HEY it’s been a crazy week. I feel bad because I’ve been super talkative on social media and I betrayed you by broadcasting to the one outlet I despise (curse you, Instagram seriously) BUT I’ll try to make it up with this post. I tend to keep my most precious memories away from the public, but these experiences – I feel like I want to share. Not because I owe you something or that I want to brag but because at this moment, as you’re reading this, we’re on the same team. And for those of you who have kept up since day one, you know that misfortunes tend to dominate FranRants, but I want you to know that sometimes we can go through good things too. Sometimes, we can win. So today, in two parts, I’ll give the unabridged story behind all the pictures I recently posted on Instagram (plus a few more never-before-seen photos LOL). It’ll be a long one but bear with me! Feel free to skip through; I tried adding subheadings to make it easier to read.
MY LORD FARQUAAD HAIRCUT
On Sunday 5/19, I got a haircut and my girl Lindsay…dang she really went in. To be fair, I told her to do whatever she wanted and I guess she thought cutting it super short was the way to go, so now I’m trying to deal with it as best as I can. Often, I brush my teeth away from the sink so I don’t have to see myself in the mirror LOL but it’s also a very intimidating look. As long as the public (aside from whoever is reading this) doesn’t know how much I struggle with the new look, I can seem as scary and confident as I want, which is a plus.
Monday 5/20: Nothing too big except I ran 4 miles in the morning! (I’m gonna keep reiterating this but) I never say these things to show off; I say it because if I can do it, you can too!! And if it doesn’t seem like a big accomplishment, well it was for me considering exercise has always been difficult. Here’s where my hair became a challenge because it’s too short to pull up into a ponytail and yes sure snap clips are in these days, but they’re not so cute when they’re barely hanging onto a nappy, sweaty head.
BEING SHOWCASED AT EXHIBITS
Wednesday 5/22: I don’t remember if I ever told you but I submitted two pieces (“1415” & “Sincerely”) for this art show last minute and surprisingly, I got in! So Wednesday after Visions, I went to the ACTIVE art exhibit as soon as I entered the fairly small room, to my right, taped to an upturned table were my poems! Three of my friends were all there coincidentally and I appreciated them acknowledging my poems. I also had a humbling encounter with another artist from the show who – when I knelt down beside my poems to take a picture – asked, “Did you write those?” and I said, “Yes!” and she said, “They’re really good. You should go up and read them at the open mic.” and after that, I forgot how I responded because it was just a flurry of random “Oh no it’s okay”’s and “Thank you thank you thank you”. I still haven’t figured out how to handle my response when people talk to me about my writing, so if I ever seem very flustered or scared to talk about it in public, just know I’m very grateful that you’ve come to me in the first place and that soon, I will compose myself in a graceful manner.
Thursday 5/23: This was the day I had anticipated for a long time. The New Forum (an undergrad literary journal) exhibit was that night at 6:30 and I sacrificed working an event with Jameela Jamil (!!) for it. I spent a long time in the morning trying to tame my hair and orient it the right way and putting on layers of makeup so that it would stay the exhibit – point is, I tried really hard to look as good and confident as I could. I wore a new shirt, new necklaces, tried to work my new hair (but didn’t really do a good job of it since it curtailed in weird directions anyway). What do I remember from that night? I remember feeling very nervous because I invited my sister and I remember feeling uncomfortable and suffocated that I had company with me for once. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it takes a lot for me to invite people to events and as lonely as it is celebrating things on my own, I think I’m more comfortable that way. I don’t have to worry about other people having fun and I can continue kind of being in my own world, but that being said, I’m glad there was someone to take pictures of me and who was just… there anyway, I guess. I also remember feeling extremely out of place. The venue where they had the exhibit was the writing center: a fairly narrow walkway with a carrying capacity of maybe thirty-five people although we were definitely exceeding that number. A lot of bobbing heads – enough to raise the room temp to a good 78 degrees i would say. I don’t know, maybe it was my wavy hair or maybe my dark lipstick (that I now realize doesn’t really complement my complexion anymore), but in those moments, I felt so…weird and unconfident? Like if my expectations were manifested into a body suit, it was three sizes too large and everywhere I walked, I was constantly aware of how I didn’t fit the persona I was trying to exude and just overall – I wasn’t supposed to be there. Is it too mean to myself if I admitted that not feeling pretty was a big part of it? It was that lipstick!!! And my hair!!!
On the upside, I was very excited when I saw my poem showcased on a tiny easel – it was a pretty big deal, just because the poem wasn’t simply my story to tell; it was an homage to my childhood home and watching people pause by the table to read my work, to have my grandparents’ address cross their minds even for a glimpse of a second – it was so nice to see.
ON REJECTIONS & TIPS FOR SUBMITTING TO JOURNALS:
I didn’t tell you this but I did submit to New Forum last quarter and I didn’t get in. The piece was called “Color Blind” which is from the first mini collection I released and I thought that because it held the most sentiment for me, that I was for sure going to get in…and I didn’t and I was crushed. Like I kid you not, I blocked and suppressed that whole memory out of my brain. I became bitter and doubtful about writing and luckily, with time and some encouraging words from Shawn (you’ll see her in the next post if you haven’t already), I was able to somehow get back from that. I remember constantly checking my email during that week, even comparing the exact time (it was a Friday 8 PM) I received the email last year to make sure there was still hope for an acceptance letter and it never came. And this doesn’t necessarily just apply to writing; to this day, I’ve been applying and interviewing for multiple school-related programs only to receive the same rejection email a couple days later. It SUCKS!!!! It nicks your confidence and lingers there, festering until you really don’t believe in yourself anymore.
But it does make the process of standing back up again that much more satisfying (I guess I was really good at that when I was younger)
I still don’t know the master plan on handling rejections (except to keep going) but there are things that I did differently for New Forum this time around that I felt helped me get published: for one, I did my research. Simply, rereading their past issues from this year and absorbing the type of skill level and content they tended to showcase, in turn trying to emulate that into my work. Also, submitting more than one piece (if a journal allows you to submit more, there’s nothing to lose!). And most importantly, ensuring that what you submit still means something to you. That despite the multiple rounds of drafts and re-writes, you’re still holding a message you want to share to people. This is key! Why else would you be writing, right?
As a bonus, New Forum reposted my picture and I thought that was pretty cool, no?
MEANINGS BEHIND ‘HERE AND THERE’ POEMS:
I know it’s technically not advisable to justify what your poems mean, but again, this is under special circumstances.
- “Sincerely, a Jungle Asian”: Because the ACTIVE exhibit was centered around intersectionality, I felt that this poem hit hard with some of my struggles as a Filipina-American and so I revised it (honestly, should’ve done that the first time around before I released it) and tried to polish it as best as I could. I must say, I like this final version a lot more. Here’s what I wrote as my description for the exhibit: “Jungle Asians” is a term coined and popularized by comedian Ali Wong. It refers to the southeast Asians (i.e. Filipinos, Vietnamese, etc.) which contrast the “Fancy Asians” of the east (i.e. Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, etc.). When yet another hierarchy is inserted among the Asian community, placing those who typically live in tropical, underdeveloped areas underneath those who are rapidly rising in international markets, media, and technology, it is hard to turn away from undercutting my value as a Filipina-American because I feel as “dirty” and “undeveloped” as the country I come from. There is this guilt and shame that comes with wanting to be like them, to be considered a “Fancy Asian” so I’d feel beautiful and superior. There is a lot of jealousy, insecurity, and idolization that manifests in this poem because of this racial division that only gets more and more rigid as I get older. This poem also highlights my discomfort in portraying a certain race as a ‘trend’ – almost in a way that feels like this new highschool-esque popularity hierarchy is superimposed on a larger scale with ‘Jungle Asians’ and ‘Fancy Asians’ being pitted against one another. ….Or maybe this is just a way for me to say I’m extremely jealous…all the time. This brings up the conversation of Soft Power which is actually such an interesting and fun thing to learn about. I’ll link a bunch of articles and videos on it at the bottom of this.
- “breathe, dammit”: every single time I get hit with bad news or I have to undertake a big task that feels impossible to complete, I feel like this. Ready to combust any second. I hope I was able to express that it’s different from being nervous, which doesn’t nearly have as much negative anxiety laced with it.
- “supine”: this one is about me fighting off my laziness (or trying to) everyday. sometimes, it’s so SO difficult not to think about being back in bed when I’m at school. I don’t know why that is – why is my bed so enticing all the time? It’s like a magnet I can’t run away from. It’s also about not being able to focus – whether to study or to write – sometimes, I really can’t do it and at the core, this is what I mean when I’m ‘going through the motions’ of school. Everyday comes and goes because I’m never truly grounded in the moment, simply waiting to get home, waiting to wake up, only to wait until I sleep again. By the way, “building trenches” is about the lines on your skin, the minuscule “trenches” that appear when you’ve had a really reeeeallly good sleep. I would like to say that technically, I didn’t use ‘supine’ in the correct term; in the poem, I’m not on my back staring upward so oop! sorry about that!!
- “1415 E. Quintos St., Sampaloc, Manila”: I didn’t intend for this to be a response to “Sincerely, a Jungle Asian” but I guess that’s what it became. An homage to my childhood home. Here’s the description I submitted for this piece:For any immigrant, our identities are constantly intertwined between two places: where we come from and where we are now; where we choose to live and where we’re forced to survive. When homesickness hits, it’s never quite a feeling I can pinpoint, almost just another confirmation that I don’t belong completely here or there (<– the namesake of this collection!!!!!). This ultimately affects the way I measure my ability of having what it takes to live out the successful American dream that my parents have sacrificed so much of their own lives for. Often, the madness of competition and pressure for success gets too overbearing and I escape to the remaining scraps of memories that I pocketed while living in the Philippines, hoping to shelter myself in simplicity. This poem is an homage to my roots – my childhood home specifically – and is dedicated to anyone who carries the meaning of simplicity, gratitude, and sacrifice close to their hearts.
WE DID SOMETHING, YOU GUYS
And as an ending note, I hope you share this feeling of accomplishment with me. We did something! And people outside of the blog got to read our words and they didn’t hate it! I never know when or where my writing journey will end, so these moments are worth celebrating, no matter how obscure and lowkey and tiny tiny tiny it might be in the scale of all the great things considered “successful”. As always, thank you for the all support.
*cover photo isn’t mine; found it on pinterest*