lainey writes letters

June 2, 2011

basketball diaries

Filed under: flash fiction,The FeathertonTrust — uccloud9 @ 2:02 pm

Stacey’s period incident at the mall was thankfully glossed over.  More shocking gossip fodder happened when we went back to school.  Steve Quiroz suddenly had a girlfriend when he walked down the halls of school.  It turns out he had his eye on Cindy as he was sharing french fries with the LOV girls that day.  Cindy shyly smiled at him as her shoulders squared with more confidence as she walked with his arm draped around her shoulder.  Our lockers were near each other since Cindy Lingnasan alphabetically was close to Danielle Martin.

“Hey Dawn” Steve’s voice was a surprise to hear in the freshman halls.  I couldn’t hide my surprise.

“What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be downstairs?” The junior lockers were on the floor below us.

“Just walking my girl to her locker.” He nodded his head towards Cindy and waited for my reaction.  I was saved by Marty.

“Dawn are you gonna need a ride home after practice?” I had made the varsity team as a freshman, so our practice times mirrored each other.  Afternoons of basketball at his house had actually paid off.

“I think so. Can we give Stace a ride too? She’s got dance team practice.” Stacey couldn’t shoot a basketball to save her life, but she could follow choreography flawlessly.  We were a pair of frosh phenoms.  Jen Magda was also a freshman on varsity with me, but Stacey was the lone frosh girl on the dance team.

“That’ll work. Catch ya later.  See you at practice Steve?” Marty pauses and waits for Steve, but he’s currently occupied with his tongue down Cindy’s throat.  Guess being the sweet LOV girl also means being the one okay with PDA in the halls.  I grab the books for my next class and shut my locker.

“Laters” I roll my eyes and cringe.  Stacey catches up and walks with me to Spanish class. “Don’t be jealous!”  This causes another eye roll reaction. “Whatever let’s just get to class.”

You would think that an afternoon of running and shooting drills would tire Marty out, but somehow we ended playing a pick up game at his house.  Marty lived one street over, so after he dropped me off I hopped on my bike for more basketball.  The game ended up being me and Marty versus Steve and Dave who both were on the varsity team with Marty. Dave was a recent addition to the team.  Apparently he’d been practicing his outside three pointer between video game sessions.  Cindy sat on the lawn watching her new boyfriend attempt to show off.  Stacey had walked over to hang out with Marty’s brother Thomas.  Thomas was a year younger than Marty, but a year older than us.  His season wouldn’t start until after basketball, when both Marty and Thomas played varsity volleyball together.  Until then Thomas would spend most of his time watching bootleg anime movies, a secret obsession of Stacey’s, and sketching whatever he fancied in his sketchbook.

I wanted nothing to do with Steve.  Marty knew something was wrong, but I was too embarrassed to tell him what happened.

The summer before school started we had been playing Contra on Marty’s ratty Nintendo system.  Boredom had set in for all of us so we thought we might as well play another round of the game.  For some reason I couldn’t get the code to work and Steve wasn’t helping me much by rubbing my knee.

“Quit it. I can’t get it right.” I smacked his hand off of me.  Steve had noticed that I wasn’t one of the boys anymore. My breasts and the curves of my hips had filled out.  As much as I wanted to be one of the boys, still be a kid, my body was refusing to let me be.

“Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, B, A, Start” My fingers were finally able to press the right buttons in the right order in time. “FINALLY!” In the excitement I missed the fact that Steve’s hand had crept up and latched onto my chest.  I look down to see him lecherously looking at me.  “What are you doing?!” I drop the controller and shove him off me. He grabs my leg and his hand creeps close to my crotch and I kick him in the shoulder and run out of the Marty’s room and hide in the bathroom. I run the faucet and take my time.  I try to rehash what just happened and nothing makes sense.  Tears start to form, but I swallow the sob that wants to come out.  I don’t want anyone to hear me.

“Dawn? Are you still in the bathroom? I kinda have to go!” Thomas yells as he knocks on the door.

“Almost done.” I stare into the mirror and I attempt to look normal.  I take a deep breathe and unlock the door.

“You okay?” Thomas runs in, closes the door quickly, and he begins to pee.

“Yeah. I’m gonna head home.” I walk out of their house and don’t hear Thomas yelling for me to wait.  He wants to talk, but I don’t.

“Dawn can you bring the bag of Cheetos from the kitchen?” Marty yells from his room, but I’m already out the door, racing to get home.  Stacey is in her front yard watering her lawn, but I don’t bother to say hi. I want to be alone. I want to pretend that it never happened.

The next day I wear an extra large t-shirt and basketball shorts when I’m at Thomas and Marty’s house.  Steve isn’t there, and he wouldn’t be over for a while since his family is out of town on a trip to visit relatives in Seattle.  The summer days blend into fall and I get my wish. It’s like it never happened. As long as I’m not around Steve.

Steve tries to guard Marty but gets stopped by a pick I put on him.  He crashes into my body and as he maneuvers around me he doesn’t resist the opportunity to grab my ass.  My feet turn to lead.  The memory of the summer comes back.  I hope and pray that no one notices.  Marty cuts to the basket for an easy lay up.  Steve follows and they share a high five.  Dave notices I haven’t moved, “Hey, what up?”

I want to yell.  I want to go up to Steve and knee him in the balls.  I want to break every finger on his hand, so that he won’t be able to ever touch me.  But I can’t.  I do nothing.  “I’m fine. I’m fine.” I repeat it to myself willing it to be true. I look up to find Thomas seething.  The pencil sketches show scenes of us playing basketball.  Me guarding Dave.  Marty concentrating on a jump shot.  Dave posted up against me. Steve eying something, someone, eying me. Thomas had been watching. He’d seen everything.  Every crossover Marty easily made. Every protective glance that Dave through my way. Every moment Steve gawked at my chest.

I don’t bother to stop him as he walks up to Steve.

“Don’t you ever touch her like that again!” Thomas arms shove him onto the driveway.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Marty tries to pull his brother off his friend.

“You didn’t see it? Steve was all over Dawn!” The anger in his voice starts the tears in my eyes.

“What are you talking about. Get off me Thomas!” Steve tries to punch him back, but Thomas shifts his weight to lean his arm on his neck.  Marty looks at me and I can’t meet his gaze.  “I…I gotta” I don’t bother to finish. I run to my bike and my feet do the rest.  Dave tries to follow me but I turn the corner and pedal furiously until I practically crash into my garage.  I dump my bike onto our front porch and I yank the screen door open and find myself greeted with the smell of fresh cooked bangus.

“Danielle? Susmarioseph. Go get cleaned up and we’ll have dinner.” My mother doesn’t see my tear stained face. She sees the scuffs on my shoes and the sweat stains on my shirt. The evening news drowns out the sound of fish frying.  I head to the bathroom and run the shower.  I stare into the mirror and let the steam rise.  My reflection disappears, turns into a blurry haze. The water beats down on me and I let the hot sting wash away the afternoon.  The sound of the shower running and the news blends together so that no one can hear me.

“I’m fine.” I sob the words out.

“I’m fine.” I need to believe it.

“I’m fine.”

Too bad I know it’s not true.

June 1, 2011

Crushed

Filed under: flash fiction,The FeathertonTrust,wordstock — uccloud9 @ 3:01 pm

The layout of the mall was in the shape of a U.  We entered at the center of the bottom of the U.  Locked arm in arm I feigned an enthusiastic teenage smile as we walked to where Paula was holding court over her LOV minions.  They were all of average height for a Filipina teen so the range was between 4’11 and 5’6.  The color spectrum of their long straight hair was between “blonde” which was actually more orange, dark brown, and jet black.  Paula wore a denim Guess overalls, a tank bodysuit, and platform flip flops that made her 4’11 frame shoot to a domineering 5’3 stature.  Paula was the self-proclaimed LOV leader.  It was her idea to call their group of friends “Ladies of Vogue.”  The other girls went along with her because they had been friends since first grade, why rock the boat.

Each girl had their role.  Cindy was the sweet one. She was nice and soft spoken to everyone, but a sarcastic streak would come out if she was comfortable with you.  Dee was the nerdy one.  I had most of my honors classes with her.  She preferred to wear her glasses, but wore violet colored contacts because Paula insisted they made her look prettier.  In reality the violet looked unnatural against her darker skin tone.  Isa was short for Marisa. She was the tallest of the girls and always felt so awkward with her height.  Most of the boys hadn’t had their growth spurts, so Isa felt weird standing above them.  She lived a couple of houses next to Dee and they were cousins in that convoluted Filipino way.  Their parents had grown up in the same town and were distantly related by some 4th degree cousin.  Jules was Paula’s best friend and yes girl.  When Paula thought something was cool, Jules was the first to agree with her. If Paula picked a new shade of lip liner, Jules would be wearing it the next day.  Whenever Paula thought someone or something had done her wrong, Jules was the first to smack talk or plot revenge.  Or even worse lead the charge on making someone a social pariah.

“So it seems like you and my brother hit it off.” Paula’s tine sounded like the beginnings of an interrogation.

I shrugged my shoulders. “If you say so.  We like the same games.  We’ve hung out at the donut shop near school.”  My nose crinkles as we walk into a Bath and Body Works.  The heavy perfumes and lotions make my head spin.  Cindy picks up the body splash tester for her favorite scent “Fresia” and sprays it all around her.  I think it smells like cat pee.  Stacey hangs back with Isa and Dee.  The three of them had been in the same Brownie troop years ago.  The struggles of cookie selling made them friends or at least friendly for the most part.

“I think Davey has a crush on you.” Jules giggles the phrase out of her mouth.  Paula and Jules talk over me in their secret language that’s filled with innuendo I didn’t want to any part of.  “You two would make a good couple,” Paula persists.  I was at least a head taller than Paula and Jules, yet they somehow made me feel small.  Very, very small.

“Uh. Ok.” I don’t really know how to respond that.

Stacey offers , “Oh totally. You two would be SO GOOD together” in an effort to join the conversation that I didn’t know she had been following.  I catch Paula and Jules roll their eyes at her, but she’s back to talking to Isa and Dee.  As much as Stacey wants me to hang out with all of them, I can’t help but contemplate several ways out of Paula and Jules clutches.  Faking a stomach problem, faking a fainting spell, faking a family emergency that my spidey senses have set off.  It all sounds better than being with them.

“Psst DAWN!” A loud hiss and an even louder whisper calls my name.  My eyes follow the sound and I spot my cousin Marty Delgado with his basketball team buddies. Curiously, he’s also with Paula’s brother Dave.  My feet lead me to them and my lungs are happy to be out of the overly sweet smelling store.

“Hey Marty!”  I don’t even hide my relief at seeing him.

“We ran into Dave at the arcade and he told us that you were here. I was surprised to find out you were hanging out with L.O.V. What’s up with that?” He teases.  Marty doesn’t need to be in a clique. He’s a jock. His lot in life is already set thanks to his need to bounce a ball up and down the court. Marty also had a knack for putting the ball in the hoop.  At 6 feet he was a giant amongst the other Filipino boys on the team.  His height made him a forward on our high school varsity team, but he played like a guard because he knew his chances of being recruited were better at that position. Occasionally I played against him and his friends, but I was called out for elbowing people in the back too much.

“Don’t even go there” I really didn’t want to explain. “It’s a favor for Stace.” I left it at that and he nodded in understanding.  I grab a handful of french fries from the large cup in his hands.  My other hand motions for his soda but he pulls it back. “DUDE. ASK?”

“PLEASE” I flash him a smile full of french fries. Marty pretends to be disgusted and hands over his coke.  “Sheesh Dawn. Could you remember that you’re a lady for once?”  I ignore the loud chortles and snorts coming from Marty’s friends.  “You see a lady? Where? I just see Dawn.” A french fry leaves my hand and lands on Steve Quiroz’s face.  “Sweet. I was just going to ask for more fries!”

“GROSS” Paula shrieks loud enough to have everyone look towards her.  The girls giggle around her and Stacey shifts oddly in her chair.  I notice her sweater is wrapped around her waist.  I walk over to Stacey with a handful of fries and a look of concern. “You okay?” I offer her a fry.  “My period started.” She whispers in my ear. “Cindy mentioned the spot on my jeans and that’s when Paula freaked out.”  She was trying to mask her embarrassment but it was obvious that Paula hurt her by using the situation to call attention to herself.  “Come on, let’s go to the bathroom. I’ll make you a pad.”  I grab her hand and we motion to the bathrooms near by.

“Where are you going?” Jules knowingly asks.

“Bathroom.” I answer her curtly.

“WHY?” Paula loudly makes a show of it for everyone.  Stacey squeezes my hand in terror.

“I have to take a dump.” I say matter of factually. Steve laughs.  Marty looks like he’s going to say something but I wave him off.  We pick up the pace and end up in the bathroom.  Stacey runs into a stall.  “How bad is it?” I ask.  She’s silent, embarrassed, and crushed.  My hands macguyver a make shift pad.  I roll up enough toilet paper into a pad and hand it to her under the stall. “This will work. It’s okay.  Just where you sweater around your waist and no one will notice. Come on Stace. It’ll be okay.”  I try to be supportive, but we’re teenagers.  Stacey knows she’ll be the topic of gossip at school.  “Guess what happened to Stacey at the mall last weekend!”  Paula and Jules would lead the rumor mill.  Stacey knew it and yet she still wanted one of those stupid heart shaped necklaces.

“I just wanna go home.” She finally replies. I nod even though she can’t see me behind the bathroom stall door, “Okay can you hang out here while I ask if Marty can give us a ride home?”

“Sure.”

It felt like hours, but it really took minutes.  Marty already knew something was wrong so when I asked if he would take Stacey and me home he agreed without any questions.  Thankfully his friends had all drove to the mall on their own.  Paula and Jules peaked over at me as I worked things out with Marty.  I don’t bother to acknowledge them.  Cindy, Isa, and Dee munched on more fries purchased by Steve. I can’t tell which girl he has his eye on.  I don’t bother to warn them about Steve’s wandering hands and why I know they wander.  Dave was coming out of the men’s bathroom right before I was going to get Stacey out of the women’s room.

“Is Stacey okay?” He was genuinely concerned.

“She will be.”  I would make sure of it.

“Sorry about Paula. She can be a pain.” My foot tapped.  I didn’t really have time for this.

“Yeah. Sure. I’ll see you around Dave.” The words coldly brushed him off. I tried to ignore his flinching reaction, but I couldn’t.  Dave was a nice guy, it was just too bad that his sister was such a bitch.

“Look you owe me a round of Street Fighter at the donut shop.  Just be prepared to lose and lose badly.” I escape into the bathroom to collect Stacey.  I miss the smile on Dave’s face as he walks back to his sister.

“Ready to go?” My voice echoes.  Stacey’s eyes are puffy from crying.  She’s washed her face in an effort to make herself feel better.  Her face is clear of the make up she had caked on earlier.  She looked considerably younger and prettier without the heavy foundation, eyeliner and matte lipstick.  I offer her a smile as she tugs on the sleeves of her sweater, making sure the knot is secure.  Stacey then links arms with me and instead of the mad women I saw when we first got to the mall I see her, I see my best friend.

“Let’s get out of here.”

May 31, 2011

Ladies of Vogue

Filed under: flash fiction,The FeathertonTrust,wordstock — uccloud9 @ 4:12 pm

“You smell like seaweed.”

The smell of coffee snaps my neuroses awake.

“so…”

The ocean is so far away from the couch my face is buried in.

“The least you could do is not get sand in between the cushions.”

The cable box reads 12:12 pm.

“It’s my couch Stace. It doesn’t bother me.”

Her annoyance fills the air.

“What do you want Stacey?”

My day started at 4:30am when I rolled out of bed. Grabbed my backpack and headed to the beach for the morning ritual. Waves, sausage egg biscuit from local fast food eatery, then back home for nap before a Saturday of nothing.  At least that was the plan. But my sneaking suspicion that my new roommate slash childhood best friend would think otherwise.

“Brunch!”

Several minutes later I find myself with a bloody mary in my hand and a plate of various buffet options asking for my attention.  Brunch is normally a Sunday affair, but Stacey has turned Saturday of nothing into a brunch date.

“I miss this.” The mimosa in Stacey’s glass slowly draining into her mouth.

The act and the statement is all for her.  There were many brunch dates in Stacey’s previous home on the east coast.  A career as an event planner for a large firm had given her connections and a life that emulated Carrie Bradshaw. She thought she was happy until she looked in the mirror and saw that the extensions in her hair and the expensive shoes and bags in her closet amounted to a 30 year old with a lot of pretty things and nothing else.  I didn’t have the wanderlust that she did. I was happy to stay in California, go to college, go to law school, take the bar, work and surf. The city I moved to became the city I grew up in and for once I felt like it was home.  Stace never could understand how I could stay.  But then again I didn’t get thrown through the uncomfortable ringer that is the popular kids of junior high and high school.

Even though she was teased for her funny name and her funny outfits, Stacey wanted what most girls wanted. She wanted to be popular.  As we got to junior high she learned that a flat square brush and a hair dryer could straighten out the kinks in her hair.  Lip gloss and tweezers could brighten up her face. Hiking up a skirt or rolling up the cuffs of a pair of shorts could get you noticed.  Classmates started to notice. Most importantly popular classmates started to see her.  Stacey was no longer invisible. And she loved it.

I let her handle the ordeal of puberty and being a teenager while I hung on to being a kid for as long as possible.  While she tweezed, I watched hours of after school cartoons on television. While she pined over boys we had grimaced at years earlier, I got on my bike and rode to the nearest donut shop and played video games with boys she thought were beneath her.  While she wrote flirtatious notes to boys in study hall, I did my homework and ignored the fact that my training bra wasn’t supporting me enough.  Her clothes got noticeably more fitted, while I clung onto baggy tshirts, not wanting the fact that I was no longer a girl to be true.  As my mother put it when I got my period months before Stacey, “You’re a woman now Danielle!” My parents celebrated with letting me get my ears pierced. As if the prize of holes in my earlobes would erase the fact that I was now going to bleed every month for the rest of my life.

The popular girls in junior high were a clique. And as most cliques do, they had a name. “Ladies of Vogue” or LOV. They had the same look.  Skinny Filipino girls with long brown hair who wore the latest and greatest that could be shoplifted from Wet Seal or Contempo Casuals.  They signed all their notes with a heart and the letters LOV inside it.  I rolled my eyes. Stacey started to look like their clone and did everything Paula Kalimutan, the LOV fearless leader asked of her. All the LOV girls wore a heart necklace with their names engraved on it. I always wondered how they got those.  It’s not like you can really five finger a personalized piece of jewelry.  Stacey dreamed of the day she have one of her own.

Stacey never stopped being my friend. We just saw less of each other at school.  She spent her time tagging along with the LOV girls and I spent my time with a group of girls who had no name.  LOV girls walked the playground at lunch because they were too old to play tether ball or four square. The girls who were my friends giggled as we tried to beat each other at the games.  LOV girls hogged the bathroom to gossip about whatever boy they thought was cute that week. The girls I knew raced in and out of the bathroom when it was a potty emergency.  At home Stacey would come over and retell all the stories, even if I didn’t really care.  I knew it made her feel important and I let her talk, but I never really listened.

When she would ask me if I knew about anything I’d always ask her “About what?” and she would sigh and roll her eyes.  I wasn’t growing up fast enough for her even though my body was way ahead of her. Where I had curves, Stacey was still flat.  Where she had zits, my skin remained smooth.  Hours swimming and surfing in the sand pumice’d everything off my skin.  My body looked like the women Stacey and the LOV girls idolized in Seventeen and Cosmo.

“You should hang out with me and the girls. Paula mentioned you should come to the mall with us.” We may have graduated from junior high, but we didn’t leave the cliques behind.  LOV graduated too.  Our small catholic elementary/junior high fed into small catholic high school next door.  The requested sounded easy enough.  I wanted to check out what new stuff was at Sam Goody anyhow.

“Sure. Let’s go.”

Paula’s older brother Dave picked us up in their family mini-van.  I sat up front and talked video games with him. He parked near the arcade near the mall entrance.

“We’ll be back in an hour or two.” It sounded like an order from Paula’s mouth. Dave rolled his eyes in reply, “Whatever. I’ll be in here. You know where to find me.” I started to follow Dave into the arcade. The donut shop had nothing on the machines there.

“Dawn! Come on!!” Stacey pulled my arm and dragged me away from the soundtrack of video games.  She linked arms with me and I stared at her like she was a mad woman.  “Stace lemme go. I can catch up later.”  The look in her eyes was part crazy, part pleading.  “Paula wants to walk around TOGETHER.” We were the only two girls in the group without heart shaped necklaces and Stacey’s zeal in getting one was starting to show.

“Please Dawn.”

I finally heard the voice of the girl who became my best friend all those years ago.

“Fine. But you so owe me…”

Dear Edren…again,

Filed under: letters — uccloud9 @ 2:13 pm

I wrote this letter over memorial weekend with the intent to publish when I came home. Missed that chance to publish it then, so I’ll do it now.

Dear Edren,

I just finished reading your short story and I can’t help but smile. I just finished reading your short story while having a picnic in my favorite place in San Francisco. It’s windy and I have my scarf wrapped around my head to keep me warm. It also keeps my hat from blowing away. I look very Eliza Doolittle a la “My Fair Lady” and yes I started to sing “Wouldn’t it be loverly.”

This city that you could never call home is owed a large thank you. Why? Because it is the impetus for your short story. Well that and the lady who inspired “Shelby.”

It’s a damn fine story. I say this not because you are my friend or because I slightly knew the back story behind it. I say it because it is true. You have written a damn good story.

As I read I could picture each scene play out amongst a hilly Victorian home lined backdrop. The characters do their dance of fall in love, break up terribly, and make up amicably that in the end they get their own kind of happy ending.

And as I people watch I see a couple take wedding photos I can’t help but wonder, “Is that her? Is that Shelby? Is she the one that inspired this story?” I’ll let my imagination run and say yes. Yes it is her with her new husband in an all white suit. Yes, yes it is her stressing out over her dress getting grass stained. Yes, yes it is her telling her new husband to hold her hand like this and smile like that. Yes, yes it is her because that’s what she wanted even though it is not with you.

There will be another woman who will take your breathe away and inspire future stories. And frankly I can’t wait.

Let’s get that coffee, smoke, drink, meal soon friend,

Elaine

May 20, 2011

E.S.P

Filed under: flash fiction,The FeathertonTrust,wordstock — uccloud9 @ 3:43 pm

Her name was Ethel.  She hated it.  It may have been commonplace in the 1940s, but it wasn’t commonplace in the 1980s. Her parents had been fans of “I Love Lucy” and somehow got it in their head to name their child after Lucy’s best friend.  In school, teachers would attempt to stifle their shock when they would come across her name on their rosters.

“Ethel Stacey Pawis”

Her initials were sadly ESP and her teachers never ignored the chance to ask if she had e.s.p.

Her last name brought another amount of anguish.  Pawis translates to sweat.  The other filipino children in her class would giggle at the name. Taunts of “Ethel Sweat” were frequent in her early years.  Later on she decided to simply go by her middle name, Stacey.

When she was growing up Stacey was one of her favorite character’s in Ann M. Martin’s, “Babysitter’s Club” tween series.  In the books Stacey was cool, stylish, and from the big city.  In reality she was shy, quiet, and wrinkled with the hand-me-down clothes she inherited from her older siblings.  And while her older brother thought it would be funny to dress her in Guns and Roses and Bon Jovi t-shirts,, torn jeans, and scuffed up Vans, her classmates looked at her with a wary eye.

I met Stacey in the 4th grade. My parents had moved into a post world war two, baby-boomer neighborhood that was being repopulated by a new wave of Filipino immigrants. Most of the children went to the local Catholic school nearby.  Our parents became friends and we started calling each others parental units auntie and uncle.  Feeling like a newbie and an outcast myself, Stacey became my best friend.  We shared our favorite Babysitter’s Club books, gossiped about our classmates at school, and pined over older boys we developed immature crushes on.  We became our own babysitter’s club where she was Stacey and I was Dawn even though I wasn’t a blonde blue eyed like the character in the book.  I did however share her passion for the beach.  Before we moved to the neighborhood we had lived in a farm town near the beach.  Swimming and surfing became my favorite past times. Plus Danielle could easily be switched to Dawn. Easily.  My name didn’t catch as much grief as Stacey’s. Danielle Luzviminda Martin.  When you took away my middle name I was Danielle Martin, totally nondescript and didn’t have a funny Filipino translation.

And that’s how the Stacey and Dawn stories began.  With two shy Filipino girls who had to be best friends.

May 18, 2011

they don’t have conversations

Filed under: bad poetry,freewrite,memoir — uccloud9 @ 10:16 am

They don’t talk. They fight. It’s who they are.

The stereotype of their ethnic group in the Philippines.

Simple conversations turn into all out brawls on the telephone.

The idea of having a conversation makes her head turn because it turns into a verbal sparring match.

No one talks. No one listens. It’s all fighting.

This is why she doesn’t have conversations about real things with her parents.

Everyone becomes too emotionally charged.

Blood pressure rises. Voices rise. Tempers flare.

It is all one angry mess.

Everything is a mess.

May 15, 2011

amazing adult life daydreams

Filed under: creative non-fiction,freewrite,memoir,vignettes — uccloud9 @ 11:18 am

As a child I spent many days in my room daydreaming about the future.  In my awesome amazing adult life I would be living in a sweet condo/house with spectacular views, fabulous art up on the walls, ultra modern kitchen and the biggest walk in closet that would hold all the shoes I could get my perfectly manicured fingers on.  And as I daydreamed about that life I would listen to whatever cassette single I had picked up at Sam Goody or Wherehouse or Music Plus in my boombox and dance around my room.  The future felt so far away.

The same songs I would dance the night away to are now played on oldies stations.  I live in a teeny tiny apartment with a very small closet, there isn’t enough wall space for the artwork I buy from friends or artists who I really love but can afford aka under $100, the kitchen has no counter space but I can whip up some decent meals, and the shoes…I somehow was able to purchase all these shoes with my cuticle out of control fingers.  The complete opposite of what I imagined to be my life to be has come true. Everything is the opposite minus one thing. The view.

At the top of our driveway my eyes feast on the downtown LA skyline.  It’s only five to ten minutes away, so my parents think I live in downtown.  But I don’t. I get to look at downtown. I get to play in downtown.  I get to wake up to downtown.  My heart feels happy when I see that view.  Library tower as the peak with the odd JW Marriott at the cusp.  This is home.

And in all those amazing adult life daydreams the thing that is markedly different is who I share all this with everyday.  In my amazing adult life daydreams I pictured a future that was solo.  Being an only child, I always a pictured a life on my own.  I would have my cousins who i grew up with aka the three boys aka I was the sister they never wanted, over all the time, but in the end they’d go home and it would be all mine.

Now I wake up with him by my side.  Legs tangled, blanket stolen, bedhead sharing future husband who doesn’t mind that I’m keeping my own name.  The person who doesn’t mind that I fart in my sleep and most importantly doesn’t mind that I fart in my sleep on him when I’m dreaming and he’s trying to snuggle.  The person who accepts me for all my argumentative, tigas ulo, hard headed, stubborn, she-hulks out when I’m hungry tendencies.  The person who laughs when I go berzerker over something I am totally into i.e vinylmations and/or pins at disneyland, indulges in my pillow pet needs, and enjoys my happy dance when I finally get food into my system after she-hulking hunger.

My amazing adult life daydreams may not have come true, but what I wake up to everyday is a lot better.  And that’s all I gotta say about that.

May 12, 2011

‘SC Class of 2011

Filed under: creative non-fiction,letters,memoir,vignettes — uccloud9 @ 10:50 am

“April 26th, 1992, there was a riot on the streets tell me where were you?” -Sublime

Another lifetime ago I used to do workshops on Asian Pacific American history.  I worked from a timeline, engaged undergraduate students to discuss what those moments in time meant to us as Asian Americans. When I got to April 26th, 1992 I asked, “Who can remember what happened on this date?” The response was blank stares. No one seemed to know. I remember feeling flustered and frustrated that the students I was working with had no clue what occurred on this date.

“I was only four when that happened…”

What. The. Fuck.

That stopped me in my tracks.  I stared at the room and found other students nodding their heads.  Jesus H. Christ. They were only toddlers when the LA Riots strangled the city.  They were only toddlers when the riots saw the City of Angels go up in flames.  They were only toddlers and yet their are parts of this city that haven’t been rebuilt, still scars that are left unhealed.

Those same students are graduating this week.  They’ll listen to a speaker they won’t remember. Have their name called and probably mispronounced by a professor they don’t know. Shake hands with a dean they have never met. And celebrate the accomplishments of four years worth of late night study sessions, Saturday morning tail gates, random trips to Yogurtland, and who knows what else. They’ll laugh and reminisce and wonder how time flew by so quickly.

Congratulations Class of 2011. Thanks for letting me share that APA History time line with you many many moons ago. You’re a savvy bunch and will do amazing things.

May 11, 2011

keeping time

Filed under: memoir,vignettes — uccloud9 @ 3:28 pm

Once I kept time through what was on television. The Andy Griffith show was on at 8am.  I Love Lucy started 9am.  Sesame Street at 10am.

My grandmother took over the tv at 11, when it the channel was left on ABC and she got her fill of the news and soaps. Loving at 11am. Local news at 11:30am. All My Children at 12pm. One Life to Live at 1pm. General Hospital at 2pm. Oprah at 3pm. Afternoon news at 4pm.

If I was lucky I could switch to afternoon cartoons at 2pm.  But my Lola would hound me for the remote and yell at me “Why do you wanna watch those cartoons?!” I’d pout at her and she’d tell me her stories were more important.

“Her Stories” were those soap operas.  The woman would be snoring on the couch, but the moment I changed the channel to find something else she’d wake up and yell at me to change the channel back.

My cries of “You were sleeping Lola!” were combated with “I was listening!” I don’t think she was really listening, but when my aunt would ask her what happened on whatever show, she could recount the entire storyline.  The woman must have had super hearing.  My entire family seemed to know these stories.  When my mother was on maternity leave she got caught up in the Luke and Laura wedding hullabaloo.  When she would pick me up from my grandmother’s house she would get updates on Luke and Laura and the entire General Hospital cast from my lola.

Loving turned into The City and was canceled many years ago.  All My Children will fade away in September and One Life to Live will follow soon after.  Apparently General Hospital still has some life in it.  I haven’t seen these shows in years but it saddens me to see these shows go.  I’ve stopped keeping time by them, but it feels like I’m losing my Lola all over again.

I miss her. A lot. Sometimes when I look in the mirror I feel like she’s staring back at me.  When I put my hands on my hips and huff at something I feel her laughing behind me. Laughing at her granddaughter copying her every move.

I miss her, but I know she’s still here.  And that makes me smile.

May 10, 2011

saturday morning breakfast

Filed under: flash fiction,vignettes — uccloud9 @ 2:30 pm

They were up early on a Saturday.  Typically she was the only one up and she would have the living room tv to herself.  But this Saturday, everyone was up early, which made her grumpy.  The tv would not be hers for the first few hours of the day. Instead the boring news projected into the living room. The smells of breakfast attempted to appease her. Eagle eyes spotted the remote and just as she was about to change it to a Saturday morning cartoon a shrill voice caught her.

“Psst! Hoy! Don’t change the channel ha! We’re watching the news.” Her mother yelled from the kitchen.  The woman hadn’t even seen her grab the remote and she knew to nag her.

“But Mama, it’s SATURDAY!” She said with a pout.

An unfamiliar hand found her cheek and gave it a pinch. “What do you want to watch?” She found the hand and without thought brought the back of the fingers to her forehead.  Her parents prepared her for her Lola Taling’s visit, but she still felt like her world was being interrupted by her grandaunt’s presence.

“It’s Saturday. I usually watch my cartoons on Saturday…” The little girl found herself pleading with the older woman.  Lola Taling smiled at the girl.  “Let’s see if we can find your cartoons.”

“Really?” Her face lit up.

“Tama na dai. You can watch your cartoons later.  Basiyo the table and let’s have breakfast.”  Her mother thwarted her chances of catching up with Cap’n OG Readmore. She went to the kitchen and grabbed plates, forks, and spoons for the table. Each place mat on the dining table got a setting.  Food soon filled with breakfast favorites; over easy eggs, longinisa, sliced tomoatoes, sardines, and garlic fried rice.

“The garden opens up at 11. So we’ll leave the house around 9:30.  After breakfast you better go up and ligo okay?”  Her father recited the days schedule.  The girl’s eyes grew to the size of the saucers holding coffee cups at the dining table. “You didn’t forget did you? We’re going to show Lola Taling the garden. You know the one with all the pretty roses.” They had gone on a family trip last spring.  She recalled the garden was very pretty, but she didn’t have fun because at the end of the day the dry heat caused her to have a nose bleed.

“What are you doing to your food dai?” Lola Taling asked the little girl.  She had cut her eggs into strips and chopped up her longinisa into several pieces.  The girl had drizzled ketchup on top of all her food.

“I have to halo halo it Lola.”  She proceeded to take her fork and spoon and mix up the eggs, longinisa, rice, and ketchup into a mish mash of food.  The broken yolk of the egg and the red ketchup caused her plate to become a giant breakfast mess of delicious art.  Satisfied with her work she placed a spoonful in her mouth and smiled.  A happy dance followed.

“Who taught you that?” Lola Taling laughed as she asked her the question.

“Mama showed me!” The girl answered between bites. Her mother’s eyes flashed a sign of acknowledgment.  Lola Taling had taught her how to do the same thing when she was a child, only instead of ketchup it was soy sauce.

Eventually cartoons came on the television and the girl got to watch 20 minutes of her favorite show before being rushed into the shower and some clean clothes.  Lola Taling helped her niece clear the table. “She looks just like you, you know.” She soaped while her niece rinsed and dried the dishes. “That’s what everyone says. Too bad she talks back just like me too.” Lola Taling giggled in reply, “Maldita si mama, maldita si bata. That’s what you get!”

“Oonga. And I have to deal with them both!” Her husband came into the kitchen dressed.  “I’ll take over. You can get ready.” He kisses her forehead and she elbows him.  “Do you see this Tia? I’m trying to help!” The kitchen fills with laughter and the two women leave him to finish up the dishes.

“Don’t take too long beautifying okay!” He knew the request would go ignored, but his wife wouldn’t take too long since it was her idea to head out to the garden. The girl found the remote and began flicking through the channels.  The bored look glazed over.  “What’s wrong with you?”  he asked.  “All the good cartoons are over Papa. The good cartoons are over.”

He looked down on his daughter and laughed.  “Let’s go pack up the car while your mom and Lola get ready.”

She shrugged her shoulders and followed him out.  Might as well. The Saturday morning was lost anyhow.

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