The cebollas make me cry
through the small window
I smiled at the customers
The tink and tank of clean kitchenware
Broken Spanish and love
Mijo she said la sopa
Donde puedo poner esto
I said clutching a tub of miso soup.

I know our past has been ugly; I made you feel so low about yourself. To say it was what I learned would completely discount the pain I put you through. I really did want to push you to be better. But I did so many things wrong.

There’s nothing I want more than to give myself to you as a changed person. Patient and understanding, guiding but not controlling, exciting and loving, I want to give you myself as my own man. Give you your space and time, be by your side through everything, to take you to all the restaurants, to take photos of you because I want to show you I think you’re beautiful. There’s a disconnect with how I saw things and how you saw things. I want to listen to you fully to weigh your words and thoughts. I’ve been humbled. This isn’t to say you weren’t at fault too, but you have nothing to apologize for. You needed to become your own person because I couldn’t set your boundaries. Respect yourself and your needs, and I will respect you. That’s what I meant when I said other people would treat you the same. It wasn’t to curse you or spite you. I wanted to say I think people have to change themselves if they want people to treat them differently. I was scared for you too… The strangest part is we both didn’t treat ourselves right, so we ended up treating each other wrong. But I’m done being penitent. I am happy. I am practicing every day. The days are so much prettier. The laughs are so much more sincere. I love you I say to my parents. I love you I say to my sister. I love you I say to Spencer. I’m happy to be useful I say to my boss as I bring in the donations. I’m happy you’re in my life I say to Khari. Buddha, God, something greater than I, I am blessed I made it through. But I want to say I love you to you the most.

wubba

I step.
You step.
Two steps. I can’t dance.
Let’s dance.
I shake –you laugh
I sway. I lead. I’m shy, so shy
But if I dance
my two steps
Maybe you’ll dance too,
I hope. I’m flappy
cardboard. You’re a ballerina;
You move so well
We spin. I’m red
I love you
I show you.
Move my hands
said youtube
OK,
Wish I can show you
what’s in my head
It’s prettier
but I try
for you.
I’ll be new
for you.

Chapter 2 Part 2 The Morose Family

Mei

When the stars were at their brightest, Mei rolled out of her bed, which she admitted was exceptionally soft compared to the lump of a mattress she slept on at home. She contemplated stealing the goose-feathered pillow… The night before, she packed a small bag of clothes, a few snacks she stole from the pantry. Farmer Tsu would always wake up before dawn to work the fields, so Mei decided to not sleep. It wasn’t anything she hadn’t done before. She used to stay up all night playing games, whispering with her sisters and brothers. Night was the only time they could spend time together.

She tip-toed across the creaky floorboards. A breeze swept in from the window, animating the curtains. She froze. There were whispers… They didn’t sound like Farmer Tsu’s or Tanya’s. For some reason, she could almost extrapolate meaning from them. A troubled feeling stirred in her as if she foresaw a premonition of pain, a troubled and difficult life.

The heavy scent of incense lingered in the air; the scent of the house was unlike her home’s. It was a mild irritant, but it was something so alien and unacceptable to her. Mei reflected. She and Tanya got along well. Farmer Tsu was even kind to her. He had a vastly bigger house. He gave her her own room with a soft, comfortable bed. She had food to eat every night. Despite all this, there was an insurgence in her; her family’s blood insisted she return.

At the screen door, she watched the stalks of corn sway. If she left, how would Farmer Tsu and Tanya react? She didn’t want to appear thankless. Again, the wind came.

The cool, nighttime air seeped into her lungs, and she breathed in her renewal. Her parents would be convinced by her conviction, by her love for the family. They would welcome her back. Down the endless stretch of country road, Mei ran fast. The world around her zipped by in an elongated blur. It seemed like a dream back then, the stars blinking at her; they would witness her safe return by some sort of providence.

Whenever her feet ached and blistered, she told herself that if she could push on just a little more her parents would receive her with warmth. They’d realize they made a terrible mistake, and they’d all be happier with her in the picture. She was excited to see her brothers and sisters again. It had been a long month with each day feeling like a year. She ran on. Her socks wetted with plasma and blood. Compared to her brother, Don Bei, she knew she was a strong child. He was always sickly. If he worked the farm, he’d collapse in an hour. Mei knew he was meant for education. Her work on the farm allowed him to enter preliminary school. With any luck, he could become the family’s saving grace. Mei believed in him.

A bluing sky greeted her as she eventually rested by a brook. It did not make an impressive sound. But Mei listened to the babble, and imagined that she sat with the familiar frogs, listening to their frog conversations. She didn’t know why she bothered, but she peeled off her socks: purple flesh and tattered skin. She smiled. It was worth the price of family and home.

Her memories flashed like film. She and her mom never seemed to get along. But Mei never questioned their relationship. In the country, family was family. They were the people you stuck with. Each step sent a pang up her legs to her lower back. She began to limp. She saw her mom’s weathered face, her ineffable features of a grump. Had she been a bad daughter? Didn’t she do her best every day to help the farm? These questions slowed her down, so she repressed them deeper into her conscience. What did it matter if they would welcome her back?

The morning dew lifted, and the country road produced a calm in her. She slowed her pace down to savor the tall reeds that billowed in the wind. A rattling of the world around her. She looked to the sky when she thought she heard laughter. No one was around her. But she recognized the two voices of the children, somehow. Their words were incoherent, but a sentiment of relief and happiness burgeoned from her chest. It was the answer to the premonition; somehow it was an assurance that everything would make sense –one day. She began to cry inexplicably. Mei smiled, confident of her choice to return.

Her body ached, her stomach growled, and her vision wavered. “Mei!” She heard her name. She turned and turned when she saw it was Aunt Lu.

Mei ran over. “Hi Aunt Lu!”

“What are you doing back here?” A look of concern hid behind her smile, but Mei didn’t notice.

“I ran back. I want to be with my family.”

“You must be so tired and hungry. Would you like to eat some breakfast?”

“That sounds really good, but I want to see them. I miss my brothers and sisters.”

“Mei…” Aunt Lu reached for Mei’s hand. “Just a quick bite. I know my husband would be happy to see you. The whole village misses you.”

They sat outside at a make-shift table with tattered wood. This made sense to Mei. Everyone had a table like this outside, where families often ate in the summer dusk. The Lu’s peach trees sheltered them. Aunt Lu laid down a complete breakfast: a savory egg pancake with slivered green onions, a savory porridge with mushrooms and leftover pork pieces, and two bisected pastries stuffed with stewed beef. Mei ate the meal quickly, too quickly to savor. She sat back, her stomach stuffed and hurting. Aunt Lu and Farmer Lu looked to one another.

“Mei,” Farmer Lu began, “If you need me to, I can drive you back later. I don’t mind taking a trip. We could all go.”

“Why would I want to go back? I want to be with my family. That’s why I ran down here.”

Aunt Lu then offered, “What if we all go with you to your home?”

Mei didn’t understand why but she agreed.

She sat on her parent’s porch since the door had been locked. She glanced to Aunt Lu and her husband, who stood afar and waved. She tried again, this time more forcibly. Mei’s mom came to the door, squinting. “Mom, I don’t want to live with them. I want to be home.” She looked to her mom through the screen. The door remained locked, and it seemed she wouldn’t open the door anytime soon. Mei tried again. “Can I come in? Please?” But she already knew the answer from her mom’s violent shift in expression. There was no love in those eyes. There wasn’t even pity. There was only a cruel selfishness, a mind for business that superseded any kindness or any warmth.

“What are you doing back here?! You belong to them now. If you do this again, they’ll want their money back.” Her mom opened the door with such force the door slammed against the wall. She grabbed Mei by her wrist and pulled her down the porch. “Your father will be furious to know you escaped. How can you be so selfish? You never think of the family.”

“Hello!” Aunt Lu called. “How are you doing?” Mei turned back, confused. She saw a woman who wished to help her. That much she understood. When she turned to her mom, she didn’t understand anymore –how could her own mom be so cruel? A complete stranger treated her better. Aunt Lu’s husband then interjected, “You don’t have to worry. We’ll help Mei get back to Farmer Tsu. He’ll understand. These things happen. We were all young once!”

“I want to see my brothers and sisters.” Mei said, trying to gather her character.

“I forbid it.” Her mom said, a wall.

“How can you be like this?”

“Get out! Get out of my sight!”

“Come along, Mei.” Aunt Lu guided her away. Mei refused. She turned back.

“Why do you hate me? I always thought about our family.”

“Don’t give me that look!” Her mom brandished her hand. “Don’t you dare!” She raised her hand and struck Mei across the face.

Her flesh burned. It was not the pain, but the betrayal, the hypocrisy, that sent tears down her cheeks. She did not look away; Mei wanted her mom to see her anger. She wanted her to know she would never let go of the hatred that took seed. Her mom stood across her, a monster seething with rage.

The wagon creaked along the country road. Aunt Lu and her husband had told her to rest. But Mei simply couldn’t. She couldn’t accept the terrible reality of her mom’s cruelty. The hours melded together until she arrived back at Farmer Tsu’s. Her heart had been fractured, and from the irreparable pieces, a spell of Madness awakened in her.

Mornings at Lee’s

The coffee steam, the cigarette smoke
caught in the first light
through unwashed windows

The scent of croissants, Vietnamese songs
early birds’ silence–
A day’s work awaits.

A cup, an hour and half’s writing
A dollar fifty an hour to produce
To ponder, to ferment thoughts I harbor

We sit blinded, awake
at the center of the cathedral,
dome ceilinged, white walled

To the oldsters gathered in troops
huddled in cold and smoke,
may I join you one day

To talk of bygone times
of a life well lived
of places traveled and a love won

Today I write shaded in sunlight,
ritualistic, full of hope

my feelings 2

Pasadena Wandering

The slight trickle of Spanish fountain,
the silent garden of a night’s wandering.
Stillness of air, distant women laughter
and dim lights, silhouettes of diners –I am unwell.
Mosaic walls, strangeness meddled –California Pizza Grill
Surrender surreality of time; I had been here before
As another person in your hands

A sprout before Church bells –tall and casting
Ringing of a wedding, singing and toll toll toll
Reality was reality; I had been thankless
Profundity comes at a price
A smile forced, another drag of smoke –poison
To quell my head. Futility

Astral projecting –my being to you in China
Sail the Yangzi River, rice patty hats
Tourists, but the best kind. Take your spirit
As we fly to Paris,
Ghosts, we stroll through drenched streets.
A dream of a dream, you and me
Back to me. Back to you. Serenity.

 

2017-2018

This isn’t easy. It’s one of the most emotionally painful and tiring things I’ve endured; there are days I lose hope. My body feels heavy. I’m moving through fog now. This rope we had around each other had been severed, at least externally and superficially. I know there’s still a faint, almost invisible thread connecting us. If I’ve truly changed, then I need to be patient. I must follow the thread at the pace I’m allowed. Sure, I want to scream your name, but I must delay my own gratification. I must stifle emotional outbursts. This pain is the price to pay; it’s my fare back to you.

2017 and 2018 have been the most painful, incredibly formative, and the most fun years of my life.

2017, I left a dead end job for an office job, which I’ve always dreaded. I figured it was what responsible adults did. The commute was 2 hours one way, so I’d wake up at 5AM every day. Every morning, I would make an egg for Lily, until she was sick of eggs! I remember kissing her goodbye every morning. Well I couldn’t afford to be weak anymore, so I went to the gym every day as well. I became a lot stronger than I ever imagined. I was lifting almost 4 plates for squats and deadlifts, 2 for bench! Of course I still had this dream of writing a novel. Every day, after this incredibly boring data entry job, where my co-workers didn’t like me much, I went to a Portos to write my greatest novel haha. (This is the second book I wrote, and it wasn’t very good. But it was definitely a learning experience!)

The job left me horribly unbalanced. I did my best to stay positive and work hard. To make it straightforward, I was simply not a good fit for the environment and people. But my denial of this lead to months of contemplation of suicide. Many days I found my way 40 floors up, and stuck one foot over the ledge. After my Acid trip, I quit. Life was not worth living if I kept to that life.

Simultaneously, my parent’s housing situation began to fall through. My dad has never been too responsible. To his credit, he was the only parent working while my mom fought through mild schizophrenia and depression as she tried to raise my sister and me. But my dad’s greatest mistake has hurt two families. I’ll leave it as that. Anyways, he racked up an exorbitant amount of debt. My family began to fight and it was very emotional. Bankruptcy was the plan. But then it would fall upon my sister to take care of them when she finished medical school. This didn’t sit well with me.

I went to the only person I knew who could help us. I went to Lily’s mom. Through the years, she offered to pay off my student loans in one, single day. I always refused. I never wanted to ask for money despite those years struggling. But this was different. There was a way to help my family, so I begged her to help. Oh how my pride hurt… She and Steph really helped us, and together we agreed to a caveat that would give my family time and money, but ultimately protect my sister from spending the rest of her life raising my parents. Medical school is difficult enough!

Through this, I kept writing when I applied to a writing job for a nonprofit in Hollywood. It was quite the boost of confidence when the director said he was impressed with my writing! Well I had money then, and I decided to move out. In my mind, I knew I had to leave home to become a stronger person who could help them later on.

Lily and I moved in with my best friend, Spencer. It was idyllic until it wasn’t. Spencer’s girlfriend committed suicide. I remember the day Lily called me and I kept saying ‘what’ in disbelief. I told my boss and immediately left work. We were all in tears. Well from then I did my best to be even more supportive and loving for so many people, I lost myself. I became angry because I always put my needs second. I adopted a victim mindset rather than own up and become a fucking man. I had planned a concert with Lily and Spencer, during which things build up and I lost it. I broke up with Lily that day. It was ugly and everyone was staring. Some people were laughing lol. The three of us drove back, missing the act I wanted to see.

After we dropped off Lily at her parent’s, Spencer said something insensitive about how his loss was greater and I was reduced to tears. I told him he should stop discounting my problems. I told him he was a horrible, selfish friend. I told him all I ever did was try for Lily and him. And he has no idea of what it was like to try so hard, to give your complete self, and watch it fail.

I lived at the place, but we stopped talking. I had lost the two most important people of my life. I was alone. Without being redundant, my story On Being Alone is a fictionalized version of finding myself again. I am thankful for my adventures and the people I met during that time. Thank you Jack and Tara.

Well during my adventures, Spencer’s mom had a mild stroke. Her business fell through. Hearing this, I remember I had this thought I was a curse to everyone around me. I wanted to commit suicide right then too this time by hanging. But seeing the funeral of Spencer’s girlfriend gave me a lot of perspective about the important things in life. I realized I had to put aside my anger and to help them. During this, I became more honest and respected my own boundaries. I helped him through those difficult times, and we’re brothers now.

Without making this post too long, my parent’s situation has become precarious again. But my sister and I have to remain strong and not let this overwhelming pessimism reign. I have to be the light for my family –I have to bring happiness when I can and to keep everyone together. This is something I can do. I must become the person to guide them, to help them, to support them. While I may not be able to provide much financially yet, I know I can provide hope, a sense of unity, and peace. I was raised to think these things are stupid and useless, but I now know these are things people need to continue down the darkest paths. I guided my best friend from his girlfriend’s suicide. I can guide others then. I must become a warrior ready to face my depression, my anxieties, the discomforts of each day, to defeat it, and become the man I’ve always wanted to become.

How I’ll achieve my dreams:

5AM – Wake the fuck up. It’s so hard.

5:10AM – Light exercise: 50 goblet squats, 50 deadlifts, 50 pushups, 50 situps

5:30AM – Shower, no more than 10 min.

5:40AM – Meditate 10 min

5:50AM – Eat light breakfast, pack lunch if there is food.

6:00AM – Get to Lee’s and write Mo Rose story/ thoughts, read something.

7:40AM – Leave and drive to work

8:50-9AM – Arrive at work

9AM – 5PM – Do my best work, to take pride in my work – I’m helping thousands of people with my writing! Maintain an unconquerable spirit, remember to maintain my center, be nice/ empathetic to everyone

5PM – Lock up, run for an hour

6PM – Drive back home

7:10-7:30PM – Get home, chill out, don’t take driving so seriously. We’re essentially standing in line

7:30-10:30PM: relax, eat, shower, skateboard, and maybe some Pokemon lol.

Repeat!

“You never arrive until you are dead.”

I hope you have a great trip. I hope you come back with great experiences and stories to share with me. I hope you grow in the ways you need to. And if you’ll have me, I’ll see you Decemeber 24th midnight.

Lily,

You are the glimmer in your eyes
The grooves around your smile
A sweetness to my days
The last I see of my nights
I am a poet when I think of you:
You are a rosy blush after a drink
A slight tilt of the head
A huddled ball when it’s cold
You are the person I wish to hold
To love and cherish, to be better for
My media naranja; my heavy heart
I’ll write my way back to you
From the doubts and fears, find faith
Grasp from the good of my soul
And display it for you to see
My loveliest,
You are the best I’ll ever know.