Each Night I think I melt, absorbed and assimilated into the fibers of my sheets. Then sail away, like captain and ship, into the land of dreams. Where I run, and sing, and mostly cry. And when the morning comes, must tear my self from that warm embrace, painfully form my body anew, and face the Day..
I sometimes look at my fur sister and wonder what she would be like if she were human. She would be slight of build, but taller than me. (It isn’t hard for anyone to be taller than me.) She would have long, wavy copper coloured hair. It would be blond on some areas, and deep red in others. She would have long copper coloured eye lashes, with dark makeup around the rims, like mine. She would be a head turner. She is. Everyone always commenting on how beautiful she is, and how wonderful her smile is.
She would be incredibly lazy. She would sleep in late, until dad comes up and smacks mom on the butt and says, “time to get up.” Depending on the day, she will either walk down the stairs one by one, or she’ll run down, full of life. But every evening, she’ll be back asleep, on the couch with her feet up once the tv comes on. And she’d go up to bed before everyone else.
She would love her treats, just like me. A little pastry with her coffee. Dessert after dinner. A cookie here or there. And if she looks hard enough at you, she might get lucky and you’ll share some of yours with her.
Despite her laziness, I think she’d probably be a sports player. Soccer, because dad is English. That, or line dancing… due to some weird obsession she has with dad’s foot every time his leg is crossed. (Although, Nanny also had a weird thing with his foot every time his leg was crossed too. Strange…) She also loves to chase a ball though. She’s not really great at catching, so, maybe soccer is a good fit.
Generally, she would just love everything about being outside. Making snow angels in the Winter, swimming at the beach in the Summer, laying in the grass on a nice day.
And somehow, despite being so full of life, she would also be incredibly full of love. Her excitement every time family comes to visit would be overflowing. She wouldn’t be the sort of girl who gets weird when someone gives her a hug or says they love her. That is just the sort of thing that makes her the happiest.
It’s 9:00PM but I’m taking her for a walk. It’s the last walk she’ll take for a while, so we take our time. I let her sniff every stick and leaf. At this time, it’s not quite full dark, but the sun is past the horizon. It is quiet, save for my lone foot falls, her sniffing, and the wind through the trees. The trees reach up, way up to the sky, and drift back and forth in the wind. They don’t sing, or clap, just sort of hushhhh, as if telling the world to quiet now. A gentle shushing, soft, like calm waves brushing the sand.
It is quiet here, but the streets are labyrinthine. Twisting, and curving, and connecting, and ending. I let her decide the path though. She knows where she is going. I see a man. He is walking his own dog, some small yappy thing that doesn’t take time to acknowledge any sticks or leaves. His face is buried in his phone. He ironically, barks at his dog to behave as we pass each other.
There is a moment when I hear a rustle. More than a leaf blowing in the wind. I look over and through the trees I see a deer. We are both quiet as we notice each other. It reminds me of the scene in Stand by Me, when Gordie sits alone as the sun comes up. A deer pops out through the trees and they have a moment as they watch each other. I honestly still don’t know the significance of that scene, but that is what this moment feels like. A human and a deer, having a moment in the dim light of day.
I see the same man with his small yappy dog approaching. His face is still buried in his phone. They pass.
When I was younger, every May we would drive way, way out, out to the end of the road. So far I would always fall asleep before we got there. And then we would hike even further than the cars could go, to reach a place at the end of the world. Ocean, and beach, and trees, and fields. We would camp there, in rustic cabins. No sound of traffic, or pollution. I remember, in the morning, the sound of crows, as we rose with the morning sun.
There is that man again. For the third time he approaches my direction, and I am beginning to think he is buried so deep in his phone he has no idea where he is going, or this is a clone and I am in some sort of strange alternate universe. I side eye him as he passes. He and dog randomly turn and descend into the trees down some dark, dubious trail.
It begins to get darker. The only light, garden lights, and lights in the windows of homes, kitchens and living rooms as people settle into the night. I can smell the trees. It is quiet and I know I could easily vanish. I hear the theme from the Pink Panther drift out from my pocket. Another irony, having just finished an episode of a crime mystery, solved by an awkward and unusual individual. It is mother, she is afraid I have vanished. We are close though. Fur sister grabs her leash and begins taking herself down the street. Mother walks to the end of the driveway, barely visible, but Fur sister knows. She runs the rest of the way home, always the most exciting reunion, as though it has been years, and not simply some 30 minutes.
Per the usual, woke up this morning, found myself spooning my precious cat, and for an instant was unsure of where I was. Then I heard my dad downstairs. I could hear the hum of the microwave as he warmed milk, and the weird brrrr of the coffee machine as it sputtered out coffee. A few minutes later I hear him slowly padding up the stairs, a few of them creaking as he passed. I hear him enter my room and the soft thump as he sets a mug of hot coffee on my nightstand. Without opening my eyes, I say thank you.
This is the morning here. Coffee, sometimes jumping into bed with mom and having my feet washed by my fur sister, getting dressed, then driving into town for more coffee.
Its Saturday, and though not huge, we decide to check out the Saturday Market. A total of one street block, two foot traffic lanes wide. The town has dropped precautions and full faces are displayed proudly. Those choosing to maintain safety still sport their cute and personalized masks, …hanging just below their noses. Walking the streets like times before is surreal, but it would seem that after a year of being mandated to keep six feet apart people no longer seem to remember personal space politeness.
Pops and I decide to walk back home from town. A 5 mile trek through streets and trees. Normally nothing to sweat about, other than the million degree blazing sun. Wrong foot attire strikes with a vengeance once the commitment has been made. Dad says that we can call mom to pick us up at any time. I raise the Korean Fighting fist and say, “no! Rose Garden right?” (In reference to the time I powered through a leisurely, horrible walk, in which I threw my hip out, to make it to the damned Rose Gardens. …and then, of course, I had to walk back home…) By the time we make it home I am pretty sure my feet are going to explode from massive blisterization.
I take a shower, and then crawl in for a nap. I think its the first nap I have unapologetically taken in months. Not burdened by guilt that I could be spending my time more productively.
I close my eyes and I see her. She’s so crystal clear, I almost reach out to touch her.
I dream that she is as elaborate a storyteller as I am. So when people ask, I might say I get it from her. And when that first book gets accepted I can dedicate it to her.
I dream that she is beautiful. Not the immediately obvious beauty. The sort of beauty that shines through to the right sort of people. And graceful. And people would gasp when she walks by. I know that that isn’t a gene I inherited, but it is what I dream for her.
I dream that she has long, full locks of black hair, and is the sort of woman who might do anything she pleases with it. And if she ever saw me she’d say, “you have my hair,” with a smile, and I might learn to love it yet.
I dream she has long, beautiful, delicate fingers, and anything she touches, with a little work, turns to gold. And perhaps her favorite things to do are make music, and write stories. Bedtime stories for the family I hope she has.
And though I know I am the product of an affair, I would not hate her. I am old enough yet to know the power of love. Its blinding intoxication. Because I know in the end she loves me still.
And I dream that when she first saw me she brushed a lock of hair behind her ears, and reached to me with those beautiful hands, and as she told me stories, I gazed back at that beautiful face and saw someone I’d see each time I closed my eyes and dreamed.
I guess we both knew this day would come. There was no point in trying to stop it. And now I look around this huge house that you built 30 years ago for us, and I can’t help feeling alone. I admit that 62 years together is a long time and well… well I’m disappointed to see that this is where it ends.
What am I going to do with that old raggedy chair you always sat in? You would never let me throw it away or fix it. And now it’s just sitting there in the middle of the room with no one to sit in it… and you know it doesn’t even match anything!
And I never got to tell you, but that cup you always drank your Sunday coffee in… Well, I accidentally dropped it while washing it a few days ago. I guess I would have told you sooner or later… Tomorrow is Sunday after all.
Who am I going to watch movies with? I mean… I know you never really liked sitting with me for that long and staring at a television screen. You always fell asleep before the beginning credits were over. I suppose when I really think about it, I was watching the movies alone anyway… But you were with me at least.
Eheh… From here I can hear that leaky faucet. It’s been leaking for two years now. I suppose you won’t be fixing it like you said you would. I remember when I couldn’t stand to hear the sound of water dripping into the sink. You promised me you would “fix it tomorrow” for two years. And frankly, you and I both know I don’t know how to fix things. I don’t even know what a philip’s head is, or whatever it’s called is.
Believe it or not, but I haven’t even thought of how I am going to tell our kids. You were always the one to think of things to say. They adored you too. What should I do? Should I just call them up and tell them? Should I call them up and make conversation and then just… slip it to them? Oh, I just can’t think without you here!
There are so many things I know I should have said before you left, but then I guess there always are. You and I shared a long journey together and now I must start one of my own. It’s going to be pretty hard getting used to this old house alone. Maybe I’ll have the kids come visit me more often. I’d really like that… Just look at this picture of us… Those were the days when we were young, but we can’t go back. If I could just say one thing though… it’d be that… I’m really going to miss you.
It took me a little longer to find this letter. Like 16 years, but I finally did. I successfully graduated high school. I even graduated college, thought it was a struggle. Advice: Don’t do what people expect you to do. Failing will only slow you down. And here’s the truth, I miss the ocean every day.
I’ll describe myself because I still don’t keep a diary. Right now, my addictions are Beer, Icecream, and Pie. Especially Beer Floats, and Pie Milkshakes. I loved dyeing my hair this deep burgundy colour, and wearing dark purple contacts. But when I turned 34, I stopped. I still listen to Metallica, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Stones. On and on. I still have all those jackets, cuz I stopped growing a long time ago. And I still don’t wear them. I wear a lot of converse, and leather ankle boots. I stopped painting my nails years ago. Now it’s glue ons. Still liking guys, but have had enough heartbreak that I have now been comfortably single for near half a decade.
Kendra and I are still friends, but our souls have since travelled different roads. She is now engaged and has bought a house. I bounce from apartment to apartment with my two cats, and yes, two tortoises. You probably never really thought you’d have tortoises. They’re pretty great though.
Since graduating from high school life has been tough. I was finally diagnosed with depression and graduating from college became a struggle. But I currently work in a psych unit, and you were right; even though life seems bad, there are people whose lives are worse.
At age 30, I had a midlife crisis. I know, “30” isn’t midlife, but it happened. Everything got confusing, and I became extremely emotionally troubled, and I lost sight of who I am. I don’t know if I got over it, but I do think I have become who I am meant to be. I am unapologetically Me. And through all the struggles, you will get here. You never give up. It took until now to realize, but: Love your parents, they have given you everything and more. Love the boys you are with, because all the heartbreak will build you up stronger. And believe in yourself, because you are smart, and thoughtful, and caring. You are incredible without having to announce it to the world. Try not to let others make you feel like less. Because people will do that. They will try to bring you down to feel better about themselves.
Keep watching Korean Dramas, they become huge.
Keep writing, even when it feels hard, because it is how you relate to the world.
And keep being curious, funny to say, but you actually do like learning.
And yes, my handwriting has gotten worse. I continue to write with pen and paper because believe it or not, but phones have become smart. They do everything. And Robots have taken over the world.
Where does one begin when writing to their future self? Right now it is 2005 and I will be graduating in a matter of weeks. At this moment I actually feel good about it. I am ready to move on. I’m sure though, that you felt sadness only a few years ago. I hope that now you only miss the ocean.
Next I suppose, I should describe myself to paint a picture of how much you’ve changed, because I know how you refuse to keep a diary anymore. Right now my addictions are gum and chapstick. I’m going through a phase of dying my hair red and letting it fade to blonde… I listen to a lot of old and metal music. Metallica, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Stones. On and on. I still have a strange jacket obsession, yet never wear them. I wear jeans and as of this year actually started wearing sneakers instead of my boots all the time. My nails are the base of my creativity. Um… still liking guys and making friends with girls who steal those guys.
Speaking of friends, Kendra and I are soul sisters. We are how many miles away from each other and still are running down parallel paths. At the moment we’re both Samurai. (I hope she isn’t still going out with Uriah.) What else?
Well, I suppose I could say that this year really made me realize something important. That even though your life may be bad, to the point where you think you’re at your very lowest, there are always people whose lives are worse. Hopefully someday more people will come to realize that by the time you read this again.
I can’t really think of what else I might need to tell myself.
“It’s only a game,” “There are plenty of other fish in the sea,” “All you need is love,” “Don’t strive for conformity,” “110% is more than enough,” “They can’t tell,” “Guys really don’t understand,” and “It’s all a matter of opinion and theirs doesn’t count.”
I guess this is all really just common sense and I can only assume that that grows with age. I should hope. And I should hope that by then you have fully realized that all the Asians you see have paid a lot of money to look the way they do. So just remember, you look great and will only get better looking for about 20 more years! And remember also that your heart does effect what you see. That guy whom you love to look at… you may not, given enough time. It only takes one little action to change the way you see someone. Someone who makes you feel bad about yourself isn’t someone you want to be with. And as I said before, I can really only hope that you have already come to realize this.
Here’s one, I have a problem with (now) so my advice is remember this one well, – No One is worth compromising your identity for. Your identity is the base of your existence and without that then who are you? Be yourself and don’t be afraid of that.
I feel as though I am talking too much about things to remember. Really, I wrote this to account for how much I have changed in 4 years.
Ah wis sittin wi Sick Boy in his flat. Ah fix a nice yin in the sights ay Sick Boy’s old .22 air rifle oot in the park. VPLs. Visible Pany Lines in sight. Oh yes. Ah wis looking fir the VLPs. Sick Boy wis lookin fir the dugs. He hated dugs fir some reason. Ah’m no exactly sure what it is that Sick Boy hates so much about dugs cept their shitein all over the park.
– Ye have entered the scopes, ma little pretty. Ah mutter, – Visible Panty Lines in view. Oh yes. Brilliant. Ah wis enjoyin masel when Sick Boy snatched the rifle from ma hands nearly takin ma nose wi it.
– Get tae fuck! Ye cunt! Ah rubbed ma nose as ah jumped up from the windae sill.
– Quick! Get doon! He pulled me back doon. – Ah see yin. It’s a bloody brilliant yin. Ah kin just see it all now. He allowed a moment of silence while he invisioned the kill. – Oh man. Ah think ah bucked that chicky he’s wi. Oh yes. Very nice…
– What?! Ah snatched the rifle from his hands. Ah scoped oot the chicky he’s talkin aboot. Her back is tae us. Ah’m sure Sick Boy has bucked her though. He’s bucked half the continent. Then she turns tae us n ah see her face. It’s wee Janet. Sick Boy dinnae buck her. Ah did!
Ah remember it too. She wis a good yin. She wis the only yin to walk oot on me. It wis probably because ay ma red hair. Ah eywis ken that red heid ay mine wis a curse.
– What do ye think ay black hair fer us? Ah asked Sick Boy whae wis tryin tae see her n the dug withoot his rifle scope.
– Ah think ye’ll look like a fuckin buftie. Have ye gone radge? He says, takin the rifle back.
– Get tae fuck. Ah dinnae care what ye think anyway. Ah says, goin tae find a beer.
Going through a box of my old childrens books. Yes, I have kept some of my favorite childrens books. For why, I’m not sure. I am sentimental about books. And I honestly haven’t laid eyes on them for quite some time. It’s weird, seeing them with 30 year old eyes. They nibble at my heart and I smile, handle them carefully, despite grubby, child fingerprints and worn pages. And then I come to one I know I have seen, but have no memory of. A vague cover. Just a painting of a young girl, staring into the fire. A simple title across the top. The book feels strange. It, in fact, isn’t even mine. There is an inscription on the front cover for my brother. And as I flip through the sparse pages, there are various paintings, next to words. A brief scan of the text tells me this isn’t a childrens book. I flip back to the front cover, as there is nothing on the back, to find the story behind this book. The text is the last will and testament of a man who died a pauper. It was found in his coat pocket. In it he bequeaths humanity all the beauty and wonder of the world. And for a few moments after I had finished reading it, I couldn’t hear my heartbeat, because it had stopped. It was absolutely, poetically beautiful. In a way, my eyes might not have understood had they been younger. I have not experienced something so soul shakingly beautiful in a long time…
Cherry Blossoms are a love song to Spring. Not the Cherry Blossoms of Asia, that drift and fall like snow. These are American Cherry Blossoms. Appearing over night. Freckles of pinks and whites on the branches of dead trees. Stubbornly showing up after the first warm day, as if to say, “it’s time for the world to wake back up.”
Facebook Memories can bring up some of the best memories. Funny pictures, awesome trips, happy days… But it can also bring up some of the worst times. Times you have shared, to vent, to feel less alone, to let people know. Although, 12 years ago I’m sure I didn’t have half as many “friends” as I do now. Perhaps a handful of mates from college. Most of whom are probably no longer listed as “friend.”
But 12 years ago, at this time, I put down my cat Tootsie. I have no recollection of where the heck I came up with that name. I was very young. I remember them, her and her sister Peanut, living in a large box next to the fireplace. Like true sisters, they hated eachother. I remember peeking over the edge of the box, they were so small.
Peanut was my brothers, a calico who became fat. Tootsie was all mine, a sleek all black angel. She learned to climb the slippery black ladder of my bunk bed to be near me. She would bite at my arm when I was having a teenage meltdown, to make me stop and breathe. She loved potato chips and would bat at my face to get one. She was my most precious angel.
And I remember 12 years ago. I remember her becoming sick. We took her to the vet and afterwards she seemed better. My parents and I had planned a trip over New Years, and they were considering canceling it. But I threw a fit. I wanted to do this trip. I needed to do this trip. Admittedly, I simply wanted the brief opportunity to be with a boy I’d met last time I was there, in the spring. We had begun a long distance relationship and I hadn’t seen him face to face since. My parents didn’t think it was a good idea, to leave Tootsie, but in the end relented.
When we returned I was so excited to see Tootsie. I swept her up in my arms, and I instantly realized she had gotten worse. Much worse. Her eyes barely registered me, and my parents knew that we had to put her down.
My sweetest angel. I had been so selfish in leaving her when she was sick. For a boy. And the guilt and heartbreak has never left me.
I don’t have pictures desplayed in my home of family or friends. I simply never have. Except one. A picture of Tootsie, guarding my pen and notebook.
I don’t want it to seem as though my current cat Thumbs will never compare. I love him just as fiercly. He, with his buck teeth and huge paws. He, with his hatred of all fish except cheddar blasted goldfish. He, with his open and unabashed love for all those who are most important to me.
I was young and selfish 12 years ago. My heart was wounded. But I have grown since. I have developed a sense of priorities, and patience, and an appreciation for the fragility of life. And Facebook helps remind me of that every year.
White Raven, a trickster
“Raven decides that he will try to do something about the darkness, for himself and for the world. As he follows the Nass River, he encounters the Fishermen of the Night..”
“Raven knows he will not be welcome in his raven form and devises a plan to transform himself into a tiny speck of dirt. His plan is to float down the river into the drinking ladle of the Daughter of the Nobleman at the Head of the Nass River. That is how he will sneak into the Clan House.. Raven is ingested by her and she becomes pregnant..
Raven is born in human form.
Raven grows into a precocious and precious human boy..”
Three carved boxes containing grandfather’s most prized possessions: the stars, the moon, and the daylight. Raven asks for the boxes and is told he cannot have them. He cries and cries for the boxes and eventually his grandfather relents. He gives his grandson the boxes, which he immediately opens. The stars, moon, and daylight, slip through the smoke hole in the Clan House and take their places in the sky..”
“As the stars fill the sky, and the moon takes its place, light begins to fill the Earth. When the sun takes its place in the sky, bringing daylight to the world, it is frightening for all those who have been in darkness. The people are able to see the world around them for the first time and are startled. Those wearing animal regalia run to the woods and become The Animal People. Those wearing bird rigalia jump into the sky and become The Winged People. Those wearing the water animal rigalia become The Water People. Those who remain strong (and stubborn) become Human People..”
(Taken from a Tlingit culture exhibition in the Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass. Based on an old Tlingit story. Glass art by Preston Singletary. )
…When the night begins to win over the day.
When the air begins to grasp at your skin.
When the trees start to turn, growing gold, then crimson, as if infected.
Then drop their leaves as if seeking to blanket the Earth, keep her warm, keep her safe.
Safe from the ghosts that slowly drift in the dew light, from the shadows that yawn and stretch in the twilight…
I stayed at home and fed my mind, and began to lose hope for the human race. I read books. I read books about pandemics, written in the early 1900’s. And I learned that in this time of pandemic nothing has changed. Man chooses not to believe in or see the pandemic until it is right in front of them, then becomes self absorbed, caring only for themselves and their own well being, not the welfare of their neighbor. And the virus always spreads before modern medicine can intervene, or the world ends.
I also read a lot of books about racism. Books from African-American perspectives, from Asian-American perspectives, and even a book from White-American’s perspective.
When this pandemic broke out across our nation, Asian-Americans were faced with an astronomical increase in racism against them. Asians of any nationality were automatically assumed to be Chinese and being blamed for the Corona Virus reaching America. The racism towards Asian-Americans did not stop just at threats, it also became extremely violent. One man stabbed an entire Asian-American family. Children in schools were being physically assaulted, one child, beaten so badly, was rushed to the emergency room. One elderly woman was knocked down by a group of men and set on fire. Gun shop owners noted a drastic increase in gun sales to Asian-Americans.
And it is not the first time American fear has given rise to extreme racism towards a specific racial group. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, American-Muslims faced something similar. But these are examples of American extreme racism that not a lot of Americans are even aware is happening.
Racism is our epidemic and I don’t honestly think it is something that will be cured. Our nation is young, but it was built on white superiority. It is in the bones of our country. People of colour are labeled “disadvantaged” simply for the colour of their skin, despite education and upbringing. Regardless of a white person’s education and upbringing. America’s structure and systems are built to keep white advantage. You drive down a street with nice houses and manicured lawns, and you automatically assume that it is a neighborhood filled with white families. You drive down a street that is poorly kept with small houses, and who do you assume lives there? Disadvantaged people. These are the images we have been raised to conjure in our heads, it is an automatic, unconscious response. America keeps people of colour down.
I have also been reading a little about the ’92 L.A. Riots. The timing felt appropriate after the death of George Floyd earlier this year, and the riots that ensued after. The L.A. Riots began on April 29th of ’92 after the four police officers who used excessive force and beat Rodney King while arresting him, were all acquitted. During the riots, much of the violence and destruction was aimed towards L.A. Koreatown and the Koreans living there. During this time many Koreans went out and bought guns. Although it was a gun that probably brought about a majority of the animosity African-Americans felt towards the Koreans, when a Korean shop owner shot and killed a young African-American girl trying to buy some orange juice. She was let off with an unjustly light sentence.
27 years prior, in 1965 the Watts Rebellion occurred after the arrest of Marquette Frye, an African-American man, escalated into a fight. The outrage over the police brutality in arresting an African-American incited a six day riot in L.A.
28 years after the L.A. Riots, the death of George Floyd by the police incited more rioting. Nearly 30 years between each incident and nothing has changed.
More current, I just read that the police officer responsible for the death of George Floyd posted bail and is now walking free until his trial, set for March of next year.
Though I know that extreme racism against African-Americans has always been going on, it has not been something I have personally seen much of. I honestly had no idea that “I can’t breathe” was a slogan used by the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of Eric Garner by police in 2014. Since then there have been other African-Americans to plead with police officers, “I can’t breathe,” while being forcibly restrained, and in turn died.
This year has been particularly difficult for America. While I had tried to convince myself that we have always been progressing towards a better, stronger country, this year in particular, of the last four, has proved to me that we haven’t. I admit that when Covid landed in our country, I was one of the ignorant ones who believed we would bust it within months. Four years ago, when Trump ran for president, I was one of the ignorant ones who believed our country couldn’t be stupid enough to actually elect him. I have always placed my misguided faith in this country and its people.
And now here we are again.
Honestly, KEEP America Great? Are you kidding me? Is this really the America he set out to make? The only thing I can say is that at least in the past four years we haven’t found ourselves in the middle of World War III. But instead, we are at war with ourselves. Our nation is fractured.
This year we have all been faced with this pandemic, this indiscriminate virus that will attack anybody. And yet, the cases of infection keep rising. Why do you think that is?
So, what did I do this Covid Summer? I stayed home and fed my mind.