01 Sep

Nonfiction: A Cheeseburger and Pickles

Keiko Amano

I came to the U.S. for the first time in June 1970.  I wished I would be able to speak English in no time.  I was nineteen.  Shortly after, I attended Palomar Junior College in San Marcos.  The following is an excerpt from one of my stories.  This day, I was in the cafeteria waiting for my turn to place an order.

“Next!  What would you like, young lady?” a waitress says to me, holding a yellow pencil in her left hand.

“Hamburger and 7-up, please,” I say.

“Would you like a hamburger or a cheeseburger?” she says with a broad smile.

The waitress looks like Alice, the housekeeper of the Brady Bunch.  Over the counter, a male cook picks up a stainless-steel spatula and turns over hamburger patties.  A sizzling sound echoes.  He puts a piece of bright yellow cheese on top of each patty.  They look yummy.  Those hamburgers probably come with cheese or without cheese.

“Hamburger and cheese and 7-up, please,” I say.

“Do you want a hamburger or cheeseburger?” she says looking into my eye.

I pursed my lips.  My heart begins pounding.   I don’t turn back, but people are behind me.   I have to hurry up.  Maybe I should use the word “with” instead of “and” because a piece of cheese will melt and stick with a patty like a mother holding her child’s hand.

“Hamburger with cheese, please,” I say.

“Do you want a hamburger?” the waitress says making her chin double.

People must be staring at me.

“A cheeseburger?” she says without changing her tone.

“Yes.”

I wonder what difference a cheeseburger and a hamburger with cheese make.  I can recognize burger and cheeseburger as a pair, and hamburger and cheesehamburger can also be a pair, but the pair of hamburger and cheeseburger throws me off.  I used to think English was logical.  Maybe her mind works in a different way because she is left handed.  I hadn’t had any friends or acquaintances that used their left hand except my grandfather.  My grandfather used a pair of scissors with his left hand and wrote using his right hand.

“What would you like to drink, dear?” the waitress says.

“7-up, please,” I say.

“What?” she says.

“7-up,” I say louder.

“Coke?”

“Yes.”

I wish I would be able to pronounce 7-up like Americans.   I’m disappointed and frustrated, but I don’t know what to do about it.

The scene above happened almost 40 years ago.  The following scene is from March 2009 at the Subway restaurant in San Dimas.  I made an order for a six-inch combo with Italian herb bread.

“No pickles, please,” I say to the young worker.

“Would you like jalapeños?” she says to me.

“No, no jalapeño, please,” I say.

“Would you like pepperchinos?” she says picking up a few strips of yellow pickles.  She almost drops them on my sandwich.

“No, no.  No pickles, please.”

She drops the yellow strips back to the container.  I had the similar conversation at the place every time I went in to place my order.  I chatted with most of the workers there.  They recognized my face but not my preference for no pickles.  One day, I went there late.  I was the only customer.  I thought this was a good opportunity to explain myself if they asked me about pickles again.

“You don’t like pickles, do you?” another worker says to me with a smile.

“I love pickles, but lately I can’t eat too sour foods.  It bothers my skin,” I say. “Please, no pickles.”

“Okay,” he says, smiling.  “Do you want jalapeños?  Jalapeño is not pickles.”

“No jalapeño.  Pickles mean processed vegetables with either salted water or vinegar,” I say and point to the bin of fresh cucumbers, “That’s fresh cucumber slices, but the other is pickled cucumber.  You know what I mean?  Those jalapeños or pepperchinos are also pickles.”

We went into more detail about pickles, and we burst into laughing.  We began using the word “family.”  The family of pickles.  I thought I finally achieved my goal in our communication.  I was happy.

But life is not easy.  My next visit there, my situation went back to the way it used to be.  A server asked me about pickles again.

Going back to cheeseburger, to me, the word connects to a brilliant comedian, John Belushi.  In the television program “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” he played a cheeseburger cook.  He shouted, “Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger!” no matter what customers, other cooks, or waitresses said.  I love those sketches and the character.

Almost forty years has passed since my cheeseburger incident.  My language development was long and slow, but I thought I made my progress.  But the pickle incident sent me back to my original question.  How do native English speakers think behind their words?  It is still a mystery.

11 Aug

Meet the Editors: Charlotte San Juan

reclusegirlBelow is an interview with Charlotte San Juan, Poetry Editor for East Jasmine Review.

  1. How do you decide to accept or reject a piece? For poetry, the last line can’t suck. If you have two or three great lines but your ending falls off, it’s like you’re deflating a balloon in my face. Also, I’ve been taught to detest the bullet-spray of adverbs and obvious rhymes. I admire a writer who tinkers with unconventional imagery and language to convey something, even if it’s just a small something.
  2. How long do you usually spend with a piece before you decide? I give each piece 2-3 read-throughs if possible before deciding. Sometimes one read is all it takes to know if I love it or not, but I’ve had a ‘maybe’ poem grow a bit on me after another read.
  3. What is your favorite piece from East Jasmine Review? I like a piece of all the pieces.
  4. What is your vision for East Jasmine? To read through it and say, “Yeah, I stand by all of this work.” To be consistently surprised by the quality, regardless of the author’s background.
  5. What is your favorite publication (excluding ours!)?I don’t play favorites, but some great ones are Carnival, Cadence Collective and Washing Machine Press (currently on hiatus).
  6. What is your favorite poem? “Any fool can get into an ocean…” by Jack Spicer
  7. What project(s) are you working on now? I’m working on a poetry chapbook that has much to do with traveling.  I’m also working on a collection of hopeful non-fiction pieces, but it’s still super secret. Even to me.
  8. Do you have a writing schedule? How do you write? Back when I was a kid, I was able to write for hours at a time because I wasn’t afraid of anything. Now I sit down and have anxiety attacks over finishing one poem. What I’m trying to say is, I get the most done between 1-4am, sober or not.
  9. Name someone influential in your writing life. John Brantingham, author of hundreds of poems, stories and essays published in the US and UK.  Without this bearded man’s guidance, I would never have had the courage or know-how to submit my work anywhere. I’m not only a better writer because of him, but I’m also published and a tad more sarcastic.
  10. What is one thing you always get on a hamburger/sandwich? Pickles, unless we’re talking pb&j.
  11. What is your favorite, unusually-named color? Shame.
  12. Cat or dog, or other furry-creature person? Cats and ferrets. I’ve never had either of those hump anything in front of me.
  13. What are your three favorite TV shows, airing or not airing? Breaking Bad, the seasons of which I finished watching illegally in China. Arrested Development and Parks and Recreation, because I have go-to people that watch them with me, and I get tired of laughing alone.
  14. What is your Harry Potter House or Game of Thrones House? Slytherin, for Harry Potter. I think I’m the only person who hasn’t watched Game of Thrones yet.
  15. Which well-known personality is your spirit animal? Does Thom Yorke count as a spirit animal?
16 Jul

Poetry: 6 études for Chopin

Stephanie Barbé Hammer

1.
whatever you want to say about Chopin —
he was gay or he wasn’t or he just didn’t
do sex because he was too frail —
he made his best work at George Sand’s house;
he sat at the piano at her place in Nohant
and the notes fell out of him, they streamed
down the staircase
as painters and prostitutes drank their tea.

2.
I can hear the music, Delacroix said. I can hear
him practicing. D. painted in the library while
in another room George Sand was writing
those terrible potboilers to keep the house paid for and the
food coming in – she was the guy in this gang, in
case you didn’t know that, the person making the money
and sweating the cash flow —
and there was the 19th century unspooling all around them with
its uprising disappointments its flags and
flaneurs — so

3.
when you think of love and when you think of revolution
relaxing romanticism sex and death
you have to think about his notes spilling out through her salon doors
leaking down through the roof and windows — impossible
fantastical
progressions

4.
for example, the Polonaise in A flat major – the “heroic” —
Chopin wrote it in Nohant
how ridiculously hard it is
to play
yet he threw it together like it was nothing, performing it
just for friends –
(he hated big audiences [he was shy]).

5.
there he is upstairs: that queer (?) going-to-die-young genius
doing things with the piano that no one has ever even thought to do –
so incredible that people hear the work online now and do wild
runs up and down the
scales of their emotions, texting
I love it what is it, who’s chopin and what’s a polonaise? an instrument or a song or what? it makes me do my homework. it makes me have an orgasm, I listen to it over and over again – it makes me so happy –
all coming from that house in Nohant.

6.
That’s when you realize that
genius is about the people who take care of you:
you can make anything
tackle anything –
the hardest art is a pleasure if you’re upstairs from your friends and lovers
knowing they are listening
but not too hard, not expecting, making their own
explorations
while some beloved person – just as creative —
sits at a desk churns out words
pays the bills.

10461470_10152478785294720_6406735845484478127_nStephanie Barbé Hammer has published fiction in The Bellevue Literary Review, Pearl, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. A 4-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, she also writes poetry; her 2014 collection, How Formal? is available from Spout Hill Press.

 

 

Purchase the issue here: http://eastjasminereview.com/issues/issues/volume-2-issue-1/

26 Jun

Submissions Open For Volume 2, Issue 2

Submissions are open for Volume 2, Issue 2! Please check out our new submission guidelines.

  • We publish fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.
  • We are especially looking for quality creative nonfiction.
  • We also publish reviews and articles about writing.
East Jasmine Review Cover Vol. 2 Issue 1

Cover: Volume 2, Issue 1

If you haven’t had a chance to read Volume 2, Issue 1, it is a fantastic issue!

“It’s been a long time coming for this issue. Because the Mt. San Antonio College Writer’s Weekend was right at the tail end of our normal submission period, I decided to extend the submission until May 5, about four weeks longer! I think you’ll be excited to read this issue. We have so many good works here. I’m always surprised by the quality and how well each story and poem comes to fit together in each issue.”

25 Jun

Meet the Editors: K. Andrew Turner

K. Andrew TurnerBelow is an “interview” with Editor-in-Chief, K. Andrew Turner. Get to know the Editors of East Jasmine Review!

  1. How do you decide to accept or reject a piece? For fiction, it’s all about the story and characters, and of course competent writing. No matter how excellent a storyline is, without skills, it is simply difficult to read. For poetry, I love lyrical poems and poems that tell stories. If a poem isn’t written well or is too vague in that I can’t “see” it, then I have to pass. For nonfiction, I love insights and lyricalness. Good writing is good, same as all the other genres. I think nonfiction is the easiest to relate to, and I want to relate.
  2. How long do you usually spend with a piece before you decide? Once I start reading, it usually takes me about 1-10 minutes to decide. I’ll often re-read the poem or story or the first parts to refresh my memory, but I generally go with my first impressions.
  3. What is your favorite piece from East Jasmine Review? Oh god! There are so many! I’ll pick one of each. I think my favorite fictional story is “Birch (An Origin Story)” by Emma Silverman from Volume 1, Issue 3. One of the reasons I really like it is the dreamy mood and tone. It’s very fairytale-like in feeling and so image driven. The otherworldly feel is so cool, and so wonderful. I’m not sure if this is my favorite poem, but it is one I certainly enjoy: “Split Tongue” by Shauna Osborn from Volume 1, Issue 2. You can read it/listen to it here. I really think there is something so different about the language contrasts and that’s why it stands out in my mind. For nonfiction, my favorite is “You Have Tried Your Best To Please Everyone, But It Just Isn’t Happening” by Sauvignon Sing from Volume 1, Issue 3. There are some great, poignant moments and humor that mix to form a good story. I’m a big fan!
  4. What is your vision for East Jasmine? I’ve recently update our mission statement. Obviously I’m looking to keep publishing amazingly talented writers. I’m also looking to give a voice to those that traditionally have not had as much access to publication. On top of all that, I believe it is fair to compensate our authors for their hard work. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been able to happen yet. East Jasmine has bills to pay. If only I were rich!
  5. What is your favorite publication (excluding ours!)? Poetry Magazine, American Short Fiction, and Tin House. Three of my favorites! I really need to subscribe again….
  6. What project(s) are you working on now? Oh! So, so many. For my own writing projects, I’m currently editing a gay YA romance, editing a book on Meditation and Writer’s Block that has come from my classes, writing/editing a few online classes that have come from my live teaching, rewriting and world-building in a Science Fantasy book I first wrote years and years ago, and of course my work with East Jasmine. Needless to say, I’m busy!
  7. Do you have a writing schedule? How do you write? Yes and no. I currently have a calendar with specific project goals with one to two writing goals per day. Because I have so many projects at once, I spend on day working on one and another on a different project. So far, it’s been working well. I typically write at home, though I go to two write-ins a week and occasionally sneak out to coffee shops when I’ve got an extra few dollars. I use both keyboard and long hand to write.
  8. Name someone influential in your writing life. John Brantingham. Such a great man. He’s very encouraging to all writers.
  9. What is one thing you always get on a hamburger/sandwich? If I can? Avocado/guacamole and bacon. SO DELICIOUS.
  10. What is your favorite, unusually-named color? I like periwinkle. I also like rutilant (thanks dictionary.com)
  11. Cat or dog, or other furry-creature person? I adore cats. I also like a few dogs. But I think foxes are the cutest thing ever invented.
  12. What are you three favorite TV shows, airing or not airing? Not airing: Sabrina the Teenage Witch (yeeaah), Xena: Warrior Princess (double yeeaah). Airing: Teen Wolf (season 4 is now airing!)
  13. What is your Harry Potter House or Game of Thrones House? Harry Potter house I think would be Hufflepuff, at least that’s what all the quizzes say! As for Game of Thrones? Idk I really like the Starks, but they didn’t do so well. Maybe Tyrell. 🙂
  14. Which well-known personality is your spirit animal? Jenna Marbles (oh how I adore thee).
05 May

Staff Review: The Green of Sunset by John Brantingham

(the following review will also be published in Volume 2, Issue 1)

John Brantingham’s The Green of Sunset is a beautiful collection of prose poetry. Brantingham explores the human psyche to depths we, ourselves, almost refuse to acknowledge until present with truths we prefer to not think about. And that is exactly what he does. Yet he treats each subject and each emotion with the utmost respect and humanity. The only judgment he makes, if any, is on his own follies and we, as readers, can learn to laugh at our own.

The collection is a series of breathless poems, power beyond the measure of each. He explores a wide range of humanity and human experience from youth to loss, people in relation to nature, memory, and even briefly a body swap all with deceptively simple language.

… but I wasn’t afraid because my mother was framed in the back door, calling to me, and that fundamentalist faith I had that as long as she was there even God couldn’t reach out his hand and strike me down for the sins written on my childhood soul.

from “Mythology”

Brantingham is a master of the written word—each choice is deliberate and reflects the meaning of the whole poem and collection, building into a crescendo for each ending. There are no punches pulled and nowhere left to hide from confronting his reality—a reality we all know too well. His personal reflections are those we recognize as fleeting moments in our own lives, these deep secrets we try to hide from are brought to life on the page.

Anders is probably the first poet I’ve ever known who distrusts academia and teachers and schools and education in general. …. He tells me about why he didn’t finish high school, about the physics teacher who belittled him in front of his friends. He tells me about how when I was in college, he was bumming his way through Europe, Asia, India, Africa, and South America. …. He’s like so many of the students I’ve seen, feeling like outsiders, being told that they don’t belong.

from “Up Here in Rural Canada”

The Green of Sunset is a collection to turn to at any moment, to read and re-read until the pages are worn. You may or may not find comfort within the book, but you will find parts of you that you didn’t know had wandered off.

23 Apr

Mt. San Antonio College 6th Annual Writers’ Weekend

The Mt. SAC Annual Writers’ Weekend is an amazing three-day conference from April 25 to April 27 (Friday through Sunday) at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA.

East Jasmine Review will be attending the Publisher’s Panel on Sunday, April 27 from 10:30 to 11:55 in Building 28, Room 103. Please join us to here about our magazine, what we believe in and to get a chance to sit with our Editor, K. Andrew Turner and talk to him about your work and what you can do to improve it.

Mr. Turner will also be teaching two workshops over the weekend. Friday, April 25 9:30-10:45 Meditation for Writers (Building 26D, Room G431) and Friday, April 25 10:55-12:10 Fiction Workshop – Andrew Turner (Building 26D, Room G431).

This three-day weekend conference IS FREE, plus parking which is $3 a day. This is not an opportunity to be missed, so clear your calendar!