Art + Photography, Life, Writing Challenge

Everybody’s looking for something

 

me : wall

I always wanted to make something that people would find a new thing about every time they looked at it, although it wasn’t the goal when I taped the first piece of magazine paper on this wall.  I don’t know what compelled me to start my wall project, only that I felt a pressing need to see inspiration around me.

I began with fashion and women’s magazines, but I quickly learned that of the 500-something pages, only five or so would actually be useful. Even in those pages, I could sense that the photographs were just trying to sell me something. Funny how that becomes more obvious when you look at it from a distance. I moved away from fashion magazines and looked for something more authentic.

Soon enough, I got my hands on art and photography magazines and what a difference it was. I discovered Juxtapoz, The Great Discontent, Womankind, and a bunch other fantastic magazines that some local, independent bookstores held (I’m looking at you, BookPeople). With these magazines, I’d cut out at least 20 pages from each issue. After going through several issues, I’d have myself a small, but lovely, pile of paper which gave me real playing room. It was then I started to make progress.

With no particular deadline in mind, this project took a little over a year to complete. This is a wall of trial and error. This wall is a tiny sampling of what Earthlings created in the year 2015. This wall is what I consumed when I was 25 years old. I never thought this wall would have stuff to teach me, but I learned some lessons along the way.

DCIM101GOPRO

One: Meaningful connections are always better than random encounters. When I scattered the pages around at random or tried to mix up the visuals and color scheme, my wall ended up looking like a giant collage. When, instead, I tried to find some kind of connection between the pages,  a story was created. This reminded me that when we make deliberate choices, we can control the narratives of our lives.

Two: Find a connection between the pieces, but make the individual stand on its own. Early on, I tried to take shortcuts by taping a row of several pages together before sticking them to the wall, but that turned out to be a disaster. Either the weight would make them fall down together or I’d change my mind about a placement of a page and have to xacto-knife my way through two pieces. Taping each page by itself proved to be the most durable solution. I realized that connections should be fluid, not locked, and that we should always hold our own ground.

Three: When in doubt, stand back and look at the big picture. Whenever I’d spend too much time up close against my wall, I’d inevitably hit a roadblock. I’d feel unsure of what should go where. The only way to get over this obstacle was to take a step back and observe from a new angle. Some things only make sense when you look at them on the grand scale of life. Sometimes it’s the only thing that can get you through the little things.

Above all, this wall taught me that what you create is a mirror of yourself. This used to be a plain white wall. Now it’s a home to a cluster of galaxies and I live in each of them.

Photo

Writing prompt 13 of 30: Write about something you made. 

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Writing Challenge

Still trying to beat the clock

This is a question we’ve all been asked. My answer has always been the same. The superpower I would most want to have is, without a question, the ability to control time. No, not time travel, as tempting as that is. I’m too scared to mess with that. More specifically– I want the ability to freeze time, with the understanding that I wouldn’t continue to age. So I could spend a year’s timeframe in a frozen world, for instance, and I wouldn’t have aged a year. I can’t imagine freezing the world for that long, though. Also, any living thing that I make contact with as I freeze time would remain unfrozen along with me.

When I was in grade school, I saw dozens of benefits that came with this power. I could have never studied for tests and simply copied the answer key in class. Or I could have made a run to the dorm to grab a finished assignment that I left in my bedroom, which happened a frustrating amount of times. I could have pulled down the pants of the most arrogant guy in the school during lunchtime to shut him up. I could have paused a lively debate to think of the absolute best comeback. I could have made Kent and my weekend visits during our long-distance relationship last for weeks. Heck, I could’ve “borrowed” a couple grand from the bank every now and then. More importantly, I could’ve slept in every single day and not have been late for school once.

As I got older, the ability to freeze time remained the most attractive superpower, but my reasoning became fewer and less specific. During college, I found myself wishing I had more time to do the things I needed or wanted to do, which would inevitably be put on a hold. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because our bodies require sleep. And we require it every single day. How annoying is that?

I did think about having my superpower simply be to not need to sleep, but as demanding as it is, I do love to sleep. Falling asleep is one of my favorite feelings ever. I love it when I feel so damn tired and yawn so hard that I get goosebumps all over and I’m able to just drift off to sleep in a heavy blanket, without a care in the world. I can think of only three better feelings than that. And let’s face it, I’d have a lot more fun with the ability to freeze time.

So back to freezing time, it occurred to me that if I could have an unlimited amount of time on my hands, I could accomplish so many creative projects that end up taking a backseat to more urgent work. I could read all the books that I want to read and watch all the movies that I want to watch. I could even write a book! I could take vacations with Kent anytime. We’d stroll through sleepy cities and quiet palaces, like Leo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard did in Inception. I want to someday be able to meditate for an hour, but that’s like… an hour of my day. With the ability to freeze time, it wouldn’t even make a dent in the 24 hours I get daily.

Being able to freeze time means being able to have more time and to me, that’s the grandest gift I could ever dream for. What about you? What superpower do you want?

Writing challenge prompt 8/30: What superpower would you want to have and why? 

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Creative Writing, Writing Challenge

We’re all a little different; we’re all a little same

The way it seems complicated to say. I bet it would’ve been a word I’d have struggled with in speech therapy. If, you know, I hadn’t dropped it after 5th grade. The interesting appearance of it. You don’t see that combination of letters often. The way it starts unexpectedly. It’s the prefix that jumps at you: juxta. The root and the suffix are common enough: posit and ion. And that’s the beauty of it.

Juxtaposition.

I saw that word for the first time during my sophomore year of college. I was at Hirshhorn Art Museum on a date with a hearing guy. Cute guy, tall, smart… he didn’t know ASL though. We were getting to know each other by typing back and forth on our phones when he commented on the juxtaposition of something. I didn’t know what the word meant. Rather than own up to it, I tried to be vague:

what do u mean? 

He said something that implied he was comparing and contrasting whatever it is that he was pointing at (I will never claim to be one of those people that have a sharp memory). I have no idea what I did next. Probably attempted to look thoughtful while nodding my head seriously. But what I do know is later that night (probably) I looked it up:

jux·ta·po·si·tion
noun
 
  1. the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.
    “the juxtaposition of these two images”

The second my brain absorbed and processed the word, the Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon began to take effect, as per usual. After that night, I started seeing “juxtaposition” everywhere. A person I didn’t realize I was Facebook-friends with posted a striking photo of one tree, half of it during the blazing autumn and the other half of it during the bitter winter; she was admiring the juxtaposition of it. An English assignment asked for an analysis on the juxtaposition of two poems against each other. A fashion magazine swooned over the juxtaposition of hard leather and delicate lace. Pretty soon, I was familiar with the word.

The thing about juxtaposition is, learning what it meant didn’t just add a word to my vocabulary; its definition gave me new lens. Understanding that there was such a thing as the concept of juxtaposition made me see things differently. A picture of a baby’s hand on an elderly’s used to seem corny to me, but now the juxtaposition of fresh, young life against a well-lived skin made me look a little deeper.

The gentrification map of DC. The sweet singing of Ares, God of War. A bloody murder in a field of fresh snow.

Writing challenge prompt 7/30: Write about one of your favorite words. 

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Life, Writing Challenge

The love you take is equal to the love you make

“I think it’s necessary to break up,” I said. The words seemed so flat and cold.

“I understand,” he replied.

Did he? How could he when I barely understood it myself? There I was, at age 23, telling the love of my life– the man that I had spent a third of my life being madly and wonderfully in love with– that we couldn’t be engaged anymore. None of it made sense. It was clear that we were supposed to be together. People say that when you know, you just know, and I felt it everywhere in my bones.

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Creative Writing, Writing Challenge

In an afternoon of Ripley and Yorick’s life

Growling sounds suddenly prodded Yorick awake from his afternoon nap and he snapped his long head up. Not that he ever slept soundly anyway; he always kept an ear out for potential dangers lurking. Yorick found his brother on the couch, shaking his head furiously and rolling on his back with a creature on top of him. Yorick’s heart leaped and he licked at the air nervously, emitting a strong, specific odor that came from the enclosed, musky cave that was his mouth.

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Writing Challenge

Why I write

With two hours left to midnight, I think about simply reading and then going to sleep. But then I’d have skipped a day in this 30-day writing challenge and it’s only the fourth day. “No,” I tell myself. “I am going to write something and I am going to post it tonight. It doesn’t have to be longer than a paragraph. Nobody imposed a word count minimum here!”

I have a habit of writing lengthy posts. But being able to churn out more than a thousand words per blog post doesn’t necessarily make me a good writer. If someone else could capture exactly my message in half the words I used, they’d be a better writer than I am. So tonight, I am challenging myself in this challenge: I’m gonna keep it short.

So, why do I write at all?

I write because I didn’t have siblings and the deepest conversations I ever had during the first few years of my childhood were with books. I write because I’m an editor at heart and writing’s the only way I can rephrase myself until I say exactly what I mean. Most of all– and this is why I write even when my forearms are aching– I write because it’s the only thing I’d be happy to do everyday for free.

Writing challenge prompt 4/30: Write about why you write.

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Books, Creative Writing, Life, Writing Challenge

Meeting Pierce Brown

Last spring, Kent devoured through the first two books to the Red Rising trilogy and couldn’t stop raving about Pierce Brown, the author. He immediately started leaving his copy of Red Rising on my side of the bed (he’s subtle like that). So I gave in and picked it up one night in April. I observed the author picture and bio: a young, white, decent-looking man wearing a leather jacket. His eyes were very blue.

“Pierce Brown has piercing blue eyes,” I said to Kent and he nodded knowingly. Or maybe he was the one who said it first. Either way, the phrase Pierce Brown’s piercing blue eyes would eventually become a catchphrase between us.

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