Memory of a Distant Fire

“What? Battle Shields up, everything in fire line, secure solid ground, hold, move back, open launchers, all systems highest function,” Athena said. “Um, no?” Asked Raru. “I’m overriding your communications. We’re safe.” “No way Raru, look at the navigational systems, they’re right in front of us, I knew I shouldn’t have, wait there they are!!! We’ve got to do something.” “Athena, no one is out here, that’s the air meter. There’s a light wind to the south, that’s it.” 

Athena couldn’t breathe, “I’m having a panic attack!!” “Wait what’s that!!!!”, “That’s the clock, Athena, it’s OK. Everything’s fine, everything’s fine.” Athena caught her breath, sank back in the seat, and started to cry.” It seemed like an hour, but it was only a few seconds, time seemed to drift off, it was probably a few minutes, Athena put the vision goggles on, what’s out there, Raru.?” It’s the forest outside your home, I’ve never seen it before, thank you for bringing me here.” Raru’s voice came, there, I’m opening the bay door”.

In the cockpit, the light burst through the open viewport, and Athena saw it. Before her were the forests of earth, somewhere in the hills of Artemisia, endlessly flowing as if each branch and tree were in a light embrace, leaning with the wind as it passed through the air.

“Let me down, Raru, let me see.” The floor doors opened and the seat settled down to the forest floor. She walked out into the morning air. It had been so long, probably years since she’d been home, she traveled so far that being here felt like the longest journey of all. She stepped gently, cautiously with each step. She wanted to cry out loud, she wanted to scream, she felt the pain of the war course through her, and then looking across the field, she said something almost like it was a secret, something she couldn’t say, and then she tried. In the distance she saw her home, partially destroyed. Her eyes welled up with tears.”

“Home.”

When she stepped forward through the fields and into the front door, she saw pieces of her life tossed seemingly so effortlessly into pieces before her. It was horrific, each memory passing like something with a new wound that might never heal. Suddenly she heard a sound behind her, turning around she saw Raru, now in hologram form. “The ship needs repair,” Raru said, we should try to head into town, the recovery efforts might be there. 

“OK, it’s about five miles up the Valley,” Athena said. She turned suddenly and fell, a shattered glass cutting into her foreleg. “Oh my god,” Athena said. “Athena wait, here I can help you, let me deactivate the hologram form.” “But you’ll never be able to get back,” Athena said. Raru did not respond, deactivated, and used the converted energy to heal her to a safe return. Let’s head up and see what we can do, there is a lot to do in the new world, a lot to repair, we’ll get there together.

Raru what happened out there in the fields, do you remember? “It was like one long day, Athena, I’m not programmed to understand time, but I do remember every moment I was with you.”

The Transformative Power of Artmaking

When I make art, I go on a deep journey of the mind, it’s almost as if I am going through my stories. Something that might not be apparent is just what depicting emotions is like if you’ve never made art like this before. I go through every emotion the characters go through. If I’m depicting sadness or anguish, I feel the very same emotions. And what’s recorded on the canvas is an experience I’m actually having myself. That’s why Athena, the character, means so much to me. After a long war, it doesn’t even specify how long she’s been in the midst of conflict, she finally releases the stress when she realizes the war had ended. Though when making the comic I didn’t show visual signs of it, actually I’m crying right now, I went through every emotion she goes through, when she collapses, I collapse, and when she gets up to go about her day, it’s exactly as if I felt it. That’s why the nights have been so difficult for the last two weeks. I made artwork constantly. It really allowed me to go through a process of transformation. I don’t get a lot of feedback about my work, I only know what I know from my own experiences, but this is what makes today such a hard, yet hopeful day for me. I realized just how much I’ve been through in the last two and a half years. When I drew the last page I almost broke down, and that’s why it means so much to me as an artist that viewers understand what it’s like to make these stories.

A lot of people think this work is about people I know. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The truth is that when I make art I invite people along in these journeys, and there is so much more I can say with them than if I actually spoke or wrote them out. It took a lot of study to get to the point of being able to draw like this. Years of practice, and I’m still learning. But after the last week of work, through which I found so much strength within me, I’m really taking a break and reading. I’ve started around 10 books of various cultures, but none of them describe what the day-to-day life of being alive feels like. Even the poetry I read, while beautiful, was moralistic or emotionally vacant, and that’s where what I am making comes in. It’s not perfect yet, I have a lot to draw and make, and opposed to writing stories, these are emotional journeys I record for you. I hope they are received the same way, I think that’s why I get so concerned when people think they belong to someone else. It’s as if someone tried to steal your soul, and that’s impossible. If you look at my work, you’ll see what one human experience is like, and if it resonates, that’s beautiful, that’s my intention, but some things just take a lot out of me. That’s what the last page before I ran out of ink and needed to pause did for me. I’m in a state of release.

If you. ever get into art making, the pursuit of technical achievement will let you explore just what physical embodiment is like, even if it’s abstracted, and that’s beautiful. I am so grateful I’ve had the experience to share these journeys with you. If you ever want to get to know me read the stories. A record of my emotional journey is there, and I hope you take it into your heart and feel what my characters feel. Empathy is the alchemy of the union between heart and mind, knowing that the two are never separate, just like all of us are inseparable from each other, no matter what may fall. I’m so grateful that I’ve had the time to work on these stories in the last year, I’ve made three so far in completion, and hope for many more over the years. But for now, some rest. This week has been a long journey, and even amidst all this, I found a sense of home.

Visiting the Art Institute of Chicago

We only had one day that we could have visited the museum on our trip, so we got on the train and headed downtown. It’s amazing how different the world works when you’re out of your twenties. When I was in school, what I’m realizing now is how naive I was. I didn’t really have the emotional landscape to take it all in. We split up and went to our different areas, catching up with the frequency of pace that we both have when we’re in art museums. I look at art all the time, so generally, I’m looking at field studies during viewing experiences and getting really close and seeing the brushwork that causes so many of the effects, but at a certain point, it just hit me. This was centuries of lives devoted to art, representing entire epochs of time across thousands of years. That’s not something I really ever expected that I would see once I was inside. I always thought this trip would be like a homecoming, but it’s so much more. Chicago is a deeper and more rich experience than I could have ever imagined visiting as an adult.

I watched more than a hundred moments in time captured in painting and sculpture, and then when I finally got to the room of Monets, my heart literally split open, Here was light, across fields and forests, that I could have never anticipated. Monet can only be experienced in person. It’s vibrant and in the context of other parts of the museum, it almost made me cry. It took years to get to this point, but finally, after years of study, art meant so much to me that I could literally be moved emotionally in a profound way that I just couldn’t expect. It was the most emotional day I could have imagined at the museum.

Then I realized I had seen too much art and needed a break. The museum is enormous, and if you’re really analyzing paintings, you can’t process more than a few hours to really take it all in, so I looked for a place to sit. In a courtyard, there were almost a hundred empty light green seats placed haphazardly and without seeming composition across a field almost the distance of the museum. No one was there, so. walked out and sat down and looked at the museum map. And there I looked up and thought, am I with the solid absence of all the artists I looked at that day around me. I imagined I was. That’s how precious human life is, we leave a little behind but we’re not here forever. We make the best of it in the time we have, and that’s what artists really do, we’re trying to leave this world a little better than how we found it, and one day we will take our place among those empty seats. Gone, but our presence, the sheer weight of our absence remains. Was anyone there among those empty seats, probably not, but they existed in my mind. Perhaps that’s what our memories are, we keep our loved ones when they have gone deep within our hearts and minds, and there we can find something. Life, as persistent as the wind in the city, the soul moving throughout space, almost can’t be denied in the weight of our memory.

I sat a few more minutes, got up, and went throughout the day. But I was lost in thought. The next time I go to the Art Institute I may just look at a few pieces at a time, because now, art means so much more to me than it ever did before. And that is the gift of returning to a home that is so different from the one you left more than a decade ago. It’s there, changed, like the contours of our own hearts, deep within the mind, from forest to city, and back to the forest. I am so grateful for our time here. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m seeing Chicago for the first time. If you live here don’t take it for granted, this city has a spirit all to itself, and that is profound and beautiful. Just a few more days here, but if travel can change us, this certainly changed me. I grew up here at the Art Institute, both in my early youth and then as an adult. It’s a pilgrimage I intend to make every so often, in this beautiful place, so magnificent, a world that just gets richer at every step. It hasn’t been easy being here. But I love this city. LIfe is so precious, let’s take care of it in all we do, for Chicago as a city can never fully be understood, and that is the beauty of life. It taught me, finally, to forgive and let go.

On our Journey to Chicago

So long ago, we were living in Marin, I was working as a designer in a small agency in the financial district when downtown SF was so vibrant. It was amazing. We were constantly pitching and I was essentially doing experimental work constantly. It prepared me for a life of over a decade of experimentalism in art music, and design, but I’m marking today as the first day of a new life. It’s been an incredible time here, but I battled with depression, anxiety, and the beginnings of understanding my queer identity. In many ways, I was working so that I would have a better life, and it ended up that way finally, yet something was off. I felt like I fit in in parts of the bay, but in other parts, I felt so out of context. Chicago always felt like home, with all its complexities, but I did my best art there. The cold winters of being left with the choice that all you could do was create. It’s no mistake that so many great artists come from Chicago. I even painted my studio the colours of my favourite restaurant there and had a poster from the midcentury on my wall.

We lived in some great places here but it was never easy. I remember times when we only had a heating pad to cook our food, though that was so long ago. We were so young when we first got here and made a lot of mistakes in our desire to make our lives better. We were at times poor, and at other times stable. Chicago is more affordable. I dream of having a larger space, and we could do that there. I would love to move but my partner needs some convincing. We had originally planned to travel to Europe but we just don’t have the flexibility yet one day I hope we do. Chicago is my first pick of a place to move, I have no idea what to expect. I’m simultaneously happy and sad, yet full of anticipation. I hope this works out. Over the last year, I had an art retreat in the forests of Fairfax. It was amazing. I made a difference in the climate action committee, and Climate Changemakers, but I’m excited to start envisioning the urban side of that, so that’s one of the things I’ll be thinking of. In the meantime, I’m marking today as the end of my art retreat, I’ve accomplished the beginnings of the next phase, and I don’t regret a single thing about being here, even when depression had gripped me almost like an unspeakable force, yet here I am years later, after a long journey, to a place that was once home but may be again. I am so excited, more soon.

On Higher Education in the Arts

I come from a much different perspective than a lot of people who go to art school. I had absolutely no previous training. All the time I would have spent if I had grown up with the current amazing array of educational materials provided online wasn’t available to me growing up, and in 2014 when I went back to school, it didn’t feel like most of the classes I took really addressed what it takes to really practice and get good at art. Reconstruction research, which is a process I’m currently undergoing, is something I discovered through reading online, it was never even discussed while I was in school. I make copies of the old masters now, they just happen to be a collection of my own chosen canon Shirow, Matsumoto, Tezuka, and Yoshitaka Amano, along with all of the artists I’m finding who are working online in the digital and manga arts community on Twitter. They are all my heroes. I’m finding I really needed to take a step back, forget all of my exhibiting accomplishments, and just really study line and form. Over the course of the last week I’ve been looking at a small collection of manga how-to books, plus books by Stan Lee, Hirohiko Araki, and Eisner. These are all reference materials for the most part I had saved for when I needed them most, and that happens to be now.

I researched countless sites and videos for the correct pens for manga comics, and learned everything that I should have known when I was first learning to make art. My life would have been much different if I had been born into the generation that came right after mine, but I don’t regret it. I have a different perspective, but I needed this time to build my skills. I’m not done yet but I hope to be at a better point within a month. I’ll never stop learning.

In a rush to share my work, since Twitter is where I find my online community, I uploaded the progress of my new comics series in a hasty way that I regret, but it was an amazing experience. It actually caused the greatest experience of personal growth through the aesthetics that I could possibly imagine. Art takes falling down and getting back up, spectacularly messing up, and then starting over again. Art is a struggle and a dedication that many aren’t able to take, and in that I am grateful that I have the ability to focus this way. I’m not taking it for granted.

All I do right now is for art, and I’m trying to give back to the cultures that are inspiring me right now. I don’t intend to sell or make a profit at all, I’m just completely enthralled in anime and manga and it’s hard to stop. It’s such an amazing form of art. Some of my heroes I already feel on a close to peer level with, and there are painters online in my social networks that will take years to attain parity with. But that’s what makes this fun. Art is amazing. It just takes years, and academic study is just an introduction, the real effort starts in our private practice when we learn to make up for the current academic system. I always thought I needed a teacher, and I do, but sometimes learning takes place through the process of experimentation, just like science, in something like a visual test lab. So I hope if you come across my social network sharing, just know that I’m just experimenting, and it’s a place I invite you into my own studio to share in the process. It’s for fun, and that’s something no school could offer. I’m experimenting here for fun, I hope it continues to be a fun place to escape the hum drum of the everyday. Life is amazing and I’m trying to remind folks of that, I hope you enjoy.

A Moment of Pause

It’s a difficult time in the world, with so much happening at once. I suppose every age is like this, but this is my first one, as an adult, as far as I know, past lives notwithstanding, footnote reminders for aspects of consciousness, I remind myself. Apologies. I’ve been reading so much, and Finnegan’s wake is deep within my mind, the rhythm isn’t easily forgotten. But what of memory? What do we remember about all the mistakes of the past? Have we forgotten? Have we forgotten that war brings total misery, for all involved, what then, and where then, do we find ourselves now? I’m aware of many things happening at once, but in so many ways they are all the same. They are about emotional blindness, not seeing the beautiful and subtle aspects of our world as we focus on goals and objectives that have become blinders to the reality around us. I know there are more wars than those in Ukraine, our world is at the point of what we’re beginning to hear is a global recession. I am not an economist or a global strategist, I’m simply an artist with a belief in God, living in a forest, in a small apartment with my partner, my days are simple and calm, and from this place, deep within the forest, when it’s quiet gives me great concern when I read about or look at the news. Soon, and not far from now, we’ll be back in a city, I am both terrified and excited by the prospect, because I know just how difficult a situation our world is in. This is a time for great care. The tinge of purpose with kindness that is beginning to flow through my work, and on close inspection always has, gives this artist a bit of pause, If I’m not honest with this moment, as I am with so many others, the purpose of this journal will not be intact. So, in a word, I’m worried. I’m not only worried for myself and my family. I’m worried for the world. We’re beginning to hear signs of a global recession, war is raging and there is so much hate. In my own country, there are so many divides, but what is common is that we are all human, such a strange word, possibly overused. What does it even mean to be human, is it not the sense that we need each other more than ever? We are all waking up to a new morning every morning, there is so much hope with technology, and so much tragedy at the same time. I am not a newspaper, there is more for you to read by authors more advanced than I am, but if I could take a moment, just be good to each other, the threat to our world is greater than one group or another. We have to come together to face the climate crisis. That’s why I get so frustrated about the so-called democracy over my images. I make things for everyone and I see games being played with them. They’re for everyone and should always be, I refuse to let them power other agendas. I’ve said it often, but my role is to find a place of peace, and the only way I know how to do that is in the arts, I’ve tried political organizing, it gets, well, political, it’s shocking for someone who doesn’t speak those languages.

I doubt I will take on another coffee role. It was incredibly educational, and with all its difficulties, it was absolutely difficult, intellectually, physically, and emotionally, but I’m moving on from the field. For three months, I worked in a coffee shop, and I’ve written about it, it reminded me that the lives of people are greater than their politics, it doesn’t get written about but it’s there. Our world is incredibly peaceful when you’re that close to it, people are good and kind in ways you can’t imagine. Go to any community coffee shop and you’ll see it, it’s a wonderful experience. I hope anyone having difficulties right now, with friends or family, or anyone we share bonds with, can sit down and have a warm drink and talk about things. It’s very easy to do, and this time requires it so much. This is no time for conflict, we all face threats greater than what we can imagine, it’s time to walk away from conflict, and create lasting peace. We’ll need it. We’ll need it to preserve the environment and all life within it, we need it for the refugee crisis, we need it for equality, we need it for peace, we need it for all people, we need it for those of us who are in need, and that is greater than one thing or another, but we need each other now more than ever, and in that perhaps we can find what so many cultures call God. I’ll be making images to share in my little corner of the world, in a small studio near a kitchen in a forest somewhere, not far from cities, but I’m just like everyone else. We have a world to save, all of us. So I’m taking a moment of pause today. I bought a candle and will be taking things slow, in memory of all who have departed, and for all that come after. We owe it to the generations, they have lifted us all into this very moment, each moment, of every day. Can we consign their histories and sacrifices to the destruction of a planet, it can’t be this way. I want to honour the whole of human history today, through one small candle in a forest. It’s a simple thing, but if you’re going about your day, know that I lit a candle for you, and for all people, on a moment so important, that we all need to face, the way the planet is headed. Thank god for weekends. Remember that our ancestors fought hard for that too.

What it’s like behind the Counter at a Coffee Shop

Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with coffee. It starts my day, and it’s so common across the world. Far from being a simple thing to me, it’s one of the best things about my day. I wake up really early in the morning and make sure it’s one of the first things I do. It’s a constant companion, and has been for years. I’ve written about it before. There’s even some work on my site about it. I have a comic series I’m working on and I’ve now worked at four coffee shops around Marin. But none of these match how I feel about my new job, that I finally finished my first week at. The team is amazing, and we wrapped up the weekend listening to Abba, The Beatles, and a morning of Jazz while we all did extremely hard work in the cafe. I’ve worked a lot of places in my life, but nothing is like this. Why? Because I forget about everything when I’m behind the counter, which I’m at for most of the day. I support the staff, I make coffee and tea, organize the pastry case, clean up, make drinks, and I listen to anything our customers have to say.

My coworkers are amazing, and I love them all. I truly think the work we do is important. The community is incredible. I genuinely love learning about the town, and I see so much from where I am. Helping people in their busy lives, helping them on a break during their day, is incredible. That shop is a place of pure joy, and I try to make sure I communicate that to anyone who comes into the shop. In the last week, I’ve helped people navigate the pastry case, I’ve helped kids count their change for something to eat. I’ve served folks from all ages, so many different cultures. I’ve seen America and I believe in it. This is a vibrant and incredible part of the world. I’ve made summer drinks for people to try, I’ve served so many people. I think I help over a hundred people a day.

It’s almost a blur as it happens, but no moment is lost on me. It’s difficult. The way the orders are described, you almost take a sample of spoken word and hold it deep within the mind while you translate it across the computer terminal. After months doing this it’s quite easy, but I have to be mindful the entire time. No single moment is lost on me, and I’m not faking it. I am genuinely completely positive almost the entire day. On breaks I don’t even check twitter anymore. I just sit and look at the clouds, I gaze across the town square and see the daily life of the town square. Every moment is incredible.

There was a significant event that happened today though, I learned deeply that you can’t take anything for granted. People I met that I felt such strong emotion toward would be leaving to go back to school, and I met someone who was blind who needed help finding things to eat. I didn’t even know she was until she mentioned it. I’m learning that you can’t judge anyone by first glance. You have to strongly watch and believe the best in people. Listening is more than we think it is. It’s the strongest sense of cadence and specificity.

The shop is arranged so that I don’t see how long the line is to the register, I just work with each moment as it happens. I don’t even count the time. When it slows down I see two large windows opening out to the town square. On the upper right is a poster decrying ignorance, hate, corruption, sexism, ignorance and hate. It’s defining how I see the world. After a week of full days watching and thinking about this. I’m growing and experiencing things that couldn’t happen in any other place in the world. I’m giving and helping every single second of the day.

The community is incredible, and I’ve learned just how good most people are. I think in the last week I helped close to a thousand people. And you know what, the very few negative experiences were probably less than a decimal of a percent. This was my first week. I have no idea what a year of doing this might be. And the work is exausting but fun. Even doing the dishes is fun. There’s not a single thing I don’t love about the job. This was one of the best experiences of my life. I still have no idea what’s going on in the world, and sometimes I just don’t think about it at all. So many things have changed. But I know good friends when I find them. I know just how vibrant the community is. So many voices, so many stories, so many amazing people. I’m just grateful to be there. And toward the end of the day, the voices all come together. This is sacred ground. And I see something sublime. The community, and the people around us, are all kind and wonderful. I’ve seen it, and that’s what I truly needed to see. I believe in people. You have to see the best in them. When you’re just starting out they know and they’re good to you. And that is something I needed to see. This cafe could change my life, and already has, and as I sit here I almost can’t imagine how anything could have ever happened that was more beautiful than today in the cafe. And when I sat outside on break my phone lost its power, so I Iooked out into the town, my gaze seeing what it could see, and then up into the sky. There was almost no sound, the clouds were constantly changing shape across the sky, drifting slowly, and I thought of nothing else, but the day, not as one thing or another, but as an endless flow of kindness, wonder, and love across time, and that is what I saw every moment of the day.

One Year Art Meditation

Something really extraordinary happened over the last year when we moved to the forest. We packed up all of our belongings, down to the barest essentials, and moved into the forest hills around Fairfax. Earlier during the pandemic my partner just said to me one night over dinner, we have the ability for you to focus on art for a year, why don’t you just try, so I did, I still took on assignments here and there, worked at coffee shops off and on, generally following the traditional roles as an independent artist. But long periods of studying meditation when the anxiety started to develop while I was in school started being brought into the foreground. I had originally wanted to try studying at a Buddhist Monastery, I begged my teacher for a work-study program and was denied, and was finally accepted at the San Francisco Zen Center. I moved in for one night and left after there was a series of commotions and increased traffic outside the room I was in. But the moments I spent inside the Zen Temple were magical. No one was around in the covid wing of the building, relegated to a two-week quarantine. It was right next to the main meditation hall, vacant from the height of the covid pandemic denying visitors. I went in one morning before I left and walked alone through the hall, just feeling its presence and openness. Everything was still and quiet, an enveloping warmth in the morning light.

Let’s go to four months later. We were in a small apartment in the forest hills of Fairfax, a town outside San Rafael, not quite rural but not quite urban either, barely a suburb. It was here I just said to myself, let’s try this now, I decided to work on two central concerns: my art and climate activism. I joined a small committee, eventually becoming vice chair, and I wanted to do what I had set out to do when I had earlier in the pandemic dedicated myself to studying zen. I wanted to ask myself what hate was, and how I could understand it. After a long year, of fighting constant threats and harassment, I finally saw just what that looked like. I saw the tormented emotion and defeated it, it was something I didn’t expect, and it came from the fact that my art, I realized, was meditation. While each painting was tried to be stolen for personal gain, I now see each step as a constant motion of progress towards a realization I would never have thought to enact from any direction or guideline, there was nothing like this experience. From painting to painting, each step kept motioning toward aspects of different emotions, if you look through all the work I made in the last year, it’s an epic story, one that would be impossible to film and impossible to write, it’s a combination of so many forms. It’s one story, it’s all an epic poem tied together, and then I realized what I had been facing all along, an ineffable face I had made as an image of torture from the years of harassment, it was almost a force made by some kind of spirit that was created to describe what I saw in the unified face of those who have been assaulting me. I finally saw it clear in its form in a final rendering, and I realized something, my own agency, so I took a look and modified it. Simple. It was over.

So what did I find? I don’t understand hate, but it feels like a carried trauma, yet in my process, which I could almost describe as mysticism because there were physical things that happened during this time, it feels like a lie. Hate is the lie of separation. Truth is the unity that binds all things, and our freedom is the opportunity to choose, and that’s where the truth exists. I posted a video message when I finally saw it for what it was. It may seem like another tik-tok, but I may not post anymore. It’s the final chapter of a long multimedia epic poem, it’s all there if anyone ever wants to see it. If you want to look at my work it is one story, one central story of love. It’s undeniable. Every moment in the forest was worth it. I am overcome with joy just thinking about it, it’s everything I ever wanted to do as an artist, so much so that I may never make art again. I can’t believe this. Yet there was more to other aspects, of the It’s the journey of my soul through time. This is the story of my spirit, so misunderstood that I could finally say it very simply, and that’s just it. And I now know it for a fact. I see it completely. Everything is in there, in all of its forms. It makes no sense to write this down,

Last night at the Committee meeting I was late and I finally signed on after receiving several phone calls from the mayor, I jumped online and logged in and did my job for the meeting, keeping time. I found a stopwatch counter online and launched the site, and then I saw it. I saw time defeat the concept of time. For every single moment that has been used as a system of division and hate, I saw the clock for what it was, yes there were seconds and minutes, but there was also a clock of infinitely fast number combinations in all forms that reset and started again every second. Want to use time against each other? The stopwatch defeated the lie. Time resets every second in the numeral system, moving so fast that it becomes a simple motion for which numbers are just abstract units that are not necessarily important. That’s all it is.

But what did I learn? Wow, the soul is like an ocean. It is the deepest space and brightest coral reef, it’s as light as wind and as heavy as a mountain. And we all, every single one of us has it, and hate denies the truth of what’s there. Hate is a Lie. Love is truth. And that may be what I was most upset about. Love each other, everyone, love each other, that’s the truth of our realities. I can’t write all this down in a way that is concise, but today I feel, for the first time, Like I completed my goals in art, I may make more as time goes on, but I know who I am, I know what the truth is, and I know what love is, and for anyone who still has hate, I urge you to one day, look at all of my art and imagine it as the journey of a spirit for someone you may have never met, you’ll find so much there, and for now, I’m headed into other things, new worlds, new assignments, with a renewed love for life, and deep joy, and no one, absolutely no individual, can take that from me, because you know what? It belongs to everyone.

Climate Legislation

For almost a year, I’ve been working as a climate activist, marching, constant outreach, organising book clubs, joining a local climate action committee, and eventually becoming the Vice Chair of the Fairfax Climate Action Committee. I learned the basics of ecology, began to identify the life forms and plants in our environment in the forest, making it the central part of my research, and redesigned and volunteered my skills toward rebranding efforts and film development for the town here. We do so much, we have set out a plan for our town here, yet I knew that I had to act wherever I could, at the local level, state level, and national level to make sure that it’s recognized. What Biden is signing today includes the best yet attempt to mitigate against climate catastrophes, far from its original scope, but enough for us activists after two years of intensive efforts, and for some in the climate community much longer, stretching decades and even more than half a century. This was critical legislation that I know a lot of us are grateful for. We finally are doing something. We need to do more.

If you’re inside the climate community you can really see how dire the situation is. We share resources and are dedicated to very difficult issues that the mainstream media and other sources sometimes do not highlight, though with increasing urgency, they are heroically starting to cover more, and it couldn’t be starker. The climate disasters that have been around us for the past two years, and even longer than that demand it, and it’s becoming clear that we can’t look away. It’s also a central part of compassion. Recovery in disasters puts vulnerable populations at increased risk, and nowhere is safe, for all the cost of the original climate provisions, cost estimates of disasters and displacement caused by climate change will far exceed the allotments given to climate change initiatives that we are currently planning. I’m celebrating the wins today, but we have to do more. We are finally, for the first time, giving our planet a chance for survival, and all life within it itself.

If you see climate change from the problems that it will cause, beyond measure, you have to see how we have to act as boldly on this as we do for any emergencies. The survival of our planet is just that important. Can we look into our children’s eyes and promise them that we’ve done everything we can for their survival? Can we look out into the trees and landscape around us and hear the wind as a whisper that calls us to imagine a world with a life destroyed? Can we imagine the ocean like a rising storm that threatens our coastal communities? Can we tell our friends in the animal kingdom that we can’t let them live another day? As refugees move from climate disasters to where they don’t know? This is the reality if we do not act more on climate change. Today is an absolute win for environmental activists, but it is this activist’s personal belief that we need to do more, every day, and perhaps that is what I’m most excited about. Things like this should have been done decades ago, but as someone who grew up with artists speaking out before politicians would, I will take that position and align my work with theirs, as an artist, I will never stop pushing for a more equal and just world, founded on the principle that we have to preserve and protect all forms of life, and it is without question that that call is first answered by protecting against the problems since the Industrial Revolution. There are critical issues facing our time, but the very foundation of all of them should be the preservation of all life on earth, and if that doesn’t bring us together as a community, both on the most local and personal to the embracement of all the world, I don’t know what will.

Last Press Briefing

I kind of knew before I started my daily practice that I wouldn’t have time for the press briefing today, I had been going every day for over a year, and it was one of the best experiences. I wrote a bit about it at the time but it was the best way to learn about journalism. Listening to all of the reporters and giving a human experience to so many of the news organizations is vital. It should be required viewing at some point for anyone interested in our world’s culture. Journalists are some of the brightest and most brave individuals I’ve ever met, even in passing. I was there for them. My family has a history in journalism, and some of my favorite writers who aren’t journalists got their start there. It’s a beautiful form, a series of questions instead of answers, a researcher’s mind. I felt an instant kinship. Officiated by White House staff, I deeply asked my own questions in my mind and heard what they had to say. I put together a Twitter list with as many of them as I could find the names of in passing, I missed so many but I’ll still keep up with the Press Corp there.

It’s possible that my understanding of our country happened in the hour-long press briefings, so many different views, conservative, liberal, and internationally focused, brought a completely different world into my consciousness, and it was exhilarating to watch. But I’m getting too busy to keep up, I may view occasionally but in the amount of news I read it just means I get to what they’re looking for an hour or two after the briefing. I’m trying to reduce my news intake so I can be more focused in the day, and this was something I really needed. I don’t know any of them but I do know my work is seen, so I’d like to spend one entry just stating very impactfully that journalism is the cornerstone of our democracy. The Washington Post goes so far to say that “Democracy dies in darkness”, I’m not sure that that is extreme at all. the press is a vital form of every aspect of our culture. It was a deep honor to hear directly from them, but it’s become something I’ll have to let go of. I’ll never get a sash from Jen Psaki for being one more person watching the briefings. But I was there because I feel like sometimes my experience is a platform to allow for the sight of information, and I don’t regret a single second I was there.

Good luck everyone, you’ve got really difficult jobs to do, and I’m sure I’ll see you occasionally on twitter, thank you for being here for our country, and good luck the rest of the way, we need it now more than ever.