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

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Psych, At Last

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Teaching and research, research and teaching. A cup of coffee, a stale-ish sesame bagel. I chuckle mid-way through my transcriptions, get an email about another student, text my best friend and boyfriend on the side. I dip back into the Psychology project.

I’m happy to be circling back to my deepest initial passion, Psychology, and seeking to make a career out of it. The past few years were spent dabbling in a variety of interests, from photojournalism to freelance writing and illustration. I worked as a freelance photographer, was at the newspaper, did article illustrations, wrote articles. And I enjoyed it all, and I’m grateful to have been able to explore those creative avenues.

But at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s art that I want to chase as a career–it’s Psychology. Sometimes I burn out from photo, or art, or writing, or music, but I never tire of Psychology. Ever since I can remember, it’s been Psychology I’ve run towards, Psychology I’ve held onto, Psychology I’ve spat obnoxiously at anyone who would listen. And, if we’re also being frank, of all these interests, Psychology is perhaps the most viable economically. To succeed in the others requires a great deal of luck to not struggle financially…the starving artist is a trope, but….ah. I’ll always have creative outlets at hand, but won’t rely on them as a career.

Alas, my only regret is not doggedly pursuing this earlier. My first class in college was a Psychology seminar; my last class in college was a Developmental Psychology course. Neither was required–I just gravitated towards the subject. That first semester, I emailed my favorite Psychology writers, chose a major because of its roots in Psychology. Throughout my last year, I participated in research labs regularly, contemplating the lab structure and hypotheses. I read social science articles in my free time, and chatted my best friend’s ear off about said studies.

At the same time, though, I’m not mired in regret. I see that the majority of Psychology undergraduate majors go into business. They tire of a school that burned them out, swerve the whiplash of an Ivy League, do management consulting or marketing or banking. The students don’t often go on to get Ph.D’s or Master’s, maybe in part due to the undergraduate culture. But without a higher degree, it’s difficult, if not nearly impossible, to practice Psychology.

That being said, it was not all for naught. And if anything, I’m glad that I eventually figured it out, even if it took me a bit of time. It was just in the nick of time, though, that I faced myself (corny, I know) and saw what I’d always seen, and that was a tiny, constant burning fire for the field.

The people closest to me all collectively yelled “DUH” when I had my revelation in front of Cosi. But the people in my outer social circle, friends but not best friends, were surprised to hear my detour. I thought you wanted to write or draw. But it makes sense–publicly, I’m open about creative pursuits, because they’re easy to share. It’s like a person’s mask, or a product’s package, or a home’s outside decor. But ah, the interior is always a little different, more personal, and that is what the social sciences are to me: near and dear, more personal than not, a constant quiet passion.

100 Books Reading Challenge

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Started a reading challenge project mid-spring of 2017. The goal: read 100 books by summer in a year. I’m 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!

So here’s a list of books I’ve reading; I plan to update every 10 books or so. If you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them! 🙂

  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
  16. Dignity, Donna Hicks
  17. Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant, Roz Chast
  18. Ginny Moon, Benjamin Ludwig
  19. Autobiography of Barefoot Gen, Nakazawa Keji
  20. Meow Meow, Jose Fonollosa
  21. Beautiful Darkness, Fabien Vehlmann
  22. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  23. The Skin Above My Knees, Marcia Butler
  24. Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With), Daisy Goodwin
  25. Sailing Alone Around the Room, Billy Collins
  26. Future Tense, Paintings by Alex Gross
  27. Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling
  28. Thirst, Poems by Mary Oliver
  29. Global Street Art, Lee Boffkin
  30. Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami
  31. Vintage Cisneros, Sandra Cisneros 
  32. Have You Seen Marie, Sandra Cisneros
  33. Woman Hollering Creek, Sandra Cisneros
  34. The Quiet Eye: A Way of Looking at Pictures, Sylvia Judson
  35. Blue Nights, Joan Didion 
  36. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
  37. This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz
  38. The Embassy of Cambodia, Zadie Smith
  39. Love Mad Poems, Rumi
  40. The Wolves In The Walls, Neil Gaiman
  41. Forms of Distance, Bei Dao
  42. 73 Poems, E.E. Cummings
  43. The Love Bunglers, Jaime Hernandez
  44. Little Book of Little Stories
  45. Shoplifer, Michael Cho
  46. Rick & Morty Comics
  47. Fresh Complaint, Jeffrey Eugenides
  48. Stone Butch Blues, Leslie Feinberg
  49. White Teeth, Zadie Smith
  50. South and West, Joan Didion
  51. Dear Dumb Diary
  52. Stories Julian Tells, Ann Cameron
  53. Stitches, David Small
  54. Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom
  55. Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka
  56. Pretty: Stories, Greg Kearney
  57. Night Watch, Malin Lindroth
  58. Constance and the Great Escape, Pieere Le Gall 
  59. Rapunzel, Paul Zelinsky
  60. Jane and the Fox & Me, Isabelle Aresenault 
  61. I’ve Loved You Since Forever, Hoda Kobb
  62. Corduroy, Don Freeman
  63. Buck, MK Asante
  64. Chemistry, Weike Wang
  65. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo
  66. Soviet Daughter, Julia Alekseyeva
  67. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
  68. LIFE 70 Years of Extraordinary Photography
  69. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, Timothy Snyder
  70. SHOCK
  71. Beijing: Imperial and Contemporary
  72. Abandoned America, Matthew Christopher
  73. The Polaroid Book
  74. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  75. Cats, Jane Bown
  76. The Photographs of Carl Mydans
  77. Camanchaca, Diego Zuniga 
  78. Creepy Carrots, Aaron Reynolds
  79. Lies in The Dust : A Tale of Remorse From The Salem Witch Trial,
  80. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  81. Going Into Town, Roz Chaz
  82. Doodle Diary of A New Mom, Lucy Scott

November 3rd, 2018 | Journal

I’ve been reading a lot in the past few days. Well, not a lot, but more than usual. I went through two historical graphic novels in two days and finished each one feeling shooketh. The first was about the Salem Witch Trials; it was an apology letter written by one of the accusers. Her parents had been after the victims’ property, and she and friends enjoyed the attention/power. So they writhed and accused and sent 24 people to their deaths during the Salem Witch Trials.

Another book I (just) finished was Persepolis. I’m beginning to lose track of the graphic novels set firmly in the 80’s and 90’s, all featuring revolutionary/Communist themes. There’s always Marx, always Lenin, occasionally Mao, always a grandmother or uncle who lived through it all; horrors of humanity and tragedy, tragedy, juxtaposed against cartoons. Cartoons! It makes for a wonderful memoir and good storytelling, because if these serious stories were set in thick books, they’d be less accessible.

I haven’t featured it much on here, but I’ve started a Project 365 for the year. Started it on a whim two weeks ago–we’ll see how long it lasts. Fingers crossed I’ll get through the year. I’m hoping that iPhone apps will make the organization process a lot easier. I stumbled upon an old binder of my 2013 Project 365, where I wrote long rambly blog entries next to the daily photos. Entries like those were reminders of an objectively happy time, even if I was subjectively mired in dissatisfaction. I miss aspects here and there, but only some. The photos were lovely, though. But now I’m too lazy to use my DSLR and edit my images as I used to. These iPhone apps slap on filters and descriptions in milliseconds.

I used to write those entries on Tumblr, which housed at least eight blogs. It got deleted last year. In 2016, I migrated to WordPress, you, here, and made a pseudo-portfolio, but then felt embarrassed when people I knew read anything. It is so strange how it’s easier to feel the eyeballs of a stranger on art/writing than a known person. I do not write here the way I wrote on Tumblr, which was messy, casual, slipshod, daily. Microblogging nuggets of thought, utterly mundane.

Should I post my Project 365 entries on here? Or are they too personal, and would that be spreading myself too thin? Or would it not hurt to also post them? Hm.

Weekend Roadtrip: Day 1 | Photo Diary

 

 

After a few heavyish days of work, I welcomed our Halloween weekend roadtrip with open arms.

We exited the city. Urban sights. Buildings, lanky; cars, cranky.

Traffic was awful on the way out. Extended the trip by an hour and a half. Slow eighteen-wheelers formed blocks on the 2 highway roads. The occasional snaking did little, if anything, and we found ourselves behind the same squarish white vehicle humming along at 75 mph. After an hour, we exited onto winding country roads dotted with ‘cow orchards.’

 

A horse, I pointed. Those are cows, he said.

Indie alternative playlist, light and happy. The sun beat down on the right side of the car, which I happened to be sitting on. I’d decided to wear a long sleeve sweater: this was a mistake. But eventually I propped up the window cover, and slung it over a hook.

We stopped for kolaches. I changed into a floral tank in the car. We ordered danish ‘kolaches’ with jelly-filled centers and the typical pigs-in-a-blanket. I got a mid-sized one as big as my face and munched on that as we returned to driving.

Shot with NOMO INS W.

In time, the sun set. Violently pretty, I wrote on IG Stories. We cruised along a wider highway, making our way down the road. Red-pink, orange-yellow, white-blue sky. Sky line silhouettes. We exited onto a long road of tolls.

Falling darkness. Falling parts out of the angry aggressive truck beside us.

Toll flash. Toll flash. Toll flash. Toll flash.

“Nine tolls so far.”

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Around 8:30, we stopped by a nearby BBQ hut dimly lit by the side of the road. A fake horse stood in front. We circled around the farm-like place, unable to find the entrance. Plumes of BBQ-esque smoke hung in the lot. We found the entrance. Inside were wooden seats; above, the decorative remains of a bony animal.

We reached our destination. To wrap the night up, we finished the BBQ and watched a few episodes of Haunting of Hill House, snuggled beneath the throw.

Disjointed

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In between ceramic tiles, I empathize with Murakami’s characters (disjointed, numb). I’m reminded of how disconnected I’d once felt, as if this was myself but somehow it wasn’t. I tossed and turned, ran through storms, writhed in bed. Wondered: and so how did she, this other self, feel? Because I felt nothing.

Between shallow breaths I remind myself to scale down. So I scale down. In a giant desert, I am box-like. I am a face of a salt crystal on a pink salt mountain. And collectively we are all salt grains tumbling through something vast and strange and inexplicable.

July 2016

Art Hub

I don’t feel much in the summer, not as much as I do in the winter. There’s something about the onslaught of cold—the onslaught of nostalgia, the wave of emotion, of icy blustery wintry reflection.

It’s barely Halloween and I’m ready for Christmas. We’ll have lights, I’ve decided. Rainbow lights. A tree, spindly and green. A tree, plastic evergreen, our first in years.

Cold and rain joined forces today. Yesterday was another story. It was hot and muggy and I greeted an old friend SC with a head glazed in sweat. MT had invited me to an arts festival that reminded me of small alternative spaces in Austin, New York, Philadelphia.

It brimmed with people, people with colored hair dyed bright angry neon. People with nose rings, with tattoos, with large dark eyes under heavy-rimmed glasses. Artwork lined the tables. You are so talented, I tell an artist after skimming through her comic book. Doodles. Paintings. Prints. Bags. Comics. Film. I feel guilty looking at their art and not buying it.

It made think of Philly’s first Fridays, where all galleries opened their doors and artists lined the summery streets, their work on display. And New York, but more likely every day of the week. I didn’t realize how much I missed it, basked in it, until I was surrounded by it again.