To Swim is to Endure: On Living with Chronic Pain

Literary / News
The image for "To swim is to endure," which is a painting of a female swimmer's back.

I have a personal essay on Catapult about my relationship to swimming and how it helps me get through chronic headaches and writer’s block. This essay has been many months in the making. Though part of me is wary of putting something so personal out in the world, I’m thrilled to be in Catapult. If you don’t know it, be sure to spend some time on there. The site is full of great writing.

Art by Ellen Orseck / Image via brad, flickr

A Review of Writer and Journalist Portfolio Sites

comments 9
Journalism / Other Stuff
journoportfolio portfolio review

After a decade-long break from journalism, I returned to the field and realized that I needed a better-looking online portfolio. I’ve been keeping links to my writing clips on this website, but it’s rather text heavy. I tried adding one image per story, but the page looked rather disorganized since it’s essentially an article format with images and story descriptions piled up vertically one after the other. So, I explored portfolio sites out there for writers and journalists. (UPDATE: I’ve since figured out how to make a more visually-appealing portfolio in WordPress, which is what my site is built in, but the portfolio sites are easier to use.)

What I looked for:

  • clean and organized look
  • easy for the reader to navigate
  • easy to use on the account or dashboard end
  • looks good on mobile
  • the ability to organize content by sections (say, by type of writing or by topic)

The portfolio sites I considered:

For all the sites, you can add a clip by simply entering its URL. The sites do all the work for you, grabbing the headline, an excerpt, and an image for you. (Some do a better job at this than others. I found myself having to upload images for some clips.) All of them have editable fields in case you want to change the text or upload a different image. For stories that don’t live online, you can also upload PDFs. All of these sites also have spots for your social media handles.

At first I tried to get away with just looking at existing samples of these sites. But I realized that in order to truly understand how they worked, I had to sign up so I could experience it myself first hand.

Read More

Exploring the History of Chinatown Through Food

Journalism / News
A photo exhibit inside a gallery. A few photos of Capital Restaurant are on the wall. There is also a cabinet with pink bakery boxes stacked on it.

APEX Express on KPFA-FM aired a story of mine about an art show in San Francisco Chinatown that explores the history of the neighborhood through food. The photo exhibit commemorates classic eateries that have been operating for 40 years or more. My segment begins at 39:00.

Here are a few photos I took while reporting this story. The photo above is of the exhibit, “Eat Chinatown,” at 41 Ross. Below: popular dishes at Capital Restaurant, the interior of Eastern Bakery, and the bakery’s dan tats.

Dishes on a table at Capital Restaurant.





Resistance Rooster

A stack of postcards with a drawing of a giant rooster and protesters. The text reads "Year of the Resistance Rooster."

Five years ago, I started making cards to send to friends for the lunar new year. I started in 2013, Year of the Snake, cutting snakes by hand out of colorful, patterned scrap paper.

As my mailing list grew, it became unrealistic to make each card by hand. So in the Year of the Horse, I decided to draw something and send it off to a printer. By draw, I mean stick figures. Over the years, I’ve learned what kind of paper stock I should print on (not uncoated matte stock, which gets beat up in the mail) and I picked up a small water color kit too.

Read More

Recent Stories for APEX Express on KPFA-FM

Journalism / News
A child reads the first issue of "Illustoria," holding it open in his or her hands.

I’ve been a guest producer on APEX Express, which airs on KPFA-FM. Here’s a few stories I’ve contributed lately.

Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus has started a new fellowship for formerly incarcerated Asian Pacific Islanders named after the late activist Yuri Kochiyama. I interview one of the fellows about her experience in the prison and immigration systems, and why she’s advocating against charging youth as adults. Listen to the story here.

A new print magazine called Illustoria launched this fall. With a focus on storytelling, the magazine targets children 6 to 12 and their grownups. I interviewed Joanne Chan, the publisher and editor of Illustoria. Listen to the story here.

Photo by Melissa Kaseman

Bold Asian American Images 2015 Recap

Events / Film
Three people stand in front of a large screen during the Q&A portion of a film screening.

Photo above by Alfred Cervantes of the Houston Film Commission

Thank you to everyone who made it out to this year’s Bold Asian American Images screening of short films in Houston. It’s been four years since I’ve curated this program for the Aurora Picture Show and it was wonderful to be back.

I had not been to Aurora Picture Show’s new space (Well, new to me. They moved in 2012.) and was glad to see that the organization has a home after being nomadic for five years. The screening included works by Leena Pendarkar, Nina Yuen, Laura Hyunjhee Kim, R.J. Lozada, Tony Nguyen, and Faroukh Virani.

Read More

Bold Asian American Images | Houston | September 26

Events / Film
A woman blows up a large bubble against a green and blue background in a still from the short film "Moving to the Cloud” by Laura Hyunjhee Kim.

After a four-year hiatus, I’ll be returning to the Aurora Picture Show with Bold Asian American Images. The 12th installment of this program showcases an eclectic mix of short films curated by yours truly. The program has narrative, experimental, video art, sci-fi, and documentary works. Almost all of these films will be making their Texas premieres. I’ll be there in person with two filmmakers, Faroukh Virani and Tony Nguyen.

In Faroukh’s film “Vimana,” three Indian astronauts are on their way to a distant planet when the captain dies. The two remaining astronauts must complete the journey in his memory.

Tony Nguyen documents his refugee family’s experience adapting to life in America in “Giap’s Last Day at the Ironing Board Factory.” In this documentary, Tony goes back to a small town in Indiana to film his mother’s retirement after nearly 35 years working at the last ironing board factory in America.

I hope those of you in Houston will be able to join us for this and other films.

Bold Asian American Images
Saturday, September 26, 2015,  7 p.m.
Curator Melissa Hung and Filmmakers Tony Nguyen and Faroukh Virani in Attendance
Aurora Members Free, Non-Members $10 (Click here for tickets)

Behind the Screens Member Event 6 p.m.
Members are invited to arrive early and have time to chat with the curator and filmmakers.

Filmmakers Shown:
Laura Hyunjhee Kim / R.J. Lozada /   Tony Nguyen / Leena Pendarkar /  Faroukh Virani / Nina Yuen

Image from “Moving to the Cloud” by Laura Hyunjhee Kim


My Asian Immigrant Mom Reviews ‘Fresh Off the Boat’

Journalism / News
Constance Wu and Hudson Yang as Jessica and Eddie in a scene from "Fresh Off the Boat." They are in a parking lot in the evening about to walk into a grocery store.

I have a fun interview over at Hyphen with my mom about the new TV show “Fresh Off the Boat,” the first American sitcom since the ’90s to feature an Asian American family.

Watching the premiere of “Fresh Off the Boat,” many scenes resonated with my own experience of growing up in Texas. Being made fun of for your homemade lunch? Check. People complimenting me on my English even though I’m American born? Check. Parents not understanding the music I identified with? Check.

But what really carried the show for me was Constance Wu’s portrayal of the mother, Jessica Huang. Walking the world with confidence, skepticism, and a sharp tongue, she is tough on her kids, and her husband too. She reminds me of my own mom, Pearl.

So I asked Pearl about her thoughts on the show. Read the interview at Hyphen.

A Journal for Incarcerated Youth

Other Stuff

In my eight years at WritersCorps, I’ve been proud of many things. There’s the work that we do every day: educating young people and providing them with safe spaces to express themselves and free their imaginations. I feel incredibly privileged to work with a group of artists and writers who are creative and caring mentors. I’m proud of our students, many of whom face difficult challenges.

One thing that I’ve been especially proud of lately is a project called Words Within the Walls. It’s a journal for incarcerated youth, and it was created by WritersCorps Teaching Artist Anhvu Buchanan, who is a poet. Anhvu taught for WritersCorps at the Juvenile Justice Center, which is San Francisco’s juvenile hall. His students were constantly asking him for extra paper so they could continue writing outside of class time. As a solution, he put together a creative writing journal that contained lined pages, poems by his students, and writing prompts to help them get going.

Read More