Wordless Intimacy

Credits: DodgertonSkilllhause

A couple sat in front of me on the underground today. They both took out their phones on settling in. He put his hand though on her thigh and it just stayed there.

Every now and then, they would come up for air from their phones, to leave little feather kisses on each other’s mouthes. It was truly beautiful and sublime to watch.

Every time they did it, it seemed like they would slow down as their lips touched. It wasn’t rushed, like kiss me so I can get back to Facebook, but rather I’ll meet you here in this moment.

Two people on their way to work, average-looking like I am, present and together, even as they’re doing different things, not having to talk or chit-chat to be together, their intimacy woven together with selfless physical contact and light kisses.

I really saw intimacy in action today.

Looking Back on the Doodle Challenge

30 days of real joy

This past Wednesday was my first submission for the 30-Day Doodle Challenge. I think I actually grew as a person during this challenge!

My fellow Kivran Danning asked me a month ago if I wanted to do the challenge with her. I had hangups about making art or drawing, but I went against them and just said yes. Just like with the Colories project, I’m moved by people’s reception of the posts, the amount of new people I’ve met on Instagram, and the amount of new artists I’ve discovered on the platform.

The Process

The goal was to doodle every day for a month. I started out by drawing on paper with pencil, but I felt frustrated by my lack of technique. I ended up just judging what I was doing.  So, I switched over to digital drawing and I felt liberated by the medium.

I really enjoyed making this series. Even when I couldn’t draw what I felt or saw in my mind’s eye, every piece felt like an achievement for me.

There was no prior deliberation or preparation for the style or themes. Apart from the 2 submissions that were pencil drawings, I used Adobe Illustrator Draw and Autodesk SketchBook.

First Post

#doodle 1. doing this challenge with @danshi_stockholm

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Last Post

Favorite Pieces

A friend and former co-worker told me recently, “Don’t scrutinize what you do.” Really priceless advice.

#doodle 10 #doodlechallenge2018 #doodlechallenge

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The brushes in Sketchbook are just spectacular. The final product really expressed how I was that day – serene and hopeful.

#doodle 11 #doodlechallenge2018 #doodlechallenge

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This one felt like I doodled on a wall.

This one from day 12 speaks to me because of the thickness and density of the brush strokes.

I kept on thinking of pointillism, as I did this and other similar pieces. I liked the idea of the extreme control in producing dots or points.

Lessons Learned

  1. Pick and run with the simplest tool. I probably would have given up, had I continued with pencil drawings. There is value in just picking the simplest tool and making whatever you can with it.
  2. Artists are just people who make art. I never dared making art before because I thought I needed someone’s acknowledgement or a degree from an art school.
  3. Constraints deepen the process. Just dabbing at the screen was fun, but I learned more and produced more interesting ideas when I enforced some constraint on myself – working with complementary colors, only points, only lines, and so on. It spurred me to be both conscious of technique and push myself further.

What’s Next?

A friend told me that I should look into art school. I’m going to do that! Shout-out to her for the encouragement and vote of confidence.

I’m writing down words and ideas for a longer series about our inner emotional and thought lives.

Finally, I’m sketching or drawing every day on my tablet, without posting it online.

Looking Back on the Colories Series

What started off as a curiosity with what could be done with a rubber duck, became a month-long comics series. I have been really moved by people’s reception of the posts, the amount of new people I’ve met on there, and the range of people I’ve encountered.

Yesterday was the last post on Instagram.

seize the sky.
ep 30, Colories

I wanted to reflect on the process, my favorite posts, lessons learned, and what’s next.

The Process

The goal was to produce a piece within an hour or two every day, for as long as the idea or concept seemed interesting to me. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the production or execution or polish. I just wanted to make art every day.

I really enjoyed making this series. Sometimes, I would get the idea a few minutes before taking the photo. And at other times, an idea would come to me and simmer for a while.

There was no prior deliberation or preparation for the style or themes. I decided all that when I took the shot. This kept me out of my head and ensured that the idea would be simple.

A few times, I ran out of ideas and so I would play with a cultural reference, pun, or simple using a prop.

ep 27, Colories – can you guess the reference?
ep 24, Colories – “turnin’ trix on myself”
ep 20, Colories – “amongst the scraps”

My Favorite Posts

Episode 16

“I’m a shit sandwich”

Episode 8

It was fun making the double exposures in Photoshop.

                          “all over the place”

Episode 1

I found the card in some advertisements in my mail.

“we’re OK and you’re OK”

Episode 7

My first stop-motion animation film. I really became interested in the medium because of this episode. There’s a separate write-up here.

#colories ep7 I did #comics #stopmotion #film #shortfilm #shortfilms

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Lessons Learned

  1. Show up every day. I made this a part of my daily morning routine and it paid off. I looked forward to producing something, even on days where I felt low or empty. The process, rather than inspiration, carried me.
  2. Listen to the weirdest idea. This is risky at first because it’s counter-intuitive. I thought that weird had to be planned or part of some greater theme. But just noticing and then following through with a weird idea is satisfying.
  3. Don’t get bogged down in execution. Enforcing the external constraint of time (doing it quickly) helped me stay pragmatic in how I would make the episode.
  4. It doesn’t have to be episodic to be episodic. The whole series is more an exploration of feelings and states, rather than a conventional narrative of a rubber duck. Sometimes, it was about me and sometimes the duck personified an idea or a problem, or just a human struggle. Keeping it loose and going also helped me to stay current and just keep on producing.

What’s Next?

I’m about to finish a 30-day doodle challenge. I will write a similar post about that.

And then… I want to make more art! And learn how to draw. And paint digitally out in the world.

Keep checking back!

On Growing Up

I saw a woman today for whom I have feelings. It’s a quiet, warm affection I have for her. I’m happy when I see her face. My body tingled when I’m around her.

I wanted to try to like her less today or in a less intense way. But I don’t fight like that anymore with myself. I accept and I surrender. Then, the feelings stay but they go quiet. They may have just wanted to be seen. Like putting with care a pacifier into an irritable child’s mouth.

Our last couple of hugs have been relaxed and charged with meaning. Familiar hugs. You know that they’re going to let go, but you’re not in a rush.

She’s strong, solemn, a fighter, and warm. I miss her when I don’t see her.

I’m Resting

The wind was fierce
I was close
to be swept and pierced

Hurling through wind
as I gasped
nearing old sin

Tumble weed I was
but I rest
As tumble weed does

The Past Three Days

I know I went dark these past three or four days. It was dark and it felt dark.

Life revolved around keeping head above water. It looked possible at a few points that I would sink again.

By the grace of God, I didn’t. I just fought through it, a war of attrition through every moment until the enemy retreated.

I am left with a sense of longing, more than shame or guilt. The past weeks before this week’s toil were just great – immersed in the creative arts and blogging every day.

Back on track now. Till tomorrow!

The Curse of Over-engineering

We have two half days (affectionately known as Freaky Fridays) at work a month, where we get to work on our own projects or explore something new. Yesterday was dedicated to exploring Angular 2.

I thought that it might be a good opportunity to test it out in a real-world application – my Flashcards app to help me learn Swedish vocabulary.

The syntax isn’t too dissimilar from AngularJS, but rather is abstracted in more boilerplate code. Getting a basic app going, by following the Quickstart Guide, wasn’t too difficult.

“Look at where you have to be.”

Then, there was a knock at the door. It was Earl, the Grim Reaper of Over-Engineering. He asked me to remember that I am a software engineer and that everything has to be TIP TOP from build one.

So, the curse kicked in and I started scrambling to get the basic setup working with Webpack. I tried cramming in a Webpack tutorial, alongside the Angular 2 tutorial. Soon, it just became about cursing the day Webpack was built and racing through Stackoverflow, hoping someone else wrote something to make everything PERFECT now.

10 minutes before the end of the day, I realized… wait.

The goal was to learn Angular 2 and use it to build an app.

That’s it.

I told Earl that there was another engineer across the street, about to do something simple. He scurried away.

I gutted out the Webpack configuration and stuck with the lite-server package suggested in the Quickstart guide.

Moral of the story: fuck Earl and fuck over-engineering.

 

Learning How to Work in a Team

I am working on a new feature for one of our microservices. It’s about a medium-sized T-shirt that involves working with AngularJS’s ui-router, working with new API endpoints, and writing some CSS from scratch. I’m excited! And a little daunted…

To work against being overwhelmed and becoming unproductive, I focused on tackling the hardest part first – the routing and views. I knew that I was going to work with ui-router, so I read through a few tutorials and brushed up on routing in AngularJS.

I then put together quickly some mock views to connect to the new states and routes. This felt better than starting to code markup and styling, I had to remove the unknown first.

The tutorials only got me so far, so I stopped and thought about it. I did some searches on Google. After a few iterations on this cycle, I reached out to a coworker. Instead of telling him it’s broke give me the codes!, I explained what I had done, what I was trying to achieve, and what wasn’t happening as I expected. Rather than him coming to help me google, it turned into a discussion about patterns, structuring code, and a brief pair-programming to get something working quickly. I even got some praise that my initial concept is good and that I should just find the right balance, between sound design and time spent on the solution.

I thought of this article after the whole discussion with my coworker.

The Weekend It Was – Midsummer, Code, and The Lake

I’ll write about the whole weekend in one single post because I now have two new email subscribers! Thank you, it means a lot…

This weekend was about staying in the discomfort and coming out the other side.

Coding

WordPress Development

And the other side is really sublime, calm, and beautiful. I had been procrastinating on a large coding project for a while now. It was scary and seemed insurmountable. I did a little bit every now and then, but I thought that I could get it done in one major marathon-session. That never happened.

So, this weekend over two sessions, I got the project done. It’s for a WordPress theme and plugin for a non-profit organization, so that their members across the world can set up a new website with information pre-populated from a centralized store.

It was good to be writing PHP again. The plugin and theme architectures take a while to get used to, but I’m impressed by what I can do with the API.

Custom PHP Application

Last year, I started coding a basic web application so that people at my church can digitalize the readings used in our liturgical services.  A few weeks ago, the main user told me that he needs the link to the app. So, as I was about to re-send him the link, I discovered that there were some bugs in the app. (Read: the app didn’t work.)

I understand fully now why we have code reviews, pull requests, and documentation. The code made absolutely no sense to me. It could only speak to my state of mind (frazzled) last year.

An opportune time to bring in unit testing, I went straight to where the main bug was and see how I could fix it. It got messy. I installed and configured to use PHPUnit with phpunit-watcher. The lion share of my time was getting the unit tests to reference the code and play nicely with Composer’s autoloading.

When it finally did work.. I realized that this function was doing too much. Writing the unit test compelled to refactor it to this. It still needs more work, but the process taught me a lot.

Midsummer in Sweden

It was a delightful and beautiful time, watching the raising of the Midsummer pole and families dancing around.

20180616_1504008436154387916906822-1

Picture 1 of 21

… took some videos, too

 

 

A first day with test-driven development

This is a little late, but better late than giving up.

Yesterday was hard. I spent the whole day, trying to get a testing stack going with Mocha, Chai, and AngularJS. It didn’t work, so I switched to Karma, Chai, and AngularJS. It kinda worked, but not entirely. So I switched to Jasmine. Still no cigar.

It was frustrating and a little demoralizing. But, I’ll try again on Monday.