December 24, 2009

On Shuffle

Metallica-"Enter Sandman"

I had a nightmare when I was around nine years old.

At the time, I was into Power Rangers, and I wanted to be the Blue Ranger because blue was and still is my favorite color. The nightmare was set in this white-washed nineties TV show, and the bad guys were (oddly) from the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, another show I watched. With the big bird baby and the wolf baby mutants.

I was standing at the base of a tall building, which for some reason I thought was the Empire State Building. My mom and I were talking about the divorce my dad and her had just gone through a few months ago. We were both wearing sun hats and dresses, though I hardly wear dresses at all.

Then, I heard a scream, and I saw a body falling and crashing into a car below. I rushed over, with a cold grip of certainty you only have in dreams. It was my dad, and then I woke up...crying...

DDR-"Dark Black Forest"

I've always liked music I could dance to. Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) is one of my favorite games on the Playstation 2 (PS2), and due to my athletic ability (?) and hips, I can proudly play Standard Mode. My brother, who I introduced to the game when I was still a Light Moder, is now Heavy-Challenge Moder, surpassing me in height and flexibility.

Men. They eat like garbage cans and grow like trees, and we women can only grow hips and give birth. Sometimes I wish I had been born a man.

Now, I only play DDR if they have it in the arcades.

Grease-"Grease Lightning"

My car was bought in the beginning of last summer, and I'm constantly worried that it will break down randomly like my previous Jeep did. It's winter now, and my Jeep broke down last winter in the beginning of January. It's December 24th.

Perhaps if I had a better knowledge of cars then I wouldn't have to worry about the uncertainty of my car breaking down... But cars have never interested me. I know that if I learned more about them, then I would be able to take care of my used cars. But like most technology, I just let it die and then buy something else.

This seems to be a rampant problem in American society...


I've had two boyfriends in four years. My first boyfriend was a high school crush. Not even a crush, he had a crush on me, and I was flattered enough to attempt a relationship. Frankly, I started it out of curiosity.

However, I soon found out that we really didn't have anything in common. Then it took another year-and-a-half to finally end it...

My current relationship is going better, so far. I still have that fear of separation, that, ultimately, it's all futile. I sometimes think that I'm just not made for relationships; I'm too cold, brutally honest, cynical. It's not easy to be in a relationship with a Bipolar Pessimist...

Last night, I told him my reoccurring fear; of dying and everyone dying.

But every time he brushes my hair out fo my eyes, and whispers that everything's all right, and will continue to be all right, I can't help but believe him.

???-"Dr. Mario with Lyrics"

OMG! This song is epic! I've never played "Dr. Mario," but this song makes me want to.

Mario...everyone of our generation should know the Mario franchise, even our parents know it because we keep playing it day in and day out~and they yell at us to turn the TV off because it's dinner time. Mario has changed all of our lives! XD

Queen-"Don't Stop Me Now"

My dream is to graduate college, live in Japan while teaching English, learn enough Japanese to become a translator, then travel the world, move back to the U.S. to be an English teacher and online translator, get married, have kids, raise them up with a better knowledge of the world than I did, hope that they can live on their own, and then die without regrets.

I would say that I'd want to get married with a person that I love, but that's a given, so it's not really a dream.

I used to want to change the world, but I've long given up that dream. I've found that most leaders either become corrupt or die young~and I would rather take care of the next generation, and hope that I can do something to back them up. I don't like my generation that much, so I have chosen to teach the next instead of being tortured in the present.

Aerosmith-"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"

I have a bad memory, which impedes on the good things in life. I have many missed opportunities. Each day I wonder what it would be like to not be this way, if I could have more motivation to remember and interact with people--to have more confidence in myself and be...perfect.

But no one's perfect, I reason. We each have our own demons and angels, every person in the world.

When I saw "Armageddon," I cried. Crying is a sign we still feel, and that even if our minds might not remember certain things, our bodies never forget what it's like to be human by constantly crying. This is why I don't care whether you're a guy or a girl, crying is just a form of expression. Anyone who says different is fucked up. That's why,

"I just wanna hold you close, feel your heart so closed to mine, and just stay here in this moment for all the rest of time--Yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

That's why, even though I forget too many things to be "normal," every day I try to smile at least once, be grateful at least once, and laugh at least once. The most important thing people can share with each other is the power of a smile...

Europe-"The Final Countdown"

Whenever I hear this song, I'm reminded of all those motivational workout videos, with the epic Rocky Balboa jog to the top of steps.

Needless to say, my current boyfriend picked this song out for me to download, this song fits his personality--a never-give-up, single-minded, intelligent, kind person.


He dropped out of college, and most people would call him a loser. I know his younger brother does, and constantly rubs it in his face. Phil vs. Austin, which brother is the better? I personally believe Austin is a better person, not just brother, but that's based on closed-minded bias. Everyone has their own positive and negative attributes, albeit some people have more than others. Phil likes to compete with his brother, and act like he's the boss, and I just want to punch him in his pretty face sometimes.

However, like most annoying and stupid people, I am going through my own trial with him. I tend to be very patient, and I see this as a test of my patience, and coming to terms with Austin's faults, which Phil likes to point out to me.

Rascal Flatts-"Life is a Highway"

Now I'm reminded of "Highway to Hell"... But whether for good or bad, life is certainly a highway, a road to traverse, an adventure, with bumpy Michigan potholes, and uncertainty, and "I wanna ride it all night long!"

Right now, I'm preparing for a big New Year's bash at my house. We have a caravan of seven people, though the van only fits five... But us young adults don't care, there's no law against it, so we're going to pack it in and shove on out.

Road trips have always been my dream, traveling to the future with friends, family, people we care about the most. I've always loved that feeling, the feeling that shoves all the bad things under the bed and keeps smiling no matter what~

"Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long... You're going my way, I'm wanna drive you ALL NIGHT LONG!"

Road trips is another mysterious play of human nature, no matter who it's with, we always turn out to be friends in the end. Amen to Life.

DDR-"Drop the Bomb"

Another DDR song, and it reminds me of when I was beginning to start Standard songs. I've always liked the techno upbeat songs, and I think most people would be with me. Humans like to move their bodies, and what's better than an upbeat techno song to get the muscle twitching?

I like going to clubs mainly cuz they play this kind of music.

Weird Al-"Polkarama"

Weird Al is one of my favorite artists. He can take a parody of a song and use witty humor to make people laugh and dance. Polkarama takes a mix of songs from various ages, and puts it to an accordion Polka dance, which is quite humorous.

Parody Artists like Weird Al are so good that they can make money on just their parodies, and I've always wanted to be a parodist, but I'm not very funny. "Don't you wish your girlfriend was hawt like me?" ROFLMAO!

Now I'm just dancing, this song always makes me happy whenever I'm down "I'll take you to the candy shop, let you lick a lollipop!"

"Hey mister DJ!"

"She'd take my moneh, when I'm in need"

Weirdly, Al Yankovic has a pretty good voice that is adapted to many types of songs. He's parodied rap, rock, pop, swing, etc.

December 19, 2009

My Family

This is my family, I thought today. When the beginning of Winter Break started, and the house was quiet except for the typing of my keys, I realized that my loneliness was a sham...


"Yes, they're having a party again." sigh, "And once again they didn't tell me about it."

"Well, that stinks." My boyfriend answered through my cell phone, "Are they boozing again?"

"Of course."

Erin was in her room, quiet as always, and Jen... Well Jen got the short stick, she is in the room downstairs with only her door between her and the rowdy party guests. We were all putting up with it because it was Tony's birthday, the only man in a house full of girls... He's gay, so don't worry.

I had come down to get a glass of water. Not really liking the taste of water, I get severely dehydrated after long periods of abstinence, and then I drink the entirety of the Nile River in a day...

Dressed in pajamas with nothing underneath, I felt a little awkward sauntering down the crooked, narrow stairs into a crowd I didn't know. But it was late, and I didn't really care about my body because I was happily with my boyfriend of a year now. The eyes kept bothering me though. I strained a smile, not really looking at anyone, and pressed my way into the kitchen.

"Oh hey!" Danielle said, her face flushed and her wiry blond hair more poofy than usual, "Sorry about the noise, we're trying to keep it down."

"It's fine, I'm just thirsty."

I grab a tall glass from the cupboard, the pitcher of filtered water from the fridge, and pour.

Taking a sip, I suddenly felt lighter, like I could breath again. Being slightly claustrophobic, perhaps the crowd did unnerve me more than I believed... With the glass, I scurried back to my room at the end of the hallway.


"Yeah, I have the Kitchen this week--God dammit!" I threw the towel I had been using to dry my hands into the sink, "I don't even eat here that often! I hardly have any food, so I don't cook anything, and yet they stick me with the messiest room in the house!"

"That's dumb. Just tell them that someone else should do it."

A day later I mopped the floor and cleaned the counter tops, but I did not wash a single dirty dish in the sink.


"Uh-huh. Wait. I smell smoke... They're probably smoking downstairs in the basement where the heater is. Fuck, now I have a headache!"

"Hmm. Smoke gives me a headache too. Take some Ibuprofen."


I want to just lie in the bed and go to sleep, I wanted to say, but the feeling that I must talk to him surpassed the fatigue. I didn't want this family; I had asked them if they watched a lot of TV, smoked, drank, and they all said "not a lot." They lied. This stupid house with its stupid lax environment. I hate it, I thought. In a place I could finally call my home, I feel even more lonely.

The hum of the heater turned off, and I buried my head underneath the sheets until the smell went away.


Right now, there is a Christmas tree in our dining room. It's leaning back against the wall because the stand is too weak to protect it from our cats. Nick, Tony's cat, always wants to climb it, even though he knows the branches are too thin to support him. Momo, my cat, eats the fake leaves and I have to constantly bat him away. Around the tree hangs five stockings: Red, White, Light Blue, Dark Blue, and Silver. Though our names aren't on them...and they probably won't be full of candy come Christmas time, they hang as watchers of the crooked tree.

"Can you guess which one's yours?" Tony asked, when I had come back from work a couple weeks ago.

I looked at them for a second. "The blue one?"

"Well duh, but which one?"

I point at the darker one. I am correct. Then I notice, my house mates stand, the first time in a long while, smiling at me despite my outward appearance and awkwardness. And more than harsh criticism, I want to say "I'm sorry."

December 04, 2009

Womanly Scents

Light, rich, alluring... The human mind is a woven net of smells. Takes a look around.

The Flowers

Japanese Cherry Blossom

花見(はなみ) Hanami, flower-viewing. In the spring, the cities of Japan are filled with cherry blossoms blowing in on the wind from the nearby hills. They have festivals throughout the country dedicated to watching these beautiful, delicate petals, holding picnics beneath pouring pink snow. Thousands of people sometimes, and they would all gather in parks and shrines--fascinated for an hour by the magnificence of nature.

Gowned Jasmine

I loved Disney movies when I was a kid, and not much has changed. For the Spring Dance in freshmen year of college--when things are still new--my friends planned to dress up like Disney Princesses. At first they thought I would make a great Jasmine, but then my friend Lauren cried out, “No! She can be Mulan!” and everyone else agreed. I'm Half-Japanese...

Plumeria a flower that you can find on the islands of Hawaii. It is distinguished by its yellow-white petals that curl up at the edges and layer themselves like a windmill. It is a common flower to make leis out of, and the smell is soft and refreshing.

E komo mai o Hawai'i. If only I could hear those words again.

Hibiscus my mom's favorite flower. Because it likes room temperature, she sets her hibiscus plants (she has two) in the parlor room during winter. She isn't the Japanese-Hawaiian one, Dad is, but he lives two thousand miles away in California with the woman whom he met months before my parents' divorce.

Butterfly Flower

At Put-in-Bay, Ohio I got to see my first butterfly house. Not the inside where the butterflies were, but the outside where the shop was. It was six dollars to get in and--being with a ragtag group of tourists--we thought it was money that could be better spent on Death by Chocolate Cheesecake. So, I decided to buy my mom her birthday present, a butterfly wind chime that cost ten dollars.

Tiger Lily

"oh yes speaking of which yup i'm still here in lancaster, england. two more weeks of school before i europetrot a little till 1/1/10! i just got back from an AWESOME roadtrip to inverness, scotland (where loch ness is), i wished i could have done that in US!!"

--TingXuan Ho, former co-worker, current penpal who also loves literature and traveling

Enchanted Orchid

Aunt Jill was my Biology teacher in middle school. For a class project she herded us to the hill by the P.E. fields and we planted flowers. It was reported in the local news, along with a grinning photograph of my aunt while she was single, radiant, and easy-going.

Hundred-Petaled Lily

I hope to get married someday. In fact, like most girls, I have my wedding already planned out--Sunset at the beach in a white dress dyed blue at the ends and forget-me-nots in my hair. My groom in a light button-shirt, tie, and pants. The smell of salt, a wide expanse of possibilities and nerves.

The Plants

Green Clover and Aloe

My childhood was spent looking for four-leaf clovers and getting in trouble.

Red Ivy and Rosemary

I can smell the chicken up in my room, and my stomach growls. For a moment, I forget my teenage worries, but when my mom comes in unannounced I close my book with a snap.

"I told you I wanted to talk to you about something important."

I nodded, it was mere formality. She sighs and takes my hand.

"Are you and Austin doing it?"

"Doing it?"

"Having SEX." she says impatiently, with an awkward smile.



"Are you using protection?"

"Yes. We know how to take care of ourselves."

"No. No you don't. You're young and active, but you forget things sometimes. I'm only worrying about you, do you know that even doing it properly can still result in your getting pregnant? Are you ready for that responsibility?"

Her voice is cracking. Her eyes water. I try to keep calm, but I instinctively cry with her. I am my mother's daughter, and just like my mother's mother, my mom is only trying to look out for me. This conversation leads nowhere concretely, but emotionally we grow closer as mother and daughter.


Autumn. Colors. Jumping. Children screaming in joy. But not a very good smell... puts it back.


Japan. Samurai. Fighting. Farmers pulling rice, bare-back.

The Foods

Mango Mandarin

I will eat anything mango. My friends, family, and boyfriend know this--that's how rampant my adoration of mango is. Cake, pudding, candy, smoothie, glaze, topping, filling, anything that has mango I will try, and ninety-nine-percent of the time will like. But I already have this one...puts it back.

Blueberry Pineapple

I don't eat raw blueberries, they're too tasteless to me. I also couldn't eat pineapple for a while after I got a stomach flu and puked up pineapple in my mom's car. It took two years to get up the courage to eat pineapple again. I didn't puke. So, I ate all the Hawaiian pizzas I liked. But I still don't like raw blueberries.

Creamy Coconut

The first time I tasted and smelled coconut was in the second grade. I lived in Hawai'i, and the daily activity was carving necklace beads out of coconut shells. We cracked the shell, drained it, carved out the meat, and sand-papered the fragments out to be smooth, dark, and shiny like stones. We also got to eat the meat of the coconut left behind. But, my teacher warned me, eating too much makes you dizzy. In response, I ate too much and got dizzy...

Soggy Corn

The first time I walked through a corn field was in Michigan. I only walked a few steps in, panicked, and turned back to the road. Too many horror stories start in the middle of dense cornfields.

Later that year, the corn was cut down, snow fell, and the land drastically changed. Occassionally, I would look out of my window, my breath fogging up the glass and wonder what the farmers were doing now that everything was dead.

Pink Grapefruit

My grandmother likes eating healthy things, always trying to feed my brother and I half of the whole of something--like skim milk (white water). Some of her concoctions did taste good; for instance, Insalata Caprese salad made out of a slice of tomato, a leaf of basil, and a wedge of soft mozzerella cheese. Others, like pure pink grapefruit, I couldn't handle.

Pink Strawberry

My grandmother likes to push things on me. Shopping, fashion, table manners, and boyfriends. My mom rolls her eyes, saying something along the lines of "at least she pays attention to YOU." So I bare the trips to the mall, the lunch outings, and the manicure. But, this isn't me. I don't wear pink or pay $50 for a shirt. By sheer luck, one of the days I had planned to visit, mom got a call from grandma saying she had gotten food poisoning from eating strawberries.


The smell of vanilla gives me a headache. I love vanilla bean ice cream, but the artificial fragrance is too much... places it back on the counter.


It's getting close to winter, I need to stock up on lotion and chap-stick. This new White Citrus smells pretty good, I'm impressed.

Yuletide Pear Vanilla

Now why ruin a perfectly good holiday with vanilla?

The Places

Dancing Waters

There's something special about water, our very bodies are seventy-percent water, and the clear opacity of water is almost something out of a sci-fi movie. Watching it swish around a bowl, or pour from a glass, or, if you're lucky, reflect a sun rise as the calm waves seem to glimmer and dance—it's so beautiful you wonder how something so simple as water can be so amazing.

Thunderous Ocean

Westcoast girl born and raised. I'm tired of lakes and rocks--give me warm sand in between my toes, salt on my tongue, and a boogieboard (bodyboard).

Moonlight Path

Once when I was about fourteen, I woke up to the sounds of my Mom and her boyfriend, my stepdad Phil, duking it out on their bed. I sighed, slipped my shoes on, and went outside until it was finished. Luckily, it was a warm summer night. I spent a good hour looking up at the moon and wondering if all adults are this inconsiderate. Now, nineteen and soon to be twenty, I understand a little more.

Strobelight Walk

When I was nineteen I visited the Necto Club in Ann Arbor with some friends. It was goth/punk day, so everyone was wearing black Lolita clothes and chains. Me in my light-up black cat shirt and jeans seemed too preppy to these guys. But my boyfriend, Austin, just jumped onto the dance floor and dragged me with him. It took a while for my muscles to loosen up, and before midnight I was jumping up and down while he unbuttoned his shirt and bared his chest. Then my friend Jackie got up on one of the dance poles, and I followed soon after.

Cotton Blossom

Some scents girls aren't supposed to talk about, but others a woman can. Like the scent of two bodies between the sheets, and the discovery of one's sexuality amidst awkward touching and poking. I had a discussion with one of my coworkers while we were cleaning the grill about the morals of living together with my boyfriend before we're married.

“Don't you want to experience the excitement of buying stuff for your house? It's so cute when married couples go out shopping.”

I don't see how dating couples are any less cute.

Velvet Husk

My grandma on my father's side died when I was three. She was cremated to the Japanese tradition, and my mom tells me I was there, but I don't remember any of it. I only have a photograph of her, perhaps the last. Grandpa is sitting on the right, Grandma on the left, and I'm being held between them. Hawaiian mountains are in the background. Grandma, if you were alive today, would you be proud of me?

Twilight Woods

Even the word "twilight" gets me on edge. I don't want to read it, look at it, or see another trailer of it on TV. And "twilight" used to have a good connotation too...

Dawn Tree

I'm writing a book. It isn't finished yet, and I don't expect it to be until well into my life. It will be the compilation of all the philosophies on the human condition, including existentialism, faith, love, hate, war, etc. Life in short. And it's going to be a sci-fi.

The Others

Black Amethyst

My brother was born on October 25th, 1992. He was eleven pounds (I don't know how my mom did it). Now, Jared is a few inches taller than me, half my weight, and I'm cursing the gods of genetics.

Blue Topaz

I was born on December 10th, 1989. I was around nine pounds, and now not only am I heavier than my brother while being shorter, but I'm also not as good at math.

P.S. I Love You

My first boyfriend and I lived around two thousand miles apart. I was going to high school in Michigan, he was entering college in Oregon. From the beginning it was doomed to fail, I can see that now. In our emails to each other, when we were still content in just experiencing the feeling of being in a relationship, we would always write a post script. Most often than not, it would be “P.S. I love you so much!”

P.S. I Hate You

I lost a friend over the summer. Lily was her name, and she didn't die. She had been with me for a good eight months before she went studying abroad in Japan, then miscommunication made me jealous, which made her angry, which made her say things to get me angry, which ended it. Her last words to me were through email, even though I begged to talk to her on the phone. But, she goes to the same school as me, and I see her now without having the luxury to talk to her anymore.

Unless You Buy

"I'm not going to go, unless you buy." I once said to my second boyfriend, my current boyfriend, when I was visiting during the summer time. I closed my mouth in ashamed. The icing on the cake was his reply,

"Then I'll pay for it." He's working as a lifeguard with $9,000 in loans to pay off before he can go back to college.

Unless We Marry

Austin's family is too confusing. His mother welcomes me into her home, but then says I'm not truly family until I marry her son. Then what am I? A "close" friend? Plus, they don't let him drive their cars, even though he's twenty-four and has had his license for over a year now. Austin and I are now thinking of living together next year, and his mom has said if he isn't out by next year she'll kick him out. My coworker won't like it, we're not married yet, but who cares.

Zealous Dreams

I write because I cannot speak. I love because I cannot like. I dream because I cannot do. But I try, asking my mom if God would let me write in Heaven.

I think I'll buy this one.

November 24, 2009

Things in My Room

There is no sheet on the bed, it's still in the net, waiting to be stretched over my cushy mattress. The kind that gives extra support for a bad back. At the end of the bed is a mini refrigerator, unplugged because I don't have a lot of food in the house. Next to that, and in front of my closet, is my dresser with the 10" TV on top. I don't use that much either.

The dresser is painted like a house and weighs about that. The lamp behind the TV and on top of the dresser is also not used, and covered with a pink wig I once wore to Youmacon 2007. My closet door is open. A Love Hina! poster is taped to the door, next to a flying dragon puzzle glued onto cardboard and nailed to the wall above my dresser. Next to the closet, and directly across from me, is a corkboard covered with tickets to the Winter concert of the Transiberian Orchestra, an old Cedar Point Admission ticket, two bookmarks, a list of creative nonfiction literature, and blue tacks.

The door is on the left, slightly open with a meijer trash bag dangling from the handle. A blue hawaiian cloth with white hibiscus flower and gold leave print hangs over the doorway. In the far left corner is my open bookcase. I call it open because it has four shelves, but no sides. So the books have a habit of falling off when they tip over. In addition to books, there is also a wooden wolf statue stuck in howling pose, an ugly brown dog from Cedar Point, two mini Pikachus, the 1 and 9 candles from my 19th birthday, which was celebrated in my small Aquinata dorm room, a slinky, two artificial leis--the purple on my Aunty Rachel made--and a random assortment of jewelry boxes.

Against the left wall is my desk where everything important ends up, heaped in piles. Among bills, loans, pay stubs, and forgotten homework, there is a sketcher's statue, stuck in a suave bow to an empty audience. A picture of my deceased grandmother and my grandfather holding me when I was just a baby, with the Hawaiian mountains in the background, is framed with pink netting. Another picture of Sora, from Kingdom Hearts, sleeping with a little Goofy and Donald Duck also sits on the table. MagicL The Gathering cards and random assortment of colored pens also. An old "tropical forest" scent cone sit between the bowing statue and the picture of my grandparents. An opened box of stationary lies discarded.

Next to my desk is a purple lamp I bought specifically for this room. It has two bulbs, one points straight up like a ceiling lamp, the other stops midway and bends like a desk lamp. It cost $15. Next to that is a coat hanger I made, purple, crooked, teetering on four loosely screwed legs. But it's good enough for my two winter coats, hats on the top, and my mufflers.

In the corner next to that are two suitcases, blue. My grandma in California (my mom's mom) got them for me when I graduated high school and went to college. I bring them around everywhere now. Next to that is a box of videos ranging from Aladdin (VHS) to Chobits (DVD). The window is closer, on my left, with the blinds closed. In front of it is a half-foot-high pot of soil, rectangular. The soil is dried out, and the beans that had been struggling to grow are long buried.

My bedstand is next to me, on my left. My bamboo plant needs to be watered. Filled with my favorite manga, W Juliet, and other essentials, such as: Let's Learn Kanji, School and Office Dictionary, The Koran, The Bible, The Missouri Review, and Word and Expression Locator. Along with my Life Binder, which contains everything important about my life: loan info, taxes, birth certificate, etc.

The space in between these objects, in the middle of the room, are scattered and haphazardly placed. Describing them would take too much time and only confuse.

November 23, 2009

In and Out

I wish you were making that sound while going into me,
while feeling me--
between the sheets--
In and Out
In and Out
It was harmony.
Not make-believe,
it was ecstasy!
So sweet the memory, I forgot completely
the moment of your kiss
is lost to me.
Why can't you read between the lines--
Can't you see the best of me?
The angry fiery love of my retreat,
as you cheat with hands behind me.
The feeling,
the sweet sweet feeling,
of her hair is fantasy--
a dream inside a dream
that no remedy can unbind thee!
You say "love me"
I say NO with a rage-love
that eats me
inside and out
with the motion of our bodies' heat
rolling around between the sheets
You cry that sound I wish I could receive
In and Out
In and Out of her
and then I understand.

Love so sweet, it burns me.

November 22, 2009

I don't write poetry

This is NOT a rhyme,
not to a sing-song voice that says "Looooove meeeeee!"
because I TELL my story.


Not an artificial "I'm too sad to cope, so I'll spit my words out by struggling to say what I mean to say by not saying exactly what I mean by meaning what I say only as long as I'm saying it"...


Not a torn-out "I live in the ghetto and got abused by my girlfriend too many times, too many bullets in the head, so many times that I can't believe I didn't realize sooner" I've heard so many times I can't believe I'm still listening


My life is not a beat from the street, not a sad expose of how I turned my life around, not the insanity of being a loner, unwanted, afraid, manhandled, passionate, creative--

All I am saying is

I don't write poetry

I've never seen the sun in the stars or the stars in the moon or the moon in your hair--but I CAN say it's been dyed too many times. So many, in fact, that it resembles the crater-strewn dried out surface of an uninhabitable rock.

My story cannot be stretched out, blown up, used to float through the layers of the atmosphere, layers of belief, religion, living, dying, moral ethics, logical physics, wildly played out fantasies of a person who knows who they are already because

I don't know who I am yet.

Am I a Catholic-Jew-woman-person-lover-hater-fighter-follower-believer-skeptic-critic-dancer-singer-artist--

I can at least be that.

But a poet...that's been overplayed too many times.
I hear "Poetry" and I say,
"Shit! Now this class is going to take ten times as long and make one-tenth the amount a' sense!"
Rhymes, riddles, metaphors, between the lines, between the sheets, love, passion, understanding, hating, reasoning, the image of an image beyond an image behind an image of the man you sat down with on the bench while you were listening to your iPod and he was feeding the birds bread out of a paper bag--

God All Mighty have mercy on our souls!

Because that's not my gig dawg. Thas not how I roll.

So where do I belong, if it's not with the poets?

Am I even a person?

Unable to express what I believe, my personality, my insanity, the reason for my existence, my persistence through life despite the constant crying of WHY WHY WHY WHY am I still alive? Dragging my feet through the marshes of humanity, the surrealism of reality, eternity of suffering through a poetry class without ending, a destination without a beginning, meaning in only what we mean, not what we say, constantly playing behind the covers of a lovers' bed with his (or her's) ex, only to find out later that your lover was also playing the same game, and you feel cheated, defeated, lied to, you're ready to take your own life with the blade of Juliet, but then you realize something!

Your fingers grip the pen...shaking...afraid for eons about what you want to say...finally, you can say what you mean.

Waste Land great Byzantium okay Arcadia intriguing Rent I like the idea Eternity Program in the making Sesame Street good for kids What the FUCK is up with South Park?

Everyone around me everywhere is playing off these misguided spurts of idiocy and framing them as masterpieces--am I the only one who doesn't get it--


Left outside of a crowd born to take the world, live it, love it, and die in a rose-scented coffin with a violin playing soft sultry music in the background to the beat of 'I Kissed a Girl' and later 'See You Again'--


I don't want to write poetry. I want to write history.

November 20, 2009

While Waiting in Line




Act I: (Modern Day)

All characters stand in line at the back of the stage, facing right-stage and spanning across so as to create the illusion of no beginning or end to the line. There is a sign hung above with an arrow pointing right, labeled "Gate 13" From left to right: Luis, Clark, Mandé, Bill, Lisa, Tom, and Marianne. Luis and Clark are both young college men. Luis is spectacled and contently reading a newspaper, while Clark is tapping his foot impatiently and constantly looking at his watch. Mandé is not young but not old and is talking loudly on her cell phone, annoying the old man next to her, Bill, who is wearing an old suit with a bowler hat. Marianne carries a purse and keeps rummaging around in it, seeing if she has everything. Throughout the play she tries to keep the unruly kids, Lisa and Tom, from causing too much mischief. Tom is chubby and is sucking on a lollipop, and Liza is a skinny, hiding half of ehr face behind thick, dark hair.

Mandé and Bill are center-stage and talk louder than the others, who make background noise as to give the illusion of a crowded place.

Mandé (with a southern drawl): Yes, Ma. Can you believe it, engaged to this bum who doesn't even spit out a dime, and I'm the one stuck picking his god damn children up. (pause) Uh-huh. Ma, I'm telling you, even though this guy's a prick, he's loaded! (pause) What? (more loudly) What?! Of course he's paying for the gas (pause, as if in agreement) and the hotel room (pause, nods her head) and the car.

Bill (mumbling to himself, obviously annoyed): That damn woman better shut her trap. Jesus, if Sara turned out that way I would have beat the shit out of her. Yappin' on about things no modest woman would do. For Christ's sake, how long will I have to listen to this racket?

Mandé (oblivious to Bill's discomfort): Yes, last night. With candles and everything. (loud boisterous laughter) No! No! Not here, not now. But I can say that it was a hell of a time. Later this week we're planning on going out to see a play and then dinner. (pause) Well I don't rightly know what kind of play it is, Ma. He picked it. I think it's called "Waiting in a Desert" or the like.

Bill: Back in the day we used to use our imaginations better. Now, everything's presented as it should be, directly, with no hidden agenda or meaning. These young folks wouldn't know a satire if it tied them up and displayed them as trinkets for entertainment and profit.

Mandé: Profit is the idea, Ma. That's why I'm with him, and he looks very handsome, don't you think so? (pause) Well the limp is unfortunate. But it doesn't keep him from (stops herself before saying anything else, and drops her voice to a loud whisper) He's even bigger than Brian.

Bill: When you're an old man, everything shrinks. You lose your hair, your back is bent, and the meat is str-r-r-ripped off your bones. My God, I hope Susan will cook up some Swiss Chicken tonight. (confused pause) Where is she anyway? (looks around vaguely) Damn daughter of mine, always getting lost.

A voice off-stage yells "Next!" and the line moves one position forward, Marianne vanishing off-stage to appear at the end of the line from left-stage. In this way the actors circle about constantly. Now Mandé and Clark are together in center-stage. Mandé forgets to take a step.

Clark (checking his watch again and stomping his foot): Fuck! Can this line go any slower? I have to be in New Guinea by tomorrow, and it's midday already. As an executive Boaring member, I have to be there for the eight o' clock meet and greet. Hey, hay woman (shakes Mandé's shoulder) take a step already.

Brittany (to Clark): At least you didn't have to wait yesterday--Nothing Ma, just talking to a boy complaining about the line--

Clark: Who says I wasn't waiting yesterday? I've been waiting for years! The stupid bureaucracy of this country astounds me, can it go any slower?

Brittany: For years, right? (uncertain) I don't remember seeing you at all.

Clark: I was here, I assure you. This very spot. Behind you and before him (points to Luis). I was here yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that.

Brittany (to phone): He says he's been here forever. (to Clark) Well I'm sure I was here first, or else I wouldn't be in front of you.

Clark (softly): Unless you cut.

Brittany: What was that?--hold on Ma--

Clark (loudly): Unless you cut in front of me!


Off-stage voice shouts "Next!" and the line moves forwards one step.

Luis (in a casual tone): Clark, why are you being so noisy?

Clark: This bitch over here is saying she's been waiting longer than us, when I believe she just cut us this morning, and--

Luis (turning a page in the newspaper and inspecting it in interest): What does it matter, really?

Clark (taken aback): What?

Luis (still reading): We have been waiting forever, and will continue to stand here no matter how many people are in front of us tomorrow or the next. Might as well enjoy the journey, not worry about the end. It's the way the Chinese see it, anyway.

Clark: You're always lazy, Luis. You don't want to go anywhere in life. It's all about the destination, or else what have you got to aim for?

Luis: Happiness. (flips a page)

Off-stage voice shouts, "Next!" and the line moves forwards another step.

Marianne (checking her purse): Okay, I have my cell phone, ID. What about Lisa's--oh here it is. Some crackers for Tom because he eats like a horse. Oh no, where did I put the birth certificates? (searches frantically)

Clark (reading out loud from an article): "The nervous mother worrying about her baby shows it even to the unconscious child at her breast. When the child is older she still shows it, until the little one knows as well as it knows when the sun is shining that "mother is worrying again." The worrying wife does not keep her worry to herself; she pours it out to, or upon, her husband. The worrying husband is just the same. If it is the wife that causes him to worry - or to think so - he pours out his worry in turbulent words, thus adding fuel to a fire already too hot for comfort."

The off-stage voice shouts "Next!" and the line moves forwards a step-and-a-half, and now Tom, Lisa, and Marianna are in the center.

November 16, 2009


Be right back.

I don't know how this is going to go, but I'll be driving down to Cherry Bomb, on Cherry St., to see who I can meet. So until that time has passed, and I can write at last, I'll post this for now as a marker for how I almost got to post something insightful--hopefully delightful--today.

If you know about it too, I hope to meet you there so we can share all the things we don't want to say--but say things that we may or may not present--during the time we spend together... Perhaps we'll find that it was more than what we bargained for. For now, I'll have to say:


November 11, 2009

Check Check

Vrooom--Screech! Crash! Thud (Scream) Clopclopclopclopclop brrrring brrrring brrring

"911, what is your emergency?"

Shuffleshuffle thud. Shuffleshuffle thud. Smack!

Wamwamwamwhamwamwam. Beedledeebeedlebee. WamwamwamWHAMWAMWAMWAM?!


Clopclopclopclop--shick! Fumble... zzzinzzzinzzin...


ssshhit--zzzinzzzinzzzin-clang! shick!




Beeeeeeeeeeep...ZAP--bah beep...bah beep...bah-beep-bah-beep-bah-beep--ssshhit!


"Where am I?"


"Where's my mom?"



"I am here, honey, don't worry."

"What happened? Where am I?"

"The test sheets show there are some bone fractures to both legs, and his left arm is broken in two places."

"Alright, Mrs. Claymore said go ahead with the operation."

"But...the risks...there is some decent brain damage and--"

"Right now, whether he dies or not is up to a being greater than me."


Look stage left...look stage right...look up...exit left while the light dims to dark.

November 10, 2009

In Pieces

I walk back from my car, trailing a blue suitcase across the uneven grass. Unmowed, craggy, and sparse. It was the house I remembered renting for two-sixty a month, not including gas, electricity, cable, internet, and water. My head felt fuzzy with jet lag, but I hadn't rode a plane, just a two-and-a-half hour car ride from Bay City where my parents (my mom and my step-father Phil) lived. It was disconcerting.

I was in a bad mood that day. The return to college after over a week in two different states--one in which I worked at a large amusement park, and the other where I visited my family--wasn't full of hugs, smiles, and a circle of friends. I was greeted at the door by a messy living room, beer bottles crowded in a triangle on the coffee table and scattered instruments of Rock Band lying abandoned for midnight rides to Steak n' Shake. Climbing the creaking stairs, and turning down the narrow hallway to my room on the end, the cries of lazy college life waved my return home. Dirty clothes, piled blankets, scattered papers... A disorganized mess that I liked to call my own creative expression of inner torment, of an imprisoned soul.

I sat down and stared at myself in every crease of cloth folded over another forgotten homework assignment, not turned in because it had been too late...

That prompted me. What day was it? Oh yeah. Sunday. I just drove from Mom's house. So it's still Sunday. Not Monday. I have time... What am I supposed to do again? Where are my books? Are they still in the car?

I search a little. The mass of junk in my room intimidated me, and I stop after only a few seconds. Knowing if I couldn't remember right away then it wouldn't come back to me for a while yet. All I could do now was wait.

So I sat down and turned on my computer.

I have a horrible memory. Long-term and short-term--all shot to hell. Like a slice of Swiss cheese with more holes than cheese, my life is in flashes, colors, voices, and faces. Rarely do I remember a name before saying it ten times. My daily routine consists of losing my keys, searching for textbooks, notebooks, papers, remembering assignments, remembering which day it is, remembering what classroom I need to go to, what time I have to work, if i have to work, what day is it, did I drive here, where did I park, did I really send that email already?

It never ends.

And in result, I remember my life in pieces. Enough to know I don't remember everything. I remember our cherry tree in our backyard in Washington. The lagoon my mom took us to in Hawaii. My Grandma's pink house on Kansas Circle in Concord, California. My brother, mother, and other family members I also remember. Enough important things to not be suicidal or a shell of a person. Enough history to squeak by.

Now I remember! Something about creative nonfiction, something about writing an essay on... Personal Essay? What's a personal essay? Oh, just a regular essay about yourself.

Myself. I examined my condition and came to two conclusions. Either this is a chemical imbalance akin to my mild bipolarity, or it is a psychological suppression and denial due to some childhood trauma. The chemical imbalance could be taken care of by pills or vitamins depending on the situation--but that was a road walked many times before with my battle over bipolar episodes, involving insults flung back and forth across the dining room table. It would be better to combat if it was psychological.

Result of being hit in the head with a two by four when I was nine, being hit by my father, being yelled at, or my parents divorcing soon afterwards could all be triggers to this condition. However, most likely the event that started this automatic response is forgotten. Locked, with the key dropped down one of the holes in my mind. Into a deep crevasse not even I can explore.

"I love you." becomes a philosophical endeavor of constantly asking myself "do I really feel this way," and it brings up disturbing possibilities that explain everything. Perhaps one day I will forget who I love. How to care. How to write.

Now that would be tragic.

Today might mean nothing tomorrow, and people would blur into each other until everyone's brown with brown hair and blues eyes (or in my case everyone has dirty blond hair, white skin, and brown eyes)

Mental deterioration. Until. Everything. Stops.

People talk about being optimistic, looking at it from another angle. That is, if you can remember from which angle you're looking from, or if there are any other angles. Memory is essential for human development, part of what makes us unique. It forms a natural algorithm to how you function, what your response to certain stimuli will be, and how you will interpret a set of data (such as Beckett's Waiting for Godot).

So far, I am safe. So far, I have enough to squeak by. But, I am afraid of what can happen because with my past gone I only have the present and the future. Right now I look about my room with a sigh choking my words, the feeling of abandonment. From whom I don't know. Friends, family, love, God--or perhaps these are the same thing under a word undefined yet by the English language.

The future... Well, it isn't looking up, so I look down. Measuring the size of the hole before I am pushed by some violent tempest that strikes specifically 209 Fuller Ave SE. In the room upstairs, at the end of the hall...which would be left the same, a cluttered mess as it was before.

November 06, 2009

Outside My Skin

It was not too long ago, it seems, when the night was darker than all nights before, the silence thicker than all pauses in the English language. I was gripping the phone close, as I always did, like it was real, in front of me, holding my hand.

"What do you mean 'I can't do this anymore'?" He asked, his voice being forced through a cheese grater.

I closed my eyes and took a breath.

"I can't live a lie anymore, Ross. We don't have anything in common, don't you see? You like Programming, and no matter how many times I try to sound enthusiastic about it, it still bores me."

We seemed mysteriously disconnected. I used to be able to see him next to me, talking to me as I lie on the couch, legs dangling over the sides and my head resting on the opposite arm. Now, it was just me. Alone, and two thousand miles away from any source of happiness in this prison cell.

That was a year and a half ago.

Now I am in another long-distance relationship, one I like to believe more fruitful than my last one. We call each other pet names, like love, honey, sexy--but that isn't what a relationship is.

What is a relationship?

I sighed on the phone with Austin and said, "I just need a break. Really. I'm still nineteen, I'm young. I need to experience things and grow..."

His voice was choked. He probably didn't know what to say without either being angry or crying. He was a sweet boy. Eventually he conceded, and we hung up mutually knowing that we may not talk again for a long time.

"I'm free!" I yelled into the night air, sucking sweet Winter air into my lungs, "I can do whatever I want now!"

I was in my own little world. Paying attention to no one coming or going into the college cafe, I ran without any destination. I was in just a T-shirt and jeans in the middle of February, and I felt warmer than a poached egg on the Death Valley sand. I was free.

But, it didn't last for long. I felt that thirst for attention crop up again, and I started talking to Sean more, one of Austin's best friends. No. It didn't swing that way. But... I had once thought it should. I'm glad it didn't.

Why? Well, because life gives you hints, you just gotta be open to them. You have to look outside your skin to see relationships from an objective, all-knowing eye. It's impossible for everyday humans, but the attempt gets you closer than the truth than blatant denial.

So, I try to look closely before I develop a relationship with anyone, not just a guy. I want a friend who will have the same amount of devotion as me, a boyfriend who will love me as much as I can't love. And I will hope to become better at love than I already am.

"You're selfish sometimes." my ex-friend, Lily said.

I am. I know. I know it all too well. Our self is our hardest critic. Not only selfish, but lazy, arrogant, presumptuous, envious, vain, and introverted. However, since I have survived this long without being ostracized by society, I figure I'm good enough to have one good friend. Forever.

Someone to talk to until we grow old. Someone to call up enthusiastically and replay every single detail of my day. They would be just as enthusiastic to listen, but even tease me a little about it. Someone who will walk around in malls without any real reason, to kindle that sense of wonder and faith in humanity again. Because I'm dead right now.

I have not had one successful best friend in my entire life. People's faces blur now, and I hardly remember any names of my classmates. Everyone looks the same--superficial. It's the lens I use to see the world, one that only has one color but different shades. Some people are darker and deeper, but most are just blurs. Mixing and melding, thinking alike and acting alike enough to be annoying. Then, I stare at them when they leave the desk messy without so much as a thank you, expecting me to clean it up... I just don't trust people anymore.

Though, it's strange, no? I also like people. The thought of people, that is. The possibilities each one of us has is very interesting, which is why I have not given up on that best friend. My mom said that college is the worst place to be looking for best friends, that true friends happen in "real life." But...for me, I wonder if it's possible.

Looking from the outside-in...I wonder what I look like to everyone else. If I seem withdrawn and cold, heartless and bland, arrogant and stiff. I don't know. But inside...I feel alone.

November 05, 2009

Tears of a Nation

We are a nation torn apart at the seams. Family, friends, and lovers fighting against each other for a greater cause. The Trail of Tears was not too long ago, Linda Hogan said in her memoir The Woman Who Watches Over the World, the Japanese containment camps are still haunting the west shores. The cries of race riots in Detroit still shake the brick foundations. And still every day, children are born with this legacy of oppression, freedom, greed, and oppression.

This is why depression is the most over-diagnosed mental illness in the United States. Hogan writes how, even though half-Native American, she can still feel the pain of her people in her veins. Her people were the natives of this land, something we will never be able to understand--only sympathize--and we are the ones who killed them.

"It wasn't me." Someone said once, when I made an off-handed comment about the U.S. taking the Native land, "I wasn't the one who was there."

Perhaps not. But perhaps your great grandparents were. Perhaps your grandfather could have stopped it, but didn't. Aren't we all criminals since we didn't do anything about it? Still aren't doing anything about it.

In chains, they were dragged around in chains! Dark heads bent against the blows meant for evil, the Devil, wicked demons born for nothing but mischief. But the Africans were human, singing and dancing like we all do--try to, now--with the rhythm of their souls, a beat we Americans find hard to hear. Thump thump-thump rat-ta-ta-ta thump thump-thump. And their legs would kick up in the dirt, their voices gay for a moment. Then the crack of a whip would break their perfect world.

And still, during World War II, we sent our own Japanese soldiers into their Native land, had them fight their brothers and sisters, parents, and cousins, and then when they returned we put them into concentration camps. Even after they were released they were unable to find jobs, housing, even restaurants put signs on their front doors reading, "No Japs Allowed."

Ours is a country of fear--of pain, torment, and hypocrites. The past is what haunts us, alludes us, and twists our charity. What is American now? Certainly not being Vegetarian. Or wearing pink when you're a guy. Or learning other languages. McDonald's is American. So is hunting, football, and other forms of crude diet and competition.

A path of constant self-destruction.

Until, we break down.

Beckett, a famous Modernist poet, described life as a waste land we humans are thrust into without knowledge of how we got here or what we're supposed to do. He believes that the usual human response goes two ways; either take it in stride, or don't play the game. Ultimately--


Repenting for our sins, lamenting our mistakes. We care now, too late, and it kills us. A tragic American condition. But we can't say we don't deserve it, couldn't see it happening.


We even fight against ourselves. Things don't get any better, they just scatter and multiply, losing intensity, but growing in quantity. It's not urgent. Help is not needed now. But soon it will be too late to call for help, or to change the angle of momentum. We will implode, and who knows what will happen after that?

We are a nation built on tears. Wavering at the slightest breeze. Biting the smallest insect, afraid of it being bigger, darker, fiercer, better, brighter, gooder...

This is what I feel in my bones. My body seems to say there is no hope now, we have done too much. We have shed too much blood. My blood is not mine anymore; it is for Hogan's people, the African slaves, the Japanese soldiers living now in tombs of ocean salt. I took it away from them long ago, before I was born, but not before I could remember.

We are a nation, and we are crying.

November 03, 2009

Life in an Instant

I set my pencil down. Looking around for my notebook, my homework assignment shoved inside, piles of papers, clods of clothes, and bundles of boxes are strewn about, tripping me and obstructing my search. Not on my bedstand, where my bamboo plant casually tilts its head up at me. Not underneath my bed, where a tool bag, photo album, change jar, and box of nail polish great me. Nor underneath the clothes or papers. Not in my backpack, which holds my greasy work uniform from yesterday night.

My eyes gaze high, low, under, and behind, but cannot seem to find it. I am about to turn around when I catch sight of a worn gray corner poking out of the pile of papers on my desk. My eager hands dart forward, and I trip over a box full of Salvation Army donations. Yes, my Creative Nonfiction binder.

I return to my bed. My hand reaches into the folds to grab my pencil, but stops short. Shock freezes my eyes, melts into disappointment, and boils up with aggravation. Now I couldn't find my pencil.

November 02, 2009

Life in an Instant

It was raining. Cold. Windy. The duct tape on my front bumper had been ripped off by the elements of late Michigan fall (or early winter), and I was in the middle of taping it back on, wiping the bumper dry with my hat and applying tape in perpendicular stitches. Stitching up the wound.

A car nudged into the space beside me. An alarm was set off in the back of my mind, and I jerked out of the way, giving a hard look into the driver's side window. An elderly man stared back at me. He looked sorry. I bent down on one knee to commence the delicate operation again. The sky melting against my skin and sliding uncomfortably into the folds of my T-shirt.

My black jacket was dripping. Jeans. Brown shoes. On the pavement, my hands shoved under my wide Oldsmobile Cutlass, oil clinging to the moist pores of my skin, a strange old man watching and staring, people exiting the Rite-Aid in front of me, entering, exiting again--I sighed.

Finally wrapping the tape into a rope and tying the bumper to an underside pipe, I sat back and wiped my hands on my pants. Hopefully, I thought, it'll hold for another four hours...

October 12, 2009


I can't believe he talked about the sensation guys feel when peeing being similar to ejaculating can't he see that it was an unpleasant conversation why do we always have to talk about sex when I say we should talk more is that the only common ground we have is that what our relationship amounts to I know he has a lot of hot women around him being a life guard and all but does he really need to talk about these things every day especially when I'm trying to talk to him before going to sleep and he plays Pokemon when he's not talking about sex so he's a geeky pervert who can't keep his dick in his pants would I want to marry him somewhere down the line he will propose to me perhaps will I be prepared will I be ready I can imagine it now me in a short white dress dyed blue at the edges the dress he thought of with woven forget-me-nots dotting my hair we'll get married on the beach with the sound of the waves lapping in between our words of devotion love acceptance I'll probably be nervous and excited and so will he but I'm sure it will be a happy day for us if he only could stop being so vulgar I know he can be better than that which is why I am disappointed whenever our conversation veers to sex or some other similar intimate thing for all I know he could be fucking a tanned life gaurd coworker right now all I have is his word that he isn't but sometimes I catch him lying about something or other just because he knows I will get mad at him or he doesn't think about it he really doesn't think about the things he says a lot and it gets on my nerves I keep telling him to think before he speaks or acts but he doesn't and he's constantly making dumb mistakes like when he called Alley a racist just because she made a joke about Spanish wine being inferior and now Alley my friend despises him and I have to constantly make amends for something I wasn't even present for I ask him to forgive her but he won't do it I ask her to forgive him but she won't do it so now I have two friends who can't be in the same room all because he had to put in his opinion but Oh! when I had revealed to him I had a crush on him it was over a year ago and we were watching a movie on TV with some friends he was lying next to me on my bed because he couldn't see the TV very well from the ground I slept on the top of a bunk bed see so I could see the TV clearly I nudged him with my arm and whispered something what was that what do you want he asked I got shy and shook my head Kiss I whispered but he didn't catch on leaning closer he asked what and I looked him straight in the eye and whispered back K-I-S-S and he kissed me full on the lips Kiss Kiss and yet another Kiss until my heart was aflutter and it spread to my whole body head chest arms abdomen legs feet toes every part of me cried again K-I-S-S

October 09, 2009

Synthetic Intelligence Network (novel idea)

It was called the Universal Education Project. The distinguished Academy of Universal Science and Technology planned it all. They are the ones responsible. Responsible for all those people…

It was a simple series of experiments at first. The scientists made observations and recorded which method of teaching was suitable for a certain race and species of race. For example: Kaelings, who are of the Nightshade family and blind, would not be taught with the same method as Aeroginiuns, who have keen eyesight but lack the brain capacity to learn complex analytical problems. In the beginning, the purpose of the Universal Education Project was to create a minimal amount of teaching methods that would benefit all races, all ages, and all sexes on all charted planets of the entire universe. But that was before the original President and Principal of the Academy passed away, only to be replaced by Jütena Kogo.

My first impression of her was that she was passionate about science, but passionate didn’t even cut it close. She was insane. Immediately after she was appointed President of the Universal Education Project, she proposed a radical plan that would change the lives of the UEP children forever. A plan to cut and paste genes within the brain cells of the mind, arranging them so that the child would be able to use his or her full brain potential. And so the Universal Education Project changed its name to SIN, Synthetic Intelligence Network, and was led ruthlessly by Jütena, or Professor Kogo.

But…it was just like its name. SIN children were treated like animals; kept in cells and forced to eat “brain food” that tasted so bad some threw it up right afterwards only to be jabbed at with a ZG-41, which sent 2000 volts through the being’s body. When it had been UEP, the subjects were on a voluntary sign-up. It only took the waving of a signed custody warrant with the Emperor’s stamp of approval before SIN operatives could yank a child out of the arms of his or her family and enroll them in the program. It was devastating to the children, some of which were only four or five years old. But others, like me, were taken much later in life, during adolescence.

When you’re hitting puberty it’s like having your brain and heart being put into a blender and mixed until you don’t know your thoughts from your feelings. A young male is most unguarded during this time. Falling head over heels with females that he could never mate or didn’t like him, having animalistic urges that left his skin a bright shade of violet, and always constantly worrying about which crowd in Executive Life Training to hang out with. I hated it. And when Jütena came she took me by surprise.

Kerr! I never would have been seduced by such a devious ploy if she hadn’t so subtly gotten me intoxicated. But that’s what you get when you’re a young male seeking the company of an older and definitely more experienced female. I thought she bought the whole “I’m fully matured, just short” act. Foolish. All Jütena did was flutter her glittered eyelashes, which were fake, and move into a position so that the sight of her human form made my whole face break out in violet spots.

Ugh, if I had a time transport device, or the money to buy one, I would go back and punch myself. Then I wouldn’t have signed a voluntary subject slip, thinking that I was giving her my name and inter-number. But after that it’s all self-explanatory; I woke up with a massive hangover in a cell guarded by photon energy shields.

I’ll be brief in the description of the place. My cell was a neon green photon cube: unbreakable, impenetrable, and impermeable. The shield was only disengaged by the electronic armbands my guards wore. They stood on the four corners of my box, and past them I saw a whole room the size of a small space station, just filled with photon cages! And in them I could faintly see the eyes of millions of children, some barely even four years old.

This was the Specimen Hold, where all of us SINians watched, waited, and wondered about what was going to happen to us next. For me it was passionate rage when I saw Professor Kogo strut through the door, her thick black hair tied back into a loose bun and her almond-shaped eyes squinting through the dim light. Not thinking, I stepped straight into the photon barrier and got electrocuted.

Not fun, having yourself electrocuted. It’s like… I don’t know if you’ve ever got stunned with a stun gun, but it’s like that except it hurts instead of numbs. My knees buckled and I fell backwards, the ceiling of the hanger swirling in confusing spiral patterns. My legs couldn’t stop twitching and I think I soiled my kardic. I heard the muffled clacking of a pair of boots before a familiar voice echoed painfully against my eardrum.

Well, well, if it isn’t the fully-matured, short stack.”

My guards chuckled and I raised my head up high enough to catch a glimpse of Jütena exchanging a quick word with the tallest guard. He saluted her and she smiled, brushing her hand against the stubble of the young man’s beard before departing. Humans. I hated them right then. They are despicable and devious qiks that need to be flushed down a black hole.

For a full period or more I struggled between consciousness and unconsciousness before a loud alarm sounded and all of the photon shields dropped. I shook my head vigorously and found I had retained the use of my legs, so I stood up. My legs felt wet and I squirmed with disgust, stupid bowel movements! Children were streaming out of the Hold, flanked by guards. Was it an evacuation alarm? Was there something wrong?

Get going Civian!”

I yipped as one of my guards shocked me with his tazer gun and hurried to join the crowd. Through the electronic sliding doors there was a wide hallway with a low ceiling. Blue, red, and silver wires and piping ran along the walls like veins, probably feeding the many electric gadgets, including the sliding doors. In the hall the children’s voices echoed and I was remembered of the eating quadrangle of my Executive Life Training School. I felt a pang of longing for the familiarity of that place and those people, here I knew no one.

A pair of sliding doors parted and a woman’s voice, strangely familiar, announced, “Welcome to the Experimental Chamber.”

For those weak of heart and mind, skip this recollection. Along the walls of the room, which was about the size of a physical training room, lined pods upon pods of children. It was like the structure of a honeycomb, with each hexagonal pod filled with a child of random age. I spotted a young man in one, curled up and wearing something that covered his eyes. It sort of looked like a virtually reality device, except I highly doubted that the children in those pods were playing vizgames.

Test subject C-17’s heart rate is increasing,” voiced the computer main frame, “and the subject is showing signs of awakening.”

A reply came, “Administer the sleep toxin.”

In the pod housing the young man a robotic arm uncurled. In its three fingers rested a hypodermic needle and I watched as the robotic arm thrust the needle beneath the twitching man’s skin and the man became still again.

Subject C-17’s heart rate has returned to a comatose state.”

I was steered out of the room. My brain was whirling: What had I witnessed? What was this place? And above all, what was going to happen to me? My waxy skin gained a yellow tinge, nervousness and fear. In some ways I hated being a Civian, our emotions were so easily displayed through the pigments in our skin. When we are happy we take on a green color, when we are lustful it is purple, when angry, red, when we are afraid or nervous…yellow. And if you knew about the continuous spectrum of a Civian, then you could play with us like dolls. That’s what the Lumark did.

Hey Civian! Where do you think you’re going?”

I was jerked out of my thought process by a shock from my guard’s tazer gun. I hated those things. It turned out that the group had stopped and I had kept on walking. I swiveled around, followed by my guard, and rejoined the group as they stood in a completely white room filled with chairs. The chairs faced towards the walls of the room, radiating from the center out in circles of increasing size. We were instructed to sit in those chairs and if we didn’t comply right away, we got shocked again by those stupid tazers.

Once everyone was seated the lighting was disabled and we were pitched into darkness. You can imagine in a room full of children what an uproar that caused, but it didn’t last for long. In an instant the walls blinked on like a viz screen and we were watching the giant head of Jütena Kogo.

Congratulations Test Group 23, you have been selected to participate in the twenty-third series of experiments designed to test the abilities of living and thinking organisms functioning at a maximum brain efficiency. All of the groups before you were guinea pigs, just old news. You are the first individuals whom we will apply the Brain Cell Growth formula. If the procedure works all of you will be able to operate at your full potential. You will be the smartest beings in the universe!”

She had failed to mention the consequences when the procedure did not work. I wondered, if she was so confident about her team’s abilities, why she did not use the formula on herself. Wouldn’t she want to be the smartest one in the universe?

However, to receive the BCG formula you will have to be in tiptop shape and healthy. So first we have protein supplements that will help your muscles during the workout session we have scheduled for you.”

The right arm of my chair opened up, I can’t explain it in any other way, and there was a candy bar wrapped in microfoil. My stomach grumbled and I snatched the bar and ripped it open. My mouth started to water and I noticed that the people on either side of me were tearing just as ravenously into their protein supplements. Didn’t they get fed?

I took my first bite and my tongue became steel. The bar tasted like nobo! I bent over and spat it out in disgust. I was electrified, somewhat more violently than before, and my right shoulder temporarily went numb. I took it as a sign that I wasn’t allowed to spit the thing out. Swallowing the bile that wanted to travel to my mouth, I plugged my nose slits, shoved the bar in all at once, chewed vigorously, and swallowed. It dropped into my stomach like lead.

Now afterwards you will be escorted to the Physical Training Facility and put through a brisk series of exercises to get the blood flowing to your brain. Then your daily activity will be announced and you will have the rest of the day to complete it. Good luck Test Group 23.”

What kind of farewell was that? But we were given no time to speculate because we were herded out of the room into an adjacent hall, different from the one before. Unlike the one filled with wires this one had smooth, shiny plexiglass walls that suspended us in space above a giant factory. There was a giant capsule labeled “BCG Formula A1” and from that an assembly line of titansteel robots who filled empty orange bottles with blue liquid. The bottles then went into plain cardboard boxes for storage.

It seemed odd to me for a spiffy place like this they would store their precious formula in outdated cardboard boxes, which could get soggy or destroyed. It didn’t take much to penetrate cardboard, even an old fashioned pistol with an iron bullet could without a problem.

Further down the hall there was a set of double doors, which we walked through. Since I was taller than everyone I could see that the room was just one big, giant playground.

E’ret nobo era da!” Translated: You gotta be shitting me!

This was the exercise? The other kids were overjoyed that something about this hellhole lacked any stench of death and torture. But before they could play the guards administered white patches that stuck to their skin. I bet that they were wired with a program that kept a record on your vitals. From somewhere in the station there could be a giant room filled with viz screens projecting each child and their body temperature and metabolic functions. Who knows, they could even be watching us from some hidden vizcams.

I squirmed as the guard tried to stick me with some patches and got a tazer stuck up my dilla. As I was let loose I rubbed the aching spot and surveyed the playground, no way was I going to revert back to old innocent ways. I had not weathered twenty-eight cycles for nothing! But then, in human terms, they would have me pegged as sixteen. So instead of hopping around on the spongy twist of rainbows I sat down and stretched.

My back cracked. That was one thing that happened with invertebrates, they had noisy bones. As a Civian I had more brittle bones than most species and suffered from bone fractures if I pressed myself too hard. But taking vitamin pills helped a bit, or eating shutnuit, a dish prepared with calcium rich foods and gallons of vitdee sauce.

My stomach grumbled, if only I could have some shutnuit…

Hey!” I looked back at a Katak guard who towered over me, his bulk throwing me in his shadow, “You better start running Civian, do something. Or I’ll stick this tazer up your ass again.”

Ya gotta be kiddin’ me Joe, this is a baby park.”

As he stepped forward to administer his threat I jumped up and ran. But I didn’t run far, just to the other side of the room, behind some funky-shaped plasgel boxes. A little girl poked her head out of one and giggled, then she saw me and stared.

I scowled, trying to scare her away, but she just laughed and continued staring. She was humanoid, maybe even human herself, with long hair and a thin frame. As she climbed the boxes her light blue bodysuit morphed to fit her level of flexibility and dexterity. She was surprisingly talented. I sat down and watched her since I had nothing better to do.

Like many of the other children her age she had this excited flush to her cheeks. I wondered if anyone was aware of the horror of this place, didn’t they miss their families or friends? Maybe…just maybe their memories were altered and all of these children were playing because they had nothing else, no other purpose.

Suddenly the girl’s foot slipped and she cried out, falling towards the hard ground fast. Without hesitation I darted forwards to catch her, my thin arms almost breaking under her weight. She clung to me, crying. I took a deep breath and tried to set her down, but she wouldn’t let go of me. Somehow, she knew that I had saved her and that I was her friend.

Let go of the girl or I’ll shock you so hard you’ll vomit.”

I looked behind me to find another Katak guard standing there. Kataks aren’t known for their well-developed manners, more like their hard skin and muscles. This guard was no exception. His bill horns were sharpened and ready for assault, but I doubted he had any permission to use them…except in dire situations of course. Like all the other guards he wore an electrogen bodysuit with his tazer case strapped to his belt, but his tazer was out and charged.

I tried once more to pry the girl’s hands off me, but she was very strong, amazingly strong. She was staring fixatedly at the guard, her mouth shut tight and her eyes wide in fear. She knew! Somehow she got over the veil of illusions and remembered that she was a prisoner.

I would if I could!”

I stood up and the girl tightened her hold on me, her legs wrapped tight around my waist and her hands almost choking me. The guard screwed his face in a mixture of revulsion and puzzlement. He seemed to talk to the air, asking for instructions. Then with a stone face he approached me and switched his tazer to stun. My yell turned into an abrupt squeak before I dropped to the ground. I could hear the girl screaming, crying buckets, as the guard unhooked her and carried her away.

The numbness to my legs wore off after a few periods, but as I sat up I felt like something was watching me with intense interest. And I saw no sign of the girl or anyone. I was completely alone.

October 08, 2009

Final Boss

He was sitting on the futon couch, recluse, unmoving. With thick eyebrows and a jutting, angular chin, he was my male counterpart. Born to the same mother and father—except two years, ten months, and fifteen days after me—his tall, lanky body, with arms and legs like a grasshopper, was of the same genes, but completely different. Nature had stretched the miracle of gene distribution too far. When the sperm had lost its tail and fertilized the egg, it was carrying a math textbook and English dictionary, with an atom-sized puzzle book in case the trip from vaginal opening to mid-fallopian tube exhausted its reading material. Somehow, it transferred similar physical DNA, enough for people to know we were related. Nonetheless, the abstract behavioral genes got switched around somewhere, and eighteen years later, I was standing over him, plucked eyebrows and round face, trying to bridge our two worlds.

“So, how are your classes?” I said, watching him absorbed in TV with a Nintendo 64 controller in his hands.

It took a few seconds for him to respond, but at last he murmured, “Okay.”

Then he returned to his video game. I sighed inwardly and looked back where my mom once had been, through the open door and into the kitchen. The rosemary-chicken smell saturated the air, promising her eventual return. Spend time with your brother, she had said, glancing at me once before returning to chopping vegetables. Stop talking on the phone with Austin and bond with Jared. You haven't seen him in a year.

Easier said than done.

Taking another look at my brother, and receiving no further aid, I decided to sit down beside him and wait it out.

Mario is flying now. A little red overall plumber wearing a ridiculous raccoon hat and soaring over the two-dimensional landscape of walking mushrooms, vicious flowers, and enlarged pipes that lead to wonderful fantasy worlds with some evil afoot—but a clear way to defeat it and return safely—money floating in the sky, and ninety-nine lives.

If only life could be so easy.

“Mom said you were taking two English classes. And both of them are AP. How are you doing in those?”

Mario is swimming, having found a pipe that leads underwater. His plump belly protrudes out as his little arms flap to propel himself forward. Oh no, a Cheep-Cheep! The bulbous red fish, with lips like Nikki Cox after her lip infusion, swam straight for its prey. Without hesitation, Mario swims up to the top of the coral-framed screen and through another pipe in the ceiling.

My brother responded,

“Okay. It's not that hard. It just takes a lot of time.”

Wow, twelve words. I was impressed, and felt encouraged to continue.

“How about your other classes? Are you taking a math class?”

“Of course.” Now he looked at me, his spectacles square and black, “I always take math. I'm in Advanced Calculus now. But I'm planning on testing out of it, or skip Calculus Two and take college courses.”

He was a Sophomore in high school at the time.

Mario descends through the pipe and returns to the underwater world.


“Oh my Goooood!”

My words disintegrated into one, long wail. Da, da. Drip. The rainy Hawaiian night was thunder in my ears, and I cradled my forehead in agony, tears mixing with dirt and blood before staining the concrete driveway. Jared clutched a two-by-four in his small, seven-year-old hands, a pudgier, darker version of his older self. He stared at me in horror. Clap, clap, clap. Shick! My mom rushed to the rescue.

“What the hell is going on here?”

It was the first time I remember hearing Mom swear. At least to us. She took the plank away from Jared, my hands away from my face, and inspected me with her sharp green eyes. To the bathroom, she said, and I stumbled inside, still holding my forehead in my hands and wincing as I felt a bulge develop under my fingertips. I washed off my face in the small bathroom we owned. I could hear her shouting at Jared, telling him to go to the room and not come out. He passed me on his way to the room. He had to. All we had in our side of the duplex was a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen-dining room-living room, and a small laundry room. The bedroom was across from the bathroom. I glared at him, staring at him through the mirror with one hand cupped over my left eye, like the vicious pirate Captain Morgan, and demanding an apology with my other eye. But he didn't say anything, he just opened the door slowly, resigned to his fate.
When Mom came in, it became a little cramped, but we kept the door open so she wouldn't squash me.

“Now, this will hurt.” she said.

“What will—ah!”

She dabbed some hydrogen peroxide on it. It hurt. A lot. Taking the rag away, I saw a deformed me with a lopsided face. One brow was larger than the other. One eyebrow was cut in half by a jagged wound that cut into my upper eyelid.

“Wash your face again.” She sighed with the aches of a single mom, “Then you can watch TV, if you want.”

I rushed over to the TV, but instead of watching TV I hooked up the Nintendo 64 and played the next level of Mischief Makers. Marina, a robotic maid trying to save her master from his evil twin brother, jumped up and bobbed in the wind with the force of her jet pack. She was the kick-ass alien savior, traversing awesome worlds and reaching the final boss—a giant blob-king of the Empire. The levels and gems were very Mario-like, but she was female, and without an annoying brother following her around everywhere.

Mario is climbing clouds. Vines magically suspend themselves, supporting crawling Bob-oms and Mario's fat beer gut. The black, turtle creatures that explode on contact climb up and down on the vines, sometimes switching direction abruptly. Mario jumps to another vine, stuck between two Bob-oms on either side. The Bob-omb on his vine turns about face and climbs swiftly down towards him.


We sat at one end of a long, rectangular table, leaving over half of the seats empty. Other children were on either side of us and across from us, offspring of parents also getting divorces that day. The room was large, stuffy, and brown—a conferencing room made out of thick, dark wood and leather chairs. I don't remember much, since I was only nine then, but there were no more than ten and no less than four people in the room. Guiding the discussion was a woman, I assume a child psychologist, who's appointed duty was to comfort all of us soon-to-be-torn children. To my knowledge, my brother and I were the only siblings there.

The woman handed out sandwiches to everyone, cut diagonally into triangles. The choices were peanut butter and jelly, tuna, ham, or turkey. You could have white or wheat bread. I remember biting into a delicious Wonder Bread tuna sandwich. Jared chose peanut butter and jelly. The lady explained divorce, saying the reason Mom and Dad were getting separated was because they didn't like each other anymore. It didn't mean we wouldn't be able to see Mom or Dad again, they just wouldn't be living together. She answered all our questions afterwards. They were childish questions, and me and my brother never asked anything. A lot of the other kids were confused and scared like me.

“Why would Daddy leave?”

“Why can't they just get along?”

How could my whole life be turned upside-down in the three hours it took to present the case and sign the divorce papers? What will happen now? Why did God let this happen?

The lady tried to answer, but how can you explain adult logic to a nine-year-old child and her six-year-old brother? We knew only happiness in Mom's lullabies and assurance in Dad's helping hand. The woman who ran out of the shower naked to put out the pizza box Jared had set on fire when he was three. The man who brought back thick, giant cardboard rolls from his construction job for us to play in, rolling around the backyard and getting dizzy until we felt sick. Sitting down at Christmas and smelling rosemary-chicken while Dad kindled a flame in our fireplace with sheets of newspaper. Of course, Jared was too young for some of these memories, but I hadn't forgotten. I knew Mom and Dad. Not just Mom...not just Dad.

After the one-time counseling session, Mom was there. Everyone was not right, not themselves. Worn out and tired, I noted, for the first time, the washed out blond color of Mom's hair. The gray hairs. They cut into her face and stole her smile from us. Her voice was breathy, upended by an undercurrent of sighs. My brother wasn't speaking, and he wouldn't for a long time, except to yell and scream before throwing things and hitting me in the head with a plank. His words, though not many, had been frozen. What we could have been, with love and understanding, was now impossible to achieve. In the three hours we had been chomping down on sandwiches and talking, we had lost the future we could have had.

My stomach growled. The sandwiches had been small and unsatisfying.

“Get in the car.” Sigh.

I didn't want to say anything. I didn't know what to say. So I got into the passenger seat of Mom's old Firebird, my brother crawling up behind me. We buckled our seatbelts in unison and Mom slammed her door shut, igniting the engine and interrupting the silence with Vrooom, Vrooooom! The declaration of a monster before it devoured our lives.

At level two, Mario is placed in a hot, sweltering desert world, the sun scowling, “Thou shalt not pass.” Fireballs are tossed at him periodically. He needs to time his movements just right... A fireball catches him from behind, searing the hairs off his head. In the final seconds of life, his body manages to leap into the air, then fall past the ground and off-screen with a little dismayed 8-bit Nintendo jingle.


“We're going to get married.”

I looked at my brother, he looked at me simultaneously.


“It would be nice if you two would be at the wedding.”

Luckily, she was alone, so Jared didn't have an urge to hit something. If Phil had been there, an argument definitely would ensue, something would get broken, and the neighbors sharing our wall would flip the volume on their TV up a few notches to drown out the noise. I would join in too. This was insane! I thought, hundreds of miles and half an ocean away from Hawaii, plopped down on the outskirts of San Fransisco in our townhouse upgrade of a home.

“You've only been together for a year...” I said, half-whispered.

“Almost two, I'll have you know.”

She was getting mad, her voice curt and biting. In a second she looked away, organized something, and then looked back. Sigh.

“Look. I haven't been with anyone since your dad left.”

Jared was silent. I was silent.

“It's been five years now.” She continued, talking to me more so than Jared. I was fourteen. I was the eldest. Apparently, she thought I would understand better.

I didn't.

My age worked against her. The house we lived in had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and separated kitchen and living room. My room was across from Mom's, and Jared's was down the hall. It was me who heard the adult panting and gasping late in the night, furiously trying to muffle the sounds with two pillows, one for each ear. Banging against my ribcage, my heart would be seething in rage. I gnashed my teeth and glared at the door, as if the wood was transparent and I could see them. Every fiber in my being was shouting, “Bite him! Stab him! Kill him!” As the squeaks of the bed accelerated and the cries became more bold, I heard names. If only I hadn't. There was no doubt now, no denial, no faking it. Not anymore.

“I don't want to.” Jared spoke.

Mom stared at him. I stared at him. He gazed back. Arms crossed, rod-straight. Only in middle school, he was already displaying a fierce stubbornness, uniting us against a common enemy.

When Phil had told him to wash the dishes one time, he had said no. Phil got angry and shouted at him, causing Jared to careen into a tantrum. His fist moved before his brain. I wasn't there, I was in my room, but as I was typing on my computer I heard a high-pitched scream I never want to hear again. My mom made it there before me. Rounding the corner, I heard another scream, choked behind sobs and struggling grunts to get free. I saw Phil clutching Jared around the neck, as if he wanted to choke him. My mom was shouting at them, me, anyone, telling the world to stop and right itself after being screwed up for years. Shocked, helpless, my brain had shut down. Only my eyes worked, burning the scene forever into my memory.

“Now, honey.” She reached a hand out to him, but he stood up.

“No! He can't...”

My brother threw his hands up in plea and then down in aggravation. Tears now filmed his eyes and he turned away, retreating to his room and slamming the door.

Mom was tired again, slumping down in defeat. I wanted to hug her and say I did understand, but on this I had to side with Jared. It was too soon. Phil, a large man with red skin when he got angry, and thick arms and legs, was too different than anything we had known. Bipolar and aloof, he was the last person to add to a trio consisting of a single mom, a violent son, and a depressed daughter. He was still alien, still a cold shadow lurking at the edges of our lives. Mom may have loved him then, but my eyes couldn't see it. I didn't believe it. Howls and thumps in the night couldn't possibly be true love.

Maybe Mom is just imagining things...

Mario completes the level, jumping up five stairs to fling himself at castle's flagpole. After grabbing the flag and sliding down from the pole, he holds the red triangular flag up victoriously. Then he disappears into the castle and little colorful fireworks congratulate him.


“Whose damn dishes are in the sink?”

Jared and I looked at each other and shrugged in unison. We went back to playing Mario Kart.

“God dammit,” the TV was turned off and we stared up into the red face of our new step-dad, “Listen to me when I am talking to you. Whose bowls are in the sink?”

Jared and I had eaten macaroni and cheese after school, but we had jumped into Mario Kart before we could finish cleaning up. Without answering, we got up and cleaned them. I sighed audibly. We lived in Michigan now, the place Phil had grown up and wanted to live. I was already seventeen and fully able to make my own decisions. I hadn't wanted to move, but declined my grandmother's offer to stay with her in California because my mom and brother would be going. I couldn't just leave them. However, after two grueling years in another school where I was once again the “new kid,” I was getting tired of being yelled at for minor things like dishes and laundry. When I am in college, I thought, my room will be a mess and my laundry will be stinky, and no one will be able to yell at me about it. That thought alone fueled my will to survive.

Once done putting the bowls in the dishwasher, Jared turned the TV back on and we continued playing. My character was Yoshi, a green lizard-looking thing that was Mario's pet, and Jared was Mario. Even though he was younger than me, he always came out as first and I was always second. I never complained or said it was unfair. When I did get first place, it was a pleasant surprise, but my brother would soon continue his winning streak. If we played versus I would win sometimes, but not as much as him. In cooperative play, which was introduce in Mario Kart Double Dash for the Gamecube, he would steer and I would be the ammo. We always won this way.

As we aged more, I went off to college, and Jared bought games from his own pocket, savings from birthdays and Christmases. Our Grandma from California got a Nintendo Wii for us, and my brother coveted it alongside the Nintendo 64, Playstation, Playstation 2, and Gamecube. I never really got to play it that much. I wasn't allowed to take it to college because Mom was certain it would be stolen or damaged. I only got to play it when I came back home during school breaks, sitting down on the fold-out futon couch with my brother beside me. Mario Kart, Mischief Makers, Yoshi's Story, Star Fox, Super Mario 64, Super Smash Bros., Mario Party, Zelda, Final Fantasy, Dance Dance Revolution, Tales of Symphonia, Harvest Moon, Wii: Sports... The list goes on and on, grows, and I became less familiar with the newer games, ones my brother bought after I was got into college. I got rusty, and I won less and less. Soon I never got first place in any game, losing patience sometimes and retreating upstairs to talk on my cell phone.

Most of the time, when I got home late at night, I was exhausted after driving for three hours. Only one light would be on, and I found my brother plopped down on the futon and playing something. I would awkwardly try to make conversation, and he would reply curtly and frankly. Unsatisfied, I would walk up to what was once my old room and deposit my suitcases. The room was not blue anymore. It was purple with white lace and a queen bed much larger than the ratty thing I had slept on. The lamps were intricate and lit to your touch. I would sit on the bed, too soft and fluffy to support my aching back, and look around. Alone. Then I would get enough courage to venture out and try again.

Sitting down beside him, I watched as Mario met Bowser, the final boss. With spikes on his shell and a rocker-red hair style, Bowser was the bully in elementary school who pushed you down and laughed at you while you bled from the knee. Of course Mario would win. He would fly and jump and manipulate his surroundings to pound Bowser into submission and rescue Princess Peach. Until he won, Jared didn't say anything. Eyes glued, fingers tapping, pounding, turning, and shaking.

Eventually, he would remember I was his sister. Eventually, he would remember I was the same person who had sat with him at the table long ago, eating sandwiches and hearing other kids ask why their parents couldn't be together anymore. The person he had hit in the head with a plank, the girl he had stood next to during Mom's boring wedding ceremony in Grandma's backyard, the friend united against Dr. Pain-phil, the relative who had gone off to college and spoke with him through the other end of the phone, asking too many questions to answer, only to return home and ask more. Now, the sister sitting beside him. Not talking, just waiting. Then he would sit back and say,

“Wanna play?”