Cold Rooms and Indie Tunes

Phoenix is playing and the air is cold and dry. Song shift. Liztomania. The kid in front of me is bouncing in his seat. Cotton cobwebs are strung from wall to wall, plastic blood stains stuck on the television. This room is one of the few that sunlight finds its way into. This room is bright. It’s happy.

It’s strange how perspective can change about seemingly meaningless things, like rooms. Shifting perspectives about rooms. A person moves in, moves out, moves in. Adjusts. Readjusts. Homes relived in, over and over and over. A history. A capsule. This room once looked different, felt different, was different. It’s only a container.

I’m trying to remember what my initial impression of the room was, but I can’t remember. Clutching for memories at the tip of my recall. They’re not. Just a bluish fog of associations instead, angry political posters, Big Brother on the wall.

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Heart

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SO you take it upon yourself to judge the content of someone’s heart without ever having the chance to rip open a chest to peer inside. Instead you look at the way their arms flail or their facial expression, the way they extend a hand or recoil in fear. On a bench or through a friend of a friend, you decide on which adjectives you’ll use to describe this heart.

You decide that:

the heart is open, the heart is cold, the heart is kind, the heart is distant, the heart is hardened, the heart is shut-off, the heart is readable, the heart is murky, the heart is big. The heart is stony. The heart is a million things except for what it simply is: a heart.

It never occurs to you that: maybe we’re all just wasting our time trying to superimpose these value judgments on an organ. But that doesn’t stop us.

April 2018 | Daily Art

Here are daily art pieces from April 2018.

I’m looking ahead; it’s the final stretch. I’m anticipating sunnier days ahead, dreaming of the beach, shutting my eyes, peering over the balcony of somewhere tropical. It won’t be nearly that sunny or beachy, but the thought’s getting me through the weeks.

april 1st

Missed deadlines. You know the way water suddenly stimulates creativity and forgotten reminders? This was one. I missed the design deadline. And it’s been on my mind.

4.1.18 | Daily Art


april 2ndd

Crooning mellow tunes, soul’s skyrocket to fame banking on the nostalgic dust-coated memories of an idyllic high school days. We’re just like that one song, young, dumb and broke, except we’re not broke, just young and dumb. 

Khalid’s been playing on repeat, from early AM origami folding to concentrated midday digital doodles to nighttime vibes.Numbers saved lest one day you chalk up the pride to come back and say hi. Tell me where your love lies, love lies.

4.2.18 | Daily Art


april 5th

If I had a spirit cartoon, it’d probably be Diane Nguyen from Bojack Horseman.

Diane’s this smart and nerdyish character who’s into writing (she’s penning Bojack’s bibliography) and third wave feminism and books. Not one for social gatherings. Freaks out when her husband throws parties and does wild gestures. Hates surprises. Is a “misunderstood intellectual.” On the stubborn side. Quiet. 

Granted, I’m not Diane Nguyen–it’s just that, of all my favorite cartoon characters, I identify with her most. I love Stewie, but I can’t identify with Stewie; Louise Belcher is great, but more adorably conniving than I could imagine; Rick Sanchez is a wild, slightly sociopathic genius, but he’s a kind of his own. Ah! Diane it is. 

4.5.18 | Daily Art


april 6th

You learn to curse on the playground. You’re doing cartwheels to synchronize to songs by the Cheetah Girls. Everyone’s got their legs and back straight, pinwheels dancing on rubber nuggets.

Meanwhile, you’re spitting shit so it rolls off your tongue, easy, and when your substitute teacher compares you to the dark-haired girl in Peanuts, you say, talk to the hand. And when your second grade best friend stares at you wide-eyed, incredulous, you laugh.

If every petal was one bad word, another angsty thought. That’s a lot of angsty thoughts.

4.6.18 | Daily Art


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Lo and behold, a watercolor watermelon.

4.7.18 | Daily Art


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There are no mountains where I live. Nor are there cherry blossoms. But this image, of flowers in bloom, nature’s puff, of tiny yellow homes by the mountainside, struck nuggets of peace in my heart.

The city, in contrast, is so loud. Angry hum of bus engines, people scuttling around, loud. Cars on concrete continually. Whirs and roars and squeals and squeaks. Chorus of ambulance sirens every. half. hour. Sounds I tune out over time. But in the morning, when I tried a solid minute of meditation, all I could hear was the din I’d learned to shut out.

Madness. I’m channeling nature instead, albeit in 2D illustrations.

4.8.18 | Daily Art


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Sometimes I’ll feel little spurts of gratitude–this time, it was for the closest people in my life. Ah! What are you grateful for?

4.9.18 | Daily Art


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A nebula of nebulous thoughts, decisions, plans–or lack thereof. Of paths less traveled, of roads well-worn.

One day, it’ll seem so obvious–an epiphany, albeit late, will hold the answer to every qualm. The next day, one naysaying opinion in the middle of design will cast long shadows of doubt.

Nebula, nebulous. In looking ahead, I can opt either to diverge, or to trudge upwards. But towards what?

4.10.18 | Daily Art


A visual attestment to the importance of brows. This is a late-night sketch of a random girl, whose face I merged graphite with digital medium. Toyed around with the brows for kicks and giggles. Same image, parallel face;
she looks (subtly) different!

4.11.18  & 4.12.18 | Daily Art


april 13

I asked my boyfriend from caption ideas. “Beauty covers beauty,” he suggested. Like: Beauty over beauty. Beauty superimposed upon beauty. Beauty of nature. Beauty of reflections.

4.13 & 4.14


april 16

Toying with pastel-colored paints. There’s something so dreamy and slow and beautiful about clouds.

4.15.18 & 4.16.18 | Daily Art


april 17 and 18th

West-coast cliches, like California dreaming, palm trees swaying in the wind. I’ve been fantasizing about the beach, of sprawling under the sun, marmy, sleepy, toasty.

4.17.18 & 4.18.18 | Daily Art


april 15

Sunset, and sunrise.

4.19.18 | Daily Art


april 19

A mojito, please, and here’s our ID. I had my first mojito at the Venezuelan place downtown, the one with the meat pockets so good I stashed a palmfull in my purse. The lime and mint mojito paired with it perfectly.

4.20.18 | Daily Art


april 21

It’s remarkable when somebody understands. 99.9999% of people don’t understand, can’t understand, probably won’t ever understand. And it isn’t through any fault of their own: to understand is a true feat, really, and to expect it from others is a tall damn order. Even when it comes to close friends, or family, you can’t expect another person to know entirely where you’re coming from.

So you can imagine my borderline astonishment when, after confiding in my best friend a personal experience, she empathized with it in a heartbeat. She relayed her own experiences, mirror images of my own, back to me. I’d had my words fall on so many deaf ears in the past, to the point that I felt like a real odd one out. To have had them fall on an understanding one, years later, was absurd and comforting. To others, it’d marked deviance, something unjustifiable. To her, it was utterly normal. I only wished we’d been friends earlier.

4.21.18 | Daily Art


WHALE

A deep-sea dive into the beauty of watercolors, of mixing and blending. The technique I used here is called wet-on-wet watercolors, where you paint an invisible watery layer, then dot it with pigment. It creates a beautiful watery effect, as with the adorable diving whale above.

4.22.18 | Daily Art


 

april 23 and 24

Swoops, dips, presses: calligraphy’s a precarious dance between ink and brush control. Recently, I’ve been toying with watercolor calligraphy, handlettering with paint instead of ink. The past week of Daily Art pieces was spent experimenting with styles, sizes and fonts.

4.23.18| Daily Art

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With a stiffer, thinner brush and concentrated watercolors, I’ve been able to produce cleaner and brighter texts:

4.24 & 4.25| Daily Art

It’s had a recent resurgence in popularity over the past year, littering blogs and IG. Inspired by style, curious about the form, I got a calligraphy pen last summer, black tip marker from the local crafts store with the inspirational quote notebooks and books on minute physics.

So I took a stab–metaphorically and literally–at handlettering. The letters turned out a bit  uneven. And it was hard to get clean edges, at least on white paper. Part of it had to do with my wobbly hand, but the marker itself also wasn’t terribly ink-y, so it’d lose ink halfway. (I’d also use the marker to sketch cartoon-esque portraits)

4.26 & 4.27 | Daily Art

april 29

I tried using watercolor brushes for both the handlettering and designs, but the text ended up looking bubbly instead of sharp, childish instead of sophisticated. This, in part, had to do with the actual brushes I was using–the brush hair wasn’t stiff enough, so it didn’t hold the paint well enough to create the crisp edges I was going for.

4.28 & 4.29 | Daily Art

Sensory Clash: Washington, D.C

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The streets of D.C are wider, quieter, flatter, cleaner. D.C isn’t as frantic as New York. Or as gritty as Philly. Or as schizophrenic as Austin. There’s something immaculate about D.C., instead, something steely and modern and calm.

From up here, I watch the slow scenes of the city unfold. Cars whizz by, colorful legos beneath our legs. Human beans cross the crosswalks, Beatles-style, almost in slo-mo. Lotion pink berries bloom in angry succession.

It’s my third time in Washington D.C. I welcome the sensory familiarities.

There’s a distinct vibe to the D.C metro, clash of smells and sights and sounds. Smell of metros, musk. Row of escalators, steep. Metro-card, bendy and flappy. Gripped tightly in my palm, lest I accidentally drop it–it’s our way out, this card.

We’re encircled by large beige arches. I’m constantly reminded: we are in a giant tunnel.

The subway’s clean. Stops are quick. There’s a sign above a girl’s head that indicates where we are, and the announcer’s clean voice projects from the speakers, and she’s telling us we’re at this stop, that stop. It’s not our stop, and then it is, and we hop off the subway, back into the station, where we scan our Metro cards on the way out.

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We exit Union Station. It’s a high-end train station, fancy airport-style. It’s got spiral staircases leading up to shops and restaurants and balcony areas on the second floor. Statues and pillars greet us from the entrance. Out and back, in and through, and we’ve hopped onto the train again, and we’re hailing home.

A Fortune, A Sign

A few nights ago we got dinner at the place downstairs, beneath my spinach green carpet and mini Whirlpool fridge that hums at 4 in the morning. I did a little of my own fortune-telling.

You will have two sons, both of them gingers, because it turns out you have a recessive ginger gene. Also, your living room will have dark hardwood flooring.

Our fortune cookies came back, beige Americanized cookies of socioeconomic survival. They went a little something like this: it takes guts to get out of the ruts. And: keep your future plans secret for now.

Sounded about right. A few weeks ago, she’d ordered glasses online from a holy religious-affiliated shop online. The lenses came back with scripture on the sides.  A sign, she said.

Falling Slowly

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Weather’s been doing its usual tango-merengue between hot and cold.

I tell myself that time goes by faster around this time of year, end of October. November zips by, solid block of cold, fades around the middle. December’s usually quick, submerged in work, two weeks of wrapping things up in cold tired bows of maybe-nostalgia.

Then the feeling of surprised triumph that things are done, that it’s been yet another half of a half (of a half of half) that’s passed.

June Bugs in the Winter

skysunseti.

Saturday morning. I woke up at 5 and we arrived by 6, the wind so cold it bit into us like knives. I wore my frayed red scarf as we boarded the bus, skies were purpley blue. I watched the sunrise through the sketch of back roads, blues and oranges and rocky gravel.

ii.
Countless love triangles zig-zagged their way unrequited among the best friends. Among him, you, her, me. Your best friend. My best friend. My best friend’s friend’s then-best-friend, then his best friend, or your best friend. I was to you as he was to me; she was to him as I was to you as he was to me. Now he’s little to them and we are nothing to each other.

iii.

Cycling through obsessions like a broken washing machine. I am: drawn to the same aesthetic like a film-drunk moth. Film, film, film and light gossamer. And beautiful people in beautiful places.