Archive for the ‘grad school’ Category

In Progress . . .

Yo-yo’s and fake pearls. I’m working on a brooch to embellish cardigans and t-shirt necklines. (Please ignore the egregiously messy desk). I’ve been cutting up a fitted sheet that ripped the other week while I was stripping my bed (don’t worry, I washed it before cutting it up to use in other crafts). Turning in my sleep + old sheets + years of abuse from university-issued plastic mattress covers = ripped sheets (apparently). The sheet wore really thin in the middle, where my body is, and the fabric just gave, I guess. (The material at the sides is still usable). I’m also trying something new with the image alignment. We center-align most images at the LR blog and I like the effect. So I’m trying it here.

I do not have time to be crafting.

I do not have time to be blogging.

I do not have time to be sitting at my computer, unshowered, not-yet-medicated, not-yet-caffeinated, looking at things which do not involve either LR or schoolwork (TONS of reading, and impending thesis deadline).

Nevertheless, I am

Thinking about crafts I don’t have time for (esp the one I should NOT have started last night),
Wandering from task to task,
Still in my pj’s
With no food, drink, or medicine yet in my system,
Staring out at the gloomy snow,
Bummed that my sun lamp time is over for the day,
Not working.


Enough of this. Time to go shower and feed/medicate/caffeinate myself, then back to work, posthaste!


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More photo backlog. Fall is the one time of year that is truly breathtaking here.

View from behind Wilson Commons

Outside the laundry room

The Golden Dome in the background

Yellow maple leaves

Carved pumpkins done by M & L

Glowing (mine’s in the middle; I think I cut away too much b/c it rotted early)

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Pink Applesauce

Hard to tell from the photo, but that’s pink applesauce. Made using a variation of this recipe from Every Little Thing. (Main differences: I add a little sugar and lemon juice, and use an immersion blender after I pick the skins out, since I don’t have a food mill).

It’s fall! And freezing in South Bend already. I’ve heard tell that we’ve already had a little snow (though it was so light that I missed it). Apple and pear season, though. I’ve been taking advantage of that for sure. My roommate M and I have been buying fresh apple cider every week. And lovely ripe pears, when we can get them. A couple of weeks ago I figured out that making applesauce is actually really easy (I did burn one batch, but that was because I became engrossed in the paper I was working on and forgot about it). So it’s become my go-to snack. I love applesauce. Even more so when it is a pretty rosy color.

I know this blog has been really quiet recently. So this post is proof that — yes, I’m still alive. Still writing, and cooking, and — occasionally — baking, though not nearly as much as usual. I haven’t been crafting, though. (Or – it seems, blogging). I’m pretty wrapped up in preparing for the web site and blog launch of my magazine, and with working on my MFA thesis at the moment. But I’m on Fall Break, and reading this beautiful blog, which my friend and collaborator M linked me to (it is her cousin’s blog), made me want to post on mine.

Come to think of it, scratch that statement about not crafting. I did make a felt brooch to send to a friend for her birthday back in September. Unfortunately, I never got pictures of it before I hurried it out to the post office (I was late, as usual).

Meanwhile, my backlog of food photos has been piling up. Here are a few other edibles from recent months:

Exhibit A:

C's Birthday Cake
Slices of the (lemon-flavored) birthday cake I made for my roommate C, from September. I used Nigella Lawson’s Baby Bundts recipe, increased by 1.5x and made in a regular sized bundt pan. I love this cake – the first time I made it was for my mom’s birthday in January, and it’s absolutely heavenly. Sticky and springy, but moist, tender, and not too rich.

Exhibit B:

Toronto Bento E&J's Wedding
Travel Bento for the plane ride to Toronto in Sept, for my cousin E’s wedding. Ate it before I crossed the border and carefully wiped down the container so as not to run into problems with bringing vegetables (and sesame seeds) in. Cold soba pre-dressed with soy and sesame oil, sprinkled with green onion and sesame seeds. Lunchmeat ham. Carrots. Ginger hard candy. Apple gummies.

Exhibit C:

1st Lock n' Lock Bento
Inaugural Lock n’ Lock box Bento Lunch. Cooked lettuce and cannellini bean “salad” (sometimes I like to cook my salads – I’m weird like that), leftover Shepherd’s Pie, digestive biscuits split in half, two gummies, frozen raspberries. I’d asked my mom to pick up a slightly smaller divided box for me because they sell these at the H-Mart near my parents’ house (seemed easier than ordering online), but my mom misunderstood and bought me an 800mL box, which is — well, kind of huge. I did successfully pack a sandwich (plastic-wrapped), veggies, and snack in it the second time I used it, and was nice and full. But the lunch pictured here (even with salad – a notorious space hog!) was too much to eat in one sitting. Also, I discovered an annoying quirk to the box. The dividers are not tall enough to lie flush against the inside of the lid, so the liquid from my salad (which was pre-dressed) spilled onto the digestive biscuits during the 5 minute walk to my library carrell and made the cookies really GROSS and soggy. Surprisingly, the raspberry juices didn’t go anywhere because the nut cup I put them in DOES sit flush against the inside of the lid. You’d think that they’d make dividers that sat flush – otherwise, what is the point of dividing foods that will spill into one another anyway? At any rate, I’ve now learned a lesson about how to pack this box, which I’ve narrowed down to two main strategies: 1) protect the dry foods (works best when they are easy to wrap in plastic, like sandwiches or cookies). 2) limit wet foods, or quarantine when possible (use mini-containers with lids or nut cups); or simply use a sidecar. Ultimately, I have to say that I’m kind of disappointed with this box. The whole reason for wanting a Lock-n-Lock was to have a spill-proof container that had modular inner dividers so that I wouldn’t have to use multiple sidecars. But it turns out that the dividers don’t do a whole lot of dividing inside. I think I’m mostly going to be using it for sandwich meals in the future. :-p Guess the old Snapware + sidecar method wasn’t so bad, after all.

Onward! Tomorrow is for thesis writing and cake-baking (I’ve got a chocolate pear cake I want to make).

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I’m currently sitting in the San Jose airport waiting for my plane to Philly. After moving out of South Bend on Wednesday, I flew out here to CA and spent the weekend attending a wedding, doing research in Monterey, and spending lots of quality time with my boyfriend. Summer has been coming on way too fast – and by that I don’t just mean the weather (it was 95 degrees here yesterday). This year, I’ll be spending a few weeks at home for vacation, and then working in New York City for 10 weeks. It’s hard to believe that my first year of graduate school is already finished. My papers are turned in, my apartment packed up into boxes, and I’m all moved out. It seems downright surreal that I only have one more year left in my program. About a year ago, when I started this blog, I was just applying to MFA programs, and now I’m already starting to plan out options for post-graduation.

I haven’t blogged very much in the last few months, but I have been doing a lot of cooking, crafting, and photographing. So here’s a few poladroids from the end of last semester, as a retrospective of sorts (there’s a lot of them I’ve been saving up, so I’ll do a second post later, with more):

Homemade cheese crackers.

Spring tulips from the Farmer’s Market

Research for my nerdy, nerdy poetry manuscript.

New watch. (The old one died so I upgraded to something more grown up).

Discarded shoes and toys at a bridal shower.

It’s wedding season, full force, around here!

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Last week was ridiculously busy, and this week doesn’t look to be any better.  I’ve been preparing for my big department-sponsored reading (which takes place this upcoming Wednesday), taking care of household and financial logistics post-Spring Break (among other things, it appears that my tetanus immunization has expired, so I need to go have it renewed this week), doing regular classwork (I have a big project for one of my classes due this Thursday, the day after my reading), doing church (I got to read one of my poems during the offertory today) and volunteer related stuff (Riley readings are supposed to start again soon, and I’m taking over for next year) and running on an insane sleep schedule – my body having refused, point-blank, to readjust to EST after returning from the West Coast.  (I think I’m still a little  jet lagged, even now).

In the midst of all this, getting to hear last week’s guest poet read was a welcome respite. Fabulous Filipina American poet Luisa Igloria (the winner of this year’s Sandeen Prize) came to campus to read from her book Juan Luna’s Revolver last week, and I was privileged to have the chance to converse with her afterwards, and to eat breakfast with her the next day.  Prof. Igloria was very encouraging to me about my work, and really lovely to speak with.  She also proved to be quite gracious, even though there were several logistical snafoo’s among us MFA students that resulted in our being 20+ minutes late to pick her up for breakfast the morning after her reading.   I always love a good, long conversation about craft and vision, and it was great to hear some of Prof. Igloria’s thoughts about teaching and writing, which she punctuated with colorful anecdotes.  Her stories about home and family reminded me of the importance of story and narrative to my vision for my own work.  All through these projects – both Cannery Row and the Women Scientists (which might tentatively be called “Physics at the Dinner Table” – I’m hesitant to slap a title on it yet, though, before I finish the work as a whole and see how it all fits together), it’s been the stories I’ve been looking for.  Voices, and ghosts, and ghosts of voices that tell stories with ghosts of other stories hiding beneath them.  I’ve just recently started to add the layer of my own personal and family stories to my work with the Women Scientists, and it’s been really interesting to me to see how everything  kind of bleeds together at the edges and piles up in unexpected layers.  Prof. Igloria also does a lot of historical work in Juan Luna’s Revolver, and had a lot of good advice to give to me about process and resources.  I’ve started reading a little of the book, and it’s been very interesting to contemplate how some of what she’s doing there can serve as a model for what I’ve been trying to do.  Her visit actually came at a really appropriate time for me, as I’m just now beginning to see the faint outline of a shape emerge for both of these works, and now it’s about continuing to collect information along the way as I follow those thin chalkmarks, and doing the work of sitting and writing, to try out different ways to flesh out what will eventually appear inside the outlines.

* * *

Last Sunday night, the experimental dinner I concocted from the very random leftovers in our fridge (we do our grocery shopping on Mondays) kind of bombed.  So in order to make myself feel better, and to try out the new mini food cutters I bought at Daiso when I was in California for Spring Break, I made Linzer Cookies using King Arthur Flour’s recipe.  I halved the recipe, except for the egg (because the dough seemed too dry without it).  Unfortunately, I think the other half of the egg ended up being a little too much, because the resulting dough was slightly more sticky than it ought to have been, even after flouring and refrigeration.  I filled the cookies with half raspberry preserves (heart cutouts) and half apricot jam (star cutouts).  I ended up being pretty happy with the results.  They were more work than I had expected, but they were tasty, and anyway I love rolling out and cutting dough (I find it relaxing).  And for once, our house actually finished them all within the week.

Linzer Cookies (heavily based on King Arthur Flour’s Linzer Cookies)
Makes about 16 cookies, depending on the size of your cutters.

1/1 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ or glazing sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup Trader Joe’s almond meal
1 1/8 all-purpose flour
1/2 of a beaten egg
raspberry jam and apricot jam
confectioners’ or glazing sugar, for dusting

Beat together the butter, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and flavor. Mix in the almond meal, flour, and egg. Divide dough in half and wrap well. Refrigerate for 60 minutes, for easiest rolling.

Roll the dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut the dough into rounds with a large (2 inch) daisy cutter. Transfer the cookies to a foil-lined baking sheet. Cut windows into the centers of half of the daisy rounds using a mini-cutter and remove the inside shapes (you can either roll them back into the rest of the dough for recutting, or bake them as little mini cookies). Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges. Cool on a rack. Dust the cookies with cutout tops lightly with confectioners’ sugar.

Spread the solid cookies with jam. Place a cutout cookie on top. Let stand for several hours, until the filling is set.

* * *

It’s late now; actually past midnight already (I waited till the last minute to start writing this blog entry – not the greatest of ideas when you’re trying not to stretch the limits of your Lenten disciplines), so I’ll stop here.

Wish me luck on Wednesday.  ::Crosses fingers for a good reading::

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Someone from the program sent me an email today informing me that I’ve got a mention on the Sycamore Review’s Blog.

Pretty awesome.  I actually think Katie gave me more credit than I’m due – she also spoke to my friend Steph, who was the one who filled her in about our program’s work with the kids at the Juvenile Detention Center.  I simply provided info. about our work at the Center for the Homeless and Riley HS and sent her a couple of contact emails later (I’m not in charge of the Center for the Homeless program, though I participate, and I am just starting to transition into responsibility for the Riley HS readings).

At any rate, I’m excited to hear that there’s buzz being generated about my program’s involvement in the community and am hopeful that Purdue’s program and ours will be able to collaborate and share more resources with one another as our various outreach activities grow.  I hadn’t gotten the chance to mention it earlier, but aside from plunging me a little more deeply into the Asian American poetry community, AWP was a really awesome opportunity for me to connect with other writers who were interested in community service and service teaching.  The panel that Purdue presented at was just one of many awesome sessions that I attended throughout the weekend, and I left feeling really encouraged, and excited to continue to pursue service while I’m at ND, but also to seriously pursue a teaching job with a program like WITS (Writers in the Schools) or WritersCorps post-graduation.

So, Katie – if you’re reading this – thanks! 🙂

– s.

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I just want to clarify something about what I posted yesterday.  I was hashing my “eureka” moment over with the friend I’m sharing a hotel room with last night, and realized that I forgot to stress the irony of this realization.  I’ve actually known about this whole alienation from the American landscape for a long time, now – studied it in college, wrote papers about it.  But all of that seemed distant and far removed.  I don’t think I ever really applied it to myself till yesterday.  And I’m not sure why I did.  Thinking about it now, it seems like a huge case of “DUH.”  I’m not sure why I somehow thought myself so connected to the landscape of South Jersey.  Perhaps because I’ve always wanted to claim it (though of course I guess I realize now that I’ve never been completely successful in doing so).  I mean – for goodness’ sakes – the speech I gave at my high school graduation even used my sadness at the district’s chopping down of a large grove of trees from in front of the school in order to add on to the building as a metaphor for change.  And of course, afterwards, most people told me they couldn’t understand what I was talking about.  Apparently I used too many big words or something like that.  (Granted, of course, the fact that I was rather given to flowery language in high school – but I’d still like to think that the speech made sense to more than just me, and the teachers who coached me in revising and delivering it).  All that aside, however – I’m finding yesterday’s discovery kind of funny, in its wake.  My friend, when I described it to her, said, “but – you knew this – haven’t you talked about this to me before, many times?”  Which was when I realized (CLUNK!) that yes, I have spent the last 2 years researching, studying, writing about Asian American alienation from the American landscape.  I’ve known this intimately – in the abstract.  And on the page (or rather, on other people’s pages).  But somehow it never struck home in my own heart until yesterday.  I’m so incredibly glad that it did, but I still can’t figure out why it took me that long to “get it” . . .

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