Tokyo, Japan Photo Diary

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Looking back, it is unbelievable remembering that I was in Tokyo back in March. It’s August. And somehow, time escaped me in the Spring. When I look back, it was a flurry of applying for jobs, studying for grad school and working like crazy at my favorite coffee shop. I felt short of many things – relationships, hobbies (i.e. this here blog) – and as I transition into “adult” life, I’m doing my best to preserve the parts of me that exist outside of an office setting, that continue to push me to grow and learn.

I find that each time I edit a picture, I get this indescribable excitement. Or when I put pen to paper to write copy, I get this motivation to choose words or stories that are uniquely my own.

Coupled with my love for this space, I question putting parts of myself out into its black hole. It’s a common human condition to wonder what people think of you. In this day and age, my name – and this URL – are easily discoverable with a simple, inquiring Google search. I find it a little unnerving to think that all that this is – developed some place and time in the quiet of my bedroom – can impart some notion about me or my capabilities.

Needless to say, I am intending to return to this blog with more frequency and more content. If you follow along (whoever you are), let’s do this thing – again. And for now, enjoy the beauty that is Tokyo, Japan.

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Kyoto, Japan

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Kyoto, Japan was our favorite city that we visited. Situated in the South of Japan, it was warmer in Kyoto than Tokyo and Hakone, which made for some beautiful cherry blossom watching. There is something so simple about cherry blossoms. Yet, something remarkably compelling that draws you to each tree, bloom by bloom. We missed the full blooms by less than 5 days but finding a blossoming tree amongst those that had yet blossomed brought so much joy. The sheer amount of photos that I collected is evidence enough.

Kyoto is characterized by its old city charm, in great contrast to the modernization of Tokyo. While buses are the main method of public transportation, walking is another great way to see the city and travel to the path of shrines that are located on one side of the city. Other important spots like Arashiyama and the Golden Pavilion are easily accessible by bus. Biking was also an important method of transportation as well. During cherry blossom season, tourism is huge and I definitely preferred quieter scenes to the hustle and bustle of the shrines. We went to Arabica Coffee right when it opened one morning and in the afternoon on another day. As a fan of coffee culture, I enjoyed sitting alone in the shop, no line or chatter first thing in the morning. Thank you jetlag!

And now, I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Japan Trip

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Hi blog! It’s me, an old friend who seems to have lost your number for a few months. Life is busy around here. As I tell my Dad, I need to “figure out my life.” And he promptly replies, you can never “figure out your life.” In my head, I know he is right. This was a general theme of our conversations whilst traveling in Japan. I would talk, Dad would listen and I would realize that Dad is generally a wise guy. It’s a pattern.

Cherry blossoms! And spring in Japan! These are just the beginnings of the massive amount of photos that I accumulated from my Japan trip. I promise (pinky promise, really) to update and curate little guides in the next week or so. See you soon! Aren’t these cherry blossoms magnificent?

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Stony Island Arts Bank

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For the past 3 and 1/2 years, I spent any free moment anywhere besides Hyde Park. Going downtown to coffee shops, restaurants and museums was my escape from the stress that I equated with staying. This year, I noticed a remarkable shift in how I spent my time. Currently, weekends are like rituals that I take slowly and calmly, easing into each moment and savoring the calm and quiet. With this mentality, I tend to stay back in Hyde Park on weekends (with the exception of weekend meals). Lately, I am drawn to finding the gems in Hyde Park and the South Side. The Stony Island Arts Bank is one of them.

Chicago artist Theaster Gates saved this empty and dilapidated 1920s bank from the City of Chicago for $1. Following community donations and its refurbishment, Theaster converted the bank into a space for contemporary art and cultural revival. The bank’s walls are flooded with the cleanest light contrasting with the sharp colors of its books. The bank’s character remains in the columned entryway that (during our visit) was undergoing construction. It is such a beautiful find that made me a little bit upset about lacking a full frame camera. For me, that’s when I know something is truly out of the ordinary.

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El Matador Beach in Malibu

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Recently, it has come to my understanding that idleness is not a past time that I actively enjoy. And with a lengthy amount of Christmas break, we were determined to explore our native California and venture up to El Matador Beach in Malibu. As a born-and-bred East Coaster, with nostalgia comes the strong scent of salty Cape Cod beaches and chilly falls with a box of Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins. California warmth and consistent sunshine does not breed that within me.

Yet, exploring the coast or, rather, driving up the PCH, leads me to believe that a certain type of nostalgia exists for the nooks and crannies that I have yet to see in California. Soon enough, let’s make the adventure up North and see what lies ahead. I think a lot about potential open roads and leafy trees and knit sweaters that make up for cooler temperatures. There is an uncertainty about how much time remains wandering around these parts – and there’s an excitement and anxiety about that there feeling.

I hope your holidays were filled with much more life and laughter than that of my flu-ridden family and I. We can only reflect and laugh at our complete incapability of movement or activity of any sorts. I am hoping that this winter will see a change of pace and a increased presence back around these parts. I almost forgot how much I love doing what I do.

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Apple Picking in Chicago

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 It is November! Can you hardly believe it? While time seems to be passing in the blink of eye, I have happily accomplished many of my seasonal activities such as apple picking in Chicago, visiting a haunted house and baking an assortment of pumpkin items. When it comes to fall, “basic” is the proper term to describe my love for its burnt red and yellow warmth, flustered cheeks and crisp air.

I was sitting in the library today, looking up at the stained-glass windows of Harper Reading Room. Staring and realizing that this was my last fall looking at those windows in that light, my last year of being educated after nearly 16 years of formal education – with teachers and books and class. Student is my identifier. Summer break always met with a sadness to leave for summer and idleness. And for a moment today, I felt a palpable heartbreak at it all ending.

It’s been some time since I’ve shared and created for this space. I love and miss doing it with frequency. Pardon the pause – this fall has been busy. I became a coffee barista (what?!) and spend most of my time daydreaming and planning for next year. Learning to balance it all is a skill that I have yet to master. Yet, I am hoping that these pauses will become less frequent in the coming weeks. So feel free to stick around!


A Big Project

A long, long break from this space recently. In the midst of beginning my final year of college, I began a big project intended to target potential new members for my sorority chapter. From my experience, a sorority (especially at the University of Chicago) is far from frivolous. It is not about sparkles or glitter or constant smiles. It is about support and inspiration and growth. It exceeded all of my expectations in the best of ways.

While this particular project required nearly 20 hours of editing, I enjoyed creating the most authentic and real representation of our chapter. In a professional context, this video highlights the ability to target one’s audience. It establishes a clear brand for our chapter that persuades potential members of our brand truth. In a few words, I would define it as: genuine, heartwarming and interesting. In the words of one PNM at recruitment, “it looks like fun!” Put simply – that’s because it is.

The video was shot on my Canon Rebel T3i and GoPro4. Using this footage, I edited the video using Adobe Premiere Pro.

Dumbo, Brooklyn

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A year ago, I was beginning to plan and pack for my time abroad. Three years ago, I was barely asleep with rattled nerves as I prepared to move into my first and only college dorms. And there are days when I wish I could go back to that time and those places, breathe in the windy Parisian air and hear the tram speak in its adorable french way. And begin again where no one knows your name and there is a freedom in those first impressions. And then there are days when I remember how much I missed the convenience of home, of having a comfortable bed, of buying your own groceries, of sitting at the dinner table with two funny brothers. I remember the pain of that first quarter of college. I remember the feeling of lonely capability wandering Parisian streets. In the past four years, I feel like the term “home” has become more relative not to a particular place or to particular people but rather to a particular feeling.

Lately, I have been tinkering with the idea of where my next home will be. This specific trip to Dumbo, Brooklyn was an experiment of sorts. And as I now sit in my Chicago apartment, preparing for my final first day of school, I have the distinct feeling that this year will be my last in this city. Or it won’t. Oh, but it sure is fun let your mine wander and imagine – even though life is far from predictable.

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Central Park

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A few weeks ago, I ventured to the East Coast for some catch up time with family and a specific friend. A lot of our days were spent walking and talking – on this saturday, we spent an entire day venturing around Central Park. After intentions to visit the Guggenheim, we realized that neither were particularly keen on spending the hefty asking price for a ticket. Instead, we grabbed some caffeine at Bluestone Lane Collective (while gauking at what might be the world’s best looking avocado toast) and headed to Central Park.

We sat along the Reservoir as those around us attempted one too many selfies. We listened to a performer’s authentic rendition of “All of Me” while a newly married couple danced for their wedding pictures. We intended to rent rowboats for a romantic girl date but instead found the line too long for our liking. We then settled in Sheep’s Meadow where we watched acrobatics practice. We saw so much in one place without paying a dime. New York, I like you. I like you a lot. Shoutout to my favorite girl for letting me kale salad our way through NYC (while eating a pound of Sockerbit gummies)!

Balance my friends, balance.

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