The Next Days

Work was slow this afternoon, so I went home early.  There’s still packing to be done, and cooking, and laundry.

I haven’t been able to go on Facebook much today, but I did find a picture that Soorya took just before his commencement, and a few words he wrote that day.  I have nothing to add.  I hope I carry these words in my heart forever.

“It’s not goodbye. It’s never is. World’s a little too small for that.
To anyone I’m graduating with, it’s been an amazing four years. Wouldn’t have been the same without every one of you.
To anyone still at Rice- you’ve got a little ways to go, but you’ll make it. You aren’t forgotten. Y’all will always be in my thoughts as I move on from here.
I love you all.”

As I write these words, I am in shock.  

Soorya Avali, one of my college-mates at Rice, is gone.

I type them, but I can’t believe these sentences are real.  It seems irreverent to talk about Soorya in the past tense, because he was so full of life.  As an engineer, he was brilliant.  As a person, he was beyond so.

He is, I believe, the sixth person we have lost from Rice this year.  There have been so many from this small campus that it’s getting difficult to keep track.  

I won’t pretend that I knew him very well.  Certainly I didn’t know him as well as I should have.  But there are two things I want to talk about before I close.

Around this time last year, I was in a difficult place.  It seemed like all of Rice hated me – wanted me to stop writing – wanted me to stop existing, even.  I was seriously considering transferring universities.  Soorya was among a few upperclassmen who extended silent, clear support.  He “liked” my blog posts and terrible poetry and spoke to me directly and with respect, the same way he always had.  I never sensed pity or disdain from him.  I sensed optimism and hope.

The last conversation I clearly remember having with Soorya was last April, during Beer Bike.  I was wandering off by myself blowing giant bubbles when I caught Soorya’s attention.  “Wow,” he said, focusing on me with his camera.  I wasn’t drunk, but I was tipsy, and my lack of coordination combined with my self-consciousness stopped me from blowing any pretty, perfect bubbles.  

“Sorry,” I said.  “No, look!  These are great!” he responded, showing me the pictures.  And they were.  Soorya would do that.  He would take the most ordinary things and, through some combination of skill and magic, make them beautiful.

I will leave the title of this post blank, because I can think of no short word or phrase to encompass everything that he was, and I will not try.  Maybe it was because of his photographs of Shenandoah National Park that I think now of an excerpt from Pablo Neruda’s Cien Sonetos de Amor:

… suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

My heart goes out to Soorya’s friends and family and to Rice, the school he loved so well.

The Liebster Award Nomination

Yesterday I was surprised to get my first blog comment (comments still have to be moderated, which has something to do with it, I expect) from The Stellular Scribe:

Hi there! Your writing is really very beautiful, and I enjoy reading your blog. I’d like to nominate you for the Liebster Award.

The nomination is amazing, the award is charming, but what surprises me the most is that in the year this blog has been active I’ve gained 70 followers!  From the days of TMI Monday to my automatic writing attempts to my ever-more-rambling poetry, thank you all for sticking with me for so long and for putting up with an admittedly quite young and inexperienced poet’s attempts to find her voice.

Anyway, the rules for accepting the nomination are as follows:

The Liebster Award Rules

  1. Thank the nominator and post a link to his/her blog ✓
  2. Display the award on your blog ✓
  3. Answer the eleven questions provided by the nominator ✓
  4. Nominate 5-11 blogs which have less than 1,000 followers, and let them know they’ve been nominated ✓
  5. Make up and post eleven questions for your nominees to answer ✓
  6. Post these rules on your blog ✓

And the questions given to me are:

1. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

This question is tricky, because it’s not the more common “if you could do anything, what would it be?”  I suppose I’d really like to learn to act.  Definitely not the most practical of talents – and I discovered my latent love for theatre a little too late in college to switch majors – but as my directors can tell you, I desperately need some help!

2. What would you title the autobiography of your life?

If You Don’t Want to Be Alone?  Because it’s my current favorite song because it’s probably deep-sounding enough to distract from the contents of the book!

3. At what age did you become an adult? (if ever)

Well, Wikipedia says an adult is a human being that has reached sexual maturity, but on the other hand I still haven’t gotten a job with a healthcare plan, so I’m going to go with “not an adult yet.”

4. What question do you hate to answer?

“What do you want to do after you graduate?”  If you want to stay on my good side, never ever ask me this!  I don’t even have a solid plan for the next two months, let alone the next two years.

5. Who is your hero and why?

My heroes are friends and colleagues who have not only survived, but thrived under adverse yet invisible circumstances: surgeries that don’t leave visible scars, illnesses that have no physical symptoms.  You know who you are, and you know that I love you.  To face the world under such conditions requires exceptional grace.

6. If you suddenly had the ability to time travel, but only for one trip, where and when would you go?

I’d probably fast forward five or ten years into my future, just to reassure myself that it does indeed exist.

7. What is your favorite thing to spend money on?

Food.  I could spend (and have spent, many times) hours in a supermarket drooling over food I can’t afford.  I crave pastries in the way I imagine wealthy women must crave designer handbags.

8. What’s the most striking dream you can remember? Have you ever had a lucid dream?

My grandmother passed away when I was seven, so I don’t have many memories of her.  About five years ago, however, I had a dream that I was walking alongside a road in a forest, when my grandmother pulled up next to me in a light blue truck!  She was wearing jeans and a lavender cowboy (girl?) hat.  My grandmother never learned to drive during her lifetime, so I’d like to think that wherever she is, she’s blasting down the highway listening to her favorite tunes on the radio.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a lucid dream.

9. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

The ability to read people’s minds – of course, I’d have to be able to turn it on and off at will.

10. If you could be an expert in any field, what field or subject would it be?

Infectious disease.  Enough said?  Enough said.

11. Do you collect anything?

The closest thing to a collection that I have is my folder full of greeting cards.  I probably have about fifty that have been sent to me by various people, and I can never bring myself to throw them out!

Here are the five blogs I’ve nominated for this (adorable, inspiring) award.  Check them out if you have time!

Shorts and Snippets

Yukki Li



Gotta Write Fast

And here are my questions:

  1. What’s your favorite kind of music?
  2. Do you have a favorite writer?  If so, who is it?
  3. What are you usually doing on Friday night?
  4. If you had to lose one of your five senses, which would it be and why?
  5. What is your dream job?
  6. What was your dream job when you were younger?
  7. What do you associate the color orange with?
  8. If you had to live in a country other than the one you currently live in, which would it be?
  9. Do you have a pet peeve/”berserk button”?  What is it?
  10. What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
  11. What is your best trait?

Thanks again for the nomination, Stellular Scribe!  Here’s to another three years of blogging.


I am tall but I know many good ways
to make myself disappear: jeans on the
subway, button-downs in the hospital. One
December morning my boyfriend said I
looked like a cat with its paws curled
against its face, and I thought of all
the times I’d flattened around doors, melted
into trees, huddled under my car’s steering
wheel, all sixty-seven inches of me, passing
time breathing air against space. I practice
disappearing so much you’d be surprised
at the weight these bones can hold. There are
galaxies in my orbits, precious metals
in my mallei, so don’t worry if I can’t be found:
my neurons are anchors dug in concrete.

Earl Grey Tea Cookies, Take Two

What She's Having

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who left a comment on my last post. My family has gone through a tough time lately, and although I’d prefer not to get into the details here, the virtual hugs are very much appreciated.

Secondly, I’d like to apologize to all my subscribers and followers for hitting “publish” instead of “preview” earlier today. This was the second time I’ve made that mistake, and I’m hoping I’ll never do it again. I hope having a broken link in your reader wasn’t too much of an annoyance.

Now onto the cookies. I was heading to a friends for coffee this weekend and didn’t want to show up empty handed. Cookies were the obvious choice; they’re quick, easy, and very transportable. I had a lot ideas about what to make but, as my mom pointed out, few ingredients. I took a look in the…

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