When I’m Not Around

Dec 28, 1991
Saturday

It’s such a silly thing to love.
Believe me, no one is missing anything. You pour your heart out to someone and then—snap! Love is a parasite. It consumes your whole being and lives in your core to suck out the splinters of your fading false hopes just to replace it with worse ones. You become so used to the pain you’ll think it’s a good thing. Well, here’s the truth. Love resides in you to pester and paint your panting heart a plagued gray sky. It eats you up until you become nothing but a dark, unforgiving entity stitched up with regret.

May 28, 1992
Thursday

I can hear them screaming again.
They stopped paying attention to me when I was seven. I was playing by the fireplace with Waddles, my stuffed pig and only friend. They were arguing about money when she put my hand in the fire. It didn’t seem to have any effect on him, though. He stood there blankly as if nothing happened. Then he burned Waddles. I remember that because it was my birthday.

Nov 9, 1992
Monday

No one has initiated any conversation with me for 139 days. I walk alone. I eat alone. 26 of us are cramped up in 1 classroom. 3 windows. 4 walls. 350 square feet of space.

Someone talked to me today.
He said his name was Crest/Chrest/Krest. I said I don’t care and why are you talking to me. He said that he has read all the pieces I wrote for the school paper. That’s odd. No one has ever talked to me outside of my club before, not unless I talk to them first. He told me he was willing to pay me for every poem—at any length—for ten dollars! This slick must really be desperate. I don’t know what it’s for. Anyway, I don’t care. As long as there’s money involved, there won’t be a problem.

Nov 11, 1992
Wednesday

Fasten Your Neck Belts

You feel too much, young girl.
Nobody ever fathoms the shallow sense of emotion you have.
They all look at you with amusement and pity;
whoever notices seems apathetic anyway.
You are in your self destruct mode,
please do not go haywire there.
Because they will not care
or will be too busy to even see.

You are not alone, young girl,
but others are hard to find.
They crawl beneath their own skins
to satisfy the guilt of being alive.
They scream in shades of fervor and anguish,
but you see, others don’t listen
even if their tear-filled eyes continue to glisten…
just like you, they retreat in their shells.

Stop asking why, young girl.
They do not feel what you feel because you are special,
and you deserve to be punished
for being who you are.
Yes, they see that rope too.
Don’t be afraid to wear it,
no one will ever notice even a bit
of how swiftly this will go.

Alas, they will now be asking questions, young girl.
And then they will suddenly care.
And then blame themselves for not realizing
how you were so different
and special
and unique.
They will put on their plastic frowns—
the same ones they wear twice a week.

After the years have passed they will not have known,
how you cared so much
you’ve seen the trees all grown.
They will visit your grave
but it will be too late.
You once tugged your mother at the hem
and you feel nothing now, just like them.
Aren’t they proud?

Jan 8, 1993
Friday

I am a product of love.
And as you see, I’m nothing exquisite. I am a bland mix of broken promises interwoven with ragged demeanor and I live in a house near the river. But a goof named Crest (he turns out to be a Crest, not a Krest or Chrest) insists on walking me, a bad news, home. I don’t mind, he makes me rich anyway. I have exactly sent him 17 poems. I didn’t get the reaction I wanted to get from him on my first one; he finds it appealing. It’s entitled as Fasten Your Neck Belts. It was about suicide.

June 11, 1993
Friday

I know what it feels like to be loved.
Love is when you lock yourself in your room for 28 hours, eating only your salty tears for the day. Love is holding back your whimpers while storing the fear of being slapped by your father inside a gray fanny pack. Love is when he shouts at you with boiling rage as he plugs off the computer from the socket while you’re busy with it, leaving your work unsaved. Love is stopping by your parents’ room at 3 am when you can’t fall asleep because of your allergies, then your mom tells you to fuck off.

Love is a lot of things.
Love is strange.

August 5, 1993
Thursday

Someone gave me a gift.
I find it quite amusing to think that someone (who may be entirely nuts) had the guts to waste money on me. It seems that I have been given two cotton hankies and a bandana. “Lana,” the note says. “These are for your tears when I’m not around.” -TSERC

August 8, 1993
Sunday

Apparently TSERC backwards is CREST.
It has been three days. Still no word from him. “These are for your tears when I’m not around.” Makes much more sense now. This weird sensation keeps on crawling inside me again. Why do I long for someone I don’t care about? What is this? And why hasn’t he called back?

December 7, 1993
Tuesday

I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane.
I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane.
I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane.
I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane.
I am not insane. I am not insane.

I am falling in love.

February 20, 1994
Sunday

“I love you,”
were his last words
to me.

April 7, 1994
Thursday

There are times when I can’t prevent myself from thinking about his bright cocoa-colored eyes that seem to always tell the truth. When someone passes by with the same flimsy hair-do and an identical back, for a split-second I swear it’s him. Then I’d see that the guy’s hair was more blonde than brown. I can’t help but think about how every random passerby reminds me so much of him it feels like I’m about to erupt a thousand fragments of a sunset’s hue.

September 3, 1994
Saturday

Of course, I changed. I finally had the courage to step out of the rims of my abusive parents’ war zone. It’s breathtaking to see how your life suddenly redirects, as if an invisible switch is accidentally flipped open.

August 26, 1996
Monday

A beige notepad sits in front of me.
The package arrived two days ago, two minutes after noon. Before I opened the carton box I remember scooting over the wooden chair near the mirror to catch a glimpse of the bandanna wrapped around my head. I tried hard not to remember him. I tried. I recollected all my remaining courage to unbox the parcel and two seconds later I was lying on the floor with a notebook on my chest.

1 notepad.
31 pages.
23 poems.
1 name, 5 letters, and a handwritten note.

“I’m coming back,” it says. “Wait for me.”

.
.
.

((Inspired by Tahereh Mafi and Jean Webster))

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You feel too much, young girl.
Nobody ever fathoms the shallow sense of emotion you have.
They all look at you with amusement and pity;
whoever notices seems apathetic anyway.
You are in your self destruct mode,
please do not go haywire there.
Because they will not care
or will be too busy to even see.
You are not alone, young girl,
but others are hard to find.
They crawl beneath their own skins
to satisfy the guilt of being alive.
They scream in shades of fervor and anguish,
but you see, others don’t listen
even if their tear-filled eyes continues to glisten…
just like you, they retreat in their shells.
Stop asking why, young girl.
They do not feel what you feel because you are special,
and you deserve to be punished
for being who you are.
Yes, they see that rope too.
Don’t be afraid to wear it,
no one will ever notice even a bit
of how swiftly this will go.
Alas, they will now be asking questions, young girl.
And then they will suddenly care.
And then blame themselves for not realizing
how you were so different
and special
and unique.
They will put on their plastic frowns—
the same ones they wear twice a week.
After the years have passed they will not have known,
how you cared so much
you’ve seen the trees full grown.
They will visit just to say sorry and sorry and sorry
but it will be too late.
You once tugged your brother at the hem
and you feel nothing now, just like them.
Aren’t they proud?

Dear future husband

I do not waste my time and energy on useless conversations, love. Talk to me about your fears. Or what keeps you going. Tell me about your dreams, your thoughts, and your eyes. How do you like to see things through them? Tell me the first time you were able to forgive yourself. Tell me a story, a good story. Maybe about a little boy who fell in love with painting and never stopped. Or a teenager with that fucking fear of asking a girl out. Or that “live in the moment” kind of man who stepped out of his comfort zone raising a middle finger at life.

See, I crave long and intimate conversations at 1:58. But not the kind that makes you want to have sex. I have my own definition of intimacy.
I want to hear what you think. I want to feel the warmth of your soul. I want to unravel you without being naked.
Take me to an art museum and then stare at me like I’m a masterpiece.
Kiss me while I’m in the middle of saying something.
Tell me if I’m being a pain in the ass.
Pick fights with me, spoil me, drag me to the roof and convince me how important it is to see how beautiful the stars are tonight.
Handle my feelings with care and I will love you forever.
Give me your heart and in return,
I will give you
my word.

 

(photographer yet unknown)

I Will Never

No matter how much the wait stings
or how much you annoy me
or how often you try to kid around just to make me laugh
I will never
ever
tell you
that I love you
because by that time
you would have known it already
or guessed, maybe
you will smile
and wonder what it feels like to be held
by the universe
and I,
I will smile back.
For that will be the moment
that you
will have completely known
that the you you are now and the you you will be
is loved
by me.

(Photographer yet unknown)

I think

On my way home, I was thinking.

It may sound crazy, because we’re always thinking. When you’re about to make a choice, you think. When something really bad or really good happens, you think. You think about everything. You’ve had words in the back of your mind even before any of it comes out of your mouth. In short, thinking is part of being human.

I was in a deep state in thought, and then here it goes again. I don’t know why I keep stumbling upon one of the demons that was assigned to me at birth. Its name was Insecurity. We don’t usually hang out, but I often feed it. I don’t know why. I give in to it when it whispers on my left ear, telling me I’m still not good enough despite of all the things I’ve done and accomplished in my age. “I’m a different kind of insecurity,” it told me one time. “I’m independent.” A little startled, I asked, “What does independent mean?” I knew what it meant. However, in order for me not to question the things I think about, I listened to its answer. “It means I don’t need anyone or anything to make you feel insecure,” it said. “I let you think it all . . . so that you’d wish you had more than just this.

It was months later when I understood what Insecurity meant. Because I was feeling it again. But this time I had not give in, instead I was just thinking, thinking, and thinking. I did not oppose it, but I did not also agree with it. And I think I know why…

Because it’s life.

And life will be life even after we stopped existing. I understand things when I think about them deeply, not harshly. And that was the moment I kissed fate. Screw it. You lose some and you gain some.

It’s like a pair of shorts I found at a mall with my friend. I had money to buy it, but it was too small for me. It was the size of my friend, but she didn’t have the money to buy it. And I thought about how people are linked in that very same situation. You wish you are someone else but another person wishes to be you. And that’s what Insecurity was telling me. “I let you think it all… so that you’d wish you had more than just this.”

It was the moment I knew I wasn’t having a normal affair with words in my head like every time. I was really thinking. Like, genuine thoughts splash in my mind every 5 seconds. I imagine words flowing in and out of the view. I was having a conversation with my soul, and it tasted like hope. Never will I be the most positive thinker I know. Never will I have the most ecstatic mind in all of earth. But just having a nurturing sense of self acceptance, I was limitless. That was one of the rarest moments I felt like I was myself, in this world surrounded by people who think they are better than everyone else. I was thinking that I was not. We posses the same qualities as humans, but as I go further I realize that I’m not better than everyone else, just different, just unique.

I was thinking about the world. I was thinking about me. I was thinking about how we were all so different and yet the same. I was thinking about life. I was thinking about everything I never imagined I could think of. I accepted things as they were. I closed my eyes and felt my surroundings. I was breathing. Still breathing. And once again it felt extraordinary, because I now knew what it’s like to have deep talks with my soul without leaving internal scars. It tasted like freedom.

It tasted like hope.

 

(artwork by Henn Kim)

An open letter to the guy who doesn’t deserve me

*For all the times you sent me sweet good night texts or attended my plays or watched something I said was good. For all the times you had no one and I cared about you so much I couldn’t leave you alone. For all the times we were actually friends.

Dear Jo,

I have always hated the way you talk to me. I was just too blind to notice since my feelings were “partly cloudy” because of you. I wrote you a poem. Damn. I wrote you a hundred poems. I hate you. Fuck you. Fuck. You. I hope you die and go to hell.

Your haircut sucks. You look like a demented iguana. I want to punch you in the face so bad. I hate you for making me feel like SHIT. Oh yeah, you wanted to feel good about yourself. I was your safety net. But guess what?  FUCK YOU. I am not falling for you. And your sweet moves. Never again.

I am an independent and beautiful young woman. I shouldn’t be crying because of pricks like you. My mind is a complex whirlpool of secrets that you don’t deserve. Because you suck.

I fell for that stupid smile you make when you try to annoy me. Well, fuck your smile. Fuck your witty opinions. Fuck your carefree attitude. Fuck everything about you. I could snatch your eyeballs and sell it. I am so moving on. I’ve actually come up with twenty three ways on how to kill you.

Jo dear, I know you always loved to kid around but I am not a joke. I am not a kid. I don’t like jokes. And I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. And I hate you for making me hate you.

You suck.

(Artist yet unknown)

Blue

When the music starts,
it doesn’t feel like something nice.
The trees say hello
but the doors bang louder.
It keeps on telling you
you can’t
because you’re blue,
you’re blue,
you’re blue.
The tides splash in unison
that swallow you whole
down the seabed,
around the ocean floor.
When you tell yourself it’s time you do,
they remind you that  you’re blue you’re blue you’re blue.

The streaks of your long, vibrant hair
fall under your lower hip.
But why do you sell yourself short?

The color of your eyes begins to fade
and your life has been miserable for the past decade.
When the only person you can trust
is you,
it’s hard to forget
the blue,
your blue,
you’re blue.

(Artist yet unknown)