Monday, July 23, 2012

The Landing Party

I looked out the window making our approach into Lewiston. The hills were the same dry-brown they were last summer before I left. It figured in my heart that it couldn't have been more than a week since I'd left. Over the Clarkston Heights and I could see the Snake River wading through the middle of the city, and then the Horizon Airlines Bombardier double prop stumbled onto the run way.

Walking from the plane to the one-room airport, I couldn't see through the tinted windows. I expected my parents to be waiting for me, but as I walked through the door I was surprised by my niece who jumped me. Then I heard a loud sound like a swarm of bees –– kazoos. The family had come in full force to welcome me with signs, songs, smiles and hugs.

It made me feel like a conquering hero returning from the field, not because I felt like I'd fought anything in Asia, and I definitely hadn't conquered anything, but I felt accomplished just having such a fun and loving group of people in my family. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012


It's 2:00am and I'm feeling packed enough to write this. Alban, a good friend from college, has been visiting this week, so most of our time has been dedicated to scurrying about the greater Hong Kong metropolitan region, not packing. But there's no more delaying things. We wake up in two hours to get Alban on a bus for his flight to Japan. I leave a few hours after him to catch my flight to Korea where I have a ten day layover on my way home. Five days will be spent in Japan, then five days in Korea.

It's been nice having Alban here this week. It's helped me keep moving, pushing back packing until now. Not moving slow enough to look much at the fact that eleven months have passed since I was packing in a similar way. Eleven months of unsure expectations haunted my last packing, and eleven months of memories haunt this one.

Today was graduation. After the program was finished, there was no mingling or messing around. The gym was packed up within thirty minutes –– people out, chairs stacked, banners down, floor swept.  Because Hong Kong's a busy place, and we all had places to be, and goodbyes aren't easy, and there's still more packing to do. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rice: A Complex Carbohydrate

Rice, you simple grain, 
you gift from God,
you source of life
you fresh white
universal compliment.
Sumptuously dressed whether fried, 
steamed, stirred, mixed, sauced, 
salty, or sweet. The life of the 
party of every plate –– family friend. 
Rice, you basic seed, 
you uninventive pill, 
you bland brown
mushy mass.
Commonly dressed, plain, 
homely, warm, moist. 
The dripping faucet of every 
feed –– house chores. 
Rice, you dirty specks, 
you pale poison, 
you teaming heap 
of maggot larvae. 
Tastelessly dressed in every 
The compost pile on every
dish –– fingernail clippings.  
Rice, you familiar stock, 
you natural fuel, 
you shrewd package of
working food. 
Undressed in the raw, naked, 
bare minimum. The compulsory 
piece of every meal  –– the Dao. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Twenty Somethings

"We didn't need a story
We didn't need a real world
We just had to keep walking, and
We became the stories 
We became the places 
We were the lights, the deserts, the faraway worlds
We were you before you even existed"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

All Creatures Great and Small

Spring is the wet season in Hong Kong. That means if it's not raining when I walk outside then it feels like I'm walking into an exhale––hot and heavy.* It also means lots of new life.

The trees outside are getting greener and occasionally explode into Skittle-colored blossoms, the campus lawn needs a haircut, the birds and cicadas are double forte, and the frogs at night chirp in the drains where it all goes down. The wet season brings all kinds of new life outside, and inside too.

My apartment has its own ecosystem. I've dealt with the ants all year, and by "dealt with" I mean, "lived with."The ants feed off crumbs and bits of detritus and spend most of their time on the floor. They're small, tasteless, harmless and have yet to ruin any food source in my cupboards. I have seen a couple of bigger ants recently though. They're grey gnarly looking suckers, warrior ants. Three or four times the size of the little browns, and much faster. Along with the ants are the lizards. They're small, half the length of a pen and about an inch wide toe to toe. I'm not sure what they eat, but they spend most of their time on canopy of the high walls. Besides the lizards, the most recent visitor brought in by the wet season are cockroaches. The first one I saw was lying on his back in the middle of my living room. I thought he was dead, until I touched him. They're the size of a quarter, squeezed on the sides. For a while, I kept finding one at a time. I'd scoop the quick-witted little scraper into a tupperware and throw him outside into the bushes––catch and release. About the third time, I began suspecting I had a repeat offender on my hands. The next time, I decided to not release him. My plan was to keep him in his plastic prison for a week, putting punitive punishment to the test. Well, he didn't make it. Not even a week. What kind of a cockroach can't live a week? One morning I found him on his back. Maybe he fell over and decided to call it quits. In the meantime, another one of his cohorts showed up in my trash can, so my theory that there was only one didn't hold up.

Of all the creatures great and small living in my apartment, the one I hate the most is mold. Nothing is safe. Clothes, pillows, walls, coats, computer cases, basketballs, and food have all fallen victim to this silent grower. We'll see who gets the last laugh after I recruit a few Chinese chemicals to my side.

* The exhale idea was introduced to me by the History teacher.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Making Of

We started at 7:00 Saturday night. After an hour of trouble shooting, the computer was recording sound through the board. It was full tilt from there. We finished around 4:00 Sunday morning.

The small recording room, is the sound closet at the back of the multi-purpose room in the dorm. It was stuffy, but produced a relatively good sound. We cleared out several boxes of unused Sabbath School quarterlies to make space for our gear.

Eddie, the percussionist, teaches gym and coordinates student activities here at the school.

Jeriel, the ukulele champion, is a graphic designer in Hong Kong; his parents work at the school.

The song is a younger brother of "Hooky Chookie Too." It flows from the watersheds of aggressive discourse and hope. An underlying pulse to the song itself is the belief that, "It's not about revenge, it's about redemption."

The production name, Sow My Low, plays with the sound of the noun in Cantonese: 收買佬 (sau mai lou). It means collector, and refers to men who are something like pawn shop owners in the States, collecting old stuff and selling it. It's also the name of a game known in English as "junk scramble."