he reached for a bottle from the fridge and leaned back, rough plastic chair scraping against the hard cold cement. there were crickets along the quiet streets if you listened hard enough. conversations if you gave a half hearted attempt. and tension, if you didn’t try at all.
his companion shuffled on the ground. “it’s not important,” she muttered under her breath, eyes studying the ground.
he raised the bottle to his lips patiently. “tell me.” as an afterthought, he added, “i have no reason to blabber about it to anyone in this godforsaken place, even if it was interesting.”
“comforting much?” she lifted her head to the sky, eyes falling shut. “i’m… i’m gonna leave.”
the crickets stopped chirping, but they may as well have kept going.
“that’s your plan? just getting up and going?” “yup.”
outside the apartment lobby where the stone benches and worn grass and oak trees were, with acorns nestled in beds of waiting dandelions, where people went to take the air and watch the world pass them by.
i was wondering why you and your mom and brother were wearing good clothes stepping out of the wilson rocket, walking to the flimsy iron gate. didn’t realize at age six that you were coming from the mosque downtown, not the church across the street.
i was wondering why you looked up at a tiny human in stolen tank top and shorts, swatting at bugs and tossing acorns up at the sky, and stepped onto the grass yourself. i saw you from the corner of my eye, but i thought maybe you wanted to play catch or something. i didn’t look at your mother’s face, didn’t look at mine.
but maybe if we both did we would’ve seen that they agreed hijabs and butterfly sleeves were never meant to be.
i was wondering why, as you tugged on one of the dandelions, there was tension in the air, for one brief moment i was never able to experience while i was in it. but a dandelion lay in your hands, and then you came over and smiled.
i’m sorry i didn’t smile back, i can’t look at people in the eye very well, and definitely not at age six.
i was wondering why you pressed the decapitated flower to my grubby hands and giggled, but i waved back as you ran back to your mom and walked away, and i sat there, stupefied, with acorns scattered around me, and i stopped wondering, and i wanted.
i wanted to follow you into the lobby and up the elevator and maybe to whatever number your door was at, play cars and legos the way that kids usually do in 2011 in the complex, and tuck the flower into a straw and leave it forever and we could be good friends and maybe you could come to the park and then had someone to play with in my own floor.
i wondered why the mother gave me a face of stone and told me to drop the dandelion into the ground. her eyes darted from the street beyond the fence to the guest parking lot where the window washers were having lunch and she was in fear. she said to wash my hands with soap and tugged on my back, stomping the flower beyond recognition. we waited to take a different elevator, and we didn’t go out to the grass for a long time.
and i wondered why.
i tried looking for you, but i think you moved. that’s for the best, a couple years after there were alerts in the neighborhood for people who looked like you, and nobody was sorry about the older boys who stepped on grass and never came back, and i wondered and wondered and i haven’t stopped since.
i’m sorry i didn’t ask you for your name. i didn’t know that was something you could do.
i’m sorry i couldn’t form words to thank you. i’ve been grateful all this time.
i’m sorry i didn’t give you an acorn. they were my favorite thing because they were so prickly and i think maybe you would’ve liked how they spun as they plummeted toward earth.
if you gave me flowers now, i would keep them, all cultural clothing put aside. i would’ve given you a really cool rock. because flowers wither. but i bet you know that.
wherever you are now, kid, i hope you’re at peace. and i hope we step on the same grass soon.
(as you can see, man is gender neutral but used here instead of person because the word “person” reminds me of those bathroom signs with the little blob figure and the world “man” reminds me of mulan and, visually, mulan is cooler than a bathroom sign.)
what have you done in the hours that have spanned between this one and the one in which you were doomed to wake up, find some old oatmeal, hope it was decent enough, and eat it?
let’s see, now shall we
sat, for many hours
washed a towel, rather unusually, since towels aren’t things you associate with needing to be washed
texted a good friend about hamilton (hamilton, just you waaaait)
spammed your sister (she is at work, and you are a whole lot of it)
tested a couple of photos on the strange internet sharing site (my goodness, which one)
cursed the strange internet sharing site for ruining the nonexistent quality of the photos
took more photos
hopped from internet place to internet place
and now, through no arbitrary methods such as a schedule or a time, you decide the feeling in your gut is for food, not to actually do anything. lovely.
the fridge holds some leftover rice and meat-thing. it’s stale. the dog whimpers as you ceremonially chuck it out the window.
some strange demongorgom thing or whatever they call the monsters that lurk in the night will probably come and get it, and then mistake it for a peace offering, and then gag at how horrible it is, and then come for your head and take you to a secret lair and force you to eat pineapple pizza til the end of time, but for now, there’s nobody except yourself, and you’re still hungry.
ants crawl at your feet and you stamp to clear them away, these are your house chinelas, be respectful ants.
you open the fridge again and wince as the putrid smell of plastic invades your senses. it’s… it could be nicer. but it isn’t. shame. your eyes catch a square little package, and hope gleams. or is that evil? either way, the jig is up.
next, you smuggle the crunchy plastic wrapper in the folds of your oversized shirt and make sure to close the door before the cat attempts yet again to yap in. wouldn’t do at all, that cat, bad thing. she will enact revenge later, but for now, the cat yowls as you arrive back at your original location and attempt to create something edible.
there’s a tiny bowl on the countertop. you grab it, check if it’s cracked, then slam it back down as you rip out the carefully snitched sustenance wrapper and place a block of pale, dry hard wavy noodles in the bowl.
it doesn’t fit.
after chipping away at the corners, it looks like it can hold water. of course, there’s only one way to test that. you head to the sink and behold, it has not exploded. (yet.)
that taken care of, you put the strange dehydrated carbohydrate with flavoring concoction into the tiny oven of potential zapping death and await the results.
you arm yourself with oven mitts cloth hand protectors and inch toward the smoke and imagined horror.
the moment of truth.
you inhale, yank the door out, and await your death. and behold.
I am a monster of my own choosing. I let the cracks split open and show. I am the one who caused the ruins. I raised my hands to poison my soul.
“Now that’s cheery,” a thin, slippery voice murmurs in the darkness.
The sound of a notebook dropping is immediately followed by surprised cursing, some stumbling upon the cold cement, and the shaky attempts of a terrified child to stand up.
It is night on the rooftop and two shadows lie on the ground.
“W-who are you?” she whispers. Whether she is hyperventilating or not remains to be seen. Her hands dust off on ripped jeans and brush against matted hair, trembling.
The source of the longer shadow stands in the brightness of the moon, face unseen, cane in hand, hat on head. As if this was a quintessential noir film, he drawls his words and walks forward, propping his weight on the balls of his shiny leather clad feet and his arms on his knees.
“Shouldn’t be up so late sweetheart, it’s bad for your body,” he says gently, grasping a shaking wrist. “Shouldn’t be writing such drastic words, it’s bad for your soul.”
In a swift motion he tugs her to his feet, tucking some stray hairs behind her ear. She doesn’t flinch, but she does step back, hands tightening around notebook.
“Do I know you?”
“You should.” He nods at the book. “That holds a ton of powerful words. You’d wanna be more careful with what you will into existence. Maybe try something like the weather, eh doll?”
The girl takes a good look at him— what she can of the darkened figure before her— and furrows her eyebrows.
Will into existence?
Her hands think for themselves and flip the pages of her book to an earlier list of words, just as disastrously written as the latest. The wind turns a chill as the light shines brighter on an old piece of work written long ago. Where, the memories refuse to say.
If I could will into existence. A friend with whom to live with. I would hardly care what they are. The devil seems a good place to start.
“Babe you gotta stop speaking your thoughts aloud so often,” He chuckles, watching the words make little pangs of realization pop on her tired, worn out face. “You okay there?”
She takes an eternity to respond.
“I’m going mental. This is schizophrenia. Or- or something. I’m hearing voices. They seem so real.”
Her words run over themselves and run them flat, shallow breaths working themselves out of her system as she claps her hands to her forehead, the night seeming to swallow her alive. Perhaps it already has.
Another pair of hands wrap around her own. “Now, could a voice look this good in eighty degree heat and a suit to match?” The moon was bright enough for a wink to appear.
“But you’re not actually the…” “No.” “Thank God.” “And you’re not actually a monster.” He places the smaller girl on the ground, sitting as casually beside her, enveloped in darkness.
“What are you then?” She doesn’t address the last sentence. Probably too shocked to believe it.
His coat ruffles in the wind. “Have you heard of guardian angels?” “Uhm…”
if the world ends the day of the autumnal equinox my only wish is that the mii theme music plays in the background. otherwise why bother with all the formality of a finished planet?
the absolute wildcard that is my brain, i tell you.
i’ve been wanting one of those end of summer mundane little recap posts. i don’t know why. maybe it’s because summer this year didn’t really feel like summer, maybe because i don’t feel like the person i was one earth revolution ago, maybe because nothing feels like how it used to be. idk. but i did not nearly die (twice), end up stranded on an island for months, and run in a thunderstorm at midnight to accept that all that happened this summer was endless sitting and staring at the ceiling. i ALSO stared at my phone. variety, people. variety.
anyway you can attempt to pry my stolen discount seratonin from my cold dead hands, i’m going to ramble about the approximately two point five good things that happened in these strange three hours between heat and christmas. as. as a treat.
pull the lever kronk!
i have the range now. not. but if you sing mommy made me mash my m&m’s on repeat for a whole month straight you’re bound to be like microscopically better at holding a tune, yeah? i’ve written a bunch of bad songs heard by precious few and sang some more covers with the same quality, but i did it confidently, so i see no king of averageness up here.
i was a wallflower in the readthrough community (if you know you know and if you don’t know you don’t). that meant an insane amount of judging any skill or talent in the performing arts i’d hoped i had and shoving the doubt inside to cold read scripts of different musicals and plays over video calls with people from all over the world. which normally isn’t like, a good thing because strangers, but also, theater kids. the worst that ever happened was the lag that came from rapping guns and ships over different time zones. fun times.
the amount of content that i consumed digitally is ungodly. i will willingly accept the title of heathen because i refuse to repent for any of it. some of it was through video calling with my siblings and screen sharing whatever we could find— rewatched the first httyd (🥺 help), a bunch of disney shorts (i can’t believe bun cancelled her disney subscription BEFORE the second season of mandalorian) and of course, the almighty hamilton (how. dare. they put that scene with laurens in the blue light). i think we watched a bunch of other things too, but my memory fails me.
on my own though, i saw a lot of really great films that my brain enjoyed attacking and processing, like palm springs (romcoms aren’t my poison of choice, but that was worth it), the farewell (rose rec’d that one and help tears), harriet (CYNTHIA ERVO. that’s it that’s the comment no wait oh, she was robbed at the oscars), blackkklansmen (that one was so much fun to watch), and i saw a bit of finding jacob but i zoned out by the second episode. also the first three episodes of #freerayshawn. jasmine cephas-jones is a queen. and royalties. what an insane creation.
i could go on and on about indie media groups, but for now i’m just gonna say that edgar allan poe’s murder mystery party by shipwrecked comedy is amazing. go see it if you like classical literature and clever writing. i died by episode four.
i relistened to hadestown the whole way through and screamed. orpheus you FOOL YOU UTTER FOOL. and also significantly changed my first thoughts on the show since writing that post about hope this time last year. hadestown displays the tragedy of the myth and of life, but it also invites the listener to believe it could be different the next go around. we need that. orpheus is still stupid tho.
i’ve binged starry a million times and i don’t regret it, and as i’m sure you know, got entranced with half the world’s population into folklore. anthony ramos dropped a really good single! and after seeing the half of it in like march i started obsessively listening to the strumbellas. the tracks are fresh.
i did camp nano. ish? and failed. why is it a highlight?
uhm, it was fun. and i came out of it with a full outline and some words. last year i was mentally stressed, this is an upgrade.
maybe i’ll have better words next year if i live past november but i’ll put a little snippet if i haven’t yet because who cares
At her sinful words her friend vigorously crosses himself.
“Our farmer in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your—“ “OUR FARMER IN HEAVEN!”
The girl is lost on sacred words, she chokes on laughter and collapses to the dirt.
if you are on the cursed site known as instagram, then you’re probably already aware of half the nonsense i pull. some of it has been wandering around this place practicing candid photography, kicking fences, and running away from police dogs at noon off and on. nothing major. i have many cool stories and hopefully half as cool pictures and i’m never going into society again.
i got out of a while’s worth of depression. that was really cool. waking up and not dreading existence is nice, highly recommend.
i started running. i stopped. bugs exist.
there was a powerout at midnight and i grabbed my music player and danced in the dark.
i stayed up more nights than i can remember over screens and message threads and knives and if i’m honest, i would happily give away everything i just listed for those three am conversations about life and deaths and pizza any day of the year.
i ran to the beach, i sup nodded at some fishermen, i got my feet wet.
i saw some friends for the first time without masks and forgot how to human.
i have stared at the sky and gasped at shooting stars. i’d never seen them down in weston.
a few days ago i was riding in a tricycle and this guy by a sari sari store looked so happy so i waved and would you know it, he waved back. so did the next confused people by the street. the way i see it, with both a face mask, a shield, and glasses, there’s no way they can trace it to me. my life of crime is intact.
i’ve cried and relapsed into a load of addictive patterns that will take an eternity to undo. i’ve hurt people. i’ve been hurt. i’ve caused damage. i have scars. i’ve seen beauty and horror in so many people. i’ve stolen expired granola bars from supply closets.
in an effort to make a running joke of my imperfections, i started doodling all sorts of silly things. joke’s on me, now i really enjoy drawing and i really enjoy… me.
like how bluntly crookedly wrong my hair is from having chopped it off twice and the way it floofs after being in a scrunchie all morning. or the specks of gray in my brown eyes that somehow only extremely observant people see. giant stolen tshirts on wiry, actually maybe decent arms. the dumbest dark humor and a killer dead wit. still feel like trash most days. but it’s been nice to be like, “hey, that trash is quite the character” and grin at it with crooked teeth.
that’s been really cool.
my uncle, currently in similarly poor mental health, please pray for his soul and also my forehead, made french toast with actual sugar (i’ve only had the one with bananas) and i think i tasted a bit of heaven.
that’s it, isn’t it? what we’re looking for?
a bit of heaven.
i guess i’ve found more pieces than i thought possible.
anyway! seratonin stolen. please share your snatched pieces of heaven or whatever universal beauty of your choice because we need to spread it around. music recs? book recs? hilarious stories? blogs you really love (trying to follow new people, gotta clean out the shell once in a while)? doubts? fears? threats?
also finally, the bravest thing tito ever happen: surviving philippine heat and a couple dozen heatwaves almost entirelywithout air conditioning.
if you ask God “ ‘sup” is it a case of situational irony or modern irreverence or both or neither?
i think about this sprawled on a kitchen chair at four am. a candy clock pendant is waiting to be demolished on the kitchen table. a bunch of flights got cancelled. a kid left this earth on sunday. depression rests on more than one lonely soul. last night’s dinner was pizza with salad. life is messy like that.
i’ve stared at these walls for 306 days with almost precisely the same kind of absurd thoughts bouncing about in my head and honestly, i’m surprised i’ve made it this far.
when does it end?
when does life stop being suspended from midair?
am i gonna start freefalling anytime soon?
need some confirmations out here, God, anything at all would be great. maybe one miracle.
as a treat.
*stares a little too hard at the sky for five minutes*
aw come on, man, we really need someone to pull through right now.
i suppose i shouldn’t refer to the maker of the universe as a man, but my mind is too distraught to use the correct terms and i will hate myself for the hypocritical behavior later, another time, when everything has calmed down, in happier days.
will there be happier days? when? any answers?
anyone out there?
i guess it can’t be too bad to ask ‘sup as long as you have the right intent. as long as it’s meant respectfully. maybe? is it crazy that we make discrepancies on how to address an all powerful, all knowing, all present being and we barely check in that we can… just do that? no go between, no fill out form, no nothing?
‘sup, how’s it hanging? also please make this work because a lot of people are gonna be hurt if it doesn’t happen and bless my aunt’s cat who’s sick with a cold and also this mental stress really do be hitting hard tho send help
that counts as a prayer?
to be heard regardless of what we come with and how we come.
that probably doesn’t excuse how i barge into God’s office and slam my problems on his desk like it is the end of the world (i mean you never know am i right) and go “ay, you mean what you said, right?”
“bro i got nobody else out here. literally, nobody else. what do i have to do?”
the crickets are chirping.
and then the painfully true realization bonks me on the head:
who the heck am i to bargain with God?
God, who does what he pleases. God, who literally let his son die instead of a world of tiny selfish humans. God, the creator of the cosmos. God, whose sole concept alone has been the object of so many different religions in the world since humans gained sentience?
bonk, tiny human. you’ve got nothing to even deserve this audience. and yet it is given.
i have not come to bargain. i’ve come to ask. beg. plead. for the universe. for the world. for the country. for the district. for the block.
hypothetically speaking, perhaps God’s office has carpet, but hardwood works for collapsing on too.
i wonder what he sees from his seat in this heavenly place. a rough small kid with choppy hair and stolen clothes sitting on the floor waiting for an answer with more stunned silence respect than they previously displayed coming in. is he ashamed? is this old hat? does it maybe bemuse him to watch one of his own re-realize the undeniable truth that they seem to forget all the time?
does he still care?
but he finally answers.
i lean against the walls of a God’s office that is really just a kitchen in the middle of nowhere because he’s everywhere and chew on a crumbly candy pendant.
“you don’t know what you wanna do with your life?” “nah”
“don’t you wanna get married and have children” “nope”
“aw, you’ll figure it out when you get older” “like you have”
what does it mean to be a child in these years of disaster? do we even get to be children?
i have friends that depended on making good grades this year to go off island. now they’re stuck home on their phones, same as me, only they don’t have the luxury of people who are willing to chip in for a flight out anytime soon. for that matter, they don’t have luxuries.
i see kids who don’t have a choice in whether or not they have to stare at a screen, trying to learn but wanting to play, frustration swelling from the online plane within two minutes of trying to understand a livestream, tears after finally ending a call. some of them range from age five to age sixty.
i’ve seen visas and permits expire and waited anxiously with friends who don’t know if their being in country will give them the freedom to stay or danger to their families’ lives.
i’ve seen more lonely kids than the years i have spent being lonely, people in my grade freaking out that their friend is gonna relapse that night because they couldn’t handle the stress of listening to the lashing outs of a child in need of help, kids searching for advice on how to hide their cuts and information and personal treasures that would immediately be seen as trash once spotted by the grownups who are supposed to care.
i have had to give that advice.
no wide areas of skin, make backup emails, delete your history every other week, use a vpn, stash outside the house, memorize your apartment’s stairs route and times of entry.
it got to “record what they’re doing so you have a case when the uniforms come knocking” that i just jerked back from what i was typing and sat shocked for a full minute.
i’m supposed to prep for the driver’s exam, and here i am trying to comfort a kid in case their parents do find out about their anxiety.
why do i have to say that sentence? why do we have to pass advice for how to survive? why are we dependent on our grades to be considered a respectable useful member of society? why do i have to check up on friends to see if their area was okay after a shooting? why do we hear our parents laude so much praise for a system that has shown no respect of life whatsoever solely because they claim they care for the unborn?
they don’t even care for the born.
“all kids’ lives are wanted!” but when have any of us felt truly wanted by those around us? when have we felt wanted and not guilty for existing, for the cost, for our fear, for our lack of skill, for the trouble we assume we make by breathing?
i don’t know how great a world can be in in which we’ve causally accepted our trauma. in which your existence is judged on how many labels you fit and the amount of melanin in your body, but never accepted for the fire in your soul or the light in your eyes or the pen in your hands or the heart that still beats in you despite everything that has gone wrong.
how is that world even sustainable to be an adult in? it’s barely possible to be a kid in it.
but you can’t say that. because everyone already knows about the depression and anxiety and general angst of our generation, and they’ve simply closed their eyes.
and if you jump they’ll probably cry bloody murder instead of ever thinking that maybe they were the murderers.
maybe, there is something wrong with the world, and it’s not on kids being lazy and addicted to their phones. and maybe those kids want to see the world become lighter for just two minutes. maybe those kids want to live their stories and create their art and not have their lives at stake for doing what they could to help. maybe there is unbelievable beauty in treating the human individual and collective like they are human.
maybe kids deserve to be children for however long they can get. maybe their lives matter.
but until that’s a truth self evident and not something we need to chant in the streets, and far beyond that, there is so much work to be done that somehow will be left to us to pick up. because sometimes the adults don’t do the jobs they’re proud of having.
i don’t doubt that good will win. and i don’t doubt the tenacity of people fighting for that good. and i think there will be a day where we can look back at this time in history and marvel at how far we’ve come—
my brain has a failsafe mode during times of extreme stress.
like when good people die and war spreads and so many scary things are happening at the same time, and everything hurts and is broken and nothing seems right and are we going home yet?
the failsafe means not having answers or words. just songs.
so uh. here are some of them.
go in peace, kind people.
Death doesn’t discriminate Between the sinners And the saints It takes and it takes and it takes And we keep living anyway We rise and we fall And we break And we make our mistakes And if there’s a reason I’m still alive When everyone who loves me has died I’m willing to wait for it I’m willing to wait for it
Pain and joy and suffering Failing but recovering I’ll tell you another thing Everyone here is alone So if you are breathing Go home
Once upon another time Before I knew which life was mine Before I left the child behind me I saw myself in summer nights And stars lit up like candle light I make my wish but mostly I believed
In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you now I love you more than you’ll ever wrap your head around In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you the truth I’m everything that I am because of you
Pick a star on the dark horizon And follow the light You’ll come back When it’s over No need to say goodbye You’ll come back When it’s over No need to say goodbye
There’s beauty in the pain Just look deeper No longer the sower but the reaper It struggles like the devil in the heat of day I want to live again so I can stay Before I wilt away Before the carving and decay
Long talks and cups of coffee Waking up and saying sorry Love is right in front of you We can finally see each other if we Stop
I am a shapeshifter, too All of my colors can change if I want them to, Suited for you All of my roots, help me choose who to be I don’t have control of my past, and even though I know that I still feel at fault for the things I’ve been through, I still would be sorry, if it wasn’t for you Please don’t hold me, I wouldn’t know how to let go
Some birds sing when the sun shines bright Our praise is not for them But the ones who sing in the dead of night We raise our cups to them
It’s coming to America first The cradle of the best, of the worst It’s here they’ve got the range And the machinery for change And it’s here they’ve got the spiritual thirst It’s here the family’s broken And it’s here the lonely say That the heart has got to open In a fundamental way Democracy is coming to the U.S.A
~there are monsters and there are men there are monsters that live in your head it is the monsters who shall live in dread, jo~