transcendence – dream

We often get lost in the bustle and demand of our every day lives and it drowns away our own thoughts, dreams, and desires. It sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s the truth. High stress and commitment, from things such as jobs, rent, paychecks, often causes us to forget about our own needs and concerns, our dreams and aspirations. Why would we be able to think about what we want out of our lives in the next five years when we have a task or chore that needs immediate attention, and therefore preoccupies our present? I wish there was a way for us to just turn this need to address the short term issues on and off, like a switch if you will. When it is off, we do not think about anything other than how and why we want to grow in the long term. Where do we want to be? How can we put the mundane or the painfully boring routine that we are slowly outgrowing behind us? These are the sorts of thoughts that litter my mind as I run through the motions and live in this cycle of waking up, going to work, working out, and going back to bed every day. Now I am grateful that I have this constant, but I would be lying if I said I never thought about breaking it to be a free spirit.

Why do we work? Why do we chase these titles and have the jobs that we do? Often times, it’s for the money. We need to pay bills and feed ourselves. Now I would never, ever become a transcendentalist, mostly because that sort of isolated, almost hippy-esque lifestyle does not fit me, but wouldn’t it be thrilling to have that same sort of liberation, minus the living in the forest? Just being able to cut free from expectations, be it your peers or your own, and just living life, enjoying every second of it. I could just go anywhere, regardless of the time of day, distance, or convenience or practicality. I could eat whatever I want, even if it is normally out of my budget or would be extremely difficult to procure. Why should I have to cut off that sort of freedom? Because I have to wake up at 7am the next day to get ready for work? Why should I not buy that basket of black truffles? Because it would take me 2 hours of driving through traffic to go to the market, and because $500 for one purchase would break my wallet?

A sad, but unfortunately expect truth, is that money is what ties us down. Now, I would never want to be a farmer or somebody who lived in the time of bartering, but I wish we could only get the things we want because we ask for them, knowing full well the consequences we would be walking into. Or better yet, we do not have consequences. Now, that would be impossible. Every action has a reaction, and typically one is at the expense of another. Wanting something comes at a price. But either a world where you do not have to factor that in, or for the price to not exist, imagine such a world. No stress, no concerns, no worries. Impossible, but it fits a world of our dreams. You can be a king or queen (or non-gender binding monarch, given how progressive we are these days) of your own life. You do not have to feel like you are just a small part of some large operation where you feel insignificant or unimportant. Easily forgotten.

Within such a transcendent world, you would not have to feel imprisoned in your job or obligations. You could feel like a somebody and not like wallpaper or in the background. You could feel significant, because the only person whos opinions or needs matter would be your own. You would be rising above everything else, and you would be your own number 1 priority. Nobody else would matter. To me, that sounds exhilarating. To know that you are freed from the burdens of being an every day person. You are still the same you, but with more focus on you. That sort of lifestyle would be ideal in my dreams. In my feather light life.

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Bad Together: Chapter 3

“So how was it?” Olivia looked at Farina eagerly. The two were with another one of their friends, a tall tanned girl named Patricia, working together on a project for their graphic design elective. “I can’t believe you guys actually got into Raise. And that you spent one on one time with the owner! That’s crazy.” Patricia laughed in disbelief. It was not an everyday thing to see Jamie Cortina, the young-gun owner of Raise, let alone spend the night with him. “Well, he is not as tall as the photos make him out to look.” Farina laughed. “Says the pot to the kettle.” Olivia snorted. “What’s that supposed to mean?” The Taiwanese girl rolled her eyes at the remark. Olivia was referring to Farina’s modeling career; despite being only 5’1”, Farina was already a model, and every time she goes to an event, the first thing people tell her is that they thought she would be taller in person. “It sounds like he’s perfect for you. You guys can be deceptively short together!” Patricia teased. “Oh, shush. But it was a magical night, for sure. The height only bothered me for a second. And he was just a really… kind and considerate person.” She sighed, contently. Every single thought she has had since she went to Raise yesterday was of him. Whether it was just imagining what his childhood was like, or thinking about how kind and selfless he was, letting her in despite the drama Jessica caused, giving her a private tour of the club, and even giving her his jacket when he was worried she was cold. Most guys just wanted to sleep with her. But he seemed different. He seemed to be genuinely interested in learning more about her. They had been texting each other constantly since then, talking about the little things in their everyday lives, and even now, she was eagerly waiting for him to text her back in regards to what he was up to that day. Talking with him, it was fun. He lived such a different life from her, and being able to have a peek into the life of a successful club owner, it was really interesting. She was enjoying herself, and it seemed that the attraction was mutual. Or at least that’s how she chose to view it. He did not seem completely repulsed by her, nor was he just giving her short, one word responses that would insinuate a lack of interest. But all she could do was assume and hope that whatever feelings she had for him, they were reciprocated.

In his office, Jamie was looking at the numbers from the previous night, while also looking at his phone, waiting for a text notification. Their texts started with small talk, such as talking about what they were doing that day, but he just wanted to get into the deeper topics, about things like life aspirations. Having dealt with a lot of fake backstabbers in Wall Street, Jamie was a bit nervous to be pursuing a relationship with somebody as outwardly beautiful as Farina. At the same time, he felt that her personality, it was kind and gentle. She did not look like the type of person who would just use him for a free tour of Raise. “You seemed to have a fun night, yesterday.” Andy smirked, walking into the room. His arms were visibly bruised from having to separate a few fights the prior day, but he was used to being the brute force and last resort when the bouncers and security guards could not handle riots caused by the club-goers’. “You’re looking really peachy. I haven’t seen you this happy ever.” He continued, much to Jamie’s embarrassment. “Well, she’s banging. But she’s got a great personality too, and she’s smart and really talented, so she’s the total package.” He sighed, enamored by Farina. During their night together, he got a chance to see her acting and modeling portfolios, and she was definitely going to be a successful actress down the line. She was gorgeous, great at playing a variety of characters, ranging from a successful businesswoman to a high schooler to even a young nun. He had never quite met somebody like her. She was unique, and a breath of fresh air for him. Most women only ever wanted to sleep with him for the perks. But with her, she did not try to do any of that. Granted, he never really gave her the opportunity to try any of those moves on him; Jamie was too quick to offer up free admission and a one on one tour. But she seemed to be genuinely interested in knowing more about him. Suddenly, his phone buzzed. The club owner could feel his heart skip a beat as he scooped up his phone and read the text, wanting to respond as quickly as possible. “Hey, did you want to go out on Saturday?” He needed her to know that he really wanted this conversation to keep continuing. He never wanted it to end. “What time?” She sent back.

It was a foggy afternoon in London that Saturday. But she didn’t mind it. Farina was not thinking about anything other than meeting up with Jamie. They were going to spend the day over some afternoon tea, something a little more casual and laid back. Farina smirked to herself. Even though she had been going to school in London for three years now, she had never been to afternoon tea; she was always too busy with projects or internships, and she really never had a reason to go. Until now, that is. Her first high tea, and with somebody she genuinely wanted to spend time with. It had been a while since her last relationship, which happened back in Taiwan. It was with a young man, Joseph, who she had been dating since middle school, until halfway through high school. He was a charismatic young man, at least that was what she thought when she first dated him. Everyone like him for being this tall, smart, and handsome jock. But he turned out to be a elitist, rude, and condescending person, and he broke up with her the moment she confessed to him that she wanted to pursue theatre. “Good luck finding a job with a theatre arts degree. I refuse to date somebody who is trying to leech off my success.” He rolled his eyes before walking away. It devastated her at first, but Farina managed to pull herself back together, and focused on her career. She took every opportunity to model and act, and did whatever she needed to do so that her name could get out there. Commercials, internships, modeling gigs, networking events, awards shows, she attended everything, head shots and business cards ready, in hopes that she would get discovered. And while she did get into quite a few small things here and there, she knew that her big break had yet to come. 

“Here it is.” Jamie looked up from his Google Maps app. It was a very neat, clean white building. The Eccleston Square Hotel, a boutique property known for their tea parties. This was where he was meeting Farina. It was an exciting feeling. He could not wait to see her again. Surprisingly, the Italian American was not nervous. He was looking forward to spending more time with her. In a lot of ways, Farina was mysterious, but beautiful. He wanted to uncover the question mark that was this gorgeous, seemingly perfect person, and learn to love her for both her perfections and faults. Growing up, Jamie never had the time to date. He was busy putting himself through school, college, and making as much money as he possibly could. But he never understood the need to be nervous for a date. It was just another interaction between people, where you learn more about each other. It was almost no different from a business meeting for him. Maybe with less formalities, but that was how he talked himself out of being scared or uneasy about meeting up with the model and aspiring actress. Business as usual. He thought to himself. Opening the doors, he was just thinking about her and how much he could not wait to see her again. “Jamie!” She smiled, waiting inside of the lobby. Walking over to him, they met in an embrace. “I’m so glad to see you again!” She started. “You look gorgeous, as always.” He smiled at her, admiring her outfit and appearance. While she was wearing quite a few expensive labels, Farina could have worn a garbage bag and still looked beautiful in Jamie’s eyes. She was the textbook definition of the word ‘gorgeous’.

“So you’re telling me that you’ve never been to afternoon tea before?” He raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “I just never had time or really a reason to try it, you know?” Farina shrugged, taking a sip of her tea. It was a dark Darjeeling, aromatic and bitter. Quickly offsetting that with a white chocolate and cranberry studded scone, the fine arts student was enjoying her time. “But I’m glad I did, and I’m glad I got to have my first high tea with you!” She smiled. “Wait, is this your first time?” Farina asked, wondering if this was something Jamie did on dates with any girl. “Oh, no. This isn’t. I went with Andy when we first moved over here. And then a couple times with business partners and investors. I just like the environment. It’s relaxing.” He chuckled. Farina tried her best not to laugh at the image of Jamie and Andy attending high tea together. It must have been a sight to behold, seeing two fully grown men fumbling with tiny tea cups and even tinier treats. “Hey, what’s so funny?” He looked at her, clearly noticing her failing attempts to refrain from laughing. “Oh, it’s nothing. What’s your favorite thing that we’ve had so far?” She tried to change the subject, but to no avail. “Okay, for an actress, you’re not convincing me that something’s off. Just spill it. I’m a grown man. I can handle the truth.” He insisted. “Well, it was just the thought of you and Andy having tea together. It-” “It must sound hilarious, right? Trust me, we were laughing our asses off the whole time.” He finished. It was obvious this was not the first time he told this anecdote to somebody. There was something about his directness that appealed to Farina. Unlike a lot of the young men in her classes, Jamie was not this flamboyant, over the top, or passive aggressive personality. He was direct and clearly no-frills. She felt like she could be herself around him. It was clear that trying to put on an act just did not work for the club owner. And yet she loved it.

Bad Together: Chapter 2

“Hey, let me go! RAPE! RAPE! Help! This bloody motherfucker is trying to VIOLATE me!” Jessica shrieked kicking away at the bouncer who was trying to usher her away from Raise. Farina stood there, unable to think. All that was going through her mind was the sight of her friend making a spectacle out of herself, all just to get into a nightclub. It was embarrassing to think that Jessica was actually two years older than her. For a 23 year-old, Jessica was acting worse than a spoiled teenager. “Hey! What the hell is the big idea?!” Andy roared, running out to the front. “Oh my god! Thank goodness you’re here. That mean man, he’s trying to molest me.” She cried, running over to him while pointing at the guard. “Georgio, is this true?” The co-owner looked at him skeptically. “Of course not. That girl, she’s ridiculous. She was making a huge scene, so I called you guys to help with the escort.” He explained. “I just want to get into the club.” She looked up at Andy, who was visibly annoyed. “Right now, I have a big issue. Do I ban you for life, or do I send you to an insane asylum?” Andy sighed. “Hey, what happened?” Jamie walked out, taking notice of Andy, Farina, and Georgio standing next to Jessica. “Huh?” He found himself dumbstruck. Standing between Andy and Georgio was easily one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. Slim, petite, with gorgeously smooth skin, dark, long hair, and eyes that had a soft, endearing look to them. The nightclub owner found himself speechless. “Hey, what’s the big issue here?” He snapped back in reality, realizing that he needed to address the main issue here: the blonde girl who was making a huge commotion. “This one, she’s been throwing accusations at Georgio. She’s trouble.” Andy gestured towards her. “Lies. They were going to gang rape me, these big blokes.” She protested, desperate to avoid any blame. “Is she with you?” Jamie looked over at Farina. “Yeah…” Farina felt like any chance of going out tonight had long passed. There was no way that she was going to avoid any trouble, especially now that she announced that she was associated with Jessica. “I see.” Jamie pondered.

There was a moment of silence outside of the club. It was getting a little cold, and nobody was doing anything. Everyone was waiting for Jamie’s call. “Andy, Georgio, let it slide. Even though she’s a troublemaker, I think we can rely on her friend to make sure that they don’t cause any more issues. She seems like a reliable person.” He looked over at Farina. She could feel herself blushing. Even though he was not the tallest guy around, he still had this charm to him. An enthusiasm that she appreciated. “Thanks.” She smiled, completely forgetting about Jessica and how much drama she had just caused. “You guys are free to come in.” Jamie gestured. “Boo!” “Don’t let the racist in!” The club-goers waiting in line protested, to the avail of nobody. It was too late: Jamie had already let the two into Raise. “You really need to be careful who you let into your life.” Andy frowned at his friend, unhappy with his choice. As somebody who was always treated unfairly for both his race and general appearance, the idea of bending the rules for a pretty face never really bode well with the burlier man. Any privileges and opportunities should be earned, something that both himself and Jamie embodied. Neither of them started out with much, but they made something out of themselves by being ambitious. “So welcome to Raise.” Jamie looked at the two, who were both ecstatic to finally be in the club. “This is sick!” Jessica squealed before running off into the crowd. “Hey, wait for me!” Farina called, but it was too late. The older girl had already ditched her. “Well, if you don’t have a plus one to worry about, how about I show you around? It’s your first time in Raise, right?” Jamie smiled. “Yeah.” She nodded softly at him before the two walked up the stairs to get a better view of the entire scene.

Walking down the hallways, Farina tried her best not to make eye contact with people. It was a typical day at school for her. She was always the source of many of her classmates’ attention and gossip. Being a part-time model, and an aspiring singer and actress, she was definitely somebody people could not take their eyes off of. At first, it was flattering, as she was somebody with relatively low self-esteem; before uni, she was a shy and awkward girl who never tried to use make-up. Attending the Taiwanese European School, Farina was a diligent student who was trying her best to keep her options open by studying everything she could and striving to maintain a 4.0 GPA, which she did. Yet she was somehow re-scouted to be a model during her first year in London, when she was clubbing for one of the first times, with Jessica. It was one of the rare times that she actually tried to dress up, and a scout told her that she had a good look. A couple modeling shots later, and she went viral on social media. 8,000 internet stalkers on Instagram later, and Farina was hoping that she could retain that following as she branched into performing and theatre instead, declaring that concentration at the end of her second year at Central Saint Martins. “Hey, isn’t that Farina Liu?” A girl whispered to her friend. “She’s not as pretty as her pics. She’s totally using photoshop.” Her envious friend shot back. The aspiring actress rolled her eyes at that comment. She didn’t care. The moment she let any of those shallow remarks from complete strangers get the her, she would find herself in a dark place. She never really let what other people said get to her. And that was why she was able to be good at what she did; amongst the theatre students, she was one of the most beloved in the school, almost always taking the leads in student productions, and having a handful of roles in multiple popular television series and movies. “Rina!” Close to twenty girls ran up to her. They were her friends. “Are you ready to hit the town tonight? I’m stoked that we get to go to Raise!” Jessica jumped up and down eagerly. “Oh, you know it, girl.” Farina laughed with her. “I wish I could go. Damn it, I’m so annoyed that my exam is on Monday.” An Ethiopian girl, Olivia, frowned. The biggest thing about Farina that made her so likable to other students, despite the typical first impression she would leave on them, is that she did not take herself too seriously. She was pretty, smart, and fun-loving. Everyone who got to know Farina could not help but fall in love with her personality.

And falling for her was what Jamie did too. The two retreated to his office, getting away from the chaos of the club. “Wait, so you had to wash your feet off in the fountain at Regent Park?!” Jamie laughed. “I had no choice! It’s not my fault that a baby chose to pee on me!” Farina joined in. Even though it was not a fun experience being urinated on, she still found it amusing to re-tell the story of when visiting the park on an art assignment went awry. “The worst was when I had to turn in my materials to the professor. My notebook smelled horrible. And my professor, definitely trying really hard not to judge me.” She chuckled. “You’re honestly hilarious. I can’t believe you took the entire situation so well!” Jamie was amused by her. From just that story alone, he felt like Farina was a really down to earth and relatable person. Even though she was drop dead gorgeous, there was something more to her than just her good looks. “But enough about that. How about you? Any mortifying experiences?” She smirked as she poured herself another glass of wine. “Oh where do I even start? There was that time my brothers and I tried to shoplift. Our mom, she beat our asses with a wooden spoon, like a stereotypical angry Italian mother.” He laughed. “Oh, trust me, I’ve been there. My mom did the same thing to me with a recorder. They don’t care about child abuse in Taiwan.” She rolled her eyes and cross her arms. “Are you cold?” Jamie was just starting to notice that she was wearing a sleeveless dress and that his office had the air conditioner blasting. “I mean, a little. But the wine is keeping me warm.” She reassured him jokingly, taking another sip from her glass, her lips just brushing against the rim as she quietly swallowed some of the dark crimson, almost purple liquid. Damn, she looks so sexy doing that. Jamie thought to himself, before shaking off any urges to sleep with her. There was an obvious level of seductiveness to Farina. He could not deny that. 

Farina was always used to being asked out by the same type of guy: tall jocks who always thought with their pants. Those dates were never fun. They were always only interested in themselves, and they never knew how to be considerate. She was hoping that in uni, going to school in the UK, it would be different. But it never was. Underneath those British accents were men with the same intentions; they just wanted to be dating somebody who they could control. They wanted to ride out a high of knowing that somebody like her was submitting to them. It was pathetic. But Jamie, he was different. Firstly, he was not a tall dude-bro type of guy. He did not look like a stereotypical frat boy. He looked responsible, hard working, and he was smart and humble. Even though he was not the type of person she would be attracted to immediately, his personality definitely won her over. He seemed to be trying really hard to make sure that she was being cared for. Normally, the type of attention Farina would receive, it was just shallow compliments to her appearance. But Jamie, he was actually listening to what she was saying, and he was having a real conversation with her. It was a refreshing thing to know that there are guys out there who care about her thoughts and opinions, and can have a stimulating discussing with her. She was finding herself increasingly more attracted to him. Though it might just be the wine. “Here.” He placed a coat over her shoulders. “It’s not much, but hopefully it’ll keep you warm. I’ll also try to turn the AC up a little bit. We can’t have you freezing in here.” He smiled. She wanted to learn more about him. How did an Italian American end up in London? He was genuinely interesting to her. And she could tell that he was genuinely interested in her as well. This sort of mutual attraction, she wanted to capitalize on it while she could. “Here’s my number, before I forget.” She wrote it down on a piece of paper, and handed it off to him. “You’re making it sound like the night is going to end early for us.” He teased, though this was a ruse to his nervousness; he really did not want her to leave. “I’m only just doing this before I forget.” She laughed before cuddling up with him.

Bad Together: Chapter 1

“Hello, London! Are you guys ready to party?!” A short man wearing shades shouted into a microphone. “YEAH!” The crowd roared. They were in a large room with multicolored strobe lights. The man was on a stage, behind turn tables equipped with two large speakers and an entire surround system that covered the entire ceiling. “Then let’s turn it up!” He added on a record, as large beats started pounding through the club, shaking the entire building. Meanwhile, at the front door, several people were trying to get into the club, but to no avail. “I swear, I’m on the VIP list! Let me go, asshole! I’ll give you a good beating to the head, you piece of shit!” A relatively young man in his early 20s shouted as the bouncer dragged him away. “Oh my god…” An Asian girl with long dark hair and a lean face looked in shock as they both disappeared into the darkness of the streets at night. “Well, that was awkward.” Her friend, a slightly taller blonde with sunken in eyes smirked. “Are you sure that won’t happen to us?” The Asian girl, Farina, looked visibly concerned. The last thing she wanted was to be dragged away in her five inch pumps. “Don’t worry, I know a guy. I’m just ready to finally get into the local.” Her friend, Jessica, insisted. They were in line to hopefully enter Raise, one of the most exclusive nightclubs in the city. “How did you know a guy exactly?” “Well, my cocaine dick, he’s got an in with one of the barbacks, who has an in with the bouncers, who owe them a solid for all of the free drinks they get at night that should otherwise be thrown away.” Jessica explained; as somebody who loved to sleep with multiple men for different drugs, she stopped referring to a lot of them by their name, but instead as the drug they provided her, followed by the word ‘dick’. There were plenty of ‘dick’s in Jessica’s life, from ecstasy dick to cocaine dick to Farina’s amusement, acid dick and weed dick. “Well, if your drug dealer can’t get us in, I guess we can go get high as fuck.” She joked around, knowing full well that Jessica would drugs that anyways. “Hells yeah! Now you’re talking my fucking language, girl. Let’s get chuffed!” She posed with her hand up, expecting a high-five. Farina ignored her. Despite how she was acting towards Jessica, Farina did need a break from school and responsibility. Being a senior in an art university, every day was stressful. She just wanted to get away from all of the projects and deadlines.

“Wow, so how many people tonight?” A somewhat short man with dark, slicked back hair walked over to a burly African American man. “Well, we have 300 on the wait list, but the bouncers have already let in 150.” He read off his tablet. “That’s pretty damn impressive.” He laughed. “We’re just going into our first year next month, and we’ve already made back the 5 million we put into this.” “Actually, 3.5 million pounds. You’re counting in dollars, bruh.” The African man, Andy laughed. “Well, we earned that money in Wall Street, and we’re both American, so of course I’ll think about it in our original currency.” The Italian America, Jamie, laughed. Jamie was originally born in Long Island, New York. Growing up, he lived a relatively simple life. His father was a plumber, his mother was a typically tough Italian American mom who would beat her kids with a wooden spoon to set him, his two older brothers, and little sister straight. Money was a bit of an issue growing up, but they were never homeless. They just all had to work part time jobs together to pay off the bills, such as working in a deli with their mom or waitering or cashiering. Jamie went to school at Fordham University for finance, became an investment banker in Wall Street, and by the time he was 25, had raised enough money to move to London and open his own nightclub, Raise. As a student, he was so focused on making money because he never wanted to have to do the backbreaking labor his father had to do to only partially provide for them. But when he finally made a fortune, he wanted to do fun things. The reason why he wanted to open a nightclub was to make up for the fact that in uni, he never got to party. Raise was Jamie’s way to continue making money, while being able to live out the life in school he never had.

Andy has been Jamie’s righthand man since he started as in Wall Street. Andy was born in Harlem and raised by a single mother along with his little brother, Jacob. He would often have to steal for him and his brother because their mother was out often; she worked as a table dancer. When he was 25, three years prior to the present, he was running into student debts and tried to rob a man to pay off the loans; that man was Jamie. “Hey, put your hands in the air, you piece of shit!” He yelled, holding a knife up to the man’s neck. “Is it money you want?” He rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Give me your wallet!” “Here, I’ll do you one more solid. How much?” “What?” He was not sure what was going on. “You have a huge set of balls, just to try robbing somebody like that. Clearly, you’re in need of money, because you’re threatening me with a steak knife. Men like you are tenacious, but they have a price. I want you to name your price.” He looked at him. “One million dollars!” “Alright.” Jamie grabbed a pen and checkbook out of his pocket and started writing in it. “Here you go. And also, here’s my number. Somebody like you, you can do much better than being a robber. You can make an actual difference helping others.” He smirked as Andy accepted the check and Jamie’s offer. At that moment, Jamie had changed his life. Andy was able to not only pay off his student loans, but also give the rest of the money to his mother and brother. His wages as Jamie’s bodyguard also helped pay the bills, and he was able to turn his life around and start making an honest living. He owed his life to the banker. Which was why when Jamie proposed opening a nightclub in London, Andy agreed without hesitation; he would follow him until his death. Like Jamie said, men like Andy had a price, and it was in this case, a stable job and the removal of his student debt. “Anyways, we need to focus on the present. So with 150 people in, that means that we should have made about 12,000 pounds from the entry fee alone.” “Awesome.” Jamie clapped his hands. Tonight was a great night for business. It was only 8pm, and the club was already packed. With drinks, they would expect to make about another 15,000 pounds from people who are already in there, not even counting the people from the wait list. “Oh wait, what?” The security radio was ringing. “There’s a fight. Come down now!” A relatively panicked voice shouted. It was Georgio, one of the bouncers. “Ah shit, we have a situation in the entrance.” Andy frowned.

“Can I see your tickets please?” The bouncer looked at the two girls. He needed to scan the QR codes on their phones to let them into the club. “Oh, hold on. Let me pull up the email.” Jessica rummaged through her phone. “Ah, here it is. Look.” She handed him the phone with an email thread between her, her ‘cocaine dick’, the barback, and one of the bouncers. “Ma’am, this isn’t a ticket.” He frowned. “What the actual fucking shit?!” She screamed as one of the security guards grabbed her by the arm and started to drag her away. “You’ll fucking pay for this, you piece of shit n-” Luckily, the music from the club was too loud for Farina to properly hear what Jessica said, but judging from the aghast looks from everyone surrounding her, especially the African bouncer and club-goers that were plastered onto their faces, it was pretty evident it was not anything short of a racial slur. “Let me fucking at this bitch!” An offended female club-goer screamed, running after Jessica, who was already preoccupied with getting freed from the bouncer, who had to start trying to break them up. “We have a situation.” Another bouncer standing right next to Farina spoke into his walkie talkie. “There’s a fight! Come down now!” Farina felt numb the moment she heard him say that. “Hey, back off! She’s not worth it.” He barked at the club-goer, who took a second to finally agree with him before backing off. Horrified, Farina did not know what to do. She felt mortified at the thought of associating herself with Jessica, but at the same time, she could not just stand there and let the situation escalate. She was not expecting her night to pan out this way. She just wanted to party, drink, and not think about getting in trouble for once.

combating opposition – realization

When I became an editor in chief for a food publication (this was back in college), I had several hurdles I had to overcome. The first was that the publication was handed to me in really bad condition; we had no writers or photographers, and our editing team only had myself, my second in command, and one new editor as the only people who were actively trying to effect change. So already, we had run into the issue of having the weight of an entire organization on just three people at that time. And it got worse. One of my former writers, who felt offended that I removed the parts of her one submission that entailed basically trashing a restaurant where one of the publication’s alumnus worked, decided that she could run a better publication and went off to start her own. I found out about this during the summer before my term officially began, when she thought it was a smart idea to post a Facebook status about it and had her publication follow all of my publication’s Instagram followers. She attempted to take the few members and followers we still had with her, with some varying levels of success – she definitely took at least a third of our basically defunct team’s writers, which at the time, it shook me. We had two major challenges in total: reviving a basically dead organization, and combating opposition from people who felt so disrespected by us that they wanted to take us down instead.

At first, I kept the news about this new publication to myself; I did not want to stress my already small team as it was when we had to focus on ourselves. The only person who I wound up telling was my second in command, because I needed her to be on the same page as me when it came to our strategies on how to beat them. We first went over why this happened. Those writers must have felt neglected, disrespected, and just all around stifled. We had to change the environment within our publication. We had to increase our engagement. So we expanded our team to make that more possible. I took it upon myself as the editor in chief to do a lot of outreaching with members, personally messaging them and congratulating them for their contributions, even doing a member of the month page with a detailed tribute to members who we felt deserved the mentions. We also got aggressive with our recruitment as well, advertising on several platforms and pages, just to make sure that we had as many people added into our roster as possible. Once I taught my team how to be good at involvement and engagement, I decided to focus on tackling the other issue, being the enemy publication.

We already succeeded in stopping more people from joining the dark side, as we would refer to it as, because we created this happy community environment where everyone felt welcomed, appreciated, and involved. Luckily for us, that was really all we wounded up needing to do to dry up that publication’s resources: since their editor in chief was the same girl who wanted to dirty restaurant’s reputations, they did all of the damage to their own publication without me needing to employ underhanded methods. Their own aesthetic, culture, and image only attracted a small, small handful of people, who were likely just that girl’s friends. Meanwhile, the publication team was growing to the point where I literally had no time to focus on the opposition. I had so many writers and photographers to engage with that I really started to forget about the other side. While I harbored these deeply negative thoughts towards a group of traitorous people, I really did not need to, because by focusing more on my members and expanding our member base, that was all I needed to do to be successful as an editor in chief.

The best way to combat the doubters and the haters is honestly not to think about fighting them. Think about what caused them to act so negatively, and improve that aspect so that nobody else will think that way about you. Self reflection is the best defense against negativity like that. You don’t need to worry about those who think little or less of you anyways. They will be too busy thinking so highly of themselves that they will not even realize when you have surpassed them. I looked into the enemy publication recently and to my amusement, their last post was in September… of 2017. While my initial goal was to smite them, I managed to have that accomplished without having to resort to the same underhanded methods that they took. I did not need to poach their members, or steal their article ideas, or steal their following. By just working hard on the product, culture, and environment of what I had already, we superseded them. Looking at our publications side by side, there was no reason for anyone to go to them, because they were just a bunch of backstabbing, conniving people anyways, while we were longer established with a much more positive and supportive working environment.

New story series announcement: Bad Together

Bad Together is the story of two young people, Jamie and Farina, and their intertwining lives in London, England. Jamie is an Italian American transplant from Long Island, New York, while Farina is a Taiwanese performing arts student who is currently at Central Saint Martins. The story will tackle themes of toxic relationships, abuse, addiction, and overcoming them.

escapism – dream

I often wonder what life would be like if we could get away from all of the mundane details. Paying bills, having a job, running errands and chores, all for what reason? What kinds of concerns do hermits have? They would obviously be more direct with their needs: finding shelter, scavenging for food, staying warm. So it’s not like that life would be ideal either. In fact, it would be terrifying. I just wish that there was a lifestyle out there where nothing can put a damper on your day. Not having to invest your time into the happiness of anyone but yourself, but at the same time, being able to detach yourself from material needs or concerns. When I think of the concept of escapism, I think of just that. Cutting away the thoughts or concerns of others. Finding yourself by getting lost in yourself, would be the most accurate way of putting it.

I like the concept of escapism in that it has an almost romantic connotation to it. That sense of immersion, since you are indeed escaping, from the mundane and every day. I will admit, while working a desk job is stable, it’s not like we all can feel happy doing just that. We all would like do something exciting, or out of the ordinary. Painting the dull colored canvas that is our lives with color and light. All that is faded and obscured will come back into focus, as we shed off the routines that we have grown tired of. Being able to just get up and do that, wouldn’t that be a lot more fun? Life is so short that often times, millennials get depressed from feeling cooped up with their careers. They are escaping from the excitement and thrills of youth, because they want to climb the societal ladder. And on the flip side, we have the baby boomers who had similar aspirations in their youth, who reflect back on their pasts with the regret of not doing the things that they could have only done at a younger age.

I wonder why we, as the young generation, feel this overwhelming urge to try so hard. Then I remember that this is what our society is like. The competitiveness, the need to outdo one another, and prove each other wrong. I understand that feeling completely. But I yearn for a chance to not feel that work-oriented. To feel like I don’t have to prove myself, just because I’m younger than the person next to me, just because I’m greener in terms of my experiences. I can bring different experiences to the table from just living my life. Yet, society does not appreciate that. They want somebody with x, y, and z degrees, working for this many years in such a department, etc. They don’t want a free spirit, because they tend to leave as quickly as they come. And somehow, that’s a bad thing. They want somebody who is willing to imprison themselves in their work. But why do we need to? For the money? For our resumes?

In a perfect world, we can be whoever we want, we can do whatever we want, and we can go wherever we want. If we get tired of one place, we can just get up and move to the a new one. We can leave all of our worries and troubles in the past as we carve out a new future for ourselves. And while that is true to a degree now, unfortunately, our pasts will always catch up to us in some capacity. Where it be the more obvious, being in a job interview where they ask you for references or to talk about your post experiences, to the more subtle, like seeing an old acquaintance or possibly an enemy in a grocery store, you never know how, but it will unfortunately happen in this society. Anything and everything you wanted to sever ties with, unfortunately can be unearthed and re-exposed in a manner of questions, or clicks on a mouse and words from a keyboard. Being able to escape from all of that, and to find your happiness from roaming around and exploring the world for the both beautiful and terrifying place that it is, I yearn for that, in the world of my dreams, where I can live a feather-light life.

 

 

 

 

bulletproof – dream

It has been over a year since I went on a date, and it’s been a longer than that since I was in a relationship. Somehow, I still find myself feeling heavily pulled into going on these dating apps and talking to people, in the hopes that I will find the one for me. And if it has not already been implied, for an entire year, I have had no such luck. It is an unusual cycle, of feeling like I am not lovable in the romantic sense. To say that it does not affect me would be a lie too. I feel like when it comes to finding that one, it is a painful journey but it is also a taxing one too. The thing about a relationship too is why do we look for them? What about them is so appealing?

Knowing that you have somebody similar to you, or like-minded enough that they will unconditionally love you. It is a romantic idea, but unrealistic. Finding somebody like that is hard enough as it is, especially when you have other preferences that filter out people who you find compatible with yourself. For me, I find myself feeling resentful or regretful because of the fact that I cannot seem to find that person. And when I think I do, I throw all caution to the wind and find myself immersed in them. All because that loneliness that comes from being single, it does not appeal to me. But the question is, why? There is nothing wrong with being alone. There is no shame in immersing yourself in you. And when you face rejection, you should not feel like you are being affected by it. When you are being “ghosted”, or not being responded to, again, you don’t have to feel bad about it either. That means that the person is not the one. You don’t want a flaky, unreliable person in your life anyways.

But for me, the struggle will always being not letting that disconnect hurt my self-esteem, while at the same time, not allowing myself to fall hard for somebody just because they’re responding to my messages on a dating app. Even typing it out, I know that it’s wrong to floor it and go full throttle for somebody because you guys happened to match on an app and that they’re talking to you. Loving yourself is a theme of this blog, and cutting out the negativity that prevents you from doing so is a huge proponent to that. Being bulletproof to people who make you feel less about yourself, that is key as well, especially when it comes to dating or putting yourself out there. Don’t be afraid of being yourself, and don’t feel ashamed if somebody who you happened to have an attraction to is put off by your personality. You are who you are. Embracing that is key. Realizing any critical faults to your character, however, is important as well.

When it comes to dealing with others, it is important to be bulletproof to their off-putting behavior. When it comes to yourself, you need to continue learning how to love yourself for who you are, and that also does come with being critical of your flaws, and learning what about them you can improve. Knowing your potential for growth and change will allow you to become a stronger person, and somebody who can overcome that vulnerability when it comes to loving others. Knowing your weaknesses and working on making them your strengths, it will be a constant in life, but that is how you grow and mature. Those who take the initiative to self-improve, they are the strong. They are the bulletproof. I wish we can all become like that and forget any pain that anyone has caused us. Then we can all truly live feather-light lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the leech – realization

I spoke about the fearmonger, who was one of two previous bosses I had the misfortune of working with. The other person who plagued my nightmares and fueled my hate-filled thoughts, I refer to him as the leech. Shamelessly a parasite, willing to make others do all of his work, and on top of that, also willing to throw you under the bus for not doing the work that he was supposed to do. I still remember feeling overwhelmed, because I had to handle bank statement reconciliations, requests from corporate, cash transaction variances, and journal entries on top of my own work. It was exhausting, stressful, and I remember that there was one moment when I genuinely could not handle doing it all within an eight hour day; they refused to pay us overtime as well, so I could not stay for long to handle the issues that plagued me.

I recall at the end of April, I had tried to get everything done, but I could not manage it all, due to having so many different processes; on top of what I had to do for the leech, I had to handle all cash distribution for a massive hotel, as well as the accounts payable side. So having to do all of that, it was impossible. And when I could not manage everything, he had the audacity to tell me that I was getting a written warning for not doing it all. That was when I put my foot down. Within the corporate standards, there was nothing written about me having to handle all of these things. While I managed to do my job plus his corporate request, bank statement reconciliations, and journal entries, I could not manage his cash variances for that month. And I knew for a fact that I was not supposed to be doing these things. I took it to human resources, and I actually won that case. It felt liberating to know that I did too, especially since human resources were just another set of eyes and ears for the fearmonger.

This man, if you could even call him that, he was painfully incompetent. For somebody claiming to have 22 years of experience, and is a CPA in an accounting department, he was useless. And that was the most polite way of putting it. Whenever I would ask him for help, he could not help me because he did not know how to do anything. Yet, he expected me to do everything for him, because he was that incapable. And he had no shame about dropping entire binders of work on my desk, leaving me with nothing more than a post-it with basic instructions on it, and asking me to do that work for him. I would come into work feeling anxious, because I dreaded walking up to my cubicle and seeing what fresh hell I had to tackle today, because he was so useless. There were multiple instances too, where he would come harass me to do his work when I was not in my cubicle. Seeing his shameless smile when he told me to help him, it was annoying. I rarely ever wanted to punch somebody so badly. It was like being electrocuted and being told that the more I screamed, the worse it would get. I had to keep silent.

People like that, regardless of how they are as a person, they’re a liability. They offer nothing to a high-functioning team and deserve to be removed. It was funny that human resources insisted that he was an asset and deserved his position when I initially complained to them about him, but when, for a lack of better vernacular, shit hit the fan when he epically dropped the ball to the point where everyone was throwing him under the bus, and they told us that he was an on-going issue that they had been trying to get rid of, I had to call them out on their lies. It was frustrating to deal with that to the degree I had to, but I could take solace in knowing that I got him fired. Upon leaving that company, I had to do an exit interview. I was completely honest, knowing that I had nothing left to lose. And I am glad that I was. Four days after I left, he got canned. 22 years and a CPA background can only do so much to save you when there was overwhelming evidence of your idiocy and incompetence. The leach shriveled from my salt, is the most fitting way to put it. And that is how it should be. Anyone who tries to use or manipulate you, salt them. Let them shrink away and die off. Removing those burdens is one way to live your feather light life.

fear-mongering – realization

I used to work in a very unpleasant, high-stress environment where my (thankfully) ex-bosses basically stopped short of assaulting me. It was and still is a hard thing to overcome emotionally, knowing that people who are old enough to be your parents, as well as have decades of experience, can act so immaturely. This will be a two-part realization, focusing on the two different kinds of personalities that these two bosses employed. For the first, we are going to be talking about fear-mongering. When you feel like the only way to get somebody to do anything is to act in a condescending, cold, and bordering on emotionless way. To make somebody feel like they are helpless, hopeless, and cornered. To reduce anyone to the point of tears and to strip them of any dignity that makes them feel like a human being. You might think that I’m exaggerating, but this is how that employer made me feel.

Me being the inherent people-pleaser that I am, I tried my best to make the most out of a really negative environment. But this boss, she was something else. She raises her voice and makes threats when things do not happen the way that she wants them to, and yet in any other situation, she acts ungracious, emotionless, and cruel. She also plants eyes and ears throughout the workplace so that you cannot hide from her or run away. I felt like a hostage in this situation. Like my entire career hinged on doing right by her and when I could not because I was being overwhelmed, I felt ashamed. I resented myself because of the environment I was in. It was either work towards making her happy, an impossible task when she was such a negative, ungrateful person, or feel like a failure in life, inside and outside of work, because she would threaten to send me to another branch for additional training.

I had to think to myself, why would she act this way? Why did she think it was okay to treat people as if they are far below her? I came to a conclusion for this particular situation, which was that she did not know how to operate in her department, which led to her acting the way that she was. By putting up airs and this feigned confidence, she appeared to be highly knowledgeable, however, when it came to answering questions, she had no idea what to do. It became slowly but evidently apparent that she was in over her head, and rather than admitting to her fault, she continued to pretend that she knew what was going on and how to solve the on-going issues that she herself had no control over. And rather than trying to at least learn how to handle the situation, she instead shifted the blame and fault onto others, making them feel worse about themselves, when in reality, she could not have resolved the issue any better or prevented the problem from happening in the first place, due to her limited knowledge and experience. 

Fearmongers are easy to deal with outside of a workplace setting. However, when you have to interact with them every day, and not only that, but report to them, it becomes difficult. You have to tread through a minefield essentially, because you do not want to set off an explosion. And on top of that, you have to do it for your paycheck. It is unfortunate that you cannot simply quit and say that working for them is not worth it, because it is what puts a roof over your head. However, being around somebody like that does not have to be a permanent thing. You can always find a way out. Patience, reassurance, and striving to perfection were how I managed to work my way out of a horrendous situation. I was able to close that door and leave that fearmongering, toxic person that I had to call one of my bosses behind. While yes, there are emotional scars and yes, I am still healing from them, but I am no longer exposed to that sort of hideous behavior, so I am taking steps back towards living my own feather-light life.