To nobody in particular–

I broke my ‘no caffeine after 12’ rule. I had two cups of coffee, one decaf, and stopped by the local Indian market for masala chai (or chai masala, whichever it is) I broke my ‘no caffeine after 12 rule’ so that’s why it’s 1 and I’m on my phone, eyes bleary, legs jumpy.

Apparently one of my students cried after seeing how well he did. And admittedly I teared up when I heard how another did. I’m apprehensive about my later students, though. I sometimes feel as though I can sense these things, and I felt like something would be off and lo and behold, failure memes galore. My stomach sank a little. I had woken up to two emails from parents, effusive in gratitude and kindness. I said thank you, so or so is so or so brilliant etc, and I wish her the very best etc.

But ah, we will see. The next few weeks will be interesting. Truthfully, I’m just taking life as it comes.

The chai was okay. It tasted too milky, and then too authentic. And so I sipped it three more times before I liked it. But it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, so I think I’ll finish this box and buy a new brand next time.

A few days ago, I fell in love with a hamster at the pet store. My heart still aches when I think of his soft fur. I desperately want a pet, but dogs smell, cats are sheddy, hamsters live too-short lives, and rabbits are scarce. Sigh. He looked like a mound of snow with a slightly muddied head. I had already cycled through names (snow? Cotton? Rufus?) but ended up not buying him. Then I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I grow attached quite quickly to little creatures.

Audible sigh. I’ve already found most of my graduate school resources and outlined all the chapters in the textbook because my mind gets so numbingly restless. It screams to organize information and consume knowledge.

On another note, irks me when people shit on reading. I can understand how much of a disadvantage it puts kids at when they can’t read efficiently. (As my eighth grade Latin teacher once said, “you know when you call a subject stupid because you don’t get it? Well, the subject’s not stupid. You are.”) Efficient literacy is a hard skill to teach and have. I’d prefer to teach math over reading comprehension any day, because logic I can explain, but written nuance? shit.

I could ramble on about the advantages of effective literacy and this impact on the education gap, but it’s 1:30 and I’m exhausted because I broke my ‘no caffeine after’…well, you get it.

Another midnight letter addresses to nobody in particular. Regards, warmly, have a blessed day. From, me.

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Art Display

My art exhibit is up! And it’s the first public display I’ve ever done.

I remember my first “collection” display. It was a school one. We spent saturday and sunday mornings framing our pieces. At the show, on some school night, students and parents filed in, casual dress. I remember how I had staggered my pieces and how I ended up dissatisfied but how it was too late to change it. My works were okay, but the display didn’t look as good as I had hoped. I think a few people commented, but mostly people oohed and aahed at students on the other side of the room.

I didn’t really like the old ‘contemporary’ stuff I used to do. There were lots of bloody noses and whited out eyes, strange doodles and abstractions. I’d float around in photographic pieces. I embraced mental illnesses in my personal project. I loved psychology so much that I was blind to the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I’d look up various ailments, then attempt to embody them. That was in my larger work, the paintings and photographs.

I think the experimental part of my sketchbooks, angry and loud and messy, was still better than my more recent doodles. My art has gone downhill in the past few years. It’s mostly because I haven’t practiced art as much. Even so, I think I’ve been able to find steady footing in a more traditional, fine art style. I didn’t do landscape paintings much when I was younger; now I do. My portraits weren’t very hyperrealistic then; now, more are.

These works are more mainstream, probably frowned upon by contemporary art purveyors. But I’ll say it now and I’ll say it loud: contemporary art sucks. Yes, artist, you can paint large purple squares. We all can. This child can. This child is! But your artist’s name alone commands millions, so let’s just waste space, literal gallery space, on big yellow triangles. If you can’t tell, I am disgruntled at our current culture’s embracing of bad art. I don’t know how there is such a large disconnect between common-sensical taste and the scribble-loving highbrow gatekeepers of art culture.

I just saw the netflix film velvet buzzsaw. It got bad reviews from critics, probably because it was a huge satire on the critic industry. The laughed-at tropes were spot on. Spoiler alert! I mean, from the tormented emotional mentally unstable artist to the critic’s overly-big-words to the trash-as-art scene, it was too apt. A comedy and horror all rolled into one. Less fear and more suppressed giggles.

But ah, yes, back to the art. The real art, the real exhibit. This morning. A handful of people chatted with me about the art, their own lives and experiences. Do you teach? No. Are you selling? Er, yes. Is this your job? No. And then a woman and I sat down and talked about art and writing, and she showed me her photos.

I kind of miss having conversations with strangers in regards to random art-related things. I miss it a lot, actually. I’ve struck up so many conversations with strangers while holding a sketchbook or camera alone. It’s interesting how those tools of expression will spark up a comment, a friendly smile, a fullblown conversation. I’ve made friends by simply bringing sketchbooks to coffeeshops. There’s so much to learn from other people. I mean, it’s odd, but maybe not, that we don’t normally go around talking to random strangers. I enjoy it–maybe I will start to draw more in real life. Maybe I will meet people, and maybe I will not.

In the past 10 hours, somebody has left a voicemail. Another has left a comment on my wordpress saying the blog ads looked unprofessional. Well, sir, I’m a mere hobbyist who made the site two weeks before the display. My site isn’t really to sell–it’s just an online display. Ah, ads aside–it just makes me happy that my art is no longer sputtering dust in the closet (!!!)

2018

Yesterday I sat quietly, contemplating the year, hard, when boyfriend asked what was wrong. Oh, nothing, just thinking of what I’d done in 2018…

The whole thing flew by, a quick blur of monthly chunks. Early winter was a time of its own; I remember posts I’d written then, sleepovers I’d had and conversations I’d written. The wildly crowded club, the quiet best friend’s home, the football win and celebratory wings. I took lots of pictures and drew a lot for the newspaper, holed up in my warm room.

And then I graduated from my dream school! I’d dreamt of going there since I was 14, this summery bright Ivy League, though I’d visited on a rare bright spring day when everyone had their couches out. Turns out it was much colder there. Despite the weather, graduating in the cold and rain was still a bit of a dreamless dream.

Spring brings summer brings warmth brings life. Fiddling flowers on the walk to starbucks. Switching into pink tank tops and white flip flops. In lecture I felt my heart swell. I had an life epiphany of what I’d like to do for the rest of it–my life, I mean. And the whole turning around to face my deepest passion, psychology, that whole spiel. And now it’s a small engine propelling me forwards.

In 2018 spent a good amount of time with people I love–friends and family. We stayed up talking, on the verge of tears, hearts bursting. Back home, welcome home, like things had never changed. Shared meals, watched shows, skipped through the rain. Roadtrips, Netflix cuddles, six flags rides, sing song bonding. I look back, and am grateful for these relationships.

Blazing mid summer, spinning fall. I taught, which I’ve always loved to do, and watched some students wildly succeed. It makes me happy to be around good people, and to help people do well, and to have all-around healthy relationships. I also did a bit of relationship pruning here and there, but nothing dramatic. I remember learning in psychology that older people are often happier, particularly within their social circles. With age, they learn to simply avoid people who cause them grief.

Weirdly warm winter. Despite my aversion to traveling, I skipped to six cities. California was the most recent, but alas, I am still too lazy to write about it. And today is the New Year, but the day itself was special to me. Last night I partook in their steak dinner tradition and clinked cups at midnight, eyes weary. Today, we went to see beautiful lights and decor and a freezing ice sculpture show. At home, we wrapped dumplings to r&b and sicko mode, my very-abc way of welcoming 2019.

So 2018 was a year of academic finishes, life epiphanies, moments spent with people I love. It was a year I began pursue my deepest passion, a year to do things I’ve always enjoyed (teach!). I look forward to 2019, and hope it has good things in store.

right now | journal

  • Feeling peaceful in life, feeling mellow.
  • In the midst of the holidays, I melt in lights and tear-strewn repeats.
  • Spent a bit of time in California, basked in the wildly good weather. Looming palm trees and winding roads. Garlic butter pasta by Santa Monica pier.
  • A Christmas Eve decked with hot pot and sweet sauce and elaborate light decor.
  • There was heavy traffic today by the mall, impossibly heavy, but a light shone on a (godly) empty spot. Frigid outsides warm insides.
  • I drew at the Apple store, drew and chatted with strangers, drew and added the Apple tech.
  • (Phone promptly died afterwards. The irony)
  • Boyfriend and I watched Mean Girls tonight after grabbing thai for dinner.
  • Earlier today, I went ice skating at another mall, and taught her how to push-glide. Push glide, push glide. We looked for checkered skirts.
  • This morning I made creamy hot Thai tea, which I’d been craving. The bags I got were relatively weak, so I just brew them two at a time.
  • Tomorrow I’ll make Vietnamese iced coffee.
  • Right now, at midnight, I sip marshmallow root tea and nibble on Japanese green tea mochi.

B&W Film

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Film is so beautiful and nostalgic.

I picked up a small love for film about four year ago. I’d been sitting in Econ lecture, scrolling through artists and photographers when I stumbled upon a photographer.

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A year after gathering a small appreciation (obsession) for film, I took a black and white film class.We took pictures in black and white and processed them in the darkroom, shot with borrowed Canon cameras.

I photographed strangers, artwork, puppies, toys, store fronts….so on and so forth. It was then that I realized: there is so much whimsicalness in the world. So much strangeness and beauty! The panda head human: a stranger. The toy train: more strangers. I began to shift my perception, seeing my surroundings in blacks and whites, hues and gradients, shadows and bright spots.

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In the dark room, we removed the film from the tube in a room devoid of light. With washes and chemicals and timers, we processed the small rolls of copper-colored film until they were ready to hang and dry.

Then we brought the dried film into the darkroom, where we each had our own space to magnify the film images, invert them, and light-print onto a piece of light-sensitive paper. Afterwards, we doused the paper film in another long process of chemicals and washes before the sheet was finally ready to dry.

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Processing film by hand was tedious, but fun.

I found an old film camera (a Canon snappy LX) about a year ago while cleaning out the house, and ordered some Superia film in. I’ve been slowly, slowly photographing with it. I have….six rolls of film to shoot.

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When I look at other’s images taken on Canon Snappy’s online, they look like the photographs my parents used to take decades ago, when film was all they had.

You’re Where You’re Supposed To Be

I stumbled upon my old high school achievement records while cleaning the house–it felt odd, strange, holding dusty certificates and letters. So I did get a 34 on the ACT; I thought I’d remembered wrong. And then the 2350 on the SAT–huh, at some point, I’d scored higher on Math than on Reading! Then the AP Scholar with Distinction–which one was that again? Then my essay to my dream school, which I attended, then my first college acceptance to business school, with a full ride I’d turned down. And then my Valedictorian speech, which I’d written the night before, after mustering up all the non-hatred in my body I could to write some relevant stand-up.

Blog, just for context, and to be as blunt as possible, I hated high school. So much. That much stress and resentment is not healthy. For any individual. Had high school been a work place, I’d have quit. Early. But, as a wee minor with few choices, I didn’t. And so I endured that place instead, harboring years and years and years of hatred. It stayed. It lingered. I feel less angry now. In its place is a mellowed realization that hatred must be acknowledged, that it has its place, and like a familiar blemish in a thin history book, should be written about. I neither forgive nor forget.

Nobody ever quite understood it. My resentment was shat on, diminished, looked down upon. How could you hate a place so rosy filled with the best human beings abound? See, that was where our opinions diverged. Despite my having a far opposite opinion, it was never…allowed. Or understood. Get over it. Move on. It wasn’t that bad. It isn’t that bad. How could you say that about a good place? And, if you could possibly believe it, it only exacerbated the hatred. To feel anger is one thing; to face other’s anger because of your own anger is yet another.

At the time, one of my greatest stressors were the relationships in my life. As a girl, well, you know the type: they’d sit in their criss-cross applesauce circles, talk relentless shit, bask in passive aggression and snark. These were my so-called best friends. It was then that I concluded it was better to be alone in life than surrounded by snark. I stopped talking. I kept to myself. I harbored this brewing hatred, letting it expand day by day, each sediment of resentment hardening into stone. It’d occasionally spill out, molten hot lava, fury and resentment. Then the confused looks, always, and maybe mirrored anger, because I should not have felt what I felt.

It wasn’t until my last year of college that I mentioned this fully to my best friend. The best friend who’d always been there for me, held me when I was sad, lifted with me when I was joyous, was there through it all, who was always supportive and understanding and compassionate. Not once had she pissed me off to the high heavens, and not once had she made me cry. Not once had she ever made me feel less than or misunderstood or wrong in how I felt. And–get this–she understood. In all those years, she was the only person who immediately understood. She didn’t diminish my feelings, or try to find some phony bright side. She understood. She mentioned uncannily similar catty high school stories. And it has been experiences like those, fleeting but still moving, that have…well, what have they done? So inexplicably much. Kept me sane.

I can imagine the Valedictorian speech I never wrote and all the things I’d meant to say. Honestly, it’d probably just be filled with a lot of expletives. Even now, really. But honesty is not always valued. And I suppose that is the part of me that is high on social monitoring, that will put on a face based on the crowd. That day of graduation, I stood on stage, I smiled, I cracked jokes. I buried my resentment just one foot deeper, because to experience anything but love for the institution was blasphemy.

Well, I didn’t love it, at least not the last few years, and I should have left while I could. I should have gone to the competitive public school several streets away, the one with high-achievers funneling into the same university. I should have expanded during those years, made better friends, worked just as hard, and felt less anger. I know that everything happens for a reason, that, perhaps, this stony fury made me a better person (somehow?). I have no idea. But I do, as they say, trust the universe.

In the end, it worked out. Academically, I wrung every possible mark I could. I loved my teachers, always did, and I’d learned a great deal from them. I reached all my goals. I ultimately attended my dream school, where I met the best friend I never thought existed. I came to terms with my initial, constant life passion–Psychology–which my best friend first texted me about today, asking for run-downs on theories.

And every post like this, however unsavory or un-poetic or un-artistic, chips away the resentment, bit by bit. Then I remind myself of the here and now. As my best friend so briefly quipped–

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Meta | Journal

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Le beau (yes, pronounced ‘la bo,’ and I said la beu for clarification) stumbled upon my blog last night. Well, I had given him a link to one article I thought he’d read–not the entire blog!

For context, this digital blog barely crosses over into my real life, if at all. I don’t mention it to my friends, family, or, until recently, boyfriend, and I certainly don’t share it on social media. It’s just weird. The cross between real life and digital blogspace is like that one episode from Fairly Odd Parents when Timmy Turner leaps into Jimmy Neutron’s world. Timmy goes from being a flat animated cartoon to a well-shadowed 3D character. It’s jarring. The worlds–they’re different, but not entirely.

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When la beau first told me he’d read my blog, I sweated profusely. “Why’re you rolling down the windows? It’s 30 degrees,” he said.

“This conversation is making me warm,” I said.

I’m okay with people, in general, reading these little creative outbursts or blurbs, but it feels strange when I know them. So if I know you in real life, do me a favor, please don’t tell me you read my blog and then proceed to quote some of your favorite posts. Because le beau did this. All day. I’d forgotten I’d even written some of these blurbs. 

“You’re 18 books away from completing your 100 Books Challenge.”

“Math is a house filled with nooks and crannies. I read that on your blog. Remember that post?”

“That poem, bad cliffhangers, I didn’t really understand that one.”

“I saw the one from August 2017, and I was like aw, the quote from Winnie the Pooh.”

“I liked the post where you felt happy with the people in your life.”

“I was looking for cameos. I’d just sort of pop in and out. Also, I was referred to as le beau! Ha-ha. Clever.”

He also mentioned some kind fellow bloggers. Some would extend hugs in murky times and others would simply be there. I think of Monika, TheWayFarer, Shahirah, Kendall, Connie, E.L, Robert V., Zheng Fan….so hello, if you’re reading this! And if not, I’ll figure out how to make proper mentions one day. I send my greetings to the blogaverse.

Le beau also asked a good question about how I’ll sometimes end a post with a different time than the time stamp. The lower date is when the post was written. I’ll often tweak and edit previous posts from times I’d write more (read: random creative bursts or sad bubbles). This ties in with my last journal post about being more prolific when I’m depressed, and writing less when I’m happy. So when I’m happy (the past 2 years), I’ll revisit older posts in notes/docs from sadder, but more prolific, days.

12 hours later from our warm conversation about my blog, I feel a little less weird. Everything feels a little more meta than usual, reflecting on this blog and readers and whatnot.