never again

dadTwo weeks ago yesterday, my dad broke his neck. Two and a half weeks ago, he got married.

They were on their honeymoon. They were going for a bike ride. An oncoming car was turning left directly in front of them; he didn’t see it until there was nothing to do but slam on the brakes – and go over the handlebars.

He landed on his head, breaking C6 and C7. His hands and feet went numb. He was scared.

We were too. We were supposed to go to dinner with them. I felt guilty because, while I love his new wife, their wedding hadn’t been easy for me. Their marriage was the final nail in the coffin of my once-family. I knew I shouldn’t feel that way. Things were better now than they’d ever been before. My dad was happier; my mom was, too. But still. It was my family. (Also, as a side note: In my childhood culture, divorce was/is akin to drinking alcohol or eating meat or having sex before marriage. It was a no-no. And we’ve already discussed the fact I’m a goodie-goodie.)

And so I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to dinner. It was out of the way and a drive in traffic. I was tired. I was supposed to go to spin class after work – I love spin class. And we’d just seen them at their wedding.

And so I hesitated. And then I got the call. Elyse, sobbing: “Your dad had a biking accident. He says it’s his neck. They’re rushing him to the hospital.” She was hysterical.

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Father and son

And suddenly, I was too. My mind was a blur: So little information, such a turn of events. Such guilt. Here I hadn’t wanted to go to dinner, and now the man who was my hero and role model and life rock was in an ambulance on his way to the hospital.

The things we take for granted.

And so instead of eating dinner or going to spin class or doing a thousand other things we usually do, we spent the night in the emergency room. At almost 1 a.m., my dad was life-flighted to a U.C. Davis Medical Center where they tortured him (okay, tried to fix his neck with traction) before taking him to surgery and fusing three segments of his neck. The neurosurgeon said it was a miracle he wasn’t paralyzed. The next day my dad said it was, too. He said he had “so much to be thankful for.”

And he did. And he does. And we are. And I am. And suddenly I know what’s most important. If anything worse had happened to him . . . I don’t know where I’d be . . . where we’d be . . . what we’d do.

And all I know is that, while his recovery has not been and will not be easy, we are so lucky to have him, and I’ll never again put exercise selfish struggles before family and the people I love. (That includes you, Elyse!) You mean the world to me, Dad. Thank you for being my rock. I want to always be yours, too. I love you.

life in cubicles

deskSometimes life doesn’t give you what you expect. And sometimes that’s okay.

I haven’t written in a while. Not because I haven’t wanted to. Not because I don’t have things to say. It’s just…

There hasn’t been time.

I have thoughts about guilt, family, priorities, life, plans, the unexpected, the past, the future, poetry… (I need to write another poem.)

And perhaps tomorrow I’ll find the time. Perhaps tomorrow, I’ll be able to breathe. As for today… I don’t want to blow surprises by giving rushed summaries because my mind is hurried. And so, please…

How many posts will I write like this, at the end of the work day, in the silence of the office? Just me and the clicking of keys on a keyboard in the cubicle beside me? There’s a man over there who works in a different part of the Agency – I don’t know his name or what he looks like or what he does. But I always know he’s over there because of his clicking… It’s sad when life is to be spent working in cubicles. But then again, life and work in cubicles is important, too…

And I try so hard to be diligent at work, but if I always wait until 5pm…? My posts end up looking like this.

waiting

waitingWhat worries me is the way it sucks it out of me. Life.

There’s nothing new under the sun, a wise person once said. And he is right. And he is wrong. There are new things, because there are new people. Yes, we’re all the same and go through similar things, but only you can experience your life, and even you can only experience it once.

And things never go as planned, and questions never go away. Everywhere we look we have scientists and preachers and stories and teachers explaining: This is how things are. This is where you’ll be. This is how to live. This is what you’ll see.

But in the end there’s a lot we don’t know and can’t control. There’s a lot we can’t see.

Sometimes there are no right answers, no easy fixes, no straight and narrow.

And in these moments, and in the end, it’s just us and the silence, waiting.

 

on new years eve

hong-kong-china

New Years in Hong Kong

Where you are, the ball may have already dropped. I know it has for my friends in Taiwan and Hong Kong. But maybe you live in Hawaii, or Alaska, or some other remote place — I don’t know where.

It’s 2015, no, 2016. Hip hip hooray! A new year. But somewhere in there, in between the shiny memories of my youth — when I held my breath and clung to each passing moment; counted eagerly, haltingly, “5… 4… 3…”; when lips were rosy and blushes, plenty — somewhere between innocence and the glaze of adulthood (I’ll be doing laundry tonight — what’s another year?), something got lost.

What happened to the magic? What happened to the nostalgia?

I won’t lie: 2015 has been a tough year. I won’t be sorry to see it go. Unlike many others, however, I don’t place all my hope in what lies ahead. I know that good will come in 2016, and that I am the master of my destiny, but there are things that are out of my control: no new year is all sunshine and roses.

And so I look forward to the new year resolutely. I will make the best of both the good and bad in 2016, and will always make the best decisions that I can. I promise to always be kind — even to myself. I won’t make resolutions I can’t keep but will continue living as I have, making the most of every day. I will learn from and cherish the past, but I won’t live for it; I’ll live for the future. And, most importantly, I will always follow my heart.

the christmas debate

happyholidays-2

Tomorrow. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow’s tomorrow is Christmas. Today is Christmas Eve’s Eve.

Huh?

But, wait. Am I even allowed to say “Christmas”? Would it be more politically correct, more considerate to say, “Holiday’s Eve”? After all, how do I know if you (my reader) celebrate Christmas? What if you don’t? Am I being rude?

As a kid, I don’t remember there being much fuss around Christmas. I mean, sure, there were presents and Santas and snowmen and trees. But controversy? Arguments? Boycotts?

Of course, here in the United States, the “Christmas Debate” has been exacerbated recently by ISIS attacks, religious shootings, presidential debates, and a lot more. Fair enough, but I can honestly say that, while living in Taiwan, I never heard of a “Merry Christmas!” offending anyone. Kids go to school on Christmas Day in Taiwan, and yet if you told them or their parents, “Merry Christmas,” they’d smile, and they’d say, “Thank you!”

The same is true there for Ramadan and Diwali and Hanukkah and Passover and Chinese New Year and a host of other religious and cultural holidays. There, they’re seen for what they are: celebrations, remembrances, family, humanity. Holidays are a celebration of life around the planet. Is that so hard to understand?

And so the next time I hear a news story about the Christmas Debate, I think I might scream. Or cry. Or, at the very least, sigh. A genuine “Merry Christmas!” isn’t religious imperialism, folks. It’s love.

ten minutes

thCAE4W3I2Ten minutes. How much can I write in ten minutes? We used to have free-writing sessions when I was in college. Ten minutes and you couldn’t stop moving your pen. You had to just write, and to let flow what would flow. You weren’t supposed to erase or edit or stop or walk. You were just supposed to write. Well, I can’t say I was ever very successful at it. I haven’t been successful just now. I’ve edited a few words, moved some things around. I’m tired, though. My eyes are heavy. I rarely write well when tired. And so I’ll stop for now. Maybe pick things up tomorrow. There are so many things to share. Ten minutes. Huh. I wrote this in eight.

Tomorrow.