Mug Monday: January 30, 2017

Acquisition: PBS Shop
Contents: Republic of Tea Downton Estate Blend, black tea

I have yet to actually watch Downton Abbey, but of course I have the tea; World Market was closing, the price was dramatically reduced, and I had to buy it. And from what does one drink their sophisticated TV show-branded tea? Something silly, of course.


Emergency Room

It was Saturday morning, January 14. I don’t remember the exact time, but it was sometime in the early morning hours; I can’t remember if it was 3:30, 3:45, or four o’clock. I was getting into bed, laying on my back, getting comfortable, and then I felt it. My chest was hurting. It was a dull ache that grew stronger and faded over and over again. My left arm felt tingly. My face felt tingly. I felt sick to my stomach. I climbed out of bed, went downstairs to my desk, and searched for heart attack symptoms online. I felt completely silly doing so, but sobered up when my symptoms aligned to the ones I was reading about. However, I did feel better when I was sitting at my desk, so I thought maybe whatever it was had passed, and I went back to bed. When I was horizontal again, the pain came back. I sat up. Boyfriend, who was previously asleep, asked if I was okay.

I didn’t know.

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My First K-Beauty Haul

I said I was going to get a better skincare routine this year, and I meant it. As I run out of things, I am going to be replacing them with products from Asia. Recently, I found myself running out of facial cleanser and had a gift card burning a hole in my wallet, so I started browsing Korean skincare shops online to see what I could find. My goal was to buy what I needed and then spend whatever I had left on samples. I had $50 and I was going to give it all to Roseroseshop. Explore Korean skincare with me!

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2017 Goals

Yeah, so remember when this was a blog? I almost didn’t. I kind of forgot I even had it until I got the notice to renew the domain. One of my new year’s goals is to actually use this site for something, so here we are.

Actually, I want to outline some goals and things I have for 2017. Every year begins the same way for me: I imagine all the stuff I’m going to do, I imagine that I’m going to figure out my life and what I was put in this universe to do, I’m going to fall in love harder than ever, and everything is going to be awesome. Then, the months escape from me, and I realize I did nothing all year but play video games and eat. I don’t want that to happen to me this year. I want to have something to show for 2017, something to show that I actually did participate in 2017 in a meaningful way. That’s why I’m writing this. I want to hold myself accountable.

I will list some goals below, but here are the main points of them.

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Entrepreneurship and The Year of Awesome

At the end of 2013, there was an epiphany. 2013 had been an awesome year for me, and I didn’t want to lose my momentum in the new year. I’d already had high hopes for 2014, but apparently I wasn’t the only one. As my friends and I convened at the bar, we started talking about our goals and the urgency we all felt about achieving them before we turn 30. We talked about our projects, our dreams, and what it might feel like not being a loser. We drunkenly made a pact to make it happen; The Year of Awesome was here, and we weren’t going to waste it.

For my Year of Awesome, I have two big goals. One, I’m going to write my ass off. I’m going to spend as much time as I can start revising and editing things I’ve written, writing new things, and stop putting it off. Two, I’m going to start a nail polish company.

The writing got off to a bad start, somewhat. After talking with my boyfriend about getting things done, I was motivated to work on a novel I hadn’t so much as looked at in over a year. I made a cup of tea, I sat down at my desk, and I got ready to work. Then I couldn’t find the file. I’d written it in iWork Pages on a Mac; I traded that Mac for a gaming PC after hastily making backup files. I couldn’t find those backup files. So, after I spent that whole night looking for them (they’d gotten shuffled around on a network drive, I did eventually find them), I went back the night after, with another cup of tea and the same excited inspiration, and found the file was still in the Pages format, which can’t be opened by Microsoft Office. Okay, no problem, my boyfriend has a Mac upstairs, I could just go into his office, export the file to a Word document, and then I could get to work. When I opened it in Pages, it told me the file was empty. I checked the file in both Windows Explorer and OSX Finder. They both said the file was zero kilobytes in size. All the work I’d done on that novel in the past year was gone. Not awesome.

Naturally, I’m really frustrated. I should have checked the file after I moved it. I shouldn’t have waited a freaking year between edits. I shouldn’t have written a novel in Pages. Basically, I asked for this. However, not all is lost. I still have the previous draft and all the edit notes I took. I can redo all this work. It’s daunting, but putting it off is not awesome.

As far as my nail polish company goes, I bought all the supplies for my first round of research and development. I spent almost forty dollars on glitter alone. I’ve been smiling all day because I’m so excited. I can’t wait for all this stuff to come in so I can lock myself in my lacquer room, get high on the fumes, and let them carry me to my nail polish creation destination. Actually, that sounds like a bad idea and I don’t plan to do that. I plan to keep the windows open, but not so much that glitter gets blown everywhere. I imagine I’ll spend a few hours each night shaking bottles and scooping glitter. I imagine I’ll make a lot of mistakes because I’m totally winging it.

That’s the other thing that puts me off. I don’t want to make mistakes because I feel like I’m wasting product, which means I’m wasting money. It’s scary having someone hand me money – capital – and saying “Okay, now double it.” I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it, at least not quickly. I also worry that I’ll need more and my investors will say “Didn’t we just give you some?” and I’ll have nothing to show for it. Then I’ll be out of business. Not awesome.

I think it’s important to do things that scare me; success depends on taking risks, making mistakes, getting messy, etc. This is a conversation I’ve had with a friend who’s a musician; if we let the fear of failure and criticism and rejection get to us, we’ll never get anywhere. I’m going to add that to my 2014 manta. Fear nothing. Do the work. Be awesome.

2013 Post-Mortem

Note: This was originally published on on December 31, 2013.

My resolutions for this year were pretty easy. In 2013, I just needed to make it through the year unscathed. I resolved not to accidentally kill myself or my pets. I resolved not to accidentally burn my house down. I resolved to write in a journal every night, to keep a record of my crazy year living alone, to prove to myself and others that it really did happen. I resolved that I would be more careful with my money. I resolved to floss my teeth every day. Here’s an update.

Lived Alone. Nobody died.
Living alone was scary as hell at first. I used to freak out when I had to sleep alone in my apartment or house; I’d always stay up until five in the morning or later, when I was absolutely certain I wasn’t going to be murdered in my sleep. Sleeping alone was something I got used to and later learned to enjoy. I was never pushed out of the bed or had my covers stolen. Winter nights were uncomfortable; I skipped the heat most nights to keep costs down, and slept with a mountain of extra blankets instead. I could barely move, but I kept warm. In the summer, I slept with the windows open, and only had one bug scare.

I stopped cooking as often when I lived alone, which had many consequences. In the beginning, when I was the poorest, I would eat two packets of ramen a day. I was afraid to eat any more than that because then I wouldn’t have a meal for the next day. I had to walk three or four blocks to the store to spend my last two dollars on ramen. I lost forty pounds. Things got easier as my boyfriend came to visit and left food and credit card privileges. For a while there, though, I felt really hopeless about the whole thing. Those nights when I was cold, lonely, hungry: those were the nights I worried whether I’d make it through the year.

Kept a journal until November.
I wrote diligently through most of the year. I would write a page or two in a journal right before I went to bed, just about whatever I was thinking about or whatever might have happened to me that day. I filled four volumes of rambling and whining and thinking, and I actually started a fifth around the time my boyfriend moved back in. Since my routine changed, I couldn’t write before bed anymore, and so the habit of writing every night ceased.

Financially Irresponsible
I started out being careful with my money. I knew that I had a tight budget and I could only buy the things I needed. For the first few months, I could do it. I bought what was necessary and very little else. I’d treat myself to a cheap bottle of nail polish, as a reward for getting my ass to the store in the first place, but apart from that, I never splurged. This was something that changed as my boyfriend came home from Atlanta more and more frequently. Since he was buying food and things for me here, more of my own money got squandered on crap. This was exacerbated by the video game design contest I won and got $5,000 for. I blew through a good chunk of it in a couple of weeks, and with nothing much to show for it. I bought a lot of games on Steam, I bought a lot of nail polish, and I bought a pair of Fendi sunglasses. I actually had my boyfriend deposit the rest in his account so that I wouldn’t spend it all. This is how I would spend my money for the rest of the year.

Flossed. For a while.
I also kept this up for many months, until I ran out of floss, couldn’t buy any because I spent too much money on crap, and I fell out of the habit.

Let’s talk 2014 resolutions now.

Read and write more for fun.
I got so busy with schoolwork this year that the most important things to me ended up on the back burner. I had a goal to read 50 books this year; I only read 26, and nearly all of them were for class assignments. I also wrote a lot of papers for school, but worked very little on fiction. I revised my novel in March and wrote something for National Novel Writing Month, but overall, I did absolutely nothing to move my writing career forward. In 2014 I have to change that.

Eat better.
Seeing as I just got a KitchenAid stand mixer for Christmas and I’ve been making pizza dough from scratch five nights out of the week, I want to make an effort to cook and eat more healthful foods. I want to eat less meat, and I want to eat less in general. I want to bake more often, but I want to make a batch of brownies or a cake last an entire week, or longer. I should probably booze less, but I don’t want to unless I have to.

Use this blog as intended.
Believe it or not, I hadn’t meant for to be a nail blog exclusively. I meant to write much more about myself, and even post some of my fiction for plagiarism and merciless critcism. Posting a manicure or two each week was mainly an incentive to keep using it, and somehow, that’s all the blog became. Maybe this is an amendment to the first resolution to write more about things I care about, to do more often the things I care about the most.


Usually, when I’m looking back on a year passed, I find that I have very little to show for it, only that I’m another year older and somewhat unfulfilled. Overall, 2013 was an amazing year for me. I learned so many new things, both book-wise and street-wise. I learned about budgeting and molecular biology, about independence and international law, about lawn maintenance and poetry. I met tons of interesting people and made quite a few dear friends. I visited cities I love, I accidentally became a video game developer, and I learned a bit about myself and what it means to be an adult. I now expect 2014 to be a whirlwind of excitement and adventure. I’m not even going to allow myself the possibility that it might not be.


Note: This was originally published on on September 19, 2013.

I keep a pen-and-paper journal next to my bed. Journaling every single night was one of my New Year’s resolutions, and surprisingly, it’s one I’ve kept since the beginning of January. It’s probably the reason I don’t write more about myself here, because I get it all out every night. That, and I rarely have anything worth writing about, other than my nails. Even my journal entries aren’t much more than “I had to buy cat food today” or “I sure do hate cleaning the house”.

For whatever reason, I went upstairs and started reading the first journal of the year. It’s this adorable fabric-covered booklet with upcycled keyboard keys covering the front. My boyfriend gave it to me nearly two years ago, when I was stuck in the hospital after an unexpectedly complicated gallbladder surgery. I kept it around and didn’t start writing in it until January, because I was afraid of wasting it. I didn’t want to mar the pages with cooked lines, or having to tear them out and start over. I didn’t want it to be thrown away or cast aside out of neglect or disregard. It’s a unique little book, and I wanted to treat it with the respect it deserved. I opened to the first page, the first page of the year, and started reading. By January 1, I had already been living alone (read: without the boyfriend I lived with for seven years) since November, and I was not at all used to it. I was still struggling to find my place in the world and where I belonged. I was buying cheap wine and cat food with change. I did not have an ideal life. I want to say things have changed since then, but not a whole lot. Now I buy cheap wine and cat food in bulk online.

I notice that one thing has not changed at all. Let me show you.

January 8: “I’ve lost sight of what’s important. I don’t work hard enough at writing anymore.”
January 14: “I want to start writing again.”
January 22: “I started reading the book I wrote today!”
January 23: “I really fucking hate winter. Also, I finished reading the book I wrote and I hate it.”
January 25: “I want to write.”
January 30: “I’m too busy to write.”
February 8: “I miss writing.”

It goes on like this. Every other entry is about writing, but not actually that I did any writing, just about how much I miss it and how I feel like I’m terrible at it sometimes, how I never have time for it anymore. I’ve been saying the same crap since the beginning of the year! I haven’t written anything in months because I don’t have time. I haven’t written anything because I don’t think I can write anything good right now. I haven’t written anything because I’ve been preoccupied with life, or what I imagine is life, but is really just a vacation from what I want to be doing the most.

I’m totally right. I really have lost sight of what’s important.

I’ve been thinking about when I was writing full-time. Those were some awesome times. I started writing in the morning, right after I’d taken a shower and made tea. I stopped writing when I went to bed. I wrote when I didn’t especially want to write, or when I didn’t think what I was writing was any good. I wrote when I was cracked out on painkillers after my gallbladder surgery. I wrote until I got a repetitive motion injury from writing and had to take a week off. When I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about writing.

That’s not the case anymore. I spend all my time now listening to lectures, working on homework assignments, or reading books for something other than leisure. If I have a spare hour, I end spending it on housework or playing video games with friends. Writing just completely fell off my priority list. I hate it and I want to change it. I can never find the time.

Business Trip

Note: This was originally published on on June 25, 2013.

I’ll be spending the next few days in Boston, where I’m attending the Games for Health Conference. I entered a game development contest, and had my game place among four other finalists. At this conference, I’ll be showing my game in a panel with the other finalists, and hopefully learning how to improve my game. It’s a three day trip. I leave very early Wednesday morning and get back home again very late Friday night. I’ve packed 25 pounds of luggage.

When it comes to packing for a trip, especially one as important as this, I always have two forces inside me battling each other. Actually, this is true for pretty much everything I do. There’s The Survivalist, the pragmatic, rational minimalist who knows what is necessary and what is frivolous, what must come with me and what must stay behind. Then, there’s The Boy Scout. The Boy Scout is nothing if not prepared for any situation, and sees the frivolous, extraneous items as a contingency plan. Did the heel on your shoes break? Good thing you packed two other pairs!

The Survivalist knows I only need three outfits, one for each day of the conference. The Survivalist knows I only need one pair of shoes, minimal accessories, a toothbrush, and underwear. The Boy Scout continually asks “What if?” What if I end up at a nice restaurant? I couldn’t possibly wear the suit pants and jacket I wore at the conference all day, so I pack a dress. What if something happens to a piece of clothing and I can’t wear it? What if I need to walk several blocks, and dress shoes are impractical? I might not need any of this stuff, but I might. The Boy Scout usually wins out. I probably won’t need all the stuff I packed, but it’s better to have it and not need it than end up with too few clothes or toiletries.

I love travelling. I don’t get to travel nearly as often as I would like. I spent a good part of the day today exploring Boston on Foursquare, checking to see if there are any good restaurants and bars and sights to see within walking distance of my hotel. I’m pretty sad I won’t have time to see more of the city, but I’ll still have a chance to do and see and eat and drink things I’d never get to experience otherwise.  This is what I’m looking forward to the most. I’m excited about learning more about the world of healthcare gaming, but I’m more excited about being a tacky tourist.

Love, Romance, and Other Shortcomings

Note: This was originally published on on June 4, 2013.

I won’t even deny it. I read romance novels.

It started with a benign curiosity. I’d see them in supermarkets, libraries, yard sales, grandparents’ houses. I knew all about these books; I’d heard about the overtly manly men, the diminutive but well-endowed women, the over-the-top sexual descriptions and unintentionally hilarious euphemisms. Despite that, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to them. I was attracted to the titles written in soft, sprawling script, the long windblown locks of the heroine, the unbuttoned shirts of the hero (and sometimes also his long windblown locks as well). To me, these books were beautiful, and when I finally had the chance, when I was a teenager in high school, I got one from the library. I got another. I came home with armfuls of them. I bought them online and filled my shelves with them. I hid them from my parents, but not so carefully. When I was found out, my mother only said that she wished I’d start reading “intellectual books” again.

I was enthralled by the first one I ever read. It was full of excitement, adventure, passion, and I shed a few tears at the end. The next one I read wasn’t as satisfying, but I still enjoyed it. Then, the more I read, the more I found wrong with them. I got frustrated by the male characters and their overbearing maleness, the females and their helplessness against it, and the general idea that love somehow solves everything in a matter of days, including abandonment issues, daddy issues, conflicting personalities, stalker tendencies, the list goes on. I got so annoyed by it that I stopped reading them.

I started reading them again a couple of years ago. Even though these books irritated me, I still kept them, even though there were certainly times I’d considered donating them to Goodwill or selling them all on eBay. When I began to take writing a bit more seriously, I gave them another go. After all, the women writing these books were actually getting published and selling, so they must be doing something right, right? Certainly there’s something to be learned here, even if the plots are flimsy, the characters are weak and stereotypical, and the sex scenes are the only decent parts of the book. I decided to mix a few in with my classic literature, poignant memoirs, and teen fiction.

I have learned many things from reading romance novels. The most important thing, probably, is that I’ve learned how not to write, or better yet, I’ve learned more about the kinds of stories I want to write. For instance, I really dislike it when authors spell out the rest of the characters’ lives. I know some people like that kind of closure, but I kind of like deciding for myself what happens to them. When I’m reading an ending about how two people who detested each other upon meeting fall in love after having fantastic earth-shattering sex, I don’t really want to know that right after they got married and bought a house and got a dog, they got pregnant with twins, or how the twins grew up and one went to Harvard and the other only got into the crappy state college, but her parents love her anyway, and they lived happily ever the end. I don’t really care. Not only do I feel like I’ve been fed a ton of useless information, I feel like this ending leaves very little room for realistic events. I guess that in a romantic fantasyland, bad things never happen, unless it’s to help facilitate true love. In real life, bad things happen to good people. Things like illness and poverty constantly affect people who don’t deserve it. Real people cheat on their spouses, even when they love them. Real people have vices and addictions and weaknesses. Real people have real problems that can’t be solved by love alone. I think that’s what my problem is with these books, they’re for people who want to forget that reality is a cruel, unforgiving thing.

Despite that, I have something to confess: these books make me feel inadequate as a woman. If these are books written for women, why don’t I enjoy them? Why do I struggle to finish them? Why do I roll my eyes so much while I’m reading? Do I not want to find true love? Do I not want to be wanted by a man? Do I not want to be cherished, desired, placed upon a pedestal?

Actually, romance novels aren’t the only thing that make me feel inadequate. I’m 27, and all my friends are married, engaged to be married, or desperately searching for a husband. They’re pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or ogling every baby that goes by. I don’t want any of those things. I don’t want to be a wife or a mother; I don’t want much more than I already have. I want someone I can watch Cops with while we drink beer. I want someone with the same lust for knowledge and culture that I have. I want someone I can stay up all night with, just talking about nothing in particular. It seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Then why do I feel like I’ve failed at being a woman?

I am not an adult.

Note: This was originally published on on March 24, 2013.

I am not an adult.

I fear I may never be.

My boyfriend moved out in November to take a year-long contract job in Atlanta. Since then, I have lived alone. It has been an illuminating experience, one I enjoyed at first: having the bed to myself, playing air drums without having anyone walk in on me, washing fewer dishes. I suddenly had more freedom than I’d ever had before. As time went by, though, I started missing small things about having another person around. The bed is always cold. Cooking for one person is depressing. The cats don’t laugh at my jokes. One of the cats actually went crazy and spent three months avoiding me in the backyard.

Since November, I’ve walked everywhere I go. It’s a fifteen minute walk to Dollar General from my house. There’s a convenience store five minutes away, but I’m certain half of the stuff in there has been there since they opened it. There’s a pack of diapers in there that looks like it’s been on that shelf since I wore diapers. Right, so fifteen minute walk to Dollar General. Since my budget is extremely tight now, I try not to spend more than ten dollars, and if the handbasket gets full, I have to stop, because I’ve probably got more than I can carry home. Typically, I’ve got a bag of cat food, cheap toilet paper, and ramen noodles. If I’m able, I’ll splurge on Milk Duds and a bottle or two of nail polish as a reward for walking my ass to the store. As a result of all this walking and a diet that’s not much more than caffeine and noodles, I’ve lost forty pounds. My favorite yoga pants don’t fit anymore.

I’ve done my best to keep myself busy, but it’s been a dull existence so far. I wake up, have breakfast and tea, put on some music and lay around the living room until two o’clock or so, when I start chores or do schoolwork. If I have time, I read or work on my embroidery project. I have lunch at some point, dinner at some point, then I spend the rest of the night writing. I thought that if I stay busy for the next year, I’ll stay sane.

Over the past few months, I’ve begun to feel like things are slipping out of my control. The sink in the laundry room got clogged somehow; I found this out when it overflowed the last time I tried to do laundry. I can’t unclog it. I’ve never had to unclog a sink in my life. I don’t even know how the plunger works. Because of this, laundry is piling up around my room and I have no way to take care of it. The grass is starting to get tall and I can’t mow the lawn because the shed is locked and I don’t have the key. I have all of these stupid idiot problems that could easily be solved by someone other than me.

Last night, there was this loud droning sound coming from the backyard. When I went to check it out, I notice there are frogs in and around the pool. It was like a scene from The Bible, whatever scene it is where somebody lets their pool go to hell and God sends a plague of frogs to embarrass them and annoy their neighbors. That happened, right? So there I am, it’s midnight, it’s still warm out, the moon is full and casts a pale light onto the water, giving me just enough to be able to see them swimming around. I get the pool net down and start scooping them out, emptying the net over the side of the fence. After two or three nets full of frog and leaves, I realize that I’m dumping them out right under my bedroom window. I don’t know how many I pulled out, or how long I was out there, but I was out there for quite a while. Despite my efforts, though, the noise didn’t stop. It was still coming from the pool, but it was also right under my window. I’d had a headache all day, so I went to bed early, and laid still and alert for half an hour, listening to the croaking before I gave up and slept on the couch in another room, where instead I listened to the neighborhood cats yowl and hiss at each other.

How in the world do I think I’m going to make it through the rest of the year? I clearly lack the skills necessary to keep my life from falling apart, that’s why my boyfriend moved out and I pay for cat food with change. I feel like I’m riding in a car with four flat tires. I could drive on it for a while, but sooner or later, it’s going to give out, and I’m going to be completely screwed.

Note: This was originally posted on on March 24, 2013.