Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my journal.

04 Jun '17  — Homemade life altering experiences

Yesterday, one of the original youtubers came back on you tube. She posted an animated story describing about her addiction to success.

I came away thinking: 'I'm SO glad I'm not addicted to success.'

'Good thing life changing success has never happened to me.' It might seem self deprecating but it's not.

I don't know what I have, but when I get the flu, I now need to spend weeks in bed. My body gets extremely tired. I don't cough or sneeze as much as when I used to get the flu, my body reacts in a different way--it's extremely tired. When you've experienced so much weakness, it's a miracle to able to sit. I'm reminded of that every time I get sick, which is often enough.

The miracle of being able to sit up, stand and go for a walk without getting tired--I'm more successful every second than I'm not. The variance in health allows me to be thankful.

I may not be addicted to success but I am addicted to sugar and caffeine. It's officially one week I've gone without either. I hear it takes 2-4 weeks for the withdrawal symptoms to go away.

This isn't about beauty or health.

A diet transforms the physiological workings of my body. It's about becoming someone else.

To go cold turkey on something, whether it is caffeine or sugar, or animal products, symbolizes my ability to immediately morph into a new mode of being.

It's not that I don't want to me anymore, it's more like going on a journey, moving to a new place. Getting a new job. You become someone other than who you previously identified with.

Right now, I'm constantly irritated, anxious, I can't sleep well. I feel like there's a demon coming out of me.

I'm also inspired by ayahuasca, the hallucinations and the puke. It's a purging of the old that allows for new. So the agitation I feel now, as irritating as it is, is relatable to the hallucinations, the puking.

I don't need to travel to Peru to have a life altering experience. Just getting rid of sugar, a substance I'm deeply addicted to is my homemade version of the ayahuasca experience. It's more mild in flavor.


03 Jun '17  — A studio visit

One of my favorites: 'Zu Verschenken'

Tara Deacon is a South African artist I came across half a year ago. I was drawn to her leafy foliage and everyday objects, from chairs to pottery.

I got to see the brushstrokes.

There's so much online it's difficult to immediately tell whether something is special. Many works appear exciting at first, but upon another glance, they lose appeal.

Several months went by before I came across Tara's work again. Not knowing it was her, I fawned over multiple illustrations until I came across the ones I was first attracted to. The same paintings won my heart even more--my eyes hadn't tired.

Perhaps it has something to do with the amount of nature featured in her work. It's refreshing to look at. But color is the strongest component that makes Tara's paintings stand out. No matter the combination, her works all suggest a cohesive flavor of optimism. Her paintings give me a feeling of warmth, happiness and freedom.

One of my recent favorites is an illustration of cardamom. The wavy strokes on the exterior of the pods looked as if they were softly coming alive.

"Sometimes I visualize the colors before I start." Other times, Tara experiments with different shades before deciding.

Producing a consistent style hadn't always been easy. She mentioned how long it took to find her own voice. This was a challenge only after she found herself as an illustrator, which hadn't been straight forward.

Having studied industrial design, she started playing with watercolors while au pairing in Holland. Eventually, Tara created more illustrations, and moved to gouache, the paint that first sparked her interest back in high school.

After graduating, Tara had a decision to make: should she work for a furniture manufacturer? With her background, she had expertise in injection molds and product design. But it didn't feel right.

Green palettes: "I don't wash them out. I leave them in unless I really want to start over. I'll use them for reference, maybe use a few shades in the next illustration."

I related to her experience. I didn't know what truly felt right until I felt something that really didn't feel right. Having frame of reference helps point out a direction. Even if it feels less secure.

At one point Tara held two jobs to make ends meet, and tried her best to reserve enough energy to continue painting. Pouring over her notebooks, I saw that she shared similar insecurities.

"Maybe I should get a real job"

Although I consider it less and less, I do consider it from time to time. But I've come to realize that the cost of taking your own path comes hand in hand with feeling insecure. You don't know what will happen. No one's gone your way. Even if they've come close, they haven't done it specifically your way.

An Italian beach: a page from Tara's travel notebook

I'm excited to see more of Tara's work as she illustrates for a variety of upcoming projects.

Find Tara's vibrant illustrations at taradeacon.com.


02 Jun '17  — Just a few things

Linen bib maxi dress by Innika Choo, a photo of a flower by Claire Dille Parkinson, and Mondo Mug by Rachel Saunders.

Am I too old for wishlists? Yes. But that doesn't stop me from making them.

Innika Choo is a designer I came across that makes the style of clothing I could wear all the time. Her entire collection of prairie inspired clothing includes peasant tops, dress, gowns, and little petticoat shorts. I could comfortably sleep in every item in addition to being proud to wear them in the day. Most notably, I want the faded yellow dress. It reminds me of the Virgin Suicides. Bright with an eerie mystique. All her pieces are made from cotton and linen. I can imagine throwing this dress into a backpack and traveling with it.

I thought these tops were for children but was happy to find that they're for grown women. Crochet Collar top and smock in Marigold.

Less travel friendly are ceramics but the Mondo mug by Rachel Saunders is interesting because it offers a whole new coffee/tea experience. I've never held a cup that has a sphere for a handle. I feel like I'm missing out having never drunk from a cup like this.

I've been admiring photos by Claire Dille Parkinson. Many of her photographs are taken in California, of nature and sun. I love how large the flower above looks. You can see individual hairs at the center.

Maybe it's not a wishlist, but more of a dream list.


01 Jun '17  — a tale of crime and redemption

I've been following a boutique in San Francisco. When it first started as a web shop, I included it in my shop directory.

Sometime last year, the shop grew and opened a physical space. I was browsing my feed when I saw that the boutique had caught a thief on surveillance.

It's interesting to watch a thief in action. But also, having followed the boutique for a while, it wasn't just any business. It was one that I came to root for.

I don't know anyone who regularly steals, but I've come across people years ago who did. Whenever they'd visit, their friends had to hide everything. I remember that they were treated equally, as if they just had a disability. It was up to everyone else to watch out.

The surveillance footage posted on facebook shows a girl shopping with two friends. They're giggling, having fun, seem like customers that regularly shop boutiques.

I'm always awkwardly shopping because I can never afford anything in boutiques. If I come close to the racks, I don't know what to do. I fear my gobly hands will ruin everything. The thief was well immersed in the racks, picking things up.

Nicely tanned with light brown hair, the young lady stuffs an entire shirt into her bag. Then she finds a purse and stuffs it into the same tote.

The footage was pretty clear, there was no way it could have been interpreted otherwise.

It was riveting. Perhaps that has something to do with me, living a sheltered life where no one I know would do such a thing.

Today, I followed the story in realtime. The thief returned everything along with cash and an apology note.

"I don't know what I was thinking except that I wasn't and the regret and shame are unbelievable..."

She didn't look ashamed on camera. I can never understand the apologies people make when they're clearly ashamed for getting caught.

The thief wanted to pay for the stain she made, included $60, along with the stained shirt and mentioned she hadn't worn it.

What's interesting are the items she stole.

The white t-shirt had the words 'Mademoiselle' in cursive. The little black bag, very 'mademoiselle' in style, was returned with the $175 price tag.

"As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naïve and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are, too." - The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky

Who doesn't want to be a sweet mademoiselle?


01 Jun '17  — crazy happenings

Time to take a break and process

In my dream, I found out I was going to Rome. But I wasn't at home, so I was suppose to go to the airport casually, as if hopping on a bus.

At one moment, I knew it was around the time I should be heading to the airport, but I couldn't figure out the exact time. No one had a watch and there was nothing around that indicated the time. Additionally, I couldn't find my husband.

I was uneasy. I had no reference of time but I had the idea that I was already late. I started to use precious minutes on finding the time and locating my husband.

I couldn't leave without my husband so why was I scrambling to find the time? I'm not my best in dreamland.

Moments went by before I finally figured out the time. I was late. It was 10 minutes before boarding.

'We have to get to the airport in 10 minutes!,' I thought. Now I knew the time, I focused on finding my husband. Which meant there was a chance we'd still catch the flight. In dream reality, there was a way to get to the airport in ten minutes. I wonder what it would have been if I'd just found my husband.

Ten minutes passed and I finally found my husband when it was far too late. He'd just gotten back from chilling with friends.

In my head, I said to myself, 'I can't believe he made me worry so much, I was frantically trying to find him. Shows how much he cares.'

That's what I thought in my head, but he seemed to have heard. 'It's over!'

What? My marriage was over? Just like that? I have to figure everything out for myself now?

Although it was sad, there was an ever so slight feeling of liberation.

The dream was exaggerated but it reflects exactly how I feel awake. My husband is going camping all weekend with his friends. We don't spend much time apart.

The experience of a bittersweet separation was triggered by an event, when my husband said 'It's over'. The dream is a reflecting of feelings I'm undergoing. I'm sad he'll be gone but...I'll have the apartment all to myself.

I don't remember dreams often, but I'm surprised how the feelings induced through events that happen within reflect feelings outside the dream.

I'm not into dream interpretation in the way it's traditionally done, with symbol interpretation, but I'm able to see what's at the forefront of my mind. What worries or excites me the most becomes clear when I listen to my dreams.


31 May '17  — Dr. Me: self diagnosing

Why do they have to look this nice?

Yesterday was the first day I didn't have a sugary snack in a long while. This afternoon I found myself cleaning the apartment. It was the only way I could take my mind off withdrawal symptoms (my head felt weird and I can't stop fidgeting).

On Saturday, I quit coffee. I slept for 12 hours the first night. After a few days, I started to feel alive, as if resurrected from being a zombie.

For many years, I thought coffee was bad. Not until this year did I have zero guilt in having a cup daily. Several research papers stated there was no evidence that coffee was bad, despite common perception. Coffee might as well be good.

During the first weeks of May, I felt uncomfortable. Even after getting a whole night's rest, I'd wake up physically tired. My stomach started to feel wretched.

What was going on?

There were other symptoms, like feeling extremely high after eating. I thought I had diabetes but people who are diabetic didn't experience the same symptoms.

The discomfort was so bad that I even tried exercise. Jogging felt great, but the discomfort remained.

I decided to facilitate my body in getting rest. It felt tired and omitting caffeine was a way I believed would help me sleep better.

I'm a fan of all coffee, high, low and even coffee from McCafe

Not only did it help me sleep better, but the symptoms disappeared. I didn't wake up feeling worn out. My stomach stopped feeling terrible in the morning. This is bad news because I love coffee.

I'm hoping the reason for my discomfort is the type of coffee. I started using Bonanza coffee at the end of April, right before my symptoms started. Maybe it might have something to do with the type of coffee I buy? Right now, I'm still recovering from feeling terrible, so I'd rather not try.

I would think it's possible to learn how my body works, but by the time I figure out how certain parts operate, it completely changes.


31 May '17  — worn and weathered

Mood of the day: A bathroom designed by Joseph Dirand, photo by Martin Morrell, Éditions MR letterhead, Art direction by Atelier Franck Durand, photo by Romain Laprade, stonewashed linen pjs by the Foxes Den, 'Fort Romeau' font by Michael Cina, and 'El Viejo', 1962/63 by Sheila Hicks.

Feeling worn out today, like these colors and textures. I was surprised how interested I am in light blue and orange today.

It all started when I was pouring over images of a 1920s Milanese apartment designed by Pietro Russo. Although I've obsessed over many different details in this apartment in the past, including the bas-relief staircase in a terracotta orange, I found the color scheme of pastel blue and orange striking. Similar to the combination in the stationary above, this color combination somehow stands out today.

The 'orange' I'm talking about is more like a warm and bright wood, but at a glance, it resembles orange on pastel blue as shown in the kitchen above. The bas relief stairs. Photos by Filippo Bamberghi via Casa Vogue.

What strikes me each day varies. I've examined the same photos before but I've never noticed the blue and orange. I feel there's a link between my aesthetic preferences and how I feel internally. Like palm reading, maybe there's a way to read a person by what they're attracted to.


30 May '17  — What really goes on in my head

sketch of the day

Right before leaving for lunch, I switched off the stove. I left the apartment and as I was locking the door, I started to worry. 'Is the stove off? Maybe I didn't really turn it off?'

My mom has this constant worry. She's even gone home midday in the middle of work thinking she left her stove on. Of the hundreds of times she thought she had left it on, it was never on.

I might have inherited this worry from her. It's strange not to trust yourself. Did I really turn off the stove? I remember I did. But there's something telling me I might have hallucinated turning the stove off. I went with what I clearly remembered, that I turned off the stove.

My husband and I went to a Ramen place. Halfway through my noodles, I started to worry. Did our apartment burn down? If the stove was on, it would have burnt through the food on the stove. There'd be nothing else to burn, except the apartment.

I started to eat faster thinking we might be able to save our apartment if I got back in time. Then I slowed down. I couldn't trust the fear. So instead, I thought, 'what am I afraid of?' I'm afraid of losing our home, affecting others negatively, and having to pay millions of dollars in damages. Ok, I'm going to pretend that all just happened.

There's nothing to do except to finish my ramen.

I was relieved to come back and find my stove just as I'd left it. Off.

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30 May '17  — How to tell if they're good or bad

Questions from the kitchen, a still from yesterday's cooking session

I somehow missed a whole pack of eggs in my kitchen. Were they still good? They were from a farm so they're better eggs than any in the city. It'd be terrible if I had to throw them away.

Maybe they're good hard boiled? High temperatures kill all bacteria, right? I dropped the eggs in water. They behaved strange. All of them stood up. Usually they lay flat. There were two that floated. Maybe i should find out...

'How to tell if eggs are bad'

It's the only time I learn something new, when there's something to look up on google.

I found a water test. By placing eggs in cold water you can tell how fresh they are. If the eggs sink and lays flat, it's fresh. If they are standing on one end, it's an older egg but still good for eating. If they float, no good.

I'm going to make egg salad for dinner.


29 May '17  — No one's more special

Looking beyond

I used to think spirituality teachers led spiritual lives. I thought they had things figured out. As I came out from under their spell (of multiple leaders), I started to question whether they had anything figured out. Now I know they aren't likely to know more than the average person.

There are similarities between leaders. They're generally charismatic and great story tellers, and poor at writing. Like anyone in the general population, some end up cheating on their spouses, and many worry about logistics of life, like organizing sold out retreats.

I finally see clearly. While under the influence, I knew there was something that I wasn't getting but I knew I had to wait before I could understand. Most leaders are obsessed with themselves and many outwardly state that they're not different than their audience. At the same time, they understand their influence and how they have no control over others' perception of them.

Leaders often emphasize an origin story. Usually, it a story about how they woke up one day and saw the world differently. It's a story that says: 'listen to me...I've been chosen.' I have enough experience to write on spirituality from an anthropological perspective.

Another group of people who deliver inspiration are musicians. Famous musicians promote peace, love and happiness and often, their lives are anything but.

Some who personally knew John Lennon revealed that "at the time of his shooting, he was worried about his career, unsure that his first album in five years would sell."

It's not that all musicians and spiritual leaders don't live what they preach, it's that they're just as likely to be clueless as the general population. They happen to be good at preaching and inspiring. It's a skill like being good at motorcycle maintenance.

A profession doesn't determine the character of a person. As simple as it is to say this, it hasn't been simple to believe.