Welcome to Perpetual Ponderings of Alice Chen!

Hello friends!

Welcome to my blog!

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Pet Peeve | Poetry Breakdown

Hello everyone,

I hope all is well with you! The stresses and chaos hasn’t really settled down, so I’m on the verge of exploding. That probably explains the tone of this poem, but I’ll suffer through this. It’s what I like to call, being a student.

Pet Peeve

There’s a quiet rumble in the back.
An irritating one, if you want the specifics.
You wonder what they’re even talking about,
what they hell they’re muttering about, even though
it’s in a language we can’t understand,
it’s in a sound that we cannot bear to stand
in a classroom.

Last week, I told them to shut up
in a hiss as fierce as I could muster
“Can you stop talking? I can’t hear.”
And they would continue sneaking their conversations
between my glares as if I couldn’t understand
when I perfectly can.

Meanwhile, I’m getting more irritated
while they’re carrying away the conversation as if they’re at home.
And I wanted to shout to the class and professor,
“These shitheads won’t shut their pie holes, can you kick them out?”
I couldn’t say such a thing.
I don’t know their stories
or why they chose to irritate my ears.

So, I sit and continue to seethe
until the day finally passes me by.

Yes, I wrote this in class and yes, it’s inspired by real life events. I’m pretty confident that whoever I’m mentioning in this poem won’t find my blog, but if they do, I hope they get the message.

I have quite a few pet peeves. For example, I hate it when people scrape their forks/spoons across their plates since it makes an awful sound like nails on a chalkboard. I also hate it when my hair tickles my neck when I’m trying to sleep. Yet, one of my main pet peeves is when people talk to themselves in class or at a movie, a location where it’s inappropriate to have your own conversation.

[Alice rant begin]

In my class, two people who thought they were getting away with having a conversation in the back, irritated me to no end. I’m trying to hear my professor, but they wouldn’t shut up, so I told them off. The next week, I sat a little closer to the front, but I could still hear them. Do they even want to do well? From what I understood, all they did was complain. I honestly, don’t understand why they dedicated 80 minutes chatting about who knows what. It’s fine if you mention something to someone briefly, but not for 80 minutes, damn.

[Alice rant end]

I wrote this poem to control my temper. It’s more of a narrative poem since it tells a small story. I definitely romanticized it to the sense that I made it a little more nasty, although is true. In the third stanza, I put some Chinese characters to put some personality and background into the two people. “你做功课吗?” (Nǐ zuò gōngkè ma?) means “Have you done your homework yet? ” I wanted to give some sense of contrast with the two languages and how they purposely set themselves apart despite it being their culture and mother-tongue.

I guess the moral of this poem would be to not be that shithead in the back and if you ever encounter those kinds of people, don’t let them get the best from you. They aren’t worth your time.

Hope you have a good day!


Satiated | Poetry Breakdown

Hello everyone,

I hope all is well with you! Sorry about posting this a day later — things got pretty hectic yesterday.



It’s quite strange how in textbooks and scholarly articles,
everything feels like they’re solved.
Dirt no longer cakes the many crevices in the hands
nor is there any constant worry about if my kids have enough to eat
more or less if they’re getting vitamin A, B or C.

I come from a humble background of farmers
who strain their backs, but strengthen their souls
as nothing is more satisfying than knowing that what is sown
will always fulfill the inner most needs of those who are closest to you.
For those who are lucky to escape the brutality of physical labor,
walking onto a shining campus is a gift.

Tuesday morning, the professor lectures through 50 PowerPoint slides,
discussing how workers would rather lose limbs
than lose the ability to provide.
I grimace as I imagine long lines of meat needing to be cut, but with only half the
strength that I used to have.
My classmates cringe as they try to brainstorm ways things could be changed
but all they could say is “we need to address certain policies.”

The world has been shouting about the benefits of kale, quinoa and avocados,
how you’ll look younger,
live longer and
have greater strength than you had yesterday.
People flex, smile brightly and preach,
“I feel better than I did before!”

The lights dim and my eyes are drawn to the screen where
my classmates and I watch a video clarifying what in actuality a food desert is.
And I see the strain in the mother’s face as she pleads to us
that she’s trying her best to feed her children
that she’s aware of the harmful effects that cheap food can bring
but she has no choice

My eyes refocus back to the professor and he prompts us,
“How does this make you feel?”
which is translated into,
“What can we do?”
The room falls silent as the obvious rings through our ears and as we stare at the food wrappers littering our desks.
The usual responses pop up,
“We need to change certain policies.”
“We should volunteer at the food shelter.”
Yet as we squirm in our seats, all we can think about are when we can get out of class rather than the necessary provisions and steps needed to take
in order to be
truly satiated.

As some of you may know, I study food studies at my university, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be a chef or a food critic. In fact, food studies has a lot to deal with food justice, sustainability and how food fits into various cultures. It’s quite interesting and on the rise right now. I’ve been in the major since I was a sophomore after switching out of Nutrition. This seemed like a better fit for me due to it not being as heavy handed in science. The classes that I sit in focus mostly on the ethics of food and expanding our knowledge of the issues that arise in the food system and the small things that we can do to help. We don’t carry a lot of power, but as they say, it adds up.

I wrote this piece for internship I was with this summer called NAFSN (North American Food Systems Network) and since I had a double major with Writing & Rhetoric and Food Studies, I got to incorporate both and write pieces, edit a newsletter and help with some organizational processes in my internship. To be honest, it was pretty fun to incorporate seemingly different majors together.

This piece is mostly about a heavy juxtaposition between being in the classroom and hearing all the issues as well as having the knowledge to enforce changes, but feeling slightly powerless. The point of view I take sympathizes mostly with the laborers within the food system, the farm workers, the people we don’t usually hear about. But then, the view point shifts to the student with the helplessness and feeling stuck of not knowing what to do even though the information has been granted to you.

The rest of the poem is pretty straightforward. I tried to make it linear, like a story. If you have any questions about something I’ve mentioned, then feel free to email me. It would be a win-win where I can review my studies and you can learn more!

Thanks for reading!

Have a good day!



Unconfined Thoughts 30 — Autumn

It’s quite peculiar that when the seasons change, everyone raves about pumpkin spice everything when all I can think about is why my loved ones suddenly turned into ones who irritate me to no end. All of their flaws, which I’ve conditioned myself to accept as a part of them, suddenly became louder and prickles my skin like millions of unwanted mosquito bites. Those who I’ve simply tolerate breeze by me, causing me to grit my teeth and hurt my gums. I stare at my reflection confused and afraid hoping to see words written across my face indicating me if I’m the jerk or if the world is a jerk to me. Then again, you can’t be arrested for being a jerk. You would just be known as someone with harsh words, but no backbone. You’d be known as someone who utilizes their fears to raise yourself higher or you’d be known as someone who appears to have never felt the kind light before. Behind those tired eyes, you can’t help but wonder what the idling thoughts construct the person who’s walking around right in front of you. You hope that they match up with your own thoughts. That your griping of the world matches theirs instead of validating the fact that the world is true as you see it just without the rose colored glasses.

When the seasons change, I can’t help but wish for all of those who give me warmth from the inside out rather than being forced to huddle helplessly underneath my blankets.

Written: 9/28/17 1:32pm (in class)

Unconfined Thoughts 29 — Just a Nice Person

Excuse me for a moment and let me tell you a story before I forget how it went. This is something I hold very close to my heart, so bear with me as I cast away my responsibilities as a student and as a friend. My heart throbs so much that all I can do is dream about the past and hope the future will arrive soon. And my mind feels as clouded as my darker days when in reality; I am tired of all the bullshit that surrounds me (as if I am an exception).

Hold on a second and step into my shoes. Feel the shape of my foot within the worn out pair that has taken me everywhere. These converses have walked through the pouring rain and blinding sun while patiently waiting for my turn to speak. These slip-ons have crossed the city and sat in nervous anticipation, waiting for a single hello. And feel the exact moment when my toes curl in fear or sadness, but I maintain a cheerful smile. They ask me if I’m able and I nod and spin around in carelessness when all I want to do is book a one-way ticket and never look back. They ask me if I would do it instead and I nod when in reality, all I want to do is drink obscene amounts of beer and wine until reality tastes bitter in my mouth.

Once someone told me that I shouldn’t do something a certain way and the way they said it made me realize how insignificant I was and how nothing I said regardless if I was holding a gun up to my temples or if I was “just being a nice person” really mattered. They got real close and I could smell their foul breath. “That’s just not something you do.” And I wanted to get up close and hiss, “Fuck you.” But I’m just a nice person after all.

You would think in 2017, people would retain the basic knowledge they learn in kindergarten to always be respectful. I don’t think they realize that taking advantage of someone’s kindness is the same as punching them in the face. I don’t think people realize that the simple act of forgetting to say “thank you” can lower someone’s self-esteem one moment at a time until that someone spends hours wondering how they fit into the confusing world and if it’s worth it. I don’t think people realize that there’s an obvious difference between manipulation and kindness. It’s obvious right now, but there have been strong bullshit accusations. I just shrug and say, “I guess I’ll just watch you as you fall down.”

You complain that there’s not enough good in the world when you shoot down all the good that’s directly in front of you. It’s not that hard to be kind, is it? Because you’re just being a nice person.

Written: 9/26/17 5:15pm

An Every Day Thing | Poetry Breakdown

Hello everyone,

I hope all is well with you!

An Every Day Thing

I carry them in my hand
their jingling and clinking
their weight, pulling and jerking —
just a casual sound.

Look at my keys
I swing them in front of me, threatening to hurt really bad.
Look at their weight, so many keys
I toss them from my right to my left, feeling each groove press into my palm.
I am so responsible
I think to myself as the keys jingle across the quiet conversation.

The door swings open and I pull out the key,
they dangle and dance together,
the truest testament to all the open occurrences in my life.
The weight upon my shoulders echoes in the weight
of the keychain, but it’s only an every day thing.

They clatter as they meet the table, the sharp sound
resounding just as each groove on each key
unlocks a singular door leading to bedrooms,
houses and secrets.
Look at my keys
as I start swinging them again,
my eyes follow and the weight
follows the weight of gravity
until I’m nearly weightless.

This poem was inspired by a bad habit of mine. Whenever I have my keys in my hand, I tend to fiddle with them and I end up swinging them around since they’re attached to a lanyard. It becomes quite dangerous when you realize that people are within the “danger zone”, the circumference of my keys. That’s why, I try not to keep my keys in my hands. But, being the dramatic poet that I am, I tend to take mundane things and spin them into my dramatics to make it into art.  Oftentimes, I think about if I weren’t a writer, what would I be doing? I’d still have my overreactive mind and thoughts, but they would still be too contained. I’d just be a weird person without any justification. 🙂

When it comes to writing apiece about an object, it’s important to take it back to the five sense, so you can fully relate and understand. Everyone knows what keys are, so I described my set of keys. And with keys, comes a locked door that could also allude to closed opportunities as well as the weighted responsibility that comes with having keys because you don’t want to lose them or else the locked door will stay closed for a while/your possessions will have a greater chance of getting stolen.

I’d like to think of each key as a different story. One could lead to a house while another could lead to a bedroom. There could be a set of keys that lead to a restaurant or the White House. With each key that you have, it’s like a long piece of thread holds you accountable to that lock that’s paired with the key.

These responsibilities may end up being opportunities and a small sense of empowerment because I am able to do such things or it can be a burden because of the sheer amount of responsibilities that might become unbearable. It all depends on the person and situation, but every single day, you’d have something to do and something to behold whether big or small.

Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading! And please don’t wack people with your swinging keys.


Used | Poetry Breakdown

Hello everyone,

I’m back again!


I used to be a playful one,
a little child who loves to run and play.
The sky couldn’t contain me and the ground gave me lift.
A lion by my side and the speed that my feet gave me
I had no limit.

I used to give a damn about what people said
from how sweet their compliments felt
to how bitter their glances felt as they grazed over me.
I stared at my reflection, trying to see what they saw
and tried to put the compliments in my ears
but everything slipped out
and I turned the other way.

I used to tell people when they asked
“How can you read three books at once?”
I get bored easily, but in reality,
I wanted more places to escape to,
away from the poor grades and away from what I needed to do verses
what I wanted to do.
Away from what I had and what I didn’t have
and away from my quiet outside and loud inside except
how Suzanne found out that she had supernatural powers.

I used to offer my hand out to anyone
who is struggling in even in the vaguest way
even if they already had two hands,
even if I was barely dragging myself along.
Now I just put in my headphones
and pretend I don’t feel it all.

This poem is a personal one, so you’re going to hear a little about me. It revolves around the narrator, in this case, I’ll reveal that it’s me, going through some issues of dealing with being treated as indifferent. In the end, I just deal with it. You may probably interpret the last stanza in a negative way where I gave up trying to make people notice me, but you may also interpret the last stanza in a positive way where I got the strength to stop letting other people’s opinions dictate how I felt. I think I like the second interpretation better. 😉

Yes, when I was little, I had a wild imagination including an imaginary lion that would run next to me and be my protection. As I grew older, more pressure from school and grades came to me, pressure to conform to be like everyone else while promoting the idea of “uniqueness” and that pressure felt like it was crushing me and for a while in high school, I struggled with identifying who I was. It’s a normal phase for a teenager’s life, but it would’ve been nice if I had someone tell me “You are fine just as you are.” instead of “Don’t worry. Everything will be okay.” as if that solved anything.

It was in middle school when I really started getting into reading. I would be able to read three different books at the same time — dabble a little in one, one chapter in another and I wouldn’t forget about the plots. This was my way of hiding from the present issues in front of me and it worked for a while until high school.

Over time, I finally learned to grow a backbone and not let myself be spread thin. Still fine tuning it and it wouldn’t have been possible without my good friends.

I hope you liked my poem!