Break Time is Over…

It has been a few months since my last entry. Tonight’s post will be contrived. You see, five or six days ago, I created a list of good habits that I should be doing each day. I am almost 27 and I have never been consistent with any good habits that I should be doing. An app on my phone, of all things, seems to be doing the trick so far. I am relying on my phone – an obsolete Note 5 – to be my personal assistant. It will be a life-changer. Something I feel I am in dire need of.

I currently have 14 items on my list. It is 11 PM and I have checked off 13. The last item? To write for at least 15 minutes. So here I am. La la la la. Forcing myself; trying to get that last item checked off.

As I tweeted last week, I am considering quitting Yelp before ever reaching “elite” status. Now that I think of it, I would rather spend my time doing more important things, such as diving into my meal instead of taking stupid pictures of my food; or checking off the stuff on my habits list, rather than writing lengthy reviews about the texture of food. This decision was made after Yelp deemed one of my reviews – a review I put my soul into (unlike those three-sentence reviews), a review with some votes already – to be “not recommended”. Supposedly, an automatic system sifts through reviews, looking for spam, and it deemed mine as such. It reminded me of my current job: putting in the effort only to be ignored or fall short.

Speaking of my current job: I have peaked, maybe a while back. I have established friendly relationships with everyone, and I have proved myself to them. And I HATE it. I am good at what I do and I am depended on heavily… and it is taxing. Which leads me to make mistakes. I am good at what I do, and one bad day ruins it all. People will remember the one bad thing that happens.

I am a Certified Trainer at a restaurant, and I have not been training. And when I do, it is people who do not want to be trained. I have not been building the right experience, even though I am considering becoming a Health Inspector for the City of New York.

I was supposed to find another job after receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in English and Psychology. I told everyone that I would be leaving in May. It is September now. I felt like I needed a break during the summer before venturing off into the sunset. Now, it is the middle of the night, and I am starting to get lost. This feeling of dread in my stomach was not here last week.

But I know this feeling. It is a familiar feeling that is slowly building. It was there when I did nothing for a year and a half. It motivated me to go back to school. It was there when I did not have a job. It is my great motivator. Eventually, it will reach a point where I do the best I can to run away; to make a change. A point where I will be fed up with whatever “break” I wanted. This break probably stemmed from boredom, or comfort, or laziness, or a reluctance to move on, or a lack of confidence, or fear.

But break time is over. I should be in a different place a year from now.

Check.

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15 July 2017: What’s been going on inside my head nowadays?

It’s 8:34 PM on a Saturday, and I’m sitting on my 70 inch sofa that’s situated at the center of my tiny studio. This piece of furniture is nearly two-weeks-old and it’s already covered in cat hair; of which belong to my baby, Haley, who finally returned home last Tuesday after a week-long “adventure”, having been lost on the 4th of July.

I haven’t been writing much. What else can I say? Do I have nothing else to say? What ever happened to my need to express. It was the only thing going for me.

I haven’t done a lot this summer except work (as a Certified Trainer in a restaurant), go to the gym, gain some more weight, and hang out with two people who have become the first friends I’ve had since… the 7th grade. That was when I met my step…  –

He’s dead to me!

Light brown tiles beneath me. Green walls around me. My studio is just about complete, except for a piece of molding that has to be installed, some second coating of paint in some spots, and missing furniture that are to hold many of the clutter that scatter around the room.

Cleaned my acoustic guitar just now. The metallic buzz that had turned me off from playing nowadays has diminished a bit, enough for me to return to practice melodies that are waiting for the right words to follow.

I need another job. I haven’t been proactive in my search, but my idleness won’t last forever. I’m just relaxing a bit. Maybe, I’m waiting for that recommendation letter to arrive in August. Maybe, I’m trying to build some more confidence. By writing stories to show off. By going to the gym. By finishing my studio, so that I can have something to come home to. Or maybe, I’m waiting for new horizons in my current job. There’s always interning in Ohio. Or Missouri. That, or I’m too attached to these people.

I’ve been reading the news a lot. The latest one had something to do with an 18-year-old man murdering an 11-year-old girl. I’ve been reading so much news that I’m starting to see the difference between a well-written report, with references and quotations, and a waste-of-time article that asks hypothetical questions, littered with “maybes” and “who knows”.

A doorbell rings upstairs. I think love is finally home. I was beginning to worry. It’s 8:53 PM.

Time Travel: “The Presidential Mansion”

This short piece was written in a class I had with the brilliant Professor John Weir @ Queens College. The theme of the semester was time travelling. Have I mentioned this one before? Well, there was a period last year where I was obsessed with the White House. It was because I was drawing up a floor plan for my ideal house, and I used the White House as a source of inspiration. I’m no architect, but I think what I drew up was decent. My research on the White House, its rooms and history, and knowing the floor plan led me to putting it in a short story as a setting. Is it obvious it’s also set in 1812? Not a detailed story, but I could update it more someday.

“The Presidential Mansion”

My stomach churned as I was frightened at the thought of the British soldiers marching over here. They were going to arrive soon, and that made me want to defecate all over the carpet somewhere in a corner. At the behest of the President who had already retreated, a few of us were tasked to remove as much valuables as we could out of the White House.

“This is the White House, right?” I asked the commander.

“What white house?!” The commander glared at me as if I wasn’t responsible.

The look he gave me made me not want to fight on his side any longer, so I waited for the perfect time to escape from his watch. I didn’t have a lot of time. We were in the middle of a fog of war and that was already an opportunity for me to escape. And so I did.

“My God! Where are you running off to?!” The commander yelled.

I didn’t say anything but I hoped to have given the impression that I was scrambling to retrieve items in another room. But I never returned to him. The layout of the mansion was different from what I’m used to, but this was the second floor. The different floor plan was an obstacle to my escape. I ran in the direction where the stairs were supposed to be only to find empty rooms. In one of them, distant gunfire drew me to the window. I could make out an orange glow and black smoke rising into the night sky in the distance. In the foreground, shadows were drawing nearer and nearer, some on horseback, many on foot.

I stepped away from the window, ran back out into the hallway, and managed to locate the oval-shaped room of the mansion. I broke through one of the south windows and jumped out. My foot landed and bent at an unnatural angle. It couldn’t take me far, but I found refuge somewhere in the back lawn. A bush resisted me trying to get in it and so I fell back into it, still in extraordinary pain. The shadows came in the night and stormed into the mansion.

After a few moments, fire blazed through the innards of the house. Glass shattering and loud booms could be heard as floors came crashing down. Every window of the mansion eventually spewed fire, and the black smoke rose up to the sky.

The great capital was in ruin.

The Rage-Inducing Story

After months of moral anxiety and weeks of ambivalence, Samuel had finally found his man. He’d been preparing himself for this moment. This moment, and more. The images of a haunting story – “the rage-inducing story” – became more vivid as a face could now be applied to it. Samuel had never met him before, but because of “the rage-inducing story”, it was as if he had gotten to know him on a deeper level. The months of anxiety this man had caused him made it personal. The instant Samuel saw him, his heart began to pound and his bowels wanted to explode out of his ass. He hated how he wasn’t in a place of control – power even. These feelings overwhelmed him. But seeing this man intensified the one thing that brought him to Brooklyn tonight: his rage. Samuel stood outside the glowing red restaurant on a dark and desolate street, and peered in past the neon lights and through the window. The restaurant was closed for cleaning and his man was mopping the floors quickly and haphazardly, as if he were in a hurry to get somewhere. The apron he wore made him appear pathetic and harmless.

Samuel glared at his man, contemplating every thought in his head as if each were a different voice. One told him, “Give him Hell.” Another, the reason for his ambivalence, told him, “You are a good man, Samuel. A better man. Don’t do this.” There were other voices. One reminded him that he’d never been in a real fight before in his life. He’d get his ass kicked. Another was worried about the police. All this anxiety triggered Samuel’s “fight or flight response”. He made his choice.

He chose to walk away. “I’m better than you.”

Down at the corner, outside a bar, Samuel took a pack of Newport out from his thick winter coat. With deliberation, as if he were choosing a victim, he picked one stick out by random, and held it up for a second, admiring it. He lit it up and inhaled, almost desperately, the equivalent of having the first bite of food in days. The anxiety was just too much. The cigarette gave a bad taste in his mouth, but still, it felt good and it relieved him.

Just when Samuel decided to go home, someone bumped past his shoulder, hard, like a car crash. He was going to say something, but he was startled that the wrongdoer was his man. They exchanged glares and they didn’t say anything to each other. Samuel only made observations. What he saw was the face of a psychopath: emotionless, unapologetic, with the nerve to continue walking on by. The dark street caused full dilation of his pupils, making him appear even more intimidating, like a beady eyed demon. At the same time, Samuel was irritated by his man’s arrogance and smirk. But why should he care? His man was wearing a jacket that was too thin for winter and he had on worn, disgusting sneakers. It occurred to Samuel that his man didn’t recognize him. If he were just like Samuel – someone who had stalked the other, and had found him – he probably would have recognized him. Besides, the two do have a mutual connection.

As Samuel watched his man walk away from the encounter, the rage returned. This man had walked away before, and he was going to walk away again. It wouldn’t be the right place and the right time for this guy to come around. “Remember ‘the rage-inducing story.'” He crashes into you. He corrupts. And he’d walk away as if nothing were ever going to catch up to him.

Samuel flicked away his unfinished cigarette and began following him. Without being noticed, he casually crossed to the other side of the street without looking back for a car, like a predator’s gaze fixed on prey. Like a cat. He kept his distance, positioning himself diagonally from him. Somewhere along the short journey, a light turned green for vehicles, and the man disobeyed a Don’t Walk sign, almost getting run over. The person behind the wheel was probably enraged, evidenced by the horn blaring. What a shame. A crash would’ve given him a taste of his own medicine. It also would’ve saved Samuel the trouble.

The man stopped abruptly outside a café as something inside caught his attention. His wide eyes peered in through the windows and then he stepped away from the glass, looking tentative, as if he were fighting his own inner conflicts. What’s going on? Will he go in? Will he continue? He eventually made up his mind and entered the café. Samuel cautiously closed in, curious to see what was the hold up. He looked in through the windows.

There were no customers inside. A young lady was all alone behind the front counter, wiping down with a white rag. His man appeared to have disturbed her because her body language seemed to shoosh him away. Samuel saw this as an opportunity to further observe his behavior. But really, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do. He wasn’t sure if he’d do anything at all. Every second he didn’t act, he lost motivation. He was just waiting. He wanted more… What’s the right word? Incentive. He was compelled to stay for the moment because maybe his presence would benefit the girl. Not a soul had walked on by on this street in Brooklyn. She wouldn’t be safe if she were alone with him. Samuel knew this. The man talked, and second by second, got closer and closer to this young lady, who was, no doubt, young and attractive. She seemed to loosen up, becoming relaxed and jovial. But does she not see the psycho Samuel saw earlier? Was this another one of his masks? How infuriating! He’s not interested in coffee. How could she be alone with him? That fucking “rage-inducing story”! How could that ever happen? How could this ever happen? “What am I talking about?!” Is something going to even happen? Watching him keep on living without consequence gave Samuel all the incentive he needed.

His man finally emerged from the café and he looked back at the girl, smirking, and walked on. Samuel followed him for a few more blocks, each one looking more dilapidated than the last, to a battered apartment building. There, he became hypervigilant for potential witnesses. But it was the dead of night. His man entered the building through glass doors. Samuel had been slowly closing in and was now close enough to pounce on him. His gloves protected him and meant that he never touched that handle, and never invaded the lobby. No doorman. No front desk. No security guard. No camera on the ceiling. A door to a narrow stairwell slammed shut. He thought nothing was ever going to catch up to him. By now, Samuel was intent on crashing into his life.

The stalker entered the dim stairwell which was resonating with the sound of heavy footsteps. He ascended in pursuit and, soon after, a door creaked open above and slammed shut. The footsteps became muffled and faded away. He started sprinting up steps two at a time, worried he might have lost his man. He arrived at the third floor, and quietly opened the door, peeked his head out into the hallway, and saw no one. He slammed the door shut and proceeded up to the fourth floor. In the nick of time, he saw his man disappear into an apartment at the end of a hallway. Samuel emerged from the stairwell, allowing the door to slam behind him, as if there was no more turning back. He took his time walking to the door at the end. This was it. His heart was pounding.

Knock, knock.

Nothing.

A pound on the door.

“Yeah?” A baritone voice asked behind the door. Samuel sensed the man was right behind the door, peeking through the peephole. All he wanted to do right now was to enter. But he said nothing.

“What do you want?”

He had been waiting a long time to say this. Anything to attack the insecurities of a narcissist. Anything for him to take the bait and open the door.

“I’m better than you.”

The door unlocked. Samuel forced himself in.

 

It was around 4 AM when Samuel entered in the front door of his apartment. It was dark so he reached for the light, took off his shoes with his feet, and kicked them to the side. His hands were damaged. He grimaced closing his fist and he struggled to take off his bloodstained jacket, which he threw into the hamper.

Samuel tiptoed to the bathroom where, in the mirror, he realized the extent of the damage his face had taken. There was a deep gash on his left cheek where blood was still spilling over. He grimaced at the sight of it. But for a second afterward, he smirked, having been reminded of his position. He had won somehow.

But then, guilt took over. It wasn’t like he was worried about the police. It was because he thought he was a better man, but now, not necessarily a good man.

He stripped down to his bare ass, analyzing every particle he took off. In particular, he threw his boxers into the garbage. Hell, he even threw out his pants. They had foreign fluids that were not his. He emptied his pants of his wallet and protection before doing so. He’d take out the trash afterwards. Steam from the hot shower filled the bathroom for over 30 minutes, much longer than usual. Samuel spent most of his time thinking and scrubbing his entire body, mostly below the waist. But he ultimately didn’t have to be concerned with himself. He was careful.

After treating the wound on his face and taking out the trash, Samuel sneaked into the bedroom, and stealthily slipped under the covers. He did all this without waking her up. As she laid on her side, he placed his bad hand around her, and he hugged her. If his guilt wasn’t washed away in the shower, it disappeared after being with her again. Because, in his mind, this was the end of “the rage-inducing story”.

His man got what he deserved. And it was for her.

10 May 2017: It is 12:05 AM…

It’s 12:05 AM on an early Wednesday morning and I’m lying down on the living room sofa with Seinfeld playing on the 60″ television in front of me. Moments before, I witnessed Manu Ginobili and the Spurs beat James Harden and the Rockets in OT in what was an exciting game to get a 3-2 series lead in the second round. My girlfriend is asleep on an adjacent sofa which could’ve held my entire body comfortably. Damn her! My feet rest over the soft armchair as the whole length of my body is too long for this piece of furniture. I’m not going to have a good night sleep perhaps as I’m unable to straighten out my legs, but it’s temporary as I continue to renovate my living space which is turning out to be… nice. Better than before. Because before, the walls were covered in this hideous popcorn paint that made the room appear smaller, and the laminate flooring had gaps in between as the previous installer (my father who doesn’t have attention to detail) failed to properly install them. And under the laminate floor was an entire sheet of this dirty and dusty foam that was rough and multi-colored, as if it were originally part of some cheap piece of furniture that was just thrown in under in a poor attempt to level out an extremely uneven concrete subfloor. And the mold! For nearly six months, I had been living on top of mold! Am I going to die?

It’s almost over, but man, all the physical work I’ve been doing in the past two and a half months has been too much. I learned a lot, mostly about fixing an uneven concrete subfloor. I learned the hard way though. The people in Home Depot led us to waste hundreds of dollars and days of work when I could’ve used a self-leveling compound! A self-leveling compound!

“Trust the professionals at the Home Depot!” My fat rear.

Instead, we were directed to use at least half a dozen bags of Portland cement, each weighing nearly 100 lbs, and bags of sand and gravel. My buddy and I then spent a week applying it all over a 20′ by 12′ concrete subfloor. Then, I had to borrow a tiny angle grinder from a neighbor to level it all out. What a waste of time and energy! And I was intensely sick with a fever doing all this hard work! Was it the mold?!

If there is going to be a next time, I will know about self-leveling compound. I’ll have the money to afford renting a 150 lb floor grinder if I need it. Or I could just hire a real contractor because my buddy isn’t a real one. And, like my father but not as much, he lacks meticulousness! The help he has provided, however, has been invaluable and much appreciated.

I did this all for my girlfriend, by the way. You’re welcome.

3 May 2017: 2:30 AM

It’s 2:30 AM on a Wednesday and I’m lying down on the sofa in my living room, wide awake, swyping this entry on my phone. I’ve been suffering from a cold since Sunday evening, and have had a fever since yesterday afternoon. My head, my eyes, and my jaw are in pain. My nose is runny and dry at the same time. And I’m burning up even while wearing only boxer briefs.

Can I please get back to sleep?

My body aches after working alone for the past two days, trying to finish my basement renovation. I’ve been living down there with my girlfriend since last November and we’ve been renovating since March 7th. It’s been a drawn out and exhausting process. All our belongings were covered in this white dust for nearly two months while working on the walls, and now they’ve all been scattered around upstairs for almost a week, needing to make room to fix up the floors.

I’m hopefully five days away from finishing.

It’s dark down here except for the dim light coming from the next room, and up the stairs to the hall light. A clock ticks. It’s 2:46 AM. It takes too long to create a post via phone. But I haven’t written since March 1st. I’ve been so busy. Time flew by. My nose is running and I irritatingly squeeze the mucus out with my dry, scaly fingers. An aquarium filter runs in the dining room and water splashes. Weird to have a smelly aquarium in the dining room. A cat sneaks on by after kicking around dust in a litter in the vestibule.

I think about all the problems I’ve had to deal with this spring. And now I realize my resume sucks, a few weeks before graduation.

I think about how inconsiderate people are, not staying home when they’re sick. It’s really irritating. I’ve been easily irritated the past couple of days.

I think about how much mistakes this swyping has been in the twenty minutes writing this post. “More efficient typing”. Yeah. No.

I think about my abilities to give advice, train, and teach. My cousin failed her road test a month ago, and yesterday, she passed. She’s the fifth person I’ve practiced with.

I think about suppressing my urge to urinate because I’m in so much pain.

Seriously, this swyping sucks!