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Winter Update

Just an update in case anyone reads this. Winter break has not been a break really at all. I have been working at KCPT as a graphic designer since the week after school got out. It's been a great learning experience so far and I enjoy the tasks that I am given for the most part. I've been able to illustrate a lot for them which is exciting for me because one of my goals for the break (before I decided to work and take a class) was to improve my illustration skill. I enjoy drawing with black ink because you can't make mistakes and if you do, you improvise. It's a tiny little adrenaline rush.

I am also taking a winter intercession class pertaining to Asian animation. It's intensely condensed, but I'm doing really well so far. I got 100 percent on my last test lol. It's been really eye-opening as I knew nothing about the topic beforehand. I grew up in a rural area where anime wasn't cool. It seems that the generation right after me has more of an affinity for it, they were more exposed I think to anime in general. I think it also has to do with the internet.

Speaking of the internet, I've been thinking a lot about my generation and how culture has shifted because of social media and going from a life that was not dependent on the internet to living in a world that relies greatly on the power of the instant connection. I was born in 1987 which wasn't that long ago but so much has happened. I had Windows 95 and my first exposure to any kind of social media was AIM and Xanga. It took five to ten minutes to connect to the internet via dial up and if I hear that series of tones, it gives me a happy, warm feeling. haha It had really just begun and was not a prominent thing in peoples' lives. When I didn't know an answer to something, my first thought was not to search the internet. Google didn't exist until 1998. iTunes came about in 2001 but I never had anything Apple. I got my first cell phone in high school and it was a Nokia brick. Before that there were "mobile phones" that people used in cars with this big goofy velcro case and awkward spiral cord and I thought that was CRAZY. Texting was something you got your ass ripped for by your mom because it cost like 10 cents a text or more and there were no plans that accommodated it. The only option was SMS and getting a text was like Christmas morning. The thought of being instantly connected to people in general was really exciting for my generation because it was new and we were old enough to know what it was like before it, but young enough to fully embrace it. It was the SAME feeling of getting a letter in the mailbox that you've been waiting two weeks for from your best friend who lives 5 miles away (lol), but instantaneous. My first year of college at KCAI was in 2005 and Facebook had just been launched in 2004. You had to have a college email address to sign up and people used groups to find out what was due in class if you were sick that day or where the party was. There were no parents or people under 18 basically on Facebook. This turned into a really long evaluation and I could go on, but you get the point. Things are different and it's uncomfortable for me sometimes. I don't think I'm the only one who dislikes social media but respects it at the same time. But I feel almost ashamed for saying so because our culture is so dependent on it now.

When my children's children learn about the beginning of the new millennium, there will be a significant cultural shift to observe and understand. Our generation has not been through any kind of trauma even close to WWII and the effects it had the world, but we have endured some things that have changed us in ways that we may not recognize yet. For instance, 9/11 occurred when I was a freshman in high school. I was sitting in class when my teacher turned the television on in art class and we watched the second tower get hit on live tv, and subsequently we watched as they both crumbled to the ground. Everyone was crying in fact, I'm tearing up as I write this. Something changed that day. I had friends that were seniors that immediately signed up to go to war and were sent to Afghanistan. Some had just signed up, expecting to get a college education and discipline out of the experience and nothing more. People were angry and sad, it effected everyone. The way that war bleeds into society is illusive and toxic. My class about Asian animation has helped me to recognize this in other countries like Japan. The damage done by the atomic bombs was immeasurable and was never emotionally dealt with by the Japanese. Anime and kyata, the kawaii culture, provides a way to deal with history and the emotional scars that have lasted generations. My experience and that of my generation can't compare to this, but I can recognize a different kind of change within American culture after 9/11 and the boom of social media. It's difficult to recognize your own values and opinions in a culture that is so easily offended and persuaded. I think it's important to reconnect with yourself and the physical world around you.

Anyway, that was much longer than I had intended it to be, but I'm not sorry. I hope it's not misunderstood that I do recognize there is a cultural shift in nearly every generation with unique experiences, it's just that this is the one that I experienced and I believe there is something significantly different with my generation and the new millennium that needs to be observed and understood so that we can continue on in the right manner.

I've been really busy this winter, but I've been able to do a lot of free thinking and introspection which helps me keep my mind healthy. It is important in this world full of alternate realities to be mindful and assess your growth and situation. Sometimes I am concerned that I won't be able to continue on so I have to reset and rest my mind even when I can't rest my body. I have had an eye injury since July that won't heal and it was discovered that I most likely have lupus, which I had already suspected because of my health history and other Dr's opinions in the past but hadn't really had time to think about since I started school. I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when I was about 12 and have had other debilitating periods of illness as well, so lupus makes sense. To accompany my scleritis, I have a discoid like rash on my hand and arm that doesn't respond to medication and comes and goes with the ebb and flow of my immune system. I don't have health insurance and am not eligible for any kind, believe me I've tried, so I just keep working because I'm afraid I'll get sick and won't be able to anymore. I'm terrified of losing my momentum and falling short but I think I'm a really strong person and I'm sure I'll get through this. I have an 18 hour credit semester staring me in the face and it's worrisome to me. I made the President's list last semester with 15 credits, so I'm sure I can do this. With the commute, work, and two kids, I really have a lot to do but loving what I'm doing sure helps.

If you read all of this, thank you. I hope my words find you well and that you have a mindful and peaceful winter break. I'll leave you with a music video that I completed for someone that asked me on Youtube. It's very abstract, I really enjoyed working with the Macro lens again and experimenting with materials and colors that aesthetically represented the song.

Kristen Ashton2 Comments