Essay: Aspirations, A Mother’s Hope

*EDITED*

While my Crosslites essay was not selected, I want to thank all of you for voting and supporting my studies! I appreciate you all so much. Here is my essay, for those who are interested.

Aspirations: A Mother’s Hope

As a refugee from the Vietnam War, my mother arrived to Canada as a teenager without a home or a language. She spent her time trying to assimilate to a life that has now become the only thing I know. She made ends meet with endless side-jobs, late nights, early mornings, prayers, a limited vocabulary, and an undying love for her children. With just enough money for food on the table, a quick bedtime prayer, and a homemade birthday cake, I have grown up grateful, gracious, and headstrong.

I will be more than my modest upbringing. I will persevere and be the woman I was hoping to become when I was a girl. As a child in the midst of poverty, my mother once had a woman who always came to her fruit stand: she was dressed in a business suit, carried her Bible, and had meticulously beautiful hair. She would always come and buy from my mother in particular, and my mother aspired to be a successful woman like her. I will be that woman for my mother, for myself, and for all girls in the world who live their lives aspiring. I will be more for the future of women.

Most of my life has been designed by men and for men. All of my adult life I can count the number of female bosses, teachers and professors on my two hands. I grew frustration through my lack of mentorship. I remember in grade five when my male teacher spoke to us about menstruation, I still had not grasped the idea through his uncomfortable and vague teachings. That summer when I got my first period, I thought I had hurt myself and I was going to die. This lack of understanding of my own body being taught to me by a man has fueled my desire for more women to take the lead on discussions about women, for women. An entire untapped market of a gender is being underrepresented, and I want to be that voice for the nine-year-old girl I once was, afraid of my own body.

My mother always told me that she worked hard so that I wouldn’t have to. I disagree. I am born from oriental perseverance and western opportunity, and I won’t settle until she never works a day in her life again. I am nothing without my mother and her hardship. I am nothing without my mother’s aspirations seeping through me to become that proverbial “woman at the fruit stand.”

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22

In daylight, I radiated its warmth
finding softness in the caress of another’s hands
I was told I was chosen because
I was the most vibrant, the
most desired in the whole plot.

Callused hands took me
displays in vase
water and sugar
you told me to take this as
a compliment

You’d watch every morning as I withered
you mourned me and thought
“She was so young, just so pretty,
if only she’d live on her own strength,”
but I did!
but I would’ve

You pulled me from the soil I had been nurtured by
so you could feed from my beauty.
You only gave me sunlight through the convenience of your window
when I had already inherited it from
the blossoms before me.

You’re not my saviour
(not that I ever needed one)
women aren’t flowers
underneath, we’re a complex
a web of intertwined roots

And you better believe that next time
our network of infrastructure will run so deep
you’d have to yank us from the ground
with all your might
if you ever want our sisters again.

21

Children killed by
a gun in a child’s hands
and all we have left
are grains of sand
slipping through our hands
fleeting, passing
until it happens again.

How can I not be sentimental
over lost time?

What if all of life was a bank
withdraw and deposit as we felt fit?
All those years those children will never live
placed in a pool
for anyone to fulfill.

A father on a deathbed
aching to walk his daughter down the aisle
buys a few years,
based on another’s sacrifice.
Just enough time to make a memory,
postpone the tears.
If only we could live on
borrowed time.

“How sad we have become,”
but have we really “become” anything?
we’ve become complacent
we’ve become regretful
of all the ways we’ve let them down
of all the children we couldn’t save.

Penmanship

For Christmas, Ben bought me a fountain pen and it changed the way I look at writing, transforming it from a task into an art form.
I know what you’re thinking: “what, like a quill and ink pot?” and: “why would you want that?” Well, the concept itself is quite modern, there’s even an entire subreddit about it!

Firstly, it’s not quite a quill and ink pot. I got the Lamy Safari fountain pen, which is considered a good introduction into fountain pens with refillable ink cartridges. It travels smoothly across paper, and really is a pleasure to use. See below a comparison of the Lamy fountain pen and a regular Bic ballpoint pen.

image2

image1

Secondly, while $34 for a quality pen is more expensive than a pack of standard ballpoint pens, it has been more of a personal change than a stationary one for me. Using the fountain pen makes the experience of writing feel purposeful.

I spend a lot of time curating and getting my numbers up for this blog that I often forget that writing is meant to be calming, reviving and cathartic. I used to stress so much about writing to impress others that I stopped writing for myself. 

Having a pen that glides along paper is so relaxing to me, I’m often just rambling on until I come across inspiration, and if I don’t, that’s okay too. I’m sure there’s plenty of us who write dozens of pieces and only post one!  I know it sounds silly, but having this small memento of self-care reminds me that poetry is art, and that really, I’m an artist. It’s important to take time for yourself, and to create content you’re proud of–the pen and paper you use is the first step.

P.S. the penmanship examples are lyrics from the song Three by Sleeping at Last, which is about the struggle of the Type Three Enneagram that I wrote my poem, 10, about. Give it a listen!

Would you consider buying a quality pen?
What are some ways you keep yourself going during the dreaded writer’s block?

20

The chorus within
swelled a rush of relief
a pendulum that had finally
acquired equilibrium

Tucking in my memories of you,
I slipped away quietly
into the night
with only so much as the
click of the door
behind me.

You gnawed through my wires
and instead of throwing you out,
I just kept buying more to replace
the ones you ruined.

I filled my home with ghosts
of all the traits I tried to make you into
of all the kind things I wished you’d say
hoping one day you’d
fill in the blanks;
all it left me with was
a haunted house.

A cabin, fevered
of seasons passing while I
stayed the same
my leaves, still in place
my flowers, still in bloom

You aren’t the sun
and I’m not just a
stained glass window
I am the moon, the stars
and you’re a telescope
and goddamnit,
you’re going to admire me.

19

Maybe I love you like
I love a friend’s photo albums:
distantly; a story apart from mine,
adoringly; happy for their happiness, or
curiously; questions I don’t
know the answers to.

Maybe I think of you like
a dream forgotten
by coffee brew.

But every afternoon at 3:39pm
hitting that midday wall
my sleepy yawn ignites a memory:
hard hands holding mine
dress shirts, hung neat
the clink of unmatched glassware

Dreamt dreams reminding reality
of a fever I couldn’t sweat out
of a nice heart I couldn’t melt
of a boy I swore I hadn’t met
but knew, somehow.

My mother warned me about him
while tucking me into
princess palace sleep:
“A hyena doesn’t always have
flesh in his teeth. Know enough
to stay away.”

But when the mercury rose too high
on that temperate thermometer
my mother also used to
keep me near a pot,
rolling boil, saying
“Stay as long as you can,
and you can sweat the toxins out.”

First Liebster Award!

What’s the Liebster Award?:

It’s an award in which bloggers nominate other bloggers for showing respect to their works and their dedication. It’s an appreciation and recognition for all the fellow bloggers out there in the blogosphere.

Rules:

A) Thank the blogger who nominated you in your blog post and links back to their blog.

Thank you Jay for nominating me! Even though you’re fresh on the scene (me too!) you’ve posted consistently and meaningfully–something that a lot of newer writers can’t quite seem to master. You also often use accompanying visuals to your posts, and it helps really convey that imagery, adding depth into your work. Thank you for everything you share!

B) Answer 11 questions that the Blogger asked you.

C) Nominate 11 new bloggers to receive the awards and write them 11 questions.

I’ve always seen these awards floating around and I’m so happy to finally receive one. I’ve only been live for four months, but I have about 1,200 followers that I love so much for their support. So hard to choose! These are the 11 blogs I am nominating:

https://thebeautifulmesste.wordpress.com/

https://eugenestickland.com/

https://emiratieyez.wordpress.com/

https://rjayofficialblog.wordpress.com/

https://dannstringer.wordpress.com

https://forresting365.com/

https://rodriyaki.com

https://meandmysimplethoughts.wordpress.com

https://norightnowrong.wordpress.com/

https://jdubqca.com

https://onewithclay.wordpress.com

Here is your questionnaire, my friends!

What is your earliest, happiest memory?
Describe your perfect afternoon.
Who do you call when you’re sad?
What was the best part of your week so far?
You’re about to paint. What’s the first colour you pick?
What does your favourite song make you think of?
What’s the name of the childhood friend you saw most recently?
Use the word “candlelight” in a haiku. Go!
What’s your best friend’s favourite hobby?
Who is someone you’re envious of?
Name three things you love about yourself.

D) List the rules and display the Liebster award logo in your post on your blog.

___________________________________________

If you were microscopically small what would you rather do and why?
A) Ski down a triple vanilla sundae
B) Row across a cup of hot chocolate on a marshmallow

I would definitely ski down the sundae! Not only does the alliteration satisfy me, but also because I love skiing anyway. The concept of rowing on a steamy mug of hot chocolate mortifies me, considering that I go to the gym a lot and I know for certain I am a very sweaty person. No one needs cardio to get any worse than it is!

Which do you prefer: Something cold to drink on a hot day or something hot to drink on a cold day?

Absolutely something cold to drink on a hot day—we keep coming back to me being sweaty! I find that summer days with a frosty gin and soda in hand has all these sweet memories woven in there. Also, I’m rarely ever cold. Hot drinks might be the tipping point in my body temperature.

Which one of the FRIENDS cast is your favourite and why?

I never really watched FRIENDS, but I know that I’m most similar to Monica. I’m very competitive, and everything I do must not only be the best I can do, but the best out of everyone. (I even wrote my poem, 10, about it!) Also, we’re both obsessive; something must be finished, polished, and most importantly, perfect.

If money was not a problem, what profession would you choose?

Something involving public speaking or singing! I love the stage and the euphoria of the first breath before the speech or the song begins.

Why did you start blogging? What keeps you going?

I originally went to university for English for two years, but found that the content wasn’t practical to consider for a career. I began a degree in public relations this year, and found myself with dozens of journals filled with stories, screenplay concepts and poetry I was still churning out—but no creative outlet to convey them on. I created this blog, elleguyence (a combination of my first and last name, pronounced Elegance) as a home for my words, and to find comfort in other writers. Like a puzzle our words fit into so neatly, the community is what keeps me going.

List 5 things on your work table.

Describe your favourite piece of clothing? How long have you had it?

Maybe my band camp shirts! I’ve had them since I went in high school. They just have this homey, comforting memory connected to them, of rustic cabins, music, songwriting, harmonizing, rock climbing.

Which is your most treasured childhood memory?

It would 100% be National Music Camp of Canada. I went because I wanted a more immersed musical experience that my high school didn’t offer. I paid my way, went alone, and to my shock I made friends I still talk to! I learned how to harmonize, create new music, and really just ease into how to be your own person, starting over with complete strangers. Plus, no social media and no phones! Just summer, trees, lake, and hundreds of inspiring artists that became my friends to brag about.

Who is your idol? (It could even be a fictional character)

I just finished reading Portia de Rossi’s Unbearable Lightness, and it was one of the first times I’ve really felt connected to a book. Her discussions about disordered eating and the pursuit of being perfect really resonated with me. She also talks at the end about how she has overcome adversity, and learned to stop thinking of foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but that at the end of the day, it’s all fuel. She is so inspiring and raw, I hope anyone who has ever suffered from these hurdles can find comfort in her. And read her book!

Which according to you is your most under rated blog post that should have gotten wayyyy more likes than it has?

I actually really enjoy 1. It came from a place of sadness in a relationship I was too young at the time to grapple with. I didn’t understand what addiction looked like, or how it could bleed into me. I still think it’s a great piece of work, but I also used it as my pilot for this blog—so I’m not too surprised it’s not as popular as my recent work.

Complete this sentence using at least 4 words: Life is not merely…

Life is not merely time in versus time out. Take a sick day, and don’t tell Instagram.