16 June 2011

If brains were lard...

The night I got back home from DC, the local news coverage featured a place called Walkerville.

Okayyy? And?

Well, you might have noticed that my adopted hometown of Madison, WI, has been cropping up in the news pretty frequently these past many months.

Yeahhh. Remember now?

Our lovely gov'nor has been keeping quite busy, trying make himself as unpopular as possible among his constituents.

So, we -- by which I mean those of us who either were adversely affected by or disagree with Gov. Scott Walker's actions (or both) -- are hoping he'll be recalled from office... which apparently can't even be brought to a vote until he's been in office for at least a year.

I know. He hasn't even been in office for a year and he's already done this much damage. Terrifying, isn't it? The guy must have set some sort of a record.

So, Walkerville. It's a village of protesters against Gov. Scott Walker, literally camping out on the Capitol Square, because the state police is guarding the entrances to the Capitol. Our tax money is being put to real good use, guys. Anyway, I'm not sure exactly what prompted this timing, but it must have been suffocating in those tents because of the heat those couple of days.

In addition to the tents, there were also several musicians performing to keep the protesters entertained, and witty signs to amuse the walkers-by (heh).

Do you have enough brains to grease a skillet?

Oh, don't worry, these cookies don't contain brains. Just some (relatively) harmless butter. :)

25 May 2011

Fortune cookie wisdom

This school year is nearly over.


It's been an intense couple of months, guys, and I'm still trying to decide if this experience has been worth all the sweat and tears shed over it. Of course I'm not in a position to decide just yet, because I am in the middle of
  1. packing up and mailing off (most of) my earthly possessions,
  2. studying for two exams, and
  3. searching for and reading papers, so that I can
  4. start writing my paper.
Oh, and updating the blog. For the second time this week, because I am supposed to be devoting my time to other, more important things, like the ones listed above. You know how that goes.

I guess it's the time of year when a lot of people -- at least those of us in or just finishing up school -- are packing and moving. Georgetown has been in chaos the past few weeks.

Now, I don't know if anyone out there actually likes packing for a move (very different from packing for a trip, which I find rather enjoyable). If you do... I don't know. You are either really weird, or deserve some serious respect from me.

Let it be known to the universe that I, for one, absolutely loathe packing to move.

It is so depressing to strip a room (or a house!) of all the things that made it "home" and tuck them away in boxes, for goodness knows how long. And there is always, always something that must be given up, and it tears my heart apart to see it go. Like the awesome IKEA bed that my amazing friends got for me when I moved to Boston. Or my trusty steed of a bike that's been with me for two years.

Since I have had to go through this pretty much every year since 2005 (sans 2009), I have come up with a few tricks to make the process a bit more pleasant for myself.

1. Make a good, long playlist. Everything is better with its own soundtrack! I recommend Disney songs, and maybe songs from Wicked. Sometimes when I want to feel extra badass, I put on the soundtracks from The Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean. K-pop is great, too, if you're into that -- my brother judges me for this, but he's not the one packing, now is he?

2. Take breaks. Over the course of pulling everything out of its place for sorting and packing, you will occasionally find something that makes you smile. Take a minute to look through that stack of photos, or to glance through that bundle of letters and postcards. And read through those fortune cookie fortunes saved in a ratty old envelope.

Like these, which I found particularly apt for where my life is headed now:
A good time to start something new.
You will step on the soil of many countries.

This one makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside:
You will always possess a charm and sense of humor that attracts others.

And then some are just plain funny:
You are the crispy noodle in the vegetarian salad of life. (Potential food blog title??)
Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.
Fortune not found: Abort, Retry, Ignore?

3. Upgrade to brownie breaks when you get to that nitty-gritty stage where you are unlikely to discover any more little treasures. Packing is hungry work! Now, note that the brownies must be baked before you start packing -- you wouldn't want to leave your mixing bowls and baking pans behind, would you? -- but they are worth the planning ahead. Plus this is a great way to use up those extra ingredients before you start packing.

For some reason I haven't been in the mood lately for chocolate. I'm glad I made these brownies, though, and so were my housemates!

24 May 2011

Pay it forward in 2011

Guys, guys. I'm moving to Australia at the end of the year! Starting in January I will be attending medical school for two years in Brisbane, at the University of Queensland, then in New Orleans for the following two at the Ochsner Clinical School! Can you tell that I'm excited??

Now that I have a plan for next year, I'm thinking of what to do for the rest of this one. My current thoughts include spending some quality time in Korea and learning to cook Korean food, and maybe visiting some friends in Europe on my way back to the States, before heading Down Under. I'll think through the details once the more pressing priorities are out of the way.

But to backtrack a bit now. At the start of this year, I made an announcement on Facebook:
Pay it Forward in 2011: I will send something handmade (most likely food, in my case) to the first 5 people who leave a comment here. They must post this in turn, and send something they make to the first 5 people who comment on their status. The rules are that it must be handmade by you and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime in 2011.
Now that we're about halfway through the year, I figured I should get cracking on my offerings before my life gets any more hectic with exams, papers, and Big Life Decisions (see above), and such like.

My original plan was to bake something special for each person, but I was struck with a new idea upon espying a small bead shop near campus. I used to love making bead jewelry in middle school, and thought it would be fun to try my hand at it again.

So, a bit about my four(!) Pay it Forward recipients...

For Joanne: a necklace
I met Joanne through another friend while we were living in Boston. She is an incurable Hello Kitty addict, but I actually associate her more with sunshine, laughter, and bright colors. She is also your go-to girl for fun, pretty jewelry, whose extensive (and ever-growing) collection makes her (awesome!) husband Atom shake his head in mock despair. So, sorry Atom, but I'll be adding to that collection.

For Raba: a set of knitting stitch markers
Raba comprises one-third of The Brain. She and Jodi are my buddies for knitting, quilting, baking, cooking, chick flicks, Chinese takeout, Lord of the Rings, VeggieTales, history classes with a certain professor wearing a mustard-yellow sweater... and so, so much more. I can't think about Williams without remembering the hours we spent giggling over cheeseburgers and buffalo fries at the Snack Bar, and the innumerable movie nights with takeout from Chopsticks. Lately Raba has been incredibly busy with classes and work, but I hope these stitch markers will remind her to take a break once in a while and relax with a movie and some knitting!

For Haydee: a bookmark
Haydee is my math buddy. We became friends while struggling through math problem sets together for three years at Williams (she studied abroad junior year). The janitors in the math building grew quite accustomed to walking in on us in empty classrooms at 6am, exhausted and covered in chalk dust but (usually) triumphant. We made for an excellent team, with Haydee thinking up novel approaches to problems, and me picking through the details to find weak points in her proofs. Haydee is well on her way to becoming a professional mathematician now, having just finished her first year of math grad school!

For Jake: a cake
Jake is another brilliant mathematician I know from Williams, all set to graduate with Honors (High Honors?) come June, and head off to math grad school in the fall. I first met Jake at the start of my senior year (his freshman year), chatting about the math and chemistry departments. He was later pressured into joining the marching band, which I think he ended up enjoying much more than he had expected. Since he was the only guy to reply to my Pay it Forward announcement, he got a cake! He wisely chose the lemon + blueberry combination (my specialty!) over chocolate, so that's what he got.

Yes, in a bright pink box, because that's what the Safeway bakery lady gave me when I asked for a cake box.

08 May 2011

A salute to the parents

It's Mother's Day today. But it's also May 8, which is 어버이 날 (Parents' Day) in Korea.

It's customary for children to give carnations to their parents on 어버이 날, and I remember making paper carnations at school like these kids, for my parents and grandparents.

I haven't done that since we moved to the States sixteen years ago, though, and I haven't seen either of my parents in May since I graduated from high school seven years ago. I suppose it's an inevitable part of growing up, but it feels odd to realize it.

My mom still treats me like a kid for the most part when I'm home, but she did have a mild freak-out moment during my spring break when she realized that she got married at my age... and had me a year later. In other words, she is now old enough to be a grandmother!

Don't worry, Mom, you look much younger than your age. And I'm certainly not planning on getting married or having kids anytime soon, even if quite a few of my friends have jumped on that bandwagon recently.

So! A happy Mother's/Parents' Day to all you mothers/parents out there! You all are amazing people.

엄마, 아빠, 고맙습니다! 사랑해요~~! ^^

15 April 2011

Don't you? 'Course you do!

Spring! It's the loveliest time of the year, if only for the longer daylight hours.

And spring means spending Sunday afternoons poisoning pigeons in the park with my sweetheart.

Wait, what sweetheart?

Disclaimer: I harbor no particular love for pigeons, but I don't actually condone killing them.

Okay, so that wasn't about pigeons, but swallows are cool birds because they carry things. I had just wanted to share some media that greatly influenced my college years, and fowl just happened to star(?) in both. And you know keeping a blog is all about sharing information nobody cares to have.

In that spirit, here's another song we used to sing a lot in college, about a duck.

Er, I mean, a llama.

And a duck.

Right. So, guys, it's spring! The birds are tweeting outside my window at 4am, the squirrels are frolicking, the flowers are blooming, the pollen is flying...

My condolences to those of you who suffer from allergies, by the way. My allergist informed me last year that I have been suffering from hay fever all my life. Ohhhkay, but do pardon me if I blithely ignore what he said, because as far as I can tell, I am not suffering from hay fever, nor did I before.

I did almost fall out of my chair laughing when he told me that I was also allergic to animal dander, though, because at the time I was a mouse wench spending most of my waking hours in the animal facility. It's possible (probable?) that I developed an allergy from working there for two years, but what can you do?

Well, that's neither here nor there, and my supposed allergies aside, it really is spring, and all this daylight is making me very, very happy.

A while ago there was a post on Sweetapolita about a delightful cake that was the very embodiment of sunshine and spring. I haven't had the time or patience to attempt the layer cake yet, but it's in the queue.

I settled for a lemon-blueberry bundt cake in the meantime, and it's quite tasty, despite the sub-par photos. My trusty dusty Pentax has its limits.

05 April 2011

9,131 days

Hey, um, so, I just finished living the first quarter-century of my life.

I'm officially old, guys.

My birthday falls on Arbor Day (식목일) in Korea, so my dad used to tell me that people were planting trees to celebrate my birthday. It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but I believed it when I was little because I thought I was special.

I really used to be that cute... so what went wrong?

I'm from a huge family, where my dad is the second eldest of seven children, and my mom is the eldest of seven. So for quite a few years I was the only grandchild on my mom's side, and the youngest of three on my dad's. Having a lot of unmarried aunts and uncles meant that I had no shortage of babysitters, and was completely accustomed to being the center of everyone's attention.

That is, until this one came along.

Good thing he was adorable, eh? :)

Almost all my aunts and uncles are married and have kids now, and I have seventeen(!) younger cousins to keep track of, the youngest of whom was born just a few months ago. Plus my oldest cousin, who is like a sister to me, is getting married this summer, so I guess I'll have nieces and nephews soon, too?!

Being the "cousins in America" means there is a lot expected of my brother and me, so it can be kind of stressful to have so many people to visit whenever we go to Korea. But at the same time, it is amazing to feel so welcomed every time we go back. :)

My mom cooked me a delicious Korean birthday breakfast while I was home for spring break, and my dad sent me an awesome package full of Korean food, so I was all set for this birthday already. I just couldn't pass up such a good excuse for baking a cake. :)

28 March 2011

Bring out your dead!

Hey there, universe, did you miss me?

I have neglected this little blog quite shamefully, and have been generally hard to reach, on- or off-line, the past month or so. But thankfully SDR (affectionately known as The Module from Hell) is finally over, and I can come up for air again.

So I'm not dead, I feel fine. In fact, I feel happy!

If you aren't already familiar with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, please note that your life will not be complete until you have watched this movie. You're welcome.

Well, okay, to be completely truthful, I felt happy while I was on spring break. Williamstown was wonderful despite the weather, as it always is, and Madison was lovely because of the weather. Now that I'm back in DC, I shall miss the unpolluted air and the stars.

Since spring break was only a week long, I spent most of it catching up on sleep, watching movies, reading, and running/walking about. Oh, and baking for my mom and brother, of course.

You know you're jealous.

The first week of my brother's two-week spring break overlapped with my break, so ironically I couldn't see him during my visit to Williamstown, but I did see him for a few days in Madison.

My feelings about being back in Georgetown are as yet undecided, independent of the unmistakable feel of spring about the air. It should be easier to be optimistic, though, I think, with just two modules and a term paper left in the program. Plus it's spring now, with more daylight hours, and budding greenery and flowers everywhere. Huzzah for spring!

24 February 2011

Songs about food

Did you know that Louis Armstrong sang a song called "Cheesecake"?

I didn't, until I searched for "cheesecake song" in YouTube. There is even a Muppets version!

So, why was I searching for songs about cheesecakes? (Do I need a reason?)

That's right. I made mini cheesecakes after the exam.

The discovery of the cheesecake song made me think of the 냉면 (naeng myeon) song sung by Jessica of Girls' Generation and 박명수 (Park Myeong Soo). It's cute and catchy, with a summery feel to it.

Despite the differences between the two singers -- Jessica is a 20-something, Barbie-like member of the most popular girl idol group in Korea, and 박명수 is a comedian in his 40s famous for his shouting gag -- I think they match and balance each other out quite well.

And since I'm on the topic of summer, I can't very well leave out 팥빙수 (patbingsoo), now can I?


윤종신 (Yoon Jong Shin), the singer of the 팥빙수 song, is another well-known Korean celebrity, mostly because he's done everything. He is the all-around entertainer: singer, songwriter, actor, MC, etc. A year or two ago, he was a cast member on the awesome variety show 패밀리가 떴다 (Family Outing), in which the celebrity cast plus 1-2 celebrity guests go out in the country for two days and house-sit for an elderly couple, allowing the couple to enjoy a weekend trip. While there, the members (and guests) are responsible for completing certain tasks, as well as cooking for themselves. The show allowed people to get a sense of what life is like in the country, and all the work involved.

To keep things fun (this was a variety show, after all, not a documentary), they often played games, especially in the mornings to decide who would be responsible for making breakfast.

Breakfast was an arduous process that included gathering (and/or catching) the ingredients, as well as cooking for 9-10 people, so it was not a popular task. Plus, since the members not on the breakfast team can go back to sleep, people got pretty intense about winning the games. :)

Anyway, I digress. (As I do.)

This silly song -- I mean, love song -- is probably my favorite song about food:

Would you believe me if I said that my friends and I used to sing this (and many other silly songs) in college? Yes, in college. We were seriously cool kids.

10 February 2011

I feel it in my toes


My mom sent me the above picture a couple of days ago, saying that it snowed another two feet in the Midwest.

Personally, I was hoping for a repeat of last winter's Snowpocalypse in DC, too, but it already feels like spring here.

Apparently it snowed enough in Madison for the public schools to declare a snow day, which is really quite something. During the nine years that I lived there, we had one, maybe two snow days. As long as it stopped snowing by 04:30, we could assume the roads would be cleared and we would have school. We still watched for the school cancellation notice on the morning news, though -- you know, just in case.

And then, our hopes crushed to tiny bits, we would resign ourselves to digging our way through the snow to school (my brother and I walked to school, and often the sidewalks wouldn't have been cleared yet).

Do you see why I felt such disdain for DC when the whole city shut down after about five inches of snow a few weeks ago? The power went out on my street, so I stumbled around the house a bit with my headlamp (I am a cool kid), before eventually giving up and spending the night at a classmate's house nearby. It turned out to be a good thing that I did, because the power stayed out for about 16 hours.

DC, you wuss.

I can't say I totally minded having a snow day, but it did mean a crazy catch-up day the following day, which happened to be a Friday. @#$%^&*!&$*#@^!%. I may or may not have gone straight to the kitchen after classes ended, and taken out my stress on some ground turkey.

Perhaps I should be more worried about my tendency to mash things when I'm stressed.

23 January 2011

It's ridiculous to leave all the conversation to the pudding

When the weather turns nippy, it makes me think of Jordan, my freshman year roommate and best friend (hi Jordan!).

Jordan grew up in Los Angeles and had never lived in a place with snow before coming to Wililams. She used to worry me, shivering in her bed next to the heater with all our extra blankets piled on her, and layered up in her skiing gear.

She's come a long way since then, and now really embraces the cold. She's come a long way in other ways, too, surprising herself. She studied in New Zealand for a year, wrote a thesis in oceanography, sailed for weeks offshore aboard a research vessel, and is now in grad school, studying climate change.

I am so proud of her, and of being her friend.

This is the girl who knows exactly how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking, even when I can't find the words. She was my first real introduction to non-classical music, and the extra nudge I needed to apply for a semester at Williams-Mystic despite my parents' skepticism. She shares my love of running and cooking. She takes care of me when I'm tired and discouraged and grumpy. And I take care of her when she hurts herself cutting up watermelon or running in the woods. We have had a lot of adventures together, and there are still so many more to come.

Maybe that's why the cold weather still makes me think of Jordan. When the wind is rattling around and seeping in through the cracks -- seriously, what good are the windowless cement walls of our library, if they can't even keep out the wind? -- I would love nothing better than to ditch my lecture notes and cuddle under a blanket with a good book or two (textbooks don't count). Alas, that is not to be, and the next best thing I could think of was a bowl of warm rice pudding topped with cinnamon, to sweeten the study time.

It, uh, helps me think about how the GI tract works.


01 January 2011

I'll be home tonight

Inquiring minds want to know: is DC part of "The South"?

I mean, it is south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but a lot of people insist that I do not live in the South, so I'm wondering. It's definitely the furthest south that I've ever lived, and the lateness of autumn and winter has been confusing as all get out. Halloween, for instance, totally sneaked up on me, because there hadn't been even a hint of frost on the ground yet.

Call me crazy (really, do; everyone else does), but I love winter, and I love the cold. Going home to Wisconsin -- to a real, invigorating winter with brisk air and piles of snow -- for winter break was simply lovely.

Sure, my fingers and toes were cold, and my nose rivaled that of Rudolph when I came back inside from shoveling snow, but "truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold." * Besides, after you've been outside, a bowl of hot, spicy, Korean ramen tastes... unbelievable. :)

* A box of cookies for the first person who can identify the source of the quote without an Internet search!

At the same time, I love that on most days in Madison (and in New England, where I also spent a good number of years) I can get away with not wearing gloves or a hat, since it's not, say, the Arctic.

While I was home, I made like a champion and relaxed with all my might, feasting on my mom's cooking and catching up on sleep. Of course I baked and cooked a lot, too, mostly to enable my little brother in his foraging habits (he's twenty, he needs the calories), but I also spent a lot of my time reading.

Ten books in eight days. Oh yes, it was bliss.

I also had a chance to meet up with a few friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in years. ♥

Well, break is nearly over now, and I'm back in DC, with Internet access again. I am recharged and bracing myself to face another semester!

Borrowing from the brilliance of Christoph Niemann, I wish you all the best:

Happy 2011, everyone!