the heart of a fourteen-year-old girl

Hello, readers.

One afternoon at City Grocery in Oxford, before my father died, and after one or another trip home to spell my sister from taking care of him in his less than self-sufficient state, I mentioned to Barry Hannah how spending time with my dad, and listening to his collection of Abba and Enya and love for Sarah McLachlan, that it was more and more apparent to me that he possessed the heart of a fourteen-year-old girl.

To which Barry Hannah, a gloriously and infamously unpredictable man, known as much for shooting a hole in his car’s floorboard to drain floodwater as for writing the sort of stories where people killed each other with uprooted tombstones, said to me, “And what’s wrong with having the heart of a fourteen-year-old girl?

And I said, “Nothing’s wrong it.”

And he said, “Sometimes I think that’s what I got.”

And I said, “Me, too.”

If at all possible one should choose one’s role models so that a fair share of them are men possessed of the heart of a fourteen-year-old girl.

Also.

Regrettable things our white relatives have said to us.

You’re not like other Asians. You know, the real Asians.

Were you closing your eyes in that photo? I can never tell with you.

Of course I was surprised when your parents adopted a Korean, but I wasn’t unhappy about it.

Happy monday, readers.
ttfn.

all of our wars are belong to us

Hello, readers.

Thursday. Camera Obscura. Memories of being too excited to sleep before Christmas day. I had this radio beside my bed. Same model my dad had. Lot’s of soft, grey, squishy buttons. A few well-tuned sliders. On Christmas eve, when 8 hours felt like forever, and clearly the fastest way to get there was to fall asleep, but the terrifying prospect of joy ahead wired my eyes wide open, I would pop in a cassette tape into that clock radio. On the tape, there were stories of some kind. Seems like they were Christmas stories. Rudolph. Frosty. Christmas villages here and there, touched by magic, by hope, by men that might melt, and reindeer that might fly.

On Colbert’s last show before his last show, Phil Klay talked about his national book award winning book. Redeployment. In his interview, he said that the war in Iraq, that all of our wars, are belong to us. He maybe didn’t say it that way. But that’s what he meant. Even if you don’t pay attention. Especially if you pay attention.

Here is a website listing books discussed on Colbert.

What I remember about waking up on Christmas morning is silence. That moment when you open your eyes and outside your window there’s a maple tree and grass covered in frost. Soon, you’ll be up. You’ll be checking on your parents to see how sound they’re sleeping. You’ll be checking on the manner and shape of boxes arranged on the christmas skirt. But, really, the first thing you’ll do. The very first thing you’ll do is stay in bed, after all of that excitement and wonder if you’ll ever sleep, and you’ll enjoy the moment you woke up.

And then you’ll go wake up your sister.

That was my plan.

Happy Thursday, readers.

ttfn.

bread

Hello, readers.

This could have happened on a Monday. Or it might have been Thursday. Might be it doesn’t matter when it happened, so much as that it did.

Except, in this case, I know.

This was definitely Monday.

What I remember is eating a slice of bread, sitting half on her kitchen floor and half on her living room carpet, my legs stretched out and her sitting beside me, my body empty and electric and my heart so still, so terrified to beat because that would mean time passing, and I wanted nothing more than for this moment to last forever, me eating a slice of her bread, us sitting beside each other, drops of rain lingering in her hair like shattered glass, and both of us knowing in a way we had never known anything before.

Happy Monday, readers.

ttfn.

occasionally

Hello, readers.

Occasionally, one has lunch in the gardens of Gray’s Inn, sitting on a bench, resting your styrofoam-held tempeh curry precariously on one knee, and you listen to EG discuss how, once upon a time, this area was full of barristers and solicitors–all those hopes and frustrations discussed and written and argued within chambers around the square–and the trees stand watch along the lane, other people having other lunches beneath, leaves flashing gold and tumbling in their own occasional space and time the way, sometimes, EG says that she imagines me walking along the streets of London, duffel coat tucked tight, scarf snaking loose along one shoulder, occasionally pulling a hand from my pocket to let the emotions tumble free like leaves along the pavement, waiting.

Occasionally, these things happen.

Happy today, readers.

ttfn.

monday moment

Hello, readers.

This could have happened on a Monday. Or it might have been Thursday. Might be it doesn’t matter when it happened, so much as that it did.

What happened was that I came out of my room afraid that my parents were fighting again. They fought a lot. And at volume. As a lot of parents do, each in their own way, with shattered glass or damning declaratives or blusterous sighs. During one argument, I remember being so angry and scared that I threw my toy rabbit at the floor. The toy rabbit wore rollerskates. One of the wheels broke. I was crushed.

But they weren’t fighting that day. They were sitting on the couch, looking at pictures and laughing. I asked if everything was okay. They smiled. Actual grins. And said yeah. I don’t remember what pictures they were looking at. Or what they were laughing about. I must’ve been about eleven. Unless I was six. Somewhere in there, I guess, between those ages when it seemed that if my parents raised their voices it almost always meant something wasn’t okay.

But on that day, and on probably more days than I remember or ever knew, my parents were just two people sitting together and sharing something of the joy of being close to someone.

It’s cold and gray out there today, readers. Stay warm.

Happy Monday.

ttfn.

p.s. Stay tuned for how orgcon2014 changed my life.

p.p.s. I realize people say things changed their life all the time and that the phrase has lost some of its meaning. This is okay by me. Everything changes your life, so I pretty much feel like the phrase means everything it always meant which is that I noticed one part of the everything that changes my life.

moments

Hello, readers.

Last night, I attended a screening of Gyeongju, shown as part of the The London Korean Film Festival. A full review of that will appear shortly, including descriptions of the crowd what included sparkling converses and spider-haired men that smelled of beer and damp sheets.

In other news, this happened.

And this.

The other day, in this post, I described a moment from my life. I enjoyed it. I will most likely do it more, and I will tag each such entry with the tag, ‘moments’. Many of the moments will probably be moments that involved me. Some of them may not. Some of them I might make up. All of them will be real, though, and will have happened to me. Especially the ones I make up.

Happy moments, readers.

ttfn.

p.s. As you go to sleep tonight, try to remember one moment. Could be from today, or yesterday, or from a film, or a story someone told you once. Hold the moment in mind, let it sit on the tip of your tongue. See if it speaks to you in your dreams.

p.p.s. That came out sounding much more romantic and, um, dreamy that I originally intended. Ah, well. These things happen.

space

Hello, readers.

One late night, while walking through a field near Oxford, Mississippi, a friend turned to me and asked, between the shush-shush of our steps through the tall grass, “Do you ever feel like when you look up at the stars you see more than other people?”

We were walking to a pond near a farmer’s house. We were meant to go skinny dipping. A late-night walk, a late-night swim, a return home, a goodnight, a goodbye. One of our friends was leaving the next day for distant mountains and very well known dangers.

I looked up. I saw more stars than I had ever seen. It was so dark and so clear that you could see the dust between the stars. Galaxies caught in the winds of dark matter.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean because we grew up with Star Trek and Babylon 5 and Star Wars, because we read Foundation and Dune, because we care about the multiverse and so when we look up we see aliens and star destroyers and sliders surfing the dimensions. We see stories.”

I knew what he meant. And I said so.

“I know what you mean,” I said. “Stories in the dust.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

Now, thinking about it, I suppose I could have said that people have been dreaming into the dust since forever. I could have mentioned Cyrano de Bergerac’s L’Autre Monde: ou les États et Empires de la Lune, or Dante’s various planetary paradises, or those Hindu epics of flying machines that flew equally well underwater or in outer space. But, that wasn’t what he meant. And I knew what he meant then and now. He meant that we possessed a shared inheritance and responsibility of wonder that had been passed down from forever and, for us, that wonder happened to be populated with Skywalkers and Baron Harkonnens, as opposed to angels and demons, and it would be our job as writers to keep populating the dust with stories of what was and what still might be.

Happy Wednesday, readers.

ttfn.

p.s. Later this month, EG and I will be seeing 2001. It will be her first time. Hopefully, we’ll catch Interstellar, as well. One must never stop re-wondering the imagination.