the creative

My advertising class starts up again this Thursday, which is frightening for two reasons:

a. The class will be held at Dailey, meaning I’ll have to haul ass from Aliso Viejo to West Hollywood during prime Southern California traffic hours (ugh.) once every week. But more importantly…

b. That I’ve somehow already completed the Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced I classes in the series, and I still sometimes feel like I have no idea what I’m doing (unless, of course, you’re a creative director reading this, in which case yes, I’m a perfectly competent copywriter, sir/ma’am)

How do you achieve creative enlightenment? I’ve watched, awe-struck, professionals in the industry who work through the creative process without even so much as a blink of an eye. One of my past teachers would stare at our work, and then, carefully, rip us a new one while he externally processed his thoughts on what could be improved (read: everything). They make it look so easy, and it worries me that at this point in my own process, I’m still doing marker comps on kiddy sketchpads and wondering if my strategies even make any sense.

I must say though, I look back on my first comps and it’s encouraging to see that I’ve developed just enough acumen now to discern “suck” from “kinna suck.” Still, I’m impatient by nature, and I just want to kick serious advertising ass, ASAP.

Cheers to learning and growing! May the process continue, and flourish.



the seconds leading up to the moment right before i press the shutter button, overwhelmed by the desire, the hope, the excitement that i’ll catch this moment as perfectly on film as i remember it in the present: a morning of rewarding volunteer work, followed by lunch on a quintessential southern california’s winter afternoon in pasadena with a good friend, accompanied by this little fellow. (shot w/ canon ae-1, 50mm 1.8, kodak 400 tmax)

The New Year

On the last day of the year, I woke up at an unreasonable hour.  I toasted a loaf of French bread and indulged myself with a wedge of Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese (although, indulge might be the wrong word, as each wedge constitutes only 35 calories– I don’t know whether I should be worried, or impressed?). I prepared a pot of chicken congee for my food-poisoned boyfriend, and I loitered around in my parents’ kitchen drinking Chinese green tea for a solid couple of hours. I assembled a modest New Year’s-stay-in pack, in case Dan miraculously got better and could somehow stomach some Martinelli’s later, and then made my way to his house, only to find that his condition had worsened. We spent the next several hours resigned to his bed, him drifting in and out of sleep and of the bathroom, and me, snuggled up next to him and switching between reading Let the Great World Spin and thinking about the upcoming year.

Invariably at this time of year, I begin to feel anxious at the thought of not having lived up to the past 365 days of my life.  Another year, another list of things I did not complete, my shortcomings, my failures– and all seemingly contributing to why I’m not where I “should be”. It is brutal, but you know what they say– you are your own worst critic.

This year, I’ve finally let go of that disparaging mentality. As I lay in bed, counting down the hours until the new year, I found myself reflecting on this past year happily, fulfilled.  I can say, with full-fledged conviction, that I don’t regret a single thing from 2011. Everything done had a reason, and everything that needed to happen, did.  I’m thankful for the relatively big milestones, the failures and disappointments, the little things accomplished, the bad habits I’d abandoned, the places I’d visited, and especially all of the people who were there by, for and with me through it all (much emphasis on that last clause).

If 2012 is even half of what 2011 was, I’d be happy.

Happy New Year’s everybody. To all of my friends: I love you.

And finally, a quote from one of my favorite authors:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” – Neil Gaiman

//edit: this was my 50th post! yay for the longevity —although not necessarily consistency— of this blog!

the past

The other night I dusted off the old G1. I had one single intention of resetting the phone back to factory conditions so that I could relay it to a friend in need, but what was supposed to have been a quick click of a “clear all” button turned into an hour of me rummaging through old data, text messages and pictures.

I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but as soon as I started to meander through the remnants of last year, the momentum had picked up, and I could only grit my teeth as I masochistically dragged myself through a whirlwind of my past.

At some points during those four years, I remember feeling as if I would never figure it out, that my heart was forever consigned to something, someone, that I knew was not right. It was love, and yet it wasn’t. And even the text messages from my old phone conveyed as much, that I had feigned happiness and contentment for so long.

I don’t know why it took me as long as it did. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t love him, because really, that was what hindered the ultimate cessation in the first place. Perhaps it was because it was immature kind of love, a naive belief that all that time and effort would have at least amounted to something, that I had not wasted part of my prime youth on something that was imminently doomed.

The past is exactly what it is–the past– and is meant to stay there. I give other people the benefit of the doubt and try my best not to judge them for their past; I know that I was not the girl I once used to be, and neither are anyone else forever bound to his or her history. I hope in the future, I will be able to recognize if things go awry (I sure hope they don’t, though!), and that I’ll have the maturity and strength to recognize it and walk away.


+ happy but it’s a characteristic defense mechanism of mine to downplay it. just let it be, let it be…

+ what the? i thought all’s fair in love and war. can’t we all be adults here?

+ trust derives from honesty [wise words from the dalai lama himself!]

+ wanderlusting and restless (nothing new?)

+ in a very good place. so good that i don’t want to leave. but unfortunately orange county can’t hold me here forever

+ my complete lack of regard of skin cancer, because i love so much the way the southern california sun beats down on me

A certain someone has hijacked what has always been my dream and, as juvenile as this is, I am severely jealous. In other (better) news, it was my first day on the new grind today and I feel a great sense of relief and excitement for what is to come. Reuniting with some lovely ladies for some after-hours dining was an added bonus to the day. I feel good.

very good things:
-new job!
-good company & food<3
-finally placed an order for a new ipod to replace my [prematurely] fried one. yess music, reunite with my soul
-rejuvenated from the 1+ week vacation in the bay
-fackin cashews + cranberries!
-putting the new swim cap to use! should've heeded my mom and sister's advice and gotten one of these wayyy earlier!

in tune

Little Ben fiddled with the music box, winding it up again. The tinkering melody of Cat’s Memory drifted through the air, ushering out the silence that had begun to slip into the space between the two computer screens. Conversation had been exhausted and it was hours past Ben’s usual bedtime, but neither party had the heart to excuse themselves away from each others’ webcams.

“Who gave that to you, Ben?” Nhu asked in a sing-song voice, though knowing full-well the answer.

Ben bit the corner of his lip, looking downwards away from the screen and at the diminutive music player in his hands. After a few moments of rather precocious deliberation, he answered.

Ba Ngoai did.”

A wave of moroseness immediately flooded the room. I felt it, and I knew that my cousins on the other side of the computer monitor and my sister and my mom next to me felt it, too.

“Do you miss her, Ben?” The nostalgia and grief had seeped into my sister’s voice, breaking her forced chipper tone.


Me Huyen, my aunt, had passed away more than a year ago, but her presence still lingered on ever so delicately in our lives. I wondered what they were all thinking at that moment. My mom, clearly conflicted about her sister-in-law who had betrayed her, leaving their once-cherished relationship estranged and permanently wounded; My sister, whom as an infant Me Huyen had raised and adored like her own kin; My cousin Chi Phuong, her own daughter, caught in between both sides of family conflict; and my little nephew Ben, her first and favorite grandson, blissfully unaware of the complicated webs his grandmother had woven and torn apart during her life.

The heartrending tune continued to trickle through the air, though losing momentum now as the gears of the music box slowed.