thoughts on my homecoming anniversary

march 29, 2013

sara_bracket_updatedwe celebrated good friday on that date. appropriately enough, that was also the day that i moved back to new york. that march was madness and sadness on many levels, including georgetown’s early exit from the big dance. (what’s worse, i ask my fellow hoya alumni: losing to a #15 seed off the bat, or not making it to the tournament?).

march 29, 2014

i spend a rainy morning & afternoon at an area law school’s admitted students event. some faces are familiar as i’ve seen them at previous visits to other law schools. the law school application has more or less ended (save for being put on one school’s waitlist) and i have two weeks and two days to decide which school.


this first year back looks like my own holy saturday, except mine was stretched out for a year–and still counting. it makes me wonder what exactly Jesus was up to between his death and resurrection. one circle of friend would say that he was reclaiming dominion over the kingdom from satan, who had tempted Jesus to worship him in exchange for authority over the kingdom.

i then wonder about the forty days and forty nights Jesus fasted and walked through the wilderness. what were his conversations with the other persons of the trinity like? was his gaze always heavenward? did he see with utter clarity the joy set before him? was this fast like the midterm he took before the final exam — the cross?

wait, where am i going with all of this?

ah yes. happy homecoming anniversary to me. 365 days later, God has expanded my view of spiritual family while allowing me to reconnect with my biological family. especially with my brother having left mom & dad to cleave to another person, seemingly ordinary nights in at home are no small treasures. it would seem that my brother and i have taken turns being the only child, and that i grew up in reverse

it’s wild to imagine law school as the promised land because these next three years comprise a preparation season unto themselves…

anyway, in conclusion… to quote caedmon’s call, “looking back, i see the lead of love.” i look back at this past year and the word renaissance pops up repeatedly; this homecoming has been “same same but different” than the world race. and if this renaissance year has been this sweet, i can hardly imagine what this next year will be like.

lenten confessions

my brother’s been married for three weeks and two days. i was going to share my reflections soon after the wedding, after the months of planning and anticipation. months ago, i had seen a video of sarah kay, a poet/spoken word artists, sharing a poem about her brother and knew that it would go well with my post. so i put it in a draft.

but i hadn’t finished the draft yet.

and now, i confess i broke my fast (mostly inadvertently)–chiefly fb and instagram–because mom & dad needed help figuring out how to share/download photos from the wedding that popped up on their news feeds. and of course once i saw the photos, i had to look at more for myself.

the blogging bottleneck was further compounded by my then addiction to house of cards. methinks the show’s brilliance lies in its ability to bifurcate my reaction to the protagonist, frank underwood (played by kevin spacey). i catch half of myself wishing for his success and marveling at his dexterity with deception; the other half of me is utterly disgusted with him, desiring retribution for his terrible deeds.

once i finished house of cards, there was suits. and i still need to find a way to watch the next to last episode of season 4 of downton abbey. then march madness (oh, the madness, you hurt so good). and redownloading bejeweled blitz. and now there’s call the midwife (had i not been fasting from social media, i would’ve remembered to set up the dvr).

plenty to entertain and take up time without social media, which has meant lots more consumption than creation. oy.

so i figured well, might as well find get back on the reading wagon so i went to the library and checked out five books, four novels and one collection of short stories — all asian-american authors.

having said all that, my online activity sans social media hasn’t been all that frivolous. instead of getting lost in my facebook newsfeed, i’ve been:

  • looking for more gainful employment between now and before starting school, since it doesn’t seem wise to bank on playing jeopardy! as a means winning a substantial amount of money in a short time. i’m looking to either substitute or supplement my current workload.
  • preparing my tax return
  • applying for health insurance. yargh! discrepancies abound between applying over the phone and applying online. over the phone, i was enrolled. online… application isn’t complete. no email confirmation after enrolling over the phone and neither confirmation/id numbers i gave made sense. i can’t imagine how much worse it was just months ago.
  • deliberating on law school. i visited two of the law schools. emailed and called to negotiate scholarships. researching outside scholarships. sifting through forums on top-law-schools.com. getting feedback from friends.

halfway through lent, my fast has been quasi-successful. if nothing else, it has been informative and revelatory. i hope i’ll be able to post something more significant than a laundry-list confessional — like reflections on my brother’s recent nuptials, and that i’ve been back in new york for a full year…

room for milk

tea.i learned how to take my coffee from mom, who adds equal parts coffeemate and sugar. the inside of her mug is a light tan that might pass for a dark shade of beige. sweet and “creamy,” it’s no wonder i became a fan of coffee.

i’ll confess though i’ve taken a liking to tea lately. maybe my preference for this brewed beverage grew as i jumped on the bbc bandwagon: downton abbeycall the midwife, and sherlock. i was struck by two archenemies sitting down to tea. how powerful and staunch the tradition of tea, that even the most heightened enmity fails to prevent sherlock from civilly serving and sharing a pot with moriarty.

maybe it was being outside of dublin, the cuppa irish breakfast tea, with, of course, milk and sugar, was just the thing for those hearty irish breakfasts. maybe it’s because it reminds me of meeting jill m., from northern ireland, at the potter’s house in timisoara. she was generous with the milk, so much so that i wondered if she really just wanted her milk to taste like tea.

and maybe it’s because tea bags are easier to clean up post-brewing/drinking than french press coffee. maybe.

for someone who does enjoy eating, it’s a shame my palate isn’t refined enough to even pretend to be a wine, coffee, or beer connoisseur/sommelier. i think of jeremiah, who taught me that an air popcorn popper can double as a coffee bean roaster. i remember when the little loud red machine puttered its last and not long after, the giant stainless steel toaster-oven doppelganger roaster arrived.

when jeremiah had finished a round of roasting, the following mornings, he’d request that i taste the coffee fresh off the press as is, sans sweetner and unsullied by any kind of lightening agent. sometimes i could differentiate between the guatemalan finca and the ethiopian… yirga cheffe? sidamo? and most times, i couldn’t.

a few times, however, i’d wait a little longer to top off my cup and add the liquid and powdered white substances. i take some extra sips and savor the ephemeral but inherent sweetness in the black.

during my first few months back home, i learned that mom preferred nonliquid nondairy creamer to milk or even liquid nondairy creamer because the latter stuff cools down the coffee. she likes it hot, as it were; the fact that powdered coffeemate is lactose-free and that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated are not the only appealing qualities.

it’s quite brilliant, actually. and because of this simple yet profound observation, i follow a certain procedure when i prepare and serve myself tea: spoon a bit of sugar into cup, place tea bag in cup, pour hot water into cup, stir, pour milk, let brew, drink. for coffee, it’s a similar regimen, but minus the tea bag, switch coffee for the hot water, and nix the brewing step.

when it comes to tea, i like to add the milk soon after i’ve added the hot water; the water’s just come off of a gently rolling boil, and the milk takes a bit of that edge off–but not before the heat has dissolved the sugar. i’d like to think, too, that the tea is being infused to the milk and not just the water. if i happen to add a tad bit much of the milk, i just let the tea steep for a little longer and voila, the tea retains that nice ruddy caramel color.

but if i wait until after i’ve brewed the tea to add milk, i risk letting my tea go tepid. then i’m left with what looks like sugary dirty milk. and as long as winter keeps its tight grip on the next few weeks, i continue to prefer hot drinks to cold.

but really, why am i waxing on about coffee and mostly tea anyway?

IMG_1786

je vous aime beaucoup, beignets et cafe au lait.

after the ash wednesday liturgy, i had a chance to catch up with a dear, sweet friend over some mint hot chocolate. i lay in bed, with ashes still on my forehead, mulling over our conversation, dripping with truth and grace. just like Jesus.

once again, i was reminded of the value and necessity of declaring over myself God’s promises and his track record for keeping said promises. why does the truth, especially if it’s about me, sound so different when it comes from someone else? the truth value of the statement is unaffected by the speaker, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way.

anyway. there’s something in this cup of dark roast coffee mellowed out by dissipated sugar crystals. i can’t tell if i can’t see this thing–a lesson, a metaphor, an epiphany–because it’s opaque. and i can’t tell leaving room for milk obscures or rounds out the revelation that’s waiting at the bottom.

maybe this cup is someone’s heart. the coffee by itself tastes acerbic, the bitterness confused with strength. but the reality is that the coffee’s not strong, it’s been burnt from all the hovering over the fire for too long. the sugar can only do so much. the heart needs soothing, a salve to ease the pain and draw out the nectar masked by the dregs. there needs to be space to cool down and soften up.