Favorite Books of the month: January+past reads

Here’s the list of the books I have been consuming and mini reviews in no particular order.

Cyropaedia; The Education of Cyrus by Xenophon

One of my favorite books of 2019. If you are looking for a good leadership/management book then this is a must read. The teachings of Cyrus can be applied to any time period because they illuminate the universal knowledge that every human should embrace which is being kind to each other while maintaining enough discipline in oneself to lead others by example. It reminds us that we should not expect of other people what we would not do ourselves. By remembering to be generous to one’s friends and ruthless to one’s enemies, Cyrus has grown to be undefeated as an opponent; he acts as the ideal leader figure and does in fact, lead through example by embodying his own teachings and always being a couple steps ahead of his opponents. Fairness and justice are also emphasized in the Persian customs of the time as well as equality, all traits we often more than not fail to accomplish in modern society. The war strategy is a bonus, you know, in case WWIII comes up again.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Frankl is a genius and his humble attitude despite what he has accomplished and the hardships he has experienced is truly inspiring. If you ever feel like you’re going through a rough patch, reading about the Nazi concentration camps and what people had to survive will change your mindset. Despite being treated less than a human being, Frankl’s persistence and optimism brought tears to my eyes as I was reading this book; he has contributed so much to society even though it took everything away from him. That is the definition of a strong person. The first half of the book speaks of his personal experience in the concentration camp and the conditions are worse than you could ever expect. The second half goes into logotherapy and how it can help people overcome mental health challenges.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen R. Covey

In this book, Coven gives you the tools to become the best version of yourself you can be; it is broken down into 7 parts and is easily digestible due to the simple and concise writing style. He uses personal examples from his life to convey the message of the importance of having good character by not taking shortcuts and to instead change how you look at things. This is pretty much a guidebook to being a decent human being and I cannot recommend it enough as it is one of my favorite self help books.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Bronte writes in a way where it allows the reader to feel like he or she is the main character and is walking in Jane’s shoes as well as experiencing things as her. This book is a nice escape from reality for a while and the compelling storyline could replace reality television(a positive since you won’t be losing brain cells). It is deeper than that, of course, since Bronte’s literary style is way ahead of her time and her way of thinking far exceeds that of her fellow writers of that time period. She is the perfect example of feminism done the right way, but I won’t give too much away.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

I fucking love this man. He knows what’s up, and dare I say he’s #woke…in today’s society we are too consumed with what we own and want to have that we often forget the truly important things in life. Walden reminds us that we are all the same underneath the masquerading, dress up games and roles we play in our communities everyday.

The Enneagram by Jeef Reed

I recommend this book if you are looking to figure yourself and other people out. Learning about oneself will help facilitate empathy and by understanding yourself you also learn how to understand other people’s behaviors since it is impossible to know someone else when you don’t even know yourself.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

This book taught me that without struggle and challenges, people will ultimately become weak and lose their ambition. The lack of need in the future has caused a backwards effect on human societies and have made people less intelligent and has halted creativity since necessity fosters innovation. Lack of want/need has caused evolution to create a being that lacks the grit and sharp mindedness that is associated with humans. Definitely worth a read.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

This will always be my favorite book of all time because of the message that it teaches. Rand calls out the individuals in a society that only talk about the greater good of citizens without actually contributing anything tangible to the cause. Although the author is known for her stance on supporting selfishness, the idea that one should focus on his or her own achievements and well-being is commendable. You can’t pour from an empty cup and this is emphasized through the two types of people in this book.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

This is a tribute to Trevor Noah’s mom and it was hilarious. If you love a good laugh as well as life lessons then this is the book for you. Noah speaks of his childhood and dealing with apartheid–which usually is not a humorous topic–but somehow he manages to lighten up the mood by offering us a view into his mind.

Why Nation’s Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

This book might be the key to decreasing the inequality in regards to the standard of living between first world countries and developing nations. Education is the first step in solving the wealth disparity issue that the world is currently facing and the main solution is changing the way people handle politics in their country.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Fun and easy read but warning you will not want to put it down. If you like greek and roman mythology then this book is the one. It revolves around the life of Circe and puts into perspective the role of strong women in a culture that always tries to trample an outspoken and independent female.

De Anima by Aristotle

So this book is just Aristotle trying to figure out what the human soul is all about. Most often it sounds like he is attempting to explain the concept to himself as he is writing but it is worth a read if you are curious about the soul. Tbh I just want you to read this so you can explain it to me, thanks lol.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I lost a lot of sleep because of this book. It is a story that spans across multiple generations of a family and left a deep impression on me. I won’t ruin the plot for you.

How to Day Trade for a Living by Andrew Aziz

I honestly did not know any trading terms when I first got introduced to stocks so this book saved me. It is pretty informative even if you are not planning on quitting your job and becoming a day trader.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

My opinion will probably be so controversial but I did not find this book to be as good as other people have said it to be. I have gotten into a couple arguments because I said the book was overhyped but it is basically just a timeline of the evolution of homo sapiens, nothing special in my opinion. I put it on this list because of the argument that my friends have made against this, people have claimed that this is one of the most influential books they have ever read do you should read it and judge for yourself.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

I mean, it’s Mark Cubans favorite book for a reason. The book altered the way I look at architecture and the buildings I see everyday, it conveys the message to break away from the crowd and tradition because that is the only way to advance and improve the world. Inspirational.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Just fucking read it and stop giving fucks about irrelevant stuff so you have enough fucks leftover for the important things. IDGAF vibes.

Singapore

TEA’SER: possibly the cleanest and MOst Arsty asian country I’ve ever been to + TEA’d at Queen Elizabeth’s SPOT

I honestly don’t even need to use words to show you how stunning this place is, I can just post pictures and it will probably be all the more convincing. Someone once said, a picture is worth a thousand words so that is exactly how I am going to start this post off!

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Wow! 10,000 words…this is my longest post yet.

Jokes aside, let’s get to it! I had the opportunity to visit Singapore last summer for about 4 days(which was an ample amount of time) and it was the most unique experience I have ever had in an Asian country. I think it is one of the cleanest places I have ever seen and will ever see; that being said, a lot of my friends who have been have mentioned that it was a bit too “sterile” for their tastes. I agree it was rather a bit too clean but the pros definitely outweigh the cons on this one(if clean can even be considered a con lol). The public transportation was amazing and as a woman who travels alone quite often, I have never felt safer. In fact, I met a couple other solo female travelers when I was here and we were able to give each other travel tips which was awesome! I noticed a larger population of women traveling alone here than anywhere else I have been which prompts me to say that if you are just starting out and are afraid of going to a foreign country alone, Singapore may the gateway country for you.

My favorite takeaway from this trip was the tea ceremony I got to experience, I highly recommend it if anyone is planning on visiting Singapore. I learned how to properly pour and enjoy tea. Albeit very traditional and old school, it is a good skill to have under your belt to impress people with! Who knows? Maybe one day you might be having tea with the Queen and will be able to show off your tea pouring skills and win some points. The place is called Tea Chapter and they make killer tea eggs, trust me you HAVE to try them. The oolong jelly is also to die for and is a good accompaniment to the bomb tea. You can enjoy your tea and snacks in a traditional tea room and relax in the same room that the queen had her tea in! Yes, they even serve the same exact tea she orders when she visits. Who knows good tea better than the Queen of England?

Another thing I recommend checking out is Gardens by the Bay. It is honestly so so so beautiful. The entire area is like a museum except it’s public and outdoors and just casually part of the architecture. This entire country is art. There are three different areas to check out when you are here, one of which includes the most magnificent flower exhibit you will ever come across in your life. It even smells like flowers in there! Details people, details.

Now, mostly every big city has a Chinatown but the one in Singapore has these food markets which are called “hawker” centers where you can get yummy and cheap food. Another exclusive attraction that you can only find in Singapore is Little India. It honestly feels like you are in India when you are here, and the Indian food is so authentic and delicious too. I tried a vegetarian spot called Komala Vilas and if the tasty food wasn’t enough, the kind people add to it by providing such a welcoming vibe. Tip: try their mango lassi

Lastly, if you are a fan of shopping, Orchard Road is the place for you! I stayed close to this area and took the hotel shuttle to the subway station and it was super easy to get around. The hotel I stayed at was called the Shangri-La and I cannot recommend this place enough! They were so helpful/nice and even helped me convert money(what hotel does that?).

Happy travels!

NYC New Years Eve Ball Drop!!!

I started off 2020 in Time’s Square wearing a diaper and it was INSANE

I have memories from when I was little and would watch the New Years Eve ball drop in Times Square on TV with my family wishing I could one day attend and be part of the enthused and overly energetic crowd. Looking back at it after being in their shoes this year, I have no effing clue how the people on the screens looked so joyful because I know for a fact that they had been standing in the cold for over 12 hours without access to a bathroom or food/water. However the 30 second reward might be worth waiting patiently (and at times painfully) for in the New York winter. Plus the fact that over a million people come from all over the world every year to gather in one place and celebrate this act of ball lowering is both baffling and extraordinary and I am so grateful I was able to be part of it. Humans are so adorable sometimes(when we aren’t destroying the planet)!

Despite the “slight” inconveniences one has to endure in order to secure a prime spot in the crowd, I think it is worth experiencing the NYE ball drop at least once in your life and I will recall my own experience in case anyone is crazy enough to try it in the near future. To be completely transparent, my patience wore thin about 2 hours into waiting and I debated going home where it was warm and there was access to a bathroom but luckily the vodka that I snuck in kept me rallying(also your girl could not get past the crowds and was stuck so that was a significant factor as well). Complaints aside I have a couple tips and tricks to make the wait more bearable and to score a good spot where you can be up close and personal with the famous Times Square disco ball. I am happy that I stuck it out because boy oh boy did my patience improve after this; if you’re looking to work on your patience…ball drop 2021. You heard it here first.

There are couple things that come to mind now that I am writing this and one of these things is that when I first arrived in midtown, I realized that the police had blocked off most of the streets and since I am directionally challenged I had no idea how to get to the viewing area. I noticed that you could still get through if you can provide documentation of why you belong in a certain area–whether it be a restaurant reservation, if you were staying in a hotel close by, worked in the area or lived on a certain street–as long as you have physical evidence. This was the only way you could get past the barricades and the flock of police officers on every single street from 38th-59th(I believe, I could be wrong). They really do check to see if every person who was allowed past the barricades has proof that they belonged there, trust me I devised a plan to sneak in with a group of people but failed. Secondly, it was so crowded that if you were planning on meeting up with friends, you would not be able to find them. It’s a good idea to meet further away and to go into the frontlines of the battle together instead of meeting up in Times Square. The entrance areas are on 7th/8th avenue and a couple streets(39th, 42nd, 48th and 52nd) at the time which change as the spots fill up so be sure to ask a police officer when you arrive where you can enter without needing to provide documentation.

TIP: Of course, if you do not feel like waiting for over 10 hours in the cold and don’t like crowds, you could always rent a hotel room with a view(which will cost you upwards of $1000 for the night of the 31st) or make a reservation at restaurant that has a view or access to a viewing area(according to the dude in front of me, it will cost around 300-400 per person for a mediocre place). In my opinion, if you have a larger group I would totally do the hotel thing and turn it into a NYE ball viewing party! The ball is at One Times Square, which is on 42nd street and 7th Avenue and so the areas where you can see it most clearly are between 39th and 52nd. Anything behind 42nd is the back of the building and you won’t be able to see the concert and the count down screen but you have the opportunity to be closer to the ball itself. I learned this the hard way LOL but it’s fine, everything is fine. As you can already guess I entered on the wrong side and was on 39th but since my only goal was to see the actual ball itself and not the concert, I was content settling in at the back of the stage. Plus I came two hours later(2 pm) than I had planned and all the good areas in front of the stage were filled anyway. I think if I were to redo this, I would arrive at 11 am in my diaper(make fun all you want but a couple people near me lost their spots because they had to go to the bathroom around 8 pm, imagine waiting all that time for nothing!) and have snacks ready. I would also try to enter on the correct side LOL.

This was the line to get into the viewing area on 7th Avenue. It was as long as the entire street!

They started the sporadic fireworks and raised the ball at 6 pm.

There she is!

I got to sit on the metal barricade thing so that was a perk of getting there early, although my butt hurt the entire week after.

Berkeley, CA

My Experience at UC Berkeley: Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

BONUS: WHERE I GO TO CRY ON CAMPUS

Campanile aka building that let’s me know I am late everyday

Imagine being surrounded by a bunch people who are significantly smarter and more talented than you(possibly better looking and funnier as well lol). This was my college experience. I was the dumbest kid in the room…every single room on campus. Even the bathroom. I’ve heard many people claim that UC Berkeley students are “the cream of the crop” but I didn’t feel like the cream of anything. In fact, I’m lactose intolerant(and oat milk wasn’t a thing back then) so as you can already guess life was hard; every midterm wrecked havoc on my digestive system(figuratively and literally). I’d be shitting myself if I didn’t admit that I felt like absolute crap whenever grades were posted. Apologies for the poop puns, you get the gist; I didn’t feel like I belonged because I never considered myself exceptionally smart or gifted.

My classmates were intelligent in all aspects–whether it be emotionally or academically and I was the kid that asked the stupid questions(yes, there is such a thing) and came in late and sat in the back eating snacks because I was too busy cramming to eat a proper meal. Don’t even get me started about my professors…these extraordinary humans literally created waves and are still influencing the world as we know it. Everybody I knew had the potential to positively change the world and here I was, making bathroom jokes. How the F*** did I manage to get a seat in the same room as them?

To this day, I still ask myself that question…I don’t know how I managed to get into UCB but I am extremely grateful to have received the opportunity to be surrounded by and to learn from such incredible people and even call some of them my friends. I would not be who I am today and would not have learned how to think so critically and deeply had it not been for my experience at Cal. I am not going to lie, it was academically challenging for me and I had to work my ass off in order to keep up. I slept 4 hours a day on average and looked like a “stoned zombie”(according to friends who saw me on campus) lugging around my fat backpack full of textbooks and almonds for the campus squirrels. It was not a good look. As a matter of fact, I considered dropping out every time midterm season came up but I decided to tough it out(not without lots of bitchin’ of course because who doesn’t know that it’s the best form of stress relief).

How did I manage to graduate? I had to learn how to learn. Sounds confusing, I know. I think the most important thing I got out of college is the ability to learn quickly and to fully entertain an idea without completely submitting to the terms of that idea. What this means is I realized that understanding something and agreeing with it while attempting to apply it to real life are two different things and I had to juggle this everyday both in and out of classes. As many of you are aware, Berkeley is the protesting mecca of the country; the liberal way of thinking combined with endless ambition creates a setting for people to really fight for what they believe in. Like literally fight, I kid you not. Sometimes these beliefs are right and sometimes they are so wrong. I had to learn how to distance myself from the group think mentality and to think for myself by formulating my own opinions. It’s harder than it sounds. Most of the time, we just agree with what the majority believes in because it is easy and requires less effort/thought on our part; it is also a way to easily avoid responsibility for what occurs in our society. News flash, YOU ARE SOCIETY. You can’t blame society for your problems because you are a part of it and learning how to think is crucial in order to save this world from literally burning down.

Anyway, in my opinion college is not a mandatory component in becoming successful in life or making a difference in the lives of others; although I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn from such a great institution and to have that experience, I do not think it is necessary unless you want to pursue a specific path. So don’t feel bad if you did not have the luxury of going to university, the only thing you might’ve missed out on are the networking opportunities but those can be found anywhere if you seek them out, really. Don’t sweat it.

Side note: Aside from struggling to pass my courses, sorta maintaining a social life and always feeling out of place, I managed to find time to explore the area and have a couple recommendations for people who might be in town or are planning on going to Berkeley. So feel free to scroll down for that.

Berkeley is definitely not a party school but it does have a college town vibe and bomb food. Cheeseboard pizza makes up for whatever the school lacks in terms of frat parties and school spirit. FUN FACT: When I was deciding between UCLA and CAL, Cheeseboard was the determining factor LOL I chose Berkeley because of how good the pizza is. Yes, she’s a smart cookie.

HIKING!!!

There are ample hiking spots in Berkeley. If you are looking for a good sweat, the Big C, Grizzly Peak and the fire trails(my go to date spot at the time lol nothing like holding hands when you’re sweaty) are the best spots.

EATING!!!

Cheeseboard and Sliver are my most fave pizza spots in all of California. If you get the chance to visit, please do not skip Cheeseboard. They have a different topping everyday and my favorite is the corn mmmm 🙂 Also try the sauce!

CAMPUS!!!

  1. Doe Library aka my crying spot! It is the most aesthetic library on campus in my opinion and I exclusively studied here because I liked the ambiance LOL.
  2. Campanile: The most recognizable spot on campus. You can go up and get a view of the entire campus/surrounding city.
  3. Frat row: What? the houses are really nice and there is a cute cafe across the street. You are also super close to Artichoke’s Pizza and Little Italy??? not sure what the name is since it’s been a long time but theres a spot with cheap and delicious food on this street.
  4. Science and engineering wing: It’s like a mini hike to get there and bonus you get to see the nerdy engineers in their natural habitat(LOL much love to my nerdy comp sci friends).

Go Bears!

7 life lessons snowboarding has taught me

Swiss Alps

Before I started snowboarding, I had always admired the people with their boards on the slopes because they looked extremely cool and gnarly(whatever that means)…let’s be honest snowboarding is the most badass looking winter sport out there.

Here’s the full story regarding how I got started: I had injured my leg while skiing one day and was soon traumatized thereafter. As dumb as this sounds, my downfall went something like this…I did the splits on my skis and heard a crack(and it was goodbye and farewell to my right knee). I literally took an arrow in the knee. During the next 6 months, I was limping and had a tough time getting myself to go back on the slopes so I decided to try something different. Since both of your legs are bound to the board while you are snowboarding, the probability of getting a leg injury was much lower and this appeased my fears for the time being. My first time going was with a friend who was also a skier and so we both were complete beginners and had a blast laughing at each other mess up. After strapping in and going out for my first ride, I can confirm that it is harder than looks; which is a good thing in my opinion because once you get the hang of it you feel a sense of accomplishment. Snowboarding was so much more fun for me even though I was falling on my butt quite often. I did not expect to love it so much more than skiing and to learn so many things that are applicable to everyday life from it.

Lesson 1: Always look in the direction that you want to go and keep your head up.

  • In order to get anywhere in life, you need to know what you want; you have to be able to see and visualize a goal in order to reach it. When you want to steer your board left or right, you look in the direction that you are trying to go and you face your shoulders that way. Making the real life connection, knowing what your goals are and how to reach them before executing is crucial; another thing to keep in mind is to always keep your head up–both figuratively and literally. If you look down, that’s where you’re going. It’s that simple. Look straight ahead with confidence and scan your surroundings and you won’t fall or run into a tree!

Lesson 2: It is okay to fall as long as you get back up.

  • When I first started I was terrified of people seeing me fall and I would be so embarrassed every single time I would fall on my face trying to get off the ski lift with one foot strapped onto my board. Then I soon realized, no one fucking cares. They are too occupied not looking foolish themselves to care if you look stupid or not. My advice to people who are just starting to learn how to snowboard is to get your first tumble out of the way, you’ll realize that it’s not that bad and then enjoy yourself a lot more than if you were busy being anxious about looking silly or getting hurt. I was very fortunate to have trained in Karate and TKD my entire life and so I learned how to fall without seriously injuring myself but I will go over some pointers on how to fall on your face safely. I am expert in this topic. These skills have kept me from injuring myself when I fall(which is pretty often, trust me).
  1. Do not try to catch your fall with your hands or you’ll end up breaking your wrist or hurting your hand.
  2. Usually when you are on your toe edge, you’ll end up falling forward so try to land on your knees and not your face. I learned this the hard way and almost broke my nose.
  3. Brace for impact by rolling if you are going at a fast speed and end up losing your balance(saved me from breaking my neck but I got whiplash LOL).
  4. Let go. Just fall on your butt, it won’t hurt as much as you trying to catch the fall with another body part. Worst case is you break your tailbone but highly unlikely if you’re wearing snow pants(padding) and are not boarding in icy terrain.

Lesson 3: Growing pains are a real thing. Embrace the pain. It means that you are improving.

  • Feeling pain is a good thing in some instances. It means that your body is developing into a stronger version of itself. I always feel sore after a good powder sesh and this can last up to a week. In life, you will be hurt and you will feel pain no matter how much you try to avoid it; just know that it is a crucial component of learning. Some things are worth feeling pain for and sacrificing comfort to attain. #DEEP

Lesson 4: Work with what you have and try not to focus on what’s missing.

  • When you are on a snowboard, you have limited mobility because both of your feet are strapped onto the board and you need to be able to get used to this unnatural sensation and utilize this “handicap” to your advantage. Instead of facing forward and having separate control of both legs–like you would on skis–you are going sideways strapped to a piece of wood. This is not a position that humans are supposed to be in in nature. And as intimidating as this sounds, it introduces a foreign task for your brain to process which increases spatial, if not overall intelligence. In the real world you will sometimes be dealt with the shorter end of the stick and sometimes situations will not be ideal and you need to work with what you have to overcome obstacles. Instead of thinking about how tough it is to maneuver with both legs strapped to a board, learn to take advantage of having only one thing to control and focus on which is the board itself. You learn to change your way of thinking and move away from what is comfortable and tackle the problem constructively by being creative and through trial and error.

Lesson 5: Concentrate on the current task because it could mean the difference between life or death.

  • The reason why snowboarding is so therapeutic for me is because it is the only things I can focus on when I am doing it. If my mind were to wander to other things and I got distracted by what I am going to have for lunch that day then I could potentially get injured or even die. One hundred percent of my attention is required to stay alive. Engaging in activities where it is dangerous to lose focus really helps improve your focus. Yeah, call me captain obvious but if you’re snoozing while boarding you will be in a coma snoozing for a looong time after hitting a tree or a skier. Snooze you lose.

Lesson 6: Be fearless and chill the f*** out.

  • As the joker once said, ” why so serious?”. The more comfortable and relaxed you are , the better you will be at snowboarding. Have you noticed the riders who look like pros always seem so relaxed and nonchalant? This is because they are the honey badgers of the slopes. Honey badger don’t care, honey badger don’t give a shit(before you call me crazy please watch the youtube video on the honey badger). The honey badger is a badass because it doesn’t give a fuck, it does whatever it wants and gets away with it because it is calm cool and collected.

Lesson 7 : Have fun.

  • Grab a beer and let loose because life only happens once and it really isn’t that serious. We are just advanced primates on a floating rock circling around a ball of fire. Snowboarding is a sport and sports are fun. It shouldn’t feel serious. The same can be said about being alive. What you put into it is what you get out of it so just have fun with it and stop beating yourself up for messing up. You’re here to learn, enjoy life and “apres ski”(whatever that is as well).

I wish I could add a video of me falling on my face here for y’all but I don’t know how so cheers to falling on our faces and living life to the fullest!