It’s been difficult to write deeply on this trip.
With the amount of categorization and grouping I have to do to tame the hordes of information we get in class, splashes of color are paramount. Sprawling nerve/vasculature trees and heaps of classes of drugs would be unbearable and overwhelming in monochrome. My particular favorite weapons of choice are Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens.
Early last year, I realized I was tired of my Pilot G2 pens, which had been staples in my writing arsenal for years. I previously latched on to them because of their smooth ink and strong, non skipping lines. But they felt tired in my hands. It's hard to describe the feeling. But, as writing tools, they no longer inspired me; they no longer felt a pleasure to use.
Then, during a work party, I observed my friends using "Muji Pens." I was immediately intrigued. Muji, I found, is a Japanese retail company that focuses on household and consumer goods which are described as, "born from an extremely rational manufacturing process, are succinct, but they are not in the minimalist style. That is, they are like empty vessels. Simplicity and emptiness yield the ultimate universality, embracing the feelings and thoughts of all people."
Their unobtrusive style fits in with my current simple, functional aesthetic. The .38mm tips are perfect for fitting a lot of detail into small spaces. The lines rarely skip and the colors are vibrant.
On that note, I used to loosely stuff my pens and pencils into a backpack pocket. But when I bought these pens, I felt like they deserved a better home. I looked around on Etsy for something that matched my personality and stumbled upon a very charming Pokemon pouch from this seller in Argentina. It features cute drawing of the generation 1 starters - with the strange omission of Squirtle. I'm quite taken with it, and I enjoy being able to toss the pouch into the main compartment of my backpack with my laptop, planner, and notebooks without having the fear of my pens disappearing into the abyss.
Pokemon Pouch by MyMoemoe | Etsy
.38 Gel Pens by Muji | Amazon
This is part of a series of what I hope will be a collection of my most valuable 'essentials' that have served me well in my medical journey. Stay on the lookout for more!
cw: mental health, ideation
This year was my most challenging one. For months, I descended almost irretrievably into a dark spiral of depression. There were times in which I questioned my own humanity, convinced I was some horrid creature merely masking as human. Paranoia attacked my sanity and safety, even in the brightest of days and in the company of friends. And in my deepest spirals, I contemplated whether the next day was worth living.
But I'm here. And there have been triumphs. This year, for the first time, I printed personal photography prints for a benefit auction, and raised over $200. I have the beginnings of an original musical. I've collaborated even more in film and photography. I finished a masters in Community Health and started studying medicine, pursuing a program in Narrative Medicine. I've seen more of the world, including the Galapagos and Cuba, inspiring me even more to fight against imperialism, colonialism, and rampant capitalism in all its forms. I've met new colleagues and friends who inspire me tremendously. I've laughed more than I can remember. I've discovered the amazingness of a show that is Terrace House. I've picked up painting and sketching. I have grown.
I stand today, still here, with an eternal, unquenchable gratitude for the people to who, through no small effort, I owe my life. Many of those know who they are and have already been thanked. I will carry a bit of them with me, always. But at the end of 2017, I cannot help but, thank the many masses of you who, knowingly or not, are also reasons I am here today, whether it was through dancing, coffee chats, social media interactions, or a simple, smiling hello.
Part of doing 1SE's for five years (compilation pending) is the sobering recognition that our days, despite our careful curation of our public selves, are filled with both the mundane and interesting, the exuberant and the sorrowful. Even when life sucks, those days exist, and I still film them. This realization grinds against our societal conditioning to always 'have our shit together,' but in a way, it is also liberating. The candid acknowledgement, even appreciation, of the spectrum of experience is, after all, what makes us human.
I have found that healing is not always short, nor is it linear. At times, our healing may even injure others. It often resembles that Japanese game show where contestants race up a staircase greased with soap. We're in such a rush to get 'better,' that we lose our footing and slip back down to the bottom. Even if we take our time, we can still fall flat on our faces and slide back into the darkness, dragging others with us. But we can, and will reach the top, one aching step at a time.
Reach out in times of struggle, collective healing is powerful. There are psychiatrists, social workers, mentors, professors, friends, even strangers. Despite the crushing isolation that one might feel, there are always those who will help, even when it is most difficult to do so.
-- those are also the ones, I've learned, that you should hold on to dearly. For those are a rare breed of friend that are irreplaceable in this world.
I originally set out to write more to accompany this video, but I've decided to reserve those thoughts for another time. In any case, my thoughts invariably distilled themselves into the same, simple thoughts:
Be kind to those around you. Listen - critically, but always compassionately. Apologize, then change. Acknowledge anger, but forgive generously. Accept, then let go. Recognize imperfection, but strive for improvement. It is okay to be broken. It is okay to cry.
Thank you to all who have been a part of my 2017.
I move forward, driven even more passionately to educate myself, dismantle oppressive systems, alleviate suffering, serve the people, tell great stories, and to build communities of love, creativity, and healing.
I live on, a bit more broken,
but ever more loving, ever more kind,
ever more human.
The Philadelphia Magic Gardens is indeed a magical, chimera of a location. Nestled in a tiny lot in the Philadelphia, the garden is a remarkable feat of public art, filled with debris, art, and other knick knacks combined together in what I can only describe as a 3D-mosaic playground. It was a joy to wander in this space with my friend, Nikita, who graciously let me fit this week's challenge into our city explorations as a subject for my 10 shots.
Prompt (Story): Tell a story using a mirror.
I imagined this mirror as a 'looking glass' into the past. For me, the photo evokes the memories of once great river rushing through a now water-less hill.
Technically speaking, I shot this by putting a waterfall behind my back and using the mirror to create the illusion that the water is in front of me.
Week 1 Prompt (Story): The rule of thirds is the first compositional rule most photographers learn; but most don't know why they learn it. The rule of thirds is amazing for telling a story. Tell a story using rule of thirds.
Horizontally, I've broken the rule of thirds, and instead created thirds with the sea, land, and sky to create equal weight between them, suggesting that nature is in balance. Vertically, the shelter is on the guide line but the man is walking away from the guideline, suggesting that he's on a journey, which, results from a step away from balance, or the status quo.
Week 2 Prompt (Technical): Straight out of the Camera. No Photoshop. Shoot a compelling image and post it without edits. No cheating! (Be sure and save the image file for the end of the challenge!)
Lighting and color theory are aspects of filmmaking that I've largely underrated and am still trying to master. In most of my work, I've relied on post-production to create the look that I need, but it's often time-consuming, and ultimately, can't make up for poor direction. One of the struggles I had starting out in film is that I kept asking myself, "what else do I need to start making great visuals? What lens, what camera, what dolly, what slider, what else, what more?" The trap, of course, is that I ended up making nothing - and paying a lot. In this week's photo, I took some time to give some love to basic lighting techniques: separation of subject and background, key light, fill light, rim light, color. If I couldn't "fix it in post," then the challenge was being intentional enough to get it right in-camera.
In creating this image, I've found that the path to visual storytelling just requires a bit more confidence in the creativity that already exists in my brain (it's also free). Also self-portraits are hard.
Week 3 Prompt (Artistic): Your inspiration this week is land. This could be a landscape, or an image inspired by the land in some way.
I'm late. The week this was due was so tough, that I'm resorting to going back into the catalogues to find a picture inspired by land. So here's a picture of me simba-ing a piece of ice in triumph of still being here, alive and hustling.