Dots

December 31, 2009

The honored tradition of articulating an entire year passed is one that seems important, and urgent for a lot of us. Maybe the reason is because we’re most often in some kind of auto-pilot mode, sleep walking through the routine of our lives. It’s only on certain occasions throughout a year that we’re forced to really jump into a hot/cold pool of reflection and self-awareness. While writing this sentence, I’m forced to think of the occasions that make us reflect and open ourselves to every feeling that has weathered our hands and eyelids: When falling in love starts falling out of love, when guilt manifests itself as bowling balls in our stomachs, when expectations are laid on you like blankets, when coincidental incidents fuck with our heads in moments of desperation, when we’re hundreds and thousands of miles away… and holidays like the one today– New Years Eve.


In doing research to begin writing this ‘whatever-you-call-it’ I tried looking at everything I have written this last year, and was surprised to find that I haven’t written much at all. The pieces I’ve written are scattered sparsely across the year, like a skipping stone, only hitting for short moments before jumping off again, until it eventually all sinks in, on a day like today. As expected, one could easily interpret the implications of this, the first predictable way I can use this to represent the year is that 2009 was not about self-reflection. It was not about pondering problems, or loneliness, or attempting to develop myself further with a sense of urgency. In fact, I think I may have exhausted all my inspiration the two years before, when I felt like I needed to, when I felt like I didn’t have much. This whole last year was spent living back in my home town, fresh off an important move in my life, off of a blurry rainbow of ridiculous moments in San Francisco and the warm welcome of being back home, that slowly stabilized as 2009 was beginning.



There are certain things that hurt to learn as you enter the next phase of your life. Like the difficulty of maintaing connections with the ‘friends you called family’ who are hundreds of miles away. Like the cold truth that reveals itself when you’re forced to look at and understand some of your ‘friends’ critically and honestly, and how it throws a shiver down your spine. Like the failure of expectations to be fulfilled, and how disappointed the younger “you” would be at the present “you”. Like seeing how fast time goes without anything to show, on how much you’ve talked, but never really spoken. Empty words, and phrases giving birth to smiles and laughter, but giving absolutely nothing to the greater pursuit of understanding and adventure. That empty space, those empty spots on the calendar were faithfully carried by drunken and drugged nights that showed their true colors every morning that started in a stomach-punching place.



There are certain things that felt great to learn. The unpeeling of layers of someone right before your eyes, and how their genuine self is so much better than who they try to be. The gestures of affection and gratitude from old friends, and the random phone calls that catch you off guard. The feeling of creating something new, and different, but doing it with the knowledge you have gained, knowing that it is going to be the best thing you have ever done for yourself. Embracing the idea that we are responsible for who we are, and there are no excuses.

When I look around, I see people like dots on a page. Some of them bigger and smaller than others, some further away from me, some that are right next to me. Some of them beautiful, some of them ugly, but they are all still dots on a page. I want to draw lines, just with the precision of my hand, without any help, I want to do it alone. I can connect them in ways that make different pictures, like those old connect-the-dots games on paper menus we used to play on when we were kids.  Back then, they had numbers, they told you which dot to go to next, when it began and ended, when the picture was complete. As you’re older those numbers don’t really show themselves anymore, and you’re left to do it on your own, to make your own picture, to choose which ones to connect to, and which ones to avoid. It’s much harder, much scarier, and luck definitely plays a part in how good the final image turns out. What I’m slowly starting to understand, however, is that there is no final picture, or image. That end doesn’t exist.

Each year may not be perfect. We tell ourselves that it’s worth it because we grow with each year. I don’t really fully believe that. I’ve seen myself go backwards at times. I’m never going to try and justify nothingness. I’m not going to justify stagnance or divert blame to anything. Not fate, not cosmic reason, not God. I’m not going to blame the numbers 2, 0, 0, and 9. I’m responsible for my own lack of growth, and I’m responsible for my own potential greatness. In this ocean of reflection, I find myself on an Island, kissing the floor at my feet, grateful to know that I’m not an asshole because I choose not to be an asshole. Love for people is based on affection and admiration, not validation and insecurity. Friendship should be cherished, not pushed aside. If tragedy teaches us anything at all, it’s that there’s nothing to wait for, except ourselves.


Resolutions:

  • Distance myself from negative, judgmental, and destructive people.
  • Attempt to remove the aspect of validation in making important decisions.
  • Expressing what I like about things and people more often.
  • Start the ruthless course to do what I love doing the most, and making good money doing it, for the rest of my life.
  • Have a better screening-process for the people I choose to let in.
  • Always give value to others.

So here’s to the wreck, the rock on the table, and the broken glasses. The lodge, the crush, the grind, the hazy memories, the morning-afters, the recalls, the dirty couch, the ashtrays, and the end of 2 for ones. Here’s to the “gimme a lighter,” the bum-ones, the hurting throats, the new clothes, the birthday songs. The collective, the hadoukens, rolls, the candles, the andre, star machine, the green stuff. The dirty carpet, the other bathroom, the toxic plant, the airplanes. Here’s to my flower, the moon, and the destruction. The screams, the getty, seattle, the food carts in portland, the red lion, the taco trucks. The bruises, the sex, the public places. The friendships, and the sinking ships, love and lovers, the platonic wonders, the  gracious hosts, and the maxx. The lakers, and the fakers, the takers, and the players. The Vs, the comfort, the me-toos. What a ridiculous ride this was.

—————————

Side notes of this year:
I came back to Southern California to finish school, and finished. I finished 60 units, and had one B+. School was easy, school was comfortable. Midway through the year, I would realize how much fun it could be, and how I might want to teach one day. I made a good friend that I feel will be part of my life for a long time, and that alone was worth it. Paper, ink, indesign, morning classes, cigarettes, all-nighters, and a portfolio show.

  • Designed shirts for AFI, Green Day, Misfits, House of Blues, and a few for Karma Loop, plus three independent clothing companies.
  • I was secretly hired as a freelancer for my teacher, but couldn’t disclose this with other students at the time. I ended up working at her studio. She took me into a new company, called
  • Outcast, where I work now.
  • My grandmother, Felicidad Leviste, passed away. She was 95 years old.
  • My third serious relationship came to an end, and the events that would follow would own me in every direction.
  • I traveled to Seattle, Portland, and Yosemite.
  • I work full-time in Venice, CA as a graphic designer for digital media.
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