I’ve been thinking about life, well I guess I often do. It’s like a babbling brook, always there at the back of my mind coming up at strange times, like in the middle of a group of friends, when I’m in a club dancing my soul out, when I’m lying awake at night. Just thoughts about life, existence, God, and us, people and our relations with one another. How where we came from shapes who we are, how who we are shapes where we go and where we stay. I come from a strange home, a nice one, but a strange one none the less. (for anyone reading I’m not much of a writer more of a rambler)
My story begins before my existence, on my mom’s side, I don’t know clearly because my Japanese is mediocre at best, but I think my great grand father went to China (Manchu, was the Japanese name?) with his first wife and kids, one of the first Japanese “colonizers” as Japan tried to be like the west with their dreams and conquering kingdoms in the name of bringing Christendom and taxation to anyone and everyone that they could. But as anyone with any knowledge of history this failed miserably culminating in my grandfather coming home leaving his wife and children due to circumstances directly tied to WW2.
My grand father wold tell us (me and my sister) stories whenever we would go visit every few years or so, about his life, about old folklore, about anything really, but a few that I remember well, One about giant birds that used to live in the mountains around Osaka, that he said were large enough to snatch up small children and take them away, of a time he was hiking and in an open field, near the top of a mountain range, a thunderstorm swept in and he felt the hair on his arms tingle, a buzzing in the air and as he threw his watch off lightning struck it, the only metal he had with him in that barren place, and the one greatest meal he had. It was post WW2 Japan, people were still hungry, in ways that I can’t understand, and as a young teenager, he and his friends were looking at a rich man’s koi pond and noticed the large fish swimming round and round. Over the fence they went and stole the fish, cooked it and shared it amongst the group, the best meal, because they had a real hunger, and they had a real camaraderie. Whether all of these are completely true or not, I don’t know, but I remember them.
My grandmother was a saint, my grandfather as loving as he was to us, his grandchildren, to his wife and kids, it was different, discipline. it was do this do that, why can’t you do it right? I did it right. I can do it right. you do it right.
My parents met in college, my mother wanted to be a radio host, she wanted to play the saxophone, she loved to paint and draw. She is the nicest woman on the face of the earth, but she has a firey side, she will fight for those she loves, where she didn’t fight for herself, she fights for others. I’m learning more and more to hold both sides. My father loves to think, to sit and ponder, he used to love to play the guitar, he loves music, he loves the Beatles, his classic rock collection is pretty large and he doesn’t discriminate by genre. He loves to sing with his headphones on while he works, carefree in ways that I sometimes wish I could be. that sometimes I am.
I was born in1992 November 27th 1 am on Thanksgiving. I guess I’m thankful, and I guess I tend to be thankful. I was born with a bilateral cleft, if you don’t know what that is check out smiletrain.org they do good work. We grew up poor, but I didn’t really realize it until later, honesty I didn’t really grasp it till college.
The first place I remember is A1 with the upright piano, the weird double door to the room me and my sister shared, the bunk beds that we had side by side instead of one on top the other because we were too young for that. my power ranger toy, the homemade costumes, making mud pies outside and watching cicadas come out from the ground and emerge from their shells in the summer nights. I remember rocking a bit too far back on one of hte kitchen chairs I had out on the patio for some reason and cracking my collar bone, I remember climbing over the railing when we’d play tag, hanging out with Jenny and her older sister, having a crush on her older sister (I was a horny little kid … as embarrassing and weird as it is since like 5.. like I didn’t even know shit) jumping in the pool when I didn’t know how to swim while my mom was trying to do laundry, staring at the ladies in their bathing suites, going to the gully with Jenny and her sister wading through the water and mud near the train tracks. I forgot her name I guess I could ask my parents, of the lady that lived around the corner from us, she had a nice piano, that’s about all I remember, I remember going to Joanna and Villey’s place across the way, their apartments were a bit nicer, it had a gate and a great tree for climbing right outside their window. I remember being a dick and Villey being a jerk. but it was fun. One of their friends had the same birthday as me, but I didn’t know her well. I got picked on in school, and I didn’t really fight back, but I remember the girls sticking up for me, especially Kimberly who I kinda had a crush on, but when she tried to kiss me, I ran away, I still do. Ian and Adrianna were my best friends, I forgot if Adriana’s name for me was do do face, caus my face was stretchy. I was friends with Zach too, I remember the time he acted out in class, and the teachers were chasing him across desks as he yelled at them, I remember feeling sad because he didn’t have to, but really he had to, it was in him, in ways that they couldn’t, weren’t getting paid enough to care for. and they took him away that day, I don’t think I saw him after that, but we used to play the Alladin game together whenever our turn would come up to play on the computer, We were good at K’nex, the only first graders that could make the race car on the front of the box, the big instructions. How different it would have been.
Ramen, was my friend too, but he was an ass. I don’t know why he was always so angry, (it seems young me didn’t really chose friends well, or maybe it’s always I’m put in the path of the broken, or maybe it’s that everyone is broken, probably the latter) but he had the cool mech games on his computer, but all he wanted to do was wrestle and I sucked so I would just get beat.
I kinda sucked at everything. but somehow I’m here.
Josh Hipel came to Madison a few times and I played a weird octopus board game with him and a few classmates.
I still have never gone to a real OU football game, I was born in Norman and went to college 5 years there.
I once forgot to get on the bus because I was playing lego with some kids that were getting picked up later.
My father worked for a pear orchard company. We eventually moved there into a small trailer house, actually a bit bigger than the one we would move into a few years later.
I used to love digging holes. I would catch fire ants and bees. really anything that moved. I’d catch frogs, bugs, anything I could. I loved climbing trees but I was afraid of heights. I’d hide in the floorboard areas when I was left in the car alone, I fell asleep onece while my mom went to get groceries at the buyforless, the one that college kids avoid because its got too much “poor” caked in its aisles, driving out to walmart, target, crest, or sprouts instead. The people who worked there had to come out and help my mom bang on the window to get me up.
The first time I saw what I still call home, it was a giant field, with brown grass almost above my head, a desolate looking place, a one acre plot. We stepped in the abandoned trailer that would become my home for the next 14 or so years of my life. I remember the air vents didn’t have covers, there may or may not have been rat poop in the corners, cobwebs around, but it became home.
I remember clearly hearing a friend in college make a passing joke about trailers and tornadoes, but I knew they didn’t know I grew up in them. I remember hearing someone say they couldn’t do speech pathology because they had to look at kids with clefts, they didn’t know I had one. it’s weird what people will tell you when hey don’t know, sometimes I pretend I don’t know so people tell me more. One time I let a friend tell me of a scholarship that didn’t exist, I looked it up, but I sat and listened none the less. It’s weird what people tell you when they think you don’t understand. It’s weird what we say to make ourselves believe in things.
my parents aren’t divorced, but they don’t live together. they held out longer than most of my friends parents, which is a sad trophy, but I guess am accomplishment still. Most relationships I’ve known haven’t really worked out, maybe that’s why I can’t seem to care enough to start one. because I’ve seen enough of them end.
We were the best combination of poor but well educated, I had a foot in both worlds, I’ve always been one to sit the fence if I can, you take shit from both sides, but you can see a lot clearer. both sides are generally human and what can you expect from us, but shit? and hope for the best.
I made it through high school which was kind of a joke, but I still learned a lot. I guess. well I had a good time, I still have friends I keep up with occasionally. I need to be better. I made it through college, I didn’t really party, I just worked, in school, at work, at the campus ministry, in studio, but it was fun work.
Zak house and Chava house have pieces of my soul, the little brick bandroom has another. a nice bit in the studios at OU. these were my second homes. my extended family that replaced the ones that I only saw every few years as bad as that sounds the ones that I could only speak in fragmented sentences and garbled thoughts. I’ll eventually flesh this out, speak of the times that we sat in front of a tiny tube tv in the living room that was also my bedroom as we watched a bionicle movie on vhs for my birthday, or the times we would shoot eachotehr with airsoft guns out of boredom, just shooting back in forth, not even pretending like we were going to move out of the way. the late nights on the blacktop. Demeleo robbing your house. the malcom x poster that randomly showed up in that house in the back. the weird ak lighters we stole from that barn out at joshes. The Warriors.
how noel was my first friend, but Justin my first real friend, how I used to wet the bed til I was in 4th grade (pathetic I know)
Riley you were cool but you were a dick sometimes, but it’s all good, your dad was in the airforce and he had to leave a lot. I’m amazed at what kids endure. what kids have endured, how we grow up with all this baggage with all this shit that the grownups didn’t realize they were handing to us. they were just trying to keep us all afloat, or at least themselves, and I can’t blame them.
we often neglect those that need help the most, because it’s too much of an investment. Too much caring, and we hardly even have enough for ourselves, but care is one of those strange things that the more you give, the more it compounds. one of the few.
I’m a 24 year old designer that doesn’t have student debt because of a miracle of being just poor enough, Japanese parents, gracious grandparents, friends in low places, and the ability to sit and write dumb shit like this till 2am on a weeknight be cause I couldn’t stop, seriously this is how I make artwork, I would go to the studio knowing I needed to sleep and I would just start, I would just make shit. that’s how I made wave, the first piece I ever put into an auction, I saw it sell for more than I expected, some guy fought for it, and it was one of those unplanned excursions at 3 am where I was making just to make, I was making to relive my frustration, I was making because I didn’t know what else to do, how else to be, alone in a studio at 3 am rapping along to kendrick in the middle of Oklahoma is a weird place to be. I live in an apartment in the middl of downtown, I work at a place that I daresay I love? like appreciate? I don’t know the vernacular. I make more than both of my parents. it’s humbling. I sometimes hate that I am sucessful. like why the fuck me? like seriously God, me?
but then I think of times where I did work, over time, I want to do a good job and as priviledged as it is for me to say, fuck money. I want to do a good job. I gave $200 from my first big paycheck, I stuck it in the backdoor at mission norman back when I worked my first full summer. I give back a lot. maybe not as much as I could but plenty, but compared to what I’ve received from God , from this life, Igive shit. I give because I want to give more,
in middle school, I used to want to be homeless, a vagabond , I wanted to hop on a freight train and forget about life, to live off the land, but I’m starting to lose that, I;m getting comfortable and I don’t know if I like that. I’m not poor anymore. but I still act like it, some times.
I was told once by a man that he saw God placed some thing for music in my life and I’ve pondered it, but I haven’t dome much. I’ve felt God move a few times, radically in my life. and I can’t really explain it, I weep, but my mind is still clear and honestly I question it even as it’s happening, which is kind of the best. because it’s like I get to experience it and see it skeptically at once. it’s weird. Life is weird. I don’t think most people really know what joy is. they only know happiness. and it’s close enough if you haven’t had the real thing in a while.