body as friend (or foe)

my body’s a friend tonight while i’m scarfing down heaps of korean barbecue, determined to get my money’s worth. in the bathroom, i do the math. 12 plates of food would equate to $5 per, which would certainly be worth it. i’ve barely eaten all day, feeling little appetite and suppressed hunger. so the small monster unleashes at the table. i stare seriously at the meat, assessing how quickly each types cooks, sensing the unevenness of the grill. i watch the fire, blues and yellow licking the metal.

my body’s a foe tonight on the verge of explosion. the 12 plates have come. by plate 7, boyfriend is done. he has been done. will you be ordering more? he looks at me with wide desperate eyes. my own have hardened into determination. somewhere the headache i’ve had all afternoon evaporates. in its place is now a racing heart and fueled adrenaline. we soon find out that he is a terrible sidekick. “now! wait, no.” i glare at him. “now!” we turn at the same time to a coast not-clear. i glare at him again. he laughs into his sleeve, and i dump a small plate of disturbingly authentic octopi. i think that octopi do not deserve to be eaten. they’re too intelligent.

when we skid out of the restaurant, hearts beating wild, we compare it to our summer heist of 2017. we’d roadtripped to a restaurant with a view by the mountain, a view by the sea. in lieu of the four hour wait, we slipped through an open chain-link instead. as a child, i flirted with rebellion, hard–rules were only made to be broken. these small tastes of harmless rule-breaking take me back to a time when we ran into locked rooms only because we weren’t allowed. adrenaline was always what makes it memorable.

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happy

i am so proud of my students
one of them, whose top schools is my alma mater, (wow, my heart when i say that) got a full score
another increased his score from the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile
now i have two students who have made that percentile leap
and two full-score students !!!
i’m just so happy for them

a part of me feels like this is a karmic form of paying it forward
or, from a more earthish perspective, making use of what i’ve learned
and doing something with it
like yeah, sure, i started to care about school when i was 14
spent 4 years caring, learning, reading books, semi-paying attention
and achieved this goal or that
and then it got easier in college, and i stopped working so hard….
and then i let things go through one ear and out the other

at times, it felt hollow when it was just me
doing something….
i mean, i don’t know. it was fulfilling, but sometimes i’d also wonder
what’s the point of trying to achieve things and then achieving them?
what’s the point of learning and mastering something to just…do it?
it’s difficult to put into words
but did it really make a difference when i stamped into the ground
with my
tiny, tiny stamps?

the thing about explaining concepts to others and teaching
this idea or that, the things that i was taught
is that it feels meaningful
meaningful
i think back to all the people who had helped me
who had spent hours teaching me
who had explained this theory or that concept
who walked me through the confusion and frustration
and i think of all of them, who made a difference in my life
and the thought of being one of many people
who could possibly also make a difference in helping these kids
reach their goals, giving tidbits of advice, teaching xyz
is, like, relieving
and the opposite of soul-sucking (cough advertising)

in the moment, it’s also intensely fun
detour: i used to think that logarithms were hard
or at least challenging–i mean, the word itself is very strange
log-
a-
rithm-
log a rhythm
hey, billy, log a rhythm for me, won’t you?–
but i’ve begun to reframe the logarithm as a mr.potato head
who shares the same body and features as an exponent
(“inverse exponent” they say
what the hell is even that?)
but whose features are simply in different locations
and they (the kids) get it

now that i’m thinking about it
i used to be those kids (the ones i work with)
teaching even littler kids
who would sometimes be really talkative
and cough in my mouth
and make faces of confusion
but at the time, i was teaching for general educational
purposes
like, learning math for the sake of learning it
rather than preparing them for something that could
make or break certain life outcomes

anyways
this is all a roundabout way of saying
that i’m really proud of how they’ve done
like, really proud
and very emotionally invested, ha ha
and that i’m (personally) happy to be doing what i’m doing
it’s a chapter in this life that ties off well
with one of the earlier ones

did i write that i was accepted to graduate school in psychology?
well, that’s a big personal life thing–
i was.
so this–everything i wrote above–is a for-now thing
before
the towards-psychology chapter
so i am relishing in this chapter for now

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.

Let It Snow

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My fingers are pink and numb, my nose tulipy red: I’ve just come back from prancing around in the snow, making snow angels, kicking up powdery light snowdust. Our boots sunk three inches deep. Light mound of snow layered the field, coated every surface, nook and crevice like frosting (Ah, Frosty!)

The snow was too fine for snowmen or snowballs, so we resorted to dragging our boots through the snow, windmilling bodies into snow angels, tossing handfuls of snow. “Snow, please,” I’d say, since I’d forgotten to wear mittens. Then a sprinkle-shower of snow would scatter over our heads.

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Last Night (Five Months Ago)

I looked at a trash can strewn and crooked and swore it was art. Saw shadows fanning light and searched for the source. Thought how can this be? and how are we here? and I’m glad everything just is. I kept these things to myself until I realized, in steady sobriety, that this was reality, that this was the nighttime, that this was the glittering town spread beneath our legs, strands of hair spinning free, stories up above the ground, city sprawled beneath the bumper.

July 2017