Monday, May 26, 2014

GUYS, Listen. You Really Should Have Some Girl Friends.

Boy and Girls can be friends too!

And I don't mean girlfriends either (though they are great too), I mean friends that just so happen to be, unavoidably, girls. What I'm saying is, guys, I'm sorry - Men, not only should you have women friends, you need them.

You need a girl friend because we need to get over this backwards friend zone mentality that somehow gives pity to those that we assume are trapped within it, when, in fact, we should all be just thankful that we have a friend in our life, any friend of any sex or race or orientation, because we shouldn't need sex to realize the love we feel for them.

You need a girl friend, you need many girl friends, because the next time a girlfriend dumps you, your girl friends, being girls themselves, will understand probably better than anyone else why you were dumped and, just maybe, you'll grow from that experience instead of becoming needlessly bitter.

Why would you want to escape a friendship?

You need girl friends because then you'll start understanding why that girl on the bus didn't want to talk to you when you were flirting shamelessly with her, and you'll understand why that girl at the bar ignored you entirely, because, wow!, maybe people just want to sit on the bus and read their book sometimes, maybe that girl just wanted a drink with her friend after a bad day at work. Your girl friends will help you realize, with their own horror stories, how constant such attempts really are, how they cherish being left alone, and then your reaction to their avoidance will no longer be, What a bitch. 

"Can't I take the Redline in peace?" 

You need a girl friend in your life, guys. I'm talking to the straight guys, specifically, because you specifically need to understand. When you've had a girl friend long enough, you'll stop calling girls whores or saying that they're asking for it. You may even give up leering. You'll even find that you've stopped slut-shaming entirely. When one of your guy friends treats a girl like dirt, in either a passive or overtly cruel way, it will give you pause. You'll wonder what is deficient within his own character instead of giving him that enthusiastic high five he expects for putting a woman in her place.

Not that it will always be easy.

Some of your guy friends may ask you when you will have sex with your girl friend or your other girl friend or why haven't you attempted to sleep with that one girl friend because they are so sure that she wanted to sleep with you. They may attempt to give you tips on how to sleep with her, thinking that something is wrong with you.

You'll shrug and you'll feel sorry for them, these sad, angry men who seem to be always seething with an unfathomable violence. But then, you'll notice, that many of your other guy friends will have girl friends too, and because it's not a big deal for them, it won't be for you either. You'll just think of all of them, eventually, as friends.

"Hey, you're my friend and I appreciate you in my life!"

Do you understand? You need girl friends because when you meet a woman your first thought shouldn't be, Now how am I going to fuck her? 

You need women friends because Elliot Rodger is not an anomaly. What happened this weekend didn't come out of nowhere, he's not just some crazy kid (people don't work that way). Because when you hear some atrocious statistic about the rate of which women have been sexually assaulted in this country, your reaction should not be, Here we go again, how come men are always the bad guys? 

Instead you'll remember your girl friends and you'll realize that other women are human beings just like them. You'll feel outrage instead of this strange need to be defensive. You'll no longer view everything as men vs. women

It'll just be us (human beings).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Asian Artist Profile: Matthew Salesses

Matthew Salesses is the author of a novel, I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying and the novella, The Last Repatriate. Both books I highly recommend. His newest book, from Thought Catalog, is an essay collection called Different Racisms. It explores the unique racism Asian Americans face, including Jeremy Lin's impact on Asian American representation in national media, America's perception of Psy (Gangnam Style), and the model minority myth. Different Racisms can be found here.

Matthew was kind enough to answer questions about his writing, growing up Asian American, and, yes, sadness. You can find out more about him at his website here, friends.

I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying is a novel told in flash fiction, while The Last Repatriate is a beautifully concise novella. What are the benefits and difficulties of writing short fiction? Especially with taking the short pieces to form a longer narrative, like a novel? 

Each of the chapters in I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying is shorter than a page long. And I suppose, though I hadn't thought about it, The Last Repatriate is made up of many small parts. I've realized recently that this may just be the way I write best, as much as I'd love to write longer extended scenes. When I attempt those scenes, they often work better broken up into parts. I think part of this is that I am working with insight as cause and effect, more so than a longer string of physical action, and insight on the scale of smaller arcs is a lot about suggestion. Real insight is done in conjunction with the reader, or something. I leave a lot out when I'm making leaps or I cut a lot out when I'm really revising. When these small arcs add up, their elisions, as much as what is there, hopefully add up to some larger arc of emotional insight, where the reader is able to make something out of what is missing and feel it on a deeper level than the satisfaction (hopefully) of the resolution of what is there. I am making this up as I go along, though, and perhaps am not explaining myself accurately.

What struck me from reading both I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying, and The Last Repatriate, is a sense of almost indefinable sorrow, something that the characters in the books don't quite have the language to articulate. Even with the humor in these books, there's an underlying sadness that creates a tension, at least for me, that is extremely effecting. This may be too abstract, but can you talk about creating that mood? About writing, capturing, that sadness?  

Sadness--that's interesting. I think, in a way, the sadness is in the level of awareness. What the characters are aware of and what they are not aware of. The disconnect there is a large part of the disconnect in articulation and between fantasy and reality. I'm often writing arcs of denial. But at some level, there's awareness, and that awareness probably creates a sort of unrealized, or mood of, sadness.

Who are some of your favorite writers? What are you reading right now? 

I was just telling someone that I've noticed that so many of favorite writers are Canadian: Michael Ondaatje, Anne Carson, Alice Munro as frontrunners. Some of my favorite storytellers are Japanese: Haruki Murakami and Hayao Miyazaki, especially. Right now, I'm reading and rereading a number of Asian American books for a course I'm supposed to be teaching in the fall. I'm also reading ARCs of forthcoming books, like Kim Sunee's A Mouthful of Stars, and listening to E.M. Forster books on my iPhone.

There was a time that I didn't think there were really any young Asian American writers out there. But I was wrong, I just didn't know where to look! Was it difficult for you to find other Asian American writers? Do you feel like it's getting easier for Asian American writers to get noticed, to be found? 

It was difficult. I hope it has gotten easier with the internet. But I think part of what made it difficult when I was younger was that I didn't even know to look. Or I was afraid or ashamed to. One's school (and maybe one's local library) tell you what books are supposed to be, especially if you grow up in certain parts of the country. There is always someone telling you what books are supposed to be. Perhaps now those voices are more representative, but I suspect they're only very slightly so. There's too much politics to go on with this answer.

How was it like growing up Asian American? How has it affected your writing? 

For me, it was inextricable from growing up as an adoptee. I'm basically always writing about it, now. But there was a long time when I couldn't bring myself to write about it. It's harder for some people to be honest with themselves than it is for others.