Where I’m From

I am from sunshine, sweat, and bricks of humid air.

I am from have you eaten yet.

I am from rice, salted fish, stir-fried greens, from soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, from ginger, star anise, and cayenne peppers.

I am from concrete jungle, clothes lines stretched-across the rooftops, the smell of sun in the fabrics, of gardenias, jasmines and sweet osmanthus.

I am from morning glories winding along random barbed wires, coconut trees lining the streets crowded with motorcyles, from white azaleas strewn on the ground after thunderstorms like discarded Kleenexes.

I am from greetings, and salutations, from strangers in the streets who are also uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews and grandmas and grandpas.

I am from blood is thicker than water, from you don’t turn your back to your family, from families stick together.

I am from proper, ladylike, and demure. From handkerchiefs and silk scarves and pocketbooks. From you should always make sure your hand is not empty and idle. From knees together, ankles crossed.

I am from politeness, decorum, and unwritten rules that everybody abides by.

I am from hospitality, from it takes a village, from gossips and busybodies.

I am from if you swallow the watermelon seeds it will sprout from the top of your head, from don’t point your finger at the new moon otherwise she will come and cut off your ear when you are sleeping at night. From if you cry or misbehave, Auntie Tiger will come and eat you up.

I am from humility, gratitude and contentment.

I am from nobody owes you anything, from be grateful even if someone gives you a mere roll of toilet paper, from nothing you get is because you deserve it.

I am from temples, incenses, and gods and deities.

I am from reincarnation, from Karma, from eighteen layers of hell.

I am from lurid ghost stories of vengeance, from spirits within magnificent rocks and towering trees.

I am from convention, contradiction, and confusion. I am from Post-Colonialism, Late Capitalism, and Rampant Materialism.

I am from the proletariat.

I am from the hushed wrath of my father, the quiet disappointment of my mother.

I am from a bottle of Aspirins.

I am from the deafening silence of a mid-summer afternoon when the only thing you could hear was the cicadas.


Many thanks to Elly over at BugginWord for writing her beautiful piece “Where I’m From” and for alerting us to this wonderful writing exercise. Of course, I did not follow the rules in the template, not because I am some rebel chick but because I am not good at writing descriptive scenes. 

Article by Absence Alternatives

Absence has written 723 articles.
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{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Elly Lou August 16, 2011, 5:24 pm

    “….from white azaleas strewn on the ground after thunderstorms like discarded Kleenexes.”

    Yup. Obviously you suck at writing descriptive sentences. AHEM. (Why haven’t they made that sartalics font universal yet?)

    In all seriousness, you’re beautiful. And I’ll never look at asprin the same way again.
    Elly Lou´s last blog post…Instead

  • Justine August 16, 2011, 6:04 pm

    This gave me goosebumps. Not just because I can relate to some of what you said here but it’s in the way you said it. Beautiful, my friend. You may be from all those things but you are also much, much more.
    Justine´s last blog post…Small change, big difference

  • Nicole, the queen of this life August 16, 2011, 6:07 pm

    Aww I just loved this! It was so…thought invoking and full of beautiful pictures. I love knowing where you’re from. 🙂
    Nicole, the queen of this life´s last blog post…Where I’m From

    • Absence Alternatives August 16, 2011, 10:22 pm

      Thank you. You have been really kind. Support from you and the others made me feel safe enough to write this laundry list.

  • secret agent woman August 16, 2011, 8:44 pm

    Oh, I really like that! So evocative. I’m going to have to give that a stab.
    secret agent woman´s last blog post…Back to school.

    • Absence Alternatives August 16, 2011, 10:23 pm

      Yes! Please do! It helped me remember a lot from my childhood and it is good for the soul, either good or bad

  • lifeintheboomerlane August 17, 2011, 6:25 am

    I love it. So much I will read it again. And again.

  • Meg at the Members Lounge August 17, 2011, 8:17 am

    That was positively poetic, and if possible, I can smell some of the things you wrote about! I am going to tuck this away and give it a go. Fantastic piece of writing.
    Meg at the Members Lounge´s last blog post…Hell Yeah!

  • magpie August 17, 2011, 9:22 am

    This is the most wonderful meme. Beautifully done.

  • kathy August 17, 2011, 2:10 pm

    How beautiful. I especially love these two lines:

    “I am from convention, contradiction, and confusion. I am from Post-Colonialism, Late Capitalism, and Rampant Materialism.”
    “I am from the hushed wrath of my father, the quiet disappointment of my mother.”

    Well done, Lin!

    • Absence Alternatives August 18, 2011, 8:15 am

      Thank you. I was worried that those lines may be too “try hard”. But I decided to go with them since those were the words popped out from my head…

  • dufmanno August 17, 2011, 3:06 pm

    Where you’re from sounds so much better than where I’m from. And I’m with Meg From The Members Lounge- I had a full on olfactory experience reading this. The smell of the things you describe still lingers xoxo
    dufmanno´s last blog post…Serious Fun With Bad Boys

    • Absence Alternatives August 18, 2011, 8:17 am

      I don’t care if yours is going to smell like urine-soaked back alley (Ha!) I demand to read yours. xxoo

  • The Good Greatsby August 18, 2011, 1:36 pm

    This is beautiful. I love this format.

  • SisterMerryHellish August 18, 2011, 2:24 pm

    Not good at writing des…DID YOU NOT READ WHAT YOU WROTE?!

    You write descriptions that have my mind floating in dragons and red silk tassles!

    There’s no disappointment with you Lin. Just adoration and holding onto my ears while I sleep.
    SisterMerryHellish´s last blog post…Stormy Poetic Animation

  • Velva August 18, 2011, 8:50 pm

    I loved this post. The description was artistic. If I could come up with the words that make who I am, you would howl with laughter.

    Velva´s last blog post…The Original White Lady Cocktail and Giveaway

  • Naptimewriting August 18, 2011, 11:53 pm

    Just amazing.

  • Wicked Shawn August 19, 2011, 6:30 am

    You are from beauty. You are beauty. You create beauty.
    Wicked Shawn´s last blog post…When In Doubt: A Retrospective

  • Joy August 19, 2011, 10:33 am

    I stumbled upon your genius blog through Daily Plate of Crazy. I loved this post 🙂 I’m definitely dropping by to visit often. Your thoughts and musings bring a smile!

    • Absence Alternatives August 19, 2011, 6:29 pm

      Thank you so much for visiting and leaving such a kind comment! I do a lot of BUI (blog under influence) . Just so you know. 😉 LOL.

  • pattypunker August 19, 2011, 10:36 am

    Wow Wow Wow! you amaze me. i’m with elly, this paragraph was pure genius:
    “I am from morning glories winding along random barbed wires, coconut trees lining the streets crowded with motorcyles, from white azaleas strewn on the ground after thunderstorms like discarded Kleenexes”

    also, i bought that watermelon seed line of crap, too. dear parents of the world: if you’re going to feed this kind of information to your children at least cough-up for some seedless watermelon. talk about taking the fun out of one of life’s simplest and greatest pleasures.
    pattypunker´s last blog post…you’re not the match of me

    • Absence Alternatives August 19, 2011, 6:30 pm

      They told me the same thing about oranges too! For a while I felt around the top of my head every day. It was horrifying!

  • BigLittleWolf August 19, 2011, 12:09 pm

    What a rich and varied legacy. Gorgeous.

    (Makes me want to try my hand at this… )

  • Joy August 19, 2011, 12:17 pm

    I stumbled upon your genius blog after my daily read at Daily Plate of Crazy…I loved this post was my virgin post of yours; what a beautiful intro. I am definitely coming back! 😉

  • Unknown Mami August 19, 2011, 11:39 pm

    Oh I am going to have to do this.
    Unknown Mami´s last blog post…Here’s the Deal…

  • Andrea September 22, 2011, 9:49 pm

    I am just reading this now, and coming up with my own responses. This was beautifully written!
    Andrea´s last blog post…My Pinterest Post-It Notes!

    • Absence Alternatives September 22, 2011, 10:02 pm

      Thank you so much! Please do let me know when you publish yours. I found this writing prompt extremely powerful.

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