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Musings

When I met André, I was barely making ends meet, with only a few freelance jobs helping me pay my rent. The only thing that kept me going was the spring air. It’s been almost two years since then, and André’s back for a visit. And I am again on the hunt for a new job. It seems I can’t make it a year without creating significant changes in my life. I guess that part of me is still the same, but when I meet André this weekend, he’ll see that I’ve changed.

Two years ago, I was still a fool. It’s almost too embarrassing to write about what kind of person I was then. In some ways, I feel myself getting weaker. I never settle — I still strive for more, I still work hard and play hard — but there are yoga poses I could pull off last year that I can’t anymore. I can’t drink as much. I find myself leaving clubs earlier or not going at all, choosing instead to stay in, cook a light dinner, and watch Buzzfeed videos. I look through drafts I wrote about my colorful twenties life, posts about not giving a shit about a lot of things. Posts about drinking to feel, self-medicating to not feel, seeking immediate gratification in various forms. The rational decisions I would make from time to time just to keep my life on track.

I read these things, and I don’t identify with it anymore. That pseudo-reckless lifestyle of a bourgeois girl who takes controlled doses of danger once in a while to make up for the monotony of her day-to-day life. So who am I now? I don’t know, and I don’t think it really matters. I just… know that I like who I’ve grown into, and I really like the people in my life. One thing that will never change about me is my love of people, and I hope to meet many more, even ones as maddening and incorrigible as André.

A few months ago, I went to a doctor, knowing that I needed treatment for a worsening condition. He gave me a temporary diagnosis, informing me that it would take at least a few more visits for him to figure out exactly what’s going on.

Since that first visit, I’ve been going through two-week trials of various drugs prescribed to ease my symptoms. Some provide immediate relief and others require more of a commitment, taking at least a month’s use to start showing effects.

I don’t like the idea of waking up each morning and taking a pill, keeping other pills on hand during the day for emergencies, and taking yet another pill before going to bed. People have started calling me a pill popper, a label I can’t even protest because it’s true: I have become a pill popper.

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I’ve been seeing different doctors about my neck problems, and the more doctors I see, the worse the news gets.

Today was particularly devastating. He looked at my x-rays from the previous hospitals and asked me why I’d waited this long to get treatment. “Didn’t you feel pain in your neck and shoulders?” And I said no, not at all. I just have these headaches… But then he said that it must’ve taken about five years for my neck to get this bad. Five years…

Five years ago, I was in college. I struggled almost daily with shoulder pain, but I chalked it up to stress (because my mom gets pain in her shoulders with stress, too) and didn’t do anything about it. The pain wasn’t too bad, and I was too focused on schoolwork to take care of myself.

And therein lies the problem. I was constantly bent over books and absorbed in computer screens. Ever since junior high, my parents told me to fix my posture and stretch once in a while, but I ignored them, never once thinking that my cervical spine would bend forward like it is now.

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Today, I lost my log of writing ideas.  It was an ongoing list I’d been adding to since September, and before I lost it, it had over 40 items.

Never mind how I lost it.  All I know is that it’s irrecoverable.  Not only that, but I also lost all of my recent dream logs, which I’d been planning to use as well.

I’ve been pessimistic about writing lately.  It’s depressing to admit, but for the past week, these notes and logs were the only thing that made me feel like I had some place to go with my writing.  Because my work in my notebook and book draft has been so discouraging, the only hope I had was in the 40+ ideas I could still rekindle.

It might not be as bad as losing a notebook or manuscript, but it’s still a heavy blow.  I could probably re-log at least half of those ideas from memory, but some of those items were drafted sentences and paragraphs, and those I know I can’t recall verbatim.

I know looking back only hinders progress, but it’s hard not to when you’ve lost a bank of seven months’ worth of inspiration.

——

photoHow does one transition from one notebook to another?

Strange that this particular switch came at an emotional transition point in my life.

My last notebook was my first dedicated notebook. I’d kept journals before, but this was a bigger, all-purpose notebook in which all of my work, both professional and personal, was brainstormed and executed. I used it for studying Korean as well. And doodling, of course.

I once left my bag at a restaurant; my notebook was in it. I left a bar in a panic and ran back to the restaurant. It was closed, but the bag—and the notebook—were safe and sound on a chair behind the counter. I felt uneasy, guilty, anxious, separated from my notebook like that, and my friend and I had to call it a night because I was kind of an emotional wreck.

That night when I returned home, I scribbled on the wall of my bedside bookcase. I consoled myself by imagining that Notebook was taking a much-deserved vacation. After all, it had served me so faithfully and it should be free to take time off from me when it should so desire.

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I’ve been getting physical therapy for neck problems, and every treatment I’ve received since February has been therapeutic and refreshing. Except today’s.

The head chiropractor gave me a thorough consultation the day I was referred to him by the clinic’s doctor. It’s hard to find a good chiropractor, but he felt trustworthy and the prices seemed standard. So after some thought and financial assistance from my brother, I started treatment there.

I was very fortunate that the head chiropractor took me in as one of his long-term patients, because he is talented and treats me with the utmost care and attention each time. You could say he spoils me; when he’s not busy, he gives me extra treatments that normally cost more.

But today, I didn’t receive the usual friendly welcome. The clinic was packed and one chiropractor was “in the weeds”; he had three patients waiting for physical therapy, and both stations were occupied. Extra services (electrotherapy, ultrasound therapy, sling exercise) were being given to patients left and right to buy time for the stations where actual hands-on therapy takes place.

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Right now, I’m working on a series of short stories dealing with sex, and I’m terribly disappointed with the drafts. Why? Because they read like cheap erotica.

I see two possible reasons for this: my generation’s discourse and language of sex, and the nature of the sexual incidents described in this series (#18). Sex is over-discussed and frequently consumed, both the real thing and media depictions of it. It’s such a vital part of our existence that it has become an inevitable topic of our daily conversations as well; and through these dialogues, we have created a common language of sex, one that is rife with overused vocabulary and innuendos that are understood universally, sometimes even across languages.

And when I write about sex, especially sex that is nothing more than pure carnal pleasure (you might call them “one night stands”), which is what #18 explores, most verbs, adverbs, and nouns (there are only so many other things you could call the various body parts involved) start glaring off the page as clichés. The print starts mocking me, Of course, what else would you do with that? How else would he grab it? Where else would it go? Ha. Ha. HA.

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