Articles by Moye

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My BFF is spending quality time in Japan, which means that I have about a week of being completely on my own. Not only that, but since I graduated last week, I have zero “official” things to occupy myself with–like homework, reading, more homework and writing about reading. Oh, and writing, but whatever.

But the possibilities of all the stuff that I am now free to do are overwhelming! My brain is like WHAAAT, and a little like AHHHHH with a touch of OMGGGGG and HUH?? so I basically end up sitting on the sofa in my pajamas while thinking about turning on the TV most of the time. Seriously, though, I’ve got a To-Do List that has been waiting to be completed since like, forever. Like…

1. Start and finish this book.

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2. Finally play this game.

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3. Read all of these books.

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4. Maybe finish this book.

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5. Order another Stitch Fix box!

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6. Perhaps try this on Insane but TBD.

GEARS

7. Go outside.

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8. Definitely finish this on Hard because I want that achievement. 

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9. Play with this little girl!!

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10. Find a new excuse to not hang out with people because mostly everyone knows that I don’t have homework anymore. Any suggestions?

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The most memorable moment from my grad school residency was not surviving my critical introduction/reading, or my thesis review, or surviving the graduate reading at the end of the week, or all the chocolate cake I ate for lunch, but when my friends and I sat down, ate Mexican food and wrote a poem about serial killers burying the bodies of their victims on their remote farm in northeast Colorado.

Wait, I take that back. My most memorable moment was when Phil took that poem (with a couple edits as he’s a far superior poet than me) and read it aloud at the student reading the following night.

No wait. The most memorable moment was when everyone politely clapped afterwards.

Who says poetry is hard to write?

 

My Sacred Seeds

Ash to milky ashes

Dust dust

The starry dust

Above me

And the bodies, heavenly bodies, below.

 

Beneath my feet and sifting through

The sand, a dead thing grows.

I have no need to reach to brush the stars now

They are far beyond my grasp, as far as final breath.

Cold wounds do not scar

Mouths agape do not scream.

As the red dust on my shovel

Flakes away.

The cool steel bleached by starlight

No longer stained, but baptized.

And pure.

Redeemed through sacrifice.

 

Some seek for signs

They seek but do not see

For all is washed clean

And remains buried in my heaven

And in my memory.

 

Every

Last

One.

I Did It!

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It’s Monday at 10:00pm, which means I’ve SURVIVED. I’ve somehow stumbled through my graduate presentation, which included a critical introduction and a reading from my thesis, adding up to 30 minutes of talking. Let me reiterate that. THIRTY MINUTES OF TALKING. ALONE. IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.

How do real writers do this!?

Luckily, I was paired with another lovely student from my semester, who told an amazing story on how the strong women of her family inspired her to stand up and voice herself (in writing). There was a heartbreaking moment when she explained how she was kept from writing the story of her great grandmother (how could other people be so greedy??) but the piece she read was still perfect and fun.

Anyway, I rehearsed alone, I rehearsed with my friend, Jennifer, I scribbled notes on the pages, and yet, the second I stood behind the podium, everything in my head went blank. All that practice, all those ideas, POOF. But, as things always go, I think I learned more during those thirty minutes than I have in the past three days of the residency. Read slower, speak slower, look up, and yes, laugh at yourself.

And can I talk about one thing? The way that my grad school arranges the graduate presentations is that all the attendees (at least, those who follow the rules) submit their feedback, answering questions from what they learned from the introduction to anything that could have done better. Turns out that my instincts were right, as a lot of the responses encouraged me to do everything slower. And while I learned to trust my instincts this past year, I’m happy that I finally learned to trust (and take) the criticism, as well. (I mean, yeah. At first I read through the feedback while freaking out in my brain.) But I looked at the papers again carefully, and was so happy to not only see the faculty’s notes (like OMG they actually CAME?) but even understood them. And I feel even better. Honestly, six months ago, I would have crumpled up on the floor of my tiny dorm room and cried and cried and cried because I’d felt like a failure. Or more so than usual.

Now, I’m just excited that I stood up there and read my work aloud to a group of people for the first time ever, that I’m in such awe of my fellow graduating students who have come so far and have displayed such talent. Maybe an MFA program isn’t for anyone, and obviously this degree isn’t going to help me in any useful way, but being a part of this community is like, the best thing ever.

So if you weren’t able to attend, that’s totally okay. But because I want to remember this humiliating moment forever, I’ve pasted my critical introduction below (with an encouraging Ponyo gif for me cause I can’t believe I’m actually copying and pasting this).

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In an essay about her own work, Flannery O’Connor wrote that the true heart of a story could be found in an action or a gesture that is “both totally right and totally unexpected.” All stories need an element of mystery, something that both surprises and comforts the reader, like Laura Hendrie’s “Jaws of Life” characters, those people who we can’t quite figure out but are so happy and relieved to see them arrive.

For me, this unexpected detail can happen at the end of a story, compelling us to think hard about what we just read, about the what-happens-next that allows the story to live beyond the last word.

I wrote my essay about these unexpected endings that incorporate a subtle element of surprise. These aren’t the O. Henry type of twist endings where chance and bad luck collide, but endings of resolution and redirection that quietly catch us off guard.

I used examples from Alice Munro to Andre Dubus. His novella, The Pretty Girl, depicts a harrowing struggle between an abusive husband and his wife, but at the end, the perspective switches from third to first with a whole new character. At first we’re confused about who is speaking, and then we slowly, quietly, piece the clues together and understand the conflicting heartbreak that the entire family faces.

My favorite is William Maxwell’s “The Pilgrimage,” about an American couple traveling through France. The story focuses on themes of reliving the past, of discontent and petty rivalry, but I love the ending the most. From their hotel room, they watch a few people trickle out of the town’s movie theater. With scorn, Ray (the husband) remarks that this place isn’t the “kind of town that would support a movie theater.” But as they turn away from the window, the story closes with the bustling image of a great crowd leaving the theater, proving the American couple wrong. And so we’re left, questioning the characters, the setting, and the accuracy of their perspective, wondering what this story was really about.

Because life works out in the most unfair ways, I found even better examples after I turned my essay in. My new favorite is Alice Elliott Dark’s “In The Gloaming,” a story about a mother contemplating her life as she nurses her dying son—yet the story ends suddenly with the father’s uncontrollable grief. Lore Segal’s “Reverse Bug” begins as a story about an ESL class but ends on a paranormal note, a reflection on the pain and suffering of genocide.

Perhaps these endings are clear to more astute readers, but I found this subtle surprise to be captivating. They raise questions that add a new dimension to any simple narrative: can a story begin after it ends? How can a story change once the ending is realized?

Writing this essay meant that I began my last semester with endings heavy on my brain. As I worked on my thesis of short stories, I kept wondering, was I successfully using unexpected endings? At what point in the writing process do you think about the end? How do you create an ending that leaves a lasting, unpredictable impression on the reader, one that leaves them reexamining what they just read?

It was hard not to think about endings and ignore the one that awaits you. Along the way, I discovered my own unexpected ending, how this journey has culminated into an experience I couldn’t have predicted two years ago.

I come from an industry that values the shallow and the pretty, on appearances and appeal, on the value of popularity and success. For the past decade, I’ve lived through the low pay and slow pace of TV production, and the endless demands of high-level executives who can’t do anything for themselves. I’ve learned that rolling means eavesdropping on your boss’ phone calls, and that sweeps aren’t for brooms but desperate attempts to woo viewers to your channel. The calendar is marked by season premieres, season finales, upfronts and Comic-Con. A page of paper equals a minute on screen, Courier is the always the font du jour, and reading? That’s what you do to find new source material or scripts for the next big show. (Please don’t ask me how many books we’ve tossed at my old job, just because they were taking too much room.)

Writing. That’s reserved for people hanging out at the local coffee shop, wrestling daily to perfect that spec script, that ticket to the elusive writer’s room of a hit TV show, that dream of winning an Emmy or a Golden Globe. The biggest buzzword you need to know is “development,” a synonym for the lengthy, painful, self-esteem shattering process of the three P’s: pitching, picking up and—about 98% of the time—passing on your project.

DISCLAIMER: I do love working in TV. It’s entertainment, it’s playtime, it’s a little stupid and it’s easily maneuverable with a TV remote. The content is fictional and if it isn’t, we can make it say exactly what we want.

But I started the MFA program because I wanted to escape, a way to distinguish myself from those people stuck in the bumper-to-bumper traffic, the cycle of show cancellations and conventions.

I wanted to explore a world where creativity and imagination come to life through a different medium, one where words amounts to everything, building dialogue, emotional depth, character development and cinematography. I wanted to write fairy tales, to write YA, to represent Asian American writers, to become the next Asian American voice of our generation (if that’s even a thing).

I was going to write the next Great American Novel that was going to become the next Great American Film and possibly (if I felt like it) the next Great American Cultural Phenomenon. “Oh, you write TV shows? That’s so cute. Well, I write books.

And really, above the fame and glory, I wanted to remember what it was like to create something original, to scratch that itch of putting something down on paper because that was the only way it could be said.

I wanted to be a real writer.

None of that happened.

That’s not to imply I didn’t learn anything. The past couple of years have been some of the hardest: the reading, the writing, finding enough time to read and write, trying to start writing when I found the time, trying to find something to write about.

During my first semester, Laura Hendrie taught me to trust myself. “Take a piece of paper,” she said, “And write down everything that you believe in.” I did in a notebook, and it was the hardest list I’d had to write. (And how great was that? I kick off my first semester and I can’t even put a list together.) But this forced me to stop and look hard at my writing, and how to write the stories I could stand behind.

In my second semester, David Long taught me the beauty of a well-crafted sentence and a perfectly chosen word. There’s not a day that goes by without me staring hard at a sentence and wondering how I could have written it faster, smarter, voicier. Even if it’s just an email asking my coworkers about what’s for lunch.

And it was nice having a new goal in life: write a single sentence that would blow David’s mind. (This will never happen.)

Jack Driscoll was my gracious advisor for the next two semesters, a year where I wrote and rewrote, tried to push beyond the surface of a story and take that frightening plunge into the “swirling vortex of doom,” a look at how rhythm and poetry can come alive in prose. I learned that with love comes a little pain and behind any pain is a little love, and that pain is what helps us understand what it means to be human.

I’ve got miles to go, but looking back, I can see how slowly, one semester rolling into the next, I’ve rewritten and revised the path to my unexpected ending.

In place of the Great American Novel is now an addiction for the Great American Short Story.

I adored magic realism, of worlds not quite set in ours, but now I can’t get enough of our reality. The twenties, the sixties, the suburban cocktail parties, stories about the South or the Irish. Stories about people I never thought I’d care about. Stories by people I thought I’d never understand, their words as seductive and exotic to me as I’m sure others find in Japanese poetry. As much as I thought I could only relate to other Asian American writers, I found my heart stolen by Maxwell, Cheever, Updike, Fitzgerald—you could say that I’ve got a thing for old, dead white guys now.

The most surprising thing? This MFA program didn’t give me an escape, but a new perspective on the familiar. I may work in a different mode of entertainment, but even there, everyone is searching for a story to tell. We share our funny moments and memories to connect with others, to find our place in a vast, lonely universe. At work, we look for ways to turn a person or situation into a story. A cooking competition between famous chefs isn’t enough; we need to establish the stakes, their background, their story before we can care about who wins. We critique the dialogue and relationships in video games, even if all we’re really doing is shooting our way around an abandoned spaceship infested with monsters. Between the talks of target demos and Nielsen ratings, or game publishers and next gen consoles, we break down character development, how to find the right setting or tighten a scene to make the overall story stronger.

Like we do in the craft talks and workshops, we work to ensure that the right story is told in the right way to the right people.

And yeah, maybe we sell out to the masses, with stories about zombie invasions or vampire boyfriends, but our goals are the same: we are all trying to write a story.

So I’m leaving this program, not as a graduate who has earned the right to tell a story, but with eyes and ears open to the storytelling that plays a part in everything we do. Pitch meetings. New video games. Lunch conversations about why we hated a movie so much. And is it a sign that this also the year that the TV channel (where I work) will finally debut as the new Esquire Network, where for the first time during working hours, I’ll have a direct connection to the literary traditions of Ray Carver, Truman Capote, Hemingway and our own Ben Percy?

Okay. It’s a reach. But I say, YES. (Maybe.)

When I look back, what I see is far from what I felt at the time, but this is a good thing, proof that writing can change the way we think about our past. And now, all those packets exchanged, all those reading commentaries, and all those frustrating evenings trying to write well, these are the things that have guided me back home.

In his latest book, Junot Diaz wrote that, “Sometimes a start is all we ever get.” I’d like to add that sometimes, it’s the end that leads us to it.

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I just wrapped up the second day of my last residency before I graduate. The feeling is odd, where I go from feeling relief to sadness to weirdness to absolutely nothing. Does that make me a sociopath? Except those people don’t feel anything.

Let’s be honest. The past two years have been the hardest I’ve gone through (note that I said this BEFORE having children or getting hit by a car) and my self-esteem has been on an endless roller coaster–the wooden kind that rattles and shakes your brain around while dropping you on the most terrifying falls. And yeah, there have been plenty of those. On top of that, there was that huge block of concrete squashing every kind of inspirational creativity inside my brain, the utter blankness that would invade my head, how the hands on the clock moved way faster than I thought possible and the feeling of being very, very alone.

But now I’m really happy. There’s something about seeing the finish line that really sets you free. I walk to the craft talks with light steps. I sit through the craft talks without the frantic notes. I wade through the lunch crowd. I still have to give my critical introduction and reading (BARF), and I still have to sit through my thesis review, but I know that by Wednesday afternoon, I am going to be okay. And honestly, I wouldn’t trade the past two years for anything.

Except for maybe a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee and a maple bar donut.

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I haven’t taken a piano lesson in over twenty years (!!!) but the memories of listening to my teacher drone on, the endless recitals, the confusing music theory classes and the never-ending sheet music still feel fresh. I remember hating practicing and I still can’t drive through Burbank without thinking of my Sensei, her Siamese cat (whose twin had died) napping in its tiny chair and the cream leather sofa where I sat, doing my homework, the backs of my thighs gluing itself to the seat, my sister plodding away at the piano when it was her turn.

But growing up changes everything, and the irony of my thirties is that I miss playing the piano. I can still read music and I can still play one or two songs, but I miss hearing the notes, I miss making something sound pretty, even if I have to painstakingly pick a melody out on the keyboard myself.

I figured, once I finish graduate school, I’ll have the time to take piano lessons. But this time will be different. I won’t complain and sulk at the piano. I’ll practice for an hour every day. I’ll memorize the sheet music. And better yet, I’ll play the songs I want to play. You know, the songs that I want to hear, the songs I know and better yet, the songs I can (kinda barely) sing along to. If only my piano teacher back then understood this! Then I’d happily practice hours and hours on end.

So I’m older and wiser now, which means I can do whatever I want. And I’ve decided that if I do start playing again, I’m only going to learn the following songs.

1. The little ditty that plays during the Bioshock Infinite menu. This song is currently stuck in my head.

2. Aladdin – “A Whole New World” But who will be my Jasmine?

3. Queen – “Somebody To Love”

4. Howl’s Moving Castle “Carousel” theme song

5. Super Mario Bros Underwater theme song

6. “Dawn” from Pride & Prejudice. *sigh*

7. Christina Aguilera – “Beautiful” because I already know all the words! And I am beautiful, no matter what they say.

8. Rolling Stones – “She’s A Rainbow” but just the piano part because I don’t know how to play the rest. Unless someone can help me?

9. Frederic Chopin – Nocturne In E Flat Major, Op.9 No.2 only because a weirdo version plays throughout Bioshock ahhhhh make it stop.

10. Nightranger – “Sister Christian” because playing this on Rock Band isn’t enough.

But wait, THERE’S MORE! I totally forgot about these other songs until B reminded me.

11. Candy Crush

12. Aphex Twin – Avril 14

Okay, so who wants to teach me how to play these songs?

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Nothing pisses me off more than witnessing people of privilege victimize themselves, or, in this case, white people placing their “plight” above minorities in America…or the universe, for that matter. You know what I’m talking about. It happens when people complain about others not speaking in English around them, or when all the Asian kids sit together in the cafeteria. “Why are they excluding us?” “Why can’t they understand my language?” “WHY CAN’T WE HAVE OUR OWN MONTH?” I usually avoid these kinds of people like the plague, but on social media, they’re everywhere. (Thankfully, they’re not my friends.)

This time, it was a woman who insisted that the color of her hair deemed her situation worse than non-whites. She commented on someone sharing the Jezebel article about the backlash against the Cheerios commercial with this:

Im a redhead. No group has been plagued with more universal disdain, historically, than us. If i were born at any time before 1600, I would have been drowned at birth.

According to her, the issues that racial minorities voice over how society treats them were nothing compared to what she and her fellow redheads faced in the history of mankind. To her, being asked if the carpet matched the drapes is worse than, say, “Where are you from?” or “What are you?” In addition, people with red hair live everywhere across the globe, that Medieval Europe wasn’t the only era that discriminated against them, that even in the most violent and gruesome parts of history (is it wrong to bring up the Holocaust or the Rape of Nanjing or Rwanda right now?), redheads had it worse.

In case anyone agrees with her, here’s a list of exactly WHY you both need to STFU.

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1. Redheads were never sold or born into slavery.

Not only that, but as a result, they were never systematically disenfranchised by the standards, stereotypes and rules set against them after the abolishment of slavery.

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2. Segregation against redheads never existed.

Can someone can show me a real “GINGERS ONLY” bathroom? No? Oh, okay.

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3. Redheads have never been legally barred from moving to America.

You know what’s worse than being universally disdained? Having an entire government prohibit you from entering the country.

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4. What would have happened if Emmett Till had been a redhead?

Probably nothing.

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5. No one ever burned a cross on a redhead’s lawn.

Speaking of which, no one ever created an extremist organization that routinely terrorized and fought to marginalize redheads.

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6. A marriage between a redhead and a non-redhead wouldn’t have gone to court in a landmark case.

Enough said.

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7. There aren’t any offensive Halloween costumes that mock the redhead culture.

And red wigs don’t count.

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8. People don’t mimic “redhead” accents or try to speak in mock “redhead” languages.

Can Alexandra Wallace make a new viral video about them?

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9. Redheads can sit on an airplane without being called a terrorist.

Do people with red hair practice their own religion that other people deem dangerous and threatening to America?

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10. Redheads were never shipped off to an internment camp during a world war.

Seriously.

Oh, and a bonus reason, just for good luck!

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11. Redheads can attend a good school without non-redheads believing they don’t deserve to be there.

Not only that, but they can go to class without the assumption that they were only admitted because of affirmative action, that the school was merely filling a quota or that they’re on financial aid.

I think Louis C.K. explained it pretty well.

So I’m not saying that discrimination against redheads doesn’t exist. It does, but just like how people discriminate others based on size, age and appearance. If you’re lucky enough to have red hair, remember that you’re more likely to be treated better, that pop culture caters to you, that many are envious of your hair color because they’ve been brought up to believe that their own just isn’t good enough, that cops won’t pull you over without reason, that cops won’t strangle you because you supposedly gave them “dehumanizing stares,” that you’re part of a gang or know how to use a gun, that others won’t always think you’re some annoying tourist or that you’re here to steal everyone’s jobs. Don’t go out there and say that the collective experience of people who just happen to have the same hair color as you is shittier than ours. It’s simply. Not. True.

And if you do still believe this, remind me to unfriend you in life.

Remember when Little Anko (who’s not so little anymore) couldn’t say my name? I can’t believe that’s almost exactly a year ago. Since then, he grew taller, he talks a lot more (though I still can’t understand it), he’s obsessed with tractors, he became an older brother, he still loves eating cookies but loves ice cream even more, and….and….and….AND HE CAN FINALLY SAY MY NAME!!!!

(Yo-yo is what he calls his grandmother–my mom.)

(The best part about this video is that I wasn’t even there!)

(I don’t know why the video thumbnail is upside down.)

(Unless it’s already been fixed by the time you read this.)

(Is anyone reading this? Probably not.)

(I’m so lame.)

Los Feliz Retrospective

I called 911 for the first time in my life tonight. My hands were shaking and I was worried I was too late, but the responder, a calm, female voice sounding just like the ones you hear on the news, quickly answered, asked me repeatedly for my location and, between my ramblings, handed me over to someone else. The phone call lasted less than a minute but by the time I hung up, my legs now shaking, my phone cold in my hands, despite what I tried to do, it really was too late.

Is that cheesy to write? I’m sorry. I’m only typing this out because I want to remember it.

The first week we moved into our house, we learned that our street was busy and loud once a day. Without fail, between 7 and 8 in the morning, cars would stream down our street, carefully screech to a halt for the stop sign in front of our house, then speed off down to their office, the two elementary schools near by, or wherever they needed to go in East LA. I learned to wake up to this constant rush and momentum of car engines chugging, the inevitable hum or squeal as they approached the stop sign, and the indignant roar as they drove away, making their outrage clear at having to come to a useless stop along their commute. At exactly 8:15 AM, this vehicular sea would completely fade away and our street would resume its quiet, residential status, allowing me to pull out of our garage with ease.

At night, our street is the polar opposite of its morning state. I fall asleep to the blessed silence of an empty block. Occasionally, I’d hear a car speed by–because who could resist the dark, empty streets–slightly pause at the stop sign (because coming to a complete stop would be ridiculous, right?)–then continue on down. We always joked that we’d make millions if one of us became a traffic cop stationed outside of our house. We’d get to eat dinner and ticket the delinquent “I swear I came to a stop” drivers, all at the same time. But wait, this isn’t exactly about the stop sign.

Tonight, I fell asleep as usual, my ears accustomed to the random cars that would speed by, my window stubbornly open because even if the cars were loud, I still wanted my fresh air, dammit. Instead, what I got was a loud conversation, a woman yelling, a man yelling back, their words indecipherable but very, very present. My first groggy thought was that a neighbor was having a friend over. They were leaving, they were walking back to their car, they were having a very stimulating conversation about something.

Then I fully woke up, because it was getting ridiculous. Where was this noise coming from? I peered out the open window, which faced sideways from the street, and saw nothing. I stumbled to the front door, yanked it open and looked around, seeing nothing. The woman cried out something, and something banged. Were they drunk? “Get the fuck out of my car! Get the fuck out of my car!” Could these people please shut up?

Barefoot and in my dumb terrycloth nightgown, I walked down our little entryway, down the brick steps and realized that the sound was coming from a black sedan parked at the stop sign across from our house. And this sound wasn’t a party or a stimulating debate; this was the sound of a man beating a girl in the front seat of his car. The woman was crying out, the guy grew louder and meanwhile, I noticed that the neighbor across the way was also outside his house, staring.

“HEY, LAY OFF,” a man from the house on our left yelled from his door. I was already dialing 911 on my phone because isn’t that what a sane person would do?

It was too late. The driver, probably having heard my neighbor, sped off. Somehow, amidst beating a woman, he managed to  turn his left signal on before turning left onto Franklin. How polite. I was on the phone with the responder, trying to describe the car, trying to describe what I saw and where the car went, trying to tell them that it was too late, I was sorry I couldn’t get the license plate, I don’t know what to do.

“Can you describe what they looked like? Were they white? Black?” she asked.

“Definitely not black,” I said, because honestly, after reading so many news reports and stories about racial profiling, I refused want to be a part of it. What a ridiculous and meaningless thing to say, right?

They reassured me that they would send the police out but that was all I could do, so I hung up.

I couldn’t believe how much I was shaking. (Honestly, the last time my arms and legs shook was when I got to meet Brad Pitt in his trailer back in 7th grade. Totally different scenario.) But this was insane. This was disgusting. This was ugly. This was something that I’ve always read about, seen on television, learned to defend myself against. And right there, in front of our house, a woman was experiencing the worst.

The best part? The neighbor across the street was still standing there. I told him I called 911 and if he had any info, he should tell the police. He said he’d gotten the license plate number (!!!) and I pleaded with him to hand the information over. Because I couldn’t. He agreed and then got on the phone but then it looked like he was checking his voicemail, I swear. He went inside.

So I went inside, too. I woke up B and told him what happened. He hugged me. A car came down the street and I jumped to the window, hoping it was somehow the same car, that I’d be able to track it down. It wasn’t. I’ll probably never see that car again.

Why didn’t that other guy do something more? Why didn’t the other neighbor come out to the street like me? Why am I the only one who called 911? With three people, we could have done something, anything, like pulled the man out of his car, let the other woman escape. Is there anything more we could have done?

I’m so, so, so, so sorry. To the woman, whoever you are, wherever you are, I’m sorry I didn’t wake up faster. I’m sorry I assumed you were being loud for fun. I’m sorry I didn’t rush out of the house and stop him from laying his hands on you. I’m sorry you felt like you were completely alone on an empty street.

You weren’t. I was there. My neighbors were there. I tried. I know that’s a lame thing to say, but I really did. And I’m not satisfied with what I did. It all happened so fast and I wish, I really wish that I was bigger, faster, had massive fists to just break down that door and tell that guy to GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM YOU.

I have no idea who you are but I hope you know that whatever the man was doing to you, you did not and never will deserve it.

I’m not writing this down because I’m demanding change or awareness about abuse. There’s plenty of that out there. I’m writing this down because I want to remember what happened and because the night is still rolling over and over in my head. Because I’m angry.

I’m pissed off that men do this, that people can inflict such cruelty around them, that regardless of economic and racial privileges, being a woman is hard. We’re paid less. We’re treated with less respect. We have centuries of stereotypes and restrictions to battle. We’re called bitchy if we demand our way and we’re passed over if we sit and work hard. We’re blamed when we’re raped and called slutty if we pursue our sexual freedom. We’re validated by sexy clothes and we’re punished if we cry in public. We marry for money and divorce because we’re bitter. We’re penalized for having and raising children. I’ve seen how hard women work every day and yes, they’re happy, but they’re pushing extra hard because we live in a culture that systematically works against us.

Yeah, this isn’t news. We know this. I learned all about this in college. But hey, you guys, things are still pretty shitty. What? You’re defending men’s rights? Fuck off. You truly believe you treat women with respect? Proof, please. And no, don’t give her a bouquet of flowers to make her feel better. Maybe give her more respect with what she’s dealing with. Maybe don’t talk about how hot she is. Maybe pay her just as much as you pay your male employees. Maybe understand just a little that we’ve been taught to stand in the street and do nothing while another man punches her in the face.

Maybe I’m not giving my neighbors enough credit. I’ll try but I don’t care.

Tonight, I’ll be coming up with alternate realities in my head, ones where I woke up a little sooner, where the woman did get the fuck out of the car, where she came into my house, where the cops came and where I was able to get a look at the asshole’s face.

Maybe that’s all I want right now. A good, hard look at all the messed up shit we deal with.

 

[Photo courtesy of rob castro.]

 

vv

A carefully selected list of movies where Vince Vaughn plays the same exact character, otherwise known as himself.

  • Swingers
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  • Zoolander
  • Old School
  • Blackball
  • Starsky & Hutch
  • Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
  • Thumbsucker
  • Be Cool
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith
  • Wedding Crashers
  • The Break-Up
  • Into the Wild
  • Fred Claus
  • Four Christmases
  • Couples Retreat
  • The Dilemma
  • The Watch
  • The Internship
  • Anchorman: The Legend Continues
  • Clay Pigeons
  • Psycho
  • The Cell

I haven’t seen some of these films but based on Vince’s record, I’m pretty sure these titles still apply to the list.

 

redsuspenders

I’ve about three books away from finishing my final semester reading list and after taking on a slew of contemporary female writers (Lore Segal, Joy Williams, Laurie Colwin, Amy Hempel, etc), I wanted to refresh my brain with something classic and decidedly male. Upon a friend’s suggestion, I opened A Parisian Affair, a collection of short stories by Guy de Maupassant. As a fan of The Necklace, I was excited to read stories about the petite-bourgeious, the 19th century, Normandy and the Franco-Prussian war.

What I got was a lot of sex.

Okay, so the mini-bio about Maupassant at the beginning of the book served as a warning with clues like the effect of his parent’s tumultuous relationship on “Guy’s basic understanding of the relation between the two sexes,” his “rapid and precocious” sexual development, and how his “sexual appetite, athleticism and stamina became his trademark as a young man.” Also, he died from syphilis, so…

Listen. I know I can be pretty cold, emotionless and prude but I can handle a little heat in literature. But honestly, about 95% of his short stories are about sex, wanting to have sex, what happens after sex, affairs, separations, more sex, and the occasional pregnancy. Yes, he obsessively wrote about love but there were many times I felt like I was reading a trashy paperback novel that I’d secretly purchased at the grocery store. There’s even one story about a man’s girlfriend who sneaks off to share a passionate tryst with another woman! Let me pick up my jaw from the floor. In “A Bit of the Other,” a newlywed couple loses their lust for each other, despite their days “charged with erotic significance and every gesture a hint of the torrid night before.” Gosh!!! What is this, 50 Shades of Grey? Excuse me while I blush.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to write my annotation for this book. We’re supposed to briefly address the craft of the author’s writing. In this case, does “creative and unique approaches to describe sex scenes without actually mentioning any it” count?

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