Life Writing

What is love?

            <em>“What is love?” I whispered, my question barely rising above the dull hum of the heater. I could feel the chilly air nipping at my exposed toes. He'd turned on the heating but didn't close the window. </em>

He sighed. “That’s a short question with a long answer.”

Our society has loaded the concept of ‘love’ with far more than any individual could ever hope to unpack within a single lifetime.…


Happiness is…

            <em>"What is happiness?" he asks. "What does happiness mean to you?"</em>

Happiness is ice cream on a hot, dry day.

Happiness is time at the beach, feeling the same between my toes, laughing and not caring that it’ll take days to get it out from our socks and shoes.…

Life Writing

When making friends means being exploited

I remember one scene particularly well: It was in Ms. Brown’s biology class, and it must have been Year 9, because I didn’t have a class with her before then, but Simon wasn’t in my class afterwards.

This is part three of my ongoing project to write out my personal history in an effort to untangle the emotional history and stressors of my life.…

LGBTQ Life Writing

My first trip to CAPS, then the ER

“Hi, my name is Leo. I’m a student at Northwestern University. And I suffer from serious depression-like symptoms.”

This is part two of my ongoing project to write out my personal history in an effort to untangle the emotional history and stressors of my life.…

LGBTQ Life Writing

Three, two, one: What do I do when I fall in love with another boy?

I was 13 when I first thought about killing myself.

I know it was that age only because I remember a specific detail that couldn’t have occurred when I got any older. After my sister, Lisa, moved to college when I was 14, I left the bedroom at the back of our third-floor 3-bedroom apartment, overlooking the fence, and into the larger bedroom that used to be hers.…

Life Writing


“I don’t feel like anyone could understand me without knowing more about me than most people do,” I texted. “I usually do not have the time to explain the about-150 years of geopolitical and sociocultural history of the U.S., Europe and Asia and how that impacts me.”

He didn’t quite understand that at first.…

Technology Writing

Accessibility matters

“Woman sitting in car in the sunlight with a smartphone in her hands” by rawpixel on Unsplash

Accessibility is important. But we seem to keep forgetting about it.

I am part of the world’s first generation of Internet-first adults. My generation grew up as the Internet developed, and we’ve never known a world without access to so much information.…

Fiction Life Writing

The origin story

“Red roses near a green hedge surrounding a house” by Caroline Sleeper on Unsplash

They keep asking me for an origin story.

Where are you from? What did you do? How did you get here? What do you want from your life?…


how many

how many more kids have to die before we begin to say that taking away guns might mean we kill fewer children

how many more schools need to have bullet holes before we decide we don’t want another shooting at a school ever again

how many of our children have to watch their friends and siblings be killed at the place they learn to grow up before we look at other countries and realise their dying isn’t a fact of life

how many more kids have to grow up before their time

how many more lives have to be broken

how many…


Race matters

Photo by tom coe on Unsplash

Arrested for sitting down at a Starbucks in Philadephia. Detained for attending a campus tour in Colorado. Gun pointed after he took the Mentos he bought in Southern California. Kicked out of a shopping mall in Chicago.…

Journalism Writing

Student journalists: do better.

Looking up at the Weber Arch at Northwestern University in Sep. 2015. Photo by Leo Ji.

If we want our readers to trust us, we need to listen to their criticisms — and not disparage them, as The Daily Northwestern’s opinion editor has done

Before I applied to the Medill, I was studying physics and computer science.…

Life Writing


Photo by Evandro Saroka on Unsplash

I am a pilot — trapped within the prison of my own body;
Never to leave;
And as I am the only voice in my head, I find myself
often feeling or thinking as if I am the only one in the world

a weird, wonderful, dangerous place.…



“Wide angle shot of an elevated train speeding through the Chicago skyline.” by Sawyer Bengtson on Unsplash

when i first walked
into that room, wondering whether
i would be accepted

we speak the same words yet they mean so different
we think the same ideas yet
and yet
either the world was not ready for these ideas or i was not ready for the
arch we walked under
space jam

i don’t remember
i can’t remember
i don’t want to remember
who it is that i was
to become

i wanted to get away from my past
my roots
but it’s funny, isn’t it, for the things that i want to leave behind
are exactly the things that i can’t
alternative facts

hospital and er
and health insurance
and never telling anybody
it was bad
really bad

we kissed
it was good
really good

it was such a
and then suddenly, too many of
hiring more faculty
growing program

then bay area
san francisco
44 Montgomery
it rains for weeks and weeks and then it’s
curries and paninis and sushis and Tenderloin and Union Square and Nob Hill and the Ferry Building and the MUNI and the BART and the Civic Center and Kearny and Powell and 38 Geary and Golden Gate Park and Crissy Field and Golden Gate Bridge and E Embarcadero and J Church and Coit Tower

come and go
come and go
are you one of mine now?…

Life Writing

I have an offer for you.

Hear me out. I’m putting together a project and I’ve got a deal for you.

OK, here goes: We all get sick, right? Or maybe we aren’t looking, or a driver isn’t looking, and we step out onto the road and get hit by a car.…

Journalism Writing

Who will pay for journalism?

Photo by Thomas Charters on Unsplash

Answer: you, dear reader. And everybody else.

The root of this post lies within the saga currently playing out at The Los Angeles Times, which is expected to be sold to one of the shareholders of its Chicago-based parent company, Tronc.…

Journalism Writing

Technology + Journalism = ?

Photo by Farzad Nazifi on Unsplash

Three definitions of the meaning of technology + journalism

I came to journalism from the exciting realm of computer science.

And so, quite understandably, many people around me have excitedly discussed the potentials of “the intersection between technology and journalism.” Or “technology meets journalism.” Or “CS+J.”

But I’ve found myself either feeling disappointed or feeling mislead multiple times during my last three years at Northwestern, and it’s usually because when I heard those terms, I thought the speaker meant something else than how I interpreted it.…