Some notes on notes

Hello, readers.

At one time, I kept a journal in which at the end of every day I wrote about the aforementioned day in the form of the following lists:

1) What did I do today?
2) What was I afraid of?
3) What did I do despite my fear?
4) What will I do tomorrow?

I did this for well over a year. It became a mental subroutine that, after some time, ran in the background throughout the day and then, rather easily, loaded up in the evening and generated output.

Three things I really loved about this.

1) I felt on top of things. I kept myself accountable. If I didn’t get something done, no worries. I knew that I would put it down in my journal with, more than likely, some thoughts of how to get it done.

2) Fear became conscious. Writing about my fears meant that pretty soon when I was scared to do something I would recognize that fear and think about how that night I would be writing about having felt that fear and how it influenced my actions. I felt stronger knowing my future self would be looking back at my present self.

3) I found having a schedule for reflection very helpful. Otherwise it’s all nostalgia all the time. My mind adores going over the past over and over again. Having a set time to reflect on my day, and its fears and hopes, was freeing.

One day, I stopped journaling. I felt that the sub-routine was so much a part of me that actually writing it all down felt unnecessary. And it was.

But lately I’ve missed writing a journal. I have and still do write all my stories long-hand, but what journaling I’ve done has been mostly in the form of this and other blogs, or notes stored in an Evernote notebook called Thoughts.

It’s not my favorite Evernote notebook.

It feels cumbersome to open Evernote and decided if my thought goes into the Thoughts notebook or another notebook.

Yesterday, I downloaded the Day One app and Vesper with this idea in mind of how to reflect on my life. I could use a notebook, but with my habit, lately, of always moving I am weary of collecting more notebooks than necessary (see above re: writing stories longhand).

Having Evernote, I did wonder if it was possible to have too many note apps. The answer of course is yes. Another answer and concern is that sometimes it feels like downloading apps replaces real action.

In this case, though, I feel like the different apps provide different contexts and so trigger different ways of thinking. Evernote, as some say, functions ike a big filing cabinet. Vesper will, I hope, function as a small notebook that stays forever tucked in my back pocket. I’ll take it out and make notes throughout the day and file the best ones away in Day One, or in Evernote.

And some of those thoughts, however filed, may end up here on the blog. Like this post. Which I wrote a large amount of in Day One when I was thinking of how I spent yesterday.

I don’t imagine that will happen too much.

Also, I’ve been thinking about creating a video blog. Which is a whole other thing. I wonder in what context, I would draft scripts? There’s an app called Drafts I might try.

Using all these apps, maybe I’ll keep my Evernote cabinet, and my mind, uncluttered by shards of half-considered inspiration. Or is that what I want? A cabinet full of the land of was and might be. I don’t know.

I don’t want to be fragmented in an unconscious way. I want my life to be chaotic and tagged, whimsical and precise. We’ll see how it goes.

Happy thoughts, readers.



Hello, readers.

Last night, some friends went to a HCMC karaoke place called Nnice. I don’t know what the extra ‘n’ is for. The room seated 9 comfortably and included walls on which rows of cut-out circles lit up like an equalizer. The rum was not good. Don’t drink it. I sang, among other things, “Stand By Me,” “I Swear,” and “Rainbow Connection.” The last may be my new go-to karaoke song. It’s singable and also it makes some people cry in the best of ways.

Previously mentioned future-writing-process-blogger, Luke Pebler, has put up his writing process blog in which therein are discussed: near-future immigrant power bandits, rock music revolutions on the moons of Jupiter, and how drafting stories is like “old progressive jpegs.” It’s great stuff.

An interesting article about how smart people sometimes are dumb by dint of their being smart enough to put themselves in contexts in which they keep being right and forget how often they might be wrong. (via daringfireball)

During the course of a 30+ hour journey from the U.S. to Vietnam, I spent about 8 hours in Tokyo’s two airports, Narita and Haneda. There was a missed connection and a transfer via a limousine bus involved. At Haneda, two Korean girls had a selfie-like photo shoot that was AMAZING. So many poses. Walking poses, surprise peek-a-boo poses. I loved it. I wish I had some pictures.

Two years ago today, I took a walk with a person who I knew I liked but didn’t know how much I would grow to love them. We had margaritas, missed a bus, and then attempted to find fireworks. We saw some from a bus that we didn’t miss. On the bus, there was a crazy person who kept yelling about things I’ve forgotten. What I remember of that night is that we got off the bus, walked down near the ocean, and saw some fireworks.

I love fireworks. I hope you have some in your today, readers. Or, if not today, then tomorrow. Or yesterday. Fireworks explode across time.


Happy love and fireworks, readers.



Writing, Valerie, Nashville, Time

A view of downtown Nashville from the observation park in Public Square. Note the pride flag and Batman, the building.

Hello, readers.

Here are the words from the subject with more details and in a different order.

1) Nashville

Nashville is different. The pride parade is sponsored by Nissan and Dollar General, among others, and populated, in part, by politico’s passing out stickers. I don’t know what the pride parade used to be like (as I didn’t take part in one until I had left Nashville for Seoul), but I imagine it wasn’t such a welcoming atmosphere a few years ago. Yesterday, though, the sky was blue, the streets full of rainbows and cheers.

Do we look good? Yes.
Do we look good? Yes.
Behold. Rocketwater!
Behold. Rocketwater!

Also. Nashville has a lot more coffee than before. There’s Dose out on the west-side, Barista to the east, 8th and Roast to the south, and Louisville to the north, and a growing plethora in between. I love to work in Roast because it’s small, quiet, and full of old light.


I love to talk and eat in Barista, because it’s big, bustling, and there are gluten-free biscuits. Roast took its tables from a bowling alley. Barista took its space from an old garage.

See. Garage. Also, it is a happy place.
See. Garage. Also, it is a happy place.


2) Time

I remember when Nashville was different, when it wasn’t the it town, when pride marches weren’t sponsored by Dollar General, which is to say that every time I come back to Nashville I realize that I’m old and I feel sadhappy at the chance to experience change.

This week, I visited my old home and saw this.

If you squint, you can see where the kitchen used to be. It probably helps if you have lived here before.
If you squint, you can see where the kitchen used to be. It probably helps if you have lived here before.

This was to be expected as new people are going to live in this house and not be related to me or my sister. I was sad when my Mom died. Looking at the house where she and I and her parents used to live, I don’t feel sad. A part of me feels excited at what change will bring to this place. Mom and sister wanted to see it changed. They dreamed about what it could be. Now someone will see that dream happen. And so can we.

My home is somewhere else now, and with someone else. That is how time works. Also airplanes. I’m not sure what I’m saying just yet. Maybe it will come to me.

Here’s something my Dad used to say: “I’ve had my adventures. Now it’s your turn.”

Thank you, Dad.

3) Valerie

Nashville has always been good at music. Earlier this week, we saw the Song Suffragettes at the Listening Room Cafe.


Courtney Cole
Courtney Cole
l/r: Courtney Cole, Kalie Shorr, Lena Stein, Daisy Mallory, Sarah Allison Turner
l/r: Courtney Cole, Kalie Shorr, Lena Stein, Daisy Mallory, Sarah Allison Turner


Tonight we’ll see Valerie June at 3rd and Lindsley as part of Lightning 100’s Sunday night series.

4) Writing

At Clarion, after being told by Walter Jon Williams to write a story about rodeo clowns, I wrote a story about rodeo clowns which was also a musical. Sort of. I’m rewriting it now after watching Singing in the Rain. It may end up with some other things assembled by the awkward robots.

Also, next month, on July 13th, you can buy an anthology from Little Bird Publishing what contains many wonderful dark YA fairy tales including one from me. I will remind you again later.


Happy June, readers. Happy time and things.



New review and other things.

Hello, readers.

Today, I find myself in a cafe very near my home. It’s called Sleepy Town. Howie Day is singing about the best falling down. There is a bicycle hanging on the wall and, across the room, a scale-model of giant electrical towers connected by power cables that bounce when people walk by.

I spent the large part of my morning at the top of my very tall house writing a story about a girl and magical things and stuff. It is one of my favorite ways to spend a morning. Later today, I will visit a fine Indian restaurant and eat delicious jalfrezi’s and korma’s and maybe some channa. Possibly a dosa or two. Probably not all of those things or I would die.

Earlier this week, my review of Karen Russell’s latest collection of stories, “Vampires in the Lemon Grove,” appeared at Strange Horizons. They are in the middle of their fund drive. If you’ve got some spare change, toss it their way. They’re good people.

Happy Sunday, readers.

p.s. I am loving Alif the Unseen. It mixes religion and myth and hackers in a way that delights me terribly much.

p.p.s. Finally figured out a background that works for both me and iOS7. This was, not kidding, a highlight of my week. I like when things are pretty and functional.

p.p.p.s. This is pretty.


p.p.p.p.s. This is cute and sad and fun. I found it walking about the streets.


Some things about me.

Hello, readers.

I am a writer, teacher, traveler, and geek living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In the past I have blogged here, and lived here. Having moved from Seoul to HCMC, and having finished and begun rewriting a book partially inspired by my time in Seoul, I thought it was perhaps time to move myself to a new home on the web. I do not know if my home will remain as it is now for very long, or if I will redecorate a bit. At the moment, the only real furnishing is the banner at the top which rotates among pictures I have taken during my travels through space and time.

Here are some things about me.

1) I love Doctor Who and have, on many occasions, instructed my students in the joyful horror of “Blink.”

2) My sister once passed to me cassette tapes containing the audio of several Monty Python sketches and that has made if not all, quite a bit of difference.

3) You can read a couple of my stories here and here, as well as one called “Some Things About Love, Magic, and Hair,” which is here and also which inspired the name of this post. Or, rather, most likely, it’s just that I love the construction ‘some things’ and recycle its use without really being aware I’m doing it until I’ve already done it.

4) I very much love words like ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ because I find the world sometimes very difficult to describe, or understand, without leaving a lot of things unsaid and rather vague.

5) I love precision.

6) I am often at conflict with myself which makes me, more or less, like all the things and stuff that have ever existed.

7) I have published many reviews at Strange Horizons which you can find by clicking the publications button up there at the top of the page underneath the picture of whatever is currently the picture.

8) You may follow me on tumblr, or twitter, goodreads, or pinterest, if your heart did ever so desire.

9) Currently, I’m reading Alif the Unseen and loving it very, very much.

10) I very much enjoy lists, which, if you know me, you already know. And if you don’t know me, now you do.

Happy Saturday, readers.

See you in the future.