fig tree (April, 2018)

I bought a potted plant and it sits next to windows streaked with melted adhesive. It’s a home improvement project gone wrong- my brother thought duct tape would work on the windows for a blackout effect. The Totality in his bedroom!
Just looking at the plant makes me smile. It significantly improves my quality of life to see something alive in this room – bright green, petals a coral shade to compliment the colour palette I am choosing for my new room (white, greys, peaches). I have not felt excited nor motivated about any kind of project in a while. I even made a Pinterest board for it.

I am reminded of my younger self, rearranging paper furniture as the self-designated architect for the room downstairs. I can spend hours placing pillows on and off the bed, in an array of cover combinations, to see what works best. I’m definitely a more experiment-whilst-I’m-at-it kind of person. A visual learner. But I also want to make the right choice at all times. The most efficient choice, because time is my most valuable resource, as they say. So, I fret and wait for the right thing to make itself apparent, as time’s a-wastin’…

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
– Sylvia Plath

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New York, New York

It is a crazy feeling to find yourself in The Place to which you have been attached by a fizzle of excitement for months. The tinseled mirage in your mind materializes around you and it is not at all what you had imagined, for it is impossible to conjure up the weight of all-encompassing stimulation. The aroma of halal, spice and biryani, hot dogs and mustard, croissants and butter. Mixed and mingling, competing for nostril space. The monstrous towers, the florid gothic architecture, the industrial brick and dainty fire escapes, all competing for visual attention (I think my third eye must have opened). The only thing that remains exact is the excitement, now amplified, screaming (fever pitch). You knew it would be worth seeing- you willed it into existence!

***

I took as many photos as I could on my way from Penn station to a Prêt-à-Manger twenty-five minutes away, in true tourist fashion. I rolled my suitcase past a million Prêts- they seemed to appear more frequently than 7/11, Coffee Bean and Starbucks combined.

I paused, as a normal person would, at a red light, entranced by the smoking potholes. As if lifted straight from a movie, I watched as a man in red tweed and a knitted beanie jay-walked across the street, escaping a Taxi cab collision within an inch of his life. I wonder what music was playing through his earphones, the soundtrack that made him feel like he could walk on water. How bold and daring these New Yorkers must be to so stylishly flirt with death.

***

At one junction, I am the ONLY one waiting for the green light.

***

I took photos of the pedestrians, the yellow cabs, the double decker buses and all sorts of peculiarities. As I whipped out my phone for a picture of the Empire State poking through buildings, I caught a man’s eye. He gave me a knowing smile, as if we were in agreement over his favourite city or as if I reminded him of how it felt to be new.

***

People rule the city (totalling 8.6 million, apparently). The hoards are the main attraction, a World Wonder, rushing over the streets like a force of nature. So many humans had earphones plugged into their heads, each walking at their own pace to their own beat. Yet, they were united in motion, a flurry of boots and coats in the fall.

***

SIGHTINGS

I swear I saw R. Kelly’s twin.

I saw a cop in blue uniform eating a doughnut, no joke.

I could not tear my eyes away from this tall, slender man with platinum blond hair, sharp features, and killer cheekbones as he threw some rubbish away with a flick of his wrist. He strutted off, as Vogue as ever.

I looked up into a conference room on the third floor, where a man stood, hands on his hips, surveying his imaginary executive board.

I watched a man shift in his loose trousers, fiddling with his belt at the crosswalk.

***

“We have nature, we have Central Park!”
Surrounded by concrete, our modern forts, the golden foliage is like honey to the soul.

***

Construction work is here, there, and everywhere. I fell asleep to the sound of a jackhammer and woke up to sounds of engines, beeps, and honks. It felt right, waking up in the bundle of heavy hotel sheets. I gazed down into the streets often and looked into the windows across from me, half expecting to see a naked person (as per the movies).

***

Where is your respite? There is no place to be idle – only shade between buildings. I missed seeing the sky, my glorious Californian sunsets.

***

On the Subway carriage: a man snoring loudly beside me, a woman with her eyes closed, standing upright. Another against the wall, sleeping.
I went on a date with an investment banker who averaged three hours of sleep a night.
“Why on earth are you here with me?!” I asked him.
“Don’t worry, I’m used to it.”
He said he was trying to make it as an actor, trying to “catch up to people who do this full time.”
Passion, security, sleep- can’t have it all, can we?
I might just prefer sleepy Southern California.

Thank you 11/18/17

I watched The Help last night and resonated with Aibileen; my prayers are my journal entries.

Thank you Jesus for this day. I went to Universal Studios with my best friend and drank butter beer. It was frothy with caramel/vanilla cream. The ride stopped halfway – kinda unnerving. Thank you for saving our lives and for protecting me today. That my comings and goings are seen by you. Thank you that I got the opportunity to speak of your goodness today, of how you have created me, how you have spoken to me. I got to share who you are with H – I hope for more opportunities. I had the courage to play a song about you, in praise of your name. There is NONE LIKE YOU! You are not an impersonal God. You are a God who penetrates my reality, you are everywhere. Without you, nothing that has been made would be made. Thank you for sustaining us both, for mutual company and warmth. Thank you for closing my lips- that I held back on certain comments because they were not glorifying to You.

2 Corinthians 9:11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving- the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.

2 Corinthians 9:15
As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them ad to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the OVERFLOWING GRACE God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words! 

Project Sleepover

Right now, I have a belly full of bagel and multi-flavoured doughnut pieces. It is my right, having come out of a rigorous quarter, a presentation at 8am this morning and a 50 paged curriculum report.

My group and I aimed to finish last night, starting at 7pm and working until 5am, on the brink of delirium. I had a pounding headache and I felt my anger flare whenever my group members went on tangents. Hey, I just want to finish this. Why are we (or you) talking about stupid Vines and laughing about inconsequential things? I flitted between annoyance and great admiration for their graciousness; they never once spoke with an edge in their voices. Their frustrations existed in a bubble which floated above us- something of a spectacle to poke at.
“Fuuuuck this thing, honestly I don’t even care anymore, she can dock us down for this, I’ll take it!” said the girl I’d once pinned down as an unassertive type. Sleepovers reveal the magic in everyone.
One of them lounged on his side, peering at the presentation through half-lidded eyes. “Remember when I asked whether or not you had already played the video? I literally fell asleep,” he chuckled.
They held me in their circle of play and gave me focused attention when I needed it most. My hand shot up multiple times as they joked, in a realm of my own, waiting for my turn. “I see you,” Kieran would say, smiling. It was always her. Unhurried, patient, kind.
In the wee hours of the morning, the three musketeers were the last ones standing; they stayed up to upload the document and figure out the formatting whilst I went to sleep. As we drove to school together, I found myself wishing I shared in the fullness of camaraderie borne of sleep deprivation and mutual suffering. I came away with an appreciation for the lightness with which they live, a kind of freedom and acceptance of the way things are. A sense that, though this is by no means ideal, it is by no means crushing either.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

Immanuel

You were there with me, you were there with me, you were there with me Jesus!
I was curled up, eyes were dried up, I thought I couldn’t cry harder.
But you were there with me and you were crying with me
and you gave me my breath.

You are the one who sees me,
you are the one who defends me
– who can be against me?
You were there when I just wanted sleep,
made me feel like I could just be
in my pain and weakness.

Thank you for your peace today
You are my everlasting Father.

egg-soaked toast

SLOW COOKED
I should trust my internal alarm. Woke up once, woke up twice. 9:30 am. Decided that I’d skip French and cook egg-soaked toast. Have a real breakfast for once instead of a microwaved burrito. I remembered that God is good regardless of what I accomplish at school- bigger than French, bigger than my interview. I let that fact settle and congeal.

KINDNESS
As I walked over to research, a man spotted me in the rain. He offered me his umbrella and he had green eyes. Tom Hardy, is that you? He said he worked under UCLA hospitality- why, kind sir, you do indeed! I wanted to lock him in a bear hug.
My research boss let me leave early for my interview, as if she were more concerned about it than I was. She even sent me a text of encouragement.

GIFTS
When I got the email- when I got admitted- the tears came.

I’m twenty-one

Might as well write a post, right?

The defining moment yesterday: I carried the laundry basket in my arms and walked across the hallway; a picture of the birth canal. I thought: twenty one years ago today, I was a singularity. From where there was no consciousness, I was brought to life. And here I am with the fullness of moments, strings of thoughts and feelings, present and past knit together. Here is a snapshot of life as I moved forward through to the end of the hallway, making my way to a graceful exit.

What do I do with a day of affirmations? Shouldn’t I have felt happier? Why wasn’t I able to embrace the love I was receiving?  Somehow I couldn’t tap into the authenticity of people’s messages. I think I’ve always had this erroneous idea that I must strive in order to be loved- that I must give more in order to deserve kindness. If I truly understood their hearts for a moment – the thoughts of my brother, my sister, my best friends and my acquaintances about me – I’d be brought to tears.

I think we must remind ourselves of the absolute reality that we are intrinsically valuable. God only makes remarkable creatures and He delights in me. He likes me, no matter what I do- just because I am.

It is a privilege to be surrounded by such talented and amazing people in my acapella group. It is a privilege to learn French, even though it takes me five hours to type one page. It is a privilege to send out an email at 2am for my sorority. As my friend so wisely put it: “even on my worst days, my resting state is all the way up here”. Yes! I am resting perpetually on the apex; I am wonderful and I do not have to prove it. Thank you Jesus! If I am already loved, if I am already victorious, what is holding me back from loving the things that I am doing, the things that I am a part of? Nothing. I am walking in His light today.