Training Days

1.

A lady with rainbow-colored hair. I swear,

There were prisms trapped in her strands

Perhaps she was a

unicorn.

 

2.

A schoolgirl standing in the center of the car

Reading a book in one hand,

While grasping the handrail with the other

In an expert commuter’s stance

Ever so nonchalant.

The scene was begging to be

photographed

But I couldn’t bring myself

To invade her privacy

Instead, I simply clicked the shutter in my head

Then zoomed in to read what was written on the spine:

“Beloved.”

 

3.

We push and shove,

Sardines in a can

Or, all slightly rank in the heat of mid-afternoon,

Pickles sloshing around in a jar.

The train lurches,

Slamming us into each other.

We smile sheepishly,

As we pull apart,

Regaining our balance

and breathing space.

The doors slide open

At the busiest junction

Welcoming a new crush

Of sardines,

Pickles,

Neanderthals

“It’s survival of the fittest!” I hear someone shout.

Death by suffocation

Between the most curious of body parts

What’s the use of safety handrails

When dignity and

Personal space

fly out the window.

 

4.

Decked out in an immaculately cut

Vintage-print frock

This stylish lady

Who must be someone’s grandmother

Put the rest of us to shame.

Elegance lives!

I couldn’t help but smile.

 

5.

On a day

When my feet felt

Deader than dead

I prayed for an empty seat on the train.

Silly, I know

Seeing as it was rush hour, and all,

But I dared to hope, anyway.

Two stops later,

I felt a tap on my shoulder

A woman pointed to her freshly-vacated seat,

As she moved past me toward the exit

I looked around to see if anyone else wanted the space

But open palms gestured, go ahead

I sank onto the plastic gratefully

Amazed yet again at how even the smallest of prayers

Are answered.

 

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Possession

I clung to you by inertia.

 

Your hands were vines

that crept up the walls of my body

winding round my neck and legs

claiming my crevices as your own

So that I defined myself

by your leaves and stems

and flowered only

in the places where

you allowed me

to grow.

 

Little by little,

you snuffed out the sun—

my life-source.

And in my delirium

I believed I could

sustain myself

by my lust

for you.

 

One day, the fever was gone

and I started to suffocate.

Hungry for air,

I disentangled myself

and gravitated towards the rays of the sun.

 

Their full force was blinding

and the wind, too strong

My body felt faint

after being an extension

of your limbs

for so long.

 

In panic,

I grasped for your hands

to hold me upright,

falling back to the earth

that lured me into lethargy

falling back on the vines that had

become my spine.

 

 

I clung to you by inertia;

 

Breathing through an oxygen mask

Motionless, but aware this time

Carefully avoiding the poison ivy

as I groped through

our entwined body parts,

identifying yours

and redefining mine

 

You tried to repossess me

but I only stayed long enough

to separate myself

 

So that my limbs would be intact

Independent of your ivy,

and immune to your poison

when I finally broke free.

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Gift Idea

This year, a Mother’s Day gift idea came in the form of a book recommendation. Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin centers around a modern-day Korean family, and how their lives are turned inside out when their elderly mother is separated from their father at a crowded subway station and goes missing. Written with a quiet grace, it is moving without being dramatic or emotional, and bound to stir up feelings buried deep in your belly. The story is compelling, and the writing, even more so. If, like me, you are not exactly daughter of the year, this book helps put things into perspective, because the gift it ultimately imparts is a greater, deeper appreciation for Mom. It’s serendipitous that I had read it just before Mother’s Day, so that this year’s family celebration was infinitely more sincere and special–and more importantly, it reminds me to honor the brave, beautiful woman that raised me, 365 days of the year.

PS. By now you might’ve guessed that this book is full of landmines, and is meant to be read by you, and not by Mom (unless you want to remind her of all your shortcomings as her child!).

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Happy Monday

I’m not exactly a Monday person (I know very few people who are), but my day got off to a great start with this video of a little girl on a bike, belting out an 80s favorite along with her cat (you have to watch it). If I am even watching videos on Facebook on a Monday morning, that’s a great start, indeed.

Jonathan Adler pitcher

Lemon mint water in a Jonathan Adler pitcher, can H2O get any happier?

 

Though the hubby and I work freelance, one or the other is usually running out the door, so to both be home today felt delightfully indulgent. To celebrate, I popped some mint and lemon slices in the water pitcher for an extra zing, then stowed it back in the fridge to be taken out at noon (which is when hubby wakes up when he has no photo shoot). And because, miracle of miracles, I did not have a deadline looming over my head today, I finally tried out the four-minute workout my friend had been telling me about (30-minute Pocket Yoga, I will get back to you this month too, promise).

 

 

We had pancakes and bacon for lunch (why not?), with Swing Out Sister providing an exuberant soundtrack to our home movie (do you sometimes feel like you’re watching your life unfold from an omniscient point of view, too?).

pancakes and bacon

Then, all the regular bits: dishes to wash, bills to pay, mail to answer, cats to walk, features to write, contacts to contact, coffee break (YAY!!), floors to sweep, litter box to clean, more writing, all made infinitely more pleasant (maybe except for the litter box part) with my resident DJ on deck. Part of the fun was getting to the end of one album, and guessing what he was going to play next. Music is the ultimate mood-maker, no?

 

 

In the evening, we actually had the time to watch a movie we had missed on the big screen: About Time (how apt). Of course, I was a wreck, crying my eyes out (that beach scene, waaaah), but also, smiling through my tears. Relishing the extraordinary, ordinary life—my thoughts exactly today.  Now, here’s hoping I remember to live in the moment when I’m rush-rush-rushing tomorrow.

Floombert

Because there is always time for a cat selfie

Paper Roses

The day soon drew near

and I feared

that you would ask me late

 

And thus it came,

the day I yearly dread

and secretly anticipate

 

But, oh! To be a girl, at Valentine’s,

and with no date!

 

Roses came for friends and friends

But none came for me

Where are all the ardent men

That figure in my fantasies?

 

Happily, some materialized

And gave me flowers later

As for you, cheapskate

You fashioned a rose

Out of newspaper.

 

So many pretty roses did I get, yet…

(Be still my beating heart)

I coolly called yours crude,

And in protest

You called it “art.”

 

I mockingly promised to treasure it so…

But you need not ever know

That in my one vase

is displayed

Not a real,

but paper rose.