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.
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
- TEXT PEOPLE BACK PLEASE CHIA
- 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
- November 10, 2021: thought i had to be glorious when all i needed to be was present
- 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!
- 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:
- Poem: The Third Hour of the Night by Frank Bidart
- Game: Lieve Oma by Florian Veltman
- Movie: Shine (1996) directed by Scott Hicks
- Performance: Velour 100 at Cornerstone 2000 for a full one, or Animal Collective performing Did You See The Words? at the Wiltern in 2013
- Anime (Movie): The Case of Hana & Alice (2015) directed by Shunji Iwai
- Short read: What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun? by David Graeber
- Short film: Bardo (2019) directed by Maxime Lauret
- Book: When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut
- On my home: The Miseducation of the Filipino by Prof. Renato Constantino