Monday, October 8, 2012

No meaning, no grandness

So, the on-camera acting class wasn't all that I hoped it would be. Maybe it was because it was a "mixed" class of beginning and advanced students, I wasn't all that impressed. Most of the stuff that were discussed in class where things I already learned in grad school but there were some things I learned about acting in front of a camera. When the camera is doing a bust shot or a close-up, you can't move around too much because you'll go out of the frame. But the basic acting stuff was the same although you don't have as much liberty with space as you do on stage and your movements don't have to be exaggerated. So, that was that.

As for work, I have an audition tomorrow for a production company. I will let you all know how that goes.

As for life, it's a little less exciting. I have been feeling depressed and keeping my head above water trying not to feel like a failure. I was thinking about the cause of all this. I think the depression and discouragement came from my expectation to live a grand, successful life with meaning. Meaning had to pave my way to success. Looking back, I feel I wasted so much time looking for meaning because what initially seemed meaningful felt less fulfilling as time went on. I always went back to square one when meaning seemed to dissipate over time.

So, today, I pondered on the possibility of no meaning and no grandness. What if there is no meaning in what I do, but how I do it? Then it doesn't matter what I do. I could collect garbage and do it meaningfully. If I loosened my grip on the neck of grandness and be content to be average, then the pressure would be off. If I decide to not be so significant, then all is well. I would be free from the pressure that paralyzed me.

Let's see how well this experiment goes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Success? What Success?

For the first time in fourteen years, I met up with a friend I hadn't seen since we graduated from high school. Funny how you can immediately go back in time and feel as though you were in high school just last year. We caught up on each other's life, mainly career and love.

She was a really smart girl in high school so I was surprised that she stopped at just getting an associate's degree. After college, she got a job, saved up and bought a house. I was impressed. I told her, "Wow, you've done really well for yourself," to which she replied, "Well, you've succeeded, too."

I blinked.

How was I successful, I asked. She said I had a master's degree. I laughed. It's interesting how people measure success. Maybe success lies on the greener grass of the other side.

Taking the road much traveled by

A couple of months ago, I had a gig interpreting for a Korean director working with Hollywood actors for an animated film. I attended the auditions, the decision-making, and the actual recording of the entire film (which was very entertaining and educational!). On the last day, the casting director paid me a compliment on my interpreting skills, said I had a potential to be a great director, and told me to give her a call if I ever wanted to become an actress. (Sometimes, I had to "act out" the subtle, understated acting of the director so that's probably where she saw the potential.)

So a month later, I sent her my resume and headshot and scheduled a phone meeting. She gave me some advice on how to go about doing things one of which was taking an acting class for TV and film since all of my acting has been on stage. She also gave me some websites to poke around in to start making connections and find an agent. She is also casting for a film in LA soon, and she said we can lunch and chat some more when she's in town (she's based in New York). Having worked with her, I could tell she really cared about the actors she knew and worked with so I felt like I could trust her.

I have been busy applying for a grant for some translation work and editing some chapters of a book, so I have been putting that off. But now that I am all done with it, I have scheduled to audit an acting class by a renowned acting coach in LA.

Frankly, I am scared to death of the entire prospect of forging a career in acting. If I think about it logically, there is nothing to be afraid of--I've got nothing to lose! But Hollywood is such a foreign place and I am scared to go alone. Auditioning for operas is nothing because I am familiar with it. Maybe it's because Hollywood seems so intimidating and I feel like I have to climb Mt. Everest to succeed. Maybe I am scared of the pressure I will put on myself. But I am gonna try. I know I'll regret it if I don't.

I am auditing the class tomorrow, so I will tell you all about it. (If anyone else wants to join me, holler! It would be less nerve-racking to have a nerve-racked buddy. :))

Sunday, August 26, 2012

In the Galaxies of an Eye

I have never publicly shared my poems (I don't write them very often anyways) but since I have a blog, I have decided to sheepishly make my debut. Sharing personal poetry is like standing in front of an audience naked. It's like turning my heart inside out. But I think I am in a safe place so here it is: (Ick!)

there are galaxies of  galaxies in an eye
it may be in there,  you know
the answer to a soul's yearning for meaning
it's somehow in the glitter of an eye

a question that lingers and returns
as the soft blades of baby leaves turn brown
and the delicate membrane of a dew drop gives way
to the inevitability of the passing of a season
and the inevitability of its return

leaves come back in blossoms of buds
dews arrive wrapped in aqueous blankets
they forget their fleeting existence
the soul receives no comfort

but in the stillness of our heartbeats
I notice the galaxies of another's eye

maybe the answer is in there
in the sparkle,
in the beauty
in the mystery
in the love
of a soul that doesn't want to wait
but is ready to fly

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Silent Noon

This is my all-time favorite English song. The marriage of the poetry (Rossetti) and music (Vaughan Williams) is absolutely breath-taking. It kills me every time I hear it. "The twofold silence was the song of love." Who knew?!?!

Silent Noon

Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass--
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.

Deep in the sun-searched growth the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:--
So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When twofold silence was the song of love.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Meaning of Meaning

I must have written 3 or 4 different versions of this post and virtually ripped the pages out of the screen, scrunched them and threw them on the floor. I've been trying to articulate what I have been feeling the last couple of months about life. The problem with that is I think too much in circles and paralyze myself. The perennial questions that tailgate every endeavor I undertake are: What is the meaning of this? How does this enhance the meaning of my life? And eventually, what at first looked like an endeavor that seemed meaning-enhancing turns out to be just another illusion. So, I have been asking myself, what really is meaningful? What am I looking for? What do I want out of life?

The easy answer is happiness. We all want to be happy. But it gets more complicated when we start asking ourselves what brings us lasting happiness. Buddhist philosophy tells us it is non-attachment and finding the quiet constant behind the loud variables of perceived reality are what bring us true happiness. I think that's true: finding joy in being. When I get quiet and feel my heartbeat, I am grateful for the life I have been given. There is a lot to be thankful for. But we are meant to do more than just breathe and let our hearts beat and be grateful for our lives although I think that's a good place to start. Maybe it's because I don't fully understand Buddhist philosophy, but if I am just happy in being, I would be the laziest person on earth. I gotta do something!

My biggest fear is that at the end of my life, I would look back and wonder what my life could have been if I were courageous. I am afraid of not utilizing and cultivating my talents and dying in regret. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so artistically inclined and instead liked blood and guts so I could be a doctor. (At least if I tried hard enough, there would be an end in sight. And a job!) Trying to "make it" in the arts is difficult. It's tempting to sell out for the sake of convenience and comfort. But I know at the end of the day, I would be miserable knowing I am not living the life I want to live. The flip side of doing what I want to do, however, is terrifying. Uncertainty abounds. I have to plow though a labyrinth of obstacles not knowing when it's going to end. Call it a gift or a curse--even with the odds highly stacked against me, I can't back down. I've gotta try.

Maybe it's because of my dedication to developing my talents (and its attachment of purpose and meaning to my existence), many important things take secondary place in my life like marriage and family. Maybe it's because I grew up in a broken home that I don't have this earnest desire to be a wife and mother to someone. But there are many moments when I feel lonely and long for a companion that I could rely on when things get tough. If there is a man with whom I can feel at home and accepted despite my failures, I think I would be open to marrying him. And maybe, I may even feel encouraged to try without the fear of failure and judgement. Then, he would become meaningful to me. He would be congruous with my life's purpose rather than intrusional. The hardest part would be to let go of my pride and let him see all the imperfections. Ah, the useless pride... And kids--I have no idea how they are going to fit into my life's purpose. I like kids. I actually love them. I guess I'll have to have them first to see why they mean so much.

So, all this rambling is really meant to clarify one thing for myself: I want to live a meaningful life. And that means living a happy, satisfactory life that allows me to fulfill the measure of my creation. And my creation is full of stuff to give!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Between Here and There: Navigating in No Man's Land

I have been doing some reading and researching to find/define my truth to be more clear about which set of moral codes and existential compass I want to follow to make better sense of life and the universe. This journey has taken me to conclude that all religious institutions are man-made. But I see the need for humans to create institutions for a collective sense of purpose and meaning. I admit that a lot of good comes out of religion and I personally have benefited from being Mormon. But the perks of being Mormon notwithstanding, I have stopped going to Church.

I think the only time I have ever enjoyed going to Church was when I was a missionary a decade ago. And the only reason I enjoyed it then was because I could sit for 3 hours straight without having to plan, teach, knock on doors, or feel guilty for not being a good enough missionary. The only aspect of Church that I enjoyed before and after my mission was a social one. I went to Church to see my friends when I had them. When I didn't, I would go out of habit, obligation and/or the fear of judgement if I didn't go. But I saw how futile my efforts were. I was there only in body. I always checked out mentally as soon as I sat down in Sacrament Meeting.

I stopped going to Church for many reasons. I questioned the truthfulness of the Church. I always had a problem with the Church claiming sole proprietorship of Truth. (This church is the one and only true Church on the face of the earth!) I lost my testimony of the Book of Mormon, Restoration, and Joseph Smith. I didn't feel spiritually fed or nourished in Church meetings. I was annoyed by the teachings in the Church that just regurgitated the simple-minded rhetoric of keep-the-commandments-and-you-will-be-blessed-and-will-prosper-and-be-happy without regarding the complexities and paradox of life's events. I never cared about hearing the testimonies of others about food storage, what they did over the weekend, how much someone loved somebody in fast and testimony meetings. But I cared about how mind-numbingly boring all the meetings were. Eventually, Church ceased to be meaningful to me.

Curiously, or perhaps not so curiously, I am still emotionally attached to the Mormon Church and being a Mormon. I was born and raised in the Church. Even though I was inactive for many years in my youth, Mormonism was my first religious language that articulated my metaphysical cosmos. It gave me a God that I relied on when life got sad and painful. It told me there was hope when misery abounded. It taught me how to pray. It taught me to be kind. It became my culture, my family's culture. It became my identity.

So, even though I left the Church physically and intellectually, I still have a soft spot for Mormonism. And if I find a good ward, I might even return but on my own terms: without a testimony of the Restoration but with respect for an institution that promotes good things.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In Search for Truth...

I have always been fascinated by the universe and how it operates. I think about Truth and what that might look like if I ever got a glimpse of it. I also try to fathom the eternal scheme of things from the perspective of an omniscient being. The imagination is, of course, based on perhaps the arrogant premise that my mind could conceive something so grandiose as omniscience. But my "omniscience" is tamed by a dose of compassion and grace for those who see Truth differently--after all, knowing everything perfectly would incite the most proper emotions for those who disagree. Whether people are defending their own truths, their pride, or identity, they feel fully justified in asserting their beliefs and opinions as the right ones. Perhaps, I am not so arrogant in asserting this imagined omniscience. Maybe we all operate within our own cosmos of omniscience however hallucinatory it is.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. What is true and what is not? And how does my construction of the cosmos affect the belief system I adhere to? How does this affect my integrity and happiness? I have been grappling with these thoughts a lot. I may have something more insightful to say in a couple of weeks or so after some more thinking and reading. Life is a never-ending enigma...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How I am going to get rich and famous

It is always with guilt that I make my come-back after a long, unannounced hiatus. I do this with my journal, too, even though no one is reading the entries except me. With whopping 16 people following my blog (I am not being sarcastic. I really appreciate my followers. Without you, this blog would be voiceless), you can imagine the magnified guilt. But I am sure you weren't losing sleep over my unannounced absence except for maybe guitarsophist. (Maybe we should be Facebook friends so you know I am alive.) 

Anyway, some of you know from my Facebook status that I left Seattle for good. My life in Seattle was stressful, enlightening, educational, fun, and eye-opening. First of all, the study of ethnomusicology is really cool. (For those of you who are just tuning in my life, I enrolled in the ethnomusicology graduate program at University of Washington with the intent of getting a Ph.D.) I learned a lot and if you are interested in world music and academia sandwiched in one, I highly recommend you look into it. However, I decided to leave the program because I realized I wasn't on the path to living the life of my dreams. When I imagine my dream life, I am on stage performing. I am not reading and writing and trying get published. This realization was spurred on by meeting a hot musician who was living the life of his dreams performing all over the world. And I was like, why am I not doing that? It hit me like a ton of bricks. (Also, I was inspired by a graffiti scribbled on a bathroom door that said, "I aimed for the moon and returned with a pocket full of stars" or something like that.) So, a couple of weeks later I told the head of the department that I was leaving the program to pursue a performing career. She was surprised but gave me her blessing and said I could come back to the program if I so desired in the future. I said thanks, packed my bags and left.

So, how am I going to go about having a performing career, you may wonder especially if you are one of my hundreds of musician friends. Well, I wondered that, too. But I have been brainstorming for about three weeks now and here is what I have. The music I am going to make will be a fusion of pop, classical, and Korean traditional music. Still not sure what market segment I want to target but I decided to let that take care of itself by exposing it on the Internet. So, here is the plan: Write a song fusing all those elements, find musicians to collaborate with, make a recording and a music video. Enlist the help of my friends on Facebook (and that would be you, my dears) to make it go viral online. Link the music video to the Kickstarter fundraiser and raise enough money for a whole album and a concert. My goal is to have the music video circulate and go viral online by the end of the year. Which means it has to be good. Really good. And I am confident that it's going to be good. :)

I also have another project that some of you know about. It's an opera about the story of my grandmother told from my perspective as a Korean-American that I've been wanting to write for a long time. I found a composer and a historian/ethnomusicologist to collaborate with. I also have a conceptual artist in mind who might be interested in doing multi-media stage work. So, I will be doing a lot of research and interviewing my family members over the summer to write the libretto for this work. I am really excited about it. There is a lot that needs to be done for this project like finding funding but if the work is good, we may be able to get the Korean government behind it.

The sad tale of a starving artist is that even with all these grand plans, I still need to have a day job. So, I am planning on applying to community colleges to teach piano, voice, and/or music history and start a piano/voice studio.

So, that's the plan. And I am really excited about it!


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