A Shining Moment – A Haibun

I am drinking hot coffee despite the 90 degree weather, the sweet creamy liquid warming my nostrils before I take a sip. I hold it for a moment, savoring it’s decadence before swallowing, while watching my children run through the sprinkler. The sunlight glistens off the water droplets hanging onto their dark hair and tan skin. These diamonds sparkle and glisten before being flung into the air echoing the sound of their laughter. I drink my coffee and commit this happy, shining moment to memory.

Growing up, my sprinkler was the fire hydrant in front of my neighbor’s house. Instead of soft, squishy grass underfoot, we had pavement that left our feet raw from scrapes on the unyielding surface. Our laughter gurgled like the fire hydrant while our screams matched the siren wail of the police – a warning that our water play time would soon come to an end. My mother would drink black coffee and watch us from the stoop, her worries emanating from the lines between her eyes, like the sun’s rays burning our already darkened skin.  

On this summer day, I drink my coffee, leaning against my marble countertop while looking at my children through the panoramic kitchen window and toast myself for not having wrinkles between my eyes.

Sunshine rewarding
Generations of hard work -
Suburban sprinkler
I bought this water toy for my kids to play with since we don’t have a pool. I thought it was cute when I bought it – maybe because, subconsciously, it reminded me of my childhood summers in Brooklyn.

This haibun was written for Lillian’s request on dVerse’s Haibun Monday to write a traditional haibun about One Shining Moment in our lives. Lillian has an excellent description of what entails a “traditional haibun” including resources for the KIGO (a word/phrase that alludes to a season – in mine, sunshine alludes to summer) and examples of KIREJI (a shift that adds insight). I hope that my haibun is meets the bar!

Serendipitously, this haibun also works for Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to juxtapose our life as an adult against our life as a child. I do marvel at the difference between my childhood as an immigrant to this country versus that of my children. My parents both worked, my mom during the day and dad at night. We lived in a diverse neighborhood in the city where my brothers and I would walk to school around the corner. We took public transportation and made frequent trips into “The City”. I did my share of “babysitting” my brothers and could be classified as a “latch-key kid” growing up.

Eventually, we were able to move out of Brooklyn and out to Long Island where my younger brothers were able to live the “suburban life” – taking a school bus, playing football on Friday nights, getting their driver’s license at 16. By that time, I was already in college so my experience with “suburban life” only came when I was married and about to have kids.

My kids have never had to take public transportation as their sole means of getting around. They marvel at sidewalks and when we do go on the train or bus in the “big city”, it’s a grand adventure! They have always had a back yard and have no clue what a “stoop” is. My husband (who is also an immigrant) and I have taken them back to the places where we grew up and they marvel at the “tiny houses” and wonder how we lived with only one bathroom, without a yard, and having to share bedrooms.

Race/ethnicity, social class, education, profession – these are all inter-related. My “shining moment” would not have come to fruition without the hard work and sacrifice of my parents, without the guidance of teachers, without the encouragement of friends. Yet for some, even with these current supports, the institutionalized discrimination/racism inherent in our systems in the USA keep them from reaching their shining moment, from getting their just reward for their hard work and sacrifice, and that of their ancestors.

We all deserve a shining moment in our lives. I would even venture to say, we deserve more than one. I would even be bold enough to say, that we deserve to shine as bright as we would want in every moment in our lives. Shine on, friends, shine on!

©️ 2020 iido

To My Stubborn Father from Your Stubborn Daughter – A Double Nonet Letter

Dearest Dad – You always stood your ground

With standards high above my reach

Standing on that moral hill

Cloistered rules, you would teach

I inhaled it all

Principled breath

Held belief

Until

Truth

Breathed

Knowledge

You don’t know

Of the “Other”

Exhaled, these old rules

No longer hold my views

I have climbed another hill

And stand on ground planted by you

With love and principles – Your Daughter

New life growing on top of the old. That’s not Groot – that’s the circle of life!

I love my Papa. I am his favorite daughter….OK, his only daughter….but I am also his favorite debating partner. My dad and I are similar in so many ways and this is probably why we debate/argue/quarrel more with each other than he does with my other siblings.

My dad always held high standards of morality, values and principles. He passed that on to me, although sometimes we look at these high standards from different sides. So we see things in a different way and approach problems/issues in a different way. Although if you look at the underlying values of these approaches and points of views, you would see that they are the same. You might even ask, why are we even arguing?

The fact is that despite our similarities, I am a different person than my dad. I’ve had experiences that my dad has not. Some of these experiences are because I grew up middle class in the USA while he grew up upper class in the Philippines. Other experiences are because he is a man and I am a woman. Still other experiences are because he was born and grew up in a different era than I did (almost a quarter of a century separates us).

I wrote this poem for two prompts: one was Punam’s Ragtag Daily Prompt for Saturday – Cloistered and the other was for Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to “write about a suffocating situation”. I will admit that when I was younger (especially in my teenage years), I did find my Papa’s rules “suffocating,” but as I grew up, and now have children of my own, I realize how those rules showed the depth of my Papa’s love.

Happy Belated Father’s Day, Papa! Here is some Key Lime Pie for you! I love you!

©️ 2020 iido

Rant – A Poem

I could rant about the boredom

About not being able to eat at the crepe place

Or get my nails done to match the front door

I could rant about the kids 

Running around inside then outside, being loud

And disturbing the neighbors working from home

I could rant about the heat 

And not being able to go to the beach

Or to Disney for the first time

I could rant, but I won’t

I can’t

When families are made newly homeless through job loss

When food pantries are not getting enough donations as their lines get longer

When parents are risking their lives for $7.25 an hour

When some kids don’t have an outside

When some kids can’t be loud or else

When black bodies are pitted against blue bodies

When black bodies are killed and will never get to go to Disney

My immigrant, light skinned Asian, college educated, middle class, suburban stay at home mother runner rant is bullshit.

Because I can still breathe when others cannot.

New House in the Suburbs, Paul Klee
1924 – National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #235 – Rant. I have also incorporated a Wednesday Writing Prompt from Jamie Dedes’ that she posted on April 22, 2020 that used the picture above as a starting point. I wasn’t able to write anything for that prompt then, but the picture has stayed with me so I am glad to be able to use it now.

I really liked the haziness of this painting – it reminds me of the images/ideas I had in my head about the kind of house I would live in when I grew up. I wanted a symmetrical house, with a weeping willow in the yard, maybe a pond close by. There would be a swing under the weeping willow and in the fenced in yard, there would be apple trees and flowers. And of course, there would be birds flying under the yellow sun with a few puffy clouds overhead.

I lived on the first floor of a duplex in Brooklyn when I envisioned my “grown up home”. We had a little yard in the back that was usually overgrown with weeds despite our attempts to grow vegetables and flowers. The kitchen was all the way in the back, so you had to pass through all the rooms to get to the back of the house. I would ride my bike up and down the street on the sidewalk, from our house to Aunt Rita’s house – that’s as far as my mom would let us. Sometimes, we would go to the bodega at the end of the block to get treats or get some plantains for a quick and yummy afternoon snack.

My kids have never lived in the type of place I lived in growing up. They’ve only known single family homes in the suburbs with decent yards and two or more bathrooms. They all are currently obsessed with living in tiny homes when they grow up, that they would park in our driveway so we can all still have dinner together as a family.

All my dreams of living in a spacious house have been reversed with my children’s dream of living in a home smaller than my childhood Brooklyn home. The irony.

As I write this in my typical American suburban kitchen with granite countertops, I am acutely aware of what I have, that others don’t. Yes, I know my husband and I worked hard to afford to be “comfortable”; that our parents also worked hard so we can live “better” then they did. But I know we had help – social supports, financial resources and a systemic societal advantage of being stereotyped as the “model minority”.

At least, I used to see it as an advantage. After much reading (check out this article and this one), I realized that any type of stereotype is still a stereotype and is actually a disadvantage. Also, the whims of racism can change quickly and harshly as evidenced by the rise of anti-Asian sentiments with the arrival of the coronavirus that has been named by some as the “Chinese virus”.

So while I have lead a financially and educationally privileged life, I still have experienced racism:

  • I’ve been accused of stealing at the local grocery store numerous time (to the point that I go to a different store farther way in a more diverse neighborhood just so I don’t have to worry about being “randomly audited” when I shop – because it isn’t random if it’s always and only me)
  • I’ve been called racial slurs as I’ve been out running
  • I’ve felt afraid going to a new place and realizing I was the only non-white person there and getting those looks that tell me I don’t belong

The thing with racism is that it erases the individual – that all important staple of American exceptionalism. You don’t see my struggles and triumphs. You don’t know about the awards I’ve won or that my closet with pants sizes ranging from college to pregnancy. You aren’t aware that I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or of my passionate conviction that Heinz is the best and only ketchup in the world. You don’t know that I dreamt of a house with a willow tree in the front.

But because I have lead a financially and educationally privileged life, I need to use that advantage to help those who were not as fortunate (through no fault of their own). Otherwise, I will be just as complicit in perpetuating racism.

Rant over.

©️ 2020 iido

Writers Rally Against Anti-Asian Hatred Amid Pandemic; May 27, United Against Hate: An Online Day of Solidarity — The BeZine

“We realize that this anti-Asian sentiment comes alongside an equally troubling uptick in xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-Black violence,” said writer and PEN America Trustee Min Jin Lee. “This is a clarion call that all forms of racist hatred, especially at this moment, are unwelcome, unacceptable, and intolerable. As writers, we reckon with the power […]

Writers Rally Against Anti-Asian Hatred Amid Pandemic; May 27, United Against Hate: An Online Day of Solidarity — The BeZine

Please read the article and sign the petition. Thank you to Jamie Dedes for amplifying this important endeavor. Racism in all it’s forms must not be tolerated.

Red Cup Revisited – A Double Nonet

The red cup – a fixture in pictures
My focus yet blurred in my mind
Strong and sweet – the fake message
Scared and silenced – the truth
It matched everything
Or so I thought
Remember?
I can
Not
Stop
Drinking
Toss the cup
Where can I drown
This fear of living
Who can I reinvent?
Lost for so long in the mix
I need to climb out of the rocks
Where is the hand holding the red cup?

IMG_5877

Nowadays, the cup I hold is usually a coffee cup and not the ubiquitous red solo cup of parties past. With all the stress that has been brought on by this pandemic, I’ve seen many memes about parents drinking more to deal with the kids being home with them all day, having to help their kids with school work, having to work from home – the list is endless for all the issues that a large glass of red wine (my drink of choice) could fix.

I worry though when I hear my friends joking about drinking at noon after struggling with their kid to do math or about going to the bathroom or closet to get away from their family so they can drink. I have a friend who jokes that once the shelter-in-place is over, they will either need weight watchers or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or both. At least I hope they’re joking.

Because drinking to deal with stress can lead to a drinking problem – especially if the stress is daily and constant and they are drinking daily (and constantly) to deal with it.

Because drinking (whether it is viewed as a problem or not) will affect their parenting including how their child sees (and learns) how to deal with stress.

Because whether it’s eating or drinking, this behavior doesn’t get rid of the problem and in fact, can just exacerbate it.

Yes, I’m speaking from experience. Yes, I feel the pull to fill up a red cup now – especially in light of recent losses and especially after reconnecting with some friends from college who I did a lot of drinking with  (is it weird that we all reconnected because of dealing with this pandemic?).

Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt from two weeks ago asked for poems about “reinvention,” which is what I did – and do – after significant life events.  So, this poem is a reminder, that I am not that college girl anymore and I don’t need a red cup to calm myself, I don’t need a red cup to deal with stress. I have writing…I have running… ….inspiration and perspiration…..

I’m in charge of what my hand will hold….

 

© 2020 iido

Surrender – A Poem for My Cousin

I will stare into your eyes
As the poison drips into my arms
And laugh when I tuck plane tickets
To Europe in my suitcase

I will make faces at you
As I lay on the operating table
And laugh when my shirts are looser
And I see how much weight I’ve lost

I will flip you the finger
As I’m holding my kids
Celebrating graduations and birthdays
And even just regular days

I will slap you as you try to steal
The warmth of my blankets
And the heat of my lover
Wrapped in promises of forever and never

Yet when the time comes
And I know the difference between beignet and brioche
And I’m down to my high school weight
And the kids have gone back to their full lives
And my lover has fallen asleep on the couch

I will look you in the eyes
And smile sweetly
As I beckon you to me
And lay my head on your shoulder
Holding tightly
As you carry me across the threshold

IMG_5681

 

My cousin, Rowena, died in the early morning of Monday, May 11, 2020 after a long fight with breast cancer.  Coincidentally, Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt from last week requested poems responding to the questions, “If you were looking death in the face, what would you remember with joy? Who would you think of fondly? What would you remember sadly?” You can read other thought-provoking responses to her prompt here.  The submissions by Anjum Wasim Dar, Adrian Slonaker, and Mike Stone especially resonated with me this week.

Rowena is my first cousin to pass away. I didn’t think I was in that “season of life” yet, but with the pandemic and the state of our world, maybe it’s time to accept that Death has no season, no time line. It certainly wasn’t the time for Ahmaud Arbery.  I had always thought that if I was confronted by Death, that I would fight and have to be dragged to the grave…now the thought of surrendering to the inevitable, doesn’t seem all that scary…is that thought because of Faith or ignorance or a rational reaction to the hardship of living? I guess I won’t know until I’m looking Death in the face.

 

© 2020 iido

Bananas – A Poem

I sit on my overstuffed couch

Scrolling on my iPhone

Waiting

Impatiently

For groceries 

Annoyed

At not being able to get all the food 

I ordered from that same couch

Two weeks ago.

 

She sits in her second hand Honda 

Giving her phone to her toddler

Popping the trunk

Opening her door in the rain 

Gathering two bags at a time

Making five trips

Leaving  them on the covered porch

And, after ringing the doorbell

Swiftly getting back into her car.

 

I open the door 

Dismayed that two bags had fallen over

And the cereal had gotten wet 

I see her drive off with the toddler in the back

Eating a banana 

And I wonder if that’s why I didn’t get bananas in my groceries. 

IMG_5616

This poem was written for Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt from last week. She requested poems with a “focus on right versus wrong, life versus death, on living wages, guaranteed health-care for all, unemployment and labor rights. Dare we move beyond yearning to hope.” I love how her prompts usually involve some aspects of social commentary.   I’m not sure if my poem above captures her request, but given our current environment, shopping – and in some cases, hoarding – can be an issue of life versus death.

I admit, I didn’t take the threat of this virus too seriously in the beginning so I didn’t engage in the toilet paper and anti-bacterial cleaner hoarding.  I did go to Costco with a friend who encouraged me to at least get some extra food, extra medicines and a new flashlight and batteries. While we were there, I had to take my son to the bathroom and asked her to watch my cart. When I returned, she said that someone had asked her if they could take one of the packages of ramen noodles that I had since there weren’t any more on the shelves (my hubby eats ramen for a midnight snack every night). My good friend defended my right to have the last package of ramen noodles and sent this person on their way. I was in shock that someone would want to take food from someone else’s cart, and this was even before schools and other venues were closed, before the US federal government admitted that the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, was a serious health threat.

Now, after three weeks of shelter-in-place, I am glad for the extra food that I bought that day. But as I look in our freezer, I realized that I am running out of food. My friend (who I went to Costco with) had already placed an order from our local supermarket the week after we went to Costco and was having groceries delivered this week. She even laughs jokingly about hoarding paper goods, but I know she has more than enough toilet paper to last through summer.

I’m now looking at ordering groceries and having them delivered, and I feel guilt. I can stay safe in my house and have minimal risk of contracting the coronavirus while other people don’t have that ability or that choice.  While my current living situation (which we worked hard to achieve) allows me that luxury, what about the people who will be delivering these groceries? What about the people who are working as cashiers at the supermarket? Who are stocking the shelves? Who are working in the warehouses? Who are trucking the supplies to put in the warehouses? Who are cleaning the stores once everyone leaves? Who are picking up the garbage from these stores? All these people who have to risk their lives, while I can sit in the safety and comfort of my home, waiting for the doorbell to ring.

 

(c) 2020  iido

 

 

Saturday – An Acrostic Poem and March Runfession #8

Saturday mornings begin best with

Awakening while the sun still sleeps, dressing then

Trotting down the stairs with sneakers in hand, quietly making a PB and J yet

Ultimately waking the youngest ones with the coffee pot’s final hiss,

Rushing to get them back to bed then, quickly into the car, fueling and hydrating

(me not the car)

Driving to a favorite trail, late, but relieved that my tribe waited for me to

Arrive before starting on our group run. 

Yes, this is the best way to begin a Saturday. 

img_4889

I wrote this poem last week for Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt (you can read responses to her prompt HERE), but I wanted to save this poem for the March Runfession. So without further ado….

Forgive me Nike for I have sinned….

I runfess…I really, really, really, really, really miss Saturday morning group runs! Yes, even waking up at 5 or 6 AM. I miss the quiet companionship of the thumping of sneakers on packed dirt, the cool early morning mist and the laughter of bada$$ mother runners.

I runfess…my new sneakers (that arrived just a week before we knew what the term “social distancing” meant) have been very committed to being 6 feet away from people, specifically me! Despite having more time at home, the “extra time” that could have gone into running has not made an appearance.  I blame it on homeschooling, but really it’s probably the stress of what’s going on that has defeated my motivation.

I runfess….in an effort to get out of the pandemic funk, I signed up to Run the Year.  That’s right, I plan to run 2020 miles this year (or part of that if I can get a team together…Bueller? Bueller?).  Because what better way to combat stress and pressure than to commit myself to running a ridiculous number of miles when I have never even gotten close to running before?? I blame the high of finishing the Taji 100 for this one…

I runfess…I’ve also signed up for the March Madness Challenge through Team RWB (Red, White and Blue). Team RWB is a group that supports active military and veterans through physical activity.  Even though I have not been in the military (aka, a civilian), I have a nephew in active duty and numerous friends who have been or are active military.  The concept of staying active for a larger cause resonates with me. I may not be able to help in a tangible way, but this act of solidarity speaks to my social soul.

Well, there you have it…March has definitely come in like a lion this year…here’s to hoping that lamb comes soon and brings toilet paper and hand sanitizer….

 

(c) 2020 iido

 

The Path – A Double Nonet

The straight and narrow path calls to me

Stay strong, be brave, keep eyes ahead

Gluttonous green surrounds me

Lusciously tempting me

It can be all mine

Lumber, water

Resources

I will

Take

And

Share them

The path says:

You have enough

Abstain from conflict

Caused by fear, greed, hurt, hate

Bridge ignorance with knowledge

Each slat a step to love and peace

Generosity widens the path

This double nonet was written for Sadje’s “What do you see?” Picture Challenge #19. The photo Sadje provided (above) seemed to fit with Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt request for poems “abstaining from war and conflict while committing to compromise and to unity with and respect for nature into perpetuity.” I’m not sure my poem totally fulfills Jamie’s requirement but the two together, at least to me, are a perfect complement.

The season of Lent has begun for Christians and it is marked by fasting, almsgiving and prayer. Instead of giving something up, I’ve tried to do more – more praying, more helping, being kinder, being more compassionate, giving more whether it’s monetarily, physically, emotionally or mentally. Laurie, a fellow runner, from Meditation in Motion wrote a great blog post about this. I think this practice has helped me have more hope in the world. Especially with everything going on right now. Ghandi said it best, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

©️ 2020 iido