MARINAvsWriting

Confetti.

Late in the day on Wednesday, a loud pop distracted me from the job application I was trudging through. Sam and I were both in the living room squeezing the last moments of productivity from our respective days. Sam’s version of productivity involves numbers, schedules, research, and calls. My version of productivity involves writing, rewriting, procrastisnacking (a term I made up for when you choose to make elaborate snacks instead of doing a simple task), and staving off existential crises fueled by a crushing sense of failure.

At the window, I peeked out over the intersection in front of our house. It’s a popular spot for drug deals, loud u-turns, half-empty takeout containers, and loose dogs squatting in parking strips. But this time, there was none of that, instead I saw brightly colored, seemingly weightless strips of evenly cut paper spiraling through the air; Confetti. The evening winds caused the confetti to curlicue across the pavement. It looked like a piñata had been blown up.

I gasped with delight, so unaccustomed to seeing whimsy at the intersection. My gasp was immediately followed by a frown. It’s still trash, I thought, vivid, uniform, fanciful trash. I knew it was bound to blow into our yard and become snacking fodder for the stubborn puppy currently sleeping on the cool tile of our bathroom. I sighed.

A truck with balloons shaped like numbers and a hand-drawn birthday sign drove off. Sam saw it pass as he, too, got up to look out window. “One of those birthday parades, huh,” he said as the car disappeared down the street. Then he shifted his attention to the intersection.

“Hey! Confetti!” he exclaimed. “Ugh, what a mess.”

It was the same cycle I’d just silently gone through. We’d been circling through these types of emotions a lot lately. I laughed at our synchronicity.

“Feels symbolic,” I told him, “Like America is confetti; beautiful and fun in theory, but mostly chaotic and bad for the environment.”

“Ha, maybe,” he responded.

Sam watched the fluttering paper for a moment before getting back to his work. I returned my attention to the half-written cover letter on my screen. “In terms of what I could provide to you…” I typed and then stalled. The cursor impatiently blinked at me. “I am a skilled writer and editor who excels in concise messaging—” Blah. I deleted the sentence, shut my computer and walked over to the fridge.

“You want a snack?” I asked Sam.

“Always,” Sam replied.

I smiled and proceeded to delicately assemble a charcuterie plate made with an odd assortment of leftovers. It wasn’t the best, but it certainly felt like an accomplishment.

Feed Me

I was outside cooling off in the 100-degree heat when I realized I forgot to feed Roz. I tilted my head back and groaned, the sun assaulting my exposed face. “Rozzy, I’m SO sorry.” The five-month-old puppy chewing dried bougainvillea petals at my feet did not seem to understand.

Back in our un-air conditioned home, the walls held onto the heat like a grudge. I plunged my hand into an enormous plastic kibble container, blindly feeling around for the measuring cup buried inside. Roz sat studying my every move. As her dark eyes followed me to the fridge, where her precious cottage cheese was kept, my body vibrated with guilt. They (they being Google) say that puppies thrive on routine, and therefore it’s imperative to keep a rigid schedule—my negligence had broken the sanctity of The Schedule.

Had I been doing something useful like reading any of the books weighing down my nightstand, or researching Lebanese Relief Organizations to donate to, or applying to jobs so I could have more money to donate to Lebanese Relief Organizations, I would’ve felt less guilty. But instead, I was waist-deep in the comments section of a conservative YouTube video.

The video was sent to me by a family member, the subject reading, “Nancy Pelosi does not want you to see this.” I didn’t even use my time to feign moral productivity by picking futile fights with strangers, or my own family, I simply sat at my kitchen bar and soaked it all in; the idea that Nancy Pelosi was solely responsible for California’s homelessness crisis, the excessive b-roll of people living in encampments, the reporter’s forced expressions of alarm, the masked interviews, the despair, the fake sympathy, the sweeping generalizations, the pulsating graphs, the conclusion that all blue states were going to hell.

I searched the comments section for a voice of reason explaining the complexity of the crisis. Someone who could eloquently convey that this was not one person’s (or one party’s) fault but the fault of those who gleefully operate within a system of unchecked capitalism, the fault of those not paying attention, not holding accountable, not helping. No matter how much I scrolled, there was nothing aside from anger, threats, and digital fingers pointed at the other side. The outrage was never ending and I was insatiable…pools of sweat formed around my elbows as I clicked, searched, and scrolled for something to fill the internal hole. My chest grew tight, I held my breath, and then…Roz rang the bell to be let outside, breaking the spell. In my driveway, I inhaled sweltering air into my lungs.

Earlier in the year, when I was in the hospital after a car attempted to use my body as a speed bump, a nurse with short hair and stature, told me that my lungs were collapsing. I hadn’t even realized it. It seemed like something I’d feel, or at the very least, I’d find out about when a team of attractive doctors were screaming “HER LUNGS ARE COLLAPSING” to each other while trying to save my life. “Are you sure?” I asked the nurse, surprised I hadn’t noticed.

“This sometimes happens after major surgery,” she responded. Ah, makes sense, I thought, realizing that I now had a new, more distant, relationship with my reconstructed body and its mysterious inner workings. “You have to exercise your lungs so they don’t fully collapse,” she explained while holding a plastic toy-like contraption. She pretended to blow into the blue tube attached to the contraption, “You blow like this, to keep this,” she pointed to the yellow ball, “floating between here and here,” she said showing off an empty space between two lines. “Now you try,” she handed me the toy. I briefly considered screaming into the tube just to, you know, shake things up a bit, give her a story to tell her family when she was done with her shift. “I had the strangest patient today,” she’d say while pulling a $5 tub of spinach from the fridge. Instead, I blew into the tube, because I am forever and always obedient.

The ball barely made it into the chamber before crashing to the bottom of the contraption. A jolt of pain exploded in my chest, bringing with it a vision of my sad lungs limply hanging from my trachea like deflated birthday balloons. (I wanted to write “like an empty scrotum” but it seemed weird and inappropriate to compare the two. Still, I think that’s a more apt visual.) “Keep practicing, ten to fifteen times an hour,” the short nurse said before disappearing.

Sometimes, when I’m on the internet for too long. My lungs begin to feel like deflated balloons again, like they’re collapsing. I’ll be slumped at my computer, gulping in air, none of which seems to make it to my diaphragm. It’s only when something breaks me out of the trance, like a hungry puppy asking to go outside, that I remember to breathe properly, to keep the ball in the air.

I gave Roz her lunch an hour and twenty-four minutes late. She scarfed down the meal in a manner that implied, “This is the first time I’ve ever eaten in my whole life!” I will be better about what I consume and what consumes me, I promised her little back. After gently recommending that she slow down, I headed over to my nightstand and grabbed The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes.

I plopped onto the couch and cracked the book’s spine, the sound a comforting harbinger of peace. Moments later a cold, wet nose pressed into the bottom of my calf reminding me that not everything is always so hot and unbearable.


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Hi.

“Hi.” is the third title I settled on. First, I wrote “Hello?” but then couldn’t get Adele’s “Hello?” out of my head. Remember when everyone was titling things “Hello from the other side?” I miss that internet. You know the one where trolls just ate away at your soul and not the soul of society?

My second title was “Hey!” but that’s too casual and upbeat. I’ve never been a casual and upbeat person, though that’s certainly the personality I work hardest to project. So here it is, option number three: Hi. For the sake of blowing the dust off the mantel that is this blog, I’ll just keep it to that.

There’s so much I want to follow up with, so many stories and things that have happened in the four years since I’ve written. If I think too hard about what to tell you first, I’ll never say anything.

So for now, let me just touch base and say Hi. I’m not even sure if anyone will see this, but if you do I want you to know I’m thinking about you out there. There’s a lot going on and I hope that you’re okay. Also, how absurd is it to blog in your 30s?! Who cares about the heady ramblings of a sweaty chick in Los Angeles? Probably no one. But that’s the beauty of blogging, no one needs to care for you to do it.

Are you okay?

People who grew up with me know that I was an enormous fan of Michael Jackson. I built a shrine to him in my bedroom and sat humming his lyrics at it each night. One time, I climbed onto the table of my shrine to hang a new photo and fell through. The top was made of glass, you see, and I was a very heavy child. Not bright either. I wasn’t injured because there was a Michael Jackson table cloth covering the top which prevented me from bleeding to death. I genuinely believed that the spirit of Michael Jackson, who was still very much alive at that point, protected me from my own stupidity. Read the rest of this entry »

Barbie Girl. Barbie World.

“Nope. I’ll never come to LA.” My computer barks at me. On the screen is a friend who Skyped in to catch up. Her see-through, blonde hair is neatly braided to the side of her head. It falls across her porcelain shoulder, resting on her porcelain chest. When I ask her why she has such a distaste for Los Angeles she says, “It’s all barbie dolls and fake people.” Read the rest of this entry »

Jack in the Box

Be mean. Be mean. Be mean. I whisper to the mirror. My meeting with Marilu is in five minutes and I need to convert my anger into verbal fuel. I contort my face into the position I kept it in as a teenager. I look like a real B-I-T-C-H. Good. I grab my keys and head out the door.

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Good Writers Are In Danger of Becoming Extinct

Sylvia Plath would’ve killed herself sooner if the internet were around when she was writing her poetry. Can you imagine if her editor said she needed to have a larger online presence? So, being the passionate, aspiring writer that she was, she posted “Daddy” on her Tumblr only to receive a message which read: “u r a fat bitch, entitled cunt who should kill URSELF.” It’s enough to make anyone recoil from the internet, let alone an emotionally unstable writer months away from suicide.

Read the rest of this entry »

Random Internet Encounters

“I’ve had cyber-sex before,” my 10-year-old cousin casually stated while flipping her butt-length ponytail from one shoulder to the other. I was 9 at the time and my mind was blown. Someone I knew was having sex — and apparently, it was so out-of-this-world that it belonged in virtual reality. Read the rest of this entry »

Closure.

A year ago today I woke up in a hospital in Taiwan. I was in physical and mental pain. I knew that I would end up in there eventually and I guess, that day was the day. A big reason was because I worked for a person who told me I was a waste of time, wasn’t good at what I did and that I’d never find anything better than where I was. And I believed him. Another reason was the bottle of whisky I drank.

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The Hug Heard ‘Round The World

In the final installment of The Dear Diaries I graduate and “hug a lot of people and guys”. I also work up the courage to hug my long-time crush. Thank you to all of those who read these silly things. I hope you found them as funny as I did. Read the rest of this entry »

Corn Rolls

In the fifth installment of The Dear Diaries I survive my own death threats and find a graduation dress. I make yet another hair decision I can’t undo and I promise to “write later when sad”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Meet my son, Agador Aspartagus

In the fourth installment of The Dear Diaries I still struggle with the spelling of tired and find a way to ensure neither of my metaphorical children will ever have sex. P.S. The best part is the P.S. Read the rest of this entry »

First Boyfriend

In the third installment of “The Dear Diaries” series I discuss my first boyfriend and what happened to us.

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A bunch of loosers (sic).

In the second installment of The Dear Diaries I bitch about my mom not letting me go to the mall and discuss a raunchy dream I had. I have yet to master how to properly spell “tired”.

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Homecoming

I was your typical miserable teenager. So when I stumbled upon a diary from 2002 I couldn’t help but recoil in fear of what my twisted young mind emptied out on to those pages.

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Give me a word, any word

If I’m ever on the cover of a magazine I’d request to get my armpits airbrushed, my left breast photoshopped so it’s even with my right and I’d possibly get some adult acne removed. But I know, for a fact, I would never want my words to be photoshopped.
Read the rest of this entry »

Home Movies

You really shouldn’t leave 5-year-olds on the roof of your car but my dad needed to get the shot. There I lay, one hand gripping the edge of his white suzuki, the other gripping a milk jug filled with water. My cousins began pushing the car back and forth, my uncle yelled “Action” and I began to make it rain.

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Top Down, Windows Up

Jason expectedly died earlier in the day and I was furious with myself for crying so much. I could tell my tears were making Allen nervous. I wish it were more socially appropriate to carry on a conversation while crying. Read the rest of this entry »

20. Tell a Story at a Moth Event [Theme: Home]

I was 16 when I tried to commit suicide. I remember standing on the edge of the roof of my family’s home, looking past my toes when my mom stepped out for a cigarette. She made eye contact with me, realized what I was trying to do and yelled:

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The Things I’ve Done

When I was in high school, I fell in love with a man named Lucas. He was older than me, wore all black and drove a motorcycle. But I knew Lucas and I would never end up together. For one, I was awkward and scared of anything I thought could get me pregnant and for two he was a fictional character from the movie Empire Records.

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Yes Smoking!

I am leaning out the window of my childhood bedroom. My hips are propped on the frame and my left hand is planted on the garage roof below. My right hand is holding a cigarette. I know that at any moment my mother may burst in and catch me smoking. If she does, she’ll probably slam the window shut; trapping my upper half outside and leaving my lower half exposed for a good ol’ fashioned spanking. But that’s just the risk I’ll have to take right now.

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P.S. A Break Up Letter

Dear Taiwan,

You’re so cute. Look at you, under all of your umbrella-riddled glory. Oh my god! Is that a peace sign you’re making with your fingers? Peace be with you too. Can a Jew even say that? This one can!

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Four Jokes and A Funeral

My least favorite time was when two men were performing sexual favors on each other. What they were doing didn’t bother me as much as the fact that they weren’t listening to me. They were in a dark corner at the back of the room, making sure third base was thoroughly satisfied before they’d leave the bar to hit that home run we all so desperately crave.

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Journalism is Dead (To Me)

I want to make one thing clear: I do not think “journalism is dead.” In fact, I think journalism is the ‘Madonna’ of professions; it will get face lifts until it outlives us all. This is a post about my decision to stop trying to be a journalist.
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Why don’t you write more?

Every morning around 6 am I get home from work. I shield my eyes from the sun and scuttle into my apartment. I stare at the computer for two hours before adjusting my glare to the ceiling. Sometimes I fall asleep. Most of the time I don’t.

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30 Before 30

We were going to be famous. We were so excited about our idea, a second bottle of wine was opened just for the occasion. “We’ll call it 30 before 30!” Tessa yelled as her wine sloshed back and forth in the glass. I was frantically writing everything down. Read the rest of this entry »

For the love of Brazilian waxes

I wasn’t sure if the woman about to go to second base with me spoke English or not, but she had delicate features and a nice smile so I trusted her. Read the rest of this entry »

DKK in NYC

“I’m not that kind of girl!” Dan squealed, his eyes twinkling under the florescent lights. We’d stopped for a couple of glasses of wine before heading to Juilliard. I felt like the Queen of New York. Lightly resting his fingertips on the rim of his wine glass, he leaned in to tell me something juicy and wonderful. Read the rest of this entry »

Note to self.

I found this note I wrote to myself: Read the rest of this entry »

FOUND&LOST

I am sucker for handwritten notes. Any kind, really, but especially ones I find in public. I feel sneaky peaking into someone else’s life through their writing. The notes are usually; grocery lists, nonsensical words, numbers, etc.

Today I found this little treat folded up on top of some moisturizer at a department store in Dazhi: Read the rest of this entry »

In a New York State of Mind pt. 2

I started writing here when I moved to New York with the intention of chronicling every lesson I’d learned after college, it wouldn’t feel right not to have a summary. Here it is: Read the rest of this entry »

A Quarter-Life Crisis

“If you were stranded on an island and could only bring three things what would they be?” I hated playing this game in summer camp. Do your parents count as two things? What kind of outlets does this island have? Do they speak a different language? Will there be boys there? The answers didn’t really matter because I always ended up choosing the same things; my parents, beanie baby collection and stuffed dog, Lucky. Read the rest of this entry »

Playin’ Catch Up

Sprinting through the airport, I vowed to start exercising the second I got to Taiwan. There are multiple reasons why I hate running through airports, first and foremost: my travel backpack. As if my 5′ 2” frame and chronic baby-weight don’t already make me look like high schooler, running with a backpack surely seals the deal. Read the rest of this entry »

Jay’s Rules: A Father’s Day Eulogy

Five black dresses hung in my dressing room; two were too small, one made me look like a hussie, one had a curious stain on it and the other one was perfect for emulating the body of a pregnant woman. I went with the dress that made me look like a hussie. Exactly one day and a handful of hours later, I was tugging at that dress in front of 30 people I didn’t know, three people I knew, and a casket. Read the rest of this entry »

6 Months Ago

I didn’t publish this in January because I felt like it was too narcissistic. Now I’ve learned to be proud of the little things.

A 2011 annual report for this blog – by WordPress.
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Just Pray

He stuck his fist out in front of him and looked at me with a comical sense of seriousness, “Are you with me?” I’d never been in a bar fight before. The situation sounded anecdotally appetizing, but I’d never fully developed into the bottle-breaking, bar-fighting, bad-ass I needed to be for this situation. I clenched my fist even tighter around the little slip of paper as I shoved it into my pocket. Read the rest of this entry »

Career Day

“A TOAST!” Leslie yelled, smashing her butter knife against a mimosa glass. It’s 1PM on New Year’s Day and I have yet to go home and yet to stop drinking. “To the Apocalypse! Let’s quit our jobs, spend our money, and have the greatest year of our lives!” Read the rest of this entry »

What Can Dr. Brown Do For You?

I started up the steps to Lewis’ apartment, I hate ending things, I really do. Why isn’t this 2002? I could just do it via AIM, but NOOOO I have to be responsible and do it to his face…ugh. After over a month of seeing him, I knew things weren’t going to work out. Read the rest of this entry »

Pot & Condoms

“Okay Marina, I have to go google Russian penis jokes for your interview tomorrow. Bye bye!” My father said not waiting for a response. I guess I should explain how we got to this point. Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas is Cancelled.

My mother covers the camera on our family computer because according to her, “The government is watching us.” Why the U.S. government is watching two retirement-aged Russians, who have yet to learn how to properly pronounce the letter ‘V’, is beyond me. I try not to question my parents’ antics so I don’t run out of things to write about. Read the rest of this entry »