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.

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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”

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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.

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.

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]

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