Tag Archives: about writing

Being Back is Weird

Everything looks familiar, but I feel like an alien. Like I’ve been turned inside out, so my lungs and nerves and liver and intestines are on the outside, and my skin on the inside is rendered a useless organ–sheltering nothing and sweating and goosebumping all over itself.

I sit in a cafe in the health food store in my hometown, that I have been frequenting with my mother since I was three years old. Before I could read, I used to walk around and smell the whole grains and fresh produce and no-sugar-added juices and spritzers. My favorite treats of all time with carob-covered rice cakes, because I didn’t even know chocolate existed. Then came honey sticks– little straw-like tubes full of flavored honey, and black and red “Panda” brand licorice. Later when I discovered chocolate, there were Tiger’s Milk Bars: a light chocolate coating over a nutritious, protein-filled peanut butter interior.

Now I sit at a booth, a recent addition to the cafe of 5 to 10 years ago, with a cup of coffee and a carob-covered rice cake. I used to have Proustian flashbacks of nostalgic childhood memories when I bit into these; today, it tastes slightly stale and waxy. The coffee is lukewarm.

Why does nothing measure up to my memory of it? The menu is in English, not Chinese, Japanese, Malay, or Vietnamese, but I don’t comprehend it. How is a small cup of soup $8.25 USD??

On the left side of the wall, even the First Aid for Choking sign has been re-vamped, refurbished. Now the people choking and saving one another are rendered in full color, and the instructions for how to save lives are more detailed. But it is illegible from more than 10 feet away, whereas the old CPR signs that were required in restaurants in the 1990s were full of huge line drawings of the intricacies of the Heimlich maneuver. I used to study them as a child, preparing myself for the inevitable moment when I would be called upon to save a life. As a 10-year-old. Of course this was perfectly logical to me back then.

Being back in America, from a year living in Asia, is weird. But being back in my small and beautiful but cloyingly intimate seaside resort hometown is unimaginably stifling. I had no idea it would be like this. I feel smothered by the 25 years of memories tucked into every crevice of this place, by the heartache and resentment and despair and fear and desperation I used to feel here as a teenager. My mantra from ages 13-18 was “Get Me Out of Here.” So to be back, with only sketchy plans to go to NYC, only flimsy job leads, little to no savings to speak of and no immediate employment prospects (in the middle of a recession) is TERRIFYING.

But then I think: it was all worth it for the amazing year I’ve just had. Continue reading

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It’s Hard to Stay Productive! Shout out to NailsBails

This is my new favorite blog this week, like SERIOUSLY:

http://nailsbails.com/

Each pithy post has an even spiffier accompanying cartoon, and this one is called, "One Hundred Hours of Solitude," and it's all about working from home, something I can relate to (and the reason I prefer to run off to Fantasy Treehouses to write). Also, today's is called "The Unbearable Lightness of Sleeping." <3. SWOON.

 

Dear Mr. NB, can we please collaborate on a post about writing/not working/going crazy? Maybe call it, “A Clockwork Orangutan?” Call me! I’m a big fan.

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A Writer’s Rx: Developing a Writing Practice

Photo by lowjumpingfrog, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license. Rule number one of the timed exercise (freewrite): Don't let your hand stop moving!

If you want to write, I recommend that you first go buy a copy of Natalie Goldberg‘s book Writing Down the Bones. Just go to your local bookshop and have a look at the first few chapters (chapters are typically 1-2 pages long). If you are intrigued, pick it up, along with an empty notebook and a pen. Go home, and set a timer for ten minutes, and do some writing exercises. It will free your soul.*

I won’t belabor this story, but the first time I read Writing Down the Bones, it was the fall semester of my freshman year of college; I was 18 years old and it changed my life. Our freshman composition teacher had assigned it, along with a book of writing mechanics (punctuation, MLA citation rules, and so forth). So when I settled down to read a few chapters of Goldberg’s book, I had no idea what was about to happen. Continue reading

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Getting “Freshly Pressed”: Reflections on Almost a Year of Blogging

This weekend, Girl Meets Formosa was Freshly Pressed. Now I’m steeped in juicy pulp. (Just kidding. I know, that was terrible.)

To explain “Freshly Pressed”: WordPress.com is the location and also the blogging software that I use to host this humble site. Word Press is a very popular blog interface, and needless to say, gets lots of traffic on its homepage. Each weekday, the content editors at Word Press choose 10 posts to feature in a special section on the wordpress.com homepage called “Freshly Pressed” (with a feed to which you can subscribe). This Friday, Girl Meets Formosa was featured in that section for my post “The Fantasy Treehouse.” Thus, my site traffic has increased by an embarrassingly large number of page views in the past two days.

So, Thank You, Word Press!  (Click here to learn more about how blogs are chosen for Freshly Pressed each weekday). And many thanks to you, dear readers, who have supported this blog from its beginning almost a year ago, and have followed my adventures on it!

And to my new readers and subscribers, WELCOME! Continue reading

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The Fantasy Treehouse: Favorite Writing Spaces

Xinbeitou in all of its environmentally sustainable architecture glory, from Beitou Park.

So as I may or may not have mentioned, I have spent the month of July WRITING EVERY DAY…. just about. My initial goal was to write six days a week, and then take a break on either Saturday or Sunday, but then I started devoting my days off to blogging, and/or research interviews, etc, and then I found myself working every day and taking the occasional Wednesday-afternoon burnout break after like two weeks straight. In total in July so far, I have sat down for extended writing time on 24 out of 28 days. Written documentation of this is 2 full notebooks, and 2 more notebooks just begun.

Phew. Continue reading

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