2017 Doodle Letter - from Linda

Linda’s 2017 Doodle Letter, Part I

(Hi! Where are you?)

 

  That curvy thing at the bottom right is a question mark ... I got a bit carried away with cropping^

That curvy thing at the bottom right is a question mark ... I got a bit carried away with cropping^

January 18, 2017

Dear Friend,  

It’s been a while since we last met (or perhaps it’s been no time at all). I’m typing this to you from downtown Durham, 6:02pm. The office is quiet and a little chilly tonight. I’ll likely type – and then delete – a few sentences more before getting back to work. 

Work tonight means Skype-interviewing a young candidate for the Duke TIP China Program. I imagine myself, at 14, on the other end of that call. Don’t be nervous, my interviewer might say to me, this is a chance for us to have a conversation. Tell me what you’re excited about! What are you doing now, and what are you looking forward to?  

My imagined conversation blurs, and then refocuses on a scene in reverse: Hey! 14-year-old-Linda asks a soon-to-be-27-year-old-me. Where are you now (and where have we been?). Have we figured stuff out yet? Where are we going now? 

…(and do we still do art?)

I snap back to the present, rolling these questions over my tongue… and the rest of this letter will be framed as a letter to that 14-year-old-Linda… But first! 

Where are you now, friends?

Where have you been? 

What are you looking forward to? 

I would really like to know… if you’d be willing to share:-) Take a moment to pause here and ping me back – I look forward to hearing from you!

-       Linda


Linda’s 2017 Doodle Letter, Part II

(To you, and to her 14-year-old-self)

January 20, 2017

Dear Linda at 14, 

 

Greetings from a  (newly minted) 27 year old you! As you can see, we still have a soft spot for the over-use of parentheticals. (We also still have a penchant for editorializing our own writing…) 

In answer your questions from above:

   PANEL 1:      Me on the Durham Bull, Duke Chapel miniaturized      PANEL 2:      Celebrating my birthday! Henri may have left this world, but she still makes a lot of guest appearances in this other world of mine    PANEL 3:      A Nerdfighter Panda. More about this later!

PANEL 1: Me on the Durham Bull, Duke Chapel miniaturized PANEL 2: Celebrating my birthday! Henri may have left this world, but she still makes a lot of guest appearances in this other world of mine PANEL 3: A Nerdfighter Panda. More about this later!

Q: Where I am nowA: Durham, North Carolina

Specifically, I’m sitting on a squishy couch in Cocoa Cinnamon, drinking a MATI and trying to stay awake and finish this letter. We’ve matured a lot, and you are now a full-fledged adult. However, yesterday we stayed up until 4am binge-watching a Korean Drama... so define “adulthood” as you will. 

Q: Where have we been (last year) A: See the map below!

26 was a year full of places and spaces and of laughter and tears for us. Not sure how to answer this question with words, so I drew you a road-map/board-game instead:

Here’s the full map:

I’d initially intended to walk you through each and every experience recorded above (lettered, A-Z). I’d even connected them with color-coded pathways: 

YELLOW – EXPERIENCES

ROSE - LOVE

BLUE - CAREER

VIOLET – WRITING, ART… AND SCHOOL?

…but then I changed my mind. The drawing above contains a series of snapshots – lovingly created and frozen in time. They represent $3 dinners and board game nights; relationship anniversaries and questions about the future. I want to share all of these snapshots with you – yet I don’t know where to begin. I feel like a toddler with an armful of toys, tottering towards show-and-tell circle. Memories in hues of blues and gold trail behind me as I go. A gust of wind ruffles my hair, and rose tinted scenes flutter and float away into the sky…

So tonight, it is my purple memories that stay behind. And these three I choose to share with you: 

1. 2016 is a year where we loved and lost a pet (H, L, N)

2. 2016 is also the year when our drawings began to move (F, J)

3. And lastly, in 2016, we decided to go back school! (I, J, K, M).

Memory 1 – Henrietta the Hedgehog

The last two months of this year was busy: and full of joy and sadness. My little prickly companion (Henrietta) passed away when I was in China – on election night. Losing a pet is hard, and I miss her very much. I share this memory with you because it taught me two things. Yes, there is so much out there to grieve for, on scales big and small. In the 'grand scheme of things', my hedgehog dying wasn’t the worst thing in the world… but that wasn’t the point. My sadness was real and the pain was pure. And that pain also reminded me that others in my community, my world, also have their own sources of grief and sadness - big or small. While there’s no easy solution for that pain, support, kindness and love given so freely by friends and family helped me heal. The listening, the “hey. I’m here”, the small gestures are everything. That was true for me. I think it’s true for us all.

 

Memory 2: Panda Cub Story time, Stop-motion

Panda-Cub Story time continues! At the beginning of 2015, I created my first bilingual (Mandarin and English) video letter for the kids at Panda Cub Academy. In 2016, I created my first stop-motion animation, in my retelling of 西遊記 or Journey to the West. Next, I’m planning on adding a pod-cast component to the re-telling (inspired by the 3Kingdoms Podcast, a retelling of Romance of the Three Kingdoms!)… so more about that in my next letter?!

Memory 3: Grad School, Education & Children’s Lit

I decided to head back to school this year! And a piece of exciting news: I got my first grad-school acceptance! The Critical Approaches to Children’s LiteratureMasters at Cambridge is one of my top choice programs, so it’s looking very likely that we’ll be heading to the UK for at least a year, this coming fall

This decision to go back to school came at the end (or rather in the midst) of a storm of recurring questions: Why do we hate? Why do we hurt each other, and how can we stop? These are questions we grapple with, still, as a society.There is so much darkness in our world, much of it stemming from a fear that grows in the absence of comprehension and appreciation for those we learn to see as ‘other.’

Yet there is so much potential beauty in this world too – a beauty that grows out of shared experiences. I believe that there is incredible potential in a generation of children who grow up nourished by stories of diversity, influenced by examples of compassion, and encouraged to empathize and act… so much potential in the world that they will shape. 

I want to learn more about the social and cognitive effects multilingual children’s books and films have on our early development – the role they play in shaping our worldviews, in shaping the type of people we later become. What role does “children’s literature” play in the adult world? 

Oh!

I also illustrated my statement of purpose for Grad School, which was a pretty fun experience, as fun as writing statements of purposes can be, anyway. 

So, I believe that brings me to your last question: 

Q: Are we still doing art?  A: Yes. 

Yes.

Yes we certainly are.  

 

Sincerely,

Linda, at age 27.


Post-Script

(A drawing project borne out of #$@&%*!?!

January 22, 2017

I wasn’t sure where to place this section, and I suppose placing this at the end of this letter stems from my un-confrontational nature. But here goes: this past year has been a time of great change and upheaval, both on the personal, national, and international front (or perhaps things have always been this way, but we are talking about it more now). 

I feel helpless and frustrated: looking at a breakdown in communication, automatic distrust, violence, and fear that seems to surround us. 

My boyfriend and I recently started watching this show, Braindead.  It’s fairly ridiculous, gross, funny… and thought provoking as good satire always is. The show’s premise is this: brain-eating alien bugs have infiltrated Capitol Hill and are gnawing away at the brains of politicians and regular folk alike. The result is extreme bipartisanship, a violent split between “one-wayers” and “no-wayers”. All this, of course, is part of a dastardly alien plan: keep the humans fighting themselves, so they can’t defend themselves from what is coming – hahaha… wait. 

Looking back at myself, I guess I’d call myself an "in-betweener". On bad days, this means someone who is confused about her identity, unable to choose between paths, uncertain about who to believe and what to support. On good days, this means that I hold multiple identities and see through multiple eyes; that in thinking about 'what path to choose', I also think about how to 'weave different paths into one'. That questioning my own assumptions is not the antithesis to believing and defending my beliefs. That persuasion can only happen if I am also open to being persuaded.  

So yes. I feel frustrated and helpless. But I am also heartened by the people who surround me, who are seeking to do better, be better. Learn to put words into actions, and stitch individual actions into movements. 

I’m not sure what the form of this next project will be

 But I think I’ll call it  

“DIALOGUES”

 Something to help me delve into

issues that divide

us into a hated “them” or infallible “us

It’ll contain cartoons

Which could be stupid, or could be cool…

Perhaps a little bit of both

So. Now that I’ve told you

The next step is to do it.

Until then, please read one of the best pieces of writing that I’ve read on this topic this year (written by my friend Laura Casteel). Link below!   

 Declaring Independence 

http://considerablesetbacksblog.blogspot.com/2017/01/declaring-independence.html

2015 going on 2016 (Resolution Musings)

Dear friends, 

Greetings from the (last few hours of) 2015. It's been a while since my last doodle letter - and sitting down to write/draw this one made me realize that I have actually made inroads on developing my visual-textual story telling style. Still working on it, but I think it safe to say I'm finding my voice. 

By using less words:) 

Still, I begin by a bit of musing:

 Why make New Year Resolutions? I had two conversations on this topic this month (Dec), What with January 2016 drawing ever closer, this question has been on my mind.   Is there any  real  difference between DEC 31st and JAN 1st?   Why wait for the beginning of a New Year to make positive changes to my life?   Who  actually  sticks to their resolutions anyway? 

Why make New Year Resolutions? I had two conversations on this topic this month (Dec), What with January 2016 drawing ever closer, this question has been on my mind. 

Is there any real difference between DEC 31st and JAN 1st? 

Why wait for the beginning of a New Year to make positive changes to my life? 

Who actually sticks to their resolutions anyway? 

 Did I even stick to my own 'resolutions'? This was the plan for 2015: projects, plans, listed neat. Bullet points, A to E.   Instead, this is what  actually  happened:

Did I even stick to my own 'resolutions'? This was the plan for 2015: projects, plans, listed neat. Bullet points, A to E. 

Instead, this is what actually happened:

 [Instead], I went from  Point A  to (an unplanned)  Point T  - circled back to  Point B ... only to find upon completion that the result actually resembled another previously unplanned  "Project P" .   I didn't get to everything I wanted to do this past year (e.g. launch that kickstarter, 'perfect' the manuscript of my book, identify an education research topic I'd like to pursue...).     and that's alright.      Resolutions. Aspirations. These are my sketches:  when I paint or draw, what I end up with isn't always what I'd intended. Ye these intentions, these rough drafts, they are seeds.

[Instead], I went from Point A to (an unplanned) Point T - circled back to Point B... only to find upon completion that the result actually resembled another previously unplanned "Project P"

I didn't get to everything I wanted to do this past year (e.g. launch that kickstarter, 'perfect' the manuscript of my book, identify an education research topic I'd like to pursue...). 

and that's alright. 

Resolutions. Aspirations. These are my sketches: when I paint or draw, what I end up with isn't always what I'd intended. Ye these intentions, these rough drafts, they are seeds.

***

While I can’t predict the future, I know that I’m well pleased with my present. And I also know that I present has been shaped — not only by my past actions — but the support, the guidance, the love of others. Of you.

The seeds you (and I) have planted in my life, seeds that have been tended to with care, have flowered into a past year that has been truly beautiful. 

So, thank you all for 2015. (Or come to think of it, thank you for the past 25 years - but 25 years is a bit too much for me to recap, let alone inflict upon you to read, so a review of this past year it is!).  It's been a truly wonderful year:  

Looking back, I: 

  • Moved (back) to Durham!  
  • ...and almost immediately went to China - 
  • - because I'd started working at Duke TIP as the China programs coordinator. 
  • discovered that my colleagues are awesome. And passionate. and talented both in and outside of work. 
  • helped launch/build out the pilot Duke TIP in China Summer Studies Program (details). 
  • Read and/or listened a ton of books. 2015 was a year of fiction binge
  • Made a scary-real-looking brain cake. Muahaha! 
  • Couldn't find country dancing in Durham, but found blues dancing instead! 
  • Met someone I like-like while getting groceries:)
  • ^AND I was actually purchasing real/fresh produce because behold. This was the year I actually started cooking real(ish) meals! 
  • Found a writing group who encourages me to keep working at my story. Not only because they inspire me with their talent...but also because when I sign up to read, I actually have to produce something... instead of being afraid of writer's block. 
  • Stumbled upon a group that meets over coffee to do art. Just because. <3
  • adopted a 60 year old piano
  • Have found myself housemates with some pretty awesome people and two equally awesome pups
  • caught up with Duke friends, new and old. 
  • visited with FACES friends, new and old! 
  • Visited family (in both China and Georgia). 
  • practiced mindfulness and meditation sporadically - but have met a group here who's really helping me be better about it. 

 

Looking forward? 

While I (still) can’t predict the future, I know also know that there are things in myself, in my community, in my world, that I would like to change. And I believe these changes can be shaped (in whatever small capacity) by the choices I make and things I do in the present. This life of mine is still a work in progress: 

We are all each weaving our --  and each others -- lives. Our lives are artworks. They aren’t perfect. They’re messy. They’re beautiful. They're unbearable. They are all of these things, and more. In making art, we try, we play, we ‘mess up’, and then we build upon our mistakes. 

My resolution, my aspirations, my sketchpad for chapter 2016 is this: to live in kindness (towards myself and others), to act intentionally, and to remember to see the vibrant colors and beauty that surround me always. I resolve to be the kind of a friend, partner, family that I am very grateful to have. I aspire to live the kind of life that'll lead to a future I'd like to see.

So, co-authors (illustrators, weavers... gosh I should pick a metaphor), here's to 2016! 

Happy New Year! 

Love from,

Linda


Panda Cub Storytime: #2 Xiyouji No.1. The Stone Monkey

Panda Cub story time is back!

Today, I launch into a big storytelling venture: a bilingual retelling of the Chinese classic: Journey to the West (西游记). In this episode, the Stone Monkey is born (skip to 1:43 for the beginning of the story):


Journey to the West was my favorite story growing up. Indeed, it was my constant companion, and teacher. Before my family moved to the US, an aunt had gifted me with a box set of "Xin Bian Xiyouji" cassette tapes (New Journey to the West). 

The 4 year old (and then 5, 6 ... 12...) me listened to these tapes obsessively. On loop. These stories, narrated by the talented Donghao, left an indelible love for both storytelling and Chinese culture on me. 


I attribute my strong connection and desire to learn more about my Chinese heritage to these stories. So! I wanted to do my part to continue to share these stories with you, Panda Cubs and beyond!

I hope you like them! 

Love from,
Linda laoshi. 

***
Sources consulted in making this bilingual version: 
Xinbian Xi You Ji (New Journey to the West - audio books by Dong Hao

西游记 吴承恩 original text. 文化艺术出版社 
Journey to the West - translation by Anthony C. Yu

****
More stuff! 
my instagram: http://instagram.com/yilindastories/

 

 

Panda Cub Storytime #1: Why Cat is missing from the Chinese Zodiac | 12 生肖里为什么没有猫

 

The first 2 minutes of the video = letter to my former students.  Skip directly to storytime here (2:16)!

Why Cat is missing from the Chinese Zodiac

12 生肖里为什么没有猫

As told by 易Linda for the Panda Cubs


COMMENTARY:

This is my first ever video letter to the Panda Cubs!
***
To the students and teachers at Panda Cub Academy, hope this video letter finds all of you well (and hopefully you've dug your way out of all that snow!).

Hope you like this story - this was one of my favorites growing up and explained (in part) to the 2 year old me why our neighborhood cat was so grumpy...

Feedback requested:

I told this story bilingually with the English and Chinese interwoven. What do you think of the style? (It does make the physical telling of the story twice as long). Would you like it better if I told the story twice, once in Chinese and once in English? I'm still exploring the storytelling format.

Apologies for the un-ideal video and sound quality. Some things I'm working to change, but this isn't my area of artistic forte. Learning as I go, so to speak:)

Love from,
Linda laoshi.

2014 Panda Cub & Crossroads (Reflection)

2014 Panda Cub & Crossroads (Reflection)

10) PANDA CUB
December 23rd - my shadowing period with Panda Cub Academy came to an end. I'd been invited back to teach full time at the school, and to develop the art and music curriculum for the panda cubs. I was elated. That day
[...]

11) CROSSROADS
While in the twilight hours of 2014 one road opened, the dawning rays of 2015 opened another door: a job with Duke's Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP). An opportunity to travel, but more importantly, a chance to be on a diverse and talented team, traveling between two countries that raised me, and a chance to build programming with for students - like the type I worked with while with Hua Dan - who first inspired