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Monday, June 18, 2018

Love and Fear



I feel myself tumbling down. Losing my balance and off I go, to another trip of excitement and guaranteed heartache. I really, really should have my dating privilege taken from me. Maybe being put on a secluded island, or a monastery where I can't flirt with other people. But then again, I am resourceful. I will still find a way. Sigh.

I told myself I deserve this. I love the attention. I love the excitement. I was so happy that I still have the glow the next day. A glow apparently so potent that a frickin bus driver felt compelled to stop his huge travel bus in a no-stop zone just to run and try to get my number. And yes, numerous "Hey beautiful!"

We all need that, right? The blush in our cheeks, the light in our eyes. The extra loud heartbeat when we got that message notification. The way our mind swirls and thinks of the many things we want to say or do with this person. It's nothing less than magical. 'Rose colored glasses' is not an accurate description, it's more like 'Rosé buzzed' to be honest.

But then the fear gripped me again. It will end. If I'm lucky, it will end in a good way. If I'm not, it will end in an ugly way. I might end up hurting somebody. I will definitely end up hurting myself. Why bother then? It's a sweet escape that will lead to hell. And I have had enough of it.

I can feel myself ready to run. The happy and loving mood in the morning has turned into a frightened and panic mood by the afternoon. I realize I don't have trust in anyone. I realize I am scared of getting hurt again. I realize that I am ready to fight my way out, tooth and nail. The shadow of trauma lurks around me like a suffocating fog.

Do I really have to build a wall around me to make sure I don't bring more casualty? Do I really have to hide to make sure I don't get hurt, ever again? If I need love, I could just stick to fictional characters like that Newt Scamander look-a-like, or someone who won't love me back. That would be safe, right?

Yet I am tired of running away. I am tired of hiding behind the cover only to have a grenade lobbed at me, to feel the bullets inadvertently pierce me through my Kevlar. I am made to love, made for love. Come what may, I will end up getting hurt. I need to learn to shield myself better, to practice the rule of detachment in order to protect myself.

Unfortunately, it will not happen through hiding and running. I need to be there to take the blows, to learn from my mistakes and understand what is important and what is not. It will not be pretty, but I have run and hide long enough. I need to do this.

A text message came through. I can feel my legs turn into jelly. I can feel the weight of fear around me. I have to resist the impulse to just block and delete the number. I can taste the bitterness on my tongue from acid reflux. I am scared. I am so very scared. 

I imagine myself standing on the top of a cliff with this giant monster looming upon me, an abstract figure with edges blended with the surrounding. I know I have no chance of winning, but I won't back down. Not anymore. I really, really should have my dating privilege taken from me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

But You Will Love Me



[#Fiction #ShortStory]

"But you will love me," she said. Her voice was slightly high-pitched and rang in my head. I woke up with a start. The echo resounded in my mind like a clear bell, and not even the sliver of sun ray in my eyes cleared it through. Stupid dream, I muttered.

I got up and brushed my teeth. As I look myself in the mirror the image from the dream came trickling down. A medium build woman. Light brown skin. Long, wavy black hair. Asian? Big eyes. Really big eyes. Almost like a cat. Disarming, innocent smile. Yet there was that flash of intensity in her face. She looked strangely familiar. Was she one of the girls I texted on the dating app? I shook my head, disappointed in myself. Didn't know I need a girl this bad.

I took a swig of coffee and headed out. I have a lot of errands to do, no time to daydream about a dream. My coffee mug was almost empty when I stood on the escalator going down the subway. My head was a lot clearer then. The presentation, the supermarket, the new project, what else that I need to do?

"Excuse me," a soft woman's voice alerted me, oddly familiar. A woman walked past me, half running to catch the train. I caught a glimpse of the light brown skin. And the wavy long hair held together with a bandana. My heart sank. It's the woman!

I tried to calm myself. I need more coffee, I mumbled with a nervous laughter. But my eyes kept on searching for that woman. I saw her waiting, saw her getting on the train, and as the door closed I instinctively ran to be on the same train as she was.

She sat quietly near the door. How old was she? She looked very young. Short shorts and plain white T, canvas sneakers and a backpack. Steampunk sunglasses. Was she lost? Did she need help? It's almost like finding a stray kitten that you just want to cuddle and save. She looked at me and I looked down. I felt like a creep. 

The PA announced my stop is a few minutes away. Against my better judgment, I walked to the door near where she sat and waited there. It wasn't her. It wasn't the woman in my dream. She looked back at me with an intrigued look. I averted her gaze and promptly walked out when the train arrived at the station. 

Coffee. I needed more coffee. Or maybe whiskey. I took a deep breath once I am on the surface street. The cold air filled my lungs. I felt better. Next stop, presentation. Now this will be fun, I thought wryly. I wanted to say it's a make or break deal, but it's not. Design jobs can be fascinating, but this one in particular was definitely not. They're willing to pay though, so there I was ready to sell myself to the devil.

As the receptionist walked me down the cubicles to the meeting room, what I saw confirmed my suspicion. The office was very much like the e-mails I received: dry, bland, uniform. My proposal would work well here. Nothing too risky, very conservative, yet with a very subtle flair to give it the oomph it needed. I nodded in satisfaction.

And there she was. In one of the cubicles. Bright red headphones, dark red lipstick, winged eyeliner. And was she wearing a pair of gold pumps? Even her black blazer and pants couldn't tone down the tight vivid kelly green blouse she was wearing. 

She was dancing sexily to the music in her headphone as she worked. Hair neatly curled into an elegant bun, showing off her slender neck. I suddenly was attacked with a vivid image of kissing that neck ferociously, reach down into her blouse and groped her breasts, pinning her to her desk as I undid my zippers and she did hers, and then…

"Please wait here," said my escort with a professional smile. I woke up from my daydream and tried to keep my face straight, wishing fervently that my erection was not visible. I followed him into the meeting room and started to prepare the presentation, thinking I got away with it. Until I saw him winking flirtatiously at me, just before he left the room. Oh God.

My presentation went well, which was an achievement considering I couldn't concentrate at all. It didn't help that the office girl showed up with some refreshment. It wasn't her. She wasn't the woman in my dream. She was really pretty too, a total bombshell, but I was nowhere near as attracted as when I thought she was the woman in my dream. What was wrong with me?

I bought a sandwich and decided to sit in the park. I still have an hour to go before heading back to my office. The sun was out but the breeze felt nice. Good. I need some peace and quiet to think. I sat under the tree, facing a small lake. I bit into my sandwich and ponder. Was I cursed? I never believe in magic and I won't start anytime soon.

"No, Mama! No!" The voice of a boy's laughter pierced my peace. The boy giggled as he ran on the lakeside. That's another thing that I won't believe or have anytime soon. Kids are a distraction. An expensive one, too. The boy's mom laughed with him as she chased him. She could overtake him anytime. Stupid game. She caught the boy and tilted her head in laughter. It's her again.

F*ck. F*ck. F*ck. F*ck.

I hyperventilated. What's happening? Why did I keep seeing her everywhere? The vision assaulted me as hard as it did at the office. Me and her. She was telling me she's pregnant with my child. Our child. I teared up unexpectedly. She did too. Us in the baby shower. Us taking pictures with her bulging stomach for family Christmas card. Me kissing the little guy while she looked at us lovingly. 

No. That was crazy. I never wanted kids. Or kid. Yet I could see myself taking him to soccer practices. Her comforting me when my son, our son, had a high fever. A family. Me as a father. With her as the mother. That's what I have always wanted. I stood up. Even without coming close to her I knew she would turn out to be not the woman I saw in my dream.

So I ran. I ran back to my apartment.

Two hours later I was standing at the door of my apartment. It took only 20 or 30 min to go back home from that park, but I had to stop for a drink. Luckily my partner at the office asked no question, or worse, made me come to the office. Which I would not be able to do, as I saw her 3 more times on my way back home. I already called the hospital's psychiatry department to have a checkup tomorrow. This was beyond creepy. I was losing my mind.

And then the smell hit me. Baked chicken. With lemon. And herb. I held the doorknob in a death grip. I knew if I opened it, I will definitely lose my mind. My instinct was telling me to run. To the church, perhaps, or mosque, or shaman, or anywhere to exorcise this devil. Even a pscyh ward sounded promising. But I wanted it so bad. So bad. 

I opened the door. The darkness of my room greeted me. There was no one there. No baked chicken, no warm, tantalizing food. I was hallucinating and I know it. Just the smell of my room. With a whiff of a woman's perfume. From my bedroom.

I walked towards the bedroom in a zombie mode. Of all the things I wanted, or what I never knew I wanted, this was I wanted the most.

The innocent nerdy girl
The flirtatious office lady
The loving mom
The cool girl at the bar
The bubbly dancer I saw on TV
The elegant diva/trophy wife

I wanted each of them for my own reasons. I desired their presence at some point in my life. Yet there was one presence that I continued to crave: my partner who's waiting in the bedroom. I knew what I would see: that woman from my dream last night, sitting quietly on the bed in a black velvet slip-on, smiling shyly yet eagerly at me. I have wanted that for so long. Someone to come home to. Someone I could call my own.

I opened the bedroom door. It was empty. I laughed hysterically. I have officially lost my mind. Her voice rang through my head, over and over again. "But you will love me." F*ck it, I thought. I did. I really did love her. Every single one of her. I went to the bed, open the drawer and reach out for my lotion, and started to f*ck myself furiously. I f*cked each woman in my mind over and over again, especially the one with black velvet slip. F*ck it. F*ck it. F*ck it.

---

The woman sat on the fire stairs, looking through the gap on the window's curtain at the man who was f*cking himself over and over again. A satisfied smirk adorned her face. 

"You know he will f*ck himself to death," said a man's voice. The woman looked at him, a tall handsome gentleman in a casual black business suit. She grinned mischievously, "I thought that's what you hired me for."

He scowled, "There are more respectable ways to die, not to mention faster and less painful." She shrugged, "But he will love me." 

The man gave her an irritated look, but she just smiled innocently. At last, he sighed, "I guess that's what I get from hiring a Succubus as a Grim Reaper."

She laughed triumphantly and leaned over to give him a kiss on the cheek. "It's ok," she said, "you will love me too."

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Anatomy of Hate



"I'm sorry, what?" I said humbly and apologetically. The girl on the counter rolled her eyes and repeat herself with a very thick accent, "Chicharrones". I gritted my teeth silently in anger, roared furiously inside: "Learn f*cking English!!!"

It was shocking, even for me. I have lived in the neighborhood for almost 4 years. Bad English was to be expected and I was fine with that. Being an immigrant myself, the most I can do was sighed and brushed it off. Never the hostility.

What changed it was the conversation I had earlier that day with a friend, where they expressed their view towards people who don't speak good English. I sympathized with them and I unknowingly share, brew the hostility in me.

Of course, you need the seed of hate to grow hate. I hate lazy and entitled people. It's one thing for not able to master something, it's another thing for not even trying. This loathing transcribes across the board, i.e. I don't discriminate. I hate everyone equally.

But that little conversation shifted it. The frustration I feel towards the waitress at Juanita's easily and dangerously get attributed to race instead of the underlying premise of I hate people who're not even trying. All because of a conversation.

This is the anatomy of hate. We think hate is something ugly that we carry inside us, the gnarly evil creature who blinded us and actively attack others. We are so wrong. It is the little whispers among us, grew from fear, fueled by insecurity.

Are there people who actively hate? Of course. Some people, sadly, are like that. Trolls are a good example of this, leaving a maliciousness like a slime trail wherever they go. They feed on people to satisfy their dark, evil craving.

But just as only a very, very few people who actually enjoy murdering people, there are only a few people who are this hateful. The rest of the hate was silent. So silent, in fact, that we don't realize we committed hate, that it is inside us.

To break the circle, we need to be able to see what is it that we actually hate. What is it that triggers us. Why we don't like certain things to the point of being hostile about it. Remove all emotion, all justification, and see only the facts. 

Hate is hate, regardless of how it's masked. The snarls, the demeaning look, the hostility in the voice, the malicious words we choose, it's all the same. I can easily see it in people's face and attitude, and shamefully, also in mine.

There is no justification for hate, although there might be a reason for it, and usually, the reason is fear. Fear of different things. Fear for our safety. Fear of things we can't quite figure out. And yes, as I have well demonstrated, fear is contagious.
 
We should stop condemning people they are evil for hating things and start to try to understand the whys instead. Because division is what keeping the hate alive. Vice versa, we should stop justifying our hate under the pretense "They deserve it".

This doesn't mean people get a pass for hating things, or that we should go above and beyond to help people come out of their hate shell. You can't help someone who chooses not to be helped. It means don't hate the hater. Don't fall into the same hell hole they are in.

To say this is hard is an understatement. Hate can come so swiftly that it doesn't give you time to think your action. It's okay. You are not a bad person for that sudden lapse. Reel yourself in. Take a deep breath. You are better than the hate.

In the end, eliminating hate is a matter of empathy. It's a matter of how we can or willing to see through other's eyes. It's also a matter of how secure we are with ourselves, bracing ourselves to face things we are not comfortable with or things that are unknown to us.

It's too easy to put the blame on an entire group because of one's action. This is how hate works. Let's not do this. Let's see hate for what it is. Let's understand our hostility towards other people, why we do it and how to prevent it. Let's understand the anatomy of hate.

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