Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Creative Nonfiction

I learned yesterday that my lyrical essay, "The Transfusion of Yukiyo Kanahashi," my piece about memory, dementia, nostalgia + love, written about the last seven days of my obāsan's life, was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Jennifer Derilo, the creative nonfiction editor at The Kartika Review.

Anyway, I know that thousands of people get nominated every year + only a select few actually win, but this makes me feel good.  Of course, I'd love it if the reading committee selected my essay for their anthology, but for the time being, I'm extremely grateful to have been nominated for such a prestigious prize.

Anyway, if you're interested in reading my pushcart-nominated lyrical essay (for bragging rights, posterity, sleep aid, escapism), you can find it in the 2012-2013 anthology of Asian Pacific Islander American Literature.

Dr. Now What?

So, a lot has happened in 2013.  I finished Dishonored . . .
I played the shit out of Borderlands 2 (including all 4 expansion packs--what a dork!).  Personally, I like the Siren.
I published a lyrical essay in the Kartika Review about the last days of my Japanese obāsan's life + her battle with dementia.
I finally received my contributor's copies of my short story that was published in Fiction International
I defeated the final boss in Final Fantasy XIII-2, which was fucking hard, man!
For the first time in my adult life, one of my two fave college football teams was ranked #1 in graduation rates + #1 in the BCS at the end of the regular season (before getting their ass kicked by Alabama).  The national championship game may not have been pretty, but I'm still crazy proud of ND for going 12-0 against four ranked teams.  I think this augurs well for Brian Kelly + Irish fans.
I saw the Chagall mural that literally changed my life as a Chicago teenager (+ also heard the Smiths playing in my head)
I experienced a real Winter for the first time in four fucking years.  Here's Zoe captivated (horrified) by Chicago's brutal wind chill
I flew back to LA for my thesis defense, hung out with some great friends + walked around Venice Beach (pictured)
I passed my thesis defense with flying colors (or so my committee chair said)
I turned 39, which really scared the fuck out of me, but at least both numbers are divisible by 3 (my fave number, dude)

I  finished my dissertation + became a doctor!

I finished playing Bioshock Infinite on both medium + hard levels (not 1999-I kept running out of $$$).  And maybe, just maybe, I had a small crush on  Elizabeth.  I also fucking loved the quantum mechanics narrative at the end, which was brilliant.

So yes, by all means, I've had a few seminal moments in my life since the beginning of 2013, some of them huge, others simply fun + self-defining.  But the problem with getting your PhD (if getting a PhD can be a problem) is that you go from have a clear-cut path for 4-6 years (4 in my case) with guaranteed funding, amazing conversations in + outside seminar + a sense of purpose, you get to vaporize a shitload of life-changing novels (which you can't really appreciate because you're reading them too fast), evolve intellectually, work with some of the best fiction writers + scholars in the whole damn world, live in a cool (+ totally unsustainable) city like LA + exist in a perfectly linear trajectory for all of grad school.

But now what?  I just went from one of the most pivotal moments in life ("I'm so awesome!") to being unemployed ("I'm so sad!).  I went from knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life to having no idea what I'm doing, from having enough cash to buy so many books + posthipster clothes my heart could almost burst, to being gradually poorer, from hoping for the best situation with academic jobs to considering the crappiest comp jobs you could imagine at the lowliest community colleges, just to get by.  It's something you don't wanna think about while you're pounding away on your dissertation because you can't even think straight when you have a soft deadline for your thesis defense + a hard deadline for submitting your dissertation to the Graduate School for formatting.  But once you're done with all that, you look around + you go:  fuck, now what do I do?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm an eternal optimist.  I believe in people.  I believe in myself.  I believe that good things will happen.  I could get a literary agent next week.  My second novel could be accepted for publication by an indie publisher next month.  My collection of short stories could be accepted for publication sometime in Autumn.  I could get an email for an interview for one of the many academic jobs I applied to, like tomorrow.   But the thing is, my life as an aspiring literary fiction writer + professor-to-be is one big contingency plan, a perpetual lesson in professional + existential uncertainty.  Things can work out.  I believe things will work out.  But right now, I have to say it kinda blows.

Lyrical Essay Published in Kartika Review

It's tough writing about your family, even tougher I think writing about your Japanese Grandmother when she was the heart + soul of your family as mine was.  Years after she passed away, I'm still trying to understand how much of my own cultural identity came from her, from our conversations, our meals + our holiday traditions, from her stories of Japan + of our Japanese family in Tokyo + Osaka.  After taking a class on war + memory with Viet Nguyen at USC during my early PhD years, Viet allowed me to write a lyrical essay instead of an analytical one for our final paper, which was an amazing blessing.  After a lot of intermittent revision over two years + more recently with the CNF editor at Kartika Review, Jennifer Derilo (who I respect/adore), my lyrical essay "The Transfusion of Yukiyo Kanahashi" is now live.  In many ways, it's heartbreaking + raw + honest + powerful.  But my hope is that this essay will keep her memory alive while also providing me (+ the reader) the space to take apart our own preconceptions about our selves while celebrating the erosion of memory + even life.  I make no bold claims about this essay except that it helped me celebrate my sobo's life + the Japanese ancestry in our family while also giving me the cultural + emotional space to finally let go of her + share my imperfect memory of her with the world (reader).  If you wanna buy a black and white hardcopy of issue 15, go here.  If you don't have funds to drop, you can also read my essay on line here.

1st Piece Accepted in 2013

After a rigorous (+ very helpful) revision dialogue with Jennifer Derilo, the very sharp, very smart + very detail-oriented Creative Nonfiction editor, I'm proud to announce that my lyrical essay "The Transfusion of Yukiyo Kanahashi" will be published in the upcoming issue of the Kartika Review.  This lyrical essay is part personal narrative, part memory + neuroscience critique, + part metamemoir.  It's a non-linear work about the last week of my sobo's life (my Japanese grandmother's), intertwined with political, cultural, nostalgic + speculative narrative strands.  It's a beautiful + heartbreaking + language-driven + emotionally raw piece, + needs to be shared with the world I think. I honestly can't think of a more culturally important journal to publish an essay about my sobo's life than in the Kartika Review.   I'll keep you posted.