Category Archives: journal

Check-in

Is it weird to interview myself? Here’s my cheat for a quick blog post. It’s been a while, and of course I write posts when I am busy and should be studying and working on other things.

How’s the weather? It was almost 70 degrees when I woke up and worked it’s way down to the 40s with a sprinkling of snow by the evening!

What are you enjoying? The tulips! Thinking about the future, daydreaming about someone, thinking about cities and the different feelings they give me. The photos in this has me thinking about New York and Europe in the late summer/fall: https://oakandbone.wordpress.com/2018/02/25/last-minute/

What do you hate? How it’s not Friday yet. Time is definitely about perception and it’s been moving fast as I get more busy.

What are you doing well? Managing time, emotions, and risks. Before our performance and writing class today a friend said, “I can’t believe I’m doing this… in front of other people.” In some ways I can’t either, but it’s become normal, and as our confidence builds, safe. I feel like I’ve been generating a lot of writing as well.

Not so well? Slowing down, being present in my body, feeling grateful and peaceful. This is a good reminder to try harder as the semester wraps up.

What do you want to say? I’m excited about the future as much as I am craving time to slow down and reflect on myself and my work. What is happening? I need time to process the good news to work from there. On that note, I have good news to share, but need to disseminate it thoughtfully. Keep an eye out!

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Filed under journal, non-fiction, Uncategorized, writing/writers

What I am learning

1.

TENABLE. IMMUTABLE. INDEXICAL. PHENOMENOLOGICAL.

How often I want to visit social media. And the call to be a “voice,” or something.

I see your phenomenological. I raise you EPIPHENOMENOLOGICAL.

How to decide what is worth your time, energy, and money.

How to use the phrase “ephemeral archive” as much as possible.

Trust yourself. Trust yourself. Trust yourself. There is nothing left.

How fraught these spaces—and really all spaces—are with our personal and professional expectations and desires. And the underlying social, cultural, historical, raced, classed, gendered expectations for behavior.

And the ensuing silence.

 

2.

Direct from the horse’s mouth, or bastardizations of what poetry professors have said–

-Make collages.

-Some people write with music, but I need to write with words around me. I find words.

-Then using a number system, I went through and killed poems.

-I would ask my dates, “Are you happy with your job?”

-Cut this word out.

-Image cul-de-sac.

-This voice feels authentic.

(This last one bothers me.)

 

3.

By showing up, I inherently pressure the Institution.

Better get used to it.

 

4.

I realize my life is rather “boring,” that most of the time I am looking for ways to spend time somewhere writing or with people talking about writing or listening to people read or perform writing. That when I look around Boulder, there is not much I feel drawn to do. (Mostly, one has the choice of school, the mountains, shopping. Boulder in three words.)

I think the secret now is to embrace this. How much more time can I reserve for writing– without becoming a complete recluse?

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Filed under education, essays, journal, non-fiction, writing/writers

Update: Write. Right? Right!

Hola mi gente. It’s been a minute, and I have news and reflections to share. First off, I’m going to graduate school! *Insert celebration here.* Not much to say about it except that it’s been a long time coming. As I turn 30 this year, there is nothing greater I could have done for myself except this radical act of self-acceptance.

Second piece of news– I wrote almost everyday in April for National Poetry Month. It was amazing how much came out of me. I didn’t like all of it, but much of it I did like. It even became overwhelming at some points to edit and transfer my writing onto the computer because there was so much to do. The good news is that I am writing, and it’s not stopping. The bad news is that I will probably always be playing catch-up with journals that need to be typed, poems that need to be edited, and collections of writing that want finalizing.

Third– I am committing myself to finishing a poetry collection in July before I leave the Bay Area for school. It will give me something to focus on this summer– as if preparing for an interstate move wasn’t enough to fill my time. It will also mean closing out a period of writing between my chapbook in 2012 and now. Just like graduate school, it is time, and I have more than enough material to shape.

So about this… I have at least two books worth of poems, at least. I also know that some poems are not worth publishing– whatever that means. How does one make peace with this? Decide that some part of you is worth more than another. What do you think? There is the organized and anxious part of me that wants to make sure nothing falls through the cracks and that I have consciously decided every word and not “lose” anything. Impossible. I suppose selecting poems is an exercise in humility, an acceptance that some things are not shaped in a way that is ready to share with the world. Or it’s an act of marketing, selecting the things one knows will sell or connect with readers? Or this agony is a part of art-making, the process in which one crafts a unit and deems it beautiful?

Either way, I am happy to have gleaned clarity and acceptance that I have been writing about two central subjects. I write about home, family, and being Vietnamese. I write about love and sex– think Sandra Cisneros’s Loose Woman. (I guess that’s five subject, oh well.) All of this, I imbue with ethnicity, race, gender, politics– obviously, memory, the body, place. 

It makes me envision what else I want to write. There are so many stories about Vietnamese or Vietnamese Americans connecting to a sense of two homelands and– of course– the Viet Nam War. I see this even more clearly now with Viet Thanh Nguyen’s books. I see the value in the topic, and I have read and will continue reading these writings. But where are the stories about second or even third generation Vietnamese Americans? What if the duality of two cultures no longer exists or at least isn’t felt consciously? I want to change our place in relation to immigration, not because the connection isn’t there, but because some of us are heavily “American.” And this means our language, our culture, the people are diverse. Where is the hip-hop in our stories, the activists marching with Bayan, the girls dating Mexicans? (Quick side note, I’ve been thinking too about Asian American “protest literature.” I don’t know what that looks like or if it already exists. Some may not consider it art, but it’ll be important to envision, both for writing it and escaping it.)

Okay, wrapping up. I am grateful to be where I am. I am excited. I am nervous too. At the end of the day, I am writing, and I am thinking about writing, all the time. I mark that as a win. It makes sense that entering an MFA program has allowed myself to claim my writer/creative identity even further (even if I held my breath last night when a friend introduced me as a writer). I am entering graduate school with a sense of what I write, what I want to write/read, and a deepened connection to writing. Awesome, right?

 

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Filed under asian americans, education, journal, non-fiction, writing/writers

Poetic offerings

 

"...
you just turned eleven
i don't know what the years coming look like
soon you enter a storm
i see the rumblings on you
black child in Los Angeles
endangered species
i would call all my people to stand
n make a circle around you
until you grown
i would carry you
if you behaved
but all i can do
is give you these words
soft as the morning when no one else notice



this is to tell you i see you..."

from "Aye Nay," by Ruth Forman

 

I see you. How powerful are those words? I wish heard them growing up. I wish I knew my people made a circle around me. I wish I was given these words, “soft as the morning.”

There is a lot of fear and pain in the world today as well as this year, building upon previous centuries of it so it should be no surprise to us now. In thinking and feeling my way around what it means to be alive and principled during these times, I return to writing. And though I haven’t written many blog posts this year and few poems this week, I am working on a more long-term endeavor to dedicate time and resources to writing. As I envision the intertwining of writing and creativity in my future and feel uncertainty and excitement, I know for sure that writing (and therefore reading) has always helped me heal. Has always helped me see others. Has broken me apart to reveal our core. A core which is so shaken, so bruised. I hope we all stay in a place of softness in a time of such strident, common needs. I will share a few more poem excerpts that keep me tender and teary-eyed.

 

"Do you understand the song you've sent walking through my 
catacombs of marrow? Black parasol notes hum, dirge of the 
removed lung. I now know the promise of a body scooped 
hollow, tea lights in the the torso's cave. You've come 
inside from another country and I have so much to give."

From "Beheaded Kingdom" (part iii.), by Saeed Jones

 

"...it is the sense
that something that was alive
for a very long time
is still alive.  Not yet beaten into
submission
or oblivion
by those who kill everything
they touch
with money."

from "Loving Oakland," by Alice Walker

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Filed under biblio-file, inspiration, journal, love, Uncategorized, writing/writers

Book Line-up Winter 2015-16

Here is what I’ve been reading at the end of 2015:

Finish poetry books not yet finish:

7) The Fact of a Doorframe by Adrienne Rich

15) How to be Drawn by Terrance Hayes

21) Home Course in Religion by Gary Soto

 

Finish or start these novels/collections:

22) Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie

23) Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat

26) Son by Lois Lowry

27) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

28) Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

 

How I hope to start 2016:

1) Playing in the dark by Toni Morrison

2) Renaissance by Ruth Forman

3) Revolutionary Petunias by Alice Walker

4) My House by Nikki Giovanni

5) My father was a Toltec by Ana Castillo

6) How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

7) Bloodchild by Octavia Butler

I’m happy to end 2015 with hopefully 28 books under my belt. I do have to say that it is increasingly hard for me to focus my mind on reading because of the growth of tech in my life. I’m not against technology, per se. However, it is good to be aware of its impact on my focus.

I will be traveling to Mexico with Harper Lee’s books tucked in my backpack, hoping I will finish both amidst exploring and relaxing. And as 2016 rolls around, I have a lot of poetry on my list. As always, am wondering about the Asian American voices I should also find to read. I am also slowly mulling over Feminist Without Borders like it is medicine. It has been years since I started this academic, non-fiction book, so it doesn’t belong on any one list.

On this new moon I also set intentions on sending out my poetry collection in February, a grad school application timeline, and a commitment to use public/shared modes of transportation. The new moon was a week after someone hit my parked car. It was celestial timing, I suppose. It feels right.

What are you reading? How are you reflecting and ending or beginning this winter?

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Book Line-up Winter 2015

In hopes for writing more on this blog and to answer a few friends’ questions about what I’m reading, I thought I’d write!

Currently, I’m still working on James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son. Yes, I know it was on my 2014 list, but I’m not done with it. I tend to be slower on non-fiction, especially if the writing style is dated a generation back. Speaking of non-fiction, I’m practically done with The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk. If you are interested in the ways our brains and bodies are linked in trauma, read this! He’s an expert in PTSD and provides unexpected critique about the current state of psychiatry and the diagnostic system they use. Well-written (except for a few copy-editing mistakes)!

The next non-fiction book is Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks. If I’m honest, this will take me until June since I’ll be reading other material.

Namely, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. What Poets Are Like by Gary Soto has been on my list for awhile. I went all crazy and will be picking up Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood from the bookstore soon. That’s a collection of three novels. All the sci-fi books are ones (Bradbury, Le Guin, and Butler) I bought or ordered today. Partly I got those books out of frustration at the fact that Suki Kim’s more recent memoir about being in North Korea still hasn’t arrive yet. I’m mad it’s not here, mad that local bookstores don’t have it, so mad I have an unsupported theory that the anti-Asian government is trying to slow it from being shipped, and did I mention I’m mad about The Interview. In my mind, it’s all connected. (On another note, I’m also frustrated, because I’m not excited to read it after all this work to get it in my hands. It was a book club pick, and I’m not playing well with others.)

So onwards. In hopes on using the public library more, I plan on borrowing Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea, and anything by Sherman Alexie. I may want to have my own copies of some Alexie’s writing though. So we’ll see.

I’m very excited if you couldn’t tell by this world of words. This wraps up this bibliophile’s biblio-file. 😉 Happy reading!

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staying still

I want to begin thinking about staying still.  How will I make internal changes if I am moving and working as a distraction?  How will I make external changes if I am not grounded in a community?  In today’s world, everyone is looking for a home.  We are alienated in so many ways by social and historical forces.  I guess I am still looking too, but I am also deciding to build it.  I can only do this by staying.  Even if I have not experienced it.  Even if it is hard.  I want to start building.

– from my journal, 10/21/12

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