Iíve always been a sucker for praise. I
mean, really, who isnít? Itís such a great feeling when you
receive a warm pat on the back for what youíve been doing or
a few precious genuine words to nudge you on.
So itís Sunday, my worst day of the
weekend. Well, okay, itís not that bad, but compared to
Friday night partying and Saturday full-day work, Sundayís
just boring. Last Friday, I got home around two and went to
work at 11 the next morning. I came back at midnight, and
Sunday was welcoming me warmly with an armful of unfinished
I was planning to start writing my
Spanish essay comparing the theme of illusion versus reality
in two works of literature( yes, in Espa“ol. Think how long
that would take, with me looking up translations and
spellings for every other word!) when I decided to put off
the dread a little while longer by check my e-mail.
I got a message from my friend saying
that someone praised me in a recent ďletters to the editorĒ
mail. I got all excited because Iíve never received one of
these before and immediately checked the Starís website.
And there it was, the highlight of my
day. The gush of joy that will make doing Spanish homework
Mr. Gelinsky---thank you for your letter.
Itís so encouraging to know that people read and care about
a humble student writer in a local newspaper. Iím flattered
that you still remember some of my incipient articles, and I
couldnít help but grin when you mentioned The Pimple.
That article on the Ďsecret to happinessí
was my favorite also. It was my longest, and after writing
it, I felt drained, like Iíve captured all my emotions onto
the paper perfectly for the first time. Itís funny, my boss
told me a man actually cut out the piece and brought it over
to KFC. Itís now plastered on the wall somewhere in the
office, and my coworkers have been nudging me to write a
feature special on them again.
Iíve also received a written letter from
another fan. Enclosed was a lengthy photocopy of his
Ďramblingsí back in 1971 when he was a confused student. It
was startling how the writing paralleled mine, how the ideas
were so similar despite the time gap. Thank you for the
precious gift. Itís made me realize that this coming of age
confusion happens to everybody. Itís great to feel that kind
of connection and empathy.
And also, to the couple whoís compared my
racist bigot to a cockroach, what a perfect parallel! I
received the most response after my musings Ďon racism.í My
neighbor cut out the article and wordlessly gave me a hug at
the door. Friends read it and were shocked. My coworkers and
I have been trying to hunt down the man, though he never
came back again.
Writing for the Star has changed me. Itís
become a soothing Sunday ritual, in between piano practice
and unfinished schoolwork, Iíd take an hour or so musing
over and writing my next article, hearing the steady clicks
of the keyboard follow the flowing of the clock. I started
viewing my daily routine in a different light, trying to
find gems of moments to capture into a story. My writing and
communications skills have improved, and without the column,
something would be missing.
To your request, Mr. Gelinsky, I would
love to keep the column after high school. This summer, Iím
visiting family in China and may even take a trip to
Southeast Asia! Then, itís off to New York. I canít wait to
live and write the next page in my life and detail all the
ups and downs of college craze. Currently, I also have a
column titled School and the Suburbs in the Houston
Chronicle. Check it out. It comes out every Tuesday in the
Star/Entertainment section and is like a shorter more
lighthearted version of my column here.
All this from a few words of
encouragement, praise is a powerful thing.
Thanks to all the readers of this
column---please let me know your thoughts.