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Let's Get Personal

TMI: Plastic Surgery

Amy Chen

I got plastic surgery the summer after senior year of high school. It was 2006 and there was a surge in asian girls getting the popular double eyelid procedure, especially before college. You mean you can use money to bypass dealing with your insecurities that is self-manifested and "fit in" by superficially inserting a line above your eyes in the faux-appearance of bigger, doey-er eyes? Uhmmmm yes please! Being 18, raging hormones, acne scars, identity-seeking crises, and desperate for validation from anyone (what is this..."self"-respect) was enough for me to persuade my family that my future success hinged on the confidence I would gain from the procedure.

My first time with the procedure would involve the surgeon making tiny suture knots on my eyelid so that when I opened my eyes, it would fold where the knots were, thereby through repetition would increasingly cement the "fold". The sutures would then be removed a couple weeks later with the hope that the eyelid would "remember" to crease. Risk of relapse were high but the upside of this non-invasive procedure meant that no cutting was involved. Because I was only in Thailand for less than 2 weeks, I couldn't return to get the sutures removed. I went through my first year in college trying never to look down or close my eyes near people because the sutures were obvious. It was a pretty paradoxical form of confidence but after less than a year later the knots fell out and by the end of college, my eyelids had relapsed.

The second time was two years after I graduated college. This time was invasive. I still remember seeing, after the first incision on my eyelid, the sudden light through the thin layer of skin and how the color of blood quickly filled over despite having my eyes shut. It hurt incredibly, despite the anesthetic, this procedure involved cutting reattaching the eyelid muscle to a fixed point in which the fold would occur. I looked beat up for a month.

The funny thing about this confidence boosting procedure was that it worked and didn't work. I did feel better about my looks but any time I was given a compliment, it always felt flat and hollow. Thank the plastic surgeon I would think and it hit me one night that despite seeking genuine experiences, people's experiences with me was possibly already manipulated by the "face" I bought. It might not be a huge deal all in all (really it's superficial) but the roots of my earlier decisions stem from fear. Hoping for it not to fester, I'm digging it out and exposing it to some fresh air. 

TMI: Dreams, Dads, and Death

Amy Chen

When I was little, I snuck into my parent's room and saw my dad taking one of his afternoon naps. Wanting to 'hang out,' I brought over my childhood blanket from my room and spread it on the floor next to his side of the bed so that I too could join my dad in dreamspace. I remember waking up groggy and looked up at my dad, except he wasn't there anymore. The shock of having an unquestioned presence disappear rocked my little 8 year old brain and I bursted into tears. He left me without telling me! I was instantly angry at the thought that I was left behind and forgotten. 

A couple days ago, I had a dream I was living back with my parents, in the house where I had spent my childhood. My dad said good night and never woke up. I remember the initial shock of the mundanity of exits (he just said good night!), followed by asking myself if I was sad or not. What did it mean to die in your sleep? He had seemingly left the world peacefully, but no one was there to witness except himself. Is there a difference between knowing and not knowing?   

I called my dad and told him about the dream, to which he responded, "Oh that would be the best!" and we had a delightful conversation about his own dreams. His company and work took up the majority, followed by my mom, and the rest of nebulous content he can never seem to pinpoint. He admits he did have one dream of my older brother years ago.

"What about me?" I asked.

"You? Never."

We laughed (I choked back a tear and repressed my existential crises) and I took the moment to thank him for everything he's done and that I loved him, just in case he decides to hang up before I'm ready.

3rd-Eye Daruma Process

Amy Chen

Darumas, originally modeled after the founder of the Zen tradition of Buddhism, act as a physical, visual reminder to keep your focus on your dream. You can typically purchase these empty-eyed trinkets from Japanese Buddhist temples in which you take it home, set your goal, fill in the left pupil and only fill in the other eye when the goal has been accomplished. Seeing your one-eyed doll delivers an instantaneous connection to that drive and yearn that made you fill in the eye in the first place. 

I wanted a reminder to constantly seek one's higher consciousness and to see with the literal mind's eye beyond physical reality. The initial sketch is hilarious to me, despite my eagerness to redesign a favorite powerful symbol of mine, it always starts off incredibly derpy. I guess it's a reminder in itself to not knock off anything right off the bat, as which most things, it just takes time and intent (and a lot of warping) to get to a happier place. 

TMI: Let's talk about Menstruation

Amy Chen

Another goal for making a personal blog was to get back to having a space that was mine to do whatever with. In April of 2016 I told myself to get off birth control so my body could return back to it's natural state. It's Feb 2018 and my body is still finding its way (and yes I've talked to my doctors). In the beginning, my mom found out I was taking birth control and constantly stressed to me (she's a pharmacist) that intaking extraneous hormones will have its consequences. Like anyone, I waved it off for the instantaneous solution, the future will figure itself out, later. Well, the future is NOW(!) and after having taken birth control for almost a decade, it's a pretty unnerving situation to be in especially when you're thinking about one day having children. My dad tells me not to stress out and to enjoy life, which in general is solid advice, so, this is me compartmentalizing it in a fun way.

8/5/18 - Update - A little over 2 years later I got my period back! 2nd Puberty! I'm literally a new woman!  

8/5/18 - Update - A little over 2 years later I got my period back! 2nd Puberty! I'm literally a new woman! 

It's all Space

Amy Chen

Originally I was thinking the backing cards for my pins would be individual pieces cut from a larger whole. I started drawing on a 3' x 4' sheet of black card-stock thinking I could cut up squares for the pins and if you bought a set you got a piece of the 'universe' where these tiny astronauts were all having their own experience and the possible paths that may have crossed in time and space. I couldn't figure out how to consistently get the logo to print so it's still not yet dismembered. Nothing ever works out completely the way you'd want on the first go but I did get a bunch of art out of myself for it. 

Hello World

Amy Chen

Hello! I've decided to get in the habit of blogggging in an attempt to use parts of my brain that are on the verge of being defunct and to practice putting coherent phrases together. Since finding out about a nearby ceramics studio last year, I've been picking it back up! During my senior year at UCLA (2010) I was making these creatures who died of three different causes: Gluttony, Paranoia, and Heartache. 

To get back into the spirit of throwing (the term used for vessels/pieces made on the potter's wheel) I decided to make planters and darumas. Posting the photos I've managed to remember to take along the way.