How To

When the kids were little I’d get a manicure before flying. We might be delayed or tired or cranky but my nails looked nice. This year I schedule a manicure every three weeks. For the first time since the pandemic began, Seoul is under the government’s strictest social distancing level as the delta variant spreads. Summer travel season is quiet. One of the English language papers ran an article about the fun of staycations. At New Year’s, the same paper ran a piece about fun Zoom parties. South Korea’s vaccination campaign is slow but steady. We’ve got another year of masks, on campus and virtual learning, takeaway, limited socializing – the caution is mentally tiring.

The MFA keeps me occupied. Though I am off this semester, I write as I would with a mentor. I started Stonecoast with a set project: short narrative pieces exploring culture and identity, set in places I have lived or traveled. And that first semester I drafted work set in Kuwait and Colombia. Second and third semesters I drafted for two longer works, with an eye on the novella form. Now, with a gap before my thesis semester, I’m returning to my original short narrative collection, generating new pieces. At the same time, I keep the longer works in mind.

Yesterday afternoon I lay on my bed, lethargic. How do I do another year of this. I lay there thinking about this story I am drafting, thinking I should get up and add a hundred words or so, and then thinking about being forty and having skin that is starting to crepe and should I start taking collagen again or is taut lost already and what comes of this vanity that interrupts the scene I hold and build. I need more than nice nails for the year ahead. I got up and sat at the table with my notebook and wrote all the junk before listing what I want to write about writing: no how to but to again record and share this process.

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