Welcome to my series called “5 Photos” where I write about…5 Photos!
I’m choosing 5 random photos from my Google Photos by choosing 5 random years, 5 random months and then 5 random days and scrambling up the columns to land at 5 specific dates.
Then, I’ll write whatever comes to mind about each photo!
At the end of writing, I’ll think of something that ties the photos together – that theme will be the inspiration for the title of this post in quotation marks!
Photo 1: June 19, 2016
Pattern-making with PoPo
My grandma taught herself how to sew.
She recalled taking clothing, tracing the shapes onto newspaper and then cutting out the newspaper to create garment patterns from existing garments.
She could create dresses, skirts, tops, jackets, suits and more.
She spent some of her early days making clothing for other people, for her kids, for herself and she would also knit and crochet to slowly save up and help my grandpa who was in medical school.
They were married quite young and paved their path through their hard work, their love for one another and starting from scratch and building up their livelihood.
Tracing my midi dress to create a dress pattern
On this day, I sat with my grandma at the kitchen table of my grandparent’s place in Taiwan. My grandma was not doing well and most of the time spent time lying down in bed.
But at times, she would utilize her walker and come to the kitchen to sit for a little bit. On this day, she talked with me about how to go about tracing the neckline and how to go about creating my own patterns.
A few years back, she had traced one of my batwing shirts onto newspaper to create a pattern for me. Now, with more limited mobility and dexterity, she talked with me about it instead of showing me.
I wanted to use the magenta ditsy floral fabric hanging on the chair at left to make a midi dress similar to the sleeveless yellow style she was holding that I always wore.
It was so fun to chat with her about sewing because she was so skilled at it and loved it so much.
One day, I’ll make that midi dress and I’ll remember our pattern-making session together.
Photo 2: March 24, 2018
It was one of those nights where I was productive in order to be lazy.
The productivity portion was that I went to H-mart in K-town. It wasn’t too far from my apartment. I lived at 31st + Park and H-mart was at 32nd + Broadway, so maybe a 7-8 minute walk or so.
I liked to go to one of three main grocery stores: H-mart, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Each has its unique and special items and specific atmosphere and process of shopping.
But I loved and still love H-mart for its Asian offerings.
Sometimes we just want to be lazy and eat snacks on a Saturday night
When I looked at the photos I had taken on this day, I noticed that I captured all the groceries I had purchased.
I had purchased a frozen seafood medley, frozen mustard greens, Chinese-style rice pudding, dried seaweed, fresh seaweed salad and oyster ramen.
And a pack of Korean crab-shaped, crab-flavored munchie snacks.
And some mochi ice cream.
I think my mind wished for me to make a nice seafood + seaweed stew. But my laziness overtook the well-intentioned productivity.
So fine, I just ate snacks.
Beyond the shadow of a doubt I just wanted something easy
I laughed as I saw the other pictures I took.
This particular one, with an artistic crab-snack and its self-shadow. And also my mochi ice cream, with a bite in it.
No trace of noodles, seafood, or seaweed. Definitely no noodle dish was made that night.
But hey, even though apparently I just wanted to snack, would you say I was productive with my snack?
Dual purpose crab snacks? For a Saturday night in’s sustenance and a special art project?
Photo 3: June 26, 2015
The start of something yummy
2015. Wow, feels like such a long time ago now.
I remember I went through a phase of making soups.
I’d look in the fridge and see what vegetables I had, chop them up, add in spices and then see what I could puree or what liquid I could add in.
In this particular case, this was the start of a lentil soup.
Different states of being
I always find complex lentil soups to be quite funny.
On the face of things, it’s this sometimes odd-colored purée-ish thing.
But underneath it all, it’s taken a lot of pieces and parts to get to the whole.
I really loved the colors and textures of all of the different vegetables I added to this soup from celery to carrots to onions to leeks to tomatoes.
I didn’t take a picture of the finished product but my tastebuds enjoyed what the composite parts added to the whole.
Photo 4: October 3, 2015
Under the Portland sun
I remember this day quite clearly.
I was taking a trip to Portland, OR from San Jose, CA with my former roommate and dear friend, Diana. We were heading to visit our friend Brian.
It had been 12 years since we had all seen each other at the same time. We had seen each other in pairs but never the three of us…since 2003.
We had all lived together at the French House on campus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
This was our first day together again, reunited.
I can still see your personality in your shadow
So, thus, began our weekend reunion, riding bikes in the crisp Portland air under the bright rays of sun, grabbing coffee and beer at all the spots and speaking in franglais.
On this day, Diana and I borrowed some shared bikes at our Airbnb and decided to tackle the bridges from NE Portland to the city center and back.
Even though we hadn’t seen each other in a long time, it’s funny how looking at this shadow even now, I knew right away it was her.
Something about the way she held her backpack, the way she stopped to look at her phone to check the map to her stance was just very D-Wu.
Reunited from the distance of time of space but glued together through remembered idiosyncrasies.
Photo 5: November 16, 2018
Missing you, Lord & Taylor
I remember when I discovered that the flagship NYC Lord & Taylor was closing and being bought out by WeWork.
There were a lot of massive sales for months leading up to its closure, and my coworkers and I definitely made the most of the sales during this timeframe.
We literally were working at 38th + 5th on the SE corner while Lord & Taylor sat on the NW corner. Not even a two minute walk!!!
So, lunchbreaks, afternoon mini-breaks, after work sessions…you name it. We’d be there to check out the newest markdowns.
One man’s grieving is another’s opportunity
Interestingly enough, I took this photo of this paper that was hanging on one of their store floor signs.
We had been seeing 30% off go to 50% to 70% to 80% and more but this one was new.
As items cleared away and sections of the store were reorganized and as products were shuffled around, suddenly it was becoming more and more sparse of merchandise.
And suddenly even the fixtures were fair game.
They were looking for buyers of the couches once set up for customers waiting, the end tables with the same aforementioned purpose, the furniture from Sarabeth’s restaurant on the 5th floor, the empty metal fixtures that once held hangers, the large mirrors affixed to beams and walls, the plethora of lighting units and so much more.
I realized that as my friend Sophia and I purchased more shoes, we also cleared the fixtures more and more which led that fixture closer and closer to its liquidation.
The Cycle of Life
After writing the above reflections, stories and experiences on the 5 Photos I chose at random, I think the common thread I see is the cyclical nature of life.
The cycle of life occurred as my grandma looked to pass down her knowledge of sewing to me and I endeavored to learn it.
The natural cycle of moving from productivity to laziness happened one Saturday night when I went grocery shopping with good intentions of making a meal, but opting instead for the snacks.
Still, that cycle of life kept going as I had a phase of making soups and just having a phase for anything at all can represent a cycle that can come and go.
Even the essence of friendship has its own cyclical dynamic, from being close in proximity to being farther apart in distance or mentality to rejoining with the intensity of remembrance.
Or the closure of a store from its once hey-day of fixtures being backdrops for the greater star of merchandise eventually fading into a liquidation for a new purpose with a new owner.
The cycle of life is intriguing and to be honest, after writing about these 5 Photos, I didn’t quite know how I’d tie them all together.
But then, I just felt it.
That ebb and flow, that natural occurrence of the phasing of different elements and the fading of others. That’s the cycle of life and I saw that cycle of life from my random experiences.