Tag Archives: Work

Swallow the Moon

SwallowtheMoon

Too busy for thoughts, but not for art. God bless us all.

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Inktober

Typhon

There is such a thing as too much vacation, too much spare time that your mind gets bored and frustrated that you start seeing all the negativity and unhappiness that you usually block from your mind with work. The things that you’ve drown out with bits and pieces of your soul start to resurface again. You start creating small dramas to entertain yourself. Maybe you set small fires here and there just to test the waters and see that you’re still alive. It’s not to be mean or anything, but the mind just needs a bit of stimulus for no other reason that it needs it. Unfortunately, you end up going too far and that small fire has burst into a barn fire, then to a raging conflagration. Then you’re no longer bored but exponentially more miserable and unhappy, and you still have a few vacation days left, a few more days to make things worse.

God bless work. God bless keeping busy.

And speaking of keeping busy, God bless Inktober. I recently saw an NHK video on Hayao Miyazaki struggling to make his last film, ‘Boro the Caterpillar.’ He was obsessing with animating a furry caterpillar using traditional hand-drawn techniques. Though people were constantly pushing to him new computerized ways of streamlining the process, even showing him an AI that would make its own animations, he insisted that CGI removes the human element, and many things that the artist and the audience sees in nature in terms of light, motion, and life itself, are lost in the computerized environment, and totally missing the signature look of what makes Ghibli films what they are. Things got so heated at one point, that he almost saw it as an insult to have AIs animate what amounted to monstrous figures.

In many ways, I agree with Miyazaki. There’s just something about hand-drawn work that makes it more compelling than ones generated with the aid of computers. The viewer can feel the hand of the artist, the effort. We can see with the artist’s eyes and there is evidence to where his attention lingered. Now these can also be true with CGI images, but they’re often crisp to the point that it feels cold and alien. It can easily be mistaken that I am seeing an interesting image made by a computer instead of me seeing an interesting image made in an interesting manner by an artist. An artist. The art in the process is more apparent with hand-drawn works.

This is why, despite me not being active with Inktober, I appreciate that it celebrates and encourages hand-drawn works. It is very tempting to do things via the computer, with drawing tablets getting cheaper and more ubiquitous, and web comics and digital paintings being more popular. But in my opinion, the computer filters out the human touch in creating images. Perhaps it’s the ease in the process of cleaning images up, but it could also be the process of making images on the PC itself.

Coincidentally, the 10th item on the Inktober prompt list is gigantic. This is my interpretation of the Greek giant Typhon.

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How We Are Here

Double_Virgin

Simon and Garfunkel looked at loneliness and isolation as something like a super power, a super human ability to be impervious to what drags most people down. We are social creatures. We take strength from our neighbors. But this reliance on others makes us vulnerable to our neighbors’ weaknesses as well. Looking back at Simon and Garfunkel, after spending an intimate afternoon with Cecilia and forming what I assume are more than just sexual bonds with another person, Cecilia starts having sex with another man the minute either Simon or Garfunkel leaves the room to wash their face. Being a rock, being an island would have been better. At least one doesn’t have to deal with the humiliation and emotional battery.

Unfortunately, true isolation is rarely possible. By virtue of being raised by someone, or the minute we take interest in another person, be it sexually or emotionally, we are trapped. Our lives are connected regardless of whether the other person cares, and the dynamics of this relationship ultimately affects our happiness.

Which brings me to what a friend of mine told to me the other day:

I’ve come to full terms with the fact that my father is a bit of a deadbeat. He is someone who saw the first opportunity to retire and took it, not even caring about what happens in the future. He would rather be lazy, not work and lead a mediocre life, than work and actually do interesting things, be interesting… travel the world, contribute to society, have a freakin’ hobby, do something. And that’s what got to me the most… people like that, and the way they drag other people down into an especially tedious and mediocre existence.

Because he doesn’t work, he relies on his children for money. His children are just starting their own families, their own lives. Instead of saving money for their own children, or maybe using that money to make their lives a bit more exciting, a trip to Disneyland or something, they end up sending that money to their father, someone who has no interest in working. Instead of just one person leading an uneventful life, he drags his children’s life to the same mediocre existence, only they are working harder for it. He isn’t. He’s “retired.” 

Now, this hit me a little close. Being the breadwinner, I have to worry about providing for my wife. Ideally, we would be DINKs (Double Income, No Kids). But for one reason or another, my wife would not be able to survive by her income alone. And by some miracle, the one who graduated with an arts degree is the breadwinner of the family. I don’t mind this much. I believe, as Dan Savage said, this is the price of admission. This is the price I pay for being with my wife. I’m fine with it. My wife is a good person and I am fortunate to have found someone like her. Unfortunately, the price I pay is not limited to money. It is also the scope of what I could dream, what I could accomplish.

This is not news, but marriage ties finances. And because finances are tied to another person, instead of considering just one’s self when thinking about the future, a person has to consider their partner. Now, this would be good if the other person can carry their own weight (or even better if they could help out considerably). But it’s a tad problematic if they can’t. My dreams, what I can accomplish, are tied down by the needs of those that are around me. It’s true to varying degrees with everyone who’s married. A husband can’t get that new car he always wanted, or a wife has to give up on her dreams of moving out of their small town. We are all tethered to each other, and I believe, more often than not, it grounds us. It makes our lives more mediocre. Now, imagine if there was another person in the mix, like a deadbeat dad.

Which brings me back to my friend. It seems that he has surrounded himself with people that tie him down financially: his wife, his kids, and now his deadbeat dad. If he was single, with his salary, he could lead a rather exciting life. But because of his social bonds and obligations, he leads what he considers a rather normal, run-of-the-mill life. It is the price of admission for love and family.

Wouldn’t it be great to be a rock? A lonely rock that has more disposable income?

Life without his wife, his kids, even his deadbeat dad, would be more depressing. It’s easy to dream about all the money we could be spending on ourselves, to be free from the responsibility for other people, but it’s not so fun thinking about a life that we don’t share with anyone. I think it’s more realistic to dream about a life where others contribute as much to your life the same way you contribute to theirs. Instead of people tying our dreams down, they make our dreams possible.

I gave him an encouraging sermon, which is basically what this whole entry is about. He was a tad depressed, but really, who’s married and never had stuff like this to worry about?

Then I introduced him to the uplifting music of Elliott Smith.

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Hidden Artists

flowers_tentacles_again

A co-worker quit last week. I believe she was with us for three to four years. We never really had much conversation since I don’t really talk much to the women at work. I think the women here at work are scared of me. (Well, at least one of them was. She left me a note saying she was scared of me right before she left. ) Anyway, this co-worker who left, I really didn’t know much about her other than her being a strict vegetarian. So it was a bit of a surprise that on her last day I find out that she’s also an artist (http://bbkjy.blog.me ). She even has a show on the night of her last day.

Instead of worrying about the wave of downsizing going on in our company, I kept on wondering how I could’ve missed this. How did I not know this person was not an artist as well? Shouldn’t we all sense each other’s presence like the immortals in Highlander? She sure dressed like one.

Do people in the office even know I make art? Would they be just as surprised? Anyway, it was a missed opportunity to get to know an artist. I guess the blame is on me. I should’ve been nicer to the people I work with.

Maybe I’m just a bitter person with a dark hole where my heart should be, but looking at her works, they are a tad saccharine for my taste. But I really do admire her tenacity for drawing and her commitment to a style. She knows what she likes, studies it, and keeps at it. Under the right conditions, her works could be extremely marketable. You’re probably not reading this, Jiyoung, but here’s to your success.

 

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Oh Canada!

Reyes_Joseph_Prized_Buck

I’ve been making images based on nostalgia, based on the Canada I left behind. It’s the Canada back in the 90s and early 2000, the Canada of my early adulthood. To me, it’s become this sort of mystical place that I can never come back to, a Neverland of sorts. But it’s not just me, wishing I was young again. It’s me wishing I belonged somewhere again.

I left Canada years ago and started working overseas. I fell in-love and got married. Canada on the other hand, moved on as well. My sisters all got their own families. My mom died, my dad moved, our dog was sent to the shelter, and our old house was sold. And now, whenever I can still call the country home, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel that way.

Here in South Korea, I can say that I have a home. I have a wife who loves me and my in-laws have welcomed me as their own. But still, this is a country that will never let you forget that you are a foreigner. Even my wife and my in-laws are guilty of this.

And this feeling… the feeling of being an outsider, is why Canada just doesn’t feel quite like home sometimes. I’ve spent too many years overseas that it’s going to take sometime to readjust to Canadian life should I ever move back. It’s going to take sometime before my old friends don’t associate me as “the one who moved overseas.”

In order to rekindle my relationship with the country (first world problems if there ever was one), I started reading books on law and even Aboriginal issues. It was my effort to become a “better Canadian.” Doing so, I re-learned some things, learned many I things I should have known, and appreciated the virtue of earning citizenship, whatever form that may take. Still, the whole exercise was torture. It’s me looking back and wishing things were different, that the nation and I grew together.

Don’t get me wrong. I love many of the things that I got in exchange. I’ve experienced a lot of things that Winnipeg would not have shown me. It’s just that there’s a cold, depressing hole in my psyche looking to be filled by a home, and it’s not quite where I am at the moment.

I remember talking to some kid online years ago. He found me when I had a relatively well-trafficked blog… when I was writing more interesting stuff than this. He lived in some small town in Ohio and said he’s stuck living in such a mind-numbingly boring place. He said it must be good to be able to travel and have amusing stories to blog about. I told him to leave the minute he could. Don’t settle for that factory job and instead find work overseas.

I forgot to tell him not to stay overseas too long.

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Sinking

Octopus

Still here, in the office.

Just realized that many places in the world look the same at 5 in the morning.

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Work, work, work!

Eh_mon

Started working a new part-time job early in the morning. It’s something I could do right before I go to work. I used to work out and maybe watch half a movie in the morning before I go to work, but now I’ll be working right before I go to work. Yay! Can I say the word “work” more or what? Work, work, work!

Actually, it involves helping a bunch of engineers with their conversational ability. It’s been years since I taught anyone anything, so I was kinda dreading it, but so far the good thing is that since it’s early in the morning; it’s over FAST and I could get on with the rest of my day.

It’s been a while since I actually worked two jobs. I had side jobs like writing jobs
and editing jobs before, but nothing like going to different locations and working with different people, etc. Last time I had two jobs was back in university when I used to manage a grocery store during the day then worked for a security company at night. Those days I kept telling myself, “man, I feel like a proper immigrant!,” like that stereotype of Jamaicans having several jobs.

Actually, one of the stereotypes that bug me the most, especially when it comes to talking about immigration and immigrants, is that many immigrants are lazy. Jamaicans, for one reason or another, have gotten away with being believed to be hardworking by some (of course there quite a few other stereotypes about Jamaicans that are contrary to that), but actually many immigrants I come across are some of the hardest working people there is, holding down two or three jobs, any jobs, just to get their kids through school, etc. It’s almost heroic. What I wouldn’t give to have that kind of energy!

The downside to my new schedule is less time for sleep, working out, and
art. It’s going to be a while before I amass enough works for a proper show.
Luckily, I still have a bit of time to be active artistically and was recently
involved in a show both in Korea and in Canada, celebrating the friendship
between the two countries. Yay, multi-tasking!

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