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feeling like a real writer at YALLSTAYHOME a.k.a. YALLWest

I have not felt more at home than I did this past weekend during YALLSTAYHOME. It is normally called YALLWest and would have taken place at Santa Monica, but due to the coronavirus, it became YALLSTAYHOME in the format of several consecutive Zoom meetings. Attendees could pick and register for the specific meeting they wanted to attend and registration could include entering to win some of the fun book giveaways if so desired. YALLWest is the sister festival to YALLFest and both festivals are celebrations of the reading and writing world, with a focus on YA authors. I registered for as many panels I was interested in, but due to my schedule, I was not able to attend all the ones I registered for. However, cross my fingers that because I registered, later I will get a link to each recorded session. Hoping for the best here, guys!

Anyway, the whole festival ran from Friday, April 24 – Sunday, April 26 and here are the panels I registered for: Fierce Friday: Create Your Own Fantasy Story, I Read YA@Home, Opening Ceremony + Keynote, Creativity in the Time of Corona, Modern Magic Worldbuilding, This American Experience, PM Keynote with Brandon Sanderson, YALLSTAYHOME Smackdown, Suckage is Part of Writing, Remember High School?, and Writing Empathy. There were so many others as well that I did not register for just because I did not have room in my schedule! There were so many authors there including Marie Lu, Julie Buxbaum, Leah Johnson, Marisa Kanter, Bill Konigsberg, Alex London, Samuel Miller, Zan Romanoff, Tara Sim, Angie Thomas, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, and F.C. Yee.

I have got to say, I want to read all of their books!! And…I felt like Belle when she opens her eyes for the first time inside Beast’s library. With each panel I learned all about each author’s background and writing journey and in the case of Brandon Sanderson, got to meet his pet macaw as well. With each panel I learned the struggle is real during this pandemic. Many authors feel that it is harder to write staying inside all the time. I learned stuff like you can build a world based off of your main character’s needs and it’s important to write your truth and teens go to novels as a form of escape, some making more friends with the characters in the books than in real life and there is a now a lot more representation from Asian authors to Muslim authors to queer authors to biracial authors. A lot of times someone becomes an author because they weren’t reading books with their race or culture represented, so they became the first to write that representation. That is awesome!

It was also awesome to finally experience the Smackdown. I had read about it beforehand and I really looked forward to it. The Smackdown did not disappoint: Dumbledope and Snape Dog were there for starters, and it kicked off with a Cards Against Humanity type of game and I only just learned how to play this game a couple months ago, pre-coronavirus and a Harry Potter version, no less. Let me tell you there is nothing more LOL than this game. There was another segment a lot like MTV Cribs and then a Pet Roast and finally a dance party at the end. Once coronavirus is over this festival is definitely on my top ten list of places want to go to for real.

Finally, noticing there are a lot more Asian authors out there now made me feel comforted and happy and giddy. I seriously could not stop smiling. Then I noticed how welcoming and inviting and safe these panels were. It didn’t matter what someone’s background was, everyone was open to listening to everyone’s stories and where they came from and how they got into writing. I realized writing = life. There’s going to be racism, suicide, queer life, privileged life, and everything else in between in stories and everyone accepts this as is. Many of the authors mentioned inspiration can come from anywhere and even talked about how writing can get so hard sometimes you end up playing a video game instead of writing sometimes. I could not agree more. I love how relatable each of the panels were and I truly felt right at home. I left the festival with a feeling I’ve known all along and just needed a little reminder: This, reading and writing and talking about reading and writing until the cows come home, is the community I belong in.

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current events ramblings o.0

Well it finally happened. I saw a video on YouTube about the anti-Asian racism that has been going on around the world due to the coronavirus encouraging millennials, especially those of Asian descent, to speak up and do something that is positive with regards to all this hate. As a direct result of watching this video, I now feel compelled to DO SOMETHING. So I’m scribbling away, but I’m not sure how this post is going to end. Wish me luck…

So in America I think this kind of hate is more prevalent in cities in California and New York. So far I am lucky enough I have not experienced it in the Midwest. Cross my fingers I will not. I have read news articles and seen news clips on some of the violence Asians have gone through and I will say I have not been able to watch to the end of the videos. I don’t know if it’s just my personality or what, but I literally don’t have the stomach for witnessing acts of violence. I want to cry before I even finish watching the clips and they are really short videos, so what does that say about me? And this got me thinking of racism in general, not just during this pandemic. One simple question about racism: why?

What I mean is, why does racism even have to exist? It’s the UGH of all questions, at least in YuMin’s mind. >.< I have so many thoughts running through my brain right now on this topic and I know it’s not realistic to share every single grain, BUT I don’t think I can remain silent anymore. Since there are a lot of simpletons out there who care about whose fault something is or how one skin color is obviously more superior to another, let me tell you something. Did it ever occur to you that maybe people are different skin colors because of where they were located geographically in relation to where the sun hits the hardest at the equator? And each person of that location grew up around the natural resources that were already there. Those resources available to them helped to cultivate the unique skills in those people that they can apply to this day. That is why everyone is not only a different race, but different culture, different occupation, different diet, etc. DUH!

As far as the blame game goes, it’s so stupid when used on anything. I don’t care what you believe in, but did it ever occur to you that when you blame someone else, one day you’ll be blamed for something as well? Have you never done anything wrong? No one can say they have never made a mistake or never done anything wrong. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe in. I really don’t know why people don’t just simply treat others the way they would want to be treated like they were taught in kindergarten. Clichés are clichés for a reason, folks.

Again, this does not even begin to scratch the surface of all my thoughts and all that I’m experiencing, but I wanted to throw these coins in the fountain now and see what wishes come to life.

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observe

Mondays are when our trash and recycling pick up happens. It’s easy to watch it happen when you are always at home. I can work and look out the window at the same time when I hear the trucks coming. I can see if they like that I put our trash on top of our recycling to prevent the wind from littering. (So far, the recycling truck picks up the trash bag and tosses it aside before dumping the contents of our recycling bin into the truck. I’m guessing this means they prefer the trash standing on its own, not on top of the recycling bin.) I can pull an Aunt Petunia and see when our neighbors’ trash is put out too late or when the wind starts littering their trash when they put it side by side their recycling bin the night before when Chicago winds gusts through the ‘hood.

I can see all of this and suddenly all I can think about is my ninth grade American Government teacher. He said he is grateful for the government because without it it’d be very stinky in the world and there’d be no mail. Well, just as I can watch the trash pick up every Monday, I can watch the mail carrier every day if I wanted to. He was right. During these uncertain times, I’m truly glad we still have trash pick up and mail. It’s just I hope I haven’t been taking these services for granted and I hope I never do. It’s funny the things we notice now that we are at home all the time.

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Blind Date with a Book

It was a Saturday of course. This particular Saturday was on February 24, 2018. I can’t believe it’s been a little over two years already! I feel blessed now thinking of all the moments I’ve gotten to share with my Nerdy 30s gals. I know I’m still behind in documenting our adventures, but I bet I’ll be able to catch up soon now. I also think if you’re going to go on a blind date, the best option is with a book. It shows up with a story to tell and you can stop it from speaking at any time and pick up where you left off at any time. If you don’t like it you can sell it or gift it to someone who will like it. If you do like it, you’ll be able to discover a new genre and find more like it to read. Win-win.

On this particular blind date, we met at La Bodega. I’m pretty sure it was during brunch hour, not just because I’m looking at the eggs I had, but because this group loves meeting during brunch hour. Don’t ask me how many of us were there. I honestly don’t remember anymore, but if you see the table of books, you’ll see there was a good number of us. La Bodega is a Spanish restaurant known for its tapas. Yummy.

I brought my absolute favorite book of all time, the one that made me fall in love with reading, A Ring of Endless Light. I read this novel for the first time in fifth grade and I remember sneaking it under the covers at night and waking up at 5:00 a.m. to find out what happens next. It was the first book I found out what “couldn’t put down” meant. I am still inspired to this day by this book to keep reading and keep writing. It is an oldie and a goodie.

Since each book is covered in a brown paper wrapping with just the description on the outside, there is no way to know what book you are picking, but of course, you do get to decide based on the words used to describe the content. I ended up with Beloved, a classic, but yet not one I enjoyed. Maybe if I studied it in school it would make it enjoyable to me, but on my own, no. So unfortunately you’re not going to get any words from me about it.

Hey, a blind date doesn’t work out every time, right? At least this one I didn’t have to delete a number or anything…XD…but seriously though, this was a lot of fun and I’m glad I went. I wouldn’t have had my first sangria and I got to go back to a restaurant I like eating at, but don’t get to go too often due to distance. But the best part was getting to get together with my girls and discussing a lot of different books across the board as well as why each book was special to the lady who brought it. Another win-win if you ask me. 😉

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everything in between is missed

Audits. Now there’s a fun word. It’ll set people off like insane overtime the first three months or so of the year for some. That being said, I’m sure many companies require employees to take annual tests that they have to pass to be fully aware of all the companies’ policies, procedures, protocols, and the like, like security training and what have you to be able to stay in business. But all trigger words aside, this workweek I took a security training on phishing, malware, passwords, WiFi security, and the like and it made me think about all the hackers and launderers out there who find it their right to take other people’s hard-earned living right out of their bank accounts. If you have that kind of brain and time on your hands, you have that kind of time to work for your own hard-earned living at something that’s actually legal. Hmph.

It must go back to society’s love for instant gratification. There’s a nod to all the kids who liked to cheat on tests. Why do all the hard work of studying night after night for two whole weeks when you can just show up on the day of the test and copy off of the genius next to you? We have instant noodles with 1,000% sodium because why would you want to go through all the trouble of collecting ingredients, chopping, dicing, spicing and putting all raw edibles into a pot or wok and turn on the stove and cook something that is fresh, to your taste, and not about to cause hypertension or clog your arteries? All for the love of instant gratification. I think the only thing people don’t want instant gratification for is playing video games. What’s the fun in starting a game expecting to encounter dragons and collecting coins and having only three lives and getting eaten by a hippo and all that jazz only to end up at the ultimate level already having skipped over all those obstacles? Nada! That wouldn’t be a very fun game at all.

Yet hackers and launderers exist, oh my! So maybe those things are not all connected, BUT the point is I don’t get why people have to be so evil and selfish like that. Why would you do it? Why would you prey on the innocent? The thing in common with all these scenarios is people like avoiding or skipping all the “boring” parts and going straight to the “fun” parts. The truth is we have to go through all the “boring” parts to get to the “fun” parts to make the “fun” parts worthwhile. But people don’t want to go through the “boring” parts because those parts are boring. A lot of times they are hard to go through and nobody likes difficult tasks unless the payoff at the end is truly rewarding. So it becomes this sickly merry-go-round of working hard vs. reaping the rewards vs. skipping straight to the reaping rewards part.

Every day we wake up and have many decisions to make. Press play. Press stop. Press rewind. Press fast forward if you have to. But whatever you do, don’t press skip.