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.
It surprised me to write this, but here is the truth:
In the words of BTS… I’m feeling just fine (fine fine).
In the depths of depression, it never feels like I’m going to return to any kind of sustainable equilibrium. It feels impossible, and pointless to try at all.
But here I am.
Sure, I’m still eyebrows-deep in my obsession with EXO (now with other K-Pop artists in the mix, as well), but this particular fixation’s purpose in my life has evolved. Instead of being pure escapism, a survival mechanism to keep myself from fixating on the futility of existence – instead of being a way to induce positive emotions in my broken brain, it’s now just… soothing, and sometimes exciting. A nice thing to look forward to. Some brain candy to reward myself.
It’s good. It’s sustainable.
Here’s what I’ve been up to lately, in the form of an extremely (ᴇxᴛʀᴇᴍᴇʟʏ) long blog post:
Riding our stationary bike. As I’ve mentioned before, my wrists (and left elbow and shoulder) have been super crunchy and weak for a while now, and because I‘ve had really shitty individual health insurance since quitting my job, I can’t justify going to see a physical therapist about it. So instead, I’ve been trying to exercise in ways that don’t put pressure on my wrists (i.e. no more vinyasa yoga), hence the stationary bike. I almost threw up the first couple times I tried to ride, because I have never been good at cardio, not even when I regularly played team sports in grade school, but after accepting my physical limitations, I switched to the lowest resistance setting and selected the “Ride in the Park” preset program. It’s taken me weeks to work up to less pathetic settings, but honestly? It would’ve been more pathetic if I’d just given up. It feels good to use my body again.
Working on regaining flexibility, especially in my legs. I need to get them bendy enough again so they can take more weight in downward dog, otherwise I’m going to keep crunching my wrists.
Slowly working my way through Skiena’s The Algorithm Design Manual. At first I tried to get through a certain number of pages or exercises per day, but I ended up burning myself out with guilt and frustration when I wasn’t working quickly enough, to the point of not being able to get out of bed because I was so ashamed of my own stupidity. ASSFLASH, NEWSHOLE: I’m not stupid, and these things take time.
(As my partner pointed out, I am way, way more stressed than he was when he was studying computer science, so of course it feels like the end of the world when I get stuck. I feel so much pressure to succeed at programming, because it’s my one and only financially practical hobby/interest, and I’ve always erroneously equated failing at programming to be the same thing as failing at doing my best to take care of my mom, which is equivalent to failing at life. When I’m trying to program, it feels like MY MOTHER’S LIFE is on the line, but it isn’t. I am allowed to fail on the path to greater competence. It doesn’t mean I don’t belong in tech.)
So, inspired by my experience with the Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp, I switched to studying in 20-minute blocks, 6+ times a day, and MY GOD!!! It is so much more effective when I timebox myself. And you know the fuck what?! I do like computer science once those feelings of shame are taken away. Is it still frustrating? Hell yeah. But it’s also kind of fun, and very satisfying, and kind of astounding that people came up with this stuff.
(I shouldn’t be embarrassed about this, but I am: It also helps that this time, the person helping me through the most confusing concepts is my partner, a person who wants me to understand the knapsack problem so I can be confident in interviews, and who also wants to have sex with me. He’s such an upgrade from – oh let’s just say perhaps for funsies just hypothetically – an authority figure who gives you full marks on your homework (but not your classmate whom you worked with to get identical answers!) for what may or may not be the purpose of giving himself more time to have a one-on-one conversation with you instead of helping you work through your misunderstanding of the material, because he may or may not want to have sex with you. I got so angry writing this I’m crying now!)
Realizing I can use my Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream on my lips as well as my hands. It doesn’t add any hydration, but it’s very protective and locks in moisture.
Realizing I can do my nails at home in a reasonable amount of time if I do really, really thin layers of nail polish. I must’ve known this in high school, because I used to paint my own nails every few weeks, but maybe it’s because I was using really cheap, really runny nail polish back then, so I was forced to do thin layers anyway. In any case, I’ve gotten a better handle on my nail painting technique, and for the thicker polishes I own, I plan to try the bottle of Seche Restore I just bought to thin them out.
Attending a joint bachelor and bachelorette party in Puerto Vallarta, getting pruny in our private beachfront villa’s hot tub, swimming in a ridiculously pretty stretch of ocean before returning to our private yacht(!) to sun myself dry on the deck and seeing a whale(!!!) wave its big ol’ fin at us, melting with relief at 1) finally seeing my partner again after almost a week apart and going straight to In-N-Out, and 2) finally washing all the sunscreen off my body
It was absolutely unreal to wake up to this view every morning. I feel like all that open sky made my brain slow down for once.
The villa itself was really, really nice. There was a pool, a hot tub, 6 or 7 bedrooms (almost all of which had their own bathrooms), and daily housekeeping and an on-site chef. It was a dream!!
Here’s a glamorous picture of me on the private yacht we rented:
The sun is my nemesis.
I was also extremely drowsy from dosing myself with Dramamine for 24+ hours. (I get very seasick, very easily, but I think the secret is to start taking Dramamine the night before your boat excursion. I didn’t get seasick at all this time, though I guess we were on a catamaran, so the double hull may have helped with any rocking sensation.)
Despite my x-treme sun avoidance, I did get a little darker on the back of my neck, probably from when I was swimming, but I think I got off lightly. One of the guests fell asleep with his arm across his bare chest and ended up with a sunburn outlining the shape of his arm and each of his fingers.
One of the couples sacrificed their precious carry-on luggage space to bring a whole bunch of these cute little water guns for us to play with in our private pool. I hadn’t shot a water gun in so long I forgot how fun it was.
I’m not sure who took this picture of me, but I was pooped after a walk along the beach under the blazing sun, and apparently I fell asleep in the living room with my right toe gracefully pointed.
Here’s a picture where I’m actually awake!
It was just unreal that whenever we took our dinner on the balcony, we could just look over and see a sunset this glorious.
But as beautiful as it was, it was a relief to return home and stuff myself with In-N-Out.
Finally(!!!) getting into BTS more. I was introduced to BTS in 2015 via Tumblr, but not much of their music appealed to me at the time because it leaned heavily toward rap, which I like, but which I also have to be in the mood to listen to. Fast forward to 2019, when I heard some of their ballads for the first time, and I’m now A GONER for V/Taehyung’s voice. He sounds like he swallowed a soulful bullfrog, in a way that makes me feel like I’m swooning onto a very large, very soft bed. I also really like RM/Namjoon’s solo mixtape, mono., especially the tracks “Moonchild” and “seoul.” My BTS faves right now are “The Truth Untold” (TAEHYUNG’S FUCKING VOICE), “I’m Fine” (I’m linking the same performance video as the one from the beginning of this post because the choreo is gorgeous; this song is A+++ for singing along to in English/very broken Korean), “Autumn Leaves” (EMOTIONS!!!), “Spring Day” (ALSO EMOTIONS!!!), “Whalien 52” (which is named for the loneliest whale in the world), and the newly released “Persona” (which is just AUGH!! SO FUCKING GOOD). I’m still a BTS fan and not a BTS stan, but it may only be a matter of time… After all, I’m still not over Taehyung dancing like a PRO in high heels or RM’s indescribable onion-cutting technique.
Shaving my eyebrows in lieu of tweezing them. I’m trying to avoid plucking to see if I can get the inner and outer ends of my brows to grow in more, but the going is very slow. In the meantime, I’m taking care of stray hairs with an eyebrow razor.
Wearing matte eyeshadow. I’d never really considered the merits of matte eyeshadow until I got deep into K-Pop, but it was (of course) EXO’s Baekhyun who got me to pull the trigger. His orange eye makeup for the Don’t Mess Up My Tempo (Andante version) promotions was so striking that I couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks, and when this Love Shot promo image came along, I finally caved and bought a build-your-own eyeshadow palette from ColourPop.
(I spent a few weeks trying to find an existing palette that covered all or most of the Hallyu-inspired colors I wanted, but eventually I realized it was going to be near impossible to find a totally matte palette that had bright orange, yellow-orange, light brown, mid-brown, dark brown, burgundy, and soft pink. Since I wanted to use most of the colors individually, I figured the build-your-own route made the most sense.)
I’m wearing ColourPop’s Pressed Powder Shadow in Bratty, which is a matte bright orange that’s very wearable. (The lipstick is ColourPop’s Matte Lux Lipstick in Check, Please, as I’ll mention later.) I’ve never been much of an eyeshadow person, but after Instagram’s algorithm bombarded me with Korean makeup tutorials*, I think I’ve finally figured out how to wear eyeshadow in a way I actually like. I feel like most Western eye makeup leans toward a specific bold and dramatic look which looks wayyy too harsh on my face, so the softer application and the softer colors I’ve seen in Korean eye makeup suit my features better. Also, I don’t know why it took me so long to realize I love having eyeshadow under my eyes, but I LOVE it.
*I literally only follow EXO and adjacent K-Pop accounts, so I’m not surprised Instagram pegged me for a Koreaboo.
I also saw this pic of a model wearing pink eyeshadow on her lids and yellow eyeshadow under her eyes and immediately wanted to copy her:
I also love her nails!
So I attempted a two-toned pink and yellow-orange eyeshadow look:
Actually, I’d wanted to wear a two-toned blue and green eyeshadow look, because my mom and I were going to see the Monet exhibit at the de Young that morning, and I wanted to be festive and channel his water lily paintings on my eyelids, but the only blues and greens I have are ColourPop’s Quantum Sleep and Tea Garden, which are both metallic and the wrong shades for the soft, diffused look I was going for.
This next photo is uncomfortably close up, but we’re all human here, right? Here are my aforementioned stray eyebrow hairs in evidence and my selfie hands reflected in my eyeballs:
I even tried a matte smokey eye that turned out less terrible than usual (which is saying a lot, because my application skills are still very amateur):
I used ColourPop’s Pressed Powder Shadow in Feathered (matte brown) and Going Steady (matte wine red), and the Pressed Pigment in Sleeper (matte eggplant purple). My pencil eyeliner is really smudged and uneven, and the colors aren’t blended that well, but it’s certainly better than my previous attempts. In my defense, I did this eye makeup to attend a Maren Morris concert, where it was dark enough that nobody would’ve noticed, and it rained a bit that night.
Looking at this picture now, I’m getting the vague sense that I should’ve used a lighter color/used less of the darkest colors around the center of my eyelid, to add… depth? Anyway, this is not a makeup blog. I’m just trying to have fun here.
But most often, I’ve taken to using my fingers to smudge a bit of Made to Last on and under my eyelids. The ColourPop website describes it as a “matte neutral mauve,” but on my skin, it pretty much just reads as light brown, with maybe the barest hint of pink/purple. It’s doesn’t photograph well (especially not when I’m wearing glasses), but it adds just a bit of depth to my eyes, which looks very pretty and doesn’t compete with any other makeup I might apply.
Feeling grateful to my past self for committing to a personal policy of never discussing relationship problems with anyone without discussing them with my partner first. (It’s such an obvious thing, but it is so cringe-inducing when people try to analyze their relationship problems when they clearly haven’t even had an open discussion with their own partners.)
Playing Broken Age with my partner. We finished it a few days ago, and we both enjoyed it, but to be honest, it starts out really slow and the puzzles don’t start getting interesting until about halfway through, so that was a bit of a disappointment. That being said, the art is very pretty and the worldbuilding is quite interesting. I chose this game on a recommendation from an old coworker, but I think my partner and I will try playing another old 90s adventure game next, since we had such a good time with Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle. We’re thinking of tackling The Secret of Monkey Island next…
Trying my hardest to ignore this pupper who’s not allowed to play with her ball indoors:
Tally is my boyfriend’s parents’ neighbor’s dog. She has a cleft lip and a penchant for eating inedible things, such as entire chew toys.
Playing a one-shot D&D campaign with an entire party of bards. We decided to be members of a K-Pop fey-pop girl group, with each character fulfilling a girl group archetype. I played as a 7’7″, 340-pound Goliath named Zaugdath “Toewatcher” Egugumaga, stage name “Zau-Zau,” aka The Shy One. Our group was named SMi/ZE, and at one point we encountered a bartender named Krisma Sizcancelled, who introduced us to his cousin Congra.
Fending off questions about marriage and engagements and proposals and weddings, something it had never occurred to me I would have to do until I had to do it. It is absolutely bizarre to me how much hoopla there is around surprise proposals and surprise engagement rings and having a Big Day, but I guess that’s the wedding industrial complex at work, baybee!!! Like, WOW, I never expected to have to reassure near-strangers that no, I’m not secretly unhappy that my boyfriend hasn’t proposed to me yet (which implies that a proposal is somehow more important than the marriage, when in fact they are completely intertwined), and that yes, we have actually discussed marriage (as if my desire for a husband has consumed me so much that I’d assume my partner wants to get married and then tell people about it without discussing with him first, as if I am foolish for trusting my partner when I should actually doubt him because I can’t say “he liked it so he put a ring on it,” as if it’s his decision, not ours), and that no, I would not enjoy a public proposal and no, I’m not just denying it to be modest (as if I want to be proposed to, as if I want to have an engagement ring, as if I would like an intimate moment of my life to be made public in a way I have little control over). It’s all just ICING!!! It feels like many people (let’s be real: many straight women) have lost sight of the fact that your partner and your commitment to your relationship are the only things that matter. I love weddings, I love rings, and I love a sappy proposal story, but the way people treat getting engaged like it’s a competition for social status – it’s just so dumb. I understand, but I think it’s so dumb. I know there’s an element of deep insecurity when it comes to people who need a love they can show off, but I just… it’s a competition you can’t win, so why compete?
Buying an absurd number of flowers for our semiannual cemetery visit.
…We have a large family.
We don’t usually go to Trader Joe’s for our flowers, but they (unexpectedly) had a better selection than our usual local flower vendor, so that’s where we ended up.
Above, my cousin artfully dodging the camera.
Trying out Spot On, a period tracking app made by Planned Parenthood. I’ve tried Clue, Flo, and Glow over the years, and I settled on using Clue after a verrry long testing period where I used all 3 apps at once, but so far, Spot On has been notably more pleasant to use, possibly because it incorporates emoji for symptom tracking. I can’t speak for the accuracy of its predictions yet, but frankly I haven’t had great success with any of the apps I’ve tried. My ovulation and premenstrual symptoms manifest like clockwork and are VERY obvious to me, but my cycle runs slightly long, and all of the apps I’ve tried seem too reliant on calendar-based tracking. So if you’re looking for a period prediction app, I can’t suggest any, but Spot On is very helpful as a logging tool that increases my awareness of my body and also lets me look back at my symptoms over time.
Turning the bag of veggie scraps I’ve been hoarding in the freezer into vegetable stock, and then using it to make a vat of jook/porridge/congee. I don’t usually add a lot of toppings to jook, but I quite liked the mess I made of cilantro, roasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onion, kimchi, ginger, and toasted slivered almonds. I even threw in a soft boiled egg for good measure. It was delicious.
Trying (very, very slowly) to learn the dance to the chorus of EXO’s “Call Me Baby.” (Shoutout to this tutorial video for actually being slow enough for me to follow. “Call Me Baby” is, in my opinion, a perfect pop song. The choreography is really, really fun, and this is just one of several things I’ve done over the past few months to satisfy my burning desire to be Baekhyun.) I am really uncoordinated (I regularly run into door frames while trying to walk through doorways) and it is hilariously difficult to get all my limbs to cooperate, but it’s also… extremely fun? I went in with the attitude of an enthusiastic beginner, and it’s been so fun trying to move my body in ways that look aesthetically pleasing!
Taking care of some longstanding household tasks, such as
- lining the kitchen drawers
- putting dust filters over all the heating vents (We found a melted crayon in my partner’s heating vent and a rat-sized clump of dust in mine. I’m pretty sure the downstairs neighbors’ kitchen vents directly into our bathroom + bedrooms, so I’d hoped that the filters could help with odors too, but it doesn’t seem like it. I can still tell when they’re making curry vs. bacon vs. onions vs. toast, and I’ve still had to shower with the smell of fish wafting into the bathroom.)
- finally buying kitchen slippers
- buying a hot water bottle (it makes my feet sweaty, but it sure helps on cold nights)
Doing some redecorating in my room:
Our building is quite old, so that moulding up there is actually a functional picture rail you can hang things from. I bought the picture rail hooks and cord from House of Antique Hardware. The Another Man Harry Styles prints and the Girl Almighty tapestry are from Society6 sellers I can no longer find, probably because they got taken down with copyright notices, the picture frames are from various thrift stores and estate sales, and my ugly/amazing lamp-with-attached-end-table is from an estate sale.
This mirror is from Wayfair, and the picture hanging cord and tasseled hook set is from House of Antique Hardware.
Here’s my EXO corner. All (or at least most) photos were taken from exohd and printed via Shutterfly. The XOXO poster was a Christmas gift I begged for in 2013 (I screamed when I opened it) and which I maintain is the best boy band poster of all time. The Love Shot mini poster came with the physical album, also a Christmas gift I begged for, in 2018.
Listening with horror to some casual body-shaming and trying (and failing) to withhold judgment. No matter how you slice it, “48 hour intermittent fasting” is the same thing as “eating 1 meal every 2 days,” and I don’t know how people manage to convince themselves it’s acceptable. I also don’t know why anyone would ever expend the energy to point out to other people that their partner “doesn’t even have a 4-pack” or a visible V-line. Please… we’re all just limited-edition sacks of blood. Eat a donut, or don’t, but don’t act like having body fat makes you a bad person or that starvation is virtuous.
Realizing that the reason I always end up with a dusting of mascara on my eyebags is because my eyelashes point straight down, and I can avoid this by simply… curling my eyelashes! A revelation!
Realizing I dislike fluffy towels. Gimme a raggedy, thin, slightly scratchy towel any day. I can’t wait for the stupidly fluffy bath towels I bought when I moved into this apartment to get worn down in the wash.
Bothering the cat.
Feeling very Big Mood™ about these quotes:
- “If these folks have a hard time holding onto friendships, it’s not a mystery why, you don’t have to solve it or make up for a cruel world at your own expense!” (via Captain Awkward)
- “There were a number of reasons for the uptick in arguments, but the main one, really, was that at the time, I was depressed, she was coming out of a period of depression, and our differing emotional states made me toxic to her.” (via Lifehacker)
Thinking about Depth Years. It’s interesting to consider the ways I can “go deep” in different areas of my life. For example, thinking about how to go deep on my existing skill set was what led me to studying an algorithm textbook. I’m going deep on my giant collection of Chrome bookmarks by using Mailist. I’ve been doing pretty well on going deep on my existing wardrobe, makeup, and skincare, although I did buy some makeup a month or two ago because I so desperately wanted to copy Baekhyun’s eye makeup. I probably should go deep on my to-read and to-watch lists, but I keep adding things to my to-read list while I still have unread Kindle and physical books sitting around, so I need to work on this one. I’d also like to go deep on writing, a hobby I haven’t treated seriously since college, but my recent track record has been pretty on and off. At some point, I’d also like to focus more of my attention on going deep in my existing relationships, since I think it would be very fulfilling, and after all, love is the point of… everything, is it not? I watched this (long but worthwhile) interview with Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, the authors of Getting the Love You Want, and it made me think a lot about how I can better show up for my partner, and how perhaps the most meaningful work I may ever do in my life is to work on our relationship. It’s a humbling thought, and also kind of soothing and exciting at the same time.
Finally trying a yellow-orange lipstick and LOVING it. I’d worn plenty of coral-leaning oranges, neon oranges, red-oranges, and orangey-browns, but never had I tried a yellow-orange. I know it sounds kind of weird and unwearable, but I’d been curious about it since seeing 3 Concept Eyes’ Milky Tangerine lipstick a few years ago. I went with ColourPop’s extremely matte Check, Please lipstick, which is weirdly powdery for a lip product but super pigmented and super matte as advertised. I really like how it looks on me.
It can look pretty soft and muted (as above) or almost neon (as below), depending on the lighting.
(I’m also wearing ColourPop’s Pressed Powder Shadow in Bratty.)
Washing my hair as little as possible (as usual), mostly out of laziness (also as usual). On the 93rd day of 2019, I washed my hair for the 10th time this year, which means I’m averaging 9.3 days between washes. I’m also back to using regular shampoo because my oil cleanser + foaming cleanser combination would eventually lead to buildup every few months, and I’ve reverted to my old childhood habit of shampooing twice, which really does help keep my scalp feeling clean for longer between washes. I guess this is kind of gross, but I usually wait until my scalp starts feeling itchy before I wash my hair, which takes 8-10 days. It actually takes longer to get itchy if I’ve been sweating profusely, which I attribute to always brushing my hair out after exercising and putting it up into a bun/braids on alternating days, to redistribute the sweat and oils. I seem to be lucky in that my hair rarely smells after sweating (trust me, I know when my hair is actually smelly; it just doesn’t happen that often), which allows me to get away with this degree of sloth.
Feeling a little verklempt that Aerie has a model with a keloid scar on her chest, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen photographed in a positive way. My keloid is similar in placement and size, but I’ve spent a lot of time and money on products to flatten my scar and reduce its redness to make it look more like the surrounding skin, so it’s much less noticeable than the model’s scar is. But I am not immune to propaganda. U got me, Aerie. I feel seen.
Mixing chocolate chip cookie dough by hand, because we don’t own a mixer and I was desperate for something sugary. It took ages to cream the sugar and butter together using a fork, but I think the cookies turned out alright. I used this AllRecipes recipe, which is just okay, but it did the trick for my sugar craving. I also used Smitten Kitchen’s tip for freezing cookie dough, so now I have a good two dozen cookies ready to bake whenever I’m hurting for something sweet.
Successfully retraining my mouth to wear retainers again. It was pretty painful to force my mouth to build up scar tissue in the right places again, but it no longer hurts like hell when I put my retainers on.
Getting my hair cut. I’ve been getting my hair cut exactly once a year for the past few years, but for whatever reason, I missed my December window last year and didn’t end up getting a haircut until March. Usually by the time December rolls around, I’m already fed up with how long my hair is (it’s so heavy it gives me headaches whether up or down, it takes forever to wash and dry, it falls into the toilet if I don’t sweep it to the front, etc.), so being three months overdue for a haircut was kind of miserable. For months now, I’ve been thinking about having short hair again (probably influenced by my desire to become Baekhyun), but I ended up getting a 5-6″ trim with face-framing pieces and blunt ends. (I didn’t ask for blunt ends, but it’s… fine.) I really do want to go shorter, but I have a family wedding to attend soonish, and I think it’ll be easier to have long hair since I already know how to style it. (I always wear the same dress, shoes, hair, and makeup for weddings. It makes things a lot easier, even if I look the same in all the photos.) After that, I’m thinking about getting a chin-length bob and maybe a digital perm (Baekhyun’s influence) to add some texture.
Mixing in a few of my new Heartbeat Pride dice into my usual D&D dice set.
The lighting in this photo is truly terrible, but trust me when I say they’re very pretty in real life. Luckily I’d already picked out a mismatched set of pinkish, bluish, and purplish dice for my original set, so these blend right in.
Savoring a bath in a hotel bathtub with a Lush bath bomb, which always makes me feel #blessed. I cherish baths!!! Our apartment does have a bathtub, but I’m unconvinced that any amount of scrubbing would make it feel clean enough to soak my body in. Then again, maybe the reason it always seems a bit grimy is because our bathroom lighting is so dim. Who knows! My laziness prevails.
Seeing the Monet exhibit at the de Young with my mom, which was a soul-cleansing experience. Going in, I was vaguely aware that I should view the paintings from both up-close and afar to appreciate Monet’s artistry, but I didn’t anticipate the sort of… peaceful sense of joy I’d feel from experiencing it in person. It was delightful and, like, quietly astounding to inspect the canvas closely enough to see the texture of the paint, and to be unable to discern any meaningful shapes from the globs of color – and then to step back and watch water lilies and bridges and weeping willows come into focus like some kind of magic. I’m not versed in art history at all, but I know that Monet’s paintings make me feel happy, and that’s something worth holding onto.
I loved all the water lily and Japanese footbridge paintings, but I took an unexpected liking to this painting of yellow irises for whatever reason:
Claude Monet, “Yellow Iris,” 1917 – 1919
My mom and I took our time moving through the exhibition hall, viewing and discussing and silently contemplating each painting. My favorite thing I learned was that Monet was so obsessed with painting the water lilies in his pond that he hired someone to come in every day to clean the pond scum and dunk each of the water lilies in water to remove the dust from them. I LOVE IT.
Claude Monet, “Water Lilies,” 1914 – 1917
It’s probably relevant to note that Monet developed cataracts in both eyes during the later years of his life, which affected his perception of color and light contrast, resulting in dreamlike and at times incomprehensible paintings such as these.
Claude Monet, “Water Lilies,” 1917 – 1919
I particularly liked the vibrant colors of this next one, but it turned out to be really hard to track down any images online because it’s from a private collection, so I feel lucky to have seen it in person:
Claude Monet, “Water-Lily Pond,” 1917 – 1919
My mom and I happened to get more photos of the water lily paintings, but toward the end of the exhibit was a room full of paintings of the Japanese footbridge (and several weeping willows) in Monet’s garden, and to be honest, they were the ones that startled/delighted me the most in their abstraction.
Claude Monet, “The Japanese Bridge,” 1918 – 1924
Afterward, we did a leisurely loop through the gift shop before heading to the museum cafe for a (mildly overpriced but tasty) light lunch of panzanella and a mushroom flatbread before heading home.
Making tiny molten-center chocolate cakes c/o this Smitten Kitchen recipe, which literally took 15 minutes from start to finish. I already had all the ingredients sitting around, the portion size is perfect, and they were an easy last-minute addition to our Valentine’s Day dinner.
I am not a photographer.
Shedding a tear over this Spirited Away jewelry box Spenser brought me back from Japan. LOOK AT IT!!!
The top has a pretty image of Haku and No-Face with some susuwatari.
There’s a No-Face figurine inside that rotates when the music box plays, and the image on the side is of Yubaba.
(Bonus content: I spy Harry Styles in the mirror reflection…)
The little mirror has a floral etching on it that matches the design on the exterior of the box. BIG UWU!!!
The back of the box has some more susuwatari, and if you wind up the music box, the song that plays is “Always With Me.” 😭
Trying out a microfiber hair towel (I bought the Aquis towel on Amazon) and liking it quite a lot. The towel itself is long enough, but I wish it were a bit wider because my hair barely fits when I twist it up in the towel. It really does help with drying time, though, and it’s much more lightweight than wrapping my hair in a full-size bath towel. This purchase was totally worth it, and if you’re fed up with how long your hair takes to dry, I highly recommend trying a microfiber towel.
Seeing Maren Morris in concert! Her album GIRL is SO DAMN GOOD, and I was obsessed with “The Bones” immediately after my first listen. My mom and I went to see her at the Masonic for a mere $25 a ticket ((Viktor Nikiforov voice) Wow!! Amazing!!) and managed to avoid paying the exorbitant event parking fee by showing up a couple hours early and finding street parking. We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant a couple blocks over (down a very steep hill) and arrived back at the venue in time to grab a cookie before the opening act, Cassadee Pope, started her set. I wasn’t familiar with any of her songs, but she has a fantastic voice and sounds really good live. This was my second time seeing Maren Morris live (the first time was at Shoreline when she opened for Niall), and I was once again awestruck by how much I LOVE HER VOICE. She sounded SO good, and it was straight up a religious experience to scream along with the crowd to “The Middle,” her last song of the night. (An observation: I’ve never been to a concert with so many white people before. I don’t think I saw a single non-white person there, which I guess is just what happens when you go to a country singer’s concert. It wasn’t really a bad thing; it was just… a thing. She was so fucking good, though.)
All my videos are really shaky, so instead I offer you a picture of the set that doesn’t convey any sense of Maren Morris’ voice:
And a mirror selfie:
Scrunchie: ASOS. Leather jacket: Zara. Turtleneck: Uniqlo. Skinny jeans: Uniqlo. Sneakers: Veja V-10. Bag you can barely see: Kooba.
My mom’s wearing the Cole Haan ZERØGRAND Waterproof Hiker Boots in Twilight Mauve, which are cute af and which I also own.
And a couple photos where you can see my aforementioned smokey eye:
Delighting my taste buds with
- ube donuts with powdered sugar from Twisted Donuts
- corn fritters, red curry with pork, and khao soi (curry with crispy noodles) at Bussaba
- pho loaded with beef balls, tripe, and tendons from Kim Son
- genmaicha milk tea from TJ Cups and decaf black milk tea from Boba Guys, both godsends for my caffeine-sensitive body
- sour vegetable and beef noodle soup + pork belly over rice at CamboWan:
This is the Sour Marble Beef Pot, which has slices of beef, enoki mushroom, and pickled greens. We ordered the mild, which was just this side of too spicy. It was SO GOOD.
This is the pork belly rice bowl, served with a tea egg and more pickled greens. This was also delicious, and I quite liked the Thai tea as well, because they didn’t make it too sweet.
This is the pig ear, which I actually thought would be spicier. They were very garlicky, which I wasn’t expecting, and they were cut in very (thin but) wide ribbons instead of the slivers I’m used to. They were good, but I think I prefer the Szechuan style, which uses vinegar and is more sour-spicy than salty-spicy.
Devouring the surprisingly steady stream of EXO content that SM is putting out. I recently finished watching the last (English subbed) episodes of Travel the World on EXO’s Ladder, S2, and I’m currently watching EXO’s Heart4U as it’s being released. They’re both SO SOOTHING and occasionally hysterically funny.
Favorite moments from EXO’s Ladder include Sehun begging the other members to sleep with him because he won a single room despite being the only person who didn’t want one, Chanyeol drinking an entire bottle of water in 3 seconds, and Baekhyun pretending to be a movie director.
So far, all the Heart4U episodes have been Xiumin/Minseok-focused, and my favorite moments include Baekhyun gifting Minseok a housewarming gift of toilet paper and D.O. taste testing his cooking with Minseok (BIG UWU). I also found this 4:32 clip of Minseok literally lint-rolling his bed extremely and inexplicably sexy.
Listening to… mostly K-Pop. Here’s some of what I’ve had on repeat, starting with the Western stuff:
- “i’m so tired…” by Lauv & Troye Sivan (the acoustic version has a gorgeous bridge)
- Betty Who’s entire Betty album, but especially “I Remember,” “Taste,” “Between You & Me,” and “Just Thought You Should Know.” If you haven’t seen the music videos for “Between You & Me” and “Taste,” they are, respectively, really cute and really, really, really hot.
- Maren Morris’ entire GIRL album, but especially “The Bones,” “All My Favorite People,” and “The Feels”
…Well that was even shorter than I expected. Here’s some of the K-Pop I’ve been listening to:
- “Countless” by SHINee:
This song isn’t even sad, but I full-on bawled reading the translated lyrics. I guess “Calculating our relationship and the time you will leave, I maybe was waiting for the time” just hits really close to home. I’ve also been listening to “Good Evening,” “Tell Me What To Do,” “Replay” (so old, but still so good, and their hair was ICONIC), and “Like A Fire” (catch Key embodying “when it’s a group project but you’re being graded individually” with his absurd and INCREDIBLE high note @ 3:30-3:53).
For the record, I watched/listened to “Our Page” twice, once without translated lyrics and once with translated lyrics, and I cried so much both times that I can’t bring myself to watch or listen to it again. The members wrote this song after Jonghyun’s death, and the music and lyrics are so, so beautiful and so full of love, but it hurts.
- “I Wanna Be” by Key (of SHINee), feat. Soyeon of (G)I-DLE:
Somehow this became my go-to song to have on repeat while studying, but I love basically all of Key’s solo music. “Hologram” from his Japanese album is also really good.
- “Want” by Taemin (of SHINee):
IS THIS NOT STUNNING? If you haven’t seen Taemin’s other iconic MV, “Move,” OH MY GOD… PLEASE DO.
- “SOLO” by Jennie (of BlackPink; I LOVE the part where the bass drops out and it’s just a plucky piano(?) and Jennie’s voice)
- “Millions” by Winner (the music video is a color explosion and this song just makes me happy; their rapper Mino also has a fantastic solo song called “Fiancé”)
- “Regular” by WayV (Actually this one’s in Mandarin, not Korean. This is probably really confusing if you’re not into K-Pop, but this song was previously released in Korean and English by NCT 127. Both WayV and NCT 127 are sub-units of NCT, but WayV is their China-based sub-unit. Anyway, for whatever reason, I prefer the Mandarin version.)
- “All Night” by ASTRO, which has a gorgeous music video:
- “Shine” by Pentagon (I immediately LOVED their vocalists (and rappers) on my first listen – probably because Hui has a vocal timbre very similar to Baekhyun’s – but also like… goddamn, they all sound good.)
- “Valkyrie” by ONEUS. After getting hooked on the song, I found out that ONEUS actually choreographed their own dance for this (at least according to /r/kpop), which is super impressive. I also really like “Red Thread,” “Eye Contact,” and “Hero,” which covers 50% of their entire discography, so I can’t wait to see what they put out next.
- “Wind Flower” by MAMAMOO. I’ve also been loving “Décalcomanie,” “Egotistic,” and their latest single, “gogobebe.” My bias is (currently) their rapper, Moonbyul, but all four members are SO, SO talented. JUST LISTEN TO THEM:
- all the aforementioned BTS songs, plus this live version of “I Like It,” which features V/Taehyung fighting(?) the “pretty woman” he’s singing about
- “Feeling” by Jeong Sewoon, feat. PENOMECO (this is a BOP and a HALF)
- “Four Seasons” (Drama™) by Taeyeon, whom I fell in love with after she picked her nose during a travel vlog. I also love “11:11” with my entire being, and her vocals on “U R” and “I” are so damn good, but her concert performance of “Blue” just kills me:
And now for an entire section dedicated to EXO, whom I’m feeling extra emotional about because it’s just been confirmed that Minseok is enlisting in less than a month 💔 and Junmyeon is rumored to follow later this year, which means I’ll probably never see them in concert.
In addition to studying, I’ve also been busy smashing that V LIVE heart button so hard that I’ve made it to the top 0.1% of EXO fandom.
That’s 319,000 times that I’ve tapped that little heart…
I’ve been listening to a fuckton of EXO lately, but the (baker’s) dozen I’ve had on heaviest rotation are
- “Trauma” (the LA Lᴀʟᴀ LAᴸᵃLAᴸᵃ and the TOO ʜᴏᴏ ʰᵒᵒ really get me)
- “Touch It” (this song is super horny and I appreciate that!)
- “First Snow” (truly just… the cutest winter song; apparently it trends in Korea every winter when the first snow falls)
- “Lotto” (this music video has god-tier styling! they all look like sleazy card sharks! but what i really like is their live performances, where their voices aren’t drowned out by the autotune)
- “Boomerang” (it was Chanyeol’s gravelly voice in this performance that sucked me in)
- “Bad Dream” (this melody is kind of weird and unexpected in a way I really like (unlike “Wolf,” which is weird and unexpected in a way I really do not like (but recall with fondness thanks to its iconic tree formation dance, plus its flute/dubstep intro and CHOGIWAAA)), and their voices sound SO good together)
- “Thunder” (this song really feeds my lifelong 90s R&B craving, and it’s perfect for D.O.’s smooth-ass vocals)
- “Electric Kiss” (like all of their Japanese releases, this song has a music video with fever-dream aesthetics and all of the members in punchy and stupidly hot styling; see also: “Coming Over” and “Love Me Right ~romantic universe~”)
- “She’s Dreaming” (listening to this song feels like soaking in a bathtub, and this fanvid is a whole mood)
- “Stay” (when Chanyeol comes in with the rap… ᶜᵃᴺ’ᵗ ᵇᵉˡᶦᵉᵛᵉ ᶜᴬᴺ’ᵀ ᴮᴱᴸᴵᴱᵛᴱᵎᵎ and then when everything but the piano drops out… ᶜᵃᴺ’ᵗ ᵇᵉˡᶦᵉᵛᵉ ᶜᴬᴺ’ᵀ ᴮᴱᴸᴵᴱᵛᴱᵎᵎ)
- “Walk On Memories” (I love the production of this song, which has lots of blurry-music-box-sounding runs layered underneath the vocals)
- “Been Through” (I love the intro to this, I love their vocals, and I love the lyrics)
- “Mama” (their debut song; I’d expected their debut song to be more like “History,” a pre-debut song which has their iconic flapping pants dance move, or “What Is Love,” a delicious pre-debut R&B song where the vocal line flexes like mad 💪🏻, so I was as surprised as everyone else when their debut song turned out to be “Mama,” which I’ve heard described with terms like “baroque pop” and “symphonic rock,” neither of which captures the fact that it opens with Gregorian chanting and includes a screamo interlude. It was weird af then; it’s still weird af now, but I’ve grown really fond of it.)
I’ve also been going hard on the ballads (I guess some of the above are ballads, but they’re not as… ballad-y as these ballads):
- “Universe” (a rock ballad, with incredible vocals set to a gorgeous, coffee-themed music video)
- “Promise (EXO 2014)” (😢💔 This whole song makes my heart hurt, but Chanyeol’s rap in particular really gets to me. Here’s a video of EXO crying while performing it!)
- “Sing For You” (I’m not sure I understand this music video, but they sound beautiful)
- “Miracles in December” (from their very first winter album; this song is very pretty, very sad, and very vocally impressive)
- “Stronger” (this has really nice lyrics, AND their vocals and harmonizing are just NEXT LEVEL)
- “Wait” (Extremely Soothing™ and my GOD those harmonies):
As well as more of EXO-CBX’s songs, like
- “Hey Mama!” (their outfits are so good and I love Xiumin’s rapping)
- “Vroom Vroom” (I just love their voices together!!!)
- “The One” (Baekhyun’s opening rap… oh my fuckin god… His rapping in “Horololo” is also to die for, but the rest of the song is absolutely ridiculous. They all look damn good in that music video, though.)
- “Cherish” (this is just cute af)
- “Girl Problems” (which has the iconic English line “Do you like strawberries? / Wanna catch a movie?”)
- “Ka-CHING!” (this music video is crazy in the best way, and I love both Xiumin’s and Baekhyun’s rapping in this)
And more of EXO’s solo songs, like
- “Stay With Me” by Chanyeol & Punch (I love the melody, I LOVE their voices together, and Chanyeol’s rapping is SO HOT.)
- “Lovebird” by Far East Movement, feat. Lay (this is the first of Lay’s solo songs that I’ve LOVED, and it might be because I was so surprised by the sample of “Two Princes”)
- “Tell Me (What Is Love)” by D.O. & Yoo Youngjin (This is the slow jam to end all slow jams. D.O.’s voice is just SO SMOOTH.)
- “Young & Free” by Xiumin and Mark (of NCT) (This song is just fun and Minseok looks hot af in the music video.)
- the entirety of April and a flower, Chen’s solo album 🍃 (My favorite track is “Love Words.” I can’t rank the other ones at all, though the music video for “Beautiful Goodbye” is super pretty. They’re all gorgeous, and Chen sounds INCREDIBLE on all of them. Here’s a clip of him just casually hitting those high notes in “Love Words” a cappella like an ANGEL.)
- D.O.’s English version of “For Life” (The original version with all the members is so pretty, but this version just KILLS ME. I desperately wish there were a studio recording of this without crowd sounds, because his voice and the lyrics are SO HEARTRENDINGLY BEAUTIFUL.)
Now it’s time for me to get back to mourning Minseok’s impending enlistment (the rest of EXO will be enlisting within the next couple years too 😢), waiting for my physical copy of April, and a flower to arrive, and stewing over the dynamic programming exercises I’ve been stuck on for the past several days.
I’m confused as hell and really frustrated, and I know there are virtually no interview scenarios where I’d be asked to come up with a dynamic programming solution on the fly. But I would really like to understand it. So I’m going to try again.
And that’s what matters, isn’t it? Trying again.
Here’s to the remaining three-quarters of this Depth Year. ✌🏻
(Kim Minseok in EXO’s Heart4U; GIFs by woozis)