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.
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Writing Challenge

Day 1: Things We Carry

The lint in our pockets and the grievances in our hearts (you have not forgiven) where Jung’s collective unconscious comfortably resides. We haul around our: keys, wallets, purses, shoes, bags, judgment, beliefs, luggage, wounds, clouds, assumptions, dreams, hopes, backpacks, jackets–

The things we carry

Fear, mostly.

 

Day 2: An Open Door

4AM: the only source of bleak light that tentatively floods this room

5 AM: is bleary and blurred and obscure (“I didn’t know”) some rectangular glowing patch I stare and stare and stare at

6 AM: and when the sun rises ray by ray the light pours in and illuminates the open door (my head is too heavy to fall) (“It’s okay”)

 

Day 3: Faces In The Street

that you look at but do not see

litter the empty spaces in your dreams

 

Day 4: Mirror

there’s one on the living wall of the first house we bought when I was small enough to cartwheel across

I peer over

my hair is short. my collar bones jut out. camera slung over one arm, book clutched in the other hand, posture bordering on “poor” so I straighten my back

as I stare out the car window later I feel frozen empty shrunken in time

 

Day 6: The Aftermath

I never let you see anything, except maybe an organ or two.

Like: this bloody fleshy thing, with all its pipes and nerves. With all the cars stocked to the brim, with baggage clogging it up perpetually. And on this street were trash-cans set aflame in a dreamt-up city where everything was burning down and I was running away (Ophelia drowned, the Little Prince ran away. The drunken man drank to forget, to forget he was ashamed, to forget he was ashamed of his drinking)–

And this was the aftermath.

 

Day 7: Very Loud

few things as deafening as

your silence filling the spaces

Day 8: Shoes

He’s posing in shoes that don’t quite fit. Her hair is neon and she’s been off running since. Grief is running in shoes that are too big; identity’s trying on countless glass slippers to see if they’re it. But don’t worry—we’re young and we’re twenty and we still have time–

 

Day 9: Nothing

2AM I feel oddly consumed and obsessed with absolutely nothing

 

Day 10: Anywhere

I don’t know what I’m chasing after

and I don’t know what I’m escaping from but

I’m starting to think that it isn’t anywhere in this world.

 

Day 11: Stars

We pointed our fingers towards the sky. Amid all the light pollution in Manhattan, New York you could still see the stars.

I counted thirty two.

On a burst on spontaneity we’d bussed to NYC for shits and giggles. By then it was nighttime and we had–cramped and crouched over our cameras–finished watching the sun set. Now we stood across from Manhattan’s beaming glittering skyline in mind-numbing coldness and heart-fuzzing company.

In 30 years, I remarked, this would be what we’d remember: impromptu trips into the city, staring out at the skyline. Silly wild moments and mellow quiet ones, flickers of dialogue that made no sense out-of-context. Soon we’d forget the exams and the stress and the bullshit, but we wouldn’t forget the shnow and spontaneity and the stars–

We had come up with different numbers. We must have miscounted. So we hopped back onto the ice-glazed blocks to count the stars again.

Day 12: Out of Control

And he’s off. Always on the verge of going but never leaving, has finally left, albeit temporarily, for training. I made him promise me a million times he’d send me his address so I could send him weekly Letters from a Sentimental Mop. He promised. I said I’d throw in Tall Tale Thuradays.

He’s always telling me I’m out of control.

A few days ago we visited the lake and sat there talking about aliens and spiders and other ridiculous things. I was wearing my Ender’s Game shirt.

“If you could ask an alien one question, what would it be?”

I didn’t skip a beat. “Where are the Missing and Lost and are they delicacies on your planet?”

He chuckled. He said that he’d ask them where they’d come from and what language they spoke and if there were more of them. Of course there were more, I responded. I thought of Astronomy class and how small we were and this big hunk of rock hurtling around that we called home. I thought of this one star, the sun, that we worshiped and feared and didn’t stare dead in the eye and how there are billions of them out there: stars and planets and beings.

The sun set. We wandered around a bit. Skirted around the topic of politics through the drive thru. Later, we pigged out on milkshakes and waffle fries to DJ Khaled’s new album.

 

Day 13: Forgotten

except that I haven’t

 

Day 14: Home

10: like a sleepy warm embrace 9: the sound of hisses pots pans before dinner “o I just throw things together” 8: organized disarray groaning under its own weight 7: driving down winding empty roads

6: (tethered) 5: dancing, singing, stepping on my own toes 4: cardboard sign that reads FREE HUGS 3: cracking tilting falling apart but it’s not about the SHELL it’s about the PEANUT 2: happy slow light

1: and warm. very very warm

(Earlier I was reading Michael Mira’s (@journalofdisposablethoughts) post on how we all have to have a “home as a reference point….It could be at a railway station in Nairobi or in your wife’s loving arms.” Just something that keeps us 6: tethered–“we all need a single point in the universe to attach our roots.”)

 

Day 15: Witness

sea of fleshy shadow

 

Day 16: Small Things

Like freckles scattered across your nose and in the morning I wake up sloppy bright. I nod at your sadness because it makes you real and raw, rawness makes you real so life can touch you. And when the sun’s up and we’re swimming in a sea of faces I admit I’m only ever looking for yours

 

Day 17: Early Morning

I rewind in multiples of 3 6 5, count on my fingers when it’s orangey hot outside. I’m blinded at 8, sweaty-drowning at 4, despairing at 2, and counting down to 1 (12, 11, 10–)

Think Lua, Bright Eyes, cramped attics, friendship and sleepovers. How what’s ‘so simple in the moonlight/by the morning never is’. And today when I wake up it feels like hot winter in the middle of December.

Early morning ‘s forgetting when all I can do is remember.

 

Day 18: Warning

[708 days ago I trekked] onwards, onwards, [towards] the lit-up skyline [and] water’s reflected orbs [towards] the lost-and-confusion-inducing water that, every so often, would ripple with fish

[and they] leapt like the one catfish back home, the massive, lonely catfish that hung out with the turtles–

 

Day 19: Walk Away

I heard Nina Simone in Starbucks today; she sang this other song about walking away. It’s called “You’ve Got To Learn” and how you have to leave the table once love’s not being served. I liked the metaphor. I’ve always found dish metaphors to be interesting, like the one in Keri Hilson and Kanye West’s Knock You Down (“you see the hate they’re servin’ on a platter? So what we gon’ have: dessert or disaster?”)

But on the topic of walking away–

I mean, I understand the necessity of walking away. Sometimes you have to. Sometimes people are unkind. Sometimes people treat you badly. Sometimes people are traitorous or abhorrent or manipulative, and ain’t nobody got time for that. “Life is short. The opportunity cost of time is too high.” My economics professor said that two years ago, and I thought it was hilarious and true so I wrote it down. And it’s not easy to walk away from people or situations or what-have-you’s, but sometimes you.. have to, and it’s good for you. Like Miguel Ruiz says in The Four Agreements, how it’s ultimately a blessing when disrespectful or unkind people walk away, despite it hurting initially.

 

Day 20: Supermarket

My favorite place as a kid was the supermarket. Not the park or playground, not a friend’s house or my beige-walled room, not the blanket-hut I’d constructed in my mother’s closet (close second), but the supermarket. So every time my parents announced they were off to buy groceries at this supermarket or that, I’d cry for them to wait up, throw on presentable clothes and then skip off to join them. Embark all glittery-eyed in our not-particularly-adventurous adventures to the supermarket.

I don’t know why I loved the supermarket so much. Maybe it was the space or clean tiles or the way everything was so cleanly arranged. Toys in the right-back. Christmas trees to the sharp right. Milk, eggs and essentials in the left-back, real-real-back because, as I learned years later, marketers used this as a clever ploy to get you to pass everything you didn’t need before reaching the things you did. Or maybe it was just the way the supermarket made me feel, like I, eight and skinny and bony and small, could expand with endless curiosity and familiarity.

Nowadays, though–and you saw this coming, you saw this coming–trips to the supermarket are tinged with Adulthood. Like managing a Budget while crossing things off a List and carrying out this Obligation on whatever regular basis I should. It’s less of an adventure and more of an obligation, a matter of need and convenience rather than inexplicable childish excitement. I suppose it was always supposed to be the former anyways. It’s a grocery store with household items, not the local amusement park.

But, I mean, it was still oddly magical for me. It was where I went with my parents. Where I quietly pined after toys (cough, sputter–Barbie Jammin’ Jeep Wrangler, Pink). Where I prepared myself to run into other fourth graders at any minute. It was where I splurged on back-to-school items and bathing suits I never wore and ice cream I finished too fast. It was where I felt like a kid, was happy as a kid: the supermarket. So every time I go home, I visit the supermarket again. And I can’t say it brings me the same expansive happiness, but I still get to revisit it for a while, the place and the feeling.

 

[30 Day Writing Challenge]

Lights & Sights in NYC

christmas carols
blare from the
sidewalk speakers
on saks 5th ave

slow-moving
bustle of bodies
of tourists shuffling
from one street to the next
of families waffling
of citygoers incensed

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we dart into stores
pretend to be buddy
pretend we’re at gimbels
pretend we’re all elves

when we leave the store
we weave the crowds ’til we reach
the rockefeller tree
rockefeller tree!
it stands in all its large
towering
majesty

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like a small building it
shines as
people glide
its evergreen branches
a sea
of rainbow LED

with our iphones
we pretend to snatch
rockefeller with our fingers

check the time–oh,
time’s almost up
we’ve got 50 blocks to go and
30 minutes til
the bus leaves!

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the uber goes, but then we’re stuck
so! we run, run, run to the
station, skid through
times square
/take a picture of me!/
psychedelic ads screaming
from the boardsmake it just in time
watermelon soju sloshing
in our stomachs

this! is the magic of christmas with
the magic of new york
smothered and buttered
with HOLIDAY CHEER
with adrenaline
with honey greek yogurt matcha tea boba
with carbonara pasta rich red wine
with all the sights and lights and
people to see

what a merry(ish)
christmas

B&W Film

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Film is so beautiful and nostalgic.

I picked up a small love for film about four year ago. I’d been sitting in Econ lecture, scrolling through artists and photographers when I stumbled upon a photographer.

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A year after gathering a small appreciation (obsession) for film, I took a black and white film class.We took pictures in black and white and processed them in the darkroom, shot with borrowed Canon cameras.

I photographed strangers, artwork, puppies, toys, store fronts….so on and so forth. It was then that I realized: there is so much whimsicalness in the world. So much strangeness and beauty! The panda head human: a stranger. The toy train: more strangers. I began to shift my perception, seeing my surroundings in blacks and whites, hues and gradients, shadows and bright spots.

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In the dark room, we removed the film from the tube in a room devoid of light. With washes and chemicals and timers, we processed the small rolls of copper-colored film until they were ready to hang and dry.

Then we brought the dried film into the darkroom, where we each had our own space to magnify the film images, invert them, and light-print onto a piece of light-sensitive paper. Afterwards, we doused the paper film in another long process of chemicals and washes before the sheet was finally ready to dry.

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Processing film by hand was tedious, but fun.

I found an old film camera (a Canon snappy LX) about a year ago while cleaning out the house, and ordered some Superia film in. I’ve been slowly, slowly photographing with it. I have….six rolls of film to shoot.

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When I look at other’s images taken on Canon Snappy’s online, they look like the photographs my parents used to take decades ago, when film was all they had.

100 Books Reading Challenge

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Started a reading challenge project mid-spring of 2017. The goal: read 100 books by summer in a year. I’m inching along, albeit at a slower pace than I’d like. Figured posting the list on my blog would hold me accountable–also, I get to share cool books!

So here’s a list of books I’ve reading; I plan to update every 10 books or so. If you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them! 🙂

  1. One! Hundred! Demons!, Lynda Barry
  2. James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
  4. Here, Richard McGuire
  5. Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks
  6. Burned, Ellen Hopkins
  7. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling
  8. Walking Dead 1, Robert Kirkman
  9. Walking Dead 2, Robert Kirkman
  10. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelous
  11. Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur
  12. Partner Track, Helen Wan
  13. Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen
  14. Kafka, R. Crumb
  15. Project Jennifer, Jill Rosenblatt
  16. Dignity, Donna Hicks
  17. Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant, Roz Chast
  18. Ginny Moon, Benjamin Ludwig
  19. Autobiography of Barefoot Gen, Nakazawa Keji
  20. Meow Meow, Jose Fonollosa
  21. Beautiful Darkness, Fabien Vehlmann
  22. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  23. The Skin Above My Knees, Marcia Butler
  24. Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With), Daisy Goodwin
  25. Sailing Alone Around the Room, Billy Collins
  26. Future Tense, Paintings by Alex Gross
  27. Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling
  28. Thirst, Poems by Mary Oliver
  29. Global Street Art, Lee Boffkin
  30. Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami
  31. Vintage Cisneros, Sandra Cisneros 
  32. Have You Seen Marie, Sandra Cisneros
  33. Woman Hollering Creek, Sandra Cisneros
  34. The Quiet Eye: A Way of Looking at Pictures, Sylvia Judson
  35. Blue Nights, Joan Didion 
  36. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
  37. This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz
  38. The Embassy of Cambodia, Zadie Smith
  39. Love Mad Poems, Rumi
  40. The Wolves In The Walls, Neil Gaiman
  41. Forms of Distance, Bei Dao
  42. 73 Poems, E.E. Cummings
  43. The Love Bunglers, Jaime Hernandez
  44. Little Book of Little Stories
  45. Shoplifer, Michael Cho
  46. Rick & Morty Comics
  47. Fresh Complaint, Jeffrey Eugenides
  48. Stone Butch Blues, Leslie Feinberg
  49. White Teeth, Zadie Smith
  50. South and West, Joan Didion
  51. Dear Dumb Diary
  52. Stories Julian Tells, Ann Cameron
  53. Stitches, David Small
  54. Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom
  55. Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka
  56. Pretty: Stories, Greg Kearney
  57. Night Watch, Malin Lindroth
  58. Constance and the Great Escape, Pieere Le Gall 
  59. Rapunzel, Paul Zelinsky
  60. Jane and the Fox & Me, Isabelle Aresenault 
  61. I’ve Loved You Since Forever, Hoda Kobb
  62. Corduroy, Don Freeman
  63. Buck, MK Asante
  64. Chemistry, Weike Wang
  65. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo
  66. Soviet Daughter, Julia Alekseyeva
  67. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
  68. LIFE 70 Years of Extraordinary Photography
  69. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, Timothy Snyder
  70. SHOCK
  71. Beijing: Imperial and Contemporary
  72. Abandoned America, Matthew Christopher
  73. The Polaroid Book
  74. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  75. Cats, Jane Bown
  76. The Photographs of Carl Mydans
  77. Camanchaca, Diego Zuniga 
  78. Creepy Carrots, Aaron Reynolds
  79. Lies in The Dust : A Tale of Remorse From The Salem Witch Trial,
  80. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  81. Going Into Town, Roz Chaz
  82. Doodle Diary of A New Mom, Lucy Scott
  83. The Marshmallow Test, Walter Mischel
  84. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L Konigsburg

You’re Where You’re Supposed To Be

I stumbled upon my old high school achievement records while cleaning the house–it felt odd, strange, holding dusty certificates and letters. So I did get a 34 on the ACT; I thought I’d remembered wrong. And then the 2350 on the SAT–huh, at some point, I’d scored higher on Math than on Reading! Then the AP Scholar with Distinction–which one was that again? Then my essay to my dream school, which I attended, then my first college acceptance to business school, with a full ride I’d turned down. And then my Valedictorian speech, which I’d written the night before, after mustering up all the non-hatred in my body I could to write some relevant stand-up.

Blog, just for context, and to be as blunt as possible, I hated high school. So much. That much stress and resentment is not healthy. For any individual. Had high school been a work place, I’d have quit. Early. But, as a wee minor with few choices, I didn’t. And so I endured that place instead, harboring years and years and years of hatred. It stayed. It lingered. I feel less angry now. In its place is a mellowed realization that hatred must be acknowledged, that it has its place, and like a familiar blemish in a thin history book, should be written about. I neither forgive nor forget.

Nobody ever quite understood it. My resentment was shat on, diminished, looked down upon. How could you hate a place so rosy filled with the best human beings abound? See, that was where our opinions diverged. Despite my having a far opposite opinion, it was never…allowed. Or understood. Get over it. Move on. It wasn’t that bad. It isn’t that bad. How could you say that about a good place? And, if you could possibly believe it, it only exacerbated the hatred. To feel anger is one thing; to face other’s anger because of your own anger is yet another.

At the time, one of my greatest stressors were the relationships in my life. As a girl, well, you know the type: they’d sit in their criss-cross applesauce circles, talk relentless shit, bask in passive aggression and snark. These were my so-called best friends. It was then that I concluded it was better to be alone in life than surrounded by snark. I stopped talking. I kept to myself. I harbored this brewing hatred, letting it expand day by day, each sediment of resentment hardening into stone. It’d occasionally spill out, molten hot lava, fury and resentment. Then the confused looks, always, and maybe mirrored anger, because I should not have felt what I felt.

It wasn’t until my last year of college that I mentioned this fully to my best friend. The best friend who’d always been there for me, held me when I was sad, lifted with me when I was joyous, was there through it all, who was always supportive and understanding and compassionate. Not once had she pissed me off to the high heavens, and not once had she made me cry. Not once had she ever made me feel less than or misunderstood or wrong in how I felt. And–get this–she understood. In all those years, she was the only person who immediately understood. She didn’t diminish my feelings, or try to find some phony bright side. She understood. She mentioned uncannily similar catty high school stories. And it has been experiences like those, fleeting but still moving, that have…well, what have they done? So inexplicably much. Kept me sane.

I can imagine the Valedictorian speech I never wrote and all the things I’d meant to say. Honestly, it’d probably just be filled with a lot of expletives. Even now, really. But honesty is not always valued. And I suppose that is the part of me that is high on social monitoring, that will put on a face based on the crowd. That day of graduation, I stood on stage, I smiled, I cracked jokes. I buried my resentment just one foot deeper, because to experience anything but love for the institution was blasphemy.

Well, I didn’t love it, at least not the last few years, and I should have left while I could. I should have gone to the competitive public school several streets away, the one with high-achievers funneling into the same university. I should have expanded during those years, made better friends, worked just as hard, and felt less anger. I know that everything happens for a reason, that, perhaps, this stony fury made me a better person (somehow?). I have no idea. But I do, as they say, trust the universe.

In the end, it worked out. Academically, I wrung every possible mark I could. I loved my teachers, always did, and I’d learned a great deal from them. I reached all my goals. I ultimately attended my dream school, where I met the best friend I never thought existed. I came to terms with my initial, constant life passion–Psychology–which my best friend first texted me about today, asking for run-downs on theories.

And every post like this, however unsavory or un-poetic or un-artistic, chips away the resentment, bit by bit. Then I remind myself of the here and now. As my best friend so briefly quipped–

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