A New Beginning

I saw the famous Annie Leibovitz talking about us all always waiting to be inspired and I wanted so badly to click and be part of her master class but finding out it’s $90 breaks my heart. Then there are the classes of Dr. Jane Goodall about creating change, Martin Scorsese on filmmaking and a lot more. I thought,”if only I could be richer and join all the classes I want”. But then I realized, I have become richer for the past few years, months, days – they are not just the kind of wealth that will buy me online master classes!

I can’t believe that’s my first story in a long time. Harhar. And I have waited that long to overcome my own writer’s block only to write this.

What I’d like to share are photos of Sereene, my daughter, as she embarks in the work of the Lord. She is a missionary now serving in the Temple Square in Salt Lake City and I’m astonished by the sacredness of the priviledge she has as she serves in the promised land.

She emails me once a week and she has so many stories about her everydayness in the field. I’ll do my best to be detailed about it but you have to bear with my writing as I tend to write in blotted thoughts so help me fill in what’s missing, only if you know it.

She’s already out of the training center and has started work last Wednesday, the 18th of April.

Here are some of her very first photos in the Provo Missionary Training Center.

The following photos are with Sister Manarani, her first companion in the MTC. She’s from Tahiti:

Her second companions are Sisters Manarani and Vasquez, from Columbia:

And her third and last companion in the MTC is Sister Tsuchiya from Japan:

More than these lovely photographs, I get to witness the miracles in her missionary life and our lives as someone who love and support her.

What this almost a month has done to her life is beyond words. But to fill in what can possibly be understood – it has prepared her to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone who would visit the headquarters.

I love how she has been called there. I love how evident that Sereene has the making of a great person, as she already is as far as I can recall.

Anna's reflections

Right Here, Right Now

I have not been reading lately and I see the difference. Everything becomes transitory and less meaningful. Things just happen and I don’t like it when they become mechanical.

I want to be able to stop and say, “That felt good, let me read or do that again” or “Wait, let me take note of that” or appreciate my children and write of their milestones, more of meaningful actions, less of rushing and meeting deadlines and making them the highlight of our days. They shouldn’t be.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest book, Here I Am, is auspicious. I mean, JSF is not everyone’s cup of tea. I heard many pertinent friends verbalized how they loathed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. They say his writings are pretentious and “impossible to sift through”, just like him. I, on the other hand, was drawn to him the moment I knew about him.

Don’t you find it fascinating that people have opposite opinions yet can still both be defensible?

Here I Am discusses the difference between further and farther and choosing what is indispensable. It’s the narrative of being present. When God called Abraham and put him to the test, Abraham responded, “here I am”. Not “Who is it?” or “Wait a minute” but “Here I Am”.  A lot of people say the test was to see how he would respond to God’s request.It’s all about our responses.

This brought me to a realization that it’s all about our responses. That feeling sometimes that you’ve always known something to be true but there’s a certain point in your life that that truth is solidified. It feels like you’re learning that principle for the very first time and you start to see it differently. What was once shared becomes your own valued intimacy. It’s our responses that make all the difference.

This is a novel of diaspora, of the elasticity of its numerous possible meanings. This is an existence of constant diasporas, continuously dispersing and hoping that one day we all come together and learn to see. As our response.

Time should not be running out all the time. It’s tiring to keep track of time, it’s depressing to run faster than we can. I love that we have the gift and freedom of availability despite the lack of it. I love that we can be strong amidst weaknesses.  I love that we can convert nouns into verbs. I love that we can choose to be present.

“What on Earth would it take for a fundamentally good human being to be seen?” wonders Samanta. “Not noticed, but seen. Not appreciated, not cherished, not even loved. But fully seen.”

Hello Yellow, Hi Sky

This is my story about fostering kittens for the first time and overcoming my ailurophobia or fear of them. 

I will be sharing with you series of their pictures from the time that my daughter rescued them outside our gate on May 1, 2017. 

This is to somehow enforce awareness to people about rescuing, not just kittens, but all kinds of animals. Where do we go in case we do not want to keep or foster them? How can we help promote animal welfare? 


Meet Yellow and Sky


A day after we went to PAWS. Look at how small Sky is in this photo. 








Sereene with Yellow and Sky



Yellow and Sky (22 days old in this photo)








Sky is more contemplative between the two. Yellow is the active one, always teasing Sky. 




June is the Mother of Potentials

June is the mother of potentials, ducklings swim bravely perhaps to the submarine jaws of snapping turtles, lettuces lunge toward cutworms, and families match the merits of sand and sunburn over fretful mountain nights loud with mosquito symphonies. This year I’m going to rest. I won’t get so tired. This year I won’t allow the kids to make my free two weeks a hell on wheels. I work all year. This is my time. I work all year. Vacation planning triumphs over memory and all’s right with the world.”

– John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

The Dark Side of Creativity: Chris Cornell and His Last Song

Cornell and his son, Christopher Nicholas Cornell, in New York City 2016

The moment I read the news on Facebook, I immediately thought of my best friend, B3. I have always said that I owe everything I know about music to him. His knowledge and love for music are irreproachable. That’s why when I found out about the sudden and shocking death of Chris Cornell two days ago, I knew in my heart this devastated him, deeply.

He’s very fond of the seminal band, Soundgarden, he may have attempted to pass on his love by sharing a song or two with me or maybe not because I don’t remember a thing but I feel sorry for myself that I do not really know anything about Chris Cornell except for the fact that he’s Kurt Cobain’s contemporary. That and SG, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Alice in Chains are all from Seattle, WA. That’s it.

B3 shared with me that Cornell took his own life by hanging and there was no trace or sign of depression prior to his passing.  I’m extra sensitive to this topic. Most of the people I admire all ended their lives by committing suicide, whether by OD, hanging, drowning or sticking their heads in the oven. I’m still skeptical whether the few artists, writers and people I know first hand, who passed away due to illnesses or accidents, would have also chosen the same path if they have lived long enough to make this tough choice.

My questions are – Is there a conscious effort on the part of the suicidal or depressed person to reveal their state of mind and intention to end their lives? Is there truly a person who wants to take his or her own life in the first place?

In 2012, Dr. Patrick J. Skerrett of Harvard Medical School wrote an article on suicide often not preceded by warnings:

“Suicide almost always raises anguished questions among family members and friends left behind: What did I miss? What could I have done?

“Many people never let on what they are feeling or planning. The paradox is that the people who are most intent on committing suicide know that they have to keep their plans to themselves if they are to carry out the act,” says Dr. Miller. “Thus, the people most in need of help may be the toughest to save.”

A suicidal person may be the life of the party or that friend of yours who makes sense out of things, all the time. It can be the dullest or the most creative human being in the room. It can be you or me.

I don’t think a person just decides one day he wants to die by hanging himself. Small children won’t want to go to school because they just don’t feel like, they don’t want to go because they do not see their value in that setting. They do not have anybody to call playmates or their teacher does not give them a single reason to attend classes.

Forum contributor, Karen Tiede said,“We try to save other people from killing themselves for exactly the same reason we treat broken bones, give drugs for infections, and keep sick babies in the hospital for a few weeks if they need more care than they can get at home.”

“The condition of being suicidal is temporary and can be repaired.  Most people who survive an intervention in their suicide attempt are glad to be alive after.” 

We are all involved as much as the suicidal person is. A person who dies of suicide only means a person who was not able to find help.

The questions we need to ask:

Was the person who took his life mentally ill?

Was he or she so deeply depressed as to be unbalanced or otherwise emotionally disturbed?

Was the suicide a tragic, pitiful call for help that went unheeded too long or progressed faster than the victim intended?

Did he or she somehow not understand the seriousness of the act?

Was he or she suffering from a chemical imbalance that led to despair and a loss of self-control?

Obviously, we do not know the full circumstances surrounding every suicide.

Back to Chris Cornell, those close to the Soundgarden/Audioslave frontman say he didn’t SEEM to be depressed or anxious before his death. Even his wife, Vicky Cornell, confirmed he did not display signs of depression and did not express anything suicidal in the last few weeks. Cornell was in the middle of a tour and performed Led Zep‘s In My Time of Dying on the night of his death as his last song in Detroit.

In an NBC report, Cornell spoke in the past about suffering from depression and substance abuse, including a drinking problem that blossomed during his time with Soundgarden. He credited rehab for getting clean. But he mentioned this years ago, you say? Yes, Sylvia Plath tried to slit her throat when she was 10 years old and was saved. Twenty years later, we all know what happened to her.

Related topic: The Role Of Impulsiveness Is One Of The Saddest Things About Suicide

Writer Corey Adwar talked about this impulsiveness when Robin Williams died, also by hanging.

“Suicidal urges are sometimes caused by immediate stressors, such as a break-up or job loss, that go away with the passage of time. 90% of people who survive suicide attempts, including the most lethal types such as shooting one’s self in the head, don’t end up killing themselves later. 

“A 1978 study of 515 people who were prevented from attempting suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge between 1937 and 1971 found after more than 26 years 94% were still alive or had died of natural causes.”

“Many rare survivors of Golden Gate Bridge suicide attempts recall regretting their impulsive decisions instantly — even as they were falling.”

RELATED TOPIC: Why are artists taking their own lives?

Living through this experience helps us understand the death of the person who committed suicide. We can be more compassionate, we can learn to listen more, be more charitable, be less judgmental, be less self-righteous, be more forgiving, be more selfless.

We learn to ask the WHYs and hopefully be better individuals toward our families moving forward.

Some people — including those who are more ambivalent about suicide — consciously or unconsciously drop hints.

As somebody who once contemplated and has overcome suicidal thoughts and attempts, and from a point of view of someone who is still battling depression, I say Chris Cornell showed signs. Clearly.

It’s just heartbreaking to learn that night, his impulsiveness got the best of him and nobody or nothing was there to intervene. It may have been Led Zeppelin’s song that capped or triggered his emotions, it may have been years of fronting this brave, grungy act, it may have been the stigma that’s crippling every artist on how they have higher tendency to commit suicide, it may have been due to everything, it may have been due to nothing-  nobody will ever know.

Or I guess we can ask him someday.

His Name is Clint

In all his essence,  Robert Kincaid let the irreverent rain absorb his entirety as he waited for Francesca Johnson to decide, will she run to him? Or give him something that will define what they had for four days, I guess we will never know, but he waited under the rain long enough to know he had to go. It was time to go. Francesca Johnson overcame the painful grip she has been sustaining and chose to stay in the car, as she watched Robert Kincaid disappear in his shabby truck. She chose to do the right thing in the end. 

That was a poor descriptive attempt to the ending of one of my most favorite films of all time, The Bridges of Madison County, perhaps my most favorite partnership of two eminent actors on screen, Streep and Eastwood. It’s too close to my heart that I find it painful to go through scene after scene for the sake of writing an article but I would like to focus on one thing- choosing to do the right thing in the end. 

To be continued…

P Train

­I will never be able to talk about M Train and share my review about my whole reading experience without being overly sentimental. I will probably just stick to what the cowpoke breathed at the last part of the book- “Some things, we save for ourselves”. The book’s limpid style will hook you to the reverence Patti Smith used in writing about attachments, loss, grief, acceptance and love for the dead and her fixation with cafés. If she calls the book her mental train, I call it my peace or peaceful train. I’ve never had a friend opening up to reveal herself to me in a long time and I boldly felt her intention to be one as she wrote her daily discourses. There was pure bliss in her everydayness, perhaps I saw a lot of myself in her and what I can do and just be when I’m back to the confinement of  living a solitary life. I have always envisioned my retirement years living in a cottage and earning the freedom and luxury to write without the worry of time.

Read it, read it-  is all I can say. A rite of passage. I have appreciated more the time to pay  attention to everything, then to nothing.

Continue reading “P Train”

What Our Mirrors Show

“Can you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?” Harry shook his head.

“Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help.”

Harry thought. Then he said slowly, “It shows us what we want… whatever we want…”

“Yes and no,” said Dumbledore quietly.

“It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.

“The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Harry, and I ask you not to go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don’t you put that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed.”

Continue reading “What Our Mirrors Show”