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I dropped my backpack onto my bed and ran to my phone. I answered on the very last ring and burst into a detailed explanation of my day only to hear sobs.



I grew up in Latvia. The stage of fairy tales. Where Sleeping Beauty lay and Snow White hid from the wicked witch. This enchanted setting sheltered me from the turmoil of my birthplace. Barely safe from the grip of communist Russia, Latvia was as uninviting as a Siberian winter.


I sat on a frayed brown chair in the dilapidated but cozy old room at school called the assembly hall. Before me was a semicircle of five sage men; I listened to them, fully engrossed and enraptured by the wisdom their wisdom.

Black Band


E-V-I-L are the letters which label the black band that I wear on my left wrist. That's rights Evil- bad, mean, harsh- but look at the word again. Sideways, front wards, upside down and even backwards, that's right backwards L-I-V-E.



If we speak the same language, then why don’t I understand you? Why are the clothes you wear so different and the expressions you say so unclear to me?


I wake up every morning to its rich scent. My parents cannot start the day with out it. I often wait in line and pay $3.85 to buy it. The senior lodge at my school is littered with empty Starbucks cups containing only the remnants of skim lattes, , and mocha frapuccinos.

Cooking with Mom

When I open the front door, the surprising aroma of crushed chili peppers, garlic, onions, and cabbage greets me. Normally, I would go to the kitchen to find out what my mom is cooking. Instead, I go to the garage. That combination of smells can only mean one thing: My mom is making kimchi.



It was 1995 and I was 7 years old. Easter was in 4 days, and the only cause for celebration was that my teacher was walking around my first-grade classroom handing out bags of candy. I searched through mine, and held up a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for my neighbor, Becky, to see.

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