Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Shelving memories

I'm wondering how much I can remember from each year of my life. If I were to try to extract all the memories I have from each year I can remember, what would I get? To help, school would be used as a framing device, since I know I'll be able to recall things better if I can remember what grade I was in and who my teachers were, and from there I can remember the names of my classmates and where I might have been sitting, and from that I can remember certain class assignments or funny things that happened then, and who my friends were and what things we might have done in elementary school. Some memories would easily fit into certain years, while others would kind of hover around in the area of "elementary school" or sometimes in "that time before I went to London for vacation, and after I became friends with so-and-so." If the specifically placed memories sat on shelves numbered by year, which themselves were stacked one above the other, I could draw the larger vertical brackets for elementary school and middle school and adolescence, etc. where the hazier memories could sit, and they could wait out there in the margins till I remembered what year they were from. Meanwhile the other memories would be packed in tight like socks in a drawer or spread out loose like a silk shirt, depending on what the number of memories for that year was, and if I guess the shelves were drawers instead, and if sometimes one large, thin memory covered the year pretty well.

But that would be kind of fun, right? If we wrote down all the years we've lived and tried to make notes to indicate any broad swaths of memory we've still got like that we played cards after finals in 7th grade with people we didn't know very well and it was surprisingly fun, then we could see all the blank patches and the times that were supersaturated with memories (I think colorful balloons for some reason). It's getting weirder for me to realize that when I remember middle school, I only have 3-4 overarching, go-to memories, and if I rely on those and think, right, middle school was those 3-4 things and a whole lot more, I'll forget the whole lot more slowly over time and then one day they won't really be there. It's weird that I know a whole year happened, probably with a lot of stress and anxiety and joy and awkwardness, and I can only remember one thing from that whole year of experiences, like somehow a year's worth of stuff was condensed into one memory, or bits from that year fell out until only that bit was left. I'm not sure if one averaged out memory or a random sampling of one memory from a year's worth is better.

Just now I was trying to review my Spanish, and one of the sentences I was supposed to translate reminded me of this moment in class, and it might have been Spanish class, but I'm not really sure. But it was a moment when I was sitting with 3 or 4 people, and we were supposed to be working as a group to do some I think holiday or unit-themed assignment that was slightly embarrassing. I think the assignment was to use the new words we had learned to act out a scene where someone is single and looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend, and everyone else is vying for their attention. For some reason someone in our group ended up volunteering us to present our scene from our seats and act out the dialogue. I remember I was supposed to convince our bachelor that I was the best choice, while my other classmate was supposed to present himself as the better choice, and he said something about how he made a lot of money because he or his parents were doctors, and then I'd said something about how money doesn't matter, and that I cared more, and the person who was choosing between us ended up being very diplomatic about it in sort of a weird way, because he spoke really formally, like he was weighing job offers. He said something about how he could see the advantages for both, but in the end he chose one of us (can't remember who) because (I can't remember why, but it sort of made sense. It had something to do with how because the other guy or his parents were doctors, they must ___, so he would rather ___ and so he chose __). I just can't place this memory. I'm not really sure it was Spanish class, because I don't think I knew enough Spanish to say that exactly, and I'm not sure my classmates knew enough either. But I just can't imagine in what other class or situation this might have happened. Anyway, maybe I'll remember sometime. I don't think I've recalled that memory in years, so there are a bunch of holes. I don't remember whether I was in middle school or high school, or who my classmates were, except by gender and generalized personality, or who my teacher was, except that she announced the assignment with joy and some people groaned, and she might have clapped her hands together to get our attention to announce the last assignment of the day.

I'm starting to think actually, that it might have been in this Chinese class I was sitting in on, because we might have known enough Chinese to go through that scenario. I also just placed the classroom and now the group and everything is fitting together, because we were sitting near the door and there weren't that many students in the class, and I'm pretty sure we had just learned majors and occupations and how to say that a job was lucrative. We definitely learned how to say doctor. Mystery solved!

Sometime, I'll do the listing the years and extracting the memories from each exercise. It could be almost like a bookkeeping thing, just for memories and for fun.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Resolution

1. Start early.
2. Do what you say you will do. Make it into a habit to follow through on everything you say you will do, even (or maybe especially) if it is just to yourself. Try to establish a system of consistency for yourself, and follow the consistencies others follow, like celebrating holidays on time and sleeping at night, because it'll make you more responsible. Really!  Tip to get this done: focus on the system rather than the goal (from http://jamesclear.com/goals-systems). Also a random quote: "We begin to work only when the fear of doing nothing at all exceeds the fear of not doing it very well." —Alain de Botton 
In other news, I've accumulated this very long list of interesting advice/lessons for myself that I almost never look at. It's just there, a repository for future reference. I just checked and it's 18,527 words. I occasionally scroll through it when I add something new to the bottom, but there's just too much to go through for it to be practical/useful. It's a mainly a compilation of quotes from random articles I've read where the advice or story is surprising and seems useful. One day I'll organize it and put in all the correct sources where they're missing (see resolution 2). Maybe I'll post bits of it as I organize, whenever that happens.

Well, that's all. Our neighbors are throwing off some major fireworks. Here is the cutest default smile emoji (do people not really say emoticon anymore?) I've seen in a while ☺.

Happy New Year!

Friday, October 9, 2015

October 9th, some scribbling and a thought

our simplest signs from another day
Dear October,

It’s the ninth already. We’re moving so quickly! Yesterday, I got together with Tar, Rim, and one of our classmates, and we pretended to be 6 year olds, drawing and making posters for an imaginary lemonade stand as an ad campaign exercise for psychology class. It was surprisingly relaxing. I think it would be so therapeutic to have a six year old drawing session every week, just to de-stress and get out of our graphic design (and other college-major-imposed) mindsets. Even when we were just starting on our posters (our group was a mix of graphic design and illustration majors), we really had to tamp down the urge to sketch out the composition… Two of us immediately took out pencils and sketched for a few seconds until we remembered that we were supposed to be six year olds—unimpeded by hesitation! Maybe. So we went in with our sharpies and crayons and chisel-tipped markers, and it was such a relief to just let go.

I had a random thought today, while I was absentmindedly tearing a few layers of paper scraps on my desk in studio. I’d cut pages of my book draft out of the center of several sheets of paper, and all that was left were white floppy frames. I kind of absentmindedly tore these frames into segments as I talked to friends in studio, and there was this strange tactile quality to the slow and steady ripping that made me wonder what it would be like if I spent a whole year ripping this one segment of paper. When I finally pulled the two pieces apart completely, would I feel some sort of relief? Would it feel surreal, to suddenly have ended something that I’d been working on for so long? I don't know why I was wondering this, because it seems like there's no point in wondering about it, but I just couldn't let go of that thought.

song of the day: Tell Me What You Want From Me by Good Old War - a good, upbeat song from the Kodaline concert (Good Old War played too) I went to, and super fun to sing out loud in a crowd


Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 4th, it's not so busy

the view up from our 'secret' spot
Dear October,

I liked the weather today. You weren’t very cold, or overly windy, so I didn’t really need my scarf, but I also appreciate that every fall you remind me how soft my winter clothes are. I’m proud of myself today because I left studio earlier than usual, and all my friends and I are going to get a lot of sleep tonight. Part of it is because I’m working as part of a group for this project, so things get done more quickly, and brainstorming is so fun and snappy. Sometimes I forget how helpful it is to bounce ideas off people.

I’m slowly finding myself missing the feeling of reading a book in my bed in the evening. I can’t remember the last time a book made me stay up late at night!

Things have been a bit low-energy since last week… Yesterday I even watched movies with friends while we worked in their lounge. One of the movies was Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I’d put off watching for a long time because I wanted to finish the book first (I’m 60% through it?), but I just never did. I didn’t have very high expectations for the movie, but it was actually really good! I hope I’ll read the book sometime.

song of the day: Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift - Jam is obsessed with this song.

See you tomorrow,


Sunday, October 4, 2015

October 3rd, it was cold and there was food

looking for interesting sites with a friend
Dear October,

It’s really nice to see you again! It’s getting cold a little too quickly for everyone, I think, but sometimes when I’m dressed just right for the weather, it feels perfect. Like today, when Tar and I hiked along the canal to an open field that seems to have no purpose. It’s especially windy right by the canal, and it was so cold that we only did 2 sketches before our hands were too frozen for us to continue. 

Tonight is Waterfire too… I can hear the music through my window, and sometimes it’s this strange, ominous music, which is VERY characteristic of Waterfire, but later in the night, like right now, at 10:33pm, sometimes they’ll play surprisingly beautiful music, with high tones and just a slight eeriness. It’s always instrumental music or opera. The fire is dwindling down at the canal, but there are still some people walking by around all the stalls.. the assorted nuts stall, the pastries stall, all the vendors with their art and ceramics and jewelry… kettle corn and clam chowder, which always runs out early… the occasional accordion player and shadow performance, and the parade of blue paper star lanterns that glow in the shady park by the water… I see it all now from my window and hope it doesn’t end soon.

Later, I went up to a friend's room to work but then got distracted by the random movies they were playing, and we ended up watching Mean Girls. Jam was making creme brulee in small ceramic cups, and I got to try some of it today. According to her and her roommate, Rin, it has the texture of flan and isn't crispy enough on top. "It's supposed to be like an egg," said Jam, pretending to hit the top of the creme brulee with an invisible spoon, "it should crack." To me it was just slightly too sweet, and Rin and Jam laughed about how Jam had accidentally discovered how to make flan without gelatin. "Oh well... creme brulee test number one," said Jam. She has said the same thing when she tried to make the lavender latte I kept talking about but could not find here. 

Everyone was cooking today! I think we all just happen to be in a lull with work. It's really not very common usually, but this year seems to be a little different. Earlier today, I arrived back in my dorm to find that my roommates, Eggs and Mint, were already cooking soup and vegetables. I just boiled corn. It's really nice, cooking with people and being with people who are cooking. 

song of the day: Unclear by Kodaline - because I went to their concert last Monday with Jam and Lays, and it was amazing.

See you tomorrow,

P.S. I know I skipped two days... I have them and will perhaps post those in the near future.

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 5th, I visited friends

more related to yesterday's post, but look at the yellow trees!
Dear October,

Today was a good day. I’m currently in a friend’s room, and no one is awake, but everything is calm. There’s music playing quietly from my laptop, and I like this wooden table that my computer is on. A few hours ago I facetimed an old friend from pre-college, whom I haven’t spoken to in 3 years, and I talked to my parents, and I talked to more friends. I listened to good music today, and had too much sleep. I played around with homework due in a few days. My friends visited my room, and I visited theirs. Something I’ve noticed is that showering at night makes me feel like I’m in control of my life. Isn’t that strange? I think it’s because I’ve been showering in the morning most of the time, and as nice as it is to begin the day refreshed, I’m always rushing rushing through everything then. At night it’s calm, and the times I do shower at night, I actually am doing okay with time and sleep and things. It’s just a funny thing. Tomorrow class begins again, and that’s fine. Nothing particularly good happened today really, and there’s a fair number of things I’m worried about that I’m not usually that worried about, but there’s just a general sense of goodness running through the day.

Also, our dining area has fortune cookies that you can pick up every time you get a meal, and I picked up one today as I usually do, and this one said this: Pass the bill to the person on your left. Fortune cookie writers are funny people. Also, I think it’s my turn to buy toilet paper soon.

song of the day: High Hopes by Kodaline - I LOVE this song right now. A friend introduced it to me a few weeks ago I think, when I asked what song was being played. And then my pre-college friend recommends the remix.

See you tomorrow,

October 4th, I closed some blinds

pool-like reflections, seen from Jam's window
Dear October,

I wonder whether you mind when people close their blinds. I closed some blinds today because I think it’s weird when blinds are open at night, since it’s so easy to see inside if your lights are on! It’s weird for me when I meet people who don’t mind that at all. Since I’ve gotten here though, after I turn out all the lights, I tilt the blinds so that I can see the city outside from my bed. It’s a really nice way to go to sleep, and a great way to wake up. From my window I can see the first yellow tree of the fall, and the yellow is spreading slowly to some of the trees around that tree. It’s so gradual but so exciting to see the change from here. I wonder how quickly you’ll change.

You may not have been able to see much of it, as I closed the blinds at some point, but I worked with friends today, and then we took a break and played our traditional group-game of cards. My friends were very silly, which made me want to be sillier, and afterwards we sang loudly to disney songs and maroon 5 and thai songs that only two people could understand. We also did squat jumps, because it’s tiring and fun to do. I went to one meeting for martial arts, and that plus kicking is the most valuable thing I learned there. Squat jumps are just what they sound like—you squat, then jump, and pull your legs up with you. You should try to do 20 of those.

Earlier in the evening, a bunch of us were working in Jam’s living room. Jam was drawing boxes, and Tar, Boo, and I were working on separate design assignments. Suddenly Jam asks, should I cook noodles? Boo says yes, because everyone likes noodles, and anyway instant noodles are quick and smell good. A few minutes later, Jam is standing in front of the kitchen sink, facing away from us, apparently still contemplating. Boo asks us about one of her compositions, and we talk about moving things into corners and the word, “suspicion”. Taryn mutters to herself and occasionally says something aloud like “WHY is this—“ and I plug some nice calming music into the stereo. From the kitchen we hear, “Did Kevin use all the garlic?” And there’s Jam standing in the same place, looking at the cabinets with her hands on her hips. She contemplates. “But that was a lot… There was still like, half the garlic in there!” I finish a few letterforms for class, and Boo calls us over again for feedback. Half an hour later, we hear sizzling and there’s this gorgeous steam rising from the stove, and everyone smells food. Tar gets up to see what Jam is doing, and in a little while Jam brings over a big bowl of flat wiggly noodles with mushroom and onion and beef. I’ve never seen noodles shaped like those, but they reminded me of the tentacles you see under jellyfish. So Boo is looking at the noodles, so Jam asks if she wants some, and Boo says, yeeees. Jam puts another bowl right under the lamp we’re working by, and the steam rising from it is glorious. I tried to record it but caught it a little too late. Tar asks if she can have some noodles as well, and so do I, and Jam brings over a few plates and chopsticks and places them on the table. We've been eating for a while when Tar says,

"You know, when you said you were making noodles, I thought you meant instant.”

“Yeah, I was wondering why you were standing there for so long, thinking about it. I thought, it’ll just take 3 minutes.“

“—And then when you were asking about the garlic, I was like, wow, she’s getting fancy with those instant noodles!” Tar and Boo laugh and high five, laughing over “the extent of their cooking skills.”

“And then we see you at the stove with REAL noodles.”


(song of the day: Lost Stars by Adam Levine - one of the songs we sang, except not acoustic. this was after singing a bunch of disney songs)