xinyi visited san francisco last week and stayed with me for a few days. i always love having an excuse to walk down this alley of murals in the mission to revisit familiar favorites and see all the new paintings emerging from a vibrant community.
i’ve been teaching for a little over a month now, it’s been full of fulfilling interactions with the kids interspersed between moments of frustration and uncertainty. sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to make a positive impact in their lives and other times it feels like any little incorrect move can unknowingly influence them negatively for all the years to come. i just hope i’m doing right by them, you know?
this week i taught the students about floor plans, proportionality, and circulation. the ones that were done early were allowed to free draw on the back of their paper. a girl drew a picture of me teaching at the white board and a group of boys drew an entire platform game level design.
i got a rug! finally!! it’s been great to roll around, take spontaneous yoga breaks, and accidentally fall asleep on the floor, which has happened far too many times considering i’ve only had the rug for 5 days. unfortunately, the cats love it even more than i do and it is quickly becoming a problem.
there’s a sweet in-between state my brain enters around midnight to 3am where the sleepiness erodes my inhibitions. it has been my preferred time to work. i love waking up the next morning and seeing my painting in the light for the first time, all the marks and colors guided by my intuition instead of my eyes.
red flowering gum blossoms along pine street were a highlight of the month. because of the warm air and blue skies, i wandered around meandering streets alone more than usual in august, headphones playing all my favorite summer love songs in one ear and the sounds of cars buzzing in the other. i tried very, very hard to love this city.
but this place just continually insists on hurting me. here are my personal favorite highlights:
“here is a love that you thought would last; let’s just make a mess of that and create doubt in your ability to be loved”
“here is an opportunity to show your artwork; let’s make this gallery attendee neg you, completely question whether or not your work is art, and ask you out on a date, making you feel even more devalued and useless than you already did to begin with”
“here is a beautiful apartment in the middle of the city; let’s also give you a view of a rooftop that you can stare at wistfully as you fall deeper and deeper into depression”
“here is someone you actually really like spending time laughing with; let’s inspire them stomp the shit out of your self esteem ‘cause it’s fun”
“here is a job that seems like everything you’ve ever wanted and worked towards; let’s package it with some emotional abuse and a gaslighting so bad that it will take nearly half a year to recover creatively and mentally.
“here is an old college crush that still makes you smile; let’s have him break your heart into a million tiny pieces… again… unprompted”
“here are all these amazing friends who inspire you to be more compassionate, active in the community, and thoughtful in everything you do; let’s place them in the middle of the most culturally backwards, empathy bankrupt, tech bro-saturated place you’ve ever been in”
this is no one’s fault. everyone is going through something and everyone has their own messiness to deal with. it is all just a byproduct of the nature of this place. we just keep wanting and wanting and ending up nowhere.
i feel so much pressure from everyone around me. i’m spread too thin and there never seems to be enough boundaries or time to make it right. of course, the first place my mind goes to is bilbo baggins – “like butter scraped over too much bread.”
lately there’s been such a large emphasis on finding happiness, finding a lover, and just doing everything, but what no one seems to understand is that i’m still just trying to figure out how to survive. i keep hearing “you deserve someone like ___” or “you deserve happiness” and to be quite honest, it has nothing to do with deserving. these are not the things i strive for nor do i think they will satisfy my life.
i just want to be okay. i don’t need unbounded happiness, i don’t need a whirlwind of a romance, and i don’t need to do abso-fucking-lutely everything. i want to be okay doing nothing with someone i care about and to continue creating. that’s all. but someone once told me that the simplest things seem to be the hardest to find.
on the bright side, my bedroom has become a sanctuary of life and color. i love spending time here, reading a thousand books at once, scribbling all over random notebooks, watching movies in a blanket fort, rolling around in bed in my underwear, listening to music with eyes gently closed, creating & being.
i am VERY lucky to be able to afford a space like this in such an expensive city, and i’ve only recently realized that where i am now isn’t all bad. not even close. in fact, i’m actually thriving in all of the work that i get to choose, i’m financially stable enough to not feel the anxiety of losing the foundations of my wellbeing, and i’m still able to spend a couple days a week making things i want to make.
this may not be the best city for someone like me, but it would be foolish for me to think that everything sucks. i’m exceptionally privileged, and i can’t allow myself to lose sight of that.
in conclusion, fuck you, san francisco. i’m a better person than this and i refuse to let you win.
it has been a while since i’ve updated this photo journal, so here are some moments from the last few months. hopefully i’ll be back more regularly after this!
may 2019: turned 28 with arms full of roses and a belly full of chocolate cake. my actual birthday itself was spent in the company of a smashed up cake and i thought a lot about how isolated and directionless i felt.
june 2019: filled my month with faces that i never want to forget.
july 2019: so much change in so little time, but i began to love the loneliness almost to a fault. i drew and painted nonstop and made space for quiet in my brain and fullness in my heart. i spent days on end sitting on my bedroom floor without ever seeing the outside world. it was wonderful.
last week, a foggy berkeley morning
i am currently sitting next to the heater amongst boxes, alone in our apartment in san francisco. this morning, thomas and i woke up early to get coffee before work. we watched the rain fall and roll down the window while sinking our teeth into flaky, buttery pastries. i thought about what it would be like to fall in love with a city like this.
life has been a whirlwind spinning me in circles on pointed toes. i can’t wait to slow down and sift through all these photographs and scraps of writing. but until then, you can find me dancing tangles into my hair.
this summer was different from the typical sticky southern californian one that my skin is so used to. no — this was a summer of office air conditioning until sunset, sleepy accidental naps at the park, coffee-hazed domestic travels, and dreamy, slow-motion laughs that only come from constantly being surrounded by friends.
even though most of our mind space was filled with the stresses of development roadmaps, product market fit, traction plans, investment rounds, and more endless jargon... for just a few seconds in between, it felt like youth again.