Goals

I’m remembering the time when my husband and I first talked about living in a tiny house at the end of 2013. It was a baby step that would move us toward achieving longer-term, would-they-ever-happen goals — like living on a plot of land in the country, for instance. At the time, we were living in an industrial-style condo near downtown San Francisco, newly married and both working for companies headquartered right there in the city. Sounds comfy and convenient for two young professionals: why would there be a reason to leave? Continue reading “Goals”

Big thoughts on a tiny screen

It took me days to collect fragments and half-thoughts for a recent blog post. Stringing words together was, as usual, incredibly difficult. I usually promote new blog posts on Instagram, and when I typed up a caption about the post and how I’d had a hard time expressing my thoughts last week, those 206 words came so much easier there.

I think the tiny caption field on Instagram makes the process of writing less intimidating. I type deep thoughts on that small screen without any pressure, while here — on my laptop screen and WordPress editor — it often feels like my thoughts must be worthy of this big blank page.

Eudocia

From the Atlantic’s June cover story, “My Family’s Slave”:

To our American neighbors, we were model immigrants, a poster family. They told us so. My father had a law degree, my mother was on her way to becoming a doctor, and my siblings and I got good grades and always said “please” and “thank you.” We never talked about Lola. Our secret went to the core of who we were and, at least for us kids, who we wanted to be.

After my mother died of leukemia, in 1999, Lola came to live with me in a small town north of Seattle. I had a family, a career, a house in the suburbs—the American dream. And then I had a slave.

It’s a piece by Alex Tizon about his family’s secret slave in the Philippines, and who remained their slave when they moved to the US. Tizon, who struggled to write about Lola, passed away in March.

Cigarette paper

I read Chris Heath’s GQ profile of Nick Cave this weekend, while on a plane. I’d heard it was a good read. And it is. It covers a lot of things, including dealing with the death of his 15-year-old son Arthur, who fell off a cliff. One line in particular really got to me — just beautifully expressed:

“I think that Susie and I both just stepped into an alternate reality, you know, but that you could slip a cigarette paper between the two worlds, both in terms of the time that it took for us to change and its closeness to reality,” he reflects.

Sabbatical

It’ll be my five-year anniversary at my company, Automattic, this fall, and I’m eligible to take a three-month paid sabbatical — a benefit I’m very grateful for. It feels funny to compile a To Do list for time off, but a bit of planning will help me make the most of it.

Here’s a list of things I’ve thought of, so far, that I’d like to do:

  • Go to the gym at whatever time I want, even — or especially — those awkward times like 10 and 11 am.
  • Spend more time one-on-one with my three nephews and niece, who are growing way too fast.
  • Spend time in our soon-to-be garden, which should be planted by mid-summer, pending this still-rainy weather.
  • Cook a lot and try out new recipes, expanding beyond my comfort zone (aka my beloved Le Creuset dutch oven). Start baking.
    – Take a soft pastel class. Or get back into watercolors, which I enjoyed in middle school.
    – Take a surfing lesson — somewhere in California, if possible. (I plan to take a class in Hawaii this summer — this may be a better opportunity.)
    – Do a self-directed silent retreat at a Trappist monastery up north.
    – Attend a yoga and vipassana retreat in Marin County.
    – Continue with my taiko class and practice my form.
    – Restring my violin and take private lessons.

I’ll try to squeeze in visits to New York and Los Angeles to visit close friends and family, but for the most part I want to travel as little as possible — and enjoy being and doing right here at home.

Piercing through the fog

Shared this on Instagram and Facebook last month, when I got another tattoo:

For most of my life, I’ve been drawn to Sutro Tower, which sits atop a hill in San Francisco. While it’s iconic, it’s often overshadowed: not necessarily pretty, and certainly not golden. For me, it has a presence much like the fog, which is ever-present and something I’ve always felt connected to—and in my mind, one could not exist without the other. When the fog rolls in, it covers the city, yet the tips of the tower are often visible, piercing through the haze. Of all the structures that rise into the sky or span across the bay, Sutro Tower is at once a relic, representing what I once loved about San Francisco. And yet, as an antenna tower, it’s also a mark of now, of the future. Continue reading “Piercing through the fog”

Classics

Today, while hunting for longreads, I came upon “Classics Never Die: What It Means for DJs to Grow Old,”Pitchfork piece by Jonny Coleman from 2015:

François K got lost when he got really caught up in dubstep and commercial techno,” Englehardt and Paul Nickerson write in an email, referencing the 61-year-old house mainstay. “Unfortunately a lot of the music he plays just doesn’t have the depth or emotion he says it does—it’s all very superficial and you can feel that when he plays now.

“It happens because calculation takes the place of inspiration,” they continue. “When you first start out, it’s all fresh and that is your driving force, but as time goes on see you see that everything is just someone rehashing something that was done better 15 years earlier. It can make you can become bitter quickly. So people like François K make a calculated decision to try to stay relevant, and that is a big part of why music is so terrible right now. Instead of speaking out against the mediocrity of everything, these ‘legends’ assimilate themselves to the current situation and lie to themselves that these new half finished, do-nothing tracks are what people like these days. Whereas 20 years ago, that same person would have said this shit is wack and pushed themselves to go further.”

Yes!

Also: EDM sucks.