Category Archives: Travel

Andddd we’re back

Hello New York, Mag is back!

After taking a 3 month hiatus from writing, we are back in business. The past few months have brought quite a good amount of changes. While Holly moved out of our lovely apartment in the city, I have moved back into the city after my travels abroad. And although I will miss the smell of freshly made baguettes in France and the sound of the ever-constant construction in Beijing, it is good to be in the city again.

They say that all good things must come to an end but (from a legal standpoint), that doesn’t necessarily imply that the next thing coming has to be bad. It’s just going to be different. Do I wish I were still traveling abroad instead of briefing cases on negligence at midnight? Yes. Do I feel a little sad when I’m walking home from the law library, carrying 3 casebooks under my arm while enviously observing slightly overage women and random hipster or banker boys frolicking in front of my apartment? Yes. But do I regret moving on to this new chapter in my life? Absolutely not.

Your journey in life is almost like exploring a gigantic mansion. There’s this great scene in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, where the 4 sisters are reminded by their mother of Pilgrim’s passage, a game they would play when they were little. They would explore throughout the house, encountering all kinds of dilemmas but when they finally reached the roof, they would shed their burdens. We go into every room in this big house of life to explore, to learn, to experience new things and then we leave the room because there are so many other rooms to explore, so many new things to discover and most of all, we need to keep on moving up, up, and up until we reach the tip top of the house.

xo from NYC,

Mag

Nothing prettier than this.

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Happy June!

So I may be a few days late in wishing y’all a happy June but I truly believe that it’s better late than never. Happy June! I’m not sure what the weather is like in dear ol’ New York (which I miss TERRIBLY) but it is hot hot HOT in Beijing. And dry. Uncomfortably so. And when it’s not dry, it’s as muggy as the swamps of Houston. All in all, the weather in the Middle Kingdom at the beginning of summer is no reason for celebration. However, what a new season does bring is, new food!

The average American tends to forget that produce has seasons. We can find fruits and vegetables no matter what time of year because we import so much of it. However, the rest of the world is not like us. Take Germany for example. I happened to arrive in Munich just in time for asparagus season. White asparagus, to be correct. That stuff was everywhere! It seemed to be the only thing they were selling – spargel, spargel, spargel. In China, it seems to be the same way. Even when we eat out, my relatives will say, oh we’ll order this dish because leeks are in season but not this one because spinach is not in season. All of sudden, fruit stands are overflowing with sweet, tangy cherries and vendors on every corner are selling corn-on-the-cob. My friends, it is officially summer.

Of course thinking of fresh produce can only make a person do one thing – look at recipes. I mean, that’s normal right? So I spent this entire morning, going on afternoon, pouring over various food blogs I haven’t visited in quite some time and then I decided that I needed a cake stand. So now I’m all over the internet searching (yet again) for the perfect cake stand. Which also makes me want to buy the yogurt machine I’ve been dying to get. And some mason jars to use for homemade jam. Oh online shopping and my obsession with cookware, how you seduce so. But considering the many weddings I shall attend this summer, maybe I will be strong and save my  money to buy my lovely friends (and their soon-to-be husbands) more awesome wedding gifts rather than buying more cookware than my NYC dorm apartment can hold.

Another thing about summer is that it makes me sleepy. All I want to do is sleep because it is so unbearably hot. Of course, I think I say the same thing about winter except that it’s so unbearably cold – all I want to do is snuggle back in my bed and sleep. But lucky me, I work at a public corporation in China where napping after lunch is not only accepted, but actually encouraged. Ah how refreshing it is to wake up after a 15 or 20 minute nap, ready to blog work! It’s really quite adorable, walking around at 1 PM and seeing all the middle aged men and women napping in their cubicles. Some have pillows that they put on their desks, others scooch down on their chairs and rest their heads back. Some people even snore. No matter how you do it, it’s great. Napping = 100% satisfaction. I may not have facebook in China but I’ll trade it for napping.

One of the drawbacks of summer: I feel terrible turning on my oven to bake. Here I am, running my air conditioning, adding to the already growing carbon emission, and then I turn on a HOT oven in my COOL house? It just sounds ever so wasteful. I would like to draw your attention to this article. I found it to be quite scary not only because of its implications but mostly because its so true. Did you know that we are one of the only countries that uses a dryer? Yes, it’s convenient and I agree nothing feels as good as pulling out a fluffy warm towel fresh from the dryer but is it really necessary? I’ve visited many countries now and no one but us uses a dryer. They get by. Now, I’m not going to spend this post ranting on about global warming but I do think that it’s a good idea to think about our actions. We often think that we are just one person, it’s just one can we’re not recycling, one additional car on the road but it really DOES matter. I could do a bunch of research and list some numbers but I don’t feel like it. I think that all you need to do is think logically. Of course what we do matters. You think that can just magically disappears? (The answer’s no)

So I am going to do two things this summer. Well, I’m going to do many things but I will work on two projects when I get home. I am going to buy some clothes pins and set up a neat little system to dry my clothes outside (at my parents’ house, where I’ll be staying this summer). In addition, I am going to build a compost bin. Yes, I am going to use a hammer and build something using wood! Or maybe I’ll just go to Home Depot and buy one. But either way, by the end of the summer, I will have these two projects complete.  And I hope that through my actions, I will make the world a better place. Even if it’s just a little bit because we all know, a little bit does count. After all, isn’t it a straw that breaks the camel’s back? No one ever says, it was the 20 pound dumbbell that broke the camel’s back. Right?

– Mag

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Wake up call

Every once in a while, something happens that just makes you snap the hell out of it. Sometimes, it’s some kind of life-changing event. Or other times, it’s your friend who very bluntly tells you to wake up and move on. Or, it’s realizing that it’s 3 AM and you’re crying on the bathroom floor (again) and drunk dialing your best friend (again), except this time, there’s a 12 hr time difference because you’re in China and she’s in NY…

Gosh darn it.

It seems as if after all my soul-searching in Europe, all it really took to send me over the edge, into I-want-a-boyfriend-Land, was some nagging on the part of my family. I could put up with it back in NY. With my mom going on and on about how I wasn’t getting any younger and my dad rolling his eyes next her, the you-need-a-boyfriend converstaion in my parents’ dining room was actually pretty comical. But not anymore.

Here’s the lowdown: My buddy from high school, let’s just call him Eligible  and Compatible Bachelor (“ECB”), decided to visit me in China. We’ve been really close friends since high school, with the exception of senior year when we got into a huge fight over prom, but whatever, water under the bridge now. So of course, I was excited when ECB told me that yes, he will actually visit me in China – 10 days, it’ll be great. Did I think that it would be more than a platonic visit? Eh, a naggy little voice (which sounds very much like my aunt’s) said that it was a possibility. After all, we often joke about how we’re gonna get married etc etc.

ECB knows me pretty well but the poor thing had yet to see me in a bad mood. And boy was I in a bad mood the 3rd day he was here. My parents were calling me from the States, asking about him, whether or not he would make a good husband. HELLO? EXCUSE ME? We’re not even dating. Then the nagging became so overwhelming that I finally snapped. I began thinking, well what if they’re right. What if this is it? I’m not getting any younger, you’re right Mother. He’s eligible and compatible, I should probably lock it down now. So began the start of a 3 day funk, when I started lamenting the loss of Ex-Boyfriend and my loneliness blah blah blah cry me a river and hand me a razor. EMO.

Thank goodness for ECB because that boy did not spare me. ECB called me out on my depressing behavior and just let me have it and you know what, he was so right. 2 years ago, he was just like me, so sad and depressed over his last girlfriend. All he wanted to do was get over it, move on but he couldn’t because he kept on talking about it. And so he told me, you just gotta shut up and do it. Don’t talk about where you’ll be working in 5 years or when you’ll meet Mr. Right. Stop making all these plans. Planning doesn’t get you nearly as far as doing.

ECB had a great point. So apparently, does Nike. Just do it.

But honestly, it’s more easily said than done. Case in point, our trip to Shanghai last weekend. It’s a great city really – a combination of New York, Beijing, and Europe. Truly something special (pictures to come later). The nightlife is great too, lots of bars, clubs and oh blubs (bar clubs). Things were going quite well until yours truly had one too many drinks and the next thing you know, I’m sobbing and asking to talk to my best friend, L. ECB, being the great friend he is, calls up L, long-distance, on his iphone. I proceed to lock myself in the bathroom and cry to L about how I can’t believe I’m still crying over Ex-Boyfriend after ALL. THESE. MONTHS. UGH! I’m actually just sick of it.

So, the wake up call was more a drunk dial. It’s been almost a year since Ex-Boyfriend and I broke up and I’m still crying about it? ECB said, the only way to get over it is to get over it. Let go 100%. And I guess I’ve still been holding on just a tiny bit so it’s time to make the final move and just freakin’ do it.

I wanted to share this with you because these past 10 days with ECB made me realize how often we talk about doing something and how little time we spend actually doing it. Instead of telling everyone about your new healthy diet, just do it. Stop whining about needing a vacation. Just book that flight to Hawaii. Actions speak louder than words and results are even louder. We can’t spend our lives looking nostalgically at the past nor can we spend all day looking forward to the future.

So heed the call, live in the now and most of all,  just freaking do it.

– Mag

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Can you have it all?

These past few days, I’ve been sitting here at my first cubicle job (a short stint of Chinese corporate life), alternating between revising agreements, checking out the corporate culture in China (post to follow) and skimming whatever websites the Chinese firewall has not blocked. My online wandering has led me to this website. This kind of blog dedicated to the modern professional woman has been a growing phenomenon recently. While these women are younger than my mother’s generation, they are just a few years older than me – I’d say 5 to 10 years older so while I’m not quite their age or status, I can relate 100% to what they’re saying because I know that I’m going to be there in the near future. And it scares me.

For a short while, before my last job really started to pick up, I would get weekly dinners with two of my girlfriends from high school – one working at a big publishing company and another at E&Y. Topics would range from the latest gossip to our latest dating distaster. Soon, our work schedules got so hectic, we could only manage dinner every few months or maybe drinks for a special occasion and the topics also began to change. They became more, well, we could say “adult”. One of us will be thinking of going back to school, another about switching jobs, one will lament the recent wave of layoffs or the measly bonus. Boys? Who has time to date right now? Not us. 3 margaritas later (Mexican food is our standard rendez-vous dinner), we always find ourselves pondering the same question: Can you have it all?

Between clawing climbing our way up the corporate ladder, attending all of our non-corporate friend’s weddings and get-togethers, and attempting to prevent becoming victim to the corporate 20 (that’s the 20 lbs you gain post-school sitting at your desk drinking red bull and coffee), how do we  entry-level, SFS wannabe’s view our idols – the women who are top dogs at their firm, glam, successful but most often than not single? Is there anyway we can get there without sacrificing well, our personal lives? We’re not even making six figures yet but we already don’t have time to date. Can someone please tell me why some of my 20-something friends are on online dating sites? I have nothing against these sites but aren’t we supposed to be young and active enough to be “out there” “meeting people”? Apparently not. Is it bad that I can relate to this post?

Truth is, I’m not really sure if we can have it all. I mean to say, not sure if we can have it all at the same time. This is why and I’ll lay it out for you through an example via the law profession:

Graduate college at 22 and go to law school (this is assuming you don’t take any years off in between, though many, Mag included, do). Spend your first summer interning as a clerk or summer associate after you’ve busted your ass as a 1L. Spend 2L busting your ass if you’ve managed to make law review. Second summer is spent slaving away at another firm, hoping to secure a job post-graduation in a crappy economy. 3L makes life much easier but as soon as you graduate, assuming you’ve found a job, you spend the summer studying for the bar. You are now 25. Start work, pulling multiple all-nighters and sleeping under your desk. You want a successful career so maybe you want to make partner. That means you must bill more hours than any one else. Life proceeds in this manner for the next 8-10 years until (if) you make partner. You are now at least 33.

So, where in that timeline do you see an opportunity to, oh I don’t know, meet a guy, go on more than 3 dates before he gives up on you because you’re too busy, get married, go on a honeymoon, get preggers and start a family? Yeah, I don’t see many openings either. But what if it went like this:

You do the entire law school thing, start work, but because you don’t WANT to make partner, you don’t put in as many hours, thus having time to date, meet Mr. Right, work for a few years, getting married at some point while you’re a lower-level associate, then quit when you get preggers, then have a family!

Is the latter option cheating? Will you be selling yourself short simply because you didn’t go all the way? Herein lies the problem, the conflict-of-interest (COI) if you will. No matter what any one else says, the corporate world is not a female-friendly environment simply due to biology. Guess what, when a man’s wife get’s pregnant, he can and probably will take paternity leave, but he’ll be back a lot faster than his wife who’ll be recovering for quite a while since she just pushed a baby through her who-ha. Not to mention, science has shown that women NATURALLY want to spend more time with their children. They say, the bird that returns early and bills the most hour gets the promotion, I mean, worm. Unless your company is very understanding or has different standards, evidence shows (and by evidence I mean all the single, divorced, or mother MIA female partners I know) that a stable family life and becoming top-dog at your company aren’t compatible. Perhaps at some point, you do have to choose. Maybe, you’ll be one of the lucky ones who has an understanding boss or is at a female-friendly company but for all the others, it’s very possible that there’s no other way around it but to prioritize one thing over another.

Or perhaps we need to be more proactive. Instead of waiting or wishing for a company that understands this COI, maybe, by working our way up, we can institute these policies, create the environment we need so that we can indeed have it all. Our biology may lead us to crave more of a domestic life at times but our intellect and drive do not have to suffer and be held back as a result. What’s that phrase? “Be the change you want to see”. Yes, instead of pondering the question, let’s just make it happen.

– Mag

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