Footprints and Discoveries

Someone told me the other day that he had randomly encountered my blog while perusing the net, without even knowing my last name. And my first reaction was panic: which blog? what sort of embarrassing drivel about me can be easily found and read? What kinds of footprints have I made on the world wide web in my last ten years of internet life?

I did a search with my first name and location and encountered a few pictures,  my YouTube channel (lord, must delete that soon), the link to this blog, an interview, some articles, and years worth of funny quotes. Remember the days of Xanga? High school and first year of college, first boyfriends, endless instant messaging, belly-deep laughter, procrastination, crazy youth.

I spent all night last night dying of laughter while rereading all of the quotes we put up on Xanga our freshmen year of college, that year of music majors on 7J and unbridled insanity. That spontaneity is what I miss. Being young, living with crazy people, not giving a shit, making the wrong decisions, growing from them, meeting the right people at the wrong time, recording quotes because there were just so many things said that were worth remembering. There were so many unexpected lines. The first year of complete independence out from under our parents’ roof, still young but taking those first steps towards reconciling our egos and insecurities with the real world, with new people.

Among all the remembered conversations were also poems, a start of a long, continuous process of feeling and how I wanted to recognize those feelings with words –well-chosen words. Poems that I’d completely forgotten about. An age that I’d forgotten about. The years I turned 18, and 19. And the updates which back then were so banal, so un-meditated, and yet which constitute a considerable part of my life hidden in the virtual pages of an old, obsolete online diary.

My roommate Lauren and I shared a love of writing down things, remembering things, especially the ones that gave evidence to happy, had-to-be there moments. Real and unrepeatable moments. We harbored a life-long relationship with sound, shared a pair of speakers, admired Pablo Neruda, e.e. cummings.  There are some things that surprise and delight you when they re-surface in your brain; other things are just impossible to forget. Tact, joy, weightlessness in love, music.

There are times when I write more, and times when I don’t as much. That year it was non-stop, I devoured pages like I usually do when a sensation has been deeply ingrained in me, when a feeling is newly ignited, when a bit of pain or desire makes me remember how alive I am again.


An untitled poem, written May 11th, 2005

this where she slept –
where the fluffy yellow floral
comforter bore her abrupt naps –
this where day sprawled its
gentle face and the
broiling dark grey of dusk
and rainy days sought a
place in our room –
our room –
where out of habit we knew
which drawer kept our socks
and skirts and –
how the seaons did rotate
in our closets –
the mornings of her early showers
nights of quiet “petalling”
of our pens clicking of
keyboards or raucouses in
the hallway –
how does habit become
something you will miss
and forget as years erase them –
little things so crazily dear –
like the door snatching at the
sometimes-compliant rug
neighborly noises – her laugh and
her fingers when she

Second-hand Memories

They say that I was awful at Cantonese when I was very little. Not that it has improved drastically over the last twenty years.  I had bad intonation and limited vocabulary and spoke to my sister only in English. This, also, hasn’t changed.

Having an older sister is useful in discovering memories of yourself you never had and which your parents have already forgotten. Anecdotes of fevers, whining, fears of monsters at the window… All of the following is remembered by my sister.

When I was one, the two bones in my left arm were broken, my parents were told, while crawling around (very vigorously?). Social workers came to our house to investigate and to see if the cause was child abuse.  My parents had to temporarily replace the padded mahjong table and chairs they were using as my make-shift crib with a real crib they had to borrow from my aunt.

I don´t think anybody really found out what had happened exactly.  My sister told me that I would stay at my aunt’s house during the day at that age; she was unofficially the Chinatown babysitter because she didn’t work.

My aunt also babysat a pair of cousins, a boy and a girl.  They spoke mandarin. My time spent there resulted in me babbling phrases in perfect mandarin at home, one of which I frequently mimicked was: “Bu yao da mei mei.”

My sister remembered asking my mother, “What is she saying?”

“Don’t hit your little sister.” Probably something my aunt used to repeat to the mandarin-speaking boy.  Perhaps that had something to do with my broken arm, who knows really? The resurfacing of these little bits of information after the course of the years is like finding gold. Perspectives change. Memories alter, adding pieces of you to yourself.