we are storytellers


Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!!! I wanted to do an illustration series where I draw the influential Asian-Americans I grew up watching but it’s already halfway through the month and I’ve done exactly zero. So, we’ll try again another time. But other than that, let’s celebrate all things API!

APAHM is a time devoted to lifting each other up. We all have different experiences as APIs—we’re of different generations, have different ancestries and customs, and are all different people. We’re female, male, nonbinary, LGBTQ+. We’re from LA or NY or the Bay and everywhere in between. There is no one API experience, and that means there are an infinite number of stories to tell. Isn’t that exciting?!

This past year has been a whirlwind. We got Crazy Rich Asians, Searching, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and so many others. To be honest, seeing some sort of representation was enough to make me cry happy tears, but it also left me wanting more. Could I relate to these movies? Sure, I guess. But is it possible that there are other stories to be explored? Definitely. And would I love see a TV show about a fourth-generation Japanese-American emo kid who likes frogs and hates dudes? Or about queer APIs? Or the San Gabriel Valley? Hell yeah. And those are just my experiences. There are so many others just waiting to be featured—and they will be, if we keep speaking up.

If you’re API reading this, let your voice be heard. Tell your stories in whatever way you feel comfortable. Draw pictures of your family. Write about that time you felt represented. Make music about what it’s like to live in your city. Cook food that you grew up with. Talk to your parents, siblings, elders. Much of the time, we also live in immigrant communities, where we aren’t the only POC. We interact with others, we blend cultures (eat a lot of great food while we’re at it), and we learn about each other as we live together. This is part of your API experience, too. Share it!

If you’re not API, listen to stories of people who are—as well as other marginalized voices. Find yourself in their experiences, knowing that we’re all just out here trying to make it. Talk to people, engage with others. And if you relate to something, or feel like someone’s work is important, signal boost them!!

We have 16 more days of APAHM, but don’t let it end there. We have the power to share our stories, and we don’t have to rely on a dedicated month to be able to do so. Be loud (I know, we kind of struggle with that sometimes), persist, but also take a nap or a walk when you feel like it’s too much. Then, do it all over again. We got this, y’all.

a happiness exercise


Happy Spring! It’s time for flowers, and bunnies, and renewal of attitudes and outlooks. In celebration, this month, I am posing a few questions to myself. Why do I spend so much time thinking about things I don’t like? What would happen if I spent more time thinking about things I do like? What is so comforting about dwelling in feelings of unhappiness and envy and that thing where you see a picture of a friend on the beach and seethe with rage because you neither have paid time off nor money to travel? Sound like you? Even just a little? Let’s explore.


I saw this meme (I think it’s a meme—I don’t really know the definition of “meme”) and very much related to it. I can easily spend an hour fact checking a stranger’s stupid fucking tweet about how “George Soros is funding the migrant caravan” for the sole purpose of being outraged. I often find myself three years deep into a frenemy’s IG for the umpteenth time, reveling in the grammatical errors or problematic captions, before someone asks me what I’m doing and I put my phone away in shame. Sometimes I find myself plotting revenge against the kid that stole my gel pens in 5thgrade and auctioned them off to the bullies in my class. All normal stuff, right? Except that none of these things are particularly happiness inducing. I asked myself, “does being unhappy really bring me joy?“ My answer was, “I think so.” Okay, follow up question: “What if joy can be sparked by pure joy?”

What even makes me happy? As I ponder the answer, the graphic in the bottom left of this journal page is telling me to “Do What I Love” and that’s both comforting and makes me feel like a hypocrite. What do I love, even? I guess I love fighting with bigots, debunking conservative talking points, and reporting Facebook trolls. Ok, bitch. But what do you reallylove?  What brings you joy without the anger? Without the resentment? Without having to click the “Report for racism, sexism, homophobia, etc…” button online?

I love walking on the beach path across from my house before 7am, right before the sun is coming up and when the air is cool.

I love doing edgework on ice, when I’ve paid $7 for the early bird public session, and the rink is completely empty.

I love drawing cathartic comics about anxiety and gender expression, with the local news playing softly in the background.

I love hiking in forests, where the trees are tall and the sun peeks through as I listen to the “We Bought a Zoo” soundtrack in my earbuds.

I love listening to the West Side Story OST (most notably “Dance at the Gym” and “Cool”) and pretending that I’m a Jet gal, dancing and fighting my way through the streets.

As I write this, it becomes easier to think of things to add to the list, and I already feel more open to joy and calmness. I feel lighter, happier. It’s amazing what a difference  even a gentle shift in mindset can make—how simply thinking about things that bring you bliss can change your attitude. So, just imagine what actually doing the things that make you happy can do. Boy, when I get my ass off this couch, it’s over for y’all.

Whether you feel content, or think you’re in the “the only thing that brings me pleasure is hating my enemies” camp, or even a little of both, I ask you to consider this: What does your list look like? What is your idea of happiness? And can you put yourself in those situations more often (and maybe layoff the twitter fights)?




gift of failure

blog, Uncategorized

I’m gonna be real here. It’s been a rough first quarter of the year, y’all. I was waiting to hear back from three separate things, just to get three separate rejections. Each “no” that came in gave me hope that maybe the next one would be a “yes”. It did not happen, LOL. I was sad (also LOL). But what made me less sad was thinking about how far I’ve come since just one year ago. This time, I was able to step back and say, “That sucks. Okay, next.”

A year ago, this would have crushed me. I know, because it did. And I wrote a zine about it. It seemed like my life was falling apart as others’ were starting to pick up. I cried. I wanted to hide in a dark corner until every negative feeling left my body and sank into the ground. I thought about getting a 9 to 5! Holy shit.

I became tough on myself, vowing to work hard to achieve my goals. I pushed myself to get better. I cut out breaks. I drank a lot of coffee. (Sidenote: one time, I read that James Franco didn’t like to sleep because it was just wasting time, so I did the same, and lasted for like three days before I fell asleep for 14 hours straight) It did not work, and also, I totaled my car.

So, I tried a different approach. Thus, began my mindfulness journey. I meditated daily. I took walks on the beach even though I hate the sand. I did things for fun in between work. I asked the universe for help. Yeah, like The Secret. I manifested that shit, y’all.

Slowly, I began to see change. I began to love my journey, and appreciate that others’ journeys are different than mine. When someone had good news, it wasn’t crushing anymore. Did it suck? Yes, tbh, but it didn’t send me into a depression spiral of “why wasn’t that me I’m a loser!!!” I began to trust myself, and trust the process more. I was able to focus on my goals and my adventure, and how much I was learning and growing.

And I did grow. I became a better writer and illustrator and was… happy?? And my work reflected it.

I wrote a script that was a finalist in multiple competitions. I wrote and illustrated four zines. I went to lunch and coffee and connected with people in my field even when I really didn’t want to leave the apartment. And every time I did something small, I noticed I’d get little rewards. It’s possible I’m reading too much into it, and there’s actually no causality between taking a meeting, and then immediately getting an email saying my zine fest rejection actually turned into an acceptance. But, by treating these as gifts from the universe—gifts I received because I’m taking steps forward and learning—it makes me that much more aware of the li’l good things as I continue to stumble my way around.

Yeah, rejection still sucks, but it doesn’t have to suck that much. We learn, we grow, we move on. Even if it’s after some tears and a playlist full of of sad music. We’ll be okay.

friend love


Friends with benefits?? Remember when that was a thing we used to say? Remember that Justin Timberlake/Mila Kunis movie from 2011? This month, I’m showing love to my friends…who come with benefits like loyalty, the ability to listen, and lots of gossip. Which is, like, way better than using a friend for his dick, in my opinion. But I’ll let you decide.

Cheers to those who got us through the heartbreak. Those who pick us up when our heel gets stuck in a crack and we fall flat on our face on the pier. Those who tell us with ultimate certainty, that teal isn’t our color and will never be. This week, this month, this year, and forever, I want us to be a little extra grateful for our friends. So, here’s a tribute to some of the best there are.

Friends help us out of bad situations. And I’m sure we can name many. For me, my college roommates of three years, Ailsa and Veronica, were there for me constantly. They let me crash in their dorm room the multiple times I locked myself out of mine—when my nocturnal-ass roommate wouldn’t wake up to let me back in. They joined me as we went outside in the middle of the night to practice dance routines, using the reflection in the doors downstairs, hoping no one would complain and/or film us and laugh. They even woke me up every two hours when I got a concussion for a mosh pit, so I didn’t literally die.

Some friends come and go. Sometimes literally. You see, all of my best friends from adolescence moved away, but their impact was lasting.  There was Joyce in second grade, who would invite me to her house, where we took our shoes off at the door and played games upstairs while we ate Asian snacks. She moved about 10 miles east, never to be seen again. There was Patricia in grades four through eight, who loved Supernatural, Motion City Soundtrack, and played the flute. Coincidentally, I loved all of those things, and sat next to her in band, so we were pretty much the same person. She went to a different high school, and I saw her literally once after that at the Santa Anita Mall when we were both home for winter break in college. Then there was Chynna, who I sat with at lunch amongst the anime kids and pokemon players in front of the library in high school. Yes, this happened in high school. We used to sit in her tree house and request “Snakes on a Plane” to be played on KROQ. And then she moved to Arizona. But she sends a hell of a Halloween/holiday card, so what else could I ask for?

Some friends give you all the chisme, like my BFF Gabriel. His grandparents’ house was the place to be in middle and high school, where we’d talk shit in front of The Last Supper painting, without an ounce of guilt. Gabriel is the type that would punch his ex in the face in the most dramatic way possible at a Halloween party and would love to tell the story of how it all went down. I know this because it happened. And he does. Will I ever get VIP seats for the fireworks or Paint the Night after that fiasco? No. But that’s okay.

Some friends start off as enemies, but come around and become your BFF, like Liane. She apparently despised me in middle school (and told me this via a yearbook entry my senior year!!), until we bonded at an all-night fundraising event. And from that point, we’ve been inseparable. She tells it like it is, like when I texted her the third day of college, after I’d taken a nasty shot of vodka, hoping she’d be impressed. She responded that she was very disappointed in me. I was humbled. She also wrapped one of my presents in the same tissue paper I’d given her, which I recycled from a previous gift. That’s how you know your relationship is real.

I urge you to take a quick sec to tell someone you care and appreciate them. Be grateful these friends that have been in your life, and will continue to be, barring an alien invasion or that thing that happened at the end of Infinity War. Forget the dudes and chicks who you aren’t gelling with, and celebrate the ones you’ve been gelling with for years!!!

2019 // no + yes


2018 is gone, and 2019 is here to stay for the next 350 days! Looking back on how my year went, I have so much to be grateful for: connections I’ve made with you all, fests I’ve tabled at, work I’ve accomplished. However, when I reflect on my year, there are things I’d like to work on, as well. There are situations in which I need to put my foot down, but also situations in which I need to leap into with more confidence, and I think we could all benefit from a little of both.

Let’s be honest, I entertained quite a bit of bullshit this year, and I think many of us have.  I’ve let people with questionable morals remain in my life out of courtesy. I’ve cursed their racist tendencies in my head, and never confronting them because that’s not a “polite” thing to do. I’ve devoted far too much energy to seeing what the fuck they’re complaining about now (immigrants and the war on xmas, usually). Not this year. I’m cutting out the toxic people who do not feel that people of color have the same rights as those who shout “’murica” and donate money to a stupid fucking gofundme border wall (that’s totally a scam, btw. Look it up.). 2019 is the year of no talking to racists, no cordial “hellos” to nationalists, and no pretending like I think it’s okay to be a shitty person. I’m done. Rant over.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ve also put myself through a lot of bullshit this year.

I’ve taken on a lot of hours at work when I physically could not function (I entered a dissociative state more times than I’d like to admit). I agreed to plenty of deadlines that put stress on my mind. And then I took on more hours of work because why the hell not? And because of all of this, I was mistakenly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis because there was so much inflammation in my body. A few blood tests, many doctor’s appointments, and an MRI later, I found out that what was causing joint pain was the fact that my mind couldn’t stop racing and I wasn’t staying asleep at night. On the bright side, I figured this out before I aged out of my parents’ health insurance plan, ayyyyy.

So, um, this will have to change.

This year, I will not overwhelm myself by saying “yes” until I end up in fetal position, weighed down by the consequences of my bad decisions. I will have to say “no” to putting others first, like I’ve done for so long. I cannot put myself in harm’s way because I feel obligated to help. I do realize the benefits of lending a hand, but I need to put myself and my body first because if I don’t, I won’t be able to help at all. Because I’ll be dead. Or crying. Probably the latter. And, I think a lot of us are guilty of this—guilty of not caring enough for ourselves and having little to nothing to give to others because of this. But, it’s something that’s so necessary and can lead to us being even more present for our loved ones. Let’s put it this way: no one wants to be saved by a firefighter that’s pulled an all-nighter and is chugging a cold brew while working on an essay due at midnight, while they try to pull you out of a burning building. Especially if both you and said firefighter have the cheapest catastrophic insurance plans that cover literally nothing because neither of y’all can afford anything else. Let’s take care of ourselves this year.

Now, there is so much I have to be grateful for. I wrote scripts. I made zines. I was acknowledged for both. I saved money. I donated money to causes I care about. I spent money on things I wanted. I meditated. I felt like I had a purpose for the first time. I got a flu shot even though I was scared. I took walks when I wanted to run, but my body felt like it was eating itself. I ate good food.

I want to do more of this in 2019. I want to say “yes” to things that enrich my life. Yes to things that benefit my body and mind, even when that means I have to take a break. Yes to taking more deep breaths. Yes to sleep. Yes to friends. Yes to cats. Yes to tea. Yes to reading. Yes to talking to my spirit guides. Yes to happiness. Yes to joy. And yes to so much more. I think we can all try to do a li’l of this.

Holiday (Self) Love


The ho-ho-holidays are upon us! Reindeer! Jingle Bells! Food for literal days because you’re poor and have to ration the leftovers from your family gathering! To be honest, though, as I’ve gotten older, this time of year has started to feel less magical and more like a constant source of stress. I feel stretched out in every direction, whether it’s figuring out how to split time between my family and my partner’s, how I can buy gifts with the zero money I have, or even just worrying about work hours. It’s exhausting, and it makes what was once my favorite time of the year feel like something that’s trying to break me.

The holidays used to be a time when I’d get weeks off from school, a chance to catch up on the “Gossip Girl” or “Supernatural” episodes I missed, and an opportunity to dress nicely and eat a bunch of food in someone’s home with my extended family. It was amazing. Magical. It never felt like it lasted long enough. Now, I feel like I’m trying to budget my non-existent money to afford gifts for everyone on my list on top of trying to organize my schedule to accommodate everyone, all while picking up shifts at work to mitigate the fact that I am both broke af and am maybe looking for an excuse to not attend certain holiday functions.

So, basically, I dread the holidays now lol. Everything I used to look forward to feels like it’s turned on me and is now trying to feed off my misery. But, like, I get it. As we get older and take on more responsibilities, whether that be at work or in other peoples’ lives, the holidays can feel like they’re less about that warm feeling of togetherness and peppermint mocha, and more about how to survive a couple days of panicked shopping, or in-laws, or thinking about how you have to go work on Christmas Eve or on the 26th. For many of us, Christmas can start to feel like just another day to get through.

But, what if it didn’t have to be? What if you could wake up and be excited about presents and family and food (mostly food)? What if you could, instead of expending energy wishing you could be a hermit, enjoy the magic and wonder of the holidays?

This year, instead of thinking about everything swirling in your head, I’m going to try to do just this.

For me, this means that I will try to be aware of what is happening in the moment and showing gratitude for what I have. Rather than think about how early I have to wake up for work the next day and letting that make me sad, I’m going to focus on how much I enjoy being around my loved ones. I am going to listen and have conversations with my family as we sit around the table eating dim sum out of Styrofoam containers instead of worrying about what my partner’s family thinks of my not being with them. I am going to make a gingerbread house while listening to the Hanson Christmas CD (or my curated self-care holiday playlist). I am going to appreciate the holidays and the joy they bring me again!!!

Showing gratitude for the things you are surrounded by is a mood booster like no other, and can help when things start to feel overwhelming. Also, if all else fails, my former therapist told me to find a small dark corner and hide whenever I feel like I want to cry or combust. So, that might work, too.

thankful // zine fest edition


My zine fest season is officially done!!! Whew. I am so, so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to travel up and down the California coast this year.

When this whole thing started about a year and a half ago, this didn’t even seem like a possibility. At my very first fest, all I had was my li’l copies of Wallagalore, some business cards, and a whole lot of self doubt. Fast-forward to my last fest in Pomona, and I had six (?!) published works, an actual tablecloth, a candy dish, and the same self doubt!!! I have grown immensely as an illustrator, storyteller, and human. I have met tons of talented artists. I have explained to a white man why the fetishization of Asian women is wrong. I feel like I’ve done everything and nothing at the same time and it is all so exciting!

But before looking forward to next year, some thanks are in order.


Everyone who puts on these events is amazing. Each fest I attended was so well organized and everyone was incredibly welcoming, even though things get hectic during check-in. In my entire life, I organized one event for 75 people, and wanted to curl up into a ball and cry, so I know this shit ain’t easy. Cheers to those who dedicate their time to organizing such large groups of weirdo artists!


Meeting people is awkward. Being assigned a tablemate that you don’t know is awkward. People who make art are awkward. Put all of these things together, and you have a good idea of what zine fests are like. That’s just real, especially for me—an introvert that would rather check every room on every floor of a building before I ask someone where the bathroom is. But what’s also real is that I’ve made some fantastic connections as a vendor.

I started making things to express very specific things I was feeling, like having to eat a ketchup sandwich at age 23 because I couldn’t afford lunch. What I didn’t expect was that something so specific to my life would also ring true in other people’s lives. And what was even more unexpected is that I would… gulp… be able to talk to strangers about how weirdly similar our lives are. Am I still afraid of people? Yes. But do I now know that people at fests are good folks who make great art? Yes, definitely!

My family and friends are my biggest fans, for real. If you’re reading this, and have come out to an event to hang out with me or bought something from me, you are officially the best. My friends have showed up at the farthest, most random fests I’ve tabled at. They’ve driven through the desert to get to Joshua Tree and risked getting stuck in a sand dune like half of the vendors did. They’ve found me in the middle of San Francisco, where I was surrounded by waaaay cool Bay Area creators, and one-hundred percent not expecting it to be freezing cold. They’ve been the first to order from me when I announce a new project. They’ve just been there.

My mom volunteers to buy me things I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford, like a rolling cart (I was literally storing everything in an old cardboard box that was falling apart) and a folding table when I was freaking out about how to even get one.  She even showed up at a fest and bought out most of my inventory on what was otherwise a slow, kind of depressing day.

My partner has traveled with me to all of my events, and acts like it’s nothing to drive me, carry all my shit inside, and then go hide somewhere for 8 hours because I don’t want a white man trying to sell my books about Asian-American identity.

Without this core group of people, I’d be lost and sad and would become hungry and grumpy at fests, and I just really, really appreciate them. So, if you’re reading this, thank you times a million!!

For now, I’m going into hiding for a little to recharge while I reflect on how everything ran this year. I’m planning to draw and write and paint and read and go to Disneyland to eat. I have some projects in the works that I am super excited about. I also have some stuff that I’ve been putting off that I am not so excited about. I feel overwhelmed and underwhelmed and everything in between. But most of all, I am thankful for all that has happened, and can’t wait to do it again next year!

Spooky Silly


I take Halloween very seriously. If a costume requires a custom sweater not sold in stores, I’ll sew it (by hand, because I don’t know how to use a sewing machine). If a character is blonde, you bet I’ll be in a wig even though I have an abnormally large head and even simple headbands give me headaches. And, if I’m Walter White, of course I’m going to walk around with dime bags filled with blue rock candy that I had to buy in bulk somewhere in Commerce. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone that takes this beautiful, should-be-national-holiday more seriously than I do. Unless that person is, like, a literal ghost or something.

I haven’t always been like this. In fact, I used to despise Halloween. In Kindergarten, I was Sailor Moon and dressed up in this fabulous outfit that my grandma sewed for me. I liked the clothes, but refused to wear the wig (26-year-old-me is disappointed rn). It got worse from there. As I got older, I began to think that dressing up was lame and only did it so I could go trick-or-treating. Thus, began a long string of forgettable, store-bought costumes that I chose based on how “normal” they looked. (Though, I was Helena from the My Chemical Romance music video once. Kinda proud of that one.) I prided myself on being mature and serious, and Halloween just didn’t fit that aesthetic.

Then, something changed. In college, I started watching this super low-key, cult-fave show called “Adventure Time.” I was obsessed. It was so weird and unique and just… silly. Watching it made me feel like it was okay to have fun—that it was good to not take oneself to seriously all the time. It’s fitting that my first real attempt at making a costume was when I grabbed a blue shirt, green felt, and puffy paint (also, a hand-sewn white hat from Etsy) and made this:


I let go of whatever was holding me back. I didn’t care about what others thought. I had fun. I felt free. And I didn’t look back. The next few Halloweens consisted of me dressing up as Walter White from Breaking Bad (yes, with blue rock candy), Mabel and Wendy from Gravity Falls (I also sewed a giant mistakenly two-legged Waddles), Sadie from Steven Universe, and most recently, Webby from Ducktales. I looked for any occasion to be in costume whether it was at Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland or Comic-Con or just… life in general.

I adore the silliness of Halloween and am grateful to have a day dedicated to being creative and leaving all the stress in your everyday jean pockets back at home. I enjoy planning months in advance for what I’m going to make and what wig I’m going to buy and what shoes I can make use of. I find satisfaction in standing in the middle of a thirft store, looking at a still from an animated cartoon and trying to figure out how I can recreate that in real life. I love going out and seeing what others have managed to do with their costumes and how much fun they’re having. Halloween is truly a time of inspiration for me, and I’m so glad I was able to stop worrying about being cool and started worrying more about if my skirt is the same exact shade of purple as it is on a 13-year-old animated character.

What are some of your favorite Halloween costumes? And what are you doing this year? Let me know!


blog, Uncategorized

It’s time to take action. I’ve been talking a lot about ideas and things that make sense theoretically, but I think now’s the time we work on making things happen.

I’m a goal-driven person, and always have been. One time, in first grade, we had a “fun” competition in which we were supposed to read and report on as many books as we could. I stayed up all night for a week, reading any book I could get my hands on, fueled by my desire to be the best. Well, I came in second place. As a result, I was the second person that got to pick a special prize from the treasure trove of first grade wonder. I chose an out-of-the-plastic-bag Beanie Baby from McDonald’s. I’m sure there were better prizes (mostly because my teacher was like, “are you sure about that?”), but it didn’t matter. I set a goal, didn’t quite make it, and was rewarded with sweet, french-fry-scented Beanie Baby loot.

The same thing happened in sixth grade band, when we had an assignment to draw as many treble clefs as we could in a week. I wanted to do 1000, so I spent all of my free time drawing the little squiggles on college-ruled paper. I ended up doing 12,060. Yes, twelve-thousand. And sixty. My prize was a “what the fuck you weren’t supposed to take it that seriously” look from my teacher, and, like, 500 chewy fruit candies I got poured into my arms in front of the class. I like having goals. I like doing better than I set out to do. And I maybe kind of like to win. Embarrassingly so.

That being said, this month, I’m back on my bullshit, setting goals and motivated to accomplish things. I wish I could say I’m tackling them like I did in first and sixth grade, but honestly, those goals were achieved in a tornado of anxiety that someone was going to be better than me, and I maybe don’t want to be in that headspace again.

My goals today concern my wellness and growth, and instead of working as fast as a 6/12 year old possibly can, I am taking it slow, micro, and allowing room for/and even welcoming error. I feel like I’ve been thinking about so many things in a strange, cerebral way without actually trying to change or improve, mostly because I so easily forget about things, but also because sometimes goals are overwhelming—especially ones that concern big ideas where you might not even know where to start. So, this time, I’m taking those ideas and distilling them down to small, manageable, physical things I can do every day (erm… every day I remember to do them, that is).

I want to practice compassion.
I think I’m a nice, pleasant person that lacks patience. It’s a tall task to ask myself to empathize with every stranger’s every situation, but it’s more manageable to stop myself from rolling my eyes at the person in front of me at the post office that didn’t put a zip code on their package. I also want to be more compassionate to non-humans. It’s easy to smile at dogs and pet cats only when they want to be pet (but is it, really??), but what’s even more conducive to my goal is to not kill bugs in the apartment, and instead, trap them under a cup and toss them outside (gently).

I want to be more present.
Ah, the goal of every basic girl that has a lotus tattoo and posts pictures in yoga poses on IG. But, I really do seek to be more present for people. I’ve noticed that during most of my conversations, I am thinking about the past, present, future, my dinner, and wondering how long until I can walk away. This leaves me feeling guilty, and wishing I had taken the time to truly connect with that person. Luckily, this can be remedied by listening with intent. I want to slow down, make eye contact, and listen with no ulterior motives or distractions, knowing that the veggie stir fry I want to think about can wait until the conversation is over and the moment has passed.

I want to grow as an artist.
The OC and SF trips really inspired me to experiment more with that I’m drawing and writing and making. It seems that every time I feel inspired, I don’t quite act on it, and end up forgetting I was ever interested in watercolor painting or abstract drawing or doing anything that I don’t usually do. But hey, now that I’m putting it out there, let’s get into it. I am going to draw more. I am going to look at more work by different artists. I am going to read new things. I am going to keep a notebook and pen handy everywhere I go, and not just in my purse shaped like a strawberry.

If you also have goals and have a plan to achieve them, I’d love to hear! Or, like, not, if you’re uncomfortable with sharing. But I think we’re on the right track here. Let’s get going.

fresh predicament


I’m back! This past month, got a few (eight—unprecedented!) days off from work, did some light traveling, and came back with a clear head. For so long, I’d been weighed down by constant work to be done, fatigue, and overall feelings of un-wellness that I thought I could outrun by doing more. That didn’t work lol. But what did work was taking a little break from all of that stress. Though, it did also create a whole separate issue.

BUT FIRST, the trip!

Every year, my extended family holds a reunion, and this year it was in the San Diego area. This is one of the highlights of my year, not only because it’s an excuse to take off from work, but also because my family is kind of great?? It’s always a week of little stress and even less sleep, but that’s okay. This year, it arrived at the perfect time, right when I needed to get away from the toxic people in my life and surround myself with the opposite.

The following week, I went back to San Diego, but this time, it was for another annual event—Comic-Con! This is easily my favorite thing that I do all year, and this time did not disappoint. We got to see friends, buy a lot of cool (Peanuts!) stuff, and meet new friends. And—this was extremely special—we got to reconnect with Leonard Maltin. In addition to being a fantastic film critic, he’s also an adjunct professor at USC, where my partner and I met. In our senior year, we both took Mr. Maltin’s film symposium class, and long story short, that’s why we’re together today. That, plus listening to a handful of my favorite creatives talk about their work, left me feeling excited to tackle all of my projects I’d left behind. I was SO ready.

However, I came back to find that I was not faced with a different problem. Apparently, a clear head and happiness are maybe not as conducive to making sad girl things as I’d have liked. I’d been so used to being inspired by being sad, looking sad, and acting sad. It’s kind of my thing. To not by consumed by negative feelings was a weird thing. I felt that I lacked inspiration to make things I wanted to make. I was emotionally content, sure, but not content with the lack of emo girl work being produced.

So, I sat for long periods of time. I watched the news and waited to feel sad about the decline of the country, but felt more inspired to create change. I scrolled through my IG feed, looking to feel both jealous and disgusted at the amount of superficial frenemies I choose to surround myself with, but I ended up just shrugging it off. I sought out toxic people on social media to look for reasons to be upset, but ended up coming to the conclusion that we are all just people who want the best for ourselves and our loved ones, even if some people are, like, dumb af. Like, who am I? Who is this calm adult that doesn’t pick fights and call idiots out? I was getting frustrated with myself because, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t find it in me to be bothered. And thus, I didn’t feel that seething, “I hate the world” drive to make the kind of work I’m so used to putting out.

So, I sat again. I thought about what was stopping me, exactly. I’d been so used to taking my negative energy and channeling it into something else that I’d made it seem impossible to produce work any other way. Now that these feelings and the immediacy were gone, I felt stuck. As a person that has relied on emo tendencies to get shit done for the past 15 years, I felt like I suddenly didn’t have anything to talk about.

But the thing is, those feelings don’t just disappear. I still remember writing sad poems about getting threatened by a bully in seventh grade because I talked to her scene kid crush on Myspace. I can recall every time I’d accidentally read the comments section and cried because people are actually evil, especially when they’re on the internet and anonymous. And in the future, I’m still going to face rejection that makes me question my career choice and entire existence. The feelings will always be there. My inner emo kid is always here and accessible, even if I’m currently not feeling sad and lonely and disappointed and like I want to scream into a microphone about death and/or heartbreak.

The past couple weeks, I’ve been looking for new inspiration that doesn’t require that I feel like the world is ending. I’ve been walking a lot. I’ve been exploring the idea of compassion and how to make it cool. I’ve been watching Sailor Moon. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be sad to write sad things. Sure, it’s easier to make things when I’m hurting. And no, this doesn’t mean that I must suffer to get things done. But damn, I do like being dramatic.