Eyes Open #WorkForHappy

(Or Alternatively, “Turning Twenty And Realizing My Eyes Have Been Shut The Whole Time: A Brief Birthday Reflection”)

Ascending into the two-decade old plane of existence was almost anti-climactic, but to be fair, it had to close a rather turbulent turn of the globe. Since last year, August 31, 2017, I have taken four total double 10+ hour bus rides, snared a dream role at a start-up publication, and even started dating a rather dashing lad who has an affinity for calling me a water buffalo in his free time.

At the same time I have screamed, panicked, had a handful of crises (less in comparison, though), was ghosted, and learned what it’s like to be between jobs about… five times. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the Mercury retrograde – I don’t even believe in that stuff and I still felt it in my bones that something was off in the heavens when I couldn’t even sip tea without burning my tongue.

tanyashatseva
Artwork by Tanya Shatseva

I survived 20 years of life. That’s cause for celebration, even if the sky doesn’t glow for me. The main difference between this year and the year before that is probably just how much I have matured.

Once I turned 20, I was faced with a very real responsibility – growing the fuck up. Being 19 was the last time I could plead being a teenager.

Do I miss this trump card? I thought I would. Do I still reach for it as if it’s still in my pocket? You bet your ass, I do.

The earth didn’t exactly pause in its orbit the moment I was born one humid Monday night in a Lester hospital, and it didn’t twenty years later either. The occasion was marked poignantly by my mother, who not only was celebrating my birthday, but the moment she officially became a mother. Every milestone and accomplishment in my life belongs, in part, to her as well.

My eyes were closed for my teenage years, and my mother had to remind me again that my eyes are hers, and she will not let me screw them shut any longer. I opened my eyes, witnessed everything I chose to ignore about myself, and realized that there’s a marked difference between walking through the dark, and walking with your eyes determinedly shut.

“You are my eyes, and I want you to see the world for me.” My mother never misses an opportunity to tell me this. Any moment I have self-doubt, or feel like a failure, I am reminded to open my eyes for her.

…there’s a marked difference between walking through the dark, and walking with your eyes determinedly shut. [Click to tweet!]

I have survived twenty years of existence, and now I am now en route of my twenty-first, I have decided not only to survive, but thrive. This sounds a bit tired, since everyone has a bit of a resolution when they get older, usually more and more sombre with every passing year.

My resolution, however, isn’t just to sit down and grow up – I want to grow. Perhaps now I am resourceful enough to actually push myself to do so, now, with eyes wide open.

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Siren Song

I remember my first voyage into the eye of a storm.

elesq2
artwork by elesq

It began as an inbred curiosity, the sort of thing you repress until it feels like if you don’t venture out, you might as well shrivel into nothing. I untied myself from the dock, and let the waves carry me out to where I thought I might be meant to be.

I could taste the purple storm building on the horizon with familiar bitterness, clouding around me until I was roped into an inevitable disaster. Continue reading “Siren Song”

Before Him

huigorou
artwork by Dahui Wang

Date a boy who doesn’t love you.

Date a boy whose eyes hold the stars and the moon, a boy whose hands are warm because they hold the sun. Date a boy who looks through you, searching something else in the crowd. Date a boy who makes you realize your own inconsequence, a boy who takes and takes until you are left with nothing but dusty text messages that once made your world spin. Date a boy whom you love, but doesn’t love you back.

Date a boy whom you don’t love. Continue reading “Before Him”

Why I Don’t Believe In The Right To An Opinion (Or How To Piss Off Everyone In Your Vicinity)

Opinions are so damn complicated. We’re human, right? I think so. Whether you believe humanity is just an abstract concept or not is up to you, really. It’s not for me to decide what you have to think.

What do I think of opinions? You’d think, at this point, I have some kind of riff with it, but I really don’t. In fact, I bloody love opinions. Opinions are the best. Opinions are what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. It’s what makes us… human. Again, whether you believe in that humanity stuff is up to you.

My problem isn’t opinions, no. My problem is people with opinions, or to put it more eloquently, people with opinions who just don’t shut up.

Continue reading “Why I Don’t Believe In The Right To An Opinion (Or How To Piss Off Everyone In Your Vicinity)”

Perspective of Love, Perspective of Hate

 

The prince is not a hero. I am half man, half beast. I navigate dim lit streets like a nocturnal creature, the eyes shimmering like rough cut diamonds as I float down the steps, farther and deeper into my own tangled mind. I find myself in a tight black box. I can’t breathe here, I can’t think here, I am forever trapped in eternal freefall here. I am secured only by the tethers of my own mistakes, their ropes wrapped around my throat. I can bite them away and swallow them whole, so they coil at the pit of my stomach like cobras. The enormous thorns which erupt from my chest are the color of night, the color of rot, the color of blood on snow. I am obscure, I am desperate. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, after all.

The prince is not a royal. I sit at a table with quiet countenance, the feast of my victims spread out before me; the flesh of myth, the drink of elderflower, a table shrouded in white cloth. I bite into people’s trust in me and keep it caged behind my teeth, so that my grin remains crooked. I am the fly in the ointment, the chink in the armor. I am an eyeball, bloody and shriveled but forever unblinking. I sit amongst the romantics. The gamers, the lovers. The goddamn haters. My lips are thin, drawn, and pale. My hair is sleek and twisted. My nose is curved like the beak of a predatory eagle. My brain is sheltered from the maggots whizzing around my head, but they are nothing compared to the monstrosities that I keep safe in a bomb shelter. My ribs are a cage to a wild hairy animal. It is savage, relentless, wicked. No one wiped my tears away except dead men. So I decided: a dead man I will be.

The prince is not a martyr. I did it because I could. Behind me there is only a jagged cliff, steep and sharp and insistent and appealing. My wrists smell faintly of iron, my breath reeks of red wine, and my tongue is sleek and smooth and silver. I direct bodies because they’re cargo, my sadistic nature is what renders me a double edged sword. My voice is baritone, deeper than the gashes in my torso, more piercing than the toxic knock off words I use to trick the shadows onto my side. I keep quiet and sneer instead, my dirty hands shake, my conviction wavers, my kneecaps knock together. The knock, knock, knock will haunt me forever, echoing in the ant hill of my mind: I am a coward, I am a coward, I am a coward. The ants eat me alive.

The prince is not lenient. I am a master of strings. I manipulate children and old men alike, and my grudges become tools I use to hack away at the ice that has enveloped my secrets for so long. I am paranoid, angry, deserving. I am determined to be the better one. I am determined to win this boxing match to the stabbing sound of the bell. I am determined to make sure that my grave is unmarked, that the memories that seep like ethereal pearls down my sallow cheeks are gifted. They are presented with the bravado I always sought.


He’s a silly little man. He lives freely in glittering caves infested with the roaches of desire, so he immunized himself from germs with a vodka shot of vengeance. He cracked open his rib bones between his fists and built a bridge across the universe to find an oasis of silence, of peace, of sleep. One can finally tell him that his enduring pain and his tarnished legacy is worth the glory he stole from the demon who murdered them.

He’s a naïve man. He loved with all his heart. His spirit is a delicate doe, skipping ahead over icy lakes and tilted mountains that stretch around him, encompassing him like the arms of the companion he never had the chance to cherish.

He’s a poor man. He is bruised black and blue by the fists of a pure blooded father, he has scars left over by the screams of his mother that drilled into his head like five inch screws; and yet, he tries. He lost the path in a big bad forest, just a child himself, pink faced and innocent and alone, preyed on by a pack of unrelenting wolves. He became a feral child. He didn’t mean to become a grey miser, a fool with an irrevocably stubborn heart.

He is a lonely man. He is the sad sod sitting on a city park bench at two in the morning, twiddling his thumbs and watching yellow and orange passersby, hoping someone, anyone, would approach and understand the weight of his red sacrifices that shine in the endless pits of his eyes. He’s a trained monkey, a neglected member of the A-team, an undeniably sharp mind rusted by his exposure to doomed destiny. The yolk of his innate being spilled out the multiple rough cut holes in his body, which were poked and ripped by the pins and needles he stuck into his once sun kissed skin, hoping it would be enough.

He’s a fighting man. He’s a sympathiser for the clueless and the loveless, the wide eyed and the grappling; he was one of them. And yet, he sees light in the potential in those he detests, and he spins misfortune into gold with skilled craftsmanship. He knows that under layers and layers of security protocols and brick walls fortified by steel, he cares. He cares. He cares.

Make your magic, pretty man. Smell the incense of funeral candles, embrace the comforting freeze of wintery cold that trails you in your wake, and feel the harsh wind of your broken promises ravaging your face until you ascend clean faced and ready. Baptise yourself in the purity of mercy, and immerse yourself in the smothering aroma of lily flowers that are melted in the hot spring running through your veins.

Let Them Paint Rainbows

rainbow

We’ve watched you for eons.

You’ve untied yourselves from our careless fingers long ago, but the new control has made you falter. We immortals know that you lead lives like mayflies, seeking little things to make your confusion more bearable.

We watch you try to handle the mess you’ve created. The society that once thrived now hangs by a single string of sinew. We observe in determined silence as you gas each other in the name of new Gods, beat one another to a pulp, and kiss the blood on your bruised knuckles. Children are empty and bloated, crying for justice.

Sometimes we like to discuss all this like stuffy movie critics in an abandoned theatre. The tunnel, for example.

“Wicked,” breathes Persephone, flowers escaping every crevice of her body. She means “wicked” in every sense of the word.

“They are,” mutters Aphrodite while examining her nails, the faint smell of saltwater still clinging to her skin.

“It’s called a rainbow,” I explain self-importantly, “How quaint. Even the name tells us something about their nature: as it rains grey and the sky rips itself apart, a small ribbon of sunlight pulls the entire thing together like a present. Thus, a rain-bow.”

“It’s just a silly metaphor, Athena” says Ares to me, his voice which used to scream battle cries now cracked from disuse.

“For what?” ventures a humming Muse from the stage. Her sisters sit around her languidly as they play with each other’s hair.

“Themselves,” he answers with gritted teeth, “they make things pretty to ignore the world falling around them.”

“We disagree,” the Muses harmonize, notes dangling dangerously in the air, “they paint, sing, dance, and create, all for the strength to continue.”

“’Continue’?” Ares drawls.

“They chant your name as they march into battle, don’t they?”

“’Battle’?” he scoffs softly, “there is no ‘battle’. Only destruction. I don’t stand for that.”

“They seek hope,” the Muses continue, strumming chords on their heart strings, “they create beauty to assure themselves they aren’t responsible for only… destruction.”

“Their creation doesn’t outweigh their destruction,” Ares growls.

“Oh, come off it. They’re hardly living in the Garden of Eden anymore,” I sigh.

“Yeah, they screwed that up almost instantly,” Hera snaps from her dusty throne.

“Listen, it’s about their own concern for happiness. Look at this tunnel. It exists because a boy from Norway thought it was depressing that no one ever looked up as they walked through the city; he gave them a reason to.”

“What the hell is Norway?”

“Oh, never mind. You’re hopeless.”

“They’re going too fast, and they know it,” Ares grumbles, pulling his helmet visor shut as he leans back, ready to doze some more, “they don’t want to accept reality, so they make things ‘pretty’ for the sake of having something pretty.”

“They’re trying, though,” I whisper, peering again between the cracks in the clouds, “Humans are flawed because we created them. Let them have hope, at least. Let them paint rainbows.”