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Three Things No. 8

Today, we’re going to be doing this by some sort of theme, which is: stuff I have enjoyed or moved by that was made possible by women of colour. Amazing theme as any, I say. It’s still going to be a bit of a jumble of things… which is okay, I think. I contain multitudes, etc. etc.

By the way, I started writing this on the 5th of May. What even is time anymore?

01 Never Have I Ever

So, I have loved Mindy Kaling since always. Ever since she put Michael Scott in his place on that second episode of the first season of The Office, “Diversity Day.” I know not a lot of people will ~relate~ to her humour or find it ditzy and dumb, but underneath the veneer of actual ditzishness lies the intelligence of a truly funny woman. (I think so, anyway.)

I kind of fell off the wagon when it came to The Mindy Project, even though I did follow it through to the end. What was enthusiastic support became a lackluster endurance test made possible by attachments formed and reasonable investment. I thought I was over the Mindy brand of comedy, but I realised, through Never Have I Ever, that that wasn’t true. I probably just needed someone else’s story told through her voice.

For many people of colour, there is definitely that pressure to be someone that people look up to, to be someone who “represents” an entire fucking race in a more or less favourable light. That is, on some level, true for me, at least. I love that Devi, the main protagonist of Never Have I Ever is fucking ridiculous and often incredibly annoying the way that teenagers have some room to be. There are underlying issues of grief and insecurity and a rejection of a culture and heritage that is both intertwined forever with who you are and yet something that feels out of reach and endlessly foreign. Plus, it’s funny as fuck. I love that the main characters are varied and diverse: a truth of our reality that isn’t often played out effectively on screen without it becoming an issue that makes it seem like a move to have diversity, just for diversity’s sake. Here, it feels natural, real, honest.

I mainlined all of the episodes during my winding-down time, right before bed, when I knit and avoid thinking about my own life. This was a great distraction and I cannot wait for the next season, because that cliffhanger? Mindy.

02 Know My Name by Chanel Miller

I’ve had this on audio book ever since it came out, but I just haven’t had the heart to listen to it, knowing what ended up happening to Chanel Miller’s sexual assault case. If you’re unfamiliar with her name — and it is unsurprising, as it was only revealed with the publication of her memoir — then you might remember her rapist’s: ex-Stanford swimmer, Brock Turner.

I initially wondered how a book could possibly come out of such a short-lived ordeal. It wasn’t a history of sexual abuse. She wasn’t raped by someone she had already known or even met. But the book revealed the truth that sexual assault has many lingering aftereffects that echo through a person’s life. Such was the case with Chanel.

It may interest you to know that Chanel has been thriving after the whole ordeal, and while she certainly does not owe anyone any updates on her life or anything, it does make me happy to see some aspect of her on her Instagram (and in the numerous interviews she has given since releasing her book). Much of what she struggled with afterwards was the upending of her identity and her life, which is the case for many survivors of sexual assault. It’s terrifying and sad to have your trauma define who you are, and so to see this story turn out much better than many, in the end, where her life and her person are no longer defined by a violence that what was done to her by a complete stranger, is amazing.

We don’t deserve this gift from a person whom we can only reasonably expect to try and survive what has happened to her, and yet here we are. And what a generous, profound gift it is.

03 Qing Fibre

Look, we all know that I love yarn. But I didn’t know I could love yarn this much. I feel insane. I think I maybe am.

This jumper-in-the-making (in the header) is actually also from a pattern by Qing called the Mochi sweater. Look at this lush yarn. It’s called Melted Baby Suri and the colourways are Mussel (blue bits) and Salt Marsh (the body). How good is that?

I’ve since tried other bases, like the merino singles and super soft sock. Layla of Qing said she started the small yarn company whilst looking for funner colourways. And good for meeee. Because I love all the yarn I’ve received thus far. The colours, even the one with a more subtle shift in shade and hue, are still so beautiful. It’s even made me appreciate a little splash of neon in my knitting here and there.

Anyway, that’s it for me today. I anticipate to be back soon. I wasn’t really looking to write this, but figured I should get it out of the way for now. In case you care: life has been okay. There are pockets of frustration, in that the life I have expected to live this year is so different from what is happening, but such is the case for most of us. And I’m lucky and blessed, healthy and whole, and that is, I have to remember, more than enough.

Something someone needs to keep telling me

Around this time last year, I was still working in retail. It was still cold, and I could get away with some layers, which apparently is the only way I know how to dress.

I got angry with a customer (though, of course, only on the inside) because she took one look at me, decided I was too dim to understand what she was looking for, and spoke to me slowly, to make sure I grasped every single syllable present in the word “vest.” It makes me angry thinking about how many people presume to be smarter than people who don’t look like them, when they already have the advantage of knowing more than one language.

Around this time last year, I also went to a gallery in West London for an interview for a residency. I didn’t get it, got the sinking feeling in the middle of it that it wasn’t going super well, but getting that interview made me feel like I maybe could. These days — and I understand it’s perhaps due to the precarity of everything, though maybe because I’m just not cut out for stuffI feel lucky to even be called back for an interview. Sometimes, even a rejection email (especially when they’re well-written and nice) is better than the alternative: nothing at all.

I don’t know if I’ve officially shared where I used to work on here. I was a sales advisor at COS, at the Regent Street branch, which turned out to be the global flagship. I didn’t know this at the time, but I quickly found out soon after. Foot traffic every day was insane. The product pushed on the daily, even more so.

Because Regent Street is basically flocked by tourists who have money to burn and, presumably, no COS stores where they lived, it wasn’t a surprise to see hundreds of British pounds worth of clothes leave with just the one customer. I became a master at folding, working the stockroom, managing the cash register, sizing and spacing, and smiling at customers even though I couldn’t feel anything except how numb I felt. Retail is hard, laborious work. It’s doubly hard when you’re expected to be nice to everybody. It’s borderline unreasonable when you don’t even get the London Living Wage.

It triggered my anxiety disorder a lot. Whenever I was stationed at “A” which is the front of the room, I’d stand by the wide post towards the back of the section, mime the action of tidying up, just so I could have a few seconds to myself. I’ve willed myself not to cry in the middle of a shift. I’d explained my situation to several managers. Some were sympathetic and understood. Others gave less of a shit, and although at the time, it drove me to quit unceremoniously (both to take care of my mental health and to focus on my final dissertation), I do understand why they reacted the way they did. In the end, a job is a job is a job. Because everything is driven by sales and performance, you cut away what’s not working out. I get it, I know this. But, still, I left because I was told one thing by a “nice” manager and made to feel like shit by another one, for the same thing. I’m sorry about being vague, but it’s not a very interesting story.

Because I could only work two full shifts (16 hours/week) on my visa, I didn’t really bond as much with my co-workers. I’m still in touch with a few of them, and I genuinely would have liked to have hung out with some of them. But the way I left feels like there is no room for me to do so. It is what it is. It’s weird to see how much has changed since then.

I’m unemployed (self-employed?) right now, but trying. It’s hard to keep trying in the middle of a pandemic. But I can’t do nothing. The idea of nobody wanting you or seeing your value takes a little bit out of you every day, every rejection. It’s hard to explain to people why I feel like I need to be here, to prove something here, where I am nobody, when I have been working on and being fairly successful with my work and practice back home. It makes no logical sense, but I know that some people understand. Saying things like “I need to do this for me” is so lame and flimsy, but at this point, I feel like it’s the only true thing I know.

I do know that I want to keep making things. And that I hope these things make people happy or think about something meaningful in their lives or make them want to make things, too. It’s so discouraging to feel like the world I have to move in is a game, and I don’t know how to play it. Or that how I’ve been playing it is wrong and won’t lead to a win. I’m not too tired yet to try, though, and maybe that counts for something.

Knitting things no. 2

I envisioned myself being very diligent about these posts and making one after every month of knitting, but of course, that didn’t happen, and I could probably lay the blame on the quarantine, the world falling to pieces, and general malaise, but it just… you know, seems like business as usual for me. Which is to say, it takes me a while to get around to things. Which, if you’ve been around for long enough, you well know.

(The other things I’ve said are true, of course.)

But anyway, I present to you, in late April, the latter half of my January knits. Deeply uninteresting stuff (in my opinion), just because I’ve started and finished so many other projects, but still, boring though it may be, it’s still nice to kind of look back on progressions and notes and stuff. I can’t believe I cast on so many projects without knowing what I’m doing. I can’t believe I still do that. Alas.

WE ARE KNITTERS: WAK x OLIVA LOUIS SWEATER

Yep, I knit and finished a hecking! Sweater! It’s a funny, chunky one that’s got a super cropped torso and loooooong arms. At this point, I didn’t particularly think about making alterations to the pattern based on my own measurements. I was just trying to follow the pattern… which I ended up not being able to do, lol. It was very late when I realised that I had been doing a moss stitch instead of a rib stitch, and so that it is why it looks like that, lol. Still, it’s a very easy and satisfying project to do and make. Imagine! A jumper at the end of it.

It’s one of the things I wear outside that people have commented on, mostly asking if I’d made it. It is absurdly chunky and unwieldy, but very, very warm and in a nice colour (Ochre).

WE ARE KNITTERS: AVANTO BEANIE

The first of many hats! This was knitted in WAK’s Petite Wool in — are you ready? — #Skylovers. Not a huge fan of the name, and the photo doesn’t do it justice but, it’s a lovely mix of peachy strands and light grey. The beanie is knit with a ribbed sort of hem/brim (which I had gotten a handle on, midway through) and the rest is done in moss stitch, which is probably my favourite sort of textured stitching, I think. This is also probably my favourite beanie shape so far. The droopy, loose shape suits me the most, and I say this as someone who has trouble getting along with hats.

SCARF FOR DANIELLA

This is just a made-up scarf (as in, I didn’t use a pattern) and served as a very nice sort of stitch practice for me. I mostly used the leftover Crazy Sexy Wool (in Purple Haze, which they don’t seem to carry on their website anymore) from the blanket in the last post, and Heal the Wool in Autumn Brown, both by Wool and the Gang.

While making this project, I very quickly learned about yarn weights and gauges and stuff, cos I tried to be clever and knit a bit in a much lighter one and ended up with such a hole-y two or so rows that I filled in with WATG Jersey Be Good (True Blue) and Mixtape Yarn (Margaux Red).

WE ARE KNITTERS: BALTIC SNOOD

This is another snood or cowl or whatever you want to call it. Pretty standard garter stitch all throughout, but the wool. So good. It’s called The Wave Wool, and I love it. If I wasn’t already swimming in wool at the moment, I’d probably get a few more skeins of this. Look at how it makes the whole thing less boring! Just by being itself. Such a great colourway, too.

WOOL AND THE GANG: SWEETY GIGI BRA

This is actually a lie, because I have yet to do the straps, but it is more or less done. It’s very cute. I want to keep making these things, and will likely do so. I’ve also been making some crop tops for the summer. I am of the opinion that they are, also, very cute.

At this point of my knitting journey (as in, back in January lol), I think it’s easy to see that I’d only dipped my toes into the obsessive world of knitting and yarn. I’ve gone way, way past WAK and WATG, which are great places to shop and start with, don’t get me wrong. But, I’ve gone down a(nother) rabbit hole that I’m not sure I can come back from. We’ll see.

It’s been working out at the moment as I’m currently in quarantine and unable to make it to my studio. I’m starting on my fifth week of being mostly inside. My flatmate and I are too worried to go out for walks (apart from weekly trips to the nearest Co-op; sometimes not even once during the week). It seems like a longer time than it actually is.

Several days ago, I read that Wuhan had lifted its lockdown 76 days after declaring it (23 January). I know people like to talk you down off your loopy ledge, saying that quarantine will probably be over before you know it, but at this point, I’m honestly not holding my breath. I kind of feel like the world will be on lockdown — or some form of it — until the fourth quarter of 2020. And I feel like that’s being generous with my projections, to be honest with you.

My approach to things has always been to expect the worst — or, expect something worse, at least — so I get pleasantly surprised by the end, instead of being horribly disappointed. But, I suppose, at this point, no matter when the lockdowns end, it’s just going to be bad.

Didn’t mean to end a knitting post on such a bleak note. Truth be told, I’m held together by a lot of knitting stitches and sourdough monitoring and the fact that Laura hasn’t seen most of the MCU. It’s a fucking privilege, for sure. Sometimes I feel guilty that I am doing as well as I am doing, though I know that’s not a helpful attitude to have.

Positivity sometimes feels a little cloying. Sentimentality is such a frivolous thing to hold on to. There is nothing much I can do to help, and all the things I’ve been doing to help myself haven’t been working so well. I don’t want to give up on myself before I’ve actually really, really, really tried everything I can to “prove” that I should be where I am. I’m already the kind of person who shoots herself in the foot, but this whole thing has thrown a wrench and a half in what I felt like were well-formulated plans. (They’re not.) I wish I were a stronger and braver person than I am.

Life Lately No. 10

Things have been very different from the last update here, which was more or less a month ago. I wasn’t self-isolating then. I wasn’t terrified of going outside either. I wasn’t stewing in rage and unrest and anxiety that I don’t know where to channel. Not every single day, anyway.

For transparency’s sake: I took a shower this morning for the first time in four days. I changed my sheets. I did a load of laundry and did work I owed my dad for a press feature for the gallery. In many ways, life goes on. Truthfully, I feel very lucky that this is true for me. There is guilt that it isn’t true for everyone else. There’s frustration that I can’t do much about it besides stay home and not put others in danger as a transmitter of this virus.

I’m lucky I enjoy the company of my flatmate, and that there are people back home (and here) who care for me and look out for me. I’m lucky that even though it’s been really, really hard for me to find work here, I have the support of my parents and of people who believe in the work I do. It sucks, though, that the difficulty of finding employment or projects or something — anything — to do that will help support me has increased tenfold, and there seems to be no end in sight.

I can’t do anything. The small things that have helped curbed panic and anxiety (knitting, and games, and T.V.) are helping, sometimes, and even then, but not by much. It is alarming how much my body and my brain resist movement, but to give in to this stillness is not an option I’m ready to take. I hope I can do it. I know I can be very angry online, because I find so many things I believe to be unjust and unfair, but truthfully, these days, I’m mostly sad. I’m trying very hard to not let that consume me, and I distract myself enough most days, but I don’t know how much more I can put up this front. How much longer I can claim to be “fine” when everything around me is going up in flames.

Three Things No. 7

I have been a bit of a busy bee, although I’m technically still unemployed. What I have been busy with are a) filing job applications, b) painting for shows in Manila (which I’m super fucking grateful that I still get to do even though I live here now, for now), c) planning for a film which I’m not going to talk about until we have wrapped and/or maybe not even then, and d) attempting to abate the pervasive, overwhelming sense of dread that wraps itself around me every day. So, technically unemployed, but a lot on my plate, I think. Maybe I’m just a chump who’s bad at managing stress and time and resources.

But wow, yeah, I was here to talk about three things that have become staples in my life. I’ve stopped watching mukbangs, lol, but I’ve carried on knitting and gorging on K-pop and K-drama and the occasional meal, though I’ve yet to find a decent Korean BBQ place here.

It’s been quite amusing to realise that I can now watch things with subtitles while knitting, muscle memory and that. Speaking of subtitles…

01 Crash Landing on You

Holyyyyyyyyy shit, this was so entertaining. It’s so good? Like indulgent good. I’m tired of everything being prestige~ to be frank, so sometimes I really look for things that are just fun and substantial, period.

Anyway, I’ve been watching quite a few K-dramas since finishing this, and while the ones I’ve seen are more or less good, they do not hold a candle up to Crash Landing on You. (Dunno what that means if this is the only K-drama you’ve seen and you hate it.)

What do I like about it? First of all, just because the current one I’m watching is very not this: the score of CLOY is very not distracting. The pivotal or emotional moments are carried by the acting and like, a situational drama, if that makes sense.

Then, there’s the supporting cast of characters, which in some ways, you become more invested in. Because they are endearing and shows a perspective that’s quite unlike the dramas I’ve watched and am watching, given that a lot of the supporting characters are North Korean. Given all this, of course the setting is not something you see often, which makes it all the more fascinating to me. As much as I was rooting for the South Korean protagonist, Yoon Se-ri, to find her way back to Seoul, I really, really missed all the scenes set in North Korea.

I guess the main draw of the series has been the chemistry between Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok (who is a top-notch tsundere who is also a snacc) and Se-ri (who is sort of an atypical female protagonist, based on my limited experience of the genre), which honestly made the series. I think it’s really refreshing for me also to see a story like this unfold between an older couple. So far, I’ve been watching college-age dramas, and while those were cute, too, this felt like it had more depth. I definitely appreciated the lack of aegyo in this series, I’ll say that.

Look, I didn’t anticipate to be laughing and bawling and being invested in this, but I was, and I can’t stop talking about it. It’s piqued my interest in the K-drama world and has, so far, not been surpassed just yet.

02 Winsor & Newton Liquin™ Oleopasto

Lately, I’ve been trying to add more texture to my paintings and have them be even more gestural, teetering on abstraction. It’s been amazing. I’ve always been more or less polished when it comes to my work. Or, at least, I started out like that, but now, I think that with muscle memory (again!) and just a general sense of reckless abandon, it’s been easier to kind of let loose and connect what I want to be on the canvas with what’s in my head. I’m a shit copier, truth be told, and it’s partly because I’m impatient, but also because I always try and make it look exactly like what I am seeing from the source image. It doesn’t work because, as has been established, I’m a shit copier, and then I feel bad because I’ve made something horrendous which makes me feel like a shit artist.

I don’t usually copy images anyway, but lately, I’ve been playing around with different painting mediums and just letting loose a little bit more, and it’s quite gratifying to see what sort of textural variety I get. Can’t wait to get a hang of it more.

03 Nissin Demae Ramen Hokkaido Miso Tonkotsu Ramen

My favourite soup-based instant ramen so far. Instant ramen typically just feels like a bowl of soup, and although this variant obviously is miles away from a really, really, really good bowl of tonkotsu ramen, curly noodles aside, this stuff tastes so good.

I have recently been adding a bit of frozen veggie dumplings just to add a little bit more nutrients to this admittedly rather unfortunate meal for an adult to have, but IDK. I grew up on sodium-rich quick meals, and that’s what gives me comfort to this day. It’s like a very warm and salty hug, and I try not to eat it as often as I would maybe like.

Anyway, these are three things at the moment, but I think we all know that knitting is still kind of my main new discovery (alongside Red Velvet, which… another time). It’s the perfect social isolation activity, and I’ve had to tear myself away from completely immersing myself in ongoing knitting projects projects on account of me needing to be at my studio to, you know, get actual work done.

Ah, well. I still haven’t completely updated my January knitted projects (first part here), and truthfully, I’ve lost my thread (lol) of progress as I jump from one to the other on account of dumb restless behaviour. In any case, basically, I am still into knitting, thank da Lord.