Sunday Book Review

The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

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I’ll admit, I have a bit of a habit of not reading the back cover of books before starting them. If I have a hunch that it will be good, I try to resist spoiling anything for myself. I’d read Slouching Towards Bethlehem, also by Joan Didion right when we were moving to California. It was a series of essays about her time in California and New York in the 60s & 70s, and it was a magical read. Something about the way she writes is so crisp and matter of fact, but still has something enchanting about it.

“…quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean "love" in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again. I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage. I could taste the peach and feel the soft air blowing from a subway grating on my legs and I could smell lilac and garbage and expensive perfume and I knew that it would cost something sooner or later—because I did not belong there, did not come from there”

- Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Since then, I’d been craving another good Didion read. Then I found The Year of Magical Thinking and just went for it. If anyone reading this has read that, they know it is not what the title may imply. It is not magical, it is not happy. The book is about the year following the sudden death of Didion’s husband. As you may be able to guess, I was not necessarily prepared. However, it drew me in anyways. I don’t think about death or grieving a whole lot, and while I don’t wish to, I did want to have a better understanding and outlook on dying. This book was a gold mine for that. It welcomed the irrational feelings and doings that can follow the death of a loved one, it didn’t excuse or glorify any behavior, it simply explained.

It was however, strange to be reading this beautiful book on death while in the early stages of planning my wedding. It was an odd intersection. After awhile however, I grew to enjoy reading it while also thinking about my wedding. It’s important to have a healthy mindset about death, and I want to go into my marriage knowing that. All to say, don’t think you’re in for anything magical with this book, but you will end up learning something valuable as you read it.

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe their husband is about to return and need his shoes.” 

- Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking


May Mood Board

May is tricky. It's almost summer but not quite, it's still Spring but feels like even that should already be past. This may for me is about systems. It's about organizing by type, by emotion, by color. Lately, I've been into wearing all one color, and creating mini-color study sets. It feels a little redundant, but I think it's important to rediscover old concepts again. Somehow, color can always seem fresh. I like the idea of being surrounded by one type of thing. Even if it's a set. You are the alien, and the color is the majority. It can be a feeling of total immersion. 

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Articulating Screen by Sasha Sykes

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Alba Yruela

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Example: When I was 17, I spent and entire day covering every surface in my bedroom in white. White sheets, white objects, white clothes, etc. I wore all white and photographed myself in my room, which at this point really wasn't my room anymore. Then, I wore all black. It was an entirely ordinary, homemade set and I was just an overly creative teenager, but it felt surreal. Being in someplace familiar, but no longer feeling familiar myself. Visual comparisons are the basis of how we ground ourselves in reality. Things make sense because of comparison. I guess right now it's al about playing with that dynamic. We only understand things in relation to each other.

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Ann Collier

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Mayasa Chiba

Sunday Book Review

Book review time! 

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I just read straight through The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson. I'm not too shy to say that when I started this book, I was in a rut. A pretty deep rut, actually. And obviously, reading a book doesn't entirely change your life. They help, but you are still responsible for the heavy lifting of actually enacting change. But for what it's worth, Manson is an honest and upfront voice that makes you want to implement his tools. He doesn't talk around things, and he's willing to get into some of the nitty-gritty that is hard to write about. I mean literally, the main chapters of the book are called things like: Happiness is a Problem, You Are Not Special, and You're Wrong About Everything. The list goes on, but I feel like we all get the gist. 

Manson finds creative ways to make harsh realities seem inspirational. He turns them on their head in a way that is uplifting, but still centers the responsibility on you. My personal biggest takeaway was about personal values, and the importance of creating internal values. That means if your value is "I want to got a promotion", that centers on someone else taking the action to decide to give you a promotion. No personal responsibility, and once its achieved, you'll be without a goal again. Having to come up with new goals again and again make them superficial, and if completing your goal depends on someone/something else, it's going to be frustrating, and ultimately unfulfilling. By comparison, if your value is something like "Be honest with people", it depends on fully on you. This means that you can make the choices to live by that value again and again, and be proud. of yourself for following it. It have no end, so you can go by it forever. It is a value that you can both have and chase, which is the mark of a good value.

ANYWAYS, I could go on with lots of other great point from this book, but you should go and find them for yourself! Ok. book rant over! Happy Sunday guys!

Making Even When You Don't Feel Like It

The feeling of finishing something is truly amazing, right? Satisfaction, relief, and a well deserved nap, right? The only comparable feeling is starting something exciting. When you have a new idea that's practically bursting out of you, and you're so full of energy and excitement and brand-new plans. Those things are the best. Honestly, the best. The problem is all the stuff in between. The middle part of working on projects, when you're mucking through all the actual work. It can be difficult to remember what you were so excited about when you started. It can feel like you've lost direction, or maybe even that your amazing idea might not have been that amazing after all. 

But fight through it!! It's totally normal to feel lost or discouraged in the middle part of the project. That's the time when both our ideas and our endurance are put to the test. In Austin Kleon's book, Steal Like An Artist, He gives us an easy diagram of the average thought cycle of a project:

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It's so hard to stick with an idea from beginning to end, but you can do it! Your brain will play tricks on you, it's get tired, you'll doubt yourself and want to stop. And you should take breaks, take yourself for walks in between working. But remember to come back, because you're in the hardest part. And the more you work, the easier it'll eventually get. Projects can take time to fully form, but know that if you keep at it, your idea will eventually realize itself.

For example: Right now I'm working on building a show of all the things I've been making that aren't photographs - Weavings, clay sculptures, beads, embroidered clothes, hanging ashtrays, hanging planters, etc etc etc. 

I've been building up my inventory for the past 8 months or so, although every no and then I get weak and sell a couple to make myself feel "successful" which sets me back a bit. But I just found a space that could work for showcasing my work!! So exciting! A big step forward! Now, all I have to do is work like a madwoman to create enough things that this show could look full. Which sounds easy. But besides the time I'm eating, sleeping, bathing, going to my job, tending my garden, and/or 100% locked in on watching the Netflix series on Flint, it's hard to find the time. But I can do it. You can do it! We can all do it! Motivation is hard, but my top 3 tips for keeping going are this:

1. Give yourself deadlines and guidelines! Try to plan in advance as much as possible so when the time comes to get to work, there are as few distractions as possible.

2. Once you're far enough along, get critiques! Meet up with other young creative people and get their opinions. It's important every now and then to make sure your own perspective isn't affecting your work in a bad way. 

3. BREATHE. if you're feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, close your eyes. Sit still. And take 3 deep breaths. Imagine your project done and beautiful, with you standing next to it in all your glory. Doesn't that look great?? Now take a second, visualize what needs to happen next, then dive the fuck in!! 

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I recently got this keychain that reminds me to calm myself tf down, and know that everything will be ok. It's not necessary, but having a lucky charm helps me for some reason. If it helps you too, check out http://www.adamjkurtz.com/

You guys can do anything you put your mind to!! I'm so excited to show you my show when I'm all done with it :) What are you working on right now?