Life

Little moments

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I am older and colder. I can feel it. Every time I stepped on the subway, I could feel myself toughened up. Every time I heard a homeless person begged on that train ride, I could feel the sympathy slowly drained out of my blood. It is an unspoken rule on New York subway. If you don’t already know the person before boarding the train, you don’t talk to them when you are on the train. You should not even make eye contact. If you board the train and you casually chat up the person near you as if you are flying on planes, we’ll know right away you are a tourist. If you clap for the break dancers or singers on the train, you are a tourist. But sometimes a little change wouldn’t hurt anybody.

This morning, I saw a lady playing with her hair while sheepishly talking with a guy in safety construction vest. She giggled and he bended down to listen to her clearer. It was 8am and they already looked happier than anyone else on the train. She reached out to grab his arm to pull him closer to her. It was always noisy on the train. Hey, do you want to give me your number? The guy smiled from ear to ear. He panicked a little tapping all over his shirt looking for a pen. Use your phone, silly. He realized and pulled his phone out quickly. It was only 8am on a Wednesday morning but I already could tell nothing could make my day better than that. It was little moments like that that made people believed in the magic of New York City.

Fiction · Life

When life gives you lemon, blah blah blah

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When life gives you lemon, makes lemonade.

Mom used to tell him that all the times. Every time something shitty happened to his family, she said that. And the fact that she said it often means shit happened to his family all the times. Oh, and he wondered why that was the case? Perhaps because his single mom was a gambling addict. No no no. According to his mom, it wasn’t that. It was because they were unlucky and life wanted to test the tough ones.

Her idea of lemon/lemonade was when she lost money, she should place even more the next time around. Because life gave you lemon in the form of losing, and in the true blind American optimistic spirit, you might as well betting more to make more lemonade money. It kind of made sense how the gambling addicts were normally quite optimistic. He meant, how else?

He remembered her stealing his hard earned money that he was saving for a summer camp when he was 8. That was strangely one of the days she won, not millions won, but she did win something. And she came home, not returning his money, while making a speech about lemon and lemonade again, about how that was what positive attitude in life would give him. And at that moment, he knew. He would get the fuck out of there as soon as he could.

At 18, he joined the army. It was a poor boy cliché, joining the army. But that was his fastest ticket out and he couldn’t wait to jump on it. He remembered sitting in the back of his neighbor’s truck leaving town thinking about how his mother’s lemon/lemonade days were over.

Fuck lemonade, never liked it anyway.








This short story was a response to Go Dog Go’s Tuesday Prompt https://godoggocafe.com/2021/06/22/tuesday-writing-prompt-challenge-june-22-2021/. The prompt is to use the term “lemonade days”

Fiction · Life

Autocorrect

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You told me, you like misprints
I squinted and asked,
Did you say you like mistakes?
You nodded, yeah

You turned off autocorrect
because you were fine leaving things unchecked
Tennessee missing a S is still the birthplace of your father
Pennsylvania without a L is still where your life gathered

You’re and your are not the same
One is you, one is something you claim
Some days it’s incredibly hard to tell which is which
So how dare a computer tells you to switch
As if you don’t already know which one needs the twitch

And the i, sometimes you leave them un-capitalized
On days you feel like i
you don’t want to write I
It isn’t something you forget,
it’s a choice

Fiction · Life

When the time comes

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I’m very afraid of falling out of love with you. But I know it will happen one day, and I’m dreading that day. It’s probably not you and it’s probably not me. It’s just that I don’t believe in ever lasting love. And when things are not ever lasting, they will have to end one day.

When it ends, my heart will break to pieces. And maybe yours as well. I will have to pick up the pieces I have left and glued them together with my memory. I will have to tell myself that it wasn’t for nothing. I spent a big part of my life with you. We couldn’t go the whole way together but that doesn’t make you any less important. It was all for something. At that time, at that moment, everything was worth it.

But one day, maybe you or I will wake up and realize that our love has ran out. We’ll have no children to worry about. We’ll have no estate to trouble. When you no longer love me, can you let me know? It won’t be easy because you can’t make up your mind. You will still need me, but you probably don’t want me anymore. And that’s when you should let me go. And if it’s me who realizes that moment, please give me a moment to gather my courage. You used to be my everything. So please give me some time to gather enough courage to let you go. I will do it, I’ll just need some time. Because we both know it isn’t easy.

Please don’t think I’m cold hearted. When the time comes and we’ll have to split, I’ll spend days afterwards crying my heart out. I won’t be able to find joy in anything for weeks to come. But it’s the kind of necessary pain. I loved you enough to let you go, because at that time, I knew you deserved someone better than me who no longer love you.

I talked about letting you go. But I want you to know I will only let you go when I no longer love you. There will be days I love you less than others. I won’t let you go for silly reasons like that. I’ll let us go when I try my best and can’t find anything more to give. I’ll let us go when I dig deep in my heart and realize there’s no reason to continue moving on. Only then, and only then, I’ll let us go.

Life

I only have me

I used to date guys that are ashamed of me. Each of them did for a different reason.

One was ashamed of me because I didn’t speak flawless English. Sometimes, when I didn’t know the right words, I substituted or tried to explain or just simply waved my hands around. And he was ashamed of me for that, for the lack of knowledge when speaking in a non-mother tongue language. Nobody found that was a big problem but my then-boyfriend thought it was.

There was a time one of his friends from his hometown visited. We were walking and talking about TV shows. His friend was talking about the show called Scrubs. I said I never watched it before but I was wondering out loud why would a show about doctors called Scrubs? I thought Scrubs was as in scrubbing the floor. I still remembered my then boyfriend’s face of “how could you not know this?” disgust and confusion. Meanwhile, his friend just simply said “Ah, the uniform thingy that doctors and nurses wear, they were called Scrubs.” My then boyfriend asked me if I could go home first so he could hang out with his friend alone.

There was another one that thought I was too fat for an Asian girl. I wasn’t even 130 lbs. He was ashamed of me for not being skinny enough.

There was a time I was jokingly asked whether or not I was pretty, and he said “no.” Just a straight up no with nothing else following up. That was the first time ever in my life, someone I cared about told me I wasn’t pretty. And I always remembered that deeply because I believed I was pretty, then and now.

I broke up with all of the exes that was ashamed of me. Because the whole time, I always liked myself. My little tweaks of language here and there was the proof of me being fluent in two languages, enough to even have a college degree in a language that wasn’t even my mother tongue.

My little ‘chubby’ body was not at all unhealthy since my BMI was completely normal. I made all my meals. I worked out. I took good care of myself.

Despite all the strange point of views my then boyfriends had of me, I had never not loved myself. I had never not believed in myself. I was comfortable with who I was and I’m enjoying who I am. I hated the moments they made me wondered whether or not I was enough. It wasn’t like me to doubt myself, and I hated that somebody made me do that to me. I only have myself to carry with me through the rest of my life so I wanted to treat myself the best that I can.

Fiction · Life

She who married young

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Rose came from a rich family. Ever since I met here in college, I already knew that she was rich. Not because she was showing off but because she didn’t care much for money. And as a college student, you always care about money.

She was a romantic. She majored in psychology and then later in arts. She drew. She created things. She mad beautiful doodles that made people smiled. She fell in love multiple times. Every time as hard as the first time. And finally she found her one true love.

I never liked the ‘ultimate’ guy, but I also never truly knew why. He also came from money. He went to our same college, majoring in Political Sciences. I heard a few sketchy rumors about him but I always thought those were only rumors. The guy did great for himself. Right after college, he got into the PhD program at Yale. She didn’t even attend her own graduation, just so she could go to Yale to see him. All the things she did for him and because of him. All the times she ignored her own life so she could be on Skype with him. All those times. And she married him, when she was only 21.

She moved to the small town of Yale, so she could be with him while he was getting his career on the rise. She was only 21, and already stepping down for her husband. She got a part time job at a little retail store, and days by days just like that in the small town.

It took her a few years to get her arts mojo back. When she did, she tutored kids arts. She had a few cats and gods. She was a little pet mum that posted pictures of her pets online all the time. I always wondered if she hadn’t moved to that small town, what she would be doing now? Would she be doing something ambitious? Would she be doing something grand? She could have been the next Picasso. We’d never know.

But who I am to say? She found her one true love when she was 19 and that love came true. How many people ever got that lucky? How many feel in love as a teenager and had the gut to put it all in and received it back? What’s a little few years living in a small town in exchange for that? What’s a quite life to exchange for being happy? Some days, I just wished I was brave enough to choose the simple happiness in life. The pictures of her cats chasing each other online brought me so much joy and I could tell they did for her too. Her husband, who I always thought monopolizing her, seemed to treat her right. So I guess, what else could a girl want?

Life

Best year of my life

Back when I was 12, people told me 17 would be the best year of my life. Not people exactly, a movie told me 17 would be the best year of my life. It has been so long I don’t remember the title of the movie anymore. All I remember was that it was a movie about the soldiers that were sent to war. They left home at 17, the best year of their life, and many never made it back. The scene of them waving goodbye to their mothers still haunt me till today.

Then when I was 17, people told me 18 would be the best year of my life. I would be starting college and my life would change. I remembered at 18, standing in front of the gate of my new college in a foreign country. I toughed myself up and walked in, carrying with me my parents’ hope and expectations. I was so young then and so brave.

Then people told me I should celebrate my 21 hard, because that would be the best year of my life. I finally got to do everything. I had my first 21-year-old drink at my home country where I was legal since 18. I took that sip of beer in the presence of my whole family and that was enough for me. Throughout the rest of my college days, I got so much cash from all the people that asked me to buy alcohol for them and they paid me back in cash.

And then I graduated from college. I got multiple different jobs. I got a graduate degree. I got a boyfriend, then a husband. I got a promotion. I got a raise. I did many things ever since I was 21, but nobody told me about an age that should be the best year of my life anymore. And I do yearn for that some time. I wanted back the days that I didn’t mind getting older, that a birthday meant more than just a number, that people told me something about my own future and I believed immediately.

Life · Travel

The runner

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I had remembered for years the quick 30 minutes I met the Runner. It was indeed not a dramatic story, but I remembered him for some reason. I even remembered what he was wearing, blue soccer shorts, a tank top in the same color with a big obnoxious marathon number tag. He barely had any hair left. The guy was practically bald with a few strings of blonde hair. In his bright blue outfit, he carried a backpack in one arm and a coat in the other. He was trying to squeeze through the aisle and the bunch of people on the train to find a seat. I saw him passing by me, looking left and right. He probably left to another wagon to find an empty bench with both seats empty. The train was getting quieter with the freshly arrived people started to settle down on their seats. I finally could come back to my book.

Then the Runner came back to my wagon. He whispered politely next to me.

“Excuse me, can I sit next to you?”

I put down my book. From the corner of my eye, I quickly glanced all over the wagon real quick. There was no other seat but the one next to me.

“Yeah, sure.” I picked up my backpack on the chair and put it down on the floor right by my feet.

“Thank you, thank you very much.” The Runner said to me while throwing his backpack to the overhead above us. He sat down next to me, getting himself comfortable.

I couldn’t help but stare at him. He caught me staring. I had no choice but to ask.

“Aren’t you cold?”

He was wearing shorts and a tank top. It wasn’t freezing cold but it was still autumn. It was chilly out.

He laughed. “A little, I was still full of adrenaline so I don’t feel much. Maybe I’ll be freezing in a little.”

“Adrenaline from running?” I connected the dots.

“Yeah. I just did the Amsterdam marathon. Amazing event!” He raised his voice in excitement.

“Like today? The marathon was today?” I closed my book completely, wondering “I was there, didn’t see anything.”

“You didn’t know? It was a big thing.” He shifted his legs, trying to stretch them straight “I traveled every year to run that marathon.”

“Oh wow, from where?”

“London,” he pointed at the little English flag on his marathon tank top. “This year, I finally finished the marathon.”

“Oh, I see,” I nodded then I suddenly realized what he just said “You said you finally finished the marathon this year. You didn’t finish before?”

“Nope.” The runner smiled “Never before, but I finally did it this year. I ran all the way to the finish line.”

“Wow. So all the years before you didn’t finish the race? and you still came?”

“Yeah. How else can I know I was better than last year if I didn’t come?”

He was right. My eyes were wide open for a second before they blinked in curiosity. It was that simple. The reason to not come was never as good as the reason to come so he came. Sometimes, that was just it.

“Tell me about the other times you joined the marathon. How far did you get?”

Fiction · Life

Beauty in the eye of the beholder

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What is the line between cheesy and romantic?

What is the nick between bad taste and edgy?

Let me tell you a secret

There’s no line.

I wrote poems and hid them

I created songs and burried them in the dirt

I wrapped my soul in words

so tightly that my heart ached

I was afraid someone would think I was a fake

That all would break under the lightest scrutiny

that the heavy weight of judgement would sorrow me

that…

that…

that…

that it turned out

I didn’t care.

My poems would stay the same

and my words isn’t a shame

You may not like it, but I hope the next person will

I’m here for the thrill of the language

for the twirl of my own voice

It might sound like music, or just a scratching noise

When I find my writing romantic, I wish you won’t find it cheesy

Because the only difference,

is you.