Waves (poem)

Poetry

Waves of depression break,

At the shores of my conscious awareness.

Oceanic mysteries drift,

Carried along by currents.


Flooding a desert reveals,

Sentiment’s intrinsic value.

Formerly disciplined by absence,

Returned to feel its presence.


Acute pain with decay,

Left to rot and fester.

Breathe in and choke on sunshine,

Learn to radiate like the stars.


Push it out and pull it in,

Cosmic light pulsing brightly.

Darkness swallowing the universe,

Become a beacon riding the waves.

Twin (poem)

Poetry

My twin star won’t guide me home,
Rotational energy throws us off-balance.
Stolen glances in a crowd betray interest,
But the bustling movement pulls us away.

Crushed with the burden of being the only,
Knowing you exist is enough to soothe me.
Soften my shell on a boulder in a forest,
Reluctant kisses leave shadows on my lips.

Sharing a mind and all its illnesses,
Amplify our energy beyond its threshold.
Unravel each other’s hurts like bandages,
Scarred and wounded bodies to inspect.

Stars paired with planets,
Split the galaxy into territories.
Radio waves pick up signals,
But my gravity won’t be distorted.

Virgin (poem)

Poetry

Anticipation sends shivers,
Fated moment has arrived.
Foreign feelings to consider,
Hoping it wasn’t lies.

Uncertain of progression,
Waiting for a sign.
Impressionable susceptibility,
Playbook getting written.

Blanks beg to be filled,
Information awaiting.
Answered questions to share,
Or buried deep as a secret.

Kiss and don’t tell,
Be gentle in the night.
Set the tone for forever,
In a moment’s burning light.

Letter to Another Survivor (essay)

Prose

On October 6, 2018, I wrote a thank-you email to Christine Blasey Ford for her congressional testimony. I shared intimate, vulnerable details of my life because I thought she could understand as another survivor. I share it with you all in the hopes that you can have greater empathy for us as survivors and victims.

Dear Professor Blasey Ford,

As a concerned American and fellow survivor of sexual violence, I followed Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process through the news with a good deal of interest. I thought your testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was brave and inspiring. From the bottom of my heart, I wanted to thank you. Even though he was ultimately confirmed, your efforts meant the world to me and to survivors across the country.

His confirmation to the Supreme Court is particularly painful for me, given that I attended law school in pursuit of my belief in government institutions to create and maintain justice. Perhaps I was too naive. Perhaps not. But I know that the Senate did not give you justice with their vote today. The FBI did not do you justice with its limited and cursory investigation. And the White House did not seek justice for you with its partisan trickery and manipulations.

Disappointment is not new for me. Yet I continue to weep when such news reaches me. My father sexually abused me throughout my childhood, starting from when I was just two or three years old. When I attempted suicide during my second year of law school and sought help from Harvard (we were entitled to 10 free mental health sessions per year as students), I was told that since I was off-campus for an externship program (for which I was receiving school credit), they would not provide any resources to me. 

On my own, I exerted great efforts to transform my life and to treat myself with care and kindness, including changing my inner dialogue with myself (no tolerance for diminishing self-talk, reasoning through my beliefs, delving deeper into philosophy to structure a more positive worldview) and developing healthy habits (curbing alcohol consumption, limiting processed food intake, incorporating exercise, using stretching/mindfulness/essential oils to reduce stress, embracing arts/crafts, picking up the violin again). During this time, my dissociation was extremely difficult to manage, and I endured periods of numbness when I felt incapable of connecting to any emotion. For the first time in my life, I felt genuinely concerned that I could lose touch entirely with reality, and had nightmares reflecting that anxiety. During my third year of law school, I went into the health center to be assessed for ADHD. I got a neuropsych test that confirmed my suspicion of inattentive-type ADHD, but not before the prescriber, Dr. David Abramson, attempted to block me from getting help. 

During my last semester, I started dating Dr. Jon Einarsson (ob/gyn surgeon at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, professor at Harvard Medical School). He came to visit me December 2-3, 2017, when he transmitted chlamydia and garderella vaginalis to me. After examining our text communications and writing down all of our experiences together, I determined that he is a psychopath, and that the STI transmissions were premeditated, deliberate, and malicious.

In the aftermath of that sexual battery, I have been diagnosed with PTSD and fibromyalgia. I had to take a leave from work– a pastime that was a source of great fulfillment in my life. All of this to say that I know what it feels like to be abandoned; to appeal to power only to have your cries for help fall on deaf ears. I just want you to know that you are not alone, that you’ve never been alone. I and countless others stand with you.

Wishing you strength and love,

Ally

Chains (poem)

Poetry

Delicate filigree,
Dainty little thing.
Shine for others,
But weigh down the wearer.

Concentrated mass,
Density pulling downward.
Sinking into hell,
Looking like an angel.

Commercializing pain,
Constructing injuries for attention.
Ride the waves of trauma,
On the backs of true survivors.

Wear your burdens proudly,
Jewels burn into flesh.
Fingernails like diamonds,
Slicing up the fakers.

Halloween (poem)

Poetry

Feeling delightfully creepy,
The monster within me prowls.
My demons breathe crisp fall air,
Cleansing lungs of brimstone and ash.

Wild feral children,
Seek treats from friendly strangers.
Pitiable abandoned creatures,
Single night to experience care.

Either fearing death or craving it,
Life gets cast upon us as a curse.
History carved on a graveyard’s stone,
Remember the pain that binds us.

Season of endings and imminent demise,
Transient ghouls travelling like pilgrims.
Crunching bones and skulls with eyes,
Peer into the depths of my morbid soul.

Cheat (short story)

Prose

His girlfriend was out of town traveling for work, so he decided to ask a different woman out on a date. He invited her over and pretended that he lived there alone. He explained that his “friend”, a successful tattoo artist, owned the place and let him stay there.

He could never afford to live in a place like that on his own, so he needed to have a plausible explanation. Plus, the space was filled with her art and books; it’s not like he could just erase her presence just because she was in a different state.

In his spare time, he liked to tinker with bikes. He showed his date pictures of beautiful landscapes that he encountered on his bike rides. He offered to take her there. “I have a bike that could fit you,” he said, thinking of his girlfriend’s bike. Her eyes lit up in delight, and he felt some unexpected guilt. Her guile and sincerity moved him.

He had sex with her anyway, and he was a perfect gentleman as he walked her to the train station the next morning. She kissed him on the lips and told him she’d see him later. He told her goodbye, her name leaving a residual sweetness on his tongue. As his eyes lingered over her departing figure, he knew he would never see her again.

Youth (poem)

Poetry

Grown up too quick,
Adulthood presses from every angle.
Body twisting around the truth,
Rigid and unyielding until its reveal.

Cursed in the shape of a tree,
Crooked and wailing into the darkness.
Frozen at the core of its trunk,
Yet rustling its leaves to communicate.

Gone too fast and never recovered,
Never well while still escaping truth.
Learned first-hand but stubbornly forgotten,
Fitting in with prescribed narratives set.

Before closeness with corruption,
Touching palms with decay and pain.
Discover novel wonders abounding,
Walk through portals to fresh possibilities.

Complainers (short story)

Prose

Ellie was born in a world where complaining was the norm. The default narrative was for everyone to emphasize how terrible their lives were to each other. She would be considered a social outcast if everyone knew how happy and stable her home life was.

As she shut her locker, the face of her friend Sarah appeared.

“My mom’s the worst,” Sarah started. “So bad I cut myself.” She flashed an inch of wrist under her long sleeves, too quickly for a close look.

“I’m sorry about that,” Ellie said blandly. She turned to walk into the classroom. Sarah breezed around the hallway to chat to other students before slipping in right before the bell rang.

Ellie preferred to focus on the content of her courses during her time at school. In any case, any socializing or recreation she might find there would be better explored at home. She had two loving parents and three older siblings to guide her and look out for her. She felt safe, brave, and confident when she was with them. In comparison, school felt foreign and chaotic.

There were so many personalities to manage, and it was so hard to predict how she might be treated by all these different people. Sometimes people hated her for no discernable reason. The thought of being the subject of people’s constant complaining made Ellie feel sick. She would rather just minimize her interactions overall, instead of risking bad ones.

Usually people were too busy complaining about their own families to ask about hers, but on the occasions where Ellie was questioned, she never had a good story. “Oh, I suppose they’re a little neglectful,” Ellie would say. “They’re so busy that I end up taking care of myself.”

She might get a contemptuous sneer in response, or an apathetic shrug. She knew it was a pretty pathetic complaint. But Ellie couldn’t bring herself to utter such falsehoods about the people who loved her so much, when the truth was her family made her feel supported without being overbearing.

They respected her boundaries, but were also available and eager to help when she needed them. As hurt as she might feel every time someone dismissed her as a lame loser who wasn’t worth their time or attention, she would feel even worse if she betrayed her family. She would have to keep their wonderful personalities a secret.

“You just like to brag,” they would say about her. “There’s no way they’re so great, they must be horrible somehow. Even if it seems like they love you, a part of them inside must hate you. No one has children because they’re happy. All parents are miserable failures who try to foist their shattered dreams onto their children. They don’t care about what you want.”

But they would be wrong about Ellie’s parents. Both her mothers were outspoken feminists who met while advocating for widespread legislative reform. They decided to get married and start a family together on the day the Equal Rights Amendment passed.

They vowed to do everything they could to nurture their children into leaders who could usher in a more fair, equitable, and safe society. They didn’t hide the existence of violence and exploitation from their children. They discussed it frankly, but also emphasized hope and the capacity for things to change and get better in the future.

They affirmed the emotions and distinct personalities of every child, and taught them how to regulate and care for themselves. As a result, there was no air of competition between the siblings. Their home was a pro-social environment. Even when the outside world terrified her, Ellie knew she had at least one reliable pocket of safety with these people.

College Freshman Writing Assignment – Reflection

Prose

Ally Chiu                                                                                                Professor James Polchin

GLS Writing II                                                                                                         11 March 2010

Reflective Letter

This essay was a struggle for me, as I imagine it was for many people. As an adolescent in college, I feel that I am still attempting to discover myself. Although I do hold beliefs and convictions, I don’t believe they have been challenged enough because they haven’t really been exposed to the world yet. This, I believe, has made it difficult to articulate the reasons why I believe in certain things, and to further convince others that they should believe the same. If I don’t have a thorough understanding of something, how can I persuade you that it’s right and infallible? It’s just not convincing.

The lack of motivation for this assignment has made the writing process extremely tedious and painful. I found myself procrastinating for endless hours to avoid working on the draft, and after a certain point, each sentence had to be squeezed out with enormous difficulty. This may have affected the flow and readability of the essay. I find that it’s easier to formulate a cohesive and focused argument if more of it has been composed in one sitting. During the revision process, I tried to improve the flow and structure of the piece.

I chose to write this letter to my father. This presented a different challenge for me because it’s difficult for a child to criticize her parents, especially since I admire my father so much. I believe I owe much of my way of thinking to him. I feel like he’s opened up my mind about the world and encouraged an attitude that makes it possible for me to be understanding and accepting toward others. Who can fault a man like that? It feels audacious and pretentious of me to find fault with someone to whom I owe my life. And as my father’s daughter, I believe that this has made me blind to his faults for a very long time. Now that I’ve grown up a bit more and moved away from home, I can adopt a more impartial attitude in regarding my parents and their idiosyncrasies, though never entirely so. Human nature ordains that it is infinitely easier to point out the faults of others than to identify these faults within ourselves. This is why people can be unconsciously guilty of hypocrisy, and why they can belittle other individuals, races, cultures, or nationalities of something while they are just as liable to the same. 

The nature of my father’s criticisms of me was not academic. My parents did not put any pressure on me to do well in school. For the most part, my father would analyze shortcomings in my personality and urge me to correct them. Regarding this aspect, it’s difficult to determine how effective his methods were. I don’t think I’m a reliable judge to gauge this sort of improvement, but I don’t think it was the best method to approach the problem. 

It’s a fine line to tread between directed and open. Part of the difficulty of this assignment is that it must develop some sort of significance outside of the events I describe that transpired between me and my father. My father is supposed to be representative of some larger audience, some abstract group of people who I’m actually addressing, even while my father’s name is the one printed at the top of the page. In order to achieve this, I must be able to differentiate which qualities are unique to my father, and the characteristics that my father and this larger group of people share. These shared characteristics are the ones that truly need to be questioned and refuted. However, my father is a man who has been shaped by his own past and experiences. He’s been molded by the places he’s lived in and by the culture that he’s been immersed in. Part of my father’s attitude that I critique in my essay has some sort of cultural basis or foundation, but I believe it would be presumptuous to assume that it is a phenomenon unique only to the Chinese or merely to Confucian cultures. I am not simply issuing a dispute against all oppressive Asian parents, but rather refuting the idea that learning and education necessarily has to be attached to negative feedback or crippling pressure to reap profit. I wanted this essay to be less of a critique on my father’s parenting skills (because I don’t believe my siblings and I grew up to be terrible people) and more of a query about the ideas that governed his parenting. I had to learn to separate my personal narration to a specific individual, my father, to be able to open up my argument to a universal level.