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!
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
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
by those who kill everything
from "Loving Oakland," by Alice Walker
I’ll be away for a few months for various reasons that for now I’ll choose not to dive into. It’ll be a useful time–as Ricardo Bracho said tonight–to not fall into the catharsis of reading your writing (or in this case publishing online). [By the way, check out this guy’s work!] It’s important to go and edit, to revise. It’s important to go nurture the stories, the sentences. See y’all in the fall. ❤
nothing will be the same. you will sit at your kitchen table. you will be remembering what has passed. you will feel shock that it has been a long year since you last saw someone. it feels so far away. distant in the landscape of your life. you will remember with regret the time you let go of a friendship. what about that time… you count and work at re-calling the 1, 2, 3 years since you’ve really talked to her. and what about him? there were the times you could imagine fleeing the country for him, riding the unknown future of your twenties to land in a lover’s arms. you notice the cycle of men and women you’ve let in. maybe you will frown, or grin, or chuckle at how they’ve punctuated your life. there are stories that provide solid periods. some are short exclamations. others offer calm pauses, a comma leading to more. you realize as these relationships have come and gone that when things change, nothing remains the same.
as distant as they are, as changing as they have become, one day– if you are lucky– you will be eighty and still flipping through your rolodex of memories. you will be thinking, they are so full, i cannot keep track of them. nothing has remained the same. if you are lucky.
Do you know how beautiful you are?
How beautiful do you know you are?
Do you think you are?
What mirrors measured the allegiance
Between your face and everything housed behind it
Do you ever look at your fingers and see
Everything that has written itself into their roughness?
(from “10 Things to Ask a Stranger” by Safia Elhillo. Full poem here.)
Not at all.
How would I know my beauty without said allegiance?
How would I know my fingers without your touch?
The way you squeeze them between your thumb and index finger. Roll them to feel where the muscles meet each other to form joints called knuckles. Its roughness would know no meaning without tenderness.
How would I know how beautiful without a face to look into?
You are the mirror that reflects back the beauty, the depth, the meaning.
Can one feel one’s life shifting rapidly? That one is on a path to better understanding oneself, building community, and resisting history?
I am working on a personal essay about this past week, about being Vietnamese American, about beginning to bust through barriers built around me.
It has become necessary for me to recognize that there are others like me; that Asian/Vietnamese/American radicals fight; that my work, politics, and being are not contradictory to my history, to the ancestors’ blood running deep in me. I’ve begun to understand that the contradictions of the Vietnamese-American community has held me back from further investigating our heroes, politics, and community. I am peeling back the veil and my heart jumps at what I am starting to see.
If you’ve been invited to this blog, I would dare to say that we have some level of mutual commitment to each other’s life, love, and growth. So hello again, buddy.
Earlier posts below were written during my semester abroad in the Dominican Republic. I want to deliver in this blog’s continuation some documentation of my personal development, which hopefully advances rather than dragging in circles– but no guarantees here. I am not promising perfection. This is still a personal blog at the end of the day. I am striving to be honest and thoughtful while expecting that some people will be turned-off by my personal, political, academic statements. And sometimes I will be arrogant, poorly-worded, and/or just plain wrong. I hope you stay tuned.
A note on the title. At first I chose a title that seemed to place politics at the forefront of the blog, though that was not the main purpose of my writing. In this current title, “Flo” is both the mispronunciation of name and my chosen “Starbucks” name (the name I give to baristas and delis). “Funk” also can be interpreted in multiple manners- style, music, stench. All of those are relevant. “Funk” also funktions (hehe) in relation to the social theorist Cornel West’s lexicon:
“This funk is neither a skill nor an idea, not a worldview or a stance. Rather, it is an existential capacity to get in tough with forms of kinetic orality and affective physicality acquired by deep entrenchment in– or achived by pretheoretical styles owing to socialization in– the patterns of Afro-American ways of life and struggle.”
West’s idea of Afro-American life speaks to the courage to struggle in the face of hate; the courage to face the truth; the courage to both laugh and cry. As an Asian American, I work in solidarity with blacks and other people of color… And strive for some funk.