In which I try to be fashionable, part 2

This summer, I interned at Nordstrom, a chain of clothing stores. Not just any clothing stores, but high-end, luxury department stores that sells the latest trends and finest designer goods.

So, despite being in tech, I still see some very fashionable people at work.

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This wouldn’t do. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not very fashionable. If I was to work at a company that hopes to be the fashion authority, I had to step up my game.

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There was only one problem.

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I don’t know how to match clothes. I don’t know what fits me. I have no idea how to put an outfit together. I’ve gotten away with it at work by wearing dresses, like, all the time. It’s just one item and I don’t have to think about it!

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There was only one thing to do.

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I’ve used Pinterest in the past to brainstorm art and photography ideas. Why couldn’t it work for fashion?

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All the outfits I found seemed designed for those gorgeous, long-legged models who you could dress in a garbage bag and still make it work. My body type is a little less forgiving.

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It was time for more research. 

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I started reading the female fashion advice subreddit.

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I got a headache trying to process all of it.

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It was time for the next step.

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I enlisted the help of my fashionable friend from LA. We ended up going to Nordstrom (intern discount, yay!) where she encouraged me to find my own personal style.

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It was a 180 from my previous shopping experiences with my family.

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So this was a totally new, self-empowered approach to shopping.

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And at the end of the night, I actually bought clothes. That I actually liked. And they were on sale!

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Emboldened by my success, I decided that it was time to step it up.

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This time, I enlisted the help of three friends to help me shop. Three times the people, three times the success, right?

And three times the volume, it seems.

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It kind of became a dress up game for my friends.

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But it worked! In the end, I found a bunch of clothes I liked and bought even more. (I had a gift card that I needed to spend, so I didn’t even feel bad about it!)

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I couldn’t believe it. My coworkers noticed my sudden change in clothes. Even my mom approved of my new look.

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Then, my quest for fashion peaked with one friend’s invite:

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A what?

So there’s this clothing line called Cabi that has an interesting business model. Basically, Cabi stylists host these “fashion experiences” where the stylist will walk you through that season’s Cabi clothes. Then, you can try on the clothes samples, get fit and style advice, and order any pieces you like. The idea is to have an intimate setting where you and your girlfriends can drink wine, eat snacks, and shop for trendy clothes with a professional stylist.

I didn’t even know something like that existed. It was, again, a totally new experience for me.


Yeah. I know nothing about fashion. I’m not girly. I don’t even like shopping. The whole affair was way outside my comfort zone.  Not to mention that I was probably the youngest person there– Cabi seems to be more popular with the middle-aged crowd.

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After the stylist presented all the clothes, we were given the chance to try them on.

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Might as well just go for it, right? I started picking random items from the rack and trying them on. Much to the delight of the middle-aged ladies around me.

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The stylist helped me out.

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Believe it or not, though, the stylist was super helpful! She gave honest advice and never pressured anyone into purchasing clothes– even telling people not to buy if she thought the piece didn’t fit. With her help, I ended up finding some clothes that I really liked! I asked the stylist if I could place an order.

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I felt bad for the stylist, but damn! I had paid for next semester’s tuition that morning. I did not have that money to spare.

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My friend rescued me.

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I ended up buying just a skirt. At a steep discount. Because I’m still in grad school, goddammit!

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In the end, though, I’d say this summer was a success! For the first time, I actually tried to learn how to dress myself. My coworkers have been very entertained by my quest for fashion.

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Deep down, though, I think my clothing preferences have remained the same.

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Sorry, mom– the sports shorts and tank tops aren’t going away anytime soon.

Super Sweet! And The Liebster Award, part 2


CRAZIER NEWS: Some people actually like it????

At any rate, I was given the honor of getting the Liebster Award again by Middle-Aged Co-ed! For those who don’t know, the Liebster Award is a blog-meme chain-letter thing where bloggers tag each other, answer some questions, and then pass it along to other bloggers. While not a real award, the Liebster is a great way to spread the love to lesser-known blogs! And I’m highly flattered to be nominated again.

I’ve also been given the Super Sweet Award from Kindredspirit23! Whoa, two in quick succession– I feel so loved!

Anyway, now I’m supposed to answer the questions that were given to me. I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of these blog-tag things lately… well, I’ll try to make it as amusing as possible. Here goes:

Liebster Questions

1. If you were a book, what genre would you be?

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Just kidding. My book would be something closer to It’s Not My Fault I’m Not Popular!

2. If you were a book, who is your author?

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If I was an awesome book, Markus Zusak would be my author. Though, with my luck, I’d be written by E.L. James or someone instead. Except that I don’t engage in bondage. So maybe not.

3. Where in the world would you travel if time and money were unlimited?

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4. Your favorite food in the world is…

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5. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream (please don’t say vanilla!)?

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That’s an actual thing. I’ve only ever had it once, but DAYUM is it tasty!

6. What’s your favorite season and why?

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Dude, those tight skinny jeans are uncomfortable.

7. Name the teacher that most deeply affected your life.

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Not to say I haven’t had some really awesome, intelligent, and effective teachers. I had a ballin’ World History teacher in my sophomore year, this incredible calculus teacher all three years of high school, and a very witty AP Chem teacher. All my high school English teachers were also incredibly passionate and great.

But if we’re talking about…

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Yeah… it didn’t happen.

8. The most important quality in a friend is…

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If you can tolerate my weirdness, anything is game.

9. Describe your comfy clothes.

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10. Do you prefer it warm or cool in the room when you sleep?

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11. What would the title of your autobiography be?

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Super Sweet Questions:

1. Cookies or cake?

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2. Chocolate or vanilla?

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3. Favorite sweet treat?

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4. When do you crave sweet things the most?

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5. Sweet nickname?

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Ok so that’s not a nickname. WHATEVER

And that’s that. Now, for some blogs I happen to enjoy:

1. Mister G Kids

2. Pieces of my randomness

3. This Japanese Life

4. The Nomad Grad

5. The 99 Cent Chef

Thanks again to kindredspirit23 and Middle-Aged Co-ed!

Got any blogs you happen to like? Share them in the comments below! (Seriously, though, I’m looking for new blogs to follow, so, like, drop me a line if you know something good.)


I’mma tantalize your tastebuds, Japan style

I have no free time here. It’s past one in the morning already, and I have class tomorrow.  Between class and touring and hanging out with our Japanese friends and homework and my god… everything, I have not been able to blog. I feel awful about it, and I have to apologize– I don’t think I’ll be able to blog about to Japan until, well, I return from Japan on the 20th. I have so many stories to tell, and I want them to be good– is that okay?

Until then, please enjoy these photos of food I’ve been eating here. Hopefully they last until I can write about my experiences in full!

Donuts at a Mr. Donut in Tokyo.

Eel (unagi) at a sushi shop next to Tsukiji Fish Market.

Chankonabe, a traditional dish associated with sumo wrestling.

A green tea bagel.

Okonomiyaki, a type of savory cabbage pancake, in Kyoto.

A cake at a bakery in Sapporo Staion.


Pancakes at an adorable cafe near our host university.

Takoyaki from a truck by our host university.

Sushi at a conveyor belt sushi shop in Otaru.

A hamburger steak in Furano.

So it might not be soon– but I will blog about the crazy places and things and people I’ve been able to experience here in Japan! For now– I hope this is enough.


I depart tonight! In the meantime, I’ve been blog-tagged.

I am departing for Japan.


So I won’t be able to make a new post for a little while, I think. The hostel we’re staying at in Tokyo doesn’t have free wi-fi, so my access to internet will be limited.

For now, though, I’ve been blog-tagged by notlateone! (Who everyone should go check out, by the way– she’s a brilliant writer.)

So please entertain yourself with this little filler-post while I spend some time sans-internet. (No internet?! Inconceivable!)


The Rules:

1. Post the rules

2. Post 11 random things about yourself (optional):

3. Answer the questions the tagger posted for you in their post.

4. Create 11 new questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.

5. Go to their blog and tell them that they’ve been tagged.

Eleven Random Facts About Me:

1. For those who don’t know– I’m Vietnamese and proud!

2. My high school housed about 3,200 kids– and that was only the sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Our school wasn’t big enough to fit in the freshman. My graduating class was just over 1,000 kids.

3. The username I use for almost everything– comicsmaniac, comixmaniac, or variations thereof– I actually came up with in 2nd grade, while playing Neopets. 11 years later, it’s still relevant.

Although this I drew in 2008.

4. I really do have a good smattering of freckles, which is highly unusual for an Asian. It’s from a combination of sun exposure and unlucky genetics.

Gosh darn it, you!

5. Despite loving comics so much, the one genre I just can’t get into is superhero comics. Time and time again I’ll pick up a superhero comic and read it, but I’ll never get into it. Maybe I’ll try again soon.

6. I glare without meaning to, especially while 1. studying 2. playing video games and 3. walking around outside when it’s sunny. When I was in elementary school, teachers would stop me in the halls and ask me if everything was okay. At my parent-teacher conference in 5th grade, my teacher urged me to smile more. Man, did I look that depressed?

7. Once upon a time in my junior year of high school, I joined the boys’ tennis team. Long story. Perhaps I’ll write a post about it sometime.

8. I ended up going to my university, Northeastern, based on pure and coincidental chance. My best friend took a tour of Northeastern during my senior year and returned with rave reviews. I ended up applying on a whim, and, lo and behold, they offered me a good scholarship. NU wasn’t even on my radar before– but now, I’m here! And very thankful for it.

NU from the sky!

9. For someone who really likes video games, I really suck at shooters. One time when I tried to play Call of Duty, I ended up just falling off cliffs the whole time and dying. Additionally, for someone who really likes video games, I really haven’t played that many. I have an extensive list of games that I’d like to play, but have never found the time to get around to. (Including: Bioshock, God of War, Skyward Sword, Xenoblade Chronicles, Uncharted, Mass Effect, and many, many more.) For those reasons, I don’t consider myself a real “gamer.”

10. If it wasn’t for my girly sister, I would have been a huge tomboy. I wasn’t fashion-conscious until my junior year of high school, I didn’t start wearing makeup (despite the urging of my mother) until the end of my senior year, and I still don’t have my ears pierced. My family often tells me that I dress like a hobo.

11. I have an acute lack of common sense.

And here are the questions I’ve been asked! Here goes:

1. What important lessons have you learned lately?

Hmm. Perhaps how to manage my time better? Because it’s essential in college, especially given all the stuff I do.

2. Are you happy with your academic progress?

Thankfully, yes. Anyone who knows me knows that I study way too much, stress out over test scores too often, and am generally a huge, huge nerd. As a result, though, I usually get good grades.

3. How would you define your spirituality/outlook on life?

I’m not very spiritual at all. I simply wasn’t raised that way– no churches, no praying, none of that. I’ve actually always been quite the pessimist, though I should really try to think positive. HAPPY THOUGHTS!

4. What is the number one time wasting habit you have?

THERE ARE SO MANY. Tetris Battle? Reading manga? Playing video games? Staring aimlessly out the window when I should be doing work? My roommates know how much Tetris Battle I play… it’s embarrassing.

5. If you had to pick a career/major other than the one you have/are getting right now…what would it be?

Alternative dream career: Travel blogger. Done. I mean, traveling and getting paid for it? What more could I ask for?

Actually, I’d also like to be a cartoonist. That’s been my dream since I was a little kid. Perhaps one day I’ll get good enough at drawing?

6. Let’s say life throws you lemons. What do you do with them?

Don’t ask me… ask Cave Johnson. (Portal 2 reference, anyone?)

7. Have you ever been abroad? Do you want to go abroad?

I’ve been abroad to Germany! It was amazing. I’ll soon be going abroad to Japan as well.

In Frankfurt, Germany!

8. What languages do you speak?

Save English, nothing fluently. I can understand and speak a bit of Vietnamese, as I am Vietnamese. I’m currently studying Japanese. I also know the following phrases in German: “I am from the USA,” “My German is very terrible,” “How much does this cost?” and “You are my most beautiful souvenir.” (I blame my phrasebook for the last one.)

9. Name your most interesting hospital trip.

When I dislocated my left shoulder in my sophomore year of high school, I was rushed to the hospital. Before they could put my arm back into its socket, though, they had to check it with an x-ray. And before they could x-ray me, they had to make sure I wasn’t pregnant. Now imagine me, left arm swinging out of its socket, stumbling to the bathroom to pee in a cup. I understand that it’s standard procedure, but I sure didn’t enjoy it at the time.

10. What’s the best part of your life right now?

College! Blogging. My dear family and friends! And the fact that I’m about to go abroad to Japan– that too!

11. How have you changed in the past year?

Huh. Well, the past year was my first year of college, where I definitely learned to “be myself” a little more. It’s the same old song and dance– I had trouble making friends in middle school, so in high school, I was very concerned about what people thought of me. I tried to act like the person everybody liked– cheerful, nice, whatever— but it was exhausting. This year at Northeastern, then, I acted like my normal self– dry, sarcastic, moody– and still managed to make friends.  Maybe there’s hope for me after all.

And now I’m supposed to come up with 11 new questions: 

1. Where is your “dream” place to live and why?

2. What was your childhood career choice? Has it changed since then?

3. Everyone gets those non-drug related “addictions.” (like video games, facebook, and the like.) What’s yours?

4. What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?

5. Name your pet peeves.

6. What do you like the most about yourself?

7. What’s the one thing you’d like to achieve before you die? Your most important goal, that is.

8. What trait do you admire the most in others?

9. What is the most outrageous thing you have ever done?

10. What are you most proud of achieving?

11. What’s the biggest “life lesson” you’ve learned as of yet? (Man, I sound like a college application.)

As for tagging… I tag… uh, whoever wants to do it! (I really don’t know who to tag.) Seriously, though, run along and do this if you’d like! And link me so I can see your answers. 🙂