How I should’ve reacted to racial insensitivity

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Source: Karolina Grabowska via kaboompics

We invited a couple over for dinner yesterday. My husband works with Adam, but we had never before met Laurie, his girlfriend.

When they arrived, my husband dropped his typical line, “Sorry for being Asian, but would you mind taking off your shoes?” He often pairs this request with an Asian joke, keeping things light-hearted.

Dinner is going well. The conversation and wine are flowing. With alcohol, my husband’s skin transitions to a sunburnt hue. “Oh my goodness, Asian glow!” exclaims Laurie. We politely chuckle.

The topic of age comes up. My husband is 34 but looks 27. This renders…

As it becomes my new normal

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Photo by Jin Yun on Unsplash

I attended quality Florida public schools growing up. Several classmates came from wealthy families; their parents were often doctors and lawyers who lived in waterfront properties. My school also had poor kids raised by single mothers and/or first-generation immigrants. I sat somewhere in the middle, a stable two-parent household with middle-class jobs. Some friend groups skewed affluent, others working-class, but overall, kids from different socioeconomic backgrounds intermingled in the cafeteria.

College classmates skewed wealthier. Their families took trips abroad and owned second homes. None of my college friends seemed stressed about tuition. …

With screenshots of my spending to prove it

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Source: Unsplash by Michael Longmire

I developed an online shopping habit over the pandemic. I wouldn’t call it a full-blown addiction, but I enjoyed a quick dopamine hit when I clicked the “purchase” button.

Our brain activity while shopping is well documented. Psychology Today reports that online shopping is often more exciting than in-store shopping. When you place an order, you have to wait. This builds anticipation, which leads to a greater eventual dopamine release.

I experienced these larger dopamine hits once my package arrived. Before long, my closet was filling up with unworn items. I knew things were getting out of hand, so I…

Reflections and takeaways from forgotten footage

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The only surviving photo of my grandfather’s younger sister

My grandfather is a holocaust survivor. He passed away when I was seventeen. We both lived in South Florida, meaning I saw him often as a child.

Yet he developed dementia when I was in middle school. I try to focus on my early memories of him; back when he was jovial, fit, and sarcastic. I fondly recall his love of ice skating, menthol candies, and pet parakeets.

I don’t recall him telling me stories of his time in concentration camps, though I’ve heard several stories secondhand from my father. I was aware of a testimony he gave to the…

How every legacy is worth cherishing and recording

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Source: Unsplash by Ekaterina Shakharova

“We should hire a videographer!”

I coaxed my husband. I am persuading him to document his parents’ stories. His parents are 72 and 69. They grew up in post-war Seoul and immigrated to the US during the 1970s. Long before the streets of Gangnam district were associated with glitz and glamour.

Despite knowing that his parents grew up in post-war Korea, my husband knows little about their experience. They don’t talk about it. From his parents’ perspective, they had it easy. It was their parents and grandparents that had it difficult — the ones that actually survived Japanese-occupied Korea and…

The best way to explore a city is on foot and by tongue

Ah, San Diego. The land of fish tacos, IPAs, and 72 degrees. Whether it’s your first or 100th time in America’s finest city, I recommend these nine iconic walks and bites:

(1) Balboa Park

Walk along “El Prado” to view stunning museums, gardens, and fountains. The museums’ facades are exquisite; many of which were constructed in 1915 to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal during the Panama-California Exposition.

Where to eat:

Azuki Sushi: I lived in Japan for two years, which ruined American sushi for me. This is my second favorite sushi spot in San Diego. …

The last D2C holdout and 4 companies to watch in the space

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Source: Jakayla Toney via Unsplash

But first, a brief history

In 1920, the 18th Amendment went into effect, signaling the start of prohibition. In 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment and granted states the power to control alcohol.

Alcohol manufacturers were forced to sell to wholesalers, who must sell to retailers, who then sell to consumers. This is known as the three-tier system. Alcohol is classified as a wine, beer, or spirit, and each category is often subject to distinct regulations.


The only major piece of federal legislation to challenge this was Granholm v. Heald in 2005. The Supreme Court permitted interstate wine shipping direct to consumers. In…

And why we don’t have an answer

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Photo by author

During my graduate school orientation week at Stanford, I exchanged small talk with countless classmates. They would politely ask, “what’s your name, where are you from, and what did you do before grad school?”

I would respond with, “My name’s Leigh, I’m from Florida, and prior to Stanford, I spent six years in the US Navy.” Then the follow-up question.

“Wow, how did you decide to join the Navy?”

Time and time again. I began to expect this question every time I met someone new, and I began to dread it.

It is strange — you would think I would…

And 7 things I would do differently

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Source: Nickelina Noel via Unsplash

I hit two major milestones this year: turning 30 and 300k in savings. Here are my accounts:

Former employer 401k: $169k
Current employer 401k: $51k
Roth IRA: $38k
High-yield savings account: $43k

I have an additional $12k in a checking account, Bitcoin, and investments in friends' companies. I am debt-free and did this on a modest salary. I had no major side gigs, no rich uncles, and (sadly) didn’t buy Bitcoin and Tesla stock in 2017.

I spent six years in the US Navy (2012-2018) and attended business school directly afterward (2018–2020). …

And the lessons I learned from it

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Photo by author

In my final quarter at Stanford, I took a class called Lives of Consequence. The course was as inciteful as the name implies. It provided clarity on how I want to live my life and the legacy I intend to leave.

We were caricatures of liberal arts students. We took personality quizzes, journaled, and experimented with altering our ingrained habits. Though across these introspective exercises, one stands out above the rest:

We were asked to write our own obituary.

Our immediate reaction was predictable, “how morbid!” But once our professor, Rod Kramer, explained its merits, we settled down with a…

Leigh Penn

Mediocre surfer and snowboarder, spend my free time trying to improve. Warm weather is my north star.

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