Daily Drawing Project

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January 1st, 2017

First painting of my project, Daily Drawing, in which I’ll draw every day for the rest of the year (hopefully). Every seven days I’ll feature that particular week’s daily drawings in a single post. Edit: Every 7 days, I’ll schedule out individual posts from the past week

What’s the purpose of the project? To, ah, improve my art, to consistently create new works, to push myself to make even when I’m lazy and doubting myself. This’ll be my new mantra:


Here’s a link to the project category.

“You’re Beautiful Just The Way You Are”

Doesn’t the notion of “you’re beautiful just the way you are” only reinforce the importance of beauty for girls? Even when the purpose of the phrase is to undermine society’s concept of beauty? i.e you may not look the way photoshopped magazine models do, but never fear, you’re still beautiful–

On the surface, it’s a positive concept. You’re beautiful, and beauty’s a good thing. Forget what society deems beautiful–you, alone, in all your imperfections, are beautiful.

But then I wonder what the male equivalent of this sentiment is–you’re strong just the way you are? You’re buff just the way you are? You’re loud just the way you are? Well, that’s not true. Might be a pervasive gender trope, but being a man doesn’t mean you’re strong or buff or loud just the way you are. And in the face of that reality, of falling short of social expectations, what are men told? They’re beautiful just the way they are? Not quite. There just isn’t–not that I can think of ATM–a male equivalent.

Although “you’re beautiful” and spreading this message of “listen here, girls, we are all beautiful!” Is uplifting in a sense, it just ends up reinforcing the importance of beauty. That, as a female, you can’t sidestep the significance of beauty. That whether it’s constructed by some amorphous blob called “society” or by your friends or yourself, beauty is still paramount, still inextricably tied to worth, and that you must be beautiful because–because beauty is something we all have and must have. It’s cyclical.

At the same time, I’m not necessarily saying that appearance doesn’t matter. Or that beauty doesn’t wield a certain sort of overt and covert social power. I’m more critical of how “you’re beautiful just the way you are” only seems to ground the importance of beauty in a way that skews female far more than it does male…when the entire purpose is to step away from social constructions of beauty. By repeating the message, you’re only inadvertently overemphasizing the significance of beauty for girls and women.


handsSometimes I don’t really know what to write, and then I think oh, you shouldn’t write for the sake of writing, you should write because–because you’re trying to write something. Because you’re trying to convey something. Because there’s a story you have to tell, a thought to flesh out, a destination to get to. You’re driving your point home.

But I don’t always have a point or a story or destination. And then I remember how I used to squirrel away hours just stabbing down words, stringing together sentences, writing whatever I wanted just because. Because it was fun and it made me happy and I didn’t really care if people read it or loved it or hated it. It was like rubbing on unscented lotion. It’s therapeutic, no one really knows you’re wearing it, and it’s something you do for yourself. You’re not trying to leave behind little scent fragments of yourself. You’re just doin’ you.

And I like how writing’s an avenue to sort things out. It’s like talking through a problem, but writing through ideas instead. I’ll start off with a nebulous idea of what I’m going for, or something I’m trying to get out and by the end of, oh, five or ten pages, I’ll have come to some conclusion. That, or at least have reached greater clarity on something than I would’ve if I hadn’t written it at all. Thinking is thinking: chaotic and constant. Feeling is feeling: sometimes uncontrollable and inexplicable and discomforting. Writing’s sorting through that. If my head were a tree raining varied thought-leaves, then writing’s my little rake.

Some Obscure Sorrow

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As I was cleaning the house, I stumbled upon college brochures to universities I ended up not going to. Meanwhile, the house had erupted in dust, my nose was running up a storm and I sat there wondering what this feeling might be called.

It reminded me of a site called the dictionary of obscure sorrows. True to its name, it includes obscure sorrow after obscure sorrow, from exulansis [n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate] to altschmerz [n. weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had.] Note: completely on empathy-board with the second one, particularly at 3AM as I jotted down: there’s no time elapsing space passing I’m just lying here still paralyzed and wishing–

And I wondered if there was a term for the sense of “would have, could have, should have (didn’t)”. Would have taken this path, could have gone down that road, should have backtracked, but in the end I didn’t. Every second, it seems, we’re veering left-right-and-center onto multiple forks on this road o’ life, making decisions that culminate into this giant knot of now. And now I’m wondering small thoughts like oh, what if I’d gone to this school? Been on this campus? What if, instead of being surrounded by city and lights, I’d been surrounded by, oh, trees and school buses? And maybe I’d have felt different but maybe I’d have felt the same, but I don’t think I’d be the same or that I’d be who I am now.

And I think that’s okay.

Sometimes there’s a voice in my head quoting something I must have read, and it goes: “has it ever occurred to you that maybe you are exactly where are you supposed to be?” Well. Not really. But then again, maybe I am and we all are, y’know, right where we’re supposed to be….

So despite whatever obscure sorrow this has yet to be coined, I look back and like to believe that there’s purpose, if not order. And even though sometimes the world seems to be blowing to shit and we’re huddled in fear and sadness and so much fear I think back to a poem I read and saved when I was 17:

as a reminder

the world is heavy but your bones (just a cubic inch) can hold 19,000 lbs

ounce for ounce
they are stronger than steel

atom for atom
you are more precious than diamond

and stars have died

so that you may live

Jiangyin, China


Jiang Yin is beautiful (and for a million reasons).

There is a certain gritty you-do-your-own-thing feel to the streets of China. They’re often crowded; the markets always are. Sometimes people push and shove but after a while you get used to it. Babies roam—sometimes with a watchful guardian’s eye tailing them, but usually not. Strays, quite frankly, don’t give a shit. They trot and they stumble and play by the people, who pay them no notice.

Cigarette smoke lingers in the air: at home, in the streets, in the markets. There’s a “NO SMOKING” tacked on the entrance of the “grocery market” (if you’d call it that—it’s more like a giant meat cafeteria) The butchers smoke anyways. I watch as the butcher chops our meat, takes a drag and picks up the RMB another smoker slaps down. First I peer at the smoke wisps. Then I dodge them.


The past week has mostly been spent with le fam. Over the weekend, my cousin returned from a neighboring province where he’s been working. Grandma says I’m prettier and that my skin resembles Putin’s (Thanks, G-Ma). My Chinese listening skills have improved and I can better understand Ma, Uncle and Grandma rattling on in their dialect; I take to sitting and quietly absorbing their conversations. During the weekdays, when time seems to go by slower, I wander around the neighborhood. I photograph strangers. I take it all in.

China feels like home. Can you fall in love with “home” over and over and over again? I think you can and I do every time.


2:04 AM


At two in the morning I’m never quite sure of what I’m doing anymore or what this is except that it feels a little like madness and I’m hell-bent on creating. Being consumed by art is familiar and reassuring and like being home again.

But it does not/will not/cannot replace the voltage you feel at 5 in the morning when you’re inching along and it suddenly dawns upon you: this fits. You fit. Then collapse on your bed in tired happiness and make poetry out of it in the morning. (Hearts handing out little paper milk cartons that read MISSING.)

In the cosmic blink of an eye we will be gone; in the cosmic flutter of a lash we’ll fall in love. With things like definitions and coppery fingers and catchy songs and awful hope. With deviant behaviors like smiling all the time and daydreaming through class. With rain and shadows that you skip-skip-skip through because you’re too busy, you’re too busy dreaming in the confusion and the emptiness.

Turtlin’ Around

introvert-cartoonInteracting with people’s like exhaling and being alone is like inhaling. Breathe in, and then out. But mostly in. After a while of interacting with others, I end up feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, like something in my body is screaming for solitude and I can’t breathe because people.

Sometimes I try being extroverted. Sort of.  I’ll venture out and make some new friends or go to a party, etc. But it’s unsustainable and tiring. To some extent, it’s fun, and I do like interacting with people in small, measured doses. But not for long. It’s like being a giant battery that’s drained by human interaction; the only way I can recharge is by being alone. Or being a turtle who finds solace in diving into its quiet shell, just turtlin’ around.

Color of Puce

I used to have a photoblog on Tumblr; ’twas a personal space where I’d upchuck photos, from selfies to texts to conversational screenshots. I feel pings of nostalgia as I revisit them. For a moment I forgot why I shut the blog down, stopped posting, ultimately privated it. Then I stumbled upon a brief explanation on why I wanted to start over, this time on WordPress:

June 2016

I’ve been traitorously blogging on a WordPress (coolpeppermint.wordpress.com) as of late i.e trying to rewrite my memory and put things to words again since I’m not as afraid to do so anymore. I spent the past year and a half mildly terrified of the 26 lettered alphabet and what sorts of public verbal atrocities I’d commit with it. But after some time I was like, you know, fuck it. Fuck it, I’ll write, I’ll paint, I’ll hide, I’ll draw, fuck it.

So, well, fuck it.

In some ways I feel like this photoblog has outlived its initial use (scared of words; photos seemed opaque enough) Even as a “photographer” or “artist”, images never felt enough, and while visuals are lovely they will never suffice. And there’s a lot of residue here: I made this in the midst of some severe soul-searching-crashing-self-annihilation bullshit. I also just want to write in a clean space.


So there you have it, and now I’m here.

I might photographically migrate over here when I get back into photography. Photos remind me of how much I love my life, even when I feel like I don’t. They capture moments, phrases, emotions, temperatures, memories, fragments–there’s something so exceedingly personal about photographs, a kind of visual intimacy.