House on Mango Street Vignette Project

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Vignettes

Contents

1) The Fire in My Father's Hands

2) Practice Till You Get Tired of It

3) The Playful Shadow

4) Not The Usual

5) Home Ruler

6) All Alone

7) Stop Judging!

8) Party Pooper

9) Different Things, Deep Meanings

10) Work, Save, Relax

The Fire in My Father's Hands

When I was a kid, about 5 to 8 years old, my hands would always get cold whenever the surrounding air is chilly. My dad would always tell me to rub them together, like you would in order to make fire. And so I did it. I rubbed and rubbed and rubbed. My fingers grind against each other from the tips of my little fingers to the base of my palm, but none of this worked. My hands still are cold, stone cold. Then my dad said after watching me rub for a whole 3 minutes: You can stop rubbing your hands when they are warm again, as rubbing would make your skin raw. I replied: But they're still cold. Then he told me to hold out my hand and he started rubbing warmth into my hands; his strong, rough hands massaging my palms, my fingers, then suddenly my hands are warm again. After a while, I wondered: will my hands ever become tough and strong like my father's?

Practice Till You Get Tired of It

My Mom is my role model. I guess this is due to the fact that I used to scarcely see my Dad because he comes home really late; he still does, though not as late, while my Mother took care of me ever since she quit the job as the General Manager when I was in 2nd grade. She is the one who is there for me whenever I have a problem, like a robot on standby, but she is also a harsh whip with her discipline though she never hit me. My most notable memory of my Mom is when I sucked at math in 3rd grade. I don't know how to do a problem so naturally, I asked her. However, after she taught the same problem 4 times, I still didn't get it. I was afraid she would get mad, but she didn't and in the end when I finally got it, I asked her why she is so patient. She simply replied "practice makes perfect", an old adage I hear very often to this day.

The Playful Shadow

Everyone in my family has different hair. My father's, a hair like a bush or a vigilant meerkat or a comb. A comb with black and white bristles because my father is slowly aging. It stands tall and mighty nevertheless, and doesn't ever change no matter how many times you run your hand through the mass of black and white. Other times my father applies hair gel to his hair, though I don't see a point. After all, crew cuts don't have a lot of potential for shaping. In contrast though, my hair is like a playful shadow, flexible and could be shaped into anything. It's of medium length, though sometimes when I am too lazy or busy I don't pester my mother to take me to the hair salon in a nearby department store. Speaking of her, my mother has the smoothest hair in the family. It's silky and sleek almost all the time, and has a certain shine to it whenever light falls on her hair, like twinkling stars on a silent, dark night.

Not The Usual

It was around my mid-summer vacation. I went to my grandmother's in Taipei, but I stayed for a long time, about 2 weeks or so. I came back home eventually, but before the moment when I stepped through onto the white marble floor, I never realized the beautiful house that I considered as mundane was indeed quite nice. I immediately noticed the sunlight streaming through the tall windows that cover up a side of the spacious living room, as opposed to my grandmother's artificially lit house and the tiny space one is allowed to move in. You really have to pick your way carefully in order to not trip over something. Although this is mean for me to put it like this, especially since I have been accepting their hospitality for an extended period of time but after this time I learned to appreciate the place I live in.

The next day, my mother started her usual sermons, "Why don't you start doing your grammar workbook." Then I replied,...
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