CYOO #39: Releasing the need to make sense
Happy new year! (or is it?) Last week was one of the more difficult ones in recent memory, but I also have the memory of a fish so perhaps it’s not the best idea to give weight and credence to my fickle moods. I hope you’re all hanging in there and balancing your news and social media diet with fun and joyous things. There are ways to stay informed without tethering yourself to the feed, this impeachment snapshot being one of them!
Because this newsletter is a collection of my ever-changing creative interests, I usually struggle with how to tie these all together into something that reads as cohesive. This morning, I came across this quote I had saved from The Creative Independent’s interview with journalist and critic Molly Young.
I think part of the sadness of growing into an adult is that you become trained to spend less time distracted by things. And what I try to do is re-access that ability to be interested in things, and then to not ask myself why I’m interested in them, but simply to explore them and trust that the reason will eventually become clear to me.
We’re motivated to whittle down and focus because we want a self-concept that we can understand and easily grasp. We need to pitch ourselves in clearcut ways, because clarity is what sells. Cognitive dissonance is deeply uncomfortable—one can either make peace with this dissonance and be privy to a fuller range of life, or start to negate parts of themselves and other truths.
I am resolving again to lay down these worries and metathoughts of “what does this mean?” and “where is this all going?” I want to choose curiosity and joy over clarity, over making sense to other people or even myself. It will be a long while before I can see the throughline of the obsessions I’ve had, the projects I’ve embarked on and left behind. Even if there isn’t one, I can at least say I enjoyed the journey.
I’ve been making…
Daily paintings 🎨 At the start of this year I vowed to paint more regularly, so I could surpass the common frustrations I encounter whenever I pick up my brushes. I’ve been following these daily prompts to make something before work every morning. Watercolor (used for the paintings below) really tests my patience and need for control. I have much to improve but sharing here for accountability!
Egg and bread coasters 🍞 My coworker commissioned me to make some egg and bread coasters (two pictured below, two more to go). The bread coasters were more frustrating than I envisioned and I had to re-punch them, but I also got to learn some new techniques along the way.
A denim tote bag 🛍️ E got me a sewing machine for Christmas! I wanted one to expand the kinds of punch needle projects I could make, but now I’m also eyeing patterns to sew my own clothes. I made this denim tote bag with The New York Sewing Center and I am much less afraid of my machine than I was upon first unboxing.
I’ve been consuming…
Korean Pork Belly Rhapsody (Netflix) 🥓 This two part food docuseries is all about and only about pork belly in Korea! Perhaps too niche of a topic for the average Netflix viewer, but E and I loved learning about the rise of pork in Korea and all the different techniques used to cook it. Fun fact: Korea produces more pork than rice!
The best part of watching food shows is, of course, craving the food you’ve been watching people voraciously eat for fifty minutes. Irene kindly brought her KBBQ goods so we could indulge in tabletop grilling at home (read her latest Food Network article on how to do the same).
Soul (Disney+) 🎥 I knew I would love this new Pixar film (any media that delves in existential questions, sign me up) and it did not disappoint. The scenes in the "Great Before" were particularly beautiful, and the soundtrack with Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross equally so. This movie encourages viewers to pause, reflect on their inner demons, and appreciate the neglected parts of their life; I can see it comforting and freeing a lot of people out there 💙
Below is a quick visual note/journal I wrote and drew after the movie.
101 Dalmatians (Disney+) 🐕 The Disney train continues! I had only ever seen the live action adaptation of 101 Dalmatians (Glenn Close’s Cruella De Vil is one of my favorite villains) so watching the original animated film was a real treat. There are puppies and other cute animals everywhere on the screen at all times. What could be better?
My friend Gu asked me recently what was giving me joy. When I mentioned this movie she drew me with a bunch of dalmatian pups, which revived all those fuzzy feelings! 🥺
Lots of graphic memoirs 💬 Perhaps because my attention has been drawn to visual art lately, I have been reading a bunch of graphic memoirs. Ones I’ve recently read or am reading:
Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder (an exploration of grief and loss interwoven with humor after the author’s mother dies when she’s in college)
Umma’s Table by Yeon-Sik Hong (how food can bind a family together in the face of sickness and inevitable death)
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney (a glimpse into an artist’s relationship to bipolar disorder)
Passing for Human by Liana Finck (a coming-of-age story on what it means to be a woman and artist)