Hellos and Goodbyes

October was gone in an instant and November already has one foot out the door. Instead of writing and reading, I was very busy studying for the GRE and applying to MFA programs. I hadn’t done geometry since high school, and hopefully that was the very last time I’ll have to study math again. I had to seek out professors I hadn’t talked to in over a decade for letters of recommendation. I had to refresh their memory of who I was, what I did in their classes, and what I’ve been working on since then. Somehow, I put together a portfolio of my best short fiction. It’s very difficult selecting “the best” of anything. I crafted a statement of purpose, which includes what I write, why I write, what I want out of an MFA, and what I can possibly contribute. These posts by Carmen Maria Machado and Cady Vishniac were essential in figuring all of this out. Thank goodness for gracious writers like them.

I’ve also become an assistant editor at The Review Review. Their site is an invaluable resource to both new and veteran writers alike. I’ve previously written reviews for them. Now I’m coordinating all the interviews with literary magazine editors for the site. It’s become my mission to highlight new journals that seek to publish underrepresented voices, alongside the old journals who have been around for decades.

I received my contributor copies of the Lascaux Prize 2017 anthology. My poem, “Heathens at Thanksgiving,” was a finalist and was included in its pages. You can order a print or digital copy.

Unfortunately, some of the hellos I’ve gotten to say lately have come with goodbyes. This week, we lost my grandma on my dad’s side. Grandma had just celebrated her 90th birthday this year. It is a very unreal feeling when someone you’ve known your whole life is suddenly no longer a part of it. I remember watching The Price Is Right with her when I was little. I remember her excessive cheek kisses and her dance moves at parties. I remember all her Italian-isms: bicciuridu (my little baby), stunad (idiot), gifu? (what’s wrong?). Lots of mangia, of course. How she always cooked huge Italian meals for Christmas, every kind of chicken and pasta, the scungille (shellfish) and bruppu (octopus). How all my little cousins loved the octopus and how I didn’t trust it. I will miss Grandma, but I’m very glad she lived a long life. I’ve got some good genes.


The Smell of Cinders and Rain

I don’t know much about road trips. What little I do know about them comes from memories of anticipation in the backseat on our way to the Magic Kingdom and the dreams of my own city of multicolored monorails. Who ever cared about the rides? Or Mickey Mouse? Only the monorails ever mattered.

This Fourth of July was the first time I ever took to the road by myself. I drove until I was nearly in Georgia. A new friend let me stay at his place. Friends are now only ever found online, or else, in books. The cicadas were very loud, a full-on orchestra of insect legs. There were Southern accents and Sonic’s to drive up to. I’d assumed that Sonic was just a drive-thru you saw in commercials, a television myth. At night, there were explosions from fireworks and burning barrels the neighbors were using to get rid of old things. Watching movies inside, we inhaled all the smoke from the fires. Heading home, the rain soon returned with a familiar earthy musk. A breath out. I wonder about wanderlust and why that was never a rhythm I could rest my temple on.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the extremely positive response to my list of journals. It somehow caught fire via social media and ended up with a mention in the Review Review newsletter. I received emails from editors asking to be included (which I was more than happy to oblige) and teachers thanking me for taking the time to put it together, that it would be useful for their classes. I hope it will continue to prove useful for some weary internet travelers.

tartaruspersona3

About a week ago, Cartridge Lit published a poem of mine. They’re a newer journal interested in publishing videogame literature and interviewing writers who play games. My poem was partially inspired by my experience playing through the videogame Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. I am very interested in the intersections between these forms of media, especially in how they shape and influence identity. Recently, I read this post by Merritt Kopas¬†about¬†hypertext and the exploration of sexuality, gender, and body issues. Why shouldn’t videogames tackle these subjects? I’m happy to see how the medium is rapidly expanding to include these spaces and provide a new means of personal expression. We can’t have enough of those.