steep

This one is a doosy. If this is your first time to my blog, I'd highly suggest reading some older posts before taking a stab at this one.

leafy greens

When driving from Austin to Houston you eventually encounter a curve about half-way that sends you Eastward on I-10. I remember in college hearing that a friend had passed away there along with a girl who sat in the passenger seat. Looking at it, the outside of the left turn doesn't have any railing at all. If you weren't paying attention for 30 seconds you could easily fly right off. Every time I pass by that section of the freeway I think of them and their last moments.

Suspended in air.

The impact of the collision.

The heat of the car's insides spewing everywhere.

I drive as close as I can to the inside of the curve.

..

pristine

The past few months, have yet again, been a roller-coaster ride of emotion.

The following bit was written during a low:

"Pat's doing well." That's the general consensus now. I'm working, I'm living the bay life. I'm getting drones in the mail as gifts, I'm still consuming all of these fine foods and drinks.

The thing is, I can't shake the feeling of being estranged to it all.

Sitting in the back seat of Brett's SUV, Elenor told me about her friends at school and how they were being mean to her, "I asked all of my friends to play with me but they wouldn't." I wish I could have told her something to console her, but it instantly reminded me of my situation right now.

Whether it's my fault or not, I have very few true friends. I try to deal with the loneliness, but it's eating at me.

Although very similar to depression, loneliness feels distinctly different. It hits later in the day, and instead of being something I'd want to personify(depression to me feels like a voice in your head that you can argue against), loneliness doesn't have a mind of it's own, it's just this big black void.

An encroaching, all-consuming, nothingness.

When you're alone even your thoughts don't have a friend.

..

I've been working my balls off. Who would have thought?

The first 4 weeks of my new job was spent working non-stop. We had a sharp due date of launching a re-design of our company's website, which was 200+ pages.

Go to work, go home and work some more, wake up and think about working before going to work, even on weekends.

The site has been launched, and it's a huge relief.

In comparison to my previous job, I'm finding my tasks easy to break into chunks and finish piece by piece. I feel generally appreciated by my coworkers and I think we get along quite well.

I'm even starting to learn a bit of design, It's all pretty dope.

..

Santa Cruz.

My last trip was for EVO, which was in late July. I again, coaxed Matt into driving me somewhere.

Santa Cruz, why not? I liked it quite a bit from my first time visiting. Let's go.

Derby

Most of the time was spent with Matt hitting up multiple skate spots, and me realizing no matter what I wanted to do, it lied in this extremely small downtown area. Having time to burn, I tried to get a haircut, but it seemed every single salon in the city was booked for the next 2 weeks, which felt odd since Santa Cruz feels like a town with not much going on.

We went shopping/thrifting and Matt bought some hilarious "dad clothes." I picked up a Chasity Belt record that seemed to call to me from a distance.

One of Matt's childhood friends said they were having a house party. It all seemed quite rushed and we had to get there ASAP. It was probably going to be wild, nuts, and have tons of alcohol, we were told to pick up a pineapple, oh boy.

There wasn't even time to go to a "fun" place for dinner. We ate at a fucking Whole Foods.

Upon entering the site of the "party" I was quickly offered a tiki inspired drink, "Here we go" I thought to myself. The thing I wasn't expecting was, I was asked, "How many cats do you want?"

"What?"

I was offered a tray full of these plastic cats that you can use to put on the edge of your cup, I got two.

How many cats do you want?

Okay I get it now. These guys are grad students. They're slightly eccentric, but nothing that I wasn't used to. College vibes. They made a comment on how we didn't bring a reusable bag to the supermarket.

I felt immediately relieved at this moment.

They even made one of the hugest bowls of guacamole I've ever seen.

Low and behold, it was the 150th anniversary of the Santa Cruz boardwalk! Let's go see some fireworks.

We set off into the night, walking at an extremely fast pace. Someone said, "This is my normal walking speed when I'm walking around campus." I was barely able to keep up.

The fireworks started before we arrived. *Boom*

We passed by a blur of people peeking out of their small businesses, beach-side motels, and those taking a break from dinner.

The special moment seems to awaken this sleepy town. The glow casted a beautiful shade of wonderment on everyone.

Finally arriving at the boardwalk, we could clearly start to see fireworks. The thing is, I could have really cared less about the fireworks, I was more focused on the entrancement and emotion from the people watching them.

"How can I be less estranged? I've seen fireworks before... big whoop. But how can I be in this moment?"

I tried to take a photo of people looking into the sky; the wonderment, the range of emotion, but no firework photo can quite match that one I took so many years ago on the fourth of July in Boston.

One of the girls, Maria (we were told that the proper way to say her name was with a Spanish accent), lead us to a house close by. She somehow had the key to this older ladies place, and we all followed her to a nice outdoor patio. We sat there, the fireworks still booming overhead, the glitter of lights, out of focus, disparaging into the background, as we passed around a decent bottle of Chardonnay that I had bought earlier.

Suddenly this moment seemed more spontaneous, unique.

We went to a bowling alley that also had a back bar with Karaoke. It all felt like something from a different time era, a slice of Americana.

I went with my go to song, "My Way" by Fastball. Singing it says, "Despite my appearance, I grew up here in America, in a sleepy suburb, just like you. I was right fucking there, and I know this song so well you can't deny it." It feels weird having such a tender bond with my upbringing. It may have been all Capri-sun commercials and Nickleodean, but the end of the day it's still culture, and it's ingrained into me.

Not in the mood to get a last second $200 hotel room Matt and I ended up driving back to Oakland after midnight. We were tired. Our last memory of our day trip was at a random diner, which was huge, totally empty, grossly over staffed with an enormous menu. I ordered eggs, sausage, and hashbrowns - probably the safest thing to get in that circumstance.

They still had pay phones. What a time warp.

..

aquamarine

As work started, I still found time to go to George and Lennie twice a week.

There's something about the way the cafe's speakers render audio. The guitar in acoustic songs ring and reverberate, there's a hallow yet deep ping in the percussion, the high's soar high without clipping.

Angel Olsen, Chasity belt... I'm slowly piecing together my dream record collection.

Records in 2016? right? haha.

coffee pinata

For it's birthday, there was live music and performances and Brett got a large coffee cup shaped pinata filled with bouncing balls and candy. Nathan came by with a bottle of Amaro as a gift.

..

I've always thought I'd lose my car in some sort of epic scenario... like finally breaking down on a cross country road trip, crashing into something, or like putting it into neutral and sending down a hill into the ocean.

I remember skipping school and parking outside of a friend's house and sleeping there the whole day, hiding.

Packing in all my college roommate's and my belongings and driving back to Houston for Summer break.

Going to my friends apartment and trying craft beer for the first time. I liked Shiner, so I could hang right? We got a dopplebock and dogfish head 90 minute IPA among other things. I couldn't get past the heavy bitterness, but I still plowed through those beers, got back into my car because I was too lazy to walk 4 blocks, and backed into what I thought was a house. Luckily it was just a poll, too low to see out the rear view mirror. That hole has been on my bumper ever since, I never bothered to fix it.

Packing all of my most cherished belongings into it and driving out to San Francisco.

For the past half year or so, I had parked my car underneath this highway overpass for 3 weeks at a time before ever checking up on it. The day Matt and I left for Santa Cruz, we drove past the spot I had last left it and it was gone. Turns out a tow lot had the car there for over 3 weeks, and the fine was over $2300. To relinquish the fee I gave them the title and keys to it. I no longer needed it, I was moving to the city where a car would have been even more of a burden.

Good bye car.

..

nomica

I've gone to Nathan's new restaurant Nomica... probably 7 or more times at this point. It's safe to say that I like it.

Stray Cat Rock

I wrote a review, which was heavily edited by Umami Mart: http://blog.umamimart.com/2016/10/nomica/

My criticisms, which were left out of the post, are that the music and decor aren't great and the food is inconsistent. (I was a bit harsher than that)

nomica seaweed

I think the owners are too scared of creating an environment that's outside of people's comfort-zones, which doesn't make sense given the sophistication of the drink and food menu. It's a shame.

ariel

But definitely try Nomica! Go on a Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday and sit at the bar. Get lots of drinks!

..

At the end of one of my meals at Nomica, we decided to have after dinner tea. It was an enlightening decision. There's an oolong tea that they have from Song Tea called "Buddha's hand" that's just the perfect... mellow, deep, earthy, chocolaty way to end a meal. It sucks out the sweetness that's still lingering in your mouth from dessert, the warmth flows through you, calming you down at first, and then the caffine kicks in, giving you a temporary jolt of energy, a tea high.

song tea

On a quiet Sunday afternoon, after it had been raining the whole morning, I found myself at Song Tea. I arrived in my usual fashion, hot and sweaty, especially from having the humidity in the air trapped within my non-breathable rain jacket while I got lost in a neighborhood I've never walked around before.

gaiwan

Seeing that there was a group in the middle of a tea tasting, I sat in a lounge chair and read some of the new issue of Cereal Magazine. There's a small insert that has a story about a girl growing up in the US that was forced to move to Korea that I liked quite a bit.

I soon found myself the only customer left in the store, and the owners still offered a tasting to me. 3 teas, chosen from anywhere in the range of teas that they had.

I started with a white, which sucked the heat out of my body, an instant calm.

song tea

I'm not going to bore you with the details of each cup, but I did find the their whole "ritual" of brewing tea very soothing. The wait while the water is warming up, the measuring of the tea leaves, an initial small pour of water just to extract the fragrance from the tea, the small tiny tea cups for each taste, the way you bring air into each mouthful of tea to aerate it, each subsequent steep... the repetition. The whole process reminds me very much of the photo dark room. There's room for things to trickle, spill over, be wet. But in the end everything is weighed, timed, and deliberate.

bonavita

If I meet you today, I'll be the first to tell you how this tea kettle has changed everything for me. I have seen the light. I can never go back. You're probably getting one for christmas, your wedding gift, your birthday, etc.

..

rainy day

In my dark times, I found myself purchasing a series of "self-help" zines titled "ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, DEFRIENDING" written by a supposed PHD. So far I've only read the defriending one(the other topics too scary at the time delve into) and it helped me out quite a bit.

In adult life, there's really no reason you should hangout with people that make you feel bad. It's as simple as that.

Up to this point, life has always felt like a race, a competition.

If you're reading this now, chances are that you're alive. Congrats, we made it.

We've all somehow figured out how to survive until this point, and that's commendable. We all have different goals and come from varying levels of wealth, base values, and levels of determination and commitment.

We're all so different.

subway terminal

The thought of that seems to send my mind for a trip.

You guys know how I am about food, right? The connoisseur, the reviewer, the guy with the insider view and connection.

My opinions now, especially after the fact that most of you guys have ate at more Micheline star restaurants and are more well traveled than me, hold very little weight.

hanae and nathan

It's hard for me to make a recommendation because I can't guarantee you'll have the same wonderful time at a restaurant as me based on so many different factors. My experiences are unique, and they're special to me.

For me, at this point, it's more important that I have taken a stake in my own little part of the world, than it is to have crossed things off a checklist, to consistently have the best of the best, and to experience things "the correct way."

smart baby

We've always been told what we should value. It's been instilled in us in all the media we've ever consumed since we were kids, and most of us are trapped in that world. Social media tends to be a new breed of the same, borderline-propaganda level, stuff. It all feels so direct. Ideas are affirmed in an instant, as if likes are telling us what to do more of, what path to go down, when the unpopular path could yield something more fruitful or unique. Even our friends are selling things to us. When I scroll through, I can't avoid the bad thoughts, it really turns me against everyone... and because of that I'm trying to interact with it less.

Matt and I want to go up on stage and just repeat "Facebook, twitter, instagram, linked-in, tinder." over and over until people leave. It's gotten to that point.

It's great that you guys are doing whatever, please continue to share. I becoming more aware that, like mine, your experiences are your own. They're special to you, and that's wonderful and worth sharing.

But if you find yourself empty and unfulfilled chasing these things, there's a high likelihood you've been on a wild goose chase this whole time with no real goal line. This may be a very "silicon valley" angle, but at this point in our lives, we can be whoever we want to be.

Don't let the baggage of others' expectations for you hold you down.

okonomiyaki

At this moment, I'm at a high. Almost everything seems to be going well. I have a job that I like at an amazing company filled with people I genuinely enjoy being around, I have my own apartment in the direct center of one of the most urban cities in the world, my experiences seem to be unique and authentic. I'm a lot less lonely.

karaoke

It's so easy to go to Karaoke.

mogura

Heheh.

get high on mountains

I live right above George and Lennie, and their next project is a creative coworking space across the street called "Get High on Mountains" (link to their instagram)

..

I'm going to say this now:

I think my angst is gone.

That's right... I think my angsty years are behind me.

How do I know? How am I coming to this conclusion?

I'm sitting in a cafe in Houston. I haven't been here for over 2 years.

I haven't spoken a word to my parents in 2 years.

Sure I've thought about them, they could have died, something bad could have happened, etc. I still never contacted them, blocked them on everything. I even ran when they visited(the fact that they were out looking for me signaled to me that they were alive, which was enough for me). I slept in a private bathroom in the office and friend's house for a week.

Sure, hate me because of this. I see the "I want someone who treats his mom nicely" and "family is most important" on a ton of people's profiles. If you view me any differently now that you know this, you can go ahead and fuck off. You don't know me. (To me theres a distinction between teenage angst and having an attitude. :P) Sure I'm Asian and my parents were first generation immigrants, but my upbringing was different than yours, I can't relate to most of you.

It's taken me up to this point to be able to confront, and hopefully now control, all the rage, angst, and straight-up anger that I have had within me.

On paper, they never deserved to be ghosted, they've given me everything. To this day, I still believe I was the most spoiled kid out of anyone I've known, by far. I was never hit, not once. I'm pretty sure I've made my parents spend more money on pokemon cards and gundam models than your new car.

But when it became apparent very late in life that I was living in a bubble made just for me, everything changed. I felt lied to.

I was told to fear everything outside the realm of the house. I didn't bike around the neighborhood, I didn't travel much until after high school(I still have an ingrained fear of travel). Home was bountiful, safe, and fun. I was destined for something great, I was the smartest, the best at everything.

embarcadero

There was a lapse in this story sometime in high school. Suddenly school was difficult, I lived with just my dad for a few years, I got a car and had more freedom. When I first started to take photography seriously, my favorite genre quickly became street photography, which is the art of observing. It gave me a way to start answering my curiosities of this strange world around me. It gave me a way to relate, to exist in a world larger than myself.

Even though these cracks seemed to appear as early as high school, to this day I don't think I've "fully" left the fairy tail. My adult life has been a battle of trying to find my place in my definition of "real" society.

I can largely describe my personality as a mix of someone who has grown to be very cynical of the environment around him - someone who puts up a dull emotionless wall to anything around him, and that of a kind little kid, still in that dream world.

I bounce between the 2, have you noticed?

This trip for the most part has been completely normal. There's been a slight decay of things, but in general, everything is the same. I drove my mom to the Galleria so she could buy a Black Friday laptop. We ate at Goodie Taqueria, my dad got tons of salsa and burger toppings from the salad bar even though we ordered omelettes. I'm amazed at the amount of food the 2 of them can consume(they're both quite skinny). It's surreal, in the way that everything has stayed the same, and that my darkest fears didn't happen. But I know this won't be permanent. The hand of time is moving through us.

At 26 I can say, I'm okay with being weird. I'm okay with my family being weird. I'm mostly okay with the past and everything that's happened to me. I'm happy that I went through so many awkward social interactions later in life while trying to figure it out.

Because what's special about being cookie cutter? Things seem to becoming more and more standardized, perfectly white balanced. It's all so unachievable, so boring. How do we define normalcy in this strange world? How do we utilize our unique desires and personalities?

Like smelling the fragrance of a cup of freshly steeped oolong tea. I feel a calm has washed over me.

Hi adult self. Yes... I'll start contributing to my 401k...

..

Zine'd self

In my latest zine, "Jump Cut" I wrote this on the back as a closing remark:

"Adult life seems to sprawl out into a universe of uncertainty.

I fear the endless possibilities, the missed opportunities, the speed at which life passes me by.

I use photography to find a comfort in a small moment, a close interaction, a sliver of time and space."

Even with my newfound stability, I'm still worried. I'm slightly older than most of my peers and I still feel younger and inexperienced. While there's a voice in my head telling me, "It's okay! You're unique, you don't have to feel bad since you hold yourself to different values, be forever young, be free!"

I can't help but feel like there's something approaching around the corner. There's going to be an inevitable impact that will, for lack of a better phrase, shatter me. I can't live life carefree. There's going to be an age where I can't do the things that are open to me right now. There will be a time where my opportunities and wonderment with the world will be calcified.

I feel as if, most of the time, the magic has faded. I'm no longer as wide eyed as I once was.

stairway

However, every now and then there are brief moments that I truly find myself in a sense of wonder.

It was the day after I had finished moving all of my possessions out of my old Oakland apartment into my SF studio.

Ashley said she wanted to check out the graveyard in Piedmont. "Oh I've been there before, it's cool." was my response text to her.

Untitled

It turns out she specifically wanted to see a place called "Chapel of the Chimes" which was featured in some sort of cult scavenger hunt. I had biked past this place before, dismissing it for a funeral home.

Walking through I could smell a faint scent of incense. Every path seemed to open up into another large compartment, all filled with memorials and graves sprinkled with a pattern of fresh flowers for the recently remembered and empty placeholders for the long forlorned. The only sound was made from the trickling of fountains, the occasional chirp from a single bird. Light gushed through from the sky, lush greenery filled every nook that wasn't cast in stone.

chapel of the chimes

The playbook in my head which tends to over-plan and map everything out is often wrong. Please let it be wrong for eternity.

urban stream

Another weekend we went to some place in Golden Gate Park. It was less impressive. At least we got jjajangmyeon after.

..

I could have easily stayed in my Oakland apartment for another year. But why wait? Why be comfortable? For me, something needs to be constantly shaken, there needs to be constant movement. In moving to my new 350sq ft apartment I threw away half of my possessions, it felt so freeing.

house warming

I had a small apartment warming party. There was a point where there were 10 of us sitting in a circle on my carpet.

house warming

We went up to the roof and sat around a fireplace. It felt nice to be surrounded by friends.

..

Company retreat

These are weird times. During our company retreat, after at first telling us everything was going to be fine, our CEO had his professor, who's taught at Harvard Business School for over 30 years, in a room with over 400 people, tell us in a 2 hour lecture that he's worried about what's to come.

Never before have I looked so hard at who I am and what I stand for.

..

holidays

It's easy to close your eyes and let time pass.

You blink.

Suddenly you're suspended, in that instance before the final impact.

It's not time to be still.

..

ariel

Again. I am happy. The happiest I've ever been. I really hope I can maintain what I have going for me now and use it as a launch pad to do more with my time. It's the end of the year and I haven't done any of the goals I set out in my previous posts. It's okay though, as far as personal development goes, this year has been quite productive... don't you think?

Come over to my new place for some tea sometime.

The above pic is of Ariel and her new Contax G2 that she bought unknowingly from a local photography legend Joe Aguirre, who's a member of the Burn My Eye collective.

zoo bomb

nori window

In Oakland, I still keep the window open at all times, even if it's windy and cold at night. The bay air is soft, cool, damp... it seeps in and reminds you that the ocean is close by. Almost every night recently, the sound of several fireworks can be heard coming from not far away.

*BOOM... fizzzle*

*BABOOM... fizzzle*

I don't know who it is or why they're doing it, but the startling sound keeps an underlying sense of tensity in the air. The swirl of world events, news, and media that I passively soak up on the Internet gives me a general sense of worry.

I'm a worrier. I'm adverse to things that may give me pain. I try my best to not let it get to me, but I always find myself coming up with assumptions based on very little evidence or interaction.

"Is this worth pursuing?" "Is this worth committing to?" "If I do this will the next year pass by in a flash?" Why do these thoughts continue to swim into my mind for almost every scenario and every person I meet?

I over think things into oblivion.

city bound train

There's a feeling I get whenever I step foot into even a remotely crowded place. It's the anxiety. I feel the whole room look up for a brief second, and suddenly I feel myself questioning everything about my appearance. "Are my shoes weird?" "Is my hair messed up?" "Do I look out of place?"

This stems from a deep uncomfortableness with myself. And while I feel hindered by these thoughts and feelings. I have to fight and commit to going out. How will I make progress else wise?

But then... Why am I even out in the first place? What do I want to do today? What are my goals? Who do I even look up to? Where are my mentors? Who am I striving to be?

These past few months that I didn't work can be thought as a "summer vacation." However I didn't travel much and I wasn't completely carefree.

// George and Lennie

R0213655

I've become a regular at a cafe in the Tenderloin called George & Lennie. How much of a regular? I wash the dishes, make espresso shots, and have exclusive access to the wifi. It's like I semi-work there, except that I'm not getting paid (I sometimes get tips or a $20 bill).

brett

It would take quite a bit to explain why I like this shop so much, but the gist of it is... the coffee shop isn't really a coffee shop, but a physical extension of Brett, the full-bearded, burly, tattooed owner of the shop who previously worked at Four Barrel Coffee for several years.

Untitled

I was meeting a former coworker for coffee near his apartment. I immediately assumed we were going to Philz, but he guided me towards a small neighborhood joint I've never noticed before.

One of the first details I noticed upon entering the cafe was the large-format printer on the far side of the cafe. I remember several years ago trying to convince a business-minded friend to invest in a printer, only to have him dismiss it as "throwing away money."

My first conversation with Brett entailed me asking about what he did with it, and him responding with "Hey, I'm more about doing than talking."

He shut me out. Quick and efficient.

But I felt something there, so I returned and showed him some of my photos. We've been friends ever since.

R0213569

The cafe is an embodiment of that "just try it" attitude, if he feels the notion to do something, he'll do it.

From the settings on the coffee grinder and espresso machine, the music, the interior of the shop... everything seems to be tweaked and fiddled around with constantly. In a given week a plant can be seen in different corners of the shop, on different table and bar tops, hung on the door, even hanged from the ceiling from a newly installed bracket. The music, which mostly comes from an extensive record collection near the bar, is constantly being changed based on his mood. Folk, oldie, indie, hip hop, metal, on rare occasion... EDM, you never know what's next, but it's always well chosen, and has a constant underlying aesthetic that you can't put your finger on.

printz

The thing is, he doesn't run his cafe like a real business. He often doesn't charge people, a lot of the snacks and pastries come from his friends' businesses on a bartering basis, it's located in one of the worst parts of the city, and no one he hires can quite take his place.

store front

But it's easy to see why he's doing it all. Among the myriad of different customers, most of the regulars are active photographers and artists who have art openings across the city. It's truly a hub for creatives to gather and converse.

And that's why I like it. In a city where most people seem to be going at light-speed, where the consistent story is that the big bad tech companies are ruining the lives for the common person, there's this humble coffee shop, somehow existing in the middle of all, trying its best to go its own pace.

Now if only I could consistently pour hearts and ferns into latte's.

brett

Brett is contained chaos. It's like he's constantly taking on new and uncomfortable things. Print jobs from extremely picky clients, pop up art shows, signing a lease for an office space across the street from the cafe. For me, an observer with a little more insight, everything he does has a high margin of failure, and man, the moments when it looks like he's failing are so cringe-worthy. He doesn't even have much money or assets, he just does a lot of things with this endearing, bold attitude.

elanor

On a fun-filled festival day in the tenderloin, we went back to his apartment on Divis for a bbq. Sinking into the sofa, the only thing on our minds was what Radiohead record to play next. After hearing my favorite songs on the second half of The Bends, I stood up to change the record to his choice, Kid A. "There's one more song you idiot! Don't touch it!" Brett exclaimed.

From his girlfriend Katie, his daughter Elanor, to all of his weird, quirky cafe regulars, his life is surrounded with a sense of warmth and true authenticity.

In my search for a mentor, I initially thought Brett would be a great fit, but... I don't really think I can call him that since he's still an immature baby 50% of the time. He's become more of a dear friend.

In the words of Brett, most likely after taking a bong hit after a cop has entered the cafe only to make enough smalltalk to use the restroom, "Fucking A."

//

ashley on polk

Unemployed lyfe has been a mixed bag of phases. At first I was lost, as if I couldn't even remember what I was up to before I moved to SF. There was a temporary feeling of freedom, immediately followed by a feeling of worry. What's next..? What am I doing..?

I tried becoming a photographer again. I created the site pestophoto.com

brielle

While I really feel like this could have been successful, I didn't feel a love for the photos I was making. I didn't even bother to tell people I made the website...

I received advice from several people. "Sublet your apartment and travel to Asia." "Get in your car and drive across Utah." "I'd kill to be in your situation, don't waste this chance."

As much as I was broadcasting that I was in a "situation" and looking for suggestions, I fucking hate it when people tell me what to do.

Let me be confused, let my mind go astray, it'll find it's course eventually. It's more important that we talk about things that give off an air of inspiration or motivation than to talk about the immediate actions themselves and what I can expect out of them. (Actually you can give me suggestions, but don't make it obvious that you are, haha)

More on this later...

//Trip to Portland

portland central library

I would consider Portlandia to be one of my most cherished and beloved TV shows... right up there with Scrubs, The Office, and Insomniac(please tell me some of you watched this show). From the feminist bookstore, to the couple who is super over-prepared for any outdoor activity, to the scene of how extreme forgetting your re-usable bag can be. For me, the hilarity in the show lies in the high probability that these outlandish characters and scenarios are actually being played out everyday in the real Portland, that they stem from a close reality.

Over the past couple years, I've looked up airline bike-transport rules numerous times, dreaming of one day bringing my Surly Crosscheck from Austin and riding around the city. But it all seemed like too much trouble, and I never made it out there.

A week after leaving my job I convinced Matt to drive up to Portland with me, with the real motive being to strap a bike rack onto his car.

mtg

I would say Matt is the closest friend I've made since moving here, which is surprising since he's an adherent gluten-free vegan.

In the past I've been blown up with multi-page'd criticisms for blogging that you have to "find new friends" that will support your foodie-adventures. Even my so-adorned Anthony Bourdain has vocalized his disdain for vegetarians.

Matt definitely fits the stereotype to a tee, he will always ask if an item "has gluten in it", which usually makes whomever is serving us "check with the kitchen" - leaving us without service for several more minutes.

gluten free waffle

But I've found his "pickiness" to be a great vehicle for me to try things I would have never before. Vegetarian diners, gluten free waffles, Vegetarian meat-substitute Chinese joints. It's a great counter part to my chashu-laden normal eating habits. More importantly, while I do enjoy a great food establishment, I've learned to give less a fuck about it. The more days I have that are so busy that I need a quick meal just to sustain whatever I'm doing, the better. I don't have any favorite or regular restaurants in the bay area, except for maybe the Burrito Express down the block from my place.

After you get outside of the Silicon Valley bubble, everything suddenly becomes amazingly cheap. We stopped by an organic grocery store for a roadside lunch, and a container of pesto pasta that would normally run $12+ in the SF was less than $4. Gas stations were service-only, requiring an attendant to pump your gas.

Matt powered through the 9-10 hour drive by himself, making jokes about "syrup in my shasta" as we drove by Mt. Shasta.

montage

In writing this, I actually forgot what we did after getting in. I had to go through photos which reminded me that after going to a pretend dive bar(the music was sooo bad), then to a ping-pong themed bar, we ended up at a weird ass late-night Cajun restaurant underneath a bridge at the end of the night.

drunchies

I still find myself waking up and craving that spot's "garlic shrimp linguini." It's like the best drunk food ever.

pips and bounce

"Pips and Bounce." They had ping pong shaped ice cubes for their cocktails...

field trip, portland, OR

I found Portland to be very familiar and comforting, as if I've experienced all of the key entities of the city somewhere else. Food trucks, public transit, cute little knick knack shops and bookstores, trendy bars, dive bars, trendy restaurants, bike shops, vegan gluten-free restaurants. It's as if Portland was the source and mecca for all these bits of "new American culture."

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It feels very much of a city that hasn't been "hit with gentrification" but a city that has naturally grown into what it is. A fantastic meal, a fancy cocktail, and a complete bike tune up could be found for under $10 each. Streets were clean, public transit was everywhere, people in general were all just having a grand time.

This raises up the question: "Could I live here?" Very much yes. But there's a sinking feeling in the back of my mind that my brain would melt after a few months from the lack of drive and motivation. There's too many cheap and relaxing things to do for a guy who hasn't "found it" yet.

Also it's worth noting that Portland isn't very diverse.

gluten free strip club

Some of the events that occurred were:

  • Matt and I played pool and got tater tots at a "gluten-free" strip club.

  • After a lap dance, I traded Instagram handles with a stripper at Devil's Point.

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  • My bike got the best tune up of its life for $10, and I spent a lot of time exploring nooks and crannies of the city.

ramp

  • I got yelled at when trying to take photos of Matt at Burnside Skate park because I didn't have a skateboard. The guy then tried to convince me to buy him a beer.

  • I bought a bunch of useless clothes and gear at a Polar warehouse sale.

  • Despite being on a "printed material buying freeze" I bought a couple magazines and art books from a shop called National.

  • Tried the wings at Pok Pok. They were good, but I feel this restaurant is very much like.... "that popular restaurant your city has that everyone recommends you have to try, but in general is just an okay place."

  • Met up with Brian, former bartender at Oddjob who moved to Portland recently.

broder cafe

  • Had one of the best brunches of my life at Broder Cafe

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  • I destroyed people at street fighter 3rd strike at a quarter arcade/bar.

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While biking around, I came across the restaurant "Little Bird" which was featured on Munchies. Arriving quite sweaty and gnarly, I couldn't for the life of me, open the front door of the restaurant as bougey suit-wearing diners looked upon me. I actually had to step aside, and call the restaurant to ask if the restaurant was closed for a private event, which it wasn't, and then have them open the door for me. Soon after being sat at a mostly empty bar, a female single diner was sat next to me. I made small talk with the barista, and after quite a bit I mustered the courage to talk to the girl next to me. It was nice, she was from SF, we shared food, talked about whatever, and that was it, I biked back to the airBnB.

zoo bomb

The highlight of the trip was attending the Zoo Bomb, which is a group bike ride that meets every Friday in Portland. It involves taking public transit(the TriMet) up to the zoo stop, which leads to an elevator that takes you directly up through the center of a very large hill which the zoo sits upon. We ran into some punk bmx kids that gave us shady directions on how to get to the meeting point... we ended up down by a freeway entrance. After back up the hill for a bit, we came across 2 "more credible looking" guys who lead us on a 45 minute hike through pitch black woods, until we arrived at a clearing with about 10 others. It was definitely surreal, to be hanging out with strangers in almost complete darkness, to have the stars very clearly overhead, to have the city sprawled out before us in every direction, to have an older guy play funky arabic dance music from his customized speaker mount on his bike. But it was comforting, as if this whole event was saying to me, "There's room for stuff like this. For these underground gatherings that are totally separate from any of the normal course of things, "the man", normal society."

With a "3, 2, 1! Zoooooooo BooooMB!" we set off on a 2 mile, all downhill ride filled with curves, hair-pin turns, and patches of pitch black.

I can't believe Matt did it on his skateboard. He is a god.

// A trip to SF MOMA

trance

(Notice how they capitalize the O in "Of")

Helen took me to SFMOMA a few days before it opened to the public.

sfmoma

My first visit lasted 5 hours and I skipped a floor... there's definitely a lot to see and do. As I've said before, to me, it's not so much that you identify with every piece of art that you see, enjoy the fact that there's a large space devoted to art right in the middle of the city. A venue for someone to cut off a chunk of their emotion and present it in another form. A place for someone to try to convey their emotions, even if they're esoteric and strange.

plant wall

There's a whole floor dedicated to photography. I thought it was a great exhibit, giving a thorough "history of photography" in it's context to California. From Ansel Adams and F/64, to the changing landscape of the SOMA district, to modern photos that have not been taken with a camera, there was a bit of everything. I'm looking forward to more focused and themed installations in the future.

Also, the SF MOMA ad campaign is by far the worst thing I've seen in my life. (link)

// Rayko Zine Fest

loaf life

I finally made a zine. It's called Loaf Life.

rayko

The Rayko zine fest was kind of a flop. I sold 5 zines out of the 70 I printed. In the end though, I'm really glad I did it. It's sort of a business card for me now days, and I've received a lot of positive feedback.

Here's a pic of me with Israel at our table.

If you want a copy of Loaf Life message me and I'll mail one to you. (I really should have an online shop...)

// Evo 2K16

evo 2k16

EVO is the largest fighting game tournament of the year. This year was definitely going to be different. New version of the game, new set of friends.

jeremy

On the flight over I set next to a guy named Jeremy who asked if I was going to EVO (I do look the part), we talked about street fighter almost the entire way of the hour-and-a-half flight. We shared a cab ride from the airport to the strip where I introduced him to my friends visiting from Texas, and we got some Monta Ramen.

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Street fighter 5 had a double elmination bracket with 5000 entrants. You only can lose twice the whole weekend. I went 3-2, it's okay, kind of expected since I didn't really practice or play the new version of the game. Here's a link to one of my matches.

josh

Overall it was another ridiculous EVO. I got to bond with my San Francisco gaming group, the "Drunken Masters" and meet several members that have moved away and currently live in Germany and New York. We had a karaoke night at Ellis Island, which I recommend to anyone visiting Las Vegas.

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We gathered in hotel rooms late at night, and had all sorts of "esports celebrities" drop in for some games.

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The last day's finals were hosted in a large stadium. It was surreal seeing so many people show up to a video game event.

white castle

In general, fuck Las Vegas. The strip is a shit hole, full of overpriced crap (even the buffets), where the worst highlights of our American culture come to shine. Downtown is fine, but not much better. There's some good Asian food, but so what?

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My flight was delayed a couple hours, but I ran into some familiar faces at the terminal.

Here are some random events that have occurred over the past 4 months:

moyo

Moyo visited.

holy roller

So did Jared. I'm suprised neither of them have met before.

jen

I broke my 2nd digital Ricoh GR roller skating at Eunice's birthday. I've been shooting a lot of film with a loaner Film Ricoh GR1V, I'm currently getting them developed.

nathan

Nathan left Oddjob and is the bar manager at a new Japanese spot called Nomica. I can't wait to visit his new restaurant!

pokemon go

The beginnings of Pokemon Go really felt like a real life MMO. It was magic.

oakland

Went to a "down-and-dirty" Oakland backyard bondfire. It got weird when we started playing dead or alive (5?) on PS4 later in the night.

yumi zouma

I saw Yumi Zouma with Phil. It was fun seeing him go on stage to dance with the band, hah.

hickey

Hickey drove to California in his truck with a camper in the back. We did all sorts of touristy things and bought too much chocolate.

JDM senpai

I taught Pam how to drive in my 2002 Honda Accord that I've driven since I was 16. We drove around El Cerrito, ate crappy food at a 99 Ranch market, and quickly graduated from learning how to turn in a parking lot and drove through the Berkeley Hills. It was very stressful.

mango

I went to Berkeley Bowl for the first time. What a wonderful place.

//

cross walk

Finding a job was hard. Almost harder than 2 years ago. The same emotions resurged. "Why are you even applying..." No after no. This time I had 20 phone interviews. I had onsites where they would cut me off mid day with "Sorry we thought you were more experienced." "You're a great culture fit, that's for sure, but your skills don't align with what we need now."

You'd think that after a while you would develop a tolerance for that feeling, but every time it's as sharp as a tack, a knife to the heart and ego.

If you talked to me a week ago, I would have lamented my stress and hopelessness in finding something.

It turns out I got my new job at CloudFlare through the guy I met on the plane ride to EVO. You... really never know.

While I know my experience pales in comparison to other's challenges. It was definitely hard for me.

undertow

I've actually had an idea of who I want to be for a few years now... but the path has been veiled in a cloud of uncertainty. Unlike school, there wasn't a complete road map or list of requirements to get me there. Because of that I never took any steps towards it.

For some odd reason, it was instilled very early in me that trying wasn't cool. In avoiding being a "try-hard" I've developed many destructive habits.

It takes a lot of effort to make something look easy. Making an effort is commendable. Trying and failing, as if you don't already know... is the only way we can grow and learn. Failure is the most painful when you can feel success around the corner.

I sincerely hope people can change, that I, myself, can make a change.

burrito girl

While it feels like I'm trying my hardest to hold onto the "tech-life" which is filled with frivolous first-world problems and useless luxuries like on-demand delivery for anything(I ordered socks one time), I know that I'd like to stay in the Bay Area at least for another few years, there's so much I haven't seen or done yet.

I've made my first headway into communities that I think are meaningful and that I find interest in. I can feel myself growing, and that's important.

The photo gallery with a tote/magazine shop in the front. A nightly or weekend class for teaching photography. An immersive art exhibit using technology as a medium. All of these things are waiting to be tried and felt out.

The possibilities, while endless and daunting, are quickly becoming within my arm's reach.

~Until we meet again next time. VapeNaysh, Yall.