Five Weeks

I graduate college in exactly five weeks. I’ll be forever finished with a degree I haven’t been whole heartedly passionate about in years and get to pursue a career path I’m 100% serious about and enthralled in. I’ll get to move to a big city that’s buzzing with people I haven’t met, cuisine I haven’t tried, and experiences my mind cannot yet even fathom. If I have the whole world ahead of me, why am I having such a difficult time facing my present responsibilities to help prepare me for my future?

I tried to look up the number of people in the USA graduating college this year and the answer didn’t come up. Either way, I realized that the answer to my personal question is that while there are X number of people graduating college this year, I kind of feel like I’m the only one. This didn’t make sense to me because of course I’m not the only one. Everyone in my major, all my friends I see at the bars, and the people I met in the dorms are all graduating.

However, the people I surround myself with most are all younger. My best friends here are all sophomores and juniors. After deeper thinking, I noticed that that has always been a pattern for me. I’ve always had best friends a grade younger, and it’s not all that surprising. I started kindergarten at age 4 and college at age 17, so my classmates have always been older than me. As an Education major, I’ve read studies about how starting school young makes a difference in a lot of ways, and I seem to be a shining example. It all worked out in the end, of course; I’m graduating with grades I’m proud of and a college career without regrets, but that’s not to say that the differences have not made for a harder time than I may have had if things had been different.

When I told my mom about this realization she said “honey, you know why I put you in school early?”
“Because I was a pain in the butt?”
“No. It was because you were ready.”

I was ready to begin school at age 4, and now at age 21 I’m ready to begin my next chapter. My friends are planning their class schedules for next fall while I’m applying for jobs. We don’t swap links to possibly dresses to wear on graduation day or make joint dinner reservations with our families, but I have always found enjoyment and pride out of being independent.

So, to my post-grad life- you scare me, a lot. But what’s life without fear? I’m ready for you.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Spring term, senior year. Two months till graduation.

When most people meet me they ask, “what’s your major?” I respond with, “what’s yours?” They think it’s a game, but I’m not kidding. I like to avoid the conversation because it’s easier than telling people that yes, I’m majoring in education, but no, I don’t plan on teaching. This is confusing to most, and understandably so. I did want to be a teacher. Since I was in kindergarten it’s all I’ve wanted. But I challenge that dream with the idea that of course I wanted to be a teacher, it was the only career that was directly relevant and clear to me for so many years.

When I was growing up, the tech industry grew up with me. I didn’t know coding was a career until college. When I took interest in HTML, Flash, Final Cut Pro, and Dreamweaver in middle school, I attended a Digital Media camp at Stanford where I built skills I was good at. But, I was the only girl in my camp, and I was teased for being a nerd. So I gave up.

It’s funny, because now I’ll get teased for being an ed major. People always say it’s easy, teachers don’t make money, and with the Trump administration, who knows where it’s going next?

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But with two months till graduation, I feel the whole world weighing on my shoulders until I figure it out and get hired. However, I have a pretty good idea of where I’d like to start. While I still struggle with the stress of where, when, and what exactly, I know that I’m on the right track. As soon as I submit a resume and a cover letter, the next step goes to you, future employer.

Hot Wing Fanatics 2012-2013

Ah, senior year of high school. Four short years ago I was wondering what my life would be like after leaving San Jose. I’d say that a lot has changed since then. I have become more independent, learned how to really study, and mastered the art of balance- something any successful college student will do. Many of my tastes have changed, but my love for food has only deepened.

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what I want to do with my life professionally. I’m beginning to write cover letters and fill out job applications, causing me to reflect on what I have accomplished that makes me a valuable candidate. That made me think of the Hot Wing Fanatics..

One night at the beginning of the school year, I went to Wingstop for dinner with a group of friends. We had so much fun that we did it again a week later and had a hot wing eating contest. Club rush came around and my friend Garrett and I somehow came up with the idea to make a club out of it. We called ourselves the “Hot Wing Fanatics,” made a tri-fold poster and a sign up sheet, and had our first meeting.

Before we knew it, we were up and running. The Wingstop across the street agreed to let us have fundraisers on Wednesday’s and collect 15% of every purchase made with one of the flyers I designed and helped distribute. All the money we raised went right back to Wingstop. We used it to pay for wings that the whole club could eat together during school lunch once a month. The whole idea was a little silly, but it brought us all together, gave us something to work towards, and helped make a memory.

The coolest part was getting the attention of the Wingstop CEO, Charlie Morrison. We reached out to him on Twitter and he came to San Jose and bought us all wings. We even got our own personal Wingstop merchandise and a two-page spread in the yearbook.

The Hot Wing Fanatics sadly retired after we graduated, but the club served its purpose in that year. We had fun, and I had my first big food break.

New Year, More Questions

It’s a strange concept how the change of a single digit on the calendar can be so impactful to society. 2016 may have been fucked up in many ways, but how can we be so sure that changing our calendars and writing a new number at the top of our paper will actually make a difference? More than anything, I think the coming of a new year is a form of motivation. It’s also an excuse. We can push things off until 2017 because we want to start them in the New Year. These things we anticipate next year include our diets, projects for work, searching for jobs, quitting bad habits, working on ourselves, etc. When the New Year comes will we follow through, or will we blame our lack of commitment on Trump, a busy schedule, or maybe a mean boss?

At the start of 2016, I told myself that this year would be about me, and for the most part, it has been. I worked extremely hard in school and at work. I made time for friends, and I made time for fun. I spent this year building a lot of incredible relationships with others, many of which I believe will last a lifetime. I had a daily commute to Downtown Oakland, skid down a mountain in Whistler, ate pierogies and poutine in Pemberton, and danced to Lionel Richie in Golden Gate Park.

The first half of 2017 will be buried under cover letters, job applications, the weekend shifts I probably shouldn’t have agreed to, and an unnecessary amount of essays I’ll be required to write. The second half of the year is what I’m really looking forward to. In an ideal world, the job offers will be rolling in, and I’ll get to choose between New York, San Francisco, Seattle, or Portland. I know I’m dreaming big, but I also know I can make at least some of that happen.

Since 2016 began, I knew I wanted to be careful with my emotions because I didn’t want to let anyone influence where I end up next year. In my previous relationship, I let my emotions cloud my vision and distort my goals and ambitions, and I blame myself for that. Even now, with each new person I meet, I catch myself letting them sway me one way or another. My friends in New York help me glamourize a life in the city, my big in Portland shows me how easy it is to love the Pacific Northwest, and a few special people give me reasons to keep coming back to the Bay Area. I’m excited to let the offers do the talking, but I know I will have bias in my heart, and no matter what I choose, I will have to let go of something I’ve been holding onto.

I don’t know where 2017 will take me. As someone who always has a plan, it’s not easy. I’m feeling more scattered than ever in terms of both my future possibilities and the emotions I try not to have. I know that on January 1st, I will feel no different than I did on December 31st, but by this time next year-who knows who I will be?

Music in 2016

There are a million reasons why 2016 was a wild year, but it was a great year for music. We were blessed with Lemonade, Coloring Book, The Life of Pablo, Blonde, Joanne, Views, Awaken, My Love!, Passion, Pain and Demon Slayin, 22, A Million, How to be a Human Being, Skin, The Divine Feminine, Good Will Prevail, and GENERATIONWHY. I went to my first music festivals, saw dozens of concerts, and finally upgraded to Spotify Premium. I got to see Lido and The Killers live with my incredible new friends at Pemberton. I also got to see Radiohead and drink overpriced wine at Outside Lands. I even kicked off my 21st birthday at Porter Robinson.

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With that, it’s only appropriate I end my year the way I enjoyed it most- with music. I’ll be attending Snowglobe Music Festival in South Lake Tahoe December 29th-January 1st. In 2017, I plan on attending Coachella for the first time, Pemberton again, and possibly also Sasquatch and Outside Lands. I feel lucky to have found a job that helps me afford to see all my favorite artists, and I can’t wait to find a career that lets me do the same (hopefully with lots of PTO).

Pemberton Music Festival 2016

Exactly two weeks ago I was on my way to British Columbia to attend a four day music festival with one of my best friends, Alex. I didn’t have a clear idea of what to expect, but she had been raving about it every day since she got back in 2015, so I had pretty high expectations. The five nights and four days I spent in Pemberton were arguably some of the best days of my life, and I plan to buy a ticket for the 2017 festival as soon as they go on sale. Needless to say, my expectations were beyond exceeded.

 

Over the course of the weekend I met some of the most incredible people that I got to dance with to so many insanely talented artists. From the campsite, to the Perrier greenhouse, to the Bacardi Beer Gardens, to Bass Camp, to  pierogis, to poutine, I feel like I left a piece of my heart on those festival grounds. My second time in Canada this year has only deepened my love for it and I can’t wait to return.

Believe it or not, this festival was more focused on music than food, but I hope you enjoyed this little taste of it anyway.

Who to see @ SF Outside Lands 2016

I’ve created a list of all the can’t miss people performing at SF Outside Lands 2016. After going to Pemberton Music Festival in British Columbia July 14-17, I’m beyond stoked for my next festival, especially one that’s only a Bart ride away from my house.
Full disclosure: the list might be a little unrealistic to complete; sorry but it’s a great lineup. I’ve included links to great songs by them to help you decide for yourself 🙂 Some of the time conflicts are heart breaking, so just go with your gut.

To make things even easier, here is a playlist with all of these amazing artists.

Friday
12:45pm Lany or Marian Hill
1:30pm Moon Taxi
2pm Ra Ra Riot or Jidenna
2:30pm Wet
3:25pm St. Lucia
3:50pm Foals
4:30pm ⇓ TOKiMONSTA
4:45pm ⇑ Miike Snow
5:15pm Thomas Jack
6:05pm ⇓ Låpsley
6:15pm  ⇑Duran Duran
6:30pm Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
7:50pm ⇓Beach House
8:10pm ⇑LCD Soundsystem 
8:40pm J Cole

Saturday

 

2:00pm The Knocks
3:40pm Vince Staples
5:15pm Jauz
6:35pm ⇓ Sufjan Stevens
6:55pm ⇑ Halsey
7:55pm Radiohead
8:40pm Zedd

 

Sunday

1:15pm Oh Wonder
2:00pm Snakehips
2:35pm Jack Garratt
4:55pm Chance The Rapper
5:55pm RÜFÜS DU SOL
6:25pm ⇓ Major Lazer
6:40pm ⇑Miguel
8:25pm Lana Del Rey

 

 

Become a Morning Person

Some of my friends look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I wake up early even when I don’t have to. So many good things can happen in the early hours of the day, yet so many people sleep through it! Here are some easy steps to follow to have a good morning, and maybe become a morning person yourself 🙂
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taken & consumed by Kaiya Levine in Ireland
  • Download the Good Morning sleep tracker and alarm clock app ($3.99 in app store but free in previous Starbucks app deal). Set a song that makes you happy as the alarm, so you wake up in a good mood. For me it’s First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes
  • Brush your teeth and wash your face, take any medication and vitamins
  • Complete morning routine (makeup, hair, getting dressed)
  • Eat a nutritious breakfast
  • Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, my favorite K-Cup is Peet’s Brazil Minas Naturais medium roast with a smooth, nutty, naturally sweet flavor
  • Put your headphones in or plug your aux cord into your favorite morning playlist, see a few of mine here if you wake up happy, here if you wake up slowly, and here if you wake up with coffee.

Remember that the key to feeling good is confidence, so give yourself enough time to wake up happy and get ready the way you want, without having to stress yourself out over the finding the quickest thing you can put on to make it to the bus on time, and arriving to school/work hangry.

I know not everyone is a morning person like me, but with the cool morning weather in July, the plethora of breakfast options, and the most socially acceptable time of day to drink coffee, I know you’re a little convinced..

 

So go to sleep early enough tonight to get that early start tomorrow. Happy Monday 🙂
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*PSA: Whole Foods breakfast is only served from 8-10am, and I know you’d love their french toast casserole as much as I do 🙂

Mua Oakland Bar & Restaurant review

Oakland is said to be the new Brooklyn, and Mua is a restaurant that definitely appeals to that vibe. It has built lots of hype, so a foodie like me was obviously eager to try it. Set in between car dealerships, it’s not clear what you’re getting into when entering the black warehouse garage looking building. You’ll walk right into a full bar with the best Cosmo you’ll ever drink and a bartender named Dave who’s so good, he named a drink after himself.

After getting past the bar you’ll find a host waiting to seat you in a a large open area with trendy decorations and even an upstairs lounge. You’ll want to order a drink, or three, and appetizers. Lots of appetizers. However, it’s important to save room for dessert.

  1.  The Shiitake Mushroom Crostini was a delicious beginning to our dining experience. The crostini came topped with a creamy lime sauce that had just the right amount of tang that woke up our taste buds. The mushrooms were slimy- definitely only to be enjoyed by mushroom lovers like myself. The arugula was a necessary addition that made this happy hour appetizer perfect for our group of four. 4/5

 

2. The Chips & Guacamole honestly did not impress me. 2/4 of us loved them and even ordered an extra plate of them, but I found the chips to taste like Fritos. The guacamole was good and the tomato chunks improved it, but it didn’t stand out to me at all. The guac needed more lime and spice. I recommend Comal in Berkeley for fantastic chips and guac. 2/5

 

3. The Baked Goat Cheese was served with cranberry, creating an appetizer as sweet as cheesecake. This dessert-like dish was hot, creamy, and a mix of sweet and tart. It is very unusual and wouldn’t appeal to just anyone, but leaves a taste in your mouth that makes you go for another bite. 4/5

 

4. The Grilled Romaine Salad was my moms favorite. It was a rich salad served with caesar dressing and breadcrumb. The initial taste was warm followed by a satisfying crunch. Topped off perfectly with plenty of parmesan. 4/5

 

 

5. The Quinoa-Arugula salad includes nectarine, goat cheese and almonds and was by far one of my favorite dishes of the night. The fruity taste made it fresh and sweet, pairing very well with the goat cheese. Almonds were good texture to go with the apple slices and goat cheese. Next time I would ask for dressing light or on the side as it was little too heavy. 4/5

 

 

6. The Fried Calamari with chili and shallot was very tasty, as any other calamari would be. It is good for someone who wants calamari, but isn’t looking for anything out of the ordinary. The tentacle pieces were better than the rings due to the crunch. The ring-shaped ones were a bit soggy. The lemon slice was necessary for flavor and the dipping sauce was nice. 3/5

 

7. The Brussels Sprouts with brown butter were tasty, but for a brussels sprout snob like me, I wasn’t thoroughly impressed. While crisp is always good, the flavor was a little too burnt. 3/5

 

8. Finally, the “No Cheese” Mac ‘n Cheese was my favorite appetizer we tried. You would never know that this combo of butternut squash and cream did not contain any cheese. It was warm, creamy, soft to the tongue, and heavenly. I raved about it to my co-workers and would absolutely order it again. Not a shell was left in that bowl. 5/5

 

9. The Lamb Cheeks was the most daring food we tried, quickly intriguing us with it’s unfamiliarity. The waitress recommended them over the 24 Hour Pork Spare Ribs for the tender texture that accompanies them. In retrospect, we should have gone with the spare ribs. They were definitely tender, but very weird. The sauce helped add flavor to the smokey taste. They were not bad, but not worth it either. No one finished their lamb cheek. 1.5/5

 

10-12. No one can order just one dessert item at a place like this. Not for four people, anyway. We ordered Creme Brûlée, Pecan Tart, and Bread Pudding. The creme brûlée was a cool vanilla custard with a burnt crisped top. Not unique to Mua, but delicious none the less. I’m salivating as I type and reminisce on the flavor. 5/5 The tart isn’t anything I would ever order, but it was warm, rich and tasty. It had a rich flavor created by the chocolate sauce drizzled over it and was accompanied by delicious vanilla ice cream. That’s no Dreyer’s. 4/5  Last but certainly not least, my favorite of the bunch, the bread pudding. The creme anglaise with raspberry sauce was everything I had imagined and more. The sauce created the perfect contrast between sweet and tart. It tasted warm and soft in my mouth, making me wish I was eating it again right now. I’m clearly a big fan of bread pudding.

 

13-14. The drinks. First is an Evad’O made with peach Ciroc, peach puree, pineapple juice and lime juice, created by their very own bartender, Dave. It was tart and tasty with a strong pineapple flavor. If I were to recreate it I would probably lighten the pineapple flavor and instead add grapefruit juice. 4/5 Next is the best Cosmopolitan any of us have ever tasted. Coming from the happy hour menu, we had two each. They were made with homemade cranberry juice and tasted so sweet, it was hard to believe they contained alcohol (until the feeling that came after finishing the second one of course). 5/5

 

Overall, Mua is a great location with an awesome vibe and some really cool options. With high prices, it’s not a place to frequent, except maybe for happy hours. 3.5/5 because it’s not all bank for your buck flavor-wise, but it’s still a great dining experience.

Recommendation:
Make a reservation for 5:30, arrive during happy hour and grab a cosmo or two at the bar. Once seated at your table, order another cocktail and either the grilled romaine salad or the quinoa-arugula salad (or both), followed by the mac ‘n cheese. Try something that I didn’t get to in addition to those appetizers. End your course with the bread pudding, and if you feel like going for another dessert, get the creme brûlée. Bring your family or ball out for a date. After all, Steph Curry eats here. Maybe soon we’ll see Kevin Durant? 😉