Welcome to Perpetual Ponderings of Alice Chen!

Hello friends!

Welcome to my blog!

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Desert | Quick Piece

I felt the heat scorching my skin, but I continued walking. It’s been a week since I left home and I’ve come across this desert. Leaving home wasn’t a big deal, but I knew that once I reached this desert, the fight for my life would begin. The water in my backpack sloshed and I made a mental note in my mind. Just about thirty minutes ago, I drank about 4 ounces of water, which is about a quarter of a standard water bottle. I’ve got 2 more water bottles. “Crap!” I muttered to myself. “I better save my water or else I’ll run out.” The sun was bearing down on me and I felt my sweat run down my back. I pictured a bunch of sweat droplets landing on the sand and quickly being dried up by the sun. It’s almost as if a little part of myself was journeying to meet the sun and going back to the Earth again. Nearly three hours later, my eyelids were drooping and I was down to the final couple ounces of water in my water bottle. I had stripped down to my underwear and wore my t-shirt on my head to absorb some sweat. I fell down to my knees and started regretting my decision to leave home. “You bastard desert!” I cried out while pounding the soft sand. “I thought if I could take you on, then my life would be easier!” I sobbed into the sand and the sand clung to every inch of me. I curled into fetal position and saw the orange desert horizon hugging the blue sky one more time before closing my eyes and whispering, “You can take me now, desert.”

Unlimited Balance | Quick Piece Breakdown

Hello everyone,

Sorry about the delay – my first day of classes was yesterday, so I had to deal with buying textbooks at a good deal and making sure I went to all my classes as well as trudging through the snow.

Unlimited Balance

Ever since I started reading, I’ve always loved to read fantasy books that contained some kind of magical powers. Naturally, I gravitated towards the Harry Potter series although my sixth grade teacher told me to pick another book to read after plowing through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Anyways, I’ve always found those type of books to be fascinating. As I developed my writing, I always seem to sneak in a “magical abilities” story which always end up coming out quite cheesy and cliché. For this story, I tried really hard like I did for “Incredible” to piece together a comprehensive story with my usual excitement.

This story is basically about a ritual a family goes through to gain their magical ability. As each child turns 10, they’re given the ability to pick an ability out of mystical jar. I didn’t want to focus on the details behind why the family did it like that. I wanted to focus more on the reactions and incorporate a little more comedy with the magical genre just so it wouldn’t become the usual fantasy piece. The kid ended up picking out the “unlimited balance” ability which confused everyone because it wasn’t as straight forward as it seems to be. I wanted it to be more so of an ability that is something that we wouldn’t really request for like teleportation or having food appear instantly in front of you, but it’s more of a “subtle ability”. It’s the ability to have a good and regulated life which is definitely not something a 10 year old would have. Eventually, the story concludes with a sweet ended about the kid, now a grandfather, telling his grandson about the stories of the choosing process.

As usual, I wanted my story to have a theme of family unity as well as some lighthearted humor. I also wanted to focus on the beauty of the simplicity that life can carry. Sometimes we can get caught up on things we need to do and things we haven’t done, but we should just sit in awe of how far we’ve come.

Thanks for reading & stay warm!

Alice

 

Unlimited Balance | Quick Piece

“Today’s the day!” I announced. My older brother patted me on the back and said, “It’s going to be great. I hope you get an awesome power.” Today was the day I’ve been waiting for since I could start walking. When you turn 10, you have the ability to choose an ability whether it be elemental manipulation, shadow control, animal shape-shifting ability or even invisibility – anything you can imagine! Two years ago, my brother got the ability to summon a large flock of birds. It sounds useless, but it’s great if you forget something at home. A kind little crow would bring him his notes and everything was fixed. I hope that I’ll get something cool like summoning fire demons or controlling bodily functions. “Honey, it’s time to pick your ability!” my mom called from downstairs. I rushed downstairs and saw my brother, mom and dad standing in a row wearing long flowing robes. I felt kind of inadequate with my favorite rock band t-shirt and plain jeans. My dad stepped forward and said in a loud booming voice, “My dear son, you’ve proven to us as a part of the Sullivan clan that you’re worthy. It’s now time to commemorate your 10th year by choosing your ability.” He held out a large jar that was constantly shifting through the spectrum of the sky and continued, “Reach into the jar and whatever is destined for you will come to you.” At this point, my palms were sweating and I was terrified I might get the ability that my aunt got – unlimited lemons.” I glanced at my brother who barely fits in his robe and he winked at me. I took a deep breath and reached into the jar. It felt cool and warm at the same time and I wasn’t sure if it was wet or dry. My family started to hum as I extended my fingers in the jar. Something heavy landed in my palm and I pulled out my hand. There was a small, smooth black box sitting in my palm. “Open it! See what it says!” my family exclaimed as they pulled off their robes. I sat down on the couch and opened the box with shaky hands. I pulled out a small slip of paper and read, “You have been gifted with the unlimited balance ability.” My mind was already going in circles when my brother blurted out, “What is that supposed to mean?” My dad got up from his chair and pulled out his giant book of magic abilities and started flipping through the pages while muttering, “I’ve never heard of that in all my years of being a mage.” My mom stared at the small piece of paper and said with a spark in her voice, “Maybe it means that you can’t be pushed over!” She gestured to my brother and told him to push me. My brother gleefully said, “I can’t believe mom gave me permission to push you!” He gave me a hard shove and I ended up toppling to the ground. My dad was still flipping madly through his books and he ended up consulting a 5,000 year old book, but he still couldn’t find anything. At the end, we never figured out what unlimited balance was supposed to be. For a while, I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t turn into anything or summon a beast, but to be honest I was pretty happy with myself.

“Hey grandpa, what did you get for your ability?” my grandson sat in my lap and fiddled with my beard. “Well sir, I got the unlimited balance ability.” I said with a smirk. My grandson wrinkled up his nose and said in a high-pitched voice. “What the heck is that?” I chuckled and said, “I guess it just means that I have the highest blessing to having a good life. And look! You came along.” I hugged him tight and felt my heart grow bigger.

Unconfined Thoughts 31 – The High School Days

I remember you sitting across from me during lunch and complaining to everyone else about the uncalled for English homework. How does the teacher expect us to write a 2 page paper about Hamlet when we have that math quiz to study for? I silently watched everyone pick through their lukewarm lunches and pass around math packets. We would chat about Instagram follower to following ratios and whether or not that deemed our peers to be popular or not. We never used the word “popular” but we just talked about different people on rotation.

I remember how you bragged about being the oldest one in the class, propping your feet up on the desk and whining about how much you wanted to be done with school and especially this class. I wish I could tell you that we all wanted to be done. Sitting in a class about politics in the final months of being a senior in high school was never a good combination. I couldn’t help but flashback to when we ran against each other in middle school for president and I hated you because you took the time and effort to make stickers while I prepped myself for failure.

I remember hearing your voice in French class and thinking that it was a terrible accent, but mine was probably worse. I looked around that class and feeling a strange sense of belonging and annoyance since we’ve stuck together in that class since the middle school days, allowing the burden of school to slowly whittle off the undedicated and leave this group behind. Although, I didn’t go to France with you, so I couldn’t laugh at all the inside jokes.

I remember training with you during track season and watching you round off the 200 meter curve while I was still coming up on the straight 100 meter. Eventually you would learn of my hidden strength, the strength to never stop until I crossed the line even if it meant that I came in last. I heard your strong voice push through my heaving breaths and I put another foot forward.

Most of all, I remember listening and watching to everyone to the point where I felt like I had embodied most of them. I could feel the mood of the school, but I was always seen on the outside. I watched relationships grossly and beautifully unfold, but I also played witness to the groups of friends shielding the couple from each other after a nasty breakup. I listened to the sharp whispers once the teacher left the room for information of what happened over the weekend. I watched the soccer guys stroll down the hall with the soccer girls as they pass me and I grab my books and walk behind them. They were in my class anyways and I always knew who was going to take whomever to prom. But every once in a while, a gap in the dragging conversations would appear and I would drop my classic “one-liners” and shock my classmates to no end. I gained an odd reputation, not enough to have casual check-up conversations but enough to have a good time in that second.

Choices, choices | Poetry Breakdown

Hello everyone,

I say this every year, but I’m going to try my best to create and post more. School will be peaking and then starting to bittersweetly wind down. By then, I’ll hopefully be starting a job or getting close, so I’ll have more time to write more. If I start slacking off, just yell at me!

Choices, choices

“Which one would it be?”
you say, a voice full of emotion and confusion.
You proposed a future coupled where falling in love
was something you took as a supplement
not as a main course.
My voice, silent and you asked,
“Why should I be there for you?”

Through the dark hallways, seeing the light shining down
and illuminating unusual crevices,
I make my way to your office.
“You have to either try harder or drop out.”
your beady eyes stare at me and I feel my heart rate increase
as each second passes by.
“You don’t want to have to drop out, right?”
she says smugly.
My fist quietly balls up and my eyes well up
where only the bathroom at the end of the hall
hear my sobs.

The air conditioning yells at me and a headache starts to ball up
under my neck.
“What would you do if I kissed you right now?
eyes straight ahead, but voice full of curiosity.
I think to myself,
Either I force this affection onto myself or I play dumb.
“If you kissed me right now, then I would say ‘why?’”
I was being honest, but you took it as a flirty notion.

I want to wake up from those nightmares
pinch myself as hard as I could
and step out of my body, so I didn’t have to be there
when I made the deciding choice.
One step and I could be dead on the side of the road.
Another step and I’ll be known as the impulsive and indifferent bitch.

Which would it be?

The first three stanzas were about three scenarios where it caused my heart to stop in its track, jump into my head and start racing like a madman. I’ve been offered to be an alternate love track, been given lousy advice from my academic advisor and someone mistook my honesty as if I was flirting. I used to shrivel up within myself and refused to make the decision. During these moments, I was forced to make a decision and realized that there were more than 2 decisions. Through trial and error, I finally was able to discern what would be best for me while fully knowing that there will be consequences either way.

This goes to the final stanza where I address the reality of all these choices. Most of the time, it’s really unpleasant. It sucks to have to make such important decisions since it’s obvious that someone is going to be affected. The thing is, we can’t go around living life full of fear of affecting someone. Instead, we should just embrace it! It’s a lot better to be moving progressively than stagnant.

I feel like this poem was very appropriate for the dry (and freezing) season of winter where it seems like after the holiday season, everything feels lackluster. It might be because of the holiday hangover, the fact that the sun sets at 5pm or there isn’t a holiday around the corner for a while. Maybe it’s all of the above. For me, a new school semester is starting and it’ll be my final semester as an undergrad. It’s a pretty crucial semester since I’m wrapping up my credits and program while looking for jobs at the same time. It can put a great deal of pressure on my back. My friends, family and random people ask, “What are you going to do after you graduate?” These questions make it really hard to stay optimistic since I always answer (too) honestly, “I have no idea! Maybe copy editing, maybe anything!” And my mind goes to the GoogleDoc I have of a record of everywhere I’ve applied to and a reminder of an empty email inbox.

All in all, you can’t avoid these choices because it’s like taking a step back. Take a bold step and see where it takes you! Let me know if any of you are going through a period of great changes.

Thanks for reading!

Alice

 

Incredible | Quick Piece Breakdown

Hello everyone,

Long time no story! I hope you enjoyed this cute little story!

Incredible

Even though I’ve been writing poetry, it was a slightly awkward transition to getting back to writing stories, so I had to start simple. This past year, I participated in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest, which is basically a writing contest where you get a genre, setting and an object that you need to use in a story. To top it off, you have to submit the story within 48 hours of finding out the genre. There are 4 rounds that you write through each with different genres, settings and objects, but based on how well you do with point systems especially in the second round, it will allow you to proceed to the next rounds. Unfortunately, I got 0 points for the 1st and 2nd round, but the awesome thing about this contest is that the judges will write commentary for your pieces! And boy, did I learn a lot. The judges loved my story concept, but had trouble grasping my sentence structure and story organization. By starting back to the basics (like seriously), I’m going to be forced to be more conscious about all the nitty gritty stuff that make up a story.

Simply put, this story is about the innocence and wonder of a child that passes onto a mother and the older, the loving bond between a mother and daughter and self-esteem. I love exploring themes about familial bonds and self-esteem because it’s so pure. But this time, I took care to make sure the story actually flowed and not so much on the fancy words. I think it turned out quite nice – let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading!

Alice

Incredible | Quick Piece

“Hey! Are you watching?” my daughter called out from a distance. “I’m about to do something incredible!” My three year old daughter recently learned the word, incredible and she’s been throwing it around correctly, but oftentimes incorrectly. I smiled as I watched her tumble on the grass, sending her dress flying over her head. “Ta-da!” she happily called out. She rushed over to me and whispered loudly, “I have to do an incredible thing in the bathroom now.” I stifled my laughter and helped her to the bathroom. This is definitely something I’ll have to record in the books just to do her future self a favor. I hoisted her up so she could wash her hands. She gleefully wiggled her feet and splashed at the water while making faces. “I’m the incredible water monster!” she roared at herself, causing some older ladies to chuckle. “Oh my! That was a terrifying roar!” one of them remarked. I set my daughter on the ground and she asked the old lady, “What does terrifying mean?” The old lady bent down and said, “It means that it’s so powerful, it’s scary just like that roar you did.” My daughter looked at me in amazement and said, “Am I terrifying?” I laughed and said, “When you don’t want to take your nap, you are, but you’re my sweet girl.” My daughter pouted and frowned. “I want to be terrifying!” At this point, the old lady got up and winked at me. “Well young lady, I think what your mom means is that your sweetness is your terrifying-ness! You’re a wonderful monster.” My daughter beamed and tugged at my hand. “Did you hear what she said? I’m a wonderful monster! What does wonderful mean?” I laughed and gave her a hug. “It’s who you are.”