Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nobody Prays For Satan

From third to fourth grade, I hated this kid and he hated me. His name was Angel. We were literally enemies. We were like Batman and the Joker, except I'm not quite sure who was who. On Valentine's Day, the class would usually give out Valentine cards to everyone. When I received Angel's card, he wrote, "sucks" right under my name and drew a box around it. He went over that box many times. You could tell. I took the card I was going to give him and ripped it. One of my friends came up to me and said, "I heard Angel didn't give you a card." "No." "Here, you can have his," he smiled.

He made fun of my hair because I used to comb it upwards and it looked like an afro. One day I got chosen by the teacher to sit in a table with him and coincidentally, his two best friends. They were girls. One I had a crush on. She was beautiful. I sat quietly in that table the whole time. Except. I forgot what they were talking about, but Angel said, "my dad doesn't really talk to me." And to add lighter fluid to the embers, I broke my silence, "That's good for you." Why did I say that? I don't know. We were both jerks. Neither of us was Batman. We were both Jokers. Trying to top the other. There could only be one Joker. At night, I wished something bad would happen to him. I wished an alien spaceship would come and swoop him away to a far away planet. Preferably Venus. Where it's immensely hot and the thick clouds keep it hot. Just drop him off there please, little green men.

2082479 batman vs the joker joker kills batman batman vs joker funny batman vs joker dark knight batman vs joker comics batman and joker

Then one day, in library class, the teacher sat us together in one table. We had to share some broken crayons that were inside a green strawberry basket. I love the smell of crayons. In my mind, I screamed. It was going to be the worst year of my life I thought. But something happened. We became best friends. I didn't want anything bad to happen to him. No, please don't take him away to Venus. All the hate was gone. We walked home after school one day and he said, "I wonder why we used to fight all the time." And we laughed. But like most of my closest friends usually do, he moved away to another city. I haven't seen him since.

From what I've read in the Bible, Lucifer was an angel created by God. He was one of the top ranking angels you could say. However, his head inflated like a water balloon. Like when you play hot potato with a water balloon and are afraid it will pop on you. And it did. God was all wet. He wanted to take God's place. Maybe even be above him. So God kicked him out of Heaven and replaced the locks. So now, with nowhere to go, he hangs around this world trying to make the people worship him and oppose God. However, his fate is sealed. He will be cast in the lake of fire forever. If we know this, he must know this too. Imagine the agony he must be suffering. He knows he will never go to heaven.

(Surface of Venus, taken by the Russians in early 70s.)

And yet, nobody prays for him. He, perhaps, needs it the most. He made a mistake. He's the Joker. Just like many of us are or once were. Just like many of us who wanted a second chance. Maybe he's angry because nobody really likes him. Nobody sat with him and made friends with him. Maybe he's heartbroken. Many of us fail. But we are cheered up by a close friend. "Learn from your failures. You'll succeed eventually." But no matter what he does, he will be cast in the lake of fire. A failure no matter what he does. No second chance. His fate, sealed.

Trillions of prayers must be sent everyday. We pray for a new car. More money. Health for yourself. Health for your friends and family. "You'll be in our prayers," people say when you're in trouble. You're going overseas to war. You're not sure if you'll even be back. "You'll be in our prayers." You don't know if your fate is sealed. And it somehow makes you feel good. It makes you feel brave. You feel loved. Safe. But nobody prayed for Satan. The one person who probably feels the worst in the universe.

He had it all, and then went to nothing. That's how you know he's suffering. A person who's had nothing his whole life is not fazed. It takes going from a high to a low. Many people lose their business. Others lose their son or daughter. That happiness is ripped away from them. And we want comfort. We want a prayer.

Now Imagine being Satan. You got kicked out of Heaven. And your whole story is on some book. And in this book, it also says that you will go to Hell for all eternity. You feel depressed. Everybody hates you. God hates you. You're the laughingstock of Heaven. Imagine having your parents hate you. But 100 times worse. You don't know where to turn. You lose hope. There's that pain in your chest. In your throat. The feeling of uncertainty. "Could that book be true about my future?" you wonder. You look at your reflection in the ocean and you're hideous now. Your beautiful white wings are gone. You no longer shine. You're red. The lowest on the visible color spectrum. You have scales. And the horns on your head make your head heavy so now you have to stand with a hunch. You ask for help, but everyone fears you. They all know your story. You cut yourself. You begin to plot. The bitter hatred you feel towards everyone now. Misery loves company. So you begin to cause mischief. Chaos. You make people kill each other. And you laugh.

But at the end of that laughter, your eyes grow wide open in disbelief. You're doing exactly what the Bible says you would do. "It's true," you say. You want to cry. But you're too depressed. You seek friends, but they all double cross you. You found some, but they're just your friends because they fear you. You curse God. You hate yourself. So now, like a suicidal person, you want to kill yourself. You want the suffering to stop. But you can't die. You're Satan. So you wait until the Book of Revelations reveals itself to the world. Just to get it over with. Just to let the suffering stop.

But maybe, just maybe, the meaning to life is to forgive Satan. What nobody thought of doing. To pray that his suffering stops. To make him an angel again. Then maybe God will listen. He'll be happy you prayed for him. He'll go to Satan and sit with him on some table made of molten rock. The Devil has tears going down his red face. God pats him on the back. They both smile. And they walk to Heaven together.

"I wonder why we used to fight."

"But who prays for Satan? Who in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most."

- Mark Twain


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Friday, May 25, 2012

Candy I Ate in the 90s

There's a small store right on the corner of my block. It's been there for years and it's the place I bought candy as a kid. I asked my mom for fifty cents or a dollar and I walked a few feet to the store. The store closed at eight. There was a smaller store about a block away and it closed until nine, so that was always my back up store. One friday, when I was ten, my cousin came over and it was about 8:15. We wanted to buy candy so I asked my mom for money. "Just take some from my purse," she said. I grabbed her purse from the counter and started looking for a dollar. She didn't have change, so I took a five. My cousin and I went to the smaller store since it was past eight. I hate going there because gang members always hang out around there. But I was going with my cousin, so I wont be going alone I thought. It was pitch black. We had to cross an alley to get there. As always, gang bangers were there. There was about five of them, laughing abnoxiously in baggy clothing. We walked right through them. They usually don't say anything.

(Corner store in Chicago in 1909)

We went in the store. It looks just like a small 7/11. The little bell rang as we opened the door. Chingaling!  We started browsing for candy. All the colors. All the different buckets and boxes on the shelves. There's so much candy, how can we only pick a couple.

Chingaling! I looked up and saw a kid come in. I knew him from somewhere. I had volunteered to help out his class during spring break for community service hours. I got picked to help out the special needs class. I tought them how to spell their name, and count. He wasn't like the rest of them though. He was pretty smart. He was just crazy in the head. He approached me. Behind a shelf. Where no one could see us. Took out a knife and touched the tip of it to my stomach. "Wooaah," I said. I thought he was playing. "I'm gonna kill you." I had on that smile you have when you're panicking and don't know what to do. He put the knife away and laughed. He patted my shoulder and walked over to the cashier. They seemed to know eachother, they talked for a bit. Then the kid left. I took a deep breath and felt relieved. My cousin came from the back. I put a Hershey's bar on the counter and gave the man my five dollars.

"Where'd you get this kind of money?" he said. "What?" "Where'd you get this kind of money?" I didn't know what he was talking about. "It was a five wasn't it?" I said. "Fifty."  I had no idea. I must've gotten a fifty dollar bill by mistake. I explained it to the man. He gave me my change. "Be careful with that money when you go outside," he said. I nodded and we walked away. I was surprised that he actually admitted it was a fifty. He could agreed that it was a five and kept the rest.  There are good hearted people in the world. But man. The things we go through for candy as kids.

Candy, for me tasted better in the 90s. I just picture bright colors and creativity with the candy. Theres 10 in particular that I'll never forget walking to the corner store to get:

a.)          Power Rangers Lollipop. I tried to look for it on the internet, but I couldn't find a picture of it. I guess they weren't well known. But it was a round lollipop. Half of it was pink and half was white. The pink part was see through and you could see the Power Rangers logo through it. The thing I remember the most though, is that it came with a Power Rangers sticker. I would give every single sticker to my uncle and he stuck them on his door. He used to rent a room in our house. You could still see the residues the stickers left after all these years. Eroded away by the air if time.

b.)          Ring Pops. I remember I watched the commercials for these for the first time when I was a kid and immediatly wanted one. They looked so beautiful. After a while though, I started to hate them because they left my fingers sticky from licking them while I wore them on my fingers. Now that I think about it, it was a stupid candy.

c.)          Push Pops. They tasted just like the Ring Pops. Again, I always hated when the saliva ran through the bottom and on to your finger. I hate being sticky. Where do I wipe my fingers?
(I bet her fingers are sticky!)

 d.)          Neon Beach Bubble Gum. I wore this thing around my neck and thought it looked cool. It would always run out of gum so fast because you just kept putting more and more in your mouth. It was addictive. I never wanted to share!

e.)          Ice Cream Faces. Ice cream trucks had pictures on the side of characters from cartoons as ice cream pops. I remember The Ninja Turtles, Sonic, and Bugs Bunny. The thing I hated was that it would melt all over my fingers and mouth. My childhood was spent being sticky. The faces were always awkward and the bubble gum eyes were never in the right place!

(So disapointing)

f.)          Pixie Stix. There's two version of these. The ones you see below, and the Mexican kind. The ones that were made of plastic and were incredibly tough to open (at least for me). I always hated when saliva fell into the tube. Nothing would come out as the pixie dust would get wet and clog it. Scissors!

("Don't get saliva on them!")

g.)          3D Doritos. These were my favorite chips! I haven't seen them anymore since then. I always bit the end of the dorito and laughed at how it looked like underwear. What? I was a kid.

(When large chips were 99 cents!)

h.)          Squeezit. The top of these plastic bottles was hard to take off. I remember filling a cooler with them once and taking them to the park. Ahh. Nostalgia. Are they still around?

i.)          Candy Sticks. I pretended I was smoking with these. They were chalky and I probably only bought them because Popeye was on the cover of the box. These tastes terrible. But after a while, they were addicting. Just like the real thing, eh?

(Originally called, "Candy Cigarrettes")

j.)          Candy Necklace. I don't even remember where I bought these. I think I was always just given one. Like at birthday parties and things like that. But, I didn't like them very much. Now that I think about it, most of the candy when I was a kid was terrible, but I still ate them. We all did. There was just something irrestistable about them I think they also came in wrist bands. The sadness that came to your eyes as you had less and less candy on that elastic string.   

(Oh sure, NOW it's cool to wear them in public)

Candy is much more precious as a kid. You don't discriminate. You eat every type of candy, even if it leaves your fingers sticky. I wonder, what are the kids of today eating. As a kid, all the candy commercials stood out to me. I can't remember the last time I saw a candy commercial unless it was for chocolate. "Baby Bottle Pop! Baby Bottle Pop! You can lick it...."or something like that. But it stuck those things in my head like a catchy song.

Now, just looking at those type of candy makes me feel sick to my stomach. I hate hard candy now. It's too sweet. But wow, time flies by. All that sugar. All that running. All that falling. The scars. I miss the 90s. Such simple times. Every thing back then was filled with color and zigzag lines. My lines have been straight lately. Sometimes curvy. I miss the excitement. The sharp, unexpected turns. I wish I could give the 90s one last kiss. And hold on until she pulls away. She needs to move on. She says I'm too old for her now. And the new millenium begins to caress my face, like a cruel mistress. Like every passing decade does.

What candy did you like as a kid?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"I want to die"

She wanted to die. I had no idea. People hide their problems. Whenever you ask someone how they're doing, they always say they're fine. Never in my life have I told someone I was in pain, even though at times I was. How many people have I walked by on the street and didn't even realize they were in pain. I was talking to a friend one night. She interrupted our conversation and says, "On a different note, can I tell you something?" I said yes. She tells me about a woman she saw on the news. She was stabbed to death by her husband and left in the tub with her wedding dress still on. What a gruesome image. The confusion that must've gone through the newlywed's head. A red wedding dress. And just like that, I felt how quickly death could come. But that wasn't what she wanted to tell me. She was trying to work up to the real thing.

She told me about her dark past. She painted yet another disturbing imagine in my mind. She was like a master painter from Italy, who had honed her skills by using her emotions and her past. She had been molested as a child. By a brother and a sister who were 13 and 15 (not hers). She didn't remember the details. "The memories are choppy. I don't remember getting somewhere or leaving. Just like little clips. Sweaty palms. Dry kisses. Sounds. Skin." To make it worse, one of her friends that she trusted this information with told the whole class in elementary school. She was ridiculed. She was an outcast. They called her a lesbian. She jumped from best friend to best friend.

But like many things, it's the smallest things that hurt the most sometimes. The kids tried to get her best friend to give her a dirty candy. Probably picked up from the floor or something.

To try to cope and find a better place, she tried cutting herself. She tried to starve herself. She was the painting of a child who wanted the suffering to stop. Each stroke of the brush adding detail and emotion with a steady hand. She hoped her medium were watercolors. So that they could at least eventually water away. But they're permanent. A Sharpie marker. "Did you feel like you wanted to die?" I said. "I did," she said.

Another friend of mine in high school wanted to die. I met him my freshman year, but we weren't really friends. An occasional hello. All my friends made fun of him. Some behind his back. And some didn't care from what side. I smiled at these jokes, but I showed no teeth. I didn't want to laugh. But being a teenager is tough. You want to belong. He was black and he acted feminine. Everyone speculated that he was gay. "That fucking faggot," my friends would say. But I never defended him. I should have. Years later, I spoke to him. He said he had wanted to die. He had finally announced to the world that he was gay. He didn't want to face his family. His supposed friends. He told me, "I felt dirty. People made me feel like I had AIDS or something because I was gay." I'm sure it was even harder because he was black.

Another man, in some distant country had committed suicide. He hung himself. A friend of mine told me all about it about two years ago. Some relative of hers in Lithuania had just committed suicide. She was down that day. I had never heard a story about suicide so close to me. It's one thing to read a story on the newspaper or see it on the news. It feels made up, almost. The whole time I kept thinking of what had driven this man to do this. What problems he must've had. How many people he passed through the street on his way to work or to the store. His coworkers probably had no clue. The cashier smiled at him like they do every person. And he would walk home and hang himself. His pain unbearable. How many people have we seen in the street that are dead now. That we had no idea were sick or battling depression. Who knows. And one day, someonone would open the door to his room, and find him there. His feet wont touch the ground. And all of the pain he wanted to get rid of is still there I'm sure. And it's keeping him from ever touching the ground.

And after hearing all these stories, what could I say? When someone wants to die, there's nothing you can say that moment to instantly cheer them up. No one sentence eclipses pain. The pain is the sun. It's much too big for the moon. But sometimes, when the timing is just right, the moon eclipses it

Wanting to die is like running away. I've wanted to run away many times in my life. Sometimes, I just hate the people. I hate what I've done in the past. I hate that I feel like I have no future. I've secretly wanted to run away to the woods or something. Or just drive one hundred miles in any direction and start over. But then, I feel like I'd miss some people. This is how I imagine dying would be like.

Dying is when your heart stops. No more thoughts rush through your mind. I've tried to picture dying and I always become frightened at the very end. I picture myself lying there and having my heart stop. Before it does though, my heart maybe beats extra fast. I can hear the beats in my ear like a drum. My chest frantically moving up and down. But what scares me the most is when everything starts to go black, even when my eyes are wide open. I imagine it like going to sleep, except there will be no dreams, and I will never wake up again in the morning.

I heard the shot of a gun outside my house one night. On the intersection of Spaulding and 28th. The whole block immediately looked out their windows. There was a man on the ground. Maybe in his mid twenties. When the police came, everyone was outside on their doorstep, watching like the finale of their favorite television show. It's always a sad episode. It's when everyone says goodbye. I was in my socks and was standing on concrete by my black, metal fence. I could see the faces of people, shining blue from the police lights. The ambulance took the man inside. And just then, I see the mother and the father slowly walking home, crying. "Why does this happen," the mother said. They walked right by me, I could touch them. The mother's tears, twinkling like the brightest star that night. The man's  younger brother was crying as well. He was in shock. When everyone went back inside, I'm sure every home was silent. I know mine was.

Many people lose a loved one and feel like they can't go on living anymore. Especially if it's a son or daughter. You feel like you failed as a parent. You let your child die. And the pain is excruciating. I know life will never be the same. My brother's best friend died from a gunshot to the head while he was DJing at a party in a backyard. When I went to that funeral, his mother wept uncontrollably. Her chest was having spasms as her lungs couldn't keep up with her crying. This family's life changed forever in an instant.

If you found this post, you're probably dealing with something similar. And you've been searching for something to make you feel better, or maybe for someone to understand what you're going through. My child, I wish I could pass you by on the street and talk to you. I wish I could be your friend and tell you it's all going to be okay. Tell you that there's no need to take your life away. That there's some people out there who care.

"How did you get over it?" I said to the first friend above. "I got over it when I started being accepted again. When people stopped hating me." But I know she's not fully over it. The memories still linger like a washed up piece of a house on some deserted island after a tsunami in an unsuspecting country. She saw shrinks (still sees them) and has trouble trusting people.

I asked the other friend how he got over wanting to die, and he said, "By support from family and friends. Just little by little and day by day." But he was lucky. Many don't even have that. Some hang themselves to escape the pain. To escape the loneliness.

I know the past hasn't been too kind to you. And I know the future probably seems bleak as well. You tried to kiss it, but it pushed you away. But listen to me. Take a deep breath. Right now. I know they probably feel fake. Forced. But do it anyway. Blow out as long as you can. It's what counts. I'll wait.

In every instance, I've noticed that it's other people that will make you feel better. Friends who will understand your pain. You don't have any good friends?

Okay, here's what you need to do:

a.)          Go for a walk or jog everyday. You've felt depressed this whole time. You probably haven't moved much. Being outside is good. If you don't want people you know to see you, then walk somewhere you're not familiar with. It helps you to see different things.

(If they can do it...Oh hell no)

b.)          Read spiritual texts. It doesn't matter if you're religious or not. It's not about religion. They help you be grateful. They help you to forgive yourself and others. Something you probably haven't done. There isn't just the bible, there's many others. Search for them.

c.)          Take a shower. I always feel better after I take a shower. I feel clean. I feel like going outside. It's tough to take a shower when you're down. You can't summon up the strength to get in there. But it's worth it, trust me on this one. After you take a shower, go to the city and just sit in one place. Stare at the people. Realize that every single one of them has problems. Some are just like you. Don't be fooled by the mask they wear or the pretty sweater they have on masking that ugly shirt.

d.)          Help someone. All your life you've wanted help. You've seen what not helping can do. Help someone who needs it. Expect nothing back. Make a list of people you can help. Volunteer maybe. You'll meet new people. Most people you've met up 'til now has sucked. Time to meet new ones. There's good people out there.

(Even if it's just helping someone get up)

e.)          Picture yourself die in detail. Sounds weird, but most people that want to die don't really think about it much. Really think about it. Think about your heart stop beating. Think about how you will NEVER have a thought again. Most people don't really want to die. They just want what's aching them to die.

f.)          Write down why you want to die. Write it down. Be as detailed as you want. Then, give it to a stranger on the street, and walk away. Have what's aching you be out there in the world. Don't keep it inside. It's like a parasite. It needs you to survive. But you don't need it to survive. So get rid of it. It's good medicine. It's hard to get rid of an idea. So make it tangible. Make it a "thing." Then get rid of it.

g.)          Make a sign that says, "free hugs" and stand by a busy street. People will hug you, trust me. I've seen it done many times. I don't care how old you are. You might meet some nice people and maybe make somebody's day as well. Don't be embarrassed to do this. Why would you? If you are, I will you hit you with a stick, I promise. Now is NOT the time to start caring what others will think. And at the very least, it's a nice story to tell.

(Isn't this sweet?)

h.)          Surrender. Surrender to the universe. There's that pain in your chest right now. I've been there. It causes you to bullshit everything. You lose interest in everything. You feel like you can't be creative until this pain stops. But sometimes, you can't control everything. Just let things fall into place. Accept that you're hurt and that it's just some feeling that your body perceives. It's not really real. Surrender to the universe. It's bigger than you. Just let things take it's course. Eventually, the pain goes away.

When you want to die, you never truly recover. It's such a strong feeling and it will be a strong memory. I hate when people say that killing yourself is selfish and that it will hurt the people who love you. It's selfish of them to say that. You are hurting right now and you want the pain to stop. You come first. But they are right about one thing. Killing yourself is not the right choice. My baby, you are a child. No matter how old you are. You just want someone to hold you tight. To cover you in a warm blanket and rock you to sleep. To replay that music that played the beautiful notes when you were a child. Before the bad came and crushed the piano. I know you know what's right. I know you know what you have to do. You have to fix that piano. Maybe the keys are stuck. Maybe some are missing. So fix it. Replace them. Little by little. Then relearn how to play the piano. Your fingers will have callouses of knowledge. Of experience. But the notes will appear again. And people will surround you because you're even more beautiful than before.

You passed me on the street. This is that street. "Hi." "Hello."


If you have any other tips or suggestions, please comment on the bottom. Any advice is appreciated.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

When My Dogs Died and Do Animals Go to Heaven

My seven year old neighbor used to meet my dog on the other side of the fence every morning. "Lady!" I heard him scream. At the time, it would annoy me because he would wake me up. But I now find it sweet and wish I could've spent more time with my dog. I was ten years old then. A couple years later my dog would run away. Never seen again. We had just finished cutting a tree in our back yard and we stacked the lumber against our six and a half foot fence. I assume my dog used it to jump over the fence. She ran away in the middle of the night. A wolf guided by moonlight.

I think about this a lot. Why did she run away? She must've not been happy. She never returned. I wonder if she was killed. Hit by a truck and turned into roadkill which got ran over and over until it looked like a rug. I hope she found a new home though and died peacefully. I remember I waited for her to return. I was like a mother whose child had been kidnapped. She waits by the window for days, hoping she would come back. But soon I would give up.

Before her, I had another dog. She looked identical to Lady. Black with a brown face and small spots of white. She was a mix of many things. Her name was Star. It was pouring one day and she didn't seem to mind. The awful smell of wet dog reached my nose. I didn't care either. I took her under the stairs in the back yard and sat down with her. We had an old blue couch down there that we were meaning to throw away. She laid  her paws and head on my lap and we both just looked at the rain. I was about eight years old. I sang to her. I felt like she listened. She felt human.

(Saddest thing I've ever seen! I wonder is it's just a dog actor. You can never tell these days)

One morning she laid dead. I got up and dressed for school. She laid frozen on the ground in my backyard. I find it eerie how an animal gets stiff when it dies. Death pins them heavily against the ground. My eight year old self couldn't comprehend what had happened. I looked at her for a few seconds. A fly was on her eye. I kept shooing it away, but it kept coming back. I wanted to cry. She had been sick the day before and was throwing up all over. We gave her milk and she regurgitated it like if it wasn't meant meant to be in her body. Like putting something other than gasoline inside a car's gas tank. Ugh, I hate writing this. I feel like I could've saved her somehow. Taken her to the vet. But we didn't. My dad put her in a black garbage bag and took her away in his car. He was going to throw her away. Just like that. She had been with us for years, and now she was garbage. I couldn't stop thinking about it at school. I was a ghost the entire day. A ghost floating over the hallways, howling for a loved one. My backyard seemed empty. Unnaturally empty. It felt like an abandoned house. The creeks of the past still rumble through floors, walls, and ceilings. But it's the silence that haunts you.

I felt like an animal abuser. They were outside dogs. And I managed to let two die. Maybe if I would have kept them inside. Kept them warm. Throughout that time, I didn't even know dogs slept. I figured they probably closed their eyes, but never fell into a deep sleep. I would wake up around one in the morning and open the door to my backyard to check up on them. Every single time, they were awake. Every single time they were already looking at me with those luminescent eyes. "Maybe if I'm quiet, I'll catch her sleeping," I would say to myself. But no. Never.

Now, years later, I have a new dog. It's a puggle. He's going to be three years old on May 20th. His name is Chente. My brother wanted to give him a funny name. After the famous Mexican singer and actor, Vicente Fernandez. We keep Chente inside. One day, he ran away when we left the front door opened. He came back! He scratched the door and howled an hour later. Since then, we let him out every day. He walks himself you could say. He always comes back when he's done and the whole neighborhood knows him. One night I was sitting on a chair in my front porch when my neighbor tells me if she could use my cell phone. She had been knocking on her house for five minutes with no answer. They had just recently moved in. I gave her my phone and waited. It was pitch black. One of the street lights wasn't working. "Can you open the door? I've been outside for like half an hour!" Then whoever she was talking to must've said, "whose phone are you using?" because she responded, "The neighbors'. You know, the ones with that dog that's always running around."

There's something funny about watching him walk around. He looks so tiny when juxtaposed with the city. Sometimes, I wish I could take him to see everything in the world. His life is so short. And yet he has no clue that there's countless countries separated by borders and oceans. No clue that in some places, it snows every day. No clue where cars go at night. Now I know why my old dog ran away. She must've felt trapped. It amazes me how human they act. How alive they are. And yet, we treat them as if they're not.

"Souls don't exist," a friend of mine told me as we walked in the park. "Why do you say that?" "Because if they did, then animals would have souls. And that would mean that every single cow we've slaughtered has gone to heaven. That's millions."

(Chente and I a couple years ago.)
I didn't say anything back. I can never think of a good thing to say at the moment. And it's not like I'm completely sure that we have souls, but I know that nobody knows. How could we? Our brains are too small to comprehend such a thing. For example, a friend of mine once said, "If there was a God, then little kids wouldn't die for no reason. God would never let that happen." WHAT!? How do you know? He's God, he can do whatever the heck he wants. Then some say, "well then, I don't want to follow a God that thinks like that." Suit yourself. How arrogant some people. But it's just that they don't understand. No one really understands.

Almost went off track there. This way, please. Don't get lost.

I like to believe that animals have souls. That if there is a heaven, they will be there too. Why do we assume that heaven will then be overpopulated? Heaven could have limitless stretches of grass and mountains and oceans for all we know. Animals feel pain. They get happy when you arrive at your  house. They thought you would never return. But you did, and that filled them with joy. Their tail like a slave, trying to free itself from this growth called a dog. They feel sadness. Chente weeps whenever we don't let him go outside. I swear, he's a human trapped inside a dog's body. He's, perhaps, my best friend. No one will ever love you so unconditionally.

I hope that when I die, I will meet with all of my dogs. They will be able to speak. I will learn what happened to Lady. We will share stories. And we will understand them all. Without any barks or weeps. And without any words. "I do sleep. It was you who was asleep." And I will know what she meant.


Do you believe animals go to heaven?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What's Your Shoe Size?

My feet stopped growing years ago. Stopped at size nine and a half U.S. (you look at the tag and it's a different number in different countries.) This is one thing I miss from childhood. Your feet are still growing. When I was a kid, I would buy new shoes once a year, or sooner if they were in bad shape. The smell of plastic seeping through the hundreds of boxes on the shelves. And that amazing shoe they had on display was never available in your size.

I'm sure you all rememeber shoe shopping as a kid. But just in case you don't, let's go on our time machine. What's that? It hasn't been invented yet? Don't be silly. Just close your eyes for 5 seconds. And I'll do the rest.

One. Two. Three. Four...Five.

You're eleven years old. Your shoes are dirty and one lace is longer than the other so you've been stepping on it all day long. It's dirty from that end. You walk into the dining room and your mom looks at your shoes. "Look how you treat your shoes," she says. "We'll buy some new ones on Saturday." You nod and walk away (oh, by the way, the time machine also lets me know what you're thinking and how you feel.) Two days pass quickly and it's Saturday morning. Your mom drives you to Foot Locker. On the drive there, you don't want to let go of your old shoes. They're dirty and worn, but they've become a part of you now, much like when you enter a new school grade and you meet your new teacher. It's a man. He looks mean. Perhaps he has red hair. And thick brown framed glasses that barely cover his brows. You think you're going to hate him. You wish Ms. O'neal was here. But you grow to like him.

(Maniac Magee never stopped running.)

Your mom is not too eager. She knows how picky you are. You're going to spend an eternity picking the right shoe. It's the same every year. "This one's nice," she says, but no. You want to pick it yourself. You wish she would wait outside. All the pressure. Like when someone breathes over your shoulder when you're trying to draw something. Or write something. You can't see, focus unless you're by yourself. But in every case, they never leave you alone. But one thing does excite you. You're going to find out how much your foot has grown. What your new size is. Last year you were a 6. And your shoe is so worn it's probably not even a size 6 shoe anymore. You're foot is a monster.

You finally find a shoe that you like. Its dark blue with white designs. It has no shoe laces. You hate shoe laces. They delay you of going outside to play. And they're always coming loose. Having to stop every fifteen minutes to tie them again. Have you ever wanted to tie your shoe laces while walking with a friend? They never stop and wait. You have to catch up to them once you're done. You tell the guy who works there the shoe that you like. "What size?" he says. But you dont know what to tell him. So he brings out this metal contraption that measures your foot. All the different numbers and lines and pieces confuses you. Even to this day, you're not sure how it works. But you're a 7 now. You went up a whole size. You smile, can't wait to tell everyone. There's some sort of pride with having large feet. More so when you're a kid. "What size are you?" "I'm a ten." "What? No Way! Hey Alex, this guy's a ten!" You put the shoes on, but they don't quite fit well enough. Your mom tells you to stand up and walk around. You do and your heel keeps coming out a tiny bit when you walk. "You just need to get used to them," she says. So you buy them. You put your old shoes in the box and can't help but feel a little sad. Your journey with them is over. You can't even remember what shoes you wore before them. You're astounded by this. Like how you never seem to remember what you ate for dinner two days ago. You'll be carfeul with them for a few days. You wont want to get a single bit of dust on them. You defend them like the king chess piece from kids who want to "shoe shine" you. But eventually, you say the hell with it. And you'll be back in the store a year later.

(How do you use these things!?)

But it doesn't matter right now. Your feet grew. You still feel proud at the back of the car looking out the window. You like looking out the window. You can't wait to tell people. Can't wait to tell the friend who punched you. You wonder what size your feet will stop at. You hope you'll be a ten. Or an eleven.

A year later, it's the same thing again. Except, maybe you like shoes with laces now. They make you look older. But you have a connection with your old, worn, lace-less shoes now. You've forgotten about your old-old shoes completely. The ones you used to hold dear. You never knew shoes could have so much emotion attached to them. But those soon, will be forgotten by a bigger foot.

Okay, stop crying. I know, I know, you want to stay longer, but we must return to the present. We mustn't dwell on the past. Close your eyes and count backwards from five.

Five. Four. Three. Two...One.

(Back to the Future. Loved that movie)

Now look at your shoes. How much you've changed. They used to have lights in them. No Shoe laces. Maybe even wheels. Now they're just normal. No special features to them. Maybe they match your shirt. Everyone loves to match. But, they don't feel special anymore. Hardly any emotion attached to them right? That's because your feet stopped growing. My feet stopped growing. Every shoe from now on will be the same size. Almost repetitive. Like reaching a dull plateau after the hard climb of the mountain. You have no more "up" to go. It's boring at the top of the mountain. No more pride.

(Oh, the things these shoes have seen. This man loved his shoes.)

I hardly go shoe shopping anymore. I've never used that metal contraption since I was a kid. I know now that for the rest of my life, I will be a nine and a half, more or less. I don't even have to go to a shoe store anymore. I used to go because I didn't know my shoe size, but now that I know it for sure, I can just tell someone to pick them up for me. I might tell my brother. He has good taste I think. "Oh you're going to the mall? Pick me up some shoes." "Yes, nine and a half." I hate shoe shopping. I can never decide which one. I wish I could have before me every single pair of shoes I ever wore. Even if I only wore them for a night. Watch them evolve before eachother. Let them speak to eachother. Tell eachother of their journeys. Each pair having walked or ran for miles. Having been there for every occasion, every terrain that I needed them for. For every hopscotch. Every eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Every dance. Every jog.

I wish I could see my very first pair of shoes. The ones I didn't get to choose. I was probably a baby. The first to shield my feet from the rough earth.  And I wonder what my last pair will be. The last to keep me from the ground. Maybe these will be my favorite and most emotion filled, right down to the heel, of them all.


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Monday, May 14, 2012

When I Forgot to Wear Deodorant

I was getting ready for school, and somehow, I forgot to wear deodorant. My brother was giving me a ride to school and on a red light, I remembered. "Oh shit," I thought. I knew that for the rest of the day, I was going to be battling not letting anyone smell me.

The weird part is, when I hadn't noticed, I felt fine. But as soon as I noticed that I forgot, my armpits felt hot and sweaty. I wonder what would have happened if I would have never remembered all together. I'm a hairy person, so I can't afford NOT to wear deodorant. Time for another crappy day at school. I had a white sweater on, so I was making the decision if I should leave it on. On one hand, it's gonna make me sweat more, but on the other hand, it'll probably shield all the bad odor from escaping. I decided to leave it on.

It's amazing how much shit goes through your head. You're a genius in your head. But all the world sees is a body. They have absolutely no clue of how much goes on in your head.

It was a terrible idea, I felt the heat coming from underneath my arms. So uncomfortable! I tried to avoid everyone as much as possible. No long conversations. No raising my hand for obvious reasons. No flirting with girls. Too risky. I'm ashamed to say this, but this wasn't the first time I forgot to wear deodorant. Sometimes I just forget! And I remember when there's no turning back.

By the middle of the school day, I could already smell myself. It was horrible. "Why are you so quiet today?" a girl in my class asked me. "Oh, I'm just bored." Yeah right. You're a disgusting pig, that's why. You know how sometimes, you get stuck sitting next to that smelly kid in your class? That was me this time! I wonder if every smelly kid you've ever met in school was actually just someone who forgot to wear deodorant in the morning. He woke up late, showered, got changed, maybe ate, and ran though the door. The deodorant screaming in silence. Maybe telling the perfume, "Poor kid. He forgot me again."


Anyway, towards the end of the day, I had to sell tickets for some event. I was alone, sitting at a table in a hallway, selling tickets to students who passed by. As the bells rang, the wave of students would pass by and I felt like I was on fire. "Two dollars," I would say with an awkward smile. "Just leave the money on the table." There's no way I was going to lift my arms up in front of people.

I felt stupid for forgetting again. What an idiot, I thought. But then I made it even worse.

I was at the table in an empty hallway. Everyone in class. I texted a girl I had a crush on. I'm bored, I told her. You always feel a lot better when you talk to your crush. So in the middle of all of this temporary happiness, I ask her out to eat after school. She said yes! She never says yes to me. She usually made up excuses. I told her I would meet her outside after school.

"My armpits!" I remembered. I can't let her see me like this. What if she thinks I smell bad all the time and hates me forever? I couldn't just text her back and say, "you know what? Nevermind." The final bell rang and I went to my locker. While I was heading outside, I saw her by her locker. Putting on her black coat and putting her books inside. She was happy to see me. She was beautiful I thought. Which made me more nervous. Which made me sweat more. We went to some restaurant. They closed it now. It was probably opened for like a few months. I forgot what it was called.

We talked about random things. The actual conversation seems really vague to me. But we sat by a window and I remember seeing a bunch of kids dancing right outside. No idea why. Maybe they smelled me. And were actually just squirming. The whole time I wondered if she knew how bad I smelled. I was unsure. But she seemed detached. Like something was bothering her back home and was constantly thinking about it. I did not enjoy it at all.

We finished eating and stayed talking for a while while she waited for her bus. "It's gonna come in ten minutes," she finally said, while tracking the bus on her phone. "I'll walk you to the bus stop," I said.

(How most of my dates go.)

Then my heart sunk to the deepest abyss in the ocean. Where no light reaches the bottom. And the weight of the water crushes you into a bland, tasteless pancake. With no syrup. Oh you like bananas on yours? Forget about it!

We could see the bus approaching, and I extended my arms a little for a hug. But just a little. Like how when you stick your hand out for a handshake, but the other person doesn't notice so you have to play it off like you had some kind of tick. She didn't hug me. And I knew she saw me extend my arms. It was obvious. There was a long pause of silence. I felt like an idiot. She looked like she almost was about to, but then she pulled away. "Bye," was all that finally escaped her mouth. And she got on the bus. The unopened umbrella that dangled by her side reminded me of myself. I felt like a useless item that was brought along for a reason (the rain), but I ended up not being used. Just extra weight now. A hassle.

I knew then that she had smelled my bad body odor. I felt red. Maroon even. I hugged her all the time in the hallways without a problem. So I knew she knew. So I felt crappy. I saw the bus leave, and I just stared at it in the distance until I walked the other way. I missed my chance I thought. And I did. I never saw her again.

(where's the umbrella when you need it?)
You'd think I would learn after that experience, but I'm ashamed to say it happened again. Again on my way to school. But this time I had an idea. I knew my friend started school about an hour later than I did, so I texted him to bring his deodorant. We met in the hallway. "You have it?" "Yeah." It looked like we were drug dealers. We went in the bathroom and when he took it out, it was a roll on deodorant. I thought he was going to bring body spray, but no. I almost hesitated. Something about sharing deodorant seems gross. But nonetheless I put it on. He saved my life.


I wonder, am I the only one who has gone through this? I told a friend of mine the story the other day and he just said, "you forgot? That's disgusting!" Is it so uncommon for someone to forget that? Like if somehow it's perfectly normal to forget your wallet, but you better not forget your deodorant!

Share your story.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Where Do Cars Go At Night?

There's over 850 million cars in the world and growing. Where is each one going? At night. On a Sunday. At one in the morning. When I was younger I would sit in the back of my parent's golden colored truck and just watch the cars drive next to us. Their wheels spun quickly, but the cars looked so slow. At night, the cars turn on their headlights. The street lights turn bright and the road looks like a golden strip. Stores turn on their neon signs. Blues, reds, greens, and the rainbow. For a second, you might think you saw a completely new color, unknown to man. But you only noticed when you turned away and when you turned back, you couldn't find it. A new color. Probably one of the few things impossible to imagine. And the whole world it seemed, was alive at night. The back seat of the truck was a strange place.

(Coldplay: Wont you take me where the street lights glow?)

I always looked out the window next to me, while my head rested on the seat belt. I daydreamed all the time back there. My forehead touched the window and would make it foggy until my head felt cold and I had to pull it away. I guess that's why I now have a terrible sense of direction. I never paid attention to where my parents were driving. I would just look at the cars and think. Everyone is going somewhere. Some make turns, some go the other way, and some are already there.

While I sat at the back of the truck with my head rested on the seat belt, I would jump over cars and run faster than sixty miles an hour. I would smash windshields. I would fly. I was superhuman in the back of the seat with my eyes focusing out the window.

Have you ever been in a car late at night in a lonely road and see another car? You had your own reasons for being there that late. You couldn't sleep, so you decided to drive around for a while. Or you fell asleep at your friend's house watching a movie and when you woke up, realized it was really late so you had to drive back home. Or an alien abducted you and you had no recollection of it other than feeling like there was some unexplainable missing time. Who knows? It could be anything. But both of your lives touched or met in this same place. Where could the other car be heading you might wonder.
(I wonder if the cameraman was scared)

A friend of my family died a few months ago. He rode a UPS truck and delivered packages. An empty horse cage got loose from the truck that was pulling it in the highway. The cage hit the UPS truck and some debris smashed through the window and hit the driver's head with so much force that he died instantly. I had just seen him a couple of months ago at some park before it happened. It's always more painful when someone that you've seen recently dies. You saw them in health. You saw them laugh, you grabbed their hand. And you say goodbye thinking you're going to see them again. But they're gone now. You suddenly remember that death can happen to anyone in any way. You feel scared. We feel immortal because we think we're going to wake up the next morning. "I'll start getting in shape in two months," some say. As if we know for sure that we have those two months.
It's almost like how we think for sure the Sun will rise tomorrow. It's happened for thousands of years without miss. Why shouldn't it tomorrow? But we don't really know the answer. We feel invincible most of the time.

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He drove a UPS truck. Someone. Maybe some kid, must've seen him out his window and wondered where he was going that morning. The kid's dad would make a turn and see the truck drive away in another direction. No clue of what would happen. Just another car.

(Would you bet on it?)

When I was 16, my family and I were driving home from my cousin's house. His birthday had ended. It was late, around one in the morning. My brother was driving. He gets a call. It's his friend. He wants him to go to some house, but wouldn't say why. He was crying. My mom yelled at him because it was late. I sat there, in the back, with a bad feeling in my lower stomach and throat. Again, I see cars pass by. And I'm sure some saw us too. But nobody was aware of where the other was going.
(Just a lonely moon)

We arrive and I see police around the house with yellow tape all around it. My brother and I get out of the car. "What happened?" my brother says. The police tells him about some guy that was shot in the head while he was DJing in a family's backyard. The cop didn't remember the guy's last name only his first name. "Velasquez?" my brother says. "Yeah there you go." "Well, how is he?" "He's dead," The cop says. I remember it so well. He sounded like he didn't care. The man dead was my brother's friend. I didn't know him that well, but I immediately got flashbacks of all the times I saw him come over my house. How I never said a word to him. My brother turned around and I could tell he was crying. I looked at the pitch black sky. Not a single star.

We drove back home in silence. We past hundreds of cars. None of them knew the sorrow that the golden truck was concealing. Shielding from the world until the car door inevitably opens. We stopped for coffee at Dunkin' Donuts drive thru near our house. The lady was taking long and some black car behind us beeped. They had no idea either.

Every car you see out on the road is carrying a different life with them. They carry emotions. Pain. Happiness. If they could weigh anything, we would need bigger cars.

They all go off somewhere. To a date. Home. A party. A store. Some drive to their death. Others go to where death has happened.

But if we're lucky, we are just the viewer. We see the cars pass and only wonder where they might be going. Out through the window like out through a television. And wonder about new colors.

(Maybe there's a new color out there. Maybe)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

10 Things I learned From James Altucher

"Believe," he texted me. I couldn't sleep, so I was browsing around the internet like I always do. I felt lost. My whole life had led me to that point and I was lost. I'm still a little lost. Browsing the internet when you can't sleep is a horrible thing to do. You'll never sleep. But I stumbled unto James Altucher's blog. The James Altucher Confidential. I found a post where he had his phone number as the title. So I decided to send him a text. At about 4 a.m. I wrote, "James Altucher, I do not believe it!" I had to write something where I thought he would reply. I couldn't just say hi. Everyone says hi. You get texts by mistake that say hi. So i wrote "James Altucher, I do not believe it!" Maybe he would  think it was some old freind he met on the street years ago and forgot to give him his number.

(How I felt that night)

He didn't reply. Not right away. At around 11 a.m. I felt my pocket shake. I was surprised that it was him. I smiled. I know it seems like no big deal, I mean you could send him an email and he would probably answer you. I know what you're thinking. His phone number is a title of one of his posts! Get over it! Its nothing special. But a text is different. It feels almost more personal. Like how some teachers now a days allow you to text them. You might be with one of your buddys. He says, "So i texted Ms. Johnson yesterday and," "You what?!" Like if its somehow different than sending them an email. But it is. Thats how i felt.

So anyway, I replied, "I'll buy you some coffee next time you're in Chicago!" He didn't reply. Damn you James! I blew it. Now he knew I wasn't some friend he met on the street years ago. I blew my cover. But none the less, thanks for the message! Believe. Yes I will.

James Altucher is an entreprenuer, writer, and programmer. James, if you're reading this, please point out if I got anything wrong.

His blog is great. I've learned quite a bit from reading it. I sound like I'm in grade school. "Efrain, write down ten things you learned from the presentation." "Yes ma'am. Here it is. Stapled and everything":

z.) The Daily Practice. In his blog, he says that to lead a happy and successful life, one needs to take care of themselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The "Daily Practice" he calls it. Most of us only work on some of these, but ignore the rest. It's all a balance. A table can't stand up without four legs. Or can it? maybe it can, but it wont look as nice and come on, we all want to look nice. No one wants to buy a table without four legs. He writes he was even suicidal at points in his life, dealing with a divorce, losing his millions, and other reasons. He was able to bounce back throughout this.
(I bet she doesn't know about the Daily Practice.)

It makes sense. Stay healthy so that your body has the strength to follow your goals, get rid of all the people who bring you down for obvious reasons, exercise your mind by writing down ideas to stay creative, and practice a sense of surrender to the universe. Some things are just out of your control. So surrender. I was already doing some of these in some way, but after I read it, I really started to focus on it. You're not going to change in a day, but like he very well puts it, dont take his word for it, try it out for yourself.

y.) Have no excuses. One of my favorite posts is about the time he wrote his own stories, shrunk the writing down so that it would fit in one piece of paper and just handed them out to people on the street. He called it art. He was rejected by publishers many times and has self published many books as well. He doen't want to be chosen by anybody anymore. He wants to choose himself. He also created a comic book by himself after sending out ideas for comic strips and not even hearing back. He writes about finance even though he never took any courses in it. He became an entreprenuer even though he didn't know the first thing about business.
(and "I cants"!)

We live in a world filled with excuses. Excuses are weights. weights on our legs that prevent us from going the extra mile. They're weights on our eyelids  that prevent us from getting up because we say there's no point. Weights on the neurons in our brains or something like that that prevents us from coming up with new ideas to better ourselves. To better the world. But the weights are just a metaphor. There really are no weights. Thats literal.

x.) Be Honest. James' blog is filled with honesty. That's why so many people enjoy reading it. People are attracted to honesty. It's such a simple thing, yet so few people are honest. It's hard to fake honesty. You can feel it even when you speak. Honest words just flow so smoothly like fresh white curtains flowing to the ground when they first get put up. Lies feel strange. It's hard to tell a lie and feel good about it. Every single time I've ever told a lie, there's been tightness in my throat. It just doesn't feel natural.
(don't hurt people though. "You look great!")

I've been trying to practice honesty in my blog as well. Every post I've written has been completly true. It's weird at first. Honesty seems unnatural now. But its felt liberating even just writing about things with honesty. Like if you've been set free. You show the world that you're not afraid anymore. Now you can't be  blackmailed by a stranger like it happens in those movies. We want to have this perfect image. The perfect polaroid picture. Where its dark at first, but you shake it. Hoping that it comes out just like you wanted. And when the image appears, one of your eyes is closed. Or Both. And it's okay. Life isn't always digital. But we've made it to be. A digital camera where you can take as many crappy pictures as you want until you get the perfect one. But nobody ever sees the crappy ones. No one ever puts a crappy picture as their default on Facebook. They want to look perfect. Hide the truth. That we are not perfect.

w.) We all have problems. Every single one. I don't care how much that person smiles. I don't care much money that person has. Or how many friends he has. James has problems. Many of his posts involve him going through some kind of problem. Everyone out there wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes. And they're not looking straight up. Nobody ever wakes up looking straight up. They wake up curled up with a hand stretched out and saliva running down their lip. Then they might turn to the ceiling. And they worry. Even if it's for a while. I know because I've been there. I know it feels terrible. So we have to save lives. We have to use our passions to save lives. To stop even one person from waking up in the middle of the night in fear.

v.) Write down ideas everyday. When James was broke, he felt like his life was falling apart. The earth seemed to move so slowly. The days lengthened. He tried to imagine his life when this would all be over. At least I think he thought about that. But he mentions that in the middle of all of these headaches and time jumping, he bought some waiter pads, sat down at a coffee shop and began tp write down ideas. At first, they sucked. His mind wasn't used to it yet. His mind was weak from all the stress. Eventually, the ideas got better and better until he was able to execute on the good ones. It changed his life around completly. A lot happend when you start to be creative.

u.) Learn to question everything. James talks about the religion of American society. Things that if you talk wrongly about, everyone will hate you. Most people just take these things as truth without even thinking about them. Things such as going to college and buying a house are all part of the American religion. We think that if we dont go to college or buy a home we'll be unhappy. If we make fun of Pixar or Apple, we'll get flooded with angry words. A lot of people are just robots. They think life is in black and white. They think there's only one path to succeed. But there isnt. We dont live on paper. We're not a cartoon where the writer decides what we do. I wonder how many lies I've been told in my life. I wonder if I've been brainwashed. Taken advantage of somehow without realizing it. I want to think for myself. It's sad to say how difficult it is. Every day, a kamikazi crashes into us if we try to step out of line. It doesn't want us to see what's on the other side. Curve away. Sometimes, if we step out quickly enough, the kamikazi misses. And you'll be surprised what you'll see on the other side.

t.) Happiness changes over time. As we grow older, we start to see what really makes us happy. We look at it from a more mature way. James writes that all he ever wanted was money. And sex maybe. But as he lost money, made money, and lost it again, he realized that all he wanted was to just be happy. Lower his expectations and i't'll be a lot easier to happy. I think that's a strange thing too. Maybe it's brainwashing or maybe it's just how humas are wired. But we want money so that we can buy the latest thing. the latest technology, the shiniest car. And if we don't then we're unhappy. Why is that? Once I buy something I really want, it starts to lose it's meaning after a while. I start to realize it really wasn't that big of a deal to have it. Then I get sad again. And then I go on to the next new thing. I can picture it now, "you mean to tell me, that if I put two slices of bread in there, they'll toast on both sides!?" Toasters were invented sometime around the late 1800s, but they could only toast one side. How depressing.

(Jet powered toaster. Oh yeah.)
If we went back to the late 1800s and we took all of the crap we have now (doesn't matter if you're poor) you'd be the happiest person in the world. Until the wars came that is.

s.) Life is filled with Failure. In fact, most things don't work out, says James. He worked on several (I forget how many, I think it was 16) ideas until one finally worked out. Many people are discouraged by failure. They fail once and they cant get back up. They feel they're not good enough. They feel shame. "Don't look at me," they might say. But I think. Sometimes. It's a beautiful thing to fail. Especially if you're passionate about it. You can keep working on it until you get it right. Learn from your mistakes. Eventually, you'll get it right. Trust me.

I always feel this. When I would be working on a tough math problem for instance, I don't give up. Maybe not so quickly. But I always think to myself, eventually I'll get it. And guess what? Eventually I do! It never fails. But sometimes you have to ask for help. If after hours I still can't figure it out. I'll ask someone for help. And now I can do it. And now I learned something.

r.) Mix things up. Life get's pretty dull when you stick to a routine for a long time. Things get predictable. It's like watching a funny movie a second or third time. It's no longer as funny. You know the jokes. You know the punchlines. There's no more surprise. I dont know about other people, but I can never play a video game after I've passed it once. Whats the point? You already know whats going to happen. I dont want my life to be a passed video game. We need to mix things up every once in a while. Be unpredictable. Eventually, we hate ourselves. We hate our job. We hate our lives. We half ass everything. We lose creativity and we become less and less happy. I felt this way in school. After first grade, I just couldn't take it anymore.

Sometimes, I like to watch television while laying on the floor. I have no carpet. It feels weird. But it's a good weird. James has a whole post about this. His suggestions are anywhere from spying on people to finger painting after work. I, for example, Have listed these ten things in backwards alphabetical order. Its unpredictable! It makes people uncomfortable. Good! Now get out there and spy on people! (ha).

q.) How to improve my writing. Or yours! Im going to honest and say I started writing because of James. I always wanted to, but I made excuses. He has a post on 33 ways to be a better writer. They range from doing number two to going to the bathroom! I kid. Actually, he does suggest having a huge bowel movement before you write. Makes your body flow. But the most important thing he taught me was to bleed. Right on the paper. Cut yourself if you have to. Metaphorically of course. And what's that metaphorical razor blade? Your life! Your emotions. Write about how you've been hurt in life. Don't care about what people might think. Just pour it all in there. Don't worry about it. It's only metaphorical blood. You can live without it. Write until it hurts. Write until your afraid of what people might think when you post it. And then post it.

I hope I'm bleading in my writing. There are still things I'd rather not write about, but hopefully someday I will.

(James always says he's ugly. What do you think?)

Oh look, James just posted another blog post. I wonder what it will be about. I wonder what I will learn. But in the meantime, James, you never replied to my text message!


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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

4 Ways to Make Your Teachers Cry

It's really awkward to see your teachers cry. When you're younger, you think there's something special about them. Something almost indestructible about them. They don't feel human. Or maybe that was just me. I used to think teachers slept in the school. I had no idea they had another home. When you're younger, you see them as a mother almost. You draw pictures for them (Guilty. I did in 1st grade. It was a Halloween picture...for Halloween). You give them a Valentine's  Day card. A birthday card.

Then you grow older. You move up a grade and you no longer start seeing a teacher as a mother (or father). You learn that they go home every day after you leave. Some have a family of their own. They feed their kids, watch TV, grade some papers. For some, you start to gain respect for them. Every teacher up to 4th grade, I referred to them as, "teacher." "teacher, can I go to the bathroom?" "teacher, Mark is calling me names." Then, you realize it sounds stupid, so you call them by their names. Mr. Piegari. Ms. Gothelf. Mr. Kellerman. But some things never change. "Can I go to the bathroom?"

You learn that they're human too.

So how do we make them cry? Here's a list:

z.) Don't do your homework. This only works if you're in some kind of honors class. You know, where the teachers are more likely to care if you do your homework. When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who everyone was afraid of. She had that presence. The kind that if you didn't do your homework, you'd be nervous the entire day even if you weren't in her class yet. Then, English period. Your legs would feel weak as soon as you walked in the door. She cried one day. She gave us a poem to annotate and most of didn't do it or did a half-assed job. We had been given a lot of homework from our other classes, so we could put English on the bottom of our priority list we thought.

She put the poem on the overhead. She asked questions about it. Silence. Maybe one answer. Another question. More silence. Another. Silence. Tears. She cursed. Her nose being caressed by a tissue. Her face was as red as her hair. I felt bad. Its weird, you can't help but think it's all your fault when a teacher cries. Like if everyone else did the work, but you, and now you all wont get to go to that field trip. Maybe there were other things going on at her home, I thought. But I never want to see a teacher cry in a classroom again, it's too uncomfortable. I mean, what do you say?

y.) Become her friend and make her quit. Not really, don't make her quit, but I have a story. In middle school, a new teacher started to work there around the middle of sixth grade. She was young, and all the girls talked to her for advice. She became very close to us. She would stick up for us when we would get in trouble and the principle had something bad to say. Until one day, she got a job at some high school. "I thought I wasn't going to like teaching at a middle school, but I did," she said with tears running down her cheeks. It was the last day of school and also her last day in that school. All the girls were crying. Except maybe a couple who didn't care. I'll admit, I felt something, but it was more because almost everyone was crying. It was like watching a sad movie and you wanted to cry, but your friends were around so you put your hand on your face like if you were resting it, but you were totally trying to hide the fact that you were crying.

These are really the only ways a teacher would cry in class. I mean anything else they would probably just cry at home. But I've had two other ways that they almost or could've cried.

x.) Mess with them. I'm not going to mention the teacher or the grade because this is just too disgusting and would probably scar that teacher for life if they read this. BUT, here it goes. Some girls decided it would be funny to spit in the teacher's glass of water when he/she stepped out of the classroom. I remember sitting there. Watching. The feel of adrenaline mixed shame. My life is full of shame. They mixed the water and saliva with a pencil and sat down. The teacher came in, took a sip. He didn't notice. My heart was pounding for some reason. It's a weird feeling. Its guilt. Its adrenaline. Knowing that I watched it happen and didn't do anything. He stepped out again. They then poured in a few drops of some liquid that apparently made you "excited." He/She took another sip. The whole class was silent. And he/she had no idea. I never want to be a teacher. Ever.

(Like this, but with clay.)

w.) Throw things at them behind their back. Someone threw a small ball of clay at a sub. She had really short crazy, blonde hair. like the kind that artists have to make them stand out. It was art class. We had found some clay. It was middle school. We were throwing clay everywhere. But only small chunks so the sub had no idea. She saw a small piece land near her, just missing her shoulder. She exploded. I felt bad. Here she was substituting and was probably happy. She was probably excited. And we ruined her day. She probably went home and told her husband or friends all about it. Some of them would laugh. And some of them would take her out to dinner to take her mind of it. Maybe.

So, don't ever make your teachers cry. You'll only feel terrible about it. Trust me, I do. You feel evil almost. Even if you had nothing to do with it directly. Teachers go through a lot. It seems like an easy job when you think about it. "Oh, just talk for a few hours and your done." But it's more than that. Some cry. Some yell. They're just like everyone else. They want to be happy. They want the day to run as smoothly as possible so they can go home hoping they made a difference that day.

I can picture it now. The final bell rings. No tears were shed. She walks through the empty hallways with the smell of school still in her nose. She goes down the stairs with her bag on her shoulder. Maybe runs her fingers along the wall. She drives home, maybe in the rain. I like the rain. She takes out her keys and drops them. But she picks them up with a smile. She opens the door, turns on the lights. Maybe she lives by herself. Her home smells like the house she lived in as a child. Fast forward. She climbs into bed. She's tired. Happy that the kids learned something. Happy that the kids listened. Happy that no tears were shed. Happy that there was never or would ever be a post about how to make your teachers cry. And she falls asleep without realizing it. The way it should be.


However, it's okay to make them cry by following me on Twitter!