Water Towers

My newsletter experiment over the last few months has been a lot of fun. If you’re interested, you can sign up anytime here:

https://tinyletter.com/EchoEcho

Here is the poem and sketch from this week’s newsletter:

 

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Water Towers

There’s only enough
power to deliver
water to six floors
in Lower Manhattan.
Taller buildings need
pumps that suck up
water to a spout at
the top of the tank.
Gravity does the rest.
Remember, remember
it’s just artificial pressure.

New York Harbor

I’ve had a lot of fun with my illustrated poetry newsletter, Echo Echo. I just sent out my fifth letter, which you can read below. If you like it, sign up for more here:

https://tinyletter.com/EchoEcho

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New York Harbor

I sit in the lunch room listening
as I look out on the New York harbor.
Colleagues plotting, parents visiting,
small talks, coffee chats, walks for more napkins.

I went to Ellis Island in sixth grade
and I remember vaulted tile ceilings,
filled with cattle lines bustling, processing
each being with chalk, ink, paper, and rods.

The next year the towers fell, and I, a selfish,
oblivious preteen, was sad we wouldn’t
have our eighth grade graduation cruise
in the glittering New York Harbor.

Announcing my newsletter: Echo Echo


Springtime puts me in the mood for new projects. I’ve recently subscribed to some fascinating TinyLetter newsletters and thought I’d join in on the fun. So, every Friday afternoon I will send out a short poem and illustration.

Sign up here:

https://tinyletter.com/EchoEcho

To give you a taste of what’s in store, here’s my inaugural post:

Façades

 
A façade is a face

screwed up that stays

stuck in one way forever.

 
Its makeup cannot

be washed away

at the end of each day.

 
It is tethered in place by

stucco and laws that try to pause

the progress of passing days.

 

 

My Trip to California in 4 Sketches

Over New Years I had a magical trip to California. It was my first trip back since I moved from San Francisco to New York this summer. The trip was busy — a glamorous New Year’s Eve wedding, the Rose Bowl, then back up to SF to see old friends. I’m glad I took a few pauses to commemorate the experience.

1. December 28th, 2015: Castro, SF

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I spent my first morning in SF at Reveille Cafe, working on my screenplay draft while a friend wrote a blog post. This was the incredible view from her apartment where I stayed:

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The view from the front wasn’t bad either:

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2. January 2, 2016, Silver Lake, LA

IMG_5160Luckily for Stanford fans, Christian McCaffrey went off and the Rose Bowl was a blowout. After the game we posted up with a friend in LA who had another amazing view.

3. January 4, 2016: Precita Park, SF

IMG_5161I spent my last day in SF at my favorite park, Precita. It’s a lot mellower than Dolores Park, with great dog and people watching.

4. January 5, 2016: SFO->JFKIMG_5165

On the flight home I watched Working Girl and You’ve Got Mail back-to-back while I knitted a scarf. They’re an interesting double feature, demonstrating how much New York City changed over ten years.

My 10 Favorite Drawings of 2015

After my birthday in July I bought myself a sketchbook. I didn’t expect that I would derive so much (inexpensive) pleasure out of pausing and looking closely. I gave myself permission to mess up and make obvious mistakes and keep going. Here are some of my favorites over the last year.

  1. August Night

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2. Overlooking the Rose Garden

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3. RooftopIMG_4956.JPG

4. Prospect Kite

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5. Forest Walk

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6. Bedford Hill

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7. Cloister Courtyard

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8. New York Skyline

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9. Living Room

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10. Thanksgiving in New OrleansIMG_4967

My 5 Favorite Articles of the Week

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The Internet is a cruel mistress. As the wise Aziz Ansari said, “I read the Internet so much I feel like I’m on page a million of the worst book ever.” But it sure has some wonderful highlights. Here are my favorite things I read this week:

  1. Grantlangst, by Carles.Buzz. There were many obituaries of the late, great Grantland, but this was my favorite: “In a sea of ‘hot takes’ delivered by traditional talking heads, the internet prosumers needed a place for a branded intelligent take. But the audiences in demand of intelligent takes no longer achieve the necessary economies of scale to sell ads against.”
  2. The Grown-Up Styling Tip You Should Forget About, by Rachel Syme. Rachel is an inspiring fashion writer, especially with Iris Apfel as her muse: “Giving yourself the permission to don whatever you desire will keep you excited to wake up the next day and do it all over again; when you turn your closet into a playground, you are prolonging your own life.”
  3. The Deadly History of Women using Perfume as Poison, by Arabelle Sicardi. The story I never knew I needed until I read it: “While invisible scents may seem like the poltergeist of aestheticism, perfume is often the monster, too, leaving bodies behind in the fumes.”
  4. The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield, by Daniel Engber. The long, gripping true story that explores disability, sexuality and consent and left me thinking about it for days: “What made them so upset — what led to all the arguing that followed, and the criminal trial and million-­dollar civil suit — was the fact that Anna can speak and D.J. can’t; that she was a tenured professor of ethics at Rutgers University in Newark and D.J. has been declared by the state to have the mental capacity of a toddler.”
  5. Overcoming the 10 Biggest Obstacles to Creating, by Leo Baubata. A practical, straightforward look at the emotional, challenging reality of avoidance and procrastination: “Every day I struggle with the resistance to writing, and every day I lose the struggle … but then I beat the struggle. I lose more often than I win, but I win every day. And that’s what matters. “

5 Small Steps Toward a Happier Life

 

Cloisters sketch
From a trip I took to the Cloisters a few weeks ago.

 

Life gets frustrating. And sometimes you want to overhaul everything, all at once. But I’ve found through plenty of trial and error that overhauling rarely works. Too much change at once can entrench those unhealthy habits deeper into your life. So I’ve been trying out the reverse: smaller changes I can stick with right away. Here are a few that have made my life better:

  1. Making my bed – I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand the point of this for a while. The most I’d do was throw my comforter back over my sheets. But I’ve realized it can be a great “small win” to start off your day, and resist the temptation to jump back into bed.
  2. Morning Pages – Two years ago I read The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron’s classic creativity book. The first tenet is writing Morning Pages: 30 minutes of freehand, stream-of-consciousness writing. It’s a great way to acknowledge all of your worries, annoyances, and to-dos. Once they’re on paper, I have the necessary distance and objectivity to act on them. They also help me with “real” writing later in the day.
  3. Green tea (and L-Theanine) – Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with caffeine. I love its bitter taste and thrilling boost, but I hate the jittery anxiousness I get when I drink too much. So I’ve started switching to green tea after my first half cup of coffee. Besides the 5mg of caffeine per serving that keeps me from crashing, green tea also contains L-Theanine, an amino acid which induces a relaxed but not drowsy mood. Perfect.
  4. Sketching – I bought a sketchbook in July, and that purchase has brought me a lot of joy. I love the creative outlet of sketching, but also how it keeps my hands busy and my mind clear. Sketching has been a much more satisfying activity than reaching for my phone, and it’s been fun to watch myself improve through practice.
  5. Foam rolling – The latest trend in fitness? Foam rolling, aka myofascial release, aka self massage. If I were a billionaire I’d get a professional massage every day. But since I’m not, I use foam rollers and massage balls to work out my (many) muscle knots. For covering large areas, I like the Grid Foam Roller, which has a pleasantly textured surface. My new favorite purchase are the Yoga Tune Up Balls, which are like mini foam rollers that release trigger points one by one.

The downside of these habits can be the sense of obligation – “oh no, yet another thing I should do.” But if I take a positive stance – “ooh something fun I get to do” – I’m a lot more likely to stick with it. I hope you have a lovely rest of your week!