hi. it's been a while since last time. like usual. this has also been among my drafts for like a month now. like usual.
i need to write. too many thoughts whirling my mind, crowding my head. nothing seems clear, path too rowdy, as if densly covered with mud with fog with a heavy gray cloud that dims my eyesight no it’s not even that i don't know what it is but it’s all in my head;
my hands have been itching to write; itching to pour out; itching to do. itching to let go; to not think. an abundance of emotion. a reluctance of the recurrance of routine. yet an appreciation of habits, an acceptance of the repeating, the rhythm, and the recital of everyday life. only 63 days left. (lol i've been trying to get this post out in the world for 25 days. that's great. it's 38 days left now. fuk)
#1: hufflepunks and dinosaur nuggets (february 28)
ah, yule ball. high heels and fancy dresses and sparkly eyeshadows and the flashing lights from the cameras. omara, matias, iqbaal, and zohar perform the beatles and the whole dining hall becomes reminiscent of the old days; as if we were too old to not look back on when things were better; calmer. and then
yule ball- after party. theme? harry potter dorms. josefine has posted a house quiz on facebook. i end up getting hufflepuff. "of course you're a hufflepuff", says zsuzsa over my shoulder, as if it's the most natural thing in the world. as if there was nothing she expected more. or less. "i knooow. i'm such a hufflepuff. it's so boring", i say. "they're like nice, but...boring". "no, they're not!" shouts avital across the corridor. "they're just not given that much attention". i smile and retreat back into my room; door still half-open; running inbetween rooms. as always.
i put on zsuzsa’s mustard t-shirt and those old black denim shorts that i thrifted at södra esplanaden years ago. they didn’t fit well back then but they fit well now. i wear them with fishnet tights and a black belt. ”i just wanna look punk” i say as zsuzsa and avi swing left and right entering my room. ”hufflepunk”, libbie exclaims from the other side. i shriek because it's perfect. ”YEAH! HUFFLEPUFF’S DON’T NEED TO BE BORING! YOU CAN BE NICE AND PUNK!!!” i shout. zsuzsa and avital laugh. a typical kili south borderline breakdown.
and then carlie’s familiar blue lights and the circle of family. almost like routine. (but why?) i try to run the hufflepunk joke but it doesn’t work. ”that’s not funny”, josefine replies instead. harshly. ouch. we talk about things that don't matter, joke about old memories and the time we've spent together, the memories warming us up, seeping through our veins bursting into a fluster of giggles, and
next thing i know i'm in kili hallway with zsuzsa and avital. it's not even midnight but i've abandoned the party for my pink bed sheets and a good night's sleep. except in the corridor on the way to my room are my two best friends, avital with a hand on z's shoulder, and z with puffy cheeks and glossy eyes. avital is leaning her back against the wall, her sequin dress bluer than ever in the yellow lights of the hallway. she looks like a fallen hero. i can't get that image out of my head.
we go to the dayroom, heat up nuggets, and then josefine comes. anchor comes. benja comes. carlie comes. and i think to myself "wow, i can't believe we all just randomly ended up here together. this is nice". and then i think to myself "wow, i have no desire to be here at all". and next thing i know i'm the one crying in the hallway.
it ends up being a confusing night. the first of many spiralling down into hopelessness; heavyness; heftiness.
#2: splash on the pavement, smell of wet asphalt (march 28)
for some bizarre reason i decided to set my alarm for 6:50, giving me exactly seven hours and thirty-one minutes of sleep. my alarm goes off at 6:31. seven hours and four minutes. i fumble for my phone but it's lying screen down on my carpeted floor. floor carpeted with the most ugly blend of blues and whites and making the contrast against my cream yellow walls even worse. and on top of it a pile of clothes. black and whites against blend of blue. running shorts that i used for climbing three days in a row. t-shirts that i slept in and didn't bother to get out of when i had to get up and go to class in the morning. three different crop tops because maybe one of them won't make me look fat. the third of lázaro's sweaters, big and comfortable as always. stolen three days ago and worn ever since. i run into him on my way down from dinner. "why are you wearing my hoodie, again..?" he tries to sound angry. "it smells good. plus it looks good on me" i answer back. he stops holding back his smile and gives me a hug. "everything looks good on you" he says and continues walking. what's for dinner?" he turns around. "pizza!" i smirk. "oooh". and then he turns around again. lázaro. my best friend. unconditional love. your hoodie smells good. plus it looks good on me. and it feels safe and comfortable and serene and now it's on top of my clothing pile next to my bed that i can't get up from at 6.31 in the morning. like a cloak of comfort that i can drown myself in.
i can't even remember why i put my alarm at 6:50. i think it was so i could take a shower and be at breakfast a little past seven so i could study until my first class at eight. but at 6:31 in the morning it all seems irrational. i open up my phone and read a text from my dad "just be calm, you're good enough". i swallow the lump in my throat and throw my phone back on the floor. blend of blue with blacks and whites on top of it. i never want to get out of bed. i feel so heavy.
i end up at breakfast at 7:24. i'm gonna learn integrals but i finish 'a wild sheep chase' instead, and then i fall asleep in anthropology. perpetually tired. seven hours and four minutes and i fall asleep in my first class. how did i even survive my first year? how did i survive averaging literally five hours of sleep every night? i'm getting old. i skip assembly and lay in my bed for three hours instead. i do nothing. it seems to have become the most terrible habit of mine. i lay in bed and then i can't get up. and the clock goes on and on and on. tik tok tik tok like nothing ever matters like everything will pass,
some day. when i look up at my window, three raindrops have splashed against it. raindrops tracing lines down the windowpane. the sky is white for the first time in a long time. like the endless clear blue sky got exchanged for one endless off-white cloud. as i open my window it smells of rain. splash on the pavement, smell of wet asphalt. and the world shone moistly. i walk into english with a seven minute tardy.
it's been a gloomy past couple of days. "haha i keep getting rejection letters" i type nonchanantly in our family chat. "haha". as if it's funny. as if i don't care. "haha". my best attempt at trying to brush off. it's not really working. "it's okay, just take it as it comes" answers my brother.
i think back on third semester. i re-visit my playlist, filled with skepta and tyler the creator and m.i.a and i try to do work. it doesn't work. i think back on how diligent i was with my studies, on how structured i was with my time. how i could spend hours in the IT doing work and how good i would feel about myself. how i could be up at breakfast at 7am sharp and be productive until morning code. what happened? and why does it even matter anyway? all for nothing.
i wonder if the reason i'm so tired all the time is because of relapse. because depression is slowly sneaking its way back from underneath the covers, pulling me down into listlessness, emptiness, indifference. as if nothing really matters. because that's what it feels like. nothing is fun anymore. route-setting is a shit show. i can hardly get myself out of bed for retro party. when avital and anchor and carlie and zsuzsa jam out in the dayroom, waiting for cookies in the oven, i can't smile. i'm too stuck in my own mind. too stuck for my own good. just stuck. can't move. can't do anything. can't even get out of bed.
as i walk up to lunch with mihir, i can't help but stare down the rain on the stairs. the gray cement soaking every drop of it, devouring the rain as if there was nothing else it could do. i guess there is nothing else it could do, because it's fucking cement so what does it matter anyway, but the devouring of rain as it falls and then the sitting around waiting for it to seep through. waiting for it to turn the entire step into the same dark beige as its top part. as if the middle of the step's fate is inevitable, because the rain doesn't stop at the top. the puddles on the top are slowly but surely finding their way down to the middle. not with the same rigorous devouring as the top part, but steadily. as if time will take its time and that's just how it is. inevitable.
just like a tragic hero.
just like me.
as we walk up the path, the smell of wet hay hits us. "at least we have nice weather today" says mihir. "i hate the rain", i answer back. "fair enough", he replies. and then we continue walking in silence. the smell of hay doesn't leave me until long after it's stopped drizzling. can't stop thinking about the smell of wet asphalt that surrounds my neighborhood in the summer. the pavement heated up during the day and cooled down by the rain in the evening, as if good things can't last. as if everything has to fall back to its original state, one way or another.
just like me.
#3: weltschmertz (april 2)
i've spent a lot of time thinking of leaving this place for the past couple of weeks. it seems like all my posts in one way or another always turn back to the inevitability of the fact that we're leaving. that things will never be the same after this. that some of the people that i've met i will never see again. it comes in waves. and i'm not sure how i feel about it all. most of all it scares me. a lot.
i sit on the bus back from walmart one day and we drive down hot springs boulevard as the sky is getting darker, finally setting in an unsaturated blue. i don't know what it is but it always hits me driving back to campus from places. driving back from santa fe in the sunset coming back from an art trip. the last beams of the sun hitting the pale orange adobe houses. the three hour drive from the airport back and the turn-off past the post-office after weeks of not being on campus. and driving back from walmart, past luna, past the youth detention center, past the trailers and horses and dogs and the beautiful new mexican palette flashing past the window. the red hues of the mesas and the endless variations of green from the forest, the leaves left after the fall of baby pink cherry blossoms, and the dirty pale yellow that is the dryness of the desert.
i'm going to miss montezuma so much. our oasis in the middle of nowhere, with our rust colored castle and our secrets hidden in the fourth floor. the path surrounded by wet hay in the spring and orange flowers in late summer, with the last brick saying "to hell" that i only noticed a couple of months ago. i will miss the view coming down from dinner on late summer evenings, breeze still warm and the color in the sky changing every minute, as if its constantly in motion, as if it can't decide; its gradient falling heavy on the silhouette of las vegas. and i will miss sitting outside the chapel, seeing the sun hit the top of the pine trees and hiking up to the edge of the hill, looking out over sebastian canyon as the sky turns lavender purple. i will miss the lights from the dorm windows, walking across campus in the middle of the night. the blues and the greens and the reds and the music from portable speakers surrounded by the laughter of familiar faces on a clear day weekend afternoon.
soon it will all be gone. just like how the days spent in cafés with aleksander and nights biking down hardeberga with leo and evenings on linnéa's porch all disappeared too. but not really. because i guess lund is home, for real. because i guess i can come back to lund and feel like nothing's changed. but this feels like home too. except this home isn't forever. this home changes every two years. this home will never be the same and the next time i come here, come home, it won't be. it won't be home. not anymore. it can never be.
#4: the hopelessness of soul-searching (april 4)
i started meditating. and reading self-help books. who would have thought? "i despise myself" i type to mihir. i really do.
we hold expressions for our first years. it's an evening full of jokes that wouldn't make sense in any other context than here but that are still intensly funny. or at least it seemed like it in the moment. me and zsuzsa and avital have created the absolute crappiest dorm video ever and when no one understands our 'eggsistensial eggs'-scene i can't stop laughing. it's so ridiculously bad and there's no one else to blame. i'm sorry, kili firsties. at least now you have incentive to do something great.
and then, the standing on stage. me and all my co-years, together. finding our roommates in the blur of the auditorium and giving them a bunch of notes; written as tools of procrastination, as messages of devotion, as indications of friendship, as expressions of love. and then the handing out of hugs, finding the right people to embrace, maybe shedding a tear or two, yada yada. except not this time. not at all.
i find libbie and give her a hug. and then i retreat back to the front of the stage. passively watching the event before my eyes. i feel strangely detached from it all. i think back to last year, to last year's expressions, to how much i cried, about how emotional i got, about how it had hit me: it was only 50 days left. it's only 50 days left now. yet, i feel nothing. i hand out hugs and i tell people i'm going to miss them but my being there seems to be mostly duty.
and then we end up in grace's room. me and the girls. and we talk about the days we have left. and zsuzsa comes in after having just talked to another firstie in despair, that was crying over the fact that we are all leaving. "at least you have another year", i want to tell her. but it isn't as easy as that, i guess. wasn't for us last year either. until it was. anyhow, zsuzsa comes in and she says that she's so incredibly grateful for having us and the support system we have and that's when it hits me. how much i'll miss these girls and this place and new mexico. and how strange it's going to be living without them. never even struck me that i won't have zsuzsa and avital next door in less than 50 days. never even struck me that lázaro won't be a barefoot run away to hug me when i'm sad. never even struck me that some of these people i will never see again. and never ever in the same context. when will we all be together again? maybe never. ouch.
and then, self-help books and meditation. who am i trying to kid?
#5: whatever (april 10)
it's friday when i open up my art show. it's 5:58pm and i'm setting up the last part of my exhibition, putting up my curatorial rationale on the wall and opening up the door. at 6:02 i'm down in the art room, hastily grabbing cookies and devouring grape fruit juice, all out of nervosity. my peers have done a great job and i can't help but smile as i enter the art room; what used to be ours. what used to be our own personal little corner filled with intimacy and personality. now it's turned into an exhibition space, the walls newly painted and the floor scrubbed clean. no longer coffee grounds and newspaper cut-outs on the floors. no longer push-pinned notes on the walls. instead a clinical white, yet so much charm. i wander across, admiring ryusei's diligently carved plaster balls, and zsuzsa's huge acrylic djungle painting that she finally finished. it looks great and it impresses me so much, even though she hates it herself. anna's wood work looks amazing spraypainted in metallics and put on the walls, and karen's colorful acrylic portraits instantly triggers warmth in my heart and a smile on my face.
at 6:20, i drag mihir with me upstairs. i'm so nervous. nervous because my space is so different; nervous that no one will understand; nervous that it's too intimate; nervous that it's too open. nervous that it's not going to be what i want it to. when we get up there, alexis is wandering around the art space. "i love this, anneli!" she exclaims. my heart flutters. me and mihir make coffee in avital's french press that i've placed on nacho's coffee table in my art space, along with cups and my writings and soon other people start dropping in. "can i touch this?" they say. or "is it okay if i open this?". "yes" i answer to it all. "yes, that's the point. look through whatever you want". on the desk is my planner, with one-liners for each day. when nour finds it he says "oohh... are you sure i can look through this?" and me, panicked for having been stupid enough to put my heart on the line "that's pretty personal, but yeah. i don't care". that's the point.
as people start dropping in, things start feeling better. at one point i'm standing by the desk, talking with doug about murakami. isaac is sitting in the armchair reading my writings, drinking coffee. by the desk is benedetta looking through my journals. nacho enters and hints a smile. i smile back. this is good. this is exactly what i wanted it to be. i wanted people to come in and interact with the space. i wanted people to come in and feel something...else. something different. like they were immersed in something that they shouldn't be. like they were immersed in a perfect inbalance between private and the public. the personal and the mutual. discomfort.
(#5.5: curatorial rationale)
although having experimented with different media throughout these two years, my works have always related back to the theme of identity; or the lack of it. throughout my life, I have always felt in-between. growing up Chinese in Sweden often made me question myself — from the naive questions of my youth, wondering why I didn’t look alike anyone else, to the more complex ones of adolescence, questioning cultural values and external influences. these questions often led me nothing other than what came to be an intrinsic insecurity; a tsunami of self-doubt; a perpetuation of indecision; a venture into vulnerability. this exhibition is about that, and the feeling it brings me. it’s about process rather than the finished product, and the byproducts I leave behind and the story they tell. this exhibition is an exploration of self; an investigation of me; a search for I.
my three self-portraits focus on what it means to be part of the human condition when you feel half, or split in two. i tried to explicitly show this feeling by slicing my face as in ’Self, II’, or distorting part of it as in ’Self, I’. my intention was to disturb the viewer, and make them question why; just like how I many times question why I have always felt in-between — and how that feeling has been established through the judgement of others. I started realizing that more often than not, I let other people define me. ’an ode to boys’ is a further commentary on that; a ripping apart of expectations and judgements. a defining of myself, by myself.
as I explored this theme deeper, I started noticing the feeling that this intrinsic insecurity gave me. it instantly reminded me of mornings when I have not yet had my coffee; of the hazy mind that surrounds me as I get out of bed; of not being able to be fully awake; alert; alive; and how coffee many times helps me break through that feeling.
and so I started working with it.
my relationship with coffee has almost become one of dependency, and incorporating it into my art has been a symbol of freeing my mind, getting rid of distress; breaking through what seems a shadow of reality — a slumberous haze, where mind wanders, hopelessly.
my first coffee exploration really related to that feeling, as it is a series of doodles that i did during distress. finished, I put them on the floor and poured coffee over them, splashing it all over the floor, staining the pieces, and making the ink bleed. this became a physical illustration of coffee seeping through the distress I feel and adjusting my mood. it was also a breaking through of mental barriers, since I had no idea what was going to come out of it and for once had to deal with the unexpected.
and after that came a flood of coffee creations. paintings stained with coffee (such as ’monsteras & distress’ and a self-portrait in the form of a coffee cup (’never half full’); all to further the idea of coffee as breaking through that feeling that the intrinsic insecurity gives me.
another big aspect of my art has been the process of works, and the remains left behind. after having studied On Kawara, i became obsessed with the idea of mapping; tracing remains. i started taking photos of my first cup of coffee every morning in combination with the time they were finished. and then I started writing down the names of every person i talk to each day. although seemingly meaningless collections of data, there must be something that can be told about me through the traces I leave. through the time I finish my first cup of coffee each morning, to the people I talk to each day. somewhere in-between, there must be an essence of sorts.
inspired by the House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe — a 20,000 square feet exhibition where the viewer is immersed into a storyline — I then decided to set up my exhibition like a room. I want the viewer to enter the space and feel as if she just walked in on something; as if she is immersed in something different. maybe that essence I’m talking about. the me. I deliberately decided to include all the detritus I have accumulated over the past two years; post-it notes, newspaper cut-outs, coffee brews, and writings. I also decided to integrate music as it personally has played a big role in setting atmosphere, my journals (where I also keep track of my mood, coffee habits, and sleep every day), as well as photos from my youth as a storyline running through the exhibition. these things show the remains of true events that have left an impact on me, much like every other thing I experience in life. much like the content of my show, my curation is about process, about the unfinished, and about leaving behind. an exposé of me.
#6: ??? (april 12)
it's starting to feel like last year again. the golden daze of cancelled classes and warm evenings soaking in the hot springs. the heady smell of lilacs against the pale blue sky, and the aftermath of cherry blossom petals sprinkling pink on the pavements; victims of last week's snow fall. and the confused despair of trying to make the most out of every single moment. yet i find myself wanting to be alone, a lot. i find myself wanting to read, wanting to write, wanting to climb, wanting to... take care of myself. alone.
maybe it's some sort of defense mechanism. like a preparation for what's coming up. for graduation, and the life that will follow after that. like a coping with a problem before it's even occured. preparation, preventation; solicitude. maybe if i voluntarily distance myself enough from people it won't hurt as bad when we are distanced from each other, involuntarily. i don't know. i wonder.
i talk to avital about that. about how it feels like this time last year, again. about how suddenly there are so many things that seemed like the most obvious and natural and taken for granted things ever that need to be crammed into the 38 days we have left. like hiking up to the cross again, biking into town, going to storrie lake, stargazing at the water reservoir, climbing roofs, late night conversations on the path, on the rocks, in the hot springs. things that were exciting during orientation and that have since then always been a "we'll just do it another day", that we just... won't be able to do, another day. because there is no other day than here and now. and that's a strange thought in itself.
there are many things that i want to say to a lot of different people. words in form of emotions, feelings; things that cannot find their way out of my body, out of my mind. that can't be formulated. mostly gratitude, thankfulness, admiration. like how i want to express how much mihir means to me and how much i love him and have always done. or how grateful i am that libbie is my roommate even though i suck and feel myself retreating into some deep hole of solitude and isolation. or andrew and doug for being like the best adults i've ever met in my entire life. and hugh for making me question everything, even though everything he says always comes out as definite and undubitable even though it's not. and avital for being an inspiration and zsuzsa for having so much compassion. but i don't know how.
i had a weird moment yesterday where i woke up way too late, went up to the cafeteria to study, and stayed there for four hours with only half a biology packet done. instead i found myself just looking at people. and listening to shout out louds. but mostly just looking at people. listening to conversations by reading facial expressions around tables from afar, seeing people walking in and out together, teachers sitting down at student tables. and then i found myself alone, grinning like an idiot in the back of the caf. another moment when it hit me again; how much i like the people here. how much i enjoy seeing them happy, even from afar. even just observing. how it warms my heart seeing people interact in the special way that they do here. because it is, special. i can't describe it. probably couldn't even if i tried really hard. and then i feel the lump growing in my throat and although smiling my eyes are tearing up. i can't believe i'm leaving all of this.
when i skype my parents one week my dad asks me to actually figure out what i think about uwc. somehow i always forget that the only times my parents hear from me is when we skype, once a week, an hour on sunday mornings. and depending on my mood, i'll be either hating this place or loving it. "i'm just honestly really confused" my dad says. it makes me sad but it also makes a lot of sense. i hate this place and i love it at the same time. there's nothing more to it than that.