PEN Canada and Bare it for Books

GOT A GREAT REVIEW TODAY, FROM ANDREA HALL OF THE CBC, AKA ANDIE@CLAIRE, AKA THE BIFB SIDE PROJECT. She writes, "Yasuko Thanh's first story made we weep alone on a GO train..."  


I POSED NUDE IN SUPPORT OF PEN BECAUSE WHO CAN SAY NO TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH? BESIDES, I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A CLOSET (AND NOT SO CLOSET) NUDIST. WHEN I LIVED IN VANCOUVER, NOTHING WAS BETTER THAN WRECK BEACH DAYS, AND EATING FALAFELS WITH NO CLOTHES ON. OR CAESAR SALAD BAGELS AND Drinking KOKANEES. I WONDER IF THE CAESAR SALAD GUY IS STILL DOWN THERE SELLING HIS FOOD. 

Here's part of the Photo that appeared in the calendar (which you can still buy, by the way, in support of PEN. What are you waiting for?).














Real History



 

I have a book, the working title is Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains, coming out with Penguin’s Hamish Hamilton imprint. In my book there’s a character named Chang. In real life, my great-uncle was a dapper man who made and lost his fortune twice before dying at ninety-five years old. When the French left Vietnam in 1954, he was running a successful business shipping medicine all over Indochina from his home base in Saigon. When I say successful, I mean successful. As in two DeSotos automobiles existed in all of Vietnam: the emperor owned one, and my great uncle owned the other. This despite the fact that he had never set foot inside a school room, had been hustling for a living since he was six years-old, and learned everything he knew from the streets and the inside of train stations.

            In the book, Georges-Minh drives a Panhard Levassar, something he shares in common with Lt. Colonel Janvier. But Georges-Minh resents his family’s wealth in a way my great-uncle never did, because my great-uncle never had the early luxury of knowing what it felt like to go without, as his wife-to-be tells him early on in their relationship.

 

 

Dong believed that because he had never been poor, had never had to share what little he had, he could feel nothing but glee at the prospect of sharing.  Which, she reminded him, was different from being actually poor and forced to share half of nothing.  She was not reprimanding him.  She spoke with tenderness, and the pleasure that one person experiences when beginning to understand the soul of another. But, she had never really been poor either, she made a point of telling him.  Her father, born a peasant farmer, had gone on to pass the triennial mandarin examination and had become a judge.  “So what do either one of us know?” she ribbed him, including herself in the fun she was poking.

“I don’t mean to be harsh,” she said, “but isn’t it shallow to confuse poverty with self-worth? Just as it’s equally shallow to call a poor man a sinner and a rich man a saint simply because they are rich or poor?”  Naturally, stated this way, the value judgement seemed ridiculous.” Anyway, what stops you from selling all this junk and just living the life you want to live?” 

Georges-Minh, wanting so badly to justify himself and seem worthy in her eyes, said, “We’re plotting you know.”  The words slipped out before he’d had a chance to stop them.  The next thing he knew he was telling her all about their group. Dartura stramonium.  The French garrison.

 

 

Georges-Minh also has a little of my grandmother’s brother, Anh Hai, in him.

            Anh Hai was the son of the Governor of Cochinchina, and though publically his family supported the French, he personally supported a democratic and free, independent Vietnam.  He gave his money and his land to the Viet Minh, like Khieu, Georges-Minh’s partner in crime.

Anh Hai he did what he thought was right and paid the price later, after the revolution, when, as an intellectual, he saw the results of what had turned from “freedom” into a regime of repression. With no liberty to think or create according to one’s will, at the cost of his life, he thought, I’ve got to try and get out.  So he and his wife decided to escape with their children by sea, to Malaysia, then to North America, along with thousands of others, who, between the years of 1975-1995, would grow to number 800,000 and later become known as the “boat people.” But circumstances forced Anh Hai and his wife to flee at separate times. He went ahead with two of his daughters and his wife would follow.

He made it out.

His wife’s boat was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Thailand and she was lost at sea.


(Photos to come.) 














We caught the ferry from Victoria, my husband and I, to go to the Robson Reading Series. A mini-vacation away from the kids. It was early afternoon by the time we checked into the hotel. Apart from being walking distance from where I would read, the hotel was the setting of a picture book I’d picked up in a thrift store. Part of why I’d wanted to stay there was so I could say to the desk clerk, “Did you know the Sylvia Hotel is famous?” But they had copies for sale, so I had never had a chance to tell anyone at the hotel about my “discovery” that I thought was mine alone. Not only that, the desk clerk looked at my husband’s muddy gumboots and tsked. Maybe my disappointment at Mister Got to Go: The Cat that Wouldn’t Leave and my coming down with a cold manufactured his disapproval.

The night I met my fellow readers the cold came on strong and I was too sick to go out for post-reading libations. We retired to our gorgeous room and before leaving the next morning I bought the sequel, Mr. Got to Go and Arnie













I was recently honoured to be asked to judge Malahat’s Open Season fiction contest. What an ego trip. Imagine: maybe I could pick some unknown writer who, years later, would be at a podium, saying, “If not for that Malahat Prize giving me the inspiration to go on, I don’t know where I’d be.” What teacher/mentor/editor/etc. doesn’t harbour this secret desire?

After the honour wore off, I thought about the task. Worried more like. Who was I to judge? After I read the entries, the worry escalated into full-blown moral dilemma. I wasn’t qualified, should beg out. Then an ethical one. Who was anyone to judge? What place did contests have in the art world anyway? Who did we think we were, to pit peer against peer? I had my scruples, I mustn’t do this. (Hal Wake, am I using the words correctly?)

I reread the entries. Which one was “best?” I knew which one I liked best -- this was not the same thing. What qualified me to judge, not in a rhetorical way? I was a writer. Maybe, the assumption was because I wrote stories, I could judge stories, or because I wrote stories, I understood stories. What made them tick. Hell, no. That’s like saying because you work in a bomb factory you know how to disarm one. A famous writer whose name I don’t remember once said in an interview they expressed the deepest problems of literature to themselves like this, “I put the thingamabob before the thingamagig” or something like that.  I can so relate. My deepest fear is that everyone will know I have no clue what I’m doing yet judging contests exposes my aesthetic sensibilities for public examination.  

Malahat volunteer Molly McFaul interviewed me prior to the contest to ask me what I was looking for in a winning story. Apart from the fact that they took the first part of my answer and made it look like their interview question it’s a fair take how I feel about the mysterious “something or other”, what Geoff Hancock referred to as “Alchemy and Opening the Mail.”

 

 

Looking for Writing Without a Veil: 
Molly McFaul in Conversation with Yasuko Thanh

Yasuko Thanh

Malahat volunteer Molly McFaul talks with Yasuko Thanh, the judge of our2014 Open Season Award for Fiction.

Geoff Hancock, former editor of the now-defunct Canadian Fiction Magazine, wrote an essay called “Alchemy and Opening the Mail.” The gist: he knew a great piece of writing when it hit him.  Most rules of writing centre around what not to do.  What to leave out, like “ings” and filters.  Rules might help bad writing become good writing. What defines a piece of great writing?

What I’m looking for has to do with heart. Great writing writes without a veil.  It reaches inside and asks “Are you honest of each word?”  It crosses out every one lie on the page. I’m talking diction.  Subject matter.  Moral stance.  Syntax.  To do otherwise, to write looking over our shoulder, is, I think, to write with what American author and instructor John Gardner referred to as a kind of frigidity.  

Next to my kitchen table where I write, I have a piece of paper tacked up on a cork board.  It says, “All chips in,” in red ink. It means to write holding nothing back.  Think of running a race.  Saving a friend.  Having five minutes left to live.  I try to write the kind of story I want to read. Not writing what others want to hear.  Or writing what a judge wants to read.  Seriously, what does she know?  (And, yes, I’m mocking myself, here.)

The author of a winning story has written what he or she knows to be true, a phrase Bill Gaston often tells his students. Write what the story needs.  Write what soundsright rhythmically to the sentence, and also because emotion carries its own rhythm.  Write what your character tells you, because you know this character.  Most bad writing is about fear. 

When I look back at the progression of my work, starting with journals, through to my submissions to lit mags, onto my university studies, and beyond, I can see my journey from bad writing to better writing to okay writing.  Great writing doesn’t follow a don’t-do list.  It has heart and appeals to the senses and loves language and most of all, isn’t scared.  When you ask me what I am looking for, it’s the same thing as asking me what great writing is or what it is I try to accomplish (mostly unsuccessfully) every time I sit down to write.

What is your view of writing contests in general? What is their importance, or lack thereof?

Contests.  As a way for writers to practice the art of cultivating a thick skin, they’re not bad.  Writers do better in the world if their relationship to their work is solid and not swayed too much by winning or losing contests.  Which isn’t to say don’t enter them, or eschew sending work to literary magazines or trying to get agents or book deals, or grants.  Submitting one’s work is part of the game if one wants make a living writing.  However, separating one’s self-worth from the work can be difficult.

The Journey Prize appears to have changed your life, very much for the better. If you could recommend one thing to aspiring writers submitting their work with crossed fingers, what would it be?

To view a win in terms of its strategic value, but nothing more.  After all, if a loss says nothing negative about your work, then, conversely, how can a win say something great?  Aim for balance, and always be thankful for what you have.

At what point in your life did you become aware that writing was something you loved to do and could also do extremely well? What inspired you to pursue it as a career?

I grew up writing.  I have journals going back to the time I could print, and even before that, when I misspelled words like cat.  I became inspired to pursue it as a career when I had a brush with mortality.  You figure out what you want to do and you do it with all your might.  Wanting to write was the no-brainer.  Buying time to do it has always been the trickier part of the equation.  But the day I become aware that writing is something I can do extremely well, I’ll let you know.

“Floating Like The Dead”, your sensational collection of short stories, has been incredibly well-received by the literary population. Short stories are often a form that isn’t widely popular. Do you prefer writing in this form more so than a novel or other types of fiction?

I wish they sold better.  I love the short story form and the way they seem akin to the poem in the sense that you bring a focused kind of reading attention to the line.  I was chatting with a writer the other day, who is both a prize-winning novelist and short story writer.  I’ve been trying to write a novel and I was explaining to her my initial struggle in switching to the longer form.  “I thought the novel would essentially be just a longer short story,” I told her.  She told me she thought the novel had more in common with the screenplay.  Its form is essentially dramaturgical.  And that’s when I realised why I’d been having so many structural difficulties with my new project.  
The poem and the short story are cousins and the screenplay and the novel are cousins and I’d like to write poems, novels, more short stories, and children’s books.

 




PUBLICITY QUESTIONNAIRES FOR WRITERS:
EARNEST OR NOT TO BE  

​A couple of years ago, I was asked to fill out The Proust Questionnaire for the Vancouver International Writers Festival. Being young to the Writer’s Game I answered earnestly. My heartfelt honesty and soul make me want to gag now, trade my “What is your deepest desire?” answers for “French fries” or some such imbued with dry wit. Live and learn. The same evening, I gave a reading.  Many writerly events, I’ve learned, pre-emptively send out a “Tips for Authors” sheet. For example: When presenting for twenty minutes, don’t read for twenty minutes straight kind-of-thing tip sheet. Perhaps my Tips for Authors sheet got lost in the virtual mail or a like thing of the sort. I don’t know. In any case, I read for a sombre who-knows-how-long story about an elderly couple who kill themselves before another author got up on stage after me, who spent his time cracking jokes and telling stories about his writing before reading. Will Ferguson, who went on to win the Giller that year for 419.  Ah. That’s how it’s done.  

​    
​The Proust Questionnaire: Yasuko Thanh

The Proust Questionnaire is believed to reveal an individual’s true nature. We have asked Incite authors 17 questions inspired by the questionnaire in an attempt to uncover who they are...



What is your idea of perfect happiness?   “Perfect happiness?”  Shoes that fit, happy children, being in love. On the other hand, creatively speaking, one must never be “perfectly happy” …with anything. But knowing when to move on is good. 


​What does your ideal day look like? 
  I read somewhere that Picasso’s days were like this: sleeping till noon, spending the day at the beach with his kids, having a late supper, and working all night. And I thought, “I could get into that.” It’s not practical right now, but my family and I do spend a lot of time at the beach in the summer. 

What is your greatest extravagance?   I don’t have many. Quitting drinking and smoking saves lots of money. My one extravagance: my husband and I will nurse an expensive soda water or cup of coffee at the Bengal Lounge in the Empress Hotel, because they have a jazz band you can listen to with no cover charge on weekends.  

​What possession would you be heartbroken if you lost?  
I try to be Buddhist about things: I’ve started over with the shirt on my back more than a few times. There’s this proverb I heard, “In the course of a long life, a man must be prepared to lose his luggage many times.” In a way, there’s a liberating side to losing things. 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?   I’m really not very sympathetic. I want to fix everything, and if it’s beyond repair I will pretty quickly leave it by the side of the road. I’ve also been told I think too much, going over a thing that happened for days from different angles. 


​What childhood fear has followed you into adulthood?  
That someone/something will steal the people I love.

Do you take comfort in darkness or light?    I take comfort in my family, the ocean, poetry, music. I think that it’s from darkness that light comes, or, as Camus said, our majesty comes from the confrontation of our own mortality. Like a man with a knife fighting his way out of a barrage of machine guns -- that which we cannot conquer, but never giving up. 

Do you remember your dreams?   These days I have a recurrent dream set in a tenement house. I’m always trying to find my room in the building, or make money to pay my rent. 

How do you collect snippets of observations and ideas that come to you unexpectedly?   In a little book with a spiral binder. If I have no paper, I write on the back of my hand. If I have no pen, I repeat a key word or phrase, which is usually is enough until I get to a pen and paper. 

What emotions do you experience when you sit down to begin a new work?   It’s the feeling you get before the race, right before the gun goes off at the starting line. I’m totally pumped with this sort of all or nothing feeling. But then, you find a stride, and the adrenaline initially coursing through your veins is what gives you what you need for the long haul. 

What is your favorite way to avoid writing?   Research. Cleaning the house. Until the act of avoidance becomes unbearable and I start writing, whether or not I am actually prepared. But writing-avoidance is, in a way, a luxury afforded by time. After having kids, I no longer had the freedom to wait until inspiration hit. The baby starts napping and then you hit the “go” button, whether it feels right, or you want to or not, or are tired or not. It doesn’t always feel natural, but I can still discipline myself this way.  
 
​Does being in love propel or postpone your work?  
I think it was Sherri D-Wilson who put it best; she said any relationship is worth two good poems – one at the start, one at the end. For me, any strong emotion is a good starting place, though it’s raw stuff that may not make it into a final, polished piece of work. 

How do you work under pressure?   Up to the point of implosion, pretty well. Sometimes I take on too much. All writing-moms work under pressure. Now my kids are older, so the pressure is of a different type, but the family/work balance thing is still there. 

What published book do you secretly wish you had written?   Song of Solomon by Toni Morrisson. 

Which historical figure do you most identify with?   Hmmm.  Stories about pioneer women inspire me to set the bar higher. Women I imagine who raised twenty kids and looked after a farm while their men were away and wrote journals interspersed with recipes for how to pickle eighteen pecks of peppers.  

​   If you were reincarnated as a person or a thing, who or what would you be?   My seven-year-old daughter suggested one night at bedtime, that wouldn’t it be wonderful if, “When we get old, maybe we could just start again as babies?”  She meant as ourselves, living our same life over. Maybe I’d do that?

Tell us one thing you can’t prove but believe is true.   The fates can be tempted.  I don’t boast my happiness or moan my troubles. The fates always listen. The universe gives you what you ask for, but not always the way you expect.  Complaining about work might get you fired. Or, if you’re feeling smug about your perfect life, the universe will find a way to humble you, as a cure for self-righteousness. I think I have a lucky star -- but I won’t say it too loudly, and tempt the fates.




Magical thinking:

my year of The Guinea Pig

When Chad Pelley ran his super "spotlight on fresh Canadian fiction and poetry" called Salty Ink he asked me to do a Pitch and Plug. Pitch a book, plug mine. I pitched two because I couldn't decide, plugged Floating Like the Dead, and leaked a little secret without realising it. In doing so, I saw what I hadn't before. A strange quirk of mine might indeed be a strange quirk -- I'd never looked at it that way -- it was only a comment in the comment section later that inspired me to view myself with fresh eyes; and second, this quirk had its own name: "magical thinking." This made it, like, a potential phenomena. Like, "a thing," like, something "people had."  These days we've got two gerbils and a new hamster. She's an albino and very furry.


Here's the link:


http://saltyink.com/2012/09/12/pitch-and-plug-with-journey-prize-winner-yasuko-thanh-2/


Here's the content:


Yasuko Thanh won the 2009 Journey Prize. The Journey Prize is a whopping award for the best short story published every year in Canada, and ensures much buzz around the collection in which it’ll appear. As of the spring, it’s here: Floating Like the Dead. Her fiction has appeared in several journals, and she’s been a finalist for awards such as the Future Generations Millennium Prize, the Hudson Prize, and the David Adams Richards Prize. 

As the backcover promises, Floating Like the Dead is a “sharply observed and erotically charged debut collection,” that ” immerses us in the lives of people on the knife edge of desire and regret, hungry for change.” Have a look at this page and tell me you’re not a little interested?
​Yasuko Thanh writes with a tiger’s eye for detail, her sentences haunt, images flash like lightning. She is a major talent.  — Wayson Choy

​1A.) Pitch Your Book to a Potential Reader
​According to the publisher it’s about people on the knife edge of desire and regret who are yearning for a place to call home. It’s true: they travel with no money, no return ticket, sometimes even with a bank robber. They fall in love with cheating hearts or dying ones; they live in prisons, real or made up. My daughters say everything I write is depressing and why can’t you come up with a happy ending? But I think I do. I hope that each of my stories, while not shying away from hard subject matters, leave readers with a base note of hope and renewed desire to fully engage with life.

1B.) Share a Random Fact with Us, about Your Book
I have the feeling, sometimes, when I’m writing that my writing causes events to happen. Mumbo jumbo? Weird coincidences, maybe, but they’ve popped-up enough times to make me think twice about addressing certain material. I still sorta-kinda believe I killed my daughter’s guinea pig. I also divined my future husband before we met. I won’t touch the death of a kid with a ten-foot pole, and I had serious doubts about writing “His Lover’s Ghost,” the last story in the collection, because I set it in a Gastown studio just like the one my brother and his partner were living in at the time. And I made it haunted, to boot, just like theirs was. Because I didn’t want anyone to fall ill like the story’s protagonist — I put in a safety. What’s more I think it worked on a story level, too. (And if people don’t recognise the fail-safe as such, so much the better.)

​2.) Plug a Book by a Female Canadian Writer That You’d Recommend
​A toss-up between Bad Imaginings by Caroline Adderson and Can You Wave Bye-Bye, Baby? by Elyse Gasco.

​Adderson can shape-shift and time-travel like nobody’s business. Gasco has a rusty tin can-sharp wit that you could mug people with in an alley if you wanted to. But mostly she delivers these quick jabs that do what the best words were designed to do, hit you in the heart. Their short story collections are lyrical and poetic. With characters that get under your skin. Years later, they’re still alive in me.


Chad Pelley is an author, songwriter, and photographer from St. John’s. His work has been recognized by more than10 literary awards. His debut novel, Away from Everywhere, was a Coles bestseller, has been adopted by university English courses, and a film adaptation is underway. His second novel, Every Little Thing, was released in March of 2013, and its reception has made him a giddy little fool. His short fiction has won several awards and appeared in journals, textbooks, and anthologies. His book of short stories, Four Letter Words, is forthcoming. He's at work on a third novel that he's really quite excited about.

2 Responses to Pitch and Plug, with Journey Prize Winner, Yasuko Thanh

Bobbi says:13 September, 2012 at 11:16 am
Oh I love the magical thinking here, that her writing causes things to happen. Very interesting concept that.

​Reply Chad Pelley says:13 September, 2012 at 12:28 pm
Yeah, I laughed at the daughter’s guinea pig bit (not that the poor thing died, but that a poor mother had to fret over possible voodoo guilt!), I can see it being eerie for sure!




PUBLICITY QUESTIONNAIRES FOR WRITERS:
EARNEST OR NOT TO BE  

​A couple of years ago, I was asked to fill out The Proust Questionnaire for the Vancouver International Writers Festival. Being young to the Writer’s Game I answered earnestly. My heartfelt honesty and soul make me want to gag now, trade my “What is your deepest desire?” answers for “French fries” or some such imbued with dry wit. Live and learn. The same evening, I gave a reading.  Many writerly events, I’ve learned, pre-emptively send out a “Tips for Authors” sheet. For example: When presenting for twenty minutes, don’t read for twenty minutes straight kind-of-thing tip sheet. Perhaps my Tips for Authors sheet got lost in the virtual mail or a like thing of the sort. I don’t know. In any case, I read for a sombre who-knows-how-long story about an elderly couple who kill themselves before another author got up on stage after me, who spent his time cracking jokes and telling stories about his writing before reading. Will Ferguson, who went on to win the Governor General’s Award that year for 419.  Ah. That’s how it’s done.  

​    
​The Proust Questionnaire: Yasuko Thanh

The Proust Questionnaire is believed to reveal an individual’s true nature. We have asked Incite authors 17 questions inspired by the questionnaire in an attempt to uncover who they are...



What is your idea of perfect happiness?   “Perfect happiness?”  Shoes that fit, happy children, being in love. On the other hand, creatively speaking, one must never be “perfectly happy” …with anything. But knowing when to move on is good. 


​What does your ideal day look like? 
  I read somewhere that Picasso’s days were like this: sleeping till noon, spending the day at the beach with his kids, having a late supper, and working all night. And I thought, “I could get into that.” It’s not practical right now, but my family and I do spend a lot of time at the beach in the summer. 

What is your greatest extravagance?   I don’t have many. Quitting drinking and smoking saves lots of money. My one extravagance: my husband and I will nurse an expensive soda water or cup of coffee at the Bengal Lounge in the Empress Hotel, because they have a jazz band you can listen to with no cover charge on weekends.  

​What possession would you be heartbroken if you lost?  
I try to be Buddhist about things: I’ve started over with the shirt on my back more than a few times. There’s this proverb I heard, “In the course of a long life, a man must be prepared to lose his luggage many times.” In a way, there’s a liberating side to losing things. 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?   I’m really not very sympathetic. I want to fix everything, and if it’s beyond repair I will pretty quickly leave it by the side of the road. I’ve also been told I think too much, going over a thing that happened for days from different angles. 


​What childhood fear has followed you into adulthood?  
That someone/something will steal the people I love.

Do you take comfort in darkness or light?    I take comfort in my family, the ocean, poetry, music. I think that it’s from darkness that light comes, or, as Camus said, our majesty comes from the confrontation of our own mortality. Like a man with a knife fighting his way out of a barrage of machine guns -- that which we cannot conquer, but never giving up. 

Do you remember your dreams?   These days I have a recurrent dream set in a tenement house. I’m always trying to find my room in the building, or make money to pay my rent. 

How do you collect snippets of observations and ideas that come to you unexpectedly?   In a little book with a spiral binder. If I have no paper, I write on the back of my hand. If I have no pen, I repeat a key word or phrase, which is usually is enough until I get to a pen and paper. 

What emotions do you experience when you sit down to begin a new work?   It’s the feeling you get before the race, right before the gun goes off at the starting line. I’m totally pumped with this sort of all or nothing feeling. But then, you find a stride, and the adrenaline initially coursing through your veins is what gives you what you need for the long haul. 

What is your favorite way to avoid writing?   Research. Cleaning the house. Until the act of avoidance becomes unbearable and I start writing, whether or not I am actually prepared. But writing-avoidance is, in a way, a luxury afforded by time. After having kids, I no longer had the freedom to wait until inspiration hit. The baby starts napping and then you hit the “go” button, whether it feels right, or you want to or not, or are tired or not. It doesn’t always feel natural, but I can still discipline myself this way.  
 
​Does being in love propel or postpone your work?  
I think it was Sherri D-Wilson who put it best; she said any relationship is worth two good poems – one at the start, one at the end. For me, any strong emotion is a good starting place, though it’s raw stuff that may not make it into a final, polished piece of work. 

How do you work under pressure?   Up to the point of implosion, pretty well. Sometimes I take on too much. All writing-moms work under pressure. Now my kids are older, so the pressure is of a different type, but the family/work balance thing is still there. 

What published book do you secretly wish you had written?   Song of Solomon by Toni Morrisson. 

Which historical figure do you most identify with?   Hmmm.  Stories about pioneer women inspire me to set the bar higher. Women I imagine who raised twenty kids and looked after a farm while their men were away and wrote journals interspersed with recipes for how to pickle eighteen pecks of peppers.  

​   If you were reincarnated as a person or a thing, who or what would you be?   My seven-year-old daughter suggested one night at bedtime, that wouldn’t it be wonderful if, “When we get old, maybe we could just start again as babies?”  She meant as ourselves, living our same life over. Maybe I’d do that?

Tell us one thing you can’t prove but believe is true.   The fates can be tempted.  I don’t boast my happiness or moan my troubles. The fates always listen. The universe gives you what you ask for, but not always the way you expect.  Complaining about work might get you fired. Or, if you’re feeling smug about your perfect life, the universe will find a way to humble you, as a cure for self-righteousness. I think I have a lucky star -- but I won’t say it too loudly, and tempt the fates.


​        

  

yasuko thanh  


Photo by Anastasia Andrews.