The Point of Beauty in Ordinary Things

IMG_7399Pam closes the finale of The Office series reflecting “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that the point?” (Something tells me, that Pam in real-life would really really love Instagram…or IG should adopt her quote as its slogan) Perhaps, it was because I had watched the finale for the first time as I was transitioning from grad school life to a new job environment. Or maybe it was also the first time committing to an apartment lease with my name on it and also realizing that I have no choice but to stay employed now to pay the rent on a monthly basis. It felt familiar in some ways, but also new in so many other ways. The cushion of being near home, the cushion of being in school, the cushion of not making decisions about career…all seem to get further and further away at this point. Of course, my family, friends, and loved ones have been hugely supportive in this whole process…and in figuring out what needs to get done one thing after another – move to Boston ✓, find a job ✓, find a job that orients my career ✓, start learning again ✓  find a great roommate ✓, find a convenient apartment ✓, make it feel like home ✓,  survive the insane amounts of SNOW – ???still working on that one… and maybe I have re-discovered the remedy with the nails. I don’t know why it took being buried under 96 inches (I just realized that it is 8 FEET of snow)…and lots of complaining and rambling about moving from one cold city to another, and both happening to experience historically roughest winters. So I learned that it can get worse than the Polar Vortex. I have never seen so much debilitating snow in my life. I would pick wind over the snow. Maybe.

Anyways, I started going through my phone to find photos from the summer and remind me of its awesomeness and warmth. In doing so,  I noticed two things: one, I really haven’t decorated my nails in a long long time and two, I have a lot of pictures of food and drinks, particularly of people sipping on drinks. Literally everyone. I don’t know what motivated me to take those photos– that I like where they are drinking it, they look happy/cute/relaxed sipping their warm drink, they are enjoying the moment, they are happy…that I am with them to experience it. I am not sure why I found such a collection on my phone, but it struck me that I really have been reflecting about my time in Boston through the wrong lens. I have been treating my time here like a list of things to get done and to do…contemplating more about things, than enjoying them. (What other furniture  do I still need? Will the bus come on time today? What groceries do I have? Is it snowing..? Again?)  The classic trap. While I have been feeling bitter about the relentless winter, I have been forgetting the warmth of the memories bundled inside of this season and this new city that I call home. I had failed to appreciate them, and thus, felt uninspired to patiently sit still and paint my nails and reflect and write.

I want to recap my last few months since graduation and leaving Chicago by these memories. Somewhere between Chicago and Boston, I got a chance to go back to New Jersey for a couple of weeks and have tea with my parents every morning. On my birthday, I got to explore New Orleans with one of my best friends. We walked down Bourbon Street with Frozen Irish Coffee in our hands,  and on a cold, rainy day, we warmed up in Cafe Du Monde with chicory coffee and fresh beignets. I came to Boston directly from NOLA. Here in the fall, I walked around in Concord for the foliage and relax in a renovated carriage house from the 1870s to enjoy hot chocolate and hot apple cider for a mid-afternoon break. On a chilly November night, post-dinner at the North End, I roamed around Quincy with my college roommate/bestie and her beau with the most delicious Ghirardelli hot chocolate in our hands.  When my best friend from Philly came up to visit, we got a chance to catch up over Moroccan mint tea and hummus in Harvard Square.  (I have since gotten my own little kettle and box of mint tea to brew at home to wind down with after work.) Over Christmas, my parents and sister came up and we ventured out to Salem. Amidst the enchantment of the witch city, we all sat in a chic cafe and laughed over lattes and coffees. It was a wonderful afternoon. In between, there have been so many evenings and nights bonding with my lovely friends here. Whether its girls night with wine, catch up sessions in coffee shops, roommate dates checking out local bars/restaurants, dinner dates, they have all been such a core part of my experience in Boston. I don’t know why I have been so resistant in reflecting on them. (Maybe I have just been very lazy from all the food and drinks. Yikes.)

IMG_7398

So my nail design brings me back to the comfort of these memories. Dots are my go-to and after being out of practice for nail designs, these took a few tries to complete cleanly. I spent 2+ hours failing at doing anything, before deciding to go back to the basics. The color palette is of earthly tones–opposite of the current earthly tones outside are just white and gray.  {Base color is Essie’s “Case Study,” the rest are Zoya’s “Raven” (black) and “Purity” (white) and “Wednesday” (blue)}. I thought the blue would pop out more, but its subtlety works just as well.

So there is much that resonates with me with Pam’s words. The point of finding that beauty is what makes us happy. The point makes the ordinary seem extraordinary, even for a brief moment ❤

Liminal Shades of Gray

IMG_5890

Gray is such a liminal color because it highlights the unknown…you know when something isn’t black or white. I guess I am in a gray phase, trying to call it “fun-employed”  (but it’s really unemployed). It’s that stage between graduation and having a job. It’s a phase of reflection on what I have already and what I want to do and where I want to go from here. I find liminality challenging, yet liberating…being here nor there, but having the freedom to decide where to go….and back to my nail blog it is.

My hiatus is done. I should be updating more often. Hello, Fall!

On Stars & Stripes: Why It Matters!

20140701-112741-41261101.jpg Happy July everyone!  The World Cup rankings just seem like an arbitrary number at this point. And In light of current happenings with corporations being given the same status as people (see brilliant John Oliver’s take on Hobby Lobby), what better way to remind us what the human spirit and pride entails! We are a people, made of persons, made of spirit, made of souls, made of emotions.  Just a few days before USA’s Independence Day, our soccer team is in the knock out stages of the World Cup! (Who even expected this?!) Even as a huge German team supporter for the past decade, nothing can get in the way of national spirit. Our home team is giving us plenty of reasons to fangirl about! I think this has been the best World Cup I have seen to date–that the underdogs are emerging so strongly, garnering so much respect and attention. No single team has actually been super dominant in this stage of the tournament–the game result seem to be decided in the last half, over time or with penalty kicks!  It has been quite a thrill and heartbreak to watch at times. I am in awe at how evenly matched the teams seem to be in spite of their rankings. So considering the pattern of the games so far, I have high hopes for the American team. I think it would be supercalifragilisticexpaladociously wonderful if football/soccer gains momentum in its popularity as a sport (as even as  a religion). Aside from the Olympics, we have hardly shown team athleticism at an international stage that has received so much spirit, attention, and admiration. The last big international team sport I remember was the USA Men’s Basketball team at the London Olympics–but even then, I don’t think it received the patriotism that USMNT is evoking now. We have high-profile sport events domestically with the World Series, NBA Championship, and Super Bowl–but the country remains divided in picking their favorite local team to support. It feels like the first time in a long time we have a cohesive national spirit that is so united. And it is evoked by a POSITIVE feeling (not a tragedy or war) to bring the country together. I have always hoped for something like this happening when watching past World Cups, cricket matches, and even Prince William and Kate’s royal wedding a few years ago. We have a presence in the world stage, which is not motivated or decided by politics or capitalism. It is simply from the love of the game that has reached the hearts of us Americans.

One heart. One love. One team. Go Team USA!

(screw Hobby Lobby, we will worry about that after we win!)

PS: nail design colors used Zoya’s navy blue “Natty”, white “Purity,” red “Pepper” with Essie “Matte About You” top coat. The designs were free-hand on small short nails. I am quite pleased with its clean, simple look.

 

FIFA Fever!

20140620-153840-56320542.jpg

Nothing quite like being home in the summer with the droning of World Cup match commentary and loud cheers of enthusiastic fans resonating through the entire house all day long. Seated in front of the TV at all times would be at least my dad, my sister, or me and for the most part, all three of us oooohing and aaaaahing, cheering and jeering at the big goals, missed shots, , almost-making-it-into-the-net-but-hits-the-cross-bar shots, unexpected red cards and penalty kicks—the feeling of excitement (OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!) and frustration (HOW DID HE MISS THAT?!!) in the air is hard to miss with the edge of the seat conditions on our couches, literally. The the least loud matches are usually the most boring. It’s been this way for the last 10 years with the Euro Cup or World Cup—the most cherished summer memories every other year. As much as FIFA as an organization sucks (watch John Oliver’s brilliant explanation ), I am happy that the World Cup tournament exists.

By far, the World Cup is my favorite. There’s always something for everyone: the athleticism (Van Persie example), the diplomacy (what if all our world problems could be resolved on the field?! especially seeing world leaders in the stands!! ), the sportsmanship (or the lack of it, at times…hello, red card), the drama, the (sweaty jersey-sticking against surfboard abs) hot guys (and also the only reason for my regret of Spain’s early elimination, but hey Germany....), the hot guys’ wives and girlfriends (WAGs), and that little element of surprise when underdogs emerge as victors and give rise to new superstars. I enjoy recent World Cup teams getting eliminated just so a new country can be crowned as champions…and this is where I hope, wish, and want Germany to finally take it home after years of working towards it!!
I will save my dedication to the Germans for the next post and design inspiration. For now, I am just so happy World Cup is on!!

My design above features Brazilian colors, andu Jamberry nail lacquer, which I am trying for the first time. The yellow is Jamberry’s “Lemon Drop“, which was a little thinner than the polish that I am used to, but it applied very smooth and to my satisfaction 🙂 I layered it on top of Zoya’s matte green color, Mitzi, with blue lines (Zoya’s navy blue “Natty” and lighter blue “Rocky”) and white dots (Zoya’s white “Ivory”). It was all freehanded, and took a little over 30 minutes from start to finish. I topped it off Sally Hansen top coat. Quite happy with the results! Next time, Germany (MY FAVORITE TEAM OF ALL TIME)….I am just not sure when to do the nails…wait till they make it into the knock-out round or until they are in the championships! Maybe I will just do a series of all different designs!

Btw, below are my bracket predictions, and with the current France-Switzerland match on TV…I can sense changes in it already. But I could really care less, as long as Germany wins the championship!

FIFA 2014

FIFA 2014