Author Archives: LN


[originally emailed 10/9/13 as an art idea]

i want to share with you my thoughts on homosexual since you asked, but i don’t want these words to come off as static/flat in email, and am also interested in having real time dialogue/dynamic with you about it.

so, in terms of the vocabulary available to describe deviant sexuality, queer has always felt more resonate than say gay, lesbian, or bisexual–which, when you have them presented in this way, gay stays within the realm of men, as opposed to saying gay in a more playful, all purpose kind of manner. queer is inclusive, queer is expansive, whateva whateva. queer can sometimes feel like too much and not enough though, to me. yes, queer can explain/encompass my desire/s, and yet i sometimes feel that queer is unable to get at the particularities of them, too.

what’s interesting to me, with homosexuality, is that it is limiting at same-sex desire, but it does not have to define what that sex is. and this has what has felt liberating to me, as someone who feels trans(ish) in a non-binary(ish) sense (we are all works in progress.) my desire for men is the same as my desire for women is the same as my desire for transfolk. it all comes from a yearning for recognition, to have my body, and my want, honored/reflected/accepted. my desires are multiple, and my body feels multiple, and yet i feel a particular alignment, a singularity of attraction.the conundrum, and pleasure, of homosexuality, lies in the tension/uncertainty of knowing if your desire for another is to become them or to be with them. this strongly informs how i am/feel/relate.

all of this to say, i am invested in the reclamation/celebration of the word homosexual as a queer term, and want to make visual art around/about it. and i would like to know how you think/feel, too. i’m curious to know more about your thoughts on queer lineage. i think a lot about how i find myself within and outside of womanhood, and what that means to be part of and excluded from genealogies of queer women/lesbians. and also what it means for me to find myself inside and excluded from trans genealogies, too. and how all of these things can be held and okay. i’m working it/myself out.


ten things i desire:

01. having the courage to tell the people i desire that i desire them. to do so explicitly, simply, honestly, and more quickly than i am prone to.
02. to not have to do my schoolwork. or at least acquire the focus i need to get it done.
03. to create more than i have been consuming. to be more active than passive.
04. holding someone’s hands.
05. energy to ride my bicycle all the way to downtown saint paul and back tmrw. fixing my bike to make things easier.
06. taking care of my home. really manifesting it to be the place i do not have to tiptoe around because there’s too much crap on the floor, or turn away from because of the dirt and dust pile-up. getting all my books in order. de-cluttering.
07. to tell everyone i love that i love them. in ways that make sense to both of us. not out of guilt.
08. sunshine. summertime. the air outdoors. waking up earlier and earlier. tanning. not giving a shit about fashion.
09. to have my desires returned. transformed.
10. feeling contentment. the way things are are the way things are. breathing. letting go of time. relaxing.

i just found a high schooler’s thinspiration tumblr on my search for all #vietnamese everything, and it has me feeling all of these feelings, and i didn’t know where else to go except here, and i don’t know what to say besides, there is so much weight to bear in this world.

fuck capitalism. fuck neoliberalism. fuck financial systems. fuck industrial complexes. fuck poverty. FUCK INJUSTICE. fuck this shit. fuck shit up.

(after mimi nguyen)

mouth stories.

originally written and sent as an email almost a year ago. title borrowed from poet aimee nezhukumatathil.

when my family moved to the bay from orange county, my mom started working for my uncle’s catering truck business in santa rosa, while my dad took esl classes at contra costa community college. eventually, they got their own lunch truck in hayward, with a route in milpitas serving a predominately latino clientele, service workers of the silicon valley. as such, my mom learned how to make menu staples like tacos and burritos from the previous cook. she did all of her prep work at home, which meant there was a lot beef being chopped on the kitchen table all the time.

and i remember she would make huge amounts of barbacoa in this fatty stock pot, and then sit on the floor pulling at the meat that fell apart on itself, it was so tender. she would feed it straight to me and my sister’s mouths like we were little babies. (she would do this with homemade meatballs too; who knows how much meat i ate as a child.) i didn’t actually learn that the meat was called barbacoa until i went to a chipotle for the first time in college and saw it on the menu. my mom picked up bits of spanish on the job, and spoke it quickly, pronouncing the ending syllable quà, like a gift.

a few summers ago, i was at my aunt’s house in orange county with my parents, and there was kind of a food gathering going on, with my other aunt and uncle and grandmother over. they were making spring rolls, the usual kind with pork and shrimp, and i mentioned that bò bía was my favorite, which always comes with the special peanut sauce. so i asked one of my aunts what hers was, and she was sassy in her response and said to ask my grandmother–she only ever made boiled vegetables and rice for dinner.

i was confused at first, mostly shocked at her audacity, but also the truth of situation. my parents were farmers in rural viet nam, and they grew the same vegetables they ate, which has now become a novel concept in my life: “gardening.” my mom said she learned how to cook “traditional” (in my re-imagination) vietnamese dishes by eying them at the grocery store, just like how she watches the food network channel and can recreate meals from there without ever paying attention the recipe. and i sat there, the only person from my generation, reeling from my idea of culture and its connection to food and history–how diaspora doesn’t always work the way you imagine it to.

last weekend i visited my sister l. in madison on a fifty cent megabus ticket. we hit up the farmers market where we passed on the cheese curds and tried our best to purchase from farmers of color, most ostensibly hmong. l. was super hyped on the butternut squash and bok choy offerings (her boyfriend j. says she has an addiction,) but we bought a few other things, including cải làn, which i never enjoyed because it was one of those boring boiled vegetables we had at every other dinner growing up.

but now, after college and separation from home, i have come to crave these foods. so l. and i called our mom that night to ask her for directions on how to cook the greens, and she was totally nonchalant about the affair, as always, saying to parboil them for a bit and then stir-fry it up with some sauce or whatever, and we’d have to interject and ask her to specify how long, and how much. she asked what else we were having for dinner, and after i rambled off some things, she remarked, what? veggies only? i had to reassure her, no mom, we have fish too. and it was then she said, good. you’ve done well. now you can come home and cook for me.



guest post by Stacey Michelle Liou.

It frustrates me SO MUCH that so many women misunderstand, are not familiar with or just don’t know about their own bodies.  I am grateful (nearly) every single day for WHR*, and it makes me sad that so many people are deliberately kept from accessing this information, or are given incorrect or biased information about their bodies.  It’s not even like, a human right that people should know about themselves, it’s a condition of life!  How do you survive and how do you love yourself if you don’t know yourself in the most basic way?  I mean, I listen to my mother and my sisters, pretty liberally educated (if liberal means sex is not as taboo…), relatively speaking, and like, there’s confusion about the uterus and the vulva/vagina and it’s not like I know that much but it makes me so MAD that this information isn’t readily accessible.  Or, that people don’t actively access it?  do you know what I mean?  I want to be active in reproductive/health education.

* editor’s note: Women, Health, and Reproduction, a biology-based course about women’s bodies.