Tag Archives: United States

it’s a hard knock life

eldo-raleysI’m walking to my car in a Raley’s parking lot. It’s about 6 p.m., dark, and cold. I shiver as an icy breeze picks up. Why oh why did I forget my jacket?

Suddenly, I notice a woman off to the left. Her car is parked across a grassy divide facing mine. She’s at her car, like I am now, only . . . What on earth is she doing? The woman isn’t getting into her car but, rather, is pacing beside it. From trunk to passenger’s side, to trunk to — Nope! Nope! she looks at the driver’s side — passenger’s side. She looks angry. Safely inside my car now, I realize what’s going on, and, I’ll be honest, start laughing. The lady has parked her car a little to the left in her parking space. The truck beside her is parked a little to its right. The lady is about 100 pounds overweight . . . She can’t get into her own car! Continue reading

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the true meaning of the holidays

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My room in Taiwan

Two months after I left for Taiwan, I got a phone call. “Jess, your mom and I have something to tell you . . .” My parents were getting divorced. After nearly 28 years, my mom had made up her mind — it was over.

The conversation wasn’t long. There wasn’t much to say. I couldn’t say I was shocked. I’d seen the disconnect between my parents for years — both of them trying, each in their own way, to bridge the gap. Both of them failing. I’d convinced myself that they were going to make it, knowing, deep down, I was wrong.

After we got off the phone, I sat on my black bedspread and stared at the brightly polished wood floor that I’d scrubbed and scrubbed when I’d first arrived. Outside my window, the dark sky began to rain. I didn’t notice. My mind was empty; my emotions, numb. I wondered, blankly, how my brother would take the news. Continue reading

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a simple life

vfiles27343

A home overlooking Lake Folsom in El Dorado Hills

It’s a simple life, an easy life,
in El Dorado Hills.
Where cookie-cutter houses sit,
on cookie-cutter hills.
Where all the people drive to work
in fancy, shiny cars.
And all the children laugh and play
and look up to the “stars.”*

It’s a simple life, a quiet life,
in heaven’s spot on earth.
With all the fences whitely washed,
and mothers giving birth
To little ones who’ll laugh and play
and look up to the “stars,”
and grow up doing just the same,
in fancy, shiny cars.

It’s a simple life, a little life,
the one we’ve bought and sold.
Where all that matters is our health,
our riches when we’re old.
Where nothing’s to be thought, of course,
about the world outside,
for all that matters is our own,
America’s our pride.

*Stars as in celebrities

For an audio recording of this poem, click here:

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Image: Google

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lessons not learned (now learned!)

macbookHave you ever done something stupid and said, “That’s it — never again,” and then done it again . . . and again and again?

I have.

Last night, after putzing around on my blog for several hours, I decided to wipe down my MacBook before heading to bed. I am a clean freak, and while I love the sleek design of most Apple products, the fingerprints and other marks that love to show up on my screen drive me nuts. Well, I got out my Windex (I ran out of electronics cleaner a while ago and keep forgetting to replace it), sprayed it on a soft napkin, and then proceeded to “Cypherize” my computer . . . Only there was this one smudge that wouldn’t come off. I rubbed and rubbed . . . It was late, and I was tired, and in my impatience, I decided to use the Windex bottle to spray the spot directly. I did, and wiped it and the rest of the keyboard squeaky clean, and “Wha-la!” I went to bed and forgot all about it . . .

Until this morning. This morning, my keyboard freaked out. Continue reading

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what i got

sublimeIt’s mid-afternoon on Saturday. I’ve been home nearly a week and have only posted . . . once?! Big race is tomorrow (I’m running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco), and all I keep thinking is, “What do I want to say?” There ought to be a lot after my tripand there isbut all I keep coming up with is:

Life is . . .

Which then launches into:

“Life is . . . too short, so love the one you’ve got,
‘Cause you might get run over, or you might get shot . . .
Take a small example, take a tip from me:
Take all of your money, give it all to charity . . .
Lovin’, is what I got, I said remember that.
Lovin’, is what I got . . . I got, I got, I got.”

It’s the lyrics to a popular song by Sublime that came out when I was in grade school. It’s a song that’s a little bit timelessas in, it could have come out yesterday, the melody and beat are still so fresh in my mind. Not all of the lyrics are good, of course. But I find it interesting that even mainstream artists who talk about smoking pot and getting high keep coming back to the idea that life is short and love is all we’ve got . . . Continue reading

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the bad blogger

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One of my first views in Florida, not far from the Tampa Airport.

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It’s been funny, these past few weeks, not writing regularly on my blog. I feel like such a bad blogger. A good blogger — one seriously committed to her readers and to growing her blog — would have written posts ahead of time and scheduled them to appear at regular intervals during her absence. But not me. Those of you who know me well know that that’s not how I operate. I’m spur of the moment, genuine as can be, or not at all.

And so here we are: Two posts in . . . how many days?

I’ve missed my blog — and you. Writing is such a huge part of my life. And yet . . .

read

What kind of blogger reads while waiting for her ride at the airport instead of blogging on her iPhone? A bad one!

It’s been good to live away from my blog for a few days, too. Good to think without writing, to ponder without sharing. Not that I’ve been thinking deeply or found many profound things to say. This trip has been crazy — visiting New Orleans, participating in my good friend’s wedding, taking long walks on the beach (beneath the stars, of course), catching up with old friends . . . I’ve even extended my trip to this next Sunday so that I can visit Chattanooga. I can’t wait to revisit my old stomping grounds . . .

But with so much activity, there hasn’t been time for deep thoughts and great writing. It’s been good, and yet . . .

I can’t wait to get home so I can catch up with all of you! :)

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Image: Mine. All rights reserved.

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just another day in taiwan

Temple Dance

April 2010, Sanjhih, Taiwan

Sh**. As I ran, purse bouncing on my thigh, shoelaces untied, down the brick walkway toward the front gate, I could already see the Pony* pulling out of the apartment driveway. Damn. I stopped in my tracks and put my hands on my hips, exasperated. Grrrr! I was already late, and now I would have to walk the mile into town and catch a bus to Danshui from there. Dammit!

I considered turning around and going back to my apartment. I could text Lara and tell her I was sick and spend the rest of my Saturday evening alone, as usual. That would be easier. But somehow, I couldn’t make myself do it. I’d spent almost all of my Saturday nights alone recently. I knew I needed to get out. Continue reading

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in the beginning . . .

Taipei 101

Taipei 101

Something old and something new:

My last few posts have catapulted my mind in a million different directions. All of my posts do, actually. It’s just . . .

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on a single string of thoughts. Tangents are everywhere.

Today, then, rather than wax philosophical, I’ve decided to talk history. It occurred to me recently that I’ve never explained how I ended up in Asia in the first place. I’ve also been thinking about starting a weekly section — “Forever Friday” . . . maybe? — and, well, if I do that, why not combine the two?

And so, without further ado, here is the first installment of . . . whatever this is. I hope you approve! 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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finding the here and now

I made it. Starting at 7:45 a.m. (we got a late start) and 45° F (7° C) on Sunday, my dad and I took off from our cabin and didn’t look back. We rode clockwise around the lake, starting from the south shore. It was my first organized ride—Bike the West: America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride—and kind of fun. There were a lot of cyclists on the road and people cheering along the way.

The first big climb was around Emerald Bay, a popular tourist spot on the lake. At the bottom of the hill, right by the shore, is an old home called Vikingsholm. It’s quite pretty and made entirely from materials native to the Tahoe area. Continue reading

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searching for the here and now

I’m in Tahoe this weekend. Lake Tahoe is about an hour from my hometown and an hour and a half from where I currently live. It’s a lovely place, famous for its natural beauty. Just outside my cabin window are huge pines and a forest floor littered with pine cones and dry pine needles. During the winter, it snows.

Lake Tahoe is the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevadas, and, at 1,645 feet (501 m), is second only to Crater Lake as the United States’ deepest. The lake is 22 miles (35 km) long and 12 miles (19 km) wide, making it the 26th largest freshwater lake by volume in the world. It’s a popular destination for tourists, including cyclists, skiiers and snowboarders, gamblers, and renaissance fair enthusiasts.

To me, though, it just feels like home. Continue reading

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factories of death—a reblog

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Image by GMB AKASH

“Today, I count myself blessed to have become a photographer. To be able to articulate the experiences of the voiceless, to bring their identity to the forefront, gives meaning and purpose to my own life.”

– GMB AKASH

I used to think reblogs were silly. I didn’t understand why people would post them. Were they too lazy to produce their own work? Or was it, sometimes . . . something else? Continue reading

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heartless, or . . . ?

homeless-guy-sign-paypal-donation2I was being compulsive. Again. I’ve told you I’m a clean freak, right? Well, I am, and today it was about my car. I’d just gotten it washed after my trip to San Francisco (more on that later), and now, next door at Chevron, I was wiping dirt off of the engine under the hood.*

As I was working, I suddenly became aware of a car right behind me.

“Excuse me. Miss?”

I turned around to see a large Hispanic man leaning out of an old tan Buick. He was wearing a long-sleeved shirt despite the warm weather and a thick black mustache over pale lips. A dark-haired woman sat in the passenger seat beside him. Continue reading

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why “shift”?

4shiftToday is a bit rushed. I have several posts in draft, but recently have been working on updating Shift. In particular, I’ve made quite a few changes to my menu. If interested, check out my “about” section where there are now three sub-items, including one that explains in greater detail why I chose the name Shift. I’ve also dedicated a page to my rock climbing story beneath “top posts,” and well . . . Just check it all out. I promise you won’t be disappointed. (Well . . . Maybe I shouldn’t make such boasts. But I can at least say I’m happy with the way my blog is slowly coming together!)

Much love to you all,

Jessica

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on and on you go

dress3From here to there and everywhere,
on and on you go.
I hear you there, or is it there?
Your face, you’ll never show.

O’er sea and over mountain,
continent and plain,
in Africa and Asia . . .
The world is your domain.

Sometimes you get angry,
you howl and growl a lot.
You know it is quite silly—
I’ll not move from my spot.

But when you’re sweet, you’re lovely;
you caress my soul.
Your fingers full upon me,
you can take me whole.

And though I cannot touch you,
on wings you fly me high,
to places where I knew you,
under another sky.

Tip: Read aloud. ;)

Image: Pinterest

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school of hard knocks

KBS-school-of-hard-knocks_pasteup-1024x768I cried yesterday. I never cry.

Because of the weird way in which my local paper works (it’s a tiny paper), content I write often appears online before it appears in the printed edition. This can be both good and bad. It is good when I am eager to see what the editor has done with my work—usually he changes very little, of which I am proud. It is bad, however, when I have made a mistake and someone catches it, but, alas, it is too late to make changes before the article goes to print.

That is what happened this weekend. Continue reading

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let there be light

boston-bombinged

“You will be remembered. Stay strong Boston.”

It’s been nearly two weeks since the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Nearly two weeks since two alleged terrorists killed three people and injured 264 others at one of the world’s oldest and most beloved annual events. Nearly two weeks since chaos erupted and an entire city was shut down to find the imposters. Nearly two weeks, and I have yet to say a word.

I haven’t mentioned Boston.

Why?

Is it because I am heartless? Am I too busy writing articles to concern myself with the plight of marathoners far, far away? Too busy talking to birds and making up poems about the night sky to worry about things like death and destruction? Too busy pondering life to take stock of what’s happening in it?

Or is it . . . something else? Continue reading

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carry on

stormAlone I sit and contemplate
this thing that we call life:
Desires we cannot satiate,
the struggles and the strife.

I wonder why we do it now,
I wonder why we try.
I wonder why we carry on,
why not lay down and die?

I guess there’s hope—
the future, see?
Our dreams, they are
a mystery . . .

But, no.

It’s been all these years:
He’ll not return to me.

(He’s God’s, can’t you see?)

I wonder why I do it now,
I wonder why I cry.
I wonder why I can’t let go,
for him, alone, I’ll die.

Unworthy . . .

(God judge me.)

He doesn’t mourn for me.

Image: Pinterest

Note: I feel badly. This poem is not about death (at least not in the traditional sense), though it could easily be read that way. Please, dear readers, do not mourn for me. I did not mean to mislead you or look for sympathy.

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i stand corrected

hk

Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong

I remembered, after my last post, a conversation I once had with a friend.

“My teachers told me I was stupid.”

I looked at him. “They did what?”

“They told me I was stupid.”

“That’s terrible! Why would your teachers say that?”

“I don’t know. My grades were bad.” He looked out the window. The sun was sparkling on the water. It was a surprisingly clear Hong Kong day.

“Your grades were bad because you didn’t study, not because you’re stupid.”

“The education system is messed up.” He glanced back at me and then down at the table. There was a checker board there, in case we’d brought pieces to play. Continue reading

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the luxury of dreams

images3edHe was short. When he walked, he lilted—up and down and up and down—bobbing as a buoy on the sea. Maybe because one leg was slightly longer than the other. Or perhaps he had flat feet.

No matter the weather, he wore a t-shirt (fitted tightly over rounded belly) with shorts and flats. Sometimes he wore a sweatshirt. His sandy beard he kept unkempt. His bus, however, was immaculate.

I saw him often—on my way to and from home. He drove the 103M, the minibus between Tseung Kwun O, the closest MTR station, and Clear Water Bay. Around and around he’d circle, letting passengers on and off, waiting in the dimly-lit parking garage for people shivering or sweating to fill the bus so he could take them home. While he waited, he’d wash the bus windows. Sometimes, he’d whistle. Continue reading

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hurried

17834267-busy-city-street-people-on-zebra-crossing

Forgive me, my friends,
for my absence.
The week charges on,
and I’m worried!
I’ve freelance to do,
and there’s work to be done,
so though my heart’s here
I am hurried!

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greater than all these

Taiwan_temple05

Dragons are the most exalted “animal” in Chinese culture.

I was struck by its colors. Bright red and yellow and blue and green . . .

But then it was gone. Nick* was driving too fast. But, oh wait! There was another one. This one looked similar, only it was bigger. Rainbow-colored dragons with yellow spines leaped from its peaks. Black-bearded men holding whips perched nearby. I was agog.

But then it was gone.

“Would you slow down?” I wanted to punch Nick.

“You want to see temples?”

I said nothing. Continue reading

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the luckiest girl in the world

qianhua elementary school

View of the school from our office.

I was forgetting something. What was I forgetting? This was important. But . . . Ohhhh. Sigh. The others were waiting for me. I’d already kept them too long. Forget it.

I grabbed my stuff off of my desk—including the portable heater and laundry bag I carried back and forth and back and forth between work and home—and ran out the door, down the cement stairs, over the wet tile, past the sewer vents, through the mud, to the van. I could tell the others were annoyed. “I’m sorry, guys!” I said as soon as I’d slid the sliding door shut. No one said anything. Suddenly I realized why. It was my turn to drive. “Oh, sorry.”

I fumbled for my keys in my purse and moved to the drivers’ seat. The gray sky began to cry as I drove down the hill. It was just as well. The pitter patter was soothing. No one felt like talking. Continue reading

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roads

road

My running route in Hong Kong.

There are roads—
paths I know by heart.
Up and down and up and down,
I run.
End to start.

There are paths—
friends I pound apart.
Fast and slow and fast and slow,
we go,
with no restart.

There are friends—
routes of little art.
Loud and soft and loud and soft,
we talk.
They know my heart.


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walls

castle-walls04

In sadness I fly
on what could be,
what should be.

In madness I try
to find vic’try,
make his’try.

In gladness I cry
I’m empty,
can’t touch me.

And then I break down.

*image credit: spokenwizdom.wordpress.com

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