a year and a half out

It’s been a year and half since I’ve graduated from W. That W. I meant to do some sort of an update post on my fifth blog anniversary, but I completely forgot.

Lots of things have happened this year and half, and while I can enumerate all of them, I still feel static. When talking to friends and catching up, it’s hard for me to tell them about my life, because I feel so boring. I like to think I have a rich inner life– but it is a boring life.

I’ve noticed small things a lot more since graduating; I’ve become acutely aware of even the small injustices. I’ve become the stereotypical Wendy, the one that perpetually says, “I’m offended.”It’s getting harder and harder to disguise my disgust and disdain, and I’ve recently come to express, to stand up for these feelings.

Ego and privilege are very real things; there are good people and there are crappy people. Mostly, there are good people who say crappy things. I’m one of those people. Political correctness is a state of unending effort to improve oneself, no one is natural at it.

There is an expression: “bounded by rationality.” Really, now.

[review] Jonghyun’s The Collection “Story Op.1”

2015 has been a big year for solo Jonghyun– he recently gave an interview, in which he said that if he were not a singer, he would be a composer. Jonghyun, you’re already a composer, and actually, not a bad one. Some (Michelle) would say, even a good composer.

1/ End of a Day

When I heard this for the first time, I knew this was the album of ballads that Jonghyun said he was afraid of releasing during Crazy (Guilty Pleasure) promotions. Perhaps not novel, it is clean, fresh, and delicately phrased. A safe, successful first dip.

2/ U & I

More in the style of his BASE album, U & I is lethargically cheery. I am also a big fan of how “bare” the background is, a bit of percussion, a little keyboard synthesizer– the kind of song perfect for a live band. I’ve always thought of Jonghyun’s alter-ego as more punk rock than anything, but after his BASE promotions and now this album, Jonghyun seems to rest more on the indie-instrumental-R&B-soul side.

His “Okay” in the beginning tantalizingly almost sounds like the beginning to EXO’s Playboy.

3/ Like You

This song has bit of an R&B influence; it could as easily have been part of SHINee repertoire if it was “jazzed” up with some electronic synths. The highlight of the song is Jonghyun’s harmonization at 1.21s.  Continue reading

top 15 kpop of 2015

My annual list of kpop that I’ve personally listened to most in 2015.

1/ Call Me Baby, EXO-M 

Every time I watch this video, I cannot get over how amazing everyone looks. SM’s visual game is ridiculous.

2/ Crazy (Guilty Pleasure), Jonghyun

Everyone saw this coming.

3/ Hallelujah, Jonghyun

He shouldn’t be allowed to gyrate his hips this much, ever.

4/ Hurt, EXO-M

5/ View, SHINee

6/ Deja-Boo, Jonghyun

7/ Love Sick, SHINee

I don’t even like this song that much.

8/ Komplicated, TVXQ

Some of the best work TVXQ has put forth in the past few years, almost rivaling Tone.

9/ Love Me Right, EXO-M

10/ Lightsaber, EXO

Okay, maybe I’m becoming a bit of an EXO-L. I’m obsessed with this promotional song (kill me).

11/ Closer, Oh My Girl

As a rookie group, they’re nothing special, but this song is ethereal and quite catchy.

12/ Rise as One, TVXQ

13/ Playboy, EXO

Written by Jonghyun- begging for an official Jonghyun cover.

14/ Mansae, Seventeen

The guy with the purple candyfloss hair. It’s so perverse but I love it. They’re quite a solid rookie group from what I’ve seen, but their songs veer on catchy and annoyingly-catchy.

15/ Exodus, EXO

So 13 out of 15 songs are from SM; I forgot, when did I sell my soul to SM again?

would you like a postcard?

Send me your address via theinnocentlam [at] gmail.com, and I’ll send you a postcard for the new year. To preclude random requests later, I’ll only send postcards to those who request one before January 3, 2016 (23:59 EST).

Happy new year. I swear, that review of Odd is slowly being written (just need to review lives!).

adulting no. 2: shampoo

adulting is a series on ilam that talks about doing new “adult” things, and what I’ve learned, which hopefully, may help you navigate adulting as well.

I have straight, fine hair, prone to oiliness if I don’t wash it every day. Forget about limp hair without volume– which I find to be the most common complaint amongst people with this type of hair– I just want hair that doesn’t get icky and oily and tangled by 5pm. In college, I would often wear braids to cut down on the tangles, and couldn’t wear my hair down or else it would inevitably knot itself. The oiliness would also cause me have incredibly painful bumps in my scalp from time to time.

Because I was relatively broke and focused on school, I shrugged it away for a while. However, with more disposable income now, I began my foray into buying “costs more than $2” array of hair products. I used them all– the typical drugstore brands by the likes of Dove, L’Oreal, Pantene, OGX, John Frieda, RedKen, Tresemme, etc. I also had a brief stint with salon products (my wallet cried very much). They all had a honeymoon period of a few days in which my hair was mercifully oil-free but then it returned to the same old pattern.

While mulling this sad existence at the supermarket shampoo aisle, I noticed that Renpure‘s coconut shampoo and conditioner were on sale. It advertised that it was made without parabens, sulfates, and synethetic colors. All right, I knew I was heading towards the young professional stereotype, so why not dip one more toe in?

Compared to what I had been using before, Renpure was amazing. My hair no longer tangled, but alas, after using it for a few months, it too began give me somewhat oily hair. I switched to another shampoo and conditioner to “reset” my hair, and used Renpure again after a few days– still no luck, the oiliness returned.

Then, like the yuppie I am, I was shopping at Whole Foods and I saw Jason on sale. Again, it was touted as having no “chemicals”, and made with botanical extracts (it smells like herbal tea). I bought the duo for $16, and heck, I threw in a Dolcezza pint of cococut milk gelato for $8 because when you’re at Whole Foods, you throw away the pretense of saving any money.

My problems have been solved.

IMG_20151220_170832

My hair is always straight, easy to comb through– sometimes I even forget to brush my hair in the morning because it is no longer a rat’s nest– and the oil has vanished, along with the painful bumps. Also, even though I haven’t had a haircut in over six months, I cannot feel split ends. I think the harsher chemicals in the industrial hair products were too strong and stripped away the natural moisture in my hair– in turn causing dryness, split ends, and forcing my scalp to produce extra oil. Due to less oil in general, the incidence of acne along my hairline and the painful bumps on my scalp have been at an all-time low. This experience with shampoo has made me think more about the other stuff I’m putting in or on my body– we only ever have one body, and it’s important to treat it with quality products that fit our needs. It doesn’t have to be $8 shampoo from Whole Foods, of course, it could easily be just making this simple homemade shampoo.

Lessons Learned: 

  1. Go off the beaten path and try the “natural” and “without chemicals” products.
  2. Occasionally “reset” your hair from your current regimen by using different products for a few days.

adulting no. 1: could I love this supermarket?

adulting is a series on ilam that talks about doing new “adult” things, and what I’ve learned, which hopefully, may help you navigate adulting as well.

Now that I’ve been a city-liver for a little over a year, I’ve realized the one thing most important to me: the proximity of a well-stocked supermarket. I’ve put together an internal list of what I look for in a supermarket, and I’m never happier than visiting a new supermarket for the first time.

  • How is the quality and selection size of the produce? Is it arranged nicely, reasonably stocked, and is it fresh at least 6 days out of 7?
  • What does its international section look like? Does it carry mirin, rice vinegar, and Golden Curry? Do they have bok choy, sugar snap peas, and daikon? Do they stock green tea ice cream? For a supermarket in a large metropolitan area, these should be all standard.
  • Does it sell arugula separately (i.e. not within a salad mix)?
  • Does it have a pharmacy with convenient hours?
  • Do they bake in-house? How much is a French baguette and how large is it?
  • Is the overall feel clean, modern, and pleasant?
  • When ordering from the deli, do they look you in the eye when you order?
  • What is the supermarket’s brand? Do they focus on organics? Sustainability? Cheap prices?
  • How do the prices and quality compare to other supermarkets in the area? How much are the dozen eggs (organic and free-range)? How much are cucumbers? How much are tomatoes?

Lessons Learned:

  1. Always check out the neighborhood supermarkets before moving into a neighborhood.

a short update

The important points- I’m not dead. I eventually plan to review the new SHINee albums/singles.

Some other things have taken up my time, and since I only have a finite amount of time, kpop has fallen to the wayside. Notably, I’ve started reading more Chinese and doing Chinese translations, which you can check out here. That’s really taken up 90% of my creative writing ability, and sadly, as you can see, this blog has suffered for it.

My job and extensions of it also has taken a lot of time from my plate. I like my job a lot (an economics research assistant at a federal agency), so no complaints there. I recently passed my one-year anniversary.

It’s been a busy year so far, and I hope you have been keeping well. I’m still here, and will continue to be. Thank you for continuing to be there with me.