-
RSS Become a Fan

Delivered by FeedBurner


Recent Posts

Whiskey
Whiskey
Weeds
Weeds
The Crack in the Ceiling

Archives

August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
February 2014
November 2013
July 2013
June 2013

powered by

The "Wu Word" Blog

The Crack in the Ceiling

When I texted Michael the picture of the crack in the ceiling, he was bluntly honest that it was a small crack and it was not right for him to charge me so much money.  We both agreed on a reasonable price with me having an immediate admiration that he had not been like so many other guys who had tried to take advantage of my short stature, female gender, and ignorance in household problems.  When Michael came into my place, he was so tall that his dishwater blonde-haired head nearly hit the ceiling.  While I was fixated on this crack in the ceiling, he brought my attention to another faded crack in the ceiling. Great.  Two cracks in the ceiling.  They can be best friends with each other.  We both looked up at the ceiling with, surely, my neck straining more than his. 

That’s when he said, “Houses move and settle, but this is not a structural problem.  Your ceilings and walls are strong and sturdy, and in very good conditions.  Your place is great and in good condition all things considered.  The ceiling is not going to fall on you.  This is cosmetic.  I think you should just leave it be.”

I stared at him completely dumbfounded.  Here he had traveled in the pouring rain to get paid for a job and he was refusing my money and request.  He said thoughtfully, “People’s perspectives are always interesting.  I see that crack in the ceiling.  You see this crack in the ceiling.  You want to fix the crack in the ceiling.  I want to fix your entire ceiling to get rid of the textured paint and take care of all of these cracks in your ceiling.  You know that this not about the ceiling.  It is not even about the crack in the ceiling.  It is about perspective.  You are getting fixated on this crack in the ceiling.  The longer you look at it and the more you look at it then the worse it is in your mind.  It is just not right for me to do this job and take your money when it is only cosmetic issue of a crack in a ceiling.”    

The Crack in the Ceiling

I paused and thought about what Michael had told me.  What he said reminded me of what my father had once said to me that if there is a blank piece of paper and one single black dot on it that just about all of us will focus on that one black dot rather than the entire piece of crisp and clean white piece of paper.  In response to my Dad and to Michael, my philosophical side came out when I pensively said: “It just goes to show you that everything and everyone break down eventually from all the experiences, wear and tear, and even from other people.  Once we break down, our cracks and breaks will come out.  Little by little.  Or, sometimes, all at once.  Some we can hide.  Most we cannot and will always reveal in time.  When there are breaks or cracks, we can never go back to our original form.  We are forced to try to repair and rebuild from how we are or whatever was broken down.” 

Michael ended by saying to me, “You call me when you give yourself time and have accepted this crack in the ceiling….when you are no longer looking and fixated on it.  Call me when you are ready  to fix the problem of the entire ceiling and not just the crack in the ceiling.   I’ll be here.” 

We all have flaws, cracks, and breaks.  No one can ever fix them, but come to accept them.  We can never go back to our original form before we were broken or breaking, but we can try to build again from breakthroughs and breakdowns.   We come to accept ourselves and all our cracks to try to rebuild and repair over time out of necessity and survival.  We have to try to look at the bigger picture, or clean white crisp of paper rather than the black dots.  Why are we so quick to focus on the blemishes, black dots on the white pages, the cracks rather than the bigger picture?  What are some of your cracks and breaks from life experiences and people?  How did you take action to rebuild and repair?  Or, was your action to do nothing and leave it be for time and patience to rebuild and repair? 

Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary 

Good Lies

My paternal grandmother died at the ripe age of 94-years-old.  My last memories of her was in the summer of 2014; They were the happiest memories I had of her smiley face, missing teeth, and the way her tilted back and her hands covered her vibrating belly when laughter erupted from her pale rose-colored lips.  My grandmother and I could not even communicate verbally with each other.  She spoke Shanghainese and Cantonese with a twinge of Mandarin thrown in there. I spoke English and very broken Chinese.  Yet, we found a way to communicate with hand gestures, facial expressions, and sound effects.  Most of our colorful and unique language revolved around food—of course, this should not be a surprise in the slightest.   I did not know much about my grandmother because of language barriers, but she tried to show me a bit of her life through old photo albums that were creased and worn out in the binding.  .  She showed me pictures as a mother, a wife, and a grandmother.  She showed me pictures before her family as a dancer decked out in silken clothes wrapped around her slim body. These happiest of memories was before everything began to go: first her body and eventually her mind. 

I did not witness when my grandmother’s mind began to go, but I know that before she was about to leave this earth that the one thing the mattered the most to her were all her children.  Every single child.  From the ones still alive to the ones who died.  As a mere outsider observer, I can only guess that parents somehow never see their children as adults or old or aging, but as always their baby to protect, sacrifice, love, care, and put first.  Around the time that my grandmother’s mind began to go, one of her children had died suddenly.  Being that my grandmother was 94-years-old and already in such a delicate and vulnerable state, no one really saw the point in telling her that her son had died.    When the people we love so dearly are fighting for life and have to hold on to hope, suffering, or about to leave this earth, we are forced to make extremely difficult and daunting decisions.  These are the kind of decisions that can keep us up at night, bring on wrinkles and worry, and make us question our own capabilities and mortality to do ‘the right thing.’  We are forced into unchartered and unwanted territory that revolves around truth and lies.

I was raised, or, at least, I perceived to ALWAYS tell the truth—no matter how much it may hurt someone else.  After all, didn’t we all grow up to ‘honesty is the best policy’?  I was and still am confused with this concept of ‘good lies.’  My father told me that good lies are to protect and help someone carry on when they are maybe not able to, while bad lies are purposefully malicious and hurtful.  A good friend once said to me that if we have nothing good to say than might as not say it because kindness is more important than telling the truth that can only hurt.  Meanwhile, I have other friends who say that lies are NEVER good and that the truth always have a way of coming out—AND, when the truth does come out, it is going to hurt like hell and ruin the relationship.  After all, it will take years and tons of memories and moments to build a relationship with trust and respect, but it will take one lie or one supposedly bad thing to cause a relationship to come falling down like a house of cards.  The way I see it is to never judge because we never know someone’s options that led to their decisions.  I also see it that I actually think all of us know a truth to a certain degree, but cannot face it and even lie to ourselves.  I think there are ‘good lies,’ but these good lies are in very gray areas that do not have concrete and clear answers of what makes a  lie particularly ‘good’ or ‘bad.’  Have I been lied to?  Yes.  Have I been betrayed?  Yes.  Have I been told truth that hurts like hell?  Yes.  Have I told lies?  Yes.  And, how about you? 

What makes a lie good?  What makes a lie bad?  Is withholding the truth the same as lying?    How did you feel when you found out that you were lied to or vice versa when the other person found out that you had lied?   Do we all tell lies and what makes certain lies okay and others not okay?  Would you rather know the truth, no matter how much it may hurt?  Does the truth always have a way of coming out, even it is supposedly meant to ‘protect’ someone?    

Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary

 

Dumplings

Growing up, my father was always the chef in the kitchen.  With my chin cupped in my hands and my mouth watering, I asked for recipes and ingredients. His response: “Use whatever is in the kitchen, and then use your mouth to tell you if it tastes good or not.”  I like to think I inherited my love for food and heightened sensitive taste buds of flavorful flavors from him. 

Papa Wu was particularly famous for his spareribs and that to-die-for juicy sauce bedded on fluffy white rice.  His spareribs were such a staple in our family that my childhood friends who slept over asked with wide and eager eyes and drooling mouths, “Is your father going to make HIS spareribs?” My friends probably slept over more so for his food rather than me!   

As my father has aged, his wok and chopsticks were handed to my stepmother.  Over time, my stepmother developed such memorable dishes as sticky chicken wings, twice-baked potatoes, and peanut butter rolls.  When my stepmother came into our lives, there was a newfound and blossoming love affair with noodles that ALMOST surpassed the rice grains that I greedily shoveled into my mouth with chopsticks. 

However, the ONE food in the Wu household that brings all of us together are *drumroll please* : Dumplings.   Dumplings made their way slowly into our lives and quickly into our stomachs.  Truth be told, I do not even know how dumplings became our go-to bonding dish.  I just vaguely remember my Dad, Stepmother, and me scooping our innovative creative filling of shrimp, shards of cooked Chinese glass noodles, and pork into the very center of the dumpling skins, spreading an index full of water on the edges, and folding the skins together until we had our pillowy pockets of dumplings closed up and ready to cook and eat.  The back of my throat tickles with joy when I think about dipping those steamy hot dumplings into soya sauce, sesame oil, pungent Chinese black vinegar, and spicy hot chili paste while the tender meat and the soft skin melt in my mouth and make me close my eyes in sheer joy.   Just about every weekend that I visit my parents, there is a bowl of piled dumplings so high that I could probably call it “Mount Dumpling.”  Needless to say, “Mount Dumpling” disappears quicker than it appears.  I must confess that these dumplings are now frozen from the store, but that one single memory of making dumplings with my parents has never been forgotten.   

The magical power of dumplings returned in my life outside of my family recently when a nearby neighbor invited me to make dumplings on a day that I was almost forced to forge due to a broken bathroom sink pike.  I scrambled, plead, and even cried to a plumber to please fix this ASAP.  I was NOT going to miss making these dumplings.  I would do whatever it took.   When there is a will, there is a way.  Almost an hour and a half late and after a pipe duly fixed, I made it to my neighbor’s place in a very overstressed and overwhelmed state over the latest household debacle.  However, as soon as I sat down in the company and companionship with my neighbor and three other women, every tension began to fall away.  I saw this neighbor as an advanced dumpling maker because she had a most simple homemade recipe for the dumpling skin.  No store bought here.  Everything as homemade as could be.  I began to fall into an easy and soothing pattern of roll, scoop, and pinch close.  I began to forget all my ‘adult’ and ‘first world problems.’   I also began to remember that special memory of making dumplings with my dad and stepmother. I heard my father who did not have any recipes in the kitchen and all in his memories, mouth, and keen sense of taste: “Use what you got and make it good.”

On that beautiful summer day with a balmy breeze, I made dumplings with these women who I had the great gift and fortune of getting to know.  There was lots of laughter, lots of conversation, lots of sharing of life stories, and, most of all, lots of eating.  Perhaps one of the reasons I love food so much is because of the great power it possesses.  Food has the power to bring people together to create on a communal basis.  Food gives an unspoken permission for people to be vulnerable in their method of making and in a safe place of sharing.   Food has the greatest power for us got make good from what we got. 

Dumplings have provided me with one of my most treasured memories with my parents.  Dumplings gave me new memories with these four women that I can guarantee you that I never would have even talked to if it weren’t for this dumpling-making gathering.  When has something so simple been so incredible in bringing you closer together to share and care for each other?  Have you ever been in a place of sharing so comfortably and easily with people outside your inner circle?   What childhood memory do you have of food or some other commonality that brought your loved ones together?  When did you ‘use what you got and made it good’? 

Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary 

Grandpa Mike

At supposedly not even 5 foot in height, I am accustomed to neck strain from looking up at people.  It was extra neck strain when I met Mike.  He towered over me at over 6 feet tall. I had to stand at the very tips of my toes to give him a hug.  I am a hugger, but I am extra extreme all out and all in holder, hugger, and squeezer where everything from within me is rushed to my extremities in the tightest envelope of an embrace when I meet an organ donor family member.  Not only was Mike an organ donor husband, but he was a Korean War veteran, a father and grandfather of many, and heavily involved with charities and advocacy events.

I gave Mike my biggest and tightest hug that my small frame could manage.   He received and reciprocated my hug, leaning so close down to me that the fabric of his dapper grey suit rubbed against my cheek.  He looked down at me with a bemused expression on his weathered, wrinkled face that had come from such life experiences as the Korean war, his wife who died of a sudden heart attack who he immediately and did not hesitate to donate her tissue and organs, and his failing knees that forced him to lag behind all of us at an organ donor advocacy event that hundreds of New Yorkers united at in Albany, NY.
Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint