Friday, April 3, 2015


Stepping off the plane, I shouldered my carryon bag and quick-stepped down the jet bridge. It was the end of a very, very long day of travel, which had started in a sleepy English village that morning, continued through to the city of Manchester, over the ocean to Chicago O'Hare, and culminated here, over 4,000 miles away in rural Arkansas. One day, a car, a train, and two planes later, I was home. 

XNA interior

My brother ran towards the gate. Rumpled hair standing up in all directions, his backpack bouncing up and down, comfortable shoes skimming across the floor, he ran for all he was worth toward the end of the hall. I imagined the waiting area where our parents would be standing just across the line, craning their necks for a glimpse of us. I'd looked forward to this moment for nine long months.

But for some reason my feet would only movie sluggishly. The white tile floor felt like molasses dragging me down. Coming almost to a full stop, I made myself round the last corner. When I saw my family up ahead, their tear-streaked faces and wild smiles, I could only muster a tired grin.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ice Walk

Finally getting up the courage to walk in the snow, I suit up, leaving behind the comfort of a squashy couch and radiant heat of a warm fire and stepping out into the elements. It’s refreshing, but painful. The cold immediately invades my body, stealing my breath, lancing my eyes, squirming under my hat into my ears, and shocking the tips of my fingers. A gust of wind picks up speed across the field and blows itself at me, hardening the flesh on my face.

Stalwart, unwavering, I put one sluggish foot before another and begin slogging in that monotonous rhythm of crunching and creaking boots on snow. Step after step breaks through the icy crust and compacts the fluffy layers beneath, and it’s the only sound I can hear from under my wooly earflaps. As I pass under trees, the warmth of the sun ebbs and flows, sometimes thawing my face for a moment before another wind hurries to attach icicles to my nose.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

First Crush

We all gathered together, so many cats that our mothers had to herd. Beach towels, twisted goggles, foam noodles slapping each other in the face. They called it a "homeschool field trip," but I'm not sure what we were meant to learn. The doggie paddle, maybe.

Give me a the pool by tom@hk | 湯米tomhk
Give me a the pool, a photo by tom@hk | 湯米tomhk on Flickr.

We all crammed into our huge Suburban, Mom taking the wheel while I scrambled to sit between my two girlfriends. Miranda's hair had some real poof to it back then, and Lily looked 9 instead of 11.

The mothers must have been relieved when we piled out at the swimming pool. After we paid admission, we walked through the gates and my stomach dropped into my pool shoes with glee. There was the slide--the big, swirling, colorful water slide that I'd been watching from the road for years--now only a few yards away from me. I almost plunged into the deep end before Mom could grab me and slap some sunscreen on my freckled nose.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Not Appalled

We see it on billboards and in glossy magazines. A perfume ad, a stranger on the street. Desensitized to human flesh, we walk on regardless. Like muscles wrapped in cellophane on the grocery store shelf, we never think where it comes from.

I am not appalled when I see their bodies flaunted. I am not appalled when I catch sight of a magazine, shoved beneath a bench. I am not appalled when I hear strange noises from the TV down the hall. When I hear about the sick addiction, the clicking monster that grips eyes and minds in its thrall, I am scandalized for the wrong reasons. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Morning I Grew Up

The small things

The morning I grew up was an early riser. 

I felt the nudge on the side of my bed, heard a soft whisper, and knew that Mary had come to wake me. Seven minutes later I was brushing my hair in front if the mirror, studying my own bright eyes, thinking about the day ahead and wondering in a dozen different directions.

Mary left me for a moment, I never knew why, and I went I to the bathroom to brush my teeth. To an eight-year old the room was enormous, a wash of white tile studded with bronze fixtures, the pedestal sink almost unreachable, the mirror taking up half the room and reflecting my pink nightgown back impossibly tiny.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Author's Revenge

Young Girl at a Sidewalk Café
Photo by Luigi Morante
I wait. Sipping the latte, I feel cold foam bubbling over my lips, followed by a scalding wave of coffee. Thinking of an interesting metaphor, I jot something down on my notepad. And wait.

The sidewalk cafe is filled with regulars, just one face missing from the crowd. Maybe "novellover84" was put off by the message on her answering machine and decided to stay indoors today. Still, I sip. And wait.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thoughts after the death of James Foley

Nada News by Pepe Medina

On television, on the Internet, from friends and family, we hear the "news." This "news"a kaleidoscope of sensation, a spectacle of heartbreakleaves us with nothing to do or say.

We turn off the TV and cry just a second for horror, but inevitably subside into helplessness. Everything in us surges and wishes for a half-moment, but we're not Mr. Obama. There is nothing to be done. A single black wave of emotion is all we can afford. A small token to a life cut short, but there it is. We're drained of emotion.

But do we move? Do we actually do something for Pete's sake and crying out loud?

No. We sit back on our heels and cry a second and then scroll down to the next thing. Baby shower, night on the town, reminiscence, old friends, photo, photo-with-cool-filter, lunch out, diamond ring, death in the family, #beautiful, global warming, the Hindenburg...all tangled and blurred into a newsfeed of life and love and pain and evanescent pleasure passes in front of our eyes in five-second soundbites. Witness our Facebook-trawling-Twitter-scrawling-Pinterest-stalling-YouTube-squalling generation as it tries with its Sesame Street attention span to comprehend worldwide devastation and the kind of grief that ends its own life.