Lurid Questions

IMG_20150418_184413~2Sometimes I would like to know just what am I feeling so anxious for; like you are waiting for something, like you are missing out on so much. It’s terrifying really, because it happens to you during those slow lethargic hours when your limbs are phantom and your mind is lulled. You eyes might be quick enough to catch the brief glimpse of a life time, but you find your brain has been too fried to carry out the thought process.

And in this moment you might feel slightly disconnected from the world, where each velvet stroke of sunlight becomes a form of cosmic star burst and you know it no longer ties to this certain plain of reality you stand on. It must be the early spring dusk, it must be the fairy dust in the air that causes this cathartic effect upon your eyes. The intensity in which you recognize the world we live in, it is a lonely beautiful trait you wish to share with someone who hasn’t quite come along yet, and you begin to doubt if they ever will. And with each step you take it’s only that you have been stepping backwards into the tepee of our universe’s loophole, and each seared vision is the way the world leaks into our living room door with an open mat policy.

I am humbled, beckoned by this call for duty, catapulted only in stark realization several hours later when the lights have gone out and the night soothes your senses in maternal fatigue. I cannot even describe for you the chronicles of this event. It’s as if one has died to see the tunnel of light and came back to life. You are stunned and oddly mistaken to think to speak of this tongue where one might reckon it to be a siren’s call. It will tell you if you listen that you should known we have been here many times before. The dissonance in your mind will surely be telling. Best to perceive it with blurred vision and try not so hard to discover the many secrets of this world. The lucidity would be offensive otherwise.

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Picture : Words

I often wonder whether a single picture may triumph words in the long run of things. Like if I were to see a photo of your grandfather rather than read some form of text document he may have written, would I have gotten a better sense of his time?

If pictures were to transcribe a thousand words, then I suppose the fact that our memory ever so subtly reconstructs each time we relive an instant can compose of several million in a life time. That’s certainly a lot more environmentally friendly than text. But then what about the validity of the memory? That we so subconsciously and involuntarily change the way we perceive, like one would of an old font; suddenly find this sun bleached photo a quaint charm, though your mother at the time may have told you they had lived rather poorly. Could we be excused of that, or would it be that the subjects in the pictures would not mind if we were to square on a piece of rose colored glasses. So much so that they might come to believe it the same as well.

“Oh, it wasn’t so bad.”

This romantic fondness, we, or at least I come to find of bygone times makes me wonder if photos were taken at first to not only capture the first light, but to ultimately expose an unfathomable secret. That in a time of confusion we may call out to our cherished loved ones in these old photographs and ask them to guide us. Whereas while choked in anger, we might thin our lips and clamp back the wave of nausea instead. The precedent clarity vanished in the same sense as our present humanity. It only but takes a moment. A single photograph taken the same way 20 something years ago can evoke so much.

I came across some old photographs my mother took of the apartment building we used to IMAG0043live in in Hong Kong. It was a number of complex buildings built on top of a mall, and we carried our lives in a sort of maze open hallway, representing only another pinnacle in the sky defying gravity. Everyday we descended the elevators, and then the escalators into the mall and I remember the bright orange lights. The sales woman standing in front of McDonald’s with very long slender nails that I had wanted, but instead I took a pack of ketchup everyday.

When I was 14, I had my all girls sexual education and self defense class. Among other mental exercises, we were asked to think of a certain place in our mind. The instructor probably hadn’t meant it so, but I told my best friend that afternoon that I thought of the metal bars across my apartment door – very frequent there – and how it would slam shut in that blue lit hall way. At that moment, I cried because I feared abandonment, but I never recalled that while I grew up there. But funny I recall now again when I see a photograph I never really remembered seeing. I recall instead truthfully, and my sister and mother still recounts today, how much I loved to stay at home and play with my Barbies. But how would you have known with just a photograph?

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Like this one.

So deceivingly ominous, even to me now, but behind that door were my childhood memories. It was where you would have found a 5 year old self of me placing plastic barn yard animals on the living room floor while she waited impatiently for her Cinderella tape to rewind over and over again on the TV.

Which is why when I came across my father’s parents’ photo on my sister’s cabinet I was quite taken.

In fact, my grandmother was stunning in a refined, mature way. I admired the photographer for having blurred out the surroundings so that they stood emphasized. She sat in a cafe of sorts with her husband behind her. But the more I stared, the more I had wished the photograph were more clear in their environment. I had wished I would be able to take a peek into the time period they lived in. Like what were their glassware like?

I could already feel the imaginations begin of their life. How they had existed, from this one single photograph that is so orchestrated. I almost forget the real facts that my mother had told me. How much livelier and strict she was with her two sons. My father. How they mixed the fats of pork and chicken in their rice because they had no money to afford meat. How much of a meal that was to them. I almost forget all of that because without thinking, these thousands undeliverable words appear to renew themselves with the image of the photograph. And with each time these photos are reflected in my eyes, reversed upside down into my brain, it will trigger the composition of all the stories and words I have seen in my time and tell me a brand new one.

So would it have been better instead if my grandparents had written more letters. Not that I would truthfully be able to dissect any of it to this degree with my lacking Chinese, but would it have been better still? For the current me to use my type writer as a source of comfort in typing out pieces I believe carry a strange piece of me. Who knows if anyone will ever come across them again. But would those few thousands words suffice for them to surface a picture in their memories, the same way a photograph lures a story?

I find in the moment I configured to write this sort of redundant argument, I thought it funny to juxtapose the contradictory ideas. Well, I’ll just simply take a photograph of my words, I said. Would the black and white clarity of the crisp new photo fade and become grainy one day and take effect onto those old words further, to a point where my physical self can no longer manipulate my words to mean what I had meant. Is that better than than the delicate crinkle of yellowed pages? – Well, the writer in me digresses. But could you in fact, imagine the silly typist that decided against better judgement to play a fool’s game with a future generation like that?

How would you have known though, in those thousand words that comes across your mind, that her first nickname at a job was by a 45 year old gay man who called her ‘Charlie Brown’. That my sister and I had crashed a mini remote controlled helicopter our father bought in the apartment lobby at night. I suppose he might have wished he had boys in that moment, and it makes me smile.

IMAG0086So many things I want to ask that girl because I don’t even know. And I might venture to say many people might not know themselves either. It’s like all these words and pictures were to only hold the promise to deliver but answers nothing.

Gosh, was I happy here? Arrogant? Being a smart turtle necked fool so that my current future self who holds these warm butterflies may hopes that I was indeed, because it just simply makes everything so much better that way. To just let yourself be charmed by another thousand words, when you have no more words to say. Perhaps, that is why we take photos. And we will write, when we can.

The Humbling River

The Sea Inside (Portaits of Waves) Series

A blank space in the back of our minds,
I’d imagine
The river roars, like a grainy black and white film
Churning and frothing
It hits and banks at your own peripheral screen; unknown
That is the divide of the river
So quiet you strain to hear it and realize
Conscience has no voice
In the fluid grey matter
Melted between our oily secrets
Denied, but barely, at the horizons of our vision
It will one day eclipse defiance, in its sweet triumph
Leave you only the with the senses of sharp resignation
And to you sweetheart, towards this solemn ghost you smile
Clutch your breath in your heart and hear it pound,
“No, no, no.”

: ” I don’t want to know anymore. No more.”

The day you cross the river.

Putting The House on Sale

My sister and I spent all of Friday moving furniture about in our old suburban house. Now that all the pretentious tidying – shoving forgotten miscellaneous into boxes and burying them in storage space – it looks like the model home. And we asked each other, “Why is it that once we’re no longer living here, it is the most beautiful ‘home’ in all the ‘home sense’ we are advised of in home magazines nowadays?”

Of course, we’re trying to sell it and con the next sucker into thinking that they would be able to live like that. Who has a large showcase bookshelf beside their dining table with nothing but mostly decor and other falsely proclaiming fashion books. What office space has only two books of the world map and nothing else. It’s not the 1700’s.

Once we were all finished with the moving, it suddenly hit me how sad it was that we had never really taken the time to admire this home. The light fixtures and the ceiling carvings; lying across the living room on the white couch that probably never got more than 1 week’s worth of visit from the entirety of our family in these last 5 years told me that we haven’t sat around long enough. Somehow in the short 5 years that seemed so opaque and fast but had been so painfully slow as well had chalked up this house to be a nuisance. This beautiful undeserving home, we had come to hate and avoid it.

Now my mom no longer feels safe here and my sister and I no longer want to suffice living on the other side of town from our work. That, and wasn’t the idea of this ‘transition’ home to make sure we become adults? Yet my mother goes and throws around proposals where she’ll use the money from the house and buy herself a condo and another for my sister and I to rent together. So that we’re all safe together I suppose. So that she may come by more often and drop off food and make sure we’re alright. So that we may be together again.

I shut her down while trying my best to be kind about it. Is it altruism that fuels her and these questions or is this another one of life’s test?

I’m so mad because if I weren’t so angry already it would show probably how desperately I would love to go back again. This sense of abandonment, the fear of it, makes me see omnipotent versions of my sister in all the fellow females bypassing me on the way home. We might think it funny while we laugh over text message but this is all happening the same – the Duck will be moving again and further away, once again. And my mother may follow my sister and I where we’re currently at, but who knows where we’ll be in 5 years time.

So strange this anxiety I feel. I think a  part of me has at last given up on some things that I could not hold on to. I hate to disappoint people but it seems so much more grounding to just admit to myself that I wasn’t who they thought I was. Not that big of a dreamer. And maybe to you that’s reading this last sentence may not be made much of from the entirety of this piece, but ..well, there’s really no proper reason to suffice. However more I write and obsessively edit this – as I would have few months back – it will never amount in my head to the raw ways so many other bloggers out here can paint an ambiance onto a internet page and transcribe the intensity of the emotion.

Who knows. Twice in my life my sister and this ‘family’ image we were supposed to have never happened. Somehow one of us were always away. And eventually all of us left as well.

“Well, I’m telling you, you’re not missing out on anything. I hated those 4 years in high school there and living in a big house by myself.” I complained to my sister.

“Then that’s how mom feels right now.”

I realize I’m pretty bitter.

It’s a strange plucking sensation to think the house will really be sold. I just want to lay on the sofa again with the golden incandescent light of the lamp and pretend that we could just stay for awhile. All of us this time. Lie in the same way we lay in bed in the morning and say, “5 more minutes.”

When You’re Frightened

Recently, I’ve been hit with a large wave of nostalgia.

I’m sure this is some poor milestone event that happens in everyone’s life – who doesn’t want to reverse logic and be children again? – especially children today; lucky bastards, I see them everywhere.

I’ve always thought of myself as a forward thinking person. It never bothered me to leave behind my then current life when I decided to move within 2 months once the idea was voiced. I was not regretful my father was no longer here. I had always been grateful for what it taught me. It was something that was always thrown around in the house I lived in. It was something I took as serious as my stupid Ducklet pride.

When I moved out at 18, I never felt vulnerable nor missed my old life. As serene and placid as it was in the suburban neighborhood with peers my own age. I never once missed high school. Maybe that’s a lie. I miss the ridiculous oblivion the high school environment provides. And in the same breath I abhor the tiny environment it allows for the numerous brilliant minds that have been contorted and warped to believe inside themselves a certain sense of self that will last through their life time based on a teenager’s echelon. In full, I still wouldn’t go back. You can’t unknow things you know. Life is frustrating like that.

Now at almost 19, I feel I haven’t accomplished much in life. Who cares about the job my family is so proud of, who cares about being the youngest between my colleagues. I still feel I have missed out on life’s secret event. I knew it was playing a trick on me. Right?

Sometimes I wish I could waste time. And not just sit at home all day – because I enjoy the solitude – but to sit at home all day and do stupid stuff and not have the harried feeling of knowing I’m wasting time.

I woke up and thought about the time when I used to always sleep over with my cousins and we would play DS (when that was still cool) the moment we woke up. When we unapologetically took that extra hour before physically getting out of bed. The childish routine to brush our teeth one by one and distribute left over breakfast at the kitchen. To watch 3 hyperbole romantic comedies in a row, and cry despite knowing we’ll get puffy eyes the next day at 2am on Christmas Eve.

I missed climbing over each other to reach the computer. I missed just wondering and chattering uselessly about what else life has to bring. I miss discovering how to french braid and having that as a skill. I missed the security, the comfort, their company – the not knowing.

If I were to be offered, I would never opt for omnipotent knowledge or wisdom. Like I said, you just can’t unknow things you already know.

So today I could never allow myself to move back home because I know all those peers back at home still haven’t even properly thought about it. I could never stop the cycle of working the grind because we all know that’s life’s grand entrance in spitting you out into adulthood – I can’t leave, not if the management is unfair. Not if it would be easier. Not even if my mother would not get mad at me for it. Particularly because she wouldn’t, I can never stop.

But I never stop thinking about the times when I was home alone back in that old house, no matter how much I had wanted to leave then, no matter the bad and lonesome things that happened there; I would purposely bring down my blankets and a pillow to curl up on the single sofa, just so I could crunch together and hang a leg over the edge. How I would turn on the single blue lit lamp and watch TV in my home made theater. How at ease I was at with the world in allowing myself to wake up when I wanted to and to continue to feel alright about myself.

How much I wish to stop the torment on how much I hate myself.

But I guess that’s another life’s topic.

Sometimes though, it’s really scary out there… Sometimes I don’t think it’s quite alright that my emotions dwell so lightly I easily cry when I think too deeply. Like now. Sometimes I just don’t want to be here (and of course I’m too cowardly to act on it, because shit, I’m scared), and sometimes I really want to, just so I have a reason to act.

I no longer doubt that my family would grieve but am rather undeserving in pitying my mother for the would-be second loss in her life – how very much unfair that would be to her.

I almost finish the thought that my father should be here instead of me from time to time.

I try to disown that I sometimes sleep with a knife by my bedside. It’s not right. I don’t tell the people I love and trust. I can’t. That would be too sad. Too desperate. Too easily written off as a teenage phenomenon. Really, all that said was because I’m still scared to say it aloud. It’s too weird for someone who does such a good job of appearing brag worthy to her family.

I miss at the end of the day, even the arrogance of a child in their self worth. I’m envious.

THE LAST PUBLIC SCHOOL MEETING

Originally posted on hastywords:

Sometimes I hear or read a story and think… what the actual heck?  Are there really kids out there behaving like this?  Worse… are there really ADULTS behaving like this?  The answer is YES, and it is happening in your own neighborhood, school, church, and place of employment.  The sheer number of stories I hear everyday from strangers and friends alike is disconcerting and extremely concerning.

Today my guest, Andrea Johnson Beck, will certainly take a firm jab at your emotions.  I was angry reading of her experience with her son’s school because I have heard too many stories – from too many families – regarding meetings just like this one.  When your child needs help you, as a parent or caretaker, are supposed to be able to count on the school to help.  There are people in a position to make a difference, who make it their policy, to…

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Smoke & Mirrors

I believe, without too much thought on evangelism, that every life lives lives outside of what we know. I believe in the quintessence quality of the string theory, or as lightly as one might quote such a large summary of life’s theory.

When I hear stories of my father’s adventures, journey through life, I believe this very young ambitious, unknowing, unexpected version of himself exists parallel against all odds to this day. On the same time line that his own daughter is now living. Just on a different plain. A different scope of time and imagery that I cannot catch a hold of on this side of the mirror.

At least, I would want to believe that. Might as well, if I were to throw around the word belief.

I suppose it was something about the undoubted self discipline, the visionary that really had no reason to vision, else to be quoted as arrogant and wanting – that was my father. From time to time, since a while ago, my mother has developed the habit to share little tid bits from her memory with this man. She tells me tonight that he went to boarding school when he was 13. Or was it 14? And that he took the international exam and passed, in order to be granted education in Canada.

I mean, that was a big deal back then.

Apparently, like all other young boys, he looked towards his friends, who spent their college years aboard partying (one thing has remained the same all these years, despite the parallel running string theory and all), while my father, in an old Chinese saying, would die and still not agree to go out with them. He says, and I quote, “Because once I go out, I know it will all shatter. It will all go to waste.”

“But you know, he told me sometimes he felt envious of them too. They wore leather pants and leather jackets, and they had fun. Then he would tell himself that these were all provisions from their family. That he had wanted a greater life, so he was alright with suffering momentarily and working just a little harder.”

I began crying, ever so quietly but just as inconsolably.

I wonder to myself, would it have made a difference if he were here right now. What if he were here all along? Would I have been more emotionally prepared for what to take on? Somehow I also think, would I have been more emotionally capable, more developed to have relationships? Does the lack of father power really effect me that greatly in my self image? In my ability to relate and to love? 

Again, I am in a different dimension  Perhaps those very questions were more than just a theory from early childhood development. Like the string theory, this version of myself exists, in the same mirage my young father currently lives on. I can’t see it, I can’t feel it. I just believe.

“Between your father and your uncle, his older brother, well, your grandpa was extremely disappointed when the eldest decided to quit school and start work. He began in the bank industry and kept at it until he retired. His whole life with that one job. And now he’s retired.”

I’m still crying, but the fact that this is a story, a verbal biography of someone’s life; my father’s. It made it comforting. It made sense out of the wordless crying .Correction: it made easy sense out of the wordless crying, rather than whatever else was mingled inside.

“Well, your father studied and worked at the same time. He says, ‘ you gotta work, or else you won’t have any money’,” my mother shrugs, “he says, it’s alright if you don’t mind struggling for the little while.”

“So I ask myself why I ever married your father to begin with – I would say how he was just self-proficient. And that he never owed anyone an emotional debt.”

“Your grandpa was awfully proud, bragging across the border that his son got a diploma and earned top grades.”

I keep crying now, but now I think, “Why aren’t you here,”

More accurately, this is only now that I have visibly calmed down. It was perhaps more like, “WHY AREN’T YOU HERE?!”

And I would never have thought the voice of a thought rebounds, reverberates and carries on in echos like an after thought to the original accusation. Why? I ask…

It was the first time in a long while that I had wanted for my father’s presence so emotionally. I mean, he’s never too far off, just across the border of smoke and mirrors. He exists.

But I think to myself, if only he were here to guide me. To provide me the vision I would need. Shit, I suppose the only saving grace now would be to continue crying and blinking away the tears as if they don’t exist. And for the first time, my mother neither asks me to stop nor try too hard to provide a change of topic. She continues, and I oddly respect her all the more for it.

“So, I’m finished talking. Is there anything you want to tell me? Or do you not want to talk to me?”

No ma, there’s so much to say, actually too much to say – it’s purging and rolling around in my brain; I’m getting choked up, shoot, I’m actually choking up. Breathe, breathe. Exhale. 

I shrug instead. What do you want me to say?

I imagine her reaction if I were to come out and say all the things I would really want to. Like ma, I really don’t like myself. But please don’t interrupt, because there is no why. I come to the conclusion that, after everything she has told me, the sheer visionary that was my father, I really do not want much. I imagine cowering towards the table and confessing that I neither wish for the greater things in life more than an above average meal and a place to call home. My biggest dreams? – I just want…to provide a good life, a great life for my mother and sister. I wanted to live vicariously through them in all the material goods life has to offer. But would I be willing to work hard enough? Would I be willing to do in the same ethical sense what my father did?

“You know, he just wanted to pass on a good foundation for you guys. He says that when you are older, you will develop your own path.”

Like clockwork, my eyes swim.

Maybe in another life time, maybe another me might do a better job than that.

On this side of the mirror though, I can only see so far. I mean, when you read that sort of life statement aloud, who the hell would believe that. So idiotically philanthropic, Stop kidding Duck. Really now.

I can’t say anything like that. Can’t scream and yell and blame her like I would want to. I choke up again and remind myself to swallow and breathe.

All through our dessert, the tears stream and gather at the tip of my chin. I melt and swallow periodically the mango ice cream that tasted of nothing but shaved ice.

A rip off.

And that’s all I can muster to remember to think of.

It’s simple ma, I’m just really sad. 

Ah, I remember now. Originally, I had just wanted the privilege to cry out to our mothers again. I just wanted to blurt out and say all the things that might be mean and blasphemous, but truthful all the same. I wish to love and protect, and in the same sentence I would wish to condemn you for all the things you didn’t do instead. And I would wish to cry unapologetically afterwards, cause goddamn, I’m just sad.