Series of Fun Dates | Photo Diary

Everything’s been a blur of work, dates, work and rest lately.

I perused through some photos to see, exactly, what I’ve been up to the past few weeks. They’ve been dotted with a series of fun dates with the boyfriend–visits to the art museum, walks around hipster district, strolls around the lake, movies and dinner, etc.

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Our first trip into the city. We stopped by for grilled cheese sandwiches and bruschetta, then strolled around the shops and homes. I got my art fix at the hipster-y district, which housed some small galleries.

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Later in the afternoon, we ventured to a larger art museum nearby, where I saw works by the Guerilla Girls– in the flesh! I’d spent a few classes in university learning about them, so it was incredibly cool to visit a gallery featuring their work.

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I’ve always loved furniture stores–vast, spacious, and littered with soft beds and pillows and imaginative decor. I tagged along on boyfriend’s furniture shopping for a desk to one of the largest furniture shops in the area, where we hung out for hours.

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The other day, we visited one of his favorite restaurants, only to catch the annual accordion-tuba concert, which ended up being a mix of light comedy and yodeling. Yodeling! I’d never heard anyone yodel before.

The food, also, was terrific. We ordered wiener schnitzels, with fried potatoes and a light chocolate cake.

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Silhouettes by the lake. We took a rowdy walk around the lake after stuffing ourselves full with food, and ended up racing back to the apartment.

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B&W Film

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Film is so beautiful and nostalgic.

I picked up a small love for film about four year ago. I’d been sitting in Econ lecture, scrolling through artists and photographers when I stumbled upon a photographer.

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A year after gathering a small appreciation (obsession) for film, I took a black and white film class.We took pictures in black and white and processed them in the darkroom, shot with borrowed Canon cameras.

I photographed strangers, artwork, puppies, toys, store fronts….so on and so forth. It was then that I realized: there is so much whimsicalness in the world. So much strangeness and beauty! The panda head human: a stranger. The toy train: more strangers. I began to shift my perception, seeing my surroundings in blacks and whites, hues and gradients, shadows and bright spots.

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In the dark room, we removed the film from the tube in a room devoid of light. With washes and chemicals and timers, we processed the small rolls of copper-colored film until they were ready to hang and dry.

Then we brought the dried film into the darkroom, where we each had our own space to magnify the film images, invert them, and light-print onto a piece of light-sensitive paper. Afterwards, we doused the paper film in another long process of chemicals and washes before the sheet was finally ready to dry.

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Processing film by hand was tedious, but fun.

I found an old film camera (a Canon snappy LX) about a year ago while cleaning out the house, and ordered some Superia film in. I’ve been slowly, slowly photographing with it. I have….six rolls of film to shoot.

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When I look at other’s images taken on Canon Snappy’s online, they look like the photographs my parents used to take decades ago, when film was all they had.

Detour into Dreams

The light in our eyes, the stars in our skies. The light in our skies, the stars in our eyes.

It works both ways.

It’s been a long day. In the literal sense, but not in the metaphorical sense. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be, being on full-teacher mode for six hours straight.

Since I write about my life on the Internet…I’ve been doing a teaching gig for forty bucks an hour to kids whose homes are glazed in granite. Their soaps smell so fragrant they’ll linger on your skin for hours afterwards. The children are kind, down-to-earth, and well-behaved. The walls are decked in family photos, with quotes like, ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is.’ The family cat sniffs my toes.

In the meantime, I’ve also been eyeing graduate school, working my way into a field–Psychology–I’ve always loved.

This feels like the type of thing I would’ve done in this life, another life, any life.

I’ve always enjoyed non-lucrative passions, like art, photography and writing. Not to bash on the creatives out there, but I never loved any particular field enough to eke out a paltry annual income. But! I’ve found a subfield within Psychology that makes those elusive six figures and allows me to pursue a field I love. It’ll all take a bit of time, but it’s where I’d like to one day be. At least I do right now.

It’s taken a bit of mental gymnastics to stomach the process.

There’s a cognitive psychology heuristic called the hill-climbing heuristic, where people pick what appears to be the most direct route to their final destination. So, post college, one’s immediate goal may be to work and make money. But, for certain fields, it sometimes requires taking a step back–such as pursuing graduate school–to reach the final destination.

But I’ve been enjoying myself thus far. I really love teaching in the interim. I’ve always liked it; I used to tutor friends in science, kids in math and english, babies in math. In high school, I ran a tutoring program while working a tutoring job while tutoring friends for fun. Then I went to college, where all teaching came to an abrupt stop, since everyone was brilliant, anyways. There were programs where students were shuttled into neighboring areas to teach, but I never got around to it.

In the meantime, I did a lot of internships. Mostly in business. I was at the newspaper, where I wrote and took pictures. I learned a lot from these positions–particularly that I didn’t enjoy writing when I had to, that I felt sleazy doing PR, and that Google Drive was -insert angel chorus- The positions didn’t pay very well. They were okay, but nowhere near what the consultants and engineers made.

Upon graduation, I was dismayed by the income reports that, apparently, the university had been publishing every year. Aside from Engineering and Finance, most people started at 30-40K, despite the hoity toity Ivy League tag. Granted, I’m sure that people started off humbly, and then worked their way up, but still. Industry matters.

It dawned on me why everybody funneled into consulting, finance and tech. Because that was where the figures started at 70K and then ambled into six figures. At the same time, I was never drawn to those fields. So it wasn’t as though I was about to drop everything and apply to big banking companies because of the salary. That would’ve just been selling out, which was kind of funny joke on campus, but also not.

Then I stumbled upon this particular Psychology field and wondered where it’d been my entire life. Even though I’m not there now, it’s nice to have a goal (future) and well-paid work (present), both of which include personal passions and are lucrative.

Teaching is tiring, but it’s rewarding. I like working with my students, watching them learn, have moments of insight, struggle a bit. I remember when I was their age, learning these mind-boggling concepts, trying to recall formulas and whatnot. Over half the time, straight reasoning will do.

The best way to teach, I think–and I’m still figuring this out–is to let them learn on their own. As a teacher, I’m like a large, chattier version of a book with all the answers and explanations. I can see why some students excel in certain classrooms while others fall back. Classes are too big to account for individual differences, preferences and knowledge gaps. Teaching is closely understanding when, where and why students don’t understand.

I’d love to be a professor one day, maybe in Psychology, teaching and writing all day, but maybe later–after I’ve spent some time in the industry. As much as I love learning and teaching, I’m not yet ready to wed myself to academia.

I’d meant to write this blog entry about yesterday’s events, about the massive arcade-bar-bowling alley my boyfriend and I went to, the coconut pineapple rum, the giant furniture store, the frozen chocolate-vanilla-strawberry custard we had, the Cane’s sauce and fried chicken, the intense episode of OITNB, but I detoured into a long ramble of my goals and dreams instead.

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.

Rosy

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Pink Matter by Frank Ocean is stuck in my head.

It’s midnight. Even though I tire around 11, putt-putt on home around then, I still wage a tiny war against sleep, oft dragging it out past midnight.

I wrote in a notebook today for the first time in a long time. A brief, messy, scrawled journal entry. I am happy. I haven’t properly written in months. My old journal is somewhere, but I haven’t written in it. When I recall it, it holds a different type of energy. Tired, overwhelmed. Nearing the end. I wish I’d taken more photos with my friends, but I remember how exhausted I’d been at the time; there were just so many events…

This’ll probably all sound choppy. It’s late. Not writing makes me write choppy. The less I write, the harder it is to write.

Time flies. For a few weeks I lamented the number of hours in a day, not because there weren’t enough, but because there were too many. Now, it’s the other way around. I’m so happy, I wish for more hours in a day. I wish to stretch this happiness out, taut like putty. To max out on a happiness so simple that I marvel at its simplicity.

I feel as though I’m still getting where I’m going, so it’s not a sense of destination arrived when I write that life feels kind of perfect right now. I mean, it sounds facetious, or superficial, because there’s always something bothersome, right? But I’m at a place where everything feels as though it fell perfectly into place. There’s the happiness of being by the people I care about; there’s the happiness of doing something I enjoy and being well-compensated for it; there’s the happiness of pursuing something I’ve always loved.

Everything’s just woven together so seamlessly I can’t tell if…it’s just a rosy-hued haze? It’s just a satisfying combination of purpose, love, rest, and work.

It feels good to write. Sometimes I smile at people and my face will feel frozen. Or words will get caught in my throat. Or they won’t be there at all. In a lot of ways, writing’s just easier. Right now, it is more difficult than usual, but that’s only because I haven’t done it in a while.

Fallible

People are disappointing. People are fallible. People are real and complex and strange. We stumble in all the ways The Four Agreements says that we do.

I read the book years ago and tried recommending it to those who needed it most. To those who took things personally endlessly, who spread vitriolic poison for the sake of it, who wallowed in their own disappointments. They thought the book was too preach-y. I think it was was too on-the-nose.

Time and time again, I find that there are two sources of comfort: books and animals. Books, because they are worlds, and because they are predictable, even when they are not. And animals, because animals have fewer pretenses than people. But mostly books.

So I have stocked up on books because they bring a quiet, but palpable, happiness, and are not fallible in the mind-numbing way that we, and others, are.

Booksy Books

I’ve been feeling antsy, and gulping down books in an effort to squash summery mugginess. In the past two days I’ve breezed through five books–the latter five on my list of seventy books read so far. Three books have stood out.

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Published in 1959, its story chronicles pre-colonial life in the south-eastern part of Nigeria and the arrival of the Europeans during the late nineteenth century.

One: Things Fall Apart, a book we’d been assigned to read in high school–one that hadn’t held my attention long enough for me to finish it. By section three, when the white man and his horse had arrived at the African village to convert everyone once over into Christians, I could understand why we had been assigned it. It mirrored Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, but with a far more sympathetic and grounded portrayal of the fictitious African society.

By section three, all I could hear in my head was: White Man’s Burden. White Man’s Burden. White Man’s Burden. I kept naively wishing that the African society in Things Fall Apart could remain as it’d been described…before the Christian converts came riding along with their horses, religion, and forceful government. But that would be to rewrite fiction! ….and to rewrite history.

Soviet Daughter provides a window into the life of a rebellious, independent woman coming of age in the USSR, and the impact of her story and her spirit on her American great-granddaughter.

The second: Soviet Daughter, a comic about the author’s great grandmother who’d grown up impoverished amid World War II. The great grandmother had been fiercely independent, the eldest of seven children, a typist, a nurse, and a survivor of the purges. The author occasionally interspersed sections with her own story identifying with her great grandmother, who, like her, was open-minded, political, and embraced the arts.

The book echoed of MAUS, a book about the author’s father’s experiences in the Holocaust. It was a comic that catapulted itself into the ranks of visual literature. I’m guessing MAUS inspired a whole slew of historical biographical comics, such as the one on the atomic bomb in Japan, and then this girl’s great grandmother’s experiences in the USSR. Oh! The sociopolitical fumes of World War II linger….

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The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century.

Which brings me to the third book: On Tyranny. It not-so-subtly hinted at the pre-fascist-like tendencies that American politics has recently devolved into. It offered twenty tidbits of wisdom detailing how certain American norms have become vaguely reminiscent of those in Nazi Germany and East European Communist regimes during WWII. Its lessons were sound: investigate, beware the one-party state, be wary of the tendency to comply–as a citizen, as a professional. Why? Because institutions have risen and fallen and lied and slain and led people astray in a similar fashion.

Yet the irony lies in the fact that Americans who might benefit from reading this book, in heeding to the lessons of history, likely wouldn’t read it to begin with. I doubt that the masses–specifically, the subset of the population that tosses around the word “fake news” while consistently turning a blind eye to political lies–would ever pick up this book. Those who would pick up this book–people who enjoy reading about politics, thinking about politics–perhaps might be already aware of these 20 lessons, and might be politically active. Those who need to hear these 20 lessons most wouldn’t even begin to listen….

Those are my 2 meta-cents as I read through it. But I may be wrong. Of the three books, I’d most highly encourage others to read the third book, On Tyranny.