Friday, April 22, 2016

Procrastination My Old Friend

I was supposed to meet Terry at 11 last morning, but I woke up to Damian messaging me at 11 instead... Since I had set my alarm for 9 to get ready on time, naturally I ended up on campus at 1. We met up in the 90s computer lab under the architecture building, where we promptly checked our emails, played Hearthstone, and calculated the minimum grade we'd need on our final to get a C and pass the class. Five years ago, in the final stretches of my senior year of high school (with the same case of senioritis), I would have never imagined myself saying that. I had some lofty plans, misguided maybe, but nevertheless I had only known competitiveness and overachieving so they were my plans.

"Here," I pointed to Terry. "This is where my life took a nosedive."

I was pointing at my transcript, which we had pulled out in our distractions. My second year, first semester, where I had only taken four classes but gotten a C in every single one. I think I even deferred one of the exams. Back then, it was fairly devastating. Now I am just glad it didn't get worse until later.

We finally got around to our lecture slides, and I had just finished reading the first lecture (the introduction), when I got a frantic text from Zach, my lab partner.

"Are you on campus? I'm trying to return the lab kit but I forgot my ID card at home!"

Typical Zach. He'd literally forget his brain if he could, and honestly sometimes it feels like he does.

"Yeah," I texted back. "I'll be there in a bit."

"You have to hurry the office closes in 20 minutes!"

Terry and I had two other lab kits from other classes to return too, so we decided to go together. We practically ran up the hill, and when we get there Zach looks at me sheepishly and says, "Oh, I think they're not closing for another half hour."

We gather up our stuff and the Guardian of Lab Materials (the snarky one, unfortunately, who once asked me where in China I was from and got huffy when I only gave him a vague answer) crossed off each item down the list as we handed them to him. I took out the resistors on our breadboard, the last remnants of the microprocessor lab that had us pull so many all-nighters this semester. We gave back the half-broken breadboard that made our microelectronics lab a nightmare (how does a single resistor oscillate? why did our "ground" have a huge resistance?). I said goodbye to the "graphical programming" torture of NI's myRIO.

It was finally all over.

Zach and I went upstairs to return the last of our parts (by dumping them into the mess already on the table), then we parted ways, probably for the last time. At the beginning of this semester I had had a huge crush on him, which actually finalized my breaking up with my last boyfriend, who I just now realize I had never come up with a nickname for. I kind of knew I wanted to break up with him all along, deep inside my heart, however cruel that sounds. Just like with Yuma, there was that sinking feeling that I didn't want the rest of my life to be like this.

It's a bit hard to explain, but like I had said to JJ, when I'm alone, trying to sleep, I imagine all sorts of adventures and all the flawed, moody, damsel-in-distress (or the male version, anyway) kind of men I'd share these adventures with. Warm, garrulous, sarcastic. All sorts of fantastical situations. With Yuma, with my ex, though in the day they kept me company and kept me distracted, when I settled down for the night I always imagined something more. Something else, something different. I only really realized this after I broke up with Khajiit, that when we were together I didn't dream before I slept.

My ex had asked why I was so determined to break up, why he couldn't change to be the person I want him to be. I couldn't say it back then, and I don't know if I ever can. It really is something intangible, something I can't explain fully but know deep down in my heart.

Well, anyway, back to Zach. At the beginning of the semester I had all sorts of plans to tell him how I felt about him after our lab ended (so that it wasn't awkward). Funny how it all ended up. He is great fun to be with and he really gets my morbid obsession, but knowing him more now I think it's better that it ended up this way.

Terry and I tried to study some more but we soon gave in to our hunger. We texted Seth and met up to check out the smoked meat place he raved about so much. We talked a lot about school, jobs, and girls (for some reason these are always the three topics that come up when we chat).

About school:

"Hey, do you want some ketchup?" Terry said, jabbing at the bottle with his iron ring pinky. Seth was the only one of us not graduating yet, and predictably he faked a dramatic sob.

About jobs:

"You're going to refer me at Big Software Company, right?" Terry asked me. Seth had recently gotten a job offer at the place he's interning at, so now Terry feels left out and discouraged.

About girls:

"Summer is coming," Seth said. "Then I can start dating."

"Why summer?" I asked. "Why not start now?"

"I still need to work out more, I'm not quite there yet."

Our food eventually came (after an order mishap and some extra fries to placate us). I had ordered a smoked meat sandwich with Swiss cheese in a sesame brioche bun, and it was absolutely delicious. Seth also shared some of his barbeque chicken pizza, which was also really good but kind of reminded me of Domino's pizza. The sandwich itself wasn't a lot of food, but after two trays of fries I was absolutely stuffed.

"Let's go get bubble tea after!" I declared.

Terry and Seth agreed, so we set off for our usual bubble tea joint. I usually only get jasmine tea, but lately Terry convinced me to try some new flavors. Last time I had gotten hazelnut, which was pretty good. This time he suggested strawberry, and I gave it a spin, but it was way too sweet even with no extra sugar added and tasted like artificial strawberry syrup. Would not recommend.

We went upstairs to enjoy our drinks, and like typical millennials we all went straight on our phones. Seth had recently bought a new Samsung phone (the one where the screen is a bit curved around the edges, I don't know what it's called), and he downloaded a few games to try. The Google Play store recommended this game called "That Level Again," which ended up being really fun. The three of us spent hours trying to figure out each level, and by the time we finally decided to leave it was already 10.

Technically, we were supposed to study today.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Old Habits and New Thoughts

I was going to start a new blog, but since this is fairly anonymous anyway (my old friends have probably long forgotten this) and I'd like to have a place where I can look back and see how my writing has grown—or not grown, perhaps—I decided to pick this back up.

I had been working on this for a while, it's not really anything but words spilling. At some points in my life I had felt this way, not lately though because I've been happy in a way I hadn't been in a really long time. I have some plans and it's okay if they don't go really as planned, I am okay with not knowing for sure this time.

Also, since it's probably more interesting (mostly for future me) if I recounted my days instead of only writing melodramatic prose:

Tomorrow I am going to get lunch with my friend, Terry, and then we'll study together for our final next week, then we'll get dinner with our other friend, Seth, who said he knew this smoked meat burger place. I'm not too sure how smoked meat and burgers can be said in the same sentence, but I guess we'll see. Thursday is relatively planless, but on Friday I'm going grocery shopping with my new beau, Damian, and we're going to make an improvised hotpot. Next week I have two finals, and then I'll finally be free (well, hopefully, depends on how these two finals go) after five years of undergrad. Terry and Seth and I are going on a trip to Maine in May, although I do need to start planning that, and my parents are coming for convocation, and I think I'll go visit my family for the summer, but these are far off plans and I haven't really thought too much ahead yet.

There is a lot happening, and I'm pretty apprehensive, but mostly excited. I do have a lot of doubts, but I've been going to a local church lately for their gorgeous music, and they always say to have faith, which is what I think I should do. I just have to keep forging ahead no matter what happens and have faith that everything will be okay in the end.

I'll aim to update semi-frequently, nothing too serious, just a bit of chronicling of my days because it's more fun to keep it up if I pretend that I have an audience.

Well, without further ado:

would you forget me?

I can let you go in the morning as long as you come back to me at night. without fail, without doubt. you can be with the sirens or the witches or the court of roses, as long as you come back.

if you and I have no regrets, nothing to turn back to, what does our parting mean?

. . .


Despereaux’s mother believed in insurmountable fate, and perhaps so do I. Someone once wrote, “There are people in our lives who were only meant to pass through.” To share with us a lesson or a story or a vivid dream before they fade into the ephemeral. Three years ago, I would have rejected that thought with a brief panic. I would have quelled even the faintest hint of it with a sharp breath.

Tonight, I sit in front of my laptop. The illusions have faded, the memories no longer hurt. In my life I only really had one regret. Tonight, I feel that regret slipping away from me.

Decisive. Strong. Courageous. Independent.

Everything I want to be, everything I am not. In writing, I discard the husk and face my demons. You are not good enough, they whisper. You will never be strong enough to shake us off. My poison is reality, and writing is my antidote. Here, I can objectively say what I should do and mix it in with a batch of optimism. I should and I could. And I would.

I will.

I will, surely.

I will, maybe.

For two years, I cried. Long, lonely sobs, the cold truth of who I was and what I had done snaking its way around my heart. I put my headphones on and tried to sit in front of a screen, too, tried to free myself of a ghost that would trace its chilling fingers around my shoulders and sing in my head.

Dark, darker, let the emotions drain until there is only void.

In those dark nights, I could not imagine ever feeling free. Maybe Fate is only pulling me up through another loop in this rollercoaster, maybe my demons will break out of their confines and drag me back to their lair. But tonight, I have lit my heart on fire.

. . .

can I just close my eyes

can I just close my eyes

can I just, the music is so loud, I’m drowning, I’m falling, the halls are hollow, my voice, my voice, can’t you hear me, I’m screaming, I’m stifling, I’m holding on and I’m pushing it all away

. . .

The snow is cold on my face. It melts on contact, of course, but by then it is too late. I watch as they cloud my glasses, my vision fading into my mind.

In the dark, they are always the same. The Queen, her ever elusiveness, her reluctance to take responsibility for the throne. She closes her eyes and hopes that the inevitable will go away. When the knight in shining armor, when the prince of light himself, when the brother of Fate comes, she is one step closer to falling back into her prison.

She runs away, every time, she fights off her pursuers and flees.

Syrena is everything I want to be.

She is strong, she is cold, she can read people’s hearts and not let them get to her. She fights by herself, defeating legions, defeating her captors, defeating the very fabric of reality. She is the Queen, because they will accept no one else, they do not want to accept anyone else.

Yet even she runs away from the insurmountable.

We each have our prisons, the keys tantalizingly out of reach. We paint the walls and call them home and wait until they fade from the jarring. For the longest time, I thought my prison was reality. I tried to run away from it, to no avail. Why did something so innoculous hurt so much, why will it not leave me alone?

The demons come howling. They knock on my doors, rattling the bars as they pass by, whispering, jeering, mocking. If everything is such a big deal to you, then everyone will think nothing is really a big deal, they screech. Why do you cry, they admonish. You should not cry so much, there is no reason to cry. No reason to feel so upset, they laugh, silvery hollows. How can you be suffering if so many people have it so much worse than you?

Are you crazy? You are, aren’t you?

My mind is my true prison.

Reality is only a construct.

There is really no reason for me to feel this way, objectively speaking. There is no reason why the Queen should run away from what is perhaps the greatest honor. No one really understands, unless they too stretch out reality until it hardens into jagged shapes, scraping at the heart until it is raw. Sometimes what you feel is not real, no matter how real it feels, it is only your mind laughing at you as it dangles the key close, close, closer then throws it barely out of reach.

Do you want it, it asks, do you want to be free? Of me?

Yes, you say. I would rather be plain, flat, emotionless, anything but these vivid colors that scream at my eyes and spin me round and round on this false pedestal.

Of course you never had a chance. Once learned, the mind does not forget.

Normality is the key, it does not come to those who lust after it. The more you reach out, the more it falls back, teasing, coy, flirting with those who do not care for it.

Why does your mind torture you so when it is only torturing itself? Why can it not run away from its own trecherous grasp? Why do I stay up so late to spill my thoughts onto paper, only to shove it into the corners when I wake up?

Will I remember tomorrow the cold fantasy I felt tonight?

How long will this illusion of happiness last?

. . .

music like mercury flowing through my veins

take my soul and keep it captive

pillars of light my staircase to a false heaven

steps like feathers covered in tar

deeper, deeper


. . .

Doubt is like sand sifting through to the bottom of your heart. Each tumble of grain scratches at the walls, reminding you of the inevitable drop at the end.

In the winter I always order iced drinks. Coffee, tea, even smoothies. Smoothies are of course the ultimate enigma. Why do I keep ordering something that I know I never like? I have unfortunately fallen in love with the idea of them, a silhouette, just enough to keep up the insanity but not enough to make them palatable.

Anxiety is something you can never outrun. When the clock strikes twelve, the stories come. A traffic accident? Criminals robbing at gun-point? Apocalypse come early? The clock taps furiously. When you open the door and stare into a thousand pairs of eyes, the whispers grow frenzied.

Those whispers belie a more grotesque reality: that they are not whispers, but knowing laughter.

The road is long, monotone, I want to close my eyes but this is what I have always wanted. It has been a while since I really enjoyed the journey. Lately, the destination becomes overwhelming, especially how out of reach it is. The trees drag by in lines of green, gray, and black. Fantastical creatures live beyond the canopy, their eyes stalking the car. The mile markers are keys to a great piano that only entralled one. Sunlight filters like fairy dust, landing on the asphalt to make dark shimmering lakes.

My biggest lie is my love for adventure. It is the idea of it, a spell, a lullaby, taking me by my hands and luring me into the bright of day where I inevitably wake up and crawl back inside. Happiness, too, it eludes me, it puts on the airs of a French queen right before her beheading. The vultures of paranoia encircle me, just at the edge of my perception, patient, consistent, waiting for the lull.

Inevitable. Inescapable. Eventually the fears become prophecies.



. . .

softly, softly, are you a horrible person? am I a horrible person? you say I am heartless, heartless, flitting like a bird through these tangled vines

razor teeth, razor teeth, you hold me down, we spin around, in the mist we wait, we wait to be found, to be found and discarded

I pick up my dreams and set them down, life is art, art is knowing when to move on

. . .

Why would you throw away three years like it was nothing?

There are no teary goodbyes. It is an instant affair, once the decision is made. Standing steadfast. No longing looks. Head held high, pacing forward, always forward.

Sometimes it is uncanny, how all the people and all the places can be such a blur, and how neatly I can pack them up and stow them away. People have dates, locations, expiration times. They turn into oversaturated polaroids stacked in the attic.

Was it a defense mechanism? Maybe I can know with years of therapy.

New places, new people, new adventures, it does not matter what they are or who they are, I always dive deep, head first, no reservations, no holding back. Maybe this time is not quite right, maybe the sand is too dry, or the sun too bright, maybe the best had already gone by; none of it matters because right now I want what is right now.

Surely they will still be waiting for me when I wake up in the morning.

But I will not wait until then.

Falling out of love is not instant, however abrupt the ending. For me, it is always inevitable. I was always never truly in love, so falling out of love is merely a formality, to demonstrate the finality.

What is real is what is in front of me after the night settles, after the whispers waltz in, after I fall back onto the soft void of my bed and stare at the ghosts that haunt me. What could have been, what would have been, what could never be and would never be and yet so tantalizing idyllic deceptive. How real is reality, how real are these wisps of stories braided together like fog?

Uprooting my life is as simple as flipping the page.

Planting it again is as ephemeral as the light dancing across the words.

One day the pages will fray, the binding harden and crack, the paper musty and heavy, sinking into place. One day the wide-eyed girl will no longer visit this library.

Tonight, we lose ourselves in our own minds.

. . .

tell me darling, why do you keep feeding your demons, why, oh, why darling, you try to run but you keep them on such a short leash, you turn to look at me with such a wistful smile, darling, you run, you slam the door but you smash the windows, you jump from the swing but hold on to the rope, darling, why, why do you need them so much?

why can’t you wake up from your past?

. . .

Have I lied before?

I lie all the time, to other people, to myself. Mostly to myself. I had said I have no regrets; that cannot be true, so patently untrue. If I had no regrets, why would I have these demons nipping at my heels?

There are many shades of reality, each one painted by a demon. Each so fresh, so real, their soft pastel watercolors bleeding into the bold acrylic. Rococo and romantism. My two favorite styles. If I close my eyes for long enough, I can almost feel my skin melting into the canvas, my soul weaving itself under the paint, where I too can pretend that I have frozen myself in that perfect moment where everything was just right and everything will go just right.

Which one is real anymore? Does it even matter?

No artist tolerates reality, Friedrich Nietzsche said.

There is no illusion more deceptive than reality, the pamphlet I picked up at the laundromat said. The artist reflects at length on reality and then magnifies it and turns it into a shimmering work to be shared with the audience, a group of strangers harbouring a thousand contradictory realities.

A group of strangers can have a thousand contradictory realities. I, too, have a thousand contradictory realities. My artists are my demons, instead of shining light they shove on shadows, instead of an audience there is only me. I alone walk down this neverending gallery, the long and dark hallway punctuated by angry canvases.

This is what could have been.

Idealistic. Realistic. Fantastical. Grounded. Just a little bit more, I just wanted, I just thought.

Someone once told me, you don’t have to always be happy. Some days you can be sad, and that’s okay, if you were always happy then happy would be normal and you’d be forever chasing more happiness.

Late at night, I feed my demons with greed. Sheer desire, naked, grotesque, I can feel my weak will crumbling against the gnarling teeth. This is my addiction, I get under the covers and I cry, I make myself so miserable until resignation sinks in, and then, then, I reset my expectations, I start the new day without looking back. These demons tear me down and I rebuild myself. Some days I even hold a paintbrush and go over the lines.

I have invited many people to the exhibition, but they simply shake their heads. Why do you torture yourself like this? None of this can be real. All of this can be real if you only tried. They see the art in front of them as art, and the reality in front of them as reality.

To me, art is merely reality in another dimension. Reality is merely art made present.

Soft rhetoric to comfort myself with as my demons drag the curtains over my eyes.

Friday, June 21, 2013

When We Stand on Guard, Even in Certain Death

“All is fair in love and war.”

. . .

Here is the age old moral dilemma: would you kill one person to save five?

What about this one: would you kill five people to save five?

Of course you could say, these five people I am saving are close and dear to me, I will save them no matter the cost. These five people are incredibly smart and talent and will accomplish great things in life if they had the chance. These five people are fighting for the righteous ideology, the one that will save the world.

What if one of those five was a young earl, born of a military family, eager above all else to fulfill the family tradition and loyal to his country? His charming grace and good manners had won him favorable opinions even from those who did not agree with his position.

What if one of those in the other five was an extremely talented speaker, rallying behind the unshakable ideals of freedom and liberty? Even if his motives were shaky and half his supporters had more practical purposes in mind, were they not noble goals?

As I muster up my virtual troops in an Age-of-Empires-like game readying for the next attack against the “bandit chief,” so, too, must a real general have, throughout the ages, prepared his army for an uncertain fate. Perhaps he did not want to fight the war. Perhaps, more than anything else, he did want to sit by the river and fish with his hookless fishing rod.

But, as with all things history, one must decide. Despite John Rowe’s best efforts at peacekeeping, he could not preserve the fine sanctuary where the regulars dined with him and the townspeople kept on their smuggling trade unhindered. And the one hundred and eight heroic warriors forced to leave their hometowns and band together defying an unjust government? They could not hide in their mountain base forever, whiling away the days.

Their leader decided to obey the emperor in the end. Even if it meant one hundred and eight deaths.

Is there really the right decision, the right thing to do?

In twenty years, the right people were the Bostonians who had their Pope Day mobs and overthrew tea into the ocean. History only favors the victorious, and soon their sacrifices are the only ones that matter, their concerns the only ones worth mentioning, their hopes and dreams the only ones to be pursued.

But in the moment, perhaps we can only make the best of two horrible choices and map out our course using the painful moral compass in our hearts.

. . .

I am a horrible decision-maker.

There is no hiding around it. Whenever there are choices to be made, I strive to retain all of them as long as possible. I am the girl who kept multiple bookmarks in her “choose your own adventure” books so she could go back and read every possible ending. I am the girl who has five different variations of the same item that does basically the same thing in a game, because I could not decide which one to pick.

I, too, am the one who always sympathizes with the villain, because what if they had a really good reason for what they did and who am I to judge? I do not want to make anyone unhappy, and yet most of all I do not want to be unhappy.

They say you can’t make everyone in the world happy all the time, but how could I choose who to make happier and whose hopes to crush? Maybe the one who I care about more? But how could I figure that out when all I want to do is curl up and fade away slowly?

If only my misery could bring forth something good.

Then again, I suppose it wouldn’t be called misery, would it?

I know I am hurting everyone in my impasse, but even knowing so I am indecisive as ever.

. . .

The night before Joseph Warren was supposed to take up command as general of a fledgling rebel troop, he stayed up the entire night and fell asleep the next day until noon. Perhaps, even until then, his subconscious was not sure what to do.

But when he woke up, he knew.

He marched up the hill, not as a general, but as a footsoldier, to his death.

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