- Kitchen minion (working at my family’s restaurant as prep cook, dishwasher, porter, etc).
- Math tutor (high schoolers).
- Waitress (again for my family).
- Sales associate (JCPenney and two children’s boutiques: This Little Piggy Wears Cotton and Cotton & Company).
- Research assistant (Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute).
- Museum docent (Hall of Health, a children’s health/science museum).
- Babysitter (a family I met at Cotton & Company).
Gray clouds loom in the distance that evening as we drive over the bay bridge. Sail boats and freighters are common sights in the bay, but there aren’t any to be seen; Sundays of three-day weekends are always quiet.
Dad looks out over the eerily still water, momentarily transfixed. He breaks the silence with a peculiarly dark question, jarring in contrast to the lighthearted day we had just spent together as a family. “What would you do if you were out there for a long open-water swim, with your brother or best friend, and they said that they couldn’t make it any further?”
After a brief pause, he elaborates. “Think about it. There’s nothing and no one around for miles. Do you try to save him, drowning together in the process? Or do you continue on without him?”
It was a dark hypothetical. I appreciate outlandish questions, and as a chronic worrier, my mind naturally tends toward the dark (hope for the best, prepare for the worst — as they say), but this was tragic. I didn’t want to think about it, but I did.“I’d never be on a swim like that. If I were… I don’t know.”
I consider it as realistically as I could. “He really can’t go on? What if we just turn on our backs and float awhile, to rest?”
“No, at this point, he’s done. You think he wants to die? Of course not, but he’s sinking.”
I sigh. “I don’t know what I’d do, but I know that either way, I’d be dead. I’d drown trying to save him, and if I had to leave him behind or watch him drown, I’d drown in my panic and grief.”
Dad continues to build the scene, as if my response didn’t register.“Even if I gave you a measly 10 lb weight, that’d affect your ability to swim a long distance. An entire person. There’s no way you could make it.”
“Yeah…I don’t know.”
Moments of sad, contemplative silence pass.
“This happened to me, many years ago. Think about being on a plane that’s going down, think about everything — all the thoughts, memories, and concerns that would suddenly flood your mind. All those things? That’s what I thought about in that excruciating moment.”
I sit in stunned silence, looking out over the water.
Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy. There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it.
– The ability to stick with a job until it’s finished.
– The ability to do a job without being supervised.
– The ability to carry money without spending it.
– And the ability to bear an injustice without wanting to get even.
May 15, 1995
For the past few months, I’ve been getting back into the habit of running. Mostly for my dad who, after doing a 15k with me and my brother, would like to do a half marathon together as well. I’ve never been much of a runner and frankly, I’ve always hated it, but for my family — of course!
During and after my runs I’ve experienced periodic foot pain, so I’ve been experimenting with run schedules, running surfaces, shoes, shoe fittings, shoe lacing, etc. Unable to figure anything out on my own, I finally made an appointment to see a podiatrist.
I got bad news, but it was a very informative appointment. After she asked about my injury history, checked out my stance and walk, and x-rayed my feet and ankles, here’s what I learned:
- I have hypermobile joints. People have always pointed out that I’m weirdly flexible — not in a manner that’s useful of course; only in bizarre, pointless ways that elicit reactions like “EW how are your arms/wrists/whatever bent like that?!” So, this was an official diagnosis of what I already knew.
- I have extremely unstable ankles, thanks largely to my past injuries and the aforementioned hyperflexibility.
- Inherently flexible individuals are highly accident and injury-prone, and have a tough time becoming rigid. It’s all coming together…
- Due to my foot shape (furthest right on this image), certain areas of my foot bear the brunt of the impact when I run.
- When standing, my feet are very flat, which can be problematic for running.
- I have a bipartite medial sesamoid in one foot.
- If my ankles continue to worsen, surgery is an option — down the road.
My podiatrist’s conclusion: I’m simply not built for running, and I shouldn’t run at all.* I should instead focus on low-impact, strengthening activities like yoga, barre, and pilates. I should also wear ankle braces, boots, or high tops at all times to support my ankles.
Huge bummer. But I’m glad I have a better understanding of my body and how I can prevent further (or permanent!) injury.
*I asked what my options are if I insisted on running: custom orthotics and specific shoes.
Update: I saw an orthopedic surgeon for a second opinion. He also concluded that I shouldn’t be running… but for completely different reasons. 🤔
I came across an email I received as a freshman in college (more than a decade ago!), that touches me deeply to this day. I’ve been fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life, and I hope everyone knows that even if we aren’t in touch anymore, they remain a part of me.
Here’s to living honestly, vulnerably, fully.
Ok, so my roommate just read this long nostalgic article about how when we leave here we go back to our homes and we won’t ever have this dorm life again. Anyway, it is just making me think. I know you are busy with all of your homework, and I know that I should give you space, but you know, I don’t want to go home this summer regretting the time I had with you down the hall. I can’t think of wasting months of having you so close, being able to be with you so effortlessly. It’s not going to be like this again. I don’t mean to come off too emotionally (I feel like I can say what I am really thinking around you, otherwise I would never have sent this). So I guess tell me what you think, but I don’t think I’m going to try to “give you space.” I’m just going to hang out with you like you’re my friend. Screw the rest of the emotions, I just want to be able to hang out with you and not feel any sort of tension because of other feelings.
Last week I checked out the Renwick Gallery’s opening exhibit, WONDER. I went solo, and because it was a weekday, there were gloriously few visitors. I’ve included few photos and (Snapchat) videos that don’t do it justice.
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.
About a year ago, I made the switch from QWERTY to Dvorak. It was frustrating, and on more than one occasion I found myself questioning my decision; I struggled to keep up in work, in conversations, and with my thoughts. I wondered if I’d ever type at a reasonable speed again.
I’m happy to discover that I’m finally almost back to my QWERTY speed and accuracy!*
*I changed keyboard layouts with the goal of typing more efficiently, not necessarily more quickly, in hopes of avoiding repetitive strain injuries. Getting my typing speed back is just an added bonus!
My parents aren’t very romantic, but I can tell my dad is getting more sentimental as the years pass. He recently reminisced about the beginning of his relationship with my mom.
Your mom was a country gal, and I was from the big city. She’s 6 years older, highly unconventional for our generation and culture. Your mom’s entire family was against our marriage and impending move to the U.S., predicting that our relationship would die within the year, leaving her stranded with nothing and alone in the states. We’ve been married nearly 40 years.