June 24th, 2019

Intuition is the darnedest thing, that’s for sure.

The air was cool today, cool enough for biking, walking, and wandering down the artsy district during rush hour. We munched through grilled cheese sandwiches, sipped past fruity guava-watermelon cocktails, savored buttermilk pie and ice cream, then stumbled upon an open live music bar, where three guys improvised old school jazz. Piano, drums, bass. I felt simultaneously young and old and nothing in between. It was as if we’d stepped foot into some image of the 20’s, and I was a grandmother reminiscing the simplicity of youth. Sometimes I feel nostalgia for things I’ve never experienced.

Earlier today, a boy walked up to me. Are you so and so? he asked. Yes, I said, laughed and narrowed my eyes. How’d you know? Oh, we were in a club together five years ago. Ah, right, I chuckled. Do you remember my name? I laughed–I’m sorry, I don’t. I’m so and so, he said. Then yes, I do remember you! You look a bit different now. Your hair, maybe? I said. Ah. He showed me his ID. Yes, your hair is different, I decided. How is your art? He asked. My art? Oh, haha, how did you know? I follow you on Instagram. I like your posts!

Such is the age of social media. He was a friendly fella. I do remember him, but vaguely–he’d been much quieter back then. I was very chatty. He seemed to keep more to himself. I volunteered in an effort to meet people and make friends, and I volunteered my way into small organization recognition. When I look back at school or activities, like art and volunteering, I realize that so much of it was motivated by my seeing friends. Teachers were like prison wardens, and we just kept each other sane.

After dinner, boyfriend said, “I want pie.” I said, “no, no pie.” He said, “but I want pie.” I said, “frame it like this: oh, I planned out a nice dessert for us, and I’m keeping it a special secret. It’s a really great restaurant, and I can’t wait to take you.’ That way, you get your pie, and it sounds like a fun date.”

So he played along, and so did I. The place was packed with pie-lovers. The pie we ate on the patio was mouth-crumblingly delicious. Melt-in-your-mouth-delicious. Have you ever had buttermilk hazelnut chocolate pie with two big scoops of vanilla bean ice cream? No? Well, it’s heavenly.

Our day ended on a weirdly hilarious but weirdly intuited note. The hilarious part is that today was the one off day, years in. The intuited part is that, from the get go, I just had a feeling. I tried to put a finger on it–maybe I had seen something subconsciously, maybe something just seemed different. How do we know without knowing? Intuition will always remain elusive, slightly out of grasp. Scientists will say the subconscious has seen enough; women will say it’s just a part of being; believers will say it is, in general, divined. I think it’s all of the above. One thing is for sure, though: intuition is the darnedest thing.

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Lost in my Mind

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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.

______

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.

June 23rd, 2019

I left the mall with two sweaters, each for $4, from H&M. It isn’t fall, but sweaters are my favorite, and they were just so heavily discounted.

I know my boyfriend likes my clothes when he asks to have them or, better yet, tries to take them.

-glimpses over at me-

“I like that shirt.”

-looks again-

“I want it.”

A few days later…

“Guess which shirt I’m wearing?”

“Mine?”

“No. It’s mine now.”

It’s thundering outside.

For dinner, I made spaghetti because I was craving tomatoes. The toast was heavenly. I accidentally burned two because 425 wasn’t heating them up quickly enough.

June 21st, 2019 | Day 23

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At today’s meetup–and I’m starting to love meetups–I met a handful of new people, including two Chinese people! They asked if I was from Taiwan, that my Chinese was good, and it honestly made my day. My Chinese is relatively flatter–my tongue doesn’t roll, and my tones don’t lilt as much. Apparently, this is how people from Taiwan speak. Looking back, I was surrounded by Taiwanese people when I was younger, so maybe that’s why… Regardless, it’s always immensely flattering whenever people say I speak well :,)

Aside from that, it was just so fun meeting and talking with people. We chatted about random things, from melee smash (super smash bros, competitive) to drawing styles to food and projects and god knows what. A few hours flew by. We had our sketchbooks out, but only a few of us were drawing. I mindlessly painted a few things here and there, but nothing much. We tried on the gender swap Snapchat filter, and my alter man ego was attractive. The table chuckled. “You’re a hot guy!” Beard, stubble and everything. Looked like a star. Alas, for I was born female.

Over the past year, I’ve gotten more used to talking to people I don’t know too well, largely because I do it for work (though it’s much easier to take on a teaching role, where it’s like presentation and interaction). I used to not be much of a group person either, since my group of friends had once been cliquey and catty. But I’m slowly shedding those views of groups being bad or rudely exclusive.

A Year of Digital Painting

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Spent last Nov/December holed up into digital art, the one thing I derived a sense of stability from. With protests going on outside my room–constantly, it seemed–and wishy-washy people fluttering around and tests looming ahead, art was an escape.

So I drew. A lot. Mostly on the computer using Wacom tablets–the library had them. They had the Cintiq, a massive screen you can draw on, and smaller Wacom bamboo tablets. I’d spend hours a day drawing on Photoshop, learning from artists on Youtube, hunting out inspiration on DeviantArt.

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Blink. These are screenshots from an animation I worked on in February. I didn’t realize, until attempting animation, how much of it I took for granted–how tedious the process really was, how every 1/20 or 1/80 of a second had to be drawn by-hand. And only then could you piece together the slightest movement. (Though there are animation programs now, which speeds up the process)

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Ruby. I used this piece to practice digital shading. Creating depth/values on Photoshop is a quicker process than it is with oils and acrylics. With paint, you have to mix and dilute until you have the right shade and consistency; on Photoshop, it offers the entire color spectrum with all its variations. I was initially was frustrated with this piece until I threw in highlights–on the nose, lips and cheek–which added a lot more depth to the piece, and subsequent realism.

When it comes to shading, I’ll usually start out with a base color, add in shadows, then tentative highlights. I’ll go on to darken the shadows, do a bit of blending, and then add a final layer of the brightest (sometimes completely white) highlights. These are the little white dabs on her upper lip and nose bridge.

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This was my first digital sketch, done hurriedly over a one hour lunch break.

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A few days later, I decided to expand on the eye, to practice faces and portraits (my favorite! as you can probably tell), so I sketched her, who I never named–my first digital portrait.

Norwegian Wood

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And just like that, Marukami’s done it again– strung me into his worlds of dreams, lust, prose and despair. This time, I didn’t feel as though I was on the cusp reality. Rather, I felt myself grounded in the meadows of Norwegian Wood.

“Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene, I hardly paid it any mind. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that eighteen years later I would recall it in such detail.

I didn’t give a damn about the scenery that day. I was thinking about myself. I was thinking about the beautiful girl walking next to me. I was thinking about the two of us together, and then about myself again. It was the age, that time of life when every sight, every feeling, every thought came back, like a boomerang, to me. And worse, I was in love. Love with complications. The scenery was the last thing on my mind.”

Three summers ago, I first fell in love with his prose. I forget that first title (ah! Sputnik Sweetheart) but never the feeling. I remember sitting up late one night, the color pink burned beneath my eyes, swamped by wooly blankets, confusion and exhaustion. I don’t remember starting Sputnik Sweetheart. I also don’t remember finishing it. Like a dream, where you simply start in the middle, that’s where I found myself, mostly.

She, the main character, had seen her doppelgänger in a room of a hotel and on the top of a Ferris wheel. And the doppelgänger was doing strange things with strange men. And the girl, the real girl, wasn’t sure which was what or what was real. It eventually brought her to a sort of lucid, sustained hysteria. There were always cats in the story. Sometimes they left; other times, they returned. Even in Norwegian Wood, there was a stray cat that appeared, and embedded itself in the background.

Norwegian Wood was more somber. More sober. So excruciatingly detailed that I’m convinced the author experienced it himself. For days, I buried my nose in the book, taking it everywhere with me.

Boyfriend read aloud the last 20 pages to me. He read the last and saddest and darkest pages, occasionally mincing words. (“Keep reading!” I hissed and he shot a look at the door) I let Murakami paint worlds through words.