loaf of thought - july '21

a monthly digest of ideas, opinions, and updates… accompanied by recommendations on things to listen to, things to watch, and things to read.

Welcome back to loaf of thought. It’s been a while, I know. I hope you’re all still well and thriving, eagerly waiting for this newsletter! I’m sure it’s the best part of your week. Speaking of weeks… they can be really long and tiring. So check up on your mates that might be going through it. Give them a little nudge so they make it to the end of the week. Send them a gif, a playlist, or even this newsletter!

i’m feeling lucky

The New York Times describes this month’s playlist as “Sunny, Smiley, and Silly”. It’s a real good collection of tunes. And check out the archive for the tunes I added in June but never told anyone. (whoops)

summer chaos

The last two months of my life have been chaos. Good chaos. It’s always better to be busy than bored, and I appreciate how much has been on my plate recently. Following my trip to LA in May, I finished my eighth semester of college (which is way more than enough, phew). Since then I’ve gone to California twice, biked around Austin enough to fall in love with the city, galavanted in Dallas, camped in the middle of Big Bend, and then moved all the way to New York City (but more on that later).

adulting can wait

A result of the last two months of my life has been the preemptive nostalgia of my “younger days” (which are still unraveling) and a stark skepticism of growing old and moving on with real life. The crux of the matter is that life doesn’t really wait for anyone - it keeps making you move and finish the next chapter. Stuck between this nostalgia and premonition, we all go through the phase where “adulting” begins, and I find it stupid that at some point the fun has to end and adulting has to begin. There’s some people who get lucky and mint money until 25 and then do nothing for the rest of their lives. And there’s others who work-work-work until they’re 40, with the hope and intent that they’ll be rich (and alive) enough to have fun. Two trains of thought, right? Well, I’m not sure…

I think a lot about how “adulting can wait”, and I so desperately would like to subscribe to that idea, but how is it possible. My intention for this segment is not to solve some large philosophical issue, but instead to start a conversation on the balance between work and life. This conversation is even more important as we emerge out of a quarantined world and rethink our daily routines. Where does work stop and life begin? At what age does adulting begin, and do we have control over that transition? How is it possible to achieve that perfect balance in life, and what does it really take? Please write to me if you have any ideas on these questions, I would love to hear your thoughts and maybe together we can start a philosphy podcast, who knows…

with a grain of salt

Okay so I mentioned earlier that I moved to New York City. This is in fact, still true. I’m doing a 6-month residency/internship program at a small architecture firm called KOKO and I’ll be here until January! (So please come visit me, I’ll get lonely) I’m still getting settled in the city; I bought a bike last week and I’ve had fun exploring the different boroughs on two wheels. I’ve been trying interesting foods and meeting interesting people; it’s hard not to in a city where you are given little-to-no personal space or time.

Let me tell you a short story and then get to my point. Last weekend, I had lunch with an old school friend. We got burgers at a small place in East Village. We both got the same burger but he didn’t like his and I devoured mine. I also got fries for the both of us but there were a lot leftover, so I decided to give them to someone who might not have had a meal that day. I just didn’t want to waste this nice big bowl of curly fries, ya know? So once we parted ways, and I walked around East Village carefully scanning the sidewalks for someone who looked hungry or in need of some food. This is not an easy task with modern fashion often confusable as a dirty-rag-looking, ripped, tie-dyed tshirt. My first target was a man who was hobbling around with one shoe and a trash bag in-hand; I offered him my tasty fries and he replied to me “I’m fasting man! You got cash though?” I was caught off guard but said no and carried on. Now a couple blocks from the burger joint, I found another man who was just laying out his 2-ply cardboard next to a bank and prepping for an afternoon nap. I asked him if he would like my fries and ketchup, to which he politely said “No, thank you.” Now I was confused if I was even doing the right thing. Do people in New York not appreciate some good curly fries? Am I trying to do too much? Then I turned the corner and happened upon my third and final target. A small woman slouched over in a broken chair, surrounded by her belongings stuffed in plastic bags. I knelt in and asked her if she would like something to eat. She responded… “GET LOST! Fuck you and your fries!!!” I was shocked. But only for a second, before I frustratedly walked off and shoved my - now, burdening - fries in the nearest trash bin.

This whole silly story and encounter made me think about the way in which the city can shape people. The way in which it thickens our skin and teaches us to take life with a grain of salt. And it’s not just NYC, this happens everywhere. We live in a world where everything we do is qualified and quantified; a world that watches our every move and subliminally ranks us; a world that burns our tongues, plugs our ears, and binds our fingers, even when we do the simplest of things. It’s almost like The Good Place, it keeps track of our every action and teaches us small lessons. But more importantly, it makes our skin thick. Every weird encounter with a homeless person, everytime you get locked out of your apartment wearing just boxers (true story), and every rude driver on the road; they all make us a little more competent to deal with the next issue. It’s important that we take all of life’s challenges and hurdles with a grain of salt - in retrospect - so we can learn and grow from them. And most importantly, if you try to do something good and fail, always try again. The world will always scream at us, beat us down, and scold us; take it with a grain of salt.

an ode to Eminem

Photography has always been a large part of my life. I was given cameras and video-cameras at a very young age and I’m so grateful I got to explore the world through lenses. It allowed me to view normal and everyday life in new frames and tell little stories. It could be very simple and commonplace, like a standard U12 soccer game at the standard community park on a standard Saturday. But there’s a beautiful story in every photo and video captured during that game! You can put a story together piece-by-piece. The blurry photo of the grass tells us that it was the suuuuper windy day in September and we knew a cold autumn was coming. The photo of me with my hands on my head and eyes on my shoes tells us that the opposing team put the ball in the back of my net. The video that’s mainly black but filled with Coach Bryan’s screams tells us that my dad left his phone in his pocket while we scored a goal. Happens. Each of these moments might not be beautifully captured in 4K or with perfect timing, but they all tell beautiful little stories.

As I spend time with family and friends these days, doing mundane things and also experiencing cool things for the first time, I find it very important to document even the tiniest of moments. The moments that might not even be moments until you look back on the shitty pictures in a month. We often only remember to capture the perfect instagram snap or the prettiest views, but sometimes the silly picture of a fallen ice cream cone can tell a way better story than the million-dollar-bucket-shot. (I love to use these pictures when I recall travel stories to friends and family too! It’s extremely fun to narrate the entire story while having a pseudo-slidedeck to go along with it. You can point out every little detail and make sure to elaborate on all the embarrassing moments.)

Life is a story. And in that story, there are so many small stories. And in every story, a million moments. So capture those moments and don’t let them slip. (Now does the section header make sense?

link dump:

A very interesting collection of numbers.

Why you will marry the wrong person

An amazing diagram to organize and realize your feelings. (Alternate link)

Did you know the Great Wall of China is THIS long?

What’s the chance that 2 people share the same birthday?

A video to quickly prompt your quarter-life crisis.

I’m grateful to be able to share these kinds of opinions and thoughts with you all. I’ll continue to update you on my experiences in NYC and the relentless chaos inside my mind. I’m excited to start some new projects soon and share those as well! Stay safe, take pictures, and send me your opinions and thoughts.

have a lovely August, folks.