Sunday, January 15, 2012


10 years ago my French host family gave me a bottle of wine from Bordeaux and instructed me to save it until 2011- it's peak year. I drug that bottle across the country, from apartment to apartment, always anticipating the momentous event in 2011 when I'd finally be able to break it open. Would I get a dream project at work? a promotion? get engaged? A lot could happen in 10 years. 2011 finally came and I kept asking myself, is this a big enough event to warrant its opening? But nothing ever seemed to live up to my expectations. I had a great year, but somehow it was December 31st and I still had not found a good enough excuse to open my precious gift. It was now or never, so I decided to start 2012 off right. I made a French dinner meant to pair beautifully with the wine and invited some close friends over to partake. The moment of truth finally came and... it was terrible. We couldn't even finish our glasses. Dang, I guess all that time in moving vans and collecting dust in my cabinets didn't suit it well. We all had a good laugh and popped open a bottle from Williamson that was guaranteed to be amazing and the party continued. I'd set some rather unrealistic expectations for the bottle, just like we often do with NYE and most other major events in life . It served as confirmation that it's not so much about the event or the day, it's about the people you're with and what you're doing. That's what deserves to be celebrated. So, I decided 2012 should be about trying to live more in the moment, appreciating where I am now and not focusing so much on long term plans and expectations.

With that in mind, I've come up with a list of things I'd like to accomplish over the next several months. I'm not going to call these resolutions, but more like a to do list. You see I turn 30 in April (scary!) and there are quite a few things on my bucket list that I really think should be checked off sooner rather than later. It's a lot to accomplish before April 28, so I'm hoping to recruit some help with each one. Here goes:

1. Learn to use my camera in manual
2. Go to a swing dance lesson in Golden Gate Park
3. Go down the Castro slides
4. Participate in the city pillow fight
5. Surf the 38 bus (an old bet)
6. Try acupuncture
7. Have my palm read (just for fun)
8. Go to Angel Island
9. Come up with my own signature cocktail
10. Make a dress from one of my mom's vintage patterns
11. Participate in a flash mob
12. Sign up for a CSA box and start cooking more seasonally/trying out new recipes

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quote of the Week

"People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others will destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway."
-Mother Teresa

Missing Paris

Le Flâneur (music by The XX) from Luke Shepard on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I left for Nepal with the goal of getting to know a new culture and hopefully making a difference in a few people's lives. What I didn't expect, was that the effect they would have on my life in return, would be much more powerful.

From the moment we arrived in Pokhara, we were constantly showered with blessings, flowers, ceremonial scarves, and smiles from the locals. I was afraid that, this being a blitz build with almost 500 people from around the world, that we would completely overwhelm the village and they would distance themselves from the mayhem. Instead, this was the event of a generation. Even the President of Nepal came to the town for the closing ceremony! They embraced us whole heartedly. We worked side by side with one another and by the end we were family.
Their hospitality knows no bounds. I've experienced nothing that can compare. They have so little, but they gladly gave us the food they had, literally offered us their bed to sleep in when we returned to visit, and without hesitation would hand you the shirt off their back if you were in need. I'd like to think that I could be as selfless in the same situation, but the reality is probably a very different case. I have more than I know what to do with and still get annoyed at times when asked to make any sacrifices.

They invited us to a special house dedication ceremony where they asked each of us up individually to have a handmade flower lei and a ceremonial scarf placed around our necks, a traditional hat or handkerchief placed on our heads, they gave us a bouquet of flowers, blessed us with red powder, and gave us a tearful hug. Their willingness to share their culture with us and the gratitude they so obviously felt touched my heart.

By far, the most humbling moment of all, was when Kamol, a young Nepali guy we were working with on the site gave me a goodbye present. He has practically nothing. He is the sole bread winner for his entire family, and struggles to find enough work to support them. Yet he always had a smile on his face and I never once heard a complaint escape his lips. We got to know him and his story bit by bit throughout the build. He taught us a few Nepali words, demonstrated the local construction techniques, and became a friend. Every day he wore a silver bracelet to work with a Buddhist blessing inscribed on it. It was one of the few possessions he could call his own and it was obviously very special to him. On the last day as we were all saying our goodbyes, he took off the bracelet, placed it in my hand, and just smiled. I was blown away. I tried to refuse, but he insisted that I take this blessing home with me and I couldn't say no. No gift has ever meant more to me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Quote of the Week

"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

Friday, October 29, 2010

Culture Shock

I stared at the clean water coming out of the tap and marveled at the fact that I could stick my toothbrush in it without worrying. That was definitely one of the things I was excited about returning home to, but there were plenty of other things that I wasn’t so excited about- like the 480 emails waiting in my inbox. It’s really hard to feel as though the work you’re doing day in and day out is all that meaningful after seeing all the issues people are facing like poverty, starvation, pollution, etc. first hand. I was in Nepal and India not even a week ago and for at least half the time I was there, I really felt like I was making a difference in the world. Back at my desk, trying to choose between one carpet pattern that is slightly more teal than another, I’m not feeling quite so effective.

I’m tempted to complain, rail against the idiocy of western society and all that, but my mom always taught us never to give in to that until you had at least tried to do something to change your situation. But, that means it’s my responsibility to come up with a solution. Yikes. It’s left me on the lookout for opportunities all week. I’ve always tried to do some volunteer work on my own time outside of work, but that just doesn’t seem like enough. Now, I’m looking for something bigger, something life changing, not just an hour every few months. How do I make this a daily effort? I’m an architect and aren’t those skills pretty beneficial to people in need of shelter, education, and community support?

I’m familiar with organizations like Habitat for Humanity (obviously) and Architecture for Humanity, but how do they find these projects? Is there a way for me to get more involved through my current job? Someone just told me about a group in our LA office called gServe that is working on a school in Haiti. It sounds like a great project to be involved in. I don’t need yet another group to distract me, but if it means actually working on some pro-bono projects like the school- that’s what I’m looking for! Last night, I was able to attend a fundraising event for Rebuild Sudan, a group dedicated to building schools in Africa. A few of my friends are heavily involved- actually running the board, working with local architects to design the school, raising money etc. and somehow they find the time to do this outside their day job. Maybe there really are lots of opportunities out there if you just look for them...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."- Miriam Beard

Today's the day! I'm leaving for Nepal in a few hours. I haven't had the greatest start to this adventure- managed to get sick days before departure, but I'm mentally willing myself to get well as soon as possible. Let's hope that my determination (and the medication I'm taking) will be effective enough to keep me from missing a single amazing moment.