Daily Prompt: Purple

One of my sisters is crazy about things purple. So far she hasn’t thought of dyeing her hair purple, or maybe she has but can’t bring herself to do it, which is good.

So whenever I buy her something, I make sure it’s purple. One good thing (for her, (but not so much for me) about her obsession is whenever I see something of this color I immediately think of her, and even if I’m not interested in the thing itself, part of me is tempted to buy it for her.  Grrrr.


When I saw these flowers on campus, of course I remembered my sister. Luckily for me, she’s not crazy about flowers.

Have a lovely a week!

T.

The Daily Prompt: Purple

Thoughts after Reading Gogol’s The Overcoat 

I’m not entirely sure if it’s mere coincidence that last night I read Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat , and this afternoon, I watched the second episode of The Young Pope where Jude Law’s Pope Pius XIII spoke to the faithful for the first time, and he said something like we have to be closer to God than to each other, that he will never be closer to the people than he is to God because we are all alone before God. 

Akakievitch’s death was truly tragic, just as tragic as his life. Tragic to the reader, anyway. If he existed in our times, he would probably be diagnosed as being on the spectrum and would get some help. But in the story, in his adult life, no one cared about him. 

The quote I pasted on the photo reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend a few years back. I told him how the sight of so many people who came to my father’s funeral made me think there would be very few people who would come to my own funeral because as I grow older I’ve become less sociable, less friendly. Especially now that I’ve been away from home for 14 years, and most of my friends and former students have left the city or the country, and I don’t visit friends or relatives whenever I go home; I don’t attend family (clan) reunions….

At my mother’s funeral last year, I was moved by the number of people who came to condole  with us. A lot of them I’ve never even seen before — my sisters’ co-workers and friends, my mother’s former co-workers and students, my father’s former co-workers. It was comforting to see so many people cared about my family enough to come to my mother’s  funeral. My parents were luckier than Akakievitch. 

Now and then I would remind my husband not to die ahead of me, or I would never forgive him. We often laugh when I start talking about this, but we both know I am serious. No way he’s dying before me. Good thing is we agree this is a good idea. 

Having said that, I’ve decided to try to be a little more sociable again. Not because I want people to remember me, but because I want my husband and my son to find comfort in the thought that they’re not alone, that there are people who care enough to come to my funeral. 

In today’s society where fake online friendships are common, will people care if one day you just disappear? Or will you be like Akakiy Akakievitch whose death mattered to no one? 

On Kafka’s The Trial

Franz Kafka became one of my favorite authors after I read The Metamorphosis. The two stories In the Penal Colony and The Hunger Artist” were just as interesting to me. More than a couple of times in the past years I tried to read The Trial, but I couldn’t finish reading it. Until two days ago, that is. 

After reading the last few sentences of this novel, (even though I hate to admit that this came out of my mouth,  but it really did) I went, “WTF?” And to me, that’s what I am supposed to take away from the novel — that it was simply absurd. That life is absurd. 

The only way I can explain what this novel seemed to me like is: Imagine you are dreaming, and in your dream you are the same YOU in your waking life; and even though everything and everyone else around you is acting strange, you react in the same way you would in your reality. 

The whole time I was reading, I kept asking the questions, “What was his crime? What did he do? Why weren’t they telling him? Why didn’t he insist on being clearly told what his crime was?” 

Reading this novel gave me the same kind of feeling (though not literally) that the main character, Josef K., had when he went to the court offices for the first time: “It was as if he was suffering sea-sickness.” The novel just kept getting stranger and stranger as I read. It was not like this with The Metamorphosis where I was prepared for the strangeness because right at the beginning, I knew it would be strange because — who wakes up and finds himself transformed into a giant insect? 

This novel might not have made me question and ponder on things like Dostoevsky’s novels have, but  it’s left me with a very strong feeling that life can truly seem absurd, surreal, that if we look closely into our day-to-day life, we would find a lot of absurdities. 

 ————- 

My weekend starts on a Thursday evening, so…I hope you have a not-so-absurd weekend. 🙂 

T. 

“Mothers are all slightly insane”

(The title is from J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye)

mother

Having arrived back from the Philippines for two days now, I am missing my son so much. I think of the few days I spent with him and recall his smile and his scent and his little arms when he hugged me. And then I go to class looking miserable. Life.

When I’m with my son, I feel like I’m a human jukebox who sings whatever he wants me to sing, or recites Frost’s “Stopping by woods on a snowy evening,” or one of his books. Most of the time, I forget lines from the book or skip some and he promptly corrects me, having memorized almost all of his books and Frost’s poem which I’ve recited to him since he was only 4 days old. (Yeah, yeah. It’s my favorite poem, so.)

My son’s musical taste ranges from classical to pop to nursery rhymes. My husband made him watch Barnabas Kelemen’s performance of Mozart’s violin concertos since he was only five months old, so he is quite familiar with the notes of the concertos. He was so into this video that during his ABA therapy sessions, the therapist used the video as a reinforcement. When the therapist asked me what videos my son liked, I told him about Barnabas Kelemen’s concert. He just wrote it down and said he’d check it out and use it as a reinforcement. The following week he said to me, “So this is classical music? I thought this was some cartoon character or animation.” I thought that was funny.

Although I’m not really a Katy Perry fan, for some reason I got into singing “Teenage Dream” to my son to make him sleep when he was a baby until he was two years old. I would hold him and rock him to sleep while singing this song. And then one day when he was about three years old, I heard him singing a melody which I thought was familiar and realized it was the lines from the song, “You make me feel like I’m living a teenage dream, the way you turn me on./ I can’t sleep/ Let’s run away and never look back/ Don’t ever look back.” Yikes.

These days, though, he likes Franciscus Henri’s version of “Six Little Ducks.” I don’t know why. He’s known these rhymes since he was a baby, and he still likes to listen to them and when I’m around, he makes me sing some of these. A few days ago, he made me sing “Six Little Ducks” so many times (perhaps to make up for the days when I wasn’t around?) And each time, he rewarded me with a tight-lipped smile that seemed to say we shared a secret together. It is a kind of a secret. No one can sing “Six Little Ducks” like his mother — with feelings. My son is used to seeing me act goofy. I wonder what goes on in his mind when he’s watching me sing his favorite nursery rhymes complete with action and facial expression. But seeing his smile is enough to make me go on being goofy. I’m a clown.

Whenever I think about acting goofy in front of my son, I always remember my mother and how goofy she was with me. She was the goofiest woman I know, and that’s what I missed most about her. It felt kind of strange when, talking with my sisters, we had different memories of our mother. They said they did not really see the affectionate side of our mother, that she was serious and strict with them. She was that too sometimes, with me, but I remember her hugs and kisses and laughter more. I remember telling her she was not like other mothers, that she was crazy in a good way. She was the kind of mother who didn’t mind being called “cat” and would respond with “Meow.”

My mother was not perfect, but she had an interesting personality. She can be a good character for a novel. Maybe one day I’ll be able to write about her, which is what she used to ask me to do — “Write about me. Write a poem for me.”

It’s been a year since she passed on, but somehow I don’t really feel she’s gone. I only do when I think about it, then the memories come flooding back and I feel sorry for her, for what she went through during the last months of her life.

This post was supposed to be about me being a mother, but I’m ending it with thoughts I have of my own mother. I guess there’s a lot of my mother in me even if there are some things about her personality I do not want to inherit. Meow. But if what I got from her will make my son remember me with fondness, then I’m grateful. I would like my son to remember me with a smile or with a laugh.

‘Mothers are all slightly insane.” – J.D. Salinger

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wish 

This week’s theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge is “Wish,” which is quite apt for my situation at this moment when I’m at the airport, again, to go home and see my son and be with my sisters as we remember our mom’s passing a year ago this month. I was informed a couple of hours ago that my connecting flight has been cancelled due to maintenance work on one of the air traffic radars. 

This is just a 5-day trip, and I have to be back at work on Wednesday, but now I might have to spend a day in Manila and waste time not being with my son. 

I’ve used this photograph before, but he is all I can think of right now. 

My wish is to see my son tomorrow. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wish 

Thoughts on compassion: a crying lady, a podcast and the brain


As I was walking back from work to my apartment the other night, I passed by a young lady talking on her phone and crying . I couldn’t understand what she was saying (my Mandarin is not good enough), but I felt sad for her and said a little prayer — that she’d be healed of whatever hurt she has in her heart right now.

 That wanting to pray for this crying stranger came so spontaneously. And it reminded me of the time I tried to become a nun and had evening prayers with the Sisters. Every night we would gather at the chapel, pick up a breviary and pray together. There was always time for prayer requests, and at least one of the sisters would always, without fail, mention praying for those who were sick, at home or in the hospital, those who were traveling, and those who were heartbroken….

Why pray for strangers? (I think even an atheist has some way of expressing their hopes that somebody in pain can be healed of that pain.) 

Every time I read or hear something about how the brain works in different people and affects their perception, behavior and just about everything in their lives, I cannot help feeling sorry for human beings who are judged as sick or evil. 

Everyone of us has a story to tell; and everything we are or have become is a product of not only what we have been through in our lifetime, but also of what our brains are like. I honestly believe that if we truly know a person — not only what he is, but more importantly, how he became what he is, there is no way we can ever feel anger for the person, no matter how “bad” he is. We will only have compassion for such a person. 

I am not saying we can excuse every criminal act and simply set the perpretator free. But fully understanding a person is a reason to help a fellow human being become better out of pity, out of compassion. Rehabilitation, not death. Perhaps this costs a huge amount of resources that, one can argue, are better spent on other endeavors; but if we truly care about the human race, I think it is the right thing to do. 

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about the brain and compassion. I think I am repeating myself, but so be it. I am reminded of this topic after listening to a podcast of the Australian Broadcasting Corportion Radio National called “All in the Mind.” The topic was prosopagnosia or face blindness. 

This was an eye-opener for me because I was more often than not, sensitive when it came to not being recognized by people I had a meaningful conversation with. I was almost always offended whenever someone I had a good conversation with, especially more than a couple of times, all of a sudden couldn’t recognize me when I run into them again after just a few days. I have always taken pride in being able to remember people’s faces and names, and certain things they tell me about themselves. It’s a skill I consciously studied and learned after reading about how people like it when you remember their names. So, I tended to not like those who didn’t remember me. 

Learning about prosopagnosia, however, made me realize, yet again, how self-absorbed I still am even after years of trying to be otherwise. I am not saying that I now consider everyone who cannot remember me as having this condition because there may be those who are really pretending not to remember me for whatever reason. I should not react negatively if people don’t remember me because whatever reason is behind it, if I get to the bottom of it, I would most likely understand and forgive them. 

This may seem easier said than done. (I’m having one of those I’m-feeling-very-kind-today days, so I’m not even annoyed when my friend didn’t show up after telling me yesterday he’d show me a funny clip of Bradley Cooper.) But it can be done. We can try to be less self-absorbed and understand why certain people in our lives are the way they are, and if we honestly believe they need to change and they are capable of changing for the better, then we should help them. Who knows they may be able to help us, too. 

Have you ever prayed for a stranger? Was it easy? 

Have you ever prayed (or sincerely wished) for someone you don’t like to have a peaceful/wonderful/blessed life? If yes, was it easy? If no, would you? Can you? 🙂 

                                                          ————————- 

My weekends start on Thursday evenings, and I’ll be flying home soon! Have a lovely weekend!
T.