joyeux anniversaire

This past Sunday, it was my birthday (!). In between suffering from the blistering cold here in the city, there are occasionally (okay, quite often) moments of serene happiness. Keith came to visit the city, which is always a perk of any month, and many pieces of birthday cake/dessert were consumed in a very short period of time. My friend Julia baked the most beautiful, and potentially heaviest, carrot cake I have ever had the pleasure of eating. And Pisticci, a small local restaurant, was pleasant enough to draw out a leisurely late lunch into practically a midnight snack. Or, at least in my mind, attempting to eat at 3pm should not mean the bill is paid around 7pm — or something like that, but the mishap did end with a free dessert that was basically just a mountain of whipped cream topped with berries aka the best dessert ever.

It was a beautiful weekend, and it’s always nice to take a few days to step back to appreciate those around you/to remember that you are appreciated, too. Cheers!

Kiwi gave me a mystery plant, which I of course proceeded to ruin. I didn't ruin the plant, but I certainly did ruin the mystery. More to come on this developing story later.

::Kiwi gave me a mystery plant, which I of course proceeded to ruin. I didn’t ruin the plant, but I certainly did ruin the mystery. More to come on this developing story later::

Pisticci midnight snack

::Here it is, the mountainous pile of whipped cream and berries. Eat your eyes out, people. Keith’s hands were shaking out of pure joy, and thus, the picture is blurry with a instagram-tastic filter to mask the photography::

little nugget::Here’s Julia, decked out in a true party-dress, which is probably why she was the hit of the party. Baking cakes and donning birthday attire. Her spirited adherence to the mystical birthday code is noteworthy::

Birthday Bao::In addition to my Birthday Plant (sounds infinitely better if I were to ruin the surprise…okay, Birthday Beans) I got a Birthday Bao from Julia! It was probably the largest bao of my life, which is significant for many reasons, most astonishingly because I just got back from China and have never seen a bao this huge before. Alas, it was stuffed with all things good, and the steamed bun (rather than baked) reminded me of home/China/Chinatown. Birthday Beans & Birthday Baos … probably some of the best gifts I’ve ever received, if you’re ever looking for a gift idea::




Shanghai ::: part two, Moganshan Lu & Funny Doll Café

If you are ever in Shanghai, and you find yourself in need of a quieter day, away from the crowds and the honking (trust me – millions of car horns going off at all times), away from the stores and street vendors, I highly recommend visiting Moganshan Lu. Although, I honestly can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to be away from the street vendors… they are such an accessible & affordable source of sustenance, which shouldn’t be taken for granted if you are a student who can’t speak Chinese and is in China.

[A small ode to street vendors: you may have to choke back tears from the amount of smoke surrounding you, and you may have to close your eyes in order to forget that there’s oil dripping from all of the fried things, and you may have to get used to the idea of someone preparing your food while coating it with cigarette ash … but I promise that your eyes will water with delight at the salty, doughy, chewy goodness that is most certainly all around you. Not to mention, it is infinitely easier to feed yourself on the street when you can point. In other words, there is no menu to dauntingly stare back at you.]

We ended up on Moganshan Lu by mistake, as most things tended to happen in Shanghai. It is a very serendipitous city. We initially had tried to find the ShanghART museum (which we ended up calling ShART for most of the visit, but you can do what you want with the name) on a street off of Huahai Lu, which is exactly where one tourist-y site said that it would be. Yet, come to find out, it wasn’t there. This wasn’t exactly shocking news since everything around Shanghai was somewhat akin to the staircases from Harry Potter. It’s all there, and it’s all familiar, but somehow it’s perpetually shape-shifting and switching. By the end of the trip, it was neither shocking nor upsetting that galleries/restaurants/stores/museums would all disregard their hours of operation, and therefore would open or closed as they pleased. Take for example, the Shanghai Art Museum, which people lovingly gave us opposite directions to, pointed at random buildings, told us to turn random corners, and all the while failed to mention that the museum had in fact, shut down. Go figure.

After a few confused minutes of spinning around and around in a courtyard wondering which building ShART could be in, the guard told us that the museum had in fact moved to Moganshan Lu. Fearing that the ShART didn’t actually exist, it took us a few days to work up the courage to go.

We finally decided on one of our last days that we absolutely had to go, if only for the satisfaction of tracking something down & getting lucky enough to be there when it was open. We hopped in a cab, we arrived, and ShanghART was no where to be found. There were signs that once again pointed in opposite directions, a map that was very obviously misdrawn, and no famous museum to be found. But then we stumbled upon dozens upon dozens of other galleries all in a small cluster (the exact address is 50 Moganshan Lu). Think Chelsea Galleries except colder, smokier, and arguably better. We only encountered a few other people, and most of the exhibits were quite thought-provoking. No pictures were allowed, but I hardly wanted to take photos. I wanted to peruse.

Then inside of one of the galleries tucked away on top of a building, there was a tiny café run by a woman. It was quite cozy, and the latté was over priced, for China at least, but nothing to complain about. There was free wifi, and she let us sit for a solid three hours.

On our drive to the galleries, the streets were lined with graffiti – a rarity in the parts of Shanghai we saw. I wish that we had gone out to leisurely walk before the sun had set because by the time we had left the café, it was almost dark outside & we were left with only the smallest glimmers of smog-filtered light.








And so the ShART museum was never found.


Shanghai ::: part one, the loose ends

One of the things that I teeter between loving & hating is surprises. I love them if I don’t know they are waiting for me. I hate them if I realize they are impending, and I hate/love them when I know what they are. So, while I like to figure out (and therefore) ruin surprises for myself, I refuse to subject you to such torture. However, it’s a dilemma…because I’ve just told you that there is now a surprise, and so you may begin to hate this post without knowing what the surprise is.

To begin on a sour note, and to take you out of your misery (I am going to tell you the surprise) I can’t post many photos from the trip since I will be using them in a different project, which will also be online.  To begin on an even sourer note, that surprise wasn’t a good one. Yet, such is life.

However, I’ve shared some of the small found things that were scattered about here & there, and I hope that suffices for now. There will be a few other posts with pictures that won’t be included in the project.

Shanghai was a magical city, wrapped in a cozy gray blanket of smoke, smog, ashes, and spit. The sidewalks were lined with achingly beautiful trees, the people were incredibly welcoming, the architecture and landscaping were amazing (the buildings make NYC’s look like babies, and the fact that they plant and replant blooming flowers throughout the middle of winter is so impractical, and yet so lovely), the streets were impeccably clean (not a single piece of bubble gum to be found! in a city of 20 million!), the subway was extremely well-organized and traveler-friendly, and the food tasted of home (well, sort of. It was mostly Mandarin cooking, and my family is Cantonese… so I wasn’t accustomed to the abundance of noodles/fried goods/noodles/seafood/noodles. Cantonese cuisine typically has more vegetables and meat).

Here are some loose-end photos, none of which are exactly related to one another. Most of them were taken in Tianzifang, a charming maze of alleyways that snake about this-way and that, and which I swear is the Twilight Zone and/or a black hole and/or Bermuda’s Triangle. Others were taken in the hotel room and random locations throughout the French Concession, which is on the Puxi side of the river. I would recommend staying near the Dapuqiao subway stop if you ever visit since there is quite a bit around that area.










(new) new year’s resolutions

I hate New Year’s Eve. It’s a really terrible, anxiety-inducing holiday. I am always inclined to come up with nebulous goals about how I want to be healthier, productive, less procrastinating, blah blah blah, less this more that, less that more this version of myself.

So this year, I literally time traveled straight through the new year. I didn’t do it because I hate NYE, but it was a nice perk. The pilot didn’t alert the sleeping passengers when the clock struck midnight; the plane was somewhere over a frozen abyss, and I was the happiest clam of all clams sitting on a flight to Shanghai (more on this later). So the whole catastrophic list of uninspiring resolutions was avoided entirely. Although technically, my new year hasn’t even begun yet, since everyone’s birthday is their actual new year… and this time around, I’ll be 21.

This year is a full one. Just picture: graduation, papers on papers, moving out of college housing, last semester jitters… Then, I stumbled upon a list, found here, and I decided it would be a perfect way to keep myself afloat amidst the thesis deadlines, the job applications, the lectures, the five-hour bus rides, and the “everything else” that seems to take over the days. So, here it is. An abridged list of things I want to do before my next birthday. Also known as: “how I didn’t actually skip the new year’s resolutions after all.” What’s on your list?


  1. get a slice of Grimaldi’s pizza
  2. go to the Brooklyn flea
  3. see a Broadway show
  4. ride the row boats in Central Park
  5. go on top of a roof
  6. visit Coney Island
  7. visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
  8. go ice-skating at the Rockefeller Center
  9. join the much-dreaded NYC Brunch Corps (read: go to brunch and drink unlimited mimosas)
  10. go to a concert
  11. eat xiaolongbaos in Flushing until I pop
  12. pull an all-nighter… but not for a paper/school related thing
  13. visit at least one other place in NYC with an old black & white film photo booth
  14. eat something from momofoku milk bar
  15. go to a karaoke bar and sing a song
  16. visit the Etsy HQ
  17. bake a soufflé that doesn’t deflate
  18. see something at Madison Square Garden
  19. go to a Columbia University basketball game
  20. eat a picnic in Central Park/Battery Park/Gramercy Park
  21. plan a party, tangible invitations and all
  22. eat a cupcake at “Eat Your Cake” in Harlem *BONUS ROUND* See Tina Fey there
  23. start a paper the exact same day it is assigned; then bask in my non-procrastination
  24. send a handmade birthday card
  25. cook at least five new dishes (things I have never cooked) before Spring Break
  26. go hiking
  27. change my bike tires
  28. go on a long bike-ride (on my newly fixed up bicycle!)
  29. learn how to drive a manual car
  30. go fishing
  31. make macarons
  32. learn to snowboard
  33. take swim lessons
  34. take a pottery class
  35. get a puppy post-graduation
  36. learn Spanish
  37. make rock candy
  38. learn to play volleyball
  39. study somewhere-other-than a Columbia/Barnard library
  40. go to a speakeasy
  41. make a new friend
  42. go apple picking
  43. start an urban garden
apple picking last year

apple picking last year