LIFE UPDATES

Ah, it’s good to be free. School is over. Weeks of freedom are ahead, for some. For me, I will be going to USC for a Publishing Workshop with the LARB (The Los Angeles Review of Books) for a whole month, starting next week, which is—in its own way—a sort of freedom. But, that does mean dubious things for my free time. I will be busy ALL day with the workshop, pretty much from sun up till past dinner, with speakers and so on.

Now, you may wonder why exactly I am bringing this up. I mean…cool, that’s my life right? Well, the main reason I am bringing it up is because I am uncertain how much free time I will have to work on this blog. To be as consistent as possible, I have been doing one entry per day, every day of the week, for over a year now. That’s quite a bit of time, and I have loved doing so—it has helped me grow as a writer and as a person. But at this workshop I will be doing just that—growing and developing. Which means that I will already be doing what I wanted to do with this blog.

Of course, I don’t PLAN to be going away. If I can find the time, I will be writing daily still. But I might miss a couple days. And I don’t want anyone who reads my work daily to be worried. Normally I can plan out exactly when I will have time to write a post ahead of time to do so (see last year’s vacation posts), but this year I was caught up with graduation and other things, and couldn’t prewrite a month of posts. Plus, that’s less fun.

Anyways, I figured I could take today, my slow day, to post an update about the future, and update you on my life. I went to Las Vegas last weekend for a short vacation, which was super fun (no I didn’t go to EDC, but I certainly dealt with the traffic on the way home). We went to the Peppermill twice, which was incredible, and had Brazilian…BBQ? All you can eat food. It was amazing. I ate WAY too much. I also finished in the top 350 of a 4000-person tournament I played in, which was a fun experience, albeit not how I would have adored.

Well, that was my week. Let me know how you are spending your first few weeks of summer in the comments below!

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LOVE POEM #44 – DUSTED CONSTELLATIONS

Look out the window,

I made that for you.

That low-hung half-moon,

Golden brown and smiling.

You remind me of it…

Or rather, it reminds me of you.

That beacon in the darkness,

Between the starlight,

Swaying with the sounds

Of smooth jazz in the night.

I can see you in her

On lonely nights.

On the broken porch steps,

The chill autumn breeze

Swirls along our fingertips,

Edging us closer.

I want to dance.

Take my hand,

Let me guide you

Across the sky tonight.

The two of us,

Dusted,

With wine on our lips,

Make for a lovely constellation.

Exhaustion.

Star gaze with me,

My little star girl.

So full of life;

So full of light.

Lie with me a minute,

And let eternity pass us by.

There’s no arms I’d rather call home.

——
 
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TEN THOUSAND WORDS

In ten pictures, I’ve seen ten thousand words,

Yet in ten words, I’ve found ten thousand more.

 

‘Course they wouldn’t tell you of that magic,

Not anymore, not nowadays. Not when

We hunger, feed, thirst, and drink for vision.

Not when we are pacified by color.

Not when we are made ravenous by lust.

By the need to see, rather than to know.

By the need to have, rather than to hold.

By that carnal, burning desire to win,

‘Ther than admit defeat for the greater good.

 

But I can show you a world divine,

Where true lovers rest, and heroes reside.

Where the wars are fought for nobility,

And the wind’s pass us by much more slowly.

A world with some truth, and pain, and lies,

And a world where good men go to die.

But a world more real than on TV

Hides within those pages for you and me.

 

Those ten thousand words can last a lifetime

While pictures fade as memories decline.

——

 

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LOVE POEM #43 – GREETINGS

In your simple song

Was the rising melody

Of a water’s crest.

 

And you were the sea.

At once calm as still silence

And wild as fire.

 

The downpour of rain

Couldn’t dampen your sunshine

When you plucked those strings.

 

And when your song peaked

It broke like a crashing wave

In swift harmony.

 

I felt my heart race

Parallel to your plucking;

Like it was your strings.

 

In blissful release

I felt the song end, and knew

I must say hello.

——

 

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A PERFECT MORNING

I sat, reading Basho, as the sunlight danced across the ever flowing stream. The morning that morning seemed to me the most perfect morning to ever exist. The chirps of the crickets were growing dim as they made their way to bed, while the butterflies stretched their wings for their morning flight. My eyes followed one of them, as it listed up and down, back and forth, around the dip in the stream. The stream crashed down there, creating a soft mist, like it were imagining itself as the waterfall. The breeze carried a hint of sweet moisture, as though Zephyrus himself had kissed the day.

I found my mind drifting about to the world around me. The rocks, the trees, the grass—each more alive and beautiful than the last—seemed to have their own tale built into the fabric of their being. The rocks, with cracked lines, shunted edges, and overturned hides, wove a simple, solemn tale about the world. They had watched, waiting and listening, for something the happen. They slept with an eye open, but even in their waking hours they never seemed to be alert. It was as if they had been caught in a state of constant lethargy, but they were kind to me nonetheless.

The trees told a greater tale, full of age and mystery. Unlike the rocks, the trees had been alert and unrested. Their aging minds grew wild with thoughts of their sapling days, where they could still branch their roots out and feel themselves move. Now, they stood as the protectors of the stream and it’s creatures, sheltering it from the outside world. But trees are often presumptuous. They have lived for so long, they do not see the world for as it is, but as it has always been. They foolishly ignore the hearts of men, and the men before me could do little but crawl up the branches for shelter from various beasts. But now—now they come with axe and fire and steel, hungering for great conquests.

The grass told me about this. The grass has felt them tread long and far. Their soft feet, which had once been like a gentle touch, now hammered against them like nails with their steel-toed boots. Men ran where they once walked, and they tore up the grass to make way for their stone houses. Grass had its children shrivel up and die as men stole their drink, and choked to death by the machines of their wars. He told me of his cousin, the moss, who was fished from the waters and thrown to dry out on the banks. Grass had seen weary times, but had endured in places, both thick and thin.

In the distance, the mountain called out to me. She had seen the days, come and gone, and heard the warnings signs. Yet these days, nobody listened to the mountains. Her voice had grown slow, and as time moved faster, people no longer could pause to appreciate the wisdom she had to offer. Even I, the antithesis of my peers, felt the itch of hurriedness shoot through my veins as I listened.

But I found her words important, nonetheless. She had told me to remind men of the slower days—where they woke as they chose and slept as they needed. Where the food they ate was held sacred, and the animals they slaughtered had names and lives. She asked me to remember the stream, as I had remembered my family, and to keep it from illness and abuse. I cannot say that I, myself, can achieve my task alone. Yet on such a perfect day, I felt the urge to try. So I set out, not knowing what terrors lay ahead, to help my fellows stop their journey for a moment, and appreciate the flowers.

——

 

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LOVE POEM #42 – TO THE SEA

“To the sea,

To the sea,”

She cried out to me,

“To the sea!”

 

And with the brisk summer air

Riffling through her frizzled hair

We shuffled our way through the sand.

“To the sea!”

 

We had smuggled in red wine,

And were feeling mighty fine

As the children tottered by.

“To the sea!”

 

In her tie-dyed summer dress

Standing ‘fore the water’s crest

She looked like Venus born again.

“To the sea!”

 

And I took her hand in mine

Wishing I had a bit more time

Before it all came to an end.

“To the sea!”

 

But to savor what time I had,

I held myself to feeling glad,

And, for the last time, swam with her.

“To the sea!”

——

 

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THE SNAKE TOMB

The dream world snapped into existence before me, as if someone had flicked the light switch in a dark room. We were on a mountainside, staring out into the great expanse of the world before us. Ahead, there was a low valley basin, with golden-yellow foliage nearly a mile down. Beyond that, in the distance, there was a line of mountains, green with trees and stained lightly with the early hintings of winter snow.

“What are you dilly-dallying for again!” I heard a voice call to me. It was my cousin, a well cut man by all accounts. His eyes had the shine of adventure in them as we moved through the trees around us. I swallowed my response and moved after him. We were moving north, up the mountain to a small set of caves he had been told about by…something. I realized I had no idea how we had gotten there, or why.

The way up was treacherous. The ground was filled with muddy spots from the rainfall the previous night, and it slid and slipped unexpectedly with each new step. The lack of handholds caused me to constantly be gripping at thin air for balance. Eventually though, we found our way to the top, where there were a group of caves. They looked like three gaping mouths, ready to swallow us whole. We picked the one on the right, which opened the widest. The inside of the cave was blacker than midnight on a starless night, and I felt my own vision fade.

Once again, I awoke in the dream, at our destination, though I found myself alone. The place was a horrific sight. It was a cavern, filled with an industrial pool, which seemed out of place in retrospect, but in the moment the oddity fell to the background. The foreground was filled with an excessive number of snake bodies, as well as snake skins, spread throughout the room. They looked like the remains of a post-apocalyptic world. The bodies were rotting, like spoiled peaches, but the smell itself was far more rank than any fruit could be. I felt my stomach heave as I my eyes drifted along the pool. On one end, there was a massive snake, nearly ten feet long, and equally thick. Its skin looked half eaten, and pus poured from its one remaining eye. The empty socket was filled with the largest spider I had ever seen. It was curled up, but the black body was nearly the size of my head. Its long, spindly legs were pulled tight against its body. Fortunately, it appeared to be content where it was as I moved past it.

Suddenly, I felt the world careen before me as my foot slipped in a puddle of water. I put my hands out to brace my fall, but I plunged through the surface of the pool into the water. I splashed about for a moment, until I broke the surface to come back up for air. I cleared the water from my eyes, and looked ahead of me. Then massive snake was still there, staring off into the distance. Then, ever so slowly, its head began to turn. The sound of bones popping, snapping, and breaking filled the air as it came to look at me. The low hiss emanated from its jaws. The spider still clung there in its eye, which  stifled the red glow that had appeared there. From the other eye, the one covered with the remnants of its skin, pus dripped into the water while the reawakened beast pulled its focus on me.

Its jaws opened, and the stink of decay wafted through the air. My stomach churned. I had smelled death before, but it had never smelled quite so ancient. The beast reared back, then lunged toward me. It happened so fast, yet it appeared to me in slow motion. I could see the scales shift under its weight. The droplets in the air as I desperately scrambled to get away. It massive jaws surrounding my head. Then again, everything went black.

——

 

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WE ALL FLOAT DOWN HERE

I have always been interested in why it is that we like to see obscure, strange, and often grotesque images. Think about it. Have you ever seen a picture (or video) in which you had a strong guttural reaction to look away, but at the same time felt you had to keep looking? I mean, there is a cliché aspect to it when people say “I couldn’t look away,” but that was born out of something very real.

I have never been a big believer in any reality to mythology, but the stories are something that I have always found to be entertaining. Cyclopes’, gods, frost giants…they all add this sense of awe and wonder to an otherwise kind of boring life. I mean, think of all the times you have sat in front of a movie screen, and watched an action-type movie. Or a horror movie. Horror movies are a great example of something that gets the blood flowing (pun intended). I just watched the original “Stephen King’s It” this weekend, and Tim Curry as Pennywise was really quite a show. I mean, the movie has a real…cheesy 80’s vibe to it nowadays (which I guess it technically a 90’s vibe, since it released in 1990, but still). There is a reason “It” is getting a remake, and that’s because the unknown and the unreal is entertaining! And it looks SO SCARY in the trailer (which, if you somehow haven’t seen yet, you should go click that link and do).

Of course, if we’re not careful, I’ll derail this conversation into a movie critique post (though if you would want me to do that sometime in the future, let me know. I’m down for anything), since that is what we love about It. Not the plot twist at the very end about how its all a…oh wait some of you may not have seen it. But we love Pennywise. The creepy clown that fuels our adrenaline (and our nightmares). Back in the day, that was why people told scary stories around the campfire, or snuck up on unsuspecting friends to give them a frighten. It makes people feel alive to have their heart racing and their breath caught at the back of their throat. Not just lounging around, listening to repeated Louis C.K. albums all afternoon and evening (which I may or may not have done a few times before). And sure, maybe too much of that would cause a heart attack or something, but every once in a while is good for you. Exercise those reflexes, get used to the adrenaline rush, and maybe you’ll float too. 😉

What do you think? Do you like that rush of adrenaline? Is it something we should avoid? Let me know!

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A LETTER FROM MY FORMER SELF

I received a letter from myself the other day. My high school biology teacher had my entire class write a letter to ourselves for our last assignment as seniors back then, which she then mailed out during these last few weeks of college (Yay! I’m graduating). Reading (or I guess technically rereading) that letter left me with a lot of mixed feelings. At the time I wrote it, I didn’t really know where life was taking me. I knew I was going to Cal Poly Pomona, though it was not my first choice of schools, and I knew I was in love with my (now ex) girlfriend. That was about it. I didn’t know I was going to be interested in writing. I didn’t know I would be working two jobs. I didn’t know that the grass really is greener from a distance than it is up close.

But all that aside, here we are today. I once again have no idea where I am going, or what I am doing. In some ways I have even less of a grasp on reality than I did then. Yet I know a lot more today than I did four years ago. I find it curious that, for all this reminiscing, the problems of my life are completely different. In that letter, I wrote about my love interest, my issues with my relationships, and my certainty of my own greatness. Today, I would write about the monotony of daily activities, the debilitating incapability that my generation faces, and the omnipresent desire (and impossibility) of being an individual in an ever-growing social world.

I recently watched an interview with Morgan Freeman, where he was asked if race plays a role in succeeding in one’s dreams in the present. He said no, which I found interesting, because in a way he is correct. It is true that, if you really try hard enough, eventually something is going to work. But at the same time, I’ve been at this blogging thing for a year, and I have only found minor success. Of course, I am a straight, white male. But to say race has no role in success is a bit unfair, don’t you agree? I mean, he said “we are proof” that race is not a major role player, which to me seems a little short sighted. There are only so many roles in Hollywood available, much like how there are only so many spaces available on a basketball team. To say someone can be a part of that miniscule percent of successful black actors “if they try hard enough” seems like a bit of a load to me. We can’t have 3 billion fulltime actors. It simply wouldn’t be sustainable. We would starve to death.

But success does seem like it is within all of our grasps if we can redefine success for ourselves. Perhaps success isn’t being famous, or accruing a fortune, but instead perhaps it is simply being happy with life. And while for many of us, that seems like it isn’t somewhere we are at currently, it is somewhere that we can strive to get to. Ok. Hopefully this somewhat sappy story has helped you in some way (I’m sure it has been a nice form of therapy for me somehow). Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

——

 

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THE HALLWAY

I woke up in an empty, white paneled hallway. It was lit with rows of florescent lights, which reflected off the walls to make them appear even brighter. When I got up to look around, I noticed that there were no windows, but in the distance there was the vague outline of a doorway. I glanced behind me, only to see the ongoing nothingness continued that way as well.

I began to walk thought the hallway. The emptiness was filled by the soft pattering of my shoes beneath my feet. The clothes I had woken up in felt clammy, and stuck to my skin awkwardly, but the more I walked, the more they fell away from my skin. The door, which had been but a tiny outline in the distance, grew closer as I walked toward it, and it became clear that it was built for another time period.

In stark contrast with the walls around it, the door was made of a faded bronze metal, with a handle rather than a doorknob. As I put my hand on the door handle, my eyes came into contact with a large door knocker. The knocker was made of a large metal serpent’s head, which looked vaguely draconic. The serpent held the metal knocker ring in its mouth. The ring itself was another work of art, which had been fashioned with careful detail into the design. Rather than smooth metal, the ring had been made to look like a chain of people moving into and out of the serpent’s mouth.

I realized I had been transfixed on the serpent, and shook my head back to the task at hand. I pushed and pulled on the door handle, but found it to be stuck in place. A few more shakes and I yielded. I sighed, and took a step back from the door to look around. The white halls stretched endlessly on either side, but in the distance from the direction I had come I could hear the faintest of sounds. Dah-duh…Dah-duh it was the unmistakable rhythm of someone—someTHING walking closer. I strained to look into the distance, and noticed a speck of black at the edge of my sight. It was definitely moving, albeit slowly.

Fear shot through my body, and I had the sudden urge to run away. I restrained myself, and turned back to the door. I wondered what could be on the other side of the door. Freedom. Safety. Slavery. Murder. Death. It was the great unknown, locked to me. And what monstrous being would be on the other side? But as my ears turned back to the slowly approaching creature down the hall, I decided it was best to take my chances. At worst, I would have two things coming for me instead of one. I drew my hand up to the ring of people, and banged it hard against the door twice. I stepped away from the door again, and prepared myself for what came next.

One…two…three moments past before I heard the distinct clank of metal unlatching from the other side. The door swung open, and the stale air of the hallway mixed with the moist, wooden air of the new room. Standing in the doorway was a little girl, no older than my cousins. She was pale white, with light brown hair that fell down to the middle of her back. She looked on at me with wonder; her head cocked to the side slightly. Her eyes were black and dead, yet her mouth moved with the most colorful and lively emotions. Shy, happy, concerned, scared, and so on. She was dressed in a white ballerina’s leotard, and white ballerina shoes.

“Hello,” I said cheerily, meeting her empty eyes with as warm a smile as I could muster, “and what is your name?” She didn’t answer. I glanced off into the room, and saw nothing but a black void before me.

“Do you have parents? Or a caretaker? Would they be available for me to speak to?” Again I was met with silence, though this time the little girl stepped back from the door and into the darkness. The light faded away from her body, and I could barely make out the barest hint of her form. She beckoned me in, then stepped to be completely engulfed in the darkness.

——

 

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