Seascapes: Latest Writings + Ribbon Tie Floral Navy Dress

Shoreham-by-Sea, UK
ribbon tie dress outfit
ribbon tie dress outfit
navy floral ribbon tie dress outfit
blogger beach outfit
shoreham by sea beach
Dress, sponsored by eShakti (no longer available, similar here) | Shoes, Primark | Sunglasses, random store in Marseille, France
Portait shots by Yihao

I received this dress from eShakti in exchange for an honest review. I've worked several times with them over the years, and I've always been impressed by their selection of retro/vintage charm as well as the quality of their pieces. 

Another perk: you can customize any of the items for an extra $9.95, from exact measurements to collar style and sleeve length. It's always disappointing to find a gorgeous piece in-store that doesn't fit quite right. Or to order something online that doesn't work at all. I had neither of those problems with this dress. In previous years, the company has even reached out to me if something seems off with the measurements I submit.

 Feel free to browse their website or check out more customer-submitted photos on instagram.

I've been MIA again, for good reason. 

I returned to the States in late June after 10 months abroad. Since then, I've been overcoming reverse culture shock, working full-time with a math research group, and writing reflections on study abroad.

Instead of sharing my usual ramblings on this blog, I'm leaving you with a couple links to my most recent writings on other websites.


On Thank You for the Tragedy, a site curating romantic tragedy memoirs: 
Best By: Study Abroad
illustration by George Liu

"I would rather love recklessly and suffer than remain safely aloof."

In this personal essay, I reflect on my previous relationship. Because of study abroad, our romance essentially had an expiration date. This is a story that takes me across countries and through months of pondering. I'm incredibly proud of this memoir, and it would mean the world to me if you gave it a read. 


On Beyond the Bubble, the Amherst College study abroad blog:
radcliffe camera st. mary's church view

"I went abroad naively hoping to "find myself"; it seemed instead that I was losing myself."

Half narrative, half reflection, this piece shares the biggest surprises of the year. It also links to some of my other writings on study abroad. Through this essay, I was able to find a bit of closure to such a jarring and resonant adventure.
Until next time,
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Piece by Piece: Vintage Velvet Top + Reflections

vintage velvet top outfit
vintage velvet top outfit
vintage velvet top outfit
Velvet top, vintage market | Button-down, thrifted | Skirt, Forever 21
Photos by Yihao and Esse

It’s been a month and a half.

1.5 months, and my calluses have smoothed over, no longer a distraction from my ragged nails.

1.5 months, and the physical traces of a 10-year passion have faded away.

The skin on my left fingertips looks so foreign when so smooth. The delicate lines of my fingerprints are now discernible, no longer disfigured by the arduous hours of waltzing upon vibrating silver strings.

My violin case sits in the nook between my desk and wardrobe, upright and unobtrusive. My music stand has become a makeshift clothes rack, often adorned with a summer top or silky chemise.

I forget they’re there sometimes. I barely recall the deep resonance that fueled the countless rehearsals, the daily screech sessions, that whole decade of my life. And sometimes, I even forget that all of this was once indispensable.

I would’ve been appalled in another life; another Lily wouldn’t have approved.

She wanders into my dreams sometimes, orchestrating nightmares. Violin is no longer part of my reality, but it consumes my sleep world. I struggle through rehearsals, I arrive at important auditions having not practiced in months…

I awaken unsettled. Yet I still feel no inspiration to play again.

She used to fantasize about her life without violin. What would it be like to regain the weekly 10-15 hours of rehearsal and personal practice? What would it be like to be able to attend the events that always conflicted with orchestra? 

She brushed the thoughts away. Violin was part of who she was, or at least who she thought she should be.

But I was ready for a change. During a brawl with my parents on postgraduation plans, I realized that external expectations too often directed my life. So this time, I took charge.

I realized the ideas I had entertained but had suppressed: I got my helix pierced. I cut and dyed my hair (photos before this change). I gave up violin--and took up other creative pursuits.  

Will I pick my instrument up again? The answer is indefinite. All I know is this: piece by piece, I'm constructing who I want to be, and that’s enough for now.
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P.S. We've just launched the project I mentioned in my previous post--please take a gander at Thank You for the Tragedy, a vision for a collection of atypical love essays. It's a chance for personal love tragedies to become catharsis and resonance. We're calling for creative writers and hope you'll contribute and spread the word!

Also, apologies for my absence in my normal blogroll--I'll catch up on my reading as soon as I can!

Forever Fleeting: Life Lately + CaseApp Review

Disclaimer: I received two ipad mini cases from CaseApp in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
caseapp personalized ipad case
Long ago, I accepted a collaboration with CaseApp, an online store with premade and custom phone/ipad cases.

I ordered two ipad mini cases: one premade, with a dust pink and marble pattern, and the other custom, with instagram photos from my semester in France.

Then life happened, and this review post didn't (oops!). In the last three months, I:

  • finished my first term at Oxford
  • went back to France for a month to travel solo and complete a personal language immersion challenge; I spoke English only twice, once during a call with my bank, and another time during an interview
  • saw my family for the first time since August
  • accepted a math research internship with my advisor at Amherst
  • returned to Oxford for my final term abroad
Each experience is much more nuanced and complex than a bullet point can express, so stay tuned for my melodramatic storytelling in the coming months.

In the meantime, however, here's this well-postponed review: 

Aesthetics--5/5: This is definitely CaseApp's strong point; designs are ultra-hip, ranging from dainty leaf patterns to artsy watercolor. The customization option also has several trendy sticker options, such as block quotes and pineapples.

Delivery--5/5: I received the cases within a week with standard RoyalMail delivery. They came in an envelope, but well-protected in bubble wrap.

Quality--3.5/5: The cases are not for those who frequently drop their devices (aka me). My usual ipad mini case (pictured below), is thicker and has cushioned several falls. These cases offer some protection, but are definitely flimsier and are more for the look. 

Selection--3/5: I would've liked to see different styles of cases, rather than the standard snap-on. For instance, my current case as a magnetic cover that can be folded back into a stand, which is integral for me (for my youtube core workout videos haha). Sticky9, for instance, offers personalized covers like that, but not an actual case. It would be the perfect combo of practical and stylish to combine the two! Otherwise, more protective but still aesthetically-pleasing options would also be a good idea. 

Overall impression:
  • sleek premade designs
  • free, quick standard delivery to country of site (there are UK and US sites, for instance)
  • custom design true to online simulator
  • custom cases equal price to premade designs
  • can overlay personalization to premade designs
  • rather pricey--each case ranges from $30-40 (or £19 upwards; my cases were £25 each)
  • not incredibly sturdy
  • site design feels somewhat primitive

If you have questions about my experience with CaseApp, don't hesistate to ask!

If life allows, I'll be back soon for my typical rambling. I also have a couple final announcements:
  • I'm planning to launch another site soon, and will share details in a future post! It's still in the works, but it will involve contributors around the world.
  • The illustrator for said site-in-works is interning at Refigural, a digital quarterly of up-and-coming artists, which will be releasing its first print edition next month--you can get more details at their kickstarter page. The pocket issue costs $24, can be shipped anywhere in the world, and will feature work from Logan Jackson, Parker Day, √Čtienne Saint-Denis, Jesse James Johnson and interviews with The Tan Mom, Rock of Love's Heather Chadwell, Soul Legend Gloria Ann Taylor, and other exclusive content. 

Until next time!

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