5 Things I’ve Learned from Writing My First Short Story

In elementary and middle school, my teachers would encourage me to write a short story. Writing a short story was the perfect outlet for me to unleash my imagination.

Well, I stopped writing stories when I got to high school, since my teachers made me writing essays only.

I didn’t think about writing fiction again until I stumbled upon Yin Chang’s 88 Cups of Tea podcast.

To my surprise, Chang interviews various NY Times Bestsellers on their writing process and struggles they’ve faced as writers.

After listening to the podcast a few times, I decided to write a short story! After editing my final draft, I submitted it to a literary magazine!

No matter what response I get from the magazine, I’m proud of myself for finally writing a short story.

From writing my short story, I’ve learned some things.

1. It’s a process

Don’t expect a perfect draft on the first time. Your story will probably change more than once. Get the idea of perfection out of your head.

2. Don’t get lazy

I will admit that I didn’t work on my story for more than a week. I was being lazy. It was my friend, who was so nice to edit my story, was always asking me when I would get a new draft to her. That forced me to continue perfecting my draft.

3. Expect a lot of rewrites

Coming up with an ending was the most challenging part. Every ending I wrote, my friend rejected it. She expressed that each ending didn’t feel natural for the story.

I took Matt de la Pena’s advice of not overthinking how a scene relates to the story. His advice eventually led me to my ending!

4. Accept constructive criticism

You won’t grow as a writer if you’re unwilling to accept constructive criticism. For example, my friend commented that the dialogue didn’t show the characters’ personalities. Her comments made me realize that the character development aspect was missing in my narration.

5. Utilize free time to write

During my breaks at my temp job, I was working on my story. I always brought a printed copy of my draft, so I could read and revise my story. Using those breaks were so beneficial because I didn’t have to worry about my draft when I got home.

Finally Jumping On the Korean Beauty Care Madness

This isn’t a paid sponsored post. I’ve included links to the products in case people were interested. The pics of my face are completely unedited.

When I visited Seoul for vacation during my junior year of college, advertisements of skin care, including for men, were everywhere.

I quickly realized how much Koreans value physical beauty.

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While visiting somebody at Korea University, a foreign girl told me a crazy fact: In Korea, people will sue a cosmetic company if the product doesn’t work. When she told me that, I thought that was extreme. That wouldn’t normally happen in America.

I completely forgot about Korean beauty products until the former academic dean from my study abroad program in Beijing sent me an article about guys doing the Korean beauty care routine. My jaw dropped when I read about guys using five different products in the morning and night. I thought, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Korean beauty care wasn’t on my mind until I read Fashionista.com article on recommended Korean products.

Dealing with terrible skin has been a normal part of my life. During the summers, my skin got so oily. Besides summer times, my skin would be so dry and rough. Having dark circles did not help much.

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My face before trying Glow Recipe

I decided to click on it and found out about the company Glow Recipe. I browsed through their website and was amazed how much info they had on routines and what products to use.

After doing a Google search on Glow Recipe, I found a video they did with the YouTube Channel DramaFever.

The co-founders were educating the guys, who clearly knew nothing about skin care (I’m guilty of this too). When founders Sarah and Christine brought out the kelp mask, I so wanted it.

I got online and found the kelp mask. When I saw the price tag, I thought, “$14 for a face mask?!? It better be worth it.” That seemed a bit expensive, but the mask seemed to worked on the guy in the video. So, I decided to splurge on it to try it once.

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A week later my package from Glow Recipe arrived.

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To my surprise, they gave me a few samples.

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My first step was applying the trans form cleaning oil.

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I was always told that oil was bad for the skin. Until I read online that using oil helps clean the skin and preventing it from getting dry.

I applied the trans form cleaning oil over my face before wetting my hands to scrub my face. Then I rinsed my face before patting it dry with a towel. Patting the face prevents the face from getting roughed up.

Finally, I decided to try the kelp face mask. When I opened it, it for sure smelt like the sea. The face mask was a bit sticky due to the bamboo serum.

While wearing the face mask for 15 minutes, I sent a pic of me wearing it to my friend.

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She texted, “Hahahahahah you look like a sea monster!!”

After 15 minutes, I peeled the mask off. Then I patted the leftover serum on top of my face.

The next morning, my skin wasn’t feeling dry anymore! The $14 was worth it.

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I was quite pleased so much with the kelp mask, I’ve decided to add the 8 kelp masks for $40 deal to my shopping cart on the website. I plan to buy it once I get my next paycheck!

 

 

 

Walking Is My Time To Reflect

It has been over a month since I last blogged. I was going through a lot in the last month. A lot of emotional and personal matters.

I felt that I had nothing to say.

I was living my life on autopilot.

It was until yesterday that I began to get myself off of autopilot. It was sunny outside and I decided to go outside for a walk. I hadn’t walked outside in months since I drove everywhere.

When I was walking, I noticed how big and green the trees were. I breathed in the fresh air. I completely ignored my phone.

While I was walking, thoughts began to popped up on my mind. I questioned where I was going with my life. I wondered when my dreams would happen (Dealing with doubts have been my greatest weakness because I worry a lot).

It wasn’t until I remembered that I should stop worrying. I won’t deny that being patient isn’t my greatest thing. But life has presented things in unusual ways. Those unusual ways make me more excited and happy for those moments.

Walking is my time to reflect and appreciate the good things in my life.

Removing Toxic People From Your Life

The one huge lesson I’ve learned after college: you have to remove toxic people from your life.

You probably have friends, whom you thought you would be pals with forever, but they weigh you down. But you can’t cut them out since you’ve spent so much time with and shared secrets. You think about the good things they have done for you.

But deep down, you know they’re causing more harm to you.

This is a hard lesson to learn.

I have had to do this because I didn’t see the point of pretending to want to be friends. This was made clear when I looked through my contact list on my phone. I scrolled down and realized that I had not talked to these people in months.

So, I decided to delete those numbers off my phone. It felt relieving. Then, I removed those people off my social media too.

After doing that, I wondered why I did not do it sooner. But I knew that I was scared to let go. I felt so comfortable having friendships I developed at the beginning of college.

At the end of the day, some friendships aren’t meant to last forever. Some friendships can actually be toxic.

You have to be willing to end them.

Writer’s Block Is The Worst

Sometimes when I write, my fingers just type out the words within minutes. Then I will have a nice piece of writing. But there are times where I can’t type anything.

I can be starring at my screen for an hour and have nothing typed.

That leads me to be frustrated with myself for not being able to write. I question why I can’t just come up with an idea. Or why I can’t develop an idea fully.

There have been times where I can’t write for days.

But recently, I have realized that I don’t need to always produce a masterpiece. If a draft is shitty, it’s okay. I can just hit the delete button and no one would know.

The one thing I have learned: a writer’s block can be removed. I just have to remember what Liz Gilbert said at a Ted Talk (which I am paraphrasing), “No one expects you to write something perfect. Just write.” As long as I write something, I’m happy.

Podcasts As My New Lectures

Back in February, CollegeFashionista emailed me about their new podcast series. I heard about podcasts as a medium vaguely in the past; they were explained as digital radio interviews.

I listened to Amy Levin’s, founder CollegeFashionista, first interview with Joyce Chang, EIC of Self Magazine. Amy Levin asked Joyce how she pursed a career in journalism. Besides journalism, Joyce shared her new habit of meditating in the morning to clear her mind.

Listening to Joyce’s talking about meditation made me make meditation a daily part of my routine.

The podcast interview showed me how information can be presented differently.

Podcast as a medium taps into the audio senses of the mind. Unlike print, you can actually hear the tone and attitude of a person.

On the contrast with video, you’re only listening instead of letting visuals distract you. When you watch an interview on YouTube, you can’t help judge what a person is wearing. That can distract you from understanding the ideas a person is conveying.

Thanks to CollegeFashionista, I have began listening to other podcasts. My favorite is 88 Cups of Tea by Yin Chang. I remembered Yin Chang as Nelly Yuki on “Gossip Girl”.

To my great surprise, Yin switched from acting to hosting. She interviews various creative minds, especially writers and directors, on how their creative process works. Plus, she asks them to give practical advice on deal with writer’s block, such as which computer programs to use.

Just recently, Yin interviewed David J. Peterson, on how he created the language for “Game of Thrones”. I learned the term conlag, which means a person who invents languages.

My new habit of listening to podcasts has shown me that you don’t have to gain knowledge from a classroom only. Podcasts are a free way to gain others’ knowledge and advice. Plus, they are a lot more enjoyable than a typical college lecture.

I recommend that you take the time to listen to a podcast. You will enjoy it.

Meditating Daily For A Clear Mind

While listening to CollegeFashionista’s podcast (highly recommend it, even if you aren’t into fashion) and their first episode was with Joyce Chang, editor-in-chief of Self Magazine. Chang talked about meditating daily. And she made it clear that meditation helped her clear her mind.

Two weeks ago, I decided to start meditating to improve my mind. So, I decided to start off with 3 minutes. My first day was intense. Breathing heavily and kept thinking, “Where am I going with my life?’

At the end of the meditation, I felt that I failed. I felt that I was Julia Roberts Eat, Pray, Love when she couldn’t meditate well.

On the next day, I decided to try again. I meditated for 3 minutes again. Sky Ferreira’s “You Are Not the One” played on my mind. Blocking it was a challenge. It kept replaying. It wasn’t until the last minute that I was able to clear my mind.

On the third day, I sat down and meditated for 3 minutes. Surprisingly, no thoughts popped up. I just simply breathed.

Since meditating, I have been feeling more clear in my head. I still overthink, but my thoughts aren’t as strong as they used to be.

Whenever you feel stressed, find something to help you ease your mind. It doesn’t have to be meditation. You can go running outside to clear your head.

Taking care of your mental health is very crucial.

Lessons Learned From First Year Out of College

It has almost been a year since graduating college. The first year after college proved to be a huge adjustment. Becoming an adult has turned out to be rather overrated.

But I have learned some important lessons.

1. Exercise is a must

I’m very lazy when it comes to exercising. Getting my butt up is such a hassle. But I have realized that I have to move my body or else I will get fat.

To avoid sitting all day, I take a walk outside. This allows me to breathe in fresh air and appreciate Mother Nature.

2. Care about what you’re putting in your body

Eating junk food was my favorite activity growing up. In college, I stuffed my face due to the stress.

After graduating, I began to feel rather sleepy and sick when I ate too much greasy food. Now, I only eat fast food to twice a week. I drink tea daily too.

3. Make time for others

In school, people are right there to hang out. Once you hit the real world, you classmates are not physically there. They become busy with their own jobs and lives.

That is why you have to put in the effort to reconnect with others or else your friendships will slowly fall apart.

4. Keep learning

It’s easy to let your brain rot after college. That is why you have to keep your learning up. However, learning doesn’t have to be in a classroom. You can take online courses for free or take part in a community based class. Traveling is another great option too.

5. Focus on your goals

You’ll probably face plenty of rejection. I’ve received so many no or things didn’t work out. Yet, you can’t quit. People who succeed are the ones who keep going.

 

Getting Some Legit Mexican Food and Sweets!

Over the weekend, I was texting my friend that I was craving Mexican food. The legit kind.

She responded that she knew a few authentic Mexican places. We planned at that moment to get Mexican food for lunch.

Today, my friend took me to a restaurant called Real de Minas. Never heard of it before. But my friend ensured me that it was very good.

Walking in, the place gave a cozy feel by the Mexican decoration on the walls.

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When I was browsing the menu, my friend suggested for me to get the combo in order to try different dishes. She showed me food items I didn’t know about before.

She explained that tostada is basically like a taco, except it is served on a flat tortilla. Then, she talked about what a chile relleno was (seen it before on the Food Network). She advised me to get shredded beef as my meat.

I ended up ordering the tostada and chimichanga! Figured that I should try something new instead of getting the typical burrito or tacos.

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While we waited for the food, we were served with chips, salsa, and an avocado sauce. The avocado sauce was so refreshing. I spread the avocado sauce over my entree.

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My friend shared her chile relleno with me and it was so good! I wished I got it! Oh well.

The tostada was my favorite. It was easier to eat than a typical taco. Not messy at all.

Following our lunch, my friend mentioned a Mexican bakery she knew. She asked if I wanted and I just said yeah.

The bakery was so cute with Mexican fiesta decorations. Forgot to take pics.

The bakery reminded me of the bakeries in Beijing because of the trays and tongs. I loved going into the bakeries in Beijing because they were full of sweets and stuffed bread.

My friend quickly selected the sweet for me. She kept saying, “Oh, you have to try this. You have try this.” She kept on grabbing different sweets.

 

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I was surprised that the sweets were so cheap. Great deal!

Very grateful for taking me out for legit Mexican food and sweet today!

 

Cooking Boxed Dirty Rice With A Fresh Twist

Out of everything my dad made growing up, Zatarain’s dirty rice mix was my favorite!

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Clearly unhealthy by it being processed. And consisting mainly of rice and meat. But I loved eating it!

Today, I was looking at what I had on the shelves and found a box of the dirty rice. So, I decided to cook it.

First, I browned some ground beef, but I added some green onion to give it some freshness.

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After browning the ground beef, I drained the excess fat oil. Don’t worry. I did not dispose the oil down the sink (that would cause problems).

After draining the fat oil, I tossed in bell peppers to give it something light.

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Then I added water, the mixture bag from the box, and some vegetable oil.

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Following the directions of the box, I covered the pot and turned the heat down.

Left the pot alone for 25 minutes while occasionally stirring it.

After the 25 minutes, I turned off the heat and left the rice alone  for 5 minutes.

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Finally, I ate it and it was so yummy!