Getting off on the shit that happens to people?! And you call yourself one of the "good guys". Who are you kidding? What kind of sadistic mental case would enjoy that?
Well, me; and I'm sure you in your own twisted way do too. I smile when I see some girl walking on a windy rainy day and her umbrella all of a sudden POOFS inside out. I laugh when I see an old man slip on an icy patch and bust his bottom. I crack up when I'm in an awkward situation with a couple is fighting.
Messed up? Maybe. But we all have our guilty pleasures. I mean my best friend, my number one confidant, cracks up in my face whenever I'm mad. And that only makes me madder, which makes him laugh harder. Asshole.
But it's okay, because there are times I laugh right back at him for something stupid.
I'm writing about this because something weird has been happening to me lately. I think I'm taking this schadenfreude thing to another level; to a point where it could be just plain sick. Things are getting really gross in my EMT class. The images are getting too real. I can barely look at the screen anymore. I sit right in front, and those images are ten feet tall in my face. I can barely sit still anymore. I must've pulled my hood over my head a hundred times and clicked my pen in anxiety two hundred. I can barely take it, and rotations haven't even started yet.
During the last class, something weird happened. I started laughing. Making jokes, corny jokes, but jokes left and right. One guy had an arrow in his throat and it came out the other side. I made some wisecrack that it must've been around Valentine's day. I haven't been twisting awkward in my seat anymore, I'm just laughing out loud.
This is my way to cope, but I don't think this is the right way to do that. Is there even a "right way"? Maybe not. At the beginning of all this, my instructor said that this is how most EMTs get the stress out of their system, so maybe this is only natural. But part of me still feels that this isn't right, and maybe I should just man up and take it and do my job. Someday, maybe I can do that. I'll definitely try.
But for now, I'll just laugh it off. Schadenfreude.
My first stop was to swing by the new fraternity house. Everyone was out eating at a local steak place when I arrived. The only one there was my pledge brother and hsi girlfriend. We went out for some ice cream. I know, way too cold to enjoy ice cream, but he had a coupon and figured seeing me deserved some kind of mini-celebration. Afterwards, we went back to the house and played some mahjong with the other brothers.
It was getting past 8:00, and I promised my friend that I'd help him cook. But on the other hand, I haven't really spent time with the brothers. What to do? What to do?
I left the house a little past 10:00. On my way out, my pledge brother said I should swing by the house more often, I casually nodded and walked to my car. I have to admit, it was kind of good to hang out with him again. But I was on my way to the dinner I was supposed to help prepare. I finally found everybody and snuck in the back. I'm not very good at hiding.
Everyone shouted my name, and I felt like I was king of the room. It's good be seen, and to be missed. To feel like people want you around.
Swung by the city on my way home and hear I am, read to crash. I only regret that I'm not exactly the most punctual nor most consistent person out there. Maybe it's my own fault for making too many promises. Tomorrow, there's a dinner in the city that I said I'd be around to catch. But truth be told, I'll be busy with my own stuff that night; stuff I can't exactly skip out on. Knowing me, I'm going flake. But maybe it's best I didn't show. Afterall, there's somebody that's going to be there that I'm kind of trying to avoid until I get my life straightened out.
Life goes on. Shit happens, and the ride can get a little bumpy. But life goes on. And with the right people in your life, you feel like any ride, good or bad, is a smooth ride.
Me? I'm enjoying the ride.
I'm walking with a friend today in the city. Never really got to be with her outside of school until now. We're handing around South Street Seaport and this woman is walking with her son as he's rolling around in one of those toy plastic cars. The kid had to be about four years old
He catches a slope and begins rolling down into the street. A truck is rolling across and fast. The mother screams. The kid unaware of it all is just enjoying the ride. Come on kid, move. Move!
Think fast. Think faster. Gotta think fast. I dash to the kid and grab him and his car just as the truck rolls past. The mother's freaking out and thanks me.
I smile and told the kid to be careful in the future. Me and my friend just continued on our way to Battery Park.
I have to say that that was one of my proudest moments out of many. My friend said something to me later. With a bunch of things that happened that day, she said, "You make everyone in this city smile. We need more people like you out here."
I took those words to heart and have since lived my life for others. Taking care of myself was never one of my fortès. If anything, looking after myself has just been my greatest foible. If everybody had eachother's backs, a lot of good things could happen. You wouldn't even have to worry so much about what's before you if you know that someone's out there looking after you.
Unfortunately in this world, there are a lot of scumbags. People who look out for themselves and would cut down others to get what they want. But I can hope that someone out there would follow in the footsteps of all the good people in past.
Live for others. And others would live for you.
But there's a point when you have to be prudent and look out for yourself. Because if you can't help yourself, then how can you be strong enough to help others?
Me? I'm still trying to figure out where that point is.
Tonight we went to Hooter's. I've never been there before, but hey! I'm turning 21. I see a lot of good friends there. I order myself a Mountain Dew. Ok, 21 years old now, why don't I order a beer or something? I don't know, but I just like Mountain Dew. And there you are.
We take a couple pictures together. Me posing with my driver's license, and you shoving your hand in my face. We take a couple more pictures on my camera phone, just you and me. We smile. Ok, that's standard protocol. We make a goofy face, like we're bubbles or something. We make drunk faces (or something weird).
I really liked the bubble picture. You didn't like the smile picture, and you deleted it off my phone; luckily not before I e-mailed it to myself. What can I say, I'm just too quick for you.
But I smiled. I smiled a weird bubbly smile. One of my favorite pictures. Everyone remembers their 21st birthday. I just got one more reason to remember tonight.
Thanks for the smiles tonight.
Even though I had a little girl trouble for a bit, the summer so far has been real refreshing.
I'm on a cruise right now and guess who I ran into. A college friend. Me and him actually lived in the same hall for a bit. I saw him getting ice cream with his kid brother, and I just stood there "grilling" him. Even though I was there with my family (and then some) it was good to see him. I have to admit at first I didn't like the guy. Maybe because he was so happy whenever I saw him, all fresh and wide-eyed from high school and there I was jaded by my years at school. Maybe because he reminded me so much of me when I was a freshman. Maybe because he was so much of a genuine good guy that had to hate him. Or maybe because he's just better than me at guitar.
But that was then, and I have a feeling this is a guy I can really connect with. I have a feeling me and him are going to be real good friends - no, brothers, down the line.
I've been working out a lot this summer. I figured that since life has been changing all around me, maybe I should gamble on more change. I've been playing a lot of handball: the street sport of good old New York City Asians. But here on this boat, there isn't exactly a wall I can play on. So I've been hitting them gym, and hitting it hard. It's been hitting me back.
It's tiring. It's draining. But in the end, i feel energized like that Energizer Bunny. I just kept going, and going, and going and - well, you get the picture.
At times when I feel I can't push myself any harder, I think of you.
I think of seeing you when summer's over and we're back at school. I think of you cheering me on. I think of you, and I'm running. I let it all out of you. And in that moment, when I can just make out your face, I dig in deep inside me and keep going. Because I just imagine you, waiting on the other side of finish line, on the other side of the finish line. It's you. And I go.
I don't know why. I can't exactly figure it out tonight, but you inspire me. I can only hope that you'll still inspire me the next day, week, month, year, or years. It's all in my head, but there you are.
I see you, and I go.
I keep on going.
What better way to clear your head than to just talk to people, right?
I had your screen name. I don't know how.
Small talked. And then you told me about your ex-boyfriend and all the drama there.
I didn't know what to say, and I can't even remember what I said. I was kind of blind-sided by it.
I mean, seeing you beaming with energy, I couldn't imagine how that could've happened to you.
But life pulls fast ones on you like that, and my heart went out to you tonight, and I heard you out. Back to studying, remembering all that you told me. I had other things on my mind.
Studying. Fellowship responsibilities. One girl. Another girl. And somewhere in there, everything you told me.
I felt you needed a hero. Maybe that could've been me, but you're the kind of person who manages to land back on their feet.
Hero? Psh. You're your own hero.
One day, you'd be mine too.
Sometime while I was catching up with some people, you came in. And just before we went into the auditorium too. Good timing.
We found some seats in the middle. You sat in front of me, a little to the right. You had your hair pulled back and wore a polka-dotted scarf across the top of your head. You looked like someone straight out of the 60s. The show was complete with your typical musical performances, cultural and modern dances, and of course tinikling. It was soaked with as much drama as those Spanish soap operas. Every now and then, this guy would pop up high to the right of the stage with a brick background and sing us a couple of his own songs.
I mean during a scene, he jsut popped out of nowhere! We both laughed at how pathetic it looked, all alone up there waiting with his guitar. All those sappy love songs he was singing. I said how someone should've throawn a battery at the guy, and you just laughed. We were harsh. We were cynical. I can't help but laugh just thinking about it.
Maybe it was a little too emo for your taste. But I gotta admit, the guy was good and maybe I was just jealous of the attention he got from the girls in the audience.
But I did get the attention of one girl tonight:
the girl with the polka-dotted scarf in her hair.
There were dance team try-outs tonight. I thought about trying out, figuring my experience in all those Sweet 16s and Debuts would have rubbed off on me. And there you were. Dancing. I would always be seeing you dancing. So carefree and moving to the rhythm with ease, as though that's what you were born to do.
I stepped to dance a bit. Maybe just to goof around and show-off. Maybe just to get talk to you.
There you were by my side teaching me what you knew. And there I was copying ever step, every lean, ever clap, every turn. You said I was pretty good, with a smile on your face. Maybe you were jsut being nice. Or maybe I was just that freaking awesome.
A couple of people came in, serious to join the dance team, so I just sat on the side with the rest of our friends, and watched the rest of the try-outs. It was a short night, and I just made my way back to our friends place to hang out a bit more that night. The night was young and so was I. Places to go and people to see.
But it was nice to finally meet you.
After getting some new skates, ones that fit better. I was moving with ease. This one guy, I could never remember his name, asked me to teach him how to stop "the cool way". You know what I mean, stopping on your side and shaving some ice up high. He kept on trying over and over again, reminding me how bad I used to be at skating. I mean when I tried out for the hockey team back in high school, I couldn't stop. I just spun myself around and slammed my back onto the boards. Thank God that's not me on the ice anymore.
i didn't notice you then. You probably didn't even notice me there tonight, but you were there. I can't remember what you were wearing. I didn't even know your name. But you were there. We didn't talk. We probably didn't even have anything to talk about if we did.
But there I was, flying all smooth, forgetting about that class act Old Man Winter pulled on me earlier, and there you were on the side laughing with your friends.
We went to get something to eat down in Chinatown. You took a cab somewhere else with that guy you were with.
But you were there, and so was I.
I didn't even know your name.
Why not? My dad fronted up good money, and it wasn't for me to go around skipping classes. But tonight, something different was in the air, or maybe it was just me. While running some errands, I thought where do all these roads go? I've lived here all my life, shouldn't I find out? And that's what I did tonight. I mean, I never was the hooky type before. In high school, I was practically dating my test tubes, and was cheating on them with my textbooks.. But that was then.
So I left home early to just drive, I did plan to go to class, but then I realized I didn't even have my ID on me. Plus, I've missed scheduling my rotations because I haven't had my immunizations up to date. Heck, I don't even have a general practitioner. with all that going through my head, I just decided to get driving. Before I knew it I was in the Southern part of town.
I drove through a lot of long winding roads, which made me think I wasn't even in New York anymore, but some back road in Bumblefuck, NJ. And who'd want to be there?
I don't know why I did that tonight? Maybe it was my little run-away. Maybe sub-consciously I don't want to be an EMT. Or maybe I was simply bored. Who knows? But I did get to clear my head a bit.
Life's pretty ordinary these days. I feel like my real life doesn't begin until I start those late-night calls for the FDNY. But now a days, nothing seems to be happening. Nothing bad. But nothing good either (or is it "neither"?). Just nothing. Just writing that makes it kind of depressing - and pathetic.
I guess that's why I love going back to the old campus every now and then. Because there, I feel alive again. Just being in good company does that to you, you know? Of course, I got my own friends from school who graduated here in the city, but with everything happening between me and this friend, I'm trying not to run into her. But I do miss her.
You know that latin phrase, Carpe Diem, "Seize the day"? Well, I have to Carpe-FREAKIN'-Diem. I've been meaning to head to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and take some pictures, but the weather has been so crappy - and not to mention, colder than the balls of the Tibetan monk (not that I'd know of course). I also have meaning to meet up with some friends up in Columbia after flaking on them. But then again, I feel more obliged to visit, than for the sake of really seeing them.
That's the funny thing about me, if I have to be there, I won't feel like being there.
Hint of a commitment issue there? Maybe.
But I should definitely be out there. I mean if I can be a fun guy around people, can't I be that same fun guy for myself?
I think so. God, I hope so.
I'm losing a friend now. All because of what I did and how I felt in the past for her. She was a great friend, but I thought maybe more. Fall-out. I don't know what to think about her - or even myself.I miss her. I only hope she misses me too, but the only way to save this friendship is to knock out those other feelings. I have to kill that part of me, and say good-bye to that dream-girl, my Gwen Stacy. Otherwise, my life will end up a mess. I'll be second-guessing myself. I'll be questioning if I'm still "the good guy". And I am the good guy. I'm the hero!
Just as in Peter Parker's story Gwen Stacy had to die, and my Gwen Stacy has to die in my mind's Brooklyn Bridge. Otherwise, there can be no Mary Jane Watson to save this Peter Parker's life; better than it was with Gwen Stacy.
I have to kill my Gwen Stacy. Otherwise, I'll lose a friend - you. And you'll lose a friend - me. I'll keep second-guessing myself. I'll keep losing my identity. And I won't be able to let someone save my life for once. I am gonna miss you Gwen.
But, this is what has to happen to save my friend. To save your friend.
I have to save my life. I have to let someone save my life.
I guess fate's in my hands - umm, or heart.
I'll miss you, Gwen. Goodnight.
Now there's someone you really didn't like. Sure, of course you respected them as a person, as a brother. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, you didn't like the guy. Now here's the kicker. That girl, the one who would always inspire you to be a better man, she's been spending time with this guy. Not you. If anything, she's been avoiding you. Now you're the bad guy.
Now what are you supposed to do? To feel? Kind of a given, don't you think.
You get mad. You get crazy. You begin to think "Is he 'better' than me?". And in the end, you feel like a loser. Plain and simple.
In the back of my head, through out all things I've done in my past, good and bad, you always thought about what she thought of it all. It sounds kind of weak, to worry so much about what someone else thinks of you. But is it "weak"?
Exactly what the hell is wrong with me? Why him? Why him?!
Am I boring? Am I a loser? Am I that bad?
I wanted to just wail out. Break something. I didn't wanna punch the wall (I mean come on, my place just got renovated). So I punched myself in the face a good number of times.
Exactly what the hell am I? Am I really a hero? Or just a menace in "a hero's skin"? I mean, I can't help it. I just want some fucking affirmation, to know that I'm still... good. Because lately, a lot of things are showing me that I'm not.
Somebody tell me I am. Somebody show me I am. Because lately, I can't help but feel like the loser.
I'm saving lives aren't I? I am a hero. That's gotta mean something.
But not tonight. Tonight I'm a loser.
Tonight I'm the villain in a red cape.
Basically, I had to act as a patient involved in a chemical lab explosion with an eviscerated abdomen. I put on this fake wound, with my intestines pouring out my side. My instructor sprayed me down with some fake blood and - Tada! I'm a trauma patient. I was also wearing my swim shorts underneath, since it was a hazmat situation and I might have had to be decontaminated in the showers. And there's nothing more awkward than having total strangers scrub you down; unless of course that stranger was Jessica Alba. Can you say "Hottie"?
Luckily it was too cold to go through it all. After all, it was just a drill. The funny thing is that I ran into my God-sister's younger brother there (I guess that makes him my God-brother? I'm not too sure how that works). He was recording the whole drill for the staff. It turns out he's a nurse now, I think. And he figured out I'm going to be an EMT.
Something has been bugging me lately about all this EMT stuff. And it's something I shouldn't be worrying too much about. It's what other people think about me becoming an EMT. Basically, any high school shmo can become an EMT. Me? I'm a 23 year-old college "graduate" with almost a Psychology degree under my belt. Shouldn't I be pursuing something... "higher"? Here's what I think.
I've spent about five years at the university. I learned a lot about myself, but mostly, I learned a lot about people, how their minds work and how they function within relationships. Because let's face it, us humans are social creatures. We thrive on interactions. And with what I've learned in college in both the classroom and with the people I know, I feel I can really put to good use out there on the streets. "But why not a counselor or advertising?"
People are their most vulnerable when they're in pain. Emotions are raw. The moment matters. That's when someone needs to step in and tell you that everything - everything, will be alright.
Well, that and I gotta admit that I get a thrill when I see all the blood and nasty injuries. I can't exactly stomach it all yet, but it does make me feel more alive.
And that's what I stick by. What are most people doing every day? Crunching numbers. Filing papers. Collating. Filing TPS reports and what-not.
Me? I'll be on the front line seeing the ugly. While most people are comfy in their cubicles, I'll be on the streets. Sure, I'll be starting at $15 an hour, but you can't put a price on the things you see out there.
So no matter what people say or how people will question me,
this is my calling... on these mean streets.
The cereal chunks of my life are the day to day business - bland, and sometimes brutually tough. It hurts my head (and my mouth) thinking about the cereal chunks. The marshmallow bits are much more - flavorful.
For the Halloween weekend, I dressed up as emo - well, technically I was goth for a night because I went to far into the "dark side"). So there I was, in tight black jeans, black converses, black nail polish, tattoos down my arm, a wig, and black eye-liner to accentuate that emo feel. And let me tell you, it's amazing how you look on the outside seeps deep into your psyche making you act - not quite yourself. Usually I'm a happy go-lucky guy, willing to play the jester just win a smile on someone's face, sometimes I'm the only one that smiles. But that night, I wasn't exactly the life of the party. I was so wrapped in my image I began to act - emo. It's funny thinking back on it, but that night it was weird; like a shock of cognitive dissonance echoed in me. It was weird to say the least.
I had it in my head that I was going to be the Human Spider - you know, from that wrestling scene in the first Spider-Man movie. But everyone saw it coming, so I figured I'd go with something a little more surprising.
Me being emo. A surprise to no one - but yours truly.
That night on the way to the Halloween party, I had a feeling that the woman sititng in front of me on the R train was talking about me in Spanish with her friend. No biggie.
She had a mustache. No matter what she says, she loses by default.
I met up with my friends, but we never got into the party at Roseland. Some joker decided to start trouble inside the party and that brings the police in to shut down the line. The party was outside on the line anyway. We made our way to St. Marks. We karaoked for a good two hours. Best karaoke session ever - and most painful. While singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" with the guys, we decide to start a little moshpit during the instrumental break. One ill-timed landing and one misplaced bump later, I'm sent flying into the corner. All I remember is that the floor disappeared, and a touble corner found its way to my back. Note to self: Mosh sideways and in, never up and out.
Two of my friends were sitting down, and had just broken up. The room was ringning with R&B classics, and I loved the look on their faces: Two people trying to ignore the cathartic call of the song, sitting next to eachother staring off into the distance and completely aware of who was next to them. Maybe it was the beer, and maybe it was just out right funny. They're back together though, for that I'm very happy.
I have a bunch of good memories in that neighborhood. Now I have one more.
One night, my cousin's girlfriend called me up and told me they had broken up. He confessed to me that he had hit her. And here's this girl crying her eyes out on the phone. I couldn't help but feel a bit annoyed. I had EMT class in less than an hour, and a girl I barely talk to is spilling her heart out to me. But I did what any good guy would do, I heard her out - even though, I wanted so bad to just make up an excuse. So there I was mustering up whatever empathy I could for a "stranger". I admit I was annoyed to be burdened out of the blue like that, even though my heart wasn't in it, I did the right thing and heard her out. They're back together working things out.
The next day I was my way up to visit some friends on campus, and a friend called me to tell me she had just broken up with her boyfriend, my friend. I bagan to think that maybe there was a sign slapped on my forehead reading, "When Shit Hits the Fan with Your Man - Call this Guy". I was willing to hear this one out though, because she's a friend, not a stranger. I told her I'd take some time out to visit her and her room mate. I flaked on those plans. Those two aren't back together. I could've read that he wasn't as into her as she was in him.
I just spent the last five days at the good old university. I felt that I needed to break out from the mundane, so there I was in good company. And man it was great. I couldn't even begin to write how great it was because - you have to be me and you have to be them to know. Ups and downs, but over all it was a good time.
So after watching a video online where this girl takes the cinnamon challenge (try to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon in one shot). Me and another buddy of mine suckered our friend to do it, and then another friend. After recording the ordeal and the expressions on their faces, we owed it to them to try it ourselves. Big mistake. My throat closed up with the quickness and choked over the kitchen sink for a good minute or two. You know that disclaimer they put on videos of extreme stupidty? I learned you really should listen to them.
My best friend was getting intimate with two girls. But he made up his mind on who, but he still lead the other girl on.
Somehow I often find myself in the middle, like a third wheel, or even a fifth wheel. I got fed up with it one night and just set out on my own. I was especially annoyed at my friend. He knew the right thing to do, but he ignored it. Maybe I'm being too hard on the guy. But when he reminded me of how bad I fucked up when I was talking to a girl from California with a boyfriend, I promised him I'd dead it. And I did for the most part. It sucks for me, because I really miss that girl. But for him, he knows the right thing to do and he ignored it; it's like he wanted his cake and to eat it too. But some people don't even have cake to eat. They get pudding (Okay, I don't know where I was going with that line).
It ended up biting him in the ass the other night, when that girl he was leading on saw him snuggling with the girl he had chosen. And now he feels guilty.
What could I say "You did the right thing"? I'm not going to feed the guy sugar-coated lies to make him feel better.
He fucked up. He's going to take responsibility and move forward. Because he's just that kind of guy, to always, no matter how bad it might get, he moves forward.
Me? I'm just going to do some damage control and hope things will work out in the best interest of both sides. Because she's a sweet girl and and I wouldn't want her to get sour. And he's my best friend; if anyone's gonna have his back, shouldn't that person be me?
So here I am. Lucky Charms. And life is magically delicious, sometimes too sweet with all these couples running around. I always wonder when that girl will come around.
One of the things I absolutely hate hearing is "Don't worry about it, that girl will come around if you don't look for her". I've heard it so much, I hate hearing it. It's such a cop-out thing to say.
I believe in life, you have to go out and pursue what you want.
Because if you just scoop out what life throws at you, you'll get hurt by most of the bland-cardboard-chunks-that-cut-the-roof-of-your-mouth you'll pick up. You have to go out and find those marshmallows.
And when all is said it done, drink the milk. Because in the end life is too good to pour it all down the drain.