Monday, May 25, 2009

Dad’s birthday on the 24th. We ate together as a family, and even though my brother and I fought, everyone else have been getting on well with each other. We went to Walmart and brought two kinds of cake—a rolled up carrot cake and a German frozen chocolate cake. First we tried the carrot cake. Overall consensus was that it was too sweet. Little sister Kim said—let’s try the chocolate cake. Since I had devoured two platefuls of carrot cake roll, I had no room for chocolate cake. Dad and sister approved of chocolate cake.

Now, a day later, it is raining hard, thundering right now and sister Kim is whimpering. I feel hungry, but I am hesitant about eating. These past weeks, I usually feel bloated because once I start eating, I don’t stop until my brain realizes that it is freakin’ hot, I’ve been eating oily foods, and I feel mighty uncomfortable because of the combo of the two.

My sister—after staying for a week by herself at our college townhouse (it is lovely to say—ah yes, our college townhouse)—has returned and told me how great it feels to control her eating.

During dad’s dinner party, when I looked greedily at her slice of carrot cake, she said—you want to eat it, don’t you?

Yes. [Looking greedily at cake]

Oh, you can have it. I don’t want it.

After eating that slice, I of course felt bloated and awful. Henceforth, I will endeavor to control my portions.

I feel guilty and sad for not making my father’s birthday more of a big deal. He has been feeling poorly and ill lately, and I wish I was less withdrawn and more able to celebrate life. I asked dad—how does it feel to grow older? Is it good? My sister Christine sneered at me, sending evil brainwaves at me—why ask such a question? Maybe I’m an idiot conversationalist—I don’t mind being one—but I was asking that question earnestly, thinking my dad has gone through a lot in his life, and he should feel content to celebrate the variety of such a life. But no, my dad had disappointment in his eyes and shook his head.

I am not one for making gestures, but I wish I was capable of expressing how I feel. Life—such as it is—should be celebrated for all the things that went wrong as well as went right.


Brother’s birthday on the 23rd—none of us had gifts. We ate—it seems to always be about the eating—hot pot, which is a boiling pot (on the table) of coconut juice and chicken broth. There are various things to dip into gently simmering broth—slices of beef, mussels, clams, shrimp, mushrooms, octopus, the usual . . . and this time, a new delicacy. I looked at the new container of pinkish, interconnected globules. It’s pretty, like gently waving sea anemone, only pinker and rounder. The package says—uteri. My dad says—baby pig intestine. I think—hmm, okay, intestines, familiar. Then I think—uteri is the plural of uterus. I start laughing and snorting—it’s uterus, it’s uterus, I’m gonna eat uterus. My sister and brother look at me in irritation, because they don’t think it’s funny, because there’s no way they’re going to eat uterus or intestine or whatever it is. I, on the other hand, am fair game for it. I eat a few pieces, and there’s a fishy smell to it. Not to mention the texture makes me feel sickish. And I feel, as a should feel, that there is something wrong with eating uteri—I’m eating womb—I’m eating the thing in which babies grow. No, only two servings of uteri for me, and I’ll be okay with the other offerings.

I behaved atrociously during my brother’s birthday dinner. Looking back, I am confused about how badly I behaved; however, considering the fact that I was drinking my father’s homemade rum, I am not 100% surprised. There’s always someone behaving badly during special occasions, and I always seem to be the idiot of the party.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I am holding a container of plants. It is gross because there are pieces of meat in it. I am mournful about the meat because I would like to salvage that meat, and I wonder what possessed me to put meat in with plants. It smells delicious and edible even when soaked in plant water. I seriously consider taking the meat out and washing it off. I dig my finger inside the container and find lots of bean sprouts and a large plant with fresh green leaves. Excitedly, I pull the plant from the pot and am horrified that its stem is a rib cage. A rib cage! Ew! Is it going to breathe?! I am absolutely disgusted by now, feel nauseous, and decide to give up my quest to be a gardener.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I am watching/listening to Martha Argerich, pianist extraordinaire, play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto. She is old and a bit dumpy, but the black dress contrasts nicely with the demure display of her white bosom. Her face looks old and tired, but her hair is magnificent—black with the shine of brown. White strands near her temples and along the parting of her hair. I like her concentrated, frowning look.

There is also a fetching picture of her younger years. Her chin is held high. Her body is facing right, but her head is turned to the camera. Her eyelids are slightly lowered. Her mouth is closed, corners held low, a beautiful mourning look. Her lower lip is fetchingly full.

The first few minutes of Piano Concerto are magnificent. Her white hands depress the chords, and then fly up again. Straight off the keyboard. They remind me of white frightened birds. She seems to leisurely strike out the deep, thunderous notes, her hands touching the keyboard on three specific places, down the keyboard—one, two, three—and then moving her hands swiftly to do it again—one, two, three.


Wrote this yesterday. Was too bored to post it.

Whenever I try to write a story, I feel absolutely bored with my lack of imagination. Author blogs that I read [Robin McKinley, Malinda Lo, Sara Ryan] often explain that writing—real story writing and not blog writing—is like a job, where I need to have goals and keep at it day after day no matter how I struggle to form a coherent story-line. I’m still an adolescent-apprentice writer, which means that when I get kinda good ideas, I slap them all together and then forget about them for months (while I go to school/work), and then look at them again when I’m on vacation to see if they’re salvageable. None so far have been salvageable. I have dozens of little story projects going on, and I think I should focus on just one, but when I focus on just one, my imagination dies.

Since I’m a failure as a storywriter right now, I like to explore my dreams, because I seem to have plenty of imagination when I dream. I take my dreams very seriously, i.e. when I wake up from a dream worth recording, I spend my whole day returning to the dream-world, trying to remember tiny details and straighten problematic plotlines. I try to stay true to the dreams, i.e. not making stuff up or resolving details when the dream was cut short or when I don’t remember. Some dreams, I write down months after I dreamed it. Geez, am I self-absorbed or what? But no, I like writing about my dreams not because I want to interpret them but because they’re little stories. Maybe over time, I can look back at them, and make them into real stories. Which reminds me—


I am running with a woman who is wearing a red dress. She has long black hair and white, white skin. She is tall and slender. She is so beautiful, and I am mesmerized. We are running along hallways carved exquisitely with birds and trees. When I look at the birds, they take flight and their wings are made of multicolored textiles. A story forms in my mind—there is a man dressed in black robes looking for the woman. He has grey hair and a pale face. Suddenly, we are on a cliff and looking down on a waterfall. I see the glitter of golden scales. The man grabs the woman and makes her look down at the waterfall. I do nothing but watch. The man pushes her off the cliff and she falls, silent. I watch the way her dress ripples as she falls. I am horrified and sad. I say—You murdered her. You are guilty. He looks at me calmly, and I notice how grey his eyes are. He says—Yes, I am guilty. I need to pay for my crime. He walks to the edge of the cliff and falls off. Before he falls away from my sight, his body suddenly curves upward and he is floating, circling me, flying. His flight is joyous. I ask—Why? Why does she die and he lives? The answer comes—Because he has been forgiven. She was too afraid, and that’s why she fell.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sunny Day

It feels nice to have plenty of time to get caught up in my correspondence and to talk again to the people I stopped talking to a year ago. For the first time in a long time, I feel peaceful and in control of my life. A life out of love is swell, like I’m in my mind and heart again. Like I pulled back the pieces of my soul, glued it back together, and shoved it back in my chest. Pretty soon, I’ll be able to see people again and not feel panicky. I’ll see my friends again, and tell them—Yep, I’ve been out of commission for a whole year, been going through some rough times, but I’m ME again. Well, maybe I won’t be able to see my friends again soon—still have some weak moments—but maybe in a few months.

This is the person I like being. Not that love-sick, pathetic other creature. I hate being crippled by my emotions.

We three are sitting outside half in shade and half in sunlight. Me, little sister Kim, and bunny. Bunny is on loan to us for a few weeks—we are bunny-sitting. I will miss bunny when she is gone. She is tawny and feisty, but there are times when she lays quietly in my arms with her head tucked into the crook of my right elbow.

I’m tanning my legs. It’s embarrassing when my legs are so white, they glow. Flies and bright yellow bugs are landing on the white expanses and walking around. Kim is next to me drawing trees, honeycombs, and sunlight. In between some grass blades, the sizeable torso of a worm glistens. Maybe the worm is sunning too? The worm arches its torso, and I wonder what would happen if I slice it perfectly in half. A fly has landed on the heel of my right foot. The calluses on my heel make it strange to watch the fly walk along the side of my foot.

In the distance, bees are hovering, dashing down from flower to flower. The fly walks nearer my big toe. I flex my foot. The fly doesn’t mind. The ice cream truck is making its rounds—absolutely stupid music—a few trumpet blasts every few seconds. Most annoying. Tawny bunny is feasting on strawberry leaves. Kim and I stand up and play kick ball. Every time I glance over at bunny, she glances at us between the strawberry leaves.

A red-breasted bird hops about on the grass. Should I tell bird about fat worm? I think not. The shadows of larger birds pass overhead. The trees are dancing in the breeze. Sounds like the pitter patter of gentle rain. The sunlight sparkling on the leaves makes me think that it’s a party and the trees are waltzing with each other.

There’s so much life in a trailer park on a warm summer day.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Loss of True Love

Two weeks ago, my aunt’s husband passed away. They had been married for thirty-nine years. They were truly, deeply in love. He had a stroke, lost consciousness, and never woke up again. No chance to say good-bye. My aunt was inconsolable—her husband once said that if she died, he would die too—he would not know what else to do. My aunt feels the same way.

Two years ago, I was corresponding with my aunt, and then I stopped—because I was too lazy, too sad, too busy, too self-absorbed maybe. I have never spoken to my aunt on the phone—only ever wrote her letters. My mother went to Los Angeles for one week, and during that time, she called me twice, telling me that my aunt would like to talk to me on the phone. I refused. Why? I was selfish. I was too scared. I was too concerned about myself. Even though I didn’t know my uncle well, I feel for my aunt. I regret my inability to offer comfort—I regret, I regret so much. My mother told me yesterday that my aunt would like a letter from me because it would comfort her.

I finally wrote my aunt a letter tonight, trying to offer comfort, feeling with each word I wrote that everything I said was inadequate. Such a loss—the loss of true love—there is no comfort someone else can offer. My mother told me that when my aunt is home alone—in the home where once she shared with the love of her life—she walks around, calling for her husband, wishing that if he had become a ghost, he would come back to her.

The only thing that I could think to offer to such loss was my own loneliness. I have never known true love, and I cannot imagine the devastation such a loss would cause. I’ve made a promise that I’ll write her a letter every week, no matter how busy, how depressed, how wretched I am. It is going to be difficult to write those letters.

If I were a character in a fairy tale, I would be the hard and bitter old witch, sitting in my tower room, brewing my potions, reading my spell books, weaving dark spells. I have spent my life avoiding people, because I always get hurt when I get too close. Something always goes wrong, and each time something does go wrong, the deep and dark forest around my witch’s hut becomes more and more impassable. Loneliness becomes my bad addiction. It becomes my way of life. It is so difficult to care about someone else.

A year ago, a friend told me that my life would be guided by love. Of course I laughed bitterly—I’m chained to love, more like it. I’m addicted to love. Most of the novels I read each year are love stories. The stories I tell myself before I go to sleep are all love stories. The stories I write are all love stories. The most bittersweet dreams I have—the ones that I dare not write about—are all dreams of love. Every year, I tell myself—it’s over, no more of this pathetic letting-love-guide-your-life nonsense. Find something else. Let ambition guide your life. Or the quest for knowledge. Or hope for peace. Or your need to understand religion. Anything but love. I tell myself—living like this—longing for love, hoping for love—this way of living will kill you. If I knew which part of my brain is love, I would cut it out, with no regrets whatsoever. I would cut it out and throw it away. That may seem harsh, but I know—surely as I know anything about myself—that my cyclic bouts of depression are because of unrequited love. Every time I fail in my quest for love, I shut down—I lose the ability to function, I lose the will to live. My emotional stability is pathetic. My loneliness becomes a monster crawling inside my mind.

That is why I fear writing to my aunt. For only one precious month so far this year, I have not suffered because of love. I have been free of hope, of fear, of desire for love. I have been functioning like a normal human being. I have been okay, and I have been feeling that I will be okay forever because I know my weakness, I have made the same mistake too many times, and I am stronger than this sick need for love. I feel like I am being tested. Am I strong enough to write to my aunt and hear her stories about her true love? Am I strong enough to offer comfort, even when I feel awful, just plain awful, that my aunt, who has suffered so much in her life, has just endured the worst loss in her life? I think I am. I am so angry, so sick, so freakin’ bitter about the way love makes me feel that I think I am strong enough. I am strong enough on the strength of my negative feelings. If it helps to be a bitter, hard, lonely old witch, then by Thunder, I will gladly take on this persona. Am I closing myself off to love? Yes. Yes. Love belongs in my stories and my imagination, but longing for it in real life is akin to seeking my own death.

[Self-Commentation: Whew, I seem to be having a bad day. Where’s my sense of humor today?? Actually, it’s a relief to write all this out, because that’s really how I have been feeling for three years—been too afraid to admit these things to myself, I suppose. The truth surely hurts, and I hope my sense of humor is back tomorrow.]

I was watching a lesbian movie—two women in the desert loving each other. I think—must be Desert Hearts, and it is. I am watching the movie with my mother and wondering why because there is a lesbian love scene and I don’t want my mother to see it. I leave, hoping my mother will leave too, and she does. I go to the bathroom, and the floor is covered with seaweed, and the toilet is gross, as though it has flooded with the ocean. I try to fix the toilet. I lift it, and it is suddenly cleaved into two perfect pieces, and the water in the top portion collapses onto the floor when I touch it. [Dream time shifts] My father is with me, and he asks—Do you want to see where I hide my things? It is the safest place in the world. We drove into violent white rushing water, and my father opens his car door. Somehow, we are not soaked by the water. I cannot feel the water. He reaches into the water and I can suddenly see into another car. There is another car under the flood waters and it is locked into place. My father looks at me and says—This is the safest place I could find. I look at his treasures and I see old, ragged, tattered books, carefully placed on a makeshift shelf hammered on the dashboard. How sad, I think, these are all he has, and they will be swept away. This place is not safe.

She said she had come from another world to release the animals. I said, cool, because I liked all the animals, loved to go down to the zoo, gawked like everyone else, and yet felt a little bit of pity for these wild creatures locked in cages. So I took her down to the zoo and showed her the animals. She was fascinated, but I knew these were not the right animals. I had shown her the wrong kinds of animals. She was waiting for me to see the world, truly, so she made me look into darkness, into mirrors. She put pieces of glass near the window and made me look at them as the sun colored them, but I saw nothing. I took her to see fireworks, and the strangest thing happened when the first burst of light took place—everything stopped. The sparks in the sky stopped, frozen, like the outlines of a glowing umbrella above our heads. I told her—let it go, let everything go, it is alright, the fire is harmless. She let go and the fire in the sky fell, glittering, and disappeared around our shoulders. All I can say is—the fireworks were weird that night—they pulsed and stilled and flared strangely, a strange pattern like a creature breathing, and I turned to the woman next to me, and saw them reflected in the expression of her eyes. I felt as though I was looking into her mind, falling, like those sparks of fire falling from the sky. She wanted me to trust her mind. She wanted me to follow her, and we went back into the caves, deeper and deeper. At some point, she turned off our flashlights, and for awhile, we stood still in the darkness and breathed next to each other. But I couldn’t help it, and I began to cry in terror. Trust me, she said. I told her, I trust you, but I don’t trust the dark. But I knew, I could not escape, because after all, she is the dark.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I am trying to pick up our tawny rabbit. I reach one hand under its chest and lift while my other hand curls around its hind-quarters. [Dream time shifts] There is a university where the official flag is two black crossed blades on a background of red. There is a trial going on for the local superhero. He is not in disguise. He wins his case and now there is a long row of cars—rich college kids in their jaguars, corvettes, porsches. They are all ready to race and at the far end is our superhero masked and dressed in red. Everyone is laughing at his car, a red toy car which encases the lower half of his body. As the race is about to begin, his car vibrates, time-shifting quickly and its edges are no longer definable [Dream time shifts] Couples are trying to pirouette, where pirouette is two partners, the ballerino holding the ballerina to his side, his arms wide and flipping her upside-down and around. One couple is having an especially difficult time because the ballerina is too heavy. The superhero comes up to them and asks the ballerina—what are you going to do about it? The ballerino becomes violent and takes her away to another room. There is screaming. [Dream time shifts] I am in a bathroom. There are two books on the floor. One of them is Wild Child. I go into the next room and it is a library. I look around and it is my high school library—I look around and I see my high school best friend—the librarian. She has grey hair and she is smiling, serene and happy to see me after all these years. I’ve missed her so much and I have so much to tell her . . . [Dream time shifts] There is an Asian guy and he is trying to poison our tawny rabbit. We are sitting around watching him. He grins at us and puts his hand in the rabbit’s bowl of water, flicking the water around. He takes out a bottle and pours green fluid into the rabbit’s food bowl. He is still grinning at us. My father comes into the room and nods.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I didn’t go to sleep until 7:00 AM this morning. Before I went to sleep, I packed for the bus trip at 1:30 PM, emptied the fridge, and took out the trash—listening to PokerFace all the while. When I opened the front door, lunging upwards of fifty pounds of filth, I looked over and saw a raccoon, about the size of a small dog. It had seen me half a second before I had locked eyes with it.

There’s a six foot tall reddish brown wooden fence surrounding our row of townhouses—no way to climb or dig a hole quickly.

The raccoon, utterly shy and panicky, kept glancing my way as it clawed and pushed at the fence, as though by the sheer force of its jumpiness, it could scale the heights. Of course fascinated, I stood there gripping the trash bags, wondering how to offer it choice pieces of refuse. Raccoon finally gave up on the wall and—I don’t know how else to describe this—sneaked towards the side of the end-townhouse. It wasn’t scurrying. It was sneaking, as though by putting itself into sneak mode, it would render its body invisible to my human eyes.

I went on my way, walking towards the other end of the townhouses, towards the parking lot where the dumpster sits on one corner. Now, I despise lunging trash to the dumpster, so I was looking around, trying to entertain myself, thinking—ah, the magnolias are still in bloom, a bit brown around the petal edges, but still deeply pink . . . hmm, my violet irises are all dead, stupid darn lawn mower guy plowed into them . . . yellow irises are still looking lively, better water them before I leave . . . darn stupid college kids and their parties, looks like beer cans everywhere, gotta complain one of these days . . . here we go, almost ther—Holy moley!!—

Remember Raccoon? Seems like its target, before I interrupted its peaceful dawn prowling, was the same dumpster where I was headed. I, burdened by the heaviest trash bags on earth, was slow enough to intercept it as it made its way around the end-townhouse and through six backyards and towards me. I don’t know who was more shocked. Raccoon recovered sooner and scurried under a hole in the wooden fence. I blinked a few times, dumped my trash, went back inside, sat for awhile thinking about Raccoon, and finally collapsed into bed.

I like raccoons. I know they bite, and they’re dirty, and they’re trash-pickers, but so am I when I’m in my natural state. If I could talk to a raccoon, I know it would understand me. There’s something indescribably appealing about the way a raccoon looks at you. Maybe it’s the bandit eyes, but that doesn’t account for how it can express embarrassment and shyness with its whole body.

Two years ago, when I was still living in an apartment complex on the edge of campus, one day, I was crossing the street, and there was a large raccoon crossing the street—crossing a busy, busy street, with cars honking and dozens of college kids everywhere. It was a beautiful raccoon, very large—size of a large dog, and finest fluffy tail I have ever seen. The poor dear was obviously scared out of its wits. It looked like it was surprised to discover itself in such circumstances and that all of us were being inexpressibly rude by gawking at it. It was ambling sideways, or maybe moving diagonally—imagine a large creature trying to glance on all sides—trying to keep its eyes on everyone as it tries to also move in one direction—hopefully a direction away from everyone. Also, if you please, imagine a ballet dancer—a large, furry, overweight ballet dancer—slowly trying to pirouette, but not succeeding, and so trying again and again. Or maybe imagine a furry train falling off its tracks and skidding sideways . . . It was the most painful, awkward gait I have ever seen. I don’t remember what happened to Raccoon-Crossing-the-Street. I was too busy cataloging its expression.

Raccoons look the way I imagine I do when I’m caught leaning on my tiptoes with my two arms dug deeply in a dumpster.

Friday, May 15, 2009

John Donne

I had my last final today at 8:00 AM. I was exhausted until three hours ago, when I napped, woken up thirty minutes ago by thunder and rain. When you open your eyes to a darkened blue room, your mind groggy, and the rain is pounding away incessantly, it feels like the world is drowning. I am now refreshed, ready to listen to music for the next 12 hours, take my heart out, lay it on my sleeve, and write.

Good news! There is an ant next to my keyboard. My sister cooked yellow cake yesterday, so there are plenty of crumbs. Have at it, ant!

I will be going to my parents’ home tomorrow and staying there for three weeks until summer school starts. Two nutritional science classes this summer. My father is also interested in this stuff, so I hope I get some interesting tidbits to tell him. Next school year will mark my sixth year on my journey to get my undergraduate English/Science degrees. As of now, it will be my last year. I will walk next May. Most of the time, I feel like a loser for being in college for so long. And what have I learned all these years? Sometimes, though, I know I am in the right place. This is the only place where I can explore all my options.

How about some English Renaissance poetry from my final this morning? These dead dudes—Shakespeare, Donne, Milton—they were all interested in only two things: love and death. If they weren’t moaning about unrequited love, they were tearing their hair out about the fact that we all return to dust. Most of them weren’t kind to women. For example, dear, dear John Donne had this to say:

Hope not for the mind in women; at their best
Sweetness and wit, they’re but mummy, possessed.

~Love’s Alchemy

My reply: Well, excuse us if we seem a tad bit embalmed while in your delightful company. Perhaps it’s because of your very witty conversation that makes us want to have our brains sucked out of our nose holes and encased safely in a jar. The Good Lord preserve us from the likes of your wit.

Donne on women’s fidelity:

Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.


My reply: Huh, so all women are whores, are they? Well, God bless them for enjoying themselves with two, or three lovers at a time. Can’t stand a little orgy, can we? I like nothing better than a woman with a ravenous appetite.

Donne using peer pressure to get a woman naked in bed:

To teach thee, I am naked first; why then
What need’st thou have more covering than a man?

~Elegy 19: To His Mistress Going to Bed

My reply: Why? Why? Well, you’re kind of desperate, aren’t you, if you’re willing to bare that hideously puny thing!

About Donne: So, he ran away with his true love, married her, and during the sixteen years of their marriage, proceeded to impregnate her twelve times! Twelve. As my sister Christine would say—ouch. Did she ever leave her bed? And guess how she died. In childbirth. Surprised, anyone? Couldn’t put the darn thing away, could we? What’s interesting is that after her death, Donne, for all his vast sexual appetites, swore off women and turned to God. He then proceeded to write his Holy Sonnets. Let’s take a look at one:

Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

~Holy Sonnet #10

For those of you confused, me is Donne and you is God. Huh. Seems like he wants to be raped by God. Or, if not that, to have very, very good sex with God. Donne seems to be a bit of a sado-masochist, especially since earlier in the poem, he wants God to o’erthrow me, and bend / Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.

My reply: So that’s why you turned to God! Well, Donne, old boy, if you got into Heaven, then by all means try to seduce God. God knows, God needs a little relaxation away from all his ruling and everything. But I warn you, if your dear wife got into Heaven too, she won’t take kindly to your infidelity! What’s that? Til death do you part? Okay, okay, fine, but don’t come complaining to me when she hurls your ass down to Hell.

I’m just poking good fun at Donne. If my humor’s a little offensive, I blame South Park. Donne’s a good poet. Gave us some of the best lines about love:

Twice or thrice had I loved thee,
Before I knew thy face or name

~Air and Angels

I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?

~The Good Morrow

This one’s for us queers; the [Blah, blah, blah] are skipped lines; however, let’s pretend that the [Blah, blah, blah] are the idiot Prop 8 people and let’s imagine that Donne is speaking for us:

For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love,
[Blah, blah, blah]
Alas, alas, who’s injured by my love?
[Blah, blah, blah]
Call us what you will, we are made such by love.
[Blah, blah, blah]
We can die by it, if not live by love.
[Blah, blah, blah]
And thus invoke us: You whom reverend love
Made one another’s hermitage
[place of refuge];
You, to whom love was peace, that now is rage;
Who did the whole world’s soul contract, and drove
Into the glasses [lenses] of your eyes.

~The Canonization

The last five lines are confusing, so here’s my take on it: You who revere the power of love, you made refuges for each other and for your love. If you can love with deep passion, if you can understand what love is, how can you not understand us? How can our love enrage you, when we too love with as deep passion and reverence as you do? Look into our eyes and you will see the whole world’s soul reflected back at you. Look into our eyes and you will see the grief and violence you have created reflected back at you.

[Sigh] Thinking about Prop 8 has made me blue.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Before my sister set poison, our townhouse was crawling with ants. Set out a cup with residual soda in it and minutes later, there are ants crawling all over it. Set out a cup of water, and minutes later, all the ants in the vicinity have decided to go swimming. And just because the ants are floating still on top of the water does not mean that they’re dead.

I kinda miss them.

Ants would crawl around on my desk. During my morose, listless moods, I would sprinkle bread crumbs across my desk and watch the ants lug the crumbs around in their orderly little lines. Sometimes, there would be an ant crawling on the page I was reading, and when I needed to turn the page, I would have an unholy need to slam the book on the ant, but I never gave into my killer instinct, and more often than not, I would not turn the page and just reread, which is not a bad option if the book is good and I want to linger on the anticipation.

Sometimes, (well, quite a few times really) I would carry a few ants around in my bag. I would take my books out during class or at work and see the ant crawl out and crawl across the table. Now, when ants are a common sight to you, and you are so used to being friendly to them for so long, you can forget that squishing ants is an automatic human habit. At work one day, after I reached into my bag to get a pen, and saw an ant crawling along the length of it, I placed it gently on the table—on the table where two other tutors (I tutor) were sitting too. I set it gently down and thought—how about you go play while I finish writing this sentence. The ant crawled across my paper and I gently brushed it toward the center of the table, thinking—no, no, honey, go play. A few seconds later, I see the tutor across from me slam down her hand really hard and sweep it quickly off the table. I said (or yelled quietly, since this was the library)—Noo!! You killer! You killed my ant! I explained, but I guess my explanation sounded a little crazy, because she felt no remorse.

Sometime, when I get annoyed, I flick the ant away, and imagine the ant flying away on wings of glory. My sister, in her ant-killing craze, would stand next to my desk and squish my ants. No! I usually cry in alarm, My desk is an island of refuge! Get your killer hands away!!

Ants aren’t bad. They bite, but—this sounds gross, but it works—I lick the bite and it disappears in a few hours. It really works. For mosquito bites too. Hey, cats and dogs and other animals with tongues lick themselves better. Why can’t Homo sapiens? I’m not stupid enough to lick myself if I have a gun shot wound, but for bites, there’s no harm in licking myself better.

I need to go steal some ants from an ant hill, because our townhouse is sadly ant-free right now.

My Chem Professor

He actually makes chem interesting. I’ll miss him. Every few lectures, he would have a “Tidbit” about something real-world related to the chemical reaction we were studying. He’s discussed Viagra, fake sugar packages, chemicals bees give off, the chemicals plants give off, how coal causes cancer, how ultraviolet light causes cancer, why it’s not a good idea to eat the chemicals you make when you’re a grad student. He often ends his Tidbits with—Well, there you have it. If you can find the answer to [whatever chemical problem is puzzling chemists], then I assure you that you wouldn’t have to worry about another paycheck ever again. You would be so filthy rich. And you know what? You can find the answer with everything you’ve been learning in this class. Think about it! Someone among you is going to someday find the answer. And you will do it all with what you learned here in sophomore chemistry. Let me tell you, if I figured out this chemical reaction, I would not be coming back tomorrow. Sometime, he talks about the chemical reactions that plants or animals can perform in their bodies that we can’t figure out in our labs. For example, the bees—These stupid little bees can do this reaction in a few seconds. They can do it without thinking. And chemical laboratories with machines and money at their disposal, they can’t do it. They can’t figure it out. It’s impossible! We’re so smart, and no matter what we do, we can’t do what the stupid bees can do.

He is quite hilarious. He puts me on the edge of hilarity quite a few times. He has deep grey eyes, grey hair streaked with white, but he is not old. His language and manners of expression are youthful. When I go to chem lectures, I often feel like an old hag—chemistry makes me feel tired, like I have to lug around the weight of all the chemicals and reactions I have to memorize.

I wish I could feel as excited and enthusiastic about chem as he does. He often wears colored T-shirts tucked into a pair of jeans. He walks with his belly slightly leading him. Or his chest puffed out. It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. You get used to his manner of striding around. He doesn’t have a beer belly, just a slight bulge that lets me know he enjoys eating, fun nights out, etc. When he lectures, he writes on the chalkboard, and he uses a HUGE piece of yellow chalk. That piece of chalk is half the size of my wrist! His own words—I love chalk! I will probably die with a piece of chalk in my hand. I’ll probably be buried with a piece of chalk. His hand must be really strong and flexible if he can write so quickly with that huge piece of chalk. And he writes fast. It’s incredible how fast he writes. He also talks really fast. He’s always misplacing the blackboard eraser, and he would stride back and forth quickly looking for one of them. Then after he has found an eraser and erased the board, he glances over at his other hand and says—I’ve been holding the eraser in my hand all this time! I give up! When he makes a mistake on the board, and a student points it out, and he doesn’t see the mistake, and the student points out the mistake, and he still doesn’t see the mistake, and more students keep pointing out the mistake, and he finally sees the mistake, he turns to us, throws his eraser in the air really high (not at us) and says—I give up!

He’s got a lot of self-confidence when he stands up there. He also has a lot of restless energy. He’s a cool geek, the kind of geek that makes you say to yourself—Gosh darn, if I have to be a geek, that’s the kind of geek I wanna be.


I should be studying for my poetry final on Friday, but I don’t want to. It’s storming outside. My desk is in our dining area, pushed back against a window, which I open sometimes when it’s dark and I’m writing. The pitter-patter of rain is soothing. The rumbles of thunder are . . . ominous. A nice kind of ominous, because I know I am safe. Depression has been on my mind lately, because for the first time in three months, I feel like I’m not depressed.

My symptoms of depression: can’t get up before noon, shun the world, hide away from friends, no energy, no incentive to do anything, always feel like I’m on the edge of tears. I give up. I do not pursue Death, but if she did come for me and kissed me on the lips, I would not mind. I would lay down my pen, fold my hands demurely, and say, Ah, so you are indeed my one and only true love. I should have guessed it. All right then, let us dance away to thy kingdom of sweet oblivion. Or some such nonsense. I should say that when I am depressed, I don’t write. When my depression is on remission, one of the first things that happen is that I write. Hence, I’ve been writing a lot lately. Also, the tiny humorous tone of some of my sentences lets me know I still have a sense of humor. My writing is what lets me know that I am returning from my half-death. Years ago, I thought, ignorantly, that admitting to myself my love for women would mean an end to my cyclic bouts of depression, but no, I’ve realized that my depression is a constant companion, waiting for me. See that shadow behind the door? Yes, that’s her. She is a sorceress and her spells are lethal. Will I ever find the antidote to her poison? I don’t know. I don’t take pills, I don’t go to counseling, I don’t do anything to try to break the vicious cycle. Coward? Yes. Also, I have a sense that I don’t want to bother anyone with my problems. Comes from my Asian culture.

Hmm, how to describe my depression? How about a story? There is a dead squirrel on a mound of dirt along the path I walk to the bus stop. The first time I saw it, perhaps a month ago, it was freshly dead, sprawled on its back with chubby belly to the sky. Its arms and legs and fluffy tail sprawled wide, spread eagled, like, if it were human, it had drunk itself to the final stupor, laid down on this side of the road, and given itself up. Last, but not least, just before death, it had shat on itself. There was a wide black spot on its nether regions. You might say at this point in the story—Oh, how tragic! You buried it, right? Well, no. Maybe a heroine in my imagination might weep over it and give it a touching funeral, but I am nothing sentimental. Over these few weeks, I have watched the squirrel decay. First, the black area on its nether regions widened until there was a black hole. Look closer at that black hole and you would see things crawling around, feasting. In the first week, the golden brown fur was lustrous. It was beautiful in life, I’ll bet. April showers have pummeled it for weeks, and the fur has slowly lost its sheen. Its chubby body then became thinner and thinner, until its carcass was flat, its shape lost. Then, one day recently, its face was gone. Not eaten off or decapitated. No, just gone, like it had never had a face in the first place.

Well, this is what my depression feels like. Like I’m road kill, just unconsciously laying there while small creatures chew on my insides until there’s nothing left. There are days when I’ve felt like I’ve lost my face, my identity, my deepest Self. And just like death for some creatures, depression comes on suddenly, for no reason, no explanations, and there’s no way to prepare myself. Every time I pass by that squirrel, I am reminded of how precarious a life spent with depression is.

Well, I think that’s enough morbidity for one night. My depression is over. For now. The next step is a fun, delightful step: I need to remember how to be happy.

Chem Final

Today, I had my organic chemistry exam at 8:00 AM. And guess what time I was able to drift off to sleep? 4:00 AM-ish. I couldn’t sleep because I screwed my internal clock by doing what I enjoy best: reading, watching movies, eating, laying around daydreaming—doing all of these between midnight and dawn, which arrives at 5:00 AM-ish. Which means I end up sleeping until 2:00 PM, which means the whole vicious cycle continues into the next night, which makes me feel like a failure.

After three hours of fitful sleep, I wake up so groggy that I am almost weepy. I was also panicky—the “I wish I had one more day to stuff my head with chemical reactions that don’t make sense anyway” panicky.

I go in, sit down, and I don’t remember much of what I studied. And there’s 14 pages to the exam. Good news, though. While I was studying late into the night, I was listening to Lady GaGa’s PokerFace over and over again. I listened to acoustics, instrumental, vocal, and radio versions. I can listen to Pokerface for two hours at a time. So for the two hours of the exam, my analytical skills were reduced to: Hmm, which sugar-sugar linkage is 1, 2 Beta? Let’s see, glucose P-p-p-pokerface, P-p-p-pokerface Okay, okay, the linkage is obviously horizontal, so is it option A or maybe [Clenching my teeth] Can’t read my Can’t read my No he can’t read my pokerface. Ah! No, the oxygen bond is over here! Is that even glucose? Maybe it’s fructose?? P-p-p-pokerface, P-p-p-pokerface! Gosh darn frickin’ chem! la-la-la Russian roulette is not fun without a gun. With my muffin! With my muffin! Gosh, how does it go? Okay, what about option five? Let’s see Mum mum mum mah Mum mum mum mah. ARGH!! The linkage looks okay. It’s Beta and there’s the two connection. Looks stupid, but the stupid one is always the answer. Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh [Deep breath] The answer is option five! She's got to love nobody She's got to love nobody . . . Gosh darn it, it better be five.

All this to say, I got a good enough grade on the chem final that I’ll pass with a C and won’t be kicked out of college! All thanks to Lady GaGa for keeping me company during the final.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My English Professor Who Makes Me Feel Like A Fool

He has cold blue eyes. He pronounces his opinions decidedly. He sees the weak arguments. He is kind, but a condescending kindness, which lets me know that he is lowering himself to be kind to me. It is amazing to listen to him speak, because his words sour, sore, soar, which makes me want to tell him that I understand, my intellect and spirit understands what he says about humanity. I tried, but his sharp intellect sees nothing reasonable in what I say. He has white hair, a white beard, a long face. When I am not in his presence, I think about his teeth and I think that he has very bad teeth, brown and croaked, crooked, but I do not know. When I see him again, the rest of him makes his teeth unnoticeable. He is impatient with stupidity. He makes me want to utter eloquence, and I am ashamed when I can’t speak a good, reasonable sentence. I want to discover revolutionary ideas about the nature of humanity. Instead, I stumble and discover inadequate thoughts. I discover the ragged holes in my mind. I discover how stupid I am. He makes me want to go back and relearn everything. He makes us laugh, from the horror of what he says, because how he dared to tell us how stupid we were, how stupid other people are. He’s not making fun of others from spite, he recognizes the funny. He makes us laugh out loud the laughter he feels inside, about how poor the English Department is, how beautiful the life sciences building, Once, when a student asked how he was, he answered that there were ants crawling in the drains of his office.

He shares new ideas, shows us the clarity of his mind, because I can see how new pieces of knowledge fits within the vaults of his mind, rich treasure indeed, his mind. How sad that he is not able to stoop, make his opinions more palatable. He is too honest, his standards are so high, how could I like him, when I am raised to be deferential, to hide my thoughts, especially when I think rudely and meanly. It is refreshing and frightening to hear clear thoughts. I cannot look straight into his eyes, because I feel blinded, his intelligence is frightening.

My mind has been raised by women, who teach me demurely, and they cannot tell me about that unemotionally, strict force. I am so used to thinking with my emotions, letting my thoughts pitter patter, shallow, unrestricted. And even then, that’s not right either. Water, falling from a great height, plunges faster and faster, and does that not mean also that the drop hits forcefully?

I have too much romanticism, too much wide-eyed wonder, and so I throw all my hopes together, obsess endlessly, think myself happy because I am so alive and I anticipate so much, that the fall from hope is unbearable. My character is molded by disappointment and I seem to always be losing bits of the future.

Lady GaGa

People call her scary, insane, psycho. How can I not love her extravagance, sheer individuality? Underneath that makeup and those clothes, I have an idea that she is ordinary. Long face, long nose. Regular face. Nice voice. And then, she makes a wig, a personality, a new self for herself. She makes herself so unique and so grand that I cannot help but think her beautiful.

Watch the first few seconds of Pokerface. She rises like Venus from the water, but she is in black and she is masked, hiding her eyes behind sparkles. She rises and then she crouches like a tiger and you know she is no Venus. She dances with one hard, widespread, ready to move in front of her face, move away. Her hand like a flashing fan, here and away.

She wears costumes. She is her costumes. Her costumes are like armor. They can call her names and the names slide off her armor. She says she is a commentary on people who want fame. She is a commentary on herself.