Past, Present, Future
Back in my grandmother’s day she lived in the mountains of Laos. Her family farmed on arable land and had a herd of cows. The mountains were awfully scary because no one really knew of the dangers it enclosed. She once told me about one of her close relatives buried in the mountains. When one dies, the family and the relatives gather around the deceased for a whole night to make sure no one disturbs the coffin and to watch over the dead. It was getting late so the family told a retarded guy around his twenties to watch over the coffin while the family returned home. As the sun fell and the moon rose, the dead in the coffin got out and stiffly walked into the woods close by. The guy watching saw the dead grow a long tail and sharp claws before walking off into the woods.
The first memory I have was when my mom returned from California. I must have been two or two and a half that year. We were in the living room of our suburban, double wide house. My mom was sitting on the couch eating food set on top of a chair. My three year old sister was there too. She was playing, standing or sitting on the couch or floor talking to my mom about her trip to California. She was standing beside the food holding the chair and talking to my mom. I don’t remember, but I know it was one of the two. I, on the other hand, was crawling on my knees and hands between and around the chair. Or was it that I was sitting diagonally from my mom on the living room floor? My mom was eating rice, with hot pepper and watermelon. My mom asked us if we missed her while she was gone. I can’t remember my sister’s response, but I do remember mine. I didn’t give her a verbal response but shook my head “no” and turned away when I felt my eyes fill up with tears. I don’t know why I had that choking moment of crying or why my eyes filled up with tears. I honestly didn’t care or miss her because I had no memories of her except this one. Maybe it was my mom’s gentle voice or her teasing smile.
When I was younger my father would sometimes drink Budweiser or wine just to have something to do instead of sit all day. Not because he was addicted or anything of that nature. My oldest brother and a few of my sisters would form a semicircle around my father and watch him chug down a cup or two before putting it away. He would sometimes offer us a sip or two, not to get us addicted but to see the silly expression we made in response to the bitterness. My older brother, being the daring one, would sometimes take down half a can. My older sisters however, took a sip and pulled away as quickly as the bitterness got to their taste buds. I was trying to be as brave as my brother. Therefore, I took in at least a whole mouth full before I gave up.
As a child I was a brave and naughty warrior. I was spoiled so I was able to explore my curiosity without punishment. Like the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat. I didn’t actually die but a part of me did. I feared expressing my curiosity and chose to bottle it up, which led to my quiet and shyness. As I remember, we were in the garage hiding from the neighbors black dog in the front lawn. It was me, my oldest brother, and my three older sisters. The dog was in the middle of the lawn, holding us back from reaching the chicken-coop near the woods. My father had gone earlier in the morning and didn’t get to face the short ugly black dog. My older sister ran with her quick legs and reached the chicken-coop quickly and safely with only a few barks from the dog. I went half way and then pulled back for no reason. The dog sensed my fear and came after me. Afterwards I blacked out and couldn’t recall what happened that afternoon except the fear of the dog.
In my family we don’t throw big parties for someone’s birthday, instead my siblings or parents give us mini gifts such as a twenty dollar bill from my father, hand-me-downs or kind acts from my sisters, and the usual love, nurturing and care from my mother. My father was the only one in the house with a stable job so I was grateful and thankful for any money he was willing to give me. My sisters’ trash was my treasure so I didn’t really mind the hand me downs. Even though my father gave me money I never spent much because I felt that everything I needed I already had. That was how most of my birthdays went ever since I was five and could keep up with money. However, there was one birthday, MY GOLDEN BIRTHDAYthat I’ll never forget! My mom and dad had just cashed their checks and they were going to go to Aldis to buy us some groceries since they hadn’t gone to a grocery for two weeks. I ran up to the car and was about to get in when my oldest sister brushed passed me and stole my spot in the truck. I sat on the driveway and cried exhaustedly. The car drove up the road and my sister yelled out the rear window “Hey, I’ll get you some ice cream for your birthday.” Whoa, I was so-o-o ticked.
I have a photograph that was taken in my hometown. My father took this photo of all my sisters and my little brother along with his mother. We dressed up in our traditional Hmong clothing because my other grandmother from California had come to visit. We also took pictures with her because that was the last day she was with us before she returned home. The girls standing closer to my grandmother are my older sisters. Back then I was shorter. The one standing beside me is a year older than me. The girl on the other side is now a rising sophomore in college and is four years older than me. The girl on the other side of my oldest sister is two years older than me and the tallest in the family, but still acts like a kid. My younger brother is now in the sixth grade and is still a stubborn and spoiled brat. My little sister, on the other hand, didn’t get as spoiled, but is an idiot always seeking attention.
My first trip to Minnesota was because my parents had another one of those arguments about money and relatives. My dad had left North Carolina for Minnesota alone without notifying my mom. This wasn’t the only reason why my mom decided to go; there are more details that I’d rather not mention. After my dad returned for a couple of weeks, my mom bought plane tickets and flew us to St. Paul, Minnesota where my uncles lived. We were picked up by my Uncle Chue who once lived with us along with his wife and kids. This was the uncle we were closer to since he was the only one we had met from my mom’s side. He took us to his home, an apartment on the second floor, small but livable. Since his apartment was small and he had many children of his own, some of us were divided and went to my mom’s oldest brother’s home, which was bigger and made it seem like he had less children, even though they each have the same number of children. I stayed with the oldest uncle who took us to parks and other places to have fun.
My second visit to Minnesota was at the start of school. This time it wasn’t a visit like the first. I was going to start my first year in middle school as a seventh grader and be reunited with my friends from the second grade, first grade and kindergarten. We moved after two weeks of school because of the issues between my parents. My mom took the whole family except for my dad to Minnesota after he left for work. We were moving away from him because he was a bad influence. When we reached Minnesota we stayed with my Uncle for a while and then started searching for a home. It took a long time before we were able to find a home with a low rent. We stayed there for a year and then left for another new home. When we first settled up here I complained about anything and everything that I came into contact with. Life in Minnesota is getting better and I’m starting to adapt to it. The schools, streets and even teachers are very different from where I used to live. However, it’s been three years and I see now that I won’t regret moving up here because of everything I’ve been through and experienced. This is the place for me to start my dreams.
Naturally, we (my family) would have moved to Minnesota and lived in St. Paul, but because my mom had a closer bond to my Uncle Chue we decided to stay with them for a few months and then decide where we would settle down next. Our first home in Minnesota was Mary’s place where we stayed for a month and then had to move back with my Uncle Chue because our promised time was out. We stayed with them for a couple more months and then found another home in Minneapolis over at Oliver. A year passed and my mom’s car was dying and my Uncle and Aunt from California were going to move in. Since my mom’s car was our only transportation and we knew more people in Minneapolis we decided to stay in Minneapolis.
My weekend was packed. I couldn’t wait to get time to myself. On Friday night I came home and went directly to bed. I went to bed early because that week I had woken up between six and seven in the morning and not gotten the sleep my head and body yearned for. The next morning I woke up at six without actually intending to get up so early. I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and take a quick shower/bath. Excited about the weekend I ran all over the house trying to get my chores done so I’d get time to myself. Unluckily, I was too quick or perhaps to slow to have finished my chores just as my auntie called from downstairs requesting a babysitter. I eventually had to go down and babysit for about four or five hours before returning upstairs. I fell asleep on a comfortable couch during the first few hours and then woke up after remembering I was downstairs babysitting. The children weren’t crying or causing a riot so I decided to read “The Latehomecomer” by Kao Kalia until I noticed a stench coming from the baby. I cleaned her up and rocked the baby to sleep. Afterwards I continued reading my book until my Uncle and Aunt came home. I had a little time on my hands so I messed with the computers and then ran out to the backyard to chase and play with my little brother. Finally, Sunday came. It wasn’t as I expected, because I didn’t get to spend my time doing everything I wanted. This was to exercise and straighten out my room and belongings. Other than that I enjoyed reading through most of “The Latehomecomer” and talking with my grandmother and I wouldn’t take it back. As a matter of fact“The Late Homecomer” was what encouraged me to finally have the conversation I wanted with her. To talk about her past like Kao Kalia did with her family.
My first intentions of finding a job were to gain work experience and earn money. Before beginning this job I didn’t know how to begin the conversation for selling an ad or soliciting donations. After I practiced and was given a few pointers, I learned how to communicate on the phone about ads and donations to business owners. I was still nervous in the first few weeks of starting, but later found the job easy despite a few rude replies. The rude replies knocked down my hope of making a sale or receiving donations which made me dislike the job, but I became more confident in voicing my opinions, which is a useful tool since I’ll be presenting numerous speeches and interviewing for more jobs in the future. This experience also helped me eliminate the choice of wanting to become a secretary, because I dislike answering phone calls and dealing with customers. In addition to sales over the phone, my job required many topic researches and creativity. The research I did pertained to drugs, HIV/AIDS and issues teens my age face. Since my job required many topic researches I got the chance to exercise my researching skills and learn some facts about the subjects. In addition, I can apply the experience and skills I’ve mastered to my schoolwork and in my search for jobs. Once I’ve gathered up all the information necessary, I use the data I gathered to come up with slogans. After a few days of editing the slogans, I combine the slogan with the images I created to make a postcard. Putting a postcard together was a bit difficult for me since I lacked creativity and computer skills. However, my colleagues and supervisors made my work easier because they showed me how to use the Apple software and gave me suggestions on how to make my postcard so it would send the message I intended it too. What I like most about working in Asian Media Access was the kind colleagues and supervisors. Thanks to the help of my co-workers my job became easier and I was able to slowly develop my computer skills and creativity skills.
What I like most about my life is being taught and learning morals, learning about myself, learning about my background, learning about life, how to be and what to do. What I dislike most about my life is being clueless all the time, being helpless, having no creativity and not being able to help my mother, my father, my sisters, my brothers and myself.
My purpose in life is to help my family be logical and successful instead of turn into evil criminals. My purpose is to be hope for my mom. To be my mother’s motivation, only reason to live everyday instead of disappointing her like my older brother did, leaving her with a bad reputation. My purpose in life is to benefit from the opportunities that my parents weren’t offered. My purpose is to lead a successful life. My purpose is to keep the tradition alive.