A quick list of what I've been up to lately

Photo by Liz Weston
College or more specifically midterms
These past few weeks required at least two big writing projects, five exams, and me procrastinating on working on it till at least two nights before it was due.

Adjusting to this unregular, kind of wacky sleep schedule
I tend to get about five hours of sleep at night and then try to sleep in for another ten minutes. This wouldn't happen if I didn't procrastinate on my homework.

Helping out with various club events
Whether it's the undergrad literary magazine, a high school conference, or a Vietnamese New Year event, I'm usually helping out in some way.

Planning for upcoming trips
This year I'm going to Phoenix, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; and next year, if all goes according to plan, Vietnam.

Helping out with the Stay Bookish Zine
Stay Bookish Zine is this new YA literature e-magazine that's coming out on March 20 of this year. It's going to feature various book lovers; why a certain hyped up book deserve its hype; YA quotes; bookstores around the world; and more. It's been an amazing process from coming up with ideas to finalizing the little details. It also made me learn a lot about teamwork, time zones, and the importance of formats.

And now the weather:

~ Stacy N.
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Mini Reviews: January Edition

After two years of not writing a mini book review, I've decided to get back into it now because I miss writing them. So without further ado here's the extremely short list of what I read in January.

The Book with No Pictures
by B.J. Novak
A book with no pictures?
What could be fun about that?
After all, if a book has no pictures, there's nothing to look at but the words on the page.
Words that might make you say silly sounds... In ridiculous voices...
Hey, what kind of book is this, anyway?
At once disarmingly simple and ingeniously imaginative, The Book With No Pictures inspires laughter every time it is opened, creating a warm and joyous experience to share--and introducing young children to the powerful idea that the written word can be an unending source of mischief and delight.

Thoughts: A cute book to read to your kids or for fun so they could discover the power that words can make without the help of images. Also, Braaaap is a fun word to say in your head or out loud, just saying.
Rating 4/5

by Celeste Ng
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.
When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

Thoughts: Honestly, one of the best books that I've read this year. It's been a while since a book made me want to sit down and just read and read and read. It also helped that it was relatable to a certain extent, that no matter what you're going to be seen as a perpetual foreigner to others even though I lived in the United States my whole life. Plus, there's a very tiny cute fluffy gay boys scene (that takes a lot of extrapolating) and space is mentioned.
Rating: 4/5

The Gangster We Are All Looking For 
by Thi Diem Thúy Lê
This acclaimed novel reveals the life of a Vietnamese family in America through the knowing eyes of a child finding her place and voice in a new country.
In 1978 six refugees—a girl, her father, and four “uncles”—are pulled from the sea to begin a new life in San Diego. In the child’s imagination, the world is transmuted into an unearthly realm: she sees everything intensely, hears the distress calls of inanimate objects, and waits for her mother to join her. But life loses none of its strangeness when the family is reunited. As the girl grows, her matter-of-fact innocence eddies increasingly around opaque and ghostly traumas: the cataclysm that engulfed her homeland, the memory of a brother who drowned and, most inescapable, her father’s hopeless rage.

Thoughts: I couldn't help but continually think about my own family history while reading about this. How the Vietnam War messed everyone up even those in the future generations (like my siblings and me). Apparently, trauma could be generational and looking at the unnamed narrator and my own family it's true.
Rating: 3/5

And now the weather:
Eyes Nose Lips by David So and Z. Woods
~ Stacy N.
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Women's March SLC style

A month ago, I ended up at the Women's March in Salt Lake by accident. I was supposed to go back to my Vietnamese class but I ended up getting lost and swept in with the crowd. Plus, if I did decide to go back to campus, it would have been too late anyway. So as a spontaneous decision, I decided to join in on the march.

There were over six to ten thousand people marching that day. All of us heading in the same direction, the Capitol building at the top of State Street. It was interesting, weird, joyous, and worrying. I loved all the signs that were up like "I stand with my sisters, not just cis-ters," "If your feminism isn't intersectional it isn't feminism," "I stand with Planned Parenthood" and others. It was also comforting to know how much support there was about our hatred against injustice and the Trump administration. That no matter what, people were and are standing up and opposing the injustice this administration is bringing and the injustice that has always been out there regardless of who's the president.

What I loved about this march, in particular, was that it was organized by a woman of color named, Noor Ul-Hassan, who was a representative for Utah Women Unite. A group that "exists to protect and advance the rights of all Utah women and girls. This specifically includes Utahns from marginalized groups, including women of color, LGTBQIA+ individuals, women of all abilities and socioeconomic statuses" (Utah Women Unite). So from the start, this march's focus was going to be on intersectionality. Even though most women there probably can't identify because they're white and/or straight and/or able-bodied and/or middle class. But this march was important for people like me, in terms of knowing that even though we don't fit the white, straight, cis, able-bodied male model, that we still belong in the fight against injustice, that we still have a voice about what goes on in our future.

Utah Women Unite being who they are also got a lot of diverse speakers. However, it was hard to hear them or see them because I was on the third floor amidst other people trying to listen but mainly just taking pictures to prove that they were there that they do care about social justice or pretend that they genuinely care. That made me feel weird. It also made me wonder how many thought that the whole event was just "cool" or "trendy" and how many others will actually continue fighting against social injustice or just continue to stay silent when they see it happening.

It also felt a bit lonely standing among everyone and this quote by Angela Peoples explains it best.
Angela Peoples holding sign (Kevin Banatte)
"I know that a lot of the organizers, particularly of the D.C. march, did a lot of work to make sure that the speakers were diverse, that the issue points reflected black folks’ experiences; but there’s also this reality that when we talk about feminism in this country, the faces have been white. Without an effort by white women especially to make sure those spaces are reflecting the diversity of women and femme people, we’re not going to make the progress we need to."

So please, engage in social justice by donating to worthy causes, vote in every single election, keep up to date with what's happening in your community, call your representatives, email them, march, speak up when you see acts of injustice, and realize that feminism is more about gender. It's an intersectional movement that seeks to create equity for everyone involved. Also, realize your privilege. There were of course police at the march and they did not make any arrests because of the number of white people who were there. And also because white people aren't normally the target of violence by the hands of police.
As hazel scott said it best:

In other words, please be aware of your privilege and somehow use it to your advantage so you could push back against inequality but at the same time know when to stand aside and let the voiceless have a voice.

The women's march isn't just for women, it's also for everybody else whose voice hasn't been heard by the people who's supposed to represent us. It's also for people of color, disabled people, gender queer, trans, LGBTQIAP+, those who doesn't practice the Christian faith, the poor, and more. Please don't forgot that we also have a voice, one that's just as tired of all the injustices that continually happen around us and to us.
source: my instagram page
Note: Any pictures that I took of the march, I had to take on my blurry camera phone because I forgot to carry my camera with me that day.

And now the weather:
Rise Up by Andra Day
~ Stacy N.
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A movie review? Kubo and the Two Strings

source: Kubo and the Two Strings wikipedia
  • The art and the stop motion, in general, is amazing.
  • Plot-wise it makes sense and I honestly do like the story it tells.
  • It was pretty easy to figure out the plot twist concerning the parents (being an English major, you soon learn to notice the little hints a bit more easily.)
  • But I felt conflicted because the movie was made by white people from the voice actors (the few Asian voice actors voiced secondary characters) to the director and the writers. So it’s technically not a Japanese or an Asian-made film but more a film made by white people telling a story within a Japanese culture (kind of like Big Hero 6).
  • It’s clear in some parts that the movie was made by white people. One example would be when Kubo was slurping the whale soup and the monkey was disgusted by it. Traditionally, slurping is good in Japan because that meant that the person eating/drinking the food really likes it. In other words, slurping is a compliment in Japanese culture. Another example would be the pointing two fingers at your eyes and then pointing it at someone else to indicate suspicion feels more like an American thing than a Japanese thing.
  • It’s great that there is a movie about Japanese culture that clearly had its research done and it doesn’t feel offensive either. However, it feels like those kind of movies and any other movies that have Asians in it could only make it to the big screen if white people worked on it. If Asian people worked on it, it would have been much harder for it to be shown in America and have as much advertising done for it as it did then.
  • Yes, representation matters on screen and it will help many Asians learn that they’re more than a stereotype like a warrior, a sex object, or a nerd. However, representation also matters behind the screen. It lets us know that we also have a voice to tell our story that’s true to us.
And now the weather:
~ Stacy N.
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Valor lies just halfway between rashness and cowardice.

Photo by Janko Ferlic
It's been a few weeks since classes started and it's actually not that bad this semester because it seems like I have a lot more time. And that is because I have a more or less similar schedule Mondays through Thursdays. On those days, I have a 9:10 AM class and another class starting around 12 PM, with an hour and a half-ish break in between those classes. And that break usually includes eating lunch from one of the food trucks (which isn't that great on my budget), doing homework, napping, driving back to the campus, or trying to get through my online anthropology class. After classes are over, it's either more homework (aka actually trying to get through anthropology), work, going to some sort of club meeting, napping, or procrastinating. And then I make it back home, sweet home, somehow surviving Utah's kind of weird winter (it's very snowy this year yet still warm in some aspects, complete with lots of bad air >-<.) Fridays, as usual, are my day off but I always somehow end up on campus again because of more club meetings and some kind of socializing event with my friends afterwards, which mainly includes getting boba.

ANTH 1020: Human Origins: Evolution and Diversity: An interesting class so far. I've been thinking about anthropology in new ways that I didn't think of before because frankly, I wasn't interested in the subject. But this class is forcing me to think of all the different variances of anthropology, especially in physical anthropology. And honestly, the only reason why I'm taking this class is because I need it for one of my general education requirements. Also, since the class is online, it's interesting to see the lectures in a video format instead of a PDF format that I'm used to by now.

BUS 1050: Foundations of Business: This is an important class that I need for my business minor, but it's also a slightly uncomfortable class to be in because the teacher continually emphasizes his white male privilege. An example would be, "He or she gets too long, let's just assume that it has a male identity and just call him a he" (or something along those lines.) (Funny thing is, he always goes back to saying he or she the next day). But, I'm not dropping out because it's too late for that, and in order to grow I need to be around others who have a different mindset from mine, so... It is interesting to see how he incorporates the fine arts into business, in the hopes of making us a more well rounded person who sees the humanity in others, and hopefully avoid the route of corporate scandal.

ENGL 5810: Writers in the Schools: By now it has become obvious that I like volunteering with people younger than me because they're fun to be around. It's also a good trial as to who I might become whenever or if I decide to become a parent. This time I'm teaching and in a way help cultivate a love of creative writing to seventh and eighth graders at a nearby middle school (or at least try to do that). It' also a bit weird because I'm only with four specific students all semester, so I'm really taking on the role of mentor. And honestly, it's a bit relieving because I don't have to focus on ten students at a time and worry about whether or not I'm displaying favoritism.

ENGL 5830: Studies in Asian American Literature: This is one of my favorite classes this semester because it's actually taught by an Asian American professor with a bit of a social justice lens (it's also an Ethnic studies course). It's nice to know that I'm not alone in feeling like other, like a [explicit word that I decide to censor this time] token minority. Though it's hard because it looks like most of the class is white (that's Utah for you), so trying to get them to see how white culture is dominant and how trying to fit in and in a way pretend to be white is continually tiring, gets well tiring. It's also nice to read more books about Asian Americans that doesn't focus predominately on the immigrant experience. Instead, I think it's trying to focus on the diversity among Asian Americans and how race continually defines our experience in life.

VIET 2020: Intermediate Vietnamese II: Ahh! I'm so close to finishing the language part of my B.A. (Bachelor of Arts). This semester is a bit weird though because the original teacher who taught my other three Vietnamese courses decided to only teach the 1020 students this semester (I think because of his other work schedule getting in the way). So, his wife is now teaching my class. She was supposed to also have taught my class last semester too but she didn't because who knows. It's interesting because she doesn't speak Vietnamese the proper way like her husband does, instead she says it in a Northern accent. And for me coming from a family who's predominately Southern, it's a bit hard to understand her accent. However, I'm trying and that's all that matters.

Other events that has happened this semester:
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates came to talk at my college for our annual MLK Jr. week. Unfortunately, I was unable to see him live because I forgot to grab myself a ticket. Fortunately enough, my university always live stream big talks like this one, so I was able to still see him talk. In this particular keynote, he points out the fact that the United States was built on the violence of black people and how it still enacts that violence, albeit in different ways, today. And how systemic racism is. He doesn't offer a solution as to how to stop it, but I think he's already offering a solution. Education. Just educate people about it and then hopefully they're inspired enough to help stop it within the systems. Which will take a while, but it's a worthy cause to fight against, in my opinion.  Also, educate people because you actually want to, not because you're forced to.
  • Women's March, Salt Lake City version. An interesting event that I'm glad that I got to attend, more of my thoughts on it later in a different blog post.
  • Getting free tickets to go see a Sundance film from one of the lovely college advisers who's also into social justice all because I happened to be in the right place at the right time. The film was God's Own Country, and the very basic gist of it is  two gay farmers who don't die in the end. It's a sweet film and kind of sad in some parts but you should definitely watch it, if you get the chance (just be aware that there are a few sex scenes and a lot of moaning.)

Note: The quote in today's title is from Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
And now the weather:
I Don't Know My Name by Grace VanderWaal

Oh I don't know my name because I'm really, really tired from staying up at four in the morning trying to finish this essay. (Even though I haven't gotten any essays assigned just yet.)
~ Stacy N.
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