our dark memory
in the rhythm of
our dark memory
in the rhythm of
That was her smell in college, and I had a certain something that smelled really great to her. Mix that with the smell of old book and dust and coffee. I’m hard. Add cheap beer, bitterness, ennui — it was love.
That was Joy.
Best case scenario: Aliens come and stop us all. That’s what I’m hoping for.
That was Joy’s politics. I really did love her.
Shiver I can feel the shaking of the shiver of your hands on my throat. You choked me? Did you ever choke me? Tell me! I can’t remember. I don’t know.
What did you do to me? It was so long ago. If you tell me – please tell me – then I can remember. Then I can begin to let go. I need to know.
So tell me. Why am I afraid to shake. Why does that trigger my panic? Does anybody know?
It’s rained too many days in a row. The dampness made me shiver yesterday morning. I really hate to shiver. Isn’t that bizarre? Shivering scares me. I never realized that before. I was going to write about how the rain drags me down, and it does, but fear of shivering? In fact, two weeks ago I had a fever. I woke up in the middle of the night. I was shivering. I was shivering so hard my hands hurt. I started screaming. I thought I was dying. What’s wrong? What’s wrong? It hurt. It hurt me down to my bone just to shiver. I was frozen. I was paralyzed with fear.
Now you have to choose a college.
My mother wouldn’t give up.
I’m not fucking applying to college. I was yelling. It’s pointless. Leave me alone.
I wanted to finish high school. I wanted to join the police force. I was going to live with my best friend. I was going to lift weights and have sex with a lot of women.
I applied to one college — William Paterson — to shut my mother up. I was accepted.
My best friend and I had a major falling out. I had no job. I had no money. I had absolutely no women. I had nothing better to do. So I went to college.
My mother told me I had to take the SAT. I said no. She kept pressuring me.
Fuck you. I said. I’m not taking this stupid test.
I said that to my mother. I was that kind of kid.
She registered me for the exam, anyway, and pressured until I agreed. I didn’t study at all. I threw the practice exam booklet away—the night before the exam. I was angry at my mother for making me do this. I didn’t want to do this. I knew I couldn’t go to college. Why should I try?
I stayed out until 3 AM. I got very drunk. I had a drinking problem back then, for sure. In fact, I’ve had a problem with drinking several times in my life. I haven’t ever admitted to it. I’ve never been very conscious of the drinking problems I have.
In fact, fuck all the dancing around: I’m fairly sure that I’m an alcoholic. I’m a binge drinker. I start out drinking, socially, and it escalates fast. Within weeks, I am drinking every day. I drink to get drunk. My body buckles under the abuse. I stop drinking until I feel better. My binges go on for months. I was drinking steadily for the first three years of my Ph.D. work. I’ve never admitted that before.
Anyway, college. There’s so much coming out of me lately, I can stray from my point: I took the SAT. I really didn’t try. I was hung over and tired. I didn’t try at all. Somehow, I got a 910–on the old 1600 scale. I was dead in the middle. I was average. I knew it.
I’m not saying that I’m a mega genius, or anything like that. But I’m starting to become comfortably aware of my level of intelligence. It’s a good thing. Confidence feels nice.
But I’m also feeling a great deal of grief for all the years I lost. I walked around for years – almost two decades – with this cloud of “I can’t” hovering over my head. I was convinced that I was too stupid to ever do anything.
At twenty-four, that’s where I was. I graduated college, finally, somehow. I started to like learning toward the end, and suddenly I was out. I was in the real world.
My GPA sucked. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I didn’t know why I majored in English. It was more of an impulse than anything else. I was like a water drop that followed the natural and easy course down the side of a mountain to arrive at the English Department. And it happened that slowly.
You have to stop it, Charlie. You’re killing your mother. You’re embarrassing your brother. What will your sister say. Your poor nephews will carry the weight of this. Shut up. Stop writing. Why are you writing about this? Emotional incest? Are you fucking crazy? Didn’t mommy always tell you to never write things down? You never know who will read it. Do you want the whole neighborhood knowing your business?
The guilt. When I wrote those words, Emotional Incest, the guilt consumed me.
I’ll tell you something you don’t know. I hide in my apartment most days. I type on my computer, alone. I pet my cat, alone. I feel safe when I’m alone. I crave it.
Still, for a few hours a week I venture out — to speak and write and talk with you, my students. I suffer. It kills me. The anxiety is out of control.
Do you know why I do it? I can’t take this self loathing anymore. I’ve had it. You people see me. You respect me. You appreciate who I am, ya know? Can you feel that? You appreciate who I am. You all overwhelm me. I’ll teach you everything I know. I promise.
I just hope that, in return, I will one day see myself truly — with your clear eyes. I really want to know what you all know — about me.
Just a thought: molestation is the ultimate act of objectification, even if you weren’t aware–especially if you weren’t aware. So you were objectified as a child–sexually–in a world that saw you as invisible. You are taught this lesson: when people objectify you sexually, you become visible. Unfortunately, you are living in a culture that sees the Asian man as asexual. You go through adolescence and your twenties seeking sexual attention. It isn’t just validation. It’s the only time you feel that you really exist. The early childhood sexual trauma further complicates this by making you very particular about who you let into your personal space–welcome to a psychological conflict.
I’m sure your big brain has already completely, or partially, figured this out. If so, consider this my attempt to understand my friend. If not, smoke some stems, think about it, and get back to me.
Read his response by clicking HERE.