Drawing in Columbus Park again after visiting the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA). I’ve been before, but man that place is brutal. I had to wash out the bitterness afterwards with some iced coffee and sponge cake from a nearby magical sponge cake closet that I found last summer.
As an addendum to my last post, here’s a literal wall of text in MOCA detailing why it’s traditionally not very easy to assimilate into American culture, ie. nearly 200 years of systemic, targeted racism against Chinese in America. An abridged version is available on the MOCA site.
Yesterday, I got a haircut. I think being a barber in Brooklyn is more like a lifestyle than an actual occupation. Like, this was the first place I’ve ever been to where I could drink something while getting my hair cut. It was the first thing that popped up on Google maps, and I was getting desperate.
Anyway, my barber and I made a little bit of small talk about how I had just moved up, and eventually we talked about how I needed to get to Delaware next month for a wedding. He recommended the Chinatown bus that runs to Philadelphia at break neck speeds for $10. His caveats were that it was kind of janky, might possibly be mafia-owned, and that there were usually lots of older Chinese on board.
He went on to complain about how they’re loud, they don’t have any concept of personal space, and none of them speak English because they all live in Chinatown and “have no need to assimilate.” And I was sitting there drinking my stupid drink while he was clipping away and I thought, screw you dude, you’re a 6 foot tall bearded white guy whose only concept of “assimilation” was moving from Ohio to Williamsburg. Whose main issue with moving was adjusting to not having a yard. What could you possibly know about anything?
The haircut was OK. As he was holding up a mirror to let me see the back of my head, he told me that adjusting to New York might take a little bit, but that in the process I’ll learn a lot about myself.
He got that part right.
Scrambling to get my drawing chops up before school starts.
This might be the stupidest thing anyone has ever said about New York, but here it is: there are so, so many people here.
For the most part, everyone ignores everyone else.
Sometimes, they completely deny your existence as a human being. It had been years since anyone spat a racial slur at me (and I’m from the South), but it only took New York 5 days.
Sometimes, they completely affirm your reason for being here. Today on the train, I was drawing and had my headphones on. I started packing things up as the train pulled to the stop, and the girl next to me gently laid her hand on my shoulder and said that it was a really good. I said thanks, and then we both got off but took different exits up.
On a late night L, a guy who had just gotten off of work asked about the brush pen I was using and we traded recommendations. As I got off at my stop he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Never stop drawing.”
I accidentally dropped a knife in the lake.
Columbus Park with my friend Anna and future classmate Liam O’Donnell. Also, burlesque figure drawing at the Society of Illustrators with my buddy Gant Powell.