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~~! ^^