The Catalogue: No. 18

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Ever since I moved to NY, I’ve been trying to cook for myself more. I am actually a creature of habit and don’t mind eating the same thing every single day AKA I frequently go to Pret, make myself sandwiches (with the help of my amazing toaster oven) and fried eggs or other easy foods.

However, I am trying to expand my cooking skills so here are some of my favorite food bloggers and Instagram foodies.

I am obsessed with Nom Life. I first followed them on Instagram before they had revived their blog, and now actively look at their Instagram posts/stories and their blog. Ewa + Jeromy are a super cute couple cooking and eating their way through NYC. They have a ton of Asian recipes on their blog and their recipes make cooking so much simpler. From authentic recipes like Taiwanese Minced Pork Rice to simpler recipes like Stir Fry Egg & Shrimp to dessert recipes like Chocolate Espresso cookies, Ewa and Jeromy have created a perfect blog with all the recipes you could hope for. They have the cutest Halloween costumes and “how we met” story. They also seem to eat the best Asian food, while also being able to find the cheapest Asian food in NYC. They are always eating dumplings or other carbs (like noodles) and they seem to have the exact same food taste as me. I love watching their Instagram stories to figure out where they go to eat, learn how to make more Asian food from them, and obsess over how cute their relationship is.

I stumbled upon her cooking blog when I was looking for a simple recipe for Tomato and Egg Stir Fry - a very easy Asian dish that maybe people eat over noodles or rice. While I am not Chinese, I love to eat Chinese food and a lot of Taiwanese dishes are similar to Chinese ones. She is great about discussing more complicated dishes like Snow Skin Mooncakes with Custard Filling, but also has great recipes on stable dishes (tea eggs) and informative posts on staple ingredients (light vs. dark soy sauce, chili oil, etc.) I can’t wait to try her recipes since she makes cooking complex dishes much more simple!

LC introduced me to her on Instagram a while back and it’s easy to see why we both love following her. Mandy Lee is constantly blowing us away with her perfect photos on her Instagram and perfect recipes on her blog. She teaches home cookers how to make perfect chicken, perfect burgers and more. I am not going to lie.. I have never made a single dish from her blog because they all seem way too advanced for me. But a girl can dream that one day she can make food as gorgeous and as delicious as Lady and Pups’ food looks. (Even her "quick meals" look like they took hours to make.) I truly don’t know how to describe Lady and Pups without using the words “perfect” so you’ll have to check out her Instagram and blog for yourself. She also wrote a cookbook that I can’t wait to purchase when it comes out (October 2019?)!

This foodie family are in their words a “a culinary genealogy”. Their food blog features a family of 4 living in both China and the US and cooking everything under the sun. Bill and Judy are the parents of Sarah and Kaitlin and they all take turns posting different recipes! They also have how to’s (like how to season and care for a wok) and travel posts (like eating your way through Mexico City). I love that they don’t limit themselves to just making Asian food (though they certainly do a great job of covering all the bases from authentic Sichuan Bang Bang Chicken to 10-Minute Stir Fry Sa Cha Chicken). They have one pot recipes, Korean recipes, pasta recipes, and more! I love all their “easy recipes,” but can’t wait to one day be a good enough chef that I can make their more complicated dishes.

Eat well,

Mini Book Reviews: Week 11

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Holy shit, this book was so good. It is so refreshing to read Asian American literature that doesn't tether itself to generational sacrifice or duty. This book transcends ancestral suffering and instead allows Asian American characters to pursue self-actualization -- like what?! When did we get to this place? How can we stay here? Such a necessary, articulate book about race, art, and the awful pressure put upon creators who engage with both (voluntarily or not). That being said, this book broke me a little - as great books should - and I am still sad thinking about it. 
In 1988, Eric Cho, an aspiring writer, arrives at Macalester College. On his first day he meets a beautiful fledgling painter, Jessica Tsai, and another would-be novelist, the larger-than-life Joshua Yoon. Brilliant, bawdy, generous, and manipulative, Joshua alters the course of their lives, rallying them together when they face an adolescent act of racism. As adults in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the three friends reunite as the 3AC, the Asian American Artists Collective - together negotiating the demands of art, love, commerce, and idealism until another racially tinged controversy hits the headlines, this time with far greater consequences. Long after the 3AC has disbanded, Eric reflects on these events as he tries to make sense of Joshua's recent suicide.
With wit, humor, and compassion, The Collective explores the dream of becoming an artist, and questions whether the reality is worth the sacrifice.

Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors | Sarah Stodola
I didn't enjoy this one much, but I guess I also didn't pick it up for the correct reasons. I thought it would be quick, juicy biographies of great writers (like an adult version of my favorite children's series by Kathleen Krull) but it was, as promised, literally about their writing processes. Likely because I am a mediocre and unimportant writer who has no real creative process herself, I find this obsession with "processes" strange and unproductive. Like how some people are obsessed with the routines of powerful C-suite executives, as if also checking your e-mail while doing push-ups were realistic or key to any sort of success.
Ernest Hemingway, Zadie Smith, Joan Didion, Franz Kafka, David Foster Wallace, and more. In Process, acclaimed journalist Sarah Stodola examines the creative methods of literature’s most transformative figures. Each chapter contains a mini biography of one of the world’s most lauded authors, focused solely on his or her writing process. Unlike how-to books that preach writing techniques or rules, Process puts the true methods of writers on display in their most captivating incarnation: within the context of the lives from which they sprang. Drawn from both existing material and original research and interviews, Stodola brings to light the fascinating, unique, and illuminating techniques behind these literary behemoths. 

Past Lives, Future Bodies | Kristin Chang
I am literally obsessed with Kristin Chang and have a Q&A for with her forthcoming. But as a spoiler, her poetry is stunning, explosive, "holy shit, wow."
PAST LIVES, FUTURE BODIES is a knife-sharp and nimble examination of migration, motherhood, and the malignant legacies of racism. In this collection, family forms both a unit of survival and a framework for history, agency, and recovery. Chang undertakes a visceral exploration of the historical and unfolding paths of lineage and what it means to haunt body and country. These poems traverse not only the circularity of trauma but the promise of regeneration—what grows from violence and hatches from healing—as Chang embodies each of her ghosts and invites the specter to speak. 

The Visibles | Sara Shepard
I read this before looking it up on goodreads, and I'm so glad I did because it does not deserve its poor ratings! Sara Shepard, better-known for authoring "Pretty Little Liars," has such unexpectedly lyrical intuition. Readers expecting the straightforward plot of PLL will be disappointed because nothing terribly exciting happens for the bulk of the book. But if you've ever had to make a choice between personhood and filial duty, this is the book that will linger with you and maybe help you feel less alone. 
In a novel consumed by the uncertainties of science, the flaws of our parents, and enough loss and longing to line a highway, Sara Shepard is a penetrating chronicler of the adolescence we all carry into adulthood: how what happens to you as a kid never leaves you, how the fallibility of your parents can make you stronger, and how being right isn't as important as being wise. From the backwoods of Pennsylvania to the brownstones of Brooklyn Heights, "The Visibles" investigates the secrets of the past, and the hidden corners of our own hearts, to find out whether real happiness is a gift or a choice.

Your Starter Kit to Voting in Midterm Elections

Monday, October 15, 2018

“Not to own the means of production can lead to premature death, but not to own the means of representation is also a kind of death.” 
V I E T  T H A N H  N G U Y E N  |  T H E  S Y M P A T H I Z E R 

Apologies to Nguyen because I use this quote for literally everything, but it's so true in so many ways. From creating representation in literature/media to choosing representation in the state, if you have a need, it is worth addressing, and it worth finding the resources and people who will do that for you. 

When are the midterm elections?

Where do I go to vote?
Find your nearest polling place here
I personally really like voting by mail so I can take my sweet time and double-check my research. This isn't an option for every state, though -- so check! I know some people are also concerned about their ballots being lost in the mail. 

Follow-up: What exactly are the midterm elections?
The midterm elections are largely, but not totally, a referendum on Trump's presidency thus far. While he remains in office, we have the opportunity to vote on every seat in the House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate and 39 state and territorial governships. You can read an overview of the incumbents here
So no, the election doesn't really ask what you want -- it asks who you want to elect to help get you what you want (though some states have ballot measures that serve the former). Either way, prepare to do a bit of research! More on how to "study" below.

Am I registered to vote?
You can check your registration status with's "Am I Registered to Vote" service! The deadline to register in California is Monday, 22 October, but if you miss the deadline you can still register at an election office and vote with a provisional ballot! You can confirm your state's registration deadline here.
If you are a student attending college out-of-state, you can either register in your home state or in the jurisdiction of your school (for example, I went to college in Missouri, but I registered in California). 

We're not interested in reinventing the wheel, so we've gathered some resources below that can better explain some FAQ. 

What are the issues at stake?
TL;DR: Climate change, immigration, healthcare, racism, abortion, gun control, economic policy, the Trump/Russia collusion investigation, foreign relations, voting rights, housing, and education

How can I prepare to cast an informed vote?
Do a practice run!
Ballotpedia contains "neutral, accurate, and verifiable information on government officials and the offices they hold, political issues and public policy, elections, candidates, and the influencers of politics." You can enter your registered address to learn more about the ballots you'll be voting on, as well as the candidates running for state/regional/local office. To research judges further, you'll want to look at their voting record, endorsements, and party affiliations (since most will be listed as nonpartisan).  

Other great resources are:
I LOVE THIS ONE. Vote Save America is a snappier, really well-designed version of Ballotpedia, with comprehensive information about each candidate's established stance on important issues, from abortion/contraception to wages/job benefits. It also breaks down each proposition to discuss: who supports it, who opposes it, what you endorse by voting no, and what you endorse by voting yes. Best of all, you can save all of your voting preferences and print it out as a cheat sheet for the real ballot (which likely will not be as cute as this one). 

Look up any candidate's biography, established positions, performance ratings, past speeches, and documented funding. You can also do a keyword search to see whether they've discussed anything of particular importance to you. (I always look up "Asian American" and "Taiwan"!) 

Additional Resources
Congressional primaries are the neglected stepchildren of American elections.  And yet, these races have a profound impact on policymaking in the United States. By examining who runs, who votes, and who wins in congressional primaries, The Primaries Project offers insights into what’s happening in the Republican and Democratic parties—and where the future of American politics is headed.
Discusses questions such as: "who can make history this year?" (Answer: many people, including Stacey Abrams, who could be the first African-American woman to lead a state, and Christine Hallquist, the first transgender candidate to be nominated for governor by a major party!) 
The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), founded in 1996, is a coalition of 34 national Asian Pacific American organizations around the country. Based in Washington D.C., NCAPA serves to represent the interests of the greater Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for AA and NHPI issues. Note that the fact sheets are a little old!
Asian and Pacific Islander American Resources
Nearly one-third of Asian Americans have difficulty communicating in English. Did you know that Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act allows voters to bring someone into the voting booth to help them understand and cast a ballot? Do your parents, aunties, and church elders know this? Download multilingual fact sheets about voting rights here to share with your diasporic communities. 
Asian Americans have been part of the American story since its earliest days, and are now the U.S.'s fastest-growing racial group with the potential and power to shape our nation and the policies that affect us. Our mission is to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. 
A survey released today by Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) and AAPIData reveals many insights into the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, including their voting plans for House and Senate races in 2018, and various issue priorities such as education, health care, and the state of the economy.  In addition to election-related topics, the survey also contains key opinion data on affirmative action, labor protections, and immigration policy, including the administration’s recently announced plans to revoke the legal status of immigrants with green cards who have used government assistance.
 More soon!

Why the Away Suitcase is (Unfortunately) Overrated

Image Source: Away
Part of me feels horrible writing this post as a bunch of my favorite people in the world got me the Away Bigger Carry-On as a present last December. The other part of me feels the need to tell everyone in the world to save their money and not get this suitcase.

Here's what I like about the Away suitcase:
The CUSTOMER SERVICE is amazing. 10/10 would totally recommend that other companies follow in Away's footsteps. Every interaction I've had with their customer service left me feeling like an extremely valued customer. They also have an amazing 100 Day "No Questions Asked" Return policy!

The nice, little LAUNDRY BAG they include is pretty convenient. I enjoy being able to throw my dirty laundry into a separate bag that's already included in the suitcase.

Here are things that are "ok" about the Away suitcase:
The BATTERY PACK is nice, but in this day and age it seems like everyone who needs a battery pack usually already carries one around. It's good for emergencies, but otherwise the battery pack is way too heavy and I don't like to carry it around in my purse or in my bags when it's not in my suitcase.

The suitcase also includes a THREE DIGIT LOCK, but this feature seems pretty standard nowadays.

It also comes with a nice soft LUGGAGE TAG, but alas... it was a weak luggage tag and somehow mine broke and is now lost somewhere in an airport or in some baggage cart or in a plane.

But here are the things that make the suitcase 100% not worth it to me:
The WHEELS of this suitcase are so weak and the bane of my consulting existence. If you're going over a slight bump, you better be ready to tug the hell out of the suitcase. The wheels seem like they were made for the indoors (e.g. airports) and not for "rough" terrain like NYC sidewalks. While it's great that the wheels are 360 wheels, what's the point when I have to roughly drag the suitcase everywhere I go. The suitcase also just feels incredibly heavy to use if you have a ton of clothes in it. Is it the center of gravity offset by the handle? Is it that the handle is weak too? Is it the weak wheels that make dragging this suitcase anywhere a pain? This still remains a ~painful~ mystery to me.

I started off with a Navy Away suitcase, which I exchanged for the Black one. Why? Well, at first glance the Navy was nice, but after I took that Away on vacation it became super ugly. The color is not that flattering and the EXTERIOR/SHELL gets scratched and ruined so easily. Away claims you can "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser" the marks away or just use some soap and a damp cloth, but NOPE the marks are all still there. My Black Away suitcase looks like I've abused it a lot, when it's just been checked into airports a couple times and stuck in car trunks a couple times with other suitcases.

Overall, it's not a horrible suitcase especially at such a decent price point but I can't get over how horrible the wheels and the shell are. The Away just seems overrated and I wouldn't recommend it to someone who wants to jet set around the world, it's better for someone who is inside airports only.

Hope this helps,

Mini Book Reviews: Week 10

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Despite an unfortunate string of books I didn't particularly enjoy, I found one that set me on fire and filled me with so much creative energy I've launched not one, not two, but three projects immediately thereafter. Simply put, I'm so happy to be alive, to be a creator of things, even if they are small and unimportant. If you only have time for one, make it the best: You Must Change Your Life, by Rachel Corbett.

You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin | Rachel Corbett
I've said many, many times that I worship Rilke, but I never really wanted to read his biography for fear that he'd be of poor character and it would damage our ~spiritual~ relationship. Unfortunately, I've discovered that he was a terrible husband and an even worse father - two litmus tests for men that are very, very important to me. Somehow, I leave this book loving him even more. I'm also ready to declare a comparable allegiance to Rodin, and I really regret not having read this book prior to visiting Paris (which I did twice!), because it would have completely changed my expectations of the space. I guess I'll have to go a third time. This book is the best biography, about the most important two people, I have ever read in my life.
In 1902, Rainer Maria Rilke—then a struggling poet in Germany—went to Paris to research and write a short book about the sculptor Auguste Rodin. The two were almost polar opposites: Rilke in his twenties, delicate and unknown; Rodin in his sixties, carnal and revered. Yet they fell into an instantaneous friendship. Transporting readers to early twentieth-century Paris, Rachel Corbett’s You Must Change Your Life is a vibrant portrait of Rilke and Rodin and their circle, revealing how deeply Rodin’s ideas about art and creativity influenced Rilke’s classic Letters to a Young Poet.

You Alone Are Real To Me: Remembering Rainer Maria Rilke | Lou Andreas-Salome
To Andreas-Salome, Rilke wrote, "take me, give me a form, finish me." She was the feminine ignition behind all of his best work; it stuns me that people could know each other so intimately to write a book like this one.
Never before available in English, You Alone Are Real to Me documents the relationship between Andreas-Salomé and Rainer Maria Rilke that spanned almost 30 years. Andreas-Salomé gives an intimate account of Rilke’s poetic development from the early romantic poems to the sculpted new poems and the final breakthrough of the Elegies. From their romantic beginnings to the later twists and turns of their separate lives, Rilke appealed to Andreas-Salomé during times of crisis in his writing as well as in the intimate matters of his life. Andreas-Salomé captures both the summit and the abyss of Rilke’s creative struggle. The memoir offers a stunning portrait of Rilke, as we in the English-speaking world have never really seen him. Richly illustrated with photos, this book is an indispensable work on the author of The Duino Elegies, as well as a rich resource for the growing interest in Andreas-Salomé. Angela von der Lippe is a senior editor at W.W. Norton and holds a doctorate in German Literature and Language from Brown University.

The Seasonaires | Janna King
I don't know what compelled me to pick up and persevere through this book, but I hated it. Like the worst parts of Pretty Little Liars meets the worst part of #influencers.
For a twentysomething, there is no summer job better than being a seasonaire - No responsibilities, college is barely a thought, and you’re surrounded by glamorous, beautiful people. When life is this intoxicating and seemingly carefree, what could possibly go wrong?
Acclaimed screenwriting talent Janna King makes her fresh and thrilling debut with The Seasonaires. An idyllic Nantucket summer begins like a dream for scrappy Mia from South Boston; Presley, the gorgeous southern beauty queen; Cole, a handsome introvert; Jade, the sultry daughter of a model and music mogul; J.P., the energetic young designer; and Grant, the playful party-boy. These six are working as seasonaires - influential brand ambassadors - for the clothing line Lyndon Wyld. But like all things that look too good to be true, the darkness lurking underneath slowly rises to the surface.
Lyndon Wyld, the chic British tigress who owns the eponymous business, rules their daily life by curating their every move, which the seasonaires are obligated to post on social media for their growing throngs of followers. When corporate greed, professional rivalries and personal conflicts are mixed with sex, drugs, and the naiveté of youth, the results are explosive as the murder that will sully their catalog-perfect lives. 

Supermarket | Satoshi Azuchi, translated by Paul Warham
If you read "human drama surrounding the management of a supermarket chain" and thought "what kind of fucking drama can there be in a fucking supermarket," the answer is plenty. This is sort of a dry read (someone on goodreads called it a thriller, which is a gross exaggeration), but it has its weirdly intriguing moments. No ringing endorsement here, but a nice post-business school bit of a nostalgia. 
A modern classic of literature in Japan, Supermarket is a novel of the human drama surrounding the management of a supermarket chain at a time when the phenomenon of the supermarket, imported postwar from the US, was just taking hold in Japan.
Sincere and naive in tone, Supermarket takes us back to a simpler, kinder time, and  skillfully presents the depictions of its characters alongside a wealth of information concerning Japanese post WWII recovery and industrialization.  

How Google Works | Eric Schmidt
Read this alongside Jessica Powell's The Big Disruption for a wild time.
Both Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg came to Google as seasoned Silicon Valley business executives, but over the course of a decade they came to see the wisdom in Coach John Wooden's observation that 'it's what you learn after you know it all that counts'. As they helped grow Google from a young start-up to a global icon, they relearned everything they knew about management. How Google Works is the sum of those experiences distilled into a fun, easy-to-read primer on corporate culture, strategy, talent, decision-making, communication, innovation, and dealing with disruption.

The Fat Years | Chan Koonchung
This had all the ingredients of something I'd like: dystopian, shits on Beijing, etc. But it was badly written and basically a manifesto disguised as fiction. I'm fine with that on principle, but I just was in the mood for a juicy political dystopian and this read like a long-form, factual academic paper. Great cover, though.
Beijing, sometime in the near future: a month has gone missing from official records. No one has any memory of it, and no one can care less. Except for a small circle of friends, who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the sinister cheerfulness and amnesia that has possessed the Chinese nation. When they kidnap a high-ranking official and force him to reveal all, what they learn - not only about their leaders, but also about their own people - stuns them to the core. It is a message that will rock the world...
Terrifying methods of cunning, deception and terror are unveiled by the truth-seekers in this thriller-expose of the Communist Party's stranglehold on China today.

The Catalogue: No. 17

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Oops oops this is so very late. This week, in Asian American stuff.

When Asian Women Are Harassed for Marrying Non-Asian Men | Celeste Ng for The Cut
To this community, it’s a scarcity model: Asian women who succeed are accused of succeeding “at the expense of” Asian men. The worst scarcity, they believe, is in the dating pool: Asian women who “marry out” are perpetuating the stereotype that Asian men are undesirable. (The reverse, however, is not true — relationships between Asian men and white women are celebrated, with AZNidentity even crowdfunding a porno based on such a couple.) Asian women who have mixed children, it’s assumed, will raise them to prefer non-Asians, perpetuating the cycle.
The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action | Hua Hsu for The Cut
This article opens with Michael Wang, a graduate from my own high school who didn't get into Harvard and never quite got over it. I'm super fucking done with him, and the (primarily East) Asian American community for taking an inadequately informed stance on social/political issues only when it concerns whether they get into elite universities. I can rant about this forever. I've written a "manifesto" about it. But I digress (for now). Here's an interesting-ish article that traces a lot of shitty opinions (like ones that equate violence on the black community with Asian Americans feeling discriminated against in college admissions.) Oof, I'm angry just thinking about it.
It’s possible that immigrants are the only ones who speak about meritocracy and fairness without a trace of irony. (After all, an H1B visa literally attests to one’s merit.) Yukong Zhao, the Florida activist, kept mentioning the American Dream as though it were a contractual arrangement: “The American Dream says that each U.S. citizen should have equal opportunity to pursue prosperity and success through hard work, determination, and initiative.”
Additional takes:
Anti-Asian Bias, Not Affirmative Action, Is on Trial in the Harvard Case | Jeannie Suk Gersen for The Cut
But to understand the stakes of the case, it is important not to conflate two separate concepts: the legal issue of affirmative action and the factual issue of whether Harvard discriminated against one particular racial group. The case against Harvard will be strongest if the allegations about how Asian applicants were evaluated relative to white ones turn out to be true. The defense of Harvard will be strongest if it can demonstrate that there is no way to fulfill the goal of diversity without suppressing Asian applicants relative to white ones to some degree. But answering these key factual questions does not entail upending the consideration of race as a factor in evaluating black or Latino applicants, or other groups that would be unacceptably underrepresented in the absence of race-conscious admissions. 
Actually, Race-Conscious Admissions Are Good for Asian-Americans | Janelle Wong for The Chronicle of Higher Education
A false "Asian penalty" narrative is embodied in the Department of Justice’s investigation into Yale. At the core is an assumption that Asian-Americans need higher test scores than non-Asian-Americans to get into a highly selective college (this myth has been debunked). Higher test scores among Asian-Americans compared with other groups are best explained by systematic group advantages, such as the higher average levels of income and parental education that result from selective U.S. immigration policies in place since 1965.
To argue that variations in test scores are a result of qualities intrinsic to "Asian culture" or group values is to rely on the very kinds of bias that the groups suing Yale and Harvard say they oppose. Furthermore, Asian-Americans who do not benefit from high levels of parental education, proximity to high-performing schools, or high levels of income do not as often demonstrate stellar test scores. The consideration of race in college admissions has been shown to help these Asian-American students. In addition, considering race as one among many, many factors in admissions helps to create a more diverse campus, which has been shown to be the best learning environment for young people.
WashU Students in Group Chat: "Why Are Asians Invading Our Study Room" | Kimberly Yam for Huffpost
This one is actually about my alma mater. I have a lot of feelings about this that I am still unpacking.
Racist comments aimed at Asian-American students at Washington University in St. Louis has caused a stir among the college’s students.
Undergraduate research assistant Han Ju Seo shared a screenshot of an Oct. 3 group chat in which several freshman students complained about their Asian-American peers using a study room.
The conversation contained comments like “Why are Asians invading our study room” and “Fuck there’s one in my room too,” highlighting how the students of Asian descent are often treated as others or seen as second class. 
It was recently 10/10, aka the day that I unfollow everybody on my Instagram feed that celebrates it as "Taiwan's birthday" because I! Am! A! Gatekeeper!
Just kidding about the gatekeeper part, because I do try very, very hard to adopt a "mindset of generosity and inclusivity," something imperative to the communities I want to build. But a lot of Taiwanese and Taiwanese Americans would agree with me that how one feels about 10/10 is a sort of litmus test for how one feels about Taiwanese sovereignty -- equivalent to the "228 test." To celebrate 10/10 as Taiwan's birthday explicitly conflates the ROC government with Taiwan as an independent entity. I'm not here for it.
Put more eloquently by Professor Catherine Chan:
This Double Ten Day I am grateful to all of the writers, academics, and activists who have helped me to see just how small my imagined island was, and how much more complex and resilient is the Taiwan that fights every day for its existence, in the interstices of a global system that would just as soon wish it away. That Double Ten Day must still be ritually celebrated, to keep up appearances, is both an absurdity and an indignity. But the slow dismantling of the Republic of China and the continued, contingent life of Taiwan are proof that absurdity and indignity can also be fertile ground for remarkable awakening. 
With great love,

Happy Coming Out Day! 5+ Resources for LGBTQ Asian Americans

Thursday, October 11, 2018

1. Unspoken: Asian Americans Coming Out to Immigrant Parents
In this short from Patrick Lee (longer-form documentary forthcoming), queer & trans Asian Americans read letters to their immigrant parents and family members about their gender identity, sexuality, and queerness.

2. When I Grow Up I Want to Be A List of Possibilities (Chen Chen)
In this ferocious and tender debut, Chen Chen investigates inherited forms of love and family—the strained relationship between a mother and son, the cost of necessary goodbyes—all from Asian American, immigrant, and queer perspectives. Holding all accountable, this collection fully embraces the loss, grief, and abundant joy that come with charting one’s own path in identity, life, and love.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing—Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley—the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.

Set in Boston in the 2010s, SJ Sindu’s Marriage of a Thousand Lies deftly navigates immigrant family culture, war trauma, sexuality and authenticity through the main character, Lucky. When we meet her, she is traveling between and across binaries and grappling with multiple categories of identity in order to fit into the social environments around her. (Read a review in Hyphen Magazine here.)

5. No Other World: A Novel (Rahul Mehta)
From the author of the prize-winning collection Quarantine, an insightful, compelling debut novel set in rural America and India in the 1980s and ’90s, part coming-of-age story about a gay Indian American boy, part family saga about an immigrant family’s struggles to find a sense of belonging, identity, and hope.
Sweeping and emotionally complex, No Other World is a haunting meditation on love, belonging, and forgiveness that explores the line between our responsibilities to our families and to ourselves, the difficult choices we make, and the painful cost of claiming our true selves.

An informative guide from the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and NEA

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance is a network of Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander LGBTQ organizations.

Includes a glossary of terms and recommendations for media professionals.

Q&A Space is the first website of its kind, with in-language fact sheets for parents, community resources for youth, multi-media stories from the API LGBTQ community, and more.
Q&A is a play on the common phrase “questions and answers” and the term “queer and Asian.” While we don’t intend for this to be an exhaustive informational space where all questions are answered, we would like for this website to be a place of support and community for those seeking it.

Coming Out: Living Authentically as LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Americans
HRC Foundation's Coming Out as LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Americans resource is designed to aid LGBTQ API Americans in navigating the intersectional challenges when coming out.

With great love (always, always, always),

Effective Revisions & Notetaking

Thursday, September 27, 2018

1. Take your notes by hand.

Hard pill to swallow: if you have tabs open on Urban Outfitters, Facebook Messenger, and The Cut, you're not paying attention in class. I find that taking my notes by hand, even digitally, makes it harder to multitask and helps me actually retain the information. The classes I performed most poorly in (ahem, PSYCH100) were the ones where I mindlessly retyped the slide decks while finding the best Cyber Monday deals (and then actually shopping the Cyber Monday deals, and then the "in case you missed Cyber Monday" sales). Handwriting your notes helps you organize them in more intuitive (non-linear) ways -- think cute arrows, groups of content, flow charts, etc. I still prefer digitally handwritten notes (via the OneNote app) over traditional pen & paper for better organization and archives, though.
2. Create a template to organize your thought process. 
What works for me is a loose Cornell template that (1) organizes the vocabulary/core concepts, (2) identifies concepts in increasingly granular detail, (3) leaves room for questions, (4) allows me to synthesize the information. I also include the associated/relevant readings and lecture title at the top of the page. I like that OneNote allows me to flag each of these things. (See also: How I use OneNote for work!)

3. Always make cheat sheets, even if you can't use them in class.
I've very rarely had to reference a cheat sheet during an exam because the process of making one is such good practice. It forces you to (1) review the key topics and concepts, (2) hunt down every single useful formula and its applications, (3) narrate the logic of different problems and solutions.

About 10 days before a major exam, my study routine is as follows:
10 DAYS PRIOR: Outline the major concepts and review the chapter summaries in the textbook. I like to plan my studying so that I have at least 1.5 days per chapter (depending on the course -- some classes have longer, more comprehensive units).
- I dedicate 1.5 days to each chapter or major topic covered on the exam. One full day to review slide decks, chapter summaries, and my notes, and then half of the next day (to test retention) on practice exams or questions. In math/econometrics classes, I spend the half day redoing any problem sets. I also make the Quizlet if I haven't done so already.
5 DAYS PRIOR: Take Practice Exam 1 "dry". Ideally, I'd have more than one practice exam to review with, but if I only have one, I'll revise the problem sets again. By "dry," I mean without any references to replicate the exam setting (even if you are allowed a cheat sheet). This helps me identify what I suck at.
- If there's a type of question I struggle with (a time period in history, an accounting concept, etc.) I spend extra time studying that from a different approach. If I didn't understand it from reading the slides or textbook, I'll try a YouTube video or going directly to office hours.
3 DAYS PRIOR: I create the cheat sheet. The example below sort of deviates from my favorite template, but I typically create a left column for key concepts and definitions, and then dedicate the rest of the sheet to breaking down the logic of different types of problems. For humanities-based courses, I do Cornell notes.
Good luck!

How to Source the Strongest Letters of Recommendation

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Whether you're applying to college, trying to get a summer research position, hoping to study abroad, or applying to a grad school program, you'll eventually need to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Here are my tips on how to get the best recommendation possible:

1. Have your resume ready.

This may seem obvious, but have your resume ready so that the person who is writing your recommendation letter can see all the things that you've done. This helps them come up with things to write about and have some more knowledge about you and your qualifications. You should definitely make the process of writing the letters as easy as you can.

The person you're asking probably sees hundreds of students a year and is asked for letters of recs all the time. They may not remember how you did in their class or what your interests were, even if you have had conversations with them during office hours. Help them out by providing some context to who you are! OCL will have another post about resumes later on, but you may want to include the following: your overall GPA (and your specific major GPA if that makes your GPA higher), your standardized testing scores (SAT, GMAT, GRE, etc.), relevant classes you've taken, work experience, volunteer experience, leadership experience, any accomplishments/awards you've received, and some interests.

2. Have your story ready (and write it out!)

Similar to having your resume ready, having your story ready helps your letter of rec writer understand why you're applying to X program or why you need the letter in general. It provides insight into what you want them to talk about. On that note, it's so important to know what the point of the letter is. Is your school looking for someone who is intellectually curious? Is your program looking for someone with demonstrated leadership experience? Do your research to find out what characteristics the person reading the letter believes are important. (LC: I also like to share the program description and add a few notes about how my specific experience with that professor/mentor lends towards stronger candidacy for that program. I've also found that professors can often connect you to past applicants/alumni of those programs for referrals or advice!)

3. Schedule a chat and be ready to chat.

I think it's super important to connect (either in person or through a call) with your letter of rec writer, so they know how important the letter is. If your writer has time, schedule a thirty-minute call with them just to go over your resume/your store/what things your program wants in applicants, etc. This is a good way to show your rec writer that you're serious about whatever you're applying to and it's an easy way for them to clarify any things with you that they may not have time otherwise to reach out about. 

4. Have dates ready.

Know when your letter is due and make sure you tell the person writing your letter of rec. I offered to remind my letter of rec writers a couple weeks before my letter was due and they told me that'd be helpful for them! Your letter of rec writers probably have other deadlines and things happening in their life. Sending them a reminder a couple weeks before the letter is due is a perfect way to make sure they're on track. It's also a good way to stay organized as well if you're applying to multiple programs with multiple due dates. I really like to use Google calendar to set up reminders for myself on when to do things like reach out to my letter of rec writer. You can also set up emails with a delayed send (though be sure to delete them if your letter of rec writer has already finished your letter!)

Bonus, write a thank you letter or a card or get a small gift! Regardless of whether or not you get into whatever you're applying to, it's important to thank your recommender. They took time out of their busy lives to help you and you should be grateful! This is also nice in case you need to ask them later on for another letter. They'll remember that it was a pleasure to help you.

Hope this helps,

The Catalogue: No. 16

Sunday, September 9, 2018

I've always found that not taking care of yourself/struggling/sadness/depression/etc. is super romanticized especially in academic institutions. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with the entire spectrum of human emotions and being vulnerable, I can't seem to understand why so many of us idealize things that hurt and suck. We try and normalize not eating or not sleeping because "I was studying so hard", instead of making it sound as disruptive as it actually is. (On the other side, I can see that all of this has made being mentally ill more de-stigmatized. But I still think there's a line we need to tread carefully on moving forward.)

So here are some ~interesting~ thoughts and articles (worded well by other people since I'm not always great at formulating the thoughts I have):

Depression's Upside | Jonah Lehrer, The NY Times
It doesn’t matter if we’re working on a mathematical equation or working through a broken heart: the anatomy of focus is inseparable from the anatomy of melancholy. This suggests that depressive disorder is an extreme form of an ordinary thought process, part of the dismal machinery that draws us toward our problems, like a magnet to metal.

But is that closeness effective? Does the despondency help us solve anything? Andrews found a significant correlation between depressed affect and individual performance on the intelligence test, at least once the subjects were distracted from their pain: lower moods were associated with higher scores. “The results were clear,” Andrews says. “Depressed affect made people think better.” The challenge, of course, is persuading people to accept their misery, to embrace the tonic of despair. To say that depression has a purpose or that sadness makes us smarter says nothing about its awfulness. A fever, after all, might have benefits, but we still take pills to make it go away. This is the paradox of evolution: even if our pain is useful, the urge to escape from the pain remains the most powerful instinct of all.
We Need To Stop Romanticizing Mental Illness | Lara Kahn, Thought Catalog
Mental illness and low self-esteem are terrible things. But it seems that the movement to de-stigmatize them has gotten horrifically confused with a movement to romanticize them. [...] A culture has developed that idolizes mental illness, and encourages self-harm, self-medication, and even at times ending it all and becoming immortalized as a romantically tragic soul. [This] can feed into the [wrong] attitude that has become more and more prevalent: that doing the raw, tedious, unexciting and difficult work of therapy is not the answer. That embracing mental illness, glorifying it as tragedy, and staying insulated in a community where no one will ever tell anyone that mental illness is not a way to live, is the answer [when it is not].
Project LETS (Lets Erase The Stigma) | Think globally, act locally. Project LETS is building sustainable peer-led resource systems in communities through LETS Spaces & our Community PMHA Model.

I don't want to be a damsel in distress, because there is nothing that great about being in distress. It sounds cheesy, but I'd much rather be happy.


4 Ways to Read More (or Start Reading!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

1. Allow yourself some "recruiter reads."
I grew up in a household that shamed 小說, or pretty much any novel that wasn't some monumental contribution to the literary tradition or scientific archives, so I had to sneak home my YA romance and coming-of-age novels. My sister and I (mostly I) have been known to police our friends and each other (again, mostly me to my sister) for picking up "frothy" reads, and I've carried this condescension to adulthood. I feel really shitty whenever some white dude in a cardigan accuses me of not being well-read because I literally have not ever enjoyed something by Jane Austin, Haruki Murakami, or W.B. Yeates.
I've also mispronounced "Yeates" in a poetry class of all places (it literally looks like "yeet", what the fuck was I supposed to think), which sent the whole class tittering. I've not yet fully recovered from that, but I did end up being the only one from that class to have a published body of work, so suck my Yeates.
The point is, I kowtowed to literary gatekeepers my entire life, and thought the only books I could admit to having read had to be from a high-brow Western curriculum. But of course, this is entirely bullshit, and *flawless segue* I ended up forming my own alternative curriculum last year, comprised entirely of Asian American authors. The embarrassment of reading "chick lit" remained, though, so much so that my goodreads count is a severe underestimation because I don't want to admit to the 0.3 people that follow me that I've read soft-core erotica (ahem) or obsessively re-read the Clique series a dozen times in adulthood.
What I'm trying to say is, don't be like me. Allow yourself the little pleasures of reading a book literally written for your pleasure. You deserve pleasure. Some of my favorites:

If You Leave Me | Crystal Hana Kim

Words in Deep Blue | Cath Crowley

How to Be a Person in the World | Heather Havrilesky

2. Utilize your local library.
Nothing in recent history has made me lose my shit quite like the since-removed (I think) Forbes column arguing that libraries should be defunded and privatized in favor of Amazon-like stores (like bookstores, you mean?) One of my favorite childhood memories was our biweekly trips to the library where we could literally fill up a canvas tote with potential adventures, sagas, dramas, etc. Does anybody understand how dope it is to have so much -- knowledge, fantasy, redemption, thrill, hope -- that we can borrow for free? (Spare me the taxpayer argument here.) And best of all, you get to keep what you learn. IT'S SO FUCKING COOL, and I hope we never lose the joy of seeing these big, wide bookshelves full of who we could be and getting to pick where our little minds go next.

3. Get yourself a damn Kindle. 
(Or use the Kindle desktop/iPhone app, I guess.) 14-year-old me sneered at the philistine who carried a little gray toy instead of a hardcover, but 22-year-old me (wiser, better hair) swoons at the mysterious contents of a stranger's Kindle. Are you reading a self-help book about infidelity? An alt-right memoir? Something vintage? All of the above because that's what you can do with an e-reader????
Honestly, somebody should start a YouTube trend called "what's in my Kindle," I would 10/10 watch.

You can also download library books onto your Kindle via Overdrive (read: FREE CONTENT)!
That being said, if you can afford to purchase books at an acceptable pace, a really great way to find recommendations is through your local independent bookstore. They'll usually have staff-curated displays of interesting titles, and I agree that there's nothing quite like holding a fresh book with its wild, vivid full-color cover (and fonts, I really miss fonts).

4. (Optional) Learn to speed read. 
I've always been a pretty quick reader, but I learned to speed read in high school. I can't claim 100% retention or comprehension of everything I've speed read, but I can testify to a still-rich experience. Case in point: I've never missed a reading in college (and did very well), and skimming is still better than skipping. You can read a bunch of op-eds about whether speed reading works (I'll even do the work for you: here, here, here, and here), but the gist of it is that if you know a lot of words (by reading a lot), and are comfortable reading (by reading a lot), you'll read quickly (and therefore read a lot). There's no crazy neuroscience to this, and if you're not in any hurry (i.e. your to-read list isn't a billion titles long), it doesn't necessarily make less sense take your time and reflect on every other sentence. But if you're anxious about your books outliving you (as I am), learn to speed read. Or read multiple books at once. Here's a loose explanation of the method I learned. 

 And finally, my favorite quotes about reading:
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” 
J A M E S  B A L D W I N

“Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it.
Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.” 
W I L L I A M  F A U L K N E R

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” 
F R A N Z  K A F K A

"If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't f*ck them."
J O H N  W A T E R S

With great love,

The Catalogue: No. 15

15 is my favorite number, so obviously I'm going to dedicate Catalogue No.15 to fifteen of my favorite things in life. In other words, things that make me so, so happy to be alive!

1. Archaic Torso of Apollo | Rainer Maria Rilke
Otherwise this stone would seem defaced/beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:/would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.

2. YILAN | Kristin Chang
In Yilan, they will gather the dead/parts of the tree & burn away/the rot. 
It was my grandmother/who taught me to burn/only what you must, then water
the rest. Who taught me/that a tree is a body/through which water becomes fire.

3. In Response | Shihan
If there is ever a time you can't find me/don't worry. I'm doing alright. 

4. The Secret to Desire in a Long-Term Relationship | Esther Perel
So if there is a verb, for me, that comes with love, it's "to have." And if there is a verb that comes with desire, it is "to want." In love, we want to have, we want to know the beloved. We want to minimize the distance. We want to contract that gap. We want to neutralize the tensions. We want closeness. But in desire, we tend to not really want to go back to the places we've already gone. Forgone conclusion does not keep our interest. In desire, we want an Other, somebody on the other side that we can go visit, that we can go spend some time with, that we can go see what goes on in their red-light district. You know? In desire, we want a bridge to cross. Or in other words, I sometimes say, fire needs air. Desire needs space. And when it's said like that, it's often quite abstract.
5. 'I Feel Empty' | Ask Polly
You have to abandon the empty, successful, shiny shell of a person you became in order to please your father, to win your selfish boyfriends, to gain your glamorous magazine jobs, and you have to look into the inky hot abyss of your soul and pull out this wretched, messy self that you fear. You have to wipe the goop out of this self’s sad eyes like it’s your sick puppy. You have to cradle this self until it can stand and then walk forward. The very thought of this probably disgusts you. You’re sure that this pathetic self, who cares too much, is unworthy of love. That is the center of your malady. If you stare at that, without looking away, you will discover magic where you thought there was only a void.
6. 'I Love Myself, but Hate Being Single' | Ask Polly
You will find it. People who believe in life-changing love are the ones who find it. Keep believing. You can embrace reality and keep believing. You can honor death and keep living. Say this to yourself: I will believe in love until the sky falls. This is how I choose to live. When I believe, the stars shine more brightly, the birds sing together in chorus. Love will come to me in time. My job is to be patient, to try to take the obstacles in my path less seriously, and to savor the sweet, sad wonders of this day.
7. @hotdudesreading 
Literally what it sounds like. So delicious.

8. Similarly, @dilfs_of_disneyland
Side note, I used to live across the street from both a major park and hospital system so there were often hot doctor dads jogging with their kids in strollers and it was great.

9. @garyjanetti 
The funniest Instagram, ever. This is the best thing to binge-scroll through during shitty commutes. My favorites are the sassy Prince George ones.

10. @gryffindior 
Harry Potter characters in couture.

If you follow me on Instagram (and it's fine if you don't), you might know that I've tried to dabble more with art recently. My favorite art supplies:
11. This Sakura Koi Watercolor Set, which is teeny tiny (like a travel first-aid kit) and comes with a brush pen.

12. This 24-pack of gouache paints, a long-meditated purchase when I realized I don't actually enjoy watercolor all that much (but I still like my little set that I take everywhere).

13. Punk Post Co. 
An app-based snail mail service that commissions "handwriting artists" to hand-letter and address cute cards for you! I'm currently applying to be a "handwriting artist" (fingers crossed though I'm not as good as I thought I was), and I've already sent two cards. They range from $4-$6ish (with international shipping!) and I've been so pleased each time with the artwork. You can also add confetti or photo prints for $1 each. Anddddd, your first one is free! Can't say enough good things about this, especially if you've always wanted to send a sweet love letter but have shitty handwriting/no artistic skills. And if you want a guaranteed way to make somebody's day, send them a card just to say that you are proud of them and you are rooting for their best life.

14. Ferme a Papier is a San Francisco-based stationary collection and my current art inspiration! One of my dozen (no exaggeration) side projects is an East Asian-inspired set of gouache prints. Think Rifle Paper Co. meets Hakka prints meets loose hand-lettering. Can't wait to show you on the IG if this ever becomes a thing.

15. Not really an item, but I've recently had such energizing conversations with friends/strangers about the underrepresentation of Asian Americans in PR/Advertising industries (2.6%!!), Asian American masculinity/desirability, interracial relationships, 'To All the Boys I've Ever Loved,' literature, Taiwan, religion, etc. If you ever just want to chat about stuff with no apparent segue (you don't even have to ask me about my life just to be polite!) I am here and I love to talk! I also hate small talk! Let's dive right in!

Finally, with this little snippet on joy from an AAWW interview between AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHIL and ROSS GAY.
RG: I am spending more and more time studying joy, in part because I suspect it is connected to (or one of the expressions of deep awareness of) love. And in part, too, because I think we have an obligation, like an ethical obligation, to study what we love, what we want to preserve and keep with us and grow. Joy strikes me as one of the ways we know we are in the midst of such things. It’s like a finger pointing to the thing, saying “Take care of this!” Saying, “Sing about this!” That might be a gathering of beloveds or it might mean someone giving you directions, both of you using languages you do not speak fluently. It might mean the green birds in Barcelona, or the sound of kids’ voices from somewhere you are not sure of. It might mean the creek like a xylophone when all the frogs hop in. Joy strikes me (it is funny that I am inclined to say that joy strikes me; this is a good strickenness, trust me) as, like, I don’t quite know how to say it, because I was going to say a kind of fabric between us, but it’s more like the way the fabric itself holds together. Joy alerts us to the moments when our alienation diminishes, or, even, disappears. It reminds us of our wholeness, our togetherness—which is the truth.

With joie de vivre!

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