Human Appreciation Post

Today I was walking (surprise) and thinking about the awesomeness of people.

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recent folks and feasts (feat. pancake Friday TWO WEEKS IN A ROW)

Don’t think I go around frolicking in a field thinking about this all the time though. It is a gift to be able to see the goodness and awesomeness in other people, so I’m seizing the moment to write a post about some people, random and not-so-random, who I think are awesome.

A human appreciation post, you could say.

People who clean public bathrooms.

People who drive 18-wheelers with 20 other cars stacked on it on the highway. If that does not make you think of the frailty of your life and the lives of others while driving on the highway, I don’t know what will.

Drivers who let me as a pedestrian have right of way, even if I haven’t started crossing the crosswalk, and it would be totally fine if they kept driving. (Honestly, I’d prefer if you took your right of way, but I APPRECIATE YOUR THOUGHT.)

Roommates who surprise me and do my dishes.

People who are constantly willing and excited to go way out of their comfort zone for the sake of growth and adventure and seeing what God has in store.

Construction workers who go into manholes at 10pm.

Construction workers who build bridges.

All construction workers.

Friends who think to have a pancake party on a Friday night.

Friends who are always down to eat ice cream with me.

Friends who go to Mass with me.

People who peacefully stand up for what they believe in. Whether I agree or disagree with those people, I appreciate the courage and passion for defending and fighting for what they truly believe is right.

People who run more than 1 mile at a sub-8:00 pace. Hahaha.

Priests and religious who wear vestments/habits in the summer heat. Also, people who wear shirts, ties, and slacks in the summer heat. Dedication all around.

People who lovingly correct my actions. Thank you for caring for me enough to say something to me. I’m a weenie and have such a hard time showing tough love like that (confrontation ahhhhhhhhh).

People who genuinely smile and laugh a lot.

Musicians, writers, photographers, and artists of any kind who devote themselves to an art because they believe in the power of beauty to save the world (← see my photojournalist friend’s article!!!).

Any fitness instructor who teaches a class before 9am (and any fitness instructor).

People who can be hilarious without being vulgar at all.

Primary school teachers (← this video kills me).

Researchers. Trial, error, abstracts, experiments, no. thank. you.

Parents who raise and love their children who have disabilities/congenital abnormalities (and all parents who lovingly raise children, period.)

That guy (or gal) who says hi to someone but that someone doesn’t hear and accidentally ignores the guy. I see you. Thanks for your friendliness.

Whoever keeps Boston’s water system so clean so that I can drink tap water without worrying.

People who always walk on the street without headphones because they want to be present. You are better than I.

People who love so deeply, truly, and vulnerably, even when their hearts might be broken.

Happy Sunday, friends!

So tell me:

Who are some random and not-so-random humans you appreciate?

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Recent Fun Facts

1) I turned 22 last Thursday.

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This past year being 21 was probably the most difficult year of my life, academically, spiritually, and emotionally. Makes me both terrified and AMPED for 22!!! I am grateful for this beautiful life. Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday through text, Facebook, Instagram comment, in person, or over the phone!

2) I have needed someone to roll me home after dinner this whole weekend. Figuratively, that is. But it would have been nice hilarious to have someone actually do that for me.

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My family and I went to Montreal this past weekend for my friend Monica’s graduation from McGill University, and we went all out with the food. Poutine, hand-pulled noodles, Montreal bagels, excessively expensive sushi… It was delightful and indulgent to say the least. But the main star of the show was this gal!! We are so proud of her.

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Rachel also took me out in Boston the night before my birthday to a place called Alden and Harlow, where we got the “Secret Burger” (a food bucket list item of ours!), among other delicious fare. The Secret Burger has a crispy freaking CHEESE DISK under the top bun. Good g r i e f.

 

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semolina pistachio cake with strawberry sauce of sorts + peanut brittle was also fabulous

3) I tried three weeks of a delivery meal service (the ones where the company sends you all the ingredients + recipe instructions and you make it yourself). One week of Hello Fresh for a free trial from my brother’s girlfriend, Elaine. One week of Hello Fresh that I paid for because I forgot to cancel the subscription after the free trial (*rolls eyes at self*). One week of Plated for a free trial from my friend Christie.

I typically would not buy these meal services for myself because your girl cannot afford that, but it was a blast getting to try it! It was fun exploring new recipes and using cooking techniques that I never would have tried on my own. It’s even more fun cooking and sharing the meals with another person. I recommend trying it at least once (i.e. asking a friend who subscribes for a free code hehe).

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Some recipes from Hello Fresh: balsamic onion jam burgers with arugula and aioli on brioche buns // pork tenderloin with crispy potatoes and roasted vegetables // chicken cheddar fajitas. One from Plated: spicy crunchy tuna bowl

There was not a recipe from either company that I didn’t like! It’s great that each recipe also takes less than an hour to cook. “Hangry” prevention is key.

4) I have not been sleeping enough despite having no work to do since finals ended. I am craving routine again. Work starts next week!

5) I have not done a workout more than 45 minutes in the past year it seems. That will need to change as my friend Ben and I are doing another Spartan Race in August, except this time it’s a Spartan Super (10-ish miles) instead of a Spartan Sprint (5 miles), which is what we did last year, and even that wiped me out. HAHA oh my word, I have zero endurance right now.

6) I peed while on the Tappan Zee Bridge.

…Because I was on a coach bus that had a bathroom on it 🙂 Did I freak you out??

7) I kind of want to do another vlog like this one (“half a week in the life”) from last year. That was so fun to make! A little bit of an unnecessary time sucker, but hey, #summer.

8) My talented friend John (← check out his portfolio!) took some fun graduation photos for me and my friends. These people make me so happy.

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eMoTiOnz.

Too bad I have two more years of school left.

9) I am newly obsessed with Sean Lew and Kaycee Rice, two incredibly talented nugget dancers who know more about life at the age of 15/16 than I do.

Hits my soul pretty deep and makes me want to be a better person, to be honest.

10) I made a friend over the age of 80 yesterday, and she made me cry with her sweet and beautiful words of faith, hope, and love. What a gift.

GOOD NIGHT (as I type this into the wee midnight hours).

So tell me:

Some recent fun facts about yourself!

Have you ever tried a Montreal bagel OR poutine?

What is something that has touched your heart recently? 

Virtual Breakfast Date

Hey, hi, hello, let’s meet and eat.

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…I would {obviously} peek at what you’re having for breakfast. Here’s what I’m having this morning:

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To wipe that disgusted/confused look off some of your faces, I’d explain that it’s an overnight oat smoothie blended with greens this morning and topped with the crunchiest purple corn flakes (I just attempted to find which brand it was, because we threw out the box, but I’m not sure which one it is!). I would assure you that it tastes delicious. Wanna try a bite?

…I would say never mind, don’t have a bite. I came down with a fever a few days ago and I feel 95% recovered, but my throat still hurts a bit, so don’t take your chances.

…I would attribute my sickness to two days in a row of theme parks in less-than-ideal weather. But with an ideal theme park companion by my side! My dear friend, Lauren (fellow air saxophone and groovy tune enthusiast), visited us in Florida for a few days after New Years, and we had a grand ol’ time.

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The night she arrived, Madre and I (poor Pop was the first to get a fever that night) took her to Disney Springs for dinner and perusing. We shared so many hysterical laughs at the silliest things, and it was the best.

…I would exclaim that dinner at Paddlefish was STELLAR. They started us off with the fluffiest bread with honey cinnamon butter, and now I think honey cinnamon butter should be on every table across the nation. Lauren got the mahi-mahi special, which had a macadamia nut crust and sat on top of crab fried rice. Madre got the fish and chips, which came with two giant pieces of perfectly crispy fried cod and sweet potato fries (her absolute favorite). And I got the scallops with bacon, crispy brussels sprouts, and cauliflower puree. We all shared bites of each other’s dishes, and everything was blissful.

We finished the meal with their “charred carrot cake,” which was three times larger than I was expecting. It came with excellent vanilla ice cream, shortbread crumbles and little fried carrots *jaw drops*. We took most of it home.

…I would stop drooling over my past meal and continue the story of our fun evening. Following dinner, we walked around and admired the charm of overpriced Disney merchandise.

mom: “kiss the Lego girl!” *obey* mom: “alison you need to be closer” 🤭

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THEN WE DANCED…and participated in a lip synch competition that was 20 minutes longer than we were expecting. I posted some of the craziness on Instagram:

I was l i v i n g. This is basically what I do in my room by myself when I’m bored, except this time I was less loser status and actually had an audience! Having Lauren there was extra fun, because she’s often my groove buddy.

…I would tell you that we went to Universal Studios and Disney’s Magic Kingdom the next two days. It was rainy and chilly on Universal day, so some of the rides were down unfortunately.

after v. before the rain at universal studios #hunchbacksofharrypotterworld

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Lauren and I managed to have a nice time at Harry Potter World though, sipping warm Butterbeer, eating delicious ice cream from Florean Fontescue, and remarking at how Diagon Alley = diagonally, and Knockturn Alley = nocturnally. But the Revenge of the Mummy ride outside of HP World was our favorite. We went twice.

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Magic Kingdom was…fine. Mistake #1 was arriving at 11am, which is way too late for a theme park like Disney. It was utterly packed that day (the wait for Space Mountain kept teetering between 2.5 to 4 hours lol), and also utterly FREEZING for Florida. I was quite underdressed and just miserable by the end of the day, but it was still fun hanging out with Lauren all day and even meeting up with our friend Domenica and her cousins sometime in there (bottom middle photo)!

…I would say that Lauren really made the theme parks fun. If it weren’t for her humor and both of our “well…we’ll work with what we got” personalities, it would have been a rather disappointing two days. But anything can be a great time if you let it be.

…I would wish you warmth! As we road-tripped home from FL to NY this weekend, it felt like the movie The Day After Tomorrow when the ice was invading the city like a wave. Just coldness creeping and increasing with every pit stop. I’m such a baby when it comes to the cold. You’d think I’d be okay with it living in the Northeast for 12 years, but nah.

…I would say that I’ve been eating ohhhhh so well this winter break. But I’m sure you’ve noticed.

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Yes, we did go to Popeyes on our road trip. It was one of the greasiest most delicious things I’ve ever put into my mouth. Other things have included desserts from my brother and his girlfriend (she got me banana pudding from Magnolia bakery!), sushi (I think NY has the best sushi in the northeast), and mom’s homemade food (*angels singing*).

…I would laugh at how I had coffee date with a friend in a heated train station yesterday. My friend who I met abroad in Ireland, Cristen, and I got hot beverages and muffins from The Black Cow yesterday, but there were no seats left in the tiny coffee shop. Thus, I asked the cashier if she knew any place nearby where we could just sit and chat, and she suggested the train station… So we went.

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These chairs were actually attached to the floor because they were more like art pieces, I think. But it was heated in there, sort of. I had to push a button every 20 minutes that said, “PRESS IF YOU WANT HEAT.” YES WE WANT HEAT.

Cristen and I are up for anything though, and we had a lovely time catching up on life. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I had the steamed milk and honey (loved it) and a morning glory muffin.

Soul warmed by conversation and esophagus warmed by hot beverages.

…I would shut up now because this post is so long and ask you:

What are you eating for breakfast?

Have you ever had a less-than-ideal theme park experience?

Tell me about an odd situation you’ve experienced recently.

How was your first week of 2018?

Today.

This blog post is not even about today, LOL.

In its purest cliché description, this post is about living in the moment. The theme stems from the plethora of changes — mental, intellectual, spiritual, physical (← idk, maybe less so), emotional — I’ve experienced in these past few months.

I’m the kind of person who takes her sweet time (I’m the most inefficient person I know) to try to do things “right,” whatever that means.

I face normal, everyday questions:

Should I study by myself or with classmates? 

Do I take the train or Uber or walk?

What should I pack for dinner? Should I buy dinner instead? 

Should I listen to Tori Kelly or Young the Giant in the 4 minutes I have before I arrive at my destination?

And then there are some bigger questions:

Why has God placed this person/friendship/relationship in my life?

What are my professional goals?

Where will I be a year from now?

What path do I need to take in order to best serve God for the rest of my life?

What is the right thing to do so that everyone is happy in the long run?

It is these latter questions that wrack my brain 5/7 days a week, because I don’t have a single dang clue what the answers are. I have a hard enough time coming to a decent answer for the everyday questions; the big questions just sort of debilitate me.

Of course, I’m sure nearly everyone feels the same way that I do about big questions regarding the future. How can anyone be sure about the future? But somehow I still forget that the only thing I can do is love and serve God today. Our words and actions today do indeed have ramifications for the future, but your mind, body and spirit can’t be anywhere but here today. For our lives are made up of days.

SO TODAY IS GOOD AND IMPORTANT AND CANNOT BE AVOIDED SO LIVE IT, DANG IT.

That yelling was mostly for myself. A self pep talk you could say. I didn’t mean to yell at you.

All that said, here are some moments with my family that I tried to live fully in the moments they were happening.

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Ben and I took our parents out to Hemingway’s for dinner as a Christmas present, since the best gift we can really give to each other at this point in our lives is quality time and food. I got {absurdly expensive} crab cakes, which were delightful with the coconut grits underneath and perfectly cooked asparagus on top.

The rosemary sourdough rolls at the start were also fantastic, but they were no cheese biscuits (the complimentary bread that was served when we first went to the restaurant three years ago). RIP cheese biscuits. I will dream about thee forever.

We all split calamari as an appetizer and key lime pie for dessert as well. Both hit all the right spots.

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I’ve been peddle boating with Madre! There have been alligator sightings in the lake in the past, so I’m always a little on edge about that, but thus far we have not been eaten.

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On Wednesday morning, Madre, Ben and I (Pop was working from home — man of the year) went to Keke’s Breakfast Cafe for…breakfast, naturally. It’s apparently extremely popular, so we worked up an appetite and waited approximately 25 minutes for a table. ‘Twas worth it though because just LOOK at the food.

Ben got the apple cinnamon stuffed French toast with home fries and sausage; Mom got regular French toast with eggs and sausage; and I got the largest blueberry pancake in the world with eggs and {bomb} bacon.

^^^True story. I ordered two pancakes at first, but then the waiter asked, “Are you sure?? Have you seen the size of our pancakes? If I eat two then I pass out.”

In my head at first I thought, “You don’t even know me.” But then I was like #humility and #dontbegreedy, so I ordered one pancake instead. Good thing, because the pancake was like a literal 9-inch cake in height and diameter, guys. I had to take 1/3 of it home. I NEVER LEAVE PANCAKES BEHIND USUALLY.

But it was a large, high-quality pancake. So fluffy and buttery. High recommend. Butter and Aunt Jemima required.

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^^^Random: Saw this at Publix. This is bad. I hate this headline, and I don’t hate many things. If you lose 10 lbs in 48 hours, something is WRONG.

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To end on a positive note though, God is good all the time.

And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I

— “So Will I” by Hillsong United

(if you wanna hear something beautiful today, listen to ^^this song, especially the Tori Kelly version)

Enjoy today 🙂

So tell me:

Thoughts about living today.

Waffles, French toast, or pancakes?

What is something ridiculous you’ve seen recently?

 

Out of Blogging Shape

Merry Christmas!!! I hope you all had a fantastic day with loved ones yesterday!

Six months ago, you wouldn’t have to ask me once to remember to blog, but currently, I feel as though I’ve fallen out of “blogging shape”. Several friends have had to remind me that I could utilize my break from school to blog more, and I just respond by saying, “…Huh. You’re right. I almost forgot I had a blog.”

Part of the reason I’ve been hesitant to bite the bullet and blog more frequently again (besides grad school busyness finally dying down and my subsequent desire to do absolutely nothing) is that I feel like I have too much I could blog about. As I both implicitly and explicitly described in my traditional end-of-semester blog post, I have learned oodles of academic lessons and life lessons alike; I could probably write a short novel about everything that swirls around my head these days.

But as I would do when getting back into physical shape, I’ll ease into blogging shape again by starting light and slow. Let’s start with a recap of Christmas break so far.

(Also, I’m running out of media storage space on WordPress, and since your girl doesn’t have the time nor the money to upgrade to WordPress Premium just for extra photo storage, we’re gonna work with collages. Not ideal, but better than nothing!)

Christmas collage

We made it to balmy Florida last Friday, feeling climate-confused (i.e. hot and cranky) carrying our heavy winter coats out of the airplane and into the humidity of Orlando. I cannot complain about the 70 degree temperatures and blue skies down here though 😀

Most of our meals have been Asian home-cooked meals made by Madre. Everything from pho to spring rolls to sticky rice with Laotian sausage to Korean galbi jjim (aka the best beef dish I ever did taste). She snuck in steak with blue cheese sauce one night too, and that was SOULFUL. I love cooking for myself in Boston, but ain’t nobody got time for steak over there.

Other things I’ve eaten include oatmeal (classic), Cheetos (childhood fave), avocado egg toast (classic), fried bananas (omg), salads (nutrition), and fried pork belly (LIVE UR LIFE).

Moves and grooves have come in the form of hula hooping, peddle boating (Ben gifted the boat to the fam for Christmas!), Just Dance, Wii Sports, and some outdoor workouts.

Side note: If you peddle boat fast enough, it’s a decent butt workout. Should I peddle boat to a spin class playlist??

We technically started Christmas Day on the dot at 12am with midnight Mass, which was gloooooorious! Ladies dressed in red, trumpets blasting (legit trumpets were used during Mass, so fun), joyful spirits, and Jesus in the manger. UGH.

I also ate an embarrassing number of my aunt’s homemade cookies to celebrate. 🙂

After sleeping in, we ate brunch and then FaceTimed many of our family members for a couple hours. I fried some bananas for the masses and did 100 burpees for time and for… fun (?) before we headed to our family friends’ house for Christmas dinner!

The top left corner photo of the collage shows just a little bit of what we ate. Everyone’s mother is such a good cook!! Options included pot roast, galbi jjim that Madre made, sweet and salty ribs, pancit malabon (Filipino noodle dish), peanut oxtail with eggplant and bok choy, asparagus, and loads of white rice as the base for all that goodness. Dessert included fried bananas, brownies, and pistachio muffins. #blessed and #stuffed.

The “kids” (read: all of us under the age of 27) watched a hilariously and nauseatingly cheesy Hallmark movie before we switched to Beauty and the Beast, to which we sang along with passion and enthusiasm.

Back at home, I prayed with the Christmas Day Gospel (John 1:1-18) and reflected on the truly incredible and beautiful mystery of Christmas. This quote from the former pope also struck me:

God’s sign is the baby in need of help and in poverty. Exactly the same sign has been given to us… God’s sign is simplicity… God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns.

He does not come with power and outward splendor. He comes as a baby — defenseless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away or fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts, and his will — we learn to live with him and to practice with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love.

God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him…

Christmas has become the feast of gifts in imitation of God who has given himself to us. Let us allow our heart, our soul, and our mind to be touched by this fact!

— Pope Benedict XVI

And with that, I wish you a blessed week ahead, friends. I think I’m going to go on a walk (step counts always plummet by literally thousands when I’m home vs. at school), work out… and maybe study a bit (I know, I am cringing too, but I must retain information!).

I feel like I used so many parentheses in this post. *shrug*

So tell me:

How did you celebrate Christmas (or any other holiday during this season)?

Best thing you ate this week.

Have you ever gone peddle boating?