Bright Reds and Flashing Sirens


A different view of the inner city. Spring 2019.

A whirlwind of colors whizzed outside my desk window. They were the bright reds of fire trucks and the dizzying, flashing sirens of ambulances.

Is it safe to walk to my car? 

Usually I don’t feel anxious about my commute, despite working in the “rough” side of town.  But those emergency vehicles had lingered for quite some time.

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Rise to the Occasion

New Orleans, post Katrina. Courtesy of USA Today.

August 2005.

Walking into the lecture hall, I slid into a row near the back. Dropped my faded, frayed backpack onto the tile floor.  I smiled at my classmates as I took my seat.

They grinned and waved back at me.  We were seniors, and it felt pretty good to be ‘near the end’ of the madness which I called nursing school.  I was ready to be done with writing papers, listening to lectures, and taking exams. I couldn’t wait to start working and contributing to society. It was the first week of our last semester. I had just submitted my RN licensure application. Took my senior composite photos. Ran my degree audit.

Our public health instructor cleared her throat.

“This is it. As future nurses, you shall rise to the occasion. It is your duty to meet the needs of the community. Our neighbors, from Lousiana, are now, in our backyard. So we will go to them…”

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Don’t Abandon the Winding Road

Northeast Cambodia. (Photo courtesy of

A few weeks ago.

“Hello?” I had missed Ba’s first call. Maybe it was urgent.

Koun (daughter). My ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) just shocked me.”

I gasped. “WHAT?!”

With a new diagnosis of heart failure, Ba recently received a ICD/pacemaker device. It was programmed to shock if he had a life threatening rhythm, or if it was too fast.

“I was jogging, felt a headache, and suddenly, I was on the ground… there was only a small amount of bleeding on my face and leg…”

“AGH! You fell and you hit your head?! Ba, you are on blood thinners, YOU NEED TO CALL 911!!”

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Invisible Wounds

the horror that haunts us. (Tuol Sleng, Cambodia, 2006).

history that haunts us. (Tuol Sleng, Cambodia)

Why do we always end up here?

We drove along, cramped in the car, but together. Family finally in the same city. The Christmas lights twinkled. The carols played. The holiday spirit in the air.

But those invisible wounds, the painful memories buried deep beneath the chest, began to resurface. We were discussing tensions between neighboring countries in Asia, and the consequences that result when those countries go to war.

“My aunt hid inside a closet, in fear of invading soldiers,” my husband shared. It was a small glimpse of his family’s history during World War II.

I paused, a bit startled. Previously, I knew very little about Hong Kong’s history.  My knowledge consisted of half a day’s visit to the Hong Kong Museum of History, and reading Lee’s The Piano Teacher, a fiction novel based during the Battle of Hong Kong and the Japanese Occupation. I never truly grasped war’s  impact on our family.

Did Ee Ma tremble in that closet? Continue reading

From Tragedy to Triumph (2013, in Review)

2013 Year in Review

My Highlights from the Past Year…

2013! It was a difficult year for the nation as a whole, and especially for Boston. Following an unexpected terror attack on Marathon day, the heartache within our own city.. it was intense…palpable.

But oh, how far we’ve come! All across the news, you’ll find journalists recapping the year’s events. Here, my own personal year in review…

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