See you soon. I missed you.

Close-Up Photo of Lighted Incense Stick Near Candle

I rushed to my mailbox. It definitely looked like the mailman stopped by today. No one else mailed me anything. I purposely cleared out all my mail just so I never missed yours. My mailman knew that. He only delivered me letters and packages with handwritten addresses. So the one he dropped off must be from you. I opened the mailbox and the green envelope looked familiar. Damn it. It was my mail to you got returned-to-sender. I knew you no longer lived at that address, but I was hoping this mail got to you in time. It didn’t.

Wire transfer completed. That was the last of the payments to Madam Zuzu. She should be sending instructions on preparations to me soon. This had to be perfect. So you shouldn’t worry. I’d make sure to prepare everythins right. Double, triple checking all the things she requested.

I knew you were more of a text person than a phone call person. But I wanted to hear your voice so I called you anyway. I memorized your number by heart. I never saved it into my phone. Firstly, because I would never, as long as I lived, forgot your number. Secondly, I didn’t know what to save your number under. No word could describe what you were to me. No word deserved to be the description of you. Dialed. Beep. Beep. Beep. I can’t pick up your call right now. Please leave a message. Thankssss!

Ouch. The needle poked me. I quickly licked my finger so the blood didn’t stain my work. Whatever. I was done with the your doll anyway. Madam Zuzu said it needed to be a handmade doll. This better worked. I only had a few of your hair left and I had to stick a strand inside this doll already. So hopefully that would not be a waste. Bought some sage today. Some incense. A best quality bottle of absinthe. I told Madam Zuzu that you hated absinthe, but she said that wasn’t for you to drink.

I brought fresh flowers for you today. Sunflowers. Your favorite. When I got there, there were already some white roses. Who did this? You didn’t like roses. I threw those roases away. Nobody understood you like I did. I squatted down, tracing my finger along each letter of your name on the tombstone. Carefully, one by one. It wouldn’t be much longer darling. This time we would really be together forever.

Ring. Ring. Ring. Madam Zuzu.

Yes, I have everything you told me to bring. I will be there soon.

I kissed your tombstone one last time before I left. Darling, next time, I would kiss your lips instead of this cold stone. This stone was in no way deserving to carry your name and this dirt ground should have never held you. Madam Zuzu guaranteed that it would work. A million dollars and half of my soul was a cheap price to pay.

I couldn’t wait to see you again. I missed you.

This little story was a response to the Go Dog Go’s Cafe prompt: End a piece of prose or poetry with the phrase “I miss you” —> Their prompts were always a creative boost for me. So much fun writing the stories.


Winter in Maine

5 Reasons You Should Never Live in Maine During the Winter
Source: Q97.9

I lived in Maine for a few years. In fact, I went to high school in Maine, a small boarding high school. When I was there, I couldn’t wait to get out of Maine. It was cold most time of the year. There was nothing much to do but miles and miles of ocean with lighthouses, and one country road after another leading to nowhere. I spent hours and days sitting on a rock by the freezing beaches or in an empty gazebo watching water flowing in a small stream near school. I was born and raised in a big city. So a small town near the Easternmost point of Maine wasn’t enough for me.

I left for a career in environment, thanks to Maine. I didn’t think back about Maine much unless it was memories about all the friends and people I met there. Those, I cherished dearly. Maine to me was only memory, not much of a destination. Until, years later, I lived in New York and people told me it was expensive to fly to Maine. Not outrageously, but way more expensive than another destination with the same distance. I was honestly wondering why. There was nothing there to do, except sight seeing nature, lobster fishing, visiting lighthouses and may be passing by Stephen King’s house. Apparently, those were exactly why people visit Maine. They wanted to see nature, not big crowded cities. Back then, I did all those activities too often that I just thought they were too mundane to even mentioned.

If you ever heard people said that Maine was beautiful, they were absolutely right. If you wanted nature, Maine was gorgeous. It had a beauty of both the rows and rows of leaves changing color trees and the calm endless oceans with undisturbed beaches.

During winter, Maine was a winter wonderland. Not the same type with New York, where it was bright, lively and lit up with people singing carols on the street. Maine winters were frozen lakes and snow covered pine trees. Whenever I could wake up early to see the sun rise, I always tried to do it during the winter. The sun reflected off the frozen mirror-like ice made the whole ice shimmered.

Maine Winter - Summer in Winter - Down East magazine
Source: Down East Magazine

Maine winters were the silent roads lit with a few street lights. It was the warm cup of cocoa in your hands while watching snow silently fell on your neighbors’ roofs. It was waking up and seeing everything around you changed in one night. Everything was covered deep in snow. Before getting back to the digging-your-car-out-of-snow reality, you would get a few moments of the quite scene of snow falling. Not the ugly thin layer of snow that still left the ground exposed the gray asphalt, but the deep white powdery snow that looked like powdered sugar. With that type of snow, skiing was a must. All the hills and mountains that were just there during all other seasons, now serve a better purpose.

Snowy streets of Portland, Maine | Maine winter
Source: Corey Templeton

I would wear my snow boots and walked like a penguin (that was how Mainers taught me to walk in the snow so I wouldn’t fall on slippery spots) to a brewery. There was one thing cold places in America shared – drinking. Asked the Midwesterners what they do in the winter and they would tell you the same. I left Maine too long ago to know what exactly was going on there nowadays. But I heard breweries there are popping up like mushrooms after a rain. Again, cold place and drinking.

So if you have the gut to handle the snow, visit Maine during the winter. And may be you’ll find out why Stephen King wrote stories that were horrifyingly beautiful.


Oil and water will never mix

I met a Lao guy at a truck stop. I was on an eleven-hour long bus ride from New York City to Niagara Falls. The bus stopped somewhere between Syracuse and Rochester. I lost track of where I was. Outside of New York City, every suburbs in America looked the same. All I cared for was a breath of fresh air and a cup of sugary McDonald’s iced coffee. Laos guy approached me when I was chugging my coffee. He said hi, asking me what I was doing in a truck stop all the way out there. I told him I was on a trip to Niagara Falls. Just a quick stop here. I avoided eyes contact hoping this encounter would end soon.

Water exists in three forms: gas, liquid and solid. Oil exists mainly in liquid form. It does not crystallize or evaporate in nature. In daily life, both water and oil can exist in the common form of liquid.

He told me he was a truck driver and that stop was along his route. I nodded and took another sip of my coffee. You know I would have never thought I would be a truck driver one day, he said. He paused, taking a sip from his big red soda cup. I thought that conversation was over, the same way all conversations-with-strangers awkwardly ended in silence. I offered a polite smile and about to walk away.

Where are you from?, he asked just when I was about to turn away.

I looked at him. Out of all the places I had lived and could claim, I’m from Vietnam, I replied. I knew that was the right answer.

I’m Lao, he said. I didn’t need him to introduce himself to know he was at least southeast Asian. He was short with a short nose. His straight black hair was riddled with patches of gray hair. His eyes were monolid with wrinkles at the endpoint, looking like cracked lands.

So we were neighbors, huh?, he said. How do you like it here?

I understood what he meant by here. Us people, we all knew what that meant. I shook my head a little with my shoulder shrugged. It’s ok I guess.

I have been here for 32 years, he said. I didn’t have to ask him for anything else before he started talking on his own. He ran his hand through his hair, not to fix it, but just to had something for his awkward arms to do. I hate it here.

Water is made up of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. There is an uneven distribution of charge across the water molecule: a partial negative charge from its oxygen atom and partial positive charges on its hydrogen atoms. This makes water molecules polar. Especially in liquid form, water is polar and tends to only mix with other polar molecules.

He has moved to the US with his family since he was a young man. In his early twenty, it was a tough time but everything was so bright back then. He thought America was the place to be. Everyone in Laos talked about it. Everyone wanted to be here. His family was one of the few lucky ones that got to come over thanks to some US policies for ex US-pro veterans fighting in the Indochina. The sky looked brighter in the US. The sun was shining and even in the winter, the snow made it seemed even brighter.

His family was struggling here because everything was different. He didn’t have many education opportunities so he worked manual labor jobs. They were not bad, quite fun actually, decent money, he said about his old jobs. Then a friend showed him a long-distance truck driving gig and he has been driving trucks since then. Trucking made very good money, but there was a price to pay.

Oil are nonpolar. They are not attracted to the polarity of other molecules. In fact, oils are hydrophobic, which means water fearing. Oils are not only not attracted to water, but also repelled by them.

Lao guy was married once. His wife was pretty and his children were adorable. They were married for a while before he started trucking. His wife was happy when he decided to be a truck driver. The money was good, he explained. They even gathered enough money to buy a house in Florida. That’s the place that everyone wants to own a house and I did it, he smiled. But he lost his wife. Driving truck, he came home once a month. He barely saw her, didn’t even meet his children. And she left him. In the end, money wasn’t enough to keep love from dying.

Oil and water can't be mixed. They share the same liquid form in nature, but they are different in basic characteristics. When oil is added to a cup of water, the two won't mix. Oil will stays within its own and floats on top of water.

It’s not easy here, you know, he said to me after a moment of silence, breaking away from the life story.

Yeah, I replied, I know.

I used to think it is better here. But I’m so lonely, he said. He put his hand into his jeans pocket and shuffled his feet. I have nobody waiting for me at home, so I work. He pointed at a big blue truck in the lot, telling me that was his home then. It’s even lonelier being alone in the truck, he said softly as a whisper.

Maybe, I don’t belong here, he scratched his head. It’s easier to make money but I’m different, he tapped on his chest then pointed at me, we are different. We would never be treated the same.

How long have you been here? he asked

Close to ten years, I replied.

It has been 32 for me, he said.

I nodded and we both took a sip from our cups in silence. I didn’t know what to say to that. I didn’t know how to react to a life story of a stranger I happened to encounter at a truck stop. The randomness caught me off guard.

Some elements can dissolve into each other or react to each other after a certain period of time. The reactivity levels of the elements depend on their basic characteristics. However, water and oil will not mix and dissolve into each other despite time. When oil is added to a cup of water, it will not dissolve into water regardless how much time passed.

Lao guy didn’t say anything for a little while. I still stood there. I stared at the blue truck, wondering how far that thing had gone.

Uhm…can I have your number? Just like a friend to talk sometimes. He clumsily pulled out a piece of crumbled note from his shirt pocket and handed it to me.

How could you say no to a person who bared their souls to you?

Yeah. I took the note from him and he passed me a pen. I scribbled down then handed it back to him.

My bus was about to get back on the road. I realized that and said bye to him quickly. I ran away.

I saw him waving at me while I ran out the station.

I gave him a fake number.


Even a rose has thorns

Even a rose has thorns

Why do people say it like that? Are roses not supposed to have thorns? Why not? – Because they are beautiful, they are not supposed to have thorns?

When she was 15, her mother left her. For a better or a worse life, she wouldn’t know. She imagined her mother having a better life because then her leaving made more sense. She left for greener pasture. But she also wanted her mother to have a worse life. Because no child-abandoned mother should have a good life. She was the one deserved a good life, not her mother.

When she was 20, she finally made it to a university. It took a little longer than her peers. She worked for two years after high school. So she could save up a little bit, take out a little less loan and use her dad’s retirement fund as little as possible. Money was the issue, not her grades. Her mother leaving made her poorer, less supported, not dumber. People talked about her going to college as if it was a miracle. She took out a loan and she was there.

When she was 30, she walked on high heels and in designer dresses to talk to clients in her high rise office. Her hair curled into big waves. It had that good shine of expensive products. She was doing well and beautiful. She was half way paying off her student loan. She helped dad pay his rent so he could keep whatever left of his retirement fund for his actual retirement. He was not the best dad in the world. He stumbled and struggled. But he stayed. And a non-child-abandon parent deserved a happy life. She would be there to help him get one.

Are thorns good or bad? They protect the roses from being eaten by herbivores and insects. They are essential for the survival of the plant.

When she was 24, the love of her life asked her to move with him to California after graduation. Love was great but she said no. She couldn’t move her whole life and depend on a single person for happiness. She still thought about him sometimes, not with regret but with adoration. She hoped he had a good life. He left but he asked her to come with. He deserved a good life.

When she was 28, she met the man of her life. Love couldn’t conquer all. Neither was a man but a man was a bit more real. They met at a bar. It was fun memories.

When she was 30, she was proposed to. She said no. She wanted him to be in her life. She didn’t believe in marriage. She didn’t want neither of them to become a sinning liar for breaking a promise with God. Might as well not make a promise.

Even a rose has thorns. Thorns protect the roses. But they heard the people around.

This post is a response to the Go Dog Go Cafe Tuesday writing prompt challenge that asked for a post about anything related to “Even a rose has thorns”.


A little difference in GOAT

In Vietnamese, goat as an animal is called “dê” (read like /ye/). “Dê” also means being perverted. From what I knew, the goats themselves had never did anything to deserve having such adjective as their names or having their names being associated with such adjective. But it is what it is. So if you ever visit Vietnam and try to learn the language, keep in mind that the adjective version of goat in Vietnamese does NOT mean Greatest Of All Time.

There’s to a super short writing on the fun things of languages.


I paint my nails

I took out my nail lamp from under the table. I had to connect the cord to an extension so I could comfortably put the lamp on my little living room table. I wanted to watch TV while painting my nails at 3am. It wasn’t like I was going to work the next day.

I chose a deeper, calmer color this time with just a little blink. So like forest green on four and a glittery silver on one. I was just not a completely tone down person. Lowering it down to only one blinky nail per hand was the most I could bring myself to do.

“It’s quarantine. We don’t even go outside. What do you paint your nails for?” He asked. Obviously didn’t understand women.

“You don’t like my painted claws?” I waved my hands in front of him.

“Yeah. Yeah. Sure ” He said. Again, obviously didn’t understand women.

I stretched out my arms and waved my nails for me to see and admire a few more times before satisfactionarily going back to the computer.

I sat down and started to write. When I typed, my painted fingers ran across the keyboard. The little peaks of forest green and glittery silver bounced up and down along with the rhyme of my mechanical keyboard. I was so proud of myself.


Pigeons in NYC Parks

Do you like pigeons? Have you ever wanted a scene like in the movie in which you run toward a bunch of pigeons and they all beautifully fly away? Do you like the symbol of peace? If you do, then you should take a trip to New York City. (Venice is also an acceptable choice, but that’s international flying – pun intended.)

Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

There are a few animals we can see in the wilderness of urban cities: dogs, cats, squirrels etc…but they are all owned by some other people or they would possibly bite you (despite how cute they are). You have to ask for permission to pet them. The only safe-to-approach animals that you are free to come close in a city is pigeons. Also, you can only approach them if you are around walking, not driving and not riding. And no city in the US would force you to walk around as much as New York City.

We have pigeons in every park of this city, from Central Park in Manhattan to a small little community park in Queens. For some reasons, pigeons love New York City. Many of them would stay in New York City even in the winter. They are still around as long as you are. To quote Danny Castellano from the Mindy Project: “I like pigeons. They are free to leave but they choose to stay here in New York all winter long. Unlike those other coward birds.”

Source: The Pigeon Insider

Not all pigeons are the same. Genetically speaking, pigeons in different places have different genetic makeups. They may look similar enough to each other that they are recognizably pigeons but on a genomic level, they are not the same. For example, though not too far apart, NYC and Boston’s pigeons do not share the same genetic makeup *. Pigeons are homebodies. They tend to stay within a hundreds feet of where they were born. Just because they can fly, doesn’t mean they would fly far away from home. That’s why NYC pigeons are signature to the geographic limits of NYC and the Virginia and Connecticut region.

According to no scientifically accurate source, NYC pigeons are most often unfraid of people and chubby. About the chubby part, it’s hard to avoid when they live in a city that is famous for their pizzas. I can say with an almost guarantee that if they are street animals in New York City, they have tasted pizzas. For some strange reasons, people threw away their pizzas on the street and into the subway quite a bit in NYC. Pigeons and rats are not particularly picky animals. They eat what they can find.

About the part of them not being afraid humans, they are truly not. Do you know how in movies, when you casually walk towards a bunch of pigeons, they would panickingly fly away? Yeah, not in New York City. As long as you don’t dash towards them like a crazy person, they will casually walk next to you and won’t even bother avoiding you. If you don’t want to step on a pigeon, you have to avoid them. They are the kings of the parks. Just like New Yorkers, NYC pigeons just don’t give a damn.

Source: Giphy

Things go both ways here. Pigeons are not afraid of people and some New Yorkers love pigeons (the rest are just not bothered by them). There are quite a few pigeons whisperers in NYC. It doesn’t have to be one of those “famous” people that you heard about through the internet but when you visit the city, you would never see them. The whisperers are actually everywhere, especially during summer. You just need to go to a big park and you would see them casually sitting on benches and surrounded by a bunch of pigeons.

In Washington Square Park

One of the most famous pigeon lovers of the city is the NYC pigeon lady. If you want to find a true advocate for pigeons, she is the one.

That was a lot of reasons for you to like NYC pigeons. So, how about a trip to New York City to see our chubby pigeons eat pizzas?