[Story] Spirit Awakening – Chapter 2: Lucid

1/3 - Night Light

Table of Contents

  1. Chapter 1 – Awakening (Lee)
  2. Chapter 2 – Lucid (Anna)
  3. Chapter 3 – Coming Soon

Chapter 2 – Lucid

Sometimes, I have dreams where I am swimming in the ocean. Surrounded by unseen aquatic creatures.

I am invisible.

From the depths, a huge mass surges towards me.

Panicked, I try to swim away until the snout of a very large creature nuzzles me, helping to push me up to the surface. Its fin gingerly cradling me until I burst through the liquid sky, diamond droplets, shimmering, so dazzling in the setting sun.

I soar, my eyes closed, my body weightless, cold air buffeting my rosey cheeks. I am one with everything.

I open my eyes to billowing fluffy clouds, and I float further and further. The idea of flying doesn’t frighten me, in fact, it feels ever so natural. The white puffs adorn a veil upon my body.

A loud crack splits the sky asunder. A chasm emerges and my world goes spiraling, like watercolor paints being washed down a drain.

Sinking into the sky, I turn myself about–crawling, clawing as my surroundings begin to shrink.

I am helpless to fight against the torrent.

Just as I am about to be swallowed whole, my mind clears and there is only a singular feeling–

“I want to live!”

But, it’s too late. I’m already gone…

[Story] Spirit Awakening – Chapter 1: Awakening

smoke signals
I decided to start writing creatively again. I’ll be doing so in chapters. I’ve started with a short story that was inspired, but NOT directly taken from one of my best friends from Elementary. I’ve always wanted to write about Hmong culture and Shamanism, as my paternal family line had many shamans, and so I thought that highlighting a #HmodernHmong woman’s journey into discovering and awakening to these spirits would be an interesting twist.


Table of Contents

  1. Chapter 1 – Awakening
  2. Chapter 2 – Lucid (Anna)
  3. Chapter 3 – Coming Soon

Chapter 1 – Awakening

I’ve been laying here in bed for what seems like forever, but I know how long. I’ve counted. Two days, four hours, six minutes, 53 seconds. 54. 55. Wrapped with this agonizing pain in my gut or what used to be there. And I just keep looking at the peaks and valleys that trace the lines of my palms.

Seven minutes and five seconds.



This line here is your life line. This line that runs down from your fingers and across your upper palm, that’s your love line. And this line on my palm, the one that is cut in half, fractured into a million pieces–that is my family line.

42 seconds.



I had gone to a fortune teller just four days back. I was just too excited to go and get my future read. I had heard of this one in particular because my friends all raved about him. And quite honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect. Maybe I was a little anxious even.

But I went anyway because, I don’t know–morbid curiosity? Maybe because I knew that it was fake. Perhaps I did it because I just wanted someone to look me deep into my eyes, to create an artificial connection, to create a paper mache future that I could take with me to throw away at a later time.

Whatever it was, I just wanted to finally bite the bullet and go. And I know now that I regret going.

But Lia really insisted that I go and so I went. Continue reading

Photo-A-Day: January 3rd – Night Light

January 3rd - Night Light

In an attempt to continue to be more creative, I’m trying to hold myself to a more structured format of going and taking a photo everyday. I will only hold myself to posting, however, 3 times a week, in a journal format, since posting 7 days a week will probably end up being tiresome.

A friend of mine wrote 5 haikus for his dog and I had contributed one which I liked and wanted to share it here:

A sudden challenge:
To be among the stars so
High or to slumber.

I have always felt very connected to the moon, and the allure doesn’t escape my eldest daughter Ami, either. When I showed her the photo I asked her what it was and she said, “The moon!” and stared at the photo for a little while. It’s our little night light to help shine our way in the darkness.

Happy Hmong American Day!

I hope that one day, we not only get a day, or a month, or an entry in a history book for our contributions to the US during the Vietnam War, but that we are appreciated as individuals and our contributions to society as a whole.

I wanted to post a poem that I had written back in 2007 that I feel encompasses what it means to be Hmong American.


Lost Spirit Aflutter

“From a high mountain, across a vast ocean,
Into a deep valley, my spirit has flown with me,”
My grandmother continues, “But when you fall, it will leave.
It will go back to the land of ancestors.”

I listen to my grandmother as she lays in her bed,
A single flickering light illuminates the room with an orange glow
As she has my hand embraced tightly,
intertwined into hers, and a tear rolls down her cheek.

“My young child, your grandma has lost her soul.”
In most cases, with ua neeb ritual a shaman
Would get onto his spiritual horse, and ride into the land of ancestors,
Offering a pig’s heart to exchange for her heart

But in a Christian household, where Shamanism is pagan worship,
Where bamboos do not line the roof from threshold to alter;
A spirit line drawn to guide our ancestors;
How will the spirit know where to go?

There are no paper money boats to sail the offerings
Into the land that is cold and long forgotten.
There are no halved bull horns to clang or bells to ring
To call my grandmother’s spirit back.

[Poem] A Young Night

A Young Night
As you lie me down to sleep,
I rest my weary head.
The demons have come to rest,
beside me in my bed.

Tidal waves of slumber approach,
I close my eyes to sleep.
And as I slip into a slumber,
there, the monsters creep.

Here I go, I must escape from those
who lurk and haunt
For they have come to take me–
It is I for whom they want!

I jump, I leap, I spin and soar,
I run with all my might.
They rub their hands with anticipation,
It is but a young night.

I stop and turn, confront them there.
My soul they cannot take.
They cannot break me, no they can’t,
I do not waver. I do not shake.

I banish the demons with a wave of my hand.
I make them go away!
They are gone, never to return.
Tonight, I keep the demons at bay.

Happy National Poetry Month!

[Poem] A Punctuated Life

picture by renee ya

picture by renee ya

We live our lives in a series of punctuations.
Each chapter joined with an ellipses
Continuing our journey in a linear fashion
One point leading to the next

And then…
And then…
And then…

Defining ourselves by the meta data prescribed to us,
Tagging the self-actualization moments.
Quantifying each experience with a hashtag


We bracket the memories we want to forget
Mixing in the reality with fiction
Until the fiction is the reality
And the reality is stranger than fiction

No really [this did happen]

We walk through live with a question mark over our head
We fill our journals with collect quests
Each vanguard, searching for an answer to the never ending
Massively multiplayer online role playing game of life, our second life

Can you collect one heart?
Will you find the princess?
Are you good or evil?

Yearning for the instant gratification
Of a Bustling Network of Strangers
Building connections through one at symbol at a time

Because @Jesus is my homeboy

Arbitrarily phasing in and out of
Existential existence until we finally hit that finite punctuation–
A period.

The end.

So poignant and yet so vague.
There is no closure.
Only sorrow. Like an exclamation mark filled with anger.

This is the end!
It is over!

Endless Trail to Freedom

As most everyone gathers into the living room after the New Year’s meal, the clanking of dishes being washed by aunts drowns out the buzzing of the heater. On the back porch, the older uncles huff into semi-long PVC pipes and puff circles into the cold air. A circle of metal chairs are arranged and the married and widowed relatives sit side-by-side conversing in the sing-song language of Hmong. Continue reading

Double-Dutch Dreams

It was early in the morning as groups of students walked to school. The air was crisp and fresh dew was on everything on that March morning. The tule fog was hovering just a little below our ankles, something we had come to expect living in the San Joaquin Valley. On days where the tule fog was well over 100-feet tall, you would hear of people dying due to automobile accidents because the fog is too thick and people can’t see more than one foot in front of them. Kids would play hide-and-seek in fields when the fog was that tall.

Some kids were bunched up in groups talking about their latest crushes or the latest episode of “Dawson’s Creek” the night before. We walked down an unpaved sidewalk that was damp from the fog, so that the dust that would normally form was just cool hardened earth, packed under our feet. I decided to walk by myself that morning, allowing the morning noises to take up my consciousness.

There was still about half a mile to go before crossing the street to the middle school that was just a series of bungalows and cement squares. A make-shift school for a district that was over-populated with low-income and poverty-stricken families. Some worked on farms, others in factories, and others surviving off of welfare.

“Hey! Renee! Wait up!” Continue reading

NaNoWriMo – Day 4: I’ve Hit a Snag

33 Weeks with my first daughter

I’ve somewhat hit a snag of sorts…

Writing this narrative of one of my characters has been very emotionally draining for me and the only reason I can think of is that it’s because she’s 12-years-old and pregnant.

I’ve always had a strong conviction against child brides, but I have to write about this dark part of my culture.

I crawl into that adolescent mind–emotional and visceral. I bare her irrational and callous decisions. However, the most surprising part is that it’s not hard for me to put myself there. I was once dumb and stupid and filled with teenage hormones, too. I can also understand some of her rash decisions because I am pregnant right now as well.

My husband has been incredibly supportive of my decision to write, and has been great to bounce ideas off of. As I noted in my previous post about how I setup my stories, but it didn’t dawn on me how sick to my stomach I felt until I was talking about my characters with him. As I said, “So, she’s 12-years-old and pregnant,” we both had the same reaction and made the same grimace.

“But I have to write about this,” in which he agreed.

So, even though I want to quit and give up, I will keep writing. Besides, these aren’t even the hardest portion of the story I will be writing. No spoilers just yet but, it’s going to be intense, or at least I hope I can write it as such.

NaNoWriMo Day 3 – I’d Rather Be Running A (Half) Marathon

This time last year I was anxiously awaiting the next day. I had been training for 8 months to go from couch potato to running in a 13.1 mile race across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I had never ran in a race before besides 1 mile sprints in middle school. I recalled how my fastest mile ever was 6’20”. Now, 13 years later, I was about to run my first half marathon.

I recall how one day in March, I woke up at 7 AM and said to myself, “I’m going to go run.” My daughter was just under two-years-old and I hadn’t exercised regularly since I was in grade school. To say I was out of shape was putting it lightly.

I grabbed the closest thing to gym clothing I could put together, strapped on my 4 year old Onitsuka Tiger Asics, and dusted off my Crunch gym membership that I had previously signed up for a year previously put never went in. I kissed my sleeping husband and said I was going to the gym. He grumbled something close to, “Why?” and fell back asleep.

I drove 15-minutes to get to the gym, and even in that time, I still was pumped. I wanted to run.

I hopped onto a treadmill and then ran my first 1.5 mile in years. It took me 15 minutes, but I did it.

I continued to do that for 3 weeks straight. Every morning. Everyday. For 15 days before buying my first pair of actual running shoes and performance outfit.

It wasn’t until 3 months into training I decided to run a half-marathon. I was scared, but I knew that if I didn’t put an end-goal to it, I would quit. I always needed a challenge. Some adversity to face for motivation. I signed up for the US Half Marathon that takes place in San Francisco.

Suffice to say, I survived my first half-marathon, running it in 2’45” and the next time I run it, I will do even better!

And so, here we are a year later with NaNoWriMo.

Why wouldn’t I complete a novel on my own? I guess it’s because I need a challenge.

Good luck to all those who are running the US Half tomorrow! I’d rather be running. 🙂

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