Sunday, December 2, 2012


I love this song:

Riversong by A Fine Frenzy

I laid down by the river’s edge
I laid down wondering where it led
I laid down by the river’s edge
And I woke up in a river bed

There were flowers in my hair
River flowers floating everywhere
And all the fishes came and kissed my feet
Dear old fishes, they said to me

They said oh, we could love you
But we are not yet what you want
Because oh, anyone could love you
You’ve got to find where you belong

All my needles, they were gone so fast
Not a needle left on a branch
I grew weaker
And the river strong
I said, hey fishes
But the fish were gone

Now the boulders
I know they heard me cry
But they were stone-faced
And they stood aside
So I went on at the river’s pace
With my eyes closed, I thought I heard them say

They said oh, we could love you
But we are not yet what you want
Because oh, we would only crush you
You’ve got to find where you belong

How does it feel
To be so certain
Without question
Of your purpose
Your position
Of your place
Of your home?
Of your place
Of your home

You cannot catch the river though
It makes you think you can
It trickles through your fingers
While you hold it in your hands
Just like I am

...listen to it here
(An interview of her is here.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

große Elefant im Zimmer

I can't stand it any longer.

Some of my friends are going through rough times and I don't know what I can do to help.
Today I just talked to one of my friends who is going through the worst time ever.
It was her birthday today.
It was the worst birthday she ever had.
Her studies aren't going well. She was sick and felt like poop.
And all I could do was sit next to her and listen.
I honestly didn't know how to reach out to her.

What scares me the most is when I have the opportunity to make someone feel even just a little happier and I don't know where to start.

Sometimes I'm so mad at the fact that sometimes this place demotivates people. And confuses them and makes them forget why they wanted to come here. They forget about the dreams they had when they first heard about MIT. The ideas that flooded as they wrote their applications. The anxiousness of waiting to hear back. The thrill of getting in. These are moments we all went through and an accomplishment we all celebrated. They weren't just moments - they are life-changers. We experiencing a phase in our lives that we all dreamed about and wished so hard for...

And then it fucks* us up. It makes us do things that aren't like ourselves. It makes us say things we regret. It makes hate ourselves and think we're worthless and undeserving. We forget about our dreams.
*sorry. you get the idea.

I'm a firm believer in dreams. All my proudest moments could only have been possible because I dreamed some part of them. Sometimes my realities surpass my dreams. It's freakin' awesome.
The fact is that we're all awesome. Seriously.
I've felt like a piece of shit many a times at this place, but at the end of the day, I'm insane if I keep thinking that way. If I expect myself to be perfect, I'll fall short. But if I give myself room to grow to become someone better, stretch my comfort limits and keep trying new things, stumble inevitably but learn from my mistakes, jump higher and set new goals, I can get through this in one piece.

I want to get to commencement in one piece. Furthermore, I want my sanity with me. But better yet, I want to be the person I imagined I'd be at the end of college. I want to be proud of me and look back and think, "Fuck yeah, this place was hard, but man, I did some amazing things here. And I'm looking forward to the rest of my life, which will be epic, thanks to what this place has prepared me to do."

And most importantly, I want all my friends by my side so I can celebrate that beautiful day with them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I hate succumbing to using the phrase "lol" but here goes.

Here's to all of us that have a million and one things to do everyday.
I don't know how we manage, but give yourself a pat on the back for getting through another day.


Sunday, November 11, 2012


Though I'm not Catholic, I'm going to begin this post with a series of confessions.

Confession 1: I haven't been to church in months.
Confession 2: Today I went to church and fell asleep for most of the sermon and mouthed most of the lyrics because I didn't recognize the worship songs.
Confession 3: From what I picked up from the pieces of me waking up suddenly from the sermon, the passage was from Luke about Jesus sitting with the tax collectors. Which made me feel a bit uncomfortable because in my current spiritual state, I see myself as the tax collector.

Maybe this is because of the nature of all sermons,  but sermons have the tendency of being pretty applicable to everyone in the room in some way. When the pastor kept talking about how we need to transmit the Word of God to all the "tax collectors" in our lives (which I kind of brushed aside because of Confession #3), I did feel selfish about my introspective thoughts. There were other people who had it much worse than me and I shouldn't tuck myself into my private bubble of stress. It was super unhealthy of me. And I started thinking that it was time to change my priorities in life...

But what really got me during the service was the last prayer.
During the pastor's prayer, he prayed that we would all get rest. Rest. Not sleep (though I badly needed that too), but rest
Rest - security from God and the constant reminder that God is taking care of you and it will be okay. As long as we do our part (or even if we just dropped the ball epically), God is there and He is good. 

I can't do life alone. Sometimes I convince myself it's possible, but life is so much better with God by myself. He is my Rest.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Oh My Lanta

 xkcd says it all.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Plan Z

What is self-fulfillment?

For the last, oh I don't know, 10 years of my life, I've been annoyed by the kids around me with elaborate life goals that almost sound like prophesies that they are determined to fulfill.

...what the hell?

How did they possibly know what they wanted to do so early in their life? I was madly jealous of them. I still am. I go to MIT - some of these kids have been dreaming of chopping up bacterial plasmids for the last decade of their lives!

But I stumbled upon (not literally) this New York Times article by a man who is now a professor at Georgetown in computer science and he claims that things like passion comes from investing time into a particular project or activity. No one has to know what they want exactly, but choose something and go with it and don't look back. It's unrealistic to choose something and be disappointed with it because you don't feel like it's your life calling. If you stick with something and invest enough of your time into it, you'll grow to care about it and love what you do, even if it's know according to your original plan.

Check out these beautiful words over here.

I think that applied pretty well to my life so far. MIT was not the school I thought I would end up in, and yet by senior fall of high school, it was my top choice. Engineering was not something I considered as a major until I started thinking more about MIT. (I was going to be pre-law!) And I didn't know what I would be invested in during my time here so far. Now I'm involved in quantum dot solar cell research and just gave a poster presentation on it. People came up to me and thought I was a senior. (I laughed really loudly which probably made them uncomfortable. My bad.)
So I'm not sure if the whole solar energy thing is going to work with my degree in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science. When everyone's trying to find the next hottest job (Google, QualComm, Intel, Microsoft...) and I'm looking at the less-publicized startups and consulting companies in alternative energy, I definitely feel like I'm taken the unbeaten path.
   Where will this lead? I sure as hell do not know.
   Will I regret not delving into a hotter field where there is more money? I've learned not to regret decisions I've made. It's so bitter and frankly, you feel like shit. Choose a direction you like and never look back. There's going to be rough patches in any path you take, and the grass is probably not much greener on the other side.

The other day, I saw a sticky that my friend had on her desk:
"Determination is knowing what you want."

For me, I don't know what I want yet, but I know I want to work hard and make the most of MIT. There's a certain law I follow in my head. [It's a law so I don't ever think about disproving it.]
1. If I want x, I expect to get it.
2. If I expect to get x, then I will work as hard as I can to get it.
3. I will get x.
4. Repeat.

There's also a law regarding MIT that I follow to suppress any doubts that what I'm doing is not severe masochism but simple self-discipline:
  I can handle anything post-graduation if it is not as bad as what I've endured during my 4 (or 5) years at MIT.
  A follow-up to that is: The harder the experience at MIT is for me, the more I can endure and survive in the real world.

Now, I don't know how naive or maybe simply stupid those laws are. But if you're an MIT beaver who has floated away from the MIT bubble, I request that you allow me to incubate in the MIT bubble for the entirety of my time here. My sanity and determination thank you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Play the Game.

You know what? 

I've been thinking more about whether the activities and classes I'm taking at MIT are really helping me get to where I want to be post-graduation. Which leads to me having to remember what I imagined for myself after college.

Don't worry, I still remember why I decided on MIT, which is a good thing to have in the back of my head during late nights like these.

Energy. That's where it all started.

When I was applying to colleges, the post-graduation picture I had in mind went a little like this:

After graduating from x college with a smashing (think Austin Powers) B.S. in Engineering, I am going to work on a start-up in energy conversion or energy storage. During my undergraduate years, my interdisciplinary interests in Materials Science and Electrical Engineering gave me all the tools, intel, and contacts to start a game plan for designing my own approach to the energy problem.
My start-up might help with building architecture to reduce energy consumption, or work into photovoltaics and focus on energy conversion, or invent a new technology for more efficient and powerful energy storage.
It's going to be hip and cool. And it'll be a cozy start-up with a few employees but we'll all work hard and bond. And sooner or later, people will start to realize what we're doing works. And then we'll start helping people. And we'll be happy.

I've realized that the problem (well, one of multiple) with that image is that the gap between any research and industrial applications of those research topics is GINORMOUS. Like bigger than the ass of the world's largest elephant (sorry, dude).
And so to do what I want to do, I'd be going into some PhD program, working on some really obscure technology that my friends will politely nod and smile about, and try and fail and occasionally succeed on a ton of experiments and publish (hopefully) papers describing a finding that will contribute to publicly familiar technologies 5-10 (optimistically) years from now. Scratch that, 5-10 years for it to be viable for or seriously invested by R&D in industry. Let's be real, it'll take more than 30 years for consumers to actually start hearing about what you did.
Call me immature and naive (if you do - email me so I know!), but that's a hell of a long time. Isn't there a faster way?

I could be a CS major and just get a software job that will have gratifying results in months versus decades. A lot of my friends are going that route and it's so tempting sometimes...
But it's not the same. And I really want to be on board this energy thing.

Why must life be hard. But in all honesty, it's not too bad. I got a research project that I like. And people that are driven by similar thoughts around me. My friends are awesome and we laugh at the weird stuff each of us say. And we have the time and resources to be thinking about our own ambitious post-grad plans. We're sophomores with actual major-related courses. And getting considered for internships and all that fun stuff. The things I stress about are upcoming tests and presentations. Which is pretty normal and good stress.
And I have all my limbs. So life's not bad at all.
In fact, the game's going all right. I may not be cruising, but I'm moving.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Full of Grate.

Yeah yeah it's not Thanksgiving, but this list's long overdue:

1. Smiley people. I swear, smiles are the greatest things ever. Just a simple smile can relieve all my stresses for maybe even just an instant, but that's powerful. And I never forget smiles. Seeing/spending time with a smiley person can keep me bubbly all day :)

2. My family. I love them so much. And I've definitely taken them for granted so far this semester and turned down their calls to do homework. So shameful, and I've got to stop. My family will always be there for me, but I want to always be there for them too.

3. Joining a sorority. What kind of MIT girl joins a sorority? Well this one did, and I may rag on it from time to time, but I've learned so many life lessons, and have so many shoulders I can lean on and it means so much to me.

4. My big. She is literally always there for me. And she probably (definitely) has 10+ times the amount of chaos going on in her life, but she devotes 100% of her mind and time to me when I need it. She is so wise and gives me a fresh perspective on all my woes and turns them into positive, insightful lessons.

5. Who I am. College has in many ways made me more insecure about myself because I'm surrounded by some crazy cool and ambitious people. But I've realized that I'm not too shabby myself and I need to stand by that :) and embrace growth and change but also who I'm comfortable being.
Personality goes a long way and I shouldn't forget that!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

H♡ME: Part 2

That same weekend I was home in July, I mentioned that my mom went all out with the cooking.
Well, she went ALL OUT with the cooking:

The Flan Sponge Cake:

 Strawberry Symphony Cake:

 Glorious Sushi Rolls:

 This one's wrapped in a second layer of Shiso:

I love going home and recharging. 
Food is one way my mom shows me that she's rooting for me. :)

H♡ME: Part 1

**Looking at my drafts, I realized I never posted this one of the Ingrid Michaelson concert I saw!

On my trip home for the last days of July, I got to eat Momma's hearty cooking, see two incredible concerts and relax.

I wrote about OMAM already, but here's another snip of that weekend:


Ingrid's Sexy Pose...

The Crew and a special guest from the audience singing "You and I"

I was so happy to finally see her live. Granted, most of the audience were women in their mid-30's who dragged their boyfriends along or lesbian couples, neither demographic in which I belong. But it was super fun. And she's such a great entertainer and has a chill, hilarious personality. 
And might I just say: her voice is very sexy- how does she do it??

Saturday, September 29, 2012


So summer's been closing up shop for a while now,

and fall keeps barging its foot in the door so I don't quite know where I stand.

I guess it's time for me to refresh by keeping the values I learned from this summer
and face the cool breeze of fall.

Right now is an important time in school, with new habits forming for psets and new standards developing for my schedule and lifestyle. There are interviews, new faces, conversations with people who may not remember you... but they also just might.

Restart and re-enter into the bubble of MIT. But this time, it doesn't seem like a bubble, more like a fishbowl. People come to visit and have a preconceived notion of MIT. Sometimes I feel like I have to fit into their (and my first) definition of MIT, but now that I've been here a year, I know MIT can be something different for everyone.
I have my own goals and aspirations for my time at MIT (which is what made me excited about coming here in the first place!) so MIT, you will most definitely change me but I'm not going to let you mold me into something unrecognizable.
With that said, I carefully enter sophomore year with a set of open ears and eyes.
   (If that's possible hah.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Of Monsters and Men, Philly

I went home for the weekend and was just in time for a free summer block concert by 104.5 featuring...
 Of Monsters and Men!! 

They were amazing.
It was raining at one point and we were all wet but it was still an awesome experience.

Some people watched from their fancy condo balconies. So jealous!

Trying to get a peek from past an umbrella. Later, someone was cool enough to take down the umbrella so the rest of us had a better view.

Many fans took the opportunity to surf some crowds.

In their breezy Icelandic glory:

Dirty Paws (all credit to OMAM and 104.5):

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Another Summer Poem.


I’m afraid to let go of my feathers.
If I lose them, you’ll see right through me
and I won’t be able to escape and fly away.

bare and exposed and grounded.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cirque Du Soleil

Seriously, we are given the same bodies as these crazy people at Cirque Du Soleil but they do such amazing things with their bodies. 
They have absolute control. 
Their weapons for producing such awe from us are strength, flexibility, grace and poise. 

C'est magnifique!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Oh joy.

I found this tumblr today from the graphic artist Jonathan Mak and it made my day.
Here's my spin:

So I made it into a Get Well Soon card for my Dad who's still working in Ohio for the summer since he has a cold right now. Hopefully it cheers him up!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Poem for the Summer.


I’m young.
I can say what I want.
And be naïve.
And have a ball.


Sunday, July 15, 2012


Took a relaxing early morning trip to the North End today.

Someone had mentioned it during the week and I, being a sporadic wandering hobo at times, couldn't resist the opportunity to explore.
It's only my second time there (first time being yesterday), so I was being all Asian Touristy.

The MA State House. What do they do there anyways? 
The whole idea of state houses and city halls seem arcane to me.

I biked past Boston Commons and snapped a still of the fountain on the left.
All the condos by the docks had pretty little balconies - lovely!

A maze fountain by JFF Surface.

The Financial District peaks through the background.

The North End had these cute crowns and stars hanging across the streets. 
Reminded me a little of Le Petit Prince.

What does not belong with the others...? 
How do my people infiltrate the North End with one of their takeout restaurants? 
It's like on the corner of a block surrounded by Italians!
I guess Italians need their Chow Mein too...

Haha, I will be sure to go there someday. (This pub was near Beacon and Somerset.)

This house and the poles remind me a little of POTC.

A restaurant on the docks.

One of the private condos there was right on Battery Wharf and had this beautiful fountain positioned in line with the bay and sunrise. What money can buy.

Also near Battery Wharf.

Sitting on the dock by the bay...

Sitting by the wharfs = blissful thinking.

So glad I got out of bed for the soul-soothing trip.
This is now one of my favorite spots of all time.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Road Trip: Pause

Paht 1

We went on a road trip to Ohio to visit my dad's summer research stint at the Air Force Base. 
Western Pennsylvania has mountains, cornfields, farms, and ... grass. (Oxford comma.)
The rest stops were probably the most interesting parts of the drive. 
Just kidding, there were some awesome tunnels and the bridges next to Pittsburgh were beautiful. It was fun being weird and rambunctious and creating embarrassing moments with my siblings again.

Here's some randos taken on the daddy-o's DSLR:

in the middle of singing another ad lib song to entertain.
I hope those videos never get out into the public.

we got bored. i guess.

oh, sorry: Western PA has trees too. my bad.

 my brother has huge ears. gosh.

Hope you have at least one dysfunctional road trip this summer too :)
It's good for the soul.