I was attempting to fix some spacing issues on my website and accidentally reset all of my styling, so I decided to mix it up a little. No more monospaced slab serif font, as much as I love the typewriter aesthetic—I think this is easier to read on mobile and easier to skim.
I also added my Chinese name to my title in consistency with my Instagram. I realized in 8th grade English class during a name vignette assignment that I am actually quite attached to my name, and glad that my parents chose something easily pronounceable in English yet meaningful in our native language. I appreciate the allusion to literature, culture, and the humanities, as well as its gender ambiguity when dealing with strangers.
It's hard to believe that it's September already. I quit my job and moved out of Boston about a year ago now—nearly everything about my life has changed, and I've genuinely never been happier. I'm incredibly grateful for the supportive network of friends, old and new, in Southern California. I feel incredibly grateful to constantly have people challenging me to be better, pushing me out of my comfort zone, and encouraging my intellectual and artistic curiosities. I feel like I've been expressing this sentiment a lot lately, but it's one that I think about on a daily basis.
I took my first real stab at portraiture over Labor Day weekend. I still need to finish those rolls of film and get them developed, but I'm pretty excited for what comes out of that. I've never really been drawn to portraiture because photography was a solo endeavor for me growing up, but I think I could grow to like it more. I definitely have a lot to learn in that realm--posing, lighting, and timing in portraiture are quite different than what I'm used to in documentary/landscape photography.
I've been tourist-ing Los Angeles more. Despite growing up in South Pasadena, which is about a 15 min drive from DTLA, I realized I haven't experienced that much of the city at all. I visited OUE Skyspace (huge tourist trap) for some city views last weekend (and saw a local fire) and got an LA Public Library Card for more Libby audiobook hold scheming.
In my free time, I have been deep in the weeds of learning about the history of China. I think this curiosity started when I read From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia by Pankaj Mishra after I picked it up on a whim at used bookshop in Victoria. That led me to Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos and The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited by Louisa Lim. I just finished Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century by Orville Schell and John Delury, and have started Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang and The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet by James Griffiths. As an "Overseas Chinese" whose parents have never lived in China, I have very little personal context for Chinese history post-1940's, but it is still fascinating to learn about. I think trying to understand China's methods of controlling its population has been the most interesting (and sometimes horrifying), especially given the current state of politics in Hong Kong. I'm curious to learn more about how technology has broadened or threatened that state of control, hence the book about the Great Firewall. Wild Swans, for me, has really highlighted how much China has changed in the course of three generations—from feudalism, Japanese invasion, civil war, opium predominance, and concubinage through the Cultural Revolution and modern economic boom.
In other news—headed up to Inyo National Forest this weekend. Hoping to spend some time exploring Manzanar (another excellent 99pi episode!), poking around the LA Aqueduct, hiking Kearsarge Pass, and otherwise enjoying the end of summer. The backstory of the LA Aqueduct is pretty crazy (well-told in The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles by Gary Krist)—construction began in 1905, led by William Mulholland, and led to the California Water Wars between Owens Valley and the city of Los Angeles. By 1913 the water from Owens River was diverted for city use via a 233-mile long aqueduct. The demands of Los Angeles left the valley residents very little left of their resources for agricultural use, which led to outrage and destruction attempts in 1924. Owens Lake pretty much ran dry by the end of the 1920's. Kim Stringfellow recorded an audio tour of the LA Aqueduct documenting the "controversial social, political, and environmental history of the Los Angeles Aqueduct system through the voices of historians, biologists, activists, native speakers, environmentalists, litigators, LADWP employees, and residents from both Los Angeles and the Owens Valley."
What are traits/qualities that people often admire you for?
What is something someone else has done recently that you are proud of them for? Did you tell them?