Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I'm alive

I am finally home after spending a month in the hospital. I actually decided to write about my time there and hopefully submit it to a writing contest. It will be the first thing I have ever submitted even though I have been writing for years. Hopefully this isn't a let-down...
I was in the hospital due to a gruesome car wreck which wasn't my fault and I was alone. I was also the only one hospitalized which is actually a blessing because the other car was a van full of kids. I would have had to live with that the rest of my life...the old truck I was driving crushed up like an accordion and I found out later that the engine ended up next to me on the bench seat, the gas tank was located under the driver's seat and that I suffered from a brain hemorrhage. I knew none of this..
Due to the crash and my multiple injuries I had to defer my fall semester at Mills, which of course I was upset over. At first I thought I would be able to take a class, especially the class taught by Kara Wittman, whom I had never had before. She was teaching a class called "Story and the State" which was built on the theory that novels were written due to the political atmosphere of the time, which I agree with and was looking forward to. I bought all the books for the class so maybe I will still read them. One of them is To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf which I have always wanted to read.
 I guess that's all that is really new. I am happy to be alive and excited to write my first book!
Well, as promised a while ago I will include a poem with each of my posts.
This poem is actually by a classmate I had in college and this poem was featured in Calpoly's literary magazine the Byzantium, which I worked on my senior year. I loved this poem and I think it encapsulates loneliness perfectly. If I remember correctly, it won 3rd place in the Al Landwehr writing contest, where the winners were then published in the Byzantium. Soledad is a small city north of San Luis Obispo and is not very big...


I haven’t talked to anyone in weeks.
Well, not more than a few words.
I tried to start up a conversation with a guy
in a New Mexico diner the other day;
I was hauling a load of horse manure downstate,
and he dabbling in tax evasion.
Well, that’s what it sounded like to me, but
that’s as far as we got.

I can feel the tiny veins in my eyes
poking out like parched flowers in a drought.                                         
Weak headlights and the soft drone of
an aching cowboy and his guitar.  He’s
wailing that breed of sorrow you can’t help but laugh at.
Which, I suppose, makes it all the more sad...

Loneliness, Mr. Alvarez had said
with a sad, knowing wink as he’d handed over the keys:
Loneliness comes with the job, brother.

I roll down the window and the cool night breeze
hits me full in the face.
I’ve forgotten how cold it gets out here.
I light a cigarette in my right hand and hang the other out the window,
arm bent at the elbow.
The glowing stick feels good in my hand, almost like
its warmth could be traced to some living, breathing center –
some reassuring pulse that might keep me awake with a story,
or lay soft on my shoulder, yawning and happy
as the vineyards blur into muddy brown streaks...

But it doesn’t, and the nicotine drains from my brain
like sand in an hourglass, counting the days ‘till –
I’m tired again.

I pull into the next rest stop and kill the engine.
Christ, what a name.
I don’t stay long – gas station coffee,
chips, and more cigarettes – but before I hit the freeway again,
a sign catches my eye.

I chuckle.
At least someone out here has a sense of humor –
what exactly is happening in Soledad?

Monday, June 20, 2011


I am gearing up to go across the country...and it has me thinking about my American heritage. The scope of the states is overwhelming if seriously contemplated. It also made me realize how foreign my own nation is to me. I am going on a short, short when realized how far I am going compared to the entire country, trip to help a pal move out to med. school in Philadelphia. I have this glorified vision of giant golden fields (probably attributed to reading Kerouac) and ancient weeping willows in the Bayou (probably stemming from Huck Finn). The landscape could very well represent the country itself and its complexities and scope. I feel that it would take a lifetime to comfortably grasp this country's historical wealth even though its age is equivalent to a teenager comparing to the rest of the world...

Anyways, I am excited to see some of my foreign home. I plan to party in Austin, listen to some Jazz in New Orleans, sit on a plantation porch sipping iced tea in Alabama, wonder at the Spanish Moss in Savannah, dance the Charleston in Charleston, and hopefully "find myself" as so many of my favorite literary characters have done while exploring America.
So here is a pondering thought belonging to Huck Finn in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which I remember most vividly. Huck and Jim are on the raft floating down the river. This is the sense of calm mixed with adventure I hope to feel hangin in the Bayou...

"The stars were shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper something to me, and I couldn't make out what it was, and so it made the cold shivers run over me."

Monday, June 13, 2011


This past weekend I took a trip with my family down to the Eastern Sierras. The past couple months I have gone on a few back-country ski tours around Lake Tahoe. I really had only been on two or three real tours before this weekend and they were quite mellow comparing to this most recent trip.
Here is a break-down:
On Friday afternoon my family, my friend Maggie and I hopped in our Sportsmobile and took the ~ three hour drive down to a friend's 200+ acre plot of land by Bridgeport, CA. We set up camp amidst multiple species of sagebrush and lots of dust. We then headed down to a big bonfire along with many other Tahoe locals who came down for the adventure.
From the camp we could survey what we were to hike and ski the next morning. The middle peak is called Dunderberg and we came up the back of it early Saturday morning, walked the saddle between the two peaks then skied down the main chute.
From there we traversed over to what's called Green Creek. This was a 3000 foot vertical ski, my legs were burning!!
The trip totaled 96 guests.
I can't fully explain the extent of this experience. There is something both empowering and humbling about climbing mountains like this. It not only takes physical strength but mental stamina for sure. I have never been so proud of something I physically accomplished. There is a striking emotion standing on top of a 12,374 foot mountain surrounded with even bigger peaks as far as you can see. The grandiose-ness (why not) of nature really floors you and puts life in a healthy perspective.
Long story short, climbing mountains is a cleansing experience and I can see why humans have been awed by nature for as long as we have been around...
John Muir sure knew what he was talking about when he said:
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean"
and that is your poetry intake for the day...
And here I am on top of a mountain with my family <3

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

musical souls

Have you ever listened to music and literally felt a surge of emotion? Most have...this is why I have always thought that if humans really do have souls, music might be proof. This idea is not novel, many great intellectuals (Rousseau and Tolstoy come to mind immediately) have actually condemned music due to its overly personal nature. Tolstoy in particular believed that one should not spend an exaggerated amount of time listening to music because it forces you to feel what the artist feels and this can be invasive to the artist's inner feeling and controlling of your own. Although, the artist himself is, in fact, baring his inner feeling by creating music in the first place...Tolstoy simply didn't like to be told how or what to feel, which he believed music affects.

Keep in mind that this conversation was in the late 18th, mid 19th century but it can very well be applied to modern music. So, this idea came from listening over and over to the new Fleet Foxes album, "Helplessness Blues." Man, does it strike a chord. While listening to some of the songs on the album I actually agreed with the Tolstoyan sentiment that music can be invasive of the artist's emotions and controlling of the listener's..
I found this 200 year-old idea to be true since listening to the songs and feeling feelings that were not mine.
All of a sudden I felt sad after one song, melancholy after another...some bring tears for no reason.
And yet I can't figure out if it's a bad thing to feel something that doesn't belong to you.
I guess you just have to keep in mind that these are the artist's feelings and ideas, not can stop crying/marveling/wondering once the album is over.

Anyways, simply pondering.

If you would like to read more about Tolstoy's reaction to music (he talked mostly of Bach and Beethoven) his work What is Art is very interesting and his ideas are heavily based on his favorite artist, Rousseau...

There's some free endorsement from tej-tej...this album is really good...
AND for this post's poetry inclusion I think I will just supply the lyrics to my favorite song on the album...because it really is poetry...

Helplessness Blues

I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I'd say I'd rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me

But I don't, I don't know what that will be
I'll get back to you someday soon you will see

What's my name, what's my station, oh, just tell me what I should do
I don't need to be kind to the armies of night that would do such injustice to you
Or bow down and be grateful and say "sure, take all that you see"
To the men who move only in dimly-lit halls and determine my future for me

And I don't, I don't know who to believe
I'll get back to you someday soon you will see

If I know only one thing, it's that everything that I see
Of the world outside is so inconceivable often I barely can speak
Yeah I'm tongue-tied and dizzy and I can't keep it to myself
What good is it to sing helplessness blues, why should I wait for anyone else?

And I know, I know you will keep me on the shelf
I'll come back to you someday soon myself

If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm raw
If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm sore
And you would wait tables and soon run the store

Gold hair in the sunlight, my light in the dawn
If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm sore
If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm sore
Someday I'll be like the man on the screen

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I think that being alone in this crazy world of ours is getting harder and harder. It has become almost stigmatic to be on our own. There are so many ways to be connected now with the million social networks and technologies that it is seldom that we are truly alone. But in a way, even though we are constantly connected, I feel we are becoming more lonely. How is that paradox possible? Even when I am home, alone, I am on Gmail chat, Skype, and my phone is near-by. I am texting, chatting, emailing and yet feel so lonely. Yesterday I browsed the book shelves by myself for an hour. It felt good. If only I left my phone in the car...I picked up a book of essays by Jonathan Franzen called How To Be Alone, ironic...I guess it has been on my mind.
But as I gradually graduate from living with 6 other girls, never being alone, to living solo, I am finding much time to myself. This has proven to be a double-edged sword as I love hanging with myself but at times my thoughts drive me insane. But I think it is really healthy to spend time with the self. Real quality Gmail, no Skype, no phone, no pals, no TV....just you and your feet walking, tripping, skipping along. Because that is life; you are ultimately alone. Sometimes walking, sometimes tripping, sometimes skipping.

I have yet to delve into Franzen's essays but the blip "the erosion of civic life and private dignity, and the hidden persistence of loneliness in postmodern, imperial America" on the inner jacket really caught my attention and spoke to my recent loneliness. So, I will check back soon with an update. (I can't believe I haven't posted anything in a month...bad tej-tej)

We will see where my favorite author takes me on this trip to solitude.

 And since I promised a poem with every blog post, here is one that I stumbled upon which gently captures a lonely feeling...It is by Robert Creeley, written in 1969.


One more day gone,
done, found in
the form of days.

It began, it
forward, backward,

slow, fast, a
sun shone, clouds,
high in the air I was

for awhile with others,
then came down
on the ground again.

No moon. A room in
a hotel--to begin

Thursday, April 21, 2011

technologic backlash?

Will there be a backlash against technology? A resistance toward all things electronic and robotic? Will people again write letters, hold a book, pick up the phone, meet a person in a coffee shop rather than an online chat-room, put on a record? There is no doubt that technology has been and will be influential and beneficial but I think these tangible human activities will become romantic again. I think they'll make a come-back! Although the community who already does cherish these old-fashioned non-technological amenities is small, it is supportive. Maybe I am just being hopeful because I want to sell books but also make a living...but I don't think that humans will ever truly lose the desire to hold an actual book, flip through the pages, walk through a library. I think these things will never die because they connect us with generations before us and remind us what it is to be human. I love the things technology provide; I can't live without my iphone, email, ipod, I mean I am writing this in a blog... But people will always need to tell stories and these stories will need a place more romantic than the shelf of a Kindle.
Here is a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers and wonderful artist, which perfectly encapsulates the romantic old-fashioned "fireflies" of humanity.

"Are There Not Still Fireflies"

Are there not still fireflies
Are there not still four-leaf clovers
Is not our land still beautiful
Our fields not full of armed enemies
Our cities never bombed to oblivion
Never occupied by iron armies
speaking iron tongues
Are not our warriors still valiant
ready to defend us
Are not our senators still wearing fine togas
Are we not still a great people
Is this not still a free country
Are not our fields still ours
our gardens still full of flowers
our ships with full cargoes

Why then do some still fear
the barbarians are coming
coming coming
in their huddled masses
(What is that sound that fills the ear
drumming drumming?)

Is not Rome still Rome
Is not Los Angeles still Los Angeles
Are these really the last days of the Roman Empire

Is not beauty still beauty
And truth still truth
Are there not still poets
Are there not still lovers
Are there not still mothers
sisters and brothers
Is there not still a full moon
once a month

Are there not still fireflies
Are there not still stars at night
Can we not still see them
in bowl of night
signalling to us
our so-called manifest destinies?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

angelheaded hipsters

Last night I went to a poetry reading, the Bang Out series, in the Mission district of San Francisco. The theme of the reading was social media disasters. The topic had such potential to be quite rich but I was a bit disappointed. There were a few very talented poets, one in particular who had been pals with Allen Ginsberg.
As I tried to explain to a friend the complicated and wild adventures of the Beat generation, I realized how much I revere that group of artists. So, I naturally went home to read some Kerouac and sent my friend a barrage of Ginsberg poems with my own literary criticism, marking brilliant passages. I then turned to Rob Epstein's movie "Howl" with James Franco and again fell in love with the newness and originality of this period of poetry. (Not to mention James Franco..mmm)
What will be the next poetic revolution?
How can we, as artists, "make it new"? (As Ezra Pound would stress as imperative)
These are questions that I ask myself when I am writing my own poetry and hope to answer or see the answer in my lifetime!

The poem "Howl" is very long but this is my favorite excerpt, incidentally it is how the poem begins:

by Allen Ginsberg
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated
-taken from the poetry foundation
And I am now signed up for a Gender and Modernism class in the Fall!
And am applying for a job at City Lights romantic...

Monday, April 11, 2011

poem a day keeps the blues away

I believe in the power of literature. I guess that goes without saying...I am investing heavily in my literary education. As a being on this planet, I believe that to share stories is necessary to our emotional growth and balance. Writing is a very powerful form of expression, especially poetry.
From this blog on, I will include a poem in each post. The poem hopefully will coincide with the topic of the blog-post but can be arbitrary.
Today I have been thinking of a poem I fell in love with as I was graduating college. I think it spoke to a time in my life where everything was alternating drastically but one thing was unchanging: my passion for knowledge. I think it is beautiful and I hope you enjoy it.

KNOWLEDGE: by Louise Bogan
Now that I know
How passion warms little
Of flesh in the mould,
And treasure is brittle,--

I’ll lie here and learn
How, over their ground,
Trees make a long shadow
And  a light sound

Monday, April 4, 2011

the graduate

Words I have learned as a graduate student. These words are now common in my everyday speech. Do not be alarmed, they are simply used to artificially embellish...
picture from NatalieDee

Friday, April 1, 2011


Pretty incredible that I have gone from the most snow I have ever seen to skipping around in shorts.
I have to say that the environment here in Berkeley has changed drastically from the past couple weeks. People are reveling in the sunlight; whistling, catching themselves grinning, sending salutations stranger's ways. I find myself with a spring in my step, bouncing off the balls of my feet...
It got me thinking of people who don't see the sun for months and months; the winter often lasting well into April. Where do they get their vitamin D from? It's not that I don't like the cold, I love the snow, but I also love sunshine.
So my wandering mind brought me to the fact that I love California.  I can have both the best snow in the world and the same time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I have had the most amazing days here in Tahoe...the snow has been quite epic. The storm total has equaled 110" on the top of Squaw Valley USA and man am I one happy little skier. I went out on Tuesday with some of the best skiers I know, had the best run of my life. Reverse Traverse opened and we were among the first couple groups to hike it. We came up over the slot and around to the first cliff band before Classic Chute. The snow was past my bellybutton...I felt like I was flying. We lapped the traverse 5 times before coming around Adrenaline side from KT. That night was the last night-skiing of the season so we stayed skiing until 7 PM and ended with a party at CBC.
and I am off for another day, the snow keeps on comin!
Thanks Jordan Basile, Kaya Lampe, Travis Ganong, Maggie Nichols and Ehrin Davis for literally the best (and longest) ski day of my life....<3

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I am currently toying with some ideas for a project in my Russian Realism class.
Count Leo Tolstoy was very interested in the way we fit into social roles and what happens when we attempt to transcend our given roles, or perform in a role that isn't ours.
I think that this is question of how to be genuine is relevant; that it doesn't belong only in a 20th century realist setting.
In War and Peace, there is a famous critique of the theater through the eyes of his character Natasha. She seems to be the most candid of characters; always instinctual and unassuming. She doesn't shy away from her Russian countryside background as shown in the scene where she is dancing an old peasant dance barefoot with her rugged uncle. She seems to be the most "real."
In this scene at the theater in the city she is dressed to the nines, complete with a heavy silk gown. But Natasha, "[a]fter the country...found all this [performance] wild and astonishing" (561). Natasha is sitting with the best of society up in the balcony, being shown off to all prospective suitors, and is not quite understanding the play. She sees through the falseness of theater, noticing the "painted cardboard," and the "man with tight silk breeches on his fat legs" (560-1). Natasha recognizes the falsity of this representation on the stage of "real" life even feeling "embarrassed for the performers" (561). As she watches, though, she suddenly becomes enamored and imagines herself up on stage...changing her view of theater and ultimately changing herself.
If you pan away from this immediate scene, Natasha herself is acting in a role that is not hers. She has been falsely dolled-up in order to fit in with the other women of society. It is only here in Moscow, at the theater where Natasha is attempting to perform in a role expected of her by society, where she becomes apocryphal, false. Not to mention that the next scenes involving the foppish Anatole is the start of her demise within contemporary Russian society.This scene could represent a warning against performing or faking a self by showing an unblemished character becoming tainted because of her attempt to be something she is not.

This idea of performance reminds me of Judith Butler's discussion of gender and sexuality being a performance (if you haven't read her work, do so. "Imitation and Gender Insubordination"). I wonder if I can somehow tie Tolstoy's critique of false representation in literature to Butler's modern ideas of gender and sexuality.

I also think about this in everything I do (and there's no wonder Tolstoy was a neurotic wreck at times); if its real, if I am only "performing, " if I am being genuine.
Anywhy (made that up, but I think its better than 'anywho, ' who came up with that?), since this has become my digital diary, which the world can see, those are my Tuesday rain thoughts.

'til next time,

Saturday, March 12, 2011

hello world

Today I am going to meet with various literary agents from around the Bay Area. Mill's College is putting on their first-ever Pitch-Fest, where prose students can "pitch" their ideas to local agents. I am going to try to weasel my way into a job...I am trying to do some last minute research; where the agents work, what they specialize in and where I would fit in best. I don't have a CV, which maybe I should work on, but I feel like I don't have enough experience to even expand on in a CV. Well, I am coming armed with my resume and the Byzantium.
I was fondly re-visiting some old Byzantium manuals and the work I did last year. Some nostalgic and not-so shameless self-promotion...I was the Senior Co-Editor of Cal Poly's Literary Magazine. (picture from Missy Titus- our Art Director)
What a great year...

Friday, March 11, 2011


I had the conception (purposefully leaving out 'mis') that to have a blog is, in some way, exposing too much of one's interior monologue. But as I try to ease myself into the rushing river of life, I find it might be necessary. I have spent the last couple evenings arranging an online persona and it is surreal. Now I am "Linked-in," have a profile on AboutMe...I very much want to reject all these social networking technologies but the more I look into the "real-world", the more I realize I need to keep up with the digital age. I sound like I am 80 years old.
Well, here I am. I have taken the plunge. I have a blog that I can now refer people to if they want a peek into my brain.