Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Downtown Denver

Every day, I walk downtown to work. It's a nice little walk. I like the view of the buildings and the sky. The morning is usually peaceful and quiet, especially if I can take it upon myself to get up and get to work early. From our last apartment, I had a 45-minute walk to work. My current walking commute from our apartment in Capitol Hill takes only 20 minutes. It's a nice change to have a shorter commute. I work more hours now, though, so it doesn't feel like I am saving any time (although having a full-time job is great and much appreciated).

Sometimes on the weekends Brian and I walk downtown to the movie theater. We try to use his car as little as possible--especially if we're going to be back after 4 or 6 pm. It's hard to find parking in Cap Hill after that time. It's nice being able to walk, though. The last movie we went to see was "Black Panther". We tried seeing "Lady Bird", but our seats were really close to the screen and we had to leave. They did warn us, but we thought they wouldn't be as close as they were. Those were the closest movie seats I've ever seen! We would have been tilting our necks all the way back the entire time. I still need to rent "Lady Bird" when it comes out.

Downtown Denver starts just after the Capitol Building and morphs into Lower Downtown (LoDo) somewhere along the way. It is not my favorite place in Denver, and it's not the first neighborhood I would recommend to see if you are visiting, but I do like going there from time to time. There are some cool old buildings amidst the taller office buildings, and there are a few decent restaurants peppered throughout the neighborhood. It looks a bit grungy during the day, but the lights on the trees give it a little sparkle at night.

Sometimes while walking through 16th Street Mall, we get a little flustered by the hustle and bustle, but then again sometimes I want to be part of the noise and the crowd. The Denver Art Museum is near downtown and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is in LoDo. I love going to Union Station in LoDo from time to time to enjoy the architecture of the building and the open seating area where you can sit and enjoy a sandwich or coffee from one of the surrounding cafes. There are couches, armchairs, and a shuffleboard table. If you're in Denver for a layover, getting to downtown from the airport is easy on the A Train. Then you can take the free shuttle from Union Station all along 16th Street Mall.

We like living in the middle of the city, for now. It's fun to have restaurants and bars at our fingertips. The noise of traffic and exhaust fumes coming in our window is not so fun. We're hoping to move to a smaller town soon. I imagine being surrounded by trees and waking up to hear birds chirping in the morning. I imagine having a four-season porch and taking my coffee out to my wicker chair to sit in the mornings with Kiki on her special porch dog bed. These dreams are nice, and they're taking over my thoughts more and more these days, but we will have to wait and see for that. For now, we take advantage of where we're living and enjoy our time at the local eateries and drinkeries.

What's your favorite kind of place to live? Are you living there now, or are you dreaming about it like me?

Seoul Sadness

Last night as I was falling asleep, I dreamt about Seoul and felt that heartbreaking feeling of loss that haunted me for my first year back in the United States. This morning, Brian was looking at his old neighborhood on Google Maps and I decided to find mine. I found the place I moved to in a suburb of Seoul 11 years ago. I "walked" the streets of my first neighborhood in Korea. I found the corner store I used to stop at on my way to work for a coffee in one of those little plastic cups with the lid and straw that you punch through the foil. The owners were so nice and friendly. When I first went to the store, they said something to me in Korean and I repeated it back to them. I thought that it meant 'hello', and I was proud of myself for learning my first word in Korean. It was only a few days or weeks later that I learned that it meant 'welcome'.

As I looked at the street view, it all came back to me. I found the bridge over the road where I dropped a bag of groceries when I was sick. I found the park with the man-made lake where I used to walk around and around while listening to music on my headphones. My favorite part was the lily garden, even though it would be swarming with mosquitoes in the summertime. It was a little scary, but incredibly beautiful, to walk through the park during an intense summer storm with a lot of lightning--one of the first that I experienced. I have so many fond memories there that for a minute, I just wanted to go back. I just wanted to walk all of the streets I'd walked before one more time. I wanted to be there, in Korea, sitting outside of a convenience store drinking coffee or other beverages with my friends. I wanted to be on the subway watching the landscape slide smoothly by on my way into Seoul on a Saturday. I wanted to be in my favorite cafes, just to know that they were real and I had really been there before.

I haven't felt this way for a long time, but a dream or a picture can bring it back. A little part of my heart is broken by being far away from the place that I called home for 7 years. I look back and have my regrets, things I should have done differently, things I didn't do. I want to live it one more time, slowly, just to take it all in breathe by breathe. But I know I won't be doing that, and I know that I might not even visit. I do hope that I can visit someday, though. I would have to go for two or three weeks to give me time to visit the first city I lived in and all of the places that hold memories for me in Seoul. I would want to take at least one trip to the mountains and one trip to the beach. If only some of my friends from Seoul could visit at the same time. That would be an amazing trip.

Missing home in Korea wasn't the same as missing Korea at home. When I lived in Korea, I always knew that I would move home eventually. I knew that even if I ended up living abroad forever, I would at least visit home as often as I could. But with Korea, I don't know if I will ever walk those streets again.

How are all of you doing with living abroad or moving home again after living abroad? Has anyone else experienced these feelings?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A YouTube Drawing Lesson

This morning I watched a documentary on Louise Bourgeois presented by Tracey Emin. I am always inspired to make art after seeing art by someone I admire. When we got back from the dog park, I sat down with this drawing lesson and tried my hand at sketching. I would like to build a regular sketching practice in order to improve my drawing skills, but also for my own enjoyment and relaxation.

When I sketch, I sometimes hold my breath and get anxious as I am trying to get my hand to move a certain way. My stomach knots up and my hand becomes tense. I would like to teach myself how to draw without the anxiety and tenseness. Art can be a form of meditation for me, but not if it is tying my stomach in knots to do a simple sketch.This is why I plan to also make breathing exercises and yoga a part of my life routine, in hopes that it will seep into my everyday actions and help me to do even simple tasks with focus and clarity. I will keep drawing spheres until I am able to breathe and draw at the same time. After just a little bit of practice, my sphere and my breathing are already getting better.

'How to Draw Ep. #01' is a very good place to start for someone who wants to get back to the basics and relearn drawing skills after not drawing for a long time, or for someone who has never sketched at all. I took a drawing class in college over ten years ago and I need to brush up on my basic drawing skills. In the past five years, I've been making mostly line drawings. I enjoy these drawings, but I reached a point where I couldn't do anything else and now I would like to expand my abilities. In this drawing lesson, I like how he presents his lesson and doesn't give you too much information all at once. It's easy to watch this video and get started immediately. I also appreciate that he lays out the tools that you will need and gives you information about them. Part of learning any skill is understanding the tools that are required and how to use them.

If I chose to dedicate more time right now to learning how to draw, I would take a class from Skillshare. For now, I will keep sketching here and there when I feel like making time.
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