Posts tagged moments
Mindfulness: Escape Life on Autopilot

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.

Jennie here.

One evening, I was on my commute home from the office when I heard the Cowboy Bebop title track TANK! playing from the speakers of the car next to me. The crescendo of the saxophone, bass, and bongo drums were so distinctive, I stopped dead in my tracks. The song moved me, jolting me out of autopilot.


Note: Listen to the song, you'll get what I mean. 


The tune reminded me of the cheerfulness and excitement I felt when I was a younger, more impressionable girl. I remembered all the hopes and dreams I had of getting out of my dead end town and conquering/traveling the world.

In that moment, I wondered: What am I still doing here? Is this where I want to be?

The whole day I’d been feeling like I was asleep at the wheel, a prisoner of my routines. Then all of a sudden, TANK!, and a rush of emotions, memories, and questions jolted me back to life.

As the busy Los Angeles traffic crawled forward, I could hear the lyrics:

I think it's time to blow this scene.
Get everybody and their stuff together.
Three, two, one...let's jam!

The band breaks out, and my car turns the corner.

* * *

Happy weekend everyone! Tune in next week as we keep experimenting and improvising.

Cowboy Bebop - See You Later, Space Cowboy

5 Small Occupying Moments of our Week (03/19 - 03/26)

You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kinda thinking it’s the other way around. You know, like the moment seizes us.
— Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Ivan here. 

For those who haven’t seen Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, go check it out. It was filmed over the course of twelve years and lends new meaning to the phrase “boy, time sure flies.” Pun intended. 

To the critics who complained that the movie was boring: so fucking what? Some of my best memories are completely mundane. April 2009. Osaka, Japan. Jennie falls asleep on my shoulder while we’re riding the subway. We weren’t in a hurry, so I didn’t wake her when we arrived at our station. We rode the same line back and forth for an hour and a half. 

Sometimes, I wish I could remember what I was thinking in those moments. How did I feel? What observations did I make about the people around me? What did Jennie and I talk and laugh about afterwards? 

Why doesn’t anyone capture these moments before they slip away? 

That’s how this series was born. An experiment. A weekly log of small insignificant thoughts, observations and moments which occupied us for a little while. 

Ivan's Moments

1. Small Dogs

They call a Chihuahua and Dachshund hybrid a Chiweenie. I Googled it. I also Googled: “how much chocolate does it take to kill a dog?” Because this week, I seriously contemplated lobbing a piece of Lindt 99% dark chocolate into one particular backyard. 

The yard in question lies along my jogging route and belongs to the most loathsome creature I’ve ever met. As a rule, I dislike small barky dogs. I also startle easily. Because this Chiweenie is usually hidden behind a wooden fence, it never fails to scare the living wits out of me.

Last week was the final straw. I finally had proof that this little shit had it out for me. On my Friday run, I saw the biker ahead of me whiz past the yard, followed by a jogging couple. Not a peep from behind the fence.

It was waiting for me. 

2. Dave Chappelle walking away from $50 million

Would I have walked away from $50 million? Choices, right?

In 2005, comedian Dave Chappelle walked away from a successful show on Comedy Central and a $50 million contract. First, he fled to South Africa and just hung out for a few months. Went to the mall, did normal things. Then he retreated to his farm in Ohio, where he would remain for the next decade. 

I was reminded of this story after watching Chappelle’s two Netflix specials this week as well as this moving interview with Maya Angelou. 

I understood his reasons perfectly. Sometimes we all gotta learn what we can and can’t live with. But that doesn’t mean that doing what’s right can’t be an ordeal, that you can't second guess yourself at every turn. Rich or poor, young or old, we’re all in the same struggle of making sense of our lives - and we can only do it one fold at a time. 

3. Midnight in Fatburger

Jennie's attempt at portraying my midnight snack.

During the 17 month immigration process, you could’ve gauged the state of my depression by the number of pizza boxes and takeout containers lying around my apartment. My low was probably finishing two family-size boxes of Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies (the chewy kind) in a single sitting in the dead of a Toronto winter. No, I didn’t have milk. 

For a variety of reasons, last week wasn’t great. So I found myself dragging Jennie to Fatburger at 11pm. I ordered a turkey burger (I don’t eat beef), onion rings, and an extra order of fries (also for me) while Jennie looked on disapprovingly. As we waited under the fluorescent lighting, our clothes soaking in the smell of burning flesh, I opened up my Goodbudget app and logged my purchase under Eating Out & Entertainment. $15. In the comments I wrote,“Fatburger, you fat fuck.” 

On our way out, we passed a man parking his car in the plaza parking lot. He took one look at us and said, “you folks look exhausted.” Jennie smiled. I kept walking.

Jennie’s Moments

4. EntertainmenT Hospitals

The other day, I called a hospital within my insurance provider network to find a new primary care physician. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: Hi there, I'm looking to become a new patient with Dr. XYZ. Is she accepting new patients right now?

Admin: Why yes, of course! What part of the entertainment industry are you from?

Me: Huh? Oh, I'm not in the entertainment industry.

Admin: Oh, sorry, but we only cover those who are part of the entertainment industry...

Me: Well, I got your information off of my provider network.

Admin: There's nothing we can do. Sorry about that. 

What makes people in the entertainment business so special? 

5. Venice Beach STing

My office is in Venice Beach. Sometime last week, I was walking back to our office with a colleague from coffee, when we saw a swarm of police officers and cars surrounding an RV that doubled as an mobile recycling service for the homeless. 

I quickly walked past as my colleague was trying to get a ton of photos of the neighborhood disturbance; as we got to a door some guy in a bulletproof vest walked up to us and completely unprompted, started telling us everything. 

Random police officer: Yeah, you’re okay. Just completed a sting. We just busted people trying to sell dope to our undercover guys.

Me: Oh, well, thanks, I guess. 

Random police officer: Yeah, they were selling dope. There’s been a lot of auto-thefts in this area but now we’ve got the culprits. And we’re taking away their kids too.

He smiles, proud of himself.  I didn’t say anything.

Random police officer: Well, uh, you’re good to go. 

First of all, what was he bragging about? Second, why was he divulging this information to me? Nobody asked him. Finally, why did everyone in my office seem to take such visceral pleasure from this incident? 

Couples' Paris Trip: 10 Unique 'Lost in Translation' Moments
Let’s never come back here again because it’ll never be as much fun.
— Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation

Ivan here.

Lost in Translation is the perfect movie about travel. It encapsulates everything I love about being in a foreign country: the alternating moments of solitude and human connection, the confusion and discovery.

As we travel, we’re constantly trying to calibrate our inner worlds to our new surroundings, to find some meaning in the madness. At the end of our journey, we come away with a few special moments that change us in ways that are hard to explain to our friends and family back home.

This post will be your guide to finding your own Lost in Translation moments in Paris, knowing full well that the best ones can’t be planned for. But maybe, just maybe, if you open your heart, the right moment might just tap you on the shoulder, and whispering gently into your ear...

1. On a morning run along the Seine


I try to go on morning runs in every city I travel to. It’s an easy way to beat the jetlag and explore a new city at the same time. It’s 6 AM, barely light out. The air outside is cool and most of Paris is still asleep. With Air and Phoenix playing in my earphones, I map out a five mile route along the Seine, from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower. There’s something surreal about keeping to a daily ritual in a new city that leaves you feeling both energized and at peace. 

When you reach the Eiffel Tower, stop by the first cafe or bakery that catches your eye. Take your time, sip your morning coffee and look out the window. Watch Paris wake up. Oh, and the Eiffel Tower opens at 9 AM. If you want, you could be the first in line. 

2. Between the shelves of the Abbey Bookshop

I may have found the perfect bookstore in the Abbey Bookshop, and it’s a magical and otherworldly place. The entrance is tucked away off the well trodden tourist path, its windows stacked to the brim with new and vintage paperbacks. Inside, bookshelves run from floor to ceiling. The aisles are so cramped their very existence feels like a reluctant compromise. 

The shop is run by its owner Brian, a mild-mannered Canadian expat and his sweet and helpful Parisien assistent. It’s truly a marvel that places like this can still exist in 2016, but Brian’s been here all along, ever since the late 80s. Stumbling upon a place that still feels real and true in the digital age is nothing short of a miracle. 

3. a basement bench in the Musee Marmotten Monet


I go out of my way to avoid crowds. My theory is that they tend to dilute the intensity and significance of every moment. If reading the same books everyone else is reading means you’re confined to thinking the same thoughts, why shouldn’t this be true of places as well?

The basement level of Musee Marmotten Monet houses the world’s most extensive collection of Monet’s paintings. What’s truly special about this exhibit is that visitors are taken on a journey of the painter’s life through his works. Walking through the exhibit, you can experience Monet’s progression from a young ambitious painter to an old man near the end of his life. Simply put, it’s a moving testament to an artist’s life. Here was a man who devoted his life to a craft, and struggling through hardship and poverty, created his own meaning in the world. 

4. Dazed and confused at the Palais de Tokyo

At the bizarre end of the spectrum, there’s the dubiously named Palais de Tokyo. Its connection to Japan and Tokyo remains one of life’s great mysteries. Inside, you’ll find yourself strolling through a maze of loudly post-modern art and a cafe festooned by stretched-out panty hoses. 

I sat speechless through a video installation of what I can only assume to be a woman’s battle with chronic constipation and her quest for the sweet salvation of Activia’s probiotic yogurt. It’s true what they say: all life becomes art. 

5. In a TROPICAL Greenhouse At Jardin des Serres D’Auteuil

The greenhouses in the Jardin des Serres D’Auteuil makes for the perfect hideaway on a rainy afternoon. It’s one of those places you imagine could only exist in a city like Paris. This vast garden produces 100,000 exotic plants from all around the world, separated into greenhouses by region and climate. Walk through aisles of desert cacti, then lounge away in a tropical climate in the middle of a Parisian winter, to the calls of birds imported from the Amazon -- and tell me this won’t change your life. 

6. burgers and fries at De Clercq

While I enjoyed my share of French cuisine during the trip, the sheer quantity and richness of meats, cheeses and wine taxed my untrained and decidedly East Asian palate. De Clercq provides some cheap comfort food, with a local twist.  It’s a small standing-room-only shop catering primarily to take-out orders. If you happen to make the poor life decision of ordering a maxi cornet of Belgium fries, keep in mind that instead of gorging yourself, there’s enough warm food to feed one of the many people living on the streets of Paris. 


7. Visiting Oscar Wilde At the Pere Lachaise Cemetery

As a general rule, walks through cemeteries and shrines are best done during the early hours of the morning, before the hordes of tourism arrive with megaphones loud enough to reanimate the dead. 

A literary circuit involves a visit to the graves of Balzac, Proust, Moliere, Gertrude Stein, and Oscar Wilde among others. When I arrived at Wilde’s tombstone, I was disappointed to find that they had erected a makeshift barrier to prevent further acts of love in the form of lipstick marks. Given the writer’s mistreatment at the hands of the State, you would think that separating him from his readers was the last thing he would’ve wanted.  

8. sunset on the steps of the Sacre Coeur

The best place to see the sunset is sitting on the steps of the Sacre Coeur Basilica. Watch as the blue rooftops and clay chimneys of Paris are bathed in the temporary light of a golden sunset. Take your time and wait for the night to descend and the lights to flicker on. A hundred lighted windows to a hundred Parisian lives. 

9. Reservoir Dogs at the Filmatheque du Latin Quartier

Paris is a city that remembers when going to the movies was an event, when the magical whirl of a projector casting images at 24 frames per second was an experience worth sharing with an audience. 

At Parisian revival houses, nothing gets butts into seats quicker than a midnight showing of a Tarantino feature. There are only two screening rooms at the Filmatheque du Latin Quartier: the red room is Marlyn Monroe, the blue room is Audrey Hepburn. 

Watching Reservoir Dogs is like hanging out with your buddies every weekend, where you crack the same jokes and laugh at them anyway. Sitting at a midnight showing with lonely old men, young French couples and bored, chain-smoking students (male and female), you feel like you’ve been transported to another time. 

There are "the little differences" with a Parisian audience. Like Americans, they can’t wait to know what Madonna's Like a Virgin is really about, or Steve Buscemi’s stance on tipping. But they laugh at slightly different points. Certain pop culture references escape them. Yet when Stealer’s Wheel comes on with Stuck in the Middle with You, the anticipation and excitement in the room is universal. Like a quarter-pounder is to a royale with cheese, you’re in a moment that feels familiar and foreign at the same time. 

10. Strangers You Meet in Paris

It’s not conventional opinion, but the people my Jennie and I met in Paris were some of the friendliest we’ve encountered in all our travels. Perhaps it was a function of us visiting during the winter off-season, but I think it also has something to do with our expectations. 

I don’t enjoy attentive service or small talk. I much prefer a polite exchange of greetings and being left alone to have my conversation or to read my book. No complications. No rush. And this side of Japan, no country does leave-you-alone service better than the French. 

But then there are other moments, where Parisians have gone out of their way to be helpful. On our first walk outside our studio in the 10th arrondissement, an elderly man came up to Jennie and I, shook our hands, and asked us where we were from. At a restaurant, a young waitress translated an entire menu from French to English before we could stop her. Or the bartender who insisted we stay past their closing hours while we waited for a midnight movie. 

These are the stranger than fiction moments that I can’t explain, and they’re moments that we'll carry with us for the rest of our lives.