Saturday, December 19, 2009

It’s officially winter break now, which means long, slow days with nothing to do, days in which I get to look around and weigh the fullness/emptiness of my life. The weight of my life—most of the most substantial weight—is the writing. There is little else. Friends, family and people in general weigh very little. I am not an unfriendly person, but it takes an immense effort to want to be around other people. That is why, this break, I am only spending one week with family and three week by myself. Usually, I spend all four weeks with family, but while my physical presence is there, my emotional/mental being has already escaped during the first week, because being close to the ones I love for too long makes me unhappy. I am too aware of them. I cannot concentrate. I mourn my decision—while also acknowledging its rightness, because I have always been afraid to think on one particular question—If I cannot stand to be around my family, if I find it unbearable to be among those I love most in the world, then who can I bear to be around? If my biological family is not my true home, then where is my true home--where do I belong if not among people? Well, I am asking this question now, and I’m not afraid to look for the answer.

All these years, I’ve been disappointed that I withdraw when I am in the midst of even the most-longed-for company—while sitting next to an attractive woman, while having a conversation with an attractive woman, etc. My personal timidity, fear, and anguish makes even pondering a relationship impossible. I long for it. I obsess over the thought of finally, someday, having a romantic relationship, then—when I’m with an attractive woman, I freeze up or I realize how different I am. Different. Sometimes—how vaguely sometimes expresses such an oppressive emotion—I am so tired and worn out of being different.

How can I achieve personal romantic satisfaction? I do not want these unhealthy emotions clawing at me during lonely, cold, restless, bored winter months—because it is always the winter that brings about the melancholy. What I usually do to stave away loneliness is think on any attractive woman I vaguely know—and she is usually a writer, and google her endlessly for perhaps thirty minutes. I look for any tiny clue of her cyber existence. I don’t usually find much information, but tiny clues here and there lets me build my imagination of this woman. I build her life, her relationships, her daily routine. I build and build her based mostly on mystery and a few lines here and there, a published essay here and there, a news story here and there. This habit of mine is one of the reasons I do not have Facebook. It feels wrong to cyber-stalk these women to their personal cyber lair. I feel more comfortable googling and finding professional information on them. Reading their Facebook information is a boundary I am unwilling to cross. I am probably making too big a deal of it, but it’s something I feel strongly about. I will not spy on them without their permission. I will obsess, but only so much. So, yes, if someone were to ask me if I had a romantic life, I could say—Yes, yes, I have a one-sided romantic life which consists of me googling people I like and looking for tiny clues of them here and there. I fall for them usually based on my endless re-readings of their essays. I fall for their literary selves. I romance them by googling them in my free time, in my restless time, in any time when I feel I need a look. These are our dates, our getting to know each other dinners, our waltzes. And these women, of course, end up existing mainly in my head—in a world where their lives intersect mine and where, most importantly, I am comfortable enough to be fully myself.

Friday, December 18, 2009


As I was typing, looking into the distance of the computer screen, my eyes began to slowly focus on a strange critter right in front of my eyes—like, two inches right in front of my eyes. It was a tiny golden red spider, who had weaved and weaved and lowered itself five feet from the ceiling. The web is so thin it is invisible to me, but I know that delicate strand exists because I blew and blew gently on the spider and it spun and spun gently further from my face, and I blew softly, directing, until the spider happened onto the cup of pens on my desk, and the spider’s legs danced and danced until it grasped the side of the purple cup, and it lowered itself away from my sight.


After I realized I was gender-queer (back in September 2009), I decided that I finally knew what kind of haircut I wanted—short. I went to a barbershop, where a grandfatherly man called me son, sat me down in a comfy, swirling chair, set a tent-like old-blood colored cover over me, and commenced to give me the best hair-cutting experience of my life. And when he was done, he turned to my friend and said, Isn’t he handsome? A very nice experience.

I felt dissatisfied with myself yesterday, so I went to get another haircut. I was dissatisfied with the haircut I got, and the front was too long. So when I got home, I combed the fringe forward, took the kitchen scissors, leaned forward over the stinky, overfilled kitchen trash bin, and cut across my forehead, close to my forehead, so close that I could feel the cold metal of the scissors moving across my forehead. I then looked in the mirror, and discovered that leaning forward and cutting across my forehead was a bad idea, because now I look like I am balding in the front.

However, my new look has lifted my mood, because I like looking like I am balding in the front.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One more final exam to go, and I’ll have a month off! Then, one more semester of science classes and no more science classes ever again. Unless I decide to pick up a masters in science someday, which right now I can’t imagine is necessary. I’ll be thrilled to be a graduate student in English in the next year or two. I have fame and glory and honor to seek!

It’s freezy chilly today, which means that my fingers have stiffened. I’m typing with gloves on, and it’s working so far. Except that the pressure of the gloves around my fingers is sometimes difficult to bear. I’m seriously considering moving south someday. I don’t want to have to tolerate many more of these Midwestern winters. My knees and legs have started hurting again.

During my month of vacation, I have two main things to do—biochemistry homework (easy) and write! I’ve already gotten back into the habit of writing a few hours every day. The reason these blog posts have become so boring is because I save my best material for my essays. A few essay topics I’m working on—nail shops, murals, Halloween, gender-queer stories, family stories, hands. I write about everything. I’m serious about this writing thing. I only have this life, and I feel like I’m running out of time, so I must get to it.

I exist for stories. I only go out long enough to collect stories, and then I go back home and ruminate and obsess until I have the key to the story. I write and write. And then I am content for awhile and then restlessness starts up again and I complain and feel bored and lonely. And so I go out to collect more stories. It’s a cycle I’m happy with because it makes me feel useful, alive, existing in the world.

A big issue with me is loneliness. I often ask myself (well, less frequency now because I feel stable and strong)—Are you lonely for someone? Do you feel sad about never having been with anyone? Do you feel guilty/undesirable/prudish because you’ve never been with anyone? The answer to all these questions is yes. The best thing I can do when I feel especially lonely is go to AfterEllen’s forum and seek out the threads which deal with loneliness, and then I don’t feel lonely anymore because there are so many lesbians in the world who feel the same way I do. After I read a few threads (often the same ones over and over), I feel better about myself, a bit less lonely, because I feel in the warm company of other solitary lesbians. Then I move on with my life—writing, cooking, daydreaming, reading, suffering through my stiff joints, speaking to the silence, grocery shopping—many, many things I enjoy doing alone.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My life has changed dramatically over the course of this semester. All for the better. I am now seeing doctors regularly. We still don’t know what is wrong with me, but that’s okay. The only visible sign of my illness is my hands, which are slowly becoming crippled. I can still use them, but not as much as I want. I can’t straighten my fingers. My hands hurt all the time. Like right now. But I would like to thank these hands for hurting. They have become my truth meter, my life line, my compass. With hands like these, I have had to ask myself—Something is wrong with you. You may never get better. You may be running short of the life you’ve taken for granted. What are you going to do?

The first thing that happened were words that came in the night, whispers from that secret place, and then these words became louder and louder in my mind until I looked at them, acknowledged them, and started to say them aloud—Some people look at me and they see a woman. Some people look at me and they see a man. The truth is that I am both. And after I said these words aloud for a couple of times, I broke down and cried. I cried because it hurt to finally be saying these words. I cried into my broken hands. I cried because I had spent more than a decade being ashamed of who I am—gender-queer. I cried and cried for a week, remember all the cruel words people—friends and strangers alike—saying to me because they did not know if I was a boy or a girl. I cried for all the times I was not able to cry. And when the week was done, I was better. I became happier than I remember ever having been in my whole life. I finally fit the last piece of the puzzle to my existence.

The next thing that happened was that I finally sought counseling—to help me figure out my sexuality, my gender identity, and the pain in my hands. I’ve learned so many important lessons.

1) I want to understand the past because stories help me understand why I am the way I am. I can see the happy stories after I tell the sad stories. The happy stories are not in plain view because they are my natural state. They do not create self doubt and false realities in my mind. It is often sad stories that linger because they are painful and feel wrong. By bringing out the pain and the wrongness, I can map my way towards the happy state I am seeking.
2) It is okay to pursue happiness. I don’t have to be miserable to be alive. Disappointments will not kill me. It is okay to be a writer. It is not because I am a writer than I am unhappy. I should not equate writing with depression, poverty, and hardship. Writing is also joy, expression, excitement, adventure—the best way to have an honest conversation with myself.
3) I need to find positive reflections to fight against the bad reflections I’ve harbored all these years. People who have made fun of me in the past: it was not about me, it was about them.
4) I am not a depressed person. I have always blamed my bouts of depression on genes, hormones, destiny. I have always taken depression for granted. More often, though, I go numb because I do not know what to do. I can learn ways to lead me out of numbness.

The latest thing that happened is the grandest—I’ve decided to apply to graduate writing programs. Well, apply to one program. If I don’t get accepted, I will apply again next year. My destiny is set. I’ve always wanted to pursue a full-time writing career, but I always thought I didn’t deserve it. I thought I deserved to be unhappy. I’ve been unhappy my whole life. Perhaps I should try pursue doing what makes me happy.

This semester, which ends next week, has been an amazing and glorious experience. I am not the same person who started out the semester. I’ve never been able to say this before. All these years, I’ve been the same person just trudging along—unhappy and ill at ease with myself, hateful of myself, disgusted with myself. The simple act of saying—Some people look at me and they see a woman. Some people look at me and they see a man. The truth is that I am both—this simple declaration has changed my whole future. The biggest difference in my new self is that I no longer feel lonely and needy. I actually like myself, and so I don’t mind at all being alone in my own company. That has been the best gift so far.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My siblings and I each have a hamster. Today, my brother’s hamster died. We have only had her for a week. When I came downstairs, she was lying on her side. Now, usually, when hamsters sleep, they lie on their stomachs, curled as tight as possible, and their breathing in sleep is a rapid fluttering. My brother’s white hamster, whom he named Ariel, was not breathing. I opened the cage door and put my fingers on her, trying to startle her awake, but she did not move. I’m waiting until my brother wakes up and then I’ll tell him.

How easy death is. And how sudden. Ariel was fine yesterday night. There is no sign of sickness on her. No wounds.


My brother was shocked to find Ariel dead, but he buried her, went back to PetCo, and got a gray hamster. He also asked about what might have caused Ariel to die, and he thinks it’s because Ariel had been sleeping in her own urine and got sick from it. We’ll be more careful in the future.

This morning, I had to wait for four hours before my brother woke up. Those hours were a little scary. I sat in the dining area at my computer, knowing that Ariel was dead in the living room a few feet away. I didn’t know what to think. I shut my thoughts down for awhile. I feel sad, but better now, knowing that she is properly buried in our backyard. We tried to treat her well, and I think she lived a good hamster life with us. R.I.P. Ariel.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Here's day two of my "year" and I love it so far. Waking up in the morning at 6:45 AM and not allowing myself to sleep until 10:00ish is difficult. By 6:00 PM, my head is foggy and I'm grasping at things to do to stay awake for another four hours. Good thing is I get all my school work and business done before 6:00ish, but geez, I'm too sleepy to do fun things, like write and sketch. The most I can manage is to sit in front of telly and be a drone. However, I am content at the end of the day because I am accomplishing what I need to do every day. I have no unfinished business.

And rarely do I feel guilty about being a sixth year undergraduate. Perhaps because I know I am in the right place and I am living my life to the fullest of my potential. On TV and in the media, when people find out that they only have one year to live, they live it out--traveling, seeing the world, filling their days with everything that will be gone when they fall asleep for the last time.

I think the most adventure I'll ever have is here in my head. My city, my college, the people I encounter in my life--it is all enough to fill this year. I think--more than anything else--I am afraid of expecting life, decades of life, and not receiving it. If I plan to live for decades and decades, and I do not get all these years, then that will drive me crazy. I start putting off LIFE, the everyday enjoyment and completion of LIFE, because I expect endless days. The expectation of endless days destroys the beauty of every single day. However, living day by day, receiving every year like a gift, I can do. If any forthcoming day could be my last, then it should be lived in perfection, as I want to live, as I would want my last day on Earth to be. These last two days, I have felt that I could die any minute, and I would be ready. That is what a full, accomplished day gives me, and that is exactly what I need. Nothing more.

I used to think that if I was only given one more year, I would give up everything--school and my career plans--and go back to my family, and spend the rest of my days finishing the book I am writing. That's impossible. That's not my life. Today, I am content with the stories I have written. And these two days, I have imagined something beautiful. On my desk is a stack of written pages. All one inch margins, all double spaced, 12 point font in Times New Roman. It is my essays--all the finished ones, all the ones still in my head--all completed. I don't know what I have to give except these pages.

I try and I can't imagine all the expanse of time before I was born, and I can't imagine the expanse of years after I am gone, and I don't know that these few years of life that I'm given--what was it all for? I don't know, but I have faith in those pages.

So I'll continue my life as it is, and I hope I can finish those pages.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Goals, aka what the hell is wrong with me?

Today was the first day of the new school year. This marks my sixth year as an undergraduate. I haven't written or sketched in awhile, and I am overwhelmed by everything happening in my life right now, so I am going to make a list titled "Goals for the new school year," which will hopefully organize all the stories on my mind.

Goal #1) lower blood pressure.

This is a big one. For the past year, I have increasingly felt tired. I sleep all the time, eat all the time. There was a time early in my college years when I went to school full time and had two jobs. Last year, just being a full time student was too much. During the summer, I had no energy, or only enough for a sketch or two everyday. I felt like I was living in mud. Starting in April, my knees started to hurt. Then three of my fingers stiffened and I could not bend them. In the middle of the night, I would wake up and my right hand would be numb and I could not move it. I would panic, touching my left hand to my right and it would feel cold, like a slab of meat, no longer part of me. I would concentrate on my hand, until I could feel it tingle and the fingers move little by little. I told my father, who told me that he too had this problem when he was young, a little boy. Finally, I went to the doctor. I haven't seen a doctor in six years. My blood pressure was really high, abnormally high, "if you don't take care of this, you will die in the next few years" high. I have had my blood analyzed. They don't know why my blood pressure is so high. I am on medication now to reduce my blood pressure. I feel better. I have more energy. I can do ten things in a day instead of just one thing. I am eating moderately, sleeping better, living easier.

Everything's back to normal, right?

No. This was just a warning. There is something wrong with me. I don't want to talk about it. It's not mental. It's physical. Fixing the blood pressure does not fix what is wrong with me. Perhaps doctors will figure out what's wrong when it's too late. I am aware of it. There's nothing I can do about it except live day by day and hope.

So this is the reason for this post: life goals for the school year. What if I only have a year to live before I die? What would I do in that year? I have thought and thought about this and the answer is: what I am doing now--going to school, preparing for decades of life. However, I would change things, so that if it is indeed my last year of life, it would also be my best. This is the only way I know how to live. I have lost my ability to imagine my life years and years in the future. It causes too much sadness and depression. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I can't imagine what I am not sure will happen.

What I can imagine is a year's worth of goals . . .

Goal #2) sleep only 8 hours at night. no more naps. There's only so many hours in a year's time, don't waste it asleep. There's eternity to sleep.

Goal #3) wake up early and study in the mornings.

Goal #4) don't stress

Goal #5) keep up with this journal.

Goal #6) don't mourn love. love is beautiful. accept that those beloved women can't return your love. they can't. it's as simple as that. accept your feelings, but do not force your love where it does not belong. no mountains of desperate yearning will change what does not yield. You have no control. love simply is or isn't. love simply then. there's a year's time to love. choose wisely love.

Goal #7) think positive. you've spent a lifetime thinking negatively. stop it.

Goal #8) study diligently, but do not let grades consume and frighten you.

Goal #9) finish the essays about your father, your life, the things that really matter to you. these essays are important. stop procrastinating. finish the story you have to tell. don't write because you want fame and fortune. fame and fortune are out of your hands now. write because you need to write. finish your story and there will be no regrets about a wasted life.

Goal #10) sketch what brings you joy and happiness, and sketch only that.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sketch #33

This is me as a little girl. No title yet. Kind of awkward-looking, but I'm practicing my ink lines. I've been in a black-n-white mood lately. Yesterday, I tried to force myself into color by doing a watercolor of a still-life. Ha. The key word here is forced, and I blew it in less than half an hour.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sketch #32

No title yet for this one.

It's unfinished. I was supposed to color it in to give to little sister Kim tomorrow when she visits, but no matter. She can advise me on it. I felt uninspired today and so blotched a sketch. Whenever I force myself to sketch, I always blotch, and it's always disappointing. I felt uninspired, so I watched Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Hayao Miyazaki's work always inspires me, perhaps because he is an environmentalist and a feminist and his work reflects both. I mean, at his studio, he purposefully made the women's bathroom bigger and cleaner than the men's because he wants women to feel welcomed. I love this guy. If I were a guy, I would want to be exactly like him.

There's not much special about this dragon. Its face is weird. Its anatomy is weird. It's supposed to be a water dragon but there's no lines that shows it swimming through water. However, it is special for the fact that it came wholly from my imagination. I set pen to paper and sketched my very own dragon. In all my 23 years, this is a first.

Usually when I sketch, I feel fake because I have to look off of a model. This technique is not necessarily bad except that I am distracted from the sketch's needs and certain aspects of the sketch looks weird, like the face or the arm. It is better to sketch from dreams than from real life. Even if that dream sketch is blurry and confusing and anatomically incorrect, the method of capturing a vision from a dream is the best method, because the imagination is not bound by the the physical reality of a real-life model. Being an artist is about capturing the inner vision. It's about pursuing the creatures that haunt the mind. It's about the inward journey.

This whole summer, I've been mostly alone. My loneliness is the main reason I'm improving as an artist. No distractions. I have plenty of time to look inward and follow the dream beasts and dream women into the dream universe, where the best stories are.

I look at these few pitiful sketches on this site, and I know they're not enough. They're never enough. And that makes me happy. There's a wonderful world out there. Each time I watch one of Hayao Miyazaki's movies or I see a wondrous painting, I know that art can bring to life my inner wishes and dreams. Each sketch brings me closer to the door into that world. I feel like I've lost my way all these years and I'm not exactly sure how I got back on the right path, but I'm grateful I'm finally here.

I used to think that a muse, a real woman, would be the only way I could have my art, but that's not true. Women, as much as I love them, are distractions. My hopes and dreams and desires become bound up in them. I give everything. I hurt. I scream and there's not one of them who answers me. No matter. I am done with the pursuit. I keep saying that, and even if it's not absolutely true this time, each time I make my vow, it is strengthened. I can be anything--alone, rejected, denied, hurt--as long as I have these sketches. Why? Because she is there waiting for me in the dream world. Why do I sketch women so much? Because I've seen glimpses of her. She can lead me into the world where all dreams come true and where I'm the person I was always meant to be. If it takes 100 sketches or 500 sketches or 1000 sketches, I have faith. Sitting here, I make this vow--I will triumph in this journey. I go on this journey not because I want to enact revenge on all those women I couldn't have. No, I do honor to them by loving in the best way I know how.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sketch #31

The blue background is watercolor. See how the paper is crinkled? It's because I freakin' need to start doing watercolors on real watercolor paper. Note to self--You freakin' idiot! Hmm, come to think of it, I like the crinkled effect.

From now on, I am going to discuss the sketches I post. If I'm going to improve as an artist, I need to talk about the sketch. Posting and staring and mentally wondering what is wrong with the sketch is not working. I end up falling behind on posting "finished" sketches, like right now when I have nine finished sketches that I haven't posted. I won't post them all at once. That's just stupid.

Hmm, maybe I should start naming my sketches too. This one is "Dreaming of Moonlight." I don't have any complaints about it. I mean, there's nothing else I can think of to add. Not sure of what I was trying to sketch in the first place.

Oh great, if that was my attempt at discussing, I just failed miserably. Oh well, perhaps I'll figure out what's wrong tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sketch #30

Sketch #29

Sometimes, I feel like the person inside of me is capable of evil.

Sketch #28

I've been in a dark mood lately.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sketch #27

In honor of my sister getting her first tattoo in the last few days of her 18th year. She got one on her lower back. These are the ancient Vietnamese characters of her full name. BTW, this is not her back.

Sketch #26

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sketch #25

She makes me think of an elf.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sketching and Self-Reflection

I like the way a good sketch makes me feel more alive. When I’m infatuated/in love/obsessed with someone, I see more hues. I see more clearly. That’s why it makes sense to sketch during those times. Now, though, I don’t feel much for anyone. There’s Lady Librarian, but she’s more like a dream lady to me. I’ve given up trying to speak to her. I just wait until she turns away and then I give her back dark, smoldering looks. And I try to memorize her.

Is that creepy?

Well, I’ve given up being normal, being conversational, being healthily among people. Now, I spend lots of time by myself, staring at the wall or laying on the couch staring at the ceiling or squatting next to one of my plants and staring at a leaf.

More than a few times, I’ve told my sister Christine that I feel unbearably lonely. And she rolls her eyes and sneers back—Well, no wonder. It’s been years since you’ve called [name] and [name] and . . . And then I would feel even more guilty because it’s true. I am guilty of leaving so many friends behind. One day, for no apparent reason, I just stop communicating. I can’t even give a good reason to myself. Most of the time, I don’t know what I mean by lonely.

Well, lately, doing all this sketching has made me realized what I mean by I feel lonely. I feel lonely for myself. When I’m really busy, I feel lonely for the deepest, truest part of myself—who is an artist and a writer. I’m a creative person who has given up art and writing to pursue science. And it has cost me. I don’t know how to survive as an artist and a writer, so I’ve chosen a career. A scientific career. And I’m afraid that I’ll wake up one day and realize that Myself has left and what is left is a shell.

This summer is a gift. I am so glad that I failed two classed and they put me on probation and I have to spend a whole extra year in college. Because If I hadn’t failed, I would be spending this summer pursuing my scientific career and wondering why I felt so unhappy. Instead, I failed, hence I have an easy summer, hence, I chased after Myself, hugged her back into my mind, placed a sketching instrument into her hand and a sketch book into her lap, and told her to be herself.

Sometimes, I feel like going back to former sketches and reworking them, but I don’t. I have less than two months of vacation left, and I need to get as many sketches done as possible, because I am pursuing . . . something unexplainable. I’m . . . pursuing art. That’s the best way to put it. I am racking up ideas for the empty, sad times ahead, so that I can look on this blog when I’m not sketching, and I can see that my art hasn’t died yet. Oh, so dramatic, but I feel like these sketches are headed somewhere. Maybe it’s the birth pains of developing my own artistic style. Who knows.

Even last year, when I painted a thirty foot long beach mural, I could not have sketched like this. And I am not currently obsessed with anyone. So why am I sketching like this—as though there were a purpose to these sketches? Maybe, just maybe, I am pursuing my artistic career? If so, I have cause for celebration.

Sketch #24

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sketch #23

Sometimes, I become mesmerized with one of my sketches. I wonder—Who are you, strange one?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sketch #22

My brother and I went to Hobby Lobby and the mall today. I got another sketch book, some more sketching pens, and my brother got watercolor paper and charcoal pencils. We had to sit around for twenty minutes to wait for the bus, so we sat in the food court area, which features a carousel. I looked around for something to sketch, and my eyes lighted on a bunny. My brother said~ You should sketch something that doesn’t move. I said~ I know, but there’s nothing else interesting. So for the next ten minutes, I watched two boys get on and off bunny and I sketched it as it rushed past me every few seconds.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Meals on Wheels

Today, as part of my Community Nutrition class, I delivered meals to the elderly and infirm for Meals on Wheels. This is the report I wrote about my experience~

On July 1, 2009, Kyle and I delivered six meals to Meals on Wheels participants within Columbia. Many of the participants were shy but very polite. When they opened their doors, I always began with, “Hi, I’m a university student and I am delivering your meal today.” The participants, all elderly except for one, would glance quickly at us, then stare at the floor for a moment, and then look around for the meal. I usually stumbled while saying my introduction because they would be reaching for the meal quickly, and then politely but adamantly saying, “Thank you,” and be closing the door—all quicker than I can twelve words. One elderly woman was the exception. She was watching for us and met us in her driveway and had kind words to say to us when we told her we were university students. The last woman we delivered to was not elderly, but her voice trembled as she said “Thank you” and she was breathless, almost dropping the meal as we handed her bag of bread over. It was my impression that it takes great courage for her to open her door to the world everyday.

I had a wonderful time delivering the six meals. Meals on Wheels “meets the psychological and nutritional needs of homebound elderly participants” by providing human contact as a nutritional meal is delivered five days a week. The food looked good. My stomach was growling. Perhaps for many participants, this is usually their only human contact for the whole day. Many homes, as we stood in the doorway, smelled musty and dusty, as though unused to company. Perhaps the participants were shy because we were new people to them, but if we delivered weekly, I think we could have eventually been able to chat and be friendly. Many participants seemed ashamed to be receiving the meal. Their downcast eyes and abrupt movements speak of shame, and I wish I had a way to reassure them that there is no shame. Instead of saying, “Bye, have a nice day,” I should have said, “Thank you for being part of this program.” That’s the way I felt—thanks for letting us feel that we do not cast away our elders into loneliness and hunger.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sketch #18

There’s a beautiful and sad story behind this sketch. This weekend, I’ve been listening to Deep Forest’s “Sweet Lullaby.” The native song, called Rorogwela, is from the Solomon Islands, and it is about an older brother comforting his young brother after their parents have died. This is what I imagine they would look like. Here are the lyrics and their translation~


Sasi sasi ae ko taro taro amu
Ko agi agi boroi tika oli oe lau
Tika gwao oe lau koro inomaena
I dai tabesau I tebetai nau mouri
Tabe ta wane initoa te ai rofia

Sasi sasi ae kwa dao mata ole
Rowelae e lea kwa dao mata biru
I dai tabesau I tebetai nau mouri

Sasi sasi ae ko taro taro amu
Ko agi agi boroi tika oli oe lau
Tika gwao oe lau koro inomaena
I dai tabesau I tebetai nau mouri

Sweet Lullaby

Little brother, little brother, stop crying, stop crying
Though you are crying and crying, who else will carry you
Who else will groom you, both of us are now orphans
From the island of the dead, their spirit will continue to look after us
Just like royalty, taken care of with all the wisdom of such a place

Little brother, little brother even in the gardens
This lullaby continues to the different divisions of the garden,
From the island of the dead, their spirit will continue to look after us

Little brother, little brother, stop crying, stop crying
Though you are crying and crying, who else will carry you
Who else will groom you, both of us are now orphans
From the island of the dead, their spirit will continue to look after us

Sketch #17

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sketch #16

I know—seriously—a glass cup?! Am I so bored with sketching interesting women that I have resorted to water?! No, I just wanted to celebrate the fact that I now have real sketching pens. For the last three weeks, I have been sketching with foul pens that give out if I press too hard or if I press too softly or if I just press the darn wrong way. Not to mention the fact that those pens make me a lousy artist because the lines are so thin and light that I always make tentative lines and tentative lines mean that there’s no flow, no life to what I’m trying to sketch. Then, sometimes, when I’m trying to make thin and light lines, a humongous splotch of ink will burst out and ruin the sketch! Argh!

I am confident that the sketching pens—Sharpie—will usher in stronger bolder lines. Not to mention the fact that each pen costs $1.25, so if I buy 50 Sharpies, that will only cost $62.50!!

Pens are one of the few things I absolutely enjoy buying. I have fifty Magna Tanks, the only type of pens I write with. Twenty are still in their packages, fifteen are on my desk, and fifteen are in my school bag. If I do not have a Magna Tank with me at all times, then it’s like walking around naked. Magna Tanks are essential to my life. They allow me to write smoothly, without having to press too hard. They can be usually relied upon to not give out. Observe how smoothly they glide across the page:

I was very disappointed to find that Magna Tanks do not make good sketching pens, but now that I have observed and delighted in the wonders of Sharpie, I am content.

Sketch #15

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Artwork #1

I have problems with all of the sketches I’ve posted. (If anyone viewing them can tell me what’s wrong with them, I’ll be eternally grateful. I love advice.) Most of them are unfinished—hence, lots of white space. I post them either because I don’t know what else to do with them at the moment, or because I realize that the sketch has suddenly veered into an ugly direction and if I continue, the ugliness will make me nauseous.

For example, Sketch #11:

is sort of okay, but really, it is absolutely lifeless. There’s no movement to it. I’m the type of person who’s too self conscious to dance or sing, so I let my sketches dance and sing for me. On the dance floor, I am a broken doll, but, honey, when I put that pen or pencil to paper, I know my moves. Well, sort of—I’m still a bit awkward, but I’m always learning new moves, and that’s what counts, right? Anyway, in Sketch #11, she looks bored stiff as she looks at Mr Giant Butterfly. The lady’s body looks limp. Her neck looks stiff. She looks high and haughty. Heck, Mr Giant Butterfly has more expression on his face. After I finished sketching and shading in Mr Giant Butterfly and compared him to Stiff Lady, I thought I was going to lose my lunch right there.

She’s not the type of character I like to reside in my imagination. If she’s not going to be amazed by Giant Butterfly, I want her out of my life.

So what went wrong with her? Well, here’s my theory of what is a sketch versus what is an artwork. A sketch is a copied thing: I either copy it from real life (like my feet) or from a photo (like the mother.child sketch I gave to Lady Teacher). And that’s the problem. It’s copied. The movements and shadings of my drawing instrument are dictated by what I see, not by what I feel. When I sketched Stiff Lady, I had to concentrate on getting her proportions right—on getting her eyes in the right place, her nose the right size, her arms the right length. In short, dear reader, I was not being an artist, I was being an obsessed technical perfectionist. And that’s why she came out so stiff. I was not ready to let her be herself. I was in too much control. On the other hand, a real piece of artwork is this:

Maybe I’m being an idiot show-off right now, but I’m really proud and happy with how Lady Butterfly is turning out. Lady Butterfly is a re-rendering of Stiff Lady, but this time, I let her be herself. I looked at her, listened to her, and she finally whispered to me that she looked stiff because she was jealous of Mr Giant Butterfly—and that she herself wanted to know what it would feel like to be a butterfly. So here she is, transformed—Queen of the Butterflies.

I am really happy at the moment. It has been almost three weeks since I started sketching again, and finally, FINALLY, here is my first real artwork of the summer. I will finish her wings and all the tiny details, and then, the Gods and Muses willing, I will beg my mother for some expensive French watercolor paper and put her in watercolor. I think Lady Butterfly would like that a lot. Of course, it’s going to take forever to finish the watercolor, but in the meantime, I can look forward to posting more Ugly Sketches and posting more snide comments about them. I will now go celebrate Stiff Lady’s transformation by . . . eating a large slice of apple pie.

And, of course, cheers to the memory of love.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why I Sketch

There was a high school teacher whom I adored for years and years, even after I didn’t see her again. I stopped talking to her because I wanted to be emotionally healthy and sane again. And then for years, I taught myself not to think of her every day. I never told her how I felt, but I think she guessed. As of now, I don’t think I’ll ever see her again, even though she wanted us to stay in touch.

I felt sorrow when I saw her during those last few times three years ago. Before our last meeting, I emailed her and told her how I felt about women, and then we met for dinner, and during the dinner, I realized that nothing could be the same between us again—not with the knowledge of the way I loved and perhaps why I told her. There was no way we could treat it lightly, when there is always love on my face when I see her and when she always turns away, perhaps knowing that I am watching her and the reason for it. If I had known that telling her would mean saying good-bye to her, I would do it again exactly the same way again. I have no regrets.

She is engaged now and will probably be married soon, if not already. To a good man. He has a son by a previous marriage, and so she will be happy, I think. I am happy for her.

Once every few months, I forget that I’m not supposed to think of her, and I search the internet for her name—to find pictures of her and save them, and to find where she is teaching now and how she is involved with her community.

When I sketch women, I always sketch women who remind me of her—if not by their physical features then by the expression on their faces. She is beautiful, but I did not notice until a year after I first met her. What I noticed first were the varied expressions on her face as she spoke about things that mattered to her. I was captivated. And then one day, while listening to her, I looked at her, really looked—and realized with a shock how beautiful her face and body were. Suddenly, her expressions and movements had glow and effervescence, as though I had suddenly opened my mind to her. That was when I first started to imprint her into my memory. She is still the most beautiful woman I have ever known. When I sketch, I sketch the memory of her. I sketch hope and imagination and magic—I sketch what life would have been like if she were mine. In my imagination—if never in reality—she is mine to love.

I pretend that I don’t love her with my whole heart anymore because it keeps me sane. All these years, I’ve tried to love other women just so that I can forget her.

One day, if I ever find a woman who will spend her life with me—it will be a different kind of love. The way I feel now, for this woman whom I’ll never see again—it is a love based on deep, quiet yearning—and this love has affected the person I’ve become, more than anything else that’s happened to me. I may put thoughts and memories of her away, but they are still there, buried deep in my treasure chest.

I suppose she is my muse. I painted murals for her. She has several of my artwork. If I could, I would give all my artwork to her. The first artwork I ever gave her, I gave idly, not really caring, just thinking, oh, she might like this, but the expression on her face, and the way she touched the inked lines so delicately with just the tips of her fingers—I felt as though she were touching my heart with the same love and delicacy.

Here is that pen-and-ink drawing~

And that’s why I sketch. Not only because I like observing the world through an artist's eyes, but mainly because of the memory of love.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lady Librarian

There’s a woman on my mind.

The most essential goal of my life right now is to be emotional stable—for long periods of time—perhaps forever. I’ve done an excellent job so far this summer. However, there’s a woman on my mind. So how to deal with this? I read lots of AfterEllen posts which say—Oh, there’s this girl. XYandZ happened. Does this mean she likes me? I’ve never felt this way before. Also, ABandC happened recently. Why is she giving me mixed signals? What should I do? I never reply to these posts, but I often think that there are two clear options—you either pursue her or you don’t pursue her. You either decide to sit down and have a heart to heart chat or you don’t. In my situation, the clear option right now is I don’t pursue and I ignore. If there are unclear signals, then I decide that it’s all in my imagination and go from there. Too many times in the past, I interpreted something incorrectly and . . . let’s ignore the Romantic Tragedies of My Life, shall we?

I don’t have the Flirting Gene. Instead, I have the Awkward Conversationalist Gene. Many times, when involved in a conversation, I purposefully say something really stupid or weird. To spice up the conversation. Very detrimental. In contrast, when someone flirts with me, I clam up and stare. I know the rule is that when someone flirts with you, you flirt back. However, I have a very slow brain. It takes me at least a minute to understand a joke. My sister can attest to this fact. Flirting, I understand, require immediate and correctly coy responses. I am incapable of this! Hence, I will not pretend that there’s anything going on.

Now that I’ve made it clear to myself what I will and will not do, then I will now proceed carefully to unburden my mind.

I tutor at the public library in the children’s section. I often see a certain librarian. She has short black hair, waving off of her forehead, deep set gray eyes, and a voluptuous figure. Her skin is so white—like cream? –like ivory? She usually wears a long sleeved black shirt and black pants—which goes well with her white, flawless skin.

I don’t know her name, her age, her marital status, her sexuality. Henceforth in this blog, I dub her Lady Librarian. I have tutored for five years, and so I’ve seen her once in a while. This summer, I am tutoring Monday to Wednesday, and when I decided to tutor, one of the chief attractions was seeing her. I think—since I want to settle in this town, I can look forward to seeing her for years and years to come. I will stop tutoring someday and settle into a job, but I am a ferocious reader, and as long as she works at the children’s desk, I will see her, since I read lots of YA literature.

There are certain people, who—when I see them, make me feel happy and safe—simply because they are who they are. I like to memorize people—to write about them, to sketch them, to think about them, and I’ve spent lots of time thinking about Lady Librarian. I don’t know anything about her. Is that a chief attraction? Possibly yes, since everything is in my imagination. Everything is possible. She could be everything.

Here’s what I want—if not to pursue her. I want to have a nice conversation with her. I want to be able to see her, say hello, ask her how her day is going, and go from there. I want to slowly get to know her. She enjoys talking to people. One of my favorite things to watch is Lady Librarian strolling among the shelves. When a child asks for a book, she strolls purposefully to the shelves. I’ve watched her countless times. I have no qualms about watching her, because how can she notice little me sitting at my tutoring table? She strolls back and forth, picking books up, pushing in chairs. Once, I dropped my pen, forgot about it because I was busy tutoring, and she strolled by, knelt, picked my pen up, and placed it next to my hand. Now, if I were a quick thinker, I would have looked up and said thanks. The perfect thing to have done could have been to lay my hand gently, briefly on hers.

However, what happens usually is that I ignore her. If she is walking behind me, I don’t turn around and say hello. I pick up my pace. There were many, many times when I could have glanced up or stopped for a moment as I passed her station, and said hello. It doesn’t have to go anywhere, I could simply say hello, smile, and keep walking. There have been a handful of times when she engaged me in conversation, and I always messed it up. Always said something stupid.

Yep, so that’s one of my goals this summer—act normally with Lady Librarian.

Sketch #5

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009