26 July 2016

To Those Who Have Gone.




To those who have gone,

The last time I saw you, you were perched up in your little reading nook on the library staircase. This was an odd location to find you in during the waning minutes of the night, but the librarians cherished you as one of their own, and had let you in. Accommodating you was your blue bed comforter, which you had decided to haul five minutes before your mother's automated coffee machine sprung to life in the morning (5:43am) and your fuzzy monkey socks, gray due to age yet a memento you wouldn't dare throw out. The difference between our first and last encounters was that your stature was drained of all the youthfulness that you once carried.

There comes a time in everyone's life where we encounter friction brought between our own wants and society's demands. Words such as "more" and "perfect" slowly weave themselves through the crevices of our minds, meandering through our thoughts and actions. This battle of mentality is one we cannot evade. The fight becomes draining: the little things which you had once enjoyed creating now become the monsters that haunt you at night. You clung onto your thread, clawing ferociously at the monsters, and slowly, their loud piercing screams of pain were overpowered by your own.

Scars were visible on your cheekbones, and your eyes were streaked red from the hours of crying. You bundled up in the comforter as a ball, your socks sticking out, wiggling ever so slightly, as your cried, "I can't do this anymore." I sat there, hugging you, knowing that this was for the best-- saying goodbye does not hurt as much as watching you slowly desecrate into dust specks of who you used to be.

It has been years since I last saw you. You're still traveling around the world, scattering your essence in everything that you do: cycling around in Amsterdam, taking up a safari in southern Africa, visiting Disneyland in Shanghai. I-- no, we-- held on to you and enveloped you in our love for a long time. You said that you had to travel. You weren't leaving forever, you just needed some time to explore. I wonder what you are up to now. Did you lose your freckles? How was the volleyball season for you? Are you on Team Cap or Team Iron Man? Whatever the case may be, I hope that you are in a happier place than before.

---

Author's Note: This is an ode to those of who were previously a part of the old community blogging world. I stumbled upon a lot of my old friends' blogs last week, and a lot of them left for the same reasons, and as a member of the community for over three years, it's hard to see people come and go. We shouldn't forget them, but rather, hope that they're doing okay now, blogging or not.

19 July 2016

Cardinal Points, Volume II


iii. the boy with shaggy hair, north

The boy with shaggy hair and I rode the same bus every day, after school. We each knew each other's bus stops by heart, as well as what each of our favorite sour gummy bear flavors were (his was watermelon, mine was strawberry) and what ticked us off (both of us agreed that Velcro ripping apart and rude or transparent people are the worst), alongside many other tiny snippets of the other's personality. The two of us arrive on the bus at different times during the ten-minute boarding period, but we positioned ourselves to sit near the front, to avoid the rambunctiousness the back had to offer.

Today was no different, despite the lack of the seniors onboard, as the school released them two weeks early. The seat beside mine was occupied by a girl hammering her fingers into her keyboard, updating one of her many social media statuses. As he approached closer to where I sat, I greeted him with an apologizing grin, clenching my teeth to prevent yammering at the girl about hitting her elbows to my stomach. He shrugged and took the seat in front of mine, chatting vigorously to a friend of his in the same row.

This is how we were now-- speaking in silent conversation lacking of any verbal communication, but we understood each other completely. This wasn't much of a difference to our youth and popcorn-filled days, where he hardly spoke to anyone except for the teacher and I. The expression in his eyes, a sparkling vibrancy that he rarely ever inhibited, slowly grew as his conversation grew on and on. "Over the summer, I'm taking an aerodynamics over at one of the career.

This news shocked me a bit, but that was only the beginning of his rambles. "I took a course there last year, and I'm a credit ahead of everyone else. I don't know if I want to join any of the military badges or not," he paused, puffing out a chest full of ribbons and medals from his ROTC involvement, "but just in case, I'm planning to go into engineering."

For years he never truly disclosed his plans for the future, always wanting to keep to himself and engage in any athletic endeavor rather than discussing what laid ahead of him. My fingers pried at the seat in front of me. "You are literally the coolest person ever."

"I know I am." He puffed out his chest, meeting his textbook in the middle of his lung expansion. A laugh broke out between the two of us. This was like the good old times, when our most common saying in communication was not any word at all, but a sound of air ringing at different pitches, a universal way of communication everyone knew. We laughed so hard that I snorted, prompting us to giggle harder. When our laughter died, he turned around and said, "You may not be the most popular person, but you're one of the greatest people I know."

A giant blush ran across my face. As usual, he played everything sweet, but what could I do? The boy was a softie at heart, who did lookout for his friends no matter the small exterior. We gazed at each other and exchanged a grin-- this was how everything was meant to be.

---

iv. the girl with the buck teeth, south

The bell of the coffee shop rang open, and there entered the girl with buck teeth, one of my closest friends and confidants in practically anything we planned. She waved hello at me and ordered herself a cappuccino (with whipped cream, caramel syrup and chocolate chunks) before placing herself to sit across from my seat. Like me, she sat with her luggage beside her. "Aren't you nervous about leaving?" I asked, taking a sip from my tea.

"Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I've ever done." For years, she discussed her need of having to get away from her relatives, who treat her more as a neighborhood babysitter than their art sketching niece. The two of us discussed many ways with her wanting to cope, until she decided to head off to college in pursue of an Architecture degree, only keeping contact with her immediate family. Her dog dozed at her side, wearing a serene expression on his face inside the kennel. "But it's for the best, I suppose."

"I suppose. When does your flight leave?"

"In two hours, but I have to leave in about ten minutes to make it to the airport. Wait a second." She reached forward and slowly released the grip of my fingers. Her tongue ran over her now regular-sized front teeth. Eyebrows furrowed while leading through the pages. "Is this that dreaded notebook you carried around with you when we were kids, 24/7?"

"Hey! Don't touch my notebook." She snorted, but her eyes grew bigger by the time she reached the end of the notebook. "Wow, I can't believe that you ended up writing that much about, you know, the four of us. Even after we all dispersed, I suppose."

"'I suppose.'" I go the notebook out other and dropped it on the table, settling on the page depicting the four of us drawing mindlessly with burnt popcorn sitting at our sides, a burnt staple of elementary school snacks. "Well, what do you expect? We all were different people who happened to coincide in the same place and time." My tea cup was down to the brim. I teased by finger over the edges and gave a small sad grin. "We were the social experiment waiting to erupt, because when..."

"Guys and girls segregated themselves to sit at different tables from one another, we defied that rule, thus beginning a year of trouble. That novelty held for a while. I wonder what made us break apart besides clashing personalities..." That was the question of the century. Within the many years that have gone past, no one knew the answer to the question. All we were aware of was the end-- rocks and harsh words. She lifted her cup. "A toast to being social pariahs?"

I held my drink in response. "Social pariahs."

We both drank from our cups. "So, where are the boys now?"

"Well, the boy with thick glasses-- who now wears contacts, don't you know-- is heading over for military training. I'm not sure what branch, all I know it's on the west coast. But our other friend is being an engineer, and everyone knows a lot of the good jobs come from the top of the country." My eyes flickered over to the time on my watch. 12:38, noon time. "I, on the other hand, will continue with what I've been born to do. Life's been good."

"Same. Look, I better go." She picked up the dog cage, and we greeted each other with one last hug. "We are video chatting once my dorm is fixed, okay?"

"Okay!" I watched as she waved goodbye, nearly stumbling over a group of caffeinated children. Her suitcase rolled out the door and she disappeared onto the street of busy business workers returning from their lunch shift. My waves of goodbye slowly diminished. My flight was about to leave within the next few hours, but for now, that could wait. Sitting here and pondering about my friends' futures was a moment that should be held onto for the longest time. We may be embarking on our separate ways, but knowing our destinations, we were bound to each do great things. 

12 July 2016

Cardinal Points


prologue
Here we are.

i. the girl with the notebook, east
I am sitting in the middle of a boisterous coffee shop,
vibrant with the warm encompassing feeling one feels
laying in the sun, or wrapped in blankets
fresh from the dryer.
Yet the question goes again:
who sits in a coffee shop in the middle of summer
especially if all one wanted was tea?

My hands rummage in my bag,
those fingertips surging a sense of ecstasy,
seeking the thick paperback copy of a book.
The two o' five flight scheduled to fly
to the other side of the country
served as a bookmark.

Funny, I think to myself, 
how I wished to run away from my eastern roots
its morals, principles, suffocating me in my grasp,
only to find myself heading east within the other side
of another nation
that I have claimed to be my home.

Instead, all I find is a black-and-white composition book
similar to the ones used in primary school.
Leafing through the pages, I realize nothing inside interests me.
My glasses shift. I readjust them, then
take a sip from my cup of tea and
boy, did I choose the wrong flavor.
Vanilla chai is too strong, at the moment--
green tea or chamomile would be more suitable.

My eyes lift back up to the notebook's pages, 
paying more attention to the entries
taking time to decipher the near illegible writing.
On each page was a piece of a crummy portfolio from years ago
revealing of who I'd become:
a slowly building artist stumbling across
project ideas too great to fully comprehend--
at the time, anyway.

But my past wasn't the only one revealed in the notebook.
Little did I know that my little "thoughts" and "observations"
allowing me to channel my inner Harriet--
the spy, of course, though I wish to be bold as Tubman--
would make way to little hints as to where and how
the three of you stand today.

---

ii. the boy with glasses, west
"What do you get a girl on Valentine's Day?" the boy with glasses-- my first remark of him the first time we met-- asked me in the middle of the hallway. He still wore the same pair of lenses that he did many years ago. They acted as a gateway to the past; I could almost see a glimpse of the wild, boyish inhabitant in memory. The glasses grew alongside him, the right side slightly contorted upwards at an odd angle in comparison to the left, the chipped color coating revealing the inner gray layer. His grip on my arm, something I hadn't noticed until now, was firm, but harmful. No wonder why he was chosen to be a flag holder during school assemblies. His palms never bore any sweat or calluses.

In that moment, we were in our own little world, pacing at a slower rate than reality. Even the multitude of students, whose faces were often visible despite their scrambles to their classrooms, became a blur. A circle, our small nurturing nucleus floating on a different plane than the busyness life offered, inhibited the feeling of safety and comfort we had felt many years ago, as a part of the "unconventional" quartet. Or so people called us. The fantasy-like novelty of the moment slowly fought against time. I distinguished a few faces from the fast-paced movement morphing into faces of annoyance and disgust, deciphering their thoughts.

Oh gosh. Fingertips lightly pried his fingers off my forearm. We weren't related in that way. "You've been dating your girlfriend for six months and you still don't know what to get her?"

"No. That's just it. I don't know what would make her happy." The math textbook in his left arm sagged downwards, and his stature drooped down to the floor, his back resting against the bottom of the art display. Now the covered whale mural behind showed its spout squirting water. His dejection made a pang of sympathy ring inside of me-- she, his girlfriend, was a sweet girl, after all. With no spite whatsoever, he had introduced me to her two weeks before their courtship and made sure that the two of us were friends, which we easily became. Eyes peered at the clock above us. Five minutes. Tap, tap, tap. My next class was in the library, on the complete opposite side of the school, and the enticing call of books was strong today.

But, helping out a close friend is more important than the fragrance of literature, after all.

"Well, I'm not sure what to tell you." I dropped my books down and joined him on the floor. Four minutes. A crowd gathered at the end of the hallway-- it turns out, a girl had regurgitated the remains of Tater Tot Tuesday. The boy with the glasses rolled his, and his reaction matched mine; the school really needs change up their lunch menu. Three janitors swept past us, cluttering buckets in one hand and a mop in the other, yelling at the students in an angry mixture of languages to move out of the way. "She never said anything to me about what she wanted."

Administration had now stepped foot onto the scene, observing the mess. They began to yell at the mass of students, flicking their wrists and signaling them to make it to their classrooms before the bell rings. I brought my knees closer to my chest as a small group of students formed a slow walking hall chain, causing the people behind them to grovel. "But, I am pretty sure she'll appreciate no matter what you get her. She's not the kind of girl to easily fret that you, say, didn't write her a sonnet set to music and serenade her in the middle of the cafeteria."

A small chuckle elicited from his lips before disappearing away. The boy with the glasses grimaced. "Are you sure?"

I shot at him directly through his lenses, shimmering from the window lights refracting on the frames. "You know I wouldn't lie to you."

There was no comment following those words, but that did not matter. We both truth and the weight behind them. He stood up. His arms stretched out over his head, pushing up his right arm, then the left. Administration panned out through the hallway and asked us to leave, which both of us agreed leaving in a few seconds. The book he had carried with him during the encounter was gently placed back into his hands. "Thanks. This is why you're the best. You know that, right?" He extended a hand out to me, and then I take it, hauling myself back up. I know I'm not the best, but it's not for reasons you think, my mind extolled, but the thought was shoved aside.

Externally, I proceeded to scowl. "You know how much I hate it when people give me flattery! You and, um, you know..." The smile on his face wiped clean, realizing the two people who were being referred to. He, along with the other two, had a rocky past, but what had negatively transpired between the three was something unforeseeable. "S-sorry, about that. I forgot that..."

"It's fine. And anyways, remember: if you have any trouble, guy related or not, which I bet that you will," he said, winking, "you know who to call." Irritation flared through my cheeks-- how dare he accuse me of entertaining myself by the likes of flirting! He knew how much I steer clear of any sort of involvement of any activity affiliated with that idea. I shove him onto the floor, and spat out, "You're an idiot!" He brought his heart up to his chest in mocking-shock. His glasses shifted slightly, more lopsided that usual, and stared me down. My perception saw a small twitch at the corner of his mouth, in a gloating matter, but our semblances could not have looked any more different then. We began to laugh, a combination of snorts and giggles. This time, I lent him a hand getting back up on his feet, right as administration caught sight of the two of us. Our laughter echoed through the hall from our teasing. All of this, of course, in good nature-- we did view each other having a sibling-like relationship, after all.

Little did I know that would be my last time talking to him.

---

Sorry for my absence, everyone! I'm involved Camp NaNoWriMo full swing!

01 July 2016

“I'm Sorry for Not Being Aesthetic Enough.”


There are times when I have the urge to say something important, but I don’t know necessarily how to place them in the proper words, or even which words are proper to write to truly convey the message. At times like these, my hands bounce frantically back and forth between the keyboard, pounding on the backspace button more than I could count. My seating position constantly fidgets for a change, from lying on my stomach next to the ladder, a foreign object intermingling with the room’s environment, to sitting down criss­cross, my back hunching forward, striving to see the keyboard. The small notion clawing itself out of my subconscious is clear. I must write.

In the back of my head, I hear a small little voice, the one kickstarter as to why I have been induced into this writing fervor, squealing to make its voice apparent, despite all the surrounding distractions around me. Finally, after the rumbling of the weekday rush hour diminishes into a faint whir in the background, the message is quite clear:

“I am sorry for not being aesthetic enough.”


Sometimes, when ideas come to a person, the person isn’t immediately able to comprehend what it means. It may take days, weeks, months, even years, to grasp the depth or importance of something that appears to be substantial. Perhaps it may only appear to be substantial, when in actuality, it is quite shallow. However, this idea is nothing close to shallow, and I feel the amount of weight it asks me to carry and to speak of; this is something that has been shaking in my bones with such rigor I can hardly command my fingers to stop typing.

Aesthetic. What is aesthetic?

Depends on how one uses it. I never actually heard of it until I was introduced to, dun dun DUN, Tumblr. 

If used as a noun, it means “a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement,” but under the contexts of an adjective, it “concerns with beauty or the appreciation of beauty; giving or designed to give pleasure through beauty; of pleasing appearance.”

Aesthetic is now one of those words that is constantly thrown across the room and can easily be labeled onto anything that is appealing, such poetry and soft, portrait photography. These are two things which I lack on this blog, which are also things that most teen female bloggers tend to post about. There are times when I feel as if I am a blogging pariah simply because I lack these things. The only reason why I post some poetry or include several silhouette shots is because I view them to be the proper medium for certain posts, and not for anything else.

Should I feel a bit like an outcast because I rarely post these things? The answer is that I shouldn’t, but every so often a nagging opinions would cloud my mind. I feel myself slowly unraveling away from the rest of the blogging community because the way I post excludes me from engaging in a conversation with others who usually gush about how "they can't even" because they "have no words." I'm not like that, but it seems as if people want me to maybe morph and change my aesthetic to maybe understand the linguistic interchange going on. This seems to tie in with my post from several months ago.


Aesthetic is within the eye of the beholder. Each person's aesthetic, I feel, determines the kind of person that they want others to see, which may not necessarily be the actual person they are, a preconception. I may not always showcase beautiful things or good moments in my life. There is a reason why my blog does include the "downs" part, after all! I do know that for me, a part of my aesthetic includes the amount of simple, real things which I portray in my writing, and they aren't always the most beautiful things­­ some of it shows the torturing obstacles in life, and these are things that I write and publish because they are important for me to talk about, in these enormous paragraphs that are very real and direct. Even the times where I have received recognition in any form, from a monetary prize to attending a huge, state-known ceremony, it is always the feeling of being heard that overweighs whatever compliments get throw at me. 

There is always truth that interweaves in my writing, raw and honest; I can't even lie in my own writing because that would be me lying to myself, and I can't stand that ­­writing is my way to be authentic, without constraints. Raw and honest writing isn't always pretty on the surface, but there are bits and pieces which refract to make something that is indeed beautiful.


One's personal aesthetic should not be stifled by others who constrict another's creative voice or expression, and this often is done inadvertently. The constant struggle of trying to fit in with the rest of the world yet attempting discover who we are as individuals is a hard one to deal with daily, and others influence another more than what we think. The period of being a teenager is our time to find out who we are and a bit of what we're here to do. Isn't that the one of the points of this part in time? Now, my moral compass is spinning wildly in circles, whether to conform or not, although the answer rushes quickly to me, in a small squeal:

I do not have to change to conform, because if there is one thing that has been rammed into my head by my college bound friends is that in art, the first person who should be satisfied is yourself. This theme for blogging for yourself has come up many times on my blog, but this is so important for me to try and comprehend my thoughts. The way I blog is my choice, the way I wish to express myself is my choice. I don't know exact who I am, thus the inconsistency of finding my true aesthetic, but I know I will get there someday. Someday. Isn't that hopeful?

While my aesthetic may consist of mismatched mixtapes and literature or candida highlighting moments people wouldn't think twice of until they're sixty, it doesn't matter, because I am happy with the way that I write. That's good enough.