Full circle

Regretfully, these are my last hours in New York. And so, the spirit of my rambling, random thoughts...

I'm sitting quietly in United's "Red Carpet Lounge" that has alluded me for the past two years of having status in their mileage program, wondering as I often do, how I got here... (metaphorically of course.) :)  After a long day of packing, walking, new friends and old friends, I feel like I've felt all the emotions one could possibly feel in a single day.  Sadness and happiness.  Peace and uneasiness.  Loneliness and comfort and love.

Feeling both the regret of leaving and anxiousness to be back home with my family.  I don't feel homesick; in fact, I've never felt homesick.  Not since my internship in New York four years ago, have I considered moving to Manhattan until this past trip.  So much was different about this trip than ones before.  Maybe it's the state of my life now.  Or maybe it's natural growth of age.  Either way, I'm more introspective right now than I ever have, perhaps why I'm so conflicted in all my emotions.

Exactly two weeks ago on an early Wednesday morning (about 2:30am) I was dropped off in Harlem by a man who lived in Queens and loved lobster.  I was his last drop off before he'd head home to his family, but still he waited until my friend buzzed me into the building.  This Wednesday morning (about 2:30am) the same man who lived in Queens and loved lobster picked me up.  If that's not full circle, please tell what is!  When I recognized him, I couldn't believe the odds of getting the same driver.

I've been listening to "My Girl" by Dave Barnes for the past two days.  It's a great departure from listening to "Home" also by Dave Barnes, which was so beautifully poetic and melodic but brought my spirits down with its painfully true insights about love and relationships.  So as I listen to "My Girl" there's a smile plastered across my face.  Dave Barnes' jazz version of this song reminds me of the jazz playing as my friend and I ran into his Brooklyn apartment, escaping from rain, peeling off drenched coats and socks and the coziness I feel as the rain continued to pour and the jazz played. On a different note, I also feel like "I've got all the riches one [woman] can claim".  I couldn't tell you what all those riches were, but I'm certain I have them all.

Easter: I love life because He lives.

Side note: Except Karen, all the Asian people I spent time with in New York were younger than me.  All my white friends were significantly older than me.  I thought that was funny.  Also, those Asians were only girls; those non-Asians... all guys.  Ironic, no?

When I stopped sitting in Economy (on airplanes) I noticed I also stopped sitting around young hot guys.  I wondered where all those strikingly handsome business men I used to see went.  I still don't know why they don't sit around me in the airplane, but they certainly do exist.  They're hiding here in the Red Carpet lounge.  drool.  The food here is great.  My stomach was going crazy on the ride to the airport.  I'm thankful I finally have some breakfast in me.

(The picture above is from a coffee shop in the Mission, Dec. 15, 2010)

Airplanes and Iceland

As I sit here in an airplane, I experience a profound irony. I am watching  Inside Job on my portable media player.  This documentary explores the causes for the most recent recession/depression.  "Ferguson has described the film as being about "the systemic corruption of the United States by the financial services industry and the consequences of that systemic corruption."[4] In five parts the film explores how changes in the policy environment and banking practices helped create the 2008 financial crisis. Inside Job was well received by film critics who praised its pacing, research and explanation of complex material." (Wikipedia) As someone who was laid off in 2008 and is part of an industry with an estimated 70% unemployment rate, with many of those who are employed significantly underpaid, this documentary piques my interests very personally.  My architecture firm in 2008 has two offices and nearly 220 employees.  In its life as a company it had never laid off a single employee, and as the recession began to approach, the company did everything it could to keep the employees.  Unfortunately, mirroring the economy, each of our groups lost their clients, first our development group, then our housing group, then our restaurant group, and finally our retail and big box groups.  Within a short amount of time, my company had to laid off most of their employees and close one of their offices.

Along with most of my colleagues from college, we faced an undetermined length of unemployment.  Most of us have sought out other professions, still holding on to the hope of one day returning to architecture.  So that brings me to Iceland and airplane.  Inside Job suggests that the economic collapse in Iceland was the "straw that broke the camel's back" that began the recession in 2008.  I'm here today, sitting in business class because of that lay off in 2008.  It's deeply ironic that I'm enjoying a luxury of sorts, while I watch a documentary about the reason as to why I'm (f)unemployed.

Either way.... everything ends up as it should.  And I'm grateful for the "closed doors" that opened new opportunities.

(I'm flying somewhere over Michigan on my way to New York)

(I also watched 127 hours. Great movie. Creatively portrayed.)

McNally Jackson

In a tribute to my next trip, I'll be posting pictures/stories from my last trip!  I love New York! McNally Jackson is my favorite bookstore/coffee shop in the NoLita neighborhood.  Close by my favorite store, Uniqlo, the Rainbow Sandal store and the famous Cafe Habana!

Aside from the wonderful selection of books and stationary, I love the food and drinks here.  Most people in true New York tradition are quiet and stick to themselves.  Over the past five years of New York visits this coffee shop has evolved, and I must say, I love its most recent iteration with hanging books, manuscripts on the walls and industrial desks/lighting. I love it.

Introduction of a Stranger

Made a few connections with vendors at the San Francisco Renegade Craft Show at Fort Mason! I even got a client from the fair!

Robert's partner of Mahar Drygoods, vintage & artisan crafted curiosities for children.... wearing a birthday sash David of Super Module letterpress goods

Derek of Bound in Circles creating gorgeous hand-bound, eco-friendly journals

The Long Lost

I am tremendously proud of my heritage and culture. Knowing that my family had to start from scratch when they moved to the states, I've become so proud of everything they've overcome and accomplished to make a great life for me.  I love to boast about all the things they've done.  My great grandfather who was the first to come to the states in the early, early 1900s and gained his citizenship as a result of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.  My family who is from Chicago and Detroit.  My mother who was born in Mississippi.  My grandfather who was in the Army.  My father who fought in the Vietnam War.  My aging grandmother who volunteers and helps the elderly.  My grandfather who was born on the day of the Harvest Moon (when the moon is red and huge in the autumn).  My great uncle who made House of Tsang Sauce.  And my great uncle, Dong Kingman, who was a famous watercolorist.

Over the years, my sister, Meredith, has searched for his books and publications, many of which are out of print.  I have always been anxious to see his painting in person.  I researched to find some his paintings but never could find them locally.  When my friend visited in September, he suggested we explore the MoMA in San Francisco.  I walked up the stairs to the first level of galleries and immediately spotted Dong Kingman's painting amongst all the other artwork.  I nearly screamed when I saw it.  After all the years of becoming familiar with his work, I was sooooo excited to finally see his work in person.  This was my relative!  woot.

(Below is his painting on display at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco)

This is what Wikipedia has to say about him

Dong Kingman was a Chinese American artist and one of America's leading watercolor masters. As a painter on the forefront of the California Style School of painting, he was known for his urban and landscape paintings as well as his graphic design work in the Hollywood film industry. He has won widespread critical acclaim and his works are included in over 50 public and private collections worldwide, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Brooklyn Museum; deYoung Museum and Art Institute, Chicago.

During the 1950s, Kingman served as a United States cultural ambassador and international lecturer for the Department of State. In the 1950s and 60's, Kingman worked as an illustrator in the film industry, designing the backgrounds for a number of major motion pictures including "55 Days at Peking" , The Sand Pebbles and the Hollywood adaptation of "Flower Drum Song". Over 300 of his film-related works are permanently housed at the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciencesin Beverly Hills, California.

In 1981, Kingman made history as the first American artist to be featured in a solo exhibition following the resumption of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China when the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China hosted a critically acclaimed exhibition that drew over 100,000 people.

p.s. If you were wondering why his name isn't Tsang and instead Dong Kingman.... Kingman is actually the phonetic translation of his Chinese first name, and Dong is the translation of his last name.  (Tsang and Dong in english are the same in Chinese)  In Chinese, one's surname precedes the first name, thus Dong Kingman.