for tonight and the rest of my life

I ran through the dimly lit night with the familiar thumping at my neck, except this time I wasn’t running away. I ran to you, your car hidden behind my neighbor’s fence. The seat felt like a purr, and we slunk off before speeding into the night.

Somewhere between ordering food and watching a movie, we brushed our teeth together. The mirror I became familiar with over the past two weeks reflected a much older couple, one that seemed to have a mortgage to pay and shifts to attend. Perhaps I was far beyond my bedtime to make sense of the world, much less my own place in it, but there was the future gazing back at us hardly an arm’s length away.

I found my limbs and fingers tangled with yours under that sunset orange of your salt lamp. I remembered the times you grazed your fingertips on my face and crooned on about my skin like I was a star, like how I seemed so soft and how I seemed to glow. But that night you glowed even brighter with every pulse and breath I felt against my cheek. Your arms wrapped around me like tendrils of light, squeezing me into warmth in the cold evening. I fell asleep in the moon, on a crater made by the cradle of your body. There wasn’t a dream worth watching when I could’ve opened my eyes and done the same thing I did every other night with my eyes shut.

Waking up was a cloudy haze but I still believe the first thing you said was that you loved me, and the first thing I said was that I loved you too but with the words sleepily shuffled around. You still felt like a dream returning me to my house. The highways were empty, and you mentioned how quickly we reached them without all of the traffic. And I, in a naively romantic reverie, toyed with the idea that the universe was made to fit just the two of us.

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here is a first date

Here you are sitting across from me. A cup of shaved ice flavored white with some “Jamaican rum” syrup (which tasted a little like stale Pina colada)  sat in front of you, melting into sticky sweetness like I was while watching you fish out a Jenga piece from the tower.  Your face was as steady as your hands, eyes and fingers concentrated. The tower nudged towards me but it never fell. I scowled with a smile. You smiled back in defiance. This was a game, and we were in love. I pulled a piece from a side of the tower because I always play to win. You, in all your clever gracefulness, slipped one out from another side. The tower balanced precariously on center pieces. We looked at each other with eyes that smirked and hearts racing to our necks. Almost too quickly the night turned six and murmured time for me to go. We left like the unhappy kids who sat jealously at the table beside us (except we were unhappy because we had to leave). No one won, but I sat next to you with your hand in mine and my hand in yours in the car. We kissed under the dull red glow of the stoplight, but for a brief moment your green shirt looked like the bright green of a “go” signal. We tasted like the botched flavors of alcoholic drinks turned into sugary candy, but you felt like warm effervescence sliding drunkenly into my stomach. There were butterflies there. They’ve gotten ahold of some nectar and they’re fluttering for more.

unrequited

your gossamer soul
casted, flying to
tuck me into a lucid dream–

now,
a wide-eyed somnambulist

has her fingers outstretched,
grasping for the color of your eyes
at the gauzy seams of
skies and seas.

your quicksilver blood
capricious, fleeting
further into her skin.

she lends her ears to recompense
for these tightly clenched fists
that ache for your calloused palms–

please wake up, my dearest:
the world does not belong to you.

a note to self: on the noises of a brain

While receiving comments and critiques on the quality of my interviewee-ship during my Academic Decathlon class, I was genuinely surprised to hear the things I heard from my classmates. One comment was especially surprising: there didn’t seem to be a time when I didn’t sound “smart.”

I’m fully aware that I’ve done less-than-smart things and made my share of mistakes, yet there is someone who recognizes something positive about me. Even when a classmate went around showing a photo of me pulling a drone out of a girl’s hair afterwards (my deepest, sincerest apologies to her!!), I was still rather stunned—but immensely grateful—for those words. Along with a number of affirmations I’ve received over the years, I’ve filed them away in the corner of my mind to dig out whenever I feel as if I’m unworthy of any amount of kindness. Unworthiness is something we all manage to feel, no matter how many things we’ve already accomplished. But sometimes we feel it far too often.

It’s normal to feel guilt from criticism with the intensity of an earthquake or more, and sometimes it’s hard to live out the waves of aftershocks. Even when we acknowledge our faults and our propensity to fail (my email is open if you’re perfect and need a public relations agent), we are constantly criticizing ourselves and the people around us. Of course without criticism, we’d never realize we had potential for something better; but at what point does criticism become crippling?

As someone who is often too self-aware, it’s fairly easy for me to buckle and spill out apologies for every small inconvenience. I think we can all admit having days when we’ve toyed with the idea that someone, somewhere, is keeping tabs on how many times we’ve said “I’m sorry” (for me this someone laughs with a pen and clipboard at hand, imagining how much my self-deprecating apologies would be worth if they were cleverly printed on greeting cards). People as sensitive to judgment never want to inconvenience others, but more often than not it will appear to us that we’re the most inconvenient people to ever exist. Something as small as rambling on about something we love becomes grounds for apologizing, like we aren’t allowed to share our thoughts without sounding wrong for it. As long as you have a voice in your head and there happens to be other humans with their own voices who will experience you, judgment will exist.

How we deal with judgment determines our success, especially if you’re someone who hopes to leave something great in this world. Criticism is really only as crippling as we make it out to be.

This is a skill we all struggle with in some way (including me. yes, definitely including me), whether you’re an artist staring at a blank canvas or a researcher staring at a blinking cursor. You could have a completely revolutionary idea, but how would anyone know about it if it never left the comfort of your mind? As long as you know you’ve put your best foot forward, it shouldn’t hurt so much if someone shut a door on it. For every one person you think will shut you down, there will be another person who sees something great in you or your work. Learn to learn from the former while keeping track of those who fit the latter. Eventually you’ll find yourself saying “thank you” more than “I’m sorry.”

to patch a hole
first
you have to
poke the needle

@_kenkan (instagram)

to new beginnings

The first week of 2017 is nearly over, and I’ve never felt quite so close to graduating high school. I suppose time moves quickly, but only because I haven’t taken each day by the hour. The  smallest moments I’ve enjoyed slowly blurs into the weekends I sat sleepy-eyed in bed with a book, and that’s something I wish to avoid in the future.

Now that I’m on the cusp of beginning another long chapter of my life (i.e. college, or “the best years of your life if you found out I was wrong about high school”), now is a good time to start keeping some sort of album of memories to draw inspiration and healing from the boring and painful moments of being an adult.

This blog will be dedicated to archiving my self-reflecting ramblings, brief moments of poetry, and travels of all sizes. Life in itself is a trip, no matter how dull a town, weekend, or novel seems to be. I would like to attest to that.

If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place.

Ranier Maria WilkeLetters To A Young Poet