I’ve been struggling with how to be thankful. I think back to my elementary-school days, when all of us small children would flail out Sharpie-scrawled lists of “Things I’m Thankful For.” Common denominators among the class: food; my bed; my house; my friends.

I remember it was a kind of self-shock, consciously remembering the little things I take for granted. Count your blessings. Usually, that command implied a directive to compare ourselves with the less fortunate. Weigh yourself and your situation with those around you. There’s always someone worse off than you. At least you have food to eat, so why are you worrying about your grades? You should be thankful for what you have. The classic “There Are Starving Children in Africa” argument—finish your food. Continue reading

Today at Mission: Possible!…

A homeless man—fifty years old, friendly—I had interviewed on Sunday passed me this note.

Isabella (Bella) — Hi…

🙂 Hoping that my letter will surely find you in the best of spirits…

I deeply enjoyed the bit of time we shared together. I’m really looking forward to spending more precious moments with u. I didn’t make breakfast @ Mission Possible Monday. I spent it @ The Angel House. I refreshed with a cool shower and coffee and glazed-doughnut. mmm—good! I thought about U alot!!! Mostly our fascinating conversation. I am, convinced beyond a shadow- of a doubt incessantly, and physically attracted to U… I want to let you know. Consider me your Hero!

Next time we meet I want to look you in your beautiful eyes and give you a hug, a big–tight hug.

Most of all… I want to conversate with you, you have alot that I want to learn from you. And hope that a truly great relationship can aspire between us, you and me.

I would love to call you – Bella – like Bella in *Twilight*— and I want to keep it like I’m the only one who calls you Bella.

I can’t wait to see you!!!

&really miss you!


Continue reading

Initial Thoughts

You did the best you could.

I should have started in May, worked on it for a few
hours a day until October. Then, maybe I’d have had a chance.

But, given the situation—SAT prep, taking the SAT on October 1st—you
went in to Taylor and Crocker, asked for help, did all you could do.
You worked your butt off, and you can really only look forward from here.

What I should have done is move my SAT to November in the first place.
Could have avoided the whole accidental-cheating
thing, saved myself a few nights of crying.

Hey, you got a freaking —-. That’s incredible. You should be so proud of yourself. Continue reading

Excerpt from “Origin Story”

It sinks into her rib marrow; the red spot shudders and rips open her dead chest. Expanding bullets, the first death of the night—Wukesong intersection Wukesong intersection… did you hear? the countdown starts here—10pm, the first death hour—10:30pm, they blockade the Muxidi bridges with up-turned trucks and burn it all a rancid purple… military tanks, military rams piercing the broad metals like pencils through palms… so they face the wide row of leveled points, arm on stranger’s neck, chests to the sky!—11pm, they’re in Tiananmen Square, survivors saturated and staggering with blood, retching Wukesong! Muxidi! and they throng and conglomerate (do we hate? do we kill?) in a reddening mind-haze—12am: Red, the quiet girl from the front-row of Economics, has been killed.—12:30am, they raw and boil, they glaze and squint: the damp smell of salty copper is thickening their skulls, they wait, roaring, scraping their necks—they deserve this much—or the force of the spin tears their sense and they scrape the green men’s necks—their sticks, rocks, and glass are taken by each other—1:30am, the Square is sealed with military: booms whiz over their heads, or into their knees—2am:
“We entreat you in peace, for democracy and freedom of the motherland, please refrain from using force against peaceful student demonstrators”
and boom! sophomores convulse and bleed out—3:30am, too many have died, should they give it up—4am, traitor, coward, what leader you are: “Clearance of the Square begins Now”—they remain anyway, the bites of the clubs in their cheekbones and shattered thighs:
“This is the final struggle / Let us group together and tomorrow”
 they are engorged and stomach-tight on conviction! they stare into the night-green tank guns!
“The Internationale / Will be the human race”
and they’ve died a little too many…
—5:10am, it’s over, it’s over: they rise, they link arms and march over the icy cheeks of their friends.

Smoke rises over the city.

YoungArts Complete! + “Dreamerboy”

Tonight I finished one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Writing two stories, twenty-pages shouldn’t have been so stressful, had I started it over the summer like I should have… had I not waited until the last two weeks.

To be fair, I took the SAT on October 1 and spent September preparing for it (and my scores were cancelled, long story: so it wasn’t even worth it). But I’ve learned (yet again!) the value of starting things months in advance. Time to start on my TASS application (due in January)!

Things I learned about writing and my writing process:

  • I don’t like to delete things. It can take me twenty minutes to come up with one good sentence, and with every hit of the ‘delete’ button, I feel like I’m erasing valuable time.
  • It did take me three hours on the night of Sunday, October 2 to write about 3/4 of a page. Did I feel frustrated? Yes. I also didn’t want to delete most of it later, although it really was a bad 3/4 of a page.

Continue reading


[excerpt from a piece written for the ACC Missions Handbook 2016-2017]

Carmen means ‘song’ in Latin. Carmen is dark-lit and wide-stretched. Her widely tapered eyes are luxuriant—her smile crinkles her whole face into something radiant, something nobler than happiness. Joy, maybe, at its most primal.

It leaks from her drawling hands, hands caressing the heads of the wonder-eyed chicos, who giggle then and run outside the church room, up and down the alley twice, and come back panting like furry little perros; from her hands on the chicos’ shoulders then, calming them to listen to Pastor Fernando instruct. Continue reading