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cling to hope

Some of you have wondered where I’ve been. I’ve been posting less often, commenting the same . . . Have I given up blogging? Have I given up loving? Am I heartless? Do I not care?

Hardly, friends! Anything but! I do care, and care all the more! It’s just . . . my life has been shifting. To give you a review:

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In December, 2009, I moved to Taiwan. My viewpoints were challenged. My perspectives, changed.

I shifted.

cks memorial

At Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

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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my hero

Dr_Stephen_Cyphers

Dr. Steve (a.k.a. Dad)

My dad is my hero.

Those of you who’ve been following Shift for a while may remember that my father is an orthopedic surgeon. He fixes bones. It’s a good job, and an important one, but what many people don’t realize is just how hard it is: My dad has NO IDEA how to sleep for eight hours.

Last weekend, he was on call*. It’d been a busy few days (call goes Thursday through Monday morning), and by Sunday afternoon he was ready for the weekend to be over. He was hoping the emergency room would stay quiet overnight, but, as usual, it didn’t. At around 10 p.m., as I was returning home from a bike ride, he passed me on his way to the hospital. A man with an ankle fracture and dislocation had been admitted to the E.R. He needed surgery, and it had to be done that night. Continue reading

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this is me

stand aloneed. . . and this is real.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is that makes writing powerful. What is it about a blog that would bring you back and leave you wanting more?

One of my favorite bloggers is one of most irreverent, vulgar, say-it-like-it-is bloggers on the Internet. His writing is awesome, but what makes him powerful is that he is REAL. He doesn’t hide behind a curtain of pretense. Oh, no — he owns his shit. (Pardon my french for those of you who aren’t used to cursing on my site.) He talks about everything from alcoholism to fighting for custody of his child to his religion (or lack thereof) to parenting to . . . And, what’s more, he doesn’t give a damn what others think. He would never apologize for cussing like I just did. Continue reading

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for all that you are

My beautiful picture

My mom with Derek . . . and fire!

For all that you are,
and ever will be,
I’ll love you forever,
Happy Birthday, Mommy.

.. Continue reading

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path to immortality — a father’s day tribute

babydad

My dad with his dad, 1956.

We start out mere mortals,
’til “Father” turns son.
It’s then our potential
“forever” is won.

We live through our children,
and they on through theirs.
So what will we show them?
How say, “Daddy cares”?

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pool

Dad’s love for the water started early. (Dad, right, with his brother Verlin in their backyard in Riverside, late 1950s.)

Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Two kids in a tub.

..

It’s here I’m no expert,
but look to the best.
And he to his own dad—
they both passed the test!

With love and compassion,
through fire and through ice,
they gave with devotion,
and never thought twice: Continue reading

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mom’s got the gun

82214615_Power_Of_Symbol_HeroShe was gangly. I was early. While I waited, sipping my cappuccino in a corner, I watched her. Except for one scraggly strand at her temple, her thin yellow hair was pulled tightly to a bun on the top of her head. The loose strand was hot pink. Piercings filled with metal ran up and down her ears. Her jeans fit like tights.

She went outside to smoke a cigarette; icy air blasted the store as she went. I shivered and shook my head: she was all of about sixteen.

My friends arrived, and, for the moment, she was forgotten. Lost in conversation and the catching up of years, I failed to notice her reenter the store or the way she was camped out, vacant, on a sofa in the corner.

That is, until the text. Continue reading

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just like mommy

girlsShe took the room by surprise. Or maybe it was just me. I noticed her as soon as I walked in.

She had on hot pink shorts two sizes too small, and a bikini top over breasts two sizes too big. Across her back and on her arms and legs were tattoos; her ample girth jiggled as she walked. Even more interesting was her hair. Pixie length and bleach-blonde, her “locks” were pulled into pigtails that looked like sprouts coming out of the sides of her head. Earrings glistened from her ears.

Most noticeable, though, were her eyes. They were dark and masked by makeup and . . . bruises?

She was toting a three-year-old. Continue reading

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grandparents aren’t supposed to die

My Nana died tonight. I didn’t cry. I have, and I will. But I didn’t when I heard the news. Some things take a while to settle in.

grampa2

Grandparents are the best!

It occurred to me recently that, in the span of six months, I have gone from having three living grandparents to, now, only one. It is something that was never supposed to happen, really. Grandparents aren’t supposed to die. They’re the ones who tickle you and tell you stories and sneak you treats when Mom and Dad aren’t looking. They’re the ones with gray hair and wrinkles and sparkly eyes and easy smiles. They’re the ones who age but don’t get old, who tire but are never too tired for you.

They are, and always have been, for eternity.

Until tonight. Continue reading

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little birdie

54_SPARROWS ON WINDOWLittle birdie out my window,
Chirping, calling, “Come and play!”
Can’t you see I want to join you—
Work, I must, this day away!

But when I’m through, I promise you:
Nothing here could make me stay.
I will find you through and through,
We will play the day away!

Image: Pinterest

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thank you

beachSomething I didn’t expect when I started this blog was . . . Well, two things actually.

One, that anyone (besides my dad—thanks, Dad!) would ever actually read what I wrote, and . . .

Two, that I would begin to feel a sense of community with the people I never expected would read my blog who actually did.

Creating this blog has allowed me to express my thoughts—thoughts which previously bounced endlessly around in the recesses of my mind—with an unknown world. In return, the unknown world has, for once, been kind: You have made me feel less alone. Continue reading

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just like you

01_hells_angels_harley_51314

October 1999

My sophomore year of high school, about six months before I got my driver’s license. My then boyfriend (a wise-beyond-his-years 17-year-old) was driving my little brother and I home from school. School let out early on Fridays. It was a beautiful day—a perfect day for ice cream.

“Mmm, that looks good. What kind is that?”

“Gold medal ribbonduhhh!” grinned 13-year-old Derek. Chocolate ice cream was dripping from his cone all over his hand.

“I should have guessed,” I laughed.

“What kind did you get?” my boyfriend asked, grabbing a chair in the sun. He had a strawberry cone.

“Peach.” I winked.

“Mmmm.”

hells angels

Image: Jason Hunt (Pinterest)

Suddenly, we were distracted. A large group of motorcyclists had just roared into the parking lot. They were dismounting their bikes and walking heavily—clunk, clunk, clunk—towards our pleasant spot in the sun. Apparently they thought it was a good day for ice cream, too.

As they approached, I saw black leather and shiny boots. Their bronzed skin boasted jagged skulls and barbed wire and other fading tattoos. Their vests said “Hell’s Angels.” They smelled funny.

I wrinkled my nose.

“Don’t be rude, Jess!” hissed my boyfriend after the men had tromped into the store.

“I’m not!” I protested, but he cut me off. Continue reading

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confession

MD means "My Daddy"

A long time ago…

I have a confession. I really, really, really wanted to lie to you in my last post.

I wanted to tell you my dad was a plumber. Or a roofer. Or a trash collector. Anything, anything but a doctor.

Why? you might ask. Are you ashamed of what your parents do?

Absolutely not. I am incredibly proud of both of my parents. My dad is known around town as one of the best docs in the area. Neither one of my parents came from money. They worked hard to get where they are. And they still work hard. My dad gets up between 4 and 5 a.m. and works 14 to 16 hours almost every day.

He has my entire life.

But I’ve always hated the connotation of being a “doctor’s kid.” Continue reading

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mrs. andrews

The old woman lay dozing. Mussy hair framed her pale face; the hair was white, like snow. IVs pumping clear liquid ran between needles in her wrists and plastic bags beside her bed. She was tall, and very, very thin.

“Hello, Mrs. Andrews? Are you awake?”

Wide eyes opened, alarmed. The eyes were brown.

“Didn’t mean to startle you,” said my dad. “I’m Dr. Cyphers and [motioning to me] this is my daughter, Jessica. We came to wish you a Merry Christmas.” Continue reading

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