I had so much planned and set out for the week starting today.
But I had insomnia last night and I was able to sleep only around 3AM. I was puzzled, to be honest, because I had no immediate worries that would have normally kept me awake, and I had tired myself out the whole day with various productive tasks. (I briefly imagined it was because someone, anyone, was restlessly thinking of me and missing me... but I was too tired to laugh.)
I got up the usual early morning (in my book that would be any time before 9AM) despite my late sleep. But after lunch I started feeling a little unwell and had to take myself to bed. Then I fell asleep for four hours straight and had such vivid dreams like those that visit at night. When I woke up I have a migraine, and I feel storm-battered inside.
So maybe I should just rest the rest of the day. The most productive thing I’ll do is read (and catch up on my asian dramas). And write in my journal. And daily checklist. That’s all. I promise. I really do need to be in full energy mode to move my mountains. I need to move my mountains to heal my ever broken heart.
The way to a finished piece is a series of many steps — experiments, trials, errors — and in the process a continuous honing of the hand to better capture the impossibilities and pull them into tangibility.
I need a lot of warm-ups though because it’s been a while since I sat down long enough to really pour hours into drawing and painting.
First I played with a potential new website header.
I finally got around to drawing a pattern design to try to print on fabric and giftwrapping paper.
Meanwhile the first page of one of the books has been brewing in my head and to get to it, or to get it to flow into my hand onto paper I must undergo the longish process of drawing many seemingly unrelated pieces until I find myself where I need and want to be. I really don’t have the habit of doing rough drafts of the same thing. I make full different pieces varying in degrees of complexity and subject depth. Mainly to get me in the flow of movements (of lines, shapes, curves) and colours. This is why I also need a chunk of time to sit and just do the drawing and painting. The sneak-15-minutes strategy does not work for me. And that is why a dayjob can take so much toll on me because it takes up all the useful hours of a day.
But this week I will only have one or two required meetings and the rest will be work at home so I can reclaim hours that would have been wasted on road traffic (that’ll be about 3-4 hours + 1 for the trouble of getting all dressed up = 4-5 hours LOST PER DAY).
Today I also deliberately made myself rest — as in lie in bed just resting and reading. I realised I haven’t really given myself a proper rest day as I’ve been focused on catching up with studio and creative work. If I don’t rest properly I also burn out even when making art.
I didn’t get to go on an Artist Date this weekend. The tax collector came yesterday and took a painful bite of my cash funds 😭
On a happy note: no dayjob work tomorrow morning. There might be in the afternoon but there’s also the possibility it’ll be moved on Tuesday. Still, nothing for Monday morning which means I can sleep without the stress of an alarm waking me up. 😊
It's a remarkable significant feeling. The worst is over. Of that one particular broken story. The Wildforest has taken me through the worst, kept me together, gathered my broken selves. The magic remains true. The magic becomes ever stronger. I will not carry any sadness into my new year. I will indeed celebrate Dia De Los Corazones Muertos and bring forth a creation to balance all the heart deaths that have ever hounded me.
This time one year ago, I wrote this poem (which will soon be part of a collection that I will publish soon):
One year after, I have faces and names, I have had the hard truths and the silent battles that raged -- invisible skirmishes that fatally wounded. I have quelled the wildfires, stemmed the floods, though there will always be devastations. Ruins to be rebuilt or left to rest in peace and in pieces.
One year after, a month before my very own new year of life, I am at the ending of a tale that is also a beginning. I spiral to the start, everything is the same yet everything is changed. Rules are remade, they will be broken again and again. Love will show up in its many tricky guises. I will continue to be brave, and love anyway.
It was a no-dayjob-work day yesterday, so I was really in a good mood when I woke up in the morning. I made progress in fixing the tiny studio (which has gained some extra space after a few pieces of furniture were moved about and also because I sold my fridge that was the last object of my long-past independent condo living).
I got to write a full entry in my journal which naturally allowed it to talk back to me:
I got to print all my index card notes for the smallpoemstorybook that has been titled "Blue Heart Boy & Impossible Love Stories", in the process of which I found I have more than enough to come up with two books, the second titled "The Graves of Possibilities", which was already hinted at by my recent entry in Stories that bubbled up from the swamp of memories.
I got to finish the large painting I started on Christmas eve. This one is titled "Kintsugi". Oh, the sheer joy of finally getting to paint!
Following the flow, I set up a larger blank board for my next big painting. But I'll also be working simultaneously with small and medium ones on the other painting table.
I finally got to start putting together my belated tokens for my patrons and the tribe. Discovered I will have to do a mini-production run because a lot of items I have been meaning to gift were actually sold out over the holidays even after the pop-ups (there were many separate requests and orders through direct messages in social media). I haven't even started on reviving my Etsy for 2018 yet.
Today I will draft something for the Sketchbook Project and also draft something for Blue Heart Boy.
Yesterday I sent a nervous application for a booth at the art market at the Manila Biennale. It's a bit of an ambitious move because I'll be exposing my work to a supposedly more discerning market. I also plan to avail of a day-pass to see the exhibits themselves, learn new things, maybe fall into a few serendipitous encounters. I remember now, one of the best advice that got me to where I am now: Keep Showing Up.
I had to turn down an invitation to join a bazaar this month because of dayjob work conflict. But I am considering taking on another invitation to share and teach art skills in an art event -- still waiting for details and if the offer is still on because the message was stuck in the hidden inbox of my Instagram and it's a week old.
Today I was touched by a thoughtful tagged post in Twitter that made me feel I am not invisible after all.
I finished reading my first book towards my Goodreads Reading Challenge. The reading groove is definitely totally back (I lost it halfway through last year because for a while no book could get through to me -- I realise it could be because a book was trying to come out... The content of Blue Heart Boy was begun in July and for the rest of the year was a period of eruption, like a centuries-quiet volcano finally losing its temper. The drafts for Stories were also spewed out within that time.)
Today I might go on an Artist Date -- or maybe I'll go tomorrow. Let's see how the day unfolds.
I feel a bit bad about not being able to do any creative thing last night and the night before because I was so tired.
Yesterday morning I purchased these books for consolation.
I've started reading both, as well as made progress on Sabriel which I might finish tonight because, oh joy, I won't have to work tomorrow (although tons of personal and studio errands have piled up and must be done then).
The dayjob will ease a bit in the coming week as the sessions that require me to travel to the toxically congested business district (and which is causing me unreasonable ridiculous transport expenses) will end for a period while the project goes into fieldwork mode. My role will be more as support than main so I'll be working from home.
It was a really good and lucky thing then that the deadline for the Sketchbook Project was moved to April because I will only get to seriously start on it this weekend.
By next week I should be able to go to the post office to send out my tokens for patrons and tribe. (Which means this weekend I should finish all the reprinting and packing -- I will have to reprint items that were sold out but which I had planned to give as tokens.)
I got an extra hour reprieve today. We start at the office one hour later than the usual. Now I no longer regret the extra half hour I snoozed after the alarm went off.
I almost feel celebratory that today is my last dayjob workday for the week so I'm thinking about taking myself to dinner but then I'm also thinking I should maybe just put that dinner money into that very large canvas from Craft Carrot. (Sometimes this either/or day-to-day can get tiring. And I think it's quite depressing that I can't have both yet I can easily lose/not get both. I can't have everything but I can have nothing. And then layer on the complication of somehow always being the one not chosen. I mean, no one even wants to have me...)
Alright, small side rant over. It's too early morning and I'm only halfway through my coffee...
I'll do a brighter blog post next. I promise!
This was an almost in 2017 but I intend to make it true by 2018. There is more than enough material, inspired and seeded particularly during the latter half of last year. I only need the munny funds to get the book itself over that final hurdle of getting printed.
Last night the title came to me and I wrote it down this morning.
This morning I also thumbed through my file folder of printed poems and marked some for possible inclusion in the book. I am pleasantly surprised to see the Stories of the Impossible Garden & The Wildforest starting even way before I even recognised them. It has been a long and slow growth that is only showing its leaves, flowers, and fruits now. For many years there have only been bare hard thorned branches.
Currently I am unable to do proper studio work because of dayjob work, and the dayjob work has been taking too much from me. There really has to be a better way of making munny by doing something I love instead of simply doing default.
Just today I only did about three and a half ours of dayjob in an office but they were hard and intense and not just a little stressful. Traffic was back to normal which meant bad so I spent an hour on the road going home. When I got home I had an early dinner because the work took a particularly heavy toll and right after I fell asleep for two hours. Up again to resume whatever's left of the evening but I'm only just half-awake and feeling painfully exhausted. I want to do a number of things but I am exhausted. I still have to wake up early tomorrow to do work at home for the whole of the morning in preparation for another hard and intense afternoon work session in an office.
I can't read or even stay alert enough for a drama episode. My eyes fall asleep. I stayed up late last night to finish the slides for the work because one part of it took a chunk of time to get done, and yesterday I insisted on reclaiming a few hours of the morning to have a proper journal writing time which pushed the dayjob task in the afternoon and well into the very late evening. There is just no way of peaceful and fair co-existence for the art and the dayjob. And art often gets the short end of the stick.
But I like to believe that given recent turns of events I may be able to further fix how I do my dayjob, until such time that I won't have to do it anymore because the art and the writing will cover the munny-making too.
I should revive my Patreon campaign and reactivate the shops -- all part of studio work that I couldn't get into at the moment because of dayjob! Aaaaaagh!
Alright, my eyes are shutting down on me so I'll end this. But do mark this day when I promised a book in 2018 -- even if I have to home-print the first few copies myself!
Oh dearest gods, I am home and it is FRIDAY. I am finally home and will be for the next three days at least (although I have to do dayjob work on Monday but at least it will be at home). The waking-up early and getting dressed up and reporting for work in an office for too many consecutive days have begun to really wear me out.
With barely any real break I survived through the holiday pop-ups, then an intense dayjob week just before Christmas and then all the busy-ness of Christmas & New Year and straight to another intense dayjob week as soon as January 2 peeked in. I have one more week of reporting for office work and then the rest of January will mostly be (hopefully) work-at-home but the tasks will be no less intense as I'll likely be allotting a minimum of 8 hours per workday.
Studio work has been on full stop and it's been chafing at me. At least I did manage to launch Stories (do check it out if you haven't already) and I've managed to post something new everyday since its Day 1.
Writing was easier to slip in than painting so on a positive note I did get to write something everyday. My Twitter is probably the closest to the behind-the-scenes of where my art is rooted, the less polished expressions, occasional spontaneous outpourings, more raw but no less true, more vulnerable but no less brave. I actually do not share much of my Twitter posts on other social media as I treat it more like a cauldron and green house of ideas and projects, not yet for full public consumption and promotion. Many of my poetry see first light there. The anonymous audience is a perfect "other" to tell and share certain Things with, without having to worry about getting tiresome or burdensome as I would with people I know and who know me.
Another good note: I've gotten reading back into the daily routine. I'm currently on:
I'm itching to get back to shop work. My Etsy needs a full update on products, and I also need to make more products. Today I read a message inviting me to participate in a week-long bazaar (up North again) but it's going to be within the dayjob project period so I'll see if I can at least maybe just do selected days (although the preparations will likely kill me on top of the dayjob tasks).
2018 has been okay so far. I'm looking forward to tomorrow when I meet up with a friend to see Star Wars (and really looking forward to see Kylo Ren...) and also eager for the catch-up conversation after (with food). I'll probably tuck in an Artist Date after IF we don't end up forgetting about time.
Other things I hope to get to do this weekend:
If you look up at the main menu above you'll notice a link to STORIES.
What are they?
STORIES are what happen in the Impossible Garden & the Wildforest. They are the overheard conversations, the gossip of the flowers and the trees, the fragments written on bones and stones. They are the secrets whispered by the wind, the tales of the stars, the knowledge earned or traded with the forest dwellers. They are the fairy tales that had been forgotten or never told. They are the rules and the history and how they are repeatedly broken and rewritten. They are the murmurings of magic, the language of hidden love, the wildness beneath every order and the pattern beneath every chaos. They are truths and they are lies and in the end they are real to those who have the heart to see.
What can you expect?
Poems. Snippets of beginnings, middles, and endings. Conversations. Expect the logic and sequence of dreams. A lot of tangles as well as a lot of loose ends. Seeds and bones and questions. Oblique answers. Ramblings and meanderings. Unsent letters. Secrets. Spells and curses. Dreamtellings. The occasional prophecy. Glimpses and clues. Light and shadows. May not always be agreeable or pleasant. Lots of magic, certainly.
So "real life" here in the blog and true life in Stories. At some point portions of the Stories will be gathered into illustrated / handlettered books so that will be something to look forward to. All Stories are original and from my own direct experience as a dweller and keeper of the Garden and the Wildforest. All my art are inspired by the Garden and the Wildforest, and often my art and my stories will merge. This is the way of Things and the way of my creation.
The voices in Stories are not always mine. Sometimes my fellow forest dwellers will speak. Sometimes I will merely write down what I have been told. It should not matter. The Stories are all true, they all come from a true place and a true heart.
Read on at the risk of believing in magic and the impossible. May you find favour among the odd.
I'm sick. The works : colds, cough, headache, and a fever that's been trying to get a foothold, slowly inching into me, burning up resistance as it goes. I gave up trying to be valiant and productive, and went to bed after lunch.
This morning I've printed out most of the notecards for the smallstorypoembook. It's well over two hundred notes. But each note/page is mostly a few lines of poetry, and some illustrations. The whole book is a love letter of sorts, addressed to absent persons who are really just one person, who is still an unknown stranger, wandering in the parts of the wildforest where I have yet to lay claim and power. It's heartwork, this smallstorypoembook. It cannot be put aside to wait. It has to be made. It has to be.
I'm exhausted by Duty. As always. I have dayjob work to do that I could not do with the little time left to me for the holiday break. I may have to spend my first day of the New Year doing the dayjob work. Or if I'm still too sick then I will just have to find another way to get it done.
But despite my state now, my heart is fortified. A friend posted a question on his timeline: what is your takeaway from 2017?
Be brave, and love anyway.
And in my Twitter feed I threw out a challenge for the new year:
I dare you
The Stendhal reference is from something I picked up in Helen Oyeyemi's book of short stories. It was mentioned that according to Stendhal (a French writer from the early 1800s), it takes about one year and a half to fall in love.
I wrap up this last entry of 2017 with a quote from Paulo Coehlo. I'm going back to bed. I'll see you next year.
I have a lot of Stories to tell.
But right now I am about to begin my third and last pop-up for the year, and right after that I have to do one last dayjob hurrah for the year so --
I will be able to start telling the Stories just before Christmas. Possibly on the very eve of it.
Clues? You want a preview? Well, let's see.
I made this new signage for my pop-up shop which captures a direction that my art is exploring (and that opens up a whole new acre of Garden that tangles up with the Wildforest).
Two recent pieces echo this.
And which actually grew from having to make a lot of bookmarks that carry the seeds of this storytelling. And which was also further impressed by the serendipitous finding of a secondhand copy of Frida Kahlo's biography (from the first pop-up) and watching (and being enchanted by the scenes of) Coco (an unexpected occasion as I was trying to puzzle through an unexpected thing from the second pop-up). (Yes, the pop-ups turned out to be extremely eventful.)
So here I am on the third pop-up. So much changed. If I time-travelled to the point of Before which was Before The First Pop-Up I would not even be able to begin to imagine the breadth and depth of all these Possibilities now at hand. I will tell that Story soon, on how I crossed the borders of Before & After.
Here's another preview.
I started a series of paintings. The first one is titled Lovestruck. It is another exploration of another path in the Garden, and I feel that this path will meet with the other, and the Wildforest will feel the rumble of deeper magic awakening.
I've also written a whole chapbook-worthy set of poems, closely related to the Lovestruck series. The only thing I can say about this is this: the seeds for these poems were only possible because I said Yes to one thing that led to another and another and another.
It's a bit of a mess really. A beautiful terrible mess.
Alright. I have to go for now.
Let me close this post with a quote.
The other day I found out that my garden home has sprouted moth wings, and that it has raven's feet.
Which was a timely evolution because The Impossible Garden & the Wildforest now uproot themselves to claim territory.
Next weekend, far into the northern part of the metrocity, the Garden will display its blooms. For the first time (not counting last year's very small stint where we got dismissed as merely playing at arting and crafting), I will be taking the heart-fire with me to be seen. Not just a sampling, not just a suggestion. I'm going for unapologetic declaration of existence.
For details on this event please visit the event page.
I'll be selling, yes. But I have to set my sights beyond the financial rewards (though direly needed) and make the most of the intangible chances to plant the wildforest wherever possible.
The past week has been a whirlwind of planning and preparations. This week is all-out chaos.
The pressure is multiplied by my sending in an application for another event at the end of the month. I was thinking, make the most of the investments by doing more than one show.
The divine and the devil are in the details.
This particular path in my journey has cornered me into making all the small decisions that need making that I have been putting off for one reason or another including "surely that's not going to make much of a difference today" and "I want to do something more dramatic".
Yet the lesson is that the dramatic is reached through the build-up of seemingly small, weak, inconsequential, insignificant steps. Then you realise that the steps may be small but also strong, consequential, and significant.
I was also holding back at first on the "investments". But if I hold back just because of fears of not having enough munny means I'm thinking, even believing, that the munny would be wasted and would not bring back anything of any value. It also means I am restraining the full blooming of the Garden. It means I will not be as true as I claim I want to be.
This whole process took days, weeks. The epiphanies were not fireworks but solitary fireflies on a dark night that I just happen to look out the window, easily missed if I was not paying attention.
Every day there were decisions and choices. Every day there were doubts. Every day I saw on social media how everyone else was simply doing the safe and straight and secure thing and my thoughts would turn to how I cannot even be certain of meeting next month's rent. I would start imagining going back to employed work and the cycle of my body getting physically sick begins at the mere suggestion.
Then I will flail around in that dark abyss of eternal doubt and fear until my hands find my heart and grasp the tender branches growing there and I begin to smell the scent of flowers and I realise that in the abyss I am held by the roots of the forest. And all I had to do was breathe deeply and stop struggling and let the trees bring me back.
Possibly a consequence of suddenly finding rest and refuge in the act of painting without ulterior motives.
The long sleep brought me a dream story about a person who became what he needed. He was beautiful and strange and filled with so many secrets. In the dream story he was my closest friend and he was also the farthest. I was the one who protected his becoming from the onslaught of Things that would destroy him. And then when he was all that he ever wanted I braced myself to let him go. I had no claim and I hid my own secrets. In the dream story I painted gigantic canvases of deep forests. I hid my own dreams of him among the trees. I hid among the flowers. I scattered a trail of seeds and bread crumbs. Because loose ends and loopholes sometimes are the toeholds of divine interventions, or cosmic jokes. Either way it was the only thing I could do. My own heart is mute and terrified in the din of its own desires. I am all wrong. I am not worthy. I am every shade of mistake.
I woke up thinking I need to buy envelopes for the newly-printed blank cards. And that I should get the cash from the bank for paying the electric bill, and the cable bill, and the internet bill. The morning is long gone. I started calculating the hours I have left for all the tasks that need doing. My mouth started craving for coffee.
In tiny ways invisible to the eye. In ways that offer no excuses to be forgiven. In ways that only appear as weakness or laziness or simple utter failure.
But then I started to paint. Waded through the growing pile of to-dos and silenced all the task alarms and painted. Not about what I think will sell, or what I think will be popular. Not about the little compromises and tweaks, the softening of edges and taming of wildnesses. Instead I let my hand paint strange petals and leaves and other oddities that an impossible flower may choose to have. Beneath the ink and paint the seeds of words fluttered tapping codes into the back of my mind. Doorways and keys and unfinished locks. Windows and cracks on the wall. Glimpses, glances, accidental touches. In the blink of an eye I could step across an ocean and press a hand over an unsuspecting heart.
The breaking stopped.
October feels stretched out and long this year. Does it mean then that the veil is thinner, being all pulled at the edges and shivering with tension like a held breath before the confession of a long secret desire?
I try to slip a limb into the mad rush towards the too-loud, too-bright, too-manic excitement of Yuletide and I wince.
Yesterday right in the middle of being sane and productive and reasonable I felt something shut off inside me and I had to take myself to bed.
I used to be able to glimpse the shimmer of doorways even though I never could get close enough to get in. I was always just ten thousand lifetimes short of being invited.
Now my eyes are only seeing the flowers but not the heart from which they grew their hungry thirsty roots.
But I have become so good at thinning myself into invisibility that no one notices even when I try to be seen. I've always found safety in my shell but lately I find that too much safety can also hurt.
There is a person across the ocean trampling through my wildforest and does not see me even while his hand presses upon the ancient tree that carries a vein of my spirit pulsing upon his palm. He flits and fleets through the paths, making play of slipping in and out of his world and mine. He never realises that he steps into another Place, only that something changes inside him, an unexplained question shaped into a wordless longing.
The Stories are ripe and heavy on the branches, skins starting to burst and wanting to fall to the soft waiting earth blanketed with leaves as bright as fireworks.
A pumpkin waits and wishes to become a magic carriage instead of a jack-o-lantern.
The title may sound like waking up on the wrong side of the bed, but it isn't like that at all.
I got up late because I like sleeping in a bit on Mondays. I like savouring that tiny bit of fact that I did not have to get up early before sunrise and get dressed and endure the road traffic to get to an office I could not leave until after sunset.
It's going to be a long day but it will be a long studio day. I've put on a favourite pair of soft pants with a cat-printed shirt (that my late grandma has given me) for doing various work with, including clearing the studio of accumulated clutter from the dayjob weeks and getting back into painting.
I'll have to stay put in the house until the next paycheck comes in. (My Thor Ragnarok date this week is on the rocks.) The October bills have come in.
But I will not regret or feel guilty about buying myself a can of spiced tea yesterday (or the jar of Colombian coffee that accompanied it).
You'll find me writing more now. The first few days, even weeks, will be mostly mundane things. Tediousness of my daily life. Eventually I'll find that the floor beneath my feet have started to get rough with scattered leaves, and the hard cement gives way to wood, and then softer earth. Eventually I'll be able to speak forest language again. Maybe this time I can stay longer. Maybe this time I can stay for good. Maybe this is where I need to stay put to be found.
My dad wanted to have lunch out and we ended up staying in the malls until seven in the evening. It’s a thing here, to hang out in the malls for whatever reason (because it’s airconditioned and clean and bright and we don’t have decent parks). I made the most of it by:
- buying more watercolour paper and envelopes
- buying a vacuum insulated tumbler where I can have all my purchased beverages put in and I won’t have to use paper or plastic cups again (I even have my own reusable stainless steel straw)
- buying a lip brush so I can use up every bit of my favourite lipsticks and not have to buy new ones until everything’s all used up (the brush is inexpensive)
- discovering and buying two packs of cotton twine (each pack has 3 balls for only $1 per pack) which I plan to use for packing orders as well as art material for my mixed media paintings
My sister and I also took our time having coffee and dessert.
In the process I walked more than 10,000 steps according to my Health App tracker.
So now I’m reorganising my to-do list. A fresh restart tomorrow of what I had intended to do today.
By the way, the poll I mentioned in the previous post —