about

Iris.

A Lucy van Pelt at Brown University.

Here lie the scattered thoughts, loose memories, and distant remains of a bygone me.


crema-cream:

New Harvest Coffee and Spirits—Grand Opening (11/20)

Children, adults, and people every age in between showed up tonight to celebrate the opening of the newest (and I daresay, best?) coffee shop in Providence. As one of few shops that serves both coffee and cocktails, NHCS stands out from other local cafes in the quality of its drinks and its unique offerings of coffee cocktails such as “Korate Kid” and “Controversy.”

Its team of dedicated baristas/bartenders not only served drinks tonight, but also offered free hors d’oeuvres. Finger foods ranging from cheese to mousse cake were placed in an adjacent stall for customers to pair with their drinks. I personally thought that the mousse cake was perfect with a cortado.

Cheers to the grand opening.

Check out my little coffee blog for hip shops around Providence and the Bay Area, home brew tips, and all sorts of caffeinated thingamajigs. c:

BUSUN XVII

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of BUSUN when I dragged into this back in March though for the most part, I thought it would be like “playing house” with high school kids. While I have a fair share of negative/constructive criticism, BUSUN has been an eye-opening experience. As my first headway into anything MUN-related, I came out of it understanding parliamentary procedure and knowing how to assert my presence in a room full of shouting people. (Too bad it took also big chunk out of my weekend.)

I got into JWW 301 on Friday afternoon and stayed in it for much longer than I wanted to for the next three days. I chaired the CPC (Communist Party of China) Joint Crisis Committee during the WWII Pacific Theater and spent my weekend listening to debate on diplomacy and military strategy, asking for “points and motions at this time,” and banging the gavel whenever I could. While the delegates brought up good points, they failed to meet my expectations of preparedness. Most of them seemed to have little to no understanding of the actual historical timeline and were BS-ing their way through debate.

Actual quotes:

  • "Perhaps we should consider allying with Japan."
  • "Peking." (Pronounced "pecking")
  • "I would like to move 5,000 troops to Beijing to attack the 200,000 Japanese forces there."

Because I was playing as the Chairman for the duration of the committee, I dressed up as Mao on Saturday. Over the course of the day, I got both compliments and snide remarks regarding my clothing choice, ranging from a disapproving “Communist…” to a respectful “Good evening, comrade.”

Too much caffeine (to the point where I may be slightly addicted…), a sore throat, and fifteen hours of committee session later, I have emerged from my prison. If it’s possible to have a MUN-hangover, I am pretty sure I had one. I woke up the next day after 11 hours of sleep, unrested and bogged down by a migraine. I spent the entire day doing much of nothing.

In retrospect, perhaps the most genuine and meaningful thing I could’ve said during awards was “You kids were the only reason I woke up early every day.”

What’s so Liberal about Brown?

Background information: 1, 2, 3. (Highly suggested! At least the first one.)

In light of what happened today at the Raymond Kelly lecture, it seems almost necessary for all Brown students to reflect on their actions and/or stance on the matter.

My reaction was very much like that of Paxson’s—I felt somewhat disgraced that some peers refused to listen to a different opinion, however controversial, and closed a lecture that could have been insightful to other members of the community. But Douglas (see link 3 above) raises a good point:

I am not at all surprised that many folks opposed to Kelly’s policies didn’t even entertain asking him questions. Why? Because I was never taught that if I simply ask a well-thought-out question, someone in a position of power will listen to me. Because collective action, chanting, and protest is many communities’ only hope of being heard in a society that is simply unwilling to acknowledge their voices. 

I don’t understand the logic that if those opposed to Kelly would just ask him questions, somehow some greater truth would be told. That is simply a privileged understanding of how politics and debate operates in our country.

And I agree with that wholeheartedly: our world is not equal and what Kelly is doing in NYC isn’t helping the situation. But I think it’s also important to keep in mind that Kelly was invited to speak at Brown University and that the Brown Bubble is different from the rest of the world because of the “liberal” environment.

Protestors achieved their goal of being heard today. But two questions arise from that:

  1. What does that voice project? Is it necessarily a positive, productive opinion?
  2. What about the voices of those who didn’t agree with the protest?

Because I don’t think that the “activism” demonstrated today was an accurate representation of all Brown students’ views on Kelly’s policies, nor was it a good way to express disapproval of certain viewpoints as it was a personal attack on an invited guest. Instead what was projected today was immature and very “stereotypically Brown-like.”

"Stereotypically Brown-like" as in:

  • Using words/phrases such as “heteronormative”; “check your privilege”; “misogynistic”
  • Liberal
  • Feminist
  • Politically correct

And I’d like to think I’m liberal and feminist (and I try to be PC?) at least at the national scale, but at Brown it seems like I’m shifted to the middle or even the right. I don’t feel the need to express my opinions on policies like Stop-and-Frisk as much as others, but that doesn’t mean I agree with them. But somehow I feel pressured to voice my opinions more, because that’s what a “true Brown student” would do—feel empowered by their college education and unique background to speak up about what they think is right or wrong.

Sometimes it feels like the most voiced opinions on this campus are the most liberal and the silenced voices are those who lie in the middle because we don’t feel strongly enough to speak up about what we believe. And today because of our silence and respect, we were denied the chance to hear Kelly speak, to understand his reasoning behind his decision to implement the policies, to educate ourselves.

Hearing him speak doesn’t mean agreeing with his policies, but denying his right to speak does mean closing the platform for the exchange of ideas and thought. And because of that, I truly question why we’re trying to hold on so dearly to our Brown stereotype of “liberal but close-minded.”

Philosophy 111
  • Our lives are paths.
  • The most probable path is “fate.”
  • The most probable path and the best (or worst) path are often not the same thing.
  • The probability distribution of these life paths could be continuous. But they can also look like a step function. We don’t really know.
  • Does the most probable path exist when no one is aware of its existence? Just as how a coin that has never been flipped before does not have a probability for heads/tails (based on the frequency interpretation). Just as how particles don’t have deterministic properties before we measure them?
  • Just as how the moon doesn’t exist when no one looks at it?
  • There are no realist interpretations that adequately explain the world for me and I’ve somehow come to accept that suddenly.

Is it just me or

On Classical Conditioning

Pavlov’s dogs is one of the most famous example of classical conditioning. Completed in the early nineteenth century, the experiment allowed Pavlov to understand conditioned responses through the canines’ digestive functions. Recently, I’ve found that Pavlov’s research has become quite relatable. There’s a problem with centipedes in the dorm I live in. My roommate and I have found three so far and we’ve become a fierce, cold-blooded team. She spots the critters, I kill them with Swiffers. She screams and I pick up the Swiffer. It’s practically routine. Much like how the dogs were conditioned to salivate whenever the bell rang, I get into exterminator mode when she shrieks.

DOES THIS MEAN I’M PAVLOV’S DOG NOW.

Sixteen Small Steps to Happiness

1. push yourself to get up before the rest of the world - start with 7am, then 6am, then 5:30am. go to the nearest hill with a big coat and a scarf and watch the sun rise.

2. push yourself to fall asleep earlier - start with 11pm, then 10pm, then 9pm. wake up in the morning feeling re-energized and comfortable.

3. erase processed food from your diet. start with no lollies, chips, biscuits, then erase pasta, rice, cereal, then bread. use the rule that if a child couldn’t identify what was in it, you don’t eat it.

4. get into the habit of cooking yourself a beautiful breakfast. fry tomatoes and mushrooms in real butter and garlic, fry an egg, slice up a fresh avocado and squirt way too much lemon on it. sit and eat it and do nothing else.

5. stretch. start by reaching for the sky as hard as you can, then trying to touch your toes. roll your head. stretch your fingers. stretch everything. 

6. buy a 1L water bottle. start with pushing yourself to drink the whole thing in a day, then try drinking it twice.

7. buy a beautiful diary and a beautiful black pen. write down everything you do, including dinner dates, appointments, assignments, coffees, what you need to do that day. no detail is too small. 

8. strip your bed of your sheets and empty your underwear draw into the washing machine. put a massive scoop of scented fabric softener in there and wash. make your bed in full.

9. organise your room. fold all your clothes (and bag what you don’t want), clean your mirror, your laptop, vacuum the floor. light a beautiful candle.

10. have a luxurious shower with your favourite music playing. wash your hair, scrub your body, brush your teeth. lather your whole body in moisturiser, get familiar with the part between your toes, your inner thighs, the back of your neck.

11. push yourself to go for a walk. take your headphones, go to the beach and walk. smile at strangers walking the other way and be surprised how many smile back. bring your dog and observe the dog’s behaviour. realise you can learn from your dog.

12. message old friends with personal jokes. reminisce. suggest a catch up soon, even if you don’t follow through. push yourself to follow through.

14. think long and hard about what interests you. crime? sex? boarding school? long-forgotten romance etiquette? find a book about it and read it. there is a book about literally everything. 

15. become the person you would ideally fall in love with. let cars merge into your lane when driving. pay double for parking tickets and leave a second one in the machine. stick your tongue out at babies. compliment people on their cute clothes. challenge yourself to not ridicule anyone for a whole day. then two. then a week. walk with a straight posture. look people in the eye. ask people about their story. talk to acquaintances so they become friends.

16. lie in the sunshine. daydream about the life you would lead if failure wasn’t a thing. open your eyes. take small steps to make it happen for you. 

(Source: emma-elsworthy, via colporteur)

Some Notes of Procrastination

Four Causes of Procrastination:

  1. Lack of drive.
  2. Lack of focus.
  3. Indecision.
  4. Anxiety and overwhelm.

Two Minute Rule:

  1. If a task can be completed within two minutes, don’t put it off—do it now.
  2. If a task cannot be completed within two minutes, don’t put it off—all tasks can be STARTED in two minutes and many times you’ll find that you can get through more than you think in those 120 seconds.

Unfortunately, I forgot where on the internet I read these things but I found a nifty note on it in my (overdue) library book. Identify and remove the causes. Always work towards completing tasks (especially if they take under two minutes).

Let’s Talk Majors (and get a little TMI)

Spurred by recent Tumblr posts and forced serious family friend conversations, I’ve been thinking again about *big life decisions* like career paths and concentrations. I don’t know what I want to do with my life still. If anything, I’m considering more things—maybe research, maybe stats, maybe business, maybe barista.

In my reflection though, I found that college has slapped me a few times hard with the fact that it’s easy to romanticize. I went into college thinking I was set on this glorious path to Traditional Chinese Medicine research—that I was going to become some culturally-fluent (due to my Anthro B.A., of course) pharmacist who doubles as an herbalist on weekends or something. I had friends who started out as neuro majors who ended up hating the intro neuro class and have dropped off the bandwagon.

It’s so easy to glorify something when you know so little about it. Maybe it’s a patronizing overgeneralization but a lot of people like me end up filling in the blank spaces with passionate-sounding prose:

“Doctors save those that are already drowning in the river but public health stops people from falling in in the first place. That’s why I want to study health policy and administration. I want to help the community heal itself before it gets sick, actively initiating programs instead of passively responding to emergencies.”

I know nothing about public health but it’s so so easy to delude myself into thinking that I do and that I like it (and I did exactly that for a couple of months). Simply spill a couple of lines that builds on the Wiki introduction to public health and voila—the ultimate solution to wanting to believe in the prose and the passion and make my life sound as pretty as heck. I couldn’t accept the fact that I was an above average student who didn’t know what she liked so I made things up and force-fed myself bullshit.

(A quick detour into TMI-land, but we’ll make it back for the conclusion…hopefully.) This summer I pooped a lot and that was probably the highlight of my summer. When I got back from Redding, CA at midnight, I weighed myself and I was 50kg (lol sorry fob scales). The next morning, I took a dump and I weighed myself again: I was 48kg. Feeling good about the poo I flushed away, I decided to make a trip down to my favorite coffee shop and after some damn good Guatemalan, I shit again. When I got home, I found that I was 46kg. I’m not sure what I did to make this little girl have such big poos.

Summer is a great time for cleansing and I felt that both literally and emotionally this year. Not only did I shed a lot of pounds that I gained from Ratty fries, but I also did away with the delusions about what I like and other baggage.

It feels good to recover my original size and take control of what I’m eating and when I’m exercising and it also feels good to know I’m finally accepting where I am and being honest with myself. If I learned anything this past year it’s that I know NOTHING and, for a long time, will continue to know NOTHING. And maybe it’s only now that I realize the freedom in that statement.

Summer Music

One of the wonderful moments of summer happens when you fall asleep to your favorite playlist. For me, it’s been this recently—a savvy collection of piano instrumentals ranging from cheerful to melancholy, Yiruma-like with a tinge of Vince Guaraldi. It makes me think of strawberry jam and chilled lemonade on those hot days right before it’s about to rain.

I wonder how close to rain season I am.

Yesterday I was listening to the opening track while my dad started cooking and my mom picked out the bowls and plates for dinner. It feels weird to leave again. Just when I’ve gotten comfortable (maybe too comfortable) I’ll have to go three months without sitting by the window and watch the sun slowly set.

Trying to focus on enjoying it while it “exists,” but I can’t help but remind myself that it’s all going to end.

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