Shanghai was my First Love

September 2017, a major milestone happened to me. I flipped my nationality and placed my right hand over my chest and recited the pledge of allegiance to the United States of America.

This change granted me a new privilege. The US passport now opens the gates to allow my freedom to travel more countries than China could. Yet my dad questioned: Of all places you can now fly to, why are you still going back to Shanghai?

My cliched answer at the time was: because our family is there.

But as I sat in the airport bus back to my mother’s flat in Putuo District in Puxi, Shanghai, I marveled at my city and realized she means so much more to me than just family.

She was my first love.

She is a beauty deeply rooted in Chinese history but far more advanced in technology than one acknowledges. Her magnificence is a blend between contemporary succession and old fashioned heritage. She is a time traveler sharing her past with monumental buildings from European influence with paved streets donning juggernaut monitors displaying new age art.

She was my first love.

She is New York, Los Angeles & Vegas combined.

Shanghai’s skyline dazzles and dizzies as you peer out across the Bund. The Statue of Liberty is pretty. She may be tall & green but we have the Pearl Tower that glistens with dancing lights.

Shanghai’s palette is sophisticatedly crafted. Los Angeles is the heart for foodies with street eats to high end dining, but Shanghai takes international to a whole new level with fine dining at every corner as an art form rather than providing a meal to its patrons.

The Strip owns debauchery, we all know this. Yet Shanghai has her own secrets. Her mysterious speakeasies and classy nightclubs provide an avenue for fun without the overdone fraternity children prancing around acting stupid. Shanghai has an elevated way of drinking and partying. She can have her fun and be regal too.

I can provide an infinite list of things to do and ways to get around. Sure she’s got a few little imperfections but she is my love and I will always come home.

Because not only does she hold my family together, she holds my heart.

 

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Start with this Reading List

2 weeks ago I pledged to finish 12 books before the clock struck midnight on 2019. I’ve since finished another book and am well underway with my next few targets.

Okay so this isn’t some soapbox exclamation that my list is the recipe for happiness for everyone but I love to fall down a rabbit hole and explore everything these books have to offer. It’s an escape where I’m screaming YESS YESS YESSSSSSSSS — tell me more and teach me deeply. Knowledge & wisdom from books will always transcend further than mind-numbing telly.

  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    • What makes me happy about it?  Have you ever tasted something so decadent and rich in flavor it felt like swimming in the river of chocolate from Charlie & the Chocolate factory? Doerr’s prose makes you experience it all.
    • Status: I’m currently Day 2 in Shanghai and still plan to have this wrapped before I touchdown back in Cali.
  • Wildcard by Marie Lu (Book slated for Q3 2018 release)
    • What makes me happy about it? Three words: Female power overload
    • Status: About to pre order!! Those of you who haven’t heard of Marie Lu need to 100% make sure you do now. She’s an amazing writer for the YA and I’m seriously honored to have met her last summer. She tweeted to me on my birthday out of a request from a dear friend. She’s just an awesome human being and her stories inspires me to write and perpetuate the female protagonist.
  • Meditation by Marcus Aurelius
    • What makes me happy? Ryan Holiday swears by this, my life has 180’d since I’ve exercised Stoicism, and the excitement itself that I’m about to read the teachings from one of the OG’s simply makes me leap with joy.
    • Status: Book ordered & delivered. I’m so excited to open my package when I get home in July!
  • The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
    • What makes me happy about this? Ferris found the loophole we all need. The key that frees the chain around our ankles. Life has never been about work for me, I just thrive to be in it and yet he found a way to do it with more efficiency.
    • Status: book delivered to my flat in Cali. I love having physical copies.
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
    • What makes me happy? Rhimes is a creative storytelling demigoddess. She guts us with plot twists. She champions other women and she’s human. She’s so god awfully human like all of us and that motivates the hell out of me. I can be fabulous and so painfully human at the same time as well.
  • You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
    • Status: I’m awful at self-help books. Its been a bit rocky to finish them out. (I received & 7 Effects during college and it’s still sitting on my nightstand waiting to fulfill it’s destiny with me) But! Sincero has humor, Sincero has realism. I’m going to finish this because I’m already a baddie, I just need a reminder every once in a while.
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
    • Status: delivered to my flat! I’m ready to sink my teeth.
  • My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
    • Status: We all need fiction in life, especially Kinsella’s casual light read stories to fulfill the days when we just need a homegirl by our side.
  • [REMOVED] Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them By JK Rowling
  • [ADDED] The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
    • Why it makes me happy: You mean to tell me the tactics I’ve used in life has been an actual device for power?! This is the Yoda for all things power and I am the young Padawan thirsting for more.
  • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • [CODENAMED] My friend is writing a Trilogy and I’m beta reading Book 1.

9 more books to go, 4 of which I’ve basically sprinted through half. It’s rather cathartic to read and thrilling to log about it with a mission.

I hope you all find this list helpful in your journey to happiness.

SATC: the friends I’ve always wanted

In my quest to live alone in my late twenties while I sort out my life, I’ve come to realize there’s quite a bit of down time between getting off from work and sleep.

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix & Hulu, it’s fostered a new routine: binge watch old shows and reconnect with some of my favorite heroines.

Time & time again though, I find myself harkening back to SATC. Yup, Sex & the City with Carrie’s unrequited love for Big, Samantha’s unwavering demand for her individuality, Miranda’s unforgiving nature to put work always first, and Charlotte’s undying hunt for the model husband.

Samantha struts strength in her Louboutins and brings independence towards every relationship in her life. It’s always about Samantha. It’s about putting her wants and needs first and never compromising or sacrificing that for anyone or anything. Going through a breakup? Samantha would be the first you’d text and by 7PM you’re already 3 scotches deep, eyeing the 6 foot 3 beachy manbun AND his best friend with the perfect jawline. She’ll catch on and give her nod of approval and say, “Options girl, you now got options instead of the loser you were tied to three hours ago.”

Miranda’s climbed the glass ceiling and fully smashed it when she became a partner at her firm. What an inspiration as she juggled being a single mom while she continued to be a top lawyer in NYC. The days we feel we can’t have it all, we all channel a little inner Miranda and remember we can do it and to keep going.

I want nothing more than to have the positivity Charlotte shines in all her endeavors. She’s able to find the most radiant flower in the darkest nook and cranny. Imagine going through a rough day and calling her up to come over with wine. You know she’ll have your apartment smelling like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies & buttery popcorn evenly salted to perfection while she sits with you on your loveseat listening to your problems.

Last but certainly not least, Carrie. We all learn through her mistakes. We all carry a little piece of her as we go through our own adulthood and trials in love. She taught us that in a way, we tend to always fall for the same person because we gravitate towards what we like. She gave us the hall pass to go back to the ex because sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. She documented her pain the way we type love into words on pages. We bleed suffering onto this blog holding on to memories the way she did in her column.

These four forces have been such role models in my upbringing. I guess they’ve always been my friend as I made my own mistakes and confronted my own failures.

My Home Alone | A Christmas Story

I’ve lived so long lost in stories that promised happy endings. Stories that gave me a picture perfect family. Characters that showed valor and true faith in each other. Fairytales that willed me into believing my life had to fit this flawless mold.

But real people don’t get these fairytales. They get curveballs thrown at them everyday. They get dysfunctional families that tear each other part and love stories that end in anger and disappointment. But that’s okay.

Our stories are deep rooted in shaping who we are and grounded in to making us stronger as we survive every chapter of our lives.

Every single family is as dysfunctional as the next. I remember questioning why I was thrown in the worst of them yet, but after hearing people’s stories of their own troubles, I’ve come to realize we’re all the same. We go through these rite of passages that make us human and make us invincible to bullshit. Maladies hit, heartbreak wear us down, and yet each of us still wake up the next morning hoping for a better day. If it doesn’t, we just keep tricking our minds until we believe it to be true. Mind over matter each and every day until we get through it all.

  1. So what if your alone on holiday? Grab a book and dive into an adventure with Adelina in The Young Elites book series.
  2. Feeling under the weather from a nasty flu? Take the time to channel your inner strength and thank your body for the resilience it’s provided you time and time again. Our bodies are crazy wolverines. We get a cut and our skin only needs a few days to heal the wound.
  3. Missing someone in your life? Write about your feelings. If that person is still in  your life, write a note dedicated to them so they can read it when you’re reunited. They’ll feel special you’ve thought of them and you’ll know you’ve made someone’s day brighter. If this person is no longer in your life, write them a letter anyways. Read it over and realize what that person meant to you in that moment. It’s a great start to self discovery.

It’s Christmas. The first of many I’m sure that I might be spending alone as my family has started to drift apart and go their separate ways with their new families. But I’m using that time to find my independence. I’m cherishing the new found hours to write more and make peace with this tranquility.

I wish you all a happy holidays and not let fake fairytales ruin the magic of Christmas. You are what you make of it. Today? I’m enjoying an oreo milkshake in California while I remember the things I’m grateful for. I’m finally getting back into writing my book and I hope Santa visits each and every one of you granting you your deepest holiday wishes.

Loneliness in a Relationship

You made me feel like I lived a very lonely life. I felt alone most of the time- even surrounded by friends. When I was with you, there was a part of me that no longer wished to be with you. I questioned myself why at the time but didn’t understand it until now.

3 months post breakup and I’m finally getting to know myself. The person I should’ve been watching out for. In these 3 months I’ve filled it with so many great memories from traveling to the east coast to celebrate my birthday to going out more with people I rarely would ever dream of going out with.

I was itching to run, but at the time I felt so dependent on you. Maybe it wasn’t you who held me captive in the relationship but myself for not being strong enough to move on long after the ship had already sailed.

I was lonely IN our relationship because you didn’t care about me. You said you did, but your actions didn’t. All the times we were hanging out, it was on your terms. Your video games. Your VR set. Your friends because you didn’t like MY friends.

You liked to stay up late watching stupid adult cartoons, so I always went to bed alone. I woke up earlier in the day since I’m a morning person and had coffee while I read. We wouldn’t say hello until 3 hours after the fact. Then I’d be hungry for lunch but you’ve just started your day and wanted your “alone” time to smoke weed and go on reddit.

Reflecting back on the two and half years I spent with this routine, I’ve learned to never compromise my weekends again. Those four walls confined me for so long that I settled. I lost the will to go out and explore novel things. I got so used to the quiet and the same insane thing over and over again that I lost my voice to speak up because I simply just gave up.

Then I met someone. He doesn’t mean a single thing to me – I barely even know him. But we have fun. We talk about work, hobbies… interests…

….then he holds me to sleep at night.

Something you’ve never done. The excuse was always you’re not comfortable and that you wanted to sleep.

I wake up in his arms.

Something that’s never happened to us.

I wake up in his arms every time we sleep on the same bed.

How can someone so new

..already fit better than you?

 

 

[5] reasons he’s your Mr. Wrong

What makes him the Mr. Wrong in all the right ways? Here’s the telltale list:

  1. Everything about him is yummylicious, he has no flaws. His hair, his chiseled bod, his cute cute smile when he looks at you, and most of all his playfulness in which you already know deep down there’s an expiration date on this relationship you have with this manchild. If he has no flaws, you’re clearly at a stage where you’re blinded by his twinkling Edward Cullen skin and thousand watt smile. It’s okay to notice flaws and accept them. But if you’re telling all your gal pals at brunch that this dude is 100% flawless… check yourself before you wreck yourself. At one point, he’ll fall off the pedestal and you’ll be hurt by how much you were blinded.
  2. You want the limited supply. You know you really shouldn’t like him because he rarely ever replies back and when he does, he just seems aloof- all the more reasons for you to want him more, right? We never want the surplus of resources now do we? We’re always coveting something when it’s “limited.” It’s crazy how much we analyze a mere text. Ask him, “hang out later?” and he replies, “Yeah hit me up.” Cue the mind going bonkers with: “No smiley face… is he not interested?!” Or “Okay, he replied back in less than 10 minutes, he must be into me” or “Does he really mean for me to call him? Should I wait until he calls?”
  3. Making plans and flaking. Errr, red alert! If a true man, (not a fuckboy) made plans to see you, he’d follow through. I get the personal emergencies that could arise but if he’s making plans with you and flaking more than a few times, you know you’re not a priority. I don’t care how adorable those dimples are! You deserve someone who would put you in the priority you deserve. If you’re blocking out your schedule to spend time with him, then he should be doing the same. Don’t be an option!
  4. The Chameleon Paradigm. Do not forget the person you are. I’m sure we’ve all done this at one point in our lives. I’ll be frank, there was once a crush I wanted to impress so bad, I even added Facebook likes to something he’d be into as well. (Lame, I know, but at least I’m woman enough to admit it) Just because he loves loves loves watching basketball, does not mean you should be studying up on J.R. Smith’s draft history. He should like you for the differences that make you unique. So if he admires Game of Thrones, it doesn’t mean you should watch the first 6 seasons in one week so you two have something to talk about. He’ll have his friends for that. If you find yourself changing your spots to make him like you better… you’ve already fallen prey to what I call the Chameleon Paradigm.
  5. The shoe just doesn’t seem to fit. No matter what, there’s always a question in your mind whether to trust him or whether he’s right for you. The allure in the mystery is what keeps you interested, but is that really what you want? Stop trying to piece something together if there’s always a missing piece. Fact of the matter is, the pieces you hold won’t fit because he’s not the right puzzle.

If you can relate- pump the brakes. Look at yourself in the rear view mirror and just stop. Stop freaking out. Stop overanalyzing. If it feels so frustrating now, are you sure this is what you want to continue on with? When it’s right, and trust me, this is going to take time and age, you’ll be less anxious and more happy.

“but some part of it will always not feel right”

I was trying to explain to her what she could not grasp.

I wasn’t unhappy in my relationship by any means, maybe just stuck in a conundrum.

“It’s like there’s a bottle and a cap, and no matter how I try to screw on the cap, it doesn’t seem to fit perfectly –

It still functions as a bottle in that the cap screws on and nothing will spill out nor would anything fall in. The bottle still works, but some part of it will always not feel right.”

That was the best way for me to explain my conundrum.

Prick

He leaves a thorn in my sides as each passing day goes by that we are together.

Toxic relationships grow and grow. The thorns prick my skin one by one; day by day until there’s no surface left to puncture me. He’s taken all of me.

So when the time finally comes, and I’ve mustered enough bravery to leave and let it all go, it takes one day at a time to pluck out each thorn he’s left in me.

The recovery is painful, they say. The recovery is hard.

And as each day I pull with might, I feel the twinge of throbbing memories being yanked out. The petals glisten and cheer.

The buds start to say, it’s one step closer to leaving it behind. Thorns no longer impaling my emptiness but piling up on the ground where I left the rest of that darkness.

 

6AM

6am is my favorite time of the day. The world actually comes to a halt. Flurries of emails haven’t stormed my phone. Streets haven’t been stacked with cars armed for swerving battles. The day is open and quiet. My mind has a small snippet of tranquility.

The timer on my coffee machine sets off and gorgeous brewing amber races for my mug. The scent fogs my living room while the sun barely peeks out yawning and stretching its sunshine through the clouds.

My keyboard readies itself to create symphonies. The flickering line in an open doc waiting for today’s rhythm to start. I lightly place my fingers above and start to type; spilling feelings, rage, characters with unimaginable valor, and pasts with wounded scars.

My mind is clear and hopeful that for the next 24 hours maybe just maybe… my life and the stories I create have a chance of something new, something great, and something memorable. 

6am is my favorite time of day.

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