Sunday, January 29, 2012

Year of the Dragon

In January 2011, a few of my classmates decided to celebrate the New Year by jumping the fence and sneaking into Regents Park at night to light Chinese lanterns and toast with prosecco.

January 2012...we decide to make a tradition of it!  Our lanterns sailed much better this year given that it was much less windy (but equally cold!).   According to Chinese astrology, this is the year of the dragon, the mightiest of the signs.  Dragons are known for their dominance and ambition.  They live by their own rules and interestingly can feel unfilled and exhausted by their passions and enthusiasm.  I asked one of my Chinese friends how she traditionally celebrates Chinese New Year with her family.  Though different in specific traditions, there are striking similarities in how Western holidays are celebrated (great feasts, friends and family gathering, joyful greetings and optimism, parades, etc.).  I believe humans tend to overweigh the differences amongst cultures and discount the sameness.   This is an example.

I was curious to know what my Chinese zodiac sign is.  I was wanting some ferocious beast and was initially disappointed with the lackluster pig.  However, after actually reading about the character of pigs, I'm so happy I am one!!  Pigs are known for their diligence, compassion, and generosity.  They are giving souls (sometimes giving too much) and place a premium on honesty (which they expect to receive).  They have trouble asking for help (known pride issue), enjoy spending more than saving (ouch), and are astute bargain hunters (of course!).  Pigs can always be counted and are detail oriented.  And they enjoy opportunities that allow them to express their creativity.  I don't believe in astrology because I feel life circumstances and context (nurture) are as equally impactful as nature is in determining character.  However, it's hard for me to ignore how my Chinese zodiac sign perfectly nails qualities I aim for and am most proud of.   Just something to think about.

After our Chinese lanterns become specks of light in the distance and the bubbly was gone, we headed over to Berkeley Square.   My sweet friend Emily introduced me to this swanky area when we celebrated my birthday at Murano, an amazingly delicious Italian restaurant.  Another one of my friends ended up moving to this area and hosted a birthday gathering at The Only Running Footman (great pub on ground floor, two additional floors of fine dining, and an awesome chef's kitchen lounge on top floor).  If and when I land a job in London, I'm determined to settle in Berkeley Square :)

Pictures of the evening below.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

MAXimum Fun

The holidays are always spent in Texas.  Always.

I spent a few days in Houston this December.  And what trip to H-town wouldn't be complete without going to Max's Wine Dive?  Things (people) change but also stay the same.  Here are some photos from the night taken with my new 35 mm prime lens (f/1.8) for my Nikon D5000.  This lens was recommended to me by three different friends plus Ken Rockwell's  website...totally worth it! 

Blast from the past.  LOVED seeing Menges (Laura) and Zappy (Holly)

 Me with the McMasters...can't wait for them to come back to London.  It's their turn :)

Reese and me reminiscing upon ex-pat life and Speed Scrabble

And, finally, being in Texas means that I can watch TV shows on demand with big HD TV's commonly found in homes.  My sister recommended the new TV show called Once Upon a Time to Me.  I disregarded it at the beginning because I thought it was insane to have a show about fairy tales.  Then, I learned the writers of LOST wrote this series too.  You can definitely tell because Once Upon a Time is all about the characters of the show and viewing their past to see how they became the way they are.  Watch in on Sunday nights!  Though I did watch ~8 episodes via Hulu on the TV.  It was a great 5 hours!