Quick blog post, June



  • Manuscripts from VONA. It has been a looong time since I was in a workshop, and at first I regarded the stack of manuscripts like papers from my students (I think I literally said outloud, “Arrgh! Aren’t I on summer break from teaching?!”). But then I started reading them and fireworks exploded in my head; they were rich and creative and I enjoyed reading them as a peer. I learned as much from reading and critiquing their works as I did having my novel excerpt workshopped, no small thanks to Mat Johnson’s extreme generosity and heart as our mentor and workshop leader.
  • Vida by my amazing friend Patricia Engel. Vida is out this Fall; when the galley arrived in the mail I think I nearly squealed with pride. Buy it.
  • Blindness by José Saramago. Started reading it before VONA. Still reading. Can I say WOW?
  • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie is one I’m picking up now. It was mentioned several times in workshop, 3 of those mentions occurring during my workshop. Must read.
  • The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee. This is a book that is so dark, I can’t immerse myself in it right now. But I also know this is a book I’ll probably savor like I finally did Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, another book that sat next to my bed for 2 years before I picked it up and read it nonstop. The Road, as you know, is a book that I consider perfectly written.
  • And I read a rejection letter that had a substantial handwritten note about my story they liked reading (but still rejected). I’ll take it.


  • Really? The truth? Nothing. Except this blog. My journal. Dabbling with a few half done essays, including one about my stroke and its impact on my writing and the 2 year recovery process. Thinking and obsessing about my novel and what I want to revise, which I kind of count as writing. I am in a trough void of confidence these days (picture a neverending chorus inside one’s head chanting, “You suck, you suck, you suck, you suck…”). But VONA has recharged me. Couldn’t have come at a better time, really.
  • But I did send out a bunch of stories. Spent enough on postage to miss the money.


  • Nigella’s cooking show on the new (and so much better than Food Network) Cooking Channel. I want her to take care of me.
  • Jamie Oliver’s cooking show. I don’t think he meant to be funny, but…
  • Per Mat Johnson’s recommendation, Children of Men. A grim movie but one that tells a story in a non-stupid way.
  • See happenings below, for the sights on our road trip.

Memorable eats:

  • A special meal at Poppy in Seattle and savoring its thali-centric menu.
  • Albion strawberries from the farmer’s market.
  • The McGangBang (McChicken sandwich inside of a Double Cheeseburger):
    the McGangBang

Culinary outings:

Pizzaiolo. Caffe Intermezzo salad. Lots of fast food on the road. All a blur.


We ate a sh*t-ton of road food this month–such that the first thing I did when I got home was make chicken matzo ball soup.
chicken soup


  • One of my friends is sick and without health insurance. She is starting radiation and chemo this week. Pray for her. Send lots of positive thoughts. She is worth praying for, you won’t regret it. Let’s put it this way: she is the kind of person, who despite her diagnosis sent ME a get well gift when she heard about my brief ER/Trauma visit:

    plushy comfort toy gift from Jennifer

  • Road trip to Seattle!
  • Road trip to Seattle…where I got hit by a car. The first thing I saw in Seattle was Harborview’s ER Trauma 1 center.

    car accident vs my pedestrian's ass, day 5

  • I pretty much HATED Seattle after getting hit by a car, which happened my very very first morning in the city. (I’d literally left the hotel and walked 20 paces when I got hit by a car while walking in the crosswalk on a green light). I tried eating a sandwich from Salumi, but it was an incredibly average two bites (I stopped eating it in my malaise). But guess what? My friend Tara saved Seattle’s honor by inviting me to join her for dinner at Poppy, to which I limped via cab (pain) and thoroughly enjoyed (thank you so so so much, Tara, especially for the wonderful conversation and hospitality even if I was distracted by pain and unable to laugh for fear of rib pain):

    poppy bar menu

  • Then, road trip back from Seattle. I love the surprising things you see on the road.Like, the people from Little People, Big World driving alongside you:

    Little People, Big World

    And Mount Shasta, which isn’t so much surprising as it is stunning. I swear, as I grow older, I become more and more like my parents, who are Korean, and thus obsessed with mountains as I have become:

    Mount Shasta

    Happiness and hope in a car:




    Not enough room in an 18 wheeler for your stuff, so…

    not enough room in the truck...?

  • One of my short stories, sent to a litmag, was returned to me in its original envelope. The stamps were not cancelled. The envelope had been opened and taped back up. The contents were still inside. The post office said the address was wrong. Who opened up the envelope? And did they read my story?weird.
  • VONA. Workshop with Mat Johnson, which was an amazing experience, the highlight of June. He is smart and funny and compassionate.
  • I also met Tayari Jones irl!
  • My dogs went to the vet. Not exciting. Except they both took simultaneous dumps in the exam room before the vet walked in. And when I limped-walked to get a paper towel, I stepped in one of the dumps (didn’t realize that was happening behind me on the floor). Total shitstorm. These are my 2 wiener dogs planning the whole thing, en route to the vet:trouble!
  • My 17 year old Wiener Dog lost a front tooth. This is after the vet appt. We don’t know where the tooth is. Is this how it happens? They just start falling apart?

In sum, I looked out the window today and saw sunlight, and leaves rustled by a slight breeze. My dogs are sleeping on the couch, and Jónsi is playing on the stereo. My aches and pains and recurring sadnesses are not much in the Universe. I’m in love with my husband and he, with me. I’m able to hug my friends and family. Hell, I have friends to hug. I feel thankful.

p.s. this feeling of peace/contentment/satisfaction will dissipate at any moment.

comfy wiener dogs


Filed under Life, Quick Blog Post

8 responses to “Quick blog post, June

  1. This is a wonderful post. Really, everything (excluding the part where you were hit by a car, wtf!) seems hopeful and good. VONA sounds like the perfect recharging. And you continue to amaze me, just every day. I wish we lived closer.

    I’m so sorry about your friend. She’s in my thoughts and I’m hoping for her.

  2. Great, lovely post, even though it was a month with both greatness and sadness.

    Who DID open the envelope? I’m curious. I will probably kill a bit of time imagining a bored postal worker figuring out there was a story inside and slitting the envelope open to read it. Just to make her tedious job pass that much faster. Is the address actually wrong? Maybe she just sent it back because she didn’t want to forward it already open.

    The world is desperate for good stories.

  3. YouKnowWho

    My mother is from Ohio where there are no mountains. This is her reason for freaking out about being able to see the mountains from the Central Valley.

    Why are Koreans obsessed with mountains? This is news to me and I must know why.

  4. Joylynn

    Glad you’re back! Missed your blog. Beautiful photos.

  5. Nate

    I hope that things go well for your friend. It is a terrible disease coupled with a difficult financial situation. I will do my best to jam the Catholic deity’s inbox.

    First Starbucks, then Vista, now hitting you with their cars! These Seattlites have finally taken things too far, they used to be so nice with their grunge music and throwing fish and whatnot.

    I am glad to see you back and feeling well (or at least medicated)? The All-American subject matter of these pictures are appropriate for the holiday weekend; esp. the semi-load+ and the McGangbang — those should be sewn into the flippin’ flag.

    About your story, one thing is clear: whoever opened your story reeeeeally sucks at using tape.

    Oh, and while you are there please (!) also sign me up for being taken care of by Nigella (in any and every way) –seriously, I will be your best friend forever if you sign me up for that! 🙂

    • @Nate: Thank you for sending prayers for my friend; I am hoping hoping hoping she beats HL and doesn’t suffer too much in the process of fighting it!

      As for the getting-hit-by-a-car thing: totally sucked. But I’m alive! So that’s good! And I didn’t notice how All-American the pictures seemed to be–but so true so true. This has been the Summer of Americana.

      Wrt my story’s envelope: the person was trying to be very thorough–with scotch tape. Just so bizarre.

      And yes, I will send Nigella your way, too, should she ever come by mine!!!! (For now, I just watch her show and imagine)…

  6. @Nova: I super wish we lived closer, too.

    @margosita: June had its highs and lows…Isn’t the envelope just so bizarre? I can’t figure out who did it or why…and as far as I know, the address is correct! (I have subsequently resubmitted electronically, which is an option at that particular litmag).

    @YouKnowWho: i don’t know why Koreans are so obsessed with mountains. my guess is that the peninsula is mountainous and Koreans really love those mountains (parts of the mountains there are WORN down from all the walking down on them–and I don’t mean the paths–i mean the actual ROCK of the mountain). my other guess is that Koreans have an origin myth that has to do with mountains. but then again, that origin myth probably springs from the aforementioned cultural obsession with mountains.

    @Joylynn: glad to be back! although i wasn’t really gone–just recuperating from getting hit from a car, really.

  7. Pingback: Date of Time and Loss / Sundog Lit | Christine Hyung-Oak Lee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s