A Week on Mars

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Jaunuary 11 – January 17

He was the first one to tell me David Bowie passed away.

It was around 9 at night and I didn’t go to bed until 1 AM. Just wow, so soon– one of the greatest and glamorous living music icons was gone.

The two songs I love from the late musician were “Golden Years” and “Life on Mars.” I discovered David Bowie because of the former– and I’d discovered that song the same way I discovered Heath Ledger: A Knight’s Tale. The ballroom scene set in in 15th Century London threw everything I’d known about period films out the window. Dancing to an upbeat disco-esque hit?? It’s not a new idea; it’s up against the party scene of Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby or almost every second of Marie Antoinette.

“Life on Mars” I’d heard a few times before. It was the first song I listened to when I looked up David Bowie anything to start playing.

And now, as I listened, it hit me that there was something hard and cold and discomforting about right now. I was on planet Earth. And it is a cruel, ungodly being on which we inhabit.

You can’t escape this place that you’re chained to, bounded by gravity and limited by the toxic air you breathe. Bearing the simple gift of life deems an existence of debt in which to pay for it. This was the week to suddenly fall back to this Earth when one’s head has been looking up to the stars, and it’s so easy to do so in San Francisco. But here, paychecks get screwed up and Saturday night plans get cancelled Saturday morning on the one time you don’t wake up hungover. The biggest debt and disappointment to be had of course, is that life on Earth has an end. It ends for all of us, be it myself, that dive bar on Geary Boulevard that every future USF alum will never know, rock star extraordinaire, or unforgettable actor whose confession for “Always” on the screen will at least live on and give his fans comfort– for always at least lasts forever than forever itself.

2016 is off to a somber start. Life is fleeting and as much as I’d like to be out on these streets living it, I’m stuck inside my studio enjoying the comforts of tea and a space heater and fake white roses to cheer up my spirits. Constant comforts, free things. Your paycheck gets screwed up and you can’t do much and it’s nothing really– just a sickening part of reality that is in no way perfect and cannot be avoided like the many other setbacks we’ve seen this week.

But dreams– there’s no trying them down, for reality is nothing without them. At least when you’re chained to reality there’s dreaming for life beyond, the hope for the stars, the hope that keeps you living. And him– who brought me down to Earth unintentionally– I forgive you. I’d like to think that there, wherever he ends up, and if I end up being there too, that’s life on Mars and it’s always something to dream about.

Just Don’t

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January 4 – January 10

It’s not just another new week by the San Francisco Bay for me– it’s a new week in a NEW year, and the first one. Back in the city, back to work, back to an apartment devoid of all things that had any trace of December festivities (except for my front hallway; simply have no clue as to where to put the tree and boxes of Christmas decor)– and we begin again.

The world sees every coming year as a new chance, a start over; in fact it’s just a rollover for most whose current situations aren’t quite things you can wipe clean. A new baby, health issues, life in prison without parole. Instead of motioning for a piece that details all the glitz and glory behind whatever resolutions I thought of making for the year, I won’t. I’d rather deduce things that you ought to not do coming into the New Year.

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They are:

JUST DON’T assume a new office floor is going to be sucky. Your desk could be right near the kitchen to see when Zerocater comes by and when your eyes need a break from the computer screen, you get to look out the window to the Transamerica Pyramid. Also, candy bar DIBS.

JUST DON’T forget $10 headphones are cheap for a reason. They won’t last before the new year even begins.

JUST DON’T assume you won’t like a song recommendation from an ex. Yeah your music choices may not have always aligned but there’s going to be a halfway point somewhere. Just can’t shake off the Struts right now– especially not since their drummer liked one of my Instagram photos.

JUST DON’T trust apps like the weather on Galaxy 6 or Next Bus. It will end up raining and the bus will finally show up 20 minutes after you thought it would as you race down the hill to not miss it.

JUST DON’T assume a bus is always going to roll around. Check Next Bus.

JUST DON’T freak out that a bus route has changed within the last two years since you got on it. Looking for an adventure isn’t hard in San Francisco. Just like that, the Presidio and Palace of Fine Arts. And on that note, just don’t forget your Instax Mini if you got one. Adventures don’t happen in this day and age if you don’t photograph it.

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JUST DON’T refuse cake at a party. Your stomach is a magical creature accommodating whatever sweet is laid before it no matter how late LATE in the evening. Just don’t forget the name of the bakery from where it came.

JUST DON’T not buy into the hype. Everyone’s been right about Making a Murderer. The best way to savor the show is by binging on Chinese food in a big bed with friends and crying out at the disgust of Manitowoc County every five minutes.

JUST DON’T get into talks with people, especially if they’re 3,000 miles away. Only do so if you’ve known them for a year and have established they are not a catfish and if they too are a traceable, credible writer across the internet. If they become a cool person whom you can talk to more that just over writing/blog collaborations, talk to as you sit on a wet bench in the Marina while your hands turn purple from the cold or in the dark of your studio clutching a hot mug of peach tea waiting for them to respond, or right there by your side at the desk of the new office floor you thought you’d hate, then you’re doing it right. Talk to them. Just don’t forget to be as honest as you can be about the whole situation especially since life is uncertain, life is rocky. Life builds between the best friendships the worst obstacles that are in fact the simplest, like 3,000 FUCKING miles. You’ll be better if you just take the situation for what it is and just be happy to discover another awesome and compatible soul who’s accepting of your strange existence.

And just don’t think the worst when someone tells you DON’T. Sometimes not doing something will be the first best thing you can start this new year off with.

Stories by the Bay: Read my Early Fiction on Blurb!

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I’m excited to share with you something I have half forgotten and half refrained from talking about because well, we’ve all been there as writers when there’s particular early work we’re not quite proud of.

But, at one time, I sure was. There was a time when I thought my fiction was good enough, enough to give it a try and self publish them on the incredibly genius POD platform Blurb.com. Blurb is my favorite domain, and other writers I know swear by it thanks to its easy-to-navigate design software and print process. I gave it a shot, and just like that– I was published.

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Excerpt from Window Shopping, “Albany”
Sacred Grounds Word Night
Sacred Grounds Cafe, 2013

These short stories and experimental prose from my early days of writing are still for sale on Blurb! When the Fog Clears is a collection of seven full short stories about youth in the SF Bay Area, and Window Shopping, a variety of short and long prose on more of the same. These were works that I worked on in late 2010 and most of 2011 in an unforgiving time in my life. During that time I was out of college to help with my ill grandfather and I had plenty of downtime. These stories, and completed by new ones written once returning to school and the San Francisco cityscape, were often the same ones I read at Sunday night Word Nights thrown by the USF English Department at Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse or The Poet’s Gallery in North Beach. Within these books, with all their awkward syntax and wordiness and even design layout that seems a little bit off, it’s still all a part of what I’ve accomplished as a writer; a reminder that what I love to do I don’t do well and there is still plenty of time ahead– especially in this new year– for me to grow.

Window Shopping

If you’re up for the challenge, check out my books here on Blurb! I’ve also included a new page tab at the top of my blog for you all to check out anytime.

When the Fog Clears (2011) by Paris Kim

Window Shopping (2011) by Paris Kim

I thank my readers for their support and genuine interest. Here’s to hoping my early works don’t scare you away!


When the Fog Clears