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At Adobe Books, 5/22, for The Racket reading series

I’m part of a fine, fine group of people reading at San Francisco’s Adobe Books for Noah Sanders’ reading series, The Racket.

I see too that — other than the fact we’re from the Bay Area — a bunch of us were published recently in Joyland. (My story, “We Were Professionals,” was published in February.)

  • Tom Pyun [readers may remember his piece from The Rumpus last year]
  • Jenny Xie [whose work I’ve admired for some time — here’s “If You’re Reading This,” from Devil’s Lake]
  • Hugh Behm-Steinberg [some readers (I do!) might recall his prize-winning story “Taylor Swift“]
  • Maurisa Thompson [here she reads a poem at LibroTraficante]
  • Heather Marléne Zadig [read her story, “Vivisection,” in Joyland — so creepy]
  • Benito Vergara [that’s me!]

The topic for the reading is war, so this’ll be the first time I get to read from my novel-length work in progress about this Filipino guerrilla leader and his soldiers during the Philippine-American War.

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A Few of My Favorite Things, 2015 Edition

I’ll start with a downer: 2015 was an awful, miserable beast of a year, and bidding it good riddance and wishing for a better 2016 kind of strikes me as perverse magical thinking. Bad luck, human caprice, and institutional corruption and racism don’t really obey the artificial thresholds of calendar years.

But nonetheless the end of a year provides a time for reflection. There were good and beautiful things too. But some of these bright spots in a dark year are below.

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Seven Weeks.

curtain and wallAfter my father died, I threw myself into a frenzy of writing. It was, in retrospect, an unlikely time to be productive. My writing did not happen in the relative calm of the weeks after the funeral. It happened in the midst of everything.

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December Updates.

My essay on being a young reader in the Philippines, “A Life Inside,” is part of Entropy’s literacy narratives series. It’s also about books, sibling rivalry, libraries, parenthood, being an introvert, and (spoiler alert) literary sexual perversion.

Also, the awesome folks at SmokeLong Quarterly (thank you!) nominated my story “Stone, Well, Girl” for a Pushcart Prize.

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Epic Weekend for the Middle-Aged.

So I’ve historically reserved Sunday evenings stressing out about the soul-crushing week of work ahead. This is obviously the worst way to end the weekend, so I thought I’d look back instead.

As I approach middle age, what constitutes an “epic weekend” has become more sedate; traveling, music, partying, the overconsumption of regulated substances, etc. need not be thrown in. This weekend sure qualified as one, though certainly aided by unexpected presents (for Father’s Day!), and a visit from my daughter.

Smaller pleasures all, though no less satisfying:

  • a healthy home-cooked meal (turkey meatloaf, tofu and spinach, mashed potatoes — and bibingka made with brie, which kind of cancels the healthy part but I’m not complaining)
  • Google Hangouts with my dad and the rest of the family (it’s also his birthday in a couple of days)
  • several rounds of Love Letter with Izzy, who roundly defeated me
  • the roasted corn pizza at The Forge, made even better by the fact that we hardly ever go out anymore
  • 2500-odd words into a story about a guardian / mechanic of sorts and her relationship to her inventor mother and a machine — the closest I’ve gotten to sci-fi lately — and I’m a little frustrated because all I have are the characters and the setting and two detailed scenes but there’s zero plot, then I stop writing, and then I take a yoga class, then a shower, then BOOM the pieces suddenly fit.
  • And did I mention a great yoga class? Man I could barely do a downward dog a month ago. (Obviously Darlene had a lot to do with it.)

(Lastly, True freakin’ Detective is back? But I’m going to do exactly what I did with the first season and watch it all in one marathon sitting, so shhhhh.)