this is where i've settled

*I am currently living in a small apartment in the Mission District of San Francisco. It's not a main street, but it's not a quiet street either. There's a lesbian bar on the corner, and on occasion, I'll hear Mexican karaoke when I'm about to go to bed. The elderly Asian woman across the street rummages through our recycling bins on Monday nights after we put them out, taking all of our bottles and cans to sell back for the California Cash Refund credit.


*My room is small but cozy. The bed takes up approximately 85% of the room; I use half of it for book storage. Even though my room is about half the size of the other bedroom in the apartment, I chose it because I like the light that pours in through the windows in the mornings and through the afternoons. I don't mind the smallness because I don't need that much space. I'm still attached to some of my material things, but my intention is to live a more compact life.


*Material things, case in point. Necessary candles, post-its, eye mask, ear plugs, glasses, lollipops, pens, water bottle...

*This is most of my room. I can't get much more my room into a single photograph.

*My two houseplants and some empty vases. I try to take good care of these houseplants but find myself googling houseplant ailments every other day. This does not bode well for future pets or children.

*The hallway from my bedroom. The main door is at the bottom of those stairs. The bathroom (which houses a tub that has talons as feet!) is at the top of the stairs. To the right, the kitchen, the dining room, and the laundry room. The closed door is my roommate's bedroom.

*This is the living room. We have an electric fireplace, empty book shelves, and a television I do not know how to operate.

*I wash dishes about four times a day so I spend a lot of time in this little nook.

*The dining room. My mom gave me the cactus. My roommate received those orchids in the mail. There is a copy of The Economist on our table but it belongs to neither my roommate nor me. We receive all of Adam Flynn's mail, and that is his subscription. Who is Adam Flynn? I do not know, but we have a stack of Adam Flynn's magazines and other paraphernalia in case he is ever interested in reading them.

*On most weekday nights, I choose the quiet life that my apartments, a respite from the production and attention of work. But the world outside, in all its grit and color, is the perfect counterpoint, and I'm reminded every time I step outside that there is so much to see and so many places to explore. Everyday I navigate the dichotomy between the indoors and the outdoors; I struggle with sitting in a cubicle for so long, and sometimes I am scared to walk anywhere at night. Some days I want to sit at my dining table all day long and on others I find myself bolting down 18th street, sucking in all the fresh air I can get as I weave through the Mission and into the Castro. I'm still trying to figure out all sorts of balance in my life right now, but I love being out of an institution and just living in the world, which can be messy in a really beautiful way. Just living in the world right now, and trying to make the most of where I am, who I am, and all the things I have here with me...


this is la buissonniere

*Overlooking Lake Leman, on windy road in the hills of Evian, France, there is a little estate called La Buissonniere.



*It is lived in occasionally -- a refuge for sojourners and travelers. A place of respite, it has taken on the motley characteristics of everyone who has ever passed through.


*It is imprinted but still untamed and wild. It is kept and unkept.


*A simple structure of unpolished wood leaves little to be desired. The place is strange and unimaginable because of all the incongruous things it contains, the things left behind by each of its inhabitants -- half-drunken bottles of wine, dusty porcelain dolls, cross-stitched pillows with outdated aphorisms. Surrounded by forests, sandwiched between a sky and lake of blue, La Buissonniere is plain and unaffected -- purposefully, it seems, so that the wild beauty on all sides is an overwhelming embrace.


*It is easy to just sit and look here. It is easier to be still, to be okay with this one present moment.



*Someday I'll return.



this is a dinner scene







*Dinner with Mom's side of the family at the Japanese restaurant Mitsui in Taipei, Taiwan.
*Grandpa knows how to eat well.


this is me without you

*Sometimes I question our culture's lionization of individualism. On one hand, it pushes us to differentiate ourselves and affirms that it is okay, if not best, to do so. On the other, there exist social norms that bind us to a certain extent of individuation. Our culture's individualism equates dependence with weakness, making the Jack London-nomad and the Indiana Jones -- explorer the heroes of our lives, the characters we should strive to embody. Yet this exhortation to differentiate, when superimposed on a social context -- a context most of us have to and choose to navigate-can result in cutthroat competition, surges of jealousy, and the playing out of Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game." Or are those things just the darkest projections of human nature?

*One of the greatest relational ironies then is the fact that the most intimate relationships are also some of the darkest. Obsessive loyalty and obsequious empathy somehow mandate a counterbalance of treachery and malice, which are all the more treacherous and malicious because of they are subtle and more importantly because they are yoked to the most angelic of virtues.

*Me Without You (2001, dir. Sandra Goldbacher) is a coming-of-age movie that traces the lifelong friendship of Holly and Marina, two girls growing up on the Isle of Wight in the 70s. It is difficult to watch without seeing some of their lives in your own -- moreso the nuances and attitudes embodied in their friendship than the plot itself. You see the imbalances of their friendship: the way Holly always feels mousy and invisible next to Marina and how Marina uses that fact to bolster her own self-image, the way Marina is so needy and can manipulate the shit out of Holly but Holly ingratiates herself to Marina and can see that Marina depends so much on her; but those very imbalances also prove complementary in some good and other sick and twisted ways: they give each other social security; Marina quells the timidity in Holly while Holly tames the wild child in Marina; Holly's calm and balanced family is the antithesis to Marina's unstable and broken household. Yet to reduce the friendship to such simple declarative statements would be too easy -- and false. Every relationship is more complex than that. There are no straight lines, no clear actions, and no easy dichotomy of right and wrong.

*Holly and Marina's friendship is riddled with the anxiety of growing up, the necessary discomforts of discovering and shedding skins, of needing the security found in each other but so desperately wanting security in an identity apart from the other. When uniqueness becomes so personally significant, jealousy also becomes easier, and loyalty feels suffocating. Holly loves Marina's brother but Marina does everything in her power to prevent the fruition of that love, for Holly's loving anyone else, especially her own brother, seems to be a threat not only to their friendship but to Marina's own worth and existence. A manifestation of this horrible tension plays out in the separate, furtive romances that Holly and Marina each develop with the same professor. Each so longs to be loved and desired outside of their friendship. At the very least, each wants to be assured that this is a possibility.

*The thing about friendships is that they are as beautiful as they are messy. They are far from ideal, as I've learned and slowly swallowed. The amount of intimacy often directly correlates with the number of words and feelings left unsaid. Me Without You is not so much about two lives in tandem as it is about the single life formed out of two people, and that is a life so fraught with both love and hatred -- or something that is the combination of the two -- that it can be excruciatingly painful to watch. It's hard to love any of the characters more than another. This isn't a movie trying to further a storybook plot. Instead it sheds light on the delicate complexities of relationships that we can recognize outside of ourselves but are obscured or ignored in our own relationships. At the end of the day, even after the worst of betrayals, Holly and Marina lie side by side with their back on a bed, legs propped up parallel to the white bedroom wall, smoking cigarettes to their toes. They're together, even thirty years later, but this is no fairytale ending. Friendships never are.

*A quote from Jacques Derrida on friendship, taken from my friend Alyssa's thesis on friendship:
"The possibilization of the impossible must remain at one and the same time as undecideable – and therefore as decisive – as the future itself ... but not without suggesting that friendship is implied in advance therein: friendship for oneself, for the friend and for the enemy."

*I'll let you think about that one.


this is how to start off the day in a classy way

 time & place
**Saturday morning, 11 AM by the Charles River.

the ingredients
-African masai cloths
-3 wine glasses
-10 solo cups
-red wine 
-au bon pain coffee
-tangerine juice
-tuscan pane
-cinnamon rolls, 2 kinds
-baby carrots
-brie cheese
-honey goat cheese
-canteloupe spears
-red grapes
-tomato basil hummus
-milano cookies 
-pita bites
-freshly baked sweet potato biscuits
-homemade cornbread
-a full pecan pie


the picnic

**We rolled out of bed and onto the banks of the Charles river, food in tow. The first few hours of the weekend were spent sprawled on the grass, wining and dining in the sun. Cheap coffee, freshly sliced cold cuts, soft cheese melting under the heat, the creamy hummus slowly forming a crackly crust after our bellies were full and the food lay out untouched, looking like the gawdy plasticine ornamentation of a scene we had arranged. The broken pieces of bread scattered carelessly and the solo cups filled halfway with lukewarm coffee were the tokens of our happy langour.

**It is the desperate hunger of young adulthood that encourages one to eat cheaply (e.g. Milano's, Tropicana) and simultaneously galvanizes our most hedonistic and epicurean urges; the former makes the latter seem all the more wild and indulgent (e.g. prosciutto, bresaola, champagne, wine glasses).



**The household that I lived with while studying in Italy served food that look suspiciously like that of a hospice ward.  On a second thought, it was probably worse. The frozen tuna and corn pizza, the nightly chocolate pudding cups, and the hot dogs would have seemed like the makings of a great farce had they been conjured up in my imagination – they were not. Then one night Leonardo brought home a parchment paper packet of dark red, thinly-sliced meat, and despite my aversion towards meat, my desperate hunger prevailed and I tried a few slices atop a bed of arugula, with grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice. The bresaola – diaphanous sheets of dry-cured lean beef - was salty and light, without any toughness. When meat is dry-cured, the umami flavors become concentrated as the glutamic acid rises, as in the making of cheese. In this transformation of flavor, the meat takes on new, sweeter aromas (which is why prosciutto is so often paired with melon). Bresaola, to me, is a saving food, and the memory I have of it incited a surprised joy when Jonathan, upon arrival to the picnic, set out a parchment paper packet, similar to the one Leo brought home that night. Bresaola and honey goat cheese on white bread - salty, creamy, chewy, curiously sweet, and slightly tangy. Nothing tasted better that morning.


Drink champagne. 
Make mimosa.
Sip your coffee. 
Lick your fingers.
Shoot the shit.
Lay your head down.

 _MG_2787 _MG_2771

**The sun ducked in and out. Danny couldn't decide whether to keep his shirt on or off.

**Even the decisive relinquishing of our routines can sometimes feel like wrestling a pacifier from a baby's mouth. But life is not a clock that winds itself down into the dark. Under that sun, in that timeless space, I was so content among friends and food, and the clarity of what I value most in life became so tangible, so physical, and so present, that it was easy for a few hours – and so pleasurable – to forget all the urgencies that lay beyond our immediate grasp.


**It is with a huge sigh of relief that we shed our winter coats and slip into our summer skins.


this is as careless as carefree gets

*It was the summer of 2009 and I didn't have a clue about New York City.


*I was naive and enthusiastic, and I wanted to see everything through a camera lens.


*I was braver than I am now, fearless and unworried about people's opinions. I didn't know much about fine dining or the finer things in life; I didn't know anything about what went on in New York nor did I care, yet I was hungrier than I had ever been and have ever been. I was voracious with my camera; I was brazen with strangers. I fed off the purest form of energy that exists in New York City, the energy of a city that is awake and always moving and the thrill of knowing that the possibility of ecstatic discovery lay as equally in getting lost as it did in seeking and finding. I had no conceptions of "cool" or "in." I was not self-conscious enough to revere those things. Instead, I placed art-making on my altar, and the urgency to make a good image swelled in me daily. There was no worry about who I was going to be or where I was going later in life, only the immediacy of the people I was meeting and the things I was doing.



*I was obsessed with cats, little dolls, cavernous spaces, bookstores, and the desolation of Coney Island. I don't know why I liked those thing, but then again, I never questioned why I did or didn't. I spent nights falling asleep in my neighbor's room to Wes Anderson movies. I ate the most disgusting, rubbery carrot raisin cookies from the Union Square Greenmarket and became attached to the way they tasted. I cat-sat for a friend and ended up with flea bites all over my body.

*I'm not sure what happened after that summer, but there hasn't been a moment since when I felt freer and bolder than I did that summer. I didn't carry the same expectations, perceptions, and determinations of myself that I do now. God, those things are heavy. There's a picture of me at the end of that summer, as I was about to move out of my Brooklyn sublet. I'm laughing and totally clueless as to what's going on; if you look closer at the picture, you can see that my fly is completely unzipped, and I'm there, grinning like a fool, completely unaware. That unawareness was not the ignorance of a blissful fool; that unawareness was not giving a damn about things that weren't worth giving a damn about. As close to careless as carefree gets. As candid and unaffected as naivete allowed. Those were some good times.

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