Cameos: Hao Nguyen, Hanan Sharifa, and Esther Gray
Have you ever wanted something and then told yourself, no, now is not the right time to go for it? Sometimes we’re afraid of our desires becoming reality, however counter-intuitive that may seem. You may never be able to expel that fear completely, but by dedicating time and energy to caring for yourself, you become more prepared to deal with the unexpected and stay truer to yourself. Our cameos this month reflect on highs and lows, and why they sometimes ditch the feeling of preparedness to just do the damn thing. Going through it is the only way to know.
What’s currently your favorite bop?
There’s this k-pop girl group called LOONA. Although they haven’t debuted, each member has been releasing their own singles and I’ve been going nuts over “New” by Yves. I’m a huge sucker for moody, 80s synths.
What’s your favorite TV show of all time?
I don’t make the rules, but X-Men was and still is my #1. Video games have taken over my life recently, so I haven’t been watching anything else.
What keeps you going in your day-to-day?
Gummy bears, ketchup chips, and meeting other creatives on Instagram.
Is there something you recently accomplished or overcame that you’re proud of?
I had my first group show with other artists. I never felt ready, and made excuses for a number of years. It helped me gain the confidence to continue making images.
What did you most recently splurge on?
A lot of things from the local dollar store.
What have you been giving a lot of attention to recently?
My own photos. I started out doing test shoots for new faces in fashion, so it’s been an adjustment from conventional beauty standards of retouching to keeping flaws and insecurities intact because they are beautiful.
Where on the world wide web can you be found?
My Instagram is @hanansharifa, my artist website is cargocollective.com/hanansharifa, and the collective I’m in called y2k is on Instagram and Cargo Collective as well.
What books have you been reading recently?
I started reading Women Who Run With The Wolves by author and poet Clarissa Pinkola Estés. I’ve also been in the throes of reading Art And Cruelty by Maggie Nelson and Between Feminism and Islam: Human Rights and Sharia Law in Morocco.
What do you let yourself indulge in?
I love to get a maple-frosted donut with coconut flakes and buying a scratcher or two at Golden Gate Donuts in Oakland.
What have you been craving recently?
I’ve been craving summer time. I miss swimming at the beach with my inflatable pool, longer days, and generally feeling more motivated. It’s been starting to feel more like summer in Oakland recently, which has helped lunge me out of my seasonal depression.
What was the last meaningful trip you took?
The last meaningful trip I took was when I went to Morocco last August to bury my grandmother. She was very dear to me and it was truly a heartbreaking, beautifully tragic trip. I was only there for a week, and during my time there I was able to go to a natural hot spring in the Atlas Mountains not far from her grave. I was able to feel my deep sadness, her never ending smile.
Favorite live performance?
My all time favorite performance was seeing FKA Twigs play at Paisley Park back in 2014 when Prince was still alive. It was a very intimate performance, there were about 200 people there. Prince ended up performing after Twigs and she danced on stage with him. It was life changing. I ended up meeting Prince that night, he said Hi but I was unable to even speak, or if I did say something it was unintelligible. It was embarrassing but I’m not sure if it could have been any other way. He’s one of my icons.
What motivates you?
My friends and my community are main driving forces in motivating me creatively but also with helping me navigate the world. I’m always inspired by those around me to continue making, and I feel supported as an artist because of them. I love you endlessly friends, you know who you are!
Are there any people or projects that you think the world needs to know about?
My friend Olivia Krause, who took my photo above, is a painter/photographer and is also a member of the y2k collective. My friend Star Amerasu is a brilliant singer and performer destined for greatness. My friend Violet, whose shirt I’m wearing in my photo, is a DJ, clothing designer, model, and overall genius.
What’re your social media handles?
On Instagram you can find me @holdthespell.
Any songs that’ve been living in your head lately?
The song “Paloma Negra” by Chavela Vargas
has been stuck in my head recently. I play it almost daily when I get home from work and sing and dance around the kitchen with my dog. As far as the song that gets me hella hyped Rihanna’s “Sex With Me” never fails.
What books have you been reading?
I have a stack next to my bed of books I’m working my way through. I’ve been on a McCarthy kick for the past year and a half, reading The Border Trilogy, Blood Meridian, and Suttree. They satisfy my yearning for the West, for horses, bleak and haunting landscapes, love, and loss. I’ve been waiting for a dear friend to finish With My Head in the Clouds and Stars in My Eyes by Joobin Bekrad so that I can dive in.
What do you let yourself indulge in?
Baths every night. Listening to the same song on repeat. Sleeping as late as I want on my days off. ASMR videos to help me sleep. Memes.
Any good advice you recently took?
I regularly go see Liz Gunn for astrological readings and good mom advice. Something Liz told me before going on a big trip and adventure last year was to remember the importance of remaining open to serendipity. And that is something I try my best to keep present in my mind: to remain open, to be fluid, to hold on less tight, and to leave room for mystery. I am a Cancer sun, Leo ascendant, and Pisces moon – a hella watery baby. I’ve convinced myself I’ll never fall in love with someone who isn’t a water sign.
Any skincare/beauty/health routines?
I’m obsessed with anything Super Salve Co. makes. I use their green clay mask mixed with apple cider vinegar weekly and their mimosa blossom dream cream as a daily moisturizer. I also spray my face with rose water right after showering or anytime I need a mood boost. I do my best to support myself with plant medicine and energetic work as often as I can. I go to acupuncture every other week and take some Chinese herbal supplements. Recently I’ve been taking a tincture of Saint John’s Wort that I made this summer here in the mountains. It helps me with the winter blues, like liquid sunshine.
Do you have any rituals?
I usually pull a tarot card every morning and try to write down my dreams and any feelings that are swirling around. I make a point of taking a special bath on new and full moons. For the past year or so my friend Beau (@snakemusk) has been tattooing me on the full and sometimes on the new moons. They are an incredible hand-poke tattoo artist and musician. That ritual has been especially cathartic and connective for me. I use candles and plants and herbs regularly as a practice of caring for myself, for aiding in intention setting and release rituals.
Any people or projects you want to hype?
Hex is a project I’ve been a part of organizing for the past year. It is a dance party benefit that we throw here in Asheville every other month to raise money and awareness for local organizations. So far we’ve raised nearly $15,000 for different organizations ranging from a rape crisis center, two different immigration support centers, a queer and trans prisoner abolitionist organization, and a harm reduction based group that offers needle exchange services. Beyond raising money for important organizations who have been negatively impacted by the current administration, it has also provided a platform for queer, femme, and poc folks to perform, dance, and connect in a space that strives to hold them up and keep them safe.
Another wildly talented and inspiring person I’ve been excited to keep up with is artist, DJ, performer, clothing designer, and badass Honey! She can be found on Instagram @ohhnohoney or through her clothing brand @differentwrld. Also the amazing and talented artist Marissa Zarrabzadeh. Her work haunts me – you can check it out on Instagram @mzarrabzadeh.