Sunday, September 30, 2012

black cats

between a cat and my favorite dog i’d choose the dog.

but between a black cat and a dog i’d go for the black cat.

i’ve always found them mysterious things. i think because of my old obsession with wanting to become a witch for the longest time. i love owls for being eccentric and wise, but if there weren’t owls there’d be the black cat. that’s all i can really describe why i like them and have been fascinated by them.

and i made a friend with one whilst strolling the beautiful, fallen leaves-shrouded neighborhoods of Berkeley this afternoon. the most memorable beginning to the mysterious and magical month of October :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"The Bird and the Bakery"

            The little sparrow wandered around the front door, and every time the glass swung open its corner bell jingled a heartfelt sound that sent the hopping creature into bliss.
            He wanted to go in. But a bakery was not a bird’s domain. It was a person’s, hand and foot, to walk in and pick up fresh hot bread and to storm out just as quickly. He’d never rush out if he could go in— the sparrow would gratefully take his time.
            He scooted back a few inches to observe the window display. Autumn was approaching; twinkle lights bordered the wide pane and purple and yellow paisley-cloth maple leaves stuck magically against the glass frame. Pretty boxes wrapped in crinkly brown-packaging were tied at the top with flamboyant red bows of silk, spaced evenly up and down around silver platters of white cupcakes sprinkled with chocolate shavings. At the center of the marvel was in fact a live— and rather enormous— fan-tailed goldfish swimming happily and lazily back in forth in his glass dome.
            The bakery was not a bird’s domain. But this bakery was glorious. It sat old and aging in a moss green structure across Bridgeway Street from the shores of the Bay, across the street from where cold waves noisily splashed against the sharp uneven rocks along this wondrous waterfront. The Sparrow sometimes would fly into that big City across the waters. He was certain there were hundreds of bakeries out there on end. He never really saw one, but he knew they were there. He could only dream of their towering beauty over this little shop he now stood outside of.
            Yet the sparrow was alone. No one else would stop him. The next customer he eyed— a little boy and mother laughing and skipping through the door— he skipped after too. Flying would cause too much attention.
            He stood patiently and admirably in line. the frantic happy boy held his young mother’s hand and tapped his little fingers onto the displays of cookies and slices of cake and eagerly switched his choice of pastry around. She hushed him as it came to their turn— in a deep sweet voice she decided upon two meringues and seven tea cookies topped with sugar cookies and roasted almonds. The man behind the counter, an old, but rustic charming sort of gentleman with moon-shaped spectacles submissively smiled and brought the mother her sweets. She grabbed a plastic card out of a red leather wallet and gave it to the baker who swiped the card swiftly. The sparrow watched the transaction with fascination; he moved courteously out of the way for the mother and the little boy who seemed not to have noticed the little excited bird. The sounds of the bell tingling as the door opened and the elegant mother’s high heels clapping onto the floor seemed too real. He was happily not in a bird’s domain.
            No one stood before him. He flew quickly onto the counter before the humble sleepy baker. The baker arched his brows and adjusted the moons on his nose. “And what shall I get for you, Sir?”
            The sparrow was quiet. Then he softly sung (for sparrow voices are song, not noise), “I’d like an almond. Just one, from that cookie, if you please.”
            The rustic baker moved to the displays of sweets and delicately plucked a single slice of toasted almond from a cookie. The sparrow took it into his mouth. He ate it on the spot.
            When he had finished, in little over a few seconds, he looked up anxiously into the eyes of the baker. The baker was resting on his forearms, smiling curiously at the little bird who dared to enter his domain. “Don’t worry,” he assured the sparrow, “it was free.”

"Shopping with Headphones"

            He actually enjoyed Sundays. The only hardest decision he had to make was to skip the vanilla meringues for another box of pad Thai or maybe something else. The choices and alternatives could go on and on just like the wide but congested isles of any Trader Joe’s. And for Simon, living conveniently so close to the one off of College Avenue was a perfect arrangement, a much loved routine. He always planned out his groceries well for them to last at least two weeks.
            The little wheels of the cart turned the corner, leaving matte skid marks across the glossed floor. He couldn’t hear it; his headphones were in. Having his iPhone on music whenever he wasn’t forced to converse with anyone seemed nonchalant to Simon—to him, everyone had whispering into their ears. He never cared for the random looks other shoppers gave at this oddity, his eyes were for the mark-down on organic cheese puffs or for today, the special pricing of wines on the tiki chalkboard behind the bustling registers.
            A simpleton like Simon kept to himself, reasoning his music that only he could hear wouldn’t disrupt others. His eyes were in focus mainly on the food items and sharply dodging or blocking others. From experience, when he hadn’t the headphones with him, Simon found the track-suited middle aged women, old men gripping their veteran’s newspapers tightly against their baskets, and the reserved young parents with strollers to be bothered the most by traffic. It was a low show at Joe’s, to his relief. Picking and debating items carried on faster much to his chagrin—he could pay better attention to the songs. He just had it on The Smiths; the shuffle took hold and brought up Joy Formidable’s “Whirring.”
            Staring down the clear aisle of packaged pastas into which he started, he couldn’t imagine what would be going on a Sunday that dragged its regulars away from here. But he wasn’t alone. Just as he had made his round there, he made for the corner to syrups. Someone tapped his shoulder.
            “Jesus!” he spat softly to himself and turned around. An older man in his sixties—nothing of the veteran newspaper-wielding type, thank god—had his brows arched and was staring up and down the young Simon. “Does it work?” he asked amusingly.
            “Huh?” Simon said, removing his headphones. “I’m sorry?”
            The man didn’t change his concerned expression. “Music and shopping?” he sounded perplexed. Simon stood squeamishly with his mouth open. He couldn’t help but study the man; he had no basket, just a box of wheat thins and packed raw tri-tip slice crooked in the gap of his fat left arm. It was nearing summer, but the man seemed unnoticing with his layered plaid flannel under a big YOSEMITE sweater.  “I uh, I guess it does,” Simon shrugged.
            The man twisted his mouth in an odd way of disapproval. “Don’t see how.”
            “But it does!” Simon said meekly, almost impatiently. He hated being bothered by people in public—that’s why he had his headphones for most times, didn’t he? “I—I just focus better with them.”
            “The real world don’t rely on music, son” the man continued quickly, rudely standing within inches of Simon’s own body. Simon turned at the waist 180 degrees to mock browse the shelf that was right there—Mrs. Meyer’s organic house cleaners marked down 85 cents. “Guess we live in different worlds then, Sir,” he said stiffly to the man, looking down contemptuously at the sale and swiping some bath cleaner into his cart. He didn’t really want it.
            The man was unmoved. “My granddaughter’s the same. She comes to see me with her family, her music’s in one ear at least. She gets to drive the family up to my place or family parties—she puts the radio on blast. It’s alright for you, kid, if that’s your thing, but something so dull as shopping for groceries! Don’t you ever get in anyone’s way?”
            “Not if I can help it,” Simon replied softly. “Excuse me, I really do have to get moving on.”
            A laugh came from the older man. “As you wish, have a good one,” he returned in conclusion and walked off.
            Simon raced two aisles over. Fuck that, he thought before replaying the iPhone.
            He was back in balance by the time he got to check out. Three spaces before his turn, Simon hummed almost muted to the Temper Trap on the play now. It was almost summer, he remembered. He could even tell by the way Trader Joe’s was decorated, in faux bamboo wall covering and vibrant blue crepe paper swaying from wall to wall. The fake tropical flowers were just strung on each check-out station that past week; they weren’t there Thursday when he came in to quickly restock some Sailor Jerry rum for Armand and Kayla’s engagement kick-back at his place. He looked ahead at the cashier. To his dismay, it wasn’t the pretty little blonde with the dented sparrow necklace draping from her throat that usually snuck him a free stick of Toblerone chocolate—“Think of it as a sample,” she winked the time he accidentally grabbed two and was paying for the price of one. This time he saw Sandra, the other cashier he readily dealt with, a jolly plump Peruvian who tried to recommend some Motown tunes to Simon when she looked up and saw his headphones.
            “Hey look!” Simon could hear pierce through the music. The dark-haired child in the aisle over was seated in the cart looking wide-eyed at him. She was about six, or seven, wearing a bubbly purple floral blouse and white cotton shorts. “He’s got something in his ears, Mommy.”
            The young mother looked his way and smiled. “He’s listening to music,” she said sweetly to her child. “Better leave him alone, it’s probably a good song.”
            “I know a good song!” the child nearly cried. “The one Sebastian sang in The Little Mermaid—we dance to it all the time, Mommy!” Her mom began laughing and shaking her head. Simon good-heartedly waved to her in mutual amusement. He looked straight, it was almost his turn up.
            He could still hear the little girl rambling on excitedly. “I think when I grow up I want to be cool and listen to music and feel happy all the time,” she was telling her mom. “Do you think that boy is happy with his music?”
            Simon sighed and gave a quick laugh. His headphones had been off by the time the girl finished—now he replaced them back onto his lobes with satisfaction.  He’d heard enough.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

fall in the Bay Area

the 31 bus ride to USF from Bart on Market Street, sitting alone and listening to Matt Costa and looking straight on the rainy road to see the strange flooded and crowded streets of the City.

from the tracks there was a hazy fog scattered throughout Berkeley that was denser towards the docks of Oakland. there was an orange tint to the sky. the Bay is full of yellowing ginko trees.

best memory of the day.

here are some images that best exemplify my love and enthusiasm for the autumn season:

Friday, September 21, 2012

had the biggest headache on the BART home today!

but nothing some writing and a good hair pulling (where are you, Matt?) can't fix, thank goodness!

because i ride BART three days a week, give or take one day for a Sigma Tau Delta meeting or a Word Night reading*, it's a lot of idle time spent, eighty minutes a day of just emptiness. and admittedly, none of it is really used for effective writing. i guess i don't bother because 1) the train's too crowded to move around especially if standing, to get out a paper and pen, and 2) i feel like i have to write something epic and significant (and lengthy) for such a long time.

but i want to get over that complex. and i want to be rid of boredom. boredom can kill! and as a result, i vow i'll make more an effort to write on the trains. not just anything too, but everything. free write. it really is, as i'm rediscovering from my classes, effective for stimulating the imagination, keeping my thoughts on the go, every second. and today's, Day 1, started as such:

no capital letters. that is the ultimate rule. just complicates things. this is not a diary log. nor does it bother me that this is my (one of my) favorite pens. people stare, people stand, and this pen is fading off. i have to make this pen last. then i will be bored-- and maybe i'll die. well, probably not. this keeps me occupied. because i am primarily a writer. maybe i'll bring my diary on BART. good idea! but i guess i'm not so smart. running thoughts, i'm not crazy, i'm not.

just letting those thoughts flow out and randomly settles my nerves. i'm not jittery or feel like i have things bottled up. it's out there, and if it makes no sense, at least i did write.

other side notes: Lily Kwong  is beautiful, nothing beats coming home to a made-bed, and Sacred Grounds Café is the definitive new haunt between classes.

*Word Night was hella fun! and i do enjoy an audience-- reading live as a writer really brings out the best of what you want to achieve with your work. everyone was supportive, and it felt strange but exciting to have your own classmates and professors in the audience, alongside the new faces who happened to be legitimately interested in hearing the spoken word. Sacred Grounds itself sets the mood, with its block interiors and low-ceilings decorated with off the wall furniture and hangings, not to mention the abundance of plants for sale! just weird, but we're all weird. English is proudly weird. we have no boundaries.

if you're interested in stopping by, it will likely be at Sacred Grounds Café October 21!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

this is going to be an exciting, kick-ass night!

my first live reading in MONTHS!

am i nervous? should i memorize anything? do i give a bio? i don't know the answer to any of these questions. i never feel like i'm prepared for a reading even when i have practiced in front of a mirror and rallied up an audience for the night.

i do wish i could do more. live readings, community involvement with other writers. i wish. and why can't i not do? the downsides of commuting into a big city from the suburbs. it took a toll on the day earlier, and for a moment i didn't feel excited any longer on my performance for tonight.

but i need to work around it. not let it suppress my passion. life's a bitch, so what can i do? i can tell her a damn good story in the least.

pictures (courtesy of Matt) and a followup post to come!

in the meantime check out these other literary events that go on around San Francisco:

Galeria de la Raza in the Mission
every full moon at 9

SOMArts Center in SOMA
third Tuesday of every month

Caffe Roma in North Beach
every Friday

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Marilyn the Muse

hello to Marilyn. he's 28, from Las Vegas, working Santa Monica Blvd. in L.A. and charged $30 for this photo by Philip-Lorca diCorcia.

this is the image i chose for a writing prompt in my experiments in nonfiction writing class. it's part of the many inspiring and random photos on display for the Real to Real exhibit in the De Young Museum.

"Winter Break"

            Turn on the radio. Vince’s hands are knobby. It’s Lana Del Rey’s low voice all scratched and distorted because Live105.3 is static out here for some reason. The car’s going, some ’08 Mazda 3—white. I’m sure it’s not his car. There’s what looks like a baby boar tusk hanging from the rearview. The car we drove in two months ago was green—the tusk was there too. At least he’s laughing; I can never tell his mood especially over voicemails.
            Nearing nine o’ clock, we pull up to Skid’s on the edge of Emeryville, up Hollis near Adeline. He always opted for this place, with its dimming blue twinkle-lights strung around the wide windows, its steel door, its mismatched tables of odd white shades. Mike’s still working behind the counter, nodding to us with that gap-tooth smile and always playing The Black Keys on repeat. No matter, we got a seat and Vince declares the drinks are on him.
            “One thing,” he says sternly to me with those browns eyes I know too well by now.
            “You’ve got to try spinal fluid with me!”
            “Yeah right—” but Mike is already approaching with the two murky brandy glasses full of what could have been velvet root beer float. Vince—or Mike, whenever I had the time to drive out there and give him a hello—never gave in when asked about what the hell was in that thing besides the Grey Goose vodka.
            Catching up gets easier as the spinal fluid goes down. Lab work, fake IDs, the situation he was in up in Portland (like how he could put up with the snow and how good really were the donuts), selling my brother’s comics to a place on Divisadero in the City for Christmas shopping money—I just really can’t wait ‘til he mentions Carolina. She was why I had to show up. Had to hear it for myself.
            “Is she the one?” I say to him. He takes a breath before downing the rest of my fluid, then he bursts out that laughter that’s always been reassuring to me. Just then someone comes in from the street and starts shouting that a car’s alarm’s going off.
            The front passenger’s window’s been smashed with a wrench they threw onto the dashboard, and the locks on the front doors got jammed in the attempt. They found nothing of interest—except the boar tusk of course. Mike’s inside calling the police and a tow truck, but me and Vince take it easy on the cold black curve. He gets up to examine the car again. “This sure is one fuck-up!” he starts laughing again. “Another reason I can’t wait to get back to Portland.” He’s running his hands through his blonde curls roughly; I know he’s quite upset.
            I go and kiss the hood of the car, leaving my neon lipstick there into a perfect impression. “Alice!” Vince exclaims, looking with satisfaction, “Car looks just as good now.”
            “I know how to fix things,” I say mockingly with a dumb smile. Bet you Carolina would never do that. He doesn’t get to answer, instead he gets out that ’droid phone. “I’m going to call Carolina.” I knew it was her car.
            She’s the one.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

the backyard as a desktop

you won't understand unless you were right here. in this minute. the air's still and lukewarm, no wind stirred, and the skies are just lush yet matte with pink-lined gray clouds slowly breaking apart in the dusk. dusk of the first in September.


this is a wonderful feeling, not because it's perfect weather, the string of lights are going to be lit soon, nor that i sip a hot cup of green tea from the mug Liza bought me for my 14th birthday, nor that i wear my new favorite sweater--

it's that i'm letting loose.

this pen + this deep sincere (and silent) feeling is the key to productive writing right now. words, ink, passionate ideas spill out and roll along the paper like nothing.


spent minutes dowsed in chills all over me. a double rainbow, against the neon-pink clouds, graces my presence.

sometimes we all disappear, and into places that just seem so right for your genius. you're lost in the visions and muses that dance around in forms of double rainbows, twilight, golden clouds, and the damp ground beneath you. or maybe not these things. but right now, it's what i need. just happened this way, too perfect of anything to be a coincidence, where i wanted to sit out in the backyard under lights like fireflies and write.

And when i am back in my room again, the night dark and my carpet warm with whatever song that plays softly in there, i'll still be dreaming of this past.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

i've come a long way.

Glasvegas, "Geraldine"