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!).





It was already dusk when I looked up,
somewhat disoriented,
where did the time go?
I thought I would take a “coffee break”
from my work-at-home load
to sneak in a few pages of this book
borrowed from a friend.
Reading on a working day!
The ultimate guilty pleasure.
Just a few minutes, swear
But of course I got carried away
Min, the girl in the story,
appeared to be writing a letter/
holding a monologue
Explaining to her ex, Ed (and the rest of us)
why they broke up
I loved how the words tumbled out with no brakes,
like the way people really think
Bright and raw and matter of fact and precious
Always, this dilemma: to savor every page,
or speedread through to the end,
to find out why, really, why did they break up?
But halfway through,
The cat looks at me, then out the window,
Indicating that I’ve been remiss with my afternoon duties
Oh no! Where did the time go?
I still need to finish an article, walk the cat, defrost what we’re having for dinner
No more time today
to find out, whether or not
–hoping against hope–
Min and Ed didn’t break up after all

It was already dusk.

Scent of a Boy

A sudden gust of wind;

A familiar scent

Transports me back in time

The school library is lined

With volumes of my need

Dusty shelves through which I peek

At you in your corner

Infuriatingly industrious

Never looking up

Not even when I take the seat behind

So close,

I inhale your father’s aftershave

In the air

My hammering heart is calling

Out to you

But no one seems to hear

Except the librarian

Shushing me with a finger to her lips

At soccer practice

I walk by

You glance up,

Waving your hi

And I wave back

With my breath

Caught in my throat.

And for the rest of the day



The magical moment

Is replayed

In my head

Dissected for any sign

You feel the same way.

Oh, the hope!

The bittersweet agony

Each time we pass each other

In the halls

Each time you smile, just at me

Yet you don’t call

You never called.

*            *            *            *            *

Today, I can breathe in

The familiar scent

Without feeling that familiar ache

In my gut.

The gust of wind has passed

—thank God I survived

My teenage crush—

Life goes on.

Rainy Day Reads


No mama, not P.S. I Love You! (Tsubasa guards the stash of nostalgic reads that have managed to escape the garage sale pile every year)

It’s a rainy Thursday afternoon, and I’m gazing longingly at the stash of nostalgic reads my cat is perched on. Matilda! Anne of Green Gables! Nancy Drew! How I long to curl up on the couch with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and revisit childhood friends, but deadlines loom (and what am I even doing, posting here?). Meanwhile, just this weekend, my young niece told me she was happy to get back to school, as there was “nothing to do” over the Halloween/semestral break. “Nothing to do”–oh, what luxury! I don’t think having absolutely no plans ever bothered me, and though I liked to be alone, I was never really lonely. Rainy days remind me of school getting called off, and the blissful joy of armchair adventures. Emily Dickinson said it best: “There is no frigate like a book/to take us lands away”… What are your favorite lazy day reads?