Monthly Archives: February 2014

Where I Will Be at AWP 2014


I’ll be wandering the Bookfair and hanging out in the Sheraton and at the Hotel Bar (will we writers drink it dry again?)…but I’ll definitely be at the following:

February 28, 2014 // Seattle
Coast to Coast @ Ghost / AWP offsite reading
504 E Denny Way
Seattle, WA

February 27, 2014 // Seattle
How Far, Imagination: Writing Characters of Another Race in Fiction
AWP 2014 Conference
Room 3A, Washington State Convention Center, Level 2
Seattle, WA

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Filed under Writing

Pickup Lines: What is someone like you doing in a bar?


In Honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d start a series of posts called “Pickup Lines.” These are kind of true, kind of made up.

I wore a tomato red dress. Curled my hair so that the waves cascaded down my shoulders. Wore makeup. Red lipstick. Glittery platform pumps. My friend and I spotted an empty seat at the bar. “Is this seat taken?” we asked of the adjacent chair topped with a jacket.

“That’s my twin brother’s seat, but you can have it.”

We thought he was joking. And took our seats. Put our drink orders in. Made a playful vow that that would be the last drink we’d pay for–we’d see how many drinks men would buy us! Little did we know.

A few minutes later, a man resembling the one adjacent to us walked up. He was tall, broad, and of South Asian descent.

“Oh my G*d, you weren’t kidding!”

Later, the man I’ll call Allen, a friend of the twins, said he was struck and amused by my surprise. Later, I’ll tell Allen, “Of course I was!” Later, Allen will tell me that look of surprise was what charmed him, when he really noticed me. That moment where I was off balance and true.

“This,” said the man sitting to our left, “is my twin brother Yatish. And my name is Ashish.”

Ashish blurted he and his brother were married. Yatish looked annoyed. None of the men wore wedding rings. “Where are they?” I shrieked. Ashish said he was an invasive cardiologist–too much scrubbing in, so he doesn’t wear one. Yatish said his was on his wife’s nightstand. Allen stepped towards us, from the far end of their small group.

“And you?” I asked.

“I have a girlfriend.”

Ah, I said.

We continued talking. Made plans to go downstairs to the club.

Allen said he went to Princeton. All of them had attended Princeton. He was a lawyer. An assistant district attorney. He was wearing a wrinkled plaid shirt and a cardigan, and we made fun of his outfit–he looked like a dad on Saturday morning, I said. He winced.

It turned out he really was a dad, but I’ll get into that, later.

I had an alias, but when he asked my name I told him my true name. I added, “I must really like you, because I had no plans to give anyone my real name.”

We had all had a few drinks. So we began to skip the small talk.

“I don’t think there’s just one soulmate for each person,” he said, when I shared what was going on in my life. The true reason I was at the bar.

You don’t?

“Each person has at least one hundred soul mates. It’s about timing.” He went quiet. “Like you.”

I had uptil this moment, thought there was only one match. And at this moment, possibilities opened up–it was what I needed to believe and feel. In that dark booth, touching knees with a stranger who at the same time did not feel like a stranger, I began to imagine a new life.

The lines cascaded out of his mouth. Lines I still remember. Some of the lines I’ve heard again from other men. Some of the lines still make me smile. “You’re the most intelligent and beautiful person I’ve met in a bar. What is someone like you doing in a bar? Why couldn’t we have met at work? So we could have a real relationship? If I had met you ten years ago, I’d never let you go.”

“You’re just saying that.”

“No, I mean it. Why did I have to meet you here? Now? I can’t believe I feel this way about someone I met just four hours ago.”

“Why does that matter?”

It did matter. He was married. He had a kid. He said he hoped to see my book in a bookstore one day, and he would smile and buy it. I said thank you for giving me renewed hope in romance. I said thank you for giving me context to my life. Thank you for helping me understand what is going on.

“This is more of a bookend than you know,” I told him.

We parted ways, each of us catching a cab heading in different directions.


Filed under Life, Memes, Pick Up Lines, The Personal

O is for Outhouse


I was thirteen years old and spending the night on a farm. We arrived after dark, and in the darkness that smelled like manure and grass, I could hear my Reebok high tops sucking mud as we approached the door of a humble house.

“These are distant relatives,” I was told. The distant relatives greeted my brother and me–to him, they said, “So very very handsome!” and to me, they said, “She looks so sturdy!” This, before they sat us down to eat rice steamed with beans. My brother and I looked at my mom, helpless.

“This is special rice,” said Mom, “they cooked it especially for you.” Which was her way of saying, “You better f*cking eat this rice.”

So I ate a bowl. Finished it. And then they gave me ANOTHER bowl of that damn rice. I finished it. And they gave me another. It turned out that if you don’t want another bowl, you’re supposed to leave a spoonful of rice in the bowl.

If they thought I was sturdy before, I was getting sturdier with every bowl of rice and beans.

At dawn, my mom woke up with stomach pains from an ulcer. She was doubled over whimpering. I heard dogs howling in the distance. They hadn’t stopped howling throughout the night.

So many dogs.

What were they? Who has so many pets, I asked, wishing to distract my mother from her pain.

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Filed under Alphabet: A History, Memes, The Personal, Travel

Why Don’t We Talk About Postpartum Depression?


I recently blogged a bit about my postpartum depression (PPD). It is the beginnings of an essay I plan to write, and possibly part of a future memoir. There are still a number of moving parts to my life right now, much of which I am not ready to make public, so the post is purposely ambiguous. But I hope it gives you an idea of how PPD feels, even if depression manifests in different ways in different people.

Your questions in the comments, however, are helping me understand what it is I have to address in subsequent revisions and essays on PPD, when I share my process. For the record, I’m scared shitless writing about my PPD. But I know it helps more than it hurts me to do so.

But mostly, I’m glad I’ve got people talking. The thing that mystified me most about having PPD was the total isolation and lack of rescue/help/resources/education. My friend S also survived PPD and interviewed me for a story she is writing on the subject. One of her questions was, “What can we do to change the landscape for mothers with PPD?”

We can do so much. Because right now, there is so little. Here are some of my thoughts on the taboo nature of PPD–of discussing PPD, of addressing PPD, etc. I welcome you to join in on the discussion…

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Filed under Motherhood, Parenthood

After a Hiatus


After a lengthy and complicated hiatus, I’m back to revising my novel, writing stories, and writing essays. Writing makes me feel like I’m okay again. Really okay. Even thriving. I’ve a number of pieces due out in publications over the next few months, and I’m very excited that they will be out in the world. All of them were accepted for publication in the past year, but some of the pieces were written years ago, while others were written a few weeks ago. I’m always baffled and delighted at the unique journey my work takes to find literary homes.

I’m particularly nervous about a Creative Nonfiction piece to be published within the next 8 weeks. (I will not name the publication for now, as I’m afraid of jinxing things). The essay is about my complicated relationship with the herb mint–as it pertains to trauma in my life, including intimate partner rape, of which I’m a survivor. So there’s that–the nature of the essay itself is very personal and makes me feel vulnerable. But that’s par for the course as a writer.

But then there’s the matter of permission when it comes to memoir.

There is a lot of negotiation in the realm of CNF/memoir. Your art. Their lives. Their wellbeing. Your wellbeing.

There are those of the camp that say if people inflicted crap upon you, that them’s the breaks. And there are those of the camp that say not to hurt anyone further. There are people in my life who refuse to let me write about them. And then there are people in my life who know that experiences with them will find their way into my art.

The boyfriend in the essay and I have kept in touch over the years–it’s been important to him that I remain his friend, and he recently reached out to me to share a fact that enlightened me on the matter of what happened the night he raped me.

This is a boyfriend who supported my writing more than any other. He urged me to write. We were not a compatible couple, and as a result, there were many sparks and disconnects. He is possibly the boyfriend with whom I felt the most alienated. But he loved that I wrote, before I even became a writer. He gave me a subscription to ZYZZYVA, which ended up being the only litmag about which I knew, which was therefore the only litmag to which I sent my first short story, which was where my first story was published.

But this is a boyfriend who had his demons. I had my own personal demons, too. And the two of us didn’t mesh well.

I wrote an essay about what he did. I’ve written about him before. I don’t use his name, but in many ways, I sold him out, particularly in this upcoming essay. And it weighed on me heavily. I didn’t let it weigh on me while I wrote it–in fact, I censored myself zero, but when my essay was done, I wondered about the ramifications of such a piece. I knew I loved the essay–because when i finished writing it, I was practically panting with exertion.

There was no way I was going to let this essay sit and gather dust.

It took me awhile after finishing the essay and having it accepted for publication to write him. I wasn’t even sure I would tell him about the piece, but I ultimately decided to give him a heads up. I didn’t need or want his permission, but I did want to give him the courtesy of letting him know I’d written something very dark about his behavior. I wrote:

“So. I wrote an essay. And it’s going to be published. I am not sure you will be happy about it, but I did not name names and no one will know it’s about you I wrote. I am pretty sure it will make you angry, though.

But it came out the way it came out. And I can give you a sneak preview as a courtesy. Should be published within the next 8 weeks. Under my new pen name.”

I waited for a response.

And I’m a lucky writer–because he said he fully supports me and including my life experiences in my art. I was spared grappling with his resentment.

There’s the thing he did to me.
And then there’s the thing he did for me.

Now on to other facets of my life that have lived long under the covers and must come out for air. I doubt I’ll have everyone’s blessing, but this is a start. And yes, I’m thinking my next project (after this novel) is a memoir.

UPDATE: The aforementioned essay, is up on The Rumpus. “MINT” is about my complicated relationship with mint and its relevance to traumas.


Filed under Publishing, Writing