Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Mother in the Manger

The stories have the bright star shining overhead, Baby Jesus gargling happily, and Mary royally beaming at the reverent wise men, angels, shepherds, and coalition of animals.

I wonder what Mary really felt.

Was she simply overwhelmed with emotion for her son, her first?

Did she watch closely, for the miraculous rise and fall of life in each inhalation, and unconsciously check under His nose with her finger when the next breath came a little late?

Did she know how to bathe Him? How to swaddle Him with her blanket by tucking one ear over His right arm and then gently closing the other over His left?

Was she exhausted because she had to entertain wise men and shepherds while waking up every three hours to feed her baby?

Did she feel the wonderful weight of Him in her arms and smell the earthy milk scent that bound Him to her? Was she nervous at His newborn fragility, especially in the large hands of the adoring masses?

Did she laugh when His eyes rolled around, with difficulty focusing on the light, and His lids twitched rapidly in his dreams?

Did she cry just a little bit because He was hers, but also because He was God's - and the world's - and for that there would be wondrous and painful responsibilities for them?

Did she marvel that somehow she had done something so right to be called the chosen vessel? Did she doubt herself at all because she was also aware of her own weaknesses?

Did she feel the full power of her femininity because of her essential role in the Plan, not only as a mother, but also as a role model, a nurturer, a protector, a teacher, and a supporter of the Christ child?

Whenever I watch Chelsea tenderly stroke the mop of black hair on newborn Liana's head, I am sure that Mary must have felt the similar emotional tug of motherhood.

And because of that, Christ was one lucky baby.

Monday, December 24, 2012

From the Mouths of Teenagers

Mom: "So who wants to say the prayer?"

I bent down gingerly and sank to my knees, cradling my sleeping niece on my chest, to join the rest of the family around the futon.

Dad: "Can't wait for it to be your turn."

Me: "You want me to say the prayer?"

Dad: "No, get married and have your own kids. You're a natural."

I shifted my weight slightly.

Cody: "Yeah, how about Jeff?"

Jody: "Who's Jeff?"

Mom: "Oh! Jeff!"

Cody: "You know, the guy who came over for dinner. Sisi never met him. But he could fart the I am a Child of God song with his hands pretty good."

Jody: "Oh! Jeff!"

It's only been a week and my family is already scheming. Their tastes are so . . . reassuring.

This cute, wrinkly little thing.


Cody: Do you know what "Falsetto" means?

Jody: . . .

Cody: You don't even know this word? Man. It means embracing the creation of nature. It's like being an environmentalist. So when somebody says that you have a falsetto voice, he really means that you should become an environmentalist.

Jody: I knew that.

Cody: And do you know what Sacramento means?

Jody: How do you spell it? {While discreetly pulling it up in her online dictionary}

Cody: Sacre. Mento. It's the bridge between good and evil. The Sacrament. Get it?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Props to Great Propaganda

I woke up yesterday and decided that I should spend the weekend in Hong Kong. So I picked the earliest flight the next day and now I find myself sitting at the gate, fiddling with my boarding pass.

The Shanghai Pudong airport is a glass castle, with streaming sunlight and curvy modernist wooden ceilings. The free wifi is fast and free (absolutey worth mentioning it twice in the same sentence). The customs officers are young, thin, and above average looking in their flattering black canvas suits and laced up combat boots. But the most endearing part of it all are the flat screen TVs playing propagandistic vids while unsuspecting travelers with wandering minds line up for customs.

My favorite one is the rousing clip about the pride that overseas Chinese feel in their worn, red Chinese passports. No matter where they are, they pull out their well-loved passports and dream of home. The little book is a constant badge of honor, pushing them onwards so they can come back to the motherland one day and contribute their all.

I've always wondered why they got a passport to leave in the first place if they love home so much.

But then again, propaganda requires a suspension of disbelief, and this one makes me come pretty close.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I am a Twitter neub (@sisimessick) and decided to poke around the world of hashtags and shortened URLs to figure out how to make myself sound unbearably witty/ slightly outrageous/ remotely cool.

Amidst all the fantastic startup articles and NYT news that I got buried under, I stumbled upon #IfWeDate.

The thing is, I think these people are for real . . . which makes me wonder if that's the reason why they are not dating.

I've left out the grossly sexual ones (ugh, men) or the sickly cutesy ones ("#IfWeDate, I will 4eva have butterflies in mah stomach!") below, but curated the ones that seemed to hit "slightly outrageous" out of the park.

 just know you are not the NUMBER one priority in my life. I'm not getting left behind by putting you first.

 its probably going to be in your dreams.

 im not going to cheat on you..Even if you cheat on me. (I will break up with you and date your best friends)

 I'll let you pay for everything! Hahahaha

 you gottah feed me grapes in my mouth like a boss.

 you can't be in love with Justin Bieber, Zac Efron, Cody Simpson, Harry Styles, Channing Tatum, and me. That doesn't work out.

 I want a good morning text 3x a week

 I like my sandwiches without crust.” ☝And triple stacked.

 my enimies are yours and yours are mine

 I'll make sure to... Who am I kidding, here. You're going to go date the douchebag and leave me hanging again.

 we can be like Jack and Sally or if you're black Jay-z and Beyonce. Which means you're out of my league.

Pretty much  just be chill.. I don't like Crazy.. lol.. We'll smoke weed and do whatever!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


There were a lot of pathetic apologies from my end (I wasn't sure what I was supposed to apologize for). There were a lot of swearing and phone smashing from her end.

Around half a year ago, because of a series of miscommunication and misunderstandings, my friendship with a dear friend went up in flames, disintegrating in a very dramatic fashion.

Last week, during Thanksgiving, in between serving my first turkey with its odd patches of skin still barely attached and whipping up a banoffee pie, I felt prompted to call her and tell her how thankful I was for her friendship. She was my first friend when I arrived in China with my college life packed up in 8 suitcases, overwhelmed and underprepared. She was the reason why I could tell my mom that no, I really wasn't lonely, when I spent my birthday sans family and friends a week after moving here.

But eating the turkey did not give me the courage to call her. I wasn't joking about the flames.

Yesterday, while blow drying my damp hair, there was a more insistent tug at my heart to call her that day. I shook my head. Sure, I missed her, but I had moved on and it was best to leave it alone.

Then my mom called. Sisi, you need to check your email. Right now.

A mutual acquaintance, extremely protective of my friend, had felt obligated to write my mom a lengthy, passionate email and ask her to tell me to apologize.

Instantly, hurt, anger, disappointment, incredulousness formed a toxic mix in my heart, churning, wrenching it tighter and tighter, fueled by my feelings of being misjudged and mistreated. My parents spoke love and support to me and advised humility and faith, seeing this as a chance to act on the promptings I had received earlier.

I ate nothing all day, filling my hands with meaningless tasks so they would have yet another excuse to avoid the phone. My pride was equivalent to seven hours of pacing around the house.

Finally, I had to unclench my fist, actively choose to not be offended and recognize that this was the push I needed to call her. She picked up immediately. Hey, it's me. My heart, previously wrung tight and hard, literally softened at her voice. I told her how I was really grateful for her and that I had really missed her. As I started apologizing, more sincere this time because I actually understood more of her own hurt and disappointment from the email, she cut me off.

She had hit rock bottom recently. She really needed a friend. She also felt strongly that she should call me the last two weeks, but was afraid of my indifference. She said that my call had meant more than I would ever understand.

We both cried on the phone while telling the other how amazing she was. An hour later, we were still laughing and reminiscing about my terrible falling-asleep-in-awkward-places habit and her crazy colleague stories.

We both healed on this call. We chose to forgive and so we were forgiven.

All it took was a little unclenching of the fist.

Even the pricks can be beautiful.
Taken in Sahuarita.