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)

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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.

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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.

Lost in my Mind

Scarlet scarfs frayed at the edges. Orange-yellow bulbs of life, warm against the blue black bruises of the cold outside. Home is a phone call away.

The coffeeshop is empty, save for the hawkish worker with the light eyes who started a few years ago. He wasn’t here when I was ten, when this place was new, and I only ever asked for mango smoothies.

And it’d come out artificial-creamy sweet, rich sun yellow against a dollop of white. I’d scoop out the whipped cream with the outer edge of my straw, slurp it into a pathetic heap at the corner I couldn’t reach.

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Familiar strumming overhead. A lollying tune, an indie low-whine. Drawn out wail of a banjo and musician who sounds like he sports a beard and wears pea-green jackets with camo sleeves,

Lost in my mind, lost in my mind, I’ve been lo-o-o-o-st—

They play this song every time I come in. It’s on the coffeeshop playlist, and it always has ben, unchanging, carved in time, shaping my own musical preferences as I bury my head in words.

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Insomnia. There’s a softened edge to memory, to memory’s memory of insomnia, to memory’s memory of the insomniac’s late-night thoughts. Other things mattered then, trivial things, mind-numbing replays of the inconsequential, and that was what kept me up.

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The things that matter now stand in sharp relief against the mindset I’d held then.

Sun streams in through the window. On five hours of sleep, I crawl out of bed.

At this coffeeshop, littered with people working hard and hardly working, I order nothing from the bar. I bring a water in. I peruse through reddit and creepypasta and play psychic word games. When I pass the counter, the barista jokes about throwing out my water container, but I can’t tell if it’s a joke, so I laugh as though it is, and throw the water out.

Overheard, Lost in my Mind plays. And for a moment, I’m enmeshed in the warm cocoon of nostalgia, buried in tunnel vision.

Sunny Skies Ahead

Here are daily art pieces from April 15th to April 22nd, in keeping with my new posting schedule.

In all frankness, the past week’s been okay–mostly a mixture of irritability and relaxation. Despite the relative lack of work, the slew of group projects made me more high-strung than usual.

Aside from that, though, I spent half the week at my best friend’s place, where we (or mostly I) lounged around, played Fortnite, chatted on the phone and slurped up noodles after noodles. We started the weekend with a roundabout trip to Chili’s, and ended it with gelati, a mixture of Italian ice and ice cream.

I’m looking ahead; it’s the final stretch. I’m anticipating sunnier days ahead, dreaming of the beach, shutting my eyes, peering over the balcony of somewhere tropical. It won’t be nearly that sunny or beachy, but the thought’s getting me through the weeks. april 16

Toying with pastel-colored paints. There’s something so dreamy and slow and beautiful about clouds.

4.15.18 | Daily Art


april 17 and 18th

West-coast cliches, like California dreaming, palm trees swaying in the wind. I’ve been fantasizing about the beach, of sprawling under the sun, marmy, sleepy, toasty.

4.16.18 | Daily Art


april 15

Sunset, and sunrise.

4.19.18 | Daily Art


april 19

A mojito, please, and here’s our ID. I had my first mojito at the Venezuelan place downtown, the one with the meat pockets so good I stashed a palmfull in my purse. The lime and mint mojito paired with it perfectly.

4.20.18 | Daily Art


april 21

It’s remarkable when somebody understands. 99.9999% of people don’t understand, can’t understand, probably won’t ever understand. And it isn’t through any fault of their own: to understand is a true feat, really, and to expect it from others is a tall damn order. Even when it comes to close friends, or family, you can’t expect another person to know entirely where you’re coming from.

So you can imagine my borderline astonishment when, after confiding in my best friend a personal experience, she empathized with it in a heartbeat. She relayed her own experiences, mirror images of my own, back to me. I’d had my words fall on so many deaf ears in the past, to the point that I felt like a real odd one out. To have had them fall on an understanding one, years later, was absurd and comforting. To others, it’d marked deviance, something unjustifiable. To her, it was utterly normal. I only wished we’d been friends earlier.

4.21.18 | Daily Art


WHALE

A deep-sea dive into the beauty of watercolors, of mixing and blending. The technique I used here is called wet-on-wet watercolors, where you paint an invisible watery layer, then dot it with pigment. It creates a beautiful watery effect, as with the adorable diving whale above.

4.22.18 | Daily Art

Insomniac’s Rmble

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The insomniac has a song. It’s not a song, it’s a warble. It does math problems at 1:29 in the morning and curses at small bladders. It tallies up why the studies show that we lose two friends for every romantic relationship you gain and why it doesn’t matter. I kept things from you anyways. 

It ruminates over slander, and how it can’t be slander if it’s true.

The insomniac has a cry. A cry about blacklisted tags. About puffs of light brown, one, two, minus three. On existentialist concerns, but mostly practical ones. On critical tirades, on bi-monthly tantrums. And nightmarish things. This is why you don’t binge horror on a plane.

The insomniac has a dream. A daydream. An elaborate daydream about coconut cream and custard and condensed milk at the cusp of a cup. It wants to listen. All it wants to do is listen. And it dreams, more, of listening. Of evolving into a massive, massive ear. So tight-lipped, you are.

A Crime of Beauty

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Crumbling concrete walls. Dilapidated trains. Bleak subway entrances. Clouds of vaguely formed color snake their way across the surface. Street art. It’s become an integrated chunk of most cities. In every city I’ve visited–Chicago! NYC! Austin! Philly! LA!–I’ve been on the look-out. From creeping ghost-monsters to blasé kitties giving viewers the bird to colorful blocks of illegible tags, the pieces have covered a whole range of wild, beautiful subjects.

It wasn’t until this past summer that I got a wee taste of making street art. My boyfriend and I went to Graffiti Park, mere white spray can in tow, and sprayed a massive (mediocre) face on the wall. It was lopsided; I tried again. It was still lopsided, puffy and dripping. I realized that, as effortless street art appears, it’s harder than it looks.

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Over the summer, I checked out a book on the history of graffiti, which massively broadened my understanding of the art. In the US, its roots stemmed from the 20’s, and sprouted up in New York and Philly. By the 60’s and 70’s, it has its resurgence. Artists would claim fame through uniquely tagged names. They’d graffiti up subways, freeway sides, walls and trains with nicknames and distinctive styles.

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Every single [train] car was tagged by massive, puffy graffiti, not yet appreciated as the important art movement and political statement it would become. It was a crime of beauty.

– The Skin Above My Knee, Marcia Butler

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Since then, it’s evolved from being a mark of underground illegal edginess to a form of twenty first century semi-exalted art.

Nowadays, street art occupies a funny place in society; few things parallel it. It’s respected, it’s looked down upon. It’s art; it’s trash. It’s revered; it looked down upon. It’s subversive. It’s not. It flouts authority; it’s sanctioned by authority. It ignores its surroundings; it flirts with its surroundings. It composes its surroundings.

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It thumbs its nose at–speaks to–argues with–its surroundings. Unlike traditional art, street art isn’t confined to cold empty eerie rooms, shrunken beneath towering white space. Instead, it yawns over piers and stone blocks and garage wall, to the delight of phone cameras and tourists and passerby’s.

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