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It's hard to dance with a devil on your back
09 April 2014 @ 03:31 pm
After a looooooong year of my initial concentration year internship not working out, trying to find a replacement, having the ideal placement fall through on me, and continued searching, I finally have a placement at one of my volunteer gigs for next year!

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And I'm thismuchcloser to getting done!
It's hard to dance with a devil on your back
23 February 2014 @ 07:53 pm
If anyone's been following me on Facebook or Twitter, this story isn't that new but I still feel the need to share it anyway.

At the beginning of the month, I got into a car accident. I was on my way from school to my sister's place to make dinner with her (she has a membership to a thing where the company sends you ingredients to recipes for about three healthy dinners a week) and traffic was really bad. I don't know exactly how it happened, but basically I couldn't stop in time from crashing into the car in front of me, which in turn hit the car in front of it. The other two cars were minimally scratched but because Priuses are apparently made out of tinfoil the front of my car was completely crunched. In fact, the radiator got smushed into the engine and the car had to be towed. To add insult to injury, my insurance is not great (i.e. fucking expensive) so it means I have to go car-less for the foreseeable future until some of the points from my first accidents four years ago start dropping off. And here I was, getting my license to avoid having to deal with LA's shitty public transportation.

Then almost a week later, I was trying to bike to and from one of my volunteer places when I crashed into a pole after a tricky turn on the sidewalk and hit my pelvic bone and got a nasty raised bruise on my elbow. It was painful and humiliating enough to get me a trip to the hospital (but not for a long stay), and since my bike's gears seem wonky I have to get it checked out.

I should see this as an opportunity to get around cheaper in LA. Bus fares added up over months are indeed cheaper than paying for gas and insurance and the Metro Rail up the street does offer a quick way to get to school (and no parking fee). There is also a boom in cheap cab services like Uber that are also available if I don't feel public transit is good enough. Not to mention it means I'll be forced to walk more, getting exercise I could actually use. And my family and friends so far have been supportive in offering to drive me on various occasions, my brother especially since it allows us to talk more and get closer.

And yet, I can't help but feel like this is some grand punishment from the universe to limit me. I've tried to adjust and be independent in basic manners so I don't have to rely on family/friends/whoever so I can take care of myself. But losing my car and not having a legitimate option to replace it is really shaking my faith that I can ever escape dependence. I'm 26 years old and shouldn't have to need others in a basic, day-to-day living capacity. And Los Angeles isn't New York or other places where public transit is the best option of getting around. I've been really emotionally fragile because of it and I'm not sure how to get over it.

So February 2014? Kiss my ass.
It's hard to dance with a devil on your back
It's funny how a year can surprise you. There's often no such thing as a straight narrative - there are so many ups and downs that make it hard to tell where it's all leading to. But maybe, just maybe 2013 has proved to me that life can get a little better but I have to take more action to get it to where I want it to be.

My 2013 retrospectiveCollapse )

But if there's anything I've gotten out of 2013, it's the realization that I do have the power to make my life good and what I want it to be. I know I can be incredibly down on myself because I'm not where I want to be, but that's because I have ridiculously high standards for myself. I have figured out that all things considered I'm doing pretty well, and my last and perhaps greatest challenge is to break from a lifelong cycle of beating myself up for what I'm not and don't have and recognize and appreciate who I am and what I do have so I can become a happier person.

Let's hope that 2014 brings good things for us all.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
It's hard to dance with a devil on your back
09 August 2013 @ 09:11 pm
I've been kinda feeling up and down in the last few weeks where they've sometimes fed into each other, but I'm glad to say that overall things are better for the most part.
Personal stuff not quite for the light of heartCollapse )But the good has been really good. darlingdivine came down to LA for a week and we went to Disneyland (pro tip: get there at 8:30 am and you can get on almost all the major rides under ten minutes and don't park in Downtown Disney unless you want to pay an astounding $30 for day parking) and later saw "The Bling Ring" together (in which despite my relative indifference to Emma Watson outside the Harry Potter series, I was seriously impressed with her Alexis Neiers impersonation). Spending time with one of my oldest LJ friends really emphasized how I'm incredibly lucky to have such great friends and how they all need to be in LA with me way more often. Fingers crossed that she can come back to LA soon.

My volunteer gigs are also going incredibly well. I'm almost kinda an unprofessional counselor of sorts at one and office maven at the other and it's kinda bizarre how well I'm being received. In fact, the supervisors constantly telling me how great I am as a help is kinda bizarre. I'm not used to overt praise and I'm scared that it'll go to my head, hence I underplay everything I do. Although the most encouraging thing has actually come from a kid at the counseling gig: after talking to the young adults-on-the-autistic-spectrum group I work with about disclosing diagnosis with employers, one of the kids said that they wished I worked with them full time because I'm (apparently) cool and "tell it how it is". Maybe I am doing something right after all.

I'm also feeling better about myself overall as a person. After years of depression over my body, I started to make a conscious effort about what I eat in a healthy manner last month. (As I already exercise regularly, the food stuffs have always been my biggest hurdle.) This time I'm determined to keep myself from falling into lazy poor meals and it's actually become easier to deal with. I've begun noticing that I've shrunk a bit from this (although realistically it'll take maybe six months to get to where I want to be) and I feel better. It's even begun to restore some confidence in trying to date and I even managed to get some offers out of it. I think things are gonna get much better.

Oh and as far as entertainment stuffs: "Pacific Rim" is fucking amazeballs and everything "Independence Day" wishes it was, "The Bling Ring" was good and a shockingly accurate portrait of entitled Angeleno teens, go see "Blue Jasmine" when it's released wide August 23 and marvel at Cate Blanchett's perfection, and "Thor: The Dark World" is gonna kick so much ass.
It's hard to dance with a devil on your back
02 June 2013 @ 11:25 pm
So I've been out of school for a month and I kinda feel directionless. It's nice to get a break from having to read and think and breathe therapy concepts and complex social issues that make me want to break things, but now I'm left with nothing to do as time marches on for the next couple of months. I'm looking into possible internships or volunteer opportunities but I kinda feel a little helpless and bored and that's not a good combination.

At the very least I'm actually doing fairly well at school thus far. I'm not entirely sure why I'm shocked at my A in my Domestic Violence class and B+ in my Practice with Families, Groups, and Task Groups. Realistically, I've gotten all As in every DV paper I wrote prior to my final and one B+ and two As in the other class so I should have seen it coming. I guess I need to reevaluate how I think I do in writing and research to my actual output. I am relieved that it seems that my DV final in examining how Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey portrays domestic abuse and its subsequent romanticization was well received (oh, the masochism I apparently have concerning these two properties) was indeed well received and the other final didn't seem to hurt my grade too much.

So far the highlight of the past month or so has been an act of kindness from my mom that I'm not sure I'll ever repay her for - going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando. I'm not entirely sure what possessed her to do this for me but it is incredible that I have a mom who actually had interest in seeing the park (despite her and pretty much everyone else in my family not quite sharing my nerdy obsessions) and wanting to make me happy. The actual park itself was really well done and it was quite amusing to see the stores selling all the tchotchkes that make up the Harry Potter world. And I even got my mother to go on a rollercoaster that went upside down (which is what the Dragon Races coaster does), so that was immensely amusing.

Souvenirs be under the cut!Collapse )

Needless to say, when they complete construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at LA's Universal Studios, I'll be so there.

The other thing that's been staving off the monotony so far has been movies. I've managed to see "Iron Man 3", "Star Trek Into WhiteDarkness", and "The Kings of Summer" and have enjoyed them all in varying degrees. "Iron Man 3" is a pretty good start to Marvel's Phase Two (especially considering that I'm waaaaay more pumped for "Thor: The Dark World" than anything else in Phase Two because, come on, Thor and Loki y'all) and I appreciate that they allowed Tony Stark to really grow and mature post-Avengers. I also like what they did with the Mandarian (yes, I know it deviated a lot from the comics but the Mandarian as a comic book villain was also really racist so I consider the twist they did progress of sorts) and the best scene was clearly
either the ending with the Science Bros impromptu therapy session or
Adam Pally's cameo as Gary the Cable Guy.

It's such a shame "Happy Endings" was cancelled, because Adam Pally needs to be in all the comedies. And if you haven't seen "Happy Endings", watch it. You won't regret it.

As for "Star Trek Into Darkness"...*sigh* It was enjoyable enough but it kinda lacked the magic that the 2009 film had for me. Namely, I exited the 2009 movie pumped to see more and with this it is was all..."eh, perhaps I see more of alternate universe Trek or maybe not." And to be honest, I think a lot of it had to do with
Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan. I'm not a Trekkie by any stretch of the word, but I know enough to know that Khan was a character of color and while the whole casting-any-brown-person-as-a-brown-character is incredibly iffy it was still a big deal to have the Latino Ricardo Montalbán as an esteemed adversary to Kirk and crew. Throwing in Khan into this new movieverse with a clearly distinct "alternate timeline" personally feels like a cheap nod to the original show. (Although yes, promoting the adversary of STID as a "terrorist" would've not been good if JJ Abrams had cast a brown guy in that role. Baaaaah this is why I tend to stay out of race conversations on the internet.) Plus, given that Khan was cryogenically frozen with 72 other people, why couldn't "John Harrison" have the same exact backgroud as Khan and co.? Still would've worked even if the apparent Eugenics Wars were hundreds of years before the alternate timeline became a thing, and let's all face it, the 1990s did not actually produce that.
I can't criticize Benedict Cumberbatch for his performance though - he was most definitely an effective villain with his imposing voice and total commitment (even if I had to suffer his face in IMAX 3D, god help me). And I love everyone else on the Enterprise

even though Zachary Quinto's "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!!1!1" scream was hilariously pathetic
. It was a fun summer movie but I can't say I'm looking forward to more alternate timeline!Star Trek.

I can recommend "The Kings of Summer" much more highly. This I kinda saw by accident because I went with a friend to a $8 double feature at a tiny theater in West Hollywood that was screening this after a showing of "Stand by Me". I really enjoyed both coming of age stories much more than I anticipated, and "The Kings of Summer" has the additional benefits of possessing utter charm to the t and having Ron and Tammy Swanson, Annie from "Community" and Rico from "Hannah Montana" (who turns out is a very capable comedian as an adult outside of Disney's clutches). "The Kings of Summer" is in limited release right now but do go see it if you can. It's seriously one of the best movies I have seen in years.
Current Music: Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man
It's hard to dance with a devil on your back
19 April 2013 @ 03:35 pm
Between the bombings and shootouts in Boston, resin-laced letters to President Obama, Congress refusing to pass gun registration checks, and the plant explosion in Texas, this has been an incredibly sucky week. Hopefully we'll find the people who did these horrible things and bring them to justice and thank God that for every negative thing people do, there are much more people who will offer support. As Patton Oswald put it, "So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, 'The good outnumber you, and we always will.'"
It's hard to dance with a devil on your back
24 February 2013 @ 02:34 pm
After what feels like fucking forever, I have finally found a new place for me to live! With open living rooms and lots of closets and things! I no longer have to freak out about being possibly homeless on March 1!

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And now back to your feed.
Current Mood: excitedexcited
It's hard to dance with a devil on your back
26 January 2013 @ 09:43 pm
And to apologize for my absence, I present me with a comically oversized lemon-esque fruit called an etrog in Jerusalem's open-air market:

There's more pictures of me on Facebook in a lot less flattering angles, so this is obviously my new default.

So what did I think about Birthright?Collapse )

I came back from Israel with a bitch of a cold/flu bug that I just got over a few days ago, so it's been some work trying to readjust to California time and my school schedule. But I think I'm kinda with it now and I got a fair bit to process:
  • I'm retaking Practice with Families/Groups/Complex Cases and taking a course on Domestic Violence (which will promises to get more depressing with every week) and am looking for internship opportunities. I may have struck a goldmine with the latter because the president of LA's major school board is running for reelection and needs volunteers. Hello possible future career path!
  • I need to start looking for a new apartment to move into, as my roomie will be moving out at the end of the lease due to financial difficulties. I think I'm ready to live completely on my own, but trying to find a place in west LA under a thousand dollars a month is akin to finding a needle in a haystack (aka pretty damn near impossible).
  • I saw Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained and the Hobbit (for a third time) in the course of one weekend and highly recommend seeing all three. I saw the first with my grandfather (who agreed with me it was compelling and the depiction of torture was appropriate given the film's framing and that the "controversy" over it is dumb), and any time I spend with him is a time I greatly enjoy. (Yup, I do see fun films with my family, such as "Perfume: Story of a Murderer" and "The Last King of Scotland".)
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Riceboy Sleeps - Happiness
It's hard to dance with a devil on your back
29 December 2012 @ 02:41 pm

It is the night before I leave for Israel. I'm currently at my grandmother's apartment in her retirement community just outside Princeton, NJ, and we got a bit of snow today. It shouldn't be enough to cause huge problems getting me to the airport but the temperature's supposed to drop to the tens tonight, so we'll see.

The last two days have been relatively peaceful and quiet. I'm getting to know my grandmother a bit and it's a good thing we enjoy each other's company. She's shown me a couple of books where my mom's family history have been complied, and I've been reading some of the stories and letters my ancestors wrote. My mom's side is traced back to around the 1600s (and long-time American colonists) so it's been fascinating to read about these particularly colorful characters. My great grandfather's letters from his student days traveling Asia in the 1920s are particularly cool.

The more I think about the excursion I'm taking, the more excited I am about it. Yes, there are some little things that keep bugging me (I may not have actually brought the right converter plugs, why do I need 4+ hours prior to flying internationally, how am I gonna stop to change my cash, etc.) but considering this is the first time I've done a big international trip by myself since my senior semester abroad four years ago, I'm proud of myself for taking this on. International traveling is no easy task and I'm happy to challenge myself to master it.

So I shall not be on LJ (or for the most part on the internets) for the next twelve or so days. I will post my overall experiences when I return, and I shall see you all in the new year.
It's hard to dance with a devil on your back
If my celebratory post of completing my research final indicates anything, this past semester was ridiculously difficult. Yes, I only took two classes - Research Methods and Leadership - but the levels of how simultaneously boring and difficult they were took a toll on my psyche. The last month of school was spent becoming a hermit, completing assignment after assignment (particularly for Research, which were all hard and had assignments every week), and slowly driving myself insane with worry over its complexity. The Leadership final was particularly difficult because I had to write a 12 to 20 page analysis of my leadership skills and come up with a comprehensive plan for how to become a better "leader". (No I do not have to do a huge thesis, so USC has us students write this ridiculous final in place of one.) How I managed to get everything all done is beyond me, and hopefully the spring semester won't be as trying.

Yes, I went to see "The Hobbit" and "Les Miserables" like everyone else in the world and my feelings on them are respectively fun and conflicted. Lemme explain:

Long-winded reviews be here under the cut.Collapse )

My holidays were pretty good. I spent a lot of time with my family - cooking, cleaning, visiting, hosting Christmas lunch, etc. And I did get a remarkably good haul - some clothes, some books, a good knife set (as someone who's spent the last two years cooking with the shitty knives available to her by proxy of roommates, this gift was most welcome) and an electric kettle (yay instant tea-making!).

But as soon as the holidays come to a close, I'm off again. From December 30 to January 10, I'll be in Israel enjoying one of the best things about being a young Jew - a free trip to the Holy Land known as Birthright. I haven't traveled on my own for a while - it's been four years since my semester abroad in the UK and two weeks in Spain - so I'm eager to be seeing a bit more of the world without the filter of familial problems that seem to characterize every other major traveling experience of my life. And I'll be visiting my grandmother in NJ for a few days before and after my time abroad, which should be a nice, grounding experience.

And so, I end 2012 on a pretty high note - I have a year and a half of grad school behind me and some great things on the horizon. Let's hope the life-getting-better continues to trend for me in 2013.
Current Music: Ho Hey - The Lumineers