Under Water, Over Tired

and weeping in the grocery store

ROCK PAPER RADIO is a dispatch for misfits & unlikely optimists by your favorite hapa haole, beet-pickling, public radio nerd. It’s a weekly email newsletter that shares three curiosities every Thursday - something to hold on to (that’s the ‘rock’), something to read (that’s the ‘paper‘), and something to listen to (you guessed it, that’s the ‘radio’). Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, immortal jellyfish, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.


Interneters have already moved on from Stop Asian Hate to Cinnamon Toast Shrimp-gate, so I think it’s safe to say that America’s reckoning with its anti-Asian problem is wrapping up.

I am disoriented and deflated in such a deep way right now. And yet. I continue to be moved and inspired by your #AZNxBLM pitches. I re-read your check-in texts and feel a real sense of being seen and supported. I talk to my own tween about all of this and the glimpse I get into the future he and his peers will be in charge of soon is better than anything today’s grownups have created. And so. My unlikely optimism holds on.

But for now, I still feel like I’m underwater. These stunning 18-minutes from BBC Radio 3, Jump Blue, are exactly where I’m at. Maybe you’re there too.

In this Between the Ears podcast episode, we meet Russian freediver Natalia Molchanova, who started plunging into the sea without any scuba gear or sense of terror at the prime age of 40.

This feature is truly an extraordinary and immersive audio experience. I recommend finding a quiet place by yourself and listening to it with headphones. Maybe in the bath. Tragically, Molchanova never resurfaced after her last dive in 2015. This story is both a tribute to her, and to all of the rebels among us stubbornly set on seeking out peace and quiet and other impossible missions.


Minari star Steven Yeun is the star of this profile, but it’s the peek into the doubt and rage of the author that I kept thinking about long after I finished reading this piece.

For The New York Times by Jay Caspian Kang: The Many Lives of Steven Yeun.

Right now there are a lot of essays going around from Asian Americans reflecting on the racism and misogyny we’ve been trying to call attention to since far before the Year of Kung Flu, but none I’ve seen that captures the strain of creating from the perspective of being a permanent foreigner in your own home as this from Kang’s intro:

“Every capitulation to the “white gaze” comes with shame; every stand you take for authenticity triggers its own questions about what constitutes authenticity. And once you feel comfortable with the integrity of your work, someone says something that flips everything around, and you’re right back staring at your own lying face.”

Did anyone else connect more to the author than the movie star after reading this? Let me know. You can leave a comment below, or if you’re a ROCK PAPER RADIO subscriber, you can hit reply on this email.


If you’re also feeling a bit lost lately, just know that there are so many others who are with you, and who also have no idea what to post on social media right now.

I like to think that we all might be like one of the starlings in County Westmeath, Ireland earlier this month who (I assume, unbeknownst to them?), lifted up into the air and formed the shape of one big, spectacular bird for a magical moment. Lucky for us, photographers James Crombie and Colin Hogg were there to capture it.

Who knows. We might be making something amazing together right now and we just don’t realize it yet.



That’s issue 34, friends. Thanks for listening, reading, holding on. And thanks for being part of this crew and for spreading the word about our misfit dispatch. This RPR community is getting me though it these days.

And thanks too for spreading the word about #AZNxBLM. There’s still a few more days for writers and creatives to pitch for a chance at one of our $400 grants from ROCK PAPER RADIO and The Slants Foundation. The application is quick and free and it closes this Sunday, March 28.

For your homework assignment this week, find some time to put on your mask and a weird outfit and get yourself to the grocery store. Muscat grape season is here early this year, which means for a brief moment you can stand under florescent lights holding a giant Sumo orange in one hand, and a bunch of honey-flavored, sunset-colored grapes in the other and weep for one small joy in the midst of this apparently endless unprecedented time. Don’t worry about your fellow shoppers. They’re all crying too.

See you next Thursday.


You can find ROCK PAPER RADIO on Instagram and Twitter @RockPaperRadio. You can help spread the word about our community of misfits and unlikely optimists by sharing this call on the social medias with a comment that says LET’S GO #AZNxBLM. Or something like that.