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  1. JH and I are standing alone outside in the cold. I'm wearing a ruffled-back chiffon blouse tucked into an A-line skirt that pleats down to just above the knee, and Ukki snap-button ankle boots. He is wearing a dark suit that fits him like a seal's coat on a seal. He observes me quietly momentarily, and I glean an expression on his face that seems to be saying, "Damn, this girl looks cute." I am trying to hide the expression on my face that is saying, "Damn, this guy look handsome."

    I turn to him and smile and he smiles back. I say, "I told my brother the other night that you should go through life with your eyes closed. Literally." - I motion for him to do so by sweeping a hand across his eyes. - "Like this." His eyelashes tickle the edges of palm. My heart races.

    "What? Why?" he says, opening them up again.

    I cover his eyes again and say, "Just keep them closed, for like, a minute."

    "Okay..." he says.

    "So you know how all these girls are tripping over themselves to get your attention, and it's because of your gorgeous green eyes? That's probably not the only reason, but it's, like, the one thing they mention over and over again. You should just do yourself a favor and keep them closed all the time. I'll get you a walking stick and a seeing eye dog to help you out."

    He laughs.

    "What if it's a girl I like?" he says. "What am I supposed to do then?"

    "In that case, if she doesn't get creeped out and still sticks around, you'll know she likes you for you and not just for your gorgeous eyes."

    He scratches the side of his cheek.

    "What about you?" he says.

    I'm taken aback by that, but his eyes are closed like a safety net, like a veil. I still feel safe.

    "What about me?"

    LD trudges out through the door at that moment, looking smokin' hot in her tiny, red mini-dress and fire-truck red lipstick. LD and I are friends and I know she looks smokin' hot and am not afraid to admit it. I also know that she is wearing that smokin' hot outfit for him. I also know that he knows that she's crushing on him. He is looking at her with an expression that seems to be saying,"Damn, that girl is sexy." I'm sure that if he had food in his mouth at the time, he would have choked and I'd have to put my rusty training in the Heimlich Manuever to work.
  2. Why won't this guy just let me get over him? I know he can’t possibly like me because everyone says he only likes pretty girls. I know he can’t possibly like me because there’s this other gorgeous girl with a very peppy personality who is after him, and he doesn’t seem hostile toward her attention at all. Besides, I’m always misreading a guy’s signals, and it would be super-duper embarrassing to confess my feelings only to be shot down.


    Why did he have to be chums with my younger brother? Why did he have to come with us on my family camping trip? Why did he have to ask me on the first night, “Do you want to go hiking with us?” And when we did, why did he have to turn back to look at me or slow down to walk beside me whenever I trailed behind? When I was trying to have a private moment with my best friend, why did he have to drag his chair to sit in front of me, so that we could “talk”? Why did my niece have to give him smores which he gave to me? Why did he have to touch my palm with his fingertips when he was handing me the smores? Why did his fingertips have to trail across my palm? Why did I have to question whether I was imagining that they were? Why did his fingertips have to scalding to the touch? Why did his eyes have to linger over mine while he was doing it? Why did we have to look at each other without saying anything? Why did he have to tease me by singing in broken Thai, “I love you! I love you!” Why did he have to grow that stupid beard overnight which made my knees weak because I’m a sucker for rugged-looking men? But then why did he have to be four years younger? Why did he have to attack me with a water balloon while I was reading alone, and then run off and pretend like he didn’t do it? Why did he have to ask everyone, “Hey, where’s Hats?” after I had snuck away from the group to take a nap. Why did he have to look at me and smile when my niece handed us both Hershey’s Kisses? Why did he have to sit next to me when we were at the picnic and press against me after he found out that I’m adverse to touch? Why did he have to get all butt-hurt when I made a comment that suggested I was calling him dumb, and then why did he have to look so happy when I genuinely apologized because I didn’t mean it and told him that I never thought that about him at all? Why, why, why?
  3. Is it just me, or are these guys seriously avoiding me on purpose? Seriously, what did I ever do to deserve this kind of public exile? One day they're talking and laughing with me, and the next few days they just breeze past without even a word. They’ll talk to my friends and everyone else around me but give me the cold shoulder, like I’m a leper or something. If I squint hard enough, I bet I could see icicles forming in the space between us.

    At times like that I feel like extending my foot to trip them when they attempt to bail on me. But then I'd look totally ridiculous for getting baited into unleashing my fury by a couple of pranksters. And, really, they must be pranksters because they weren’t acting like that when PF was around.

    Why can't it just be simple? I mean, I just turned twenty-six less than two and a half months ago, and for some reason I’m tired of playing these silly games with people who may or not may not be interested in me. Look at what became of AY and me: We got nowhere. Obi puts it best. She chirps, “Nothing can come between us,” and I have to nod in agreement every time I hear that line because, yes, she is absolutely right. Nothing can come between something that doesn’t exist.
    So tell me what is up with this hot-and-cold/hard-to-get/flirty-one-moment-then-ignoring-me-the-next game that these guys are playing, huh? I'm human; I have feelings too, you know? If you don't like me, fine; if you just want to be friends, fine. No problem. I get the picture.

    It’s just, we were having so much fun together, and I got my hopes up thinking I was finally going to make some friends who won’t diss me at every opportunity they get, and then when I finally get the nerve to approach them – Whoosh! – There they go, circling away from me like I’m a vicious python about to swallow them whole, and they’re the ones who have to ward me off with the forked stick.

    Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is I just want to meet that 100% perfect guy for me in the simplest of simple ways: No need for “birds [to] suddenly appear”, or for stars to fall down from the sky. He'd just stop me by the exit before I leave and be like, "Hey, um, my name's..." and struggle a bit before finally getting it out, and I'd laugh and say, "You have to think about your own name?" And he'd say, "No, it's just, I'm a little nervous." And there would be this beautifully awkward silence as the thought mutually registers in our minds, and then I’d slowly smile and extend my hand for him to shake.

    No, simpler than that: Every time he sees me, he will come up to say, “Hi.” And every time I see him, I will do the same.
  4. JH looked gawky and awkward in his regular clothes. His joints were all over the place. I am so used to him in a suit that this other vision of him, hawkish and birdlike and hopping around the edges of my peripheral, left me shell-shocked.

    We were standing around the barbecue grill, so I took advantage of the smoke and rubbed my eyes, hoping to smudge away whatever it was that had momentarily clouded my vision, but when I looked up again, there it was, unchanged!

    My sister thinks this is good news. She squeezed my hand in hers and said, "In order to forget a guy who likes your friend, you have to keep finding things that annoy you about him."

    My mother is worried.
    "You twenty-five already," she said.
    "Nobody you like?"
    "Don't tell me you gay?"
    "Oh, my god!"
    "Well, then what?"
    "Okay, okay, look, let's just say nobody wants to marry me, and leave it at that, okay? Nobody wants me, okay? I'm never getting married, okay?"
    I left her wringing her hands, muttering, "Leftover woman, leftover woman," under her breath.

    My friends (who are all in love with him) are satisfied. Being the older female, I am designated "safe". They don't worry when he hovers around me because I'm older and therefore undesirable.

    I guess I should just accept my fate: Become an old woman who has to nitpick at younger guys just so she won't fall in love with them.
  5. So J.H. and I are back to square one because P.F. will be leaving for Seattle in July, and I think he still loves her. She is seventeen and long-limbed and doe-eyed, and her lashes are as thick as fern leaves, while I'm this 25-year-old half-moth, half-woman...thing. She's got confidence and glitz and glamour, and I've got - what? - my crappy writing?

    When we were all together last night just snapping photos and having a good time, I was pulled away by an old friend for a chat. He didn't come looking for me. When I returned to the front room, I found him hovering around the stage with his guy friend where P.F. was having her photo taken. They were all grinning from to ear-to-ear.

    All week, there had been a quaking fear in me that things would go awry, and I would have to confront him about it, but it never happened because before he could turn back to see me, I motioned for my sister, who was watching them with a look of disdain, and mouthed, "Can we go home now?"

    And we slipped out together, turning up our collars against the wind. My sister put her hand in one of my coat-pockets, and we huddled closer, trying to not feel sorry for my crappy life and even crappier relationships.
  6. [Note to readers: Just a little bit of harmless fun. All factual inaccuracies are intended.]

    Hoshino was a photographer with a gun, which he kept hidden in a holster underneath his overcoat. He was a gun-toting photographer with a slight mutation that grafted into his left socket, a single, crimson iris, which was absolutely no use to him or his unsatiated romance for uncovering the mysterious. It was of no help in anything before, and it was of no help as he sat cross-legged on the tatami mats inside the village head's humble abode, nursing a cup of tea, and tried his best to ignore as the latter questioned him on his "red eye."

    "Is that a red eye you've got there?" the old man asked with a quizzical brow. The village head, a small shrunken man with dark, plum eyes regarded him curiously over the table. His wispy-white sideburns rustled as he spoke.

    Hoshino cleared his throat. His eyes darted nervously toward the only other person in the room, but unfortunately for him, Midori's gaze was fixed on her hands, which lay folded neatly on her lap.

    "Yes, it is," he replied, transfixed on her soft, delicate hands.

    "I ain't never set sights on nobody with a eye so red before."

    "It's a mutation from birth," sauntered in a third voice. It was Midori. Her eyes were brown and apologetic.

    "A red eye!" snorted the village head in disbelief.

    "What does that have to do with the subject at hand?" Hoshino asked through clenched teeth.

    "I don't know about you," - the village head addressed Midori, - "but I ain't never trusted
    no man with a red eye before. Well, I've seen red eyes, but not of this nature."

    "Look..." Hoshino began, while at the same moment, the village chief said, "It's just, he's almost a freak of ---"

    "Chief," Midori interrupted, "Hoshino is capable of doing the job because he has a gun."

    The village head settled back onto his cushion and retrieved a pipe from the inside of his worn coat, while Hoshino scowled from his corner of the table.

    Hoshino hated it when people mentioned his gun even more than his red iris. Nobody had a red iris, and nobody else (at least no one without money) had a gun, and if they could take anything away from him, it certainly wasn't going to be his red eye.
  7. ... my brother lamented once I told him about the new story idea, and I wrung my hands and said, "No, no, no, you've got it all wrong! It's just the opposite!"

    Just what the hell am I talking about? Well, this...

    A young man, in his mid-twenties, makes his way through the rice paddy fields of poverty-stricken Cambodia during the Pol Pot Regime to his hometown in order to find his beloved the jade bracelet (a gift from his mother) he had promised her as a wedding gift that had been buried under a tree in his yard. what I'm talking about.

    I realize that by writing this story, I will most definitely be opening a whole new can of worms. (Read: Problems.) There's no denying that tears will be shed during the long, grueling process of bringing my father's nightmares into reality, but what's more important is making this authentic, and how can I make it authentic when the people I know decline to tell me anything personal? I know my mother well, and know enough to realize that her clamped jaw will remain just as it is: a clamped jaw. So we won't go there.

    It was about three or four years ago, in a cramped van rumbling down a collapsing neighborhood in what was central Long Beach's largely Cambodian community, that M. Anticicco put the thought in my head about writing a story like that.

    " You could get into journalism," he had said, " and write about your father. It's a really interesting story."

    I didn't know what to make of it. First and obvious reasons being that the fact that my hardly being able to speak the language played a huge role in all the frustrations my father had with me.

    Second being that it is difficult to write about something my father (and just about anybody who has survived the regime) refuses to speak about in more detail. Sure you get some of the gruesome details, but once you start going into personal feelings, they just shut me out completely, and that's not what I want. I remembered talking to my father once, several years ago, when he had decided out of the blue to open up. He told me that he had been a soldier once, and that he had killed some boys and men crawling over a wall. They were coming to kill him, he had tried to explain. He was talking a blue streak, and I was completely overwhelmed.

    " Dad," I had said then, " the chronology's all mixed up. When did this happen? Who were the other people? I don't understand."

    And he'd get so frustrated with me, he'd just clam up. Along with those days, there would be those long stretches of time where he would hardly speak a word to me.

    So I told M. Anticicco then, and I tell him this everytime I see him again: "I can't do it about him, but I'll try to write what I do know from him."

    And so I will.
  8. CDRW just got a camera equipped with filters, which I have never bothered with. His photos came out in excellent colors. Already I'm thinking in throwing down a few hundred for some good filters.

    Some photos I took recently:


















  9. I don't believe I could have said it any louder than that - and shouldn't have done so because there was people around - but the girl at the receptionist desk in the dental office was starting to pinch a nerve.

    " Yesh, all four quadranches," I said. I had bloated lips (or what I felt like bloated lips) and could barely move my mouth. I couldn't close them either and was afraid of slobbering all over the counter, so I smothered my mouth with my hand.

    She didn't bat an eyelash.

    " Are you on medi-care?" she said.

    " Excush me?" I said.

    " Medicare?"

    I shook my head. " Debit."

    She raised an eyebrow. " We only take credit."

    " Debit, credit, whatever. " Already I felt guilty for overreacting, so I said, " Ish been a damn, long day."

    She ignored me. " That'll be three hundred dollars."

    " Yesh."

    I waited for the swipe of the card and the chit-chit-chit of the receipt printing and the riiiiiiiip! as she tore it off and handed it for me to sign. I swooped down on it with my uniball, slid it back over the counter and was waved out toward the exit to searing, white freedom (with my swollen lips).
  10. When I was seven years old, I nearly drowned in a pond at El Dorado Park. There was a crowd of people crossing over the bridge during Chinese New Year's. Next thing I knew, I was in the pond for what seemed like a really long time, half-floating, half-flailing in all that murky darkness, the water churning in my ears like jello. I'm not sure if anyone jumped in to save me; I don't think anyone did. One moment I was in, the next I was sitting on the red brick walkway, my older sister hovering over me, arms folded (or unfolded, I'm not sure) and saying very softly - what I thought she had said at first - " Dry your clothes."

    I had a thin, blue smock on and was bundling up the edges and wringing the water out when she said it again.

    " What?" I said.
    " I won't tell," she said.

    I believe that I knew what she meant at the time because I had shrugged my shoulders. But as time ages, so does our brain receptacles, and the both of us - my sister and I - can no longer recall just what had really taken place on that bridge over the pond.
  11. We ended up staying real late at Bolsa Chica beach. I met an Australian guy who argued with me over which sodas were better: He prefers Mountain Dew and told me so. I reached over and dug my hands in the ice chest and retrieved an ice-cold Pepsi and popped the can open in front of him. He grinned.

    I know his name, I just choose not to say it. The older Cambodian ladies had been chatting about him all of yesterday morning. My mother thinks I'm in love. Talk to the hand, I told her. She refused, so I turned my elbow on her and said, Talk to the elbow then. Anyway, the Australian guy mentioned that he has lived in Cambodia since he was 17 years old. Great, we have something common: I've lived there before as a child.

    - You did?
    - Yes.
    - Cambodia?
    - Yep.
    - Wow, he breathes.
    - Wow, I breathe.
    - Sorry? He laughs a bit, confused.
    - Well, if you're amazed at me, then I guess I should be amazed at you too. You still live there, you know.
    - But you were a kid.
    - I'm still a kid.

    He grinned again.

    Three hours later he was enjoying a marshmallow fight with our friends. Through the melee, I was standing at the lip of the bonfire under the canon of marshamllows with some woman's husband. We were standing on one leg toasting our feet.
  12. So I just got done with shoving my monthly recc's on CDRW (poor guy!) and because I've kept mum for over three days about anything and everything!, I'll do a bit of shameless plugging here.

    I've been recently obsessing over this:

    North & South

    I found this drama quite by accident. It was netflixed to my Queue for ages and kept dropping to the bottom rung over and over again. I have to admit, I'm really not into BBC period pieces. A friend of mine forced me to watch Colin Firth's Pride & Prejudice (not his, but everyone seems to think he owns it) not too long ago, and I really didn't like it (aside from Colin Firth). I like my dramas to be like - well - moving pictures because I'm lazy, especially when I've already read the novel about a million times. P & P (1995) felt like a recital of the book, line for line, which is great for some people, but not for me.

    And, yes, even though North & South follows pretty closely Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South (with a few variants to the original), I just didn't get the same feeling. And in contrast with the former, North & South brings to life social upheaval, strikes, unions, during the 1800's and death of key characters , something P & P characters would faint at the idea of.

    So, all in all, this was an unexpected delicious piece of period drama that was just - well - unexpected. I'm glad I said " Oh, hell!" and just decided to let my Queue work out on its own, instead of re-arranging, which I tend to do when I'm bored out of my wits. I'm glad I purchased a copy and forced it on my friend over the weekends. And now I'm glad I'm 200 pages into the novel (it's really good).

    All in all, I've had a great Labor day weekend. Hope you all did too.
  13. Only yesterday, I was driving up to the office, Chemistry's " Life Goes On" at full blast, swinging my head from side to side, rolling my shoulders to that electro pop explosion.

    This electro pop explosion:

    I have only one word for Chemistry and that is: LOVE.

    But it may be just because I'm a mixture of Japanese + Daft Punk fanatic.

    This morning I wake up to my mackerel tabby chewing on my kneecap at exactly 6 in the morning just so I could feed him, rub his belly, and send him off to his girlfriend Mimi, waiting just over the bend of our white, picket fence. Mimi is also a tabby, but she's orange and makes for quite an easy target to edgy 9 year old boys with sling shots. So I fed my mackerel, rubbed his belly, and sent him off to protect her.

    I had the stereo turned off in my car. I drove in silence. Only one thought reverberated through my mind, swinging like a pendulum: " Oh, my, god, I'm 23."
  14. Conversation with my Sister in the car on the way to the Gas Lamp District:

    - I don’t care about people. I don’t care what they think, she says.
    - Okay, I say.

    The next five minutes trudges by peacefully. And then:

    - I like it when people say I’m pretty. That’s what I like, she says.
    - What…
    - But not if they point out I’m fat.
    - …are you trying to say?
    - That’s it. That’s all I’m trying to say.
    - That you don’t care about what people think just as long as they don’t think negatively about you?
    - Right.
    - So like, if I’m talking to you and I say, “You’re pretty”, but I leave out the “fat” part, you’d be okay with it? Is that it?

    She frowns.

    Our conversation ends there. She’s as thin as a rail anyway. I don’t know why she’s always harping about it. It runs in the family. People generally want to stuff me with food because of it, as if I'm a malnourished Martian. Sometimes when waitresses give me extra portions, I grab them by the wrist and say, " Excuse me. What's all this?"

    And all I'll get back is a seeping, swampy, all knowing smile.

    There was a scene in Ally Mcbeal that comes to mind.

    Woman in the elevator: " You look like you could use a cookie."

    Ally: "Great. Why don't weshare it?"

    Or something like that. But unfortunately, I never have clever quips for when I'm actually there.


    This morning I wake up to find someone’s chicken-bone arm splayed beside me. I was frightened, so I try desperately to sweep it off the bed, only it rolls over and dangles mercilessly over the edge like a broken door-hinge, and I realize suddenly – morosely – that it was really my chicken-bone arm and not some stranger’s, and that I am very late for work.
  15. I just knew I wouldn’t be able to keep awake unless I pinned my eyelids to my forehead, so I left my cardigan on my chair and bailed: I climbed up the stairs to the rooftop of our office building and sat crouched in a corner, holding my ankles, and totally zoning out.

    According to wikihow, I broke a few "zoning out" rules, mainly this one:

    "Leave zoning out for when you have free time; it isn't something to practice during work or school hours."

    Oh, and apparently I was oblivious to these also :

    If you are really disconnected from your surroundings you may be at risk of being embarrassed when you are "awakened."

    Zoning out is not a good idea in a class where you need to take notes or do work.

    Try not to stare at one spot for too long.

    My supervisor came up for a smoke a while later. I'm not sure how long he'd been there after me, but he found me with my mouth hanging slightly ajar, staring into space (I'm sure of it, because when I snapped back to reality, my mouth was agape).

    He was standing near the stairs with one hand in his pocket and was taking a puff when he turned around suddenly and spotted me huddled in the corner. I guess he was really surprised, because he was silent for a very long time.

    Anyway, I swear on the Dali lama there were no hard drugs (or any at all!) involved in my trip to San Diego, but I can't for the life of me recall anything I did the last few days there.

    It just takes a while for me to sort out my thoughts. Vacations tend to rob me of all coherent thought for the first two or three days after.