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The "Wu Word" Blog

July 2015

Simple Pleasures

My “Live List” was born over three years ago just before my hip replacement surgery.  I never really focused on fulfilling each item because I was so wrapped up in the recovery of my hip replacement surgery and then my hysterectomy procedure about a year ago.   
One of the #1 items on the list was “Go to a Drive-In Theatre.” 
I’m not sure why I had such a fascination with the drive-in theatre. I think it had to do with being and feeling so tiny in a wide open chunkof land with cars of families or couples huddled together in closeness underneath the unending and unexplainable universe. I imagined the big screen hanging right above me and, yet, right beneaththe starry skies.  In my mind, I saw pick-up trucks, tiny children with ping pong-sized glimmering eyes of excitement, and cozy and close-knit couples while the movie images ran through.  Was what I imagined in my mind about to become a reality when I actually went to a drive-in theatre?
Well, I found out this weekend when I finally made it to the drive-in theatre—all thanks to a college friend who I have now known for over ten years.  The sun-filled day that swept heat and hot on my friend, her family, and me did not deter us from a day of simple pleasures that started with cheering on the colorful dragon boats racing in the shores of the Hudson River under the  bright and blinding sun and ended underneath a velveteen sky at the drive-in theatre.
In between the start and the finish that both involved the skies above us, we went back in time to discover old contraptions of phone booths and apple, gum, and weight scale dispensers.  My eyes widened in sheer curiosity and joy as I clamored in shock, “Really?  There were machines that dispensed applesback then?”
My friend said to me,“Well, there were milk machines that dispensed milk back in my day.”
“Really?  That is so cool! ”  I exclaimed.
Don’t ask me why these oldies, yet goodies, get me so hyped up with such exuberance!
Sometime during my friend driving, she expressed to me that she had thought about going to a difference college than the one we had went to.  Without thinking, I said, “But, if you had gone to a different college or if both of us had done that then we never would have met and we probably wouldn’t be here right now.”
“That’s very true,”she confirmed. 
My friend and I chatted and caught up as Mother Nature bragged all her glories of gardens of red and yellow flowers, perfectly peaceful ponds, and fluttering butterflies flittingaround us.  We had dinner at a 1950’s diner where there was an old jukebox and massive coffee cup replica to greet us.  About an hour before the drive-in theatre, my friend, her family, and I packed cold beer, plastic cups, ice cubes, and potato chips.  I had made a whole container of homemade popcorn using ghee, sunflower seed oil, and generous sprinkles of pink sea salt and parmesan cheese. 
“I’m getting giddy!”I shrieked as my friend drove into the drive-in theatre for us to park and find a spot. 
The oranges, yellows,and reds of the sun began to fade into the horizon by a velvet blue black sky.  My surroundings darkened with only the dotted stars twinkling and the massive movie screen with yellowed and plump Minions prancing around.  In the stillness and silence of the darkness, I was filled with such living lights and wonder at the wide-eyed innocence of children tuckered in the open trunks of their parents’ cars as they stared at the screen with hands plunged into papery bags of crunchy popcorn, the sounds of giggles and laughter all around me, loved ones cozy andclose together in their cars or on lawn chairs to the gentle and cool intoxicating breeze, and land so vast and endless as the starry skies above us.  There is nothing so beautiful to live in thelove that is all around in these simple pleasures from people who love each other the most. 
My drive-in theatre experience had exceeded any images I ever conjured up in my mind.  But, this was NOT really just about a drive-in theatre.  This was about the little things that mean the most with people we love.  This was and, essentially, is about all the simple pleasures that had occurred and was felt within the very depths of me both on the night before the drive-in theatre experience with another round of my dear friends where we slurped up Ramen noodles and cooled down with Italian ices out on the sidewalks in the crisp summer air to everything that happened with my friend and her family in the entire dayand the time I spent with them. 
All these simple pleasures went beyond the scope of my “Live List.”  A list is only a guide, but it is up to me to livewhat I make happen with the added joys of WHO I am with.  If my friend and I had not gone to the same college, we never would have met and lived and experienced everything with dragon boat races to the drive-in theater. Same thing with my other round of friends that I chattered the night away with on the sidewalks while eating Italian ices; I met them through our connection of kidneys.  If I had never had kidney bean issues, my paths would have never crossed with them to having amost magical summer night memory. 
So, what is living?  At this point in my life, living is being inthe simple pleasures that are fleeting, flying, and forever taken forgranted.  At this point in my life, living is freeing myself of complications, chaos, and drama of toxic people who hold me back. At this point in my life, living is the stillness and sweetnessof the serene.  What is ‘living’ to you?  Who is in your circle of making living a true reality? 
When I look at my live list now and am more determined than ever to make each item a reality, I find that I end up tilting my head to look up to the limitless skies with two deep cravings:
  • All I want are all my senses affected in my living and to not get lost in the guidelines and deadlines of a list but live fully and wholeheartedly in the lifelines
  • All I want is to live to the point that I feel like I am getting closer to what the heavens gave to us on this earth
What are your simple pleasures?  Have you ever thought about the people in your life and how your lives came to intertwine?  How would your life be with or without this person, and how would this have affected you living?  
Keep smilin’ until wemeet again,
Mary :-)

"Songs Without Sounds"/ "Kismet"

Songs Without Sounds
Just about all day long, there are words bouncing around and playing over and over in my like songs without sounds in my mind until I write them out.  
I’m not a musician by any means.  Interestingly and perhaps ironically enough, nearly all my closest and dearest friends are gifted and talented musicians that make sounds come alive in people’s lives.  

I’ve always been on the sidelines and the outsider as the silent and soulful writer that found therapy and friendship in words.  I’ve always loved poetry and am sure that I would have pursued a song lyricist career if I did not end up in healthcare.  I would love it if any of my musician friends could take my words and make them into songs, but, for now, these are just songs without sounds.
There are some words that I just love the taste of on my tongue:
Dollop, Discombobulate, Oxymoron, Onomatopoeia, Serendipity, Sultry, Beautiful, Bedazzle...just to name a few. 

My latest word love is “Kismet,” or having to do with fate, serendipity, and what I always say “meant to be” or “not meant to be.”  These are few of the words that were rolling around in my head revolved around “Kismet.” 
We have met before in cylindrical spaces
In another time and place
Warm embrace
Beautiful face
It was kismet
Among all misfits
There was a connect
In a world of disconnect
Past lives intertwine
So bright, I go blind
Blinking in my mind
No concept of time
It was Kismet
Among all misfits
There was a connect
In a world of disconnect
It is all so easy
I can now see so clearly
Right in front of me
We were meant to be


Sunshine Pie

It was a long car ride back.  Long, to me, at least.  At least 60 miles back in the darkest of nights. 
My, oh my, it was a beautiful night.  The sky was a milky midnight, or darkest of dark, with tiny pinpricks of stars.  The air was delicious and delirious to inhale with eyes closed and exhale with eyes wide open.  The swollen moon was missing in the vast open sky, but I was holding on to hope that maybe I could sight and swallow even a sliver and slice of it to fill me with even more joy of such a gorgeous night that could only be created by the heavens above. 
My friend’s friend who had kindly offered to drive me back late at night and I were aimlessly chatting while classical music played in the background.  I was half asleep and in a hazy daze at the serenity of my surroundings.  My ears perked up when he said something about being like both of his parents.  “The best of both worlds,” as he put it, or as I labeled it. 
I said firmly, “I hope and want to be like my dad.  I never want to be like my mother.” 
He was wordless.  Then, he asked slowly and carefully that was a change of subject, yet staying on subject, “What is your earliest memory?” 
For one out of the few times in my life, I did not speak. I was always in a cloud of confusion when it came to my memories, dreams, and reality.  Particularly when it came to my childhood and family.  Especially when it came to my mother. 
Anyone who knows me even a layer beneath my surface knows that I have an estranged relationship (if you can call it that) with my biological mother.  I can blab on and on about my father in the best of ways, and I count my blessings that I was blessed with at least one strong role model to guide me in this meandering and extraordinary journey of life filled with endless experiences.  My lips and mouth have always been quite zipped about my mother.  In fact, many people are often surprised and express conviction that my quietness about mother was maybe equivalent to my mother passing away. 
When I do speak of her, I speak based on the memories, dreams, and reality that were bad, unpleasant, and even scary.  But, don’t we all do that—speak about others based on our experiences of memories, dreams, and reality?  When I think of my mother now, I realize that not all was bad, but that everything not being bad makes it hurt all the more to what could have been and what it simply is not. 
There have been happy, sweet, and tender moments of and with my mother.  Like with “Lemon Meringue Pie,” or sunshine pie, as I like to call it now.  When I close my eyes tight enough, I can taste the tang of the lemon zest on my tongue, the bite of the crisp and buttery crust, and the pillowed softness of meringue covering my mouth like a warm and cottony blanket.  The brightest image of all is my mother.  I can see her with her thick cascade of black hair in a low ponytail and a floured and spotted apron protecting her soft and curved body.  Her small strong hands are on an electric mixer and hovered over a glass bowl containing soft peaks of sugary meringue.  She turns around to me and her mouth widens into a sweet smile.  As quick as her smile appears, this image of her disappears. 
I had always been in love with lemons and lemon meringue pie.  I am not sure if it has to do with this memory, dream, or reality of my mother.  Now, when I remember lemon meringue pie and the tang and tart from the lemons that tantalize my tongue and the sugary meringue that melts in my mouth, I feel that instant surge of happiness then replaced with sadness because my mother comes into my mind and I’m not sure if this image I have of her making lemon meringue pie was a reality, dream, or a memory. I try to conjure up more good images and times of my mother, but the floodgates of bad memories revolved around my mother are released and sadness and anger mix and mingle like fire and flames. 
How can a happy memory actually inflict feelings of such profound pain, sadness, and even anger? 
It becomes clear to me.  Good memories of those we lost or no longer in our lives actually make our insides ache and hurt more than the bad memories because the good memories contain yearnings, cravings, and longings to what was before and will no longer be.   It is easier to remember and hold on to the bad memories of these lost people in our lives to alleviate the profound pain and engulfing void when a person we entrusted, shared with, and loved is no longer there.  Bottom line, the easiest and hardest act is to let go.
Although lemon meringue pie and my mother are somehow connected in my psyche, I am seeing now that a simple 9-inch sunshine pie is somewhat synonymous to the memories of those who have left us—whether it be intended, or, most usually, unintended.  Memories created with and of all people possess and bring along the tastes of tart and sour of the lemons, bitter from the lemon rind, sweetness of the sugar, creamy from the filling, softness from the meringue, and crispness from the pie crust.  All people radiate ‘sunshine’ into our lives whether it is for a little while or a longer while.   Although it is so much easier to feel and wallow in pain, despair, and anger of a person no longer there from the bad memories rather than the good memories, easier is not better—nor does it enhance our lives.  The ‘sunshine’ radiated from the people who hurt us the most are also the ones who love us the most.  You know love when it encapsulates and captures all emotions and flavors that need to be felt and savored. 
I could not fully answer my friend’s question in the car.  I had 60 miles on a long car ride back to try to remember and decipher my memories, dreams, and realities.  I had 33 years behind me and have an unknown number of years ahead of me to try to answer this question.  All I can finally come up with and say now is that my earliest memories actually revolved around my mother and family and, although the images are incredibly foggy, the plenthora of emotions and the sunshine all of them brought to my life in the beginning and even now is beyond measure and describable words. 
What about you?  Do you ever confuse your memories, dreams, and realities of people, and especially of the people who are no longer in your lives?   Who is no longer in your life that has brought and left sunshine?  Who is in your creation of ‘sunshine pie’? 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary :-) 

My Live List

I’ve always been a big fan and lover of positive, inspirational, and empowering quotes that particularly revolve around life and living to the fullest.  Words have always been my very best and truest of friends that have carried me throughout my life to appreciate and take value the highest and lowest points that I live to share and tell about.

Throughout my 33 years of living, I’ve read and heard many quotes about life (forgive me for modifying these so they end up sounding more like my “Wu-Isms”):
·         “There is birth.  There is death.  Everything that matters  that holds the greatest meaning and in is in between is life.”
·         “Live life like it is your last time.” 
·         “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” 
The list of life quotes can go on and on.  However, I came to the realization that quotes about death are non-existent when, let’s be honest and pardon the pun, death is very much alive and a part of life.
Life quotes speak against death and to fight off death or try to hide it as though it is a contagious disease or the plague.  My understanding is that where there is life, there is death—and vice versa.  Life and death are nothing to be scared of because they are partners together, but I have seen firsthand how petrified people are of both when they claim to only be scared of death.  

I think many people are not aware that they are actually scared of life.  So much holds people back from living their lives as they fully desire, imagine, and dream.    So, perhaps, people are actually more afraid of life than death?  Just because people are living physically does not mean that they are alive or really living.  Only when people are faced with death and what seems like an ending that they will begin their beginning of life and truly living.    
Far too many times, I have been the observer to people’s tears, anguish, regrets, and remorse to the true value of someone when this someone is dead.  It saddens me that it takes death to finally understand the preciousness of a person and the life they have lived.  Hence, this is why I truly cherish every single person who has brought their own magic and “special-ness” into my life journey, whether it is for a little while or a longer while.  Most of all, I have made as much efforts as I possibly could to be a person of worth, depth, character, and kindness while I am walking on this earth only temporarily.  I never want to be the kind of person that people valued me only in death.  I want to be the kind of person people value me in life. 
All of these observations and my interpretations that I want to be the kind of person who makes the big dreams I dream and all the imaginations I imagined a reality have led me to create what I coined, “The Live List.” 
When people hear of my “Double L” (aka: Live List), their immediate reaction is: “Oh, your bucket list?” 
I cringe, wince, and immediately explain:  “No, not a bucket list.  A bucket list is created out of fear of death rather than the acceptance of death.  My ‘Live List’ are the things I am going to do to live—to really and truly live, to enjoy and savor every single beautiful and breathing day.  Yes, the list does have an understanding that we are all going to die something, but it is not about death.  It is a list all about life.” 
Here is my “Live List” thus far:
Mary Wu’s Live List

·         Hot Air Balloon Ride
·         Sail on a boat
·         Drive-In Theatre
·         See a sky full of bright stars so close that I feel like I could touch them (Planetarium)
·         See an opera
·         Treat Dad and TC to Alaska
·         Learn to Ride a Bike
·         Hold sparklers
·         Open Mic Night- Do a Reading of my Poem(s) to strangers
·         Travel the World/Meet all my penpals
·         Fall in “romantic” love/Experience Love
·         Make sure my Dad, TC, and Amy are taken care of
·         Move/work outside of New York State where no one knows me
I intend to complete at least one live list item per year, but I know this is something I cannot do alone.  Would anyone care to help me accomplish any of my live list items?
And, how about you?  Can you reflect and contemplate deeply as to if you are REALLY living your life and doing everything that you really desire?  Are you more scared of life than death?  

What are your “Live List” items?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary :-) 


Breathing Underwater

The first time I heard about the power of water and the kidneys was from my scientist father.  “Mary, the Chinese say that the most powerful substance is water.  It is the only substance that can transform under hot and cold conditions: solidify, melt, and have the power to save and keep life as well as kill life.  The Chinese also say that the kidneys are the most powerful organs in the body because it is the only organ that we have two of to give the gift of one bean to another—even a complete stranger.  The kidneys are almighty powerful because they connect with all the other organs and the entire body to balance it out.”
So, it seemed meant to be and really no surprise at all that I was forever pulled by the water and born with kidney issues.  For as long as I could remember, my life revolved around my kidney beans and I was lured by the swimming pools, oceans, and lakes that glittered and sparkled under the sunshine.  The problem was that I could not swim, or more specifically, kick my weak legs that were ridden with joint and arthritic issues.  I would literally sink and my legs would collapse under me whenever I tried to lift them in a position to swim a lap.  The most I could do in a swimming pool was step into the refreshing water or dip my toes and feet.  It was quite sad how weak my body from my ailed kidney beans. 
The first time I learned about the frightening power of the water was when I nearly drowned twice in my then-“friends” backyard swimming pools.  The most I could do was dip my feet into the cool water only to be physically yanked into the swimming pool prior to taunts of, “Mary, you are being a baby.  You can swim.  Just come in.  The water feels so good.” 
Before I could speak, I was in the water panicking and trying to kick and flailing my arms only to be enveloped by the water until I was sure that I was going to drown to my death.  In both times of nearly drowning, I had to be pulled out, breathless and feeling so vulnerable that I was full of fury more at me than at the water.  Anger then turned to fear.  There was no way that I would ever swim, although I was forever hypnotized and craved desperately to learn to swim.  I was more certain of this than ever when my first kidney transplant began to fail.  It is now that I look back that I feel goose bumps at the coincidence (but there are no such things as coincidence in life) that my first kidney transplant and any possibility of swimming and bonding with water that both represented power were failing by the time I was 11-years-old. 
Many are unaware that it wasn’t until after my second kidney transplant that I slowly overcame my fear of swimming and gained an utmost love and even passion for it.  It took the patience and showcase of fun of the water from my older sister and a dear friend of mine who brought me to her summertime swimming pool to discover that water and swimming were nothing to be scared of.  It took the strength of my physical body after two pre-owned kidney beans transplanted and mentality that I could do anything I wanted to if I really wanted it enough.  What began as years of a fear and literally being sick with chronic kidney issues and what felt like weakness to the power of water made me slowly fearless and strong just like the power of water. 
Upon learning the basics of swimming, I was only been able crawl or freestyle, but then I slowly learned the breast stroke and most recently the backstroke.  Now, I can hear the sounds of my breath and the swish of the water when I am in the swimming pool to swim or test my lung capacity as to how long I can breathe and stay underwater until I am breathless and can feel my heart pounding in my ears.  In these moments, the world around me is completely quiet and I am fully in-tune with and to the power of my own body, spirit, and of life.  But, perhaps, the greatest understanding that water and swimming has brought to me is how we all have the ability and utmost stamina to keep breathing and to keep on going “underwater” when we feel like we are drowning and cannot carry on or go forward in life.   Life keeps going on.  And, so, we must keep on going on in spite of everything and anything that seems to come our way to stop us will only start us
I do not know if I ever learned the “right” way to swim.  I just know for sure that what my father said and what I have experienced so far with water and my kidneys rings true that they are, indeed, the most powerful of the human spirit, body, and life.  My mentality has always been to keep my head above water and swim and just not sink as I did when I was a child on multiple occasions.   This mentality has followed me throughout life and living and especially now as I get older with an understanding and an attempted execution of living that there are no such things as perfect or excelling, “right” or “wrong,” but there is only a personal “my own way.”   I have also somewhat gained a new mentality to keep on breathing with the flows of the waters of life alongside keeping my head above water. 
Always keep on going as life keeps on going.  Always keep on breathing underwater when times in life get rough even when you feel like you are drowning and cannot breathe.  You would be surprised and bask in how powerful you really are in the face of only what appears to make you feel weak—just like water.
Keep smilin’,

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