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“It’s the show Trump doesn’t want you to see.”

These words are emblazoned on a large poster outside of the Longacre Theatre on Broadway, advertising the musical Allegiance, starring Lea Salonga, George Takei, and Telly Leung. And my god, no words have ever been truer.

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It’s the show Trump doesn’t want you to see, because you’ll suddenly understand what Joanna Hoffman means when she says “History is a spiral.”

The story of Allegiance centers around the Kimura family, on the tension between Sam and Kei Kimura, a brother and sister coming into their own as adults in the midst of a tumultuous time. They are both learning what loyalty means, deciding what is necessary to prove it, and the interpersonal drama between the two siblings echoes in the larger context of their situation: the internment, the horrific reality of war, and the external forces growing the divide between being American and being Japanese.

Drawing from the experience of 120,000 Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II, including George Takei’s own life story, Allegiance is equal parts uplifting and heartbreaking, and it took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

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After six years of living in New York City, I finally got the chance to see a Broadway musical. (That’s right, four years of having free/reduced price tickets through NYU’s student ticket center or through programs with my dorm and I’ve never once seen a show. It’s sad, I know.)

But, part of me is glad to have waited for such a long time since my first show ended up being Allegiance, a musical whose run is ending entirely too soon, in my opinion.

And I’m still reeling from the experience. There is something magical about live performances, about being in the theater with the stage and the audience, about having that time blocked off where you have nothing else to do but sit and immerse yourself in the story, in the music, in the characters. I am so glad I got the chance to see this live, in New York, with this particular cast. It’s an experience I won’t be able to exactly duplicate anywhere, at any other moment in time.

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Allegiance is only on Broadway until February 14th (Valentine’s Day!), so if you have the chance to go see, do it!

This post is partly inspired by this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Time. Check out more responses below:

REsolute, part Two.jpgWell, the first month of the year has come and gone. How are you doing on those resolutions you made at the start of January?

For me, I’m actually doing okay. I think the one resolution that I haven’t been keeping very good track of is my resolution to get a clearer picture of what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I’ve written a lot of journal entries about it, and I’ve been tossing around ideas, but I don’t feel like I’ve been making solid progress.

Which, in this case, is perfectly fine! Figuring out what to do for the rest of my life isn’t going to happen all at once, and it’ll probably take some time anyway to realize something solid. But as long as I keep working at it, I’ll be alright.

This week in Backseat Freshman, Aaron gives Maura some advice on how to make her resolutions stick. It’s great advice in general about how to go about making progress in whatever you set your mind to. Check it out and make good on those New Year’s Resolutions!

P.S. If you don’t know what Backseat Freshman is, it’s a collaborative vlog channel between Aaron and Maura, two siblings talking about college and life in general. Check them out and subscribe!

P.P.S. It has become an unspoken rule that I post every Tuesday, and sometimes Friday, but yesterday was an exceptionally busy day and I didn’t get a chance to put this post together. So in case it completely upset the rhythm of your life (unlikely, but hey, you never know), I apologize for posting on Wednesday!

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It’s very easy for me to stop myself before I even get started. It’s very easy for me to shy away from social situations and make up excuses. It’s very easy for me to not do something new, even if it’s something that I know that I want to try.

But I’ve found that as long as I can break something down into small, individual tasks that are entirely doable, and gradually build up to something, I can get past the anxiety. I give myself something to look forward to, even something as simple as getting to check off boxes on my many lists.

In my Hobonichi Techo, at the bottom of the first page of the new year, there is the following quotation:

The writings that archaeologists decipher from ancient ruins in Egypt, China and Mesopotamia are the same as the trivial notes we scribble down every day. They are meant to say, “We’re here, living our lives.”

—”Safety Match’s Fireplace Chat”

My planner and my journals have become my beacons of optimism. In them I write out my daily tasks, observations, and aspirations for the near to far-off future. I fill the pages with the small parts of my life that accumulate into the larger whole, something I won’t be able to see clearly and entirely until I have some hindsight. The sheets are filled with simple acts, and they’re all saying “I’m here, living my life.”

For me, that is enough.


This post was in response to this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimistic. Check out more responses below:

Last week I posted a quick explanation of what WWOOFing is to Food Forests Forever. Please check it out when you get the chance!

Food Forests Forever

“WWOOF” stands for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” [2]. Essentially, to WWOOF is to volunteer on an organic farm, and in exchange you get food, accommodation, and sometimes a small stipend to supplement living expenses, depending on what the host farm has to offer [3]. It isn’t necessary to have any prior experience working on an organic farm; many farms are open to newcomers and are willing to train people on the spot.

There isn’t a single organization that lists all organic farm opportunities, but many countries with a large number of organic farms often have a central site that lists all opportunities. The Federation of WWOOF Organizations lists all of the main websites for each country [1]. WWOOF Independents lists organic farms that are not affiliated with a national website. (For example, if a country does not have enough locations to have a complete website…

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Thoughts from

Real talk: San Diego isn’t a place I would want to spend the rest of my life.

Last month I visited San Diego for three days and two nights for a conference with my workplace. As fun and interesting as my first science conference was, and as glad as I am that I got the chance to travel and experience new things on the job, the city itself seems to be built only for tourism and conferences, and nothing much else. It was beautiful, but in the way an amusement park can be considered beautiful.

Every time I go somewhere new, I have a refreshed sense of appreciation for New York. In New York, you can fall quickly into a more natural rhythm, find authenticity, even through the glitz and glamour. I feel like I better understand now what Margo Roth Spiegelman says when she describes Orlando as a “paper town.” San Diego, from my limited experience, is a bit of a paper town.

But this bias for New York might stem from the fact that New York is my first real home, the first place I chose to make my home. Because of that, it will always hold a special sway over me, will always have my loyalty, even when I make my home in other places.

I do want to travel more, I do want to see what’s out there and learn about the world. There is so much to explore, and I’m acutely aware that I have not seen enough of it. When I visited San Diego, I did my best to not stay in my hotel, to walk down the streets and take in the views of the water, look into all the shops, and sample some new food that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy back home. (By the way, I had amazing truffle tortellini at Double Standard in the Gaslamp Quarter, and I crave it every so often.) For all its paper town-yness, I was determined to take as much as I could from the city.

And ultimately, I did. I spent my time sitting in cafes, reading and writing for a few hours and observing the people who passed by. I went out on my own during the downtime between work events, walked around, took pictures, and listened to music, things I enjoy but haven’t done in a while.

I’ve had this idea in my head that when I travel, my trip has to be a frenzy of divine inspiration and life-changing or affirming events. But these things don’t always come in leaps and bounds. Life experiences aren’t all explosive and obvious. The simple act of doing something familiar in a different area can be enough.

That’s what San Diego was for me. It’s a paper town, but I did what I could to fill the page in the way I could — with writing and pictures and doing things I do on the east coast, and do it instead on the west coast.

And that was enough.

Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions have become a little kitschy among my friends and family. No one is as excited about committing to changes in the next year as much as they are glad that they made it through the previous one. But taking advantage of this mild reset at the beginning of the calendar can help stabilize some things, and provide a steady launchpad into the great unknown of these next twelve months.

So no, I don’t have resolutions like “Lose ten pounds” (though I do want to lose a little weight for personal reasons) or “Stop holding grudges” (because that particular vice of mine is going to take a lot longer than twelve months to eradicate). But I do have some expectations.

And here they are.

I want to socialize more.

I consider myself to be the introvert to end all introverts. I prefer having a small group of close friends rather than a large circle of friendly acquaintances, I thrive on uninterrupted alone time, and being in the middle of a crowd (that isn’t a march or protest) fills me with anxiety.

But I also understand the importance of being social, of connecting with others regularly and checking in on people that I care about. I don’t think I did a very good job of that in 2015; while I did spend time with other people, I took any chance there was to back out of a social engagement. And I recognize that that’s not exactly a good thing.

This year, I want to be better about spending time with others, in any capacity. Whether that’s inviting friends over more often or eating lunch a few times with my coworkers, I want to spend more time with other people.

I want a clearer picture of what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

I’m in the middle of my so-called “quarter-life crisis” and I go through this sinusoidal wave of flying high on being proud of how I’m handling my life so far and crashing suddenly, thinking that I haven’t done a lot with my time so far.

Thinking about “the rest of my life” is something that’s been burning slowly at the back of my mind, but this year I want to amp it up a notch. I want to have concrete options to consider, and few enough of them that I’m not utterly paralyzed by the endless possibility. And I want to be in a position to make progress on these options.

I want to build up good habits.

I certainly have some bad habits that I want to break (like buying lunch at the office or reading Captain America fan fiction when I have three library books to finish in three weeks), but rather than try and break the bad habits I have, I want to instead transform them into good habits.

Instead of telling myself I’ll stop ordering out at lunchtime, I’ll set up a system to incentivize me to bring food from home. Instead of telling myself that I’ll stop reading fan fiction (because that’s not going to happen), I set up my Goodreads 2016 challenge to get me to read more books. Et cetera.

2016 is going to be a great year.

I am excited about the twelve months to come, and I already have my planner all set up with some exciting events. I look forward to sharing what I can on this blog!

Happy New Year!

2015 was a huge year filled with a lot of great experiences that helped me grow. This past year, I tried to keep my blogging fairly regular, posting once or twice a week (and doing one Blog Every Day challenge), and I did my best to capture as many of these memories as possible.

Here are the highlights.

January

I started January off with a bang. I started Food Forests Forever in earnest, and got into the groove of having a regular routine. Winter was cold, but I didn’t let that stop me from really starting off the new year on the right foot.

February

In February, I continued blogging regularly, and I attended a few Free Fridays concerts with the New York Philharmonic. February was really a month of immersing myself in things I really enjoy, like writing, baking, and live music.

March

March was hectic with work, since we had a pretty big project and were quite understaffed. However, we pulled through it. Also during March, I had a lot of awesome food moments, including baking a pie for Ultimate Pi Day!

April

In April, I wrote a blog post every day, and visited Washington D.C. to see The Young Turks at the Newseum. Also during April, I got the chance to see Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers (as well as other YouTube musicians) live in New York City! It was an awesome night.

May

In May, I turned 23, and paid a visit to the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. The warmer weather was perfect, and it was a great birthday month.

June

During June, I got well acquainted with Central Park through my regular morning jogs around the Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy Reservoir and just walking around and exploring the park. Also during June, I saw the last Free Fridays performance of the season, which was Joan of Arc, featuring Marion Cotillard!

July

During the month of July I spent my time trying my hand at plant propagation with a mint plant I received from a coworker. Though it happened pretty late during the summer, I got the chance to learn a lot of do’s and don’ts for this upcoming planting season.

August

During August, I spent quite a bit of time studying for the GRE. However, when I wasn’t doing that, I got the chance to explore NYC again, through the annual Summer Streets weekends and taking some time off work to see some parts of the city I had never been to before.

September

During September I did take the GRE, but in addition to that, I spent some more time in different parts of New York City. In particular, my friends and I got to visit City Island for a day and spent the time away from the hectic streets of Manhattan.

October

By the time October rolled around, I was actually pretty set in a good routine of getting stuff done for Food Forests Forever, writing, and other things I’ve been wanting to improve. I also got the chance to meet up with an old friend from high school and spend an afternoon in Koreatown.

November

November was the month of my NaNoWriMo frenzy, and I ended up winning this year, which was honestly unexpected! More than that, though, I didn’t let my routine fall apart, and I instead found a way to work writing into my everyday activities. Also, my friends and I had our Thanksgiving celebration with a lot of great food.

December

About halfway through December I actually got the chance to go to San Diego for a work conference, which allows me to add another place to my “Places I have visited” list. Also during December, I got into the holiday spirit, probably more than I have in recent years. And these past few days I have been baking like crazy, just because I enjoy it.

And what will 2016 bring?

I’m really looking forward to 2016. Though this past year has had its ups and downs as usual, I feel like I really did my best to “live life to the fullest,” as it were. It was my first full calendar year of not being a student, and at this point I think it’s really sunk in that I am an adult. It’s a bit of a terrifying idea, and my youth suddenly feels like this wonderful privilege, but with a rapidly approaching expiration date.

But being an adult is not all bad. I’m still learning how to navigate my responsibilities with more finesse, but I’ve got the general pattern down. I’ve finally figured out an organizational structure that I like, that actually motivates me to complete my tasks, and it’s probably one of the most important things I learned in 2015.

And there are a lot of things I’m excited for in 2016! I can’t wait to share it all (or as much of it) on this blog. Thanks for the memories in 2015! See you all next year :)

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I’ve never been one to really revel in busy days. My natural pace is a bit more languid, and though I enjoy the feeling of getting a lot of tasks accomplished in one 24-hour period, I enjoy the feeling of getting things done at my own, slower pace even more.

But, sometimes it can’t be helped; life gets busy, and during these times it’s more important than ever to focus on the awesome things in life.

Like these cupcakes.

Saturday evening was the annual Secret Santa party with my friends, and I got the idea in my head to make red velvet and matcha green tea cupcakes. (Because red and green are festive; it took a while for everyone to get that the holiday theme was what I was going for with this particular combo.)

I ended up with 32 cupcakes: 16 red velvet and 16 matcha green tea.

The party itself was great; lively conversation, awesome gifts, and we ended up watching Love Actually near the end (my third favorite Christmas movie). Everyone brought their own snack and drink contributions, and it was really enjoyable to spend time with people over a shared meal. No matter how busy the days have been lately, it was worth it to have those few hours of spending time with everyone.

Plus, now I have this surplus of cupcakes which will help satisfy my sweet tooth throughout the rest of the week.

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering on The Daily Post. All images in this post were taken with a Samsung Galaxy S6.

The average age of farmers in the US is at around 53 years old, so it’s critical that we try and get young people into the farming profession. However, there are many obstacles to becoming a successful farmer, from land access to managing the farm as a business, and it requires a tremendous amount of effort to make a living out of it. In this links round-up, I highlighted a few stories about the challenges that young farmers face, and feature a few organizations that provide much-needed support. Please check it out!

Food Forests Forever

In this round-up: The business side of farming, and the challenges to stay afloat.

Organic vs. conventional farming

The Costs and Benefits of Agriculture,” Danielle Nierenberg, Food Tank

In the US, the shift in agriculture to take on more industrial methods to meet the bottom line of maximizing profits has led to acts that threaten the sustainability of the food system. The adoption of monocropping, factory farming, and other intensive farming techniques makes the farming business precarious. This article takes into account the externalized costs that are often ignored in conventional farming businesses, and provides some ideas on how to move forward from here.

This land is someone’s land

Rent or Buy? The Beginning Farmer’s Rock and Hard Place,” Andrew Jenner, Modern Farmer

In order to make those dreams of being an organic farmer come true, you need the land to make it happen. Although the…

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A book I should read

I have never read Molly Crabapple’s writing (aside from her tweets), but this article makes me want to go out and pick up a copy of her memoir, Drawing Blood.

This quotation from the book was particularly powerful, and it has stuck with me since I read the article a few days ago:

Authority may have controlled the rest of my life, but in that four-cornered kingdom of paper, I lived as I pleased. There I was the actor, not the acted upon. When my mind turned in on itself, I drew anyway, learning that art can’t save you from pain, but the discipline of hard work can drag you through it.

Captain America: Civil War hype

The historic first black comic book superhero will be getting his own stand-alone movie in February 2018, but we’ll first encounter Chadwick Boseman’s warrior-prince on May 6 in the clash between heroes in Captain America: Civil War.

I am a huge fan of the Captain America movies (Captain America: Winter Soldier is currently my go-to movie when I want to have something on in the background while working at home), and I’m so excited for Captain America: Civil War. Adding to my excitement is the introduction of Black Panther into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this article gives a little glimpse into the importance of this particular character. I don’t know about you, but I’m hyped.

Revisiting some NaNoWriMo pep

NaNoWriMo is over, but I thought I would share one of the pep talks from this year. I read American Born Chinese during my freshman year of college (and I really wish I didn’t leave my copy at home!), and Gene Luen Yang is one of my favorite writers. His pep talk is full of great advice for sitting down and making yourself write, but here’s a teaser:

Tell Fear to shut up, at least in the beginning.

Fear is my main demon, my big boss at the end of the last level. When I’m writing, Fear tells me I’m getting things wrong. And sometimes Fear is right.

I’ve learned to power through it. Fear will always be there, a constant companion, a backseat driver who won’t get out of the car. I have to turn up the radio and go.

After I get to the end of my first draft, I let Fear have its say. Like I said before, sometimes it’s right. I try to get a friend I trust to corroborate Fear’s concerns, so I can figure out how to approach my revision. But before then, Fear needs to shut the eff up.

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