Goodbye SF

Living in this city changed me
Or maybe
I changed while living in this city
Or really
It’s both
Because how do you separate the set from the setting, the mind from the biology, the life from the living?
You don’t.

Late nights stayed up way too late, driving home, to my home, the first I’ve ever really tried to build. The longest I’ve ever been in one place.

The train. The routine. The commute. The lostness. The wildness. The dreaming. The newness.

I lived in ways I’ve never lived, in ways that I regretted and others that were needed. How do you end 4 years of your life, that encompass some of the hardest, loneliest, brightest, most beautiful years you’ve ever experienced?

We are moving down the path of a huge life change.


God I’m only human and I’m helpless…


I no longer know how to put this into words. I know romantic love and heartbreak but this, this is different. More subtle, less sharp. A deep pulsing breathing thing. A soul. A life. An identity. This is me. This life I’ve built. This life I’m leaving. I think about the things I’ve written in the past. How we’re our own puppet masters. How I’ve laid out these plans for myself, pointed myself down this path yet somehow still feel so surprised and bewildered at what’s happening. This disconnect between my present and my ego. my past and my future. Standing at a precipice.

How many things in life do we lose and only remember in retrospect? A favorite shirt that disappeared and goes unnoticed until the next time you want to wear it. A street in a city you’ll never live in again. A kiss from someone you love.

Do parents remember the last time they picked their child up and threw them into the air as if they were made of cotton?

Do children remember the last time they hug their parents before they “grow up” and grow embarrassed of the vulnerability?

Maybe that time between the last time and forgetting is a gift. Forgetting gives us a headstart in time. After all, time is the only salve for grief and change.

I am grieving a part of my life. A version of my life. I have done this before, when I left Utah after the last time I took time off. I knew I would never get those moments back.

Endings and farewells.


Today I spent hours doom scrolling on social media. I do this every so often, unable to pull myself away from the internet. Sometimes it’s a rabbit hole about plants, or a long form article, or retail therapy, or mental health comics, or cute animals, or memes. Sometimes its current events, like covid like BLM like racism like asian hate like misogyny like violence.

When did the world become so violent.

It was always violent you were just too sheltered to notice.

I feel a lot of things. Now and always. Some of them nameless. How can I feel both numb and anxious at the same time? Is that what anxiety is?

The feeling that surprises me the most though, the one that is hardest to admit, is the shame. The guilt. The knowledge that I will feel funny for a bit, until something is distracting enough and this feeling fades. Until the events are just a memory. Until I can move on. Eventually I will turn away because looking directly at something is too painful. Like looking at the sun.

I’ve always thought asian women are beautiful….where are you from….don’t tell my girlfriend we did this….where’s your boyfriend…relax its not a big deal…

Where do you even begin to heal.

I feel guilty because I feel like I am complicit. By being nice. By making conversation. By not processing how deeply uncomfortable and afraid I was/am until much later.

I feel guilty because I have no close elderly relatives. My family history is complicated and partially lost, to time, to distance, to the wear and tear of age and immigration.

I feel guilty for not being angry.

I want to be angry. I want to be enraged. Turn the rage into action, like water into wine but what if I don’t want to fight fire with fire what if giving in to anger is the thing that terrifies me the most.

Sometimes I feel alone, even surrounded by loved ones. Is it me? My anxiety? My personality and natural tendency? Is it the color of my skin? My gender? The innate differences in our lived experiences as people?

How do I translate myself when I don’t even know where to start? When I don’t even understand?

Sometimes I think about the phrase “the unbearable lightness of being.” Like the book. But not the book specifically. Just the phrase.

Can the feeling of being so light, so weightless, be the thing that feels so heavy.

Can the fact that our bodies are so fragile, so quick to break, be the thing that frees us?

After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

…or does it leave you broken?


Love is an act of endless forgiveness. Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me. Forgiveness is the final act of love.

I wrote this in my journal months ago and thought of it again lately. What does it mean when the love in question is your love for yourself? How do you forgive yourself for your mistakes, for your stumbles, for the very fact that you are human?

The thing about anxiety spirals that gets me is the lack of control. The disconnect from reality. What is real and what is imagined? Am I real or am I imagined? What do I take responsibility for and what do I let go of?

Does it even matter?

Last night I couldn’t sleep. For the first time in my life I lay in bed for hours, willing myself to relax. Willing myself to calm down. I am ok I will be ok. For hours.


Today I haven’t eaten. Haven’t felt like eating.

In certain cultures mental health is discussed as physical ailments. Instead of anxiety, its that my stomach is twisted. My chest is tight. In therapy they encourage you to be aware of your body. Instead of getting lost in the spirals of feelings, in what is real and what is not, focus on the body. The physical.

I wonder if that’s better. To have a physical anchor. To have something to look at, to touch, when you’re in pain. Otherwise how do you touch emotional pain?


These days are slipping by. Not just minute by minute, hour by hour, but month by month, year by year. Even now, I am shocked that it’s almost 5pm. I’ve spent all day waiting for the day to start. Waiting for my brain to kick into gear, to shake off the fogginess. As if the SF fog has left the sky and moved into my brain.

Sure enough, its 80degrees outside and beautiful. Blue skies and unseasonably warm. I smiled at strangers on the way to the doctors, got sushi for free with a wink from the cashier. Tried my best to take care of myself and some errands.

But still, there are some days where the fog is heavy. How can a thing be so heavy yet so intangible. Or is it that nothing feels tangible right now? Even the little things, the scraps I use as a way to orient myself when the fog makes it hard to see beyond my fingertips. When my brain is a flighty bird, never landing on one thing long enough to leave a mark. Is this the unbearable lightness of being? Or is it just disappointment in myself.


The art of life

There is a narrative I have in my head that I find myself saying a lot. It’s mostly “I don’t know.” 

I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what I want, what my goals are. I don’t know where to start or what to do first or how to choose.

I just don’t know. 

But what if I do? What if this lie, the one where I somehow convince myself that all my past experience, all my obsession and introspection is just neurosis, what if that lie is the most damaging lie of all?

What if I can’t trust myself because I keep saying I can’t trust myself? 

Lately I’ve been thinking that the most vulnerable thing you can do is be proud of yourself. Yes vulnerability can look like grief and fear and shame and self-loathing. But what if vulnerability also looked like honor? Pride? Hope? 

It is so scary to hope, to believe, to have faith, because there’s always that voice that asks what if you’re wrong? Are you ready to face the consequences? What about that time you failed or the fact that you’re human and you never have been and never will be enough? It is in our nature to want. It is in our nature to hold contradictions. But isn’t that one of the most beautiful things about being human? That we can hold so many things at once, values that don’t compute, memories that war with the future. We hold storms and yet can still feel joy. Can still move forward. Can still find beauty.

The scariest thing you can do is to bet on yourself. To bet that you know what you’re doing and if you don’t, you’ll figure it out. To define who you are and what you want is to open yourself to criticism and attack. To suffering. It is to risk losing the things you love.

In buddhism they say that suffering is a truth of life. That it is ever present because we and the world around us will always disappoint. But isn’t it wonderful that despite that we continue to dream? To believe in a better world, a better self? 

The ability to hope for the future without letting it degrade the present, to want to be a better person without letting that mean you’re bad, to know how little and how much I know…

That is the art of life.

– L


I wrote this just before the holidays. Maybe someone will read it and feel a little less alone. Maybe that person will just be me in the future.


December is a hard time. Full of joy and the holidays and time off from work. But also full of long nights and cold weather and the accumulated dust from the year.

Lately I’ve been tired. Stressed. Anxious. Unmotivated. When I was processing heartbreak, I put some of it out here, even while I was drowning in it. Even while I hadn’t figured it out or made it “presentable.” Whatever that means. I worry about that. About being presentable. About being my best self. About doing the right thing, the best thing, being the best me. About trusting myself and holding myself accountable.

How do you tell the difference between a day of needed relaxation and a day of toxic indulgence? Is it really just the narrative you tell yourself?

The spirals are endless.

And so I have decided to write. This is not a self-help formula. This is not a list of things to do or a recipe for success. Because I do not feel like a success. I do not feel like I’ve figured anything out.

I’m writing because I need to remind myself that its ok to be imperfect, to make mistakes and change my mind. Its ok to feel anxious and worried and do a thing anyway….or not do it. Truthfully, sometimes the anxiety is too much.

Lately I’ve been tired because of the vigilance that it takes to check my anxious thoughts. To recognize when I am irritable or feeling weird and trying so hard not to let it affect those around me. The vigilance it takes to sterilize my worries, numb my emotions lest they bleed into areas they are not supposed to. Sure, part of the problem is probably trying to compartmentalize too much, trying to control emotions instead of accepting them. But again, an endless spiral. How easily these “tips” can be weaponized as another way to feel bad.

The thing that gives me the greatest anxiety is work. Somehow it feels high stakes, as if any mistake could ripple into my reputation, into the future, into some validation that I am not enough. I know this is irrational.

How many times do I have to tell myself that I am enough before my heart starts to believe it?

How deeply do you have to love yourself before you can forgive?

Does one even come before the other?


Also, in writing this and then debating whether to post it or not, I realized one of the big benefits of the 26×26 project: it gave me permission to write. A reason to publish beyond “I feel these things but don’t know if I should share.”

No project this time but sharing anyway 🙂

– L

Something old

I found this buried in a notes app I rarely use. It’s not that old (last December) yet feels so long ago. A different lifetime. A different world. But the feelings are the same.


It is a wonder to me that as we grow older I watch us become the people we once admired. The grown up adults making a difference in the world. Building a life and seeking adventure with abandon and humility.

I write. I change. I continue to write. It occurs to me as the new year approaches that so much if my writing is about the loss. The grief. The future left unlived. The stark pain of a fresh wound bleeding through the page.

I continue to write. This year with a new theme. I don’t expect to write devoid of heartbreak. It is a familiar passenger in this journey. After all healing is a process not a destination so I fully expect the wounds to bleed again.

But it is not longer a river.

No longer feels like my body is cracking open with every breath.

Your name no longer feels like a secret.

The numbers change. The days lengthen. Still I write. Still I dream and question and grow and wonder.

– L


Vanlife has been an idea that has captured me, my thoughts, my daydreams, for a while now. Recently a few people have asked me why, and I figured, I might as well write it out for myself. Remind myself (or, in some cases, parse through for the very first time) why the things that I say are important to me are actually important to me. 

Beauty. Love. Joy. Nature. 

Vanlife is a thing I first heard about when I was in college. Poking around online looking for inspiration for an architecture project, I found a blog by another architecture student who, frustrated by the theoretical nature of school projects, wanted to build something real. Something tangible. 

So he bought a bus. 

I found that blog again (hankboughtabus) and looking back on it, the build isn’t particularly special. The bus is fairly minimal and, now that I’ve seen so many amazing builds, it looks a bit plain by comparison. But there was an approachability to the simplicity. It made me think I could do that. That really is the one that started it all for me. 

Or maybe not. 

Maybe it started long before that. Before college. Before school even. 

It’s 1999 and I’m sitting in the back of a grey minivan at a dealership. My older sister is trying to convince me that this van is better than the other one. Sure, the other one has a TV but imagine all the tea parties we can have in this one. We can put the seats down and sit on the floor and I’ll tell you stories and we can play pretend. What do you say? 

I said ok. 

For years after, that van would be the vehicle of our vacations. Road trips and scenic drives. Places I didn’t know how to appreciate yet. Wildness seeding itself in my heart. My dad would take out the middle two seats and put down layer after layer of blankets and pillows until the back of the van was basically one big mattress. We would make forts and read books and, one time when we were super bored, compete in who could do the most sit ups without stopping (I won).

There is something about the pace of a road trip. The easy accessibility of it. That it doesn’t matter how much you strive, how fast you drive, you’ll get there when you get there. So might as well kick off your shoes, settle in, put your feet up on the dashboard, and surrender. To boredom. To time. To existence. 

Maybe that’s where it all started for me. In the back of that grey minivan watching the clouds roll by on endless stretches of interstate highways. Searching license plates and billboard ads for alphabet letters and playing any number of made up games to pass the time. 

I didn’t know it then but those moments are some of my favorites. The moments that made childhood feel soft. That made life feel soft. 

In some ways, I am still searching for that. Maybe my entire life is about that. The search for softness. In myself. In others. In the world.

There is also something immensely satisfying about having everything I could possibly need contained in a metal box on wheels. That goes where I go. That I can take refuge in.  It’s the same itch that feeds my love of backpacking (where everything I need is carried on my back). I don’t know if it stems from the need to explore or the need to be fully independent, to be able to escape at a moment’s notice.

The open road is an idea that has captured the American imagination long before vanlife became a tag with blogs and builds and how to’s. It might even predate the cars and roads themselves, back to when the west felt wild and full of opportunity. Full of dreams.

Maybe vanlife is the way I want to meet myself. Is that a cheesy thing to say? Is it naive and foolish to think I can tease out the immutable qualities about who I am, about life itself, if I only had the time and space to think? 


In all honesty, vanlife also just sounds fun. Existential angsting aside, I want to be able to follow a dirt road as far as I’d like and stop whenever I like. Walk trails that are hard to reach. Follow roads that have no destination. Find beauty in the journey. In the misadventure. Pack the car and bring a few extra gallons of gas and just go

Doesn’t that sound fun? 

Vanlife to me is tied with the red rocks and slot canyons of southern Utah, the hot springs and evergreens of the Pacific Northwest, the graffitied ruins of southern California. I want the cozyness of cuddling under a pile of blankets while rain drums on the metal roof, I want the tired route finding and rolling into a campsite late at night with no idea of what I’m parked next to until the morning.

I want the uncertainty and the simplicity.

Hold your loved ones close

Hold your loved ones close.

This phrase keeps repeating in my head. Hold the ones you love close enough you can feel their heartbeat. Close enough you can share their warmth, close enough you can see the world as they see it. 

Hold the ones you love close enough you can keep them safe. 

But in these uncertain times, how do you really know what safe is? If the world was really ending, would it matter if I stole another kiss? A final hug? A few moments of comfort in your arms? 


In these uncertain times I ask myself, what would I do for you? Anything. What would I feel for you if you were in danger? Everything. What would I cry for you if you were gone? Oceans

And yet, part of what makes this so surreal is that even as it burns, the world is still allowed to be beautiful. 


The world is silent but for the hum of the car on the highway as we make our way down to Joshua Tree. It’s dark but in the distance the hills are….glowing? I think they’re lights from houses, but there are too many of them. Too many and they’re flickering. Like embers. And I realize…

The hills are on fire, literally burning in white hot flames. 

It is terrifying. 

It is beautiful. 

It makes me want to cry. 


The other day I went for a walk and was struck by the colors of the flowers near my apartment. Vibrant purples made all the more dreamy by the late afternoon sun. Don’t they know that the world is holding its breath? 

No. Of course they don’t. Because that is not their business. Their only business is to live. To blossom and die.


Even in uncertain times

Hold your loved ones close

Because the world is always allowed

To be beautiful.

– L