lately (04.30.20)

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.

anothertoast - samglorious - oversized barrettes 90s hair clips matte

Uuuuugggggghhhhhhh.

It’s the end of April. A couple days ago San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order was extended through the end of May, which I’d fully expected to happen but which really bummed me out regardless.

I’ve been feeling mentally restless for days, partially because of the pandemic and partially because my body’s gearing up for a period and every part of my person is over-tender. I’ve got my NCT noise playlist on repeat and a batch of box mix brownies waiting for me in the kitchen. It’s helping, kind of.

Since my last update, I…

…finally used up my Eucalyptus & Mint Native Deodorant and am now moving on to the Sandalwood & Lemon (a seasonal scent from a while back). Now I smell like the inside of my dresser.

…had several days of migraines, which meant several days of Excedrin-induced insomnia. I’m really sensitive to the caffeine in Excedrin, and while it’s absolutely worth it to not have a migraine, it’s also really disorienting to be wide awake until 4 or 5 in the morning.

…went on another 6AM grocery trip. We were able to get most of the things we needed, but man. We’re going again later this week, and this is getting old real fast. But at least I’ll get to physically see my brother for a little while.

…started sprouting green onions in a boot-shaped glass on our kitchen windowsill. They’ve grown like CRAZY over just a few days, and while I know they won’t regrow indefinitely, I’m looking forward to having another round or two of fresh green onions on hand.

green onions - scallions - growing in water - sprouting

This picture is almost a week old. We’ve added a few more bulbs and the oldest ones have 4-5″ of growth now! 🌱😱

…lost my mind over the rest of Baekhyun’s W Korea photoshoot… his beringed fingers… that nose bridge and cheekbone shimmer… so many hand shots… his twisty, weirdly skin-baring sweater… his white CROWN… 😩😭

…downloaded and then deleted TikTok because Sehun made an account and then deleted it 2 days later. Iconic.

…got so vicariously happy about EXO’s Chen’s baby being born 🤧🤧🤧 #jongdaddy

…thought way, way too hard about this compilation of fragrances used by the members of NCT. I feel like Johnny, Doyoung, and Jaehyun probably smell really good…

…started working through my little tin of Library of Flowers Willow & Water Parfum Crema, which is a cream perfume(???). I feel kind of bad saying this because I received it as a gift, but it is literally one of the worst things I’ve ever smelled.

library of flowers by margot elena - willow & water parfum crema

The packaging sure is pretty, though!

Honestly, I’m probably using too much of it per application because I’ve been using it as a moisturizer on my legs (which you can then smell from TWO ROOMS AWAY) in order to use it up as quickly as possible, but even in small quantities, it’s gag-inducingly floral and has green notes that remind me of celery, but in the way I’d imagine celery would smell if it were a box of mixed greens that you forgot in the fridge and didn’t get around to using before it started getting slimy.

…started a fragrance spreadsheet so I can maintain detailed notes on my likes and dislikes in one place. (It lives alongside my skincare and makeup spreadsheets on Google Drive.)

I still don’t really know how to search for fragrances, because my top 3 scents are Burberry London, Nest Midnight Fleur, and Fresh Sugar Lemon. From the first two, I would’ve expected that I’d like white florals that dry down to patchouli/woodsy smells, and from the last, I would’ve expected that I’d like citrus-sweet smells that dry down sweet and warm.

But I cannot stand the opening smells of, for example, Tokyo Milk La Vie La Mort (white floral; also a gift, incidentally made by the same perfumer behind the Library of Flowers) or Clinique Happy (citrus & white floral).

I don’t know what to look for! I suspect I might only like certain white florals (jasmine and honeysuckle, perhaps, given that I like Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy pretty well), which might be the main issue. I don’t know if this is unusual, but most perfumes have base notes that I find pleasant or at least inoffensive, but SO many perfumes have top notes that, like, genuinely repulse me.

But anyway. I am intrigued by the descriptions for Atelier Cologne Oolang Infini, Le Labo Neroli 36, and Mugler Alien, among many others.

…tried to start a quarantine food diary, but I’m not good at remembering to photograph my meals before eating them, so it’s gone poorly. Here’s a partial list of what I’ve been eating:

quarantine food - instant pot hawaiian beef stew - baked quesadillas - veggie sandwich - veggie spaghetti - ramen - mac n cheese - rice and curry - sad soup

  • hot dogs
  • Instant Pot Hawaiian beef stew, from this recipe (row 1, left pic)
  • frozen taquitos
  • baked quesadillas with mashed white beans + mixed greens + green onions, and also black beans + corn, and also artichoke hearts + mixed greens (row 1, right pic)
  • crackers + canned tuna (we didn’t have mayonnaise, but mustard + unflavored yogurt worked pretty well to make it spreadable)
  • veggie sandwiches (hummus, cucumber, bread & butter pickles, bell pepper, mixed greens, cheese, and shredded carrot) + chips (row 2, left pic)
  • veggie spaghetti (it was only like 25% vegetable lol) with diced zucchini and frozen sausage (row 2, right pic)
  • kimchi instant ramen
  • instant ramen w/leftover meat, frozen peas/corn/carrots, and random leftover greens (row 3, left pic)
  • instant vegan mac & cheese w/frozen sausage + frozen veggies (row 3, right pic)
  • Costco premade curry mix + white beans + frozen veggies + rice (row 4, left pic)
  • frozen peas/corn/carrots sautéed with butter, salt, and a bit of rice vinegar (that bit of acidity was magical)
  • sheet pan sweet potatoes + black beans + corn + zucchini + eggs, from this recipe
  • Chinese takeout of Mongolian beef, kung pao chicken, garlic eggplant, and beef pancakes – so greasy, so delicious (This is purely anecdotal but the Chinese restaurant we picked up our food from was WAY more safe/cautious than any other restaurant we’ve interacted with since the SIP began – masks and gloves everywhere, one customer at a time, way more than six feet between staff and customers, zero-contact handoff… I hope every other restaurant is following suit, because I think it’ll be important as California looks to potentially start reopening things later in the year.)
  • a very sad soup, using carrot, onion, and celery that we’d previously diced and left in the freezer, and some bean cooking water, and some white beans, and frozen peas and corn, and pearl barley, and badly estimated quantities of apple cider vinegar, white wine, and black pepper, which turned out so unappetizing I ended up desperately adding furikake to make it more palatable (row 4, right pic)
  • frozen chicken nuggets ✌🏻

…retook the MBTI test (I used this one) because Baekhyun posted his test result (ISFP), and I was curious to see if my result had changed again. I’m not 100% sure if I’m remembering correctly, but I believe I’ve previously tested as an INFP and an INTJ, with the most recent result that I recorded being INTJ from about 2014.

I remember being weirded out because I’d taken it during my college days when I was having a crisis about my major, and I’d initially tested as one of the less analytical, more artsy types. But after spending time as a computer science student, I changed to a more analytical, significantly less artsy type, and that stayed with me through my first few jobs as a programmer, and I was proud of it, because I’d successfully smothered my artsy, idealistic, people-focused inclinations in order to become A Person Who Made Money.

Except now I’m not making money! And my partner is taking care of both of us financially! And I just tested as an ISFP(?!), just like Baekhyun!!! The Meyers-Briggs type of artists!!! And I wonder if this is who I would’ve been, had I not been so intensely worried about money for what’s now been the majority of my life!!! I feel immensely lucky and privileged to have a partner who is supportive of my spending this Time of the ‘Rona writing fiction instead of continuing with my Android classes or doing something else with more obvious economic utility, and I wish everyone could have this kind of opportunity.

I am reminded of a text conversation I had with Alice, about how writing has always felt like the truest part of me. I think I’m pretty good at it, but I want to be better, and I enjoy or at least find satisfaction in even the excruciating parts of it. And I know my writing may never amount to anything, but I just… can’t not do it. So maybe this is just who I am, when you take everything else away.

…received my NCT 127 Kick It sweatshirt, am IN LOVE:

nct 127 - kick it - logo sweatshirt official kpop merch hoodie - chinese

nct 127 - kick it - logo sweatshirt official kpop merch hoodie

I haven’t washed and worn it yet, but I bought a Large and it comes down past my butt, which is what I was going for. (The Chinese characters “英雄” read “hero” (that’s the Korean title for their song “Kick It”) and I am so excited to wear this.)

…received these NCT decals:

nct 127 - neo culture technology - wavy vaporwave water bottle decal - fanmade kpop merch sticker

They were made by @ttaeyomii, and I received them by ordering through @10velymooni.

I ADORE the sorta vaporwave aesthetic NCT has for so much of their merch and music, but I wasn’t about to spend $41.50 on a water bottle, so I’m glad a fan decided to take things into their own hands.

…received a couple sticker sets and a handful of ADORABLE phone cases from Cream, who’s one of the few USA GOMs I’ve seen with Thai addresses. Most GOMs only have Korean addresses, so it’s really cool to see what merch international fans/artists are creating too!

nct 127 - group order - february boy birthday stickers - neo zone vaporwave aesthetic stickers - teddy bear peach phone cases

I LOOOVE the aesthetics of both sticker sets (the creator is @fplt_studio), and the phone cases came out to $3.50(!) each, including EMS and domestic shipping costs. Aren’t they SO CUTE? I especially like the jelly case with peaches raining down on the bear.

…tried a griptok/popsocket/phone grip for the first time, and like Jongin, I feel like a whole new world has opened up for me. I ordered this cuuute fuzzy light brown bear/dog griptok from SHEIN (I threw it in with my other orders of masks/goggles/face shields) and stuck it to a cheap rainbow leopard/cheetah phone case (also from SHEIN), and IT’S SO USEFUL.

phone cases - kms kim minseok exo yellow - shein rainbow leopard cheetah - fuzzy bear dog griptok popsocket phone grip

Left: previous EXO Kim Minseok phone case by happy9delights, purchased via group order.

Right: current rainbow leopard jelly phone case and fuzzy bear/dog griptok, both from SHEIN.

shein phone case - rainbow leopard cheetah - fuzzy bear dog griptok popsocket phone grip

(I also bought the white version of this griptok because it looks like Sehun’s dog, Vivi.)

I’m sure if I were still trying to shove my phone into my pocket every day, I’d have more complaints about how bulky it is, but for now, while staying at home, it’s been really great for a) not dropping my phone on my face in bed, and b) propping up my phone so I can read more easily while eating.

I’m also glad I got a cheap phone case specifically for this, because I can just switch it out for a slimmer case when I’m going out instead of repeatedly removing and re-sticking the griptok. 👍🏻

…tried to play Myst for about 20 minutes and then gave up (lol). I think I like puzzle games, but I guess I dislike certain types of puzzles… I also tried to stream my game for my cousins to watch/assist, like we used to do as kids when we hovered around one computer to play one game, but 1) the game was frustrating, 2) the stream was dizzying for them to watch any time I clicked too fast, and 3) we had lag and mic issues with Steam, Zoom, and Google Hangouts. (It doesn’t help that we only have one Windows computer at this apartment, and it’s my partner’s desktop, which doesn’t have a mic.)

…started playing Sam & Max Hit the Road with my cousins. (This was after we attempted Myst.) It’s pretty entertaining so far, but I’m not sure we’re going to continue with it unless we can’t find other games to play together. It’s just not the same playing with voice chat and screensharing vs. all crammed in front of one monitor leaning over each other to see the screen while someone hogs the mouse.

…played Project Winter with my cousins. It’s fairly entertaining, but the group survival aspect is so difficult that I don’t know how you’re even supposed to deal with the traitor/betrayal aspect. I’m not sure how fun it’ll be over time, so I’m glad I got it on sale for $6.99 instead of paying the full $19.99 price.

…updated my old work laptop to Catalina and then set up Windows 10 on it using Boot Camp, so that I can run Windows-only games on my laptop instead of borrowing my partner’s desktop every time my cousins want to play something. So far, I’ve only tried playing Project Winter, and the game kept freezing (without immediately crashing) even after I’d turned the graphics to the lowest possible quality settings, so I think I might be missing some graphics drivers or something? I’m not sure, but I’m going to try to figure it out soon.

…watched bits of the Together At Home concert, namely Hozier’s performance of “Take Me to Church” (honest 2 god hozier sounds like a 600 year old redwood tree became sentient and started singing. also, listening to him made me feel like a small sapling swaying gently in the dark beneath a sky full of ancient stars) and SuperM’s performance of “With You” (Taemin cooked water and salt, Taeyong decorated a baseball bat with which I presume he will beat COVID-19’s ass, Mark did an adult coloring book, Ten made digital art, Kai assembled a $90 Mickey Mouse Lego set, Lucas gently grunted while singing and working out at the same time, and Baekhyun just sat there looking SO HIGH SCHOOL BOYFRIEND IN A BIG HOODIE).

…listened to EXO’s live album for EXplOration, their most recent tour. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: SM boy groups’ live albums are such a flex. SHINee, EXO, and NCT can sing. (I’m not familiar enough with Super Junior or TVXQ to include them, but I know their vocalists are excellent, too.)

While it’s kind of sad that their most recent tour only had six members (since Lay’s been off doing stuff in China, and Xiumin and D.O. are in the military right now), it was pretty cool to hear so much more vocal work from Kai, who has a really sweet, stable singing voice. He doesn’t have the range of, like, Baekhyun or Chen, but he took over some of D.O.’s lines for this tour, and he sounded SO good.

I’m particularly in love with 1) Chen’s solo performance of “Lights Out” which is super emotional, 2) the whistling intro to “24/7”, 3) the acoustic intro to “Call Me Baby” (and Kai taking D.O.’s iconic “oh I don’t care” line!!), and 4) Chanyeol growling. (#chorny) (Also EXO-SC’s “What A Life” just SOUNDS like summer. I miss being outside.)

…listened to GOT7’s latest EP, DYE. I like all of the songs, but my favorite is definitely “POISON”.

…listened to NCT Dream’s latest mini-album, Reload. It’s bop after bop, but I particularly like “Quiet Down” and “Love Again”.

…listened to the Dynamicduo x Chen collab song, “You”, on repeat:

his VOICE… the AGONIZED LONGING… the EMOTIONS!!

…watched SuperM’s Beyond Live concert, which cost me just under $27, and which kept me up until almost 2AM. It was SO worth it. Like, five minutes in, just being able to see Taemin vibrating LIVE, I already decided it was worth it.

The camerawork was SUPERB, and they’d obviously designed the choreo for a home audience. There were parts where the members interacted directly with the camera, which was right up in their faces, and where they did overhead shots with special effects projected onto the floor, and where they did wide stage shots so you could see the AR effects, like 3D sunglasses emojis bouncing in the air for Lucas’ “Bass Go Boom” solo, or TIGERS RUNNING ACROSS THE STAGE AND INTO THE AUDIENCE for their new, yet-to-be-released song, “Tiger Inside”, which by the way, is a WHOLE BOP.

The audience interaction portions had some technical hiccups (and a couple of the fans were clearly starstruck), but the awkwardness made it feel more… real? More accessible? It was like that awkwardness you get with holding meetings over Zoom, but in celebrity form. It was really endearing. Also, I want my burial shroud to be woven out of this clip of Mark saying “Is your Wi-Fi okay?”

(Also, massive shoutout to the fan named Allison, who asked Taemin a question in English, then followed up IN KOREAN. The members seemed really surprised and happy to hear from international fans learning Korean. 🤧)

I have a long and very messy thread of my reactions here, but highlights included Ten’s solo stages (the floor effects and scrim projections were used SO well), the surprise appearance by Red Velvet (and Baekhyun thinking Irene’s voice was his mom’s), the whole “Tiger Inside” stage, Baekhyun extending his “Jopping” high note longer than the backing track, “Baby Don’t Stop” live (I didn’t get to see this up close at the SuperM concert I went to in early February, so this was really a treat, although watching it did kind of make me feel like I might burst into flame), Baekhyun’s hand-holding for the camera during “Betcha” (he is insufferable), Taeyong’s solo song “GTA” which is always sooo good, and Mark’s “Talk About,” which was much more compelling to me in this format than it was live (I think it’s because his solo stage is relatively sparse, and while his stage presence is good, the camerawork really enhanced the overall effect).

The whole virtual concert experience was just really entertaining and exciting and FUN, in a way that made me forget everything else for almost three whole hours.

I’ve already purchased my ticket for WayV’s concert this weekend, and I’m planning to get an NCT 127 ticket when it becomes available too! It’s nice to have something to look forward to.

…finished reading “Just Stay Here Tonight” by monroeslittle and GOD IT WAS SO GOOD. You sort of always know what’s coming when it comes to Marauders fic, and yet! every time! my heart ACHES.

…read Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong. I have a lot to say about this book, so I’m going to interrupt myself to show you covers of the things I’ve read lately:

minor feelings - cathy park hong - fence - cs pacat - the importance of being earnest - oscar wilde - the princess trap - talia hibbert

spicy

I don’t remember how I came across Minor Feelings, but I really wanted to like it more. It started out as a semi-cathartic look at the ugly feelings that Asian Americans have about race – like, the ugly nuanced truths of being part of a constructed collective of very divergent cultures and histories, one that can effectively be divided into yellowness and brownness, one that’s privileged~ in the sense that being yellow or brown is less of an immediate threat to your physical safety than being Black (or Latinx), one that groups together disparate cultures and peoples who have, in some cases, historically committed atrocities against each other (I’m specifically thinking of Japan as I write this)… It’s all very messy, and it’s tiring and painful to tease apart generalizations, and I appreciate that the author tries to do that, to some extent.

That being said, I really disliked her chapter about her college years. I understand that it was important for her to write about because it was the first time she was treated as an artist, not just an Asian American artist, but I found and will always find it distasteful and cruel to cannibalize someone else’s pain for your writing/art/narrative. Like, toxic friendships aren’t great, but neither is balking when your friend asks you not to write about her private life. It doesn’t matter if you think she should allow you to tell her story For Art™, or if privacy around pain is sooo Asian American and she’s fulfilling a stereotype. Like, it’s really not?? Pain is private in many cultures???

I also strongly disliked how she wrote about Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s rape and murder. I’m aware that it may seem like my strong dislike is because I’m Asian American, and Asian Americans choose to sweep unpleasant feelings under the rug, etc., etc., as the author points out, but I actually just found it crass and sensationalist, and frankly the world sucks enough as is and does not need graphic, detailed rape and murder stories told in a manner that you know the victim would not have condoned. It wasn’t written to give Cha a voice (or at least it didn’t read like it was); it was written to prove a point and to express the author’s own feelings about herself, and I just think that’s an unnecessary and gross thing to do.

Aside from those particular sections, I also found the book got progressively more navel gaze-y as it went on, in that specific, self-absorbed artist way that I loathe… Kind of like watching a Woody Allen movie? I keep seeing people saying this book felt revelatory, provocative, explosive, etc… and I can’t tell if I’ve just completely missed the point, or if the people saying those things have genuinely just never examined their own Asian-ness in the context of America and minorities in America… which may very well be the case. I took exactly one community college intro course in Asian American Studies, which apparently was enough to cover almost all of the historical content woven into this book, as well as almost all of the uncomfortably messy questions about race, identity, the model minority myth, etc. that come up in this book. I guess I’m just surprised (and disappointed) at how many readers have apparently never given their own identities such a close look…

As a second-gen Chinese American who grew up in the Bay Area, I know I say this from a place of relative privilege. And I do worry about being hypercritical of this book because what if I’m just projecting my own self-hatred(?) onto another Asian American(??)? Like, I really truly hate Amy Tan’s books, so maybe this is a me problem.

Anyway, you might be interested in checking this book out from the library to read the first couple chapters, but beyond that, I don’t particularly recommend it.

…read the first two volumes of Fence, the comic by C. S. Pacat, author of the Captive Prince series. (Each volume is a compilation of 4 issues.) Oh my GODDD I cannot wait to read the rest on Hoopla. I don’t think the premise is, like, groundbreaking or anything (fencing + rivals + “and they were roommates”), but C. S. Pacat’s mastery of deeply personal stakes and high drama (and everyone casually being non-hetero) is magnificent. (Also! I only just found out Sarah Rees Brennan (aka probably my favorite fic writer of all time, who’s now a professional writer) is working on the novelization of the series and I am so excited!)

…read The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. It’s witty and very entertaining and reminds me so much of my playwriting days in high school.

…started reading The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert, from the Dirty British Romance series. I’m pretty sure I only downloaded this because it was either on sale or free, because I sure as heck do not normally read hetero romance novels.* But it’s got a half-naked man on the cover and I’m gonna give it a try! [EDIT: SOUND THE ALARMS!!! WE’VE GOT A BI LOVE INTEREST!!! I’M ALL IN, BABY!!!]

*I’ve thought about this quite a lot, because for a long time I wondered why I, a girl who liked boys, preferred reading about two men together, instead of a man and a woman together, which was presumably the setup onto which I could most easily project myself for my own sexual satisfaction. At first I reasoned that I liked men, so why wouldn’t I like more than one man? And then I wondered if I was fetishizing gay men. And then I reasoned that at least in terms of fanfiction, women characters were usually so poorly developed in canon that all the high quality fic would naturally end up being about men, and I just preferred better writing.

But the more I read, the more I realized that the biggest problem I have with reading hetero romance is that I get grossed out SO easily by the male gaze in writing. It’s virtually impossible to write about women without turning the male gaze on them (even in F/F slash! or at least the F/F slash that I’ve tried), and so when I read hetero romances, if I project myself onto the woman character, I feel as if the male gaze is being turned on me – which is something I already experience in real life, constantly, in a dehumanizing way that often makes me feel unsafe. And the result is that… it feels like the only way to read sex scenes that don’t squick me the fuck out is to read… about two men. (Or maybe M/F where the man isn’t straight, or F/F in an alternate universe where the male gaze somehow doesn’t exist. Or maybe NB characters!)

And sure, it helps that I now know I don’t only like men, but it still doesn’t change my frequent desire to just… not have to experience being a woman at all, when I’m trying to read for pleasure.

…started wearing my hair down in that 90s-little-girl way with double sets of hair clips, a la every Instagram influencer or Dua Lipa in her “Break My Heart” music video.

anothertoast - samglorious - shein colorful 90s barrettes hair clips

(These blue & aqua hair clips are from a set on SHEIN, as are the oversized matte hair clips I’m wearing in the pic at the beginning of this post.)

(This was taken a day or two after letting my hair dry in two Dutch braids. If I let my hair dry on its own, it ends up so straight and slippery I can’t do anything with it for a few days until it starts getting greasy.)

anothertoast - samglorious - shein colorful 90s hair clips barrettes - aerie longline bralette crop cami

Once again, our bathroom is kind of gross, and so am I! (My bralette is from Aerie and my sweatpants were probably stolen from my brother, like, a decade ago.)

I haven’t posted a picture of this much of my boobs or my keloid scar in a long time (certainly not on this iteration of my blog) and it appears that my left nip went rogue, but I’m not getting any hotter, so here they (the titties) are. thx @ genetics!

I started this post a few days ago when I was 1) stuck on my writing, 2) hungry, and 3) feeling miserable enough about quarantine that I started window shopping for swimsuits for an imaginary future vacation just to let my brain have little a hope, as a treat, but now that the state seems to have a reasonable plan (one that’s results-based, not time-based) for eventually lifting restrictions, I’m feeling considerably less miserable, even if it’s going to take months more to get through this.

Some other things I am happy about:

  • I’ve finally eaten all of my sad soup, so I don’t have to force it down at every meal in an attempt to get through it as fast as possible.
  • I’ve gotten unstuck on my writing! I ended up writing pieces around the portion where I was stuck, until I’d written enough bits that I could string them together into something coherent. Or at least I hope it’s coherent.
  • My partner ordered a wired mouse for me so I can use it for gaming on my laptop with my cousins. (I have a Magic Mouse that I was allowed to take home from my last job, but it doesn’t work well for gaming. My partner asked which mouse I wanted from Best Buy, and I chose one of the under-$30 models since I’m not a hardcore gamer, but he said I should get a slightly nicer one for quality reasons, so I chose one that lights up RAINBOW. 🌈🤩)
  • The WayV Beyond Live concert is this weekend! Time to practice my rudimentary Mandarin skills!
  • I have a (presumably) smutty book (The Princess Trap) and 4 issues of Fence to read!!

To anyone reading this, I hope you’ve got some small things to cherish today, too. Stay safe, friends. 💚

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