Friday, July 29, 2011

A Secret Letter

This is a letter that I'm writing to my sister-in-law.  She doesn't know about it and I won't show it to her until many years have passed.  I'll show it to her one day when she needs a smile the most.

My lovely sister-in-law
Taken on the day me and my dad got into the fight
Before we even knew there would be a fight
June 17, 2007

Dear sister-in-law,

Do you remember when we first met?  I was a junior in high school.
I was so young, always learning, and imperfect as can be.

My younger brother and I had finished school for the day and my older brother was picking us up.  The car pulled up next to us and there you sat in the passenger seat. 

We giggled at the sight of you
Because it looked like you could barely fit.
Because we were cruel.
Because we were still so young and learning.

We tried to calm ourselves down - before you could notice - as we got into the car.  I had a bag of delicious cookies that I had been eating but I stopped eating them; the sight of your fat arms made me sick and I was ready to throw up.

This is when we first met.  Do you remember?

Then you moved in with us a couple weeks later.  I noticed that you were somewhat lazy and didn't help much around the house.  You constantly picked fights with my older brother when he didn't do things your way.  You also smoked cigarettes regularly even though you had asthma, diabetes, and morbid obesity.  I tried to look past your flaws, because I wanted to believe that you were more than what you appeared to be.  A year passed and I was still searching for something that would prove to the world that you're not such a bad person. 

Then the fight happened.  Do you remember?

It happened a couple weeks after I came out to my dad.  The three of us - me, you, and my dad - were headed home from the beach.  My dad was criticizing my driving skills and ettiquete.  He said I was a rude person.  I had no idea why he was so angry at me and I told him I was trying my best.  Out of nowhere he started yelling at me about how being gay is wrong.  I quickly realized that the real reason behind his anger was because he was upset about me being gay.  His anger continued to escalate and he hit me while I was driving.

Do you remember?  You said you were scared.  I was too.

We arrived home and my siblings saw the tears in my eyes. 
They were silent and let me have my peace. 

But you...

You became my hero that day when you came to my side.
You asked if I was okay and gave me comfort.

I have wholeheartedly forgiven my dad.
And I can forget about what he did that day.
But I will never forget about what you did that day.

It is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

After that day we became very close friends and side-by-side we slowly learned to become better people from each other.  I've watched you morph into a more positive person.  You've become more warm and more kind to others.

You have helped me learn that I need to be more accepting of other people if I want them to be accepting of who I am.  I know people give you nasty looks for being overweight.  Do you remember when we were eating at Jack-In-The-Box and those people kept staring at you?  At times like those, I'll gladly be by your side to comfort you.

I can't wait to have our next chocolate milk party.

Sincerely, Justy

Another picture we took on that day
Damn that shave ice tasted good

p.s. The two of us enjoyed throwing what we call "chocolate milk parties".  They usually happened late at night when everyone else was sleeping.  The two of us would drink as much chocolate milk as we wanted.  We would bang our mugs together and toast and laugh about how silly we were being.  Sometimes we would have cookies too.

She's in Texas right now with my older brother (he's stationed there for the army) so we haven't had a chocolate milk party in a while.  It's been about four months since I've seen her.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Sketch of a Tree

I was about to go to sleep, but something just happened that made me smile. 
As a result, I am here on my laptop writing about it 
and drinking hot cocoa with marshmallows.  Mmmm.

I really want to post this before going to bed.
Here's what happened...

Earlier yesterday I saw my younger brother's white board lying around.  Written on it were a couple of words that nearly took up all the space.  I saw - however - that there was just enough space in the upper right-hand corner for me to make a quick sketch.  In less than two minutes I had sketched a tree. 

I stared at it for a while.  "Not bad for a sketch," I thought to myself.  I left the white board lying around and forgot all about it.

Throughout the rest of the day, my younger brother dished out a couple mildly-mean remarks at me.  He does that sometimes.  Apparently I'm a fat person, lazy and ugly, etc.  Maybe he just enjoys kidding around and means nothing by his criticisms, but it is difficult to tell sometimes.  It bothers me, because I want him to look up to me, not look down on me. 

I was just about to go to sleep when I saw the white board next to my younger brother's bed.  He had erased everything on it...

Except for my sketch.

A smile spread across my face when I saw that.  I quickly found my camera and snapped a picture of it.  This sketch is worth remembering.

Maybe my little brother looks up to me after all.

The little sketch I made on my younger brother's white board.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

White-Sand Beach

Here's a collecton of pictures that I've taken over the years at the same beach where me and my family built the wall of sand (read my previous post  The Giant Wave). 

I'll add more pictures to this post as I take more pictures at this beach. 
It's one of my favorite places to take photos : )

In the far distance - about 200 meters from where I am - is where we built the wall of sand.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Giant Wave

My dad is a veteran fisherman and enjoys going on day-long fishing trips to his favorite beaches.  When me and my siblings were kids - I have an older brother, an older sister, and a younger brother - he would often bring us along.   These fishing trips were simply fun.  No stress involved.  Just pack a cooler full of snacks and drinks and we were good to go.  This is the story of what happened at the beach one day...

Our troubles were melting away.

My dad was leisurely fishing on the beach as us kids played to our hearts' content.  The four of us ran lightly through the sand, carefree and wild with jubilation.  We had conquered the deserted stretch of beach and we ruled the land. 

The waves were particularly strong on this day.  They roared and taunted us, daring us to get a little wet and a little messy.  We graciously accepted the challenge and began to build a wall of sand near the water's edge.  Our wish was to shut out the waves, hold them hostage in the sea, and prevent them from reaching beyond our barricade.

The waves, however, were enraged by our intentions and refused to be held by prison walls. They began to unleash unforgiving power on to our wall.  The water boiled in the ocean, shot like fireballs onto the shore, and hurdled into our blockade.  We felt the ground shaking beneath our feet.  I used to be scared of the waters at times like these; they looked ready to eat me alive.

The four of us became comrades in this battle against the sea.  We frantically assembled a much-needed defense.  My older brother and I vigorously threw sand into heaping piles.  My sister and younger brother swiftly patted down the sand and shaped the blockade into a solid, shielding C-shape.  We had to hurry; the tide was quickly rising.

The waves had rapidly evolved into ghastly, terrorizing monsters.  They lurked in the sea before rushing forward to swallow our wall.  The waves devoured chunks at a time and greedily came back to gobble more.  The blockade was hopelessly falling victim to the brutality.

My siblings and I were struggling to keep the wall up. 

Out of the corner of my eye I saw my dad walking toward us, carrying his fishing gear and smiling.  I thought he would laugh at us and keep walking in search of fish.  Suddenly - to our shock and delight! - my dad abandoned his fishing gear, ran over, and started to help us build the wall. 

A smile spread across my face.

The five of us did our best to keep the wall up, but eventually a giant wave came and demolished the whole thing.  Our clothes were soaked with water and covered with sand.  The battle had been fun and entertaining though and we laughed like hyenas afterwards.  The five of us had lost the fight, but we had each other and that was all that seemed to matter in the world.

"C'mon guys!  Let's go home," my dad said with a smile.
Together we headed home as the sleepy sun began to set.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words

One small step for this blog:
Acquiring a thousand views!
Check it out : )

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stars and Starfishes

Two days ago, I had taken and edited the picture below.  My plan: simply post the picture of me sitting down and staring at the star - yes, the smiling one - and see what people thought of it haha.  I thought it would be fun.

After editing the picture, I was sitting down and staring at the star.  Suddenly I remembered a particular story about a starfish.  Just a little over a year ago, I had read a book - "The Power in You" by Wally Amos - which contained a short story about a starfish.  After reading the story, I rushed to go write it down in my journal. 

I opened my journal today - it's been a while since I've done that - and reread the story.  Just like when I read it the first time a year ago, the story made me smile.  I hope it makes you smile too.
   "The Starfish"
Author Unknown

As the old man walked down a Spanish beach at dawn, he saw ahead of him what he thought to be a dancer.  The young man was running across the sand rhythmically bending down to pick up a stranded starfish and throw it far into the sea.  The old man gazed in wonder as the young soul again and again threw the small starfish from the sand to the water.  The old man approached him and asked why he spent so much energy doing what seemed a waste of time.  The young man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left until the morning sun.

"But there must be thousands of miles of beach and millions of starfish.  How can your effort make any difference?"

The young man looked down at the small starfish in his hand and as he threw it to safety in the sea said, "It makes a difference to this one."

I've read this to my dad, my older sister, and my sister-in-law.  They all smiled when I read the last sentence. 

It's a short and simple story, yet magically holds a handful of meaningful messages.  I take to heart the message that you just have to start with one - one step, one person, one action - to make a difference and that, afterall, really is the difference.

I wonder... what does the story mean to you?

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Friday, July 8, 2011

What Makes A Man

The drawing below was made by a guy I know very well.  When we were eleven years old, he confessed to me that he was gay.  He trusted me - the only person he trusted at the time - and trusted that I wouldn't tell anyone unless he was ready to come out of the closet.  As we entered college, he would tell me that he was still insecure with himself.

My friend believes that he's not the best at expressing himself - I agree - so he found an outlet for his insecurities: art.  He drew this picture and I was surprised by his drawing ability.  They say that when a person creates a piece of art, it is a self-portrait of themselves.  In this case it is true.  I see him when I look at this picture.

I made up a story to go with his drawing and I hope you enjoy it.

"What Makes A Man"
Colored pencils on paper

The city was alive. 
People were crossing sidewalks, driving fancy cars, and wearing expensive business suits as they rushed to work and other places. 

A teenage guy sat there on the sidewalk, not in a rush like everyone else.  He wanted everything to stay still for a moment as he thought silently to himself.  What does it take to become a man?  Who does he want to be and what path did he want to take in life?

The young fella was practically invisible to the crowd around him, but he was used to it.  He knew the roles he played:  the lone wolf that nobody understood, the underdog that people overlooked, the middle child that never gets the attention.  Maybe all of this was true, but he didn't want these things to stop him from choosing who he wanted to become.  After all, isn't life supposed to be about choices?

Outwardly, he kept himself poised.  A warrior ready to take on the world.  The idea of exposing his weaknesses to the world was not his idea of fun, so he kept them hidden.  If you looked into his eyes, however, you would see a gentle sadness hidden there.  Even his sister has told him, "When you smile, I still see sadness in your eyes." 

The boy's sad eyes were caused by a constant inner struggle to become comfortable with his sexuality.  For this reason, he didn't mind being invisible to people at that moment.  At least they were oblivious to his insecurity of being a homosexual.

Slowly and surely, the boy finally stood up.  He still wasn't sure where he was going, but he realized that staying still was no way to get anywhere.  He took a step into the crowd and disappeared.

Now that you have read the story
you might have a few questions

You might be wondering,
"What ever happened to the guy in the story?"
I'll tell you if you just ask
but first keep reading.

Maybe you're wondering,
"Is this a true story?"
I'll gladly answer if you just ask
but first keep reading

Now you must be wondering,
"What is the purpose of this silly epilogue?"
I'll gladly give you the reason
but first keep reading

because I have to tell you something.

The guy who drew that picture has a blog and

 his blog...


It's right here.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Lighthearted Poem

I decided to work part time as a math tutor at the University of Hawaii Manoa during the spring semester of 2011.  Not only did helping others with math feel rewarding, I knew that it would prove useful in the future as a civil engineer major.  This is a poem of what happened during work one day...

He walked into the tutor room gracefully
Almost as if he glided
I never heard his footsteps
Nor did I feel the vibration of the ground

No one took notice
No one looked up as he made his way to his seat
No one except me

I nervously walked over and asked if he needed help
He looked up at me with kind eyes and said yes
I planted myself into a seat next to him
With an eagerness that shouted my joy

Sharing my knowledge with him was delightful
I was the accomplished wizard
And he the bright apprentice
His natural charm was irresistible
And I was captivated by his spell

Every now and then
I would allow myself to gaze at him
His handsome smile was enough to light up the room
His voice was enough to keep someone warm on a cold night
His caring eyes were enough to make anyone feel special

As our time together came to an end
My hand softly touched his hand
And his hand embraced mines
Our last and final embrace
Before we parted ways