34 tagged with #family

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I round the corner before my office to a fluttering of black wings, and a sparrow flies towards me. I freeze, bike in hand, and the sparrow wheels past and lands on the handle of my office door again. When I approach, slowly, it takes off, rushing for the stairwell at the end of the hallway. It hesitates before flying through the door, deciding instead fo come back towards me.

By this time, I'm ready, and lean my bike against the wall while pulling off my shirt. It aims to cross over my head, and I net it gently. It struggles in my hands for only a moment before falling still, and I carry the parcel to the back door.

It doesn't move when I spread my shirt on the grass, and I worry that I killed it in the process of trying to catch it, but I can see its eyes darting and its chest heaving. It only takes a few gentle nudges on its wing and tailfeathers before it takes off into the sky.


I called my mother to wish her a happy mother's day, and she answered the phone in her sleep. I said she could call me back later, but instead, she mumbled packing instructions for our trip next week until I convinced her to hangup.

She called me back later anyway, and informed me of a list of personal items she would pack for me because she didn't trust that I would pack them for myself.

11 May 2014 16:17


The night air is chilly, but I refuse to call it cold, as if by assertion I can force the weather to remain firmly in the territory of a mild early spring. It gently nudges through my fleece pants; I couldn't be assed to change back into clothing appropriate for public appearance. Overhead, the moon watches as it always does, without comment.

"Are you not in your house?" my mother asks me through the phone.

"No, I'm taking a walk to post some mail." The gas bill sits crumpled in the chest pocket of my jacket, an excuse for a chore so I could take the phone call outside of my house. I've already walked past the block with the sticker-covered blue box twice because I wasn't paying attention to where I was going.

"Oh, sure," is her only response before resuming her report of which of my cousins were dating, which had gotten married, and which just got dumped.

08 April 2014 22:33

Call Your Mother

Some Saturdays fly by, but it doesn't help when I don't crawl out of bed until just after noon. I try to resist planning for things to happen on Saturday, because it is my only explicitly unstructured day of the week, and I enjoy not giving that up. As a result, I generally plan to do all the things I don't tend to plan to do. I can't think about that too hard without falling into a feedback loop of hand-wringing.

I've put off laundry for days, and the food production aligned itself so fresh bread and fresh hummus happened at the same time. The sky is pressing a slow, drenching cold rain onto the earth, and my mother sent me a text declaring herself as having a couch potato day. I don't understand how anyone can purposely have a couch potato day, because there are few things that agitate me more than sitting in front of a television for more than ten minutes.

My father flew to China to spend a few weeks with his family, and my mother asserted that this means I have to call and text and email her so much more because he's out of reach. If she wanted to claim that she was lonely and needed the contact, I would have been less annoyed about the request, but it was bundled with her anxieties of getting robbed, slipping in the shower and hitting her head, or having a stroke on the kitchen floor. Given that she lives a five hour drive away, I'm not sure how sending her a text message every day would allow me to prevent those things from happening to her. In any case, within the first day that she was left alone, she used up all of the minutes on my phone plan for the month telling me about her grocery shopping.

I wonder what she did for the two weeks when my father and I were both in China. I'm conflicted between wanting to give her the support she desires and wanting to believe that she's not so emotionally helpless that she can't deal with being in the house by herself for a little while. I'm conflicted between letting myself get stressed out for two weeks so my mother is less stressed out, or taking care of myself by not allowing her to monopolize my energy when she requests hour-long phone calls every day.

And I'm sad that there are two states that cannot exist in harmony. Either my mother suffers, or I suffer.

29 March 2014 16:03


Part of a response to my father, when he asserted that there is a hard cap on everyone's innate ability to do something as a reason for why he doesn't feel like working on improving his go playing in order to keep up with me:

I think you will never know how good you are capable of getting if you stop working on it, though. If you don't really know what 10k even feels like, how can you say that you don't think you'd be any better? The way I see it, I know what 7k is right now, and I know what I have to work on to get to 6k. When I reach 6k, I might know what I need to get to 5k. I can keep inching forward until I get to a point where I no longer know how to proceed. I reached this point a few years ago, around 14k, and thought I was basically done improving, but after some time to back off and start with a fresh approach, I've started improving again. I think I can keep doing this basically indefinitely; the only limiting factor for your skill is where you choose to stop improving. So, if you think you've reached that point, then you really will never get better. But there's no harm in staying at that level and working on it anyway, right?

Sometimes I underestimate my own capability for nauseating optimism and resisting fatalism.

18 March 2014 12:27


I have a recent bug up my ass about my inability to draw things, only when I think about it, I realize that this is a recurrent bug that I've felt since I was a small child. In fact, the more I go through the things I have drawn in the past decade of my life, the more I am aware that I have not made any progress, but I just forget what happened the last time this gnawed at me and approach each phase of renewed effort at drawing as if I am doing it for the first time.

The first time I was asked by my parents to contribute to my grandmother's birthday card, I stated intent to draw a horse. After a few months of horseback riding lessons and spending a significant amount of my socialization with the canonical pod of little girls who draw horses, I thought this was a service I could perform. I don't know if it was that the mail system has ever truly been so undependable or if it was an effect of my parents' raging paranoia, but this was a card that we could guarantee delivery because it would be personally handled by a visiting uncle.

I recall an argument that involved my parents trying to convince me not to draw a horse, since at least one of my cousins was known to be a far more accomplished childhood doodler than I, and they worried that my horse would not look as good next to hers. I was beyond the age when ugly scribbles were considered cute, but not yet at an age where I had a firm enough grasp on things like perspective, line weight, and self-respect.

Ultimately, I don't remember if I drew a horse, or if I just filled the blank space allotted to me with flowers and badly-written Chinese. I have not tried to draw horses since that period of my life.

09 March 2014 17:14

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