Tag Archives: story

My Memory of You

The memories we have of the people around us…

Do you think they are real?
Could they live forever?
Were the details that gave life to our thoughts at one point in time simply fabricated illusions that we have consciously chosen to remember one way instead of another?
Is it possible that we have we forgotten certain details that made us have second thoughts and remember one another in the first place?  
Have the people within our minds just changed?
Or could it be that the people we never stopped thinking about never really existed because we didn’t take the time to see them for who they were instead of who we wanted them to be?

On the surface, I remember the ora that that surrounded your 6’7″ frame, that eclipsed your shadow and brought light to all of those around you. For a handsome blue-haired, blonde-eyed athlete, your humility and yearning to share words with pretty much everyone was beyond refreshing. You never took yourself too seriously, and your laughter was contagious. Above all, I can’t remember a time that I didn’t see a smile across your face..

6 years later…as I travel alone at half past midnight in this business class train car from our getaway weekend back to our hometown, I can’t help but feel guilty for not asking you more questions when we were kids, for not being there to look out for the person that looked out for everyone else..It makes me wish that I could go back in time and talk to the 18 year old you and the 16 year old me..even if only for a moment.. just so I could tell you that I care, and we both deserve to exercise and exceed our potential in life..

Despite the obstacles that you have encountered (some of which you’ve explained this past weekend, others I may never know), today, your light persists and you continue to surprise me. I haven’t smiled or laughed so hard in years…maybe ever. Your spontaneity is truthfully the furthest thing from conducive to my personal lifestyle; and yet, I find that your nimble nature brings me balance that I have been searching for high and low. Words cannot explain how thankful I am to hear someone aggressively tell me to put my phones away and stop working; to relax and enjoy living in the moments that make feel alive. The maze you take my mind through makes my heart want to be vulnerable..and open to the genuine warmth that you bring — inside and out. Your love for life is simply inspiring, I guess I just wish you were (figuratively) around to enjoy it more..

I’ll admit..I have always thought my thoughts were naturally lucid, but I’ve never felt anything like tripping before in my life. I know you were worried about me making a judgment, but I just wanted to get closer to you..I thought it would give me clarity into life behind your eyes. I suppose it did; the higher I got to you, the higher you got to your dad. When I asked you what you would say to him if you had one more chance, I almost cried when you said, “Come home.” Hell. I’ve almost cried several times just thinking about this over and over again since that night.

It makes me nervous to sit here and think about what I would say if you were to ask me what is going through my head. But it makes me more anxious to think about where you will be 5 years from now…You promised we’d travel the world together, but I fear that one day I’ll get a phone call…or I won’t hear anything at all. It also pains me to think that you are so able to balance me, and I can’t do the same for you.

I pray that the day your past meets your present, you are able to keep smiling and appreciating the life that you lead. I promise I will be here for you, even if we just sit in silence.

Please keep smiling so I can always remember you.



Gladwell’s Ethnic Theory Proven by SF Plane Crash?

The San Francisco plane crash that happened this past weekend was extremely unfortunate. It was also very surprising given how rarely plane crashes occur each year, but it does provoke some interesting points that Malcolm Gladwell made in his novel, Outliers, that perhaps should be taken into serious consideration.

According to Gladwell, a large percentage of the plane crashes that do occur are a direct result of miscommunication and language issues —  either among pilots in the cockpit and between air traffic controllers and pilots.  He even goes so far as to propose an “Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes” which suggests that how good of a pilot you are has a lot to do with which culture you were raised in. Gladwell compares Asian airlines to American ones, and explained in a Q&A with Fortune Magazine:

Korean Air had more plane crashes than almost any other airline in the world for a period at the end of the 1990s. When we think of airline crashes, we think, Oh, they must have had old planes. They must have had badly trained pilots. No. What they were struggling with was a cultural legacy, that Korean culture is hierarchical. You are obliged to be deferential toward your elders and superiors in a way that would be unimaginable in the U.S.

But Boeing (BAFortune 500) and Airbus design modern, complex airplanes to be flown by two equals. That works beautifully in low-power-distance cultures [like the U.S., where hierarchies aren’t as relevant]. But in cultures that have high power distance, it’s very difficult.

I use the case study of a very famous plane crash in Guam of Korean Air. They’re flying along, and they run into a little bit of trouble, the weather’s bad. The pilot makes an error, and the co-pilot doesn’t correct him. But once Korean Air figured out that their problem was cultural, they fixed it.

Gladwell’s attributes pilot error, particularly on Korean airlines, to the country’s authoritarian culture, which has the tendency to negatively effect the pilot teamwork “needed to fly Western-built jets” because co-captains are too afraid to speak up and tell their superiors when they are making a mistake. This makes it extremely difficult and dangerous when dealing with an emergency.

In Outliers, Gladwell also discusses the 10-thousand-hour-rule, which you can hear him talk about in his interview with CNN. The idea behind this rule is: you’d have to essentially be an apprentice and work on your craft for approximately 10 thousand hours in order to be considered great at what you do. Interestingly, the pilot in the SF plane crash, identified as Lee Kang-kook, had nearly 10,000 hours of experience flying planes; however, only 43 of those hours were spent flying the 777 model (ABC).

In the effort to minimize crashes, Airlines across the globe have been working to improve pilot-co-pilot teamwork efforts. It is becoming more and more common for co-pilots to address superiors by first name, and airilnes are teaching them how to be more assertive and get more comfortable with pushing back, particularly in emergency situations. In turn, head pilots are learning to work collaboratively aboard their planes by operating as organizers, negotiators and facilitators, rather than as dominant commanders. The goal is to make it easier for first officers to speak up in order to correct any mistakes caused by the main pilot.

Interviews with the 4 pilots on the Asiana plane are currently still being decrypted from Korean to English. It will be very telling when those interviews are released what happened — whether or not there was some sort of miscommunication or a last second decision that was made in error — that led to the crash (2 deaths and 183 injured).

I really think that Gladwell’s theory has some validity to it, which is unfortunate because the aim is not to strengthen ethnic divides; however, the positive outlook on this is that we can continue to learn and correct our mistakes no matter what ethnic group we are a part of.


Wordle Me.

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I took some of the most recent pieces that I wrote and put them into a Wordle..

The words that appear to be the biggest were the words that I used most prominently throughout my writing — more often than not to describe myself, my experiences, and my surroundings. The words that appear in a smaller font were used less frequently when talking about these same (physical and figurative) objects. When I did this, it was interesting to me that the bigger words all seemed optimistic and accurate precursors to the next chapter of my life; the smaller words were more pessimistic and sort of stuck in the past. This little exercise made me smile. It made me feel at peace with what I have walked away from, and excited to embrace the new experiences that are awaiting. I am going…to keep writing my story. This feels good..


What makes for a good story?

Is it the relationships that mend and break? The mystery that yields suspense? What about the soundtrack that plays along in the background? Are all stories worth telling? If not, are they stories at all?

If we all come from different backgrounds, beliefs, families, environments and experiences, it would seem that opportunities to learn from people nearly always exist in one form or another – whether the lessons are interesting on the surface or not. So, why are some people so close-minded to other peoples’ stories? Why do they sometimes choose to neglect their own?

I think that people have the tendency to live outwardly — seeing what other people do and responding with behaviors that reflect what society might expect of them rather than the thoughts and emotions that they experience from within. The concept itself may seem obvious at first — trying to fit in with the “cool” kids — but if everyone acts and does the same things then the opportunities to stand out and learn from one another lessen dramatically.

I had an interesting conversation with a coworker earlier this week….He is a middle-aged, homosexual German man living in Frankfurt; I am a 23 year old, single, heterosexual, jewish female living in the States. We have walked extremely different ways of life, which is intriguing to me, but it seemed difficult for him to accept…and not for the reasons that you might think.

Although trying to maintain some of my own mystery, I did start to tell him about my story — my family, hardships, love lost; the twists and turns that helped me lose myself to ultimately find myself. I was openly expressing what a bad person I thought I was as an adolescent because of the experiences that I had had growing up. Toward the end of the conversation, all he had to say was that he was somewhat envious and wished that he had a story like mine; if life had kicked him in the ass harder, he would be been more motivated to do and experience more, become more successful.

I thought he was kidding. I mean…I wouldn’t wish my story upon anyone. That’s like gluing together broken glass and expecting it to shine as bright as a new bottle. Then again, broken glass makes for a beautiful mosaic. I have come to appreciate all of my broken pieces; each scar representing only small chapters of my story. I love what they have helped me become, and for that I am grateful.

When my coworker said he was jealous of me, I guess I was just taken aback because I thought he sounded more interesting on paper…or at least that he would have experienced more than I have. He then explained that his family was always supportive of his sexual orientation and it was just never made into a big deal, so he never really had to experience prejudice, malice, or truly trying experiences. Obstacles and hardships are really relative to each individual, but my coworker was adamant that he hadn’t undergone what he thought would make for a proper, interesting story.

He continued to say that after hearing some of what I have gone through, he wished that his story was as much of a page-turner as mine. At the same time, he internally felt guilty for wanting the people close to him, as well as his circumstances, to challenge him more instead of appreciating the path that he says they made easy for him.

I know that he didn’t tell me all of his story. I don’t know what was true and what wasn’t, but the conversation with my coworker made me realize something…that maybe the question isn’t whether or not some stories are worth telling; rather, it might be: What have you learned from your story? Or maybe: How has your story shaped you?

If you are reading the same chapter over and over again, you won’t be able to write the next chapter to your story…Perhaps the most exciting page hasn’t been lived yet. THAT in itself is something to be grateful for. Take the time to reflect inwardly so that you can share your energy outwardly. You never know who you might reach and help, whose narrative you might become a major part of.

Always tell your story.

One Year Ago Today…

Today makes one year – 365 flashbacks – since I walked away from my totaled ’09 black on black Nissan Altima without a single scratch on my body. I remember, at the time, feeling like I was in a really bad dream; now, when I try to dream, too often the projector in my mind shows the crash on repeat.

Too often, while my eyes remain closed, my heart moves like a hummingbird’s wings in my chest. My hands clench for mercy with cloth and a prayer between each knuckle. A single bead of sweat races a tear down the side of my cheek as salt blankets my neck to my tailbone. The melody of my breath grows staccato until my subconscious finally retrieves me from inception. Few can attest to this, but if – within the past year – we’ve ever spent the night together, and I woke up shaking in your arms, now you know why.

I AM alive…

…But one year ago today, I almost lost this priviledge.

I think that there were too many contributing factors that day that played a role in the consequences. I certainly played mine — rushing to get to work, answering calls and emails, all while trying to read news updates about candle vigils happening that evening in memory of the 5th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. The moment itself happened at the speed of light, but isolated thoughts prolonged the seconds in between. I remember thinking: Is this really happening? There’s no way that my time on this Earth is near complete. There’s too many things that I still need to do, experiences that I need to have, and people who I need to say “I love you” to.

My will to live overpowered my fear of death that day. I didn’t make a big deal about it outwardly because I was trying to understand the emotions going on within first; less of the why am I here, more of the how I made it here. It took some time, but clarity eventually came:

Having the opportunity to live, breathe and love makes the bad dreams well worth it. If anything, they keep me in check and serve as a reminder to always appreciate what I have, and to always go after what I want.

One year ago today, I received a blessing disguised as an obstacle. In three days (April 19, 2013), I will turn 23 years old. I AM, humbly thankful.