Clinging to the Past

Entry #13 – March 7, 2017

Dear Kath,

As evidenced by the fact that I started writing to you again with this series of thoughts, you’ve been on my mind a lot recently. When I was tasked with writing my first major short story for a creative writing class, my thoughts turned to recent reflections on my past and to my last four years in high school. Considering the viewpoints I held then and those I hold now, I wrote a heavily fictionalized and dramatized account of one memory of mine from those last four years.

You naturally played a role in that story. Of course you did, you were my best friend in the past four years. Thinking a lot about my actions then gave me insights into how badly I had messed up and a lot about how I’d become so misguided in the past two or three years. Insights and revelations turned into a fresh new regret and a terrible nostalgia. And thinking turned into journaling where I addressed you. Later, as I began having assorted thoughts, different arguments and such that I would normally have sent to you all those years ago, the idea for this series of reflections was born.

I hope it’s accomplished its goal – to amuse and intellectually engage you with several different arguments, to show you where I am now mentally if you ever wondered what became of me (I don’t ever expect you to), and to show you that I’m still not great or fantastic, but that I’m always going to try to improve myself. I’m going to be better. I swear.

This, in case you haven’t realized by now, is where I bring this little series to a close. This is me moving forward, owning my fault and my blame and letting go. I’m sorry about everything, and I’m sorry for being selfish and narcissistic in writing this as a catharsis and using my memory of you to reflect on myself. I’m not even sure if this series or my actions even impacts you, but if it ever does, you have my apologies.

When I embarked upon these essays, a friend of mine asked me if I wouldn’t be better off and if it wouldn’t be healthier to talk to a real person about my internal debates and about my personal opinions and just talking about all the different pieces of my life. And they are right, of course. I’ll be working on communicating better in the future.

Thirteen seems like a solid number to leave off, doesn’t it? I like it. It’s a good number.

A proper goodbye is in order then. Because in these twelve letters, I never said thank you. I said thank you a lot when I was sickeningly saccharine but really. Thank you. You were a true friend during a time where I felt truly, absolutely alone and frustrated and I will never, ever forget how lucky I was to have that.

In retrospect, many of my past friendships were toxic and discouraging. I hope that, in turn, I will not forget neither this one nor any of the other people who were truly positive influences on my life.

I still feel very, very lost and unsure of myself, but I feel like I’m closer to gaining some footing and sense than I have been in a long, long time.

So thank you.

I hope that if these ever reach you, or if you ever happen to read them by chance, that they find you well, happy and healthy.

And I hope that to this day, you remain true to who you are.

Goodbye, old friend. Take care of yourself.


A “B” is not a bad grade.

Entry #12 – March 5, 2017

Dear Kath,


I wrote a letter to my sister today. She’s been struggling with writing so every now and again, my parents call me in to intervene, read things over, give her revisions and tips on her essays like a good Korean brother would do (What’s that supposed to mean, you would ask, and I would respond with some vague hint about how my mother told me about how all the other Asian kids with older siblings tend to mysteriously perform better and get higher scores). And my revisions can get extensive- or very time consuming when I try not to be extensive and I scale back or overlook casual mistakes.

But I digress. The letter. The letter goes into detail about the many trends I’ve noticed in the writing- the long and rambling sentences (huh that sounds like me), the repetitive nature of the different argument paragraphs (huh that sounds like this series), and the generally unconvincing/unoriginal/done-before-and-come-back-for-tea arguments of the essays (oh my God I’ve been a terrible writer this whole time send help pls).

Putting aside all that, I tried to encourage her. To tell her that everyone starts off bad at something, and it is only through learning and growth that they do better. As much as our parents strove for perfection, it’s not something that can be attained immediately, it involves practice and effort. I said that she shouldn’t be ashamed of a B – that a B is not a failing grade.

It’s a solid start. Now keep pushing.”

I sounded like you for a little bit there. Mind you, you were a bit more flamboyant (I think that’s the word) about it, telling me that “For this reason, I demand your self-confidence be as high as that of the male-attracting sluts at your school, the jocks, the academics, and the richest of them in your class.”

I just wonder if you realize how hard your demand was/is to fulfill- especially since there’s plenty of self-loathing wallowing in me, alongside the arrogance and the narcissism in a potion of hormones and stupidity.

…I could go into more detail about this, but maybe that’s for another time.

The point stands- and it’s something I pass onto you, the readers. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. When you have an aspiration, you’re probably not going to start out being fantastic at it. Do not let that discourage you.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Cheers, and thanks for listening.


The New Question

Entry #11 – March 5, 2017

Dear Kath,

What is at stake?

This is the new question that must imbue each and every piece of work that I create moving forward. What does the audience gain from ever piece of work that I do? What do I contribute to them that they didn’t have before? What is the “so what?

It’s a question I’ve failed to answer before in school essays- the one thing I could never answer- why- what distinguishes your work from the 30 other picture perfect persuasive essays like it? What do I give you that others cannot?

And it’s something that I still don’t quite know how to answer- I’m not entirely satisfied with the answers I have to give.

The thing that defined my high school writing over everyone else’s was (I like to think) the quality of the writing. I threw myself into writing and I worked to be the absolute best, and I like to think that I got the results I did by outshining others- not through pure creativity or talent but just old fashioned skill and hard work.

Now I’m at a uni where people can write just as well as I can, and those people have the advantage of creativity and original thoughts that I fear I am somewhat devoid of. And it brings me back to the question of “so what?” What sets me apart from the others?

Because even if my skill level is still higher than others (I don’t dare to think it is), that doesn’t satisfy me. I seek that originality and that creativity. I strive for it but I have absolutely no idea how to attain it.

I feel like I’ve been expressing this sentiment a lot recently. Sorry if it’s getting a tad bit repetitive.