Tina’s Magical Bachelorette Weekend!

Tina got married last month. Instead of a “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” trip, she opted for a “bachelorette” weekend at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (TM) at Universal Studios outside of LA [henceforth referred to as “HPWorld”]. Also, she planned everything: including organizing the dates for seven people, booking an AirBnb, and buying all the tickets to HPWorld.

Oh, also, she booked plane tickets for the two of us because hell if we were driving down through the central valley. We’d probably just die in the desert. So last Friday, we were travel buddies on the short flight from SFO to LAX with some “Oriental” snack mix to keep us occupied.

flying to LA with Tina

Guess who picked us up at the airport? Our high school friend Dorothy, whom I last saw on WVT! We drove an incredibly circuitous route from LAX to our AirBnb in Hollywood, our home for the next 36 hours. Our little unit was plastered with black-and-white photos of Marilyn Monroe and decorated with crystal wall-hangings, fake Oscar statuettes, and hairy pillows and rugs that shed a lot. It also had a depressing windowless closet-turned-bedroom that I dubbed “murder room” that a few people got to sleep in.

Asian ladies

The rest of our party (Brooke, Camey, Iris, and Daniella) arrived after we had eaten dinner and were in PJS, watching the Olympics (of course). I had only met one of them, Brooke, but I was sure we’d all get along knowing that Tina was the common link. The next day, we got up early and were ready for our adventure at HPWorld!

Castle at HPWorld

Based on advice from previous attendees, we made a bee-line for Ollivander’s wandshop  where there is a small show about getting picked for your wand. Tina and Camey  were selected as audience participants, which was hokey and fun–they “made” lights turn on and bookshelves move inside a darkened room filled with wand boxes.

Sorry, these photos suck because it was so dark. And also because I am a terrible photographer. I tried to get one of Tina looked with wonderment at all the boxes of wands, but….she just kind of looks like “What is wand?”

We bought Tina a wand to commemorate this trip, and it was one of the ones with a sensor that “makes” things move at certain points around the park: quills writing by themselves, lights illuminating in windows, etc.. Like all good wands, Ollivander’s quality pieces are made in China (ha, ha).

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After Ollivander’s, we immediately got in a very long line (110 minutes!) for the castle ride at Hogwarts. While we were in line, we made “friends” with the Chinese tourists behind us accidentally….

Note also that Camey is drinking butterbeer that we purchased at a concessions cart. It is very sweet; Camey had two. I am impressed.

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(Everyone except the Hus-friend has been unable to find me in the above photo. I’m in the upper lefthand corner.)

The castle ride was really cool; there’s a lot of visual stimulus paired with a moving seat that makes you feel like you’re flying/diving/swooping. Unfortunately, it also made me quite motion sick, but I felt better after eating lunch at The Three Broomsticks. Sorry if you haven’t read HP and don’t know what I’m talking about.

We explored Hogsmeade, popping into various stores-come-to-life from the books.

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The park is very well done: clean and well-landscaped, and the park attendants are all good at staying in character and helping maintain the atmosphere. I felt so sorry for them, dressed in their wool school sweaters and heavy robes on a summer day in southern California. The glittery chunks of fake snow adorning the tilted village buildings were fooling no one–it was hot.

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In the afternoon, we exited HPWorld and explored some of the rest of Universal Studios. We felt like old people when we finally got to ride the Universal Studios tour, not because we got to see set pieces from iconic movies and TV shows, but because we got to sit down for the better part of an hour.

tram ride at Universal Studios

Basically, I learned that movies are lies. You think things were filmed in New York City; they weren’t. They were filmed on a sound stage or in front of a street of building facades outside of Los Angeles…like this set used in War of the Worlds. There’s someone’s house on the hill, overlooking this totally destroyed airplane set piece. Can you imagine living in a house with that weird view? LA, man, it’s a weird place. I basically assumed everyone working at Universal Studios was hoping to break into showbiz.

War of the Worlds set, Universal Studios

(I actually had to leave the park early because I got a headache. While waiting for the rest of the group to get back, I came to terms with the fact that Pottermore sorted me into Hufflepuff house.)

We had so much fun celebrating Tina this past weekend! The other women brought decorations and organized cute HP-themed gifts for her. Instead of being visited by strippers, I’m proud to say that we took teen magazine quizzes, geeked out over Harry Potter, ate pizza in Hollywood, inhaled a bag of cheesy puffs, and enjoyed a delicious Sunday breakfast at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, a suggestion by LA native Daniella. (Okay, we did giggle a lot about the menu item: “One waffle with one succulent breast.”)

Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles

It was a great weekend with a delightful group of people, old friends and new! Can’t wait for all the fun we’ll have at Tina and Ben’s wedding reception coming up in October.

group shot at HP World
front row: Brooke, Tina, and Camey back row: Dorothy, me, Daniella, Iris

BRB. Olympics.

Ooh, the Olympics are on, so I’m enjoying my upholding my long-standing tradition of watching the Olympics while sprawled out in a most un-athletic way on the couch, typically eating snacks. I missed a lot of the London 2012 Olympics because I was in Korea, so I am VERY invested in this year’s competitions.

We actually celebrated the Hus-friend’s birthday by watching the opening ceremony and eating take-out sushi in our living room. Adult life! (NBC, by the way, I’m terribly disappointed with your coverage. This was the Parade of Nations, not the Macy’s Day Parade.)

There was chocolate birthday cake and Olympics!

And on Sunday morning, I baked up some homemade cinnamon rolls…and watched more Olympics.

If you need me, you’ll know where to find me for the next two weeks.

I try a million-step Korean skincare routine.

I’ve recently adopted [HA!] a Korean-inspired skincare routine. Maybe you’ve read about this multi-step monstrosity on a beauty blog or from some mind-poisoning women’s magazine. I’ve seen references to the Korean skincare routine cropping up a lot on the Internet; it’s always something like “Have you ever noticed that Korean women have the dewy, flawless complexions?” followed by a promotional photo of an actress in a drama. Like, yes, but okay:

  1. make-up!
  2. photoshopping!!
  3. (and probably some genes?)

The Korean skincare routine is, as far as I can tell, somewhat a giant, trendy marketing ploy and somewhat based in truth. I’ve seen real Koreans making skincare a part of their day. Even bowling shirt-wearing Big Aunt’s vanity was covered in scores of bottles and vials, and a lot of my Korean friends have a definite routine that includes more than just washing with soap. Sun Joo, for example, really takes care of her skin, and it shows. (Full disclosure: she is also wearing make-up here.)

Mica and SunJoo

I think there’s probably some truth in preventative skincare; at the very least, I don’t think it will hurt me. I’ve been using a daily facial moisturizer with SPF and a nightly toner for several years now, so adopting a Korean-inspired routine is in line with my perpetual goal of preventing premature aging, sun damage, and, of course, skin cancer.

So here’s what my side of the bathroom counter looks like these days:

my Korean skincare products
L-R: Water-based cleanser, oil cleanser, essence, toner, SPF, moisturizer, eyecream, scrub

It’s a lot, right? I purchased most of these Korean products online [myself, with my own money. I’m not being compensated by anyone for this post.]. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Two-step cleanse: 1) Oil-based cleanser to remove sticky make-up and 2) foaming cleanser get “everything else” [PM only. In the morning, I just use the face soap in the shower.]
  • Toner: This is the same one I’ve been using for a few years as a refresher/moisturizer.
  • Essence: I don’t actually know WTF this is, so I was hesitant to try it. My Korean friends actually all use this though. It supposedly helps with complexion, fine lines, wrinkles, blah blah blah, essential-step-miracle-product-I-don’t-know-what.
  • Eye cream: I just started this because I have under-eye circles. I think it’s from not getting enough sleep though.
  • Moisturizer: I’ve always used a face lotion with SPF in the morning, so the new step here is at night, patting on an aloe-based moisturizer.
  • (Once a week/when I remember: an exfoliating scrub. It’s supposed to be a mask, but I never wait that long.)

Okay, so that’s, like, a fuckton of steps, but it doesn’t actually take that long, especially compared to some women’s make-up routines. As for results? Well, I’ve been adding in products for about a month or so, and I don’t think my skin looks any worse. I’m breaking out slightly less, but that could be due to other factors, like eating less Greek yogurt. Swapping my old salicylic acid-based  facial cleanser for the gentler two-step cleanse does make my skin feel much less tight and dry. When I wake up in the morning, my skin feels healthily soft and not overly oily.

However, even if these products aren’t magical (They’re not.), they serve a valuable purpose: feeling like a small daily luxury. I don’t do a lot of grooming, and I’d rather put my time and effort into making my skin healthy, rather than making it look healthy with makeup.  My multi-step routine feels like a nice treat to use these products, a little pause and reminder to treat myself well (which, admittedly, I almost always do).

 

 

So I bought these house pants…

Last week, I bought some “slouchy trousers” from Everlane that finally arrived for me to try on. On the model, these pants have a casual, stylish drape that skimmed over the legs, and I was super excited about not-tight-but-not-shitty-looking pants.

Then the so-called slouchy trousers arrived, and GUESS WHAT! They are NOT slouchy on me at all. They barely make it over my thighs and basically just look like ill-fitting black trousers. I’m returning them. Admittedly, I probably could have gone up a size for a little looseness, but I didn’t love the scratchiness of the wool and don’t feel the need to try again. Honestly, I’m just not sure if those bottoms are gonna’ work for me. They don’t have any stretch, and, well, my legs mean business and need some leeway.

Ever in search of black pants, my preferred bottom, I went on a shopping spree and bought two new “outside the house” pairs. And one new “inside the house” pair that I LOVE.

Uniqlo drape pants
I❤ U, pants.

They’re Uniqlo’s “Drape [Lounge] pants,” and they actually drape over my squat-powered legs. They’re light and airy, and they even have pockets. They’re the best house pants, which are quite honestly the only kind of pants I want to wear.

I’m coming to a slow but so obvious realization that I always prioritize practicality and comfort over stylishness and “looking good.” Don’t get me wrong; I’m not going to traipse around in a heather grey sweatsuit that makes me look like a literal sack of human feces. Figure-flattery was my main concern for awhile, but I’ve come to understand that that just means playing up my assets (tiny waist!) and downplaying my [many] “undesirable” traits (big hips and thighs! Short muscular legs!) to conform to a standard beauty ideal (taller, thinner). If I were to wear only the most flattering silhouettes for my body type, I’d be stuck with only fit-and-flare dresses and chunky heels, and I don’t have time to walk around in delicate clothes. There’s a difference between wearing actively unflattering pieces and just, well, normal clothes that make me look fine and basically like a normal human being. Also, no pants are going to make my calves look slender, so why even bother trying to find any?

(I have no issue with people wearing clothes that are “unflattering” for their body type and one day aspire to give no fucks at all.)

So yes, ajumma/아줌마 pants are the name of the game! Good thing I live in San Francisco where you can be as aggressively casual as you want. (Don’t worry, I don’t wear these to work.)

Wearing lounge pants

Semone, one of my adoptee friends, congratulated me on my ajumma pants and said I should test them out with a good, ole’ squat.

Asian squatting in ajumma pants

(I have casual but slightly better-looking work attire, but when I’m home, I’m allllll about comfort.)

Keeping my knitting shit together

I’ve been working most evenings on my summer cardigan, which may not even be finished before the end of summer. It’s my first big lace project, so I’m being really careful about counting rows and keeping myself on track. For example, every eight rows, I add a lifeline: a piece of yarn threaded through the live stitches that you can go back to in the event that you have to rip out a bunch of your progress. It’s kind of like a “save your progress” point in a video game.

I recently got to a fairly complicated sounding part of the pattern with instructions that didn’t make a lot of sense to me. After having been burned by a few patterns with inaccurate stitch math, I like to visualize what I’ll be knitting in advance and understand how many stitches I should end up with after the various increases and decreases. This is how I ended up with this:

figuring out stitch math
# is the row, D = Decrease, WS = Wrong Side

Somehow, I’ve been knitting for awhile and still don’t own a row counter, one of those little gadgets that you press to keep track of rows. I’m decent at “reading” my knitting at this point, so I can usually count rows to figure out where I am. However, if I’m being really careful, as I am for this project, I make tally marks in my notebook. The Hus-friend jokes that this notebook makes me look like like a scary crazy person:

keeping track of knitting progress

And on that note, back to sweater knitting!

Par Avion!

Even though it seems like such an outdated practice, I love sending postcards when we go on vacation…even if the recipients get them after I get home and tell them all about my trip. I’ve been really lucky to receive a bunch of postcards this year from friends who have been on exciting trips:

postcards received in 2016
CW from top left: Japan, Alaska, Japan, London

I love finding a new postcard waiting for me in the mailbox, and then I show them to the Hus-friend over dinner before putting them on the fridge. What’s the point of a fridge if not to post evidence that you have friends?

Thanks to all the senders! I hope I can reciprocate with some new postcards from our next trip, wherever that will be!

Last week[end], briefly

Well, last week was pretty uneventful as I spent a good portion of it in bed or lying on the bathroom floor. (So fun! Let’s do it again some time.) As such, I don’t have any enviable life events or entertaining stories to share, so here are some media I consumed.

Ever since he saw the trailer on K-Pop TV, the Hus-friend was really excited about Train to Busan (“There are zombies and a train on fire!”), so we were pumped that it came out here. At our sparsely attended showing, the Hus-friend was one of three Caucasian viewers. A good deal of the audience was speaking Korean before the movie started; I guess the Korean community here was in the know.

I highly recommend going to see Train to Busan if it comes to a theater near you…if you like are at least somewhat entertained by zombie movies. And, okay, I’m not even a huge fan of zombies; I’m not entirely sure why they’re so popular. Even with my skepticism, I thought Train to Busan was a really well-done movie though–it has tense, scary, funny, poignant, and tear-jerking moments, also with a healthy dose of social commentary. The Hus-friend and I agreed that it was one of the most well-done zombie movies we’ve  seen in a long time (like, since our first date to 28 Days Later), and I will admit that I cried, like, four times. Here’s the trailer. Also, the lead actor Gong Yoo is nice to look at.

Train to Busan is much better than World War Z, which I remember mostly because we saw it on Wedding Victory Tour with Kim and Steven. Later, Kim and I re-enacted one of the scenes:

Kim & Mica reenact World War Z

Not content to see only one movie in 24 hours, we also saw Ghostbusters today with Tina, who is newly returned from a trip to Europe and married! I also enjoyed Ghostbusters, but there isn’t as much to say about it. Tina laughed so hard she cried, and the woman seated behind us laughed so hard she snorted. Comedy! Women being badasses! What’s not to love?

Actually, we saw Tina twice in 24 hours as well. Our high school/college friend Tania was in town for work, so we all grabbed dinner together. I was going to take a picture, but I left my phone at home, so I guess use your imagination here.

Oh, I recently deactivated my Facebook account after considering the possibility for the better part of a year. I finally took the plunge after 1) several people I respect said they were better off without Facebook and 2) I realized that my time spent on Facebook was at best, a timesuck and at worst, a way to make myself uselessly angry at “friends.” There’s no need to spend my free time on something that makes me feel grumpy and unproductive when I could be knitting, losing my shit over The Night Of on HBO, or keeping this blog alive. It has been about two weeks, and I can’t say that I miss it at all. I spent a LOT of time on the Internet, and a curated online experience is pretty crucial to keep my rage in check.

Gah, this post is all over the place and a real snoozefest. Maybe something more exciting will happen next week.