Category Archives: dreams

my prayer

San Ramon, California

San Ramon, California, where I work

Sitting in my darkened apartment, listening to the hum of traffic on University Avenue. It’s Saturday evening and my weekend has (finally) officially started. I’ve had thoughts all week about what to write right here. And yet, now, when I finally have the time . . .

the words,

the topics,

seem . . .

Misplaced.

Like me.

This past week, I met a new student at work. His name is Kaustubh, and his family moved to California from India this past year. Kaustubh is a quiet boy, and eager to please, but it wasn’t until I read his self-introduction (hand-written in perfect cursive) that I fell in love with him.

My name is *Kaustubh. I am 11 years old. I will go to 6th grade. I am born in India. All my family members are living in India. I am the eldest child in my family. I like to read books, especially non-fictional ones. I like to swim and skate. I like to play with Legos. I like to learn new things. I have very few friends. I like to eat pasta and french fries. I don’t like to fight . . . I thank my parents, my teachers, and my elders who taught me good things and made my life easier.

I like to read books, especially non-fictional ones. I like to swim and skate. I like to play with Legos . . . I have very few friends . . . I like to eat pasta and french fries.

To look at him, Kaustubh seems . . . different. In his button-up shirt and pressed blue jeans (smelling of curry and spices), with his jet-black eyes and neatly-combed hair, with his thick Indian accent and shy demeanor, it’s easy to tell: he’s not from around here. But there’s an excitement in his eyes, a glitter I can see. Different or not, Kaustubh is yet a boy. He’s a boy just like any boy who likes Legos and pasta and swimming and french fries. And Kaustubh is hopeful. America was once a foreign land of dreams — and now? It’s his home.

And I pray. Deep inside, as I hear his chatter and watch him shedding his shell, “The teacher’s are nicer — they don’t yell at you! The weather is better. The food is good . . .” I pray. Please, God. Please. Protect Kaustubh. Don’t let life take the wind out of him . . . Please.

‘Cause some days it sure does take the wind out of me.

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* name changed

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Note: I started this post two? three? weeks ago? I am just now publishing it . . . Currently in Northern California a terrible blaze is threatening to destroy the forests I grew up in. Since it started a week ago (by arson?), the King Fire has consumed more than 81,000 acres and destroyed several homes. Some of my friends have had to evacuate their homes and are waiting with baited breath, hoping to return. My heart is aching. A follow-up post to come soon.

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why we write

writer….
Tell tell a story.

To tell our stories.

To share our hearts.

To fall apart.

To pull ourselves together.

To communicate.

To inform.

To breathe in.

To exhale.

To forgive.

To forget.

To remember.

To hope.

To kill hope.

To grieve.

To understand.

To apologize.

To express.

To think.

To garble.

To worry.

To cry.

To laugh.

To sigh.

To hurt.

To heal.

To give.

To receive.

To send secret messages.

To laugh.

To learn.

To love.

To fight.

To die.

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We write because we have no other choice.

Because writing consumes us or we consume it.

Because it gives voice to our tears, wind to our wings, air to our everything.

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We write because we are alive.

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Why do you write? Do you?

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“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”

– Lord Byron

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writer’s lament

writer's blockI’ve been trying to write a post all morning. Trying to reach deep within and pull out something deep and meaningful to which you might all relate. I’ve been thinking about black and white and gray and how I don’t believe in gray and how that is why I know religion doesn’t matter: We all know right from wrong. But instead of flowing like a waterfall, my thoughts are congested spillway blocked by matters of immediate importance: I’m stressed. Interviews and new tutoring positions (I’ve recently been signed on as a kids’ tutor at several companies in the Bay Area) are on my mind, not to mention bills and dreams and exercise things. It’s harder to ride my bike in Berkeley. I miss it.

And so I reach and fall and try and bail and am reminded of a poem I wrote more than a year ago:

I’m reaching and falling.
I’m hemming and hawing.
I’m trying and failing.
I’m rowing, now bailing.
Stop.

Another day.

And I wonder if this ever happens to you? And I wonder how authors do it? Writing comes so easily to me when my subject is on my mind. But when it’s not? Writing is like pulling teeth, only worse, because I want SO badly to do it, and do it well.

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fifty-word lament

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You were right. I never should have followed my heart. I should have been a doctor, or a nurse, or a dentist, or a teacher. Doing what you love means nothing in the world of commercialism. Proving you have talent is impossible when no one will give you a chance.
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A moment of discouragement. I’ll be back soon with happier thoughts. Promise.

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Image: Berkeley Walking Bridge. Mine. All rights reserved.

 

 

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my fear

parismoon..

Sometimes I lie awake at night, terrified.

I’m scared of:

Being the right girl.

Being the wrong one.

Being a good girl.

Being a bad one.

Holding on.

Letting go.

Abandoning dreams.

Creating new ones.

Thinking too much.

Not thinking enough.

Being too rigid.

Letting things go.

Holding in.

Speaking out.

Staying in one place.

Never settling down.

Going broke.

Making ends meet.

Growing old.

Dying young.

Dreaming too little.

Dreaming too much.

Being understood.

Being misunderstood.

Letting you down.

Filling you up.

Moving forward.

Moving backward.

Asking questions.

Not asking questions.

Seeing the world.

Not seeing the world.

Loving too much.

Not loving enough.

Loving you.

Loving myself.

Posting this.

Not posting this.

Taking the risk.

Not taking it.

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the trouble is

buddha“I turned thirty today. Wondered where the years have gone. I was never going to be thirty — ever. And here I am.”

After reading my birthday post, my Uncle Russell told me: “And now you think you’ll be in your thirties for forever! LOL!” And while he said it to be funny, it hit me suddenly — “By God, he’s right!” Every year seems to go faster than the last. Can you believe 2014 is already almost a quarter over?

And then I started thinking about my last post. We all have so many dreams, and so many people put them off for so long. “When I get that promotion . . .” “When the kids are grown . . .” “When I quit my second job . . .” “When the time is right . . .” We wait and wait and wait to go after the things we love. Often we wait so long that we forget what we are passionate about.

Recently, my sweet friend Carol told me:

“Don’t waste the years ahead. You are the creator of your future.”

You are the creator of your future. I love that. But we love to make excuses, do you know that? “I can’t because . . .” “I didn’t because . . .”

Of course this life isn’t all about us. Throughout life, sacrifices must be made. We have responsibilities, lovers, children, mothers . . . The best things in life are the ones that aren’t about us. But then another dear friend, Tony, reminded me that, while it may be terrifying to [go after what you love], going after what you love is “not as terrifying as approaching the end of your life and thinking, What if I had [fill in the blank]? Why didn’t I at least have the courage to try?”

We all have one life to live. What are you doing with yours?

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Image: Google

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P.S. Happy Birthday to an old friend. I always remember.
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the world awaits

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In looking for jobs recently, I updated LinkedIn. In updating LinkedIn, I got in touch with old co-workers. In getting in touch with old co-workers, I got a job offer in Taiwan.

And I couldn’t take it.

Those of you who’ve been following me for a while now know how important travel is to me. I’ve often stated how much I miss living in Asia and how I can’t wait to return. My dream job would be to work for a nonprofit organization whose focus is international relief. I want to write to make a difference.

But why is travel so important to me? How can I make others understand? Continue reading

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if i could go anywhere

foggy-vista-thumb..
If I could go anywhere, I would go to Carmel, on the coast of California, in the year 1990. My family would be staying at a small condo by the beach. It would be foggy and misty. I would be six years old, and my mom would be turning 32. We would be there to celebrate her birthday, and I would be laughing and twirling and calling her an old lady.

I would then take my six-year-old self on a trip around the world. I’d stop in Delhi, Dhaka, Beijing, Tokyo . . . Manila, Sydney, Cape Town, Istanbul . . . Bucharest, Athens, Rome, Lisbon . . . Moscow, Santiago, Pell City, Montreal . . . Continue reading

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imagine . . .

If you could go anywhere* — alone — where would you go?

Why?

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*

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If you’ll tell me your answer, I’ll tell you mine.

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Note: You’ve got to answer both parts of the question. No cheating!

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the book inside my story

IMG_0283

T-Wall — near where I fell

Most people I tell my rock-climbing story are more impressed by my story than I am. Sure, I’ve got scars. There’s a white mark just above my lip that annoys me every day. And?

That’s why it always surprises me, though, when readers suggest I turn my story into a book. After re-reading my story this past January, my friend Vance sent me a message: “So, I just finished rereading your ‘How Not to Die‘ story, and I’m asking myself: How is this not a book? Or, at least, the beginnings of one? It is truly an amazing story, however you take it . . .”

In the past, I’ve always brushed such suggestions off. That’s what I did to Vance. “To be honest, I’ve already written nearly as much as I know to say about my rock-climbing accident. I have no idea how I’d turn it into a book . . .” is what I told him. And that was the truth. In “How to Not Die,” I’ve given the reader everything I can — from my perspective. Continue reading

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uncertainty

blueIf songs of old,
our futures told,
would all our dreams be dying?

Would in the mist,
our lovers kissed,
we only be goodbying? . . .

Would there in space,
be time and place,
for fighting and for flying? . . .

Or would it be,
on easy sea,
that all we are is sighing?

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If ancient lore
and tales of yore
would tell me where I’m going –

I’d tell them back
to hold their flack:
This girl will keep on flowing.

For dreams of old
our futures hold,
what ever keeps us growing.

Uncertainty’s
a friend, you see,
and far better than knowing.

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For an audio recording of this poem, click here:

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Image: Pinterest

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life is precious — treat it well

2014-year-of-horse-chinese-new-yearI ought to be asleep. No, really. Normal people go to bed before 11 p.m. Normal people also go to bed before 12 a.m., and 1 a.m., and 2. More often than not, I go after 2. Even on work days. Even when I’m tired. Even when I haven’t gotten enough sleep for weeks and weeks and weeks.

You see . . . I just . . .

There’s so much more I want to do than I possibly can in sixteen hours. And since we’re supposed to sleep eight hours out of every twenty-four . . . I put sleep off until I absolutely have to and often end up getting less than I should . . . And sometimes, yes, sometimes, I regret it. But only sometimes.

Tonight is not one of those times. Continue reading

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dead man’s lament

cemetery 3From darkness I came,
to darkness I went,
and wondered, inane,
how my days were spent.
As there in my grave,
in coffin so cool,
regret was a wave:
“Had I been a fool?”

My days had been good,
my days had been bad,
The life that I led,
was all that I had.
But what had I thought?
How far did I think?
Had I seen it not –
this critical kink?

See, money was mine,
and power and fame.
And all was a sign,
I’d much to acclaim!
And if I lacked love,
I wasn’t to blame.
That came from above,
was God’s little game! Continue reading

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where does the thunder go?

Rainy Day on Folsom Lake

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We’re on our boat and it’s Labor Day. No one’s out because it’s stormy, and we like it this way. The lake is ours.

With the wind in my face, and the rain to my back, I pretend I’m alone. I am alone. My thoughts fly with the wind rushing past me — over mountains, hills, and plains; forward, backward, now. And I realize:

I am not alone. Earth is ours.
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“Why the Egyptian, Arabic, Abyssinian, Choctaw?

Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder go when it dies?”

― Ray Bradbury

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Image: Folsom Lake, California (by me)

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the wild wind blows

Snow_Cavern_by_Emtoo2The wild wind blows
in caverns – slows
the beating of my heart.

In darkness deep,
where creepers creep,
I dream of days, depart –

To summer sun
where rivers run,
and all the world’s an art –

And all of love,
a perfect glove,
and you, the perfect part.

The wild wind blows,
a blanket, snows,
alone, I’m miles apart –

Continue reading

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who we are (and where we’re going)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always known how my life would turn out.

beach

Sanjhih, Taiwan

I knew what I wanted to be, and where I’d go to school, and who I’d marry (someday), and where I’d grow old. I knew who my friends would be, and how many kids I’d have, and that my parents would divorce, and that I’d move to Taiwan . . . I knew I’d have a serious rock-climbing accident, and that I’d survive. I knew I’d be “different,” and that that’d be okay.

I knew it all . . .

And I’ll bet you did, too. I’ll bet you’re an expert on everything that’s ever happened to you (or will) in your entire life.

Ha. Continue reading

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the butterfly

jar_butterflyThe tears do tumble down my face,
the one who doesn’t cry.
You wonder why I’ve lost my grace
who watch the poet die.

There is a place ‘yond time and space,
it’s here alone I fly.
And yet it’s here you’d me encase,
my wings apart you’d pry.

And so it is when you embrace
this poet from the sky,
be not surprised, in keeping pace,
if all I do is sigh. Continue reading

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beyond the walls

AWIn all the halls
and through the walls
my harried thoughts are singing.
I hear them there
and over there
like finches they are winging.

I think of you,
and you and you,
and, oh, the anguish stinging.
For every time
you seem sublime
I only end up wringing.

And so it is,
I’m only his,
the one who me is flinging.
And so I’ll go
where no one knows
and meet you there in clinging.

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“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” ― Rumi

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Image: Angkor Wat, Cambodia (mine)

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the watchman

moonAnd as by day the sun doth shine,
by night, oh moon, you are but mine.
For whilst the world around me sleep,
I walk alone and you doth keep.......

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.. Image: Google

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wrong way

oneway2Truth be told, I’m petrified.
The world’s “success” can’t be denied.

We must fight.
We must run.
We must race ’til day is done.
We must cheat.
We must win.
We must hurry, now “Begin!” . . .

And though I know it isn’t true,
deep down I’m scared—just like you.
If I do not join the din,
what, my friends, is my fate then?

Continue reading

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seeing double (or, the airport)

sfoThe airport,
(oh, curs-ed place),
where dreams forgot
are woken—
where all’s amiss,
remembered bliss,
and I, its long lost token . . .

The airport
(oh, bless-ed place),
where winging worlds
are lighted—
where dreams unfold,
of tales yet told;
and lovers, reunited.

Continue reading

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a sister’s perspective

Half Dome

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

A few weeks ago . . .

“Cris and I are thinking about climbing Half Dome for the 4th.”

Half Dome? My mind clicked. I didn’t really want to be a third wheel, but . . .

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah. I still have to apply for passes*, but if we get them, that’s where we’ll be.”

“Would you, uhhh, mind if your sister tagged along? I haven’t been to Yosemite in forever,” and then I added, “I promise I’d be a good guest!” Continue reading

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finding freedom

birdsAnd another thing . . . Why would anyone want to go into a field where half of the people you work with are jerks?

As many of you know, I am currently freelancing for a couple of papers in my area. It started out with an article last November. I’d recently moved home from Hong Kong and was trying to break into writing in print. I contacted the editor of my local paper and asked him if he’d be interested in a feature on a WWII/Korean war vet of my acquaintance for Veteran’s Day. Much to my delight, he said yes. Continue reading

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what the world needs

stars

All of the inspiration I need is in the stars.

I went running tonight, as usual. It’s been too hot to run during the day recently, and I like running beneath the stars best, anyway.

If there is one area in which Taiwan does not not compare to Northern California, it is the night sky. The humidity in Taiwan and, in many places, the smog and bright lights, make star-gazing an almost impossible dream.

In Northern California, on a moonless night, they’re all you see.

But I was worried, tonight, that I hadn’t been clear in my last post. You see, although I loved Taiwan, it would be a lie to say that I loved every minute I was there. Continue reading

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dreamers

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My view from across the street.

They were surrounded. From afar, I couldn’t tell what all of the hullabaloo was about. I moved closer and stopped on the sidewalk.

Across the street, a man wearing a red jumpsuit was teetering on the top of a ten-foot ladder. The ladder was free-standing. With incredible strength and skill, the man was balancing on the ladder while his team member held a unicycle—also ten feet tall—upright in front of him.

This wasn’t your usual street performance. I walked across the street.

The men had on headsets and were bantering back and forth, joking with the audience. “Don’t try this at home, folks,” said the man on the ground. “Try i’ at school—then you can sue your teachers if you ge’ hurt,” said the man in red. He had a thick British accent. The audience laughed and gasped as he began “walking” the ladder forward—arms pumping at his sides as though he were running—and moved from the ladder to the unicycle, torso falling forward, then backward, trying to find his balance on the seat. Continue reading

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