the land of bimsk

chicago dweller | matt lover | emmett motherer | family and friend adorer | benny obsessor | phd pursuer | allthingsfood inmybellyer

Emmett’s first seersucker, Emmett’s first horse races. #goemmett (at Keeneland)


Last September I visited a coworker’s cottage in northern Michigan and vowed, here, that I was going to try to get back this winter or spring to do a dissertation writing retreat. And now it’s spring (but feels like winter) and I am back! I’m here with bimsk and two other grad school lab mates for a week. We arrived this weekend, stocked up on groceries, and have basically sequestered ourselves away from any and all distractions while we all work on these big, long, difficult projects. 

I have to say, it’s going exactly as I’d hoped. There is literally nothing to do up here but work. We get up around 7. I usually do yoga or run, though I may squeeze 30 minutes or an hour of work in first, have breakfast, and then just go. 25 minute intervals of work, 5 minute breaks, all day long. We break it up with walks along Crystal Lake (I’m on a mission to make Benny the dog my best friend), playing with Emmett, chatting, lunch, cooking dinner for each other, and the occasional nighttime TV show or movie. Then we go to sleep early and start all over again. It’s way colder than it might’ve been in mid April (high of 28 today), so it’s not really tempting to sit outside or drive to Lake Michigan or go into town. And it also helps that it stays light eerily late up here, so even though it’s 5 or 6 p.m. it still feels like mid afternoon - you don’t necessarily feel like you need to pack it up for the day

This is just such a cool experience to have, and I think I’m going to go home with a lot of important stuff done. 

as brady said, this has been such an awesome week. a few notes:

  • it is absolutely gorgeous up here. yesterday, on a walk with emmett and benny along the frozen lake, brady and i heard the ice cracking and benny found some chunks of ice that had broken off into the lake and were bubbling like crazy. it was weird and cool and kind of creepy.
  • emmett has been so well-behaved these last few days. he usually needs quite a lot of stimulation to be entertained. i was fully prepared to just get a few hours of work in a day and spend the rest of the time coming up with new ways to play with him. but he has been really content looking at benny, watching us do our work, watching us cook, going on walks, etc. within the first two days, i did all the work i aimed to do on this trip! crazy.
  • on that note, i feel like i’m getting my mojo back a bit with my schoolwork and it feels really really nice.
  • brady has 100% succeeded in her mission of making benny her best friend. he looks at her with so much love. i think this has been one of the better weeks of his life - multiple walks/runs on the lake a day, plenty of treats, lots of belly rubs and head scratches.
  • we have been eating so well. for example, we had homemade biscuits with homemade orange and cinnamon marmalade and slow-cooked cheesy scrambled eggs for breakfast. for lunch, we had grilled cheese sandwiches with dijon mustard, honey, thinly sliced apples, white sharp cheddar cheese, and turkey on the inside.
  • on thursday, i pack emmett and benny back up in the car and drive back to chicago. then, on friday, we all drive down to kentucky for the horse races and easter!

Soup’s on. #goemmett

Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.
Isaac Asimov 

(via twolimessplease)

see that guy with his jet pack? see his hope and conviction as he sets it all up? see him immediately fall into the water? that’s me. and my not-so-glorious return from maternity leave.

i had a wonderful four months off of school and spent barely a second of it thinking about schoolwork. then, in mid-march, we started with our three day a week nanny and i slowly transitioned back to school. and ever since then, i feel like i’ve been waving my arms furiously at my work, at my schedule, at getting back into it with little to no effect. it’s really been stressing me out.

i came back from maternity leave all fired up to attack my dissertation, juggle everything like a pro, kick ass on my work, kick ass as a mom, kick ass as a wife, and have all systems run smoothly. nope.

the original plan was to have emmett with the nanny for three days and to squeeze work in on the other days while emmett naps and matt takes him for chunks of time. turns out emmett doesn’t nap. and that “writing your dissertation” doesn’t really happen like that. so now that i’ve got a few weeks under my belt, i’ve figured out that i need to really figure this all out.

first of all, i know that this feeling i’ve had of spinning my wheels with my work (because really, what does the day to day of writing your dissertation look like?) is normal. that this is all part of the process of getting to a place where i feel like i understand what i’m doing and how to go about actually doing it.

but the fact that my day to day time is so limited makes it extra stressful. and then there’s the whole process of trying to shoehorn my old work habits and tendencies into the template of this new life that is really throwing me off. one of my three days is mostly spent commuting and in meetings (that generate more work). the rest of the days are spent going to the southside to collect data and figuring out ways to be able to pump every three hours in the day. somewhere in that time are sprinkled random bits of work that, so far, have amounted to very little.

oh yeah. and how the heck do you write a dissertation with a handful of blocks of time and lots of broken up little bits of time that barely amount to 30ish hours per week? i have no idea. do you??? BAH.

a large part of my dissertation rests on this idea of periods of elaboration and compression. basically, that things have a tendency to blow up before they come back together. well, my friends, i am square in the middle of a period of elaboration. the pieces (husband, baby, dog, work, family, friends, me) are all very present and i certainly feel like they are disjointed and all over the place. and i know in my heart of hearts that the period of compression is coming. and that we will figure out a routine and a rhythm and a way to make it work. we always do. but until then, i’m pretty stressed out.

a few things that are aiding the process towards compression:

matt who is totally amazing and supportive and rearranges his schedule/cooks meals/takes emmett for half days on weekends/does most of the benny care,

my advisor who is incredibly understanding and seems to be worried about how crazy i’m making myself and is working with me to figure out ways to make it all gel,

emmett who pretty predictably sleeps long stretches at night so i can wake up early or stay up late to squeeze in some work while he sleeps away,

our nanny who is awesome and has agreed to stay with us for at least a year,

the fact that my data collection and pumping schedule won’t last forever and at some point i’ll have real 7 to 8 hour days where i can really sit and get stuff done.

the biggest part of this picture that needs to calm down is me. i need to climb out of the ocean with my water-logged jet pack and tinker around with it to get it to work. what that actually means, i’m not quite sure. but, i do think that list up there is something to keep in mind. i’ve also always thought jet packs are basically the coolest thing ever so…let’s make it happen whatever that means.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
This is late, but congrats on Yale! I was wondering if you had any tips on how to get into college, especially in terms of extracurriculars? Thanks!
bimsk bimsk Said:


Hi! I really believe that the first step to getting into college is to stop trying to get into college. Or rather, stop doing things deliberately for college. I know it’s been said again and again, but colleges, in my experience, really want you. There’s really nothing I’ve done in high schooI for the purpose of college.

As far as extracurriculars go, Maya Angelou really said it best: “Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” Find what you love, pursue it endlessly, immerse yourself in it. If you become great at it, awesome. If not, your commitment is what’s most important. That being said, I definitely think it’s important to really seek out every possible opportunity for what you love. If you love art, don’t limit yourself to founding “Art Club” — intern at a gallery, enter every competition, volunteer to help teach art for young kids. The point isn’t just “get a job” “volunteer” “win an award” — they should all relate back to your passions.  Does that make sense? Pick a few things you love, and commit 110%. (And remember, more often than not, the title comes after the work. So if you want to be Editor-in-Chief of your paper, put in the work as though you are — without stepping on anyone’s toes, of course.)

I also think you should remember that everything happens for a reason. So much of what I’ve done in high school has happened to me by chance — like hair and makeup, for example — so don’t be afraid to try a crazy opportunity. Put yourself out there. 

The only other thing I can say is to not be afraid to be genuine. The first paragraph of my Common App essay talked about Heather Has Two Mommies, Twilight, and “Blurred Lines.” My Yale supplement was about how society talks about Ophelia. My short answers were about falafel. You don’t have to be profound or deep. You don’t have to uncover the meaning of life. You just need to be memorable and authentic. And more often than not, being you is more memorable than being what you think colleges want you to be.

Message off anon for more ?? 

very wise words from my very awesome niece. at seventeen, i feel like she’s already figured out how to carve out a life that is rich and meaningful.

we are all so very proud of you!

high school reunion party. this weekend, a-game and i had our 6th annual joint birthday party. these parties have spanned san francisco backyards, back rooms of chicago bars, and both of our chicago homes over the years. we have a theme each year and for this year we chose “high school reunion.” we asked everyone to come dressed as their high school selves and oh boy was it fun.

in high school, i was heavy into the southern-californian-asian-teenager scene. what does that mean? well…we only hung out with guys who had lowered civics and integras, we loved guys with long bleached bangs (remember that look? so bad.) and baggy pants, we wore a ton of makeup, we played pool, we went to karaoke, we underage drank in koreatown, we took fuzzy pictures at the buena park mall to pass around to other friends (no smiling allowed in these pictures), we wore name brand everything and lots of tight black flared pants, we listened to k-pop, and we thought we were so so so so cool (we most definitely were not).

so, for the party, i found some tight white flared slacks (i would have thought those were the shit in high school), sharpied “bebe” onto a tank top, wore a black peacoat (i had a velour black peacoat in high school from wet seal that i thought was the most amazing thing), caked on the foundation and makeup (just look at those eyebrows. also, my face is still itchy from all the foundation), and got a baby backpack. it’s funny, as i was putting my baby backpack on over my peacoat, i was instantly taken back to the specific challenges of navigating such a large coat with such a tiny backpack. i looked pretty awesome, if i do say so myself.

matt went as his middle school self and wore peg rolled pants, that amazing silk shirt that billowed around his body as he danced, a little wu-tang pin, a gold chain with a tennis racket on it (his real necklace from middle school that his mom found and sent over), a braided belt, and a really foul chin strap on his face. it was perfect.

emmett wore that makeshift wrestling singlet in the bottom left corner since we figured with a physique like his, he would most likely be a high school wrestler.

other friends showed up in their grunge outfits, their show choir outfits, their band geek outfits, their tank girl style outfits, their punk rock outfits, and their skater outfits. it was kind of funny to see how different we all were from each other in high school.

we listened to records, ate totino’s pizza rolls, hung out in the emo cave, took pictures in front of the enchanted forest themed photo backdrop. OH. and we did public readings of our high school journal entries and old love letters from high school flames.

all in all, it was a pretty hilarious evening.

a-game and i had our 6th annual joint birthday party on saturday. the theme was “high school reunion” and we asked everyone to come dressed as their high school selves. it was pretty awesome. a large part of friday was spent preparing for the party.

9:00am emmett wakes up.


10:00am eating breakfast with emmett. i think i’m a pretty decent cook. however, i am a real expert in making the world’s worst french toast. this morning was no exception (it might have been one of my worst yet). i tried to salvage it by slathering it in peanut butter, pouring maple syrup over it, and covering it in berries. it worked to some extent. emmett is not impressed.


11:00amish walking over to the daily method for a class. they have a daycare there (genius) so i loaded emmett up in the ergo and we walked over. since the weather’s been warmer, emmett, benny, and i walk around town quite a bit - emmett in his ergo, benny on his leash. i love looking down and seeing emmett all cozy in his little lion hat.



noon i came in to find that matt’s folks had sent over a beautiful bouquet of flowers for my birthday. they smell wonderful. what a nice surprise in the middle of the day.


1:00pm cooking lunch. i picked up some especially fatty pork belly earlier in the week and decided to make some jjajjangmyun with it.



2:00pm working while emmett naps. emmett is a great nighttime sleeper and not a great daytime napper. i am extremely grateful for his nighttime sleeping abilities but am getting pretty stressed out about how to fit work in during the days when we don’t have a nanny. matt and i are working on some solutions.


3:00pm nursing emmett.


4:00pm grocery shopping. emmett and i went to the store to pick up some party supplies for the high school party. i got quite a few bags of totino’s pizza rolls.


5:00pm going shopping for matt’s party outfit. it was much colder and windier than we had anticipated.

6:00pm matt found a truly amazing silk printed shirt. he bought it. (obviously.)


7:00pm baking lemon buttermilk cakes for the party.


8:00pm gathering everything together to take over to a-game’s. benny kept side eyeing the cake (he side eyes things that he would like to eat. it’s his not-so-subtle way of hinting that he wants it). i don’t blame him. it smelled pretty good.


9:00pm making decorations at a-game’s house. we made “superlative” awards to pass out. lucy (her dog) helped out by holding down the butcher paper while we drew.



10:00pm still making decorations. we made a big photo backdrop with an “enchanted forest” theme.


  • monday - veggie lentil curry with brown basmati rice
  • tuesday - chicken marsala over polenta
  • wednesday - veggies, fish, and rice cooked in a parchment paper bag
  • thursday - out to dinner with friends