time in my relationships. This was a year when I feel like I both neglected myself and my loved ones, which is ridiculous. I spent more time feeling guilty than with the people I care about. Obviously, this has got to change.

I always get nervous about publishing resolutions, not only because it does force me to be accountable (which is the whole point of me publicly announcing them), but also because I worry that I’ve forgotten something important. But the beauty of resolutions is that you can resolve to make a change in your life at any given moment. January 1st is just a neat day to do a big list like this. But if I decide sometime mid-April that I want to be able to run 10 miles (ha!) or in October that I want to get paid to cosplay, then I have every right to do so.

The only thing that changes on January 1st is the numerical assignment of the year. I will struggle to not write 2013 for about a month or two before I finally get the hang of writing out 2014. (I still tell people I’m 21, but that hasn’t been true for a short while now. Change is difficult for me :P)

I hope you all are having fun celebrating ringing in the New Year, whether you’re going out and have an amazing outfit or you’re staying in and watching the ball drop on TV. I’m off to sit with my family to watch a movie and see if i can convince them that watching the ball is a tradition worth keeping.

1. 1. 2014

Things I will miss about Europe

I don’t think I could live in Europe permanently, but it’s definitely a nice place to visit and I had a great time. Here are a few of the little things that I’m going to miss about Europe while I readjust to life at home here in the States:

(Some of these items are pretty specific to the cities that I visited in the Baltic Sea region. Some aren’t specific to Europe necessarily and can apply to many countries abroad.)

  • Smoked salmon all the time

    A delicacy I will miss
  • Being near the sea
  • Friendly Scandinavian people
  • Reading non-English signs
  • Drinking soda made with real sugar
  • Juxtaposition between a 1-year-old building and a 1000-year-old building
  • How a building is “modern” if it is primarily covered in glass
  • Cities claiming to be “the Venice of the North” (I visited 3)
  • Seeing TV adverts for Game of Thrones while I watch Home Improvement
  • Fabergé eggs

  • Castles
  • Throwbacks to medieval and feudal history in general
  • Winter palaces
  • Magnificent cathedrals
  • Bullet holes in scorched stone & brick walls
  • Royal seals and emblems
  • Histories of royal families
  • Dining al fresco
  • Dusting off my 6 years of French “skillz”

I had a lot of fun, and these are just a few of the little things that made my vacation spectacular. I hope I can go back someday.

Things I missed in Europe

I could (and will) write a post about what I loved about Europe that isn’t available in the United States.

But I figured that coming home is a good time to appreciate what make this my home country and some of the little-thing reasons that I enjoy coming home.

  • Not paying to use public restrooms
  • The general disinterest in sparkling water

    This should not be a question. Always still water.
  • The implicit assumption that asking for water means the free water
  • Peaches! Lots of apricot love over there, but where were the peaches?
  • Having the confidence to speak in my natural American accent (my accent is… flexible) (I’ll talk about it later)
  • Seeing another East Asian face and not knowing that he/she was most likely a tourist
  • People not assuming that I am a tourist (… all the time)
  • On a similar note, good Chinese food
  • Cheaper public transportation
  • Cheaper everything
  • Not converting prices into euros or pounds sterling or rubles or krones or kronas

    My mental math isn’t what I would like it to be…
  • Bread always coming with butter or oil
  • Portions so large that I felt almost uncomfortably full. Almost. (I am American, therefore I eat and I eat too much.)
  • Not being limited by the number of adapters/converters we brought to charge electronics

This is my list for noooow. I may come back to add more, but I feel like I need to publish before I put it off for half a year. ^^;

It seems like a lot of little, superficial things, but I think it’s often the little things that make you miss home. I am also a bit pre-occupied as I publish this, so maybe something HUGE will hit me later. 😛

What do you miss about your home country when you travel abroad?

Eurotrip 2013 Checklist

I will be leaving a post-graduation family vacation to Europe shortly and I couldn’t be more excited! We visited Southern Europe exactly 10 years ago, and now we’re going on a little cruise around the Baltic Sea, so it’s a whole new set of cities that I have been really excited to visit. Although we’re no longer visiting Amsterdam as our original itinerary included, the freed up space means I finally have the chance to visit Paris!

I don’t know if I will get to see all these sights while I’m abroad, and I’ll probably want to see more than I’ve listed here, but I hope that I get to check off a good number of these items by the time I return. 🙂

London, England

  • Buckingham Palace
  • London Eye
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tower of London
  • Big Ben
  • Westminster Alley
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • British Museum
  • National Gallery
  • The City of London  (Click for a great video on the difference between London, the city, and the “secret” City of London, courtesy of C.G.P. Grey.)
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Brick Lane
  • King’s Cross Station
  • Hyde Park (thanks Katie!)

Copenhagen, Denmark

  • The Little Mermaid statue
  • Round  Tower
  • Rosenborg Castle
  • Christiansborg Palace
  • Kronborg Castle
  • Frederiksborg Palace (basically, if I don’t see at least one castle or palace whilst in Copenhagen, I will be sorely disappointed)
  • Tycho Brahe Planetarium
  • Viking Ship Museum
  • Tivoli Gardens (time permitting)
  • Gefion Fountain
  • Christianshavn

Warnemünde/Berlin, Germany

Bit confused here because Berlin is quite a bit inland, so… we shall see. Mostly listing Berlin attractions.

  • Westmole Lighthouse
  • Berlin Wall
  • Tiergarten
  • Gendarmenmarkt (Deutsch is a real challenge for me…)
  • Olympic Stadium
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • KaDeWe
  • Neue Synagogue
  • Berlin Cathedral
  • Victory Column
  • Reichstag
  • Checkpoint Charlie

Tallinn, Estonia

  • Old Town
  • Kadriorg Park
  • Town Wall
  • Open Air Museum (Rocca Al Mare)
  • Tower Kiek in de Kök
  • Viru Square
  • Russalka

Saint Petersburg, Russia

  • Russian ballet at the Mikhailovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre OR
  • Russian ballet at the Alexandrinsky Theatre
  • Peter and Paul Cathedral
  • St. Isaac’s Cathedral (I am listing many cathedrals on this list. While I’m not religious, I would be a fool to not look forward to visiting these amazing buildings that are a testament to the long history of these nations and to the long history of Christendom.)
  • Palace Square
  • Yusupov Palace
  • Anichov Bridge
  • Bronze Horseman
  • Peter and Paul Fortress
  • Gatchina Palace and Park
  • Cottage Palace
  • Nevsky Prospekt
  • Hermitage Museum
  • Peterhof Palace (thanks for reminding me of these 2 important ones, Barry!)

Helsinki, Finland

  • Church in the Rock
  • Esplanade Park
  • Upenski Cathedral
  • Seurasaari Island
  • Kamppi Chapel of Silence
  • Design District

Stockholm, Sweden

  • Millesgarden
  • Old Town
  • Canals
  • Drottningholm Palace
  • Skeppsholmen
  • Royal Palace
  • ABBA Museum 😀
  • Ericsson Globe
  • Nobel Museum

Paris, France

  • Eiffel Tower
  • Notre Dame
  • Île de la Cité
  • L’Arc de Triomphe
  • Sacré Cœur
  • Champs-Elysées
  • Place de la Concorde
  • Pont Neuf
  • Tuileries
  • Panthéon
  • Louvre
  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Les Invalides
  • Luxembourg Gardens
  • Trocadéro (thanks Alex!)
  • (Can we get to Versailles?)
  • (Maybe Monet’s garden at Giverny?)

So in short, I want to see beautiful parks and squares, castles and palaces, and cathedrals wherever I can, in addition to the places that make each city unique.
I didn’t list many specific museums that I am interested in visiting because I don’t want to worry too much about admission costs and also I don’t know how much time we’ll have to go visit and browse at our leisure. I’m the kind of girl who likes to read all the signs… but I’m usually alone on that. ^^;

I pride myself on being relatively good at articulating how I feel, but I don’t know if I can accurately communicate how excited I am for this trip. Europe is a continent with such a vast and massive history, and so much of it is accessible to the public by just walking around. There is no denying the magnitude of events that happened where I will soon get to walk, taking in the same sights as names I first learned in textbooks did centuries ago.

It’s going to be amazing, no matter which sights I get to see.

What should I see while I’m abroad? What should I pass on? Please leave any and all suggestions in comments! 🙂