My sister and I communicated by means of a secret language we created. Although I lagged behind her in comprehension, we managed. Go-ke boating was when we filled the bathtub and sat in buckets, floating around the tub. My bucket was white with Pocahontas and a raccoon painted on it. Hers was fire red. Mine retired the day I puked in it because I was sick. Then we shared a boat. Then my sister became modest and wouldn’t let me see her naked anymore, so we didn’t go go-ke boating anymore.

We used to fight over who would press the elevator button. But her longer legs always got there first. I asked her what the bumps under the buttons were. She told me that it’s called Braille; so blind people know which button to press. I asked her what the metal box under the buttons was that said SERVICE MANAGEMENT ONLY. She told me that if I was naughty or annoying, someone would come and stuff me in the metal box in the elevator. I believed her because I was small enough to have fit in the box. After that, I preferred the stairs to the elevator.

But I was never a fool alone.

“Walk faster!” I whined as I tugged my dad along. “At this rate it’s going to take forever to get there!”

He walked faster.

I stuck my foot out.

He almost fell. This was my favorite game.



She too has a story, but she will not tell.

She lies on a long bench, filtering out the sounds of cars, animals, people. Her body slips into the protruding pebbles like a foot slips into sand on a beach. She stares into the sun, orange like the pill containers stacked on her mother’s plate. With breaths extracted like pulled silk, she allows the blossoming red of the sun to press against her eyelids.

Then night cracks open beauty in the form of a breeze.

She believes that the night is exclusively hers. Released from the weighted air of day, she breaks through the vacuum of people constantly bypassing her. She returns to the monkey bars and swings of a retired childhood.

If only people could be tamed without breaking their spirit.

Her body seems to have a memory separate from her mind, as memory veers towards a glorified past. Numbing pain is more difficult than recycling it. My fingers lightly trace over her sensitive skin.

I have a story, and I will tell. I do not live with the fear that history will repeat itself because I know that we can overcome tendencies. We self-define. When we are selfish we become all types of repulsive colors. So we shed ourselves and move on.

Breathe in a world too rushed to do so.

Now, our bodies rest on the stony bench as the blue night overtakes with a dewy brilliancy. We are all inextricably linked under the fragrant sky.

a reminder:

The one time I wanted sympathy I didn’t get it. I was reaching into his refrigerator for the little pink bottles of alcohol that tasted like Florida, because I don’t drink, I don’t want to drink, I’ve never been drunk. He didn’t give any notion that he cared that a twelve-year-old, let alone his own, was falling through the cracks.

Where are we going?

It doesn’t matter.

Mas cerveza.

I hate the taste of beer.

I hated him for his paleness; I countered it with the sun. I hated our eyebrows, nose, terrible night vision, and paranoia.

In our misery, we often fail to realize that we are rulers of our own worlds. We forget to slow down and breathe, forget to look up—not at the underside of the table, but at the clouds tinged gold by the breaking sun, at the waves of blue sky traveling in through half-open windows. Reminders: recognize what happy feels like, remember that it’s no good to be perfect. Because from an aerial view, we are simply tracing over sand with wet toes, lines drawing upon lines.

So take all the chaos in the world, and make it your own, and make it beautiful:

what are you?

what are you? is a common question.
new yorker comes out more easily than american. perhaps in an attempt to dispel the idea that we’re all ignorant and uncultured. or perhaps it’s a declaration of love for my home city.
china. my asian friends complain that this is almost always the first guess. what is with this assumption that all of our faces belong to one place?
what are you?
human. and no matter where i’m from, no matter how exotic you find me,
i do not exist for you to undress me. even if it’s only in your mind, you make me feel dirty with your eyes; i can feel them.
don’t judge me.
what am i? afraid. that you’re going to come closer, and try to press your body against mine.
don’t touch me.
i’m a stranger. that deserves more respect than you’re willing to give.
what am i?
i am me.
and even if i am afraid that you’re going to come closer, i am not scared to push you away

Losing the Climb

Much of my time is spent waiting for the sun to emerge, to nudge my body into action, into productivity. The in-between is spent studying hands, complex like Japanese origami. Each line, each fold has a story. I used to fear that I would lose myself if I scratched my hands, so I slipped my hands into a pair of white gloves and stuck them in a freezer, coming out only to soak in the light of day.

Now I slip my hands into a skin of chalk, and as I glide down into the rock hole, my skin prickles at the cold. My body falls naturally into contorted shapes; my trust in self doesn’t seem to echo through the people waiting to catch my fall. Slow and static, I carry on. Regard the present as a companion–climb with patience and precision; present shifts to backdrop only when nostalgia edges in.

We reach Lost City. Halfway up my rock, hands go numb. The primal need to climb takes over.

What kind of precision can you expect your body to facilitate in an incoherent state? Climbing–inherently dangerous? Body, mind doesn’t care. I can’t complain that I didn’t make it. Close by, there are people watching, fingers fumbling with their pot kits. Disconnected, we exist on the same broken wavelengths. It’s simple: discard the world around you. Then replace.

Ice Blossoms

As a child, I was fascinated by pretty things. This translated into a need to preserve life, to preserve beauty. At the Plaza there was a specie of flower whose face was a white petaled globe. In its perfection it appeared fragile, yet it was particularly hard to extract. The stalk’s fuzz would litter my hands as I fought with its deep roots. When I finally managed to tug it out, specks of dirt clinging to its still-live body, I put it in a plastic bag with water and froze it. My freezer became a wonderland of ice pinnacle flowers in plastic bags. I had managed to pry them from the curling fingers of time.

We must abandon time because time should be dead says Sartre, but time is our backbone. It cannot simply cease to exist: we cannot all live in a timeless world.

What if the incessant rain outside my window was those once-frozen flowers, spiraling downwards, having escaped my naïve childhood protection? It does not halt there– it continues its adventures in dirty, less innocent places.

Character-building, always.

cool solace.

The rim of the tub was cool as I looped my arms around it. Sometimes I would lie in the dry tub naked, sated by the contact of smooth porcelain with skin, inverted– I would press my bare back against its natural arch. Sometimes I let the water run, pounding between my feet, drowning out the noise of lunatics in my head as I studied the unperturbed white of the walls– a reflection of something I would never have. This was how I got to sleep. By lying in the bathtub enveloped by cold, imagining bones breaking and fragmenting. Collapsing like dominoes into a void of space, collapsing into neat stacks of imperfect shards, resilient like black steel.

Here come the waves.

Lungs leaden, legs motionless, my body fights to stay in place. The inertia of crashing water still manages to push me back from the gates of feigned happiness.

Making Chaos (Beautiful)

We often get criticized for not looking at the bigger picture, but in general, we live everyday in a bigger picture, not paying enough attention to details. There are times when you are reminded just how much can change over the span of one day, how beauty can bloom exponentially within the crevices of the mind. The resulting emotional roller coaster seems worth it– character-building the excuse, as always.

I waver between emotions that normal people have, that as a child I struggled to put a finger on. Emotions. The happy ones that used to be reserved only for the distant past: sandboxes, monkey bars, tire swings– the playground. But in the present, when you’re pretty happy with where you’re at, events like these force you to rethink your approach to the world. And it’s nice to know when you realize that you have a pretty solid foundation of happy.

We live in beautiful chaos. Like thrown bedsheets. Or storm clouds pulling away from each other like slow smoke. Some cast themselves to the hot ashes of its blind fire– passionate, scorching, and ablaze. Other find partners in exploring the hidden hollows of its being, finding beauty stunning enough to make them shudder.

Human Dynamics

I like to think that I do not live with the fear that history will repeat itself, because I know that we can overcome. But maybe I live with that fear in the back of my mind, so I have an example for what I do not want to be. I have encountered too many of those people, unhappy and tortured. I’m over the insensitive pricks– the condescending, selfish asses that will never give a damn.

We self-define. We shed ourselves and move on. For it is not brave to live a selfish life– when we do, we become all types of repulsive colors. We’re all just a spattering of paint on a canvas too light to hold our overlapping weight. Just as images are reversed in mirrors, we are a series of opposites attempting to span infinity. We exist with a history of unavoidable repetitions that seem to wind towards the one point where it ceases to exist, immortalizing our magical realities in written existences.

I’ve found that you can tell a lot about people by the way they walk, talk, carry themselves, and fight. I used to think that we lived with this blind belief that we are moving forward, while we are in fact still going in a circular fashion. And it seems especially inevitable when you live in a city of buildings and people stacked on top of each other. But with my tendencies to meander, an optimism has developed that we can in fact stop going around in circles.

We can remember to breathe again in a world too rushed to do so.

Writing itself is a love affair.

It starts off slowly, timorous, tumultuous, like an untested locomotive, but then it lurches forward and gradually picks up speed, becoming desperate and urgent in its desire to claim a morsel of the heart. Through the rise and fall, a solid middle ground is found, and a new work of writing is born. It is a laborious and painful birth, but there are no regrets when the new child is named.

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