Taipei, Taiwan Landmarks (Taipei 101 and Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial)Walking Across the Streets of Taiwan

Bamboo and Fish in Taiwan Market

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. ~Ansel Adams

Oh, Taiwan.

Taiwan often leaves me speechless.  So today I will allow photography to take the place of my words.  These photos are the first set from my trip there earlier this year in August.  There was purple rice, chicken feet and chicken heads, and enough food to keep me salivating and eating for eons!

Most of today’s post are from Longtan, my mother’s hometown.  (More photos/food photography after the jump!) Continue reading ‘Taiwan – Travels! (Installation Nº 1)’


Taiwanese Donut and Flatbread BreakfastMy trip to Taiwan was amazing.

Usually, trips back to Taiwan consist mostly of hanging out and eating with friends in Taipei.  This time, family was priority.  In exploring the village-grown-city of Longtan where my mother grew up, I learned a lot about my family and heritage.  For instance, I got to explore the elementary school where my great grandfather had been the principal and my grandfather was once a student (and then, later, followed in his father’s footsteps in becoming the principal).  The same elementary school my mother attended as a child and, where, today, my cousin is enrolled as a 5th grader.

Kind of cool, don’t you think?

In any case, this is just a teaser entry– there are nearly 600 photos taken in ten days that must be processed before I can post them!

It’s been one of those years.  One of those years that’s so full that it feels like a thousand years jammed into a single, simple 365-day run.

So full that I don’t know where to begin.

I’ll just start somewhere and see where it ends up.

After all, that’s how most stories begin.

Trees in Napa (Cuvaison)

Forget the eloquence.  This entry is just a jumbled mound of text and emotions and confusion.  As usual.

So let’s begin.  My grandmother passed away last Friday.  In some ways, it was shocking.  It other ways, it was not.  I was never particularly close with my grandmother, mostly because of language and distance barriers.  She lived in Taiwan and spoke mostly Japanese or Hakka, while I live in the States, rarely go back to Taiwan, and can only speak English, Chinese, and pidgin Spanish.  She had been weak for years, requiring surgery after surgery, and she would lose her breath mid-sentence, stopping during conversations on the phone because she was too tired.

Her death wasn’t expected, but it was not unexpected. Continue reading ‘Of Life, Death, and Ginger Beer’

Croque MonsieurI’m lost.  Freedom is odd.  I don’t like being idle, and I kept myself accordingly busy throughout highschool, college, and law school.  Even during my time off between, I’d spend 4-5 days a week playing volleyball in the evenings after work.

Now I’m at a loss.  My life was completely consumed the past few months (nay, past three years!), and now that it has all abruptly come to an end, I kind of don’t know what to do with myself.


It’s not like I built up much of a life outside of law school– most hobbies/interests/people fell by the wayside.  Now that I have time, I want to go back, but I’m not really sure where to start.  (Aside from the perpetual job hunt, of course.)

One of the things I promised myself I’d do was learn some French (Parlez-vous français?  Je ne parle pas français.).  Another is to update this blog more often.  And what better way to do it than a post about a French classic? Croque MonsieurThat, plus I had crusty bread from Tartine that I had bought the day before.  What could be more perfect?

Continue reading ‘Croque Monsieur (with Tartine Bread)’



Tartine Morning Bun HappinessFor the first time in recent history, my stress levels have dropped below critical, and I can begin breathing again!

In other words, I have finally completed the Bar.  It was a horrible three days, but they were spent among nearly 2000 friends and fellow exam takers, and we all made it through together.

Congratulations on completing the Bar.  Now it’s time to celebrate! (Thus, the above photo of a morning bun, fresh out of the oven, taken at Tartine in the Mission). Continue reading ‘Happiness!’

How I eat when I don't want to study (duck confit, brussels sprouts, cornbread, and wine)Actually, I lie.  This is how I ate in early July when I didn’t want to study.  Duck confit, brussels sprouts, cornbread (it was the 4th of July, I think, and I had a hankering for cornbread), and a nice Bordeaux.  Oh yum.

Now that it’s mid-July and there are just seven (7?!) short days before the Bar, I’ve been too freaked out to do anything but eat cereal.  Delicious cereal, mind you, but . . . cereal nonetheless.

(Ok, I’m lying there, too.  I had Vietnamese food today.  I don’t eat too shabby, even though I spend 90% of my day hiding in the library.  And I even made it to Safeway yesterday– amazing, I know. )

This is going to be my last post before I drop completely into oblivion.  The California Bar, in all its three day splendor, is about to take me by the brain and rattle me about like some poor, defenseless doll.  It’s taken its toll on me, for sure– I’ve started drawing things like THIS.

The line between sanity and insanity is a fine one, and I fear I may have grazed a little too closely these past few weeks.  (My room looks sort of like a Beautiful Mind . . . but worse.  And not so genius.)  But it is almost over!  I am ready for freedom.  Just imagining the last day when we pour out of that room, blinking in the bright light of the sun that we haven’t seen in so long (oh wait, considering I live in San Francisco, that probably won’t happen).


Good luck, fellas~


Aicha - Grilled Merguez and Kefta Tangine

I was in the library for ten straight hours yesterday.  Today, it was seven hours.  If this trend continues, by the end of the week, I will have spent more hours in the library over the course of this week than I have all 3L year.  Maybe all of 2L year.

What that says about my study habits, I leave up to you.

So yesterday, a day of constitutional law (and a dabble of professional responsibility) later, I emerged, grungy, exhausted, and starving.

My friend P and I have an arrangement to eat at least one meal together a week– we keep each other sane, reminisce about happier days, and try not to talk about studying for the bar too much.  (To varying degrees of success.  My life is 100% bar study, so there really isn’t much else going on in my life.)

So yesterday, we dropped off our books, tried to look semi-presentable, and hiked up Polk Street to get Moroccan food at Aicha. Continue reading ‘Study Break: Moroccan (Aicha, Polk Street, San Francisco)’

Stars-- Happy Fourth of JulyHappy Fourth of July, everyone!  Or, as I like to imitate a drunken fool yelling on our Independence Day in D.C. once, long ago: “Happy For Your Life!”

It was 1996, and my family had just moved to Washington, D.C.  As newly arrived residents to the great state of Maryland (from Alabama by way of Texas, North Carolina, and New Jersey . . .), we had the bright idea to wander into the city with a baby (my brother was not yet a year old at the time) into the horrendously oppressive heat that is trademark to the capital.  Tired of the throngs of tourists, we found a spot under a cherry blossom tree around the Tidal Basin, and set down to wait.

A few meters behind us was a group of people who were clearly enjoying their holiday with copious amounts of alcohol.  Soon, we heard one man singing loudly . . .  Happy for your LIFE!  HAPPY for YOUR life!  HAPPY!  FOR!  YOUR!  LIFE!!

My brothers and I, bored from sitting for hours waiting for the fireworks to start, loved it.  The man finally managed to jump into the Tidal Basin, singing and practicing his breast stroke the entire time.  A couple policemen eventually fished him out.  He sang the entire way.  I can still hear him, loud and clear, in the faded pictures of my memory.

This is my first Fourth of July spent in San Francisco.  It’s beautiful out today, but much as I wish I could be out and about, celebrating, my plans this year don’t involve drunken fools or hilarity in the form of jumping into the bay or the ocean (much to my chagrin).  Instead, I, like most of my fellow bar takers, am finding that butt prints really do appear in chairs if you sit in them too long without getting up.

For all of you (“us,” I suppose) who are hitting that wall and freaking out– I can offer only the best wishes and luck.  It’s all about perspective.  The end of this road is rapidly approaching, and our lives can soon begin again.  May you be able to persevere and make it through this marathon to the very end.


And I’ll see you on the other side.  We can be drunken fools and jump into the bay together.

My dad said the drunkard wasn’t really yelling “happy for your life,” rather, he was trying to say “Happy Fourth of July,” but was too drunk to be able to enunciate otherwise.  Either way, it was one of my most memorable  Fourth of July memories.  And I’ll leave you with that–  be happy for your life.  It can be painful sometimes, but . . .  in the end, you’re here.  Might as well make the best of it.

Happy Fourth.



Your present plans are going to succeed within the year.Got this fortune in my cookie on Saturday.  I might need to frame it and hang it up in my room somewhere to keep me going.

I wonder how accurate it is– one of my current plans is to marry a multi-millionaire (or was it billionaire?).   😀  I wonder . . .  If you are reading this, future billionaire-husband, I am here! *waves*  Let’s get hitched!

[Insert cricket chirp.]

… or maybe not.

Continue reading ‘“Your present plans are going to succeed within the year.”’

Carrot Ham RisottoRisotto is the ultimate comfort food.  The smooth and chewy texture of rice cooked to plump perfection in a thick, starchy sauce flavored with a light hint of spices and cheese is heaven.  When a large pot of risotto is slowly simmering on the stovetop with an aroma chock full of flavors just waiting to hit your tastebuds . . . Mmm!

Ambrosia, the food of the gods, must have been a type of risotto.

When I finished class one day last week in chilly San Francisco, I wanted something to both fill my stomach as well as warm me up from the cold trek home.  Despite having lived in California for three years and attending school hear, this is my first full summer spent in SF.  Although I’ve heard it never gets hot here, you don’t really understand the weather until you wander out in the June fog with fleece sweaters on and scarves wrapped around your neck.  I’ll be honest. I’ve never experienced a June this cold before.  My parents report temperatures in the 90s and rising back home.

Yeah.  That’s not happening here.

In any case, I was in desperate need of something to eat that hot and delicious– and a departure from my recent string of sandwich-making.  I can really only take so much ham and cheese and bread before I go insane.

Carrot and ham risottoWhen I was living in Europe, one of the dishes I would make all the time was risotto.  And I’d like to think that I’ve perfected my technique.

Why did I make risotto, instead of just cooking “regular” rice?  This is a rather shameful admission, but I don’t know how to make rice.**  I can make a bomb risotto, but without a high-tech rice cooker, I have no idea how to make your everyday, plain, run-of-the-mill white rice. I end up with the wrong water:rice ratio and either have soup (potentially delicious, by the by) or funky-looking white grains that stick to everything.


**(Yeah, I’m a bad Asian.  I don’t eat rice often, and a 10 lb bag that friends finish within a month lasts me for . . .  Um, let’s just say that I’m glad that rice keeps for years.  I think.  I hope!)

As you may know, I am currently studying for the California Bar.  It’s a three-day marathon exam consisting of eight total essays and 200 multiple choice questions.  From now until July 26, I shall be whipping my brain into shape.  Criminal law!  Property law!  Contracts!  The Constitution!  Various procedural subjects!

Oh joy.

Don’t envy what I have to cram into my head during the next month and a half.  But do envy what I’ll be eating between now and then!  Here’s the recipe.

Continue reading ‘In which Jeanne stops studying and makes risotto’