observations

Visiting Japan: Hearts Filled With An Open Calmness

It’s been a week since I spent 10 days in Japan. Memories of sushi, temples, and cartoon cats still dance around in my mind during my waking hours, and sometimes, even invading my dreams. Thanks to my obsession with anime during high school (I’m not afraid to admit my love of DBZ and Sailor Moon — I may even be guilty of shipping characters from both series ^_^;), visiting Japan had been on my travel wish list for more than twenty years. However, I didn’t begin to seriously consider making the trek until last year, when I discussed the possibility with one of my cousins who has called Japan “home” for the past three years. (more…)

Last Year’s Words

The end of 2016 is just a few days away. I think many people will be happy to have this year over and done with. For me, 2016 has been like skipping through a wooded meadow, bending over to pick some wild blueberries, then being cracked across the skull by an angry Sasquatch who happened to be doing his business behind those bushes. We’ve lost some incredible people whose contributions to society will always be remembered: Prince, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, and Harper Lee, just to name a few. We’ve also witnessed some of the most shocking votes throughout the world: the passing of Brexit in the United Kingdom; the voter rejection of a peace deal between FARC and the Colombian government; and Duterte and Trump’s election victories in the Philippines and the U.S., respectively. There are problems at home (gun violence; Standing Rock; Flint, MI; hate crimes) and all around the globe, such as terrorist attacks and the refugee crisis, which will carry into the new year and beyond. (more…)

But That All Changed When The Fire Nation Attacked

It’s been seven days since the end of the historic and crazy U.S. presidential election of 2016. I’m still trying to process the reality that Donald J. Trump is the president-elect of the United States and how that will impact my life for the next four years. As a writer, I’ve always allowed ideas to ripen in my head before I pluck them, prep them, and serve them on the page. Regarding the election, I’m not sure if I’m ready to express my thoughts, but there are times when physically seeing my words actually helps me to navigate the mixed emotions roiling within. So, here goes. (more…)

Blood And Typewriters

I’m a writer. I’ve been writing stories since I was around seven or eight years old. And yet, it took me almost 20 years to truly embrace that part of my life. I used to be ashamed to say that I’m a writer because of the inevitable follow-up questions like, “What have you written?” and “Where can I buy your books?”. Not all writers are famous novelists. Some writers don’t even want to be published; for them, writing is something personal and private, like a journal or diary. As for me, I have a handful of publications to my name, mostly short stories. I’m not famous by any means. I’m a small fry compared to the sharks and whales circling the vast literary ocean. Nevertheless, my time both at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and the Stonecoast MFA Program have given me the confidence to claim, “Yes, I’m a writer.” I no longer have a problem admitting that I don’t have a novel published or that you’ve never heard of me. It’s okay. I’m currently working very hard to change that. 🙂 (more…)

A Universe Of Stories

Writers love to observe.  It’s in our nature.  We like to take note of how people dress, how they speak, how they move.  We like to eavesdrop at noisy cafes or people watch at the park (a little creepy, maybe, but it’s all in the name of art – you understand).  Sometimes, we even ignore people and simply take note of the lone dandelion on the sidewalk or watch in terror at the flock of seagulls threatening our hair with an unwanted shower.  Writers are constantly taking in all of the things happening around us and filtering them for bits and pieces of story.  Maybe that lady wearing a beanie at the beach would make for a great oddball sidekick in the next novel.  Perhaps that restaurant serving ghost chili hot wings would be a wonderful backdrop for a tense scene.  Or maybe that rabid squirrel with a mangy tail would be the perfect narrator for a story about love, loss, and redemption.  Whatever the case, we find inspiration in watching or interacting with the world around us.

(more…)