not my girls

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FADE IN: masseuse at work. 

I don’t know who started it but I don’t like it (she laughs).

Why doesn’t the man take on a married name like the woman does? Women have been branded like a cow (she laughs). You say, “Oh, hi Mr. Smith,” and you have no idea if he’s married or not. How many married men actually wear their rings? I see women proud to sport around a big rock on their finger, but men? (she laughs).
These are old social habits that we accept as the normal. I want to know who made these things up? Do you know who? (she laughs).

Haha, it’s our culture.

Yes, but no. I do not agree and I will not allow it. Not in my home and not with my girls. My girls are going to know independence. They see their mom working a full-time job, going to school, putting her own money in the bank. My girls know that a woman does not need to rely on anyone but herself. No rock will make them feel powerful. Education, confidence, intelligence, virtue, yes, those things will make them feel proud. And my girls are beautiful – half Russian, half Thai. Oh my goodness, I have a big road ahead of me (she laughs). No, they will not be dumb girls. I am a fantastic mother, and student and daughter and friend. Yes, I have my husband but we are two independent people, we are equals. I like it like that, and I am setting an example for my girls.

FADE OUT.

tomorrow, lovely one

tomorrow, lovely one

This is my shadow.
A life a few feet behind me.
That shirt. God, I thought I tossed it.
This smell..brings me back to here.
When it was then.

I sat at this very table processing, organizing, dreaming, concocting.
He sat catching a show on the tube.
I would go to sleep full of dreams and plans and, well, darkness.
Truth is,
How can you build on unsteady ground?
This work is hard and real and very necessary.

These pants. I hope they fit.
Do I still want the books, the socks, the dusty makeup?
Maybe not the makeup.
The muffled city outside taps on my window.
Tomorrow, lovely one. Tomorrow.

My little treetop of goodness.
How it fills my soul.
Silence. No dog. No schedule. No errands.
Not yet. Just. Me.
Hard work happens on an exhaustive plane home,
Unpacking and sifting and embracing my fragile heart.

Eyes like thick drops of oil.
Body like a sleepy kitten. Make that an older cat.
And still,
Mind swimming uphill with zest, or maybe desperation.
Nope.
Tomorrow, lovely one. Tomorrow.

hell on a hampster wheel

hell on a hamster wheel

Name: Nick from San Francisco
Occupation: student of hair
Age: 26
Tattoos on his face

Why the lapse in time? I relapsed, went back to rehab. Yeah, I’m 1.5 years sober, third time now. Did you know 3% who leave rehab go back to using, and only 1% kick it after 5 years? Yeah, it’s no joke. Opioids are the real thing.

I mean. When you’re on it. It’s like you’re being hugged by God. The feeling. I mean, I can’t explain it. But here’s the thing: the first few times, you get that God-hugging feeling, but then, for all the other times, you’re trying to feel normal. You’re doing what it takes to avoid the detox feeling. And that feeling, is like death, 10x. It’s the worst kinda flu that just doesn’t go away. I mean, it does after 3 weeks but that feels like an eternity. We all dread it so we keep using. It’s living in hell on a hamster wheel.
You know, I think that’s what happened to Michael J and Prince and even that actor guy, Phillip Hoffman. They detoxed, they tried to kick the game, they went back to the same dose they were taking before — bang, bang — it tips them over the edge. Heroin makes you sleep, so they went to sleep.

I know so many people who’ve died in my life. Oh man. My girl, her boyfriend – I mean, they never really broken up cuz he died – his death rocked her. And she was a user, that’s how we met. She was in a rehab in Milwaukee and then transferred to the San Francisco one and yeah, that’s how we met. She’s one month ahead of me but she’s really miles beyond me. I think it’s the combination of having a rock like her, and purpose. That keeps me outta trouble.

Don’t think my parents are whack. The two of them are the only sober ones out of a family of users. We have a good relationship. We talk every day. You gotta understand, opioids they’re non-discriminative. It’ll swallow anyone who wants to dance. Anyone. You too. [he shyly laughs]

sucks the air thin

sucks the air thin

There’s a silence that’s almost deafening.
The kind where, at a party, the music stops and everyone looks up and says to no one, “Hey, what happened?”
The kind that the body shutters from its piercing.
A Void.

I was turning 16. I wanted a big party; bodyguards, a live band, DJ, pay at the door, the whole shebang. I worked hard; I got my artistic sister to create the flyer, gave them out at my and my brother’s schools. A week before, everyone was talking about it, the word spread quick. The band was known enough to build a crowd, I was in love with the drummer who should’ve been the lead singer he was that eccentric.

I rented a trophy room off a big sports facility, facing a big oval where my brother’s school played footy. The party drew a huge crowd, a long line waited around the bend even until 11pm, an hour before close. I was shocked. I barely knew anyone, and when I did, they were intoxicated and in the throes of what it took to be a teenager at a party in the 90s.

Flash forward to afterward. Mum, bro and sis, and my best friends, with black trash bags and rubber gloves, helped me clean up the evidence. Well, enough to get our safety deposit back.

I must’ve sat down somewhere, took it all in. I hope I did. I’m hoping I popped a squat facing the oval of lush greenery and tsunamic eucalyptus trees. Muscles spent and feet regaining circulation from improper use of heels. A mix of pride and exhaustion. A mix of elation and isolation.

And then silence.
The Void.

How it sucks the air thin.

god created the delete button

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Name: Christina A.
Occupation: Retirement Consultant.
Location: Glendale, CA.

I never thought to ask for a raise until I was in my 40s. It blows my mind cuz I gave 12 years of my life to that company. I learned a lot, don’t get me wrong; I’m still using some of those skills in my work today.
But yeah.
When I finally did a money awareness course, it dawned on me like a piano dropped on my head, that I had some major issues around money.
To begin, my family never spoke about money.
I mean, are you kidding me?
My father, may he rest in peace, had his some heavy shit around money.
I remember this one time when I asked him how much he made –
I mean, I might’ve just said, “How many times do you masturbate a week?”
His look.
[she laughs]
He never answered me.
In my family, we never spoke about 2 things: sex and money – and we would probably speak first about sex before money.
In the early days of my company, I would write “Maybe you could send me the money you owe me / your invoice has been probably overdue by 30 days, blah blah.
Maybe, can I please, do you mind, that kinda shit.
To this day sometimes I catch myself writing those words.
But God created the delete button, and damn am I grateful.

anchor into me

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Thursday morning
Writing from the car
Sun is shining the weather is sweet (queue music)
I am parked among the wealthy, the exuberant, the luxurious.
New
Flashy
Shiny
Other.

Why does this always feel so foreign to me?
Oh, that’s a bigger question for another cocktail.
I have a few minutes, and the only thing I want to do is – touch
Hand to heart
Close my eyes, and
Remember me.

Anchor into me.

Can materialistic overwhelm disconnect you from you?
They say it’s true.
I say that it does.
I find myself unchained and segregated, searching for my anchor.

New
Flashy
Shiny
Other.
Physical proof of value and entitlement
The statues, the sprawling greenery, the dream of…

The world loves this shit and I am torn and yet curious by it
Why isn’t it easy?
I look at my basic car
My simple keyboard that connects to my, yes, luxurious phone
I look at my leather bag, authentic jewelry, Nike shoes, American citizenship, and on.

When you look at me, my life is not far off from that.
The abundance I take for granted
I forget
I toss to the side as I look for the next
New
Flashy
Shiny
Other.

drip-drop

drip-drops

A drip-drop of sweat.
Suspended
And then — crash!
Like a coin in water, the ripples explode and then — stop.

I look at it.

A flash —
All the healthy eats
Yoga drips
Facial cleansers/toners/creams
Naps
Sun rays and tree shades from Jackie walks
Arguments with lover (not fights, don’t call them that)
Fears
Dreams
Anxieties
Hopes
Gluten-free organic ice cream
7am wakes and late night meetings
Freeway-traffic-pondering’s and —
Hold up!
Shazaam’ing music that glitters the soul.

This drip-drop comes loaded.
It leaves the body, rich with substance and prana
only to die, stained here on this cycling bike.

Don’t you know? —
This drip comes from a machine of a woman.
A warrior, with super-sonic strength;
metal armor to shield her from doubt,
and a heavy burdened crown, a reward of perseverance.

This drip-drop is evidence of
elbow grease soaked in thick, raw passion.
Well, now you know.