My parenting essay “The iPad Wars” has been picked up by the online StoryHouse Writers’ Showcase of The Preservation Foundation, a literary non-profit which has been “preserving the extraordinary stories of ‘ordinary’ people” since 1976.” It originally appeared in print in the 2018 issue of The Citadel, the literary journal published at Los Angeles City College.
As I explain in the preface to the online version:
I am a father of two teenage daughters: one just graduated high school, the other still has two more years to go. Over the last few years, I’ve been watching with amazement and trepidation their transformation from adorable kids into assertive young women, a challenging journey of growth for them, but also for my partner and me. In this story, I recount one such experience.
We started in a circle, hands in gassho, chanting “mu.” The sound first vibrated throughout my skull, like an inner bell inviting me to turn inwards, and then, when shared by a group of 30, it turned into a spontaneous vibration rising up to the morning sky . . .
In April 2022, I took part in a pilgrimage walk from Zen Center Los Angeles to Dharma Vijaya, a Sri Lankan Buddhist vihara (temple), a 5-mile roundtrip hike through the heart of urban LA. What started afterwards as an individual article turned into a rich, collaborative piece in the current issue ofWater Wheel, ZCLA’s quarterly, reflecting on the walk and the important lessons I learned from it.
Zen Center LA is a very dear place for me. I’ve learned so much about meditation practice and Buddhist values there and took classes there to prepare to receive jukai, a lay ordination in the Soto Zen tradition in 2016. I am continuing to learn, and every meditative practice or exercise, like this pilgrimage walk, is both a reminder to see the world as it is, and live your life accordingly.
You can view the article here. And copied below are some more pictures from the walk.
So glad for the opportunity to share the experience of watching our first child graduate from high school – a new frontier for gay families – with Family Equality supporters. I can’t praise enough the work this organization does to protect and advance the rights of gay families in every state of this country.
Students in my ESL writing classes are often confused by the indirect terms we use to address sensitive issues. Here is a handout I put together for them to introduce them, in simple terms, to some out of the many euphemisms we use.
Americans teach their children: “If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all.” But what do you say when you need to mention something that isn’t nice, for example, unemployment or death?
Euphemisms are special words or phrases we use to refer to sensitive subjects, for example, death, unemployment, physicial appearance, or race. Some examples of euphemisms are copied below. You can see more examples, including those concerning sex and bodily functions here (Links to an external site.).
Appearance and Behavior
fat => big-boned, a bit overweight, a big man, a curvy woman
short => petite
odd or weird => special
he lies => he doesn’t always tell the truth; has vivid imagination
late => running a little behind
pushy/aggressive => assertive
bossy => outspoken
pregnant => with child, in a family way
sick/ill => under the weather
not here => unavailable
rude => highly strung, inappropriate
teenager behaving badly => a precocious teenager
blind => visually impaired, can’t see very well
deaf => hard of hearing, can’t hear very well
physically disabled => differently abled
crazy/mad => developmentally disabled; has a mental disability
autistic => to be on the [autistic] spectrum
neurodivergent means “differing in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal; frequently used with reference to autistic spectrum disorders” (Oxford Dictionary)
died => passed away
dead (adj.) => resting in peace / no longer with us
dead (adj.) relative => my late grandmother
euthanizing a sick, old pet => put to sleep
cheap (cost) => economical
cheap (person who likes to save money) => frugal, thrifty
past-due bill => outstanding payment
poor => economically disadvantaged, low-income
rich => wealthy, well-off
poor country => developing country
fired from the job => they had to let her go; the company downsized; her position was eliminated; she left the company
unemployed => he is between jobs; pursuing other opportunities; considering options
jail/prison => correctional facility
a low-paid job => an entry-level job
supporting abortion => pro-choice
against abortion => pro-life
5 races, as definied by the federal government
African American / Black
Native American (not OK to say American Indian)
White = Caucasian
Pacific Islander – someone from the Philippines, Tonga, Samoa, Hawai’i, and so on
Hispanic, Latino (m) / Latina (f) / Latinx (both m + f)
Luis is from Mexico -> white / Hispanic
Omar is from Dominican Republic – black / Hispanic
Eva is from Poland: white / non-Hispanic
Chicano = Mexican American born in the US
Nationality = citizenship
Ethnicity = belonging to a certain ethnic group of people
Sometimes they are the same, but often different. For example, Sarkis is Armenian, born and raised in Syria. He has a Syrian passport. His ethnicity: Armenian; his nationality: Syrian. If he becomes a US citizen, then his ethnicity will remain Armenian, but his nationality will become American.
Founded in 1909, California Writers Club is one of the nation’s oldest professional clubs for writers. With 22 branches throughout the state offering workshops, contests, and conferences, CWC “is dedicated to educating writers of all levels and disciplines in the craft of writing and in the marketing of their work.” It’s my second time getting published in it.
The Citadel, a long-running literary journal in the English/ESL department of Los Angeles City College where I teach, is seeking submissions for its annual issue from the writers near and far. It’s an excellent opportunity to get published and connect to readers and other writers.
Note that there is a $10 reading fee for all submissions, except those made by LACC students. All proceeds from the reading fees go towards the printing of the magazine and LACC student writing contest prizes, and the editorial board and readers work for free.
Click on the icon below to view the submission guidelines.
#AWP22 was a swirl of activities as the literary world is emerging from the downtime of the pandemic. What a difference from the last live AWP convention, March 2020 in San Antonio, the so-called #AWPocalypse of 2020 – a conference on the edge of a world shutting down, which I wrote about for the California Writing Club.
This gathering in the beautiful, historic downtown Philadelphia was pretty much back to business as usual. AWP (Association of Writers and Writers Programs) conventions do a great job putting writers together with one another, presses, agents, literary journals. I always have a hard time deciding which panel or talk to attend as so many happen at the same time.
One of my personal highlights at AWP 2022 was reading the essay “Christmas Dreidels,” excerpted from my yet-to-be-published memoir A Family, Maybe and published recently in Citadel, at the AWP Two-Year College Creative Writing Caucus offsite literary reading at Community College of Philadelphia on 3/25/22. So thankful to be part of this warm, supportive group of teaching writers.
“Where Every Voice Matters: Community College Literary Journal Showcase” was an AWP 2022 panel I organized and moderated the morning after the reading. Together, we explored strategies to engage underrepresented writers and help them grow in the literary world, read samples of student writing from our journals, and discussed new ways to produce and publicize these publications. So many ideas; such great questions from the audience. Stay tuned for a summary of these ideas in my upcoming blog post for AWP Two-Year College Creative Writing Caucus.
Glad to share my firsthand experience and research into foster/adoption policies and history on Adoption.com, the world’s largest adoption website and adoptive parent platform. I hope it will make a useful guide for prospective foster/adoptive parents. Wish I’d known all of this going into the fost/adopt process years ago!
When considering adopting kids from foster care, prospective parents are usually concerned about childproofing their home, and completing the required classes and background checks.. . . What they might not be as well aware of is the complex legal landscape they are about to enter. This article, written by a foster/adoptive parent, presents an overview of public opinions, legal viewpoints, and legislative mandates which have shaped child welfare policies today. . .
Writing this article provided a deeply gratifying opportunity to share my personal experience as a foster/adoptive parent. And publishing it was a tremendously helpful experience of growth for me as a writer, a culmination of 6 months of intensive collaboration with a professional online content editor. Take a look!
Bay Windows, Boston-based LGBTQ newspaper and news site, appoached me asking to reprint “Raising Them to Be Strong: A Gay Dad’s Reflections on Parenting Daughters,” my Father’s Day article published earlier this year by Family Equality, the nationwide gay family advocacy organization. I gladly said yes and am delighted to see it both on the cover of the Oct. 7 issue of Bay Windows and online. The photo credit goes to Dakota Fine.
The upcoming #AWP22 (Philadelphia) has accepted my panel proposal for Where Every Voice Matters: Community College Literary Journal Showcase. I am thrilled to moderate a panel with such accomplished writers/teachers as Maria Frances Brandt, Joe Baumann, Omar Figueras, and Magin LaSov Gregg.
#AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) – a carnival, a marathon, a trade fair – is the largest literary conference in the US. I moderated a panel and participated on a second one at the last live AWP convention – in 2020 in San Antonio. And wrote about it too for California Writers‘ Club.
What we are going to present and discuss this time is the following:
Community college literary journals offer new and emerging writers, many of minority and underrepresented backgrounds, unparalleled access to publishing their first works, learning about journal design and production, and the literary world at large. Panelists from around the country (California, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New York) will share strategies to engage community college students and other writers from local communities in practices of the literary marketplace and the nuts-and-bolts of running different journals. BIPOC, LGBTQ, and other underrepresented communities constitute a large segment and often a majority of student population on community college campuses today. For these students, the college journal is often the first opportunity to share their stories. The showcase will present a variety of formats in which journals are published – print, online, podcast, and even hand-sewn – along with the journal-related courses, contests, conferences, and other modalities for nurturing these new voices.