Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Beginning point / 起點


I am especially productive in summer. Every year around May, I start to sleep much less. Even when my body feels a certain amount of fatigue, I can still focus on painting. Sometimes my efficiency really shocks me. Since a few weeks ago, I have felt that gigantic mojo. My heart almost bursts with the desire to try many possibilities that occur to me along the way. To be honest, sometimes I think I am going to explode. My body can't take that ambition. I can't help but think that if I can take a break, it will be really nice.


I am pushed forward by passion, but it's like taking a roller coaster ride. I get excited easily, and I am easily frustrated as well. It takes me a while to be calm, yet sometimes a remark or an opportunity spoils that beautiful balance. Then I'll have to start all over again. My daily life is about retrieving the calm state. Stupid to say, these few days I have been kind of brought down by a lot my mom drew in a temple. It said that I should focus on my work because painting won't get me anywhere. I am not a superstitious person. However, I care too much about my art not to be influenced. I ask myself what I'd like to attain apart from self-satisfaction through creating. If I want nothing more than that, if I am so stable as I think, why do I feel low? Perhaps what I want is more than that. It takes guts to confront this realistic idea.

postcard by Milay

Fortunately, at the moment of self-analysis, I have a picture in mind. I am eager to put it down, and in doing that, I am relieved. Huei sent me a postcard when she went down to Tai-dong for promoting her documentary a few weeks ago. She left in the rain, took a night train down along the east coast. When she arrived at dawn, she was happy to find vast green paddy fields and soaring mountains in the mist on looking out of the window. When I read her words, an image formed by these details emerge. I can't help painting it since I believe so firmly that nature holds a miraculously healing power.


She wrote, there were only three viewers in the theater. It kind of reminded her of my exhibition which was not noticed by too many people last summer. We are so in love with art mainly for pleasing ourselves. We've come such a long way that it cannot be summarized by the fact that there were only three viewers or by a lot. Last year at this time, Huei and I made her first documentary and played along. A year later, she is about to go to the UK for advanced film studies. Any progress on my side? Well, I was a total beginner of acrylic painting then. I wouldn't say that I am good now, but at least I am more familiar with the medium. There is also some progress which cannot be put down in words. We are so far from the beginning point then. I know it all, but sometimes I can't convince myself when I am not that upbeat.


So, every moment in life looks like the end, but it is actually a beginning point. After the failure, we start anew. After the success, we are faced with a new challenge. I need to review the marmot spirits of my teens. I have to burrow hard without looking up to check my progress so often. God gives me the above-mentioned message just to test me, I think.


When I look back from the beginning point a year from now on, what will I see? I don't know. If you want to find out the answer, you'll have to keep coming back.


PS: I am tied down with some projects for the time being, so I'll take a pause from the Italy project for the time being. Just want to let you know that I have not forgotten it.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

the reason for no tears / 不哭的原因


More than a month ago, in the bonfire party on our graduation trip, girls formed a circle on the beach with me in the middle. The stars in the sky shone like crazy. Instead of gazing at them, they looked at me with so much innocence and expectation in their eyes. They'd like me to make some remarks full of feeling. I just smiled, but some girls began to shed tears. Compared with them, I gave the impression of being cold-blooded. Afterwards, girls said to me, "You are so cold..." I replied that all my love is invested in the small details in daily life, visible and invisible.


It would be too exaggerated to say that I think of you every moment. But the thought of you does take me by surprise when I am dozing on the subway, painting in my little room, jogging in the park, or even going about the daily routine in the bathroom. Then I start to rack my brain, wondering how I can give you a hand, lift you up or just make you smile. I hated myself obsessing about you even after work. Now I have the idea that I can't help it. Maybe because of something I say, it will always give you strength when you are down in the future to come. You'll thus be able to stand up again. Alright, perhaps this is just my presumptuous idea. Yet I can't leave you alone.


So when you are low, I feel your frustration. But I won't indulge myself in that self-pity. I'll detach myself from the subjective emotion, infect you with my optimism, and give you a brand-new viewpoint to look at life. You probably think you are the only beneficiary. Then you are wrong because I am so enveloped in your youth and energy. If I were doing a totally different job today, other people wouldn't always believe that I am only 18 years old. With that reason alone, I tell myself that I have no choice but to stay in this profession. You also give me new outlooks on life. Sometimes I burst into laughter like a madwoman on the street on thinking of a certain stupid English sentence you made in class.


Because I like you, I expect much of you. You don't have to become the greatest person in the world, but you have to believe that you can make something of yourself. You need to be responsible for yourself. You have to look for ways to lead a better life. If you tell me that you've finally found what you want, I'll feel so happy for you. That means, I won't have to worry about you, I will have complete trust in you, and I will be so proud of you.


Because of our encounter, I start to believe that I can give some more and I want to give some more. I consider myself one of the luckiest people. However, for you who have left, who I once met, who are still in my life, I cherish you all the same. Everyone in my life makes me what I am today. Even though there were conflicts or unpleasantness, they all helped me to become a tender and magnanimous being.


I didn't cry because the feeling was too deep-running. Tears couldn't contain all that…

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fantasy of the Little Room / 11號狂想曲


A while ago I was obsessed with the beautiful East Taiwan. I couldn't help thinking back on my past trips. On seeing the poster of Bike Etude, I was tempted to go back to the theater which I hadn't visited for months. I didn't expect anything other than the lovely scenery of the island, but I came out totally carried away by the touching and profound stories narrated in down-to-earth ways. Even though two weeks have passed by, the film still arouses ripples in my heart when I speak of it.


I love to travel, but I don't have the determination of the protagonist, a young boy with hearing disability. He traveled around the island within 7 days by bicycle and encountered many people, even becoming part of their stories.

While I was jogging one evening, it occurred to me that with my daily 3.6 kilometers every day, I will accumulate a mileage of 1,500 kilometers per year, if I am not lazy. With that distance, I can jog around Taiwan twice. On my journey, I will run into people from all walks of life and end up with tons of stories.


I am not sure if I will make it. Yet it doesn't hurt for me to put down the image in my head. I jog around the island carefreely. Along the coast is the dazzling sea on which the sunlight dances. The air smells of sea salt and asphalt of the roads. When I reach the west coast, the soaring and lush mountains will be there to welcome me. Ah, beautiful Taiwan!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mother and daughter, traveling together 4 / 媽媽和我的旅行 4

第三章─媽媽總是對的 嗎?

Chapter 3—Mom is always right...?

last photo taken in Venice

As far as I can remember, my childhood was all about moving from one place to another. This trip feels like the review lesson.

It is mentally and physically exhausting to be constantly on the move. We have pleasant moments of heart-to-heart talks, but most of the time, we breathe, meditate, rest, communicate and even complain in the silence secretly accepted by both of us. I was not aware of such ease in my mom's presence when I was a child.

photos taken in Venice

Yet, the beautiful yet precarious balance between my mom and me does not last long. Soon, the lovely joy of discovering a new city is replaced by the panic of getting lost. I, the leader, am challenged by the heavy luggage and the burning sunshine. I have a feeling that my anger is about to break free the lid of rationality. As for Mom, her impatience brews silently.

"It's just impossible for me to get lost!"

photos taken in front of Alloggi Henry, Venice

All the negative feeling waits for a perfect moment to explode...

"Right here!"

"O sole mio!"

"Don't you ever touch my daughter!"

"Come with me!"

first photo taken at Alloggi Henry, Venice
second photo taken at Ms. You's apartment
last photo taken in Venice

I can't help flying into a rage. Besides the disrespect I feel in being treated as a child, I am even deprived of the little, trivial pleasure of arousing men's curiosity. My stupid vanity is examined with Mom's harsh sense of morality. I really regret traveling with her.

"Why do you always treat me like an ignorant kid!"
"I wanted to protect you for goodness' sake!"

If I didn't come, I would have a cool time with my honey at home...

If I were alone, I would encounter dozens and dozens of guys...

photos taken at Alloggi Henry, Venice

"Rise and shine!"

"O sole mio!"
"Here he comes again! To another woman!"

"I have told you that he is not worthy of trust..."

So my first lame romantic encounter in Italy ends in a lame way.

Again I have learned that there is some truth in the saying "Mom is always right." Though reluctantly I have to admit that my mom is more experienced, I still believe that she can't always be right!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mother and daughter, traveling together 3 / 媽媽和我的旅行 3

第二章 (下)─旅行公約

Chapter 2 (part II)—Traveling Pacts

photos taken at Caserta

4. Walk, walk, and walk more:

One of the major reasons why I love traveling is that I can walk to my heart's content. Many of my traveling companions are aware of my self-abusive love for walking.

But it's different to travel with my mom. I have to take her physical condition into account. Thus, my insistence and willfulness face the greatest challenge I've ever encountered.

"Let's try to walk from here to there, the end."

"I hardly have a chance to walk so much!"

"I ache all over. I can't go on anymore…"

"Where is Mom?"

photos taken at Colosseum, Rome

5. Can't I be alone?

I am used to traveling alone, so I suggest to Mom that we should go each one's way from time to time. My mom is afraid of nothing except being left alone in a foreign place. Well, it seems that God has given me a very difficult task...

"Mom, let's be apart for a while. I'll see you later, bye!"
"She knows well that I am scared!"

"Where the hell am I?"

"I am the queen of the world!"

"From now on, we have to stick together forever!"
"Just like when I was little...Sigh..."

6. Being sentimental is FORBIDDEN!

Because of my age and single status, Mom is quite likely to become sentimental, especially on seeing lovely couples. On our trip, it is forbidden to feel so. I consider myself super lucky to live such a wonderful life, to be able to travel around the world, and to share with my mom a trip full of ups and downs.

There is more than one definition for a happy life.

"Why is my daughter single?"
"It's not fair!"
"I don't want it for my daughter!"

"Mom, life is not always about 'two' people."

"Besides, for others, we are 'a couple' too!"

photo 1 taken at Hotel Ascot, Rome
photo 2 (the upper pictures) taken in Rome / (the lower pictures) taken in Venice
photo 3 taken at Pensione Andreina, Rome

7. No traveling without writing:

Our trip lasts three whole weeks. We see tons of new things every day. I told mom if she does not make any note, then I won't take her out anymore. It feels good to say this to her because I, as a daughter, can repeat what Mom used to say to her!

"You have to write down our stories, or you can't come with me next time!"
"Gee, she is so demanding!"

"Good girl!"

"I used to be punished by mom for not writing homework. Now I can take turns to be the teacher. Isn't that fabulous?"



Question of the Day:

From now on, you'll see me or my mom in the photos. Where is miragee today?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Encounters in the Little Room / 小房間裡的相遇


Every year at this time, I miss the ocean terribly. With the seasonal transition from spring to summer, the temperature of my heart rises abruptly, churning wildly in response to the change of nature. My feelings dance, unwilling to stop. I feel nostalgic about people I met and stories that happened in the past. The emotion is so overwhelming that even my reserved and calm nature can barely tame it. Luckily, I can still sit down and paint quietly, with a little bit of self-hypnosis. I thus turn the images in my dream into postcards.


Though I just took a trip to the hot Kenting in South Taiwan, I couldn't cease missing the azure sea. Somehow I had the feeling that it reflected my lack of expectation toward the boring daily life. I seemed to be the only person with such a strong longing. Well, I'd always known that I was kind of different from others. A few days ago, right when I was about to wither, two young men from an English magazine we subscribed to came into the office. I'll call them "Sketch II Men" here. Because of my exhibition at school, we had discovered our shared interest in painting. Since then, we have had tons of subjects to chat about. We even made a promise to supervise and examine each other's artworks next time we met.


"How I'd love to go to the sea!" Whitey of Sketch II Men exclaimed. I stared at him in astonishment, and replied "me too" with so much understanding. Sketch II Men often went out for sketches in summer. Despite the sweltering sun, despite the crazy sweats, despite the gossipy passers-by, they still had a superb time painting outdoors. Compared with them, I paint like a princess, sitting indoors with the electric fans surrounding me. I must have missed many wonderful and beautiful miracles of nature…

With time passing, we got more and more excited in our talk about art, traveling, and life. The office was filled with our noisy voices. Before long the bell rang. Before long the noon break was over. After they left, I couldn't remember anymore why I was so fatigued.

I've been reading introduction on many excellent illustrators lately. Almost everyone considers this profession to be a long lonely journey. Most of the time, the creators have to be with themselves. I often spend time with myself and that derives largely from my personalities. Yet even when I sit in my little room, still, many angels fly by the windows and come knock at the door, saying hello to me in all sorts of ways. My good luck is really beyond words...


Sincere thanks to Beiling, Sketch II Men, Jason, who is about to be the third member of Sketch II Men, and those who never stop loving me...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mother and daughter, traveling together 2 / 媽媽和我的旅行 2


Chapter 2 (part I): Traveling Pacts

photo taken at Hotel Andreina, Rome

Mom and I haven't traveled together for ages. I am not so familiar with her quirks when it comes to traveling and vice versa. According to my experiences, it's wiser to say out loud our do's and dont's in the open. In this way, we'll have a better mutual understanding and more fun along the way.

Traveling is all about accepting people the way they are...

"Mom, the following are our traveling pacts."
"What? Pacts for traveling???"

photo 1 taken at Venice
photo 2 taken at Pisa


I can go to extremes in many aspects, and eating happens to be one of them. To be honest, I am not a vegetarian, but I tend to be paranoid about my health on trips. Well, especially the annoying constipation. On the contrary, Mom can't survive without meat. We end up struggling between meat and veggies every day.

"Let's eat nothing but veggies and fruits on this trip!"
"Go veggie?"

"I am still hungry..."

photo 1 taken at Florence
photo 2 taken at Naples

photo 3 taken at Hotel Bologna, Florence

"Eat the meat with some salads!"

"I am so FULL!"
"I have it up to my throat!"

photos taken at Fiumicino Train Station, Rome

2. Must-know for the stray lambs:

There is no know-it-all tour guide on our self-service trip, but we don't need to worry at all. Mom has me, and I have maps and my mouth. Sometimes every little detail points to THE DIRECTION. It's purely fear that blindfolds us. Besides, getting lost isn't really that scary. As a matter of fact, it can lead to new, unexpected adventures!

"Gee, self-help trips mean 'getting lost!'"
"Don't panic! Sometimes the direction we are looking for is RIGHT THERE!"

photos taken at Venice

3. Take our time:

Our daily life is packed with too many insignificant routines. We rush from one task to another, almost nonstop. When traveling, we should avoid the same thing. Instead, we should take our time to observe how other people lead their lives. To me, traveling is not about visiting as many tourist traps as possible, but about learning from what we haven't seen and experienced before.

"What is all this fuss about?"
"Let's just hurry up!"

"We are TRAVELING! We should slow down and enjoy every moment to the full!"

to be continued...