Lotus Flower

I did not choose to grow here.

I see myself as a displaced flower, uprooted before she was planted, a seed placed miles and miles away. I am, let’s say, a lotus flower. From a country far away. One day, I sprouted. Maybe under the sunny bright skies of California. Somewhere Western. And all I knew were the soil and skies and trees of a Western world.

And there were Western songs. And Western values. And Western foods that made people balloon and swell and topple over from heart disease. There were color coded hierarchies. And color embracing schools. There were plastered banners of ideals, never obtained, of bars that will never be reached. And there was money. Lots of money. Unevenly divided, but money, still. Oh, and shit-talking. Lots and lots of shit-talking. Because shit-talking was her prized possession baby.

She was theoretically free. She was chained by things that half of her would screech about.

This is Western air I breath. And Western words I write. My mind scrambles to translate to my mother tongue. I feel irritated when quizzed, scrutinized, over my minute vocabulary. I comprehend the way I read–vertically, in chunks, taking in the entire scene.

I did not choose to grow here. But I do so, begrudgingly, albeit mostly contentedly, because with physical comfort comes mental comfort. There is food to eat. And water to drink. And clean carpeted homes. And space, and clear blue skies.

But it is a hollow step-mother, a cutout adopted family, and this is Cinderella, couched in her stepmother’s magnificent home. It is lacking in significant ways. In this tiled gated home, ripe with waste and excess, I have no desire to engorge myself in deep fried meats. I have no desire to shoot a rifle. I have no desire to make silly clownish political statements, or yell, or scream. Where is everybody else? Where is the real food? Where is the real music? The real dancing? The culture, the culture?

And when I return to this home, a home I had never been, I feel the deepest, most explicable sense of home. How do you return home when you’ve never been? This, I realize, is biological. It’s deeper than simply sprouting where you are planted. It goes back seasons, centuries, for an environment to be just right for that particular plant–but I was uprooted, like so many others.

And I never assume that I am like them. Plants in the new environment, I mean. I can feign it–I speak it, and I most likely seem it, but it’s a facade. You can take an alligator out of a swamp, raise it in the desert, but it will always have been from a swamp, no matter what you tell it. You can brainwash it. You can tell her to participate in rituals of the patriotic. You can make her place her hand on this part of her chest, memorize poems about fabric, worship strangers of the dead. But it is all surface level, environmental. External. As internal as socialization can be.

No matter what anyone tells me, no matters what is shushed or socially right, nobody can convince me otherwise. She is a queen, a sleeping dragon. And I am convinced of it. I hope she breaths and flies and wakes soon. I have been planted alongside the fat rich happy little Western boar, who snores and powerfully kicks up mud when angered. There is not much that I can do. Because I did not choose to grow here.

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the things we can’t control

Some things in life we can control. And some things we can’t.

Things that fall into the former are tangible, goal-oriented. Things like hobbies and personal goals (diet, for instance) and academic goals and so on and so forth. Decisions we make. Decisions we’re able to make. And these decisions, consciously made, little by little, shape and frame our lives. We choose to read the book. We choose to say yes or no. We choose to use that extra hour sleeping in or working out.

But then there are the things we cannot control. They depend on luck. On chance. On however the universe, or God, or Buddha–or whichever belief you subscribe to–is feeling at that particular moment. These things are tied to the inexplicable. Sometimes they’re serendipitous. Other times, tragic. Love, and whether it is returned, and whether it even is. Illness. Lotteries. Birth lotteries–the families we are born into. The job. The dream job. The uncontrollable, inescapable circumstances that surround us.

When it comes to the former, I try to do my best. I set goals; I try to reach them. What’s within my control shouldn’t be handed off as a toy for “fate.” I’d rather not just wait and see the consequences of what I do. I’d rather be conscious of my decisions in the here and now. I review the material. I leave ten minutes earlier. I send the emails. I exercise, read, draw. Tangible. It’s all easier said than done, and maybe it’s more of a mentality than anything else. In psychology, it’s framed as an internal locks of control. I don’t let life happen to me; I make things happen.

But when it comes to the latter, to the things we cannot control, I try my best to let things be. Or, well–I try to let chance and fate intermingle. I cross my fingers and hope that the universe is feeling generous. Sometimes it is. And in those moments, things are easy. It’s not a battle between the heart and mind. It’s not wanting one thing but following another. It’s not an unrequited pursuit. The position, which I may have never considered before, is there. The feeling is there. The right person or people are there. It’s happens smoothly, effortlessly, in a slow moving cliche of puzzle pieces fitting together. These are not things I may have ever anticipated or hoped for. And yet they simply are, or will be.


It’s 1 in the morning, and I can’t sleep, and I’m aware I seldom write posts like these. At the same time, it feels necessary to articulate this feeling. A year ago, I felt similarly, but I wanted so desperately to be here. And here is a reflection, I guess, of my heart, and of the latter–“things you don’t quite control.” It feels like I am supposed to be here, in a strange metaphysical sense. It’s like deja vu, like I’m dreaming, like I’ll wake up to where I was 365 days ago, and this’ll all have been a mirage.

Musings are my Muse

portraitI stayed late at the bookstore today. I finished another book, fifth this year, about Frida Kahlo. (Her husband, Diego, seemed like a faithless oaf. Was a faithless oaf. But his money and fame–I think that carried Frida a lot.) The sun set. I didn’t go home. I stumbled upon a book that reminded me of old friends and their strict parents. After reading a little over a hundred pages, I called it a day.

It felt like when I’d stay at the bookstore late in the city. I’d say late, until nine or ten, maybe eleven, and it’d be cold and dark outside. But there’d still be people. And lights. Lots of lights. Dotted in the sky. And I’d feel so small, eyeing the buses, alone but okay, but alone.

I’ve still been playing Identity V obsessively. Ever since the game came out in June, I’ve played it nearly every day, several times a day. I used to play Hunter more than Survivor, but now I play Survivor all the time. I’d rage too much as a Hunter, since I am temperamental. Last night I raged unnecessarily over World War II, and today I felt irritable. It’s much easier to just not talk to people when you’re irritated with them.

But sometimes I would just resort to ghosting people because I was so irritated. I read a lot about ghosted victims on news sites catering to millennials. As a ghoster, well, sometimes it feels easier to avoid people than to confront them. And sometimes–this sounds terrible–confrontation doesn’t feel worth it, worth the relationship. Maybe we barely knew each other, or maybe I was too angry, or maybe the issues were too deep, or maybe they weren’t deep at all. Maybe we met once, and maybe you thought we’re meant to be, and maybe we meant a lot to each other, but it seemed easier to cut the losses and go. Sometimes it meant too much to say anything. Sometimes it meant too little to say anything.

I’ve dreamt of people who are no longer in my life. Old friends, old best friends. I dreamt of a few last night, some old best friends. Funnily, I saw them as my two first viewers on Snapchat. Subconscious recall, maybe? We ran into each other at Wal-Mart, the three of us. Let’s catch up! But then I left. And then there was that one other best friend whom I could never muster up the energy to really dislike. She wore a magenta dress, and it flowed. She pretended not to notice.

Old friends. It’s been years. When I was younger, I would skip from friend to friend each year. I’ve had one consistent best friend since 2014, and that’s been my longest, stable best friendship. Five years? Yes, five years. She used to call me incessantly at the beginning of our friendship. I would decline them all. Eight missed calls. Eight missed calls! From the girl in my calculus class. I thought she was looney toons, but I’m glad she clung to my avoidance. I remember when I first met her: I saw her from across the room eating a sandwich, and I decided I’d tell her about my journey of getting into Calculus. Later, we ate lunch together, and I said I didn’t like talking while I ate. She said she didn’t either. I wore white flip flops while we talked and walked to the food court.

I feel swaddled by warmth and covers. My train of thought ended there. Abruptly. I’ve just been seeing a steady stream of dreams and memories, weaving themselves together.

I forget how much easier it is to write things out than to say them. I don’t talk as much about these odd musings in real life–they’re intangible, rambly. But on text, they take on a shape. It’s like liquid, ah! taking the form of the container. And you, wordpress, are the container.

I’ve just feel devoid of thought or inspiration, particularly because I have been feeling consistently happy. I was moody for two straight weeks last May, because I was sick and it was cold, but otherwise, I haven’t felt the familiar pangs of inspirational sadness. The gripping abyss of theatrical sadness. I shouldn’t rely on that, though. There are other, if mundane, things to be written about. But ah, the serious topics seem to alienate the Internet. The silly topics as well. I think musings will just be my muse. They have been my muse.

Art Display

My art exhibit is up! And it’s the first public display I’ve ever done.

I remember my first “collection” display. It was a school one. We spent saturday and sunday mornings framing our pieces. At the show, on some school night, students and parents filed in, casual dress. I remember how I had staggered my pieces and how I ended up dissatisfied but how it was too late to change it. My works were okay, but the display didn’t look as good as I had hoped. I think a few people commented, but mostly people oohed and aahed at students on the other side of the room.

I didn’t really like the old ‘contemporary’ stuff I used to do. There were lots of bloody noses and whited out eyes, strange doodles and abstractions. I’d float around in photographic pieces. I embraced mental illnesses in my personal project. I loved psychology so much that I was blind to the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I’d look up various ailments, then attempt to embody them. That was in my larger work, the paintings and photographs.

I think the experimental part of my sketchbooks, angry and loud and messy, was still better than my more recent doodles. My art has gone downhill in the past few years. It’s mostly because I haven’t practiced art as much. Even so, I think I’ve been able to find steady footing in a more traditional, fine art style. I didn’t do landscape paintings much when I was younger; now I do. My portraits weren’t very hyperrealistic then; now, more are.

These works are more mainstream, probably frowned upon by contemporary art purveyors. But I’ll say it now and I’ll say it loud: contemporary art sucks. Yes, artist, you can paint large purple squares. We all can. This child can. This child is! But your artist’s name alone commands millions, so let’s just waste space, literal gallery space, on big yellow triangles. If you can’t tell, I am disgruntled at our current culture’s embracing of bad art. I don’t know how there is such a large disconnect between common-sensical taste and the scribble-loving highbrow gatekeepers of art culture.

I just saw the netflix film velvet buzzsaw. It got bad reviews from critics, probably because it was a huge satire on the critic industry. The laughed-at tropes were spot on. Spoiler alert! I mean, from the tormented emotional mentally unstable artist to the critic’s overly-big-words to the trash-as-art scene, it was too apt. A comedy and horror all rolled into one. Less fear and more suppressed giggles.

But ah, yes, back to the art. The real art, the real exhibit. This morning. A handful of people chatted with me about the art, their own lives and experiences. Do you teach? No. Are you selling? Er, yes. Is this your job? No. And then a woman and I sat down and talked about art and writing, and she showed me her photos.

I kind of miss having conversations with strangers in regards to random art-related things. I miss it a lot, actually. I’ve struck up so many conversations with strangers while holding a sketchbook or camera alone. It’s interesting how those tools of expression will spark up a comment, a friendly smile, a fullblown conversation. I’ve made friends by simply bringing sketchbooks to coffeeshops. There’s so much to learn from other people. I mean, it’s odd, but maybe not, that we don’t normally go around talking to random strangers. I enjoy it–maybe I will start to draw more in real life. Maybe I will meet people, and maybe I will not.

In the past 10 hours, somebody has left a voicemail. Another has left a comment on my wordpress saying the blog ads looked unprofessional. Well, sir, I’m a mere hobbyist who made the site two weeks before the display. My site isn’t really to sell–it’s just an online display. Ah, ads aside–it just makes me happy that my art is no longer sputtering dust in the closet (!!!)

Meandering

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We’re listening to music. We’re contemplating sell-outs and non-sell-outs. We’re letting ourselves be moved by tunes, present and past.

Kendrick didn’t sell out. Chance didn’t. Childish didn’t. Arctic Monkeys did. But did the Arctic Monkeys? I don’t think they did–their last album was subpar. Then I chirp that Taylor Swift did. Oh, yes, obviously. But none of the artists we really listen to–they didn’t sell out, right?

I wish I knew how they came up with their music. Their albums, their lyrics, their songs, the story. Lil Wayne! He threw in four or five other artists, too. How do they create music? And what sparks it? Is it emotion? Driven by emotions. I knew people who would be sparked by emotion. But then how’d they go from there?

Silence. I don’t think I appreciate music as much as my boyfriend does–not in the same way, at least. I couch myself in music, and when I feel moved, I play it. It’s beautiful but formulaic–playable, doable, not a beast to be analyzed, just one to experience. And even then, tunes are a dime a dozen, a synchronized pattern of followable tunes.

What’s their process? How do they go from there? A thought? A tune? A feeling? A breakup?

I chew on the thoughts. I’m on the train of thoughts with him, meandering away.

when we were younger

disposable film 35mm photography
“you know what i thought of the other day?
our childhoods are for our parents
they remember our first steps
they remember what we liked and what we didn’t like
they remember what we ate, what we didn’t eat
our childhoods
they’re their memories to have,
not ours
as you grow older
your life becomes yours
but when we were younger
it was once theirs.”

– april 23rd, 2015 | 4:08 pm

Something my best friend said to me a few years ago.

Scattered Thoughts | Journal

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My heart is swelling and I feel so warm–

But maybe it’s the noodle soup I just made. I added some canton noodles in boiling water, added leftover beef, hastily washed some bok choy and threw it all in. I had a small packet of seasoning and added that, then fried an egg to top it off. It all sounds complicated but it really wasn’t, it was slipshod and angry, delicious and warm. Yum.

Last night I was up blogging and WordPress wiped it all clean. Thanks, WordPress. The tiredness coupled with irritation led me to bed. What had been on my mind?…

Ah. I’d written about our celebration at the tower revolving restaurant, where the sun set beside our waygu beef and wine. God, that was a good night. The weather warmed graciously and I wore my dark blue off the shoulder dress, huggy, but not too much so, and nude flats. Le beau wore a blazer and button down and jeans and brown shoes and a man behind us wore the exact same thing. We settled into our table. Our waiter had flair.

We ordered expensive food that came out in painfully small portions. The flavor exploded constantly, evolved, weirdly tantalizing. And we chatted, which I filmed on time lapse, and I peered at his hair and his eyes.

After two hours he ushered us outside for a show–a football game on TV, I assumed. Then he whipped out tickets to the orchestra, which I’d always wanted to go to, but never had. It was a little yelly, because the comedy troupe just yelled, but the entire experience was wonderful. And everyone around us wore suits and dresses, so it all felt very fancy and upscale.

I’ve now returned to life as it is, with homemade noodle soup and sleepy texts on the couch. Journal entries are all I can seem to muster up nowadays, but it’s alright, I s’pose. I am happy is all.