Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my blog.

01 Jul '18  — subversive privilege

Watched Blue Jasmine for the second time and got a different take.

I was surprised how women are still allowed to play dumb. In the movie, friends gossip about Jasmine saying she must have known her husband was involved in shady dealings. I believed it was possible that she might have known but I was more convinced she was a silly woman who conveniently looked the other way.

Later in the movie, it is revealed that Jasmine is instrumental in swindling clients, like her sister’s husband. She not only knew, she assisted.

Blue Jasmine

As a woman, I bought into her ‘I’m just a silly lady who likes to decorate’. Many of us women like to decorate but at the same time, we’re capable of grand schemes.

If a woman like me took Jasmine to be ‘silly’, I’m sure many others, both men and women, did as well. If women are benefiting by playing dumb, I can see why it’s difficult for us to be taken seriously. We can’t have it both ways, get away with playing dumb while be seen as people capable of responsibility.

No one ever questions if it’s a fair trade. ‘Playing dumb’ is still used today. It’s still effective and there are plenty who value it.

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30 Jun '18  — urges

Once a month, I entertain the idea of having kids. These moments coincide with my fertile window–I’ve been keeping track. I’m startled by how consistent it is every month, so much so, I’m seeing most of my thoughts as hormone driven.

On another day of the cycle, I’ll rearrange something: furniture in the living room, my desktop, or appliances in the kitchen. Something must undergo an overhaul. Like clockwork, these moments happen at the same time each month.

There is also a day where I make to-do lists. Today is a to-do list day.

As empowering as it is to come up with a to-do list and get a lot done, I soon realize it’s just my hormones. I’ll feel good about myself at the start of the day. ‘Oh I’m taking the initiative to improve myself…getting so much done! I should do more of this.’ Later in the day I’ll figure it out. ‘Oh, it’s just that time of the month.’ Just part of the drill, a time where I feel driven or when my will is strongest.

List making comes from an urge to prepare. ‘I’m going to need extra resources…’ I may not think I’ll have a family but the drive to procure resources (make more money, start a business) shows up.

Both boys and girls share the same urge to plan for the future–to get ahead of everyone else, to be significantly successful.

There’s much awareness about women’s desire for children and how much it’s driven by hormones, but there’s less awareness on how ambition and drive could also be driven by the same survival mechanisms.

While women’s urge to reproduce is often criticized, the urge to be ambitious, to conquer–is celebrated. Ambition is a symbol of how we humans can overcome and choose how we live, how we’re different than animals who are hostage to circumstances (hormones).

Work harder, build your future, start today, get things done. That drive provides a high that is intoxicating. I remember listening to inspirational speakers because they gave me that high–without requiring me to do any work.

But that high is just one of the many volatile emotions I go through in a month. Perhaps because I’m a woman, I’m able to observe intense drive as just another feeling, like the deep sadness I feel during PMS.

My drive to work hard, achieve more than others comes from the same drive to I have to reproduce. They’re spawned from animalistic me who wants to survive, procure resources.

Because of that, I don’t believe my drive to accomplish has anything to do with will, reason or choice.

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28 Jun '18  — not trying to be a snob

Last weekend I had a chance to visit Ballard for the first time. It’s one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Seattle. I browsed a cute apothecary, ate at an upscale Mexican restaurant, and had ice cream at a hipster ice cream parlour. I spent some time walking around, saw a bunch of cute cafes and a pizzeria.

Trendy, cute, hipstery…it was exciting to see in the first five minutes, however, after a sampling of the shops, the place got old. I was happy to confirm that I’m not missing out living in the suburbs.

After living in New York and London, it feels strange when visiting chic parts of a less global city. ‘That’s cute…’ The attempts to be trendy in the same exact way always fall short. Coffee shops and restaurants copy styles inspired by shops in global cities, but there’s always a quality of ‘copying’. I felt it in Austin, TX and in Poznan, Poland. The same style of cafes and restaurants are being exported everywhere. They all look as if derived from the same Instagrammy inspiration, not created from scratch or with any local flavor.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a long motorcycle ride that led us to Yakima, Washington. It’s a run down town with a lot of abandoned lots and men drinking on the sidewalks in front of closed storefronts. The place doesn’t emulate in any way. There’s no feeling that there’s any attempt to, which was completely new.

yakima the city of Yakima is surrounded by hills like these

The peculiarity of such a place makes me want to visit again. There were far more Mexican restaurants, the signs for banks and shops were all in Spanish. The Mexican restaurant I ate at MADE THEIR OWN tortillas. When we visited the Shell gas station, there was a sign inside the shop window: ‘Gone to church. Sorry.’

There are plenty of towns that don’t wish to be anyone else. No one talks about them.

Ballard, however, is talked about. During my visit, I was brought back to my twenties, the days when I was enthralled by trendy places. Back then, I loved grabbing drinks while basking in ‘hipness’. It’s strange to see something so exciting become rather boring.

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27 Jun '18  — random mix

sf houses

I.

Most mornings I wake up thinking ‘I should go for a jog’ and then I lay a bit more and feel bad that I don’t get much exercise. When I finally get up to go to the bathroom, I always follow by going to the kitchen to make tea.

Once I have the first sip, the idea of exercise become infeasible. ‘It’s not good to have hot liquids slosh inside the stomach.’ I believe it’ll hurt me more than do me any good.

There’s always a part of me that believes I should be doing something ‘better’ but then I end up just doing things I normally do, like drinking hot tea.

Maybe one day, I’ll naturally believe it’s a good idea to workout. For now, the idea of working out brings upon the first dose of self loathing each day.

II.

“Three months–they would buy 100 sheets of paper and one rubbish can. And they will put on the table. Every day at the same time they will sit on the chair and write good ideas. The one that they like they put on the left side of the table and the one that they don’t like they put in the rubbish. And for three months like this.”

“And after three months, they all want to present good ideas. I told them ‘I’m not interested in good ideas.’ “

“I took rubbish can and we look into rubbish can. And every single idea was incredible.” - Marina Abramović

III.

I’ve been listening to Francisco Tárrega’s guitar music on repeat. My favorite is Capricho Arabe.

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26 Jun '18  — homemade fast food

veggie tacos

Today’s lunch was made from peppers, onions and mushrooms I found laying around.

One of my favorite home meals is making an egg tortilla and filling it with veggies. The egg is prepared like a fried egg but instead of flipping it over, a tortilla is placed on top so the egg fuses with the tortilla. Then the entire tortilla is flipped.

Once the tortilla egg is on its back, I place a slice of American cheese. It melts quickly when sautéed veggies are placed on top.

My mom used to make these egg tortillas all the time. It’s one of my favorite recipes because it’s quick and delicious.

tacos

food

26 Jun '18  — maybe the last time

trees

My friend was visiting this weekend so my husband and I took him to Wallace Falls.

I thought it’d be an impressive hike because it has both water and woods. Wandering through the forests, the sound of water was present from the falls and the creek.

“In Chile, we’ve got a lot of these.”

He wasn’t impressed by the falls as much as the trees. I’ve grown tired of the falls–it’s no longer as impressive as it used to be.

In Washington, there are plenty of trails without many people. When hiking, you’d rather see people once in a while. On this hike, however, we were around the same groups, they’d pass us or we’d pass them every ten minutes. It was not the experience you want when hiking.

At the top of the falls, we took another trail to Wallace Lake, a lake on top of the mountains. No other hikers were on this trail. On the way there, my husband spotted the poop of a carnivorous animal and I started getting scared thinking there was a cougar or bear observing us through the trees.

what fear looks like: this is the part of the hike I started getting scared–tried so hard not to be but I couldn’t help it

Luckily, we didn’t get attacked and made it to the lake. We had a picnic next to the water. I was excited because I visited this lake in the winter and there was too much snow at the time to explore. I hadn’t visited since.

Although the view was amazing, once the sun came through the clouds, a ton of mosquitoes came out. I don’t think the lake water gets much movement.

wallace lake washington

It is unlikely we’ll visit anytime soon due to the number of people. There’s a limit to the parking. If we do come, we’ll take the railroad grade up the Greg Ball trail to the top and hike over to Jay Lake, the smaller lake adjacent to Wallace Lake.

Photos by José Albornoz.

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25 Jun '18  — reality in a dream

This weekend I had a strange dream.

I was at a table full of people and across was a guy I couldn’t recognize. He had dyed hair cut to look like David Bowie. The people around him acted if he were famous. I went along and acted so, but I had no idea who he was.

‘He’s definitely not David Bowie… but maybe?’

I didn’t want to look stupid so I talked to the group as if he were David Bowie.

Later, I found out he was Jared Leto. David Bowie had died over a year ago. I felt foolish for mistaking the two.

The following half of the dream was all about explaining myself, not only people at the table but also people who weren’t witness to my mistake.

It was so natural. By describing how silly I was and going beyond so that even more people knew–I was laughing it off. It was how I coped with embarrassment but there was really no need to explain at all. No one would have cared.

There are times on this blog where I’ve felt compelled to relive an embarrassing situation. It’s not that I’m sharing a story, it’s more that I’m still in the process of getting over it.

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21 Jun '18  — the personality of a natural space

Discovery Park Seattle

What’s the difference between a city park and a regular park?

The proportion of people working out.

In the suburbs, there’s people who also work out at parks, but there’s a larger proportion of people chilling, doing absolutely nothing.

I went to Discovery Park today. It’s a huge park in Seattle and it has a forest and several beaches. The park is actually located in the city and in rush hour traffic, a ten minute drive to hip restaurants.

Stepping into the park, the trails are similar to many trails I’ve been on. But instead of running into fellow hikers connecting with nature, I ran into joggers. On my way to the beach, I saw a woman on the other side of the field working out with weights. She looked as if she were filming a work out video, perfect form, matching top and bottom, muscular with perfectly brushed hair (and makeup).

The feeling of being in a ‘work out’ park felt so different. Unlike trails with similar terrain, people on the narrow trails did not say hi. It was just another workout. The forest and beaches, although insanely beautiful, felt less special.

It seems my enjoyment of a place is highly dependent on the attitudes of the people I meet. Not that I was entirely affected–I did enjoy my visit. But I’d rather return to the parks where there’s less people working out, less people trying to do something with their lives.

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19 Jun '18  — an unexpected benefit

brioche filling habanero & marionberry jam

In the past few months, I’ve spent more time baking with instant yeast. When I first started baking with sourdough, I decided I wasn’t going to make anything with instant yeast. But for months, I’ve wanted to make viennoiserie and I hadn’t come across methods that didn’t use instant yeast. So many recipes call for a mixture of both sourdough and instant yeast, a mixture called poolish which isn’t really levain or sourdough starter.

I’m so confused because there’s too much contradicting advice online. You’d think bread making is established knowledge.

I still believe every pastry/bread could be made from all natural sourdough starter. But I don’t know where I can find that info.

The brioche I’ve been making takes ten hours at minimum. I usually prepare the dough and leave the final rise for overnight.

how I make my brioche

I don’t think I’d ever try this ‘instant yeast’ recipe if I hadn’t learned how to bake sourdough. Baking sourdough requires 3-4 days of advance preparation, feeding and re-feeding the yeast. An entire day is used to turn the dough so 10 hours to bake brioche is easy.

I’m not really a patient person so spending 10 hours on one recipe is an extraordinary feat.

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13 Jun '18  — a house favorite

Since my husband and I were away for several weeks, we hadn’t had our homemade food in a while. I was excited to cook and have some of the meals we regularly prepare at home. Yesterday’s lunch was tagliatelle with a reduced cream and white wine sauce.

bon voy-HOME

I’ve made pasta before but I came across new instructions from other cooking websites. While thinning the pasta dough, I let the dough rest one to two minutes in between changing levels on the pasta maker. Then it took several hours to completely dry. Normally I cook the pasta right after I cut it but I’m glad I tried these new steps–it tasted way better with drying involved. Pasta is technically slow food but I’d never thought of it that way.

pasta making

Physically, I felt so much better eating my own food. Traveling is somehow becoming less and less enticing each day.

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