The world is flat, and everything within it lacks depth.

The world is flat, and everything within it lacks depth.

On a thick, spongy bed of luscious green moss, she begins to walk forward toward a forest of aspens. From the front, which ends up being the direction upon which the trees are being gazed, the trees take on the exact appearance and feel of trees, but from the side, which forever remains hidden, they are as flat as blades of grass. Smooth in their unique texture, she closely examines the front of a trunk. The tree looks like a tree, she thinks to herself. She places her right palm upon the flat trunk of the tree, the tree feels like a tree, in its powdery texture. Soon, the tree begins to warm to her touch and within an instant all of the green, bright, heart-shaped leaves turn a blazing gold, and all at once, the leaves shower her as they crinkle and crunch to the ground around her feet. A white, dusty film coats the inside of her right hand; she rubs the palms of her hands together. As she makes her way through the forest of flat aspens, the leaves rustle in a cool breeze. She continues to walk as the flat world moves below her feet as if on a conveyor belt and soon realizes that the trees blanket a shallow mountainside. Never lessening in density, the forest of aspens soon comes to an abrupt end. She takes in a deep breath of crisp air. Just beyond a lush field of what looks to be paper cut outs of wildflowers sits a small glimmering lake; she shields her eyes from the glare and glistening light that bounces.

The sky above, as if painted wallpaper, expands and contracts the flattened, billowing clouds that blow about a sky blue backdrop. In vain, she searches for the sun that lights this world. As her eyes scan the sky directly above, her right eye catches the glow of a large, white, three-dimensional rectangle that hangs high in the sky just out of the reach of her right hand. An odd illusion the shape makes in the flat vastness overhead. She makes her way forward through the field of flowers while she keeps the floating shape to her right. Curious, she reaches down to pick one small stem with a beautiful purple and white flower atop it. The flower, being the shape of a bell-round-flare lampshade, weighs down upon the stem and opens up facing the ground, What a pity, which creates a beautiful curvature where the stem becomes flower. The stem and flower are as flat as paper, indeed, but the flower moves organically within her finger tips. Slowly she raises the stem to her face, pinching the front and back of the stem with her thumb and forefinger. The flower looks exactly like a cutout, but as she turns the stem between her fingers, the shape of the cutout changes to mimic the changed perspective upon the flower as it rotates. Fascinating, she thinks with a slightly detached grin. She continues to walk toward the lake as she picks and plucks the stems of various flowering and leafy greens until she holds a bouquet that can barely be contained with only one hand. The lush field begins to turn into a rocky beach.

Bouquet in hand, she finally reaches the water’s edge of the lake. The water coolly laps upon the pebbles. At this perspective, the far end of the lake sits at about hip height. Across the lake she sees sandy-looking beaches that open into a grassy field which lead toward rolling hills covered in low brush and dwarf, coniferous trees. A glance down at the bouquet in her hands, she tosses the entire thing into the water. The foliage scatters. After a short minute’s thought, she climbs over the lake to the other side. Unscathed except for the hem of her dress that’s now soaked in water, she stands on the other side of the lake and looks back over to the wild-flower field and mountainside of thin, tall aspens. Gracefully she turns on her heels to continue moving forward. A glance upward for direction, the white rectangle still floats on ahead just off her right shoulder, the clouds change form, the sky remains blue.

Forward, she walks upon a sandy beach. The grains of sand let out a song with each step of pressure applied upon them. She stops, That song. Quiet and still, she hears nothing but the breeze whistling through the elements that attempt to refuse its passing. She takes one slow step with her left foot. A few slow notes ring out from beneath the foot. She quickly lifts the foot, and the notes cease. Softly, pressing just her toe now into the sand, the grains sing out softly. Ah ha. She begins to stomp around the sandy beach like a small child. Frantically, the grains of sand belt out a chorus of delight, exhilarated by the sustained pressure of her feet. The world blinks. The grains of sand go quiet as she stands forever still. Up to the sky she looks as the white rectangle turns a deep red. A hushed gasp sweeps over the grains of sand. The rectangle returns to its colorless self. She looks around for any inkling of change. Nothing. Reminded of the blithe song of the sand, she begins to stomp around the beach once again. This time, however, the grains refuse to sing. She stops, All is well. The world blinks yet again. Immediately, she looks to the rectangle as it shines a deep blue. The grains of sand rise and float like gold glitter just above the ground at just about her knee height. Forward, she hears a voice that’s not her own in her mind. As the rectangle becomes colorless again, the grains settle down as sand on the beach. Move.

The world—still flat—trudging through the grass field, as she steps upon blade after blade of grass, the grass pops back up, stiff, easily swaying in the breeze. She takes a quick look back. And then, as she reaches the edge of the dwarf-sized forest, she hears a song emanating out from behind her, The sandy beach. She dares herself to not look back, and continues on into the forest. The forest, however, consisting of inordinately small trees that stand not much taller than her, give little to no cover in which to hide. Thus, upon entering the forest, she decides to turn and take a look back toward the beach. The grains go quiet. She sees no one. Mox. “No!” screams a voice at such a volume that every bird in the dwarf-sized, coniferous forest bolts into the air and swarms overhead turning the world just below into a dark, ominous night.

A crack of violent thunder. The sound a tree branch makes when a branch breaks sears through her ears. “Mox!” she screams as she attempts to catch a glimpse of him through the ominous dark. “Don’t!” the same voice from before shouts in response.

“Don’t come back here! It’s too late!”

“Where am I?”

“Just go! Now!”

Without hesitation she turns and run furiously through the miniature forest as needles poke and branches slap. She can see a clearing approach within a few more meters where something is lighted so bright only a fool could miss it. A biting, scorching sting burns cold and then hot across the right side of her face. Thrown back a step, the world turns to pure light. She falls in the direction she understands to be forward and hits the ground hard, face first.

A dusty room coagulates around the edges of her eyes until the face of the old man comes into sharp focus before her. How dare you. “That wasn’t me,” the old man shrugs as he shakes his head, “But I do know who to blame.” Who. “But you know.” She sits silent, thoughtless in the purple wing-back chair. The old man walks to the window to have a look, “Tell me what happened.” But you know. “I cannot see what you saw.” Of course you can. “Fine. Where was that place?” Just stop. “Fine,” the old man concedes as he begins to pace the room. How … “You arrived here two days ago.” Did … “Yes, once I realized that you were not going to come back earlier this morning.” How …  “I followed you.” So … “Correct.” Then where is he? “I truly thought that you knew.” I should just … “Yes, I’m afraid I am not going to be much help to you at this time.” Yes. Thank you. “I look forward to your return,” the old man states sincerely as he stands before her once more, “I packed up a few sandwiches for you.” Thank you … I don’t mean … “They are fresh. I had Uldin run out for some foods with which you are more familiar,” the old man continues as he walks toward the kitchen area. The man … she begins as she follows him toward the entryway. “Yes. He, too, was anxious for your return. Apparently, there have been more than a few requests for your services,” the old man conveys as he hands her a small canvas duffel full of food stuffs.  But … she starts as she reaches for the duffel with both hands. “I agree. You should probably refrain for the moment.” Well … “I know. Goodbye.” Don’t … “I swear. I will wait for your return.” Thank you. “No. Just,” the old man grimaces, “Just don’t come back until you know.” The narrow eyes of the old man pierce through her face as the sting of his slap burns once more on her cheek. “I’m sorry for that.” I understand. “I will see you soon,” she speaks aloud as she begins her ascent over the garbage-filled entry way. “Sooner than that,” are the departing words of the old man as he disappears into another room.

She makes her way over and down the heaping pile of trash, onto the landing. The freshness of the air outside the old man’s building slaps her face hard and ramifies the burn upon her cheek. Looking around, she has no idea where she is or where she ought to go. A park bench sits in her immediate vicinity. She walks toward it and sits down, the canvas duffel on her lap. Curious, she opens the bag to find a few days worth of sandwiches and snacks. Most of the food she has never seen before, but she does notice a shiny red piece of fruit, apple. She snacks on the apple for a short while and then searches the bag for something to drink. Thirst is really the sensation that’s currently bothering her. The bag is void of beverages. At least the apple is juicy. Overcome, nevertheless, she stands and waits for her feet to take her wherever she ought to go next. Home. But her feet know otherwise and walk in the opposite direction of her apartment, unbeknownst to her.

Her feet walk and walk for distances that seem unreasonable to her given the nature of the confinement of orbital living, unless, of course, the scale of an orbital is lost on her. She decides that knowing would be preferable. In an attempt to understand exactly how large is this world in which she currently exists, she determines to walk until she can walk no more, or at the very least, until she runs out of sandwiches. In essence, she concludes, I shall walk until I know whatever it is that I need to know.

Continued every Friday, until The End

The Role of Ugly Babies in the Universe

The Role of Ugly Babies in the Universe

There’s nothing better than karmic unfolding in the form of ugly babies. Back in the days of my grade-school youth, I got in trouble for writing a note about the principal’s daughter. This same daughter was also caught writing notes, but of course, she did not confess to the note (even though the entirety of the class knew and said that the note was hers) thereby bypassing any reprimands. The saddest part about the whole situation was that my note was about her—a spoiled, bitchy, privileged, “pretty” (for a white girl) albeit overweight (except that she was anorexic and still managed to be overweight somehow), white girl who was psychologically incapable of being nice.

Case in point, the two notes. I wrote about her, about how terrible of a person she was (and still is) through her actions and behaviors that make everyone aware of how much better she is than everyone else. The note that we all knew that she wrote was about the student who struggled greatly to keep up with all of us academically. He was, essentially, a special needs student as he was many years older than us, learned at a slower pace but who would eventually be able to live a mostly-independent life. She wrote a scathing, nasty, hideous note about the most vulnerable person in our class, and we all knew that she did it because we all saw the note at some point (the least popular among us at least heard about it). Nobody will ever convince me that she is a good person. Who you are inclined to be in your youth (high school) says so much about who you are, who you will grow up to be. It doesn’t say everything, obviously, but it says a lot. How many people do you know would write terrible things about a classmate who struggles the most? Exactly. You know the type of person who would do this. Would you be friends with them at any point in life? Exactly. You wouldn’t.

But most people do not know the true nature of this daughter because most people whom she knows now did not know her until very late in her high school career. And those who do know her, overlook anything that might be unsavory because she is “rich” and “well-connected,” and yet, she’s done little to nothing with her life, so I’ll never “get it” when it comes to this woman. I know her, however, and I will never forget.

And so, I dedicate this short (due to the holiday season kicking my ass) report to this bitch of a nightmare, and I rest peacefully in the schadenfreude-like gladness that her twin daughters are ugly as fuck. And the fact that they’re ugly is unfortunate for them, but that’s what happens when your mother is the worst type of person—mindlessly privileged, white, suffered no consequences for wrongful actions. Karma is a bitch, but she’s fair. And so, when I think back on my grade-school years and how this woman has grown to basically be exactly what everyone expected—better than everyone, holier than thou, seated upon a high horse looking down on us, giving us “advice” and “knowledge” about how to live life and/or be “woke”—her ugly-ass babies represent the true fairness of life. Perhaps it’s unfortunate that her babies are ugly (and of course I understand how petty it is to talk about ugly babies), but perhaps this is karma’s lesson to her family. Since her girls are going to be f-ugly (they’re old enough now that they’re not just baby-wrinkle ugly; they are fucking ugly), perhaps they’ll have to actually develop some sort of personality that is more appealing than the way that they look. This is karma’s perfect unfolding around the necessary development that this grade-school acquaintance must endure (also, she posts selfies with narcissistic regularity).

The Island of Isla

The Island of Isla

Where the temporary thrives,

all else ought hide.

For where the temporal achieves,

there much is bereaved,

and then all is lost

but at just what cost?

To a bridge lit ablaze,

from deep shouts on a chaise,

the chandelier turns each bauble,

as cries ring, sing and squabble,

to speak of the secret transitory,

overwhelmed by the lies of their story.

He remembers a time, so faint yet so lit, in the distance just beyond his grasp like smoke that flees in every direction away from whatever birthed it, which really means that a thing made of itself, unto itself finds itself repulsive, like the snake who sheds a paper replica when it grows beyond the means once known to it, to no longer be unlike the rock, unmoved unless moved by an outer force over which the rock itself has no control, for as a rock, to be shaped demands the infliction of something other than itself, to no avail, and without the purpose of knowing anything within itself, the small fragment of an imagination lost in the glow of a thing that does not exist unless something looks upon it, and even then, a malleable piece of fruit erases anything unwanted, every antipathy, but hate equates love with the unnecessary toil to be seen against only something that contradicts the wanton existence, like black and its nemesis, white, for to tell a tale about time is to tell a tale about nothing at all, since, according to him, all things only exist against the telling of time, therefore, without it—time—there nothing can nor may be anything but nothing.

Nevertheless, beyond that he sees only the dark, silken stream running slowly down her back from the crown of her head. Immobile, if only temporarily, he forgets to breathe. A twitch, the small itch on the outside of his left ankle saves him as he almost loses sight of her. He runs, but not to catch her. He follows, but only to know her.

For weeks, he cannot recall, perhaps even months, he watched every move to which he was privy. For endless distances, unknown to him, he traveled the depth and breadth of numerous orbitals to step in every step of her movements, to witness every action of her being, to know every moment of her waking. What he did not know could not be known. At that time, however, what he knew meant everything. Obsession, he tells himself, no, something else entirely. Isla, he overheard one time, “Like -iss as in hiss with a ‘la’ like to sing,” put a name on the being he so frequently sought.

Isla’s silken hair, nevertheless, proved difficult to catch. At every moment, at every turn, her hair was on the move. Every day filled with activity and experience all in the name of living life to the fullest, to smell those roses. But stop!, he would sometimes shout at no one, You’ve got to stop to smell those fucking roses! Isla being the traveler who supposedly traveled to see the world, but then an odd little thing happened where she ended up traveling the world for the world to see her. Like a tourist who never actually builds a life in the place where she lands, but rather, who stops only long enough to take a picture of all the people who live each day for her entertainment.

Soon (or maybe it was years) he realized what Isla had, and sadly, it was not much: a series of photographs to mark the passage through each new place, “a collection of memories” (as per her bio) to share with strangers she’d futilely meet along the way. The ego of the go-getter, the wanderer, the perpetually lost, albeit, according to them, on purpose, must be a powerful thing to behold. No longer intrigued by the lone Isla, he finally approached her to ask only one, simple question.

Perched alone at a rooftop restaurant that overlooked the rhythm of a halcyon sea, with the strung light markings of platitude, as servers preserve table-top candles that blink in that way that makes people feel as though they ought to be entranced, Isla sits in a pair of red heels that present her as adventurous, a backless dress to reveal her female confidence, that silken hair in just-off-the-beach waves. Slowly, he cogently walks toward her and sits across from her in the one remaining open chair of the two-top bistro setup. Taken aback and slightly on guard, Isla states while attempting to ooze her sexuality, “May I help you?” “Yes.” “Well, get on with it then,” Isla prompts through an ever-rising anxious air as her right hand rests on her lap as the tips of her middle and thumb fingers press the anxiety from her mind, while her left hand gently spins the chalice of wine around its base. “You will die tomorrow,” he begins, “Did you find what you’re looking for?” The faint movements of Isla’s hands stop altogether as her eyes begin to focus on him more closely, in a voice half filled with humor, half filled with confusion, “Excuse me? If, I die …” she attempts to clarify only to be cut off. “You will die tomorrow.” “Please leave me alone, sir. I would like for you to please leave,” Isla states with finality, on the cusp of standing so that she may leave if he does not. “Just think about it,” he says while rising and excusing himself from the table.

A server walks by to hand her a check. Isla stops the server to pay him immediately. “It’s already been taken care of, ma’am. This is your receipt.” Isla grabs at the elbow of the server as he begins to walk away, “Have you ever seen that man before?” “What man?” “The man who was sitting across from me just here. I assume he is the one who took care of my check?” “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I don’t know who you’re talking about.” “There was a man just here. Sitting across from me.” “Was there? I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t see him.” “Who paid for my check, then?” “You did. This is your receipt.” Isla scrambles for the receipt to read a vague line item list of her meal. As she places the receipt on the table the receipt pops into a puff of small smoke. “Of course,” Isla sighs in frustration. “Is everything alright?” the server sincerely asks. “May I have another copy of my receipt?” “I’m sorry, ma’am. We only give the one copy. You’ll have to wait until you get home to print off the memory.” “Yes, I understand. Okay, thank you,” she states dismissing the server. Of course I suppose I’ll have to print off more than the mere receipt, she thinks to herself, and yet, she makes no attempt to make her way home. Suddenly overwhelmed by a memory of an exchange that she knows for certain transpired, a flash bursts through her eyes as everything she had experienced over the past day or so furiously rewinds itself before her.

“Isla,” the voice whispers. “Isla, wake up,” the voice continues as the sound diffuses throughout her mind. Barefoot, Isla feels the cold hard ground beneath her feet. Eyes open, she catches her own reflection in a mirror. After a moment soaking in her surroundings, she concludes that she stands within a bathroom filled with the signifiers of luxury. To her right a wall of glass with golden accessories shimmer in the filtered light of the skylight above. To her left a wall painted with a scene of women bathing in a lush garden, and a dark, wooden door cracked open to reveal a golden toilet. In front of her, a countertop of pink marble, inlaid with sinks and faucets of gold, stretches the length of the absurdly enormous space. Three small pink chandeliers of equal size hang equidistant from each other and each wall as they twinkle light and sound. Isla turns slowly to look over her shoulder, large dark double doors. Turning fully around now, she reaches for both gold door handles at once, one in each hand, pulls down simultaneously and swings the doors open wide. A blast of pure light hits her square across her entire body. She raises both arms to shield her face from the blow. Her hair throws her back a few steps.

Eyes, they adjust. The bathroom in all its luxury, Isla realizes, pales in comparison to the palatial space she finds herself in now. A gentle rustling like that of a person stirring in a bed full of large linens. A bed. Slowly, Isla tiptoes toward the bed where a person obviously sleeps. Just as she reaches the bed, the sleeping form turns to face her. She approaches with curiosity rather than caution. The crown of the person’s head reveals, assumedly, a female. Dark, long hair streams upwards on the pillow. Isla moves closer. A small gasp releases itself from Isla. Her own sleeping face stares back at her. But how?, she thinks to herself. What is happening? How is this even possible?

The form of herself begins waking movements. A sigh. A yawn. Outstretched arms reach high above her head. Isla steps away from the bed and moves toward its foot. The form of her blinks her eyes open but continues to lay within the soft covers. Isla breathes the shallowest possible breaths. For what seems like an eternity, Isla stands, eyes fixed upon the form laying in the bed. A small toss and a turn. The form of her sits upright as the form of her pushes back the covers. Isla jumps back slightly frightened, but to Isla’s amazement, the form of her seems to have not noticed Isla standing there. The form of her swings her legs over the side of the bed, expertly stretches her neck, rolls each ankle five times inward and then out, looks over her right shoulder to glimpse the beautiful day just beyond the four enormous floor to ceiling windows. Isla and the form of herself stare at each other, but as Isla stares at her own form, the form of her stares right through Isla. With wide eyes, Isla pitches forward to see if she can catch the form of her’s attention. Nothing. The form of her makes her way to the double doors of the bathroom and closes both doors behind her.

The room fills with mist as Isla appears upon a sandy beach, waves foam where the salty waters of tears long spilled meet Earth. Slowly turning about herself, Isla recognizes the scene. Adamantly, she begins to walk toward a knowing place, and as she approaches, she slows almost to a standstill through the recognition of her own voice, which filters throughout the air. Just beyond a collection of oversized beach umbrellas, Isla remains directly behind the ferrule of the closest one as she slowly pokes her head around its canopy. There, again, Isla spots herself standing and chatting comfortably with some local man. Isla begins to recall this exact moment of conversation with, with, what’s his name again? Inching ever forward, Isla can hear exactly what they’re talking about.

The form of her smiles, and with a giggle says, “Oh, yea. I’m staying in a palatial suite at that hotel. It’s quite marvelous.” Isla hears this but knows that she did not, in fact, stay at that palatial suite while she was visiting this place. Why am I lying?, Isla whispers to herself. Feeling testy, Isla stands to make herself known to the form of her, but the form of her seems oblivious, yet again, to Isla’s presence. The form of her and the local man continue their conversation. “So, how long will you be here?” the local man asks. “Oh, I’m not sure. I’m sort of free to go here and there however I please. So, forever, I guess,” the form of her responds. Isla gasps, No.

A cold, misty wind billows across the beach as Isla appears just outside a shabby hut. Terrified, Isla pushes open the door to the hut. There, sitting upon a makeshift cot made of branches and dried grass lays an old, dying woman. The dying woman looks vaguely familiar and again, does not see Isla standing within the tiny space. A moment later, a young girl comes trotting into the hut with a bottle of water. “Isla! I’m here!” the young girl shouts despite the need for shouting in a room no larger than a modest bathroom. What? No,  Isla thinks to herself. The dying woman nods and motions for the young girl to bring the water to her. “Still no words today?” the young girl chants while she pats the dying woman on the forehead. The dying woman motions with her hands some sort of thankful gesture. “It’s no problem,” the young girl sings as she helps the dying woman up into a seated position and feeds the dying woman some water.

A warm mist disperses throughout the hut as Isla appears upon a dance floor in a thumping night club. Oh, god, no, Isla mumbles to herself as she recalls a moment in this place that would fulfill the dying woman’s inability to speak. No, Isla mutters, Why is this happening? Again, knowingly, Isla makes her way to a private table in the balcony area of the club. There, again, she sees herself flirting shamelessly with a short man. Apparently, the short man is trying to make a move on the form of her, but the form of her keeps writing down something on a napkin and pointing to it. Isla shakes her head, aware. Wanting to be sure, however, Isla makes her way behind the couch where the form of her and the short man sit. Yes, Isla confirms, Dammit! Upon the napkin, Isla sees the form of her writing down something about how the form of her has no voice and how she’s sorry that she cannot speak. Fuck, Isla speaks aloud. A moment later, a girl friend comes along to collect the form of her. The girl friend says, “Let’s go Is, there are some serious hotties over here,” as the form of her makes big eyes as if to say, “The act is on right now.” Picking up the cue, the girl friend nods her head as she meets the eyes of the short man, “Oh, hey. Yea, sorry. She doesn’t know how to speak. So, please, can you leave her alone?” The short man excuses himself, “Oh, yea, sure. Well, it was nice to meet you.” “Yea, sure,” the girl friend waves as she sits down next to the form of her. The two begin to chat as quietly as possible while still being able to hear each other. Isla rests her hands on the back of the couch as she bends over in a nauseated state.

Mist.

Public Transit Is Free Here

Public Transit Is Free Here

Here, in the place where I live, the local buses run free, literally free. The storied history of this situation is long and boring, but basically, the town spent tax-payer money on a public transportation system that has yet to be completed. Thus, they’ve decided to force the overarching public transit system (of the larger metro area) to no longer accept payment for local public transit rides as a way to recoup the losses for which the taxpayers have already paid for public transit services. The services in question are supposed to be lightrail services, but the bus, in my opinion, will do for now. I did not live here during the taxation for the larger public transit operation/promise. Thus, I have lost no personal finances to the cause. This means that riding the local bus around here is absolutely free! for the likes of me and my body buddy (i.e. lifemate).

Yesterday, we rode the free bus for the second time, since we’ve moved to this place. We take it out to a larger, broader shopping area that has all of the big box stores Americans love. As dwellers of the downtown area (despite the town being quite small, there’s a bit of sprawl that makes living car-less a bit of a challenge, even with the free bus system), we use the buses to get to shops and such that we might need on any given week or month. We absolutely do not use public transportation for any of our daily needs, that would be nearly impossible with the inefficient, albeit free, system that exists currently. But the worst part about riding the bus here in the town in which I now live revolves around the people who require (are sustained by) the local bus system here in this town.

I am lucky and privileged enough to be able to be floated by my middle-class family, if/when need be. My decision to not have a car reveals a bit of that privilege. I can afford to live in the more densely populated area of the town, right downtown where all the “stuff” happens. I have chosen to not have a car, and I am capable of living without said car by utilizing public transit when I want it, and I live close enough to my daily needs (my place of employment, the Chamber where I take meetings, etc.) to walk everywhere else. I can also simply rent a car on days when I need to travel regionally, out of the town, to the larger metropolitan areas. I understand that this is not the case for most of the local public transit users here in my new hometown.

Case in point, a woman got on the bus yesterday and the bus driver recognized her. After a brief exchange of niceties, the bus driver asked, “I thought you worked at Wal-Mart?” We were on the other side of town from Wal-Mart. Frustrated, she spoke, “I hate that place.” After a short explanation we (my body buddy and I) overheard, we learned from the fellow passenger that she began making too much money from her job at Wal-Mart; she was going to be evicted from her low-income housing. So she quit … on her birthday … because she had had “enough of this bullshit.” The thing I realized right then and there was that she existed in a world that I have never known. And in that moment, I realized that public transit is even more important for towns that want to have an economically healthy population.

This woman on the bus is trapped in an economic system that forces her to remain poor in order to survive. She’s smart enough to know that even though Wal-Mart pays her more than is allowed to be “low income,” Wal-Mart does not pay enough to live among the middle class. Or perhaps she’s merely lazy and doesn’t want to work, and so, she’d rather take her low unemployment and live in low-income housing for forever. This is the argument, is it not? Are poor people poor due to their own laziness and affinity to leech off the larger American economic system, or are they trapped by the system that has pitted them against billionaires?

To hear with my own ears the way in which she described her desperation about making too much money made me cringe. Her options were to be employed but homeless or unemployed in a house. She sees no other way to live, no other way to get out of this hell hole trap that she is trapped inside. Yes, she seemed a bit immature for the look of her, and she definitely seemed like she lacked higher-level education, but she’s surviving. She’s found a way to work within the fucking terrible system within which she is trapped. But is surviving enough? In These United States, is our goal to merely survive? I think not. I think that the situation this woman on the bus is clearly trapped within speaks to a larger degradation of the larger state of our country. We are all on our very own in this “Land of the Free.” But this is not the way that life here in These United States needs to be.

Being not-white and being adopted are not the same thing.

Being not-white and being adopted are not the same thing.

So, there’s this white woman (or family but mostly it is the mother) on the ‘Gram who, in my humble opinion (which is wholly entitled to speak about such an issue), is simply the worst. She and her white (doctor) husband adopted two black, twin girls through an adoption where the birth mother and white woman met.

DISCLAIMER—I am (as the aforementioned white woman defines) a transracial adoptee. I am of Asian descent, and my parents are two white people. They adopted me decades ago, long before the internet, long before social media, and you know what, they do not perceive themselves as heroes or some fanciful influencers who can and will make adoption #trending. They’re just my parents. I’m their child. They did everything they could to make my life as a former orphan totally normal (my older brother was essential in making my life seem normal). This writing is not really about them, but they are the greatest parents in the world. I’m not biased at all—END DISCLAIMER.

And so, this is the place from where I have come, and this is the impetus for my disdain for said white woman. It’s one thing to do good; it’s an entirely other thing when you want to share, through self-promotion, all of the good you are doing. Of course, I do not know the circumstances of why this white couple chose to adopt not-white kids. I also do not know why it is that they chose to adopt at all. Perhaps they have shared their story, but it is hardly the story about which they want to talk, and oddly enough, it’s really the only story they are entitled to tell. I would take no issue with this white woman spewing her whiteness and lamenting, remembering and rejoicing in the sadness of her motherhood story about how these girls have changed everything, from her perspective. But this is not the messaging of this white woman; instead, she opts for seeking praise for how great of a white woman she is to two black girls. I have many friends who are interracial couples, who (inevitably) have interracial children, and who are in families where nobody looks like anybody else.

The issue is not that this white woman adopted two black girls. The issue is that two orphaned children (no matter their race) were abandoned by the woman who conceived them, and now, they are being raised by two strangers. Yes, race will play a part at some point in their lives, but the issue, at this stage in their lives, is not about race—it’s about adoption. They will forever feel abandoned. They will forever know they were unwanted. They will forever face the challenges that come with being an orphaned child. Whatever this white woman does will not control or change the fact that she is not their birth mother. Someone who was supposed to love them unconditionally, forever, gave them up. The issue with adoption is about adoption, not race.

I grew up not seeing any other people who looked like me, aside from my brother and one other kid my brother’s age who was also adopted from the same country, around the same time (all during the span of a few decades, hundreds of thousands of children were adopted out of this particular country, and essentially, created enough economic activity to jump-start the country from which they were adopted into the modern ages, and nobody talks about this, and yet, here we are, a massive population of Korean adoptees who were shipped to These United States but who are wholly American [leave out the Asian, please]).

Of course, my identity is important. It’s important to know the answers to questions that are obvious, like “Why don’t you look like your parents.” The reason why I do not look like my parents is because I was adopted, not because I am Asian; I just happen to be Asian. My parents went out of their way to make sure that they knew about the country of our birth, our homeland. They went out of their way to educate themselves about our homeland. We traveled to go to a camp that was tailored specifically for adoptees from this country. We traveled to the country to visit and see where we were from, but none of my issues about adoption revolves around my race. Of course, I cannot speak for the girls as they are black, and so, their lives will inevitably acknowledge their race in a way that I cannot relate to. Nevertheless, right now, as children, their adoption issues are about their adoption. People will see them as black kids with white parents, but they will not see themselves as such. They will just see themselves, and then they will look at their parents, and they will not think to themselves, “Oh, there’s my white mom.” Instead, this white woman, as she frets about things I cannot believe she frets about, will be perceived by her twins as their mother. Just mom. No race. And so, the race issues that this white woman frets about now are all about her, not about the actual people who will have to deal with the issues of race…her daughters. It’s almost like she sits and thinks about what the world thinks about her when they see that she has two black girls, like she sits and thinks about her girls’ blackness. And it’s like all of these thoughts make her feel sad, bad, worried about a future that is already making her feel uncomfortable.

I know that I look Asian, but I am not Asian. I know that I definitely do not look white, but I am very white. I did not need to grow up to be everything. I can be Asian-looking because the woman who gave birth to me is Asian. But I can also be fully white on the inside because the two people who saved me are white. All of these people instilled within me an amalgamation of a new identity, me. This happens to everyone. Thus, all of this emphasis on adoption being so strange and different is meaningless and somewhat harmful. Not that adoption should be ignored and dismissed, but the emphasis could change. If this white woman continues to emphasize the race and adoption part, she will forever make her girls feel like adoption is not normal. People within biological families are adopted by biological relatives! This white woman was not chosen so much as as she was willing and available, and so, her emphasis on her being chosen over the idea that she saved two people’s lives makes me sick.

Sure, they can share the tips and tricks of the adoption process, help those who would rather or who have no other option but to adopt, but this particular couple rubs me so wrong because the white woman basically spews every single little thought she has about how (essentially) great, blessed, amazed, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, she is to be able to be these girls’ mother, how “incredibly blown away I am that their mother chose me.” The fact that she shares at all for capital earnings and superficial gains pisses me off. Exploitation much? The fact that the entirety of social media highlights those who already brag about themselves, those who are already predisposed to bragging about the nothingness of their accomplishments pisses me off, I suppose, if I’m being honest. There are so many people out in the world doing good and not shining a light on themselves.

In this vein, my parents adopted children to save lives, not to brag about whatever accomplishment they felt as though they achieved by being “chosen” to be parents for children who are orphaned. Sure, you can argue that perhaps my mother is not as clever or resourceful in turning her knowledge and experience into a half-assed business/IG post. Or you could argue that my mother not only had enough knowledge and experience to adopt children, internationally, before the internet did everything for you, but also, my mother spent all of her time raising me and my brother (also adopted from the same country, but no, we are not related by blood), used all of her energy and resources to give us the greatest life possible. My mother did not spend all of her time “sharing” and promoting the greatness of the works she endeavored to pursue. No. My mother spent all of that time doing it, and we’re both fully grown, self-sufficient adults. She succeeded (They both did, I am intentionally leaving out my father at this time, using my mother as a comparison to the white woman in question).

So, while it’s nice that the white woman in question (who exists as the impetus of this writing) wants or desires to “share her story,” she embodies everything that is essentially wrong with white women in America, these days. White women in America are capable of turning something like being a black adoptee in America into something that’s all about them. The good news is that all of this white-woman attention might actually be able to bring more issues about race to light, but don’t hold your breath. A white woman will not risk her position. Nevertheless, the issue remains. Whether or not this white woman succeeds will not be known until her girls are both able to tell her and prove to the rest of us that their mother raised decent, self-sufficient people.

Not The Listmaker (according to Attila)

Not The Listmaker (according to Attila)

“I don’t know who she is, and I don’t know what she is, and I don’t know where she’s from, and I don’t know anything about the why. I am here to inform you of my knowledge of her existence, but the truth of the matter is that I do not know who she is, at all. She never came up on my list before the disappearance, and nobody seems to really know who she is, and yet, everyone knows her, now. It was the perfect scheme, perhaps, or the perfect plan, I guess. Again, something I do not know, for which I traveled to your front door in search of answers.” The person to whom I am speaking sits back and mulls over the words. She is looking at me, and I don’t really know what to make of her look.

And then, he sees us off in the distance. Well, us is loosely defined at this point. She has made green. He sees me, and just as I realize that he has indeed seen me, I decide to leave, but as I’m leaving, Attila rounds the corner. Luckily, she sees me seeing her and immediately looks for him and then, quickly sees him too. He sees us seeing him now and freezes, mid-step, on some plushy grass just north of the fountain around which he must still walk in order to reach us. Calmly, Attila reaches me as I curl at her feet under a table. “Don’t order anything, please,” I plead. “He will not make his way over here. We’re in public. Relax,” she coos. “I will do the cooing, thank you very much, and now is not exactly the time for such relaxation, lady!” I whisper-scorn. She uncrosses and re-crosses her legs, inconveniencing me greatly so that I must reposition myself.

“At least order the eggs benedict,” I suggest as I curl down into my best surveillance loaf and keep watch for him. Attila’s foot begins to tap. “Please,” I paw at her. “My god,” she responds, exasperated. I see him just as a motor vehicle of some sort passes by on the street a few short meters from the table we’re seated at now. “Attil,” I mutter as I stand and slowly walk back, away. “It’s alright. I think it’s alright,” she attempts. “She isn’t here anymore,” I inform. “Thank you, I do know this,” Attila informs. He definitely means to make his way toward us, but I do not know what he hopes to do. Of course he has to be absolutely gorgeous, dressed in a frothy summer gown, hair flowing, almost floating on the air with the lightheartedness of a lover as opposed to my Listmaker. “That is not the Listmaker,” Attila whispers. “Oh,” I squeak and then wonder, “Are you going to let him come over here?” “Of course, that is what he intends.” But then what happens? I wonder again but to myself. “Nothing will happen if he does nothing,” Attila answers. “That was private,” I scold.

Slowly, he crosses the threshold of the restaurant’s outdoor patio space. Gliding on air, he holds out an arm burdened with a small silk purse adorned in sequins, hand sewn, no doubt. He sits. His toes need some work, but his heels look good, and overall, he smells fresh. “Darling,” he begins. “She’s not here,” Attila answers. “Of course I know this,” he states. He pauses as if taking a beat for a hit of a cigarette, but he is not smoking. “Where is she? Tell me this, and I will be gone in a flash. Nice suit, by the way. Who made you that one?” Another airy beat. “She is supposed to be here,” Attila answers, truthfully, amazingly enough.

They both simultaneously switch their top legs and bottom legs in a cross-legged switcharoo. “You are so fascinating, you, Attila, darling,” he swoons. “And you bore me, Sir,” Attila smirks. “The older woman would be disappointed, but, of course, you already know this,” he smiles with a smug air of one-upmanship. “But she is no man,” he spits. Attila sits back and crosses her arms in front of her chest. “What the hell do you want?” “But you already know, dear.” “Fine, take the cat.” What? Me? “Yes, you,” Attila states as she reaches down and picks me up and sets me on the top of the table. “Her name is Tuna, and she’s a novice, but she’s done well so far,” Attila explains. But I thought that I was yours, I mew to myself, confused. “I’m sure she’s wonderful, but I want HER,” he shouts with a slap on the table and a quick, chair-squeaking rise. “You cannot avoid my messages, Attila. Everyone knows you did it,” he offers in finality. Gracefully, he turns and walks away. Once in the street again, he disappears.

I’m not jealous. You’re jealous.

I’m not jealous. You’re jealous.

There’s general jealousy, like envy, a sort of wanting of something that you admire, but you know that it will not satisfy you once you have it. Then there’s a deep, dark, rage-type jealousy that includes (but is absolutely not limited to) wishing you were as talented and/or intelligent as someone else, that you could be that amazing, celebrity-like, star person. And then there’s the type of jealousy that just makes you want to kill yourself, end it all in the name of “What the hell is the point of me even trying when someone like her already exists?” The “her” in question is none other than Ursula K. Le Guin.

Like all of my favorite writers, I found out about Le Guin not long before she passed away. I’ve read a number of her short stories and novels, but the truth is that I prefer her nonfiction, well, just the one nonfiction I’ve read so far (aside from essays and other, shorter nonfiction), No Time To Spare: Thinking about what matters. It’s a beautiful book about aging, growing older, being old. It’s the type of book that I wish I could simply quote in its entirety here, but obviously, that’s illegal. The book, nevertheless, is that good. I could and would gladly transcribe the thing in its entirety for you to read. Of course, you can, as easily, check the book out yourself from your local library (and I would encourage you to do so).

And so, I have decided to choose my top five quotes, the quotes that are resonating with me the most these days. They are as follows (okay, my top 6), in page order as opposed to order of importance, which would, theoretically, be impossible to determine:

6. “Old age is for anybody who gets there.” (p 9)

5. “When did it become impossible for our government to ask its citizens to refrain from short-term gratification in order to serve a greater good?” (p 118)

4. “It’s so much easier to blame the grown ups than to be one.” (p 123)

3. “Cruelty is a human specialty, which human beings continue to practice and perfect and institutionalize, though we seldom boast about it.” (p 151)

2. “Belief has no value in itself that I can see. Its value increases as it is useful, diminishes as it is replaced by knowledge, and goes negative when noxious. In ordinary life, the need for it diminishes as the quantity and quality of knowledge increases.” (p 195)

1. “The warmth of the sun is on my face as soon as its light is.” (p 211)

A Tale of Two Bosses

A Tale of Two Bosses

What do you do when you realize that you do not really like your boss, and then, you find out that nobody else you work with really does either? And it’s not that she’s my boss so much as it’s that she’s my supervisor. And the issue is not so much about her competence as it is about her personality or “management style.” It’s rough to be around her. The worst part, however, is that she may not even know that she’s coming off the way that she is.

The thing about me is that I try really hard to treat each person as an individual. I try my damnedest to never make any assumptions, and I try really hard to get to know people so that I can know who they are as opposed to who they tell me they are. And so, the issue with this “manager” (and I use quotes here as the term is thrown around quite loosely at my place of employment, and so, she is not a manager [like stated above] so much as she’s a supervisor), revolves solely around the way that she talks to all of us mere, wee, underlings. She talks to us as if we’re A) doing the wrong thing or nothing, and B) not doing it right, and then, all in the same breath, she asks you to start doing some other thing, but she was the one who put you on the task you are currently “doing so badly.” And it’s all in the tone.

Everything about her personality feels contrived. She’s fake. She’s the version of herself that she thinks she should be in her new “management” role. Even when she interacts with customers, she speaks at them as if everything is their fault, which sometimes it is but never under these circumstances of waiting tables (90% of the time, for the elderly). And so, the issue is a matter of style.

The two of our personalities clashed a little bit when she A) reprimanded me for a “mistake” that I did not make, and then B) failed to understand the question I was actually asking her, which made me repeat myself over and over again because she lacked the understanding to know wtf I was trying to explain to her. Our conversation, which to my credit (as I am known for not being able to keep my cool in the midst of an argument with someone who is, let’s just say, stubborn in all the wrong ways) remained calm and collected, became the focal point of all our other coworkers. They were clearly wondering a few of the same things I had brought up, but nobody had said anything aloud before. And then later in the day I was relieved of my stress when a few fellow coworkers (and the next day my actual superior and manager) kindly, quietly and gently made it known that it’s not me; it’s definitely her.

Of course, I have worked for people I did not like. However, the strange part about this particular personality is that nobody else who works there is like her. Everyone else is really chill and is equally put off by her. So, what is management supposed to do, if she’s competent (she is) and the issue begins and ends with her terrible personality? I am genuinely curious as we’ve moved here specifically to start our new business venture, and I may someday have to deal with exactly this same issue.

My lifemate (and body buddy) have discussed a few options, but basically, I’m left with leaving it be. Those are my direct orders from my actual boss, and so, I have to assume that they know that she’s a bit of a pickle, but you can’t fire someone just because you don’t like them—A) you will never have more than two employees, and B) people you don’t like are still capable of doing the job.

I don’t really have a point; I’m throwing my predicament out there to see if anyone has any insight on this sort of thing.

Until next time.