Storm Queen aka This is 40

I used to get embarrassed for folks who were all, “It’s my birfday!  We gotta go out for my birfday!”  I was like, “You turning 38, don’t act thirsty for a bouncy house or a tiara.  Have several seats and act grown!”

Living in the age of social media, I see more stories of lives taken too soon and those asking for prayer for health problems.  So, as I get older, fully FEELING how everyday is a gift, I want to celebrate everything. (And I repent my previous years of judging the birthday-thirsty).

Though I didn’t get a chance to reflect some more about my big 4-0 (beyond the previous blog post written when I was a tender 39) or set any goals for the new decade, I wanted to share a couple favorite moments.

My 10/4 (4×10) birthday landed on Rosh Hashanah, on day two of two consecutive school holidays after the weekend celebration of Ellis’ 4th birthday. His casual school party, World’s Maker Faire, Ellis’ Bowlmageddon Party, then two days dedicated to me.

Kevin took two days off and drove us to one of my fave spots on the eve of my birthday.  Storm King:  one of the world’s leading sculpture parks in the lower Hudson Valley, about an hour north of NYC.  (We also stopped by the tiny Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens on my actual birthday the next day, but that was a drive-by half-hour visit, after dropping by the gorgeous waterfront Costco in LIC next door, before escaping the city again).

Being outdoors in nature is one of the most life-giving gifts for this California gal.  I would love to hike and swim all year long, nekked if I could.  The boys took me to Storm King so that I can trade in all that car-honking in Queens for some geese-honking.  (Actually, even the geese of Storm King were very quiet.)


We took a 40-minute shuttle ride around the grounds.  While it was lovely, it was not restful or peaceful because I sat next to Ellis the Clown who would exclaim after placing various objects on my body, “Mommy, guess wha-a-at?  You have a rock on your shoulder!  Why don’t you pretend to throw it?  ahahahahahah you still have a rock on your shoulder!  Mommy, do you think I’m going to throw this bottle out or do you think I’m going to just pretend?  Litterbug or just pretend?”

So I had to monitor this charming but handful of a dude.  Later, Kevin wanted to gift me with a solitary ride in the same shuttle.  “Hey, you loved riding alone last time.  You have to do it again.  If you run, you can catch the last one and I’ll take these fools around to wrestle on the grass.”

I was torn for a second because I wanted to spend every moment with my morsels on my last day of being 39 (yes, I am SUPER sentimental).  But I caught a front row seat on the shuttle, all by myself.

As the shuttle took off, I heard, “MOMMY MOMMY!” coming from a tower.  I looked up and saw my three boys, Small, Medium and Large, sending me off on my 40 minutes of solo time.  They were beaming and waving at me from behind the trees, like I was going off to Seoul to teach English for a year rather than just 40 minutes away.

Naturally, I waved back like a maniac and teared up, thinking about how close we are as a family, perhaps due to the very thing that grieves me, the lack of an extended family village.  Also, memories came gushing forth, memories of when I was a 100% stay-at-home mom for a full 4.5 years, those years of being each others’ planets.

And now look at them, my emoji comedian who can moonlight as a food inspector as he WILL find even the smallest hair in any takeout order or couch cushion, my observant and profound MLK, who says things that make my mouth drop to the floor (“I still dream of Nepal, Mommy.  What’s going on over there now?”) and my husband, my biggest supporter and encourager, who also says things that make me go WHAT!?…(“Hey, so I’m not gonna wear shorts any more because I saw Pitbull.  THAT dude looks SO cool in his suits, like he would never ever be caught dead wearing shorts.  It’s just beneath him.”)

During my 37-minute shuttle ride, I relished in the quiet, thanked God over and over again for my gifts, and lifted up a few prayers for my new decade.  As we drove past the last few sculptures, I saw some masterpieces GALLOP past me!

It was my family, about to climb one of the viewing towers as we shuttlers watched.  The boys shyly waved at me.

It was a perfect moment I hope to replay over and over again.  This shuttle taking me around to each giant monument on the 500 acres was perfect for my 40th as I remembered the monuments in my own life, and admired the three greatest ones, now literally on display for me to gaze at.



Micah sitting on nickels



10.4.16 Socrates Sculpture Park






Christopher Walken heads at Socrates




06.16.16 Meantime Marvel

Yesterday, a local mama and LA mama friend wrote me on 06.16.16, remembering my date fetish that officially started with my 07.07.07 nuptials.  One asked where my 06.16.16 post at so here it is, J!  Thanks for the query, kekeke.

I had noted the triple 6 date but didn’t get excited because I don’t like 6s.  When I see that many 6s, I gotta look down at my nails and shift my gaze.  I did get tickled that catchy dates made my friends holla.

I had a routine dentist appointment this morning and she informed me that I had broken a tooth.  She was sure that it was from grinding or clenching my teeth (even with my nightguard in)!  As I type this sentence, I can feel the jaw pain from the clenching I must be doing in my sleep.

Can’t help but wonder if my clenching has gotten worse considering the devastating news in the world, namely in Orlando, FL this past week alone.

On June 10th, a singer by the name of Christina Grimmie was shot and killed while signing autographs for her fans.

On June 12th, early Sunday, a gunman slaughtered 49 people at a gay nightclub, injuring at least 53 others.  Deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

On June 15th, the body of a two year-old boy, Lane Graves, was found intact after being carried off by an alligator outside Disney’s Grand Floridian resort.

All in Orlando within the past seven days.

And the blessing and curse of social media is that our eyes and ears are everywhere, even beyond the big news stories like Orlando, including recent kidnappings and children getting hurt out of nowhere.

I absorb all of this.  And I clench.

I am ever more vigilant.  I lecture the boys numerous times daily about not walking behind me but walking in front of me where I can see them clearly.  I even demonstrated what could happen if they continue to walk behind me but they enjoyed the dramatic snatch-demonstration too much:  “Do it again to me, Mommy.”

Excuse the clumsy transition as I have to eat lunch now but our family is in a season of life where we are awaiting next steps.  Blessed and intact but also hoping for change.

I heard a sermon yesterday called “Meantime.”  How sometimes we just want to know what’s up next and when we can get goin’ on Next and when He will provide for our immediate future, the prayers we been lifting up.  But then we end up treating the present like an afterthought:  “Man, I can’t wait ’til ______….in the meantime (sigghhhh)…” and poor Meantime is treated like some neglected stepchild (sermon by Toure Roberts).

The tragic events of this past week have made me extra thankful for my Meantime.

Though waiting on Him to answer prayers, I am pausing to memorialize our 06.16.16 Meantime, which included a Morsel-y Mundane Marvel of a Moment where our whole family stumbled upon an ant colony during an evening walk together after dinner.  We squealed, poked sticks and wondered aloud.  I then went for a jog so I can watch the sky.

The lives lost in Orlando made me realize all over again that we Moms just want our kids to be one thing, fine, two things when they grow up:  alive and well, and the rest is all noise.

Thank You, Lord, that I get to have a Meantime.

Rest in Peace to those lives lost in Orlando this past week.  You will not be forgotten.


I love big signs and I cannot lie.

Little signs too.  Anything, really.

I think I’ve always been this way.  Just like I’ve always loved stories and books and letters.

Signs help me keep the faith.

Kevin and I were in the midst of a huge blowout fight while at a Mets game.  I felt like I was the only weirdo in the stadium who just could not have a good time despite the phenomenal weather and being at my husband’s happy place.  This ridiculous fight that only kept spiraling.

Do others go through this, too?  When we have the rare child-free few hours, a lot of sh*t comes to light, maybe because we don’t have to censor ourselves any more?

Anyways, I called my best friend and said, “Let’s not even talk about this.  No need for commentary especially since you’re just gonna make fun of me.  Just pray for me, fool.  It’s like I’m determined to sabotage this day!  Why do I do this!?”

After laughing at me per usual, she prayed, “Please, Lord, may a friendly face in the crowds somehow minister to Jihee while she is upset.”

Minutes later, I run into our younger-than-us pastor, a Mets fanatic just like Kevin.  I wish I could report back that Kevin and I were able to salvage our Mets vs Dodgers afternoon but I would be lying.  We continued to fight so much that I told Kevin that we should at least fight in Korean in case folks live-Tweet our escalating exchange.

[And the irony is not lost on me that the game was Mets (Kevin) vs. Dodgers (LA/Jihee)].

Despite our horrible afternoon, when I find myself doubting or just feeling alone, I like to recall signs, or small answers to prayer, like running into our pastor immediately after my friend prayed for a friendly face.

Sometimes the signs are beautiful:  I was jogging and asking for forgiveness for lashing out in anger yet again and suddenly, I saw a cardinal fly onto someone’s porch.

I loved it.  What a gift.  Pigeons, robins, and even morning doves are more common in my NYC neighborhood but rarely do I get to behold a bright red cardinal.

Then another sign on the same morning as the cardinal.  I was about to step into the passenger seat of our mini-van to go to church after the cardinal-spotting jog, when I looked down at the wet road under my foot.  There was a gold heart smashed into the street.  Thank You, Lord.  Love, love, and more love when I needed it the most:  when I’m feeling like a failure for not having more control over my anger.

And yes, the words “Kate Spade” on the golden heart made it slightly less enchanting, but I choose to keep the sign free from commercialism please.  (Added bonus:  it was the morning of our friend’s baby sister’s wedding!)


Other times, it’s a Bible verse shared on Facebook or a Bible verse I happen to stumble on when looking up a Proverb matching the day of the month:

It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife. – Proverbs 21:19 (New Living Translation)

And sure, I know that sometimes I am too much on the hunt for signs, hoping that the notecard floating in the wind will land on that patch of grass and reveal a perfect, timely message for me, only to realize that it was a teen’s handwritten study note about amino acids.

Nevertheless, thank You for signs.  I will keep looking.


Ode to Korean Spa

As I mentioned in the previous post, Kevin and I were able to visit the Korean Spa together last Saturday as part of our belated and continued wedding anniversary celebration.

We hadn’t been to one together for more than six years (I think).

We walked in and received our spa uniforms, a towel, and a toothbrush, all rolled up like a mini-sleeping bag for camp.  Or like soldiers’ supplies for battle.  After emerging from our respective locker rooms, we felt more “prepared” to relax.

Not just because we were at a spa where we didn’t have to beg our kids to please stop punching each other at Bronx Costco or please eat one more bite of food made directly by God before you can get you some Cheetos or please don’t touch brother’s nipple or Mommy’s Giovanna.

Lately, I’ve completely forgotten HOW to rest. I mostly blame the smartphone culture that I am part of, where info is always available at my fingertips. I do weird things to opt out but they aren’t long-lasting or even successful. It’s cool how Kevin doesn’t feel the same compulsion to check his phone.

Even when not working or with the kids, my mind is always running. Always one more thing to follow-up on.

Did I RSVP by the deadline (I don’t want to get scolded)?

Why must I triple-check my doc appointments since the staff keep switching things around on me?

When is the next Free Museum Day at ____________?

Is my mom working today or can she see the boys on Skype as they eat?

What are some family goals for the next month?

What else can we plan if all our summer Saturdays are accounted for?

Should I watch the Sandra Bland video though I fear I may not be able to cope?

Why do I have a vitamin D deficiency even during the summer?

Why does my left arm still tingle?

The Koreanness of our spa was what ended up easing us into relaxation mode.  Strangely, it felt like coming home though I was raised in Los Angeles and Kevin, various parts of the States, before ending up in the White town of Old Saybrook, CT.

I loved how it was homey, not fancy. It just felt like I was hanging out at a family friend’s house.

We swelled up with so much Korea Love that I had to keep Kevin from belting out “Dong Hae Mul Gwa” on his way to check out the Korean menu. He was practically skipping.

Oh how we needed this and oh how we had missed the Korean dramas they were playing on the walls. Many of our wintry, childless Saturdays were devoted to watching these sappy sagas, which we would actually rent from the video store(!) in Ktown Manhattan. The kitchen served Korean comfort food like ddukbokghee and baked eggs. Ajummas and ahjushees were just sprawled out in various stages of rest in the Jewelry Room or Salt Room or on the overstuffed leather couches.

Even when some ajummas got too loud, I had grace on them because they were my people.  I moved to another room but I wasn’t as annoyed.

I had overpacked by bringing four books when we only had four hours ‘til dinner but at least I had options.

The public bath portion upped the relaxation quotient even more. Of course public bath turned out to be epiphany time for me: I saw how I am truly middle-aged now, sandwiched between the flat-stomached, long-haired 20-something gals and the pahmah’d (permed), less firm 60-something grammas. Even this (Korean) nudity comforted me.  It was like looking at my body from years ago when I dared to think I was fat, to getting a sneak peak to Future Me.

The older ladies who did the body scrubs for spa patrons who paid for that additional service were donning their black bra and black panties, their daily uniform for climbing onto women’s backs to scrub away dead skin cells.

In between patrons, they would rest right aside the shower area, eating steamed corn and watching Korean TV. I admired them. Everyone talks about doing what you love. Find that passion, that calling. Find what gives you life. Don’t settle. I doubt that these older women dreamed about scrubbing down nekked women all day long but they were making the most of it and working hard. Respect.

And finally, what is a Korean spa experience without one of your fears coming true? I had told Kevin that I bet I would run into someone I knew while nekked. Don’t get it twisted – I love being nekked around old-time friends and strangers but not in front of familiar faces/acquaintances at small-talk level.

Immediately after I hoisted my more relaxed nekked body into the hot tub, a young girl and her gramma entered my tub. The little girl looked so familiar but I couldn’t place her. Then her FULLY CLOTHED mama ran in after her, demanding that she tie her hair before entering the tub. WHERE DO I KNOW THEM FROM!? I mentally scanned all the kiddie places I have frequented over the past five years and a-ha – I made a match.

They used to attend the same music class as one of the boys. We used to sit around in a circle, clothed, watching a White man sing and play his guitar for our kids while we accompanied him on our maracas, but there I was, buck nekked with my stomach rolls on display while this lady was covered up in her spa uniform.

Oh well, I wasn’t tripping. I just didn’t dole out my usual greetings because there is a time and place for that, and buck nekked at the Korean spa wasn’t it.

I was just relieved that there weren’t a series of bubbles floating up from under me in the still pool.

Relaxed Koreans eating American dinner after the spa

Relaxed Koreans eating American dinner after the spa

Freed People Free People

1,199,377,832 : number of Internet searches for pornography since January 1, 2015.

With that unfathomable figure on the black screen behind him, one of our church leaders shared his very personal addiction to pornography and how he was delivered from it in 1995.

I didn’t take any notes as I hung on to every word.  The sermon is not on our church’s website yet as he delivered this sermon only yesterday.  I will share it once it is up.

This was one of the most powerful sermons I have ever heard because of its very personal and raw nature.  I saw people wiping their tears as he shared his private pain.

Redd also mentioned how he came to decide to share this testimony with such a large audience.  He realized that sharing his story can bless others:  Freed People Free People.

This was particularly encouraging to me, the born Public Confesser.  Many times I wish I weren’t wired this way.  I feel like a damn fool.  Why do I always want to share?  I ain’t getting paid.

Why do I have such a compulsion to share my innards instead of keeping my status updates casual:  “Tried the new watermelon flavor blaster gum today.  YUM!”

As I sat there, watching Redd take a huge risk by sharing his secrets, I, too, wiped away a few tears that had slipped out.  I, one who has never even watched porn, connected with what he was saying.

I understand about bondage and what Apostle Paul talks about in Romans 7:15:  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Redd also clarified that his sermon isn’t only addressing addiction to porn but to ANYTHING that makes us feel imprisoned.

Anger, overeating, eating disorders, drugs, shame, sex, fear, unforgiveness, blame, and so much more.  And in 2015, I’m sure there is a whole host of new addictions like addiction to our smartphones and social media so that we aren’t left alone with our own thoughts.

Redd asked the congregation to whisper in our own seats:  “I WANT TO BE SET FREE FROM ________.”

I want to be set free from ANGER.

It may be getting worse, not better, as I age.  I know that beneath the anger lies hurt but I seem to skip right over the Hurt to rush to the release of Anger.  This release is false as I don’t feel any better even after unleashing.

I am well aware of my triggers.  For one, it’s when I see others enjoying what I lack.  I know in my HEAD, that we all have different blessings but in my FEELS, I don’t see why I can’t have what others have.

*This is risky to share because I also have experienced folks enjoying being the object of my envy because it makes them feel better about themselves but that’s another topic altogether.*

I saw a woman in the locker room at a Korean spa on Saturday, the first day my MiL came over this calendar year so that Kevin and I could have a belated anniversary day to ourselves.  A whole entire day – Glory!

This woman walked in with her infant, her mom, and her MiL (or aunt).  She, herself, never tended to the baby as the doting grammas cooed over him and handled everything he needed – the undressing, the diapers, you name it.  The young mom just followed their lead and changed into her own spa uniform AT HER LEISURE.

Her leisure made my body hot.  Yes, I realize that you come to a spa to relax but how dare she relax with an infant?  THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE.

I judged her for being lazy and spoiled(!) just because she was richly blessed with a day at the spa with generations above and below.

Then I checked myself and said, “Hold up, ajumma, why are you hating on that woman you’ve never met?  What is going on in there?”

I realized it was because I haven’t fully grieved being on our own these last five years as parents.  Sure, I talk about it A LOT, but I don’t think I really know what to do with the sadness I hold about my kids seeing my parents once a year.  How Kevin and I, for the most part, raise them up on our own.  When a couple church friends expressed interest in watching our kids, I actually cried because I felt SO LOVED and supported.

I have to clarify that we have great friends I’ve made since M was an infant, and we do regular playdates, but I’m talking specifically about the Family Village, which we lack.

And believe me, in my head, I know that things could be worse – at least both sets of grandparents are alive and well, at least Kevin’s mom was able to come over on Saturday. (I also struggle with GUILT for feeling my feelings!)

I also know that I am a very energetic and competent mama perhaps because it’s either Kevin or me tending to their every need, but when I see a mom of young children hardly lifting a finger because she knows that her Village will run over to her child walking dangerously in front of another child on the swings, something is triggered.

I want to learn to say, “I feel sad that my parents live so damn far away and can’t get to know my morsels as much as I’d like,” rather than, “Fuck these lazy spoiled princess mamas who don’t know how to do jack shit on their own.”

I want to be set free from my default emotion of ANGER.

I want to be set free from the guilt I feel for some of my feelings.

I want to be set free from blaming my husband when our lives aren’t quite what I pictured.

I want to be set free from criticizing.

I want to be set free from self-hatred.

Redd reminded us that FREED PEOPLE FREE PEOPLE.  What do you want to be set free from?  Let’s help each other.  Here is the passage we studied together yesterday – Isaiah 61:

Exaltation of the Afflicted:

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
    foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
    you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
    and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
    that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.

Learning to Listen: Consolations and Desolations (Part 1)

I woke up on Sunday morning, wondering if I should skip church.  I usually look forward to church but I was also on the brink of developing a twitch from NYC livin’:

The crowds, the heat, the smell of garbage wafting IN the heat, the strategic search for parking while the kids ask for snacks and car radio DJ duties, crazy congestion while driving in my ‘hood (all those one-way streets!).

As much as I enjoy church, it is a big church so I wouldn’t be able to avoid crowds.

If I hung back while the boys went to church, I would be able to relish the rare occurrence of being Home Alone.




But I ended up joining them after all.  As much as I craved solitude to hear myself think, especially after being out with them for most of Saturday, I also craved a good sermon in real life, not online.

Pastor Pete’s sermon was called “Listen.”  Very timely as the boys seem to be listening-challenged this summer, especially while playing hward.

Also timely because I often refuse to listen to Kevin.  Ever logical, he asked me how I can demand more communication from him yet refuse to listen once he starts talking.  My reasoning that only makes sense to me is that once I hear him start talking, I know it’s not going in the specific direction I need it to go.  Yeah, I know:  wack.

So, I had a hard time listening to the “Listen” sermon.  My firstborn started a new phase where he refuses to join Sunday School and wants to sit with me at adult service.  I wasn’t going to force him to go nor was I going to sit with him in his class.  So the deal was that he sit QUIETLY next to me throughout the whole service.  Old school quiet with no i-anythings or even a crayon.

Kevin warned me not to reward him with hugs and cuddles.  Oops.  But he was being so good, making motions of zipping up his lips and throwing away the key.  Kevin also had to serve time by staying with E in his Sunday School class, although he managed to get released in time for some of the sermon.

The point is, I was distracted, making sure M wasn’t sliding off his chair, “whispering,” kicking the lady next to me or otherwise disturbing the peace.

Towards the end of the sermon, Pastor Pete passed out this handout so that we could spend a few moments doing a listening exercise together as a church body, using Consolations and Desolations as a tool:


In case that handout is hard to read, here it is, directly quoted (minus my handwritten notes):

Introduction:  One of the ways God speaks to us is through our deepest feelings and yearnings, what Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) called “consolation” and “desolation.”  Consolations are those experiences that fill us with joy, life, energy and peace.  Desolations are those that drain us and feel like death.  Consolations connect us with ourselves, others and God.  Desolations disconnect us.  The questions below are one simple way of discovering the interior movements of God through which He is speaking and leading.

Take about a few moments for silence, becoming aware of God’s presence.  As you consider the activities of your day, ask yourself these two questions:

1.  Where am I experiencing feelings of joy and peace?  Where am I sensing connection with God (consolation)?

2.  Where am I experiencing sadness, apathy, and a sense of life draining out of me?  Where am I sensing disconnection from God (desolation)?

End with prayer for grace to be more aware of God’s presence and leadings.

Pastor Pete directed us to look back on the past two days for this exercise.

Here is my list:


1.  Being outdoors in warm weather, preferably by the water.  Brooklyn Bridge sprinklers on Saturday, jumping the waves at Jones Beach on Sunday.  Watermelon, figs, olives, Korean pork jerky and cheese pizza only added to the joy and energy.

FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_1 FullSizeRender_2 IMG_1612 IMG_1614

2.  Family time with all four of us present.

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3.  Connecting in person with people I enjoy, not people I “should” hang out with.  It’s always a treat when we can see friends in person rather than on a screen.

4.  Taking in gorgeous scenery without rushing to next event.

5.  A good book.

6.  Writing.

7.  Holding babies.

8.  Swimming, yoga, hiking, walking, jogging.  I would love to be outdoors for all of this.

This is turning out to be long so I will have to save my desolations for another post.

I also see how my consolations and desolations can collide or overlap, how too much of a consolation can end up becoming a desolation.  More on that another time, I hope.

I just wanted to start a conversation for now.

Dear Sizzler (and Facebook): Sharing is Caring

On the eve of our 07.07.07 wedding anniversary, I happened to be left alone with a sliver of quiet and my big iPhone while Kevin bathed the boys.

As usual, I looked at the many photos on my phone.

I noticed our recent family selfie from our evening drive to the beach.

We were all smiles and for once, I was IN the picture instead of behind the camera(phone).  I wanted to share it but I also couldn’t stomach plopping another perfect photo into the sea of perfect moments on Facebook.

Perfect moment overload these days.  Maybe it’s the humidity, but I just needed a break.

The picture tripped me out because we were in one of the worst weeks in our marriage thus far, but there we were, beaming at the beach.  Posting the picture without an accompanying “confession” felt incomplete.

This was the picture:


And this was the caption:

[6.25.15 – the story behind this “perfect” family pic is that Kevin and I were doing horribly. At least a week and a half or so was spiritually dark.

We remembered that water is life-giving to me/us so we drove to the beach in the evening, after the workday, following wack GPS directions through alleys as if we were trying to lose the cops, hoping that the backdrop would help, even just a little.

Just felt like sharing that in case people assume that everyone ELSE on their Newsfeeds is living perfect lives that have somehow eluded them. As if there was such a thing. Chile, please.

Tomorrow is our 07.07.07 wedding anniversary. Praying that I can shed some bad habits of explosive anger, criticizing, and blaming. Pray for us when we pop up on your Newsfeed. Thanks!]

I was blown away by the feedback I received.  The number of Likes alone was mind-boggling.  I had only received that sort of Facebook love for the birth of my sons.

People were actually expending energy in their thumbs to comment and write me personal messages.  Facebook friends kept thanking me for being “real” and “honest,” and for “sharing what no one seems willing to.”

I was touched by the feedback but also couldn’t help but think that I hadn’t shared anything too radical.  I wondered why Facebook lacks more vulnerability in general since there was a swell of immediate response to it.

I sure didn’t invent it and I sure don’t have a monopoly on it but it felt like I had flipped the script on unspoken social media rules:  I had shared a chunk of my interior life instead of the 777,777th photo of my beloved boys in our courtyard.

I wonder why there isn’t more sharing?  Isn’t it only natural as we do life together and bother to update regularly?  No adult is going to be shocked that *GASP* your life is not perfect.  That you are not perfect!

We can still share the gorgeous photos and emoji-filled updates and viral baby dancing videos and 2.5 more parenting articles that will revolutionize the way I raise up my kids but how about a dash of Real Talk here and there?

Just from the response to my photo caption, I sensed that others are also feeling the void of two-dimensional Facebook.  Sure, we love to see what our friends are up to, what they are eating, where they are visiting but those updates alone don’t help us to connect on a deeper level and get to know each others’ insides any better.

Many Facebook users, including me, have reported more feelings of depression, isolation, and envy after scrolling through their friends’ highlight reels on their Newsfeeds.  This is because we almost never share back stories of our photos or go a little deeper in our status updates.  Maybe not full-on confessions like I’m naturally inclined towards but just a little something more?

Sure, there are some topics one should save for a safe, select few.  However, there are universal struggles and fears we have all gone through, are going through, or will go through by virtue of being human.  And by sharing, you may touch someone else.

This was not meant to be yet another rant against social media for only displaying people’s highlight reels instead of their real lives.  Hey, it’s not Facebook’s fault.  Facebook is not a living, breathing organism.  We, the users, make Facebook what we want it to be and lately, we’ve been keeping it pretty damn surface level.

My happy photos are NOT fake.  But they only tell part of the story.  And no matter what I may be going through, I am genuinely happy in those moments I hug up on my boys for a photo.

Just like my brother and I scribbled with a shorty #2 library pencil on a comment card at Sizzler, decades ago in response to their “No Sharing” policy at their establishments:  Sharing is caring.

Kombucha Tea and the Amalfi Coast

One huge perk of being an at-home mama is that I don’t have to take the subway five days a week no mo’.

I am reminded of this blessing each time I end up on the train.  The delays have gotten much worse.  Commuters look like they are suffering from clinical depression.  The shiny, happy ones are just visiting from Austin or Cleveland.

I had a couple appointments in deep Manhattan the other day.  Unfortunately, I had brought a novel that turned out to be unreadable so I tried to practice mindfulness during this rare occasion for weekday solitude.

Sitting across from me was an older Black lady with her chin slumped down on her chest. She wore dark sunglasses, a hat, about 20 beaded bracelets on each forearm, multiple layers of clothes, including a thick beige wool coat on this fair, sunny day.  On her feet were thick white socks and flip-flops.  She looked like she was either in deep slumber or closing her eyes to shut out reality.  Her big turquoise purse was taking up coveted sitting space on the crowded morning E train.

I noticed her but I didn’t pay her any mind as I let my thoughts wander off.

Suddenly, I heard her screaming.

“Don’t you dare lay a hand on me, you beater!  I will hit you right back, you beater!  I bet if I were a man, you wouldn’t have dared touched me!  I am so sick of men always poking and touching me!  I will fight back you hear me!?”

A man had tapped her to move her purse so he can sit.

She came undone and her rage came spewing forth like hot molten lava.  Commuters either looked away, looked past her, or stared while smirking as she continued to shout at the man.

The man took the seat calmly and let her continue with her loud diatribe:

“Drink some kombucha, you bottom belly!”

“Try some fine arts to exercise your left brain, right brain, you pig!”

When the man got off at the next stop, another commuter offered him his condolences and pat him on his back as he wished him a great day.  He was smiling and unfazed.  He hadn’t let her get to him because she clearly was dealing with a whole lot of pain that had nothing to do with him.

His tap on her shoulder had simply released all that palpable rage hovering at the surface.

When these type of subway incidents occur, I only get surprised that more don’t occur with all of us jammed together, getting sloshed around as if in a snow globe.

I’ve had my share of them, from a visibly deranged White woman calling my genitalia racial slurs to a gay White man growling at me for being “so annoying.”  (I was simply sitting and existing, not eating or pushing or singing or playing any music or even breathing stank breath when I noticed him glaring at me like he wanted to hit me.  I had to ask him whassup before his eyes popped out of his head and he explained that I was “so annoying.”  Let’s just say…we had words.)

This angry lady’s diatribe reminded me once again of how we all have different triggers from different hurts that we carry with us.  And God help the stranger on the train or the colleague at work or acquaintance at your child’s school or close friend or spouse who picks the scabs offa those wounds.

Shortly after this angry lady got off the train, another lady got on.  This one was White, trying to be blonde, maybe in her early to mid-50s, carrying a bright white Prada bag.  She was not pretty but impeccably groomed, her face freshly treated to a facial and who knows what else.  Very well-dressed.  Her essence exuded a pampered, enviable existence.

She kept checking her reflection against the dark subway windows as she conversed with her subway companion, a young man, young enough to be her son (but just an acquaintance).  I couldn’t help but overhear their entire conversation as they stood right in front of me.

I started feeling annoyed by this privileged aging princess who was saying some really conceited sh*t while standing in front of me.

She kept adjusting her expensive clothes and checking out her unlined face.  I got the feeling she wanted others to hear her talking.

“…so I’ll be headed to the Amalfi Coast early June.  My friends are already there so all I have to do is show up, you know.  How easy is that?” she said as she looked around.

My annoyance began to bubble.

“Fuck you and the Amalfi Coast.  Why don’t your privileged ass just stay there and DRINK SOME KOMBUCHA, YOU BOTTOM BELLY!”

That’s when I realized that the only thing separating me from the raging lady earlier was that she said her stuff out loud while I shouted on the inside.

What we shared in common was that we took out our “stuff” onto perfect strangers who happened to push our exposed triggers.

I didn’t know this lady at all but suddenly, my wounds regarding the Haves and Have Nots, my family’s struggles and er, their lack of Amalfi Coast vacations even in the sunset of their lives, were easy to lash out against her bright white Prada purse and unnaturally unlined, pampered face.

Suddenly, I wasn’t myself, not the self that I know.  I was eyeing my Tory Birch tote bag and Gucci watch, both purchased during our Double Income No Kids days, as if those trifling labels proved my worth before this wealthy lady.  I couldn’t believe myself.  GROSS!

My lightweight Costco Calvin Klein coat that every other woman in Queens was sporting this winter and my black jeans, also from Costco, suddenly deemed me Less Than!?

I may have to give this kombucha tea a try though.  Amalfi Coast, perhaps another time. Who said the subway wasn’t educational?

Unintentional Hurts Still Hurt

“I thought about it and I want a baby sister.  Then one day, when Mommy and Daddy are gone, I can have Ellis as my dad and my sister, Sarah, as my mom.  Words have power, right?  So now that I said that, I might get a baby sister?”

Micah laid that on Kevin when they stepped outside for some fresh air during a lovely Manhattan wedding this past Saturday.  I may have schooled him too much on the power of words.  For a time, he and Ellis have said they only want each other as siblings because they love each other the most but Micah has amended it here and there. Micah wants two more siblings named Sarah and Ope.  No “H.”

He is four so it makes sense that he wants to be mothered and fathered, even setting up provisions so that he can ensure a lifetime of being parented.

At my age, however, it shocks me when I feel an acute need to still be mothered and fathered, almost like physical hunger at times.

Yesterday was Sunday, Bonus Day TWO of Truly Spring-like Weather.  Folks in NYC were NOT taking it for granted.  In fact, we were treating it like a holiday weekend, just Halleluyerin’ as we soaked up the much needed rays.  It was in the 60s and windy at times but for us on the East Coast, it was everything.

I had already left my meeting at church to meet my family in the parking lot. I had beat them to the car for once.

When I spotted the boys walking down the stairs, I beamed and put out my arms for them to run right into.  It’s always such a treat to catch their expressions when they first notice me watching them from afar.

We were whoopin’ and hollerin’ like we hadn’t seen in other in months and bear hugging.

I began to beam even more when I heard that Micah had been able to go to the older kids’ class instead of redshirting himself to stay with Ellis in the younger kids’ class.  Micah was smiling so big, like Denzel and Matt Damon, proud of his milestone, as he stepped onto a tiny ledge on the side of the building.  Right at that moment, I leaned down towards him to pull him into another bear hug.

His skull connected with the bridge of my nose. We couldn’t have synchronized it better.

Everything appeared in slow motion as I winced and rivers of tears began to flow.  I was blown away by the pain.  I wanted to curse but the pain had rendered me speechless.  I had been beaming just seconds ago but now I wanted to get to the car as soon as possible to bawl my eyes out in private without worrying about running into a sea of familiar faces.

I glanced at Micah.  His eyes had teared up, too, from some pain but he seemed to be recovering without a peep.  It hadn’t hurt him as much since it was his skull hitting my nose.

As we walked to the car, I noticed Ellis walking right behind a car that was going to back up.  I yelled out for him and snapped at Kevin, “Really?  I can’t even deal with my pain without having to worry that you have your eyes on the kids properly?”

Once I got in the car, I started crying audibly.  Straight blubbering.

I couldn’t believe how much it hurt.  I became downright mean to Micah.  It even surprised me since it was clearly just a mishap, an unfortunate accident and he is my four year old baby, not some clumsy adult who had clocked me.

In that moment, though the pain was legitimately causing me to shut my eyes tight as I continued to cry, I started crying about other things.  Things I had been lamenting but not been able to cry about.  Deeply personal things.

Kevin noticed that somewhere post blow to the nose, things had gone south and my scolding Micah was out of character.  My kids have unintentionally harmed my body parts many a time and I had never reacted like this.  Kevin tried to remind me, “It was an accident. He didn’t mean to crash into your nose like that.  You’re taking this too far.  Something’s going on.”


Flashback to a fight we had been having the night before.  Kevin had said that he NEVER hurts me intentionally.  I had said something similar to what I was screaming now.  UNINTENTIONAL HURTS HURT JUST THE SAME.

We had fun plans after church but I asked to be dropped off at home. On my own please.

I later apologized to Micah for overreacting.  “Micah, Mommy was in a lot of pain when you jumped right into my nose but you didn’t do it on purpose so it was wrong of Mommy to be so mean to you.  I don’t know why I was so mean.  I think Mommy must have been sad about some other things and when my nose got hit, it just made all my tears and anger pour out. Can you forgive me? I’m so sorry.”

“I forgive you Mommy.  But I have a question.  Why did you stand right there when I was about to jump?”  Good point.  The dude had flipped the script on me.  I had been livid that he jumped right into my nose when I was clearly in his path, but he logically asked the inverse of that.  Why did Mommy step into my jump?

Back to the wanting to be mothered and fathered even at my age.  I miss the times when I could call up either of them and just pour out my heart, no censoring.  What a gift that was.

I went to yoga tonight and at the end, when we were just lying there in corpse pose with our eyes closed, I felt such a warm presence on my forehead that I peeked to see if the teacher had stopped by my face.

It was a warmth I had never experienced before.  Perhaps it was the first time I had truly been able to relax in the last couple weeks but it felt like a parent was placing their warm palm onto my forehead, as if checking for fever.

Ladybug’s Landing

It’s been a couple months since I blogged. First, different things came up so I didn’t have the luxury of writing at night.  Then we made it back to LA for our annual trip home.  Well, MY home.

It’s been hard adjusting back to NYC life, my home of nearly ten years, after getting a taste of what my life could be like in a sunny, palm tree-lined land where I could see my family weekly instead of annually, and where my kids could grow up with my best friends’ kids.  I’m sure I said that exact same thing about a year ago. I just feel so done with everything.  The weather, the congestion, the potholes created by the snow, the commute to our car, the repeating myself over and over again as I hear the boys going back and forth between lovefest and fighting every few moments.

Even blogging and Facebook make me say, “Eh, why bother?” Life feels “thinner” or less full here away from the different way of life on the West Coast, away from the folks who’ve known me since I was a kid.  Or from birth.

Daily tasks are just plain harder to accomplish here where space is at a premium and you don’t know how freezing it will be on any given day.  To walk out the door still requires pre-bundling. Don’t even get me started on the huge disparity in customer service in SoCal vs my ‘hood.  Folks be asking how it’s going while they SMILE at me, assuring me to take my time, asking if I need help with anything!

Finally, at the risk of sounding REALLY Californian, people’s auras were downright different.  People were happy and light as they hiked through the canyons, not pummeled by constant cold weather and rush rush rush. I’ve been sighing too much.  I’m still surprised by adult life even at my mature age.  It sure takes a lot of energy to maintain a household, a family, a marriage, not to mention friendships, individual needs, wants, and goals.

Then I go through a cycle of guilt when I hear about a young mama passing away suddenly at the age of 30, or yet another unsuspecting soul being stricken with cancer.

In my recent rut, I wake up with my hands outstretched to the heavens, praying that God will give me strength for the day ahead when I don’t FEEL the motivation I used to have. The spring in my steps.  The extra boost of mom stremf.  My mojo is lost or at least temporarily misplaced.

It’s funny that in my slump, when the last thing I want to do is take care of other humans, my kids end up encouraging me when I least expect it. Just last week, I was probably sighing again as I refilled their drinks and got up to fetch another library book to keep them from asking for TV.  While up, I put away a few toys, threatened to throw away Starscream if I stepped on him again, and peeked at the cable box’s clock to see when I can just sit in silence with no one asking me for one more thing.

Ellis climbed right up onto my chest with his huge round eyes.  Like a cat. He peered right into my “I’m So Over This” gaze and pointed out solemnly and loudly, “Mommy, you so lucky.”


I didn’t feel lucky in that moment.  I felt like the kids’ fat maid who needed to get fired.

“Why is Mommy so lucky?”  I itched to know. He got even closer to my face, with his wet tulip mouth and no sense of boundaries.  He placed his pudgy hand on my forearm.

“Because a ladybug landed on you, Mommy.  At the beach, the ladybug landed on YOU.  You lucky, Mommy.”  He looked very serious like a little preacher.

I remembered. I remembered how we got to play at the beach on Kevin’s birthday during our trip to LA.  It was around 85 degrees that day, the day after NYC had yet another snowstorm.  So hot that we even got to go in the water.  I was able to wear short shorts.  And my beloved Crocs.

A light grey ladybug landed on me while we were eating our gas station samiches.  I wanted to take a picture because I treasure magical moments.  He flew away before I got to memorialize him.  We all oohed and ahhed that the ladybug had landed on Mommy of all people!

That memory had stayed with little E.  And he had felt the need to mention it now when I felt so very uninspired.  The night before Ellis reminded me of this moment, a couple weeks after it had occurred, I had actually Googled “meaning of grey ladybug” while I was supposed to be using the bathroom.  Just sniffing around for some magic or meaning as I struggled with the minutiae of life.

My dumpling son is right.  I am lucky.  Even when I don’t feel it.  It sounds so much better coming from his innocent face instead of well-meaning adults.

And even when I couldn’t yield a Google search result explaining that a light grey ladybug landing on you while at the beach can only mean that you will win the lottery that month. IMG_1091 IMG_1087 IMG_1081 IMG_1072