Vanishing Point: Fuzzy Cardi and Cat Skirt

Cardigan, Forever 21 | Cowlneck, DKNY | Skirt, Persunmall |Shoes, Keds | Earrings, Claire's
Photos by Alura Chung-Mehdi, Sarah Ditton, and me

I feel myself slipping, so I hold on tighter. 

It's a Saturday night on campus. As several of my peers gyrate to pounding music in dark, crowded rooms full of sweaty, inebriated bodies, my floor and I instead decide to play a pick-up ping-pong tournament in the student center. 

The problem? It was just hours after my race, and I was in no shape to walk after giving it my all. 

So my friends carry me--literally. 

I become the most cumbersome backpack they have ever borne--we teeter down the stairs and fumble out the door. The piggyback ride givers rotate. Then we trek across the brightly-lit sidewalks, laughing loudly and freely. I somehow manage not to fall, and my transporters somehow manage not to let go--the much greater feat. We create a bizarre scene, but it doesn't bother me. Minus my raging peroneal tendon, I couldn't be happier.

It's been years since I'd had a piggyback ride. But more importantly, it's been ages since I'd felt at home in a group of people. For as long as I remember, I've floated between very different clusters of friends, never really belonging to a single one--sometimes my closest friends didn't even like each other. 

But this year, it's been different. Since opting out of room draw and joining the Asian culture house, I've never felt more resonance--even among such vastly different souls. We struggle on homework together in the common room, we chat over meals in the dining hall, we support each other at performances, we roar over Cards Against Humanity on late weekend nights. From being carried across campus to watching the blood moon against a canvas of twinkling stars, I know I'll hold these fond moments close to my heart for a long time.

It makes me melancholy, however, to think that I may never see these people again after this year. If I study abroad two semesters next year, the juniors will be off and graduated by the time I return as a senior. 

The ephemeral nature of most human relationships has bothered me for quite some time. Classmates, teammates, teachers--they walk in and out of our lives, just as we often walk in and out of theirs. And sometimes even the closest of friends drift away, becoming strangers. As I scroll through my instagram feed, I feel wistful upon seeing the snippets of once-tangible lives that are now so foreign. 

But we keep moving forward. We can't hold on to everything, or we'd be spread so thin. And as evidenced by my 9-year friendship with someone states away, those who truly want to adventure with us on this expedition of life will stay by our side.

I'm not sure if my floor will stay in touch after we disseminate into the real world, or if our bonds will simply vanish into the past--but I do know that I'm happy to be where I am now, and I'll savor it as long as it lasts.
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Style Inspiration Sets Ft. Yoins

Fall Style #1

Fall Style #2

Summer Style

Affiliate links to follow

Before selecting items from a sponsor, I scour their website as if I'm making the purchase myself. The upside? I often incorportate the pieces, such as this cat sweater and tulle skirt, into my everyday wardrobe, sporting them well beyond the collaboration.

The downside? Too many choices, and outfits that could've been. For my upcoming collaboration with Yoins, I ultimately settled on this cozy sweater and t-shirt dress. But this zebra sweater ($24), human sweatshirt ($23), pineapple co-ord ($14), or ruched dress ($14) were all also solid options.

Here's how I would've styled them, given an endless budget. I did my best to incorporate affordable pieces that I would actually purchase on my own, but since this is hypothetical, a girl can dream, right?

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Fall Florals: Flower Crown and Printed Skater Dress

Dress, Target | Button down, Goodwill | Oxfords, DSW | Flower crown, Forever 21

As the air outside becomes more crisp, I welcome the fluttering colors that descend to blanket the ground. I ecstatically reach for cozy sweaters and color-coordinated layers in the morning. I savor my steaming mug of peppermint tea each day. 

I lament, however, the sun's early retire, the bone-chilling wind, the foreboding signs of melancholy winter. I yearn to feel the sun's radiant warmth on my skin, run barefoot through the lush green grass, dance with the gentle breeze in a flowy dress. Fall is beautiful decay, but it's still decay. 

So I'll continue to carry this little piece of summer, this flower crown, with me throughout each season. Even if the outdoors are gloomy, these blossoms will rest cheerily on my head, a reminder of the dormant season that will awaken once again.

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Remix: Mint Skater Dress

mint skater dress ways to style
Original post for outfit on right
mint skater dress outfit
mint skater dress outfit
Dress, Forever 21 | Scarf, gift | Top, thrifted Target | Shoes, Forever 21 | Belt, Forever 21

As I inch closer and closer to the professional world, I've begun to wonder how my wardrobe will transform--will the days of Mickey Mouse sweaters and gold sequin shorts become but a distant memory? Or will my quirky picks remain tucked away in my closet during the work week, only to emerge on the days reserved for savoring sleep and flexible agendas?

One thing's for certain: this versatile mint dress will remain a full-time member of the team. From traveling to formal occasions to everyday wear, it's served me well for years. 

Even if it is just a dress, the smallest constant in an ever-shifting world is such a comfort.

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Artsy Endeavors + Life Updates: Breaking My Half-Marathon PR by 5+ Minutes

hartford half marathon 2015
Hartford Half Marathon
hartford half marathon 2015
Post-race selfie
vase of flowers
chinese food
Miso happy
thumbs up
Thumbs up
braid with little tip
Missing the days of the braid
bridge vanishing point
Vanishing point

Friday. I finish classes and retire to my dorm. I pack, unpack, and repack. I check, double-check, and triple check that I have everything I need. Running shoes? Yes. Clothes? Good. Food? You bet. Toiletries? Mhm. Tickets? Got em. Money? Yup. Cellular device? Check. Bulky backpack in tow, I venture into the gloomy weather. At the bus station, I wait alone. This adventure is solely my own. 

A couple hours and one nauseating bus ride later, I find myself in another state. I navigate to the expo to pick up my race packet. Once I emerge from the festivities, night has already fallen. I order veggie pad thai to go, and trek across Hartford to my bed and breakfast. I eat. I surf the web. I lay out my race gear. I shower. I sleep. It's a luxury to climb into bed before 10pm. 

*                                      *                                     *

Saturday, 6:42 am. I awaken, eat instant oatmeal, get dressed. My host shows me a motivational running video. As soon as I step outside, I smile--the clear skies and cool temperatures make perfect race weather. 

I warm up to gear check. My heart flutters with happiness at the colorful sea of runners. These are my people. I do my strengthening exercises and stretch. I find the 1:50 pace group--the plan is to run just under my personal best of 1:49:31. We squeeze our way through the thousands of people to the middle front of the starting pack. 

The horn sounds, and I run. I run because I can, because my body is healthy and able. I run because it's cleansing; to-do lists and worries fade away with each rythmic step. I run because it's empowering to push past my arbitrary ideas of possible. I run because it makes me happy, because it gives me purpose. 

Miles 1-2, I stick with my pace group. By mile 3, I've pulled away. I run faster and faster because I feel good, and I continue to run faster even when tight muscles and shortness of breath decide to join me. Each time I feel like surrendering to exhaustion, I remind myself that I'm so blessed to be racing again. I smile big and pick up the pace. My 8:21 mile splits become 8:08, then sub-8. By mile 11, I realize that I can break 1:45 if I run the last 2.1 miles in 16 minutes (7:37/mile). I dig in.

At 1:44:03, five minutes and twenty-three seconds faster than my previous best, I cross the finish line. 

*                                   *                                    *

Today, my body hurts, but my soul is happy.

The Hartford Half Marathon feels like a dream--I still can't believe that after almost three months away from running (due to injury), less than three months of training, and only 2 running workouts a week (I cross-trained the other 4), I broke my PR by 5+ minutes, averaging 7:57/mile for 13.1 miles.  

When I was diagnosed with a stress reaction last spring, I was devastated. I didn't understand why it was in God's plan for me to miss another race--I'd been training so diligently for my second attempt at a full marathon. We were just over two weeks out from the race, and I had even completed my last long training run of 20 miles. I was already upset enough that knee tendonitis had foiled my first try in the fall, and I felt even worse that I had to let go of the second time that close to my goal. I didn't get it then. 

Now, I do. Without this challenge, I would've never tackled a triathlon. I would've never gotten a running gait analysis to discover my strength imbalances and biomechanic shortcomings. Because of my injury, I've learned to run stronger, happier, and more efficiently. 

A single personal victory will not cure everything. One successful race in ideal conditions will not erase all of life's stresses and incongruencies. 

But this race is evidence that injuries, unfortunate events, setbacks--they don't have to be the end. If I use them as an impetus to re-evaluate and to improve, they can almost be a blessing. 

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