Sunday, September 28, 2014

I. Hate. Being. Sick. Because it kind of sucks.

Lesson learned. Flu shots are a necessary must in life. :(

I have come to accept that me getting sick at least once or twice a year is a fact of my life. Well I say sick as if I mean it in conventional terms, but 75% of the time it's just me getting whooped hard for at least a few days due to my severe hay fever during seasonal periods and then again in winter due to a not-as-severe-but-still-serious allergy to dust.

The other 25% of the time, it's a cold. Which I often struggle to differentiate from my hay fever most of the time to be honest.

But somehow, unlike past years when the flu would pass over me with barely a sniffle, I caught the flu not once, but twice. And not the mild "you're feeling sick for a day or two and then you're over it" variety. Both in spring and this past month I caught the knock-you-out-vomiting-coughing-sore-muscles-want-to-die-because-it-is-preferable-to-this-suffering kind of flu.

Sometimes I wonder if Liz Lemon is an extension of my life.
I'm pretty unbearable as it is when allergies hit me. Guess my mood while I had the flu?

In short: IT SUCKED.

First, being sick threw my budgeting and meal plans into total chaos. Mostly because I could barely drag myself from bed and also because living with a roommate and my younger sister, I'm not exactly in a position to beg for them to care for me like I could my mother. Plus there was the whole nausea and vomiting that made eating food an exercise in "What doesn't make me feel sick"?

So I ate "out" and ordered in A LOT (every day basically for almost nine days) due to the pickiness of my digestive system while sick.

Then there's having to buy A LOT of flu medication. How much? Try $40ish dollars when it was all said and done (and yes, I bought brand name meds. Because the effectiveness of generic is not something I'm particularly interested in testing when feeling as if I want to die) and this was despite the fact I HAD cold and flu medication lying around my home from the last time I got sick with this earlier this year.

And yes, I'm partially to blame because I did skip last year's flu shot. But at the same time, I've skipped that thing for years with barely an issue several times in the past.

Maybe I'm just getting old.

It made me a grumpy panda for half of the month of September. And I had to cancel four separate appointments due to hacking up a lung.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Love my... light pink polishes by Julep!

This spring it is all about the pastels for me, with my latest wardrobe picks for work and play reflecting that sensibility.

I do have to be aware of avoiding pieces that washes me and my olive skin tone out, of which pastel pink is a huge culprit. And while I will plead guilty to owning a pair of pink skinny jeans (because they look so good with my navy blazer!) I generally avoid them in pieces that sit closer to my skin.

Except when it comes to nail polishes that is!

I'm hugely addicted to pastel pink nail polishes in the spring. I think it has to do with a general love for and affinity to the cherry blossom, which actually blooms around this time.

Unfortunately, I have had a terrible time trying to find the perfect pastel pink polish. I've tried Revlon and even China Glaze to no real success and some real disasters.

Part of the problem stems from my olive skin tone, in that the pink immediately is washed out by the skin colour that creeps through the nails and is even overpowered by the red in it. Which means that I need multiple layers rather than the one or two that I generally have patience for - somewhere in the range of four or five that will allow for the colour to come through and look like I painted my nails.

Julep's 'Grace'
Classic 'go-to' light pink sheer
But there is an inherent danger to having more than a few layers - the more polish on a nail, the tackier the polish gets and therefore the longer it takes to dry. In the case of China Glaze, after the third helping, the thing never did harden and I had to pull it off in horrible gloops.

But then I discovered Julep and immediately fell in love with their shades. For one, it is really fast drying so even as the layers start to pile on, it doesn't have the same amount of tackiness that I felt when using Revlon or China Glaze. And it goes on really easily so it really minimizes the mess and the time spent (or wasted) on applying it.

'Grace' in particular needed around three layers for the colour to become adequately opaque on my nails and on the final round, a drop on each nail of quick-drying solution for the polish, a process that took up a solid hour or so of my night in order to give a little TLC to my nails.

But in the end, I thought it was well worth it. I loved how understated it appeared on my nails when I wore it and it was a really gentle colour too.

Julep's 'Lois'
Dusty rose frost
But 'Lois' I found only needed two layers for the 'pearl frosting' to come out and make the colour opaque against my skin. The reduced number of layering and the wonderful shade of the pink meant that only about a half hour was used to apply it, which would be great on nights when time isn't there to be wasted.

Julep does come with the inherent dangers of chipping easier than other polishes because of its fast-drying nature, but I counter it by applying a good base coat to my nails and in some cases - for a longer lasting hold, a top coat as well.

Two of their shades were perfect for my April and May. More than that though, the colour signifies happiness and the start of a new growing season, but it is also an amazingly gentle colour that is neither in your face or ostentatious like some of my other pastels.

It's very understated, which works amazingly at the place I work where bright nails are not among the most common things you see at the office. (And while it is not frowned upon it is most definitely something that is more open to discussing in the summer weather than in winter). It therefore works as the perfect transition colour for me.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why I bought a Tide to Go pen...

 A few years ago, my mother bought me a Tide-to-go pen. Actually she bought me a few because she figured it's cheaper than doing laundry every other day for stuff that only needs spot treatment.

I thought it was pointless and a waste of money. Its an item that's full of chemicals that really shouldn't be allowed to be left on clothing, its effectiveness is definitely mixed and it smells awful. And then half the time, it creates another stain over the original stain!

I wouldn't recommend it as a solution to anyone. Just wash the clothes, I'd say.

And yet, here I am, having spent actual money on a new Tide-to-go pen a mere day ago, because one of my holdovers from my mother finally ran out of its magic serum and suddenly I was pining for my easy to reach Tide-to-go pen.

Ultimately I underestimated my laziness and my food preferences upon finding full time work. Because kids got nothing on me when it comes to stains.

I'm a messy eater and pretty careless too. At least once every time I eat out, a friend reacts to the fact that my long hair somehow finds its way in the bowl of miso soup. And I am known to splatter various juices and other things over myself despite care.

As a result, white is not a colour that I get along with when it comes to my clothing. Which is a real shame because white as well as pastels is a huge colour trend this year. And white is so easy to match in clothing. And I like white tops. 

But I tend to wreak havoc on my carefully selected outfits because, as it turns out, eating a hamburger while typing away at a desk is far messier than you'd otherwise expect.

And one too many times spent over a washroom sink scrubbing away at a particularly obvious stain on my white top had me buying into the magic of this pen, despite the price and the chemicals. The convenience is far too high and even if it doesn't fully make the stain disappear on my nice white shirt, it makes enough of it disappear where I don't feel like I'm wearing a really ugly broach in a weird spot on my body.

Proof of my bad consumer habits and me folding over to my own innate laziness.

But I'm seriously not about to stop eating ramen any time soon, so this will have to do until they create a fabric that repels stains.

And really, it's not ALL that bad. It is great for spot work and I've used it several times to great effect... but it depends on what you're washing. Ramen noodle soup is not one of the things it can make disappear though.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Bookworm: Year Zero by Rob Reid

Crossposted from Goodreads.

This book started out pretty promising, I thought. But somewhere along the way, it went pear-shaped.

Many people have either compared it to Hitchhikers or refused to, saying that such comparisons are extremely unfair to hold a contemporary novel up against a science-fiction legend. And while I agree with the latter, honestly even I upon completing the novel could not help but sit there and wonder if I had read a rip-off of Hitchhikers.

I guess that is the inherent danger of writing a science-fiction comedy on the absurdity of human pettiness.

I originally picked up the book due to being intrigued by the concept that drove the story: Aliens owe the planet Earth the entire fortune of the universe. Also I found the prospective of learning about the inherent tragedies of copyright law from a music standpoint in a not-so-dry atmosphere to be palatable. All in all, it was enough that the book stuck in my head as a prospective reading choice, which therefore allow me to give it a fair shot.

And the opening felt promising. I found the dialogue to be pretty quirky, but not in a bad way and certainly enjoyed the pop-culture reference of every mid-2000s meme that existed.

But as the plot twisted sideways, I found that the story went the same way.

And that isn't to say a plot twisting sideways is a bad thing, but in this case, it seemed to just make the whole absurd story go from cute and funny to a case of "WTF just happened."

It was amazing how often the story got bogged down by either its technological mumbo-jumbo or else the copyright legalese involved. And while the author tried very hard to compensate for the overabundance of nonsense by adding humour to it as a means to make it less boring and more entertaining, the truth of the matter was that he tried entirely too hard to "fix" it, and therefore turning it into something that was less humourous and more obnoxious.

The footnotes didn't help either. Actually it made the whole thing far more tedious than it needed to be and basically hijacked the voice of the story from human cluelessness to a voice that was far too self-important given the current nature of the plot.

And WHAT was with that cat?

The thing that really annoyed me was how quickly things moved after the tedious middle part: too quickly if you ask me. Unbelievable as the story was to begin with, some of its solutions came about in a way that was unbelievable even within the context of the book's universe. Deus ex machina, anyone?

After all the fleshing out, it seemed as if the book decided it was in too deep and needed to wade back into shallower waters and ended up in the kiddie pool instead.

I will give credit to the penultimate solution to all our problems as I thought it was actually quite creative, but other than that, it fell flat when it needed to make its biggest impact. And while I enjoyed the humour and the pop-culture references enough that I'm willing to give it one more star than I gave Hitchhikers (which has it's own story to tell with regards to that rating), I can't say it's a book that I felt was more than the story.

It just fell flat of its intended goal.

Hate to say it, but Year Zero came off like a early-2000s boy band song: bland and commercialized.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Korean culture and the Sewol Ferry disaster

I am a Canadian.

I was born here, raised here and identify myself both with its geography and its culture, right down to the hockey-loving and beer-swilling (though with the addendum that I like the idea of beer-swilling. Being Asian gives me various biological disadvantages on that front)

But like many Canadians, I am not a native of this land. I am ethnically Korean, with two parents that immigrated here in the 70s and 80s. And with both my parents being first-gens meant that my upbringing was one that emphasized many traditional Korean values.

Which is why the news of the Sewol ferry disaster in Jindo in South Korea has struck a personal chord with me.

The ship took two and a half hours to fully capsize, although it appeared that the boat was nearly completely sideways after only an hour, with the final hour of the boat being in a position where rescue was realistically no longer possible or highly unlikely. So more or less, there was only an hour and a half of time between the accident originally taking place and the boat being no longer accessible to rescue operations for people to escape safely.

And yet, for about an hour, maybe more, the only instructions given on the ship was "put on life jackets and stay where you are."

There were 476 people on this vessel, most of them 16 and 17 year old teenagers from Danwon in Ansan. Only 174 people, including around 20 crew and the captain, made it out alive.

Of the 302 dead or presumed dead, most of them are children.

Some have said that Korean culture that prizes obedience in their youth was the reason why so few made it out of the ship alive, preferring to defer to the wisdom of their so-called elders who had told them to stay put and wait further instructions. Elders who turned out to be less than wise given that the captain literally was caught with his pants down during the sinking.

But let's not kid ourselves; the culture of obedience is not at fault here. Most children of that age regardless of culture, race or religion would have rather deferred to an announcement blaring instructions in that situation, simply because most kids would not know any better in that situation and therefore refer to the "experts" - the people whose job it is to know what to do in these kinds of emergencies.

Sure, perhaps in certain cultures some would question the authority more, but whether they'd act on it is a different matter entirely and for the most part would still defer such responsibilities to those who supposedly would know better.

In order to know better, it would mean children having been given instructions and knowledge on when to recognize when a ship is sinking and what to do in such an event. But since when do a parent or a child have to teach or have to learn what to do in the event of an emergency on a ship that is sinking, which is head to deck and once above deck put on a life jacket and hang on until rescue is available? Or at what point should it be obvious that a ship will sink, given that these people were not told that the ship was sinking, only that there was a dangerous situation going on, which can range from a serial killer on board to a fire in the kitchens.

And plus, it appeared that by the time it was obvious that things were in a truly dire state, for many, it was too late to get out.

You can't claim common sense here because honestly, these situations are not common. You can't expect the average person to know what to do any more than asking the average person to know how to build a fire from scratch. The onus of education is therefore on the crew, who ultimately did not offer such advise or knowledge on the Sewol.

By blaming the culture of how a child is raised, one blames the victims and their families, who have enough regrets as it is without the wider world asking if their cultural identity is what went wrong.

The only ones who deserves the blame are the people who first allowed the vessel to set sail without meeting minimum safety standards which caused the disaster to begin with and the incompetence of the crew who failed to order their passengers on deck and deploying lifeboats in that critical 40-60 minutes they had once they knew they were in trouble.

'Worried about people jumping in the unsafe water?' Gathering people on the deck hardly constitutes abandoning ship, only a call to prepare for such a possibility. And as some have pointed out, I'd rather take my chances surviving in those waters than being trapped below deck.

The crew should have known better and been trained for such possibilities. (Whether they have been given such training would fall under the fault of the company who hired them) Their failure to pass along such survival knowledge and instructions when they most needed it and instead providing information that likely doomed most of their passengers is what led to such a huge tragedy.

Most of the surviving crew is now in custody awaiting charges, with many Koreans angry enough at them to likely strangle them with their bare hands if they had half the chance. Because no Korean isn't affected by this in some way; those who have or had children can feel the parents grief, those who are young have lost their sense of invincibility, and every one wondering if they could have done something to have prevented this.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Stylize: Spring and structured

Top - Necessary Clothing (F '13); Necklace -
Forever 21 (UNK); Blazer - Ruche (Sp '14);
Camisole - H&M (Sp '14); Bottom - AE
Outfitters (F '13); Shoes - Payless (Sp '14)
I would be the first to admit that I'm not the trendiest person on the block. It's not even close. For one, my tomboy roots (one that has eventually bled its way into the profession I have dedicated my adult life to) keeps me from pursuing the craziest fashion choices and styles for the simple reason that where I work, it doesn't work.

For another, I'm generally unimpressed with how quickly 'trends' become trash in our hyper-consumer world, a reality that even I have plead guilty to and often have to mourn when going through the bits and pieces of my closet that I elect to discard, especially after realizing how little use a particular piece got.

So I generally try to stick to the classics, pieces that is easily mixed and matched to create different outfits - preferably an outfit for each day of the week (including weekends!). Seven outfits per piece, at least, is what I sit and strive for.

Otherwise, it turns into a piece that is too easily forgotten.

This is why a number of pieces in this outfit has been 'recycled' (so to speak) from last time.

The printed shirt retains its starring role in the outfit with the camisole and heels making a return statement. But despite the fact that the top and the shoes are back (and worn in the same way even I have to admit) it is pretty striking how two key changes basically changed the tone of this outfit from the last more casual look to this pretty strong silhouette.

Inspired by a number of pins on Pinterest (which you could peruse on my board here) maintained that 'spring is here' feeling by keeping the accent pieces light in contrast to the black chiffon top with a white blazer I spent a solid two months pining for and light jeans that gets a regular work out in my closet. The blazer gives it a really structured feel while the light-wash denim brings it down from super-fancy to something I could wear to my workplace without raising eyebrows or drawing questions as to my previous or future destination.

The big statement necklace from Forever 21 is included to add a just-so touch, but really lacks statement as the pastels blended with the pastels in the shirt. It was given to me by my sister, who became disenchanted with the look and so I salvaged it.

It tends towards the fancy side despite the casual approach, and so would only work on weekdays at work (where life tends to be a touch more structured) or for a fancy night out with friends for me, but that's my lifestyle. I'm sure it'd be great for everyday for some, too casual to go to work in for others.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Stylize: May flowers in April

Top - Necessary Clothing (Fall '13); Bottom - Forever21
(Summer '13); Camisole - H&M (Spring '14); Necklace -
Forever21 (Winter '14); Shoes - Payless (Spring '14)
Note to self: best find some nice gold bracelets to wear. Because I have none.

When I originally bought these jeans from Forever21 last July, I was actually taking aim at a pair of medium green jeans, because that was what the picture for the product appeared to have advertised the colour of these jeans.

Well they weren't a medium green. I got a minty green instead.

Funny how these things work out.

Unbeknownst to my slightly annoyed self at the time (I never did get that desired colour of green jeans ultimately) mint-coloured jeans - or really any piece in that particular shade - has become a huge trend this season what with how popular pastels of any colour is this year.

I can't yet decide if it is a trend driven by an actual fashion consortium several months in advance or it was driven by the fact that this past winter sucked.

And I mean sucked to the point where all of us are likely exhausted by our collection of sweaters in our closet, because that was honestly all we wore the last five months here in Canada.

So needless to say, the changing of the seasons and the fact that I can finally wear something that isn't just knee-high boots (bonus if they're covered in salt stains), jeans and a sweater layered with a long sleeve shirt beneath and a scarf on top has made me gone a little stir-crazy for my closet. Because after a time, I actually missed being able to wear my collection of chiffon blouses (an impossibility for me between the polar vortex outside and the freezer-like temperatures inside my office.

Which is why I pulled out this particular top today.

I actually bought this piece last fall and basically wore twice before the big nasty winter set in and it was too cold to wear this anywhere but in a sauna. I found it in People's StyleWatch magazine and I fell in love the print.

The print can be both the centerpiece of an outfit, as it is here, or can be an accent piece under the right kind of blazer thanks to its mostly neutral black base. It is see-through which means unless you mean to show off your undergarments is best worn with a camisole underneath.

And it is honestly the softest chiffon shirt I've ever owned.

Lately I've been having issues with itchy fabric in that it is irritating my skin, and the cheap chiffon you find at most fast-fashion outlets are definitely a big perpetrator. But I can fall asleep in this shirt because that's how comfortable and soft this is.

And it has put me on an eternal search for an equally comfortable chiffon top.

Add on a gold antique locket to match the antique flower print of the shirt with nude suede wedge peep-toe heels that absolutely screams warm weather and this is something I could wear both to work and to hang out with friends at a coffee shop or a restaurant. It is simple, easy but still says a lot. But if you wish to make it a touch fancier, you can further accessorize either with a gold belt (and the shirt tucked in), gold bracelets and a really nice purse. Add the right mix of hair and make-up and this can really make a statement.

Next time I'm going to recycle one of these pieces and make a totally brand new outfit that hopefully exudes a different flavour to this one, although both pieces are honestly easy to mix and match with anyone who has a really versatile closet. I really do want to see how far I can stretch each piece of my existing closet in order to see how many outfits.

And to honestly find a way to justify keeping what clothing I am choosing to keep instead of tossing away.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Bookworm: The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Crossposted from Goodreads.

"This book is a work of fiction. I made it up."

There are books that entertains, amuses, distracts and describes.

Then there are books that make you think.

I opened this review not with a quote from the narrative of The Fault in our Stars or even one famously said in the past that may be able to divine the impact of the story. But no, I used a fairly pedestrian quote from his Author's Note; a piece of writing that is sometimes only skimmed if observed at all. It is a fault of the impatient humanity in us all who is less occupied with the art of book-reading than simply getting to Point A in order to advance to Point B.

I had earlier opined that those who skipped or missed the contents of the Author's Note is a fool. I had since changed that opinion, but only because others may not value the thought behind it as much as I did, or else fail to observe the significance I found in it, in which case the Author's Note is therefore rendered meaningless.

Also, it's a young adult's book, and I cannot fault the young who feel, sometimes more than they should.

For me as an adult, in two paragraphs, John Green had forever obscured how I read the book, for better or for worse.

Because from there, I walked the tightrope between becoming emotionally involved and attached as some on GR obviously have based on both the reverent and enraged reviews, while also keeping in mind that the human emotions he was eliciting within us weren't from real people.

This whole world, this whole construct was a study in the abstract art of the seemingly opposite natures of love and death. And while he tried to tread carefully without patronizing or trivializing, from the start he knew that it is not a real interpretation of the real stuff people face every day, that for many it will trivialize or patronize.

But he never attempted or intended to make it such that it was or even could equal reality. Because imagination while powerful is not real.

The pipe is not a pipe. There is nothing here to either get angry at or sad or happy. Of course, you can get emotional with the idea, but then what really are you emotional about? If it is the presumption, there were none.

If it's because the story felt real or unreal to the point of it being an insult on your being, well according to the author, you're doing it wrong.

If the arrogance or maybe the irreverence didn't please you, well I can't help you there.

The book was engaging and simply written and yet exceedingly mature and complicated, the themes moving in-and-out of the fore at such a pace that I often had to stop and consider what I just read. So simply written, complicatedly thought, if you would allow for the visual paradox.

The primary characters were unrealistic is a huge complaint with some and would normally be one of mine. Between the perfect body of the ridiculously named Augustus Waters (Hazel Grace is passable, but barely) and the far too eloquent discussions of things that university students majoring in philosophy would fail to be able to qualify if even produce a counter-argument to.

But it didn't annoy me.

Instead I wondered if in creating the abstract, he allowed himself to write as if these teenagers did not suffer from our verbal impreciseness and poor grammar and was able to communicate as the voice in our head does, which is mostly far more intelligent than our mouth would ever be.

(Trust me, I do not communicate this articulately in real life.)

Additionally, with less than half the book to go, I started seeing that the stupid name(s) in addition to the 'body of the Adonis' (if you'd forgive the Twilight reference) was less so an attempt to ingratiate the romantics but more to make sarcastic reference to a common romance book trope, while additionally stressing how unreal this book is supposed to be.

(Nevermind the significance of an ellipses and when and where they are used in this book)

The book had its surprises, but none that stopped the heart and made you question the authority of the book: predictable and yet not without its thematic significance at every corner.

Predictable because it is a book about death and dying. Death is predictable because eventually everyone dies. It is life that is unpredictable. And yet it is a book directed at a crowd that for the most part does not know dying, cannot see death in their window or at their doorstep; those who are just starting life.

But it is also about love. And nothing is more unpredictable than that, without waxing philosophical on it.

Together they are two competing events, both tragedies and triumphs that are abstract opposites and yet strikingly similar things.

All this thinking did not stop me from feeling however. I did laugh, I did tear up, and I did get upset at times. Because my emotions were real, even if emotions were just as abstract as the novel itself.

Perhaps I am reading too far into this book, creating thought where there is none. Sometimes things are written because they just are and I am just a reader who fabricates and divines how to interpret it for myself and others, therefore making this story more than what it is supposed to be: made up.

I didn't have a fiction shelf on GR, largely because as a consumer of fantasy, the majority of my books are inherently fictional and so would turn out to be mostly redundant and frankly of little use.

Out of respect for the subject matter within this book however, and the characters and emotions that belong within it, I created a fiction shelf where this will reside.

Perhaps there will be others to join it. Life is unpredictable like that.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wearing it more than once

So I own a lot of clothing. And while I certainly try my best to donate as many pieces or more as I happen to purchase, the reality is that after awhile, the stuff in your closet tends to build up over time no matter what your do.

It's not even that I have a messy system or closet set up. Actually, all my stuff has its place and designated spot and if I find I'm running out of room, that's when I start ditching clothes. So there is a system in place to keep the clutter under control. 

(Of course, that's assuming I put everything where they should go. Which I do, but more often than not they can be an unfortunate casualty on the floor of my bedroom)

But still, just based on the loads of laundry I have to do, I have a LOT of clothing.

It's actually gotten to a point that I have to actively wear a different outfit with different pieces every day simply to make use of as many items as I can so as not to feel like I'm wasting my time buying new things or keeping old ones.

And it's a bit of a vicious cycle too, buying something new and trying to work it into your closet while at the same time trying not to wear certain pieces more than once at any given point and time or reproducing an outfit you already wore earlier in the week but with different items. 

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this. 

Really it was sparked by the perplexed and slightly annoyed realization that a lot of fashion bloggers (at least the popular ones) don't recycle their pieces in their blog posts. A lot of them are kind of one-and-dones unless they actually do recycle a piece strictly as part of a gimmick.

Even the basic pieces don't get seen more than once.

And it kind of annoyed me that these are supposedly normal people who live regular lives like us can have that kind of unlimited wardrobe where almost every piece is brand new and only ever photographed once in a full year. I mean, where does all that money come from where they can keep buying all these clothing? I shop cheap and even I struggle to keep up.

Also, I think part of this is just me trying to avoid picking up my clothing and putting away laundry in addition to formally making the changeover from winter to summer wardrobes. And me wondering precisely why I have so much freaking clothing anyway.

Ultimately, I want to see where I could go with each of my pieces. I think I've built up enough of a stable set of classic pieces (minus perhaps the LBD, because I never found a style I really liked in it) to really start focusing on recycling my clothing. And possibly decide if some pieces aren't worth keeping beyond the fashion expiry date.

My closet deserves the workout anyway.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Bookworm: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Crossposted from Goodreads.

"Expectation. That is the true soul of art. If you can give a man more than he expects, then he will laud you his entire life. If you can create an air of anticipation and feed it properly, you will succeed.

Conversely, if you gain a reputation for being too good, too skilled... beware. The better art will be in their heads, and if you give them an ounce less than they imagined, suddenly you have failed.

It is those words, spoken by a true mystery tucked away on the final three or so pages of the Words of Radiance that truly resonated at the very end.

Because, and without attempting to be presumptive of Brandon Sanderson's meaning behind those words, it was the task that we fantasy readers have set upon him after his tremendous first book of this series, given that it was held up in the same light as many already established legends in the genre.

And yet, that quote does more than just speak about the author's enormous task. The art of expectation and at its heart, the truth and lies of human perspective, really was a theme that wove itself quite profoundly throughout the story, though it took sincerely deep retrospection on my part to realize how deeply ingrained it was. Every character, from the good to the bad to the ones you wanted to strangled, from even the biggest names to the most menial of characters either struggled with this art, toyed with it, or tried to seize control of it. 

But that is human and a trial that is seen everywhere in fiction and non. But it is in the execution of it that made it artful. And while I cannot say what or how such battles resolved itself, if resolved at all without spoiling too much, I can say that their results were decidedly mixed.

Book two contained just as much world-building and character-establishing as the first book, proving the adage at least in Sanderson's written world that the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know.

But while the increase in complexity added a fascinating depth to the world and its central characters, it also really dampened the pacing of the story, particularly throughout the middle, where much of it was mostly establishing new relations and thickening plots, lacking much satisfactory progression. I admit that I found myself growing increasingly impatient and frustrated with the pacing, and made a bad habit of skipping ahead from time to time to ease it.

It is a trait that I noticed in his first book, one that was repeated in this one and I can't help but wonder if it is a common thread of his in his stories - in that he will spend an extraordinary amount of time creating a slow build mixed in with many infuriating clues but no resolution, before unleashing chaos in the final three-quarters of the book.

And when I say chaos, I mean a chaos that can be matched only a few times in fantasy literature. Think the Battle of Pelennor's Fields combined with the fist-pumping sensation experienced at the end of the Battle of Helm's Deep. And even that can't match the scope of the chaos.

That foreshadowing is common in every book, but the way Sanderson builds expectation is perhaps too effective to the point where impatience is inevitable.

And yet, here I am complaining about pacing when in truth, Sanderson's story moves. That is to say he didn't spend three, or four or in one really significant case... TWELVE massive books talking and talking and waiting on a big world-changing event. 

No, Sanderson got to his point swiftly and in some ways, way too soon for where society is in preparing for it. But is that not life, when a tragedy often comes sooner than you hope and when you are least prepared for it?

And we are more than unprepared, for truly the future is now uncertain now that what was foreshadowed had come to pass. We are now totally at the mercy of fate, because there is nothing that is now known for sure in this world. 

Granted, Sanderson doesn't have the shock value of A Song of Ice and Fire and in some ways doesn't play the game of gritty realism. But in the same breath it isn't playing said game because it is playing its own.

Despite some of my honest annoyances, including one gigantic spoiler that involves an unnecessary attraction at this point of the story in my opinion, Brandon Sanderson did not fail in the expectations that were given Book two of The Stormlight Archives.

He certainly lived up to my expectations. And he did it entirely too well, to the point that I'm already growing impatient for Book three.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Latest obsession: Ruche @

When I shop, particularly online shop, I try to do it with a certain aesthetic in mind within a certain price point. 

Classic. Easily mixed and matched. And elegant.

Mostly because I find that if I simply aimlessly shop online, I end up with an enormous amount of buyer's remorse. 

This is particularly true for when I'm shifting around in the uber-trendy but often annoying fashion world of Forever 21 - of which I tend to spend way too much time window shopping in. While enough of their designs do fit into my mental aesthetic (particularly their Love21 line) and the price is really really good, more often than not I find that the fabric and construction can be shoddy and therefore an uncomfortable piece to wear.

But when I found Ruche, a vintage-inspired store on the internet this spring, I felt like I hit the jackpot. Because it's perfect in its elegance and classic style that reminds me so much of the English countryside that I could almost picture Elizabeth Bennet wearing these!

Now granted, the price point of their items are in a higher bracket than F21's, falling more into the range of Dynamite and Jacob (but not quite as high as Club Monaco). But it was absolute treasure trove of pieces that fit into my mental aesthetic, from skirts to dresses to tops. Styles that I love to death but struggle constantly to find at a price I can afford it at.

And these are absolutely affordable.

Luckily, when I did find it, I already had a small list of things I wanted and was able to focus on those pieces - lace shirts and tanks to wear under blazers, of which I purchased two pieces (a tank top and a peplum top) and a lace inlaid dress for a nice night out, which I ended up settling on a beautiful steel blue lace sheath dress all in small.

Not only were they shipped in extremely quickly (and free once you exceed $75 dollars, which on this site really isn't hard to do due to the heightened price point) and hassle-free, but the fabric they were made of are amazingly soft and of a high quality! I couldn't believe how well made they were.

I couldn't believe how cute they were and can't wait to wear them with my existing clothing collection! (Hopefully with pictures)

Now knowing all this, I am having an extremely hard time not going absolutely insane with the site. And I don't mean a little insane either - we're talking HUNDREDS of dollars being spent on pieces that I've found since the initial discovery - from pencil skirts to dresses to jewelry.

I love it. But I can already hear my bank account sobbing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Seeking style inspiration: Kate Middleton

Everyone doesn't need a style icon in life. Most people go through life without one and do just fine when it comes to dressing themselves actually. 

But I'm not one of those people. I'm actually someone who are just the right blend of clueless, tomboy and lazy that without some help and positive reinforcement, would leave home looking a bit like a walking fashion disaster on most days. 

So for the last few years, and moreso since I got a proper job in a place that can be best described as professionally super casual, I've been desperately seeking a style icon in which to both stabilize my wardrobe from funky and random trends that doesn't actually go together to a good foundation of go-to staples that will make getting dressed in five minutes (a frankly frequent and terribly bad habit of mine) a little less stressful.

Why a few years? Because finding the right style icon is actually hard. And I went through the full gamut of ideas from Lauren Conrad to Alexa Chung for the right balance of casual and professional and never quite found something I felt suited my tastes or turned out to be a touch too trendy.

Until recently when I realized that there was one person I kept referring back to in my wardrobe and particularly shoe choices: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. AKA Kate Middleton.

How did a tomboy end up settling on a princess as a style icon and inspiration?

Well let's start with the fact that I found her casual wardrobe of jeans and a button to be both really cute but also really put together and comfortable looking - perfect for working days. And I loved how she recycled pieces like a real live person, unlike television characters and enough actual celebrities who never seem to wear the same piece more than once.

And all her design choices aren't super trendy or reliant on the times - she chooses solid staples that will last through ages - from striped shirts to navy blazers to black pumps, she makes it easy to mix and match pieces for every occasion and they are pieces that will last you years regardless of fashion's fickle mind.

But what of her actual princess event attire? The ones in skirts, dresses and shoes that honestly is a little too dressy for life at my office? 

Well first, I learned not to look at the dresses (although I love love LOVE her preference for lace inlaid dresses) but the accessories, outerwear and make-up. 

While her hats are out of the question, her jackets makes me wish I could actually afford a Burberry jacket (HAH!) and are easy to emulate using other brands (Although realistically, people don't need more than three or four winter coats) . The shoes she wears as well as transitions really smartly with other more casual outfits.

And her make-up and hair is always super easy to handle and manageable.

Already I can see my closet make that slow transition to her easy, mix-and-match British sensibility that she has. It's a new feeling to embrace, in addition to getting my head around the value of layering, but I can't say I don't really like how my style has matured of late.

Despite the hit it takes on my wallet from time to time. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Assorted goodies of a creative mind

With my book reviewing world on hold due to the reading of Words of Radiance, and my video gaming habits on a bit of a hiatus in order to clear my brain, I've transitioned into a bit of fanfiction writing as a means to waste time and divulge various plot bunnies that bounce around my head.

My work in fanfiction is sporadic at best, non-existent at its worst and in large and long intervals. Most of the time it's just getting well and plain stuck, other times it's me spending far too much time researching and getting bored of the subject matter because I soon feel as if I'm in over my head.

And I'm nit-picky too. I like my stories to be canon and believable. I like my characters to be true to the characterization they come from. And I like my stories to be accurate.

I did manage to spit out a quick 1700 word drabble on Olaf from Frozen in the last few days, but other than that, the other works have been mostly slow moving, with at least one epic on the move.

And I'm doing my best to at least get the work completely written before going ahead and publishing it. Which is how most writers actually operate anyway given that you don't hand out chapters when the book isn't even complete.

But I'll be honest, I'd make a terrible author. Not without some kind of absurd deadline breathing down on me anyway.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lazy Saturdays

From Pinterest
So today I spent far too much time on Pinterest looking for casual yet cut outfits I could wear to work tonight for no other reason than the fact that I felt like procrastinating.

(Granted, in a change of things, I made my bed, folded a load of clean laundry and separated another dirty load in which to run on my next trip. So it wasn't as if I was completely idle today - like most weekends where I'd be tied ceremoniously to my computer gaming)

Casual because I work in a really relaxed space where showing up in a dress is left to those that work in front of the camera and not behind. And because it's Saturday and there's no reason for me to be dressed uncomfortably on a weekend.

Especially when one is dealing with an allergy attack that has her body partially breaking out in really itchy and uncomfortable hives.

(News flash: I am allergic to everything.)

The outfit on the left is what inspired me for today's outfit but with a few different elements to reflect what I actually have in my closet.

Like for instance, nothing in the world presently will ever justify the purchase of UGGS to me.

Despite my best attempts, I haven't quite nailed down Sunday's casual outfit. Well I narrowed it down enough that I'm going to be using my denim shirt but that's about it. We'll see what my mood is tomorrow, although I wouldn't put it past my own lazy self to just eschew the planning and just go to my standard blue jeans and sweater combo. Because that's easy and can be assembled in less than 10 minutes.

Because life can be too busy to waste time sometimes.

Friday, March 7, 2014

There and back again: A blogging tale by an inconsistent blogger

So I have about five minutes between doing laundry and reading Words of Radiance to type out a quick thought on blogging and why I suck at it.

(By the way, Words of Radiance and its author Brandon Sanderson are phenomenal. I've been describing the series as "the next Game of Thrones" to a lot of my illiterate friends. Seriously, if you like fantasy books, you'll thank me for recommending this)

First, it's the fact that I create a gimmick for it and quickly tire of the topic and premise. The second is simply that when you hit a point that it feels like work and not something I enjoy is when I just stop wholesale from doing it because I find other things I'd rather do.

Like reading.

Albeit, I missed writing regularly and getting my creative juices flowing once more. So here I am, back again and attempting to re-invent myself through the blog that I felt best reflected my life and what I'm up to.

But I'm going to drop the gimmicks and the themes and the planning when it comes to running a blog and just let it reflect me and my insane lack of being able to focus on one specific topic from month to month. Because it is tiresome after X number of months.

From this point out, I would rather focus on what's on my mind, what topic "grinds my gears" so to speak and what interests me. Like right now, I'm really into reading a wide variety of books, the movie Frozen and worrying about finances despite wanting to buy pretty things.

Can you tell I just dropped a large amount of money on things I don't need, money that I should realistically be saving and/or putting towards various debts of mine? Needless to say I'm not the best money manager.

I think my five minutes are up. We'll see how long this lasts this time around. :)