Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Hair-Cutting Ceremony

In Buddhist culture, for anyone who wants to enter the monastery and become a monk, they must first shave their head. It's a ritual, meant to represent the purging of material goods and desires from one's soul. When Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism and born a prince, renounced his royal heritage to find Enlightenment, he first cut off his long hair.

The Sikh never cut their hair, wearing it long and in a turban. It is a symbol of their spirituality. Yet now that more young Sikh men are cutting their hair, the act is a sign of greater modernization and a gradual loss of the old ways.

In Ancient Greece, it was the slaves who were bald, while the wealthy and influential wore their hair long. So hair can divide classes.

When the prince deflowered Rapunzel, the witch cut off her hair and cast her out of the tower. Hair is a transitional state.

I never really thought about the significance of hair cutting, having not cut my hair short since senior year of high school. Yet something about it always signaled a big change of some sort, one that I was not sure I was ready for, and prior, not really sure I understood what it would symbolize.

So when I cut my waist-length hair up to my chin, there was something symbolic, almost freeing. Like a renouncing of the world and its possessions, except not quite so materialistic. It was a change, almost signaling an entrance into the adult world, and that transition from not knowing to finally understanding.

Or perhaps its just hair and now it's one less thing to have hanging over your head.

Short-haired Diep (Not to be confused with short Diep, which is everyday)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas in California

One of my friends at SU, Leah, who specializes in classical music (and is proudly Irish) is a New York state native and she once said, "I can't imagine not having four seasons a year? How can you stand it in California?"

To which I replied, "I can't imagine actually having four seasons."

Which is why going back to California for the holiday was like waking up from a long, exhausting sleep, back to a place where everything is filled with sunshine - green, alive and familiar.

Because no matter how hauntingly beautiful a White Christmas is, to this California girl, there's nothing alive underneath the snow and icicles. Times like that, it reminds me what home feels like, it's what recharges you, some sunshine out of the gray.

Merry Christmas!

The Waiting Game or How to Make Caramel (Updated With Pictures!)

One of my favorite past-times is baking. For me, I take a line from the movie "Julie and Julia" (I tend to quote movie lines, which are incredibly easy to remember), which says, "I love that after a day when nothing is can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It's such a comfort."

Take the uncertainty of life as a writer, where you never know if anyone will ever get back to you for an interview, or if an editor will love or hate your story, it's part of the reason why I bake.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Halfway Point, or, 6 Months Later

What can you learn in 6 months?

If you asked me that this time last year, from July to December, I would say another handful of book knowledge, gleaned from reading Shakespeare and art history textbooks. And a realization that I am definitely not the friends-with-benefits type (though that is another story).

Yet compare last year to this year, or even, just June, when I graduated from UCLA, to December, 6 months (and halfway) into graduate school, then the expanse is wide, the knowledge base denser and the miles...well, it's endless. It's one end of the country to the next.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why You Should See 'Tangled' (And Why I Should See It Again)

I've been waiting for "Tangled" for a long time. Or rather, I've been waiting for "Rapunzel," for a long time, seeing how it's one of my favorite fairy tales. And after the last fairy tale, "Princess and the Frog," (while beautiful, was almost self-conscious in its attempt to tap into greatness) fell flat and lifeless for me, I was hoping that "Rapunzel" would be magical.

Then the trailer came out, with that gender-neutral title and that pop music soundtrack and modern lingo. And there evaporated my hopes that the film would feel like the traditional Disney animated fare, there was no way that "Tangled" could be the "Rapunzel" that I have loved since I was 6 years old. There was no way that the tag-line "She's been grounded for, like, ever" could be a "tale as old as time."

Until I finally saw "Tangled." And it was like all the bad faith evaporated.

In fact, I adored it so much that I'm listing the reasons why every person who ever loved a Disney movie should go see it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm (No Longer) Dreaming of a White Christmas

It's late at night, I have a cold, it's the end of my first semester and I'm not yet tired, so it's time for what may read like a stuffy head-induced ramblings. But I feel like times like these, it's when you're the most truthful because there's really no running commentary in your head that can second-guess every single statement that you're saying/writing. And this is my blog so I can write about whatever I want in however way I want it.

When I was younger, I wanted four seasons. After all, I was living in California, which is not necessarily known for it's diverse temperatures. Then I lived in England for a while and I had my first real snowy winter. And by snowy, it snowed for about two weeks, the university shut down, then everything melted. It was a fluke of a storm.

But no, there are no such things as flukes or halfhearted weather changes in Syracuse. When it snows, it snows.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

After the Deadline

While most writers may look forward, and also dread, the approaching deadlines, rampart emotions do not end when the deadline comes.

Oh no.

With most writer, anytime you turn something in, there will be that moment of pure relief, like the lifting of Atlas' world from your shoulders and you suddenly feel like you can breathe again, until the next story comes along (or if you're working on a story, until you get back to writing, which will be within the next 20-30 minutes).

Then, immediately thereafter, there will be dread. Almost a feeling of pure hatred for the work that you just turned in and a certainty that the editor will hate it just as much and you will lose that little of credibility that you had.

Yet on the other hand, while you may hate it and have every reason to believe that the editor will too, you also want them to love it, as a validation of your hard work and your skills (which you never think you have enough of.

And then, probably a month or two or three later, you'll be bored one night and decide to re-read your old writings. And as you're reading them, you'll come across a sentence that'll make you laugh or that I think is really well-constructed and then you'll think, "Damn, I'm good."

And that's as close to confidence as you'll ever get, that moment where you're finally allowed to pat yourself on the back for a job well done and believe that brilliance will carry on to your next project.

And then you'll agonize over a new piece and think you're the most mediocre writer in existence.

Though I do think this piece that just came out on Monday is quite good. Perhaps my most accomplished yet.

Until I read it again in another 6 months and laugh at myself and how amateur my writing was. It never ends.

What are your thoughts reader?

"Bringing Up Baby - And Acting Too"