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Tumblr

Not too appropriate of a title for a WordPress blog, hm?

I am announcing my Tumblr blog or… Tumblog as some of the newfangled techies call it. I’ve had it for quite some time, but I’ve been putting it to active use in the past couple of weeks. My longer blogs will be posted here, but some/most of my shorter musings will be posted on there, along with random songs, audio bits, photographs, etc., etc., etc.

Thanks to all of my readers.
All five of them. 😉

Tumblr is here

Love,
Grace

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Let’s Blame It on the Eggnog

Taking a break ’til the New Year, friends. (:
Have a wonderful time welcoming our transient friend, 2011.
Let us strive to live in the coming year — not merely exist in it.

Much love, and I do mean that “much,”
Grace

Happy Christmas


Photo: josy.hilton

Peace and joy and a merry Christmas to my friends and my love.
I hope the New Year will be the best of all years.

All my love,
Grace

The Syrian Tram Proposal

I wrote this out quite a few years back. It’s still true and still haunting me.

In the six months we were situated in Bremen, Germany, years and years ago, my mother and I found a wonderful women’s clothing store that had good-quality, low-priced clothing. We had lived in Africa for the past three years, so our supply of winter clothing was meager. After one of our afternoon trips to that shop and around town, we were waiting at the tram station waiting for the number three train that would take us home. I had my one-way trip ticket ready to be stamped. My mother beside me was frantically searching her wallet for her ticket. She pulled out one orange ticket after another orange ticket. Every single one of them had already been stamped and previously used! What to do?!

“Mum, why in the world do you keep the tickets you use?” I asked in a tone.
“You have to keep them for the whole tram trip, so I put them back in my wallet and forget to throw them out,” she replied, slightly irritated. “Don’t you have another one?”
“No, this is one’s my last.”
At that moment, a man I assumed to be Turkish – the largest minority in Germany being the Turks – started to say something to me in Deutsche. He went on for several sentences before I stopped him and tried to utter out “Ich kann nicht Deutsch sprechen.” Down the road, the number three tram was honking its horn to passers-by. The man tried to explain in English what he was saying in German.

“Er, I have a… monthly ticket? Yes. On weekends, er, it is good for two people. You can er, share it? Yes, with me.” My mother and I lighted up and agreed immediately as the tram was pulling up to the station. The three of us boarded the train together. We sat in three seats parallel to the door, myself being seated between my mother and the magnanimous man. We thanked him copiously as we got comfortable.

The tram started to move. We all sat in awkward silence, not knowing what to say after expressing our gratitude. My mother the Great Evangelizer, being braver than I, started to speak to the man.

“So! What country are you from?” my mother said with a beaming smile.
“Oh, er, I’m from Syria,” the man said with a sheepish grin.
“Oh really! What are you doing in Germany? Are you a student?” my mother inquired genially.
“Yes! I am, er, a little late? Yes, a little late. But it’s good! It’s good.”
“Oh, I see. That’s okay!” A slight nod and smile from the man. Silence.
“So, do you go to church?” my mother pressed on. The man chuckled.
“Oh no, I’m Muslim. Syria, you know? We are Muslim nation.”

“Oh I see. Jesus bring life, you know. He is the Way.” my mother had just begun her preaching. The man, suddenly empowered by his duty to defend his religion, started to speak with more confidence.
“Oh, I believe Jesus,” the man replied.
“Oh?” my mother cocked an eyebrow.
“Yes, I believe he was a prophet… He was a good man!”
“Oh no no no. He is the only One. He loves you,” my mother persisted. The man laughed out of awkward politeness.

“Jesus loves you, and he died for you on the cross. It’d be great if you went to church,” my mother continued. The man tried to be deferential under my mother’s hearty encouragements that were questioning his beliefs. My mother wasn’t being denunciatory. She was being warm and affable, trying to make this man go to church at least once. My mother soldiered on.

“You must be lonely sometimes as a student, right?” my mother said sympathetically. The man released a nervous chuckle.
“Well… yes,” another small laugh.
“See, if you go to church, you won’t be lonely! People are friendly and cordial, and you’ll make great friends. You’ll meet the greatest Friend of all.” She grinned with warmth. The man didn’t say anything. He didn’t smile. He didn’t let out his routine laugh. The Syrian man was looking from my mother to me. Me to my mother. My mother to me. He let out a long sigh. He looked at me again. His face was serious, unsmiling. After a few minutes, he started to say something and hesitated. A few more moments of quiet passed. My mother did not back down. She watched him with an unwavering gaze. I sat between them, casting furtive glances at the both of them, feeling more than a little uncomfortable sandwiched between two people voicing their beliefs.

The silence broke.
“Okay,” the man said. My mother’s face brightened.
“Okay,” the man repeated. “I will go to church.” My mother beamed.
“I will go to church,” pause. “I will go to church if you let me marry your daughter.” My mother’s face turned icy. Any signs of a smile ever existing vanished. The man stared intensely at my mother. She took a deep breath.

“Are. You. CRAZY?!” she uttered venomously. The Syrian man seemed taken aback. He stuttered.
“Er, erm, I’ll… I’ll go to church!” he finally said. My mother snorted.
“She’s fourteen!” my mother pronounced, exasperated. The man seemed perplexed.
“Yes, and?” the man said, shrugging.

My mother gave him a horrified look and pulled me closer to her, and we sat in tense silence all the way to our destination. Much to our chagrin, there were no more seats to which we could move, and the tram was already crowded. On top of that, the man got off at the same station we disembarked at, so we dealt with his ominous presence all the way home. Needless to say, my eyes were as big as saucers, and I was petrified the whole ride. So ladies, lonely, Syrian student in Bremen. Any takers?

Tell ‘Em

I just came back from watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I and the very second Big Mac I’ve ever had in my life.

Yesterday was a great day.

And here’s me rocking a Canadian tux.
And a blank stare.

I just thought a photo would spice things up a bit.
The fact of the matter is however, that I’m cold, and I can’t feel my thighs.

And that I’ll probably regret this post tomorrow.

But it’s all right.

My First Encounter with the Time-Out

I grew up everywhere. From temporary stays in Benin to extended periods in Bremen, I really cannot give an explicit answer when asked where my hometown is. However, my family’s first home in the United States was on the International Operations Center of Mercy Ships in Garden Valley, TX. And even in that confined area, our home was ever-changing.

We arrived in mid-March, only a couple weeks before my seventh birthday. Since the school semesters in the United States had different school years from Korea, I enrolled in the third to last month of first grade although I had just finished the first month of the grade in Korea. I remember the first month of school being hell. I would cry, utter the only phrase I knew through my tears: “Want home. Go home. I want go home.” My teacher was a wingless, roux, patient angel from heaven. She would assign a lengthy project and sit with me in the hall as I cried and cried and cried. I went home a couple times from crying and heaving so much that my teacher couldn’t do anything with me. However, when the tears ceased and I felt I could smile again, my kindhearted teacher would sit with me at the low, plastic table in the back of the room and go through phonics with me. She flashed an “O” card.

“What does this sound like?”
I cocked my head. I scrunched up my nose.
“Ow?”
She shook her head. “Au, o, oo.”

When I graduated from first grade, I was an unstoppable prattler. The tree had a different name from “namu”! The table had a different name from “shik-tak”! Oh, the summer was filled with discoveries and excitements alike.

I must add here as a side note that my family was the first Asian family ever to inhabit Van, TX aside from Mr. Burke, whom I believe was adopted from Japan in his infancy. And so, while enrolled in elementary school, I often took part in conversations not unlike the following:

“Are you Chinese?”
“No.”
“Are you Japanese?”
“No.”
“Then what are you?”
“Korean.”
“What’s that?”

———————

The IOC base was ridden with incandescent balls of energy in the form of children. Whoever said that energy is not created never met us. One minute, we would be inert, rolling about the grass making chains of wildflowers. In the blink of an eye, we would be in the offices of our parents, nagging them to play with us, to take us to the chicken coops. And so, after several parental meetings, they decided to create a sort of daycare for us wild tater-tots.

Some teenagers were chosen to assemble us into a single file line and march us to the small room behind the gym. The room was a cross between a storage room for dusty boxes of toy donations and a Wallyball court. We pushed the boxes to the corner of the room and set out a pink plastic table with matching chairs. We congregated daily to paint pictures of each other, to play Ring Around the Rosie, cook plastic ham and green beans, and coddle porcelain dolls to our breasts. Most days, we would be satisfied with such activities, calm in our productivity, lost in our imaginations. On other days, we would nearly explode with the want to climb evergreens, play pine cone baseball, to go hiking the Pipe Trail — a walk around the base on which we would teeter on the thick water pipes, or to go pester our parents to take us to the chicken coops. On those restless days, we would yowl and badger, tease and holler, shriek and harry. Those poor teenagers! They would take the rowdiest of the children and make their noses kiss the wall for ten minutes at a time. What was this bizarre ritual of the West? My little Asian mind would swim and try to respect this sacrament of the Land of the Free.

On one day in which we were feeling particularly boisterous and truculent, I decided to go all-in and join in with the romp and roar. I made animal noises, I scribbled inscrutable messages on the table, I threw the plastic fried egg across the room. The bags under the teenagers’ eyes were unmistakable, and my infantile sixth sense felt an imminent upbraiding.

Then they yelled. They slammed their hand down on the table. Their arms were flailing left and right. Their high school bangs flew about their faces. The pandemonium ceased as swiftly as it had begun. We sat unflustered at the table, our hands neatly folded in our laps, our face cherub-like. I giggled. A pair of flashing teenager eyes flared and glared.

“Grace, would you like a time-out?”

What was a time-out? What in the world was it? Time? Out? Did this mean time out in the playground? The end of today’s class? What could she mean? I recalled the phrase “time-out” from the other times she would ask the question and always wondered what it could be. My curiosity overwhelmed me. What do I do? My head felt electrified.

I shook my mane, flattened my skirt, and held my button nose high in the air.

“Yes. I would like a time-out.”

The girl’s eyes burst into flame as they shot daggers. She grabbed my arm with an astounding force. As she guided me to the fusty, maroon wall, she whispered sinisterly in my ear.

“You will stay here ten minutes. More if you’re smart like that. You will not say one word; you will not move from this spot.”

I was once again befuddled. Smart? Did that not mean intelligent? Nevertheless, I obeyed her orders and kept my face planted on the wall. I thought back to what had caused this doleful scenario. Time-out. This was a time-out? The enticing  mystery of the phrase crumpled in my head. It was not a set of sixty-four Crayola colors. It was not a dessert rivaling the beignets from Café Du Monde. It was not even a pat on the back. It was ten sweet minutes of my life, spent with my nose on a puce wall, my mind flashing with all the wondrous activities that could fill those 600,000 milliseconds.

Why in sweet Susan’s name would anyone ask this farcical question? Would I like a time-out? Would not the response obviously be in the negative? The absurd notion filled my wee nut as I grew more and more sullen. I thought of ideas to escape the building, taking my comrades as I went. Then who would they punish?! Who indeed!

A doe-eyed girl completely indistinguishable from the fiery woman who nearly yanked my limb off laid a calm hand on my shoulder.

“Would you like to come back to the table again with the rest of your friends?”

Pah! Another superfluous inquiry! What was this madness?!

Though ambitions of a mutinous getaway raced across my cranium, my terrified little self nodded with docility. I was led back to my chair as my peers looked at me, many sympathetic but most awed. As they colored bunny rabbits, rainbows, ballet shoes, and leprechauns, I did what most seven-year-old ankle biters would do after being chided publicly.

Pout.

Life, life, O life.

What a fickle friend and fickle foe you are.

The time in Canada was bliss. Rapturous bliss. And again, I am faced with the cutting wind of unsure roads to take. What to do? Do I need to carve the words “Think, pray” on my wrist?

I hope and wish and pray and consider. I so hope the next few months of my life are smooth. Smooth in transition.

Life, life, O often odious life. What will you throw at my doorstep? My “Welcome” doormat is out. It’s not the kind with the stiff bristles, no. It’s vibrant with colours of green and purple, and it’s been put out there in hopes that it will attract equally effervescent company.

Are you listening, Life? I’m ready. At least I think I am. And even if I am not as prepared as I’d like to be, thinking that I am is enough for me right now.

Are you listening?

I’m ready.