64. 🥴 how do YOU feel? 🥴
thinking about kindness and specificity
Hello, and happy Monday.
I truly can't believe that it is already October, the start of #spookyszn🎃. There's no real signs of fall on the trees near me yet, but I'm hoping that in the coming weeks this will change. I've been taking advantage of the cooler weather by walking more and slowly getting to know my neighborhood. Because I'm not living in Boston, the feeling here is much more residential and quaint, which reminds me a lot of Providence, Rhode Island (where I went to graduate school)! It's been such fun observing the variety of multi-family homes in my neighborhood. I love seeing the colors that people choose for their homes—the combination of paint and trimmings. I recently passed a brick building that had this beautiful tiled mosaic feature. The tile was a brilliant electric blue and covered a good portion of the second floor's exterior. I loved seeing the juxtaposition of the tile's shine with the rusted color of the brick—ahh, I wish I had taken a picture of it!
My neighbor recently pointed out the red-tailed hawk that likes to sit on a telephone pole near our apartment building. He just perches as the smaller birds dive-bomb him, trying to get him to budge. It's quite funny to watch when I'm sitting on my couch and relaxing. 🐦
I hope that you are having a wonderful start to the fall! 🍂
✏️ Still processing.
I'm not going to lie, this week has been a bit rough in terms of my writing practice. We all have our ups and downs, but I think I was definitely feeling the impostor syndrome sink in this week.
In writing this section of the newsletter, I always go back to my process journal entries from the past week and re-read them in an attempt to see the patterns of my thinking and reflection. One thing that I found especially interesting how my subconscious reflected these feelings.
Last week, I shared my writing prompts with you as I prepare for and conclude my writing sessions. As a tactic to organize my thoughts, I write these questions out every day in my process journal and answer them underneath. Last week, I wrote, "How do I feel about my writing?" as a way of beginning my reflection time. This week, however, I wrote "How do you feel?" at the start of every session. In reading my journal back today, I was struck by this grammatical shift. It felt as though my mind was subconsciously detatching from the writing and my feelings about it. The "you"may have reflected my aversion toward these feelings. It's difficult to reckon with knowing that you are not feeling your best as you make steps forward. It's also difficult to write this now, knowing that the writing has not gone how I envisioned it.
I do think that as the week went on, I was able to grapple more clearly with the tasks at hand. I practiced removing the expectation of my writing as "good writing," and began to radically accept it for what it is right now and the potential it has in the future.
One of the most useful things I recognized this week was shifting the way I annotated my dissertation as I re-read it. Because I'm currently trying to revise higher order elements of the book, I made the intention not to do line edits of my writing, but note moments that I wanted to go back to at a later date re: sentence structure, transitions, etc. At the beginning of my revisions, I would end up noting these moments by bracketing the passage, drawing an arrow out to the margins, and writing, "EW." or "GROSS." By the middle of the week, with the help of my process journal, I realized that this was doing me a disservice on two fronts:
This is not a very kind way to talk to past Ida.
I'm not saying WHY it's "ew" or "gross," I'm just saying that it is.
Both were really important for me to realize, but the second point was what allowed me to move in a direction with my annotations that was actually helpful. Rather than making these subjective comments, I turned to making more specific and observant comments. In other words, I was saying the WHY of what was I believed to be the issue. Like: "Define term here and connect more clearly to the following paragraph." Or: "Expand transition here." Or, even simply: "Another word?" Not only was I being more compassionate with myself 💗, but I was also helping future Ida out by reminding her what I actually think is the issue, here. It's a small shift for the week, but one that I think will save me time and heartache in the future.
Another small victory for me was that despite these feelings, I sat down with the intention to write every day. And I wrote every day. Even though it kind of sucked sometimes.
Have you had any small victories lately? Hit reply or leave a comment—I'd love to hear from you! <3
📚 Still reading.
Y'all, I'm sorry (not sorry?), but this week's "Still reading" features a book chapter that I'm pretty pumped about:
Chapter from an Edited Volume:
🚨 FRIENDS. THIS IS MY FIRST PUBLISHED PIECE! 🚨
This past week, I got the proofs for my chapter in an edited volume on Iran and US encounters. A big thank you to Matthew Shannon for asking me to contribute to the anthology. It's such an honor to be featured alongside so many other amazing scholars.
This piece was written after I finished writing my dissertation, and was based on new archival sources I had only just acquired that year. My chapter follows the aftermath of a 1970 takeoover of the Iranian consulate in San Francisco by the Iranian Students Association. Here's the basic argument:
This chapter argues that the case of the forty-one and its aftermath exhibited two dynamics central to Iranian racial formation in the United States. First, these events make a case study for understanding the nascent disciplinary powers that would come to racialize Iranians in the United States after the revolution of 1979. Second, the case of the forty-one shows how Iranian political oppositionists themselves strategized to acquire visibility and solidarity while agitating for political change.
The book will be coming out in November, but if you want to read my chapter in the volume, I'd be happy to send it your way! Just hit reply to let me know!
🌀 Still consuming.
Big thank you to friend and tiny driver reader Tyler B. for the above tweet. Perfection.
If you live in the Bay Area, apply to score a table at the East Bay Zine Fest by October 15 so you can feature your work!
My friend Maj K. sent this article about file directories & search functions to me recently. I really haven't been able to think about the "Spotlight" function the same way since.
This article on "parallel play" as adults was so affirming and lovely to read.
Writing prompts for all kinds of writers.
Apparently, Wikipedia has a list of lists.
📖 Book club corner.
Y'all, get ready for quite the announcement! For October's tiny driver book club, we will be reading selections from Yanyi's The Reading and be joined by Yanyi himself!
If you don't know about Yanyi or his amazing newsletter, The Reading, let me be the first to tell you that his words have been the fodder for much of my own conceptualization of what it means to be a writer. Yanyi himself is a poet. He is the author of Dream of the Divided Field (One World Random House, forthcoming 2022) and The Year of Blue Water (Yale University Press 2019), winner of the 2018 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. His newsletter, The Reading, is a creative writing advice column. Once a month, he answers a reader letter about writing and the creative process.
I've been such a fan of Yanyi's work for so long, so it is quite the honor to have him join us for this very special book club! Folks who sign up for the book club will get a GDrive link with a curated selection of pieces from The Reading in the registration confirmation email.
Here’s the event info:
Date & Time: Monday, October 25 @ 5PM PST/8PM EST
Suggested donation (for those able to donate): $3-20 through Paypal or Venmo (@idyalz)
🐶 A pup-date.
Something I love about Girlie is that she is always down to sleep and snuggle with humans. My favorite moments are when she looks at me with those eyes! Who couldn't help but scoop her up and give her a little cuddle after seeing that look on her face!
As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!