The Night I Lost My Mom for Two Whole Hours

2.27.17 Lost Mom for a few hours today.

I waited at the usual place to pick her up, getting there half an hour earlier. 8 o’ clock arrived, the time that marked the end of her shift, and there was no sign of her. Over the next 40 minutes, I grew increasingly anxious and worried. She wasn’t responding to any of my texts. I called her and it went straight to voice mail. At first I assumed her cellphone battery ran out. I text my father to see if being late was a common thing, and he reassured me she has been late on occasion. He urged me to be patient and that dinner was ready. But 40 minutes?

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tick tick tockin’

I weighed my options and went with my heart. I went by her workplace to check on her, peering in the door to see if I could catch a glimpse. The business closed at 8:00 pm but the lights were still on. Thinking the management decided to work her overtime, I walk around the block for 10-15 minutes, occasionally circling back to check on the store. It was 9-something by then. Were they holding her hostage? I thought as I stood across from the store front. Dad was worried too, and instructed me to knock on the door just to check if she was there. He was on his way to me.

The front and back of the store held formidable distance. I wasn’t sure how hard I’d have to pound on the glass to be heard. To put it simply, I was fighting to not wimp out. Then just when I mustered enough courage to knock on the glass doors, I ran into a friend and was locked in conversation for several minutes. I kept glancing back at the store window. My worried face must’ve shown, because my friend gently pushed me to knock on the door. “Go on, I’m interested to see what happens,” he teased, but with good intentions (I think).

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I lift the store handle expecting a rigid pullback, but to my surprise it opened as smoothly as cutting room temperature butter. “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,” I said as I turned back to my friend. We waved our goodbyes and I walked into the empty store. “Hello?” I called out. I knew there were people in the back. I called out two more times, approaching closer to the back without barging in. I weighed my options: do I go in yelling and screaming to look for Mom and possibly cost her job, or do I just wait here like a forgotten rag doll?

After what seemed like forever, the owner showed his face. I asked for my mother, and he told me she got off work at 8:00 pm. That was when the panic really set in. I thanked the owner and left the store frantically searching all the places she could’ve been waiting. My eyes were like a chameleon’s, jutted orbs circling on its own axis, methodically scanning every corner. Horrible images of twisted strangers abducting my mother filled my head. It didn’t help that I had seen Split (2016) two days before.

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Does this look like a creepy movie? Because it is.

I walked around wondering if it was even worth asking all the carefree strangers about my mom. I determined my description of her would’ve been too vague and it wasn’t like she stood out from the crowd. As I walked outside into the night, I got out my cellphone and said, “Okay, okay, calm down. Think Sherry, think.” I took a breath and began to log into her iCloud account, determined to see if I could locate or signal her somehow. Just as I got to my car, Dad called and I could hear the sound of my mother’s voice in the background.

“I found her on my way out,” he said. It meant she had started walking back home, where there were several unlit areas and a Graveyard she’d have to pass through. I angrily demanded to know what happened. Apparently, Mom hadn’t seen my car parked at the usual place.

“But I was there since 7:30!” I fumed. She whined a ‘sorrrrry‘ in the background. I felt a sense of relief, like if you were to climb up Mt. Rushmore and then jump downwards– having been tense the entire way up, the moment of descent felt light and loose in comparison.

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When I got back home, Mom called out a cute greeting from a place where I couldn’t see her. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to express myself face-to-face, I announced how angry I was and slammed the door.”You must be angry,” she said as I came around the corner. When I saw her, safe and sound and whole, I clung onto her and broke into waves of loud sobs.

“I was so worried!”

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” she said as she gently patted my heaving back. “You must’ve been really frightened, right? It’s okay.” I continued to wail, my face buried in her shoulder. “Alright, alright, no need to cry.”

“Alright, no need to cry,” Dad urged in the same tender manner. “Let’s eat.”

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Post dinner, I arrive upstairs to find my sexy statistics homework waiting…

Loud Hatred and Quiet Love in Society: Interview with Steve H.

In everyday American culture, politeness is valued above most qualities. But how often is empathy substituted by politeness? On January 27, 2014, a trending status popped up on my Facebook homepage:

You know the most f*cked up thing about our society is? We’re only allowed to express what we hate openly, and what we love quietly.
You know the most f*cked up thing about the social expectations is? That ultimately no one gives a shit about you, your welfare, or your feelings.
Because no one wants to listen, they’ll give you that dirty look as if you’re the one at fault and should not try to throw this emotional burden on others.

It peaked at 83 likes.

I met Steve during my undergraduate year in film class. He came off as personable, friendly, and a general do-gooder. He seemed like the last person I’d suspect to have a mental breakdown. Though we conversed entirely in English, both our mother tongue ties back to Mandarin. “In Taiwan, they really don’t give a damn about your individuality… they make you feel like your self-worth is just. Splat. Down there. That you’ll always belong in this group, you’ll always learn the same thing, [and] you’ll always be doing the same thing.”

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During the time China and Taiwan had political and plausible violent conflicts, Mr. H convinced Mrs. H (Steve’s father and mother, respectively) to take their son to the sanctuary of Canada. On one of Mr. H’s rare visits, Mrs. H became pregnant with a girl. Mrs. H was prepared for the transition into a full-time caretaker of her children and life in a foreign city. The move granted her children exposure to both Western culture and education. Mrs. H eventually went back to industry after the family reunited in Taiwan four and a half years later.

Steve grew up in the absence of his father in his early years. “[Even in] the times he did spend with me, it felt like he only did it out of obligation. Like he would be on his cellphone or reading the newspaper or whatever.” In the later half of high school, Steve stayed with his aunt and uncle in New Hampshire. What temporary relief that the move to America could’ve brought was lost when he realized he was wedged in-between the rocky marriage of his aunt and uncle.

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Keelung, Taiwan. Steve’s hometown.

“I wasn’t a freeloader,” Steve said. “My mother paid my uncle out of courtesy, because my mom is my aunt’s younger sister. Technically speaking, my aunt wouldn’t have asked her sister to pay anything, but… that’s just how it went.” His aunt often ended her day in tears, despite being the ‘more reasonable, more logical’ one and sought Steve for comfort against his uncle’s hurtful accusations.

“I always had to be this person that I did not want to be […] I was always put in that position where I have to sort of compromise between them. I have to sort of appeal to my uncle because I want to stay in that house, I wanna finish my high school. But I always have to comfort my aunt […] I would always have to analyze things for her. ‘Oh, things will get better because our uncle had this kind of background, that’s how he became the man he is today,’ this and that.”

It’s noteworthy to mention that in traditional Chinese culture, the eldest male in the family receives the most pressure to succeed financially and to carry on the family name. He had to face exceedingly high expectations for ‘success’, determined by the amount of wealth and prestige one can generate, both from his family and himself. This building accumulation of expectation snowballed in college, when he ultimately “shattered” against the weight of expectation.

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“So I always had this expectation of myself right? And this expectation was that I could pick myself back up […] I’m an Aquarius, the one with the vase. It was like I would break and have to piece myself back together again with glue, but it wouldn’t really hold.”

SH: So you took those feelings and went to college.

ST: […] I wanted to make myself feel worthy again. I wanted to try my best to get involved with student organizations, and I think I did a good job of it. […] No one took the time to call me, to text me, or even Facebook message me. Well, a few of my cousins did.

I didn’t feel like just lounging at a person and telling them all my issues. Again, this sounds ironic because I already threw it on Facebook. I’m already trying to make it someone else’s business, but there’s this guilt inside of me that I feel like if I were to trouble somebody with this–

SH: It’s not their burden to carry.

ST: Right, and I would owe them something… For the most part, they were like, ‘do you want to talk about it? do you want to meet up this weekend?’ and all I did was, ‘it’s okay, don’t worry it, I’ll be fine soon enough.’ Lies, lies, lies.

***

The next day after Steve made his first Facebook post, he realized that it might’ve been a mistake when some of his friends acted differently towards him. “Is it completely going to change my image in front of people?”Steve reflected out loud. “And it did. I had someone ask me if I was bipolar… like they didn’t believe I was depressed, because I didn’t act like it. They thought it was a joke.

[I] climbed to the elevator shaft on the first floor of my dorm… until someone I knew walked by and asked if I was feeling okay, and I felt the sincerity in the voice asking me that triggered me to release all the negative emotion I had inside of me. So I just straight up started crying. I just cried and cried and cried. I didn’t even care how terrible I sounded. I sound like a seal when I cry, you know.”

He and his ex-roommate, who had been promoted to be a resident advisor, had a long chat the same night of his breakdown. Steve was told that if he had a breakdown within the next week, he would be put on suicide watch and would have to get professional help.

SH: What would be your advice to someone who’s struggling with depression, anxiety, or maybe just struggling in general?

ST: I would say to get help. Tell someone, anyone. Don’t let it get to my point where you breakdown. And if you need professional help… you should get it.

What my counselor did was that she listened to me from a very neutral standing point, and just encouraged me to talk as much as possible… She believed the best way to deal with sadness was to fully comprehend what had gone on and for it to get to that point.

SH: Have you gotten better since you’ve gone to therapy?

ST: Definitely. I’m a lot better now. It took time, but I’m better.

To read Steve’s original full posts, click here.

6 Unconventional Love Stories Perfect for Valentine’s Day

My friend Alex Wen, writer and reviewer of many things, joins me in selecting the finest Valentine’s Day movies sure to make you go, “Why?” while munching on popcorn. Strawberries and champagne included, ‘cause that’s what we like.

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12 Angry Men (1957)

An 18-year-old Hispanic boy stabs his father to death. Now what? 12 Angry Men explores the boy’s verdict process led by Henry Fonda, and debate is sparked on the basis of reasonable doubt. The viewer is invited into the room with the same monotony and presumptions as most of the jurors: let’s just name a verdict and call it a day! Fonda tests your patience to unravel a mind tease worth waiting for. The recipe: stuff 12 salty, sweaty men who just want to be done with jury duty into a hot, humid room for 1 hour and 33 minutes. Let them bake until justice is served.

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When Marnie was There (2014)

When Marnie was There is a Studio Ghibli film that slipped under the radar. After being sent from the city to the rural countryside, tomboy Anna Sasaki (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) meets a mysterious blonde girl only she can see. Their nightly adventures are filled with underlying tones of eroticism– gentle caresses and playful touches, intimate gazes into each others’ eyes, and at one point dancing under the moonlight– a tone that only makes the twist even weirder. The film goes at a steady pace deconstructing Anna’s adolescent identity and, by the end of the film, shows her cumulated development as a growing girl.

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A Muse (2012)

The younger woman, older man pairing is taken to an extreme in A Muse. By chance, and more fittingly by fate, 70-year-old poet Lee Jeok-yo (Park Hae-il) falls in love with 17-year-old Eun-gyo (Kim Go-eun). The film is explicit in showing Jeok-yo’s conflicting inner state of being, full of raw emotions that pull him at the arms and legs, resulting in a narrative that feels more (uncomfortably) real than your typical romance. Jeok-yo’s apprentice, Ji-woo (Kim Mu-yeol), comes in to complete the love triangle. Each character is refreshingly self-aware of his/her circumstance in their pursuit for an ageless romance.

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The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

While many debate the merits of Oscar front-runner La La Land, few can deny the influences it draws from French darling The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Jacques Demy’s musical masterpiece transcends words as it paints the dashing vibrancy of young love. Indeed, Demy may have found the structure of speech too rigid, opting for a full-blown musical–every word of dialogue is sung. Beautiful, bold colors and charming numbers set the stage for a film that accurately taps into the intensity, self-assuredness and impracticality of young love birds. A stunning performance by Catherine Deneuve is the cherry on top.

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The Lobster (2015)

In Lanthimos’ dystopian world–much like the real world, it’s illegal to be single. Any non-couples are sent to a hotel where they have 45 days to find a partner or be turned into an animal. This is the fate that awaits David (Colin Farrell), newly single after his wife left him. As he avoids turning into a lobster, he’s sent to hunt down single people hiding in the woods and attend awkward dances, all while trying to find a new companion. The absurdist humor is tempered by Lanthimos’ penchant for dark, dry wit. It’s the eerie familiarity of courtship games, the absurdity of tribal behavior and the banality of human loneliness, that define the dystopian structure–rather than the wacky scenarios. The Lobster’s greatest accomplishment is having the audience find mundane romantic rituals the most absurd aspect of a world where single people hide in forests.

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Millennium Mambo (2001)

Troubled couple Vicky and Hao-Hao live in the same apartment, but as Hao-Hao puts it, they’re from two different worlds. Millennium Mambo explores the isolation and disillusionment that plague young adults living at the edges of society. Hou allows the camera to stray from the subjects, floating off into mosaics of color or lingering on the insignificant backgrounds. Instead, it’s the emotions–the character’s contempt and desperation–that serve as the central pillar of focus. As Hou explores Vicky’s world, he unravels the inherent privilege that provides for a life of normalcy. The plot is sparse, pacing slow and narration unnecessary, but Hou succeeds in conveying the emotional core of Millennium Mambo, enough to build a bridge between worlds.

 

 

Fireside Chat with Brian Dickerson, Creator of Brian Memes

While I was browsing Facebook on my phone, one of my friend’s shared posts caught my eye:


I reached out to Brian Dickerson, creator of Brian Memes, for more on his personal interests and his creations.

***

S: What are some of your favorite anime from this past year?

B: From last year I’d say Attack on Titan, Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and… that’s about it.

 

S: Were the anime characters you parodied in your video based off specific Naruto characters?

B: Actually they were based off a mixture of characters in one. Yusuke from Yu Yu Hakusho, Ichigo from Bleach, Pain from Naruto and Freiza [from Dragon Ball Z].

 

S: That’s awesome! I can see the characters now that you point them out. How do you draw inspiration for your meme creations?

B: Aw you’re too kind. […] I’ll be honest, I don’t even script my material, everything comes straight from the noggin. Every now and then I do set reminders in my phone of which ones to work on since so many ideas come to mind throughout the day. Most of my ideas come from personal experiences.

 

S: Letting the creativity flow right through. I like that. They say the best sources of inspiration come from daily life (like the ones of your mom calling). Can we be expecting another anime parody video from you in the future?

B: Agreed! You can tell when it’s real and when it’s far-fetched, either way it’s funny so it doesn’t even matter……and yes I’ll be putting out a series actually, sometime soon. The more people in it, the better.

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***

During the day, Brian holds a job at Gold’s Gym. He attended the Thomas Edison High School of Technology for about 3 years, where he learned masonry, landscaping, and electrical work. He plans on utilizing those skills in the future to build brick and mortar businesses. His words of advice to every aspiring video maker:

do what no one else has done. First observe the masses, then do the opposite. And take notes on any unique ideas that come to mind. Then…take action.

If you’re interested in collaborating with Brian, you reach him on Facebook. If you’re cool enough, he might even give you his digits. Now that’s colloquialism.

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FEB17 Collection of Random Thoughts

Lately I’ve been having many dreams involving different forms of government. Sometimes I am an observer, other times I’m in the heat of the debate or an active agent working the field. I’ve had dreams where I am 25 pounds lighter than I am right now, dreams of hiding a period stain on my butt from co-workers, and tiptoeing to safe spots while naked in public.

In today’s dream, a 30-something year-old said, “Silly people, don’t they know? All lobsters come with parachutes.” A small blue parachute laid on top of a wooden desk, and a blonde woman in her 20’s proceeds to lift a live, claw-snapping lobster from underneath the parachute. I was amazed.

“People don’t have to buy lobsters at the grocery store anymore,” I said.

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DEMOCRACY FOR THE LOBSTERS!

  • Years ago, a woman emailed me about using the pancake song in her recipe book. No idea how that would’ve worked, and I never heard back…https://youtu.be/oUbgDSko6H0Did she have second thoughts about including an amateur song(ish) in her professional cook book? Nah…

 

  • My favorite yoga pose of the month is the pigeon.
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Oh, Joseph! Not in public…

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I’ve never hurt so good.

 

  • Strawberry roll cakes are delicious. And yes, I devoured the creation below. Each bite was full of strawberries, hand whipped cream, and fluffy cake…

 

  • I have been busy going back and forth between work, research, and classes. Never has lazing and sleeping felt so good.giphy
    Bad posture included.

 

  • I got a late Christmas gift from Kayla. She had been folding paper stars from the time we met in 7th grade.

Her fiancee, Nick, gave me a hand decorated jar filled with chocolates, a mini Vodka, and a lottery card.

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Unfortunately, Lady Luck didn’t want to give a hunnid…

 

  • Been helping with a Harry Potter trivia fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The main organizer, Jill, is so dedicated to the event… she has poured more heart and out-of-pocket expenses than I think necessary. Looking forward to how the event will turn out later this month. Sneak preview: