Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 comes to an end...

So. My first semester as an MFA student at San Jose State has come to an end. Here's how I did:

I'd say that this was a decent semester. Academically, at least. Everything else-- not so much. However, although I wasn't able to snag a job and struggled a bit financially, I did finally manage to move to a new apartment with my cousins. This will save me a bit of money, and it is definitely quieter. In other news, my folks and my brother came to visit me here in San Jose for the holidays, which was really nice. I hadn't noticed how lonely I'd been until they showed up. When they were here I was so happy to have them around, I kept trying to show them everything, bring them everywhere-- there wasn't enough time in the day to do everything I wanted to do with them. They were here looking towards a relaxing vacation, and there I was tiring them out. Ha! They probably left completely exhausted. Well, anyway it was nice having them for the holidays, and they helped me to put these past few months of ridiculous struggle out of my mind. So...

I hope I have a better 2012.  No... I'll make sure I have a better 2012.  Ah, yes... I can see it now... 2012 will the year of:  my first job in San Jose, my first "real" story publication, the completion of the first draft of my book, and perhaps, my first girlfriend in quite a while. Should be good...  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Library Bookstore / LitQuake 2011

Man, I've been so busy I almost couldn't keep to my once-a-month blog post schedule (as you can see from this post's pub date/time, I was just four minutes shy of missing the "deadline"). Anyhow, mostly I've been busy with schoolwork, but I've also taken on a "job." It's a volunteer job at "Friends Bookstore" in the MLK Library, so it's unpaid, but it'll give me the experience I need to hopefully land a paying job at a bookstore in the near future (I've applied to three bookstores since I've moved to SJ, but they no likey, aparently). As I'm still very busy (in the middle of writing a 16 page term paper as a matter of fact), this will be a lazy post where I just stick a bunch of photos up. Enjoy. 

The next few photos are from Litquake this year. I was visiting family in the East Bay on a Saturday, I believe, when I heard about this event in SF in Buena Vista Park. So, I decided to hop on the ol' BART, get off on 16th St and check it out. It turned out to be quite a hike. When I reached the park...

I'll be back to my crappy microsoft paint panels next month. Or try to be, anyway...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

studio of woe

This is the studio I currently live in. It's on the 6th floor of an apartment building on campus.
It gives me a place to sleep, bathe, and stash my stuff. Other than that, though, there are many inconveniences to living here. For starters, it's located between the undergrad dorms, has paper-thin walls, and is two blocks from my parking garage. Worse, is how living here limits my diet. Because my studio lacks a real kitchen-- it has no stovetop or oven-- I can't cook fresh, hot meals. Can't cook at all, in fact. I have a microwave, but microwave meals-- although "hot"-- they hardly qualify as fresh or healthy, and I rarely use it.
Basically, I subsist on cold food that doesn't have to be cooked. Sandwiches and salads pretty much dominate my daily menu. Other than that, I have to make do with a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as dry goods that don't require refrigeration, such as granola bars, crackers, and cereals. What with all the eating of grains, nuts, raw fruits and veggies, I often feel like a farm animal of some sort.
  Food that doesn't have to be cooked doesn't mean it doesn't have to be prepared, however.
I still have to wash the produce I buy and then cut it up into daily portions. Herein lies another problem. 
The only sink in my studio is the small one in the bathroom. Because my studio space is so narrow and the bathroom door opens outwards, I constantly have to open and shut the door to get from the sink to the countertop and vice-versa. It's such a hassle.
The sink also poses a problem when it comes time to wash dishes. Because it's so small, you can only wash one cup at a time-- a regular sized plate can't even fit under the faucet in its entirety.
Washing dishes here is truly an exercise in frustration. After a week or so of this, in desperation I went so far as to use the bathtub to wash my dishes. 
But that didn't last long-- bending over the tub gave me a sore back.
So, I boxed up my silverware and headed out to buy paper plates and plastic utensils. Certainly not the best things in the world, but it sure beats doing the dishes.

So, that's what my food situation is like. As for sleeping surrounded by those paper-thin walls...
Well, that's another issue entirely, but I won't go into it. I'm just glad I'll be moving the hell out of here after the semester ends in mid-December. I can't wait for my day of deliverance...

Friday, September 23, 2011

finally, a writer

As an undergrad, like a good English major, I attended all of the literary events. Only, I usually went alone, and sat by myself in the back.
When an author would finish a reading, plenty of students would stick around to chat. Even though I would have liked to do the same, I always left right away, as if none of it mattered to me. Playing it cool, I thought.

Now, I realize I was mostly just shy... and perhaps a bit of a snob-- I'll admit it. I had this thing about people calling themselves "writers." It bothered me. I was never comfortable calling myself a writer, so I hated it when I heard people "less writerly" than me say they were one.
For the most part, I wrote a lot and submitted stories to journals, but all in secret. Only very few people knew I regularly submitted my writing. I got a lot of rejections, and after 2007 or 2008 I pretty much stopped writing for a few years.
Fast forward to today, an MFA student at San Jose State, still somewhat uncomfortable with the "writer" tag. Why? Dunno. But then, the MFA director said something that changed my mind:
I listened. It sunk in. Maybe that's all I needed-- a little pep talk, a little push. To actually take part in a community of like-minded people, people who want to write-- people who were writers. So...
Finally, without hesitation: "I am a writer."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tough Times & an Unexpected Letter

I moved to San Jose with about $1400 of (borrowed) money. I figured it would last until I got my financial aid check. Turns out I underestimated a few things: 1) the cost of living in a large city, and 2) the length of time it would take to get my check.
It didn't take long to realize I needed a job, and fast. I sniffed around the English Department for available positions, but-- no dice. Time to hit the streets, then. Here's where being a graduate student is a disadvantage. On campus, most jobs are geared towards "work study" credit for undergrads. Off campus, most employers don't want to hire me because of the assumption (and it's a good one) that I would only be a short hire as I'd always have my eye out for a better opportunity somewhere else.
So, over a month in SJ and I have yet to find a job. Times are tough. Luckily, my family in the East Bay have had a few get togethers on weekends for birthdays and whatnot. Not only do I get some company, but... there is always tons of FREE FOOD at my disposal! However, since I'm hardly eating well during the week, I tend to GORGE myself once I get to the party. I wonder what this is doing to my stomach.
To eat better, I know all I'd really have to do is drive down to the East Bay on a more consistent basis, but there are a few things standing in my way: 1) pride-- I came to SJ to be independent, after all, and I don't want to bug my aunts and uncles for money or food, and 2) pure distance-- I live 25 miles away, and fuel costs more than I can currently afford.
Every day I had constantly wondered why my financial aid check was taking so long to reach me, especially since my online status showed that everything was in order. I finally decided to go to the financial aid office to see what was going on. I found the person behind the counter annoying and defensive, like he was taking my concerns personally. Anyway, it turned out that I needed to "complete financial aid counseling online" before my check could be sent, and I was upset because no one contacted me about it. I explained that my online status did not mention any counseling, and since my money was delayed I haven't been able to buy any books yet, was running out of grocery money, etc. The guy didn't care at all, didn't show any empathy. He was probably thinking about his lunch break. Meanwhile, broke as I was, I wasn't very happy upon knowing my check would be delayed ever further.
There was nothing I could do except go home and do the "financial aid counseling." This consisted  of going online, reading a couple of paragraphs and clicking a button that said I understood everything. No humanity to it at all, just a silly computer screen and me clicking buttons with my mouse. The money I so desperately needed was delayed because of THIS? I was finally on the brink. My cash was down to single digits.
Afterwards, I decided to take a hour-long walk in the city. It was free, and it would help clear my head. When I got back home, I decided to check the mailbox. To my surprise, there sat a letter from my friend Joe.

Happy to hear news from my friend, I read the letter quickly. Then I saw the check. A lot of emotions came to me upon seeing the it nestled in the envelope. Surprised, humbled, moved. The check will help hold me over until my financial aid arrives.
I will use the money wisely. Thanks, Joe. Your kindness won't be forgotten.

Now, don't send me any more money. I'm supposed to be on my own, dammit!    :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

enter the sunhat

Living in downtown San Jose, I've been doing a fair amount of walking. I enjoy it. However, all this walking is slowly turning my tan into a reddish burn.

It's no secret that I dislike sunscreen. Makes me feel icky. So, today was the first day of wearing my wide-brim sunhat outside.

At first, I worried about looking "uncool" but then realized I'm too old for that sort of thing. Besides, now I can do such things as the "dramatic taking-off-the-hat" (aka "tousled hair") move, as well as the much vaunted "one-armed-throwing-hat-onto-coat-hook" move.

So, all is well (so far) in San Jose.

Friday, July 1, 2011

the journey begins

Right now, I feel like… an RPG character.

Corny, maybe, but you know the story. A somewhat naive kid leaving his middle of nowhere desert town, headed towards the big city, armed with nothing but his trusty sword (or, in my case, pen)…

It’s true. I do feel like that. Couldn’t think of a better analogy.
This blog, then, is kind of like a record of my journey– a save point.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

technologically advanced


yeah. not exactly the coolest shit. but it's what i got, for now.

WISH LIST (aka "waiting on student loan"):
-an actual laptop
-a printer that prints faster than 10 ppm
-a digital camera