Millions March NYC

A few photos from the march in NYC yesterday.

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I got to Washington Square Park a little bit before 2pm, and when I arrived, the place was packed. Even as people started moving up Fifth Avenue, the paved and grassy areas were filled with people, from what I could see. I normally hate crowded places, but seeing everyone gathered together with signs of solidarity endeared me to this particular crowded place. When my boyfriend finally found me in the park, we made our way to the main area where people were starting to move up Fifth Avenue.

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Every so often the chants would change, “Hands up, don’t shoot” to “Black lives matter,” etc. I’m typically a very quiet person, but this issue is worth shouting about. The signs were inspiring. There was an organization handing out pre-made signs for those who didn’t show up with one, but the handmade signs were striking. In particular, there was a whole street-wide banner of just Eric Garner’s eyes that was extremely moving when you saw it.

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It was a peaceful march. Big, loud, lively. We made more than just noise; our presence and our actions spoke louder than any words we said. There were barricades on the sides a few times, with police officers along the route every so often. Maybe this was just me, but I got a little bit of a thrill whenever we passed the cops with chants like, “No justice, no peace. No racist police.” Though I understand that “Not all cops” are racists and murderers, it reminded me of a particularly good analogy I came across on tumblr once about “Not all men.” Say that you have a bucket of M&Ms, and someone says to you “Here, have a few of these M&M’s. However, 10% of these M&Ms are poisonous.” Not all of the M&Ms are poisonous, but you’re going to end up with just a little less trust for these M&Ms, right?

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What I found extremely powerful was the huge range of ages I saw at the march. Entire families showed up, some with coordinated banners, others simply showing up to chant as a group. There were young toddlers being pushed in strollers to old women carrying signs with thin arms and speaking as loudly as they could. Having the entire community band together in solidarity was inspiring. Motivational. Everyone of every age knows that something isn’t right, and they’re coming together to fix it. No justice, no peace. P.S. I don’t care if you went to Santa Con after the march, but if you chose a bar crawl over an important and powerful protest, then you need to think about your life and your choices.

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Storytelling, Slowed Down: On Writing Vertically

Caroliena Cabada:

Some of my biggest writing heroes or inspirations are writers with a huge list of “Other Works” in the back of their books, and I keep forgetting that these writers have had years to build these lists up, that oftentimes writing is their only job, and that I am still a little novice to this whole other world of writers and writing. As a result, the entire year of 2014 was dedicated to “writing horizontally” and at the end of it, I have so many drafts of so many stories and poems that I can’t keep track. Ideas get lost in the flood. And that’s not good.

I know that I have, in the past, gotten to the point where I’ve felt that if I’m not constantly creating, then I’m not doing anything noteworthy. I know now that that’s not true. Reading this piece was a nice reminder that my writing time is precious, and I shouldn’t keep worrying about how many pages or how many words I’ve put down.

Slow down. Relax. Take it easy.

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

In a recent piece at The Millions, Nick Ripatrazone writes about the gestation of ideas and vertical writing, or the process of slowing down and digging deeper when writing a story. He describes the process of Andre Dubus, who writes an idea in a notebook, then leaves it alone for as long as it needs to ripen. Dubus doesn’t think about a story — “I will kill the story by controlling it,” he says.

But Dubus’ process wasn’t always this way: before, he planned his plots, forced his characters to do things, wrote a lot of words, and went through too many drafts. This is horizontal writing: a focus on the daily sessions, the revisions, and the amassment of pages and words. Ripatrazone talks about the difference between horizontal and vertical writing:

Vertical writing, in contrast, values depth over breadth. Stories are written when they are ready to…

View original 265 more words

Thoughts from December

November was a strange month. I finished up NaBloPoMo 2014, and wrote through 21 pages to finish filling up a notebook that I was determined to complete during the month of November.

I don’t ever think I’ve ever written so much in my life, and I am exhausted.

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I missed only one day of writing in this journal, and that was Thanksgiving, so it's understandable.

Though I’ve been doing these blog every day challenges throughout the past year and a half, this one in particular put things into perspective when it comes to this blog. The only purpose this blog serves is as my own corner of the internet, and, as a result, I can’t imagine my life without this blog. I can’t imagine being without this space.

But things were different this month, for this blogging challenge, than they have been in the past. I am no longer a student, nor do I exist in the limbo of summer vacation. I have a full-time day job, I’m not officially taking classes (though I do still read lecture transcripts of OpenYale courses), and the during the month of November I experienced some pretty bad emotional slumps. Worse than anything I’ve ever experienced as a student, I think.

Not to worry, though! I’m fine now!

Still, these past few days of November, I sat down and wrote out a rough plan of what I want the next five years of my life to look like. It’s a very rough plan, with plenty of flexibility built in, but it has helped me get a grip on reality, on what matters the most to me, and that’s what I’m going to be working on. NaBloPoMo helped me realize that I need to get my priorities straight.

Though I have completed Blog Every Day challenges in the past, I am not meant to be a daily blogger. I’ve already proven that I can produce a large number of posts on a regular basis. Now, I need to focus on other things.

Obviously, I will still be blogging, and I will try and get myself on a regular posting schedule because regularly posting will be good for my health. But I won’t make myself crazy over writing as much as I can every day.

It’s time now to calm down.

This post was inspired by yesterday’s Daily Prompt: Winning Streak. Congratulations to everyone who participated and completed NaBloPoMo! You’re all winners :-)

Thankful for: Bread

The beautiful book that holds so much knowledge.

The beautiful book that holds so much knowledge.

Yesterday, in a sudden fit of inspiration that can only be brought on by the weekend, I decided to try something new and bake some bread. The recipe I used is from a book I found in the sale section of NYU’s bookstore, Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich. The recipe takes quite a bit of time and requires some planning, but it was a new experience that I really can’t wait to try again.

Bread, to me, has always been a slightly mysterious thing. Even the freshly baked breads in the bakery section of the grocery store feel like unknowable things. Bread isn’t something that you make, but it’s a staple, a base that you start with and then add to, like rice. One does not simply bake bread.

I realized, however, that I had the same attitude when it came to pasta, and I learned how to make vegan pasta from scratch, and now it’s something that I make instead of buying pasta from the store. Reading through the recipe in Made from Scratch made me realize that this was something that I should do.

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The yeast activating. It’s alive!

The dough doubling in size. So awesome.

The dough doubling in size. So awesome.

So I made bread yesterday.

During one of the down times when I was waiting for the dough to rise the second time, after kneading and shaping the dough into loaves, I called my siblings who were at our parents’ house for the Thanksgiving weekend. When I mentioned that I was waiting for the dough to rise, one of my older brothers said that he had a bread maker at home, a machine that did all the kneading and baking for you.

As nifty as the bread maker sounds, and although it might be insanely useful and time-saving when making your own bread, I think that I would prefer to knead it myself. Making the dough and handling it, forming it into a loaf and a braid, made me appreciate the work and ingredients that go into making the loaf. I felt closer to my food, which is something that I’ve been trying to work on recently by buying local and organic ingredients, making things from scratch, etc. Using a bread maker, to me, would remove me one step from the break that I bake.

The braid and the loaf. The next sitcom?

The braid and the loaf. The next sitcom?

But that’s just me.

Breakfast this morning. The next step is to learn how to make my own butter (also in the Made from Scratch book) and my own jam (which I have the steps for somewhere...)

Breakfast this morning. The next step is to learn how to make my own butter and my own jam.

Throughout the process, I was so excited about everything. I took videos on my phone of the yeast activating in the warm water. I kneaded the dough energetically while watching an episode of Gilmore Girls, I practically jumped up and down when I saw how much the dough expanded in the bowl and on the baking sheet, and I went on and on about the smell of the melted butter that I slathered on top of the loaves before the bread went into the oven. My enthusiasm was practically boundless.

When I took the loaves out and let them cool, the moment of truth arrived: how did the bread taste?

Using the knife, I pierced through the crust, sliced off a piece for me and my boyfriend, made a quick Jesus joke about breaking the bread—

And discovered that it was delicious.

Though the loaf isn’t as perfectly formed as store bought bread (since I don’t have a bread pan), and the crust is hard instead of squishy, the middle part was soft like real bread. I suddenly had visions of myself doing this regularly, using the weekends to make the week’s worth of bread. Here was one more way in which I was resisting civilization and making my way towards a self-sustaining lifestyle—I no longer have to rely on store bought bread for my needs, I can just make my own. Plus, food tastes so much better when you know exactly where it comes from and what went into making it.

And here is the recipe, for those of you who wish to try and make this simple bread from scratch.

Simple Bread

from Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

Ingredients

2 cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
5-6 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
Butter as needed

Steps

  1. Prepare the yeast. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the packet in water that is warm to touch (noticeably above room temperature, but not so hot to hurt you). When the yeast is fully dissolved, add a teaspoon of honey. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until the water mixture is frothy and bubbly.
  2. Start the dough. Add the vegetable oil, salt, and 2 cups of flour to the water mixture and mix with a wooden spoon about 3 to 5 minutes. Add 2  to 3 cups of flour to the mixture, one cup at a time, until the dough forms a ball that isn’t sticky and is elastic.
  3. Knead the dough. Knead it until you think you can’t knead anymore. Knead until the dough springs back when you poke it with your finger and doesn’t leave a dent.
  4. Clean the bowl, then grease it with butter. Roll the dough around until it’s coated with butter. Then, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it rise for about 1.5 hours, or,until it’s doubled in size.
  5. Punch down the dough, then place it on the counter to knead it a little more back to its original consistency.
  6. Break the dough into two pieces and form as you want. I made a simple loaf and a braid. Place the two loaves on a greased baking sheet and let rise for another hour, or until the loaves have doubled in size.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Brush the top of the dough with melted butter.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is hard and the loaves sound hollow when you thump them.
  9. Remove from pan and let cool for at least an hour.
  10. Enjoy!

Thankful for: The weekend

These are a few of my favorite things: the smell of fresh laundry, the smell of citrus cleaning products, and sleeping without having to set an alarm.

That last one is the reason why I like the weekend so much.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty refreshed and had nothing planned for today. So I stayed in my pajamas, wrote for a little bit, made a lunch consisting of a hearty soup using a few leftover things from Thanksgiving, and finished reading through The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. I’m excited to start reading MadAddam, so at some point this weekend I’ll probably go and pick up a copy.

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This series has become one of my favorite series ever. Loving it, and living it.

And what’s going to happen for the rest of the day? I don’t know. But that’s the beauty of the weekend. I have these days to do whatever, get errands done, meet up with friends, go out and do something new, or otherwise just stay inside and relax since it’s cold outside and I have warm food and beverages inside.

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Thankful for: The weirdness of the (almost) end of November

Yesterday, my friends and I cooked a lot of food. It always surprises me every year how quickly we get everything done, but I guess with a lot of people working on tasks like chopping, peeling, mixing, etc., and with one of my friends in charge of the menu, things go a lot smoother even with a lot of cooks in the kitchen.

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Butternut squash soup on the back burner, mulled wine on the bottom left, potatoes boiling for mashed potatoes on the bottom right.

What I love most about this holiday is that it’s so easy to meet and get to know friends of friends. Everyone is welcome, there’s a lot of food, there are interesting conversations and funny moments; who wouldn’t want to bring in as many people as possible to share in this?

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The best veggie autumn bisque ever

It’s interesting to think about this time last year. This time last year, my friends and I were still in college. This time last year, we were living in a different part of Manhattan. This time last year, I cooked vegan pancit since we had an “international-themed” Thanksgiving, and we all went to see Gravity afterward. This time last year, my grandparents had just returned from the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda.

This year, my friends and I have, for the most part, graduated. This year, my friends and I are living in different parts of Manhattan. This year, I brought red wine to make mulled wine. This year, we played a trivia game that ranged from ridiculously difficult to ridiculously easy. This year, we all stayed up until two in the morning talking and playing games, and then eventually cleaning up.

My years aren’t quite measured from January to January, but from Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving.

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The mixing bowl filled with batter for lava cakes. Delicious on its own

However, even after all this joyous celebrating with good food, I really hate Black Friday. It has to be one of my least favorite days of the year, which is really unfortunate because it’s the day after Thanksgiving, which is one of my most favorite days of the year. I almost never go out on Black Friday, and I certainly don’t go out to shop.

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A sticker on a scaffolding pole that I passed during my break today. Whenever I see the phrase "job creator" I'm immediately slightly skeptical.

Black Friday is a capitalist trap that tricks people into spending more money on things that they don’t really need, and it reveals the dark obsession that people have with having a materialistic Christmas. Gift exchanges are not about the flashiest thing you could get for someone at the cheapest price (though there are cheaper days of the year to shop, and Black Friday certainly isn’t the cheapest sale, just the most hyped). Gift exchanges should be about giving someone something that you think might make them happy in some way, show them that you know them, understand them, or at least are trying to know them or understand them.

But anyway, I hate Black Friday. Which is why I was immensely glad that I had the excuse of working from home today to not go out anywhere.

I did take a quick break to go out for a walk at midday, just to stretch my legs for a little. I was going to go to Central Park, but it’s very cold outside and I did not properly layer up.

Still, I did get a good, brisk walk in.

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A love lock on the chain link fence.

After today, there are two days left in November, and let me tell you, it has been a strange month. I will have successfully blogged every day, set up my student loan repayment plan, and done a bunch of other things that made me feel strangely “grown.”

Still, Thanksgiving and not-Black Friday are good ways to end the month.

Thankful for: Cookies in the morning

I’m headed over to my friend’s apartment for our annual Thanksgiving feast soon, so to make sure that I get a post up today, I’m going to post now.

I woke up this morning not very hungry, and since I’m going to be eating so much food today anyway that my skipping breakfast won’t make much of a difference, I embraced adulthood by having a cookie for breakfast.

There are certain times in a year when I really don’t feel like a grown up, and holiday mornings make up most of those times. Maybe my holiday memories from my childhood are so strong because the holidays were always a time of joy and play. Since lately I haven’t been feeling so joyful and playful, I should try to wake up every morning feeling like a kid on holiday.

Today it was easy because it just happened to be a holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Delicious cookie with dark chocolate chunks. This post was brought to you in a haze of sugar.

Thankful for: Half days of work

I got a half day from work today for the Thanksgiving holiday, and even though today was cold and rainy and I can’t spend my afternoon off walking through Central Park, I did get a chance to go down to Soho and get a few errands done. I bought a few ingredients that my friends and I are going to need for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, as well as a new planner for 2015 and a new notebook for the month of December. Though I haven’t finished filling the one I’m writing in right now, I’m down to the last several pages and I plan on writing quite a bit this Thanksgiving break.

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The notebook I'm currently filling is on the far left, the 2015 planner on the far right. The new notebook that will be next in line to be filled is red like the blood of angry women.

Walking around Soho was an interesting experience. I walked along Lafayette, along a route I took most days on my way to class when I lived on Broome Street, and it was weird to no longer be a resident of that particular area of New York. I felt strangely like a visitor, like one of the many tourists that still brave the sidewalks of the city when it’s raining/snowing outside.

This city is infinitely interesting because of the vastly different characteristics of the different neighborhoods, even of Manhattan alone, let alone the other boroughs. But it also feels extremely disconnected as a result.

The area I live in has a steady increase in the number of housing projects per block the further north you go. Last night, on my way home, I saw a police car parked outside of the project closest to my apartment building, though I had never seen one parked there before. Near my workplace, a place that has Hunter College, Weill-Cornell Medical Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Rockefeller University within a ten-block radius of one another, showed no increase in police presence. Soho, from what I can tell, showed no increase in police presence.

What does that say about the city?

Regardless, I am thankful for this particular half day from work.

Because that means that I can rest up for more days of fighting the system in the small ways that I can.

Happy Blogging, everyone.

Thankful for: Nothing

There will be no real “Thankful for” post today because I am too angry and upset to be thankful about much today.

What would I be thankful for?

A militarized police force violently suppressing minority voices.

Open carry, but only for white people.

Stand your ground, but only for white men.

And don’t even think about being black and trans.

I am thankful for having a place to live. I’m not necessarily thankful for the country I am living in.

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Thankful for: Reading and writing

I’m still tired and mentally/emotionally stretched thin today, but not as terribly as I have been in the past few weeks. (Though I am, I think, more physically exhausted due to the fact that I couldn’t really fall asleep until about three in the morning, so today was particularly tiring.)

Slowly but surely making my way through this book.

Slowly but surely making my way through this book.

But today I am thankful for:

The ability to read and write.

I’m currently making my way through The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood and I’m so glad that I have the ability to read her stories. So far, The Year of the Flood is an intriguing exercise for the brain that isn’t quite heavy-lifting, but more like consistent and sustained calisthenics. It’s not hard to imagine the world that she paints because it is so close to life, but it does require a certain mental endurance to read through. Still, it’s a thinly-veiled, easily grasped, inventive and biting criticism of civilization. It’s fantastic so far.

This was how I spent my morning a few weeks ago, near the beginning of the month.

This was how I spent my morning a few weeks ago, near the beginning of the month.

But, not only am I glad that I can read words, I’m glad that I can write them. The particular combinations I come up with may not be the best, and my writing may be largely personal and therefore not for anyone else to read, I’m still glad that I can write. There’s nothing stopping me physically, mentally, lawfully, or otherwise from writing. And I’m grateful for that.

And now, I’m going to go off and do more reading and writing.

And exercise because I need to do more physical activity, even if I really don’t feel up to doing much.

Happy blogging, everyone.