w

assorted bottles on display in store

w

walmart shopping after work, after the end of the day and everyone’s ready to grab their frozen pizzas and go home.

“uhhh.” you stare at your camera, and then you stare and the rows of mini backpacks that hang before you. your sister slings an arm around your neck and pats a sleek looking black half pint.

“see anything you like?” panic. how are you supposed to choose anything? the idea of getting something absolutely brand new is foreign, almost dirty. everything you’ve ever possessed with the exception of your precious camera has either been stolen from dumpsters or carefully picked from thrift store racks. there’s something thrilling about getting something for your very own, something terrifying.

“the marvel ones look cool,” you mumble, eyes a captain marvel one in the kids section. you’re still a kid, after all.
“unless you wanna explain a flaming superhero on campus, i’d settle for something more discreet.” they rest their arm on your head simply because you’re short and you glower. “or not. whatever catches your eye.”

you pause. “do you mean that?”
“always.”

the walmart is left with one bobbing brown leather backpack and a jojo siwa balloon punched in the face.

so do all who live to see such times

pile of assorted-title books

welcome, welcome, hello, hi, greetings. *waves awkwardly and pushes stray furniture to make room for everyone*

i hereby declare this the meeting of the kids who somehow got caught in all the chaos known as the world. please, please take a seat. i stole some skittles from the fridge, help yourself. keep an eye on the younger kids– all sorts of scary stuff to discover, y’know.

*inhales*

so.

it does not look good out there.
not that it ever has.

some of us have actively expressed our desire for change, myself firmly included. some of us may have even been able to march alongside those fighting to stay alive. some of us may not feel it their place, or might not understand, or might be very confused, or might just want to be able to log onto instagram and be occupied by slime videos, not tear gas. i understand that.

but we all want one thing. we want peace.
so it’s okay if you can’t bring yourself to scream right now.

*at this point i’m trying to find my words and you stare at me in sympathy*

d- do you remember the stories? the tales that filled our minds and have stayed in our hearts? the worlds we traveled to? the characters we grew up with and slayed dragons with and fell in love with and befriended when there was no one else?

like the story of a little hobbit who is forced to venture out into the world and see fantastical things and epic darkness and help some lost refugee dwarves find their way home? and the similarly grand tale of his nephew who must personally destroy the source of all the chaos with his closest friend and a fellowship united for the very same reason?

like a young girl in a dystopian world who incites rebellion against the casual-horror-turned-entertainment-driven overbearing government who’s just literally a teenager and now has to be the face of a whole bunch of angry people and an equally apathetic system?

like a boy who lived in a cupboard under some stairs and his far more adept friends who all have to deal with their own darknesses with and without the people who were supposed to protect them at their magic school?

like a society of odd children who must solve intricate problems and defend themselves against men (well, one or ten, more specifically) hungry for power and control?

like kids who are shunned for their powers and their weaknesses taken in and have to go defend the world that didn’t want them in the first place? like the guy from queens who saw his closest father figure die and chooses to make sure nobody else does the same? like that superhero mom who had to take all three of her kids and tell them straight up that the bad guys wouldn’t hesitate to be merciless and they couldn’t let them have that chance? like a bunch of people in space known as the resistance, ready to die to keep the dark side away for as much as possible, even if it’s as close as in their face, in their sons, in their own souls?

like the crowds of people who flocked the streets, chanting, protesting, fighting, singing the song of angry men, the cry of all the people who will not be slaves again, the aching in their hearts, the beating of the drums?

do you remember?

because… well. guess which story we’re in right now.
and guess who’ll be left to start the next chapter when the ones before us have finished theirs.
and guess how this book feels so far.

we are the reluctant protagonists and antagonists and comic relief and foils and sidekicks in a world that isn’t quiet, not here and not there, and possibly not anywhere. i… i have no answers as to why. or when. or how.

but i know that as much as we want to, we can’t go back to the first chapter. because then nothing will have changed and the bad stuff will still exist, and on top of all that we haven’t even finished the story.
there’s a reason why our heroes are our heroes. they chose to take it on even when they were scared. and now we’re getting ready to do the same. whatever that looks like for each of us, we all play huge roles in this mysterious tale called life.

and well. i believe there *will* be a happy ending. i believe there is justice that is coming and the fires will be put out and the evil will be dealt with. i believe that there is light, whether that comes through stars or torches. because every single story since the biggest story of them all have always followed that narrative. because i’m naive. because it’s worth fighting for.

we have to know how it ends. we have to keep going.

i suppose that’s all i have to say.

i just hope that you leave this place somewhat encouraged. somewhat emboldened. somewhat in tears. somewhat smiling. somewhat ready to raise your voice. ready to fight in all the ways you know how. because the best story writer and all the characters we’ve grown up with are watching with pride in their eyes. and they’re fighting too.

so, dear kid, fill your head with storypower and keep going. i’ll be with you when you get to the last chapter.
and there will be a last chapter.

don’t forget, okay?
okay.

until next time, when we find out what happens.

thus ends the meeting of the kids who got caught in all the chaos. would anyone want some popsicles?

~i have found that it is the small everyday deed of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay. small acts of kindness and love, jo~

yellow

flowers beside yellow wall

when you squint at the sink with the window facing the light, sheer curtains filtering out the sharp glare of afternoon, holding your wet hands in front of your eyes and wishing for the night to come. it’s a blip of a moment of a still day, and it repeats itself again and again and again, all instances individual in their repetiveness.

when you step outside and find yourself sneezing, cursing the blooms that cover lawns and fields and the small patches of grass that surround the highway, the color swarming your mind as you get a big container of liquid that’s meant to erase native nuisances in the controlled environment of your front yard. your little brother picks at the long ones til the sun goes down, walks up to you, and requests a flower crown for his kingdom of superspies and witches.

at the local hardware store, the one that gives the smell of sawdust and wood and home, eyeing the paintchips, fingers running over the cardboard sides, each shade darker and lighter with all kinds of names. one stands out, and you take it to the front, your feet tapping as a can of white paint is pried open, a small smile spreading across your face as color drops into it and the can is slammed shut and spun rapidly. you’re mesmerized, the paint is yours, the card is tucked into your front pocket. the living room awaits its hasty makeover.

being discharged, told that your mind is as stable as it will get, required to live with someone else to deal with the mental stress, aimlessly driving around the backways of the smaller campsite town, watching leaves fall. your tired, sore eyes catch an instant splash of color, and you scream. the car is stopped, and you run outside, gawking at this small, miniscule house, awash in sunflower petals and lemons, waiting to be accepted. the for sale sign seems to sigh in relief.

cramming into an suv, griping about the lack of air conditioning, driving to the largest playground 4 blocks away, your childhood best friend and your lifelong enemy all in the same row as you, booster seats forcing your legs to dangle in the air as you sing a silly song about clouds. the car stops and you run outside, racing toward the brightly beaming slide that knows its lovely shade will get undeniably dirty with muddy feet and child wear and tear. it accepts you anyway.

“be my plus one for this wedding thing, come on, you’re the only person i’d go with.” you cross your arms and look up at your best friend, pouting with the puppy eyes your foster dogs have all mastered. they merely shake their head in bemusement.
“you know what they’ll all say? about us?”
the windows are alight with morning sun, and you aren’t hiding anymore. “so what? let them talk.”
when the day comes you both take care to dress up, bright and formal and floral and classy, feeling like spring and summer held hands.

it’s a new school year in this world of magic, and you’re scared and timid and you write in your journal with invisible ink, hoping nobody ever sees you. when it’s your turn to find a house that old worn hat doesn’t hesitate. your colors are bright, the badger that decorates your spaces and halls seems to be smiling, and for the first time, you smile back.

you smile back.

~i came here to be an aRTIST, jo~

motel room

night. crickets. wind. grass. roads. quiet. pizza.

calm.

school, noise, headphones, book, dessert.

calm.

table, chairs, creaky floors, dim light, hotspot.

calm.

home.

phone rings.

“hello?”

calm.

stands up. table. grabs hand. leaves. closes the door. alone. pizza.

not calm.

heartbeats. dry mouth. empty room. empty plates.

not calm.

look around. tiptoe. peek. crack. sobbing. hands holding.

not calm.

sit back. come out.

“they’re here.”

not. calm.

curtains drawn. couches arranged. pizza unfinished.

“hide here, don’t come out, i’ll get the landlords, they’ll know what to do.”

not calm, not calm.

rug. chair. ceiling fan. blue light. heavy steps.

“are they really here?”

a knock. jolt. fear. shadows. fly.

not. calm.

landlords. family. smile. eyes watery.

“you need to call them.”

phones— 3 of them. ring. ring. ring.

deadline.

deadline.

dead.

shoulders pressed. hands held. they sit in a circle. like a shield. shielding who? shielding from?

no.

“bu-but they can’t legally do that, we have a visa. we have the note.”

“i know. it should be enough.”

peek through curtains. police cars. 4. plus that one.

oh God. God. God no.

hands crack. shoulders heave. breath short.

not calm.

“this isn’t happening. we made sure you were legal.”

“w-what are the words again? i… i am using my…right to remain silent? i can’t remember, god, i can’t remember.”

throat tight. mind racing. people. so many people. small home. easy target.

“you’re not even packed, you’re not even meant to go, what, what the hell are they thinking?”

not calm.

ding-ding!

wait. wait. wait. wait. no no no no, this was not supposed to happen, no, you don’t understand, no–

finality. tears. pain. frantic text.

“if they’re taking you, we’re coming too.”

not calm.

door. open. cop. them. them. evil eyes looking, searching, unwilling.

talk. palaver.

“but… but they’re not even packed, because they were never supposed to lea–“

“we’ll wait for her.”

the papers weren’t enough.

cop. dull. gun. gun. gun. gun. God, do they even need guns? God, why are they here? God, where are you?

not calm.

backpack. crammed. memories. for good luck. lies. hands tight.

“say goodbye.”

WAIT, NO—

NO
NO

NO

“don’t try to run, do you want to get in trouble?” rough. hands. yelp. dodge. backpack.

choke. salt. tears. “goodbye! i’ll see you later! i’ll see you later!”

tears. tears. panic attack. family. call for mother. mother does nothing, she doesn’t know how, she can’t move.

wailing. shrieks. grief.

“i love you too! i love—“

car. door. open. push. pungent.

“stop screaming”

“stop it”

“quiet the **** or i’ll quiet her”

NOT CALM. NOT CALM.

dark. dark. red. whirl. trees. road. tears.

drive. tires.

the pizza wasn’t even finished yet.

silence. shock. window. open. large. unbuckle seatbelt. reach for–

car jerks to a stop.

hotel. empty. lights. parking lot. cold. chill. crickets. fire. people talking. night. luggage.

“no, you don’t need your backpack, just use your hoodie on the floor. it’s carpeted.”

automatic doors. smells. friendly receptionist. tears. smile. big smile. big big smile that doesn’t do anything but smile.

elevator. musty room. trapped.

ding!

walk. breathe. stiff walls.

room number 125.

motel room.

not home.

not calm.

not calm not calm not—

run this town (cause someone’s gotta do it)

no i haven’t been taking original shots i’m on quarantine sue me

a gen z (?) reviews the millennial commentary on a chaotic period of recent history

Traverse City Film Festival - Run This Town

what am i doing?‌ a review?‌ me? who thought this was a good idea?‌ who let this happen?

looks around

eh.

anyway.

Run This Town (2019) - IMDb

so there’s this movie that came out last month (right before people could choose to ignore each other) called run this town. the angels that walk this earth known as mena massoud and ben platt join an already stunning cast in a little indie piece inside toronto’s big mayor scandal deal thing of a few years ago, which probably literally nobody here reading this would care about, since it died fairly quickly. it ended up being the test run for 2016’s media feud with yet another heavyset, problematic white male in office (because america thrives on chaos), but as far as i can remember, it didn’t make much of a landfall.

its story has now been reincarnated into an introspective action drama that walks the line between being historical and fictional. and it does a pretty ‌good job at playing both fields.

i say that having grown up in the same “priority” streets our characters run through, walking into the same buildings they do, hearing all of the uproar on the news same as everyone else, but not really understanding any of the situation to make any fair conclusions. because you don’t really think about the implications of the mayor of your city being charged with abuse when you’re in grade school. (and you really shouldn’t.)

so revisiting this time in history knowing what i know now through run this town’s microlens was eye-opening. as pieces like this tend to be.

~

Run This Town (2019) - IMDb

run this town takes a very blunt, very personal style. from framing almost all their shots to just a person’s profile and using unnoticed, almost unfamiliar angles to the plain, no nonsense dialogue that seems to pass back and forth so realistically it’s almost disconcerting, it really does follow the in the vein of reporting shown onscreen. information is shown in a get-in-your-face, mic and camera, yes or no way that probably would be boring without the diversity of all the characters onscreen.

that’s the next thing i appreciated and wanted to mention: run this town paid attention to toronto’s different ethnicities (something often unheard of in this era of american driven media) in a natural, beautiful light, and it’s something i miss as a second gen filipino immigrant. seeing kamal talk to his grandma in their lower class flat and bram’s family greet each other with mazel tov, as much as people may accuse of being token diverse, are things i grew up with and wishing it was shown in films, and now it is. so i thought that was cool. all the scenes showcasing toronto were delightful as well, because not only are they showing the city, they’re going back a few years in showing it. as with any older piece, the attention to detail is outstanding. they really did their homework with this, and i’m here for it.

while this features the story of a bad leader who did bad things, it isn’t so much about rob ford as it is regular, common people and the struggles they still face by the actions of someone with unchecked privilege. it’s about the hardworking son who erases his accent so nobody can accuse him of being that immigrant stealing a government job. it’s about the capable, strong, intelligent woman facing harassment and small (mostly male) minds in her field. it’s about the kid trying to hold down a career that isn’t working because the adults just handed them participation awards without giving them opportunities to go for real goals. it’s about a dangerous cycle of regulating free speech by subtly shoving it down rabbit trails, while covering up important issues like what the what our government leaders are even doing. there’s so much to unpack and so many themes in such a small amount of time that it really shoots its shot. and i respect that.

so.

is it too woke?

is it trying to rewrite history to appear more out there and more radical than it actually was?

is it even worth paying attention to?

that’s something that should be decided for each person with as little bias from outside sources as much as possible, i think, because these issues can only be addressed by actual learning about them for yourself, not by the shifting opinions of people around you. run this town brings it to the table to discuss, but it’s up to the audience to choose to sit at it.

i definitely admire the film, and i hope more people see it, because what better time to have a conversation about society then during a period of isolating from society?

and that is that on that. 🙂

that wasn’t gen z enough was it?‌ way too intellectual?‌ fine, i’ll dumb it down to appease the adults who are uncomfortable with teenagers analyzing things with gravitas.

*clears throat*

it was d o p e

go see it

ben platt is babey

mena is amazing

and the music was fireeeeeeeeeeee

~give those kids and me the brand new century, jo~

the tracks go on forever (a clara and jo story) part 2

woman in gray coat walking on railway

if you’re reading this, than i assume you’ve already gone over to clara’s (new!) blog and read the first part of this story, i also assume you’re dying to read clara’s part because she is way better at this than i am, and lastly, i assume that if you have no clue what i’m talking about, you’ll hop over to midnight mind and check it out for yourself. yes? yes. yes!

enjoy. 🙂

~

How long is a mile?

Yeah, you should probably know that. However long they are, you’re guessing there’s maybe several thousand between you and home. Maybe more, if your estimation is off.

Everyone warned you about homesickness. The tightness of your heart, the longing, the wanting to drop everything and run back to the place that feels like comfort.

You haven’t felt it once. 

You feel slightly guilty, but you push that thought away, because why should you be? You’d been dying to get out, and now that you’re out, you’re dying to stay this way. 

The sky looks wide open, like someone took a knife to the clouds, and now they’re bleeding all over a canvas of pale blue. You tug on your sleeves and shiver, but you don’t mind the cold. It’s so warm back home, with things always humming in the trees at night, but here the world feels remarkably clear and bright in its coldness.

You keep thinking back home, but really, is that how it feels? You’ve been here three days, and already you recognize the shape of the moon sliding shyly along the horizon. You remember the colors of the sunsets—two pink and one blood-red so far—and you know the way to your hotel room, which is the only thing you don’t like about this place. Your room before was quiet at night, and though the silence suffocated you at times, you were always able to sink into a peaceful rest eventually. Here, the mattress makes strange noises, and people laugh and shout in the parking lot at two am, and sometimes you don’t close your eyes all night long. 

You just stare at the ceiling and wonder about things, and suddenly the sun is rising, and your head is pounding with heavy exhaustion.

Then you roll over in bed, and someone small is curled close beside you, and you see your parents breathing gently in the pale light of morning. They look so peaceful for a man and woman who are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.

A cold wind cuts through your clothes, tugging you back into the moment, and you smile a little, because you’ve found the answer. They’re home. Your parents’ brave voices, your little siblings’ hands in yours, holding tight to each other in a thousand different unfamiliar places, laughing when it should be impossible—

A voice calls your name. Your little sister is running to you, telling you that you’re supposed to come inside, that it’s not safe in this parking lot, her small voice shaking a bit in the cold. You swing her into your arms and run for the hotel lobby, and you’re both laughing in the sudden warmth of the little yellow room as your mother comes around the corner, trying to look stern, but her eyes are smiling as she takes your sister from your arms.

You follow her into the elevator, and as the heavy doors slide closed, you catch a last glimpse of the sunset through the lobby windows. The image stays burned in your mind as you jolt upward, the flashes of color in the dying light trapped behind your eyes forever.

You wonder what tomorrow’s sky will bring.