Martha Rhodes

Provincetown = Kythera 2.0 by Diana Khoi Nguyen

No, really--my time here reminds me very much of my month on the Grecian isle. Yes, I'm not isolated and wholly alone or without English-language interaction--but something about the beach layout and the sun-slant here reminds me of Kythera. I feel calm and at peace (which is easy of course).

I'm also enjoying my time with Martha and getting to know how she reads/looks at a poem. I found out yesterday that like me, she also makes food lists a priority when she's on vacation. We all had lunch as a class today--food was so-so, but I was happy for the company as all my eats/meals have been me + iPhone/Instagramming.

Every day I just go to the beach--and it's not crowded, dirty, or gross--it's just really peaceful and the water is incredibly wonderful--and I'm very critical of my water/beaches. I truly understand why people come here regularly every summer. It's like a domestic (vs. international) dream out here.

Two days ago, something strange happened or didn't happen in workshop. I'm not wholly sure if I'm paranoid--but basically, one student in class had "Chinese fortune cookie / slip" in his poem and someone made a comment about how "slip" wasn't necessary, it was implied, etc.--and I added that "Chinese" wasn't, either--since everyone knows what a fortune cookie is, and I'm not so sure it's 100% Chinese or even 1% Chinese. I will also add that I am the only non-white person in the classroom. So there was talk for a while about other things in the poem. Then another student started to talk about how Chinese fortune cookies fortunes, "no offense" were generic, written like horoscopes, etc. Except I could have sworn that when she said "no offense"--she looked right at me! And hadn't been before / after saying that. I can't tell if this was just normal eye-scanning-while-talking in class (she's a wonderful person and I like her company very much) or if she looked at me because (1) I said "Chinese" wasn't necessary at the beginning of the poem-talk and (2) I am Asian-looking (duh, Asian-American).

Now, I am definitely not one to feel strongly about being Asian-American--and have so many reservations about applying/doing Kundiman--and didn't really want to join Our Word, Columbia's writing group for non-whites--but I did anyway because a friend said--it's free, and we get access to great writers that others wouldn't. So I did. And I worked with some awesome people! But I hated going to the round-table discussions with guest speakers/student-members because it involved sitting through a lot of complaining from my peers about the "discrimination" they perceived all the time. Which I think is partially bullshit--I can't recall a moment in all my 28 years in America feeling discriminated against in school (or elsewhere) for how I looked (okay, it sucked being the only Asian face in elementary school, but I'm going to chalk that up to dumb-ass young kids--I was dumb and young, too).--but never in my adolescent/adult life have I been made aware that I look any different from anyone else (that is, that I am of Asian descent). And I'm skeptical that all these stories were truly of discrimination. Frankly, I thought, I think the teacher said that to you because your comment was STUPID, not because you look different. I do feel that there are some with race-sensitivity issues--and these are the ones to perceive the racism, etc. And a lot of the times, it's just not there.

Anyway. I can't help but wonder if I'm doing this here. For the first time in my life. I'm not sure why it came to mind--why I can't be sure--why I couldn't just ask my classmate if the look was intention (how awkward a confrontation that is). Anyway, I think it was just a coincidence because no one looked at me when I made the "Chinese" comment--or when the student said "no offense" while looking at me.

I'm not sure how to reconcile my confusion about this small incident--but I guess, I'm keeping tabs on myself.

And it can't hurt to apply to Kundiman--I hope to be accepted--and if so, swept away by the camaraderie. No real group of Asians/Asian-Americans have ever welcomed me into their throng, including my family. So maybe it can start in my late 20s.

In other unrelated news: got 2 poetry bad news this week--but! Cal found my 3rd draft of my poetry review to be "excellent" and will be publishing in the next issue of Lana Turner. I somehow redeemed myself. Am excited to have critical prose forthcoming for the first time! Maybe I should force myself to do this more often ...

Welcome to Ptown! by Diana Khoi Nguyen

Just downloaded here in my spacious studio apartment at FAWC. Feeling so grateful to have this time to relax and meet other poets and of course, work with Martha Rhodes.

JB was so generous--and dropped me off (from Brooklyn!)--a long 6+ hour drive, then turned back around to drive home. I love him so much. If he weren't teaching, I know he'd enjoy the space, quiet, artist community/space, and Ptown culture.

Right now I've set up my desk at this lovely sheaf dark-stained wood dining table and the fan is whirring in the background, and I can hear light rain bouncing on some shingles outside my kitchen window. I've unpacked all my bags, put sheets on the bed, unloaded my toiletries--for the first time in over a week, I feel like I have a home! All of last week was spend living in an empty room on an air mattress since JB and I moved all our stuff into PA storage (where we'll be at the end of August, at the end of our travels, etc.). It feels wonderful to have a home, even if for the week--and I can't help but imagine the previous writers/artists who called this unit (#2) home during the residency season (Oct-May). I can already imagine how productive I or any other artist could be living here.

It's been a while since I've been dwelling alone, and being here with the object sounds, the natural sounds--reminds me a little of my farm hut in Kythera in 2009. The solitude and richness of potential drove me to document my thoughts via blog then--and here I am, now. I even have the same haircut (though it's growing out)--and I certainly feel older than the previous version of me--I feel calm, at peace with my life (but also of course, excited for all the things I'm pursuing in the short/long-term).

It feels strange and unceremonious that I'm no longer a resident of NYC. I'm vagabonding it for the next three weeks--days filled with poetry, writers, love, laughter, dark 'n stormies, rain, green, water, food. I'm also already looking forward to unpacking all of our items from storage into the poets cottage--and I'm going to Loew's/Home Depot to finally start a garden! A mini herb/natural dye garden--maybe I'll start with mint, since that grows like a weed. Sad to say I killed my cactus when I went to California last month (totally forgot about it). RIP little one--my love is a desert filled with neglect.

When we were driving on the Cape to reach Ptown, there were a couple shops along the way that had HUGE displays of inflatable floating devices! Like: dragons, SWANS, sliced watermelon wheels, etc. I WAS SO MESMERIZED and really not-so-secretly wanted to stop so I could buy a HUGE swan. But I figured it would probably cost like $30 and plus, don't I have to earn the privilege of SWANNING the Atlantic Ocean first? Like by somehow saving a mermaid, cultivating a coral reef, kissing a frog, and raising natural foie gras like that one guy in Spain? I imagine it'd be like the LABOURS OF HERCULES, except Heracles was a short girl who looks exactly like Mowgli from The Jungle Book.

I'm hoping there's less mosquitoes here than in a jungle, but I saw one attack this Harvard senior at the BBQ dinner tonight and I ran away from the table/group/dinner, up to my own room--in the middle of a bunless burger bite. I think the staff/participants already have the perception that I'm very strange, so I hope tomorrow I can gain some group-assimilation/pack points. I don't want to be the weird girl! But I am weird. And was feeling so anxious about being surrounded only by strangers and there wasn't enough picnic tables to sit down at and I panicked! The fears of a child never leave you because they are the fears of homo sapiens since DAWN.

To keep in line with my strange/hermit like status, I'm holed up in my wonderful studio for the evening. Too tired to explore town or go to a drag show. I just wanted to bask in my first free moment in a long time--since I triple-booked myself for the summer and never let myself have a me-day. Needless to say, it's taken a toll, and I didn't realize I'd been holding my breath, running around--until I sat down here at this table.

I'm going to do a luxurious facial and bath and watch HBO until I fall asleep. OMG I didn't mention:

There is a framed canvas facsimile of one of the unicorns from the tapestries hanging above my kitchen sink! IT IS LIKE FATE KNEW I WOULD BE HERE. I refuse to believe that this unicorn is in all the apartments here.

And it's the unicorn pre-capture, so it looks like it's footloose and fancy-free, but we/I with dramatic irony know it'll soon be shivved in so many places, the least of which is in the ass.