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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On Modern Love

Hello my amazing readers Smile

How has your week been?

Mine is finally better, now that I finished my exam. It was a rough one, and I almost fell asleep reading my own essay responses, but it’s over!

And, as a good college student, I’m going to forget about it until I get my grades back … I’ll probably feel less relieved when that happens.

(PS: Scroll to the bottom to see what the title of this post is all about!)

My morning was occupied with last-minute cramming, but I saved just enough time to cook some brain food before I left.


Enter, sweet potato burgers with lentils and kidney beans.


I had some inspiration from Natalie at the Sweets Life (Again! I’m seriously going to make everything on her blog one day), but took my own interpretation.


To make two large patties:

  • Cook 1 small potato, about 1/2 cup mashed, sweet potato in the microwave (make two cuts in the potato, wrap in a paper towel and nuke for 4 minutes on each side)
  • Mash sweet potato with 1/4 cooked lentils and 1/4 cup kidney beans until it’s a paste consistency
  • Add in spices. I used cumin, parsley, curry powder and paprika, salt and pepper, but you can adjust to your preferences
  • Mix around some more
  • Add about 1/2 cup raw rolled oats, or just enough for the mixture to not be too sticky, but hold together
  • Form two patties and place on hot, greased skillet
  • Cook for eight minutes on each side, until browned
  • Serve with buns, bread, or naked. Top with any combination of condiments. I used sriracha and ketchup!

These burgers had a great flavor, slightly sweet but savory and spicy. I didn’t love the texture, and thought they were a little gooey, but I’m sure that adding more oats would have helped.

Definitely delicious and filling for my two-hour exam!


On my way home, I grabbed this bag of black sesame bread. I’ve been dying to try this loaf ever since I spotted it at the bakery.

I’m trying to think of something to create with them … do you guys have any ideas?

I was feeling pretty drained from the exam, but knew that some exercise would wake me up after sitting all day, so I did 30 minutes of HIIT and hit a Body Pump class afterward.

It definitely revved up my energy and my appetite.

Luckily, we went out for Vietnamese food, so someone else got to do the cooking Open-mouthed smile


Spring rolls for appetizers.


And undocumented Pho, which you’ve all seen before!


On a totally unrelated note, I don’t know if anyone has heard about the New York Times’ column on modern love. For the past three years, the Times has asked college students to submit essays in a contest on what makes modern love unique.

This year, I entered, and unfortunately was not chosen. Instead, this awesome essay by Caitlin Dewey was selected, and I definitely recommend that you read it!

I thought that the Times’ wrap-up of this year’s entries was hilarious, because it perfectly described my essay!

So even though I didn’t win the contest, I’m putting it up on this blog to share with all of you.

I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know (in the comments section), what is your opinion on modern love? Red heart


On Modern Love:

In 1981, my friend’s dad just moved to New York from Taiwan. He left behind his position in the Republic of China Marine Corps to study computer engineering at Queens College.

In that move, he also left behind his girlfriend. In those days, there were no cell phones or laptops, and he didn’t even have a phone in his room.

So every week, which was what he could afford, he used the public payphone in his dorm building to call his girlfriend in Taiwan.

Eventually, his girlfriend had enough of the long-distance situation, and broke off their relationship.

Today, it is easy to connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime around the world. These new technologies may change the way we express love, but they still don’t change how love feels. And after two long-distance relationships, I’ve realized that modern technology definitely doesn’t make long-distance easy.

In my first relationship, distance wasn’t a great factor. That relationship ended mostly because of my immaturity. I was a senior in high school and he was a freshman in college. There was an irreparable disconnect that transcended any distance.

But with my second relationship, distance was the only problem.

Before he became my boyfriend, he was my best friend. We spent the summer before college completely inseparable. Every great memory I have of that summer, our 4 a.m. trips to Dunkin’ Donuts, lighting fireworks in the park, waking up at the crack of dawn to go crabbing at the shore, include him.

At the end of those three months, college drew a curtain on our perfect summer, and brought us back to reality.

That reality meant that my best friend was moving three states, 311 miles, a 10-hour car ride, and an 8-hour train ride away.

My greatest fear was that we would drift. I’d always heard that you lose your best friends during college, and I could not imagine losing him.

So on the day he left, he came over to my house and told me to install a video-chatting program on my laptop.

“Just download the program, and we can talk anytime you want,” he assured me.

And even though I was scared his first day of college would be so eye-opening, and he would meet so many people who were cooler, smarter and prettier than me, it was still me he constantly texted throughout the day.

With every orientation, every stop at Kmart for dorm accessories, every tearful good-bye to his parents, I received a text message.

And that night, I finally heard my phone ring, and it was him. He asked if I wanted to talk on webcam, so he could show me around his room.

Obviously I said yes, but in that nonchalant way that didn’t reveal just how excited I was to hear his voice.

I logged onto my account, and hit that green telephone button next to his profile.

Over the next hour, we talked as if the distance wasn’t there. In the beginning, it was different, seeing him in that new room.

Where was his Mickey Mouse pillow from Disney? What is the view like from the window?

Those used to be things that I knew, details about his life that only I was privy to, because I was his best friend.

I think he realized how strange it was for me, so he offered to give me a tour. He showed me his bed, and then rotated his laptop a little to the right, and I saw his desk. I knew where his window and door were, where he stored his clothes and books, and saw the cement blocks of his walls.

With these details, I felt a little more comfortable with his new life, and it wasn’t so completely foreign to me.

And then, he asked me a question that sucked that comfort away.

“Hey Liv, do you like me?”

That question stopped me in my tracks. I’m not sure what I said, since all I could hear was the loud whooshing sound that comes when you’re frozen with fear.

‘Did he really just ask me that question? What am I supposed to say? I should say no, and save myself the embarrassment. What if I said yes? What would happen then?’

I think it was a while before I talked. I just remember staring at him, completely dumbfounded, embarrassed and aware that he could see my every expression through the webcam.

Because when you like someone, the way that I really liked him, and you’re not sure if that person feels the same about you, nothing is more embarrassing than when he asks if you like him.

But I knew that this person, my best friend, knew what I was thinking. And why should I be afraid of telling him the truth? If he can’t accept my feelings, then he shouldn’t be my friend.

So I took a giant breath, for courage and from fear, and said yes.

“Um … yes? Why are you asking? Do you like me?”

There was that other question. I never had the courage to ask him that before. But why not? I had already put myself out there.

And I’ll never regret that decision. Because even though I never expected a positive response, it turned out that he did like me.

So right there, in front of our computer screens, with that heart-pounding excitement and disbelief, we talked about possibly dating.

Sure, it was illogical. We were starting college in different states, where we would be making new friends, participating in new clubs and taking a full course load. We would probably have completely different schedules and social lives.

But, on Sept. 9, 2009, he asked me to be his girlfriend over video-chat. There were no roses, no first kiss, or a big hug. But I did get to see his face, his sappy smile and his enthusiasm.

In the months that followed, we were completely attached to our laptops. Our distance didn’t change the honeymoon feelings at the beginning of every relationship.

Everything was new. We talked for hours over our webcams, and when we weren’t talking, we watched movies together.

When both of us were ready to start the movie, we’d count down, so that we began at the same time.

“Three, two, one, go!”

And when we needed to go to the bathroom, we’d count down again, so that we stopped at the same moment.

Even in class, we turned on the webcam just because we couldn’t stand to be apart.

When it wasn’t video-chatting, we were still always instant messaging, talking on the phone or texting.

After a month, during his fall break, we finally saw each other. It was the first time in our relationship that we kissed, hugged, and talked in person. And it was amazing.

So we got used to that pattern of seeing each other once a month. The next month I visited him, and we alternated after that.

But, as with every relationship, the honeymoon phase ended. Talking on the webcam wasn’t as interesting, and we often got distracted, or just didn’t have anything to say.

These problems led to annoyance, and the occasional fight.

All of our issues were normal for any couple, but with us, distance made it more difficult.

Distance meant that we needed to try harder, to talk everything through and not just give up. Because physical comfort was never an option, we relied on words as reassurance, and tried to look forward to the next time we would meet.

“Everything will be alright. We’ve only got two weeks until I see you again.”

And that is when we knew all of the video-chats, emails, phone calls, shipped chocolates, and even snail-mailing was worth it. When we saw each other again and it felt like nothing had changed.

The feelings that dulled with distance and time always reignited with that first hug at the train station. And when we were together, none of our relationship problems mattered.

I doubt our relationship would have been possible without technology. I don’t know if we would have had the courage to say our feelings over the phone, or even in person. And in our relationship, technology made the 311 miles seem much less.

Although it’s impossible to have those dramatically romantic scenes in “The Notebook,” where a relationship can disappear with distance and lost love letters, I would never choose that over my modern relationship.

Today, we don’t have to lose love because of distance. Unlike my friend’s dad, who gave up his love for opportunities in another country, anyone can maintain a relationship, regardless of their location.

Of course it still takes work, but that is the case with any relationship, even those not separated by distance.

With so many platforms of communication, the means of maintaining a relationship are different now. But regardless, the way we feel when we find love, those butterflies and flushed cheeks, are always going to be there. And the problems that couples face after the honeymoon phase remain.

Love is still timeless, even when its shown through a webcam.


Mom said...

Dear Liv,

I tried to post comments two times but it didn't work, don't know why. Good luck to your final.


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