our society

I know it's very cliche to talk about society, how it pressures us to do certain things or act certain ways or even to think certain thoughts (thus the beginning of this sentence), but it's something that we can't get out of because it's been ingrained into our minds, surrounding us during all our lives. And sure, people usually view this to be a bad thing, to succumb to the wills of the majority, but it's not necessarily harmful. In fact, it can even help us go out of our comfort zones and learn new things. But just the same, it can discourage us from doing what we truly want or what we're actually good at doing.

Confused? Let me put it in more concrete terms. I'm writing specifically from my own experience and how I feel incompetent when I compare myself to my friends. Most of my friends are very involved in what they do - and what they do is school. This means my friends are good friends with their professors, are in academic clubs or societies, or are in some form of council for some kind of organization. When asked how they're doing in school, they can honestly say that they're busy people and they're doing what they love. If prompted further, they can describe their jobs, their leadership roles in whatever clubs they're in, their internships with their favorite professors.

That's not to say that I'm not as successful... except I'm not (at least on paper). What can I say? I've been just as busy, but it's in my personal life and in sports. I'm smart and I like excelling in classes, but I'm either too shy or too lazy to be bothered to go further in my academic life. When my high school friends and I meet up and share what we've been doing since then, everyone always has so much to tell. "I've been studying abroad and someday want to move to Europe." "I'm the president of this club and organize events to meet with professors." "My professor offered me an internship in the summer to work in his lab." That's all great for them, but I can't compete with these kinds of statements. Maybe I'm jealous or perhaps I'm just insecure about myself, but I think that if we're surrounded by this kind of atmosphere, then people will remain in the same sphere. We're all doing well, but we're all the same.

I've expressed these concerns to my sisters before. I've admitted that I'm worried, that I don't think I have been doing anything since college (or even before) and that I don't know if I'll amount to anything once I graduate. But when I reflect, I know I'm just worrying myself. I am doing well in school and exploring courses, and I'm having fun with what I'm learning. I got a double gold in my first year at Collegiates Taekwondo, and then in my sophomore year I was team captain of the taekwondo team. And this year I made it into the national team with my sisters and competed in sports poomsae at Worlds. How can I say I haven't been doing anything? Sure, I don't have much experience in academic clubs, but doesn't representing the US at a world competition count for anything?

In the end, I just have to remember that I am not like my friends. And in doing what I am good at and love, I guess my friends and I are more alike than I had realized.

nearing the finish line

Collegiates has come and gone, and now all that's left for my energies to focus on is school.  Yep, there's that short fiction class that's demanding a paper due Friday - which I haven't even thought about, let alone start on - and a short story due finals week.  There's the Shakespeare class that I turned a paper in for today and requires me to finish reading The Tempest and begin studying for the final.  There's also the Beethoven class that I need to write a paper in for, and then the landscape architecture class where I am missing a whole half a semester of reading that will probably haunt me in the final if I don't study.

And even though Collegiates is over, I still have a team paper due, and I've got to write half a UC Open report this week as well.  As if my work load doesn't give me enough already.

Hang in there, everyone!  Almost done, almost done...


 Ah ha!  It's 3:02 in the AM and I'm typing out this because I am Ophe-ed and want to try and update at least once a day.  True, it's technically now Saturday, but hey, better late than never right?  Actually, that's not always applicable.  But moving on...

Today was quite a day.  I set my alarm to 8:30 because I was stupid and set up a hair appointment at 9, but then my internal alarm clock went off at 8 (even though my school days begin at 10... Grr!) so then I just lost even more sleep.  I went downstairs and had the munchies so I had some oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins.  Good job, mother, for making the oatmeal the day before!  All I had to do was scoop and microwave.  Simple pimple... Ew.  Anyway, I was trying to be healthy and this kind of balances out the cookies and madeleines I ate later, right?

I got to the hair salon ten minutes early, so I got out ten minutes early.  And maaaan, I knew she was going to style it.  I like the cut, don't get me wrong; it's just the styling that kills me.  She cut the bangs a bit too short this time around too, so the styling was more poofy and had her signature curl at the ends.  Once I got home, I immediately made for the sink to drown the politician wife's hair and ended up with wet mom-hair.  Yes, my mom did comment later.  Yes, she did like it.  And yes... I mentally said, "Poop," to myself.

We picked up Je Anne and went to LA to eat lunch with Jimboob at a restaurant called Chinda.  It was a Thai restaurant, but with a misspelling of China, what else would I be hinted toward?  Misnomers, they're tricky devils, they are.  The food was pretty good though, although I still do love Thai Paradise.  The coolest part of the afternoon was when we were driving back to Disney the Land of Fun and we saw horses.  We even saw a baby horse!  It was my first time seeing those cute lil' creatures, and now I just really really really want a horse when I live on a ranch can afford one don't need a reason.  I just want one.

We went to Ulta and picked up some nice things.  I finally bought a conditioner!  It's my first time trying out Fekkai products, and so far I am happy to report that the conditioner smells lovely and is giving my hair a very soft and shiny look.

So because we were thinking about going to Qualifiers, we went to the studio at 5pm and stayed there for FOUR hours.  Good Lord, and it actually passed more quickly than I had thought it would too!  I have a lot of work to do, but it's looking all right.  We're almost guaranteed a ticket to Team Trials at least.

Anyway, afterward we went to Tasty Garden and I was surprised with a birthday cake in the shape of a teapot.  =)  Because my parents are awesome and my family is fantasmo.  And my friends are the coolest for just being there.  And because I am very grateful, especially since I did not expect it (my birthday isn't coming for another two weeks).

Yay, it was a good day.  I'm going back to Berkeley tomorrow, but I am glad to have had such a nice spring break just hanging out here in Socal.  =)

i'm home!

 Ah, Los Angeles. It took one bus ride, a BART ride, an hour delay before my one hour flight, and a car ride to get back home. But yes, I'm finally back!

Today we went to my sisters' tae kwon do tournament for poomsae, and we stayed there for, well, let's just say for way too long. We woke up at 6:30am (... I had three hours of sleep) and didn't get back until 5pm. I knocked out during the car ride, came back and went on the computer, and then knocked out for three hours before we went to dinner. But the actual tournament itself was pretty good. I got to see both my sisters perform, and I haven't had that pleasure for a few years now. They were great! I also saw my other friends compete and watched a lovely demo performance with a friend up north performing with Wongy (surprise surprise). It's a small world, hm?

I think my lunch was Carl's Jr. chicken tenders, but I didn't have enough to really fill me up. And continuing on with food, dinner was at this Tin Tin Restaurant (?!) and it was disappointingly mediocre. Ohhhh well. Afterward, we went to Jimbee and Je Anne's to watch Jimbee kill Hercules and etc. in God of War. That game is so violent that it holds my attention so well for me to not even notice I'm receiving an education in Greek mythology. Hey, wait a minute...

I'm really tired.

english essays

banana bread (yes, again)

It's raining. And it's cold. I realize that much of what I say on Twitter relates to either one of two things:

1) Food
2) Temperature

Yes, I do eat a lot. Yes, I am cold and I like everyone to be aware of it. If global warming wasn't such a serious topic, I'd say hurray for warmer weathers in Norcal! The Berkeley sun has left today and left us with the large rainclouds that were waiting for its chance to wet my jeans. You won this round, rain...

It actually isn't bad though. I remember another time I had forgotten my umbrella and it was like a waterfall showering me in my clothes, but today I cleverly wore a sweatshirt with a hood and a waterproof poofy jacket. And with a fiasco like the last time, I learned my lesson and brought an umbrella. Super dry Olivia stayed safe and not-too-warm all the way to class, then to the market, and finally back home. Hurray! Huzzah! (But who says huzzah?)

By the way, I bought eggs for our empty refrigerator! And vanilla extract. Oops, excuse me; pure vanilla extract. I didn't know there was a distinction, but obviously the purer the better, right? Is it more fragrant and delicious? Ha, I won't even try for a comparison. I'll be a vanilla extract snob and stick to the pure stuff.

Now all I need is milk. Cereal. Bread. Basically everything else besides eggs and vanilla extract. I apparently don't know how to prioritize my shopping lists and go for what's easiest to carry without a bag. After all, my middle name is Lazy... Olivia Lazy Ngai. Yes. I don't know why my parents did that to me. (They didn't, ya sillies!)

And you're probably scratching your head at the title, thinking, "What? Again? But didn't you just..." Hey, this time it's not my fault! We had ripe bananas that were soon going to be chucked, so in an effort to give their lives at least some meaning (ooh yes, lots and lots of meaning in this one), I made banana bread with chocolate chips and cinnamon sugar with great inspiration from Orangette. See, not too repetitive, right? 

it's late and i'm tired

And yet here I am, on the computer typing a blog. This must be because I am just so emotionally crazy that I feel I need to just throw it out there so I could feel better. So here's to hoping I'll feel better:

When I was growing up, my parents always put pressure on Ophelia and Odona. They wanted Ophelia to be the great older sister, the one who takes care of her younger siblings, the one who is supposed to be our role model and show us how to lead our lives. She had to look after us and keep us out of trouble (because if we get in trouble, she gets in trouble - and who wants that?).

Odona, on the other hand, is pressured to do well in school. She had to basically follow Ophelia and my footsteps, and I'm not sure if she got to be her own person that way. I mean, she's an individual now of course; but growing up? I'm not so sure. She had to live up to us because if we could do it, why couldn't she?

So then there was me, the middle child. The dreaded position of all kids because it's like living in limbo. I never really had too much pressure put on me other than to take care of Odona. But everything else was peachy. A-okay. At least on my parents' part.

Because I lacked the pressure coming from them, I somehow felt compelled to give myself my own stress. While everyone else in school complained that they'd get punished by their parents if they didn't return home with A-papers, I slapped my own hand whenever I felt like I needed it. When I get B's, I still feel terribly disappointed in myself and spend a few hours berating myself. Why did I not do well? How did this happen? My failures are on the front of my mind while my good qualities are squished in the back corners, unable to come out until I clear my own hazy fog of anger mixed with sadness. Honestly, I take a long time to pick myself up again and recover the pieces to emerge stronger.

In a way, I think I have to fall hard in order to learn my lesson. Small hiccups and disappointments affect me, but the largest impacts come after terrible, terrible letdowns.

Today, I think I've finally hit the bottom for myself. I hadn't done so well in school as of late, and today I was very unhappy about my decline in technique and strategy in tae kwon do. It all came crashing down afterward when I was in bed; I was thinking to myself, I suck at school. I suck at tae kwon do. I suck at friendships. I just suck.

I know I don't. I know I just hold myself to a much higher standard than I hold everyone else to because I believe that I can always do better and improve myself. It's true that I am not doing well in school right now, but bad grades are incentives to try harder and earn that A. I haven't been training in tae kwon do for a while because of an injury, so I should give myself some slack for not improving lately. And as for friendships? I can work on that. I definitely can work on that.

But I don't suck, and I know I don't suck. I don't know why I have to mentally destroy myself before I can build my confidence back again, but I'm all right now. I'll be all right.

chocolate crinkles

Stress-baking. I was so upset on Friday that I started going nuts in the kitchen. It was Mimi's birthday, and I had already planned to make banana bread for her (because we're all great fans of banana, bread, and banana bread). So after I made that mess - and by that I mean too much cinnamon, flour everywhere, etc etc - I threw the bread in the oven and waited the excruciating fifty minutes. Except I couldn't.

I just couldn't keep still. I reached for my computer and went to my 'Bake' folder to look for recipes that late nights in my bed have led me to search for. I'm laying in bed and I'm not even hungry. I just want to see food, see what I can make and what looks good. I want to make things that people will enjoy. So thank you to 17andbaking for these chocolate crinkle cookies. Brownies in a cookie! Nine minutes did it for me.

The timer reached something like twenty minutes before I began to spill flour all over again. I think I stress-bake in times of anger, sadness, pain... I rely on beating and mixing and folding when I cannot communicate to anyone how I'm feeling, either because I don't want to or because I can't. Anyway, I guess it's good my stress relieves itself in such a delicious manner.

writing, writing

What I've always wanted - to write fiction for school! In high school I did it a few times, but otherwise it's been a while so I'm very happy to be writing again. Yesterday I spent all night trying on these two characters (of which I wrote three or four shorts and then abandoned them... It was pretty bad), but the Banana got a great idea and this morning I was inspired again.

I realized I couldn't write on my laptop, which is just inefficient for time's sake, so I kicked myself off the computer for a few hours and sat and wrote in my journal. Ta da! By george, I think I've got it. I just finished it, and sure there are plenty bumps and grooves to fix, but that's what drafts are for, right? Edit, edit, turn it in to my workshop group. Then edit again, then turn it in to my reader. Then edit again, workshop group again. Edit, and then turn it in for a final grade. Good lord, what a long process. But so necessary.

I've never embarked on such a long editing process, but I'm excited to see how I can improve. Rather, where I can start to improve. Okay, let's go!

fiber fun!

Yeah, I just baked... Doesn't mean I can't bake again, right? Although the best banana bread I've ever had is my mother's (because she is magical in the kitchen), that doesn't mean other recipes should be dismissed. This one is from smitten kitchen, and I must, say, it definitely surpasses what one would want and expect in banana bread.

 While my mother's is more cake-ish (read: wet, sticky, delicious), this one is actually banana bread. I even bought a bread/loaf pan to define it for me - Safeway, $5. But aside from that, there were little expenses; plus, I got to use up our ripe bananas! Unlike my mother's, this one calls for cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg - all of which you can smell distinctly. Deb calls it jacked-up because she adds some alcohol for you alkies. Unfortunately, there's no bourbon in this one. Not so jacked-up banana bread. But thank you anyway to smitten kitchen. :)

You'll enjoy it. Not too dry, not too sweet, but very banana-y. Yum yum.