Category: journal

personal drabbles, what would be my journal ?

Some true events

Reading Time: 11 minutes

I would like to become a cloud.

I want to be something in between man and machine: something distributed amidst everything. Something invisible. Something in sync. Something so connected that living feels as purposeful as it does feel terrible. To make the going away and coming feel like it’s all a part of making me whole.

There are even templates to make cloud/water cycles. Just fill it in, jesus.

Water Cycle Process Summary Slide - SlideModel
This is a sample text.

I like looking at Noah Veltman’s “What shape is the internet?” collection: I like diagrammatic and schematic things, clouds, and the internet. I like human error the most.

Noah Veltman’s “What shape is the internet?”

The internet does have a shape. I can barely comprehend it though; and a shape might as well not be a shape if it’s just a distant symbolic ideal instead of something to be visualized and re-rerendered. I would like a way of seeing the vast infrastructure that supports the web at once, or even the simple

Diagram of Internet, WWW, and computer relationship

Last year, I met a boy who told me to try naming everything. So I went and started doing this. We stood under a tree somewhere a long walk from campus and he held his Notes app out, looking at me eagerly for some names. I could’ve just said something like Thomas. I said nothing. He must have been so disappointed because I seemed like a very creative person and he only fucks very creative people because he wants to be creative himself, and then I offered him nothing when I couldn’t name that tree. When the wind blows in my face I cry. I must have kept tearing up during that walk. Now I name many things: birds perched at the fences of the park next to Book Trader, the rocks stuck in the soles of my sandals, the broken soft pastel bits, drinks, markers of time (37 minutes is a bittenty), locations that previously were just coordinates, novel things, boring things. I often take walks down to that hill he brought me to and stare at the tree—everything around it has something to call itself by. Everything but this tree.

In my last graphic design class at Yale the professor likes to handle crits by drawing and ripping on people’s paper and we don’t really get to say anything about each other’s work. One time I gave a comment instead of a question and he tore apart the comment about colors and then asked the person I was criticizing if they knew what a color wheel was. Then for the next person he asked them if they knew what an em dash was. He’s surprisingly good with computers. I spoke with him after class and even on the way down the elevator to ask him about the things he collected, and he seemed to like it when I told him that I like to collect cassettes and the bits of scrap paper & love notes from used books. He didn’t like it as much when I revealed that I rip the movies off the used MiniDV tapes I get to glitch them on my CRT. A few weeks later he almost makes me cry because my design wasn’t scaled up enough in print and because I only showed him a rough prototype of this printing assignment since the transparency paper I wanted to use for it was $2.99 a piece at Hull’s and I just didn’t think that it was necessary to print everything in the prototype at that cost but he did and the TA felt so bad for me she stepped in and then sent me a heart in an email after the class. He doesn’t have a computer at home. I guess you can be good at things without having them. When I get old I want to care about things beyond design.

Lately I’ve been reaching out to people to tell them that I think their work is nice and that they have changed my life but I’m never sure how to communicate the latter part. I wrote a love letter to the owner of the Cave of Dragonflies because I used to study their life more closely than mine, living in it when I had nothing else. It wasn’t particularly exciting but I liked to think of Iceland as a great, big, beautiful thing and thought that I could once sit side-by-side with them and decipher the English spoken on the television—though I’d have a bit of an easier time since I learned it earlier. It’s mildly parasocial. I love the idea of loving something so deeply and leaving all the resources you tend for it there, on the decades to come. I love the casual conversation that Butterfree leaves.

graft: splice a living part onto another living part; implanted, transplanted, propagated; 

I love somebody and we don’t speak each others’ first languages
so we go invent our own. This word means
bird, this one fire, this one cutter,
this one coffee, this one transitory. So
much of our conversation can feel
like correction. I teach him how to
pronounce Adidas, Glossier (any other
girl can do this), and he teaches me
how to say my name. This one means
brief, this one means slower, this one
means kiss, this one means now we can
commit, this one means certainty. I love
somebody and we both love song: I listen
to lyric, he finds the samples and me;
this is yet another untranslatable thing. 
When he shows me the jokes in his tongue
even if I wouldn’t get it; and I slip lang for
only that he takes as language—I know it. 
This one means time, this one means
patience, this one means (and we don’t
even need to speak it) let’s wake up
beside each other. We find words for
objects, location, animals, feelings,
(these ones are the hardest) time.
There is so much we are constantly
inventing. Soon, I think, there will be
too much that we can’t name. So much
of looking at him feels like looking at a
greater version of myself. All good things
tend to feel unreal, I tell myself. So I go
to him and ask: what’s the word
for this?

  • does anyone else make music from the ether?
    • debussy and eric satie
    • lily’s ether is influenced by no one
    • when the air splits in two, sound swells in my head, and the light leaks through.

I’ve lived so little of a life… I want to make things that make me occupy space. I want to stretch my existence into something meaningful and beautiful. It doesn’t have to last. I want something to feel the endurance that I had to feel. I want to be able to better communicate what this has all meant to me; why I continue doing it. Why beyond all rational thought I do the things that hurt myself. Why one action has led to another and why one step brings one to another and impose new ways of thinking about ‘rationality’, ‘meaning’—to live painful enough, but for the pain to have meant something. This is what all great stories of martyrdom and sacrifice lead to, right?

One time when I was younger and coming out of a robotics competition I was eating in a Sbarro with my mom and sister and gunshots came into the mall and I saw people running down the up escalator and flooding the entrances. We had to run out into the parking tower and down into the outside until we were in a sidewalk fenced off from this highway. Two groups of people came clashing in from both ends and a stampede was ensuing. I propped my sister over and then myself (another man put his hand on me to help me get out), and my mom was there on the other end telling us to go on without her. I felt this was a symptom of martyrdom and lack of will. It was the most pathetic sight I’ve ever seen. I told her to take off her shoes and hop the fence. We ran more and into a bus and then got dropped off at a gas station. I went to several more robotics competitions over the next years and whenever I made myself bleed I would clean it with betadine and tell no one.

I am so much of a mirror of my mother: when she would praise and gush and fawn and pose in front of the entire school and then yell in private. I like to do the goodness and the praise for others in quiet and be violent and abrasive in public, because this is how I believe that these things come to be most sincere. Not questioning my mother’s sincerity though; the parts about being repulsed by me were made pretty clear. I mirror the language of love.

A part of me does miss the public performance that we’d do. I was never good at acting but enjoyed the activity in some sense. I loved it so much that I often forgot that it was all fake. Now I don’t really know what it means to be out loud with your love. Now I look back and think of her as nothing more than a child, not so different from myself.

The more ‘objective’ something attempts to be, the more of a human activity it is.

Growing up feels a lot like just experiencing the things that make aphorisms what they are. I needed to feel something before I could start believing in god. Not that I believe in god—this is the closest example I have. Hence lower-case ‘g’ god, right? It could also mean learning what the word ‘aphorism’ means.

When I complain about never having lived a life, it mostly boils down to that. I need to take more from people who can feel wonder and wholeness from something objectively ‘simple’, because ‘gratification’ is of course something we choose ourselves. I think of naming an album after flowers, like anyone does. I think about a body of work so whole to me that nobody will ever understand. I think about myself dead before I turn 22. Many things can signal having lived a life.

I’m hoarding a lot more. Tapes, CDs. I’m preparing for the time when I need to take bits of everything in my life and assemble it into something new; an act I’ve been doing over and over for the past four years. I’m thinking about my childhood bedroom and how they used to throw out gifts and things I liked and how life became easier when I became best friends with girls who never gave each other gifts or gave each other attention when we really needed it. Now I can deteriorate in peace and have nothing to remember them by. Yaya used to play this CD of the Carpenter’s Greatest Hits, and I fell in love with the Carpenters and perhaps with life by it. Sound is my site of memory and is the only thing I haven’t completely lost. If I listen closely enough during the bloodletting, I can hear the gunshot and the rush again. When my room is so silent and I suddenly remember that I don’t know where I’m living in the next few months or who I’ll have, I think about the neverending stream of tricycles and vendor chatter on the streets of Tondo, plus the taste of merengue in my mouth and the memory of freezing Hershey’s Kisses on the sill of our air conditioner until the white cracks would form on the milk chocolate. When the Simpsons movie came out and played ‘Close To You’ I lost my shit and decided that the Simpsons Carpenters’ song would also be played at my wedding. Or at my funeral. Whatever comes first. Except one order allows for two occurrences to happen.

Again I walk up to the highway and stand in the middle of the street and let my hands go so cold that they start clamming and my teeth chatter involuntarily.

When I put my desk up and a project that is essentially my life and don’t know how to explain it I feel intense wishes to make myself more palatable——but I suppose the entire bit about making my life incredibly difficult was to go beyond what is easy/expected and to do things that may only be digestible for a few. And things that are only digestible for a few are necessary. And this isn’t the right audience etc etc but if my entire shtick is about, say, creating spaces for other people to convene in / making it possible for other people to create and then I do all this talk about self-alienation and feeling terrible about myself then it’s quite a bit more understandable that I’m disappointed in the work’s illegibility than a random intensive chemistry major wishing their friend understood their lab work. (I did attend a talk like this and then I stole a bottle of wine from the table.) It does fucking suck though when you’re in an undergraduate thesis show.

Maybe I should sit down and talk to my friends about what I care about. Maybe I should do a solo show. Maybe I should stop calling myself an artist. I’m going to go delete all mentions of ‘artist’ from my page now.

I am so much of my older self but somehow it feels all new. I made a one hour presentation about myself (or rather, my greatest passion, which is just ‘making’ loosely—’making making’ specifically, which sounds more like bullshit). It took me eight hours to make. I had a panic attack when I started it and I had to get high and lay in someone else’s bed to stop the second panic attack and finish it. They kept asking me how old I was when I made X thing, and like many people who bear witness to me, thought I was insane but impressive. Many times I think about how strange it would be if I weren’t impressive—supposing that would just mean that I’m insane. After making the presentation I did step back and think that damn, I guess I really was/am neurodivergent and my parents are really good at hiding anything medically from me and making me feel like I’m shit and that all of that is in my control. Most of it has been in my control. This re-contextualizes many irrational things I do. I wish I was a bit more normal… or perhaps was just not read as a broken thing. Thankfully, leaning this way makes you read as a genius/brilliant in the right company, because that’s what being fucked in the head means anyway.

Maps are already innately very human. This relates to the point earlier about objectivity. Even the way you delineate boundaries and borders—the way you choose to crop the map itself, the place you choose to show and how it is named.

Yes, I regret going to Yale. I regret going to Yale and not making the most out of it even more.

I’m sure this opinion can change later on. I’m busy in the process of making new regrets already… more to come!

A few weeks ago I spoke to an artist strewing magnetic tape over a withering tree next to the lesser-overpriced coffee shop here in Downtown New Haven. I never speak to people. I say this whenever I am speaking to people or not. We had a conversation for about an hour and I turned on my field recorder for the latter 40 minutes. He explained things about pirates, artistry, and the Philippines to me. He told me that nothing ever really touches and that everything we do is just manufacturing closeness; then he paced around me but I didn’t tell him that I could feel us getting closer. I like to see myself bleed to check the color: the incision tells me how deep in my skin I’m getting. He texts me poetry.

Here I ripped off a used MiniDV (the act my professor doesn’t like me doing) that opens with the Crying Nazi. It couldn’t have been that long ago.

Then this family records themselves. The clothes they wear feel like early 2000s Disney; but I also live on a college campus and have no idea of normalcy.

I should go to an outlet mall or a state park to feel the culture again. I should take a long walk until I find something pretty. I should go out tonight and name the things that have yet to be given names. How long have you lived before you really felt the name that was given to you?

Next week I turn 22.

The center of everything that happens

Reading Time: 15 minutes

This is another post about connection. My microwave’s clock is about 50 minutes off, a fact I only learned after the daylight savings shift. For some reason I had always thought it was just arbitrarily off, set to some random time, even if it would still just be some X minutes off as a clock can only really go backwards and forwards. When distance closes, everything feels a bit more intentional and connected. The boundary of arbitrariness to my act of witnessing blurs and everything simultaneously feels unimportant and grand.

On a Saturday night I took the last Metro-North back to New Haven from Grand Central and watched an hour skip. Around this time I was telling my friends, dead exhausted, about how I thought I was an evil person. I couldn’t answer any prods and generally sounded kind of inane, which lines up about right with my recent interest in understanding what Catholicism has done to me in making me believe that over two decades, suffering is the correct, default state. By implication, I understood that all the masochistic tendencies inside of me came from this desire for understanding. A man was once source of all goodness, and by a will larger than his own, wished / was fated to extend it to all of us.

Then I live a life seeking forgiveness from anyone who offers it to me.

A creation myth is spilled, written mystically enough to give me enough wonder for the universe without need to question it. Decades later, it’s re-read so that I personify sacrifice and power in some form of figure and idol; it becomes strenuous, near-impossible to imagine a loving that is truly unconditional. I’m fixated on every object around me, each one requiring a futile attempt at rationalization for its being: all at once, I can stretch and conjure a grand backstory and reason for everything—and then step back and in sincerity, revel at how pointless everything is. Coming to terms with how the sacred is mundane, how every fleeting object has relied on another fleeting thing and how it’s only upon these cycles that a semblance of permanence is drawn, I take deep breaths——almost, I afford myself the same kindness.

Over the past year, I’ve been giving myself the space to think and more consciously trying to understand why I desire the things I want. The more time I spend dwelling on these questions and adjacent ambiguities, the more I feel I will never find it. For every irrational, unhealthy behavior I pinpoint to some line of broken manifestation and wishing, I continue on. Case one: I still believe that everything I experience is drawn from some sort of brutality. If not extractable from the very surface, I read of histories until I can declare myself culpable. Even the act of over-questioning, of burdening myself and drawing on the pain is insufferable—it becomes the very reason why, in a way, I turned from religion because I abhorred some of the saints and the sense of sanctity they felt—declaring themselves free and liberated in the face of pain, the credence in their martyrdom and all its spiritual brashness that I’m sure only compounded the violence that they were facing. They test faith. The story of Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod, still burning in my mind as the ones who first told it to me seem so small yet kingly in their more pleasant deaths. I’m almost certain that the seething stems from jealousy; how could anyone be so certain of what they’re willing to die for? Case two: I can’t go on a walk without coming home having wondered why I just let the world outside continue burning. I go out again in the dead of night, searching.

These feelings were generally affirmed to me over years of unhealthy behavior that was praised, and how I caught myself doing things that would hurt myself because I believed that something better would happen to me if I did this later on. When I talk to people who were the most prominent in my lives 5 or so years ago and they tell me how much I’ve changed with some look of sorrow, just the same as they ever were only with a bit more wear on their face. I forget that this is supposed to feel like a sign of healing rather than a denouncement of my new self, even if they may resent the new me for it.

A lifestyle of solitude sometimes seems incompatible with this desire to feel sacredly connected to everything. Many things can be true at once, and sometimes I wish I only lived in simple binaries.

As of writing, I’m 21 and have seen over 100 live performances. In the front and center of a stage, sitting in the pews of a church, or at the corner of a balcony, sometimes I get so scared that the sounds stop feeling like a euphoric, gentle cradle—I’m suddenly three or twenty-five hours away from home and don’t know why I’m doing this. My sister and I have spent the past years spending more hours listening to music than not (thank you Spotify Wrapped). Most of the time, I close my eyes or focus my vision until everything is blurry and all the words, never mine to begin with, roll over, and I am a million places at once. The world becomes profoundly interesting again as I fall into a recitation of a moment I can now take for myself.

This is another paragraph about fear. I’m too good at articulating truths about the world I want to live in until it’s real. I wanted to go to college and meet wonderful people. I wanted to get a good job and to earn money and be able to explore all the things I never had the opportunity to do so. I want to go to a bed at night and have someone care if I don’t wake.

I hate how the fundamental of all wants are constant (usually in the form of love: feeling like you receive it, which is easy once you realize how the world touches you; and then feeling like you sufficiently provide the love back). I hate how fundamentally it feels like I will never be content. I hate how it feels like there is something objectively broken about the way I exist. I hate how I have been steered so much about what I must desire, what standard I must measure myself against, and have been so constrained from beauty in the world that I have to apologize whenever I pause on the street. I hate brokenness, as a concept, as an adjective applied to anything that hasn’t fit a definition of desirability. I hate promising that everything, at one point, or at some state, was once longed for or necessary. I want to say that I want stillness, but then I start thinking about how I am at the center of nothing and at the very center of everything I have the potential to touch.

For a while I’ve been confident in my approach to understanding the world this way: it exists in a default of chaos, neither gentle or harsh, oscillating without regard. Outcomes are only ever stochastic; though there are of course, ‘smaller’ things that can be placed with more certainty than others. Every act becomes an attempt to defy entropy. Our day, arbitrarily defined, an attempt at increasing and decreasing probability to emulate something constant.

But this is how I perceive the world today: every good thing a result of luck rather than something I’ve touched, nearly every bad thing a deserved consequence of my actions.

That’s a simplification that suggests a bit too much kindness at myself; I do often take the path that’s harder for no reason. Perhaps I do act and exist in a way that attracts every kind of darkness, and maybe it’s been a kind means for me to feel real and to become a better person. Are you broken if you internally know that this way of thinking is fucked up but still let it be because it’s what fuels you? Are you tired of reading paragraphs from twenty-one year olds playing victim as they try to defend their existence and lack of presence?

For over two decades, I thought that the best way to signal that I was real was by making. If there was no documentation or artifact of myself, I would fade. Putting things out into the world was a necessity for me, and then later in life became a form of self-expression I’m still less than comfortable with.

First it was making spaces for my friends and self, finding the areas where I could simply go to exist and be somewhere. Where there was no volume for myself, I breathed and toiled somewhere around until the space presented itself after my hands. When constantly preparing to take the next breath, you don’t even know what you could become. Somewhere, mostly around college, I realized that everything I would shape with my hands was my only way of telling stories and wandered into expression. Still, I’m making and consuming things for the same audience (even if half the days I can’t see how real they are) and mostly see the work in my acquaintances’ hands. There’s something magical about knowing someone’s deepest secrets and traumas but not knowing what their voice sounds like. I often wonder if this is real knowing or not. What ugly, distorted parts of themselves (of who they want to be, of who they longed to be, of who they would like to erase) lived only the internet—what part of their longing will now die with me.

On the subway, I tell a new friend that I don’t think I’ll ever be capable of connecting to another individual or group deeply enough, so I choose to archive and document myself as best as I can. Every activation and item, however temporary, becomes my way of presenting myself to the world. In many ways, what I fashion with my hands is truer than what I can speak to others. Objects, bits of code, and images hold a spirit of mine that would have never existed otherwise. Most days, it makes me feel more delirious and detached; I’m attempting to fashion a new world while the old one is dying. I’m trying to live a million lives because I couldn’t live mine.

I deplore the debate of authenticity and sincerity when it comes to documentation. I want to pick up leaves and pause on the sidewalks to take a photo of an empty sky and uninteresting road. I think of all the spaces I’ve ‘made’, I think of all the stories of my life I’ve told through moving pictures and songs that weren’t my own because I could never tell it directly. To be an ‘extension’ of myself suggests that these materials were never me in the first place; something that is a mere augmentation, or a selective mirror piece. My longing was the present truth, then became an embarrassing history until others saw it earnest enough despite its form.

Sometime in the past month, I woke up in my apartment and realized I don’t memorize the contours of its ceiling. I knew I wouldn’t have to commit to it. My New Haven lease ends in September and then I will move to San Francisco where the weather is warmer and the winters are kinder and I will know no one. I close my eyes and then remember that I have a childhood bedroom but no longer a home and that I don’t know where I’ll be living five months from now. In another country I had a certain roof (even if bloodied), I had a certain life. Now I am so far from everything that matters and have nothing to return to. (I’m spending the summer in New Haven and the northeast and I don’t know what to do in that time but create, which at least means that I must live.) Everything I have is ending and all I want is for myself to reach some conclusion as well, even an undesirable one.

When I say I want to carry myself in solitude, I say that without precluding myself from wanting some form of support: I think other people have taken this in the form of a god, or lover, or an impact. This is why I still allow myself to cry at movies, where I’ve been thinking a lot about screenplays and the unspoken lines that let writers and actors fill in the gaps with the nuances of how they have been loved—so universal on-screen, never needed to be written down. This is why I still allow myself to cry and feel like I am the unlovable, broken thing—that anything that anyone could ever want about me is temporary, or an extension of myself (in their eyes) but not myself. This is why I do everything I do and then hurt myself in the process; it’s the only way I know how to carry myself, and worse, the only way I know how to fuel myself. This isn’t a paragraph about being alone. This is a paragraph about wanting certainty. No, I know I’m sacred and one with everything in the universe and I know that music or drugs or a good walk can amplify that feeling—the ridiculous thing about my self-inflicted sorrow is that I know all this and the taste of experiencing it feels… unnecessary, though I know much of life’s joy is derived from that. There won’t be writing about realizing that simplicity and domesticity is all I wanted in the end. That I woke up in a hospital bed next to someone, then lived most of my lifetime to date sharing a bed and airconditioner with a big family, and then started living alone and started being scared about dying in a bed next to no one. This is a section about how everything ahead of me in life is now wildly variable, which is scary to someone who is 21 and has lived a relatively cushy life that has been greatly generous in allowing themselves to disappear over and over again when every piece of media fed to me has been relentless in ingraining an unnecessary fear that the love and presence one feels and is surrounded with must always be constant, even when it’s suffocating and turns to hurt.

Is it bad that I’m answering myself with the expectation that all joy is temporary? That if I know that something can probabilistically be reached, I’d want it less?

I can mitigate all this largely self-implicated suffering, and with the same method of madness that I use to make myself feel guilty for the Metro-North striking a man on the New Haven Line on weekday rush hour then I can also numb myself from all the wanting. I can now make myself feel very distant and detached, and then more likable and personable so that I can find new forms of community while being self-aware I’m tired of shaping them. I think it’s kind of glorious that I

I think everyone is allowed to want something. I think everything I’m talking about is simple in the psyche and inane to anyone who has spent more than a month truly with themselves. I think everyone should be allowed to be afraid about their body only being found when it starts to rot. I think I’m tired of a lifelong search for something permanent when I now am so certain that it will never really come; that I don’t know what can sustain me but other people’s stories, but I don’t know where mine begins or will end any longer.

I’m trying to learn how to feel when people say they know me because they know my work. All of me is in it, really. Maybe my favorite way to live is through the artifacts, emotions, and stories that people derive from my own. In way, the manufacturing of culture or even momentary emotion is a way for me to live a million lives, the same joy I derive from music and all its affects untranslatable to any other form yet so palatable. Seeing how [what I make] slips into the tongue, into people’s daily conversation, where an influence to an influence is shared and laughed about, a passing memory that someone else later thinks is their own. Unbeknownst to me, I could be a part of a hundred lives and the lives that they then touch and live. Everything is connected and sacred.

Everything is boring. Most of the time I distance myself from people (take forever to reply, even if it’s an asshole move) because I know that I can’t really sustain any form of engagement with others. Most of the time I believe I’m too unworthy to talk to people, or uninteresting, even if the kind email is all about how I’m interesting. Most of the time, I think of myself as empty and shallow because all this time spent rocking myself back and forth and indulging in the sadness and anger through creation ends there—I still don’t really know how to talk to others about my work, influences, or self, and fear how vapid I really am. I’m busy pouring myself out into nothing at all. The body and craft I’m carving aren’t disingenuous because of their content or motives, but because that’s all there is to myself.

Everything is beautiful. I think the attempt at something lasting is more gorgeous than the fact of it lasting at all. What is most beautiful is when a person looks at the broken world and deems that something beautiful can come from it—or that it is already beautiful; or when two people come together to fasten a moment and vow to come together, again and again, even when they don’t know where they’ll be living five months from now. I think about the grandness of the world when its stochastic nature is rivaled by human determination and need: how probability becomes a game if enough people, in all the earth’s variables, with varying levels of control and understanding of how to manipulate such control take all this limited time (also determined by someone else) to steer it into a future that is lasting—first in the vision it took in their minds, then in the whole of its being that came after.

And I’m trying to learn how to feel when all people have of me is my work, because it’s the way I chose to live. Here is a blog I erased for a month and a half that has a detailed record of everything I believed and grew to believe in the past eight years. Here are the words that floated in my head, all I abided under and communed with and loved for a moment, and found beautiful enough to present.

This is another obvious one: the most beautiful thing about the making is all the unseen parts. I think this is why I like writing and documentation, even as it seemingly overshadows the output itself. How one had come to be influenced enough to find a vision that they believed in so strongly that they wanted to make it for the world: the material object may die or be corrupted (and is it not beautiful already, in all its decay and its attempt to hold onto life?), but the vision stays. I read about worlds that only exist in fantasy and speculation, magic realist-machines implementable or not, landmarks and glorious places that may or may not have existed—and new people shape newer worlds and visions out of it again.

There’s a line that I walk that I still don’t know how to articulate when it’s crossed: when I take a memory, moment, or act of creation from someone else and suddenly it becomes mine. I think about my friends back home who have taught me how to punctuate my texts and are still the voice and tone in which I read every message on the internet, I think blisteringly about the sentiments of loneliness I feel after generations of love have brought me as a result—and the loneliness my parents must feel and how they didn’t sense it at all in the thousands of instances where we pulled apart, or the hundreds of shows I’ve seen in desperate attempt to find meaning and this want to no longer look up at a ceiling that I’m doomed to never remember. I understand a memory, likely never as was intended, and I fasten it into an experience of my own. I don’t know how many times I’ve crossed this line, but it must have happened a million times in the past month. This is the only thing I want to impart with what I make. I want my life’s work to be so tethered into the life of another that whatever material was ‘raw’ is indecipherable.

The connectedness is most potent, I think, when I’m able to remember who and what something came from. It’s not necessary, but being able to name what I’m devout to has helped me be able to deepen the interconnectedness. The numbing I default to lately is necessary, but also a problem. I’m working on getting better at recognizing when someone has made a part of my life what it is and thanking them for it; I say this over and over, but the expression of gratitude, the recognition and sealing of acknowledgement—tiny, life-changing moments that give us a sense of assuredness and certainty that we’d otherwise spend hundreds of hours writing about to try and convince ourselves is there. It’s kind of a cop-out.

Making is oftentimes done as an excuse for existing. I’m learning gratitude and I’m learning how to realize that I’m sufficient not necessary in my stillness, but in all that I have done and believed is satisfactory and is going somewhere (and especially learning how to see this when it’s unspoken); I’m learning to lean into my only certainty: that I can act again, against this ruthless entropy, where the act of defiance speaks more than any tangible result. This is why I value the attempt, why I seek to be prolific, why I like to be bad at everything—I don’t think I will ever certainly hit a certain pedestal or measure, but I can certainly act and try.

In the most grand and anti-climactic realization, everyone before me could have had the same line of thinking——without all the fucked bits about roistering in self-harm and hurt, of course. Every standard and thing I could become, with the right conditions, could have come with the smallest self-expectation fo sufficiency. Then I grant myself a light comfort in knowing that anger and hurt is an easy emotion to depict and is why I feel it with so much more frequency and intensity. This is not a paragraph about wanting to be loved and being okay with being hurt—this is one at attempted understanding.

Then there’s the understanding where I like to speak things prematurely and others still believe in me. The one where I attribute the good things in my life to randomness when a man was still fighting for me on an admissions table, and where underneath all the vitriol and physical hurt that love must have stemmed from it, the one where I talk earnestly about how I am so good and focused on finding something constant that someone still lets me try at it even when all of this and myself will end. I often hate it when people don’t give me enough reason or constraints for an act or task (and I’ve been failing a lot), I think it’s because they don’t take me seriously—when I’ve likely done enough to warrant this faith. It feels like the closest thing to godliness. That my loved ones and friends still come to what I have to say, or read, or speak, even when they don’t particularly care that I disappear—because they know this is my way of living and if the day is beautiful enough, I might come back again.

I looked at everything around me: All around me is blind devotion.

Before the invention of anything was faith. Before we put a name to a god was belief. Before a prayer was called a prayer, there still was a concentration of thought—perhaps verbalized, visualized, or just felt, an outpouring to an object of worship that could only have been the world or oneself—if there’s any difference between the two.

Eating breakfast under a sun with someone I love, next to a wall of graffiti that tells some form of story of art and craft and where one bought the dripping pen marker––whether it was passed down or something found in an advertisement. This is another paragraph exaggerating, in gross overconfidence of the human race, that there is deeper meaning and reason in the things we put out into this world. Much of the writing about creation is just reworded attempts to convince people that the process is the magic.

I think still that it’s vapid to repeat these empty aphorisms, but I need the repetition to realize that the truth is happening around me. The difference between reading about people’s experiences and living through something is that form of sacred connection. The thrill of understanding that there are these moments tied to specific identities, people, and moments that will never repeat themselves again become another form of grand connectedness––I feel momentarily unique, even if ‘uniqueness’ is another concept I need to learn to detach myself from as it’s another arbitrary thing. Configurations unique to time happen unstoppably, uncountable instances all at once––I can hold everything holy in my head.

And I listen to the birdsong in the morning, even if I can’t see where it’s coming from.

Listening, in many forms

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Today, I posted a bit more publicly about something I’ve been working on for a bit: launching a music blog and DIY label! (I also talked a bit about this in my 2021 blog.) Planning to run this at Yale for now (as my university has been devoid of a music blog, and I feel that there’s no ‘central’ space on-campus to get involved with the broader New Haven music scene in general––at most we have a semi-active radio station) with plans to branch in Manila once I figure out how distribution can work. New Haven is flourishing and I’m eager to spend time shifting around here and the Greater New York area before I move to San Francisco in August this year just making things and meeting people.

Essentially, I want to spend some time in the next months doing small-scale releases of art in sound & print for friends, myself, and other interesting folks. (Also doing this long after, hopefully.) The silly, jokey framing of this is “I spent years of 5AM–1AM days suffering in Manila to work my ass off and somehow end up in America, speak on the biggest tech conference stage in freshman year –– to cap off my time in college making tape loops and printing zines in my apartment”––but things can be playful and necessary, and bringing beauty into this world in times like these are the bits of hope I cling onto.

Bad Internet is a music blog and tape label (?) run from New Haven. We publish essays on music, mixes, shoot shows, and release things. Running it with a few friends.

In practice, it’s a space to explore listening as memory, listening in analog–digital forms and the under-explored potentiality of its intersections, and perhaps selfishly––a way for me to listen to the world (its past, and what seemingly mundane things are worth preserving) and take part in uplifting what I think others might like to hear as well.

Interested in exploring

Attempts at musical ekphrasis, or something like that. Something that isn’t very critically interesting but is meaningful to me are the YouTube comments under songs: tripping on acid for the first time to Explosions in the Sky, elegaic paragraphs under classical music to someone who had passed and loved a song, teenagers earnestly letting out how this song saved their life. Last year, I realized that I remember best through audio. (I have aphantasia.) A song attached to a moment, a field recording of coffee shop chatter and windy walks. Technical descriptions of sound are interesting, yes, but you can hear that and it’s consistent––yet human experience, memory, and relationships are unique and venerable. Preserving these relationships, telling stories, a friend telling you they love a song because this was the one that was playing when I––tiny, perhaps silly things that mean everything to me.

My favorite existing attempt at this is Federico Antonini & Sergio Savini’s ‘Raising Moths. Attempts at (Musical) Ekphrasis on Haruomi Hosono’s Watering a Flower‘ (thank u Kalo for showing this to me 🙇‍♂️). Bandcamp’s ‘Resonance’ personal essay series also hits hard (and is so wonderfully illustrated), especially this one on The Caretaker’s work.

I think college is an important time to make ourselves feel grand. People don’t really have the most interesting music tastes, but they do have important ones. (Alternatively, this importance could be why they’re ‘interesting’.)(The privilege it takes to develop that taste is another thing to be written about in itself, but the magic is in relating to people and the bits between plays. The human voice can persist in a more definitive, interesting manner that words can attempt to cover. That’s the underlying goal behind this, really. Telling stories about ourselves through the medium of audio.

Digital and analog forms augmenting one another. This one I’m still really thinking about, and feel will be experimental and powerful. Audio (how we digest, consume) has maintained static for a long time, and the digital/streaming world’s instantaneity has lost the wonder of distribution and form. (Taking a moment to plug this edition of Snoqualmie Falls’ Dream Sequence, a record pressed with petals, Green-House’s cassette with wildflower seeds, or all the wonderful editions by Room40 that pair CDs with artist books.) I’ve long appreciated artist identities, live visuals, then the materiality of audio again when collecting.

What sucks is that there’s so many ways to make audio experiences on the internet more interesting. A simple example is old media players having visualizers, now dead (unless you reskin Windows Media Player which I learned is still a doable and fun thing!) My rudimentary understanding of Web3 is that it offers interesting new modes of ownership & distribution––which is one example. Thinking further, ARGs (if only transmedia was more native so I wouldn’t have to use this mildly awkward term!) and web experiences have the potential to make more interesting, intentional listening experiences online. Similar to how the form of a gatefold encourages you to digest a record differently.

This is to say that I’m focusing on releases that also make use of the affordances of the web in more interesting ways. As I practice with more physical forms, there’s also more that we can do with technology. Tired of playlist dumps as the only form of curation left; how music videos are so much rarer but can also evolve.

Just a desire to be hands-on and in full control of creative process again! Maybe a more selfish desire, but I feel most myself when I can take on every piece of a project and see it from beginning-to-end. Working in communities, this is challenging to scale. (Admittedly, I’m terrible at delegation and turnover; which is why I’m so interested now in the production of systems & processes to cover this.) Working with my hands and exploring DIY now that I have the means & resources to access materials that I never did at home (i.e. in Manila, the only guarantee I had was a computer––and it was the right tool for me then, everything could live in it and the only things lost would be of my choice) and have begun operating at this scale once more––something I’ve found that I’ve dearly missed.

I thrived at work with small startups that needed help with everything because constant context-switching and agility comes naturally to me. Working with my hands then telling stories through design and words and manipulating platforms is what I will always feel like I’ve been born to do. This is me exploring that and helping do it for other people.

Sound art, archival, ethnomusicology, etc. I’m heavily invested in labels that work on archival, re-releases, pairing things with interesting physical forms. You get the idea. I spent a long while listening to the Field Recordings section off NTS and fell in love with Death Is Not The End, a label and regular NTS radio show. This Crack Magazine article on their work is a lovely read: raw recordings with emotional, historical, and cultural significance as memorymaking, as pieces that demand true ‘listening’. I don’t think other people (at least on-campus) will come to me with this sort of work yet, but there’s a bunch of personal audio and field recording projects that I’d like to release through this. (So this is another case of someone wanting to release their own things and calling their process of publishing & distribution a ‘label’, since that’s what it essentially is, anyway.)

Two years ago, I took a Sound Art class that might be my favorite class at Yale. (For my first project, I did a ‘performance art’ piece where I blasted open Coke bottles over a gaming setup with Minecraft death rage compilations projected on me.) At the start of the pandemic, I was alone in New Haven and obsessed with taking in field recordings since I couldn’t think, then started becoming more intentional with my relationship to audio in different forms. Then I thought about how my whole life has been accompanied by music, one of those thoughts that is nothing new but still incredible at keeping you from feeling lonely. Living through television dramas on love and justice on long Manila commutes, Saturday market activities of buying CDs for cents in Ruins (a flea market in BF Paranaque now closed down), how mass in the Philippines lasts for hours because of the song. And how without fail, everyone sings. Sound in its ability to capture the indescribable as pursuit so noble in its futility.

Similarly, that “mixes ambient music with police scanner radio, air-traffic control, numbers stations, spoken word & a bunch of other random things”, another NTS show. Wowowow. And from ‘Music Beyond Airports’, “The idea that public physical space can be subject to personalisation, comment, viewpoint and subjective association is not new. However, this concept of the spatial self, made malleable through digital media, can shed light on the types of relationship exhibited between ambient music and the environment.” and “Space in the ambience today is personal.”

All of this is really an act of reclamation: of memory, of making, of feeling my body again.

And in process, hoping that others can feel it, too.

Here’s a playlist I compiled to share on our page! Not reflective of what we’ll release through the ‘label’, more of just a random mix of what I’ve been listening to. Many more playlists and mixes from friends to come.

Those are all my thoughts for now. Thanks for hearing me and this phase out. If you work on anything similar or if anything resonates, talk to me about it!

Again, I have no idea what I’m doing and am playing it by ear… fun!