Author: Grace Yin

Somebody you used to know.

大暑

Major heat.

a little bit of a drawing from a few days ago

It has actually been quite hot the past week, which is nice. I don’t think I did much either… I enrolled in my courses for the next year. Amazing how I’m already going to be entering my third year. I really didn’t expect to make it this far.

I spent a good amount of last year alone, which let me do quite a bit of retrospective pondering. It was usually aimless and circular, but I suppose that is what entertains the lonely. On my 19th birthday, while at karaoke with some extended family, I ended up thinking of a metaphor for one’s past. I thought about how the things that I found unsettling about either my childhood or school years I ended up carrying with me, like balloons. A whole bunch of balloons, each carrying a memory of something bad. I thought about it sadly: why did I have to carry those with me? Why was my story like this? Why did these events and memories define who I am? … and so on.

Last night I went back to that thought by accident, and noticed that over the years, I’ve created quite a few metaphors for my sadness. There were the balloons, but I had also characterized it as a shadow, or some sort of burden; or as a parasite that dwells in my centre, taking up all the space; or like a character profile in games that pulls up my stats and skills; or a weight that keeps me stuck to the floor. Sometimes, I would be afraid of keeping them, and distanced myself away from those feelings-thoughts-memories, while other times, I’d imagined them as part of me. Part of what made me who I am, something that can’t be divorced. I guess those are all right, but in a way, it’s also just all… the result of over-thinking.

Well, it’s a great way to pass time. A thought exercise. Anyway, back to last night: I was watching dumb videos before sleeping of an interview. The person being interviewed spoke about being the child of a famous person, and having their flaws being televised from a young age, and all sorts of troubles that I could not imagine nor relate to. But, perhaps because this person was close in age to me, or perhaps because of some other silly reason, I could empathize. Everyone has their own sadness that they carry around. Who hasn’t felt wronged, especially as a young child? Either through making mistakes, or facing the consequences of others’ mistakes, we end up growing up.

So when I say I hate someone or something that I experienced, I don’t usually mean that I truly, one hundred percent hated them without remorse, but that I hate that whatever happened did happen, and that I hate how it made us feel. I say I hate high school, which usually just amounts to me hating the constant anxiety and unrealistic standards and unhealthy coping methods. I say I hate a specific person, but I usually just mean I hate how they treated other people/me, or the way they act in certain situations, or just how our relationship deteriorated. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve removed all instances of it from my mind, since I can still learn something from them.

I’ve yet to figure out how to navigate (with) my sadness, but I’m guessing I’ll figure it out with time.

This blog post has a bit of a different flavour from the last few, but I figured some change wouldn’t be bad. There’s really no major takeaway from this post either, just more of a acknowledgement that we’re all kind of not okay, but it’s okay anyway. I’m here to have fun, not mope around.

小暑

Minor heat.

an acid cube

We’ve reached the halfway point (and a bit more) of this year. What an amazing thing, to have completed half a revolution amidst all this chaos. It was my birthday last week. I barely remember what I did, but honestly, that’s good. That means not much happened. At this point, if nothing happens, that’s a plus. Someone (who I am not friends with) said that it’s a quarter of my life. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant… did he imply that I’ll make it to 80? I somehow doubt that I’ll do so purposefully. I mean, getting to 20 was a fluke. I didn’t really plan for it. It’s a welcome surprise, I think.

I don’t think I’ve much to say this time either, so have a list of Things:

1. Even if you miss something, it doesn’t mean you still want that something. Everything is different now, so things that worked before won’t necessarily prosper in today’s environment. But it’s okay to just recognize that, I guess.

2. You can’t hold on to everything you experience now. It’s just too much. Some things you can’t try too hard to capture and immortalize, because you’ll enjoy it much less. Sometimes it’s enough to just enjoy it as it happens. Once it’s over, it’s over. If you focus too hard on trying to remember it all, you might end up with nothing in your memories.

3. One of the harder things to do is to really know what you want right now. Sure, I say I want to play games and eat snacks, but is that going to make me less lonely? and then: what kind of connection do I really want right now? Is it companionship, or something else? Is my inability to trust people harming my friendships, making it more difficult to find that kind of camaraderie? Is what I’m doing now able to replace what I really want? Not in the long run, but that’s a problem for a later me to figure out.

4. Everything goes forward.

… there was originally a 5th thought, but it was kind of stupid, so I deleted it. It was like, intro psych levels of dumb. Anyway, I’m gonna eat snacks and draw. It’s summertime and I am 20 years old and I do what I want.

夏至

Summer solstice.

liquid meat cube

Another good time of year (the time around my birthday). Midsummer, summer solstice, whatever. Summer used to hold very hopeful and somewhat romantic notions for me, but over time I got over it. I came to the conclusion that it was the same as every other day of every other month of every other year: it was a time that I could capitalize upon and Get Shit Done. Anyway, my mood tends to fluctuate quite often, so I never get around to the Doing part of it all, but again, where’s the fun in burning out? I’m in limbo right now, trying to figure out if my current state of existing is an extended childhood nostalgia-filled daydream or just another unexpected part of moving forward. That’s how life is, right? Just keep moving on, going forward; your mistakes are just stepping stones or bridges, and death is waiting at every corner. I used to marvel at that idea, but just like all my thoughts, I got tired of mulling it over. So what? I go forward because that’s the only direction I can even go in.

Sometimes my brother says some really weird things. We got a new(er) car a few days ago, and my brother was stuck on the idea that so much money can be gone in a flash. Things like that seem so simple—everything we can purchase is a trade and the bigger things we have to save up more for. We budget and plan. Every choice we make has days of discussion and thought behind it. It’s interesting to think that once, I was also 9, and I didn’t budget my time or money, or have to account for Things I Have to Do more than 24h in advance… anyway, I kind of lost myself there. Let’s move on.

But! However! It is warm, and that means I can dress comfortably. My siblings are done with school, so hopefully that means more video games, baking, badminton, and annoying the hell out of each other and our parents. I got a haircut recently, too, so I’m in peak summer form right now. A massive shapeless blob that is ready to consume. There’s a bit under 10 days until my birthday. As mentioned before, I was really hyped to turn 10. But 20… that’s something I never expected. Halfway to my goal (just kidding. maybe). I’m glad I don’t have to celebrate it. I’d rather just stay at home. Fortunately, there’s a lot of time for me to do that.

Not much content in today’s post either. My sister made madeleines for Father’s Day today, and I think they turned out pretty good.

芒种

Grain in ear.

One would imagine that there’s more time for introspection now that we’re still mostly residing at home, but honestly, the constant barrage of distractions and disasters make it difficult to find time to just sit there and zone out. I find that to be a welcoming thing, actually. I’ve spent a fair amount of time alone in the past few years, and all I did was ruminate, tossing the same questions up in the air, finding new conclusions, etc. All I’ve really concluded is that it’s too much work to always be thinking and assessing your own behaviour. There’s a line between healthy reflection and anxiety-fuelled obsession with progress.

I’ve still been playing games and occasionally doodling, but mostly just consuming things. Media, sugars, energy… just generally being a waste. I consider it lucky I get to be a lazy child again. It’s probably one of the last times I’ll be able to be this carefree. Not that I’m completely responsibility-less—my very existence is at least partly composed of responsibilities and anxiety. There’s a lot I have yet to do, but as always… one step at a time. I’ll do it later.

Anyway, this solar term is about planting rice and harvesting grains. Since I personally do not partake in the agriculture industry, I’ll address this in a different way: it’s getting warm! It’s almost summer, and my siblings will soon be on summer break. This break will be very different from the past few, but I’m sure that it’ll be fine. We can still have fun. There’s a lot of change to adapt to both macroscopically and within our own family, but with time, everything will be alright, and we’ll have another type of normalcy to return to.

I could just be fooling myself (as usual), but it’s been working, so. That’s it for now.

小满

Lesser fullness… of grain…

Here’s a tiny portrait of my brother. He’s stuck to me almost 24/7 and he’s a very warm child. He also constantly is excited and full of energy and the Zest for Being Alive. Of course, he’s got the occasional moments of downtime, but overall, he seems overly pure and smart. And annoying, of course. Can’t be related to me if he’s not annoying.

In the weeks since the last update, not much has changed. The weather has been slowly warming, and my life without any pressing responsibilities really is quite tame. It’s nice. I even baked, which is amazing considering how I’m known (at least at home) for being extremely lazy. I didn’t draw or write as much, partially because I have to spend every waking moment accompanying my brother, but then again, I am willing to spend that time with him. So I’m not really complaining. Only kind of.

I’ve also received messages from people I used to be friends with. I guess that means they’re really bored too. Why else would they message someone from their past? I suppose this ties in to my next thought about history. In this case, it’s about one’s personal histories. I’m not one to compare people’s experiences and hold them up to any sort of standard, much less my own. The truth is that the weight of each person’s experiences depend only on their own mental strength. To some, the things I’ve seen and lived through may seem like the frivolous drama of a young child, while to others they are unimaginable and possibly fascinating. Of course, these experiences (and anyone else’s) are all just that. They’re each person’s personal story, and it’s usually in their best interest to share that with their close friends and family. After all, what better way is there for others to get to understand you? And vice-versa, as well. Perhaps one’s mental fortitude would be reinforced by the reactions of others. Maybe it’s just another way of remembering the truth.

Anyway, I think (and talk) a lot. It may seem a bit like I’m lecturing or proving my moral superiority, but it’s probably more like my… stream of consciousness, I guess. I don’t necessarily think that the way I think is the Best and Only Way to Think, or that the observations I’ve made are objective and therefore accurate representations of reality (although there is no objective reality since every person’s perception is inherently skewed to their own original beliefs)… I like to imagine that I try not to judge people too hard. Even the most sheltered and obnoxious person is that way for a reason. I may not like that (or them) but there’s nothing I can do about it, so I’ll just move on. Since they’re not being obnoxious directly towards me, I don’t have a reason to do or say anything about it to them.

I think that’s the the extent of my brain activity for today. I rarely think these days, which is weird. Then again, I don’t have much time to myself anymore. What a difference it’s been… and it’s only been like 10 weeks.

立夏

Beginning of summer.

I vaguely feel like I’m in one of those horror rpgmaker games—I can’t go out and interact much with the outside world, and there’s a few activities and rooms I’m limited to. I cycle through the same actions everyday and it feels like no time has passed, but the numbers on my watch suggest otherwise. Everything else is within my head or whatever media I consume, or games or dreams.

It’s interesting that when I no longer feel confined by the ways I feel or think that I’m confined physically. Is this an elaborate plan to get me to face my discomfort? Of course, if I learn anything from this (or any) experience, I consider it fine.

Recently we’ve been playing Animal Crossing on the Switch. It seems at first very simple and cute (or a great proponent of capitalism), but it’s pretty meditative. I zone out as I collect weeds. Sometimes I just stare off into the distance from the rocks at the beach. I kind of wish I could be on a boat right now, but maybe some time later.

Anyway! Summer! It’s coming, but much like everything else, I can’t really tell. There’s not much in the foreseeable future, which is a funny thing to say considering none of the future is currently foreseeable. Will I dream of something spooky again? What will I have for dinner tomorrow? What should I draw? Will something good happen? It goes on.

Hopefully I’ll have a little something drawn for next post. My photos aren’t really super interesting (this one is from the grocery store a few… weeks ago?), so that’ll be a nice break. So… until then.

谷雨

Wheat rain.

My brother (who is featured in this post’s photo) says that he is a wheat.

I’ve been home for almost a month now, and it really has felt like no time at all has passed. I think this is partly because we’ve been cooped up and every day is pretty much exactly the same as the days before and after it, and partly because I haven’t been any type of productive at all. I managed to eat a lot, and sleep the usual amount, and play quite a bit of games. There’s really nothing that separates one day from the other. It’s very odd, and somehow a bit of struggle for me.

I’m guessing there’s not going to be much difference in the next few updates… or perhaps even for the rest of the year. But who knows. Upcoming events include: my brother’s birthday (“in eight days” – Gabriel), my birthday, and more gaming… and more food….

So! Until then.

清明

Qing Ming Festival/Tomb Sweeping Day.

Yesterday, I went for a walk outside with my siblings. Although this is decidedly not the best course of action considering the state of the world, the suburbs are relatively safe and spacious; we only were in contact with each other and our cameras. Since it’s spring, we absorbed the sunlight while loudly and perhaps rambunctiously snapping pictures of the cherry blossoms and other flowering plants, as well as some of dogs that barked at us.

I’ve been at home for a little over a week now, and (at least for me) I’ve fallen back into the same old routine as always. We’ve also had to tackle homeschooling with my little brother, which is a bit of a pain. Partly because he’s a bit ahead of his classmates, and partly because he is lazy and only wants to play games… of all kinds… with me… and I still have my own stuff to do. So it’s difficult, but we’ve got no choice but to get used to it. Another side effect of being at home is that I dream of high school. It makes sense, of course, but it’s kind of weird.

Anyway, I’ll take this time to remember that I went to visit the graves of my great-grandparents on my dad’s side last summer in Taipei. I did my best to be respectful and appropriate, but as always, my innermost feelings were jumbled. I found myself wondering if I’d ever have a more average reaction to death or tragedy. Then, as usual, I decide that things like this take time and experience, which can only come naturally: so why worry? There’s no way to prepare for the unknown. The best I can do is be honest with myself.

Recently I’ve also been thinking about how to be independent enough, while also being a part of a family unit. How can I maintain the identity of self that I’ve built while also being the child I’ve always been? Small issues like that are what I’m fumbling with. Sometimes I find myself unwilling to argue a point with my family that I would’ve previously been overeager to do. Similar to something I’ve thought about previously: where am I truly from? Is there one place I can tie my identity to? Some people choose a few places to define their identities, but even that’s not sufficient. I suppose that’s why I like the idea of a wanderer, or an amorphous blob that migrates with the seasons. Well, again, none of this really matters. It’s a fun little shower thinking exercise, I guess.

Alright, that’s about it for now. I’m going to gain a lot of weight at home, which is going to be great. Preparation for next winter. My little brother wants to go out and play now, so I’ll end here.

春分

Spring equinox.

So far, we’ve got 3/4 sky photos. I’m not saying that this is a problem, but it is definitely a trend that may become boring very quickly. Fortunately (or unfortunately, actually), quite a bit has happened since the last post, and quite a bit will happen in between this one and the next. We’re in a state of emergency, so school and most other things have been cut short. It’s been extremely stressful and extremely weird, but hopefully it ends well. Ends soon.

I think it’s best to try not to be too attached to anything. Sure, it’s inevitable that we can get used to things in its current state, or a current routine, but it’s also inevitable that it can disappear as quickly as when we first became accustomed to it. So it just saves a lot of unnecessary sadness to not care as much about the current state of things. I’m grateful, but I don’t expect anything. I mean also… stability is hard to come by when you’re 19.

 

惊蛰

Awakening of insects.

A picture from a botanical garden I visited late last year.

I’m not a big fan of insects. I acknowledge that they can be great, and some are pretty-looking, but for the most part I am a large coward and I am afraid of things with many legs. There’s a snow warning for today, but so far there’s only been rain and the regular surplus of wind. I didn’t even have to wear my parka.

It’s the last month before exams! I’m incredibly stressed and incredibly busy, so there’s really nothing too interesting happening besides that. Time passes quickly during the school months, but it seems even faster during the summer. I’ve been trying to carve out time to read things I like or just to draw for fun, which also passes time. My living situation has also improved so there’s less distractions and things inhibiting me from doing what I want.

I hope there’s no misconception that every post I’ll have some sort of topic or thing to report. So far I just have a few of my shower thoughts from this past month, so walking-home-from-class thoughts.

Never mind, there’s a few sparse flakes of snow drifting about right now.

Anyway, since it has been fairly warm this past week (above 0, slightly), I’ve been feeling less uncomfortable physically. Always a plus to feel like you want to go outside. I’m not really having too good of a semester though, my classes aren’t as fun or interesting and all the assignments just feel so tedious. I’m honestly enjoying my physics elective more than my studios, which Says Something.

One last thought: there’s no real escapism. Leaving a place for another doesn’t render your origin obsolete. At some point or another, you’ll have to come back to the beginning, if even just to take a look.