I love going to Long Beach. There are tons of places to eat etc. San Pedro is great. My family's had a restaurant in Torrance since '76. I know this might sound creepy but feel free to let me know if you ever cross the bridge... getting a glass of wine or something would be awesome. My YouTube is AmericanHoney21 so you know I'm not a creep ;) -Morgan
I’ve arrived a touch too late to show my respect; this hardly matters for I’m the only family who made an appearance nonetheless.
No flowers, no speeches, no tears for this person who has already been forgotten.
In any case, I’m still standing here, parallel with two strangers waiting patiently for just one more person to arrive.
We don’t make eye contact for what seems like an eternity. This shall pass for the bitter folk who will not arrive has realized their many years investing in such a tortured soul has finally come to an end, and they have nothing to show for it. Who were we to be so sure he would turn around and stop spiraling down? Yet, we were so sure.
The younger of the two gentlemen asks me to put in a few words. For this 42-year-old man I hardly know, I had nothing to say. I remain silent and hoped they understood.
I should’ve said something. I could’ve said anything. This body before me has played an enormous part in my childhood. This heroin addict was the reason why I am the person I became. Of course I had plenty to say.
“I spent a great deal of my summer slaving over that massive picture you asked me to paint you and you never hung it up. What was wrong with it? Why did you shove it behind your bookcase? What should I have done? What does it take to make you happy? ”
But instead, I played my part and remained silent.
I stared blankly as they lowered his casket and put the finishing touches on erasing my uncle’s existence.
All of which makes me anxious, though there’s nothing more for me to do. I turn and walk away.
The flight home was a touch more unbearable this time around. He leaves the airport with his loyal driver waiting patiently in his Lincoln town car.
"Where to, Sir?"
"Just take me home", the heavily starched button-down, deep-pocketed gentleman sighs gently.
The drive home is relatively peaceful. There is a static in the air, for we know the season is about to change. This is his favorite time of the year. The grass is just a shade greener.
"Driver? Would it be alright if we take the long route home? I’d like to take a moment to think and the view ought to be pleasant."
Our driver does this upon demand, he has no place to be in particular and he could use the view as well.
They drive between gorgeous green meadows with blooming buds. Our protagonist takes a moment to reflect upon his previous month.
They drive for about 15 minutes when he notices a man eating grass in the meadow.
"Stop the car!", the deep-pocketed gentleman demands.
He rolls down his window and shouts, “Excuse me Sir, why may I ask are you eating grass?”
"I don’t have money for food, this is all I’ve got", the grass-eater explains.
Without hesitation, the deep-pocketed gentleman says, “Come with me, I will provide you with all the food you will ever need.”
"I cannot come with you", the grass-eater says, "I’ve got a wife and two kids waiting for me at home."
"Do they eat grass as well?"
"Yes, its all we’ve got."
"Well", says the wealthy gentleman, "We shall fetch them and bring them along with us. I will provide for your entire family."
And so they drive to the poor man’s cottage and fetch his family.
As they approach the gentleman’s mansion, the poor wife says, “You’re too kind Sir, God bless your soul.”
They arrive at the gentleman’s estate and everyone exits the vehicle. The wealthy gentleman guides the poor family towards his yard where everything has grown beyond the point of being manicured. No landscaper would ever dare touch this neglected jungle.
"Go on", says the deep-pocketed gentleman, "Feast upon my yard".
Last night marked the fifth night in a row that I’ve had this reoccurring nightmare. Every single element of this nightmare remains static and I know exactly what’s going to happen but I never change how I react because I’m even more frightened of what could possibly come.
Strange, when I was younger I’d have reoccurring dreams but they would never be this consecutive. It’d be spread out among random weeks; never more than twice, and certainly never consecutive days in a row.
It’s one thing to have nightmares every single night for over a month, but it’s another when you’ve completely run out of fresh thoughts and you have to settle with secondhand dreams. Well, in this case, five times over.
Allow me to jump right into it. Ready?
I’m in a well-lit, tiny apartment with peach-colored walls lying in bed with someone who very much resembles Charles Manson/Vincent Gallo. I have no idea how I ended up there or what I’ve gotten myself into, but we’re facing one another in nothing but our underwear.
I’m scared shitless as he tells me nice things about myself which I don’t consider because of his obvious manipulative nature. I can’t look him in the face so I’m staring at his fury chest.
I hold him at an arms distance. We’re lying on top of the unpleasantly cold covers. I feel completely exposed.
There’s a knock at the door, excuses himself to see who’s there. He suddenly turns frantic and tells me it’s his [girlfriend, fiancé, wife] and pleads with me to hide under the bed. At first I refuse, but his tone changes to a frightening demand, so I obey.
I feel like a fool.
In comes a loose pretty young woman wearing black with her hair down. She looks completely sedated/drunk. She throws herself around the apartment and eventually plops herself, belly down, on the bed with her arms flailing off the side.
He’s irritated as they start to converse. She runs her hands aggressively to fix the bed- skirt as I’m lying directly below her; I could feel her breath. Her hands eventually make their way to my hair and she starts to run them through my hair, detangling my knots, paying no attention to the fact that she’s touching me. Her hands move more and more gently as time passes.
Our man starts to really get irritated as his voice deepens and demands her to go to the bathroom. She slowly (and I mean slowly) abides by his order and disappears into the light. The bathroom door is open as he walks towards the light. I look out from under the bed and watch him standing at the doorframe, talking to her as he gets more and more aggravated by her lethargic remarks.
My doctor informed me of my “really high blood pressure” today.
He then rushed a series of rehearsed questions. Since my last checkup, a lot has changed.
I’ve become increasingly reluctant to make these bi-annual trips to his office because every time I come, I feel as though I’ve become more and more of a disappointment. Perhaps this is how Catholics feel about attending confession. I can’t be too sure.
In any case, today everything was rushed. He drew more blood than he has before and left me little to no room to ask him about my condition.
So I left a bit anxious, after realizing that I should grab a quick lunch for I’ve been up quite sometime without any food in my system.
I call Khoa and ask him if he’s at his usual coffee spot. He is so I make my way over.
Khoa and I have a routine we’ve grown fond of. I arrive while he’s working, I buy my coffee (always a medium redeye, black) and we both step outside and have a cigarette. I think to myself, “This truly has become a routine” as I catch our reflection against the coffee shop’s window.
As we’re shooting the shit, I start to feel dizzy so I excuse myself to go to my parents and take a nap.
As I make my way into my parent’s neighborhood, I notice my father’s car blocking the driveway so I decide in a quick instant just to drive to my apartment in Long Beach. Little did I know, this dizziness is about to overcome, so I circle the block once and make my way back.
My father is now walking out to his car. He notices me pulling-in and pauses for a quick moment, but only for a moment, and drives off. We don’t make eye contact.
The dizziness is wearing me thin so I promptly make my way up to my old bedroom to lay on my old bed, still perfectly made, and doze off into oblivion.
In my dreams, I’m never dying. In fact, I’m never dead. This dream in particular left me completely dazed. Shall I begin?
I’m walking around my childhood neighborhood on a sunny day. I notice my shadow following me at an acute angle so I speed up my pace only to realize it’s still following closely. I start to run, but I cannot escape so I decide I’ll levitate. This I do upon demand but never higher than I intend. I do however, leave my shadow behind to feel a deep relief.
Then I realize I’m heading in no direction in particular so I make my way back down to land in front of a building I feel all too familiar with, although this place does not exist in my present nor past.
I make my way into this cozy, well-lit apartment. A mid-century woman, well-dressed and proper welcomes me as she addresses the back door of her kitchen. I walk towards the door and look out to a wall covered in ivy and an elegant garden in between.
“If you look down to your left, those stairs lead into our basement. What you need to do is walk up these wooden stairs to your right.”
This I do as she waits at the doorframe. When I reach the top, I can hear her shout, “Walk up the spiral staircase!”.
There it was, the spiral staircase. I make my way up to find a very long ladder at the top. Her voice is now barely audible but I am aware of the pattern so I make my way up the long ladder and onto the roof of the building.
At the top, I can see everything. I take this moment to breathe in deeply and look around.
For some reason I feel uneasy, as if I’m missing something. At this moment, I realize I’m no longer in my body, I’m just a thought and what I’m seeing is merely a projection.
Swiftly, the projection makes its way down the ladder, circles down the long dark spiral staircase, down the wooden stairs, does not stop as we catch a glimpse of the woman leaning against the doorframe who is now looking down to her basement. The projection nudges its way down and into the basement where my body rests, broken. As if I’ve fallen. Dead.
Few things are worth fighting for. The things you choose to stand up for tell you a lot about your character. I believe this dream tells me everything I need to know about the person I’ve become.
I’ve already moved to New York and worked at Arth for a few years. I’m beginning resent the fact that I can’t afford to move back home and visit the people I want to see. Frustrated for digging myself further and further into such a deep rut, but never making an effort to change; I repeat the same routines and trace the same steps daily.
Without fail, I take the exact route to and from work everyday and past by the same milliner in the window of his own hat shop. Every time I past, he’s always behind that window busying himself and fixing a different hat.
He gets up for work earlier and stays far later than I would ever be willing, and this I’m constantly reminded of twice, daily.
This milliner has been in his shop for over 60 years. Directly above his hat shop rests his apartment which he probably shares with his cat. This man has never left this situation he’s grown so fond of. For over 60 years, no one knows his first name; everyone refers to him as the Hat Man.
The Hat Man is a wafer-thin, fragile, silver-haired widowed man who has aged comfortably wearing his uniform daily; a dark grey cured felt fedora with a thin black band, white oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up, charcoal pleated slacks, and a sturdy pair of black leather wingtips. Strictly shades of grey.
I left work early one night when I noticed a young slender man turn my corner. “It’s okay, I can share a sidewalk”, I tell myself as I slow down my pace to distance away from him.
The heels of this young man’s boots hit the pavement so violently; I can hear him undoubtedly from a block away. His head held steady as he walked with a purpose, both his hands buried deep into his leather jacket. He had to be somewhere, and from the looks of it, he could not afford to waste a single moment.
The young man makes a sharp turn into the Hat Man’s shop, which I found strange because why would someone with so much product in their hair want anything to do with hats? In any case, he turns into the Hat Man’s shop and as I’m approaching slowly, the young man rushes out. The Hat Man follows closely from behind.
“Please stop!”, the Hat Man begs.
The young man turns around and looks him directly in the eye for a moment, and as if he couldn’t finish a thought, he turns right around and continues walking.
The Hat Man is now frantic as he strives to catch up, takes off his grey fedora as a sign of desperation and presses it against his chest. He reaches out at the young man and touches his shoulder.
“Please, that’s all I’ve got. You’re taking everything”, he pleads once more.
By this point, the young man is aggravated so he turns around, pulls his right hand out of his jacket and draws a gun. He pulls one at our beloved Hat Man.
This I watch, with no one else around. I watch as the bullet leaves the barrel of the young man’s gun and drives towards the Hat Man. I also watch as the bullet bounces off the Hat Man’s fedora and forces it’s way right back to the young man and pierces him a touch below his neck.
I watch as the young man drops his gun and dies instantly, leaving the Hat Man standing there perplexed. The cops immediately show up, and from the scene presented in front of them, they arrest the Hat Man and take him away from this shop and home; far, far away from his element.
Some days start out better than others; today wasn’t one of those days.
No, no, you’re right; it’ll start out like any other day. Your alarm goes off, you’ll hit snooze. It’ll go off again, but you haven’t fallen back asleep, you’re just waiting for your thoughts to gather. This shall pass so you’ll reach for your phone to see where you are.
0 missed calls, 3 text messages, and 4 emails. This is where your day starts; disappointing the people you care about the most, and let down by the people you care the least.
You’ll roll out of bed, feed your cat, and use a heavy hand applying your war paint. Doing so, you’re already slightly too late to get off on a good foot. Doesn’t matter, no one’s waiting for you anyway.
With this in mind, you’ll make your way to the furthest coffee shop, put in your same order (medium redeye) and step outside for a drag. You’ll mention the perfect weather to your barista, but what for? You’ll remain cooped up inside all day anyway. And so you’ll part with stale librettos and find yourself across the way.
You’ll arrive to work and reluctantly open your laptop for you know as soon as the Wifi kicks in, you’re doomed to answer email after email after email. But you’ll do so anyway for these things accumulate quickly.
And then you’ll come across an email your sister sends you…you know, those ones with the cheesy life lesson quotes at the end, after the signature. You’ll never understand why she attaches these to all her emails, but you’ll read it anyway because it’s there and an email is not through unless you’ve read every last word. Maybe today you’ll learn something. Most days, these quotes just lower your serotonin level.
“No day but today!”
But then again, there’s always tomorrow.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life!”
And need you mention her new favorite:
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
This will hit you a touch too hard because your anxiety has been pushing you towards this direction.
In any case, this is just a quote. So you’ll remind yourself of this thought throughout the day and begin signing off with your own personal favorite:
"I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!"
You’ll spend a good portion of the day replaying the film you experienced the night before.
And you’ll continue all of the above as usual, day after day. For the remainder of your exsistence.
Everyone who’s in the know says that’s exactly how it goes.
My dad once told me at the boredom of his twenty-something yearlong thankless job that there are only two types of people.
“Only two”, I repeated to myself, “Only two”.
“The first type, the dying breed, are like your mother. Hard working, honest; people with goals.”
And then there’s us; the people who disappoint the ones we love, and are consistently distracted by those we shouldn’t be involved. These people carefully monitor their present, yet see no future. Good as they are, try as they might, they’ll cease to progress. They’ll spend their entire lives correcting their mistakes. It can’t be helped, but it should definitely be avoided.
I never understood that fully. In fact, I never completely understood any of his lessons.
I don’t think he intended for this to carry such a weight; just like how he didn’t intend for his Catholicism to change our family.
Burdened by our shameful past; unswervingly repenting. And I use to be such a nice person.
If there’s anything good about me, I’m the only one who knows.
My dad once told me over a cigarette in his backyard that its very important that I find someone with hobbies and interests; like a purpose that keeps them alive, that thing to look forward to that will detach them from the mundane nine-to-five.
This he told me while gazing at my mom through the screen door; my mom sprawled out on the couch, gossiping on the phone with my aunt in France or Vietnam or the Republic of…wherever.
This, coming from a man who suppressed my curiosity in “hobbies and interests” beyond the Holy Trinity; piano, ping-pong, mathematics.
I couldn’t register if he meant this to be ironic; he’s hard to read that way. In an effort to understand, I helped the conversation along by adding my bit of confusion. His tone was neither of regret; because I could not pinpoint a single hobby or interest my mom had; or of relief because she has this “separate life” from what I see on the daily. A life only he and my mom knew of; you know, one full of interests and hobbies that kept my dad so cripplingly enthralled.
I pictured this “separate life” where she doesn’t answer work calls during all hours of the day, a life where she doesn’t make the same meal every other night, not burdened by her children’s needs, or simply doing anything besides recapping the tedium of what I was certain her rehearsed daily agenda must have been to my aunt in France who must find it all very interesting.
I just couldn’t see it.
I gazed at her as my dad did through the screen door and tried my best to make a connection as she mouthed the words “clearance sale”.
In any case, my dad doesn’t offer much advice so when the moment comes, I’ll take what I can get.
hey christine! do you have any tips for writing essays in uni? thanks
Write a list of ideas or points, then turn those ideas into thoughts, then sentences, then complete paragraphs, then read everything out loud to test the fluidity, then scrap the whole fucking thing with the first google search you find. Self-destructive habit of mine.