The hardest part is knowing you will never walk through the Orchestra doors again to come give me a hug and ask how I’m doing, even more than it was for me to visit you in your home for the first and last time and see you in your skeletal state. I wanted to be positive or say something uplifting, but I lost it as soon as I saw you that night looking like my dad did right before he went. You comforted me when he went. You comforted me when I was having a hard time at work. You did stuff like that for anyone you got to know and helped any Orchestra member work on their craft with you if needed. You were that kind of music teacher, one who was not just a music teacher. And that was just with the musicians you knew. The next day I heard someone sobbing in my car on the way home after work. Your record was on. I wanted to comfort her, the one that was sobbing. But my ugly cry was clouding the road and I couldn’t stop the sobbing because life’s not fair when it comes to cancer. I laughed at no jokes at work. I spoke to no one unless I had to. Nothing was worse than realizing the sobbing was coming from me, the girl who hates to be sad, who hates it so much she has to listen to Britney Spears to get back in a better mood. In less than two weeks later you went. My sobbing had become uncontrollable at this point. Then those of us who could make it said good-bye to you on a Monday night. But it’s not really good-bye. It was a celebration of your life, the way you left your mark on this world. It’s not about the numbers, but when I looked around and saw so many people there, it was a testimony to the way you spread joy to everyone you came across and made friends wherever you went. You were that kind of follower of Jesus. I didn’t lose it until one of your best friends in the Orchestra went up to the podium to share your funnies. There were so many, laughter came shooting out of my belly like a dragon and that was the beginning of the end of my sobbing. It was like a switch turned it off because I finally got it. It’s not about being sad because you’re gone. We will see you again one day. It’s not even about the way you played your sax so beautifully and humbly. It’s about the fact you lived a full life with the time that you had. You prioritized your family and friends because life is meaningless if you don’t appreciate those around you. But it all comes down to your love of the Lord, which is what motivated everything you did on this Earth. Now if I have a bad habit I want to break I’m going to think of what you said at the music convention to the trombonist before I start something I will regret: “Don’t do it, man!”
A drizzly morning. No bears though. Only mamas. Backaches. Crush thinking. (As per usual.) More sleep needed. One stop for lunch and groceries. Good finds at good prices. Fast cashier. (And polite.) Nervous stranger. Wondering why I have this effect on some people. Pimple on chin. Thank God for face masks. New pajamas. Clean sheets. Dreaming of going to bed on time. And caramel lattes.
I don’t know when I started listening to K-pop, but I’m pretty sure I found it on someone’s Xanga once upon a time. So it’s been a while, but I do know that I listen to it as a way to have some pop music playing in the background that won’t distract me since I don’t know Korean. Well, I don’t know Korean except for the few words I learned from watching “My Sassy Girl.” Which words? Let’s just say I was asked once why I am threatening the death of Korean squirrels. XD
I listen to K-pop off and on, but lately I am on again and this time it’s Hyuna. I am liking her newer stuff more than her older stuff, but her music videos, especially her older ones, are still too provocative for my taste. So I try and pay more attention to the translated lyrics and the music. Amazingly the lyrics are different from what I expected and I know a lot of Asian pop tends to sprinkle in some English words here and there without really knowing the definitions of those words, but I like Hyuna’s twist on how these words are used. For example, calling a love of flowers a “flower shower.” I like that idea now and I can credit it to Hyuna. (I like the music video for this song. She looks more pretty and ladylike rather than provocative.) She also sings about not being cool, which I think is vastly different from all the songs out there saturated with tints of how cool the singer is.
I have three Tommy Hilfiger items. One is a pair of jeans that is a collab with Gigi Hadid. I splurged on these back when I was working my old job when I wasn’t even sure I could afford them. I got them because her commercial made it look like a lot of fun could be had while wearing them. I knew that’s how all commercials make their products look, but I wanted these jeans anyway simply because they remind me of the kind the girls wore on “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” I haven’t had any magical sister-bonding experiences since wearing them, but I’ve gotten several compliments, so I guess that’s good. While getting them I promised myself I wouldn’t splurge on jeans this expensive anytime soon again. It’s been four years now and I’ve kept my word to myself.
Another is a baseball shirt that I got in high school because I always remembered that the prettiest most popular girl in my middle school would wear Tommy Hilfiger and I always wanted to own at least one Tommy Hilfiger item because of her. I didn’t wear it for long before I ended up getting two holes on one of the arms of the shirt during 10th grade chem lab when my lab partner accidentally spilled HCl on it and the acid ate through that part of the shirt. I don’t like to admit it, but I think I still hold onto the shirt as a clothing scar or something. It’s like I want people to see me wearing it at work or whatever and ask me about those holes so they can find out I still fit into clothes I wore at 15 years old and I survived HCl eating away my shirt.
The third is a black hoodie that I got at a Tommy Hilfiger outlet store. It keeps me warm in the winter, but whenever someone looks at it they think I paid full price for it. Nope. I just wanted something that would keep me warm in the winter. El fin.
Some body parts are long, like an elephant’s nose or a flamingo’s ankle. Some foods are as big as football players, like cheese wheels made in Wisconsin. Some letters don’t stand for anything like the “D” in D-Day. This Page Is Intentionally Left Blank is a contradiction, but it’s there to keep the pages in order and not mess up margins and such. I love being able to cook my grandmother’s “get well” noodles for anyone who is not feeling well or for whenever anyone has a craving for it. And the beat goes on.
Vaccine hunters are my heroes. It is worth it to go to San Diego just to see how ReBru Spirits functions. No one from Honduras should have to feel unsafe on their way to the United States. You know what? No one should have to ever feel unsafe anywhere or anytime.
BIBIBOP Asian Grill is coming to town and I feel like a child on Christmas morning. McKeever’s Market & Eatery is a place to forage and I want to try it out sometime. I’ve heard some good things about First Watch and I’m staring at all the ways avocado can be used in breakfast and lunch.
No cavities today and I’m so relieved. Toothaches are the actual worst, like Gen according to Lara Jean’s best friend. I think I’ll call them Genaches from now on. Or maybe Russian airstrikes. I can’t decide.
Dear Rachel Hollis,
Thank you. You don’t know me, but thank you for reminding me that sometimes watching TV is bailing on myself. Thank you for sharing your love story; I have learned how to identify toxic people in my life and successfully walk away from them. I have never felt so empowered in all my life. Thank you for that strength I didn’t even know I had in me. Thank you for sharing your pregnant story; I have learned that all you need to do during that time is make sure you take care of the baby and then yourself. If I ever get pregnant, I will keep that in mind. Thank you for teaching me that my goals don’t have expiration dates. I love that even though it took you years to buy your very first Louis Vuitton bag, you were able to imagine your dream in such intricate detail so early on that it became a reality one day. I’m sorry you went through so much trauma losing your brother to suicide, but thank you for sharing the story to remind me that trauma does not define my life. Thank you for talking to me like I’m one of your girl friends and believing in me even though you don’t know me. Thank you for not being afraid to talk about God, yet being considerate of those who are a different faith than you. I admire you for that. Thank you for not sugar-coating any of your stories and literally letting me see the good, the bad, and the ugly of what happened to you as a mom, as a marathon-runner, as a teen, as an entrepreneur, and as a writer. I know you wear even more hats than that, but truly, you are amazing just the way you are and I hope you stay that way. Thank you for sharing that part of eating every Oreo in sight and the other part of drinking all the wine. You are so honest, raw, and real. My favorite type of book to read is the novel and while your book was not a novel, I read it like it was the kind of novel I can’t put down. You don’t know me, but I love you as my sister in Christ. You don’t know me, but I think you do.
I remember you liked to take naps on the little bit of carpet on the stairs in the garage that leads to the back door of the house. I suppose you felt like you could hear your humans better and the carpet must be comfortable to lie on. Mom didn’t like the idea of you inside the house, so the unfinished basement it was, just for you to call a little home of your own. (I know it was a huge improvement from the CoMO apartment you lived in with me, as much as I missed my humble abode two hours away, or an hour and a half if I drive fast.) It’s been over a year since you’ve been gone, but I still avoid stepping on that spot as I see you curled up all cozy on the carpet, looking all peaceful like everything is fine in the world. I never wanted to ruin that little bit of Heaven for you. I’m so glad you missed all this virus craziness, though I’d imagine the only way it would have affected you is seeing me home more than usual. Looking at that spot now tugs at my heart and I know you could never be replaced, but I don’t want to ever fill that spot. That is yours, my black and white ball of fur. I’ll miss you for always, but I want it that way.
Every now and then a little spiciness is good for the soul. I like to have something Szechuan to remind me I’m alive in this world and still breathing. Ice cream is great to have on hand in case things go very wrong. Or milk. It’s the milk that makes things better. Since I’m not from that part of China, I don’t have to have spicy all the time and I’m certainly not used to it. So when I do order some from my favorite Szechuan restaurant in town, it’s a treat for my soul. I remember being seven and told by my dad to try a piece of a big, fat, green pepper (I honestly don’t even know what this pepper was called, just that it was big, fat, and green) that he told me wasn’t that spicy and really was once I tried it. Now, maybe it wasn’t that spicy for adults, but it was super hot for a seven-year-old! I also remember sharing this story in one of my writing classes and describing the way my dad observed me with “tricky eyes.” I ended up jumping up and down, which ironically, is also a level of spiciness described in China, and then running to the faucet to stick my tongue under there. My dad laughed and laughed. Someone in my writing class liked my use of “tricky eyes” during workshop hour and I appreciated the compliment. I don’t know, but it seems any time I have spicy foods now I think of that moment in class, which makes me think back to the memory of my dad in that moment of my childhood. He’s gone, but spiciness brings him back.
I don’t measure the temperature outside based on a thermometer reading. I measure based on how many layers I have to put on to feel warm. It was so cold this week I wore 4-5 layers underneath a hoodie to work each day. Plus leg warmers underneath jeans. And my big thick winter boots. I forgot my beanie though. I shall remember that for next week. Our office manager said the heating in the office was turned up as high as it could possibly go. Yet just about everyone in the office still felt frozen and lacking feeling in their toes. I don’t blame the heating system in our building. I wouldn’t want to work on really freezing days like these either. But apparently I do anyway. The sad thing is I’m sure this is not the coldest it has ever been anywhere. I’m a girl in moderation. I don’t get along very well on either extreme side of the thermometer. I like having four seasons, but I don’t like dealing with snow and ice on the roads. Snow is pretty to look at on bare tree branches, but not fun to look at when the sun is shining on it. I suppose if I had to pick, I’d rather go with the heat than the cold. Taking layers off seems like stripping down humanity to the Adam and Eve days. I like the idea of going back to basics.