Twenty-three

Here we are at another birthday…I turned 23 today! I don’t think I’m the only one who does this, but I tend to get ahead of myself when it gets closer to a new birthday and I’ve basically been considering myself a 23-year-old in my head for the past couple months. My friend and I were talking the other day about how people tend to say on their birthday that they’re looking forward to their 23rd year or whatever, when in actuality, turning 23 means you have just completed your 23rd year and you’re really beginning your 24th year. Haha, it’s just a technicality but it’s a bit of a pet peeve that I was happy someone else shared. And I guess it’s a way to illustrate my point that age is something that sort of changes every day, not all at once on one day a year. At least that’s how I like to think of it, that getting older isn’t this big surprise that pounces on you, but rather a gradual, constant process of letting go of one age and moving toward the next. But I do really like birthdays.

Last year for my birthday post on the blog, I did a little new years resolutions check-in, which works well for me since my birthday falls a third of the way into the year. Ok, whoa, saying that feels weird, how is 2019 already 1/3 through? I don’t think I ever actually realized my birthday is literally 1/3 of the way into the year until I typed that just now lol. Anyway, I also had another kind of silly realization a few days ago when thinking back on my 2019 resolutions and watching this video on youtube from Aileen of Lavendaire. Yearly goals are great, but I realized some goals make much more sense to break down into sections, or a month or 3 months at a time, like the “draw every day” one. I mean, I do draw a lot, and I intended my resolutions to have some flexibility, but literally drawing something every single day for 365 days is a huge goal that I didn’t actually think all the way through, haha. Duh. So needless to say, I haven’t quite kept to that one religiously! This blog is about my efforts in mindful and intentional living, but you can see how there are so many layers to mindfulness that it’s still super easy to mindlessly set an intention, like this one that was unrealistic for my current self.

So with these recent reflections I have also had some fresh ideas on how to reintegrate some of my goals in a more realistic and concrete way. To start with the drawing example, I was reminded on instagram recently about the #100daychallenge, which is where you draw/create something basically every day for 100 days following a theme of your choosing (or if you miss days here and there, you at least have a goal of making it to 100 eventually). So, because I am constantly gathering inspiration online and love saving photos and pinning things on pinterest as reference for future art/drawings, I decided to do #100daysofillustratedphotos! Probably over the summer months, I will try to choose 100 photos I’ve pinned or taken myself, and illustrate each one to practice drawing from reference and stylistically interpreting real things.

As for my other goals, I still have to work on the digital decluttering, I have so far just looked through a lot of old photos and condensed some folders recently so I have a better idea of what I have. That’s just something that takes time. Another one that hasn’t gone as planned is going back to pointe class. With West Side Story being pushed into the new year and taking a lot of classes this semester, not to mention leaving the country for a week in March, my ballet class attendance has been pretty disrupted, plus I still need to get refitted for pointe shoes and get a new pair as it has been almost 5 years. So I’m okay with not rushing this one, as I need to be able to commit to it fully when I do get back into it.

The last goal I want to refine a bit is the “one hour a day of no screen time/creativity without screens.” This isn’t as much of a goal as it is sort of habit-building, because like I said in the resolutions post, I’m obviously not using screens 24/7, and it’s hard to implement a solid hour of creativity at once depending on the day. I realized that I’ve been craving more outdoors time lately and that getting outside and being creative kind of go hand-in-hand for me. So I’m tentatively keeping the original goal and leaving it somewhat vague, but I’m going to add that I want to try to more consciously get outside and get some fresh air and quiet time a little bit every day or most days as part of it.

Lastly, the one goal I have actually already completed is to try rock climbing, and it went exactly as I’d hoped! I showed up to a beginner climbing class at my university at the end of January, had fun, made some new friends, and just tried out a new bouldering gym with them last week that recently opened up nearby. I really love climbing (more specifically I learned that I prefer bouldering, which is shorter heights without a harness) and I’m so happy I made this a goal because it pushed me to just do it and not put it off! I’m looking forward to going more often and getting better at it.

In the youtube video I mentioned/linked above, Aileen offers some helpful journaling prompts, beginning with reflecting by asking yourself, “what are the lessons I’ve learned in the past 3 months?” I really like this, because when I think back on the year as a whole, it’s kind of a blur, but I’ve done and learned so much just in the last few months. I wrote a post on what I learned from being in West Side Story, I wrote about traveling out of the country for the first time to visit Paris, and there are many other little things I haven’t even mentioned. Such as that for an assignment for my Interviewing class, I emailed one of my favorite current artists, Dinara Mirtalipova, who happens to live somewhat close to me, and asked if I could interview her, and she graciously agreed. (!!) Talking with her in a coffee shop for an hour, even though I felt like I was pretty awkward because my brain was in nervous autopilot, was such an awesome experience. Just to be able to ask her questions and gain a lot of helpful insight into the career I want to pursue, especially with her experiences being exactly the sort of things I’d love to do in my own career. It was one of those experiences where the idea popped into my head and I knew it wouldn’t hurt to ask, and it meant so much to me that she said yes (and I got an A on that assignment, haha).

I like to write these occasional reflection posts and talk candidly about my goals because it really helps me to see more clearly what I have accomplished, what I need to work on, and when I need to readjust my goals or methods. Plus, I hope that reading me ramble about this stuff is somewhat helpful, to see the imperfections in another person’s journey, but also to see that things are achievable if you just start trying, if you just plant the seed. My name means “green shoot” or “blooming” and I feel like I’m always just trying to sprout ideas and to grow and bloom in different ways and encourage others to do the same. I just love growth and flowers and new beginnings. I’m a lot more fearless than I ever used to be, and sometimes growing up feels more free than being a kid, because you finally learn enough to know you’ll never not have a lot to learn still. I liked being twenty-two, but I think I’m going to like being twenty-three even more.

The Rise and Fall of the Wolf Face Emoji

Or, the emoji formerly known (to me) as the ambiguously dog-like fox face.

Okay, listen up. Look at the date. It’s April Fool’s Day. Is this post a joke? That’s up to you to decide. Honestly, I’m just going to pretend that it is to soften the fact that I have real feelings about this issue. This is important journalism. This is justice…

Justice for the fox face emoji. No, not the current obvious orange fox face that we all have gotten to know in recent years. We’re talking about the OG emoji that was callously usurped by the profile of an unimaginative gray wolf in late 2016’s iOS 10.2 update. We’re talking about this guy:

That blank stare. That vague skeuomorphic shading, singular beady eye and puppet-like mouth. Those oversimplified features that left the true identity of this creature open to speculation, perhaps best summarized in this screenshot from a HuffPost article:

This was all I never knew I wanted in an emoji. What purpose did it serve? None that could be quantified, but that is ultimately what made it ideal. No context made sense of it, and so every context lent equally to its usage. It was the quintessential nonessential emoticon, and I reveled in its uselessness. That paradox was its draw, as poetic as they come.

Now, I cannot claim to have discovered its charms on my own merit. It was almost as though I needed to witness it fully misused in order to appreciate the art of its very existence, and I was awarded that privilege when my own father first began utilizing the emoji keyboard in text communications in 2013. Historical documentation notes the following:

So you see, while initially my unenlightened mind could not grasp the full weight of this discovery, my eyes were eventually opened, and henceforth my longstanding devotion to the fox face emoji was established.

edited in the correct version of the emoji to simulate the tweet as it was meant to be viewed

On the surface I took it for granted, trusting that this pixelated companion to my communications would always be available at the tap of a finger, hoping that it would achieve longevity through mass recognition of its iconic appearance. Alas, my subconscious mind seemed to come to an awareness of the fragility of the digital realm, alerting me to the inherent ephemerality of my beloved unit of expression with an ominous premonition a year and a half before its fated demise:

Somehow I understood that this emoji I had cherished would be destined to remain underappreciated. I do not remember the exact moment I fully realized it was gone, but I still feel the pain of absence from this senseless loss when reliving that prophetic tweet each year as it reappears through my Timehop summary, ironically punctuated with the updated emoji I had dreaded. In all technicality, our friend never really left, simply assuming the newly clarified identity of the true Wolf Face emoji. However, the crisp contours and stern gaze of this fresh design will never compare to the delicious ambiguity of its predecessor.

Fox face or wolf face, dog or puppet, etc., its legacy lies within that ambiguity. I would fight for its right to be reestablished, to own its indescribable identity, but it would be a lost cause. It was cursed from its inception to become an artifact of a generation, an image left behind in a graveyard of early smartphone interface design, overcome by ceaseless innovation. All I wish is to finally tell its story, to give voice to the voiceless, to let these long-buried feelings come to light. Let this stand as an epitaph written out of love and respect for an old friend.

Today, we remember. Justice for the OG wolf/fox face emoji, 2008-2016. RIP.