Tag Archives: memory

A year of reading

(and writing and applying…)

Hey, 2014 has been a pretty good year. Here are a few numbers* (it’s that time of year, right?)

1 move (to NYC)
2 stories published (White Snake, Green Snake in Fairy Tale Review and What Is Lost in Interfictions)
12 stories/projects in various stages (around 6 finished but probably in need of editing)
1 residency at Omi International Arts Center
1 fellowship at The Center for Fiction
3 readings (2 upstate, 1 in NYC)
5 states visited (RI, MA, CA, PA, DE)
18 job interviews
2 jobs
2 interviews (here & here)
15 blog posts (including this one!)
1 bicycle
1 Chinese conversation meetup attended
2 upstate hikes (Harriman State Park, Cold Spring) + more SF hikes
1 cat fashion show attended
2 bowling nights
6 plays seen (Stage Kiss, The Killer, Indian Ink, The Cottage, Wicked Frozen, Pocatello)
3 movies seen in theaters/does Central Park count? (American Hustle, Interstellar, The Royal Tenenbaums)
7 museums visited (The Met, MoMA, The Brooklyn Museum, Noguchi, Sculpture Center, Rubin, Museum of Chinese in America…I have a feeling I’m forgetting some…)
many new-to-me parks and gardens (Riverside, Astoria Park, Socrates Sculpture Park, Gantry State Park, Prospect Park, McCarren Park, SF Botanic Gardens, Oakland’s Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens)
and…
65 books read! Here’s this year’s list:

1. Five Star Billionaire-Tash Aw
2. Tenth of December- George Saunders
3. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt- Aimee Bender (re-read)
4. A Natural History of Dragons- Marie Brennan
5. Soul Mountain- Gao Xingjian (didn’t finish)
6. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.- Adelle Waldman
7. The Color Master- Aimee Bender
8. The Magician’s Assistant- Ann Patchett
9. The Isle of Youth- Laura Van Den Berg
10. Tyrannia- Alan DeNiro
11. Ha’Penny- Jo Walton
12. The Defining Decade- Meg Jay (NF)
13. Love in the Time of Algorithms- Dan Slater (NF)
14. Super Sad True Love Story- Gary Shteyngart
15. Maddaddam- Margaret Atwood
16. Love Minus Eighty- Will Mcintosh
17. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children- Ransom Riggs
18. On Such a Full Sea- Chang-rae Lee
19. The Interestings- Meg Wolitzer
20. Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather- Gao Xingjian (didn’t finish)
21. The Love Story of a Young Monk- Wang Zengqi
22. Fairy Tale Review- 10th anniversary Emerald Issue
23. The Corpse Exhibition and other stories of Iraq- Hassan Blasim
24. A Thousand Morons- Quim Monzo
25. Gone to the Forest- Katie Kitamura
26. The Inheritance of Loss- Kiran Desai
27. The Tiger’s Wife- Tea Obreht
28. Boy, Snow, Bird- Helen Oyeyemi
29. East, West- Salman Rushdie
30. 2013 Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellows Anthology
31. The Cat’s Table- Michael Ondaatje
32. Soy Sauce for Beginners- Kirstin Chen
33. Running in the Family- Michael Ondaatje (NF)
34. Free Food for Millionaires- Min Jin Lee
35. Arcadia- Tom Stoppard (re-read)
36. Hark! A Vagrant- Kate Beaton
37. The Longshot- Katie Kitamura
38. The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold- Kate Bernheimer
39. Horse, Flower, Bird- Kate Bernheimer
40. The Enchantress of Florence- Salman Rushdie
41. Bellweather Rhapsody- Kate Racculia
42. The Snow Child- Eowyn Ivey
43. Fourth of July Creek- Smith Henderson
44. Prayers for the Stolen- Jennifer Clement
45. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle- Haruki Murakami
46. Cementville- Paulette Livers
47. The Enchanted- Rene Denfeld
48. The Beautiful Indifference- Sarah Hall
49. I Capture the Castle- Dodie Smith (re-read)
50. The Great Glass Sea- Josh Weil
51. Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal- Ava Chin (NF)
52. 2014 Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellows Anthology
53. Whistling Vivaldi- Claude M. Steele (NF)
54. In Persuasion Nation- George Saunders
55. State of Wonder- Ann Patchett
56. Dataclysm- Christian Rudder (NF)
57. Disgrace- J.M. Coetzee
58. Bossypants- Tina Fey (NF)
59. Chocolat- Joanne Harris
60. The Reprisal- Laudomia Bonanni, translated by Susan Stewart & Sara Teardo
61. This Is Where I Leave You- Jonathan Tropper
62. Stone Mattresses- Margaret Atwood
63. The Emerald Light in the Air- Donald Antrim
64. The Land of Steady Habits- Ted Thompson
65. The Invention of Exile- Vanessa Manko

*numbers may not be completely accurate due to author’s imperfect memory. Random additions or subtractions may be added.

Happy new year!

Autumn Nostalgia

New York City is not silent but it feels so without the rising and falling cadence of the cicadas. The air is not filled with smog on certain days and there are no mountains to see, just skyscrapers in Manhattan or rows of duplexes in Queens or maybe the brownstones in Brooklyn. On a cool day, I wonder if I bicycled during the autumn two years ago but then remember how hot and humid it was in Hangzhou when I arrived, sweat dripping down my back and chest as I biked around the city. Did I bike during the winter then? When the woven mats were strewn on the snow-covered sidewalks? It’s hard to believe it has been a year since I’ve left and it both feels too long and too short like my mind and time cannot reach an agreement.

It feels odd to miss the cicadas, so loud and so annoying when I was there. But less odd to miss the beauty of West Lake and the ease of bicycling, the mountains so close to where I lived. Less odd to miss the street food and think about grilled eggplant covered in chili oil, garlic, and small bits of ground pork and the pan-fried dumplings made every morning by a lady with a tiny dingy storefront on Lianhua Jie . To remember the night we stayed up, walking home from the nightclub during the wee hours of the morning and coming upon a small gathering of food carts where we sat and chatted until the sun rose at 6am. And how two Mid-Autumn Festivals ago, I sent a fire lantern up into the sky with classmates in Harbin, on the banks of the Songhua Jiang, and had Pizza Hut for dinner.

I know I’m late but中秋节快乐!
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“What Is Lost” in Interfictions

I just returned from my 5th year reunion (oh, how time flies!) in Providence to see that my story, “What Is Lost” is up at Interfictions! It’s part memoir, part fiction about the China I knew fifteen years ago and was actually written before I went to China again in 2012. It’s really amazing how much China has changed in 15 years and the things you notice when you’re young versus what you notice when you’re older. And the faultiness of memory!

My reunion was also a reminder of that as well. I’d forgotten which street was George Street even though I’d lived right off of it my freshman year! But my friends mostly still looked the same and the buildings, too, although plenty had been renovated. I’d also forgotten how beautiful Providence is in the summertime with azaleas and rhododendrons blooming everywhere in wild spurts of color. A few days were rainy but the sun shone bright on graduation day and it was lovely to be walking down College Hill with my class and to cheer and be cheered by faculty, fellow alums, and new grads.
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As for Coney Island on Memorial Day…so much brighter and more packed than I remember. Less of the seediness of old and are all these rollercoasters new? It’s been years for me. P1110897 P1110936