2016

From 2015 to 2016 Externally, the transition from 2015 to 2016 coincided with major events that I am still adjusting to and trying to re-establish emotional equilibrium for. Internally, I've also been so uninspired by my day to day and itching for creativity. So after a particularly unproductive Tuesday morning (skipped class and missed dance practice, sigh), those two parallel paths have merged and compelled me to revive my once active love of typing shit on the internet blogging through Jiaxin Machine.

I'm aware it's halfway through February and that I'm a little late to do a "year in reflection" type of post, but the calendar year ending feels so trivial to me. December is one of the weirdest times for students, and it's definitely not a time where I want to be doing some long and hard thinking about where I've been and where I'm going. I'm all coked up on caffeine from finals, and then when winter break finally rolls around I'm ready to let my brain melt and do nothing. Eventually, New Year's Eve hits and that's all fun and booze, but alas, nothing really feels quite monumental just because the calendar commands it.

I've settled into 2016 a bit now though, and can definitely say that 2015 was a lot. Lots of highs, lots of lows, and of course lots of mediocre moments in between. From getting my dream job offer in Seattle to breaking up with the boy I loved for 7 years and thought I was going to marry, my heart ran in 1000 different directions in the course of what felt like a very short time. Top that with running a 200+ member student org, increasing social anxiety regarding it being senior year (am I supposed to hang out with everyone on the face of the fucking planet?), and the usual 18 credit course load, I realized that perhaps I should have started seeing the lovely counselor that has helped me re-establish equilibrium sooner.

But above all, 2015 taught me that there is no such thing as a perfect narrative, and striving for one is the silliest thing you can do because they do not exist. Whereas I thought I had forgone a perfect narrative with my grades and career and my personal life was all that I had left to my perfect story, I realized that the story in itself doesn't matter so much and no one really cares. It's okay if your story is nonlinear, ends abruptly, or just doesn't make sense. Indeed, I've realized how this narrative oriented way of living life forces you to continually look back on what's already happened, rather than embracing the objective beauty and reality of being alive every day.

So in a nutshell, 2015 was an attempt at continuing a perfect novel, realizing I was not happy despite the nice story, and then throwing the manuscripts as well as the typewriter away. But 2016 will be vastly different. I am cherishing every day and the raw joy and emotions of being alive. Maybe I'll write a few things down here and there, but alas, there is truly nothing like the present.

XO, JZ

 

Hot Asian Buns

DSC_6416 Chinatowns are a weird place for me. On one end, there is a sense of belonging even though I do not  flaunt my Asian identity. For most of my life I grew up in a very Asian household, eating a blend of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food. I often denied my roots though because of a desire to fit in with my American counterparts, so I find it quite strange when I find comfort and solace in a cultural identity I rejected for so long.

On the other end there is a fierce nostalgia, but one that feels largely out of place as it burns for a country that I visit only every couple of years. Maybe it is the connection I feel to my family rather than the place itself, but I consistently find myself feeling not only comfortable but extremely sentimental as well whenever I frequent a Chinatown.

On top of that, a whole set of different memories are triggered when I step into an Asian bakery, as I spin back into my childhood in San Francisco. Every morning before school, my mom would stop into a bakery near Alamo Elementary and get two green onion rolls for my lunch that day. While I had slightly resented not having a "normal" American lunch everyday (sandwich, juicebox, fun snacks like fruit snacks and granola bars), the memories of walking into that shop every morning with the most important woman in my life are something that I would never trade for anything. DSC_6406 DSC_6409 DSC_6401

Anniversary

First birthdayA year ago, I started The Machine as a way to share my photography and a glimpse of my life. Since then, I've gained over a hundred followers and have really grown to appreciate the blogging community. Personally, this past year has shown me immense growth as well--I finished my first year in the business school, and am now working my first summer as a full time intern. Suddenly in college, the question of "What do you want to do when you're older?" becomes far more daunting and realistic, and I feel like I have really made strides to both figure this question out and also find mechanisms to assure myself it's okay if I haven't figured it out.

Thank you to all my followers for their support--I hope that this coming year proves to be just as fulfilling for both my blog and personal goals!

 

Arnold Sports Festival

DSC_2797 The Arnold Sports Festival is one of the world's premier bodybuilding competitions, comparable to the Iron Man with its lucrative cash and car prizes. While I myself am not a bodybuilding enthusiast, there are many other sports at this celebration of fitness--including my own sport of ballroom dancing. In between dancing and freaking out about callbacks, I snapped some pictures of my teammates from the Michigan Ballroom Dance Team. There is some amazing talent on the team and I am truly fortunate to be a part of it.

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Halfway through the first day, we got a surprise visit from none other than the governator himself. I even swiped a selfie with him too. DSC_2726

Life In The Fast Lane

_DSC0088 As a student, it is so easy to get caught up in the hectic schedules we make for ourselves. We focus on what we have to do (homework, studying, meetings) and often forget what we like to do (hobbies, see friends, relax). Indeed, I frequently find myself running from a meeting to a class only to run from to another meeting later that evening.

The pace of life seems even more quick in the face of final exams. I am relieved that I have finished two exams already, but still have three ahead of me before I can savor the sweet taste of holiday cookies and freedom. Despite having important deadlines and work priorities ahead though, it is important to take time for ourselves and keep in mind what the highest priority of all is: overall physical and mental wellness. Take time out of your schedule to enjoy a glass of merlot or catch up on a favorite TV show; although it may not directly help you study, it will ensure your stress levels don't go through the roof.

Birthday

As you can see by the sudden drop from semi-frequent posts to almost nothing for a month, college has indeed started up again and I am swamped with work. Sophomore year has definitely been a lot more demanding, but I feel like I know my way around better now. I am improving upon my abilities to time manage and also embarking on new endeavors through classes like "Revolution of the Western Mind". Lots has happened since my last post (August 26th): I started the first year of the business program, joined some clubs, and namely, had another birthday! Although I didn't have a huge party or gathering, this birthday was by far the most enjoyable. I was surrounded by my family and closest friends, and also had a great dinner at Tomukun. My roommate even surprised me with a small cake and candles, which was so sweet and thoughtful.

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Sayonara

DSC_0196 I am back in China now, but my great time in Japan will be impossible to forget.

It had been five years since I had been back to see my grandma and my aunt in Osaka, and I am so blessed that I had the opportunity to take this initially unplanned trip to see them. A lot of things happen in a five year span--I had gone from an immature middle schooler to a young woman who had completed her first year of college. And in a grandmother's eyes, it's these sorts of changes that bring tears and also attest to how quickly time passes.

With that said, here is a post wrapping up my trip in Japan. I rounded up a bunch of signs of places I went to, restaurants I ate at, and also the supermarket that I frequented everyday.

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Forbidden Fruit

Growing up, I was never allowed to have any pet outside of a goldfish. My mom budged a little in middle school and let me have a guinea pig, but it ended up being quite hostile (it bit me on day one) and we never developed a great relationship. As most college housing forbids having pets, my burning desire for a little puppy  still sits unrealized. When that glorious day finally comes though, I imagine that I will take many many pictures of my dear pup--pictures very similar to these ones I took of a friend's three golden toy poodles. DSC_0056 DSC_0068 DSC_0101 DSC_0205 DSC_0053

Finals and Philly

Somehow, time passes quickly both when you're stressed and when you're happy. And alas, these past few weeks have gone by so fast! Unfortunately, I haven't been keeping up with pictures. Rest assured though--a storm of delicious food and delightful sights will be present on The Machine.

DSC_0471Rittenhouse Square--Philadelphia, PA

Why "The Machine"?

11746_10151558705203330_884196816_n My name is Jiaxin, pronounced like "Machine" but with a "J". I love all kinds of food, and am rarely seen without my camera.

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I have always had an interest in blogging, but never really did any quality blogging. I am trying to transition from a strictly photo blog with sporadic posts, to this more in-depth and broad lifestyle blog.

Inspired by blogs like Cupcakes and Cashmere and Sea of Shoes, I want to share all the great food and style that I am so fortunate to be surrounded by! I am inspired by the many things I find in Ann Arbor, and hope to have some great travel anecdotes to share as well.

Happy blogging!