“stanza: The natural unit of the lyric: a group or sequence of lines arranged in a pattern…The word stanza means ‘room’ in Italian— ’a station,’ ‘a stopping place’—and each stanza in a poem is like a room in a house, a lyric dwelling place.”—Edward Hirsch on this week’s poetic term: Stanza. (via poetsorg)
“The fact is, like it or not, you still live a world where gender matters. Where gender controls not just the entire course of your life – but the lives of women all over the world. Every second, a child will be born female in a country where she will persecuted for this random biological occurrence for the rest of her life. So before you hold up your anti-Feminist placard proudly and smile at your own sense of empowerment, think not what Feminism can do for you, but what it can do for that one girl. She needs someone to stand up for her. That someone could be you.”—The Thing ‘Women Against Feminism’ Fail to Understand
Could you imagine getting an apartment with the person you love. Falling asleep beside each other, and waking up to see that cute little dopey smile they make when they first get up. You’d never have a bad start to your day, because they’d be the perfect start.
When I wrote my first post for Hyphen, Talking Mixed-Race Identity with Young Children, I was deliberately blunt about race. I wrote about how I don’t tell my multiracial son, who presents as a racial minority, that he’s white — but I do tell him he’s Asian. While the essay resonated with many people, others made comments like this:
“Your child is as white as he is Asian… Why embrace one label and not the other?”
“Why is he Asian but not white? He has white ancestors as much as Asian ones. So if it’s OK to call him Asian, it’s OK to call him white. Or, if it’s not OK to call him white (because he’s not completely white) then it’s not OK to call him Asian, because he’s not completely Asian either.”
“Your child is neither white nor Asian. I once heard this description: When you have a glass of milk and add chocolate to it, you no longer have just a glass of milk and you no longer just have chocolate because you have created something completely different. A bi-racial or multi-racial child is not either/or.”
In the 1990s, psychologist and mixed-race scholar Maria P.P. Root wrote the famous Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage, stirred by her examination of mixed-race identity, interviews with hundreds of multiracial folk across the U.S., and the struggles multiracial people face in forming and claiming a positive sense of self. “I have the right not to justify my existence to the world,” it reads. “To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify. To create a vocabulary about being multiracial or multiethnic.”
Almost two decades later, these proclamations still ring so true. Some people are completely unwilling to honor my family’s choice to identify as mixed-race and Asian because it doesn’t align with their own ideas about how we should identify. The right of a mixed-race person to self-construct and self-define, even today, endures continual policing from people with their own agendas.
“If it’s not OK to call him white…then it’s not OK to call him Asian”; “Your child is neither white nor Asian.” These critiques are so often centered on whiteness: a sense of disbelief that I would “deny” it to my son, and the conviction that, if I won’t teach him he is white too — or at least partly white — then he is nothing at all. Even the problematic chocolate milk analogy — which the commenter clearly thought was progressive — begins with a glass of white milk with “color” added. White is seen as normative, and there is a total failure to recognize that racial categories are political.
Of course I talk to my son about our white family members who are a part of his life and his identity. But those stories are about growing up in Virginia, or window candles at Christmastime in New England, or his Slovakian great-great-grandmother who came through Ellis Island alone when she was sixteen. Those stories are about our history, not about being “white.” “White” is not an ethnic celebration, a food festival, or a heritage parade. It’s about having unearned power and privilege based on the way you look.
In Dr. Peggy McIntosh’s famous essay on white privilege, she listed a series of unearned privileges white people enjoy. Among them: “I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time”; “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented”; “I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial”; and “I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the ‘person in charge,’ I will be facing a person of my race.” Are any of these true of my multiracial Asian son? My son, who barely has any children’s books that reflect his racial image, who is constantly scanned and assessed aloud based on “how Asian” he looks, my son who has had many more white teachers than teachers of color?
Telling my child he’s white also won’t help him understand why children who were less than one-quarter Japanese were interned during World War II; why a stranger would look at him and say there are no “pure races” anymore; why a leading theatre company in our city unabashedly staged a yellowface production of an operetta; why kids on the playground pull back their eyes in a slant and spit out one of those ridiculous anti-Asian chants that just won’t go away. When I tell my son that he is Asian, mixed-race, multiracial, and a person of color, I’m not denying him parts of his ancestral-ethnic heritage. I’m teaching him about the race politics that intrude upon our lives whether we want them to or not. I’m preparing him to exist in a world that obstinately persists in being racially divided. And I’m trying to let him know something about the ways he has and will continue to be judged throughout his life, not because he’s white — but because he’s mixed with color.
You lose her when you forget to remember the little things that mean the world to her: the sincerity in a stranger’s voice during a trip to the grocery, the delight of finding something lost or forgotten like a sticker from when she was five, the selflessness of a child giving a part of his meal to another, the scent of new books in the store, the surprise short but honest notes she tucks in her journal and others you could only see if you look closely.
You must remember when she forgets.
You lose her when you don’t notice that she notices everything about you: your use of the proper punctuation that tells her continuation rather than finality, your silence when you’re about to ask a question but you think anything you’re about to say to her would be silly, your mindless humming when it is too quiet, your handwriting when you sign your name in blank sheets of paper, your muted laughter when you are trying to be polite, and more and more of what you are, which you don’t even know about yourself, because she pays attention.
She remembers when you forget.
You lose her for every second you make her feel less and less of the beauty that she is. When you make her feel that she is replaceable. She wants to feel cherished. When you make her feel that you are fleeting. She wants you to stay. When you make her feel inadequate. She wants to know that she is enough and she does not need to change for you, nor for anyone else because she is she and she is beautiful, kind and good.
You must learn her.
You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to.
You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.
My last full day in New York! I was originally supposed to leave early this morning, but my grandparents generously paid for me to extend my flight so I could make the alumni reception at Christopher Cerf’s house this evening.
I woke up and frantically tried to make sure I was packed—I was supposed to check out by 11 AM, but really, all you do is put a card in the “express check-out” box that says your name, student ID, and room number, and that’s it, so I didn’t end up doing it until after 12.
Carolyn and Gaia were gracious enough to let me crash at their place for the night before my flight the next morning.
Carolyn and I really wanted to go see the Statue of Liberty, so I looked up cheap tickets (Thank you, Groupon!) We didn’t want to go onto Liberty Island, we just wanted to get a good view of the statue. As fun as it would be, it would take too much time, and we just didn’t have it.
I found cheap tickets for a 60-minute harbor cruise, so we made our way down to the very tip of Manhattan to catch our boat.
The area is so cute down there. I’m such a sucker for any beachfront/seaside sort of areas. I don’t care how touristy they are, the more quaint and kitschy, the better. And it was nice to be near water again. Reminded me of home! (Sorry, Hudson River, you’re just not doing it for me.)
I freaking love harbor cruises. I did one in Boston and it was awesome. You get to see a lot of the city in not a lot of time, and usually you have a great tour guide. This was no exception. I loved it. The weather was absolutely perfect and Carolyn and I were just so happy to be there.
Brooklyn Bridge, going into Brooklyn
Ellis Island—on the left, the Island of Tears, and on the right, the Island of Hope
After we disembarked, my wish was to go to Grand Central Station and see it. We had some time and it was a relatively simple thing to do.
New York sure does things big, whether it’s their libraries, college campuses, or train stations, they don’t pull any punches concerning design. Grand Central Station is lovely, breathtaking, worth the trip.
All in all, it was a very lovely afternoon.
We hurried back to the dorms to get ready for the reception at Christopher Cerf’s house. His house, in the East side, would’ve taken a while to get to via public transportation, as it was on the opposite side of Central Park, which doesn’t have any subways running underneath it, so a bunch of us split multiple cabs, and it was worth every penny. Plus, it was fun to see what things looked like above ground—we’re so used to taking the subways, we don’t see as much of the city as we might like.
Christopher Cerf’s house is absolutely lovely. It’s a narrow, lovely, homey house. Although his awards are displayed proudly on the mantle and a beloved little piano, Christopher Cerf and his partner Katherine Vaze have a cozy, homey residence, the crème de la crème is the book room that’s on the second floor. It’s floor to ceiling books, and it’s a wonderful room filled with handmade quilts, comfy couches, and, of course, books. Everyone was in awe of the room and happily proclaimed that they could live in that room alone and be happy.
In addition to CPC 14 people, there were students from the previous two years and then some of the magazine and book resource people, along with some of the speakers, like Brendan Cahill and class favorite Tayari Jones.
The little house and its backyard were crammed with people, drinking copious amounts of wine and appetizers, and we all had a great time. It was the last official CPC event and our last time truly all together. It was definitely bittersweet.
Gaia and I were determined to go to Little Italy, once and for all, and we invited Molly and Alex to come with us. After stopping at Duane Reade to get flip flops (our feet were killing us—I packed flip flops, but the other girls didn’t) we made our way to Spring St. and Little Italy.
We went to a restaurant called Piacere, and, despite some hiccups, the food was delicious. The wait staff was authentically Italian, demonstrated when Gaia, who’s fluent in Italian, spoke to them beautifully.
It was such a fun meal, and we had fun, just the girls. I hadn’t really gotten to know Alex or Molly too much, although we were always friendly with each other, so this was really lovely. I only wish we had become better friends sooner!
Although it was late, we then went and got gelato from the only place open and made our way back to the subway station, only slightly getting lost on Broadway. By the time we made it back it was half past midnight, but well worth the four hours spent. After saying final good-byes, Gaia and I went in, where Carolyn greeted us with a surprise—a homemade slide show with pictures from the past six weeks. Ryan and Jon came over (Tiggy was asleep—darn you, Tiggy!) and we all had a good cry, seeing the past six weeks play out.
It’s been a crazy six weeks: maddening, frustrating, but exhilarating. It was like a rollercoaster—the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but one of the best. Here’s the thing: even if I wake up tomorrow and decide that publishing isn’t what I want, I wouldn’t consider this experience a waste at all because of the people I met.
Forming a friendship—and sustaining it—under these conditions aren’t easy. Six weeks, being in each other’s company constantly, with high stakes and high stress running abound. It hasn’t always been easy, but I feel like I’ve made real friends, who have been there for me when I’m rolling on the ground laughing or having a mental breakdown under all the stress.
Our little group is being split up—half of us to the UK, half of us staying here. But I believe we’ll be together again, because the alternative is too awful to contemplate.
I’ve loved my time in New York as well—it’s a gritty, fast-paced, extreme city. It demands everything from you, but in return it offers so much: plays and restaurants and history and everything in between. I don’t know if I love it more than I love my beloved Seattle, but I think I could live there for a few years. I haven’t made up my mind yet—I guess this means I have to go back and figure it out.
Ah, the day we were all waiting for—the job fair. A mixture of nervousness and anticipation coursed through the 2014 class of CPC. What would await us there? We didn’t dare hope to get jobs on the spot, but the potential was endless. At the very least, a lead for an interview would be nice, or at least the promise of positions popping up in the near future.
Dressing in my interview outfit and with cream-colored resumes in hand, I entered the Journalism School for the last time, where the job fair was taking place. There were between 40-50 different companies there, representing both the larger book publishers, to literary agents, to media groups, to magazines, etc. etc.
Everyone was nervous—it was less of a Hunger Games situation than we thought. The booths weren’t being swarmed with students, because we were so nervous we huddled in groups and talked about how overwhelmed we were.
One of my classmates, Ashanti, gave us really good advice about how to approach the people in the booths, and it worked well.
Sadly, no one I met were hiring at that time. I won’t tell you the number of times I heard the dreaded I-Word “Internships”. Some were paid, but many weren’t. And it’s hard to pretend to be interested in the internship program when all you want is a job. I’ve done internships; I’ve paid my time and given multiple companies my time and labor. I don’t want to do that again. And I understand that internship programs can usually lead to hiring, but that’s why I did this course, so I wouldn’t have to do internships again. This is supposed to be my in.
I have faith in Shaye, though, and her ability to get us all jobs, even if it’s not right away.
After the morning, I was exhausted. I was supposed to check out of my room the next morning, so I knew I needed to pack, and I intended to do so, but I was just too tired and so I took a 2-hour nap. It was so worth it and completely needed, though.
I woke up and began packing, which was no small process. I was going to ship the majority of my books, so Gaia helped me lug them all to the post office, where I was able to get most of them in the largest flat rate shipping box and I sent them off, where they hopefully will be waiting for me when I return home on Wednesday.
I got the majority of my packing done, and then it was time to get ready for that night. Tig and Carolyn, although they have birthdays in early August, wanted to celebrate with everyone in America befor they went back to the UK, so Tig rented the rooftop of Pera, the place we brunched at in SoHo a couple weeks before, and we were going to celebrate. We didn’t have anything until 6 PM the next day, so we could easily stay out late, which was nice.
First, though, Gaia and I had things to do.
We headed downtown to the Penn Station stop, then got off and went to a Party City, which I tracked down via Google Maps, so we could buy the birthday couple appropriate head gear, i.e. a sparkly top hat and flashing princess crown that proudly proclaimed their statuses as the Birthday People.
Then, after introducing Gaia to Payless (whoops!) we headed even further downtown to fulfill Gaia’s wish to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset.
I don’t think it was the golden sunset she had hoped for, but I’ve come to learn that New York sunsets are pink and purple-y, as opposed to orange and bright. It softens the city, I think, rather nicely.
We were supposed to be at Pera at 9 PM but Gaia and I desperately wanted to get dinner in Little Italy. And although we walked through it, we admitted that we just didn’t have time, which was unfortunate, considering we hadn’t really eaten since lunch, some eight hours before.
From there, we got a little lost walking through Chinatown, but eventually we made it to SoHo and the party, which was rocking. It was a cool, windy night—not ideal, but much better than humidity and thunderstorms, which was the original weather forecast.
Birthday Queen and King
Not to mention, you can’t beat that view:
Gaia and I stayed for a little bit and had a drink, but Pera wouldn’t let us order or take food to the rooftop, so we excused ourselves and went next door for a lovely, albeit impromptu Italian meal with Jon. We were gone for a lot of the party, I’m sad to say, but we Italians know our limits, and our stomachs were demanding food. I couldn’t drink much liquor with nothing in my stomach. No thanks.
It was a really fun night, ending with us belting out “Wannabe” on the rooftop and speakers, and if that’s not a good birthday, I don’t know what is.
We weren’t quite ready to go home, though, so a bunch of us decided to find some more clubs—difficult to do, since it was midnight on a Monday night, although as far as we were concerned, it was Saturday.
Tig, bless him, had screenshot a club called SOB that was a 10-minute walk away. Yeah… it was definitely not a club that was meant for our crowd. I won’t elaborate; I’m sure you can Google it and see for yourself. It was shutting down for the night, anyway, so, although there was much debate about trying to find another club, we decided to go back, get some greasy pizza and have a dance party at 3C, which hosted all of the great parties this summer, anyway.
That turned out to be probably the best decision ever, since the dance party was fucking fantastic, especially once people tried to start playing Edward 40-Hands, taping their beers (which were definitely not 40’s) to their hands and dancing, looking like crazy people. And then Ryan doing his Beyonce impression is always priceless. It was a lovely night.