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“The Big Sea” by Langston Hughes

This is why it’s so important for me to write about things immediately after I experience them, or else I forget why I’m excited to write about something in the first place.

Anyway, I digress.

Ever since the inauguration of the new US president and all the hell that it has unleashed, I’ve been on a mission to read more about the Civil Rights era and to read more about Black history in general. I had purchased Langston Hughes’ The Big Sea years ago on a whim, and it sat on my shelf unperturbed, expecting not to be read like so many other books on my shelf.

But I picked it up at the beginning of last month and what a shame it would have been if I never read this book. I’m not great about writing about books or movies sometimes, because I find that when something gives me the feels, it stresses me out too much to try to do it justice, and so instead I just collapse onto that ball of feels and never attempt to dissect it, heh.

What I’m into: Jan 22 edition

What a freaking depressing week. These are things that I enjoyed/made me cry. It was very, very easy to make me cry this week.

May next week be better.

What I’m into: Jan 16 edition

I always manage to find new post-its I had forgotten I had purchased.
  • Why Anthony Bourdain Loves L.A. In typical New Yorker fashion, I was skeptical of this piece at first when I saw the headline and dek, but it turned out to be a really beautifully articulated piece from a hardcore New Yorker about why he loves L.A. My favorite passage: “As Roy Choi says, the spine, the very underpinnings, of the food here are Latino and Asian. This is not a European city: It’s not built on Irish, Italian, and Eastern European roots, with the French hotel system as a model. It never was. We all sneered at it in the East, because they didn’t have those fine dining Michelin restaurants in the same numbers as we did. We all begrudgingly said, ‘Yeah, their strip malls are awesome, they got all these kooky quote, unquote ethnic places that are kind of great.’ But we didn’t take it seriously.”
  • I’m not Marie Kondo-ing my life, but I am working slowly on getting rid of shit I own. I’ve hoarded a lot of stuff over the years and I want to own less stuff. These days there are moments when I’m overwhelmed by a sudden urge to own less stuff immediately, but as someone who has historically bought and owned a lot of stuff, the process of un-owning shit is a slow one, so I’m trying not to let the anxiety get to me. I’m breaking the process down into little sections to make it more manageable.
  • The Big Sea, Langston Hughes’ autobiography, which I am currently reading.

Bye 2016

Man, I was so bad at “blogging” this year. I feel it in my bones that I’ll get better next year though, I promise 💪🏽

The year is over! I had a great 2016, all things considered. There are things that I wish I could have achieved, but I did a lot of things that felt very fulfilling to me this year. I traveled so much this year. I went to ten different places this year, five of which were places I’ve never been before; I traveled almost every month this year; I took five international trips, three of which were work trips, two of which were personal trips. Traveling is immensely fulfilling and enriching.

Las Vegas, January 2016

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Popped over to Las Vegas the first week in January for CES 2016. Flying over was probably the worst travel experience I’ve ever had. Spirit Airlines is the worst. THE WORST. I try not to complain about travel too much because I always remember this Louis CK bit, but man oh man oh man.

CES was hectic. It was my first time going, and the sheer number of people and things going on all at once was completely overwhelming and stressful. I wish I had more to say about this, because it’s supposed to be the biggest and most impressive electronics show on earth, but I’m just not that huge a tech person, and TVs are TVs. Drones are cool, I guess?

As for Las Vegas itself — this city doesn’t really leave an impression on me. I’ve been one time and six years later it has stayed exactly the same. And maybe I’m not being fair to a city whose main attraction is gambling and one very specific strip of land, but there is a sort of complacency to Vegas, I think. I also do come from New York, where things feel like they’re changing all the time, so my frame of reference is very different and I run at a very different pace.

Wrapping up 2015

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A week from now, we’ll be three days deep into the new year. This year passed by so quickly, blah blah blah, insert typical end-of-year soliloquy-ing. But in the spirit of reflection and self-improvement, I’m going to indulge in a bit of plan-making. A little while ago I read this article from Quartz that stuck with me quite a bit: If you’re 30% through your life, you’re likely 90% through your best relationships.

Not saying this article was life-changing, but it does make me view time differently, particularly the part on how you get to see your parents about a few hundred more times in your life, if you’re a third of the way into a potential 90-year lifespan, and if you’ve already moved away from your parents. The second part that stuck with me was on the number of books left to read: if you average about 5 books a year, you only really will be reading another 300 books or so before you die. Three hundred books is an insanely small number of books, of all the number of books out there.

The post was quite morbid for me. Pessimistic, grumpy, grouchy narratives tend to stick with me a bit more than the optimistic ones, so my brain has been very wrapped around the idea of very few remaining possibilities to do certain things.

The books part has been especially sobering because I have hundreds of books in my room and I keep buying more, but truth be told I’ve been very bad at reading books. And I haven’t been particularly urgent about it either, because I keep thinking, I’m only 26, I’ve got the rest of my life to read books, I promise I’ll get around to it. But the reality is, based on what I’m averaging a year, there aren’t that many books I’ll get to read in this lifetime. And there’s a very still sense of finality in that idea, you know?

And you can extend this beyond books — the number of movies you’ll watch, the number of places you’ll be able to visit, the number of dishes you’ll try. I don’t think I all of a sudden have an urge to read all the books, watch all the movies, try all the restaurants, but it does shake me a little and make me think, “Don’t waste your remaining time doing useless shit.” Don’t go to a mediocre brunch spot for the thousandth time and get Eggs Benedict for the third time this month. Don’t just live vicariously through Instagram. Don’t just add more things to a mental check-list of things to do, buy, or say. Do more, do better. Time is precious.

Grids & stamps

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Way back when I used to have a shit ton of time and alone time, I’d go through magazines, cut stuff out, and create collages. (Pretentious to say art?) I should get back into it.

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Washington, DC, June 2015

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I was down in DC this summer for work, on one of the most hectic assignments I’ve ever been given. I was running between the same couple of federal buildings to cover events — the Department of State, the Department of Treasury, the National Press Building — and it was hot as hell in DC the few days I was down there, and my schedule was uber tight, making it all but impossible for me to do any exploring in DC. I was also getting sick, so, you know. #life

I did get to snap a couple of photos of DC is hella photogenic and has some of the most beautiful buildings. If there’s one city that’s super historical and very #AMERICAN, it’s gotta be DC. In most major cities, if you wanted to get a good feeling of its history, you usually visit downtown and you’ll get a glimpse of the city’s oldest federal buildings. But DC has all those cities beat.

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Beacon, May 2015

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The boy and I went up to Beacon in May. This is a small town outside of New York City, about a one and a half hour drive upstate and easily reachable by Metro North as well. It’s a good place to go if you like nature — took my first hike there! — but it felt pretty small to me. Things close early and it’s really scenic, but didn’t leave too much of an impression.

The food is good though, and the Dia:Beacon is up there as well as Stormking, which are both worth the visit alone.