Korean. I’m Korean. Did she speak Korean? Anyoung haseyo? A shake of the head. “I’m sorry. I don’t speak Korean, either.” 

Sometimes, she couldn’t help but say, “sad, I know. Pathetic, really,” depending on how insecure she felt about it at the moment. (READ the rest of the chapter at my website.


photo by Thien Dang on Unsplash



photo by Jason Ortego

Without him, she would probably become a recluse; wear afghans around the house, order everything she needed online, live her life through social media, raise three dogs she would dress-up and treat like her children–too afraid to interact with the outside world for fear of failure or rejection. (Read More at

I’m not that girl from the Beach Body DVDs…

“I can’t,” I say, loud enough for him to hear but hoping the girls won’t.

“I can’t do it.”

“You can,” he says, equally quiet.  “Just try it.”

I shake my head, taking in the sight of the other girls, their tight abs, their perfectly round backsides.  Their shapely legs pull in unison against the ropes, their bodies bent in two like the legs of a shiny metal compass completing measurements.  I’m flanked by them- out, in, out, in.  Their tight bodies strain against the effort but the girls still manage to look like they’re filming a Beach Body DVD.

That would make me the –you can do it too person sweating in the background while the pros glisten and glow up front near the instructor.  The sweat from my effort on the treadmill ten minutes ago is still evaporating from my skin and surrounded by these girls who can, I find myself choking on the humiliations of the past.

I see grade school me, shoulders slumped in defeat, eyes cast down and boring holes into my white Reeboks as I toe the blue tape of the shiny gym floor.   I’m overwhelmed by a sense of ineptitude, of invisibility.  I listen despondently as names are yelled enthusiastically from the team captains standing before me.  Will they remember my name this time or will I be the last one called, my name then becoming irrelevant?

Then, as expected, the voices calling the names take on another tone. They deign to divvy up the lesser of the less.  I can hear them roll their eyes and sympathize with each other on having to take that girl who plays violin and doesn’t play sports.

I try to lift my body in a similar fashion but land on my hands and knees.  I feel as though the Beach Body girls are judging me from the corner of their eyes, already deciding to pick me last.

Before the grade school me becomes paralyzed on the gym floor I pick myself up and leave.  I feel bad for the kids facing team captains all over the world but I’m not trapped in those situations anymore.  My worth isn’t based on the number of people I can hit with a dodge ball.  So I go, marveling that wounds from the past could still hurt in new ways.

Afraid to Live…

I lean back in the passenger side of the car as the traffic lights flash through the windshield.  We’re  almost home.  The time glows digital green from the dashboard of the car.  We’ll make it back just in time to watch our new must-see Sunday night show, “Believe.”

I want to say something a loud to J but I hesitate.  If I say it, that implied meaning it.  Did I mean it or was I compelled because I always felt inspired when I left Mosaic?  Well, mostly inspired, sometimes discouraged by the comparisons I drew between the lives I heard about and my own.

“I feel like I’m trying to preserve my life” I say a loud, like I mean it.  “What am I saving myself for? ”

If I were a pre-recorded message my themes would consist of these phrases:

“Be. SAFE.”

“That. Is. Full. Of. Germs.”

“That. Could. Kill. You.”

“Do. Ing. That. Is. Sue.I.Cide.”

I am apparently saving myself for some great cause and it’s a necessity for me to be without a physical or emotional scratch when the cause reveals itself.

When I ask my questions a loud, I realize that I’ve been aware of the cause most of my life.  I may not have always been old enough, independent enough, or resourceful enough…but those are not excuses I can lean on now.

I connect the dots that have led to it- my cause; my birth in a foreign land, my adoption into a forever family, what I’ve seen as random skill sets accumulated over a decade of careers that just didn’t stick and the people who did.

As we pull up to our house and bring the car to a stop, my cause light goes from yellow to green.

I’ve been afraid to live.  Afraid to get hurt, get dirty, or be unable to find myself home again, safe and sound.

I’d still like to avoid getting hurt and getting dirty but not at the cost of losing my life because I focused so hard on saving it.




The past fades away…

I can barely sit still in the hard, plastic chairs facing the stage and as always when this moment comes I wish I was standing in the mosh-pit where it’s too crowded for anyone to see my face and judge my reaction.

The spotlights are roving and tension building music seems to be drifting from somewhere although I’m not sure if that’s the ambiance in my head or if the band is playing.

My ears are hyper-tuned to the emphatic screams of girls yelling, “JOSIAH” and as always I think for a moment that these voices are the loudest.  Every time a voice is heard clear and piercing above the rest, my heart does a little victory dance.

Afterward, as the cheers fade and the stage empties, the fervor-ed and surreal state I’ve been drifting in dissipates as swiftly as a rosy dream I might cling to when morning comes.

Cool, night air fills my lungs outside the stage and I realize that this moment in time will fade just as quietly, with just as little fanfare when the time arrives for Josiah to come home.

Silence —-is daunting.  But I’m not afraid because, “We are all time voyagers leaving history in our wake, pioneering into the future” (Erwin Raphael McManusChasing Daylight).

And the future is where I want to go.

On the Verge…

I feel my heart jumping around inside my chest, pushing against its bony restraints in erratic, desperate throbs.

I must have forgotten to breathe.









It’s like I’m standing on the beach with the very tips of my toes kissing the edge of the icy, early morning waves.

All I can manage are goosebumps and shallow breathing.

I’m grounded for now but with each lick, lick, lick, my balance shifts. I get sucked further in.

My ears are overwhelmed by the sound of the waves- a car driving 90 miles-per-hour through a never ending traffic tunnel.

I’m on the verge of some great experience and all I can form are common, ineffective words.

What is going on?   I mutter.  Holy shit! HOLY SHIT!

This doesn’t even sound like me. My heart’s irregular beating is producing word vomit.

The sand beneath my feet finally succumbs to the convincing pull of the water; submerged.

If I look down at the sand as the water pushes beneath me, I move backward- my feet lurching and settling into the sand while everything around me glides forward with relative ease.

As I begin to breathe, I know I must regain my footing or be lost in the fog that settles around the ocean when the night comes.