Tuesday, December 27, 2011


December: A time for lathering up with lotion, cozying up to the fireplace (or blasting the heat, in my case), and dressing up in layers.

My first blog post promised rebirth, reinvention, and a shedding off of layers. Today, twelve months later and as 2011 draws to a close, I find myself obsessed with layers: layered clothing for warmth and protection against the elements; layers of meaning and suggestion in our spoken and written words; the layers of myth and storytelling that hide or attempt to capture our versions of the truth; layers of chocolate ganache, buttercream, and amaretto-infused chestnut cake that blend together in my mouth; the swirly layers of rich yumminess in a buche de Noel; the pastel layers of a winter's sunset; layers of the metaphorical onion and the presumption of a spiritual nirvana at its center; and the layers of our skin, flesh, muscle, organs, bones, and everything in between that make our bodies function or fail.

It's hard for me to make sense of any of it. Sometimes I confuse transparency and the vulnerability of the naked body with the truth--they seem to represent the same thing. As if our flesh and body equate with a deeper reality while the layers we pile on are just dust in the wind. But the clothes, the representation, our actions, stories, and words...I think these are all we have in the end, or at least all we have some semblance of control over. While we ride the tide of time and witness the changes to our bodies, the comings and goings of sickness and health...all we can do is to carry on, to seek protection and comfort and meaning, and to pile on the layers and attempt to stay warm.

(Photo: wearing my grandma's sweater vest from Hong Kong circa 1980s)