To nobody in particular–

I broke my ‘no caffeine after 12’ rule. I had two cups of coffee, one decaf, and stopped by the local Indian market for masala chai (or chai masala, whichever it is) I broke my ‘no caffeine after 12 rule’ so that’s why it’s 1 and I’m on my phone, eyes bleary, legs jumpy.

Apparently one of my students cried after seeing how well he did. And admittedly I teared up when I heard how another did. I’m apprehensive about my later students, though. I sometimes feel as though I can sense these things, and I felt like something would be off and lo and behold, failure memes galore. My stomach sank a little. I had woken up to two emails from parents, effusive in gratitude and kindness. I said thank you, so or so is so or so brilliant etc, and I wish her the very best etc.

But ah, we will see. The next few weeks will be interesting. Truthfully, I’m just taking life as it comes.

The chai was okay. It tasted too milky, and then too authentic. And so I sipped it three more times before I liked it. But it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, so I think I’ll finish this box and buy a new brand next time.

A few days ago, I fell in love with a hamster at the pet store. My heart still aches when I think of his soft fur. I desperately want a pet, but dogs smell, cats are sheddy, hamsters live too-short lives, and rabbits are scarce. Sigh. He looked like a mound of snow with a slightly muddied head. I had already cycled through names (snow? Cotton? Rufus?) but ended up not buying him. Then I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I grow attached quite quickly to little creatures.

Audible sigh. I’ve already found most of my graduate school resources and outlined all the chapters in the textbook because my mind gets so numbingly restless. It screams to organize information and consume knowledge.

On another note, irks me when people shit on reading. I can understand how much of a disadvantage it puts kids at when they can’t read efficiently. (As my eighth grade Latin teacher once said, “you know when you call a subject stupid because you don’t get it? Well, the subject’s not stupid. You are.”) Efficient literacy is a hard skill to teach and have. I’d prefer to teach math over reading comprehension any day, because logic I can explain, but written nuance? shit.

I could ramble on about the advantages of effective literacy and this impact on the education gap, but it’s 1:30 and I’m exhausted because I broke my ‘no caffeine after’…well, you get it.

Another midnight letter addresses to nobody in particular. Regards, warmly, have a blessed day. From, me.

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escapril

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 10.30.19 PM
we left the cold blank walls
white and bland
stripped of photos
of colors & memories
that’d be left, soon enough
i was littered with anxiety, apprehension
—excitement, above all
of not knowing the change that was
to come

since then, it’s been more of a yearning for
continuation
as i drive through the well manicured
trees that carve in like
they do in the movies
pristine and intentional
i find myself feeling like the summer before then
before that start
before we began

today i wake up to a third letter
i begin to map out schedules, requirements
and costs
this time
i yearn for stillness, not movement
practicality, not dreams
mute pastels, not lights
familiarity, not novelty
i curl into what is safe

reaching to any and all good
that came before
things are different
yet not so much
five years have passed
but it feels like nothing has
this is my new fresh start
a sturdy continuation of everything that
has come before


we used to dance in the rain
because we wanted to be like stargirl
stargirl with the long blue dress
stargirl with the whiskery pet rat
stargirl, who meditated on fields
and danced in the rain
and who lived so vivaciously
we wanted to do the same

we used to dance in the rain
because it made us feel free
as people ducked into corridors
we sprinted onto fields
we filled our oxfords with mud
laughed with our chins to the sky
we would immortalize youth forever
cold shirts plastered to our backs


remember when
you had your soul with you
honey
(resting on a) crow’s perch

(i thought)
when am i gonna lose you
(for we had) grown nothing
sin no halo (so you cried)

(go and) save me from your kindness
fill me up with (your) anthem
throwaway
my man

break free
little white
dove
one day it’s gonna break


did you know that psychopaths
do not feel much anxiety?
that they remain unnervingly calm
heart beats low and steady
the truth is
she says
I do not remember the last time I was genuinely anxious
her hands lay flat
maybe I used to be
but not much anymore
not much anymore
in what situations did you ever feel anxious?
a small nudge
I don’t know. dumb things, little things like
indecision, emotional pools
hands clasped


Screen Shot 2019-04-06 at 10.40.52 AM.png

there’s an outdoor smell clinging
to my hair after we sit outside on the patio
to our left are thickets of dried up bushes
to our right are seesawing heehawing burger devourers
we talk numbers, business, philosophy
finance and people
i decide i’m more interested in the personnel part

there’s an outdoor smell clinging
to my hair as i sit on a small foldable
army green chair, virgin suicides
propped open in my lap
to my right are big rubber tires
to my left is pungent smelling vinegar
filling the giant vat that used
to be my bath tub

today i sit indoors
lightly observing rain drops clinging to the window
cliched trees sway in the wind and murky
green water ripples thru the canal
this is the most intentional deja vu
the greenest of green spaces
i left and i returned–
this is the closest i get to nature


nostalgia.png

on the last night
i very much
wanted to leave

by the stacks of
kleenex tissues
glass and dust
donatable
non-donatable
hopefully-were-donated
goods
i was very much ready to go

please come
i am making ravioli and soup
i’ll bring you tissues–just please come

so we piled into the car and talked about pharmacy
arrived at her home to
orangey butter lights
crawled the staircase to the lace
and gold living room
trailed
to the leather couch i’d watched end of the fucking world on
to the desk i’d painted “best friends at”

to the bed where we’d
watched bachelor and gossiped
and cried

over the tomato thick soup
i lament illness
(full circle) and movement and
so many little things i can’t remember–
we set the table
forks spoons plates
food atmosphere celebration and
all

embracing this time
for us all to be
together

like extended family
we bond
like fourth cousins
we cackle
we watch in amusement as family members begin
to pair off
raising their voices in enthusiasm
waving wildly

we curl up on the couch
observing quietly
and my heart feels so warm


time of day.png

morning dusk
falling dawn
blinding white

covers


a love poem

the less love there is
the more i write about it
the more love there is
the less i write about it

when i’m swimming in love requited
the last thing i want to write about is love requited


Screen Shot 2019-04-10 at 11.29.42 AM

what color is this
the woman asks
i stare at it hard
beige and grey, i decide

when the woman pats the foundation
gently on my face
she observes and so do i
it’s tinted orangey

do you think this goes well with that?
the woman says
i pause and say yes to the cream–
i thought they were the same outfit


hard edges soft smiles
skin cleaner than artificiality
musters
floral beckons pink
gasps
femininity’s clasp
and loosening fingers


must you gab on so constantly interpret my quiet for surliness you’re doing that thing where you go silent yes my life 99% of the time who’s got time to talk so much well I do I love it and my lips are pursed and my head is saying must you gab on so constantly


Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 5.56.47 PM

dirt and grime and a cloud of dust / I promised I wouldn’t leave again


we were made of stardust
of a billion cosmos
skin of the sky
(and as we looked towards the night
I so very much wanted to believe it)

us–can you imagine?–made from the destruction of celestial bodies
only to return, full circle, to the dirt beneath weeds
i told myself that one day I’d buy you a telescope
just so we could see our mirrored selves

lighting up
a swarm of melting bodies


Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 1.00.35 PM

there’s a quick lilt that falls on her lips
sky kissed bronze falling in wisps
she leans in forward and nonsensically quips
“red velvet red velvet draped her hips”


 

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 1.00.43 PM

cinnamon flecked bodies of
spice dipped milk
churning spoon and metal
glass clinks
aromatic whispers from my arms throat
and up
a full-bodied warmth
dances into my chest


 

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 1.00.52 PM

were dreams the actualization of
latent unsaid
content?
(as freud posited)
or were dreams of something more
meaningful–
say, synchronization?
(as jung offered)

as i lie in bed
wrapped in distorted memories
cocoon of broken lights
i piece together the nothingess of logic
knowing that my subconsciousness
has weaved itself
indelibly
incoherently
infuriatingly

back into myself

day 16 of escapril 

a letter to you

I was accepted to all four graduate psychology programs I applied to! It’s official, I guess. I’ll accept an offer tomorrow.

It’s funny. I never thought I’d go to grad school. It was around my freshman year I stopped caring about grades as well. I figured nobody would see them, anyways.

The thought of reading up on more psych studies and research makes my heart tingley. I remember my first psychology textbook: I found it in the biology room and stole it for a few weeks. “Readers don’t steal and thieves don’t read.” Ah. You thought wrong. I was a four year old klepto whose books were hidden from her.


Words. “YOUR AWESOME” my student emailed me. I suppressed the grammar-lover in me. Grammar is important, despite my not adhering to it on here. I used to be terrible at it. Nowadays, I make every single student remember that the semi-colon’s twin is the period. It has a twin.

Sometimes when I see their notes I have to try hard not to laugh. I explained ellipses the other day, foci–a small bane of my geometric existence. I told him to “THINK STEWIE.” So he drew a Stewie and wrote it down on the paper. Where do Stewie’s eyes go?


I spent the past Monday playing video games with my friend. On Sunday we got lunch. Korean. It’d been a while since I’d seen them. We sat quietly for bouts of time. It felt comfortable.


It’s 1:30 AM and I can’t sleep. Insomnia doesn’t plague me the way that it used to. But it crept up two nights ago. I felt an irritating hunger pang and went to the kitchen to find food. I found a roach in my cup instead; I tried not to scream, but I did.

When I can’t sleep, I write. I write until I’m tired. I write until my brain has emptied itself on page. I write until there are no more thoughts swarming my brain.

a pointless post

There’s a whole lot of depth and wisdom on here. Meanwhile, I feel like a small grey seal, washed up on shore, dull with boredom.

I know my eyes will ache tomorrow: too much screen time. I know I’ll doze off into blandness. I know I’ll just–oh, what’s the point. I forget where I’m going with this.

We’ll exercise tomorrow. A significant other is like a built-in buddy. Making time for actual friends is much more effortful and time-consuming. And occasionally draining. That’s another sentiment for another day.

What else? It’ll be warm tomorrow. 80s. Unbearably warm. It’ll dip into the weekend. I don’t know what next week will look like. I’m adamant against certain things. Maybe I’ll bring bread. I think I will.

This was a pointless post. A big blip drip into the sea of deep musings. I have no deep musings, not really. It’s more like a humdrum.

Maybe I’ll take a week off my phone. Maybe that is the answer. Maybe I’ll limit screen time to an hour a day. Maybe that’s why I feel mentally sluggish.

a night out | sea of familiar strangers

The past weekend was spent carousing through the city.

Early afternoon, I drop off a piece for display at a local art gallery. Then we visit the museum of art, which houses several stories. We appreciate the art thoroughly, oohing and aahing–I’ve always been one for realism and landscapes. Afterwards, we eat street tacos at the city park, the warm sun on our backs, and skate through another art museum.

By 7 PM, I’m ready to call it quits, go home, curl up in bed. But he wants to watch a comedy show in the grungier alternative district, packed with bars and clubs and stores. I grudgingly oblige. We crawl through the busy street in the car, unable to find parking. People shuffle around in large crowds, partygoers, girls dressed provocatively, guys swaggering. It’s a strange scene. I feel like I’ve seen these people in college, only they’re ten years older. They’re ten years older. It’s strange to see familiar faces with unfamiliar wrinkles, bags, bloodshot eyes. And they tower over me, over us.

Every shop we drift into is like another world. One is girly, filled with sweet smelling soaps. Another is dark, filled with the stuff of 50 Shades. Another is undeniably cool, filled with skateboarders who whiz around on the indoor ramp. One of the skaters, with a forehead scar and glasses, with a close buzzcut and blue polo, looks quintessentially nerdy. He glides on the ramp, effortlessly, smoothly, embodies a skaterly confidence. I imagine a narrative for him. He’s been bullied in elementary school, feels like he doesn’t fit in. He discovers the skateboard at 13, decides that he loves it. He’s committed to it. He falls and stumbles, but it’s his thing. It gives him coolness. 

We leave the shop for a burger joint, where a girl in giant floaty green pants laughs loudly with her date. They’re at the bar. There are red and pink lights and neon signs. It’s crowded. It’s loud. This place is poppin’. We sit down at a small booth. I stare at the couple next to us, eyeing them intensely. Is this their third date? Is this their fifth date? Why do they laugh so hard? Stare deeply into each other’s eyes? Is the other person really that interesting to the other?

“We’re such a frouple. A friend couple.” I declare later that night. At the moment, though-

“Stop staring!” he hisses. And I let out a belly rumbling hearty hearty chuckle, realizing how absurd I must look, staring intently at them. Then I stare some more. My questions have gone unanswered. I later conclude that they must be relatively new in the relationship. They pay too much attention to each other to be too comfortable, but they’re clearly interested in the other, and have rapport.

The burgers are delicious but small. They’re filling enough, but not filling. So at the comedy house, he munches on chips and salsa. I like one of the acts–two guys with a lot of chemistry and social rapport. The first act is cringe-y. I assume it’s the comedy club students, who are new and not super funny, and maybe a little awkward. I wonder what brings them to improv. The last group is funny, but a little spread out. Two of the actors seem to have chemistry with each other. I think these stage acts rely a lot on actors who get each other‘s humor, and then banter off that to the crowd. Sheldon and Leonard get along well. But Sheldon and, say, Adam Sandler would not.

“Is this what young professionals do on the weekend? Go out and party? Go clubbing?”

Good question. Is this really what people do at night? They really go out in this city? To party, to club? It’s 9:30 PM, and I’ve been ready to go home for the past two hours. The chocolate beer and comedy have woken me up, but barely. After wandering around, we make our way back to the parking lot. We turn to see the cars passing by–a woman is rushedly patting blush onto her face. For these people, these older versions of college kids, the night is just getting started. They’re a little oldish, but oh, the night is young.

Lotus Flower

I did not choose to grow here.

I see myself as a displaced flower, uprooted before she was planted, a seed placed miles and miles away. I am, let’s say, a lotus flower. From a country far away. One day, I sprouted. Maybe under the sunny bright skies of California. Somewhere Western. And all I knew were the soil and skies and trees of a Western world.

And there were Western songs. And Western values. And Western foods that made people balloon and swell and topple over from heart disease. There were color coded hierarchies. And color embracing schools. There were plastered banners of ideals, never obtained, of bars that will never be reached. And there was money. Lots of money. Unevenly divided, but money, still. Oh, and shit-talking. Lots and lots of shit-talking. Because shit-talking was her prized possession baby.

She was theoretically free. She was chained by things that half of her would screech about.

This is Western air I breath. And Western words I write. My mind scrambles to translate to my mother tongue. I feel irritated when quizzed, scrutinized, over my minute vocabulary. I comprehend the way I read–vertically, in chunks, taking in the entire scene.

I did not choose to grow here. But I do so, begrudgingly, albeit mostly contentedly, because with physical comfort comes mental comfort. There is food to eat. And water to drink. And clean carpeted homes. And space, and clear blue skies.

But it is a hollow step-mother, a cutout adopted family, and this is Cinderella, couched in her stepmother’s magnificent home. It is lacking in significant ways. In this tiled gated home, ripe with waste and excess, I have no desire to engorge myself in deep fried meats. I have no desire to shoot a rifle. I have no desire to make silly clownish political statements, or yell, or scream. Where is everybody else? Where is the real food? Where is the real music? The real dancing? The culture, the culture?

And when I return to this home, a home I had never been, I feel the deepest, most explicable sense of home. How do you return home when you’ve never been? This, I realize, is biological. It’s deeper than simply sprouting where you are planted. It goes back seasons, centuries, for an environment to be just right for that particular plant–but I was uprooted, like so many others.

And I never assume that I am like them. Plants in the new environment, I mean. I can feign it–I speak it, and I most likely seem it, but it’s a facade. You can take an alligator out of a swamp, raise it in the desert, but it will always have been from a swamp, no matter what you tell it. You can brainwash it. You can tell her to participate in rituals of the patriotic. You can make her place her hand on this part of her chest, memorize poems about fabric, worship strangers of the dead. But it is all surface level, environmental. External. As internal as socialization can be.

No matter what anyone tells me, no matters what is shushed or socially right, nobody can convince me otherwise. She is a queen, a sleeping dragon. And I am convinced of it. I hope she breaths and flies and wakes soon. I have been planted alongside the fat rich happy little Western boar, who snores and powerfully kicks up mud when angered. There is not much that I can do. Because I did not choose to grow here.

Art Display

My art exhibit is up! And it’s the first public display I’ve ever done.

I remember my first “collection” display. It was a school one. We spent saturday and sunday mornings framing our pieces. At the show, on some school night, students and parents filed in, casual dress. I remember how I had staggered my pieces and how I ended up dissatisfied but how it was too late to change it. My works were okay, but the display didn’t look as good as I had hoped. I think a few people commented, but mostly people oohed and aahed at students on the other side of the room.

I didn’t really like the old ‘contemporary’ stuff I used to do. There were lots of bloody noses and whited out eyes, strange doodles and abstractions. I’d float around in photographic pieces. I embraced mental illnesses in my personal project. I loved psychology so much that I was blind to the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I’d look up various ailments, then attempt to embody them. That was in my larger work, the paintings and photographs.

I think the experimental part of my sketchbooks, angry and loud and messy, was still better than my more recent doodles. My art has gone downhill in the past few years. It’s mostly because I haven’t practiced art as much. Even so, I think I’ve been able to find steady footing in a more traditional, fine art style. I didn’t do landscape paintings much when I was younger; now I do. My portraits weren’t very hyperrealistic then; now, more are.

These works are more mainstream, probably frowned upon by contemporary art purveyors. But I’ll say it now and I’ll say it loud: contemporary art sucks. Yes, artist, you can paint large purple squares. We all can. This child can. This child is! But your artist’s name alone commands millions, so let’s just waste space, literal gallery space, on big yellow triangles. If you can’t tell, I am disgruntled at our current culture’s embracing of bad art. I don’t know how there is such a large disconnect between common-sensical taste and the scribble-loving highbrow gatekeepers of art culture.

I just saw the netflix film velvet buzzsaw. It got bad reviews from critics, probably because it was a huge satire on the critic industry. The laughed-at tropes were spot on. Spoiler alert! I mean, from the tormented emotional mentally unstable artist to the critic’s overly-big-words to the trash-as-art scene, it was too apt. A comedy and horror all rolled into one. Less fear and more suppressed giggles.

But ah, yes, back to the art. The real art, the real exhibit. This morning. A handful of people chatted with me about the art, their own lives and experiences. Do you teach? No. Are you selling? Er, yes. Is this your job? No. And then a woman and I sat down and talked about art and writing, and she showed me her photos.

I kind of miss having conversations with strangers in regards to random art-related things. I miss it a lot, actually. I’ve struck up so many conversations with strangers while holding a sketchbook or camera alone. It’s interesting how those tools of expression will spark up a comment, a friendly smile, a fullblown conversation. I’ve made friends by simply bringing sketchbooks to coffeeshops. There’s so much to learn from other people. I mean, it’s odd, but maybe not, that we don’t normally go around talking to random strangers. I enjoy it–maybe I will start to draw more in real life. Maybe I will meet people, and maybe I will not.

In the past 10 hours, somebody has left a voicemail. Another has left a comment on my wordpress saying the blog ads looked unprofessional. Well, sir, I’m a mere hobbyist who made the site two weeks before the display. My site isn’t really to sell–it’s just an online display. Ah, ads aside–it just makes me happy that my art is no longer sputtering dust in the closet (!!!)