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.

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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.

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.

Color of Puce

I used to have a photoblog on Tumblr; ’twas a personal space where I’d upchuck photos, from selfies to texts to conversational screenshots. I feel pings of nostalgia as I revisit them. For a moment I forgot why I shut the blog down, stopped posting, ultimately privated it. Then I stumbled upon a brief explanation on why I wanted to start over, this time on WordPress:

June 2016

I’ve been traitorously blogging on a WordPress (coolpeppermint.wordpress.com) as of late i.e trying to rewrite my memory and put things to words again since I’m not as afraid to do so anymore. I spent the past year and a half mildly terrified of the 26 lettered alphabet and what sorts of public verbal atrocities I’d commit with it. But after some time I was like, you know, fuck it. Fuck it, I’ll write, I’ll paint, I’ll hide, I’ll draw, fuck it.

So, well, fuck it.

In some ways I feel like this photoblog has outlived its initial use (scared of words; photos seemed opaque enough) Even as a “photographer” or “artist”, images never felt enough, and while visuals are lovely they will never suffice. And there’s a lot of residue here: I made this in the midst of some severe soul-searching-crashing-self-annihilation bullshit. I also just want to write in a clean space.

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So there you have it, and now I’m here.

I might photographically migrate over here when I get back into photography. Photos remind me of how much I love my life, even when I feel like I don’t. They capture moments, phrases, emotions, temperatures, memories, fragments–there’s something so exceedingly personal about photographs, a kind of visual intimacy.

Disposable Diaries | Roll 1

God, I love shooting with disposable cameras. There’s an art to shooting film: getting perfect shots are a crapshoot, so experiment; humans are better photographed candid than posed; keep subjects far away so they won’t be blurred; there has to be just enough spontaneity to really make the photo.

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There’s an ineffable quality to disposables that I have difficulty putting into words. I can’t explain the beauty of it except that there just is.

For a while, I associated disposables with old school, low quality shit, elementary-school days. Times when phone cameras weren’t a thing, and real cameras were too valuable to let kids use. So they gave us these cheap hunks of plastic to take onto field trips and ruin. Fast forward ten years and now I love disposables; I drool over experimental film. And I don’t think I’m the only one enamored with film aesthetic. Polaroids, the high-end cool sister of disposables, are ‘in’. VSCO and Instagram, popular iPhone apps, emulate traditional film with filters, light leaks, etc. At some point, though, light leaks weren’t a deliberate digital effect on photos; they were film ‘mistakes’.

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Usually I find that the less planning, the better. Which, initially, might be counterintuitive. Unlike with digital cameras, you can’t photograph a hundred images and delete the worst. You have a limited number of shots, and you won’t know how they turn out until they’re developed. But meticulously planning photos, whether with iPhones or DSLRs, takes me out of the moment. I’m more concerned about the image than the scene, the post than the place. Film’s quick, immediate, doesn’t give me time to ruminate or edit or post. It’s more fun to keep an eye out for interesting places, odd angles, messy spaces, take the shot, and go.

Oftentimes, the photos turn out better than I’d have imagined. It’s a little hit-or-miss, but the best film photos are better than their digital counterparts.

Reblog | Interview: cxxxxxxxx

Thought cxxxxxxxx’s work was really beautiful. Reblogged via Interview: cxxxxxxxx — Asexual Artists

Today we’re joined by cxxxxxxxx. cxxxxxxxx is an incredibly versatile artist who has dabbled in almost everything but has most recently focused on zines. She has a great love for art and it’s very apparent this love has transferred into making zines, which are fascinating.  […]

 

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PINK

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the Wacom drawing tablets at the library and darting into the media room any chance I get. I’m just about to go draw on one, actually, once my meeting’s over and I’ve returned my camera.

Yesterday I hauled my camera around everywhere I went, from my interview with a cafe owner to a protest and a downtown party. At midnight I felt strange and dizzied having occupied so many different spaces within the same physical space.

All because of a camera. I started off using cameras to just document my life, from the most mundane to most hilarious. Now it serves as my segway into certain sociocultural spaces. The camera’s my bridge, my excuse to be present and empathize; it’s my invitation to momentarily inhabit areas I normally wouldn’t. It gives me a glimpse into lives and lifestyles I ordinarily wouldn’t peer into because I just don’t live or feel or experience life the way many others do. But the camera gives me a second to listen, to maybe understand. 1’s and 0’s of digital data, but I see binaries, social constructions, a tizzy of bodies. And as I looked at my photos last night I thought: here’s privilege and oppression embodied. How peculiar it is to visually document both abstractions-realities in a day.

Thursday was a long day. It’s been a long week. I’ve only felt okay enough to peer at recent photos, but otherwise they’ve been left untouched. There’s a lot of emotion, I think, in them, in the people whose anger and blitheness and fear I’ll photograph. I want to do something ‘artistic’ with them, display them in some particular way so it’s cohesive. But that’s something that’s been lacking recently, a sense of real cohesion. I mean, I don’t know. I might just post them on here because this is, like, my little bubble of art-meets-text-meets-photographs. Here, I’d like to capture a snapshot of personal expression while erasing my external identity. Nameless, faceless, just a digital body of expression. Sometimes I wonder if I can operate, to some degree, as anonymous here. That’s something else, though, something unrelated. But perhaps not.

For the most part, I’m just hoping to get lost in art today. Art as solace, art as escapism, art as a way to get very lost in my head. With art, I’m so focused I lose track of time, forget where I am. Flow.

Mellifluous

Class got cancelled unexpectedly; on the walk back, I wandered into the piano lobby. There’s a song I’ve been listening to, Vanilla Twilight, that has a really beautiful melody. It’s by Owl City, an outdated band I haven’t really listened to since I was twelve and meditating on fields and spouting things about sunsets. But the song’s stuck with me for years because it’s sad and pretty and meaningful.

So I played that by ear, and it was surprisingly easier than I thought it’d be. The song sounds rife with minor notes and I’m rustier with minor black keys (couldn’t tell you if it were sharp or flat, just that it’s some sort of minor). It was mostly major notes. Simple melody. And the chord progression was predictable, too. In retrospect, maybe that’s why I find the song beautiful over a period of time, because it adheres to the magical unsaid rules of predictable melody.

A boy named Bryan stood behind me for a few minutes while I was talking with my friend at the piano. I turned to him, figured he wanted to play. He said that he just wanted to tell me that the piano-playing was beautiful. I thanked him, and then he swiped back into the building. It was kind of him to say and made me really happy.

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Things I might be certain of:

We’re swimming in norms no one person decided. Maybe the sky is blue. This may or may not be a dream. I like writing incoherent text posts at one in the morning. I deeply suspect that a part of me secretly enjoys–thrives on–the stress of procrastinating and the last-minute headaches of: oh God, oh God, I have an essay due tomorrow and I’ve no idea what the prompt is; I didn’t pay attention any of the times my professor touched upon the paper so now I have to ask around for the prompt and I really should have done this sooner.

Oh. I did fine on the last paper, the one I wrote the afternoon before. The fictionalized one. I don’t write fiction, I haven’t written fiction, not since it got squashed out of me in HS. But when I was eight I liked writing fiction, fiction about girls with blonde and blue hair (all those Mary Kate and Ashley books getting to my head) I never wrote about aliens or dystopias but I guess I’ve been thinking about that a lot (all this data mining getting to my head) so I wrote a paper about it. My TA said he’d have liked me to elaborate more on the story, which I don’t think was even included… Was there a story? Mostly it was like an excruciatingly drawn-out description. I did this my first semester, too. I came up with some drawn-out fictionalized character reading from a book I hadn’t read and then–then what? I did fine.

This is a cycle. I procrastinate, do fine, grow lax in my ability to churn out last-minute papers, then get headaches the day before. I think it’s part laziness, part perfectionism, part I-just-want-to-do-it-because-I-can. I mean, I don’t know.

I keep wishing it’s Christmas. Yesterday I went downtown. Twice, actually. First to wander around the city, second to celebrate my roommate’s birthday. On the car drive back we passed by bars and clubs and concert-cafes and it was so odd catching glimpses into people’s lives–like the city equivalent of peering into brightly-lit homes in suburbia. To see some of the things/hear some of the sounds/feel some of the vibes these other people are experiencing, it’s like witnessing something that isn’t yours to witness or feeling nostalgic for lives you have not lived. God, it’s so unnerving, so mundane at the same time. I can’t explain it. Something to do with seeing. Living, if just for a moment, vicariously through so many people you might never see again. Maybe it’s like the concept of scopophilia we learned about in my queer politics class, just the sheer pleasure of looking, of seeing. Maybe.

Also, ah. Like the happy drunk who cries oh I love you, you know that, right? Totally. I feel exhausted-quiet-grateful for the people who’ve been in my life for years. Raises glass. No, but really. I think sometimes I have the tendency to drift like driftwood, tumble like tumbleweed, forget incessantly to respond and get back to people. (By sometimes I mean always) People come and go. So do roses, foxes, and Little Princes. But in the past few years, a handful haven’t left. And so Oct 17th 2016 1:14 AM I’m going to be grateful for that. Yes, yes, this is my puddle of gratitude.

Sketchbook

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Found some digital copies of my 2013-2014 sketchbook for art class the other day; we’d be assigned to research different artists who’d inspired us, then creatively combine findings, thoughts, and critiques on their works.I’d write about Warhol, Otero, and Picasso, jumping from one art form to another–one week I’d cover satirical pop art, then self-portrait photography, then Cubist paintings:

Projects // Ideas

Inspired by The Journal of Disposable Thoughts, as well as alum who railed on about the importance of having passion projects…Some personal projects and ideas I’ve been toying around with:

1. A video project I’ve been meaning to do since June or July. I’d like to compile the video footage I took of life and strangers in China. Was inspired by WANDER IN VIETNAM, which I found on Vimeo last summer:

2. 100 Strangers Project. Haven’t updated in eons–I still talk to strangers and keep note of their stories, but I never get around to posting them. I’ve also felt averse to photography for the past few months and so that probably has something to do with it. When I have time, though, I’ll update the project…And, ideally, reach 60 strangers by the end of the year.

3. Last spring I thought of painting a series relating to It; this summer I thought about compiling a space where I could throw up everything about It. Like, oh, a digital timeline, the shortest one  you could imagine. Just a chronology of songs and art and quotes and notes-

But I only painted a rose and stopped there. The whole thing seemed, uh, unhealthy. And indulgent. But I guess that’s one excuse you can make for art and shitty feelings. Latter fuels the former….(Reminds me of a piece in Brain Pickings on artist Marina Abramovic’s Turning Trauma Into Power.)

How could I complete it? Well, I could paint Ophelia. And, oh, what else? Nail-biting-brainstorming. Most likely I’ll focus on filling up two more canvases and then just have a 3-piece series on the topic of It, which I’ll have to also give a better name later.

4. This, uh, photography project idea I’m contemplating doing. Won’t divulge details, it’s a little unnerving, and I wouldn’t know how to explain it to people who don’t understand (?) Still. There’s an odd allure to it. And there’s something inside of me that really wants to do this. Guess it amplifies/draws into question the relationship between the photographer, the camera, the subject… the nature of observing and capturing ‘moments’, huh.

5. Something to do with music, something to do with instruments. I could learn a piano duet piece to play with my friend. Usually he watches piano videos to learn songs, and I’ll play them by ear. But I think it’d be fun to learn new songs and to practice sheet-reading, something I haven’t done in months… and I miss the flow of making music. God, you know that moment when consuming music isn’t enough–you just have to produce it, too? Otherwise you might explode? It’s been a while since I’ve felt that towards any one song. But I can’t sit around waiting for musical muses. I’ll find one.

6. Sketch and paint the people in my life. Give people in my life said sketches. Last week I gave VS a painting of The Little Prince; on Friday, I gave my TA a comic-ified version of a poem. All summer I kept wondering: what do I do with my art, what do I do with my art? Well, I could give it to other people (…If they wanted it)