III. kindred spirits

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this picture circa 2010 aptly captures our friendship. we’re not terribly photogenic, and we often end up on strange detours like obscure, nudist hot springs in the middle of the mountains instead of picturesque outings that are immaculately recorded onto social media. we’ve had our fights, our ups and downs, and our phases of growing apart; but on the whole, we’ve grown together and closer than ever before.

my two oldest college acquaintances are intelligent, kind, and hard-working girls whom i’m proud to call my best friends. it’s still incredible for me to fathom that we’ve literally grown into women who have achieved some of the dreams we talked about during our late night pillow talk sessions in the dorm room. i used to spend days in their room because i was so afraid of spiders invading my room next door. i honestly don’t remember everything that we did at the age of seventeen, eighteen because so much of our time was consumed idly while drawing up lists of ideal, fictional types and doing Photo Booth shoots. on thursday nights, boys from the neighboring all-boys dorm would come serenade us girls in the courtyard, and on saturdays, we were treated to the amplified concert music at the venue next to us. we went on donut runs at 1 am and sometimes, on the weekends, meandered onto the trails in the surrounding hills.

this picture was taken right at the beginning of our junior year in college, when one of my best friends and i moved into our first “real” apartment. the microwave was awkwardly positioned at the end of a wooden table (which i believe we got off craigslist), and the brightly colored paper plates filled with an odd variety of vegan and Asian food. we weren’t old enough yet to go to fancy bars, sample charcuterie at finer restaurants, or buy our own furniture.

having momentarily been transported back to this lifestyle this past year, it’s been a humbling experience to rediscover my kindred spirits who have truly supported me when it got really hard (or as one of my besties says, when shit hits the fan). i can’t count the number of times i broke down and called one of them in tears, and then ended those calls laughing (chortling, really). when i was at my worst — when i felt my worst, when i thought the worst — they embraced me miles away with open arms and empowered me to work harder. when i had yet another existential meltdown and questioned why i chose to pursue a path, they reminded me of my passion and conviction.

there’s not enough talk out there about the hardships embedded in the process of chasing after one’s dreams, let alone the sheer magnitude of hard work it takes to stay positive and grounded on a daily basis. we value independence, strength, power, and success, yet often we overlook the aspects of dependence, vulnerability, collaboration, and failure that can be necessary to attaining the fruition of those values. there should be more open dialogue about the benefit — in fact, the necessity — of relying on others and asking people for help.

my posts lately may have been more sentimental than usual, but i feel pretty strongly that we should be able to openly share our struggles. showing vulnerability, particularly in today’s political climate, should be a sign of strength and not weakness. i’ve always prided myself on self-sufficiency, but my pride has often blinded me from the virtue of counting on others for support. figuring things out on your own doesn’t make you a better person per se, and having the courage to accept and use that lifeline to another should be commended.

finding kindred spirits who can revive our faith in ourselves is truly a beautiful thing.

 

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synecdoche

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National Gallery of Art

 

i saw this piece at the whitney and was instantly drawn to its deceiving simplicity. by byron kim, this artwork comprises of different colored panels in which every shade of oil paint and wax represent a skin color. the hues of yellow, pink and brown juxtaposed into a collective whole create a liberated sentiment of race and ethnicity — freeing the conception of skin color from the shackles of social and political construct to give each and every color equal status.

each panel is uniform in texture, dimension, and position. no one color is advantaged by its particular physical place in this piece. if one panel is featured in the center, it has just the same qualities as that of the panel located at the lower bottom corner. it is a radical metaphor for race and ethnicity based on a simple artistic vision of clean lines of color.

perhaps this metaphorical humanism founded upon such a simple idea is exactly the kind of message that we need to hear in today’s state of the world, in which we are bitterly divided by increasingly messy, dangerous, and complicated lines that have led us to lose sight of a shared basis of our identities.

a letter to my mom

today is my mom’s birthday, and as a token of my gratitude, here is a short letter to the OG female figure in my life. happy birthday mom, and happy galentine’s day.

*****

dear mom~

remember when i’d sneak into your closet and play dress up with your clothes? there was this one bright red skirt i loved — adorned with a delicate print of tiny black flowers, it was long, flowing, and beautiful, like you. i would clumsily rummage into your makeup drawer and  experiment with your rouge cream lipsticks, while click-clacking all over the bathroom tiles in your black boots. even at the tender age of five, i still recognized your impeccable taste in fashion and discerning eye for beauty.

as i strutted around the house in your black boots, i would tell you how much i wanted to grow up so i could have my own closet full of red skirts and black boots. you’d laugh and tell me i was foolish, because i’d be grown soon enough. you were right, mom. now that i can and sometimes have to wear heels, i’d much rather wear flats. heels can be such a pain and leave blisters on my feet. rouge cream lipsticks get messy and leave stains everywhere. flowing red skirts are only socially acceptable for dates and special occasions. being a 25 year-old woman isn’t an easy course, with its myriad of societal rules and customs, blisters and lipstick stains, misadventures and detours.

for all the times we’ve fought and cried together, you’ve reminded me again and again that girls grow into strong, passionate women who work hard to achieve their dreams. we must find and ardently chase after what we hold dear, and our revelations about our mistakes and flaws will only teach us to become better versions of ourselves. wherever there was potential for growth, you would empower my sister and me to explore and commit to that potential. for all the times i’ve lost and fallen, you’ve stood steadfastly behind me, guiding me to move forward because there are more beautiful, lovely things to be discovered out there.

thank you, mom — for supporting me, for believing in me, for waiting on me, for loving me, and for teaching me to become the woman i am today.

with all my blessings and love,

mc