Treading Carefully

Today, more than ever before, I felt anxious about my pages being critiqued at my writing group. Perhaps they were horrible. Perhaps that they would see that I had failed. Perhaps they would sense that I didn’t work hard enough. A number of negative scenarios ran through my mind.

Although I knew that I would survive it. And my fellow writers wouldn’t hate me for it.

That’s the strange thing about this. To be so vulnerable, to be judged in the spotlight, and still come out relatively unscathed.

During the critique, I held my breath. I knew that they had good intentions, and the rule generally is to keep silent. So I did. Defending myself isn’t natural for me in the moment (I am better at analyzing the situation and coming up with the most off-the-wall commentary later). The pin pricks came. And then they ended.

Sometimes I remember the gift that I made for my mom a long time ago as a kid. At that time, I really didn’t put too much effort into it. What was the point if I couldn’t find the passion? So I made something just because either Christmas, Mother’s Day or birthday was coming up. Not because I wanted to. Gift giving doesn’t come naturally to me. So I gave it and she was disappointed by it. Simply said so. So no presents for you, then.

So that results in this belief: why bother if I don’t have the passion?

Then it returns to this: Because you have to do the hard work for the in-between moments. You have to do it so that you can get to the good parts.

So I endure it in anticipation of the better times.

What happens in the moment of silence?

This is also the moment where I say: the bonfire was pretty awesome although at least 3 people cancelled at the last minute (complaints of the hottest day for a bike ride, not feeling well, and a similar reason). No worries, although it was sad that you weren’t there, it’s totally okay!

But I found myself blubbering about everything random possible. About whether people should eat a whole potato or cut it up. But I really wanted to know: when is it inappropriate to eat a whole potato?

I always find that in social events, I want things to happen in a certain way. I want to not only socialize with the guests, but to also prepare food, and organize appropriately so that the guests can find the food. Can’t lose face! But that day on the bonfire, sand blew everywhere, the fire hadn’t started. We should have bought a table. We should have planned better. But that’s always the way it works.

And so what I wanted to talk about: silence.

In the conversations with one other, I have practiced to savor silence. There’s always a moment that all of us feel awkward with the silence. Because the immediate reaction is the fear that we’re not good enough—not interesting enough, not social enough, and everything else like it, not a good enough friend.

I can tell when someone has extreme discomfort with silence when I allow it to settle. It sometimes happens when I don’t want to answer questions in depth anymore. Or that yes, I am not interested in particular in the subject at hand. It sometimes also happens when I feel attacked so instead I pull back. And I let myself savor the silence.

Sometimes it pauses. Sometimes it continues. Sometimes we stare at each other in the silence.

This is the cynical version of welcoming to San Francisco

It took approximately five years until my car was broken into. The passenger window smashed. Then the wing window too. Then it got broken into two more times.

But it took almost 7 years until my bikes were stolen. Just a bike but all my bikes. From my garage. Devastating yes. It all had started approximately in 2009 when I first used my pink mountain bike, which I had returned it to my parents’ garage, so it’s still there. But in 2010, I acquired my KHS steel road bike. Then in 2011, my aluminum cannondale bike. Then in 2014, another bike.

And although my interest in riding has decreased significantly in the last few years, I had always worried whether my bikes would be stolen right out of my garage. So much so that I started locking them in the garage almost two years ago.

But then to my shock, when I went downstairs on Friday evening to ride my bike to David’s place, they were gone. I had hopped downstairs, gave dirty looks to people who looked at me with my helmet on, then when I went to the garage through the side door, I looked to my bikes…and simply, they weren’t there. I immediately went to the backyard, confused. because it would have been very difficult to undo all my bikes. My landlord wouldn’t have done such thing, because that would be absurdly ridiculous without consulting me. And so it was simply done that they were stolen. i saw the broken window in the garage, just so small that a hand could slip through. Then I saw the tool, a long wirey thing.

And I was devastated. I knew what this meant. It meant that it happened earlier. That I didn’t notice. And that it was unlikely for the bikes to turn up again. Because that’s the way this city worked.

And then, the process. I patted myself on the back only slightly for registering my bikes with the city database. But I was not happy, of course. I called police. Then I hunted for the serial numbers in my place, trying to gather all the information, and set my expectations for what I needed to do next. I contacted my neighbors and the landlord. FIX the window.

And once all of that was done, I sat at my desk as I felt like my belongings, my items…were all violated.

Didn’t I care for the bikes enough? I didn’t like the idea of grubby hands going through all the things that I had on the bike, lest even riding it. Did I have things in the trunk bag? Food perhaps? And that new tube that I had stuffed inside? As well as the tire lever? Displeased.

And so once the police arrived as well as CSI to brush fingerprints and my landlord who so obnoxiously went through all of this almost with a smug look (yes, isn’t it great that your things weren’t taken? and hey you just quoted it as $500 missing), I sat alone and there was nothing I could do. My bikes that I had carefully collected were gone. And here it was, a time of history simply erased and stolen.

Welcome to San Francisco?

Broken Screen

The squawk of the pigeons made me notice. So I started paying attention to the enclosed alcove outside my window, the bathroom window and the walls. First, the pigeons, the sun, the rainwater that would collect. Then the screen and the way that the dust would float onto the top of the toilet.

The pigeons have somehow decided not to come here anymore perhaps due to my insistent scare tactics. But the screen is there. So I look at the screen all time. Its rust telling me to do something about.

I finally did something. Last night, I looked up how to remove rust from the screen. So in the morning after finishing a routine of checking email, I pulled the window screen away and rinsed it in the deep kitchen sink. I took a scrap towel and doused it in white vinegar with my bare hands. Then I dumped it into the bathtub filled with water and baking soda. I tipped initially a third of a cup of baking soda. Then a fourth from my handy huge bag of baking soda in bulk from Costco. There the screen sat for over an hour, spreading the smell of iron throughout the apartment.

Then I returned from an old toothbrush to brush the excess. Could it be clean? Could it? I scrubbed and the toothbrush tore into the screen. A hole now. For some reason, before all of this started, I thought: wouldn’t it be easier to buy another one? A shiny one?

But no, must use our old parts.

And my mind wished for a reason to replacement.

I stared at that broken hole with the toothbrush in my right hand and I pondered. Did my wish get granted? Was it destined? Was it everything that I wanted?

Birthday wishlist 2017!

This year, I have been working on being prompt. And so with that, also means a self-centered post like this!

Just in time! Now what to ask for…

Previous years: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, forgotten year in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, a forgotten year of 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002

1. Presence of my favorite people (over presents obviously)
2. Bountiful sweet fruit like strawberries, peaches, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi…yum yum in my tum!
3. Candy. The fruity kind.
4. A journal to accept my writing—at least an essay or a short story perhaps?
5. An influencer or an event to help me promote Ice Cream Travel Guide. My abilities are just not good enough right now.
6. A daily motivation (or habit) to write. Or at least the motivation to further edit my existing short stories and essays.
7. A scarf holder to hold my 10+ scarves and not break from the weight
8. Some kind of inspiration to do better with seeetthere
9. Fulfilling income-generating work. Really.
10. To get all the data off my old desktop. Come on!