Lotus Flower

I did not choose to grow here.

I see myself as a displaced flower, uprooted before she was planted, a seed placed miles and miles away. I am, let’s say, a lotus flower. From a country far away. One day, I sprouted. Maybe under the sunny bright skies of California. Somewhere Western. And all I knew were the soil and skies and trees of a Western world.

And there were Western songs. And Western values. And Western foods that made people balloon and swell and topple over from heart disease. There were color coded hierarchies. And color embracing schools. There were plastered banners of ideals, never obtained, of bars that will never be reached. And there was money. Lots of money. Unevenly divided, but money, still. Oh, and shit-talking. Lots and lots of shit-talking. Because shit-talking was her prized possession baby.

She was theoretically free. She was chained by things that half of her would screech about.

This is Western air I breath. And Western words I write. My mind scrambles to translate to my mother tongue. I feel irritated when quizzed, scrutinized, over my minute vocabulary. I comprehend the way I read–vertically, in chunks, taking in the entire scene.

I did not choose to grow here. But I do so, begrudgingly, albeit mostly contentedly, because with physical comfort comes mental comfort. There is food to eat. And water to drink. And clean carpeted homes. And space, and clear blue skies.

But it is a hollow step-mother, a cutout adopted family, and this is Cinderella, couched in her stepmother’s magnificent home. It is lacking in significant ways. In this tiled gated home, ripe with waste and excess, I have no desire to engorge myself in deep fried meats. I have no desire to shoot a rifle. I have no desire to make silly clownish political statements, or yell, or scream. Where is everybody else? Where is the real food? Where is the real music? The real dancing? The culture, the culture?

And when I return to this home, a home I had never been, I feel the deepest, most explicable sense of home. How do you return home when you’ve never been? This, I realize, is biological. It’s deeper than simply sprouting where you are planted. It goes back seasons, centuries, for an environment to be just right for that particular plant–but I was uprooted, like so many others.

And I never assume that I am like them. Plants in the new environment, I mean. I can feign it–I speak it, and I most likely seem it, but it’s a facade. You can take an alligator out of a swamp, raise it in the desert, but it will always have been from a swamp, no matter what you tell it. You can brainwash it. You can tell her to participate in rituals of the patriotic. You can make her place her hand on this part of her chest, memorize poems about fabric, worship strangers of the dead. But it is all surface level, environmental. External. As internal as socialization can be.

No matter what anyone tells me, no matters what is shushed or socially right, nobody can convince me otherwise. She is a queen, a sleeping dragon. And I am convinced of it. I hope she breaths and flies and wakes soon. I have been planted alongside the fat rich happy little Western boar, who snores and powerfully kicks up mud when angered. There is not much that I can do. Because I did not choose to grow here.

Advertisements

the things we can’t control

Some things in life we can control. And some things we can’t.

Things that fall into the former are tangible, goal-oriented. Things like hobbies and personal goals (diet, for instance) and academic goals and so on and so forth. Decisions we make. Decisions we’re able to make. And these decisions, consciously made, little by little, shape and frame our lives. We choose to read the book. We choose to say yes or no. We choose to use that extra hour sleeping in or working out.

But then there are the things we cannot control. They depend on luck. On chance. On however the universe, or God, or Buddha–or whichever belief you subscribe to–is feeling at that particular moment. These things are tied to the inexplicable. Sometimes they’re serendipitous. Other times, tragic. Love, and whether it is returned, and whether it even is. Illness. Lotteries. Birth lotteries–the families we are born into. The job. The dream job. The uncontrollable, inescapable circumstances that surround us.

When it comes to the former, I try to do my best. I set goals; I try to reach them. What’s within my control shouldn’t be handed off as a toy for “fate.” I’d rather not just wait and see the consequences of what I do. I’d rather be conscious of my decisions in the here and now. I review the material. I leave ten minutes earlier. I send the emails. I exercise, read, draw. Tangible. It’s all easier said than done, and maybe it’s more of a mentality than anything else. In psychology, it’s framed as an internal locks of control. I don’t let life happen to me; I make things happen.

But when it comes to the latter, to the things we cannot control, I try my best to let things be. Or, well–I try to let chance and fate intermingle. I cross my fingers and hope that the universe is feeling generous. Sometimes it is. And in those moments, things are easy. It’s not a battle between the heart and mind. It’s not wanting one thing but following another. It’s not an unrequited pursuit. The position, which I may have never considered before, is there. The feeling is there. The right person or people are there. It’s happens smoothly, effortlessly, in a slow moving cliche of puzzle pieces fitting together. These are not things I may have ever anticipated or hoped for. And yet they simply are, or will be.


It’s 1 in the morning, and I can’t sleep, and I’m aware I seldom write posts like these. At the same time, it feels necessary to articulate this feeling. A year ago, I felt similarly, but I wanted so desperately to be here. And here is a reflection, I guess, of my heart, and of the latter–“things you don’t quite control.” It feels like I am supposed to be here, in a strange metaphysical sense. It’s like deja vu, like I’m dreaming, like I’ll wake up to where I was 365 days ago, and this’ll all have been a mirage.

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 (!!!)

Scattered Thoughts | Journal

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (8)

My heart is swelling and I feel so warm–

But maybe it’s the noodle soup I just made. I added some canton noodles in boiling water, added leftover beef, hastily washed some bok choy and threw it all in. I had a small packet of seasoning and added that, then fried an egg to top it off. It all sounds complicated but it really wasn’t, it was slipshod and angry, delicious and warm. Yum.

Last night I was up blogging and WordPress wiped it all clean. Thanks, WordPress. The tiredness coupled with irritation led me to bed. What had been on my mind?…

Ah. I’d written about our celebration at the tower revolving restaurant, where the sun set beside our waygu beef and wine. God, that was a good night. The weather warmed graciously and I wore my dark blue off the shoulder dress, huggy, but not too much so, and nude flats. Le beau wore a blazer and button down and jeans and brown shoes and a man behind us wore the exact same thing. We settled into our table. Our waiter had flair.

We ordered expensive food that came out in painfully small portions. The flavor exploded constantly, evolved, weirdly tantalizing. And we chatted, which I filmed on time lapse, and I peered at his hair and his eyes.

After two hours he ushered us outside for a show–a football game on TV, I assumed. Then he whipped out tickets to the orchestra, which I’d always wanted to go to, but never had. It was a little yelly, because the comedy troupe just yelled, but the entire experience was wonderful. And everyone around us wore suits and dresses, so it all felt very fancy and upscale.

I’ve now returned to life as it is, with homemade noodle soup and sleepy texts on the couch. Journal entries are all I can seem to muster up nowadays, but it’s alright, I s’pose. I am happy is all.

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

IMG_7217

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.

IMG_6821

IMG_7214

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.

1IMG_7269

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.

IMG_6777

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.

1IMG_7268

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.