The Artist's Way

I just finished an intense cleaning session. I've had a mess of papers and "memories" (aka old receipts of dinners with friends) cluttering my desk for months much to the chagrin of my boyfriend. Today I finally found the courage to tackle it. It took about an hour to put everything into their respective folders and toss the rest. That is a fraction of the amount of time I've spent thinking about doing this task. Whew it feels so good to be done.

On Friday, I purchased "The Artist's Way." I've heard it mentioned for a few years, but never gave it much thought. The title was off-putting. It sounded like a philosophical, fruity-tuity, let's talk about feelings and faith type of book and I didn't have time for that! In truth, I had lots of time for that. Recently I've been realizing I have loads of free-time. I've just tricked myself into thinking I'm busy because all of my free-time is wasted on Instagram. Following a trip to Nashville in May where I spent far too much time on my phone, as well as a work trip in Australia where all I did was obsess over my phone as a way to distract myself, I have taken steps to limit my time on the 'gram and my phone in general. With that has come a greater sense of calm, a curiosity for consciousness, meditating regularly, and being more in tune with reality. Like what's really worth worrying about in my life (very little) and what I have to be grateful for (so much). 

After listening to Jenna Fischer speak highly of "The Artist's Way" on the podcast titled "Don't Quit Your Dream Job", and then listening to the author, Julia Cameron, herself on the same podcast, I decided to give the book a shot. I've been diligently doing my morning pages. This is officially day two of the program and so far so good. I felt a preternatural sense of calm yesterday and a sense of "let's do this!" today which led to the deep clean. 

Two weeks ago I turned twenty-seven. In my twenties, I haven't found myself caring too much about my age. I look younger than I am which certainly helps. But I think most of it comes from my paternal grandmother's and mother's attitudes towards aging and beauty. Neither of them seem too particularly concerned with the effects of getting older. I am rather excited to continue aging, to be honest. I find women forties and older to be so elegant, beautiful, at ease. Sure, young ladies closer to my age are beautiful too but it's different. I also feel so much better about myself at this age than I did at age seventeen. Ironically, in my teens I was incredibly concerned with each passing year. I painfully compared myself to each younger grade that entered high school. "Oh, this freshman is SO much better at violin than I am. I'm worthless!" I was consumed with comparing and then resigning myself to the fact that I was horrible at everything and I had started everything too late. 

Now, I feel I am just starting to learn about myself and the world. I have a greater sense of self-worth and compassion for myself. Ha, compassion for MYSELF. It still rings a little white-girl-yoga-retreat (is that insensitive?) but darn it's important. 

Sunday I made a video playing a character based on my mom. She vents about how hot it is and how young people should wear "sunblah." Especially white people. They have privilege, good for them, but their skin "is not as strong as a Chinese...Latino...Black. Is it okay to say?" I posted the video then immediately deleted it, unsure if it was insensitive. I love playing my mom character. Through her I say all sorts of critical things. Mostly the character disses white people and their flimsy skin. I'm not sure if this is offensive so I've refrained from posting too much with her. Ah well. 

In other news, I've recently gotten back into eating keto. Day five I think. High fat, moderate protein, ultra low carb. The funniest things happen when I'm following a ketogenic diet. First, my chicken skin on my triceps disappears. Perhaps that's from the lower carb intake and thus lower gluten intake. Look at me embracing my LA white girl. (Again is it insensitive to say that? I truly am an LA white girl though so I think it's okay...?) My poops are an easy breezy delight when I'm keto. Too far? I really love thinking and talking about poops so you'll have to accept it or move on. Lastly, my booger production drops to near nothing! And I'm very aware of my booger production because I have a septum piercing. OoOoOh betcha didn't know that. I have it tucked up 90% of the time because it's usually lovingly embraced by boogers. Not when I'm keto though! I flipped that puppy out last night. Wooo! 

Alright, I'm going to eat ribeye now. I've been eating ribeye steak almost every day since restarting keto. I'm not really sure of what's "bad for you" now these days regarding food. It seems everything I learned growing up has been debunked. Milk makes strong bones, fatty food are bad for you, sleeping with wet hair will make you sick. I sleep with wet hair all the time Dad!!! 

Steak time. Bye bye!

Big Foot

IMG_4521.JPG

Is it normal to have your feet grow one full size at age 25? I went from being a size 10-ish to an 11-ish with the prospect of having to go wide now as well. 

What the heck's going on?! 

I recently bought a new pair of running shoes. After a few runs, I realized they were too small so I got a half-size bigger. A few more runs later, I realized they were too narrow. So today I'm going to Nike and your girl may or may not inquire about trying men's shoes. 

*Sigh* 

5-foot-tall Chinese mother, why couldn't you have blessed me with your itsy-bitsy footsie-tootsies? 

Hollywood, I'm Back

One year ago, I swore off acting. I left my agent, tossed my headshots, and got a full-time job. 

Present day: I'm back. I do want to act. I just signed with a new agency (today!), printed new headshots (albeit the same ones taken two years ago), and don't have a full-time job.

It's less exciting, but also less scary this time around. I have a good sense of what to expect--the auditions, the rejection, the months of feeling like a good-for-nothing. The year that I took off helped me realize that this is what I really want. And that I can tolerate the less glamorous side of it. 

This time around, I'm not doing it because I want to be a superstar. I'm doing it because there's nothing else I can imagine doing. 

So, here I am. Hollywood, hear me roar!

The 7 Bangs of Taylor Swift

I wrote a topical article about Taylor Swift's bangs. She had just bleached her hair, hence my thinking of the idea. I'm not a huge fan of hers by any means. I just felt like she has a lot of bangs styles that deserve names and personalities. While "researching" my article, I began to see Taylor as more than a manufactured popstar. She knew what she wanted to do at an early age and got to it. Success wasn't instant. She kept persevering. She paid her dues by performing all over and opening for many acts. Here I was thinking she just appeared over night. Namely, the night of Kanye's infamous interruption. 

 

If Taylor Swift had been the pop it-girl of the 90s, I probably would've been obsessed with her. I save a special place in my heart for Britney Spears. But since she came to notoriety when I was in high school, I felt like she was just another obnoxious singer. Now that I'm a little older and pursing something creative as well, I respect her determination. I regularly contemplate quitting entertainment. I imagine a simple life where all I worry about waking up on time and what's for lunch. No YouTube videos, no blogs, no stress, no doubt-inducing comparisons to more successful creatives. Yes, a simple life sounds very nice. 

Then there's the sweeping, all-encompassing feeling I get when I watch a wonderful TV show or a brilliant sketch. I'm overcome with a pulsating, electric charge that flashes in huge neon letters: I want that. And the simple life becomes just a drop more impossible than my dreams.

I'm Going to Start Vlogging?

I just got the Canon G7x, AKA every YouTuber's vlogging camera. After a few days of recording random moments in my day, I'm actually still into this. It's funny to see how different I am depending on my energy and mood. When I record in public, I get side-eye from some people. Their judging makes me feel uncomfortable. But my filming probably makes them feel uncomfortable. So it's even.

Anyway, there's my first vlog. 

Blonde Ambition

Soo Joo Park rocks the bleach blonde.

Soo Joo Park rocks the bleach blonde.

Against my better judgement, I desperately want bleach blonde hair. My natural color is dark brown. I have thick, healthy, virgin hair. And I want to torture it beyond recognition. 

Over steaming metal tins of delectable dim sum, my mom regaled my patient boyfriend with tales from my youth: "In kindergarten, Andrea came home one day crying. She said, 'Ma! Why don't have I white hair like Paige Muhlestein?' She didn't know the word blonde."

My boyfriend and mother shared a hearty laugh, then she continued with, "I told his teacher, Ms. Van--"

"Her teacher," I interrupted. If you have a Chinese parent, you get it.

"I told Ms. Van what happened and then Andrea never complained about her hair again." (Not true.)

I don't remember what Ms. Van said. It was probably something that made me feel special and unique. That feeling didn't last because I remember enviously braiding that girl's hair in third grade during Harry Potter reading time. (The Sorcerer's Stone had just come out. Does that make me old?)

This fascination with blonde hair comes and goes, but every few years I return to it.

I know it won't go with my skin tone. I know it'll be a b*tch to maintain. I even know I'll regret it. But I still want to do the damn thing and dye it. 

redhair.jpg

I've done it once before and this is what happened. It turned red like it does on every Asian girl with blonde ambition. My boyfriend at the time said I looked like his 45-year-old high school teacher. Great. 

Two months and many hats later, I dyed it back to dark brown. When that started to fade, I found myself in an unintentional ombre situation. That growing out phase is behind me now. The novelty of my bangs has worn off. And it's either this or a DylanLex necklace I can't afford. Hello Chase Freedom points!

What's a girl to do? Accept her lot in life as a brunette relegated to having just fun, never more fun? Or chemically torment her follicles in hopes of pulling a Soo Joo

In the words of Selomez (a cute Twitter-friendly nickname for Selena Gomez), "The heart wants what it wants...ah awnts awnts ah awnts."

 

Work Work Work Work Work

Memba this one?

In my creative heyday, I was churning out YouTube videos left and right. But in the past few months, I haven't felt inspired to do anything besides improv and writing classes. No songs, no blogs, no vlogs. But once I got hired as a full-time Pam in The Office, the ideas spurted out like a projectile pimple. 

Yours truly in a rap battle.

I decided earlier this year to stop acting. The passion of fellow actors for their craft surpassed my own. My mind would wander in acting class from "capturing the character" to counting the grammatical errors and mentally rewriting the script. In October 2015, I took my first TV writing class. It was infinitely more interesting than any acting class I'd taken. Three classes later, (I think) I want to be a TV comedy writer. Who knows if that will hold true in the years to come. In 2013, I was convinced I was the next Iggy Azalea. Seriously. 

With the decision to quit acting came the move from part-time to full-time work. I bid farewell to my sweaty friends at the yoga studio where I worked in favor of working for The Man. And that's when it happened. The creative in me came out of hibernation.

It's odd timing. Usually the move to full-time causes us delusional creative types to lose all hope and give up on our passion. But for whatever reason, the financial stability and routine have resulted in me getting back in action. I shot a vlog about dating apps with a friend last week. I'll post it here soon! 

Oh! Another thing that coincided with buckling down and being part of "the system": I got a freelance writing gig! I'm getting paid to write! What! The! What! 

So life's good. Things are different. Now I'm driving a Chrysler 200 because my Honda CR-V is part of the massive Takata airbag recall. I'm riding in rental style. Thanks shrapnel airbags! 

But different is good. Change is good. All the free food at my office is good. It's all good! 

Thanks for reading and XOjiayou. 

Andi

Please Tell Me Adriana Lima Has Hairy Toes

[Written a week or so ago. I forgot to post it because I was too busy Instagramming.]

It takes me thirty-five minutes to drive home from work. This evening I spent the entire time thinking about my next Instagram post. I have it all planned out. It’s a photo I took this morning. I’m in an oversized grandpa sweater that’s conveniently falling off my shoulder as I gaze with an ever so slight smirk into the camera. It’s perfect. And it is the thing I am most looking forward to tomorrow.

Wait what? 

Out of the morning stroll with my labradoodle, the scheduled yoga class I am going to take with a new friend, and the birthday dinner I have planned for my boyfriend, I am most looking forward to posting a picture to the Internet. 

How did I become so entranced by Instagram? How did it consume me?

It is the primary thing I do in my past-time. I tell myself that I must have my iPhone with me at all times in case my agent calls with an audition. The real reason is because I can’t go longer than fifteen unoccupied minutes without checking Instagram. What is Kendall doing? Now, Kylie? Caitlyn? Wowzers. Kim’s boobs are huge. I hate my little boobs. Candace Swanepoel has such a narrow waist. Why can’t mine be that narrow? Stop eating today. No more eating ever again. Workout seven times a week. The inner dialogue is never-ending. 

What is my point in sharing this embarrassing aspect of my life? It’s to hopefully snap myself out of it. 

Never do I come away from an Instagram-perusing feeling good about myself. Truly. None of the inspirational quotes written in cute girly brush strokes set on palm tree wallpaper leave me with an “Aha, I got this!” impression. So why do I keep going back?

“Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health.”

It’s an addiction. Pure and simple. Not quite as harmful as a drug or alcohol addiction. Or is it? 

I fear that this addiction over time will completely erode my sense of self and my passion to pursue my own interests rather than attempting to follow the paths of the Instagram rich and famous. With the ability to constantly and instantly compare ourselves to millions of people in the palm of our hands, we lose sight of our own true north. Is it really necessary to see Taylor Swift’s Fourth of July gathering at her sprawling East Coast estate? Do I need to know how Kylie Jenner got her Ferrari customized? 

The distractions provided via the Internet and all of its users can be more harmful than helpful. At least in my case, social media in particular is no longer a way to connect and reconnect with friends. More and more, we are using social media to connect with those we have never and probably will never meet. And in using social media, we are comparing ourselves to the small portion of their life they choose to share. 

It was easy--maybe not easy, but bearable--to coexist among the pretty and popular of our adolescent lives. At least we could console ourselves by saying, “Sure, he’s good at football. Maybe he’ll even get a scholarship somewhere. But he’s bad at math and has chlamydia.” We had a better glimpse at the full picture. But what’s wrong with Selena Gomez? As far as I can tell, she’s young, rich, gorgeous, and successful. I’m young, so ding-ding one point for me. But the other stuff? Please. 

Maybe all I’m looking for is a little asterisk with every Instagram post that tells me a bad-at-math/chlamydia -esque detail about the person. Like, maybe my favorite Victoria’s Secret model has hairy toes, or my favorite YouTuber has chronic constipation. Something that makes me say, “At least I don’t have that.” (I love fiber, hehe!)

Here, I’ll even be the first to start it. Here’s a preview of my Instagram post for tomorrow:

Caption: Sweaters are so slippery! *

*When stressed, she pops her pimples and orders Dominoes. 

See, now don’t you feel better about yourself? At least you don’t do that. But if you do, contact me immediately for we are soulmates.

TV and Me: Addiction, Rehab, Addiction Again

Last week I took my first half-hour spec comedy writing class. In this class, I'll learn how to build an outline for a speculative script of an existing show. The professor encouraged us to watch as much TV as possible in addition to completing the assignment. This was an OMG moment for me. 

When I was little, I watched a lot of TV. Lots of kids watch TV, so my statement is not too remarkable. However, I watched so much TV that one New Year's morning, my mom purposely and literally cut the cord on our wood-paneled, bunny eared television, rendering it useless. This was quite the dramatic gesture. My mom is quite the dramatic lady. Anyway, starting from that year forward (I was in seventh grade), I had no television access. (Ok, I could watch TV on Thursday nights at my dad's house and at my grandparents' place every couple of weekends--but that was mostly golf and C-SPAN.)

I thought my troubles before the cut, as I'll call it, about not having cable were highly lamentable. I was clueless when all my friends talked about Lizzie McGuire and Spongebob Squarepants. It was a difficult time. But post-cut, whoo-whee, those were the dark ages. 

I was furious with my mom on New Year's Day. I wanted to watch the Rose Parade on repeat! I'm not sure how I coped with all of those available hours for the first few weeks. My memory fails me most likely because I've blocked out that traumatic period. *Shivers* 

Eventually though, I got used to it. My mom forced me into a rehab of sorts for TV addicts. I had more time to study. I excelled in school. Went to a good college. Graduated. And now I'm sitting naked in bed at 1:41 PM on a Tuesday writing for my blog after spending the entire morning until now watching TV. (Blood & Oil and The Grinder so far. I'm dying for the next episode of Scream Queens to come out!!) 

Essentially, I've come full circle. My mother was smart enough to stop my TV addiction in its tracks with one fell swoop. Even when Netflix and Hulu became a thing while I was in college and I had full access to television, I wasn't all that into it anymore. I had spent so much of my formative years without TV that it just felt unnatural and unproductive to plop in front of the TV or rest in an extremely non-ergonomic position with laptop on chest in bed. (You know exactly the position I'm referring to.) Aside from binge-watching 30 Rock and the first few seasons of Mad Men, I didn't watch much TV in college. I missed the whole Game of Thrones phenom. (I tried to start watching the first season and catch up before the fifth season came out. I felt horribly left behind and late to the game so I just gave up.) 

Well the decade-long TV hiatus for Andi Hester is no more. My love and addiction have been reignited. I am happily unproductive, lazing about in my birthday suit watching the new season of Empire until my labradoodle, Little Goat, whines for a walk or my mom catches on and somehow cuts the, this time, metaphorical cord of my TV. 

Meet My Rap Alter Ego

Name: Lil Dumpling

Fact: She feels sexiest in a yellow cardigan.

Fact: She does typing tests for fun.

Fact: Celebrities all want to be her bestie (or so she thinks)

Check out my latest YouTube video, featuring Lil Dumpling rapping about her ride/die life in her CR-V. 

Lyrics:

Lil Dumpling so so hot
Bran muffins we/can’t can’t stop
Where we going to the top
Paparazzi-photo opp!

Lil Dumpling was gone for a minute
but she’s back and she’s in it to win it
Rhymes that stick like la brea tar pits
Style so fresh in her yellow cardigan

Haha haha she’s laughing
Hoho hoho she’s graphing

Haha haha she’s laughing
Remix of Lean On—it’s happening

i ride these streets in my cr-v HEY
i die in these streets with my cr-v HEY

She's so cool I do typing tests for fun
Put bread in my mouth stick out my tongue
All the girls just want to be Lil Dumpling
All the boys just want a Good Lil Humping

Lil Dumps is behind on Game of Thrones
Lil Dumps likes to spend Friday nights at home
Dancing to N*Sync when she’s all alone
Ring ring ring, it’s JT on the phone
Whatever

Lil Dumpling got things to do do
No time to Facetime Heidi Klum Klum
Rapping bout this life is a full time job
Got no time for Khloe, Kim, Kourt, or Rob

Sorry she’s busy, leave a message, at the tone, she’ll get back to you when she can.

i ride these streets in my cr-v HEY
i die in these streets with my cr-v HEY
2011 mint condition
classic

yo i’m lil dumpling all the haters jocking
words from you mean less than sleep talking
that means that it’s nonsense to me
silly things you mumble in your dreams

i’m the girl who’s every guy’s dreams
ya the mengxiang but you’re not seeing things
dropping chinese phrases like ni hao ma
wo bi ni congming (I'm smarter than you), TAI BANG LE (wonderful!)