Admiration 2: Writers and Writers Organizations and the New Wonder Woman

“Depict something or someone you admire.”

— Krista, The Daily Post

In the last week of March and the opening days of April this year, self was in Los Angeles. First, to attend a reading of her good friend Zack Linmark at USC. His first novel, Rolling the R’s, a great, groundbreaking, kick-ass novel, turned 20, and USC celebrated that milestone by having him read with Jessica Hagedorn and Lois-Ann Yamanaka, two other groundbreakers.

Immediately following that reading was the annual AWP Conference, which is of course also accompanied by the most fabulous book fair in America. And at that book fair, self stopped briefly to chat with staffers at VIDA, a completely volunteer-run organization, which publishes statistics on how many women are published by which literary organs. And it’s eye-opening.

Finally, Wonder Woman. Just because. Watch for her movie. Emily! So proud of your daughter/director. The picture is a grainy still from the Batman vs. Superman movie, which self watched just so she could tell Emily in London: I saw Wonder Woman in costume on the big screen for the first time!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Best of AWP 2016 (Love L.A.), Part 1

Just look at all this literary goodness!

Self decided to give herself a pick-me-up after reading today’s New York Times. What better way than by reminding herself that — people, America is full of writers/artists/publishers who soldier on, no matter what the odds! And who manage to look like they’re having a great time while they’re at it! Without needing comb-overs!

New York: Highline and Chelsea

Still looking for landscapes.

Here are pictures self took during a memorable walk on New York City’s Highline, December 2015:

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Near the Start of the Highline, on a cold December Day

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Still Near the Start of the Highline

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Near the Start of the Highline, on a cold December Day

And here are things she loved about New York during her Fall 2015 sojourn:

  • The Asian American Writers Workshop
  • The Whitney
  • The Highline
  • Therese Raquin with Keira Knightley
  • Seeing Penny
  • Seeing Luis and Midori
  • Seeing the Picasso exhibit in the MOMA
  • Catching a concert of Trio Solisti at Carnegie Hall
  • Watching Mamie Gummer’s scorching performan in Ugly to the Bone
  • Seeing nephew Chris Blackett and watching movies with him and reading his novel-in-progress
  • Eating Cuban in Hoboken, New Jersey
  • Walking around Central Park
  • Mockingjay 2 in the Lincoln Center Cinema
  • Losing self’s wallet twice and having it returned to her twice — nothing missing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Invention of the Monsters”: From Aimee Nezhukumatatathil’s AT THE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO

An excerpt from “Invention of the Monsters”

by Aimee Nezhukumatatathil

When a Yemeni bride complains
of sharp pains on her scalp, her hairdresser
insists it is only the hairpin holding
the braided black wedding wig in place.

Jealous Sister finally admits sneaking
a scorpion under the whorl of egg-stiffened
braids, loops of red ribbon, gold seadbeads,
How beautiful, this body — exquisite

“Essence of Spain,” 699 Words, Eunoia Review

This piece appeared in Eunoia Review (one of her favorite on-line lit mags) She is re-visiting her stories from several years ago, for some reason (because fun?).

This one’s about a Manhattan office worker who tries to spice up her dreary cubicle life by imagining herself traveling around Spain.

I decided I would use only “usted” when addressing others, even if the other was someone obviously younger than myself.

I learned that in Spain they cared greatly about appearance. I read this in the Travel section of The New York Times, which I bought at least once a week, to keep myself informed not only about Spanish customs, but about life in Europe in general.

I imagined myself threading through calle after calle after calle.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More From Self’s Story of The New Ice Age, “The Freeze” (Bluestem, Spring 2015)

Self has no idea what the 2016 AWP in Los Angeles will be like, but the one in Minneapolis in April was a tidal wave moment.

She hadn’t even planned to go, but Luisa Igloria asked if she were interested in sharing a room. On the last day of the AWP Book Fair, self determined to walk around and see whether she saw anyone she knew.

On that last day of the AWP Book Fair, she met the following:

  • Crab Orchard Review Editor Allison Joseph
  • Bluestem Editor Charlotte Pence (who looked soooo fabulous in a pink tweed get-up!

It was a great moment of validation for self, as she realized she’d been published by a lot of the literary magazines on site. Like Juked. Like Witness. Like the New Orleans Review.

All she could think was:  I AM HOOOOME!

She snagged her two author copies of the Bluestem Spring issue. She is so gratified that when Bluestem published “The Freeze,” they kept the formatting — lots of white space, making the story look more like a poem on the printed page.

The band of intrepid San Francisco survivors head south on Highway 1 and begin (of course) to argue:

Someone said we had passed Big Sur. No, it’s impossible, someone said. Big Sur is still up ahead.

I thought, Why argue? What’s the use? We will come to it when we come to it. If we have strength left to come to it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Crackers” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19 No. 2: Summer/Fall 2014) — We’re on a Panel at AWP 2016!

This was a story self started writing two years ago, which Crab Orchard Review picked up fairly quickly (Definitely NOT the norm!): “Crackers.”

It’s a somewhat comic take on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. An American man goes “native” in the Philippines:

They made me register at the Palo Alto VA for a psychiatric evaluation. The attendant asked my age, and though I had not thought about it for many years, I replied that I might be 41 or 42.

My mother, God rest her soul, was a saint. She passed away when I was still in grade school. My father was the kind of man whose idea of spoiling us was to give us Happy Meals, every single day. While I was “away,” my father died, my sister inherited all his money, and there was nothing left for me.

My first night back in America, I couldn’t sleep. The quiet made me jumpy. People don’t realize how noisy the jungle is. When you know what to listen for, you can tell who is next to you, who is a few feet away, who is just on the other side of that bamboo thicket. Night is for hunting. It’s an active time. Here, though, the night is so quiet, it’s like being dead.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Part 2 of Vanessa Hua’s “Accepted” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19, No. 2: Summer/Fall 2014)

Self is hugely enjoying this story.

(Self has written her own Stanford stories, but OMG does Ms. Hua ever kill it)

Rodin Sculpture Garden, Stanford University

Rodin Sculpture Garden, Stanford University

Flipping open my binder, I found a flyer urging Stanford cadets to apply for the ROTC honor roll with the attached form and an unofficial transcript. A reminder I didn’t have grades, and wasn’t enrolled, a reminder I should give up and go home. Surviving day-to-day brought me no closer to becoming an official student. I imagined my father’s disappointment, my father’s words: ignominious, mendacious.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vanessa Hua, “Accepted” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19 No. 2: Summer/Fall 2014)

This story (in Crab Orchard Review’s Summer/Fall 2014 issue) is poignant as well as funny.

Self hears this sad girl narrator’s voice in her head, more often than not.

A lie begets a lie that begets another lie and another lie until finally disappointment turns into despair.

The Crab Orchard Review Summer/ Fall 2014 Issue (Special Themed Issue: The West Coast & Beyond)

The Crab Orchard Review Summer/ Fall 2014 Issue (Special Themed Issue: The West Coast & Beyond)

“I hadn’t meant to lie, not at first, but when Jack Min donned his Stanford sweatshirt, after receiving his acceptance (a senior tradition) — I yanked my Cardinal red hoodie out of my locker. When my AP English teacher, Ms. Banks, stopped to congratulate me, I couldn’t bring myself to say, not yet. She’d worked with me on a dozen revisions of my college essay and written a generous letter of rec, and I didn’t want to disappoint her.

Another week passed, and I posed with Jack for the school paper. A banner year for the church our families both attended, and for Sparta High, with two students in a single class admitted to Stanford. When I showed my parents the article as proof of my acceptance, Oppa held the newspaper with his fingertips, as if it were bridal lace he was preserving on a special order.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Beneath Your Feet 5: Oh the Places Self Roams! In Her Imagination and Elsewhere

Early this year, while self was in Mendocino, she got sent an illustration by Matthew Park (son of an ex-classmate, Mavee Park). He based his illustration off self’s story, “The Freeze,” which was as yet unpublished.

About two weeks after she got sent Matthew’s illustration, the piece was picked up by Bluestem. How’s that for synchronicity? And then, at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, in April, she picked up her author copies.

The story of “The Freeze” is: The earth is slowly dying from a precipitous Ice Age that descends without warning, right after an Obama broadcast about the Russians. Self knows this is far-fetched but, hey, that is only the backstory.

She would love to see this made into an animated film, some day.

Here’s an excerpt:

My group was walking south along the coast. Why? In the cold, we became migratory birds, heading south unquestioningly, thinking: South, it will be warm. Or, anyway, warmer than here.

Can you imagine a time when . . .

Coffee. Waving good-bye to my girls every morning. Inspecting the roses. Peeling off the leaves that were mottled with blackspot and rust.

TheFreezecover_concept02-3

Self combed her archives this afternoon and found more pictures that relate to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  BENEATH YOUR FEET

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2013, just before it shut down for renovation.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2013, just before it shut down for renovation. It should be open again now?

The vaporetto stop on Ca' San Toma, Venice, early morning, May 2013

The vaporetto stop on Ca’ San Toma, Venice. Margarita Donnelly and self shared an apartment: May 2013. Margarita passed away December 2014.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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