What's In Your Bookbag?


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When you went for a cigarette break, a stranger sat down and attempted to console me. Handing me tissues, she asked if I would be all right. I nodded and forced a smile. I absolutely hated it that I drew attention to myself.

Several months later on the phone, you kept apologizing. Although you seemed reluctant, we both agreed it would be our last conversation.

On a separate occasion.

“Start everything anew,” I said.

A friend expressed to me how comical it was how cold I could be. I reassured her that it was just because I cared too much. A defense mechanism, of some sorts. Or, at least that’s how I justified it.


Written by ck

June 17, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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Ctrl+z, where are you?
Oh. That’s right.
I forgot that I have a MacBook.

Written by ck

March 1, 2012 at 1:06 am

Posted in Low Effort


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I’ve been doing a bit of self-reflecting these past few weeks, specifically assessing the poor choices in my life.

As a thirteen year old, I kept believing that I was “too old” to pick up an instrument. I lament not being born in an alternate universe so I could use a time machine to travel back in time to kick my adolescent ass.

Sometimes, I really wish I had ordered the Pad Thai instead of the Yellow Curry.

Once, after another successful game of Tuesday Night Trivia with the team, I had an additional celebratory beer. I spent the next morning puking my brains out. Thinking it was a particularly bad hangover, I continued on with business as usual – with the addition of business in the restroom – by attending class and going to work. I naturally bemoaned my proclivity for choosing IPAs, but believed that because I had brought the illness upon myself, I deserved the pain. Turns out I had the stomach flu.

Ich kann only speak broken Deutsch.

There’s a long stairway to get from Bancroft to the main classrooms of Boalt. I take them every morning. Around the halfway mark between the street and the door, I – without fail – briefly think about my decision to attend law school. But it’s not because of any introspective belief about my worthiness of being amongst a stellar group of classmates at a highly regarded institution (although occasionally I do think about that), it’s because those stairs are seemingly never-ending and I’m fucking out of shape.

Written by ck

January 3, 2012 at 1:25 am

Posted in Thoughts

Lexical Tinkering

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I hadn’t expected my life to turn out this way. I suppose there’s nothing inherently unpleasant about it. No, I do not think I ended up as a heroin addict (although I am a heroine addict –I love me a strong, empowered woman in history). No, I am not pregnant (with child, pregnant with joy is debatable). No, I am not dead (still breathing as of now. You should probably occasionally check up on me though.) My life has proven to be extraordinarily average.

Sitting at my bedroom desk ten years ago, procrastinating on what little homework I was assigned, I conjured up fantasies as to what I would be immediately after my college graduation. My 11-year-old self concocted fantasies that would make a 33-year-old yuppie scoff the cocaine out of his nose. Indeed, my fantasies were wholly unremarkable because I was hopeful that I would be making “only” 60 grand a year – a fairly modest amount for a preteen – right out of a college. Moreover, I was certain I would be engaged to be married in my early twenties. I’d also be an accomplished writer. I’m also pretty sure that I wanted my own dog that I never could have.

If I said to you, dear reader, that I had achieved everything on that list right now, you’d be spurious. Perhaps you would sneer from the other side of your computer screen. After all, I make pennies as a research assistant. My ring finger is obviously bare. I don’t have a forthcoming book, published by Random House. Plus, the only animals that I’m in constant contact with are moody nomadic raccoons.

But my fantasies – with a bit of lexical tinkering – are reality. I do actually make 60 grand a year; it’s just closer to 60,000 Swedish Kronor rather than 60,000 US Dollars. Not exactly financially independent, but I can count on less than ten fingers the number of my peers who are. And though I can’t say I am an accomplished one, I am unequivocally a writer. I am competent. I am occasionally good, even. After all, I’m the (sometimes) proud author of several college papers and this entertaining blog. And in a bizarre twist of events, it all comes full circle because my extensive work-related writing has ultimately helped me become a better writer.

My wedding probably isn’t scheduled until Fall of 2019, but my bachelorette party has already happened. A post-college trip to Vegas necessitated some flamboyant debauchery among my friends, and I was assigned to be the “Bride-to-Bling” of the weekend. After some various “you’re too young to be getting married” remarks, which actually reassured myself that my body wasn’t shriveling away just yet, my fake bachelorette party ended up with me receiving a lapdance from a half-nude, probably queer, probably too-old-for-me-anyway, Thunder from Down Under dancer. I’m positive that I grabbed enough ass to last me at least ten years.

Average, my life has been. Extraordinarily average, however, my life has also been. Fantasies are just fantasies, after all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in the underlying truth in them sometimes, even if it means occasionally lying to yourself. Look, I can even write about my absurdly run-of-the-mill life experiences and make them sound slightly interesting.

Still can’t lie to myself about having a dog though.

Written by ck

June 27, 2010 at 12:43 am

Posted in Thoughts

Be Original

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Someone sent me a message via text two days ago asking how I was doing. The number was unknown — I had lost my phone in New York City two weeks before – so I had to ask who was messaging me. It was Adrienne, a former student of mine.

I tutor every quarter for an ESL class. The professor is renown for being difficult and intimidating – at least for her students. When she talks to me, however, she always seems tired and defeated. Hardly the intimidating woman as her students seemed to think of her.

Students complain to me about her rigid guidelines, wordy and difficult-to-understand prompts and her blunt observations. For a while, I couldn’t explain to them what she was looking for. “Just keep trying and work hard,” I would reply, “if you work hard, you can get the grade you want.” That advice was undoubtedly a cop-out; it was a generalization that a middle school counselor tells her 8th grade students before they enter high school. Still, I continued to advise my students the same way because of the complete inoffensiveness of the statement.

It was clear that these students had language barriers much more difficult to overcome than just by “working hard.” Some students worked hard, met with me numerous times a week, and still end up with a B. An admirable grade, especially coming from the professor, but miles away from the A for which they had hoped.

It was immediately transparent that Adrienne did not want to engage in a conversation. She needed advice. She had received a C in the class and wanted to contest it. I knew it was futile to contest her grade, but I had a soft spot for Adrienne, and gave her some tips to offer a valid argument for her case.

When I met with the professor for coffee, she described to me what she was looking for in a good student: originality, a good grasp of grammar and an attention to detail. I agreed with her. Reading through my students’ papers, they all generally stated the same idea. It was clear that originality prevented students from earning a higher grade. I don’t doubt that most of my students worked hard. But perhaps I should have had a more original piece of advice. Perhaps I should have told them to “work originally.”

Written by ck

April 10, 2010 at 11:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

My Friend, the Supreme Court Justice.

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When she found what she was looking for, she made me stop scrolling down the page. In the middle of the make-your-own t-shirt website was an image of a poorly made design with the words “Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my homegirl” in Times New Roman with a picture of Ginsburg above it.

I printed out the picture and gave it to her.

She took it, studied it for a few seconds and then looked up at me.

“Cathy, what does ‘homegirl’ mean?”

Wide-eyed, I stared at her. I briefly thought about explaining the etymology of the word and the entire social implications of it. For a good five seconds, repeating “uhs and ums” aloud to fill the silence, I weighed the pros and cons. Would she care? Would she listen? Would it be beneficial? Am I overanalyzing, once again? Would explaining keep me from leaving for home at exactly five o’clock?

“Uh, it’s slang for…friend,” I replied succinctly, believing that the cons far outweighed the pros.

Seemingly satisfied with my answer, my 73-year-old professor nodded.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my friend” doesn’t translate exactly, though.

During my first winter break back from college, Geoff and I were driving back home from a movie night in Pasadena. He was about to call me a bitch, but stopped himself before he could finish. He knew I didn’t like the social implications of the word. Unlike with my concise definition of homegirl, I explained what the word actually meant to me. I explained for nearly 45 minutes – not even fully convinced that I understood my argument – how the word upheld social inequalities.

I still don’t like the word’s connotations, but it’s been slowly making its way back into my vocabulary. I’m less tied up over the social implications of the word, and more concentrated on using it in unintended ways. I try not to use it in malice and only attempt to use it as a term of endearment — as a word to address a friend. Supposedly, the word “homegirl” could be, in essence, interchangeable with the word “bitch.”

Yet “Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my bitch” isn’t exactly interchangeable with “Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my homegirl.”

Maybe I should reconsider my understanding of semantics.

Written by ck

February 16, 2010 at 2:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Low Effort, High Quality

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Written by ck

January 31, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Media

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