Election Eve, 2016

It is the night before the presidential election, 2016.

Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton is running against reality tv star, real estate mogul and alleged child molester Donald Trump.

These two individuals are supposed to represent party equivalents. After nearly two years of campaigning I still can’t believe that. I am 32 years old. I’ve voted in every election since 2002; my first presidential vote was for John Kerry in 2004. I still remember the day after George W. Bush was reelected. I was a sophomore at UCSB and an avid runner. When I heard the news I was filled with such apathy and disappointment that I vowed to run until I felt better. I went to the campus track and ran 36 consecutive laps; 9 miles. In the end exhaustion won out. A few months later I left the country for five months.

2008 was a different journey altogether. I was 24 and living in San Francisco, eking out a life as an international student advisor at a local English school. I had finally landed a full-time job after a series of unpaid internships. The cost of my health insurance, which, embarrassingly, my parents paid for, was eclipsed only by my rent. I followed the election religiously and was inspired by Shepard Fairey’s depictions of hope and change that were screen-printed all over my neighborhood. That October I was in Denver for my cousin’s wedding only a few weeks after the Democratic National Convention. I remember running through downtown Denver, admiring the blue graffiti.

The night Obama was elected I was at a friend’s house in the Mission, a bunch of us progressives huddled around a television. After eight years of GW, I was unaccustomed to trusting our political system. And then, live on television, we witnessed history happen. We were all holding pots and pans and wooden spoons, and as soon as the final count came in, we stood up as one, rattling our cookware and laughing. That night I skipped the bus and walked all the way up Mission to Bernal Hill, shouting “O - BAM - A” and slapping high fives with everyone on the street. The city reverberated with a new, tingling energy. That night remains one of the best nights of my life, because few feelings light you up the way real change can. Finally we had a leader who represented our interests, our needs, our contributions, our future.

In January 2009 I bought a ticket to DC to attend the inauguration. I had no invite; there was no formal plan. I just knew I needed to be there, that we were experiencing a generational shift that I needed to witness firsthand. I stayed with some friends in the city and walked through an audience of thousands on the National Mall. It was freezing. I wore a snowboarding jacket and brought hand-warmers. My friends and I could barely make out the line of politicians on the dais, but we could hear the echo of our president’s voice vibrate through the crowd. I will never regret that trip.

I remember only one thing about the 2012 election: Mitt Romney’s “binder full of women.” By then I was 28, a recent master’s graduate, living in San Jose with my then-boyfriend, working a proper nine-to-five. As we watched the votes pour in, I told Ryan that if the country “re-upped four years” with Obama, I, too, would re-up four years with him. A month after Obama was reelected, we got engaged.

Four years is both a substantial passage of time and a drop in the bucket. Gay marriage is now legal. We have more women on the Supreme Court. While we continue to make strides toward creating a fairer, safer world, we still face real threats at home and abroad. Our fellow humans in Syria are suffering. The movement of refugees and migrants across Europe has created yet another humanitarian crisis that we as Americans must address. Though we have made great progress for our LGTBQ communities, we still have a long way to go in supporting our transgender allies. Gun violence is real. Violence against people of color, often at the hands of law enforcement, is documented at an uncanny pace, and yet justice still awaits the victims and their families. Whoever becomes president has their job cut out for them.

While 2016 has been a particularly turbulent year around the world, it has been a year of milestones for my family. Ryan and I had our first child, a girl, in May. We did not know her gender throughout my pregnancy; a conscious choice, because we (okay, I) did not want to burden our child with undue expectations before entering the world. I was actually quite certain that I was carrying a boy. When I first saw her, late at night after an exciting and adrenaline-filled labor, I was too surprised to absorb this new love. Ten seconds into life and she had already subverted my expectations. She was small but powerful, with a voice that echoed down the halls of the hospital. Her entire being lit me up. Here she was, this new human. She didn’t know what it meant to be a woman. All she could do was fill her lungs with air and release her energy to the world. And when she cried, I felt it in my body: she is inheriting a new world.

A world where a woman could be the president of the United States.

It is the night before the election and she is asleep in her crib. I am restless. The radio is always on. I keep refreshing New York Times. I have to believe we will win. I have to know that my girl will be born in an era when the first African-American president turns over the White House to the first woman in the Oval Office. I have to believe this, because if we succeed in choosing love over hate, in embracing diversity over fear, then my daughter has so much more to believe in as a young woman. With a woman in a position of political power, she can grow up focusing on her skills and talents, and not her gender. Her experience, knowledge and compassion will be valued as highly as (if not higher than) her appearance.

 

Tonight, as with all other election eves, I went on a run. This time I took my daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silicon Valley Artist Sample

I am applying for the SV Creates Artist Laureate award in the off-stage category. I am attaching my writing sample here. All of these pieces have been previously published, and in the case of "Soloist," performed.

As proof of my literary contributions to Silicon Valley, I'd love to direct reviewers to the Play On Words YouTube channel, where you can watch recordings of past performances.

To anyone else who might find this: I hope you enjoy my work.

Our northern light

The biggest story in my life is my newborn daughter, Aurora. I have been slowly hatching a piece about her, this beautiful girl that we named after the Aurora Borealis. I am grateful to have had a healthy pregnancy and birth, and beyond overjoyed to have welcomed such a bright, charming, smart human to the world. 

While I am still dedicated to my fiction projects, this year is the year of Rory. The year our universe shifts. And I'm very happy with that.

The Saralee Recordings

Happy New Year! I'm excited to share that my essay, "The Saralee Recordings", will be published in Oracle Fine Arts Review in spring 2016. I'm honored to be included in this publication for the second year in a row.

Other big news: our first Play On Words show of 2016 was a great success! Many thanks to our amazing writers and performers for helping us fill Cafe Stritch. Volunteer photographers Andrew Christian and Leo Alvarez took some great photos, which you can see on the POW Facebook page. South Bay Pulse provided amazing video content of the show, which you can view as Part One and Part Two. We hope to produce more shows later this year.

 

 

#FFF's Literary Pub Crawl: November 22

I'm delighted to be reading a few of my 100-word stories this Sunday, November 22, at San Jose's first-ever Literary Pub Crawl, hosted by the masterminds behind the Flash Fiction Forum

There are four main stages of the event, all located in San Jose’s SOFA district:

Hope to see you there!

Pushcart Nomination

I am very pleased to announce that my piece, "Red Tide," has been nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize for fiction by the Oracle Fine Arts Review, published by the University of South Alabama.

Congratulations to all the nominees this year, and many thanks to the editors for including me in this lineup. You can read this piece, which is a narrative composed of five interlocking 100-word stories, by clicking here and scrolling to page 141. I am grateful for this opportunity to share my work.

In which I try to #doodle the #potus

Cool things: We met our next door neighbors--at Lake Arrowhead--and they are rad! And they make fruits and vegetables out of fabric! Also, Play On Words is performing at St. James Park on July 14! I met a cellist named Freya. It's summer. Ry and I depart for Europe in less than a month. 

The news is still sad. But Obama was on WTF this week. That's a sentence I never thought I'd write, and it makes me so happy to know that things do change, in their own time, in their own ways. And the beat goes on.

in which I try to draw President Obama and VP of Podcasting Maron.

Check out our rad new lime pillow, courtesy of our new friend Amy of Jumbo Jibbles.