The Postcard Project

“Do you read a lot?” A then-new friend asked me a few months ago.

“No, not really,” I said, almost with guilt, because the question sparked a memory of an acquaintance who seems to finish a book a week, broadcasting her consumption via Instagram. In comparison, I am a practicing anorexic, selecting to sip and savor tropes at a deliberate pace. I read, re-read, and watch sentences slowly unfurl into rich, bittersweet storylines. By the time I lumber through the last page – and they have to be real, paper pages – I can’t think of peeling back the cover of a new book until everything inside has settled.

I didn’t used to be like this. Until a handful of years ago, I faithfully relied on my slim Kindle, a nearly ancient version featuring the miniature keyboard and absolutely no touch screen. You had to click through the pages, back and forth, via oblong buttons on the side of the device. “Flipping through” a book meant furiously clicking back a page at a time and hoping you’d land somewhere near that sentence you really liked but forgot to bookmark. And then repeating the process to get back to where you were. It made recalling passages nearly impossible. You simply couldn’t go back to something you didn’t have the foresight to highlight. On the other hand, it encouraged progression like any good electronic device; the meter at the bottom of the screen encouraged me to read faster, consume more, and hoard titles – instantly delivered via wi-fi! – in my slim, gray bank. I bought into it, becoming the ideal Amazon customer. I bought e-books because “they’re so much cheaper than the print versions,” and left them to hibernate. I became those people who buy books – print or electronic – as if purchasing literature would also include the instant download of the thought and intellect required to actually read and comprehend what was inside. Books, by virtue of their ability to be consumed in bulk, were the new intellectual status symbol.

Somehow, through this era of enarmorment with an “electronic reading device,” I was able to retain enough self-awareness to realize that I wouldn’t be able to read anything remotely thought-provoking in an electronic format. Those books remained out of reach, simply because recalling themes and paragraphs would either take several days to click back to, or the process would be so frustrating that I would invariably drive my head through a wall. This, coupled with the purchase of an iPhone that turned my life into a parody of human interaction, switching from screen to screen to screen to screen, finally broke me. I ricocheted back to real books, embracing the ability to literally thumb through creamy pages fat with words.

Recently, that focus on the real has leaked over to email, Facetime, Skype, texts. So much of our lives is filtered through a screen – both literally and figuratively – that communication, while instantaneous, becomes less meaningful. “It erodes,” Noam Chomsky once said in an interview, of the Internet, “normal human relations.”

Separated by most of my friends by an ocean and several time zones, it’s never clear whether anyone who is unfortunate enough to be closely associated with me truly understands my gratitude for their company. In a world saturated with emails and texts, lines declaring that partners in crime are missed, that five year old custom-made frames are still dearly loved, that I still think of that ride when, or how grateful I am that certain people stuck around until I clawed my way out of a vortex of depression, seem to risk getting lost in the deluge. And because I think the world of my friends, and because I am stubborn, I started to make postcards.

Measuring 10.5cm by 15cm, they’re small collages of memories patched together from piles of old magazines. They’re fun to make between food portraits, and layering paper on thicker stock gives them a nice, tangible weight. They’re real. Hand-made, hand-written, and hand-sent. Three have arrived at their destinations thus far (the wait is excruciating, compared with the click and send of email), with more (hopefully, lots more) on the way.

Fingers crossed they have their intended impact. And even if they don’t, each one is really the best 70yen I’ve spent. 

fabricated crises

1.57am. That's when I finished.
Not like that's unusually late these days. Between rides, blogs, and scheming, late nights are becoming part of the whole routine. A dizzying one that has me nearly falling asleep as I brush my teeth and having small fits of existential crises over gchat. All while some part of me lists all the things I have to do the next day, then tells me to stay up some more. I'm not that tired, am I?
Actually, I kind of am. But it's totally my fault.
I chose to hang out yesterday after my ride, instead of finishing off the latest batch of hats for Cambridge. So those got done after dinner, stretching into the next morning. There was good IMing company, but in the end it was me, a needle and thread, and a pair of scissors. Hand finishing each and every one.


But I like this batch, a lot. There are the classic black ones [Zach insisted on more black], then some lighter ones, more summery and a little more adventurous. I even mixed some gray ink for the brims, the white getting slightly redundant.
The sewing was getting redundant too, though. Barely able to see, mostly unable to think, and completely dead tired, I was rambling and ranting to a partner in crime.
"What am I doing? Why am I doing this? It's 2am," I said.
To which he advised:
"The best cure for a 2am existential crisis = sleep."


Yeah, maybe. I mean, I should do more of that. Soon. After I finish some more hats, cut some more fabric, take some more pictures, write some more posts. After that, and the errands, then the gearing up for work on Monday.
After that, maybe.

guilty panic

I'm currently on spring break...and there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done.
I have more than a few deadlines coming up, along with the list of things I should be doing [but am not], the things I have to do [which I'm scrambling to get done] and the things that I'm forcefully making time for [which I don't have to do per se but I need it to stay sane].
And I'm still feeling guilty. I woke up today with this to welcome me. More guilt. It's not finished yet [clearly].


Those four letters took a few good solid hours of straight work. I love the challenge, and anyone that can come up with an interesting, really complicated idea will always get my attention. The whole design for this hat - being made as a prize for the Freddy v. Jason alleycat sponsored by Cambridge Bikes next week - is going to be suh-weeeet.
I just need to get it done. Neurotic worry and guilt are fueling the too-late-night sessions that only end when I realize it's well past midnight and I need to be up and functioning in less than six hours. What can I say, I like to keep my promises. Or, more accurately, I abhor the idea of being considered flaky.
It's too early to worry about this already [hat work starts after dinner]. Still, I'm terrified that the rest of the hat's not going to work out, or I'm somehow going to fuck things up.
And then I sometimes worry [when I'm stressed, moody, and right now] that no one really gives a shit. Yup, that's right; all you're hearing from me today is "wah wah wah." Which means it's time I got off the Internet [at least for a little bit] and go on a bike ride.


Every Bostonian that reads this blog will probably understand the title reference. Or they should, if they consider themselves true Bostonians. Especially when it's coupled with this:


Yeah I know, I said I wouldn't make another one. But I owe Jeremy this kind of maddening, eye-straining, muffled-scream inducing embroidery work, mostly because my bike almost bit off his finger a few weeks ago.
Okay, so it didn't cut it off [it resulted in a puncture-wound-plus-laceration combo, according to Jeremy], but it still weighed on my conscience. I mean, he could have lost his finger over my bike. A bike that, despite how much I love it, really isn't worthy of fingers!


As I blinked and gaped in shock, Jeremy actually smiled and wished me a good afternoon if he didn't see me before I left as he stepped outside for a few minutes. Everyone else just went about their business. I felt like I was taking crazy pills...!
When he came back:
Chris: How deep did it go in?
Jeremy: Only a few millimeters.
Chris: That's what she said.
...Boys [especially in bike shops] will be boys.
Note: The Heartbreaker contest is still going on until the end of the week!

a method in this madness

My OCD's back.
Despite my crazy [see: Asian ethnicity, astrological sign, and gender], unorganized mess is currently taking over my life. And because of my crazy [see: Asian ethnicity, astrological sign, and gender], I'm convinced I'll always remember where things are and which hat I owe to whomever, even though history has consistently proven me wrong.
It doesn't help that you people have similar names or even the same first name! Yes, I am blaming you all for my disorganized mess of a desk and lack of any structured system to keep tabs on what I need to do for whom, because, hello, how can anything be my fault [see: my gender]?
Okay that was a total lie [see: my gender]. I finally did get some sort of system together last night. It's rudimentary but it works. As pretty as excel spreadsheets are, I need to be able to draw and write stuff out, and this way I can easily deprioritize people [just kidding!].

I also did some solid sweatshop labor last night and got some linings done. They even got labeled so I know I won't forget who they're for, and where they're going. I mean, I'm convinced that I won't forget even if I didn't label them, but you know, just in case [see: Asian propensity to be overly-prepared winning out over female convictions of always being right].

As a result, my OCD's feeling a little bit better. Although, let's be honest, my list of names on index cards is going to bother me until it's actually gone. Like it's already bothering me in that toe-curling-I-need-to-get-my-work-done-so-I-can-work-on-hats-so-I-can-clean-up-that-list-of-names kind of way.
Did I mention I have the crazy?

bosox fever

Good thing I'm not a Bosox fan.
I'm not sure I can take the intensity of it all; and despite the fact that I barely manage to get dressed every day (i.e., that I've completely let myself go), I can't/won't wear the Bosox hat and t-shirt combo. Particularly if the former is pink.
I know that sounds hypocritical, almost. Like I'll unashamedly get every pink component I can get my hands on for my bike but I refuse to wear that particular color. But the pink Bosox hat is peculiar - it's like dressing up a butchy lesbian to hide the obvious from the relatives: It doesn't make anything more "feminine" and it just smacks of [imposed] traditional gender norms/roles.
Besides, I'm not obsessed with the Sox enough to rock any Bosox attire. And a friend should be very glad I'm not.

Otherwise, I would be keeping this, instead of handing it over to one of my first bike friends. And while the hat gave me enough grief to qualify for "I would only do this for a friend I really really really value" type work (and it's definitely on the list of "things I don't think I really want to do, again"), I can rest assured that it's going to be loved (and worn). Enjoy the hat, E!