meme


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This meme inspired by Violeta and Jade Park.

1. Who was your first prom date? I did not go to any prom.

2. Do you still talk to your first love? We don’t talk, but email a few times a year.

3. What was your first alcoholic drink? I’m pretty sure it was a screwdriver.

4. What was your first job? Working for a mail-order shortwave radio company after school, starting in tenth grade. I loved that job. I was in charge of their tiny “shipping department” and mailing lists, and I prepared packages for shipment. I had a crush on the UPS man, who visited daily. For a high school student, I had a great income. I kept that job until I went to college.

5. What was your first car? 1979 Toyota Celica hatchback. I loved that car, and drove it cross-country after I graduated from college. It ended up getting totalled in an accident I had crossing Market Street in San Francisco.

6. Who was the first person to text you today? Today? Nobody. It’s only 7:30am!

7. Who is the first person you thought of this morning? My spouse.

8. Who was your first grade teacher? Mrs. Richter. She lived around the corner from me. “Richter is stricter,” was the motto about her, but she was soft under her tough crust.

9. Where did you go on your first ride on an airplane? I think it was to California with my godmother when I was seven.

10. Who was your first best friend, and are you still friends with him/her? My first best friend was Roger Klein, in preschool. I used to affectionately call him Bowling-Ball Head, because he had a black crew cut and a very round head. I think my mother told me he became a dentist. I never saw him after kindergarten, but I remember playing with plastic soldiers on the floor next to his bunk bed. I was very envious of both (the soldiers and the bed).

11. What was your first sport played? I was on the track team in high school. I couldn’t deal with balls of any kind. I ran the 880. (half mile) I remember barfing by the side of the track a lot.

12. Where was your first sleepover? My cousin Kelly Ann’s house. Does it count if it’s a relative?

13. Who was the first person you talked to today? My husband. “What TIME is it?” “Quarter to six.” GROAN.

14. Whose wedding were you in the first time? My own. I’ve never been a flower girl/bridesmaid.

15. What was the first thing you did this morning? Tried to go back to sleep, couldn’t.

16. What was the first concert you ever went to? The Edgar Winter Group (remember “Frankenstein”? the long-haired Albino brothers?) at the Schaefer Music Festival at Wollman Rink in Central Park. 1972, I was 13 I think. I went with some people from the youth group at my church. It was the beginning of a long career of concert-going.

17. What was your first tattoo or piercing? I got my ears pierced when I was twenty six, in Santa Cruz. I was still afraid my mother would be mad. She’d never let me do it when I was younger because she thought it would make me look “cheap.”

18. What was the first foreign country you went to? Japan when I was ten.

19. What was your first run-in with the law? Trespassing in a closed regional park in the winter in Ithaca, New York, when I was twenty-two. I was photographing with a friend from Sweden, and we had to go to the judge’s house at seven in the morning, and he came to the door in his bathrobe. My friend was terrified he’d be deported.

20. When was your first detention? I never had detention.

21. What was the first state you lived in? New Jersey.

22. Who was the first person to break your heart? My birthmother.

23. Who was your first roommate? In college, it was Annemarie, who was great, but before that, it was all the girls I ever went to camp with, starting at Camp Tapawingo in upstate New York.

24. Where did you go on your first limo ride? Last December, in Las Vegas. It turned out limos were cheaper than the Super Shuttle!

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Sometimes I love doing memes, but completely “open” memes with no form or structure make me nervous. Jade Park tagged me to do this “8 things meme” and it has no rules, so I am completely stealing her “openers”…

  1. I was born in… New Rochelle, New York. New Rochelle’s big claim to fame is that that is where the Dick Van Dyke show was supposedly set. I also, in my last year of college, did my physical therapy internship in the same hospital where I was born, and I would’ve used that position to steal my birth records, if I hadn’t already done it before then.
  2. I absolutely HATE… going to the dentist, even nice ones. I’d rather get ten mammograms.
  3. When I was a little girl… I had to wear foot braces for many years because I was “pigeon-toed.”
  4. All I need in life to be happy is… doing work that feels good, having time to write, time to be with loved ones and time to be alone. In about equal measure.
  5. I like cheese. A lot. Humboldt Fog, Manchego, Cambazola, Maytag Blue and more.
  6. I looooove Barack Obama.
  7. Apparently, I am…. an insane, irrational, over-emotional nutjob. Just ask my 17 year old.
  8. I have several mottos…. but right now I’m remembering one my dad used to say all the time and which I obviously took to heart: “Never have one boss.” He was a salesman who worked on commission for anywhere from nine to sixteen companies. He felt like it was too risky to work for solely one company (and lots of them tried to woo him, because he was a kick-ass salesman), because if they let you go, you were up a creek. I started working part-time at three different places as soon as I graduated from college, and I’ve never had a full time job since.

I tag: Ericka, Kamau, Kittbo, Sume, Daphne, and Mel. And anyone else who has a blog and wants to go for it!

You can either do it the “cheating” way (ie, using the front ends of the above sentences) or think up eight totally random things.

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Nova tagged me for this meme. I was fascinated by her answers. It is not one I would have signed up for voluntarily, and at first, I thought, this is impossible; I haven’t written a book yet.  Rather, haven’t finished one yet. But I guess even the unfinished books each have tell-tale signs in common….

1.  It will have lots of close-up descriptions of things, especially particular colors.

2.  If will feature one or many Japanese-American characters.

3.  It will involve characters keeping secrets from each other, and other characters trying to unravel the secrets.

4. It will somehow involve issues of family and identity.

5. It will NOT be set in Europe, Africa or Australia. It might, however, be set in various parts of North America or Latin America.

6. There will probably be at least a passing mention, if not downright focus, on some health or medical issue.

7. Reproductive choice will probably come up at some point.

8. There will be sprinkling of words and terms not in English, but probably Spanish and Japanese.

9.  Oddly, there is usually at least one mention of eggs.

10. It takes a minimum of ten years to write and complete.

I tag: anyone who has written a book, or is in the process of writing one (or more than one).

I cried watching this tonight, and so did my husband. But it is almost sickening to watch. I can’t stand the thought of hoping hoping hoping – could it happen? (the crowd yelled, YES WE CAN!) Obama himself spoke of doubt and cynicism being our biggest pitfalls. I can’t bear the thought of having the possibility of Barack Obama being president, and then having it taken away.

I was going to go to a solo performance show tomorrow night, but I just decided to go to an Obama fundraiser instead.

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I guess I am in a very meme-ish mode this week. I got this one from Nova.

What’s the last thing you wrote?

Other than blog posts, I wrote my paper for a panel I’m going to be on at AWP next week.

Was it any good?

I think so. My panel moderator liked it a lot, which was a huge relief.

What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?

A green marbled composition book that contains stories I wrote when I was five.

Write poetry?

Some, but not often.

Angsty poetry?

Unfortunately, probably yes.
Favorite genre of writing?

I am getting fonder and fonder of creative nonfiction.

Most fun character you’ve ever created?

A janitor named Skunk who works in a biology lab.

Most annoying character you’ve ever created?

Probably anybody based on myself.

Best plot you’ve ever created?

I haven’t created a plot I’m fully happy with yet. This, I believe, is my weakness. Maybe once I get a handle on this, I’ll finally publish an original novel under my own name. Yes, I’m scared of plot. Let’s not talk about it, okay? (I stole this verbatim from Nova, because it’s exactly how I feel)

Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?

I said I don’t want to talk about it! (ditto, Nova)

How often do you get writer’s block?

It cycles around. Right now I seem to be having a major fictional writing block, but the creative nonfiction is flowing.

Write fan fiction?

Eek, no.

Do you type or write by hand?

Both.

Do you save everything you write?

Absolutely.Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?

I don’t think anything is ever permanently abandoned (spoken as an adoptee).

What’s your favorite thing you’ve written?

I’m awfully proud of my essay “If” in Choice, which went through about 20 major rewrites. It started as an angsty poem; I’ve been working on it for 18 years now.

What’s everyone else’s favorite story that you’ve written?

I have no idea.

Do you ever show people your work?

Yes. Perhaps too much.

Did you ever write a novel?

Don’t ask, please.Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Romance, not really. The novel I was working on last year could possibly be classified as an ATD.

What’s your favorite setting for your characters?

Upstate New York or Latin America.
How many writing projects are you working on right now?

A lot. Regular blog (does that count?), monthly column, various anthology pieces, two novels, a memoir and short story collection.

Do you want to write for a living?

Um, I’m not sure. I would hate to have to depend on my writing to live. I think that would be pressure-ful and scary. I like doing something else for a living.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Yes, in graduate school, but not since.

Ever written anything in script or play format?

No. The idea of it terrifies me. I think I’m bad at dialogue.

What are your five favorite words?

Impossible to answer that.

Do you ever write based on yourself?

Always.

What character have you created that is most like yourself?

My autobiographical protagonist who has experienced everything I have.
Where do you get ideas for your characters?

Mostly people I know or have heard about.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Not really.

Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?

Endings that combine all of those things.

Have you ever written based on an artwork you’ve seen?

I don’t think so.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Yes, but they both seem to come naturally so I don’t worry a lot.

Ever write anything in chatspeak (how r u?)

Ugh, NO!

Entirely in L337?

What the heck is that??

Was that question appalling and unwriterly?

I had no idea what it meant.

Does music help you write?

Yes, but it has to be music without words or I get all distracted.

Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.

I’m supposed to keep my writing in my head? Sorry, I can’t!

I tag all writers!

cactus-6.jpgThanks to Jade Park for this meme. I don’t have the time or brain organization to do more than this.

1. Spell my name as it sounds: Soozn

2. Am I a worrier? No. I am a regretter, though. (I think worriers fret about the future, and regretters fret about the past)

3. What’s my favorite CD? The soundtrack to “Into the Wild.” Mmmm, Eddie Vedder.

4. Favorite colour(s)? Brown for clothes, green for environment.

5. Does my home have an attic? Not really. Just a little crawlspace thing under the roof.

6. Have I ever been to Canada? Yes, I had my honeymoon there. I love Canada.

7. Have I ever gone fishing? Yes, deepsea fishing in Florida with my dad when I was about 8. Also canoe-fishing in Northern Quebec while on a 21 day canoe/fishing trip.

8. Have I ever seen a celebrity? Yes.

9. Have I ever been on a motorcycle? Yes, for about fifteen minutes, and I was terrified.

10. How much money do I have on me right now? $100 in twenties. Just went to the ATM.

11. How many cars have I owned? Four.

12. How many jobs have I had? Too many to count.

13. How tall am I? 5′4″

14. Last person to call me: a co-worker.

15. Last thing I yelled out loud: I’m sure my kids could tell you, but I don’t remember. Probably, “Turn off your computer and go to sleep!”

16. Last person I was in a car with: My mom.

17. Last time I ate at McDonald’s: About a year ago, with my mom.

18. Last thing I bought: Spinach mushroom quiche, to go, for lunch.

19. Last person I saw: My coworkers.

20. Last time I cried: Last weekend, while watching The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Copiously.

21. Last time I laughed: This morning at work.

22. What is the temperature outside? About 45F.

23. What time of the day did I get married? Late afternoon–4pmish.

24. What did I do two nights ago? I found lice in my kid’s hair.

25. Who’s birthday is coming up next? My spouse, in a few weeks.

26. What time did I go to bed last night? Around 11pm.

27. What was the first thing I thought this morning? I need to install a door on that bathroom.

28. What are my plans for this weekend? Return Christmas presents. Get ready to go to NYC next week.

29. Lemonade or iced tea? Lemonade.

30. What do I dislike at this moment? Moments when I have to be the bad-cop parent.

31. What did I dream about last night? People getting lost, mistaken identity and the like.

32. What’s the last TV show I watched? Last weekend: Brothers & Sisters re-run.

33. What is my favorite piece of jewelry? Wedding ring.

34. Am I a dancer? Not really.

35. Have I ever cut my own hair? Just my bangs.

36. What is my favorite treat? A writing retreat.

37. How many piercings/tattoos do I have? Just my pierced ears.

38. Where’s my favorite place to be? It depends on my mood.

39. Is there someone I haven’t seen in a while and miss? All my favorite NYC people I’m going to get to see next week! Hooray!

40. Who was the last text I sent to? Older daughter.

41. Do I care what strangers think about me? My writing, yes. My person, not so much.

42. Last person I talked to on Instant Messenger: Younger daughter.

43. Last person to make me cry: I don’t remember.

44. Who can I tell anything to? Myself.

45. What am I doing tomorrow? Trying to get my life organized. Hah.

46. Do I have alcohol in my home? A little, but not much.

47. Do I like ketchup? Not as much as mayonnaise.

48. Do I think I will be on a vacation this summer? I certainly hope so.

49. What colour is my master bathroom? Light beige – the towels are called “mushroom.”

50. Do I wear a bikini at the beach? Perish the thought. Nor anywhere else.

51. Have I ever been to the Grand Canyon? Yes, for about fifteen minutes. I didn’t like it.

52. What is my favorite fruit? It depends. Mango?

53. What did I really want to do today? Stay in an empty house and write. But the house was far from empty, and I went to work instead.

54. Am I always cold? No, I’m always hot.

55. Does it annoy me when someone says they’ll call or text, but don’t? Not unless they say, “I’ll call you back in five minutes!” and then don’t. Nobody texts me except my kids and my trainer.

I tag: all bloggers who read this. If you don’t have a blog, answer in the comments section!

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Hey bloggers! Hey writers! Did you ever wish you could type faster, or better, or that you didn’t have to write out your entire address every time? Well, a friend of mine, Linda Rigel, has come up with a very nifty new product that basically acts like your private stenographer. You can customize its “dictionary” so your most often-used words and phrases can be typed with just a couple of keystrokes.

Personally, I am always spelling “Berkeley” wrong. And “San Francisco.” Linda came to my house recently and did an eye-popping demo that had me longing for Stenogger. (stenographer for bloggers, get it? ha! except it isn’t just for bloggers) The cool thing is you can WRITE in that superfast IM-speak (btw, gtg!) and the program will automatically expand it into, you know, real English. (by the way, got to go!) This could be a great boon for teenagers who actually can’t write complete words anymore, but really need to in order to function in the world.

The only “bad” thing about the amazing Stenogger is that (booo! booo!) it only works for Windows computers right now. We poor Mac users are out in the cold, our noses pressed to the glass. But soon, I hope, soon…!

Special Discount for readers of ReadingWritingLiving! If you purchase a copy of Stenogger, you will receive a 20% discount. Just type “snito” into the box for “Discount Code” and you get a big fat discount. Then come back here and tell us all how you like it.

Click here to view more details

Photo credit: the Early Office Museum website.

shorts.jpgI have Nova and Jade to thank for this: listing my ten favorite short stories. Everyone has their favorite books, but individual stories often get short shrift. Of course this list moves around but these are ten that come to mind today. (these are not in order of preference, just how they came to mind)

  1. “White Angel” by Michael Cunningham
  2. “Fiesta 1980″ by Junot Diaz
  3. “In the Gloaming” by Alice Elliott Dark
  4. “Hunger” by Lan Samantha Chang
  5. “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” and “Floating Bridge” by Alice Munro
  6. “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff
  7. “He’s At the Office” by Allan Gurganus
  8. “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx
  9. “Penance” by Matthew Crain
  10. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

There are many, many more than just that list. But they were the ones that popped into my head immediately. They are stories that make me sigh and wince. Stories that I keep thinking about, months and years after I read them. They’re stories that stick with me.

Writing this list has made me realize that I miss reading short stories and I really, really miss writing them.

What are your ten favorite stories, today?

microphone1.jpgThis is a unique kind of meme that Jade brought to my attention. Specific questions are generated by people who want to know more about you, and then you answer them on your blog and invite other people to be “interviewed.” Okay, does that sound confusing? Well, these are the questions that Jade put to me. If anyone else would like to be interviewed, see directions at the bottom of this post.

1. What do you like about blogging? How has it affected your creative writing, if at all?

I like the sense of community, the conversation that it creates with people I know and don’t know. I feel like it breaks up the sense of isolation that writers often experience; it makes the writing life a bit more interactive. I feel like it is very separate from my creative writing life, however. People might think that I could better use this blogging time to write “creatively” (although I think blogging is creative; my motto is “everything counts!” when it comes to writing) but I really can’t write fiction or nonfiction in fifteen minute chunks, which is pretty much how much a blog post takes.

2. Do your children read your stories? Why or why not? If so, have they always read them? Are there any stories they have not read?

Not often. They have often not been all that interested; although I did attempt two children’s picture books that never saw the light of day, and they helped with those. If there are stories they have not read, it is because they are PG-13 or R rated. But now the younger one is almost 13 and I think I’d feel okay about them reading just about all of it.

3. Describe the story you are most proud to have written.

When you say story, I’m assuming you mean “short story,” ie fiction. I’d say it would have to be “The Liver Nephew.” I worked so hard on that story. The published version is I think my thirteenth draft. The revision process was so grueling but the editor was totally amazing and helpful, and I kept at it until I felt like it really worked. And the revisions were HUGE, changing settings, taking out characters, changing enormous things, not just line editing. I feel like it was kind of a perfect blend of using life experience combined with imagination. It combined a story that my physician husband told me, with small details about some of my relatives and also part of my own inner life. I was really pleased and proud when the journal it was published in chose it to be reprinted in an anthology of their best published works over the past six years.

4. As a hapa adoptee, you have had your share of unique revelations and experiences. What do you think you would be like if you had lived with your birth parent/s? Or if you had lived with adoptive parents who were not Japanese?

Well, that’s a big what-if question. I’ve met my birthmother but not my birthfather. If I had lived with my birthmother… I don’t know. Her whole life has been so carefully constructed around keeping me a secret. If I lived with her that would have had to mean she would have either constructed some lie to explain my existence, or she would have been a completely different person. It’s all very hard to imagine. She didn’t have the fortitude to be that different; to be okay with standing out from society in that way (a single woman with a child). And as far as my birthfather goes, he would have had to have left his family to be with her and me, and that would have presented a whole different set of difficulties.

It was weird growing up hapa but not having my hapa-ness mirrored in two different parents, if that makes any sense. Most hapas can see how Parent A + Parent B = their own mixed self. I didn’t have that and I think it gave me a disorted sense of identity. What I saw in the mirror didn’t make sense with what I felt I was inside.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how very unusual my situation is; that most adoptees of color end up with parents who do not share their background. I feel a little sheepish saying that I feel “lucky” but I do. So many adoptees feel cut off from their racial/cultural roots and I didn’t have that experience. I think if I had been raised by white parents I would not have any sense of feeling Asian at all. I suppose I might have been okay with that, but the thought of it makes me sad. I feel that I was very lucky to have that sense of continuity from my biological family that carried through in my adoptive family. And my “white” half? That was provided by the dominant culture, by the media, by the town I grew up in, etc. Although I do often wonder about the specific white culture that I supposedly carry.

Edited to say: I do not mean to imply that people who are adopted by people not of their race/culture are UNlucky. But I do think that it presents more of a challenge to those parents to make every effort to keep those children connected to their birth culture in a variety of ways.

And:  I think that people who are adopted by parents not of their race and culture, who choose to keep said adoptees apart from their race and culture are unlucky.

5. If you did not write, what would you do with your spare time/life?

There are so many things I wish I could do that I really do not have time for. I would do more political organizing. I would learn to play the banjo. (my not so secret lifelong dream!) I would keep teaching. I would travel a lot. I would read more books. I would cook more. I would exercise more. I would consider having more children (by adoption! not birth). But right now none of those things seem possible, because I have to write.

Do you want to be interviewed? If so…

1. Leave me a comment saying, “I too am an egomaniac.”
2. I respond by asking you five question. You will answer them, because you like talking about yourself.
3. You will update your blog.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

I’m a little rusty on the blogging end since I haven’t blogged in what feels like many days. So I took a letter from Charlotte who proposed a little memish thing: ten things I like that start with the same letter. Charlotte assigned me to “B.” (Jade got “W”) Here are my ten things.

1. Bubbles. Or as they say charmingly in Spanish, burbujas.

2. Bacon. Need I say more?

img_0972_2.JPG3. Bichon dogs, in all types. We have a Bichon Frise/Terrier mix and a purebred Bichon Havanese. They make me sneeze less than other dogs, and they are darn cute.

4. Books. Books are my life. Need I say more?

5. Babies. Snuffle snuffle goo goo hug. I lurve babies.

6. Brooklyn. My mom was born there. Three of my bestest friends live there. It’s a cool place.

7. Brulee, crème. Yum.

8. Blue jeans. I’d be naked without ‘em.

9. Buddies. I need buddies to just navigate through life: writing buddies, parenting buddies, eating buddies, workout buddies, performance buddies, playing buddies. Life would be very lonely without them.

10. Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca, New York. One of the world’s prettiest spots.82696019_f65c667146_m.jpg

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