0

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.

2

a matter of perspective

OK I just got back from the grocery store and it seems to me that America loves their eggs, meat (especially beef), bread, and pasta. But nobody cares about washing their clothes or eating candy. Some have started wearing face masks, while many more have started wearing disposable gloves. Whenever someone coughs, about 10 or so heads turn to look and those 10 or so try to move away. When the cashier asked if I found everything OK, I mention I didn’t get any chicken and he says I have to get here at 7 in the morning if I want chicken. Good to know.

I remember when I was in high school, my dad tried to tell me that I don’t want to stay a cashier in the grocery store for the rest of my life. I know what he was really trying to say: he looks down on those people because his daughter has the potential to do so much more with her life than just be a cashier. Back then I knew what he meant, but I didn’t know what he meant at the same time. Makes sense? Because what does it mean to be just a cashier? Is it because the job itself is not too complicated and anyone with some high school education can do it? Are people who go to college and beyond automatically more respectable or something? Or is it because there’s a class division that is decided by what job you have and cashier is on the low end?

Flash forward to me talking to a friend a few years ago at her house about what he said. She and I both came to the conclusion that we disagreed with my dad. I told her that the cashier in the grocery store might just be the most important person in the world. Well, now here we are. I was right. This You-Know-Who virus sure showed us of Lord Voldemort proportions that if there is no cashier at the grocery store, you don’t get to eat. Well, unless there’s self-checkout. (That is so not the point!) Flash forward a few more years and my dad’s no longer here to tell me what he really thinks. I am in no way trying to paint him as a bad guy. He really did have his reasons for saying about cashiers what he did and probably I am the only one besides my mom who really gets it. All I’m saying is, when all is said and done, there’s nothing wrong with being a cashier at a grocery store.

Image
0

unicorn fabric

c240fb91e8e6ddabc4927d81edb74eaa

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/497507090079543950/

Why are unicorns so special? If you line up a bunch of them together, they start to look the same. Or they are so different you can’t tell anything unique from one unicorn to another that their idiosyncrasies become inscrutable. Thus, they start to look the same. I think anything depreciates in value once it starts to resemble everything else out there. Once you start to see the image of a unicorn everywhere, it doesn’t look that interesting anymore. It becomes too common, too familiar. Think of the very first motor vehicle. That could have been considered a unicorn at one point. But now cars are everywhere so they don’t feel so special anymore. (It still tickles me though that we measure using horsepower, so it’s like the car is the new horse and carriage at one point in time.) For that matter, any new invention is a unicorn at the outset. (Haha, I just referenced my blog here. xD)

I suppose the real appeal of a unicorn is it is imaginary. Images of them are all we have. So we continue to be fascinated by them, trying to imagine all different kinds in all different colors for all different occasions. It seems to me there is nothing else that represents originality and individuality in quite the same way as this one-horned horse. It has been around for a long time, a part of ancient history. That is actually funny now thinking about it because the unicorn has become this symbol of freedom, peace, and magic (at least to me it is) and it’s the only one of its kind. Doesn’t that make you laugh? xD (Or at least chuckle.) I’m sure P. T. Barnum would beg to differ, but I’m not worried about opening up that whole circus of worms. There’s no way for me to research this whole entire planet to prove my point, but I truly believe when you think of anything that stands out, you think of a unicorn.

Or maybe a unicorn is an idea, not even tangible at all (you know what I mean). Something hard to obtain, but once you come up with it, it’s like winning the Super Bowl. And that pivotal “Eureka!” moment equals The Unicorn. It is not easily defined, though easily to picture in the mind, so the unicorn has become that thing that is so close, yet so far, and in the end, maybe that’s what makes it so special.

0

a short essay on the good girl/bad boy combo

Mothers of good girls will never understand why their daughters are attracted to bad boys. Mothers of bad boys will perpetually understand why their sons are attracted to good girls. The good girl/bad boy combo makes me think of Jess and Rory and Landon and Jamie. It didn’t quite work out between the first couple, but it worked out for the second couple. That’s because Landon changed. Jess didn’t. The bad boy must eventually turn good to keep a good girl. Lorelai never approved of Jess, but she let her daughter make her own mistakes. Luke, albeit not Jess’ mother, approved of Rory and even encouraged the relationship, believing she will be a good influence on his bad boy nephew. I’d say she was, considering he eventually became the one ex-flame who could set her straight whenever she strayed from her good girl path. When she dropped out of Yale, he came to visit her and call her out. When she lost her journalism gigs, he told her to write a book about something she’s passionate about.

Meanwhile you’ve got Jamie’s father who absolutely did not approve of Landon and Landon’s mother asking him to be careful with Jamie since she was the Reverend’s daughter. Because of who Jamie was, Landon changed and told his mother so when she found his little piece of paper that had a big dream on it to get into medical school. Landon changed so much he became the miracle Jamie wanted to witness and only then did the Reverend accept him for who he was. Clearly, opposites attract, but don’t last unless one of the opposites changes to be like the other opposite.

0

Hilary Duff in “According to Greta”

7j60

https://gifer.com/en/7J60

Hilary Duff is not exactly mesmerizing like Lindsay Lohan. But her Greta character really pulled me in. I don’t remember ever being as obvious as her when I was 16, but once again, I can relate to how she feels in a world “According to Greta.” I think Greta works for Hilary Duff because she’s so opposite of Lizzie McGuire and you don’t expect Hilary Duff to play someone like Greta. When you have low expectations, results turn out better. I didn’t expect her to play someone so troubled she wants to kill herself, so when she did it well, I really appreciated her performance as the work of art it was. Her clothes, her hair, her make-up, and her attitude all came together nicely to play a convincing suicidal girl. There was more to her character than just a girl contemplating ending her life. Those thoughts rarely come from nothing. When you find out more about her life, you begin to get inside her head, but at the same time feel bad for her. It’s funny both Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff ended up in movies with moms and grandmoms who send unruly daughters away to deal with their rebellious teenaged girls. Greta writes in a notebook and I immediately gravitate towards anyone who does that. Her thoughts she shares makes her accessible in a way you can understand her. The story itself delivers a good message: suicide affects those around you the most. People can only try to save you so much. If you kill yourself you hurt the people who love you the most. In the end only you can save you. Besides worrying about you, the people that love you have a lot of their own troubles to worry about. It’s not necessary to make others prove to you that they care about you by risking their lives to save you. Oh, and one more thing. If I had Greta as my waitress, I would request to be seated in her section every time as well.

1

Lindsay Lohan in “Georgia Rule”

georgia-rule-georgia-rule-32604948-500-210

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/georgia-rule/images/32604948/title/georgia-rule-fanart

My history of art professor taught me the meaning of mesmerized. The word came from a guy named Mesmer and right now I cannot think of exactly what she said he did, but it looks like his name has something to do with the spelling. There was also a painting she showed us with some guy who had a look on his face like he was in a trance or something. That’s the kind of feeling I get about Lindsay Lohan. I think ever since I saw her in “The Parent Trap,” I have been at least a little bit fascinated with her. It may have something to do with her being born exactly one day after me. It doesn’t matter. What matters is I can relate to her and she is talented. She is a talented actress and not such a bad singer as well. “Georgia Rule” was made during a time in my life when I really needed a story like it and I was mesmerized watching Lindsay Lohan’s performance. I’m not going to say I can relate to everything in this story. There’s no way. But the biggest thing I can relate to is Rachel’s need to rebel at her age. Her grandmother reminds me of my mother, and for that matter, Asian mothers in general. At her age I would not have had the lady balls to try to seduce the local vet, perform oral sex on someone else’s boyfriend, let alone someone else’s Mormon boyfriend, and go through child molestation by my stepfather. I feel for Rachel even though I have never gone through the same trauma. She is like all of us—someone who wants to be understood and loved by someone she can do the same for right back. To be honest, I don’t think I could have done what she did at any age, but because of the kind of broken girl she was playing, I can see why she did what she did. It doesn’t excuse her behavior, but by the end of the movie I think I’m in love with Georgia’s granddaughter as well.

2

Yes, guys, believe it or not, in this world post-Florida shooting, there is still some good left…

The other day I was driving home from work and I stopped behind some cars at a stoplight. I saw a guy pointing at the car next to him, as if to get the driver-of-the-car-he-was-pointing-to’s attention. I had no idea what this was about, but I kept my eyes on him, hoping to find out. He waited a second, but realizing the driver wasn’t going to get his message, got out of his vehicle and walked to the car he was pointing to and shut the trunk of that car. I didn’t even notice the trunk was open, but I did notice the guy after that random act of kindness. I got chills, like they were reminding me there is still some good left in the world. I drove behind him for a few more blocks, then another car butted in and then I wasn’t behind that guy anymore. I don’t know his name and I don’t really know what he looks like. But I don’t think I will ever forget him.

I can’t even tell you why this moment stood out so much to me. I’m sure lots of people all over the world are doing acts of kindness. Maybe it’s because of the timing of all the shootings happening lately. Maybe it’s my PMS. Who really knows? The news reports mostly bad things going on in the world, but often misses the good. When I witness something good like this it’s like I’m good-shocked or something. So much so the right words to describe it fail me…like right now…but no matter…I hope you all get to witness something good and not let anything bad happening in the world rob you of your joy. Because if you’re reading this, you deserve all the joy in the world.

2

NYE 2017 Reflection

durkeecentennialtwainfriend

http://www.twainquotes.com/Cats.html

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” — Mark Twain

On New Year’s Eve. I went to a party where I didn’t know the host and I didn’t know most of the people there. My best friend took me and the party people were her friends. Actually, she knew the host and some of the people there. I don’t know why, but it made me feel better knowing I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know everybody either.

I don’t know what it is about parties like these where I don’t know everybody, but I’ve noticed myself lately going into situations like this and reacting kind of shy I guess. The guy who opened the door had a “who are you?” look on his face. But we powered through, came in, found an empty sofa and sat down to a NYE game night. I didn’t have the best time. I shouldn’t say that. I didn’t have the expected best time. I shouldn’t say that either. I had a good time, but not the best in the way I had anticipated. Maybe I best just describe what happened and you can describe it to yourself.

The games were fine. In fact, they were exciting and a lot of fun. They were right up my alley what with guessing words, captioning meme pictures and the like, and I appreciated the fact that our host wanted to check to see if we would be OK with expletives in one. (We weren’t, based off the fact there was questioning involved and mumbling and such.) The party people knew each other, thus they were their funny entertaining selves and while all the other guests kind of look confused with our showing up, one girl had a friendly face on and she ended up being the only one I connected with all evening besides my best friend. Everybody else had their game faces on. (Haha.) I think my brain was slow. I think it had been a long day of fun, but in a good way. Not a long day in the typical sense of the word. Or maybe I just reverted to my old self. But my fear of embarrassment took over and I was suddenly not shy exactly, but not my college self who would have handled the situation with popularity and coolness and boldness.

All of a sudden every game that required me to talk was awkward for me. One of the first ones we played required me to describe a tool I needed to fix a spaceship and ask for said tool and hope someone had that tool on a card that could trade a card with me. For each card I got, anything that had specific instructions on it like “pass all your cards to the left” was easy for me to announce to the players, but anything that I had a tool on it I needed to quickly describe I remained mute in my seat. Time was of the essence, but my brain didn’t get the memo. Our host called me quiet and later labeled my best friend as such. Inside my head I got defensive. I felt my face burning up a little, but I didn’t say anything. (Ha!) My best friend couldn’t hold it in. She got vocal with her defensiveness. I knew the feeling, but I didn’t see the point for me to waste my breath on people I didn’t know. They don’t know me and I don’t owe them an explanation, and it got me thinking people get defensive when they are called quiet. Quiet is seen as a bad quality. I disagree.

I don’t think quiet is a bad thing. It is not automatically a negative trait. Why is it by default seen that way anyway? Quiet is what makes us good observers. Quiet is how we observe the loud ones, the ones who are in love with their voices and end up saying stupid things as a result. Quiet is not a bad thing. It means we are thinkers. It means we are processors. It means we actually think about what we are going to say before we say it. It means we are good listeners. It means we have good ideas and possess enough patience to wait for the right moment to do something and get lucky.

At the same time, I think there’s no need to get defensive if someone calls you that. Once you do, you validate the idea that being quiet is a bad thing. The best thing to do is remain calm, observe, form your opinion of them, and know secretly in your heart that you are better than this, better than what they label you. Who you are is never defined by a single moment. It’s just not that simple. We are all walking kaleidoscopes. As long as you know at the core who you really are, it doesn’t matter what people label you or say about you behind your back. After all, they need you more than you need them.

0

Humanly Obsolete

Our biggest fear is not to be needed anymore. It goes with not achieving what we really want to do in our lives. Just ask your parents or grandparents. If there was a dream they really wanted to realize, but didn’t get to after having kids or some other type of interruption, they probably are hoping their kids will realize it for them to kind of continue the journey, to keep the dream alive.

Then there are the parents who end up making their kids their life and when their kids no longer need financial support, the visits disappear completely. But enough about parents. I didn’t mean to make this about parents. Some people don’t have parents.

I wanted to focus on the idea of basing our self-worth on being needed. It could be a job we really value or a relationship with a family member where the family member depends on us to be there for them, anything like that. We get used to the job or family member being there, but then one day the job changes and maybe we find ourselves looking for new positions or the family member grows up or heals and doesn’t need us around anymore. What happens then?

Do we lose who we are or find something else to base our self-worth on? And if we do have to shift our focus, what should that be? Maybe the question isn’t what we should focus on. Maybe it’s simply let’s stop measuring and start living.

0

Cuando tenía…

ping-pong

https://winterranchactivities.com/sports-and-exercise/ping-pong/

Singing makes me feel better when I’m down. I can’t explain it. Just like I can’t explain why I’m not athletic, but I can play ping pong and practice archery (I just know play archery sounds wrong, but I don’t know what the correct verb is that goes with archery) like a pro. OK, maybe not like a pro, but you catch my drift.

When I didn’t know any better, I used to want to be good at everything so I would never be embarrassed or make a mistake doing anything. Trust me, as much as I tried to be perfect, I didn’t avoid being embarrassed or making mistakes. I guess that either proves nobody can truly be perfect or you can still be embarrassed or make mistakes even if you do everything as carefully and accurately as you possibly can. Either way this conversation makes me feel like this: o.0

This doesn’t mean I tried everything. It just means everything I did try I wanted to be perfect at it, and the sooner the better. There were some things I avoided trying at all because I figured if I never tried, there’s no way I could embarrass myself or make a mistake.

One time I took this quiz in Girls’ Life to find out what is my biggest fear and death was the last thing on my list. Failure and embarrassment were my top two. (I don’t remember what number three was.) Ha! Funny how death means a guaranteed no failure and embarrassment. Maybe that’s where the phrase, “I’d rather die than…” comes from.

But now I’m older, not necessarily wiser, and I know there’s no way to go about life avoiding failure and embarrassment altogether. The only difference is now, I just sing it all away instead of not trying.