The Official CL: One Year Later

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

OCL turns one-ish this week, and we're celebrating with a new look!
I'm so grateful that CL indulges my terrible attention span, my listless creativity, and my tendency to sort of steam-roll over most decision-making. OCL is our digital platform to experiment with design and prose, and I love having this space to try new things, especially when so little else in my life is as generous. And, you know, f*ck consistent branding. We aren't a corporation. I wouldn't have it any other way.

One thing hasn't changed, though: OCL will continue to document how we cultivate joy and purpose through the pursuit of well-rounded, well-read lives.

I'm also obsessed with the word "cultivate." Though all plant-like things wither under my care, so much more grows in my life with proper discipline, passion, and relentless effort. This is all, of course, by design. With labor, care, and study, we create the conditions under which we believe we will flourish. And flourishing, we are. Mostly.

See you soon,

The Catalogue: No. 31

Friday, May 17, 2019

Dirty thirties, we have arrived!
Here's what I've been reading:
The Instagram Aesthetic Is Over | Taylor Lorenz for The Atlantic
Anything that feels staged is as undesirable for Blutstein’s cohort as unfiltered or unflattering photos would be for older influencers. “For my generation, people are more willing to be who they are and not make up a fake identity,” she says. “We are trying to show a real person doing cool things as a real person, not trying to create a persona that isn’t actually you.”
Intellectually, I know that individuals and communities are complex and can care about/advocate for/be outraged by multiple things. I know it's reductive to accuse us of caring more about shitting on the Olivia Jades of the world than uplifting the newest generation of powerful, well-spoken, fearless leaders. But I do want to shine my own tiny little light on initiatives like JUV Consulting, an extraordinary venture by now-teenagers born into a fucking dumper fire and asked to survive, somehow.

‘Lit’ Is Over, and Other Things You Can Pay Teens to Teach You | Rainesford Stauffer for The New York Times
“Don't talk about teenagers, talk to teenagers,” said Ziad Ahmed, 19, JÜV’s C.E.O. and a rising sophomore at Yale (major undecided). He co-founded the consultancy firm in 2016 with Nick Jain, 19, the company’s C.O.O. and a rising sophomore at Princeton and Melinda Guo, 19, who goes to Stanford and serves as a member of the board. To be clear, the JÜV team scoffs at the idea of a “Gen Z expert”: anyone who pretends to speak for a generation, whether that’s a peer or adult. They aren’t a research firm, they say. They aren’t a focus group. They are, according to Emma Himes, JÜV’s 18-year-old director of development and a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, “a really diverse group of trained teen consultants who can help you.” 
 Rise of Populists in Taiwan: “End Of Taiwan As We Know It”? | William Yang for Ketagalan Media
A KMT-leaning political staffer who asked to remain anonymous said that the reason there is a sense of doom right now is that Taiwan has long used fear as a political tool. “The DPP exploits the “fear of unification with China,” and the KMT exploits the “fear of isolation and war from independence,” he said. “But both scenarios are still some distance away from reality.” He believes that unification between Taiwan and China requires working out how two constitutional systems would interface with each other, which is very difficult.
Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Lie | Amanda Mull for Eater
This is why Instagram stunt food works: It transforms an indulgent meal or snack from a physical activity to a status performance. In the most successful of Instagram food operations, the posting of a particular item signals both affluence and leisure. Lines can stretch for hours for rainbow bagels with birthday cake cream cheese, or milkshakes bedecked with an entire movie theater snack counter’s worth of candy, so if you’ve obtained one, not only did you spend $15 on a pile of novelty sugar, but you can afford to spend two hours on a Tuesday waiting for it, not to mention the time required to lovingly photograph it in natural light.
Inside Ivanka's Dream World | Elaina Plott for The Altantic
Washington is a city where people are even quicker to forgive—to reclassify whatever once outraged them as nothing more than noise. Take that January evening at the Metropolitan Club: a gathering of people who privately bemoaned Ivanka’s complicity in this and that but who were happy to show up. Happy to sip the white wine, applaud the usual platitudes, and enjoy the soft air of comity. Call it a favor to Dina. Or call it what it really is: Polite society, in the end, will always take back those who are polite.
The Other Notre-Dame Was Not Rebuilt | Amy Wilentz for The Atlantic
Haiti doesn’t have a lot of billionaires hanging around, ready to take special charitable tax deductions by giving huge donations to rebuild the church. Nor is the Haitian cathedral a “world” building in the way that Notre-Dame de Paris had become. So when people saw Notre-Dame de l’Assomption in ruins on TV in 2010, they didn’t know what it had been before. As a piece of architecture and a monument, it had no real meaning outside Haiti; very few people outside Haiti felt it was a part of their lives as humans on the planet—unlike the cathedral in Paris, with its 13 million visitors yearly. Rightly, those who saw reports of the Haitian earthquake turned to more human-focused organizations and projects when they decided to make charitable donations.
Caster Semenya Loses Case to Compete as a Woman in All Races | Jeré Longman and Juliet Macur for The New York Times
A group of scientists has charged that the I.A.A.F. relied on faulty data in trying to establish the precise advantages of athletes with elevated testosterone levels. Semenya’s lawyers and other supporters have argued that science has not conclusively shown that elevated testosterone provides women with more of a significant competitive edge than factors like nutrition, access to coaching and training facilities, and other genetic and biological variations.
The ruling by the arbitration court was also watched closely by transgender athletes and by officials of the International Olympic Committee as they prepared to set guidelines for participants in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Transgender athletes are no longer required to have reassignment surgery to participate in the Olympics, and those transitioning from female to male can compete without restriction.

 Have lots more to share in the coming catalogs.

With love always,

Surviving "Achievement Culture" & My Modified 2019 Resolutions

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Sorry for the dramatic-ass title, but most days I really do feel so overwhelmed. I haven't yet transcended "achievement culture," which means, at a real advantage to everyone I work for, I tend to tether my self-worth to my productivity. I also have multiple side gigs/passion projects that at times feel like full-time commitments within themselves. Add to that my complete unwillingness to delegate, my intense (rarely rightly so) personality, and a vague determination to be well-read and well-exercised... and you understand why a lifetime of sleep deprivation has left me a meager 5'1". I know "busy" is not a substitute for a real personality, but busy is what we're working with until I have a man I get to sacrifice for my career.

I know I'm not alone in this. All of my friends are ambitious, well-rounded, highly disciplined people - even when they don't always acknowledge this in themselves. But I think while there's so much glorified tiredness/stress and commercialized self-care, we don't talk enough about the stigma surrounding the poles of effort and failure. What it's like to visibly put in 110% every waking moment and still feel inadequate. One of my modified resolutions for the year - because sorry, but the "generosity, love, and light" bit is really not working out - is to be more transparent about how my big, fiery temperament has also led to big, fiery failures. I am as abrasive as I am passionate, and struggle to balance my own tunnel vision with the need to work among giants.

So here are the modified resolutions and affirmations for the rest of this year. You can read my January 2019 version here, and while I'll certainly aspire for that level of human grace, I've had to set goals closer to my current, haggard state of being.

Service over self.
One of my greatest peeves in life is people who chase titles and accolades with minimal intention of actually earning them. One night, I told my sister over drinks that I was going to be a "very important person one day" (as a joke, to warn her to stop telling people embarrassing shit about me) and my uncle told me to sit the f*ck down and focus on how I can serve the people around me first with no expectation of praise or reward. The people truly deserving of those honors have no qualms about when or if they'll receive them. At the same time, I can be hugely insecure and cling to my little titles as a form of validation. I'm hoping this will be the year I learn to put work first, worry about credit later. (But like, is this also a woman thing? Where we aren't as egocentric as men and that's why we fall behind in "traditional" ways? Will revisit in Q3. For now, the goal is just to keep it low key.)

Chill the f*ck out. Or at least keep it to myself.
I got a teeny little Moleskine where I jot down all the (hundreds of) petty thoughts I have instead of texting/Snapchatting/saying them out loud, and I'd equate the catharsis to getting a bit of froyo when you really want a fat-ass cone of ice cream. It's functionally equivalent, just enough to keep you from doing something you'll really regret. I just don't want to be notorious for talking trash when I'd rather be known for doing solid, at times excellent work. I also want to be held more accountable for the times when my temper tantrums are just that, masquerading as full-bodied critique. My vision board is be more Toni Morrison, less The Bachelor suite confessions.

Hope everyone else's Q1/Q2s have exceeded expectations.

More love -- the most love,

The Catalogue: No. 30

I've decided to revamp the way I do catalogues to match LC's style. This will help me be more well-read on topics outside of my usual reads, aka juicy stories about Anna Delvey, the scammer, who tricked NYC into thinking she was a German socialite or why the new stylish top knots are great for babies.

We Tried The Food At The New 'Clean' Chinese Restaurant Lucky Lee's...
| Ben Yakas, Gothamist
The language Haspel initially deployed to describe her vision for the restaurant—and the language used in the Instagram below in which she attempted to defend her intentions against criticism—sparked a conversation about cultural erasure, long-standing stereotypes about Chinese restaurants, and the manipulative nature of the food-wellness industry. "Every restaurant has the right to tout the positives of its food. We plan to continue communicating that our food is made with high quality ingredients and techniques that are intended to make you feel great," the Lucky Lee's post states.


"It's an odd experience, walking into this beautiful, place—I mean, being on University Place between 10th and 11th Streets is not cheap—that's proclaiming 'clean' and #feelgreatchinese and knowing that when my grandparents came to this country and opened a Chinese restaurant, because that was one of the few businesses they could go into as immigrants," Chung said. "It feels like a lot of privilege to assume this take on Chinese food would taste 'better' than all other Chinese food."

"I think her approach would have been better as, 'Hey, I'm a nutritionist, I see so many people with dietary issues now. I love Chinese food and came up with these ways for my clients to enjoy it... and I wanted to share it with you now,'" Chung added. "I just have a lot of questions: Did she study Chinese cuisine? Or work with Chinese chefs or go to China to better understand the roots of the cuisine she loved? I wouldn't claim to make 'Better tasting Italian food' without going to Italy to actually understand it. Right now, there's no acknowledgement that she's done any work to understand the culture she says so interested in."
I actually went to try it this past weekend as I was quite curious (and my mom had told me to go try it). I personally thought the food I got was pretty good and the storefront is so cute, but it's definitely overpriced. The store is handicap accessible which I think is rare for restaurants / places in NYC in general. However, it still says something like "Feel Great, Chinese Food" on the side of the store and they seem to have hired a token Chinese chef. The restaurant also was half-full of customers. Hard to tell if they came because they were curious (like me) or because they had stumbled upon the place or because they actually wanted her "clean" Chinese food. The implication in her marketing that other Chinese/Asian food is unhealthy is still there. Until she improves that, I can't support her or her business. Her apology sucks and she 1. lacks effort 2. issued what reads like a fake apology 3. hasn't done more to improve. I have more thoughts on this, but this is supposed to be a summary catalogue of articles I want to share so I'll stop. Another great article about Lucky Lee's is here on the NY Times though.

Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered (How to Shop, Cook and Eat in a Warming World) | By Julia Moskin, Brad Plumer, Rebecca Lieberman and Eden Weingart, Graphics by Nadja Popovich, Illustrations by Carl Vander Yacht, NY Times (Food, Interactive)
It’s true that one person alone can make only a tiny dent in the global climate problem. It’s just a really huge problem that requires large-scale action and policy changes to address. And food isn’t even the biggest contributor to global warming; most of it is caused by burning fossil fuels for electricity, transportation and industry.

On the other hand, if many people collectively made changes to their diets, that could start to add up.
There's also a quiz NY Times created so that you can see how your diet contributes to climate change. I'm not the best at being sustainable and more environmentally friendly, but it's good to know there are small changes like eating less beef (I already don't eat lamb) or being better about food waste can make a change.

With love,

Personal Finance: Introduction to Budgeting

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

PLUS: Download our personal budgeting spreadsheet below!

So we're starting a Personal Finance series!
Personal finance/investing can be super f*cking complicated if you don't come from a family/background that regularly discusses it or with much financial literacy -- which is super common. I graduated from an undergraduate business school and had a major in Economics, and I still find the topic very dry and complex (which is probably why I couldn't do Finance/investment banking!)

For those of us who aren't particularly passionate about investment banking but very, very passionate about returns on investments and what they can afford us (shoes! books! donations to coalitions and non-profit organizations of our choice!), so we're compiling the quick and dirty finance lessons we wish we'd learned in high school. Obligatory heads up that the "personal" is "personal finance" is very literal, and your strategy will shift hugely depending on your priorities/salary/etc.

Topic 1: Introduction to Budgeting
Here's a cute first-date question: what does your budget breakdown look like and how much of your discretionary income do you allocate to self improvement? 
I don't think budgeting is synonymous with frugality; you could budget very closely and still have zero savings because you've ~consciously allocated~ the majority of your discretionary income to sample sales. The point is, even if you're very comfortable spending the majority of your money (or if you have no choice because cosmopolitan costs of living are ridiculous), you shouldn't be surprised by where your money is going each month.
I like to do all of my budgeting in Google Sheets because it's super accessible (as in, I can give it a quick peek on my work laptop, on my phone, etc.) so that I should never, ever have an excuse to accidentally overspend.
The basics of budgeting are (1) fixed sum or percentage-based allocations to different categories of expenditures, (2) a table of dated entries crediting and debiting each category and method of payment.
In fact, I've put one together and shared it below for you to use.
It's pretty simple (and please don't over-analyze the sample entries; I made them up, including the income). You divide your income into percentage-based allocations (ex. 20% of my paycheck goes towards my rent.) The worksheet automatically populates the dollar amount of your budget based on the percentage inputs.
Your entries require a bit more grunt work; track your expenditures (either by keeping your receipts or through an app), then categorize & subcategorize them to deduct from your budgeted allocation. For example, on March 13, I spent $34.00 on a baby shower gift from Nordstrom's. The workbook deducts $34.00 from the money I allocated for discretionary gifts.

The workbook also keeps track of your surplus (the money you estimated you'd spend but didn't) and rolls them into a running total for end-of-month savings. This is the number you want to maximize!

The workbook is also totally customizable, so you can play around with the categories, like adding student loan payments or changing the percentage allocated to rent.

Upcoming topics -- stay tuned:
Side Hustles & Extra Income
Planning for Retirement
Personal Finance Apps
Habits for Financial Health

Love always,

Fitness Friday: No. 2

Friday, April 26, 2019

(CL Editor's Note: This was written in late March. I've actually already finished my half-marathon and will publish a post about that soon.☺)

My half marathon is in 2 weeks, so I wanted to write about how I started running and how I trained for this. No joke, I couldn't even run a mile a year ago. The last time I had truly run was back in middle school when I did track and field and even then, I was doing like long jump or something! In high school because I swam and played water polo, I was in a ~ special ~ PE class where we had a class period to practice the sport we were in and therefore, I never ran. I did run one mile once though for some required national physical exam and I remember it being very painful (a wow am I tasting blood and wow why are my ears ringing painful).

After I started my full-time job in late May and joined my first project in mid-June, I noticed that for some reason, consultants loved running. It's probably because when you're travelling or in a hotel that just has a couple free weights and some treadmills and ellipticals, you learn to run. It also so happened that on that team, more than 3 people were marathoners! I was feeling inspired by them and by Leona's completion of C25K (a great app - Couch to 5K) and decided I'd pick up running.

Not going to lie.. C25K starts you off pretty "easy" and even that was painful for me. You walk for 5 minutes and then run for 5 and then walk more and run more, etc. I could barely run for 5 minutes but it got easier as time passed. Also not going to lie, sometimes I cheated and would walk a little more or skip some of the days, but I did complete the C25K program and ran The Color Run for fun to celebrate my ability to run 3 miles. Honestly quite a feat considering that when I started C25K, I did doubt if I'd ever be able to run more than 15 minutes.

Now, I run around 10 miles a week. Usually I will do one long run (3 - 6 miles) on the weekend and a couple short runs (1-3 miles) on the week days. I have run 7 miles once or twice and ran 12 miles once in the last couple months, so I do think I'll be able to finish a half-marathon of 13.1 miles! Apparently, if you can run half the distance then you can definitely finish the half-marathon. On my off days from running, I cross-train by taking a class at my gym, lifting, doing stairmaster, or using the elliptical. The elliptical is one of my favorites because it's good for cardio, but no/low impact on the body. I've learned that my legs and body probably weren't made for running as my knees and ankles will usually hurt so the elliptical is great on my days off. I try and use the Nike Run Club app that has a half-marathon training program, but definitely don't follow it strictly.

The secret to running is running gear, mainly running shoes. Shout out to Jinny for educating me on socks, shoes, compression, etc. when I first started really wanting to run more. It really was a game changer for my ankles and legs to get running shoes. The next secret is running outdoors! For me, it's way easier to run outdoors than indoors as running on the treadmill is super hot and boring. I can easily run 2+ miles outside, but if I'm on the treadmill, running even 1 or 2 miles can be super challenging.

Looking back now, I have had some bad timing as I was in London and took time off from training and will be going to St. Charles, Illinois for a week-long work training the week before this half-marathon. Regardless, I'm super excited (and scared) to run the Shape NYC Women's Half-Marathon on April 14th. I'll write another fitness update when I've finished it, but feel free to reach out and ask about running! 

Happy running,

The Catalogue: No. 28

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Recently I got a NY Times subscription in an effort to lead a life as a more well-rounded individual (but let's be honest, I just wanted to read more Modern Love columns). I first encountered this column in college, because they do a "College Essay Contest" that someone at my college had been a finalist for. After that, I couldn't stop reading them. Each story is unique - some are sad, some are happy, some are moving, some try and teach the reader lessons, but all the ones I've ever read have been good.

Here's a sample of some of my favorite Modern Love essays:

White Shirt, Black Name Tag, Big Secret

  • "It was weird to see him not wearing his white shirt, tie and black name tag, but it was just as weird for me not to be wearing mine."
  • "I was using what trainers call "approximations," rewarding the small steps toward learning a whole new behavior. You can't expect a baboon to learn to flip on command in one session, just as you can't expect an American husband to begin regularly picking up his dirty socks by praising him once for picking up a single sock."
Honey, I Swept the Floor!
  • "Why do so many husbands feel the need to boast about completing simple household chores? With mine, it’s all about branding."

Putting Love to the Stress Test
  • "When two self-described tech geeks slide into a relationship that seems too easy, they design a month long trial to expose its flaws."

Someone also created an amazing website to see all of the Modern Love columns together using the NY Times API.

Happy reading,

The Catalogue: No. 29

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Hello, yes, it's me, LC on the verge of another spectacular supernova of sheer exhaustion and overwhelming gratitude that my life is so full.

I wish I could shake the version of me that was just a few months younger and smugly blogging about "creating" pockets of time to achieve lofty goals like read a billion books and meditate before bed and keep abreast of current affairs and gas prices and political scandals. Such are your twenties. Each newly released version of yourself makes the previous iteration - functional, well-received, even - look like shit.

So anyways, I've been traveling and complaining and honestly just looking forward to being left alone, but here's what I've managed to read while brushing my teeth in the mornings:

Five Lies Our Culture Tells | David Brooks for The New York Times
The truth is, success spares you from the shame you might experience if you feel yourself a failure, but career success alone does not provide positive peace or fulfillment. If you build your life around it, your ambitions will always race out in front of what you’ve achieved, leaving you anxious and dissatisfied.
I can make myself happy. This is the lie of self-sufficiency. This is the lie that happiness is an individual accomplishment. If I can have just one more victory, lose 15 pounds or get better at meditation, then I will be happy.
The Taiwanese Populist Advancing China’s Interests | Chris Horton for The Atlantic
Han being elected Taiwan’s president, many here fear, could destabilize the island’s uneasy relationship with China, erode Taiwan’s hard-earned democracy, and draw into question the loyalty of a strategically located American ally.
(Okay, so I couldn't find a good pull quote for this, but Taiwan's current political state is fucking wild and honestly worth following if you want to root for the underdog, be massively disappointed 99.9% of the time, and experience a plot that is both dystopian and deja vu).

A Journey — if You Dare — Into the Minds of Silicon Valley Programmers | Nellie Bowles for The New York Times
The backdrop to this book is that something is broken about Silicon Valley. To understand what isn’t working for so many people it’s necessary to scrutinize the coders themselves, their personalities and biases. The very particular culture they’ve created infuses everything they produce for the rest of us. Because deeply introverted people were drawn to coding, they did not prioritize positive human interactions. A community that indulges thoughts of anarchy was wary of adding any guardrails to the programs and products it produced.
Throwing Weight Into Sound: Kaveh Akbar on Poetry and Power | Kevin Young for The New Yorker
Poems are rarely on the side of power. What would a poem in praise of the political status quo look like? A brochure? White text on a red baseball cap? The Kurdish poet Abdulla Pashew writes: “If a word / can’t become . . . winged bread / to fly from trench to trench, / then it might as well / become a brush to polish the invader’s boots.” This isn’t an ideological stance; it’s a craft issue. The status quo is so certain of its righteousness, so convinced of its own goodness—like the old king early in the poem—its speech becomes a closed loop. 
How China Turned A City Into A Prison | Chris Buckley, Paul Mozar, and Austin Ramzy for The New York Times
Interactive, so no pull quote, but worth spending time with. What's happening to Uighurs in China is overwhelmingly awful.

Bok Choy Isn’t ‘Exotic’ | Cathy Erway for Eater
Prior to the turn of the 20th century, Chinese immigrants transformed California’s Sacramento River Delta into one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country. Many of the early Chinese immigrants were from the Pearl River Delta region of China, near the city of Taishan, and brought a deep agricultural knowledge and advanced irrigation techniques to the West Coast. They also had a lasting impact on the cuisine. “A lot of green vegetables were part of their cuisine,” says Ichikawa. “Things would have been different if it were a different group.”
I am so tired and want to take a very long nap in a very clean, dim room and then perhaps read a few collections of poetry. Or even write my own. Until such luxuries manifest,

Fitness Friday: No. 1

Friday, March 29, 2019

I wrote a bit about fitness in one of the Catalogues, but I really want to delve deeper into my "#fitnessgoals". Before I begin, I am by no means a nutritionist or professional or whatever other disclaimers I need to give. I gained 25 lbs in college my first year; this was due to a multitude of things such as the dining hall being 5 feet away from my dorm and me eating pepperoni pizza and fries at every meal and going from swimming/playing water polo every day to no exercise at all other than walking to class.

It's taken me 3 years to lose 20 of those lbs, but I did it in an incredibly sustainable way (imo) and have kept off the weight for a good 1.5 years now!

So the two big things I modified in my lifestyle were nutrition and fitness. I'll go deeper into each of these things in subsequent posts, but as an overview I tried to stop overeating and eating snacks 24/7. I always tried to find healthier substitutes for things I love (e.g. getting skim milk instead of whole milk in my lattes, cutting out the caramel part of my macchiatos, etc.) I also began making food for myself after I moved into an off-campus apartment. An unlimited dining hall plan was just too tempting!

Exercise came later... I started with just lifting using the Stronglifts 5x5! It's a really simple lifting workout plan with 3 exercises that you do 3 times a week. The only difficult part of the app is the learning how to do the exercises such as "squats" and "overhead press" with weights. I went to the gym with some of my friends who knew how to lift which really helped in the beginning. This summer I started the Couch to 5K program and now signed up for a half-marathon that (crossing my fingers) I'll be ready for in April.

I'll write more later, but wanted to publish an overview post of a new series on the OCL! Let me know if there are specific things you want me to blog about. The first step for me was just realizing that I wanted to be healthier again and happier when I looked at myself. I still struggle with balancing the happiness I derive from food with wanting to eat healthy, but I am realizing it's all about balance. I shouldn't eat cookies for breakfast and dinner, but if I died, I'd want to have eaten that one cookie or brownie for dessert!

Happy reading,

The Catalogue: No. 26

Monday, March 11, 2019

I am a firm believer in balling on a budget. While I love cheap (and free) things, I also love some guilty pleasure luxury brands/items. Mixing my love for finding discounts and nice things brings me great pleasure, so I want to share with you how I do it!

Sample Sales
If you're ever in NYC or LA, you should look up 260 Sample Sales! If you're not, you should still Google around and see if there are any good samples sales near where you live. I've gotten some amazing Alice + Olivia items that I would never have bought otherwise. Currently there's a Chloe Sample Sale where bags are 50% off and there's tons of shoes and clothes! NYC is a great place to be if you want to look at luxury items. There's also brick and mortar locations of Rebag (luxury consignment store) in New York and California.

Luxury Consignment Websites
I love shopping online, so websites like TheRealReal, Poshmark, Gilt, Rebag, Tradesy, etc. are all my guilty pleasure. Also did you know that Costco also sells designer handbags online? You'll have to have a Costco membership to view the prices, but it's a pretty good place to look too for a discount.

You can also sell your items back to these websites to make some money and they'll tell you an estimated price for how much you're going to get for it. I've bought clutches and jeans from luxury consignment stores and they're always pretty worth it! I've only ever returned one item and it was a really simple process other than losing some money due to the lack of free return shipping. I'd really suggest using the online websites listed above vs. eBay or Facebook's Marketplace as there is no one checking the authenticity of the items on the latter websites.

Thrift Stores / Luxury Thrift Stores
If you have the time, stop by thrift stores to try and score a good deal! With Marie Kondo's Tidying Up, a lot of thrift stores (especially in richer neighborhoods) now have so many great items to shop for. I also like to stop at stores like A Second Chance or Michael's, which are designer resale stores around NYC that provide a great selection of designer handbags and other accessories. Pro-tip, call first if you have something in mind you're looking for! You can also look at their online selection and then go in store.

Happy shopping,
P.S. Sorry for the delayed blog post. I wrote an awesome post on cliché quotes I live by that got deleted (@Blogger, can you create an autosave?) and then couldn't bring myself to want to write for a while.

4 Journaling Exercises for Self-Actualization

Monday, March 4, 2019

I LOVE JOURNALING. I love cheesy exercises for self-growth. I think it's so fucking attractive when people can articulate their goals and how they'll achieve them. I love people who are constantly cultivating greater self-awareness. Below, several exercises inspired by Designing Your Life to help you reach self-actualization. In 2019, we're not letting our high-school breakups affect our adult romances! We're going to transcend ancestral suffering! We are going to care deeply about the world and still protect ourselves from it! We are vast! We are complex! We love and are loved!

Exercise A: Intentional Journaling

I vary between doing these weekly and daily, depending on my bandwidth.
But I like to 1) catalog my inputs (which is what inspired the odd-numbered Catalogues on OCL!) and 2) do a quick inventory of how the day/week has gone. The purpose is twofold: logging what I'm reading/watching/doing keeps me accountable to staying well-informed and is always nice to look back on as a bit of memory-keeping. But it also helps me get a better sense of how my "stimuli" (difficult news, challenging work situations, new environments) affect my mood and sense of self and how I can re-calibrate accordingly.



What I'm Reading (Books, Articles):
What I'm Listening To (Playlists, Podcasts, etc.):
What I'm Watching (Movies, Shows, etc.)

AFFIRMATIONS: What I believe is or will become true

List three affirmations.

GRATITUDE: What I am thankful for

List three sources of gratitude.

HIGHLIGHTS: What I'm proud of/things that have gone well

List three highlights.

IMPROVEMENTS: What I will change/do better on

List three actionable improvements and their expected timelines.

Exercise B: Odyssey Planning
From Bill Burnett and Dave Evans' "Designing Your Life"
Create three alternative versions of the next five years of your life. Each one must include:
(1) A visual/graphical timeline. Include personal and noncareer events as well - do you want to be married, train to win the CrossFit Games, etc.? 
(2) A title for each option in the form of a six-word headline describing the essence of this alternative.
(3) Questions that this alternative is asking – preferably two or three. What kinds of things will you want to test and explore in each alternative version of your life?
(4) A dashboard where you can gauge:
A. Resources (do you have the objective resources – time, money, skill, contacts – you need to pull off your plan?)
B. Likability (are you hot or cold or lukewarm about your plan?)
C. Confidence (are you feeling full of confidence, or pretty uncertain about pulling this off?)
D. Coherence (does this plan make sense within itself? And is it consistent with you, your Work View, and your Life View?)

Keep in mind things other than career and money. Even though those things are important, if not central, to the decisive direction of your next few years, there are other critical elements that you want to pay attention to.

Odyssey Plans can help define important things still to do in our lives, and help us remember dreams we may have forgotten. Try making at least one of these plans a little bit wild. Even if it’s something you would never do in your right mind, write down your most far-fetched and crazy idea. Maybe it’s becoming an astronaut. Or taking acting classes and trying to make it in Hollywood. You may want to do different alternative paths for different areas of your life: alternatives for career, for love, for health, or for play. Or you may want to combine these elements. The only wrong way to do this is to not do it at all.

View template here.

Exercise C: Mood Boards
I was really into this during high school, and I think it's a helpful exercise if you're a visual thinker.

A mood board/inspiration board is a physical or digital collage of pretty much anything - photography, illustrations, color palettes, textures, bits of prose (I like to use Tweets that really resonated with me!) - that aligns with the direction of your project/your aspirations.
Whether you do this on paper or on Pinterest, focus equally on how things look and what they represent to you.

To me, this feels like a visual complement to my New Years' Resolutions, which I think are more appropriately called "mission statements," or guiding principles for how I want to live my life. I like to pair these broad aspirations with specific action items. For example, one of my resolutions (a loose draft above) is to read/write more about transcendence and joy. My action item would be a list of relevant books/articles, and my mood board aesthetic would be images of radiance, light, etc. I take my NY Resolutions pretty fucking seriously (and usually fulfill them, or at least am active in their pursuit), so approaching it from multiple angles helps me engage with and reinforce them.

Exercise D: Articulating Your Work & Life Mission Statement
From Bill Burnett and Dave Evans' "Designing Your Life"
Our goal for your life is rather simple: coherency. A coherent life is one lived in such a way that you can clearly connect the dots between three things:
Who you are
What you believe
What you are doing
For example, if your Life View is that art is the only thing worth pursuing, and your Work View tells you that it’s critical to make enough money so your kids have everything they need, you are going to make a compromise in your Life View while your children are dependent and at home. But that will be okay, because it’s a conscious decision, which allows you to stay “on course” and coherent. Living coherently doesn’t mean everything is in perfect order all the time. It simply means you are living in alignment with your values and have not sacrificed your integrity along the way. When you have a good compass guiding you, you have the power to cut these kinds of deals with yourself. If you can see the connections between who you are, what you believe, and what you are doing, you will know when you are on course, when there is tension, when there might need to be some careful compromises, and when you are in need of a major course correction. 

To identify your Work View, answer the following:
Why work?
What’s work for?
What does work mean?
How does it relate to the individual, others, and society?
What defines good or worthwhile work?
What does money have to do with it?
What do experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with it?

What we’re after is your philosophy of work – what it’s for, what it means. This will essentially be your work manifesto. Work is often the largest single component of most people’s waking lives, and over a lifetime it occupies more of our attention and energy than anything else we do. Accordingly, we’re suggesting you take the time to reflect and articulate what work and vocation means to you. 

To identify your Life View, answer the following:
Why are we here?
What is the meaning or purpose of life?
What is the relationship between the individuals and others?
Where do family, country, and the rest of the world fit in?
What is good, and what is evil?
Is there a higher power, God or something transcendent, and if so, what impact does this have on your life?
What is the role of joy, sorrow, justice, injustice, love, peace, and strife in life?

Read over your Work View and Life View, and try to answer the following questions:
Where do your views on work and life complement one another?
Where do they clash?
Does one drive the other? How?

More love,

Everything You Need to Read About 228

Thursday, February 28, 2019


"Need to Read" is obviously a bit clickbait-y, since there are infinite causes and cultures to stand by, and CL and I happen to be Taiwanese Americans who champion Taiwanese sovereignty. (Are there #TaiwaneseAmerican influencers? @TECO let's make something cute happen.) There's some sort of troll profile on the Facebook page that recently mocked 228 as a "DPP holiday," referencing Nationalist insistence that the massacre had been exaggerated for political sympathy by the Democratic Progressive Party. And while I disagree fundamentally, I think there's something to be said for how the anniversaries of tragic events do serve as opportunities for discourse that would otherwise feel out of place. Grief is funny in the way it plants itself squarely on our calendars. I don't ever "celebrate" the anniversary of Anthony's death in the traditional sense; but I look forward to this one day a year that I can openly mourn and reflect on how much his life changed mine. I don't ever expect others -- Taiwanese or not -- to care as vehemently and stubbornly as CL and I do about Taiwanese history and heritage. You have your own homeland saudade, your own cultural traumas, your own shit to deal with. But in case you're curious, here's (not even close to) everything to read about 228.

Film & Videos
Formosa Betrayed (Full Movie) | Directed by Adam Kane
The full-length movie is on YouTube! Formosa Betrayed is an American political thriller based on 228 and the White Terror (period of martial law that ensued), and though it's obviously told from the perspective of a Westerner, I think this is a really thoughtful, "easy" way to access historical context. Also, my aunt is in it (as one of the protesters)! I highly recommend this movie to anybody who doesn't quite have the personal investment to read all of the other articles (and I totally understand), but would like a bit of background knowledge.
Inspired by two actual events, one surrounding the death of Professor Chen Wen-chen of Carnegie Mellon University[2] in 1981,[3] and the other the 1984 assassination of journalist Henry Liu in California by Chen Chi-li and his fellow Bamboo Union members, Formosa Betrayed is the story of FBI Agent Jake Kelly's (James Van Der Beek) investigation of the murder of Henry Wen (Joseph Foronda), a Taiwanese professor in Chicago. With the help of his partner Tom Braxton (John Heard) and a sharp Chicago police detective (Leslie Hope), Agent Kelly discovers that the murderers have fled to Taipei, capital of Republic of China (Taiwan).

The 228 Incident | Taiwan Bar
This one's in Mandarin, but there are English closed captions!

Blacklist | Documentary by Christina Hu
For many Taiwanese, the memory of military crackdown from the first 228 incident in 1947 remains a painful subject.  When a political dissident, Lin Yihsiung's daughters and mother were found murdered on February 28 in 1980, the old wounds of 228 incident became fresh again.  Professor Bruce Jacobs, a political science and Asian studies professor, recalls his experience on that fateful day and his subsequent dealings with security agencies in 1980.

Three Perspectives pieces I commissioned and edited in my role as editor-in-chief of -- I really recommend these as they're genuinely personal and diverse takes.

All Quiet: An American's Perspective on 228 in Taiwan | Joyce Chen for
February 28, 1947 seems so long ago when you’re only eighteen. But the shadow of the martial law remains, and I see it in my grandparents and in my parents. For my peers, whose families never left Taiwan, martial law defined their lives and informed their memories. They weren’t allowed to talk about it. The government distorted the facts. And now that cracks are forming in the propaganda, they no longer know how to talk about it. It’s one thing to learn about a politically fractured country. It’s another to live in it, to have a shattered sense of history and identity.
Green Island Secrets | Dr. Chung-Chih Li for
 But no history can be simplified in this way. The pretext of the 228 incident and all that followed began long before corrupt Chinese governance. It had been a moment five hundred years in the making. From the first European expedition to the coast of the island, every person who set foot on Taiwanese soil has had their own agenda for her resources, her people.  Those who decided to stay for good became Taiwanese. From European explorers and colonizers to missionaries and traders, from Japanese settlers to Chinese refugees after their defeat in the civil war, the Taiwanese have opened their arms for these ostracized and displaced to make a home. But the Taiwanese themselves have never had a chance to their own country.
The 228 Inheritance: Taiwan's Revolution Is Here | Catherine Chou for
The Taiwanese Revolution has no single declaration of independence, but rather dozens: President Tsai Ing-wen’s resounding rejection of ‘one country, two systems’; full-throated defense of democratic rights; the 2016 Sunflower Movement and the coming-of-age of a generation ‘born independent’; the ubiquitous refrain of ‘建國’ in Taiwanese commentary; vandalism of Chiang Kai-shek’s statues; solidarity with victims of Chinese imperialism in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang; the establishment of a transitional justice commission; so-far-unfulfilled promises to return land to indigenous communities; passage of legislation to protect non-Mandarin languages; the vigorous lobbying work of diasporic communities, especially in the United States; flags and passport stickers proclaiming the Republic of Taiwan; and the decision of the ROC’s diplomatic offices, at the end of last year, to use the name Taiwan in their social media profiles.
10 Facts About 228 | Outreach for Taiwan
The 228 Incident impacted everyone in Taiwan, including Hakka, Mainland Chinese, and Aborigines; to ignore them and their experiences disregards the still-ongoing process of healing among all people of the melting pot we call Taiwan.
Taiwan's 228: Remembering the 228 Incident | Thomas J. Shattuck for FPRI
Due to a massive cover-up and the destruction of government documents, no one knows exactly how many people died. Some estimates are as high as 28,000 or as low as 18,000. The scars from the White Terror are still felt throughout Taiwan today. Martial Law did not end in Taiwan until 1987; the first free and fair legislative elections took place in 1992; and the first fully democratic presidential election was held in 1996. Now, for the first time in the country’s history, the Democratic Progressive Party, not the KMT, controls both the executive and legislative branches of government—something that protesters never would have imagined possible during the White Terror. People outside of Taiwan often forget how recently the country democratized—accomplishing its peaceful transformation to a political system consistent with international democratic norms without being a member of the United Nations or having official diplomatic relations with a majority of the world’s countries. Such progress and feats are impressive, especially under the shadow of the White Terror.
Taiwan Kuomintang: Revisiting the White Terror Years | Catherine Lee for BBC News
The night before Huang Wen-kung was executed, he wrote five letters to his family, including his five-month-old daughter whom he had never seen.
It was the first and last time he had communicated with her.
"My most beloved Chun-lan, I was arrested when you were still in your mother's womb," said the 1953 letter.
"Father and child cannot meet. Alas, there's nothing more tragic than this in the world."
His daughter only got the letter 56 years later.
"As soon as I read the first sentence, I cried," Huang Chun-lan said. "I finally had a connection with my father. I realised not only do I have a father, but this father loved me very much."
Taiwan Families Receive Goodbye Letters Decades After Executions | Paul Mozur for The New York Times
The letters are not just documentary evidence, though; they are also last expressions of love from beyond the grave. They offer words of comfort to children who grew up not knowing their parents and final apologies to spouses who would raise children alone.
These Are The Tyrants And Robber Barons Of The 228 Massacre | The Taiwan Gazette
At the same time, the Chinese Nationalist (KMT) commanders were moving quickly to profit from their new positions. Chen Yi (陳儀) and his cronies began looting the old Japanese colonial government. Over night, the Republic of China's party-state regime suddenly owned over 20,000 residences in Taiwan, seven banks, 65 airports, nine hundred planes, 2000 tanks and trucks, and hundreds of thousands of guns. The value of their assets was $5.5 billion dollars.
They confiscated modern factories, hydraulic and electrical facilities, highways, railroads and sea ports. They snatched up 175 thousand hectares of farmland and 90 percent of Taiwan’s forested lands. They took the schools, the hospitals and the theatres. They nationalized all the banks, insurance companies, oil and steel firms.
They divided industries into joint ventures, between national and provincial levels, or national and county levels. Some industries were directly controlled by the KMT. They divided the resources again and again, exhausting everything in one fell swoop. 
Black Lives Matter, Taiwan’s ‘228 Incident,’ and the Transnational Struggle For Liberation | Chanda Hsu Prescod-Weinstein for Black Youth Project
But Eric Garner’s story resonates across the continents and the decades. The story above could have been describing not his death but instead an incident that occurred decades earlier in another hemisphere, with the death of an unnamed man in a crowd that gathered when the cigarette seller was attacked by police on February 27, 1947 in Taipei, Taiwan.
In other words, what happened to Eric Garner and what has happened to Black Americans so many times is, in fundamental ways, not that different from how the Taiwanese 228 Incident — as it is known for the mass violence that started on February 28 — began. On February 27, 1947, representatives from the recently self-installed Republic of China government in Taiwan went to a tea shop to confiscate cigarettes from a woman who had been selling them illegally. The authorities hit her in the head with the butt of a gun and injured her, causing a crowd to form. An agent shot into the crowd, killing one bystander. Thus began a night of unrest that would be quelled in the subsequent months and years through extreme violence. The exact number of Taiwanese who were disappeared is not known, but it is believed 30,000 or more people were murdered and many others who were incarcerated for decades before returning unrecognizable to their families.
Green Island | Shawna Yang Ryan
February 28, 1947: Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community — conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family — the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.
As the novel sweeps across six decades and two continents, the life of the narrator shadows the course of Taiwan’s history from the end of Japanese colonial rule to the decades under martial law and, finally, to Taiwan’s transformation into a democracy. But, above all, Green Island is a lush and lyrical story of a family and a nation grappling with the nuances of complicity and survival, raising the question: how far would you be willing to go for the ones you love?
Book of Cord | Leona Chen
Is it awful of me to include my own book? 228, martial law, the decades of colonization preceding these, and the authoritarian regime that followed were all the impetus for Book of Cord. On a micro level, my grandparents -- the ones on my mom’s side -- passed away when I was very young and I felt I never did anything worthy of them. So I wrote this book and dedicated it to them.
On a macro level, I wanted to create something for Taiwanese America that would transcend boba and night markets and make Taiwanese history feel intensely personal. As a Taiwanese American, my activism and my work has never been about speaking on behalf of my community; it is about doing work that will not leave our mothers behind. For as much as I love a good tiger mom meme, I don’t ever want to create something that suggests my parents did not give me everything they had, that they didn’t try to love me in the right ways. I am Taiwanese because my parents and their parents protected that identity for me. This book honors that.
Fun fact: Shawna Yang Ryan very generously wrote its introduction!
In her debut collection BOOK OF CORD, Leona Chen confronts the loss of Taiwanese identity through colonization and emigration. As she acknowledges her heritage and claims herself as Taiwanese American, "a radical act" with "profound implications," her poems explore histories both recognized and erased. She composes her narrative by way of a series of fragmentary lyric poems in English that is interspersed with Taiwanese Hokkien. BOOK OF CORD is Chen's protest, journey of self- discovery, and rallying cry for the Taiwanese American community. Or, as novelist Shawna Yang Ryan writes in her comprehensive introduction: "The history she depicts is implied and embodied, making it emotionally accessible to readers unfamiliar with Taiwan's history and deeply affecting to those who are familiar. This is a powerful inscription of an effaced history."
Representing Atrocity in Taiwan: The 2/28 Incident and White Terror in Fiction and Film | Sylvia Li-chun Lin
In 1945, Taiwan was placed under the administrative control of the Republic of China, and after two years, accusations of corruption and a failing economy sparked a local protest that was brutally quashed by the Kuomintang government. The February Twenty-Eighth (or 2/28) Incident led to four decades of martial law that became known as the White Terror. During this period, talk of 2/28 was forbidden and all dissent violently suppressed, but since the lifting of martial law in 1987, this long-buried history has been revisited through commemoration and narrative, cinema and remembrance.
Drawing on a wealth of secondary theoretical material as well as her own original research, Sylvia Li-chun Lin conducts a close analysis of the political, narrative, and ideological structures involved in the fictional and cinematic representations of the 2/28 Incident and White Terror. She assesses the role of individual and collective memory and institutionalized forgetting, while underscoring the dangers of re-creating a historical past and the risks of trivialization. She also compares her findings with scholarly works on the Holocaust and the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Japan, questioning the politics of forming public and personal memories and the political teleology of "closure." This is the first book to be published in English on the 2/28 Incident and White Terror and offers a valuable matrix of comparison for studying the portrayal of atrocity in a specific locale.
Formosa Betrayed | George H. Kerr
The very same book that inspired the eponymous movie.
George Kerr, largely through his insightful observation of the tragedy of the Feb. 28 Incident, 1947 and its aftermath, clearly identified the forces at work which led to the subjugation of Formosa. His careful, accurate and balanced reports went to Nanking and thence to Washington, The truth revealed in those reports, the truth about the KMT's policy and activities in Formosa, shocked those in government who saw the reports. It is regrettable that, because of the propaganda counterattack launched by the China Lobby in the United States, his reports did not gain wider public exposure. It was only in 1965 that George Kerr managed to publish Formosa Betrayed which drew much of its content from those first hand reports of his observation and encounter in Formosa during and after the Incident of February 28, 1947. 
Other Resources & Materials
The Thirty-Two Demands, presented to Governer-General Chen Yi

Why is China Attempting to Commemorate the 228 Massacre? | Brian Hioe for New Bloom
Yet we can perhaps view China’s attempt to incorporate Taiwanese history in its own as simply an age old tactic of colonizers the world over, in which it is hoped that symbolic claims about territorial integration will lead the way to something more substantive. We find something similar, for example, in that when the KMT came to Taiwan it attempted to claim Taiwan had been part of its version of China since time immemorial, in order to legitimize its political control over Taiwan as the purportedly rightful “Chinese” government-in-exile. Attempts at incorporating Taiwanese history into a broader Chinese history occurred through the use of figures such as Chinese-Japanese Ming loyalist Koxinga (downplaying Koxinga’s Japanese heritage), or attempts to paint the 1930 indigenous uprising against the Japanese, the Musha incident, as an incidence of Taiwanese indigenous rising up against the Japanese motivated by Han patriotism.
The Public Narratives Behind 228 | Kevin Hsu for Ketagalan Media
Draws comparisons between present-day Hong Kong and 1947 Taiwan
The events in Taiwan snowballed into state-sanctioned slaughter: Chinese Nationalist troops killed thousands of civilians to quell popular protest. In Hong Kong, enforcement remains a police action. While 2-28 represents one of the darkest extremes of a government’s response to citizen outrage, the confrontation in Hong Kong, though uncomfortable, has only begun.
 A Slap In The Face | Jenna Lynn Cody for Ketagalan Media
Those who venerate Chiang [Kai Shek] as a hero and view the authoritarian period with nostalgia do so not because of an intellectually honest assessment of the evidence. They do so out of a deeper instinct to protect their identity, which they have taken for granted as the default for themselves and for Taiwan: as the rightful, ‘superior’ leaders of a Mandarin-speaking, Chinese country where all citizens ought to aspire to be more like them. In this mindset, there is no room to consider that most Taiwanese have never identified this way, and that this ‘default’ identity was in fact forced on them both socially and politically by the KMT. In recent decades, as Taiwanese society has pushed for greater equality and more clearly defined itself in terms of Taiwanese, not Chinese, cultural heritage, people like Ms. Cheng perceive this change as a threat to their status, and therefore their identity.


The Catalogue: No. 27

Friday, February 22, 2019

Hi! LC here. 
It's probably pretty obvious we're still trying to figure out a sustainable format for The Catalogue (and I guess OCL in general). But I started The Catalogue as a way to literally catalog the digital media I was consuming. Part of that was obviously to share interesting reads (often ones that make me unspeakably angry, as inspired by a friend's newsletter comprised exclusively of the latest dumpster fires), but The Catalogue also represents a larger intention to "consciously curate" a life that is well-read and well-examined. To be real, if I didn't have the structure of these semi-weekly posts, I probably wouldn't be as compelled to seek out a more diverse, evocative set of material. I'd easily/ probably binge-listen to the Hamilton and Anastasia Broadway soundtracks during every single commute. But I am a young person determined to be wise -- which is to say, one with the desperate stamina to be better informed about this terrible, lovely world. So here we are -- this week in conscious consumption: 

This week, Amelie Wen Zhao had to self-cancel (or self-delay) her upcoming novel Blood Heir due to backlash on YA Twitter about all sorts of things, ranging from allegations of racist scenes to her own vindictiveness towards anyone who left her bad reviews. This isn’t the first time such things have happened in the YA world. Now, both the social justice and anti-SJW forces are using Zhao to advance their agendas. Jess, Diana, Oxford, and Mark discuss why the moral stakes seem so high in the YA sphere and how an Asian woman is forced to navigate it.
Again a Solstice | Jennifer Chang
What does it even mean to write a poem?
It means today
I’m correcting my mistakes.
It means I don’t want to be lonely.
Unrest in Baton Rouge | Tracy K. Smith
Is it strange to say love is a language
Few practice, but all, or near all speak?
Table | You Li
What goes with the table is what needs
the table. Without the table you are burning your
fingers. Without the table you are burning money
in the park. The opposite of the table is the inverse
of the table. Vases crashing to the floor. Arms falling.
Maybe meeting a new flavor is alchemy. Today, you can’t stand it. Tomorrow, it’s all you can stand. At home, using books like Sohui Kim’s “Korean Home Cooking,” I cooked stews. Minced garlic. Read about blending the flavors—combining chilies and anchovies until the spice bloomed the way that I liked, simmering until the heat of the red pepper was present without screaming. It was a privilege, I guess, growing to care so deeply about something that had nothing to do with my life. Only now, it did.
[My stepfather] called my mom “Chopsticks.” And it was just to demean, just to make us feel less than. It also fits into the pattern of white man dominating an Asian woman who needs him in financial and legal ways. So much of that relationship and that marriage was about our citizenship. I didn’t get my citizenship until I was 14. And then they had a child the first year they were married, which is another form of control, using the child. First and foremost, for them it’s about domination and control, and racism came out of that.
Fighting for Asylum Seekers Who Look Like Me |  Kanwalroop Kaur Singh for Asian American Writers' Workshop
Everything I do is precedent. Those who look like me have not done this before. I tie my turban, and it hugs me like armor. Every day, on my way to law school, I walk past brick buildings the color of bloodstains, feeling shaken by the act of studying a legal system based upon British common law: I am the descendant of people colonized by an Empire that weaponized this very system of law against us. They used it to maim and mangle us into lesser versions of ourselves.
Periodic #1 | Franny Choi for Palette Poetry
I’m trying, with all of that in tow, to figure out how to write, now, about my body and its leakages—not just the parts that leak out of me, but the porousness of my body’s demands for coherence. That is, I’m trying to write, not how about menstruating amplifies my womanhood, but to ask: given the strangeness of gender, given that I am a woman and also a queer person of color and a cyborg and a squid and a riverbank, how might thinking about what leaks from my body help me think about other kinds of leakiness, too? Yes, it all started as a big joke, but I’m hopeful that writing with a spirit of play will help to give this series the flexibility it needs to stay unstuck in a number of ruts, including and especially trans-exclusive ones. To discard what needs to be discarded, and to prepare for what I haven’t yet begun to imagine.
 An Excerpt from The Source of Self-Regard | Toni Morrison for Shondaland
While I maintain a cool eye while reading historical texts, it is an eye no cooler than the one historians maintain, and ought to maintain when reading fiction. Yet in spite of my wariness, my skepticism, there is a dependence, solid and continuous, that I have on history, partly for the data available to me there, but mostly for precisely those gaps, those erasures, that censure. It is in the interstices of recorded history that I frequently find the "nothing" or the "not enough" or the "indistinct" or "incomplete" or "discredited" or "buried" information important to me.
Love always,

What LC Read: Vol. 15

Monday, February 18, 2019

*R E C O M M E N D E D*
American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts | Chris McGreal
Note: Such a monumental feat of essential journalism. Short of (God forbid) losing someone to addiction -- which I did -- I think this is our best bet at humanizing an epidemic that was for too long criminalized, racialized, and stigmatized beyond belief. Some numbers to chew on: three-quarters of heroin users were driven to it via prescription opioids. The official count of overdose deaths caused by opioids between 1999 and 2016, which is likely an underestimation, is 350,000. By 2018, deaths from drug overdoses have risen to over 200 people a day. The United States consumes more than 80% of the world's opioid painkillers yet accounts for less than 5% of its population. This book made me so, so, so sad. I would consider it necessary reading going into the new year. 

Synopsis: The opioid epidemic has been described as "one of the greatest mistakes of modern medicine." But calling it a mistake is a generous rewriting of the history of greed, corruption, and indifference that pushed the US into consuming more than 80 percent of the world's opioid painkillers.
Journeying through lives and communities wrecked by the epidemic, Chris McGreal reveals not only how Big Pharma hooked Americans on powerfully addictive drugs, but the corrupting of medicine and public institutions that let the opioid makers get away with it. The starting point for McGreal's deeply reported investigation is the miners promised that opioid painkillers would restore their wrecked bodies, but who became targets of "drug dealers in white coats." A few heroic physicians warned of impending disaster. But American Overdose exposes the powerful forces they were up against, including the pharmaceutical industry's coopting of the Food and Drug Administration and Congress in the drive to push painkillers--resulting in the resurgence of heroin cartels in the American heartland. McGreal tells the story, in terms both broad and intimate, of people hit by a catastrophe they never saw coming. Years in the making, its ruinous consequences will stretch years into the future.

Brooklyn Antediluvian: Poems | Patrick Rosal
Note: Such good rhythm in this one. Favorites from this were "Uptown Ode That Ends On an Ode to the Machete" (if you haven't been broken by the ocean / if your own weeping doesn't split you down), "Lone Star Kundiman (For the Guy Who Seized My Arm After I Accidentally Cut the Line for the Toilet in Austin" (Truth is, I couldn't stop to consider how we both live / in a country mostly afraid of the difference between / strength and power), and the eponymous "Brooklyn Antediluvian" (Let's just say they baptize natural disasters / as if we could call them closer or coax them back... I'm the one / who believes we have ancient names / like dawnlight flashing into the dreams / of murderers and sunken into the hillsides / of countries whose shanties and projects / are named for moguls and saints, though / children down here, just as they do / everywhere: Manila, New Orleans, / Brooklyn. There's not a name that fits.) In case you're wondering, the word antediluvian refers to something antiquated. This book does not feel that way. Really fresh, urgent writing.

Synopsis: Rosal finds trouble he isn’t asking for in his unforgettable new poems, whether in New York City, Austin, Texas, or the colonized Philippines of his ancestors. But trouble is everywhere, and Rosal, acclaimed author of My American Kundiman, responds in kind, pulling no punches in his most visceral, physical collection to date. “My hand’s quick trip from my hip to your chin, across / your face, is not the first free lesson I’ve given,” Rosal writes, and it’s true—this new book is full of lessons, hard-earned, from a poet who nonetheless finds beauty in the face of violence.

*R E C O M M E N D E D*
Calling a Wolf a Wolf: Poems | Kaveh Akbar
Note: Unbelievably good. Favorites were "What Use Is Knowing Anything If No One is Around" (I love my body more / than other bodies. When I sleep next to a man, he becomes / an extension of my own brilliance. Or rather, he becomes / an echo of my own anticlimax"), "Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Inpatient)" (envy is the only deadly sin that's no fun / for the sinner / this makes sadness seem more like a tradition / loyalty to / a parent's past), and "Heritage" (it's a myth / that love lives in the heart / it lives in the throat we push it out / when we speak / when we gasp we take a little for ourselves). This book makes me want to write another.

Synopsis: “In Calling a Wolf a Wolf, Kaveh Akbar exquisitely and tenaciously braids astonishment and atonement into a singular lyric voice. The desolation of alcoholism widens into hard-won insight: ‘the body is a mosque borrowed from Heaven.’ Doubt and fear spiral into grace and beauty. Akbar’s mind, like his language, is perpetually in motion. His imagery—wounded and resplendent—is masterful and his syntax ensnares and releases music that’s both delicate and muscular. Kaveh Akbar has crafted one of the best debuts in recent memory. In his hands, awe and redemption hinge into unforgettable and gorgeous poems.” —Eduardo C. Corral

The Nanny Diaries | Emma McLaughlin
Note: One day, I'll stop feeling like I have to justify picking up frothy reads, but today is not that day. I was feeling super burned out and overwhelmed by my past few selections, so I grabbed The Nanny Diaries as a quick palate cleanser. It's so good, in that voyeuristic, decadent way. My guilty pleasure is WASP-y books and ugh, what a great snack.

Synopsis: Wanted: One young woman to take care of four-year-old boy. Must be cheerful, enthusiastic and selfless--bordering on masochistic. Must relish sixteen-hour shifts with a deliberately nap-deprived preschooler. Must love getting thrown up on, literally and figuratively, by everyone in his family. Must enjoy the delicious anticipation of ridiculously erratic pay. Mostly, must love being treated like fungus found growing out of employers Hermès bag. Those who take it personally need not apply. Who wouldn't want this job? Struggling to graduate from NYU and afford her microscopic studio apartment, Nanny takes a position caring for the only son of the wealthy X family. She rapidly learns the insane amount of juggling involved to ensure that a Park Avenue wife who doesn't work, cook, clean, or raise her own child has a smooth day. When the X's' marriage begins to disintegrate, Nanny ends up involved way beyond the bounds of human decency or good taste. Her tenure with the X family becomes a nearly impossible mission to maintain the mental health of their four-year-old, her own integrity and, most importantly, her sense of humor. Over nine tense months, Mrs. X and Nanny perform the age-old dance of decorum and power as they test the limits of modern-day servitude. Written by two former nannies, The Nanny Diaries deftly punctures the glamour of Manhattan's upper class.

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America is Not the Heart | Elaine Castillo
Synopsis: How many lives can one person lead in a single lifetime? When Hero de Vera arrives in America, disowned by her parents in the Philippines, she's already on her third. Her uncle, Pol, who has offered her a fresh start and a place to stay in the Bay Area, knows not to ask about her past. And his younger wife, Paz, has learned enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. Only their daughter Roni asks Hero why her hands seem to constantly ache.
Illuminating the violent political history of the Philippines in the 1980s and 1990s and the insular immigrant communities that spring up in the suburban United States with an uncanny ear for the unspoken intimacies and pain that get buried by the duties of everyday life and family ritual, Castillo delivers a powerful, increasingly relevant novel about the promise of the American dream and the unshakable power of the past. In a voice as immediate and startling as those of Junot Diaz and NoViolet Bulawayo, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful telenovela of a debut novel. With exuberance, muscularity, and tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave home to grasp at another, sometimes turning back.

Prelude to Bruise | Saeed Jones
"Bloated with want, I'm the man who waits
for the moon to drown before I let the lake
grab my ankles & take me into its muddy mouth.
They say a city is at the bottom of all that water.
Oh, marauder. Make me a drink. I'm on my way."

How to Dance as the Roof Caves In: Poems | Nick Lantz
Synopsis: How to Dance as the Roof Caves In examines America as it faces a recession of collective mood and collective wealth. In a central sequence, the "housing bubble" reaches its bursting point when, with hilarious and biting outcomes, real estate developers hire a married couple and other down-and-out "extras" to stage a fake community to lure prospective investors. In these marvelous poems, Nick Lantz describes the changing American landscape with great imagination and sharp wit.

Bestiary: Poems | Donika Kelly
Synopsis: Across this remarkable first book are encounters with animals, legendary beasts, and mythological monsters--half human and half something else. Donika Kelly's Bestiary is a catalogue of creatures--from the whale and ostrich to the pegasus and chimera to the centaur and griffin. Among them too are poems of love, self-discovery, and travel, from "Out West" to "Back East." Lurking in the middle of this powerful and multifaceted collection is a wrenching sequence that wonders just who or what is the real monster inside this life of survival and reflection. Selected and with an introduction by the National Book Award winner Nikky Finney, Bestiary questions what makes us human, what makes us whole.

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Silencer: Poems | Marcus Wicker
Synopsis: A suburban park, church, a good job, a cocktail party for the literati: to many, these sound like safe places, but for a young black man these insular spaces don’t keep out the news—and the actual threat—of gun violence and police brutality, or the biases that keeps body, property, and hope in the crosshairs. Continuing conversations begun by Citizen and Between the World and Me, Silencer sings out the dangers of unspoken taboos present on quiet Midwestern cul-de-sacs and in stifling professional settings, the dangers in closing the window on “a rainbow coalition of cops doing calisthenics around/a six-foot, three-hundred-fifty-pound man, choked back into the earth for what/looked a lot, to me, like sport.”
Here, the language and cadences of hip-hop and academia meet prayer—these poems are crucibles, from which emerge profound allegories and subtle elegies, sharp humor and incisive critiques.

Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals: Poems | Patricia Lockwood
Synopsis: Colloquial and incantatory, the poems in Patricia Lockwood’s second collection address the most urgent questions of our time, like: what if a deer did porn? Is America going down on Canada? What happens when Niagara Falls gets drunk at a wedding? Is it legal to marry a stuffed owl exhibit? What would Walt Whitman’s tit-pics look like? Why isn’t anyone named Gary anymore? Did the Hatfield and McCoy babies ever fall in love? The steep tilt of Lockwood’s lines sends the reader snowballing downhill, accumulating pieces of the scenery with every turn. The poems’ subject is the natural world, but their images would never occur in nature. This book is serious and funny at the same time, like a big grave with a clown lying in it.

Mad Honey Symposium | Sally Wen Mao
Synopsis: Mad Honey Symposium buzzes with lush sound and sharp imagery, creating a vivid natural world that's constantly in flux. From Venus flytraps to mad honey eaters, badgers to empowered outsiders, Sally Wen Mao's poems inhabit the precarious space between the vulnerable and the ferocious—how thin that line is, how breakable—with wonder and verve.

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The Man with the Compound Eyes | Wu Ming-yi
Note: OMG, delicious translated Taiwanese eco-dystopia. So good.
Synopsis: On the island of Wayo Wayo, every second son must leave on the day he turns fifteen as a sacrifice to the Sea God. Atile'i is one such boy, but as the strongest swimmer and best sailor, he is determined to defy destiny and become the first to survive.
Alice Shih, who has lost her husband and son in a climbing accident, is quietly preparing to commit suicide in her house by the sea. But her plan is interrupted when a vast trash vortex comes crashing onto the shore of Taiwan, bringing Atile'i with it.
In the aftermath of the catastrophe, Atile'i and Alice retrace her late husband's footsteps into the mountains, hoping to solve the mystery of her son's disappearance. On their journey, memories will be challenged, an unusual bond formed, and a dark secret uncovered that will force Alice to question everything she thought she knew.

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