Almost the New Year!

I know it’s already 2013, but I never quite feel like it’s the New Year until the Lunar one. I’m going to blame it on being Chinese, but secretly I know it’s because I always need a month or so to really let the New Year sink in. So it goes.

Anyway, as I already presented to my Facebook friends, I found my illustration pieces up at City College. I basically just walked up to class the first week, and there they were! Seeing your own artwork is a bit like hearing your own voice on a recording, or seeing yourself on video. It’s WEIRD. There’s a sense of pride of course, but it’s abstracted, and you mainly feel a little naked because what seems SO familiar to you is just sitting out there, plainly. It’s a strange feeling, really. Anyway, here they are, stacked up against so many other pieces I really admired from the advanced class:

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(Which pieces are mine? Top left, “Alice in Wonderland,” Right toward the bottom: “Hybrid Creature,” and Bottom Right: Moriana, Imaginary World.” You can see them all in my http://cindyshih.posterous.com/ blog. It’s weird to think that a few years ago, I would have never taken an illustration class because I thought I was a terrible illustrator. I also felt that way about watercolor, which is now one of my favorite mediums. In any case, I’m proud of myself for joining the advanced ranks in the class show as a beginner student. Also, I had 3 pieces out of 17 pieces in the show! Go me! Ha. These are the little wins you can have as an artist, that you have to remember for the 99% of the time when you think you’re terrible and unworthy of being called an artist.

Another new development while I ramp up to lunar year, 2013 was my decision to go on a plant-based diet. Now, this one came as a complete surprise to even me. I’ve always shunned the idea of vegetarianism. They always seemed so angry, so cultish, so snobby– at least the ones who did it for their own personal reasons. Vegans were even worse. They were all of the above, plus they hated fun.

But then, as I was sitting in class one day, it just hit me. I knew pigs were every bit as intelligent, affectionate, and adorable as my dog, and in another world we’d be in absolute outrage over the slaughter over pigs as we are of the neglect and abuse of puppies. As cliche as it sounds, I absolutely consider Barley as my friend and a member of my family. Knowing how animals are handled and treated in current food production system, could I really justify my support?

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Here’s a picture that my cousin Henry Lien posted, that might have put me over the edge. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand our place in the food chain, the need and desire to eat animals as part of a healthy ecosystem, but I also understand that our current food production infrastructure is really– to put in mild terms, gloriously fucked up. Think of all the environmental, health, and moral conflicts we have, just so we can get some grease in the pan. Meat is great and all, but maybe not worth it. I decided to give this vegetarian thing a try.

Here’s the first thing I discovered: I feel amazing. Right away. I’m not kidding, I felt like my body was begging for me to make this decision. I have more energy, feel a lot more alert. I didn’t even drink coffee yesterday, and then I went on a huge hike. That *never* happens. It’s almost been a week, and it really isn’t that hard. I mainly just have to have some trail mix around, some fresh fruits and veggies to make myself a quick snack. Which is awesome anyway. I get these fresh oranges from my CSA box every week (it’s orange season), and they’re fucking fantastic. I’m lucky that SF offers some great produce options, and Carlos and I always love brainstorming what to make for dinner– so that hasn’t changed. When I go out, I just order the thing that doesn’t have meat in it. Maybe it’s being in SF, but those options are generally pretty damn good.

On weekends, when I’m out with friends, I’ll eat seafood or birds. But this weekend, I didn’t even have the desire to. I was feeling so great that I didn’t want to ruin it. And I really do feel pretty damn good, and my clothes are already fitting better too. Frankly, I’m shocked that I’d even consider doing this, but my body seems to be saying, “DUH, why haven’t you done this sooner?” If you ever had an inclination to try it, I offer you this: give it a shot for a week. I’ll share some recipes with you. We can start a support group. Also, why the hell not?

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