I am currently loving my “boring”, humble, yet simple life back in Berkeley.
Everyday my life with Cindy is like this:
I wake up quite early (around 6am), take an icy-cold shower (as effective as an espresso), do a few 1-handed kettlebell swings (the book “Kettlebell Simple & Sinister” by Pavel is a game-changer), make Cindy breakfast, do a little reading (Stoic philosophy, either “The Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius” or “Letters From a Stoic” from Seneca), have a few espressos (depending how tired I am, 3-4 espressos), go back to the bedroom to make sure Cindy is awake (she usually falls back asleep 2-3 times), carry Cindy out of bed (and feed her breakfast and a v60 pour-over coffee), do some more reading (and more espresso), jump on a bus to go to UC Berkeley campus with her, listen to some music (“Compton” by Dr. Dre), work on my “Learn From the Masters iPad/iPhone/ePub” e-book (almost done), have lunch with Cindy, go to a cafe with Cindy (and more espresso), walk her to her allergy appointments (and I take a nap in a massage chair and listen to some music), jump on a bus with Cindy back home (and chat about our day), cook dinner with Cindy (usually something nice and meaty, had lamb shank and broccolini the other night), watch a film (watched “My Neighbor Totoro” last night), snuggle in bed, read a little bit, and pass out.
Living without a car
Also I don’t know if I mentioned to you, but Cindy and I have been without a car for about a month now (Cindy’s younger sister got into a car accident and needed a car, so we gave ours to her).
I know it sounds like such a hippie-Berkeley thing not to own a car; but it has brought me so much joy and happiness it is ridiculous. I’ve driven since I was 16 years old and have always been a sucker for cars (I watched too much “Fast and Furious” growing up). Don’t get me wrong, I am still suckered by nice cars and have found myself looking at Craigslist classifieds (even though I won’t buy one, and Cindy would get seriously pissed off if I did anything without her consultation).
What is the benefit of not having a car? More walking with Cindy (good exercise), more shooting (because I walk more), feeling more integrated with the community (talking to the bus driver, seeing other people on the bus, walking to the local grocery store), and feeling less stress (not dealing with parking, insurance, worrying if someone is gonna scratch the car). We have been taking the BART (subway) everywhere and Uber, and life has been so much more seamless.
It has also helped me be more appreciate of my life, and know that I don’t “need” a car to be happy in life. I see a car more as a luxury now, and appreciate it so much more when I can drive.
Furthermore, sitting on the bus with Cindy allows me to have deeper, more meaningful conversations with her. When I drove her to campus, I would always be distracted (focusing on driving of course). I can hold her hand, chat about preparing our day together, or unwinding after a long day (on the bus ride back home). Less driving = more time to interact with Cindy on a deeper level.
The Cindy Project
Going back to “The Cindy Project” — I think it will be my most important body of work in my life. We are both only 27 years old; we hope to live to be at least 80, which is another 50+ years. But then again, life is never certain. Who knows if one of us might get some rare form of cancer, heart-disease, or die in a car or bicycle accident. I want to cherish every moment with her like it was my last.
The photos were all shot this summer (last 3 months) on a film Leica MP, 35mm f/2 Summicron, and Kodak Tri-X pushed to 1600. I dropped them off at local photo lab (“Photolab” in Berkeley) and it cost me a crapload of money ($1500 in total for 100 rolls developed). Fortunately it included developing plus scans. This is why I am going to stick with digital in the next few months to save money.
I also am trying to travel less in 2016 (I know I say this all the time, but this time I will try harder). I think my thirst for traveling in the past has always been a sense of dissatisfaction of my life at home. But now that I am enjoying my life in Berkeley so much, I honestly see no reason to leave.
I think as street photographers, we are always looking outside of ourselves and our mundane lives to shoot more novel things.
However, I think the most meaningful things to photograph are close to our heart.
So rather than always trying to travel abroad, why not stay at home and photograph those who you love? Your partner, kids, dogs, friends, whoever (or whatever) is meaningful to your life.
All of the photos I shot of her were just during everyday moments in our lives. Photographing Cindy over breakfast, taking her to the bus stop, or even during our road trips from the Bay Area to Los Angeles.
The thing I enjoyed most about shooting all of this on film is because I was able to re-live all the experiences again, and it was wonderful. It was like “delayed gratification,” and made me appreciate the images and memories so much more.
Updated look of the blog
You might have also noticed that I updated the look of the blog. Consider this the next iteration of the blog (kind of like the iPhone 6S compared to the iPhone 5). I hope to keep the blog more minimal, and also integrate the blog with my portfolio. The new theme is running on WordPress on the “Genesis Framework” with the “Atmosphere Pro” theme. I want to work hard to make this blog the best possible reading experience for you; fast, clean, and easy-to-access past articles and content.
I also have a lot more writing projects that I plan on when back home. The “Learn From the Masters” iPad/iPhone/ePub edition is 95% done; will write up a proper post on it soon.
Oh man, I’ve probably been drinking too much coffee (I’m at 5-6 espressos a day). Now that I’m almost done with the book project, I might take a short break, and start to detox (maybe drink more green tea).
I want to do more nature-related stuff, like hiking, backpacking, or exploring Berkeley while I’m home. I need to constantly resist the urge not to buy new stuff (Cindy and I have a “no buy new stuff” policy before we leave to Vietnam for a year in August 2016).
I also hope to write fewer “blog posts” and more books. So thank you so much for your love, kindness, patience, and understanding. I’m always working hard for you everyday.
Stay updated with the #cindyproject
Now time to have a nice dinner with Cindy, relax, read a little more, and pass out after a pretty action-packed day.
Lots of love,
Written @ UC Berkeley Student Union, Friday, 6:57pm, October 30th, 2015. 2 espressos in the morning, 1 small Philz “New Manhattan” coffee, 1 espresso at “Paris Baguette”, 1/2 Nitro Cold brew. My adrenal glands hate me.