The Mind

The Risk Of Safety: The Battle For Yourself

shadow-nosteratu-movemtnWho are you? What are you? What do you want?

These are not philosophical questions, but rather simple, practical questions. After all, the human race has already fought its way through war and disease. And today, in the developed world, we no longer fight for God or for country; instead the greatest preoccupation of our generation, our 21st century quotient, is primarily to fight for ourselves.

This is reflected in our modern ads and ideology. Generally we no longer advertise information or utility because you can always google something and there’s always an app for everything. Brand loyalty is also now indifferent of country of origin, production studios, record labels, artists or authors. People buy from everyone because it’s all about personality. Today the products that dominate the market are the ones that tell the world who we are—status symbols that silently project to everybody who we want to become: not necessarily our current selves, but our ideal selves. (more…)

Baby, I’m About To Blow

Tom-Waits-by-Kirk-West

I knew you’d slow me down with your pinky in the air,
but I knew you’re the one when you dipped down with your sable black hair.
I swear I hate this town and that’s how the story goes,
we got fifteen minutes before this goddamn place throws up and blows.

Moonshine, shoeshine, thirty-five dollars for a thong,
drinks on credit and I’m in the gutter singing this song.
It’s past midnight blues and you’re wearing shadow and lace,
but how can I say I love you when you’re sitting on my face? (more…)

BATTLE ANGEL

The_Battle_of_Eternity_by_gvbn10

The stars were swept and the sun went out, and then the Devil fell from the Great War in Heaven.

Looking down into the abyss, an Angel of the Sword asked him, “O Day Star, Son of Dawn, why were you cast down like lightning from the mountain of God? O Light Bringer, the once Guardian of Man, why do you now reside in the far reaches of the pit and walk the stones of fire?”

“Well shit,” the Devil replied. “I had to try.” (more…)

Addiction to Acceptable Emotions

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Forget your flaws! Forget the haters! Do what you like! Do what you feel! Don’t just be a customer; be a happy, delighted, determined, excited, enthusiastic, pleased, proud, peaceful, obedient, and satisfied customer! Why? Because you’re perfect just the way you are!

Yeah, except that I’m not. (more…)

Turning The Tides

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“I SAID STOP THE CAR! DROP ME OFF!”

I parked by the side of the road. She tried to get out but I locked the doors.

Whoever said, you can’t fight fire with fire, obviously didn’t know shit about putting out fires; and whoever said, two wrongs don’t make a right, didn’t understand that sometimes… well, you just don’t care about making things right.

“LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT! I’M WALKING HOME!”

“ISN’T THIS WHAT YOU WANT? ISN’T THIS WHAT YOU FUCKIN WANT? YOU WANNA TALK, RIGHT? WELL NOW WE’RE GONNA FUCKIN—”

Imagine looking at it from the outside: Two figures screaming at each other in muffled sounds. One was a silhouette of a slender girl, coming out of the passenger seat and snapping her teeth; and the other was a shrinking finger, pointing bravely in defense for its life.

That one was me. (more…)

Working Through Pain: Principles of The Relentless

desert

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

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…)