Monday, January 19, 2015

I Have a Dream

Racism and hatred are two of the ugliest concepts that plague our world. Hatred is the destroyer of men. While violence, words, and deeds carried out in hatred can destroy lives and property; it is the hatred within that causes the most destruction to our societies and to our souls. Our greatest enemy is the devil, who hates us all and wants us to hate each other. Shall we glorify him by fostering the hate and giving in to it? Perhaps, our greatest enemy then is ourselves, since the devil can suggest the hate to our psyche, but he can’t make us savor it. That is the choice we make for ourselves.

Some people can only feel hatred for what they don’t understand, calling what they see "ugly" without looking to see what is underneath...while if they looked behind their own mask they would see the true ugliness that defines the ugliness they see in others. 

I believe that Jesus had an additional agenda when he said to love our enemies, that it was not merely for the sake of love that he commanded us to love them. If we loved our enemies and did good things for them, helping them and blessing them, how could we still hate them and call them our enemies? Now if only all the people of the world could grasp that as well.

   Martin Luther King Jr. said:
   "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.... The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
   "Now first let us deal with this question, which is the practical question: How do you go about loving your enemies? I think the first thing is this: In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing self. And I’m sure that seems strange to you, that I start out telling you this morning that you love your enemies by beginning with a look at self. It seems to me that that is the first and foremost way to come to an adequate discovery to the how of this situation." --Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968)
   "A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and every time you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points." ~Martin Luther King Jr.

I wrote this about 20 years ago:

“What’s Up, My Brother?”
I was walking down a common road, a simple day like any other
When a black man said to me, “Whassup, my brother?”
At first I gave no thought to what the guy had said
But then I saw the light, and the truth in my head

Different colors to the eye
But why the discord? I don’t know why
Racism is the devil’s lie
We must overcome; it’s worth the try

The Father creator made us each a certain way
Two different forms from one piece of clay
He made him black; he made me white
He made him dark; he made me light
But we both came from the same ancestral mother
It’s time to remember, we are each the other’s brother

God the Father, God the Son
Creator and redeemer loving each and every one
God the Holy Ghost favors neither one the most
Together when we reach Heaven
Side by side we’ll meet the Host

Combined on this Earth we compose the human race
We can’t judge a man by the color of his face
We are each the same, no different from the other
Which was emphasized today when a black man called me brother!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Its a Holiday, Holiday

December 24th, 1945...

It's just you and I on this silent night
We're together again; we survived the plight
There are gifts under the tree and a crackling fire
You made a wonderful dinner, a big holiday feast
The war is over; thank God we have peace
We had been brought together by fate
Then separated by a world filled with hate
The dark days of battle were scary and gray
But the dark days are passed on this Christmas holiday

I remembered you always through my fear and frustration
You were my inspiration in a war torn situation
All around me were the sounds of gunfire and shelling
I had no way of telling, if I'd ever see you again
The air smelled of death and the blood poured like rain
It was a contest and a conquest with nothing to gain
Thank God the war is over; I'm away from the pain
It's time to give thanks and pray
It's a holiday, holiday

I remember my first battle, when I shot a man face to face
All that shooting and killing, God what a waste
Maybe he had a wife like mine, who loved him the same way
Now they'll never be together for a Christmas holiday
Someday soon we'll have a son and a daughter
I hope by then I'll be over the slaughter
We'll be a family, and we'll be together
For those days and more, let us earnestly pray
And thank God on this Christmas holiday

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Someone Else’s Storm

Last year, a few days before Thanksgiving, this happened…

For the past few weeks my new co-worker has been driving me home from work so it’s been a while since I’ve had to take the bus home. I’ve never asked him for the rides home, he volunteered and I’ve been grateful for them. Aside from saving the bus fare, it enables me to get home a full 40 or so minutes earlier. My lack of transportation isn’t my co-worker’s problem, but he makes it his desire to help me out.

A few nights ago however he had a commitment that required he leave work early, but it was no big deal for me to jump on the bus home. I’ve been doing that for the better part of the last few years so why not, right? The only thing was, I was going to need to jump on a 2nd bus since I needed to buy something at Walmart, a short diversion away from the regular bus route.

While waiting at the bus stop for the 2nd bus to pick up, it started to rain. I opened my umbrella and turned to the very young woman sitting beside me, and asked her if she wanted to grab some dry space under it. It didn’t require her to scoot close to me; it only meant that I would hold it between us so it extended over both of our heads. She agreed thankfully; thankful for the protection from the rain, and thankful for the kindness of a stranger.

We started talking. She was 20 or 21, less than half my age. She was also quite pretty. Now before you think that you know where this story is heading, no, it didn’t go there. That’s not what developed between us. That is not what this story is about. She opened up and started talking, and talking, and really talking; about personal problems between her and her ex-boyfriend, and other life issues.
“I’m sorry” she said. “This is so weird. I just needed to talk to somebody.”

Under normal cases I would have thought, why is this stranger telling me her personal life and how did I get stuck here? I have enough of my own problems, problems I literally don’t share with close friends because I don’t want to talk about them. As much as I don’t feel up to sharing my problems with others, do I really want to sit on a bus bench and listen to some stranger talk about hers? I have my own storms to deal with.

It rains on all of us, just the same.
I don’t know why, but I liked her. She was a stranger and she obviously needed something from me. It wasn’t money, it wasn’t a ride, it wasn’t food. It was raining, and she needed to be dry. And I had an umbrella. But that wasn’t what she needed.

The bus came. We got on. It was crowded. We sat apart. She got off at the stop in front of the store near where she lived. My stop. She got off, I exited behind her. We started talking again. I told her where I was going, and she decided to tag along.

“I just need to talk to somebody.”

We walked across the long parking lot to the front of the store. The rain had stopped, so I closed my umbrella. We sat on the window ledge at the front of the store and talked for the next half hour.

Her ex had broken her heart. She had lost a lot. She had left another state behind to move here with him, and then he had left her for another. There were times since when she’d felt alone. Few friends to turn to. Days of depression, nights of loneliness. Occasional thoughts of suicide. I understood her. I felt her emotions. I have been there. Years of struggling with depression. Occasional thoughts of suicide. One attempt at it when I was a teen, another near-attempt in my early 20’s, some serious thoughts about it in the years after. I had been there. I felt her. I knew.

I shared some stories with her, the disasters in my life, the mistakes I’d made, the failures I’ve had, the pains I’d suffered, the striving to obtain positivity in my life and leave the negative thoughts behind; the times I’d managed to do that, the instances where I’d fallen short of it. I told her about the time a woman I’d fallen for had broken my heart, a woman who I’d put my trust in to bring happiness into my life; how friends later told me I needed to rely on myself first for happiness, and all other things were a bonus. That’s what I advised her.

Bake your own cake first; rely on another to apply the frosting afterward. Don’t entrust someone else to add the frosting before you have a solid cake to base it on.

I told her I was old enough to be her father. I had years of mistakes behind me, and years of experience in moving forward anyway. We talked more about suicide. I told her that no matter how bumpy the street was, no matter how long the dark road was, you never know when the smooth road and the answers you seek were up the block and around the corner. If you give up and crash your car now, before turning that corner, you can never know how close the solutions to your problems are.
If you don’t go the distance to get out of the rain, you will never know that the means to find peace is right where it’s dry.

She agreed with me. She trusted in God to watch over her. She won’t kill herself, though it’s hard to not think about it from time to time. I know. Been there done that.

She trusted God, but she found it hard to trust others. She felt like she didn’t have any true friends anymore. I told her she was wrong, she had a new friend, a true friend. She looked into my eyes and smiled, as I took her hand and shook it. We exchanged phone numbers and she used her phone to add me to her Facebook. She then asked me to check on her from time to time; I said I would, and I will (since then, we’ve spoken via text, and she says she is feeling better).

It’s amazing how God brings people into our lives when we need it most. He put kindness into the heart of my co-worker to drive me home every night. And the one night that he couldn’t help me, I took the bus again, and wound up on that bench next to that girl in the rain. Right where I needed to be.

A while back I’d written a new saying, a philosophy about sharing an umbrella and something more. It was this past Monday night when I’d met the girl at the bus stop, but it wasn’t until the next day that I reflected on what had happened and connected it to that saying; that I’d finally practiced what I preached. When I first wrote this little message it seemed Hallmark-ish, even corny; but now it seems more like a foreshadowing. It went like this:

“Be the umbrella in someone else’s storm. You may not be able to stop the rain, but at least you can help them stay dry and share a smile under the covering.”

Saturday, June 21, 2014

She Dragged Me by the Hem of Her Oriental Dress

When I go to the Chinese buffet I go hungry. How hungry? Well, hungry enough to sample everything on the buffet line and then some. There was one time in particular when I ate so much that at the end of the night they discovered one of their waitresses was missing. Naturally, they suspected me.

I was strung up in the air by my feet, with my mouth hanging open.  The manager demanded accusingly, “What yoo do with mai waitress? Yoo eat her too?” 

How awkward. The situation turned into a personal crisis when they called in oceanographer Matt Hooper, and he arrived and began measuring my mouth and checking for bite radiuses. Next, he wanted to slice my stomach open and search for remains of the missing Chinese waitress. I was unable to protest from the dizziness of hanging upside down, and I remained motionless like a dead fish. Then the mayor arrived and I heard him say under his breath:

“Let's be reasonable, huh? This is not the time or the place to perform some kind of a half-assed autopsy on a patron... And I'm not going to stand here and watch that thing cut open and see that little Chinese woman spill out all over the dock!”

One of the waiters handed Hooper a flashlight and he shined it into my throat, while two more waiters began to shake my suspended body violently. It wasn’t long before I felt a bulge working its way up from my rather large belly.

Hooper shouted encouragement to the two waiters. “I see something! Shake, shake, shake!”
Finally I convulsed and gagged, and amid a rather loud belch, out popped the missing Chinese waitress. She fell to the floor below, shaken and drenched and gasping for air.
“Why yoo do dat? I not on menu, mista pig! I go home now and take shower.”

Awkward! I looked up rather embarrassed at my accusers and shrugged my shoulders. “Isn’t that weird? I have no idea how she got in there!” I don’t think they bought it.

The next time I arrived there, I heard the sheriff tell the manager nervously, “You’re going to need a bigger buffet.” I also noticed a new sign on the wall, a disclaimer. “All you can eat…but waitresses not on menu.” Oy, how embarrassing.

A family member, who has seen me both dining on small dinners at home and other times making 3 to 4 trips to the buffet line and sushi bar, told me that my dining habits were a mystery. How was it that I could, in some instances, be satisfied with the small quantity of a frozen dinner, while at other times at a Chinese buffet eat like there was no tomorrow? It was a conundrum, he claimed, and quite possibly a paradox.

I explained to my bewildered relative that a meal is like sex. Settling down with a frozen dinner (thawed and heated, of course) was akin to having sex with one woman in a monogamous relationship. I loved the one small dinner. I enjoyed the one small dinner. I was satisfied with the one small dinner. The one small dinner was all that I needed to get through the night. But unleashing me at a Chinese buffet, however, was akin to setting me loose at an orgy with a wide selection, a varied collection, of gorgeous and generous women. With the one dinner, all that I wanted/needed was the one woman to get me by. But at the buffet, the metaphoric orgy, there was temptation everywhere and I wanted to have sex with as many dishes as possible, as many times as possible. It is simple: Give me one dish and one dish makes me happy. But give me unlimited dishes, and multiple options, and I am ecstatic.

If what I’ve just described somehow gets used in the next American Pie movie I sure as Shinola better get royalties!

So there you have it, one of the reasons why I so love the Chinese buffet. Visualize me now with a broad satisfied smile, and an even broader belly. What you may find odd is that when I was younger I was not a fan of Chinese food. I was more of a pizza and burger man and I’d normally have to be persuaded to go for Chinese food. Yet now I just can’t seem to get enough of it.

Stranger still is that in my teen years, I did not care at all for Asian women in a romantic sense. Their features simply weren’t attractive to me then--what a fool I was! Now I am enamored with them and I adore their exotic features, their mannerism, their culture, their style, their gracefulness, and their sensuous loveliness, et all. An Asian woman, whether she be Cambodian, Chinese, Japanese, Burmese, etc., is a special woman indeed. Not only are they precious but I’ll bet they can cook! 

About a decade and a half ago, when I worked in the retail field as a department manager, I had one particular employee who was a bundle of energy and delightful to work with. Her name was Thanh, a Vietnamese girl, and she was bright, sunny, slender and elegant. If you look up the meaning of her name, those adjectives are exactly what the name describe. Thanh often bounced around me as we worked, always gleaming her cheerful nature and ever-present smile. It turns out she had other ideas for me, though. One night, Thanh had me to her home for a family gathering, a dinner party that included not just her parents but friends and many relatives. I knew she had a crush on me, but I hadn’t know how deeply it went, and as a manager with responsibilities (and workplace caution) I had chosen not act on my employee’s crush. Little did I know how far she wished to take it.

Her parents questioned me extensively. “Why yoo single? Why no marry? Do yoo wanna to marry? Yoo like Vietnamese girls? They cook for yoo, treat you special, love yoo for rest of life.”

Love me long time?

It seemed as if they were interviewing me as a potential husband for Thanh. Then I realized, it didn’t only feel like that, they were! She was cute, she sure was cute and sweet, but I kept my interests professional. Maybe that was a mistake, and a missed opportunity. At the time, though, I did not think I was ready; not for an Oriental wife, not for any wife at that time.

But enough digressing. Are you hungry? Let us return to the Chinese buffet, shall we? 

Whenever I go to my favorite buffet, either with friends for dinner or lunch by myself, the waitresses greet me with familiarity each time, for by now they know me, and my habits well. The sushi chef announces when she sees me that she had plenty of my favorite sushi varieties prepared. Several of the women are quite cute, some are very pretty, and a handful are downright beautiful. One day I had gone there alone for lunch. I was reading a science fiction novel at the time, a Star Wars novel to be exact, and I brought it with me to read while I ate. Yes, I know, I’m a geek. What can I say? I value my Me-Time, a time to relax and ease into my imagination, and what better way to do that than with a science fiction book over my favorite meal?

One of the waitresses, Xin, a Chinese woman who was beautiful and elegant, refilled my diet soda and noticed the book I was reading. She recognized the cover title and asked,
“Yoo like Stah Wah?”
“Yes I do, I’m a big fan. Do you like sword fights and space battles?”
“Ever-body like that, it fun,” she answered, and wiped the space between us as if holding a lightsaber, with a “Wooosh…woooosh!” sound.
She then extended her hand and pointer finger out as if it were a laser gun, and mouthed her imitation of the gun noises in the movies.
“Choo-choo-choo!” Then she went on her way with a smile.

Another day, another lunch, and I showed up with a notebook and a pen. The waitress who arrived to take my drink order before I headed up to the buffet, saw my writing gear and promptly noted that: “You write so much, I see you write all time. Yoo write new blog now, new story?”
Ah, they all know me so well. They know my eating styles, what sushi rolls I prefer, what drink I always get, what I like to read, and what I so often write. They may also know which of their own I’ve had my eye on most of all.

There was one woman in particular who stands out above the rest, who radiates her loveliness like an aura around her; around her vicinity, wherever she stands. She is the woman I look forward to seeing most when I go there, the girl who most commands my attention, fascination, and interest. Her name is…wait for it, I love the way it sounds…

Mi-Cha, Mi-Cha, Mi-Cha…oh how I crave thee. She was so cute, so pretty, so beautiful, oh so breathtaking.
She is sweet, petite…
Just a few inches above five feet,
Well groomed and always neat,
Talking with her was always a treat,
A special woman I’d never mistreat,
A gem who would make my meal complete,
A woman so special, so sweet and petite; rinse, lather, and repeat!

Now, this is not Mi-Cha, but it reminds me of her. This here is my favorite Asian actress Zhang Ziyi, and Mi-Cha's face is very similar:

Although her hair is much longer, like hers:

Again, not Mi-Cha, but fairly close:


I tell you, I wanted to make love to her even more than before. When finished, I wanted to make love to that dress too! When I inquired about the dress, Mi-Cha told me that her new look was the custom of her people, and she wore it to honor her background. I told her that I appreciated the gesture, and admired her for it. Her smile showed pride in her ancestry, and her gait showed confidence.
She looked a little bit like this,

 ...and a lot like this:

Somebody once expressed to me their observation that Asian women kept to their own culture and mode of dress and made little attempt to learn complete English or assimilate into American ways. “I don’t like how they live and work here yet refuse to be Americanized,” was what that person had said to me.
“Is he crazy?” I thought. “Stay Asianized, Mi-Cha, stay Asianized!”

I once joked with Mi-Cha that they should put my photo in a frame on the wall above the front counter, since I was their most frequent and loyal patron. She smiled but remained quiet, unsure, as she did not quite understand the gist of my attempt at wit, and evidently the concept of hanging photos of patrons---famous or otherwise—was as foreign to her as the language of the land. Her English is touch and go, you understand, and I’d say that the nature of my joke was lost in translation.

I knew that Mi-Cha’s lack of full capabilities of the English language could make conversations and dating difficult, so I hesitated making a move. There were other reasons that held me back from seeking out a relationship at that time, related to difficulties in life and career at that time. Suffice it to say, I procrastinated. To be honest when I am in a relationship I prefer to be able to give a partner all of me, not just the small parts left over.

But still, the feelings were growing. Her smiles were no longer forced, they were warm and genuine. Although lengthy conversation remained elusive, we found ways to chat briefly anyway, and I found ways to make her laugh. We often passed like two ships in the night though, coming close, wanting to get closer, but yet still too far apart to meet hull to hull. The sexual tension was increasing dynamically, and the buffet table was becoming more and more tempting to me, possibly to both of us. 

Mi-Cha, Mi-Cha, Mi-Cha…
How glad I am to meet ya
Your beauty is your prized feat-cha
How much English I’d like to teach ya
On my lap I’d like to seat ya
Like gold I’d surely treat ya!

I was ready to throw language barriers to the wind. It was time to man-up and simply ask the girl out. She might even say yes. Stranger things have happened. Then again, there was the language barrier issue that could be a problem…or was I merely making excuses by that point?

Then finally, one day the two ships bumped hulls, and the flares began firing. We were standing close to the buffet table when it happened. I looked down toward her, charming her with my smile, and her lashes fluttered and her eyes glowed back at me. The ships came together, our bodies touched, and touched again. Hungry patrons side-stepped out of our way as our bodies created friction and the heat rose.

We embraced and our mouths came together, our lips touching, sending the electricity of our long withheld passions through our finally unchained bodies. Her hands were around my neck, pulling me closer. My hands were around her sides, closing in behind her, rubbing her back as our bodies came together almost as one. I moved forward and she moved back, pulling me with her, pulling me closer, kissing me hard. I pushed her onto the buffet table and followed her body with mine, resting on top of hers and filling her with my affection, in more ways than one. She pulled me even harder against her gyrating body. My hands went into the food tray, and before long strands of lo mein and tasty sauce were on me and on her; on her bare chest as my hands slid over her soft, saucy breasts. I knew that what we were doing, and where we were doing it, was far from sanitary and that the Health Department would not approve.

She must have read my mind. “Yoo no worry about food,” she assured me, “We throw away, no one eat food we touch on our love buffet.” 

My hands were brushing her cheeks now, lightly touching them, lightly stroking the side of her face and neck, following that with soft kisses and the warmth of my tongue on her ear. It was enough for her to want to be closer to the feel of those hands, and she moved the side of her face into my open palm. I ran my fingers over her ear lobes, and then back to her mouth, trailing sweet and sour sauce across the outline of her jaw. She took my fingers in and licked the tantalizing sauce from my digits, enjoying the flavor as well as how it drove me wild. She kissed the side of my face as I kissed the side of hers, and kissed my ear as I had kissed hers

Enough of the appetizers, it was time for the main course. More of our clothes came off and were cast onto the floor beneath us. 

I rubbed creamy sauce over her bare chest, sliding my hands over them, caressing, squeezing, delighting them, and licking them, consuming the sauce from her tantalizing, delicious body. My tongue followed the trail of sauce over her breasts, her stomach, and into her belly button. I licked her clean as I would a plate after a delicious meal, making her my delicious meal, and followed with my tongue down below for another delicious meal below her belly button.

I did state that I delighted in Chinese food, didn’t I? It was then that I delighted in her, and caused her delight that made her body shudder. It was then that I recognized another edition to her daily diet; she was a pineapple eater—and I will leave that to your imagination, but it was in the taste.
Her thighs opened to me further and I moved myself forward, entering her juicy Mala Tofu with my hardened egg roll. Until that point she was a Thai girl, with possibly some Korean blood in her, most likely some Chinese food in her, and definitely at that moment, some American-Jewish in her as well.
A lot of Jewish.
But not anymore.
Not anymore.
Not anymore.
More, more, more--again and again, rinse lather and repeat…
Slick with her own flavoring, my egg roll slid in and out of the exquisite dish in metaphoric fashion. The two dishes, being cooked as one, reached maximum cooking temperature, and with the roar and bang of rockets firing on the Chinese New Year, she came to fruition and came hard she did. I was finished as well, and introduced a new dish to our private menu: The “Cumin sum yung gurll”. The fulfillment of the main course, enjoyed by both at the same time, was powerful and explosive. Perhaps the love making had drained me of all bodily fluids, because I was thirsty and parched. I needed a drink and fast! Where was my waitress?

Suddenly I was interrupted, jarred to attention and reality by the waitress at my table.

“Yoo want refill Mista Shine? I give more drink for yoo; yoo look like yoo like more drink,” the waitress poured more fruity fluid into my drinking cup, breaking my concentration and disrupting the current daydream that I had allowed to entertain itself and circulate within my mind.

“Thank you, hon,” I said as I raised the cup and drank from it between chews from the dish on the table before me. 

I spotted Mi-Cha crossing the length of the room, leading a family to an open table and handing them menus. Oh, how sweet it would be to touch that precious woman, to have her in my arms. If only I had ever had the courage to make a move and ask her out, instead of merely watching her from across the room. Then the buffet counter scenario might have more of a chance of being more than a daydream and a tall tale in my blog. 

If only…only if…if only.

So I continued to enjoy her beauty from afar, and the ‘what if” query remained unanswered.

I mentioned earlier that her name was “beautiful girl” in Korean. It could also have been Chin-Sun to me, “precious”. Or it could have been Mali, “flower”, or Milai, “calm and peaceful” in Thai; Xin Niu, “elegant girl” in Chinese; or in Japanese: Takara, Aiko, or Sachiko--“treasure”, “child of love”, and “bliss” respectively. Instead she was more like Haruk, meaning “far away, or distant”.

It seemed like I was at a tennis match watching the play by play action, my head going from side to side to follow the ball each time it crossed the court…but it was no tennis match. It was Mi-Cha walking back and forth between tasks. Each time she crossed the room my attention was ensnared, my eyes hooked and captured, and my gaze trailed after as if dragged by the hem of her Oriental dress.

On a return trip that took her closer again to my table, I marveled once again at how her gorgeous Asian face was accentuated by her flowing dark hair, how her sensuous body was accentuated by her exotic Oriental dress, and how her delicate hand was accentuated by the rock on her finger...
The second finger, of her left hand.
She had been single when we first met, but now she was engaged.
Damn. Too slow, too damned slow.

Take it from me:
Don’t wait to take a chance, because the chance won’t wait for you.

Thanks for reading my random, rambling thoughts. I hope this blog wasn't too long to handle but in this case, size matters. Do you have any thoughts of your own after reading my blog? If not, let me inspire some…

-Do you speak any of the Asian languages, or have you lived in Asia?

-What is your favorite thing to eat at your favorite Chinese, Japanese, or other kind of Asian restaurant?

-What, if any, Asian nation would you most like to visit?

-What is your favorite film set in the Orient?

-Do you have a favorite Asian actor or actress?