i live in chinatown. and it is the year of the dragon.

back in the middle of february, i had the opportunity to take pictures of the chinese new year’s parade in chinatown. since i live all of two blocks away from the epicenter of the parade’s festivities, i would have felt foolish not to run down there with my camera. i was out of town last year when this happened, so i am thrilled i was around to document it, on film, this year. it’s the largest chinese new year’s parade in the nation (sorry, new york) and one of the only parades in the nation that still takes place at night. after eight rolls of film, these are my favorite pictures (all shot on film using ‘Eloise,’ my nikon 50mm, my beloved manual camera from the 70’s)(in no particular order) ::

the crowd’s feet

red’s place

the dragon parade

police line do not cross, in the middle of grant avenue

a composition with two sheets of paper and some paint on the road

sparklers for the year of the dragon

sparklers sparkling for the year of the dragon

saw, + an abandoned cigarette bum on jack kerouac alley

the books.

an installation of weatherproof books suspended over the sidewalk on the corner of broadway and columbus

dismantled and flattened chairs. the aftermath of the parade

socks by the millions in chinatown

peking duck. chinatown’s idea of a “window display”

city lights by night during the raging parade

city lights + cop car by night during the raging parade

my sweater, pants, and shoes. taken inside a tiny vietnamese joint (best food ever) whilst testing the light meter on my camera

my shoes. taking a break whilst ducking and diving through and under the parade shenanigans

the day after the parade. lots of people. even a blue dog, Chase Bank’s mascot. it was only *slightly* crowded

the stools you sit in to race things and win over-sized stuffed animals. + a girl eager for the bouncy castle (can you blame her?)

this man. well, i think he’s my hero. he was so happy to stop for photographs. a beautiful soul, just outside Buddha Bar on Grant Avenue

i’m sorry. i don’t think you could pay me enough money to wear an animal suit under these conditions

a man who holds a giant load of helium balloons has my vote

chinatown parade cables

chinese card game, closely followed by a round (or six) of chinese checkers. in a park off kearny

singing his heart out

little old lady, just another bench ornament amidst the chinese new year chaos

walker

kearny street diaries

pigeons doing what pigeons do best

chinatown parade aftermath explosion. i think it was ranch.

now for the following three self portraits ::

mysterious purple indicates the end of a roll of a film

off kearny

the ultimate chinatown self portrait :: surrounded by stuffed goods and bright signage whilst standing on grant avenue

welcome to chinatown, folks.

and by the way, Happy Easter!

[nikon 50mm]

jessi

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ode to Mr. Bigs, the long version.

[the day he arrived, ten years ago]

i may have felt it coming. or maybe not. there was no calm before it, the storm that is, that hit my life last saturday night while i was riding the train to the airport. in fact, i’d been in an uncomfortably anxious state since the tuesday just three days prior. an inexplicable state of anxiety had enveloped me for reasons i could (and still cannot) hardly begin to decipher. maybe it was my instincts brewing, as if i knew something horrible was on my horizon. impending doom, if you will.

it was one week ago yesterday that my core, that intangible space that resides within us all, gave in, or out, however you prefer to look at it.

i had, just days prior, booked a trip to southern california. palm springs, to be exact. there’s only one reason (that i can think of) that a girl like myself would ever fly to palm springs for a “sunday visit.” that reason would be to spend a day at a horse show hanging out with a very special horse named Corvester and with a group of very special people who ride at a barn called Legacy. i first began riding at Legacy at age ten and to say that horses have been an enormous part of my life ever since (eighteen long years) is a major understatement. anyone who knows me knows my love of horses and riding is extreme. if you’re a horse lover yourself, you’ll be familiar with the concept of having caught “the bug” when you started riding horses. it’s like a disorder, a bad habit, and an addiction all rolled into one :: and it’s the best disorder, bad habit, and addiction i’ve ever had. in so many ways, i truly believe that horses have saved my life (regardless of the fact they’ve been “responsible” for breaking at least six of my bones). 

let me tell you a little something about this very special horse named Corvester. he is tall (17.2 hands in horse terms), he is dark brown (dark bay in horse terms), has a tiny white star on his big beautiful face, and loves to eat bananas (peel and all). he is extremely charismatic. he is affectionate. he is smart (smarter than a lot of people i’ve met, actually). he is strong, tough, wise, and silly. he will stand there waiting for you to saddle him up and wiggle his nose enthusiastically left, right, up, and down. the first time people witness this nose wiggle they usually wonder if something is “wrong” with him. no, there is nothing wrong here, trust me (there’d be something wrong if he weren’t doing his nose wiggle). he’s been doing this since my family purchased him ten years ago and he first walked into my life as a spry, wild eyed, and at times devilish ten year old. there was a time (about the first five years we owned him) that he was affectionately nicknamed “killer.” he has thrown many well known, well established, and extremely talented professionals on the ground just because he can and he probably just “felt like it.” he has a wild side to him that cannot be easily predicted, denied, or avoided. he will be turning twenty years old on May 18th and i am proud to say that in the last two weeks he has successfully thrown two different people on the ground at the horse show (one of whom he tossed off twice in the same day – sorry, Diane!). 

it’s not that he’s a bad horse with a bad heart, quite the opposite. he’s the f*cking best horse with the biggest heart i’ve ever known. it’s just that, sometimes, i think he feels it necessary to remind everyone around him who’s really in charge. it’s easy to take Corvester for granted because he’s such a good boy. beginners and professionals alike can ride him around without trouble. he’s ready, willing, and able. he’s the perfect teacher to any beginner (because he’s both calm and patient) and the perfect challenge to any professional (because he’s so well schooled). but, but, he’s got this tremendous fire in him that still, ten years later, has yet to fade. and i love him more for that and expected nothing less from him.

we imported Corvester from Portugal in April of 2002. i had spent two short days in the south of Spain “trying” horses, in an attempt to find a horse suitable for me to buy. after sitting on fifteen (if not more) some odd horses in two days, Corvester was the last horse i sat on. i had tried many great horses, many of which i thought would be suitable for me. but, none of them felt quite right. none of them were “the one.” trying horses is like dating men, forever in search of the perfect match. you may kiss and date many that are wonderful, but until you feel you’ve found “the one,” your instincts will tell you to keep looking.

[the nose wiggle + banana]

i’ll never forget that day, in the south of Spain, ten years ago, when i first rode Corvester, who is now known around the barn as Mr. Bigs, due to his stature and personality. the man we purchased him from was a 6’6″ portugese man. that is a very tall man, very tall indeed, and he fit Bigs perfectly. at 5’8″, i am not considered to be a short female, but i felt very much like a fly on Corvester’s back when i first sat on him. my first impression of Bigs? this has got to be the most uncomfortable horse i’ve ever ridden. it’s true, it’s a fact. he’s a bumpy guy. when i rode him around that large grass field of a warm up ring under a beautiful spanish sun, i was impressed by his energy, build, and power, but for the love of god – he was so f*cking uncomfortable i was damn near ready to cry and throw in the towel. my back, legs, neck, everything were hurting so badly. his trot was absurdly bouncy and his canter was downright painful. it took all of my muscle mass to sit on his back quietly, so much so that i spent the majority of this first ride standing in my stirrups to avoid, as best i could, his poor suspension. it felt as if i were riding an unstable locomotive that had just been derailed. and he was wild as all h*ll. his ears were perked up and he was chomping on the bit, eager to gallop and run a muck. of all of the horses i’d sat on, knowing he was the last one i had the time left to try, i was sure he was not going to be “the one.”

and then, and then, we started jumping. we began jumping low (around 3′) and in less than five minutes, i was sailing over 4’6″ oxers with Corvester below me. over the fences, he was more than just comfortable, he was like butter. the higher the fences, the smoother he felt. the ride between those fences were of absolutely no concern to me. that intense discomfort that i’d previously felt (and the oh my god this horse’s stride is literally going to snap my spine) completely dissolved. i had the opportunity to take him around a course of 12 or so 4’6″-5′ fences in a large grass field and all i can really remember is emerging from that grass ring beaming. the smile on my face could not be erased. and then i knew it, i just did. he was “the one.” the trainer who was with me sensed my euphoric state and said, “ok. that’s it. pack it, ship it, and deliver it.”

however, when “trying” horses, it’s not that easy. a horse must be put through “the vet” test. x-rays, blood work, flexion tests, and the like need to take place so that the buyer can feel rest assured that this horse is sound and in good health. i stood there while the vet performed his various tests. they were all speaking Spanish and Portugese, i had no idea what was going on. i was terrified that he wouldn’t pass the vet inspection, that some ailment would crop up (as it does in many cases during a vet test), and we’d be told he was no good, not worth buying.

what happened next i will never forget for the rest of my life. i was standing there, with my trainer, the vet, Corvester’s then owner, and Corvester’s personal handler. his personal handler was an old (well over sixty), wrinkled, and weathered man who was no taller than my shoulders. he had been Corvester’s handler since Corvester was around two years old. this old man loved this horse. i could see in his eyes this deep deep sadness at the prospect of Corvester no longer being in his care. while the vet ran his tests and did his thing, this man stood there solemnly holding Corvester’s lead rope. his eyes were filled was tears, though i never saw a single one roll down his cheek. i felt this horrible sense of guilt, like there was no way i could take this horse away from this man. but at the same time, i felt that i was there to receive Corvester. that it was my time to put him into my care and that i would be the next chapter in Corvester’s life. i wanted this man to know that if Corvester passed the vet check, he would be in the very best hands. this man did not speak a lick of english, nor i portugese, but i shook his hand. i embraced him tightly, and i cried. he put his hand on my arm as if to thank me and i do believe, at this point, he understood that if Corvester was going to go home with me, he would be well taken care of for the rest of his life. actions speak louder than words, do they ever.

so, now that you’ve “met” Corvester, i will tell you the tale from last saturday night. i was riding the subway (the BART) headed towards SFO to catch my plane south. during this train ride, i received a call from Shelly. Shelly is the gal who i have been riding with for eighteen years. she and i keep in fairly good contact, but we have not regularly called each other since i moved to san francisco. i knew that she knew that i was headed south, so i figured she was calling me about staying at her rented house or what have you. i was completely unprepared for what fell from her lips.

“Corvester is very very sick. he has a really bad case of colic. the vet will wait until the morning to see how he is, but the vet’s given him a 15% chance of survival at this time.” rational jessi kicked in immediately and merely replied, “oh my god. i’ll take a taxi directly to the show grounds – see you in a few hours.” Shelly was going to be spending the night there and i was going to join her, no question about it. the ride on the BART to SFO is about 45 minutes. those were possibly the worst 45 minutes of my life. i broke down in tears. i clutched my duffel bag. i rocked back and forth in the train seats, plenty of people staring at me. i willed the train to move faster so i could get to the airport faster so i could get to the plane faster so i could get to Corvester faster. my whole world blew up in my face. i couldn’t call anyone, i didn’t want to plant such a seed with anyone. i didn’t want anyone to know what was happening. that Corvester was likely going to be put down come morning, according to the vet. i wanted this to all pass like a bad bad dream.

i forced myself to call my mother from the airport. i needed to cry to someone. i sat there, at my gate, clutching my carry on bag, rocking back and forth, tears streaming down my face. i was in shock, panic, disbelief. losing Bigs would be like losing my own child. losing Bigs isn’t as option. it can’t happen. not like this. and then it all sort of hit me in a strange way. why had i so suddenly booked my tickets south? why had i just a week prior started painting his portrait on a huge 5’x5′ canvas? on any other saturday night i would have very likely been sitting in my apartment and hearing this terrible news with no way to get to palm springs quickly. this sequence of events was all so visceral. it is at a time like this that i thought and said to myself, “i was supposed to book those tickets. i am supposed to be with him. this is not a coincidence, this is something larger.” along side that train of thought, i kept repeating to myself, “please wait for me, Bigs. please, please wait for me. please, don’t go anywhere without me. i’m coming, i’m coming, just as fast as i can. please hold on until i get there.

[my tack trunk “bed”]

i finally arrived at the show grounds around 11:30pm. Shelly greeted me with an intense hug and i visited Bigs. there was an IV in his stall for him, but his state had improved a considerable amount from the time that Shelly first called me three hours prior. she was in a state of disbelief over how much better he suddenly seemed to be feeling. i just kept thinking, “we’re not out of the woods yet.” colic in horses is vicious, it can begin slowly and turn fatal without much warning – and vice versa. it’s a hell of an ailment that many horses suffer from. hearing your horse has a bad case of colic is more or less like hearing your horse is likely on their death bed.

Shelly wandered off to a heated room off the main aisle in the barn to catch some rest. i grabbed a dirty saddle pad (to act as a pillow) and two wool horse blankets and curled up on the tack trunk outside of Corvester’s stall. it was under 40 degrees and my whole body was hurting, but i was exactly where i wanted to be. Bigs watched me and i watched him. i think i got around 2 or so hours of sleep that night (interrupted). every sound i heard stirred me alert, fearing that Bigs was feeling worse. he munched on his hay and drank his water. i got up about every hour, just to hug him and hold him tight. i was a mess of tears, but next to him i felt stronger. i felt that we, together, would be able to make it through the night. he knew i was there and i do believe my being there gave him strength to recover. at 3:15am i heard a bang, bang, bang on his stall door. i awoke suddenly, bolting to my feet, to see what was going on. his head hung out of his stall and he just stood there staring at me with a twinkle in his eye, a twinkle i hadn’t seen when i’d first arrived. i raised up my arms and looked at him and said rather sarcastically, “what do you want?” he just stared at me and went back to munching on his hay.

but that’s Corvester. he would do that. he’d bang on his gate to rile me up, just to make sure i was still there, and then go about his business. i cried when he did this. i cried because i saw that sparkle in his eye and i knew he’d be okay. i knew he was back. not 100%, but i knew the worst was over. he’d just gone out of his way to bang on his door to wake me up only to ignore me and eat his hay. that is the kind of thing he would do, being the character that he is. he woke me up just to tell me he was going to be okay, i’m sure of this.

that’s when i rose from the trunk i’d been trying to sleep on, found a bike, and took a ride around the show grounds. horse shows are my old stomping grounds. i’d never actually been to Thermal before. years prior it was at another show grounds, called Indio – somewhere i had been. so, in the pitch black, i rode this stolen temporarily borrowed bike to the grand prix ring. i parked the bike and walked the next day’s course, in the dark. i took a handful of the sand footing in my hands and gripped at it, allowing it to fall through my fingers. i walked the entire course and counted all the strides. then i rode back and continued to lie on the trunk outside his stall, keeping one ear open at all times.

4:30 rolled around and Shelly woke up. the grooms came in around 5:00am. and by 7:00am the vet came around. he checked Bigs over and was in disbelief. he looked at me with a completely straight face and said, “your horse is a miracle. i really really didn’t think he’d make it to see the morning.”

euphoria swept over me like, well, like nothing i can describe. Corvester is my miracle horse, my miracle man. he is my world. the vet said he should be walked every two to three hours, just to make sure his tummy kept things moving to insure a full recovery. so, every few hours, i put a helmet on my head, a bridle on his, and took him for a thirty minute stroll (saddle free) around the show grounds on both sunday and monday. being the great horse he is, he still got frisky with me. he perked up and pranced with me on his back. i took him to the grand prix field on sunday afternoon to watch the grand prix (the big event of every week – the event that he and i used to compete in together). he got so amped up he damn near dragged me into the grand prix ring while the big class was going on. can we say best horse ever?

[mr. bigs, in all his glory. the love of my life. the day after surviving a near fatal case of colic.]

this horse is my life. he is me. he is my love. without him, i am not me. he and i are like one united force when placed together. as many stunts as he has been known to pull with other people, he hasn’t pulled them with me. we have an understanding. we have an unrivaled love for each other. he’s my Mr. Bigs. there’s nothing that will ever get in the way of a girl and her horse, i assure you of that.

jessi

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year of the dragon, a birthday, et. al.

the Chinese New Year began today. we have hereby entered the Year of the Dragon. being Year of the Pig Studio, i suppose i feel some closeness to the start of this Chinese New Year.

first of all, i live in Chinatown. i don’t live near or around Chinatown, i live on Chinatown. the main drag for tourists is on Grant Street, two blocks from me. the main drag for residents (a.k.a. lovers of vegetables and pink plastic bags filled with said vegetables) is Stockton Street, one block from me. my location is somewhat ideal because i am close to the hustle and bustle of everything Chinatown, but because i do not live on either Grant or Stockton streets, i rarely have to deal with the hustle and bustle of everything Chinatown unless i am walking to work.

my walk to work requires me to cross both Grant and Stockton, which is somewhat precarious for me because Stockton is a street filled with vegetables and fish on the sidewalk, literally. sure, these things are sold in various bins and carts, but the sidewalks of Chinatown are a mess with slime. slimy old fish bits (i shudder to think what parts of a fish i pass by/step on every day on my way to work) and fallen soggy vegetables. i regularly see giant scary googly eyed fish heads and entire pigs thrown over peoples shoulders and deep fried ducks hanging upside down suspended in window displays. Stockton Street is essentially one giant drag of a farmers market where chaos, little old ladies with carts, and pushing and shoving is not only acceptable, but encouraged.

i say “precarious” because i am (clearly) accident prone. if the shoes that i am wearing to work are not equipped with proper traction, i will almost always slip. i don’t always fall, but i have fallen a few times despite my best efforts to watch my footing. sigh, it’s just one of the consequences of living in Chinatown. if you can’t handle rotting slimy fish bits underfoot with the potential to land in the them ass first, then you’d best not live here. we’re a strong breed we are, us Chinatown dwellers.

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chinatown alley lights

speaking of year of the’s – i’m not certain i have ever informed you of how my little studio business got its name. as much as i appreciate the zodiac calendars (western, chinese, and otherwise), i take that sort of thing with a handful grain of salt. it’s always fun to turn to astrological what-have-yous to make sense of life, but really? it’s like visiting a chiropractor when you probably need back surgery. that sounds extreme, but i you know what i mean.

pigs are generally a symbol of gluttony. they are considered greedy, filthy, fat, and somewhat self serving. pigs are also known for being quite smart creatures, but this fact is often overlooked due to the descriptions above. i was born in 1984, which is considered by westerners to be the Year of the Rat. however, since the Chinese New Year begins about a month later than the Western New Year, i am technically a pig. i was born on January 27, 1984. the Year of the Rat began on February 2, 1984. so, you see, i am a pig and not a rat, just barely.

i’m not entirely sure when the love of and for pigs entered my life. i suppose it all started when i got a tattoo in 2007 on the top of my right foot. i have only a few tattoos, all of them being in black ink and taking up no more than a post-it size space on my body. i’ve always admired those with full sleeves and other tattoos that take up massive amounts of skin space because that’s a commitment. it’s almost like having a baby, it’ll be with you for life and in twenty years you might entirely regret having it, but what’s done is done. you can get them removed if you feel so inclined, but it will cost you a pretty penny. and, like having a child (if you are a woman), if you end up regretting the ink on your skin you will probably feel as though that part of your body is ruined forever. that stubborn baby weight will never leave your side and you’ll be left scarred. i’m sounding far more cryptic than i had intended. truth is :: i adore children and i think there are few things more beautiful than a pregnant woman, but i’m just being a cynical self righteous asshole because i can be. apologies. at least you only pay for a tattoo once, you’ll never have to worry about covering their rent, tuition, or bail?

for the record, i’ve never been to jail. i’m off topic and being a smart ass.

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paul klee pig tattoo, right foot

so, this tattoo on my foot is of a pig. this drawing of a pig is by Paul Klee, a swiss born german artist. i found this drawing in an art history book during college and fell in love with it immediately. mr. klee drew this pig while wearing a blind fold. apparently, he and his buddies decided to blind fold themselves and draw pigs in a sketch book. this explains why the pig looks somewhat unfinished, but when i first encountered this drawing i thought it was the perfect pig. i can’t remember the exact quote (directed at his fellow artist friends) from Klee that accompanied this drawing, but it was something along the lines of :: “dear friends, i hope we can achieve this kind of success in our lives.” meaning :: though we will never be perfect or entirely finished or completely satisfied with our work, if we persevere with our hearts and talent, we’ll probably be just fine. it’s the whole, “perfection within imperfection” concept. a concept that i adore because i adore people and things not despite their imperfections, but because of them.

after that, pigs just kind of entered my life in strange and unexpected ways. my best friend began a band which she named, “Blue, Pig.” a reference to the movie Disco Pigs, where two lovers (named Pig and Runt) are discussing love. Pig asks Runt, “what’s the color of love?” and Runt replies, “Blue, Pig.” when i first dabbled with the thought of having my own studio, i mulled over many names. Jessi Kempin Studio sounded dull and everything else that came to mind was so incredibly cheezy (yes, so cheesy it deserves a “z”). after much legwork and consultations with the oracle (a.k.a. google), i took a shining to Year of the Pig. it rolled of the tongue nicely (even though the url is a bit word-y) and i s’pose it just felt right. there have been many more pig related things in my life, but i will not bore you with that.
 
i have yet to describe to you, properly, my new living arrangement. over christmas weekend i moved from my embarrassingly small room into a new room, in the same apartment. the room is larger. the closet is larger. and i finally ditched my crumby hand-me-down-on-the-floor single mattress that i’d been sleeping on for over a year and upgraded to a firm foam mattress in a lofted bed (thanks, ikea). this means that i sleep three feet from the ceiling, which means that the entire room is now devoted to being my studio space. this upgrade was a long time coming. it came at the expense of my french roommate moving back to Paris, so it was incredibly bittersweet. losing him in this household was more than painful. the day he left, i was on the floor in his then empty bedroom reduced to tears. he is one of the best people i have ever met in my life. he made me laugh on a daily basis. he cared for me deeply, and i him. and san francisco just isn’t the same without him. boy oh boy, how i love that boy.
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this friday i will be turning twenty eight years old. i care not for my own birthday. i do adore celebrating other peoples’ birthdays, but have never cared to celebrate my own. i feel the same way towards my own birthday as i do to the new year. 365 days have passed and that’s that. and technically, i came into existence nine months prior to the day i was born. if we celebrate our lives, we ought to celebrate the day we were conceived, not the day our mothers went through hell and back only to have us erupt from her body as a slimy, screaming, ungrateful, demanding, crying mess of a thing. i already warned you that i was feeling cynical this evening, so i won’t bother to apologize again.
thanks to my new space, i’ve since whipped out my oil paints again. oil painting is my first true love, but it requires a proper space and ventilation – i had neither in my previous shoebox sized room. but here, i have both. and it’s so exciting! i’m currently in the process of painting a portrait of my best friend in new york. her name is Katie and she is the best person i know. exhibit A ::
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other than that? i have more stories to tell, but i’ve already rambled on for far too long (per usual). i hope to post in the coming week (not sure if i’ll be 27 or 28 when that happens, but no matter). until then, i will be painting, hiding in my lofted bed with my cat, and listening to the excessive amount of Chinese firecrackers going off around my home. the new year celebration lasts fifteen days, starting today. i may invest in a pair of ear plugs because those firecrackers sound a lot like gunfire.
happy Year of the Dragon from Year of the Pig Studio!
[iPhone Instagram photos]
jessi

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hip hip horr-appy new year (of the pig studio) !

prepare yourself for an unforeseen rant ::

i cannot stand those who choose to use a single letter over an actual word when typing text messages.

you is not u. are is not r. be is not b. and before is most certainly not b4. lol is one that i have come to tolerate only because even people who don’t use the r, u, and b letters to act as entire words still tend to use the oh so well loved lol. personally, i do not use it. i have used it, but felt filled with shame on each and every fleeting occasion that i have. but you will never see me using possibly the worst combination of letters in recent history: rotflmao. there never has been, never is, and never will be an appropriate time to type that. if it’s so f*cking funny, simply write hahahahaha. this now brings me to haha and hehe and teehehe and every other god forsaken spin off that “we” use. i use haha when i find something particularly funny because i refuse to use lol. at least haha is phonetic. i use hehe fleetingly. hehe and teehehe are reserved for making cute remarks and flirting. i never seldom do either so it hasn’t become part of my textcabulary (i just made that word up and feel particularly brilliant having done so, so please don’t burst my bubble by saying this term has already been included in the latest edition of webster’s dictionary).

and then there are the smiley faces, the emoticons. first of all, i completely despise the word emoticon because it makes me angry for reasons i cannot properly explain. that said, i will admit to using and possibly even abusing smiley faces. my only defense being that because it is incredibly hard to gauge sarcasm through just a text message, i insert :) these to inform the receiver that no harm was intended and that my snide remark was most likely not to be taken seriously. the smiley face :) is also a nice way to end a conversation. the smiley indicates that your discussion has left you happy and satisfied and, well, f*cking smiling, so there’s no need to say anymore. i suppose what i’m really trying to say is that inserting a single smiley face and nothing else is a great way to cut a text conversation short if you either aren’t in the mood to text, haven’t got the time to text, or if you just didn’t want to text in the first place.

there are many variations of the smiley face. i prefer nose-less smileys not because i am too lazy to type a – dash or the letter o or the number zero, but because i think they look f*cking stupid with noses. exhibit a: :-), :o), :0). a traditional smiley face (you know, that yellow guy we all know so well) never had a nose, so why should i add one now? when it comes to smileys, i say don’t fix what ain’t broken. he never had a nose in the first place and i see no reason for him to have one now. some people choose to use the = equals sign for the eyes instead of the : colon. as long as there is no nose involved, i guess i am not going to judge.

speaking of smiley faces. i’ll never forget the story of a girl who went to her pediatrician with her mother. she was there to receive a shot of some kind. she was fairly terrified of needles and had to be calmed before the needle appeared. the doctor, in an effort to soften the blow, thought she’d draw a smiley face on the girl’s arm prior to the shot. the girl was a bit dumbfounded by this new development at the doctor’s office and was then able to relax a little. the doctor then asked the girl, “so, what’s missing from this smiling face?” the girl replied with a look of confusion on her face, “..a …nose?” to which the doctor replied, “exactly” and proceeded to stab the girl in the arm (between the sharpie eyes and smile) with the shot to complete said smiley face on the girl’s arm.

i find this story to be both gruesome and hilarious simultaneously, which explains why i love it so so much.

i forgot to wish you a very happy new year!, christmas!, hanukkah! and so forth and so on!

the holidays flew by like a hurricane. after having my foot broken at the end of november (on an otherwise glorious monday morning), the chaos ensued. work was busy and then it became extra super duper crazy busy. everyone and their mother was shopping for presents and stocking stuffers, leaving me and my fellow employees little to no down time and a few hours of overtime.

i spent christmas eve moving into a new bedroom. i am in the same apartment, but i am now in a larger room. the upgrade was a long time coming and i am exponentially happier in my larger space. my room is no longer a place that i am embarrassed to say that i live in. i no longer reside in a 10’x10′ shoebox nor do i sleep on a crumpled unevenly spring filled single mattress on the floor. my room is far larger and now contains a lofted double mattress, allowing me ample space to spread out all of my art supplies and desks. 

i spent christmas day alone in my new room in san francisco. this is the first year that i’ve spent the holiday without my family and for that reason it was significant. but to honest? i was fine. i was ok. moving into my new space was incredibly therapeutic and i spoke to all of my important people on christmas day via telephone. a dear friend here in the city took me out to dinner somewhat last minute on christmas day, which made the whole christmas-by-myself experience pretty great. it’s not that i despise trees in houses or boxes wrapped in paper or family members mashing potatoes for dinner, but the holidays tend to represent a stressful time for me. and in an effort to be selfish and remain free of unneeded stress, i opted for a holiday season alone in san francisco.

and then the new year hit. although i did not do much to celebrate the occasion, i was surrounded by a handful of choice friends who made the night (and wee morning hours) perfect. i spent the day before and after the new year cleaning my apartment’s kitchen and back storage area. which was great because those areas badly needed cleaning, but come the tuesday morning after the start of the new year i awoke with some insane allergies. i believe my cleaning kicked up some serious mold and bacteria. i arrived at work about three hours after i was supposed to and was completely useless for the hours that i was there. come the next day i was in bed drugged up on a wicked cocktail of anti-histamines, decongestants, and the like. by wednesday the 4th of january i had a fever of 101 degrees and felt not unlike a limp wet rag – oh, how i hate the flu. by friday i was able to open my eyes, by saturday i was able to walk, by sunday i was able to think, and by monday i was able to leave my apartment feeling less like a zombie and more like an actual human being. 

all this means is that i’ve already used up five sick days and it’s only the twelfth of january. it’s a major bummer, but maybe if i get this sort of thing out of my system now, it’ll mean it won’t hit me later. 

i do not believe in new year’s resolutions, but this year i have decided that i will propose at least a small goal for myself, that is: “no assholes, injuries, or illness.”

may that be my mantra for two thousand and twelve.

good night, good riddance, and a very happy new year to each and every one of you!

xxx

jessi

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a napkin. some skymall. (& yes, i’d love some cheese with my whine.)

this is going to be a painfully scattered post, i apologize in advance. after breaking my left foot two and a half weeks ago, my life turned into chaos.

i participated in three different group shows (i’ll post pictures of the work when i can, but i don’t have the means to get good pictures as it were at the moment) that all opened on the same weekend (thursday, friday, & saturday). i had a total of five pieces that i had to start and complete in about three weeks time which is no easy task to begin with, much less when you have a full time job (where you seem to be working overtime somewhat regularly (without even meaning to) thank you, holiday season), and when you’re foot is broken which means getting from A to B takes an extra 15 minutes at least (and let’s not forget the pain involved, which, i am happy to report has almost completely subsided at this point).

in addition to that madness, one of my roommates is moving out. which is both good and bad. selfishly, i am happy because this means i get to take over his room. my 10′ x 10′ palace of a bedroom has reduced me to tears more than four times in the last three weeks. between the paintings (one of which was 4′ x 4′), the broken foot, my having a cat, my having the tiniest excuse for a closet, and possibly the world’s most uncomfortable single mattress on the floor – i have finally had it up to here (where ever ‘here’ is). however, i am sadder than sad to see him leave. he is one of my very best friends here in this city and i am going to miss him like a fool. i’ve already cried about his departure even though he’s still living in the room next to me. this also means we may or may not to have to post a listing on craigslist, which is just a nightmare in and of itself. fortunately, i already have two (maybe three) people interested in the space, so if i can dodge the craigslist bullet i will be one happy camper, believe you me.

i spent this past sunday and monday spring cleaning in december. bags of trash for the dump and bags of clothes for good will. my room was a complete catastrophe until i spent the better part of yesterday and will spend the better part of today (and i felt forced to ask for two days off from work just to get everything done) cleaning up the walls, giving it a fresh paint job, and the like. by december 23rd i will be in my new room and i can’t wait for the extra space. as it is right now, those eight days can’t come soon enough. and did i forget to mention the fact that christmas is only ten short days away? my worlds are colliding and i feel like i’m about to spin out of control.

i’m exhausted, my sleeping schedule is in ruins. i’ve been crashing at around 8:45pm only to rise around 3:00am unable to fall back to sleep despite my best efforts.

i haven’t returned voicemails, missed calls, or texts in weeks. shambles, i say! and don’t even get me started on the impending holiday season. cards and gifts will just simply not happen this year, apologies. i will be spending christmas by myself, likely curled in the fetal position clutching onto my cat. and to be honest? that’s all i want this year, even if i didn’t have my two front teeth.

so, now for the fun part. as hectic as the past few weeks have been, i have some things to share that are anything but stressful. in fact, they are down right awesome-sauce:

one of the single best napkins i could have ever received. thank you, allen.

THE FOLLOWING ARE BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE SINGLE BEST MAGAZINE EVER, SKYMALL:

i could think of a more flattering picture to be used, but that’s just one man’s opinion.

“a must-have for interfaith marriages”

possibly the coolest sweatshirts ever

i have nothing to say about this

just in time for the holidays

i like penguins

words cannot describe the brilliant placement of the these two images next to each other, my hat is off to SkyMall’s design team.

i do not remember computer games being so lifelike

it’s true, there is absolutely nothing ordinary about this.

that is all for now, it’s time to attempt some shut eye.

[napkin. skymall clippings.]

jessi

 

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gobble gobble & i’m pretty sure god is a woman.

happy thanksgobble!

there is something so darn endearing about this holiday. it’s a lot like christmas, but without the hassle of gift giving, tree buying, and light hanging. plus, it is a holiday centered around delicious home-y food. i can only speak for myself here, but i’ve never experienced bad food on thanksgiving. even when i wasn’t completely impressed with the food, i still couldn’t say it was bad. this holiday is more or less perfect for people who don’t cook because anyone in charge of any main or side dish knows that the pressure is on to perform well. even the worst cooks step it up a notch (or three) at thanksgiving, guaranteeing that you will be content with the food on the table. it may not knock your socks off with flavor or flare, but it is more than edible. and i know from experience, having eaten side dishes cooked by people who tend to avoid the kitchen, that they really do put their best foot forward and manage to put something on the table that is not considered a disaster or even a near disaster. and sometimes that thing that they produced ends up being the star of the side dish show. a true honor for culinary underdogs.

speaking of feet, i have a short story to tell you that involves one of my feet, the left one. this past monday morning i was jogging around north beach. it’s a long enough story as to why i turned my head, taking my eyes away from the pavement for a split second, but i did. the result? my left foot landed on an uneven piece of the sidewalk, rolled left, bounced back to the right, and catapulted me superman style onto the pavement. my iPod and headphones went flying ahead of me. i landed more or less on my right knee (the knee that i fractured during the summer when a pair of heels had a not so lovely love affair with the cable car tracks on market street). i lay on the sidewalk, on my stomach, rather stunned. i felt an immediate pain in my left foot. my first thought was not so much about, “am i ok?” but more like, “are you kidding me?” if i’m a professional anything, it would be clutz.

this is when god spoke to me.

i sat up, gathering my iPod and headphones. i sat on the sidewalk with my back against a wall. my right knee was bleeding and i cradled my left foot while it throbbed with pain. out of nowhere this female voice said, rather soft and sweet and ethereal, “are you ok?” i spun my head around to look for the source of the voice. no one was around. i was surrounded by a big empty sidewalk and intersection. i looked all around me and finally said, “uh. um. yes, i’m ok, thank you.. where are you?” she did not reply to me or say anything more. i just sat there holding my left foot, rocking back and forth, biting my bottom lip in pain, and trying to suppress a bit of laughter. laughter because i am so accident prone it is, at this point, just plain funny. it’s also incredibly frustrating and upsetting, but i have learned (the hard way) that i have two choices in moments like this. laugh or cry? neither will actually get you anywhere, but i know that laughing feels better. so i’ve taken to laughing at myself on the regular. (and a quick word from the wise, if you’ve just spoken to someone who’s fallen, don’t suggest that they try to “stay vertical” from now on. it’s not funny or clever, it’s annoying).

this woman’s voice probably came from an apartment window overlooking my spill on the sidewalk, but i never saw her. i’d rather just think that god was asking me if i was ok and god definitely had a lady’s voice. so i’m pretty sure god is, in fact, a lady (or a man who’s voice never dropped). regardless, i’m going to go ahead and tell people from now on that i have heard the voice of god (even though i don’t believe in god and (probably) never will). life is a lot more tolerable when you live blindly and intentionally in denial, and i really am going for tolerable these days. if you broke four bones in the space of six months, you’d not only understand but also agree with me.

thanksgiving day has finally come to an end. i had plans to do absolutely nothing. as much as i love my family and friends, gathering around a table for a holiday has rarely been a stress free event. it wasn’t always stressful in years past, but just plain meh. even when the night goes smoothly and as planned, i always felt this total sense of depression at the end of the meal. you usually spend the whole day (and probably the night before) cooking and planning for the great feast. if you are anything like me, by the time you sit down to the dinner table (and we have always planned to eat around five, but usually didn’t end up eating before seven), you aren’t even that hungry anymore. it’s a combination of exhaustion (since you woke up at some ungodly hour to begin cooking) and the fact that while you were cooking for seven hours you nibbled on things here and there. by the time all is said and done, the sight of a fresh oven roasted turkey, whipped potatoes, and perfectly sauteed brussels sprouts is not that exciting because you’ve been staring at and tasting it all day long. all i really want at that point is a glass of chilled white wine, a cigarette, and some terrible cable television. forgive me for being so d*mn american sometimes.

so i decided to surpass all of the nonsense this year. no turkey for me. no dining room table. no cranberry sauce. no arguments. no expectations. i painted for the better part of the day. i listened to my favorite music. i elevated and iced my broken foot. i snuggled my cat. i woke up at eight. cleaned my kitchen and showered. i painted. i met a friend at noon for a coffee. i accompanied him to an artist’s studio to view some paintings. i returned home and painted some more. and then i received a phone call from another friend who had, just the day before, invited me to an ‘orphan’s thanksgiving dinner’ at a house in the haight. i was hesitant to accept the invitation because i was adamant about staying home alone, but by the time 5:00 rolled around, i was getting a little restless and leaving my apartment for a free meal sounded pretty good.

i was promised that it would be easy, friendly, simple, and free of expectations. i arrived around 6:30 during the middle of dinner. there were about fifteen people there, i knew only a couple of them (artists and customers from work). i ate a small helping of turkey, taters, cranberry sauce, and brussels sprouts. i met several people and they were all easy, friendly, simple, and free of expectations, just as i had been promised. i did not feel the need to entertain or be entertained. i tasted the best pie of my life (some caramel concoction with a whipped cream top and buttery crust, currently looking into who made it and what it is because i was speechless after trying it).

it was a perfect thanksgiving. i headed home about three hours later, comfortably full (not painfully stuffed like most years) and happy. i am now turning in for bed because tomorrow i am working retail on one of my least favorite days of the year, black friday. i think if it were three years ago, i’d be complaining about and dreading it, fearful of all the target-black-sale-ish customers i will likely be forced to deal with tomorrow. but to be totally honest? i’m excited. i’m excited to watch our store make money. i’m excited to chat up customers. i’m excited because i work in such a beautiful store and i get to show it off tomorrow. i’m excited because i really do love my job, which is more than a lot of people can say. and i’m excited despite the fact that my left foot is broken and i have a feeling i’ll be on my feet crutches for the better part of the day.

i hope you had as lovely a holiday as i did. stress free, friendly, simple, and free of expectations. i am grateful for just being here on this earth. for the wonderful people and animals in my life. for a job i love. for a roof over my head. and for the best pie of my life.

happy thanksgiving from a very content year of the pig studio <3

[35mm film, manual nikon. double decker, london 2008.]

jessi

 

 

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let them eat cake.

you can have your cake and eat it, too.

:: this is most often used negatively, to connote the idea of consuming a thing whilst managing to preserve it. it may also indicate having or wanting more than one can handle or deserve, or trying to have two incompatible things ::

(thanks, wikipedia.)

there was an incident recently, where in, a man with a pink cake box (half open with a plastic white fork piercing a sloppy mess of what appeared to be the remains of a third of a vanilla cake) approached and offered me said cake. the man himself was covered in frosting. and i mean covered. it was everywhere.

was he homeless? i think so, he certainly looked and acted the part. i was minding my own business on the Peter Macchiarini steps, also known as ‘the stairway to san francisco.’ i wouldn’t really call them that myself. it’s basically a really steep street with two sidewalks on either side that are, well, steps instead of flat ground because they are so steep. there’s nothing particularly stunning about them. they provide a nice-ish view of the city, but nothing you’d think the average tourist would wet his pants over (even though tourists tend to flock there with their cameras, but they always look a bit disappointed after they take their many pictures).

he was pretty f*cking serious about sharing that cake with me. i politely and then not so politely declined his offer(s) more than once before gathering my things to move along and find another place to kill the remaining forty minutes of my lunch break (which is more difficult than it sounds because have you ever noticed how hard it is to find ‘somewhere to sit’ when you are really looking for one?). upon my departure of these steps he very loudly demanded a cigarette from me. notice i used the word demanded, not asked. it was at this point that, for the first time in my life, i reprimanded a homeless person. i actually had the what-have-you to tell him to “use his manners” and “say please.” part of me was ready to bolt in the event he didn’t appreciate my ‘tude (attitude, that is) and another part of me was painfully curious to see how he’d react to such a reprimand and ‘good manners’ reminder. he looked a little bewildered by what i had said, but he was entirely submissive. i had, apparently, caught him off guard. he, quite simply, replied “may i please have a cigarette?” i was in such disbelief myself that i blindly handed him one from my pack and proceeded to bolt across broadway, knowing that there was no way he could chase me without dropping that cake box, and trust me, he was gripping that cake box like a mother might grip a lost child she’d just found, holding on for dear life.

(i have a confession :: although i did not eat that cake, it really did look delicious and i really was tempted.)

now i feel the need to explain my absence from this blog-world because i had gotten into the habit of writing every week (if not more). as we all know, that thing called life tends to get in the way, so let me summarize as best i can ::

i certainly can’t blame cake-man (not a far cry from caveman, eh?) for my blog neglect (er, blogect?). hot d*mn i’m feeling clever this afternoon (stay tuned for more wicked word combinations). my room became uncontrollably messy just as my life did. these two things always seem to coincide with each other and i do not think that it’s a coincidence. halloween happened, which was ok. my outfit was great, but the holiday itself lacked the usual gusto i have gotten so used to on the thirty first of october. the people of san francisco just don’t seem to pray to the halloween gods as much as the people of new york city seem to. it was so bad that i nearly didn’t dress up, which would have meant that for the first time in my life (twenty seven short years) i didn’t dress up. i decided that that was unacceptable, so i dressed up with a friend and had a rather tame evening walking around town in an effort to show off my costume. i dressed as Mrs. Mia Wallace, known better as ‘Uma Thurman’s character from Pulp Fiction.’ her character after she unknowingly snorts a line of heroine (oops). so i donned a white button up shirt, black slacks, and a bloody nose (and a syringe protruding from my chest). a great costume, but not my favorite halloween. sigh, these things happen.

and after the end of october? i don’t really know what happened. i was busy jogging, working, and painting. a friend came into town. my schedule at work changed for a week while my manager was out of town. and then my job title at work changed (and i received a raise)(both of which are terribly exciting!). and then i was invited to participate in not one, but three, group shows that are all set to open in the first week of december. you know, life stuff.

today i sit here at my desk this afternoon wearing a bright blue beanie (gifted to me by roommate, er rather he didn’t want it so i got it), a scarf (obtained from a thrift store in Stockholm), and paint covered sweatshirt and sweatpants with my best friend on my lap (my cat, Alaska). it’s been raining for the last day or two here in san francisco. a seattle sort of rain that makes you cold to the bone, but it feels good. it feels cozy to be inside surrounded by my favorite music and paints. i only realized this morning at 11:30am (after a thirty minute jog, coffee, and hot shower) that it was sunday not monday. which means that i didn’t have a meeting at 2:30, a haircut at 3:3o, another meeting at 5:00, and dinner at 7:00. it means that all i have to do for the rest of the day is paint. and i can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

next week i will tell you all about my plans to ignore this coming thursday the twenty fourth of november, Thanksgiving.

jessi

 

 

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