i miss new york

the high school orchestra trip i took as a freshman violinist to nyc sealed the deal for me: i decided that when i grew up, i wanted to move to new york. i still remember getting back from SFO airport on the school bus and experiencing this overwhelming sadness. i felt i had been changed forever. from the hole in the wall diners to the jazz show in some random house in harlem to seeing rent on broadway, i couldn’t wait to live that sleepless life in the city of rough edges, unapologetic counter culture and raw creativity.

le tigre and yeah yeah yeahs were my heroes during high school. they embodied the life i wanted—unafraid to speak up about inequality and the things that pissed them off.

i took a detour and moved to london and LA before finally making my way back to new york in my mid 20s. i was there for 7 years—i struggled, i grew, and adopted a new york street cat.

i landed in brownsville, brooklyn when i first moved to new york because i was a dumbass and didn’t know anything about neighborhoods so i spent the first year commuting to practically the end of the 3 train a few stops before new lots avenue. i worked random jobs while freelancing photo gigs when i first moved—working a tiny coat check in a speakeasy in chinatown (shoutout to phil, the funniest door dude who would give me a ride home every night when the bar closed and we’d swing by dough in bedstuy at 4am for free donuts), stuffing envelops at a student loans place in flatiron, and photographing restaurants and live music.

i didn’t know what i was doing with life and i burned out at the startup i was at in LA so i just wanted to y’know, live and figure it out later. you have the rest of your life to work a job you hate so what’s the rush? as “la vie boheme” from rent goes:

To riding your bike (la vie Boheme)
Midday past the three-piece suits (la vie Boheme)

i turned down two full time “career” jobs and opted to just hustle (rip sleep schedule) until i found what i wanted to do; i wanted to be intentional about what i chose to do with my life and figured nyc was the absolute perfect place to explore that if i was down to struggle errrrr…i mean work.

those early days were rough but i went to so many shows from living room house shows to barclays center and always had a group of friends to hang on rooftops with. 4th of julys were always special—there’s nothing quite like new york during the summer. there were nights where we laid flat in the back of a truck driving through brooklyn laughing and watching fireworks go off in the sky or that time we hugged each other watching fireworks to the backdrop of manhattan and frank sinatra’s “new york, new york” playing. everything felt perfect in those moments.

i eventually hustled and ended up working right in the center of times square for my “dream companies” at the time. commuting into times square 5 days a week was far from being a dream though but i was able to enjoy even more of the city not to mention work parties from the 42nd floor of broadway overlooking times square. things weren’t perfect but i experienced so many bucket list items which i’m eternally grateful for. i photographed so many of my favorite bands including the drums on a roof in times square to bloc party in central park which happened to be the last concert i photographed in new york.

i’ve thought of moving back to LA off and on for years but i was finally starting to really love the life i had built for myself in nyc. hell, i even finally bought patio furniture cos i thought i was staying for keeps. i didn’t expect to move back but 2020 showed me that i didn’t really have a reason to stay in new york either. i stuck with new york through the roughest personal experiences. i stayed even though i really wanted to leave new york after my best friend died in 2015 and everything in the city reminded me of him because we were each other’s stand in partners. i stuck with new york through the apocalyptic start of the pandemic. i suffered through getting covid and clapped for healthcare workers down the street at the hospital.

i don’t regret my decision to buy a place in LA and move back but as the semblance of normalcy starts to reveal itself with the vaccine, it pains me to see nyc stir again. it pains me to be away from the ones i love but i’ve accepted that i will always ache for different places. living between the united states, china, england has shown me that a part of me will always love and ache for those places and the people who changed me no matter where i am. i’m forever grateful of how new york has shaped me irrevocably the past 7 years and for the irreplaceable people i’ve met.

i ate a stupid bagel today and it was mediocre and brought to the surface this wistful longing. a fucking bagel and i’m in tears.

i had a glass bottle thrown at me

tfw you unsure if you just got hate crimed or if it’s just downtown la. 🙃

last weekend someone threw an empty glass bottle at me when i was walking to the vet to pick up my cat from a checkup. i was walking on main st just passing 6th—i looked around, couldn’t see anyone and i was on the phone with the vet so i just kept walking instead of making a scene. it wasn’t until i got home that it dawned on me that it was thrown on purpose (luckily only smacked my hand/wrist). the angle couldn’t have been accidental—it was thrown from behind me and perhaps from above.

i’m wondering why i’m writing about this a week later. ultimately, for two reasons—i want to talk about processing the experience and issues i think need to be addressed tied to racism or mental illness.

it took some time to process

i’ve mostly lived in metropolitan cities—los angeles, new york and london briefly. even growing up, i lived in a fairly liberal part of northern california and partially china (where you can imagine, i didn’t experience quite the same amount of racism but was still ostracized for being american and well that’s a whole other topic). although i’ve experienced racism, typically these cities are more diverse and because you have so many ethnicities and cultures together, it’s more inclusive. sure there are still clashes, but i’m not being stared at like i was when i drove through middle america in my 20s.

because i’ve lived in these “melting pot” cities, it is even more jarring when something racist happens to me because i’m reminded that i’m “other” and don’t belong. i’ve grown accustomed to being relatively comfortable and accepted.

i think this is why when i was just walking on the sidewalk and i had the glass bottle thrown at me, i was surprised and brushed it off as an odd accident only to go home and jump through the cycle of realization that i was actually targeted. this was even more jarring to me because this was the first time i’ve been in downtown la since i’ve moved back to california and i had been nostalgic. i used to work on spring st years ago and had grown to feel a certain amount of affection for the neighborhood despite its problems. it was jarring because it felt like that nostalgia was unwelcomed and returned with hostility. when i got home, it felt like a strange processing of emotions—anger that i only realized now that it was thrown on purpose and anger that i didn’t find who did it so i can discern if it was a hate crime or someone with mental health issues. i was angry and felt like i let myself down by not defending myself because i only realized too late that it was intentional.

mental health, drug addiction, and poverty need to be addressed in america

i know downtown la is shady and it’s only gotten worse during covid. in addition to the glass bottle throwing incident, i was cat called incessantly during my short walk. now, given the area and the fact that i was unable to see who threw the bottle, i’m still unsure if it was thrown because of i am asian or because whoever threw it was not all there mentally.

where is this hate coming from? i can see people who have suffered being angry about their position by responding with hate. regardless if the bottle was thrown out of racism, would this hate be as strong if society had the support systems in place to help those who are suffering so that they don’t displace their hate on others?

i mean, don’t get me wrong—i’m not making excuses for racist behavior. i hate the hell out of people who do shit like this but also i think in order to have a long term change, we need to examine why and the origin of this hate.

additionally, if the bottle was thrown by someone not due to my race but because they’re mentally ill or inebriated, why are they not getting the help that they need? why is downtown la filled with tents and suffering?

i’m fine but angry

i don’t like playing the guessing game of “was it racism or was it poverty/mental illness/addiction?” both indicate a failure within society.

with the rising hate crimes against asians, i hate being triggered like this even if it was not a racist hate crime. and if it was the latter—poverty/mental illness/addiction, it doesn’t lessen how terrible the disparities of wealth and social support available in america are.

luckily the glass bottle didn’t hit my head. it smacked the back of my hand forcefully and shattered on the ground. if i had been able to find parking outside the vet, i would’ve just waited in my car since it was curbside dropoff/pickup only anyway.

i’m angry and frustrated that i had this negative experience but can’t even have closure or clarity on what the experience was—was it racism? was it mental illness or homelessness in la? i’m frustrated that i’m even still thinking about this right now.

i’m not traumatized from this experience since it’s just another drop in the bucket to what’s happened to me and others already. when i was in high school and crossing the street to the mall, some people shouted out of a car “go back home, gook” which honestly, on brand for them to misidentify my ethnicity with a racial slur. i’ve had my hair spit on while boarding a bus in brooklyn—although that incident is similar to this one where i’m not sure if it was due to my race, if i looked like a gentrifier, or if the person was just mentally ill. this is all to say that i’m fine but all these collective experiences have made me really angry. i want to be able to defend myself when attacked verbally and physically but many of these instances i never got a chance to do so. so in addition to the anger, i sit with the guilt of not responding fast enough or processing what even happened until much later.

i wanted to share this not to gain pity or attention but to explain all the complicated emotions that go through experiencing something like this and where i think we need to go to make long term progress.

a friggin update

it is now 11:14pm as i start writing this post because i’m a huge procrastinator. during winter break, i made a to-do list which included updating this blog that i’ve forsaken for more than a year but can you really blame me considering the current events?

let’s see, a succinct bulleted list in approximate chronological order seems most apt. also cell phone pics sprinkled in because i’m too lazy to look through photos from my real camera.


  • breakup but had wonderful friends/coworkers who put this on my desk the next day
  • found this while eating breakfast and laughed
  • finished invisalign aka mouth prison
  • learned sql
  • learned how to top rope and joined a rock climbing gym
  • went on a road trip around utah and saw bryce canyon, arches, zion national park
  • last broadcast of our radio show as we close down the studio. we started in 2014 and went through 3 studios during this time in brooklyn.
  • started new job at tumblr
  • met one of my favorite authors, augusten burroughs at his reading/book signing for toil & trouble
  • saw moulin rouge on broadway with my mom
  • photographed bloc party at central park centerstage
  • another breakup lmao
  • bought canon 5d mark iv


  • met someone i thought i was gonna spend my life with
  • planned greece trip with best friends (lol cancelled)
  • scheduled a tattoo (lol cancelled)
  • got covid in march before the virus became a pandemic and recovered
  • put together a covid playlist and writeup for brooklynvegan
  • actually rode my bike around manhattan and brooklyn
  • finally made my patio nice with furnishings
  • bought a violin
  • broke up 🙃
  • finally finished dental work including bone graft and implant
  • burned my hand badly making tea like an idiot. you can see it in this video on my cat’s tumblr.
  • finished journal (march 2014 – july 2020) and started on third volume.
  • fostered a kitten and treated him for ringworm. ❤ humphrey found a good home.
  • bought a house (wtf)
  • moved back to la after 7 years in new york
  • became completely obsessed with BTS
  • started learning korean

i’d be lying if i said life feels normal. i’m infinitely grateful for the privileges i’ve had during this last year; i have been incredibly fortunate compared to many.

i think one of the reasons i haven’t posted much here is that i feel overwhelmed. each one of those bullet points could be a post in itself but i need to go to sleep now.

Tales of a plant hoarder: my new plant acquisitions

This is a tale of plant murder, heartbreak and moving on. My plant tally is up to 30 in my tiny ass apartment and I swore I would stop buying more because I don’t want to become some crazed plant lady—but let’s be real—it’s mostly because I’m running out of space. However, as a creature of self-enablement, when I discovered I killed my pin stripe calathea (RIP, I loved you for two years), I gave myself permission to indulge. Behold, derp faced Wei with one of the new plants.


Yes, perhaps this was #toosoon in the plant grieving process and perhaps my sorrow drove me to “just check out” some shops I hadn’t visited in a while. MAYBE THESE WERE REBOUND PLANT PURCHASES BUT I’D LIKE TO THINK NOT.

As if the murder of my calathea wasn’t enough, I suffered from another heartbreak this week. The rare mini monstera (Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma) that I ordered from Thailand came in this state.

It simply took too long to get through customs and make it here. :/ I’m still hopeful I might be able to save parts of it but alas, *cue “Quit Playin’ Games with my Heart” by Backstreet Boys.* Such is the risk though when smuggling plants in illegally.

Reeling from my plant despair, I went to to Tula in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. They have a great selection of rare plants at their airy warehouse location (I’ve been to their pop-ups and truck before which are also stellar). I had to tear myself away from getting the rarer $100+ plants while hoping to find a mini monstera.

Ultimately, I was drawn to this $25 Fernleaf Cactus (Selenicereus Chrysocardium) for its elegant, unique look. I’ve placed it temporarily here on the shelf above my bed but I’ll need to repot it.


Next, I strolled to Greenery Unlimited (also in Greenpoint) but wasn’t too tempted by anything. Well…I was looking at a $40 hanging Philodendron Brazil to replace my long dead pitcher plant (THEY ARE FREAKIN’ HARD. They require distilled water, always moist and frequently sprayed due to their natural jungle/swamp/humid environment) but didn’t want to pay that much.

I thought that was the end of my plant excursion. I had walked past Peter Pan Donuts earlier and well, I fuckin’ love donuts—right up there with burritos and plants. I made sure to walk past it again since the L is a nightmare and I had to walk to the Lorimer Street Station anyway. I got two donuts, wolfed down one with my iced coffee and continued my journey back home. Then I walked past Screamer’s Pizzeria, did a double take and proceeded to self-enable again with a delicious slice (WHAT?! I ONLY ATE 1 OF THE 2 DONUTS. IT’S OK TO GET A SLICE OF PIZZA). I freakin’ swear to gawd, vegan pizza sounds whack but this place is amazing.

I walked past Xi’an Famous Noodles and ok, give me points for self control. I did NOT stop in (but ok, maybe I already had it a few days before).

Wow, getting off track. Anyway, on my way home with apparently an insatiable appetite, I passed by Soft Opening plant shop and decided to drop in—perhaps cos my brain immediately thought of soft serve and short-circuited. I’m glad I did though because unbeknownst to me, I was on a cactus kick. I got another plant in the same family as the Fernleaf Cactus. This lil Fishbone Cactus (Selenicereus Anthonyanus) with a mystery plant thing (I forgot the name—help me if you know) was already potted for $25!

Nearly to the subway stop, I passed by one of my favorite plant stores in NYC, Crest Hardware. I love this place so much. I found this adorable $8 Philodendron Brazil which was perfect cos I didn’t need the bigger $40 one I had seen earlier in Greenpoint. I dig the coloration of neon leaves. Here it is in a pot I already had (RIP, previous plant that lived in that pot).


So yeah, perhaps I went on a plant spree out of disappointment. I’ll do what I can to not kill them—starting with avoiding pots without drainage despite putting rocks on the bottom. And hey, at least these new acquisitions weren’t smuggled into the country illegally.

My mental health journey: medication and seeking help

Welp, I can’t sleep so what better time to write this post than now?


I’m fairly hesitant about writing on mental health since as I get older, the more wary I am about what I post online. I don’t want potential employers, peers, love interests (oh la laaaaa), etc to develop pre-conceived notions of me. I guess I’m writing this on the chance that it helps someone with similar struggles. These are things I wish I could’ve told myself earlier. Obligatory disclaimer, this is just my mental health journey and by no means a definitive guide cos lol I did not go to med school plz don’t sue me.

Don’t judge yourself for seeking help

I brushed off seeking help for years. As a very analytical, solution focused person, I figured that since I knew the causes of my discontent, I was capable of solving them myself and didn’t need help. I would also compare myself to others and think, “It’s not that bad. You just have to change this or accomplish this and then you’ll be happy.” There are a couple of issues with this approach. Of course it can always get worse. Of course compared to some other people, your life isn’t that bad but if you’re feeling a particular way, it’s valid. Judging yourself for feeling a certain way doesn’t solve anything. Secondly, seeking professional help should not be the last resort. Why wait until things are “bad enough” to seek help? Why make things harder than they need to be? Why wait until the house is burning down to start putting out the fire? It makes no sense. You don’t need to do it alone. You don’t need to feel guilty, self-indulgent, or weak for seeking help. You also don’t need to have a disorder to warrant seeking help—everyone can benefit with some perspective and skills for dealing with difficult situations. Self diagnosis or thinking you can solve your problems alone is often inaccurate. I discover things during therapy that would seem like common sense to most people but I never realized on my own.

Acknowledge the physical validity of mental health

Without getting into details, I’ve struggled with mental health most of my life. As a first generation immigrant, I’ve been in fight mode from an early age to overcome hurdles and succeed. Throughout adulthood, I’ve had to push through tribulations in succession. As a result, it’s very difficult for me to not fixate on the worst case scenarios (hello, catastrophizing) and turn off survival mode. Because I was able to pinpoint specific causes of my frazzled mental state, I denied that there were chemical causes to my mental health. It was only when I had “accomplished” and “fixed” my problems but was still crying everyday that I started to accept there may be chemical imbalances that contributed to my continued depression.

What I’m getting at is that mental health is physical as well. It’s complex and there are many contributors (trauma, genetics, environmental factors) but if you have a chemical imbalance, that is an actual physical thing. I resisted taking medication for the longest time because I thought my problems were cognitive or situational but you have to accept that sometimes there really is a physical issue. If you had other illnesses that were treatable with medication, why would you resist so much? Would you tell a diabetic to refrain from insulin shots? If you had a physical issue like not being able to see far away, would you go through life stumbling into things or would you get a freakin’ pair of glasses or contact lenses? If you’re sinking into an abyss for no reason and your neurotransmitters are strugglin’, help ’em out, ok? The way my psychiatrist explained it, medication and therapy go hand in hand. Imagine a water faucet with two handles—one representing medication and the other representing therapy. As you gradually re-wire your brain/behavior through therapy, you can start to turn down the other handle and vice versa. It’s a balance.

I’m not saying that medication is a cure all, but in my particular case, being medicated allowed me to feel “normal” for the first time in my life. Nothing else in my life had changed other than taking medication but my life was completely different because of it. With that said, don’t get discouraged if one medication doesn’t work out. If one pair of shoes don’t fit, it doesn’t make sense to swear off all shoes forever and let rocks cut up your feet. Sure, there were some drawbacks (dosage initially too high so I was falling asleep during the day) but it has improved my quality of life significantly.

I really wish I had sought professional help earlier and accepted the physical validity of mental health which brings me to the next item…

Prioritize your sanity

Don’t put off seeking help until you’re in full meltdown mode. Don’t tell yourself “It’s not that bad yet” or “I can’t afford therapy.” It’ll be harder to dig yourself out at that point and therapy can be more affordable than you think—many doctors take insurance and there are affordable options a Google search away.

It’s not fun to go through your insurance list, research, and call up a bunch of doctors especially when you’re already feeling overwhelmed but I promise you, you really just have to do it once and then you’ve gotten it over with.

Set aside one night after work to make the list and spend half an hour the next day during your lunch calling up places. You can even use apps like ZocDoc sometimes for scheduling appointments with zero to little fuss. If you really can’t handle it, tell a friend or family member and get them to help. I got to a point in high school when I was worried that I’d try to kill myself again. As much as I hated asking my parents for help and despite their cultural lack of exposure—and really, stigma against mental health (Asian cultures aren’t really the “let’s talk about our feelings” type), they recognized my plea and got me the medical attention I needed. If you can’t seek help yourself, it’s important to let your loved ones know.

Mental health is important and someone loves you even when you may not love yourself.

How to diagnose and save a dying plant

As someone that has murdered many plants, I shall impart my accidental wisdom. May you learn from my failures, my internet friends and foes. Or don’t, if you relish in being a serial plant murderer. I don’t know your life.

Like any potential murder, let’s start with an ~ investigation ~



Just go ahead and stick your finger in there—at least 2 or 3 inches into the soil. Feel if the soil is dry or wet. As someone that gets fancy manicures and grew up in an azn household, plz trust me when I say I freaking hate getting dirt under my fingernails but you just have to do it, ok? You want that $60 monstera you carried all the way back from Chinatown on the train and lugged up 4 flights of stairs to die? Just stick your finger in that soil.

OR top lazy tip—get a soil meter. If you truly hate gauging the moisture level with your fingers (lol hai it me), this nifty thing comes in handy. Also, it measures light and pH levels—without even requiring batteries. WOW IZ SCIENCE.


In terms of soil moisture, consider the humidity in your space. If the plant is near a heater that runs most of winter, of course the soil is going to dry out. Try to avoid placing the plant near the heater/ac but if you must, keep the humidity in mind.

Are there tiny mites in your soil or plant leaves? O NOES you have an infestation (likely spider mites). This is why I recommend always keeping new plants away from old ones for a while in quarantine to make sure that any potential bugs don’t spread. There are a whole slew of sprays available—neem oil is a great organic solution. For a particularly bad infestation, I’d recommend getting rid of the dirt completely, washing the plant, roots, and pot in a water and soap solution and repotting with new soil.

Wtf, why is there a mushroom growing in the soil? There’s your cue to stop watering so gawd damn much. Fungus grows from moisture. You’re doing it wrong.


O NOES IS THE SOIL SUPER WET even though you didn’t water it recently? I am very sorry to break it to you but more often than not, your plant has root rot.

What is root rot? Basically, it means you loved your plant too much and overwatered it to the point where the roots are mushy and can no longer absorb nutrients properly. Imagine what happens to your skin after sitting in the bath tub for a long time—not a good look, right? Or, another possible cause is that the pot that you have the plant in has poor drainage and the roots are sitting in water. Always get a pot with a hole on the bottom or make sure you have rocks on the bottom of a pot that doesn’t have drainage so that the water can seep through. You can find out definitively if you have root rot by taking the plant out of its pot to examine the roots. There’s not a lot you can do to recover from this but in the past, I’ve been able to save some plants by cutting the roots off completely and starting over again with propagation (more on that in a future post cos I am lazy, sarz). I would say that most of my plant fails have been due to overwatering/root rot.

Another possibility is that the roots have wrapped around the pot—it’s time to repot it in a bigger container.



Are there dry, crispy, brown spots on the leaves? Are the leaves curling inward? Chances are you’re not watering the plant enough. I find that most plants need a good watering once a week and you’re set. Another cause is the light level—double check the recommended light exposure for your plant. It may be crisping because it’s not supposed to be in such strong, direct sunlight.

However, if your leaves are yellow, dude chill out. Now, the leaves can be yellow from either underwatering or overwatering but in my experience, it’s usually from overwatering. Again, repeat the first step of the investigation and check the soil.

Droopy leaves? You’re likely underwatering but this also may be related to the temperature or lack of light. I’ve noticed that my tropical plants (monstera) tend to get a bit droopy in the cold winters next to a window but once the weather gets warmer, it perks right up again.

Is there anything I’ve missed? Is your plant still dying? Sorry I have failed you with this post based on my personal failures. :’)


Best plant stores in NYC according to Wei

It started 5 years ago. I moved to the concrete jungle from LA and something snapped in my head where I couldn’t stop purchasing (and killing) plants. Suffice to say, I’ve been to a lot of plant stores and nurseries in NYC.

If I’ve sent you this link it is because you are my friend and I am overjoyed to help you and maybe live vicariously through your plant purchases because my tiny ass apartment cannot fit any more plants for the love of gawd. Also, if you’re reading this and you’re my friend I am sorry I started this blog idk I am lazy ok and don’t feel like typing this out every time don’t @ me ok?




This is my #1 spot, y’all. Excellent selection and the best part? IT’S CHEAP. Chinatown is where it’s at. They’ve got fiddle leaf figs, monsteras and all that Instagram shit without the trendy price tag. It’s family owned which is pretty cute cos sometimes the grandma is there. I took all these photos during the winter so it doesn’t really do their outdoor area any justice. Usually the sidewalk is spilling over with more plants. Plus, they repot and deliver plants!



Huge selection of plants in their greenhouse plus they have a big outdoor section. It is quite overwhelming in a good way walking through. Reasonable prices and I’ve been able to find rare plants here without an extreme mark up. This is also a great spot to find affordable gardening accessories, soil, auto watering spikes for soil, and plant pots. Make sure to say hai to the store parrot.



Curated, stylish, and so freakin cute. Under the direction of Satoshi Kawamoto (who has a few other locations in Tokyo), this charming spot has an unique selection of rare plants. It is a slightly pricier (hey, it’s not Chinatown or a hardware store) but the service is always so friendly and helpful. Plus, they have a clothing boutique in the back of the store!



This is up the street from my #1 spot and honestly, this family owned place has the best selection of affordable, simple plant pots in the back of the store. They also have a good selection of plants and will repot them for you when you purchase them if you don’t want to deal with the hassle. I bought a giant bird of paradise palm here and they even helped me carry it into a cab.


The Sill – on the pricier side but very helpful/knowledgeable staff. Plus, you can purchase already potted plants which is a perk if you don’t want to repot plants yourself or find a pot separately!

Sprout – are you rich? If so, definitely go crazy here.


Very overpriced plants but their selection is excellent and they have beautiful plant pots, stands, and accessories. I love going to this place but my wallet weeps afterwards. PREMIUM PRICE TAGS, OK. However, sometimes you can find a good deal on smaller plant pots.

Home Depot – you’d be surprised at the cheap finds here—especially if you’re looking for a big palm or Dracaena.

IKEA – same. I found medium sized Fiddle Leaf Figs at the Red Hook location for around $20-$30 I believe. They got snatched up pretty quickly though.

Natty Garden – I haven’t been here in a while since it’s out of the way for me but I hear that it’s great. If you leave near Crown Heights, Brooklyn, check it out and let me know or like invite me with you, idk.