30 December 2013

NYE

Good morning, Tri-State area, and welcome to the last day of the old year, not that it really matters. The counter will reset to 1, you will return to work in a few days' time, it'll take you three weeks to get used to writing 2014 instead of 2013, and life will go on, just as it has for the past 4 billion years.

Sometimes I feel like the wise old man in an ivory tower (Side: I should build an ivory tower). I only say that because I question the reasoning behind celebrating New Year's. New Year's, like every other holiday in America, has more or less just become an excuse to celebrate. And what is with the American desire to celebrate so often? But seriously, what are we celebrating? If you ask every person in Times Square that question tonight, they'll all make up some bullshit answer like "We're reflecting on the past year and making resolutions for the next one, whee~"

Resolutions, man. I don't think I've ever met someone who, on New Year's Eve, celebrates the successful accomplishment of one of their year's resolutions. Myself included! I find it difficult to believe that New Year's is a chance for one to welcome the new year with a "fresh start" because nobody really ever gets a fresh start in life. The entirety of being is based on the fact that you accumulate knowledge and experience and New Year's shouldn't be an excuse for you to suppress the not so good things you've done in the past year. Resolutions are arbitrary statements that you post on Facebook that you think make you seem worldly and wonderful to your 524 friends. Well, your 524 friends are thinking the same thing as they post their status updates, only for you to scan it with a sneer.

New Year's shouldn't be a special excuse to celebrate. You can celebrate everyday, what's stopping you, really? Just pop open a bottle of bubbly whenever you please and make a holiday out of it, I beg you. To those of you who sincerely enjoy celebrating New Year's, I genuinely hope you have a good night. To those of you who are stuck at parties that make you feel slightly uncomfortable, my best advice for you is to keep drinking. And to everyone else who modestly enjoys their New Year's, cheer up!

This year, my anti-resolution will be not to die/drop out of school, which I will probably post on Facebook. But yeah, trying to prevent myself from dying so that I can live to see 2100 seems pretty do-able, right? Unless there are unforeseen.... well, it isn't anymore, so...

Free Yourself

Thought: All of these photos have been taken before, for they are all of things that have been and surely I am not the first to have come upon them.

Despite a sorely missed connection, I ventured out into the world today. For the first time in practically forever, I took it upon myself to discover something. And I think I did.

I may be prematurely declaring this, but I've come across a very interesting area, one that may be considered the subject of my thesis project come fifth year. But that's 4 and a half years away, so I've got plenty of time to change my mind. This small area north of Houston is experiencing gentrification and funnily enough, the further down the income scale I travelled, the less interesting the neighborhood became. But alas, I think that only applies to the exterior. Carefully thought out storefronts were swapped out for cookie-cutter public housing and colored-in street art declined in number. On the outside, the buildings became uglier, but on the inside, I can imagine that the inhabitants become more faceted.

The adventure beyond my bed was fairly pleasant in that I have things to show for it. Lesson: Keep no itinerary, no map, no watch, just yourself and a camera (maybe a notebook too). Free yourself from the known and go where you've never gone before.

Doldrums!

I mostly find myself writing for this humdrum site during the most inconvenient times. And most of the time, the things that I write during these aforementioned times of day are rather humdrum in retrospect. Sometimes I'll begin to write something only to lose interest after the second sentence and close the window, never to reopen the untitled, unfinished post again.

A couple weeks ago, I realized that the dearth of writing that I've produced in the past semester may have contributed to my deteriorating oratory ability. (I've also found that I have trouble describing my architectural projects to others, but that's another story.) The infographic in my head describes the lack of literary consumption that resulted in a hiatus in writing which has cumulatively caused my deteriorating oral ability, all of which are by-products of being an architecture student.

The question I ask is: How can I improve my fluency and eloquence, especially when it comes to describing my projects? It seems as if I am only able to present fairly well with an iota of preparation and am unable to properly map out the course of the conversation I seek to ignite. When someone prompts me about what I'm doing, my mind immediately goes blank and I offer a blank stare and an "Uuuhhhhhhhh...." Classy, right?

I think the solution lies not in reading or writing more, but in planning ahead and asking the right questions. That brings me to point out that in order to ask the right questions, you must be prompted to do so by a evocative topic of conversation. That being said, expose yourself to interesting things! Explore sections of the bookstore that you typically scorn, try the "white girl drink" at Starbucks that you've successfully avoided, wear the neon pink shoes you really like that garners funny stares, and so on and so forth.

Keep your brains conditioned throughout the break. Go on information binges, catch up with the news! Continue asking questions, continue exploring. Don't hibernate for a month in bed with Netflix and a perpetually refilling bowl of popcorn (although that does sound fairly idyllic and is probably what I'll be doing). Be prepared to return to school with an explosive mind, not one stuck in the Doldrums.

I commend you if you've retained any bits of this, for I find that my eyes scan everything and peruse nothing. 

19 December 2013

A Year in Review

Ah, winter break! A well-deserved reprieve for hard-working students everywhere, a kind gift for (hopefully) acing finals and reviews. Especially reviews. 

It’s hard to believe that the year is already coming to an end, but what a year it has been. I’ll spare you the misery of reading a long and boring recap where I brag about all the things I’ve accomplished in 12 months like an overly proud parent who loves voicing how proud she is of little Bobby’s bronze medal in the peewee olympics. 

How do you measure a year in the life? Let’s break it down:
2 schools
1.5 semesters of college
1 really bad haircut
1 new pair of glasses that I am now unable to not wear
12 job prospects
6 months of tutoring
7 days in the mountains
60 min. commute to school during rush hour (with a ride to the train)
90 min. commute to school on the weekend
3 x 30-Day Unlimited Metrocard 
3 x 7-Day Unlimited Metrocard
6 Everlane tees 
2 overworn pairs of BDG hi-rise black pants
8 AM arrivals Mon-Fri
8 PM/later departures 
5 rolls of paper (of various types)
4 8B pencils
4 sketchbooks; 2 full, 2 in progress
2 lost Muji pens (1 of which is indefinitely out of stock at NYT Muji)
0 misplaced/broken/stolen items of significant value (other than the Muji pen which I loved so dearly)
1 arch school all-nighter (quite a feat, I’ve come to hear)
2 midnight trips to Insomnia Cookies
1 fantastic semester

And of course, there are items of unknown quantities, all of which are better left unknown…
Lety’s dessert bundles
Starbucks latt├ęs
visits to the art store
Muffins, so many muffins
Breakfast sammies

But you can’t reduce an entire 525,600 moments to numbers! Ask yourself this: are you happier now than you were in January? In an ideal world, the answer will always be a resounding YES. But I can’t help but pose the question of how high your happiness can grow after a certain point. I think I’ll control myself from plunging into the philosophy and economics of happiness now. Take a moment to consider your happiness though, and challenge yourself to be happier in the upcoming year. Everything is possible.

I’ll close this note with a very big THANK YOU. Thank you to everyone—and I mean everyone—for being such fantastic people who have contributed to my journey. Wow I feel like I’m writing an acceptance speech for a major award that I haven’t even been considered for (what?). 

Live on, friends! Work harder, dream harder, make bigger goals, achieve them all with flying colors, impress people, fight for what you love, let go of what you lose; live, love, peace, and prosper! 



Forever yours,

J

28 November 2013

Brain aches

It feels like this sentiment is long overdue because it's been on my mind for quite some time. It, like 90% of the things that I think about these days, is about architecture. But this time, it's not about how much I love architecture or any of the plethora of related topics. Rather, it's how disappointed I am with architecture. Specifically, I'm disappointed with the imposition of reality on architecture. (Which is basically every engineer's job)

Before you pursue architecture, you imagine that everything architectural fits inside a box. When you begin to take an interest in the field, a door appears and you step inside. Then school starts and you're taught to take a sledgehammer to those walls because there is no box. Actually, allow me to correct myself: there is a box. It represents everything that you've ever assumed to be true and the world outside of the box is the uncomfortable, whatever it may be. But the presence of a box is entirely dependent on your acknowledgement of the box: If you don't acknowledge the a box, there is a box, and vice versa. Then there are people like me who kindly acknowledge the box then proceed to ignore it for the entirety of Thanksgiving dinner. (what am I even trying to say?)

Anyway, the box initially represents the parameters you place on yourself: the things you don't think are possible, the things you want to recreate that you've seen in magazines, stuff like that. But as architecture school progresses, a box will progressively begin to form around you. This time, the box represents the parameters of reality. And by the time you graduate, you will have learned how to create "good" architecture that creatively fits within this reality-shaped box.

So here I am, immersed in the ocean of unreality, thinking that I can create totally unrealistic things because there is no box. But by 2018, I'll be enclosed back in a box that I may be pining to break free from. I'm questioning my place in this Mobius strip world where there is reality and unreality at the same time while I only want to be in unreality.

Maybe I'm overthinking things. Maybe I should just succumb to the expectations of my peers, elders, etc., and continue on in this unsatisfying world. Will I become an architect at the end of the road? Probably not. Maybe I will. Maybe I'll encounter a billionaire developer who embraces unreality and will hire me to build things that can never be.

Side note: I've become very disinterested in the word "building." It leaves a yucky blerghness in my brain whenever I have to utter it.

Side note 2: I'm fairly certain my brain is slightly incapacitated, for I have been recently incapable of translating my ideas from brain to speech.

Side note 3: We learn not to get attached to our ideas and I've become so unattached that I' m not grasping onto anything and thus am not making any progression.