Tag: life

The degrees of slowness

Reading Time: 16 minutes

( Or how my heart has been feeling incapacitatingly full & bursting even when I am still, or how the pleasures of slowness are pleasures for a reason, or how self-actualization in a vacuum is a sordid proposal, or how everywhere I go I keep finding myself and I can’t stop walking because I’d like to keep meeting them, or how when you tell me to go slow I still have to keep running )

I often think about who I am. More embarrassingly and more precisely, I’ve been thinking about what people know of it. The generous interpretation of this is that I’m trying to live life more legibly—endeared by treating it as a prompt, an invitation. We are all just pieces of each other. What belies me are the source of the conditions that indulge me in this taking, conscious or not. When I think about who I am, I wonder what is the self that I work towards. Who am I but my relations to others? All this life is about other people.

When I invoke legibility, I attempt to separate this from simplification. I divorce legibility from the act of reduction and palatability—there is still all of me, symbolic and lived, just poured out so that anyone can know it if they choose. I think this permeates most of my philosophy around being and finding: I like personal, intimate blogs more than newsletters because of the act of intentionality needed to continue returning, and how I’ve dwelled here for six years without feeling the need to look for metrics so much that I’m surprised when people comment or worse (in the most loving way possible), people mention what I write in real life. Maybe the simple comparison would be a handwritten piece of complex text, where the contents themselves are largely unaltered, simply written so that I author stories that others can read if they choose. I find that this makes it so that I can actually read myself, too.

I have been pacing around my apartment and haven’t been sleeping. I wake up after thirty minutes or an hour if I’m lucky, my heart pounding infinitely. When I run this feeling escalates, but the sweat provides reason for it. I walk to the beach and I feel like I am walking to the end of my life. Since I was in college I’d be being, sometimes just reading, and then I’d collapse. This happened again a few times this week. I probably need to stop myself. But when I am still, I am still running.

selections from chia.pics/flowers.html

I appreciate the heart of the sentiment of slowness and stillness, but hurt at how even that is often a privilege.

I suppose this all boils down to what we ourselves define as treading, and to what environments we are walking on, and how everyone’s slowness looks different.

When I think about myself I think about the pace in which I live my life. When I am, I am running.
When I become myself, I often take time to withdraw and more clearly — without the expectation of others — I work to find what exactly of me I have become. Seeing, like hearing, like the feeling of interdependency and interconnectedness, is a more involved act than many think. A simple exercise I do is to clearly recall and name what I saw immediately after waking up, which is often not the ceiling. When we look, there is an entire environment and the periphery, and then the conscious choice of noticing. The noticing is the most potent part of this action—what makes us human, what gives us agency, what allows us to perceive so that we can intuit. Familiar, grounded seeing is an attentiveness to an entire picture, to its details, and then the naming of its history. Seeing is a challenge, initially bounded by what we know, and oftentimes what we deem as worth knowing.

I wake up, name what I see, and remember that I am part of the world, that my world intersects with many others. “Soon after we can see, we are aware that we can also be seen.”

“Actual ‘self-invention’ — if we are measuring it in range of expressivity — appears more like self-dissolution,” Rob Horning writes. When I become myself every moment, when I contend that every moment known or not does “permanently alter my brain chemistry”, actually, I become more interested in the act of naming. Or realizing. Or knowing. These are all the same things. What I get most from others are behaviors and patterns and the vocabulary, irreplaceable toolkits to mend and piece this life for what it is. I appreciate that the ‘arbitrary’ constellations we recognize have been continued on from the earliest recorded histories. I live with a name that I did not give myself, somehow still having made it my own. I choose the words. I am the author of this life. “We’re born into social life and shaped by it; self-discovery may thus entail a destruction of social bonds, not a sounding of them.”

This is why I am restless when I am most confused, and found that the answer to self-identity was to continue constructing it until it could come to me — whatever activity I trusted this construction to be occurring in — and whatever that construction was my complete decision, and an unquestionable part of my self-making. Sometimes I was just waiting until I deemed the self worthy of naming, where my form of patience was allowing this temporary ambiguity. Naming is never a finalizing act, of course, it is simply a vessel to evolve and become. Even a named object remembers the time it was nameless. I grow attached to naming things that are fleeting, names that are not unique, continuing their lineages. Sometimes other people give me the words for myself, tells me about the history I am part of that I did not know I was partaking in. This is when I feel most connected. This lets it be so that everybody shapes me but nobody tells me what I am until I declare it so.

Imagine if it were not already the sense that lets you take in my words. If the limits of what we can see are often constrained by our imaginaries and experiences, then it becomes that ‘seeing’ is one of the most important methods to living. We define nearly all of our waking moments by when we begin actively sensing, and more dramatically when that sensibility is absent.

Seeing is undeniably tethered to my practice of self-construction. Seeing does not replace becoming, but it is an integral part of it. Seeing is an active, involved act that accompanies self-construction. Seeing necessitates movement. Walking Is an act of seeing is an an act of walking.

Everywhere I go, I just keep finding myself. I want to keep finding myself so I keep going.

One of my closest art professors at Yale shared with me the recommendation letter he wrote me back in April, and in my absence last month I reread it for the first time since he first sent it. “…In class their freshman year Chia was quiet and reserved, and at first I did not notice them, then we had a critique and their work broke the computer, literally. They turned in a project that forced the computer to shut down and restart in the middle of our critique as a meditation on the digital medium and as an expressive gesture that undermined the interface itself as a way to highlight the fragility of digital experience. You don’t notice Chia because they demand to be noticed, you notice them because they are impossible to ignore.

Most of my asking for witnessing might have come in a seeming overcompensation for an invisibility. At its core, my self-preservation is a radical act against a world that has kept erasing me. I am not blogging for the people who will read it after I die, I write to know myself and what I think and what I had journeyed to until I die. I write because the world has become noisy & polluted, and when the most beautiful thing we can do is to attend to each other, that this is best done when we present the invitation to do so; that I trust in myself, and maybe even other people, to filter through and deem what is important beyond what is in our periphery. This is maybe the magic of agency, the biggest lesson from wading through any dark place: I can choose what is important, I can choose what I believe, I can choose what I see. To do this, you must first see everything. I try so hard to be in a way that is unquestionable.

Naming is not a linear or generous act; maybe I described it as so. It comes hungrily, when my soul pangs for a sense of purpose, or a clarity of desire and self. It comes arbitrarily, in surprise and in embarrassing relief that I had already become who I wanted to be so long ago, being so irrational and headstrong in my own judgment of self, to everyone’s derision. It comes when the things unnamed now demand names, where the ordinary have become everything, where rhythm and structure have ceded to the undeniable tangibility of presence.

When I live I am in your field of view, and whether I am truly seen is a choice not always conscious. It’s difficult to engage in something you see but do not name or know, and sometimes people make the choice to further seek—and many times they don’t. But what can you see if it’s not observable, especially of something for the first time? To even begin being present with others, I’ve learned that I must move, be apparent. To be seen we must first be near each other.

When seeing accompanies self-construction, we are always moving: with our eyes, our senses, our body, within the environment in which we choose to realize ourselves. When you are walking, nothing really moves. Frederic Gos believes that slowness is less the opposite speed and more of a regularity of paces and uniformity, painting pictures of still landscapes and mountains becoming almost embodied within us instead of us drawing nearer. This is pretty, but I am dwelling in a world that to have me, needs me in motion. Before I am slow I must be seen. When I go slow I am laboring to be there. Sometimes I am told that brutality and exertion are the most abundant, true forms of provision; this is why I falter to thinking that when I suffer I feel most like myself, that when the heart is pounding it continues to feel like the right direction—even if I might very well be killing myself. Sometimes and often lately I am told that presence is enough, being is enough. What if the body is still dying either way. What if to meet myself I have to get someplace first. What if to put one foot in front of the other means that I chose to act on the desire of motion. This is why when I go so fast I also feel most alive.

When I find myself, I’ve often run into myself.

My main gripe with slowness is that to be in the observable universe, or to continue staying in this very room, I must always be walking. Next to others, my walking looks more like running. I’m preoccupied with my relations to other people because I do not have the luxury of total isolation and divorce from others; my choice is to live a life in deep devotion to the communities that have brought me to where I am—that taught me the language, and my lived reality is that I am literally geographically bound and physically restrained based on systems not my own. Next to others, my slowness looks like slowness but is fatiguing me deeply—simply because our paces are different. I forgive myself not just for my tire but for the conditions the world has put me under to even continue being in this space—continuously working, mending, attending, to continue having what I have. In many cases, staying still often looks like walking. To many historically marginalized people, walking often looks like running.

Less ambiguously, I’m living with the realization that there is no quick victory to the life path I have. It’s been no secret that to get to where others are, I’ve had to do things at an inhuman pace often unkind to me; I knew this since I was seventeen years old, thinking of getting out of my country. What I didn’t know was that this put me on a path that I couldn’t quickly get out of, tethered to so many worlds old and new, indebted to many others and to myself by choice. What I didn’t know was that I would feel soulfully incompatible with most people no matter what intersecting hobbies or beliefs we had because of the sheer magnitude of effort needed to get there that often underscored every interaction, let alone with how few people were interested in knowing this. What I didn’t know was that I would be mispronouncing every other word in conversation with people who laugh and then ask me for how I get to where I am in life, or who have to see the fruits of this running to even want to attend. That I would still be teaching kids who pay full tuition at an Ivy League school—when all I wanted to do was to take this precious time back to people who could use a computer to take their family out of poverty, not just multiply their already six figure spending. I learned to play the game so well that not only do people ask me why my English is so good—they ask me what part of California I’m from. That I would have to think more seriously about my time, what routes I am laying for people, and who I want this journey to be retraceable for. That everyone’s time is precious, and I don’t even know how many years I’ll have in this country, and I don’t even have anybody in this country. What I didn’t know was that this was the beginning of running for a lifetime.

I’m exhausted by the idea that it is only in slowness and stillness that you can pay attention to the world. While deep resonance and perception has helped me become interested in the development of ambiences and ecosystems, more precisely the environments in which we all be, I am more interested in how the constant construction of these worlds and the paving of paths to even begin running on make you the deepest attendant to everything around you. The extracted quarries and the jagged stones are mine. I show pictures of the place where I grew up, sometimes the most mundane roads in my country, and others ask me if they’re really real. What deeper inhabiting can I do when something has come out of myself, and in return I can run with familiarity. I go deep into motion because I sense everything around me, because I have made them. I get sick reciting anecdotes because sometimes it feels less like universalities that others can respond to and more like snippets of entertainment. I am comfortable not stopping because I know where I might be heading. I don’t stay still because stillness in a world that keeps taking looks like running. When I’m running and most embodied, everything is inhabiting me.

I can go slow to you when I’m running and it’s not beautiful. I am seeing the same world dancing and I myself am there too. I am in motion to see what you see. When my ancestors went slow there was something still brutal in their conditions. Slowness is a gift that we hand off to the people of the next generation, and more tangibly the very people around us. We carry burdens for one another to let the road be lighter, we pave paths for each other as an act of I love you. Instead of erasing the need to be in motion, we can simply attend to that need and look closely at how the treading looks for one another. We dream of journeys that are kinder to the ones we love. We trust that it the human desire to be alive often comes with some form of moving; that to see the skies we still need to look up, and to connect to nature we must allow ourselves to eat, and that there is no one who doesn’t want slowness—the question is in the world that we have designed for them that allows them to even be presently still.

All this to say that when it looks like slowness or ease, it took a forever to get here. There’s privilege that I manufacture for myself (if I can even call it that, from nothing); the effort behind the pace in which I go something I’m spending my life finetuning.

This standard of obscuring labor and effort that permeates our everyday accompanied with the performative indulgence and praise of ‘stillness’ is only breeding more inequity & social resentment rather than tackling the roots of why we all cannot just rest. Even moving beyond the commodification of rest as bubble baths and lit candles, I think for instance: the access to nature and the oceans become a far privilege for the urban population of Manila, many of whom actually immigrants from the provinces where this rural environment was once their norm—abandoning these environments to better meet needs because there is more to life that we want to picture and give. While we can fantasize that the next generation might realize that all they want is to return to this quiet stillness, the frequent reality is that unlike many American brands of lifestyle inflation and downsizing into the woods—we worked to rid ourselves of a complacency masked as stillness because our fundamental needs deprived us, because we wanted to continue seeing alternative realities. When I say that life could’ve been easy: I didn’t have to move here, I discount all that I learned and all that my privilege can now bring me back home—and most of all, the perspectives I’ve developed from my dwelling, no matter the suffering, that have given me the capacity to pave more paths for those. I want it easier for the next. I want the option to dream to be present until there is nothing more that we long for. Underneath the dinner parties that are quiet displays of wealth and ‘if you know, you know’ signals or signals that you have the very luxury of living near the people you love—or the privileged aestheticizing their participation in activities & spaces more for the commons, like pop stars posing next to tricycles. These now pose as tiny mockeries for what are now impossibilities for other people, or an obscene way of relating when these moments are staged & your lived truth is far more comfortable. I consider how all my friends and loved ones all separated from each other because the environment in which we could live together was hostile and cruel, and when we were together it was always just reinventing it until finding alternatives was a necessary. I talk about this state of rest in so many senses: not just the obvious anti-capitalist attitude towards work, but the ways we perform being and attend to each other, and mostly the acts of dissolution and dissonance that aid to us better educating ourselves and seeing alternative imaginaries.

For many people, the best life that all these platitudes towards rest point towards is only possible because we are working towards it. Indeed, if we look at slowness as a state of contentment and being—then we should consider what it means for different bodies to even be idle. Our roads are all differently carved, and the desire for maintenance or rest cannot be simplified. Oftentimes the true ‘action’ of stopping writes people out of histories, discards their needs, placates them in the negligence of the present. I feel angry, excluded—when we forget that ‘stillness’ for some people means being forgotten, when the state of our ‘stillness’ is one where we must be in motion, because the same actions towards ‘stillness’ would place you comfortably in your place, while mine would put me in oppressive, hostile environments. I want my nothingness to be violent, but when I am nothing the world is violent to me. I want us to trust in rest as a future that we can share in; more than my inability to rest as a signal that I’ve failed or succumbed to a system—when there has been nothing done to help me escape the very system that takes the form of rest away from me. I want to know that this is a failing of the world and not of own.
I think about how even thinking about myself is a privilege when I sometimes go so hungry that I can’t feel anything the way I’ve ignore my body—so much until I can’t feel hunger anymore. I think about how I’ve abstracted beauty into the process because it is the truest promise that I can give myself. I think about how I can only name this frustration today because of everything that has taught myself it: from the spaces that have carved me, the people who have impressed on me, and the body that craved a true understanding. I want people to be open about how we are trying as hard as we can, actually, and to empathize in the labor of that trying rather than dictate how hard we should each try. It sometimes takes so much effort to look up and simply see the sky.

I can’t imagine how much more difficult this is for people who are less able than me, and for all those who lack the small privileges I had to get to where I am. I know we are all exhausted. I know that no matter how tired we are, we can still continue to carry the world for others—the simple human act of making this existence lighter, more worth it, worth seeing.

When I want to be still with you I am running. Let me do this because I want to be with you. Instead of telling me to stop, tell me how I can run better. Tell me what’s ahead.

I get that thing about knowing people: it feels like a shortcut. I don’t think about this solely in terms of the cursory ‘connections’ talk, but it might be the most familiar way to measure it. I think about this emotionally: I build this future for other people more than myself, I keep treading best when I know that if I were ever to falter I would not stop—that someone else will help carry me along the way. We can do so much for each other. Just as we live in a world where we can give the next generation the gift of taking it a bit more slowly. Just as this journey doesn’t have to be for our own self.

I want the picturesque rest, don’t get me wrong. I want to listen deeply every day and never think about capital, name the flowers around me, and indulge in myself and reap all I have become. I want the coffee shops and the woods and the retreat from everything and to have the time to pray, if prayer was a thing for me. But I am always becoming myself and I am always laboring to get there. And there is so much of this world that I cannot see if I am not moving towards it—because nothing has been given to me, and even the act of naming is entwined with becoming and the naming is a privilege that I am still giving to myself against a complacency of exploitation, repression, hostility. I see all the beauty around me, of what I can name and am still learning to name, and still these moments make me think about how much more there is to do when others do not have the privilege of moving at my pace from the violent ground that took them. When I talk about getting somewhere with you I’m mostly talking about how so many others can’t even get to where I am.

What are the answers here? To rewire a world where someone else can walk slowly; to acknowledge the pace in which others are going more conscientiously, more interest in histories & paths than pure outcomes to truly know a story; to realize that how we name what we live in is a futile act if we are not seeing wholly, if we do not know who made it or what it is here for. Oftentimes, the clearer answer is to be okay with not climbing nor maintaining pace, even, to rewind and fall back to one more manageable—but what if that isn’t an option? What if I trust that the world is something I continuously make—and risk it without that participation. I’m not interested in you meeting my pace or experiencing its very beginning: we run because we want a better world, and empathy doesn’t come in unnecessary suffering—what if sharing in the struggle was rooted in a tangible optimism instead?

What if my desire is precious because I was born into a world that wouldn’t even allow it for me? And what if you chose to honor it instead of looking at it as self-inflicted wound? What if these desires were born out of necessity as I was born into a world that was designed to turn and leave me and my people behind? What if all the selves I want to become and all the paths I take constantly have me colliding while the spiritualists and the privileged mangled the only way I’ve ever known to carve my sense of identity and save myself, deeming it as a failure. What if we recognized desire was inseparable from being, and instead of marking a place to stop, we can more radically realize that we can always want better for one another.

Or another alternative: to continue building towards a place where we can finally go and rest. To trust that my investment in systems and in people will eventually carry me and let me not have to leave behind a life—instead welcoming me in so that I can finally count the breaths I take. We pay attention to each other as we do the path, in hopes of not only meeting each other at the end — but walking alongside each other. When it comes to it I’ll show you who I have become.

Perhaps my ancestors’ wildest dream was to stop dreaming.

ambient radio test

Reading Time: 2 minutes

hi! today i ran a little test for my ambient radio idea. brought my micro audio interface and clippy mics to a coffee shop, found a corner, and am typing away..

this is also the first time that i pushed the updates onto chia.audio

to expand:

  • perhaps the ambient radio concept can be in its own space, with many ambient radio recordists. i would like this to be a way for me to hear my other friends, and for their friends to hear them. perhaps we can form an ambient radio collective and take turns broadcasting.. if you want to do this with me, let me know!
  • i’m currently using https://www.radiomast.io/ to host the icecast stream, using ladiocast for broadcasting. i’m too lazy to set up a vps, but if i weren’t, i would use azuracast. might do this soon since it’s so easy to set it up on a digitalocean droplet (but i have to pay right away and radiomast has a 2 week free trial) — if anyone is curious about current infrastructure


Four Questions

Reading Time: 13 minutes

TW: Discussions of past self-harm, graphic descriptions of (religious!) violence

Over the past months, I’ve been grappling with a few simple questions:

1. What role do I take on as an author vs as a toolsmaker?
2. Who decides what stories are worth telling?
3. How do you talk about your day? or How do you tell a story?
4. Do I need grief to function?

(Apologies for the abundance of tweet embeds as of late; I’ve been dumping random thoughts there and returning to see how people respond / how I develop it afterwards. Hopefully I don’t have another identity crisis/massive revert back to using my real name in-username that triggers some massive link rot.)

This was sort of inspired by something I made late last year, a yes/no question simulator. Try it out: chia.design/everyday-i-believe 

4. Do I need grief to function?

I have a weird relationship to pleasure. This is my way of lightly saying that it was rather unhealthy and fucked up.

Somewhere in between Catholicism and having to adhere to strict routines, I had adopted the mindset that every time I experience joy there must be suffering attached to it that I must be deeply aware of––or even inflict upon myself. It started with simple things: finish the food on your plate because there are kids out there who are starving. (This is made more tangible because of where I grow up, where ribs stick out on the streets and privilege, like in older days, is marked by how much fat is on your body.) Later on, I would barter time for play with time for work; time to go outside for homework; ability to go out for a birthday if I stayed silent for an entire holiday; until I had no more desire to step outside of my house but stare at a screen and absolve myself of this unerasable debt that I had somehow accrued from merely living.

Joy was taught to always come at someone’s expense. It started out as intangible others, and then the people around me who will soon die and then give me a million regrets to carry (for years I was incredibly afraid of death, and then embraced it myself), and then myself. Somewhere between teenhood and the future, I had come to believe that anytime something good happens to me, there must be something incredibly horrifying on the way. If I had accomplished something, it would be routine for me to hurt myself. Yes, the reason sometimes was that I thought I could do better and that the physical sensation could propel me to it, in the way that electric shock and interrogation supposedly worked from how I gleamed it on the television. Sometimes it was just that there was this spiritual, universal balance that required my pain for every accomplishment. Simply that it was routine. I cried when I graduated as high school valedictorian, out of grief and anger and a feeling that there was nothing to come, and I remember no words that I spoke on stage. I remember doing something terrible to myself that night.

Then there is also the actor Jesus. We never concretely studied the Bible past the second grade aside from memorizing facts about saints that I could still recite to you today––but I remember off days where they would play to us The Passion of Christ––its agonizingly long, torturous scenes of whipping and bleeding that had then imbued me as a sign of perfect pleasure and beauty. My grandmother used to share those posts on Facebook that would depict the ‘physical suffering of Jesus‘ in the form of illustrated diagrams or Now This-like video explainers.
The story of the saints that were recounted to me, after psychological abuse, would be physical. I heard about the first Filipino protomartyr Lorenzo Ruiz when I was breathing in & out so deeply that I couldn’t see straight. Lorenzo was running from Japanese soldiers that were persecuting Filipino Christians. Lorenzo was tortured and was told to renounce his Christianity but never did. Lorenzo was hung upside-down over a pit, and with the aid of medical knowledge, the extremes of what happens when the human body is suspended and bound over two days until its passing were also told to me when I was just in middle school. His narrative meant to say “this suffering is nothing compared to the suffering he felt”, and what I realized years later was also by extension, “this suffering I’m giving you is nothing compared to the suffering I felt.” I know so many people venerated because of how they died, and so little of the actual lives they lived. Children enter the chorus of heaven. Sacrifice, innocence, youth. Later, this makes me pray and wish that my life is short and fleeting.

All this to say that I don’t remember a time in my youth where I did things that weren’t providing an explicit ‘gathering space’ or ‘service’ for others; few things that were my own without utility expected. I never knew how to do nothing with people. So when I share moments of silence, quiet, and non-expectation with others where my mere presence is all necessary––it is the most precious and intimate thing to me.

3. How do you talk about your day? or How do you tell a story?

As a joke, and perhaps to hide the power that comes with it, I attribute my typing speed (which can sprint to ~180WPM and averages around ~150WPM) to fights on League of Legends chat and ancient forums. Realistically, it also comes from a need to be the first to say something –– otherwise I will never be heard.

This doesn’t translate very well to real life, as you might imagine. I’ve been waxing about how the loss of seemingly mundane, routine conversations like this in my youth has brought up a me that never know what to say. Does someone want a surface level “good, and you?” or do I actually spill about whatever thing is interesting to me? How much do I withhold out of fear of being ‘too much’?

Maybe that’s why I prefer writing out abstract recaps of my life, turning them into little vignettes. Taking piano lessons at age sixteen and writing as if it’s the most grand act of all time, facing weird relationships to housing and the descents and spirals that come with the uncertainty of a roof for the first time, a portrait of love I feel today that will transform itself tomorrow. Why I adore slow movies where nothing really happens: the pretentious kind of Frances Ha flicks that romanticize the lives of confused feminines in their 20s who still have nothing to say at the very end. I want these little things to be glorified. I want the mundanity of my everyday to be heard somehow, since I have no one else to witness it but me––because mundanity is tenderly temporal and sacred in its own sense. Nothing in this world is uninteresting.

Right now, I ‘talk about my day’ in this semi-public internet diary. I wonder if people today would call it ‘performance’ when it’s all I’ve ever known. It stays as a blog because I like how unprescribed it is and hate taking up space in people’s inboxes; knowing who follows me and the visibility of it. I would love to be completely transparent but also rarely digested––maybe this is what pulls me in as a creator, almost. Things for no one but myself or targeted messages to friends. I used to not understand why someone who makes something beautiful could be scared of the attention and fame, deleting things and pulling away the moment they receive the hit of virality that others spend their entire careers searching for. Now I get that.

The issue is that I still rely on myself sitting down and writing to process anything. Whenever I have space to just ‘think’ blankly, like on walks when my phone runs out of battery and there’s nothing else to fall back on (I can’t even just shower, I need to hear something), I default to what I should make out of this experience, or what I have to do next. I don’t think I default to how I actively feel or think about regular life events that happened. I must sit down and write to begin unraveling myself. If you asked me a question in-person about my intentions or latest experiences, I wouldn’t be able to answer very well or I would come up with some bullshit that I think sounds more normal than whatever I’d actually been doing. I think everything is interesting but everything I experience is the most dreadful thing ever. I fawn over the newfound love for ‘when someone gets so excited and passionate when talking about something they love’ but then can’t see myself really doing that well because I think I’m about to go on a very dreadful, painful ramble. Have I ever been comfortable enough with anyone but myself to be real about what I like and how I’ve been? Maybe I need to figure that need for security out before I start rehearsing how to say the same thing over and over to entertain. Though, I don’t know if I want to entertain either––I just want to literally be able to think about what I’ve been doing and what I like without jotting it all out on a piece of paper beforehand. I’m 21 and it’s embarrassing that this feels like the most impossible thing.

I lie compulsively when explaining my day. I am authentic with everything else.

2. Who decides what stories are worth telling?

Maybe part of why I make is because it’s the only way I know how to transform narratives that I believe deserve attention. Alone, especially if spoken through my mouth, they stand frail and untempting against everything else that competes to be noticed.


Been thinking a lot about biographies and the optimistic belief that everyone deserves one. I get most upset about my unhealthy/unstable relationships with family back home for many reasons––one of them being because they’re the best carriers of life back then in Manila: the EDSA Revolution, shifting relationships on class and materiality, hospitality and desire, growing and rotting in urbanization. No matter how many books I read or interviews I cry through, it doesn’t feel the same as what I might imagine hearing the stories told personally would be like. This is contradictory even, because having personal stake with someone would give them more reasons to lie than some random actor recounting their experiences. But it also gives me more context, without the numbers and metrics and the atrocities of the Marcos regime with hundreds of my people left to be known by a 10-point rating of how much they suffered, because I know their life outside the context of this terrible thing that may be a part of them and how they lived but never will be all of them. I know the rest of them, as distant and estranged; I have a better picture of it. And then I know how these pieces and places and happenings make a person, a life.
It would be a dream to sift through dozens of essays and messy retellings about what ‘ordinariness’ looked like then. And then I want to see how they lived.

Gauging ‘Notability‘ was a weird thing for me when I started to edit Wikipedia. (There was also a time in my teenage years where I said that it was my goal to have a Wikipedia page by the time I hit age 20, a goal I did not obviously accomplish––a goal that I set for myself because of a weird desire to be seen and in the same sphere as ‘social activist influencers’ who sell period products and general anti-war truisms to get famous.) Not saying that I think this online resource needs to be inundated with repetitive histories that have led to predictable results (my being)––obviously that should exist in some separate form. It’s one of those necessary, uncomfortable concepts. I suppose this is the point of Everipedia, which I also now conveniently learn is somehow blockchain-powered.

Anyway, example: It’s my worst fear to be one of those people who are only noteworthy in relation to an event. If I were killed in some freak accident today, I definitely wouldn’t be notable enough to have my own Wikipedia page. I will get a fine paragraph about where I was born and raised (which matters a lot to me), perhaps it will mention the professions of my parents, the schools I went to (which do not matter to me at all), and all the potential I had. And then they will talk about how the body was found. I think about all the children who have even yet to live a life, get a nice college name in the article about their killing. Perhaps the absence of one is enough to say they were loved but not enough, and the world was greater deprived of the love they had yet to give.

I like Wikipedia’s advice about writing biographies for people, though. It’s an interesting read. I think archiving both objective and non-objective (presenting how many people retell their relationships with X instesad of extrapolating some objective timeline, which would forever miss some of the most important bits of how they loved and were loved––and thusly how they lived) histories is an exciting and worthwhile thing, and I’m thinking about the best way to mend the two. The presentation of yourself as you’ve lived, the way other people have known about you, the objective facts and numbers. Everything.

Pulled apart from performance and So many acquaintances and friends have died over the past few years. Death has come so early and consistently that I don’t even fear it anymore.
It feels weak and cheap when I still can’t stomach looking through their profiles, seeing how quickly the language has shifted around them, even if it’s one of the best representations of how they felt and thought (assuming it’s like, a personal account and they’re authentic there and whatever). I think those memories of them need to be untouched.


Another means of storytelling is curation and archival, preservation as memorymaking. Thinking about how we tell stories not only as the we want to share them first, but in how they they’re passed for the centuries to come.

On the last thought–its something that I’ve never really thought about until I saw firsthand whom of my friends were going to be remembered. They have lived through too much to only be recalled as a prayer. As something yet to be realized. They were.

I’ve been writing a lot about how I am driven to create and how it becomes my own act of self-preservation. It’s far from my primary motive in making, but as my days began blurring together I came to be grateful for it. One of the most wonderful byproducts of the act. Putting things into this world––the more tangible and reaching (in depth more than audience) in its lifespan the more certain––I come to place myself in history.

And then I like to make tools that make it easier for other people to do this for themselves, and the spaces that drive people to do so. Amplification. Curation is also amplification: I send my friends links that scream ‘you’ and someone’s work suddenly exists between a new shared language that the creator is mostly unaware of. We become each other’s influences’ influences and then become better selves. I curate the stories and parts of myself that I tell to my friends, oftentimes badly, thinking there are select parts of myself that they might enjoy digesting the most. Then the retaliation from the people who truly love me: they want to know it––especially the things that I fear might drive them away from me or even resent me. They find it and if it is truly love, still find it wonderful.

Everything comes back to me. Much of my enjoyment, no––much of my ability to live within this world is because someone intentionally made a decision to plant something that would persist. When I was in middle school, I used to find it unbelievable that trees took thirty years to grow. Why do it when you have to wait so long? Why do so many people do it when they’d no longer be in that place, let alone be on this world? I didn’t fully understand the concept of how something can live on in another thing until someone close to me died. Then I started planting trees too.

Even outside of personal attachments, I think about the lists and articles and publications I comb through daily and the desks and stories and jaded writers that make one of my ways of learning of the world possible. But I fear for memorymaking in anything incentivized by profit, especially if it’s necessary to its survival. These things, I often feel, live unfaithfully to itself. At least admit that the truth you believe should be told comes from no place human.

Maybe this is why I like the early web. Small circles of curated exchange that weren’t hard to break into, people putting anything around, the typicality of RSS feeds. I wonder if it’s silly to Archive.org your own site. I don’t think anyone else is going to do it for me, so I might as well…

1. What role do I take on as an author vs as a toolsmaker?

In this one I wonder how many times I can write for myself, or whether I should just stick to providing a service for others.

Michael Rock essays changed me at the beginning of my undergraduate education, but I also don’t know how much I consciously thought about what designing and art meant to me aside from the fact that I wanted to do so much of it and did. (I still think about how prolific I was when I was a teenager. Strangely, it was my least visible work but I was so, so focused. I have 100+ blog posts that I’ve never publicized from then, each one 3000–15000 incoherent words.)

Designer as Author of course, correctly spoke to the ancient dilemma that I was experiencing: insecurity in design compared to art or writing because of no ‘origination’ and ‘agency’ in process. It became abundantly clear as I started making more and more things that the vessel in which something presents itself is perhaps the most urgent thing about it, even if it’s not necessarily the substance in truest form. But as much as I hate it, this is still a way of passing truth. So I started thinking harder about form and design as this vehicle for communication and expression, more challenging than art. But only imaginary constraints really ever stave off the desire to integrate art and words into design anyway, so I use them all.

I don’t think I have too much of a problem with creation as I thought. I create the world I want to live in and am living in it. I put out things as I wish (cool), never paying attention to my ‘audience’ and what more they want (questionable?). I learn to hate the reduction of ‘whim’ into ‘performance’. In my adulthood I go more days without speaking to anyone than otherwise, I’m pretty sure. From this, I gathered that I need little certainty from people other than myself. Some days creating becomes unfathomably difficult. Some days I treat it like a quota, but at the end of the day it resolves itself as just one of the millions of ways I measure myself and plant numbers in my head. One thing against the millions of other things I have produced, bodies of work established to myself yet ever-evolving that reflect evergreen beliefs and hopes. Sometimes I translate. Sometimes I gather. Sometimes I perform. Sometimes I make. Many times it is all of this at once.

Making tools is creation. I’m having a ridiculous time (positive) with my thesis and enjoying it more than I had thought I could. Tonight I called with my advisor for an hour and thought about the most absurd and arbitrary ways a tool can be anti-user friendly and draw heavily from my artistic arsenal while still ultimately being software that people create their own things from. This is a fancy way of saying: I’m making a game maker that is terrible on purpose. All my bad decisions are decisions. I am breaking every rule (and many rules around tools I’m aware of) but also, not really. What we’re doing is thinking about features, language, and tiny interaction details made with seemingly nonsensical decisions for the sake of chaos––but also, it really works. Things I want to do ‘for fun’ still come from desire; play and joy are hugely undervalued. Warioware and Resetti screaming at you suddenly make so much sense now. Bitching and nicheposting as my sense of humor is affirmed, albeit a bit toxically. I frustrate myself and someone else joins it with me. Design discourse has already evolved to ‘no defaults exist; neutrality is a fraud’ since forever, so I don’t know why it’s difficult to think that the process of embedding ‘delight’ into things isn’t a form of authorship itself. Translation. Direction. Even if it’s a shitty splash of confetti after submitting a Canvas assignment.

Making spaces is creation. I don’t know how many times I have to elaborate on this. All my life I want to gather people and see what comes of it.
Lately, I’ve been wondering why I’m most comfortable generally detached from the spaces and things I put out-–an observer. Moreso if I’m forgotten. Moreso how I have never wanted to attach my name to ‘larger’ things. I don’t have a perfect answer yet (or one that I can try to windingly articulate, which is what I do a lot on this blog), but perhaps it has something to do with even distance being a part of the process.

I have no doubt that I can live the rest of my life doing both. I don’t know how significant the ‘role’ I take on is, or what exactly it looks like, but I know I must play it.