Self-Love

I once was the secret friend of a girl in fifth grade. We’d sit together in the gym and play, she’d tell me ghost stories and I’d run after her in tag. But that was only in after-school. When she saw me in the daytime, when the cliques of other girls turned their noses up at me, she pretended not to know me. In those days, I thought that was something I had to accept and felt so lonely. I still struggle with liking myself as an adult, but no matter how lonely I feel, I’m never going to accept a friendship that erodes me again.

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Abandoned

When I was a little girl
My greatest sin was leaving
A kitten in the rain
Abandoned and alone, crawling along
the pavement, kneeling at my feet
Too afraid
To cuddle up to me

I reached down to stroke it
And it gratefully wiped itself dry on my jeans
Purring all the while

Want to keep it, I conferred with my sisters
Could not keep it, agreed with my sisters
And left it on the other side of the road
Crying after us

Nursemaid

Sick alone and suddenly I’m reminded of my mother picking me up in junior high and holding my feverish hand walking me to the doctor’s, grandmother’s homemade congee steaming in the porcelain bowl, her mouth blowing a spoonful to cool, my grandfather putting his cheek to mine to deduce whether the cough that rattles me is from a common cold or the dreaded flu, nights of vomiting and lying in bed ill and never having to get up to change the waste bin, the sour smell never there for long, chased out, and quiet murmurs trickling in that check on me in bed, my bedroom door easing closed before I could even catch a glimpse of the family guard whose shift it was today, in the days when I didn’t ask to know who nursed me, sure there would always be someone on the other side.

Culinary Faux Pas

A few months ago, my family went out to celebrate my birthday. We ate at a French restaurant where a number of my relatives tried foie gras for the first time. Not knowing that the pate was supposed to be spread like jam, my father treated it like a slice of ham or chicken instead, by sandwiching it on a piece of bread. My younger sister, who was the most wordly of us and had eaten at a number of fine restaurants, cried out in alarm. My youngest sister, even though not having tried foie gras herself, berated my dad for not asking about how to eat it. I was just embarrassed, not of my dad, but for him. My own sisters were yelling at my dad simply for not knowing enough, as if reaffirming to themselves they weren’t ignorant, or nearly as ignorant.

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Birds at the Bronx Zoo

There seems to be a theme going on in my life: one that consists of tigers. After watching and laughing at Bollywood’s rom-com, “Ek Tha Tiger,” and picking up Téa Obreht’s “Tiger’s Wife” for some leisure reading, I decided to visit a real tiger at Bronx Zoo but ended up going crazy (as usual) for the birds.

I am a birdwatcher in New York City, but like most people, I was anticipating the large animals when I went to the zoo. But the lions, bears, and tigers (oh my!) were snoozing in the summer heat. The tigers were sprawled on their backs; the lions kept distant on a faint plateau above their natural deer-ish prey, grazing unmolested; and the polar bear, white and iconic, dozed with out-flung limbs on the rocky shore near his artificial pool. He remained stubbornly deaf to the human, zoo-going horde screaming and gesticulating wildly beyond his enclosure. It was if we were the ones trying to impress him and not the other way around.

But why should we be impressed?

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Turtles on the Move

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Photo credited to Konrad Fiedler, nysun.com

Here in NYC, the birds have mostly migrated through (with a few cedar waxwings popping in every now and then) but the turtles are on the move! Most of them are on the prowl for a good nesting site. Of course, it’s a bit tricky, navigating your way around fences and stretches of pavement.

I’ve always wondered what happened to the turtles during winter, and doubted that they migrated to the park during the summer. It turns out that they hibernate, just like bears.

Asser Levy Public Baths

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Came across this a few days ago, after wandering around a part of the city I’ve never been to before. Apparently, New York City once endorsed the building of public baths to try to control the spread of disease, especially among an immigrant population that lived crowded together in tenements with little access to bathing facilities. It’s now a recreation center overseen by the Department of Parks.