What’s the bfd?

What’s the bfd?

I read an interesting article this morning that announced a certain actor’s identification as a man, which was quickly (obviously) followed up by how wrong everyone was in writing about this proclamation. He is not about whom I wish to write today, because, honestly, who cares?, and really, the larger issue regarding this announcement is the announcement itself. Disclaimer: I am not educated in any matters regarding gender and/or sexuality, nor do I have any particular interest in the matter aside from the need for equality on all counts, and I identify, sexually, within society’s Procrustean bed of gender, so no, I personally have little to no experience with gender inquiries/inequities, other than being of the sexual orientation of female, which makes me largely disadvantaged (but still free) in United Statesian society. I do have some thoughts about it, however. 

This whole situation made me think really hard about gender and sexuality. If we think about our evolutionary ancestors—the animals from whom we evolved (ugh, and I cannot even believe that this will be a statement of contention)—and how they had sex, it’s pretty straightforward, because, we were all naked. What sexual parts we had were exposed, readily seen by any would-be sexual partners (and no, do not mistake any of this for a romanticized view of sexual inequality throughout our human history as this writing is not about that, but I do understand how the underlying issues of gender are about equality). As we evolved, I imagine that the need for clothing became an “issue” of sorts with regards to sex. Since our reproductive parts are no longer out for display, we must then “identify,” i.e. signal, our reproductive parts. And since we live in a world of men, and men write laws, then labels are needed for everything (not to mention the general insecurity men have with regards to sex). 

And since men are notoriously insecure about their sexuality, which is obvious due to their need to oppress everyone with whom they might be sexually rejected, a man who may fall further toward homosexuality on the continuum that is gender probably felt really insecure being attracted to other men in a world when that was something of which to be ashamed (and again, obviously, this speaks to nothing of what happens to people around the world who identify with any variant of gender beyond straight [not cis, straight in this instance], male). 

My point here, however, is that, from my point of view (which is moot because I do not identify as transgender, so whatever I think matters very little if at all), since society creates such a strain and emphasis on identifying outwardly with one’s sexual reproductive organs, the oppression felt by those who have been forced by their genitalia to behave and “perform life” in such a way that’s so unnatural to them must be so extreme that they are literally willing to risk their own livelihood to refuse society’s cage. 

The problem, thusly, with this need to not only change names (from masculine to more feminine and vice versa) but to also change pronouns makes my heart break, because if you look at this situation rationally, those who identify as transgendered should be the ones breaking out of the mold of names as gendered or sexually identifying. Names should/could be genderless. Why do we even use pronouns other than them or they? I have no problem being referred to as them or they. Do you? If you do, and you’re a champion of gender equality, you’re a hypocrite. I prefer it. There’s no need for you to know my sexual preference or reproductive organs unless you and I want to have sex with each other. 

And so, when I think of how much shit some people have to wade through in order to be themselves, I wonder if we couldn’t all do our part by simply not caring. I honestly don’t really care with whom the actor in question wants to have sexual (or asexual) relations. I honestly don’t care. If you also simply stopped caring, then you would actively be making the world a better place, because in order to dismantle this idea of gender—the performative actions required of, say, women of the South, in order to make their men appear even more masculine and definitely not not-cis—we have to stop caring about the gender of others. For there to be a truly genderless world, there must be no more talk of it.

Yoga: A Simulation*

Yoga: A Simulation*

&How to live in a human body … maybe. 

…i keep going back and forth on all of this social media nonsense, as well as on all of this yoga nonsense on social media. And if you are a wonderful yoga light aka a yoga teacher, please do not read this as my insistence that yoga teachers are unnecessary, absolutely not. If anything, the world needs a yoga teacher in every home. This does mean, however, that not all yoga teachers, perhaps, should make money teaching, but since the scales have been tipped for so long in white yoga’s favor, I have nothing to say about an abundance of yoga teachers except, “Support Black Yogis, and Support Black Lives.” 

This is merely an expression about my personal relationship with and to yoga. I never hope to speak to yoga as if “this is how it should be.” Absolutely not. I merely share in the name of shedding light on yoga for anyone who has or does see the practice in a similar way as I did, in hopes that they will, in turn, pick up the practice. If anything, this is another one of my attempts at persuasion, to practice yoga. 

What I am realizing now is that the very sad story of yoga in the United States (and generally speaking, i’m speaking of “the West,” but i am neither an expert nor researcher nor general carer about #facts regarding yoga because i care too deeply for my own opinion, i.e. i’m too lazy to do the hard work, so i’m going to rely on my own simulation) is a story about poor mass-marketing. 

From my perspective, yoga is/was (of course, i feel as though i’ve always been aware of yoga’s existence as some esoteric spiritual thing for monks, etc., but my first hardcore intro into yoga was through corepower yoga, circa 2008, and after a quick google, i just learned that it was founded in denver, the capital of the state in which i was attending college at the time, so that makes sense) a way to get fit through stretching. Easy enough, I’m flexible. Yoga seemed like whatever good metaphor comes to mind when something fits seemingly perfectly. 

But right from the get-go, I was thoroughly turned off. To this moment, I still cannot quite put my finger on the “problem,” or if there even was one. I just hated it. In class, I felt as though there was some sort of ideology revolving around some sort of spirituality but what any of it was or is or meant or anything was never really explained or even talked about. You enter a warm, dark room, inevitably lit with candles, the faint sounds of sounds that resonate peace, with a large mirror (why?), spread your mat out on the floor with some consideration for the other people sharing the space, everyone eyeing everyone else’s ability to buy the most_expensive_mat plus mat towel plus mat water bottle plus mat pants, etc., etc., &c.!, then someone guides you through a series of stretches while they om and whisper and attempt to create a space of peace and calm, maybe?, and mindfulness, but sometimes a pumpin’ beat and weights defines the hour. 

It all seemed like incongruous hogwash. 

And then, the rise of the yogi influencer. 

This caused more problems, I think, for the marketing of yoga. It seems as though, if you’re a woman, in search of a slim (nearly anorexic, imho, and always white, and don’t come at me with your “white passing” bc the reality is, is that if you’re able to dye your hair yellow, and think to yourself, now i’m beautiful, you’re not white passing; you’re white washing) flexible body, then do yoga!

Yoga is for the perfectly flawless who have so much disposable time and income that they need to make up new ways to create hierarchy. Obviously, I’m exaggerating, and I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m trying to share my perception of yoga, yogis, and the ones who “influence” on social media. If I’m being judgy, then I apologize, but this is not my intention. My intent is to share in the name of learned experience, so that we may all create a social media yoga world, for the better, and shape it in a way that will service the wholly enormous ideology that is “yoga.” The sad fact is that social media is not going away any time soon. Perhaps reform will come, but for now, enough of us will continue to use the platform to keep it viable. If we were to all quit in enough numbers, we could “boycott” for change, but…I digress.

To this day, I still feel as though I know very little about the practice of yoga, and that’s because there’s a lot to know. It’s not one thing, and it’s not even the same thing for every person who practices it. This, at its core, is the fundamental, foundational issue of yoga on social media (not to mention the expressed documentation by Kino MacGregor in her book, The Power of Ashtanga Yoga, that [begin quote] My ninety-three-year-old master Jois once said in a group conference in Mysore, “Yoga is changing. Now some women are very strong. Correct asana performing is possible. Before, not possible. Now possible. All women are doing all asanas correctly.” [end quote p 173] … to which i wonder, “So women have never been allowed to strive toward enlightenment? Dammit. Same old patriarchy as every other everything in human history.” MacGregor does not specify her feelings about this quote, whether it projects an opening of her guru’s mind toward the equity of women [ironic] or if she felt betrayed or something else entirely. i’d feel betrayed, but i simulate).

The other, obvious, foundational problem is that in order for any sort of practice to continue, there must be teachers, but in order to have teachers, there must be text (in this 21st-century life, because of course, oral tradition has almost died, for better or worse, your opinion is yours, and i don’t care), and in order to have text, there must be … experts, e.g. gurus, i.e. people worthy of your money (or loyalty) for their time. In other words, something is for sale. 

Of course, capitalism would destroy the intent and purpose of any spiritual practice. That’s obvious. What’s less obvious is that these practitioners, students, teachers, gurus alike are all in on it. That almighty and oh-so-pleasurable circle jerk. Yum. I did not say “all,” so do not accuse me of saying “all yoga practitioners, students, etc.” The reality, on social media (the context in which i ponder yoga), is that most are in on it, the capitalistic aspiration for social media influence. #sad (but #genius)

There’s no quicker way to gain power and influence than by peddling religion, spirituality or some WAY into a “top” (again, that damn hierarchy) position in the “afterlife.” Again, whether or not you have a religious/spiritual belief is none of my business, and quite frankly, I don’t care. There are shitty people of every belief system. 

The next wave of yoga, however, is here. It is yoga for every body, because at its most basic of nut graphs, this is how I would phrase a more appropriate tagline for yoga: How to Live in a Human Body. 

The fact that some skinny white girl can fold herself into a pretzel, in a bikini, on a fake beach somewhere she was paid to fly to, is not what makes yoga awesome. #sorrynotsorry 

What makes yoga awesome is that someone (more likely, many someones all over the world at various times during prehistory and that weird time when we know things but don’t really know bc nobody really wrote anything down) took the time to really think and workout ways to make the body feel really good, run optimally, and be equipped for daily life. That’s awesome. That’s amazing. And it’s incredibly useful information that you would think we would all be equipped with from the time we enter kindergarten so that we’re not all bickering monkeys because our hamstrings are tight which is causing lower back pain that has turned into full-blown diarrhea making us very very unhappy, uncomfortable, and downright pissed. 

When yogis talk about how yoga makes the world a better place, this is what they’re talking about. They’re not talking about how the world will be better once we’re all skinny, flexible white women. 

They’re saying that the world will get better the minute we all feel better. And unfortunately, we prefer not to work, which is why this sedentary life suits all of our minds. It’s terrible, however, for our bodies, and since we live in our bodies, a sedentary life is terrible for us and our minds.

This new perception of yoga has actually made me feel really grateful for my very active childhood. Some of us are taught how to USE our bodies through childhood sports and/or activities, and we then (some of us, i imagine, myself not included) inadvertently learn how to live in said bodies. I learned how to use my body from a very young age doing gymnastics, skiing, playing soccer, swimming, and dancing. This completely leaves out any family activities, which could be anything at any time when reared by an exercise-aholic and a person more content surviving in the mountains than living in civil society. By the time I entered high school, I was a snowboarder and dancer, that’s it. I was forced to try volleyball when I quit gymnastics (see exercise-aholic parent), but that lasted only as long as the negotiation stated. 

But even with all of this physical activity I grew up with and am very familiar with, I still benefit greatly from the knowledge of yoga practitioners. Yoga is not a noun. It’s a verb. Because really, you can yoga anything. Whatever it is that you’re doing, if you are doing it with all of your attention, with an intention (no matter how big or seemingly trite), with awareness of the fact that it is you in your body doing the thing that you’re doing, then you have yoga’d it. It’s that simple. 

And if you don’t quite know how to yoga your life, then you practice a series of postures and poses on a squishy mat or blanket or rug or carpet or soft surface (for the joints and general comfort of the body). You yoga your own self. You teach your mind how to live in your body, and in turn, your body how to communicate with your mind. In this way, you become a whole person. Whether or not you can touch your toes hardly matters. You can yoga your cooking and become enlightened, if you ask me. You can yoga your real estate business and become enlightened. Obviously, there are some yoga paths that will help you reach your definition of enlightenment and/or peace that are better than others. But nobody can tell you which paths those are, except you. And that means you gotta get steppin’ and start practicing. 

Practice how to live in your body on yourself. You might be amazed at how feeling physically good makes you actually feel good. If we are our bodies, and we feel with our bodies, it’s good advice to learn how to distinguish between all of the differing feelings our bodies feel. This will also make you better at feeling all of those feelings we can’t physically feel but feel nonetheless. 

In the end, we all need to become better feelers and better thinkers, but it all starts with you and your body. If you’re miserable, you’re gonna make all of us miserable, too. But on the flip side, if you’re rockin’ and pumpin’ and feelin’ good, you just might make someone else feel the same. 

If for no other reason, learn how to live in your body by any means necessary and accessible to you. For me, practicing yoga works. For you, maybe it’s climbing mountains. The important thing, however, is that you bring your mind with you when your body does things, and when your body wants or doesn’t want to do things, it needs to know how to communicate with you and your mind that it does or doesn’t. 

When you feel good, it’s harder to make others feel bad. When you feel bad, it’s easy. I should know, I’m the one who’s practicing yoga as if her life depends on it. 


*as defined in The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters by Daniel M. Wegner and Kurt Gray pp 99-103

He Arrives

He Arrives

Dawn, with a faint shimmer of sunbeams peering through the cracks between the trees, while the grassy, unkempt lawn begins to warm, he arrives. Aware of her forthcoming arrival later in that day, he knows better than to cross paths at this time. They cannot, as it were, make green just yet. The stakes are too high; they are identities all too fragile. He grows weary of chasing her down in order to travel through space and time, constantly arriving at places unknown to them, only to find that they must travel yet again with no knowledge about the bigger picture. This time, he decides, things will be different. Of course, they’re always different, and yet, the sameness of their situation continues to follow, forever, endlessly in a loop they now feel trapped within. He remembers the words of the old man’s warning. There’s no way of knowing when or where happens before, there is only what he knows … without doubt. And the order of his remembering suggests that he must be here now.

He stands on the porch of the Listmaker. Whether or not he has arrived at the correct house, he cannot know, until he knows. Knock, knock, knock, upon the tattered and torn, half-screen door that stands between him and the front door. He waits for the semblance of movement within the house. It’s all too possible that the inhabitant still sleeps at this early hour, hence the stillness and quiet within the house. He knows, however, that if he has found the Listmaker, the Listmaker ought to be awake by now. He attempts to look through the windows that line the front of the house, but they are all closed up with thick curtains. Still, he waits another moment and looks out over the property. Birds chirp to welcome the morning. Light twinkles through the trees. A cool breeze blows over the lawn as the overgrown grasses sway. Knock, knock, knock, he tries again, only to be met with more silence. A small twinge gnaws at the palm of his left hand. Lifting the hand to his face to get a look, he sees that there’s a ladybug on him, scratching at the inside of his hand. He takes a closer look. The ladybug seems to be grooming itself, rolling around almost as if it’s itching it’s back and washing it’s face. He keeps watching.

Then, the ladybug seems satisfied and shakes itself off, looks around as if deciding to where to trot off next, but instead of choosing a direction, the ladybug looks up directly into his face. “Hey,” he states casually. The ladybug waves a little wave. Shocked, he’s taken aback a bit. What the? Curious, he tries again, “Hi, there. What’s going on?” It looks to him as if the ladybug shrugs and then sits. The ladybug looks around again, seemingly deciding on something. “Can you understand me?” he asks and then immediately feels stupid. Nodding, the ladybug walks up his palm toward his pointer finger and then walks to the tippy tip of his pointer finger. Once settled upon the tip of his finger, the ladybug nods again and then gestures with its face to sort of either look or move in that direction, which would lead him over his left shoulder, off the porch and onto the lawn. This is crazy, he laughs at himself, but he already decided that he’d listen to this creature, despite the impossibility of the situation.

He steps off the porch and walks in the general direction of the pointing ladybug. Once he reaches the lawn, however, the ladybug motions to take a right, which leads him down the side of the Listmaker’s house. He sees a beautiful patch of flowering plants and looks down at the ladybug, assuming that is where it wants to go. He stops for a moment, waits for further instruction. The ladybug turns around and faces out, facing his same general direction, then points to the garden. Ah ha, he thinks to himself, proud. He walks to the patch of flowering plants, and as he edges closer to the garden, the ladybug pulls on the tip of his finger with a little halting motion. He twists his hand around so that he can look the ladybug in the face. The ladybug nods and then makes funny gestures with its front legs as if picking things off his finger. “What?” he asks, slightly confused by the mime. The ladybug points down. He kneels down. The ladybug points at the orange nasturtiums, turns to face him again and then makes an “x” with its two front legs. He laughs out loud, “Ah hahaha, okay. I get ya.” Slowly, he walks around the tiny patch, presenting each different type of flower to the ladybug as the ladybug promptly nixes each option with the “x” symbol it makes with its front legs. He chuckles at every dismissal.

Finally, as he approaches a cluster of tiny white flowers, the ladybug shimmies a bit, as if excited. “Yea?” he laughs as he asks, “Is this gonna do it for ya?” The ladybug turns to look at him and nods in confirmed excitement and then waves him off with the right front leg/foot. As the ladybug turns to jump off his fingertip, he whispers, “She’ll be here later. Can you lead her here please?” The ladybug turns around and stares into his eyes for just a moment before it shakes its head and drops it low in a somber sort of way. “Why not?” he asks, peeved. The ladybug remains somber, not looking at him. He guesses that the ladybug cannot make such a guarantee, and he knows that the likelihood of her recognizing the ladybug is infinitely small. He sighs audibly and concedes, “Yes, I know what you mean. Can you at least promise to try?” The ladybug cheers up a bit and nods enthusiastically. “Okay, thank you,” he states as the ladybug nods and turns out, away from him, toward the cluster of tiny white flowers, ready to take a leap. “Alright,” he begins in farewell; “Later,” he again casually bids. The ladybug shimmies its backside and prepares to launch and just as it begins to jump off the tip of his finger, the sound of a snapping tree branch cuts through the air. Stunned, he jolts a bit and then quickly checks on the ladybug. “Goddammit,” he spits aloud in frustration. There, atop the cluster of tiny white flowers, the ladybug lies on its back, wings spread wide and broken, dead.

He treads out from within the patch of flowering plants and stands at its edge, looking back toward the tiny white flower cluster. He can barely make out the speck of the ladybug. Whatever, he self-soothes. Clouds form overhead and threaten rain. From the side of the house that he currently stands, he sees a porch extending out from the back of the house. As the patter of scattered raindrops ease into a dull roar, he runs to the back porch that is luckily partially covered by a torn awning. He looks through a sliding glass door and realizes that he can see into the house since whatever blinds or curtains hang on the inside remain open. From this location, he can see the kitchen and the living room area that opens into what looks to be a study. Dark, he cannot make out anything too specific within the study, but the disheveled nature of the area makes him think that the Listmaker might be uncharacteristically unorganized. But then he notices the kitchen and living room areas are immaculately ordered. Every little thing seems to have a place, except that there are two mugs sitting on the counter that separates the kitchen area from the living area. He also notices that there’s a carton of almond milk sitting out, which seems odd, but since he doesn’t drink almond milk himself, he decides he doesn’t know if that’s common practice. Nevertheless, the two mugs stand out to him. A visitor? he wonders. Did she arrive early? Fuck. What’s with all the early arrivals lately. She’s totally out of sync or something, he considers.

He gives the glass door a knock, Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, and waits for a signal of movement. Maybe someone answered already, he thinks as he remembers, the fucking dead ladybug. Still raining, the droplets enlarge and turn into a straight-up downpour. He accepts that the awning will probably not keep him dry much longer, but to his delight, the falling water stops, almost all at once within just a minute. Parting ways, the clouds reveal the light of the sun and an uncomfortable warmth overcomes him. Knock, knock, knock, he tries again. He waits.

A sense of unease washes over him, and he can’t quite place the feeling despite the strong recognition. Breaking and entering into the house, he decides, however dubious, appeals to him greatly. Can he spare another moment, no matter, and wait a bit longer before enacting such drastic measures? Without a watch and with little to no sense of the relative time of when he currently exists, there’s no way of knowing exactly what time it is, he realizes. There’s also no knowing when she will arrive. All he knows is that he needs to speak with the Listmaker and be long gone before she appears. Pacing the back porch, he mulls the options. No matter how hard he tries to look forward, to catch a glimpse of any hint that may help him decide, he comes up blank. He seethes. Someone meddles with mesh and fabric, sewing in bits and pieces that help only the few, a self-serving individual who requires … something … something very specific, he concludes. Bound to the now that is now, he keeps pacing the full length of the porch, waiting, drumming his mind for the recollection of something … anything. The most recent words of the old man ring out in his mind, She will not be difficult to find because she does not know that she needs to remain hidden. And then a flash of understanding hits him between the eyes as he whispers, “Mox.” If Mox knows where she is, and the old man feels confident in finding her, then the old man can easily know what Mox knows. So where is Mox now? If I can find Mox, I can know what the old man knows, and then I’ll know what the old man wants. The unsettled feeling returns with full force and reminds him of a different time, a different life, lifetimes ago. He recalls the first time he encountered a Listmaker.

A long time ago, he awoke, thrown like what always happened during any other time after making green, into the middle of a life being lived. This, of course, was one of the earlier iterations when the sudden transference from one when into another thrusted his mind into a full-on spin, which caused a numbness starting from the crown of his head down through his entire body, lasting, most often times, around ten minutes. Unable to move or think during this time, he would simply stare out in a strange gaze, existing in the planes of nothingness. How to describe this process proves impossible, but nevertheless, he would, if he could, say something to the effect of, “If air could speak to the annoyance of constantly being pushed, shoved, and encroached upon.” Anyway, this one particular time, he was but a small boy child living in a village in the steep valley just below where the three peaks meet. There, within the village, a Listmaker lived, the first Listmaker he had met, not “first” as in the linear perception of time before a different meeting but rather, as first first within his existence. But that is all beside the point. As a small boy child in the village, he was an orphan (the kind whose parents left him for dead, as opposed to those whom Death takes, not that one is more or less tragic, the distinction is what’s important), running hither and thither, free to be wherever whenever he pleased. His appearance caught the peculiar attention of a specific person within the village, who, for all intents and purposes was this Listmaker.

This Listmaker lived on the upper-most outskirts, nearest the end of the official village ordinance, at the place where the river begins to flow through the village. Being well-known and seated among other peoples of prominence, this Listmaker became quite fond of him and he of this Listmaker. Most days, when this Listmaker had written the boy child into this Listmaker’s list, he would visit this Listmaker, sit and chat for hours at a time about nothing specific. He never really knew exactly what this Listmaker found so fascinating about him, but he found this Listmaker’s general nature fascinating. What he learned was how this Listmaker would write a list for each day to which this Listmaker would then adhere to, absolutely. Some days, at the boy child’s request, this Listmaker would sometimes make a list for him, and then the boy child would find that he, too, would be bound by the list for that day. He, of course, determined this strict process hilariously fun, a feature to his life that drew him ever closer to this Listmaker and this Listmaker’s precise skill. On other days, the boy child would arrive at this Listmaker’s house to find that this Listmaker already knew all of the questions he had planned to ask, and as each question rose to the surface of his mind, this Listmaker would simply answer each question before he uttered one word, essentially making the entire conversation quite one-sided. The scene of a young boy silently sitting in an armchair while this Listmaker spouted out seemingly random information must have looked serenely odd to any observer.

Some villagers enjoyed the eccentric nature of this Listmaker (although, unknown to them as a Listmaker), especially since, as a mostly garden-loving village, the villagers could always find a healthy ladybug population of which this Listmaker generously allowed the distribution. Many villagers, however, decided that this Listmaker and all of the surrounding hearsay made this Listmaker a person who ought to be generally avoided. Nevertheless, this Listmaker’s prominence within the village could not be ignored. Most failed to understand how this Listmaker grew to be a person within the upper echelon of intelligence within the community, and those who did understand this Listmaker refused to share the significance. This refusal to disseminate this Listmaker’s eminence confused the boy child greatly, so the boy child, as he grew, would try to convince the villagers of this Listmaker’s power. But whenever the boy child would visit this Listmaker, this Listmaker would kindly request that he cease his attempt to change the mind’s of the villagers. After the concise request, this Listmaker, without fail, would end each conversation about the boy’s need to convince others with these words, “Ignorance is not the fault of the ignorant. Ignorant people are fully necessary; they balance the intelligent. If everyone’s ‘intelligent’, statistically, there are still the ten percent who would be the intelligent, not including the distinction between the ten percent of the top ten percent, making everyone else, the remaining ninety, the ignorant, cycled forever, on a continuum with each new batch of intelligence birthing ignorance and filtering out the ten-percent that’s deemed intelligent.” And every time this Listmaker ended the small condemnation of his frustration at “stupid people,” the boy would roll his eyes, until one day, when the boy was no longer a boy, he looked at this Listmaker as a sorrowful revelation befell him and asked, “Why don’t you just write lists for everyone so that they can live better lives?”

With his question lingering in the air, this Listmaker consulted the day’s list, and then answered him with a question, “Would you want to write a list for every person who came asking for one?” “Yes,” he answered without hesitation; “If I could educate every person who came my way, I would, without another thought.” “Yes, exactly,” this Listmaker pointed out; “I, too, would educate every person who came my way.” And then that sorrowful feeling slapped him in the face again. He understood what this Listmaker said. He understood the truth this Listmaker explained. He understood the Listmaker.

Seated now on the edge of the porch, he sits and fondly remembers his first encounter with a Listmaker. Then, he remembers why he is sitting on the porch of a Listmaker now. He takes a deep breath and ultimately decides that he must break into the house. This meeting cannot be wasted. Thus, he stands himself up and walks to the sliding glass door. First, obviously, he tests the door handle. The door slides open easily to the sound of the frame’s sealant resisting the detachment. You have to be fucking kidding me, he laughs to himself. Slowly, he slides the door open just wide enough to enter through the threshold. Right hand on the glass door’s handle, the left braced upon the door frame, he pokes his head into the house, “Hello? Hello? Is anyone home?” He waits. Silence greets him. He waits a bit longer. A noise from the kitchen. He jumps ever so slightly. The refrigerator kicks on. “I’m coming in now,” he shouts out to whoever may be hiding. One foot at a time with a brief pause in between, he quietly enters and then slides the door shut behind him. “Hello?” he again shouts aloud.

Bright, straight and serious, the kitchen space beams in modernity almost to the point of futurity. Similarly, the living area looks so strict that it almost seems as if nobody could possibly ever sit on that sofa. To the mugs on the counter area that differentiates the kitchen space from the living area he walks since the pairing of the mugs stands out to him. Everything about the kitchen sits immaculately clean and ordered, yet the two mugs sit, still half-filled with cold coffee, dried droplets of coffee stain the countertop near the mugs. A bowl of sugar sits, exposed, the lid of which abandons the sugar to the elements. Warm, a carton of almond milk accompanies the setup. He examines the carton and reads: REFRIGERATE ONCE OPENED. He sets the carton down and looks around some more, but there’s really nothing else to look at within the kitchen. Scrubbed clean and shining white, the sink sits empty along with the dishrack. Figuring that there is probably not much else to be learned in the kitchen, he scans the living area. Again, the space is clean and ordered, not a speck of dust or creased cushion/pillow to be seen anywhere. Even the plants stand tall at attention, perfectly balanced as if rotated regularly. He moves on through the living area into what looks like a study.

In heavy contrast, dark, rounded and overly ornate, the study features a heavy wooden desk facing out through the window. A full floor-to-ceiling bookcase, also of dark wood and crammed to the brim with books, line the entire right wall of the space upon entrance from the living area. A wooden step stool sits in front of the wall of books, while a wooden, chartreuse-cushioned armchair sits in the small corner made of the small piece of wall shared with the living area on the left, when facing the corner, and the wall shared by the stairs to the right, the corner directly behind the chair, assumedly being centered with the countertop in the space beyond the wall that separates the kitchen space from the living area. A person wishing to walk from the living area into, what seems to be, the entryway must walk through this space and if in a hurry, might bump into the aforementioned armchair. As he examines said armchair, he notices that perhaps it sits a bit askew since the rug upon which the front left leg of the chair, if sitting in it, rests is curled up under the leg and a tiny scuff mark suggests that his assumption holds true. The other chair in the room tucks under the heavy wooden desk and greatly resembles the desk as if, undoubtedly, part of a set. Of the rolling variety, the chair lacks cushions but provides arm rests, and the chair itself rocks forward and back on some sort of spring attached to the spoked-style legs set upon a wheels and castors system. He pulls open the drapes. Not a single speck of dust relieves itself from the fabric. Sun shines through the room to reveal the extent of its disarray. On edge, he peers out through the window and eyes the property. He sees no one. Nevertheless, he remembers the backdoor and jogs through the house to lock it. Returning to the study, the room seems dramatically worse in the light of day.

A seriously chaotic mess, the room, strewn with slips of paper, full sheets of paper, pages of books, whole books, writing utensils and other stationery-related products, suggests some sort of malfeasance, especially when considering the general atmosphere of the other two rooms. Hanging on one of the walls, a clock reads ten minutes past seven. Unsure about the exact time but not knowing any better at this exact moment, he reads the time as being logical, given that his arrival had to have been sometime around half-past six that same morning. He rummages through the slips of paper. “Lists,” he whispers to himself. Sheet after sheet after sheet of list after list after list cover every inch of the desk and carpet much of the floor. At random, he picks a slip off the floor and peruses line by line. The paper upon which this list was written feels smooth, old, only slightly wrinkled. Taken as a whole, the slip curves on itself a bit as if it has been rolled up. Of course, he is fully aware of the Listmaker’s proclivities to make lists, and so, the nature of the elements within the room do not surprise him at all. What is surprising, however, is that the room seems devastatingly disheveled.

Where is he? he thinks to himself, remembering that he must speak with the Listmaker. He does not really have the time to figure out what happened here, unless, he realizes, whatever happened here was not intentional, and hence, the reason behind the Listmaker’s absence. He mulls a few options while scanning the room for any further clues. Imperatively, he decides that he will search the rest of the house, if only quickly to see if any other information about the Listmaker’s whereabouts jumps out at him.

Onward through the study, he stands in the entryway, behind the front door. He looks through the small round window out to the lawn once again, still, no one. A hallway lines the right side of the staircase and ends at a door with no knob but rather, has a horizontal, rectangular metal panel where one ought to push in order to make one’s way through the door that he assumes leads into the kitchen. Through the entryway to the other side of the house, another sitting/living area opens out into a dining room. Both rooms match the sleek, sterile modernity of the kitchen space and other living areas. He pokes a head into each room, but nothing seems out of place. Testing to see how clean the space actually is, he runs a finger over half a dozen, seemingly random surfaces and each surface affirms nothing but sheer, obsessive cleanliness. He sighs a deep sigh, the sort of sigh one sighs when things do not add up, no matter how hard one tries. Back to the entryway and up the stairs he goes.

Half-way up the stairs he comes to a landing and then the stairs take a one-eighty and continue upwards. The second floor opens out into one large room that covers the area of the second sitting/living area and the study below. Lined fully with floor-to-ceiling windows, the wall that looks out onto the front of the property houses French doors that open out onto a porch the length and depth of the front porch below. Around and to the right, once scaling the staircase, the room continues to open out into a futuristic office full of variously aged technology. To the left, a wall with a set of double-doors. A queasy sensation hits him in the gut. He does not want to go into the room, but he knows that he must. The fear of finding someone unsavory almost deters him. Stubborn is the most common word other people use to describe him, and while his stubbornness may sometimes be confused for bravery, he would not describe himself as a brave person. Nevertheless, he summons the stubborn and reminds himself that he must find the Listmaker as soon as possible.

Knock, knock, knock, he gently taps on the door. Silence. Knock, knock, knock, knock, a little louder this time, and then he waits. Silence. Indecisive, he considers the most beneficial/safest door to open if an intruder hides within the room. Inconclusive, he opts for the right door so that he can easily punch with his free left hand. Cautiously, he creaks the door open. Dim but not dark, the room smells of a fresh breeze. Immediately, he notices the lumpiness of the bed and then sees the face of a man at its head. Startled at the figure of a human being lying in the bed, he jumps and then whips his head around to furiously scan the room for an attacker. Through an ajar door at the far end of the room he can see the fixtures of a bathroom. Another set of double doors remain closed at the foot of the bed. Quietly, he jogs to the bathroom, and at the ready, he jumps into the tiled space. Empty. A quick look around exposes nothing. He jogs back into the bedroom and swings the double doors open wide. Prepared, he soon realizes that the enormous walk-in closet sits nearly empty. Of course he is relieved that no threatening person jumped out to disable him, but he also feels a little disappointed at his cowardice. Nevertheless, with his safety procured, he rushes to the person in the bed.

Lightly, he presses two fingers to the carotid artery in the man’s neck. A pulse. Closely now, he looks at the face of the man in the bed. “The Listmaker,” he whispers aloud. He does not know whether or not he should call an emergency service. He decides that he really cannot do such a thing, since, in all actuality, he should not even be here. She’ll be here soon anyway, he thinks to himself with the understanding that for her to have “found” the Listmaker in this condition will be safer for the both of them. He searches the area surrounding the bed. A little unnerved, he peeks under the bedspread to see that the Listmaker is fully clothed. “Hmmm,” he sort of murmurs to himself. Sitting now at the edge of the foot of the bed, he wonders about what could possibly be going on. There exists little about the world in general that he does not or cannot understand, but situations of this nature are of the variety that he rarely comes across. Presumptively, probably no “normal” person would come across such a situation. His mind clouds with skepticism, uncertainty and worst of all, suspicion. “Fucking old man,” he scowls under his breath. More words of the old man press upon his mind. Know this, the voice of the old man surfaces, by the time you realize you should have heard my message, I will be unable to cooperate, for the answers to the questions will have been discovered.

“Fuck,” he spits aloud, and then looks over to the Listmaker to see if he had aroused him. Frustrated he rests his face in his hands. And then he sees it, something small and round under the bedside table. Frantically, he rushes over to the bedside table and gets on all fours. With his face pressed on the ground, he sees that he can easily reach the thing. Retrieved, he holds a spool of, what seems to be, thermal receipt paper. The same stuff from downstairs, he recalls. The top portion has been ripped off with the first line partially reading:

1811           what the stran               wants

Just above the last entry the lines read:

1800 – 1801 Consult the day’s list

1801 – 1810 Complete tomorrow’s to-do list

1810 – 1811 Answer the door to see who knocks

and account for the earlier part of the day in its entirety. “Yesterday,” he whispers to himself as he reads the date at the top of the list, and then he notices another list beginning at the top of “yesterday’s” list with the latest hour nearest the bottom as the spool unrolls. As he unspools the list, merely looking for an end to the present list, he reaches a timestamp at roughly 0758 hours where the list ceases to outline the beginning of the day, “Today,” he quickly realizes. The first timestamp on “today” or the last line item the Listmaker wrote “yesterday” reads:

0758 – 0805 Water open-air garden

With the list’s end being before the day began, he begins to wonder why the Listmaker failed to write in the first part of the day. He looks over the list for “yesterday.” The day begins at 0630 with these two items being the first on the list:

0637 – 0638 Get out of bed

0630 – 0635 Wake

“‘Today’ lacks a wake time,” he audibly contemplates. Then he examines the list closely, reading each item, until a very specific happening captures all of his attention. “Shit,” he speaks aloud.

He reads the lines over and over again, and this is what it reads:

1206 – 1207 She will arrive

1207 – 1210 Walk out and greet her at the edge of dirt drive

1210 – 1211 Invite her in for lunch

1211 – 1215 Make her feel comfortable, offer water

1215 – 1235 Make sandwiches, attempt small talk

1235 – 1255 Eat lunch and discuss why she is here

1255 – 1256 Ask her directly what she wants

1256 – 1257 Ask her again

1257 – 1258 Reiterate that she must

1258 – 1311 Listen

1311 – 1312 Agree to her request and convey the urgency of the situation

1312 – 1313 Walk to desk and find a free sheet of paper

1313 – 1314 Prepare her list

For an unknowable amount of time he stares at the list, until suddenly, he grasps the gravity of the event listed that he now reads. “What fucking time is it?” he asks himself as he searches the room for a clock. His eyes rest on an analog clock on the wall that reads a time he does not understand. “Seven-ten?” he mutters; “Still?” And then his entire body grows cold. Quickly, he checks the pulse of the Listmaker. “Okay, good. Hang in there, please,” he begs the Listmaker. Running out of the room and down the stairs, he has to figure out what time it is. Through the front door he burst into the front lawn, out in the sunlight. Overhead the sun still sits fairly low, just over the tops of the trees. Okay, motherfucker, okay, I have a little time, he determines. Back in the house now, he furiously digs and searches through the stacks and piles of lists. What he looks for, he cannot be too sure, but he is sure that he’ll know it when he sees it. 

김치 Day

김치 Day

I’ve cried in more Korean restaurants in Korea than I’ve cried in total in my lifetime. 

There’s something about being adopted that makes me feel insecure about my Korean-ness.

I cried because eating Korean food made me feel as though I had no idea how to be Korean. 

And the reality is that I don’t know how to be Korean. 

BUT I AM KOREAN.

And so, I taught myself how to make 김치 [kimchi], the napa cabbage variety (that is kimchi whenever someone is talking about kimchi is going to be napa cabbage kimchi, but kimchi really needs to be thought of more as “pickled” therefore requiring the mind to accept that kimchi is not one thing but many things), that is specifically named bae-choo kimchi [배추김치] being my favorite, if clarity (when buying kimchi, per se) is required.  

Now, I feel entitled in some small way to claim my Korean-ness. 

But it shouldn’t have to be this way. My Korean-ness is of the United Statesian + Adopted variety. Wholly unique but not nearly alone. There are more than 150K of us (not all in the U.S.). 

I know many fellow Korean Adoptees, and I love you all. None of our stories are the same. They are similar, of course, and nobody will really understand us but each other, but we all have a strange relationship with ourselves (and each other). It’s unlike any other type of racial identity in these United States, and I am grateful to know so many people who do understand me. 

If you had asked me when I was a child if I would still have adoption issues at this very-adult age, I would have said, “I hope not.” But I do, and I feel old, and I feel ridiculous for still having “issues” with being an adopted child, but alas, the “issues” persist. 

And I get really fucking frustrated when I read the sorta shit that these insta-parents who have adopted children think of as “good” advice, when the reality is that very few of them, as far as I know, actually speak to adult adoptees about how best to raise their adopted children. Curious. 

I will soon be acknowledging the anniversary of my adoption day, Tiffany Day. 

Case-in-point, if anyone had asked me how I felt about re-hashing my adoption every single year, I woulda opted out, one-hundred percent, guaranteed. 

But I got presents.

But nobody ever asked me anything about what I wanted with regards to being an adopted child. 

I met my birth mother at the age of thirteen. Not recommended. Nobody even asked me if I wanted to meet her until the week before I found out that she even existed, and while sitting in front of a pile of presents from her, I was supposed to decide whether or not I would meet her. I call foul.

So, no, I no longer celebrate Tiffany Day because it’s a day that makes me sad. Despite whatever anyone might think about how much joy it should bring me “to be so lucky that I was an adopted orphan,” find out whether or not the adopted person to whom you’re speaking feels lucky about being adopted. Not all of us feel “so lucky.” 

Of course, I am GRATEFUL, but luck and gratitude are hardly the same thing. 

For now, as Tiffany Days come and go this year and in the future, I will see the day approach, and I will dig deep into my Korean-ness with the hope to someday be okay with the fact that I’m the kind of Korean only I can be, which requires that I be only me.  

I’m a FREE AGENT. 

Happy Kimchi Day!

Part III: When

Part III: When

Encapsulated within a nightscape of galaxies far beyond and throughout, an island made of hopes and fears wraps itself around water, purple and pooled. Centered, a glass house, seemingly molded and melded as one piece, as a whole, floats as an island upon the pool wrapped on an island. A single blue droplet drops. Splunk. A white and blue mist swirl as the droplet spits up an even smaller droplet that eventually falls only to spit up another, even smaller droplet in a continuance that spawns forever. Formless again, she reaches both hands out in front of what she used to know as her “face”, only to see … nothing. The nothingness of herself feels weightless, free, chilled.

Bubbles form in the distance. She hears their whispers. Back so soon? the bubbles ask. Is it soon? she questions. Far too soon, but the question is not why. Understanding that the how, obviously, seems more pertinent, she wonders, I have been here before? The bubbles swarm and swirl about her, The sun has barely set before you returned. Do you not remember? She admits and reveals the thing she could not reveal and thus, kept tuck away just beyond Attila’s reach, I remember that I have forgotten, but I cannot remember what it is that I’ve forgotten. Letting out bubbles, the bubbles continue, What else do you remember? She waits for a moment until something tickles the back of her mind, The Executioners? “Yes, indeed we are,” the Executioners exclaim with delight; “What else! What else?” She feels a pang of familiarity, I’ve been here many times. “So many times that we’ve lost count! What else! What else?” But what is this place? “When.” When? “Yes, what you mean to ask is ‘When is this place?’” When is this place? “It is now.” When was I just a moment ago? “The Will.” Will I stay here forever? “We hope not!” Then to when am I going? “The Was.” Why? “Oh, of course, no one could tell you that, not even us.” Why not? “No one can know such a thing.” How much longer will I be now? “Not much longer now, Red is coming.” What is that? “Not what. Who.” Who? “Who what?” Who is coming? “Red is coming.” Feeling frustrated as if she’s talking in circles to a school of bubbles, she lets the question go.

What am I supposed to do now, until Red comes? “But you already know.” Yes, I’ve forgotten, however. “Forgetting is the least of your worries, Blue.” What’d you call me? “Blue. You’re Blue.” I am? “Oh my, we are afraid the forgetting is quite bad.” But can’t you remind me, help me remember? “Unfortunately, there are some things that simply cannot be told. But we do know when to send you to next!” When? To when will you send me? “No, not to when but to whom.” To whom will you send me? “You will know as soon as you know.” She sighs, slightly defeated but feeling optimistic. Can I go now? “No. Red has not arrived.” When will Red get here? “Not when, where.” Where will Red get here? “Where will Red arrive.” Where? “Who knows.” She lets out another sigh, examines the nothingness that feels like her physical form, but alas, she sees nothing of her physical form.

A green light shines through the water, floats above and beyond the liquid. She wriggles her formless self to the surface. Glowing, the glass house shines bright over the purple pool of water. My house. “Yes,” the Executioners sing as each bubble leaps into the air, disappearing, only to reappear once they hit the water. She feels a soothing warmth radiate from the bubbles that swim around her as they carry her toward the glass island.

Feeling the smooth, rounded curves of a house made of glass, floating upon a pool made of water, an overwhelming sensation of satisfaction overcomes her, Do I live here? “No.” What? Why not? “How could you?” the Executioners wonder. How could I not? I’m about to right now? “No, you will not live there.” What do you mean? “You’re not alive, of course.” What? How did I die? “Oh, you’re not dead.” Then what am I? In some kind of limbo? “When. When are you?” No! What? If I’m not alive and I’m not dead, WHAT am I? “When are you?” Ugh! she screams out in confused frustration. She swims around the rounded island until she reaches stair-like indentations. Pulling herself onto the glass island, she reaches the place where a sort of lawn might open out across the homes of yore and looks out over the water. On the horizon, a dark nighttime sky filled with twinkling suns and dust. She walks around the house looking for an entrance. Nothing. She can, nevertheless, peer through the glass into the house. Without some brighter light, though, she sees nothing except the radiant glow of the green light. Remembering, she takes another look down at herself again, still also nothing. Tired and a little weary, she finds a ledge upon which to sit where she can dip just her feet into the water. Warm now, she feels content, looking out over the horizon.

She sits for an unknowable amount of time until finally, the Executioners whisper out to her once more, “We think that you will be leaving soon.” When will I return? “Of course, no one could know such a thing.” Of course. “Don’t forget us.” I will remember. “No, do not forget.” I will not forget. “And be careful. The when to where you are going seems fickle and formidable.” So you do know to when I going! “Of course, we can know many things.” To when am I going then? “We cannot know for sure.” Ugh. What am I supposed to do? “We cannot tell you what to do because we do not know what will happen, but there exists a … a person … a Listmaker, who can do such a thing.” What? Who? “A Listmaker can make you a list.” A list of what? “What to do.” How will I find him? “You will have to travel there.” But I cannot control my destination. “You can’t? You remember this?” Wait! Oh my hats-on-a-tree. Can I control where I go? “Not where. When.” She stands with excitement, Wait, can I control when? “When what?” When in time I arrive. “That would mean you can travel through time. Who says you can time-travel?” Oh, that’s right. I don’t know; I forgot. The Executioners swirl even harder and faster at the edge of the pool where the glass-house island floats.

She remembers a time when she lived in a town built into the side of an enormous boulder. Not everyone lived within the boulder, of course, but the main area of town was set inside it. She, being of the orphan variety, ended up living with a nice family who lived a little down the way near the base of the hill where the three creeks meet. Atop the hill sat the most wonderful library where she would spend all of her days reading and getting lost in all of the ideas she found there.

An odd little feeling tingles at the tips of her toes. Still dipped in the purple water, she wiggles and stretches them to relieve the sensation. Slowly she lifts her feet out from the water, but alas, there are no toes, no feet, just the perception, the impression of them. She sighs and continues to remember the memory.

Around the time she was in her late teens, she and some friends used to explore all of the little nooks and crannies, dark alleys and hidden caves around and within the small town’s boulder. One day, at some point, she was separated from the rest of her friends. She never really felt the so-called pangs of fear that so many other people seemed to grapple with on a daily basis, like fears of death and pain. The only fear to which she could relate was that of broken heartedness. She never fully understood the pain, of course, for she never remembered loving anyone, but for some reason, she always felt somber, melancholic, lost. It was on this day when she found herself alone within the town that she stumbled upon an interesting shop that seemed to sell various herbs or other-type plants all neatly sorted and organized in glass containers on countless rows of wall-to-wall shelving. A young man, roughly her age, came out from behind a curtained doorway, and without looking at her, while reaching behind a countertop for something, said something to the effect of, “I’m glad you came back for your wallet.” As the young man stood to face the customer, he immediately recognized her, but she did not recognize him. “I’m sorry,” she said; “I have never been in here before. I think you have me confused with someone else.” Still staring, the young man muttered something inaudible. “Sorry,” she stated, not apologetically, of course, but politely; “I didn’t catch that.” The young man began looking around the space as if the walls were going to come down around them or something. “I, uh,” the young man attempted, and then he burst into a joyful tone and with a huge smile responded, ”Holy fuck! How did, you shouldn’t, maybe we, uh, wait.” Confused, she continued to stand in that shop while the young man ran back into the backroom through the curtained doorway.

A moment later, the young man returned with a package for her, “You should leave since we don’t know the exact parameters of this iteration.” “What?” she asked, still fully confused. “What, what?” the young man asked, also confused by her negligence and somewhat aloofness. “Here take this, and then I’ll be in touch with you,” the young man urged while setting the package on the counter and motioning for her to take it. Despite not knowing exactly what was going on, she decided to take the package. “Yes, that’s good,” the young man stated, still smiling; “I’m so happy to see you. You look amazing. You’re so beautiful. How’s your life?” “Uh,” she wondered aloud; “I’m sorry, but how do you know me?” At this point, the young man now also felt confused and, knowing the risk, walked around the counter to face her directly, “What do you mean?” She inched away from the young man and suddenly felt that pang of heart-broken, stomach-emptying dullness. She leaned forward to look at the young man’s face. Immediately, the young man’s face changed, softened, and then he dropped his head and spoke almost in a whisper, “Take the package, open it somewhere safe, when you’re alone, and come back tomorrow. I’ll look out for you just after midday.” “What’s in the package,” she asked. “You’ll find out as soon as you open it,” the young man explained with sad, aching eyes as he looked at her. Not really knowing what to say at this point, she turned to leave the shop. Just as she reached the door, she looked back behind her, “Thank you.” “I’ve missed you so much,” the young man responded. She stopped and turned to face him again, “What did you say?” “It’s nothing,” the young man clarified; “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Thoroughly uncomfortable, she left the shop and walked toward her house. As she watched one foot step in front of the other, the lighting of the world around her changed, like when some thick clouds passed in front of the sun, but instead of growing dimmer, everything turned bluer. She looked around herself and saw that everything was turning blue. Confused, she suddenly heard the voice of the young man, and then she saw him running toward her from the shop. The space between them took on a purple hue, but when she looked from side to side, the world was still quite blue. “Come here! Come here, now! Run!” the young man yelled; “Run toward me!” Shocked, she could not move. “Hurry!” the young man continued to yell. As he drew closer, the world started to turn green, a violent, shocking green. She decided that she would listen and started to walk toward the young man who was running toward her. Within another few seconds, the young man grabbed her and held her tight, “I love you. I’m sorry I didn’t find you sooner.” The warmth of his body felt so good to her that she let go of all the random feelings she felt and responded, “I love you, too. So much.” Her own words startled her, but they revealed themselves to be true. The young man grabbed her face with both his hands and looked deep into her eyes, “Whenever we end up, I promise, I will find you.” “I don’t know what you mean,” she gasped as tears began to fall down her cheeks for some reason unknown to her. “I know, and you’re going to be alright. Just try to remember to stay calm and stay on the move. Also, try to remember …”

She wracks her mind for the last thing that he said to her, but there’s nothing. The last thing she remembers is a whooshing sound almost like the sound a zipper makes in the dark. She looks beyond the pool of purple water, through the horizon and then tilts her head to gaze up into the nighttime sky. She splashes the water with her feet as she tries to remember the guiding words of the young man. “Stay calm and stay on the move,” echoes through her mind. What did he mean by that? she wonders.

Bubbles, the Executioners swirl around her feet once more, causing a small whirlpool that begins to splash her. Feeling the splashes but seeing no evidence of getting wet, she sits, and then she remembers. “I remember something. I think,” she says aloud to the Executioners. “Yes,” they respond. “But I don’t understand it. Is it a memory or something else?” she asks. The Executioners swirl around some more, “Do you not remember what you remembered as a memory?” She thinks for a moment, “I have no memories because I don’t remember anything.” “Yes, we have talked about this already,” the Executioners admit. Standing now, indignant, she raises her voice as she pitches forward to shout at the water, “Then why won’t you help me and answer my questions!” she asks. “We do not have the answers,” the Executioners explain; “We know what you know, and if you don’t know something, we cannot know it either.” “But you told me about the Listmaker,” she contends. “A Listmaker,” the Executioners clarify. “Okay, fine, a Listmaker. So, what? You told me about that, and I didn’t know that that was who I needed to visit,” she continues. “Yes,” the Executioners concede; “We were able to tell you about how you need to find a Listmaker because you already know at when you need to arrive next, even if you are not aware of it now. Somewhere, deep in your mind, you already know when and where you need to go.” She accepts this on some level and then asks, “How?” The Executioners cease their swirl, “You just don’t remember.” Frustration flushes her face. “Do not fret,” the Executioners cheerfully bubble again; “The when is coming, and once you are when you are supposed to be, you will begin to remember, but only if you can find a Listmaker.” She sighs and audibly grunts, incensed. And then a small whisper tingles the tips of her toes, Stay calm and stay on the move. “Ugh!” she exclaims at the waters. “Yes,” the Executioners agree; “Stay calm and stay on the move. The when has come. It’s time to leave.” Filled with worry and dread, she shouts, “Where am I going!” “Not where, when,” the Executioners reiterate. “Fine! When!” she shouts in futility. The Executioners disperse and their answer radiates through the air in a murmur she can barely hear, “But you know. Find what you cannot remember.”

With the final breeze of the Executioners words, the purple pool begins to swell. Red droplets of rain fall from above and turn the purple pool into a crisp clear. Intuitively, she jumps into the water. As if the glass house was lit from the inside, a blinding white light expands out from her glass house and fills the surrounding space around her. She melts. She floats. Colorful droplets of various pigments slowly splash and sprinkle above her and diffuse all around her. She warms. The scene of a lush, green landscape forms before her. Underfoot, a dirt road stretches out, cutting through the green foliage, eventually opening out into a clearing, which leads to a dark-blue shuttered, white, colonial-type, country home in desperate need of repair. The sun beams down upon her face as she lifts her face to it. Stay calm, she reminds herself. Then she remembers the next part, Stay on the move. And so, shod in her fancy shoes, she walks down the dirt road toward the semi-tattered house.

Robe One

Robe One

…this “silk robe” (&I use quotations here as this one is made out of a polyester crepe, I believe but dunno) is, by far, currently my single most-favorite item of non-winter clothing (my overwhelming joy for winter outerwear will not be outdone by a robe); I absolutely feel awesome whenever wearing it, and I wear it a lot but not too much cause I don’t wanna wear it out. It makes me feel important as it swishes behind me, and the best compliment I’ve ever received in my entire life was in Seoul when a teacher/acquaintance of my lifemate said, outloud, while we, a small group of people partying in the name of a foreigner’s farewell, were walking from one 노래방 to another, “You look like a queen the way your…cape?…moves so elegantly.” I thanked her profusely. Koreans are not shy about speaking their mind when it comes to your appearance (for instance, another teacher at my lifemate’s school once greeted me at the door by saying, “Oh, Tiffany, you look so tired, today,” to which I replied, “This is what everyone looks like, when they don’t makeup,” and I never wear makeup), so when you receive an actual compliment, you can take it to the bank. 

And they do this with your best interest at heart, I promise. As jarring as it is, I do honestly think that Koreans believe that they are doing you a favor by telling you when you look bad, if a haircut does not suit you, if you’ve gotten a bit fatter, etc., etc., &c. Koreans are people, too, so yea, of course they’re capable of pettiness and what have you, so I’ve seen my fair share of backhanded compliments &or the giving of compliments that are obviously mean. But really, the way that Koreans truly diss you (in my opinion, and yes, the entirety of this writing is all opinion, conjecture, the ramblings of an outside observer with only an inkling of an inside track) is simply by not seeing you. They’ll truly just ignore you. It’s a skill I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to master, especially now after being on the receiving end of sheer void while staring into the face of another human being. 

I hadn’t put the robe in such grandiose terms in my own mind, but it felt good to hear that that’s how they perceived it. And so, I remember the day I purchased the thing quite vividly in my mind. Ever since moving to Korea, the lifemate and I had been trying to figure out how and what sort of style we wanted to have. Having rid ourselves of all our stuff except the bare essentials, we were essentially freed to reimagine our look (the lifemate for the first time, me for the umpteenth). I’ve always been shooting toward something so fuckingly brilliantly described by Shalewa Sharpe [@silkyjumbo] as “Rumspringa Realness,” and I feel like I was able to start aiming toward that “look” in Seoul. Essentially, everything I wore needed to be oversized, and in Korea, that’s a tough ask as a very average-sized United Statesian. 

In Seoul, I learned that not only was I the largest available size for “regular” women, I was basically the same size as a men’s medium. Hmmm. So, this whole prospect of going over-sized was slow going at first since the purple jeggings that I’m wearing (the entirety of this outfit, socks, underwear and all is from our days in Seoul) are literally a Korean LARGE. I’m five feet and nearly five inches tall and weigh 127 lbs (a little over fifty-seven-and-a-half kilograms, largely “fat” by Korean standards). Nevertheless, oversized is a look in Asia, and Asians love it. 

So, basically, I started by looking at what the Korean mommies wore. Korean mommies who can afford (either with high income or strained credit, not so unlike the U.S.) to send their children to private English kindergarten are doing pretty well, so when it comes to style, they’re looking pretty good. The thing I noticed is that Koreans enjoy dark colors, don outerwear that works in favor of super-city mass-transit commuting, care less about shoes than one would imagine (again due mostly, in my theory, to the pedestrian-centric nature of Seoul living, and the fact that one must remove their shoes when entering homes, some restaurants, and other sorts of places where shoes are simply not allowed), and typically wear clothing that suits the floor-seating lifestyle of Asia, not to mention that to live and move within and throughout a super-city requires impeccable, professional-level purse/man-purse usage/organizational skills. Holding up a subway entrance/exit gate or slowing down any sort of anything is…I don’t even know how to say it…because it’s beyond rude…it’s ugh, shameful.   

For business professionals, I’d say that a pencil skirt suit, flouncy blouse, black pumps, and impeccable skin/hair/nails are a must. At the English academies with which I was familiar, clothing was more casual, but still always with clean hair, nails and face (I refuse to comment on the foreign teachers’ typically blatant disregard for professional wear). And as far as street wear was concerned (&I use was because I left almost exactly two years ago, and like anyone who has ever been to Seoul, I cannot pretend to know anything about what life is like there, today), Koreans dress more to signal their age first and then, their financial status. In Korea, you fit in by fitting in. Even your haircut signals your age-range. My face had me mostly fall into the mommy category (but would often get strange looks because I wore my hair too long to be a mommy) with questions about whether or not I had a boy or a girl, where my kids were, how old my kids were despite the fact that I was never actually seen with this imagined child because someone who looked roughly my age with a “husband” needed to have kids, somewhere, despite whether or not my kimchi lady ever saw them, and I’d awkwardly have to say that “No, I don’t have any kids. I don’t want any,” to which they’d return a sad face as they think that I’m incapable of having children. But in the case of my kimchi lady, I couldn’t make her believe me, but she always gave me a lot of free food and a sad sympathetic smile whenever I stopped by, so, at least I got a little something out of being childless. 

There’s little to no room to stand out, but that is slowly changing, and because the idea of standing out is slowly being accepted, it will become “normal” to “stand out,” thereby creating an entirely new culture birthed from the acceptance of something new that now must be adopted by society as a whole. Read this however positively or negatively as you’d like. Seoul doesn’t care. 

Ultimately, I shopped every time I left my house. I was constantly on the prowl for the perfect pieces to define my style. In the meantime, I started slowly building up my collection of solid-color staples. Currently, the following items round out what I’d label as “Solid-Color Staples,” and each of the items can be worn with multiple other staples as well as with multiple different statement or style items: Just kidding. I just walked into our closet to see what’s going on, and that’s a hard NO right now. I will do a full itemized list of my “capsule collection” at some point, but that point has yet to come.

And then, the most perfect day arrived. While aboard one of the numerous subway lines, along the best subway transit system in the world, I saw them. I saw the perfect Korean. I saw the person who was already embodying the style I wished for myself every time I shopped. I saw them, and in that moment, I knew that it was possible. I just had to keep an open mind. I will not describe this perfect person because I do not want to influence the decisions of any future sartorially-minded intellectuals. They embodied everything I was hoping to achieve, and I loved that they were a bit older than me. I could tell they were not my age, and so I resigned myself to the reality that achieving my ultimate style will take time, and in that time, it might change more than once. But no matter, I was renewed with hope to really create the style I wanted for myself.

And then, the most perfect item crossed paths with me on a routine run (literally) to our local Homeplus. If you haven’t been to Korea recently, Homeplus and Lotte Mart and EMart and the likes of all of these types of indoor, vertical strip malls, these types of “malls” typically include a grocery store in the basement, clothing and knick-knack shops, a restaurant sometimes, dry cleaning, car detailing, any sort of basic services throughout the main floors and vertically for a few floors, and then at the very top of the parking garage that tops the few floors of stores sits a movie theater, most often times accompanied by a coffee shop (or two), concessions, and sometimes, more restaurants. These are not to be confused with department stores, which are very similar but are larger and have a more department-store-on-steroids feel (our favorites being 신세계 의정부 and 용산 아이파크 [post-construction]), whereas these other indoor strip malls (I clearly do not know if they have an official name) are more akin to a Wal-Mart Supercenter on steroids, both will have movie theaters on the top floors…typically. Anyhow…

It was just a normal day. We had run (like I said, literally, about three miles, one way, a typical run+grocery scenario played out about two-to-three times a week, spread across two different strip malls [롯데마트 and the 홈플러스 중계점] and our neighborhood department store 롯데백화점노원점) to Homeplus, and as we were rounding to the left through the double sliding doors, I saw this robe hanging from one of the clothes stalls I routinely peruse when we have time to peruse. It was hanging at the end of the clothes rack; I made a beeline toward it, saw the sticker price was about 50,000₩ (a little less than $50, at the time), then saw that it was on sale for 32,000₩. Score. I asked the lifemate for some money (not because I don’t have my own money but because I had no money on me at the time because I had not planned on shopping for clothes), and he coughed it up. That was back in early 2015. I’ve basically designed my entire wardrobe around this…robe. 

For travel, I used to wear this item because it served well as a little cover-up if the airplane was too cold and because it folded up into a tiny ball and took up little space. It dries quickly, and I also own a more springtime robe for spring. More recently, I’ve updated my travel outfit to be even more globally appropriate, but I suppose we won’t be seeing that for a while. It is an outfit I do wear, often through the transitioning of seasons, so perhaps we will actually see it quite soon! Who knows. For now, today is about this robe. I enjoy wearing it; you can’t ruin my mood if I’m in it, and it can be worn with pretty much every combination of my solid-colored staples. The only time it becomes completely awkward to wear is when the temperature requires an outer layer. Despite being a great transition item, it doesn’t actually keep me warm once we near the low teens, and the robe is an absolute fashion nightmare to wear under a coat…especially if that coat is shorter than the thing. I’ve only been caught once in that type of situation, and it will never happen again. Boo. 

Until next time ✌💗🌱

The Listmaker

The Listmaker

The Listmaker feels the pull of the list urging him to take a look. Unwilling to reveal his list to the stranger, he ignores the pull. Picking up on some new discomfort within the Listmaker, “Something wrong?” Cinoa asks. “Oh, no, I’m fine,” the Listmaker lies. “So, say, where did you used to live before?” Cinoa cordially prods for the sake of consistency. The Listmaker no longer enjoys the small talk with the stranger and attempts to shrug off the stranger’s cordiality, “Oh, you know, here and there.” “I see,” Cinoa responds as he takes a sip of his coffee while maintaining fixed eyes on the Listmaker. Unwilling to look rude in front of the stranger, the Listmaker feigns a trip to the pantry in order to get a feel for his wristwatch, “Would you like something to eat?” Cinoa keeps sharp tabs on the Listmaker, “No, I’m fine.” “Sure? I’m famished,” the Listmaker pretends and continues to the pantry whereupon opening, he steals a quick feel of his wristwatch. Of the analog variety, the watch lacks a glass covering so that the Listmaker may feel the hands of the face without looking at the thing, thereby allowing the Listmaker the option to know the time, when necessary, without having to remove his eyes from his list. The attentive person, however, can witness this action and deduce that the Listmaker wishes to know the time, which ultimately, in the Listmaker’s mind, makes him seem impatient, rude, otherwise engaged. Thus, with both arms in the pantry now, the Listmaker gets a good feel of his wristwatch while his head remains visible, beyond the pantry door, as he looks to the stranger and offers, “I have crackers or cookies, if you’d like.” Almost vertical, relatively speaking, while the other peers down and a little to the left, the long and short hands of the watch, respectively, reveal that the time is very near 1900.

Knowing that the clock in his study will soon chime out, giving him an excuse to check on something, the Listmaker returns to the eating counter where the stranger sits, “Do you enjoy being a stranger to so many people?” “What do you mean?” Cinoa asks, entertained, chuckling. “Your line of work seems to force you into the lives of strangers,” the Listmaker extrapolates. “Oh yea, I see what you mean,” Cinoa admits; “It’s not so bad. I actually like getting to know new people.” “What is it that you do exactly?” the Listmaker asks. Cinoa glances away from the Listmaker as he responds, “Oh, yea, so I make sure that people know that they are entitled to a new roof whenever something happens to a roof that damages it. The tricky part is that most people have to file a claim with their insurance within a certain amount of time after the damage happens or else they lose out.” Familiar with this particular set of circumstances, the Listmaker nods, “Sure, I see. People can be really stupid.” Cinoa begins to look uncomfortable. The Listmaker watches the stranger fidget within himself a bit until Cinoa eventually breaks and reaches for the sheets of paper within the back pocket of his jeans. Looking even more concerned, Cinoa strokes his hair with his right hand. “Everything alright?” the Listmaker inquires. “Oh yea, I’m …” Cinoa begins to respond when the clock in the study chimes out. “Sorry, excuse me for one minute,” the Listmaker apologizes as he walks by the still-standing stranger through the living room, into his study adjacent to the living room.

The Listmaker furiously scrolls through the receipt roll to find what’s listed there within the day’s list, accounting for 1900 on through to at least 1930.

1900 – 1901 Don’t let the stranger see the list

1901 – 1906 Evade the stranger

1906 – ____ Run

Heart pounding now, the Listmaker feels trapped, and just as he turns over his shoulder to shout out another lie to the stranger about how he needs to check on something outside, Cinoa grabs the Listmaker’s shoulder. “Say,” Cinoa impedes; “Are you alright? You look tense. I was having a nice time, but you look awful. Why don’t we just sit back down and relax?” “Were we sitting? Oh sure. No it’s nothing,” the Listmaker almost shouts aloud in an attempt to seem calm, and then he continues, “But actually, you know, it’s getting late, and really, I should get back to my work.” With a hand still on the Listmaker’s shoulder, Cinoa feigns complicity, “Yes, yes, right. I’ve overstayed my welcome, haven’t I?” Feeling bullied, the Listmaker remains calm, revealing as little emotion as possible. Stepping away from the Listmaker a bit, giving him some space, the Listmaker takes a slow, steady breath. “Say, what is it that you do? I’m sorry I never asked before. That seems so rude now,” Cinoa jovially states, ignoring the tension. “Oh, you know, a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” the Listmaker evades. Cinoa, feeling frustrated and understands the evasive tactics of the Listmaker, changes his tone, “Now look here, kid. I can see through these little games you play.” Kid? the Listmaker thinks to himself, and then aloud asks, “Who you calling a kid?” Lost in the confusion of being called a kid, the Listmaker forgets to evade the stranger, or did I? But it was more of an emotional evasion as opposed to the physical that now seems more relevant, although the distinction was not detailed on his list. Stern and angry, Cinoa becomes impatient and quickly lurches and grabs the Listmaker by the throat, “Give me your list!”

The tiniest of tiny little buzzes buzz by. 

Gasping for air with only toes left on the ground, the Listmaker wriggles and grabs at the stranger’s hands that wring his neck. Unable to speak, the Listmaker has no choice but to focus on staying alive, somehow. Cinoa, however, outsizes the Listmaker in height and weight. With no hope in sight, the Listmaker does his best to make a gesture of some sort that he desperately hopes the stranger reads as a concession. “What?” Cinoa mocks; “What? I can’t hear you.” the Listmaker blinks hard, moves his mouth as if trying to speak. “Say, are you trying to tell me something?” Cinoa continues on in his mockery. Batting at the stranger’s hand now, the Listmaker attempts to nod. “Oh, very well,” Cinoa feigns as he drops the Listmaker from the grip. Something moves beyond one of the windows that catches Cinoa’s eye.

“Careful!” Ladybug whisper-shouts upon its return to the Lingerer waiting outside.

Coughing and writhing on the ground, the Listmaker feels lost, but then suddenly remembers his list. Knowingly, the Listmaker rolls over so that his body hides his list from the stranger. He clutches his side as if in agony and wraps a hand over the list in an attempt to either fling the thing or conceal it in a pocket. “Say, you were trying to tell me something, kid!” Cinoa yells through the Listmaker’s wheezing and violent coughs. Fuzzy, dry, the Listmaker chokes out a raspy, “Khi ont no-owe hat khour kalking ah-bhowe-hut.” Frustrated, Cinoa begins to pace the floor back and forth in front of the incapacitated Listmaker. At this moment, the Listmaker feels a bit of strength return and decides that the time has come, according to his list, for him to run. Nimbleness is essential, and so, the Listmaker gathers himself in his mind and in one dynamic action, he clambers to his feet in an attempt to take off for the front door. Unknown to the Listmaker a small unrolled portion of his list sticks out from beyond his grip of the receipt roll. Cinoa catches the smallest glimpse of what must be part of the Listmaker’s list. And so, being bigger and faster, the stranger lurches forward and reaches for the slip of paper sticking out from the Listmaker’s hand. As the Listmaker plants a strong foot on the ground, ready to take off into a full sprint, the stranger grabs the slip of paper, forcing the top edge of it to tear from the rest of itself.

The Listmaker, aware of the lost portion of list, immediately wonders at what time does his now-torn day’s to-do list end; how much time does he have left? With that thought, the Listmaker’s world grows cold and damp, and with the remainder of his consciousness, the reality of the situation weighs heavy upon him, since, having been distracted earlier in the day, the Listmaker knows that he will not wake, as per the usual, already written, command of the next day’s list remains unwritten. All he can do, his consciousness consoles, is stay calm and rest within the lost, dark hinterlands until, as he remembers, per the next day’s list, she arrives. And as the Listmaker cools to a chill, a small buzz buzzes by, “She’s coming. Hang on. She’s coming.” A soft, wet nose gently nibbles on the underside of his face at the soft flesh where the jaw becomes earlobe. 

How Red & Blue Make Green

How Red & Blue Make Green

A while back, a friend of mine (whom I will not name, nor will I draw too much attention to as he is both white and male, but mostly because I honestly don’t think he wants the attention or the credit, so he will remain nameless and referred to only as a he/friend :) said something to me after I asked him something regarding his toddler daughter that I cannot remember now (&was clearly, largely unimportant) to which he responded (&I’m paraphrasing here as I am also too lazy to go into my DMs to get an exact quote), “When she says, ‘No,’ I completely surrender so that I can model what should happen if she says ‘No’ to a man.” 

I thought about this for a long time, not because I didn’t agree with what he was saying, but rather, because there was something clearly deeper at work, but my mind couldn’t quite come up with it on the spot. Obviously, I cheered him on and encouraged him, like I would any father who has taken on the parenting role of father head-on, but what he said to me has been brewing in the back of my mind for some time now, and I finally have a little something of a nugget about which to write.

Perhaps he’s on to the nugget of truth that in America (perhaps in other places as well, but I can only speak to white [yes, I am Korean, and I recently learned in Franchesca Ramsey’s book that I’m technically transracial…as in, born of a specific race but transplanted, i.e. adopted, into another racial custom, not ‘transracial’ like the disgusting trend of not-black folks posing as black] American life with confidence) ‘No’ doesn’t mean No. And the sad thing is, I cannot even count how many times I’ve heard men (boys, who am I kidding) say things akin to, “99 Nos and 1 Yes is a Yes,” etc. 

And then all of this made me realize that if Americans are unwilling to respect someone’s “No,” then they are quite literally incapable of respecting anyone at all. Everyone loves a Yes-Man, but a No-Woman is seen as troublesome. So, there it is. 

“I can’t breathe.”

In America, No doesn’t mean No. It means nothing at all, which means that words, as a whole, largely have no meaning here in These United States. 

But that can all change! It’s easy. 

We need to respect the words coming out of each other’s mouths.

No matter how much we may disagree with them, no matter how flawed we believe them to be, no matter how uncomfortable the words are making us, we all have the right to say what we want, to be heard, and to hear. But this does not mean that your words have no consequence. In order to truly be heard, we need to be creatures that can hear, can see, can understand the truths of each other. We don’t live in a simulation. If we did, we could all feel the underlying programmed truth &or reality. We live inside our own heads with our own brains that interpret the world for us in our own unique way. This means that in order to get inside each other’s heads, we must speak, communicate, use words (&yes, obviously, people who are incapable of using their physical voices are quite able to communicate with words). This also means that in order for you to successfully get inside someone else’s head, you must listen to what they are saying; you must hear them.

There are no right answers to life. 

There is no right way to live. 

There is only the right to live. 

When someone says something to you, and you say, “No,” to be disrespected and not heard means that that person does not care about your right to your own life. They desire to control you. They see you as a piece in their life. The people who respect your Nos are the ones who ask you why you’re saying no in the first place. Imagine if, when a coworker (or whoever) says no to you, instead of becoming frustrated or upset that they’re not going to “do something for you,” you simply asked why they’re saying no. Maybe it’s because you’re perceived as lazy so they don’t want to help you out. Maybe they’re just tired because they were up all night with the baby, and they just need a break today. Maybe they just don’t want to, and it’s none of your business why; do it yourself, etc. The bottomline is that the reason for their “No” matters a lot less than the fact that they’re saying it. 

Yea, of course, we all have to do stuff we don’t like (which is obviously my concern when hearing this strategy from a parent), but the larger, more important Truth is that we need to respect the words that come out of each of our mouths. Perhaps if we do this, we will be more careful about what actually comes out of our mouths because now we actually feel like someone is hearing us, listening to us, validating our right to life. 

Lists of Lists

Lists of Lists

He writes a list for the day. Adamant, every single task that must be accomplished he outlines within a doable amount of time and writes each item on a roll of receipt paper. To transpose a day’s list here would be impractical and purposeless. Nevertheless, an example of the day’s first hour:

0630 – 0635 Wake

0637 – 0638 Get out of bed

0638 – 0639 Walk to bathroom

0639 – 0645 Relieve the pee

0645 – 0646 Wash hands, rinse mouth with water

0646 – 0647 Dry hands on brown and blue towel

0647 – 0649 Exit bathroom, return to bedroom

0649 – 0650 Put on robe

0650 – 0651 Walk to kitchen, turn on coffee maker

0651 – 0652 Pick a bowl from the cupboard and a spoon from the drawer, set both on eating counter

0652 – 0653 Grab coffee mug from drying rack and turn upright onto the counter in front of coffee maker

0653 – 0654 Choose an oatmeal from fridge and grab almond milk, place on eating counter next to bowl and spoon and counter in front of coffee maker, respectively

0654 – 0655 Pour oatmeal into bowl and almond milk into mug, return both to fridge

0655 – 0656 Stir oatmeal with spoon and wait to reach room temperature

0656 – 0659 Sit at eating counter, wait for coffee to finish

0659 – 0702 Open blinds

0702 – 0705 Pour coffee into mug, sit at eating counter, sip coffee as oatmeal warms

0705 – 0710 Eat oatmeal, drink coffee

0710 – 0713 Wash bowl and spoon, set in drying rack

0713 – 0714 Refill coffee mug with almond milk and coffee, turn off coffee maker

0714 – 0716 Grab newspaper from front porch, breathe in thirty-seconds of fresh air

0716 – 0717 Walk to desk, set coffee on desk, sit with newspaper

0717 – 0730 Read newspaper

At some point during the day, “Write tomorrow’s to-do list” is the next thing on the day’s to-do list to do. The circumstance of listing the task of writing the next day’s to-do list creates an irregular sensation to write another list listing what ought to be listed in the next day’s to-do list, and so, a new list forms, which ultimately returns him to the day’s list that needs to be finished, but the completion of the day’s list rests upon the listing of the next day’s listed listings. 

Eventually, night falls, and the room grows dark. He consults the day’s list but soon realizes he does not know the time, and just as the thought hits his conscious mind, the clock begins to chime. Eighteen hundred, he thinks to himself. He consults the day’s list once more and reads:

1800 – 1801 Consult the day’s list

He consults the day’s list for one minute, and then he reads:

1801 – 1810 Complete tomorrow’s to-do list

He begins to complete the next day’s to-do list, always in reverse order by writing what must be done last first, when the doorbell rings and interrupts him with the first hour of his day left bare. Unsure again of the time, he looks at the clock, the time reads 1810. He consults the day’s list.

1810 – 1811 Answer the door to see who knocks

Obedient, he walks to the front door and opens the door—a stranger. Cautious, he keeps his foot behind the door. “Good evening, sir. I hope I’m not interrupting,” the stranger begins; “My name is Cinoa. How are you today?” “One moment please,” he responds as he shuts the door. He consults the day’s list.

1811 – 1814 Find out what the stranger at the door wants

Noting the three-minute allotment for this particular interaction, he decides to consult the next few line items.

1814   – ____ Do as you’re told

____ – ____ Return home

He agrees and walks back to the front door. As he opens the door, the stranger, Cinoa, speaks up before he can get a word out, “Please, sir, I just need one moment of your time.” “Okay, yea, sure. How can I help you?” he responds.

Cinoa, stuttering, nervous, “Jus, just, uh, one, uh, moment.” Wringing a few sheets of paper between his hands, Cinoa looks down at the sheets and mumbles slightly as he reads. “Right, yes, oh right, yes,” Cinoa whispers to himself. “Are you the owner of this house?” Cinoa finally asks. “Yes,” the homeowner states. “Great. Then please, sir, come out here with me, if you don’t mind. I’d like to show you something,” Cinoa reads from his sheets of paper. “Very well,” the homeowner obliges. The two walk around to the side of the home, an aged, cumbersome house of natural wood. Cinoa points to a corner of roofing, “See that there?” “Sure, yes,” the homeowner acknowledges. “That’s a good sign that you’re in need of a new roof,” Cinoa explains as he consults his sheets of paper again, and then he continues, “Do you mind if I get on the roof to check for any other problem areas?” “Sure, that’s no problem,” the homeowner again obliges. Cinoa looks at the homeowner, then back at the sheet one more time, “No.” “No, what?” the homeowner asks. “You were supposed to say, ‘No,’” Cinoa clarifies. “Oh,” the homeowner states. Feeling a little shocked, the homeowner apologizes, “I’m sorry, just one moment, please.” Cinoa nods and stands, “I’ll just wait here.” The homeowner walks sideways for a bit as he dismisses himself from Cinoa’s presence and returns to his house to consult the day’s to-do list.

1823 – 1825 Walk back inside house to consult the day’s to-do list

1825 – 1828 Return to stranger and refuse the offer and be adamant that it’s all a sham

1828 – 1830 Argue with the stranger and escort him off the property

1830 – 1831 Return home

Running now, the homeowner rushes around the house to speak with Cinoa, “I’m sorry, you were right. No, I’m not interested in whatever you’re trying to do here. It’s all a sham of some sort or something, I’m sure.” “Okay, sir. There’s no need to get angry. I was simply trying to provide you a necessary service,” Cinoa responds. “Aren’t you supposed to insist?” the homeowner asks. “No, I’m to respond politely and respect your wishes,” Cinoa states. “I think you’re supposed to try to convince me that you really ought to look at my roof. I mean, look at the thing; it’s nearly falling apart!” the homeowner insists. “It’s not up to me to convince you,” Cinoa explains. “Then what are we to argue about?” the homeowner states at the same time he realizes that they are indeed already arguing now. “Ah, yes,” the two respond simultaneously, satisfied. “Great,” the homeowner smiles as he motions with an arm to lead Cinoa off his property. “Perfect,” Cinoa states while collecting himself and acknowledging the homeowner’s gesture to remove him from the property.

They two walk together amicably along the side of the house and across the front yard to a small dirt driveway. “Have you lived here long?” Cinoa chats. The homeowner simply looks at Cinoa. “I get it,” Cinoa responds; “No small talk, eh?” “Not today, apparently,” the homeowner concedes. “Sure, sure,” Cinoa mutters to fill the silence. Once Cinoa reaches the dirt drive, the homeowner turns on his heels and heads back to his house. “Alright, bye! Thanks again,” Cinoa shouts out. The homeowner ignores the farewell, does not wave a hand and quickly hops up the steps to the front porch, never looking back.

1831 – 1833 Through the front door window, verify that the stranger left.

He walks back to the front door and stares out over the front porch and front yard, through the window. Cinoa still stands on the dirt drive; he waves at the homeowner whom he can see through the front door. The two stare at each other over the distance that separates them. He stands for the allotted two minutes, but Cinoa does not leave. Anxious, he consults the day’s list.

1833 – 1834 Invite the stranger in for coffee

He walks back to the front door, opens it and stands upon the front porch. Waving at Cinoa now, he shouts loudly, “Do you want to come in for some coffee?” “Sure,” Cinoa gladly accepts; “I thought you’d never ask.” Cinoa makes his way to the house while the homeowner leaves the front door open, makes his way back to his desk, and consults his list.

1834 – 1835 Make coffee, take list with you, keep in pocket

1835 – 1836 Ask the stranger how he likes his coffee

1836 – 1837 Prepare two mugs

1837 – 1900 Make small talk

Hearing Cinoa’s feet hit the wood floors of the foyer, the homeowner shouts, “I’m back here, in the kitchen. Keep walking straight past the stairs and down the hall. How do you take your coffee?” “Black’s fine or with one sugar cube, if you have sugar cubes,” Cinoa admits as he reaches the kitchen. The kitchen opens out to the left after the hallway. Cinoa appears in the doorway between the fridge and a full-length, cupboard-type pantry. “Come on in,” the homeowner invites as he busies himself preparing the two mugs; “You can sit at the eating counter over there.” Comfortable, Cinoa makes his way through the kitchen, past the kitchen’s middling island countertop area, behind the eating counter to the stools that face back into the kitchen. “I’ll stand,” Cinoa decides. “If you must,” the homeowner jovially comments.

Cinoa has a look around. The kitchen opens into a living-room area that’s carpeted, unlike the hardwood of the foyer and hallway, also unlike the kitchen which is floored in some sort of blue tile. One large, blue couch sits on the farthest wall from the kitchen, an even larger window sits behind it. The wall that extends out from the left side of the couch, back toward the kitchen is littered with small windows all of various shapes and sizes. Each window has accompanying blinds that fit exactly within each respective window’s shape and size. “I like those windows,” Cinoa admits. “Yes, they are nice,” the homeowner agrees. “How long have you lived here?” Cinoa asks. The homeowner looks at him, as if studying Cinoa’s intent. “Not long,” the homeowner lies. “Really?” Cinoa questions; “That seems odd.” “How so?” the homeowner humors. “Well, it’s just that the clean, modern interior of this house definitely doesn’t match the almost rotting exterior of the thing,” Cinoa explains. “What does that have to do with how long I’ve lived here?” the homeowner asks, confused. “Oh, nothing, I suppose,” Cinoa mutters.

The coffee maker gurgles and puffs a short spout of steam to signify its completion of its task. “I don’t have any sugar cubes, but I do have sugar,” the homeowner offers. “Oh, no sugar then,” Cinoa responds; “Black’s fine.” “Sure,” the homeowner obliges as he pours the coffee from its pot. “Say, you have any family?” Cinoa, feeling nosey, asks. “Yes,” the homeowner lies again. He places the strangers coffee in front of him on the eating counter while he remains standing within the bounds of the kitchen, “Please, have a seat.” “I’ll stand,” Cinoa states, almost defiantly and then prods, “And?” “And what?” requests the homeowner. “Your family,” Cinoa clarifies. “Yes, I have family,” the homeowner reiterates. “Of what sort?” Cinoa prys. “Of all sorts,” the homeowner retorts. “Very well,” Cinoa concedes with a small chuckle; “I just thought we were gonna get to know each other a little. I mean, you’re the one who invited me in.” The two sip coffee for a moment, quietly slurping, silently standing. 

Stock Splits, White Collar Crime, and Leases v. Mortgages

Stock Splits, White Collar Crime, and Leases v. Mortgages

Both Tesla and Apple stocks split today, and if you’re wondering what that means, I’m going to try to explain it because I only have a general sense of knowledge about market speculating, but I also find that when I do work to try to explain shit, I end up understanding it better myself. There’s nothing really too complicated about it, but I am not a teacher (and really good teachers are quite difficult to come across, so I have no idea how teachers aren’t paid $100K; if they were, the position would attract the type of people who should be teachers), nor do I really consider myself a good teacher because I’m not a great explainer because I’m not good at simplifying complexity, but again, like I said, there’s nothing too complicated about stock splits, in and of themselves, but they exist within the realm of the fantastic, and so, the world in which they exist is extremely complex (beyond the comprehension of any single human mind), but again, like I said, the splitting itself is quite simple in concept. 

…and then I will get to the thing I actually want to touch upon, which is white collar crime.

For the sake of easy computation, pretend you bought ten shares of TSLA five years ago when the stock hovered around $200/share. You shoveled in about $2,000. No, I’m not going to use any exact figures from the actual price history of TSLA; I will use “abouts.” If you owned ten shares at the end of last Friday, they were worth about $2,000/share. This means your $2,000 now represents $20,000.

This morning, after the market opened with the 5:1 split, you would now have fifty shares, when added together still equaling $20,000. So, now, you have fifty shares each worth about $400 as opposed to ten shares worth $2,000 each. 

What this does is a number of things that can and cannot be known because I am not on the board of Tesla, which means that very few people actually know what Tesla hopes to accomplish, while everyone else speculates, but one of the obvious reasons would be to allow for new speculators to enter the market. A $2,000 share price is steep, but $400 is far more reasonable. 

The market is open now, however, and so, there are speculators speculating, and the price per share has already gone up since the market opened. So, what was originally your $2,000 that you shoveled into TSLA five years ago is now more than $20,000 and counting with each second that passes as you sit on your butt doing nothing. 

This is how the rich get richer without doing a lick of work, and without paying taxes (a theme for another post). Here’s a quick example of how being rich just makes you richer. Say you’ve got enough cash to purchase 250,000 shares of anything. Doesn’t matter what the entrance price was/is. All that matters is that you can afford to buy 250,000 shares. Consider this, the stock you invested in rises by literally, $0.20…twenty cents in one day. You make $50,000 because you were able to afford a butt-load of shares all at once. Is this unfair? Absolutely. Is this how the world works? You’d better believe it.

So, now to the thing I want to talk about…White Collar Crime (and the difference between the approval processes for a lease and a mortgage). 

And no, this is not another racist rant about white people, but the overarching implications are racist because, let’s face it, basically all the rich people in this country are of caucasian descent (there). 

My point is that I (we, my bodybuddy/lifemate/roommate and I) recently renewed our lease, and there was a new little thing in it that we noticed that differed from our last lease. When it comes to cannabis use where I live, it’s recreationally legal for those 21+, but because I live in an apartment, there are house rules, and so, there is no smoking allowed in the units. Duh. Our last lease stated, in so many words, that if you’re caught, the management has the right to evict. This lease, however, states, in so many words, that if you’re caught, it’s $150 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense, and then after the third offense, the management has the right to evict. 

Now, I’m not gonna lie. I know what pot smells like (but I definitely do not partake in it in the confines of my own home), and it wafts from every hallway on every floor in our building. Nobody’s gonna turn anybody in or complain. I’d guesstimate that 50% of this complex houses 65+, 40% 40+, and 10% under 40. And some seniors like pot, too. 

The thing is that that little change in our lease is not insignificant because what the management has done is they put a price on the crime. Crime is now officially something that can be budgeted. It’s that simple. It’s our first opportunity to commit a crime, knowingly, and get away with it by simply shelling out a hundred bucks. That’s only if you get caught, and getting caught in this scenario means someone telling on you. 

I only mention this because of the type of apartment we live in. We had to be approved through multiple tiers of financials, which means it houses a certain income level, which signals to me that the entree into the white collar crime life begins early. The approval process for apartment living is a completely different world from that of homeownership. 

And this is the thing I want to say about mortgages. When you apply for a mortgage, the less likely you are to be able to afford to pay, the more likely you’re going to get approved for whichever amount it is that the banker offered. The application process scans your credit score (an arbitrary number that “calculates” the amount of debt you have in terms of whether or not you’re making your payments) and your income. Nobody looks at your wealth. Income is variable and in a state of flux at all times. Your wealth is how long you can sustain your current life without any income. 

So, when you apply for a mortgage, all the banker wants to see is how large your monthly income statement is and how much of it the bank can take. 

And I know what you’re thinking, “But a home is an investment.” How? Yes, a house can be an investment, but not if you’re living in it. A home is ONLY an investment if it is making you money. And I know what you’re going to say now, “But it will appreciate and then the house will be worth more than it was when I bought it.” Well, it MIGHT appreciate. But then what? You sell it? And then where will you live? You have to use that money to buy another home, not to mention the extra taxes you have to pay for now owning property. Your home is not an investment unless you have a space that you can rent or unless part of that home is an office for your business, etc. But if you buy a house to live in, you are not making an investment. If you buy two houses (you live in one and rent out the other), then yes, of course, buying a house is an investment. That’s the rule I learned in all of my real estate training, you don’t buy a house until you can afford to buy two houses. And again, I know I am speaking specifically to a certain income level. This obviously is not very good advice for anyone being victimized by the System.

The thing about a lease (for some apartments) is that you don’t have to have any income, if you have enough wealth, AND if you are applying with financial information about your income, you have to prove you can afford MORE than your rent (we’ve seen upwards of 5X). A lease is also not a mortgage because your landlord is the one who holds the mortgage. This is why a landlord’s tenants must be more able to pay their rent than homeowners need to be able to pay their mortgages. 

A bank wins every time a family can no longer pay their mortgage because the bank gets your house as soon as you can no longer pay, and then they turn around and sell it for what you owed them. Banks are in the mortgage business to see you fail. And mortgages are debt. Not that there’s anything wrong with debt; there isn’t. Everyone’s got it, because it’s necessary. It is what makes money go round. But it is debt, and you need to think about it that way. Sure, you may rationalize that it isn’t debt (like a friend of ours did when talking about a new apartment venture), but it is, because, like I said before, that money has to provide you shelter…forever…in an endless cycle of taking on a new or different mortgage with every new place you ever want to live. 

And I know the messaging of the dream…you buy a house because then, when you’re old, you don’t have to pay rent to a landlord, your shelter is secure. If you’re lucky enough and diligent enough to pay off your mortgage (look it up, find out how many homeowners have no mortgages), you’ll still owe the taxes on the house every year. 

Landlords need you to win; they depend on you winning. And yea, obviously some landlords are shit, but if you’re paying your bills and adhering to your lease (and again, this is not blaming or shaming victims of the system), you can’t be evicted. And like I stated earlier, rent money doesn’t go nowhere. Your shelter is all part of your living expenses. There’s no such thing as a free place to live.

The biggest selling point for me, however, when it comes to renting, are the amenities and the maintenance team. When we added up the cost of a gym membership and pool membership and a rough estimate of the cost of new appliances, the numbers didn’t lie. It’s significantly cheaper for us to pay the amount of rent we pay for the things we want access to. So, if anything, I’m just outlining our reasons for renting, I guess *shrug*

But, like always, do what you need to do. I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m nobody’s supervisor. I’m just here to help define the landscape, for those who want/need help. But seriously, this is your life. If a house is your dream, definitely get a house. You just need to know what you’re in for, and I’ve found in the past that most people do not know what they’re getting into because someone has lied to them. 

Thanks for reading, if you’ve found yourself here :)