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.

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.

2019

  • 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

2020

  • 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.