Loaf Life

shoreline

A couple days ago, I realized that I had achieved what I've always wanted.

I was sitting on the Bart, heading into the city. My canvas tote, which has the phrase "Books Are a Burden" printed on it, was packed with a beanie, scarf, pack of cigs, and -ironically- a book.

As the Bart heads from Oakland into San Francisco, there's a period where the subway is high above the ground; it slowly passes by a landscape full of container cranes and warehouses which is beautiful no matter what time of day, then it picks up speed as it takes us under the bay.

I was playing a new song recommended to me by Israel. It seemed to match the mood perfectly as the cart started accelerating into the darkness. Everything around me was shaking, and all I could see out of the windows was the occasional light zipping by. I was enveloped with an overwhelming feeling of comfort, excitement, and satisfaction.

An intense whirling sound sits comfortably in the background of my headphones

"I feel as if I'm floating.

I am happy.

Everyday I wake up and I feel amazing.

I get to be myself, my complete and total self, and be surrounded with wonderful people."

Although the path was very shaky, and the future is still painfully unclear, I've made my small stake in the realm of being an adult, a functional member of society.

valencia

A scenic commute that combines walking by 2 distinct, bustling downtowns, cool restaurants and art galleries with a bit of public transport, a scene to be a part of, a solid group of friends, a couple of regular haunts. I have it all. This is really and truly all I ever wanted.

Look at me, my apartment is clean enough to invite people over spontaneously. I've even bought plants to take care of...! They're slowly dying, but at least I'm making an effort to water them. Sorry moss, that you're only a fraction of your formally bushy self.

refraction

For the past month every morning I've woken up full of energy, always in a good mood, always well rested, I only drink coffee about twice a week for the heck of it. There's some hours to spare before I have to go to work that I've never had before since all I wanted to do in the past was to sleep the day away, I haven't figured out to do with them yet. (I definitely should go to the gym, bike, or go for a walk)

commute

Despite my overwhelmingly happy disposition... achieving my dreams and all... I feel quite fragile - in the sense that I'm yet again at a crossroads. "What's the next step?" seems to be a question that's always looming around my mind. I feel highly influenced by my surroundings, like a blade of grass, at the whim of any air current that happens to pass over.

andy

Because of that I'm constantly trying to surround myself with people that I admire and look up to, in hopes that some of the stuff that they're composed of will somehow transfer to me by osmosis. I would describe my current friends as creative, driven, free spirited, and most importantly "aware." Aware of themselves, their capabilities, not only their own emotions, but the climate of the people around them. They're nice, sensitive, caring people.

oakland

At the same time I want to always be in their presence, I'm aware that they're busy people, and I have to make use of my time alone.

That's sort of a taste of how I'm feeling. as per usual, here's a garbled binge post:

koreatown LA

Over Thanksgiving break I went to LA with Helen, her boyfriend Felix, and her friend Bhargav, which is position I never would have imagined myself being in because I really thought that Helen hated me(footnote needed?), and that we'd never be friends(I'm aware that she could be reading this).

helen
(This is Helen)

Before we left, Felix and I went over to Avis to rent a car for the ride down. The lady over the counter said, "Sorry we can't have him(me) as a co-driver, he's 24. I was like "Oh look, how dumb of me, I didn't know you had to be 25 to rent a car." So we left without signing me up. For the record, I am 25. I rented a car earlier in the year. I was in age denial. I had a rental car employee tell me something that was clearly false about myself and I wanted to believe it anyways. (For the record, Felix was concerned that if we got pulled over without me being an insured co-driver, Helen and his application for US citizenship would be jeopardized)

california dreaming

Overall it was an amazing trip. The most memorable highlights from the trip were:

line

-Our stay at the Line Hotel in Koreatown, which had amazing everything, including a shop in the lobby named Poketo, which was the cutest store 5 ever.

pocky rich

-Pocky Girls. Felix was showing us "The Grove" which is a mall like The Domain with a weird local food section, when Helen stopped an shouted "GUYS LOOK OVER THERE!" Pocky girls, girls given the job of giving away boxes of pocky, were around the corner. We got 2-3 boxes each.

pocky girls

Felix then took us to a cafe owned by Wolfgang Puck, which had a banh mi he wanted us to try. It was a good sandwich, but it was not a banh mi. As we were explaining this to Felix and stacking our boxes of pocky on the table, we saw the pocky girls headed in our direction again. "Quick hide the pocky! They probably forgot us!" We stashed the pocky in my tote, and got another motherload. Reflecting on this... is pocky really even that good? Well yeah. It's sharable, universally likable, not heavy, not too sweet, has a cute name, and fills our brain with nostalgia.

corn cheese

-All the Korean/Asian things we did.

tonkotsu ramen w/ negi @TSUJITA RAMEN ANNEX

-Ramen at Tsujita Annex: In the end a good bowl of ramen is a bowl of ramen that makes you happy. That's it, no ifs or buts. But if I were to dissect what made Tsujita stand out to me as being quite good, it would be that their broth has a very intense pork and garlic flavor without being overly salty. Their noodles aren't "bouncy" but are still fun, thick, and al dente and seemed to pick up the broth nicely. I asked for the negi(spring onion) tonkotsu, which has a mountain of negi on top, which offers a contrasting crisp texture to go along with the noodles and helps cut the fattiness of the pork and soft egg yolk. The extra nori sheets helped as well to make the mix-and-matching of toppings fun. The broth was too hot for me, but I didn't mind it too much since all the other flavors and textures seemed to put my senses at an adequate level of "ramen immersion."

new buddy

-Shopping on Abbot Kinney Blvd.

republique

-Food at Republique and Superba

baek jeong

Props to Felix for showing us whiny Japanophiles around the city, and driving almost the whole way between SF and LA because I forgot I was 25. It was really a fun trip.

lacma

Could I ever live in LA? Yes, if I was forced to... it wouldn't be all that bad. It has a bustling food scene(leaps and bounds better than SF), tons of Asian stuff for me to do, lots of variety of areas and such, I'd probably buy a BRZ or Lexus something and put JDM import stickers on it. But LA feels off to me, the people are too pretty, I feel there's too much of a focus on consumption and consumerism, it's too large, and I hate driving.

protour

The weekend after we got back, Capcom Pro Tour happened. Forgive me for the nerdy rant that's going to follow, but the fight game scene(FGC) has been a huge part of my life ever since the start of college.

The Capcom Pro Tour is the last major tournament for the game Street Fighter 4, which marks the end of the game's era before the next version is released in a few months. I've always been interested in fighting games growing up(The burger place near my house had a few of them), but never imagined that it was something that could be taken seriously. Alex, a friend of a classmate in one of my comp sci classes, introduced me to the competitive scene during my freshman year, and since then I've always been a part of it. It's great to have a group of guys you can spend several hours with, go out to drink, and eat together in the wee hours of the morning.

ufo

Street fighter is an amazingly complex and beautiful game. The deepness of it goes a lot further than just mastering the special moves(hadoken and dragon punches) of a character. It's one on one, you versus the opponent.

When you first start getting into the game, it's easy to think of it as rock, paper, scissors. Grab beats blocking, you can hit a crouching opponent with a high attack, a standing opponent with a low attack. Fast attacks beat slow attacks, but they do less damage. The more you get into it, movement becomes more important, each character shines from a certain distance. For example Dhalsim, a master of "yoga", stretches his limbs a large distance across the screen to attack, and likes to keep his opponents at a distance from him. Given 2 proficient players, the game becomes a beautiful dance of split second decision making, battling for optimal position, and a constant shift of momentum from a player being the aggressor, to a player being on the defense, waiting for their opponent to have an opening and then go in and do a damaging combo.

(footage of me playing)

One could look at all this and dismiss it as just a game, a hobby, a time sink, but I've learned a great deal from Street Fighter. How to infer a lot about a person from a limited subset of interaction, how to be confident and believe in myself and my decisions, how to deal with and learn from humiliating losses, how to gauge a situation and chose a reaction. You can tell a lot about a person's demeanor from playing a fighting game with them, which is probably why we're so close as a community.

While most of the fundamentals are consistent through every version of Street Fighter including the next one, I do feel like this is an end of a significant chapter of my life. Looking back at it all, the countless hours spent playing online and at the arcade, the tournaments I've traveled to, and life long friends I've met, I believe the time I've invested in the game has been well worth it.

-

I just took a 2 week trip to Austin.

travis and mikaylah

You know me. I did my thang. Meeting up everyone under the sun.

madeline & michelle

Madeline & Michelle were in town, we went to a crystal store where I found a piece of flourite that really called out to me.

jeremy

I went to Tatsu-ya 4 times.

katty

My new Cafe obsession in Austin is Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors. That Iced shaken pourover coffee that Katty is holding is the best coffee I've ever had.

party

I celebrated new years at MOHA. I danced with a group of cuties for 4 hours.

levi

I met up with Levi for little bit, he returned my Leica 50mm Summicron that I let him borrow for half a year. We had a conversation about photography and upcoming creative projects. If you're in Houston and you see a dope photo exhibit at Inversion, I'm taking 10% credit for it.

sharon

I had dinner with Sharon. Our eating-neighbors turned out to be from Oakland, and actually knew people that worked in my office! How serendipidous. #niceglasses

I spent a lot of time with Ryan, who owns Arcade UFO, and Sebastian. We geeked out over Undertale, a $10 steam game which is definitely worth playing (Mac and PC!), watching our friends play in Coop Cup, a street fighter tournament in Japan, and playing the SF5 beta. I probably had the best food of the whole trip with these guys:

  • Cafe Java - a wonderfully local breakfast spot that anyone would love.
  • Launderette - I would say that Laundrette is my favorite restaurant in Austin, and I just went in for lunch. Just such a great combination of local hospitality and sensible cooking.
  • Abo Youssef - A new mediterranean trailer on Manor which gives Halal Bros a run for their money. It's basically a healthier Halal bros with Hummus and Tabouleh instead of white sauce. Huge portions.
  • Inka Chicken - A rotisserie chicken place, a bit better than El Pollo Rico. Very resonable prices, doesn't seem to get packed, and a bomb of flavor.

While I had a great trip, I wrote this towards the end:

"You know it does feel nice, to walk into places and be remembered, to meet old friends, and have a great time again. My mindset before this trip was 'Maybe I'll stick it out in California for the remainder of my lease, and then return to Austin.' but now I really feel like I don't have any place here. I haven't taken any great photos this trip other than some portraits. Austin is less of a city that I can immerse myself in, and more of a city that has a handful of safe-havens that I feel comfortable in - I could really care less about the rest of it. I have this sinking feeling in my heart, that I know, 100%, that I cannot thrive here creatively."

tatsuya

I don't think I'll be moving back to Austin in a long time.

creativity

While we're on the subject of creativity, it seems that besides programming bootcamps, being a "creative" seems to be on the to-do list of a lot of people that I've been talking to. Often times we think we can just sit there and think about something until we have a complete game plan to make something perfect or something of a very high caliber, while I think the best first approach is to just go at whatever random idea you have blindly, with your heart, and see what results out of that. Move on to the next idea, then the next, and eventually you'll continue to grow and have a body of work you can keep refining and refining until you have a good portfolio. It's normal to hate your work right after you send it off into the world, you know all of the flaws, people might not respond to it the way you had imagined, but you get better everytime, you have something to point and and be like, "I made that, bitch."

subdue

In editing this post, I kept reading from the beginning over and over.

"I'm happy"

"I'm happy"

"I'm happy."

Yeah, for sure this is the most consistently happy I've been, but I feel as if I'm coming down from a fleeting high.

/*--------------------------------------------

I first met you in an unfamiliar place, a sea of strangers, second degree connections. For some reason you caught my eye, you seemed approachable, but I still tried to play it cool and didn't say anything. Nothing resulted of it.

That's what happens when I play it cool, I just blend into the background, and the feelings eventually subdue from the passing of time.

For some reason or another we ended up meeting again, and I took a chance and asked you out for dinner. A big deal for me... I was probably the most self conscious and depressed at that point in my life. It turned out to be better than I imagined, I intended just to grab a quick meal, but we continued to go to bars late into the night. You're easy to talk to, to listen to.

After the flight home, still in my depressed state, our night gave me a bit of hope, hope for myself, hope for my place in the world. I carried that with me for quite a bit. Weeks, months of limited interaction followed. Half a year later we met again.

It's a great feeling, to have the other half of the shelves around the bathtub have products on them, for there to be 2 toothbrushes around the sink.

I don't think I've met anyone that used the same toothpaste as me.

During our limited time together my feelings for you took many huge shifts. Quickly into it, several points of conflict started to pop up. The obvious self doubt that you have for yourself, how much you idolize certain people who are no more pretty or talented as you. It all got to be too much. It seems that I was guilty of casting you into a different image of yourself in my brain, that was eventually shattered. One could consider that a bad thing, but something emerged from that.

I loved the "HELLO!" you yelled back at that guy trying to mess with us(he was singing Adele). I liked that you enjoyed playing street fighter even though you didn't know what a life-bar was after all of it. You actually have quite a talent for games, a scary amount of potential actually. Every time you ran ahead with excitement because our destination just became into eye-view.

toro

I really enjoyed our unpasteurized sake-infused night at Kusakabe. "They're going to have such a great Yelp review." the 2 next to us said mockingly as we were taking photos of everything(I have REALLY good peripheral hearing). It's fun to be excited for food, new experiences. We had so much of a better time than them. It's often the times we don't expect that are the most enjoyable. Like the time when it was raining and we thought we were tired and over everything, and ended up slipping into an amazing place next to the bookstore for dinner. Brussels sprouts with capers and sage, port for dessert. Coming back rain-soaked due to having an umbrella that was too small, cozying up to High Fidelity as the rain continued to pour outside. Will never forget that.

It's funny, a lot of time we look at something visually and can infer differences in things by their juxtaposition. The shelves in the bathroom, the sink, the corner where you kept your giant suitcase - that are now seemingly empty, with no visual trace of anything, still carry a visual weight whenever I stare at them. It's been raining every day since I got back. Even the sound of the rain...

You're in a position to do anything you want. Pick a direction and go. There's time to slip up, to mess up. You never know.

I hope we can watch movies and anime again. Perhaps when the next episodes of Bee and Puppycat finally come out.

----------------------This is a comment. It will never affect anything.*/

Best meals as of recent? Lazy Bear, Kusakabe, Laundrette, Superba.

lazy bear

Lazy Bear is a dinner club located in the middle of the Mission district in San Francisco. I think I've passed by it several times and not noticed anything in particular. Tickets are released a month in a half before every dinner they host. When you enter, you go up to an upstairs loft looking over the dining area and kitchen. You're given an initial punch, and asked if you want more pre-drinks. A couple pre-meal small bites came out. An egg and bacon foam, oysters, caviar, foie, champagne. Comfortable flavors presented with different textures, key ingredients that promote a sense of lushness, exuberance, class. My cocktail had mini-watermelons in it. It really sets the tone for the meal to follow.

oysters @lazy bear

You're lead to 2 long, communal tables. You sit next to strangers, but everything about your surroundings makes you feel like a high member of society... which brings a sort of comfort to the back of the mind. Everything is seasonal, well throughout and executed. Portions are a bit more than fair, you can have 3-4 composed bites per dish for yourself. You're even given a notebook to write tasting notes for each dish. At this point in the night I was 2 shots, 1 champaign, 4 cocktails deep(I "pregamed" before at Oddjob), with more wine from our wine pairing still to come. Looking back at my notes I don't think I can infer that much, among some scribbles I wrote "Great playlist" in it. Still at this point, where fine dining seems to be something that's more of a hassle, overdone, and often times not worth it, I think having a great meal with great company with drinks is one of my deepest indulgences. Lazy Bear is a great catalyst for that. If you go, you must get the iced coffee, done the way they serve it.

eli reed

I saw my photography professor Eli Reed at his talk at the SF Leica Store.

R0191316

Right after I saw Mother Falcon.

tay ho restaurant & bar

Oakland has such a diverse and beautiful food scene. I wake up on the weekends excited to either go back to my favorites or try new places.

exit

I'm visually interested by my surroundings. Every day is a chance to discover something new and wonderful.

madeline

To hold myself accountable, here are my goals for the next year:
Learn the basics of graphic design so I can sell funny/thoughtful shirts and bumperstickers, Have enough passive income to pay for all the extraneous web expenses that I have(domains, hosting, aws, heroku, etc.) which is all about $400 for the year, make an ios app involving photography and or blogging, go to Japan, participate in or host an art show.

Welp, time to get started on all that right? Hah.

karl the fog

flatiron

There's a book that I have called "Good Bye to All That" which is filled with short stories about moving to and away from New York. It's filled with stories of rural and suburban upbringings, all with the same dream of moving to a city where one can live unbound in an urban paradise of culture and excitement.

page street

San Francisco has always been one of those "destination cities" for me. In college I dreamed of all the people, the art, a bustling downtown, scenes of getting off of the subway on the way to work, and having my pick of cool events on the way back to my apartment as the sun sets.

That's the allure. Even though you're surrounded with people, you have you're own small piece of the pie. It's cozy knowing that you're one of many. It's comforting to know that you can walk around and just be that guy that has somewhere he needs to be, people he needs to meet, and has something going on that has earned him the right to be there.

9th

"This weekend is going to be nuts" - a Lyft driver says to me as I get in the car to take a short ride to Rickhouse, a whiskey bar near Chinatown. Why? Outside Lands apparently. It's San Francisco's largest music festival, a bit larger than ACL. It will now serve as my yearly anniversary mark for moving to this city, yet I haven't made any effort into attending one.

When I arrived a year ago in San Francisco I was lost and confused, but I had a goal to "find a job." Attend a music festival? I had no time to even think about that.

I'm not going to lie, I've been miserable with most of my time here. I can't really put a finger on what made it so, but it all seemed to add up and leave me almost immobile on most days. Even after being here for almost a year I found myself in an even worse state of mind than when I moved here; attending a music festival was still out of mind.

swirl

So many days I would find myself laying in bed, barely able to get up in the afternoon and grab enough food to last me until the next day.

I would find myself visibly angry. Frustrated that things weren't working out as I had hoped.

delayed departure

When things looked like they were hitting rock bottom, I took trips to comfortable places. New York, the city that I still lust for, for my birthday, Austin, the city I left, soon after that, NY again, Austin again.

old fashions and munchies

The feeling of being around old friends, the feeling of being welcomed, the smiles and laughter. It all felt right for a bit, but they were fleeting highs that wouldn't even last the plane ride home.

sutro baths

On the flip side I had friends plan trips to visit me. As I stumbled through a poorly made itinerary filled with the only things I've found remotely fun to do in the city, eventually I'd crack and confess my anxiety, confusion, and loss of place. Why do I know so little about what to do in this city? Is it the city's fault or is it mine?

On a recent trip to Austin, which was a real attempt to run away from it all, I realized that it was too early to return.

Untitled

Looking at everything, what I've done in the past year is somewhat impressive. I've made it a whole year in a new city. I've made really great friends here, I've found scenes and places to be apart of. I'm slowly becoming more comfortable with myself.

pennywort

It's funny how adult life feels like an ooze, a stream of consciousness with no clear markings of time or when things need to be done or accomplished. You inevitably feel these "ticks." Oh it's my 1 year work anniversary, oh I'm a year older. But you can largely ignore these and keep doing the exact same thing. Nothing is forcing you to switch or go to the next step.

Last year I bought 2 copies of this calendar of my favorite manga(yotsuba to), and intended to give one as a christmas gift for someone. It's already October of the next year, and it's still sitting in my closet...

Even though my life here has been as melancholy as Karl, the fog that persists in the city, I've been fortunate to have quite a few fond memories these past few months. Let me share them with you:

ice cream bouncer

Sharon and Melissa visited one weekend. We went to the Sunset to get soup dumplings(XLB for short) and on the way back they wanted dessert, ice cream specifically. Luckily Bi-Rite Creamery was open... for another 20 minutes. I drove as fast as I could to the mission with google maps telling me I had a cool 18 minute trip time, pulled up as close as I could, and watched them jump out of the car and run towards the ice cream store. It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen. I waited for a while, and they happily returned with ice cream in their possession. They told me that there was actually a bouncer (Bi-Rite has the ropes that you typically see at many clubs) that didn't let them in at first, but eventually caved in after he saw them sadly staring into the window at the last remaining customers of the day getting their ice cream. Afterwards we went to Brass Tack, a cocktail bar, and we ended the night amongst a sparse sunday night crowd we shared our life worries, anxieties, and thoughts. But for that day, the only stressful thing was if there was ice cream to be had or not, and it was had.

ferry

We went on a bike trip along with Jessica and Kevin across the golden gate bridge into Sausalito. Jessica didn't have much experience on a bike, so getting started was a bit rough. We eventually made it over, and down into the city where we had a nice oyster and fish and chip lunch. I haven't seen Jessica since that weekend.

linda

On a trip to Austin I was working out of Epoch and called Aaron abruptly to see if he had time to hang out. He had dinner plans, but luckily he changed them to accommodate me. We had dinner with Linda and David at Black Star Coop, a brewery located in the same apartment complex that Aaron and David were living at at the time. It was raining, something that has only happened once in the whole past year since I've lived in SF. I only had met Linda once before, and was surprised how friendly she was this time in comparison to the first. When we finished it was seriously pouring, and as Linda was running to her car I asked her to turn around.

the jury room

Our manager Anna was moving to New York so she could be closer to her homeland - Toronto. Before she left she really wanted to see the reggae artist Chronixx, but couldn't attend his San Francisco show. She asked me and Ben if we wanted to accompany her to Santa Cruz to see his final show in Norcal. We went to Enterprise to rent a car for the weekend, they said the only car they had in the lot was a Ford F150, Anna happily accepted and we rolled off 2 hours South. On the trip I played my middle school hip hop playlist, and reserved a hotel for us using the Hotel Tonight app. I had Hawaiian food for the first time for dinner, and it was amazing. How can you not like all of Asia's comfort foods mixed into one? The concert was interesting, we got smashed, and Anna passed out in the hotel. Ben and I, experienced drinkers, were still wide awake needed a night-cap so went across the street to a dive bar, The Jury Room, a nice place where you could smoke inside and while a war veteran was talking to us forever about the randomest things ever, I caught a photo of this couple dancing, along with the bar's dog in the background.

polaroids

I went to a Drink and Click on a Thursday with Nicolai and a bunch of folks. I overheard that Jared won a Fuji Instax at their last event and I asked to borrow it. I ended up buying like $150 worth of instant film on Amazon Prime Now, which was delivered in an hour, and that led to quite a few hilarious moments that weekend.

pam and israel

One of my fondest memories of the West coast was when Nicolai, Levi, and I went to the Tomales Bay Oyster Company. So I decided to organize another run, along with Channan and Ricki, who were stopping by during their cross country road trip. I managed to convince Pam and Israel, the cool couple, plus Richard to go with us as well.

golden light

It was a nice trip, until Israel realized he didn't have his camera, a Fuji X100t, when we stopped along the coast to take photos. Already almost back to the city, we drove back all the way back to the small town near the oyster farm where we bought snacks along the way. The cafe he parked infront of was closed however, so we came back empty handed. Pam called the cafe the next morning and it turns out they had the camera! Israel rode his motorcycle the next day there to find out that the camera had been smashed by a car and was totalled. Maybe if it was a Leica, it would have survived.

shucks

The oysters were delicious though.

3rd floor

I woke up in a 3 story house in Queens that only had 1 bathroom. As the household got ready to start their day, everyone's primary concern was to use the restroom, I had to wait a very long time.

A photo posted by Patrick Lu (@pesto88) on

Michelle and I took a train into Flushing to eat spicy wontons at a place called White Bear, which turned out to be a very small hole in the wall. I felt really nervous cause I didn't know how to order in Chinese, but luckily the owner was nice and we got set up with 3 of their most popular items. Those wontons were da bomb.com.

zines

Instagram was filled with photos of all the fashionable attending a book fair at MoMA PS1. As proper insta-groupies, we set off to go to this festival as well. It was a sea of hipsters, tote-bags, and booths from literally every small bookstore in the country. Most rooms didn't have air conditioning. I think I made it about 3/4ths of the way through the entirety of the tables until I caved and called it a day. I ran into Travis from Farewell Books in Austin. I really wanted to take a proper portrait of him, but he was quite the celebrity at the festival.

A video posted by Patrick Lu (@pesto88) on

We went out to karaoke one night. The KTV's in chinatown have by far the worst selection of karaoke songs. But we made do...

larb

The bartender started giving us free shots... and that's when it got really messy.

breakneck ridge

The next day we went hiking at Breakneck Ridge, about a 1.5 hour drive north of New York. Laurence bought us some amazing pastrami sandwiches from Harry & Ida's when he went to pick up the rental van.

I had fun played my amazing indie playlist on the way. (FOLLOW IT)

A video posted by Patrick Lu (@pesto88) on

The hike itself was amazingly difficult. Most of it involved both arms to slowly climb up the mountain side.

laurence, dave, nick

Laurence bought a really nifty cooler backpack from REI, and we stopped several times to eat snacks(brie and salami).

madeline

We were pretty exhausted by the end of it. The descent down the mountain was so long, and it put us a mile away from where we started. I still made Madeline pose for some pics though, poor her, lol.

tonkotsu ramen @mu ramen

We ended the night at Mu Ramen a new ramen shop in Long Island City. They had some amazing appetizers, but I feel their actual ramen fell short. Solid components, but the overall flavor was misdirected.

tim

On Monday I went to work in our New York office. Afterwards I managed to convince Tim Dornon, who now works at 11 Madison Park, to come out and hang out with us. We got drinks and went to eat at Turntable Chicken, formally known as Mad for Chicken. We ate sooo much food, and went to a soju bar across the street to play ping pong and eat more. SO MUCH FOOD. I really hope to eat at his restaurant one day.

broadway

On my last afternoon in New York I decided to walk from my office, 2 miles down Broadway to go eat at Ivan Ramen. The streets were lovely, full of energy and interesting characters. I really want to move there eventually.

shoyu ramen @ivan ramen

How was Ivan Ramen? Amazing. I got their basic shoyu ramen, which was wonderful with the sharp, intense, acidity of the sundried tomatos, the creamyness of the eggs and pork belly, and liveliness of the chives on top.

madeline and michelle

So happy I got to spend a week with these 2.

mari

Mary, my photography idol, messaged me and said she was in town. I took her to my favorite bar, odd Job. I tried to setup more time with her during her visit, but she said she was baby sitting for this Korean couple she met at a cafe. I asked her if the cafe was Joy's Place, the one random cafe in the middle of downtown where everyone is Korean, and it was. In fact the couple were the owners, who gave her a VIP-card, a very elusive card that grants you 10% off there and at a Korean fried chicken place they also own around the corner. Mary promised me this card, but I haven't received it yet.

tatsu

I was eating at Ramen Tatsu-ya's weekly pop-up dinner, which features new dishes that they're experimenting with. Afterwards Tatsu asked if I could come by and take some photos for their new website. Of course I took him up on this offer a few days later and took an expensive Uber through Austin's horrible rush-hour traffic.

A photo posted by Ramen Tatsu-ya (@ramentatsu_ya) on

The photos turned out pretty nice.

It's weird how I'm finding myself in a familiar position. People, even here in SF, are asking me to take photos and do website work for them. Having not done it in a while, I hesitatingly agree. The familiar feeling of having to meet expectations hit me, but not as hard as it used to. I hated taking photos for money in the past since they always left me with a sense of fear, shame even. It's even ruined good friendships. While the photos I take now do have monetary worth, the pressure is less for some reason.

jen

Jenn visited from LA. We went to Nopa, an upscale late night spot that I've been wanting to go to for the past year, but haven't had anyone to go with. Nicolai was also in town that weekend, and we did a lot of San Franciscan things.

grinder

I have a new friend Matt, who is an amazing skateboarder. We met playing street fighter at the Foundry. I think our friendship is pretty awesome cause he just "gets it." The grunge, the obscurity of life, and he has the ability to just "let go" and roll away on his skateboard.

pete brook

I arrived at the Eyeem office, and as I was waiting for the event to begin this guy caught my eye with his cool tote bag. I took several photos of him from different angles, he finally noticed and said "Street photography is fair game." Quite the profound statement... as he walked into the start up office. Turns out he was one of the main guys in a very high level talk on how photography plays a role in society today and how photographers can make a living off of it.

golden gate park

When Kevin lived 2 blocks away from me we would go on beach bike trips on the weekend. On one of them I remember just laying down on the sand, watching several people try to fish. The Asian guy right in front of me, who was wearing yellow fishing pants, kept pulling in fish after fish, which made all the other fishers on the beach jealous. Eventually his crew reeled in a sting ray, they proceeded to slice off it's tail immediately as it continued to struggle in the sand. flop flop flop

watts house

I'm a predominant member of the norcal fighting game community now. Look out for pesto88 on random twitch streams!

A photo posted by Patrick Lu (@pesto88) on

A fun night of Brew & Brew => Gelato => Shangrila.

A photo posted by Patrick Lu (@pesto88) on

I'm also taking photos of cocktails for Oddjob, my favorite bar.

odd job boyz

I've grown quite fond of the people who work here, I feel right at home everytime I go.

ashlee

Ashlee. She's pretty cool.

today

Karaoke at Festa, Yessss.

R0140056

So what's my current relationship with photography? It's so easy to get caught up on people in the lime light, how their photos are getting likes, how they're hanging out with attractive people and traveling all the time. I feel as if I can't compete, so I'm going to opt out of doing that. I'll use my photography passively, as a tool that helps me guide and record my life.

jamaica station

It gives me a visible representation of my desires. It makes me feel drawn to light, it helps me hold onto moments I don't want to lose.

corner store - hayes valley

Actually, if you were to ask me how I'm doing right now... I'd say that I'm doing absolutely great. I've realized that I've made wonderful friends here in all sorts of scenes. I've just moved into a wonderful apartment in Oakland, and I couldn't love my daily subway commute anymore. The growing pains of nuzzling myself into this new life have began to wear off.

25, A, B, PS1

dreams

At this age, I feel like there's this immense pressure. To be impressive, to be fashionable, to have some special sort of knowledge, to be truly in your "prime."

During my recent trip to New York, I had a conversation with Jenny Fan, a friend from High School whom I haven't seen in over 7 years. She has a really cool project called 20, interviewing 20 something year olds, and wanted to interview me for it. Prior to meeting her I read a few of them. All of these people seem to be on track, determined, and on their way to achieving something. I decided to just wing the interview, which was probably a bad idea.

air

I mentioned to her that I feel as if I'm living my "plan B" to which her reply was "Then what's your plan A?" I really couldn't think of anything in particular. I'm paralyzed by choice. For the most part I let the flow of life just take me along, only making a drastic move every now and then having really gone down a bad path.

  • Would I like to be a well known photographer? Yes.
  • Would I like to be the curator of a photo gallery and have a cute gift shop with well chosen items? Yes.
  • Would I continue to program? I believe so.

What am I doing to achieve the things that I want? Nothing.

This paralysis can even be found in my weekend choices:

"What do I want to do today? Where should I go to eat? How will I get there?"

I lay in bed, go back to sleep for another hour, and repeat this process until it's already the afternoon.

civic center

Maybe I feel a lack of purpose. A lack of need to really do anything.

I haven't made a post since before Thanksgiving. What have I been up to since then?

kilm

I had a great week long trip back to Texas, where I met up with old friends who I hadn't seen in months. I caught up with Sharon over brunch, who's always upto something wholesome and meaningful. We went over to Keith's studio and to the AHOM exhibit at the Museum of Human Achievement afterwards.

ahom

The AHOM exhibit was really cool. They changed the entire warehouse into a parody of IKEA. I really admire the people who contribute to The Museum of Human Achievment. I've had the most original, unique, and powerful experiences out of any museum or gallery I've been to, and I hope Austin's community notices that and empowers them to do more.

plaza saltillo

I showed my cousins around Austin. Despite being quite close to them growing up, I have been sort of out of the loop with my family for the past year or so due to my "Bohemian-esque" lifestyle. I believe I took them on a legitimate tour of the city: Chicon (yes I showed them Chicon) => Vera Cruz tacos => Bike tour down the Bird Lake Trail => Brew & Brew => Odd Duck for dinner. Of course my relatives had a bunch of questions regarding my past, the people I was hanging out with in Austin, and what I'm doing now, which was all relatively smoothed over by explaining the salary I make, and my employee stock purchasing program(ESPP).

I really don't know why they went to Austin, they found out I was flying through there and magically they were visiting for a few days. They used the excuse that my younger cousin, who is in his junior of high school was looking at UT as a potential school. I know some members of my family read this blog, but I have to say I feel immencely sorry for him and his situation. I truly believe that he's brilliant and talented. He really has a great heart and character. But he's feeling a lot of pressure from his family to "not be a failure." This again reminds me of my conversation with Jenny. What is success? How has it's definition changed from our parents generation to ours? Where do our passions lie, are there different ways we can carve out a life?

Is life all about doing well in school, so you can go to a great college, so you can find a stable job and repeat? Is that success? Is that happiness?

For most of the people who read this blog, the world our parents made for us is so comfortable that there's no real sense of urgency, no way we can really "fail." There's no way we can fall, scratch our knees, and grow because of it.

It's our life, we only have one... and time's passing by really fast.

I mainly got this job simply to prove that I could. But does the proof lie in me simply reaching this "level" or does it lie in sticking with it for the years to come until I'm already middle aged, have a family, and in my parents position? In many ways I have an amazing job, level of lifestyle for a 25 year old, but I have no appreciation for the things I have. The sad part is I don't think I ever will.

God I just want to tell him that he's going to be just fine. I really do mean it.

madeline

I got a ride back to Austin from Madeline. It was really nice seeing her again and catching up with each other during the 2 hour ride. It felt sort of surreal, as if no time had passed at all since the last time I saw her. I remember her doing her make up in her Honda CRV on the drive over, and when we got to Austin she revealed that she was wearing a crop top under the blue dress shirt that she normally wears. She really looked like a million bucks.

And off I went back to SF.

smoke signals

The weeks seem to all meld together in the Bay Area. I was really happy that friends such as JW and Taylor came for a visit, and I've enjoyed spending time with a few friends here, but it's really not regular enough.

isreal

I am meeting new people as well, but encorperating them into my weekly routine has proved to be challenging.

jessica

We had our company holiday party in the middle of January. It totally reminded me of the party scene from the first episode of Silicon Valley, but was a fun night since I had a beautiful date =). When we tried to go to Festa karaoke afterwards it was closed for a private party... luckily there were still some places open.

R0029331

The most notible art exhibit that I've been to recently is by Tetsuya Ishida, a deceased painter who depicts his take on modern Japanese culter. It's at The Asian Art Museum in SF until Feb 22.

7th ave

The main purpose of my recent trip to New York was to see if I truly "lost the fire." To return to where I had my first taste of urban life, where I discovered my passion for photography.

In general it was a good trip. I didn't think the weather would be that much of a factor, but boy... it was very very cold. Having boarded the plane at 9:20AM on Thursday it was already 6PM when I arrived due to the 3 hour loss.

kang hodong baekjeong

We went to Kang Hodong Baekjeong a Korean BBQ chain that a lot of celebrity chefs like Eddie Huang and David Chang have been going to recently.

A video posted by patrick lu (@pesto88) on

I mean... yeah this was definitely the best Korean BBQ I've ever had, not miles better than most places, but definitely the best. We ordered a beef and pork set, along with soju, makkoli, and honeydew soju. The range of flavors we experienced ranged from "this tastes just like a cheese burger" to mouth melting umami of a piece of well marbled beef to the weird gelatinous and gritiness of pork jowl. I really liked the creamed corn and egg "basins" located around the grill, oh and our server was super jolly and polite, which made the meal even more entertaining.

the 4

I woke up late on Friday and took the subway to meet up with Laurence. I think this was my first time taking the Subway alone in New York. Excuse me for stating the obvious, but it's more convenient than Bart in SF or any other public transit I've taken in the US. Subway cars leave very frequently, and you just have to know what line you want to go on, whether you're going up or downtown, and how many stops to count before you get off.

Laurence's office is right next to MoMA, which happens to be right next to the Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th. The only thing bad about Halal food is when you feel it the next morning on the toilet. What's not to like about a huge helping of creamy, spicy, charred-meaty goodness?

After I headed to my company's New York office. Walking up the stairs from the subway, I noticed a gritty looking convenience store nestled into the subway stop itself. I really wanted to take a photo of it, it looked straight out of a distopian punk future. But I didn't. This has happened to me so many times recently. I simply don't take the photo. Like a scared bitch.

The interior of our New York location looks exactly the same as the SF or Redwood City locations. Since our engineering team usually starts work at 10:30 PST, you really don't start going much until past noon if you're on the East coast.

sushi nakazawa

After work, I met up with Laurence and we headed to Sushi Nakazawa.

3 grades of toro

3 different grades of toro.

I know you've heard that the most important aspect of sushi is the rice. I remember back at my first omakase 5 years ago at Sushi of Gari, the rice felt electric when it hit my tounge. Thinking about it, it's a function of a lot of things. The rice is around body temperature, and to have something enter your mouth that's "natural" in temperature... is kind of erotic don't you think?

Also I've noticed that each grain of rice is really well pronounced, giving a textural difference from the soft fish. Body temperature warmth, contrasting with the cool temperature of the fish, with each piece offering a variety of flavor, sweetness, umami. Sushi is a beautiful thing.

That being said, I found the rice at Sushi Nakazawa a tad bit too warm. He said he used different kinds of seaweed for different roles... which was exemplified by the crab-maki we had, it was just on a totally different level than any other piece of sushi I've had.

nakazawa

I think the best part about the restaurant is that they didn't make me feel like a total noob. The sake pairing was amazing, the largest take away from it is that now I'm going to be on the look for unpasturized sake, rather than just asking for an unfiltered or filtered sake. The chef's didn't give us the stink eye when we tried to take photos, for the most part they were fun about it. There was a guy who got an extra piece of uni for his birthday, and after Laurence briefly said "It's your birthday too Pat!" Out of nowhere 2 huge helpings of uni appeared in front of us.

Slightly colder in temperature than most uni I've had, it really felt like I was eating a creamy custard of the sea.

Untitled

When you're dining with a partner, if they go to the restroom, Nakazawa will actually serve the rest of the bar first, and wait until he or she gets back. Also when we were eating our handroll course, Laurence dropped his on the floor... and again, out of nowhere a new piece of sushi appeared in front of him.

The service ended with his famous tamago-yaki. Would I recommend this place? Yes.

la columbe

Not feeling any jetlag at all, the next morning I woke up Laurence around 8AM (5AM PST...). We went out for coffee at La Columbe Torrefaction, bagels at Russ & Daughters, and chicken and waffles at Sweet Chick.

russ & daughters

Even though it wasn't snowing outside, the wind chill felt like a razor. We took our lox and cream cheese bagels over to a Whole Foods to eat, which were amazing even on a cold day. Sweet Chick wasn't great, I had the worst bloody mary of my life there, and yeah, 2 out 5 stars yo.

absorb

We took the subway to MoMA PS1, which I hadn't even known about before this trip. Besides a very niche part of photography, I know very little about art. My first real exposure to contemporary art was during my last trip to New York, I always thought "This stuff is so weird, why would anyone make this? Also, why the hell is this stuff here?"

ps1

For me, most of the time it's not even about the art. Sure I'll find an exhibit that I really vibe with, but I'm just happy that there's a place, even for a limited moment of time, where I can enter a space where these pieces exist. A place that's totally removed from the pace of normal life, where I can see, hear, feel, touch... something totally different.

I browsed their bookstore for quite a while, and stumbled upon Remi Coignet Conversations A book about photography with no photos, just conversations. I was drawn to the book since JH Engstrom's name was on it. Here's a little snippit (if you're not tired of reading already):

RC: Some photographers keep their distance, while others get close to them... My feeling is that you are in this second category.

JHE: I'm very interested in this question. What does it mean to be close or distant? ... "It's easier to keep your distance." Observing from a distance is a way of keeping safe. As you move closer, you reveal yourself. But if you decide to get close to your subject, you reveal yourself as a photographer in the same way the people you shoot are being revealed. Maybe photography is asking the question: what does it mean to be present or absent? To be close or far? All of photography moves between proximity and distance, whether you are shooting images or viewing them.

A truly inspiring book so far. Not for beginners =).

Afterwards, we went to Single Cut Brewery, to meet up with more friends. It's a nice and spacious brewery, great for large parties. We played quite a few rounds of Jenga and Uno, then we went off to...

momofuku ko

Momofuku Ko. I've only been to ssam and milk bar before, and remember ssam bar being not really the greatest experience. In all honesty, I don't see myself coming back to Ko for quite a while. I think in order to appreciate this sort of food, you do have to know how the chef is thinking, how he's approaching things. And that's a double edged sword, cause... why can't the food be self explanatory? What is "good food" when it's taken to a level of playfulness that needs explaining and pretense?

sake

The drinks were pretty bad to be honest. The sommolier let me get a really shitty bottle of chardonnay that was extremely tart. Then the most basic of basic sake's. Fortunately the last one was unpasturised and funky.

caviar

As for the food, the most memorable course was bread followed by a scrambled egg, with caviar and crumbled fried potato(chips). "This is David Chang on a plate." I thought. But is it worth paying $300 per person for a clever representation or take on a common breakfast item? Maybe actually. Maybe it's cool that his dishes are so comforting yet have a slightly different spin. At the same time I appreciate what he's doing for food, seeing and reading about certain dishes might create a level of expectation that can't be fulfilled in real life.

"If I pay X amount, I expect you to inspire me."

decible

With the night still not over, Laurence took Michelle and I to Decible a basement sake and snack bar in St. Marks place. What a cool fucking joint. 10/10 would hang out there again.

shots

After that we joined Laurence's extended group of old roomates and NYU friends at Tropical.

cue

It was a mad house, way too crowded, and the music wasn't great either. They had a couple pool tables in the back, where I just drank away the awkwardness.

trop

A couple of us went out to Karaoke aftwards. It was a very drunk night, and I was angry that the place didn't have ANY of my songs.

ramen ya

Laurence woke me up around noon the next day, and we went to Ramen Ya. I thought it was a pretty decent bowl of ramen, but it was not at a level that I desperately searching for.

royce

The girls wanted dessert, and recommended a place called Royce Chocolates near by. The store's interior reminded me of a high end... purse store, but after one bite I was hooked. I ended up buying 4 boxes, $18 per box, and my only regret was not buying more. This day was when it really hit me. New York really has a lot of amazing things to do. Each neighborhood has it's own unique character, and they're jam packed with quirky things that I really enjoy.

I met up with Jenny Fan for the interview afterwards. Michelle came by to meet up and I made her wait for a really long time, which I feel horrible for. Laurence and his roommates went to a Super Bowl party, and Michelle and I ordered Bonchon chicken and watched other things at their apartment.

fulton

On Monday morning, my 25th birthday, I couldn't get up. I refused to. The hours passed by, 1pm (10 on the West coast)... 2pm... I received constant messages on my phone wishing me happy birthday, but I just felt horrible. I finally got out of bed and decided I wasn't going to waste this trip, and headed out into the snow which was just starting to ramp up into high gear. As I was navigating to the subway station, I slipped and fell. It was kind of a huge wipe-out, but I got up and was fine...

hide-chan

I eventually made it to Hide-Chan, which is Ramen Totto's sister restaurant for tonkotsu pork ramen.

hide-chan

It was around 3pm on a Monday, it wasn't crowded, but there were still quite a few people there.

hide-chan

How was the bowl? One of the best I've ever had. Finally a place that cares about everything component of their ramen down to the temperature. I was revived after this and set off the office for the longest video conference meeting of my life.

off board

The one stark difference between New York and SF is that there's just so many people out on the streets at all times in New York. I miss being in a crowd of people. I want to blend in, I want people and faces to be flying pass me, I want to take photos of people who are in their "zone" those who are lost in their every day life.

birthday

At night I had my birthday party at Kinfolk, which I'm not sure is related to the magazine at all. It was still snowing a bit outside, but quite a few people came out! I hadn't had dinner yet and the kitchen was closed, but they let us order pizza's to the bar.

banana cake

Laurence got me a banana birthday cake from Momofuku Milk Bar. He's too good to me.

tonkatsu curry

On my last day I grabbed lunch with Madeline at another cozy hole in the wall basement Japanese spot.

eskimo

We walked back to her office in Chelsea. Even though the scenery wasn't very remarkable, I felt the need to try to take some photos.

book break

Afterwards, with the small amount of time I had before my flight I went to meet up with Justin Ryan Kim, a guy who left Texas at a similar time as me and still has managed to survive in New York.

aperture

I don't really know how much he's "struggled" but I do commend him for doing something different and going with it. He's probably more of a "millenial" in the way that I described above than I am. A large cushion, impossible to fail, but making the most of it while he's going. But for real, the girl he was hanging with wouldn't stop touching exhibits during our rounds, and she seriously has to hold that. I was glad that, even though the Aperture Gallery was between exhibits, that their store was open. They're the most prodominent publisher of contemporary photography books. Look you can see JH Engstrom's book on the top left of the bottom right 6 books! SO COOL!

jfk

Arriving at the airport, I noticed this large burst of light coming from the opposite side of the terminal. I followed it... just feeling that the contrast would make for an interesting photo. After passing through security, I sat down at my gate and starting looking at photos, I highlighted a couple... nothing seemed too amazing or stand out.

Having a couple minutes to spare, I decided to get a drink, as I got to the bar, a girl arrived at the same time, and as we awkwardly put our luggage to our sides, me to my right, her to her left, we ended up sitting next to each other despite there being a lot of other seats. I got a Guiness, not really feeling in the mood for a Stella or something in a bottle even if they were better options. She ordered wine, having her choices only be between "white" and "red." Having a few seconds to think of a line, I ended up asking, "So are you on the flight to SFO?" She was, and we went on to talk about our trips to the East Coast. With 20 minutes gone by, and our flight about to board, we suddenly realized that our flight back was going to be 7 hours. "How about we get breakfast sandwiches?" she said, which sounded amazing. Turns out the Dunkin Donuts we saw earlier was just an express with just drinks and pastries. We hurried over to McDonalds, not really giving a shit about anything anymore we got 2 big macs. We showed each other our tickets for the plane ride, her seat was A7, mine was 13F, I gave her a cookie from Momofuku, and we parted ways.

I found the whole interaction so organic, so natural. Why do I find myself often being so closed off in these situations? Can't I just be this open all the time? What's worse, rejection, or not expressing any feelings at all?

buds

All this being said. In the end I know I just have to trust my myself. To trust my taste and my current ability to navigate through this huge cloud of the unknown. I need to surround myself with the right people, try more things, and fail even more. Because now is when things are really starting. Maybe it's not about plan A or plan B. It's all on one course. There isn't any jumping from state to state. This is my life, my present, and that's where my head needs to be.