An attempt to back walkover

Everyday I find myself wresting and writhing in effort, bent over backwards in a bridge position on a prickly grass lawn, willing myself to focus my scrunching eyes upon the upside-down horizon, WILLING myself to consent to the crush in my lower back, the furnace in my forearms, the violence being done to my wrists. I am trying to do a back walkover. A back walkover is a rather basic move in gymnastics—but for me, it is nearly Mission Impossible. In order to succeed, I must move from this agonizing back bent bridge position… into an upright, standing position by kicking my legs up and over my head, holding myself up only by my two ruefully under-equipped arms…

…all whilst not falling onto my head….

Backbend
“…wresting and writhing in effort, bent over backwards in a bridge position on a prickly grass lawn, willing myself to focus my scrunching eyes upon the upside-down horizon…”

—I breathe out; I breathe in—then in an eruption I EXHALE!—Grunting like a karate master roars before slamming a fist of fury down upon a tower of bricks, I KICK OFF! I kick my right leg up, and with my left, I plow, as hard as I can, I plow down into the earth for lift off! I believe I can. I KNOW I CAN!

“YAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!” My legs are suspended as if by magic straight up, just floating above me! I strain my neck back, further back, trying to tilt the weight enough to push my legs to continue their arc over my head, back down to the ground… the little muscles all down the front of my torso, yanking, pulling, heaving ho! ALMOSSSSST….! I’m so very close!

“BAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!” All strength flees my arms; with this third and final scream, they slump! Head-first I ram into the dirt! “OW!” My legs come plunging after my crumpled body, back down, back to where they’d started. I am sprawled, limbs everywhere, and bent, in slight shock—but I laugh.

I am so, so close to making it!

My young friend Sean kneels down, shrieking in delight. He proclaims that I should succeed in no time!—but he takes a moment to examine my head.

It’s fine. Do it AGAIN! He cheers!

Uh, yes…. Yes…! I shall try again!

 

 

05 July 2017 / Dauin, Negros Island, Philippines

… then I eat about three more.

fresh sea urchin meat

At his instruction and encouragement, I pinch the rough and shiny spines of a large, black sea urchin with two nervous fingers, pulling the squirming creature from its rock, gasping at my own audacity. I wade back into the hidden little cave, just five barefoot steps from this village of sea urchins, and I proceed to scratch out the pebbly orange meat inside, slimy little morsels, with my finger—my friend showed me how. But I notice the spines and shards of shell of its poor cousins strewn all about me on the rocks and the sand, as I scoop its salty squishy fresh flesh into my mouth…
I feel somehow sheepish and apologetic to these spindly carcasses when I exclaim aloud how delicious is its meat…

…then I eat about three more.

 

I wonder if it is offensive that I tried to use one of their stouter spines as a utensil to eat their own innards….

 

 

sea urchin shell

 

 

 

originally written : 06 January 2017 / Mirissa, Sri Lanka

manufacturing hope in status updates

a hopeful visualization of the future as a facebook profile

Three years ago, in my darkest months of 2013, in order to manufacture for myself some small light of hope, some small relief from the reality of my depression and the depression of my reality, I set up a Facebook account and profile for my imagined future self, living and posting in circa 2016.

 

I added to this page my dreams and my wishes in bits and bytes, in the form of photo posts and status updates, a visualization of the future I dared to want, built with Facebook and Google images, designed with ambition and hope.

 

And here we are now.

 

Now as I write this, falling into the latter half of this final day of 2016, I am lying on cotton cushions shaded from the high Sri Lankan sun, pondering adjectives and memories; I am trying at every sunrise to learn my turns on the glassy blue-green waves of the Indian Ocean. I have one dozen sentences in Sinhala to speak with locals as I swat at the flies competing for my food; I have a book in Russian on my bed to attempt and often fail to read at night. I sleep next to a red suitcase of scented mosquito repellent, sunscreen and hair oils, two bikinis and two rashguards, some books in languages I can not yet read, a set of tightly rolled black hand wraps for muay thai, a pair of decrepit, mismatched dancing shoes, their battered heels still with some glitter, along with the roll of duck tape I use to fasten them onto my feet, and, of course, some various means of recording my intentions, my reflections: two withering spiral notebooks, a leather journal, one MacBook Air.

I have a one-way ticket to fly, at last, to Kuala Lumpur.

And I am, after all, writing a blog.

call from the sea

sea in Weligama, Sri Lanka

On a one-month journey in Sri Lanka

I thought I was to explore an ancient nation….

 

It turns out

that I am here

to investigate, at last,

an inexplicable, lifelong pull

from the night sea that sang to me

in unknown memories, and in my earliest dreams,

calling me farther and farther onto its moonlit waters

with the wistful melody of a wooden pipe rising up in the zephyrs

to voyage forth into that world somewhere beyond the evening horizon…

 

 

where I belong.

do not be afraid

 

It’s going to be okay… in the end.

No matter what happens, we can find a way to light
No matter how dark it gets, we can find a way
to learn from the past, to make it count.

In the end, it will have been an agent for progress…
because we first need the shit from the vast, middle abyss
to crawl out into plain view—festered, inflamed, Repugnant,
in order to diagnose, treat, and eradicate…

If we succeed, we might look back upon this time,
and see it as the turning point whence real change began, 
whence began reassessing, fixing, healing.

But if instead we burn in flames of red…
well… … todo tiene su final . . .    .

 

 

09 noviembre 2016, martes

My mother called me late at night

Late at night, my mother called me…..

I do not have a close relationship with her. I barely communicate with her.
I only speak with her perhaps three or four times a months over the phone…….
or in short, pithy emails.

My mom and I used to fight a lot when I was in Korea.
She is a strongly traditional, authoritarian Korean mother.
I am rebellious and head-strong.

I worked to make my own money ever since the 8th grade,
…in a country where 30-something-year-olds still live their parents…
to maintain my independence and justify my distance.

But now that I am studying in America,
it is my mother and my father who are paying for my education at USC.
I was only able to earn a half-tuition scholarship…
and my parents are constantly struggling to pay the rest for me…….

I am humbled, but frustrated because I am now dependent on my parents…
I am grateful, but scared because sometimes my funds run so low…
I am ashamed and sorry because I know I have become a huge burden on my whole family…
I am driven because I am determined to make millions and compensate my parents, to ease my mother.

But we are so distant. I cannot share with her my frustration, my gratitude, my ambitions.
And she is so worried. I cannot let her know my troubles, my fears, my unconventional life…..
.
.
.
.
.
Late at night, my mother called me.

She asked me why I am so busy all the time.
She asked me what I was doing right now; I mumble “I’m working.”
Working on what, she asks. She knows I’m on vacation from school.
“Uh. Just stuff.”
She starts fretting about paying for tuition, and if I am getting enough to eat,
if I am doing okay in school, if I can afford all the text books,
if I am safe in that country full of crazy people with guns…

I cannot tell her that I am teaching dance, and that is why I can’t answer her calls at night.
I cannot tell her that I am putting together a small company, and that is why I am busy.
I cannot tell her that I live close to Taco Bell and Wendy’s, and that is how I eat.
I cannot tell her that I ask people for rides, and that is how I am safe.
I cannot tell her that I dance everyday, and that is why I am tired.
I cannot tell her anything, because she will be so, so shocked…..

I cannot tell her that I cannot tell her anything, and that is why my emails are so short.

So I finally blurt out, when my mother called me so late at night, the only thing I could tell her…

“Just… Stop worrying. When I graduate, I will make a lot of money, and give you some.”

It is not the sweetest thing one might say to one’s mother…
I couldn’t even say “I’m sorry” or “thank you.”
But for me, it was the most emotional, most vulnerable, and most honest blurt that I have ever blurted to her.

She cried.

For the first time ever, I wasn’t able to hide that I was crying too.

 

 

originally written : 18 août 2009 / Los Angeles

I touched the tail fin of a dead dolphin

I touched the tail fin of a dead dolphin.

Glossy black, save for the eerie whitish structure showing in spots from underneath the leathery skin, scrubbed clean off its entire bloody snout, lower jaw, and in strange, serial scars all down along its side… all lined up and spaced out rather evenly… oddly reminding me of some white clouds I once saw lined up against a purple sky over the sea in Dubrovnik…

How did this being die? How did he end up here… on this cold night shore, a small surf town in unlikely Korea…? How did it come to be so scarred? Did it struggle against the sand and waves? Or did it pass onto death long before it passed onto land? What could have scraped away such immense, such cruel patches of his black leather skin… and why…?

I cannot help, when I crouch close to this departed sea mammal, peer into his face, eyes closed, lips slightly open, revealing smooth, white teeth, the still-red blood drying in the edges of each white wound, I cannot help but to think of a wild terror, of a searing pain, of a desperate battle for life….

Foaming white waves rush in all around us in the black night, and all around the black dolphin. I hope the waves will take him with them… back to home… back to the sea… back to the treacherous, perilous, worse, indifferent sea….

But he is not carried back home. His body lists slightly into the seawater as it rushes back out to the dark vastness, drawing back some of the surrounding sand… but the body lies there still.

I wonder for a moment if I should enlist my friend to help me gently push him into the tide, to send him back to where—I cannot help but to think—he had so desperately fought, and lost, to return to. In the end, however, I could not bring myself to be so bold as to dare make that heavy decision, to even propose that I make that grave, almost unearthly, decision, seems too brazen, even insolent.

Instead, we just walk quietly along the midnight beach, back to our hostel. She to get some ice cream, I to get back to my Macbook Air and my nightly writing.

Will the lost dolphin find its way back to its water home, and find a dolphin’s burial there? Or will the sea never take him back? Will the local experts take up its body for processing, whatever processing it may be that such forsaken bodies undergo?

We leave that decision to the sea. The body lies there still.

 

 le jeudi 15 septembre 2016 / Songjeong, Busan, South Korea