Tag: love

My love, extant as a distant image

Reading Time: 8 minutes
sorry, i enjoyed the french dispatch & this moved me enough to write it over and over and over on my notes app as i heard it

I realized lately that I’ve long been a solitary person and that I should let myself be.

Not saying that as a child I wasn’t bubbly and beaming and excitable about everything––I was the brightest, loudest thing––and now that radiance is silent, scattered, and I’d like to believe, reaches the world far further than my voice could. That is, I’m learning that my form of love is best cultivated with distance.

Over the past year, I’ve been trying to detach myself from preconceptions about how distance alone creates loneliness, or that solitude means loneliness, or that love needs to be virtuously signaled in our faces. Like many burdens 21-year-olds face, none of these are particularly new and I bear no revelatory insights; it stands as one of those many things about life I felt like I had to experience to even begin getting, previously some aphorism I just half-heartedly agreed with.

Love, distant because I grew up in solitary bedrooms trying to name myself each day. I still hold a grudge for the way I lived in my bedroom in Manila, but I don’t know how else I would have turned out. Solitude cultivated the creation in me, an acute keenness to listen to the world and fill in the gaps for myself. I was and still am obsessive with creating artifacts and platforms that had no audience but myself –– never really asking anyone to read the draft (if I even bother to make one) or check something for me. All I desired, I did my best to bring into existence for myself.
Solitariness still makes people feel gravely uncomfortable. I find it mildly exhausting that “go watch a movie by yourself” or “go sit at a restaurant alone!” function as mindblowing affirmations. I used to feel awkward when eating out alone in the Philippines because of how tied to people accessing food out is (or, the fact that ‘going out’ means ‘you need money to go grab a meal since there’s nothing else to do but roam around a mall’) and think I look more depressing than cool&sexy&mysterious when smoking alone outside shows.

Spending the past month alone in a time when everyone is reuniting has been weirdly comforting. I’m more detached from the world but also more involved. I have less expectations, know no one owes me anything, and treasure every tiny thing with a new sense of grandeur. I listened quietly. My true wonder is expressed in silence. My most sincere expression of awe one held with peace.
I wake up to alarms twice a day and challenge myself to take care of myself. Take walks around a freezing town. Swap between two chairs and my couch. Listening to a frightening amount of ambient music, like a teenage boy discovering Robert Fripp and Burial for the first time. I listen especially carefully when there are my favorite sounds: a distant river where you can almost feel where the stones find the water rushing in laps around them, some chorus of cicadas, the sound of a child laughing. Become familiar with everything material I own, now crammed in this apartment, wonder what next new thing I can bring into this world. Learning more about the pace that I thrive in, giving my physical body attention attention, etc.
An image of myself where the heart is whole but I get the distance I need. I love myself and everything is clearer.

Love, in solitude and small doses because I barely know how to make space for my body in my head. I went on a drive with someone from college a few days before Christmas, my second time experiencing the holiday completely alone, and when they asked me who my friends are I said, “people very far away, who I don’t see face-to-face often.” At first that sounded really depressing! And then I decided it wasn’t. I know how to articulate and express my love better now that I’m farther. When I saw these same people every single day, with the exact same schedule, I was thinking that routine and physical presence must have served as the strongest declaration of knowing each other, but it was more ruthless and tiring than meaningful. I still do declare that love was routine and consistency, and with that the intentionality of distance as part of that –– I didn’t have that boundary back then, but do now.

I think it’s weird and inorganic to measure relationships by how frequently you talk or see one another. Quality > quantity basicss––but quantity can help to measure consistency and sincerity, sure. (That is, if you want to attempt at relationships where you can’t even gauge sincerity/intention as acted in the best of faith.) Mostly, I also realized how much I suck at building several relationships at a time and don’t really desire the bloat of barely knowing hundreds of people. I can barely maintain 2-3 conversations at a time (over text), most days can’t at all––it’s literally terrible of me. I will send back snail mail correspondences (taking form in the internet age as the conversations where we send paragraphs every day or so), always have the space to send “made me think of yous”, and come unrestrained, ecstatic news as seamless as the last time I saw them.
Another reading is that this made me realize how terrible I am at meeting-to-pursue-something-intentionally-lasting-til-the-end-of-our-lives if not occurring organically. Saw a TikTok about how people on dating apps are just ‘some dude’, or on distance of anything more than a mile, mostly people you would never have encountered otherwise. That would be a magical thing to have at our hands if we didn’t treat people as disposable. But from the very first encounter with these platforms, that seems to be part of the appeal: to have power in choice, selection, be granted attention from all directions with little regards to intent––and I found myself suddenly disgusted at participating in that kind of positioning of people. Revealing myself and the basics over me is another bad part; I forget what I’ve told people even if I love learning about them and become a mess at offering myself in return. I can’t know someone briefly. I have to know them entirely. I could fall in love with anyone if I get to the point of truly knowing them––but do we ever reach that part with people in our lifetime?

This is all me being very lame and beginning to realize my relationship with modern expectations surrounding intimacy. (Nice try writing this Chia, you still get no pussy, etc etc.) But I feel like so much of this underlying pressure to define my relationship to love has also been because of a deeprooted detachment to queer identity/experience. I don’t think human beings were meant to only love one person, but there’s little to no circumstances where I can see myself even exploring the possibility of N people without deception / with the full attention given that I want to provide to a human being at the very baseline level of interacting with them. The capacity to know is limited, but the desire to love is boundless––is that possible?

Maybe that’s also why I’m very hesitant to open myself up to any potential interactions in the first place. My inbox, my taking forever to reply, creating this cursed loop where it’s now weird and disingenuous to get back (again, I need to work on this)––I think you deserve my full thought / intent, I’m not capable of doing that on a whim for people who graciously reach out/interact with my work. Everything said to me I take in, over and over and over.
But the world isn’t designed for this kind of depth, I think. It’s about making as many connections as possible and getting what you need out of people, which has really fucked up my relationship with myself and people. (Here I reveal the guilt I have when asking my friends for anything in their area of expertise, even if everything we discuss is outside that area.) At the same time, there’s immense pressure towards immediacy without intimacy. Why someone revealing their deepest desires or traumas quickly, in a forced manner without the buildup, is a poor binding / manipulative tactic at worst. There’s no optimizing relationships, there’s no real way to expedite trust. Distance is such a critical part of how I come to know: I want to know how you are far away from me, how we grow when physically apart, and what we become together––this is the best measure I have right now of the love between people, what we make of each other and how we know each other and desire to become something more for when we return even if we’re not actively there.

The internet has given me an unhealthy relationship with this part of knowing/revealing: being able to genuinely present the mashup of thoughts and interests and beliefs I hold has been a gift and how I have ‘lived’ and evolved my own identity and understanding of the world for as long as I can remember, but it also removes a dozen stages of back-and-forth that need to happen in some form. It feels weird reading cues & nuances when surrounded in an institution where people treat people disposably more frequently than not––life has been a lot better since I stopped forcing these interactions and started leaning in on people with a modicum of effort. (There’s also probably trauma somewhere here: where I haven’t felt heard, or have felt deceived for most of my life so have little ability to get if someone actually wants to know know me or the surface level part.)

To hold infinite capacity for love doesn’t mean I have to hand it out negligently; I understand that I’ll forever have this strong desire for reciprocation, and that desire can only exist inside me safely if I know how cautious and intentional I have to be with it.

Time isn’t scarce at all. It feels like my attention has been thinned over a decade and I’m suddenly realizing how much of myself I can gift when I can be fully embodied. When focused, it feels like I can truly give to the world.

Every false thing I’ve heard about the human universal for affection or the need for space is rewound. I provide the better world when I can properly integrate distance between me. I know language between people is only understood if developed over time. I feel immensely vulnerable still whenever I admit that some great life experience, some substance, some event––I did first, or a dozen times over, alone… but why should I ever think of it in a bad way? I can now be the one to hold my friends through this. I learn to comfort people and walk them through experiences as kindly as I did to myself.

It feels like I’m rebuilding a relationship with myself, accepting the state of who I’ve always been and who I likely always will be. I would like to get married and spend many mornings enjoying the quiet presence of someone; have space of my own so that I may always bring back new parts of myself that I’ve discovered. I want to be touched in ways that carry meaning, receive affection that sees me and responds to me. I understand now the weight of love, its impression and the true magic when you don’t even need to say it.

Lately I’ve been reading about those deaths that have gone unnoticed for years. It’s deeply tragic. The body is unrecognizable and becomes a scary news story
I’ve decided that my loved ones do not need to be at the deathbed, they just need to know that I was dying. That’s the common link between some of these stories, I think. They knew someone was troubled but had no idea what was going on; love in form is breaking through that and understanding. People still die understudied despite being under the constant presence of others. Distance holds new meaning. Presence does not only mean proximity.

Maybe one day I’ll even like the sound of my own voice.


Reading Time: 9 minutes

The most successful year of my life career-wise, the most tumultuous one personally, and what I want to do the year ahead. Hope this gives some sense of transparency as I approach this next (scary!) phase of my life as I end my time in college, start thinking about my years in America, and what I will make of it all.

I also recently published some entries on my relationship to creation and identity + my personal history with worldmaking, if you’d like to peruse.

Things that were nice

  • moved into my first apartment: after a stressful housing crisis in 2020 where i was nearly homeless and didn’t know where to go in america, signed my first ever lease & moved into my own apartment for the first time! i cook every meal (i’ve only gotten takeout once in the past month) and have so many red flags and i rot here gloriously
    • i wrote this in the beginning of 2021: “My tiny dreams today mostly have me wondering about when I will find a room of my own.”
    • i’ll be spending the summer in new haven (and happy to make frequent trips to nyc to visit friends!) and have been thinking about how much i love this place. it’s strange processing the finale of a place you’ll only live in your life once (unless..?). i’ve been going on two hour walks way more, stepping out of the dreaded college bubble, etc. insane stuff
    • wayfair accidentally sent me two pink couches so i have an extra pink couch and it is still in a box in my kitchen. please buy it from me
  • interned at a dream company, learned about life & audio: interned at spotify, a dream company of mine (and had the privilege of receiving this offer to be able to turn down work at facebook — a company i couldn’t find myself ethically aligning with); worked under such wonderful managers who most valuably instilled important ways of working / work-life balance habits to my practice. being immersed in a household name for audio also solidified my love for the space.
  • accepted a new grad offer: received & accepted an offer for a full-time (dream !) job with figma that i’ll start working in aug 2022 🌸 working on a problem space that i am genuinely thrilled and moved by, in alignment with what i want to do with my life (empower other people to create). i’ll be moving to sf around august 2022! 😱
  • made things i’m proud of: all outside of work, for myself and friends.
  • i feel like i’m known by someone: and it’s been a long time since i’ve felt this
  • lots of speaking engagements, including asia’s largest ux conference: got to speak about radical & speculative design, community building, etc. to thousands of people from all over. at ux+ in particular, i was the only student and had to remind the organizers to make sure that people knew i was just an intern :’) i often forget that i even did these, but feel incredibly lucky !
  • launched the biggest genshin impact lore community: i almost forgot to list this even if it’s huge… was very into genshin impact’s story last december 2020, so i bought khaenriah.com, wrote a deranged 10,000 word character analysis before the character was even released and only had voicelines available, and propelled my work into a 4500+ member discord community / 15k follower twitter account with lovely people ive met from all over the world. we did a lot of streams, pissed off a lot of people, helped a thousandfold more, and yeah!!! sometimes i get hyperfixated on something and it works out really well. actually, this happens most of the time and i should give myself a bit more credit
  • shows!!: went to my first music festival in the US with a friend in the philippines i havent seen in years + a lovely online friend! been to 20+ shows, mostly with people i love which has made me ridiculously happy. up until this fall, every single show i attended in the US was something i went to alone
    • highlights: front and center of alex g and him playing my song request, screaming every song at japanese breakfast and slicing my thumb open with a white claw midway and stubbornly refusing to get it washed so had this badass bleeding hand (very cool to me, maybe more concerning than cool to you), saw vundabar alone and DANCED so much and was just beaming the whole time, hearing animal collective play the purple bottle live, a2b2 night of fire in nyc + rushing back to make it to my art thesis midway show at 9am the next morning
  • developh community, fellowships: worked with the processing foundation and QBO philippines to create some fun programming for developh. we didn’t execute as much as i would have liked, but it was wonderful to get support from these + we experimented on a lot of learning experiences, supported over a dozen new creators, and have a much clearer picture of our long-term vision
  • intentionality with inputs: even if this year wasn’t heavy on production, something that definitely changed was my relationship to what i consumed. before this year, i probably wouldn’t be able to articulate why something moved me, or wouldn’t even know what i’m inspired by outside of music & some film. not everything needs a reason for resonating, but being more critical, bringing notebooks into the theater, listing how i feel, tracking what rabbitholes i’ve dived into, etc. have helped me recall and understand why i do what i do and what i believe in. everything makes more sense; i feel like my practice is not just something i’m bsing, but something that investigates and builds upon the work of all that i love. it’s an incredible feeling, and a lot less lonely.
  • less fear in revealing my ideas/processes unto others: writing will always be the first way i process things, but it’s not sustainable & strictly operates with my own domain. it’s not particularly revelatory and kind of sad that i only learned the value in this late, but simply telling other people about my own experiences and ideas has been so cool! my foundational assumptions are challenged (thinking in first-principles is still something i contend with), i’m unlearning a lot of the ~strange~ responses that don’t reflect the true me, and i get so much love and support
  • lots of learning + making new things, a desire to make to heal myself (that worked!) propelled me to pick up a lot of new things towards the latter half of the year: got a cheap stereo mic for field recordings, picked up my first midi controllers + synths & am getting into music prod (shitty ambient), lots of playing with sonicpi, prints (lino & screenprinting!), p5.js & generative art, more websites and poetics, components + design systems + tooling for them, lots of fun prototyping and hacking away at figma for apps but also games, generative poetry,
  • back on my paracosm bullshit: dedicated a lot of free-time making maps, developing a conlang, working out timelines, writing a bible-like collection of verses, and assembling an encyclopedia for my fantasy world. highly recommend figma as a tool for it. i don’t have any central narrative in mind for it, and am more interested in releasing the book of verses / encyclopedia, and loved reading about mystery encyclopedias enshrouded in their own language like Codex Seraphinianus
  • collecting! have a few hundred audio files that i need to sort through from ~field recordings~. my discogs collection grows and hit 3-digits ! my favorite pickups this year: the pains of being pure at heart’s self-titled in pink/purple; sasami’s self-titled with a handpainted cover; the newfound interest in connecticut’s tell me about the long dark path home (repress); a signed kid dakota listen to the crows as they take flight where the record store owner had a long chat with me about how he personally knows darren –– super fucking cool!

Things to work on

  • presence & my self-isolation behavior. i’ve been terribly bad at withdrawing from friends, believing in myself as unworthy / not ‘good enough’ for opportunities (i almost turned down the interviews that led to my accepted new grad offer not because of anything reasonable, but because i just thought i wouldn’t get it at all.) i am also actually the worst texter, and you can sense the cycle of loneliness i am flinging myself in because of this
  • consistency. 1. i burnt out bad this year and have always overexerted myself, working in sprints and bursts – and this has been terrible for my mental and physical health. 2. i’ve always been most comfortable operating solo, and am constantly working to improve the ways in which i collaborate and gather with others, my communities, etc.; this means bettering my generally manic workmode and just showing up / instituting systems, processes, etc. that don’t rely on bursts of capacity/energy to work is something i should get far better at
  • identity, and a need for patience with myself (i will be spending the rest of my life finding out who i am!): suffered from the worst existential crisis from summer onwards where my mental health has never been at its lowest––felt like a terrible, self-destructive person and experienced a lot of gender & body dysphoria + unpacking a lot of my past. like anyone else, i have the rest of this lifetime to undo all the unhealthy things i’ve rationalized and have learned a lot more about how i navigate, process, and heal from breakdowns in my belief systems. at the very core, i also need to be kinder and know that it’s good that i don’t know what i am and that i could even identify what of my practices/self translated into an expression & interpretation that i wasn’t very comfortable with (e.g. being solely identified as a ‘designer’, feeling pressure from my online persona and discourse about authenticity when i’ve never known how to present as anyone but myself.)
  • class load: dropped to three classes in my senior fall (not good) and have to overload in my last semester (if i’ve showed you my seven class plan…) while balancing newfound passions and speedrunning friendships (i say this in jest, but i mean — i have so many people to meet because i’ve spent my entire college experience working and isolating)
  • of course i did not write 25,000 words a week: fell off my overly ambitious writing goal, averaging around 10k instead. a lot of pieces were written during said identity crisis and weren’t really things i was comfortable with sharing (which says a lot considering what i just published).

Things I wrote that I should think about

  • January 3, 2021: darker fuels: because i am unloveable i must commit to creating a body of work that can be loved in my stead
  • January 23, 2021: i think i will tell everyone i love that i love them more. with this act i lose nothing and gain everything
  • April 27, 2021: i wld like to make something and never have to touch it again
  • May 1, 2021: 21*2 reminders to myself for when i turned 21
  • June 23, 2021: i write and write, and think about how no language can contain the whole self
  • July 11, 2021: even the most irredeemable things are deserving of love, including me
  • September 24, 2021: realized that my being “extremely online” while shy & closed off irl is a product of believing that the internet is the best form of self-preservation i have—if i cannot count on anyone to remember me, the artifacts i leave on the internet (however ephemeral) are my compromise. so many flawed things in this, eg the artifacts i leave are out of my control, things are wiped away with ease; but growing up in an age where my entire childhood is documented on my mother’s facebook albums but never really knowing family as actual people is strange
    • in hindsight quite obvious, but it was important for me to understand this is why i operate the way i do and get it down in writing
  • November 10, 2021: thought i had to be glorious when all i needed to be was present

What I’m looking forward to

for things i’m ‘creating’ you can also see the most updated version of things i’m working on in my /now section

  • In the short-term, I have a stacked show lineup that I’m excited about as usual: Phil Elverum, Animal Collective (…twice), drain gaang, Car Seat Headrest, etcetc
  • Putting learnings into place to make Developh more participatory, sustainable, collaborative. After identifying a crucial need for more intersectional Filipino technologists and general discourse in our tech industry, there’s a lot we want to publish, teach, and gather people around––it’s time to revisit the systems we have for it, lean into openness + co-creation.
  • Getting to explore more work in muuuusic, particularly distribution/labels/publications and all that stuff :~)
  • Releasing more physical artifacts: zines, short art books, CDs, cassettes, posters, prints.
  • Launching a music blog (last semester speedrun) to talk about music, feelings, and the relationships of people within the field to poetics/visual arts/authorship.
  • Running an experimental label & press to publish and distribute things for myself and my friends––all independently. follow for incoming news, maybe
  • Being more intentional in nurturing relationships with acquaintances and making more friends, meeting a lot of the online friends I made over the past year. Making sure that the people I do love know that I love them! All the time!
  • Graduating!
  • Leaning into life in general, bettering my relationship with work & joy, letting myself feel instead of suppressing emotion constantly.

A request for you

I’d love to learn more about what drives and influences the people around me. Leave me some recommendations for things to do, watch, read, see, hear, etc. that are personally meaningful to you. I’ll get back to you after looking into them with my thoughts.

Here’s a few from me:

Impossibility as normalcy

Reading Time: 8 minutes

September 14th.

I left Manila on the 25th — not even a month in and I’m waiting for routine to kick in. Walking to Walgreens alone at 4am looking for potassium supplements, making the walk from Chapel to Hillhouse and sitting in the Department of Computer Science waiting rooms — lifechanging if anyone says hello, drinking beer cans alone in my room.

The Yale undergraduate enrollment nears 6,000 people and I feel like I know about 30 faces.