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yanjaa

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At 5 am Monday, Nikh texted me some awesome news. 5 am because of the time difference, not because he’s a dick. Which he is not. We got nominated for The Webby Awards for best social media campaign and are currently in first place! This makes me happy primarily because we all worked so hard, hundreds of us were working so hard to make this happen. From BBH to Freeflow productions to Facebook and of course Singapore, endless amounts of journalists and so many more that even the IKEA Human catalogue might not remember to mention because the sheer number of people working on this was far greater than 212 (the number of people that is currently possible to memorize in 15 minutes as it is the world record, held by me).

The humble brag fest continues because life is hard, always, there are always things that pain me and make me sad but in these moments I remember that there are moments when I’ve achieved something, that I’ve temporarily outplayed life and luck and destiny.

On another note, I’ve been thinking a lot about sharing my struggles since there’s always the complaint from high-achieving bragadocious people that they’re not sharing their real selves. Firstly I don’t think it’s possible to fully know a person even if you know their bad side. Second, I don’t think people actually feel better when seeing others be sad. And last but most importantly, I don’t think seeing someone’s negative or sadder aspects of their life means that is their true self.

We all have this tendency to be enamored by others up until they show us their “true selves” i.e. when they do something negative. How come we never do this when they do something positive amidst all their other negativity? Do we comment in equal gotcha manner that we’ve now figured them out? A-HA they’re actually positive and happy people?

Anyway, philosophical questions and morals aside, if you enjoy anything or everything I’ve posted, talked about or inspired you with, please feel free to vote for us. It would mean a lot to me.

AND I HOPE WE WIN!

Hi!

The last week of March is here! MADNESS! The first three months of 2018 have been so slow and so fast at the same time… I’m so excited, Remy (my sweet puppy) is also excited! This excitement is contagious y’all!

I’m excited because I vlogged, specifically about the memory book that changed my life. Vlogging is one of those things I really love doing but I haven’t developed the habit of doing fully… yet. One idea about how to start developing a new habit is to combine it with a habit you already have (according to professor BJ Fogg at Stanford University). I’ve noticed I have a little lull in my time every Saturday where I watch YouTube videos and think about one day shooting videos… Now, I’ve decided to link that time with filming as well. In addition, using the added incentive of external accountability will help (saying publicly that you’ll post every week and creating the expectation of new memory videos every Monday) and linking with alliteration makes most memories much more memorable! Memory Monday! #MemoryMonday, so far a hashtag only championed by me…😉

I’m hoping to be able to post one video answering your questions about memory every Monday at around 9 am in the morning in the Americas (meaning during the day in Africa + Europe and at night in most of Asia).

I’m also excited because I’m going to work in Asia next month and have made some time to go on a vacation as well while over there… エキサイティング!We’re also hopefully shooting the last scenes of the documentary I’ve been filming on and off since 2015… Bittersweet to say goodbye but hopefully the start of a different part of our journey together once it reaches film festivals!

On Wednesday we have the Swedish book club meeting, so far I’ve read half of this month’s choice – Linn Ullman’s De oroliga – and it’s been a tough read in not the best way so far… I’m really excited about hearing what the others have to say and catch up with them as well though. 😀

I am also preparing to participate in at least three memory competitions this year, starting a mini bootcamp today. I’ve been training minimally in 2018 because I have been reading a lot and have had a more introspective period in the past months with just the occasional training matches online on Memory League… I have to work harder now, even though I placed 1st in my division this season, being in division 1 is hard even if you are ranked second in the leaderboard for a moment… I’ve got some catching up to do if I want to be sure I can finish strong. Also, let me know if you want to join The Memory League! The first weeks are free and after that I’m pretty sure I can get you at discounted annual membership and we can play against each other if you want!

We might be having a potluck and I’ve made vegan brownies, recipes and all that will be shared soon enough on instagram.com/yanjaa.

On Sunday I’ll tell you all about a very controversial book about a very controversial topic – The Selfishness of Others – by Kristin Dombek, I’ve enjoyed reading it so so so much. It’s about our fear of narcissism and self-absorption, what we think of it as being and how we relate to it, react to it and what the reality of it might be instead…

I’m hoping to be able to get my fortune told through tarot card readings sometime this week, because even if you’re a skeptic I think it’s good for you to try different things out… like LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE! This was totes prescribed by Krista Suh who wrote DIY Rules for a WTF World.  About a week ago I wrote about it extensively in the previous post without editing myself.

As for working out I’m hoping to go swimming, climbing and rollerskating with friends this week after work… Even if plans don’t work out I’m kind of hoping I’ll be zen enough to deal with all of the unexpected. 😀 I hope you have an awesome week! 😀

A couple of weeks back I found this pretty book at Book People on N Lamar called 🎉📚DIY Rules for a WTF World📚 by Krista Suh (@kristasuh) – a feminist, Hollywood screenwriter, artist and creator of The Pussyhat Project – the most iconic visual of the Women’s March! 👏🏼💯 Super recommend for everyone, especially young feminists ✊🏼✊🏾✊🏻✊🏿✊🏽 and anyone who wants to know themselves better. The following is a wordy post about many of the things that resonated deeply with me as I’ve been processing all of this. As a memory person I can tell you that you should write in your books or at least take notes when something jumps out at you. Many times we read, we consume and we forget. Making little notes and marks makes you remember better (or at least it helps me be more present when reading because I’m looking for things that stick out).

Duh.

<3

✍🏼 “One of the ways in which we lose our power is simple, we’re made to feel guilty for finding ourselves fascinating”…. 🙌🏼❤

As ambitious women, especially ambitious Asian women of a certain kind, we might feel like the world is ending if we’re not smart, beautiful, kind or whatever else enough. We are enough even without achievement, we are enough even without external validation, we are enough as we are.

So many of our ideals, what we should be, are not even our own ideals! They are often constructs of ideals and messages we’ve absorbed from the media or other places outside of ourselves. The idea that what we like is what we like simply because we like it is sometimes a

おはようおはよう妹…昨日お姉さんはコーヒーを飲みすぎました。。。今日は早起きした。。寝静まるができなかったそして頭が痛い。ここにコーヒーのたくさんの情報が有る。英語ではここに。コーヒーを飲まないで!

Tonight, after a day of working at home, I have a much anticipated game of table tennis in town. My goal is to become one fifth as good as the legendary matriarch known as “G” in Nashville…

Sometimes I have S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound). This is fine and applicable to certain things like “Become good enough at table tennis to win every fifth match I play against G by June” is specific, measurable, attainable (hopefully?), relevant to my skills and there’s a time limit for when I can achieve it.

There are lots of theories about goals, the evidence behind the success rate of different techniques used when trying to achieve a goal or whether goals are needed at all… I think the best thing is for each individual to try what works for them and try one technique at a time and evaluate whether it went well or not.

I think it’s nice to have a goal just to have a sense of direction, but just because you are headed in one direction doesn’t mean you can’t change course along the way. Some people think they want to be actresses but backstage they realize their passion for costume design. It’s OK to have goals and it’s ok not to, it’s OK to make your goals S.M.A.R.T. and it’s cool if they aren’t. Most of the best things I’ve achieved I’ve recently realized have more to do with me following my passion and then putting time and effort into loving it and showing that I care about it… Not so S.M.A.R.T. maybe, but hey your sister’s got a pretty nice life so far!

Hope school and work stuff is fun today! また、明日ね💕

“Glöm inte bort att komma ihåg!”. Picture and information taken from the official press release. I look lowkey smug?

So back in January I was flown out from Austin to Stockholm to help make a public service announcement series for SOS Alarm (a Swedish state-run company that operates the emergency number 112 as well as 11313, 11414) created by the content marketing agency Spoon and hosted by the serial comedian, actor, father and soon-to-be author Kodjo Akolor.

Everyone in Sweden knows the emergency number 112, yet more than a third of the calls are wrongfully dialed and take valuable time away from those who really need emergency help. Our series intends to help Swedes make the right call at the right time.

Our first shoot was at a middle school, spending hours with 20 first-graders. It was chaotic, fun and a learning experience. There was crying, laughing and many recipes for slime was shared (Matilda had very deep knowledge of what bicarbonates to use for which types of slime… she was basically a chemistry prodigy. A Swedish Marie Curie!).

As expected, this first segment was both fun and chaotic. I memorized all the kids names in a minute or so, then we taught the class different mnemonics, they wrote sketches, performed plays and had a dance party. There was a lot of laughter, some tears and drama. The kids drew pictures to remember the right numbers to dial. Emelie drew a picture of me as a fairy (because the Swedish word for 11 sound the same as fairy I made this mnemonic for the number 1177 intended for non-emergency medical services and help).

At one point the kids stood in line to hug Kodjo (… and so they could get launched into the air). I wanted to join but I have the density of pure lead so no matter people’s effort to lift me these feet stay on the ground. On the other hand I could’ve helped minimize the line… but I’m scared of throwing humans since that time at preschool judo when I hurt Jessica and was thus the only kid in my age group who didn’t go home with a yellow belt…

Our second location was at a hip restaurant på söder. In between the two shoots we discussed diversity and comedy in Swedish media. Kodjo is deep y’all. And tall. Way way taller than he looks on TV! After the crew was done rigging we had a nice Swedish fika and discussed memory techniques on camera… if I recall correctly.

Two days later we shot our final segment at a mall. The game was to challenge shoppers to a memory duel – think David Blaine with his street magic but instead of magic it was memory techniques and instead of saying twaa everyone was like “oh ok”.

The reactions were wonderfully calm and collected with an appreciative nod. We also had some chilly outside segments, despite it being cold AF… We endured the Swedish weather for you guys so I hope you like the end result.

The campaign officially launches on Feb 28th local (Swedish) time! Here’s the first sneak peek!

Stelt
Mindre stelt
Crewww! s/o to Tannaz for sharing my annoyance with Swedish air hosts who talk to you in English…

A week of flying, eating pizza and watching awesome media. Let’s take a look!

Wednesday Feb 14th Austin to LA – Valentine’s day… I flew from Austin to LA and was in my hotel room near Universal by noon. I spent most of that day catching up on American tv-shows so I was fit and in “English-speaking mode” the next day… Ordered a veggie pizza, some groceries and then put hair treatment in my braids, tweezed my eyebrows and watched the second special of the HBO 2 Dope Queens series!

Thursday Feb 15th – Full day in LA – woke up and saw Sigin texted saying she couldn’t make it out to the shoot. Bummer since I only had a chance to talk to her for short bursts at the St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland (since she was always surrounded by people wanting to talk to her)… BUT her movie “Silence” is making its rounds at film festivals this year and since I might be attending a few film festivals this year (promoting a project I’ve been working on since 2015…) I will try to catch it there when I go! See it if you have the chance as I’m sure it’s excellent!

Steve Harvey shoot

I eat healthy on most days but not on shoot days where I go full vegetarian instead of vegan…

After arriving at the studios I had a pizza party by myself since I got my own dressing room… Patrick helped prep for the memory segments and kept me company with anecdotes about Americanisms and Hollywood.

The segment went well and we had a lot of fun shooting it and everybody got a gift card! After about three hours there the car took me back to the hotel room where I took a bunch of selfies and then fell asleep.

Friday Feb 16th – tsagaan sar / lunar new year from LA to Nashville

The car picked me up at 6.45am… LA traffic is no joke… at one point we had been driving so long I thought he was just showing me all the available real estate in LA. After six hours of travel we greeted each other at home in Nashville in both Western fashion (hugs and cheek kisses) and Mongolian style (zolgoh). Grandma has come to terms with me being a vegetarian and had made me fruit buuz! <3 Also, my awesome friend Jonas’ episode of Sweden’s Got Talent aired!

Saturday Feb 17th – tsagaan sar in Nashville

Slept in late because honestly TV stuff is fun but exhausting, but even more exhausting (sometimes) to do in a language and culture that’s not your native one… In the afternoon Mongolian family friends came over to celebrate The New Year of the Dog with us!

Sunday Feb 18th – hanging out with wax celebrities in Nashville

I took selfies with most of them. You can tell it’s fake because I’m actually more than 2 inches taller than Beyoncé in real life.

Monday Feb 19th – Black Panther in Nashville

We saw Black Panther and life was hype and IT OUTLIVED THE HYPE! I couldn’t sleep until 3 am because I was in hype mode…

Tuesday Feb 20th – MY SEGMENT ON STEVE HARVEY AIRS and I fly back home to Austin

We watched it like a proper modern family. After it aired we played “I spy” all the way to the airport. My flight was delayed but I had my Tropico 4 island to keep me company so I didn’t mind…

The many characters and mods you can make to your Tropico 4 Presidente!

 

So long story short, our previous episode when I memorized his book “Jump!” rated super high and did so awesome I was invited back! The last one has half a million views now! Woah!

It took some time to for us to brainstorm the next episode, but we made it happen thanks to Shareen who takes care of me and pitches like no other. Because it’s a show and not a competition, there’s lots of little things to consider to make it work visually. TOTALLY WORTH IT since I think we outdid ourselves this time!

So this time we memorized the audience names and 10 pictures of Vegas! The TV edit was way longer and more in-depth, so sorry if you missed it… Here’s an even shorter edit!

I feel very blessed to work with #TeamSteve. It is so much fun filming at their studios. The people working to make it happen every day are the most chill yet effective people EVER! Big thanks to the Q-like Erin and superwoman Shaniece, Mike for turning me into Yanjaa with the good hair, Tracy for making me look like I don’t wear pajamas 365 days per year, Angela for being a stellar artist who enhanced my features instead of hiding ’em and Patrick who made sure there were no hiccups and made me laugh and forget my nerves. Vita for being the boss and Ran for making sure we were on time. And to everyone else whose name I might not know or have forgotten who made me feel safe and free to be me. A production, even just a single segment of one episode is always a team effort and y’all are the best.

The audience was great and had the best energy, I felt very supported by all of them including Stephanie, Thomas, Brooke, Anissa, Alissa, Marie, Ayan, Adam, Emily, Anthony, Tasha… Also Jenny who came in with Bola I LOVE YOUR HAIR! Thomas’ reaction in this one shot is the best haha.

I’m hoping next time will be either language related or that WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS! I’ve never been to Vegas…

Concentrated or worried I won’t make it?

Gjorde du något 2017 som du aldrig gjort förut?

Oj. ALLT! Slog två världsrekord i minne under VM, första kvinnan i världshistorien att få brons i den individuella kategorin. Enda personen i världen att vinna två landslagsguld.

Hundratals medieuppdrag, skrev klart en bok, föreläste i en timme. Tränat regelbundet varenda dag i flera månader. Varit 100% vegetarian. Varit aktivt snällare mot mig själv.

Vilka platser besökte du?

Singapore, Reykjavik, Berlin, Hong Kong, Bangkok och Narita flygplats (det räknas eftersom Narita är stor som en stad).

Hemma – Austin, Stockholm och Ulan Bator.

USA – Nashville, San Antonio, New Orleans, Savannah, L.A.

Tre nya platser: Nanjing, Kuala Lumpur och Jakarta! Är alldeles förälskad i Sydostasien nu.

Vad var din största framgång 2017?

Ärligt talat, att jag blev ärligare om allt. Om jag blir sur förklarar jag det objektivt, om jag blir glad håller jag det inte för mig själv osv. Exempelvis kanske jag ser i mitt flöde hur en kompis går på Harvard och istället för att sitta avundsjuk hemma och älta varför jag inte går på Harvard så skriver jag bara till henne något i stil med “Hej, kan du ge tips om hur du kom in på Harvard? Känner mig så avundsjuk att jag mår illa”. Eller typ “Hej, er budget är för låg. Maila när ni har råd.” Ska fortsätta så 2018 för att det gått bra hittills.

Filmade dokumentär med ett team i Stockholm som finalist i Talang Sverige, flögs till Berlin för studiointrot, åkte i vans på den mongoliska stäppen, överlevde förseningar och tyfoner med dem under asiatiska mästerskapen i Hong Kong och filmade när jag kom på tredje plats i VM i Jakarta, Indonesien.

Vann min gren i The Biggest Brain i Kina som bokstavligen har en halv miljard i tittarsiffror, var med i en av IKEAs mest framgångsrika reklamkampanjer någonsin, improviserade ett tal om mitt liv och språken jag kan under en hel timme på Polyglot Conference på Island. Var på ca tusen möten med investerare på tre kontinenter för en app/algoritm jag skrev 2016 och var modig nog att tacka nej till sanslöst mycket pengar bara pga att det inte kändes rätt.

En mobilanteckning:

“Just because you’re a billionaire doesn’t mean you’re right.”

Tror jag skrev detta när jag var väldigt väldigt arg och kanske berusad under en utekväll på en techkonferens i New Orleans i maj.

Bästa köpet?

ALLTID ALLA MINA BÖCKER! Men annars, min IKEA-lampa som ser ut som the Death Star. Mitt nya skrivbord, en secretary desk. Mina hörlurar; Nakamichi NEP-MV18. Till skillnad från majoriteten av både dyrare och billigare hörlurar jag köpt går dessa inte sönder.

Gjorde någonting dig riktigt glad?

Två av mina allra närmsta på denna jord skrev och peppade under VM i minne 2017. De var stolta och det gjorde mig riktigt glad att de berättade att de hade märkt av den personliga resan jag hade gjort under oktober och november när jag träna på riktigt för första gången.

Och ledsen?

Jao. Svaga män som får “sina” kvinnor att bli lika svaga som dem är alltid väldigt tragiskt att se, speciellt när det påverkar människor en älskar. Trist att se sina objektivt sämre vita manskollegor fortfarande få vissa uppdrag före dig trots att du bokstavligen är tio gånger bättre.

Favoritserie?

Apropå svaga män… Big Little Lies. Insecure. Bojack Horseman säsong 4 (så mycket bättre än tidigare säsonger). Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Silicon Valley och Game of Thrones hade sina stunder. Obs på att jag äntligen hade tid att kolla på Game of Thrones!

Årets spel?

Tropico 4 på Mac och Overcooked på Nintendo switch.

Årets låtar?

Mest Daenerysmusik från Game of Thrones och Michael Kiwanuka.

Var du gladare eller ledsnare i år jämfört med tidigare år?

Kanske mitt livs gladaste år! Om jag bortser från att jag kanske var gladare som barn då de flesta småbarn (inklusive jag?) får gratis boost serotonin och att jag kanske inte kommer ihåg så mycket av vissa år.

Bästa boken du läste i år?

Americanah av Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Kändes otroligt skönt att läsa en USA-skildring av någon annan som aldrig tänkt på ras och kön lika mycket i landet hon växte upp i. Mycket av 2018 kände jag mig inte välkommen någonstans. Jag kunde inte sova pga migrationsproblem som jag fick indirekt pga Trump. Medan problemet kvarstod fick jag inte resa utomlands, men jag hade skrivit ett kontrakt innan problemen som innebar att jag skulle bli skyldig ca 400.000 kronor om jag inte reste utomlands… Det löste sig till slut och stressen la sig i samband med det och att jag fann denna bok och lyssnade på den på de långa bussresorna mellan Memphis och Nashville samt Austin och San Antonio som jag behövde göra.

Bästa filmen?

* Arrival. En otroligt vacker film om språk och att stegvis känna av och få inblickar i det som borde göras härnäst.

* Dancer! En vacker film om en komplicerad man som är så vacker och komplicerad att hjärtat både känns som att det går sönder och blir helt igen under filmens gång.

* The Incredible Jessica James. Hennes podd med Phoebe Robinson 2 Dope Queens där hon berättar hur hon fick en roll i nästa Fantastic Beasts-film efter att ha hängt med J.K. Rowling under en middag är också väldigt bra. Podden har blivit serie på HBO som också är super hittills.

* Okja. Goa nyanserade vego-vibes och den rebelliska tjejen som huvudroll <3

* Gifted.  Frustrerad och begåvat barn i huvudrollen och ett alternativt synsätt på hur vuxna kan hantera “begåvade” barn.

Bästa matupplevelsen?

Tänker aldrig på mat. Det mesta jag äter är gott sen jag blivit vegetarian.

Vad gjorde du på din födelsedag?

Look what a pretty clickbaity title I made! *squee*

The beauty of this blog… is that it is oh so quiet. Unlike other places I post on the internet.

On social networks it’s so easy for anyone to have an opinion on just about anything you say, do or share. My growing questioning of social networks as a psychological burden is not lessened by the onslaught of former tech developers calling for a change in the algorithms that have us so hooked to scrolling and surfing.

Social networks are not the best for concentration, memory capacity or mental health. I’ve heard Nicholas Carr writes about it at length in his book “The Shallows”. I’ve not yet read it, perhaps due to my attention span getting shorter. (On a “bad” day I’ll still read research to cheer myself up).

Here’s a collection of bookmarks I’ve been meaning to get to. Does anyone bookmark anymore? I feel like most use Pinterest instead of bookmarks. Anyway, this is the most procrastinating thing you can do, to save bookmarks and (pretending?) intending to get to them eventually.

How do you learn a language? by Richard Simcott (who co-organizes the Polyglot Conference!). I have been asked this question so many times I’ve lost track and I always intend to answer with this post. Only problem is, it’s in English and most people who ask me how to learn a language are usually wondering how to learn English. Bit of a catch 22 there, innit?

Sense8. A netflix original show that I both love and hate. Reasons I don’t like it can be summed up here and here. Main reason I dislike it is that it’s progressive and antiracist to the point of becoming regressive and racist, something I also intend to write about… And I love it because, the show is in the end about love and connection.

An intro into memory. I wrote a book this past summer, introducing people to memory techniques, unforgettable and fascinating stories about memory. This page helped a lot in leading me into more research.

5 Neuroscience books. I want to get my ph.D. and do neuroscience afterward, like so many of my friends seem to be doing. We’ll see how the academia side of life goes though.

Press kits. Journalists and other media people ask for pictures and facts and since I’m only one person it gets hard to keep up. This is why making a bomb af press kit would be great, but I still haven’t gotten around to that. This is what I’ve made so far. But I should probably look into the tips here and here.

Gifted. Chris Evans is a single man raising a child prodigy and the movie plays with the very real issue of our inability to understand what the better ways to raise “brilliant” children are. I watched this movie on a plane and something about flying makes movies better, so that might’ve affected my love for it. It was smarter than Will Hunting and had a more realistic depiction of what life is like for a child “genius” than most depictions in culture. Before I got on the flight, I had just read this thought on existential depression in gifted children, so it felt like an obvious choice when I saw it was available to watch on the flight.

September song arrangement. In one of the most satisfying season finales and shows of all time, Big Little Lies featured this song in its last episode. I want to make something similar soon using this song and also get a piano. Playing the piano makes me happy, it’s weird how adulthood sometimes has you forget that you’re a person with hopes and dreams and hobbies, not just some productivity bunny who does endless chores and tasks for capitalist purposes.