I’m not sure how you all are holding up but I’m hoping it is well. If not, that’s okay. The past year was a hard one. (Edited to Add: we had a solid five days into 2021 before more shit hit the fan). I am not in the mood to be poetic or gushy about all the things that I’m grateful for; nor am I in the mood to talk about how I would not have made it through the year had it not been for the emotional labor of others. This does not mean that I’m not grateful for things. This also does not mean that there aren’t people who have helped me make it through this year. I just don’t really feel like talking about it.
Alright, you twisted my arm.
The truth is that I feel a bunch of things that range from unbelievably grateful to absolutely irate. I’m grateful for family and friends that reached out and helped me while I was an emotional wreck this year. It should be said that I’ve been an emotional wreck ever since I started posting on this blog but I have tried to at least be a functional emotional wreck.
I’m absolutely irate because . . . well, you’ve seen the news. Raise your hands if you have felt personally attacked by 2020.
Yeah. Right on. I’ve felt that.
I’ve also felt personally attacked and yet personally neglected by our shitty politicians in the U.S. Yes, on both sides. I’m so very upset that in the midst of a pandemic, they couldn’t pull themselves together enough to provide health care or survival stipends to people. I feel like I’ve been screaming into the void that is social media about how we deserve to have health care, we deserve a stipend of $2,000.00 a month (with retroactive pay due to our politicians horrid mis-handling of this pandemic), we deserve to have a universal basic income, we deserve to have relief from the ravages of end-stage capitalism.
The delays and inaction of the government in the U.S. makes the response team for the Titanic look both efficient and effective.
So instead of screaming into the void, I have decided that I’ll share some of the art I’ve been working on. Right out the gate, let’s start with a painting that I thought would turn out really well but I ended up messing up on because I was not prepared for painting shadows. Usually I just pretend that shadows and shading don’t exist or that they are like Peter Pan’s irritating shadow that keeps trying to escape him. I took a chance and this happened.
I still enjoy how the colors came out. I love a fiery yet bruised sky and a sea of gold at sunset. I have some other seaside/ocean-themed pieces that I’m working on. The running theme behind most of them is I like to play with colors and make familiar ocean scenes more fantastic. I love a purple cliffline and lavender ocean. Maybe it’s because I grew up on an island. I love my home but I hate how other people just paint the same thing: powdery sand, cerulean blue ocean, a sun rising or setting over the horizon, and a palm tree thrown in for good measure.
While this is beautiful, I find it limiting. The ocean is vast and relatively unexplored and since I don’t have the technology or means to explore it’s depths in person, I like to reimagine it with unusual colors and themes.
A fairly new project that I’ve been working on are pieces inspired by quotes I’ve read in books. I used to read a lot before going to law school. After I graduated I never wanted to read another book again. This was pretty sad for me because I used to love reading and I was one of those people who read to escape. I wasn’t able to read for leisure for a while. In 2020, I finally found a groove that allowed me to start enjoying reading again.
I don’t buy books unless I cannot find a copy I can read via a library app or an audiobook of it. Before, I used to be a “one book at a time” type of gal. Now, I realize that I just don’t have the patience for that. However, with the help of my public libraries, I browse through any and all titles I find interesting. I have multiple titles borrowed in either e-book or audiobook form. This keeps my re-discovering reading journey much cheaper than all those books I paid for in college and grad school.
For real, if I never have to buy another book again, I’d like to avoid it.
Speaking of which we also need student loans eliminated. I don’t need those loans forgiven because 1) I didn’t do anything wrong by getting an education and, in any event, 2) I already forgave myself for my student loans (shoutout to that tweet that I lost track of that helped re-frame my thinking about my student loan debt).
Anyway, my reading journey really started off with me reading Young Adult novels. YA books were the only stories I had the capacity to process for a while. I chose them because a lot of them are simple. However, there are a lot out there that deal with very real and painful stories and realities and are incredibly well-written. The book that inspired the “Kill the Imposter” painting was a book called Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown.
This book was somehow both a hard read but one I zipped through in record reading time. It was a hard read because the journey Echo goes through is painful, gut-wrenching, and despite all her trials, extremely hopeful. I love magickal realism and I loved Brown’s practical and grounded way of approaching and explaining the magick. I went through the book quickly because I could not put it down. Not even when Brown’s words cut deep to my core and I felt my depression and anxiety swell to dangerous levels only to be released in a cathartic flood of emotion and ugly crying.
The book is framed around lessons Echo Brown learned in her journey to becoming a wizard. The lesson that stuck with me and made me think was Lesson Seven: Killing the Imposter.
The seventh lesson of wizard training is to kill the imposter,
the person you became to survive,
and embrace the original,
the person you were before all the pain.
I think I cried the hardest at this part. I felt these words deep in my core. I’ve felt like an imposter in school and in my jobs. But Brown really turned this idea of being an imposter on it’s head for me. I have felt like an imposter on so many occasions. It got so bad that I woke up each morning dreading the day and went to sleep each night dreading morning. It was exhausting feeling out of place at work and inadequate. I lived it for a long time and it was not until I read Brown’s book that I started to think that maybe it wasn’t me that was the problem. Maybe who I was deep down was just fine but the person I became in order to shield myself from the pains and traumas I experienced was the person who was not the real me.
Maybe nobody is an imposter but they become one in order to survive.
So I ugly-cried about it for a while, filled up tissue after tissue with snot, washed my hands and went on with my day. I guess this will lead me to a resolution for the New Year: to be my authentic self. Without fear and without apology.
The alternative feels so much worse.
I don’t have a better title for this. I had no theme or goals when I painted except to rid myself of some excess emotions and energy. I like how the stucco-y texture from the light, peachy brown (a color that the paint tube says is “burnt sienna” but having never seen a sienna, either burnt or just right, I can’t find it in me to call it that) comes through. I like how the blue swirls and dips and ignites in some places. I like how I ran out of steam 3/4 of the way through this painting and filled in the empty space with yellow.
And so the son of the fortune-teller does not find his way to the Starless Sea. Not yet.
This is the only other painting I have so far that is based on a book I read. The book is called The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. This is a book I have not yet finished but would like to return to at some point. I remember enjoying the book but not being as hooked on it as I thought I would be. If you were one of those dorks who loved Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, especially the orgasmic scene that is the library reveal–maybe you will understand what I mean. I won’t spoil it for you but I thought this book would be like that single library scene over and over again. Books and stories galore. And it was, to a degree. Keys lost and found, doors drawn in walls, stories inscribed in the crystal of chandeliers, and pages of stories tiling the halls of an ancient and shifting land.
The hardest part of it was that it was pretty description heavy (which can be tiring for me to read and process). I was a few chapters in before I switched to an audiobook version which helped get me past the first half of the book. It just never really got me interested enough to finish it before the 21 days to borrow the book were up.
My favorite part in The Starless Sea so far was when Zachary Ezra Rawlins encounters his first door painted into the wall of his mother’s fortune teller shop. He feels drawn to the door, he wants to open it, can sense that there might be worlds beyond the two-dimensional, elaborate facade. But he doesn’t reach for it.
Which, you know, fair. I probably wouldn’t try to open a door that was obviously painted onto a wall. But I wanted him to try to open it. Because I wanted to open the door and get his story started. However, this was not meant to be. Which is probably fine because I don’t think 12-year-old kids should be wandering through the landscape that Morgenstern created anyway.
So that’s it, friends and Fomo-teers.
How you holding up? Still there? If so, thank you! I would say that I hope that 2021 is your year–but in all honesty, even though I may not know you personally; even though I may never meet you, I want you to know this: I think you deserve 2021 to be your year–but also that I believe every year should be your year.
You go through so much and with so much life to live, why should our time be limited to one year of successes and solid footing? I look forward to the journey, as scary and uncertain as it may be, and despite the fact that each day I get closer and closer to the Duolingo owl screaming at me that my streak is definitely going to be lost this time and all my days will be wasted.
To which, I say, calmate, Duolingo owl. You’re cute and all but pretty high strung. If you’re into cannabis, now may be a good time to light one up for my Duolingo owl, he’s been nothing but consistent this past year.