Sit down. Inhale. Exhale.Gwendolyn Brooks, “To the Young Who Want to Die”
The gun will wait. The lake will wait.
The tall gall in the small seductive vial
will wait will wait:
will wait a week: will wait through April.
You do not have to die this certain day.
Death will abide, will pamper your postponement.
I assure you death will wait. Death has
a lot of time. Death can
attend to you tomorrow. Or next week. Death is
just down the street; is most obliging neighbor;
can meet you any moment.
You need not die today.
Stay here–through pout or pain or peskyness.
Stay here. See what the news is going to be tomorrow.
Graves grow no green that you can use.
Remember, green’s your color. You are Spring.
My monthly memo is a day late, aaaah! As you read, please think of “this month” as April, which is when I began writing this piece.
🖼️Every April you hear someone say “April is the cruellest month,” and T.S. Eliot’s words—composed in post-WWI England—ring particularly true now. Yet the poem I want to spotlight this month is Gwendolyn Brooks’ beautiful reminder that cruelty can pass, and that hope is generative. Green’s your color. As we enjoy warmer days, I’m sometimes taken aback anew by the influential power of natural surroundings. I grew up with the sea and the mountains as neighbors, and have always relied on nature to shape the way I feel and create. I love how the day-to-day transformations of trees tell us that change is on its way. These sweeping gestures, like the sunlight hitting the trees just right, or a night’s rain forming a makeshift pond for ducklings, are blessings. These days, it often feels that nothing is more reassuring than green.
I guess “not much” happened in April, although the start of the month does feel a lifetime away. My brother’s 2-week quarantine period ended, and we celebrated with a hearty fried-chicken dinner from Harold’s. My little sister celebrated her 21st birthday (aaaah!) so we celebrated with green tea cheesecake. Another big event I’d be remiss to omit: this month, our apartment united in a concerted effort to drive out the mice in our apartment, although I regret to say that a few probably remain, alongside their telltale droppings. We did find and trap a mouse in our sink, though—that traumatic memory remains stark. This month, I also cut my roommates’ hairs (all boys), watched Kevin grow out his beard and then finally shave it, and revived my foodstagram. What have I noticed about myself this April? I am emotionally appreciative of things that may seem mundane, like my glasses (remarkably clear after cleaned) and my two precious stuffed dogs (my mom drew their portrait this month!). I am also relentlessly distractible, prone to multitasking at a desk that has become a workstation for too many tasks. And I know even more now that my body relies on movement, be it dancing in my room or going on walks, to stay sound and sane.
They say April showers bring May flowers, and I am—as always—thrilled for the coming of May, a month I tend to over-symbolize (I can’t help it! I’m May!).
🎬 This month, we not only caught up on, but eagerly await every new episode of Clone Wars, Season 7. Now the show is the whole apartment’s Friday night bonding activity. Star Wars has been a big part of my life ever since I was young, influencing my fashion (one too many Star Wars t-shirts), usernames (I am “maytheforce” on Instagram), and holiday plans (new movies tend to come out in December). But I never thought Star Wars would return to me in the form of an animated series during the Quarantine of 2020. Aside from Clone Wars, Kev and I have also been watching Jane the Virgin, which many friends told me to watch years ago. I guess quarantine is when you find time for things you put on the back burner, right? Wish the same could be said for my longstanding plans to write more! Jane the Virgin is totally up my alley, though—the show is centered on female protagonists, Jane is a writer, there’s tons of meta-narration (which is probably my favorite literary device), and it’s a comedy. I used to always think that books are where I find uncanny parallels to my own life, but this month I’ve realized that I find them in film as well. But, fear not—no parallels are to be found in the reality TV show Too Hot to Handle, which Kev and I also watched this month. It’s a reality TV dating show with an AI “big brother” named “Lana” who scrutinized the contestants’ every move…
📖 Should I set a goal to spend more time reading books than watching TV next week? Anyway… I finished Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko. It’s a heartrending read about a Korean family’s journey through generations during the Japanese occupation of Korea. It was hard to get into the novel at first, and it contains a number of scenes that are difficult to read, but once you’re past the 200 page mark you can’t put it down! I’ve also started reading Unfree Speech by Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong activist who was one of the leaders of 2014’s Occupy Movement. Joshua is a controversial figure in Hong Kong, of course, and a household name. And I’ve been reading about him in the news since the early 2010s. So why am I reading Unfree Speech now? I guess it’s a way for me to revisit a part of Hong Kong’s recent political history that ties so crucially into its present and future.
🎵Songs that have defined my month include…
- Taylor Swift — “Shake It Off” — I have always wanted to choreograph a solo jazz routine to this song and this month, I finally did it! I may post a routine breakdown here next month.
- Red Prysock – “Jump For George” — Two of my friends and I decided to collaborate on choreographing a section of this song. I’d never heard it before, but it was fun to choreograph!
- “1973” — James Blunt — Does quarantining make you nostalgic? Real question. Nostalgia is important in Ling Ma’s “Severance,” a novel about a pandemic, and I wonder whether being on lockdown encourages me to cook meals that are closer to home and listen to older music. Anyway, I used to love this song and I love it again now.
- Conan Gray’s new album came out, and his style is a blend of Taylor Swift and Lorde. So it’s unsurprising that he’s on my music radar.
- Laura Marling, one of my all-time-fav musicians, also dropped her album Song For Our Daughter this month, plus is hosting a series of Instagram live guitar tutorials!
💬 My word of the month is Crossword. But as I’m already a day late to posting this month’s memo, I’ll elaborate on why in a future post! For now, I leave you with one of May’s Minis: