An Obsession

Is there anything that's worth more than peace and love on the planet Earth? 🍁🍂

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I’m going to tell you about something that is a bit silly and a bit embarrassing, but also an undeniable part of who I am.

I attach meaning to things in an incredibly subjective and almost arbitrary way. I ruminate on those meanings, and ruminate, and ruminate, and ruminate, and ruminate, and ruminate until I am able to articulate those meanings and they suddenly become less significant than they were before.

I live on excitement. When it’s 1:00 am and I am dead tired and I have work to do and I would really rather just disappear into the void, I watch videos of Broadway divas slaying the stage until excitement bubbles up inside of me so excessively and uncontrollably that it crowds out any of the lackluster fatigue and nothingness that actually dwells there. It’s a choking feeling that comes from the inside that sends me into convulsions of excitement.

I am obsessive. I live for things and they rule my mind and I let them. I listen to the same album for weeks on repeat without listening to any other music. Those lyrics loop through my head and rule my thoughts the instant I wake up and while I walk to class, shower, brush my teeth, do homework – I become the obsession and it becomes me and I become unsure of who or what I am. Am I an idea? a thought? an action? Am I whatever I believe or want myself to be? Am I the thoughts that run through my mind? Or am I nothing at all, and do these things that I give meaning to comprise who I am? Is it the meaning that creates my identity?

Collegiate existential crises are so cliche but honestly, at this point, they aren’t even crises anymore. I am just a big ball of existential questions and I’m learning to be okay with not knowing the answers. This goes for my future as well. It would be no fun at all to know exactly where I’ll end up in 10 years, so I’m just taking it one day at a time. Even if the days lead me to a cardboard box under a bridge, or the dreaded office job that so many creatives shun.

All this to say, I am thoroughly obsessed with Steven Universe – yes, the children’s cartoon show on Cartoon Network. I would explain to you why I’m so obsessed with it but then my obsession would be logical and reason-based and it would no longer be an obsession. I would be a third-party viewer of the obsession, and I am currently enjoying being wholly submerged in it. I have no desire to lift my head above the water to reason with myself about it. Besides – explaining an obsession generally entails explaining the arbitrary meaning I attach to that thing, and I feel these meanings too deeply to be comfortable wrapping them up in boxes with neat little bows of explanations.

Here’s a list of Steven Universe things that make my heart swell up with bubbly obsession:

  • Filipina actors
  • Deedee Magno Hall’s voice
  • Rebecca Sugar’s voice
  • “Love Like You”
  • “What’s the Use in Feeling Blue”
  • Patti LuPone as a guest star
  • Susan Egan’s voice and she is a real life goddess
  • I love Pearl more than anything
  • “Peace and Love on the Planet Earth”
  • Peridot’s character arc
  • Just everything about Garnet
  • Garnet’s songs
  • Pink and blue color schemes
  • Star eyes
  • Lion
  • The entire “Mr. Greg” episode
  • Honestly just every single scene or song with Pearl in it
  • Relationships
  • Communication
  • Authenticity
  • Simplicity
  • Love
  • Rebecca Sugar is from the same area I’m from, so there are a lot of subconscious elements in the show that just feel like home to me
  • Handling complex themes in a kids’ show that is really helpful to me as a college student
  • The art is so so so beautiful
  • Badass and complex female characters

Well, I wrote about why I didn’t want to explain my obsession or quantify it into words but I did it anyway. Hmm. This list is infinitely incomplete and forever expanding – so it is just a list of a few things that are in my head right now. No explanations on what those things are or what they mean to me.

“Life and death and love and birth and peace and war on the planet Earth. Is there anything that’s worth more than peace and love on the planet Earth?”

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Unedited pretentious ramblings about the struggles of making art

I really just want to watch Steven Universe and I’m so confused about so many things and I’m scared and embarrassed and lonely and insecure. I don’t know who I am, who I am supposed to be, who I am to the people around me that I care so much about yet cannot express to them. I do not know how to kick my ass into gear and actually get some stuff done instead of just sitting and thinking about how I have to do it and the best way to do it. The Elizabethan Hamlet-esque conflict of action vs. inaction, cerebral vs. instinctive, spiritual vs. intellectual is too relatable in the life of a 21st century millennial Asian girl college student.

I long so desperately to create something meaningful, impactful, but most of all true. I long so deeply within me to evoke emotions and ideas and experiences in the humans around me who see my work. I long so desperately to look back on my life and see that I have created beautiful art that means something, impacts people in some way. Yet I do not know where to start. Grand images and scenes and stages play out in my mind in a way that is extremely clear to me, but I do not know how to translate it from my mind to physical space.

I know beauty, I know suffering, I know pain, I know curiosity, I know excitement, I know passion, I know obsession. But I do not know how to express it through words or music or dance or painting or space or structures or lighting, in a way that does it justice.

I long so desperately to make beautiful and important art. But I am so afraid of being bad at making art that I do not even try to make anything.

I think the answer is making ugly art. I need to make as much ugly art as possible and let that teach me how to make beautiful art. For there is beauty in ugliness and quality in quantity and one only refines one’s skills through practice. I must strive to make beautiful art but accept the ugliness that I will make, and trust that hopefully I will someday be able to make beautiful and true art.

As you have probably inferred, I am a fan of polysyndeton – and Ira Glass.

August 14

Truth be told, I do not know what to write. All I know is that I am writing, and that I must write. It is not that I should write, it is that I must write, for there is something within me – or perhaps infinitely external – that compels me to write. Not for the love of writing, but for the innate gnawing instinct that life must be more than consumption and reactions and that writing is the basis of proactive thought, action, and creation. Let my life be more than I fear it will be.

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Days have been interesting. They melt together like the broken halves of butter sticks left at room temperature before baking, and I find myself covered in splotches of flour that I didn’t realize had billowed onto and coated my black leggings. If only I had worn an apron.

People say summer is a great time to rest and grow and recover. I’m starting to believe that they are right. And I look at myself, and I look at what’s left, and I wonder why I never heard the bells when they chimed in the morning along with the sweet singing of birds lost and found, searching and soaring. I wonder why the morning dew never seemed fresh and inviting, why it clung to my skin like the residue of grocery store labels on glass jars.

I try not to look at myself. I try not to see my gangrene toes. If I just ignore it, it will resolve itself, and we will all be better for it.

How does a kitten feel torn from its mother and sisters and brothers to be placed into the grabby hands of a maniacal animal lover desperate to save such a pitiful creature? Does it miss the familiarity of where it came from and the echo chamber of a genetic pool that can’t help but keep to itself, never daring to explore the outside world full of lunatics and monstrosities? Or does it embrace the new, foreign life that it has fallen into? Does it even comprehend the significance of environment and adaptation? Perhaps the kitten is happy to leave its childhood bubble of comfort in hopes of pursuing a more adventurous and independent life in which it may decide who it will be and why. But perhaps this new world is a world that is rainy and dangerous, not suitable for impressionable young kittens.

And yet, perhaps it is that very danger that allows a mewling kitten to become the majestic, roaring tiger it was born to be, that it once was, that lives in its very DNA which has become so complacent. May we all be tigers, and may tigers be all that we dream them to be.

living a meaningful life

i have decided that i must spend more time with myself, thinking things through by myself for myself. i need to make decisions about who i am and what i want and what i’m going to do.

for the past month or so i’ve been mulling over the concept of passion vs. responsibility, or personal achievements & dreams vs. responsibility & helping others. certainly responsibility & helping others is the more selfless, giving, and loving option. as a christian, i definitely have to take that into play. Jesus was definitely extremely generous, giving, and self-sacrificial. so is it self-sacrificial for me to give up on my dreams and settle for a future that will simply help me to be a good citizen and benefit society and hopefully the world in a small way that probably won’t be remembered and won’t leave much of a legacy?

i watched a hank green video the other day about how we all want to matter and be happy and be of significance to the world. he had an extremely interesting opinion that people who change the world never really single-handedly change the world. every single person makes little contributions that all add up to benefit the whole world. so for example we don’t have thomas edison to thank for the light bulb, we have everyone before him who did little things to help change the world to thank for the light bulb as well. i think essentially the point was don’t worry too much about if what you do ends up mattering because our cultural conception of one man’s actions being able to change the world is basically an oversimplification and not accurate.

i found hank green’s view extremely interesting but i’m not sure if i agree with him. i think i need some more time to think this through. i love thinking about the concept of legacy. i’ve become a bit obsessed with what mine will be lately, and listening to hamilton and the story of how alexander hamilton worked and worked and worked for his legacy is most intriguing as well.

the thing is, i know that i can accomplish anything i put my mind to. i just have to decide what it is that i will accomplish. do i try to have fame and fortune or a lasting legacy, or solve world hunger, or raise a family of inspired children who will be able to have infinite opportunities for their own futures?

i want to explore and find meaning for myself, and live an examined life. i want to do what brings me significance and fulfillment, regardless of what society deems as necessary or standard or worthy of praise. this life is mine; i’m going to live it for me. and that perhaps seems selfish but if i personally value being selfless, i’m going to figure out how living to stay true to myself intertwines with the concept of giving and doing things for others and not becoming self-absorbed and lost in my own head.

 

Musical Musings

one of the saddest feelings is knowing that you’ve worn out an album and listening to it will never again bring that feeling of novelty and excitement. this has been on my mind a bit lately because of my (flagrant) musical theatre phase. i wore out phantom, though it has so much ingenuity and complexity that i think i’ll still be able to listen to it sometimes, and i most certainly wore out wicked, love never dies, and hamilton. my “latest flame” (bonus points if you get the reference) is evita, and i am afraid that i have pretty much worn that out too (and only after a few days!). acknowledging that i’ve worn out an album is actually really really really sad for me, because listening to an album is just such an adventure to me. i don’t really know how to describe it but it’s like taking your mind and spirit to a new place and seeing and experiencing all these new things that only appear in dreams and fantasies. it’s amazing and it’s a language that’s so native to me that it feels like home and i don’t really know what else to make of it.

as i was attempting to organize my itunes library today, it really hit me that i find it incredibly difficult to revisit albums & songs – so much of the music that i’ve downloaded gets neglected over time. i find that i listen to songs/albums incessantly for weeks at a time, and then as i wear them out, gradually just stop listening to them. and trying to listen to them again after their initial excitement has worn off just isn’t the same – my brain knows the song too well and is able to predict every note and rhythm and the song becomes boring.

i suppose it’s really, really sad to me because it’s almost like the loss of an old friend, an old friend who shared secrets with you and introduced you to new concepts and had dance parties with you and sat with you on the bus ride home and was there for you when you couldn’t fall asleep at night. an old friend who led you by the hand to a faraway place so amazing and sparkling and bright and unbelievable to you, a mere human, confined by your physicality and gravity.

music has that ability to take you far away while somehow keeping you grounded and i love it so much i love you music don’t ever leave.