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Why America Needs Refugees

A few months ago, I was moved by a young girl skipping rope in a refugee apartment complex in Denver.

While she and her family may be struggling daily in ways that I can’t understand because of my unsolicited abundant life, they have changed the life of my friend Molly. Not only her life, but those of the people around her, like me. I’m still blinking in disbelief because I so often choose to close my eyes and the light is only going to keep streaming in.

enjoy this reblog:

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Yesterday, I went back to visit my former apartments. The beauty and chaos of the 3-tiered brick-on-concrete low-income-housing buildings located right off the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Route 225.

Sandwiched between streets that have only letters for names, construction projects, and strip malls with cell phone stores, liquor marts, and fast-food joints are the Shadow Tree Apartments.

I suppose the name comes from the few scraggily evergreen trees clinging to life in the middle of the cement  courtyards of “A” and “B” buildings.

I haven’t visited often this past year. Not as often as I’ve wanted to, and certainly not as often as I’ve thought to.

There was the time I showed up with bags of items to drop off that were given to me by my sister’s former roommate (the contents of which were quickly claimed and made new homes to grinning faces). I saw an 8th

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Two Decades

I’m frantically writing a blog post as I reflect on the last few days of wedding preparation.

 

Don’t be alarmed, there’s no ring on my finger.

 

It’s that of a friend whom I have known for more than 20 years. A friend who has been by my side through thick and thin (she being the thin and I was the former). A friend at whom I shook my head for years because there were times where she was just beyond me. And then a friend who received the same head-shaking in recent years because of my delight at who she’s become.

~1995

[around 1994]

Now, after two decades, I get to see her walk down the aisle and marry a man who cherishes her deeply. We’ve seen our share of hurt, of mistreatment, betrayal and even abuse. Now her story will be marked by a new beginning – where another friend will be by her side for hopefully more than twenty and beyond years.

[before 2002]

[before 2002]

 

 

Don’t worry, Yong Hee. Janet and I will always be around.

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#whatinnaeworld?! Bay Area Edition

I thought NYC was exclusive.

 

However, I was awakened to the rarity of certain dim sum options in the Bay Area thanks to two cousins who went to a restaurant and then returned the next day because this dish wasn’t available the first time.

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You’re looking at (what’s left of) 1 of 6 crispy pork belly portions that are served each day at Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae, Calif.

ONE of SIX.

We made sure to come before noon AND tell the primary server we were here to get this particular plate. It was hand-delivered (versus cart-delivered) as a result.

Was it worth two days of dim sum in a row? Go try it.*

Happy eating!

 

 

*Okay, fine, it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Go.

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#whatinnaeworld?! Lisbon Edition

Seeing that I just wrote about how Lisbon’s history has touched my heart, I figure I’ll head back there for this #whatinnaeworld?! post.

 

A seemingly ordinary sight, no?

free

free bread box!

 

FACT: This is not complimentary. I repeat, not complimentary. In fact, you will get charged for any seeming courtesy treats before your meal in Portugal, and even in restaurants in Spain. That includes bread, olives, cheese, you name it. So be sure to turn it away unless you really want to carbo-load before your entree arrives. Don’t worry, this tip IS free, no charge 😉

 

Happy Monday!

Earthquakes

Remember how I realized that I’ve explored two cities this summer whose goal is to be bizarre?

 

Another fun fact: I’ve also ventured through two cities whose identities have been heavily molded by an earthquake’s devastation.

 

I have never experienced an earthquake (knock on wood – preferably a sturdy doorframe). This is rather surprising, seeing that I called California home for years, visited the state frequently and am now considering it as a future home. However, even without the personal experience, I feel aghast at seeing what such a natural disaster can undo.

The Carmo Convent: ruined in 1755, still beautiful today.

The Carmo Convent: ruined in 1755, still beautiful today.

 

It is even more gasp-inducing to see what humanity can re-do afterward.

 

In Lisbon, my sister and I stumbled upon the work of a pair of designers who have captured the personality of Portugal in childlike cartoons.

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(courtesy of Soma Ideas)

A poem accompanies each city or national icon. For Portugal’s capital, one line immediately held my attention.

(courtesy of Yelp.com) Urbanity risen from an earthquake.

(courtesy of Yelp.com)

Urbanity risen from an earthquake. 

 

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Saints Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco

National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi (photo courtesy of about.com)

National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi             (courtesy of about.com)

 

These churches are also the progeny of a post-earthquake era. Both existed before 1906. Both fell in that year. Now both have been born again.

 

“Born again” has a spiritual association, and I profess to fall into that Christian category. Joining my spiritual life is now my professional life. Please don’t misinterpret this: my decision to leave a career does not compare to the pain and destruction experienced in an earthquake. I am, though, starting anew. What existed before is no longer in front of my eyes, and I have to envision, reimagine what will stand there in the years to come.

That’s why the tales of these shifting tectonic plates has so grabbed me. Look at the beauty around you. Humanity is a people of resilience. Of strength. Of determination. In a time of desolation, the answer is not, “Let me leave.”

 

Instead, it has been, “Let me live.”

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As I survey what is no longer there in my everyday, I pray for an existence greater than what was before.