He was driving me with his windows down, arm out the window, when a white Audi pulled up to him and asked him for directions. The driver answered brusquely and let the guy drive ahead. Then he closed his windows and turned to me and said:

“That guy knew where he was going.”

“Then why did he ask you?”

“Maybe he just wanted to talk to me.”

“Because you had your window open?”

I didn’t know whose hypothesis was crazier, his or mine, but he didn’t say anything. Equal parts confused and unsatisfied, I looked down and went back to Kakao-ing my friend.

“Whatcha doing on your smartphone there?”

“Oh, just talking to my friend.”

“You know, I write things online. A lot of people read my writings.”

Oh dear.

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The last time I saw Harry, he was buying me dinner with his January paycheck. We caught each other up on our lives but there really wasn’t much to say; nothing had changed since the last time we’d gotten together, seeing as we were both still at our respective crossroads. For him, it was music or school and as for me, I persisted in my search for the next job, a better job.

I liked to ask Harry where he would be if he could be anywhere right now, what he would be doing. He never had a satisfactory answer, that bastard. Whenever I urged him to drop out and pursue music, that goofy grin of his would tumble from his lips. I didn’t have the heart to push him. So we walked the streets and talked about people. Anything happening with Jared? No, of course not. Have you met anyone? Nah.

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[line breaks might not occur in the right places when viewed on mobile devices]

I walked down a drunken road
just shy of closing time
the playground silent and bare
without children chasing cats
or mothers chasing children
like before

I walked down a drunken road
where unsteady men stood spitting
pavement slick with road wash water
trading glances, laying an ogle —

I walked down a drunken road
counting the moths under lamplights
glowing orange in the faded morning,
missing five faces, remembering a hundred —

I walked down a drunken road
thinking about my friend
her dead grandma
They’re gettin’ old, they’re gettin’ bad
but I’m all right, don’t you worry
I still see dawn everyday
___I still eat toast with my juice

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photo
Currently writing:

  1. Issue No. 1’s Letter to the Readers
  2. Two features in the Learning section
  3. #61 (a short story)

Currently reading:

  1. 김애란 – ‘침묵의 미래’
  2. 박완서 – ‘친절한 복희씨’
  3. Kerouac – On the Road
  4. Hemingway – A Moveable Feast
  5. Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

——

My best friend is in law school and he generally dislikes it. When he’s not studying, he gets stoned and writes me lengthy emails about his pot-induced epiphanies, rating each one on a “highness” scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the “highest” he thinks he could get. Whenever the rating exceeds 5, I am wary, because the higher he is, the more insipid the contents.

His most recent email, however, was different and strangely enough, unrated. It was autobiographical, and it made me feel things: concern, curiosity, potential. There was potential for some kind of discovery there.

In it, he presented an argument for his self-diagnosed identity crisis that went more or less like this: I am my accomplishments. I lose my potential accomplishments to competitors more successful than I. And when I do, I lose myself.

Instead of pursuing his dreams, he becomes reclusive and spends most nights smoking up and experimenting with his drugs. Averaging only 3 to 4 hours of sleep a day, he lives on various substances that keep him awake.

He’s actually successful in his studies and career — he’d pass for any respectable law student — but as with most of us, he feels something lacking.

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It was just a misdirected arrow, you know. What can I say? Bull’s-eye grew legs and inched to the side. And all I could see, in the center, was goodbye. 

Because there are eleven hellos and goodbyes in a single meeting of our eyes. I said hello, it’s been a long time. You said why yes, hello, I must say so. You look the same. D’you feel the same? I don’t know, I don’t feel any different. I do. Why is that? Because I saw what I didn’t wanna see. 

What did you see? I saw that look you gave that child whining about his broken soldier. I saw the way you looked away when I was honest with you. I didn’t mean to be that way. Of course not. Who does? What I mean is — there’s no need, I no longer think about it; I don’t feel it anymore. But — really, it’s all right. What is it but a bygone parting? 

You’re staring out the window. Hello, there — what are you looking at? Everything. Did you have a nice time? Yes, very nice. I wish I were still there. Yeah, I know. I have work to do. I know. Are you going to stay for coffee? I wonder if you will, if you want to. I don’t know if I want you to. 

If you don’t mind. Hey, remember that day we called in sick because it was raining and we wanted to keep the lights out and watch a movie? Of course. Hello, soggy memories — goodbye, I have no words for you. The usual? Yes. So what have you been doing? 

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For light, easy work 😉

 

 

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I grabbed Harry’s hand and took him to a hill in Denver bathing in the sun. We sat on a blanket of clovers and ate our fish and fruit in the afternoon glow, the single large oak tree hanging over us. The wild grass had a pillowy bounce, and his arm lay warm next to mine.

Harry mumbled something in his sleep. I couldn’t make out the words, but he slept well. A smile crept up on my lips, along with the emerging promise to keep his dreams safe. Each and every one of them.

——

I have no idea where my head is. I only know it still exists because it is throbbing.

To do:

  1. 1 English transcript – due tonight
  2. The last of the magazine articles – due Sunday
  3. Essay on Othello as an Aristotelian tragedy – due Monday
  4. Translation of 5-page excerpt from a Korean short story – due Tuesday
  5. Application for a literary translation fellowship – due Tuesday
  6. 2 English transcripts – due Tuesday
  7. 1 job application – due next Friday

Had to cancel doctor’s appointment and dinner date. Struggling with translation, procrastinating the articles. Actually looking forward to writing the essay, but must prioritize the translation.

All I want right now is a good sandwich. And a mimosa. 🙁

Also, with much gratitude, here’s a shout out to Yoo, my new partner-in-crime! 😉 She’s so smart and inspiring and helps me manage all of my work. Don’t know what I’d do without her.

——

I’ve been seeing different doctors about my neck problems, and the more doctors I see, the worse the news gets.

Today was particularly devastating. He looked at my x-rays from the previous hospitals and asked me why I’d waited this long to get treatment. “Didn’t you feel pain in your neck and shoulders?” And I said no, not at all. I just have these headaches… But then he said that it must’ve taken about five years for my neck to get this bad. Five years…

Five years ago, I was in college. I struggled almost daily with shoulder pain, but I chalked it up to stress (because my mom gets pain in her shoulders with stress, too) and didn’t do anything about it. The pain wasn’t too bad, and I was too focused on schoolwork to take care of myself.

And therein lies the problem. I was constantly bent over books and absorbed in computer screens. Ever since junior high, my parents told me to fix my posture and stretch once in a while, but I ignored them, never once thinking that my cervical spine would bend forward like it is now.

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