2016 so far has been a challenging and exciting journey through the world of dance! It started off in January with new routines, new costumes, and new difficulty levels, and since then, things have been active and going strong!
My partner and I have come a long way since we both started dancing and competing together, but we still have so much more to improve on! Dancesport sometimes become tough on the mind, body and emotions, and the pressure to improve in ability and ranking feels high every time. The atmosphere, politics and culture surrounding the competitive ballroom environment sometimes become challenging. Doing my best to enjoy each lesson, practice, and event while reflecting on things that can be improved each time. It’s a work in progress.
This year, we had another opportunity to work and perform at FanimeCon’s Black & White Ball for Memorial Day weekend. It was such an incredibly fun and refreshing social event that helped ground and reset my thoughts and feelings after the spring season full of competitive events, and reminded me of all the other aspects of dance that I enjoyed. It’s a great feeling bringing joy and entertainment to friends, attendees and watchers, hoping they will also catch the dance bug and be inspired to learn ballroom!
We are continuing to practice throughout the summer, and hope to be back on the competition floor in July for International Grand Ball! There are more goals for travel next year that we hope to reach as well. Other than that, I’ll share videos and write up a longer post focused on the recent FanimeCon weekend soon! And outside of dance, there have been a lot of exciting work projects and photo gigs happening lately that I’m pretty excited to share. Stay tuned!
I’m a little late to the party, but I finally finished Life is Strange not too long ago. I’m a sucker for nostalgia and feels and choices and all that, and I’ve mentioned before that narrative/story driven games were my favorite ones. So, the game hit me pretty hard in all the right places, and I enjoyed thinking about how it made me felt and how I related to it in my own past. How would I change my own past, if at all? If I had any sort of time traveling power, I think I’d be too afraid to use it. I’d be too afraid to lose whatever present I have now, that I worked hard to gain, despite being given the choice to make things “better.” And yet, I would enjoy revisiting old times again and again, just to feel again how I felt back then. Because I do that even now- searching through old diaries, old photos, old music, time traveling in my own way. Too often for maybe the regular amount for someone my age, like a bad habit.
Funny enough while I was playing through and finishing up the game, I had a series of strange and coincidental occurrences happen in the last week.
I somehow randomly found my old internet chat/RP group from way back when I was a freshman in high school (lol, like 10 years ago?) and did some internet sleuthing. I found them and got connected again, to see how things were. I was welcomed back in the group and scrolled through the mindless chatter and clever jokes- like nothing had changed. I got a teeny bit emotional and amused at how much they remembered of high-school, internet-persona me.
I suddenly ran into someone from years past while walking down the street toward downtown. A stranger from a time once past and a different world now, an 18 year-old me coming of age. I was on my iPod, earbuds in, when it happened and this frikken song from Life is Strange was playing too clearly and too fittingly (seriously wow wth)- I wish I made that up, but it happened. I was unsure how to handle it. And a little annoyed at how surreal of a moment it was.
Facebook keeps doing this thing where it brings up past photos of my dancing from 4, 5, 6 years ago and asks me if I want to share these old memories, again and again. Every time I see a photo, I think about it all over again. How things have changed for me, as a dancer and a person!!
A neighborhood wandering cat that my dad fed consistently passed away yesterday. It looked like got hit in the middle of the street in front of my house. I had just discovered it on my way walking home, and it looked fresh. I think I was the first to see it. We’re pretty sad about it. What kind of an omen is THAT?
From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a new word I randomly came across on the web the other day, that resonated a little more than I expected:
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
Just a few poignant moments that come in waves, that choose to come in spectacular phases in life, that probably mean nothing but mean so much at the same time, as the way life usually does. Anyway… I really enjoyed Life is Strange, and am looking to be inspired by games similar to it! Other titles off the top of my head that I enjoyed in a similar vein: The Stanley Parable, Bioshock Infinite, The Beginner’s Guide, To the Moon. I’ve heard of: Oxenfree (though I’m not good with horror), Firewatch, Heavy Rain. Other recommendations?
Also, did a ton of dancing and competing lately. It’s been great. Fun photos and thoughts on those to come!
The weather’s been cold, the holiday feelings have been creeping in, and personal reflections of the past year have been bubbling up. I’ve been sitting in Starbucks a lot lately with a cup of Peppermint Mocha (guilty pleasure, I know), having bi-weekly adultlife chats with my musician cousin, thinking about career, dance, and life. Autumn is my favorite season!!
The last couple of months have been a good time to connect with friends and colleagues in their 20s, all working, pursuing dreams, keeping busy, etc. I’ve been reflecting a lot on past events and places that got me here (really, when do those thoughts ever stop?), and feeling nostalgic. In September, I visited my old office and previous workplace from a year ago to say hi and greet familiar faces. Everyone was really friendly and kind- and it really resonated with me how important a positive work culture and environment was to me. I went to my old high school’s homecoming football game (we won by like 40 points!), and emailed my high school multimedia teacher from 8 years ago, updating her on my status now and to see how she was doing. She emailed back happily.
“As an art major, it is a challenge to get through college and find your creative path.”
It’s been a big time for me to pursue change recently, getting involved in local projects (there’s a huge web project and community I’d love to talk about, once it’s ready to be public and launched!), seeking new environments, dancing very hard to distract myself from the sometimes overwhelming bouts of overthinking… It’s been one of the most difficult years, honestly, due to personal circumstances, so I’ve been working hard and thinking hard about ways I can bring a positive change to my life before end the year. Navigating the boundary between having an art education and a self-taught technical background in the Silicon Valley, especially as a millennial, comes with unique difficulties, but I’m optimistic things will turn out the way they are meant to, with the new skills and people I learn along the way.
Speaking of web projects! A while ago, I had posted that I was working on my website at http://digital-dust.net. It’s actually still in progress and not yet quite finished, but you can at least take a look at the portfolio section to see some work I’ve done. Wanted try avoiding using a CMS for this site, and instead hand-code it from the ground up for personal practice, so there are still many tweaks and content to be added. Take a look, if you like!
In other news, my partner and I are still active in the Bay Area dancesport scene, improving as much as we can. We’ll be competing again this Saturday at the 2nd Annual San Jose State Spartan Invitational (it’s only $5 to watch, all day. free for SJSU students)! Here’s an archived live stream of Autumn Dance Classic from October- we show up at around 16:50 and again at 40:00. I’m the one in the yellow dress!
It’s amazing to look back at past videos, experiences, even if they’re just a month ago, and say out loud to yourself and others… “Wow, I’ve gotten better since then. No really, our dancing’s ugly in this one. Wait ’til you see us NEXT time, seriously!
Random nerd-related asides: I’m addicted to The Walking Dead. Dancing with the Stars is another guilty pleasure of mine. Just finished the story mode of Guild Wars 2, Heart of Thrones. Debating on whether I should pick up Legacy of the Void. Doctor Strange is releasing in theaters on my birthday next year. And it apparently took me this long to discover Welcome to Nightvale… what a strange and compelling podcast.
Living as a millennial with intense bouts of half self-doubt and half-optimism while journeying for the right career path? Fellow ballroom dancer that can provide advice on hip flexibility issues, specifically on the left side? Any thoughts on movies, television, and media in general? Excited for the Nintendo Direct later today? DO YOU THINK GLENN IS STILL ALIVE?!
For my senior capstone project, I’ve been working on a installation and gallery show that will be coming up in the first week of April. It’s inspired by text-based RPGs, interactive choose your-own-adventures, and the concept of agency within video games in general. It will be the major stepping stone on my way to graduation, so it’s kind of a big deal! I’m both excited and anxious about how this will turn out.
Although conceptually and mechanically many of the pieces are already (kinda) in place, one of my major struggles is piecing everything together through good writing and delivery in the context of an installation space. I feel that my writing is decent on paper, but I realized that storytelling on a bigger scale is much more difficult (of course!)- add choices, branches, different outcomes, an environment where sounds and images can make or break the entire thing, and an overall message that may or may not be that subtle, and it suddenly becomes an intimidating thing.
(My Boyfriend Came Back from the War by Olia Lialina; a good example of a web narrative piece that heavily influenced the type of work I’m interested in right now.)
I’ve been reading and researching articles and writings on the role of the narrator within digital media, hypertext, fiction, even playing a ton of video and web games lately while thinking about things from a different perspective, but I still find it a mental struggle. I’m finding a lot of inspiration from many artists and gamers, but there’s still so much that I don’t know and am still trying to analyze and figure out in the ways that make sense to me. Despite all of this, there’s only so much research I can do before I finally put my own thoughts on paper and deliver something that comes from me.
I’m a little hesitant about sharing this now as it’s very much still a work in progress, but here’s my current project site.
Anyway! I think a little struggle is good, and that writing about my personal progress in a public way will help me generate some ideas and organize some things- if you have thoughts or suggestions or links, feel free to share it with me!