Life Updates and Musings

img_3061Life is…good. My legs are sprinkled with mosquito bites from sitting by the lake. We went for a walk, or at least attempted to, this evening after driving around the city looking for tacos and ogling big houses. We wandered around the area, criss-crossed through neighborhoods, got back home just in time to see the sunset.img_4335

Yesterday we saw buffalo mulling by the street. So we parked right by them as cars whizzed by and put Kendrick Lamar’s King Kunta on blast and repeat. We snapped the buffalo (buffalo! Can you believe it?) Then we saw two ducks I swear flew over from my neighborhood, as well as a little bunny that stood frozen 15 ft away as he tried luring her in with mint gum.

All of which has been temporarily documented on my Snapchat. Even though Instagram stories has a wider audience, Snapchat feels more personal. I guess it’s mostly who’s in the audience that differs as well–Instagram includes high school acquaintances, college friends, friends from outside of school, etc. Whereas Snapchat’s mostly comprised of people I met in high school. The space within SC is smaller, but I feel like I can better be myself, or at least see others being themselves.

Anyways. Saw some friendios over the weekend: sipped boba with FS, danced and painted with AV. Seeing some more friendios this weekend. Well, tomorrow, then Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s mine. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them, but I miss ’em. So it’ll be good to catch up.

And work’s been fun as well. Going by incredibly quickly, might I add. I like it most when my co-workers are around–sometimes they’re busy or out of office, and then it’s a little drab and I drink too much coffee. But I’m really happy when the others are in and I can talk to them and attend little meetings here and there. I like having to do a good amount of work as well. I realize that, and I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing, I don’t often do things ahead of time. My bf does, and sometimes I’ll marvel at it. Like, I procrastinate. I get my shit done, and I usually do it quickly, but I generally don’t do it way before I need to. I mean, Adam Grant writes that procrastination can lead to greater creativity, so…let’s procrastinate! Kidding, but not really. I had a huge tendency to push all my long essays at the last minute, so I was cranking out ten pages the day it was due. No ragrets. Actually, no, I regretted it every time.

That’s just me being schooly. Speaking of which, a lot of people I knew in high school (I accidentally blurted out ‘hate school’ the other day when I told my bf to not talk about it. You know that phrase that you can hate with a fiery passion? I hated my high school environment with a fiery passion. I’m also tired of trying to explain the roots of fiery hatred, like I have to justify it with some sort of persuasive slideshow equipped with logos, pathos, ethos. Feelings are valid. That includes my fiery hatred. That I love everything else in my life only attests to the particular special hatred I have reserved for it)…have finished school.

It makes me wonder where they’ll go after. What they’ll do after. At my uni, there’s a huge pre-professional push. And as much as we bitch and moan about it, we end up producing a helluva lot of successful people. It’s the norm to have full time decent-paying jobs in big cities upon graduation (if not before). And then after, give or take ten years, they’re millionaires cruising down Wall St. or situated big tech companies or running blogs or news organizations I drool over because these people, they’re brilliant. I have a little pocket of pride that goes specifically towards my university. Alumni blow my mind; I’m quietly impressed by people who’ve been accepted, either into undergrad or grad. Like, I have some lowkey pride for my school. Did I always like it? No way. But am I proud to go there? Totes my goats.

It’s just a bubble, though. What about the rest of the world, people who don’t go to this particular university? What about friends or acquaintances who’ve only just graduated? Do they leap into full-time 8-5’s, the aspirational norm for my school’s grads? And is that as easy as people from my school make it seem? I mean, I don’t know. I’ll admit that I’m rather curious about where life’ll take these people, because according to the dry template of life, after graduation, we weave into those 8-5’s. That becomes the quilt of life. Even though I’m not doing the 8-5 at the moment, I’m really enjoying my work and job, so I’m not as afraid as I was a year or two ago.

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Also. Last thing, I know this is getting rather long. I started an account documenting my past few years in university. I’d found a whole bunch of ticket stubs, news clippings and letters that I kept. The sentimental chunk in me (it comprises a big part) decided to make a scrapbook, but also start up a digital account to share images and updates with people who made those years as dope as they could possibly be. I made a scrapbook in high school, but it was a lie. I knew it was a lie when I made it. And, years later, the rose-colored goggles of the past can’t deny: it was a lie. Surprisingly, you can have happy moments in a shitty place you can’t wait to leave. We had to write some sort of letter, essay-explanation that looked back on our years then. I started with the quote:

Can I be frank? I fucking hated that place and even now, can’t fully explain why. The only conclusion I can come to is that something that’s good for one person might not always be good for another. Maybe someone else thrives in an unchanging environment filled with the same people in the same buildings for ten plus years, but by God, I cannot. I did not. I need stimulation, new people, weird challenges. I want opportunities to be spontaneous and impulsive, to try new things. Every few months, I want to get up and go, venture into the city, fly to another state, drive somewhere I’ve never been. To have been cooped up in some building for that long–what a joke. The people were nice, but that scrapbook was a lie. I did not have as good of a time as I looked. I do a lot of mental surgery to disassociate current friends from that place. But sometimes I fail. And so I seethe at them, even those who made things bearable.

Spitting fire doesn’t make me the life of the party, I get it. This’ll offend the first person who sat next to me in sophomore history. But writing this out, even if it outdated or bitter or crusty, is therapeutic in it of itself. Like talking about something that makes you uneasy, that’s why writing about this does. It releases, it rids. And even though life is the best I could have ever imagined it–no, I don’t think I could have even imagined this, and that makes it better–I’ll note that this is still here, the disbelief that I was in an environment I found to be so goddamn shitty. Subjectively speaking, of course.

See, right now, I’m so happy. With my relationship, my friends, my family, my school, my job. But even amid all this happiness, knowing that yes, looking forward did take me to a fun-tastic future, I sometimes still feel clouds of resentment looming. And instead of feeling exasperated having to explain it to people who give me weird looks for my fiery hatred, I’m just going to air it out, let it be. Write about it. Be ridiculously frank about it. In retrospect, I don’t know why I needed others’ understanding of my feelings to validate them. If there’s anything I picked up in college, it’s that you’re better off not seeking validation; we all live in our own little bubbles, anyways. It makes the feeling of understanding all the more richer. When somebody understands, really understands, or at least tries to, it’s like striking gold. Really.

Anyhow. This turned out to be a far longer “musing” post than I anticipated. Largely stream of consciousness. Since I haven’t been writing much in the past few weeks, this feels like a relief I can’t even put into words. But I guess I already did.

Disposable Diaries: Tale of Two Cities

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Hopping from the East to the South draws each region into sharp contrast. Against the tall and narrow East, the South seems wider. Twangy recorded voicemails, the norm, strike me as peculiar (“hah-lo, yoo’ve reached–“) Cityscapes turn to landscapes and steel structures melt to lake water. Welcome home, where it’s hotter, quieter, sunnier, brighter, lazier, slower, flatter and bigger.

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Wal-Mart might have lost my first roll of disposable film, but at least they didn’t lose my second. I’m still a little miffed about them (or FujiFilm) losing the first; I’d carried it around for a year, documenting my summer in China, vacation in the Bahamas, life in Philadelphia, etc. But I’ll look on the bright side: hey, they didn’t lose this second roll.

The photos turned out surprisingly well–it can be pretty hit-or-miss when it comes to film. Unlike digital, I’ll have no idea how disposable photos will turned out ’til they’ve been sent off, processed, developed and printed. Sometimes a shot of the living room turns out as washed-out black grain. Other times, a shot of a sneaker turns out to be weirdly artsy. It’s fun. It’s experimental. Generally, though, I’d say you can’t go wrong with landscape film.

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Up until yesterday, when I got the photos, I’d forgotten that I’d carried my camera from one city to another. It’s interesting seeing images of the East juxtaposed with those of the South, watching them go from being gritty and overcast to saturated in blue.

100 Books Reading Challenge

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Started a reading challenge project mid-spring. The goal: read 100 books by the end of summer. The list is 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! (Note: lately I’ve been reading a lot of poetry, comics and lit, in no particular order) Bolded are some of my favorites; I plan to update every 10 books or so.

  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

 

If you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them! 🙂

Last Night

I looked at a trash can strewn and crooked and swore it was art. Saw shadows from fanning lights and searched for the source. Thought things like how can this be? and how am I here? and I’m glad everything just is. But 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 as strands of my hair swirled around free and one star peered down at us stories up above the ground. Sometimes I still don’t really believe it.

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September 5th, 2014

There is no fine line between loneliness and solitude, only a clunky, black-Sharpie-esque streak that delineates both. Even though there are many nights I wonder if I know how to be alone, now is one fine, humid afternoon where I seek solitude. For now, I will pretend that I am the only one here surrounded by people, but not. Not in my own little head, at least–let us play make-believe.

Do you remember when that was the highlight of many days? Make believe: let’s pretend we’re this, let’s pretend we’re that. Let’s pretend that there is no now that’s now, only now that’s tomorrow, next month, next year, graduation. Let’s pretend that all the molecules in my body are melting from the dragging boredom that is time, that instead of electron-grounding it is flesh-grounding, that now it is a change of phase! melting, melting, melting into the cement floor, and nobody will ever notice.

And then: when living in dreams was once a thing. When everything felt so real in your head–the grass, the dew, even the way things smelled–you turned into a zombie. You’d vie for the next bout of sleep just so you could fall into the rabbit hole of dreams. You’d spend your waking hours wishing they were sleeping hours, of REM, of dream-state, of somebody whispering your name across a party and you hearing it.

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SOFT and blurred and strange like urban carbon decay. i remember

  • that year I skipped the haunted house to instead count lonely days
  • and periods of my life measured by eyeliner type (from chalky to waxy to dark and smudgy)
  • on bad nights I’d tally them up on a sticky note by the light switch that stood by a doodle of a pink cat with an arched back with a perplexed face that asked: why so sad?
  • that my project looked happier than i felt and photos belied my true sentiments and only what i wrote was honest
  • and the things i painted were honest, too, like the black poster-size painting of what loneliness felt like even though I was surrounded by scathing, laughing, faces, faceless faces I’d forget as soon as I turned away
  • it felt like it’d be forever before I ever returned, that the walls were white and it’d be the last night (but not for long)
  • I wished to move forward. I wished to leave. I asked: am I unhappy in the present because I live in the future, or do I live in the future because I am unhappy in the present?
  • both. the present was shitty in the most pleasant way possible, and looking forward was escapism.

in retrospect, i had something (many things) to look forward to, and it’s here and it’s now. god, i know it’s cliche, but if only i could pause life right now, keep things just as they are….life, stay still. you are good, better than good, fingers-crossed things won’t change.

Free to Be

The other day I sat in a hot car for too long, maybe five hours, and by the end of those five hours felt a sort of exhausted bitterness wash over me- like my body was drained and my arms were heavy and I was irritated, irritated, irritated. I wondered for a moment why it felt so familiar. And then I remembered that that was how HS had felt like. Every day, by 3:45 PM, when I was bored out of my mind, sedentary as a sequestered squirrel, I’d feel that same five-hour-long-trapped-in-a-car heaviness. But now I can let my hair down and sprint across fields and speed across highways and go to the bathroom without raising my goddamn hand. I feel free in the simplest of ways.

Attempts to Journal, Pt. 1

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

We wore matching clothes today: bright yellow tops that ultimately looked ridiculous together. We tried to get a friend to wear yellow as well–we’d loosely planned to meet and go to an art show–but alas, plans fell through. It’s okay, though. ’twas still a good day.

God, I used to write journal entries like this all the time. I’d come home from school and go straight to the computer where I’d write and write and write. I’d write about the stupidest things, things I’d never care to remember the next day or month or year. I’d write things like, we each had baked potatoes for lunch and then made wild chants upon finishing them. Life’s a million times more interesting now than it was then. Ironically, though, I don’t feel the need to write about it as much. Or even record it. But it could just be a momentarily lapse in obsessive life-recording.

Anyways. Where was I? Right. Journaling. I’m trying to get back into it.

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Started and finished Chewing Gum on Netflix in about three days. It’s kind of hard to describe how utterly weird it is–it’s cringey in a do-I-laugh-or-cry? sort of way. And it’s so absurd that it catches you off-guard multiple times in a funny discomforting way. My best friend didn’t like it much, but the Internet’s raving about Chewing Gum. At first I didn’t get it, thought it was strange and foreign, but then it grew on me. Next thing I know, I’m imitating the hilariously uptight little sister who’s religious and shrieks a lot.

It’s quirky. But, y’know, I like weird, I like quirky.

Now I’m trying to get into Stranger Things. I’ve watched about an episode and a half, haven’t gotten too far. It reminds me a lot of the video game Beyond Two Souls–from the (Spoiler alert!) government-rooted shapeless evil blob to the hunted protagonist girl with short brown hair and supernatural powers. Update: turns out I’m not alone in drawing the parallels.

Wanderlust

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It’s 1 in the morning. I feel an inexplicably wild desire to photograph the world. The closest I can get to explaining it is via a tiny purple monster inside of me that’s smashing all the imaginary cameras in my heart, bellowing on about viajar, como yo quiero tomar los fotos en un otro lugar.

That sort of thing.

Creative obsessions are kind of awesome but torturous. It is both tiring and invigorating to pour every ounce of your all into furthering this abstraction/concept/thing and not being able to contemplate or do anything aside from it. Then you’re onto the next. Or not. Sometimes you have creative lulls where you just want to punch your way out of the creative rut.

I’ll paint something Ophelia-esque. She’ll be surrounded in a bed of roses that look no different from the rest; they’ll be beautiful, but meaningless.

East of Eden

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Lately I’ve been thinking of a book I’d read years ago that was such an utter mindfuck that, upon finishing the book, all I could do was reread the ending and sink into the couch and bawl a little bit. The book was East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I barely recall the plot, to be honest, but I remember the way I felt: enthralled (cringing at my use of this word, but it’s fitting) by its lurid prodding complexity and numb from all the philosophy.

Some quotes from the book I really liked:

“We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.”

But where does free will, or lack thereof, factor into it? Steinbeck weaves in the concept of timshel, that man ultimately exercises free will in choosing to do either good or evil:

“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”

On monstrosity as deviation from the norm; on normalcy as deviation from monstrosity. A reference to the monstrous Cathy, whose character was evil incarnate (so much so that critics described her as too flatly evil.) Interestingly, what Steinbeck describes is a feeling that many sociopaths may have: the unnerving sense that others have something they lack, something internal, a moral compass, a set of emotions, a conscience.

“Just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience.

To a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare with others. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There was no single takeaway from the book, at least, not for me. Its significance didn’t lie in the plot, but the themes. But maybe I say that because I’m not as familiar with biblical stories, particularly the one of Cain and Abel, which the novel recreates between the Civil War & WWI. At any rate, I highly recommend the book, especially if you’re interested in postwar fiction, philosophy, religion, ethics or literature. Or a book-induced mindfuck.

Good Ol’ Days Are Now

There is a moment in Bojack Horseman, an adult cartoon I recently finished, where one of the characters goes: I wish we knew when the good ol’ times were when they were happening so we could enjoy them then.

I have an odd little feeling that this might be one of the happier times in my life, and that I’ll miss it. I can’t say for certain–I can’t go into the future and look back to nostalgically decide how happy I was, but I am. Happy, I mean. Happy with the people in my life, happy with what I’m doing, happy to be where I am. I was pretty happy in… December, and then from February to April. Dipped into some weird existential haze come summer 2016, which would have been a sublime time to have watched Bojack Horseman. Instead I meandered aimlessly, sinking in sweaty bony skinniness and devouring Marukami, who made everything feel dreamlike.

Bojack would have been ideal to watch in the summertime. I’ve just finished all three seasons, rationing out episodes to one per night (generally around 2 in the morning). In terms of content, it’s deep, but doesn’t seem it at first glance. It’s little like treading into a pool that steepens from 3 ft to 6 ft: before you know it, the water’s up to your chin. The show is, to put lightly, dark, which is unsurprising given that Bojack’s depressed, mired in self-loathing, and manages to fuck up all his relationships. Yet it isn’t just a sad show: it’s funny, it’s clever, it’s deep and it’s strange. It’s whimsical. It’s meaningful. And it’s beautiful, in a weird funny way.

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Ironic to be watching such a sad show when I feel, in general, pretty upbeat. I guess it temper things, evens them out. At any rate, I’m grateful for the up’s in life, and if this does happen to be the ‘good ol’ times’, I’ll try my very best to savor the here and now. (This is my cheesy spiel)