Some advice in quotation marks

“Give a damn.
Many damns.
More damns than anyone.” -Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of RedditScreen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.58.52 PM

“Save the excuses. It’s not about ‘having’ time. It’s about making time. If it matters to you, you will make time.”

“My mother was right. When you’ve got nothing left all you can do is get into some silk underwear and start reading Proust” -Jane Birkin

poem in image: Mary Oliver, “In Blackwater Woods”


30 before 30


30 before 30; © 2014, Julie Yue

I’ve entered my twenties and full-blown young adulthood. I have one decade to get these done.
As I check them off, I will write about it.

1) finish a Q&A journal
2) adopt and raise a cat
3) host a dinner party
4) practice yoga (teaching license?)
5) meet my pen pal
6) go to a writer’s retreat
7) get a graduate degree
8) paint a series, have it exhibited
9) move to a different country
10) say yes for a week
11) get a tattoo
12) go to a music festival
13) do a cooking challenge
14) visit Russia
15) pay off my student loans
16) eat at Dans le Noir
17) get a bartending license
18) 52 in 52 book challenge
19) hike the Andes
20) complete a 365 photo project
21) sky dive
22) ride in a hot air balloon
23) travel alone
24) the Great American Road Trip
25) get published by The Millions
26) live alone
27) donate blood
28) learn a new language
29) get promoted
30) take the parental unit out to dinner

This list will reside permanently in the about section on top toolbar.

What’s on your 30 before 30 list?

Image © 2014, Julie Yue

New Year’s Resolutions

Every year, my resolutions become less and less ambitious. But this year I will turn 21, and I hereby resolve to grow up and:

1) Drink 64 oz of water a day

2) Write something I are grateful for every day, and journal at least four times a week

3) Complete Project 365. Follow my progress on Flickr

4) Improve my handwriting, less chicken scratch, more Arthur Rimbaud.

5) Keep up with this blog. Ha.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 11.14.57 PM

month in review: may 2013

This (past) May concludes my first month of posting on this blog, which is a pretty big deal considering my usual track record with this sort of thing. (Insert appropriately polite applause here). When I first set out in prepping this blog, I ambitiously promised in my Statement of Purpose that I would prepare a review at the end of the month, every month. I neglected to consider, however, the general lack of excitement and writability of my daily life. But in the personal-blogosphere, the secret to success, I’ve heard, is to write about this kind of uneventfulness anyway. So here I am, in a lonely corner of a crowded Starbucks, eavesdropping on every conversation around me and trying to write this post. An aside: I have spend so much time at my nearest Starbucks that the baristas have begun to recognize me and eye me suspiciously as I park myself in the same highly-sought-after corner for eight hours after buying only one discounted drink, so I’ve slyly begun to move around. One of the perks of suburban life is the near-limitlessness of Starbucks franchises within a two mile radius. The one that I’m currently sitting in has a fantastic power outlet to seating ratio despite the terrible parking allowances.

The beginning of this month was consumed by finals. I’m not sure what else to say about that besides finals suck. And after about fifty pages of final papers and a equal number of americanos and spiked chai lattes, my sophomore year in college is over. And although I have learned a lot these two years at Brown, this fact is absolutely terrifying. The words “I am an upperclassman” were words I had not anticipated saying for some time, and now the time has come. I have no more direction in life than when I began as a wide-eyed freshman; in fact, I perhaps have even less.

I spent the week following finals working at the commencement catering services in order to make some pocket change for the summer. I wish I had taken more photos during this quite overwhelming and generally bonding experience, but honestly, I was too busy and too sleep-deprived. Shifts regularly began at 5:30 in the morning, at which time I dragged myself out of my un-air-conditioned dorm and to the dining hall kitchens where I proceeded to count and arrange 650 stainless steel forks and knives, distinguish between different tablecloths, which apparently is a very big deal, and also surprisingly heavy. The entire crew sits down for lunch at one, and suddenly heavy fatigue floods over everyone and we all sit silently in exhausted camaraderie over plates of leftover catering. These half-day shifts end in the early afternoon, and afterwards your entire day is thrown off as passerby’s wish you “good afternoon” as you totter off to bed.

“Count the tablecoths”
“Cheers”: an upsetting, if not humorously alcoholic, example of the extreme waste created by large-scale catering – trying to finish jugs of screwdrivers and cranberry vodka

Now that summer has begun and I have returned home to Texas, I spend most of my days lazing about, alternately craving and avoiding human interaction, seeing old friends, cuddling with my cat, watching obscenes amounts of television, eating obscene amount of home cooking, and trying to review my Mandarin in preparation for my studies in Beijing this summer.

meet Fat Louie

better property details


Fantastic spacious 1 story high ceilinged house! Lots of updates: Granite counter top, new 5 burner cooktop, laminate all over the house, extended stone patio, 1 year roof, new paint in and exterior, wood window blinds, full gutter, professionally designed drapery, new dishwasher, turbo vents in attic, ceiling fan in all rooms. Excellent neighborhood schools!

Last week, the house I grew up in went up for sale. The above “property details” is what our realtor posted on the various online real estate sites for prospective homeowners to find. The above description is my childhood home commodified into marketable parts, and its prose is a little utilitarian and profoundly unfair to this remarkable house so I thought I would come up with my own more loving (read: biased but better) description:

Smaller than average house in a middling but ambitious suburb, perfect for timid immigrants with one school-age child who have little interest in hobnobbing with the neighbors. Four bedrooms, and that one child has slept, napped, and jumped on the beds in every single one of them. Only the closet of one, however, contains the corpses of childhood monsters, the three hangmen from The Sixth Sense who cried out with their eyeballs lolling, the Wicked Witch of the West who stole shoes, and their leader, a bleeding, life-size Jesus who wasn’t crucified properly in an East Texas wax museum. There aren’t quite enough bathrooms, especially when the new housecat the teenager had begged seven years for commandeered the bathtub as his hunting ground until he became brave enough to venture into the backyard. And the yards have seen quite a lot of death. There was a young rabbit that was accidentally murdered by the cat who tried to bring it back into the house as a gift, but more importantly, several trees have been unceremoniously hacked down for the sake of the all-important god, Foundation. The big-leafed one in the front is gone, and along with it, its shade. It has since been replaced by the current dinky one with spindly branches. The driveway is missing the pear tree the grandfather planted thirteen years ago, and although that tree was the only way the mother could find her way to our garage when driving down a row of identical houses, it was uprooted when it grew too tall. Its trunk has been memorialized into three wooden bowls. There was also a persimmon tree; it disappeared one summer and the returning college student is not sure what happened to it, but it was probably a sacrificial lamb as well. Two beautiful pomegranate bushes face each other. One is over-eager and produces hundreds of heavy pomegranates every September that no one can finish and are forcefully gifted to friends or left to rot. The other has bore a grand total of three fruit in the thirteen years it has squatted pretentiously in its landscaping. One Christmas, the dad reluctantly climbed onto the roof to affix the necessary festive lights, and he was scared shitless. Christmas lights have not graced this house since that winter. The kitchen is spacious, and thank goodness for that because the air there is thick with the lingering shrillness of family screaming matches made courtesy of the failure of recipes, or, more commonly, the failure of expectations. The pantry door has charted the heights of an undergrown child: the markings begin with such promise, but they eventually level off in 2008 a good inch below the line labeled “mommy.” These lines will of course be begrudgingly painted over in due time to make room for, hopefully, a taller child. Finally, the difficult to match, but economical granite counter tops in the kitchen and equally economical laminate flooring in the house are a product of years of saving and represent for you, dear future homeowner, the climb up the suburban social strata. Purchase this property, and you will have a head-start on your friends (although not your neighbors, but you don’t talk to them remember?).