Writing

handsSometimes I don’t really know what to write, and then I think oh, you shouldn’t write for the sake of writing, you should write because–because you’re trying to write something. Because you’re trying to convey something. Because there’s a story you have to tell, a thought to flesh out, a destination to get to. You’re driving your point home.

But I don’t always have a point or a story or destination. And then I remember how I used to squirrel away hours just stabbing down words, stringing together sentences, writing whatever I wanted just because. Because it was fun and it made me happy and I didn’t really care if people read it or loved it or hated it. It was like rubbing on unscented lotion. It’s therapeutic, no one really knows you’re wearing it, and it’s something you do for yourself. You’re not trying to leave behind little scent fragments of yourself. You’re just doin’ you.

And I like how writing’s an avenue to sort things out. It’s like talking through a problem, but writing through ideas instead. I’ll start off with a nebulous idea of what I’m going for, or something I’m trying to get out and by the end of, oh, five or ten pages, I’ll have come to some conclusion. That, or at least have reached greater clarity on something than I would’ve if I hadn’t written it at all. Thinking is thinking: chaotic and constant. Feeling is feeling: sometimes uncontrollable and inexplicable and discomforting. Writing’s sorting through that. If my head were a tree raining varied thought-leaves, then writing’s my little rake.

Advertisements

Jiangyin, China

img_2464img_2491

Jiang Yin is beautiful (and for a million reasons).

There is a certain gritty you-do-your-own-thing feel to the streets of China. They’re usually crowded–the markets always are. People push and shove; after a while, you get used to it. Babies roam. Strays don’t give a shit. They trot and they stumble and play by the people, who pay them no notice.

Cigarette smoke lingers in the air: at home, in the streets, in the markets. There’s a “NO SMOKING” tacked on the entrance of the “grocery market” (if you’d call it that—it’s more like a giant meat cafeteria) but the butchers smoke anyways. I watch as the butcher chops our meat, takes a drag, picks up the RMB another smoker slaps down. I peer at the smoke wisps. Then I dodge them.

img_2772img_5097img_5102

The past week has mostly been spent with le fam. Over the weekend, my cousin returned from a neighboring province where he’s been working. Grandma says I’m prettier and that my skin resembles Putin’s (Thanks, G-Ma). My Chinese listening skills have improved and I can better understand Ma, Uncle and Grandma rattling on in their dialect. I take to sitting and quietly absorbing their conversations.

During the weekdays, when time seems to go by slower, I wander around the neighborhood. I photograph strangers. I take it all in. China feels like home. And then I wonder: can you fall in love with “home” over and over and over again? I think you can and I do every time.

img_2758

Oxymoron

figure

 

 

Things I might be certain of:

We’re swimming in norms no one person decided. Maybe the sky is blue. This may or may not be a dream. I like writing incoherent text posts at one in the morning. I deeply suspect that a part of me secretly enjoys–thrives on–the stress of procrastinating and the last-minute headaches of: oh God, oh God, I have an essay due tomorrow and I’ve no idea what the prompt is; I didn’t pay attention any of the times my professor touched upon the paper so now I have to ask around for the prompt and I really should have done this sooner.

Oh. I did fine on the last paper, the one I wrote the afternoon before. The fictionalized one. I don’t write fiction, I haven’t written fiction, not since it got squashed out of me in HS. But when I was eight I liked writing fiction, fiction about girls with blonde and blue hair (all those Mary Kate and Ashley books getting to my head) I never wrote about aliens or dystopias but I guess I’ve been thinking about that a lot (all this data mining getting to my head) so I wrote a paper about it. My TA said he’d have liked me to elaborate more on the story, which I don’t think was even included… Was there a story? Mostly it was like an excruciatingly drawn-out description. I did this my first semester, too. I came up with some drawn-out fictionalized character reading from a book I hadn’t read and then–then what? I did fine.

This is a cycle. I procrastinate, do fine, grow lax in my ability to churn out last-minute papers, then get headaches the day before. I think it’s part laziness, part perfectionism, part I-just-want-to-do-it-because-I-can. I mean, I don’t know.

I keep wishing it’s Christmas. Yesterday I went downtown. Twice, actually. First to wander around the city, second to celebrate my roommate’s birthday. On the car drive back we passed by bars and clubs and concert-cafes and it was so odd catching glimpses into people’s lives–like the city equivalent of peering into brightly-lit homes in suburbia. To see some of the things/hear some of the sounds/feel some of the vibes these other people are experiencing, it’s like witnessing something that isn’t yours to witness or feeling nostalgic for lives you have not lived. God, it’s so unnerving, so mundane at the same time. I can’t explain it. Something to do with seeing. Living, if just for a moment, vicariously through so many people you might never see again. Maybe it’s like the concept of scopophilia we learned about in my queer politics class, just the sheer pleasure of looking, of seeing. Maybe.

Also, ah. Like the happy drunk who cries oh I love you, you know that, right? Totally. I feel exhausted-quiet-grateful for the people who’ve been in my life for years. Raises glass. No, but really. I think sometimes I have the tendency to drift like driftwood, tumble like tumbleweed, forget incessantly to respond and get back to people. (By sometimes I mean always) People come and go. So do roses, foxes, and Little Princes. But in the past few years, a handful haven’t left. And so today, I’m going to be grateful for that. Yes, yes, this is my puddle of gratitude.

Scattered Thoughts | Journal

My heart is swelling and I feel so warm–

But maybe it’s the noodle soup I just made. I added some canton noodles in boiling water, added leftover beef, hastily washed some bok choy and threw it all in. I had a small packet of seasoning and added that, then fried an egg to top it off. It all sounds complicated but it really wasn’t, it was slipshod and angry, delicious and warm. Yum.

Last night I was up blogging and WordPress wiped it all clean. Thanks, WordPress. The tiredness coupled with irritation led me to bed. What had been on my mind?…

Ah. I’d written about our celebration at the tower revolving restaurant, where the sun set beside our waygu beef and wine. God, that was a good night. The weather warmed graciously and I wore my dark blue off the shoulder dress, huggy, but not too much so, and nude flats. Le beau wore a blazer and button down and jeans and brown shoes and a man behind us wore the exact same thing. We settled into our table. Our waiter had flair.

We ordered expensive food that came out in painfully small portions. The flavor exploded constantly, evolved, weirdly tantalizing. And we chatted, which I filmed on time lapse, and I peered at his hair and his eyes.

After two hours he ushered us outside for a show–a football game on TV, I assumed. Then he whipped out tickets to the orchestra, which I’d always wanted to go to, but never had. It was a little yelly, because the comedy troupe just yelled, but the entire experience was wonderful. And everyone around us wore suits and dresses, so it all felt very fancy and upscale.

I’ve now returned to life as it is, with homemade noodle soup and sleepy texts on the couch. Journal entries are all I can seem to muster up nowadays, but it’s alright, I s’pose. I am happy is all.

A Letter “On Kindness”

onkindness.jpg

Do you remember the time you were at Chipotle and you saw the lady with four children in tow and after ordering the food, four bowls total, she realized she didn’t have any money? And so you paid it for her?

And that was your kindness.

Obviously kindness, clearly kindness, without-a-doubt-kindness. As I read the poem by Aracelis Girmay titled “On Kindness”, I wondered about subtle forms of it, like when it isn’t just a hug or a peck or buying someone’s burrito bowls, but is, instead, your telling a wailing women you love her because she is yelling I want to kill myself I want to kill myself.

That love—that’s kindness too.

There are other forms of it that Aracelis Girmay writes about in her poem. The mail lady who says “hi baby” to you, and to the girl beside you, and to her cousin, and to her cousin’s best friend. The window that filters in light on a heady Sunday morning, reminding you have made it another day you’re alive you’re alive. The dog that comes panting up to you, looking overjoyed to see you, you, you—and that is kindness, too.

With Eyes Like Butterflies

img_5649

December  10th, 2013 // 12:50:00 pm

On the car ride home I detected, from the smoky poof of our deep conversation, wispy strands of respect in your eyes.

I really like people who have kind eyes. People with kind eyes are compassionate, and compassionate people have kind eyes. And kind people are beautiful and nice to talk to, and you can see it in their eyes. -trails off into a tune due to wordy redundancy-

But people can have normal eyes. People can have snarky eyes. People can have flat eyes that hover between life and lifelessness. And people can have sly eyes or suspicious eyes or cold, hard and dull eyes.

As my art teacher once cried: “Eyes are the window to the soul. Serendipity!”

I thought it was spelled “Sarahn Dipity” and wheeled around. “Who’s that?”

Sometimes I’ll miss people for their eyes. Whenever I have little moments of peering into people’s eyes, I’ll take a small creepy note of the types of eyes they have: far set, close-set, deep-creased, light-creased, blue or black or green or tan. Search for clues of their soul window decor. Like curtains of kindness or meanness or tiredness, or sadness.

Those with kind eyes are the ones who emanate the wisps of respect. Those with unkind eyes are the ones who pretend nothing ever happened.


Perused through my old Tumblr and found this old post from 2013. I remembered the exact moment I marinated in these thoughts. Again with the winding roads and a heart full of resentment.

But less than three years later, puedo decir con confianza: all hail the force of forgiveness. They will sweep through your heart’s city and burn down houses of bitterness. For the better, ‘course, and I’m glad they did.

 

2018

Yesterday I sat quietly, contemplating the year, hard, when boyfriend asked what was wrong. Oh, nothing, just thinking of what I’d done in 2018…

The whole thing flew by, a quick blur of monthly chunks. Early winter was a time of its own; I remember posts I’d written then, sleepovers I’d had and conversations I’d written. The wildly crowded club, the quiet best friend’s home, the football win and celebratory wings. I took lots of pictures and drew a lot for the newspaper, holed up in my warm room.

And then I graduated from my dream school! I’d dreamt of going there since I was 14, this summery bright Ivy League, though I’d visited on a rare bright spring day when everyone had their couches out. Turns out it was much colder there. Despite the weather, graduating in the cold and rain was still a bit of a dreamless dream.

Spring brings summer brings warmth brings life. Fiddling flowers on the walk to starbucks. Switching into pink tank tops and white flip flops. In lecture I felt my heart swell. I had an life epiphany of what I’d like to do for the rest of it–my life, I mean. And the whole turning around to face my deepest passion, psychology, that whole spiel. And now it’s a small engine propelling me forwards.

In 2018 spent a good amount of time with people I love–friends and family. We stayed up talking, on the verge of tears, hearts bursting. Back home, welcome home, like things had never changed. Shared meals, watched shows, skipped through the rain. Roadtrips, Netflix cuddles, six flags rides, sing song bonding. I look back, and am grateful for these relationships.

Blazing mid summer, spinning fall. I taught, which I’ve always loved to do, and watched some students wildly succeed. It makes me happy to be around good people, and to help people do well, and to have all-around healthy relationships. I also did a bit of relationship pruning here and there, but nothing dramatic. I remember learning in psychology that older people are often happier, particularly within their social circles. With age, they learn to simply avoid people who cause them grief.

Weirdly warm winter. Despite my aversion to traveling, I skipped to six cities. California was the most recent, but alas, I am still too lazy to write about it. And today is the New Year, but the day itself was special to me. Last night I partook in their steak dinner tradition and clinked cups at midnight, eyes weary. Today, we went to see beautiful lights and decor and a freezing ice sculpture show. At home, we wrapped dumplings to r&b and sicko mode, my very-abc way of welcoming 2019.

So 2018 was a year of academic finishes, life epiphanies, moments spent with people I love. It was a year I began pursue my deepest passion, a year to do things I’ve always enjoyed (teach!). I look forward to 2019, and hope it has good things in store.

right now | journal

  • Feeling peaceful in life, feeling mellow.
  • In the midst of the holidays, I melt in lights and tear-strewn repeats.
  • Spent a bit of time in California, basked in the wildly good weather. Looming palm trees and winding roads. Garlic butter pasta by Santa Monica pier.
  • A Christmas Eve decked with hot pot and sweet sauce and elaborate light decor.
  • There was heavy traffic today by the mall, impossibly heavy, but a light shone on a (godly) empty spot. Frigid outsides warm insides.
  • I drew at the Apple store, drew and chatted with strangers, drew and added the Apple tech.
  • (Phone promptly died afterwards. The irony)
  • Boyfriend and I watched Mean Girls tonight after grabbing thai for dinner.
  • Earlier today, I went ice skating at another mall, and taught her how to push-glide. Push glide, push glide. We looked for checkered skirts.
  • This morning I made creamy hot Thai tea, which I’d been craving. The bags I got were relatively weak, so I just brew them two at a time.
  • Tomorrow I’ll make Vietnamese iced coffee.
  • Right now, at midnight, I sip marshmallow root tea and nibble on Japanese green tea mochi.