Poetry

How Big?

The man sat ‘neath the moon and stars,

soul’s deep tears like liquid scars.

They asked him of how big his heart;

he spoke through whispers of his art.

-

He told the tales of paths mistaken

that made his heart swell up with hope.

Nightmares seen by Poe’s lone Raven

supplied his lonesome, noose-shaped rope.

-

How big a heart has he who gives

to those around for whom he lives?

He deigned to give the moon and stars

but he sighed instead with passing cars.

-

So now he writes a verse quite true,

explaining his enormous heart.

He filled his soul complete with rue,

detailed his end before the start.

-

He suffered much, and smiled slow;

his pain was great, but few could know.

Ask him not of how big his heart,

but ask him now: how big each shard?

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Poetry

Blood Moon.

A pearl in darkest night it rests,

a shadow cast before it.

A pilgrim come this jewel to see,

and humbly just adore it.

-

The white replaced by bloodstained red,

a sliver first, then whole.

The moon drowned full in tides of blood;

awash with tears, its soul.

-

My heart, love-full, cracked open there -

The moon’s pale face did smear.

Until moonlight was shaded by

the dark red mask of fear.

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Writings

Group Discount.

It’s the morning.

The herniated disc in my back, my previously fractured leg, the cold – all the reasons why the odds should be stacked against me made themselves apparent in the hazy swirl of thoughts that often preys upon the consciousness in the first waking moments.  I unlocked my phone screen and immediately opened Google Chrome to type in the search “ice skating for beginners.”

After reading the thirteen steps for beginner ice skaters on WikiHow as well as additional tips from eHow.com, I felt slightly more knowledgeable about the potential catastrophe I was hurtling towards with each passing minute.  I’m not sure why exactly the fear was so gradually suffocating, but I think that now, at the end of the day, I can only attribute it to a pride issue.  Mental images of slipping and falling on the ice terrorized me, and the fact that my back would potentially inhibit me from getting back up only exacerbated the apprehension.  At any rate, the desire to stay cool on the ice skating rink overwhelmed the childlike desire within to want to learn something new without the shadow of failure cast over the process of learning.

Eventually, welcome week BBQ at the pier turned into losing as Team DP with the brody, and soon I was on my way to Oxnard for our class hangout.  The food was good, but the joking fear continued mingling with every bite  I took, eventually satisfying my hunger with a lack of appetite.

As the minutes dwindled until it came time for me to face my greatest fear of the day, the Korean BBQ I had just consumed began crying for a mutiny within.

10 people to get the discount.  Well, I guess there was no getting out of this one.

Holly had to show me how to lace my ice skates first because I was a big-time amateur, and soon I was skeptically wobbling over to the lockers, where we put all our stuff.  Whew.  The rink awaited.

At first, holding onto the wall was seemingly my only lifeline.  Children of various ages cheerily held onto the wall or skated around expertly, making the snow seem about as adverse as a gentle marshmallow platform.  I, on the other hand, hobbled around the rink like the sixty-year-old man that I am at heart, devoid of the luxury of holding onto the wall due to a group of children occupying the wall space.  And so, I plodded along uncertainly, taking a step at a time to gain a feel for the slippery plane of embarrassment beneath my feet.  As time passed, the old rollerblading motion made itself accessible once again, and confidence began to grow.  Pace gradually picked up, and my brothers and sisters whisked by me,  proffering words of encouragement with every brisk stride they took.  The night grew older, and soon the exhilaration of speed replaced the tension of fear, and before I knew it, the night was over.

I’d like to say thanks to the people who went to the Channel Islands Ice Center with me today, one by one, because without you all, there’s no way I would have made it.  Y’all are the real MVPs.

Benny, thank you for skating slowly with me during the beginning of the night.  I know you didn’t have to go at my slow pace, but you did, and knowing that you were there and being able to talk to you was a big help to me at the beginning of the night.  It also brought a smile to my face whenever I would be near you and you would throw little bits of ice at me; something about the joy you took in that lit up my night as well.

Ranielle, thank you for the high five you gave me as you were practicing skating backwards.  It was a small gesture, but it made me happy knowing that at that moment, you too were learning and working on something, and it took off the burden to try and be good at something I was doing for the first time.  Your smile every time I saw you at various points of the rink reminded me of how I was supposed to be having fun and relaxing with my class.

Victoria, thank you for inspiring me with how graceful you were on the ice.  It is always such a blessing to see someone working in their element, and I feel like watching you skate on the ice rink today was exactly that.  Although I will never attain your level of proficiency on the ice, it was a real treat to see you spinning around without losing a step.

Scott, thank you for zipping around and showing me all the cool things that can happen on ice.  And also thank you for driving! But mostly for doing the skateboarding thing and also the running on ice; you are just a wizard in the winter sports realm.  Watching you move around and teaching members of our class was so encouraging because of how you just wanted to share you delight in ice skating.

Terrance, thank you for calming me down (or trying to) before I actually stepped on the ice.  You helped me laugh off some of the fear that was building up within me, and it was also particularly heartwarming seeing you and Irene skating in rhythm together hehe.  You really helped to take the pressure off of needing to succeed on the ice rink, and reminded me that “ice skating is pretty fun.” Kek.

Irene, thank you for coming out of nowhere and talking to me, quickly followed by Holly.  I know we don’t talk much, but thanks for talking to me when you were going slow enough to have the chance.  It was also really funny watching you and Holly holding hands and skating together because I wouldn’t have expected anything different from you two.

Holly, thank you for just being the trillmaster and helping me tie my right ice skate because I was a big noob and didn’t know how to.  Also, you constantly encouraged me by saying how impressed and proud you were of me, as well as challenging me to be even better by telling me to take longer strides when I was skating.  Watching you skating and taking pictures was also really quite impressive.

Lukey, thank you for always just smiling this smug little smile (that actually wasn’t smug, but one that sprung forth out of happiness at my progress) every time you passed by me.  As usual, it was a joy to see you just being good at stuff, and when you did that little spinny thing when you had the camera was cool, even though you said you didn’t mean to do it, but I know you’re just being humble ;)

Ben Chan, thank you for having the courage to admit that it was scary to go fast.  I think that I really understood you when you said that; though it might have seemed like I was having no problems, it was actually that I had an unfair advantage in that I had rollerbladed before.  Your perseverance pushed me to continue persevering as well, and it showed me something about going different paces and just hearing my own drummer.

All in all, it was a brilliant evening that I think really was a great time of bonding for our class.  Even though a few people couldn’t go, hopefully they can the next time because it was totally worth it.  On the surface, it would appear that we just ice skated, but I’d like to imagine that the small notes above say otherwise.  I learned a lot spiritually being on that ice and needing to be humbled while also remembering how to take joy in Christ, and I learned all of that just by watching all of you.  I can honestly say with real love in my heart that I’m blessed to have met all of you, AACF Class of 2016, and that you are all my greatest daily inspirations. Thank you for today.

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Writings

Injustice.

Vision blurred by tears, Henry desperately tried to understand how talking about playing clarinet at school devolved into the breaking of a dam, filled with an onslaught of his faults.  He racked his memory, searching for anything that could logically explain why his mother was shattering his happiness and nicking him with each shard.  Upon finding that he could provide no proper reasoning, he no longer resisted the outpour of tears yearning to escape his eyes, and he broke down in sobs, prompting a sharp admonishment about crying over nothing from his mother.

They had been holding hands upon the outset of their daily journey home from elementary school, and her smile had been brighter to him than the last few rays of the afternoon sun.  He liked when she was happy; it made him forget how sad he would feel being at home some days.  She sometimes made him feel like he couldn’t do anything right, and he felt small whenever her eyes passed over him.  She had a way of seeing through him, but not in the sense that she knew when he was lying; it was more so that whatever was behind him was worth more in her eyes than he was.

But as the walk progressed, the closer he got to home, the more he felt like she didn’t care at all for his story about his clarinet lesson during band.  He began feeling overwhelmed as accusation after accusation rolled out, each one splintering his mentality with needles of self-loathing until he hated himself and he didn’t even know why.  Somehow. she just managed to twist every scenario in a way that made him feel like the way he was living life just wasn’t good enough in her eyes.  It was his life, but it was her heart living it.  His heart no longer beat to his own rhythm as it was silenced in his mother’s howling disapproval, sealed in a casket before he even had a chance to place his feet on his individual path of life.

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Poetry

These Ants.

These ants, they swarm without a care

for my peace or breathing air.

I feel them in my hair somewhere.

A crime against the unaware.

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They lack regard for personal space,

intruding where they have no place,

enormity against man’s race,

dear ants, get out of my face.

-

What can I do to purge this pest?

It fights quite unlike the rest.

The horde sits on fury’s crest,

a tragedy, if truth’s confessed.

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The skies above care naught for me,

these ants, they come and dine for free.

No charge for rent, they pay no fee,

Oh, woe is me! These ants won’t flee.

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Writings

225.

225 – the number at which I was tipping the scales around January of this year.  Yeah.  That’s not a good look, so you can only imagine what I thought when I saw it.  Now, after going to the gym and weighing myself, I found myself sitting at 189; including the fact that I eat three square meals now that I’m home, I’d say it’d be fair to average that up to 192.

In this society, I would have plenty of people – kindhearted, the lot of them, don’t get me wrong – telling me that weight is just a number and that I shouldn’t be defined by it, and how as long as I’m confident in my own skin, that’s all that really matters, but I have never allowed myself to believe this.  The only difference is that this year, I was motivated to make the change.  While the inside of a person does count for a lot, how they take care of the outside speaks to their character as well.  What boggles my mind is that society allows people to get profoundly overweight, and somehow supports their lack of activity.  Even suggesting exercise seems to offend people, and it makes absolutely no sense.

I remember my freshman year when I had to catch the Amtrak.  It was only 0.2 miles according to Google maps, but when I ran that stretch and finally got to the Amtrak, it felt like I was about to have a heart attack, and breathing was next to impossible due to asthma.  The sad part is, I had beaten asthma.  When I was a kid, my parents didn’t let me get dependent on an inhaler because they thought it was steroids and not good for a kid, and also because we all had no idea what an asthma attack was.  So those times where I would sit alone, extracting breath from what seemed to be a collapsed straw in my lungs, I was overcoming asthma.  Until freshman year, when I had definitely let myself enjoy a little too much freedom with late night eating.  Is it not clear that a normal, functioning human being should be able to run 0.2 miles without desiring the assistance of an oxygen tank?  How could society possibly tell me that it was okay for my life to be where it was? How can it continue encouraging people to remain sedentary and ignore a life filled with things that humans should be able to do?  This is not a post to hate on the overweight because, at my height, I’m still considered overweight.  We should never judge anyone based on a physical criteria because it really is the content of their character that counts.  But for crying out loud, we’re not doing them any favors by encouraging inactivity.  An overweight person doesn’t deserve to be mocked, but he does deserve to hear what can change his life for the better.

At my current weight, I’ve found a lot of things to be much easier.  It all started with the Lenten season this year, when I gave up sweets.  I started becoming less dependent on naps because my energy was not derived from the kicks I got from sugar.  I continued with it well past Easter, and found that it had made a difference.  Initially, my discipline against eating sweets was so bad to the point where my palms would sweat when I saw sugar, but I became more self-controlled and found myself desiring it less.  Eventually, this discipline translated into running once a week, just a mile at first. I urged myself to do it to keep in BJJ shape because I was also combating injuries to both shoulders.  Soon, it became twice a week, still just a mile.  Then maybe a mile and a half, twice a week.  By the time summer came round, I was running three miles at a time, twice a week, and putting up a faster average mile time than when I began running.  Alongside running, I began going to the gym at the behest of a few friends, and found that there was more discipline to be harvested there.  Soon, the combination of running and lifting began contributing to what many affectionately refer to as “gainz” (yes, that word requires a “z”).   While I was home and away from the beloved Rec Cen at UCSB, the discipline carried on into doing at home workouts that made me sweat buckets.  Coupled with running, stepping onto the scale was no longer fear-filled, self-hating action; it was done in earnest so that I could continue improving on my physical health.  If I’m not mistaken, I even reduced how much I snored at night!  This physical pushing translated into other facets of my life that required discipline, and helped me a lot overall.  It’s very similar to a positive feedback reaction; once I cut sugar, I started working on my physical health.  Once I started working on that, I began to notice what I ate more.  Once I noticed what I ate more, I began choosing the right foods to eat. Once I ate the right foods, I was more alert during the day.  The chain is endless.

There was many a time where my weight would bring me great shame.  It really is no joke when I said that I would come home and my grandparents and parents would tell me I put on weight.  But that shame and all the comments they made fueled the fire for me to desire a better life for myself.  I realized how I made excuses for myself constantly, and would shy away from rigor of any sort.  The physical attributes I had contributed to my mental fortitude, and it wasn’t until I really understood how closely the two states were connected that I began putting in the effort to improve myself.  Complacency kills, pure and simple.  I was even okay with myself being at 195 before the Rec Cen closed, saying that as long as I turned it into muscle, I’d be okay.  But after playing a week of tennis daily, I found that I dropped six pounds.  But that six pounds lost was the fruit of countless miles run prior because without running those miles, I wouldn’t have been nearly as motivated to try so hard on court and sprint for drop shots, or run back and forth along the baseline.  It really all came together after stepping on the Rec Cen scale in terms of seeing how difficult it is to get to a point where you finally witness what you’ve steadily been constructing, and becoming motivated to continue building on.   If this post seems to be me just bragging about how far I’ve come, it’s not.  I just want it to be a wake up call for people in danger of getting trapped in the complacent mindset that society is encouraging.  I could easily be satisfied with maintaining my weight at around 189.  Compared to what it was, that’s a great improvement.  But I’m going to let my discipline carry me where it will, and at the end of the day be satisfied with true progress, not just a societal construct of tolerance.  225 is just a number, true, but it’s an important one, and if it means the world to me to see it go down, then I’m going to chase after that, one mile at a time.

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Poetry

On Trial.

With one breath, I gave up the

darkest, honest truth in me.

It drew forth crystal from

your eyes.

Condemnation weighed me down

as loss became reality.

What had I done? With all my heart,

I longed to mine

the crystal from your face.

Yet sigh-stained fingers would not linger

for lack of purity convicted.

The gavel sounded -

it was your silence.

I knew I’d been deemed

guilty of your tears,

and

innocent of your love.

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