Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Candle

She sat at the kitchen table, motionless but hardly emotionless. Grace successfully wrestled the sobs that welled up inside. Yet it wasn’t so much an inner strength that contained those tears. Weary eyes and drooping shoulders were telltale signs of the fact that Grace was just too tired. Too tired to make the five hour train ride to turn in the money for her daughter’s tuition. Too tired to see the deception in yet another one of her husband’s promises of reformation. Too tired to cry upon hearing that David had gone off with the money only to drink and gamble it away—again.

Grace dreaded the conversation that she would have with the school’s administrator. She tried not to count how many times she’d gone through this already. Yet every time David sobered up for a few days she couldn’t help but hope that perhaps the man she thought she married was, in fact, the man he truly was.

Grace slowly moved over to her sewing machine, her hands gently smoothing the beautiful cotton dress that awaited its altering. While Grace remembered a time when this dress could have been hers, she was no longer the daughter of a wealthy businessman. Grace sighed as she glanced at her once delicate hands. The rough, needle-pricked fingers that toiled for hours each day seemed to mock her, causing her to quickly look away. Now she was a seamstress, YWCA sewing instructor, mother of four, and wife of an alcoholic, good-for-nothing gambler.

As she sat bent over the sewing machine, the room dark except for a candle that she kept for when David would come home from the bar, the voices of her friends and family echoed in her head, begging her to leave the sorry life that she was living. Grace angrily pushed those thoughts away attempting to focus on the up and down motion of the needle passing through the dress. She’d asked herself so many times why she continued to stay. Why she continued to wake up each morning, only to face the monotonous drone of the sewing machine and the endless pile of clothing that she would only be able to wear in her dreams, or vicariously through her customers. Suddenly Grace realized that she was finished with the dress. Done for the night, Grace turned off the sewing machine and wearily made her way to the bedroom. The stillness of the night was like a sanctuary to Grace as she lay down, her eyes wandering over to the shadows that danced upon the walls, the dark shapes choreographed by the constant movement of the candle’s flame. As sleep fell upon her, Grace breathed a silent prayer. That candle must not go out.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


She glided to the window, as if her feet were led by the slow, gentle rhythm of a waltz. Grace pulled the blinds shut, careful not to leave a crack. A hint of light struggled to filter through, but its efforts were useless. Giving a sideways glance to her brother, who was carrying a fan in from the next room, Grace looked expectantly at the door.
"John, is Bill coming today?"
She went over to the record player, attempting to look engrossed in setting the record in place. John gave her a mischievous grin as he shrugged. He flipped the switch of the fan on, then went over to where his sister stood. The steady hum of the whirling blades began to fill the room, singing along to "This Nearly Was Mine". He took a slow, sweeping bow before raising his hand to meet hers.
"Shall we dance?"

Their feet rarely missed a step, the steady 1, 2, 3 - 1, 2, 3 rhythm leading the way. As they waltzed around the tiny room, the fan still droning in the background, John's looming military service was almost forgotten, and only an occasional glance at the door reminded Grace of her own woes. Suddenly, the sound of a key turning in the lock interrupted Frank Sinatra's crooning voice, and as if doing an intricate routine, John ran to unplug the fan and return it to the next room as Grace removed the record and set the player in its original place. Just as the door opened, Grace quickly smoothed her dress and tucked a few loose strands of hair behind her ear, hoping that she didn't look too flushed.
"Grace, John! Come help me with the groceries," their mom ordered, as she made her way through the room and into the kitchen.
Grace breathed a sigh of relief as John gave her a quick wink.

That night, before she went to bed, Grace closed her eyes as she danced with an imaginary partner--preferably a tall, dashing young man--her feet gently keeping in rhythm.
How clear and deep are my fancies, of things I wish were true...


When my grandmother asked me to drive her and her friend to their first cha-cha lesson this afternoon, I had no idea what I would be in for. Needless to say I had a terrific time learning to cha-cha with a bunch of senior citizens. Sexy.
I love getting to hangout with my grandmother. Not only is she my hero (I could go on and on about why she is), but she spoils me rotten. Yep, definitely nothing to complain about. In between my broken Mandarin and her mixture of Mandarin, Taiwanese, and occasional (for my sake) English, we manage to communicate. I love her.
The story that I wrote above is based on my grandmother's own experience with dancing, which she told me on our way to the cha-cha lesson. In her time and culture, dancing was not exactly what upstanding and refined young people would do. So her younger brother found someone to teach them both to dance, and they would do so in secret--shutting all the blinds and turning on the fan so as to drown out the sound of the record player. I don't think their mother ever found out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Challenge

I like to challenge myself. You know, break free from my comfort zone. To think outside the Evangeline-box.

That said, I decided that this coming semester I will be filming a love story. Yeah, I know. Terrifying.

Now it isn't that I am super cynical of the whole "love story thing"... okay, so maybe I am. But you have to understand that my cynicism is quite founded. Thankyouverymuch.

So let me ask you this: What makes a love story?
The sad thing is that I am now going to have to clarify and refine my question: What makes a true love story? (Yes, "love" and "true love" appear to be different in this day and age.)

Stud meets Gorgeous. They're perfect for each other. They go for a stroll on the beach (and I'll leave it at that--let's keep it rated G). They're in love. The end.

Sure, I'm being terribly sarcastic and lame (I'm a pro, really)... but do you see my problem? What is a true love story?

I found a quote from an author that I, admittedly, never heard of... 'til I googled "true love stories"... yes, I am officially pathetic (but hey, google has the answer to everything!). Anyways, here's the quote from Richard Bach:
True love stories never end.
So what about those fairy tales? When "the prince and princess lived happily ever after. The End"? What if Cinderella realized that her night of dancing at the ball with Prince Charming was not enough to base their relationship upon? What if Sleeping Beauty began to wish that a different Prince Charming had kissed her and woken her from her slumber? Maybe "The End" doesn't belong in a true love story...

This might be a sign of my old age, but I am going to tell another story from when Hil and I were younger. We had this storybook called, "I'll Always Love You," and it was about a little boy and his puppy. The story is a bit foggy in my head, but what I remember is that at the end of it, the boy and puppy have grown up, and now the dog is about to die. At the very end of the story, the boy whispers to his faithful friend, "I'll always love you."

I hope the true love story that I film will have characters that will be able to say, "I'll always love you."

And truly mean it and live it.

(On a side note, I might not be filming a true love story until I can find a story that nails the "true love" part. I'll keep you updated.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

If I just breathe...

There’s something deliciously sappy about my bright pink nail polish (courtesy of Edy, age nine and already the nail polish extraordinaire) and the cheery rays of sun filtering through the window. Michelle Branch’s blast from the not-so-long-ago-past, “Breathe,” is blaring in my head, and I’m feeling on top of the world. Hello summer!

Did you know that summertime is worse than New Year’s when it comes to resolutions? At least for me it is. Three months of freedom (okay, so it’s a rather sketchy definition) and endless opportunities stare me straight in the face… and I can hardly catch my breath before I want to dive in and “do life,”—whatever that means. But then I kick myself and try to turn off that little voice inside my head that incessantly whispers, “Go, go, go!” I started a list during finals week, something along the lines of “Summer To-Dos.” It’s sitting in a recycle bin somewhere.

If I just breathe…

Why do I feel like I’m in control when I hold my breath? I remember playing a game when Hil and I were younger. We’d see how long we could hold our breath… I think I passed the two-minute mark once or twice. Sometimes I feel like I’m still playing that game. Reminds me of my Don-Rags question: Compare the supernatural fall (Satan’s fall) to the natural fall (Adam’s fall). Believe me, there is a connection to the game and the question.

If I just breathe…

I won’t be going home this summer. Just thinking about it still causes a queasy feeling in my stomach. So much for the whole “Miss Independent” thing—I just can’t quite pull it off. Can I say how excited I am that Hil is coming to visit? I’m smiling just thinking about it.

I am excited about this summer. I am growing up—regardless of if I want to or not. I am learning… if I just breathe

I almost forgot how wonderful it is to just sit down, think, and write. I’m not psycho-analyzing myself. I’m not laying out the next bajillion years of my life.

If I just breathe…

Hello summer!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Western New York Winter

Barren fields, haunted barns, cozy porches, & maple trees huddled together to brave the bitter cold. A blanket of snow shrouds this frosty image, and tire-imprinted roads frame the scenery as I drive by. My eyes linger on the beauty of the western New York landscape, trying to impress the breathtaking image onto my mind. There is something settled and all-knowing about a solemn, wintry day.

Your favorite rose bush, pet rock, and little brother’s action figure, disguised as odd lumps of snow that scatter around the yard: There is something about winter that reminds me of sin’s masquerade. Muddy tire tracks taint yesterday's white veil: There is something about winter that reminds me of my tarnished state. Intricate snowflakes dance in the frosty air, slowly covering the muddy marks: There is something about winter that reminds me of Christ’s atonement. Perennials peek through the blanket of snow, anticipating the day when Spring’s gentle rays will coax Winter away: And there is something about winter that reminds me of hope-—hope for Tomorrow and true anticipation for that Day.

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Why does my heart wander... when it has nothing left to seek? It is true that I am human, that I am finite and prone to stray. Yet God has worked so marvelously in my life that I cannot do anything but return, time and time again, to Him! So why can't I rest in Him? Yes, the words that Augustine so poignantly penned are true, "Our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee," and yet my heart is restless--restless to find rest!

Lord, still my heart... 'til I only dwell in Thee.

If to distant lands I scatter
If I sail to farthest seas
Would you find and firm and gather 'til I only dwell in Thee?

If I flee from greenest pastures
Would you leave to look for me?
Forfeit glory to come after
'Til I only dwell in Thee

If my heart has one ambition
If my soul one goal to seek
This my solitary vision 'til I only dwell in Thee
That I only dwell in Thee
'Til I only dwell in Thee
(Hymn, by Brooke Fraser)