169 tagged with #daily

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eye contact

i slipped my goggles over my helmet as i left the house this morning, but i forgot to push them down over my face. it wasn't until i was about to pull into the back entrance that i realized there were tears streaming down my cheeks, the wind tunneling into my eyes like a thousand papercuts.

in the summer, i'll bike through clouds of gnats, feeling them drown in the sweat pooling at my brow and sliding into the corners of my eyes. the chemicals they secrete as they die sting as it seeps into the mucous membranes of my face, and sometimes it blinds me for a moment.

05 March 2018 19:59

the endless cycle

as i walked past the barricades set up for the street festival, i overhear the police asking each other, 'hey, what's the difference between chinese and japanese anyway?' and i didn't let myself stop, or turn my head to see them. further down the block, the local lion dance troupe lifted each other up above the heads of the crowd between an old record store and a sushi shop. maybe i should have been grateful that the question was being asked so innocently to begin with.

but i remember chasing the other kids on the playground in anger, throwing rocks and sticks and screaming because they wouldn't stop chanting 'chinese-tokyo girl chinese-tokyo girl'. i'd find out later that my fifth grade teacher waited until i took a hall pass to go to the bathroom before telling the class of suburban white new jersey kids that i must be so lonely and scared for having moved there from china. no amount of my protests in perfect english that i moved there from iowa could undo that impression; as far as they were concerned, my face was yellow, i was born in tokyo, so i was chinese.

it was only a year and change ago that a taxi driver complimented my english when i was helping my cousin deplane at the airport. she looked embarrassed when i asked her why my english wouldn't be good. sometimes, people make these innocent assumptions; sometimes, people ask questions out of genuine ignorance. i have a hard time tempering my response to those situations nonetheless, knowing that there are still children who will pull up the corners of their eyelids on the playground and chase each other around while shouting 'go back to china, go back to mexico, go back to africa'. they learn these games from older siblings, who learn their parents' ignorance.

whose job is it to teach them otherwise?

04 March 2018 20:55


one day in the first grade, we were asked to tell stories, and then write them down. i knew what stories were; my parents had told me stories, about my grandfather who was picked up by a tornado and placed on a mountainside cliff, about the monkey king who needed to beat the troll in a footrace so he vomited in the troll's breakfast bowl to make him sick, about the wolves in the steppes that would sneak up behind you and tap you on the shoulder so they could tear out your throat when you turned around.

i listened to the stories told by my classmates, and they were equally likely-sounding to me. one told about a fat man who came down the chimney and brought gifts, one told about a baby bunny with a broken leg who kept losing its cast, one told of a new puppy they got. i thought about these stories, and wrote my own.

after i turned my story in, my teacher pulled me aside, her hand gripping my thin arm tightly as she took me out of earshot of the other students. 'i am very angry with you,' she whispered. 'you stole someone else's story. your story was a lie. you're a liar.'

i didn't understand why my story was wrong; i, too, wanted a puppy, so i described a new puppy we would have gotten if the world had bent to my will. it was a border collie, the same as my friend's, and knew the same tricks. this was a world i imagined, and i wanted to share a story about it.

no one told me that the stories had to be real. i didn't believe my classmate's story of a fat man coming down the chimney with a bag of toys; why wasn't his story wrong?

03 March 2018 22:54


content note: bugs, eating bugs

i remember a small, stained white envelope that my parents opened, telling me it contained the seeds of silkworms. we planted them in a box with some mulberry leaves, and left the box in the den next to the patio door.

when the silkworms sprouted, you could hear them quietly grinding down the leaves. these delicate little noodles, clinging to the sides of the box, reaching for the wilted green flaps of fiber, slowly converting the plant matter to flesh. they'd nap, once in a while, and you could tell they were asleep because a triangle would appear on their foreheads, and when they awoke, they would be bigger.

when they stopped eating, they'd search out corners. my mother showed me how to build platforms for them, construction paper spread over the top of a plastic cup, held in place with a rubber band or a piece of string. if you moved a cornered sillkworm onto the platform, they'd spray silk across it, making a little disc of fabric.

then, they'd curl up and turn hard on top of the disc and die. sometimes, my mother would fry them for a snack.

we had to let some of them cocoon normally, though; they'd eventually become moths, which would join end-to-end and quiver until more silkworm seeds scattered across the bottom of the box, and then we would let them fly off into the woods.

02 March 2018 19:47

in like a lion

hello, march, i whisper into the morning. i've stopped letting myself get stressed out about my slow mornings because i need that energy for other things.

the recent warm spell fades fast; a high wind warning sweeps across the river valley, the sled dogs tugging a cloud full of ice.

01 March 2018 20:37

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