13 is Porn


I couldn’t breathe for the longest time, struggling with this tiny TV mounted on the wall of my mom’s apartment in Makiki, and this janky remote, my vibrator still sitting back home.

Then, this (next) dream.

Nothing happened until the very end, when I turned to leave. That’s when he stood up, “Remember me? Hi, Carol. It’s been awhile. Say you remember me.”

I looked up at him, vaguely familiar. One memory stirred, the one where we left a lasting impression, Monmouth, New Jersey. We’d been lovers once, but he couldn’t give up his addiction, so I left and he let me go.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

I dared myself to touch his chest, his right shoulder — the shoulder he injured playing football in high school, or maybe sliding home. He dared himself to kiss me, making us miss the hot spot, because she was watching. She was our friend and she was scared right now. He missed me, don’t worry darling, it’s alright, you can have him back, I’m just passing through.

I left and he let me go. I think he called out my name once, as I passed through the terminal toward the exit. Only, I went too far, vaguely waiting for him to catch up, and found myself on the football field of our alma mater.

I spent the next 15 minutes trying to get back, but woke up instead.

There goes my dramatic entrance.



Let him go

She’’s gone away like the words that we say
She’’s gone like the day you first heard her name
She’’s gone like that day she said she’’d love you just the same….” -Julie C., “Precious Love”

I’m stuck on her fairy tale, the one she built from the ground up when no one was looking. I was looking. How can I stop? When everyone is fighting for this precious love, she sits pretty picking her suitors apart, one for the clandestine meetings behind the nightclub, another to suit her ego, the front, the hag. So many broken bones, false promises, the veneer of forever, when I can’t even hold onto to the one who got away.

Every other night I stare at her ever-changing Facebook profile, feeling small and ugly, shooting blanks. Tonight, I finger myself to strangers on a moving screen, pretending I used to be them together before she cut a raw deal. I will say his name, dirty and cheap.

Why can’t I let him go the way she did? He doesn’t care. Oh Carol he doesn’t want your words, or your precious love.


He never said hi. Fourteen years later, I now realize it’s because he didn’t know how, not because he saw through me (maybe he did anyway).

He hid behind her, behind his music, his anchors, his safe place, the very things that sustained him in a very terrible, lonely existence. Like that man searching for an oasis in a desert, he searched in the wrong direction from the start.

I read snippets of his letters to other people, people who mattered a great deal to him: his wife, his father, the two driving forces in his life — for better or worse. He called her the “best thing to happen” to him. He called his father a goddamned socialist who never loved him.

They both abandoned him at different times, making it clear he was the problem, he was their burden to bear. All I saw were stars in his eyes when he would lift his head up from whatever they forced on him, or when he escaped into the brilliant light of his music.

The night we met since their split, I wondered which person would show up: the hidden figure, or someone more like me. His sister and I waited at a P.F. Chang’s in the mall to help him with his Christmas shopping two years ago, after his world collapsed for a second time.

He suddenly appeared in mid-conversation, as if he’d only stepped away for a bathroom break. “… You schooled me,” he smiled. I couldn’t breathe. Then, he quietly opened up about the years that had taken parts of him away, the years with the best thing that ever happened to him.

Physically, we still remained awkward, even though I’d poured out my heart to him in online letters and once, over the phone. He didn’t know how to be, and I was afraid of scaring him away.

But when he hugged me goodbye, and hello, and goodbye again, I met him for the first time, this bright, shining beacon of expectation and experience.

It’s not an apology. But it’s close enough.

Mathematical Improbability

before I drift into another dream, the debris of the mind’s daily setbacks, let me dwell a little longer on the time in the middle of nowhere, your hands on a fraction of a problem, my eyes stretching toward heaven, your mixed signals, your mouth drifting on mine, snow in July

you kiss me, and I remember everything, I remember us

you kissed me why am I still alone

Pearl Ridge

I try to take this picture for you. But the signal stalls from my finger to these crashing mountains, to these boys straying too close to the lions in a zoo, to this corner apartment on the 40th floor somewhere in my childhood in Makiki before the end of the world, I know because the huge white dome lands in the middle of the ocean and Waikiki is a ghost town, the Moana buried beneath miles of sand, the well-intentioned plans of developers in the back pockets of the visitor industry.


Origami Heart: Whore Monster

Origami Heart

“You are a whore, just like your mother!”

I stared as long as I dared at my father’s face.

With those words, my father turned off a light inside me. What neither of us realized at the time was that the light had already dimmed considerably before I turned 16.

I don’t even remember now what set him off and what shut me down. Maybe it was a boy, maybe Mark. “You’re whoring around with that faggot again, aren’t you?”

Maybe I broke after one too many beatings that would come out of nowhere and never end, that horrible day when he kept kicking me in the stomach because I shit in a shoebox in my closet instead of holding it in while he took his time in the only bathroom in the two-bedroom shit hole we lived in back then with his Hustler and his chain-smokes, earlier back on Juniper St. when he slapped me hard in the face in front of William, a boy I fell in love with…

I simply couldn’t take any more of his shit. All those years of trying to read his mind, of trying to be perfect, so he wouldn’t hurt me building and building to this moment.

Without thinking, I blurted, “Then, I want to live with my mom.”

At this, my dad erupted into a full-blown rage.

His entire face changed then. He got uglier, meaner, spraying the most hateful things at me, things no father should ever say to a daughter. But he did, because it was only me, I didn’t count, I deserved to be punished, I was a bad, bad person.

As I rushed to throw my clothes in a back, any bag, my dad — the only father figure I had ever known, and the father I would soon learn was never mine — shadowed me, calling me every name in the book, goading me in the worst way, in the most colorful language.

Then, this, “You want to live with your whore mom? Even that fucking Korean cunt doesn’t want you. Nobody wants you. GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE! You’re a huge pain in the ass. You think she loves you? You’re a fucking retard…”

And on and on this went, until I grabbed the rest of what I could, picked up the phone (“Go on, call that whore, see what she says, she won’t want you either!”), hands trembling, dialing her number and half actually believing my dad was right, she won’t have any room for me, I’m going to be a burden, she’s going to say no, she’s going to say no, she’s going to say—

“What? You want to live with me? What happened??”

My mom took an awful long time to answer. Too long. Just when I thought she would hang up, forcing me to put up or shut up, I heard, “Okay, come over right now.”

I left and never looked back. My brother refused to go with me, fiercely protective of dad, naively believing that dad needed him. My dad would use my brother as a punching bag in the months remaining, taking out his thwarted rage on him.

I finished my senior year of high school living with her.

The next year, my dad died on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, his birthday. My mom took care of his remains, his effects, and the mountain of unpaid bills. He left a worthless insurance policy, days shy of the next payment, a large pot of spaghetti sauce in the fridge, and a pile of broken memories.

He also left me his terrible legacy, a curse I spent my entire life trying to erase.

Integrity for his Birthday

My son turned 15 on Saturday. He also scored big with his friends on the soccer field and experienced his first broken bone during a corner kick.

When he covered his face with his hands, then dropped to his knees in obvious pain, I let go of my umbrella in the pouring wind and rain, letting it fly away as I fixed my gaze on him — until he rose back up slowly, shook his head to indicate he was fine, and continued playing.

For a moment, I honestly feared his day had come: concussion time. Only, he didn’t walk off the pitch injury-free.

After the game, he walked toward me holding his right wrist gingerly, like he used to when he was three with a boo-boo. “I think I broke my pinky,” he said, incredulous. “It’s numb and hot at the same time. I felt my hand land hard on either the keeper’s skull or the goal post during that corner kick.”

Sigh, off to the walk-in clinic we went, closer to home — about 20 minutes away.

An x-ray later, yep. He chipped a part of the area near the growth plate of the second joint. It didn’t look too bad, just one small area slightly dislodged on impact, maybe another small chip on the other side. The doctor didn’t think he’d need surgery, but wrote a referral in his chart to see a hand surgeon this week asap to determine the extent of the damage and treatment. Then, she had a nurse put a buddy hand split on his pinky and ring finger, with a flexible cast up to almost his elbow.

She recommended he not play any sport for a week, which effectively took him out of the United Team Basketball season, kicking off this Thursday. Can you believe it?! He was so looking forward to his first game on a team that mixed high school students with Special Olympics athletes.

After taking the previous week off from soccer practice due to the flu, now he has to take yet another week off (so far) for this broken finger.

He definitely can’t go to soccer practice. He may not even be able to play in the Presidents Cup Sunday, the third and deciding game of the semis/finals. It all depends on what the hand specialist says.

We both took the news very well, laughing and joking. But underneath, I felt the air go out. I just really hope he doesn’t miss out on soccer tryouts for his high school as a freshman — the whole reason he tried out last spring for a Premier league. That would suck.

It happened to his friend, who broke his leg, weeks before his Varsity tryouts two years ago. Soren made Varsity the very next year, though, so all worked out.

That’s not even the best part. Sure, my son celebrated his birthday weekend in style, fit for a king, a ton of presents, including a TV in his own room, bluetooth for his decked-out computer system, gift cards, and tonight, a nice men’s cologne, styling brush, and gel from Ulta Beauty, not to mention those gold balloons still floating around.

But at the tournament game earlier today, he stood up for his teammate and friend. At halftime, James went toe to toe with the coach, and not the first time, refusing to let him ride his friend a minute longer. He was tired of this guy under-appreciating the offensive value his soccer brother brought to the pitch, game after game, making everyone else look good.

After the coach laid into James’ friend in the first half for trying to take the corner kick (James asked him to, because he’s better at it) — in front of everyone at that game, mind you — and then started in with the team at halftime about only wanting James to do the corner kicks because James was better at them, my son had had enough.

My son told the coach in no uncertain terms that his friend was the better corner kicker, and that without him, they wouldn’t have any of the offensive opportunities that led them to the wins and that last tie in the last tournament.

The other kids on the team don’t speak up like that, as most of them are younger. As far as I know, James is the only one who’s spoken his mind with the coach. At least one other player tried and was shut down.

“I just got fed up with these coaches treating Jackson like he’s no good when I know better,” James explained. (These two have played soccer and basketball together since at least sixth, seventh grade.)

When James got through stating his case, the coach had no response. During the second half, though, James’ friend took all the rest of the corner and free kicks. He had to anyway, because my son injured out with at least 10-15 minutes left.

James’ friend? He made an assist to a forward who scored his first goal since the Premier team started last spring. It would be the only goal for the team in the first loss of this new tournament.

Happy birthday.



Presidents Cup

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While people lost their minds over the Presidential Inauguration at protest marches, we spent our Saturday enjoying a fantastic soccer game, the first day of the Presidents Cup.

Bonus, the boys brought home a win, 5-0, over the Whatcom FC Rangers. The win did a lot for their confidence, which will help them face a very tough team tomorrow.

I think this is more important than fighting yet again over the antiquated, entrenched two-party system, don’t you?

Here’s what I captured of the game earlier this afternoon.



Well, that wasn’t so bad. In fact, M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” was downright engrossing, superbly acted, and fantastic escapism for a superhero comic fan like me.

In the days leading up to opening night, I was so afraid that “Split” may be too scary for me. I kept joking to my husband to expect a call from the paramedics to report I’ve suffered a heart attack at AMC Loews Alderwood Mall 16, etc.

Not a chance. “Split” turned out to be more “Criminal Minds” than “Exorcist.”

Of course, I’m completely smitten with Scottish actor James McAvoy (“X-Men”), who plays the man with the split personalities, 23/24 of them. The troubled, darkly lit character of Kevin is right up my alley, and I mean, right there. (It’s no wonder I’ve had terrible luck with men in my life. Nobody could live up to those insane standards.)

The acting of McAvoy (Kevin) and Anya Taylor-Joy (Casey) very much suits me. It’s restrained, almost stingy — very much the way real life works. The recognition, revelations are small, almost cavalierly received, flippant but essential in one pivotal scene. I liked how the actors were seamless in turning the lock on their characters’ secrets; like real troubled people, they will not give the goods away so easily. (I may write further about this, because it’s so fascinating to me, as I once considered acting over whatever the fuck I do now.)

I also noticed that, like the split personalities losing time and dropping into the middle of scenes, we kind of do the same in our dreams. In our dreams, we take this sort of time travel for granted. I’m a lot of different personalities (energies) at once, splitting my light-reflective in a bunch of different scenarios simultaneously, a disorienting state of being, which overlaps more and more into my waking life the older I get.

Maybe that’s the true definition of aging dementia. Maybe it’s just us going back to the source, vast and complex, impossible to pin down, yet confronted with the conflict of continuing a life on earth, unable to sustain ourselves any longer in such a primitive, savage place of gravity and logic, money and power, a beeline of drones in busy work, weighted down on the shallow end with so much crap.

Returning home, insanity to the earth-bound.

Too much thought in a ping-pong game, where the ball always falls to the ground.

Watching this psychological thriller with someone I care about and trust added to my enjoyment. Every time I felt myself seize up with anticipatory terror, mostly in the beginning, I’d turn and lock eyes with Sarah, and she’d always be there for me, excitement over fear. By the time the truly mind-boggling stuff started to unravel — toward the running exit, as is Shyamalan’s trademark — Sarah was the one turning to me for reassurance, while I couldn’t look away.

I feed off this kind of movie. I live for its discordant, messy, harrowing notes, following characters forced on the outskirts as villain or hero, dismissed by the world as nothing but wavering somewhere between those two extremes, and totally controlling outcomes.

While the world went insane over the election of a president, a mere figurehead in a series of figureheads lording over a ghost of a machine of a system that’s long since abandoned we, the people, Sarah and I went to the movies, an Asian market for pho, Ulta Beauty store, etc. — the best getaway we could afford as two busy moms.

We talked over each other, talked simultaneously, and occasionally talked in response, as close to the way people transmit thoughts and energies in their dreams as possible. I think the two of us intrinsically understand that, which is why we revert to our original form of communication — thoughts spilling inside out. It works for us, even though passers-by may think we’re nuts. We kind of are.

The more I’m around her, the more I become myself, and the less I care what anyone thinks. We’re so much alike. I used to think we were as different as night and day, back when I was under the mistaken impression that I had all my shit together, back when I was tethered to all this earthly bullshit.

She gave me a gift in the middle of the Korean candy aisle, across from the mochi crunch, a Guatemalan Worry doll.

Legend has it that Worry People take your worries away. You tell them your most pressing worry, put them under your pillow, and go to sleep. By the morning, poof! all gone. What a thoughtful gift, even if she does look a little like my maternal grandmother, may she R.I.P.

I’ll tell my Worry person that it’s my son’s birthday, he turns 15, and I really pray he’ll be healthier in the new year, growing stronger and stronger each day. And that I can fit 17 balloons in my car, etc.