December 03, 2010

Seeds

Seeds by Kimani Nakamura

it's an image-poem, and too big to fit here, so click on the link:
Seeds

Here's the text:


I have many sturdy, unbreakable roots
poet author person/woman lover hater giver child
adult one big blight on humanity, my mom
used to joke about. Ive been called
geek freak loser asshole slob
Asian Hawaiian Indian
whatthehell? But
sometimes
American
one trunk
STRONG
holding in
my pain
my furious
ANGER
softly whispers
Mother's
lessons
in my ear
Sways to
Blood's
coercing
breeze
gazing one way
I see possibility stretching upward
reaching higher farther past my eye
love hate passion reasoning desires
who I am what I want to be BE what I can-I can't
??? me? no I am only a single seed
falling swiftly sure not far from "Tree"
seed is all I am all I want--can be
but dazzled I reach I have to
BELIEVE that somewhere anywhere
that seed will grow strong and branch out
one sprout with many roots like this tree
Can a seed do that and still be a seed?
And will the other seeds die, sacrificed?
Is that all I can do? Pick and choose--
'til there is only one seed left, and the rest are...
how can "free" mean always leaving what you cannot have?
To be one seed out of all seeds, next is gone, only now.
No more seeds, no more new life, just this path only
Longer than love but as small and insignificant as a seed
No. One person can be many seeds, so many things, and live
One seed, two seeds, three seeds, four seeds, five seeds, six seeds
I will, I can create new seeds, yes!
And they will grow and blossom into many possibilities
And I will give them away to those without anything, no seeds
I will resurrect dead seeds, kick life back into their shells. Then, perhaps a
single seed will mean something, the seed everyone searches for
A seed that can grow into many branches, not an ordinary seed-seed
but the seed of a strong trunk, the seed
with many roots that cling hard to
the soil and never break, never fail
a seed with many seedlings, softly whispering,
"Wow! So many seeds, so many lives!
I wonder if they're all mine."
To which I will say, "Yes. Seeds
belong to everyone, no one
seed is left alone. Seeds
are precious." And
that seed would smile,
nestle into the dirt,
and grow big like
a tree, with many
seedseed
seeds

October 12, 2010

Propaganda

I.


Believe this to be self-evident:

This ink is blue.

Believe this to be universal law:

Everything written is true.


This ink is blue,

not black, purple, red, or green.

Since everything written is true,

this is and shall be.


Not black, purple, red, or green?

But it's black, I say!

This is and shall be,

who are you to tell me otherwise?


“But it's black, I say” he says—

not thinkin' very clearly in the head!

I'll tell you otherwise, though,

it's because I'm God, written and so.


Not thinking clearly?

Now that's just bigotry!

Because you're God, written and so--”

PSSH! You and whose army?


Now that's just insolence!

To the cell with you and yours

My army and me, HAH!

Believe this to be true:

Tears fall silent in a crematory.


II.


In the cell with mine and ours,

sketching dreams for hours and hours—

In a jail of nightly horrors,

There is only one voice I hear.


Sketching dreams for hours and hours

in shapes of family, life, and lines,

There is only one voice I hear,

“This ink is blue.”


In the shapes of Family, Life, and Lines,

my hand descends, serpentine:

“This ink is blue,” and

“This ink is blue” shines.


My hand descends again!

“This ink is blue, it must be true”

"This ink is blue” shines,

While “it must be true” darkens red.


This ink is blue, it must be true

No such horror have I ever seen!

While “it must be true” darkens red,

This ink is blue is blue is blue.


No such horror have I ever seen!

Freed, I could clearly say to Him

“This ink is blue is blue is BLUE!”

And believe this to be true:

He smiled, and his teeth were blue.

August 23, 2010

Things

The ticket was a ripped, instant internet deal for twenty-percent off one entree from Chinatown with the purchase of another for equal or lesser value. Lying in the parking lot of a backwater Chinese Restaurant with the yellow roof peeling, it was bent in three places, covered with cigarette ash, and completely unusable. Because Chinatown has closed, torn down to be the lot for a new clothing store: Rickmann's Menwear Outlet.

"Too bad." Mr. Michael DeVry, a regular for ten years now said, "I know all good things come to an end, but Chinatown was already in business for 35 years when I was in college. I never would have thought ten years later, it would close."

35 years of cheap fried rice, inflation, booming and crumbling economy, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, and American workers, The Honeymooner that featured the city's only noodle basket, and Health Department battles. In an instant gone.

The owner had been a Taiwan native, coming from a family of seven children. As the middle child he felt compelled to do something great like his older brother, Taiwan's #1 genius at the Abacus. Slick-backed jet black hair and business suit, he sold vacuums to start. He progressed to get his master's in mathematics and married a woman he knew from his friend's friend. They went to a mutual friend's wedding together. Had two kids, they left, and he began shuffling around, cooking lo mein, and making orders to other more successful Chinese restaurants.

He always loved to watch the international news, though, until the day he died--the day Chinatown was no more.


A pink Casio point-and-shoot camera lay discarded in a dumpster. It was raining, but the camera didn't turn on anyway. With a few bumps and bruises, it could be sold back for thirty bucks, if it worked. However, no one really cared on this busy Tokyo street. Occasionally, a punk kid or curious college student would see if it worked, but they would throw it back in.

The memory card was still intact, though. It was the storage of almost a hundred photos of Osaka, Tokyo, the Imperial Palace walls and garden, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, even Akihabara. Over fifty of these photos featured a big-boned college student smiling and posing with a peace-sign gesture. She wore glasses for half of the pictures, and contacts for the others. She was tall, taller than all of the Japanese around her, except one person, a guy. She wore jeans in one picture, a skirt in some, but always leaning towards the conservative side.

"In Japan, girls don't wear, what is it?" The girl's Japanese professor had said in Sophomore year, "The skinny sturap and tight--Yeah! Tan...tanku top?"

So, she had not packed anything sleeveless or tight. Not that she had much. A tomboy and an oddball, Kimani Nakamura was going to Japan to find her roots, learn Japanese, and experience the world. Born and raised in America, all she knew most of her life was Americanized food, American culture, and American techniques. She realized after graduating high school, that college was great, but the world was even better. In college, she didn't feel like she was in the real world, living life to the fullest. She felt like she was in purgatory, going through grueling soul-redeeming tasks to get into heaven. When she graduated, the first thing she did was go to Japan.

The pink camera had been hers since Junior year of college, the camera she had bought for her Study Abroad trip to Japan. It didn't work because she accidentally dropped it from the balcony of her bedroom and it landed in a sewer drain below. She had thought the memory card was destroyed.

That's the way she was, though, air-headed and wasteful.


"Here, have this." The blond man said, handing the homeless guy a hotdog, "I don't like hotdogs very much anyway."

Piled with onions, pickles, diced tomatoes, and mustard, the homeless guy felt his stomach grumble. Thanks. He whispered. The hotdog was the holy grail, the epitome of American hospitality. One hotdog was a dollar, or now with inflation $1.35. Any man, even homeless, could scrap enough money for a hotdog. Fully processed with the remains of all the meat that can't be sold at the butchers goes into the hotdog, so it was like a delicacy or sorts. To the homeless guy, Roberto Romero, anyway.

Roberto stared at the glob of condiments for a few seconds, feeling his mouth water. Dressed in a dirty white tank, brown belt, and khaki shorts, the cold Boston fall gave him goosebumps. Hairy arms and legs, he had traveled all the way from Michigan--hiking, hitch-hiking, "borrowing" cars from stupid owners who left the keys in the ignition at a busy gas station. He had been young then, twenty-something, he wasn't sure. But now he was around forty-something, and bad nutrition and lack of hygienic facilities made him look much older. Like his father, who was still alive, retired in Mexico. That's why he had come to Boston. Roberto kept forgetting and remembering again. He had come to find his father's old restaurant. But he didn't know the name. He could only ask each Mexican restaurant owner if they had ever known a Rico Romero before. Unfortunately, there were a lot of Mexican restaurants... And a lot of Rico's.

What he wouldn't give to be back at work in Michigan, working for a Chinese place.


The belated Alex Lin's wife, Alice Lin, kept records of every worker in her restaurant. The file cabinet half-hidden behind the office door, which was covered completely with receipts and business cards, contained every tax form, every social security copy, legal ID, pay stub, and schedule sheet or every person who was paid something. Romero had been a cook thirty years ago, Ben a delivery driver fifteen after graduating from college, Kimani was a hostess twenty years ago, and Alex was dead. Chinatown died with him.

Now, all that remains are the Things.

May 17, 2010

Secrets

Everyone hides something. Like now, I am hiding from you, and you from me, behind the LCD screen of our internet personas. We each carry a sin, a scar, an imperfection that we fear will destroy our humanity if it is released into this messed up world. It prevents us from trusting one another completely and builds itself a nest in our hearts that would otherwise be free to love unconditionally. But who loves unconditionally nowadays?

The problem is fear. Everyone in this world is afraid of something, and consequently defends him- or herself against the marauders that never come, or an ever watchful All-knowing eye that will know your every move even before you make it. Religion plays off fear, gambling, ironically, plays off the fear of working for the rest of your life and debt at the same time. Even school plays off the fear that without a structured form of education, everyone in the world would be stupid. Mainly because humans are "lazy" by nature. However, in a world that no one is afraid, this would not be necessary, and people would not have to hide anymore.

I am a twenty-year-old college student who has the tendency to over-dramatize my life, and make it out worse than it actually is. My parents divorced when I was nine, and I never had a really strong connection with my biological father ever since. Even though I love my younger brother to pieces now, we used to fight all the time, and I would beat him up because I was always the bigger one. In reality, I don't think of myself as a woman, but a person with thoughts and feelings separate from my body. However, to compensate for this, I have a very humiliating weakness for sexual pleasure, and watch porn every once-in-a-while to relieve my anxiety.

I believe this has roots in my unwavering curiosity since I was very young. Even when I was ten, I was always wondering about what I did not know. That is why, in a tent, I played a game of truth or dare that perhaps turned my innocent childhood on its head, and introduced me to my own sexuality. I showed myself to them in a dare, and they made fun of me because I was flat-chested (although I'm now bloated to a DD, thank you irony). Almost immediately the three guys in the tent started to get antsy, and I had a choice. Either loose my virginity and quench my undying curiosity, or fight. Luckily, I fought that time.

However, when I was thirteen, it was a much more disappointing battle. It was the first time I watched pornography, and I could not help but be intrigued. It was a way out without risking my body, and I made a dash for it. I lost myself in fantasy and overwhelming emotion, the emotion I thought was good, but just as the fire first warms the body before it burns, the healing only lasted to an extent.

For three consecutive years after that I was an Atheist, because I thought God should have punished me by now. Before then I was really religious, but never really went to church. However, apparently God neither cared nor saw what I did, so I continued to destroy myself to see how far it would go.

Then, I started to hear a voice. I felt like he was a separate consciousness from my own, my Guardian Angel, talking me out of my self-destruction. All I know now is that he was my first real friend who understood me. Instead of just seeing my outside, he saw my tainted inside too, and forgave me for it. He even loved me despite it, and this is what friendship really is. This is what humans should really be like.

However, he was in my head, and there came a time when he disappeared through my own growing doubt, and the fact that I did not need him anymore. By that time, I was willing to believe in things like Love and God again. The sad thing is, is that I am still struggling to this day for senseless mistakes I made when I was ten. I have never really found where I belong in this crazy topsy-turvy world, and my guilt is something hidden where no one else can find it. My heart is spotted, and I unnaturally distrust people, unless it's a special case.

The special case has always been with people who trust me first. People who accept me for me, and love me despite this dark past. These people, who can forgive others, are the saviors of mankind.

Unfortunately, the world comprises of very few, and they are dying out every day. People would rather hide themselves because that's the easiest way out, it prevents them from really facing the world head on, with their heart on their sleeves. And what if they come across a person who would exploit them? They imagine the consequences and become afraid.

I am a lazy person who dislikes organized religion and organized school, who rebels sometimes to feed my own curiosity, sometimes because I have an undying sense of justice. I am a sexual deviant who has constantly been dangerously open-minded about politics, sex, philosophy, and religion. I am different, and strange, neither a woman nor transgender-confused, and I like to be different to the point that I can be cliche.

Some people would call me sinful, others would be at least surprised or embarrassed to hear such a confession. However, the important focus should be psychologically. I am a writer. The most important words I will ever utter will not be from my mouth, which gets distorted by society's interpretation, but from my hand. By confessing this way there leaves a greater psychological influence on my mind, like the sealing of a contract with blood instead of a signature, and also on you.

There is a disastrous shortage of people who can forgive and accept others without lies or masks, and a measly few who would risk their secrets out in the open. I have made the first move. Now, what is yours?

April 30, 2010

Something About You

There's something about you. Your gaze neither falters nor stares, neither belittles nor gratifies, glows nor dims, traces nor examines. In short, your eyes are the perfect balance. A hazel blue, contrasting against my cool brown, you are ignorant of everyone other than yourself or others like you. The world you live in is perfectly balanced, like your eyes. Your hair partless, mine parted to the side, dark-short-thick, wild and untameable--yours highlighted-long-straight and lovely. Your parents are here tonight, mine are two hours away, and my heart aches for them to be here.

Walking in front of me, you smile because you're life is exactly what it should be, I smile because I don't know what else to do. Like a caged animal, I bare my teeth, but my eyes stare down at the steps, making sure I step with conviction, holding the railing for support. I am out of my element, you skim through the crowd, buoyant upon the praise and adoration. Everyone claps for everyone, everyone is content with themselves.

And what am I? I ask myself this question every day. What is my purpose in this world of smiles, endless applause, and unstaring faces? God has lain a curse on my soul, Frankenstein reborn to take another walk around the world until I die, I suppose. If being content in happiness is my sacrifice, what is my reward?

I reach the podium as you sit down to watch. Taking my evidence and looking at my Benefactor straight in the eyes, I gripped my miracle tight in my hand, which shook from disbelief. I had, for a second, entered your world and saw with a brief ray of hope, what it felt like to be free from the curse. To try your best and never back down, to think only of the positives and never the negatives, to be one in many, and many in one, not just one alone. Because everyone was clapping for me, and I heard someone call my name with congratulations. And perhaps if my parents were there I would have cried, but they weren't.

I retreated to the back, and collapsed against the wall with a sigh. You might have forgotten who I am already, but I have never forgotten you. Every time your name is mentioned, I feel a mixture of desire-jealousy-sadness that threatens to overwhelm me, but each time I choose to continue to hide that part of my self away. That which will transform me into you.

Why? Well, perhaps once you realize I am still here, have been here, will be here forever (for how can I easily drift away?), we can work something out between us--be the person we once were.

Something about you seems to laugh when I cry, jump when I fall, succeed when I fail, pull when I push, sing when I scream out, at the top of my lungs--WHERE ARE YOU?

Frankenstein reborn, I am in constant searching for that something that cannot be found in earthseaskyheaven, only by the inner light of some undetermined event far in the future. In short, I am searching for you.

April 20, 2010

Dear Dad

I cried tonight, after I talked to you on the phone. In person I would say, "don't worry, I'm fine," but I know I'm anything but. You only know half of my life, and make up the rest, not giving me a chance to prove myself. In your eyes I am a selfish stranger, a whining kid who doesn't know respect and gratitude. I was...ten years ago--five years ago. However, you don't know me now.

You always laugh awkwardly, like you don't know what to say to me. I am your daughter. I will always be your daughter. We can talk about anything. I wanted to talk about my job, school, homework, Jared, visiting you, and laugh without constraint or nervous pauses. However, when I talk to you there seems to be a wall, that no matter how happy I am, you always seem busy and distant. Three hours and two thousand miles may separate us physically, but the only thing that keeps me from loving you is you.

Mom has told me stories about you before the divorce. Even though she could say very degrading things about you, she hasn't, only that you tend to be childish and irresponsible. However, the only person who can be my Dad is you, I call you 'Dad' and no one else. I hear how you used to sleep by my crib when I was a sick colic baby. I've seen the pictures of us reading magazines together before I ever could really read. As a child I remember you coming home from your construction job and letting me and Jared play with some tube-shaped cardboard reinforcement, rolling around the backyard and getting dizzy. Even though you were always fuzzy in my memory because you worked every day, you created a place in my heart that will never be replaced.

I am crying as I write this letter you'll probably never get.

Mom raised me to be strong and not cry in public. She has learned, through trial and error, how to respond to my many moods and tantrums, picking up on the signs. As I grow, she grows too, more knowledgeable on how to deal with me. That is the bond between a parent and their child. Instead of seeing me as a spoiled brat, try to correct it by teaching me. You never really took time to teach me anything, Dad. You always criticized and laughed. You never really took me seriously.

I love you, and I'll love you until I die. But it hurts. Our phone conversations happen almost once every year, and last three minutes. What am I to you? How do you see me? Do you know my dreams, opinions (because I'm very opinionated), or philosophies? When you hear my voice, older and wiser by a year, aren't you curious about what has happened up until then? Do you wonder as many things about me as I do about you? Or am I just a nuisance?

Remember last Christmas? I said you didn't have to buy me presents not only because of your money problems, but because you have never really given me the one present I've always wanted since eleven years ago, when you disappeared out of my life. Your love. I love you Dad. Please don't let me go so easily next time.

Your Daughter Forever,

Kimani

March 18, 2010

Remembering Iz


Thirteen years ago my hero died. However, I did not know because he became my hero three years later. Walking down the sidewalk in the Californian summer, I was crying to the tune of "N Dis Life." It was the song played at his funeral, while the Hawaiian flag was lowered to half-mast, telling a tale of pure love.

"Let the world stop turning,
Let the sun stop burning,
Let them tell me love's not worth going through,
If it all falls apart, I will know deep in my heart,
The only dream that mattered had come true--
In this life I was loved by you..."

In California, I was a misplaced Hawaiian, thrust into the chaotic Mainland worries. Homework seemed pointless, cliques were aggravating, and everyone worried about outside appearances instead of being happy with themselves. They bottled their genuine feelings and hid them from the world. I was sick of it--with Iz I felt free to cry. Some people say he was larger than life, playing off his extreme obesity problems, but to me it was the truth. Even though his songs are criticized for being cliche, Life is cliche. When you love someone, you say "I love you." When you hate someone, you yell "I hate you!" Just because many people have said it before, does not make it less special or meaningful. A single voice whispering "I love you" with intense honestly is worth more than a million people rushing to get married before taking this thing Love seriously.

Iz taught me to love. And the reason a young girl was walking to Karate class, listening to her CD player, and crying in the middle of a school-free summer time is because the one person who taught her the true meaning of love had died. And she had learned three years after.

"I'm sorry!" I sputtered into my pillow, the night before, "I didn't know! Why did you have to die?" I only had one CD of his and I played it through the night, until I fell asleep and accidentally kicked the CD player off the bed.

Since then, I have never really had a hero quite like him. I do not know much about him or his life, but the connection between his voice and my soul has never faded. The sun shines in my life because of him, the snow glistens like white sand. To me, no matter where I am, I can remember his pure voice and the message he left the world, not with a physical voice but a spiritual one. It is embedded in Hawaiian culture--Nature, love, and faith. Love Nature, love thyself, love thy neighbor, and have faith. The only non-politician given a funeral at the Capitol building, Iz was larger than life, and his songs were more than just cliche words. They rung true in a world full of lies, and even a little girl knew to cherish something like that.

It is Spring thirteen years later, and I still remember Iz Kamakawiwo'ole. May you be laughing and singing up in Heaven, Iz.

March 04, 2010

Joy and Dejection Ode

There was a time, long ago
when the moon was full and the lustrous
lull of Heaven smiled down
upon me.

La luna of my dreams,
thinking back now to the nights
far gone from my memory...
She followed me through life
always fulfilling the promise to be there
unlike so many before her.
Then, on nights I could not find her
a round shadow was my comfort,
in the sky shining bright with her loving care.
No friend greater than she
I ever had--

Joy! 'til the last air we breath
is fogged with unruly hate.
Be it man or woman, there seems to be no relief
from this ache.
My friend, where are you?
I cannot see you in the sky!
Only your shadow is left to guide me, on
This night
I feel like anything is possible
and anything reality.

On the tender limbs of branches
glistens the frost of March.
Melting against the warmth of the sun, it
listens and uplifts this song:
"Lo! Tho I melt away, sunbeams are my death--
the joyous spring gives to all except for the lonely frost.
From my pain, life is birthed and animals live again.
So nice felt this day, yet some mean army heth
taken its next victim."
And the tears it leaves lie in puddles
too small for a footprint in the grass.

But, from death comes life, or so they say.
And the rainy days will freeze into Winter,
And Winter into rain!

I remember!

There was a night, long ago,
when outside my window I saw La Luna
smiling between the darts of rain.
And I joined her, my friend,
in eternal dance.
Outside, in small footsteps
I danced in the rain.

February 27, 2010

War and Terrorism

I. Origins

When in the course of human events it become necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another...

In this cold Michigan winter, it is much more easy and convenient to only care about the everyday things in life—having enough money, working, going to college, taking care of your family—that most people seem to push the broader United States picture into the foreground of their minds. Even if the curious intellectual should probe into the present historical times, he or she would be faced with terrorism, famine, a growing gap between rich and poor, and an overall pessimistic view of America's prospects.

College students have a unique opportunity. Even though we may come from poor backgrounds or farms, we are given the opportunity to learn about current times and hopefully acquire the weapons necessary to fight should our national integrity be threatened.

Estimates from the Census Current Population Survey November Supplement suggest that the voter turnout rate among young people in 2008 was one of highest recorded.

A bell in my head rings. I pick up what remains of my backpack and head out the door in a thick winter coat. It is dry and cold in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The morning cuts into my skin with the claws of an unrelenting force, and yet the sun is rising like every other spring day. Cars, truck, and buses pass by my house on Fuller Avenue as I wait to cross the street.

My life is the life of my mother before me. Like her, I agreed to going to college without any real plan in mind. Of course, I get a little more financial aid than she did, and she is much more supportive of me than her parents (my grandparents) were of her. However, standing on the sidewalk waiting for the cars to pass, and feeling the gnawing of a breakfast uneaten is something my mom remembers quite well.

At the beginning, every college student is poor.

Even if you come from a rich family that can pay for your college tuition, there is more to being poor than just monetary wealth. For the first eighteen years or so, the average American lives off their parents' income. In consequence, after so many years of being dependent, many college students remain in this mindset if they immediately transition to college without any “real life” experience.

Arriving to my Economics class after slipping and sliding in worn leather shoes, my face has been washed awake by the winter onslaught of my morning trek. I am one of the rare Juniors in a general education class of mostly Freshmen and Sophomores. I take off my coat and backpack, open my backpack, take out my notebook and pencil, and sit down.

II. Education

We are often said to be the foundation of the future—the young and bright, the knowledgeable elite that will be the law makers and providers of the next generation. Our professors, parents, and, to some extent, present policy makers have invested in this theory. Until recently, even federal support has been fair and logical.

That is, until I found through my own predicament that the world does not follow the perfect world that the FAFSA seems to outline.

In order to be independent, you must:
- Be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year
- Be an orphan (both parents deceased), ward of the court, or was a ward of the court until age 18
- Be a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States
- Be a graduate or professional student
- Be a married individual
- Have legal dependents other than a spouse
- Be a student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of other unusual circumstances

When students who work to pay tuition and books, stacking up $30,000 in loans by the time they graduate, as long as their parents income exceeds the poverty line, defined by the government, a student cannot be considered independent unless he or she fits these criteria.

The Economics textbook, Wealth and Democracy, I am borrowing from the library. While opening it up and browsing the pages, the professor of the class talks about traveling abroad and learning from Europe the ways of better economy. He plays a video. I learn that the U.S., in relation to other world leaders, spends the most in military might while having a poor health care system. Seven hundred trillion dollars ($700,000,000,000) were spent on the war in Iraq while citizens in the European Union get free or low-cost health care. If their child is sick, the nearby hospital will treat him or her free of charge. I am astonished. I had known that America was not the most efficient country, but to the extent of being poor at everything except war... Then, I take my eyes off the movie and find half the class glossy-eyed or sleeping. (Yes, one guy was sleeping)

III. Government

Through ignorance and fear, the government has been leading America in the footsteps of the British empire before it. Think back to your history classes. When Britain was a world empire, it spent most of its wealth of expansion and colonization, i.e. war. The gap between rich and poor grew exponentially due to overseas trading and pirating. However, that empire collapsed due to the expenditure of resources and the weakening of colonial bonds.

I, nor my family, nor any of my friends' families, have ever been attacked by Muslims or the Taliban. Though tragic, the deaths from the bombing of the World Trade Centers numbers three thousand. 3,000 of the 300,000,000 U.S. citizens were killed that day. Yet—due to the escalating economic problem as a result of stretched resources, war expenses, and federal debt—15,000,000 citizens remain unemployed.

When I return home after classes, I am exhausted but thinking. Later that night, I get a call from my mom, who wants to know what's been going on in my life. I tell her. The car isn't working for some strange reason, and I found that the registration expired in last June. I have only rice and Ramen in the pantry. I need a job as well as volunteer hours to keep my school scholarship. I need to apply to study abroad and get letters of recommendation. But, I told her about how I learned in Economics class that the U.S. was in bad shape, and that we should do something about it.

“That's all good to a point.” My mom said, echoing motherly word of wisdom, “But, right now you should be focusing on yourself and what you want to do. When you have established a good foundation, then you can worry about the world.”


Right now, our jobs are sent to China, our wars are fought in the Middle East, and our clothes are made in Taiwan. Terrorists want to destroy the U.S. from the inside, my professor said to a class too young to understand what that means. A class too blunted by protected lives. A class too ambitious to stop and take a look around. I believe, he said, the U.S. doesn't know what war really means.

Quiz

1. What should America's future government decisions address and ultimately solve?
(Please support your thesis with examples from history)

February 20, 2010

Conversation with a Campus Safety Officer

"I forgot to tell her," I said to the Campus Safety officer as he approached out of the dark parking lot, "My homework is in my locker."

"Where?"

"On the third floor of AB." I pointed, but it wasn't necessary because the building was right behind us.

The officer was an older black man with a lazy eye that made me want to avert my own eyes while I talked to him, saying half of my replies while starring up at the sky or to the left. During our walk to the elevator, he asked me how I was doing. I told him I had been working the entire day, and I was tired. It had been a crazy day, four hundred extra people had come for the Spectrum Scholarship Competition, and as a cafeteria worker I had to feed all those people. On top of that, two people didn't show up for the night shift later that day. So, at the end of the day, already tired people who had been working all day, myself included, had to clean up the mess.

"Well, now you can relax."

I laughed bitterly and said, "Not really, I work all day tomorrow."

In the elevator he asked me what I did for fun. I said I read books. On the way to my locker he asked me if I did anything with my housemates, and I said I played Guitar Hero with them occasionally, about once every two weeks. While I was getting my books out of my locker, he asked if I needed help, but I declined the offer, hoisting the books under my right elbow and slamming the locker shut, locking it with a twist of my wrist.

"I mean, I used to be shy in college, way way back." The guy said, driving me to my house, a mile from campus, "But, if my housemates offered to go to the movies, or play video games, I would."

He seemed bent on seeing if I was like that, but I had to disappoint him. I told him I was one of those people who could have fun by themselves. What he didn't know was what I was telling myself.

Of course, I have more fun when I am with my friends.

However, I didn't tell him that. I did tell him that all my friends either live out-of-state or are going to different colleges across the state. I told them they all graduated or transferred. Right now, I just didn't have anybody to hang out with. Oh well, sometimes life's that way...

He dropped me off at my house, and I said thanks, "have a great night!" I shut the van door. The house was dark, and I didn't have my keys. I tried the front door, knocked a couple times, and then went around to the side door. It slid open. I kicked the snow off my shoes as I entered and closed and locked the sliding glass door. No one was home on a Saturday night.

I sighed. Back to homework, back to forcing words out of my brain and onto a page of paper, back to the grinding stone--back again. Here in my room, my refuge and my prison, a constant struggle of independence in a social vision.

My feet ache as I take off my shoes, but I change out the cat litter, pour water for the cats, and clean up the dirty clothes that are scattered around my room before I sit on my bed. I am tired, frustrated, and alone.

February 12, 2010

American Blues (song)

Yes--it's a song! Not only am I attempting at poetry, I am also inspired to write lyrics to a tune that popped into my head, called "American Blues." I love my Economics class, I dedicate this song to Professor Robertson, who has achieved what all great professors by getting his class to think outside the box.


American Blues

Walking down the street, feeling like you can't breathe--
and now the world collides.
Knowing now the darkness might never go away,
transforming somehow alive.

The sweet ol' American Blues!
Help! Help!
with my tainted American Blues
Help! Help!
can't shake the American Blues
Help! Help!
bought from the power to choose...

You sit there in your room, life draining awa-ay
"Fuck class," you say, "it's just another day," paying rent on minimum wa-age.

What's the point to learn?
When others seem to earn without single thought in their minds
What's the point to school?
When others seem to think that their beyond the rules.

Damn you American Blues!
Help! Help!
$30,000 American Blues
Help! Help!
Education down the tubes
Help! Help!
we all have the right to lose...

You sit there at your job, pour more coffee-eee,
"Why I am I still here?" Been working for years-yet Boss doesn't see-ee

What's the point to work?
When others are jerks while getting better wages
What's the point to money?
When businesses are all acting funny--I think

Corrupted American Blues
Help! Help!
Runnin' the race for few,
Help! Help!
How can those lies be true?
Help! Help!
sometimes I think it's all for You...

For You...

Saw a girl on the street,
staring at the concrete,
feeling like she can't breathe...

Now.


And it's been recorded, YES! Don't get too excited, I sung it and I don't have a very good singing voice. But it sounds like the way it should. I'll see if I can upload it. It has a fan in it...I don't like being video taped...Sorry! But enjoy my ceiling!



video

February 04, 2010

The American Question

If I saw Bill Gates on the bus, I would ask him where he's been--if he ever thought, years ago, how rich he would be if he invested in Microsoft after quitting college. For sixteen years he has been America's richest man, and, consequently, the Gates family is America's wealthiest family. The man after him, Warren Buffet, is the science geek turned billionaire noted for saying "be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful." The man after him, Lawrence Ellison, dropped out of college and is currently the founder of Oracle, the database giant. Then, the woman after him is shining Christy Walton, along with the Walton family, making billions off of the millions of poor Walmart shoppers and sucking the life out of small businesses.

All four of these people are self-made billionaires, taking opportunity and soaring to new heights. Three of the four are noted for charity contributions in Forbes magazine of the top wealthy individuals.

And yet, "a shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population - the highest percentage in the developed world" (The Observer, "37 million poor hidden in the land of the plenty," by Paul Harris).

Why?

Despite government efforts--or perhaps because of the lack--charities, and the possibility of becoming "self-made," America has the widest gap between rich and poor when compared to all of the developed nations like Britain, New Zealand, the European Union, and Canada (yes, Canada, can't make fun of them anymore, can we?).

I am a product of a middle-class family, and against my better nature I have taken pride in that. My family, in my own lifetime, has swerved down and then back up, going below the poverty line when I was eight and then, mainly due to my mother's resourcefulness, clawed its way back up by the time I was in high school. Right now, because I am in college, I do not have any individual assets besides a $10,000/year income, junk car, and college education. However, I consider myself still middle-class. I pay rent, go to school and pay for it, and live a relatively independent life (my mom does help with car insurance from time to time, I admit). On top of that the cost of education has stacked itself past the $30,000 mark, and I am worried about paying it back in thirty years (by the time I graduate I will have accrued around $40,000--divide that by 36 months equals $1111/month... I will be graduating with a B.A. in English).

The destruction of the middle class affects people like me, my friends, their parents, and relatives. My aunt lost her house in California because of the mortgage crash, and, ironically, my grandmother, who is the boss of a small mortgage firm, took another cruise last Christmas. It seems to me that those within the middle class are grabbing at the nearest bar and heaving themselves up into the rich, or being squashed into the multitude of the poor, and college students like me are playing Guitar Hero downstairs in their run-down living room with beer bottles strewn everywhere.

The American question becomes:
Do we care enough to change it?

The middle-class and poor person gets assaulted with advertisements of quick money now, hooked into high-interest loans with a promise of great returns in profit, they look up but never ahead, and end up tripping on the poverty line. Meanwhile, shrewd, often greedy, business people grab at the bar and pull. They donate to charity so the lower class will not rebel, but charities are some of the most consistent and profitable businesses in the world. Think about it, they get money in donations, and in turn help people enough to make progress while paying people at the same time. William Blake, a famous British Romantic poet, said that the time when human charity becomes capitalized is the beginning of the end.

How far does charity stretch if it cannot prevent the dissolution of the middle class or the growing economic crisis? If the systems in place in the past--charity as well as government--have had any real effect, the logical conclusion would be that today should be a brighter future, right?

I digress and say that not all charity is bad, the Haiti community and Hurricane Katrine relief would back me up on this. However, as a whole it does not benefit the "trailer trash" children running around naked and barefooted. Or the homeless guy who rode on the bus with me to Walmart one year ago, wearing duck-tapped shoes and praising Obama's election. It does not help the millions of college graduates find jobs, or a man working at Kalahari Resort in Ohio move out of his parents house and become a geologist like he wanted to. Or help a writer change the world.

In reality, this blog is unread and virtually faceless in the multitude to online blogs by emo-stricken teenagers, entrepreneurial business people jumping on the Internet bandwagon. In reality, the Cedar Point workers in Ohio, who are usually people who can't get jobs up in Michigan, are ignored. In reality, millions of children below age 18 are given half-hashed education, the students often complaining about peer-pressure, boring classes, and educational repression of individual thought.

In reality, when I entered high school, it was the beginning of the greatest and worst parts of my life. I became aware of how much I could learn, but the reverse was the knowledge I could not know everything no matter how hard I tried. I could learn 'til I die, then where would that leave me? Probably rotting in a grave, if I or my family could afford it. I realized how teachers did not care sometimes, or the worse and often more prevalent disease--students did not care anymore.

Education leads to jobs, leads to economy, leads to national success and values. Whether from families or schools, there is nothing more important than the education of children. Morals, math, English, science, healthy social interaction, and living healthy and logically is very important, and the lack of education in each field has led to the problems of the government. And everyone tends to ignore it and push it aside (along with lowering the pay for teachers and professors).

Children are not being taught proper morals or healthy social interaction. Many complain about how boring school is, or, perhaps simultaneously, how easy the classes are. Now, personally, I am not a fan of long homework assignments based purely on the observation that most long homework assignments teaches me something that I could have learned in an individual hour project, the length of the longer mainly from the effort it takes to cite al the "proper" sources.

It does not take a genius to figure out the discrepancies of the educational system and the corresponding behavior of the economic and political nation. People do not care anymore. Not about education, not about politics, not about saving money. I correct myself--children care about playing rather than doing homework, teenagers care about personal relationships rather than personal responsibility, young adults care about alcohol, cigarettes, and video games rather than using their knowledge to improve the world, and adults just want to shake their heads and go with the flow, because many of them are working their asses off without time to think about changing anything.

The only people who have time, and are knowledgeable enough to contribute change, are young adults, usually college students, and rich aristocrats. It has been so since the boom of the industrial era, where the farmers had to migrate to urban areas and fuel the economy, it will be so until the working poor and middle-class are finally given a break. When that will be, no one knows. To make it happen there certainly has to be change.

So, now the American question becomes:
Do you care enough to change it?


May God give me the tools to enact Thy will in this life, for there is no other I can see or change.

February 02, 2010

And Still, be Still

One morning I was climbing true,
the ground ashining bright with dew,
and came upon a haughty sign, foretelling--
"Warning: Drop Ahead."

As I was sure ahead was wise,
that turning back would blind my eyes,
to the prospects of the end, heeding
not the warning sign.

The mountain steeped past all prediction,
and beat the snares of my conviction,
'til at the summit I stopped, fearing
air beneath my feet.

And still, be still,
staring down fatal cavity deep,
cold wind biting so I should weep, holding
fear and thrill at the end.

And still, be still,
lest phantom hand should push me over,
or the kiss of greeny lover, swaying
my feet to take a step.

And still, be still,
signs foretold ill,
repulse the thrill--
should we die or
descend the hill?

January 07, 2010

Best Friend

There is no greater pain than regret,

mainly because it consumes one's soul and burrows deep inside, deeper and deeper, until it cannot be plucked out.

Some people tell themselves they deserve it, that their past sins have made them into this unfeeling monster for a reason. Perhaps... It was meant to be this way.

Others don't see it so deterministically. It was a past action that caused psychological damage so severe that, against their better judgment, haunted them and cursed them. They try to free themselves by looking on the positive, and it works for a while. Like a regular citizen they smile, buy groceries, even laugh and sing. However, when the darkness comes and they realize that they are once gain with themselves, they can't help but see that monster in the mirror, staring back at them with unrelenting eyes.

***

The lamplight is giving me a headache, I'm going to shut it off now... Why am I doing this again? Oh yeah, for my blog. I've planned to write about manga, and I'm falling being. I always fall behind. Regret. Okay. I'll read it.

This person reminds me of Lily. And me. Mint chocolate ice cream in hot chocolate, I would always give her a cup. I smiled so awkwardly back then. I was really nervous, like a true freshman. I really did care about her. It wasn't romantic love... Though sometimes it got a little out of control and I would think about the 'what if'... But... for the most part I only wanted to have a best friend. Finally.

After traveling so long and far, after not really seeing people, only seeing through them, I saw her. I talked to her, and she had loved talking to me. I grew absorbed into our relationship, ignoring the negative signs. The fights. Her warning me we were too close for being just friends. Too close... Is there such a thing? Is it wrong to have a best friend? Maybe... I don't deserve to have a best friend.... ever.

The tears were hot on my cheek, burning my eyes. It was familiar, an itch in my eyes that always dimmed next to the painful jump of the heart. Like the heart wanted to throw itself out of the body, suffocating in the cold room air. But, my rib cage prevented. The cage every person is forced to sing and dance in. The cage of mortality.

"Maybe in the next world it will be better." I tell my boyfriend, and he keeps telling me that's a crappy way to look at the world.

More than anything... I am sorry. I am sorry for being this weak and making him worry. I'm sorry for saying that I wanted to break off our friendship. I'm sorry for not being the best I can possibly be. To waste the potential in my body and contemplate throwing it all away. I'm even sorry for not having the courage to do that. Across the road, not up the river, they say.

***

I used to hear voices in my head, but it was never malignant. They didn't tell me to kill people or hurt myself, if anything, they kept me from being bored and made fun of stupid people to my childish amusement. They were like the commentators of my life. They sometimes called me stupid if I slept in too late, or risked temptation by reading a raunchy book or going online to look up porn. It was because of these voices that I became aware of my conscience. I decided to stop my childish temptations.

But, I never could stop biting my nails. My mom told me I would get gang green, and I even did one time, but I cut it off before it grew big enough to pose a threat. But, behind her back, or sometimes even right after she had scolded me, I would bite again.

Beyond all reason, I didn't care. I needed to consume myself, I needed that pain. To remind myself I'm still alive, to remind myself I'm still human, for whatever reason, I did it. Sometimes, it was as simple as being hungry.

Then, I began biting the insides of my cheek.

Over the next years, I couldn't stop being nervous, biting always. My lips, my cheeks, my nails, til my cheeks were hashed, my nails were stubs, and my lips were cracked. Even then, I bore the pain and kept biting. Like a dog refusing to stop eating, I got bloated on my own flesh.

I began to think I was the only one with this pain.

Then, either I went crazy, or I found a Guardian Angel. Talking in a soothing male voice, he saved me from myself, and taught me to love myself for who I was. He knew I was conceited, and smiled. He knew I was selfish, and held my hand. He would talk to me and be my friend, a better friend than any real flesh and body person ever was. He was my first best friend, my only best friend. And the sad part is...

He was only in my head.

***

Only I can understand me, I kept saying to everyone. Why should I trust anyone? They can't see this disease in my soul, growing, consuming me, they can't help because they don't know what it's like. It's a viscous denial that many people drop into. Because I couldn't believe anyone understood, I never thought anyone could help. I fought with harsh words and even blows to keep people from trying to help me. I yelled at the top of my lungs for people to leave me alone and cry.

The thing is, some people didn't stop.

My mom. My boyfriend. The two closest people I've let into my heart. They didn't give up.

Eventually. It happens this way. The person hurting either commits suicide, or wakes up and starts listening.

It happened once before, through a Guardian Angel, but this time God was in a different form. Not in my mind. Real. I had to learn how to be happy again. Smile. Laugh. Without getting sad and thinking on the bad side. Step. Step. One step forward. Two steps back. Three steps forward. Until, I can feel it, I am a different, lighter person.


I can't wait til that time comes...






January 06, 2010

Ending-Beginning

"Please, this dingy won't save us from an eight-point earthquake."

"Yes, I know that. Still doesn't change what I want to do. We've got to save everything--ourselves."

"Some things you can't stop. In comparison to the universe, Humans are small, weak creatures. We've always have been and always will be."

"Shut up already and help me!"

Sigh. "Only because you are my friend, not because I think this will do anything."

Pause. Frantic breathing. Grunts. Thuds.

"There. What time is it?"

"11:10."

"Okay... Almost. Close the door. Bolt it. The third one too. Okay, checking everything and...what are the seconds?"

"50...51...52...53..."

"O-okay. Stand back from the door, quickly! I hope ten feet below ground is enough, maybe we should have--"

"58...59..."

Beep-beebeep-beep-beebeep-beep-beebeep...Slam!

Pause.

"Now are you satisfied? The world has ended."

Grace sighed again and walked over to the bunker door. She had just graduated from college eight months ago, and had a nice teaching job in the local middle school. A tall, curvy half-Asian, she had a no-nonsense attitude when it came to living life, and being afraid of the world ending was one of them. Her attire said it all--a worn T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers with the heels almost falling off. Not even a coat or a poncho in case an 80-foot tsunami should crash into their bunker and send a surge of water into the room. She unlocked the door with her well-manicured nails and looked up into the clear Michigan winter.

"Don't!" Too late. Micky shied away from the light like a vampire and, for a moment, thought about shoving Grace out and locking the door.

But, the time had passed.

"Maybe it was supposed to be 11:11 in California." Grace scoffed and walked up the stone stairs and into the sunlight.

100 packages of Ramen, 100 cans of assorted vegetables, 100 cans of tuna in water, 288 bottles of water, a can opener, three ponchos, a GPS, two switch blades, a shotgun, 100 rounds of ammunition, 30 feet of rope, a rechargable electric lantern, two weeks of clothes, three pairs of hiking shoes, two rechargable flashlights, and a radio. Micky had filled the bunker half-full of shit, and for what?

He felt congested in this space, and followed Grace outside, slowly. He was a few inches taller than Grace, but skinnier. In his eyes, he wasn't a wimp, but he wasn't really a muscle man either. He could bench press 120 lbs. and carry his little sister of nine years around on his back. However, when it came to things like the world ending, he could squawk around like the best of them. Decidedly White, even though he really was full German, Michael Burkberat couldn't help but feel a little cheated.

Inside his mom's house, Helena teased him while "Spongebob Squarepants" skipped to a commercial.

"Hey bro, back so soon? Or..." Helena's bright blue eyes opened wide in mock horror, "Are we in Hell already? Wow, I didn't know they had Spongebob in Hell."

"Shut up Helena!"

But the child was already sticking her tongue out at a Princess Barbie commercial, lost in her short attention span.

"Bested by a nine-year-old, Micky just give it a rest." Grace opened up a can of 7-up and took a few gulps, walking over to the couch and taking up the remote, "And no need to watch this crap."

"Hey!"

Channel 31...30...29...

"Oh Micky, back so soon!"

Micky's mom, Margie, had worn herself gray between Michael's paranoia and Helena's childish antics. Already retired from her doctor job, she had hoped to enjoy the rest of her days taking care of her children and making sure that they always had a home to return to in case things were bad. In Micky's case, he never left, which she thought was her fault. Like mothers before her, she had refused to kick her twenty-four-year-old son out of the house.

She walked into the kitchen to make some ham sandwiches for Helena and Grace.

"The same Grace?"

"Yes please."

Channel 10...9...8...

"Wait!" Micky shouted, the adrenaline kick starting his nervous system, allowing him to dart forward faster than he intended, knocking his knee on the edge of the couch. "Ow! Wait! Turn to Channel 8 again!"

Micky didn't wait and took the remote.

"It's just the news, there's always something bad on..." Bur Grace shut up once the anchorwoman's horror struck voice pierced the room.

"Not like anything before. A...a uh... The resulting landslide has destroyed residential areas 30 miles in radius of Mt. Rainier, the northern face completely... Another bulletin. An 80-foot tsunami is heading towards the east coast, and will strike around 8pm tonight. Residents have nine hours to evacuate. I guess..." The middle-aged woman halted in disbelief, "2012 is true..."

The TV was turned off.

"Hey!"

Grace glared at him and threw the remote over to Helena, who almost didn't catch it in time.

"Enough. Just because the Earth is catching up with us, everyone needs to panic. I feel sorry for the people in Washington, I really do, but all the other states are fine, and the other countries are fine. It's just America having these problems. Everyone's scared that the world will come to an end because an ancient calendar ended. So they panic, making every disaster that happens today apart of the 2012 phenomenon.

"Every day people in third world countries are killed for the sake of religion, politics, and resources. Every day children die of disease because no one wants to give them already available immunizations. Today, our country is in trouble, and we cry about it like it's never happened anywhere else. Like people haven't suffered in other time in history. It's all bull shit."

Grace took a sandwich from Marg, saying thank you, and walked away. Marg smiled and nodded. Helena turned the TV back onto Spongebob, and Micky slumped down into the couch behind her.

"Oh no, Patrick! Watch out! It's okay Spongebob, I know what to do--oh, hey Spongebob, what does D-A-N-G-E-R mean? Huh? AAAAAAH!"