Thursday, January 31, 2013


I love tea. I do not drink soda or juice. Just coffee, water or tea. After my trip to Paris, I came home with over 10 different exotic teas, including one rooibos and orange that knocks me into a deep slumber. If you don't have access to French teas and you get giddy at the idea of cracking open fortune cookies you will love Yogi Teas. They have some lovely flavors including one for detoxing after a weekend in space (this weekend will be one of them, I can feel it). Bonus: Each tea bag comes with some sage advice to meditate over as you sip your tea, wrapped in your softest knit sweater or the button up shirt that you stole from him.

pretty over winter at the moment

On Love

With Valentine's Day just around the corner (OK, two weeks away, but still), this is highly appropriate for all the days in February leading up to that day...all 13 days.

"...two people under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, who are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.”
George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On traveling alone...

I used to wait for him to plan things. Wait for him to make the call on when, where, and if he would even like to go. Wait for him to make some time for me, find some days out of his busy schedule to make some time for us to travel together. Business school is time consuming, and even the most unaffected individuals will get pulled into the business school social race of always having to be involved in every event, to be visible, and to be seen as financially able because they can attend every trip organized during breaks and holiday (never mind the fact that they are low on savings, have no income, and live on loans... Business school requires you to keep up with appearances. But I digress). Beyond that, business school consumed a lot of his time. I wasn't going to be priority and that's OK, but I shouldn't have waited...

I used to think that the world was meant to be traveled with the one you love.

In an ideal world that would be wonderful. We would all get our wishes granted and would always be with our lover as we explore foreign lands.

But here's the things that you don't get if you travel with a lover always attached at the hips; You won't learn much about yourself or the place that you are in.

Traveling alone immerses you completely into the experience and environment in which you are in. It forces you to step outside of your comfort zone to explore places for yourself, not because someone else wanted to. The familiarity that comes with having someone else there with you almost hinders you from seeking out things you wouldn't normally seek out.

While I was in Paris, I met up with my girlfriend J who was traveling with her boyfriend as he traveled for work. It was J's third time in Paris, but she hadn't explored it much. Her experience of Paris were limited to places that he took her to to eat or sites and shops that she would go to with his friends or him. Beyond that, she has never set foot on a Metro or bus or out to do things on her own. Paris' public transportation is extremely safe and convenient. It was such a shame to me that she hadn't taken advantage of this. Her reason was that she was afraid to go anywhere without him since she did not speak the language, but I think it would be a totally different story had she gone to Paris on her own. The inhibiting comfort that comes with traveling with another person is subtle and sometimes unnoticeable. She noted me for my 'courage' for exploring Paris on my own. To me it wasn't as much courage as it was curiosity and the desire to make the most of my trip, to not hold myself back and to confront my fear of being in a foreign land where I do not speak the language. So as J waited around for her boyfriend to be free to explore Paris with him, she put herself second.

Needless to say, traveling alone is an introspective journey. You learn so much more about yourself than you ever could if you were to go with a companion. Do you have the courage to ask strangers for directions? How strong is your desire to stay in the freezing cold for half an hour just to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower as she begins to sparkle on the hour for only 15 minutes? How do you ask for help when you need it?

I notice more things when I travel alone. I spend more time doing the things I want and less doing the things I don't. I change my plans on a whim and I make more new friends than I normally would. I learn to appreciate my own ability to be independent. I learned to put my needs first by simply attending to them own my own. I came back with a lot more confidence, knowing how capable I could be on my own.

So to the commenter who wrote that she was inspired by my trip to travel to Paris for a weekend, I hope you get to travel alone. I know you will have a glorious time. You have no one else to please but yourself. If you accept that fact you will find it very liberating.

I wrote this a long time ago for a introductory speech about myself, but it is very fitting with the theme of this entry:

 Bucket LIst
Marriam Webster defines wanderlust as a strong longing for or impulse toward wandering.

I took a sabbatical of sorts last summer. I went to Paris for a week to visit Pere LaChaise, a famous cemetery in the city where some of the most prominent people in the world have been laid to rest, people like Marcel Proust and Jim Morrison. It was a bucket list item to visit the tomb of Oscar Wilde, one of my favorite writers.

                It was raining very lightly that day, a sort of soft drizzle my Chinese friends would call mao mao yu, which literally translates to mean fuzzy rain. I took my time and wandered through all the fascinating tombs. The place was very antique; tomb doors rusting gracefully with age, graves coated with green moss. It was like being in a library full of books that you couldn't read because the books were now resting underground.

I didn't stay on the cobbled path, but worked my way between the tombstones where there was less foot traffic and more peace and quiet. There was a strange calmness in the air, a stillness of souls resting, a sense of yearning and nostalgia. Time stops here to rest. 

When I finally reached his tomb, there was no one in sight. But the tomb itself was exactly as it looked in pictures, except it was almost glowing red from the many hundreds of kisses that covered its surface. The tradition is to put on red lipstick and lay a kiss upon the tomb. It is to pay homage to the work of such a great writer, who evokes so many emotions, the main one being passion.

I timidly put on a red shade of Chanel and waited until I found another visitor, standing close by looking just as shy. I asked her if she could take a picture, but it was obvious she did not speak English. So I gestured to my camera and the tomb and she quickly understood. As I laid a kiss on the stone surface, my new friend snapped my picture, forever immortalizing that moment of bucket list completion.

Afterwards, this new friend used the same gestures that I had and so our roles were reversed.

At least two strangers had accomplished a lifelong goal that day.

Paris: Everyday things

On the metro on the way to see the Eiffel Tower, to my left was a mother in Dr. Martin boots, cradling a new born on her lap and reading a children's book to her daughter with all the enthusiasm of a real story teller. To my right was an old couple (about 70 years old), holding hands. The wife was resting her head on his shoulders and smiling. The husband is telling her something he found amusing as she nods in agreement.

While strolling down in the Marais on Saturday, I spot two grown men, impeccably dressed, having a snowball fight. The Parisians aren't used to getting this much snow and they are making the most of it, even grown men.

Inside a cafe shop, Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn who plays a girl who goes to Paris to study, is projected on one of its walls. Customers below are sipping espressos and having lively conversations or contemplating what looks to be profound.

On my way to meet up with my cousins, traveling through Saint Michele Boulevard (near Notre Dame and the Champs Elysee), we drive pass a snow covered Luxembourg Gardens. Its dark gates with golden tips contrasting against the snow covered tree-lined walkways inside. I think to myself as we pass the large ferris wheel and the beautiful bridges on the Champs Elysee, how can you not love this city if these are your everyday sights? I imagine myself as a resident in Paris and hope that I will never be desensitized to all these beautiful things.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Notes on Paris

Day 2 and through the eyes of an awkward American.

•Canada goose is very popular. Have only seen one Moncler for every 10 Canada Goose coat.

•Good news! Everyone speaks a little bit of English.

•Liner and red lips are so simple and classy. Saw a mom at Bon Marche (big fancy department store) with it and that was all she needed.

•Everyone wears headphones while using public transportation. I brought mine but didn't use them. I don't want to tune Paris out. I want to enjoy all of its sights and sounds.

•Thick knitted scarves are wrapped around the whole head and, shockingly, do not look bad.

•Parisienne women know how to wear fur without looking old.

•Back in the states, my winter attire would put most Americans to shame. No offense, but the average American can not dress. Here, I don't even stand out. Everyone looks extremely chic and warm!

Photos: By the Opera and a miniature Russian doll that I won in our almond cake apr├Ęs dinner tonight.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Paris so far

Extremely jet-lagged and have been laying in bed for 3 hours. It's almost 6am here and midnight in the US. I was planning on going to Mariage Freres for brunch, which is one the best tea houses in Paris, but my weird late night cravings have convinced me that I would rather have ramen so Kotteri at 11am it is!

Pictures: plane food (my favorite part!), bought limited edition Chanel palettes at duty free, Paris before snow, Paris after snow, dinner at Frenchie made famous by Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation. Worth every Euro.


Monday, January 14, 2013

on writing and grammar

Do writers go to school to learn to write? How did they become writers?

Do they let the words pour out from their soul, or do they follow prescriptive rules, filtering thoughts and emotions through the sifter until it resembled something structured and safe, something acceptable to the authorities, whomever they were?

If you ever want to feel stifled or limited, take an arduous crash course on the principles of English grammar and you will be so confused and frustrated that in the end you will be too lost to know how to even start a sentence, let alone find a period or comma.


Packing and my first time in a nudity required spa

The most stressful thing about traveling is the packing process; you can forget to pack so many vital things. Luckily Paris is not a third world country and I will be able to purchase most of things that I may forget. I went shopping for a new four-wheel luggage today and I must have looked so silly, pushing and pulling all these luggage, lifting a different one on each arm to test their weight. I bought a cool luggage scale and weighed my luggage before packing to decide which one to take with me. Turns out the lightest mid-size one was around nine pounds when empty.

I'm about 90% done packing and I've only filled up the luggage about 60% of the way. This has never happened before. Maybe I'll leave some room for gifts.

Yesterday my girlfriend and I went to Spaworld for the first time. We had a Groupon for reduced entry. Here we were, two healthy girls fresh from recent holiday gluttony, attempting something completely outside of our comfort zone: the bade pool at Spaworld requires full nudity. For hygiene reasons they require a "proper bath" before entering, whatever that means. We were apprehensive about having to be nude and I couldn't really pinpoint why since everyone else would be nude too. Maybe we were quietly afraid we would be judged for our bodies the biggest thing that most of us do not have control over. Besides our diet, our body shape, size and color is mostly dependent on genetics. Would we stand out? Would they stare at us like we had a third nipple? I gripped my towel, that was the size of a face towel and way too small to cover up anything, tightly as we proceeded forward.

Once we entered the misty room, I was in total awe. Never before have I seen so many different body types ranging from young to old (over 60) and I couldn't stop staring. Hopefully this was not too obvious. Everyone was so vastly different and naked. Starkly naked. We were all vulnerable and exposed, all on the same playing field. Seeing all this variety in front of me, each beautiful in their own way, I began to wonder what was normal; what was the normal accepted body shape that society had been selling us all these years? Not many of those types were represented here; the tall, skinny and fit types that weren't too bottom heavy or top heavy. I only saw about one person who resembled that ideal, while the rest had curves where some were stick thin and vice versa. They were all gorgeous to be honest.

Towards the end, I lost my towel somewhere between the steam room and the dry sauna. I had lost the self-consciousness that I had carried with me into the spa when I lost my towel.

It was an interesting experience that, through exposure, taught me how to appreciate my own body along with the bodies of others. As my female friends hit the gyms this New Years, I find myself opting out. I'm all about staying fit, which I am, but I am pretty satisfied with my body just the way it is.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Chapter

I know I start my sentences with coordinating conjunctions. I don't do it on academic papers. Just on this blog because I write like how I think--in continuous streams and abrupt thoughts that start on the middle, from out of nowhere.

So much has happened to me personally this week. Positive good things are finally happening and I'm riding the waves, busy as ever. This weekend calls for lunches with girlfriends and a trip to a Korean spa house before I am off to Paris next week. A nice little break before the storm.

Also, if anyone is reading this: HAPPY 2013! May it be a good year for you. "You were not made to fail, but made to learn." May you try new things and learn from them. For the first time ever, rather than staying in, I went with a large group of friends to Atlantic City to see Kaskade at Revel on the 30th and Tiesto on the 31st. It was the best New Years celebration that I have ever experienced.

And so far, this year has been off to such a good start. 13 is my lucky number. Let it be yours.

I leave you with a quote from my favorite American Princess:

"I try not to get poignant about much. Life is long and if you get sentimental about everything you wear out fast." -Princess Carole Radziwill

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Paris is always a good idea

Will be in Paris from January 17th-22nd. Staying in the 5th arrondissement. If you are vacationing there during that time send me a line.

The plan is to quietly explore the city, revisit Pere Lechaise and other landmarks, drink hard cider in the park, eat at Frenchie, and go dancing. And take a million pictures to last a lifetime.


Picture is of my last visit to Paris in March of 2011.