street art

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Today, I am inspired to be something and to do something.

I went to the Geffen in Los Angeles yesterday with K to see a street art exhibit. It was the first time I had seen street art displayed in a studio. In some ways, a gallery felt like a foreign setting for street art. At the same time, seeing Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Mr. A, and Os Gemeos in a gallery felt like the art was in the proper place to get the attention and recognition it deserved, where people could look at it thoughtfully and see it differently.

This morning, I woke up and finished watching Exit Through the Gift Shop, of which I had only seen the fifteen minutes until now. Not surprisingly, it lived up to everything I had heard about it and more.

To me, street art feels like one of the freest forms of expression. It’s often anonymous, very visible and accessible, and subject to the viewers’ interpretation. Street artists like the ones featured in the documentary simply enjoy the act of creating, without any ulterior motives. It’s almost as if the fame and fortune that followed were convenient side effects to the quintessential purpose of street art. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t totally dig that.

Morgan Spurlock was on NPR promoting his new documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, in which he proposes that all the space that your eyes can see are exploited for advertisement or some kind of marketing scheme. Whether it’s a car bumper sticker to a billboard to a design to a bus stop to a grocery bag. You can’t go anywhere (except to sleep, or perhaps Sao Paolo in Brazail) to escape it.

So, in a world saturated with so many schemes to grab our attention to influence us to buy things, street art is a welcome buffer to enriching our experience in this crazy place. Instead of serving an obvious purpose, street art encourages us to search for purpose. And meaning. Or perhaps decide that there is no purpose or meaning to anything, really! Whatever it is truly meant for, street art provokes thought and catches your attention and hopefully inspires you to say something yourself.

Finally put up these lanterns today. I was in the perfect mood to add more color to my room.

That Old Ball Game

My newly founded love for baseball is all Felipe’s fault. After watching all 9 innings of Ken Burns’ documentary, I converted.

We saw the Angels play the Red Sox at Angel Stadium. (The Red Sox beat the Angels 4-2.) Growing up in Anaheim, my family always drove past the edifice but never bothered to venture anywhere past the traffic pouring in and out of it. Being inside is completely different from being inside the Nationals Park in D.C. or Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD. For starters, the Angels are owned by Disney, so every time the Angels hit a home run, it’s accompanied by a fireworks display. I’m not kidding you. I once read that Disney’s Fantasmic costs about $3,000 a night to put on for all its water effects, lighting, and pyrotechnics. Imagine how much capital also pours into each home run at Angel Stadium. (Pun intended.) Regardless, we had a good time doing this 80% of the time we were there.

Took Mom out to celebrate the first weekend after tax season today. We went to see a movie and spent some quality time together. She also made it out to a show that we did last Friday night and stole the microphone for a bit to tell everyone how happy she was that people were there supporting our music!

Our first local tour recently wrapped up, and I’m already having withdrawals. I did some reflecting about it today, and I thought of all the people we’ve met along the way. Ten shows, ten different locations. This tour helped me get re-settled on the west coast. I feel like I’m home again now. I can’t wait to do it again.

mission accomplished

Quality time is something I take very seriously, and I am practicing being present for friends, family, and loved ones. The ability to multi-task is a blessing and a curse. My attention is often divided when it shouldn’t be, purely out of habit. And so I slip into quieter moments of reading, studying, writing to practice focusing my attention on one thing at a time. I’m trying harder to engage in real conversations, not just “how do you do’s” that abandon genuine interest.

Helped J’s little sister build her mission project yesterday. She and her fellow 4th graders have to recreate one of California’s missions in miniature form. White pant and wood glue in my fingernails. We never got this assignment in 4th grade, so I lived out the assignment that I never had the chance to procrastinate when I was younger. Also brought J an Easter basket of candy, hoping to lift his spirits. He’s getting better slowly but surely. N and her brother E stopped by for a visit and a very long round of UNO! (I lost.)

Macrobiotics. Having lost three family members to cancer, I’m on quest to build a healthy bulwalk against my own genetic history! Started the macrobiotic yesterday, not to lose weight but to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So far, so good. I’m running 2 miles, three times a week. Eating healthy. Sleeping enough. Cuddling a lot. Laughing a lot.

Here’s what was on the menu last night:

— Steamed tilapia, marinated with lemon juice, ginger, and pepper
— Organic spring salad with vinaigrette that I made (white wine vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, and lemon juice)
— Roll of whole grain bread


Today is the first day of Pesach, more commonly known as Passover. Humility. Solidarity. Exodus. Unleavened bread. I don’t observe the holiday (I was raised Buddhist), but I thought that offering my curiosity and respect would be appropriate.

I broke some unleavened bread in the form of naan today with a new friend from Germany. P and I went for Indian food for dinner. She and I met through the CouchSurfing community. Through it, I’ve met tons of world travelers right here in our own little nook of the world in Orange County. It’s an amazing community whose core mission is to explore as much as possible and open up their couches and hearts to other world wanderers. I’m humbled by the generosity of this community and am happy to be part of it.

This morning, I heard about something called a macrobiotic diet. Gwyneth Paltrow was on NPR speaking about her new cookbook, inspired by memories of being in the kitchen with her dad, who passed away 9 years ago due to throat cancer. In it, she offers family recipes interlaced with anecdotes about cooking with her father. While he was undergoing treatment for cancer, she encouraged him to switch to a macrobiotic diet, a Japanese-influenced philosophy for nutrition meant to maintain good dietary health and prolong your lifespan. It’s known for its preventive effects for cancer and heart disease. It is composed of mostly grain and vegetables and organic fruits. No meats except for fish. No microwaving food. Sugars, spices, salts, alcohol, and dairy in very small amounts, if at all. My arteries felt cleaner simply reading about it. As of now, my food intake consists mainly of these things anyway, just not in such a strict way. I am contemplating weaning myself into it for a period of time, experimentally. More updates soon. Thanks, Gwyneth Paltrow.

P.S. Tax season is over! My weary-eyed parents (both accountants) can finally catch up on that good old thing called sleep before next January starts the cycle all over again.

june 18, 2003

This was the date that I first purchased a Disneyland pass. I was fifteen years old and had just started my first job teaching piano. The arduous hours I spent slouched over keyboards while repeating lessons over and over had finally amounted to enough cash for me to buy a deluxe annual passport. Back then, it was only $160 for one. (Nowadays, it’s more than twice as much!)  This was the first big thing I had saved up for, and nothing was more gratifying than finally feeling the cool plastic of the passport in my hands.

The wheel of life has turned so much since then, but one thing remains the same. I love Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom has never lost its luster in my mind’s eye. I’ve seen Disneyland bring the inner child out of everyone who walks past the turnstiles at the front gate, whether or not they admit it.

Each time I go, I insist on reacting to the jolts and turns of Indiana Jones’ Adventure as if it was my first time, every time. I give directions to tourists who are visiting for the first time, as if I were a citizen of this Disney-fied town. No matter what, I always save room for clam chowder. Even though I’ve been to New Orleans and it is nothing like New Orleans’ Square, I let my imagination overwrite my memory for the time being. Then, when the fireworks come on at 9:30, I return to innocence in the middle of Main Street, joining the hundreds of other kids (young and old) looking up at the sky, wide eyed and awestruck.

All this is to say that I’m due for another trip soon. Since I’ve been back in southern California, I’ve only made one trip, and that is insultingly infrequent, considering how I made weekly pilgrimages when I was younger. Felipe and I will be getting passes soon. I can’t wait.

82 degrees

It was 82 degrees outside today. Perfect dress weather!

Strangely enough, I prefer the warm nights that the hot days inevitably prepare. The higher temperatures lure people out of their abodes for laughing, playing, and late-night dining – all just because.

This weather has inspired my pen (fingers, rather). I’m typing away at something that perhaps one day might be published. For now, it rests in my imagination and on my pages.

If this weather lasts through tomorrow, I predict a beach day.

educated donkey (smart ass)

Oh, the things I get away with.

I’m pretty sure my boss is convinced I’m a smartass. I’m one step ahead. I know I’m a smartass. You know how? My 8th grade teacher told me so, except he called me an “educated donkey” because he wasn’t allowed to call a student a smartass outright. I’ve lived up to the name ever since.

Although he’d never give me the satisfaction of hearing him admit it, I know that my boss secretly enjoys my “smartass-ery.” Our relationship has evolved from one of oblivious intern/busy CEO (when I interned for him in college), to rookie executive assistant learning the ropes/flustered CEO who went through 3 assistants in the last year (when I got hired last year), to seasoned assistant who is on top of everything/impressed CEO with more time on his hands (when I recently mastered all my duties and then some), to cheeky, happy-go-lucky girl who is hungry most of the time/guy who just wants to go home and nap (now).

To put it pictorially, in October, when I first started, we were professional and polite:

And now…

Boss: Where are you off to?
Lily: The post office. Then a quick lunch.
Boss: But [the client] is going to call you to give us his payment information. (Smiling) It’s for a lot of money.
Lily: (Returning the smile) Oh, but I’m going to call him back because I’m hungry and need sustenance! (Walks away)

Boss: Lily, do you think this folder is okay to carry around?
Lily: Why, what’s wrong with it?
Boss: It’s got some scratches on this side.
Lily: Let me see that. (inspects scratches, flips the folder over) Just carry it this way!
Boss: I’m glad you’re here to solve the bigger problems of this business.

(end of the work day on Friday, Boss strolls into my office)
Boss: You know, this one time when I was little, I —
Lily: Can’t you see I’m working?!

Boss: I’m about to hop on the phone with [our client]. His last assistant died, you know.
Lily: Really?
Boss: Consider that a warning. (walks aways slowly)

Boss: I really appreciate you staying later, Lily. I’m very touched that you care so much about the business.
Lily: No problem, Boss!
Boss: Here, take this grapefruit.
Lily: Um, it’s okay.
Boss: Don’t worry about it. I’ve got two.

Yesterday, my boss told me that I could work from home today. If you haven’t experienced working from home before, let me tell you that it is glorious. Working from home is like an early weekend. Working from home means keeping an eye on e-mails coming in, setting up an “out-of-office” automated message for cruise control, and staying in your pajamas. Working from home is freedom!

…So you can imagine my disappointment when he called late last night to tell me that I was, indeed, to face traffic in the morning and head down to the office for something that required my attention. I responded, “I better be getting another grapefruit out of this.”

This morning, upon entering my office, I found a grapefruit sitting on my computer.


i sing the body poetic

I smell like Korean BBQ. Something about eating Asian food dictates that you will leave the restaurant smelling like what you just ingested. Dress appropriately. I smell like eau de bimbimbap. Try selling that at Macy’s!

Took a stroll around mile-square park while reading my book. I came across this bench and sat staring out at the water for a little bit with Ms. Anais Nin’s words in my head. Her diaries were published in a series of volumes. I’m currently reading the third. In this volume, she’s in her early twenties. Who knew that being a girl in the 1920s, despite generational differences, was still so similar to being a girl this age in present day? She had the same insecurities about her role in the world and the same struggles with her identity as anyone would at this age. The artist’s soul is timeless.

“I want to write, first of all, as a poet. I want to make just such a selection, cast a mist about the molded thing. I want things to appear not as if I had seen them but as a vague picture into which the ugly and the weak had crept, unperceived almost, and taken their place — as they do in life.” –Anais Nin

The deeper I delve into her words, the more I am convinced she is a kindred spirit. As I read, I feel myself lock in sync with moments and thoughts that she describes as if they were part of my very own experience. Because in a way, they are. I may not have lived her life, but I have come to the same realizations through living mine. Like her, I see life poetically, and that is how I wish to preserve it in my writing, my photos, and my music.

Not only that — she is so open with herself about her own insecurities. I’m afraid to confess some of mine because the optimist in me automatically labels them “silly.” She reminds me that it’s natural to have insecurities! Facing them can only help you move on.

She wrote voraciously in her diary, some would dispute even obsessively. In her early twenties, she began working on a few novels and grew frustrated with the process. Sometimes she would pick up momentum, then lose it. However, she remained devoted to her diary all throughout because she saw it as the only thing that could receive all of her emotions. In a very big way, I can relate to that. For the periods of time in which I neglect to write, I become overwhelmed with so much emotion that I just end up numb or unhappy. For me, writing is a way of seeing the world differently, and when I fail to give myself the time to take a critical look at what is around me, I feel lost.

I’m glad I’m reading Anais, and I’m glad I’m writing now.