A New Short Story and My ~Fancy~ Presskit!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

This week is just a short post because the past few weeks have been a hectic time! But I wanted to celebrate the accomplishments that have happened in that time.

First, I (finally) put together a presskit! It's been a long time in coming and it was actually an enjoyable experience to reflect on all the cool shows and projects I've been a part of. You can see that presskit here.

And second, my short story "To Whom We Return," has come out in TAYO Magazine! It's a little fright, and sitting alongside some of my favorite talented friends in poetry and prose, so be sure to check out the whole issue.

TAYO Issue Seven cover page with artwork of three light-skinned Asian people whose upper bodies are made of building materials.

More to come!

The Week in Bodily Experiences

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

[Image description: summer time at Alki beach with me walking away from the camera into the water in a blue checkered dress and my hands up in my hair -- I'm missing warm weather!]


1. Kicking my heels down against the ground and feeling where my (short) hamstrings actually are while under the guidance of a weight training coach.
2. Exhaling up into downward dog and feeling the tip of my tailbone aching from a chronic injury I’ve had for the past year.
3. Pulling on a jumpsuit in front of the mirror and seeing that the waist seam is uneven – did my body change or was it the clothes?
4. Swimming with my head underwater, I feel the burn in your chest when I’ve pushed out all the air but haven’t yet come up for another breath.
5. Feeling my hair lift up off my shoulders as it shrinks back because of the chlorine.
6. Digging into food with my hands and feeling all of the textures – smooth, gritty, rubbery, firm, mushy, hot.
7. Laughing as I stutter step on skates for the first time after months of being bound to my computer and essentially inert.

Can you tell that I went back to exercising this week? I offer you this list as a little exercise in observation, for you to then use as writing prompts or just to be aware of as you go about your week. If you remember to, take a moment to write down a small detail of your bodily experience this week. I would be curious to read what you found.

Earlier this January, I shared a pastiche piece on stage that collected excerpts of the writing I have done over the past year (alongside the brilliant artist and my middle school friend Jess X Snow!). When I was putting it together, I was worried that two things would happen: I would not have enough writing to put together the set and, even if I did, that they would be totally disjointed.

The first worry turned out to not be a thing – and it’s a super gratifying experience to go through your writer’s notebook months later and think “hey, this doesn’t suck as much as I thought it did” – but I was surprised to find that my second worry also unwound itself fairly quickly. It turns out that my work has revolved more and more around the literal human body and how it holds everything from emotions and trauma to memory and joy. I’m primarily a narrative writer, and so it was interesting to see that those details stood out even when I was reading pieces that were more story or creative nonfiction than performance style.

Since that reading, I have been thinking about “dreaming bigger” with my work – both on stage and off. It feels like I’ve stumbled upon the thread that ties all these pieces together. In the past, when I have had to answer that dreaded question “what is your writing about?” I have gone into long clumsy paragraphs about what this particular project is about and what I’m working on this afternoon. Of course, that will still happen. But I feel like curating these pieces gave me a telescope lens view of what connects all those little scraps. Which is definitely helpful as I look towards tackling the monster beast that is editing my novel draft in the coming months.

But that’s a little later. For now, cheers to figuring out a little tiny (but absurdly important) thing.

I’m also really grateful to announce this week that I have received the Inside/Out Residency with Town Hall Seattle! This means that I’ll be developing performance pieces – also exploring how the body holds trauma and emotional experiences – for the next six months. I’m excited to share that work with you and hope that you will come out and see it!

In 2018, Dedication over Discipline

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


If you live in the Seattle area, I’ll be performing a pastiche piece of works that I’ve written this year at Amplifier Art Lab on Thursday, January 4th at 6pm, alongside my friend and fabulous artist Jess X Snow. Tell us you’re going on Facebook and I hope to see you there!

[Image description: cross-hatched pen drawing on December planner pages of a person with red earrings, wearing a blue headscarf, with eyes closed]

This year, I’m dedicated to:
-        Returning to good body practices and rituals (such as exercise and meal planning)
-        Re-forming a relationship to my interests outside of work (Bangla, tabla, derby, yoga, crafts, etc.)
-        Reconnecting to long distance friends
-        Continuing to pursue all my creative projects, including editing a novel, writing a show, making a new zine, blogging, and drafting new short stories
-        Keep delving deep into vulnerability

The end of 2017 came up fast for me, much faster than I expected. I have a pretty regular seasonal practice of going through my things and clearing out what no longer serves me. It’s always a tug of war between my inner archivist and the part of myself seduced by minimalism. The first one has saved every paper journal since I was 4 years old, and has no plans on changing that. The second – with that first taste of fresh blood – wants to get rid of entire rows of unread books and whole segments of my closet.

As I was assessing things to give away, I also looked back in my notebooks from the course of the year. I was mentally building my list of intentions and guiding lights, which are my preferred terms for “resolutions.” If you look back in my planner for 2017, you’ll see that I made goals and guiding lights every month, right below my accomplishments and celebrations. This year, I saw note after note mentioning “a return to [xyz].” A return to exercise practices. A return to taking vitamins daily. Return to cooking at home and waking up earlier in the morning. Return to playing tabla and having dedicated empty time. All of these things that I had at one point been doing and stopped, for a short time or a long one, and that I hoped to make happen again.

With the coming of the New Year, I sometimes get excited to start doing New Things. Let me just excise all the bad habits and mistakes of the last year and start anew. And particularly in what was a shitty year politically, it is easy for me to be seduced by the idea that if I just get this one little thing right I’ll feel better again and more motivated to take on the world. But most of what I found is that I have already learned what is nourishing to me and there’s nothing really “new” about it. So, if I already knew what I needed, why did 2017 feel so draining?

Because I treated everything on my to-do list with equal weight and worry. Because I had cascading to-do lists that filled up every minute of my time. Because I let perfection be the enemy of good. And when I couldn’t live up to this impossible standard, I felt bad about the things I was leaving aside.
There was another section I found in my planner that I liked a great deal, a note to self that said: “You want to recommit to your practices, but I feel like you’re using routine as a stick to beat yourself with. What are the things that [actually] feed your passion?” Yeah, what am I doing? Is it the carrot or the stick? When does “a discipline” transfer over into discipline?

I completed a lot of material goals in 2017, but that productivity hastened me into burnout and new physical pain. In 2018, my goals have shifted only slightly, but I want to work instead on my mentality towards them. I want to find ways to dedicate myself rather than discipline. To “refill the cup” as they say, and to practice more self-care than I talk about it.

The theme of my year ahead is: get out of your own way. If there’s anything for the minimalist in me to pare down, it should be that old attitude.

Let me know what you are dedicating yourself to this year. And kindly subscribe to my email newsletter below! It will feature updates on my work and life, as well as little goodies every once in a while.



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Help Me Take the Lamaze Childbirth Educator Exam!

Friday, September 15, 2017


This past May, I opened my independent doula business. My birth work is invested in ensuring that all people have access to quality birth support - I offer my doula services on sliding scale and hope to create free/reduced cost classes in the future.


To expand my supportive services, in June I took a Lamaze course to become a childbirth educator. The Lamaze certification exams are coming up in November, and I am raising money to be able to afford the exam costs. Please donate at my YouCaring page. Here is what you'll be contributing to:
  • $225 dollars (plus fees) for the Lamaze childbirth educator study guide
  • $380 dollars (plus fees) for registration to the November Lamaze childbirth educator exam
  • $700 dollars to offset my living costs as I study - for that month, I am working with only 1 birth client so I can focus on getting prepared for the exam, which covers 1/2 of my expenses
If I can raise the exam costs alone, I can expand my ability to teach in the community! You can also choose to support me in offering free/reduced cost services year-round by donating on a monthly basis to my Patreon page 
 
Your monetary investment directly impacts community access to labor and birth services. By investing in me, you allow me to offer quality care to a greater number of people as a doula and educator. 
 
Thank you for any and all contributions, even if that is just sharing my fundraiser! Feel free to contact me at jordanalam7201@gmail.com with any questions/concerns/words of support.

Protecting My Time

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A weekend ago, I pulled out my folding table and declared it a "weekend of silence." I wanted to focus on my writing and have some introvert time, which is hard to come by in my life. Particularly as someone who is often caregiving for others to the max -- I mean, do you know what it means to be on call and go to a client at 4am after being awake until 2am? -- carving out space for myself sometimes feels impossible. And yet I still think I have it easy in comparison to my clients with their new babies and people I work with who have to hustle even harder than I do. There are always people who have to do more with less and are routinely more badass than I am about it.

But those comparisons just remind me that protecting my time is immensely valuable. And I wanted to write about the topic because I am genuinely so bad at it.

This post less an "if you just do these 5 things, you'll have all the time you need" and more of a "here's a firm reminder that you need to protect your time" no matter what you use it for. I tend to think that we all bow to the pressures around us, fall off the horse and then get back on it, wiggle around a little, fall off, get back, etc. And in some ways I think that is really beautiful - it is a true opportunity to push ourselves further.

I know that I have found a process that works for me, after so many experiments. This past weekend, I chose to listen to it fully (and that truly was a choice that had to be made!)

On the first night, I revamped my white board (really a green board). It used to just be a long long laundry list of tasks that were very vague and most of the details were kept in my head. So the first thing I did was get very specific. I gave tasks a rating scale of how much effort they would need, and I put even little things like 'email this person' up next to 'write an essay draft'. It's now organized in 'To Do', 'Doing', and 'Done.' And it gives my nerd heart a little thrill to watch as things move progressively over to the right.

And then I just forgot about it.

I tend to be that person who has to dump everything out of my head before I can let go and make space for the real work to be done. If it is in my head, it's buzzing. On the board, I can go sit at my folding table and paint until the words come (and yes, I paint and knit and consider it all part of my writing practice; doing something tactile really settles me into that work).

The second morning, I woke up without feeling anxious. Because I really did give myself permission for whatever needed to happen to make my writing process feel grounded. Intuition guided me to nap or to break out the sticky notes or to change locations so I could focus better. I made sure that the dishes were done and that all my materials were laid out in advance.

On the third day, it was the eclipse. I chose to go be with people I care about and watch it happen - historical event, you know? - but I also drew the energy I needed. Social interactions for me can be draining or they can refill my cup, the difference being the choice I made to participate.

On the final night, my client called me and that marked the end of my self-focused time. Back to the world. But back to the world with the confidence that I could always create that space again. Next weekend, next month - preferably not next year! My next big step will be to take some concentrated time away to take what I learned about my novel this weekend and flesh it way out.

For now, here was my board at the end of the weekend:
If you'd like to read a snippet of some of the things I worked on, consider subscribing to my Patreon to gain access to a newsletter with extra little goodies (and sometimes drafts of my work!)

I'm Back! And Launching my Patreon

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I'm back! The last you heard of me, in late February, I was setting out my goals for the coming months and trying to strategize how to use my limited time/resources. I thought that I would be able to get a blog post up monthly and planned for my next one to be in late March - March and August are about the same, right?

2017 has been a year to shake things up. I've started my own independent doula business and am coming out of the woods with my novel project. I committed to training for roller derby and actually feel (sort of) confident on skates. I've got a lot going on, but that also means I've got a lot to share! So, in hopes of returning to that goal I set out months ago, I'm returning to a regular writing practice at this space.

I'm also launching my Patreon campaign today! Many of you may already know what I do, but in case you're new here or just want to hear my voice, I've made a little video for you. Bonus: you get to see my cat photobomb me at the end. Enjoy the video and watch this space for more words to come.

http://www.patreon.com/jordan_alam

'We Are Irreplaceable' Collaboration & Writing Elsewhere

Monday, February 20, 2017

It's been dead silent around here for the past couple of months; I've been working on a couple projects that have taken me further away from my messy blog. I've also gone through two bouts of illness this winter (remarkable for someone who doesn't get sick often!), seen two babies born in my doula work, and transitioned out of one job and into another. Someday I'll get around to recapping everything in its full rich detail, but for now I'll put down a roundup of the collaborations and writing I've been doing elsewhere around the internet:

My long-time friend, the brilliant artist Jess X. Chen created these two posters using my face as a model and collaborated with me on the caption text. They are for the #nobannowall protests that occurred after the immigration ban earlier this month. They are available for download at justseeds.


'To Allah we belong and to Allah we return’ is a rough translation of the dua said at someone’s death. Blessed is this temporary cycle. We are part of a long lineage, a history of others who have dreamed us into being (as Walidah Imarisha puts it in the introduction to Octavia’s Brood). We are ourselves complete and also part of this larger whole and while we are impermanent, we are irreplaceable. Remember that you have the hands of ancestors at your back, and the duty to dream of the generations ahead of you.


I've written a piece called 'Life After' about the Tr**p election and what it means for us as vulnerable populations. Check that out at Fragments Magazine.

The Theo Westenberger Estate blog is featuring a piece about my experiential research process from my time in Bangladesh -- it's called 'The Accordion Exercise' and talks about some of my novel-writing process.

Finally, next month I will be in NYC working yet again on the lovely Feminist Zine Fest! If you're in the city, please come through and support independent writers and art-makers from across North America. More info at our website and Facebook page.