Two Dimensional Satchel

A two-dimensional satchel to express what can only be understood by iterating in another voice.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the phrase “journaling” when I first heard it. Somehow to have such a serious practice of writing in my journal rendered into jargon felt insulting. My parents made me write in a diary as a child just to get into the practice of writing at all, and I think I prefer saying writing to journaling but anyway. That may be me just taking myself too seriously. I don’t want to be perceived as taking myself too seriously.

A friend from Orange County visited me in New York in 2003 or 4, and we hung out with some of my friends who lived in Brooklyn, who at the time were really into “birding” and told us about a recent expedition in Prospect Park. When my friend said she wasn’t sure she understood what birding was and asked if it was the same as birdwatching, one Brooklynite sucked his teeth and said condescendingly: no. Not long after that, my friend excused herself quietly and retreated to my room. After the others left, I found her crying. She was so embarrassed about being checked for “birding” and we spent the rest of the night decrying stuck up New Yorkers who took themselves too seriously.

Part of me worries I am the Brooklynite who scoffs over language meant to describe all of us. I’ve learned that words are powerful.

I struggle regularly with words. Not with sentences or syntax, diction or grammar, but specifically with words. I talk frequently in editing calls about looking at writing at the level of the letter. Is this word too big? Is it too small? Does it convey what I mean to convey? What’s it mean?

The dimensionality of a word does not make itself apparent until you utter it. At a book reading once, I read only the sound effects of an entire comic book I’d translated. And to answer a question I’ve been asked so many times: the hardest thing to translate is, in fact, a sound effect.

So many words don’t make sense until you hear them read, when you realize you’ve known them all along. Gauge. Chaos.

I made a two-dimensional satchel to represent some feelings. A kinchaku (巾着) to be precise. I decided to make it with glue instead of a mechanical seam. I pressed it with the full force of my feelings, and as steam from the iron rose to indicate the sublimation of the glue into the fabric, I was content with the flatness of the final product because it would require you using it, filling it with space and ephemera, chaos, to see its dimensionality. The rope meant to tie the bag is designed never to cinch the closure, as if I cannot afford more than the satchel’s two dimensions.