When I started writing the notes for my “LATLAC” series, I think I was operating under a heavy dose of unearned optimism. In my defense, back in January, I was staring down a very palatable-seeming semester. Sure, I had two jobs, a full course-load and a couple of extracurriculars, but relative to past semesters at my grad school, on balance I was practically going to be vacationing my way through my final semester.
I was, as I so often am, lying to myself. I picked up several obligations and drove myself to a near burn-out pretty rapidly. Because apparently, to quote a TikTok audio (yes, this is my COVID coping mechanism): “I don’t want peace. I want problems, always.”
And then I thought to myself: Well, Spring Break is around the corner! Maybe I’ll pick up LATLAC where I left it off then!
Turns out, I was severely overestimating my desire to do literally anything that isn’t watching TikToks. Coping mechanism and all. Needless to say, I’ve been feeling pretty guilty, and also kind of sheepish. Apparently analyzing animated cartoons for war crimes isn’t the reprieve I had imagined it to be. I do plan on going back to the series! It’s useful for keeping my knowledge sharp. I just don’t know whether that needs doing in the middle of the actual semester. Hopefully, I’ll be able to revisit the project this summer.
I don’t have a whole lot to be insightful about in this blog post. It’s been a busy semester. I was able to publish a poem with Honey Literary, which is always validating. I’ve gone back to painting. I think that’s been the most wonderful, unexpected source of pleasure for me amidst all the stress. I’ve noted before that I don’t think I’d really recovered from my IGCSE art exam, and I feel like I’m finally back where I was before I had the joy of making art for fun sucked out of me.
Painting again has made me pay renewed attention to detail, tiny moments of beauty, the gorgeous aberrations in my day to day. I feel like the mindfulness I’d lost – rather, the mindfulness I’d tried to stave away since the pandemic began for fear of looking at the world with both eyes – is coming back in easier, palatable ways. I’m remembering why I wanted to be an artist in the first place, but rather than that part of me warring with the life – and career – I’ve chosen, I think I’ve come to an understanding within myself. If I feel myself slipping because work is too difficult, or the world is heavy (as it always is), I can rely on making art to ground me.
With that mindfulness has come reflection. Bittersweet reflection, if I’m being honest. My final semester at Fletcher – my dream school – means the end of my time at Fletcher is right around the corner. I’m sad, increasingly, but also so grateful.
Anyway, in lieu of getting emotional, here’s some art I’ve made.
…What? I didn’t say going back to painting made me perfect.
More soon, I hope!