Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my journal.

22 Jun '17  — I've never seen anything like this

On the last virtual chat with mom...

"I don't want to see it again. They move like ghosts."

My mom expressed how unenthused she was to watch a Japanese dance. Butoh was something I'd never heard of until she told me yesterday.

My sister wants to take her to see a live performance. I told my mom she should tell my sister how freaked out she is by the dance. Perhaps she can get out of going.

But after watching a few videos of the dance, I encouraged my mom to see it. I was surprised to find the dance so beautiful. I don't like dances in general, but Butoh exemplifies a unique type of beauty. My mom is really into specific forms of beauty: flowers, pleasant looking things that most people like...I feel that if she embraces other forms, especially disturbing and distressful forms, she might find more beauty in her own life.

Whether that happens is up to her. My encouragement is just a way for me to enforce my values upon her. I also didn't think my sister had much to offer, but in this case, she really opened me up to a new form of art.


21 Jun '17  — An old dream

I watched Class Divide, a documentary about the community in West Chelsea. While the show mostly featured a $40k/year private school located across from public housing, it also gave insight on the changing neighborhood.

I worked in the neighborhood in a Frank Gehry building. On my lunch breaks, I'd walk for an hour. Visiting the same streets over and over, I became acquainted with the neighborhood. Before heading home, I'd work out at a gym located at the ground level of the first condo building in the area. Then I'd pick up produce from Chelsea Market.

The documentary goes over the development of the High Line. Repurposed from elevated rails, the park is unique in that you could see the city from an elevated perspective. Enjoy outdoors without traffic. Walking to and from work, I'd see the construction and think 'oh, it's going to be so nice to take a lunch break when it opens. I'll be able to have really nice walks.' By the time the grand opening took place, I'd secured another job uptown. Ironically, the park opened on my last day there.

On a summer day, I met a friend from elementary school. We went to school in the western suburbs of Chicago and hadn't seen each other since graduation. While wandering the city, we caught up. The day was super humid, the air was stagnant and we couldn't get a break from the heat. As we approached West Chelsea, a breeze from the river provided relief. In that moment, I thought: if I ever make it in New York, this is where I'm going to live. It's the most bearable.

This happened before dozens of condos popped up. There was a reason for that breeze--there were less skyscrapers, the area was less dense.

Based on the documentary, living in West Chelsea has become ultra-cliche. It's now a place for foreigners to park their wealth. I wonder which dreams I have today will become obsolete tomorrow.


20 Jun '17  — Doing what I did decades ago

A year ago I started playing with video again. The last time I did anything with video was back in high school. Using two VCRs hooked to my computer, I digitally convert VHS tapes for editing in Premiere.

My computer crashed often, I had to restart many times. It was frustrating but it was the only way.

I hadn't touched the program in fifteen years. It was strange to get re-acquainted in an era where I didn't need eight hours to import a video.

Yesterday's vlog I talked about my dream apothecary

Recently, I started vlogging. On the 18th of last month, I posted a video not really planning on anything in particular, but wanted to see where things would go. I did not expect to vlog day after day. Somehow, I made an entire months worth of videos. There were a couple days I missed, but I'm surprised how natural it felt. I never felt pressured to make another video and found myself excited to edit

This was all unplanned. I started seeing the similarities between how I write and how I construct a video. Perhaps it has something to do with how much I talk in the videos. But the progression of scenes, detail of information work the same. That's an exciting development. To see a skill that you've been working on take off in an unexpected direction.

Living Lethargic: today's vlog


20 Jun '17  — Let's trick ourselves in an ethical way

Today, I came across Amazon Prime Wardrobe. It's what Trunk Club is known for: a box of clothing is sent for you to try and you return what doesn't work. I'm so glad clothing shopping has become more humane. Remember the days where you had to compete for parking spots at the mall? Then get inside, you had to compete for dressing rooms. Only 5 items at a time. Then you had to wait in line at checkout. I remember being exhausted after visiting a couple shops.

Trying on clothing is the most laborious part. I swear, there's something in all dressing room mirrors that make me look disproportionately bottom heavy. I never feel bad about my body, but whenever I step in a dressing room, I do. Maybe that's part of the marketing scheme--lower my self esteem so I'll cover up with clothing.

I've never shopped for clothing online. Will it fit? My initial reaction is that it probably won't. At least I can comfortably discover that at home, without the hassle of salespeople or a critical mirror. If malls keep disappearing and all shopping moves online, the internet will be the only option.

Will people buy more clothes? Or will they be satisfied to the point that they won't buy more than they need? Most shops have a strategy of getting you to buy, quickly, without consideration. The merchandising and ambiance are designed for impulse purchasing. They'd rather you not mull over anything, especially in an environment like your home.

This might be the answer to sustainable fashion. There will always be people who need throwaway outfits, a shirt they'll wear once for a night out. Those items can be returned, manufacturers will have less incentive to produce throwaway fashions. Perhaps there will be less impulse buying. There's a higher cost to manufacturers for making subpar clothing that people end up throwing away or donating.

My husband told me about a classmate of his that would wear only new clothing. She thought she had concealed the tags well but everyone could see them. Not that I haven't returned anything that I've worn, but in this case, it's a total fail. It's the best example of being your own worst enemy. She's tricking herself in front of everyone.

So much of fashion is about self perception. I remember when a chain clothing store decided to lower their sizes. So a size 5 became a size 4. But the garment was still a size 5. Because their sizes were 'smaller', people felt more confident shopping there. The advantage went away when other shops lowered their size numbers as well to boost customer self esteem.

Why does the environment have to suffer in our management of self perception? There should be a technologically advance way to trick ourselves into thinking we're attractive.

In that case, I do support fake likes and fake followers. They're far more eco-friendly.


19 Jun '17  — Visiting the open sky

A volatile Saturday followed by a smooth Sunday

I thought I'd take my dslr camera out this weekend. Hadn't used it for a while but after this weekend, it's clear: I'm terrible at photography and I'm never going to get better.

I just can't get anything to look the way I want. Sometimes things work out, but that happens one in a hundred days.

When do you give up?

Poppies were all in bloom. The petals look like orange tissue paper.

It was chilly enough on Saturday for me to wear a sweatshirt.

Sunday was entirely sunny and hot.

I don't want to continue collecting bad photos. I don't want my husband to have to stop walking so I can take photos. I don't want to edit bad photos on my computer.

It's strange to desire a skill that I don't want to work on. I feel compelled to take photos because it helps me document. I just wish they'd come out more often to photos I'm proud of.

I guess I'm a complainer today.

The weekend: drama in getting there and tasting the first summer strawberries.


19 Jun '17  — One mortifying moment

While I was visiting New York one summer, I decided to meet up with some former coworkers. It was the summer after my first year of business school and I was figuring out what to do. Considering on going back to the same industry, I wanted to ask advice from managers I worked with.

Before business school, I'd been working at a media company. There was one manager that wanted to hire me out of the group I was in. I got along with him and his team but because of politics, it didn't work out.

When we scheduled lunch, I asked if I could bring another coworker along who happened to be in town. He said it was fine and suggested to bring an additional coworker we both knew. She was currently working with him and they often took lunch together.

We all met, three women and one man. At the end of the lunch the waitress places the check down. At the same time, the manager I worked with receives a call and quickly motions to see the bill. I mistakenly thought he was going to pay for all our lunches and thanked him. Profusely.

He was just motioning to pay because he had a meeting to run to. I misunderstood and tried to clear it up buy clarifying: 'oh thank you so much again, for making the time...'. He paid his share as we all did and left.

This memory stays in my head. What does that say about me? I'm the type of person who expects the guy to pick up for everyone's lunch? I am horrified thinking that my former coworkers would think that. I'm horrified to have put someone in a position assuming they'd pay. My coworkers have seen me in multiple instances and their perceptions of me are based on multiple encounters: why am I giving myself such a hard time about this one instance?

It's embarrassing to be a person who assumes that someone wanted to pay for everyone's lunch and they weren't intending to. It makes me cringe.

Perhaps I want to control other's people's perception of me so much that I feel deep mortification when things get out of my control.

Perhaps I'm very NOT okay being that person. But why not? Why is it so bad? Why can't I be the fool that made the mistake in assuming someone would pay for lunch?

Listen to this post on Soundcloud and iTunes.


16 Jun '17  — An evening boost

Just the beginning of a lengthy cooking session

I was very tired today. Didn't sleep well. Somehow, cooking gave me a boost. I wanted to make a lasagna in preparation for the weekend and I'd made plans earlier this week to make it on Friday. At the end of the day my energy was low, but I was mentally prepared. Once I started washing and chopping, I found myself feeling awake.

The last layer

It's fun to feel wet slimy food, to stir and listen to things sizzle and boil. Sorting out my thoughts this morning, I was able to take my own advice: enjoy activities off the computer. Use your hands for something other than typing.

A story about middle-of-the-night awkwardness


16 Jun '17  — Enjoying food shouldn't be a big deal

The number one challenge we face as a couple each day: if we're not going to cook, where do we eat?

A day ago, we stopped by a new restaurant. The host told us they were entirely booked for the night. Although there were several tables for people who didn't rsvp, they were already taken. If we wanted to dine, he recommended making a reservation.

It's a Mexican restaurant. How good could Mexican be in Berlin? The number one thing Americans miss the most living in Europe is Mexican food. No matter the ingredients, restaurants here cannot make anything close. Not only in Berlin but every major city in Europe.

The restaurant is a five minute walk from home. The only time we made a reservation for a place in the neighborhood was for a Michelin star restaurant. I was turning 30.

There's also a brunch place two minutes from our house that I occasionally want to eat at. It's one of the number one places for brunch so reservations are recommended. I don't feel good about reserving a place two minutes away. It's too close to be more than a casual drop in. Prior planning just seems like too much work.

So yesterday we were walking around, getting a bit hungry and thought, maybe we should check to see if the Mexican restaurant had tables open.

We near the restaurant and spot the same host turning guests away. I thought about bothering him again. 'What if we came day after day and he had to turn us away each time?' We live so close that we'd have nothing to lose. If we go enough times, he'd probably help us make a reservation. But if that happened, we might not show up.

Then my husband told me a story about a rabbit who visits a restaurant run by a bear. The rabbit visits everyday asking if they're serving chicken soup with chocolate. The bear repeatedly, day after day, says no. The rabbit continues to ask until, finally, the bear cooks up chicken soup with chocolate. The rabbit shows up again and asks if that soup is served. The bear says yes. In disbelief, the rabbit responds, 'Who would order such a thing?!'

Listen to this post on Soundcloud and iTunes.


15 Jun '17  — The magic of trees

Nature in a concrete jungle

I haven't been outdoors for a long time. I've been outside, but the scrappy pieces of grass littered with bottle caps just doesn't come close to what I would call the outdoors. This weekend I'm planning on doing so not only for fun but for my sanity.

An interesting area of study


15 Jun '17  — An interesting paradigm

Seeing through the chaos... in Prague

When I was going to college, people made fun of students who studied human development, philosophy, anthropology and art. But now, everyone who got a practical degree, business or economics, are the joke.

I heard somewhere that those coming out of school unemployed are more often those who studied business. I don't know if this is actually true, but if it is, it's the opposite of a self fulfilling prophecy.

The business and economics students I went to school with were less worried about job prospects because it was assumed that the area of study would lead to money. And all of them are doing more than fine. But an increase in the number of students who study business year after year, limits the number of opportunities. Jobs didn't grow proportionally.

When 'good advice' is followed by the masses, it becomes impractical. Good advice is only good if the majority is not ready to do it. If everyone is doing it, the advantages that made the advice attractive, are no longer there.