NaBloPoMo day 21: first book of poems

LangLeavI have a confession. I’ve never been a fan of poetry. It’s too abstract and vague. By the time I think I understand a poem, the words have bled together on the page. In life there are enough uncertainties, things left undone, and reading between the lines, so when I curl up with a book, I want to escape that. I want to read a book with a beginning, middle, and end. That’s the way life is, right? Lately, I’ve been wondering if it is that simple, so I bought my first book of poetry by Lang Leav. It turns out there is a beginning, middle, and end to her Lullabies (Andrews McMeel, 2014), but she calls them Duet, Interlude, and Finale. I guess it’s not so abstract, even I can work with that.

*****

Love (Duet). I wasn’t prepared for it. It swept over me slowly, at first a simple joy that began to stir in my heart, then it shone through my eyes, and then overflowed into my life. My days became brighter, and I felt a certain certainty. A certainty that this was right, this was equal, this was love.

Up and down (Interlude). Love had taken a hold of me, even though I couldn’t utter the words. It was undeniable, he had my heart. Even though we had 7 weeks apart, we were always connected in some way. My love kept growing stronger. When he needed me I was there….even when he didn’t. And he was there for me, too. His sweetness showed me he cared. His touch showed his love, even though he could not utter the words. We weren’t perfect, but we had honesty and respect.

Breaking (Finale). Two different worlds colliding. Hoping the other would change, hoping the other would have patience. No longer meeting half-way. Reaching out, but not connecting. Still in love, but not knowing how to move forward.

*****

Thank you, Lang Leav, for your poems, your strands of love, loss, and hope. They have found me at a time when I need them. Each one of your poems speaks to me, letting me know that I’m not the only one who has been here.

Over My Head

I count his breaths,
in hours unslept,
against hours of him,
I have left.
With him lying there,
with him unaware,
I am out of my depth.
 
- Lang Leav
 
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NaBloPoMo day 20: Hot pot for my broken heart

hot pot 2

For the past four days, I’ve been trying to move along with a little more care and love for myself. Today, for the second time this week, I indulged in a Toonie chair massage at the mall. As I sat back in the chair, I closed my eyes, ate some chocolate, and thought about the rest of my day — three more students, and then hot pot. I was looking forward to an authentic culinary experience with my Chinese student that night. Surely, it would make me forget my broken heart for a while. There wouldn’t be room for my tears among the spicy chilies, fish tofu, Chinese vegetables, and meat balls. At least, that was what I thought as I ate my chocolate, with dry eyes.

After our lesson of Christmas trees and Jingle Bells, my student began chopping cilantro, mushrooms, and a bunch of other veggies I couldn’t pronounce. I asked if I could help, and she handed me her iPad, so that I could select the music. Although I could help her with English, she was probably wise to keep me out of her kitchen. Selecting songs wasn’t much easier as most of the artists I had never heard of. I settled on some Chinese instrumental music, and my student gave me a look, and said, “This makes me want to sleep! I have Exo!” So, we listened to a Korean boy band while she prepared food, and I started taking pictures.

I wanted to document this hot pot experience….Little Sheep Hot Pot sauce, dried chilies, special oil in one side of the pot, and just water in the other half. Then she laid all the fresh ingredients on the table — Thai shrimp, meat balls, fish tofu, mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, white gourd, and Beijing peanut sauce.  In our bowls, she mixed the sauce with cilantro, then put the meat in the boiling pot, and as it became ready, she grabbed it with her chopsticks, and plopped it in my bowl. Slowly, I got the hang of it, and started fishing in the hot pot by myself.  She laughed at my poor chopstick etiquette, and on more than one occasion, my mushroom fell back in the boiling water. I began to feel a blister forming on the roof of my mouth, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t remember the last time I had enjoyed eating so much. And then I did remember. It was with him.

As I peeled the shrimp, all these memories started to flood my head. All of a sudden, eating felt like a chore, and I excused myself. In the washroom, I let the tears fall, and then I took a long hard look in the mirror. My puffy eyes and mascara stained face was quite a sight. Get yourself together, I told myself. And I did, until I sat down at the table, and the tears began to silently stream down my face. My student placed the box of tissues within my reach, and asked me what was wrong. At first, I don’t think she understood. She grabbed her iPad, exclaimed,”Translate!”, and then showed me the words on the screen. The next five minutes read like this:

Turn grief into appetite.

“Will be good, will be the past.”

“You really broke up?”

“You are very good, work progresses day by day.”

“Fortunately, you don’t drink, otherwise you would drink down.”

At the end of these exchanges, she asked, “You smoke?” I shook my head. She grabbed her pink cigarette case, and a candle from the coffee table, and sat back down. She offered me a cigarette again. By this point, my tears had stopped, and I began to laugh. She lit up, and a big smile crossed her face, “You make me smoke!” I asked her, “How many have you had today?” She replied, “One with my husband, and two with you.” We both looked at each other, and I knew she’d been where I was before. I wiped my cheeks, embarrassed. “Thank you. You have a good heart.” Our eyes met, she put her second cigarette out in the ashtray,”No problem. I have happy heart. Maybe he was not good guy for you.” I thought about that for a moment, and wished that was the case, but it wasn’t. He is an amazing guy, and he made me feel special. Then she pulled me from my thoughts, offering, “You will find the best guy for you.”

cigarettes

To be honest, I’m not happy we’re through. I don’t want to find someone new. I haven’t accepted this break up. I still have glimmers of hope; being without him is not my reality yet. One thing I did learn tonight, over hot pot, is that despite language and cultural barriers, when it comes to matters of the heart, we can communicate with each other. We can communicate support, concern, and hope. And even though I feel alone sometimes, I’m not.

cats

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NaBloPoMo day 19: Love & Lang Leav

I’m throwing in the towel tonight, and introducing you to the Undefinabletyper at Broken But Fixable, and Lang Leav. Both have left me inspired, helping me realize that I’m not alone, and that I will get through these tears and heartbreak. Without further ado, here is the main attraction for the night.

This is Probably the Saddest Post Ever  (It’s not really the saddest post…..go ahead and click the link!)

Lang Leav

 

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NaBloPoMo day 18: Christmas already?

The signs of Christmas are popping up all over town. And I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s still November, and this morning, on my way to get an eggnog latte, I was confronted by dazzling lights, white trees, and some red holly. And then I noticed the kiss~me mistletoe, and remembered I don’t have anyone to kiss this year. Christmas has come too soon.

When I was young, I used to love Christmas. It was such a magical time of year. My favourite white Christmas was in Kelowna at my grandparents. I was only four, and the youngest and cutest in the family at that time. It was a perfect Christmas spent jumping on the trampoline with my uncle, taboganning with my grandpa, drinking hot chocolate with my mom, and waiting up for Santa with my aunt. The pictures from 1984 painted a beautiful blended family, like the brady bunch, and I was the only grandchild, the only neice, the only child.

After that Christmas, all the ones that followed paled in comparison. I would still leave a note for Santa, and some cookies, too, but usually the snow was missing, and an aunt or two. Then when I realized that my mom was Santa, Christmas lost its magic. I had to start making my own magic and traditions. My mom’s burlap angel on top of our Christmas tree, my stocking hanging above the mantle, and the decoration under the tree, from me to my mom, are always there. Those variables don’t change. Our Christmas dinner is never the same; over the years, it has embraced not only our family, but our friends, some of them from other countries. And there were Christmases that I was not home, and I made my Christmas wherever I was, even if I was working on that day.

Now, Christmas has come too soon. It’s stirred some wonderful memories in me, and made me melancholy. That mistletoe and those Christmas tunes aren’t doing anything for me. This year just doesn’t feel the same without my missing pieces. Christmas is coming nevertheless, and I know it will be whatever I make of it.

image

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NaBloPoMo day 17: Realistic breakup advice

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all these ‘uplifting’ articles listing ways to get over a breakup and move on with your life. They paint such a simple picture. They don’t look at the day after. They don’t address fresh breakups. I’m no expert, but here is my realistic breakup advice.

  1. Wear black mascara, the kind that’s not waterproof. It will remind you to stop weeping in public. When you come home, cry it off and forget your makeup remover.
  2. Ask your friends about heartbreak. Their stories are probably worse than yours. Perhaps, they already had the wedding dress.
  3. Ask questions about anything but love, and listen to the answers. Get absorbed in someone else’s life.
  4. Smile even though you are crying inside. It’ll make you feel better…..temporarily.
  5. Stop worrying about what others think of you, and dare to cry a little bit in public…. then avoid eye contact.
  6. Be prepared for some sympathetic looks from strangers. They might not know what to make of your puffy, red eyes.
  7. Eat some chocolate, and indulge in comfort food.
  8. Get some exercise. Worry about sweat getting in your eyes, and not tears falling from them.
  9. Get outside. Open your eyes to the world around you. It doesn’t stop.
  10. Put those yoga classes to the test, and practice some deep breathing.
  11. Get a beauty makeover.
  12. Remember that everything is temporary. The pain that you are feeling won’t last forever.

I’m no expert, but these are some tricks I’ve put to the test. Getting over someone you love is never easy. Moving on is never easy. After a fresh breakup you might be in a mental fog, but with this realistic advice, you might feel a little better, and still feel the sunshine through the clouds.

ocean

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NaBloPoMo day 16: still in the game

My friend looked at me blankly. Double eyelids? She wasn’t the first to ask me what double eyelids were. Truth be told, I didn’t even know what they were until I went to South Korea, and realized I had them. I had something that was highly coveted, something that women went under the knife for. The creases above my eyes….I have two of them.

Funny, this was going to be about finding my style in Korea because there were beauty standards I could not possibly live up to. Instead, this is going to be a ramble. I’m still in the game. It’s amazing how quickly things can change. Tonight I was procrastinating, and then I finally sat down and the words were coming. Then an interruption, and a hard conversation, and everything has changed. I’m writing behind a veil of tears. Tonight I wish to be anywhere but here. Tonight I wish I could turn back time. But it’s too late.

So, I am here writing because I said I would. I’m staying disciplined because I know that in the end it will be worth it. I’ll get through this. Even though my voice is shaky, it is still here, and it is mine alone. I’m a fighter, and I’ll move on, and I’ll get stronger.  That I know to be true, and that is what keeps me going, keeps me growing. Even though my eyes are like leaky faucets right now, I know tomorrow will be a bit brighter.

beach 2

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NaBloPoMo Day 15: Saved by a Thai Commercial

Day 15 of NaBloPoMo, and I’m calling on the help of a Thai commercial. On Day 13, I had some Korean boys come to my rescue, but today it’s Thai Life Insurance. Thai Life Insurance commercials always manage to make me cry, and I hope this one will stir some emotion in you, too. Perhaps, it will  make you think about the things money cannot buy in life, and you’ll “believe in good” again. Get your tissue out!

 

 

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NaBloPoMo Day 14: fragments of my Friday

Fragments of my day. Sometimes I am so forgetful. The worst is when I feel so prepared, and then realize I’ve left something at home. This morning I woke up early, made myself a healthy smoothie, gathered my tutoring materials, and hopped on the bus. When I arrived at my 8:30 meeting, it hit me ~ I’m not as organized as I think I am. This is my morning so far.

Time has lapsed and now I am in Chinatown with my student. It’s 1 degree celsius, and I’m missing the warmth of Thailand. I’m not cut out for this weather. I’m trying to forget my forgetfulness. Perhaps, a coconut hot chocolate at Union Pacific Coffee will do the trick, and help me get out of my head. Be present, don’t let one little thing set the tone for your whole day.

UnionPacificCoffee

hot chocolate

As we walked down the alleyways, I started to forget and dream a little bit. I’d love to live in Dragon Alley. As we meandered, I felt like I was exploring the city again with fresh eyes. Even though my student had lived in Victoria for over 6 months, there were still so many places she had not seen. Her enthusiasm wore off on me, and gave me a whole new perspective. I didn’t want to go to my volunteering gig, I just wanted to play tourist in my own town.

DragonAlley

DragonAlleyResidence

FanTan

Once I reached the hospital, I was glad I was there to help in the art group. The lovely women there remind me that it’s okay to be forgetful, it’s okay to colour outside the lines, and it’s okay to get a bit messy. I’m never sure what to expect once the easels are up and the paints are on the table. I’m just in the background watching the artists work, and sometimes they’ll ask my opinion or comment on my outfit. Today one lady proclaimed that I looked delicious. She’s the abstract painter that’s always blowing kisses!

abstract

I’m home now, it’s 6 degrees celsius, and I’m looking forward to my walk to the beach. I plan to catch the last of the sunlight before it disappears. Despite my day starting off on the wrong note, all the fragments came together, to make a pretty okay picture.

art

 

 

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NaBloPoMo Day 13: XOXO Korean Style

 

EXO

Day 13, and I’m struggling, so I’m handing the show over to a Korean boy band. Their dance moves, and knitting skills will blow you away, and their catchy tune will give new meaning to the kisses (x) and hugs (o) you text your loved one.  Here’s EXO with XOXO. Enjoy!

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NaBloPoMo Day 12: Some thoughts on personal space

Why is she sitting beside me with her cumbersome grocery bags? I looked around at all the vacant seats on the bus, and wondered why she chose to plop down next to me. I adjusted my purse, and pulled my limbs a little closer to give her more room. Silently, I was annoyed that my personal space was being crowded. Then she looked up from her groceries, and gave me a weary smile, and I was reminded of the times there was no personal space to be had. Here, I had the luxury of my own seat, but in Thailand I had often found myself, standing on a bus or train, squished between strangers. That was just how it was, but now, I felt that a stranger sitting next to me was invading my space.

In Asia, a day never went by when I didn’t feel the touch or breath of another human being. It was something that couldn’t be avoided. Whether it was a gentle push onto the subway train, or a nudge in the line, I was reminded that the world around me was very much alive, and I was not alone. In Korea, I was reminded to keep going, hurry up, and avoid eye contact. Everyone was in a rush, and there was no time to offer apologies for bumping into someone. In Thailand, I was reminded to keep moving, wait patiently, and offer a smile. Everyone was going somewhere, but there was time to say, ‘excuse me’ when you had to push by. At first, I felt overwhelmed and anxious, pushing through crowded markets and being squished on public transportation. Then I came to welcome the squeeze and push of the city, and I would wonder why, on the rare occasion, that no one sat in the vacant seat next to me.

Here, in Canada, I do not wonder why the seat next to me is usually vacant. Here, we love our personal space, and it is more comfortable to be alone with our thoughts or devices than to entertain a smile or conversation with a stranger. I totally get it. When we step outside our personal space or into that of another, we are taking a risk. We are acknowledging someone else, and opening the door to the unknown. We might just feel the brush of a knee and the bump of an elbow, or we might exchange a look and something more.  Although I may prefer to sit alone, to guard my personal space, I must remember that it is a luxury, and that some of my best journeys were made with no seat at all.

Thai bus

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