Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2006

The 4399 and 1

One of my favorite shows is The 4400. It’s a show about 4400 people who were kidnapped by people from the future, genetically altered and seeded back into the present day in order to save the world from catastrophe. They haven’t aged a day but some have been put into a time that is far into the future from when they were taken. Many of the people they knew are either dead or several years older than they last remember. They try to rebuild their lives despite being out time and out of place. Many try to pick up where they left off but find it impossible. Too much has changed.

As the story continues the people become commonly known as “The 4400″. Eventually, they begin to display special abilities which make others fear them. Rebuilding their lives becomes even more difficult. Some are attacked out of fear, many have no where to go and still others feel so isolated by their experience that they simply cannot adjust. Many begin to group together finding sanctuary among those with similar experiences. They organize under the leadership of a successful businessman and the story continues…

I love the show for obvious reasons. There’s so much to relate to in the sense of isolation, of ostracism and the need to find a purpose for all they’ve experienced. Within the subplots, there are stories that involve human nature, one of which is the need to belong, to find those who share their experiences and understand their feelings. In a group, they find strength and support, courage and purpose.

Another thing that got my attention is that there’s one character who’s experience doesn’t fit with all the other 4400′s. The process of his kidnapping went terribly wrong causing him to instead go into a coma for three years. Though others see him as victim of the same circumstances, his experience was very different and left him even further isolated. He was neither “normal” or an actual 4400.

I wanted to jump up and down screaming, “That’s me! That’s me!” But currently he’s sitting in prison awaiting trial for the murder of the leader of the 4400s. Ugh. Just my luck.

Okay, boring post, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Read Full Post »

My Top 10 Foods


“dark indulgences” by sume

I was tagged by Made in Korea, so here’s my list of top ten munchables. I’m still slobbering from everyone else’s lists. There were some familiar favorites and some new foods I’d like to try. Some people say that music makes the world go ’round but let us not forget the power of food! It’s a kind of universal language that we all can relate to and share.

1. Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark – It’s basically melted dark chocolate mixed with crushed peppermints or spearmints. Spread it out on wax paper, leave it to harden and what you end up with is a candy bar with a little kick.

2. Dan Dan Noodles – The first time I had this was at a Thai restaurant. Don’t ask me, it was on the menu. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but I’ve loved this dish ever since and ate it frequently while I lived in Texas. I’ve found other variations but have yet to find one as good as that one.

3. Grilled Salmon – Marinated in a little olive oil, lemon juice and a few spices, grilled over low heat and served with wedges of lemon. Mmmmm. Gotta have it!

4. Tabbouleh (spelling may vary) – For me this is the ULTIMATE salad. It’s finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, green onion, cracked wheat, and mint with a lemon juice and olive oil “dressing”. Forget what you’ve had in Middle Eastern restaurants, it’s nothing compared to the homemade version. It’s served with romaine lettuce leaves which serve as scoops. Lively in color and refreshing in taste, it goes great with lunch.

5. Chile – Growing up in Texas, Tex-Mex was a regular part of eating out. Anything less than 65 degrees F feels cold to me. When the temperature dips down into the 30′s, there’s nothing like a hot, spicy bowl of chili to chase away the winter chills.

6. Tiramisu – This is one of my favorite desserts. I’ve tried to make this at home but it never turns out the same. I’ve resigned myself to enjoying it only when I eat in restaurants that serve it. I tend to enjoy the smoother, lighter custard versions to the ones with mascarpone cheese but hey, I’ll eat both.

7. Homemade Bread – There is just something about the smell of bread baking in the oven that makes a home feel like a home to me. It doesn’t have to be something complicated but can be something as simple (and fun) as soft pretzels. The kids and I do this quite often. Everyone gets to do their own variation whether it’s cinnamon-sugar, parmesan cheese, salt or garlic butter. They don’t have to be twisted into pretzel shapes either but can be made into heart shapes, stars or whatever. We use pastry brushes to brush on the baking soda solution instead of dipping. It makes things much easier.

8. Chicken Gumbo and Rice – Another comfort food and another one I have never been able to pull off at home. My dad is originally from Louisiana and is one heck of a cook. He has Cajun roots from his father’s side and uses a recipe that’s been passed from one generation to the next. It’s always on the menu for family gatherings along with a huge variety of barbecued delights. Luckily, I have sisters and brothers who can carry on the tradition. My love for rice is a result of it being a regular part of Cajun cuisine.

9. Gelati – Hot summer afternoon, after-doctor-appointment comfort food, reward for good behavior, any excuse will do. We have a local shop that makes these in several different flavors. The big kid in me still goes for the watermelon flavor/vanilla ice cream combo. The two different textures and flavors melt perfectly together. We eat these all year long. I don’t always have a good excuse but who cares? I want one.

10. Grilled corn on the cob – I grew up eating it boiled to death and smothered in butter. I won’t touch corn on the cob cooked that way now. I put it on the grill last and off to the side so it doesn’t burn. If cooked just until the “skin” of the corn kernels starts to shrivel, it comes out naturally sweet with a touch of smoke-flavor.

Even now I’m thinking of several more and getting hungry. Time for a snack! I tag Oanh, Fatima, and the first person who comments who hasn’t done this one.  Anyone who doesn’t have a blog or doesn’t want to put it on their blogs can put their list in comments.

Read Full Post »

The absolute truth


“black on black…and white” by sume

Today, my son asked me about truth. I was in the middle of going through bills and mumbled that truth was fact. It’s either true or it isn’t. “How do you know if it’s fact?” he asked. “If it can be proven,” I said.

Good grief. When did my son, my baby start thinking about such philosophical concepts? He’s barely 10 and should be more focused on cartoons and toys. For the last two weeks or so, he’s been bombarding me with questions about life, religion, God and the natural order of the universe. I’ve lost my patience on several occasions, because he usually picks a time when I’m right in the middle of something that needs my full attention. He almost always asks questions that don’t have easy, straight-forward answers. I can’t figure out why the sudden change? He never thought about these things before.

I was talking to my mom today and mentioned it. She said I was the same way and nearly drove her insane with my daily barrage of “what if’s” and “why’s”. “Children are curious and want to know everything,” she said, “You should be use to it by now.” I guess I should be, but I’m use to questions that I can answer with a few sentences. My son is asking questions that force me to break down complicated answers.

In trying to answer his question, it forced me to reflect on my own beliefs. What is truth? Is there a such thing as absolute truth? I was just telling a friend the other day, that I’m not sure if there is a such thing. If there is, then I doubt human beings are able to fully grasp it. I hate thinking about these things but have never been able to help myself. I have a love-hate relationship with philosophy, with things that make me think too deeply. My brain can’t grasp such deep concepts but I’m drawn to them.

For the same reasons, I love to delve as deeply as I can into religion, science, history and matters surrounding the human condition. Perhaps, it’s all because I’m in some desperate search for the truth. But again, what is truth and can human beings slough the static of their own perceptions enough to recognize it?

The sky is blue, right? Well….yes and no. First, you have to define sky. How high is the sky? The higher, you go, the less blue it’s going to be and eventually it’s not “sky” anymore. You’re in space, baby, and that isn’t blue. Even if you stop at the troposphere, the “blue” is simply caused by a combination of light waves and atmospheric conditions. We perceive the affect as blue.

Nerdy, I know and probably a bad example. My point is that our perceptions can “color” what we “see”. What we accept as fact or truth, may not be “true” at all.

Stephen Hawking is quoted as saying, “The Greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

I love that guy. Therein, lies a warning to all of us, that what we think we know, may not be what we think it is. This post is probably totally boring, but it’s something to think about, especially when it comes to judging other’s experiences. I fail in this on a daily basis, but was reminded today by a 10 year-old boy.

When people seek to invalidate another’s experience in order to put forth their own as “truth”, are they not, instead, creating a deception?

Oh gawd. Do I sound pretentious?

*Edit Attacks on adoptees who put forth a less than rosy point of view, have been a source of irritation for me. I know my post could be perceived as kind of a double edged sword, so I want to clarify my intent.

I’m incensed though not surprised by this latest attempt to invalidate her experience and opinion as an adoptee. Ji-in put it very well when she wrote, “It’s one of my biggest regrets about the international KAD community that we continue to draw these invisible lines between ourselves and invalidate one anothers’ experiences. We all have important stories to tell.”

Read Full Post »

The Moonlighters

A Distant Face
“A distant face” by sume

I’ll probably revise this a thousand times, as usual…

Mornings at mother’s house were piled
onto plates with biscuits and milk gravy
ladled from cast iron nights stretched

between the sawtooth bark and growl
of our half-breed Pekingese, rest unknown;
staked and tethered close, but out of reach

of the garbage. The raccoons only smiled
in return, knowing death traveled only as far
as the last link of chain. They feigned courage,

gorged themselves on human refuse; pieces
of chicken, half-chewed ham and carrots
discretely discarded to hasten dessert.

Only a trash-wreaking canine, protecting
a forbidden treasure and an insomniac
who never knew dreams, were left unsatisfied.

Mid-morning, with tongue smothered in gravy,
baggaged eyes crusted with sleep, I suggested
she weight the lids.

“Why?” she asked, “The dog does her job.”
With a wave of hand, she filled her plate,
and told me to wash my face.

Weeks later, we found Cocoa dead; a neglected
case of worms. Mother bought garbage cans
with latches, but night-thieves still grinned

over caches of waste knowing a prowler’s
best friend is his victim’s sense of security.
I lay awake longing, not for sleep

but to hear the sound of protest.

Read Full Post »

Yes, I'm mulling over it, too. I've been contemplating a name change for several years now and did take on an Islamic name. Everyone still called me by my "given" but I had an Islamic one already picked out. Sumeia seemed perfect at the time because I could always break it up; Su Mei, Sume, Mei. I really didn't want to have an Arabic-sounding name. Talk about confusion. It seemed like a good solution at the time. So for years, I went through life with the intention of legally taking that name. I'm not satisfied with it now. People either think it's Japanese or Chinese. I'm being ethnically incorrect again. Damn!

My "real" name really isn't that bad as long as I never mention my last name. It's a dead give away that somewhere along the line, my ethnic wires were crossed. I'm not really sure what compels me in this direction. Resistance? Reclamation of my identity and heritage? It's probably all of those along with the fact that it just feels right. I agonized over how my aparents would feel, debated with myself over its importance, struggled with feelings of betrayal and came to the conclusion that it's just something I have to do. I need to return that part of me to its rightful place. I really think that, in the end, my parents would understand my decision.

I'm still trying to decide whether or not to take the name from my adoption papers. My indecision stems from reasons similar to those pointed out by those strong souls who went before me. The horrible thing is that I'm not sure if I even like the name that's on my adoption papers. Yes, I'm terrible. I don't really like the way it sounds when I say it out loud. It feels strange on my tongue like eating a new Vietnamese dish for the first time. I wiggle it around on my tongue, play with the sounds, chew on its strange texture and then debate on whether to spit it out or swallow it.

The really strange thing is the fact that I can't stand my own Vietnamese name makes me want to embrace in defiance. The fact that I can't even pronounce it properly, screams of loss and disconnect. Le Thi Buu Tran is more than just a collection of letters and sounds. In a way, it represents all the culture and language, all the heritage and pride in that heritage that was ripped away without my consent.

Yet, I am still indecisive and have begun researching my "ethnic" name. I also want to make sure it has a meaning (if it has a meaning) that I can live with. I think my worst fear is that I'd legally change my name and it end up meaning "donkey on a stick" or something I'd regret. It's not likely but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I guess this one will have to go under "to be continued" but that is much more preferable than a dead end.

Read Full Post »

Weeks after the birth of their first biological child, Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are planning to adopt another. "Next we'll adopt," Jolie told CNN in an interview to be aired on Tuesday.

"We don't know which — which country. But we're looking at different countries. And we're — I'm just– it's gonna be the balance of what would be the best for Mad and for Z right now. It's, you know, another boy, another girl, which country, which race would fit best with the kids," she said, referring to her adopted children. More…

*bangs head on table

Read Full Post »

For a Free Afghan Media

There is a lot to say, but I'm at a loss for words these days. There is solace to be found however, in reading the work of others. It's nice to find a cozy, safe place in between the the lines of great poetry or to live one moment of another's life through a blog post. I come away from it all with a sense of sharing, as if I've been given a gift of insight and perspective. Reading also forces me to come to grips with my own limits when it comes to my grasp of the English language.

It didn't help that I grew up in a place where words like "dang" and "dadgummit" were thought of as real words. It took me years to realize that "fixing" did not mean the same thing as "going" as in "I'm fixing to eat" as opposed to "I'm going to eat". The little knowledge I gleaned in college has abandoned me. It was replaced by more practical information such as knowing how to fold fitted sheets and cooking a dinner from next to nothing. I can simultaneously clean, make doctor's appointments and referee arguments without losing my sanity.

One of my biggest peeves about myself is when words fail me. It is a source of great frustration because I, like most people, want to communicate my thoughts and feelings in an effective, concise way. I want to be heard and understood without the need for endless clarification. Is that even possible? What one writes will be interpreted by the particular individual who's doing the reading. Inevitably, there will be misunderstandings and points where the writer and the one reading will completely "miss" each other when it comes to meaning and intention.

In the days when I took my own poetry more seriously, I worried about how well my poems represented me as a person. It was a way for me to say things that I would otherwise keep to myself. With poetry, I could weave layers of meaning between the lines. There would be an obvious meaning for all to see and something for those who knew me best. Still, even deeper, I buried things that had meaning only to myself. My methods often resulted in nothing more than cliche'd, badly written gibberish, but it was my gibberish and I could live with that. Even with my own sad limits as a poet, it felt like the perfect form of expression to an imperfect being.

Yet, I worried about what readers would bring with them as they read and how much that affected what they "saw". In a way, poets are painters except they use pens instead of brushes and words instead of paint. The difference is that poets have less control over the "image" itself and how it appears. There is always the risk of misrepresenting oneself and/or making oneself look like a complete idiot. Even now, I'm wondering if I sound pretentious. It is the risk writers take every time they put something out there.

My favorite saying is a Serbian proverb, "Be humble for you are made of earth/dung. Be noble for you are made of stars". I think it's a good approach for both readers and writers as well as for life in general. It's another reminder of the dual nature of existence, a concept that reverberates throughout my writing.

The saying reminds me to both read and write with the realization that I'm inescapably human. At the same time, I'm encouraged to improve how I convey my thoughts as well as my understanding of what I read. It leaves me room to learn from my failures. It keeps me from becoming arrogant when others don't understand or misconstrue what I'm trying to say. I am given reasons to keep trying while keeping in mind that others may not give a damn that I'm trying to say anything at all.

It's all there, in two lines and I can live with what acceptance of the saying entails. I admire anyone who can write pieces of their soul onto a piece of paper and walk away satisfied. I will probably never know what that feels like. I can also respect anyone who tries to express a thought but fails miserably. I'm all too familiar with that one, but it's the trying that counts, right?

So much for my writer's block, eh?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers