Indecent Strength

Groan

physical emotional

overpowering indecent intimate

gasping grasping stretching breaking healing

hopeful empowered reconnected

stronger wiser

Grown

Posted in Life and Culture | 6 Comments

Three Words Matter

I was surprised by how shaken I was by 3 words. I had walked into the office, mid-conversation among my colleagues. My stomach seized. I turned to exit quickly. Even now, in the reshaping of memory, I can sense how someone might wonder if I were being overdramatic.

Was it the tone? Was it the certainty? Was it the repetition? Or did the words seem more forceful because they revealed a willful dismissal of my personhood and many others?

“All Lives Matter!”

“Yeah, all lives matter!”

“Everybody knows all lives matter!”

“Right.”

Tossed from person to person like a football snap. The way they were standing, circular.

My first call was to an old friend, a solid friend, but a white friend. I knew other friends would validate more completely with unspoken understanding, but I wanted to talk to someone who offered personal support, not necessarily political.

Her skepticism was buried deeply in concern as she listened. But the somewhat halting conversation built the foundation for the courage to consider direct action.

Of course, my second and third calls were to people who unequivocally WTFed what had happened in the office. When you have brown skin and are surrounded by white people, this kind of support is life.

I sent an email to the one person who had spoken with whom I felt I could salvage a connection with a phone call.

“Do you have time to chat?”

Her voicemail the next day was cheerful. I called back and caught her on the way to the beach with her family. I was on speaker phone.

“Visiting friends at the lake . . . great weather . . . You know how it is, you have to reach those 10,000 steps . . . “

“The reason I called, I was wondering if it might be better off speaker.” She quickly clicked to phone only.

She listened, then recounted her understanding of the conversation honestly. The people in the office had not been joking.

At the same time, she said she has been learning. She had seen a Facebook post which attempted to explain using the analogy of a white child’s funeral in which people callously commented, “all children matter.”

I countered with a time when I failed to recognize the heartbreak of miscarriage (I’ve never had one) and had wondered why a year later, someone might bring up the anniversary of having lost a pregnancy. I hadn’t fully grasped the pain of this loss since it was outside my experience. Since that time, I have come to understand the significance even after a child is born.

She laughed in recognition as I confessed, “I was a jacka$$.”

I still haven’t called any of the others. I’m still trying to figure out what’s next.

I’m not alone.

Posted in Life and Culture, Slice of Life | 4 Comments

Careful

  • Carry an egg on a spoon
  • Dismantle a bomb
  • Hold a newborn
  • Navigate a cliff
  • Measure ingredients
  • Follow furniture assembly directions
  • Teach children how to care for pets
  • Demonstrate how to tie a shoe
  • Ride a 2-wheeler
  • Drive on icy roads
  • Remove a block in Jenga
  • Tell your side of the story
  • Make financial decisions
  • Start or end a relationship
  • Consider internalized racial superiority / inferiority

100% of the police that are in my family are black. I am an Asian woman.

Posted in Life and Culture, Slice of Life | 9 Comments

Insufficient / Whole

insufficient

fragmented jagged

crack scatter discard

shards loss health present

complete sustain flourish

enough worthy

whole

Diamante Poem

Posted in Slice of Life | Tagged | 4 Comments

Rain, Reign and Rein and other triples

RainSun
ReignServe
ReinSet free
Homophones and antonyms
a2 + b2 = c2

Common Pythagorean Triples

3-4-5

5-12-13

7-24-25

8-15-17

9-40-41

Haiku

missed | mist and list | list

a homophone and a -nym

tear | tear: homograph

Posted in Slice of Life | Tagged | 4 Comments

10 Things . . . and other Isolation Challenges

An online community of people was created from a community that usually meets in person. We have been invited to respond to “Isolation Challenges.” Here are the prompts.

  1. Take a Selfie.
  2. What’s your go-to isolation snack?
  3. What’s your favorite living room decoration?
  4. Take a picture out of the closest window.
  5. What show have you been binge watching?
  6. What book have you read / are reading?
  7. Share a recipe.
  8. What do you collect?
  9. Take a picture of something you finally cleaned.
  10. Share a picture of something that’s given you joy during isolation.
  11. Let’s see your favorite coffee mug.
  12. Let’s see your isolation workspace!
  13. Share your favorite isolation meme.*
  14. What’s your favorite way to exercise during quarantine?
  15. Share an old picture.
  16. Do you have a hobby or project you’re working on during isolation? Show us!
  17. Share a podcast you’ve been listening to during quarantine.
  18. What game have you been playing during isolation.
  19. Pet picture, please!
  20. What is something that we probably don’t know about you?

10 things you hate that everybody else seems to love. In no particular order.

  • Artificially flavored watermelon
  • Ankle socks in winter
  • Pets with people names
    (Names in regular circulation. I endorse quirky names like “Rupert.”)
  • Referring to other people’s parents as “mom” or “dad.”
    (Usually with students, as in the office intercom,”Mom is here to pick her up.” Really? Is YOUR mom here to pick up a random student.)
  • The words, “kiddo/s”
  • S’mores
  • Caramel
  • Sunbathing
  • “I could care less”
    (or do you really mean, “I couldn’t care less?”)
  • British “quotation marks” that leave punctuation outside the end of a sentence.
    (I prefer the American style.)

Sharing this list with strangers is easier than with people I know and cherish. Too controversial.

I recently received an email from a friend who works in healthcare about why she had not joined a recent Zoom meeting, indicating that she was weary of hearing about the ways people are tackling boredom.

I capture this snapshot of the quarantine amidst deep suffering from loss of life and income. Struggling to balance respect and humor.

Where is the line between callous and compassion?

Posted in Slice of Life | Tagged | 8 Comments

Rebuke

“Rebuke” is an ugly word, but underneath its gruff exterior there is hope. Or the potential of hope for the best.

On the flip side, rebuke might have nothing but spite at its core.

Fear and pride are the most likely suspects when rebuke fails to induce change. Or at its best, growth.

As an adult, I am not rebuked often, which leaves me with a false sense that I may not require it. Most often the sources of rebuke are fellow drivers on the road, shoppers in line at the grocery store, my closest family members.

A police officer recently rebuked me for failing to stop in time which resulted in my car lightly hitting the one in front of me. I went to court to contest the resulting ticket. The person whom I hit had cut into my lane and come to a complete stop as I was slowing for a red light. She had seen a police officer on the side of the road and had switched lanes at the last minute.

Within minutes of being called into court, my ticket was cancelled. The police officer had not made an appearance.

The rebukes that I take most to heart are the silence of colleagues, a sad look in the eye of my father, the tinge at the back of my head when I laugh too hard.

A former neighbor has begun posting virulent political memes and comments about the party I support. A relative expressed disbelief at our governor’s shut down policy due to the pandemic. Another relative expressed frustration from the opposite perspective. Are these rebukes?

I visited my parents (from 6 feet apart and a Chlorox wipe in hand) recently after feeling hollowed out when I heard disgruntled reactions to the quarantine measures. I saw my father’s head bowed down near his desk. The day before, I had shared a flash of bitterness toward those mocking the reach of the shut down. I read his lack of greeting as disappointment. Without a word, I understood that my relationships with our relatives whom we both love dearly, mean more than their political views.

It turns out my father’s head was bowed over his desk, focused, attempting to change the battery on his phone.

On Sundays, I have been meeting with a group who is attempting anti-racism work. What rebuke must we hear and from whom? Are we qualified to rebuke others?

Rebuke is tricky. The purest kind requires love. Which ironically, like racism, begins within the heart. The heart is wild.

How do you cultivate a rebuke? Start with a vision of a better future for all, but also individually. Spend time with the recipient. Believe that the recipient has the capacity to grow. Instruct thoughtfully and specifically.

I pray for the humility to both receive and offer rebuke.

My face is heated just thinking of specific situations where this might translate into real life.

Courage. A personal rebuke.

Posted in Slice of Life | Tagged | 10 Comments

Slip of the Knife: Wounded

Deep red peppers

Shiny, freshly washed

Plump curves

Serrated knife

Rare expensive tool

Purchased from

Earnest college salesgirl

Rips cleanly

Into crispy flesh

Curled fingers

Position final uncut section

Slip

Fish gill wound

Open near fingertip

Stopped by fingernail

Pause

Blood

Bleeding

Bright red paper towel

Rinse

Double band-aid

Staunched

1 week later

Hardened skin

Deep red pepper

Freshly washed

Thoroughly dried

Serrated knife

Curled fingers

Slice.

Posted in Slice of Life | Tagged | 10 Comments

Pandemic Superpowers

I’m not one to endorse gimmicky Gen-X “adults are still kids at heart” hooks like naming my superpower, but the pandemic has offered the quarantined in rich industrial places the opportunity to appreciate the ordinary for the superpowers that they are.

Also, I stand in awe of the tremendous forces that are behind what it takes to provide each one.

A List of Pandemic Superpowers

  • Occupy a temperature-controlled shelter
  • Source and treat water (with the help of the experts at water treatment plants)
  • Control the pressure of the water delivered into faucets (by living in the era of water towers)
  • Clean thoroughly without use of tongue: Soap in a variety of forms
    • fruity and viscous
    • watery that turns foamy
    • powdered
    • solid (bars)
    • gooey (toothpaste)
    • sprayed
    • pocket-sized
  • Connect virtually
    • Zoom
    • Google Meet / Hangouts
    • Facetime
    • Seesaw
    • Instagram
    • Facebook puzzle, photo and list challenges
    • Text app: day-long family group chats
  • Entertained without leaving home: Hulu, Prime, Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, PBS
  • Harvest food without planting, weeding or slaughtering: Grocery stores
    • Fresh produce
    • Flour
    • Salt
    • Yeast
    • Sugar
    • Butter
    • Eggs
    • Milk: whole, 2%, skim, oat, almond, coconut, half and half
    • Cheese
    • Sour Cream
    • Pasta
    • Plant based burgers
    • Toilet Paper!!!
  • Travel distances without the use of legs or wings: cars
  • Support those without the same superpowers immediately available:

The superpower of the community.

Deepen, expand and encourage writing skills personally and collectively:
Slice of Life Writing Challenge

Writing daily, knowing that a community of people are ready with open arms (and possibly eyes) to hold me accountable has been an incredible blessing.

Thanks to each of you for making March memorable for more than the obvious reason.

Posted in Life and Culture, Slice of Life | Tagged | 4 Comments

Jellyfish are NOT my favorite animal

Jellyfish are not my favorite animal.

My relationship with jellyfish began when I was 6 years old—when our family moved within walking distance of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. As soon as summer brought lifeguards to the wooden stands, the jellyfish had already floated close to shore.

The intimacy of the Bay particularly attracted jellyfish in such density, that our family would often drive on the weekends to Virginia Beach instead. Virginia Beach had more of an open coastline where the jellyfish weren’t hemmed in by jetties and a sand bar.

The electric buzz of a jellyfish sting was mirrored by the low hum of fear that trailed a young bather whenever she waded into the salty waves. Stray tentacles lurked under the surface. Their potency drained slightly, but not enough to render them harmless. Dangerous transparent spaghetti. A wolf in a floating plastic bag clothing

Constantly on the lookout for lackadaisically floating spherical blobs, whitish against the grayish green of the ocean, my eyes would tear up from the light sparking off the shifting low waves.

Thinking I could escape the lazy predators in the tumult of mountainous waves, I would dive into rolling water. My body would be spun and eventually tossed out. Again and again, I would surf and while being carried ashore, I’d think I had outsmarted my beach nemeses.

Sometimes, the sting would only be noticeable once you got out of the water. Whether it was the sticky salt water drying from the heat of a midday sun that attracted and coated sand on your legs or the sudden calmness of being on land, a burning sensation would be brought to your attention.

Jellyfish would often haunt my nightmares. Their silence. Their sheer numbers. Their whole and dismembered bodies. Their transparency. Their red and blue veins. Strewn under and at the surface, as well as inert on shore.

As an adult, living near the unsalted Great Lakes, rather than the Atlantic, I am now fascinated by jellyfish. They are like that childhood bully. Whose intimate knowledge you acquired through this unbalanced power relationship. But when others grasp onto their notoriety, you begin to feel possessive. Dismissive of a sudden popularity.

I knew them first. Growing up. Jellyfish were not my favorite animal.

Now? My favorite animal? What do you think?

Posted in Slice of Life | Tagged | 2 Comments