Sacrifice

Writing is so difficult for me. I find myself in so many moments throughout the day when my pulse is beating straight into my fingers to write. But those moments usually occur during the actual occurrence of inspiration, such as a class, a conversation, or a beautiful solitary walk. In order to transform all of the feelings, beliefs, and meanings into words, I must stop–pause–and write in that very moment. But is that the same as the criticism toward today’s obsession with photographs, in which we, as a society, are becoming less fully present because we are too busy worrying about capturing the moment on our digital cameras/smartphones in order to post on Facebook? By the time I get home and sit in front of my laptop or sit with a pen and journal, the majority of my inspirations and energy are depleted.

Being a writer is such a paradox. Admitting that I am biased, I do believe that writing is a way to truly understand the nuances of being a human being more than non-writers. That is why writing falls into the category of Arts & Humanities. And at the same time, writing requires so much sacrifice of one’s life and the possibility of experiencing so many other possible moments.

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The Fall

I could never talk about how much I truly loved my mom when I lived in California without crying. It wasn’t because I loved her so much, but because I was faced with all the wounds that made it impossible to really love her while feeling bitterness. I was bitter at the mistakes that she made, I was bitter about the fights, and most of all, I was bitter because I knew that the flaws that both she and I had prevented us from having a perfect love. The kind of love that we both deserved, but even more, the love that she deserved as my mother; as my parent.

I believe that is why God separated Adam and Eve–man–from Himself. Why didn’t he just ground them or discipline them in the Garden of Eden? Because he knew their hearts, and he knew that we all, as fallen humans, could not truly love him without the distance and absence of Him being fully present and TANGIBLE in our lives.

My relationship with my mom has grown infinitely since I moved to New York. I can sit, think, and talk about how much I love her without crying. Because the distance has slowly healed us, both her and I. And although our love and relationship has healed so much, I know in my heart that for us to truly be able to perfectly love each other, we must be together loving each other.

And that is God’s plan. The separation from Him has taught us how much we need Him, how much He has done for us, how the people that we are today is through his undying, giving, merciful, parental love for us. But that is not all! He does not simply benefit our relationship and two-way love for each other in the distance, but He promises that we will be together again, in which our love will be perfect.

I believe that is why he has given us Earthly parents when He is the truly Father. To use each other biblically and faithfully in order to learn what true love us, and to learn how imperfect and not entirely true our present love is.

When I talk to my mom on the phone, even though our phone calls never exceed five minutes, I know how much I truly love, appreciate, and miss her by recognizing all she has done for me, all the plans and hopes she has had for me to not harm me, but to grow me into a good human being.

When I know God better, when I pray to Him through this Heaven-and-Earth separation, I realize so much more that He makes more sense than anyone, anything else in the world. Although He does surpass all of our capacities to understand His philosophy, His logic, and His genius, I understand that He makes sense even in my own limited mind. He is perfect, He is love, and He is God.

Bird

A little defeated, a little relieved, she shuffled toward her light switch. She glanced at her fingers as they momentarily rested on the flip, expensive nail polish chipped and peeled. She heaved a sigh and turned off the main light, leaving her room almost unnoticeably less-bright. She loved the light because it gave her a false sense of hope that it was still daytime, and she was willing to sacrifice as much electricity as it took to keep her in her happy delusion. It’s okay, utilities are included in her dorm payments. Along with her soul.

She shuffled over to her next lamp, mindlessly wiped off any residual moisture on her thumb and the side of her index finger, and twisted the somewhat broken light switch four times until it finally turned off. This time, her action had created a greater reaction than the first time, but it was still light enough in her room to read, write, even cut your toenails safely. The Christmas lights strung around the room were on, and they were never, ever off.

She turned to face her bed. Time to crawl in and think about everything else that she might–no, will, she must think will–conquer tomorrow. Perhaps it was better that she put off coding those notes for the next day. Perhaps it was meant to be done on January 18th instead of January 17th, because everyone knows that January 18’s are much more fertile with epiphanies and other good stuff.

She looked back at her laptop. Just a few hours ago she had read in a book the words, “word processor,” and didn’t understand for a few seconds. That is how little she has used her laptop for words, writing. “Gossip processor,” “photos processor,” even “cat processor” would have rung a louder bell. She walked to it and placed her hand, this one with less chipped nail polish, on top of the open Macbook, ready to close it and end the night.

A twinge of guilt poked her, just bit more annoyingly than her unfinished coding, about her possibly ruining her resolution of writing everyday. But what was she to even write about? Her day was an overflow of lethargy. She had no encounters with the Lord that day, no anecdote that she found hilarious and hoped to God that others would also find hilarious, no life lesson to be shared. The only thoughts fresh on her mind were when she had shuffled toward her light switch, a little defeated, a little relieved.

Filling

Hello.

Perhaps I should start writing my blogs with a conscious recognition that there are a few who read this, as minuscule as the numbers may be. And no, I’m not being modest, because trusty ol’ WordPress has a built-in Stats tracker. It’s okay, I’m not going to pity myself. I pretty much abandoned this blog for around a month, which in this day and age is equivalent to around 50 years. Thus, it is understandable that people believe that I am done with dorsu.com.

I meant to write this entry two days ago, but I found myself in a tornado of catching up in a research project/paper that I’m *hopefully* co-authoring with one of my professors. But those specifics will be saved for another time. And if the plan falls through, it will most likely never be mentioned again, as it will probably be discretely swept away into the dark cracks and crevices; graveyard of all the goals that fell through.

I spent an entire day in Philly with Eric this past weekend. Although I had visited our original Capitol during high school, I could hardly remember anything about that city. Thus, it was a rather large shock for me when I stepped off the Chinatown bus. Uncomfortable, nervous, and weary were of the many scrambling feelings circulating my chest. It was not the fact that I was in a brand new city. Hell, I’m in brand new settings every single week in Manhattan. This unfamiliarity and foreignness was different, most likely due to the even greater disparity between the white hipsters and those who dress somewhat like hipsters, but not by choice. The smell of urine was stronger, the deserted streets were shadier, and the bar-filled downtown streets seemed even more juxtaposed to its rundown perpendicular avenues.

Despite how I have been describing our trip so far, Eric and I had an incredibly wonderful time. Although there are some out there who may put in their own dirty two cents, I am an American, and being in America’s [arguably] most historical city made me even more proud to be an American. Our visit to the National Constitution Center was my absolute favorite, especially due to its exhibit showcasing individuals who were denied their rights and freedom due to the color of their skin, and still chose to fight (and some die) for their country during WWII.

Anyway, I’m getting carried away with my description of my trip. That really was not meant to be the purpose of this entry. This is meant to be the purpose:

Upon returning to New York City around 11pm, exhausted and weary-eyed in the bus, it was the first time I felt the overwhelming relief, joy, and comfort of returning home. My first time actually “returning” to New York was just two weeks ago, but that was different. I was coming back to New York from my “home-home,” the house and city I had lived in for almost 15 years; I can’t compare California with New York. However, this was my first time leaving New York for a small trip to a somewhat distant and unfamiliar place. This was my first time going from the unfamiliar back to the familiar.

And that was the first and only real confirmation that I needed: New York is my home. The height of the buildings, the rainbow of people, even the dark, dirty alleyways–it’s my home, my familiarity, my life. And no matter how much longer or shorter I will live here, I know that I have permanently planted a part of my heart in this city. Home. I can’t stop repeating that to myself: New York City, my home.

Janvier

I was so sad to leave California last week, especially since I knew that I could have stayed for at least another week if Eric didn’t have to go back early for his grad program’s fieldwork. The warmth of SoCal’s weather, the convenience of having my own car, and the comfort of being with best friends made the thoughts of going back to a creepy, empty apartment (my roommate is gone until February), walking ten minutes to the subway while never taking my eyes off the ground in order to avoid dog poop, and squeezing antibacterial into my hands every half-hour so daunting.

Although time spent at home with family and friends is irreplaceable, this past week back in the city has been one of the best weeks I’ve had in New York so far. These past few days have been a time for Eric and I to be together without having to spread ourselves thin amongst work, school, cohorts, different friends, and small, sporadic opportunities to sleep. Each day has been filled with the simple pleasures: sleeping in, trying out different Trader Joe’s meals, walking those extra 30 blocks together instead of taking the subway, and, of course, watching episode after episode of Parks and Recreation: Season 3.

We’ve been together for over two years now. I’m in no way implying that we/I had begun to deteriorate or backtrack in our relationship, but at the same time, no couple can escape the ever-so easy downhill slope toward settling into comfort. Of course, there is nothing wrong with comfort, and I for one have no issue with routines. But it’s nice to have that moment when you’re in the middle of laughing with your partner about the most ridiculous joke that you’d never tell anyone else and you think to yourself, hey, I love him, and I’m so happy to be with him.

Verisimilitude

I dreamed that during my visit home, Mama giddily stepped toward me with light feet and a hunched back. Her eyes were wide and twinkling, and her voice was hushed, as if she didn’t want my brother Ron, who was currently in the shower, to hear.

“Don’t get mad, but… Ron showed me every single entry you wrote in your blog. I read everything you’ve written about me.”

Suddenly, even when I believed that I was still in reality, everything turned into a nightmare. For some reason, I knew she was talking about my old blogspot as well as this one. I knew that she was bursting with happiness because she could read beneath all of the convoluted words and emotions the love I have for her that I’ve never been able to tell her beyond, “Love you, Mama.”

But I was so angry. That was my privacy that was obstructed. I trusted Ron to never, ever show her those entries. My writings are my property, my rights, my separation from home, Mama. I blew up. I yelled at her. I cussed out Ron in front of her, even though he wasn’t even in the room. I told her that it was her fault for coercing Ron to reveal my private, separate life to her. I couldn’t control my rage. I kept yelling at her. I finally stormed upstairs to my room and slammed the door shut.

I waited for around an hour. Finally, I heard Ron coming upstairs (even in my dream, I can hear the deeper, louder, slower two-step-skipping pounds of my brother and the lighter but only slightly quicker one-step treads of Mama), and I walked out with the venom stored and prepared to release onto him.

From the upstairs banister where Ron and I stood, I could see Mama standing downstairs looking at the front door. I paid no attention to her, I was still angry at her. I was still humiliated and robbed of my words, my writings. I was about to tell Ron about the misery he had caused me, about how I have to go through all the trouble of privatizing everything online now, about how he had betrayed my trust, when through my peripheral vision I noticed Mama was now walking toward the front door. I didn’t care much for her action because I assumed she was going to get the mail or check the plants. But it was Ron who said, “Wait, Ma! Ma, what are you doing?” as she opened the door.

So I finally looked at her. She stood at the exit. And in my dream, I finally saw past the mask of anger and pride she usually wears, and I saw her sadness. Her face was not furrowed in rage. Her face was slackened, old, sagging. It was her eyes. I drowned in their darkness, waves of suffering and abuse engulfed me. I also saw in her hands a small pile of cloths and books. She was running away, and without words, I knew: she was leaving because my actions showed that I did not love her.

As she turned to leave, I knew that I would never see her again if I didn’t catch her. I sprinted down the stairs. I ran toward the front door. Everything was in slow motion. In that panic and urgency to catch her, a part of me knew that this was the typical scene of a dream: the more you want something to happen, the harder you try to move your limbs rapidly, the less likely your dream will permit you to run faster, to keep from losing your goal, to escape that permanent doom and regret. I didn’t think I could get to her in time. I thought that I had finally lost her forever.

But I caught her. I held her. And she collapsed into me, the sunken weight of a deflated balloon blanketing me. I cried and sobbed and said I was sorry over and over again. I was trying to say anything I could to make her stay. At first I blurted out that I was so angry because I had wanted to read those entries together with her. As I said that out loud, I knew deep down inside that that was a lie, because I never wanted her to read those thoughts. But as the words and pleas for her to stay frothed forth, the truth came tumbling out: “Mama, I didn’t want you to read them because I was too scared to tell you how much I really love you.” We stood weeping and embracing at the door.

Finally, Mama straightened up from my arms. She looked at me and gave me a tear-stained smile, the same smile that everyone says I got mine from. I was free, I was forgiven. Ron came down to both of us and said, “Why don’t we watch your blog entries all together?” Now, this is where my dream becomes more dreamlike. Ron held in his hands a DVD, and for some reason I knew that it was a film that embodied the spirit and essence of all of my written compilations. I said yes, and we all sat together on the couch in the living room, me in the middle. Ron put in the DVD, and rather than watching on a TV screen, we watched the images come alive above us, as if it were one of those futuristic holograms.

It was a long, red dragon and a young girl in traditional Chinese clothing, also in red, with a Chinese sword. It looked as if they were battling, as if they were both trying to defeat one another.

Suddenly, I felt another bit of anger in me that I needed to settle with Ron. I turned to him and said, “Ron, what if Mama got really mad and hurt by me when she read some of the entries I wrote in anger about her?” He seemed to not really know what to say, and then looked back up at the event above us.

It seemed as if the girl and the dragon had overheard the question I posed to Ron, and they had stopped fighting. They looked at each other with a confused expression on their faces, as if to say, “Did those entries (the very ones they are embodying and portraying) really contain hatred and possibly evoke anger?” Their silent gazes were suddenly broken by both of their laughter. The girl giggled behind her hands while the red dragon laughed with its jaws wide open. It was settled: how could they possibly be actually fighting? It was all for play! Underneath all of the apparent violence and suspense was the innocence and love they have for one another. They returned to their “fight,” but it was so apparent now that it truly was like the traditional Chinese practice: it was all for play and for show; not enemies but comrades.

The three of us watched together as the crimson scales of the dragon would rapidly spiral and flow through the air as the young girl in red tumbled acrobatically with her mate. The bright sparks from the girl’s sword reflected on Mama’s joyful and captivated visage. You’d think the dream would end there.

Ron got up and told Mama that he needed something, I can’t quite remember what. Mama, as usual, quickly stood up without another thought in order to fulfill her duty as Mama. As she began walking away with Ron, I had a slight panic in me: what if Mama is still sad and hurt by what I did, what if she leaves and never comes back again? As soon as those thoughts appeared, Mama turned around as if she had heard them. She put her hand on my arm, gave it a tight squeeze, and gave me a smile that let me know that she forgave me, and that she was never going to leave me.

They walked away from the living room into the kitchen, leaving me alone on the couch. I sat on my own, watching my writing come alive. My writing, despite its surface of shame and fear, radiantly boasting in its Chinese heritage. My writing, despite its surface of turmoil and confusion of how to love my mother, revealing that a mother and a daughter cannot claim anything else except the love they have for one another. My writing, in the end, to be recognized, viewed, and enjoyed by the writer.

Thanks, John

There’s an obsession with purity that we all crave. Even the rebels who dress and swear like how counter-culturalists are supposed to dress and swear want that purity, that consistency. They create blogs and fill them with images of naked women with supermodel bodies smoking cigarettes and snorting coke. They religiously reblog quotations of how religion and standards ruin the life of anyone who buys into them. Anything else that consistently upholds their identity–as long as there isn’t a speck of white salt in their black pepper.

What I’m trying to get at is I’ve been reluctant to post anything in this damn blog because I didn’t want it to be tainted with a single entry that would stumble and trip up this vision and hope that I’ve been striving for. Photographs taken with the most basic of make-things-look-pretty DLSR lenses are foolproof and require no risk of words. Incredibly short entries are, in fact, very personal and beautiful for me, but they’re an easier way out from fully textualizing my other buzzing, ongoing, daily thoughts.

The point is, perhaps for this new year, I will try to write in this as often as I can.

In my defense, there is one other legitimate reason for my lack of postings. Last semester, I engaged in the Daily Discipline of Writing in my private Moleskine journal, and it was actually an incredibly successful and fantastic development of my identity as a writer. I did not feel the need to write publicly because I was having my own love affair, between myself and my physical pages.

But here is to taking another step forward in the journey of writing. To writing. To prove to myself that there is no such thing as literally having nothing to write, because here I am, writing out that I have nothing to write. To admitting to myself that there is nothing pure under the sun, and it is in this confession and relinquishing to weakness that I am able to finally move forward. To understanding just a little more that He knows we will have flecks of dirt on our play-clothes, and He is prepared to wipe them off with strong and loving hands.