Sunday, 25 November 2012

Weekend Updatez

Oh my God I'm gaining so much weight it's ridiculous.
I can feel the love handles developing.
What is earth.


But honestly, that is quite literally very, very, very me. I've been doing Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 weightlifting program (except with dumbbells because the AC gym doesn't even have barbells what is life) and I've been doing essentially a *dirty bulk*. And it really pisses me off because even though I'm getting stronger, I'm also gaining a ton of fat.

It sucks when you feel uncomfortable in your body every single day.

Anyway, on Saturday night, I went to Llantwit with Leila (again). I bought 2 rump steaks (totalling 566 grams), 5 slices of bacon, and 5 pork chops (for 3.99! Not bad, eh?)

Then I made dinner with Leila. That consisted of 1 rump steak and 1 pork chop with a little bit of rice.

And then we went to the pub and I felt fat.

Anyway, it really sucks feeling uncomfortable in my own body. And that's why I'm going on a diet.

No carbs -- no fruit, no bread, no chocolate, no cookies, no nothing. There's one more month until Christmas, so I'm going to do it right this time.

I'm alive... I promise!

So I haven't posted in about two weeks now. Then again, it's not like anybody really follows this blog anymore anyway so I'm okay with that.

I'm thinking about starting this activity (but I still have to talk to Alan Jenkins, the activities dude, about it) where you cook food and all this stuff and you learn about global cuisine and it would be so much fun. Every Monday, a student talks about food in his/her culture for 30-45 minutes. Then, we prepare a typical dinner that is eaten in that country. The activity would have a maximum of about 5 students (not including me and Clement, the *leaders* of this activity) because otherwise there would be too many people. I hope it'll be a lot of fun and that we'll get a decent budget for it.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving which in all honesty was quite a lot of fun. Thanks to Thanksgiving (haha, see what I did there) I got a lot closer to my American second-years, particularly Shanna (Vice-Chair of Student Council whaaat), Kiera (who looks like a Chinese-American but really isn' all), and Luke (the guy who walks around barefoot everywhere, even in the rain). I've also managed to get to know Hana Bracale, an American co-year, quite well (she is very well-spoken) as well as Becca, who is really, really nice.

I guess the people here aren't that bad. It's not an easy life to lead -- I'm almost three months in and I still haven't gotten to the point where I'm actually really comfortable. What I do know is that I'm not the first person who has ever felt this, nor will I be the last. I think I realized yesterday that even though it feels like we're alone in this struggle, a lot of people have gone through the same things that we have.

I'm also learning to accept the fact that it's okay to ask for help "prematurely". I've always thought that asking for help should only be reserved when you really need it (I still stand by that belief), but at the same time, I'm learning to accept the fact that it's okay to ask for help. I think it really does take guts.

Have you guys noticed that I have gotten more and more sentimental? This is getting out of hand.

Honestly, this is the current predicament I am in:

Yup. And that's the story of my life.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

quick updatez

So I've been back at school for two days and this is how it's been so far.

I didn't go to service on Tuesday because, being the Asian that I am (despite not being in Math HL... whoops), I participated in a math contest.

Yeah. Those are my brothers.
Just kidding. I wish they were my brothers, hahahahaha. But not really.

Let's see... what did I do on Monday? I think I had Biology, English, French, and Math. We're not doing too much in any of those classes, but I really like how much experience all of my teachers have with the IB. In the end, what we learn in 2 years is going to be put in the exam, and it's always useful to know exactly how the test is structured and the criteria against which you will be tested so that you know what's coming, and you know how to CONQUER THIS EXAM.

during exams asian
Can I just say how much I absolutely adore this meme.

I've also picked up piano. Well, picked it back up. I stopped in 5th grade or something I think, and a couple of days ago I realized that I had a lot of time on my hands since I came to AC, so I'm going to start using it *wisely* (i.e. procrastinate by piano-ing.) But honestly I've been pretty productive the past few.. well, the past few weeks/the past 2 months ish. I've been getting my work done, studying, reviewing, everything.

This morning, I went to meditation at Asbjorn's (Physics teacher I think) house. It was kind of hard to get up but it was really nice to just have breakfast with four other people... even if it was in silence :( I like having a conversation about the food I'm eating as I'm eating the food. It makes me slow down and really appreciate the food I'm eating, and it also helps me distinguish whether or not I really like a food.
I'll probably update a bit later as well. Toodles for now ;)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

a cure for homesickness

You know, I always thought homesickness was for wimps and wusses and stuff. I had a friend who went to boarding school for a semester, then returned. We made fun of her every time we mentioned her in conversations.

But now I know — first-hand — what it’s like to go to boarding school. Where you don’t feel like anybody is there for you to lean on. And that’s kind of true. I don’t have anybody solid to lean on. Everything’s up in the air and I absolutely hate it.

On Friday, I was so upset that I had to go back to AC. While I was waiting for the coach, after Yvonne had left, I began tearing up. Once I was on the bus and I started listening to some music, I was crying. I didn’t want to go back to AC, and honestly, I still kind of don’t want to be here. I just realized today that there was no more way for me to numb myself from my emotions. My second-year, Holly (who has witnessed me sobbing way too many times to count) once said that before construction, there must be destruction. If I think about it, I’d spent fifteen years of my life on this… building. In all honesty I wasn’t very satisfied with how the building had turned out. It’s kind of like making a clay sculpture, or painting something. I had already scribbled all across the canvas and the canvas is kind of full… so now I need to learn how to strip things away slowly so that I can start anew and create a personality, a person that I can actually like.

First I got rid of my physical activity. I know that sounds horrible, but that was a coping mechanism for me. I used it to cover my emotions, to numb myself. Then it was food. I’m slowly getting rid of that. That’s no longer going to be a coping mechanism for me either. I just need to find some way to change my emotions — change what’s fundamentally causing me pain, causing me to feel terrible, in order to shift my entire attitude. Apparently, for me, the fake-it-til-you-make-it method doesn’t work.

 At all.

I’m learning. I’m struggling a lot, but I’m learning.

I woke up at 7:00 this morning to take the SAT subject test. I got back at around 10:30 then I diddle-dawdled for a while, and I ate lunch at 12:40ish. Then I went on Skype and Skyped one of my friends from back home, Lenny (nickname for Helen). I was crying and she was so supportive and she was giving me great ideas for things to do here. I think that’ll be useful later, but my main priority is looking inside myself and figuring out the missing link that prevents this place from being a place in which I feel comfortable.

Then I had a sob fest for half an hour and Holly was there to comfort me.

Then I slept for two hours.

Then I went on the computer for a bit.

Followed by going to different houses looking for someone to borrow money from so I could get the fruits I ordered from the Food Co-op from Christine.

Then I got the money from Yiran in Morgannwg, so then I went to Christine’s house and got my fruit and ate a bunch of fruit.

Then I started doing English homework.

After which I watched Mean Girls with Holly.

Then I was on the computer again… what a great day. Not really.

Sorry for such a depressing post. I’m thinking that I should really start to post more posts about food or something because apparently people really like looking at that kind of stuff.

three day summary.

because blogger is being a bit of a stupid not-user-friendly platform...

please click here to read the post :)

short-term memory loss

…is what you get when you do too many things while on holiday and this is why I need to remember to update my blog every single day when I’m traveling.
So this post is for October 30, 2012, the memory of which is somewhat hazy in my brain.
I do recall going to Piccadilly Circus and doing something or another… Oh, no, wait. I remember now.
First we went to Brixton Market. It’s a huge… er, market, and it’s mainly to supply the Afro-Caribbean population in London. There were so many spices and curries, and finally — real butcher shops that were part of a market. I don’t quite know how to explain this, but in Beijing, whenever you went to the “butcher’s”, you’d go to a wet market (which looks like this, except it’s usually dirtier and the floor is actually wet… hence the name) and go to the stall that you usually go to and then you get the meat that you want. I feel like in these large, developed cities, the butchers are always either in the supermarkets (it’s way too clean to actually be a butcher’s if you think about it) or they’ve got their own little shop, which is acceptable and all, but it doesn’t give me the comforting, grutty (yes I made that word up) feel that these sketchy wet markets do. It was a pretty cool market and I bought back some chilis that are apparently really insanely spicy for my Nigerian buddies back at AC.
Brixton Market. It was a lot brighter than it seems in this picture.
Then we headed to Warren Street and we ate at Yvonne’s brother’s restaurant, Mushu. It’s an Asian fusion restaurant and the dumplings were decent compared to what I usually had back home ;) My standards are set super high since I grew up on that food, and my ayi (nanny/housemaid/cook all rolled into one; she basically raised me) made dumplings (jiaozi / 饺子) for me quite often, as well as wontons (馄饨), laobing (烙饼), shaobing (烧饼), and hubing (I have no idea how to write this in Chinese).
My goal is to learn how to make a lot of Chinese food while I’m here at AC. I always felt that I had no time to do this kind of stuff back in Beijing, but I’ve kind of realized that I have a lot of free time here; I just don’t know how to use my time wisely, because… well, we’ll save that for another post. Just to keep you hanging.
Anyway. Then we went to Chinatown, where I bought a lot of noodles, a 6kg bag of rice, ramen, fish/beef balls, and ate some more dandy food. Such as a pineapple bun. Damn, those are good. I miss those. It’s weird how much you crave things that you know you won’t have access to. #firstworldproblems
We returned to the flat after that, because Yvonne had a massage client, and we ended up having this random fusion of food for dinner… which tasted great :) Fried rice, this satay vermicelli salad thing that I must get the recipe for, and more food I can’t remember.
That was basically it for Tuesday. Now I have to write the post for Wednesday :)

too much food: take two

I think I’ve found the solution to my nutrition/food dilemma.
But before I talk about that, let me talk to you about mangos.
Mangos are delicious. I love mangos. They’re smooth, soft, and sweet, and the meat of the fruit is so delicious.
This is not a mango. And he who dares tell you otherwise can go shove it because he has no place on this earth and does not deserve to exist or eat any food. Ever. Because he does not know what a mango is.
I made the mistake of buying two of them in Cardiff yesterday. They were really cheap – 2 for 1.50. That probably should have been my first warning sign. In what world can you buy two mangos for 15RMB? Not this world at least. And probably not in any other galaxy in the universe. Ever.
So I’m holding it and I’m thinking, wow, that’s a good deal! The fruit feels soft enough so it’s probably ripe, but it’s not too soft so it’s not overripe. Plus it’s so big! This must be one delicious mango!
Boy, was I wrong. My second warning sign probably should have been when I was cutting into the fruit. As my knife was sawing through it, I could actually feel and hear the fibers in the fruit break. Cutting into mangos should be easy; the knife should cut smoothly into the fruit and you definitely should not feel like you’re sawing through it. Unless you’re cutting too close/into the seed of the mango, in which case that will happen.
My third warning sign should have been when I was creating the cross-hatch into the fruit. When I cut the mango, I hold it vertically and I cut the two sides, avoiding the seed in the middle. Then, I take the two sides then I make a cross-hatch pattern… oh, just look at the picture of the real mango and you’ll know what I’m talking about. As I was creating the cross-hatch, I could see the fibers of the fruit.
Then I ate the stupid thing and it was fibrous and yucky and not sweet or soft or juicy and I got the fiber string thingies stuck in my teeth and it was like a mango that I had once wronged had come back from mango hell and decided to take revenge on me or something. It was so terrible.
For your reference, this is a real mango:
The real stuff.
Moral of the story: don’t eat British mangos. They’re actually gremlins who have taken the form of mangos. Eat them after 8PM and you’ll go crazy or something.
Anyway, today I made my first real meal. I’ve made fake meals before… like when I was all fitness- and nutrition-oriented and weight-loss-oriented (well, I guess I still am weight-loss oriented, especially since I’ve gained 4 kilos [!!!] since I arrived at AC.) In the past I’d make easy stuff like grilled salmon or pan-seared salmon or something really easy that I thought was super fancy but not really.
Yesterday I made fried rice with Yvonne. Technically I made it all, with her guidance (I chopped everything, put everything in the pan, added the seasoning/sauces, stir-fried it, ate it…) so that’s a dish that I made. Today, I made beef and broccoli stir-fry that was pretty decent. It took me about 40 minutes from start to finish, excluding the marinating time. I can definitely see ways that I could improve, which means that I’m going to have to alter the recipe. I’ll put up the recipe once I’ve perfected it.
Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry
Sorry the quality is so terrible. I’m definitely bringing my dSLR back after Christmas break so that I can take actually good food pictures that will make you salivate like no other.
…and the fried rice
I promise you that the food I make looks a lot better than this. I PROMISE. God, this food actually looks like it’s been made for dogs. I need a better camera. And better lighting probably.
BACK TO MY FIRST POINT. The whole “Eureka! I know why my nutrition is way off balance!” I came to this conclusion as I was eating my dinner. It occurred to me that that was the first time I’d actually eaten a meal as I would have back home. Granted, it was without my dad, but when I was living in Beijing, there would be multiple times a week I’d eat at home alone anyway, so I guess it kind of was like home.
In Beijing, I would always have a bowl of rice, and a couple of dishes in the middle to eat from. One of the dishes would be some kind of meat-and-vegetable stir-fry, and another would be a “rice mix-in” (a dish that you would put in your rice and mix, such as steamed egg or tomato and egg stir-fry) or a vegetable dish. That would be for 2-4 people, so it made sense that I just made one stir-fry. I could only finish half the stir-fry anyway. But at AC, even when I ate elsewhere, you just always had your own plate and it was never a sit-down Chinese meal. At Christine’s (bio teacher) house, for a Hong Kong bonding session right before the Mid-Autumn Festival, we all had rice and there was food in the middle, but everybody was standing up and… it was just very different. During regular meals, it’s just absolute crap and you have your tray and everything and it just feels weird. I never know what the proper ‘portions’ are because I’ve never grown up eating like that. I always grew up having my bowl of rice and eating the side dishes and I think because I’ve grown up eating like that, I have this biological/innate/instinctive *alarm* in my body that tells me I’m full after I’ve eaten this much or that much or whatever. Plus, we always had fruit after dinner, so I would just know how much of the ‘main meal’ I could eat so that I could still eat the fruit and not feel like I was going to pop like a balloon at the end of the meal.
Very long-winded monologue. But it’s a very important breakthrough, so I think the rambling is justified.
I have this great idea for an activity at AC. The thing is, a lot of the time, I have these great ideas when I’m not at AC and once I get there, it just kind of gets shut down and… I don’t know, maybe that happens with everybody. You have this wonderful idea, and then reality kicks its ass. I guess Tony Robbins is right: it’s about resourcefulness, not resources. I’ll post up the link to that video after I finish this post.
I’m going to spend the rest of this term, as well as the winter holidays, learning how to cook and perfecting a couple of dishes. All of the food I’m going to cook is going to be Chinese or Asian fusion – I think it’s important that I learn how to cook food from my own culture before I try to master Italian or French cooking or something like that. Then, next term, I want to lead an activity in which on a weekday, we have a ‘guest speaker’ (an AC student) that talks about their culture, especially their cuisine and how it shapes their culture and/or vice versa. Then, on Saturday or something, that student cooks a traditional or typical meal for us. I think it would be a great idea to become more exposed to the cultures and foods of the world. Good idea, no?
I’m off to bed now. I realize that my body feels lethargic and it feels like absolute crap when I eat too much. I’m going to focus more on intuitive eating… and finding the yin and yang of my foods and returning to my roots ;)

so. much. food.

I think I’ve fallen in love with London.
Seriously. I’ve been here for two days so far, and I’m already thinking that going to university in London might not be such a terrible thing after all. Especially if I’m going to UCL or LSE. No complaints there.
I had a wonderful time today. I woke up at what I thought was 10:30 (but it was actually 9:30 because the clocks went backwards.) For breakfast, I had a mango that was absolutely terrible because it wasn’t from the tropics… yeah, fruit from London isn’t too great.
We headed to Oxford Circus, which is this, er, area of London that’s full of shops and food and restaurants and everything. It was so great. We (Yvonne [my friend's cousin, who is my host for this week] and I) walked around for a bit. I went to this place called Ben’s Cookies and ohmygoodness the cookies are absolutely divine. I’m not even kidding when I say that it has possibly the best cookies I have ever tasted in my life. They’re not the ‘homemade’ cookies that many people like; they’re like upscale cookies that everyone is able to enjoy because a) they’re cookies, and b) they’re not too expensive. You know they’re legit when they’ve got their own website. I wish I’d taken a picture of it.
After that, we had dim sum at Imperial Restaurant. Best food I’ve had since I arrived in the UK.
By the way, when you eat Chinese food anywhere other than China, you want to go into places that look like this…
Not this:
If you eat at a place that resembles the second picture, you are not allowed to say “I had Chinese takeout for lunch/dinner today.” Because you didn’t. You had shit for lunch/dinner today.
After dim sum, we went to a Chinese supermarket and I stocked up on VitaSoy and noodles and egg rolls. I plan on going back to get more fish/beef balls and more Chinese stuff so I’ll never have to miss Chinese food again.
Anyway, after that (it was already about 4:00 by then), I went to Scoop, (another) gelato place. It wasn’t very expensive at all; 3.50 for 2 scoops of ice cream. I got hazelnut and coffee. I have decided that those two flavors don’t go well together. Next time (yes, there will be a next time) I’m going to get hazelnut and dark chocolate. I love hazelnut. Loooooove it. I couldn’t take a picture of the ice cream because my phone died :(
Then, we went to John Lewis, which is this huge English department store with weird escalators. They’re weird because they move horizontally for 3495872309458792845 years before they actually split into stairs and start going up/down. Yvonne and I got wool yarn (…or do I just say wool?? I don’t know how to phrase this!) because she needed more wool so she could knit, and I got wool so I could learn how to knit.
We headed to Yvonne’s brother’s home, where his one-and-a-half-month-old daughter was snoozing (she ended up waking up and crying) and I had a slice of chocolate cake that was really good. I don’t like it when people overdo the frosting, because frosting is supposed to complement the flavor and the texture cake, not overwhelm it.
Finally we decided to head home. I copied down a bunch of Chinese recipes, learned how to make fried rice with Yvonne (actually good fried rice!), wrote myself a grocery list so I can make all those goodies back at AC, watched the X Factor, The Big Bang Theory, Revenge, Homeland, and probably some other things as well. I also ate a pineapple bun and this red bean pastry thing.
Then I did some research on yin-yang foods (this Chinese philosophy about balance and harmony and how foods can be described as ‘hot’ or ‘cold’, and how to balance it out.) I’m thinking about creating a mission-based class or a ten-week activity in which I talk about Chinese food and the philosophy behind the foods, as well as their history, and I’ll give the attendees a dinner every Saturday night. I need to learn how to cook anyway… so that gives me an excuse to do so.

just dropped down in londontown

My old blog was on Tumblr (click here if you want to check that one out) but I felt like the design and everything was to blegh and blah and not cool enough so I decided to move to WordPress. I’ve worked with WP before so I’m happy about that.
October Break has finally started! I think a week isn’t going to be enough but it’s fine. I’m staying in London with some family friends (whom I hadn’t met before this break actually) and it’s been quite fun. I went to bed at 00:45 last night and woke up at 10:45. It was absolutely fabulous and I slept on a roll-out couch that was basically a queen-sized bed… huge difference from the tiny, narrow single bed we have back at the College ;)
For lunch, we ate at Hind’s Head Bray, which was created by Michelin chef Heston Blumenthal. It’s a gastropub, and seriously everything was so insanely expensive it’s ridiculous. I’m sorry, but I have no idea why I even thought about paying 3.25 for a freaking Scotch egg. It was pretty good but I’ve eaten better eggs that costed like 2RMB. Which is 20 pence in British terms. And this small pot/bowl of wild mushroom macaroni was pretty good (and cost over 16 pounds), but I can see myself getting the same satisfaction from eating, like, mac and cheese or something which would’ve cost 2 pounds. And for goodness’ sake, one slice of chocolate tart with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream was 7.25 pounds! 7.25 POUNDS!! That is so ridiculously expensive. In Beijing I could have gotten a three-course meal for that. What is earth.
We got back to St. John’s Wood (where I’m staying) at around 4:00 and we went to St. John’s Wood High Street where I got some reaaaaaaaaaally good gelato. I should take more pictures. It was biscotto (basically Italian cookies ‘n’ cream) and this hazelnut chocolate one, which was like nutella in ice cream form. Then we went to Tesco, where I bought a pain au chocolat and a maple pecan plait… and I ate that. And I ate an apple, and a lot of cookies and chocolate covered pretzels. Following that, I ate 3 soy sauce and honey-glazed chicken thighs with some rice. A lot of food. At least it’s good food now.
I’ve gained 3kg since I’ve gotten to the UK and it really needs to stop. I’m reading a book called Intuitive Eating and I’m really trying to integrate its concepts and ideas into my life. There’s something that messes with my psychology when I’m at AC, especially when I’m around food. It just always feels like a competition to see who can get the most amount of food in the least amount of time, and even though I know in my mind that that’s not really the case, I can’t stop myself from thinking that way. Whenever there’s free good food (which usually amounts to just… junk food, really) everyone goes insane and sees how much they can get. And I don’t know, that just doesn’t sit right with me, and I can see myself becoming someone whose whole life is centered around food and making sure that I got the “best deal”. As in, it’s like I’m trying to get bang for my buck – I get free food, so I’m going to make sure that I got the best deal out of everybody here. And that’s not exactly what I should be doing. My nutrition has become absolute shit, and ugh… it’s just terrible.
Anyway, I’ve just been watching TED talks the entire night. Tony Robbins is an insanely charismatic and inspirational speaker, and watching Matthieu Ricard makes me want to lead my life in a different way… and he makes me want to meditate. It’s good that there’s meditation every morning at Asbjorn’s house. I’m planning on meditating on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from now on, as long as I can get enough sleep. I run 10k on Tuesday mornings with Abenezer, an Ethiopian second-year in my house. :)
Anyway, I’m pretty tired from everything today. It’s already 00:15 here so I’m probably going to go to bed before 1. At least I hope that’s going to happen. I should really try to establish a good sleeping pattern. I’ll probably upload some pictures of the castle soon. :)