Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tokyo Flashbacks


I love living in California, I really do. But sometimes I have flashbacks to life in Tokyo and I get a little nostalgic. There are many things that are special about that city that San Francisco just can't match. Sometimes I miss it pretty profoundly.

I miss wearing a suit and walking between skyscrapers. It made me feel like a somebody.

I miss slurping down a bowl of noodles for lunch when I was in a rush. It's amazing how something so simple and quick can be so satisfying.

I miss making my way out of crowded subway stations. It made me feel like I was part of the hustle and bustle.

I miss looking out across Tokyo through floor-to-ceiling windows from my desk on the 32nd floor. It made me feel powerful.

I miss knocking back Asahis over izakaya food and talking with friends. Those were some of my most relaxed moments.

I miss getting lost in the city's back streets. It made me feel like I was always on an adventure and discovering new things.

I miss walking out onto neon-lined streets at night. It made me feel like I was surrounded by the city's energy.

And that's just the start of it.

Last weekend, I had one of those moments of nostalgia. With nasty weather limiting my options for going out, I decided to do my best to recreate bits of Tokyo in my own house.

There was a little soba place right by my office that made awesome soba. It was a little hole-in-the-wall shop in the basement of a building with nothing else nearby, but people would still line up for it every day. My favorite thing to get their was tanuki soba. I made my own tsuyu from scratch and took a shot at recreating it. My version wasn't nearly as good, but it still put a smile on my face.

I drank a lot of beer when I lived over there. I really mean a lot. I don't really like beer that much, but Asahi Super Dry has a taste that I love. I could drink it like water. Even though Trader Joe's carries it, I still don't have it very often here but every time I do it brings back a wave of memories and emotions. I picked up one of their large bottles and knocked it back. It was somehow very comforting and made me think I should have it more.

I don't regret my decision to leave Tokyo - it was what I needed to do at that moment in time. It's easy to only remember the good parts and overlook the bad (of which their were plenty). I think San Francisco is the right place for me to be and I'm happy with my choice to come here, but Tokyo will always hold a special place in my heart. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. I just need to sort out the right way to keep it a part of my life back here.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Adventures Close to Home

Just thought I'd share a few shots from a quick hike up Twin Peaks for sunset and a weekend trip up the coast to Westport. California really is a magical place....

Twin Peaks
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Westport, CA
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Friday, February 21, 2014

[ 52 /52 ]

Week Fifty-Two: Just For A Moment
Week 52

Finally, the last picture of my 52 Weeks Project! I think there is something about the impermanence of a snowflake that makes it a great closing shot. All I try to do with my pictures is capture something special in a moment. This snowflake didn't last long after this shot, but in that moment it was beautiful.

I'm really proud of this project and the work I've done for it. Some weeks were harder than others, some pictures more inspired, but for an entire year I captured a piece of my world every single week and I am a  better photographer for it. I learned how much I love color. I discovered macro shots. I found out how long of a way to go I have when it comes to portraits, but also that I am able to make really powerful ones when I get it right. I took pictures of things I'd never shot (or even thought to shoot) before. I learned how to see beauty in the world around me.

I've decided not to do the project again in 2014 however. I want to see if I can continue to find the drive to capture beautiful shots without the requirement of the project. I want to challenge myself to see if I can internalize what I've learned over the past year without the external burden of a weekly deadline. My goal is to continue posting pictures from my life to this blog as I take them instead of on a set timeline. I'm excited to see what it yields.

For those who follow my posts, I hope I've created something that you enjoyed. I hope something I shot made you feel something. I hope I inspired you to pick up your own camera.

The complete collection of photos from the project can be found here on my flickr page.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

[ 51 / 52 ]

Week Fifty-One: A Sleepy Old Man
Week 51

I know this is my second cat picture for this project, but it's special enough that I'm ok with it. You see, today is the 18th birthday of Peaches, the family cat, and I feel like he deserves a shout out. Purina's website says that is the equivalent of turning 88 in human years, which makes him quite the old man. I love the little guy like crazy and he is every bit as much a part of the family as my sister and I.

I took this picture while I was back home for the holidays. He isn't the high-energy troublemaker he used to be and spends a lot more of his time napping around the house these days. That doesn't mean he won't give you an earful if he wants something, of course!

Happy birthday, little guy. I hope you'll be around for many more years to come.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Argentina - Iguazu

Paid a premium to stay at the Sheraton, which gives far better access to the park, definitely the right call. Very impressive waterfalls, though not quite on the same level as Patagonia for me. Didn't go to the Brazil side, but the Argentine side clearly had the better up-close views. Wouldn't sacrifice other destinations to see it, but still very cool if you've got the time for it.

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Argentina - Mendoza

The city I hopes BA would be. Laid back pace, good food, great wine tours. Definitely recommended.

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Argentina - Bariloche

Pretty place, but not a knock out for me. Downtown is a giant tourist trap best avoided. We stayed in a beautiful airbnb about 15 miles out of town. Didn't do the bike ride myself, but others thought it was great. Good destination if you're look for some peace and quiet, but not a must in my books.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Know Yourself. Live Better.

Today marks exactly one year from when I started wearing my Jawbone Up.

In that time, I have taken more than 3 million steps over nearly 1,600 miles. It doesn't matter weather I'm wearing jeans or a suit, it is always on my wrist. I have tan lines from wearing it all summer. I wouldn't want to go another day without it.

When people ask me about my wristband, I usually start by telling them flat out "It will change your life" and I absolutely mean it. Everyone should be wearing something like it, be it a Jawbone or a Fitbit or a Basis. Just having a quantified expression to make you more aware about your activity and your sleep is unbelievably powerful and will change you. The knowledge alone will improve your life - as Jawbone's slogan for the Up says, "Know Yourself. Live Better." There are few things you can own that will have as great an impact on how you live.

Buy one. Wear it everyday. Become aware. Improve your life. Never look back.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Argentina - El Chalten

Go here. Seriously, this is a must for a trip to Argentina. Phenomenal hikes surrounded by unbelievable natural beauty. Best stop on the trip, hands down.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Argentina - El Calafate

Seeing the Moreno Glacier was something truly special, one of the highlights of the trip for me. Not much going on in the city (super touristy), but it's a good jumping-off point for other places in Patagonia.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Argentina - Buenos Aires

Worth a couple of days at most unless you have local friends to show you around. Lovely tree-lined streets, European architecture. No real "must-see"s, though Recoleta Cemetery is cool and there is an awesome graffiti tour. Unbearably hot and humid in the summer months.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Argentina 2014 - The Plan

"Photography is my memory. I have chosen photography to prove that I exist"

I found this quote from a photographer a while back and it really resonated with me. I had considered writing lengthy posts about each place that I went during my three-week trip to Argentina, but decided I would rather let my photos tell the story instead.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think that is a gross underestimation. Truthfully, I don't think I have the words to do justice to some of the sights I have seen. Though my pictures are not comprehensive enough or of high enough quality to truly encapsulate then whole experience, they certainly do a much better job than I could do in writing.

The plan is to create a post of pictures with minimal captions for each place I went. It might take a while for me to work through all of the shots I've taken to find and process the best ones, but I'll try to get it done as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Loss

My grandma fast passed away last night. She was just a couple weeks away from turning 89. From what I understand, the end came quickly and wasn't painful.

She liked to wear broaches pinned to her jacket and to drink tea. I often thought she fancied herself similar to the queen of england.

She was the first person I travelled overseas with. We spent two weeks touring England and Wales back when I was in high school.

She always made sure ribs were on the menu at least one night whenever I was around. She knew they were my favorite and hers were particularly delicious.

She once cleaned and cooked live fish the we caught off the pier. She had said she would and kept her word, though she clearly expected that they'd show up dead like fish from the supermarket.

She would use words that nobody else knew when we played scrabble or quiddler. We regularly protested, but the dictionary always proved her right.

She was my friend on Facebook and once scolded me for dropping an f-bomb in my status. She also continued to send me handwritten letters despite knowing how to email.

Her life had more wonderful snippets and stories than I could possibly write down. She will be greatly missed.

I haven't seen my grandma in over five years and was planning on going to the cottage next summer just to see how she was doing. I wish I hadn't waited so long. Don't forget to tell the people who matter to you how much you love them every chance that you get.