Happy New Year

Tomorrow, February 16, marks this year's Lunar New Year. It's the most celebrated holiday in much of East Asia and a time for new, new, new. The week before the new year begins, families devote time and energy to getting rid of the old and preparing as much as possible for a fruitful new year. This takes the form of clearing out unnecessary things, old magazines and newspapers, no longer worn clothing and shoes and any dust bunnies behind the sofa that are safe all year round except for now. It's less about making resolutions and more about setting yourself up for success. On the day, money is given out in small red envelopes to ensure the continual flow of wealth and well-wishes are exchanged from young to old and vice versa. May your year be filled with happiness, may you stay strong and healthy, may you do well in work and life, may your wealth flow in like water and out like...well, much slower.

See you on the flip side.



Take a break

Life is noisy. Work, social life, side projects, travel—there aren’t enough hours in a week to do everything we want to do. But how do we know what it is that we need to do?

I’ve been feeling rather numb for a while. It’s something I’ve gotten used to in my adult life, but there are certain times where you recognize the numbness from an outside place and think there’s something you must do to confront the situation. And it’s no surprise that tackling an inner feeling can be difficult when we have so many external things to deal with on a near-constant basis. It seems the only time you can find internal quietude is in your sleep.

So I decided to take a vacation. I had several days available that would expire at the end of the year and I don’t typically take vacation during the holiday season without more advance notice, so I spent the days on nothing in particular and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

That first weekend, I had some family in town which was a nice way to kick things off. Then I planned a few loose tasks for the week and some days ahead, things like: clean the floors, work on this site, study a lot of code, go for walks around different neighborhoods. I also penciled in a few events: visit a museum with a buddy, attend a couple meetups and networking events. Not too much, but just enough and also some with the option of not having to hold myself to if I didn’t feel like it that day.

Sprinkle in some reading and a good deal of sleep.

All in all, did I come to any sort of life-altering realization during my staycation? Not really, but I do believe it allowed me to see my current circumstances with a more objective eye. I was able to, first, recall the things I really enjoyed doing and, second, actually devote more mental energy towards those things—things like writing, reading and seeing art.

Particularly in a place like New York City, it is tough to admit you need a break because everything is happening at breakneck speeds. Money is exchanged, people get promotions, deals get signed. You need to cut it all out just to think.

- A


Three Things I'm Currently Reading

I don't know about you, but I'm the type of person that always has more than one book going at a time. I like a little variety, depending on my mood: certain days, I wake up and I feel like escaping real life, so I'll grab a fictional story for the commute to work; other times, I want to read something that makes me feel productive, along the lines of "life advice/self-improvement-ish," that I can apply right away or at least file away in a mental folder for applying eventually. 

Here's what I'm currently rotating through:

H is for Hawk  
Fun fact: when I was about 9 years old, I read Frightful's Mountain, and since then my only true dream has been to live in solitude in the woods, preferably near some mountains, with falcons as my only companions. Fast-forward some years and I grabbed this memoir by Helen Macdonald off the shelf at McNally Jackson Books. Having landed on several "Best Books" lists in the past year, this book has been front and center at many of the book shops around town. It's about how the author copes with the death of her father through acquiring and training a full-grown goshawk. It's an introspective work, at times quiet and, in other times, tense with emotion. The writing reminds me a bit of Annie Dillard, another author known for her intricately detailed memoirs.

Sam the Cat 
This is a bit different from the types of books I typically gravitate towards. This collection of short stories by Matthew Klam feature hilariously, tragically and realistically flawed male figures. I read through almost half the book the same day I picked it up from a shop in Park Slope. I'm still working through it, but what I find most attention grabbing about this work is how refreshingly frank it is about the modern male perspective. The main figure in each short story I've gone through is typically engaged in some dissatisfying heterosexual relationship, at once reaching to regain the love and adoration of his partner and objectifying the next hot thing that crosses his path. It's not romantic, but it's terribly real and hilariously sad. 

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Big Murakami fan here. I'm often intimidated by his bigger works because I'm a slow reader that loses interest quickly. This being the fourth or fifth Murakami book I've picked up, I can confidently say it won't be my last. This is the story of a man who goes off looking for his missing cat and finds a whole lot more than he bargained for. In the vein of Murakami stories, it's surreal—meaning it's weird, creepy and has a lot of strange sexual tones (and actual sex) running through it. I'm consistently awed by the intricate worlds that Murakami spins together and can get truly lost in them when reading his work. Although long, there are no dull moments. He's a master of stringing together sentences and passages that leave you constantly on the edge of your seat.

- A


Louise Bourgeois At the MoMA: Through January 2018

During some recent time off, with a chance borrowing of a roommate’s member pass to the MoMA, I visited the two-floor exhibition “Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait.” As you might imagine, the show features sculpture, drawings and prints by the prolific artist Louise Bourgeois. As an undergraduate student of art history, I was already familiar with well-known works, like The Destruction of the Father (1974), Fillette (1968), and Soft Landscape I (1967)—abstract sculptures and installations that were dark, sexual and utterly visceral in nature. This was the Bourgeois in my mind, which is why I was enlightened by the multi-faceted, thematically-organized show of her lesser known projects.

The exhibition is currently on view through January 28, 2018. Learn more at the Museum of Modern Art and perhaps check out this review of the show in the New York Times.

More works by Bourgeois below; images from Tate Modern.


recent reads no. 7

 Stanley Bloom via  booooooom

Stanley Bloom via booooooom

It's feels truly fall, in spite of last weekend's 80-degree days. I washed all my sheets (and floor rug) thanks to a doggy visitor at the end of summer, and now I've got this fall cleaning bug. I have a mild obsession with having to turn over everything I own at least once a season, so I've been deep-cleaning and discarding as many of my belongings as I can bear to part with: tossing never-used makeup, clothes that no longer feel like "me"—and maybe getting a few new pieces (new shoes!)—plus taking stock of the dry goods in the kitchen cabinets and using them up or restocking with new, exotic ingredients (barley, anyone?). 

If you're looking to dust off the cobwebs, here's 6 tips on getting organized this fall and a few other thoughtful reads for your morning commute. 
- A

This former surgeon general says there’s a ‘loneliness epidemic’ and work is partly to blame
How Listening to Trees Can Help Reveal Nature’s Connections
The Secret Lives of Cannibal Stars Revealed
The Unconventional Life of Mary Walker, the Only Woman to Have Received the U.S. Medal of Honor
‘Be glad what you is’
Are You Happy? (But like, really, actually, truly?)
1970s Stock Portraits (You need to see these)

 Samuel Zeller via  Miss Moss

Samuel Zeller via Miss Moss


feed yourself

One of my favorite hobbies is browsing the aisles of an unfamiliar grocery store or little food shop and reading the names of all the ingredients and products I've never heard of. As I've grown out of post-grad life and fallen deeper into the corporate twilight zone, I find myself having less motivation to experiment and discover new foods and ingredients than I used to. 

Taking care of yourself can be a struggle, especially if you're often cooking for one. Finding motivation to feed yourself healthful things—vegetables, whole grains, PROBIOTICS!!—even remembering to just drink water instead of cofee for once, can be a burden to think about. It's so much easier to just eat the free snacks in the office or microwave a quesadilla for dinner three days in a row instead of preparing a home-cooked meal because, ugh, the effort. 

I have to keep reminding myself the payoff is worth the one to two hours I spend on Sundays and sometimes Saturdays, throwing some rice in a pot of boiling water and tossing together a simple loaf cake—like this pumpkin bread. Chopping up an onion and a couple cloves of garlic probably won't zap me of all energy for the rest of the weekend and it absolutely isn't a waste of my precious time off from work.

And eating an actual meal during my #saddesklunch is definitely better than grabbing some snacks out of my desk drawer.


recent reads no. 6

It's been nearly two months since the last recent reads post. These have been the only posts I've been updating since March of this year. There's a small behind-the-scenes effort, led and executed by yours truly, alone, to change this, but we shall divulge no other details about the project at this point in time. 

Today is Labor Day, marking the unofficial end of summer, and I couldn't be more excited for the fall. I'm ready for full-force, 50-degree-fahrenheit days and breezy, sunny weekends, and I welcome the inevitable first frost. In the summer, time seems to stop moving and I feel restless. I find it unusually difficult to affect change in the summer months, so here's to turning a new leaf (ha, ha..).

what a web developer does via The Odin Project
no one knows what a feminist is anymore via The Outline
reducing one's total belongings to 115 things via Hackernoon
motherhood isn't sacrifice, it's selfishness via The New York Times
Agnes Martin finds the light that gets lost via The Paris Review
miniature scenes by Derrick Lin via HonestlyWTF
why your website matters more than your social media via Natalie Catalina
how to be your best self via Man Repeller
stock photos should go back to the 1970s via Mashable

- A