Posted by: tinyoliphant | January 19, 2013

Long way home

I’ve been inspired by Dar and Jess to resuscitate this long-forgotten blog. It’s unbelievable that the last time I posted anything here was at the beginning of 1L year.

The first year of law school was a struggle that I barely survived. During that time I often questioned my reasons for going to law school in the first place, and whether I would even be a good lawyer, or be able to find a job once I graduated. There were several points where I came so close to quitting but the only thing that stopped me was not having any place to turn to if actually I went through with it. It was so tough hearing about Alex’s amazing experiences in far-off lands during every phone call or Skype session while I was at home reading cases for eight hours a day and having an internal crisis with no one to talk to about my struggles. I didn’t want to talk to my parents or siblings because I didn’t want them to know that I was struggling with school. I couldn’t talk to my friends at school because it’s such a competitive environment and I didn’t want to show any signs of weakness although I’m sure they were going through the same things I was. I didn’t want to talk to anyone else because I didn’t want to burden anyone with my issues while everyone seemed so busy with their own school and work. In addition, the combination of stress and living by myself for the first time was causing me to gain weight at an alarming rate.

So I just kept going. I made friends, worked hard in school, competed in moot court competitions, volunteered, networked, and joined organizations. I did all the things that I was supposed to do, with a smile on my face, the entire time hoping desperately that I was making the right decision. For the first time in my entire life I wasn’t getting good grades, which made me doubt myself even more. I was also struggling deeply with my decision to focus on corporate law and turning away from public interest work, which was what lead me to going to law school in the first place. The real turning point for me was in March when I was offered a summer position with a large firm in town. I took it as a sign. If they wanted me, then maybe I was doing the right thing after all. Things got a little better after that but not much. I struggled through to finish the rest of the year and was so relieved once it was finally over.

My experience in the summer was nothing short of amazing and it completely reenergized my feelings about myself, law school, and my career path. The things that I had learned in school all year finally made sense when given a context. I learned more about the law in those ten short weeks than in ten months of law school. I actually liked the work, too. After seeing that there was actually a light at the end of the long tunnel, I left that internship with a renewed sense of purpose, which I had been lacking for far too long.

This year, I have been working hard to improve my grades (my fall quarter grades gave me more A’s than in all of first year combined), lose weight (12 pounds since the summer), and make more connections in the legal field in Seattle.  My long-term goal is to be able to live comfortably, manage to pay off my student loans quickly, and be able to support my parents financially as they retire. I don’t have any regrets about last year. I still hate being in law school but for me it has always been a means to an end. At least now I have a better sense of what I need to do to reach that end.


Posted by: tinyoliphant | October 3, 2011

My wandering feet

Sometimes I lay awake at night thinking about all the foods I’ll never eat again. Heavenly Portuguese egg tarts from that little bazaar in Kota Bharu. A hot plate of chicken rice from that one food stall in Singapore that we went to over and over again. Countless little clay cups of chai that costs pennies each on every street and train station all over India. That cheap little rice, chicken, and chickpea dish from Istanbul that we never bothered to ask the name of. Bottles and bottles of Maaza and Dr. Thanh. It’s not all about the food, but the food helps me remember. I still have some tea from Darjeeling that takes me right back to foggy mornings on those mountain foothills. I’m saving it for a rainy day.

Readings for class are piling up page by page and all I can think about is hopping a train to Mongolia or crossing the Moroccan desert on the back of a camel. It’s horrible, but I just want to make enough money to be able to leave it all again. Traveling is like a drug for me. The more I do, the more I want.

Posted by: tinyoliphant | December 20, 2010


At this moment, exactly three weeks from now, I will be somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. I will have been done with all law school and scholarship applications, my work will be finished, all loss ends tied up, and I will be on my way to starting my Grand Adventure. I absolutely cannot wait.

Tentative Itinerary: Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Burma, Thailand, India, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco.

Tentative Timeline: January 9th – May 15th, 2011

Tentative Packing List:
1 65-liter backpack
2 pairs travel pants, one convertible into capri shorts
1 pair running shorts
1 mosquito-repellent long-sleeve shirt
1 long-sleeve base-layer shirt
1 pair hideous travel sandals
1 pair flip-flops
1 light rain jacket
3 t-shirts, in yellow, purple, and green
1 thin purple cardigan
1 beige tank top
2 camisoles, in dark green and off-white
1 black short-sleeve polo shirt
1 swimsuit
Several pairs of quick-dry underwear
1 extra-large quick-dry towel
1 small Leatherman multi-tool
1 small quick-dry face towel
Various toiletries (shampoo, face wash, toothbrush, contact lens solution, etc.)
Several packs of baby wipes
5 months worth of contact lenses
1 pair of glasses
1 pair of sunglasses
2 retainers (top and bottom)
1 travel-size hair dryer, with convertible voltage
1 Moleskine planner/diary
1 digital camera (+ memory cards, battery, battery charger, cord)
1 iPod Touch (+ charger)
1 unlocked cell phone (+ charger; SIM cards will be bought while traveling)
First aid kit and various medications
Several plastic bags and Zip-Lock bags
1 money belt to be worn under clothes
2 wallets: on real one and one fake one in chase of mugging
1 inflatable neck pillow
1 silk sleeping bag liner

Posted by: tinyoliphant | October 6, 2010

Planning for my dream trip

There are more important things that I should be doing right now. Like, working on my law school applications. And working on my research job. Instead, my wanderlust has been on extreme overdrive lately. I can’t stop fiddling with the Excel spreadsheet that I have for planning and budgeting my trip. is practically my homepage. I have 18 weeks and literally a world of possibilities.

Do I want to do:

Vietnam > Singapore > Malaysia > Burma > India > Nepal > Australia > New Zealand > Thailand >Vietnam

Or do I really want:

Vietnam > Singapore > Malaysia > Burma > India > Nepal > Bangladesh > Thailand > Hong Kong > Taiwan >Vietnam

Do I stay 3 weeks in India or 4 weeks? Do I want to spend the extra money required for Australia and New Zealand or try to stay on the cheap and stick to Asian countries only for this trip? Is it feasible to go from Nepal to Bangladesh by land? The only reason I want to go to Hong Kong is to stuff myself with dim sum.

I get so wrapped up in it only to get hit by the reality train. I need to hurry up and finish my law school applications so that I can have a future to come back to. And I need to work more so that I actually have the dough to fund this whole trip. Daydreaming is so much more fun, but the more I work now, the more I’ll actually get to live the dream instead dreaming it.

Posted by: tinyoliphant | September 21, 2010

Portland, OR

Alex and I took a weekend trip to Portland toward the beginning of the summer and I’ve just now unloaded the photos from my camera. It was our first trip together, and both of our first times exploring our neighbor to the south. The weekend was wonderful and relaxing. Portland was very good to us.

Our very first stop was to Tasty n Sons for brunch. It was the yummiest and most unique breakfast food I’ve had in…possibly ever. I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day and we ended up forgoing our other breakfast plans the next morning and returning there for another amazing meal. Totally worth it.

Read More…

Posted by: tinyoliphant | September 8, 2010

You Can Shine

A girl learns to play the violin despite severe obstacles. Very moving.

Posted by: tinyoliphant | July 12, 2010

Light brussels sprout salad

This is my new favorite snack

-Sauté brussels sprout halves in olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.
-Toss with a handful of cut-up, dried hibiscus flowers (found in the dried fruits section of Trader Joe’s).
-Add chunks of smoked Gouda cheese.
-Enjoy in a cool summer afternoon.

Some candied walnuts would have been good too, for added texture and flavor. I have some left in the fridge (homemade, courtesy of my older brother and the last time he made Honey Walnut Prawns), and I’ll try it next time. Healthy and tasty.

Posted by: tinyoliphant | July 10, 2010

When I’m rich, I’m building one of these

Posted by: tinyoliphant | June 5, 2010


Everything that I’ve been doing lately is part of my perpetual search for freedom. I’m obsessed. All the money that I’m saving from my 50-60 hour workweeks is for the freedom to see the world. I’m taking a 30% pay cut at a new job for freedom to spend this summer on my own terms. Sometimes I say ‘no’ for freedom. Sometimes I say ‘yes’ for freedom. I daydream about it all the times. As much as I love Seattle, I know that as long as I stay here, I’ll never have the life that I’m longing for. I don’t know where that life is right now. Maybe in DC or San Francisco. Maybe in Algers or Bangkok. Maybe in the Saigon apartment I’ve always dreamed of, or on the back of a train headed to destinations yet unknown. All I know right now is that, wherever my heart is, it’s already far away from here.

Posted by: tinyoliphant | May 29, 2010


The first birthday party I ever had was in first grade. I was new to the school that year and had invited everyone in class to my party. All I wanted was to have some friends. One person came. The rest decided to go to this other girl’s party instead because she had ponies. I couldn’t compete with ponies.

For my birthday in second grade, the two girls who were always mean and cruel were nice to me. I didn’t really have any friends so I was so happy and excited.  During lunch, the teacher told me to pick two people to help me pass out my cupcakes to the class and I chose them. During the last recess, when I asked if they wanted to play, they scoffed and said, “Did you really think we wanted to be your friend?” It turned out that they were only nice to me because they wanted to pass out the cupcakes.

In fourth grade, the teacher decided that everyone who finished the homework assignment that day would get a treat: an orange sherbert and vanilla ice cream swirl cup…the things that you would eat with the little wooden paddle. The assignment was long division and I didn’t finish because I didn’t know how to do it and my parents couldn’t help me. So I sat at my little desk trying very hard not to cry as everyone else in the class was eating ice cream but me…on my birthday.

I became the little girl who dreaded and hated birthdays. Birthdays were cruel and unfair and miserable. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to do everything I could to make it up to my younger self. For some reason, I still wanted to believe in birthdays.

This year was absolutely wonderful. So many friends came to my party and it was fun and happy and everything I had hoped it would be. The past couple of years were great too, but there was something about this year that really struck something in me. I finally felt like I could go back to that little girl and tell her that things turned out okay. She finally got what she wanted.

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