I was recently reminded that I should let people know if I have any eligible stories published in 2017 for the Hugo & Nebula awards so…if you’d like to nominate one of my stories, I’d be honored! They all fall under the short story category.
Take a look at my story “What Futures” in the People of Color Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination special issue! It’s about future Shanghai and belonging and it’s here! Thank you to Nisi Shawl for selecting it for this issue 🙂 You can read all the other wonderful writers’ work here.
In other news, I had a reading with the Asian American Arts Alliance last Wednesday, where I actually read What Futures! Here’s the video.
So it’s summer here now, and hot. There are wild blackberries and strawberries in Central Park but a recent thunderstorm knocked down some trees. The High Line has trees with pink fronds that prove nature=art. Ducklings are hanging out in the reservoir. I baked a vanilla pound cake that made me understand just why a vanilla bean pod is such a wonderful thing (although baking in the heat is not really recommended). If you like fun and ridiculous musicals with amazing vocals, check out Bella at Playwrights Horizons. If you want to get some more art in your life, check out LMCC’s River to River Festival (free!). If you’re not in NYC, maybe get on over here to enjoy the swampy subways and red hot cultural events?
Very excited that my weird short story, An Interlude: Pig River, won third place in the Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest! Take a gander at the story here!
Also, I’m a featured artist at the Asian American Arts Alliance Town Hall this month! Wednesday, June 21st, 6:45-8pm at the Mertz Gilmore Foundation at 218 East 18th Street in New York City. Info and RSVP here!
My story “Art Show” is up today in the spring issue of Nashville Review! Check it out here (and the rest of the issue here!) It’s very much inspired by the international art community and scene in Shanghai.
And to celebrate (and due to waking up early because of jetlag), I bought myself some pastries from Arcade Bakery. Maybe I should make this a habit every time I get something published?
Also, as an artist-in-residence in Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace program, I’ll be participating in Open Studios this month! Here are the details:
Friday, April 28, 6-9pm
Saturday, April 29, 1-8pm
28 Liberty Street- 24th floor, New York, NY
Come check it out! I can tell you that this batch of artists, writers, choreographers, and performers are pretty damn talented so if you’re interested in the arts at all, make your way down at the end of this month and feel free to invite everyone! RSVP here!
In London, bees are allowed inside pastry display cases to taste the wares. Would you like a bee with your cinnamon roll? Here, take three. D names the birds for us in Regents Park—wood pigeons, coots, moorhens.We climb up to sit in front of bronze lions in Trafalgar Square but cannot climb onto their slick backs. The double decker buses make you feel as though you’re running over just about everyone. B+D bring us to Chinatown for bubble tea and jianbing as though we were in China and not London after a more traditional meal of fish and chips where I decide I like ijl’s haddock better than my cod and the tartar sauce is surprisingly sweet. And a nighttime view of Big Ben and Parliament. And clouds with a heartbeat within Covent Garden.
The next day, by the London Eye, the most aggressive street performer ever with a bullhorn and a request not to leave until after the finale. And a 5 pound charge, of course. We explore the British Museum and Tate Modern, always free. Cranes crown the skyline of London—I count fifteen then stop because there are still more. After walking over Tower Bridge and past the Tower of London, touts on Brick Lane beckoned us for dinner, ask if we’re hungry. The true answer is yes. The correct answer is probably no. But we say yes anyway and we’re led into, not the restaurant we said yes to, but to another, connected through passageways between dining room and down the stairs where we listen to bankers discussing their salaries which, surprisingly, are lower than we’d expected unless we heard wrong. We get thalis, one vegetarian and one not. The chicken tikka is the best, in my opinion, along with the lamb curry. Ijl likes the tikka masala which is different from ones I’ve had in the states but maybe too creamy for my taste.
Then there’s brunch with B+D the next morning and a walk along Little Venice, small canals lined with houseboats. Most carry sticks and broken panels of wood, perhaps to heat the boats during the winter? Atop some are full gardens and bicycles lying upon their sides. Then Portobello Road Market with a crush of people buying pina coladas in pineapples and supposedly, antiques as well. And a quick ride to St. Pancras Station for our Eurostar train to Paris.
We stay in an adorable studio on Place d’Aligre in the 12th Arrondissement, a street that curves around a plaza so it is easily recognizable on a map. Our first night, we get crepes at Les Embruns, made of buckwheat, and the crème brulee I get is full of vanilla flavor but the sugar top isn’t crispy the way I like. In the morning, a market starts up with antiques vendors in the plaza and fruit & vegetable sellers on the streets. I get a pint of tiny Charlotte strawberries to go with our chocolate croissants, sweet and just right for 1.5 euros. We start out late but wander through the gardens by the Louvre up to the Grand Palais where they’re holding a fine art & design fair. Pay our 10 euros and enter the glass canopied venue with stalls and stalls of furniture, glass, jewelry, and other forms of art from around the world.
It’s a stormy day but thankfully, our host lent us an umbrella of rainbows to take with us to see the cathedral at Notre Dame. Along the way, there are gold covered statues atop buildings and bridges, ornate in a way you don’t see in the U.S., like the temples in Thailand covered with gold leaf. The cathedral is beautiful, of course, but crowded. It’ll be a pattern here in Europe, these beautiful, crowded cathedrals and basilicas. We take the bridge over to the smaller island on the Seine, Île Saint-Louis, for ice cream at Berthillon where the flavors are so vibrant, it seems more like gelato than ice cream. What flavors? Pear & mango & ground peach.
For dinner, Le Trumilou for duck confit & chicken in a tarragon sauce. A bottle of red wine. I order the charcuterie for my appetizer which turns out to be a bit of a mistake—all patés, one of which has a very jelly-like texture. The duck confit comes with potatoes that are perfect, so crispy and smelling of herbs. We leave the umbrella by accident and ijl has to go back to get it. And we learn that Brooklyn has followed us to Paris.
And then there is the Louvre. We take the lesser known entrance by the subway & mall yet there’s still a long line that snakes through the mall. I ask a Chinese tourist in Mandarin whether it’s the line to buy tickets. Funny how it feels more natural to ask a Chinese tourist than a local but my high school French is pretty lacking. We spend hours at the Louvre, watch other tourists take photos of the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, see the tablet with the code of Hammurabi engraved upon it, go through the sculpture gardens for cherubs force-feeding goats in exquisite detail. Wander through its foundations as a fortress and go through its ostentatious rooms of Napoleon III and Louis XIV. In the Islamic art section, there are models of art for the blind that you can touch. Museums make me want to touch everything because you’re not allowed to touch anything.
We take out bikes through the Velib bike share system and ride them all the way to the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower only has one area open with a long line and when we get to the front, we’re told that it was only for the lift. The cashier on the other side for the stairs had only just opened while we were waiting but our cashier takes pity on us and lets them know that we’re coming through. The stairs aren’t too difficult actually; we take them up to the 2nd floor before we take the lift up. On the way, we see the lift with its pseudo elevator beneath it holding a fake conductor on the side. Very odd. We are on the topmost level of the Eiffel Tower as twilight blends into night. The wind howls on one side so we go around to the other, pointing out the landmarks we’d seen.
In the morning, we bike around the Sorbonne and get macarons at Pierre Hermé. I lose my sunglasses while leaping over a curb (we ride dangerously) but otherwise, the bicycling is wonderful compared to NYC. There are bike lanes everywhere and drivers notice bicyclists. Better than taking the subway which, although the trains seemed quick and efficient, the stations smelled of urine. Then it’s off to Geneva!
Things have been pretty crazy here in New York. There have been birthdays and trip planning and future planning and everyday planning like “How do I see my doctor if they decide to go on vacation for several weeks right as I get an ear infection?” July & August: the months when you need to get things done but can’t because everyone’s on vacation.
So, to catch up, here’s a list of everything.
1) David Wax Museum was a lot of fun to listen to and watch when they played last month at a free show in the enclosed parking lot of City Winery. Suz played the donkey jawbone a time or two (one of its teeth popped out!) and there were plenty of new songs I hadn’t heard before! Crazy to think that it’s been four years since I met them when they came to check out my apartment sublet in Amherst.
2) The Chinese consulate. Nervewracking but not as bad as I expected (judging from the terrible yelp reviews) but hey, those yelp reviews were super helpful in filling out the paperwork. You wait in line outside the building, turn off your cell phone, go through the metal detectors, get your number, and wait for the board to read out your number and tell you which window to go to. Quite civilized, actually. I was a bit nervous when the consulate clerk asked me to explain and write out the topic of my writing since I’d put my employment as Writer. It’s a good thing that folktales aren’t politically sensitive! I’d show you a photo but you know, that kind of thing isn’t allowed. Consulates are serious business.
3) Trip planning because…I’m going to Europe for several weeks next month! And then heading to Shanghai on my residency! I’ve been preparing by eating chocolate croissants and using Duolingo to brush up on all this French that I don’t remember learning back in high school. How did I get As if so much of the grammar seems completely new to me? Unfortunately, trip prep also means trying to get all sorts of medical things done when all the doctors want to go on vacation. But that also leads to…
4) NY bucket list activities! Sri Lankan buffet in Staten Island? Check. Kayaking through the canals of Oakdale, complete with white herons fishing beside us? Check. Bronx Zoo where a lion roared at us five times and we saw an adorable red panda? Check. Lunch at the almighty Googley? Check. (Thanks, T! Thanks, Googley! I quite liked those potato pancakes and the beef- was it pot roast?) Eat a Chickenshack sandwich from Shake Shack? Check and it was alright but nothing too special. Hiking with friends+dog upstate? Check (P.S. don’t let your friends carry two gallons and two liters of water because that is INSANE.) I’ve still got a bunch of things on this yet-to-be written down bucket list like go see Catherine Lan’s exhibit at the Queens Museum, go to the Queens Night Market, win the Hamilton lottery, and eat at every place I’ve ever dreamed of eating at. I’m looking at you, Tortilleria Nixtamal+Ice & Vice+the one and only Arepa Lady!
Also, this doesn’t take place in NYC, but I am so so so excited to see Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests in Massachusetts next weekend! So cool. And it’s a good excuse to bring me back to that area and binge on Toscanini’s ice cream which is only the best ice cream in the world. B^3 for the win.
5) And then there was last week where it seemed as though everyone I’d ever known were suddenly either coming to NYC or facebooking me out of the blue. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but I was contacted by two friends I hadn’t talked to in at least 5 years, one of them probably closer to 10 years. And then I went to see the Furious Girl Tour which consisted of three poets I went to grad school with and it was quite furious indeed. Then my landlord+lady (ha) from 2012 was in town and we got lunch at Ayada Thai—it was really tremendously nice to see them and catch up. Many ghosts but they were good ghosts; in general, I’m mostly pretty happy to meet up with people I haven’t seen in a while. So if you’re a good ghost, you can contact me and I’ll probably get a muffin with you. Or force you to watch some free dance shows.
Oh and 6) My story, “Westward, Ever Westward” is coming out in Okey-Panky next Monday! It’s short and sweet; I guarantee you’ll like it or your money back.
This Saturday was the reading I organized—Literary Geographies: A Celebration of Queens Writers! Thank you to all those who came, from my sister and brother-in-law who drove all the way from Long Island to a high school friend I hadn’t seen in years to JPB who introduced the writers and came down from Boston to friends who made the trek out to Queens from other boroughs. And thanks to the QCA and to the folks at the Socrates Sculpture Park, as well! Although it was incredibly sunny and hot, it was truly wonderful to meet the other writers who read with me—Joanne, Jennifer, and Concetta—as well as other members of the Queens arts community—Joan, Anjali, Johanne. Here are some photos from the event!
Afterwards, to Break Bar for jenga+pool then Sripraphai for some tasty thai food—crispy chinese watercress salad, drunken noodles, fried taro+peanuts, penang curry, jungle curry, pad thai, crispy taro in warm coconut milk and water chestnuts+jackfruit (indistinguishable!) in bright colors and floating in a thin sugary broth that reminded ijl of cereal milk.
Today, after a morning of doughnuts and badminton, tea and a quick 2ish mile run, I cracked open Ottolenghi’s Plenty and proceeded to make his “Very full tart.” It’s a beautiful tart (although the vegetable/cheese proportions may be off since it would have been overflowing if I’d added every single thing he said to!) and I can’t wait to eat it.
I probably learned that wonderful piece of “mathematics” first at Omi International Arts Center but hey, I’m reprising it here in New York City! Come join me and three other Queens-based writers at a free public reading at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City on July 11th at 4pm. It’s a bit early to announce it (I seem to like to tell people things last minute, I suppose) but I know people plan their summers way ahead of time.
This will be the culmination of my QCA grant and so, disclaimer: This event is made possible by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The readings will focus on place and I’ve finally finalized my list of readers! They are Joanne Chin, Jennifer Baker, and Concetta A. Ceriello. Yay to discovering new (to me) local writers!
Okay, here’s the official Facebook events page but in case you’re not on Facebook, here are the important details:
July 11, 2015, 4:00pm
Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY
Come out and support the Queens literary community and say hello! (Maybe I will make cookies…? No promises.)
I managed to miss my flight to Costa Rica this morning and don’t plan on ever doing such a thing again. So, instead of dwelling upon it, here’s a blog entry!
I. It’s starting to feel like spring again so I take runs along Astoria Park. The melting snow unveils litter but there are flocks of young folks out at the park, taking photos, jogging, or just hanging out. The ice cream truck has yet to make an appearance and I wonder if this summer, there will be lady cops braiding each others’ hair like last year. I like the smell of the briny East River and the avenue of pale-trunked trees that stretch down toward the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, the way they shine golden while the sun is setting. My left knee seizes a bit while I run—I don’t think it’s a big deal. I’ve yet to experience runner’s high though. Is 3.5 miles not a long enough run to experience it?
II. At work, when I’m not busy making appointments or calling companies to get quotes on things or finagling with Lightroom, I occasionally walk the puppy. She’s a golden retriever, about 4 months old, and she loves EVERYBODY and everything. Cute things: running after leaves blowing along the street, how she likes to hold her own leash and try to instigate a game of tug-of-war by growling, how much she enjoys running with me. Not-so-cute things: she wants to play with every dog (but not every dog wants to play with her!), all the other folks who “HAVE to pet her!” (It gets annoying when it’s about the 3rd or 4th or 5th person…), how she wants to eat all the sticks but we’re not supposed to let her. Walking is a rather slow process.
III. I went to two art fairs recently, during the weekend of the Armory show. I’ll admit I didn’t understand much of the art that was shown at Pulse but was quite intrigued by one Chinese artist who used stickers! Hundreds of stickers! It’s pretty interesting.
I did like the Art on Paper fair much better but maybe because I’m not hip enough to understand the super abstract stuff whereas this fair had more stuff that was just pretty or interesting or maybe just overall, more accessible. I especially like art that is very detailed and show a lot of craft. I thought this piece was pretty cool, like cuts in wood within a wall.
IV. While doing my laundry the other day, I realized that my apartment has 3 dollies. A tiny red one, a medium-sized black one, and a large blue one. I picked the large blue one. Its wheels weren’t the best as it only liked to go straight and quite disliked turns but it’s funny how many dollies an apartment of three girls need. One for each of us? None of my apartments had ever had one before so I started wondering if it was a New York thing. After all, I usually associate these little wheeled carts with little old ladies, not 20-something year olds but hey, I’m now the one pushing it and my roommates don’t find it strange at all. Soon enough, I’ll start grocery shopping with it…
V. Writing news! Sorry, but actually, there is no writing news. Well, I’ve been writing stories at a decent clip, as well as submitting stuff for grants, lit mags, etc but it requires quite a bit of patience (especially grant apps!) so…nothing too exciting has been happening. Still figuring out plot points for my monk story and need to edit a bunch of my newer work. I also volunteered to read for a contest so there’s been plenty of reading happening. But actually, I’ve probably spent most of my time planning for this upcoming vacation (and still haven’t learned much Spanish.) Oh, and I also funded this cool Kickstarter started by Jed Berry for his new press, Ninepin Press. I’ve heard him read from this story and it’s awesome! Plus lots of bonuses since they’ve surpassed their goal!
I’m sure I’ve done more in the month or so since I last posted but I’m not terribly good at remembering (or maybe all I did was run and read and write and trip plan?) Well, there was eating and Chinese New Year, which is basically the same thing as eating but with more family, and making these delicious cream biscuits, and best friends visiting to go to the Studio Museum in Harlem (really cool!) and eating Sichuan food at Lan Sheng and talks about Manchuria at the NYPL, as well as more eating but who wants to read about all that? Maybe next time, I’ll just write about eating 😛
I suppose I’ve been rather lax about updating this blog lately but I’ve been busy, I swear! I went to a meet and greet last week for a grant I received through the Queens Council on the Arts for this collection and a reading that I’ll be holding at Socrates Sculpture Park this summer (so excited!) and met many of the other grantees who were working on projects from faux-fur paintings to novels set in Jackson Heights to jazz festivals in Flushing. It was really fun hearing about all these great, diverse projects that are being funded and I’m looking forward to going to my fellow grantees’ events this year.
I’ve also been busily writing since my editor and I agreed on a schedule in which I’d send him a new short story every 2.5 weeks. It’s pretty intense but I’m glad I have someone to hold me accountable and push me. I did manage to write a story in about a week—I’d been toying with the idea for months and been trying out different ways of telling the story but finally figured out what would work. It’s still a bit unfocused so it’ll be great when I get his feedback.
I managed to catch a few shows recently. Parsons Dance at the Joyce Theater which was amazing. Admittedly, I don’t know much about dance but you have to admire what these dancers can do. And the crazy strobe light effects for “Caught”! It makes me feel lazier than ever and wonder how much contemporary dance classes would cost…
I also saw Classic Stage Company’s A Month in the Country. I hadn’t read or seen the play before, a classic of Turgenev’s, but was rather surprised at the modern tone of the play. The translation CSC had commissioned had quite a bit of modern phrasing and didn’t feel Russian at all to me; I think I would’ve liked it to have been a bit less contemporary and more Russian, but that’s a personal preference. I thought the acting was quite good though, especially from the main actress, Taylor Schilling.
The “historic” blizzard wasn’t quite so historic in New York city although the other day, the tree branches were encased with ice so that they sparkled. From where I work, there’s a beautiful view of Central Park although the corners of streets are slushy with deep puddles of dirty water. The doormen have to wear thick waterproof dark jackets that go down to their knees and sometimes, hats that make them almost unrecognizable. Sometimes, the radiators will burn you if you touch them. And it can be very cozy to be snowed in, to drink hot chocolate and read a book with the snow falling outside. But there’s something about winter in New York that makes you ready for summer, a combination of city fatigue and winter fatigue. Maybe some real greenery would help. Maybe a trip to South America…