Category Archives: Personal

The Deconstruction of Death

A part of me died today. The part of me that depends on other people for approval. The part of me that thought I needed someone else. The part of me that lacked the confidence to go out into the world and get what I wanted. I held myself back, clinging onto any form of social acceptance I could find. Like a parasite, I would suck species dry. Lapping up affection. Demanding attention. Desperately wanting to be seen. To be heard. To be found.

I was waiting for someone to come save me from despair. For a beacon of hope to shine through the darkness that surrounds me. Something to set my soul ablaze and obliterate the constructs of my mind, breaking the boundaries of thought and demolishing ancient architectural paradigms. The endless arches would crumble under the weight of my salvation, my one saving grace.

What I could only hope for…

But now I’ve opened my eyes. And I accept reality. No one is coming. I lick at imaginary pools of backwashed tenderness. Crusty white dust and limestone rings now signify the feelings that once were and no longer are. There is no attention to demand. No one to see. No one to hear. No one to know that I even existed.

The stories I told myself were just that: Stories. Fictional figures of a fantasy life, forming unattainable notions of friendship, and family, and love. The best I could ever get was in the theatre of my mind, rerun after rerun, rewinding the reel over and over until it runs raw all over itself, refusing to repeat my sickened fantasy. Falsely leading me into a sense of hope for the future. A future not worth living.

But I step forward anyways. Wading through the unknown. Pushing past the pain. Addressing each issue head on, trembling with fear, cowardly, shamefully. Holding onto a tiny bit of hope that one day it could change. That one day things could be different.

I muster what little courage I own into a perceptual line of sight. I need every bit to overcome the spirit that possesses me. We are locked in a violent grip, a battle for my soul. Control of my actions. My body, my soul. This battle wages on for what feels like centuries. The casualties of war accumulating, beginning to spill over and out of the realm of the mind and into the other world. And the life of others must suffer the consequences of my actions.

But today that battle has ended. A mark in the halls of time, a scar on the cloth of history. A part of me died today. But the circle of life does not let death go to waste. Death begets life. Before I was incomplete. Now I am whole. As if that part never even existed.

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A Self-Study of the Sleeping Mind

From 5:24am

My mind lingers on through the middle of the night and up ‘til dawn. I still see no sun outside. But I do not feel panic. A calm has fell over my body. The calm before the storm, crashing down on my consciousness like a wave and soothing my soul with the rhythmic ebb and flow of time. With this passing of time I have thought about my life, about my actions, about my failed attempts at friendship, family, and love. I thought about my failing grades and lack of motivation. My selfish and immature way of life crosses my mind and I flash back to a time when things weren’t so “mindlessly-laughing-through-life” or “striving-for-someone-else’s-future”.

I thought about my cryptic quotations and archaic humor, timeless from an outsider’s perspective. Outside of time because there is no time to decode the words of a trickster. Everyone learns that eventually. And I am alone. The insincerity of my halfway-actions is apparent. The pressure is on and high pressures pull the skies down little by little, drawing the sky downward to fill the void I leave on this Earth. As I lie. With every breath I take, I tear more substance from the sky and push people away with deceptive words and misgivings of my character. The winds of change blow it all away until no one is there. Nothing remains. Destruction lies in my wake.

Where were the times of joy and happiness that I once longingly tried to maintain? I would savor the thought of sunshine joy radiating through the air, shining hope down on me. Every fiber of my being wanted to be in the light, drawing in the power of the sun. I was a beacon of hope. And everyone saw that. What changed? How I have fallen so backwards, counter to the hands of time, screaming my mind down into oblivion. Is there still hope to change, I wonder.

This is why I have my mid-morning epiphany. To change the error of my ways. To understand the complexity of my spirit. I am a part of this world. And I can be human again. To build something stronger than earthly metal. To make lasting ties beyond the boundary of what can be seen. And to recognize the life all around me. No longer shall I observe. No longer shall I wait. Because the sun does rise again.

Now I wake up.

Illusive

From October 21st, 2015

I haven’t slept much lately. That seems to be the story with everyone these days. As the days turn to night, I finally start to wake. These nights are getting longer, with the passing of the sun. The moon shines brightly on me, a shadow of the sun that once touched my skin and gave me warmth. I live to worship the moon, awake for hours under its presence. I live my days by night. I cannot sleep.

I used to pull all-nighters only once a week, but that has quickly turned to two. I do not allow myself reprieve. But when I do give in to the demands of my body, it is not enough. I dedicate myself to the night and all the work that has yet to be done, all the work I am not doing, and all the work that is still to come.

I used to fight to stay awake in class. A battle between my conscience self and the self I wish I could be. I fight a losing battle. Pointless. When I am awake, I do not understand. The words taunt me, floating through the air and fluttering in dynamic patterns and fanciful forms. Lifting off of pages and out of professor’s mouths, forever eluding my grasp, my understanding. They remain foreign to me. I see, but I do no more than that. This battle I have lost.

People look at me and wonder how I do this. But only when I muster the strength to share these troubles. The troubles that are all-too-common among my peers. The relentless struggle of our undergraduate “education”. The feelings that rage inside. We cannot see past the surface, the façade. The mask I wear to hide my struggles cannot hold much longer. But I do not intend to give it up. It’s just my human nature to live in the moment, even if the next will crush my soul. When I see people, it is my duty to entertain. To fix problems. To ensure we are living life to the fullest, in that small fragment of time. To maintain that illusion for the time being. But we cannot see the truth in darkness. We are lost without the light of day.

It is sad to know that I cannot escape this reality. Wake up from this dream. Emerge from the darkness. And truly feel. Embracing the sadness would make me happy. But the happiness that I have is not meant to be kept. I give it all away, until there is none left. No hopes remain.

Inside that shell is nothing. An illusion. Empty.

Caffeination Trepidation

Cartography and Geographic Information Systems requires attention to detail, patience, diligence, and forethought. We must dedicate ourselves to the minutia of label placing, the visual hierarchy of map elements, and the psychological theories of color linked with emotions. We do this in order to convey a message to the reader. To establish a sense of place. To tell a story worth hearing. This is what is required from me. And I have neither the time nor energy to dedicate to these practices.

It is 4am and I am far from being finished with what I came here to do. I have stumbled upon the world of online TV shows and I cannot escape. There was so much I did not know that I did not know. I felt like I had to explore everything that was out there. And even though I haven’t accomplished much in terms of academic projects, there is one thing I have learned:

Caffeine + American Horror Story = Disaster.

Every mysterious creek, inexplicable draft, coincidental door shaking, and even the racket of the faulty pipeline system running throughout this building… they all are converging upon me, successfully robbing me of my sanity. If this building is even remotely haunted, then American Horror Story has only served to confirm the irrational fears that I initially had of Science Hall. Violent plot lines, brutal murders, and malicious intentions demand my attention and capture my soul. I start to put myself inside this story, blurring my sense of reality and fiction. I live vicariously through the adventures of my television heroes and heroines, each horror they experience amplified by the caffeine that pumps through my veins. I thought I would be dreaming peacefully in my bed tonight, but I just now realized that I am living a nightmare.

If I go missing tomorrow, let this update be a testament to my last moments. Let them know that my shouts were true and my paranoia was even truer. Let them know that I tried to follow the model of the “successful student”, but fell short of the unrealistic standard set before me. Let them know that I gave it my all. Or at least the little that I had left to give.

“UW Student Missing: Science Hall Strikes Again”

There’s one for the headlines.

Moving Out and Moving On

One week ago I – and the rest of Madison – engaged in the pleasantries and pains of Move-Out Day. Everyone had an immense amount of preparations to make to ensure save travel and transportation of their precious life’s belongings into their new houses and out of their old lodging. We were required to erase our existence from the space we had inhabited for so long. We packed our rooms that were full of an overwhelming assortment of items, we scrubbed the rooms free of the filth that had accumulated because our forsaken house chores, we were compelled to forgive and forget the excitement – or “drama” – of the past year, and lastly we vacated the premises to release our old homes from the duty of sheltering ourselves from the outside. And lest we be labeled as trespassers and fined outrageous fees, we left the cracked walls and crumbling floorboards of our homesteads behind. But the empty shell that we were leaving behind held our history, etched into the walls of the apartment and the corridors of our minds. The relationships we had forged existed as residual echoes of our time there. Remnants of our old lives would resurge whenever we saw each other again, remembering the good times and the bad and all the shenanigans that ensued. We weren’t really saying goodbye.

With my capacity for anxiety filled to the brim, I left looking forward to the change that was about to occur. With a new apartment came a new set of roommates to learn to live with in the upcoming year. We would cook, clean, exercise, joke, annoy, laugh, insult, fight, celebrate, push the boundaries of our comfort zones, see more of each other that we ever would need to for a lifetime, navigate this whole “college thing” together, and experience the life as a set of “bros” together.

I love my roommates in the most heterosexual way #bros4lyfe

Video credits awarded to youtube stars nigahiga and chestersee

Because my new roommates already lived with the same management company that we were going to live with this year, move out and move in could be accomplished on the same day. That meant no Homeless Night for any of us! But it also meant TWICE the work in one day… Though with the resolve to have a roof over our heads and the imminent termination of their leases to pressure us, we all worked together to haul our livelihood out of destitution and into our dependable – though distant – new apartment. In just under three hours we had moved all of our stuff and some additional Christmas goodies into our home base.

The move-in was not that difficult, not any more strenuous or harrowing than the average experience. What was most daunting was the change attached to moving. Every year I am forced to uproot my life and restart. Implanting facets of my life onto new ground and adapting to the new environment. I have fallen into an endless cycle of instability, unable to identify sources of a fixed nature to anchor me in place. But this year I know that is going to change.

In the past I have lived with the people that I currently live with now. But I detached myself from them, thinking that I needed to be alone to truly grow to my full potential. But even as the distance separated me from them, the intended isolative effect could not take root. I still saw them every week. I still spent my weekends at their house. Nothing changed. Except for my outlook. These were the relationships that we were meant to have in college. The proverbial friends that you will have forever. I was missing out on major life events. I was missing out on building a life that had meaning. It is only with the assistance of an unwavering community of friends that I will achieve an unchanging state of mind. I will solidify my amorphous state of affairs, shaping the future of my final year on campus.

Throughout my years on campus, I have developed rapport with an abundance of campus advocates to help guide me through my journey. There are so many people that have placed their faith in me to become a successful, contributing citizen of this interconnected world. And I will not let them down. I will not let myself down. I have come too far to let that happen.

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Everything changed when the Kai nation attacked…

In my first year I learned to let go of the past and not focus on who I was.

In my second year I searched deep within my soul and discovered who I am.

In my third year I explored the possibilities that lie ahead and envisioned all that I could be.

In my fourth year I will take hold of my future and tell the world everything that is Kai.

Look out Madison. A wild Kai has appeared. Truthfully, he’s been here all along. But now he has decided that he would let you know.

Objects Are Lonelier Than They Appear

August 14th: A date that has innumerable forms of significance attached to it

Some treat this day as a period of cleansing and renewal. Others treat it as a time of upheaval and unrest. And some might even have a birthday on this most sacred of days. Still one definition sets itself apart from the rest, celebrating the act of giving – to themselves and their own homes. Hippie Christmas.

The tradition of Hippie Christmas is founded upon the transition of rental property leases for the Madison demographic of 18-24 year olds AKA college students. Leasers are forced to comply with their contracted agreement, and must vacate the premises of their living quarters else face “undesirable consequences”…

But the values of Hippie Christmas overshadows the history, proven by the many city inhabitants that strive to uphold the glory of this day. And with the holiday season upon them, the city of Madison made every effort to embody the preemptive refurnishing spirit. Celebrators kept in mind that good fortune comes to those who come early and that the early bird gets plasma screen T.V. They also were well informed of the target sites, setting their sights upon residential areas of affluence and a reputation for disposal. Veterans of this ceremonial practice would plunder to their heart’s content, obtaining only the most legendary items for the most profitable of prices. But there was always room for amateur practitioners to abscond with a generous haul of looted goodies from gilded garbage holds. Everyone was a winner on Hippie Christmas.

I wanted something different than the average citizen celebrator though. I was on an entirely different mission that night.

I would engage in a search and rescue operation. My primary objective was to search for items that contained sentimental value. These forgotten relics once stood for some other purpose, a hidden meaning beyond the original intention. Memories forged through the trials of time and bound through sincere ownership by an earnest possessor. But they are no longer. They are subject to the impermanence of human life and the wasteful nature that has overtaken society.

We watch each other discard and abandon. So many of the things we own have an expiration date. An expiration date arbitrarily assigned by ourselves. Once our possessions become obstacles to happiness, cleaning, fire safety laws or moving out, we act as we always have. We sever our ties to it. But what we really are doing is defacing the value behind the object. There are stories attached to it, a history preceding the present, and human lives intertwined because of this very object’s existence. There are so many belongings that we accumulate over time that it becomes hard to discern the true value. But we have become masters of symbolic attachment. This unspoken evaluation is what sets certain items apart. This is what makes them special.

The items that have been deemed “special” by the scavengers roaming the streets of Madison are a select few. The chosen artifacts of a prehistoric period when this object meant nothing more than its intended function. A point in time when no being associated a thought or feeling or belief to the body of the item. This “thing” resides in a sea of disposable goods and overindulgent waters, but the retention of its function allowed it to float to the surface. It is ripe for the picking and ready to take on a new form. To be salvaged from the wreckage of wastefulness is the greatest honor that can be bestowed. Though these foragers forsake the codes of honor, unsympathetic to the fates of the things around them. The foragers only seek to find items that fulfill their needs. But these items do not care. They just want to be used.

But then there are the objects that are overlooked. They do not have a buoy to keep them afloat. They experience major turbulence as endless waves of collectors wash over them, and bury them further down into the endless expanse. These objects did have something special though. They recorded moments of life. Revealed thoughts and feelings and beliefs. What existed was an opportunity to look through a window into someone else’s life. Each of these personal effects offering insight and a new perspective into the daily life of a citizen in Madison. These objects held the most significance in my eyes.

I treasured the articles that I did find. I sat and gazed at them, demanding that they give up their secrets. Let me into the lives they recorded. I wondered what these people were like. What I could discern from the items they once owned. I saw the significance behind these items, but I didn’t know the history. I wanted to save these objects. Why didn’t they?

I did have a reason for wanting to rescue these objects, but it is unclear to others around me. Perhaps it was my sense of inquiry, to discover the nature of the world around me. Perhaps it was my sense of duty, to save the broken and needy. Or perhaps it was because I saw a little bit of myself in these objects. So easily abandoned. So easily disposed. Just like a piece of trash.

Christmas came early for me this year. And I am proud to have successfully celebrated this most distinguished day, leaving with a triumphant victory and a newly enlightened perspective.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Wausau, WI

As I stared off into the distance, the bus made no efforts to disengage from its predetermined path. It continued to incrementally separate itself from me, simultaneously sabotaging both my sense of security and any plans I had of seeing my friend this weekend. The situation was slipping outside of my control and Wausau was slipping outside of my grasp.

These were desperate times, but I could not afford to look desperate. No one would help a hysterical hitchhiker. The situation demanded a calm, cool, and collected state of mind. The rules of supply and demand dictated that I should have an ample reserve. I could not lose in this market. Too much was at stake.

Fortunately the transfer point was located at the local restaurant in town. Instead of sinking my teeth into sub-par sustenance, I should have been devoting my time to figuring out a way to ensure I wouldn’t spend my entire weekend at Olympia Family Restaurant. I tried to vocalize my predicament to the restaurant staff, but without a purchase I would be outside of their concern and then promptly escorted outside of their establishment. Left with no other viable options, I sat down in moderate defeat to decide on my main course for dinner alongside a more pressing new course of action.

While I sat in solitude at my own little corner of Olympia, a concerned family overheard my pleas for help and offered a simple solution to what had become a complex problem. They would drive me to Wausau. I had found Southern Hospitality in the Upper Midwest. From that point forward good food and conversation were abundant, as our shared stories and exchanged laughter wafted though the air of the small town restaurant. The evening continued to drastically transform from dismal to blissful as my unfamiliar associates substantiated their magnanimous demeanor with monetary value. I was told before that there was no such thing as a free lunch. But a free dinner was never out of the question. In fact, it was right in front of me. And with my wallet still full and my stomach even fuller, we left the diner behind as we set our sights on the final destination.

The hitchhiking had commenced, complete with continued conversation from my benefactors. During the ride, they explained why they felt so compelled to help me. One night during a winter snowstorm their daughter had broke down on the side of the road. The conditions were too harsh for her to stay inside her car, but the tow truck driver took it upon himself to take care of this random stranger. They had to pay this kindness forward. They told me it was the only way humans could make it through life. I had a “no-good-deed-goes-unreciprocated” policy and the good fortune I had been blessed with was no exception to the rule. One day I would pay it forward. But for now, I would enjoy all the perks of being on the receiving end of random acts of kindness.

If this was the standard package for a person engaging in the art of hitchhiking, then I could endure a day of being pampered and protected from the hardships of the traveler’s life in exchange for the student price and the routine recreations of the local charter bus. Although it was an untimely and inefficient mode of transport, it was the far more spontaneous and exhilarating option. It was something to remember. And if I wanted this memory to last, then I had to savor it while I still could.

In short, hitchhiking had accomplished my mission. Their kindness extended not only to the inside of their vehicle but to the inner lining of their wallets. They left me in Wausau, WI – directly in front of my friend’s house. I left with words of wisdom and a Karmic pledge to pay it forward in the future.

With the help of these strangers, I had successfully hitchhiked to the promised land. And nothing else mattered.