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25 posts categorized "Unclassifiable"

November 17, 2009


TORTOISE THAT COULD


If you're a follower of my blog, you know that I try my best to focus on the positive. After all, who wants to hang out with a whiner or a perpetual woe-is-me person? Not me. I'd much rather hang with those who can rise above it all ... like the tortoise who ultimately outpaces the hare. But the story of the tortoise has always symbolized for me that 1) challenges and negativity will always exist, and 2) you gotta find a way to use negative experiences to fuel the fortitude needed to stay positive.

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If you've been following this blog, you know that I immigrated from Korea at the age of 7. One of the most negative things that ever happened to me at the age of 8 happened in our first home in Bakersfield, California. Blackstone Court, to be exact.

Blackstone Court was a cul-de-sac and our home was my family's pride and joy ... one that we lived in as my parents worked incredibly long hours to make it happen for our family, while my brothers and I worked incredibly hard to bring home good grades. Lazy we were not. 

It's hard for me to really even acknowledge that this thing ever happened. 

This thing that happened is that one day, our neighbors started shoveling dog poop onto our driveway. I was so confused when I saw it happening. As the neighbors did what they did, they were laughing and making fun of the fact that we were Asian. That's what got me the most. How, I wondered, could an action that was causing me such pain, cause someone else to laugh? It was at that moment that I realized how ignorance can lead to behaviors that are cruel and damaging. 

As I saw this happening, and heard the laughing, I could feel this other thing happening within me. I liken it to how perhaps the tortoise felt when the hare was laughing at him and underestimating him. 

This thing that happened to me was this fierce determination that clicked on, deep within my entire being, to live a life where I would outpace and out-succeed the hare. 

Over the years, I have also learned that as important as it is to succeed, it's also important to try and eradicate ignorance through education and awareness so that cruelty can be prevented. Because the thing is, cruelty sometimes causes people not to become determined to succeed, but convinced to fail. 

Are you surprised by this post? I am. I didn't think I'd ever share that story. There are other stories that I could share about experiencing cruelty born out of ignorance. Can't promise if they'll ever come out on this blog ... we'll see. But regardless of the difficult stories we all live through, I still stand by the fact that we need to not allow those experiences to crush us. We need to use those experiences to help us become stronger, help us focus on the positive, become successful, and most importantly, to rise above.

October 29, 2009


PREPARING FOR THE SAIL


That famous movie with Tom Hanks titled Castaway has been on my mind lately. You remember the movie, don't you? In the blink of an eye, a plane crash results in him being stranded on an island. And it is on this island that he remains FOR YEARS. And during these years, he experiences his darkest demons ... so much so that he considers taking his life. 

Somerset Studio

 

But he doesn't. He decides not to give up. He never gives up. He copes, he survives, he laughs, he dances, he always keeps his eyes open, always keeps hope in his heart, and he continues. And this goes on not for days, not for weeks, not for months, but FOR YEARS. FOR YEARS. He never gives up FOR YEARS. And then all of a sudden he finds a broken part of a port-a-potty that washes ashore. And it is this object that he uses to create into a sail to build a sail boat that will help him conquer debilitating waves so that he can "go for it" in his most courageous and audacious attempt to find his way back to the world he loves.

Somerset Studio
 

There are two important lessons that this movie teaches me.

#1: No matter how wretched or dark our situations may seem, we can't give up. We can't give up. If there's one thing I know to be true, there is no reality that is perfect. No matter how perfect someone or some institution may seem to us, all people and all institutions are flawed. And when we find ourselves in the darkest moments, we have to keep going. And we have to hope that as we keep going, there may come a day when a broken part of a port-a-potty might wash ashore for us, that we can use to build a makeshift sail that can aid us in a bold move that we've prepared ourselves for. 

#2: When the timing is right, we gotta use courage with our makeshift sail to "go for it" and make our move. This is a most scary lesson to ponder because taking action to invite change into our lives in hopes to travel to a higher plane takes EXTREME courage. It can be downright frightening.

{Actually, there's another third lesson. As we keep at it and never give up, it helps to find coping mechanisms — like Tom Hanks did — by keeping a box with wings unopened to keep our imaginations engaged for the hope found in the unknown, and painting a face on a ball and naming him Wilson, to keep you company during the process.}


October 09, 2009


ART PERSISTS


I've been reading about Gee's Bend — a small rural community in Alabama. Learning about quilts that were created by African Americans living in Gee's Bend during one of the darkest times in our nation's history. When they were slaves, the women of Gee's Bend created quilts. In the face of hopelessness, in the face of slavery, in the face of ignorance, the women of Gee's Bend created beauty. They created art.

IMG_8691I marvel when art and beauty can be created without pretense. And when I learn of such instances, I stop dead in my tracks and think to myself, "Who am I to complain that I don't have the right fabric? Who am I to whine that I'm too busy? Who am I to try and make sure that the next gal doesn't get credit for my "invention?" WHO AM I?"

It is when art happens in spite of shackles, in spite of true adversities that I realize how much bigger art really is, in comparison to a world that I think should revolve around me. News flash: The world does not revolve around me.

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In the presence of a large boulder, a small sprig has the power to crack that boulder in half so that it can will itself to life. Art and beauty persist regardless of how much we humans clamor through the day to try and grab the credit, to fight over this and that, or to think that we can manipulate it this way or that. Art happens when you're cold and you're enslaved and you have to find a way to keep warm. Art happens when scraps of fabrics can be pieced together to the rhythm of your soul, where per chance the discards of your "masters" can create something that you love. 

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The power of art, and its ability to persist and emerge even in the darkest hour ... even in the presence of all the static and the noise of our worst selves ... is the greatest evidence that God exists.

July 18, 2009


HALF STEP TO MISSTEP


When I read Jude's post about sadness, I started thinking about what triggers it. And I started thinking about musical chords ... 

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... and how in order for a major chord to change to a minor one, only one single note in the middle needs to slide down by just a tenny tiny half step.
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Just a half step can change a happy tune to a profoundly sad one. And how if we're not careful, one inconsiderate word, one thoughtless action, one hurtful comment can change respect to dread, happiness to sorrow, joy to despair. 

And though sometimes words and actions of contrition can change a minor chord back to a major one, there are other times when the offending words and actions are so egregious that a minor chord can never change back to a major one. And rightly so. There are times I believe, when forgiveness is not appropriate.

July 13, 2009


SIR CHARLES WHEATSTONE'S CONCERTINA


Check out this beauty of a dictionary that I bought for just five dollars from the Santa Ana Library. It was published in 1976 and smells just as good as you would imagine ... mmmm ... that old library book smell.

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When you open it, there is a wonderful and grand picture of Mr. Noah Webster ... the person who laid the broad foundations upon which this dictionary was originally built.
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When you turn the pages, the entries are just so inviting. There are lovely illustrations throughout ... like this one of a woman playing the concertina. But what's interesting is that the entry for "concertina" explains that the word was "coined by Sir Charles Wheatstone, an English physicist who invented it." But when I look up the same word online through www.merriam-webster.com, a much more concise definition with a much less rich history is provided. Not a peep about Sir Charles Wheatstone.  
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All of this makes me wonder about how our knowledge of things evolve. We may think we've accumulated more knowledge throughout the generations but how do we know that for sure? How can we be sure that in the quest for speed, we haven't actually lost some of the rich details along the way? When kids looked up "concertina" in 1976, what they learned is different than what kids learn today through the Internet — not only in what is presented as definitions, but the entire experience of looking up a word.

July 04, 2009


I GOT NOTHIN'


For more videos ... sometimes about somethin' and other times about nothin', tune into my YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/jennycrescendoh

June 24, 2009


THE WORLD DID NOT FALL APART


AN OPEN MESSAGE TO ALL WHO HAVE LEFT ME A VOICE MAIL AT WORK WITHIN THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS:
I'm so sorry. Due to technical challenges, I've not had access to my voice mail. But just recently, I was able to solve this problem and finally accessed all the voice mails that have been accumulating during this entire period of time.

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OMG! Oodles and oodles of voice mails from all sorts of people ... some with questions about submissions, some with requests for referrals to services, some invitations for lunch, some former staff seeking job opportunities, some requests to meet up at art events, some businesses requesting consideration for product reviews and SO MUCH MORE!

Lessons I learned while listening to these voice mails:
1 For those who had REALLY important matters, they found a way to connect with me, even if I didn't return the voice mails.
2 Even though I neglected numerous voice mails over the past several months, the world did not fall apart.

PS: My voice mail is up and running again. I'll be checking regularly. : )

May 26, 2009


TRUTH & CONSEQUENCES


One of the things I have always struggled with is deciding when to continue pushing for truth and setting the record straight, and when to let it go. Sometimes, in order to reach the ultimate "win" and be effective and successful, the matter of setting the record straight in terms of "truth" needs to be put aside. 

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It's very tough to do because in all of us there is a desire to seek justice ... which makes us fear that by letting things go prematurely, history's truth might become distorted. What I rely on greatly in such instances is faith. That by letting go and moving forward, that ultimately, even if it takes many many years (as was the case for Galileo), the record will be set straight and truth will emerge. It's not easy. Not easy at all.

PS: Stitched heart by Ruth Rae atop of a Moleskine journal stamped with an image from Invoke Arts.

May 25, 2009


WORST-CASE SCENARIOS


In moments of crises, it's so important not to get flustered. Because once you get flustered, your judgement becomes impaired. You lose control, and you lose command. Think back to challenges of the past ... more likely than not, it's the one who has remained calm and cool-as-a-cucumber who has lead the way.
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For me, what helps is to ask myself: "What's the worst-case scenario?" For example, I've had times before when I've freaked out in the car because I'm about to run out of gas. But in that moment of panic, I ask myself what the worst case scenario would be, and force myself to visualize what that would be like. I take myself there. I visualize my car stopping, and my having to pull off to the side of the road. I visualize getting out and walking to the gas station and getting the gas, walking back and putting the gas in my car and then getting back on the road. Not so bad. I can survive that. Calm, cool, collected. 

Usually, the worst case scenario never happens. And though it's important to prepare for the worst case scenario, it's even more important to work toward the best case scenario. Keep my gas tank filled and my car maintained. Keep contributing to my savings account for a rainy day. Be ahead of the game with all of the projects on my plate at work and get things done before they are due. Get my annual medical check-ups and make sure my family members get their medical check-ups. In other words, be ready for the worst, but work toward the best. The very best.

May 12, 2009


JUST THE FACTS, MA'AM


It's crunch time. I have three editor's letters to write. One for Somerset Studio. One for Belle Armoire. One for Somerset Life. This stress happens every month but once I overcome it, I feel great. I really do try my best to say something meaningful in these pieces but let me tell you ... it takes all of me. Once they're written, I am completely drained and exhausted. So I hope you'll allow me to take liberties here to think through some concepts before I get to writing.

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For Somerset Studio, I want to tackle a couple of topics: censorship and the relevance of print media. Every now and then I find it interesting to hear debates within different pockets of society where free speech/non-censorship is championed. Those who champion it seek raw, unfiltered data. Just the facts, ma'am. In real life for people like me, I think about sources that provide raw data without filters. And I think of c-span. Just the facts, ma'am. Raw and unedited information about the goings-on in the legislature and no commentary. For a few minutes, c-span captures my interest. And then it bores me to tears. Can we PLEASE get Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow or Glenn Beck to say a few words about what they think about what's going on?! Because whether or not I agree with Anderson or Rachel or Glenn, I want some interaction here. Raw data alone means nothing until humans say something about it. 

OK. Next subject. Relevance of print media. There's so much talk these days about the fate of newspapers and magazines. So here's my thought. In terms of art, there's "raw data" out there. We can blog hop all night and find a cool "this" and a cool "that" but where's the thread that ties everything together? Where is the community? Is there a vehicle that can bring seemingly disparate expressions together, present it with stunning visual cohesiveness, and a passionate narrative that causes the reader to experience something holistically compelling and unique because the content has been SO imaginatively shepherded by an editor? 

For me, the answer is yes. We can blog hop all night. We can go from here to there and see a cool "this" and "that" but I do think there is a thirst we all have to seek something beyond just raw data ... whether we seek the shepherding to be from someone like Anderson or Glenn or Rachel ... we thirst for a way to engage with one another. To build a community. To have a relationship. Not "just the facts ma'am" ... but also a robust and passionate commentary that gets us thinking, imagining, creating.

OK. Thanks for letting me think out loud. Off I go to continue percolating all the ideas as it becomes a letter.
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