Race

My drive to write usually blows up whenever I’m upset.  The urge to voice my thoughts and feelings that never transcribe well when I am speaking but somehow come out okay when I put them on paper.  Usually, this leads to creative writing but today won’t be that case.

So let’s talk about race and racism, from my perspective.

Racism is alive and well.  It never went away.  If you thought it did, you’re probably not a person of color (POC).  That’s all there is to it.  It’s been around me my entire childhood, through my adolescence and into adulthood.  It’s sadly a way of life that many POCs have to deal with and combat with.

It was there when my brother and I were looked oddly by authorities when I was a kid.

It was there when I presented my pro-immigration stance in a mock class debate for English in high school.  I remember a white teenager ignoring my reasoning by simply saying “We don’t want you or other Mexicans here, go back home.”  The worst part is the teenager’s mother was present and basically agreed with her son.  The uncomfortable silence only reminded me that having no supporting voice is a scary and disappointing thing.

It was there when some of my white “friends” joked around me being a drug cartel member who was supply drugs to everyone in high school because I was from Peru.  Fighting it on my own only lasted so long.  And just like the people who were quiet in that mock class debate, I simply chose to ignore it.  A frightening decision.  Not attending my five-year high school reunion?  A good decision.

It was there when I walked through a high-end shopping mall with my white girlfriend during my college days and we could not enjoy ourselves simply because we were getting looks from every white person there.  She expressed how shocked she was because she never saw me the way some white people do.  That cheered me up but still, it was just another reminder how simply the color of my skin can lead to such disapproval.

It was there in Japan where certain taxi drivers refused to pick us up because we weren’t Japanese or watching friends being stopped randomly by police to confirm they were not illegal aliens.  The twist there though is that all non-Japanese residents seem to go through their moment of racism, white people included.  My white friend’s shocked expressions, their disgust at how simply their background led to a situation where they were being persecuted.  I was perplexed at how angry they were.

Why?  Because, it’s been happening to me throughout my life.  It’s nothing new.

My POC friends in Japan and I eventually figured it out.  These situations where race came into play (in this case, not being Japanese) were probably the first instances of racism our white friends experienced.  It was a slap to the face to them.  But for me, it was just an elbow to the side saying “Oh, hey, it’s racism.  I see you’re still around.”  I was more surprised to see my white friend’s reactions, the amount of anger it led them to experience, followed by sorrow and disbelief.  For me though, these feelings have always been within me, dormant, but ever so present.

Part of me wonders how white America would view racism if they all had these experiences scattered throughout their lives, like I did.  If they lived in a country where they were not the privileged.  Instead, white America chooses to ignore it because it doesn’t affect them.  And if it doesn’t affect them, who the hell cares, right?

Some white people are unaware of how much hatred is out there, they haven’t personally experienced it. These poor people believe things are dandy because it doesn’t seem like anything is going wrong in their bubble, where they are not harassed or looked down upon or grouped up with negative images.  These people would probably be acting the same way as some of my friends who were experiencing discrimination in Japan.  They’re nice, friendly people but just ignorant.  To these people, I have to say this:

Open your eyes.  Get out of that bubble or you are part of the problem.  You’re the equivalent of those quiet students who did not say anything in my mock debate but I could tell you wanted to.  You were just afraid.  Silence is a scarier thing though.

Racism is something people of color in America experience to this day.  And that’s why POC are in fear of what’s to come.  This fear or hatred towards someone who does not share the same skin color as yours has shaped into a disgusting form of one person that will soon be the most powerful man in the country.  Sure, racism is not the only problem in this country.  However, when a man who embodies such hatred and disgust gets elected by the majority of people who voted in this election, it just sends a message to POC that we do not matter.

But I don’t believe that.  I refuse to believe that because I have met so many wonderful people in the U.S.  People who stand up for what POCs endure even if may have not experienced racism themselves.  People who fight with us, combat this crazy, bizarre hatred.  You may not know it, but it is you who keep me hold my faith in humanity and what drives me to stay positive, even in the darkest of times.  We need more people like you and join the fight against racism.  We need more people to open their eyes and step out of that bubble.  We need all the help that we can get right now.

I’m a stubborn person at heart. I blame my parents and thank them at the same time.  No matter how many times I get knocked down, I will still stand up and keep fighting for what I believe in, and for my happiness.

Today is no exception.

Hello, Moon.

Back when I first started living here, I was really jealous of one of my friend’s apartment because she lived on the “sunset” side of the building.  If you know me, I love sunsets to death.  However, on early days, I can catch a beautiful sunrise while I get ready for work which almost makes it worth it.

Who am I kidding, waking up early sucks.

One thing I do love though is having the moon right outside of my balcony almost every night.  The moon fascinates me every time I see it; it’s as if I get in some sort of mini-trance whenever it shines down brightly in the pitch black sky. I wish I could take a photo worthy of what my eyes see but they always turn out okay at best.  Some nights the moon will be blood red and slowly emerging from the mountains.  It’s eerie, mysterious and yet calming.

I love simply looking at it in the sky from outside of my window.  It’s bright but not blinding like the sun is.  The darkness compliments it perfectly as its pale light hovers intensely down at me.  So simple and yet so elegant.

I like being able to see the craters from here.  It boggles my mind that on a perfect night I can see clearly how the terrain is like.

Whenever I step out from somewhere and notice the moon hovering over, I will almost always take a minute to admire it.  Why do I like looking at you so much?  I can’t explain it but it does relax me.  Also, if I’m at home, it sometimes gets me in a writing mood (like now).

The moon usually makes its way into some of my memories throughout my life.  It always accompanied me home after a long day of sledding as a kid. My brother, dad and I saw a harvest moon in the fields one autumn evening and it been forged into my mind that the size of the moon was as big as the sky (which I’m sure is a huge exaggeration but I’ll let my youthful mind slide). I remember sitting on a bench together with my junior high crush and just chatting on a clear, full moon night.  One of my former girlfriends would randomly text me in the evening with a “Look at the moon!”, it was a nice little gesture that I always liked in her. Sailor Moon?  Damn right I like that show.

So thanks moon, you are a huge reason why I love the evenings.  May you continue to orbit around my life until I can no longer see you anymore.  That day will indeed be a sad one.

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Me

This is me.

– If I’m at home, listening to music and thinking about my story ideas, I will be walking around for no particular reason, lost in thought.  I will continue to walk around until I stop.

– If I like a part in a song, I will continuously rewind to that part over and over.  10 times. 20 times. 30 times.  This is how my iPod battery dies fast.

– I have a uncanny recollection of the past.  This is a blessing and a curse as I can get too attached to memories sometimes.

– I made my own plotlines as a kid, starring me and my friends in some sort of ragtag group.  There was an ongoing storyline as I grew up and to this day I still remember it.  I had ideas for video games in this “series” too.  What a weird little boy I was.

– I can’t drink alcohol by myself, in my place. It feels too depressing.  I either need to be with someone or be at a bar.

– I like thinking, a lot.  If I’m being quiet, I’m probably thinking about something.

– I tend to think more when I’m down or I want to distract myself from the current environment.

– I can become down if I do think too much.  Too much thinking increases the chances of thinking about negative things.  If you recall, when I’m down, I tend to think more.  It can become a vicious cycle.

– Being alone for too long can also lead to me being down.  I feel like I have a gentle balance of wanting to be around others and needing space to myself.

– One thing I think I’m good at is cheering myself up.  Even when I’m really upset, I can put some positive spin to it.  Or if that doesn’t work, I just smack myself and tell myself to get it together.

– One thing that also cheers me up/I like to do if I’m upset is write.  I feel like I’m at my peak when I’m depressed or something is bothering me.  It’s my way of venting to myself or just channeling that negative energy to my hobby.

– In that sense, I’m far better at describing things through writing as opposed to speaking. I always can’t find the right word to say in a conversation and it irritates me to no end.  Maybe that’ll change someday.  I probably do a lot better with a conversation through messaging than physically talking.

– Loneliness is my eternal enemy.

– I used to be really hyper when I was young.  It’s funny how much that has changed.

– Some people think I’m “cool” and “sophisticated”.  I think quite the opposite.

– If we’re good friends, odds are I will go above and beyond to help you out.  It’s not easy to hit that level though.

– I used to be very selfless until I realized how damaging could be. I’m definitely more selfish nowadays. Sometimes I surprise myself at how different I am compared to before.

– The name of his blog comes from: A) The name of my favorite nujabes song and B) How I feel about my position in the multiple cultures I have been raised and lived in throughout my life.

– I like to ramble a lot.  Like now.  Maybe now is a good time to stop writing.  This is just a fraction of what I could’ve written.  Maybe I’ll do it again sometime.  It is nice to see it in a list format.

Into 2014.

Well, 2014 gave me a rude awakening with my dog’s passing away but I just have to keep rolling with the punches.  Like last year, I’m going to try to have some resolutions that I can complete.  But first, let’s look at 2013’s resolutions:

1) Continue studying Japanese and increase the intensity: Well, that failed.  Well, sort of.  I was going at it pretty well until my tutor moved, thus concluding our lessons.  Self-studying is stupidly hard to do and I lost the drive from August onward.  I hit a long slump but I have started to look over stuff again.  If I want to even try to attempt the N2 Japanese Language Proficiency Test, I have to start studying my butt off as soon as I get back.  Let’s hope we can get that done.

2) Travel more: I destroyed this resolution.  I have gone on several solo trips since and am not afraid to do it again.

3) Write more: I finally finished my second novel, started heavily revising my first one and sort of started writing up a follow up novel to the second one.  So yeah, I think I did okay here despite not doing NaNoWriMo!

4) Work on photography: I did okay here.  I didn’t really look into working on my photography but I’ve been experimenting on my own.  I’ve been taking a ton of pictures so I think I did alright.

5) Expand my cooking repertoire: FAILURE.  I’m a lazy bum.

6) Put more effort into my teaching: Seeing that I am in complete control of everything in my Friday school, I had no choice but to put more effort into my lessons.  At least one day out of the week I am just putting all a day’s work into making materials, worksheets and brainstorming for a perfect class.  That has spread at my other schools too so let’s consider that a pass!

I think I had too many resolutions last year so let’s see if we can focus and complete all of mine this year.

1) Continue studying Japanese…again!: I mostly goofed this up last year so I want to make it up this year.  Forgetting everything I have learned so far would be a waste.

2) Read more: I have been slacking off in reading.  I only just started again but before that I hadn’t read anything since fall of 2012.  Yeah, it’s been bad.  Once I heard my nieces have been reading like crazy, I started to read again.  I want to at least finish 10 books this year.  Plus once I start reading, it’ll make my writing better! Well…hopefully.  Which leads me to my third resolution…

3) Share your works: I’ve always been hesitant in showing people my works.  Awhile back I started showing people my short stories which has resulted in good feedback.  My novel rough drafts though?  I still shudder at the thought of showing such a huge piece of work to someone to see what they think about it.  But, if I don’t do it, I’ll never be able to publish it.  Showing people what I write is also the end goal for writing these books so it is sort of silly to not show anybody it, even if it isn’t the final version.  If people won’t see it, then it’ll never improve.  Since I’m comfortable with one novel looking “presentable”, I really should just give it to people who want to read it.  It may be more on the personal level but, I just need to take the dive and do it.  Honestly this is the easiest resolution because all it will take is a few clicks on the computer.  Soon I’m going to dump my first draft of my second novel for anyone to read.

4) Take more chances:  I’m a cautious person by nature.  I used to be more of a risk taker but I think I had been burned so many times from it that I sort of slunk back and made safe decisions. But if one simply does that their entire life, they will get nowhere.  I look back at my adolescence and realize the more eventful parts of my life have involved taking huge risks.  While I don’t have to go crazy, I definitely need to get out of my comfort zone again like I used to.  I can’t beat myself too much over it though, I did move to another country a few years ago.  But I won’t be here forever.  Time is slowly running out and I want to make the most of it before I take off.

2013 overall was a good year.  Let’s hope 2014 will be an even better one.

Breezy.

The other day I found a short story I wrote back in college.  For those waiting to read my novel can maybe enjoy this in the meantime.  Although it’s a little dated, I still like it.

Breezy

It was a typical night outside for Anthony, except that it really wasn’t.  He always found himself sitting on the old wooden bench in front of his condo, watching the sky and enjoying the breeze; this night was different, however for he had a guest with him.  The wind blew against his shaggy blonde hair, leaving it a mess.  He merely smiled though, and brushed his head with his hand.  He glanced at the girl he secretly admired for months, also known as Alex.  “So, are you always out this late, Anthony?” she asked.

Anthony nodded.  “At this time of night, the breeze always feels good.  That and I like to look at the sky at night.  It’s a really nice way to pass the time.” Alex was staring at him.  Anthony laughed, “Sorry, I must be weirding you out, huh?”

She shook her head and chuckled, “Not really.  I mean, whatever floats your boat, right?  I guess I feel that way whenever I go out and practice basketball.”  Alex sighed, “I wish I had more time to do that.”

Anthony continued to tap his fingers on the table.  Every once in awhile, he would steal a glance at her face, and try to memorize the details.  Short auburn hair, white but not pale skin, and a nice, slim figure.  Her bust was a nice size too, but he tried to avoid thinking about it.  He distracted his sexual thoughts of her by staring at the field ahead of them; the grass swayed with the breeze while an old, muddy soccer ball slowly rolled in the direction of the wind.  A child’s Big Wheel had been carelessly placed in the middle of the plastic terrain of the tennis courts.

The couple was silent for what seemed to be an eternity.  He bit his lip slightly:  why did the conversation just die?  He knew he had to say something, before she would grow bored of him and decide to head home.  His eyes were focused on the basketball court a few yards ahead of him when he finally thought of something.  “Hey!  Why don’t we shoot some hoops now then?” he bursted out.

“Hey, good idea!  I didn’t think you were the sports type,” she replied.  “If you think of it, you’ll be enjoying the wind while I’ll be enjoying shooting hoops.  Best of both worlds, huh?” she giggled.

“Yeah, a win-win situation,” he said.  He smiled and was glad that he brought up the idea, even if felt forced.  Perfect weather with the perfect girl.  Nothing could go wrong.

Alex grabbed an half-inflated Rawlings basketball from the basketball court.  “Wow, I didn’t think this was still here.  Nice!”  She tried to spin the basketball with one finger, only to have it fall flat on the pavement, with no bounce.

“Is that your ball or something?” Anthony asked.

“Yep!  I’ve had this sucker for ages!” Alex picked up and embraced the ball.  “I grew up with this ball so I was a bit worried when I lost it.  But it looks like it needs to be retired though…” she frowned.

Anthony walked up to her and grabbed the ball, “Yeah, it is in pretty bad shape, but we can still shoot some hoops with it.”

Alex smirked, “You’re right, it’s better than nothing!”

A female voice came from behind.  “Anthony!  It’s getting too late!  Come back in and get ready for bed!”  His mother was waving at him for the front door of their condo.  No, not now!  Sadly, he knew he had to comply or he would get a lecture the next day.  He looked at the old basketball for a moment and tossed it back to Alex.  “I’m sorry, I guess I better be heading back,” he said.

Alex merely shook her head.  “It’s okay, I understand.  I’ll practice by myself for a bit.  Go on!”  She smiled, which bothered Anthony.  She was smiling, but he felt sadness coming from her for some reason.  He waved at her weakly and ran towards his house, the last place he wanted to be in.

“Man, I completely blew it!” Anthony groaned.  He let out a huge sigh as he looked out of the tiny window from his school bus.  He was informing his best friend Zack, of the unfortunate incident the previous night.

“Wow, you’re actually talking to her now?  I’m impressed!” Zack gave a hard pat on Anthony’s back. “To think, you were afraid of just saying hi to her a week ago!” he laughed.  “But man, your mom has you on a leash!  It was only nine when you headed back home?  The night had just begun!”

“Yeah, yeah.  Tell her that, not me.  Besides, you know how useless it is arguing with her.  She’ll just start her lecture about how now that I’m in high school, I have to focus on my studies more and get more sleep at night.” Anthony replied.  Now that he was in high school, his mother had been pestering him more than usual.  Despite the abrupt ending to his previous night, Anthony couldn’t help but grin. He did manage to talk to his crush, Alex, for a few minutes.

“It doesn’t help that your mom is a teacher at our school either. Man, she was talking to me the other day, saying that I ‘shouldn’t steer you into the wrong direction’ whatever that means.” Zack said.

“Did she really say that?  Just ignore her.  That’s what I do,” Anthony said.  Anthony’s head jerked forward and hit the back of the seat in front of him.  He cursed, hearing some laughter from the seats behind him.  “Looks like our ride is over with,” he grumbled.  All of the students from Peterson High School got up from their seats and got off, in a mechanical-like manner.  Anthony was glad that school was over for the day, it went terribly slow because last night was the only thing on his mind.  Anthony and Zack waved to each other and parted ways.

It was a sunny day out at the Westwood Acres, the condominium complex where he and a lot of his classmates lived.  Anthony walked under a large pine tree to get out of the sun for a bit.  He pulled the collar of his school uniform.  He wished he could take it off, but mother would throw a fit if he wasn’t wearing it when he got home.  The giant pine trees did not blend well with off-colored yellow condos which surrounded the entire complex. The place definitely looked better at night, when all the condos would light up, as if it were a landing strip.

A light breeze blew against Anthony, much to his delight.  He stopped and closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling of the cool draft that wrapped around his sweaty body.  All of his worries seemed to blow away from his mind.

“You weren’t kidding when you said you enjoyed the wind, huh?” He heard a familiar giggle come from his side.  He quickly opened his eyes.  Alex was looking at him curiously.  Her dark blue eyes were really close to his own, making him feel uneasy.

“Oh, s-s-sorry!   I got carried away I guess…I bet I looked stupid, huh?” he asked.  Even if he knew who it was, he was still surprised that he would be talking to her again already.  He would have been happy if last night were the only time he talked to her.

“Not really, you looked like you were at peace.  Even I felt relaxed just by looking at you,” she said.  “Care if I try with you?”

“Um..sure?” he answered.  The pair stood still, and as if on cue, a gust of wind blew by.  Anthony opened his eyes;  Alex was seriously mimicking him.  Her eyes were shut as the wind blew against her short, light brown hair.  She didn’t look stupid at all; in fact it was the opposite.  The wind complimented her beauty; strands of hair flew forward, landing on her smooth, skin.  She smiled gently, enjoying the air pass through her.

“This really does feel nice!  I didn’t think standing still like that would be so relaxing.” Alex said.

Anthony simply nodded; he didn’t have the strength to speak.  He brushed his hair back whenever the wind blew it, making sure he didn’t look dumb.  He made sure he enjoyed every minute of his life right now.

“Well, I’m making progress, I think.”  Anthony said to himself as he entered his home and threw his backpack on the corner of the living room.  He plopped himself on the leather sofa and turned on the TV.  Just like the wind, her presence always soothed his worries away and made him feel happy.  Sure, he was nervous, but it wasn’t like with the other girls.  He wasn’t extremely nervous around her and he had more confidence than he ever had when it came to approaching women.  Most importantly, she accepted him for who he was and didn’t ignore him like all his other crushes did.  There was also the matter of…

“I’m home!  Anthony, don’t wear your uniform in the house, it will get dirty,” her mother said as she entered the house.  Anthony took off his uniform vest nonchalantly and folded it up and went back to watching TV.

“Hey now!  What are we missing here?” Elena asked.

“Oh sorry…” Anthony hugged Elena, adding more force into than usual though.  “Is that better?”

“Whoa, settle down!  You kill me and you’re screwed!” she groaned.  Anthony laughed and let go.

“Anyways!  How was your day at school, dear?” she asked.

“It was alright, nothing special.  How about you?” he said.

“Same old, same old.  Your classmates think they can get away with a lot of things just because they know I’m your mom.  They’ll just never learn though, will they?” She chuckled to herself.  “They don’t pick on you because I’m a teacher, do they?” she said.  Her usual worried tone came in, and Anthony knew he had to put some effort into his response this time.

“No, of course not.  Actually, it’s pretty much the opposite.  I don’t get picked on at all, for some reason.”  He was telling the truth.  Perhaps it was because his mother wasn’t exactly the stereotypical mother but rather an easy-going, laid back woman who would always joke around.  He would always hear stories from his friends how his mother would joke around with them and calling her “the coolest mom ever”.  He used to agree, until she started being stricter with him all of a sudden.

Her mother grabbed the TV remote and hit the “Off” button.  “Now now, no TV until homework gets done, okay?”

He groaned, “Yes, mother…”

“Elena.  Elena!  You know I don’t like the M word,” she said.

“Sorry, it slipped out of my tongue, mother,” he smirked.  Knowing what was coming, he tried to cover his head but it was too late.  His mother had already got him in a neck lock and began to press her knuckles against his head.  “Okay, okay, I was just kidding!”

“Hah!  Looks like we got a joker here.  Well then, son, get cracking before I crack your head!” she joked.

He couldn’t help but smile.  He loved his mother dearly, but she was getting too strict with him nowadays.  She wasn’t like this before, so why is she being all hard now?  Anthony grabbed his backpack and went to his room.  He pulled out his Biology textbook and started studying.  The faster he finished his homework, the sooner he could get out of here.  The second Alex told him about her basketball, he knew this was a big chance to impress her.  Alex took out his wallet; a few crinkly five dollar bills were at his disposal. The textbook displayed pictures of a typical “biosphere”, along with end of the chapter questions involving photosynthesis.  Anthony moved his fingers under each sentence, stopped, and closed the textbook. Photosynthesis…who cares?  I’ll just look at it this weekend.

Anthony left his room and ran into his mother while heading down the stairs.  “Oh, you’re already done with your homework?” she asked.

“Yeah…it was just a few review questions which I was already working on the school bus,” he lied.

“Hm, is that so?  Well, alright.  Taking off then?  Leaving me to suffer alone in this dreaded apartment?” she exaggerated.

“Oh hush, Elena!  I’ll be back in an hour, tops,” Anthony shook his head as Elena laughed at herself.  He couldn’t help but smile though; it sure beat a normal mother.

Anthony left the house and headed towards the shopping mall that was only 15 minutes away.  His mind began to block out his surroundings as he imagined Alex’s reaction when he bought her a new ball.  Happy?  Excited?  Nothing?  Either way, he wanted to get one, despite of the outcome.  He hadn’t been very confident in the past, but his encounter with her as of late has changed his way of thinking.  “At least I can say I tried,” he said to himself.  However, when he purchased the ball, he began to have doubts; the ball felt heavier and heavier as Anthony walked back home.  The sky turned into a mixture of scarlet and purple swirls, replacing the bright blue shade that covered the sky.  Anthony picked up his pace and headed towards the bench in front of his condo, hoping he could see her tonight once again.

He threw his body on the bench when he arrived, taking deep breaths.  His breathing was ragged, no matter how much he tried to calm down.  Girls…they really are something else.   He sighed and glanced at the basketball court further ahead.  It was empty, as expected.  After a few minutes of silence, he decided to go shoot some hoops as it might calm down his nerves.  He grabbed the Rawlings ball and went towards the court.  While he wasn’t the greatest, he occasionally practiced shooting hoops at night, but he couldn’t remember if he started doing it before or after he noticed Alex.   He never thought that his six-month (and ongoing) crush would join him last Wednesday for a game of horse.  The two had never talked before; they only saw each other in the crowded hallways of school.  He figured she was like the rest of the popular girls in school:  perky, ignorant and only aiming to be the most recognized in school.  However he was dead wrong after she talked with him that night.  Somehow, he knew she was different.

Anthony threw the ball one-handed from the three-point line and watched it slam against the backboard, only to completely miss the net.  Drops of sweat began to fall down his cheek.  The beautiful crimson sky was replaced by darkness.  Just how long was he out here, throwing this ball around?  He dropped it and closed his eyes as the night breeze cooled down his body.

Opening his eyes, he noticed a figure was approaching the court from a distance.  Anthony squinted his eyes and a smile slowly grew on his face when he recognized the stranger.

Alex waved at him and chuckled, “I always seem to catch you enjoying the breeze, Anthony.  You must really love the wind, huh?”

He grinned, “Definitely.  What brings you here, Alex?”  Anthony asked, trying to act surprised.

“Ah, I was just coming back from a friend’s house when I happened to see you here.  I figured I’d say hi,” she replied.  “Oh, is that a new ball you have there?”

“This?” Anthony was lost for a second.  “Oh yeah!  It is.  Um…this is actually for you, Alex.” He passed the ball to her.

“Huh?”  The catch of the pass pushed Alex back slightly.  She scanned the ball closely, pushing her fingers into it. “Are you serious?”

Anthony nodded, “Yeah, you said you wanted to retire your old one, right?”

Alex’s lips slowly formed a smile, “Thank you Anthony…I don’t know what to say.  You know, you didn’t have to buy one.”

“I know, but you know…” Anthony didn’t know what to say.

Alex interrupted him, “Oh, that reminds me!  I’m glad I ran into you tonight Anthony.  I have a pair of tickets to a basketball game…I was going to go with my friend, but she doesn’t seem to want to go.  Would you like to go with me?”

Anthony’s eyes widened, “Are you serious?”  He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” she asked.  “Anyways, it’s for next Friday, is that okay?”

“Definitely!  Count me in!” he grinned.  They began to take turns at shooting.  The only sounds heard throughout the night were the gentle hum of the court lights and the bounce of a basketball.  It seemed like hours had passed by without a word being said.

Once again, a voice came out in the direction of Anthony’s house.  “Alright kiddo!  Time to come back in!”

Anthony passed the ball back to Alex and waved goodbye to her.  She simply chuckled and waved back at him.  Silence is golden sometimes.

The days passed by slower than usual ever since Alex asked Anthony out.  He had not seen her since that fateful night, but he didn’t have time to worry about it.  The SATs were coming up and Elena was making him study even more during the week.  No matter how much he tried focusing on his studies, his mind would linger back to her.

On Thursday night, Anthony heard a knock on the door.  He opened the door, surprised at who was behind it.

“Hey!  Are we still up for tomorrow?” Alex asked.

“Yeah, of course! “ he replied.

“Good!  I just wanted to make sure because I haven’t seen you in awhile.  Been studying or something?” she asked.

“Yeah..the SATs are coming up, my mother wants to make sure I do a good job.  You know how that goes.”

Alex patted his shoulder.  Her slightest touch on him made him shiver.  “Well, it sounds like to me you deserve a break, courtesy of moi!”

Anthony groaned, “Believe me, I need one.  Especially since the SATs are-“ Shit!  The SATs are on Saturday morning!  How could I have possibly forgotten?  He clenched his fist.

“Something wrong, Anthony?” Alex’s soothing voice calmed him down and brought him back to reality.

“Oh no!  I was just trying to remember what I was going to say, but I forgot.”

Alex flipped her hair back, “Well, just swing by my place at around 8 o’clock tomorrow, okay?”

“You got it.” Anthony forced a smile.  He shut gently and leaned back against it, cursing to himself.  His exam was at 7 AM, meaning that he would get no sleep or able to do review unless he wanted to cancel the whole thing.  Who would be stupid to do that though?  “Ah screw it, I’ll just go,” he said.  The SATs don’t define your college of choice, plus he could always re-take it.

“Oh?  Is that so?” Elena asked.  She was halfway down the stairs, which just happened to be located right next to the door.  “And where would you be going?”

“Ah?! Oh um…just going out with some friends to do a group study session,” Anthony stumbled through his excuse.  He knew she wasn’t going to buy that, but it was at least worth a shot.

“Wow Anthony, that was a pretty bad lie!” she laughed.  The laughter didn’t catch Anthony off guard.  Elena had always reacted differently from “normal” parents, she would prefer to toy around with someone before scolding them.  “Well, maybe I would’ve believed you if I didn’t hear the whole conversation.”

“What? You heard everything?

“That’s right. What luck, huh?” she said. You know your SAT test is on Saturday, there is no way you’re going to go out on Friday night,” Elena’s tone of voice changed.  She was not joking around with him.

Anthony threw his arms out, “But I’ve been studying this past entire week!  I can’t go out just for a few hours?  I promise I’ll be back as soon as I can…pleaaase?” he threw in his famous “puppy eyes” look at her.

“Ha!  No can do.  You aren’t going to screw up on this just because of some girl, Anthony!” Elena said.  “Also, why should I believe that you will be back so early?  You lied to me about that Biology homework last week.”

“What? How do you know I did?”

“I asked your teacher the next day, apparently you had a couple of things due.  But seeing that you did it anyways, I didn’t bring it up,” she said.

Anthony’s eyes widened, “Are you serious?  Do I have any privacy at all?  Ever since I became a junior Elena, you have pretty much put me on a leash!  Why can’t I go have fun, for once?”

“You can go have some fun after the test!  Why is this so important to you, Anthony?” Elena raised her voice.   “Is it because of that girl…Alex?  You shouldn’t be hanging out with her, anyways,” His mother placed her arms on his shoulders; he squirmed, feeling the pressure of her hands

For the first time in awhile, Anthony was scared.  Elena’s smile had vanished, only to be replaced by a disappointed look on her face.  Her fingers were digging into skin, numbing his shoulders and she was not throwing any jokes around, like she usually would.  She was dead serious.  Anthony could barely look at her in the eye; her gentle navy blue eyes were piercing into his.  However, he knew he couldn’t back down.  He had come this far, it would be pointless to submit.  It wasn’t just because of Alex, some hopeless crush he had, but it was because he wanted to be free, going and doing whatever he pleased, like the wind.  “What’s wrong with Alex?  You don’t know anything about her,” he stared right back at Elena’s eyes, with more confidence.

“I have her in one of my classes.  I see the way she acts around boys, Anthony and let me tell you, she’s just fooling with you.  I know this may sound harsh but don’t try talking to her too much, she would be a-“

“…bad influence to me?  Of course, Elena, everyone is a bad influence to me!  I’m tired of being tied down to this damn place the whole time!”  Anthony yelled.  Don’t you care how I feel sometimes?”

“Look here!  I’m only doing this because I love you and I don’t want you to become like me.  Do you realize how hard it was to get where I am now?  If I didn’t slack off in school, hang around with the bad crowd, we could’ve been somewhere better. You can’t be a screw-up like me..”  Elena’s voice was no longer loud but calmer.  She let go of Anthony and crossed her arms.

“What?” Anthony asked.  “I like it here mother, this isn’t some dump.  And you aren’t a failure either,” he embraced her as tightly as he could.  He could go on, but he didn’t want to start saying mushy stuff.  That would be embarrassing.

“Thanks, kid.  I appreciate it,” she returned the hug and they let go.  “However…that doesn’t mean I want  you to go.”

“Wha-“

“But!  I won’t stop you.  Don’t expect me to change my mind with a hug and a compliment!” she smirked.

Anthony simply nodded.  He quietly went back to his room to study, attempting to make up for the time he was going to lose the next day and perhaps, to show his mother that he wasn’t throwing everything away for a girl.

Friday night had finally arrived.  Anthony closed his SAT practice book and slowly left his room.  He moved as slowly as possible, making sure Elena wouldn’t notice him leave the house.  She was watching television in the living room, making it a perfect chance to sneak out.  Luckily, the back door was conveniently located halfway down the stairs to that led to his room.  Anthony gradually opened the door.  Almost there..

“Are you off then?  See you later.” Elena said nonchalantly.

“Uh…yeah.  See you later, mom,” he said awkwardly.

“You know how I am with that word!” was the last thing Anthony heard when he left the apartment, running towards his destination.

“That kid…just like me back then,” Elena sighed.  She chuckled at the thoughts of that.

Friday night came and went, as well as the SAT tests.  While he was tired as hell, Anthony managed to finish the test with confidence.  However, Elena did not let him off the hook, just like she had said.  He was grounded for a month, forced to do chores around the house instead of going out.  One day, Anthony was pulling out weeds out the front of his house when Alex strolled by.

“Hey there.  Having fun?” she giggled.

“Oh yeah.  Loads,” he groaned.  Alex took off the white gloves, now covered with chunks of dirt and grass stains.  He wiped the sweat off his forehead.  “What brings you here?”

“Oh, I figured I’d say hello.  The other night was really fun.  We should do it again sometime,” she smiled.

Anthony nodded.  “Yeah, though it won’t be for awhile…”

“Aw, you can’t even skip out on one of your chores?  You did when you went out with me!”

“No…sorry.  This might sound stupid, but I feel like I have to do this,” he said.

“Oh?  Alright.”  Alex started walking away.  “Well, I guess I’ll just have to wait until then,”

“Eh?” Anthony asked but she was already gone.  He must’ve been dreaming that last line.  He put his gloves back on and continued to work.  A gust of wind blew his way, but Anthony did not stop.  As the gust blew through, his thoughts carried with the wind, leaving him with nothing but content.

Looking Back: Seven Days

“The best way to get over a woman is to turn her into literature.” Henry Miller

The reason I hadn’t been updating a lot throughout the summer was because I was working on my latest work titled “Seven Days”.  I had started writing this about a couple of years ago but only managed to write a couple of chapters until I got really busy with life.  After I started participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I began to work on it more and focused on in during my 2nd NaNoWrIMo last year.  While I succeeded in NaNoWriMo by writing 50,000 words in 30 days, I had barely just failed to finish the story.  I got the writing bug though this spring and finished it and continued to edit/revise it this past summer.

I’m always bad at describing my stories in person, I end up rambling which ends up confusing everyone.  “Seven Days” is no different but I think I can do a better job here!  The short description would be “A nostalgic young man trying to forget his former love suddenly comes back into his life for seven days.”  Whenever I tell this to a friend or a curious listener, they will almost always tease me by saying “Oh, so is this about you??”  While the story itself isn’t 100% about me, it’s definitely inspired by my relationships in the past.  I have always been a nostalgic person to a fault and I blame my excellent long-term memory for it.  I’m almost a closet romantic.  Combine those two and you can kind of see where this is going.  Like just about everyone, I have had my fair share of rough breakups.  There were a couple of them that really got me depressed for awhile.  Part of me always thought about it (even when I didn’t want to) and I always had lingering thoughts about them from time to time.  Whenever I got really down, they came back in full force.   It really wasn’t healthy.

Around five years ago, I had hit the lowest point in probably my life and was haunted by the worst thoughts.  It was to the point where I was actually getting sick and didn’t want to do anything.  Fortunately, I forced my way through it and met some great people along the way when I was finishing up college.  I try not to think about that time much but at the same time, I look back and think to myself “It was a rough time but I got over it and moved on.  Look where I am now!”  I still had lingering thoughts about things though.

Sometime later in life, I got tired of said thoughts and thought “Why don’t I just write about this?”  I had written about my experiences in a journal or whatnot but what if I made a story out of it?  That way I could express these thoughts and emotions in a unique way.  Plus I would be working on my writing at the same time.  And thus, “Seven Days” was born. “Seven Days” is more of a healing piece for me than anything; I’m not sure if it would attract many readers if I published it.  The contents are more mature than in my first novel so it’s sort of a big departure from the more light-hearted stuff I was writing before.  I have also noticed how much my writing style has changed over the years; I’m getting better at describing things which has been my main weakness.  The writing style is more introspective than anything I else I have written which was interesting to attempt.  The biggest challenge for me was this:   how to make a story with next to no action interesting? If you ever get to read it, you’ll have to answer that for me.

I decided to try a little experiment with this story and departed from the usual way I write.  Each chapter represents a day. Within these chapters though, the main character has flashbacks, mainly from seeing something that reminds him of the past.  Because he thinks too much about the past, there are many flashbacks throughout the story, each portraying a different section of his life with this woman.  While I’m a little worried that it’s going to confuse people about the timeline, I thought it was a neat idea.  I’ll admit,even I had to make my own timeline to make sure events weren’t overlapping with each other and to keep track on what I had written about.  This made revising the story a bit tricky because I had to make sure everything followed in a logical order with all the jumps.  Maybe it will require a second reading to get the full picture but I honestly wouldn’t want to write it in any other way.  Something would feel missing.

Another big difficulty in writing this was not thinking back of some rather unpleasant thoughts but rather how to portray the female characters.  I didn’t want them to sound stereotypical and I was worried if I could make said characters believable.  I also didn’t want to make the story sound one-sided; while it is about a young man who is trying to forget his former love, I wanted to make sure to get the girl’s perspective about things as well.  Seeing everything through the man’s eyes wouldn’t have felt right to me.

So whenever someone does ask me the question “Is it about you?” I usually respond with “Sort of.” It’s a story mixed with reality and fiction.  I’m really glad I wrote it, I learned a few things about myself along the way.  I just handed a copy to a friend of mine which had to be one of the hardest things to do in awhile.  I haven’t shown anyone my first novel, mainly because it still needs a lot of work.  This one is more ready to be read and it just happens to be a much more personal piece.  That’s the point of writing though, right?  For someone to read it.  Hopefully everyone will get a chance to one day.

The next step now is to revise my first novel!  After that maybe I’ll try to write something completely different!  Perhaps something with action or mystery?  Only time will tell.

What I Think About When I Think About Writing: The Mood

I like writing.  However, sometimes I have to be in a certain mood to write certain things.  It just doesn’t seem right if my mood doesn’t fit the setting.  I can’t write about happy things when I’m not happy, nor can I write about sad things when I’m not sad.  I suppose I could, but it wouldn’t come out as genuine, I think.

Naturally, this can be troublesome when I’m writing about stuff that isn’t pleasant. My latest work is about nostalgia and the yearning of the past.  As I mentioned before, I am a very nostalgic person.  Getting into that mood isn’t very difficult but the subject matter isn’t really pleasant.  Needless to say, writing my current story is a bit difficult; it requires me to be sad, lonely and isolated.  This mood does affect my everyday life, but I know it isn’t permanent.  Still, it’s hard because I know the reason I am in that mood is because I want to finish writing my story.  I want to keep that feeling so I can apply it to my writing

It works the other way too, though.  If I’m writing something exciting and fast-paced, I’ll probably be playing some upbeat music and trying to imagine the same tension and excitement that the scene requires.  Happier parts aren’t too hard to write about as I’m generally happy in life.  No matter what though, I have to be feeling the same way my characters are in order to do a good job in writing it.  I’ve tried not doing it but it’s just too difficult to find the correct words, thoughts and dialogue. I have to be in my characters’ mindset.

Sometimes, I can’t get out of the mood once I finish writing.  So right now I’m feeling a bit bummed out because of what I’m writing about. It’s only natural though; I can’t change my feelings with a flip of a switch.  Despite the difficulty of this method, I really get some excellent writing down when I’m on the same level as my story’s tone.  I express my feelings and write things I would say if I was in certain depressing situations.  I guess it’s the equivalent of some actors thinking about really sad things in order to get them to cry.  I’ll admit, sometimes I get a little teary-eyed if I’m writing about something that hits too close to home.  It might suck at first, but the results seem more authentic to me.  I produce writing that I wouldn’t normally be able to if I wasn’t sad.

I’m sure this form of writing sounds a bit of a pain to some, but I like it.  I remember writing about something in the past that was painful and when someone read it, they told me they could feel the tension and helplessness that the scene portrayed.  It made me happy to hear that because that meant that the reader could feel the same exact feelings I felt as I was writing it, as well as being able to relate to the character’s emotions.

I suppose what I’m currently working on is one of the more difficult things to write about because it’s about some of my lower points in life.  That’s on purpose though, I want to talk about it through prose, it’s one of the ways I can express myself.  Talking to someone works too, but it just isn’t the same.  I suppose one might call it a healing piece.  It can be a bit difficult to write sometimes as I’m not usually happy when I’m writing it but I’m liking the results of it.  I’m almost done with it, which is only urging me to continue to work on it every day.  Maybe after this, I’ll find something more happier to write about so my mood won’t be too bad, haha.