LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, The "Something" Series: Season 2

Always Questioning Something: A Grace Monologue.

When I was in New York for the first time back when I was 17, I thought it was crazy to see snowfall before Christmas. That year, it snowed just a few days before Thanksgiving; I remember because it was before the audition for that year’s competition, and the first prize was a full scholarship to Julliard. I remember that was all that mattered to me at that moment. I remember I took the subway by myself for the first time since being in New York; my father had forbidden me from auditioning for the competition. I called Emerson to see if he can come with me, but he was too busy with his parents. I was nervous to call Scott, but I sucked it up and asked if he wanted to come with me. To my surprise, he said yes.

We both sat on the C train going Uptown, just passing Fulton Street. We sat in silence for what felt like hours when really, it was only 3 stops. Being 29, I know now that the A train makes the express stops in the city.

“So,” Scott began to say. I looked at him, nervous to talk to him. I don’t know why I was; we literally spoke every day in school with Emerson, but something about speaking to Scott Campbell on my own felt… scary. “What are you all dressed up for?” he finally asked.

“Oh, uhm,” I started as I looked down at my outfit. It was a sparkly dance ensemble with a flowy skirt; also sparkly. “It’s for an audition.”

“For like, a Broadway show?” Scott genuinely asked. I giggled, thinking that it was really cute of him to think that I was even a good enough dancer for Broadway.

“No, no… for a competition,” I corrected. I looked at Scott, thinking he was going to ask a million questions, because– well, let’s face it; I asked someone that I never hung out with outside of school to accompany me across the fucking borough because I didn’t know how to take the subway. “It’s for a scholarship to Julliard, and it’s–“

“For dance,” Scott finished. I looked at him, a little shocked that he knew. Did Emerson tell him? How did he know? “I, uhm… saw you practice after-school with Ms. Castro a couple of times,” I saw him swallow hard as his eyes widen. “I- I didn’t mean to watch or, like, knew you were always practicing, but…” I could tell Scott was nervous, but I couldn’t help but giggle.

“You would watch me dance?” I asked. Scott took a deep breath before finally answering.

“Yeah. You are hands down the best dancer in the school, and you’ve only been here for a couple of months,” he stated.

“You flatter me, but I am not that good of a dancer; not New York City good,” I responded back. He’s just being nice to you.

“Dude, I thought you were going to audition for a damn Broadway show!” Scott emphasized, and it made me laugh. It definitely took a lot of the edge I was feeling off. I was grateful Scott accompanied me to my audition that day.

I look down at my phone; I have exactly one hour before the audition begins in Uptown. I brush down my attire to make myself look clean and neat; two things I fail to be as a dancer, and in more of a literal sense: as a person. I took a deep breath before opening my eyes and finally seeing myself in the mirror. My hair is tied in a bun, my body shimmers in the sunlight from the glitter on my outfit, and my dirty sneakers to take to the audition, where I will take them off to put on my ballet shoes. Are we really doing this, Grace?

“Hey, girl,” I hear at the doorway of the room. I turn around and Ari’s there. She smiles and walks into the room to sit on the edge of the bed. “You look pretty.”

“Thanks, I feel like shit,” I responded. Ari scoffs as she adjusts herself in her seat. “Why did I think this was a good idea?” I questioned every little thing since the moment I got back to New York about two months ago. I questioned if I deserved to watch my daughter walk to her teacher for the first day of school. I questioned if those in my life; my parents, Max, Willow, Emerson, and even Ari should be mad at me for just disappearing and leaving New York for half a year. Why aren’t they mad at me? I would be pissed the fuck off if someone I cared about would just up and leave–

“Bitch, you deserve this,” Ari stated. “I mean, I’ve never seen you dance, but the way that your mom was so excited that you were doing this; like you must be a bomb ass dancer and you deserve to do what makes you happy. Plus, you’re back in New York, which means you get to spend some time with Willow–“

“You do know that if I get this gig, I’ll be practically spending a year overseas, right?” I asked. Ari’s expression completely changed. She didn’t know what was truly this audition.

“Well, where would you be going? Italy? London? Paris? Girl, imagining performing for Paris Fashion Week–“

“Ulsan.” I interrupted. Ari coked her eyebrow up; she clearly did not know where I was going.

“Bitch, where?” Ari asked.

“Ulsan, as in South Korea,” I finally answered. “The production is going to be in–“

“Grace,” Ari simply said. I looked at her, nervous about where this was going. Ari was visibly angry at me. Finally, someone is fucking angry at me. “You’re kidding, right?”

“No.” I simply said, back to Ari. Ari walked towards the door and closed it before saying anything else to me. She walked up to me, practically in my face. She was more than angry at me; she was livid.

“You’re trying to tell me that you left New York after getting your fucking heart broken by a man, who so happens to live in South Korea, go to California as some type of escape from reality, to then come back to New York with the sole purpose of coming back is to audition for a production that is going to be a year-long in Soth Korea; aka where the man that broke your fucking heart lives?” Ari was practically yelling at this point.

“For fuck’s sake, Ari; Jamie doesn’t own the entire fucking country,” I answered, annoyed at Ari’s lack of support. “I haven’t even seen him since I left New York,” I lied. Ari doesn’t know that for practically the entire summer, I spent it with Jamie in California. Ari doesn’t know that in some twisted way, I allowed Jamie back into my life for a whole summer, not realizing that with Jamie, it didn’t take long for me to remember why I loved him in the first place. Ari doesn’t know that, and it was pointless to bring it up now; I was never seeing Jamie again.

“You going there ups the chances of you rekindling something that is stale and burnt out,” Ari argued. It stung a bit when she called what I had with Jamie “burnt out”. I thought that was just something only Jamie and I felt. Why did it hurt hearing it come out from someone else? “Seriously Grace, I think this is a bad fucking idea.”

“Oh, so now it’s a bad idea when just minutes ago it was something I deserved,” I spat back at Ari. I hated when Ari did this; be a supportive friend, and then make me feel like an idiot when things don’t go the way she wants them to go.

“It was, but now you’re literally telling me you’re leaving New York, again, to go across the fucking world to dance in the country where your stupid fucking ex lives?! Seriously Grace, where the fuck are your priorities?!” I didn’t say anything; I just watched Ari pace back and forth in the room we were in. She finally stops and looks at me. “You’re being a shitty fuckin’ mother to Willow by doing this, Grace.”

I looked at Ari, remembering all of the times we’d had similar conversations in this apartment in the past. I remember Ari trying to convince me to work things out with Max right after I had Willow. We fought until she realized I was going to do what I wanted to do, and slowly we were able to work out our friendship again. The same exact thing happened when I quit the firm. The same thing happened when Jamie and I decided to work things out the last time he was in New York. The same thing happened when I didn’t tell Jamie about the abortion. Every decision I ever made in the time I’ve known Ari was questioned by her, and I fucking hated it. I always thought she did it because she truly had her best interest in my well-being. She was sometimes right in her concerns, but most of the time, she would just make me feel like absolute shit about anything that I did.

The one thing she never brought up was Willow. Sure, I had my moments when I could’ve been a better mother. I could’ve made my decisions with Willow in mind. I could’ve just been this stay-at-home mom and watched her grow into the little girl she is now. I could’ve done a lot of things in my differently, and Ari made me know that fact. But, she would never say anything about me as a mother and how I should be raising my daughter. I took a deep breath, thinking about my words.

“I’m… going to be late for my audition,” I began. I grabbed my bag, throwing it on my shoulder. “And when I’m done with that, I will come back and pack my things.” I looked at Ari, trying hard to not let my emotions read all over my face. Ari scrunched her eyebrows together, looking genuinely confused.

“Are you serious?” Ari asked.

“Yeah, Ari. I’m serious,” I sternly said. “I’m going to stay with my parents while I’m here in New York.” Ari’s response was a condescending laugh. Maybe I was too young and blindsided to see this in the past, but I see it clearly now: Ari is nothing but a mean girl.

“Here you go again, running away from the truth,” Ari got up from her seat. “Seriously, girl, aren’t you tired of running? Like you’re about to be 30 years old, Grace. Grow the fuck up and deal with your shit head-on like a real adult.”

“I’m not getting in this with you,” I said, calmly. I realized that whenever I would react to Ari’s “tough love”, it would feed into this cynical side of her that felt like she was staying the truth. “So, I’m leaving for the audition, and then I’m leaving your apartment, and I’m leaving this friendship.” I passed Ari as I walked out the door. Before I walked out the apartment, she came out of the room we were in and in typical Ari fashion, began shouting.

“This is your problem, Grace! You can’t keep anyone or anything in your life because you think life fucking owes you an apology for your shitty life up until now,” I turned around to look at Ari. In the corner of my eye, I saw Dean take the headphones off his head from the living room to see what was going on. “You need someone to constantly tell you that your decisions are shitty and that you aren’t capable of keeping anything good in your life because you always go and fuck it up!”

“Is that what you really think of me, Ari?” I spat back. “You think being a shitty friend to me is actually something I need?”

“If you think I’m being a shitty friend–“

“You are a shitty friend,” I interrupted. Ari began to walk in my direction, and Dean finally got up from the sofa to calm Ari down.

“Fuck you, Grace! This is the thanks I get for helping you out all these times you literally had no one in your life because you fucked them over?!” Ari was yelling over Dean. I tried so hard to not let her words hurt me. I blinked before exhaling.

“Bye, Ari. I’m sorry, Dean,” I said before turning around and opening the front door to her apartment. I walked out and closed the door behind me; closing the door on yet another chapter of my life. I’m always questioning if I’m doing the right thing.

Black Sheep in Society: Season 2

40-Ounce Black Sheep: A Rosie Monologue.

I hadn’t seen Micah since the night I stayed at his place, and even then I didn’t stay through the whole night.

That night, I slept in Micah’s room as he slept on the sofa in the living room. The high was wearing off, and the regret instantly began to sink in. I stared up at his ceiling, tossing and turning hoping the night would quickly pass so that it was morning. I looked around his room and got to know him better through his belongings. He was passionate about his music; his desk was full of music sheets, accompanied by a microphone and chunky headphones, and a computer screen. Next to it was a DJ mixer; I knew he made his own beats and music, but the calendar above it shows performances and events that he has booked.

He had shelves up in his room, which surprises me. I’ve never seen a guy– or even a man– have his own space and there were shelves with things on them. I can only imagine that was his mother’s touch. The shelves had picture frames with pictures in them; to my surprise his family. Micah never really told me anything about his family besides the fact he had younger sisters. This picture had to have been taken not too long ago since Micah’s dreadlocks are about the same length they are now. In the picture stood a man and woman that were most likely his parents, a guy that looked a lot like the dad, Micah, and two younger teenage sisters. His family was pretty and clean; they look like they all had their lives put together. But I see Micah and his ripped jeans, his nose piercing, barely smiling in his family portrait. Micah stands out like a sore thumb, and it makes me sad. Micah called himself a black sheep, and maybe this was why. By looking at this picture, I can tell that neither of his parents smokes cigarettes or drink alcohol on a daily. I can tell that his older brother owns a home in an expensive part of Brooklyn; maybe even in Manhattan or some shit. His younger sisters look like they are honor roll students in school.

Micah looks like he was the problem child. Does Micah think he’s nothing but a problem?

“Micah?” I finally said as I answered the door. He looked like shit and he reeked of beer. Ugh, fucking memories of Philly. He looked at me with his eyes that looked gray at night. They were normally an ocean blue color; lively and so full of life. These eyes read dead inside.

“Hi, Roe Roe!” Micah greeted in a high-pitched voice. “I was just around the neighborhood and decided to stop by and say hi!” His eyes suddenly looked so sad. “You don’t say hi to me anymore on campus.”

“Micah, what are you doing here?” I asked, annoyed that he would come unannounced in the condition that he was in. He didn’t bother answering. He drops the beer bottle on the ground in front of my apartment and walks in. What the fuck is this guy on? “Micah?” I kept calling out for him but he didn’t even bother answering. He looked around the apartment. I felt exposed every single time he would come here.

“Must be nice to have an apartment all to yourself,” he said as he walked around. He stopped and looked at me. “An apartment where you can fuck guys and get paid to do it.”

I couldn’t believe Micah. I didn’t know what got into him or why he was now treating me like I was some chewed-up gum at the bottom of his shoe. He can’t be upset that I left his place that night without him knowing. He can’t be upset that I haven’t spoken to him since that night. By all means, I didn’t owe shit to Micah, so why is he acting like I owe him something? It pissed me the fuck off knowing that Micah would throw something like that back at my face.

“What the fuck is your problem, dude? Besides being drunk off of some cheap-ass beer,” I spat at Micah. This is what I always did to people when I felt like I was being attacked. I would protect myself in ways that sometimes would get me in more trouble. Micah laughed, but not the genuine laugh I’d heard from him whenever we were on good terms; it was dragged out and loud for no reason besides to laugh at me.

“I don’t have a problem,” Micah finally answered back. “Clearly you’re the one with the problem.”

“Go home, Micah,” I didn’t want to fight with him. He’s drunk with beer muscles, and I’m convinced that every man, no matter how nice of a person they are, gets them when they drink. Some of those men beat women up with those beer muscles. I was unsure about Micah, but fuck; this felt like a night back in Philly.

“My bad if I ruined your plans with that fuck boy, Prescott Jones,” Micah laughed as he said it. My heart dropped to the pit in my stomach, and I guess it read on my face because Micah looks at me like he fucking won a battle with me. “Yeah, I know you’re still fucking that rich boy. I guess you really only go for the rich boys, specifically the fucking abusive ones that’ll beat you half to death,” he continued.

“You really gotta stop assuming shit before you get yourself hurt, Micah,” I responded. I didn’t mean for it to come off as so threatening, because now Micah looks at me with rage in his eyes. At this moment, Micah looks scary, and I’m so fucking unsure how this is going to turn out.

“I saw you with my own two eyes!” Micah yelled. I couldn’t help but flinch.

” I saw you with my own two eyes!” Don yelled, bugged out of his fucking mind. He wasn’t thinking straight, and it was so late into the night.

“I told you I didn’t steal shit from you, asshole!” I screamed back. Don’s eyes were wide like the whole world was slowly coming down on him. To him, it was. He continued to rip apart the apartment that we shared, not caring if he was destroying the very little things we owned.

“I know you took it, Rosie! You’re nothing but a fucking whore that steals shit!” he rambled on. I was hurt, but angrier at the fact he allowed his addiction to believe I was anything like he thought I was when he was high.

“Fuck you, Don! You’re nothing but a fucking junkie!” I spat back. Don’s eye color was hazel. That night, I swear they were red, and I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

“You came out of his white fuckin’ Porsche outside of the library, like you always do whenever he drops you off for class!” Micah continued.

“Can you stop yelling and shut the fuck up?” I yelled back at Micah. I wanted Micah to stop. This isn’t the Micah I got to know over the last couple of months; but maybe this is truly who he is. Maybe this is truly how he feels. Maybe I don’t know Micah at all.

“No! Because if I don’t yell at you, it won’t go through your fuckin’ thick skull that you are just putting your life in danger being with that douchebag!” he yelled even louder this time, as if he was also trying to get the rest of the block in on the conversation. I was going to shut Micah up; I was tired of hearing him and literally wanted nothing more than for him to leave my place. I walk to him and try to push him out. He quickly turns around and grabs my arm, facing the bruises on them upwards.

“This is not okay, Rosie!” Micah emphasized. I tried to get him to let me go, but he wouldn’t loosen his grip.

I tries to get Don to let me go, but he wouldn’t loosen his grip.

“Let me go!” I screamed. I was scared for my life at this point. I wanted him to leave me alone, but he wouldn’t; even after throwing me against the wall as I tried to fight him off.

“Let me go!” I screamed louder than I wanted to. I was panicking, and wanted nothing more than for Micah to leave. I started crying; I hate that I was, but it was a response I couldn’t control anymore. I cried when I was scared; not hurt, but scared. I didn’t know there was going to be a day where I was scared of Micah Kamalani.

He must’ve gotten the message and immediately let me go. His eyes were beginning to soften; the color returning in his eyes. It’s like we changed positions, because I feel like I was beginning to lose my vision, seeing nothing but black. Micah stepped back and didn’t say anything. He quickly walked towards the front door to leave.

He didn’t look back when he did. I’m glad he didn’t; he made it easier for me to completely cut him out of my life at that moment.

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, The Teenage Monologues.

What’s the Motive: A Mollie Monologue.

I walked into the school’s library, waving at the person that sits at the front desk during the day. She knows me by heart since I’m always in this library. Yeah, who would’ve thought Mollie Sue Castro would be familiar with a library. I walked toward the front desk like I normally would do whenever I visit the library.

“Hi, Barb,” I greeted the woman at the front desk.

“Good afternoon, Mollie,” Barb smiled as she answered back. She goes through the wooden box of door keys behind her, picking one out. “Doing some more vocal study?”

“Yeah,” I nodded my head. “We have quartets later in class and it’s always easier to practice with another person.”

“I bet it is,” Barb answered as she takes out the paperwork for me to sign. “Well, tell Aaron I said hi, and good luck with your vocal assignments.” I smiled as Barb handed me a key to one of the study rooms in the library. Aaron and I have met to study for the past couple of weeks now; he wasn’t kidding when he said he needed help in vocal class. It’s not that the guy can’t sing, but he is clearly using all the wrong techniques to sing! He’s going to end up fucking up his vocal cords if he keeps straining his singing voice like that.

“Yo!” I yelled out to Aaron as he was singing. “You don’t hear that sus ass note? It’s sharp, not flat.”

“Where in this song do you see that it’s a sharp note?” Aaron yelled back, obviously frustrated. I walked toward him and pointed at the sheet music.

“There,” I answered. “The baritone note is sharp and the bass note is in the major key. You are the melody, they are the filler with the sopranos.” Aaron’s eyebrows cocked up, realizing his mistake.

“Oh shit,” Aaron responded, and I couldn’t help but laugh. He clearly looked offended at my laughter. “Yo, what’s so funny?”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I said while trying to contain my laughter. “I just realized that you might have been the one person in vocal the other day who was singing solo notes out of this piece.” Aaron widens his eyes and a smile appears on his face.

“You heard me sing off-key in class and now just telling me, Castro?!” I begin to laugh out loud at the situation again; thankfully Aaron was now laughing along with me. “Yo, I thought I was killing it that day!”

“Yeah; killing that song,” I said, still trying to keep my composure but couldn’t help myself. Aaron nudged my shoulder and continued to laugh so loud, a library worker had to bang on the glass to quiet us down.

It’s not until a few minutes later do I see Aaron tapping on the glass door of the study room. I get up from my seat and open the door for him.

“Hey, Castro,” Aaron smiled as he greeted me. “Ready to absolute slaughter the class in quartets in class today?”

“Stop gassing me up,” I said playfully. Aaron shakes his head and takes out his sheet music. “So, which song do you want to practice?” Aaron looks through the papers in his hand before he answers me.

“Let’s do… oh! In Mozart’s “Requiem”, I don’t understand how the baritones began the piece with the altos when they are in completely different sections.”

“Those two sections typically carry the melody of a piece,” I answered, flipping through my folder of sheet music to get the right one out to start practice. “It makes sense if they typically sing together or start off the song,” I looked up and saw Aaron looking directly at me while I was speaking. It made me nervous. “What?”

“You are fucking smart,” Aaron responded. I laughed to myself, shaking my head.

“Yeah, well try to tell everyone else that,” I said, not realizing that I was about to have this conversation with Aaron Serrano of all people. “Like, does being smart in vocal make you a smart person?” Aaron scrunched his eyebrows together; he looks hella annoyed at me all of a sudden.

“It makes you passionate about your talent,” Aaron answered back. “I don’t know who told you otherwise, but being good at what you’re here to do makes you fucking smart. You are hands down the smartest person in our vocal class; I think anyone would trade their book smarts for your talent.”

“Thanks, Serrano,” I said back, not really meaning it. It’s nice to be known as the “girl who knows all her music” or the one that answers all the questions correctly on our quizzes. But truly, does it even mean anything if I’m doing something that’s not completely my passion? I like singing, but the more I walk around these halls and see the dancers, it makes me feel like even in the place I should be in, I don’t fit in. Aaron taps his pencil on the table in my direction. It makes me look directly at Aaron, who is still looking directly at me.

“I mean it,” Aaron said. “You’re talented and smart and funny and just… if anyone thinks otherwise, they are a fucking loser.” I smile at Aaron’s honesty. I look down at my sheet music but before we started studying, I look back up and back at Aaron.

“What’s your motive?” I spat out, not realizing I said what I was thinking out in the open. Aaron looked confused.

“Motive?” he asked.

“Yeah; like I see you with your other friends all the time and yet we are always in this damn study room, studying for vocal. Are you just trying to use me to pass vocal or something?” I was growing annoyed now. Maybe this is just some bottled-up shit I kept in that bothered me, but no one ever wants to hang out with me for many reasons. It seems like all the boys in this school just want to be with the pretty girls and whenever a guy talks to me, it’s either he’s using me for his own personal gain, or he’s keeping this big secret from me. Guys don’t like me, and they don’t ever want to be my friend. It’s never this easy to keep a friend, and I feel like I’m making it very obvious that I’m a major reason why I can’t keep friends. Aaron looks annoyed with me, and I don’t blame him. The guy just told me I was all these great things, and now I’m showing him every reason I’m not any of them.

“With all due respect, Mols,” Aaron started out. Mols. He never called me by a nickname before. “I don’t know what assholes you have or had as friends, but I actually really like you as a friend. I like spending time with my friends, and you so happen to be one of my friends. So I guess liking you as my friend is my motive.” I felt like shit after hearing Aaron say what he said. For fuck’s sake, Mol, not everyone is trying to fuck you over.

“Sorry,” I quickly said as I looked back down at my sheet music, flipping through the pages. Aaron placed his hand on top of my pile of sheet music. I stopped in my tracks and slowly looked up at Aaron. He was reaching from the other side of the table to place his hand on my papers. He looked at me directly in my face and smiled. I would be lying if I said it didn’t bring me some level of comfort knowing he was still in this study room and wanting to hang out with–

“Mols?” Aaron asked.

“Hmm?” I went back to focus on Aaron.

“Show me how to really sing this damn Mozart’s Requiem,” he said as he went back to his seat to get his sheet music.

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

Where Was I in 2013?

Credit: Leona Lee

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

To think back and realize that ten years ago was the year 2013 makes me feel more of my age as the days and years pass. 2013 doesn’t feel like it was a decade ago, but here we are in 2023, and, well, 2013 was truly 10 years ago! Like every beginning of a new year, we start it off reflecting on where I was 10 years prior, and we just so happen to be entering 2013 territory! Like 2012, 2013 was a tough year for me; but, it was the year that I finally learned to let go of the bad things in my life and adapt to new things that I was interested in and good for me and my mental health.

But first, let’s take it all the way back to the year 2013!

At the beginning of 2013, I had just turned 19 years old and was about to start my second semester as a college freshman. The first semester was a horrible one; it was hard to pass my classes and was on the verge of failing almost all of them. I knew for my second semester, I had to get my grades up, or else the college would put me on academic probation. I was still struggling a lot mentally at the beginning of 2013 year. I still was very much caught up in the high-school drama since it followed me even after graduation. Even though the person that I was still very much into was hours away at a different college, I had made it my mission to always see them whenever they could come back to the city. Thinking about it now, it was really stupid of me; like, here I was friendless and barely passing my classes, yet my mind and energy were hyperfocused on this one person who went to the same college as their partner, and, didn’t even bat an eyelash to actually think about me. But then again, I was 19 and still fresh out of high school, so my high-school mentality still influenced a lot of my thought process and decision-making.

Fashion for 2013 Liz was bringing much of what “Tumblr fashion” was, which is crazy to think that Tumblr used to be the biggest social platform for those in my age range at the time. It was dip-dyed/ombre hair color, “summer scarves” that yes, I used to wear all year round, including hot summer days, and Toms/Keds/Bootleg Toms named Bobs. Needless to say, 2013 fashion was weird and random fashion. Like, even the music was weird! I can’t explain how music was a decade ago; it was just a lot of dance music that we all use to fuck with heavy with a mix of like… swing 1950-esque beats? Also, it was still truly the “British Invasion” era of music which I think also became more of an identity crisis for some of us.

I remember 2013 being the year that I tried out dieting because I noticed that I was gaining that “freshman 15” everyone used to talk about. I lived at home and commuted to my college, but I think that as I got older and continued to grow, my weight started to go up as well. I remember my toxic diet culture mind tracking how many points I had for the day and how many additional ones I was allowed to have and when I even began to see some slight changes, I would then stop the hard work and celebrate that little weight loss with something that I shouldn’t have.

At the time, I didn’t realize that the rapid weight gain was due to the fact that by August 2013, I would spend most of my summer nights sitting up in a butterfly chair trying to sleep since the pain was unbearable. I still remember having to wake my mom up at 6:30 in the morning to take me to the Emergency room because the pain got to a point where I was losing hours of sleep and I was barely functional because of it. After going to the ER, I was told that I had gallstones, which also meant that I needed to get surgery to remove them and my gallbladder altogether. It would be my first ever surgery, and I remember crying the night before because I was so scared. I had the surgery about a month later, and it took me about a week to fully recover and go back to school.

Because I did not properly handle my mental health, a lot of my issues carried over into 2013. It was a very weird summer; the person I still had feelings for came back from college and every time they did, those around me would see my personality change. In a way, I was always trying to be something I wasn’t; I constantly tried to show off my ability to “be strong” and tough, yet we all knew it was a facade. I still remember seeing my best friend before going out to an underground show in the city and having a huge argument about putting people on pedestals and who deserves to be on them and such. Again, this was an energy I usually didn’t have whenever I was here on my own just living my day-to-day life. It wasn’t until I was told by my best friend that I switch up whenever this other person comes back into my life. Of course, I denied it, and it wasn’t really until later on in the summer that I realized just how toxic this person was to me, and that it was about time I let them go and out of my life.

I spent one last time with them in my neighborhood that summer. Prior to this last meeting, I had gone through something extremely triggering with them, and instead of feeling appreciative about my actions, I felt like absolute shit getting yelled at over the phone and constantly being called a stupid bitch. I sat on my bathroom floor and constantly asked myself if maybe I was the problem. Was there something wrong with me? Was it some undiagnosed mental illness that made me behave the way I did? In the long run and nearly a decade later, I realized that while yeah, this experience has been the deep rooted cause of my mental health issues in the years to come, I was in a situation where it was nothing good coming out of it, and quite frankly was verbally, emotionally, and psychologically abused for about 2 years by this point. It was scary to go from thinking you have a person in your life who understood you to having literally no one besides the friends that drifted away because of this one person. But, when one door closes, another one opens.

During the summer of 2013, my mom was heavily involved in this TV show that she watched since 2011. Every Sunday night, her and my father would sit in the living room and watch this show and my mother would then go online to the forums to discuss who could have possibly be the perpetrator of these season-long crime cases. I vaguely remember my mother telling me that the first 2 seasons had a major twist at the end, and that the acting of the parents and supporting characters were some of the most raw and realistic acting she has ever seen in television. This particular summer, they were airing season 3 and I just so happened to be in the kitchen while she was watching the third episode of the third season. After that, the rest is truly history.

I was in love with this show, and I swear I probably rewatched the entire series more times than I can fully remember. Although, I did restart the series over the summer and stopped midway into season 3, so perhaps it’s about time I picked it back up and finished the series. AT the time, I was really involved in my Twitter account, and while interacting with the stars of that season and other people in the hashtags, I became a part of the community that we dubbed as “The Killing Fam”. When the show wasn’t renewed for a fourth season yet left us on a major cliffhanger, the community fought to have Netflix or another streaming service platform pick up the season for a fourth season. In November 2013, we were granted that fourth and final season.

This might sound so dramatic and cheesy, but this show and the community saved my life. It felt good to go into a community and feel connected to other people to talk about something that we all enjoy or are passionate about. This show also gave me some true inspiration to start writing my own stories down and honestly, Sarah Linden as a character has inspired so many of my own OCs, it’s kind of insane.

By the end of 2013, I felt like I was becoming the person I wanted to be at the time and for the first time in a long time, I genuinely was happy. It made the transition of going into 2014 a smooth one. I ended the year thankful that despite being in a really shitty situation and thinking I couldn’t come out of it, I found a part of my identity through a community that to this day will thank for literally saving my life. I think that’s why in 2020, transitioning into the K-pop community and finding my identity as a 26 year old was so important and crucial o my healing. Also, I realized that situations like the one I was in will always come up and disguise itself as being something different or new and honestly, I think I was just so traumatized by that toxic situation that I just know when and if something around me is going to turn for the worse. Reflecting back on this time of my life really makes me realize that a lot of this past Liz lived so that the Liz I am today can succeed.

But yeah, here’s to 2023! See you guys for 2024 where, that’s going to be a fun year to reflect back on. See you in the next one!

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

Overexposed: 2023.

January 1st, 2023.

The first day of the year indeed feels like the beginning of a new book of a series you’ve been following along with. You left off with the main character standing on the balcony of someone’s apartment at a party, and as you stand there to look out towards the city and ask yourself, “did I really survive another year?” Atlas, the new book is waiting to be written for the next 365 days. Further character development, new plot twists, and new motifs and themes that are hidden in everyday activity.

Today is the first page of that book.

I don’t know what this year has in store for me. I don’t know if this year will be a calm one, whereas last year was the year that I made so many life-changing choices that it would be nice to have a year where I continue going down this journey of life without having to make significant, life-altering decisions. I want to continue to grow at my job in the Registrar’s Office this year; I would have experienced an entire year of what the Registrar’s Office is like. I want to master everything that I do already and challenge myself to new abilities in my craft and in my career; as much as I’m a creature of habit, I am always looking for ways to push my limits and challenge my anxiety in ways I never was able to do before.

I want to finally do the things I’ve been wanting to do, like travel some more and fly again. I want to go to more events and concerts outside of my comfort zone; see everyone and anything that catches my eye and my attention. I want to simply enjoy my last year in my twenties doing things that I want to do without feeling restricted or constantly judging myself for the decisions I make. I want to be able to look back at my twenties and feel like I did everything that I wanted to do.

2023, I hope that whatever you have in store for me allows me to grow as a person yet continue to challenge myself on things I was too afraid to try or do when I was younger. I hope that you help me embrace my “bad boss bitch” persona that I always wanted to feel like but never could successfully achieve. I hope that with 2023, you help keep everyone in good health and that we are all able to make good memories with the people we love and make it for what it is, especially as we get older.

2023, be good to me.

Reese and Dyl: The Dialogues

Either This or That: A Prologue.

My mom always makes a big fuss about Christmas, which is fine and all, but sometimes I feel like she gets a little crazier as the years’ pass. This year in particular is my parent’s 25th year anniversary. Apparently, my mom and dad got engaged on Christmas Eve and every single year she tells the same story about how my father gifted her an ornament, but then he accidentally dropped it and bam – there goes her engagement ring. It’s a cute story, but it’s literally 2043; nobody does corny little things like that anymore… well, besides my twin sister’s sappy-ass boyfriend.

My twin sister, Dylan, has fallen head over heels for Nathan; a guy in our grade that is the lead guitarist and singer in his band. Their music is cool, but I still don’t get how Dylan ended up with a guy like him. Dyl isn’t ugly or anything, I mean she looks just like me, but Nathan is always fumbling over his words whenever he gets around her, it’s actually disgustingly cute.

Anyway…

My mom walks into the living room in the loudest outfit imaginable; little jingle bells are attached to the hem of the skirt, and every light on in the house is reflecting off of her top. She has her hair up in a bun with a reindeer headband on her head. She throws on her apron and opens the oven, but then closes it after checking on the food. She looks at me sitting on the sofa on my phone without a care in the world.

“Reagan,” my mom calls out for me. I look up from my phone and in her direction. She looks stressed out, which isn’t a shocker to me. My mom is literally Christmas-zilla. “The family is coming over in a few and you’re not even ready yet!”

“Mom, Milo, and Sophie aren’t coming for like another two hours,” I said, slowly getting off the sofa. “And you know Micah and Rosie are always late. I’ll get ready when the time gets closer.”

“I need your help setting up the table, and getting the gifts together for everyone; there’s simply too much for us to do to have you sit around and wait last minute,” my mom argued as she took a tray of food out from the oven.

“Can’t you get Dylan to help?” I whined, not really wanting to have anything to do with the preparation process.

“Dylan is on her way to pick up Nathan with your father,” she answered. “Please, Reagan; get dressed and help me get things together.” I rolled my eyes and headed for my room. I wanted nothing more than to hide under my covers and just disappear for the day. But whatever; I guess I have to go and get an outfit together for this Christmas party.

I eventually exited my bedroom in my holiday outfit. My mom turned around and looked at me with raised eyebrows.

“What?” I questioned.

“Nothing,” my mom answered. “You’re just… really dressed up for a little family Christmas party.”

“Mom, you literally have bells attached to your skirt,” I laughed as I pointed out. “You’re still the queen of Christmas even in my little sparkly red party dress.”

“Well, I like the dress on you,” my mom smiled as she continued prepping in the kitchen. My mom was definitely an interesting woman. She’s a retired dancer-now-business-owner of the Castro Dance Academy; something that she created when she was young. She sometimes felt more like a friend than a mom, but when she felt like my mom, there was no doubt she was my mom. Despite our major differences, I think between my sister and me, I am a lot more like my mom, which is annoying but inevitable at this point.

“Is Dyl wearing a nice dress too?” I asked.

“I actually didn’t get to see what she was wearing, but you know it’s probably something really outside of her comfort zone if Nathan is coming over,” she answered. I walked into the kitchen and grabbed the file of clean dishes to place on the dining room plate. “I think she’s nervous.”

“I’d be too if I brought a boy over around this family,” I said without even thinking twice. “Like, Dyl has not only two older brothers but a twin sister that would literally knock that guy’s teeth out if he breaks her heart.”

“Nathan is a nice guy,” my mom stated. Nathan was a nice guy, but there was always something off about him that I could never put my finger on. “I hope that you will meet a nice guy like him in the future.”

“Please,” I scoffed. “Nice guys don’t exist in the city.”

“Your father was a nice guy,” she mentioned.

“Yeah, well dad was in love with you the moment he laid eyes on you,” I rolled my eyes and said to my mom. “Dad doesn’t count.”

“I think you’re selling yourself short,” my mom put the oven mitten down on the counter and looked at me. “You’re a beautiful and smart young lady, and any man would be glad to be with you.” I didn’t say anything back; not because I didn’t have anything to say back, but because there was nothing else to say back. I didn’t really want to date after my last breakup. My high-school sweetheart ended up being another girl’s high-school sweetheart, and it nearly fucking crushed me finding out that he was eventually going to leave me for this other girl, which made me even question if I was pretty enough to even keep a guy in my life. I eventually turned my sadness into some dark humor and here I am, trying to somewhat make it in the city as an aspiring female comedian… because fuck men and their dominance in this business to begin with.

“Yeah well I wear men’s repellant as perfume so,” I said as I finished setting up the plates on the dining room table. “That’s not going to happen.”

It was so good to see Nate after him being on tour for the last three months. He walked out from his gate at the airport and immediately saw me and smiled. I don’t even think I heard my dad call out my name once I started to run toward Nate. I wanted nothing more than to jump in his arms and kiss him.

“Nate!” I called out for him as I ran towards him. He dropped his bags and embraced me as I hugged him Gosh, it felt like heaven being able to touch him in the flesh again. I missed him. I missed us.

“Hey, Bob Dylan,” Nate laughed as he called me by my nickname. Nate thought that “Bob Dylan” would be a cute nickname even though it’s not really a nickname. Still, it was cute that he had a cute name for me. “I missed you.” He gave me the softest and most gentle kiss. I can’t lie; I definitely wanted more.

“Not as much as I missed you,” I stated. “Seriously, I’m so glad that you’re here.”

“Me too,” he said as we continued to walk toward my dad. When we finally get to him, I can feel Nate quickly letting his arm go from around me. I still find it funny that even though Nate and I have been dating since high school, he was still nervous around my dad.

“Nice to see you, Nathan,” my dad gave Nate a stern handshake.

“It’s nice to see you too, Mr. Kamalani,” Nate answered. My dad didn’t say anything back, we just began to walk toward the parking garage where we parked. It took my dad quite some time to get used to Nate and me being a couple. He very much scared Nate shitless when we started to date, but I think after a while he got used to it and even started to like Nate… I think. My dad acts like he does, but my dad’s not the greatest actor; he’s a music teacher for a reason.

The car ride back home was the most awkward part of the day. I sat in the front seat with my dad in the driver’s seat as Nate sat in the back seat with his bags. I couldn’t help but check on him through the rear mirror every other minute.

“So, Nathan,” my father began to say. “How was the tour?”

“It was amazing,” Nate said with a smile on his face. “Such an amazing experience to open up for such a great band.”

“Who did you guys open for?” My dad seemed like he was genuinely interested in Nate’s music career. I sometimes think that he only likes Nate because he was a musician, or maybe that was the reason he was so cautious with Nate like musicians know other musicians?

“Tales of Thomas,” Nate answered. My father didn’t react, probably because he doesn’t know the music scene that Nate plays in. In a nutshell, Tales of Thomas was a heavy metal band that, well, is notorious for heavy mosh pits and tons of crowd surfing. I saw them in concert, but from what Nate has told me; it’s a concert that you have to have health insurance.

“How many songs did your band perform?” I asked, even though I knew the answer. They performed five.

“Five songs,” Nate answered. “For one show, we were able to do six and an encore. It was so dope.”

I looked at my dad, who continued to look forward at the road as he continued to listen to Nate talk about his tour life. While I loved when Nate spoke about his music career and tour life, it would always make me sad when he did so. I loved that Nate and his band were finally blowing up and going to different cities to perform, but I missed when Nate was in his basement still making music every day after school. I love Nate, but sometimes I felt like Nate and I were more so in a long-distance relationship the more recognition his band was getting.

I catch my dad looking at me, in which I looked at him back and flashed a smile, letting him know that I was okay.

Reagan: Is that what you’re wearing to the party today?

Reagan looked at Dylan as she entered the house. Dylan looks down at her outfit; a pair of jeans and a thick, knit hoodie with black and white converse on. Dylan looks back up at Reagan.

Dylan: What’s wrong with it?

Reagan: You’re going to make me look overdressed if you wear that!

Dylan: Then why are you wearing that fancy dress to this holiday party?

Reagan widened her eyes to emphasize her point.

Reagan: It’s a holiday party! What do you mean why I’m wearing this! Dyl, please go and put something else on so I don’t look stupid.

Dylan: Why don’t you go and change?

Dylan looked at her sister, to which Reagan rolled her eyes and sucked her teeth.

Reagan: Wow, Dyl; You’re really going to wear that outfit to a party that your boyfriend is going to be attending?

Reagan scoffed as she crossed her arms along her chest. Dylan scrunches her eyebrows together; annoyed at her sister.

Dylan: My boyfriend doesn’t care about how I dress up.

Reagan: Yeah, that’s what they all say just to get the girl at first.

Dylan: *defensive* How would you know? Carter dumped you in high school and you haven’t had a boyfriend since!

Without even realizing it, Reagan pushes Dylan away from her, which makes Dylan angry.

Dylan: Don’t be mad at me for speaking the truth!

Dylan pushes Reagan back, which immediately sets her off. She grabs Dylan’s hoodie and begins to fight with her; Dylan tries to fight back by grabbing Reagan’s hair. It’s not long after that their mom, Jennifer, and their dad, Milo Sr. come rushing into the living room to separate the girls.

Milo Sr: Hey! That’s enough!

Eventually, Dylan is pulled away by Milo Sr. and Reagan is pulled away by Jennifer. They continue to yell at each other from across the room as Milo Sr and Jennifer try to calm thier young, twin daughters before the holiday party later on. They look at each other knowing that they have no chance in ever calming these girls down.

Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

A Reflection of 2022.

The last time a year ended in a 2, I wanted to kill myself. No seriously, I was suicidal. This time around, I wanted to live my life to the fullest. No seriously, I was the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

2022 was a year of challenges. I wanted to enter this year doing things that I normally wouldn’t have done in the past mainly because I did not have the confidence to do so. I began the year with a new wave of confidence; I was about 60 pounds down in my weight loss journey, and I was ready to finally get out of my shell after being tucked away in it for so long because I never felt confident enough to come out of it.

At the beginning of 2022, I finally felt like it was my time to leave the bookstore and begin a new chapter of my life. My chapter at the bookstore was one that I needed when I did, and it was a chapter that lasted about 2 and a half years. Toward the end, I knew my time was coming; I knew I was growing out of the job and needed to embark on a new journey. My mentor, Ro, connected me to a guy that worked in Academic Support. I helped him put together the syllabus for the remedial English class offered for students who don’t meet the proficiency levels in reading and writing to take the first level of English, ENG 111. I hoped that after working n that project, I was going to be hired to work within that department of that school, but with budget cuts and all that stuff going on behind the scenes, it wasn’t possible for me to take on this position as my regular job. It wasn’t until the end of January 2022 that I was reached out by that same guy, asking me if I was interested in working in the Registrar’s Office. After having a good and long conversation with those around me, I made the decision to leave the bookstore and take the job at the Registrar’s Office.

Embarking on a new journey meant that new issues and challenges also came up in my life. This was the year that I realized just how bad I need control over my life in order to feel okay with things around me and for me be able to move forward with my day. For the things I simply did not have control over, I would find ways to control parts of my life that really didn’t need to be controlled; even something as small as how much food I take in from the day because I was too worried to gain the weight that I lost back. It was a learning experience to be okay with the fact that I can only control things like my behavior, my mindset, and my actions. As I was learning this, I realized a lot of this stemmed from a place of uncertainty and fear of change. There was a point when I regretted all the changes I made in such a short amount of time, but then I would remember that I made these decisions because this was what I wanted when I made it in the first place. It took a lot of rewiring my brain to finally feel like I belonged at my job and that I was actually doing it correctly, y’know? I came from a place where I was the most knowledgeable about the job I was in to now being in an office with women who were the most knowledgeable workers about the job. It fucked with my head knowing that I was going to make tons of mistakes and yet I kept telling myself that I was a horrible worker.

With the proper guidance and support in my life, I was able to finally feel at ease in my position at my job and just life in general. It gave me the space to finally allow a friend back into my life after us slowly falling out earlier that year. It gave me the confidence to finally be my complete self without any judgment or second-guessing if someone liked me or not. It gave me the time needed to finally trust people again after feeling like I was on this journey of my life by myself for the first couple of months.

2022 taught me a lot about myself and opened sides of myself that I didn’t know existed in me.

I feel like I am finally comfortable and confident enough as a person and I can finally allow myself to be how I always imagined myself in my head. I’m not the main character whatsoever, but I am more so the side character with a couple of important scenes to have the audience thinking “wait, maybe the main character should listen to her quirky best friend” or some shit like that. I am the person that you were introduced as shy and private; didn’t speak often and when they did, they didn’t say much either. It’s not until I have something to say that I finally feel like I speak my mind and show my personality a bit more. Once I get comfortable though… I’m nothing like I was in the beginning.

I guess my year has just been the year that I was challenged by new anxiety and issues and finally found a way for it to not completely alter my progress or journey in the long run. What I mean by that is that in the past, I would be completely content with how my life is going until something out of my control happened. When that happens, it’s like everything else around me goes downhill, and depending on how severe that event was, it could take me years to finally feel that level of happiness and contentment with life again. I was afraid that this was going to be the year that I would fall down again and start from nothing once more, leaving me hoping that 2023 would be the year that it all changed for the better.

I’m glad that I was wrong.

I’m glad that despite the new challenges I had to face, I was still able to make the most out of what I could for the year. Like, I went to see both the Game Grumps and Demi Lovato in person; two of the acts that have been on my bucket list for years to see live. Not only did I go to these shows, but I also went to them by myself and enjoyed my solo adventures. I’m glad that despite the hardships I faced, I was able to go day by day and try to make the most of it and get by with what I had. I’m glad that even though I found myself at times in bad head spaces and in poor mental health, I ultimately didn’t lose who I was and what I was becoming.

2022 was a continuation of my journey, but somehow felt like there were parts of myself that felt completely new; a feeling I haven’t had for quite some time now. I don’t feel like the person I was when I entered the year, and I will probably not be the same person when ending 2023 in a year! It’s interesting that I am learning parts of myself like I was meeting a new person in my life, and that has been something I’ve been enjoying in this chapter of my life.

2022, thank you for allowing me to gain the confidence and courage that has always been on me yet needed to be awakened. I feel like I am 8 years old again, not being afraid to talk and be myself around people and having this spunk that made me funny and sassy and just what I’ve always imagined “Liz” would be.

I’m glad to say I feel like that little girl again, just 20 years older and a hell of a lot nicer. Haha!

Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Overexposed: How Going to The Gym Affected my Self-Esteem.

Back in 2017, I signed up for a gym membership to a gym that opened up in my neighborhood. I told myself that it was finally the right time to go and start working out in hopes that I can lose some weight that I noticeably gained since starting grad school.

I never went.

During the time that I was getting cleared to have weight loss surgery, my doctors recommended that I start going to the gym and try to start losing weight on my own so that I could try to lose weight and tone my body as I was getting cleared to have weight loss surgery. I told myself I was going to take the doctor’s advice and go to the gym to get my body ready for the year of testing it will go through in order to get the surgery done.

I never went.

After officially hitting my one-year anniversary since having weight loss surgery, I was getting nervous that the weight was slowing down. I thought I wasn’t going to lose any more weight because the momentum officially plateaued. My nutritionist recommended that exercise and weight lifting would be good to keep the momentum going. I’m not going to lie, it was something I dismissed because I was just really scared of going to the gym on my own and be sweaty in front of other people who have probably been loyal gym members for years on end. Something told me to take the chance and at least try it for the sake of my weight loss journey.

I finally went.

Hi, my name is Liz, and going to the gym has affected my self-esteem in a way I never thought it could.

It made me even more confident.

Going to the gym is something I feel like you have to be in the right mindset to actually join and go to. It’s one of those things that are easier said than done; I mean, it’s literally why most gyms market their businesses at the start of the new year because people always say they will start going to the gym at the start of a new year. Do people actually stick to their word? Maybe some, but there’s a reason why it’s such a common response to the whole “New Year’s Resolution” question. But, I get it because I was one of them.

When you don’t feel good in your own skin, you do whatever you need to cover it up and hide it from the world. You don’t purposely got to the place where you are at your most vulnerable to work on something that you don’t want to show to the public. You constantly think that people who are more fit or tone look at you different because you are out of shape or think you’re “fatter” than everyone else.

Sadly, it’s the mindset that most people have about the gym; I did.

But it wasn’t until I found myself weighing out the pros and cons of going to the gym. Of course, my biggest con was that Iwas afraid to simply be sweaty and out of breath in front of people in public. I was also afraid of the superiority personality that some gym goers have and judge you for going too slow or too fast on a machine (or perhaps you are using the machine wrong). I was just afraid of entering a new world that I never really belonged in, but it was my major pro that finally got me to the gym.

I worked hard to get where I am on this journey and I was going to do whatever it takes to keep it going.

I told myself that the gym was the next step in my journey and that I couldn’t rely on my body to naturally lose the weight like it did at the beginning. I now need to take the additional steps, and I guess when it came down to the wire, my journey meant more to be than my anxiety, and it didn’t hurt to try it out. Now that I finally joined a gym in my neighborhood, I find myself not worrying about those things. To come and think of it; I actually found myself debunking all these gym myths once I started going myself.

Now, the gym has become my escape to distress after a long day, or if I need a quick pick-me-up after being down all day.

I won’t lie and say that I had to push myself to a gym. I was nervous, yeah, but I was already at a place in my life where I felt the confidence needed to join and actually keep going after the first time. It’s natural for us to gain some confidence when we lose weight, even if it’s the smallest amount. It’s not easy losing weight, and when you do lose some, you gain a wave of confidence! For me, I was finally at a point in my life where I felt comfortable with my body in public and showing it more to the public whether it was in tighter clothes or going to places like the gym.

There’s nothing like blasting music through your headphones and go to different machines and challenge myself for about an hour. I started on the treadmill, which then began rowing, and eventually I got to the point where I am experimenting on different machines and seeing which ones I like working on the most! As I’m writing this, I definitely have to go back to the gym since I’ve been slacking off badly, but I legit always feel the greatest when I leave the gym, and that’s something that I didn’t know the gym would give me that experience.

Whenever you feel ready to go the gym (even if it’s just for an escape), I hope that you are able to use the gym as a place where you can just feel better in the moment if you’re having a bad day or a bad week and whatnot. Sometimes, I solely go to the gym just because I need to get away and release some stress and anxiety in a more healthier way. It’s come a part of my “coping mechanism” options, and it works every single time that I need to calm down from whatever was bothering me or making me anxious.

It’s okay to not be ready, and if you are ready; do it for your mental as you work on that physical!

The "Something" Series: Season 2, Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Something I Couldn’t Do: A Jamie Monologue.

The rain has gotten heavier these past couple of days since the seasons are changing. The leaves that fall from the trees have been drenched in rain; stuck on the streets, not getting a chance to dry up and blow away in the wind.

When I first arrived back in Korea, I couldn’t sleep for three days straight. My sisters kept questioning me by constantly calling my cell phone to check on me. After the first 10 calls, I forwarded them all to voicemail. Shawn went back to his apartment in Incheon; Kevin went to Seoul to be with JooAh at her apartment. They haven’t spoken to each other since leaving America, which worries me. They had arguments in the past, but they were always close enough friends to work things out. It makes me worried for Shawn; this wasn’t like him to keep a grudge or be so serious about something like this. It proves my point that he was truly in love with Skylar. Is.

On this particular night, I keep tossing and turning in my bed; uncomfortable. After a couple of failed attempts, I throw the sheets off my body and look at the window, watching the rain hit the glass and drip down.

It was only when I heard a knock on my front door that made me turn my head away from it.

I slowly get out of bed and grabbed my robe from behind my bedroom door. The knocks get louder as I walk closer to it. I opened the door, expecting it to be the landlord or a neighbor of some sort. Instead, it was Shawn. He stood in the hallway with an umbrella in one hand, dripping on the carpet in the hallway. His raincoat is soaked with rain; the hood is over his head.

“Shawn,” I huffed. I turned my head around to see the clock on the wall; it reads 3:45 in the morning. “It’s the middle of the night; what are you doing here?”

“I couldn’t sleep,” he simply answered. I sighed and opened the door for him to walk in. At the door, I take his rainwear and put them in the bathroom to let them dry off. When I got back to the living room, Shawn stood in the middle of it. Again, this wasn’t like Shawn to act this way. He turned around the look at me. I simply pointed my hand towards the couch.

“You could sleep on the couch,” I said as I slowly dragged my feet away from the living room, walking towards the bedroom.

“Hyung,” Shawn called out. I turned around and raised my eyebrows to answer him. Shawn picked at his hands; he was clearly nervous about something.

“What is it, Shawn?” I answered, coming off a little too harsh. This wasn’t the first time Shawn has come to my apartment unannounced in the middle of the night. Normally, he would quietly lay on the couch, and then he was gone before I woke up the next morning. I understand; maybe seeing Kevin’s stuff still in their apartment was making him even more angry or upset at the situation, but Shawn needs to learn how to pick his life back up and do what he was doing before going to California. I need Shawn to just makeup with Kevin, be his spontaneous self, and let the world feel right again for once.

“I’m not happy being back in Korea,” Shawn said. “I feel more of a foreigner here than I did in America. Why is that?” Because you found a home in a person. I walk back toward the couch and sit next to Shawn. He hasn’t moved or even looked anywhere else but forward; it was like he was trying to figure out the math behind this whole situation.

“It’s been a while since you’ve been here,” I lied. I didn’t want to get deep into the real reason, because I have no idea if Shawn has been drinking tonight or where his mind is. I didn’t want to add any more stress or pressure to what he was already going through.

“I didn’t feel this way when we were in New York,” Shawn emphasized and looked at me, clearly annoyed at my response. “I went to New York twice, and I was able to come back home and be a normal man living this normal life. I haven’t done that since coming back from California. But I don’t live in America. My English is subpar at best, and I was only there for 2 months. So, why is it that I feel like I’m not home anymore?”

“I think you already know the answer,” I said with honesty. I knew the feeling Shawn was talking about because I experienced it myself. The man that was in New York the first time was left in New York. He never came back, and it pains me to see that Shawn will never be back to what he was.

“Does it get any easier, hyung?” Shawn finally looked at me with soft, gentle yet tiring eyes. I don’t answer right away because the answer is no. It doesn’t. We know that there’s nothing for us to do to make this easier or better unless we leave our entire lives behind. It’s so easy to want to fight for something and say you will do whatever it takes to keep it, but what happens when the things that are keeping you stuck are things like your job and your family? What do you do when you feel like a leaf that is on the ground, stuck due to the heavy amounts of rainfall?

I simply shook my head, truly at a loss for words. Shawn looked down at his palms before speaking again.

“Kevin came by today,” Shawn started to say. “He was beginning to gather the last of his things in the apartment.”

“Shawn, you know he’s not leaving because of you,” I tried to reassure Shawn before any intrusive thoughts began to seep into his mind. “He’s going to be a father. He needs to be with JooAh during this time.”

“Kevin’s probably the only one out of the three of us actually sleeping at night these days,” Shawn mocked. “He’s happy he’s back home with the girl he loves…”

“You can’t be mad at Kevin for stepping up and coming back,” I said, trying to be stern with Shawn. I need him to understand that Kevin is literally doing the one thing I couldn’t do when I was back in America, and that was to be there for Grace when she needed me the most. “He got his girlfriend pregnant, and now he is owning up to his responsibility. You can’t be mad at him forever for doing just that. I mean, what would have you done if you found out that Skylar–” I immediately stopped talking. This had to have been the first time since coming back that anyone has ever said her name out loud. I wish I didn’t; but I did, and the wrath that is Shawn slowly pours out.

“I wouldn’t be as careless to get a woman in another country pregnant without marrying her,” Shawn spat out. I knew it was supposeto be an insult to me, but I won’t give Shawn the satisfaction knowing his insults affect me. Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing Shawn complain about al of this without actually doing something about it. Was this what Shawn and Kevin had to deal with whenever I had to come back from New York?

“My point being is that you would do whatever you need to do to be with Skylar because you love her,” I continued to say. “I hope you would understand at least that; as a man that loves someone, you would understand Kevin putting JooAh above all else.”

“I don’t love Skylar,” Shawn snapped back. “How can I love someone that I fucking can’t be with?”

“Shawn, please,” I said as I grew more frustrated at the situation. “You’re obviously still in love with Skylar and you can’t come to forgive Kevin because he was the one that shortened our trip, that shortened your time with the woman you love; but, has it occur to you that even if Kevin didn’t have to come back to Korea, you would still have to leave Skylar behind because you were meant to come back.” Shawn stood up to be face-to-face with me, clearly angry at where this conversation was going.

“Then why fall in love with Grace if you knew that was always the result?” Shawn asked. I didn’t budge. I didn’t want Shawn to know that his words are getting to me because I didn’t owe anything to Shawn. I can always kick him out of the apartment and tell him to deal with his broken heart on his own. But I don’t. Maybe I don’t because I need to hear this. Maybe I don’t because I want to tell Shawn all of the things I wished someone told me when there was still time to amend things. Maybe I don’t because I know Shawn is capable of doing the things I couldn’t do. Shawn scoffs before he speaks again. “I don’t know, maybe you never loved grace if you were able to leave her all those times.”

“If you are claiming to love Skylar, then why not do something about it?” I said, angry now at this conversation. “Seriously though. Why not get your visa, go back to America, get your woman, and then live there to be with her since you clearly love Skylar more than I ever loved Grace.” I get up from the couch, ready to leave Shawn to dwell in his thoughts.

“Would she forgive me if I do?” Shawn said, almost inaudible. I looked at him to see his face completely turn soft. Worrisome. Debatable. I sit back down on the couch and didn’t say anything.

“If you do what?” I asked, even though I know exactly what he was talking about. I just didn’t want to believe it right away that he was serious in what he was thinking about doing. Shawn-ah…? Shawn sighs and answers to the air.

“If I go back to America for her,” he answered. I thought the insomnia was just talking but this was the most coherant I’ve seen Shawn be in the last month since being back in Korea. He was serious. I know he was serious, because I use to have these thoughts all the time every time I came back from America. But, I never had someone to actually talk it out with. Maybe that’s what makes Shawn and I different; he was able to voice out the things he was planning to do or wanted to do. Maybe tonight, he just wanted to tell me that he was thinking about going back and just needed someone that was once in this situation tell him if it was worth it or not. Shawn knows my answer. He knows what I’m about to say, and I don’t know if what I’m about to say would even matter to Shawn. I know he’s made his mind up already about this.

“What about your life here?” I asked. “I mean, you’re leaving your whole life behind to be with a woman you spent two months with–“

“Don’t give me that shit, hyung!” Shawn yelled. “You fell in love with Grace as soon as you started to spend all your time with her! You spent all hours of the day and night with Grace in New York! You spent your last hours in New York with her! You were amess every time you had to come back here! For fuck’s sake, you had it all with her and yet you fucking left her again for this?!”

“I had to think about what made sense instead of my emotions, Shawn,” I spat back. “My career is here, my family is here; apartment, friends, and everything else that I built here! This is my home, and I couldn’t leave that behind. We are not the same, Shawn–“

“We aren’t,” Shawn snapped back. “I don’t have a family with this huge hold on me to literally stay in a place where you don’t fucking feel like you belong anymore because the happiest version of yourself is in another country,” he stated. Shawn’s family consist of his parents and younger sister, and even then their family dynamic is different than the one I had with mine. Maybe Shawn is able to leave his life behind in Korea for Skylar. What is here that is truly holding him back? Me? Kevin? I know Shawn doesn’t care about that. I know he would take the next flight out to America tonight if it meant he would be with Skylar.

The first time I came back to Korea after meeting Grace, I thought about going back to New York at least 3 times a day. I eventually wanted to leave my life behind for Grace, so why didn’t I stay when I went back for her? Why did I get the one-year work visa and didn’t marry Grace and be with her? Would have she wanted that? Would she think I was only marrying her to stay in the country? Would she even care if that was the main reason why I wanted to marry her, aside from being completely in love with her? Why the fuck didn’t you stay, Jaemin-ah?

“Then go,” I said, defeated. “Go after Skylar, Shawn. If you love her, you have to show her that you do. Be her girlfriend; show her that you are serious about her, because we all know you are. And the language? You’ll pick it up quick. You might have to take some English language classes to speak English better. I know you would, because I know you. I know you would do anything for Skylar, and at least showing her that you want to be with her and make a life for yourself in America.” Shawn just looked at me, not really saying anything every time I gave him a chance to say something. Maybe he was just exhausted. Maybe he really is considering everything I’m saying. I don’t know anymore, because this Shawn is a Shawn that is a product of what he left behind in Californina, and at this point I just want my friends to be happy in their lives, even if that meant that it was too late for me to fix what makes me happy.

“I want to go back to California to Skylar,” Shawn finally admitted. “I want to be with her.” I smiled at Shawn’s decision. This was the most mature thing Shawn has done at least in the years I’ve known him. I was happy to see him make a decision for himself. I was happy to see Shawn do what I couldn’t do, and I can only hope that Shawn is serious enough to not hurt Skylar again.

“Then go be with her,” I said. “You both deserve to be happy.”

Black Sheep in Society: Season 2, Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

A Black Sheep’s Trust Issues: Two Monologues.

I couldn’t concentrate, and that pisses me the fuck off.

Dani kept looking at me whenever I fucked up a chord or missed a beat in rehearsal. If it weren’t for Tanner, she would’ve definitely ripped my head off. But the truth behind it was that I was fuming. My body was hot like it was on fire. For fuck’s sake, Roe; are you that fucking stupid?

I immediately hung the phone up when I saw Rosie walk out of that asshole’s car on campus. The more I looked at him, the more I wanted to punch his plastic-looking teeth in, and the more I looked at Rosie with him, the more I wanted to yank her away and punch his fucking face. She looked up at him and fucking smiled in his face like everything was peachy-fuckin-keen and like he didn’t hospitalize her a month ago.

She looked at him like she completely forgot about kissing me that night at my place.

“Yo, dude!” Dani calls out. I rolled my eyes at her.

“What?” I said, more annoyed than anything. Dani placed her notebook on the chair next to her.

“What the fuck is wrong with you today?” Dani asked. “Like, you fucking suck today.”

“Well if I suck, then why the fuck did you want me for your rehearsal?” I spat back.

“If I knew you were going to half-ass it today, I wouldn’t have bothered,” Dani quickly snapped back. Tanner, like he always does, comes to stand in between us to cool us off.

“Don’t you both have an off day of not cussing at each other?” Tanner said. Dani doesn’t respond and I don’t either. Tanner sighs, and then looks at me. Why the fuck am I always the one that gets looked at first? “Dude, are you okay?”

“Fuck this shit,” I got up and started to pack my things. This wouldn’t have been the first time I allowed my emotions to get the best of my rehearsal time. The last time something like this happened, it was when–

“I thought you walking out of practice would’ve stopped after Kalia broke up with you,” Dani emphasized. “Guess bitches will always get you in your bag.”

“Fuck you, Dani,” I spat more than actually said. “How about you worry about your goddamn self and your relationship instead of getting in my business.”

“Come on, dude, just–” Tanner began to say, but I was also tired of his shit at this point.

“Shut up, Tanner; just tend to your annoying ass bitch,” I responded and grabbed my bag. Dani ran after me, but all I could hear is Tanner trying to calm her down.

“Fuck you, Micah! You aren’t shit and you aren’t ever gonna be shit!” Dani yelled.

I slammed the door shut and left.

The thing about me is that I learned that no matter what, you’ll be by yourself. You were born alone, and you’re gonna die alone. So, why as a society we allow other people get to us? Why do we let them affect us so fucking much to the point you’re fucked up in the head? Why the fuck would I ever let a girl like Rosie Delgado get to my fucking head?

Rosie has proven herself time and time again why she can’t be trusted. Rosie is the type of person that will tell you one thing, but then will go to another person and say something completely different. She will say one thing that makes you think she’s letting you in, and then she will act like you’re a complete stranger. When you tell her that you care about her and her well-being, she would literally tell you to fuck off. So, once again; why the fuck would I ever let a girl like Rosie Delgado get to me?

I walk down the streets of Brooklyn with my equipment in my backpack and my hands deep in my coat pockets. The cold air turns hot with every breath I let escape my mouth. I looked around as I walked under the train tracks that the D train run on. Grown women with short dresses and high heels walk toward cars that are parked along the sidewalk. They remind me of Rosie. Fuck, wouldn’t be surprised if that was–

Micah, don’t.

I shouldn’t have kissed Rosie the same night she told me about her junkie ex-boyfriend in Philadelphia and how she used to pick up dates to make extra money in the streets. She bluntly told me that she did what she did because she was comfortable doing it. Did that mean she was comfortable with men treating her like shit? Does she think so poorly of people in this society that she would just shrug off the shitty way that people treat her? Has she lost faith in humanity because she’s seen it all being out in these streets? Again, these were the things about Rosie I never understood; one minute she could be a normal girl hanging out and talking about college assignments and art stuff, and the next she can be dressing up like a 26-year-old trying to pick up older men that have steady jobs so that she can get paid more money. Maybe I never knew Rosie. Maybe I shared some personal shit with a complete stranger.

That pisses me the fuck off.

I walked into a corner store and walk towards the back where the fridges were. I grabbed a bottle of beer and confidently walked toward the counter. I guess it was always about how confident you walked with the alcohol in your hands that makes people not check to see if you’re actually old enough. Or maybe people just didn’t give a shit anymore. Maybe I gotta stop giving a shit.

I didn’t go home that night.

I took off my shirt while the shower was running. I stood in front of the mirror in my bra, looking at the bruises on my hips. They don’t hurt much these days, but I do wish they would just go away. I wish a lot of things went away.

I told Hudson I was going to do better the night I got discharged from the hospital. I watched him pack my things into bags and get everything together. Sometimes, I just watch Hudson and get so fucking sad; I don’t deserve someone like him caring about me like I was his daughter. I’m not his daughter, and sometimes I think he forgets that; a part of me feels like he’s trying to make up for all the lost time he had with his own daughter that was kidnapped and killed when she was a teenager. I don’t feel worthy being a place-holder for his daughter. His daughter would’ve probably made better decisions than me.

“So, you’re going to call me when you go to and from the campus, okay?” Hudson said as he zipped one of the bags. I nodded my head, too tired to really say words. “Okay, Rosie?” Hudson emphasized.

“Okay, okay; sheesh,” I answered back. Hudson walked toward me and sat in the chair across from where I was sitting.

“Rosie, I have to trust you in order for me to keep an eye on you,” he explained. “You can’t tell me you’re one place when really you’re in trouble.”

“I know, Hudson,” I wanted nothing more than to get this conversation over and done with. Hudson was growing annoyed with me.

“No, Rosie; you don’t,” he stated. “I’m not trying to micromanage your every move, but when I get a call that you’ve been hospitalized for a man putting his hands on you, things are different.”

“Oh, so because a man decided to beat me up, now I’m the one that gets punished and has to check in at every fucking point of my day?” I asked, angry that Hudson feels the need to watch over me even more than he does.

“Who was he, Rosie? Huh?” Hudson asked. He’s asked me the same question ever since he got to New York to be with me during my stay at the hospital. I didn’t want to make this a bigger deal than what it really was, so I told Hudson I didn’t know the guy. I gave him some half-assed story about how I was fighting off the guy that attacked me for my money. Huh, good thing I wasn’t dead; my coroner’s report would’ve shown that I didn’t fight back the attacker at all. But, I know Hudson knows I was lying to him. He knows I know who it was, and even though he’s not pushing me to know the answer, he knows I know who the guy is. Someone who doesn’t know you wouldn’t have known to bruise the already bruises that were on my body.

“I don’t know, Hudson,” I said, defeated. “I just want to go home. Can you please drop me back at the dorms?” He didn’t know I lived off of campus in some shitty abandoned movie theater apartment either, making it even easier to feel like I don’t deserve someone like Hudson caring about me.

He didn’t fight me anymore about who the guy was. He did what I asked him to do without questioning me any further.

Before I could get in the shower, I hear my front door being banged on. I turned to look outside of the bathroom, terrified at who it could be. It’s fucking 11 o’clock at night; who the fuck is banging on my door like that? I put my shirt back on and walked out of the bathroom. I walked towards the closet nearest to me and took out the broom for protection. I held it like a bat in my hand. I slowly walked closer to the door as the door kept being banged on.

“Rosie? Rosie, I know you’re fucking in there,” the voice from outside said. It finally clicks.

Micah?