Scramble

feb 3

Five unpublished drafts later, here I am. 1:18 PM. On the cusp of one phase of life, toppling headfirst in the next. Still mentally wrapping my head around the past month, the past week, the past year. Jostling, jostling. The nerve of productivity. The confusion of comfort.

Work training in a few, this time in a different ‘arena’ than the one I’d previously been dabbling in. I think I’ll be juggling my focuses this next year or so. Most likely. I won’t be focusing on this nearly as much. There’s another focus. A broader one. One that’s weirdly intimidating but also weirdly not.

My brain’s a little fried. Sluggish. Maybe it’s the warmth. Or people’s slow walking pace. Or going from one mentality to the next. Or switching goals rapid-fire. I’ve been feeling extraordinarily sensitive to pressure–even in the most minute amounts. Maybe it had something to do with the past week. The past year, on the whole, was laid-back. I’m not so sure about this next one. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. I’m not going to burst a vessel for anything.

None of this probably makes any sense. I’m struggling to put together coherent thoughts into coherent sentences, but the former is lacking, and now, too, is the latter. (I wonder if I use too many commas.)

I’ve also been falling behind on my daily art project. I’m making compensatory pieces, semi-cheating, but oh well. I don’t know how else to catch up at the moment. I usually post pieces from a week prior, but my entire schedule was overturned the past week. It was all this past week! And suddenly I’m scrambling to put the pieces together.

Contemplating getting back into film photography. It’s a lot less daunting than DSLR digital photography. Maybe I’ll do it to regain a sense of aesthetics, something like that. In the meantime, I’ll finish up my daily art posts, get all caught up, and perhaps go back to posting daily. That seemed to keep me on track. But I’ll decide on that later.

Off to work training. Wish me luck on unscrambling my head.

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Heart

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SO you take it upon yourself to judge the content of someone’s heart without ever having the chance to rip open a chest to peer inside. Instead you look at the way their arms flail or their facial expression, the way they extend a hand or recoil in fear. On a bench or through a friend of a friend, you decide on which adjectives you’ll use to describe this heart.

You decide that:

the heart is open, the heart is cold, the heart is kind, the heart is distant, the heart is hardened, the heart is shut-off, the heart is readable, the heart is murky, the heart is big. The heart is stony. The heart is a million things except for what it simply is: a heart.

It never occurs to you that: maybe we’re all just wasting our time trying to superimpose these value judgments on an organ. But that doesn’t stop us.

City

The city is tired, the city is alive. The city is moving, the city lies still. A stop motion. A slow motion. When the light turns green I cross anyway, counting down the milliseconds, swiveling my sight in circles.

The city, from far away, sparkles and sprinkles and glitters and glows. Juxtapositions sit at every street corner. The homeless slump by the chatty elite, carry cardboard signs by their fine wine glasses. Angry bright lights glare. Still cold lampposts hang. I play the streets by ear, following the crowd, hoping to god that I’m moving southeast, not north.

The city overwhelms. Screams, honks, turns right because it’s right on red. Showers rain like a garden hose lite, like a childhood treat on summery southern days. Spinning and laughing in a one-piece, now cold and shuddering in jorts, jean shorts.

The city is zha. A mess. Tight cold fear plus high strung steps. I quicken my pace as the alleyways add up and it’s no longer hipster city. I hear there are Cambodian gangs by sixth and that it ain’t pretty up North but in the South it’s just fine. Just fine. Except at home, I whisper–like it’s a curse word and I’m a clean-mouthed spiritual believer–this would be the ghetto.

The city houses nail salon after nail salon. Our nail salon’s next to the gas station. Open doors. First breeze of summer wafts in. A woman with acrylic stuck in her nail drifts in, “you can remove this?” You don’t want new nails? A new coat? “Nah, just get rid of this.” Five minutes later she leaves muttering under her breath because she doesn’t want to soak them-she wants to rip them off.

The city is gritty, the city is loud, the city is terrifying, the city is striking, the city is cold. I skip down the steps to the train, slot in my coins, smile at the receiver who seems unusually patient and friendly. I pace my way back and forth as I wait stonily for the trolley.

The city is a million breaths at once, all breathing, breathing, breathing. And I’m afraid–once in love, but now just afraid.

Reflections

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Now you can say you’ve had Vietnamese butter barbecue.

Seafood sizzles on the family-style butter doused griddle. Hot pockets of grease bubble onto my wrist as I turn the onions. My best friend gingerly puts the salmon on its side, browning slowly, as I stab a squid into the griddle. Ssssss.

We sit in silence. I contemplate the comfort of home, a home, of my best friend’s home, where I feel free to be myself and accepted for who I am. Her parents’ eyes still bug out each time they peer over and I’m there, in the backseat, unannounced for the 10th time, spacing out. They gasp. I chirp hello.

Over the cash register we order our three cups of gelati, Italian ice combined with vanilla ice cream. It’s a dessert-y paradise. Sweet, light pineapple ice combined with rich and creamy vanilla bean. The sun sets behind us as we stand by the parlor, eating quietly, plastic spoons scraping against blue paper cups. How do you reconcile a disliking of people with the desire to help them? By cognitively differentiating between patient and stranger. So are you still having a spat? Yes, but it’s not personal.

disposable film 35mm photography

This might be the last best friend sleepover in a while. The fact that I’m done with undergraduate is slowly sinking in–emphasis on slowly. It’s coming in bits and pieces, waves and wrinkles, unraveling, unraveling. All I’ve been able to think about, day and night, is this path forward, the one beyond undergraduate life. I wake up thinking about it, think about it during the day, go to bed thinking about it, sleep while thinking about it. Repeat. I think of how fiercely I admire those in this field, then dream of mentors.

Months ago, the ‘future’ seemed muggy and incoherent. I could barely see past the next five, ten, fifteen years. Now, the ‘future’ has solidified into something uncomfortably rigid, and if I really wanted to, really wanted to, maybe I could look past the next thirty or forty years. Life will life, but the least I can do is plan.

Yesterday, I took my final test; today, I turned in my final essay (which really wasn’t a final essay, just some bullshit revised version of something I’d written months ago). I don’t want to say I coasted the past few years, but I did–I cruised along at one of the nation’s top uni’s, did well academically, interned each summer, managed my relationships, went on trips and vacations, and was, overall, fairly healthy and happy. I walked in, relatively lost and confused, ready to leave and never turn back. I’ll return, this time with dogged determination, goals, a handful of good people in my life, and renewed appreciation for what I’d taken for granted.

So there’s no use in looking back and lamenting what other routes I could have taken. I took the one I did, and it’s led me to where I am now. All I can do is look ahead, and barrel on forwards.

100 Books Reading Challenge

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Started a reading challenge project mid-spring. The goal: read 100 books by summer in a year. I’m inching along, albeit at a slower pace than I’d like. Figured posting the list on my blog would hold me accountable–also, I get to share cool books!

So here’s a list of books I’ve reading; I plan to update every 10 books or so. If you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them! 🙂

  1. One! Hundred! Demons!, Lynda Barry
  2. James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
  4. Here, Richard McGuire
  5. Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks
  6. Burned, Ellen Hopkins
  7. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling
  8. Walking Dead 1, Robert Kirkman
  9. Walking Dead 2, Robert Kirkman
  10. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelous
  11. Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur
  12. Partner Track, Helen Wan
  13. Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen
  14. Kafka, R. Crumb
  15. Project Jennifer, Jill Rosenblatt
  16. Dignity, Donna Hicks
  17. Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant, Roz Chast
  18. Ginny Moon, Benjamin Ludwig
  19. Autobiography of Barefoot Gen, Nakazawa Keji
  20. Meow Meow, Jose Fonollosa
  21. Beautiful Darkness, Fabien Vehlmann
  22. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  23. The Skin Above My Knees, Marcia Butler
  24. Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With), Daisy Goodwin
  25. Sailing Alone Around the Room, Billy Collins
  26. Future Tense, Paintings by Alex Gross
  27. Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling
  28. Thirst, Poems by Mary Oliver
  29. Global Street Art, Lee Boffkin
  30. Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami
  31. Vintage Cisneros, Sandra Cisneros 
  32. Have You Seen Marie, Sandra Cisneros
  33. Woman Hollering Creek, Sandra Cisneros
  34. The Quiet Eye: A Way of Looking at Pictures, Sylvia Judson
  35. Blue Nights, Joan Didion 
  36. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
  37. This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz
  38. The Embassy of Cambodia, Zadie Smith
  39. Love Mad Poems, Rumi
  40. The Wolves In The Walls, Neil Gaiman
  41. Forms of Distance, Bei Dao
  42. 73 Poems, E.E. Cummings
  43. The Love Bunglers, Jaime Hernandez
  44. Little Book of Little Stories
  45. Shoplifer, Michael Cho
  46. Rick & Morty Comics
  47. Fresh Complaiment, Jeffrey Eugenides
  48. Stone Butch Blues, Leslie Feinberg
  49. White Teeth, Zadie Smith
  50. South and West, Joan Didion
  51. Dear Dumb Diary
  52. Stories Julian Tells, Ann Cameron
  53. Stitches, David Small
  54. Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom
  55. Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka
  56. Pretty: Stories, Greg Kearney
  57. Night Watch, Malin Lindroth
  58. Constance and the Great Escape, Pieere Le Gall 
  59. Rapunzel, Paul Zelinsky
  60. Jane and the Fox & Me, Isabelle Aresenault 
  61. I’ve Loved You Since Forever, Hoda Kobb
  62. Corduroy, Don Freeman
  63. Buck, MK Asante
  64. Chemistry, Weike Wang

(Updated May 4th, 2018)

Pursuit of Handlettering | Daily Art

Swoops, dips, presses: calligraphy’s a precarious dance between ink and brush control. Recently, I’ve been toying with watercolor calligraphy, handlettering with paint instead of ink. The past week of Daily Art pieces was spent experimenting with styles, sizes and fonts.

april 23 and 24

4.22| Daily Art

With a stiffer, thinner brush and concentrated watercolors, I’ve been able to produce cleaner and brighter texts:

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4.23 & 4.24| Daily Art

It’s had a recent resurgence in popularity over the past year, littering blogs and IG. Inspired by style, curious about the form, I got a calligraphy pen last summer, black tip marker from the local crafts store with the inspirational quote notebooks and books on minute physics.

So I took a stab–metaphorically and literally–at handlettering. The letters turned out a bit  uneven. And it was hard to get clean edges, at least on white paper. Part of it had to do with my wobbly hand, but the marker itself also wasn’t terribly ink-y, so it’d lose ink halfway. (I’d also use the marker to sketch cartoon-esque portraits)

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4.25 & 4.26 | Daily Art

I tried using watercolor brushes for both the handlettering and designs, but the text ended up looking bubbly instead of sharp, childish instead of sophisticated. This, in part, had to do with the actual brushes I was using–the brush hair wasn’t stiff enough, so it didn’t hold the paint well enough to create the crisp edges I was going for.

calligraphy

In contrast, I’ve been using a thinner, finer brush as of late, which makes a pretty huge difference. Personally, I prefer the more recent brush (first two sketches) versus the earlier ones.

april 29

4.27 & 4.28 | Daily Art

I’d like to practice more, and I was thinking of handlettering blog names on WordPress. If you’d like for me to paint your blog name/url, feel free to either contact me or comment below, with the name of your blog and your favorite color. 🙂

Hyperaware

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Last night I was flipping through old blog entries on a WordPress I’d quietly started and ended in 2015. It was relatively private and small. I’d regurgitate lumps of thoughts and ideas and images whenever I felt it. Like a Tumblr 2.0, but with an even smaller audience. And I’d write about artists, lost love, friendships, changes, work and interning.

In the two years I’ve had this blog, it’s grown a lot, from 0 pairs of eyeballs to upwards of 2,300. Which isn’t a bad thing–it’s good!–but it has, admittedly, has made me more self-conscious. I wonder more about how personal I can be on here, whether I can jot down many of the thoughts careening through my mind, all the heavy and light moments, all the bouts of nostalgia, all the phrases and poems and artists and inconsequential phrases fluttering through.

Even though my post on Writing emphasized this idea of letting yourself go, writing without fear or expectation, it can be easier said than done. But at the end of the day, I just have to go back to the heart of it all: writing for yourself.

Because, ah–I’m not here writing to gain readers, or sell products, or to chummy and address everybody in the audience. I’m not here to “increase engagement” or “drive traffic” or “improve my SEO.” I’m not here to be glib, or salesy, or even properly entertaining, because honestly, not everything I write will be remotely entertaining. Sometimes it’ll be mundane or I’ll drone on or write about nothing at all, and that’s okay, too.

If I remind myself that I’m here to write for myself–because that’s what this blog ought to be, a personal creative bubble–then maybe it’ll be easier to write without feeling hyper-aware of everything else around me.