Greek Tragedy (pt. I)

(music)

Winter.

She placed a steaming mug in front of him on the chipped mosaic table. He could see her hips, just at table height and just below the bottom of her large jacket. As she moved to slide into her seat across from him, her scarf drifted away from her body, offering a silvery black contrast to the white atmosphere.

Stop.

He looked up, taking advantage of the frozen moment. Just behind her, outside of the awning, the snow hung suspended and the people braving the weather were stopped mid-step, mid-word. The steam curling out of his mug was frozen, cloudy glass.

Thinking back in this pocket of non-time, he could not quite remember the steps he had taken to reach this point. How exactly had he begun a conversation between the two of them, or had he not started the conversation at all?

Photo Credit: videoblocks.com

He could remember they had met in a pocket of Indian Summer, he could remember what song had been playing, “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)” — Arcade Fire, he could remember what she had been wearing, a pair of cuffed denim shorts and a burnt-orange t-shirt, a messy ponytail and a pair of well worn sneakers. He couldn’t remember, however, most of the rest of it.

He started at her feet. She was wearing heavy-soled boots, that despite their size did nothing to make her feet seem clownish. Her socks barely peaked from the stiff tops, a light grey knit line-break between the black boots and the black jeans, undoubtedly worn over another layer. He could see her blue-black sweater peeking out below the hem of her jacket, flaring out a little bit.

He continued upward, taking in the puffy jacket that dwarfed her, her hand – frozen midway to her pocket. He paused just a second longer to take in the fall of the jacket, the stolen movement of her arms, the way that her fingers curled around her own mug, the uneven crescent moons of her fingernails.

How had he gotten here? How had he gotten to the point where he could just stare at her and that would be enough? How had he moved from point A to point B? From seeing her serve coffee in a small hole-in-the-wall cafe, to not wanting to miss a single minutiae?

He looked over the folds of her scarf, piled high on her neck, he watched the shadows fall rightly. He followed the fuzz of the scarf upwards to her neck where a flush had crept up toward her face. He followed her jawline from right to left. Her lips —

Start.

She slid into her seat and her scarf fell back into place against her torso. The snow fell, again. All the frozen mid-steps became the movement of the next. He jumped a bit, a shiver riding up his spine. The milky glass above his mug had once again become nothing but vapor. She brought her mug to her lips and stared out from the awning. Now he could see her breathing, there was a small furrow between her brows.

Photo Credit: shutterstock.com

With time now moving he could feel it, a warmth spreading from his heart outwards, a soft tingle from his eyes was working its way down to his toes, while sparkishly light fingers wound around his shoulder blades and rib cage, he would stop time again just to enjoy the sight of her, to will her to understand everything he felt.

“You are everything,” he whispered, testing how it flew from him into the corporeal world.

“Hmmm?” She hummed.

His words, like ducklings pushed from a nest, fell into the mugs between them, unheard and on their own, paddling away from him. She turned to look at him. He was stunned. Her attention was like a blow to his chest. Her eyes, it was all in her eyes and the small grin that dimpled the left side of her face.

How did he get here? How could so much of him rely on her? He looked down at his mug, at the dark coffee there, the light steam curling out of it. Like coffee and steam: warm, rich, and velvety, that was how they were. Coffee and steam, energy and complement, she was warmth in the cold.

He looked up again, “I love you.”

His words this time flew gently across the mosaic table to land in her mug as she brought it up to drink again, to hopefully bring the flush back to her face.

∆∆∆

Warm Summer Days Indoors

There was a certain amount of comfort to be had in overheating, he thought, it was a constant of summer and reminder that he was alive, he supposed.

Looking through the windowed roof of the day room with the comforting presence of her head on his stomach he couldn’t help but wonder at the heat, even indoors with the overhanging shade of the trees above the day room, it was stifling.

He felt her shift against his bottom rib on the left side, the small huff of breath that almost said: what to do? but then she settled back down and closed her eyes.

What to do indeed, heat washed over every thing in his head. It was sluggish and he watched the shadows on the panes of the roof sway with shadows from the trees that swayed lightly in the humid breeze. What to do?

Photo Credit: digsdigs.com

They were wasting time he knew, but he couldn’t bring himself to move. He let his hand idly bush through her hair, burning up from the sunlight it had absorbed. He was glad she had stuck around, it was a good feeling.

When she was around he could pretend it didn’t feel like he was falling apart. Laying there on the floor in the heat it felt like the brittle glue holding him together had melted again into place, whole.

In the sun it was perfect, her hand rested lightly on his ribs, the knuckle of her middle finger skimming the patch of t-shirt over his heart. Time was passing by him at an alarming rate, it made his heart race — there wasn’t enough time to begin with, why was he squandering it?

A bell sounded from further in the house and his blood recoiled, the hand in her hair tensed and pulled at the strands, he could hear footsteps approaching. It had reached the hour, he should get back to work but his hand stayed in her hair.

He placed his other hand over her upturned one on his chest and closed his eyes, sunlight warming his eyelids.

It was oppressively hot but that was okay for him, it was okay for her and the footsteps receded almost as soon as they were heard.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2

Just this past Friday, March 30, A Series of Unfortunate Events season two arrived with gusto. Streaming on titan platform Netflix, season two has expanded from eight episodes to ten and takes the views up through book nine.

Photo Credit: variety.com

This season sees the introduction of the two remaining Quagmire triplets, a swagger filled Nathan Fillion stepping into the role of Jacques Snicket, and a wonderful, fourth wall breaking, sense of self awareness that shows of this nature often lack.

While yes it does follow a predictable plot line, which was a problem many had with the first season: bad guardian –> something terrible –> Baudelaires escape. The beauty of this repetitive and predictable plot line though is it allows actors like Neil Patrick Harris (Count Olaf) and Nathan Fillon (Jacques Snicket) to really work their roles and have fun doing so, which is reflected as fully realized and sharp characters.

Photo Credit: syfy.com

The plot, instead of taking front and center like most shows/movies, takes a backseat to an incredibly immersive and rich world. Instead of trying to turn darkly fantastical source material into highly approachable comic realism (e.g. Marvel Comics), the plot champions a wonderful sort of self-realized, almost escapist fantasy that is unafraid to hit viewers in the face with a strong message of: This is our world, not yours.

With this world also comes the introduction of the highly secretive and, thus far, very vague secret society of VFD as the Baudelaires chase after red herring after red herring (ha).

Photo Credit: screenrant.com

This season is wonderful and keeps the Baudelaires on the move, it maintains the spirit of the books and the first season with dexterity, and manages newly introduced plot lines with ease. I recommend this show so highly it and I are probably in space. Go watch it.

Now I may be a bit biased by the fact that I get to see one of my all time favorite series on screen, if one is in the mood for a more comprehensive look at season two (spoiler warning) there is one here.

when i see you again

it’ll be a tuesday.

the sun will be shining, but rain clouds will be looming in the distance.

i’ll see you in line for ice cream on the boardwalk and race towards you.

you’ll turn around when i call your name and your lovely brown eyes will instantly lock with mine.

you were always so good with eye contact.

obviously my heart will skip a beat, but i’ll never let you know.

we’ll talk for hours about school, family, boys, and girls,

just like old friends.

because that’s all we were,

all we are.

maybe we’ll dip our feet into the vast, open ocean,

and it’ll send chills down our spines.

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

but, maybe, it’ll start to rain,

so we’ll rush back to your car and wait for my sister to come get me.

you’ll laugh at me for still not having my license,

even though “i’m almost there!”

but, i won’t be nervous when my sister doesn’t respond to my text,

because i’ve never felt anything but safe around you.

so, we’ll talk some more and more until i check the time and realize we’ve been sitting here for hours.

finally, you decide to go outside because you just hate sitting around.

at first, i’ll let you stand out there by yourself, the rain beating down on your hair and catching in your eyelashes.

but, my speedy little heart will tell my reluctant brain to just go.

so, i’ll jump out of your car and spin around the parking lot and let the rain soak through my clothes.

then, you’ll take my hand and we’ll spin together just like out of the final scene in a rom-com.

but, my sister will eventually come.

you’ll wrap me in a towel and i’ll go home.

i’ll wash the ice cream stain off my sweater and tell my sister i had an alright time.

maybe i’ll tell my friends about you,

but i’ll probably keep our moment to ourselves.

i guess i’m just selfish like that.

Home

Home is a loose word, I often find my mind and, in turn, my spirit in other places. Sitting wrapped in a blanket I’ll physically be here or there but, in truth, I’ll be far, far away. Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “At a certain season of our life we are accustomed to consider every spot as the possible site of a house.” House or home or somewhere in between? A trivial question when one is hunting for a place to rest one’s mind.

Photo Credit: hotelroomsearch.net

My tangible home will always be with my family in our small “faerie home,” surrounded by an unruly garden that seems to compete with the urbanity of the asphalt road and the ever shrinking street light (or perhaps I’m the one growing). Home with its boarding of white and blue, with a hand built white picket fence; home with a stylized and cohesive found object collection inside and hand painted walls of a whimsical forest land further from reality than the closest galaxy. Tangible home will be with my dad’s music blasting well above the sound threshold of his earbuds, shuffling in the Paint-Shack. Tangible home will be with my mom, picking up conversations we never started mid-way through a sentence. A home fit for part of my heart and part of my body.

But my true home, home for my mind, my spirit, the rest of my heart and body, that’s much harder to pin down. I’ve lived too many lives, I’ve walked the halls of Hogwarts and thieved the streets of Ketterdam. I have run through the Overlook Hotel and traveled the world in the Leviathan. I am inclined to call all these places my home despite the threat of horror and danger and pulse-stopping fear. But then again, I am just as inclined to call a solitary cottage at the edge of humanity surrounded by piles and piles of mugs and books my home.

When I was much younger I believed home would be among the pyramids and mummies of Egypt, studying a culture older than I could comprehend, dinosaur hunting while bouncing from continent to continent in search of the next great dinosaur find. Now I find myself lost, filled with wanderlust. Do I return to Ketterdam, Hogwarts, Brakebills? Do I follow the dust and jewels and bones of ancient history? Do I find my library tower with an endless supply of tea, coffee, pastry, and more books than I know what to do with? Do I find my corner of a city and people watch for the rest of my time?

Photo Credit: enlighten.pk

Maybe, what I’m getting at is I won’t find one home, there is no way to make that which is plural singular. I’ll always be hunting for the next city to make my heart beat faster and my lungs dance, the next country, the next world, the next universe. My home will be that glimpse of color disappearing around the corner, just slow enough for me to go skidding into the alley and see it go around the next corner. My home will be a sturdy pair of boots, one hell of a scarf, and a bag with an undetectable extension charm. My home will be that trip around the world finding the best food there is and then traveling to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Home will be that rare dinosaur in the middle of nowhere. Home will be Nefertiti’s tomb. Home will be finding that portal to Fillory, Hogwarts Ketterdam, Le Cirque des Rêves. Home will be the pens and paints I bring with me; home will be the countless notebooks of dreams, adventures, and future worlds.

Home will be the next great adventure. The never ending circular promise: the next place will be the place, the next place will be home. Part of me will always belong to the first home though, my little blue and white cottage in the forest of pavement and cars, but the rest of me? The rest of me is restless. Home will always be one step ahead of me, patiently waiting for me to catch up, always waiting for me to leave a little more of myself on the path.

What a Year So Far.

Life is moving fast. 2017 was a historic year for Asian representation in America.

Photo Credit: allkp
Photo Credit: chinafilminsider.com/

Last year Liu Yifei was cast as Mulan, Kelly Marie Tran became the first Asian American lead in a Star Wars movie, Bangtan Sonyeondan – better known as BTS – became the very first K-artist, besides PSY, to ever win a Billboard Music Award and the first K-group to ever perform at the American Music Awards and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. BTS also continue to break their own records in the Billboard standings and seem to only be growing in popularity.

Photo Credit: billboard.com

Only a month into 2018 Asian representation is looking up and just a couple of days ago BTS again made history as the first K-group and second K-artist ever to earn a RIAA Gold CertificationRIAA Gold Certification for their remix of their son “Mic Drop” with Japanese American DJ Steve Aoki and rapper Desiigner; and just today (February 4) Chinese Canadian singer Kris Wu became the first Chinese Artist to ever preform at the Superbowl Half-Time Show.

Photo Credit: nerdist.com

These examples are just a couple of the milestones that have been met in just a short amount of time. Hopefully these two events this year, and several from late last year, are indicative of how the rest of this year, and the future, will go on the Asian/ East Asian Representation front.

Skin

One of my favorite things in the world is skincare. Maybe not the most deep or expected of passions but know you know. While I may not have the best skin, I do really love washing and moisturizing my face, plus all the steps in between.

I remember as a kid I never washed my face, or occasionally I snuck some of my mom’s face wash, but that was it. Then when I got older and interested in actually caring for my face, I got whatever I saw show up the most often on drugstore shelves.

The face-wash made my face feel tight enough that someone could play a snare drum solo on my face. Whatever moisturizer I mistakenly picked up was essentially a too strong concentration of salicylic acid (an effective BHA acid in small doses) suspended in a silicone cream; it left my skin sensitive and irritated.

It was a dark time that almost killed any desire I had to take care of my skin.

It was frustrating, what was supposed to help me feel good about myself was instead making me feel like I didn’t even want to try to take care of myself. Instead of feeling relaxed, my skincare was stressing me out, which in turn made my skin freak out.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

So I began to actually research skincare. I started with the products that had made me so sad and pinpointed what ingredients didn’t work for me, and ones that could.

I followed obscure internet trails into back alley articles about the difference between moisture and hydration, pressure points to take down face swelling, and that products with pearl powder are known for their brightening properties.

Now, one of my favorite parts of skincare is all the research that goes into learning about different ingredients and their uses. In fact I often become obsessive and go down rabbit holes I didn’t even realize I stumbled into.

For example, did you know that snail mucin, which is exactly what it sounds like, is great for hyper-pigmentation, and that the best way to harvest it, cruelty- free, is to pamper the snails by putting them in a dark room and avoiding stressing them out. It’s like prepping escargot but the snails live in the end.

The more research I’ve done the more quickly I’ve discovered that skincare is an extremely subjective topic; recommendations and “holy grail” items don’t apply to all. While one person could love birch sap another could hate it, plus everyone’s skin is different.

Through all my research I also learned that caring for my skin isn’t about vanity, it is about taking care of myself mentally. It has become a part of maintaining my mental health.

I look forward to it before I go to bed and when I get out of bed in the morning. I use it to decompress at the end of the day or armor up for one. Skincare to me is time I have carved out for introspection and reflection, which helps me feel less anxious and better about myself, inwardly and outwardly.

A good book for more research is Charlotte Cho’s The Little Book of Skin Care.