Ten years ago, nearly to the day, I was wrapping up the end of a year in China and preparing to visit my language partner’s hometown, Chengde. I’d been there once before, as a grumpy 16-year-old, awkward in the sweltering heat, bored and restless as we wandered the old imperial grounds where the court used to sometimes go to escape Beijing. What I remember most from that first trip was that Chengde had been gripped in drought, such that their major tourist attractions dried up and the town was feeling the impact of a severe tourism drop-off. At 16, I guess you could call it my first real brush with poverty, and while I was pretty excited to be immersed in Chinese 24/7 (because, let’s face it, I’ve been a Chinese language geek for as long as I can remember, seeing as I have very few memories pre-bilingual school), it was also a sobering experience.
Also, when you’re 16, all temples start to look the same after awhile. (I cannot lie, sometimes, even now, at twice 16, I still feel that way)
But travel is always different when you’re visiting with a local, and this trip was no exception. By that point, I thought I had a pretty good handle on China and Chinese. Dare I say I was a wee bit smug at my ability to blend into a crowd? China remains one of the few places on earth where I am just another anonymous face, and I hadn’t realized how much I would cherish that anonymity until I lived there. Yet this trip also gave me a rare glimpse into the country that I would not have otherwise been able to see.
You can read the piece in Oregon Humanities‘ summer issue, Edge.
Do you ever have those dream jobs where you apply because you’re excited but not because you actually think you’ll be picked? Well, applying to literary contests is a bit like that for me. I mean, some part of me is positive I’ll win, because otherwise why would I throw away $20 on the entry fee? But for the most part, winning feels like such a long shot when you’re up against a couple hundred (or more) talented writers.
So I was beyond thrilled to learn that an essay of mine had been selected as a finalist for the 2016 Fourth Genre essay prize. Seriously. There might have been some dancing involved. That, and sitting in stupefied silence on my couch. Rinse and repeat.
Fourth Genre is a literary magazines that’s at the very top of my publication wishlist. They always publish interesting, well-constructed, thoughtful essays, and I love the way their authors play aggressively with form. Although the essay sadly won’t appear in the magazine itself (the editor sent me the nicest rejection letter ever, though), I’m thrilled to have the honor of making it that far.
I always love the opportunity to bring together the disparate parts of my life, and so it thrills me to have an article in the latest issue of Craft Industry Alliance Journal about crafting a customized exercise routine (the article is only accessible if you’re a member).
People who know me by my sewing/knitting persona may not know that I worked in health for a decade (work that’s ongoing, albeit now in freelance form), including a joyous year spent as a health coach to clients all across the country. I loved being a health coach. The opportunity to work one-on-one with folks to identify ways they could reach their health goals was such a privilege. And so much fun! I’m that friend who will problem solve with you to infinity, and this was a chance to problem solve with folks on a topic that was dear to both of us.
All that to say, I got a real kick out of writing that article. Here’s to finding more unexpected, sometimes quirky, ways to align your past and present lives, those many (disparate) interests that run through us and that may seem inconsistent to others, but are truly consistent because we are the common underlying thread …
I sometimes think of Seamwork as the gift that keeps on giving. It’s afforded me the opportunity to explore all sorts of fascinating topics (through the articles I write for them), I get to edit a vast array of articles and interact with some lovely writers, and now it’s giving me the opportunity to participate in my first art show ever!
After reading my article on personal rituals, the owners of The Pigeons Studio and Gallery invited me to participate in their May show, which has the theme “ritual.” We had a bit of back-and-forth before deciding I’d contribute a quilt I worked on at roughly the same period that I wrote the piece. The hand quilting was extremely meditative and created a lovely personal ritual I looked forward to each evening. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I really needed it!
There’s a show opening on Sunday May 1 from 5-7 if you happen to be in town. Otherwise, the show is up for the month of May. I’ve peeked at the Facebook and Instagram feed and it looks like it’s going to be amazing. A ton of talented artists (showcasing a variety of works) – I’m incredibly honored to participate.
The good folks over at 1001 Journal were kind enough to do an interview with me about writing, running, crafting, and the creative process (warning: we get really into the weeds of the writing process). I even talk about my personal writing rituals! Thanks so much to 1001 Journal for the opportunity to reflect on the wondrous, mysterious art/craft of writing, which still, to this day, after multiple failed attempts at a book manuscript and switching over to a freelance writing/editing career, remains my first and truest love.
For those of you in the Portland area, I’ll be giving a reading at The Waypost on Friday 3/11 as part of Neuwerk Vol. 4. The lineup includes Michael Heald, Greg Stockert, Andy Rayborn, Orion Ice Coleman, and more!
Starts around 8. It should be a fun night of music, performance art, and prose. Hope to see you there!
My article in the March issue of Seamwork Magazine is all about the science behind the relaxing properties of crafting. Pop on over and take a look!