There’s Always

There’s Always

by Nayoung Jin

Sitting in the grass
on a rainy day
this little wild bird
wet, hungry, trembling
lets a girl scoop her up gently
and take her toward the warmth
and maybe more. . . .

On the fourth floor,
this young man sits in pain and despair,
but while his fingers dance on the keys of the piano
fast and effortless,
the world sort of makes sense.
And so he pours his heart out, even giving away his fragility. . . .

And somewhere in the sea
a 6-year-old child orca
swiftly crosses the water
with his mom.
They’re among the few killer whale families who survived.
Ships nearby make way for the two.

I play, I hide.
Mom you come seek.

I play, I hide.
Mom you come seek.

I play, I hide—
Aw, Mom!

Then together they breathe out fountains of water
the white blossoms. . . .

There’s always a hand to touch you.
And there’s always a game for us to play.
Or there’s always something to light you up
like the sun that starts spring just around the corner.

. . . So just keep going and don’t turn back.

[RADIO PLAY SCRIPT] SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin

SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin 1


CHARACTER LIST:
Squirrel – a mature voice of a girl in her teens.
Red Alder Tree – an innocent, dreamy voice of a woman in her early forties.
Man 1 – a voice of man in his fifties.
Man 2 – a voice of man in his forties.


SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin 2
Scene One : The front yard of a museum at a university – Morning


1 . SOUND : FROM A DISTANCE, SINGING OF BIRDS.


2 . MAN 1 : Look, I meant this tree. The red alder.


3 . MAN 2 : Yeah? But this tree looks fine to me!


4 . MAN 1 : I know. But the museum staff is complaining that this tree blocks the museum window, so tourists passing by miss the valuable view of the … the African antelope. Before cutting it, why don’t we go get something to eat?


5 . MAN 2 : Sure. How about some coffee and donuts?


6 . SOUND : TWO MEN’S RECEDING FOOTSTEPS ON THE GRASS.


7 . RED ALDER TREE : Horrible … horrible! … No – nobody will save me! … In my short life, beautiful things could’ve happened…but didn’t…. Hey, you over there!


8 . SQUIRREL : Me?


9 . RED ALDER TREE : Yes, you squirrel! If you hadn’t done that nasty thing again and again, I wouldn’t have felt so alone.


SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin 3


1 . SQUIRREL : Oh, does it bother you that I’ve slept on your branch since I lost my family?


2 . RED ALDER TREE : Not that! I mean, you’re eating my seeds! You guys are too enthusiastic about eating…. Please, be merciful! Feel my heart—my stem filled with bright air. Think about my dream!


3 . SQUIRREL : Your dream! Let me hear. What dream do you have? And what could I have possibly done to ruin that?


4 . MUSIC : THE OPENING OF MOZART’S SONATA IN C, KV 28 I ALLEGRO MAESTOSO BEGINS TO PLAY AS RED ALDER TREE ANSWERS. THEN, THE MUSIC CONTINUES THROUGHOUT.


5 . RED ALDER TREE : If it were not you, squirrels, I could’ve become a mother tree! I could’ve saved ten thousand seeds per year and could’ve many children trees around me. I would’ve been very pleased even if only one child tree survived. And, and I could’ve fed the child nutrients and sugar via special fungi. These fungi could form an underground web between us, so we could’ve held each other’s roots all the time!


6 . SQUIRREL : Well, I have to eat, to live!


SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin 4


1 . RED ALDER TREE : I don’t mean you should stop eating. But if you guys had eaten a little more modestly, you could’ve seen more trees here, and who knows? This could create a beautiful Red Alder forest!


2 . SQUIRREL : All right. I’ll try avoiding your crisp seeds as long as I have enough alternatives from the trash bins nearby.


3 . RED ALDER TREE : Yeah! Try more of the sandwich left-overs, crushed cookies, or apple pies in front of the museum café entrance.


4 . SQUIRREL: Okay.


Scene Two : The same place – Afternoon


5 . MUSIC : THE OPENING OF MOZART’S REQUIEM IN D MINOR IS PLAYED LESS THAN 30 SECONDS.


6 . SOUND : TWO MEN’S APPROACHING FOOTSTEPS—IN BOOTS WALKING IN THE GRASS.


7 . SOUND : CHAINSAW RUNS. RED ALDER TREE SPEAKS BETWEEN THE FREQUENT PAUSES OF THE CHAINSAW RUNNING SOUND.


8 . RED ALDER TREE : It hurts…. It really hurts! … Ohhhh … I’m splitting …
all over! … Ahhhh…


SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin 5


1 . SOUND : CHAINSAW STOPS RUNNING. THEN, TREE FALLS ON THE GROUND.


2 . MAN 1 : I’ll put this saw back. Then we’ll be ready.


3 . SOUND : AS MAN1 LEAVES FOR HIS TRUCK, RUSHING FOOTSTEPS—CRUSHING LEAVES AND LITTLE BRANCHES SCATTERED ON THE GRASS. AFTER A WHILE, AS MAN1 COMES BACK, APPROACHING FOOTSTEPS.


4 . MAN 2 : Ready? Hold that side. Let’s go slowly and carefully.


5 . SOUND : TWO MEN’S SLOW FOOTSTEPS—IN BOOTS, CRUSHING LEAVES AND LITTLE BRANCHES SCATTERED ON THE GRASS. AFTER A WHILE, THE SOUND OF A HEAVY OBJECT BEING PUT ON THE BACK OF A TRUCK. TRUCK DOORS OPEN AND THEN ARE SLAMMED SHUT. ENGINE STARTS. TRUCK DRIVES AWAY.


6 . MUSIC : THE OPENING OF BEETOVEN’S SILENCIO PLAYS AS RED ALDER TREE SPEAKS. THEN, THE MUSIC CONTINUES THROUGHOUT.


7 . RED ALDER TREE : … I must be dead…. I see my trunk, branches, and leaves over there on the truck. It seems far away…. Oh, it’s gone. My body is gone! I’m a lost soul.


SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin 6

1 . SQUIRREL : Look! You still have roots and a stump. Your voice comes from them.


2 . MUSIC : THE MUSIC CEASES.


3 . RED ALDER TREE : Really? Oh, I’m still inside! … Who am I, really? I
thought my upper body is me. Why didn’t I follow it if it were really me? But if I had followed my trunk, branches, and leaves, what would’ve become of my stump and roots here? Both parts consist of me. If so, isn’t it fair … that my soul should be able to exist with both my stump and my upper body?


4 . SQUIRREL : Well…


5 . RED ALDER TREE : (almost crying) Tell me Squirrel, how in the world can
self be cut into two, just to lose half and keep half?


6 . SQUIRREL : … Once a squirrel’s tail is cut off, the tail is no longer alive, and the soul lives inside the rest of the body, not the tail. But when the whole body dies, the soul comes out of the body and becomes a ghost. Does that make sense?


7 . RED ALDER TREE : Sort of…. I used to be the only big tree in this area. Not anymore. Who cares anyway?!


SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin 7


1 . SQUIRREL : Please calm down. I’m sorry about what happened to you, but you’re alive at least. You’ll get better over time. How’s your body?


2 . RED ALDER TREE : I feel as though…I’m already cut into pieces, and my
soul, just stuck here, is serving a life-sentence.…


3 . SQUIRREL: Oh, my…


4 . RED ALDER TREE: Life-sentence, indeed! My life went on even after the fire, flood, attack of beetles, kicks of drunk men, and heart-broken separation with my lover tree for so-called replanting…. Do you see the growth rings on my stump? Dark, thin, and ugly lines indicate that I was stressed out in these particular years. (sighs) What will become of me…. shall I still live in hope?


5 . SQUIRREL : Certainly.


6 . RED ALDER TREE : (quietly) Yet … I am fascinated by the thought of…


7 . SQUIRREL : What? What fascinates you?


8 . RED ALDER TREE : Never mind.


9 . SQUIRREL : No, what is it?


SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin 8


1 . RED ALDER TREE : Imagine I’ll invite some brown fungi to spread all over my remaining body and help my body decay quickly. Then it will become dust-like and provide nutrients for nearby grass and flowers. Meanwhile, my soul will fly away.


2 . SQUIRREL : Why is that necessary? Can’t you just live like other
stumps in this area?


3 . RED ALDER TREE : No, because this is the only way to exercise free will apart from all the human plans and practices…. The only way to liberate self!


4 . SQUIRREL : Perhaps, you’re reacting too sensitively.

5 . RED ALDER TREE : Also, a stump left alone is the most attractive prey for bacteria. If I don’t die now, I’ll probably be sick for a long time and eventually die…. Now, I’d like to spend the last hours alone, quietly. Goodbye!


6 . SQUIRREL : NO!…I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you from humans today… sorry I’m not a skunk, the scariest creature in the world. But…but I have no family left, and you’re the only one around here who talks to me…. You must regrow. A healthy mindset is important for you.


7 . RED ALDER TREE : That is considerate of you, but I’m determined…and I’m sure you can find a new tree friend easily.

SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin 9


1 . SQUIRREL : (beat) …Will you say hi to me when you become a ghost?


2 . RED ALDER TREE : Of course, dear.… When my soul becomes freed from this body, I will walk! I will climb! I’ll run and fly and jump! And dance! Then I will travel a lot and even visit the sun. A wonderful adventure!


3 . SQUIRREL : … But maybe, the places you have no chance to visit are not that special! Take for example the downtown streets. There, smells of trash, smoke, alcohol, and drugs are sickening, not to mention violent humans.


4 . RED ALDER TREE : Hmmm…


5 . SQUIRREL : You think you miss all the good parts of the world? Here, you see the pink and orange sky as well as birds playing with each other. Students walk through the flower path near you whereas Tourists sit on the stumps to have lunch. You seldom see ugly, angry, mean, starving, sick, or unhappy humans and animals. You don’t even lack water or sunlight as there’re no tall trees near you.


6 . RED ALDER TREE : Hmm…


7 . SQUIRREL : Under the moonlight, you see a racoon family swimming in the pond. You’ve been watching the show called peace!


8 . RED ALDER TREE : All right. You won!… I will live.

SQUIRREL AND RED ALDER TREE by Nayoung Jin 10


1 . SQUIRREL : You will?


2 . RED ALDER TREE : Only if you can promise me that every day, you will come to me and tell me all about your events and observations.


3 . SQUIRREL : On the condition that you stop talking about killing yourself and die naturally. Please!


4 . RED ALDER TREE : I promise.


5 . SQUIRREL : Now, I’ll bring some maple leaves to make us feel warm and cozy. I’ll sleep here.


6 . SOUND : BABBLING CROWD COMING NEARER.


7 . MUSIC : THE OPENING OF CHOPIN’S WALTZ IN E FLAT MAJOR, OP. 18, IS PLAYED FOR 14 SECONDS.


THE END

[poem] The Job of My Dog’s Paws

My dog is old now–soon to be eleven.  Here’s a little poem dedicated to her.  I so wish she could read this!

The Job of My Dog’s Paws

by Nayoung Jin

When the sun shines through the window, 

the first job is my morning call.

Her paws pressing on my chest

till her dream comes true

the dream of trampling wildflowers,

rolling in the wet grass.

The second job of her paws is sticking    

to my mom’s hand-made cushion

dyed by ripe persimmons.

When my hand tries to push the paws aside,

they never move an inch

feeling the fluffy cotton

like hands resting on Her Majesty’s chair.

The third job is ripping the cotton out of a rag rabbit,

making a hole in the center

like scooping up whipped egg white in a bowl

or like digging up white clouds in the sky

till every cloud loses its flesh

leaving blue scars.

The fourth job:

entertaining herself in the kitchen,

scattering a mound of broccoli, a row of carrot slices

chasing and sliding

striking

like catching a fly just landed on the floor.

The paws then move to the next job:

scratching the bottom of the frying pan

until the spaghetti is all gone.

Their secret job must be finished

before I am done talking on the phone.

The final job

is to drag her belly silently, slowly, sneakily,

leaving behind only the smell of herbs and fried garlic  

until she arrives beneath the desk

under the shadow

where everything feels safe.

Thank you for reading! 🙂 Be safe, be happy! Take care!

[comic] Carrot Trouble by Nayoung Jin

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Note for readers

Carrot Trouble By Nayoung Jin

Where the story comes from:

Why carrot picking? I’m from Jeju island, South Korea. In my hometown, just after the carrot harvest is over, there will be some carrots lying in the fields, which are free, and so a few people—some local women, travellers, or sometimes nuns—come and pick them up from the ground. Watching this is my favorite memory.

Why carrots/carrot farmer? I spent one summer taking care of carrots at UBC Geogarden, looking at them almost every day. And when I harvested the carrots I grew, I felt great joy and felt truly rich.

Why rabbit god? You might remember “bird god” comic I created this term and me explaining how it came to be. This time it’s rabbit god, which is as fun to have. For a long time in my childhood, I believed that special rabbits lived in the Moon. So, it felt natural to create rabbit god who watches over dear rabbits living on Earth.

I also thought a lot about the two: 1) wild rabbits I saw and loved while taking a walk on the Kitsilano beach. 2) my baby cousin who eagerly climbed onto the dinning table and ate everything he saw, using his mouth. So, of course, our lunch was postponed.

Intention:

What is it about: Mama rabbit and a witch fight over a carrot.

Target audience: Kids

What it explores: the concept of motherly love and need. The mama rabbit embodies that. This comic is a tribute to all the loving, caring mothers who have kids to feed and have to be brave, every day, for their kids.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Nayoung