Anger in the Wrong Places

Has anyone ever just felt so much anger towards someone, but deep down, you know it’s not their fault? Deep down, you know they don’t deserve the magnitude of anger you’re feeling?

Lately, I’ve been feeling angry at my dad. Why?

Well, obviously, it’s because since my mom passed, he’s shown more relief than he has sorrow. This is a man that less than a week after his wife’s death said, “Oh, is your sister still crying over that?” To be fair, they had a very rocky relationship. My mother clearly loved us but clearly resented him for all his pestering and refusing to give her her space.

Obviously, it’s because the house is a mess and he makes no effort to maintain it. And when I point out spills that occurred several days ago, he tells me to clean it. Excuse me, I haven’t been here for weeks!

Obviously, it’s because all he can talk about is how sad he is me and my sister are not religious, and we’re not going to pray for him when he dies. It seems the only reason he wants us to be religious is because he’s scared he’s going to go to hell, not because he actually cares about us. And, my mom would’ve never done this! She wants us to be religious because she wants us to save ourselves, but she never pushed it because she knew how it made us felt.

But…could that be it? Is that why I’ve been so moody lately?

Maybe I’ve been so angry at him is because it feels like I’ve lost the only parent that truly cared about me. The only parent that felt like a real parent. My dad was the typical, brown partiarch of the house, the breadwinner, but he was not around much. And I have good memories of him, but they’re from when I was so young. At least a decade has passed.

My sister put it best when she said that he just feels like a stranger. Yes, he’s my dad, but he just seems like this man that demands too much out of us without giving much in return. He’s just there. It’s so hard to have a conversation with him because I can’t talk about my life without him turning it to religion, and even if he doesn’t, he can’t reply or contribute. All we can talk about is the grades I’ve been making. And that’s a conversation that lasts for 5 minutes, maximum.

So, maybe I’ve been angry because he isn’t my mom, he can’t provide me what I got from my mom. I didn’t talk to my mom as often as I should’ve, but I could have conversations with her about her thoughts on religion, family, anything really without her reprimanding me.

So, maybe I’ve been angry because it’s a saddness manifested in anger. A saddness that I won’t get those things again from a parent.

And that anger is unfair to place on my dad because, simply, it’s not his fault.

If you’ve read this far and aren’t my sister, I wanted to say thanks for reading. I didn’t really expect anyone else to read this. But, it’s been more therapeutic than anything, to the point I’m ready to interact with my dad again.



Fishing for Likes by the River

There is one memory that stands out to me as the epitome of social media today.

A year or two ago, a few friends and I were going to visit another friend, let’s call her Jenny, in a cute (but rundown) rivertown. Jenny was always a popular girl and very likable, a girl who can easily get 150 likes on her photos now. When we got there, we decided to visit the river and take some fun pictures. (In fact, my header photo is a picture from that day.) Jenny decided to take a picture and then upload it on Instagram with a nice, reminiscent caption. “Okay, you guys all have to go and like my picture,” Jenny said. We laughed, because after all, what are friends for? There is an unspoken agreement that you always like your close friends’ pictures, no matter how atrocious it is.

Then, an hour or two passes by. “Wait, nobody liked me picture!” Jenny exclaimed. “Was it my caption?” she wondered aloud. Confused, I glanced over at her photo because, after all, this was Jenny. She was popular and likable! How could she not get any likes? I scanned the phone screen to see the likes, and I see she got a hefty 30-40 likes. “What do you mean you didn’t get any likes?” I asked, confused. That was a good 30-40 people liking her photo! Imagine putting all those people in a small room. It would fill up! “No,” Jenny murmured, “it’s just not enough. That’s basically nothing!”

Quite some more time passes by (but not without Jenny checking the picture every few minutes). “Ahh!” Jenny exclaimed, “It’s really close to 50! Maybe there’s hope for this picture after all!” The rest of us rolled our eyes. “Jenny, calm down. Who cares about an instagram picture?” one of my other friends asked, raising his eyebrow. “I care!” Jenny said as she tried to shoot us a glare but then failed miserably by giggling.

Another few minutes pass by, and Jenny is anxiously checking her phone. “You know what, I’ll just take this picture off and repost it at another time with a better caption. It’ll get more likes then.” We rolled our eyes again, but it was definitely more pronounced this time – to make sure she definitely saw. “Jenny, you’re being ridiculous.” Jenny waved her hand to dismiss us, and she deleted the photo.

An hour or two later, she decides to repost the picture (with a different caption). By the time we decide to leave, the picture easily receives 50 likes, and Jenny’s content. “Oh my God guys, my picture received 50 likes!” We laughed, “Not that it matters, Jenny.” Jenny smiled and shook her head to indicate she knew how silly she was being own. “Okay bye guys, it’s been fun. Thanks for visiting.” We all hugged her, and then departed from that tiny little town.


Drowning in a sea of guilt

Funny thing about life
is that it’s full of maybes.

Maybe if I was more concerned about showing you my love
rather than blowing up at you when I was annoyed,
Maybe if I made sure you weren’t lonely
instead of cooping myself up in my room,
Maybe if I took the disease, the disease in your brain
more seriously,

Maybe if I focused on your needs
more than mine,
Maybe if I wasn’t

you would still be here
and not perpetually staring at the stars
masked only by layers of dirt.

Another funny thing about life
you could forever talk about maybes
but what exists
is only what happened.

Guilt surrounds
and envelopes me.
I’m drowning
And even though I know I can,
I can’t seem to swim.

I have never empathized so much with a brain before
The brain that decided
enough was enough
and committed suicide.


Dreams of Grief and Acceptance

Dream #1, less than a week after the stroke:

She’s sitting on the couch – where she always is. She smiled and laughed as I cuddled into her lap.

“Mom, I was worried about you.”

“Now, what would be wrong?”

She stroked my hair, as she always does, and I sighed contentedly, realizing everything I experienced was just a bad dream. She’s still here, everything is okay.

I wake up, only to suffocate under the crushing weight of the realization she’s forever gone and everything’s not okay.

Dream #2, 1-2 more weeks after the stroke:

She just came back from the hospital, and she seems completely fine. No sign of stroke – in fact, no sign of depression. We were walking outside on our patio, and it was a beautiful spring day. Flowers were floating in the air, and she was looking around, smiling. She was wearing a normal maxi dress, typical of the style she always wore.

“Mom, I’m so happy that stroke wasn’t more serious than it was.”

She nodded, “Me too.”

We spent lazy time together, just enjoying each other’s company. Her presence was very comforting. I was very content, but then something started to feel just a little off.

I wake up. Disappointment, again. Today’s not going to be a good day.

Dream #3, even more time afterwards:

She’s sitting on the couch, like she always would. I turn around after entering the house and jump up from the shock of seeing her there.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, startled.

“What do you mean? I’m always here,” she calmly replied.

My mouth opened slightly, as if I wanted to say something but I had no idea what to say.

“Yes, but aren’t you supposed to be…” I hesitated before softly saying, “dead?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “The stroke happened, but it’s all okay now.”

Relief washed all over me. “You’re all okay, and you’re here with us. That’s all that matters.”

Then a thought flashed through my mind.

She’s alive and here, and that’s all you want. It doesn’t matter if the totem falls or not, she’s here. Don’t look back. Don’t wake up.

My eyes widened, and they flickered to where mom was sitting. A panic set in me – I absolutely cannot wake up. I turned around, smiled upon seeing her, and began to walk over to her.

I wake up. It was a dream afterall. It’s been getting hard to tell reality apart from dream world lately. But I really wish I hadn’t woken up.

Dream #4, a few days after talking to Heather:

She’s there. I see her body. She’s smiling at me and walks towards me.

I search her face, and then blurt out, “You’re dead, aren’t you?”

She nodded, “Yeah, I am.”

I stared at her for a bit, a mixture of anger and sadness brewing inside of me. “Why didn’t you answer the calls the day of? Did you know what was happening to you?”

She nodded again, “I knew. I knew it was my time to go.”  She let out a soft chuckle. “And I knew you were about to yell at me about being at the hospital with your dad.”

I looked down, unable to look her in the eyes. She was right after all.

“But… why’d you leave us?” I paused for a bit before slightly choking out, “I wasn’t ready for you to go.”

She looked at me with a hint of sadness, but then embraced me in her arms. “I know you weren’t, but I left because I wanted to leave.” Tears started rolling down my face, and I choked out a “I understand.”

A bit later, I see her on the couch again, but a stranger – a man – has accompanied her. I have never seen this man, yet my mom is laughing with him and lightly touching his arm.

“Who’s this?”

She looks at me, beaming, “He’s the love I never had.”

I turn around, allowing them some privacy. She’s finally happy after all.

I wake up. But no surprises. I might be okay today.


Making Promises I Can’t Keep: On Sexual “Purity”


My friend Karla and I bought a book called And the Bride Wore White, a guide to remaining sexually pure. Three chapters of And the Bride Wore White are titled as follows: “Satan’s Big Fat Sex Lies,” “Satan’s Second Big Fat Sex Lie,” and “Satan’s Biggest, Fattest Sex Lie.” The book explained to me why condoms don’t work, why everyone isn’t “doing it,” and that oral sex is just as bad as intercourse. The author painstakingly outlined her own sexual foibles and missteps, honesty that I appreciated. I was ready to learn. I read the book steadily — during study breaks, walking through the hallways, before I went to sleep. Karla and I met at her house and talked about the different chapters while her mother brought us garden-grown beefsteak tomatoes that looked like hearts. We swore to strive for purity in every way possible. No more touching. No more…

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Repossession: Reclaimed Slurs and Lexicography

harm·less drudg·ery

[Ed. note: this post contains language that is considered extremely inflammatory. Caveat lector.]

People forward language articles to me all the time–usually the same article multiple times, until my inbox is nothing but language links and plaintive requests from to buy more booze, please. But no one forwarded me Talib Kweli’s recent Medium post on language, probably because it was about the history and uses of the word “nigger.” I asked one of my frequent-forwarders if he had seen the post. “I had,” he wrote, “but I figured you’d have already seen it. I was not going to be the one to forward you a post on the n-word.”

The n-word. I think about slurs on a regular basis, in part because I have to explain to people why they’re entered in some of their dictionaries. It’s not unusual for me to open my email in…

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The Programmer’s Dream (A Ramble)

Nick Bradbury

Programmers dream of new code.

We spend a good deal of our time working on code we didn’t write for software we didn’t create, much of which we believe is horribly written (or, at least, could be done much better). We dream of a chance to start fresh, working from scratch on a brand new piece of software that will eventually become something someone else has to work on and believes is horribly written.

If we’re lucky our software will look pretty solid from the outside. It may do weird things from time to time or very occasionally crash, but on the whole end users will think it’s stable and well thought out. Those of us who can look at it from the inside are amazed by this because we see a house of cards just waiting to come tumbling down. I think one of the benefits of open source is…

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