Camp NaNoWriMo


Although I’ve never been to summer camp before, when I was 11 years old, us sixth graders were invited to camp for a week in the fall (autumn).  I absolutely loved it; everything from nature walks (including night walks), singing camp songs, to just being around friends (and no parents!).  Oh and I had a crush on one of the camp counselors.  He was Italian, and on our last day, he wrote in my notebook, “Ciao, bella”!  When he translated it to me, I swooned.  Then I showed it off to my friends who all revealed that they too had that written in their notebooks.

Even though November is NaNoWriMo, they’ve held a few Camp NaNoWriMo‘s during the year, and as there will be one in July, I’ve decided to participate.  It’s relatively easier – one can choose a word goal.  And I’ve also decided to “bunk” with up to seven other random “campers,” meaning, I’ll be in a group of other writers to support each other.  I just missed NaPoWriMo – that’s National Poetry Writing Month – (I see a trend here), where one commits to write a poem a day for 30 days.  So for Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve decided to do a poem a day.  It’s a 10,000 word minimum, so I’ve made that as a goal, and as I don’t think I can write a poem that’s 323 words per day, I will also write a children’s story or two that I’ve been meaning to finish along with other anecdotes.

Wish me luck!

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Winter and Spring Updates

In high school I always hoped for “June Gloom” weather.  Growing up in California, “June Gloom” referred to the cloudy and often times rainy weather during the month of June.  Considering how hot it can get in California, it was a nice break for me especially since I had P.E. as my last class which was particular horrendous when forced to run in 100+ degrees F weather.

Whowudda thought many years later I’d now be living in a country where the “gloom” would extend to most parts of the year.  (Ironically, this week has been quite sunny – isn’t that a record?)

That said, it’s now June, and I haven’t posted a blog since December.  I’ve quite a few blog drafts but just never got around to finishing them.  So I figured I’d write a recap of the last few months.

In January I pretty much hibernated.  Nothing exciting to report.

In February I somehow came out of early hibernation and went to my first poetry workshop.  From the very first confirmation email the organizer was very welcoming and supportive.  The theme was “snow,” and for the first couple of hours we worked on a number of exercises which included jotting down words and phrases from memory as well as from the images that were passed around.  Once the exercises were done, we had an hour to work on our poems before sharing with everyone.

I have to admit, I already had an idea and used that as a starting point.  I was pretty impressed with some of the phrases I came up yet struggled trying to fit them into my poem.  I kept going back and forth with sticking with my initial idea or starting from scratch.  I ended up doing the former but wasn’t completely satisfied with my poem.  One hour was not enough!

I enjoyed listening to everyone’s poems.  There was one I really liked – I can’t recall the poem now but it was very simple yet clever.  I thought that I’d hear a few self-confessional poems, however mine was the only one.  And I decided not to share my poem mainly because it wasn’t finished.  But also because the poem itself was quite personal and it would be like reading out loud a diary entry.  In fact, I actually did bring my journal to use for the workshop.

I definitely want to attend another workshop and hopefully do this regularly.  I need to practice other styles apart from self-confessional poetry.  And I definitely need to share my work in order to get feedback.  I just need to suck it up and do it!

Also in February I started taking yoga classes again.  I figured I’d start off with Hatha Yoga and ease my way back into it again.  Just a minute into class I realized I was in the wrong class, Ashtanga Yoga.  At first I panicked then decided to stick with it and somehow I did alright for my first time.

In March I somehow managed to finish (and survive, unscathed) this monster of a 10k run (and when they mean 10k they mean 15k) at night, in 0°C with snow, mud, streams, and up/down two fairly large hills in Scotland.  In a t-shirt and shorts.  Yep, never doing that again.

I attended Poets After Dark in April, an event at the Hayward Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition, The Light Show.  Ten poets (Mimi Khavlati, Sam Riviere, Kate Tempest, Simon Barraclough, Tamar Yoseloff, Julia Bird, Chris McCabe, Amjad Nasser, Sabrina Mahfouz and Vahni Capildeo) were commissioned to write and perform a poem about one of the works in the show.  It was actually nice to see both the performance and the inspiration simultaneously together.  A more thorough synopsis to be blogged soon!

I accomplished something quite significant in May -  I managed to do a back bend with ease for the first time ever!  Thanks, Ashtanga Yoga!  Next goal – head stand.

That’s it for now.  I’m off to see the new Serpentine Gallery Pavilion designed by Sou Fujimoto, that is, weather permitting.  So much for the sunny weather!

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50,059 Words



Woohoo!  I did it, and I can’t believe it!  With birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, zombie runs, and simply just running out of ideas to write about, 50,000 words seemed like an unattainable entity.  However, during the last week, I plopped myself at my local library and somehow managed to churn out the last 10,000 words in 4 days.

And now I have a novel that is in dire need of revising and editing.  But I’ll save that at the start of the new year.  I’m now working on the book proposal simply to help organize my brain in the hopes that I can make sense out of my story.

Eeek!  I wrote a novel!

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Novella in 30 Days

As one of my Christmas gifts last year, I received Chris Baty’s “No Plot? No Problem!” book on how to write a novel in 30 days.  Chris Baty is also the founder of National Novel Writing Month (conveniently referred to as NaNoWriMo), held every November.  After months of this book collecting dust on a shelf, I finally browsed through it.  And now that I just joined the local NaNoWriMo group, I’m declaring that I will write a novel/novella in a month.  That’s 50,000 words in 30 days.  I’m fucking crazy!

This is indeed official if I’m announcing it on my (neglected) blog, right?  So now I have to do it.  No excuses!

Now, what should I write about?  I’ve been switching amongst 3 novellas the last four years plus I just started a children’s story.  As you can see, I’ve a problem with focusing on one thing as I get bored quite easily.  Hopefully NaNoWriMo will motivate me to finish at least one novella!  Out of the 3 novellas I already started, I’ve decided to choose the very first one I started, a bildungsroman (I love that word!) story set in Italy.  That’s all the details I’m revealing for now!

So no more vegging out in front of the TV/tele, watching Dog the Bounty Hunter and Border Security.  Let the writing commence! (as of 1 November)

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Airplane Reunion

So I’m officially not a New Yorker anymore :(  Even though I’ll be back for a week in a couple of weeks, I’ll technically be a tourist.  Eek!

While waiting to board the plane, I spotted a jr. high and high school classmate.  It was one of those moments where I kept glancing back at her, and I’m sure she noticed me looking at her, but of course she didn’t recognize me and probably thought I was a creep.  Back then, she was the popular cheerleader, and I was the wannabe nerd.  Even though in jr. high school we were part of the leadership team – I was Historian (a precursor to my career as an Art Historian, whowuddathunk) and she was something I can’t recall right now.  I didn’t think much of it afterwards, but once we boarded the plane, guess who sat right next to creepy me?  She did of course.  Throughout the entire 5-6 hour flight I kept thinking whether or not I should say something.  “Hey, remember me?”  “Hey, aren’t you so-in-so?”  “Hey, you probably don’t remember me, but I think we went to high school together.”  I even thought about calling a friend as an excuse to say my hometown in the hopes that she would recognize the city and then recognize me.  Midway through the flight she took out her laptop and started watching videos of herself weightlifting.  I thought, “is she training for the Olympics?”  Maybe I can start up a conversation about the London Olympics, mention I’m moving there, and eventually our hometown would be brought up…

Then I suddenly realized that she was the one that got me cut from the jr. high basketball team!  Okay, she didn’t really get me cut.  When I was a kid I liked playing basketball, however the only experience I had was really just shooting hoops.  When trying out for the jr. high team, we were doing drills where one person would dribble the ball across the court while another person would go against that person.  So as I was dribbling the ball, she was the one against me, and she successfully snatched the ball away from me.  That moment got me cut from the team.  But I don’t blame her at all.  It could have been someone with a broken leg and that person would have snatched the ball away from me.  I was cut because I sucked.  I’ve since embraced my wannabe nerdness (especially since I now have these uber geek chic eyeglasses), and I did chuckle when that memory came back to me.

But I remained silent the entire flight.  After dwelling on it, I just couldn’t be bothered.   I’m enjoying life now, and I really didn’t want to reminisce about high school nor did I want to talk about what we’ve been up to these days.  What’s the point?  So we exited the plane together but probably didn’t go our separate ways as I’m sure we were heading in the same direction – our hometown.

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Partying Like Art Stars

What do Marina Abramovic, Gonkar Gyatso, Roy Lichtenstein, and Keith Haring have in common?  They  all came to my lovely friend Ryan’s 25th birthday party… in the form of her dear friends.

Let’s start off with the invitation:

Brilliantly creative, right?  The text next to the audio icon is the address but blurred for obvious reasons.

Apart from Halloween, I don’t remember the last time I dressed up for a party.  From meticulously painting dots to resemble a Roy Lichtenstein painting to placing stickers on one’s body to recreate Gonkar Gyatso’s sticker works, it was like being in a museum or gallery while tripping on magic mushrooms, with the paintings coming to life (and drinking alcohol).  As the birthday girl was Peggy Guggenheim, she didn’t need to sit back and admire her “collection,” but actually mingle with it.  What if the actual artists and actual works were able to speak to each other?  (Which reminds me of the popular question, “If you could have dinner with any four people, living or dead, who would you pick?”)*  Could you imagine the social context of these human relations?!  What exactly would Vincent van Gogh (with the bandaged ear) say to one of Keith Haring’s characters?  Would Frida Kahlo and Marina Abramovic get along?  Who would win at a beer ping pong game?!

Check out these artists and art works and see if you can guess who and what they depict…

* I’d choose Pontius Pilot, Adolf Hitler, Pope John Paul II, and Isaac Newton**  (I wouldn’t say much but see if they can sort out their differences.)

**subject to change

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Diego Rivera at the MoMA

I’m a member of the MoMA.  And one of the reasons why I became a member is because I’m a huge fan of Diego Rivera.  He had the second solo exhibition at the MoMA in 1931-1932 and 80 years later, his murals from that show are now on display.  Entitled Murals for The Museum of Modern Art, I went to see his exhibition on MLK day.  One of my pet peeves is crowded museums (and crowded subways, crowded stores, etc etc) but I thought that it was worth going and besides, I plan on going at least a few more times.

I downloaded the MoMA app for the iPhone and let me tell you, it is one amazing app.  It’s very interactive and useful.  I never was a fan of audio tours but this app also includes the audio for the show, and it was the best way to ignore and forget about the crowd.

The paintings were amazing.  But due to the massive crowd, I thought it would be best to take in those monumental pieces on a quiet day.  I focused on the information about fresco paintings as I didn’t know much about the process.  As explained in the blurred image I took at the exhibition, Rivera went to Italy to study the fresco technique.  The application of layers of cement and fresco mortar (aged lime putty and marble dust) was used during the Italian Renaissance.  As the murals from that period exist today in pretty good condition, it shows that fresco is a way of making murals durable and long lasting.  What I found most fascinating about the fresco technique was the term, giornata.  Meaning day in Italian, it refers to the area of the fresco painting that can be completed in a day.  In the same image below, MoMA shows how Rivera painted Agrarian Leader Zapata in three days.  He was clever enough to hide the transitions of layer applications along the outlines of figure and objects in the painting.  Reminds me of how tattoo artists cover up previous tattoos with a new ones (photos courtesy of OG Tattoos).


Going to see this exhibition is a must but if you won’t be in NYC before it closes on May 14, The MoMA’s interactive website on this exhibition can be viewed here.  Rivera’s approach to fresco is further explained here.  It also points out what buildings are represented in the mural, Frozen Assets. Quite helpful!

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