it’s FRIIIIDAY

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Happy (almost) Weekend lovelies! I’m excited to be back in Chicago after a week in the middle of nowhere Indiana. I don’t have any rigid plans for the weekend other than continuing to apply for jobs and enjoy the last month of summer. I rather enjoy taking it slow on weekends and having the ability to soak it all in. What about you? Any fun plans this weekend? 

To start your weekend off right here are some links I want to share with you:

One of my favorite Feminist Tumblrs

These charred corn crepes look AMAZING

Some pretty cool, thought provoking summer reads 

The very worst thing on the internet right now

I’m totally obsessed with Orange is the New Black

You all should be reading Virgie Tovar’s Blog

and finally:

A RECIPE FOR THAI ICED TEA (i’m excited)

Have a great weekend all!

On Traveling

I was never into the idea of traveling for much of my life. The idea of packing, unpacking, navigating around a destination, and staying in a new place always deterred me from it.  While most of my friends spent semesters abroad in college I stuck around Chicago, a place I was determined to never leave (like EVER). Even when my best friend spent a summer in Germany and I cried because I had nobody to hang out with, the idea of traveling still seemed like an awful task (like running).

And then I met my travel partner.

Here I was, dating a person whose personal goal was to travel as much as they could while in grad school and I hadn’t stepped out of the midwest in 5 years, a combination set up for failure surely. But the best thing about dating Chad was that he was constantly challenging me to step out of my comfort zone (and still is). Suddenly, traveling didn’t seem so awful, I was just missing my perfect traveling partner this whole time. I knew I was in love with Chad long before we started traveling together, but after a trip to Portland (that also involved my best friend and her love) I knew I was in it for the long run.

So, after 5 years, and one semi-failed vacation, Chad and I have obsessed over the art of successful travel. These things tend to make our trips a bit easier and more enjoyable.

1. Have a schedule, but not so rigid that you’re going to freak if you don’t stick to it. It’s just nice to have an idea (in some sort of documentation) of what you want to do.

2. Use the app, HotelTonight, for really awesome discounted hotels. The app curates a small group of specialty and regular hotels and puts them up for booking at noon the day of. We have had great success with them and stayed in some hotels that we would never be able to afford normally. This route may not be the best for the overly anxious. In the past we have booked a room for most of our trip beforehand and then used the app the last day, to make the trip extra special. Also, HotelTonight, has definitely saved our butts during unpredictable road trips.

3. Try to figure out what you’re doing by neighborhood. Planning geographically allows for you to really enjoy a neighborhood and feel a bit like a local. Walk as much as you can, otherwise you can miss some really awesome hidden gems.

4. Do not let Yelp rule where you eat. Yelp is an awful thing to base an experience off of. Rather, go to a cafe and ask a barista where you should eat/drink/experience. Also, tip kindly.

5. Before your trip, ask your trustworthy friends if they have been to your destination and see if they have any recommendations.

6. Go on some sort of public transportation if the destination has it. Seriously.

7. If you jam pack your trip with things you want to experience, you might miss out on being present. So, don’t worry about getting the best instagram shot or seeing everything at once. Just be present.

8. Lastly, try to get to a photo booth. It’s a great takeaway that you’ll have to always remember the trip (even if it’s a bust).

from a previously anxious traveler to one who seeks out new adventures (within reason)

from a previously anxious traveler to one who seeks out new adventures (within reason)

On Coming Home

Home is such a weird concept. What makes a home?

I always thought Chicago is my home. It’s where I’m from. Where I spent most of my life. It’s the city that I have come back to after leaving for 4 years.

It’s funny how things change while you’re gone. Now that I’m home, I’m realizing how much the idea of “home” is different for me now.

I don’t have family in Chicago anymore and no family home to take all of my crap to. I don’t have my old bedroom to crash at while I figure my life out.

Most of my childhood friends have moved to other areas of the country and most of the establishments I used to frequent are gone or something else (mainly turned into Chipotle’s and Potbelly’s).

So, not a lot feels the same.

However, there are things that make this city feel like home.

The friendliness of passersby who say “hello” as you walk past them on the sidewalk, the cicada’s chorus at night, the screeching of trains on old el tracks, the uneasiness of driving down streets that have been abused by harsh winters and sweltering summers.

I feel like a bit of a tourist in my own city when I have to open up Google Maps on my phone to direct me to places or not remembering where I can transfer from one train line to another. But when I drive down streets and memories of my father and I come flooding back to me I’m taken back to a feeling of home.

Home is not a place, home is a feeling. And you can feel home anywhere.

Where The Fat Girls At? On Body Image in South Korea

I was waiting for my mom’s flight to arrive at SFO, she was flying in for my graduation and then we would embark on a three week trip back to Seoul, her current location. My nerves were going all crazy, mainly because my mom makes me nervous and I had consumed a stupid amount of coffee beforehand. When she walked through the gate, past customs, I started crying. My mother was here for my college graduation, something that seemed like it would never happen, and seeing my mom is always a constant reminder that she is the only parent I have, a hard pill to swallow. After a long embrace, some hard slaps on the back (a sign of Korean parental love), and a few hand squeezes we walked to to the car. The conversation that I was dreading soon started, “You didn’t say anything about my face!” she exclaimed. My mom had recently gotten laser surgery to “erase” some age spots and she was quite happy with the results. I turned and examined her skin, “OH! looks so smooth, like baby skin!” Silence ensued during the drive back home and then out came, “Your arms are so fat. Like your aunts. Aiya!”

This conversation continued on for the next three weeks.

Things about my mom we should note: She’s never weighed more than 120 in her life, even during pregnancy. She loves to tell people this. 

So, my mom has always been like this and even though it’s hard to deal with, I just let it go and move on. Sure, it’s totally fucked with my own ideas of health (cigs and coffee are great meal supplements!) and I know more now. I eat whatever the hell I want. 

But there was something different about my mom now, weight held such power over our conversations that nothing else could be talked about. Once we got to Korea, I totally got it. 

On our first day out we decided to go shopping at a local outdoor market. This meant an hour, 3 transfers long subway ride. We settled down in our seats and as I scanned around the car I noticed how many women were looking at their reflections in the window and their cell phones. At one point one woman busted out a handheld mirror. Were not talking compact mirror, think the mirror from Beauty and the Beast. I saw this happen EVERYWHERE and on a daily basis, in a Starbucks, on the street, at the mall. 

In addition to these events, I found several weight loss advertisements on the subway. But more than weight loss programs, plastic surgery was the number one culprit. Plastic surgery is so huge in South Korea and everyone acts like it’s no big deal. I had read this article on Jezebel about plastic surgery in Korea a couple months before my trip and had mixed feelings about it. 

Western beauty is such an ideal in Korea and success is measured in how well you achieve it. In Korea, my body is fat. I can’t fit into most of the clothes, XL (the largest size) is too small for me. My mom made me wear loose fitting clothes that made me look like I was wearing a tent. However, most times when I met someone new, they would say how beautiful my face was. At first I didn’t quite understand why, I wasn’t fully Korean nor do I display any “Asian” physical qualities. And then I understood how my race played into the equation after seeing one too many TV programs. At birth I had achieved the beauty ideal that most of these women were playing into. I had “american” eyelids, a big enough nose with an actual bridge, and a slimmed down “v-shaped” jawline. It was a startling realization. While I was in Seoul, I had emailed my old boss from an internship at About-Face telling her all of the things I had discovered during my trip. She emailed me back with a link to an episode of This American Life where an American teacher shares their experience with body image among Korean high schoolers. Everything I had heard, I had witnessed. I wasn’t crazy! I’m not saying that femme’ing yourself up is a bad thing, femme it on up! But if i’m not, and not going to lengths to be this way, there should be nothing wrong with that. Jobs should be widely available to you and nobody should doubt your ability to be a member of society if you’re fat. 

Towards the end of the trip I started to get frustrated. I wanted to see people loving their bodies, embracing what they’ve got or lack of. I would walk down the streets asking myself, “where are the fat girls?” Cause I wanted to hang out with them, not with my family who kept body shaming me and my cousin. 

I think that this push for weight loss, plastic surgery, and beauty ideals comes from a long time internalized effect of colonialism. This shit doesn’t happen automatically or overnight, nor does it occur in a vacuum. People are taught that the less space they take up, the better you are. You can almost be a ghost, weaving in and out of the world, and the less someone notices you the more success you have achieved. There is something so powerful in taking up space, literally and figuratively. Now, I am not advocating for anyone to go to Korea and save these poor women. My point is that beauty and body image happen differently in different spaces and that we should ask how race and colonialism play into this equation before we start pointing out how “bizarre” this is.

 

On dropping off the face of the (blogging) world

So. Where did I go?

In the past 3 months my life has changed quite drastically and my day to day routines, such as blogging, flew out the window with these changes. 

In the past 3 months I:

-graduated college

-went to Korea for 3 weeks to visit my mom

-packed up my life in Oakland

-went on an epic week long road trip through 8 states

-moved to Chicago 

Trust me, it was a lot to do in 3 months (more like 2.5 months actually). And with every event there was a blog post in my head. 

I’m back folks! And there’s a lot to say!

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an ode to the high school teacher

I went to a high school located smack dab in the middle of the northside of chicago. Its student population was extra large in comparison to many other city high schools. and was also known as “the school of champions” for generations. it failed students in so many regards. Teachers were overworked, underpaid, given ridiculous restrictions, and were expected to raise test scores. Attendance was a bigger issue than actual education to most, but not all.

I actually loved my time in high school. I made terrible decisions and often didn’t listen to the advice of my teachers. My grades were mediocre, something that I am not so proud of now. Friends were a huge priority and having fun was the biggest priority. This isn’t to say my high school career was always fun, almost half of it was spent in the hospital with my dad. There were classes I loved (mainly history & art, also that one year of chemistry) and classes that I hated. But if I liked the teacher, the subject matter didn’t mean so much. 

As I’m writing a final paper for my last class of my undergrad career, I can’t help but reflect on the high school teachers that shaped my worldview. They all encouraged me (& others) to speak up when I felt something was unjust and told me the truth, albeit hard to take. These teachers were the beginning formations of my social justice focused life. Little did I know that these small moments would forever live with me, well into my years as a Women and Gender Studies major. 

So, in true fashion of missverasays, here are some shout-outs to the teachers that helped me in more ways than they may know, even almost ten years later.

Mr. Harris: Freshman year, we were forced to take communications classes, to develop our reading and writing communication skills. Mr. Harris, facilitated critical thinking conversations among 35 fifteen year olds and did it well. At the beginning of the year, he took photos of everyone in the class, posted them on the wall with speech bubbles with clips of comments each student had made in class. Mine said something along the lines of, “I don’t believe in war. Violence can’t be the answer.” Mr. Harris encouraged students to express their opinions on different topics, but we had to do it well, and while we could disagree, we had to do it respectfully. Shout out to you Mr. Harris!

Karen Lewis always told me the truth in every aspect of my life. Aside from having her as a teacher, Ms. Lewis would let me sit in her classroom during lunch and listen to all of my complaints about adolescent life and then tell what’s really up. I hated her honesty at certain points, and she could break it down for you like nobody else. Her honesty though, has stuck with me for years and is a trait that I have taken with me and utilized in my own social justice work. Ms. Lewis also taught me that when things are unequal, unfair, and unjust, communities and folks have got to come together and speak up. Without this, who is going to know what’s going in? Shout out to you Karen Lewis!

Shout out to every Art teacher that I had in high school, especially one, Amy Moore. Arts are seen as the programs that can easily be cut because they don’t give students utilitarian skills. Also, it adds nothing to test scores. Ms. Moore took this mentality and turned it on its head. She took our program and made it legible to every other school in the city, mostly by winning crazy amounts of awards at competitions. Ms. Moore stayed late and kept the studio open to have students keep working on their art projects. Shout out to Ms. Moore and her commitment to students!

Shout out to Mr. Drajpuch & Ms. Bradish: Thank you for not sugar coating history. It’s a hard topic to teach, with all of it’s downfalls. You two were honest and real. Both of you taught me that there is always more to the story, and goes beyond what you read. Shout out to you two!

Basically, shout out to any high school teacher that sticks to it. I’m sure you made a difference to a student at some point. Kudos to you all. 

it’s FRIDAY.

I hope that when you read my all my caps yelling, you imagine Oprah yelling. I am also sitting in a very cold cafe as I write this and I’m imagining Oprah yelling, “IT’S FREEEEEZING IN HERE”.

So, like every other blogger out there I’m turning Friday into a great link round-up. It will be filled with things to entertain you while you avoid actual work on a Friday.

+The New Girl and Feminism. I’ll take it!

+Jimmy Kimmel and some dum-dums at Coachella. This interview is totes the best.

+Science vs. Dove: The “Science” behind the Dove ad that has gone viral.

+Beer Battered Fried Olives. Self-Explanatory.

+Oakland and Gentrification. It’s complicated.

+Food Critic Pug. COME ON!

On finding friendship in unexpected places

I have AMAZING friends. I really do and everyday I am so thankful for those friendships.

Today, I would like to give a shout out to those friends that I have found in the course of my part-time work at childcare centers, retail stores, and restaurants. They are real, genuine friendships with people who, without these jobs, I most likely would have never met.

THANK YOU PART-TIME JOBS. These folks have seen me at my most stressed out, fragile state. They have found me frozen with my eyes bugging out of my head begging to “please, take this child out of my hands.” and  crying “I forgot to put table 13’s food in!” (btw, thanks Laura) and yet after all of this, they still wanted to be my friend. While we may not share the same political views or even the same interests, true friendships have arose from these jobs, in the most unsuspecting places.

These people, the ones who serve you your food and console your child while you’re in your spinning class, are wonderful people. They are artists, musicians, community organizers, life coaches, scholars, change makers, politicians, and counselors.

I’m thankful for the experiences that I have had while working these part time jobs and mostly thankful for the friendships that have grown out of these jobs.

Special shout-outs to: Chadwick Flores, Jeffrey Nolish, Justin Flores, Sierra Wendt, Mike Morales, and Laura Olson. I just outed you on the internet for being a good friend.

 

 

 

On peanut butter

Happy Friday folks!

My usual morning routine consists of reading online news outlets, updating various social media platforms, and checking up on my favorite food blogs.

Today was an usual morning as both of my favorite food blogs posted about peanut butter.

I HATE peanut butter. I think it’s a totally unappetizing form to which one can consume peanuts. I prefer them whole. Honestly, I think I might like peanut butter, but I haven’t eaten it in years and never really enjoyed it as a child. My mom doesn’t like it, so it was never an integral part of my school lunches. Kimchi, yes. PB & J sandwiches, no.

But this morning I bring you 2 awesome looking peanut butter recipes that you might want to give a try over the weekend. Let me know if you do make one of them, I’d like to hear the results.

Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies from A Cozy Kitchen

Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes from Joy the Baker

on yellow fever

Yellow Fever  : The fetishization of Asian people based on Orientalist views of the culture, usually this results in stereotyping Asian folks for erotic satisfaction, that reproduces racist, Orientalist ideas about Asia.

Hey , isn’t that awesome?! The first half of my academic career in undergrad was focused on what I called, “Asian Exploitation”, the exploitation of Asian culture for commodities, either in the form of people (dating services) or easily accessible foods that are mass produced for the placement in Western grocery stores, not meant for Asian folks themselves. So, when I saw this video circulating around the interwebs, my inner “Asian Exploitation” geek was intrigued.

Debbie Lum, the director of Seeking Asian Female, a documentary about one man’s search for the perfect Asian wife (read: mail-order), has created a short web-series, about Yellow Fever entitled, “They’re All so Beautiful”. It’s worth watching–the videos are short and simple. They get down to the point– Yellow Fever is racist, and really gross.