lately (12.11.18)

This post contains affiliate links, because I like money, but I s2g I wrote this post before adding the affiliate links and the monetization does not affect my opinions.

OKAY, PALS!!! Let’s set the scene.

I’m… crouched(?) on the floor of my bedroom (kind of in catloaf form but with sphinx arms; it’s very cute and sexy of me) blasting a playlist of EXO’s slow songs with my Frostbeard Rainy Day Reads candle burning atop my dresser.

The main development since my last life update is that I’ve gone whole-ass into K-Pop fandom, specifically the EXO fandom. I am now an EXO-L/Eri. (You can witness my thirsty descent over on Tumblr, assuming I haven’t been banned for reblogging this screencap of Sehun and Chanyeol from the “We Young” music video, which was flagged, possibly because Sehun is wearing a suit that’s too close to his skintone. 🙄)

I’ve casually enjoyed K-Pop since high school, and I started getting into specific K-Pop groups around 2013 (namely SHINee and EXO, to the extent that I learned the members’ names and picked out specific songs (and faces) I liked), but it wasn’t until recently that I became obsessed.

It started when I was scrolling through this post by Tracy at fanserviced-b and decided to watch the “Love Me Right” music video. Incredibly, I’d already seen and enjoyed the “Call Me Baby” MV, which was released just 2 months prior to “Love Me Right” and which is also a visual stunner and a big ol’ bop, and I’d seen and reblogged “Love Me Right” pics and GIFs (#sad defeated asian boys in athletic wear), but somehow I never actually watched the music video itself.

And then I did.

And it was just… shot after shot after shot of practically everything I find aesthetically pleasing on men. Tailored suits! Above-the-knee shorts! T-shirts tucked into tight jeans! Exposed legs and ankles! Men in pink! Suspenders! Floppy hair! Beautiful faces in ugly glasses! Sports uniforms feat. shoulder pads! Dirt smeared on their faces!

It was overwhelming. It was like the first time I watched the “Growl” MV and lost my goddamn mind over SO many dancing boys looking like hooligans in dress code-violating school uniforms. (Please keep in mind I first watched this five years ago, when I was five years younger. I was and still am younger than EXO’s oldest member.)

The difference was that this time, when I lost my mind over an EXO music video, it was mere days before their comeback single, “Tempo”, was released, which was simply too much good content for my small decrepit body to handle in such swift succession.

“Tempo” involves leather jackets, ripped skinny jeans, military-inspired jackets, decorative chains, and Kai in a DISTRESSED CROPPED SWEATER, SUSPENDERS, AND LEATHER SKINNIES, and yet! It was a mere ten seconds of Baekhyun in an unbearably smoldery smoky eye singing and dancing (from 3:08 – 3:18, see the clipped video below) that BROKE ME!!!

So now I’m here, awaiting packages from AliExpress, for an unlicensed cropped EXO hoodie with cat ears, and Snapfish, for 25 glossy 4×6 photos made from HQ images I found online of Baekhyun, Sehun, Chanyeol, and Kai.

(For the record, I was briefly interested in BTS in 2015 when they were mostly still going by Bangtan Boys, but while I like their music and dancing from an artistic perspective (not to mention this A+ cover of the Biebz’s “Mistletoe” c/o @keisha_pl), I’ve always preferred EXO’s musical aesthetic, which leans more pop/R&B. I also prefer their vocal line (here’s a cover of the Biebz’s “Boyfriend” by D.O., who may just have the smoothest voice in current K-Pop) as well as their faces (I am deeply biased for many reasons, but the biggest one is that Baekhyun has really pretty hands and looks absolutely unreal in makeup), but both groups have their charms. For example, BTS has a stronger rap line (EXO’s is solid and has good technique like pretty much all artists under SM Entertainment, but BTS’s rap line is really good) and is waaay more “knowable” in terms of social media and general media presence, thanks to Big Hit’s marketing. Anyway, they’re both great, but EXO came into my life first.)

But slipping down a fandom hole isn’t the only thing I’ve done lately. Since my last life update, I…

  • had various nose and throat problems for about a month and a half. I legit only started being able to breathe through my nose again around Thanksgiving. The smoke from the Camp Fire certainly didn’t help, but my partner had surprised me with a Coway air purifier a week or two prior, since I’m allergic to the cat with whom we live, and it’s helped a lot. Now I’m just dealing with what seems like neverending post-nasal drip.
  • read some books and fanfiction that I will detail in a follow-up post
  • watched some movies and television that I will detail in a follow-up post
  • cooked some new things. Sometimes I enjoy cooking, but mostly I just cook out of necessity. Weeknights are especially tiring (or at least they were when I was working 9 to 5 with an hour-long commute each way), so I’m always curious what other people cook during the workweek. I’m aware of meal prepping as a concept, but throw in food allergies, specific nutritional diets, and a bit of environmentalism, and the appetizing options narrow significantly. Anyway, here’s some of the stuff I’ve made recently:

crispy oven baked honey garlic tofu (i am a food blog) - roast eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish (smitten kitchen) - crispy fried eggs (smitten kitchen) - spicy vegan jackfruit tacos (minimalist baker)

Left to right, top to bottom:

Crispy oven-baked honey garlic tofu, using this recipe from I am a Food Blog. I tried making this like 5 times in a row and I’ve decided that medium-firm tofu works best, as long as you press out almost all of the moisture. I also foolishly used aluminum foil instead of parchment paper at first, which just made the tofu stick to the pan. IMO, this is a really tasty way to make tofu, but it takes a while to cook, and it gets chewy unless you eat it right away. (Did I overdo it on the green onion? The answer is no.)

Roasted eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish, using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve only eaten this with rice, not the suggested couscous, but the flavors are strong (and delicious!!!), so it’s a good idea to serve this with a plain starch. This is hella good, but it involves a lot of cutting.

Crispy fried eggs, using this recipe/guide from Smitten Kitchen. I don’t know how you can make this without a splatter guard, because it’s VERY dramatic, but these are fantastic over fried rice or with chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

Barbecue jackfruit taco filling, using this recipe from Minimalist Baker. I made this exactly once, and it took SO long to prepare the jackfruit that I will never do it again. Does it looks arrestingly similar to meat and have an appealing texture and tangy flavor? Yes. Is it worth the ridiculous amount of time it takes to deseed and cut/shred the canned jackfruit? No. Plus, jackfruit isn’t a good source of protein, so while I’ll gladly eat jackfruit tacos at a restaurant, I don’t think it’s worth having to prepare both the jackfruit and a protein (e.g. beans) for a nutritious vegetarian meal.

  • cooked some other new things, but without pictures:
    • black beans in our Instant Pot, using this recipe from Well Plated. I almost always forget to buy bell pepper for this, but I think it tastes fine without it. These beanie bois are really good straight out of the pot, but they’re even better refried in butter and smeared in a taco.
    • refried black beans, as mentioned above. As I learned, you don’t really need a recipe for this: Just heat some cooked beans in a pan with a fat (butter or olive oil) and a bit of water (if needed), and smush ’em with a wooden spoon until they look appetizing.
    • curry sweet potato fries, using this recipe from Taste of Home. The recipe is for sweet potato wedges, but I cut tiny ½-inch sticks so they get crispier, and I haven’t bothered with cilantro or chutney, though I’m sure they’d pair well.
    • stuffed roasted bell peppers. We didn’t really use a recipe for this (we just sautéed a mixture of cooked rice, tomato sauce, frozen veggies, black beans, and leftovers from a Mexican restaurant and shoved them into the peppers), but we did follow some of the tips from this recipe, namely pre-boiling the peppers, which really helped with the cook time and final texture of the bell peppers. (I find undercooked bell peppers so disappointing.)
    • kimchi fried rice, using this recipe from Pinch of Yum. We generally half-ass it using whatever frozen veggies we have around (and sometimes we’ll throw in a diced breakfast sausage), but this is a great way to use up a Costco-sized jar of kimchi. Flavor-wise, I usually use sesame oil but not soy sauce (to keep it from tasting as Chinese as my usual fried rice), and I like to use minced or matchsticked fresh ginger instead of powdered ginger.
    • pan-fried tofu, using this recipe from Genius Kitchen. It is so good, probably because it’s swimming in oil.
  • worked through some more of my sheet mask stash

korean skincare/beauty - sheet mask - anothertoast - samglorious - the saem natural rose sheet mask - the face shop lingzhi - the face shop potato

I don’t have much to say about any of these because I feel like they all performed adequately (the only sheet masks I’ve ever felt were exceptional were from SK-II), but the two-tone, two-piece mask below has to be one of the coolest looking sheet masks I’ve ever used.

korean skincare/beauty - sheet mask - anothertoast - samglorious - laneige two tone blue white sheet mask - leaders coconut bio mask with broccoli - sally's box friendly cherry blossom hand mask - sasatinnie ocean's moisture power green caviar hydrating face mask

I’m also wearing a Sally’s Box Friendly Cherry Blossom Hand Mask in the middle photo. It made my hands obscenely soft, and they stayed soft, even after a day of normal hand washing.

  • tackled many nagging tasks:
    • repairing torn lace by hand, on a Forever21 dress that got caught on a French tourist’s purse zipper while I was at the Met Museum in New York
    • acquiring more storage pouches for my cloth menstrual pads
    • hand-washing a bunch of clothes that have been sitting around in sweaty limbo for ages
    • replacing the missing shelf pins for the IKEA media console I’m using as open shelving for my clothing (my partner’s old roommate left it behind at their last apartment so I adopted it)
    • breaking down the pile of cardboard boxes I’ve had sitting in my bedroom since May (a disorienting number of which were from MemeBox)
    • mounting a print that was too narrow to fit in a standard picture frame (it’s a print of Harry Styles destroying his blue velvet suit by lounging in garbage water)
    • removing the visual clutter of approximately 2000 shoeboxes that I had on a high open shelf in my bedroom by hiding them on a high open shelf inside my closet
    • acquiring individual health insurance because COBRA would cost me something like $700/month
    • getting new passport photos taken, for an upcoming international bachelorette party I can’t actually afford to attend
    • photographing old keepsakes I no longer feel the need to keep physical copies of, including:
      • a sky blue colored pencil stub which I believe belonged to me in 4th grade, but which came as part of a miniature colored pencil set, which is why my 1st grade crush, who sat next to me for at least part of 4th grade and who always borrowed my colored pencils, developed the habit of whittling it using scissors instead of using the classroom pencil sharpener
      • a series of stories my friends and I wrote circa 6th grade, exclusively about butts as sentient beings going on adventures
      • photos that include my 8th grade crush, who bears a striking resemblance to my partner in the department of strong eyebrows and doe eyes
      • a set of poems I hand-wrote on notebook paper at the end of high school, including “Romeo and Juliet” by Richard Brautigan, “Lines for Winter” by Mark Strand, and “The Day Zimmer Lost Religion” by Paul Zimmer
      • a bunch of Dadaist collages I made in high school, including one about a history teacher I had a crush on, that I made as an assignment for his class
      • these photos of me and my brother dressed as Hogwarts students (shoutout to my self-inflicted pixie cut, which looked pretty good for about a week)

harry potter photoshoot - ravenclaw hogwarts uniform costume - anothertoast - samglorious

Judging by my hair, this must’ve been from the summer of 2009. I’m pretty sure my brother and I just picked up sticks off the ground and carried them around as wands.

harry potter photoshoot - ravenclaw hogwarts uniform costume - anothertoast - samglorious

My Ravenclaw-esque necktie and scarf (on my brother) were both gifts. The sweater is a vintage knit Cal sweater from my uncle’s college days. And my grandma made my skirt. 💙

  • voted, on San Francisco’s ridiculously long ballot
  • related way too hard to this Yes and Yes post (“True story: I didn’t realize a specific friend’s negativity was affecting me till I found myself on my third bowl of noodles and butter after a morning with her.”)
  • followed a few Yoga with Adriene videos, promptly (re-)injuring my wrists. (Before injury, I tried and enjoyed these two non-wrist-heavy routines: this sunrise routine which is very chill and only 15 minutes long, and this total body deep stretch routine which is painfully good and 45 minutes long.) I don’t actually know if I can ever get back into yoga with my wrists (and neck and left elbow) being so delicate now, so I’ve been avoiding it entirely by half-assedly lifting weights while watching TV. I also begged my partner to try repairing his stationary bike after measuring my waist and realizing exactly how much fat I’ve packed on (¾ of an inch worth) over the past year from not exercising and from eating as a habit instead of a life-sustaining activity. I like my body, but it would be nice to go back to climbing stairs without wheezing again.
  • attended Troye Sivan’s concert wearing Ardell magnetic lashes and glitter eyeliner in my eyebrows, cried while singing along to “Heaven”

anothertoast - samglorious - troye sivan concert outfit - ootd style - holographic fanny pack - knit crop top - joggers sneakers hoodie

Scrunchie: ASOS. Knit crop top: Forever21. Hoodie: Uniqlo men’s. Green sweatpants/joggers: Uniqlo. Holographic fanny pack: Urban Outfitters. Sneakers: Adidas (from the employee store in Portland!).

anothertoast - samglorious - troye sivan concert hair makeup - ardell magnetic lash accents - colourpop cheat codes metallic lip gloss - floral scrunchie

As you can see, I drew ENORMOUS eyeliner wings that don’t quite suit my face. I messed up initially and kept making the wings longer to “fix” them and then ran out of time, so… here I am with an albatross on my face. 

anothertoast - samglorious - troye sivan concert hair makeup - ardell magnetic lash accents - colourpop cheat codes metallic lip gloss

I’m wearing ColourPop Super Shock Shadow as highlighter (Birthday Wish) and blush (Birthday Cake, now only sold as part of a set), which is why my face is so improbably shiny. I’m also wearing the ColourPop Ultra Glossy Lip in Cheat Code.

anothertoast - samglorious - troye sivan concert hair makeup - ardell magnetic lash accents

If I’d had a loose glitter and some clear brow gel, I would’ve gone WAY heavier on the eyebrow glitter, but this is what I got with a few swipes of Urban Decay Heavy Metal glitter eyeliner in Spandex.

I’m wearing the Ardell Magnetic Accents #001, which aren’t full lash strips (as can be inferred from the product name). These are ridiculously difficult to put on straight out of the package, so I ended up taking the internet’s advice and trimming each lash into 3 sections (left, center, right) and applying the 3 sections individually on each eye. I also trimmed each set of lashes shorter and thinned them out so they’d blend in better, because the upper+lower lash combo looks too full/voluminous compared to my real lashes. (This only helped somewhat. As you can see, the lashes cut off VERY sharply at the outer edges, though part of that is because I drew my wings so long. I’m no false lash expert, but the glue-on Ardell lashes look significantly less artificial on the outer edges.)

I also own the Ardell Magnetic Accents #002, but I kind of wish I’d bought the full lashes instead, tbh. Anyway, if you happen to own magnetic lashes that you’ve given up on, I suggest 1) using slightly old mascara because it’ll hold better, 2) chopping the lashes into 3 pieces, and 3) placing the top lash on your top lashline, then placing the bottom lash on your lower lashline, and then squinting your eyes shut onto the lower lash until the top and bottom pieces snap together. While there is a learning curve and they don’t look quite as good as glue-on lashes, they’re surprisingly comfortable and don’t really budge at all, so if your eyes or skin are sensitive to lash glue, these are a nice (reusable!) alternative for when you want to look extra extra.

  • updated my Tumblr theme, using a slightly customized version of the ivy theme from odeysseus themes
  • put my face in this blog’s sidebar, though to be frank that photo is from 2015 and I need to take newer ones sometime. I have much better skin and a much better photography apparatus than the iPhone 4’s front-facing camera now.
  • rediscovered my tiny old pink point-and-shoot camera
  • experienced two disturbingly light menstrual cycles in a row. It was probably related to the whole being sick for like six weeks thing, but I panicked and took a pregnancy test just in case. (I’m not pregnant.)
  • dressed up as Lara Jean Covey from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before for Halloween, with my partner as Peter Kavinsky. To be perfectly honest, we could’ve done better (my coat was too dark a shade of red, I probably should’ve picked an outfit featuring a signature LJ ponytail, his shoes and hair weren’t quite right, he should’ve had a lacrosse stick or a bottle of Yakult as a prop…), but I think we made a solid effort. Plus, I learned how to curl my eyelashes!

anothertoast - samglorious - to all the boys ive loved before - lara jean covey - peter kavinsky - halloween couples costume

Our living room walls are a really weird shade of green that makes for horrible indoor photography, so please excuse the coloring on this one. Also, Peter Kavinsky wears Adidas cleats, not New Balance trainers, and we should’ve gone a size up on the sweatshirt, but whatever.

anothertoast - samglorious - lara jean covey - to all the boys ive loved before - plaid pleated miniskirt - yellow thigh high socks - red toggle duffle coat - black platform wedges

Oh yeah. We got a Nikon D3400 recently and are still learning to use it, but this is easily the highest quality image I’ve ever posted!

This entire outfit is from ASOS (blouse, sweater, scrunchie) and YesStyle (coat, skirt, necklace, shoes).

The socks fit surprisingly well (they’re very stretchy and soft), the shoes are lightweight but very easy to trip over when walking, and my ass literally hangs out the back of the skirt if I am even slightly bent over.

anothertoast - samglorious - lara jean covey - to all the boys ive loved before - curled eyelashes

I had a small, profound moment of pride when I applied my Lara Jean makeup because for once, I did NOT highlight my nose to make it look smaller, narrower, and pointier. LANA CONDOR/LARA JEAN COVEY HAS A ROUND FACE AND A ROUND NOSE AND SHE’S BEAUTIFUL.

When I was growing up, my mom would pinch my nose periodically, which was supposed to encourage my nose to grow in pointier. She’d also tell me off for stuffing tissues up my nostrils when I had a runny nose, not because it was uncouth (it is and I don’t care), but because it would somehow make my apparently enormous nostrils even bigger. It’s kind of funny now that I think about it, because I GET MY NOSE FROM HER.

Anyway, I don’t always like my round face (which is why I angle my face the same way in like 90% of all photos I take), but my partner does (always), and this was one time I agreed with him.

anothertoast - samglorious - lara jean covey - to all the boys ive loved before - curled eyelashes - heart necklace

Never in my life have I curled my eyelashes for fear of damaging them, but I did it for this costume, and I am AMAZED. I know my eyelashes have pretty good length, but all they’ve done for me until now is 1) get mascara all over my eyebags and 2) literally push my glasses down my face when I blink. With a strong curl, my eyelashes look like they might be fake!!! I’m just wearing Maybelline Full ‘N Soft mascara and the skinniest eyeliner I could manage (using the Clio Waterproof Pen Liner in Kill Black of course).

I mean, I’m wearing a lot of other makeup, too, but not on my eyes! LOOK AT THEM!!!

anothertoast - samglorious - lara jean covey - to all the boys ive loved before - curled eyelashes - heart necklace - red coat - straight hair

The rest of my face is Missha M Signature Real Complete BB Cream (#21 and #23 mixed), Queen of the Fill Tinted Brow Gel in Medium DarkTarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Paaarty (from the Sephora 2017 birthday gift), Tarte Tarteist Creamy Matte Lip Paint in Birthday Suit (also from the Sephora 2017 birthday gift, but which I partially blotted off because it was too dark), Bite Beauty Matte Crème Lip Crayon in Glacé (from the Sephora 2018 birthday gift, but which I also partially blotted off because it was too dark), and Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Audition (which was finally the color I wanted).

anothertoast - samglorious - lara jean covey - to all the boys ive loved before - plaid pleated miniskirt - yellow thigh high socks - red toggle duffle coat - halloween costume


anothertoast - samglorious - lara jean covey - to all the boys ive loved before - plaid pleated miniskirt - yellow thigh high socks - red toggle duffle coat - black wooden platform wedges - halloween costume

im adorable

anothertoast - samglorious - my giant face - to all the boys ive loved before - lara jean covey - halloween costume - red coat gray sweater heart necklace

  • set up 1Password for families with my partner, which is, in my books, just about as romantic as the time we set up an Amazon Household together, which is to say, hella.
  • finished my office D&D group’s campaign, the Lost Mines of Phandelver. Best scenes from our last game: Mel (a tiefling warlock with very high charisma) convinced some cultists that Lyle (a halfling rogue trying to start a foon (spork) business) wanted to join their cult because he was already part of 12 other cults, and he really wanted to join one more, because one of his cults worshipped the number 13. At another point, my character, Smollzy (a non-binary teenage forest gnome who is 2 feet tall and who is also a druid who can transform into a bear) was carried aloft by a small dragon, so they transformed into a bear while in the air and dragged the dragon down with them, and then ripped the dragon to shreds.
  • jammed/cried to:

This feels like a good place to insert an EXO video. There are a lot of great things about this live performance, but probably the most important for the casual viewer is that it features Kai in an aggressively short crop top:

  • did a lot of thinking about careers and creativity and jobs and money
  • felt very grateful for my friends
  • ate these stupidly good honey butter almonds that Jess brought back from Korea
  • made it through Week 5 of Tim Clare’s Couch to 80K Writing Bootcamp. I’m currently on Week 7, but Week 5 was especially difficult because I was writing about trauma, which, as was expected, fucked me up for weeks afterward, but having written about it in naked detail, I now feel better about it than before.
  • tried to do a colorful peachy-purple smoky eye using an Urban Decay palette that was a Sephora reward item a few years ago, achieved B-level success

anothertoast - samglorious - striped sweater - overall dress

I think I could’ve packed on a lot more product, since you can barely see the colors here, but at least it’s blended. I’ve never really figured out the right shape for the outer corner of my eyes when doing eyeshadow, though. My eyes tilt downward at the outer corners, so I always get confused about placement…

anothertoast - samglorious - i tried to do a colorful smoky eye but i have no idea what im doing

Floral satin scrunchie: ASOS. Denim overall dress: Forever21. Striped sweater: Forever21.

  • realized that our apartment has picture rail moulding, proceeded to buy picture rail hooks and picture hanging cord and D-rings to put up my framed Harry Styles prints
  • realized to my dismay that of the characters of The Office (which my partner and I are both watching for the first time), I am most like Angela.
  • did a free trial of Cinemark’s Movie Club, ended up choosing to pay $8.99/month for a membership because it’s such a good value!!! I cancelled MoviePass after less than a year because it didn’t feel flexible enough, but Cinemark’s program basically boils down to fixed pricing – every single movie ticket costs $8.99, including the “free” one that you get for each month you pay the $8.99 membership fee. And in San Francisco, that’s kind of miraculous.
  • stayed at home with my mom for Thanksgiving week, chopped so many onions, made ratatouille for my personal contribution this year (I use Smitten Kitchen’s recipe minus the bell pepper), ate too much, loved it. (I think my favorite dish this year was my cousin’s ~*healthy*~ nachos feat. butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and cranberry sauce.)

anothertoast - samglorious - thanksgiving - ratatouille - smitten kitchen

She’s a beaut.

anothertoast - samglorious - thanksgiving lunch

This is only part of our lunch spread. Not pictured are the butternut squash soup, cornbread, lemon squares, butter cookies, and sweet potato pie. For dinner we had whatever was leftover from lunch, plus a turkey, a lamb roast, and an apricot almond tart. 😋

  • played One Night Ultimate Werewolf for the first time and really liked it. I’ve heard it described as being similar to Mafia, which is vaguely true in terms of structure and gameplay, but each game is very short, which I appreciate (please never ask me to play Settlers of Catan), and I like the logic and bluffing and alliances and role-switching.
  • attended my first Friendsgiving ever(!) and really enjoyed myself. It made me and my partner want to host people at our place at some point. We’ve got a lot of tidying to do, but we’ve got a big dining table and friends who like food and games, so…
  • had really good seafood rice noodle soup, roast quail, lamb skewers, and spicy cucumbers at Underground Grill King
  • had some damn good ramen at Ushi Taro, at Spenser’s recommendation. The noodles were slightly chewy, the egg was perfectly soft boiled, the king oyster mushrooms were delicious, and the black truffle made the whole thing super rich.

ushi taro ramen - pork belly king oyster trumpet mushroom truffle

  • had delicious Burmese food at Tharaphu Burmese Street Food, including PORK INTESTINES which I LOVE and a really, really good fish chowder noodle soup

tharaphu burmese street food - berkeley - latt sone - intestines

anothertoast - samglorious - halloween bat sweater forever21 - double monk strap oxfords - outfit ootd style

Bat sweater: Forever21. Skinny jeans: Uniqlo. Monk strap oxfords: Sam Edelman.

anothertoast - samglorious - my face

My extremely trendy shearling collar jacket is my brother’s Old Navy jacket from high school, the scrunchie in the middle pic is from high school (the one in the right pic is from ASOS), and I’m not sure what lip products I’m wearing. Best guess, left to right: Glossier Balm DotCom in Rose, Tarte’s Tarteist Creamy Matte Lip Paint in Birthday Suit from the 2017 Sephora birthday gift, and Smashbox’s Be Legendary Cream Lipstick in Fig.

  • downloaded the Instagram and V LIVE apps on my phone, for the sole purpose of keeping up with EXO in real-time. I didn’t even do this for One Direction, and I can understand what they’re saying in real-time!!! (Granted, I always found 1D’s most exciting social media activity to be Twitcams, but I already had a Twitter account before I became a 1D fan. I’m sure if I’d needed to download an app for them, I would’ve.)
  • stayed up until 1:30AM watching a livestream of EXO competing and performing on Music Bank. When they won, they put on eye masks and tried to do an encore performance.
  • stayed up until 2:30AM watching a livestream of EXO sitting in a room eating fried chicken and playing games with each other, despite not having real-time subtitles. Kai wrote his name in the air using his butt (@ 18:51), Chanyeol apparently acted out a scene from the dubbed Korean version of Lost (Season 1, Episode 24) (@ 30:56 and again @ 33:19), and Baekhyun, instead of letting the broadcast end, told the fans “we’re your sunflowers” and then did a handstand (@ 1:28:22). 🌻😭
  • cackled through EXO’s haunted house video, especially at Baekhyun, who yelled for basically his entire walkthrough. It’s very #relatable, seeing as I once got through a mandatory solo night hike in 8th grade by singing the Oscar Mayer Wiener Song out loud like an absolute idiot.
  • contemplated cutting my hair short because I love Baekhyun’s look sososo much (See Exhibits A, B, C, and D. I was contemplating comma hair for ultimate K-Pop Dream Boy Status, but I think a little chin-length bob would be more versatile. When my hair was bob-length in college, I would rag curl it to make it super poufy and it was V V CUTE.)
  • saw this picture of Baekhyun at the airport from earlier this year, immediately felt compelled to cop his Veja V-10 sneakers (mini epilogue: I convinced my partner to buy them for me as a Christmas gift)
  • had a delightful dream wherein I was back in high school, and I was erroneously placed into an Advanced Dance class, which Sehun from EXO was also in. I asked a counselor to rectify the situation, seeing as I hadn’t even taken the prerequisite Beginning Dance class, and instead of putting me in, say, Ceramics or Drama or some other art class, she made me a TA for Advanced Dance, and Sehun and I were both so embarrassed we couldn’t look at each other. It was wonderful.
  • watched (and rewatched) these two videos WAY too many times:

This live acoustic performance of “Call Me Baby” KILLS ME. Listen to that vocal layering!!! And those fucking HARMONIES!!! FRISSON!!!

This is so cute it’s unbearable. UNBEARABLE!!! Everyone’s SO GODDAMN CUTE. Except for Baekhyun, who looks like A) a sleazy casting call director, B) a frat boy at the spa, or C) the kind of person who makes direct eye contact in a locker room while fully naked, which, frankly, he probably is.

  • cried many, many times at the thought of having to work at another tech job (let alone going through the tech interview gauntlet again). I don’t know how I’m going to do it. That is the whole of it.
  • felt increasingly ashamed about not being able to offer to pay for things, and not being able to pay my own way as often, especially as the holidays approach
  • had a few bouts of suicidal ideation and more than a few bouts of the usual crippling despair

Some small, foolish, desperate part of me with strong survival skills is hoping that my obsession with EXO will become so intense that it motivates me to enthusiastically seek out another tech job (with a tech job paycheck and tech job PTO) so that I can afford to travel to Asia to see them perform in concert (assuming Xiumin doesn’t start his mandatory military service for a bit longer).

It’s not entirely unreasonable that it would work. After all, fandom is what compelled me to travel alone for the first time in my life. I flew to Denver, Colorado by myself, stayed at an Airbnb with internet strangers (the 1D Slack), and cried while scream-singing along to Niall’s first ever concert at Red Rocks, which was a truly magical experience.

There’s also part of me that relishes the guilt I feel every time my partner pays for another meal, the quiet panic that resurfaces whenever rent is due, the shame of knowing how much stress I’m causing my family – because I know I can be pulled or pushed back into software engineering, and sometimes the push of fear and self-loathing carries more weight than the pull of comfort and security and the options that money can buy.

But a quieter, wiser part of me knows that it doesn’t work like that; nothing does. Nothing that stays, anyway.

An external push or pull may be the catalyst for action, but I need internal justification to sustain that action. I am the one who needs to decide that this is the best choice available to me, and I am the one who has to accept that I may never stop being mediocre at my job because I’m not willing to work harder because my heart will always be somewhere else, and I may always be afraid of being fired for incompetence, and I may always feel spiritually unfulfilled and morally dirty about working in tech. I need to decide I can live with that.

But until that happens, I’ll keep helplessly replaying the 2nd teaser video for “Love Shot” and losing my goddamn mind over EXO doing body rolls, which is in keeping with historical trends:

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