Month: September 2014

The Fundamentals of Failing

kumite2Edward backhanded me in the face, making me step back. I was stunned but not because of the blow; rather it was because it was illegal. Hitting in the face during sparring was not allowed because the school was afraid of parents suing them (which didn’t make sense since tournaments allowed a good bashing in the face).

I looked at the coach but he didn’t see. He was too busy looking at the other fighters who were also sparring.

“You sonofabitch!” I said, smiling in surprise and anger. I felt a twinge of self-hate for looking to the coach as though I needed help, as though I was a rat. (more…)

Roun’s Rants vol.4: Roasting Your Weaknesses

.kitty rageYou got the blueprint in your head, the dreamscape in your heart, the unquenchable thirst in your bones.

You’re tired of living as a dignified paragon of self-moderation. You think a touch of Ebola is a blessing-and-a-half compared to spending another minute as a cubicle-dwelling non-entity. In fact, despite your mannerly appearance (your conscious compliance to become a lonely nothing), you’d like nothing more than to shake things up, to call attention to yourself, to run around giggling like an elf and go too far and feel like a goddamn boss.

And yet what do you do?

Nothing. (more…)

To Outline Or Not To Outline? What A Stupid Question!

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A better question would have been: do I need to outline? Because let’s face it, outlining and it’s counterpart, free-flowing, are not philosophical statements about the craft of writing; rather they are simply tools.

That’s right tools, which means it can be used poorly or properly depending on the writer’s proficiency. That means it’s all on YOU. (more…)

Working Through Pain: Principles of The Relentless

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My face hurt every time I turned to look at something. My head harrowed like a bitch if I made even a slight expression. Exiting the freeway, I turned into the gym’s parking lot with my brain feeling like a sore testicle.

No parking spots.

Suddenly the lies began speaking to me again: Look at that. The gym’s full. You’re hurt. You’re tired. You’re hungry. Besides you fought well last night. Why don’t you just use this day to rest. You can come in tomorrow and train twice as hard.

Bullshit! I told myself. Don’t listen to the lies!

I saw a car’s reverse lights come on and immediately my hand clicked the turn signal to claim the spot. Are you really gonna do this? You can’t spar today. Look at you. The wind felt its way into my spine despite the sun. Global dimming or global warming, they’re never there when you needed them.

As I reluctantly waited for the car to back up, my thoughts drifted to last weekend, when I visited my friend, Nazy, in Fremont.

I knocked and the door opened.

“Hi, Roun,” Nazy greeted—tiny and sweet—peeking out with her smiling Persian eyes.

“How are you Nazy,” I said, leaving my shoes outside before entering. I gave my friend a hug and then we went through our routine. First she complained that I hadn’t visited her in a long time (even though it really wasn’t that long), and then she accused me of completely forgetting about her. To this I responded with my usual, “of course not,” and, “I would never do such a thing”—just a few of the many counters I had come up with over the years.

“How’re the kids?” I asked, referring to her twins—two twenty-one year old boys, whom I had become familiar with through our acquaintance. Nazy was older than me, but for some reason we became very good friends. In fact, by this time I was somewhat part of the family—a stepchild of sorts, a bastard that only comes for dinner and leaves without washing the plates.

“Oh, you mean those little shits?” Nazy said, her smile quickly turning into a gathering menace.

I laughed at her sneer. “You love them,” I teased. “They’re your babies, remember?”

“Yes, dumb babies!” Nazy shot back. “What is they do all day? Eat, poop, sleep?” Then her eyes turned to their pet, a little brown dog walking in a red t-shirt. “At least that little shit doesn’t ask for money.”

I laughed again. (more…)

A Time of First Times

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It was a time of first times. I was already in my late teens when we moved to Japan. All my life I’ve always dreamed of living in my ancestors’ home to recapture the essence of my samurai bloodline.

Well, we didn’t actually move to Okinawa where my dad was born, but to Sakae, a city in Nagoya where his work was located. And later I found out that having samurai blood was just something a lot of Japanese parents tell their kids to inflate their ancestral balls (at best, from what I’ve heard from relatives is that my great, great grandma was a mistress of a samurai who descended from the castle to go to Tangie town—yes, he did it for the nookie—so there ya go). But regardless, such things didn’t stop me from living in my world, in the way of the sword, while getting drunk from beer vending machines that ask for no ID, no bullshit.

Before all of this, however, I lived a princely lifestyle—the prince of meatballs—and never had to work a day in my life. It always bothered me that up till then I had been lacking any sort of challenges, any sort of real struggles, unlike the people I looked up to who at the time were Alexander the Great, Musashi, and Robocop. So I was pretty excited to finally experience what it was like being an adult and working.

On the first day of my first job I had to wear something like what Jessie and Mr. White wore, minus the gasmask. After going through a room where you have to get locked down and sprayed with disinfecting chemicals, my manager came up to me in a similar outfit and gave me my first assignment. I worked in a meat factory. And behind him was a giant silver-metal barrel which he rolled out of a freezer that was so cold it froze the air in your lungs the moment you inhaled. In it was a thick layer of frozen blood.

My manager said something, punctured the sheet of red ice with his hand, and pulled from it what looked like a prehistoric frozen penis. “Cow tongue,” he said. Then he proceeded to repeatedly smash the thing into a wall until it was tender and threw it in another container. “Now you do it,” he said. So I did as I was told and by lunch time, my white uniform was drenched in red. (more…)

The Danger of Holding Back

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There was a flash of leather in my face and suddenly I was looking at the ceiling. When I looked back down, the bastard was already moving to my right. And when I turned to follow him, he just stabbed me again with another jab to the face. I felt something burst behind my front teeth and then something warm leaked down my nose and into my mouth. Ten seconds into my first fight at King’s Boxing Gym in Oakland, CA and I was already on the rag.

Served me right.

Two weeks after joining the gym and I was already salty. I wanted some action. But the coach wasn’t letting any newbies spar. Nevertheless I insisted. In my arrogance I figured, “hey I fought for my high school’s karate team and I didn’t do no pussy kata’s either (the display of posture, patterns and movements), I did kumite (competitive fighting)!” But this was not karate where fights lasted in two to five second blitzes; this was boxing, a three-minute, all-out, fast-paced hell with just you, your opponent, and your inadequacies. Needles to say, I wasn’t ready. I lasted two rounds because my opponent (this “white boy” I thought I could bully) bestowed mercy upon me.

Sitting in the corner—heaving and humbled—this little black girl came and began wiping the blood off my face. “You did good,” she consoled me. She was probably one of the gym residents because she obviously knew what she was doing. And she knew what I was—a beginner, an amateur. At the time all I had was ego, not pride. And there’s a difference. Pride is earned, ego is for free. (more…)

Denouncing Innocence and Deferring My Childhood

Because_it_s_summer_III_by_incrediPeople always say, “protect a child’s innocence.” But then I ask, at which point does innocence become ignorance?

You see, nobody tells you that. Because every teenager knows that at some point, their once encouraged and tolerated behaviors somehow turned into shameful and moronic offenses without notice. It usually happens when you go through the mutation phase—when you get zits and pubes, when you sweat excessively and you start to smell, when you develop breasts, skin oiliness, voice fluctuations, vaginal discharge, ass hair, menstruation, large teeth, disproportionate nose, and hanging testicles. In short it all happens when you cease being cute. (more…)

Roun’s Rants vol. 3: F-U! N-U, N-U, N-U!

Fil's Middle Finger Salute To The Rich2

You’ve heard it before. Using profanity means a lack of sophistication, a lack of education, a lack of creativity, a lack of vocabulary.

Well respectfully what I say to that is, go fuck yourself.

Saying poop, crap, butt, freak, freakin, effin, flippin, fudge, screwed, dang, darn, shootdarn, doggonit, golly, geez louise, shiittake mushrooms and sufferin succotash is not creative, it’s god-abhorringly retarded. I mean either say it, or don’t say it at all.

Whether it’s the s-word, the c-word, or the f-bomb, pseudo-swearing is a halfhearted attempt at an empty gesture. It’s like saying “I don’t eat meat,” and then buying fake meat. It’s like saying “I’m an atheist,” and then going to an atheist church. It’s like feigning offense when in fact what you’re really afraid of is getting disapproval from other people—mainly from your version of the ruling class.

Despite its commonly accepted purpose, these squeaky-clean, prim and proper “frustration words” are not there to protect children or display poise and refinement; instead it is there to offer an illusion of righteousness and respectability for the would-be adults. I mean, these fucking sausage-jobs are so uptight you couldn’t slide an American Express card between their asses. (more…)