Seconds

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It’s been seventeen days since I got my surgery, but my jaw still feels tender to the touch. The surgeon told me at the very beginning that, since I’m already in my late twenties, the roots of my wisdom teeth had the chance to grow deeper into the bones of my mouth. This, he says, makes the surgery more invasive and more complicated than it should be. He showed me the x-ray, and the bottom wisdom teeth looked to me like ancient fossils in black and white, fossilized remains that time had consumed and buried in layers of rock.

The first time I had my wisdom teeth removed was in September. But after drilling for forty minutes, they were only able to get one and a half of my teeth out instead of all four. It turns out that my teeth were not only buried deep; they were also seated at an angle that made them difficult to extract without using special tools.

But even though they weren’t able to get everything out, recovering from it was awful. The pain was piercing and constant. It felt like I was getting stabbed in the mouth with a paring knife while simultaneously getting a noogie on my temple. And because of that, I couldn’t afford to skip a beat on pain relievers for the better part of two weeks. I had to take them on time, even if it was three in the morning. The worst part was knowing that I would have to go through the whole thing again.

So, two months later, I found myself back under the knife for round two. Although this time, it was in an actual operating room instead of the doctor’s office.

I had two and a half teeth to go. Things started to blur. I was asleep.

When I woke up in the recovery room, someone handed me a cup of apple juice and some chocolate pudding. I felt great. But I knew that surgery was the easy part—I was unconscious the whole time! Now I had to deal with the pain that came after it.

I felt the same piercing pain as before, but now on both sides of my jaw. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much pain in my life. I learned during my post-op visit that some of the bone around my teeth were also shaved off. The surgeon had mentioned it casually, but I found it a bit surprising. I didn’t know that they would have to deal with bone at all. I thought they only had to smash the teeth into bits. But it started to make sense considering how long it took for me to recover from it.

But, even though I was unfortunate enough to get my wisdom teeth removed a second time, I still feel incredibly lucky. I’m fortunate that I was born in the era of modern medicine, where doctors have access to anesthesia and antibiotics. I felt grateful when I imagined people from the 18th century who got their teeth pulled out using the tooth key. Not only was it painful, but it also led to crushed gums, broken teeth, and splintered jaws.

So now that it’s all over, I’m just glad I can start eating fried chicken again.

Visiting Singapore

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I couldn’t get on the plane the last time I tried to go to Singapore. I had a passport that was going to expire in less than thirty days, so they couldn’t let me in. And even if they did, immigration would just send me back.

I should’ve done my homework.

Fast forward a year and a half later, I finally got to fly out and visit my friends in Singapore for the first time. A few of them have moved to the city-state for work so I flew over there as part of my sorta-yearly trip to the Philippines.

I only stayed there for five days, but Singapore is probably my favorite city—at least as a tourist. First of all, the airport itself is a tourist attraction. It features sights like the rain vortex—a towering indoor waterfall that pumps collected rainwater onto a glass roof. I also liked how it created a fine mist that was enough to cool you down, but not enough to get you wet.

Singapore’s public transit is fast. I got to zip around the city easily and got to meet people on time—even during peak hours—thanks to all the money that they put into their trains and buses.

All I needed was Citymapper and a WiFi hotspot to find my way.

Wait times have been very short in my experience, and data shows that that’s true: There is a 12 min average wait time in Singapore compared to 16 minutes in Philadelphia.

I’ve also never seen a city as green as Singapore before. It has so much greenery that the place is a literal urban jungle.

I find that it’s somehow able to satisfy my desire to be in nature without ever having to take a trip and leave the city. There are a lot of parks to go around and a lot of plants along the sidewalk. There’s even a car-free path distributed all over Singapore called the Park Connector Network where people can bike without any worries.

I ate so much while I was there. The cuisine was so new to me that I just had to try whatever I could get my hands on. It’s also relatively cheap if you went to eat out at hawker stands which costs about S$3 to S$10.

My favorite breakfast when I was there was laksa paired with coffee and condensed milk.

There were so many places that I wasn’t able to go to like the zoo or the botanical garden, so I’ll try to make it out there again in the future. I’m also eyeing neighboring countries as well, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Till next time!

Community. Prom. Philippines.

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I’m starting to love it here in South Philly. I’m really feeling a sense of community since I moved. Last week I split my WiFi (now paying only $15/month!) and compost bucket with my downstairs neighbor.

It’s also incredibly easy to find community-based activities around the area like cooking classes and volunteer work.

Design Work & Visualizations.

I recently wrote about my design process for redesigning a form at work, and I also did some visualizations on global warming.

Speaking of global warming, there are so many issues going on in the world that it’s super easy for me to get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything, so I thought maybe I could at least I could focus on climate change. It seems that governments have the biggest impact in this issue so I’ve personally been using 5calls, GovTrack, and ResistBot to contact state officials and congress, and I’ve started to donate 1% of my monthly income to organizations that advocate for policy change ($1,080 per year):

Prom.

Andrea has been planning and preparing a prom-themed fundraiser for the non-profit organization 12PLUS, and a few friends and I went and had a lot of fun!

Unfortunately Andrea and I didn’t get to go on the photo booth together so here’s us being bums the next day.

Philippines & Singapore.

I’ve also started to plan my trip to the Philippines and Singapore because I’ll be leaving on May 28 to June 25. It’s coming up! I won’t be able to text, but you can reach me on Telegram or WhatsApp!

I moved!

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So I’ve been packing my stuff into boxes all week, and I’ve finally moved into my new place and unpacked! It feels like I’ve been preparing for this for a while now, and I’m glad it’s over.

Two things I did differently this time: I got the boxes for free by asking grocery stores and liquor stores, and I also hired movers to move everything for me. (Definitely worth hiring people!)

Other than that I also got to write about my design process at work. I wrote about redesigning forms.

Moving, Maps, and Food

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Hey there!

I’m currently prepping to move to my new place. It’s a lot cheaper than my current place because it’s a lot more residential than commercial.

I’m excited to be saving around $600 a month! I’ll be moving on May 4.

I’ve also been writing about data visualization on my blog recently looking at my own public transit data and the city’s biking data. Here’s a video of me presenting at my co-working space.

I’ve also been making a lot of food recently, and my favorite has been paella and gochujang mushroom bowls. They were surprisingly easy to make and I didn’t get tired of them at all.

I also had a little fermentation club with a few buds. One taught how to make bread, one pickling, and I taught how to make yogurt.

And that’s it! Hope you’re doing alright.

A Tour of Philly + Making Dumplings

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I miss how incredibly easy it was for me to stay in touch with people on Instagram.

I could snap a picture and tell people where I was, what was doing, and how much fun I was having. Of course, the downside was that everyone else did the same thing.

Whenever I used the app, I would feel anxious and inadequate because I couldn’t help but compare myself to other people. I also felt drained because I somehow believed that I needed to keep up with strangers on the Internet who were always doing new and exciting things. And as time went on, I gradually ended up equating my self-worth to the number of “hearts” and “likes” that I got on my posts. The more hearts I got, the more I felt like I was succeeding in life.

It was bad.

I didn’t get much sleep either because I would mindlessly scroll through that bottomless feed for several hours past my bedtime. But now that I’m not on social media, I’ve been thinking about how I could maybe use e-mail (I know!) as a non-addictive way for me to update friends and family.

I hope it’s alright that I added your e-mail in this newsletter. You’re free to unsubscribe, filter, ignore, or archive as you please!

Cousins Visit Philly

Paige and Danica came over for President’s Day weekend to visit and get a tour of Philly. We were all over the place, hopping on virtually every available SEPTA transit!

  • Reading Terminal Market
  • Mütter Museum
  • Amalgam Comics
  • Atomic City Comics
  • Free Library Of Philadelphia
  • Magic Gardens
  • Eastern State Penitentiary

Mütter Museum

I had never been to Mütter myself, so it was interesting (and a bit nauseating) to see all sorts of medical oddities and history like enlarged colons, rare skeletal disorders, cysts, and civil war era medicine.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Steve Buscemi’s voice guided us through the penitentiary as we listened to the audio tour on our headphones. The place was designed to “inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners” and influenced other prisons in the US. Not only did they talk about the history of prisons, but they also explain the causes of today’s mass incarceration.

Dumplings

Andrea and I made dumplings from scratch! Well, except for the wrapper. The filling had pork, shiitake, carrots, and cabbage, and it filled around 80 dumplings. I had a few failed attempts at making the dumpling, but it was surprisingly easy to get into the groove of things.