The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Being Me

    I focus my eyes in a relaxed yet interested manor. They open a little more than usual but only because I am telling the other person, I am observing and understanding. There usually will be an intimation of an upturning of the corners of my mouth, but without knowing this, you could never tell. Naturally stoic, my mouth when completely unanimated reflects a look of anger or unhappiness, so I construct the idea of a mouth that neither seems happy nor bored, but instead might be described as interested. My cheeks remain unmoving so that my eyes keep your attention. I tilt my head at certain times so that you notice that I am not too still. I swallow a knot that has formed, but it doesn’t phase me and so it doesn’t register on your radar. I choose my idea of perfectly pleasant, not overly exuding any real emotion except the placid surface that conceals all.
   I make sure my face depicts nothing tangibly describable so that in the end you are wondering what exactly may have been going on in my head the whole time we talked. You area allowed to ask and I will respond. I make myself laugh, reassuring you that I am just taking in all this information, but I give you no direct answer of how I feel. I know that you will take my laughing and smile as the answer you were looking for. In reality, if I am upset I will usually never give you a truthful answer. More than likely, in the end I will convince you and myself that all things will pass in time. My unhappiness is fleeting because I am not a sad person. I am instead the same person you know and think of as vivacious and silly. I change the subject as I look down and back up, replacing any vestiges of truthful emotion with the ones I have constructed. The smile fades and the corners of my mouth again soften, I am once again intent on listening to you, you become my center of attention and I fade into the background, a dull image to your clear.
    I ask you about your day, your week, your life, and I find the trigger. You start talking and suddenly I convince you and I that I was never feeling anything other than elation that you got an A on your midterm. I am glad about anything that you say. I walk away smiling saying I’ll talk with you later. I get into my room and brush away any tears that escaped on the walk or drive, I take stalk and feel what I really feel.
    I am not pretending that I lack emotion. I am not pretending that I am one of those people that are happy all the time. I am telling you that I am private. I am telling you that I will act as I see fit so that I can feel how I feel in a manor that I am ok with. I cannot help the way I feel sometimes, but I can help the way I handle it. 


Violence does not shake the ground beneath me.
Violence does not tear across the sky above me.
Violence does not color red the people in my life.  Violence echoes on TV, but the images of war flash clean, terror somehow seems to have very little to do with me.
Is it enough to have sympathy pains?
How can I pretend their losses aren't our gains?
Bodies piled high fuel cars driving by.
My cousin flies a nighthawk, and I know better that I should know not whether my blood took another's, as did the hands of an ex-lover.
Liquor stained his breath, and tears stung his eyes, and memories burn his mind; he cannot, will not rest his mind.
A soldier in the Army, he saw his share of bloodshed, many people died whose names went forever unsaid.  
They did not shared his fate of his blood being unbled.  Washing hands and washing face could not make this blood any less red.
I have had my own share of terror, but I know I've fared fairer than the people that I saw when I looked into his eyes.
Those eyes once took lives.
I never liked scary movies.  The music is the worst, but the notes are played intentionally so you when someones getting hurt.  
I've seen real pain, and there's a different score kept, unlike the movies, there's no one watching and no director saying cut.  
They say we leave this world alone, but I believe some leave lonelier than others.
For their end is muted,  I am compelled to weep in silence.


Saturday, April 28, 2012


Unprincipled action spills through the rigid boundaries of real emotions we plagiarized.
I’m counting days, and months, perhaps years.
Package them up nicely, gifting you with confidence.
Peeling off a finger, an ear.
More insurance, I won’t ask you to return.
With counterfeited emotions I swallowed us whole
A diet of cyclical corruption,
I purge myself of every obstinate reaction.
I smirk at our cliche 
And begin again.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson

Alex Ferguson is a former Scottish soccer player, and currently the coach who manages English soccer club Manchester United for 25 years now. Manchester United is the best soccer club in England, and now one of the best in the world, and is largely due to the hard work of Ferguson as the managing coach. He essentially has established himself as the most successful British manager of all time, with a team that could not win a title for 26 years, is now the most successful team in England. His hard work led to being knighted by the Queen of England in 1999, when Manchester United won the first ever-famous treble, consisting the league title(domestic English league), FA Cup(oldest soccer tournament in history that consists of teams in all of the United Kingdom), and European Cup(league that consist of the best clubs in all of Europe).

Born Dec. 31, 1941, in Glasgow, Scotland, to a humble family, his father worked in the shipbuilding industry. Ferguson also began working at the shipyard at a young age as an apprentice tool worker, and also played part time soccer for Queens Park. By 1964, Ferguson began his professional career as a center forward, and I was not long before his hard work ethic showed on the field and a bigger club, and also his childhood idols, Glasgow Rangers, bought him. His playing career lasted ten years before he moved to coaching.

Given the teams he was handed as a coach, and the condition they were as not the best established in their respective league, Ferguson was able to accomplish so much and defy the odds. The teams that Ferguson managed were able to become strong in their domestic league, and eventually even European Cup winners, including a 2-1 final in favor against the powerful Real Madrid.

It was in November of 1986 when Ferguson was appointed the coach of Manchester United, a team that was struggling in the English league, and in danger of being regulated to the second division. Apart from being the first manager to win a treble, Ferguson also became the first coach to win the league in England three consecutive times. The most recent league championship was won last year during the 2010-11 campaign. This was a meaningful for Ferguson and all the fans, for it was the championship that allowed the club to move ahead of rivals Liverpool who had 18 league titles. With 19 league titles, Manchester United has become the most successful club in England, and to think when Ferguson took began his career in Manchester, the club only had 7 league titles.

"Retirement is for young people. If you retire when you're old, where do you go next? I would not quit unless my health deteriorated
.If I get off that treadmill where do you think I'd go - only one way, down." Said Ferguson to a BBC reporter at the post conference just after winning the 19thtitle.

Even as a husband, and father to three sons, Ferguson always makes time to manage the two. He is known for being at the training grounds as a early as 7:30 am, and usually works 18 hour days. He is always loyal to his players, however he never holds back when he has to give them a blast of anger.

People talk of Vince Lombardi, and Phil Jackson, as some of histories best all time coaches, Ferguson deserves his name up their as one of the best, if not the best. Manchester United are just a few games away this season to winning back to back league titles, and number twenty in it’s history. You don’t have to be a soccer fanatic to know his accomplishments are praiseworthy, for that reason this tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I sit in anticipation for the succulent food that has become so rare since college hit. No need to worry about price either, this is his treat. Steaks, scallops, fancy mushrooms, the array of appetizers that he always makes sure we order - just to get a taste of as much as we can. I look across the table at the man who has given me an abundance of his habits, quirks, and personality. I arrange my skewed silverware so that it is perfectly in place and in accordance with my spurts of OCD. He has done the same. I bite the inside of my mouth in thought as I scan the menu and look up to see that he is doing the same. With each birthday I see more and more of my dad in every decision I make, every type A habit that plagues my nerves. Tonight, as we sit down to catch up over a nice dinner, I feel a change, a shift in our relationship. He always treated me as an equal, whether I was seven years old and evaluating his current girlfriend or eighteen, a partner in his business plans to invest in movies. But tonight, I am an adult. 
College seems to have that affect on children. We are thrown to the dogs, where no one seems to care if anything is fair anymore and battered bones leave bruises that brand us “experienced” or “aware.” At the end of this four years, we come upon the precipice of deciding our fate, or at least our next responsible step, so it is assumed that we can take on more truth. We have seen bits of the world. We have seen bits of the ugly. We have been forced to break it down and analyze it in fluorescent lit classrooms. So my dad brings up my mom. Asks me my opinion and what I’ve come to think of the decisions they made. 
While I’ve talked to my parents about each other numerous times over the years (inescapable for an only child of divorce) I’ve never crept out of the playpen enough to truly look at what happened between them and why. I’ve never looked at them as two individual adults that loved and lost and hurt each other. Divorce was a childhood label that explained why I carried a bag back and forth to school on switch days. I didn’t need more than that because I was happy with both of them, and both of them were happy apart. But I am not five, ten, sixteen anymore. Even worse, I feel much too beyond my years. Now my heart has been broken, my trust has been raped, my high expectations have been ridiculed and rendered impossible all within four years of emerging into adulthood. My understanding of all of this is much more full than when I was fourteen, so when my dad asks me about his choices, I know that I can respond. I have a responsibility to respond because he wants to know. He sees that those adult scars already tell my stories. 
So I look into the same blue eyes as my own and I tell him.   


Monday, April 23, 2012

Back Home

There’s something about the idea of summer that always makes me nostalgic. The heat in the afternoon, the warm breeze at night, I close my eyes and I can make out the outlines of houses. The streetlights emit a dull orange glow, casting blurred shadows that slink along with us. We aren’t really creeping though. Instead, we tend to roam in the summer. I naturally have a fast gait, as if I’m late or very determined, yet something changes in the summer. I become a stroller, a floater more so. Our feet barely graze the ground as we peruse the sleepy little suburb of Hillsboro, looking like the miscreants we could never be.

We pass the elementary school, the neighborhood pool, the random forested areas. We don’t have any agendas or really anything to do, so we keep wandering the streets as if we didn’t walk them our whole lives before cars. We wave at our houses, both the ones we live and lived in, and we spy houses of people we used to know. People that I let go the course of growing into the person I am now. I feel guilt about one Easter egg blue two-story house that now sits uninhabited by its prior owner. The decorative holiday flags have since been taken down. As for an unobtrusive beige one-story? I wonder what happened to that girl.

“She got pregnant and dropped out of high school, I saw her profile picture with her baby.”

We keep strolling. We end up in cars and suddenly we’re in Portland.

My eyes open. I’m back in LA sitting in my small “I’m a college student so I’ll take whatever I can get to live in” house. My mind wonders again, yet instead of night I’m positioned in a picturesque sunset. The sun blinds me seeing as it hits my eye line perfectly, yet I make a pact to apologize to my retinas later so that I can see the colors shift in the sky. This snap shot isn’t recent. It’s a memory my mind is pulling up because the cul-de-sac is my best friends, and she now lives in Portland. I artfully blend my favorite occasions into one memory of that cul-de-sac. I notice that most memories involve food being present in the Hall’s yard. In my minds eye I am chatting with two of my close friends at a makeshift picnic table, but I can’t remember if it’s for the fourth of July or for the celebration of life for my friend’s father’s funeral. I always feel a small sensation of sadness at sunsets.

My eyes come back into focus and I notice that the shafts of light in my room have grown shorter. I look around my messy room and I tell myself I’ll clean in thirty, but instead I know I’m just going to make my dinner instead.

Happy Birthday Shakespeare: The Antithesis to Death

In Twelfth Night the old and loveless get drunk as they listen to the fools song of young love. They listen to the music to forget the truth and drink to forget the song. Orsino and Viola (dressed as a man) come closest to intimacy in the face of mortality. The sudden urge to kiss is the desperation for love. The remembrance of death causes it. Love and sex are the antithesis of death. Music seems to be a form of this; it is the gateway of communication to those distractions from death. Twelfth Night ends with the truths of death folded bitter sweetly into song, “With toss-pots still had drunken heads, / For the rain, etc. / A great while ago the world begun, / [With] hey ho, etc, / But that’s all one, our play is done, /And we’ll strive to please you every day." When the play is over the reminder of death comes back. When there are no more tricks, spells, and tales of love and the song has finished, the silence reveals the truth that we will die, memento mori. From birth, even during the innocence of childhood, humans are actually in the process of dying. Therefore, plays are a way to escape death, like sex and music. This remedy or reaction humans have for death does not seem to work for Jessica in The Merchant of Venice. As music plays and her lover relates it to the stars and the presence of heaven, she feels most distant to from God. In the process of her conversion, there is no longer a buffer between her and the reality of death, “I am never merry when I hear sweet music." The intoxication of melody is no diversion from the path of death and mortality in this moment in which she feels most human and without a god.

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream the young lovers run up the stairs to make love and procreate. The haze of sex and regeneration is a form of intoxication, like a dream or drinking. The end of the play is sobriety, silence, humanity and death. Sex itself is a distraction from death and an orgasm is a resurrection. For a moment one seems to die, like the memory loss of a drunken night, it is deception. Time is lost in a dream when the actual and virtual blur beautifully. This transformation occurs in A Midsummer Night’s Dream through sex, intoxication, and dreams. The altered state of mind may make the present bearable. These superhuman experiences are almost that, otherworldly, until they end. When the peak of orgasm subsides, bodies separate, dreams conclude, and buzzes fade, the ticking clock takes over the masquerade of music. Thus, humans continue to resort to the antithesis of death, because in that lies comedy, memory-loss, and orgasm.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Scraps Left

As I trace misshapen hearts down her back, I’m trying not to think too much.

We are good music.

She’s speaking unelaborated melodies, singing words I’ve forgotten.

“We still need to go on a date,” she reminds me.

“Is this not a date?” I ask, pulling her small body into mine.

I think of all the things to say, all the ways to make this not real, all the ways to hold off on admittance.

When it rains, it pours.

She watches me from across the fibers, the sheets that will later tease me with faint scents of her honey and lavender.

She is good at many things, but at this she is the best.

I count the freckles on her arm, the scars on her knees,

press the pads of my fingers into her palm

scrawling out messages for her to decode.

I could do this for hours,

every day of our era

lacing kisses down her collarbone

whispering a language we created

when what we had could not suffice

In our native tongue she asks me not to leave

and I fall back into fibers,

hoping I never have to translate this passion for anyone else.



Whatever “being pragmatic” meant clearly escaped me. I realize that now, looking back. I had cleared out this space in my mind, small enough so that I could fill it completely with the thoughts that were not my own. I gathered scraps of opinions but instead of comprising a comprehensive answer I threw each one carelessly about the frontal lobe. I would have to clean up my mess later, but for right now I was “problem-solving,” and I couldn’t be bothered.
Scenario A has three possible outcomes.
I would go down the line, taking mental notes as each person shared their unique vision for me. My actions were too hard, too soft, too clearly naïve. I nodded, filling the space.
“Tell me what I should do.” Should of, could of, would of. That’s where the pragmatics comes in. Lack thereof, that is.
These eyes and mouths contort, spewing inaudible judgement. Familiar with my various states of indecisiveness, they press on.
Isn’t it funny how all advice is situated in personal circumstance? Suddenly I’m thrown a mess of conclusions, of different scenarios of which I was never a part of. My mind goes blank as I watch my best friend, pantomiming a memory in front of me, sitting cross-legged, using her small hands to paint a personalized portrait of how I am to fix this problem.
“And that’s when you know you’ve really encountered a narcissistic asshole.”I catch this ending snippet, and immediately tag it as the thesis of the essay she had just recited to my deaf ears.
“You weren’t listening at all, were you?” I give her a small, apologetic smile. That five second escape to my own thoughts has me suddenly feeling accidentally unappreciative.
“I’m sorry,” I say, “Will you repeat that last part?”
Again she launches into the scene for me. When I shut off this time, I begin to sketch this scene. Creating this memory like so many before, of this room and this air. The way she sits, head in one hand, a full glass of wine in the other. Lying on my stomach, elbows propped up on a pillow, cocking my head to the side to make it easier to catch and soak up all of her wisdom. Wisdom no more aged than mine, yet it’s already seized meaning much different than my own.
Just like so many of the others, we come to this spot to trade, unselfishly and unapologetically. Honesty gets easier as time goes on. I’ll hoard these secrets, these stories, the shortcomings, the heartbreaks; carry them with me to end – to that place where I’ve used every last last drop of meaning in their inheritance. And then, without selfishness, I’ll contribute them to the next unfilled frontal lobe, the next naïve, trusting body and hope that perhaps they’ll fare much better than we ever did.


In Sleep

“Please don’t do this. I promise you, it’s a bad idea.” I’m wringing my hands, hoping she’ll listen, knowing she won’t. She looks over her shoulder at me and laughs maniacally.

“Alisa, you worry too much.” I begin to ponder the validity of this statement while she scales the wall in front of us. Why this girl loves thrusting herself into peril and why I feel a need to keep her safe are two mysteries to me. Out of the corner of my eye I watch a white Ked slip, followed by a small body and mess of short blonde hair.

“Hey, asshole, you done yet?” Lauren’s long blond hair falls over her face as she reaches down to snatch the papers that are sitting idly in my lap. “I swear to God you are the slowest reader alive.” She rolls her eyes and retreats to the couch on the opposite side of the room.

I grab a new stack of applications and again begin to read. “Don’t get too attached, you almost never get who you want.” I look up at Jorge who is sitting cross-legged just a few feet away, munching on a bag of walnuts.

“But I want her so bad,” I plead, my eyes brimming with tears. “She’s…perfect.” He looks sorry for a few brief moments and then his face hardens. “Don’t do it, Alisa. You’re just setting yourself up.”

“Alisa, what are you doing? This is called harmonizing. Do you know what pitch you’re starting on?” I shake my head, suddenly realizing I am entirely off-key.

“Yeah, sorry, I…I got distracted.”

She looks disappointingly at me and shakes her head, turning back to the rest of the group.

“Let’s start again.”

This is it. Feeling the hands around my neck, my only regret is that I never took karate. “It’s embarrassing to die this way, Alisa,” I chastise myself. I grab his wrists, using all my strength to pry them away from my almost lifeless body. I fought so much just to be surprise attacked with a physical act. Looking into onyx eyes, I feel sick again.

I snake my arms around her waist, kissing the nape of her neck. A hateful gaze deters me as she intertwines her fingers with mine, asking if I like her dress. I nod into her neck, smiling against her smooth skin. “It won’t be long now, Alisa,” she sings.


Journeys to the Middle

“Babe I gotta go, the train’s here,” I grabbed my bags, piling them onto my shoulder.

“Okay, be safe. I’ll see you in 8 hours. Love you.” I echoed her affections and hung up. It was 6am and the sky still dark with only hints of pinks and purples. I watched the train emerge from behind a Living Spaces warehouse up to the run down platform on which I stood. I boarded the train and took my usual seat by the stairs on the second story and watched Van Nuys as it slipped out of view.

This was our routine, every two weeks. LA to San Luis Obispo. San Luis Obispo to LA. The attendant didn’t even check my ticket anymore and instead would just smile, ask how school was going, and scribble “SLO” on the tag above my seat. The train, as I quickly learned, was a moving epicenter for undergrads in long distance relationships. Our convoy was made up of a few business men in polyester suits and leather briefcases or the occasional family of tourists, but the majority of Amtrak’s capital centered around those customers that sat alone with a small duffel bag, their college of choice embroidered on the front of their crew neck sweater, gripping their cell phones tightly.

Every time the train came to its next stop I would glance out the window, trying to catch a glimpse of that first interaction, first embrace. Fridays were the good days. On Fridays the train buzzed with excitement; you’d talk to a stranger for an hour and a half just to kill the time that seemed to drag by excruciatingly slowly. You’d mentally map out what you were going to do all weekend, so long as it didn’t rip you away from that person, if only for a second. One by one people would exit the train at their stops and fall into the arms of those they loved, the ones who had been waiting for them on the platform in the cold for half an hour.

It was the Sundays I dreaded. I would say my own goodbyes, boarding the train, watching her small body standing on the platform until she was just a speck in the distance. The despair was so palpable on Sundays I would almost always force myself to sleep, a self-preservation tactic I had learned over the months. To stay awake meant being forced to witness each person’s own individual goodbyes, the long embraces, the short, needy kisses, the endless flow of tears…it was always better to swallow a Benadryl and wake up in the outskirts of Los Angeles, wondering how you could force yourself to endure another trip.


Hearts Junction

“Miss, I’m going to have to ask you to put that away for now.” I look up into the facing of a smiling flight attendant. I feel my face flush and I nod, turning back to my phone to frantically scribble off the text I’ve been mentally composing in my head for approximately 10 hours now.

Sorry, there’s a lot going on right now. I’ll update you as soon as I can. Have fun, be safe…I miss you.

I turn off my phone and toss it into my purse. Resting back against my uncomfortable coach seat, I peer out my tiny window, at the snow-capped Utah mountains, wondering exactly how I got here.

It seems unnatural that just 24 hours ago I was in the middle of the Nevada desert, dancing under bright lights on the strip and exchanging slurred incoherencies with strangers. The presence of spring break and my nearing 21st birthday had seemingly given me a false sense of security.

As we ascended into clouds, I drifted off for only a moment, before I felt a light hand on my shoulder, ushering me awake. “Miss, we’re here now. You can turn that on now.” She cocked her head towards my lifeless cell, which, even though useless, had somehow made it back out of my purse and into my lap.

Pulling my duffel bag high up on my shoulder, I emerged from the plane and onto the small runway. The chilling Colorado air hit my naive Southern Californian body with vengeance, and I immediately regretted my former presumptions that my knock-off Ugg boots and skinny jeans would be sufficient protection from Colorado Mountain weather. As I made my way to the terminal, I tried to recall ancient family Christmas memories, anything that would provide me with some faint recollection of this estranged part of my family.

When the doors slid open I scanned baggage claim, hoping for someone to stand out to me. Standing in baggy jeans and hiking boots, her blonde hair tied up into a messy ponytail, she did. I smiled and hurried over to her, throwing my arms around her shoulders, and pulling her in close. She smelled like snow and dirt and Dove soap, and I didn’t want to let her go.

“Oh my God,” she said, when we finally detangled from one another. “It’s been like ten years, right?”

I nodded. “Yeah, something like that.”

She looked at me for a second, just nodding. Lots and lots of nodding. “I’m really glad you came.”

We exited the airport and piled into her Ford Escape. I fell silent, partly out of exhaustion, and partly out of a total loss for conversation. Dulcie understood this and began to explain the current situation to me: “Rick is with him right now. My mom went home to get some sleep. Becky is out getting food, she’ll be back soon. They have a room on the second floor for you to stay in. We can go see him right now if you’d like. I just have to warn you though…he isn’t how you remember him. He’s pretty bad.”

I nodded.

A few minutes later we pulled off of the main road, down a street and into a tiny parking lot in front of a large red building. Welcome to Mesa View Retirement Community. I read the sign over and over again, suddenly surprised to finally be in the place that I had heard talked about so many times. Dulcie led me in silence into the lobby. Plush, floral couches stood in a logical arrangement in the middle of the room. An obnoxiously large chandelier hung from the arched, wooden ceiling. A petite women in a red velvet tracksuit with a black bun tied neatly on the top of her head sat staring at us from her spot in a leather armchair in the corner of the room, her overweight Shizu panting and weezing on her lap. I smiled awkwardly at her and continued to follow my cousin down a long hallway, stopping at a door marked “Ed Dwyer” in little gold letters underneath the peephole.

I entered the room and was immediately greeted by familiar smells, ones where I could never actually pinpoint the origin, but nonetheless left me nostalgic for the days spent swimming in my grandparent’s pool when I was 7, when they owned the old house in Texas.

“Rick, Alisa’s here,” Dulcie called out into the living room.

“Alisa,” my uncle’s voice boomed. “Well I’ll be damned.” He pulled me into a suffocating hug, chuckling to himself. “Look at you! All grown up. I suppose you don’t remember me anymore. Well I’ve gotten a little bigger around the middle as you can see. But I’ve cut down on the smoking! Almost done with the pack I bought Thursday, and that’s, you know, that’s good for me.”

I smiled and nodded, if there was one thing I remembered about my uncle it was that he was constantly trying to convince us he was losing weight and trying to quit smoking.

“Let’s see if Grandpa’s awake,” Dulcie interjected, crossing the living room to peek into the bedroom. She stood for a moment, looking into the dark room, seemingly trying to make out his figure. She motioned for me to follow. She entered the room, flicking on a dim lamp on the table by his bed. “Grandpa? Are you awake? I brought someone to see you,” Dulcie’s voice was soft and gentle. The reply was a mix of mumbles and a hacking cough.

“Hi Grandpa, it’s me, Alisa,” I moved to sit in the armchair by his bed and reached out to grab his hand. He nodded and squeezed my hand with such force that I jumped a little. He may have been 95, but Irish blood coursed through his veins, and his body was still as strong as an ox.

Dulcie decked out of the room, leaving us alone. After a minute I opened my mouth to say something, but closed it, not wanting to ruin the moment with frivolities about the weather or how my schoolwork was coming along. So we sat in silence, listening to the snow tap lightly at the window and snippets of a very angry Nancy Grace from a Fox News segment that my uncle was engaged with in the adjacent room.

Suddenly my grandfather coughed and turned his head to look at me. He mumbled something I couldn’t make out and then looked at me for a response. “Grandpa, I’m didn’t get that. What did you say?” He looked annoyed and closed his eyes for a moment before opening them again. I leaned over him, turning my ear towards his mouth.

“The Republican Party is ridiculous.”

I sat back, a little stunned and then started to ramble. “Oh I know, they’re a shit show. Rick Santorum is an absolute joke. American democracy is just going down the tubes.” He widened his eyes at me but didn’t say anything.

I waited a moment before adding, “Grandpa, you know, I’m a registered Democrat now.” He broke out into a wide smile, nodding. He sat there beaming for a minute before nodding again and whispering, “Smart kid.”


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lemony-Freshness is All in Your Head

Surfacing from a night’s spell of sleep, I awake to smell. I smell the scent of room, a pleasant mixture of dust and bed and books and clothes. Faintly, the smell of incense still hangs onto the walls. As I turn to my side, I nuzzle into a familiar scent emanating from skin a shade of clay divinely smoothed onto a soft, feminine frame. As sunlight moves into the perfect angle, a million shades of gold and brown in her hair are illuminated, sliding down messy curls moving outward and downward and into her pillow. The scent of rich, natural oils from her hair saturate her bed. Her face is stiff with slumber until eyes and mouth open slowly at once, greeting me with their focus. The honey held in her eyes spill onto lips; juicy and sweet pressed against mine. I am engulfed by scents. They trigger a lifetime’s worth of experience. There is no freshness here, but rather a thick heritage of recollection. Brings a whole new meaning to having a dirty mind.

The other day I was cleaning my house, a habit that becomes more conducive to my schedule the more homework I have due. Grabbing my invaluable companion, a bottle of Windex, I paused and evaluated my relationship to this particular sense and the invention of “clean.”

The smell of clean is manufactured; the absence of odor really occurs nowhere in nature. Lemons smell like lemons, not lemony-freshness. But our compulsion to rid ourselves of smell is human in a way. After all, scent is the strongest sense tied to memory and can nag more fervently than any sight or sound. We can close our eyes and muffle our ears, but scents invade our bodies, pushing identities of substances into our minds us until we are forced to acknowledge why we know this smell. Scars of certain times remain tied with their aroma.

I can still feel the sensations of smell as though they have lingered in my nostrils since we first came into contact. If I try hard, I can close my eyes and inhale sharply, remembering what my childhood smelled like. Hospital and Big Red gum. I am in my living room, where a deep ocean blue dyes the carpet that stretches across the floor. My ocean, I call it. The door opens, and in comes my mom, scrubs still on. She hugs me, smacking the gum loudly, sloppily, talking through these scents, sending the messages with a hint of cinnamon that for years was too strong for my mouth to enjoy.

I inhale again and smell later-learned scents of Windex and Febreeze, like I had spilled it all over my mother’s house. Prints of light blue flowers float gently downward on the evenly spread blanket I lift and let fall across my mother’s bed. I sighed in rhythm with this movement, this ritual. When my mom was upset, I would find this smell of clean and douse our house in it. My mission was to save her from the grief of memories. Maybe she would feel fresher, not anchored to the scents of debt and loneliness and a world she saw as hostile. Could I make life neat for her, rid her of scents of unwanted, unpleasant memories? Could I scrub away the chaos of history bonded to the collections of smells warranting attention?

In the English language, “clean” is a loaded word. It speaks to absence, often the absence of negative things. Clean cut, clean conscious, clean record, clean slate… We wipe our hands clean of problems, and consume to breathe clean air and water. But when did we decide to assign these meanings to notions of humanity? Is the ideology of clean really attainable? What do lemons have to do with the absence of dirt? We assign shortcuts to these ideas… essentially, that’s what language is. But I cheer for the underdogs of language, the lepers of labels. I feel bad for the natural world. Dirt was here first. As we live our lives, do our brains not become dirty with memory? Is love not the work of becoming rich with the dirt of each other? Do spices that rush out of opened cabinets not remind of us food that makes our mouth water?

Clearly, there is value in these sensations, what fascinates me is how we organize them, how strongly we recall them. I can’t take a picture of summer, but I know when I smell it. Summer smells sticky hot, the kind of heat that makes you sweat before you dry yourself off post-shower. It smells like 9 in the morning, when wind blows through my window already thick with scents of trees, baked in Midwest summer heat. I will leave you with words from American vocalist and actress Ethel Waters, words about smells that, to me, are better than any smell of the absence of life.

“Nothing can beat the smell of dew and flowers and the odor that comes out of the earth when the sun goes down.”

Your weekend warrior,


Why we easily scare when we see a homeless person

The issue of homelessness is one that has always existed throughout history. It is currently
a social phenomenon, and has been insensitively misrepresented in the media. When seeing a homeless person from a distance, or approached by one, our initial thought is to ignore them or get rid of them as quickly as possible. As a society we attempt to ignore the homeless population because the media depicts them as being mentally ill, drug addicts, or violent people. It is important to recognize the media’s misinterpretation. I recently spoke with a friend who shared her experience as a volunteer at a shelter called Midnight Mission that intrigued me enough to look more into.

Located in downtown Los Angeles, Midnight Mission is a non-profit organization attempts to in fact do something about the problem of homelessness instead of ignoring it. Through their life changing programs and services, homeless people are given an opportunity to overcome their current lifestyle, and a second chance to live among accepted society. At Midnight Mission, the homeless people are given a safe place to sleep, three hot meals, clothes, shower and shaves, job
training classes and much more. This all men’s shelter is not easy to get into, and actually requires homeless people to qualify by proving they are dedicated to turn their lives around. The programs they offer are nine months, where strict rules are enforced; including class attendance,drug tests, and being found intoxicated or causing havoc will result in disqualification from the program.

The media creates negative connotations towards the homeless who are commonly seen as lazy people who choose to be in that situation.Midnight Mission is a great cause, that proves these people are not all lazy, violent, addicts, or mentally ill. In fact they are just like any of us, capable of so much, and have quite fascinating stories and experiences.

Another common issue where the media fails is in the notion of being homeless. The media has led to the term being used to categorize them unfairly, for the reason that their are so many different types of homeless people. Not all homeless people are the one’s you see sleeping in the park. Being homeless can mean living out of your car, or a student who finds ways of living around campus to avoid paying expensive housing fees.

The media portrays them in a negative manner, as if they are all bad people. What people need to understand is that becoming homeless can happen to anyone. My friend explains how while volunteering she met numerous men who have undergone obstacles that led to their unfortunate situation. In one case, a man had his family killed in a fire, which led him to break down mentally and lose his job. Another man was a college graduate from the University of San Diego, but was overwhelmed with his student loans and became homeless.

The fascinating story that journalist of the LA Times, Steve Lopez writes on Nathaniel Ayers, a musician who develops schizophrenia and becomes homeless, is proof that their in fact remarkable people who are homeless. This story may sound familiar for some; because it was later made into a film starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx called The Soloist. The media is quick to depict the homeless population in such an incorrect angle, and they fail to show they are not all the stereotypical image of being homeless. Midnight Mission illustrates the ability homeless people have. The media could do more by showing more success stories on the homeless people, and show they are capable of starting a new life, such as Nathaniel Ayers.

Where are all the kids?

When we think about our childhoods, we always think of simpler times. And for me personally, it
was exactly like that. I clearly remember spending half of my childhood playing outdoors. Climbing trees, roller skating, soccer, tag, hide and seek, riding bikes, water balloon fights and so much
more. During summer breaks, and weekends I would be out with the other neighborhoods
kids all day. The streetlights that lit the neighborhood at 6 pm everyday would
be the sign that it was time to go inside and call it a day.

I have a few younger cousins who exemplify how things have dramatically changed, and not for the better. I find it disturbing and worrying that so many kids like my cousins now spend so much of their time indoors. With the technology available now, kids have so many ways to entertain themselves, and spend very little time outdoors. Cell phones, mp3 players, video game
consoles, computers, tablets, televisions. So many of the devices available that I feel take away from kids having a real childhood. It was the childhood experiences playing outdoors that I feel I was able to learn from, and something that kids now are missing out on. Making friends, being social, competitiveness, staying active and simply making memories was something I thank my parents for. As much as I wanted a Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, or any other game console, my parents would always say no, and while I temporarily hated them, I look back with pure thankfulness. I was forced to have fun outdoors and play with other kids.

While is obvious that obesity and not being active are connected, I feel that interaction alone is very important, and simply staying indoors to play games and watch tv is not healthy. I have noticed the media’s attempt to help the issue by ads telling kids to play thirty minutes or more outdoors, and schools requiring kids to do physical activity. Although this is important, I see the main issue being the technology that has become easily available to all, including kids. For this reason, I commend the parents, like mine, who take the time and make the effort to help their children by enforcing physical activity.

I volunteered as a soccer coach for a young boys team, and while I took many good things from that experience, I was able to recognize the importance of something as small as playing in a teamsport.It was not until being older, and a coach that I admired my parents for what they did for me and my siblings. Working multiple jobs, and still making time to take me and my three siblings to practice and games at various hours,I know could not have been easy. It was not until seeing the faces of the parents of my kids team that noticed many of these parents are exhausted, but still they value the importance of their kids well being.

Kids nowadays in my neighborhood are hardly outdoors, and are not seen playing the same way I remember doing so as a child. I try to encourage my younger cousins to do so, but I notice how difficult it is to get the message across when all they want to do is play video games and be on the computer . Unfortunately the battle is being won by technology, and the younger generation is failing to see the importance of being active. I think it is important for parents to unite and take initiative. For that reason I am thankful for my parents, and praise the ones who are not letting
technology raise their own.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hidden confessions of a coffee shop.

He sketched her with such finesse, scanning her every feature with his sharp gaze. He would look at her frequently, making sure each detail was just right. She was reading. Philosophy, or sociology, or some other subject that sends you in a deep whirlwind of intense thought. She was too busy taking notes to enter that trance. Reading but not looking. He must have erased her face six times before really beginning. She had a good face to sketch. Perfect cheekbones. Thick eyebrows. Something you would want to see in a drawing. Something you would buy because it looked deep. They would probably think she was his former lover, someone he lost in some grand, tragic story. Or someone he could never have because he never got the courage to talk to her. Just silently watching her, wishing. Her eyes were filled with passion; it made you want to know her. Little would they know she was nobody. Neither was he. They had been sitting at the tables next to each other at a coffee shop. Never destined to meet. Just put there by some cosmic twist of fate. By the way he looked at her you would think he saw inside her. To her core. She would be his masterpiece and he wouldn’t even know her name. He made her prettier than she was, like all artists do. Her face smaller, her eyes darker and more worthy. He gave her more character, more person. It was a beautiful silent exchange of fates. I watched these two carefully, because they were different. They were the reason the little coffee shop on the corner existed. They were the reason I had a soul.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In My Own Little Corner

The sharp, focused lighting overhead that never quite hits the right spot. The white down comforter that is freezing to the touch. The out-of-place black office chair that makes a 360 degree turn, sweeping over every inch of the slightly curved walls. The framed black and white amateur photographs. The dusty trophies and plaques that keep to their place on the high shelf. The tiny mirrored closet doors that have held faces of contemplation, laughter, and morning routines.
At first sight, the past seven years of my life drown me with emotion. Meaningful rooms and places have a way of doing that to me. No matter how many times I experience that “back home after so long” feeling, the nostalgic strength of it never fades. My bedroom, despite being stripped of the clutter of everyday life, holds frozen moments of time in every nook and cranny.
I can see vividly the creaky spot on the floor where I jumped up and down in joy over a text from a boy. The railings on the bed where my best friends and I would swing our legs over the edge and laugh until our stomaches hurt. The corner of my desk where my cat would lounge as I worked tirelessly on summer school homework. Every moment fights for a spot in my memories, bringing forward a quiet giggle or knowing grimace each time I walk into the room, suitcase in hand.
The more I am forced into adulthood, the less I come home and have moments like these. The memories are becoming old, leaving more of a pit in my stomach when I realize how many years have gone by and how far away I am moving from days of high school heartbreak and best friend pacts. The “For Sale” sign out front means that I could soon lose this last material piece of my past. Though the future is thrilling, the creep into my 20’s has made nostalgia a good friend. So now I attempt to greet it with a small smile and a truce and settle into the down comforter, listening to the sounds of home and family that I know will come along no matter where home is.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Wait, What Did I Hear?

“Are we old?”

I’m sitting with my friends Dakota and Coco on a hot Saturday afternoon. Shaded by her house and surrounded by Dakota’s extended family, we are celebrating Easter. She’s Jewish, her extended family on her mom’s side are Christian, so Friday was Passover and Sunday is Easter, but her family splits the difference so that everyone can come together.

“I don’t know anymore!” I take a sip of water as I stare into the glass doors that lead into her house.

“But really whatever happened to leaving something to the imagination?” I sit back and suddenly feel like grandma complaining about bad rap music, but are we so wrong?

I guess I should digress. The topic we were covering on that light and fun filled day surrounded the fact that music seems to be getting more and more crass, and this opinion is coming from someone who loves, pop, hip hop, rap, and everything in-between. I don’t really get shocked at anything anymore, but maybe that’s a bad thing. I’m so desensitized that I literally can listen to any unedited song and not bat an eye. Yet, despite my ever-expanding idea of acceptable things in music, there’s a part of me that dies a little when certain songs come on the radio.

I know I’m no saint when it comes to swearing and vulgarity, because I like the “that’s what she/he said” jokes as much as the next person, but when I’m literally listening to Nicki Minaj rap on the radio and half of it disappears because of the content, I seriously have to wonder. What really got me thinking about the content of what I’m listening happened when I heard the new E-40 song that’s literally called “Let’s fuck”. Something like that makes me wonder, what happened to allusion? What happened to a little mystery? I think there’s something to be said for songs that don’t bulldoze the line between “Hey I’m hinting at sex in this song” and “Let’s fuck,” there’s something way sexier about less is more in terms of music.

When I think of less is more I think Death Cab for Cutie, Rufus Wainright, Damien Rice, Dashboard Confessional, there’s a level of ambiguity or even just an eloquence of subject that seems to be a little less...degrading? Perhaps that’s the problem. As I sit worrying about whether I’m becoming old, or if over night my sensibilities towards swearing changed, I realize that instead of feeling like I’m going insane, I just have started noticing that songs have just been more and more degrading to me. Not necessarily as a woman, though that may be one side of the case, but just in general with the way certain topics are handled.

Maybe I need to just ignore it, maybe I’ll end up accepting this as the new wave of music, but for now I’ll sit and wonder how someone thought making a chorus of the word “cake” and utilizing the phrase “put my cake in you face” would be anything less than demeaning on many levels.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Isle

Dripping delicious tears, I can’t help but bubble when she cries. I want to get closer; closer until the tip of my nose touches hers. It begins with huffs and puffs. Hot blows of hot air, streaming hot streams like a dragon—a dragon defeated and exposed. Her breath is victorious, even though she feels like she is resigning, weak and fallen. With every blink, her drips drip; with every drip, her blinks blink. Rhythmic with her blowing breath, hot, hotter, hottest. Her eyelashes stick together in pointed triangles, moist and dark. Her eyelids are shiny and juicy. I want to press my lips against them, maybe lick them—a rainforest in the arctic of her white, light skin. She explains herself, even excuses herself.

Chin tucked near her chest, all I am left with at this point is the canvas of her eyelids. Outside it is raining. Like her tears, the drops awaken me more and more. Who says rain is sleepy? Tears, too, can be jubilation. My face stays solemn and I listen intently. She has: fears, uncertainties, multiple maps of the future. Plot your time, I think. All that is certain is where you want to be in that moment. The strongest contract is your presence in time that simultaneously causes the dissolution of said medium.

The stampede of rain is not trickles on a tin roof and I do not desire that illusion of inspiration. Sobs, too, are not to be muffled. I refuse to believe otherwise. I further fought the urge to lick her salty face. I picture the grimy, untouched pool outside my apartment she had told me was flooding with water. I finally kiss her puffy pale cheeks; I hoped she didn’t think I disregarded her emotions. They are too good for me not to get up, not to enjoy.

This is time and here you are! I’ll watch you cry again and again. Don’t hurry to laugh. We are awake and asleep. The sky is falling down and has left you with freckles.

The rain kept me up that night, for which I was grateful. She slept soundly and I wondered willingly when it would be my turn to cry.

Have you ever watched yourself cry? It fascinated me as a little girl. I use to run to the mirror and watch. I challenge you the next time to do the same, whether you have or have not done it in the past. The challenge is: try not to taste your tasty tears.

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,

Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices

That, if I then had waked after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,

The clouds methought would open, and show riches

Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked

I cried to dream again.

[Spoken by Caliban in The Tempest]