minute thoughts 12.6.16

Thoughts while studying a visualization of the ingredients in a "Hemingway Special" for future reference

1. I still have 2.5 months left in Singapore, but I'm already making a list of kitchen appliances I want to buy when I finally get my own apartment back home/when I have the disposable income to buy a KitchenAid mixer. On the list: cast-iron skillet, food processor, Crock-Pot, new blowtorch (how exactly does one lose a blowtorch? The world may never know), cooling rack, mini tart pans, and a VitaMix.

2. This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life. I can't even read the title without laughing. People who make things like this for absolutely no reason are my favorite kinds of people.

3. I deeply regret not traveling more in college, especially now that I work and it's so difficult to find time off (Singapore is actually one of the only countries in the world that has fewer holidays than the U.S.); I've booked a couple of trips while I'm here, but as easy as it is to travel within Southeast Asia, a weekend here and there isn't nearly sufficient to do everything I want to do. Honestly, there are so any places in California that I've never visited (Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, Sequoia National Park, Joshua Tree, Big Sur, Pismo Beach), and I wish I'd just taken a Friday off in my senior year and gone on a road trip with friends or something, instead of drinking in IV. Those are the kinds of life experiences that are worth everything; they become that one time I skipped comm lecture and drove seven hours up the coast and survived on Diet Coke and beef jerky and brushed my teeth at a gas station. I'd take that over an A on an essay, easily. I think you really have to make travel a priority. But on another note, keep an eye out for a quick travel tips post!

4. In the past three months, I've read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, and Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, three mystery books, as part of my summer reading list (I'm still not done, and it's December...very on-brand). And while I thought they were all excellently written, I was a bit disappointed by the actual mysteries. I won't spoil them, but my frustration was with all of the loose ends and unresolved elements in the plots. I think a good mystery should be one that you could potentially figure out yourself, with clues scattered here and there (it was these subtleties that made Gone Girl so incredibly genius), the kind you have to go back and read once you know the ending because you missed them the first time around. But I found the mysteries themselves lacking and the resolutions a little bit too convenient and wholly unsatisfying. Like dropping tiny little breadcrumbs for the reader along the way, only to surprise them by pouring a gallon of lemonade on their head.

5. Information is Beautiful. This is why I'm fascinated by data, why I'm thrilled to have a new social analytics tool to play with at work. With data, it's just a set of numbers, but you can extract so much information from them depending on your interpretation, like a treasure hunt.

6. As someone who knows a little bit of graphic design, it's very frustrating when non-design-oriented people don't understand the value of your work. One thing that makes me absolutely nuts is when people say things like "It'll only take two minutes," because it reflects exactly how little they know about a) the creative process and b) the logistics of graphic design. Or when people request creative work for ridiculously low amounts of money. I used to be annoyed when I had to pay $30 for a haircut, but doing freelance design/copywriting has made me much more appreciative. Artists are so undervalued. Not that I consider myself an artist, but I do sympathize.

7. I love this so much; it makes my heart so happy.

8. While I admittedly get very grouchy during rush hour, especially when people jostle me around on the MRT or walk too slowly because they're looking at their phones, I actually really like the hustle of the morning commute. People-watching is one of my favorite activities. I don't just like to observe them; I like to pick up on their little mannerisms and idiosyncrasies—the way they tilt their head while studying the MRT signs, the way they mindlessly adjust their shirtsleeves—and write their stories in my head, collect them for future novels. I like to imagine what their daily lives look like: what song is playing on a loop through their earphones, what their nervous habits are, whether or not they're superstitious, how they take their coffee, what their inner monologues sound like. I wonder if people look at me the same way. I wonder what kind of character I would be. Small Asian girl, wearing dark lipstick and a slightly annoyed expression, reading intently on what looks like a tiny tablet and walking like she's on a mission.

9. Anyone remember HitClips? Those tiny little devices that held microchips and when you plugged them in, they'd play a minute of some pop song? If you collected all of them, you were the coolest kid on the block. I remember having a bunch of them on a keychain: Aaron Carter, Britney Spears, Destiny's Child, the Spice Girls. Those were my jam. Even if they only lasted a minute. I think you used to get them in Happy Meals at McDonald's.

10. Baking is so therapeutic to me. My love of baking started as a family tradition, but now I do it on my own as a personal form of stress relief (as anyone who has ever lived with me or dated me can confirm). It's a process that can't really be rushed and you have to pay close attention to it, but there's something very comforting about it. Back in college, it wasn't unheard of for me to bike to 7-Eleven at midnight for butter so I could make cookies or biscuits in the midst of finals week. And I've realized it's the one thing I have patience for. I'm annoyed when I encounter unskippable 30-second ads on YouTube, but I will patiently hand-whisk eggs for French macarons or brown butter for dark chocolate peppermint brown butter shortbread (pictured) for half an hour without complaint. Especially brown butter. It takes some time, but it adds a lil extra something to any recipe and is very, very worth it.