Friday, 28 October 2011

cabin fever and other fun things

I was sneezing continuously during the Tannourine show and on the way home on the BART train. When I finally got home, I was too tired to do anything, so I just washed my face and didn't drink vitamin C. The next day, I was also sneezing a lot during class on on the train. Still, I didn't drink the vitamin C. The result? I couldn't get out of bed on Sunday and had to miss Dance Conditioning class. I was so sick that I had to miss the earlier class on Tuesday. I've been taking drugs like candies, but I'm feeling much better now.

There have been a few memorable conversations that I had this week, either with someone else or with my brain. And so, for the sake of not posting assignment-related entries, I give you the memorable conversations.

With a dance sister backstage at Tannourine:
She: I really enjoy your blog! How do you balance between dance and school?
Me: I forsake the cleanliness of my apartment (I said as a matter-of-factly)
She: Whoa. I'm very picky about my nest. I have to live in a clean environment.
Me: I really envy you (I really do)

The truth is, I purchased a vacuum cleaner from and it came almost a month ago and up to this day, I haven't taken it out of the box. Of course then I got sick. This morning, I felt energized that I finally did my laundry and cleaned my kitchen and put new sheets on, but I still haven't vacuumed my apartment.

With the same dance sister backstage at Tannourine:
She: Yuska, you know, I know how hard it is for you to take a compliment.
Me: (Nodding) I know... I'm working on it.
She: Well, let me tell you this: One of the signs of humbleness and humility is the ability to receive compliments gracefully. Just smile sincerely and say, "Thank you!"
Me: I will try.

After the show, I received compliments, including from her friends when I went to their table to say thanks for coming. My dance sister was sitting there and when she heard the compliments, she held my hand and said, "I told you so. And you're doing a great job in accepting them."

With my classmates during class. Someone passed pieces of cakes from his birthday from the weekend. Our table was the last one in the room, so all the pieces were on our table.
My friend: Have some.
Me: I'm scared.
My friend: Of gaining weight? Come on.
Me: No. I'm scared that if I start, I won't stop. And that's going to be an embarrassing mess.

True story. About the messy, addicted to cake thing, I mean. I love desserts.

With a senior at Orinda BART Station:
Me: I don't get it why some people drink whenever they want to write something.
Him: Well, what do you do?
Me: I usually eat cake.
Him: Whoa. I gotta try that one day.

I suppose eating cake does make the piece turn out to be happier.

With myself when I was having really bad runny nose and looking at myself in the mirror in campus toilet.
Me: Damn, my boogers look like dangling icicles. Hmm. That's a good line to use for my book.

Yep, sometimes I amaze myself.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

the photograph: that day

Now this one is a challenging assignment. For Ms. Graham's class, we were to write (or rewrite) a scene from Penelope Lively's The Photograph using Kath's point of view (first person or third person). I chose the third person point of view to agree with the overall feeling of the book (it is a lovely, somewhat devastating book, though) and picked up the chapter "That Day" from the novel.



The tides kept coming in, endlessly, like when Kath was a child, spinning in her full-circle ruched skirt. The pink ruffles flew around her, engulfing her as she spun and spun, faster and faster, then slower and slower, until she came to a complete stop and laughed as she tumbled down in her mother’s arms. It was a day in the field. Elaine was out there collecting flowers to take home to add in her catalogue of plants.

Her mother was long gone now and these weren’t those tides that took Kath to her happy place. These weren’t those tides.

The tides started in the morning. The first wave only brushed her toes and ankles. That was when Glyn woke up abruptly and complained why Kath hadn’t woken him up. The second one came when he refused to stay longer, just four minutes, for a boiled egg. It would only take her four minutes to gather her nerve to ask him the question and get his answer or tell him the statement and get his reply. The third wave came when they were at the door and, even after stalling him a bit, she still couldn’t conjure up her courage to say what she felt was needed to be said. She stopped short, suddenly wary of her insignificance but didn’t know how to assess nor confirm it, how to analyze it the way Glyn did. So she let him drive away.

The fourth wave came when she was washing the dishes. She dropped Glyn’s coffee mug and it fell into pieces. A ceramic shard cut her finger as she was picking up the debris. No, this can’t be happening to me. I can’t even do things right. Then she walked to a teak table, to a telephone that was on it, picked up the receiver and dialed a number. There was a pulsing tone on the other end.

Julia? Hi, this is Kath! Splendid! Listen, are you available to go to the pictures tonight? They’re showing something and the paper gives it rave reviews and… Oh? Oh, I’m sorry. I hope he gets better. Oh is that him crying? Alright, no, that’s fine, really. You take care and say hi to little Chris. Yes, ciao, darling!

And that was the fifth wave.

Kath put the receiver down. She had nothing to do. For the first time in her life, she really had nothing to do and no desire to fix the situation.

She went to the back porch and looked at the garden. The flowers, the plants, the landscape, they were all Elaine’s ideas. How Elaine had enthusiastically offered her help in designing Glyn and Kath’s square garden, and now, on the first autumn day, the bougainvillea was swathed in tiny pink blossoms, the red roses were swaying, dancing under the whispers and the blows of the cool wind, and the cherry tree Kath had planted earlier that year had grown. Elaine went berserk when she found out about the cherry tree. “It is out of place! It completely doesn’t match! The shades won’t give the roses enough sun they need when it grows tall!” she said, but Kath was determined and it was one of those rare moments when Elaine surrendered.

Kath sat there for hours. Looking at the garden. At the flowers. At the squirrels darting to and fro, collecting provisions for the upcoming winter. At the pigeons resting before flying to some place warmer. Then she went inside to the telephone. She knew she had to do it. If she couldn’t do it face to face, then she would do it using the phone. She would. She had to. So she dialed.

No answer, and the pulsing, promising tone gave way to busy. She dialed again, still the same. And again, and again, until…

Hello. Yes, this is Kath Peters, is Glyn there? No? Alright. No, that should be quite alright. In fact, no, could you just tell him that I called and if he could call back? Thank you. No, that’s it. Goodbye.

When she hung up, she felt the sixth wave coming in, this time sweeping up to her knees. Through the windows, she could see the short cherry tree. The tip of some leaves had started turning bright auburn, agreeing with the season. She dialed another number.

Hello, Sonia? Hi, this is Kath. Is Elaine there? Oh, when do you suppose she’ll return? Oh, alright. No. Sorry? Oh, no, just tell her I rang and if she could call back. Thank you. How are you? Oh, busy? I say. The garden is just lovely! Funny you should mention it. I was just looking at it and I thought I would give Elaine a call to say how it has turned out even lovelier than in summer. No, I can’t tell, but they look healthy. No, no hole in the leaves or anything, I suppose. Oh? Which one are those? Oh, the little colorful ones? That should be nice, I’ll look it up. Sorry? Oh, no, not at all. Well, thank you, Sonia. No, just tell her that. Yes. Alright. Goodbye.

The seventh wave reached up to her hips as Kath replaced the receiver.

She hung her head down and pressed her palms on the teak table. Then Kath turned her head towards another room, and walked to that room, toward a landing cupboard in the corner, the one stacked high with papers and what Glyn called low-use materials. She opened the cupboard, took a chair and placed it in front of the cupboard, and climbed on it, reached to the back of the top shelf. Her palm was slit repeatedly by the thin edge of the papers until she felt a folder. She pinched it between her index finger and her thumb and drew it out from its papery siblings.

Kath knew exactly what was inside the folder and so she didn’t open it. Instead, she took a pencil and with a few strokes, wrote a message in thin, capital letters on the front of the folder. Then she replaced it inside the shelf, safely hidden behind the papers, climbed down from the chair, and closed the cupboard. By this time, the eighth wave was already scooping in, covering her up to her stomach.

I can’t call Mary. I don’t need her affirmation. I know how she feels. Just like how Polly feels. But I need to know from Glyn. I need to know from Elaine.

Kath returned to the kitchen and saw the glass bowl stacked with fruit. Apples.

She recalled her conversation with Oliver that day as Polly was picking up windfall apples in Elaine’s garden. My heart is not broken. The thing is to move away. Before they change their minds. The ninth wave went up to her chest.


When Kath was a child, her mother told her a story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. How Snow White ran away from her evil stepmother. How she ended up in the cabin that housed seven little people. How her evil stepmother, always hot on her trail, gave her a poisoned apple and eventually put her to sleep. How she was awakened by a prince, a passing prince who snobbishly and presumptuously roused her with true love’s kiss. Snow White had never known the prince and the prince had never known her. He was only attracted by her beauty. The prince had never known her, and therefore had never loved her. He was only attracted by her beauty. But Snow White loved him till the happy end.

That story did more to Kath than just refusing Jenny as her father’s new wife. Yet the deepest effect of that tale had been obscure to her, until this moment, when the tenth wave swallowed her up to her chin.

Kath stared at the red apples, stacked and piled one on top of the other. If only I could sleep.

She hadn’t eaten ever since breakfast but she didn’t feel hungry. She felt the emptiness inside her stomach, but not hunger, no, she felt barren. Snow White had the seven dwarves. Kath pressed her right palm on her stomach.

The autumn sun had set two hours ago and Kath was back in the bedroom. She was holding thin lozenges, as red as the apples, but smaller. She had given enough time for the two people to whom she had given everything, but the phone never rang back and Kath knew she had finally received their affirmation. Then, with a rare determination, she swallowed the apple-red tablets, one by one by one, and by the time Glyn came home twenty five minutes after that, Kath had long been swept into the sea.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

let them eat fruitcake: then

This is another assignment from Ms. Graham's class. We were to use Switchback Time (a concept by Joan Silber of going forward and backward in time and isolating each section) in this writing.

To be honest, I've been using and abusing too much switchback that I find this particular piece a bit tedious and somewhat pedantic.


It didn’t take a long time for me to plan on going home after the strings of events that had managed to almost drain me. Even my new boss had offered me to take the weekend off on Columbus Day when the restaurant was normally crowded. I told her that I would somehow make it up to her, a promise I hoped I could keep.

I was still on the phone with Mama during my on-line search for an airplane ticket back to New York. I was able to keep her on the phone until I had entered my debit card number on the airline website and secured my round- trip tickets: the earliest flight to JFK on Friday and the last one back to SFO on Monday. Then I told her the exact dates I was going to come and there was an even bigger smile in her voice.

The week went by faster than I had expected and then Friday came. Through the bus ride and the BART, I was smiling to myself, feeling the familiar ache returning to my cheeks, replacing another ache that had been haunting my heart and mangling my mind. Then as the BART reached its final destination, I hauled my backpack and my sleepy body off my seat and hopped off the car onto the platform.

The first real pangs of yearning to go home began when, in the waiting area of the gate, in one of my rare moments of warm-heartedness towards children, I giggled silently to myself when I heard a mother attempting to tell a joke to her son and proceeded to tickling him when he didn’t laugh. He finally relented. My wandering thoughts were suddenly plucked and plunged into a cabinet full of memories, and I landed in a folder of that day in the car.

It was snowing outside. In the backseat, I saw Mama and a boy, he couldn’t be more than four years old. I didn’t know who the boy was at first, but then I noticed a scar on his right leg. I knew that scar. I still had it, though it had faded. I still remembered how I got it: a little prancing along the edge of a gutter and a little slip followed by a loud wailing and Mama came rushing out to rush me inside the house and put iodine and bandaged the wound.

“Mama, I’m bored!” the young boy said in that irritating whiny tone that all children make.

“Daddy will be out soon, sweetie,” she replied with a smile, then looked out of the window. I followed her gaze and saw a church. I remembered that church. It was where Dad and Mama got married, where Ben and I were baptized, and where Ben and I went for our confirmation. It was one of those Wednesdays when Dad gave his legal service for free at the church.

“I wish he’d come out sooner,” the boy replied, still whining. Yet Mama looked back at him with an even wider smile that slanted her eyes into short back lines.

“Would you like to play a game?” she asked.

“Would I?” the boy said. They giggled at his enthusiasm. Mama took a worn gray blanket from the back compartment.

“I’ll be the mother hen, and you’ll be the chick,” she spread the blanket on the boy, covering him from head to toe. “This is you inside the egg, what do you feel?”


“What do you hear?”

“Your voice!”

“What do you see?”

“Nothing! It’s dark!” the boy replied.

“Would you like to see the light, then?” she asked.

“Yes, please!” the boy said.

“Alright, but you will need to let go off the warmth for a bit. Follow my voice and come out of the egg,” Mama replied. I could see the boy’s body wiggling underneath the blanket, and slowly his head came out, then his arms, then his body.

“Mama, it’s cold!” he protested.

“Then come here, come here under my wings!” she said, and the boy scrambled into her arms. “Oh, no! Look! There’s a nasty hawk up there!” Mama warned. The boy let out a muffled scream and ducked his head under her armpit. I giggled. “But you don’t have to worry, for you are safe with me,” she said.

“I know, Mama. I will never, ever leave you,” said the boy as he kissed her cheek.

The boarding announcement whisked me back to the waiting area of SFO. I got up and defeated the deadening burden of my backpack. Then I realized that in that car, in that moment, that young boy hadn’t had the slightest idea that he would’ve ended up thousands of miles away from the safety of her mother, ducking for cover every time hawks attacked him, over and over again.

Then, with a determined stride, I braced myself for the joys of budget flying: a six-hour flight in a cramped seat, hopefully next to someone not too obnoxious.


Sunday, 16 October 2011

more stupid things

Look at what I did to my pan and umm... plastic strainer thingy! I got these two with the apartment and I had been loving them until one day, after cooking pasta, I put the plastic strainer on top of the pot and both of them on the still cooking stove.

It's one of those fireless cooking stoves. I mean, yes, it's safe and all, and there's a light that indicates if the stove is on or not (and I totally forgot to see that). I came back from my room ready to eat when I smelt something burning, and then I saw this:

The horrible thing is, I had to throw out not one BUT TWO utensils and then I had to BUY another strainer. There's still a pot, though. Smaller, but it'll do. For now.

Oh, and this is just a reminder: this entry is labeled "stupid people", and from time to time, it's not about other people, but about yours truly.

Friday, 14 October 2011


Quite a few oddities and stupidities happened during the time I was absent from posting entries unrelated to school work.

I know, I know... Posting assignments from school is a cheap way of making sure something is still being posted here. However, this is my blog and I reserve the right to be cheap lazy posting whatever and whenever I want. I am an artist, damn you!

Yep. I'm reminded why I didn't want to get a job in advertising agencies. It's the same mentality over and over again. The mentality of an artist. The mentality of being high and mighty. The mentality of (thinking of) being superwitty, supercynical, superknow-it-all with that smarter-than-thou attitude. I am pissed, but I will persevere. Albeit with being silent and hiding in the dark. Like latent disease.

On to school work! Last week, I had Saturday and Sunday off since there was no dance class nor dance conditioning class. I had a submission to be critiqued coming up and I felt imperative to imprison myself in the barricade of my little apartment and just write. I lived like a hermit. I ate little, I didn't shower. The new vacuum cleaner that I just bought was lying there in its uselessness. I will have to clean up my apartment this morning.

The reason why I felt it was necessary to cram myself up from Friday to Monday, was because my submission would be a long one (it was 69 pages at that time). We are required to submit a big chunk of work (around 100 pages and more) two weeks before the actual reading and critiquing session. My classmates and I have been handing out stories of ten pages or fifteen, and we are always given one week to read and write our critique. With the length of my submission, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to turn it in a week or two weeks before.

Regardless, I finished the draft. Then, proudly and happily, I shot an e-mail to my professor, Lysley Tenorio. I wrote that I had crammed myself in and was finally done with the submission and whether I should turn it in on Wednesday, October 12 to be critiqued in the next two weeks, November 2. That's right. I wrote "two weeks".

Mr. Tenorio replied to my e-mail, saying that two weeks would mean turning my draft on October 19. He told me take time with my draft, to cut out any unnecessary scenes and edit out things.

I was flabbergasted. I replied to his e-mail, sheepishly saying that clearly, my mathematical genius had eluded me yet again (I was being ironic, as if you couldn't tell).

Nevertheless, I'm happy I still have time. I can't say I'm doing a good job with cutting and shortening the draft, though. It's actually expanded into 72 pages of double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman.

Oh, and to help me with my writing, I bought tons of books about cats! Can you guess what my submission is? I will try my best to review all of them.

Now another topic: public transportation.

I'm happy with BART and AC Transit is sufficient. Let's talk about the latter first.

AC Transit here in the East Bay is the equivalent of Lamorinda's County Connection, in that there's always a seat for everyone. The good thing is that, well... there's always a seat for everyone. The bad thing is that it means not many people use the public transportation. Therefore, unlike the SF Muni buses which are always full no matter what hour or what day, both AC Transit and County Connection's services are somewhat limited.

The AC Transit bus, the one that goes from the bus stop near my apartment to Rockridge BART where I usually start my BART ride to SMC or FCBD studio, arrives every half hour. I've missed the bus more than I care to count as it just wheeled pass by me when I was still a block away. That means I have to either sit and wait for another thirty minutes or walk six blocks to another bus stop that is passed by a bus line that arrives every fifteen minutes.

Apparently, as is evident in the picture to your left (or above), AC Transit won the 2006 National Best of the Best Award, whatever it is. Now, don't get me wrong. There are nice AC Transit bus drivers who will acknowledge you coming in and paying your fare (I use Clipper Card. The fee for each ride is, oddly enough, USD 2.10. I don't feel like fumbling around to get the ten cents). There are those who are also nice enough to reply to your thank you when you hop off.

Then there are the jerky drivers who make you know that they have the worst job in the world and that your very presence on the bus is only making them feel more miserable.

Now, on to BART.

I like BART. There have been news written by some New Yorker about the unsanitary conditions of BART and Muni. Ha. Their subways and buses aren't exactly clean.

Still, after reading the article, I felt compelled to try not to sit down. At least not for a while. Commuting from Rockridge to Orinda/Lafayette and to 16th Street and Mission is a long voyage. I have to sit down.

The picture to your right (or above) has a spelling mistake. Can you guess which word? The photo was taken at Orinda BART station on Tuesday, October 4, 2011.

Just tonight, as I was coming home from FCBD studio, the stations after I got on were swarming with Cal fans. You know, the blue and yellow team of Berkeley or something. I don't really know.

Anyway, those Cal fans were pushing and shoving their way into the train cars. I was sitting happily in my seat (thank goodness), and we heard screams as people pushed others to get into the train. I'm telling you, I was reminded of Jakarta where people are rude and impolite and can't even form a proper line.

Then, the BART operator tried many times to close the doors but he couldn't because people were still jamming the doors. Then finally, he succeeded. We saw that there were still many people being left behind at the Civic Center, Powell, Montgomery, and Embarcadero stations. It was around 9.30 PM.

When we arrived at 12th Street Oakland Station, the Cal fans had decreased in numbers, as they had hopped off along the way. Still, there were some who stayed. And then, again, the BART operator seemed to have difficulty in closing the doors when we finally heard him saying, "Please keep your heads inside the train. It's much safer that way."

We all laughed. Some ignoramus felt like being killed.

This particular BART operator is just amazing. He's the guy who always reminded us to keep the seats near the door for wheelchair users and the elderly because "A) it's common courtesy and B) it's the law." and to not put up our feet on the seats nor the windows because, "It's a karma thing."

I promise that if on my last day (or night) in California, he's the one operating the BART train, I will have to tell him how much he's made me laugh.

That's a photo showing an advertisement at the 16th Street & Mission BART Station.

Now back to the Cal fans.

Apparently, so many of those creatures study in UC Berkeley. Well, it's not a surprise, really. I mean, they do sport the familiar blue and yellow insignia of Cal.

Anyway, I found a throng of students who obviously just came home from the very same game and they were waiting for the bus. This bus is the only night bus that will take me near my apartment and it shot straight from Rockridge Station to UC Berkeley where many of those fans live.

We hopped in and they began talking so loud and cheering and things and then we passed by Safeway and one guy cheered for "More beer! More beer! More beer!" and the other students went along until the lady driver grabbed her mic and told them to be quiet because they were on a public bus and not everyone on board was a student of UCB. The mob said sorry, but the same guy looked around and pointed that only few were not students until his friend scolded him and said it didn't matter.

One girl (an Asian-American. Geez, why do Asian-American girls have to be so damn irritating? They always seem to wear the skimpiest, sluttiest outfits when even their Caucasian and African American girl friends wear normal clothes. They always seem to be the loudest too) obnoxiously said to her friend (they were sitting near me) that the bus was a public place and so they had the right to exercise their freedom of speech.

Obnoxious and appalling. Thank goodness my stop was right after that. I am so glad that don't go to UC Berkeley.

That was rather ironic because as I was sitting on the bus one day, there was this poster on the back of the seat of a missing Asian girl. Her name is Michelle Le.

Well, that's it for now. Phew, I've blogged quite a long post, eh?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

let them eat fruitcake: the pig

We're finally moving on to another book now, or rather, two books. We're reading The Photograph by Penelope Lively, which is an exciting leap from William Faulkner, yet as a classmate pointed out, "Anything is a leap from Faulkner." Another one is sort of a textbook about creating time in fiction, called (obviously) The Art of Time in Fiction by Joan Silber.

So, the assignment for Thursday, 6 October, was to create a two-ish page scene where a character discovers an artifact left behind by another character, like Lively's Glyn discovering a photograph with Kath in it and a revelation follows suit (I can't tell you what, you'll just have to read the book, but I love it as it rings close to my experience several years ago).

So, here it goes.


I wiped the steam off the bathroom mirror. The fog from it was the only thing that stood between me and my reflection. I felt the coldness of the steam changed to water as it clung to my palm and the underside of my fingers. I always tried to avoid looking directly at my face, afraid of seeing the familiar flaws, afraid of discovering new ones, afraid of the idea that I’d run out of clever lines to deceive myself into believing what I want to believe during the internal pep-talks.

So it was only natural that I let my gaze fall a few inches below my chin, and there it was, a cinnabar red pendant, square, with a hole on each side that was fastened to a strand of hemp string that met at the back of my neck. I touched it and felt its texture. In the mirror I saw my finger tracing the pendant, agreeing to every curve, every crevice. It was of a pig.

“You were born in the year of the boar,” my mother said two decades ago as she tied the pendant and the string around my neck. We were sitting in her room, and it was just the two of us with me in her lap. My father was out in the park with my brother Ben and our dog, Rosie. I looked in the big mirror in front of us, at my mother and the similar red pendant around her neck, and then at mine.

“What does it mean, Mama? Will I end up on the dinner table at Uncle Tang’s?” I asked with genuine fear, remembering the big feast at the restaurant we had with the Chinese community from church every Christmas. The suckling pig would be the main dish that everyone was waiting for. Uncle Tang’s was famous for it.

My mother smiled, her narrow eyes became even smaller and looked like two strokes of paintbrush dipped in charcoal black. She gently brushed my straight black hair with her palm. “No. That means you’re honest, patient, and tolerant,” she said. I smiled widely, and she, understanding my vanity, said, “But be careful, for Boars can be caught up in the past and lost in your dreams.” I stared at the eyes of my mother’s reflection, without the slightest understanding why being lost in dreams or in the past could be a bad thing, but the tone she used was so ominous that my grin disappeared instantly. The tone haunted me even after she kissed my head and took my hand downstairs. The tone haunted me even as we were preparing dinner for my father and Ben. The tone haunted me for years to come.

Still, I swore to guard the pendant with all my might, and this I did even after the strings gave way to age; this I did even after a white boy from school grabbed my necklace and tore it away from me as he screamed, “Fag!” and I received detention for punching him in the face and breaking his nose. My mother simply replaced the string with another, sturdier string. The pendant survived the swimming competitions, the college, the job hunts, the multiple boyfriends, the moving-outs, and even dying relatives. I wore it when we buried my father, the Caucasian American my mother married a few years after she arrived in California. No one would have thought that a budding young lawyer would fall in love with a young Asian immigrant who spoke little English and made a living by washing his clothes in a drycleaner near his apartment. I wore it when we attended Ben’s graduation day as he received his bachelor’s degree in biomechanical engineering from MIT, when I met one of his professors who became my first boyfriend who had the privilege of being the first man to break my heart.

Then I remembered that as the months became years, my relationship with Mama became distant. Her early bout with arthritis stopped me from climbing in her lap and sitting there, even way before I became too old and too heavy. Every year she became smaller, diminishing as I became taller. Then I moved out from city to city, promising to write to her as often as possible, but the Internet took over my generation and left hers behind. I always found excuses to not send her a mail, a birthday card, a Christmas greeting while she was never late in sending me checks. I always found excuses to not give her a call on Mother’s day or even to return her call when I found her number flashing on my cell phone screen and left registered as a missed call on my birthday.

How many Christmases have it been? I asked myself. I was still stroking the red pendant. I thought I had lost it several move-outs ago. Perhaps that was one of the reasons of my hesitating to visit Mama. Perhaps I was afraid that she would think I’d stopped loving her. Perhaps. I had found the pig pendant hidden in a paper bag a few months ago when I was rummaging through the boxes. I had been too preoccupied with my new job and new apartment that I only acknowledged it with a half-assed, “There you are!” and put it around my neck with no thought other than catching the bus and arriving on time for my first day on the job.

Is it fair to love someone but pretend you don’t? I thought. Then I cringed at it, realizing that I knew the answer very well.

I dared myself to look at my face. I was so caught up in the past that I loathed every sign of time passing. I was so lost in my dreams that I would forgive no one, not even myself, for not achieving them. My gaze traveled from my chin, to my lips, to my cheeks, to my nose, to my eyes, to my forehead, and to my hair and remembered my father’s sister, my aunt, telling me, “You are the split image of your beautiful mother.”

Then on impulse, on momentum, I threw myself out of the bathroom, grabbed my bag and cellphone to punch in the number that I had memorized by brain as well as by heart. I heard the pulse, the tone, then a familiar voice at the end of the line, and I said, “Ben? Hi, it’s me, Craig. Is Mama there?”


I had intended to create this from the perspective of Craig's mother, as she goes into his room (he's moved out from the house, obviously) to search for something (a sewing equipment, perhaps?) and then calling Craig where Craig will answer the phone, which is a strange thing to do. Then I thought against it because I had introduced another point of view (Tux's), and that will complicate things further.

This isn't really so much a Lively piece, because it came out more Faulknerian. It sounds almost identical to The Magpies.

Moral of the story that everyone agreed in class: Call your mom!