Tuesday, December 7, 2010
make it sparkle and glitter.
Whisping energy that collapses and,
gives way to the forces of gravity.
Tongue out, palms placid,
introducing the waves of brisk folding.
trying to feel the coldness on the inside of the eyelids.
Placed and balanced,
a never ending snow fall.
Breathing in the moment,
flakes landing on lashes.
Melting upon impact,
getting lost in the condensation equilibrium.
Still hoping to have some liquid on my lips,
as the brisk cold is felt, eyes wide open.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
My body just an actor in a play filled with actors. All trying hard to act 'natural', to be 'a part' of the scene. I move as the sun moves and as the moon overlooks the sky. The spotlight doesn't shine on just one, but all, everyone and everything.
Friday, October 15, 2010
I've found sanctuary in a simple place not far from civilization but far enough. It's Mount Pleasant, Utah and it's home. I'm living with my grandparents, one of which I was named after, Henry. When I arrived I immediately felt connected to the place. The changing colouring trees attracted every pore of my body, the fleshy yellows, oranges, reds beaming as if from a setting sun. The animals too seem to welcome me; white-tailed deer and small sparrows fluttering by and by. Tdwee-tdwweep. I'm amazed by the calmness it all eludes. Yes, I miss the sounds of streets and the go-go-go of city life. But for me, it's an escape from complexity and a focus on simplicity, a good thing.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I remember one of my first dreams, goals, as a boy. It was to ride without training wheels. I'd go all day and night trying to ride without my practically-ridden until the once wheels turned into teenage-mutant-ninja-turtle-stickered training spikes, the rubber wheels being rubbed down by the sidewalk until just the metal training part remained. I couldn't do it for the longest time, trust myself to ride without these training wheels. Just trying to be okay with trusting that balance, the balance between sidewalk and balancing on the bike, feeling that wind against my face, the smell of the swing set and the taste of clean air. The circumstance that finally got me up, out of my training wheels, was with my dad, Corey, he guided me past that scariness of the road, ran right beside me until I got control of the bike, could feel the wind and could taste the sweetness of air around me, gliding up through the old ponderosa trees, past my handlebars and into my nostrils. It was in a church parking lot by my house that it all happened. I was going downhill, fast, my dad running beside me, I thought he was still holding onto me, holding onto me tight, but then he let go, I didn't even realize it, but he let go and I went flying. I looked behind me and saw that he was gone...seconds later, I crashed, knowing he had left. He came running up to me, ensuring that I was okay. Blowing on my lacerated knees to ensure my sanity. I was okay with him by my side. He got me back up on my feet, told me to try again, not give up, and that's just what I did. I went again. I felt him giving me a push on my bicycle seat, feeling him letting go and allowing me to ride by myself. I was doing it. I looked behind myself again and found myself flying down the church parking lot. Faster and faster, soaring. No training wheels, no more being scared. It's just me and the road now and nothing to stop me. I rode every day after that, in the church parking lot. That night, my dad took off my training wheels and I never wanted them again. I learned to balance on my own and it truly felt like flying!
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Well, I have recently moved to the southern city of Tainan. Here bodes a place to further invest in my Chinese learning. The plan is to teach/tutor part-time and study Chinese at the local university (National Cheng Kung University) part-time. I have a good set of friends here. Although I'm going to miss the easy small-town feeling of Fengyuan (and the mountains!), I think this place allows growth. My address is 701台南市力行三街5號 (4A, 5 hao, Shili Xing 3 Road, Tainan, Taiwan 701)
As I have not found work yet and am in need of an extension with my Visa, I must go to Bangkok, Thailand to figure it out. To Bangkok! I'm smiling a thousand smiles! On the way, I thought, WHY NOT MAKE THIS INTO AN ADVENTURE??? Thus, I'll be riding a bicycle from Saigon, Vietnam, up to Hoi An, then through to the Central Highlands of Laos, down to the ancient ruins of Ankor Wat, Cambodia, and finally to my destination in Thailand. This will be an approximate 1 month trip as I start school and work early-September. Keep track of my travels with the best travelling-cyclist blog archive around:
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
There was a preteen boy racing me on bicycle today. I passed him at first, steady as I go on my long morning rides, seeming no challenge would come from it. Out of nowhere he came whizzing past me, peddling as fast as his little legs could manage. As he did so, he couldn't help but have the biggest smile on his face. He was beating the "wei-guo-ren", the foreigner, and at his own game too. You see, I get all geared up for such rides, tight biking shorts, sleeveless cycling jersey and some dashing gloves and matching helmet...a real sight for the unexpecting local. To add to the thrill of the chase, he was riding probably his first bike, a beaten-up Giant, and with it, his heavy book bag, all the while I was riding a sleek road bike. He had some sort of spurt of energy, some spark in his brain that brought on such spontaneity. He was elated and exuberant in that moment. The sun met us perfectly up in the sky, softening the pores of skin producing sweat for our bodies. As I came creeping towards him, geared up, he kept his ground, quickening his peddle, all the while peeking back to see how close I was to him. The kickstand of his bike was down and shards from it were flying as he wobbled to gain momentum on his old bike. He about lost control once, but regained it haphazardly. I pushed forward and met up with him. Wheel to wheel, we battled to be the fastest. I would get ahead of him, then he would match my strength and pull ahead. All this excitement alongside laughing and smiling the whole way down the hill. I was a kid again, racing to the parking lot for a chance at bragging rights. We soon parted ways, neither of us sure which came out ahead, but we both came out winners with smiles on our faces.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
There are times where the body leaves itself and finds itself in a place unthinkable. This happened before jumping off the rock last weekend in Kenting (墾丁國家公園). Well, I’m exaggerating when saying I left my body, because part of me thinks I experienced the most realness I’ve felt in a good while. The hitting of flesh against surface. The fear caught up in my throat and the energy surrounding it all leaving me awed. The gentle floating ocean views as I wait for the waves to carry me to shore. It was real and it was bodiless all simultaneously.
The waves crashing on the rock, mist spraying the glance. I look up to see a side-walking crab. He’s dancing alongside the surf, enjoying the pious rock as I climb higher and higher, steady atop the igneous solidification, trying my own side-walk as I crawl up, my claws clambering to find the nearest hole. It’s windy up here and the sea foam is creeping up the walls. I see a pathway towards the top and I follow it. The ledge peaking out, waiting for an adventure seeking visitor.
I make my way up the rock and I’m atop it all. The blue of the sea is crust-covered and I almost lose my balance as I stare into the infinity of turquoise and topaz. I wonder if this could be it, if the sea could take me and I’d forever be trapped inside the waves. I wouldn’t really be upset, if I were to escape inside the rhythm of the waves. It seems calm there and that point where the blue and the white meet right before they crash into the sand and rock is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I could be among that beauty. Lost among the oxidation process and the moon’s eternal tide. I focus again, ready for my leap of faith, into the ocean below.
I creep towards the lip of the rock. I do this slowly, getting down low and maneuvering my body over. I make it to the spot and stand tall. It’s nothing but me and the waves now. I get a sense of their direction, of their movement and drive power. It seems a big wave could simply wipe me out completely. Therefore, I wait a little while to get a sense of the waves. I match the rhythm of the waves to the rhythm of my heart and take it all in. I think of moments past and moments present. Rushing silence enters my body. Releasing everything, I step forward, and float.
The floating is immediately superseded by gravity’s need to pull me in fast, into the dark pool of salt. I hit the surface and raggedy-andy doll it into the disheveled sea, flipping round and losing myself for a second. My limbs detached and the saltwater feels fine. I gain consciousness and my lungs break the surface, taking in the rain-freshened air. I look up at the spot I conquered, a proud moment. Making my way back to the shore, I decided to wait a while and just let the waves push me back in. I am able to ride them sweetly and enjoy the rhythm of the white cap waves.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
The dark room lit with only candles, smiling faces beaming downwards, welcoming their sing-song voices cascading ear-ward, I look around, thankful for it all. It feels almost surreal, the birthday song. It's sort of daisical, I get shy. For the thought of personal attention, through a simple measure like being born, seems undeserving. The personal sublimity that I experience in that moment, the moment where the birthday song is being sung to no one but me, is impossible to reenact in daily non-birthday life. Every year I look forward to it and dread it at the same time. It's a sort of game where I'm happy that people like me and care enough for me to send me gifts and make me cake and surprise me, but at the same time, I feel insecure about whether or not I deserve such treatment. I'm just me, really nothing too special, nothing to make cake about (especially kinds with yummy peanut butter frosting!). But regardless of the inner-conflict, I let the singing commence and I love it, every second of it, despite feeling guilty for doing so.
It's strange to think of a birthday abroad. Childhood birthdays of home and family always conquer my idea of what it means to have a birthday. From my early days at Chucky Cheeses, standing alongside the mechanical monster band and playing in the plastic balls, I've been enthralled with the self-righteousness that birthdays create. Americana is all about such luxurious affairs, the power behind the ME of American attitude. My birthday with My friends and My presents. In Taiwan, things are the opposite. Most people celebrate their birthday on Chinese New Year, some children don't even know when their birthday is. Since growing older, and especially in coming into a culture that discourages the individuality of birthdays, I've come to realize that birthdays are less about me and more about them. About the family, the friends, the connections that build me up and tear me down, that hold me up and keep me going. It connects me to the greater understanding of being thankful for those that show unrequited love on a regular basis. That despite the opportunity to reward a person based on the date given to them by some outward force, I am able to be in constant gratitude for people so wonderful around me. And it's not that I don't love birthdays, because I definitely do, its just that, I want to ensure I don't rely too heavily on the expectations that a birthday can create. That I take the year older as a signifier towards living a new day, another day, among great things, and ensure that I'm thanking those around me. I can withdraw the self and implore the valley within and be thankful for those around me for building me up. So for this birthday, my biggest wish is to say to you, rather than you to me, Happy Birthday. You deserve everything.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Yuèliang zǒu, wǒ yě zǒu, (Moon moves, I also move,)
wǒ hé yuèliang jiāo péngyou, (I and moon make friends,)
dài lǐ zhuāngzhe liǎng zhī dàn, (pocket in filled+with 2 M eggs,)
sònggěi yuèliang dàng zǎofàn. (to present to moon as breakfast.)
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I wonder if the artist behind the color knew where to start
Friday, March 12, 2010
I was left with an amazing view, as I often find myself in while wandering Taiwan. The trees outgrow each other here. I climb higher and higher just to see the tops of them all.
A few teachers and I found ourselves among a festival. There were god-uniformed puppets and sound-making pulling carts. A local told me that it was a festival for a particular god of that mountain. The sights and sounds of the festival were an unexpected surprise.
Smaller puppets were also there to greet us at the festival. All of them resembling a god of Chinese ancestry.
The black smoke bellows out of the furnace. The paper money and goods are combusted by fire and rise to the heavens. I was talking to my friend Thomas about this practice and was told that the government is asking for fewer people to burn such things in hopes of preserving the air quality, yet, with the traditional symbolism behind it there seems to be many oppose to the new suggestions. It's an interesting balance act between new and old thought.
The Formosan Rock Macaque Monkeys pry attention away from everything else on the hiking trail. They are most definitely an attraction of the area.
This little restaurant in Taichung, Taiwan called Modern Toilet brings a whole new meaning to the term "potty humor". Everything in the place is inspired by nothing less than the bathroom. I ate a delicious curry via toilet bowl while my friend Ray ate out of a miniature tub. The chairs are actual toilet bowls as well. It's an interesting novelty idea and actually not as gross as it seems. The Taiwanese are a lot more open about their bowel movements.
Monday, February 22, 2010
The sea came to my feet. I let it soak into my flesh and felt the sand gravitate between my toes. There is nothing quite like the feeling of sand engulfing my feet while the waves roar beside them, hugging them like a mama to her little ones.
I had yet to discover a sea like this. It was endless. I knew I was on an island, but in living so far away from the shore, I felt grounded on mainland, this evidence proved me otherwise. The sea is my home, bodies of water seem to welcome my heart gracefully. I grew up on a lake in Coeur d'Alene, ID, and swam almost everyday. My days were filled with jumping off docks with just floaties on. On this body of water, I viewed with great admiration as fishermen stand alongside their gear for a long day with their friend, the sea. Their floaties removed long ago but their dock still with them loyally.
The teaching crew from Berhan on the sands of Taiwan. We all danced upon the shore that day. Jumped high into the sky. We travelled by scooter, banking narrow turns downhills and uphills, all the while the sea breeze played alongside us. It was magical.
Cliffs mangled heroically beside the beach to entice further investigation. The edges of landmass amazed this watchful traveller. I climbed a rope to get here and the mist of the crashing waves welcomed me full-heartedly. I gladly could of stayed here for weeks. If I would have, as night fell, the crashing waves would've retold old bedtime stories while the mist tucked me into my cliffside bed.
My mind can get lost among the sounds of the waves. This is a moment like that, where the mind functions with the rhythm of the sea, each overturning concave deepening the trance.
The next day, a red bridge welcomed me on a small canyon highway outside the city, near Liyu Lake. The sun was singing to the mountaintops.
A road was carved from the listening monster of a mountainside. It came alive here as the pillars clung to the mountain making makeshift teeth for the beast.
Eventually the monster ate me up. I had a small spill among a wet spot on the road seen and got a good scrape on my right elbow and some damage to the foot. I brushed it off, everything intact, the journey continued.
Later that day, a monastery was the show-stealer. It lay hidden inside Taroko Gorge, the buddhist chanting luring us towards its discovery.
A good time to think deeply...or maybe just a good time to take a picture of me pretending to think deeply...yeah, I think it's the latter. But regardless, thinking did happen among these mountains, about how small I am and how big the masses of the Earth can shoot straight out trying to reach the limits of the atmosphere. So yeah, maybe deep thinking did happen...ha ha.
Day three brought hiking towards a blue wonder of river water. Miscommunication got the best of our navigation skills and we were led past the blue river to the hills of aboriginal viallages (a two-hour hike turned into close to six hours).
The land was rich with history. Life sprung out of every crack in the side of the mountain. The land is still used by living relatives of the aboriginal people, one of the few remaining sanctuaries for them.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
This place is not seen, mostly, I guess. The places here are quiet, if you can find them. I ventured outwards, biking around a circle road in the Taiwan city of Fengyuan, my home, for now.
I find this place. It's the cherry blossoms that grabbed my attention. That and the shiny white bridge, decaying at its railings, making it still more beautiful. I found it and turned my bicycle around. "Here lies something new and undiscovered" I thought to myself. It's the butterflies that greeted me first along the path. I knew I was in the right place.
I walked onwards. The grass here seems hollow because it moves so softly along with my encroaching steps forward, even the wind acts as an accomplice, slowly blowing the grass petals, moving like millions of maestros conducting their symphonies. I'm amazed by the movement of it all, how nature can act according to no set plan and wow the viewer. Such beauty lies in it. The butterflies and the grass and the blacking of the bridge decay. I'm questioning how the beauty belongs here, it exists with such evasive luster, a universal glimmer to the eyes of many. From Dostoevsky "The terrible thing is that beauty is not only frightening but a mystery as well. That's where God and the devil join battle and their battlefield is the heart of man."
Beauty a battle. It rests in my head and quakes the inner-cogs. Beauty surrounding a young man, as it has surrounded many a-young men and how that beauty can be deemed an inner-struggle. A struggle for survival. An instant-pushing at a middle until something explodes. Perhaps the butterfly sipping the nectar from the flower. Or perhaps the bee collecting the nectar for his queen. I wonder if it all explodes like the Big Bang Theory explains the beginning of the universe. And if one of these moments, the beautiful ones, can be a universe within themselves. A sort of cosmic showdown within a cosmic showdown. That the planets are the same as the petals on the flower. And that it can all be formed by the God and the Devil, or the black and the white, or the good and the bad. That these two opposing forces, the ones that are constant in all things, force each other so hard, that something beautiful arises from the battle. I'm standing there among the battles and they are beautiful.
My mind says these things and when I verbalize them, they sound structured and constrained (and I wonder if I'm even making sense!). My mind says words and spurts them out anyways. I wonder, can the world can be explained by mere words? Can beautiful really describe this around me? But this is all more than that. Words are constraining the true value of the experience. I'm caught wondering if I could just live this moment without words, live among the battling and battle myself too.
In the field, the field with the flowers. The butterflies call to the petals and the flowers hark back. They sing to each other and bring each other liveliness. I read that somewhere. I think. I pass a huge log and the log stands before a simple message. I can't read it. No. Just etchings on a wall. The purple cherry blossomings are here and the faded white bridge. The sky seems so high and the flowers close and the butterflies closer. Everything can be made so simple. The trees can sprout from seeds. The babes can be made into warriors. I'm saying too much. The words are skewing it all. I'll just sit and escape into beautiful surroundings in the park.
As the weeks grow so does my relationships with these kiddos. Each one is unique and precious and awesome and makes me want to be a better teacher/person. Not saying that they're not a lot to handle, they are, but each minute is worth it. A few things I've figured out as one month has now gone by as "Mr. Bray Bray", as my little second graders call me.
1. Grow acutely aware of the random touch of arm, leg or facial hair. Sometimes you may lean over them to see how their sentences are progressing and they'll simply just reach up and rub your chin with their palm, either that or sit close to you for reading time and just carefully caress leg hairs.
2. For punishment, offer the corner. If corner doesn't work, it's wall-sits.
3. One push-up for each minute a student is late. Yeah, I'm cruel.
4. One push-up for each minute the teacher is late. Yeah, they're cruel.
4. When going outside for break, realize they'll play basketball, and realize that they've figured out that you suck at basketball. You're now designated the benched player/head cheerleader. Go team!
5. For spelling tests, always check the whiteboard first for the words that are on the spelling test.
6. Seating charts should always be made boy/girl/boy/girl.
7. Avoid the words "long", "trumpet", "bird", "mosquito island", and "shoot" with sixth-grade adolescence.
8. Kids love playing popcorn reading for class, and choose to say another student's name in the middle of a sentence, so it reads something like "Then Galen got out his sword and killed...Hogerth!" Laughing quickly ensues, teacher quieting everyone down.
9. Magic card tricks will excite any kid at ANY AGE!
10. Some will want you to come to their grandmother's house to play wii. Those same ones might say "I love you, Mr. Brandon" when class is over. Oh these kids kill me.
Now to get back to my lesson planning.... :P
Monday, January 25, 2010
I biked with Thomas again on Sunday. We sprang forth in mid-afternoon towards Taiwan's longest tunnel (Caoling suìdào) and ventured on through to Fulong. It was an awarding bike ride that eventually led us to a Hakka (Taiwanese aboriginal culture) festival with a bridge called "Lover's Bridge".
After that we ventured further onwards towards a huge Mango Tree that has been around for 100+ years. Waiting for us was this darling elderly woman who had a good conversation with Thomas about how she loves to pick the mangoes up in May and eat them up after the mighty wind hurls them towards the green Earth. She also told us that it is okay to climb to get the fruit. I'll definitely be back here for prime Mango season.
To end our journey, we went back to the flower field so I could make a quick sketch of the scenery (I've been trying to draw a quick something every Sunday). I spotted this sign which reads: "You need to cherish me because the flowers are smiling at you." I smiled back at them gratefully.
Here is a vid: