Point A to Point B

I was Facebook stalking myself in nostalgia the other day and came across some old photos of my now non-existent ’98 Camry.  I’ve always told people that I hated driving and I don’t recall ever bragging about my car or anything, but in retrospect, I really liked that car.

2005: when permits were cool

It’s really been through a lot with me.  To be honest, I’m kind of shocked I never gave my car a name n____n  I remember buying that brand new car when my baby sister was about to be born.  The exhaustingly long and painful move from Wellsville, NY to Illinois.  The first time my dad took me for a driving lesson (in the parking lot of Calvary Church).  The long drives I had to and from worship team practice/ youth group where I’d refuse rides to anyone else and enjoy the me-and-God time. The hours I would spend in empty parking lots, crying, because I didn’t know where else to go.  The unlawful numbers of people we’d cram into that car for random excursions.  I grew a lot in that car.  Not only in the “useless -> permit -> license” way, but definitely lots of emotional, relational, and spiritual growth too.

I’ve had a lot of good talks in that car.  There’s something about being stuck in a small space with another person that gets conversations going.  Even with my father.  Frankly, it has always been hard for me to open up or hold real conversations with my father, but it somehow seemed to always work in that car.  Maybe it was the fact that we knew no matter how uncomfortable or awkward a conversation might potentially be, it would stop naturally once we reach our destination.  Or maybe the sights along the road were inspirational and allowed for good questions to be asked.  Either way, those were definitely good times.

For some reason, I always felt like my car was such a safe space where I could be honest with myself.  No matter how skewed my thoughts were or how inaccurate I saw myself and the world, things always seemed to clear up a little behind that wheel.  For that reason, a lot of praying and repenting happened in my car over the years.  A lot of reconciliation.  A lot of affirmation.  A lot of praise.

And of course, my baby Camry’s been with me through a lot of adventures–especially the legally questionable ones.  Like when I drove on the left side of the street late at night to see what it’d be like to be Japanese.  When I left the moon roof open in the rain.  When I decided to floor the gas pedal in curiosity.  When I drove–and got lost–on the highway for the first time without parental permission.  When I drove just to drive–with no destination in mind.  I’ll miss those days when even gas prices could not prevent our fun.

Maybe I’m being silly in thinking that those type of memories could never be concocted in another vehicle.  I guess it’s just sad to think that whatever car we decide to purchase may never be “my baby” the way my Camry was.  In my head, it’ll just be a placeholder vehicle to get me from A to B until I can afford my dream car and pass it along to Eva when she starts learning to drive–which is so soon O.O All I can really do is hope that as it accompanies my sister through her coming of age, it may help her grow and see growth as my baby did with me.

n____n

I started being able to take normal showers like a normal person not long ago (since I’m able to crawl up the stairs now lol) and words cannot express how grateful I am for that.  I feel like my soreness/ tiredness/ boredom/ everything else is the perfect excuse to take showers long enough to drain the majority of the hot water in the house.  Unlike the super old tub that’s in my bathroom, my parents have this nice walk in shower in their master bath.  So again, using my gimpy leg as an excuse, I’ve been using their bathroom/shower.

This also gives me the opportunity to gain access to my mother’s presumably more expensive facial creams and other products.  Until I realized she uses the some of the same anti-aging products as me… So that either makes me old, paranoid, or extremely smart in taking steps to prevent whatever wrinkling may one day surface.

And though my father will never understand this extent of skin care, my mother would be the last person to shoot judgement–though some of you just may do so–when I do seemingly ridiculous or excessive things  such as wearing SPF 110 facial sunblock in the summer.  Even at my craziest, the most I get from my mother is a side-eye with a sharp exhale or “aiya~” before she moves on.  While I suffered through the multiple abrasions on my face from the accident, my mother even took the liberty to prepare a plethora of Chinese herbal remedies that are supposedly amazing for skin.

They say that a mother’s wrinkles are the most beautiful things in the world.  Looking at my mother, it seems that even all the products and herbs couldn’t save her from all stress–presumably from my sister and me–piling up in her life.  Perhaps her humoring me in my skincare regime is merely her way of wishing away stresses in my life.  But even if I were to be successful in maintaining soft, milky skin, there is one type of wrinkle I hope to develop: crow’s feet.  Every time they appear on my mother’s face, it serves as the best reminder of how despite all the crap I dragged my mother through, she has been able to endure and conquer it all with a smile.

I guess that’s why young pictures of my mother remind me of Lee Hyori.  Her eye smiles, then and now, may just be the thing that makes her most beautiful :)

too fast to live

Yesterday, I went for a walk around the block for the first time in… who knows how long.  I used to jog around my subdivision a lot, just to people watch and judge houses/lawns/cars and stuff– I actually don’t know any of my neighbors too well.  But sadly, it was the first time I had seen sunshine in a month– the other days I manged to escape the house in my wheelchair were all rainy :(  So now that I finally gained some mobility back, I grabbed the sunny, breezy day by the horns and made my sister accompany me for a walk (despite all her protest).

folded up and tucked away where it belongs

Even though the crutch gave me this weird swagger walk, the feeling of wind blowing into my face totally brought me back to my grade school, junior high days. Back then, biking was by far my favorite mode of transportation. If you were cool like yours truly, you know helmets were out of the question. The only way to bike was fast.  So fast that the wind would always push your hair out of your face and wave behind you ever so picturesquely (or at least i assumed it looked perfect). I remember once in 4th grade, I was so excited about the wind-hair effect that I pedaled full speed downhill, completely blinded to the fact that the road stops at the bottom of the hill at a T intersection. I had been watching a lot of car racing shows so I decided that I could drift like that on my bike. I ended up going home with one of the biggest bruises in my life, only second next to the one I got two summers ago when I decided it was safer to stand up in a canoe in order to avoid getting canoe tipped. In both cases, I couldn’t wear shorts for a month.

I guess it’s always been more or less in my nature to be hasty and fidgety and somewhat anxious to the point of making some rash decisions when I get seriously frustrated or excited or frightened.  For the record, I really do believe that all my impatience has helped me recover faster.   But please stop me if I start talking about going bowling or power shopping or something… and remind me to run full speed at something that’ll probably be better for me.  Like looking for a job.  Or God.  Yeah, that’d be good :)

I wanna be the very best

Ever since my first week on campus as a student in U of I’s civil and environmental engineering program, I’ve had a few things drilled into my head.

1. You are at a top class school.  This curriculum has been ranked number one or two for the past 30 years.  Even if you get B’s here, you’re better off than most people.
2. When you graduate from this program, your degree will be immediately recognized and highly valued by everyone– your employers, peers, distant relatives, everyone.
3. You are basically the best ever.  Look around and feel the awesome.

It’s been a few months since I’ve graduated now.  I remember sitting through my last few lectures, the same items were repeated to me once again.  And of course, again at commencement.  I always found such hope and pride in these statements but somehow, that evolved into some nasty mix of cockiness and confusion.

As I’m slowly getting over the fact that my life literally could have been over and stopped trying to think about the past and bask in my own self pity (lol i sound pathetic), I’m slowly learning to look forward again.  Part of it may be simply because I’m completely caught up on any and all TV shows that I want to watch and researching various entertainers is only entertaining for so long.  So it’s back to job hunting for me.  It’s a little tough just knowing that if I get called in for an interview in say, two weeks, I may not even physically be able to go.  But that’s not the main issue.  After all these months of soul searching and praying and whatnot, I still don’t know where to start and in which direction I should go in this search.  A highway job for the government?  Working with urban rail transit?  Construction in Chicago?  Or even PR in China?

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Churchified

I’ve been up since 6am today.  This probably shouldn’t be that large an issue (especially since my 13 year old sister gets up at this hour four times a week) but considering my condition and my new habit of sleeping til lunch, this was quite an achievement.  My parents were taking my grandmother to the airport this morning for her return to Hangzhou after spending the past year with us so after a few teary goodbyes, I was left alone in my wheelchair in the house.  I tried to go back to sleep but my body refused.  Embarrassingly, it took me a while before I remembered that for the past seven months, I had been getting up at 6am to pray for my small group.  So I thought, since I was up, that I’d connect to that spiritual VPN and pray with the other leaders who are on campus.

That was probably the longest 30 minutes I’ve felt in a while.

Which is totally crazy!  I could probably stare at a wall for 30 minutes if I let myself daydream.  And this is small group we’re talking about!  I mean, we’ve always had so many things to pray for on Monday mornings.  And that on top of everything else I should be praying for, it could easily occupy hours and hours.  It’s ridiculous to think that back on campus, waking up early to pray or praying all morning was something I did every week.  Yet the short week and a half that I’ve been at home moping around seemed to be all it takes to undo those habits.

I’ve always been a stickler about personalizing faith and knowing the difference between loving the Church and being consumed by the church.  To me, it is so so important to know the difference between Biblical standards and church culture.  To be able to share what you believe without flipping through sermon notes.  To see serving as more than a list of obligatory meetings and tasks.  Yet one thing I often overlook is how I’ve let the church define my prayer life.  I’m so thankful that every church I’ve ever attended has emphasized prayer very heavily.  Especially my campus church.  With prayer meetings every day and prayer all-nighters every semester, I seem to have let the church schedule define my prayer life.  Though I’ve been praying a lot in those times and places where I have to pray at those prayer meetings, I’ve been neglecting our call to be faithful in prayer in the quiet, private places.

So though I may have “succeeded” in not allowing myself to solely be spoon-fed spiritual teaching during church sermons, I’ve unknowingly allowed the church to wait at my hand and foot when it comes to spiritual discipline.  Or lack thereof.  I really need to take better advantage of all this “me” time I now have.  Except I’m crazy sleepy now.  And crazy sore since I stopped taking pain meds a while ago.  Maybe I should just nap until lunch…

Is this real life?

About a week ago, I was involved in a relatively major motor vehicle accident.

my poor bb in the junkyard

More accurately, I suppose I was more the victim, but that hardly seems important now.  Before I get into anything, please let me stress that I have very few sustaining injuries.  I was discharged from the hospital in hours after they popped my dislocated shoulder back in and confirmed that I can get in and out of a wheelchair just fine.  Now, I’m just waiting for two minor fractures (and a ton of tiny scabs/cuts all over my body) to fix themselves.  All in all, I’m doing fine.  Just really sore and in desperate need of a proper shower.

Here’s an account of what happened in my best recollection:

Wednesday 30 March
12:27pm-  I had forgotten to pack a lunch to bring to my part time temporary job so I decided to drive around the corner to Subway next to the gas station.  I actually thought about walking, but it’s not a very pedestrian friendly area.  Plus, I’m uber lazy.
12:47pm- crap.  i shouldn’t have gotten a foot long sub.  definitely shouldn’t have started eating the 2nd half.
12:52pm- I know it’s only a two minute drive but I put some glasses on to look super fly.  And even though it’s really warm, I kept my super cute new hot pink wool coat on :)  Since I turned the wrong way out of the gas station, I’m basically going back the way I came on the one lane per side, no turn lane street.  Really regretting eating the whole sub at this point.
12:54pm- I started signaling for a left turn and slowing down.  I’ve always hated turning like this because it always pisses me off when I have to stop in the middle of the street to wait for some fool to turn left.  The fact that traffic will be still this time because of me drives me crazy.  Good thing I just have to wait for one semi to pass before I can turn though.  I look in the rearview to see how many cars I will be inconveniencing and notice that van is going kind of fast… maybe i should just gun it so that soccer mom doesn’t hit me.  but what if i can’t make it before that semi.  hmm maybe i’ll keep going straight and pull a u-turn later. My steering wheel was already prepped for a left turn at this point so I check the mirror again… oooh shi-
12:55pm- Both airbags deployed.  Windshield shattered.  my face hurts… You know how you can’t sit straight when you’re really dizzy?  I kept falling over to my right but it hurt to lean that way so I just closed my eyes in bitterness that you can actually feel pain in dreams.
1:something-  If it weren’t for all those episodes of ER I watched as a kid (swoooon George Clooney), I would never have recognized it as the inside of an ambulance.  Some guy was tugging at my arm and cutting my freaking adorable coat off my body.  Another was all up in my face with his unkempt facial hair asking me all these stupid questions like, what’s your name? when’s your birthday? what day of the week is it?  I answered the first two quickly with no problem but in a moment of panic, I told the beardy man that it was Tuesday when I KNEW that it’s Wednesday.  My brain was moving at 2603734 mph but somehow I just couldn’t correct my answer.  I didn’t actually believe any of this was real life so I went through the script for every ambulance scene I’ve ever seen on TV as if i were a Hollywood star– groan, where am i?  what happened?  groan… is anyone else hurt?– except real life emergency medical help people are no where as good looking as the ones on TV.

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i need inspiration.

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