Writing

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.

I am grateful for

February 26th, 2020

  1. A ceiling over my head – it stormed last night – the walls shook.
  2. Being able to work from home during the pandemic, and not being in a people-heavy industry.
  3. Having an education, which so many in the world do not have the opportunity to pursue.

February 25th, 2020

  1. My job and having a boss who took a chance on hiring a still-in-school graduate student. And he sent a small recognition note as well.
  2. Clean water to drink and use, especially during this time.
  3. The luxury of internet and virtual connectivity. Being able to log onto social media or google things without any thought to it.

February 24th, 2021

  1. Not having a ton of awful medical conditions. Being blessed to check a straight line down “No” at the doctor’s office when asked about chronic conditions…
  2. Having access to different types of foods. Being able to order Korean for lunch today, American BBQ yesterday, pizza the day before. Food is a privilege.
  3. The people who love me, who were offering to drive me to my appointment, just ’cause. For no real reason. Just to accompany me.

Like wells

I often think of that quote by Haruki Murakami. I might be quoting it wrong. I mean. I know I am. I made it ineloquent. But this is how it reads in my head, words running over the grooves of my mind–

People are like wells. You will never know what’s at the bottom. Only what comes floating to the top.

We are all multifaceted complex individuals. In the well of identities, different leaves and sediment appear at the surface. People peer in, content that the water is the same. This is who they know. But they will never truly see or understand everything at the bottom.

I note this with a little bit of sadness. Yet it’s not a new concept. I’m not shaken to my core by it. But it’s a bit sad, albeit true. That we may never fully know one another, and that others may never fully know you.

Motherland

We lived on the third floor. Outside, people hung their laundry. I’d peer at their linen waving in the wind, yellowed boxers, bras and shirts. Don’t air your dirty laundry. At night, I would hear cats squealing, cars honking. I’d wake up, startled, then fall back asleep.

During the daytime, I lounged around, bored. I flipped through magazines, peered at wide-eyed mixed models. Brushed against characters that I couldn’t read. Scrolled through Tumblr. Blogged. I cut my hair so short that I could barely tuck it behind my ears. NBA blared in the evening. We cheered for Steph Curry.

This was five years ago: I had a green-eyed dream. It involved a parking lot. An orange dress. I washed it so often it shrunk from a too-short dress to a too-long shirt.

On the plane to China I thought of the book The Five People You Meet In Heaven. It was haunting. And the stories were all one. Because it was nighttime where we were headed, the plane had dimmed. Everything was cast blue. People snored away. But I found it notoriously difficult to nap. So I stayed up around 17 hours, delirious with exhaustion. I watched lots of movies on the plane, but I forget which.

This post is part of my From The Artchives series, where I share digitized sketchbook art from several years ago.

Rambling

Is there ever a point when you look back at your writing and think, wow! I hate my writing? That’s where I’m at right now. I look at old drafts and hidden posts. It’s all just… cringe. And yet here I am, still typing away.

My private diary entries, on the other hand, are rambling, short, profane. Laced with profanities. One curse word after another. That’s how you know it’s straight from the stream. It’s a sailor’s potty.

Still debating, after five years of this blog’s existence, what to do with this blog. Who are you? What are you here for? Are you a diary? Journal? Or are you tidy and clean, artificially bright? Scheduled out posts that are prim and proper, brief and dapper? I do clean things up after a certain period of time. And it’s become a conglomeration of all three aforementioned categories in the past half-decade. I think this may be my longest and most consistent blog yet. I wonder if the semi anonymity and community have played a part.

I finished Pachinko and Boston Girl. The former was good. The latter was not. I have also been drawing a lot on my procreate app and watching Netflix on my iPad. I’m typing my iPad as we speak. It’s grown on me, I will admit.

Maybe I will structure my diary entries like I’m writing to an old friend. But that would be facetious, even though I don’t think I used the word properly. It would be facetious because I have failed to keep up with most, if not all, of my old friends. They have had to reach out, and even when they have, I have refused facetimes and left our conversations over brief texts.

I am perpetually between “I should talk to people and value connection” and “all I want is just to be left alone.” I’m very much like a cat in that respect. I do appreciate affection, but I also hate people. Still. I have my favorite people, even if I am roundabout about it. I also like to hide, wander and lounge. We were at a house showing when I slunk off, tired of listening, and they asked, where is she? And I was slinking through the alleyway as they looked up.

Maybe I will write to my future self. Something like that. I don’t know. I think that sounds silly. And I’ll be biased towards wondering what the future is like. Maybe I will write to an imaginary cat named Pillosky. Or maybe I will just stick to dear diary. Any opinions?

Illusion of productivity

Work. Fewer incessant meetings. At least this past week. I plan to email my manager(s) next week about not attending certain meetings to focus on being more productive in other areas. Excessive meetings are the bane of work. They offer the illusion of productivity. They are the enemy of focus. And yet we can’t say no. We accept every invite. People work after-hours when work should be done. But they can’t. Because they’re tied to meetings.

Even though everyone was bleary-eyed limp-tailed bright-voiced on camera, I dialed in these past few days. Turned my camera off, muted myself. Oh, she must be having a bad hair day! they chuckle. Yes, I am, I chuckle back. I just cannot not conform to appease others socially, not when it leads to hours of headaches and simmering irritation.

Quick Lu-pro tips to myself, shhh. Mild passive-aggression may be detected:

  1. Hide your calendar. You can decline or accept invites based on your willingness, not on others gauging your calendar and deciding you are available.
  2. Turn your status to ‘Busy’ so that people must ask you first if you are available. And if they don’t, and they call whenever, you are ‘Busy.’
  3. If you have nothing to contribute to the meeting, don’t go.
  4. If you have nothing to contribute to the meeting, but you are fine with attending, keep your video and audio off.
  5. On days you do not want your camera on, don’t turn it on. Nobody can pry the sticker off your camera. Literally. You’re all remote. They can laugh and probe, and you can chuckle right back.
  6. Decline sudden phone calls and meetings, if need be. Ping afterwards to say you’re unavailable.
  7. Only send thoughtful text-responses at the very end of the day. People have a tendency to not use their words to read and write and just call all willy-nilly. If I wanted a call, I would have called.
  8. The moment the clock hits 5 PM, turn the status to ‘Offline.’ Send the last email and promptly log off.
  9. You’re a 40 hour/week gal. Stick to it. Remember what your mentor said:

A job is where you get paid a certain amount of money to do a certain number of tasks for a certain organization.

I’ve carved out boundaries in regards to time. I’ve tested and poked around in leading and delegating. Delegating means less work for me. Teamwork means more time for us, overall.

But if the work ever ended, we would be out of jobs. The constant nature of projects, work and deadlines is paradoxical. Constancy binds us to the work, causes us grief, and yet, without the incessant work, we wouldn’t have work at all. It is, at once, obvious, and not.

This sobering realization, as I embark on this first month and a half of work, helps me take a step back. I’m happy to do what I can, within reason. I’m happy to push out good work. I’m happy to collaborate, so long as it isn’t mindless. And on a more personal level, work gives me something to do – a sense of accomplishment. On a professional level, it offers learning and development.

But I’m probably not going to change myself at a drop of a hat because of work. I’m probably not going to put in more than the allocated 40 hours because I just have to get it all done. I’m probably not going to marry myself to the organization, emotionally or mentally, because at the end of the day, I’m just headcount. On a fundamental level, on a personality level, I prefer to keep to myself, find one or two people I like.

I prefer writing over talking, so stop calling. I brainstorm on my own, not in a staticky room of 10 other people, so expect a page of written feedback, not spoken. I focus on tasks, not people. I could be more balanced, and I’m aware of that, but when I’m seeing red from all the unnecessary meetings, that’s when I reflect on ways to set boundaries.

Regardless of where I am, or who I work for, I am who I am. And there are things about myself that, at this point, I’m not willing to change. I’m not going to like team-building. I’m not going to gab my opinions in front of twenty people. I’m not going to pick up my phone to answer all the questions that could have been an email. I’m so introverted it hurts. It does.

People will look at you all funny for being introverted, but really, it’s okay to stand your ground. You do you. Even if it’s in your turtle shell, even if it’s in your corner, even if it’s in the quiet declined room of yours that’s not echoing with video calls.

City Ruins [35mm Film]

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February 2020. A warm day. I wore a black sweater and jeans. I looped on my fake earrings from Claire’s. I had bought them at the mall with an old friend. We’d tried them on a whim, and I liked the way they looked, even if they made my lobes scream after a few hours. 

On this day, we drove into a city further north. Parked a ways from the square. In the shade, by the parking meter, it was cool. The streets here were empty. Le beau clinked in the coins and we set off. 

We passed by shops, apartments, a yawning square. People milled about. Are you hungry? Yes. We found a place famous for their brunch. We weren’t the only ones with this idea: people snaked throughout brunch shop. We contemplated waiting around for an open table, but to no avail. So I suggested we order out, then eat by the fountains. 

Later, as we crossed the street, a kermit-green car bounced its way to the stoplight, blasting Doja Cat. This was when she new on the scene, this bubblegum watermelon lady with long nails interviewing with a British man. This was before we stopped listening to her. We marveled at the car: the driver zipped off. A hundred yards out front, a party of motorcyclists zoomed off onto the street. They left a puff of smoke behind them.

This post is part of my Film Friday series, where I post 35mm images that I have taken and developed by hand.  

Night Walks

It’s foggy and cool outside. We wear beanies to keep dry from the drizzle. The lake is calm. A mist hangs above the water, clings like quiet lint. A gaggle of ducks are all ducked into their chests, sleeping, napping, silhouettes in the night.

The reflections of the townhome blur by the lake. The lights are fuzzy. Thick rings. We walk, side by side, by the lamps and the townhome. We take our usual route by the houses and balconies, admire the homes here.

There is something so peaceful about late night walks.

From the Artchives

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Sketchbooks. Scattered across my home. Black and pleathery. Brown, smooth. They lie in bookshelves, gathering dust. Some pages are filled with paint. Others are scratched out: frustration, collages, accidents.

I remember when I used to carry my sketchbooks everywhere with me. I’d rummage around for scraps, like perfume samples or old comics. Glue them in. Draw, paint, experiment. Then I would forget about them. The art, the books. It’s been this way for the past decade or so.

Recently, I began to digitize my sketch books. In an effort to revive old forgotten art, I’ve decided to start a From The Artchives project. On Sketchbook Saturdays, I’ll share a piece or two (or four or nine) from way back when.

Stay tuned.

Doodles

At first, I figured this iPad was mostly and only good for the procreate painting app.

Over the past week, I feel like I’ve unlocked drawing heaven: I have an app to doodle in, an app to sketch in, an app to jot dreams in. It’s like having a million digital notebooks all stored in one place. It’s glorious.

It’s funny: in school, teachers assumed I wasn’t paying attention because I was drawing. But drawing is one of the only ways I can focus: otherwise, I zone out.

Been feeling pretty small and quiet in presence lately. Turning inwards a lot. Drawing, reading, taking pictures. I should share those on here more often, but I’ve been forgetting…

Drift

It appears that I’ve been blogging. I haven’t.

I haven’t touched this platform in about a month. But sometime in early September, I decided I would schedule out my film posts. At the time, I thought December was far out – February would take a long time to get here. And now here we are, almost halfway through January. I never thought 2021 was going to be markedly better than 2020, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be worse. Maybe it was naïvete. Wry optimism.

But I won’t look ahead, behind, or anywhere. Except at this faintly blue screen. I got lost in sorting the laundry today. Lost in my thoughts. There’s something so soothing about pairing socks up together. Finding the ones that match. Mindless focus. You drift and you drift. You drift comfortably and forget where you are.

I need to read Pachinko. I checked out the book once and then it was overdue so I returned it, but by the time I returned it, I realized that I liked it. But I didn’t want to get fined $200 again, so I returned it. Then I checked it out again. A few months later. The books are still in my car, disinfecting, presumably, but mostly forgotten. I need to get the book out tomorrow.

Not until I’m through the six–yes, six–meetings I have tomorrow. I’ve come to realize that virtual meetings are the new illusion of productivity. Whereas before, the illusion of productivity was showing up to work. Now, it’s showing up to endless virtual meetings. It makes you wonder how anything gets done when everyone’s perpetually in meetings. They meet and meet and meet and meet. It wasn’t just that one organization–it’s all of them. Think of all the wasted money and productivity on excess meetings… it’s marvelous to…marvel at.

And graduate classes kick back up in a week. Ho, hum.

When I’m in a pleasant mood, there are all sorts of creative things I want to do. I want to draw. I want to shoot film. I want to share film. I want to write. I want to read. But when I’m not feeling pleasant, it’s shrinking into a–a–coral. A shrunken coral at the bottom of the ocean.

I must be in a pleasant mood, then, because now I want to do creative things. Maybe it’s just the WordPress effect. I’m here, I’m talking, I want to share.

Drift with me…

Double Exposed [Film Friday]

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December 12th, 2020

I ended up picking a Murakami book—nothing wild—that started with a depressive narrator ruminating over death. Ruminating, because some people closest to him, people who he’d felt a special, unique bond to, had abruptly rid of him in their lives. He felt like an empty loner, a vessel, like he repelled everyone in his life. That’s what he concluded.

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As he dated, the girl noted that he seemed to have blocked emotional channels, and that something was holding him back, and that this likely was. She urged him to confront these people after 15 years, find out where they were, and to speak to them.

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So he goes out and plans to understand what, after all these years, happened, so that he can finally move past it and let go.

Meanwhile, his friends speaks to him about his father’s trip to the mountains, where he meets a man that explains the gift of death and the subsequent ability to see auras, be in tune consciously, and to simply expand in knowing. Afterwards, the narrator seems to see an astrally projecting friend.

img084He sets out to find the friends who had left him. He speaks with him. He shows up, unannounced, ready to just talk. The friend works at a car dealership. He’d been a smooth football player when they were friends. So he invites the narrator into his office. They talk about the passing of a friend.

This post is part of my Film Friday series, where I post 35mm images that I have taken and home-developed over the past year. 

Billow

When I enter the home, there’s a billow of warmth. I associate this with Christmas: winter’s biting contrast. Orange lights. Woody smells. Space heaters scattered across the floor.

I think of all the things that made me love the holidays. Not gifts or merchandise. More of the intangibles. Like the bustle of people at the mall two weeks before Christmas. Frantic scramble of bags and families and lines and cashiers. Smell of gingerbread. Mariah belting out on the radio the day after Thanksgiving, Jingle of Christmas spirit. Tunes on the antique radio at the banh mi shop. Sound of mall Santa in his snowy cotton beard, his bellows drowned out by the sound of mini trains skating across the grounds.

Family. Family photos. The black tights and tight black dress. The brown boots and fur coats. People crowding around the Nutcracker for a family photo, waiting their turn. The crunch of overpriced glossy nuts. The chill of ice sculptures and articulacy made snow hills. Restaurants swimming in orders and beers and chit chat. Lights, lights everywhere.

Then the quiet crackle of fire on the rare Christmas days we would have it up. Even the artificial one, like the one that crisply played on the television screen as we drank dark cinnamon drenched mulled wine. Orange peels had floated in the mulled wine, I remember, as I had scooped cup after cup. Warmth of family, friendship, fake fires, and fruity wine.