How we look for it again. A childhood memory, pages from the sketchbook, a new animation app.
You move toward a better reality.
You live with the loss.
But you live.
—Jesmyn Ward, Town Hall’s Let Us Descend
Mom used to take us to Huntington Beach Library on Saturday mornings. It’s a large, multi-floor, multi-wing building, surrounded by green acres with tiny bridges and butterflies. Inside: an atrium, a spiraling walkway over water, nooks, and tables.
After picking out our books, my sisters and I were allowed two snacks each from the vending machine. I always chose single ounce bags of chips, like Doritos and Funyons. Back home, I’d spend the rest of the day curled up in a corner on my bed, glued to a stack of Nancy Drews while savoring my treats.
It’d be a while until a book would disappoint me. I selected classics at random: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Catcher in the Rye. I thought life would always be this way; every book I picked up, a sure thing.
Reflecting on those childhood Saturdays, I’m struck by how easy it was to spend hours reading, undistracted and uninterrupted. How pure that happiness was, and how regularly I practiced it. I don’t have New Year’s resolutions per se, but I did, this would be a good primer.
In the studio
I’m gearing back up after a much-needed holiday break. Music rights for Mother Land are finally sorted, and I’ve been steadily submitting to festivals. As promised, here’s the finished watercolor sequence that made it into the final cut:
Now that I’m again in that liminal space between projects, I’m back to exploring concepts through sketches and vignettes (short, looping animations). Just in time, a new tool for animating on the go:
Procreate Dreams is a new iPad animation app, sister to Savage Interactive’s wildly popular Procreate. It takes some refreshing liberties with traditional animation UI. The timeline, for example, feels much more fluid and unanchored. You also have the option to animate by recording what happens on “stage” directly (e.g., transforms, movement).
The minimal interface can take some getting used to, and there are a few things that need to be ironed out or added. For instance, I’m surprised that I’m unable to set the background color, or frame duration, except by tapping or dragging (no explicit values).
The app is still worth adding to the toolkit and trying out, even if you’re a casual user, or just want to get it for your kid—it’s a steal at a one-time fee of $19.99 USD.
This month, Member contributions helped me pay for submissions to film festivals. Submission fees usually range from $10 to $40, a few being free—but many, like Brooklyn’s, are upwards of $80! Thanks for investing in me, and my work ❤️
Not gonna lie, 2023 was a struggle in the aftermath of last winter. The first anniversary of my father’s death came and went. Depression has been a constant underlying hum. I read relatively few books, spent too much time on my phone, gave into the easy analgesic that is the tv.
Still, there were high notes. I fell in love with phonotropes, finished another film (trailer), and briefly explored what it feels like to be an operator at a very early stage start-up. I became an active member of an artist collective. I was in an exhibit covered by a national newspaper. I discovered Jamaica. I hosted my first dinner since lockdown four years ago. Several new relationships inspire and nourish me.
Here’s what else has been nourishing
When I can’t be bothered: a tin of sardines. A barely ripe banana and a handful of good, unsalted nuts. A hard-boiled egg, with a single Maille cornichon. A crisp persian cucumber and half an avocado, also barely ripe.
Three mile runs while listening to celebrity-studded audio fiction, of which there are tons. The Cipher is entertaining. Rami Malek stars in Blackout. Alan Cumming in Evergreen. Nathan Fillion and Wil Wheaton in Bridgewater. Chris Pine in Ad Lucem. Chloe Grace Moretz in Gaslight.
Belly-breathing. When you’re in a bad place and someone tells you to breathe, this is how they mean: take a slow intake of air to push your belly out as far as you can. Breathe out as slowly.
Breethe first thing in the morning. It’s supplanted Headspace on my phone, with hypnotherapy and tapping in addition to straight meditation. It feels more education-focused, too.
Yoga. As much as I’d love to, I can’t commit 1.5 hours every day to it, so I just do 10 minutes. Search for 10 min Yoga with Kassandra on Youtube and have at it.
Reading on a rumbling A or D express train surrounded by strangers doing the same. A long subway ride facilitates focus and blocks FOMO like nothing else. I’m going through The Best American Essays 2013 right now (somehow missed that edition). Everything in it so far has been stellar (not always the case every year), including Alice Murno’s “Night.”
If you must tv, Extraordinary Attorney Woo is on Netflix. I found it easy and interesting. It’s about a young attorney with autism, each episode a different case in the context of ongoing threads and relationships in the office and social life. It’s a refreshing departure from the usual Kdrama formula, and I laughed out loud and even cried a few times. On Hulu/FX, Season 5 of Fargo is almost as good as Season 1. Juno Temple (Ted Lasso) and Jon Hamm (Mad Men) star.
Last but not least: an entire can of grapefruit bitters and soda sipped 2 fluid ounces at a time from a delicate shot glass. Weirdly satisfying.
Happy 2024. May happiness find you—and you, it—again and again.
Until next time.