Alternate History · Personal

Untitled Pt. 1

Nothing feels real in these moments. Staring at the face in the mirror, this familiar stranger whose eyes are bagged and drooping. Wisps of gray hair blending into the dark. It’s one of those dissociative moments. At least something in the hypnagogia realm. And my mouth cracks open. The question on my lips is, “Who are you?” But before any sound comes out, the alarm on my bed blares, shaking me awake. A dream. All of it. A dream.

I am seventeen years old. Outside breeze slips pass the curtain of my window, carrying with it the scent of rain. It’s expected. A drizzle. Something not uncommon in the month of January. The cold front they were expecting must’ve come in early, sometime in the middle of the night. Always prepared, I kept the window open just a crack so the stuffiness of my teenage bedroom didn’t choke me while I slept.

Dragging ass, I make it to the restroom where the day begins. Shower. Brush teeth. Comb hair, poorly. Rub the Avon-brand deodorant under each pit. Get dress. Leave the house. First day back to school after the winter holiday. Better make these last few months of high school last, they say. You’ll look back on these days, relishing in your youth. Remembering all the stupid things you did as fondly as do with whom you did them.

The halls of Edinburg North High School aren’t popping with life. Nobody wants to be here and nothing will change that. From the corner of my eye, I see Teddy lazily looking forward. He survived the break. When he approaches me, just in passing as we were never that close, he gives me that slight head nod. But some ass wad brushes up against him, knocking him into me.

His skin is cold; his hand grasping my bare wrist as he steadies himself. Fragments of a dream, like memories, pour into my head. “Wait,” I say before trailing off due to his interruption.

“Jesus fuck!” he shouts as the dickhead continues down the hall. “Sorry about that,” he turns to me. “See you around,” he says before leaving, mixing into the crowd of adolescents and vanishing from my sight.

And I whisper to myself, “Aren’t you in a coma? Aren’t you dying?”

“I passed Ms. Champion’s class last semester.” I’m speaking more to myself, but Miranda hears me.

“You seem uncertain,” she says.

“Nothing feels real,” I whisper. Either she doesn’t hear me, or she’s doesn’t care. Either way, my statement just floats in the air. For a bit before it fades in to the great unknown. Still, after lunch I walk by a Spanish classroom and take a peek inside. There are a few students already inside, but none of them look too familiar. Just faces in the crowd that sort of thing.

“Can I help you?” the teacher asks.

“No, I’m good, Ms. Ramos,” I say before heading toward my destination.

And once I’m in my seat, I wonder, how the hell did I know her name? I must have heard it after first period. Our classes are right next to each other, after all. In Media Tech, I work on a project Janie and I started before winter break. It keeps my thoughts in line, but even then something I can’t shake the thought that something if off. That all this is wrong, somehow.

After school, I head to my room and pop in the CD to the stereo I got for my birthday last year. Except, the stereo shouldn’t be here. I remember it was stolen in the break in several months ago. And that I wouldn’t get another until after graduation. After graduation?

The phone rings. It’s Kara. She’s at Jessica’s house, and thought she’d call me. Just to hear my voice. And I feign interest in her stories and words. And when she whispers “I love you,” there’s some hesitation on my part.

“It’s ok,” she says. “I already know.”

But she doesn’t know. She will in a few months when I admit my love for Jessica, instead. And she will become resentful towards us no matter how much she swears she’s ok with it.

The question remains, though. How do I know all this will transpire?


The End of Phase 2 Pt. 4: Friends, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Human Race (sort of).

Last November—during my annual Brovember movie month—I watched 21 Jump Street. I caught the movie in the past on FX, always allotted for time and always censored. I don’t remember much from the movie. It’s not that memorable. Although, it did raise a question I had never thought to ask before: How do adults become friends?

When I met my long-time friend, Meester Binx (obviously not his real name), it was on the playground during our years at Sam Houston. Now Binx will argue with me until he’s blue in the face about that we met in first grade. I know that we met in kindergarten. We were walking in opposing directions and crossed paths. I hopped to my right and he hopped to his left. I moved to my left and he moved to his right. “Cut it out,” one of us said. “Cut what out,” responded the other in classic Dave Coulier fashion. And of course the squeaky, broken voice of typical childhood bashfulness broke the routine we found ourselves in. “Do you wanna be my friend?” This is another thing Binx will argue. In his version of the story, I asked it. In the true version of the story, we both asked it because we were obviously destined to be hetero life mates a la Jay and Silent Bob.

In Junior High (now referred to as Middle School), things changed a bit. The dynamics were the same. Chance introductions led to brief or lifelong camaraderie. And high school dragged those Junior High friends through the mud and I met their girlfriends and reunited with old elementary chums. In summation, I have never been without friends.

Post high school/college, most of my acquaintances were made because of the dire need of having classroom friends in case I missed a day. Those are the ones who “throw away” after the semester is over. If you so happened to share another course together, well, it saved you the trouble of having to make another friend. The friends that I made in college—the real ones—came from being a part of Sigma Tau Delta. And even those are just people have become just faces on social network.

The digital age has altered the term friend viciously. I catch myself several times during conversations. My Internet friend. A friend from Tumblr. This Facebook friend. The word follows or is followed by an adjective, the name of a website where we commune. Some of these people I can say I love. I love Samantha. I love Ashton. I love Jason and all his bearded glory. I love Jenn. I love that bastard Eddie. These are people who I could talk to. Who I’d go out and grab a drink with if I drank. I don’t drink. Don’t invite me out drinking. I’ll only ruin your night. And I’ll probably steal your keys. And your cell phone. Because I love you and I want you safe.

My adult friends are comprised by friends I’ve known all my life. There’s Binx, of course. There’s Monica, and there’s Miranda. There’s Jeanna. There’s Esmer and Jerry, who I met because of Jeanna. Monica and Joe go way back to kindergarten where Miranda came about in high school.

Then there are the work friends. These are the weasels who snaked into my life while I wasn’t watching. I go into every job saying that I won’t make friends. Before I know it, there are new people in my life that I actually enjoy talking to. That I enjoy hanging out with. That I can be a complete idiot around. Who’ll laugh when I need them to laugh at me. Who’ll make a joke to cheer me up. Who’ll invite me to places or force me to attend parties against my will. These are the people I don’t mind talking to, confessing to, confiding in. These are people I’d go out and have a drink with if I drank. I don’t drink. Don’t invite me to go out drinking with you. I’ll only snap embarrassing pictures of you and broadcast them on Tumblr and Instagram and Facebook and my blog (which you’re reading).

Somewhere we stop asking the question. Maybe it’s understood. We don’t need to mimic Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street and sheepishly ask the guy we bullied in high school if he wants to be our friend. We just know. And I love that.


Did you hear the one about the friend, the Internet friend, and the duck?

Woke up from the strangest dream this morning. Pulled out of it, more like it. Maybe it stemmed from watching The Time Machine right before going to bed. Or perhaps I’m just losing my mind. Both seem like plausible reasons.

Anyone ever see that show, Flashforward, before it was canceled? The one where the whole world fell asleep for a few minutes and saw the future during the blackout? Their consciousness removed from the present and blasted into the future. That’s sort of what happened within the dream. A few of us – a mix of coworkers and a few friends – wound up at some dull presentation.

We passed out and had a similar dream about a duck. And the duck spoke. In my dream, the duck spoke my name and told me a few things about another dimension where he lives (apparently one where ducks can speak). I got a phone call from Miranda who told me that she learned about something I kept from her all these years. The dream Miranda never told me what that was, but it had to be bad. Luna, a friend I made over at Tumblr phoned me to report how pissed off she was that we slept together and I didn’t stick around.

“Did a duck tell you this?” I asked. “Because we never slept together. At least, not in this dimension.”

“How did you know about the duck?” she asked.

“We all dreamed about the duck,” I replied.

Later, Joe called and asked me if the dimension the duck was from had me driving everywhere. I, as usual, ignored him.

Stream of Consciousness

“And I’ll come running just to do it again…”

You are the last drink I never should have drunk
You are the body hidden in the trunk
You are the habit I can’t seem to kick
You are my secrets on the front page every week
You are the car I never should have bought

You are the train I never should have caught
You are the cut that makes me hide my face
You are the party that makes me feel my age

Like a car crash I can see but I can’t avoid
Like a plane I’ve been I never should board.
Like a film that’s so bad but I’ve gotta stay til the end.
Let me tell you now,

It’s lucky for you that we’re friends.

I wasn’t sure which song should start this post, or which title I should go with. Lucky for you all, I decided on both songs (but because WordPress gets all screwy when I place a song in mid-post, I’ll start with Pulp’s “Like a Friend,” and end with the Taylor Swift cover (that’s right, Taylor Swift).

Shall we get started?

The Swinging Door

“I never apologized to her,” I tell Miranda as we drive down to I can’t remember where. A feeling that’s bothered me for years now out in the open. I never much spoke about, though I alluded to it since.

“And it bothers you that she’s forgiven you without needing to?” Or something to the matter.

Friday, Miranda kidnaps me. We visit with Monica. With Joe and Erika. We talk about a history. My history. A sliver of hers. It’s a long time coming, actually. We talked Jeanna. We talked Shaun. 2008. The person who’s currently residing in my mind. We talked about stupid things, too. And even in pain, I felt transported to the days when it was just her and me.

“It’s a swinging door,” I confessed. The reason that letting Jeanna go is difficult for me. And a swinging door opens from both sides. A Hank and Karen relationship. No matter where I stand, no matter how much I’ve distance myself from loving her in the past. She has the power to open that door, and I go running back to it over again.

My moving on is against the rules, in more ways that one. This hallway isn’t unfamiliar to me, and if that door opens again, I’ll hurt someone who I care about (hypothetically) like I have done in the past.

Dress up like hipsters

Exhibit A: Meester Binx was feeling 22
Exhibit A: Meester Binx was feeling 22

We caught up with Meester Binx (Joe) and his wife, Erika, at some Chinese cat restaurant in McAllen. Binx made for my hat, popped out the lens of his 3D glasses, and made a face (which we all snapped a picture of, I’m sure). The owners turned on their karaoke machine, and offered us a take at it. “Only if it’s a duet,” I said. “And only if it’s Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid.” Of course, I selected Meester Binx as my partner. Alas, nothing happened. We paid – Binx paid – and we ventured off to his home in Pharr where we sat around watching No Country for Old Men while the women folk spoke women folk stuff. Finding it a tad humorous that my “going out” included lounging around, watching a movie, I texted Angela (earlier, I told her about canceling my plans with Miranda due to my pain. When I told her my plans about going out – drinking coffee at Starbucks or Barnes & Noble – she opined that it was hanging out. She defined going out as watching movies with friends, to which I stated that’s my version of staying in) because I knew she’d enjoy the irony of it. Binx attempted to steal her number from me by reading over my shoulder. I punched him for that. Later, I chased him around the house with an aluminum baseball bat. Don’t ask about the transition.

On the way home, we concluded our discussion about Jeanna. About the girl. About the superficial things that would irk me if a relationship were possible. She suggested that I throw my hat into the ring, because a failed relationship isn’t a bad thing. Hypothetically speaking, I think I’m ready to move on. Realistic speaking, I’m not ready to even think about a new relationship. But I think it’s time I locked that door.


“Does this sound like a helicopter?”

Oh, I thought you’d still be mine
When I kissed you goodbye
Oh, and you might be with her
But I still had your first.

Why was Cher Lloyd allowed to change her clothing on the way to the police station? Someone explain that to me, please.

After the earworm has wiggled itself into your cerebral cortex, we can continue with this post. The original idea for this post was something entitled “The Swinging Door,” but I’m vacationing from the depressing for today. Well, a half-day anyway.

Yesterday afternoon, near evening, Miranda decided to kidnap me after my hard day at work. Not taking any pain killers, the night wasn’t exactly something I longed for. Still, Miranda insisted and there’s no telling her no. So onward we went and we talked about everything. And after not hanging out with my friends in one setting for a while now, it was nice. Something I needed to get my mind off of everything, even though that’s what we spoke about.

In a matter of hours, we spoke about my failed relationship with Jeanna, the year 2008, her ex-husband, the person who’s pre-occupying my mind, and everything in between. We also discussed the swinging door/the Hank & Karen aspect of my love life. A fun night, in summation.

It’s okay. I won’t keep you any longer. You can play the song again.


“…holding hands with Eloise…”

And I can’t compete with all you talk about,
You’re so informed.
Yet, you talk like a lout, you say
Yo la Tengo like you’re selling perfume
Like a brand new scent for modern men
Invented by cartoons.

Why must I be the pessimistic romantic? I see the end of a relationship before it starts. Lately, I’ve listened to sad music. Longing for something that I know is not out there. At least, not for me.

Started thinking about mix tapes after reading Eleanor & Park. I miss making playlists for other people to enjoy. There was a time when I shared music that I liked with people who I liked. Now, it’s just in ear buds, shared with none.

Sometimes, I want to talk a girl and lose myself in her words. And I want to say smart things while talking to her. And I want to cut myself straight down the middle to see if there’s anything still working in there.

Started talking to Grace about someone. Mentioned I displaced my emotions. Sometimes, I’m sure that I do this on purpose. That I want to hurt others to not feel a single thing.

Should really take Miranda on her offer.