cait +tiff


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C / A Year

ne and yen

Photo by Tiffany Tsang

It’s been a year and some change since I left Cambodia. I had a thousand reasons to leave, and I am so glad I did, but when September 3rd passed last week, I felt sad. Like a weird kind of empty sad, that caught me by surprise. I didn’t really get it, I had made those choices for myself, I had pushed hard in the right direction, and threw myself willingly into the relative free-fall of the last year. I am happier than I have been in a very long time, and yet, there was sadness?

With the help of an ugly cry and a very understanding set of ears to listen to me work through it, I realized that change, no matter what size or direction, is an adjustment. My life looks completely different now than it did a year ago, and I wouldn’t have ever imagined the amount of luck, love, and understanding that has come my way in the last year. But there is still something that feels like a mourning, for the past life, and a community that I miss dearly.

I am under the impression that change is a good thing, which I realize isn’t a particularly unique point of view. But because it leads itself so well to cliche, I often forget the gravity of change, and how long it takes my brain to catch up with my body. This time last year I was bouncing from couch to couch across the US, and I would’t be in my now-house for another 3 months. Change is weird and awkward and painful, but always, always important.

It’s nearly impossible for me avoid dipping into some version of self-help prose after a year of meditation, therapy, yoga, Brene Brown, and green juice, so I won’t even try. My impatience with the impact of change is the only thing about it that doesn’t surprise me. In true form, I just want to get through it and get on with things, but I am doing my best to quiet that spazzy voice just a little bit, and let those feelings come and go.

Overshare complete.

caitsig


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T / a little activism

I think the best forms of activism are the most subversive ones.  They require a little creativity an maybe a paintbrush.  They’re the ones that happen overnight or under your feet, and when they get released, it roars louder than the tweet that got the ball rolling in the first place.  And aren’t big wide walls just asking for it in the first place?  So when I was in San Francisco this past spring, my partner really wanted to check out Clarion Alley in the Mission District.  It’s a community in a city where the voice of increasing social inequality and the fight against gentrification and the whitewashing of neighbourhoods is really taking hold.  Where better to smack some sense into your compadres than on their commute?  I’m always so incredibly impressed by the people who can synthesize their feelings into beautiful acts of activism.  And social media these days means that these messages can get spread far and wide.  Just look at all of the responses to the tragedy of DACA just hours after its announcement.

What a week it’s been, right?  The world is on it’s toes and the anxiety and anger are bubbling towards something.  Good I hope.  So I thought I’d share some snaps I took of Clarion Alley today.  And I hope the dreamers, the creators and those most seriously affected by this week’s everything get a wall of their own.



All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for paint stains on your new jeans.


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C / Update on the Reboot

debbie

Photo by Irving Penn

Hi. So last week, I boldly declared that I was going to fill my brain with all the inspiration I could manage, and be a changed person by Friday. The thing is, when you are filling your body with pizza and cocktails, it’s sort of hard to feed your brain online classes and meaningful literature.

The actual update on what I said I was going to do:

  • Take online class. I did not take an online class. I did look at them, and consider it, but then I went to happy hour.
  • Read a whole book. There was no way this was ever going to happen, I don’t know why I set myself up for failure, I never even looked into what book to read.
  • Starting Yoga again. I DID THIS. It’s the hot kind, and I sweat so much that a woman stopped me in the street after class to make sure I was ok.
  • Go to a museum. I did this too! Actually, I did it twice, so I think I get double points and one of the trips to a museum counts as taking a class.

According to my math, that is 3/4-ish, so I feel pretty good about my inspiration week. And, AND, I am filling this week with even more artsy shit that makes me want to create again. I do want to get back in to making things, my hands are getting restless. I saw the Irving Penn exhibit at The Met yesterday and I just filled with energy, in a way that I haven’t experienced in a while. I am not a photographer, but Penn has done some of the most incredible work I have seen, and it’s impossible for me to look away from it. So I bought the $70 coffee table book, which weighs 1400 lbs and is going to be an awesome carryon.

So I did some of my self-imposed homework, but the thing that I found most inspiring this week, was having conversations with people I love about the work I am doing right now. I have a lovely job and work for a friend, but my brain has started to wander.

I applied for a job a few weeks ago that I was SO EXCITED about. It seemed like the perfect fit, and I took a lot of care with my application and cover letter, and I made my friends read my CV and sex it up for me. I felt so good about sending it all in, and I was confident that I would be a great fit for the job.

I haven’t heard anything back, and it’s been two weeks, so that ship has probably sailed. Which is fine, ship sail all the damn time, that is what they are supposed to do. But as I have been talking through all of these things with people this week, it has become pretty clear that I need to get back to making things. It’s where my brain goes back to before I go to sleep, and it is what my brain has filled with while I am walking around New York.

So, I am getting back into it. I even got a new notebook and fancy new pencils this weekend, and you know I can’t waste back-to-school supplies.

Have a lovely Tuesday.

caitsig

 

 


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C / I’m a Wombat

wombat

Guys, this is really exciting. I am in New York right now and I have amazing news…I am a wombat! Isn’t that great? Let me explain.

I met up with my cousin yesterday, one of my favorite people in the world, and he told me about Primal Zodiac signs. (If you think astrology stuff is garbage, stop reading. I don’t know if it is or not, and I don’t even know if it’s my business, but I think it’s interesting.) Your Primal Zodiac is a combination of Western Zodiac and Eastern Zodiac signs, so in my case, I am Taurus, and I was born in the Year of the Boar.

In Primal Zodiac math, that makes me a WOMBAT. I love wombats.

Now, I am not going to make you read my wombat zodiac, but I definitely thought about it. According to the internet, which never lies, I am

  • Strong, determined, sensitive, and stubborn. (check)
  • Can be a reclusive weirdo until the wombat feels comfortable with her people.
  • Once the wombat is comfortable, wombat will not stop talking. To everyone.
  • Smarter, stronger, and more agile that people think
  • Also, and this is a direct quote “This sign can be painfully over-indulgent and procrastinating to the point that others wonder how it is they get by day to day.” (um, check)
  • When the wombat does stop watching Netflix, the wombat cannot be stopped.
  • Wombats like cosy, familiar places, and like nice things (check)
  • Wombats like wine, and “they do like to indulge in worldly pleasures a bit too much.” (This is kind of a judgy website, jeez.)
  • Hosting parties is their wombat jam, and they don’t really like the club. Wombats don’t like crowds.

I won’t go into the love stuff too much but a few important things:

  • Wombats are great friends, love giving advice and like small groups
  • Wombats are cautious, but when they commit, they commit.
  • SUPER SNUGGLY
  • Should trust be betrayed “expect to see the rare but legendary rage from this quiet but powerful sign.” Wombat Khaleesi up in here.

 

Lastly, career things, which I really like reading about right now.

  • Even though they can be shy, wombats put on a good show, and love storytelling
  • Wombats love creative self-expression and the arts (check)
  • Wombats are LAZY (check) and need inspiration and drive of they will just eat ice cream off their bellies all day and watch Brooklyn 99 in their underwear (I’m paraphrasing.)

 

I know how silly it is that I just wrote out my zodiac stuff on this blog, I know that. But I have never read anything that sounded more like my best friend describing me. I am making Tiff do this too, and I want you guys to look and see if your description works for you, too. Do it here, click. Do it, and tell me what you think.

Your favorite wombat.

caitsig


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C/ Big Business

big business.jpg

This post is late, and it’s not even my day, but here I am, two cocktails in with three hours of sleep in not-my-apartment in New York, typing away. What could go wrong?

Honestly nothing, stop reading if you think I am going to tipsy-manifesto all over this blog, I do that in text messages, like I normal person. I am here to talk about one of the most important things in life, Bette Midler. Yeah, Bette Midler.

I watched Big Business over the weekend, and am deeply ashamed that it was my first viewing. However, I was thrilled that I got to watch it with the badass ladies of Boxcar Muse, and eat pizza off of my tummy while yelling “werk” at the screen. This movie is amazing, and 1988 was a SOLID year for fashion. I am a little disappointed my 5 year old self didn’t get more matchy suit skirt things. The thing that struck me the most, was how awesome it was to watch Lily Tomlin and Bette of my Dreams play two characters each, be hilarious and smart and diverse in all of them, and that the movie had nothing to do with  romantic relationship. Yes, there are love interests, but they are honestly in the movie as side pieces.

Watch this movie, and then write me and tell me what your favorite hat of Bette’s is, because I CAN’T DECIDE WHAT MY FAVORITE IS.

caitsig


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T / departures (other people’s)

Artwork Credit: J. Emslie

Yay we’re back!  Life is pathetic fallacy right now.  Because in addition to the monsoon come the summer time goodbyes in this city and all the related feels.  The last of which happened to me last week.  Which is probably why I got zapped of all inspiration for a little bit.  So I had to write this small meditation to get it over with.  Obviously. 


This life is goodbyes.  Or as I would prefer to refer to them, “see you soons.”  Over the past few weeks, I’ve said these words to not just one but three sets of friends.  Important friends.  The kind of friends that are like the super comfortable favourite pillows on your bed.  Sorry, was that a creepy way of describing friendship?

At the same time, I’m still on the heels of coming back from California, where I saw more than a few sets of friends that I allegedly said goodbye to over the past few years.   And guess what?  It was like we were picking up from where we left off.  Except maybe we had some more money this time around (yeeeah 30s).  I should also mention that I’m not the best at keeping in touch.  Years of poor connectivity and dropped Skype calls have more or less killed my enthusiasm for overseas phone calls.  However, I am amenable to a long form email.  And I hear that the Internet of things works a heck of ton better now.

The other fun thing about this nomadic community we’re a part of is the awkward friendship starter.  I love Kate’s words on the topic.  Because isn’t that what summer is all about?  All these new people landing?  And everyone else you sort of know, have seen around, would like to get to know better?  Looking back on some of my closest friendships I’ve made since leaving Canada, they’ve always been in the most inopportune of places.  Being drenched in a monsoon in an outdoor group work out.  In a deep dark club because we’re both Asian and should be friends.  The infamous roll of Hello Kitty duct tape and the ensuing noodles!  And sweating together.  Always sweating together.  There’s nothing more bonding than that.

And the goodbyes won’t stop.  Ever.  I’m already preparing the the spate of them that will happen in 2018.  And I’ll depart this gorgeous piece of land at some point too.  So I was trying to find something to capture that. But let’s face it, everything would be drag.  So let’s watch these pretty pictures instead.  Because it’s not goodbye.  It just means the next time I see you, it’ll be a different way of coffee (which will probably cost way more than $2.50), bread instead of noodles, and taxis instead of tuk tuks.  Let’s celebrate that.

Paris – NewYork from MRfrukta on Vimeo.


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T / a little bit of freedom…sort of

Can you tell I have an icon?

I keep saying I’m funemployed.  But I’m really not.  There are clients.  There are deliverables.  There are thousands of photos.  But I just get to decide when I work, and how I work.  That morning post-workout coffee is no longer limited to 15 minutes!

Since leaving my not-so-fulfilling full time in-an-office consulting gig last week, I’ve been feeling like Will Ferrell encountering New York City for the first time in Elf.  Except that I can work my way around Photoshop. I’ve been feeling more responsive.  I’m feeling so much lighter (because sitting is the new smoking).  And I am back to my slightly frantic self (see Muppets: Animal).  Cue George Michael, RIP.

But also like there’s a fire under my ass again.  Because for the past 6 months, I’ve more or less been plotting, Dr. Evil style, of my return to the freelance environment.  There are websites that need to get updated.  Portfolios that need to be shared.  The hustle is real and it is so back.  I have plans that need to get manifested.  I even just drafted something called the Berlin Strategy (doesn’t that sound like a sequel to Homeland?).

Except I might choose to catch up on 12 episodes of Supergirl instead while editing photos I took 2 years ago.

I first came across creative accountability in one of Katie’s posts.   And she’s totally right.  We have our clients that keep our work accountable, but as creative entrepreneurs, who keeps us moving forward?  I’m not exactly a start up with a venture capitalist that wants to see returns.  Nor am I actually in school and have classmates to commiserate with.  And a career coach isn’t exactly in the budget. I needed someone else, in Phnom Penh, who was on the hustle, with clients and personal goals and learning to pursue too.  And all I had to do was ask her out!  We meet for regular coffees, look at each other’s work, bounce ideas off of each other and see how each other are doing on that road upwards.  Doodles may be involved.

This all helps to keep that fire under my ass lit, under control, with enough heat to keep me on my toes.  But I also have some time for myself, to feel bored and find ways to get out of it, and to fail, or figure out a whole new set of things I can do (I see you, coding).  The doors are wide open now and I get to pick which one I go through.  Come on baby, light my fire*.

*Oooh cheesey, but I like it.


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C / boundaries

pink

I struggle setting boundaries. I think it’s attached to being a pleaser, I have a terrible time thinking that I am letting people down or disappointing them in any way, and it hasn’t done me any favors.

I saw this Brené Brown video last week, and it stuck with me. There is a part in it where she explains how some people don’t set any boundaries, get taken advantage of, feel violated, don’t do anything about it, and then become angry and resentful. While watching this, I was unconsciously shaking my head “yes.” I feel like that might be a problem.

I am currently taking classes in self-compassion meditation. I pay a wonderful woman named Heather to help me be less of an asshole to myself, and boundaries come up in class a lot. Brené can clearly tell you why they are so important better than I can, and it’s worth the 5:54 minutes.

Will this ever be a fashion blog again? Who knows. Happy Friday.

caitsig


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T / happy monday / visual meditations

Photo Credit: Rich Stapleton for Cereal x Gap

If you asked 22 year old Tiff about meditation and mindfulness, she probably would have stared at you and said “I don’t exactly have time for that.”  In the background, her mother would have said “Tiffany’s been high strung since she was 2.”  This was a fact until this Tiff sailed past thirty.  End of third person monologue.

As a freelancer, I’ve been starting and stopping for the past six years.  When I was younger and nearing the end of a project, my heart would race a little.  Panic and some sort of crisis would set in.  Especially if there was no project on the horizon.  These days, I’ve learned that there is always a project on a horizon, even if I can’t see it.  Sometimes it’s there whether I want it or not.  Or most recently, the thing I needed but didn’t really want.  And in the best times it turns out to be the thing I needed and wasn’t necessarily looking for.

What on earth does career anxiety have to do with meditation?  Basically, I’ve come to terms with uncertainty.  There is no doubt about the help I’ve gotten from my 10 minutes of daily calm.

But sometimes I get my calm from looking at something.  Actually that happens quite a bit.  Which brings me to these little videos from my favourite minimalist biannual mag, Cereal.  They’re so simplistically photographed.  And while the soundtrack isn’t quite “fire crackling in the wind” or “babbling crook,”  the beat is entirely calming.  I could just stare at these and feel my amygdala get smaller. Happy Monday.

Y U K O N from Cereal on Vimeo.