Friday, October 5, 2012

Back to school

It's been one month since the start of the academic year. My classes are going really well, and I've found myself with a lot of extra free time because I've begun experimenting with a polyphasic sleep schedule where I sleep 4.5 hours each night with two 20 minute naps at 6 hour intervals. I haven't felt this inspired in a long time!

Here are two major things I want to do this semester:
  1. Start a podcast where I invite someone who is affiliated with Harvard for a 30 minute conversational interview and put the recorded interview online. The first issue I want to interview people about are about class differences.
  2. Start a wellness campaign where I spread awareness about polyphasic and segmented sleep schedules and the power of naps. Ultimately, I want to set up safe nap spaces around the yard where people can pop in and take a 20 minute nap.
If I can do these two things this semester, then I will consider my semester a success. Then I can start tackling the other projects that I have on my list, which are mostly coding projects or club related.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How many memoirs about Harvard are there?

So far, just two that I know of: "Penelope" by Rebecca Harrington and "That Book about Harvard" by Eric Kester. One of these books is more creatively titled than the other, though that doesn't say much considering "Penelope" is a book about a Harvard freshman named Penelope. Technically, "Penelope" isn't a memoir, but it is probably similar enough to Harrington's own freshman experiences that I'm going to consider it a memoir for the purposes of this post.

Interestingly, both authors graduated Harvard in 2008, both were involved in the Crimson, and both currently work for the Huffington Post. I'm sensing a conspiracy here.

Another fun fact about being a part of a publication at Harvard: Conan O'Brien '85 was president of the Lampoon and Jeff Zucker '86 was president of the Crimson (probably during the same years as each other). Fast forward about 25 years later: Jeff Zucker is CEO of NBC and Conan O'Brien is hosting a late night show on that same network.

Now, back to the books. I'm actually pretty interested to read these, seeing as my own freshman year was a roller coaster of emotions. My amazing academic and personal experiences were unfortunately counterbalanced by tons of social anxiety as I struggled to find my niche. I was just talking to my freshman year roommate about this last night, actually. We both came back from the summer with totally different perspectives on the upcoming year, but I'm losing my perspective a lot quicker than she is. It's only been two weeks, and I can already feel myself regressing to my freshman year mindset. Maybe these books will help me keep things in perspective.

Edit: And now a third. "A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano" by Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Takeaways from living in Los Angeles

“I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a big scale.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Ice Palace

Five things that helped me be happier:

1. Working out three times a week. Joining a gym with a tight community helped me get in shape and meet new people! Crossfit gyms are especially great because all the workouts are done in groups, and you generally see the same people coming to classes.

2. Going out at least twice a week. One of the best pieces of advice I read this summer is from Thought Catalog, and it goes like this: If you’re feeling depressed and you’re not sure why, there’s a 70% chance you just need to leave your apartment and be social.

3. Gaining a new skill. I wished I'd put more effort into learning how to code, but one fun cs project I did over the summer was the redesign of Harvard Fusion Magazine's website.

4. Talking to friends and family back home. It's easy to take them for granted, but they're the only people who will always be there for you when you're feeling down.

5. Reading self-help books and books written by comedians.

One website that might improve your LA experience:

One really important thing that I learned about myself:

I love living in the middle of a city. I love seeing the sides of skyscraper buildings glitter with lit office rooms. I love seeing a cluster of skyscrapers getting closer and growing bigger as I drive deeper into downtown. I love how the skyscrapers loom over me, making me feel so apart of the city yet so small in its history. I feel awe when I'm in a car going down the highway, and I see downtown rising before me. It's cheesy, I know, but I freaking feel like I'm going home.

One thing I wish I had done:

Stay as long as possible on the west coast. I went home on August 15th, which I now realize was horrible decision. I don't return to Boston until the 31st, which gives me almost a full three weeks at home. In that time, I could have couchsurfed through San Francisco or visited a friend in Seattle. I'm annoyed that I missed the chance to get more out of my west coast experience. From now on I will never spend more than a week and a half at home. I've realized that a week and a half is the perfect length of time to hang out with my family and friends while still being relieved to get out of the house at the end of my visit.

Three professions I would love to try some day

This post was inspired by the real life professions of three people in my Groundlings improv class. I've noticed that the people in my improv classes are not only really funny, but also have the coolest professions. Here are three I'd like to try some day:

1. Post-Production Editor for Playboy

Post production is the editing that takes place after a TV show, movie, or short film has finishing shooting. It involves cutting scenes, color correction, sound effects, and any other edits necessary to polish up the video.

The good part:

"I love my job," says Dawn, who works in post-production for Playboy, "I basically edit porn all day. And the people are so nice!"

The downside:

"My job is so boring!" complains Dawn. "I watch videos of naked women all day on a computer screen in a dark room. Nobody ever comes by. I'm practically starving for human interaction all day!"

I don't know what's true with her.

2. Production Assistant for Rupaul's Drag Race

Borges likes to think of himself as an old man. He owns a typewriter and wears a bathrobe at home. He has many seemingly random tattoos on his arms as a reminder of his younger days living with a tattoo artist and drinking a lot. I think he helps out on set. Lately, he's been editing the newest season.

His thoughts on his job: "You get really jaded. Now, whenever I see a hot woman walk by, I first assume she's a man. I've been burned too many times."

3. High Stakes Gambler
Lily is one of the few Asian females who plays poker at these $150 buy-in poker games. She got into poker after her boyfriend took her to a few tournaments.

Her thoughts on her win-loss ratio: "I know it's bad to say, but I haven't really been keeping track of my wins or losses. My boyfriend does that for me. I think I'm in the green though."

If it's possible to have controlled reckless gambling, then she's got it, and there's something strangely compelling about it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Takeaways from my internship

Advice for work:

1. At the beginning of the summer, make sure you set up the metrics of your internship with your supervisor. In other words, make sure you know what qualities will make you a good intern in the eyes of your boss. This will also help you think about the end product of the internship: what you get out of it, what you deliver to the company, and what standards work for you.

Important questions to ask include:
  • What are the deliverables? What are some tangible things I will bring to the table at the end of the summer? For me, these would include a written strategic and operational plan, research on potential grant makers, and a letter of inquiry for several local banks.
  • What is expected of me? This includes expectations for how quickly you turn in assignments, how you should approach asking for more responsibilities, and the expectations for coming into the office. I had really flexible hours and would often show up pretty late. My boss didn't say anything about it until the very last week, but by then it was already too late to change. 
  • What am I being measured against? How do I exceed the legacies of past interns? What do I need to do so that you consider me a successful intern at the end of the summer? 
2. Don't leave the office without asking your co-workers if there is anything you can help them out with. My boss actually praised me about on this during the mid-internship review. 

3. Ask to learn the skills you want to gain. If you don't know what skills you want to gain, ask to learn the most marketable skills. That ways, you at least leave with something desirable. If you're at a nonprofit and don't know what skill you want to gain, ask to learn about development. Development is generally the fundraising side. I've learned that I don't care for development. However, knowing how to write successful grant proposals is a highly desirable skill. The program side of a nonprofit is also a good place to start.

4. Ask for a mid-internship review and an exit interview.

5. Write a personal mission statement. This is a good exercise to figure out what you want to purpose of your internship to be. Also, it's a chance to ask yourself, what must be true in order for me to be happy at this internship? Then, make sure those factors which are critical to your happiness exist at your internship.

6. Make sure your organization is ready for your arrival. For example, I didn't get a key until the last two weeks of my internship, so I almost never knew when I was coming in; it always depended on who was in the office that day. They ordered a key two weeks after I arrived and the order was lost, so it took even longer than usual to get me the key. Some places really will forget to prepare certain things for the intern. I should have asked about the key situation in the email I sent them a week before the internship started.

What I learned:

I found that working at my particular nonprofit was a nice ease into the the working lifestyle because my hours were flexible and my deadlines were nebulous. However, I also didn't find the work particularly challenging. I was doing a lot of research that I felt like anyone could do. I also didn't feel like the work I did actually impacted the organization. I liked working on the strategic and operational plan because it would really shape the organization, but I couldn't see the impact as much when I researched potential funders. One thing my boss suggested I work on during the mid-internship review was seeing how the smaller projects I worked on fit in the 'big picture'. However, I often found that difficult to do, especially with the really small projects I was assigned. I suppose that's why I need to work on it more. I will not return to the nonprofit sector in the near future.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What I do for fun

This is specific to Los Angeles.

I'm so used to watching good comedy that's it's weird to see somebody bomb on stage. I don't normally go to a lot of stand-up comedy shows in Kansas or Boston, but I've gone to a lot in Los Angeles. It started as an accident actually. The building next to my crossfit gym happened to be the Downtown Independent, a movie theater that hosts weekly free stand-up comedy shows. I kept hearing the name, so when I saw an event that piqued my interest, I finally visited the venue. The comedy show they host is called Holy Fuck Comedy. 

Here are three stand-up comedy venues that you simply must visit if you're into comedy:

1. Largo at the Coronet

Bo Burnham performed here last month! I didn't go to any shows, but clearly good people perform here.

2. Laugh Factory

Sarah Silverman will be doing a show here this month with a few other comedians. Too bad I'll already be out of town when she performs.

3. Holy Fuck Free Comedy 

Tuesdays at 9pm at the Downtown Independent. It's a weekly comedy show. And did I mention that's it's totally fucking free? 

4. Meltdown Comics

The Meltdown is hosted at Meltdown Comics on Sunset. I actually just got back from it tonight. David Spade dropped by, which was awesome. He was really scruffy and self-depreciating, his humbleness making his set extra fun to listen to. 

Here are three improv venues you simply must visit, period:

1. IO West

I took classes here! The bummer is that their mainstage is 21+ because it has an open bar, but sometimes the bouncer will let you in through the back if you say you're a student and just there for the show. Or if the bouncer is not checking ID's really closely. Aside from the Mainstage, there's the Del Close theater and the Loft, but the Mainstage has generally funnier acts. 

2. Groundlings

The all improv shows are at 8pm on Wed and Thurs nights. Wednesday is more long form improv. It starts off with three suggestions, each of them spawning three scenes. After the initial three scenes, new scenes are created through tag-outs. Thursday is all short form improv. Games and lots of audience suggestions create the scenes in this show. Personally, I love short form improv, so I really enjoy the Thursday show. 

3. UCB

I’ve gone to the OKCupid show, ASSSSCAT, some improv experiment form with famous plays, and DC Pierson’s stand-up night.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Three things you should do in LA

The first step to meeting a woman, reveals world famous pickup artist Mystery, is to get out of the house. "Getting out of your house is one of the most difficult things do to for a lot of men, and when they go out they go 'in field'," explains Mystery to an incredulous Conan O'Brien, who promptly lampoons him for the rather intuitive piece of advice. Despite the obviousness of this reasoning, we may often forget to leave the house once we settle into some sort of routine, and we may forget how well this advice applies to things outside of meeting new people. 
After all, a night in is nice once in a while, but let's not forget that old song by Guy Lombardo in which he croons "enjoy yourself, it's later than you think!" in his song creatively titled Enjoy Yourself (It's Later than You Think). If you're in LA for only a summer, you better being making the most of your time here. In fact, no matter where you are or for amount of time you're there, you should be taking advantage. It's always later than you think.
I say we take things a step back. If getting out of the house is the first step to meeting a woman, the first step to getting out of the house is to get off the couch. This is an excellent blog I wish I had discovered earlier, but which I am paying much more attention to now: It's a list of fun places to visit in LA.

Aside from that, here are three things you should do in LA:

1. Be an extra for a movie! Actually, you should get involved with the industry in any way you can. I'm just suggesting being an extra because that's one of the easiest ways to get involved. Insider tip: some companies post their extras work on Craigslist. I met one person who was an extra for the Dark Knight Rises but found the job posting on Craigslist under the code name Magnum Rex.

2. Go clubbing! See the quintessential LA scene as portrayed in every Bret Easton Ellis novel. Experience sex, drugs, and apathy while searching for some sort of meaning in it all.

3. Combine both! Be an extra in a clubbing scene for a movie written by Bret Easton Ellis such as The Canyons.
Avalon in Hollywood. I really want to be there right now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How to avoid loneliness

1) Make new friends aggressively! 
Always be on the lookout for someone you'd like to see again. In a city like Los Angeles, if you don't reach out to someone you see once, you will probably never see them again. Don't be afraid to ask for their number or give them yours! After all, with all the ennui and decadence pervading Los Angeles, the person you want to befriend is probably as lonely as you are! There's nothing worse than getting someone stuck in your head and knowing that he'll be the one that got away. That guy you just met on the metro who lives in an art studio near where you live? Give him your number and trust that he'll use it wisely on account of his cool welsh accent and internship at a supposedly prestigious animation studio. The girl you just met at the gym? She has a cool voice. She's probably a cool person too. Be pleasantly surprised when these people actually seem excited to exchange digits. You are now on your path to overcoming shyness!

2) Go to the gym! 
When you exercise, your body produces endorphins. You know when else endorphins are produced? During excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm. Yeah, it's a powerful thing. It also makes it very difficult to think about anything sad or depressing. Join a crossfit gym and work out in a group. Focus on making it to the next move without collapsing of exhaustion. Feel better as your mind becomes a calm blank. Be pleasantly surprised when someone finds you cute despite the fact that you're sweating like a pig and not wearing any makeup. Wonder if it's only because he saw you from afar. You are now on your path to accepting your body!

3) Do online dating! 
Receive messages from all sorts of guys, ranging from totally creepy 40-year-olds to playful exhibitionists to people who actually seem really cool. Convince yourself that you're not desperate and this online dating thing is just something fun to do over the summer in order to meet new people, visit new places, and possibly get a free meal if the guy really knows how to treat a lady.  Mask the encroaching loneliness you feel with multiple first dates. Search for some kind of connection to fill the void. Be disappointed when someone you exchange long, epic messages with turns out to be a total dud. Be pleasantly surprised when you actually want to see someone again. Realize that none of these relationships are going anywhere and feel lonely again. Avoid dealing with this feeling with more dates. You are now on your path to denial!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I was crying even before the movie started

I was crying even before the movie started.

It was one of those shorts Pixar always shows before a movie. This one was about a boy, torn between his two grandfather-figure role models, symbolized by the way the boy wore his hat and the broom he used to sweep the stars off the moon. It was a short about finding your own person. My tears fell alongside the boy as he fell among the stars at the end.

In short, I was feeling emotional that day.

I'm not the kind of person who cries during a movie. Sure, I teared up after seeing the revolt scene in The Hunger Games, but I recognized it was the result of clever movie directors cruelly manipulating my emotions with sad music and heart-wrenching visuals. It wasn't genuine. Something had shifted before I watched Brave though. I had planned to go with friends, but those friends were late and never found me in the dark theater. I ended up sitting alone with two empty seats on either side of me. Maybe it was the physical isolation that made me feel comfortable enough to start crying, but truth is, it was the mother-daughter relationship depicted in Brave that did me in. 

The loneliness of living on my own and barely knowing anyone in Los Angeles filled me with an emotional isolation that made me homesick for the very first time in my life. The moment Merida realizes that her mom is the only one who was always there for her was the moment I broke down and bawled my eyes out. It made me think about how badly I missed my own mom. 

I had to leave my 3D glasses on just so I could make it to the bathroom without anyone seeing how puffy my eyes were and finish crying in peace, hidden in the privacy of a bathroom stall inside the El Capitan movie theater. I surprised even myself with my big gulping tears that started again just when I thought I had things under control. Right after, I met up with my friends looking like a high raccoon: all red eyes and smeared mascara.

Pixar knows just how to manipulate my emotions.
This is a pretty accurate portrayal of what happens when my mom starts warning me about drugs and alcohol.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Traveling anywhere is really about sleeping in the car

My parents visited me this weekend!!

They wanted to make sure I wasn't drinking, on drugs, going to bars, or getting mugged! Since I know they read this blog, I won't say whether I have or not. Just kidding. I really don't. You can stop worrying, mom.

We went to San Diego.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

You will take a risk in the near future and win

"You will take a risk in the near future and win" says the little slip of paper in my fortune cookie. It's a day before I leave for Los Angeles, and I'm being ultra superstitious. At the time, I took it as an auspicious start to my summer. When I got to LA though, I realized exactly what risk it was referring to: improv.

I went to see Harvard's short form improv troupe, On Thin Ice, so often freshman year that I secretly considered myself some sort of groupie. To them I was more like that weird quiet girl who was at all their shows but that no one actually wanted to meet.

Someone did notice how often I went though and suggested that I try out next year. Oh no, I couldn't do that I protested. I have no experience with improv: I have never been involved in a theater production or taken a drama class. All the experience I had was growing up watching inappropriate stand up specials on Comedy Central and wondering why my parents never blocked that stuff.

You know what, I thought, I'm in LA. You can't throw a shoe without hitting an aspiring actor, director, writer. No one even calls it the entertainment industry here, it's just The Industry. I might as well take advantage of these improv classes and meet a few actors along the way. With that, less than 24 hours after landing in LA, I bolted out of my loft and to the nearest improv theater that still had space in their class. That's how my weekly Sunday improv class at IO has become the thing I look forward to every week.

So remember: take chances y'all and stay golden. Also, believe everything your fortune cookie tells you.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Host Couchsurfers Sometimes

My loft mate has couch surfers over sometimes. Last week, we had a total of three staying. Here's what I remember of the experience:

One of them has a tree tattoo covering the expanse of her back. I see tree branches holding her shoulders up and supporting her neck though the honeycomb holes in her shirt. Mar makes us curry.

Another has shaved the sides of her head and pulled her mowhawk into a ponytail. Her hair is dyed turquoise. She goes by Tess Aquarium. I think of mermaids.

They have come from the bay area (San Francisco), where they work together on making clothing for a boutique called 
Spineret, a reference to silk-spinning organ of a spider.
I found Tess's look so unique that I had to share it here. These photos come from her Flickr stream.

Here are a few things I learned from the two:

  1. Open relationships are okay as long as both partners are in agreement about being in an open relationship. There's no need to get jealous. In fact, it is even okay to be friends with your partner's other partners. In open relationships, most people will have a primary partner and then a few secondary partners. 
  2. It is really cool to fashion glasses out of sunglasses. I can't believe I never thought to do that! If large frames are a trend, why not take that to the extreme and use sunglasses as the frames? It looks really interesting! Yes, those glasses pictured above are prescription.
  3. Everyone should go to Burning Man once. It will blow your mind. You will learn to be self reliant and feel more creative, in tune with nature, and do many, many drugs. For clarification, Burning Man is a week long event in Black Rock Desert where people of all kinds gather to participate in radical self expression and self-reliance. Self expression because many artists will get together to create really amazing structures to bring into the sites. Self reliance because you have to bring everything you will need for the week with you--including food, shelter, and water--and you're not allowed to buy/sell anything. At the end of the week, everything must be left as it was found. All structures and pieces of art are set on fire (hence the name), and people remove all traces of their short inhabitance. 
  4. The reason why Bella Swan is such a passive character is because in Mormon culture, women are conditioned to be submissive and consider marriage their greatest goal. 
  5. The combination of curry, rice, and vegetables make for a wonderful meal. 

If you're curious, here's a video compilation of some of the people and typical scenes of Burning Man:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Athletes must think I'm an idiot

Athletic people must think I'm an idiot. When I walk in the Intro to Crossfit class today, the guy teaching the class points at me and cries, "Hey! You already came to this class!"

"Am I not supposed to?" I ask. I am genuinely confused. I thought they taught something different at every Intro class. Isn't that the exciting thing about crossfit? That you never know what the workout will be because it'll be different every time?

"Well I don't know why you'd want to. You'll be listening to me say the same thing over again," says the teacher. I don't have a clever comeback for this, so I stand there and feel dumb. He's right though. I went to the Intro class at this nearby crossfit gym on Tuesday and again today. The guy teaching today's intro class introduces himself as Fish. Fish is more like a clown fish mixed with a judgmental shark. He makes a lot of clever comebacks at my dumb questions. At first I think my cluelessness is endearing but then I realize he actually thinks I'm stupid.

Strike one:

I jog to the gym, and when I arrive I am sweating excessively. As I'm waving my hands to cool myself down, Fish shoots me a weird look and asks, "Are you okay?"

"I'm just really out of shape," I say.

"From standing there?"

"No, I jogged here," I mumble.

Strike two:

We begin our warm-up for the work out. Fish tells us to leave through the front entrance, run around the side of the building and come in through the back door. Most everyone does that. I, of course, run around the whole building and come in through the front entrance. When I come back, everyone else is standing and waiting on me. 

Fish says, "You were supposed to come in through the back door. Did you run around the whole building?"

"Yeah, I'm bad at listening to directions," I reply in a sorry I'm not sorry tone of voice. It rubs Fish the wrong way because he gives me another one of his judgmental looks and says, "Yeah, I've noticed."

Excuse me? He's known me for less than two hours. I'm really not that dumb or socially awkward. Gyms just aren't my element. It's like if an athlete couldn't pronounce Nietzsche or said he didn't read if he didn't have to. I might think less of him but I'd only insult him behind his back.

Strike three:

"You need to come to Fundamentals classes, not Intro classes. You're really not going to get anything out of this class by coming to it again," says Fish.

"Um, is that, like, a bad thing?" I mumble, looking at the ground. I feel like a partially lobotomized valley girl. Fish doesn't even have a response to that. In fact, he walks away to talk to someone who can properly form sentences. 

I'm partially exaggerating, but I really did feel bad coming out of crossfit today.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What I'm actually doing this summer

I am working at a non-profit that deals with education in low income schools which I will refer to today as GRAND. The staff is very small and the hours are flexible. I don't have to go in until noon on most days, and I usually leave around five.

I do the tasks that I am given, and usually within days of being assigned these little odd jobs. Work is fairly easy, and each day is different because I am essentially given a new task every day. This is mostly because GRAND does not have a structured intern program. They only hire one intern a summer and have the intern do whatever GRAND needs at the time. The intern last summer worked on putting together a major charity event. This summer, a lot of my tasks have to do with research and more operational type projects.

For all intents and purposes, I am an unpaid intern. Thank goodness my summer here is actually covered by two different grants which are more than enough to cover basic living expenses as well as whatever else I need for a comfortable and entertaining lifestyle.

Here are a few personal side projects I want to do this summer:
  1. Code a simple database website with Brooke. Bonus points if we finish early and can start on a database of extracurriculars. 
  2. Write and submit at least one article for Thought Catalog. Keep writing, rewriting, and submitting to Thought Catalog until they publish one my pieces.
  3. Blog about the HBO show Girls.
  4. Read 50 Shades of Grey and How to Win Friends and Influence People

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I spy with my little eye

From my loft on the eleventh floor, I can see past the rising buildings of downtown LA all the way to the mountains, currently shrouded by mist and sunset. The loft itself is huge, and I am lucky enough to be sharing it with one of my best friends. I have been here for exactly one week, and I have another ten ahead of me. This past week has been a lot of firsts: first experience with couch surfers, first time at a goth club, first time at a spa, first time doing bikram yoga, first time cooking for myself, and the first time living on my own. 
 My loft, which I share with two others. Our dining room as seen from the kitchen. 
Our kitchen. My bedroom is through the open door. 

Goth clubs really aren't that intimidating

Goth clubs aren't as intimidating as I thought they'd be. One of my loft mates is a former-goth and took me to Das Bunker on Friday night. We drove there straight from a comedy show, so we had to change in the parking lot. My former-goth friend changed from jeans into a black patent leather skirt with chains and spikes on it. He also put a spiked collar around his neck. This same friend works as a personal tutor during the day and occasionally wears screen printed pink shirts. 

Inside is like any club: three dance floors with small bars in each of them. There are two platforms with poles jutting out of them and seating around them on the left and right sides of the room. One of my girlfriends immediately climbs on top of one of the poles and starts pole dancing. She's taken eight pole dancing classes and is eager to show off her skills. Her dancing is much different than the dancing of the handful of people below her. 

The club has just opened, and a few people populate the dance floor. One guy is spinning and jumping around in a style I imagine a fairy in the woods would. I see other people using their arms very creatively. Goths really seem to dance for themselves. Most people dance by themselves in styles that would be incompatible with anyone else, but there's a beat to the music and a definite pulse you can follow. 

In any case, you can dance safely in the knowledge that your dancing can't possibly be any weirder or more convulsive than the lanky guy covered in spikes next to you.

Or the girl with a cat tail sticking out of her leather tutu. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Life tip #3: undervalued necessities for the city

During the first week, I was woken up everyday by the sun streaming through, over and around the heavy brown curtains hanging over the many windows lining one of the walls in my room. That's when I congratulated myself on having the foresight to bring eye masks, if not the common sense to start wearing them until the fifth morning. 

If you live in a loft with tall windows, you should get an eye mask asap.

Another undervalued necessity for life in the city are earplugs. I have used them to avoid hearing honking cars outside, my libidinous loft mates, and the occasional crackhead commotion.

Nothing like highlighting problems with an alerting alliteration.

Life lesson #2: important things to know when moving in

Things to figure out first when moving into a new place:

1. Do you have all the keys you need?

For my loft, there were two keys I would need: one to get into the building and one to get into the loft. Even one day in I was going out and exploring the area. There's nothing worse than not having the freedom to come and go as you want.

2. How does the shower work?

This is something I didn't ask about until it was too late and my loft mates were already asleep. I couldn't figure out how to turn on the shower. I could turn on the water and get it going out of the shower faucet. But I couldn't find the switch that would get that running water to come out of the shower head. My first shower experience in my loft was pitiful. I ended up bending down and splashing small amount of water on myself. I definitely did not feel clean afterwards. Turns out there was a ring around the shower faucet that you had to pull down on in order to get the shower head working.

3. Where do you throw out the trash?

Okay, not an issue as pressing as the other two. But still an important thing to know. I hate having the trash pile up; it's disgusting. So it was important for me to know where to throw things out. For my loft, the community trash can was in a utility closet in the hallway.

4. Where do you do laundry?

This one I only found out two weeks after I moved in. I have a bad habit of not dealing with things until I have to or until some magical intervention happens where I find out things without having to first put in any effort. I find that such serendipity only makes me more sure my habits are for the best.

Life lesson #1 : all the [adjective] kids sit in the back

When you have open seating on an airplane, you should always sit as close as possible to the front of the airplane. You will not only be the first to get out but also avoid the surprisingly large concentration of kids in the back of the flight. I don't know if parents have this innate instinct to sit in the back, if they figure they will have more space in the back or if the sound of crying will annoy fewer people if their kids are in the back, but it all turns out the same.

At first, you will be tempted to wait to claim a seat because you think you see more window or aisle seats near the back. As you get closer, you will find what looked to be empty seats are actually filled by little kids, too small to have been seen from the front. By then, it is too late. Most likely at this point you have to sit between two people anyway. Even worse, you will be surrounded by babies and children. As the rule of planes goes, there will be that one child who screams intermittently, just as you are about to fall asleep.

I sat between two guys who looked to be a few years younger than me, and slept between bouts of screaming from the kid sitting directly behind me. It was annoying, but only in the way it's supposed to be.
© Yuqi Hou
Maira Gall