Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Questions to ask yourself

On my second day of history class, the teacher presented us with a pop quiz. I thought to myself, "Crap. I only skimmed the chapter and have no idea what it was about." Instead, the 4 questions were personal questions so he could get to know us better.

1.) Why are you taking this history class?
2.) Why are you in college?
3.) What are your hobbies and avocations?
4.) Describe your dream history class.

Within these 4 questions, I discovered a lot about myself, and I realized that I often don't give myself time to clearly and mindfully reflect/think about myself. In fact, I spend a lot of my time thinking about other people and how I compare.

I think it would be a good idea to start asking and answering some questions for myself weekly.

What relationships have ended? But you can’t let go?

-Ex-boyfriend. I think he goes to my school and I may have seen him. We didn't have a good ending and for many years I told myself I didn't want or need him as a friend. I know things would be awkward if he were to approach me (6 years later) and I honestly don't miss him. I'm not convinced he'd be a good friend to have, and he'd probably make my life messier. I feel terrible having this negative weight on my conscience, but at the same time, my life feels cleaner this way. It's been 6 years and I have a new boyfriend that I love, but every day I fear running into you. 

-Former Roomie. A whole continent divides us but I still miss you so much. I don't even know how to contact you anymore. I considered you my bestest friend ever. We haven't talked in years and perhaps you're too busy for me or run with a different crowd now but I'll always want to be your friend.

I never just VENT. I think it's unfair to make someone listen to your problems just for the sake of your need to vent. So if anyone has any advice as to how to deal with these, let me know!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

First Bits of 2015

Max's family is serious about holiday decorations, which I adore, but cleaning it up is the worst part. I do it every year as a sign of my appreciation since they take me in every holiday season but it's something I dread. It's the combination of the amount of cleaning required and the symbolism of the end of the festivities. Noah had fun jumping around the decorations that I had strewn on the floor. Isn't he the cutest!?!?

Managed to squeeze in two play dates with friends!!! The second photo is of a "Hat Party" I threw, in which we all just wore a hat and went to dinner. Love them all for being so down with my crazy ideas.

This is the 3rd year I've had to completely pack Max's belongings for a move due to his work commitments. Am I the best girlfriend or what!?!? 

To break up the monotony and torture of packing Max's belongings for the 3rd year in a row, I walked down the street to eat at a new Thai restaurant. I will miss Pasadena so much!!!! The walkability in Pasadena is what captured my heart. There aren't too many towns like Pasadena.

Since Max wasn't feeling well at work, I decided to take Metrolink to San Clemente to meet him. It was the first time I actually got to marvel at Union Station. These are both wings of the station that are blocked off and unused!!! What a waste.

My Metrolink ride from Downtown LA to San Clem was $13.50 and the train dropped me off right across the street from the beach!!! Max wasn't going to be able to reach me until nightfall and the neighboring area was barren and kinda sketchy, so I decided to walk the muddy beach trail to get to the more lively area. It was a wonderful idea. I avoided the streets and had a marvelous coastal view of the sunset. The weather was perfect.

The next day, Max and I went to Disneyland. It was Monday, January 12th, and I expected the park to be a ghost town due to the numerous closures of major attractions (Haunted Mansion, Matterhorn, Splash Mountain, World of Color, Fantasmic), but the influx of Frozen-themed attractions (8, I believe) brought the crowds back in. Regardless, we had a wonderful time.

On our last day in LA, Max and I had a farewell lunch with Clint at our favorite restaurant, Tender Greens. We also played some farewell Smash Bros in line and after we ate. We will both miss Clint very much :(

This was the farewell sunset that guided us on our drive up north.

The new semester has started for me, and yet I still don't feel "at home" here. I think all of Socal will always be my home <3

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My PRK (Laser Eye Surgery) Experience

Because I'm a shopaholic, I like to torture myself by looking at various websites that lure me into spending money that I don't have. Little did I know that my stumbling upon the Groupon website on one particular day would lead to a life-changing experience.

***I would like to state that I am receiving no compensation or benefits for my post. All opinions are my own.

In early December, I happened to be casually browsing the Groupon website (avoiding studying for finals) when I found the Lasik Vision Institute offering LASIK laser eye surgery for both eyes for $1395. It sounded too good to be true.

When I clicked on the link, the Groupon stated that after purchasing, a consultation would be required, the Groupon would cover LASIK or PRK for both eyes–depending on the recommendation of the doctor–3 post-op exams, and 1 year assurance.

As with most Groupons, I assumed the deal was still too good to be true. I looked up their Yelp page, their company website, any information on the resident doctor for the local facility, and at the medical license of said doctor for any malpractice or lawsuit details. Everything checked out. I discovered that my local doctor was one of the first doctors in the area that performed laser eye surgery, in addition to successfully completing nearly 25,000 eye surgeries. 

I decided to tell Max about it and he flipped out after hearing me explain all the fine print and details regarding the Groupon. 

"This is an amazing deal. You have to do it. I will buy it for you."

Max immediately purchased the Groupon and I immediately scheduled my consultation. Max had gotten PRK over a year ago, and his procedure cost nearly $5K. Despite the cost and recovery time, he still has no regrets. 

The doctors did all the typical eye test stuff: vision, pressure, looking for cancer, etc. After all their tests, they determined that I was better suited for PRK because of my thinned corneas due to 10+ years of extended contact lens use. 

The difference between LASIK and PRK
*These are my "explain like I'm 5" versions. You should still consult with a doctor.

LASIK is less invasive. They slice your cornea to create a flap, pull it back, shoot the lasers in to correct your eyesight, then put the flap back down. The recovery time is faster; most people can see clearly within a day. The only risk is if you rub your eye or there's any friction/impact, the corneal flap can wrinkle and then you'd have to go back to the doctor to have them reset the flap. 

PRK is more invasive. It requires removing the corneal layer, shooting lasers in, then wearing a contact lens for a week to protect the eye. After a week, the contact lens is removed and the eye is allowed to further heal. The recovery time is longer and it is more painful, but instead of having the risk of a vulnerable corneal flap that can wrinkle, your eye grows a brand new layer. 

The Groupon
During my consultation, I was approved for PRK, and I did also confirm that the Groupon was definitely too good to be true. The Groupon cost of $1395 covered BASIC laser eye surgery, which meant that if your eyesight was -1.75 or better, you'd be good. However, I was -4.75, which meant I required more customized laser surgery. That turned out to be an additional $500 per eye. I also opted for lifetime assurance for $200. Despite these additional charges, my total eye surgery cost still equated to 50% less than what Max payed for his. So I booked an appointment!

I was given prescriptions for a pain eye drop, 2 different antibiotic eye drops, 6 pills of Tylenol with codeine, and went to Target to purchase preservative-free Refresh lubricating eye drops (OTC) and a huge bottle of Vitamin C pills which they encourage you to take daily for 1 year. I am fortunately still under my dad's amazing health insurance plan and all my prescribed medicines came out to about $70. Max had no insurance and paid almost $400.

The Surgery Day
Surgery day flew by! I can barely remember the actual details of what happened.

First, I was taken into a room where an optometrist measured my eyesight (I think) again and then I was brought to a waiting room. There, the doctor gave me a traveling case to hold all my eye surgery-related drops and meds in addition to:

-Clear plastic sleeping goggles (to protect myself against any slumber-induced eye bonking/rubbing)
-Black sunglasses
-Cold compress gel pack

The doctor also reminded me of how to use my eye drops and luckily the rules were easy. Use all bottles 4 times a day with 5-10 minutes between so the eye drops don't get flushed out by the others. I followed a routine of using the eye drops around breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before bed. I was also free to use the lubricated eye drops every hour or as needed.

Last photo of me with my stupid, thick glasses!

The surgery itself was swift. I wore a cap to block out my hair, laid down in the chair, and here are the steps:
1.) Gauze was tucked in the band of the hair cap over my ears to catch eye drop run-off
2.) The doctor taped a plastic eye patch to protect my left eye since he was starting with my right.
3.) The doctor gently inserted that clampy-tool thing to prop my eyelids open.
4.) The first drop was a numbing drop. No stinging. We waited for a few minutes for these drops to set in.
5.) Second drop was a drop to dilate my pupils.
6.) Next drop was what I would probably assume was the acid. It didn't burn or anything, but I say acid because it's the drop that softens the eye tissue and enables the doctor to remove the outer corneal layer.
7.) To remove my outer corneal layer, he used a tool that I would best describe as an electric toothbrush. Once again, no pain, but I did feel the pressure of the doctor gently pushing the brush into my eye. I could also feel the vibrations of the brush. It was strange and foreign but it ended quickly. Max's procedure is what I would describe as prehistoric: they used a wand with a "O" ring, placed it over his iris, shoved his eyeball deep into his eye socket until only the iris was exposed, poured the acid within the ring that was over the iris, and sponged away the top layer.
8.) Now, the lasers. For my procedure, I got the custom laser package since I was so blind. It was essentially the robot-handled version of the surgery. It included laser tracking of the movement and shape of my eye to ensure the most safe and accurate laser-shooting to correct my vision. Max had the human-handled version; he had to concentrate and stare at a single laser as his doctor manually tracked the laser to shoot into his eye. I had to stare at the laser for about 15 seconds total. I remember smelling a slight burning, but nothing too scary.
9.) To finish, the doctor flushed my eye with several eye drops that felt cool and refreshing, as if the eye drops were refrigerated. This was my favorite part.
10.) A contact lens was placed in my eye. This lens stays on for a week like a bandage since my cornea was now weak and vulnerable.
11.) Repeat procedure on the other eye!

The entire procedure took about 7 minutes total. As soon as I finished, the doctor was preparing for another patient. I think I only looked at my doctor's face for 10 seconds. They had a factory line of patients going.

After the Surgery
My dad drove me to my surgery and quickly left to go to Starbucks, thinking that he'd be waiting for hours. I remember calling and calling and waaaaiting for him to get me. We were both surprised with how quickly my procedure ended. I was able to see immediately. My uncorrected vision was garbage; without glasses, I couldn't see anything clearly if it wasn't 1 foot away from my eyes. Immediately after the procedure, anything within 20 feet was fairly clear. Luckily, the numbing drops from the beginning of my surgery were still in effect, so I got to enjoy my new eyesight for approximately 3-4 hours.

Weekend Recovery

I swear I'm not crying!

 Once the numbing drops wore off, the pain kicked it and my vision got worse. I basically stayed glued to the couch for 3 whole days with my eyes closed. My eyes were extremely sensitive to any light at this point and any movement of my eyeball was uncomfortable. Imagine rubbing sandpaper over your eyes. That's what any movement of my eyeballs felt like. By laying on the couch in a sleeping position with my eyes closed and my dark sunglasses on, I could trick my eyeballs into relaxing/rolled up in my head and preventing any painful eye movements. Also, the contact lens started to feel like having dirt in your eye. As a seasoned contact lens-wearing veteran, it was something I was used to, but coupled with the pain it all sucked.

To pass the time, I enjoyed using my cold compress and listening to podcasts. I tried sleeping as much as possible throughout the day. If I had trouble sleeping at night due to my extended hours of daytime napping, I would take my codeine to help me pass out.

To explain the photo above: Imagine your eyes feeling like an open wound and your eyelids are the fresh bandage. You'd want to keep the bandage on all the time. Occasionally I would have to open my eyes to walk to the kitchen to get myself food or have to look at my computer to get a new podcast up. Opening my eyes HURT. My eyes were so vulnerable to the environment. Luckily, I have OVERACTIVE tear ducts; I tear up when I yawn every time and they would water up as a result of the pain. My tears helped keep my eyes lubricated, which was nice. Max does not have active tear ducts so he had to use the Refresh drops constantly. Anyways, my face is strange. If my tear ducts are working, then it makes my nose react (red and runny) and my lips swell as if I'm crying. So yes, that's what my face kinda looks like when I simply yawn in class as well.

First Week Recovery

Puffy eyes and fat eyelid folds!

I don't know her actual title, but the lady that handled my contracts and payment assured me that most people that had their surgery on Friday would be able to drive themselves to work by Monday. NOT TRUE for me! I was still very much blind. There was no way I could safely operate a vehicle or read any paperwork or stare at a computer! By Monday, the pain had mostly subsided; I now felt restless and wanted to do things around the house. If I felt pain, it was because I kept my eyes open for too long and strained my eyes by looking around. I was not able to use my phone or computer unless my face was right up to the screen. I felt like making meatballs in the kitchen and had to hunch down like the Hunchback of Notre Dame in order to see what I was chopping. Every menial task had to be interrupted with frequent trips to my bed or couch to relax my eyeballs. I can only describe my eyeballs as feeling exhausted.

Changes in Vision, The First Week
Because the outer cornea layer heals itself starting from the outside perimeter to the inside, my vision fluctuated every day. One day my left eye would be better than my right, the next day they'd switch. I remember 1-2 days of having to stare at everything ridiculously close like nose-to-the-glass close, then the following day having clear vision as long as it was 3-4 feet in front of me. Some days I felt like I was looking through foggy glass, and some days only some parts of the glass were foggy. I remember having terrible peripheral vision for a couple days, so I would bump into things that were to the side of my body like door ways and furniture. It was frustrating to deal with the daily changes in my vision, but overall I was thankful that I could see!

Although I could now keep my eyes open, they were still sensitive to light. I kept my sunglasses on indoors for 1 whole week after the procedure. It felt so much more comfortable with my sunglasses on. Oh, and breezes suck. Max and his family took me to see a neighborhood decked out with holiday lights during the evening and sadly I couldn't enjoy it. I wore my sunglasses and squinted most of the time to protect my eyes from the wind and cold.

The worst pain occurred when I would wake up from my deep sleep. When you go into a deep sleep, your eyeballs roll up into your head. When you start to emerge from that cycle, your eyeballs start moving. Emerging from that cycle hurt like a bitch! It felt like my new baby outer corneal layer got peeled off in one piece from my cornea when my eyeball would move for the first time. The most bothersome part is that I couldn't prepare for it; the jolting pain from my involuntary eye movement would wake me up. I would describe it best as waking yourself up from a muscle cramp when you stretch in your sleep. The worse!!!! My tear ducts would immediately react to the pain by watering like crazy, but the tears didn't help with the pain. There was nothing I could do except ride it out or apply my cold compress.

My Vision Today
It has been about 3 weeks since the procedure. I now feel confident walking about and running errands normally. I can see the environment clearly, but I still have trouble reading signs and identifying letters at a distance. I have only driven once, and I don't feel comfortable driving at night when my vision is worse. Now my eyes enjoy lighting indoors but the sun is still too harsh. When it comes to using a computer, I magnify the screen to about 150% to help my eyes read more comfortably. Dryness isn't too much of a problem at this point. I try to use eye drops as soon as a wake up in the morning. I am fortunate that I had a whole month of winter break with no school or work-related commitments because I definitely needed this whole time to heal. I guess if you didn't start off with poor vision in the first place, your recovery time would be shorter. If you are considering PRK, I would highly recommend planning your surgery before winter break or taking your 2 week vacation as healing time.

And that's all! I have an appointment in a few days and I'm curious to find out how my vision has improved. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Holiday 2014

Snippets from Thanksgiving and Christmas 2014
 Since I had made early Thanksgiving plans with Max's family and my dad had work, my family had a Thanksgiving brunch. I had fun foraging in the backyard and into my party supply archive to set the table. Photo credits to my sister.

 Thanksgiving leftovers from Max's family. Max has a hard time gaining weight and sometimes it's fun to think up huge recipes for each meal of his. This consisted of mushrooms, garlic, and green beans sauteed in a load of butter and two English muffin sandwiches consisting of a poached egg, maple bacon, and green onions.

The day after the Fall semester of school ended, I got PRK! Max <3 paid for my surgery since I found a fantastic Groupon deal. It's the other form of laser eye surgery (LASIK). The first 3 days were painful and I spent them glued to the couch with my eyes closed. I finished Serial very quickly and mostly drugged myself to sleep. It's been nearly 3 weeks and my eyesight is still a little fuzzy, but MUCH improved. 

I spent winter break at Max's house. Since Clint was out of town, we got to take Noah with us. Everyone here loves him so much. He has fun exploring all the different nooks of the house. 


For Christmas dinner, Max's dad made his famous Garbage Can Turkey again. It was absolutely delicious. I didn't take a picture of it once it was finished, but imagine the most juicy, wet, succulent turkey. That's what it was. It was phenomenal. 

 I made these place settings for everyone at Christmas dinner. I managed to put 2 tables together in order to squeeze 15 people in the dining room. It was close, but everyone was comfy and the atmosphere was lovely. The place settings are made from branches of rosemary and bakers twine.

No holiday season is complete without a ton of alcohol. This is Terroir Gin from St. George, a few dashes of lavender bitters, lemon juice, simple syrup, topped with club soda, and a garnish of rosemary dipped in sugar. I call it the Christmas Wreath. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Best Drugstore Nail Polish Top Coat!

First of all, I COMPLETELY apologize for the disgusting, clickbait-y title, but I have discovered a drugstore beauty product that I have tested and approved numerous times, and I believe that its greatness needs to be shared with the public.

Finding cheap drugstore products that actually work well is like finding treasure, and there aren't too many products out there that I completely believe in like this one.

My mom purchased this Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Nail Hardener for a bargain price of $7.40 at Target. Previously, I had purchased two separate bottles of OPI Base Coat and OPI Top Coat for $8 each, and neither of them worked well. 

I don't paint my nails often. I do LOVE a fresh, clean manicure, but my hands take a beating on the daily that I can't surrender the time required to paint my nails once a week or doing touch-ups if they inevitably chip and crack. 

The first time I used it, I had freshly painted nails before a weekend of styling for a fashion show. Styling is a hands-on job. 16+ hour days of sewing, taping, zipping, shoving, carrying hangers and racks of clothes to and fro, gluing, lifting, etc. At first, I realized I was dumb to do my nails before a weekend of hands-on work in addition to taking hours to do a customized design; they would just end of wrecked by the end of it. Regardless, I went to work without any consideration of preserving my hands and nails. By the end of the whirlwind weekend, my hands were cracked, dry, and sore, but my nails were PERFECTLY INTACT.

On a more regular basis, I am a full time student, a regular gym-goer, and I work in an office. My job includes a lot of filing and document handling–it doesn't sound rough, but it requires me to constantly shove my hands between packed file cabinets to file or retrieve folders–and my nail polish easily lasts more than a week. I essentially abuse my hands regularly, but my nails prevail.


(I use it as a base coat AND a top coat)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Suit Up

I desperately want a suit. Three-piece if possible. I noticed that if you're not spending an exorbitant amount of money (Hugo Boss, Dior, etc), it's extremely difficult to find a suit that is slim, sleek, and simple. Max found a very affordable Bar III suit at Macy's that is on trend with its more slim cut, but it's impossible to find that for women. 

I've been obsessively looking online for more budget-friendly options, Zara, H&M, Forever 21, The Limited, Express, Macy's....I can't trust anyone. I thought my best bet would be Zara but I was swimming in everything. I understand how tailoring works but you need a decent foundation and it's not worth it to spend money if your foundation isn't high quality. 

(Yes, I love Marion Cotillard)

Once I manage to find time, I think I would like to try on Ted Baker. They do have a 3-piece option and I worked with their clothing for a fashion show modeled by high school kids. One of the girl models wore a vest and trousers and it looked fantastic. The construction was also quite detailed and sturdy.

Ted Baker Jacket $395, Vest $225, Trouser $225

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thankful, 2014

I feel like I grew up so much this year. 

In January, I started school again, and this time around it was a REAL school. Luckily my classes weren't overwhelming and I was quite determined to get good grades. I got my own gym membership and focused on going regularly. Going to school again was a huge deal for me; I had generally hated school all my life and this time I really wanted to be there.

Around spring time, Max and I broke up. It was rough and probably one of the most devastatingly emotional experiences of my life. I won't get into detail, but those couple of months were absolutely terrible, and I have always considered myself very detached about everything in my life and with the usual emotional capacity of a robot. I think I broke out in tears at least every half hour for about a month. Luckily, it didn't affect my grades or my health permanently..I think I got a D on one math quiz (got a high A overall in the class so no problem), and I didn't eat for 3 days, but overall, I came out so much stronger, both physically and mentally.

At the end of the spring semester, my dad took me on a trip to Utah and Alaska. I would definitely put both trips on my "best life experience ever" list. We managed to go to both places at the PERFECT times. We hiked Arches National Park right before the summer heat. Temperatures averaged around mid to high 90s, which meant you could enjoy the glorious sunshine and the natural monuments without wanting to kill yourself. In Alaska, we also arrived right before the heat. It was optimal, toasty spring weather and most places we went were empty; shop owners were only just opening their doors for tourist season, and we were the first tourists to arrive. I can't even describe Alaska. It was just the most stunning, magical place I have ever been...I...I...UGH! You just have to go!

In the summer, I pushed myself a bit harder with concurring classes at my college in addition to an expedited CNA program at a private school. I still kept up at the gym as well. Summer flew by swiftly with very little drunken parties and distractions and I got my CNA! I must say, doing the state practical exam was one of the scariest experiences of my life, but I am so happy to have my CNA. I feel like the education was the right kind of stepping-stone that I needed to do to test the waters of the nursing field. 

This current fall semester was off to a rocky start. One of my professors cancelled his very important/required class and I couldn't add or waitlist to another in time. Of course, this snowballed and affected all my future plans in terms of when I could apply to transfer. It took a while for me to stop freaking out and accept what I couldn't change, and now I am taking my time to work on getting good grades at a slower pace which then enables me to work a job, maintain my physical fitness, and volunteer. It's not just about grades, I need to be a well-rounded and healthy person. I also joined the honor society at my school, and while they are sometimes a little too nerdy and enthusiastic for me (this is meant to be in an endearing fashion) it is infectious being around them. They are the most genuine, caring, hardworking people I know, and I am so grateful to be a part of their group. Through the honor society, my volunteer hours and involvement in the community just skyrocketed. Right now I'm working with first graders in an after-school literacy program and I love it! However, I am really tired and cannot wait for the end of this semester after a hellish two weeks!

I am so thrilled with my life. I can't wait to see what next year brings. 

I went to the ball in November with Max and I made this dress. We're back together, btw. I worked on it on weekends when I had time, but of course I didn't finish until 2am the night before my flight to LA. For the last couple balls I had been reusing the same corset and hand-sewing tulle (my favorite fabric, so cheap and easy to manipulate) into different designs. This year I ran out of time so I went for a simple top and poufy bottom. I got lots of compliments on my dress and none on my belt!!!! The belt is a 1930's heirloom that belonged to my 101-yr-old great grandma. It is silver, heavy, and in excellent condition. They're extremely hard to locate and my mom has had to turn down many offers from the Thai ladies at the temple :P

Saturday, October 4, 2014

All About That Normcore

Finally, lazy people like myself have a trend that is accessible! I know that as a fashion design graduate and freelance stylist, it's expected of me to dress smart and on trend. However, working 12+ hours in expensive, elaborate pieces is not ideal. I also go to community college, and I am literally there to just get my good grades, leave for the gym, and go home to do homework.  Schools are germy and I'm not about to wear my nice things and have to wash them all the time and risk ruining the integrity of my fabrics.

Normcore is for me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mango Want List

I was never really sure of the quality of Mango's clothing. 

Then one day, I hopped on a plane from LA to SF to meet with my parents in the airport, and flew with them to New Orleans. It was December. I totally forgot that meant winter. Luckily, the United terminal in SFO had a Mango clothing store, so I purchased a heavy, black wool coat for $180. It was my savior, protecting me from the icy NOLA wind chill. It's been over 4 years and it hasn't pilled, faded, snagged, attracted lint, or lost any buttons! I have been 100% satisfied with my airport coat purchase and a firm believer in Mango!

Leather Biker Jacket [$175]

Crepe Check Trousers [$80]

Wool-Blend Cape [$130]

Hat with Plume [$60]

Mickey Mouse Sweater [$45]

Faux Shearling-Lined Jacket [$120]

V-Neckline Dress [$60]