642 Days of Writing: Day 2

  1. Tweet Hamlet
  2. Tweet the original Star Wars
  3. Tweet the story of my life
  4. Tweet my day so far

1: Hamlet—Sighting of dead King’s ghosts causes deaths of entire royal family, too thoughtful Prince could have prevented tragedy if more filial

2: Star Wars —Star Wars: In which R2 and Chewie save the day but never get recognized oh yea and Darth Vader’s actually not a bad guy #skwalkerfamilydrama

3: My life — college educated and employed but sorta want to join a nudist colony. what, you don’t know my life #rebel #pantsareevil #whatsacareerpath

4: My day — Day 8,030: Gym. Work. Food. Work. TV. Work. Write. Sleep. I’m sorry were you expecting something more interesting? #itswednesday #humpday

That was more difficult than I thought. Partially because I had to skim sparknotes for hamlet (I know, I’m such a horrible literature major), but also because hashtags count in your characters. Gr.

Day 2 was pretty low key–skipped what I deemed part 2 of day 1 which was “write last years fortune cookie, it got everything right.” Maybe I’ll go back to that one later but it seemed too similar to the prompt of day 1.

Also I know it’s technically late, but DC got hit with #snowzilla which killed all motivation for me to do anything but finish watching Jane the Virgin and eating junk food.


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642 Days of Writing: Day 1

Day 1: write yesterday’s fortune cookie, it got everything wrong

Vanessa stared down at the tiny slip of paper that mocked her silently from its place next to her sub-par Chinese take out dinner.

“You have a strong desire for a home and your family interests come first”

She wanted to scoff at it, and dismiss it for what it was: a piece of paper stuffed in a poorly made cookie. But scoffing at it would only be giving it power. It would be admitting she had let a small piece of paper that came out of a cookie that tasted cardboard get to her.  Vanessa was not about to test what sort of power ignoring the seemingly innocuous cookie message would do. So she pulled the piece of paper closer to her in front of her keyboard, pushing aside a plate of half eaten lo-mein.

It sat there, framed on three sides by her arms and keyboard, inviting her to fill the empty space below with her thoughts.

Unconsciously she looked over to where Peter sat at his desk, shoulders hunched over some new excel sheet with fascinating figures that would predict where the economy was going. His combination fried rice half-eaten and already forgotten on the side. He looked up at her, feeling her stare, and gave a wry grin. Vanessa could not help but grin back, but it slowly faded as he turned back to his work.

She could not forget the harsh words her family had said when she told them they were moving in together yesterday.

“It is too early”

“No. I said no. No daughter of mine will—no.”

“It’s your choice.”

“I don’t understand it, why him?”

They reverberated in her head when she came home, when she went to work, when she talked to Peter, when she went to the goddamn bathroom. And every time they did, it was as if the wounds had been opened fresh. Sometimes worse; it was as if the stitches that had been so painstakingly put there to stem the bleeding had been ripped out, creating new, fresh scars.

At that moment Vanessa wanted to cry. The ridiculousness of having this tiny, meaningless fortune cookie from the crappy but cheap Chinese place downstairs be the catalyst of a fit was not lost on her. But she could not help as a weak whimper escaped her lips.

Peter rose from his place at his desk to come over and comfort her. She felt pathetic. Trying to think of something reasonable to tell her boyfriend why she was all of a sudden in tears, the best thing Vanessa could come up with was, “It’s wrong. The fortune cookie is clearly wrong.”

It was all she could say between sobs, despite wanting to try and explain herself to her extremely confused and very concerned boyfriend.

Finally, she was able to choke out, “It’s wrong because I have so clearly betrayed my family by choosing to live with you, but what am I supposed to do when being with you is being home?”

Now that the statement was out there, now that Vanessa’s truth was out there, hanging over her head as she sobbed into her boyfriend’s chest, she did not suddenly feel free or light. She felt, overall, worse that in her reality, home and family were not only not synonymous but were irreconcilable antonyms.

Vanessa cried and cried, and decided she hated fortune cookies.

Having received a book called 642 Tiny Things to Write About for Christmas, I thought I would take on a tiny project. That would help encourage (read: force) me to write more often than my bi-weekly blog with my sister.

Thus, I will work chronologically through the 642 things from Monday through Friday, using one prompt a day until–well, until some major life change happens and I decide I don’t want to write anymore or don’t have time to, or until the end of the 642 things.

Hope you enjoyed, and I welcome you on this project with me 🙂

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A Study in Safety Hazards


She sat sipping her glass of pinot noir delicately, balancing the glass between two fingers and watching the burgundy contents inside swish. He didn’t understand how she could be so calm under the circumstances. They had just come back from the morgue after having examined the body of one Mr. JacksonMcArthur, a victim of what appeared to be a vicious fire started by some careless home cooking.

Mrs. McArthur sat in their living room, looking rightly lost among the many filing cabinets, mis-matched furniture and clusters of red wine bottles resting unopened on almost every available surface. He had no idea why she would ask this woman who had just lost her husband to come in for questioning. The case itself wasn’t even that atypical, nothing like the bizarre serial homicide or unexplained disappearance cases they usually took on. But it wasn’t his job to choose the cases, she was the master detective, not he.

“Tell me about that night once more, Mrs. McArthur.” her voice was nonchalant. He recognized the tone, she was done. The case was technically solved in her head, how long it had been that way, he would never be able to tell. She was now merely going through the motions for the police. External evidence he could hear her telling him as she had from the beginning, for those incapable of the simple acts of seeing and thinking.

“Jackson came back a little drunk as I was making dinner. He had been doing that more often, work troubles, you see…” Mrs. McArthur’s voice had the tendency of trailing off at the ends of her sentences as if she wasn’t really sure whether what she had said constituted a full thought, afraid of the finality of a statement. “He got himself a glass of wine and started throwing a fit at me in the kitchen—he’d gotten into the habit of throwing these fits. I didn’t know how to deal with them. I—I do what I can, we don’t make much but I—I do what I can— ” her voice had begun to tremble and he gave the aloof female detective an meaningful glare, the type he reserved for when she would cruelly toy with people’s emotions for the sake of the case.

She rolled her eyes at him, in a single movement telling him he was showing too much sympathy for the client. Nevertheless, she set the wine glass down and respectfully turning to face the poor woman, appearing at least to listen attentively, she prompted, “and then the fire…”

“Oh! The fire! Oh!” her elderly features changed, contorting into one of fear as she sunk further into herself, “He was having his fit and coming towards me, I didn’t—I didn’t know what to do, I was scared. He was all rough tempered and kept coming up to me until we was in the living room. That’s when I heard the first sizzle.”

He didn’t want to listen to the story again. She was making the poor woman relive the horror of her husband’s death again, recounting all the facts they had already had from the police report. The building had gone in flames, luckily after most residents were evacuated. Among those not evacuated were Mr. McArthur and the young woman in the unit directly below. Mrs. McArthur, one of the last to leave the building, smoky and charred in some places herself was being charged with second degree murder.

He didn’t believe it, of course, but the evidence was stacked against the poor woman. The fights she and her husband had had were broadcast through the thin walls of the building as were the affair he was having with the lady in 3B downstairs; both public service announcements that were now being used as motive and proof of killing intent against Mrs. McArthur. To the public it was too coincidental that a whole building could go up in smoke with the only two casualties being the husband and his mistress of an unhappy wife, especially when said fire started in her apartment during one of their infamous spats.

“Thank you so much, Mrs. McArthur.” She was seeing the fragile woman out the door, “I assure you your name will be cleared within the week.”

He waited for the door to close before asking, “What was that? How do you know she is innocent?”

“Don’t you ever pay attention? I asked her over here after going to see the body at the morgue so that you could hear the story again and hopefully see how undoubtedly obvious it is that she didn’t kill anyone!” He gave her a blank look, she sighed. “Why do I even try?” She wandered back to her wine glass and picked it up before gingerly setting herself in an armchair. “Open that file cabinet over there. Third drawer, fifth file from the back.”

He was surprised; he was not usually allowed near the file cabinets. They were intimately hers, a physical replication of all the information she had stored in her brain. To rifle sans permission through them would be a crime manifold times worse than murder.

Trying not to appear too eager as he weaved his way through the living room over to the aforementioned cabinet, the possibilities of what this drawer could contain, breezed through his mind too fast for him to process. The drawer, he could tell, was old, had seldom been opened and contained a meagre 11 vanilla folders hanging, and the fifth from the back was one labelled, ‘safety hazards.’ Inside were papers detailing the deaths of Tom Pryce in 1977 and Humberto Hernandez in 2007. Both died from blunt force trauma to the head by fire hydrant.

“What is this…” he tried processing the information, replaying the supposed scene of the crime in his head with the images of Mr. McArthur’s corpse in the morgue.

“It’s a problem that I haven’t had enough evidence of to bring to the department of health and safety. But this case should give me what I need, especially since otherwise the justice system would have convicted an old innocent women.” He looked up from the files at her blankly, still not comprehending. “Oh come now! It’s obvious! Don’t you see! Mr. McArthur was found in his apartment, the fire hydrant turned weapon not far from his person. While the hydrant has been neglected by incompetent police investigators as circumstantial, further inspection of the deceased’s body proves otherwise. If we weren’t living in a society so prone to pointing fingers and so wanting a scapegoat, none of this murder accusation mess would have ever happened!” She gulped happily at her wine, “Also if we lived in a society where the tools meant to save us were just as dangerous themselves, a lot of these sorts of accidents turned murders wouldn’t occur!”

He put the files away, quietly ruminating over the recent developments as he settled himself into an armchair opposite hers. She was amazing from her penchant for red wine to the file cabinets of her mind that stored enough information that could rival the encyclopedia. Her ability to observe and read into the details of what she saw to analyze and unearth the truth was unrivaled, truly living up to her name. She was satisfied with herself, he could tell. Case closed, another day’s work as master detective. And as he sat there watching her pour herself a fifth glass of wine, he was reminded that this was just another day in the life of Margaret Holmes.

First trial into detective/mystery fiction! Sort of….ehehe I got lost in the details of my own murder mystery and it sort of changed directions. Whoops. Let me know what you think!

The deaths by fire hydrant mentioned are real and were found on wikipedia. Read more about odd deaths here.

image courtesy of google and of course from the BBC series Sherlock.

Your prompt: Filial Piety

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Take the Real World with You

Summer is nearing its end and it feels like no time has passed at all. As I look forward (literally not figuratively) to my senior year at Georgetown, I’m greeted with the realization that I don’t want to go back to being a student.

I don’t want to be trapped in a school system that coddles me, in the little undergraduate community whose focus, I’ve come to realize, is so narrowly based on grades and weekend house parties. It’s so far removed from ‘real life.’ Yes, the very same real life I feared last year as my junior year came to a close.

This summer, I think (in my own naïve way) that I experienced a little taste of real life. From working a job, working an internship, managing my house’s utilities and rents, cooking my own meals, and being fully in charge of how I spend my time, money and energy, going to a life ruled by a college student’s schedule, by assignments, midterms and finals, and punctuated by this week’s “rager” is less than exciting.

When I thought about it some more, I decided it was not fair to characterize “student life” as not “real life.” What I had called “student life” may be the stereotypical depiction of a college student’s life but not all students lead that sort of life. I’m sure there are plenty of students who are able to juggle school work, internships, friends and partying, to see the bigger picture outside of the university gates. I was just not one of them

I want to change that.

I’ve tasted reality. I’ve worked double shifts and been tired beyond belief. I’ve also enjoyed and appreciated free time so much more than I ever have. I’ve woken up at 7:30 every morning of my own free will to, of all things (this is a big deal for those who know me), go to the gym and eat breakfast and get a good start to my day. I’ve sampled what it’s like to receive a paycheck that I earned through hard work and not through sitting for four hours at a work study job where I pretend to work but really am catching up on Facebook or doing my homework that’s due the next day. I’ve met people making livings, not wages that are spent on that weekend’s supply of cheap entertainment (wine and booze).

My days range from working doubles at a poorly managed restaurant to spending an ungodly amount of time in Starbucks, writing, reading and editing. I wake up each morning knowing what needs to be done and looking forward to doing it. Despite the lack of structure, the lack of a dean or advisor to guide me through the rough patches, or some requirement that I need to fulfill, I feel stable. Even more, I may even be satisfied. I’ve attained a sort of peace of mind knowing that I am the one fully responsible and in control of my life.

The summer has changed me, perhaps made me grow up a little. Interacting with Tyece (www.twentiesunscripted.com) online and in person, as well as all my co-workers at the restaurant and my boyfriend who has just begun his ‘real life’ after graduation has given me a new insight into what it means to be an adult, what it means to work, what it means to do what you love and what it means to sacrifice for it. It has posed questions that would take a whole new post each to answer (for example: how do adults make friends?) that are so much more worthwhile than “how many classes can I miss without it impacting my final grade?”

Perhaps saying so only reveals how untrue it is, but this summer I feel like I’ve become an adult. To me that means being fully accountable for the choices and priorities that I make and the expectation that said choices are respected. It’s the mutual acknowledgement of any party involved that I have the authority to make decisions about how I spend my time. Time being unbelievably finite, is an unfortunate and perishable resource to waste. So between hitting snooze to lay in bed for ten minutes, not sleeping and just getting up and having ten extra minutes today to call my family, talk to friends or have my boyfriend beat me at chess, whereas a couple years ago I would have absolutely chosen the former, now I undoubtedly do the latter.

What my future looks like, where it looks like and how it looks like are still questions I’m struggling to answer. I have no idea where I will be in the next year, much less next five years, but this summer has given me a glimpse, albeit unrealistic, of what my real life could be. It’s shown me that I can run my life, and that I don’t need the registrar, the advisor or the career center to help me out. Seeing the world beyond the gates in all of its vastness, with all of its imperfections, struggles and triumphs, I like what I see and I don’t want it to end. However, seeing as I have no choice but to go back to student life, back to that hole where I spend every waking moment between the states of exhausted and miserable, I’m going to try to take as much of the real life with me.


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Status Update: Freak out over, it’s my life

So here’s what has been going on with me.

1)      I finished my junior year of college

What that means: I’m freaking out. Senior year is looming ahead at the tip of this monster I like to call real life with a side of cold bills and bitter rent. It feels like once senior year descends, it will become an overwhelming avalanche of new responsibilities and stresses. I’m about to enter into adult life and the pressure to have things figured out, to know what I want and to get a job is high. I know I can’t exactly deal with it now, but it doesn’t stop anxiety-prone me to thinking about it. ALL. THE. TIME.

What it also means: I’m almost done with college and school and studying and papers and freshman!

2)      I got a boyfriend

What that means: I’m freaking out. But in a better way than the one mentioned before. It’s a whole new kind of freaking out, still filled with questions and uncertainty about the future but in an exciting way that simultaneously grounds me in the present. I never expected myself to be in a relationship; I was never seeking out companionship. Nor have I ever been the type of person to define themselves by the romantic relationship that they’re in, and I’m not about to start. But it is something I wanted to share because it is important to me; it has affected me, unexpectedly and pleasantly.

What it also means: I am now a part of a team. Before I get too cheesy and lovey and gross that I start needing to vomit my lunch all over my computer, I just want to say that eighteen year old me, or twenty year old me is wrong. Sure, I may not need someone by my side, and certainly friends are always good but I’ve come to acknowledge the benefit of having a partner and the significance of having and being one.

3)      I got a job waiting tables

What that means: I’m tired every single night. I almost never want to go in to work.

What it also means: I’ve met a very interesting group of people that have allowed me to reflect a bit on life.

For those that have never served before, it’s hard. And I don’t mean to say that because I want to gather pity points, but from being on your feet for up to 6 hours to dealing with upset customers to opening bottles of wine flawlessly in front of customers and memorizing the day’s specials, serving is an underappreciated job. Many of the people I’ve met are serving as a side job. Almost everybody has some other gig that they’re also working. This is the job that pays the bills, the other one is what they want to do. They are students, lawyers, documentary film makers, writers; people with aspirations that have maybe been a little bogged down by real life concerns. “I never thought I’d be working here this long” is a phrase I’ve heard thrown around the server’s station during slow nights. However, servers can make bank on a good night. Resulting in a beautiful love hate relationship with your job. This is a job that makes the change from temporary to ‘this-is-what-I’m-doing-with-my-life’ look like child’s play. It makes me worry. Worry that it will suck me into a rut, worry that I’ll get to comfortable serving tables to make ends meet that I won’t truly get off my ass and do something with my dreams.

4)      I got a tattoo

What that means: I forked up enough money to lie down and let someone injure me by inserting ink into my skin with a needle for almost two hours.

What it also means: I would not get something permanently tattooed to my skin if it didn’t mean something more. Since I’m not including a visual, I will describe my tattoo to you. It’s a dream catcher located slightly above my right shoulder blade (I know, original right?), with the threads within the circle creating a yin yang. So besides the fact, as my friends so often like to remind me, that my tattoo increases my ‘bad-ass’ points, it also serves as a reminder. It’s a reminder to dream. Big or small, I believe it is always important to dream, to want and hope for better and to keep that in your sights such that it puts other things into perspective. It’s also a reminder for balance. I know it sounds cliché or that I’m buying into some weird eastern mysticism and actually, I am but hear me out. I took a class on Classical Chinese philosophy this past semester and actually learned what the yin yang is supposed to mean within the larger context of Daoism. It’s an ever flowing, ever changing force that exists between two extremes. It mediates them, balances them into harmony. I’m not going to go so far as to say that I believe that this force governs the universe or my life. Certainly I’m willing to admit that I believe it plays a part in it and rather than give it control, I see it as an example of the type of balance that can be achieved. It reminds me that for all the downs there will be ups and for all the ups there will be downs, what I can control, what I can balance is how I react to them.

I wanted to finish with the tattoo though it is by far the oldest thing on this list because I needed a reminder that it was a reminder. I began writing this flustered, anxious and sad, bemoaning my life’s apparent lack of direction, its lack of ambition and lack of success. And as I was pounding out my feelings, alternating between feeling sorry for myself and then frustrated at myself for feeling sorry for myself, I gave myself a metaphorical kick in the ass. “You are Emily Lin! You rebel who doesn’t let people make decisions for her! Who grew a pair and got a tattoo against her parent’s will!”

This is the reminder, the update that I need every now and again in my life. And it’s sad, maybe, to think that I need to be reminded that I run my life but at the same time it’s also comforting. I can ride the wave of life like “Look ma! No hands!” with the knowledge that I know exactly where the reins are and that they’re mine to hold.



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All night long

This is (not) a team effort

Thomas_Burke_The_Nightmare_engravingShadows are glaring with
judgement and fury, sharp
teeth dig invisible
holes in my soul.

My nightmares and demons
I hate them–I need them.
They push me to pleading
all night long.

Feast! Feast on my dreams
digest them in screams-
dying echoes reverberate
through fingers and toes.

My thoughts they aren’t stopping
And sweat seeps out, dropping
on tangled sheets–groping
all night long.

Slumber held hostage as
hatred gains mileage
beating indelible tracks
on this flesh-and-blood road.

The pillows are burning
My stomach is churning
I’m tossing and turning
all night long.

Your prompt: Affogato

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April Snow


My sister’s piece on Team Effort! Well written and playful, explaining our bizarre weather of late (:

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