Not Another New Year’s Reflection (.. okay, just kidding, yes it is)

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FROM THE DESK OF: Nina

Dear 2016,

I’m sure you’ve heard this enough already, but you have been one hell of a year. I’m not going to list the reasons why you’ve made me want to pull my hair out more than once these past 360-something days – I’m sure we’ll see plenty of those as we get closer to December 31st – but let’s just say my “good riddance” to you come the new year will be one expressed with lots of gusto.

Now, that said… I do have to thank you for pushing me forward to the next phase of this strange journey I call adulthood. Not one to sugarcoat anything, you pushed me through the Quarter-Life Crisis without resolve and shoved me right into the terrifying preliminary stages of Saturn’s Return; I can’t remember another time when I’ve had to face my fears and confront what makes me so uncomfortable, and on such a regular, consistent basis.

You helped rekindle my love of writing again by encouraging me to start tinydeskwriters with Aiza and Deo, something I probably wouldn’t have done by myself. (And I am so glad I did!)

You gave me an excuse to take the ultimate anthropological excursion to the Motherland, having my Lola volun-tell me to be in the wedding of a cousin whom I’d never previously met (balut snacks, matchmaking lolas, maximum socializing, and python excursions included). I went in not knowing what to expect but returned with a plethora of colorful stories and new friendships.

You taught me some brutally honest lessons on humanity and broke down that illusion of invincibility that so often accumulates when not reminded otherwise. Your not-so-subtle style of dropping hints reminds me that my elders are, in fact, getting older, and that health isn’t something that stays constant throughout time.

You gave me the confidence to stand my ground in the fashion industry and finally say goodbye to it, leaving it to explore the world of food – something I’d been interested in for awhile. Then you decided to play a sick game of hide-and-seek with said confidence when I jumped into that new world, which has thrown me into a bit of a tizzy and existential crisis as of late. I am still presently looking for where you hid the confidence – you sure did pick a tricky hiding place for it – and am hoping I recover it sooner rather than later.

With just a few days left of being together and getting through this thing we call life (RIP Prince), I’ll be reflecting on what you threw my way this past year, looking back with respect (and a little bit of frustration) for what you taught me. You’ve been a year of confrontation, 2016, and I have a feeling those teachings you started with me won’t really be over when I meet 2017. Whereas you were the year to help me open up to the idea of vulnerability and understanding it, I think you’ve left the task of helping me act upon that openness to 2017. I think you’ve passed the torch to 2017 to help me reach the next step in my journey of personal development. At least, I hope you have.

So, on that note, thank you, 2016, for giving me the ass-kicking I probably needed at this point in my life. But I hope you will understand wholeheartedly when 2017 rolls around and I say to you…

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Respectfully Yours,

Nina

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A Most Contemplative Visit to D.C.

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A stroll through the capital.

FROM THE DESK OF: Nina

Traveling does funny things to one’s state of mind. There’s something mystifying and oddly profound about stepping out of the daily grind and into a new place. More often than not, I feel as though each new place I visit adds a rich layer of perspective to my overall view of the world, and of life.

I had the good fortune of infusing a little bit of that disruption into my daily grind on a recent trip back east this weekend. After visiting Virginia for my cousin’s wedding, I took a mini detour to stop in Washington, D.C., before hopping on my flight back to California. And after just a few hours in the city, I quickly realized that what I’d be taking away from my brief time there would be much more than just a few glimpses of national monuments.

Continue reading “A Most Contemplative Visit to D.C.”

Last Days of Summer

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Labor Day Weekend spent organizing instead of poolside.

FROM THE DESK OF: Aiza

This last weekend of summer conjured childhood memories growing up in the Chicago suburbs. Before moving to California, my summer vacations involved endless days catching fireflies inside empty glass jars, grassy backyards, Jell-O Pudding Pops, Kool-Aid and Sixteen Candles on constant replay. Back then, riding my bike around the block felt like a big deal and an adventure. Once we moved away from Chicago, summer never quite felt the same. But what always seemed to stay the same was the September mix of excitement and anxiety that came with a new school year.

Continue reading “Last Days of Summer”

Lessons from my Future Self… for the Younger Me

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Bunche Hall at UCLA: where all turning points of my college career occurred.

FROM THE DESK OF: Nina

I received an email from my alma mater’s International Institute alumni network this morning. Included in this email was an invitation to reach out to them if my organization had an internship/job opening that I would like for them to promote to current students or fellow alumni. After checking out the website, I decided to create an alumnus profile.

The first page requested basic info. First name, last name, year of graduation, and so on. The next page was slightly more involved, asking for extracurriculars, activities, etc. But the third page.. the third page asked about my current role, my motivations for choosing my current path, my future goals, and my advice to current and future students at the International Institute. This is where things got interesting.

Continue reading “Lessons from my Future Self… for the Younger Me”

How to Not Give to Charity or The Homeless

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Please sir, I want some more. 

FROM THE DESK OF:  Deo

On Charities:

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably felt some kind of guilt for not shaking that hand extended to you by that cheerful Greenpeace advocate standing outside of Whole Foods. Well let me tell you something, don’t feel guilty, my friend! You’ve done nothing wrong. Continue reading “How to Not Give to Charity or The Homeless”

What It’s Like Inside a Float Tank

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Experience nothingness, unless you get the salt water in your eye–in which case, experience pain!

FROM THE DESK OF: Deo

Ever since I read this article on float tanks last year, I’ve been wondering what it would be like to be inside of one. If you don’t know, a float tank is a pod (or a room) where your body floats on 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt and all of your senses, including gravity and your physical body, are deprived, allowing you to experience nothingness. Last month I found out there was a float place in Brooklyn and decided to finally experience it for myself. Continue reading “What It’s Like Inside a Float Tank”

Bǎozhòng, Milly

 

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Beijing

FROM THE DESK OF: Deo

New York has been like a tundra for the last couple of weeks. Just ice sheets and mounds of frozen snow on the sidewalk. The worst part is the wind piercing through my clothes no matter how many layers I wear. The thing about me is, when it’s cold like this, I get really nostalgic.

It was Chinese New Year last week—and during this period, I’m always reminded about that time I briefly lived in Beijing. This year, for some reason, I wondered about my old coworker Milly. Sometimes you meet people, and because of circumstance, you end up spending a lot of time with them. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, there will be a moment when you suddenly realize that you’re around a really good person. But, just as suddenly, and also because of circumstance, you lose all contact with this person like they never existed. I wanted to know whatever happened to Milly. Continue reading “Bǎozhòng, Milly”