peanut butter cups and kit kats.

September 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

This week, I’ve had this insane craving for peanut butter cups. I don’t eat them often, but there was something about this week that made it difficult for me to abstain. In fact, I did the exact opposite and devoured an entire package of peanut butter cups from Duane Reade. I was probably a horrific sight to see after the crime, but it just felt right. It felt like being a kid again — before I knew that eating a whole pack of candy was the wrong thing to do, before I knew anything really.

When I was young, there were these special nights when Papa came home from work with treats for my older sister, Dianne, and me. Ate Dianne usually got Crunch Bars or something of the like, but I always got Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kats.

I never knew why Papa always got me peanut butter cups and Kit Kats. I don’t remember telling him that I favored the two types of chocolate, and, actually, I have always been pretty impartial. I’d eat anything. Nevertheless, Papa would come home with those treats in tow, each type seemingly chosen with one of his daughters in mind.

Maybe he wanted to be consistent. Maybe he saw how savagely I devoured them when he first gave the peanut butter cups to me, and he thought, “Well, that’s what Milna likes best!” Maybe that’s all the store had. Maybe it was random. Or, maybe he wanted to make it a tradition, something sweet for his daughters to remember him by.

It happens to be one of the few things I do remember so vividly about him. It makes me wonder about him. I wonder where he got them from. Was it from schoolkids selling candy for a fundraiser? Was there a store near his dealership in Jersey City? Did he stop by there every few days to pick up lotto tickets?  And, while he was on line, did he throw the chocolates on the counter and add it to his bill? Did he think to himself, “While I’m at it, might as well? For the girls.” Did he even think in English?

I don’t know, and I wish I could ask him. It may not seem like any of this really matters, but there is so much I’d ask him if I could talk to him today. And it wouldn’t have to be deep. It wouldn’t have to be life-changing. I wouldn’t need to know if he was proud of me or what he’d do differently about his life.

I just want to know more about him.

As time passes, I feel that I forget more and more about my father. I knew him when I was too young to know anything, to appreciate anything, to savor anything.  Sometimes, I think that I’m forgetting the sound of his voice. Like I’m losing what little I have left of him. And that’s frightening to me.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of another year in what’s been a lifetime of growing, learning, and living without my father. Perhaps that’s why my subconscious craved for a piece of my innocent past, a taste of what I once had.

A father who brought home peanut butter cups for his youngest daughter, the one he’d never really get to know too.

Never the easy route.

February 28, 2011 § 4 Comments

Every now and then, I like to read my past journal entries and blog posts. Most recently, I took a peek at my mind as it was in February 2010.  I love to do this, and I’d encourage anyone to keep a journal. It’s an amazing thing to look back at a version of yourself — your emotions, opinions, ideas from one moment in time, captured for all time.

Today, I almost forgot what it was to feel like I did last February. I was in a fog. I couldn’t see forward or backward. I felt I lacked direction, purpose, meaning. By then, I’d already applied to Columbia’s Postbacc Premed Program, and was anxiously awaiting their response. I worked robotically through the days. Writing what I was told to write. Speaking in the voice of someone else.

Then, the response came in March. It said, “Get set, go,” and I’ve been moving at the speed of light ever since — almost without a moment to think about what life is now, and what life was then. I won’t lie. The premed lifestyle has been crippling. It has taken over my entire life. It dictates whom I see and when I see them, what I do and when I do them. And despite the long hours, the insane pressure to be perfect, the never-ending workload, I’ve never felt so energized. I’ve never felt so motivated. I’ve never felt more alive and capable.

I miss parts of my old life. Going home at 7 PM and turning my mind off. Meeting my best friends for yoga or dinner or a random weeknight bender. I miss money. I miss office parties and weeknight dodge ball. I miss art shows, concerts, Sunday brunches, and reading literature. I miss Saturday mornings in Takafumi’s arms, and Sunday nights with my mom. I miss having the option of taking on knitting as a hobby, and I miss having no reason to not do the things I like to do. In short, I miss freedom. I do. Just not enough.

Not enough to give up what I know I can become, what I can give, what I can do with my hands and my mind. And I know it’s going to be hard. I accept the challenge, and I will continue to accept every future challenge. It’s not the easy route, and it will take a lot of sacrifice, diligence, persistence, and a shitload of post-exam beers.

I signed up for this. As a dear friend said, “This is the life.”

So, get set, go. Every day, move.


December 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

I started taking pictures because I wanted to remember beautiful things, and as time passed, I began buying tools to help me capture those beautiful things more beautifully — spending thousands upon thousands on increased pixel counts, larger sensors, and wider apertures.

These days, with all my textbooks and the constant studying, I don’t get many chances to take my 7D along with me, to record the beautiful things I see every day. Forlornly, the camera collects dust with its older sisters on a shelf in my apartment — hardly used.

Meanwhile, down the street, I notice the way sunlight passes through a corner apartment, flickers and reflects off the window’s glass, and falls on an orange sign made of wood and words, “Men working” on Amsterdam Avenue. I think it’s touching how simple a moment can look and feel — and in that moment, I yearn for the 7D, but I carry nothing to record this tiny snippet of life. Only my mind and my words and a mental note to take a picture of it one day. If one day ever comes.

Sometimes, my mind will just have to do, but I find it sad that, in a few years, I won’t be able to look back and remember a specific second of unexpected appreciation. To remember how I was suddenly touched by something so forgettable, and how the world is so rich in moments like that. You feel something, and you move on. You are affected and then unaffected. I guess that’s why I write, why I take pictures.

I want to remember the beauty of experience.

I want to remember the amazing minutia, the bits and pieces, the forgettable moments, and then I want to make them last forever.

state of the union

June 10, 2010 § 2 Comments

Remember what Yeats said when Ireland was coming apart in the beginning of the 20th century:  “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity.”

the girl I met on Fifth Avenue.

May 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Katie on film, Coney Island.

simpler days.

May 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

On film, taken in 2007 on an epic Cinco de Mayo.

a charmed life.

November 12, 2009 § 1 Comment

In the twilight of a breezy night in Montego Bay, under skies where stars shine brighter than in the pink evenings of Newark, I waded in a lima bean-shaped pool, surrounded by the voices and faces of my childhood. These faces seemed only slightly changed from the way they looked back then. Maybe a little older today, maybe more laugh lines and crow’s feet, maybe more experiences weighing down on their shoulders.

Yet the feeling stays the same. This unbelievable sense of safety. This knowledge that, as long as you have these people loving you, the world is going to keep on turning, and you will always be just fine.

I think about my family often. Especially these days, when I’m questioning most things around me, wondering and wandering around, trying to find a home for my mind and my ambitions. I think about my heart’s contentment when I am with them. With people who have never done anything but love me and push me forward, and when I push myself too hard, they’re the ones who calm my restless nerves and my flightbound feet. And they bring me back to earth.

I have always been so thankful for the charmed life they’ve given me, and I will continue to be profoundly honored to call them my own.

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