Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: I had fun last night, but you gotta go

I promised myself to put down my thoughts into writing before the year ended. Not for social media sharing, not to solicit empathy for anyone around me. Rather, it was something I wanted to do to reflect and be able, ready, and willing to move on.

A stream of consciousness with little editing and parsing.

It was common for everyone to look back on 2016 and deem it a terrible year. From celebrity deaths to the impending doom of the United States in the hands of alt-right white supremacists, 2016 was a year to forget for a lot of people.

I've had my ups and downs this year - more downs and deeper troughs than up - but I look back on this year with one thought:

2016 was one of the shittiest years I've experienced in quite some time, but I wouldn't change a thing about it.

Through the struggles came an opening into a deeper understanding of purpose and sense of self. And while I went through times of heartache, the personal growth that came out of it was profound. 

The year started with pain. A journey across Europe and Asia was set up in hopes to find direction, but only found sadness and confusion. Questioning, doubt, longing. The struggle to make a hope a reality never came through. January 1, 2016: sitting in a loud bar in Hong Kong in Wan Chai, among a sea of jubilant and loud partiers.

I was in the corner of that dive bar; beer and cocktail residue lining the floor so that your shoes couldn't get off the ground without that sticky, velcro-like reaction. 

I was at the corner of that dive bar; staring at my two plastic cups of whiskey and coke, cigarette on the other hand. 

I was at the corner of that dive bar; chain smoking and drinking, looking for an escape and some sort of solace. 

It wasn't there. 

I was in the last semester of Business School - I should have been enjoying it. But all I wanted to do was curl into a ball of self-wallowing. Not a pretty sight. 

My year was filled with moments like these. I had hoped to embark on my own Eat, Pray, Love journey to find some sense of direction and meaning:

  1. January: Hong Kong, Mammoth Lakes
  2. February: San Francisco, San Diego
  3. March: Shanghai, Las Vegas, New York
  4. April: Miami, San Francisco, Las Vegas
  5. May/June: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei
Nothing panned out.

While 2012 was rough for me, the circumstances were different. 2012 was looking outward: friends, the future.

2016 was inward: me, choices, purpose. 

I tried meditation and mindfulness. While it helped center me at some points, it didn't solve much.

For the first eight months of this year, I woke up at 5AM on the dot every morning. Didn't matter where, when I fell asleep, or my exhaustion. 

I had knots in my back that would take a strong elbow from the masseuse to break down. 

You harken back to the sayings coaches and mentors tell you:
  • Continue to grind it out, roll with the punches
  • Keep on fighting and you'll get what you pursue
But after a certain extent, the will to fight starts to fade. 

Getting rejected by two companies you went through multiple rounds, cases, and in-person interviews with on your birthday really, really sucks

The summer was marked by questioning whether the choices I made were worth it. Should I throw it all away? I thought about getting away from it all. Working 6 months as a WWOOFer, to try to figure it out. 

I had friends, I had family, I had support. But the troughs this year made me feel lonelier than ever. 

Everyone around me could see me struggling, trying to cheer me up. I owe them a lot for helping me get through it. One thing that stuck with me was something my dad said:

"Life is like seasons: you go through ups and downs. You're just going through winter now, but like seasons it'll be spring again"

Sure enough, he was right. The second half of the year began to turn, and one weekend getaway in Cooks Valley up in Humboldt in the middle of the forest turned out to be the tipping point. Floating by the river looking up in the sky, mind completely blank, filled with euphoria. 

I can't really describe how I got I out of my funk. It was really through continuous grinding, pounding on the pavement. No life advice will really come out of this.

But here I am now, in my apartment in Oakland looking through the year and reflecting on all the events that have transpired. I remember one of my friends commenting on how I've changed since I left New York. 

I would tend to agree, and through this year I thought through everything and widdled down 3 things that stuck with me about this year:
  1. You'll find that everything you try to "plan" for will inevitably not go according to plan. All you can do is make yourself open to opportunity
  2. At some points in your life, you need to stop beating yourself up.
  3. I am so incredibly lucky to have the friends that brought me up this year when I was down
I enter 2017 with a strong sense of self and worth with the friends and family around me. My hope is that writing this can put the year behind me and look forward to the new.

So with that, I sign off for this year. 

As John Oliver so eloquently put it: "Fuck you, 2016."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New York I Love You, despite the times You Brought me Down

It has finally come to this: almost eight years after I moved out of my room in California to an even smaller room on 3rd avenue and 11th, I am flying out back west. 

Buying a one-way ticket, no return guaranteed. 

How do I try to capture the feelings and emotions that I feel right now? I'd say it's a bit of:

With a hint of:

Wrapped in this:

How do I move on from a place that I spent all of my adult years at? It's tough: this place was really the only place I ever knew as an adult. But, if I learned anything from living here, it's that you need to keep moving. 

Don't stop.

Look for the next thing, don't settle, push through. Run after it, keep pace, or you'll be left behind. 

New York, I thank you for everything you taught me. You threw me into the lowest of lows, but brought me to the highest of the high's. You taught me to be humble; taught me to be tough. 

You taught me that you can have hundreds of friends but still feel like the loneliest person in the city. People let you down. I found out that it's important to spend your energy on the people that matter most. Don't waste your time and energy on those who you know won't support you the minute things go sour. 

What came out of it? A profound appreciation to the people here I truly connected with and valued. It's hard to find good people as you get older. Hence, why I strove to see them as much as I could before I jetted west.

You taught me to embrace the new, don't just fall into what's comfortable. To stop being a Manhattanite or Brooklynite. Venture out, explore. I found the best fried chicken and barbecue was in Williamsburg, the best pizza in Bushwick, the most ridiculous ice cream in Prospect Heights. 

Head north to Queens and you'll find the most amazing Thai food and Hot Pot. Japanese restaurants are prevalent, but want to find something awesome? Head to any of the spots owned by the TIC Group around Mahattan. Or Fukurou for izakaya stuff. Hakata Ton Ton or Takashi in West Village are great too. 

If you're in for pickles head to the Upper West. Bagels in the upper east. Ever had tacos at the Rockaways? You should, even the tofu ones. 

Bars come a plenty, but what about having a gin & tonic straight from the tap? Or at the Brewery across the river? Or from the crazy whiskey selection at Noorman's Kil? Drank out of a boot yet?

Ever been up north and rode the train along the Hudson? Or rented a car to check out Storm King? Or how about headed out east to get away from the city? Hamptons? Fire Island?

Have you run a race yet? The Corporate Challenge? What about done a sprint triathlon? Have you biked up the West Side Highway all the way from Battery Park to the Upper West Side? Had a barbecue with a friend on the roof in Brooklyn overlooking the Manhattan skyline?

These experiences should be the new normal. Going to Smorgasburg on a Saturday doesn't constitute to a "trek" to Brooklyn. I made sure I did that the last 36 months here, and I'm so glad I did. Because as a result of it I was able to take in such unique experiences I otherwise would have missed.

New York, over these eight years you taught me a lot about who I am, and my flaws. The good and bad. The toughest of times here brought the most insightful and introspective moments. There was magic in those moments. I come out of it better, much better, than I was entering. 

So as I hop on this plane back to where I grew up, I can't help but always remember this place. Yes I was raised in California, but I grew into who I was in New York. 

With that, I leave 12 pictures that best tell the story of my time here. No captions, just memories. Thank you, New York. Thank you friends. I leave New York with excitement with what lies ahead, but longing for a place that is undeniably the best city in the whole world. Yes, I said it. 

New York, I'm going to miss your swagger, as vulgar and grotesque as it is sometimes.

Till next time,

Monday, May 23, 2011

First Official Professional Motion Capture Event

Props to the folks at Green Street who just released their first video for their track, "Time Won't Change Us" off the new EP Don't Look Down. Check out the video below and if you haven't already download their album here. Trust me, it's worth it, and if you don't at least give them a listen I'm shaking my head at you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Centurian Awesomeness

I guess this is the 100th post on this shindig. Not sure how I even kept this going for so long even though the posts come at a regularly almost as often as San Francisco Giants championships (pun intended). It's been a crazy time since the beginning of the post so I'm going to hit back to post number one and see how far things have progressed or regressed:

Musical Tidbits:

"I'm listening to the new Death Cab album right now, "Narrow Stairs", and basically if you saw me 6 years ago you would dumbfounded to see how drastic of a musical choice in music I was listening to."

Did Death Cab's Narrow Stairs really come out that long ago? That's nuts. With the release of their new album it would be definitely a good listen to check them out this summer at the Williamsburg waterfront concert series. It's strange how out of the loop I have been with music. The lack of commuting that involves a radio hinders your ability to obtain new sources of music. Besides new electronic dance music tracks and Green Street beats, my music playlist could have been replicated 2 years ago and considered new.

Besides music much has changed. School life is over. Work life is in.

New adventures every weekend have evolved to monotonous grinding mixed in with the occasional sunshine from the ever cloudy overcast days that never go away.

But I can't be happier. Things have developed in the last 3 months that I really can't be mad about. New friends, meeting up with old friends, moving on up in work. Sun's out, snow's gone, rooftops are open. Things are looking good this summer.

What's in store I have no idea but I like where this ride is going for this summer. I've been getting less sleep but been fine. I've woken up happier (don't worry, was already happy to start with) than I was the day before. I'm excited to see where each day takes me.

From one risk to the next making moves career wise, life wise, soul wise. Stay tuned.

100 OUT!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The City of Brotherly Love

I just came back from a weekend trip to Philadelphia to visit friends from high school. Armed with our high school senior video that dates back to 2006, I make the 2 hour trek down. Little did I know that based on what I did in the past two visits I had only scratched the surface of what philly had to offer.

For one thing the Cheesesteaks there are the staple late night food. I finally got a chance to take a bite from both Pat's and Geno's Cheesesteaks which were across the street from each other. All in all I have to say I would prefer Pat's over Genos, but only by a slight margin.

That was given; I knew that the best cheesesteaks were obviously in Philly. What I didn't realize was the food revolution that was going on in that city. The bistro culture I believe is stronger than - dare I say it - New York. I think the fine dining and white cloth uppity-ness that New York asks at times is stripped out of New York food. For every classic steak and potatoes chain restaurant in Philadelphia there were two to three restaurants in neighborhoods showcasing some fantastic food. While I did not come across any heavy Asian restaurants besides the Japanese/Chinese fusion joints, I was overwhelmed and really excited by the other types of food I was able to see. The Italian market was more robust than New York's little Italy, and the farmer's markets were fresh and cheaper than store-brand produce: as it should be (however not always the case in New York).

Obviously another plus is that the cost of food is considerably cheaper. What I also found was the prevalence of upscale bars and lounges. The nice medium between clubs and bars, these lounges were a nice place to get a fantastic cocktail without having to shell out your paycheck for one drink and the silly dress-code-matching-ratio-cover silliness of New York. I was pleased and revitalized about the sheer relaxed nature of Philadelphians.

What a great escape from New York. Believe me I love the city but there are times when one needs to take a break from the hustle and bustle of New York. You'd be surprised how nice it was to not have to walk through crowded sidewalks, side shuffle through numerous tourists, and worry about to pay through your nose for genuinely delicious food.

I didn't take any pictures - I was spending all of my time catching up with high school classmates - but I have this. The weekend was supposed to storm while I was there, but I'm glad that the sun cleared the air for the majority of my time there.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rants of a 20 Something Year Old

Too young to be old

Too old be young

Living a 25 hour life in a 24 hour day

Perfectly lonely but fiercely dependent

It's been a wild weird winter/early spring.

New things old things bad things good things

Sticking my neck out trying to get noticed

With great praise received in roles

but none in building bonds with some

Trying to find a place but running out of space

Without an answer I stare at this damn screen waiting for the notification

Friday, December 24, 2010

Recipe for Making a Bomb Christmas Dinner

Very unorthodox Christmas, but if I have learned anything from Euro-snow nearly ruining our plans due to inability for Europeans to work without freaking out and running out of de-icing liquid, it is that Christmas is where family and good company is. So here in pictures is how I rocked the Christmas dinner and how you can too. No real quinessential "Christmas" roast but still good rustic food with some European and Californian influence. Hope everyone had a good one and enjoy the photos:

Portugese Kale Soup:

1. Add stuff

2. Put it in a pot with stock and simmer

3. Pour it into a bowl

Salad: put greens together and make a dressing. Straight forward:

Pasta with Clams and White Wine:

1. Get clams

2. Get Pancetta

3. Cut up some Parsley

4. Put stuff together, add some white wine and some hot pepper for a kick and serve

Duck Breast with beet roots and watercrest:

1. Get some foil, put the beets in there with rosemary, olive oil, salt/pepper, and balsamic and pop in the oven for 35 minutes at 400F

2. Once that's ready cook your duck and put it on top. Make sure you rest it so the juices redistribute into the meat.

Should be pretty straight forward ya? Haha. Anywho hope everyone out there is enjoy Christmas and having a wonderful break. Was going to write a post about London but got too lazy so just check the album on FB. Anywho, love peace and chicken grease.