Damn real: chapter 22

“Congratulations!” Wei smiled at Namie. The two were with Claire and Niall at a restaurant, Ripple, enjoying a late night dinner. A few months have passed since then, and it was now late January. “Well, she totally deserved it. First associate of the month, then she gets recognized for all of her hard work, and she’s now basically running the finance team.” Claire smirked. Namie had just been promoted to Finance Generalist, meaning that she was one step closer to becoming an Assistant Director of Finance. “Well, let’s not forget about you.” Namie pointed at Claire. She had also been promoted to Assistant Director of Front Office, to the surprise of everybody at work. The previous manager, Takeru, had left the company to pursue a career as Director of Reservations for the Intercontinental Waterfront, so the vacancy meant that Claire, being the next in line as the supervisor, was offered the chance to step into the new role before Human Resources would have to find a new person. She took the offer with next to no hesitation, as it meant that with more work, there would be more distractions from thinking about Frankie. More responsibilities to drown herself in. “Yeah, it was not really an expected turn of events. I genuinely was surprised that they’d want me to do it.” She shrugged. Looking back on how hasty her decision was, Claire was doubting whether or not taking a career advancement was what she really wanted. It meant that she would have more obligations and longer hours, something that could potentially interfere with her job as a beauty guru. However, time was never an issue for her. Claire was able to work overnight, and still have time to record, edit, and plan her own videos. So this was just going to be another hurdle for her that once she overcomes, will just add to her already incredible resume.

“Well, we are all doing well, and that’s what matters. The two of you are dating, we both get promoted, it’s a great life.” Claire smiled while Wei and Niall rolled their eyes at them. “Meh, this coming from the girls who are now anti-relationship? Whatever. At least you aren’t judging me for dating your ex, Nams.” Wei shrugged. Even though it was initially awkward, Wei and Niall started dating. It started a few weeks ago, when Niall and Wei started talking more, first over the phone, and then eventually in person. The person who really won Wei over was Kimmy; seeing how caring Niall was towards her, she could not help but feel like he would be the perfect kind of guy for her. Despite formerly harboring feelings towards him, Namie could not be happier for her cousin. It was about time that she found somebody that made her happy, besides herself of course. Surprisingly enough, Wei and Niall were very compatible; both of them were really into performing arts, and Niall’s constant praising of and fawning over Wei only complimented her self-loving nature. He was a nurturing personality, while she was more independent and strong. Since they have started dating, Wei has been trying to use her connections to help Niall build more career opportunities beyond the D.C. Concert Orchestra.  Because of that, they both really brought out great qualities in one another. Niall made Wei a more caring person, while Wei’s newfound caring nature helped bring Niall and therefore Kimmy, more chances at a better life. “Well, we keep pushing each other, and that’s what I appreciate about it.” Wei shrugged. “We’re just happy that you’re both happy.” Claire and Namie reassured their friends. It was just refreshing to see somebody as outlandish as Wei find somebody who was such a perfect fit for her.

“Well, don’t forget! The next showcase is coming up very soon now!” Melissa called as the class was dismissed. “Namie, how often have you been practicing?” “Well, I try to squeeze in at least one to two hours each day after work, on top of the weekend classes.” She admitted. “And you’re happy with the song you chose? It was a JPOP song, right?” “Yeah, it’s Koda Kumi’s song, Damn Real. It’s a bit intense, but I really wanted to try it.” “Oh, I think I heard about it from my bisexual Japanese friend. He’s really into that artist because she’s all about sex and self expression. I got your number.” The dance instructor laughed as Namie stood there, impressed that Melissa knew that much about one of the accountant’s favorite artists. “But yeah, Damn Real is a bit slow. I have a remix I’d like to suggest, just to jazz it up. It’s the NINESTATEFLEX remix, and it’s bomb as hell. The beat is a little more suitable to waacking, but it’s up to you.” She shrugged. “I’ll listen to it and adjust my movements. Thanks.” Namie smiled, as she wrote down the version she would be later downloading off of the internet. Luckily, it was the weekend and she still had about a good six days to make revisions. And since it was a remix, not an entirely new song, the accountant knew that she could handle making those changes to her choreography by today, and adapt to the new steps by the end of Tuesday. Smiling to herself, she felt pumped. This was an opportunity to get her name as a performer out there in the greater D.C. area. The thought of becoming a full time dancer or performer, it sounded incredible. She already enjoyed the pace of learning how to dance, as well as being able to express herself as an outlet, so to have more opportunities to do so, and to get other people inspired to join in with it, it sounded increasingly like something she could pursue an actual career in.

“I hope she’s not nervous.” Wei and Claire exchanged glances nervously. It was finally the day of the end-of-winter showcase. Namie’s performance was somewhere towards the end, so the wait and suspense were eating away at both girls. “Oh, I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Emiri rolled her eyes. She was also getting impatient, because she was only there to support her sister. None of these other performers even mattered to her. “Wow, how are you even related to Namie and Wei? You’re like heartless of something.” Niall raised as eyebrow at her. “First rule of newly dating somebody, don’t shit on their family.” Emiri glared at him. “And also, I hardly consider Wei my family. Yeah, we’re blood related and all, but I hardly know her.” “She’s got a point there.” Wei agreed, not entirely enthused by the thought of being closely associated with somebody so straightforward and ruthless. “Sh! I think Namie’s performance is up next!” Kimmy looked at them. Out of all of the five, she had been the only one closely paying attention to all of the performances and the program in general. As she was an avid fan of Wei, Kimmy just appreciated the performing arts as a whole. So each and every dancer to have gone up on stage thus far has been a great inspiration to her. “We need to be quiet, especially if there are scouts in the audience. We don’t want to distract her or detract from her performance.” Niall realized aloud. He was right. And with that point, everyone else’s bickering came to a halt as Namie made her way up towards the center of the stage. She was draped in black, with fishnet leggings and a face dowsed in a heavy amount of eyeshadow and mascara, just to give her overall appearance more intense features to match the song she was about to perform to.

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Damn real: chapter 21

“And the associate of the month is… Namie Merrimen! Congratulations on clearing out all of your duebacks and handling the monthly audits in such an efficient matter! We have never seen anyone who finished all of the counts in just a week!” The general manager, a tall bald man named Ralph, clapped his hands as all of Namie’s coworkers joined in. “Well done, Namie.” David grinned at the accountant. “Thank you.” She had been the first member of the accounting department to receive this honor. It felt incredible, to say the least. “You earned it! See? Things are already turning around for you.” Claire told her as they started walking back to their offices. “I’m just so happy that we managed to finish everything so quickly.” Namie sighed in relief. Whenever she was having talks with Claire, they had been grabbing and counting the individual banks for each front desk agent, which was why she was able to get her monthly counts done so effectively. It had been a couple weeks since Namie had dumped Niall at this point, but she could not help but still feel bad for how she chose to break it off with him. Nonetheless, it felt wrong to apologize now. It seemed like he would have moved on since then. Saying anything at this moment could probably escalate the situation and cause tensions to rise. At least that was how the accountant saw things. Unbeknownst to her, the violoncellist was not ready to give her up from his life just quite yet. Shortly after he had been dumped, he reached out to the one person he was hoping to get answers from. And luckily for him, she told him all he needed to know.

“Hello?” Wei picked up her phone. The idol was doing her daily routine, which included walking around the city to stay thin, when her cell suddenly started ringing, the screen displaying a 617 area code. “Hi, is this Wei?” She recognized the voice right away. It was Niall’s. That’s right. 617 is a Boston area code. She reminded herself. “Uh, what do you want?” She paused, awkwardly. It felt really off-putting, talking to her cousin’s ex-love interest. “I just wondering if I could talk to you more about Namie. I wanted to talk to her, but I did not want to make things worse. And you’re her family, so you’d know what’s going on with her more than anyone else would.” “Why should you care?” “I just want closure. If she never wants to see me again, that’s one thing, but at the end of the day, I want to understand why she felt the need to dump me like that. Wei, I’m the one who got his heart broken here. I think it’s only fair I get some kind of explanation, right?” “Okay, fine.” She sighed, sitting down on a bench. “The thing about Namie is that she had always been the black sheep in her family.” “Well yeah. She’s not religious, and she was born into a Mormon family, right?” Niall pointed out. “Exactly. And her father was a sexist bastard who tried his best to weigh her down. She could have gone to Harvard, could have worked in Deloitte. But because of him, her chances at doing any of those were shot. To her, she views having a male figure in her life as a large burden. At least, that’s from what I’ve noticed. She’s afraid by committing to a guy, he might try to make her submissive, the same way her own father made her, her sister, and her mom.” After hearing that from Wei, it was all slowly started to make sense to the young man. He should not have taken Namie’s rejection so personally. It was not necessarily him, but just the idea of dating or being with a guy that was putting the accountant off. “I see.” He paused, still wrapping his head around this.

“Thank you, everyone. Great work!” Melissa clapped her hands as everyone got up and began filing out of the studio. “Namie, you keep dancing the way you are and you will crush it at the showcase.” She beamed at the cashier. “Thanks, Melissa.” She grinned back as she left the room. With the showcase still a while away, she had been practicing more and more throughout her week. She was thinking about using a song from her favorite Japanese artist, Koda Kumi, but she was still deciding on which one. Regardless, dancing continued to make her feel like a stronger person. As if nothing else really could distract her. Or so she thought. “Hey…” Much to her shock, just standing outside of the building was Niall. After their exchange, she was not entirely ecstatic to see him. In fact, she was terrified. What if he came here to attack her? Or berate her for breaking his heart? Granted, that would justified, given how suddenly she broke it off with him, and how little of an explanation she had actually given him. Bracing herself for the worst, she decided to dive into the belly of the beast, and be more upfront with him. Or at least she tried to, before he interrupted her train of thought. “I know you might not want to see me right now, but I need to talk to you.” He stood there nervously, awaiting her response. It took her by surprise. There were a lot of things Namie had expected him to say at that point. ‘You heart-breaking bitch!’ or ‘Teasing cunt-faced whorebag’ would be a couple of them, but his civil reaction was both nerve-wracking and slightly relaxing. She did not know if he was going to have a volcanic reaction down the line, unleashing his bottled up emotions, or if he was genuinely calm and making rational decisions at this time. “I think I owe you that much. Here, let’s go for a walk by the Jefferson Memorial.” She suggested, as they began walking alongside the Tidal Basin.

“So I spoke to Wei, mostly because I wanted to understand what you meant about your upbringing. I didn’t realize that you were basically imprisoned by your father for so much of your life. It must have been tough and degrading, throwing away everything to gain his approval.” Namie, albeit taken aback, tried not to get defensive or justify herself to that fact. “Yeah. But not anymore. Not for a while, actually.” “She told me that too. And that just made me admire you more.” He sighed, feeling defeated by his own emotions. “Look, I really do think you’re an amazing guy, Niall.” She began. “And I could see myself in a happy relationship with you. But at the same time, I don’t want to lose who I am to being with somebody else. If I do, then how was that any different than me trying my best to impress my dad? I’m just throwing away my identity for a man in my life. I don’t want that.” She sighed. “Honestly, relationships don’t have to be that way either. Now I’m not saying that you should be in a relationship with me because I am attracted to you, and you might be attracted to me. But I just want to broaden your perspective on that.” He reasoned. “There will be people who will like you, no matter who you are. Those are the people you want in your life. I’m not saying that I will be unconditionally attracted to you. I’m sure even I would have my limits. For example, if you decided to suddenly become a Neo-Nazi, we might have a problem there.” He pointed out. “But that being said, maybe we have been going about this all wrong. We don’t need to jump into anything. We could just start by being friends. I want to get to know you, simply because I think you’re an interesting person. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I want you to be my wife. Trust me, I’m in no rush to get married and have kids. Raising Kimmy, that’s already more than enough.” The artist finally concluded. “ I think that’s for the best, Niall.” She nodded in agreement as the two hugged. “I’m more than happy to call you my friend.”

Damn real: chapter 10

Ultimately, sending Emiri and her family was a failed effort. Seeing her younger sister and her family did not make Namie want to have a family of her own any more than she already did not. However, her parents did not stop there. The day after Emiri left, Namie received a Facetime call from them. “Young lady, I have already taken the liberty of making you an account on this dating app!” Mr. Merrimen angrily announced through her phone screen. “Wait, what?!” The brunette was furious. “Yeah, and I actually have gotten quite a few matches. Of these young men, I have selected four for you who I think you could be a good housewife for.” All Namie could think of right now was drowning her father in a bathtub. However, she quickly recalled that murder was illegal, and him dying would not necessarily make her life any better, so she tried to gather her thoughts and calm down. “Dad, I appreciate that you are supportive of my dating life, and thank you for finding potential husbands for me.” She gritted her teeth at that word. Oh, to say she hated it was a massive understatement. “I’ll take you up on your proposition, and I will even meet with them. If I find Mr. Perfect, great, but if I do not, can you please promise me that you will never do this again?” She sighed. “Fine. And I’m confident that you will find a perfect man. I have chosen four of the best bachelors in the greater D.C. area. I guarantee you will find a husband, or I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” He reassured his frustrated daughter. Finding a husband was not even on her list of priorities. She just wanted to shut her father up.

October was wrapping up, and again, that meant another episode of Namie’s favorite drama series, month end at the Ritz Carlton. People would turn to glue during month end, and as stressful as the experience is in the moment of, looking back on it in retrospect is always hilarious. The Director of Revenue Management, Melinda, would often be so exhausted that she would talk to her stuffed turtle on her desk and have it talk back to her. Heather would actually start doing Pilates exercises in the middle of the accounting office, While the front office was not typically affected by month-end as much, they would still be pulled in by the accounting and revenue management departments to discuss certain expenses and why they should not be giving out certain things for free. While they were the Ritz Carlton, and were therefore “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen”, they were a business first and foremost, and businesses need to be profitable, not charities. Needless to say, Namie would always find herself amused by the antics of her coworkers, while she would typically be the most mentally prepared for month end. However, this was the first time she had actually made a mistake. A mistake large enough to have David pull her aside for questioning.

“Namie, so why did you send this purchase order for $80,000?” “Wait, $80,000? Wasn’t it supposed to be $800? Yeah, for the new furnishings, right?” “Yeah, it was supposed to be $800. Why did you pay 100 times the amount?” He frowned. “Oh SHIT!” The accountant realized her mistake. When she was inputting the invoice, she accidentally put two more zero’s as a result of forgetting to use a period to denote that it was actually $800.00, not $80,000. “Yeah, I’m going to call the company and have them credit us back $79,200. Look, I know you’re probably freaking out, but it’s okay. We make mistakes and learn from them. That’s what working in accounting is like. Don’t get too stressed about it. Month end makes us all turn to jelly.” He chuckled, walking off. But for her, all she could think about was making a mistake. She could have costed the hotel a lot of unnecessary money. $79,200 to be exact. That would be almost twice of her own yearly paycheck. No matter how much David reassured her, she hated the fact that she made the oversight in the first place. It is the little errors that snowball into titanic disasters, which is why she prides herself on being so meticulous.

“It was so embarrassing.” Namie sighed. She was in the cafeteria with Claire. “Look, I know you’re upset that you made a mistake, but David said it himself. It’s no big deal. The company will give you guys back the money anyways. Besides, you know your mistake and you have learned your lesson.” She patted her friend on the back. “But congrats on getting so many matches on Coffee Meets Bagel!” She teased the accountant on the app her father used to lure in so many men. “Thanks. I’m surprised that these guys would even want to talk to me.” She rolled her eyes. “ I mean, dating is fun. And you actually have men to date now, unlike me.” The beauty guru frowned. “But I just heard that Takeru might be leaving the company soon. Which means that there is a vacancy for the Front Office Manager position.” She began. “Oh snap. Do you think you’re going to get the promotion?!” Namie looked at her excitedly. “Most likely, yes. Jeanne already asked me if I am interested and I said yes, so they might be promoting me to a manager soon. Oh, trust me, I can’t wait. This is going to be so badass! Claire Feltault, Front Office Manager. At your service.” She giggled. However, she was admittedly stressed about the notion. While she wanted a promotion, Claire was worried that her lack of maturity and openness about her dating life would cost her the respect of her staff. “I’m pretty sure that Takeru would recommend you if you ask him to. You’ve got this.” Namie beamed, feeling happy for her work friend. “You would deserve the promotion too!”

It was finally Saturday morning, and Namie was wrapping up her practice for the day. “Good job, everyone! So our next showcase will be coming up next year actually! But then again, that’s in a couple months from now, if you really think about it. But anyways, I will be announcing who will be invited to perform soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Class dismissed!” Melissa shouted as the dancers dispersed. “Namie, you have been showing forms that I haven’t even taught you guys yet. What’s your secret?” The instructor eyed the accountant curiously, suspicious that Namie had been going to another studio in secret. “Oh, I have been practicing a lot and watching Koda Kumi’s music videos for references. She’s such a great dancer and uses a lot of waacking in her choreography, so it just clicked with me.” Melissa clapped her hands slowly. “Good choice in artist, first off. Mad respect for that woman. She’s a skinny Asian girl, but she knows how to twerk. Second off, keep up the good work. I can tell you now that you are definitely on the list for the next showcase. I’m impressed.” Melissa congratulated the brunette. “Thank you!” Namie beamed. “Wait, this isn’t just you trolling me, right?” “No. You actually made the list. Every class since the last showcase, you have been showing considerable growth. I would be dumb not to put you on the showcase. Also, have you heard about Caitlin and Georgia?” “No, what about them?” Thinking it over, Namie realized that she had not seen either of them for a while. “Both of them got scouted to become dancers for a very popular singer in America. I can’t disclose the name, but her last name is the size of a drink in Starbucks. And with that, I bid you adieu. Like seriously. I need to take a shit, and talking to you means that I can’t. Get out.” Melissa shooed away the stunned and somewhat disgusted aspiring dancer.

Damn real: chapter 8

Phones were ringing and everyone in the hotel office was tense. It was the worst time of the month for the administrative level, and that was month-end. For Namie, that meant making sure she counted all of the front office and food and beverage employees’ banks and keeping the money in her vault even. “Alright, so counting all of the paid outs that I have already done, with the quotes, that makes me have $80,000 exactly.” She smiled to herself, locking up the large vault behind her. She was able to finalize her bank for the end of the month and it felt incredible. Stretching as she left her office, she smiled to herself. “Good luck, everyone! I’m taking off for the day!” She smiled, waving to her still-stressed coworkers. Her favorite part about leaving work was that she was so close to the Georgetown Waterfront. Before Uber-ing back home, she could take a moment to relax and admire the view of Virginia from across the river. “So many ducks.” She frowned to herself, taking note of the large crowds of brown and green birds polluting the water. “Time to call an Uber, I guess-” Before Namie could click on her app, her phone started ringing. It was her dad. “Ugh.” The accountant fought the temptation to answer the call before deciding to be a decent person. “Hello?” She tried her best to not sound angry, despite the fact that even the mention of her father made her blood boil. “Hi, Namie. So your mother and I have been talking about your marital status, and we both believe-” “I don’t want to get a husband right now, okay? I’m happy with my life and I don’t need to define myself as a person based on who I am dating. Bye.” She hung up the phone, unable to hear another second of her father’s chauvinistic nonsense.

Even though the month itself had ended in terms of the calendar timeline, month-end itself was still a multi-day process. Namie did finish all of her month-end work, but she still needed to follow up with every step that she submitted, making absolutely sure that every report was sent out so that she could put the nightmare that was the month of September. “Another month end, another day.” Namie had sighed to herself. An entire month had passed since the showcase, and she had been practicing every single weekend. One artist in particular really appealed to her, Koda Kumi. She was a J Pop singer and dancer, and Namie had been practicing the choreography from her songs in her free time, since there were a lot of waacking elements in her music videos and live performances. However, the phone calls from her parents, they did not stop. Ranging from her mother crying about Namie potentially not going to heaven to her father yelling at her for making her mother cry, or for adamantly defying his male authority, she could hardly be bothered to care. While yes, the accountant did harbor guilt for making her mother cry, she did not understand what they rationale was behind her needing to get a husband, especially given that she had already relinquished her Mormon beliefs and therefore, did not feel the need to go to heaven or anywhere after she dies. However, her parents did not give up on their convincing. “Did you buy the tickets yet, honey?” Mrs. Merrimen looked at her husband. “Yes, dear. The flight leaves tomorrow afternoon and arrives at night in D.C.” He confirmed.

“Alright, thank you all for coming down to our month-end celebration!” The Human Resources coordinator, Jeanne, smiled as all of the employees made their way down to the staff cafeteria. “So for our Associate of the Month for September, we wanted to award somebody who had been on our team for a little while now, and she had really stepped up in the finance department, being able to close the month effectively and with little to no real trouble. And that person is… drum roll please!” She called as some of the workers began hanging on the lunch room table to effect a drum. “Namie Merrimen, our general cashier! Congratulations, Namie!” The brunette was shocked as Claire sniggered. “Wow! Thank you!” She smiled. In the four years she had been working with The Ritz Carlton, she had never won Associate of the Month, so this was a huge honor for her. “You really captured the Ritz and Marriott spirit.” Jeanne congratulated her, handing her a glass statue with her name carved into it, along with the phrase “Associate of the Month.” It felt surreal. “Well, thank you all so much for nominating me for this. It is a pleasure to work with all of you and I look forward to continuing with that.” She took a bow. “You earned it, Namie!” David smiled at her. “Easily one of the best cashiers we have had in a while. You should be proud of yourself!”

“Cheers!” The three clinked glasses and downed the vodka. Wei, Claire, and Namie were at a club on U street, taking shots to celebrate being done with month-end. This occasion was cheekily dubbed by Claire to be their month-end after party. “Another round, on me.” Wei told the waiter, who walked over to the bar. “This bitch, she’s the real deal. Associate of the Month at the Ritz Carlton? Hells yeah, she deserved it. She earned it!” Claire sluggishly shouted. Despite her showering Namie with praises, because of how loudly she was speaking, it almost sounded as if the front office supervisor was yelling at her. “Thanks!” Namie laughed, taking another shot. After all of the idiocy her parents were putting her through about her dating life, she could really use a lot more alcohol. She did not want to go home sober, that was for certain. “More shots! On me!” Claire squealed as they finished another round of vodka. “Let’s go with some tequila this time!” She told the waiter, who was amused by the three’s semi-drunken antics. “Alright, coming right up.” He walked away again. “Oh, he’s cute. But he definitely looks gay. That’s not the face of a straight man. Why are all of the good men in this world gay or taken?!” Claire cried loudly as the waiter returned with their drinks. “Uh, I don’t think I feel comfortable answering that, ma’am.” He frowned, inching away. “Whatever. Have a good life!” She shouted after him before taking another shot.

The drive home was a blur for Namie. She did not remember anything other than being told that she should Uber home, and telling her Uber driver how to turn into her building because it was a confusing thing to do given that the pavement of the driveway and the sidewalk were painted the exact same color, though she was used to having to explain that, time and time again. Stumbling out of the car, she fumbled around with her purse. She was not seeing double, but rather, quadruple at this point. Definitely way too many shots, but it was a Saturday night, and Namie was proud of herself for taking ownership of her youth. “Namie?!” The half intoxicated brunette looked up to see a girl in her early twenties standing outside of her apartment, disgusted at her behavior. “Emiri?” She blinked, at first thinking she was still seeing things. “Holy shit, I must be so drunk right now, if I am imagining you here.” “You’re not imagining. You are drunk, but I’m real. Our parents told me about what happened and they got me tickets so that I can come over to talk with you. I think you have a problem. Well, other than being a blatant alcoholic.” She fanned the air in front of Namie and pinched her nose. The accountant was too drunk to roll her eyes, but she was definitely annoyed to see Emiri here.

Damn real: chapter 7

“This is it!” Namie squealed to herself at work. “What are you all excited about?” Claire crossed her arms in amusement at the skittish cashier standing in her office. “Melissa’s going to announce who will be in the line-up for the showcase tomorrow. I feel like I’m going to be in it!” She was already thinking ahead to what kinds of routines she could do for this. Melissa had only started doing showcases for the waacking classes, and prior to that, Namie never bothered to actually attend one before, so she only could imagine what the experience must be like to perform in one. “Jesus, if you were this excited about cashiering and accounting, you would already be a Director of Finance, Associate of the Year already.” The front office supervisor rolled her eyes. It was true, though. As good of a job as Namie did being a cashier and accountant, it was not her passion. Numbers were always a strength, but doing the job did not necessarily fulfill the hopeful dancer in the way waacking had. “Either way, congrats on making the showcase. I’m sure you’re going to kill it. What date was it going to be again?” “I think it will be August 31st?” “Oh, so like in a month from now.” Claire noted on the calendar. “Yeah, I just can’t wait, though! I’ve already been putting thought into what kind of song I would perform to, the routine, everything.” She was extremely excited.

“Alright, so I will keep this announcement short and quick, because we have already had such a long practice today anyways.” Melissa called as everyone gathered around her. “So here’s the five performers I’m going to enlist for my end-of-summer showcase.” She placed the list on the wall behind her. “Now go check it out while I step off to the side. I’m too lazy to read it off.” The Chinese girl yawned, walking off. “Congratulations to you all. Blah, blah, blah, there’s no real losers here, only winners. You get that shit.” Almost immediately, everyone ran up to the list to see if they qualified. Scanning through the five names, Namie’s heart dropped. She was not one of the five. “Yeah, I got it!” A girl, Caitlin, smiled. “Same here, girl!” Another girl, Georgia, laughed as the two walked off. “Hey, Melissa, can we talk for a second?” Namie went over to her fatigued instructor. “Yeah, what’s up?” “So last week, you seemed to make it sound like I was going to be in the showcase, but why wasn’t I selected?” The air filled with a queer silence at Namie’s question. “Well, besides you just putting yourself in one of the most awkward positions ever by asking me this, I had to go with seniority. Look, you can dance really well, but you started at my studio a lot later than some of these other guys. Look at Richard. Richard had been dancing under my tutelage for over 5 years. Is he a better dancer than you? Hell to the fucking no. But I need to respect that he’s been putting in the effort.” Despite hearing this explanation, all Namie could comprehend was that she was not chosen and that people who were less qualified than her were. Hearing that, the accountant angrily stormed off. “Next showcase? We’ll see if that’s even a thing for me.” She shouted at Melissa as she slammed the door shut. “Jesus. I need a fucking drink right now.” Melissa sighed, walking to the nearest store to procure some alcohol, despite it only being 11 in the morning.

“Fucking Melissa, not giving me a spot. And letting people like Richard, Caitlin, and Georgia in over me?!” Namie growled, tackling open her apartment door. It was preposterous to her. “What the hell did they do right to deserve being in the showcase over me?!” She shouted into an empty apartment. “I worked so much harder, I put in so much more work, I am so much more talented, and even Melissa said that! Just because of fucking seniority? That’s some serious bullshit!” She jumped into her bed, ignoring the fact that she was still sweaty from dance class and running. “I can’t even deal with this right now.” She rolled around in her sheets. Generally, she was a lot better at being passed up with these kinds of opportunities. She gave up Harvard and Deloitte before. But in those two instances, she was at least given the offer and therefore, the ability to reject them and step away from these possibilities herself. In this case, Melissa outright rejected her. That feeling of being rejected as opposed to doing the rejecting, it genuinely hurt. Especially knowing that she did nothing wrong, except join the studio later than all five of the people who were allowed to showcase over her.

“This is so dumb.” Namie growled, taking a swig straight out of the pinot noir she was supposed to be sharing with Claire and Wei. “Hey! That’s everyone’s wine! Great, now I have to grab a new bottle.” Wei rolled her eyes, rolling off of Claire’s sofa to retrieve another one. The three were having a wine Wednesday because Claire and Namie were both having horrible weeks so far. While Namie was rejected from the showcase, Claire’s issue was that her love life was looking barren, per usual. “He was so intimidated by the fact that I have three million followers on Instagram! Fucking shit, not my problem that he got super scared.” Claire wailed angrily. “You tell him, girl. If he can’t handle being judged by that many people, then that is his problem, not yours. He’s a major pussy. You don’t need that in your life. You’re not even a lesbian!” Wei shouted, clearly having three or four more glasses than she should have had. “I might as well go for women at this rate. All of the men I have been on dates with are either pigs or cowards.” The auburn-haired girl crossed her arms angrily. “Like why the hell did I not get it? She said that I’m more talented.” Namie was still trying to wrap her head around Melissa’s decision to not cast her. “Okay, look, if you feel like you deserved to be there, the best way to go about that, do what I do in the front office. Kill them with kindness. Even when somebody is being a huge DILDO to you, and trust me, there are some huge dildo people out there, just be super nice and they will feel like complete SHIIIIT!” Claire burped as she finished that sentence. “You both have clearly had too much to drink.” Namie shook her head, pulling the alcohol away from Wei and Claire. But what the intoxicated Claire said made perfect sense. Namie needed to be the bigger person, and be supportive of her classmates, no matter how unhappy about the situation she was. Being this brooding and negative, it was not healthy for her in the long run.

It was an admittedly awkward feeling at first. Namie had not seen Melissa since she stormed out of the studio angrily. And now she was going to attend the showcase with Claire and Wei. Sitting in the back of the crowd, the accountant sat nervously, unsure of how to feel about the entire experience. “Don’t worry. You’re here to cheer on your classmates and let them know you have the capacity to admire all of their hard work.” Wei reminded her. “Sh! Guys, the showcase is going to start!” Claire pointed out the dimming lights. The three girls quietly turned to the stage and saw the first act, Caitlin, approach the stage with a couple other dancers. The music started, and she started to move. Namie had never really paid attention to anyone else in her class. But seeing Caitlin’s arms and legs dancing to the beat of the electronic dance music in the background, while she started to come alive on the stage, it was breathtaking. Caitlin was like a bolt of lightning, her movements electrifying as she continued to dance along the stage with her backup dancers. At the end of the performance, she ended doing a flip with the help of the other dancers, and they were met with an immediate applause from the audience. It was incredible.

Georgia was the next performance, as she got onto the stage with two backup dancers. The song that Georgia chose was more reminiscent of an 80’s R&B track, but nonetheless, she was able to capture that funk with her arm movements in particular. Her dancers were mirroring her every motion as she began gliding along the stage, her legs seemingly standing still. Georgia was using just her feet while her arms were drawing the audience’s attention. It was a clever trick, Namie had to admit. The three suddenly started to increase the speed of their movements, as the song quickly changed into an upbeat remix of the same tune. The three started to incorporate leg movements and jumps, as they started to bounce along the stage sporadically, before finishing with, surprisingly enough, a mini pyramid, with Georgia leaning across her backup dancers, who were in mid-pushup position. “Wow, she was this good and I never even noticed.” Namie sighed. This entire experience, sitting through the showcase and watching her classmates, it was eye-opening for her. She never realized how talented these other dancers were until tonight.

The showcase ended with the crowd applauding the dancers, and on their way out, Namie, Wei, and Claire bumped into Melissa, who was seeing everyone off. “Oh, look who’s here. Are you going to tell me how shitty the people I chose over you were?” She raised an eyebrow at her. “On the contrary, I wanted to tell you how amazed I was by all of their performances. I never really noticed how good everyone was until I got to see them perform the way that they did.” Namie admitted. “Look, I know that I was immature and the way I stormed off, it was not professional. But if you are willing to still have me as a student, I promise not to have any more hissy fits, okay? I’m sorry for the way that I acted.” “Apology accepted, Namie. And another thing, for the next showcase, I would love to have you in it. And no, you are not being awarded for throwing a bitch fit and making a scene in the classroom. But rather, you are good and if you do keep up the work, then I will have every reason to justify putting you in there. So do we have a deal? Keep coming to class and working hard, and I will promise you a spot.” “Honestly, I don’t know if I deserve it, given how talented they all were, but I will work hard so that I can one day match their level of talent.” “Sounds perfect. Then I shall see you next week.” Melissa smiled as the three left. Namie was beaming from ear to ear at the notion.

Damn real: chapter 5

Finally arriving at the studio, Namie eagerly made her way to the dance room, where she was with several other aspiring waack dancers. “Good morning, everyone. Glad to see that everyone made it to today’s class.” Melissa walked into the room, eyeing everyone. “Alright, so let’s get the warm-ups aside right now, and then we can get into the forms.” She suggested. As they began doing their stretches, all Namie could think about was what form they would be learning today. Waacking was already an art that was considered “lost” in that it had only survived through few performers. It was an exhilarating feelings being able to learn something this unique from somebody as talented as Melissa. Last weekend, they learned how to do steps while folding their arms behind their heads and backs. The week before that, they were learning how to fold their arms in. “Today, we are going to learn how to incorporate leg movements in with the arms and the hip movements we learned in the first month of class!” Melissa announced. Namie nodded eagerly, racking her brains to recall what they were doing back then. She remembered doing the technique that involved thrusting with her arms and hips, as well as when they were practicing moving their arms along their entire bodies. “Okay, just follow me.” With a click of a remote, the radio turned on, as Melissa began demonstrating. “1, 2, 3, and 4!” She counted, moving her arms while taking steps at the same time. “Let’s do that first. And we’ll keep doing it until we get faster.’ She decided on the spot. Everyone began to shortly copy.

“Good job, everyone!” Melissa clapped her hands as the waack class ended. “And also, before you all go, just a reminder. We will be having our dance showcase in a few months. Only the best dancers will be chosen to perform, so try your best and keep up the good work in the following classes! And if you’re wondering why you should want to be involved in it, just keep in mind that some of the biggest mainstream artists and producers actually recruit dancers from my studio. They will be attending the showcase, that much, I can guarantee you. That being said, good job, and I will see you all next week.” The instructor adjourned the class. Everyone got up and started to leave the studio. “Namie, you did wonderful, per usual. I can’t wait to see how much more you improve in the following months.” Melissa grinned suggestively. “Thanks. I’ll keep trying my best!” Upon hearing her compliment, Namie was hoping that she could be in Melissa’s showcase. To think that she might have an opportunity to dance full-time, and to leave behind her career in accounting, it felt surreal. But being able to do something she was good at and loved would be a definite improvement over just doing something that she simply was doing to give herself a sense of monetary worth beyond her almost million dollar, self-made fortune in stocks, or that she was going to be more than just somebody’s wife.

“Wait, you mean she’s not still in Utah?!” Mr. Merrimen was fuming red. Just one week ago, his eldest daughter, Namie, graduated BYU, and this whole time, he was under the impression that she was still there, packing up her things. But that was not the case. She apparently moved to Maryland just a day after her graduation and had been living there, with Yuko’s brother, this whole time. “Yes, dear. She just moved into her apartment in D.C. earlier this morning.” Yuko reminded her husband. She told him how she let Namie decide her own life choices and be her own person. However, all Mr. Merrimen could think about was how betrayed he felt by both his oldest daughter and his wife. “I promise you, she’ll come around to. Just give her time.” She tried to calm him down. “Don’t you even dare talk to me about this. You’re the one responsible for ruining our daughter’s future. She’s never going to get a husband now.” “Dear, why does it matter if she has a husband?” “She’s not going to stay young and attractive forever. I refuse to let her purity wither with old age. What sensible Mormon young man is going to want to marry an old bag?” He glared daggers at her when he said that. “She’s never going to heaven if she never has a husband who will let her!” Yuko rolled her eyes at him as she left the living room angrily. He was not listening to her, but what could she do about it? He was the man she married for the green card, and that was the religion she married into.

A much younger Namie was unpacking her few belongings into the apartment when she received a phone call. “Oh shit, it’s dad.” She sighed, as she put down a small cardboard box. Albeit nervously, she picked up her phone. “Hello?” “Why are you not in Utah or back in Idaho?” His almost hushed tone was filled with a deep-seated furiousness that just made Namie uncomfortable. “I’m going to live my own life. If you want to stop me, you can try. But even mom doesn’t know which building I live in, nor am I going to tell her what kind of job I’m working in. So you better just give it up, dad.” She replied, trying her best to fight the urge to just submit to his desires and return to Idaho with her tail between her legs, head bowed in shame. “Why you little-! Don’t you dare talk to a man in that tone!” He barked, his voice ringing in Namie’s ear as she pulled the phone away from her head. “You’re going to fail and when you do, you’ll realize how much better your life would be back in Idaho! I’ll be waiting for you to come back home!” He growled. “Wait all you want. I’ll never come back.” And with that, she hung up her phone. It did not matter to her, what he said. She had committed to moving to D.C. at this point. She signed her lease. And on top of that, she was now more determined than ever to make a career for herself out here in the greater D.C. area.

“Dear, I know you’re mad, but she will come around eventually. She’s young. Let her make her own decisions. I did, and that’s how I met you, right?” Yuko pointed out to her husband. “That’s true. But I needed to give you a little push so that we could get married after our first date. I need to make sure that she has a husband. Even if he’s all the way out there.” Walking out of their bedroom and into the living room, he pulled out his phone. “What kinds of dating apps can I use here?” He pondered aloud as he started looking through them. He was determined to find her a husband, preferably a Mormon husband, or at least somebody willing to convert, and force her to move back to Idaho or Utah with him. However, that was years ago. Mr. Merrimen did not go through with his plans, and he did accept that Namie was going to come around eventually. However, he did not stop pressuring her to find a husband. He wanted to make sure that his little girl would not go to hell because she dyed unwed or a sodomist. He was going to be damned if even one of his daughters ended up in hell because of youthful impulse. Many times had Yuko needed to talk him out of flying over to D.C. and tracking her down himself. It was hard to see his daughter doing something that could jeopardize her entry into heaven and not do anything about it. But he knew that being physically forceful would only drive her away completely. So for the time being, he stuck to weekly phone calls, reminding her to get a husband.

Damn real: chapter 4

“So what are you planning to do now that you’ve graduated?” It was Namie’s graduation ceremony, and she was approached by her Accounting Information Systems professor, an elderly man named Dr. Hale. “I think I want to become a CPA.” Namie smiled. “Oh, no, she’s not. She’s going to get married to my friend’s son.” Mr. Merrimen interrupted as he walked up to the two. “Dad, I’m not getting married and becoming a housewife. What part of that can’t you understand?!” Namie frowned angrily. “You’re going to be a housewife because I want to be a grandfather before Emiri goes to college.” He growled. “Excuse us as we talk in private, Dr. Hale.” Namie grabbed her father and walked away. “You’re making a scene in my graduation.” She was furious at this point. Years and years of being told by her father that she was going to be a great mother one day, it was frustrating. He completely disregarded her credentials. Throughout high school, Namie had done exceptionally well. She even got into Harvard as an Applied Mathematics major, but was forced to reject it because her father told her she needed to enroll in BYU or else he would cut her off financially. And even when she was valedictorian for BYU’s School of Accountancy, and was offered a job at Deloitte in  as a junior accountant, Namie could not take the offer because it was in California, and her father did not want her to leave the area. However, this was the last straw. She refused to be humiliated like this any further. “Honey, the dean wants to talk to you.” Mrs. Merrimen, sensing the rising tension, walked over and broke up their argument. “Alright, fine.” Mr. Merrimen frowned as he stormed off to talk with the dean. “Here, dear.” Mrs. Merrimen slipped her daughter an envelope. “What’s this?”

Mrs. Merrimen paused before giving her daughter a truthfully apologetic look. “I know you already rejected your offer from Deloitte, and I knew that something like this would happen. So I took the time to buy this for you.” “What is it?” “Your ticket out of here. It’s a plane ticket. I want you to go and live with my brother” “Huh?!” Namie was surprised. Her mom hardly ever spoke about her family. “I just got back in touch with him, because our mother died.” This was all news to Namie. She did not even know what her other grandmother was like. “And then I heard you rejected Deloitte, so I only knew it would have been a manner of time before this had happened and you wanted out of this lifestyle. I know you are a smart girl, sweetie. You worked two jobs in college, and made a mini fortune for yourself with your stock investments. You don’t need to stay here with us. I want you to go far, far away from here, and be happy. So go, and live with my brother and his family in Maryland for a little bit. You deserve a change in scenery.” She smiled at her daughter. She did not want her to give up everything, just like how she did, just to make a man happy. “Mom! Thank you so much.” Namie hugged her mother as she hid the envelope quickly in her robes. “Dear, if I may, I have a suggestion.” “What’s that?” “Go back your things quickly. Your flight is tonight, so you need to head over to the airport as soon as you can. Live in the D.C. area, away from your father for a little bit. That’ll help you grow up and be the independent woman you want to be.” She smiled. “Thanks, mom. I won’t forget this.” Namie whispered. She was touched by her mother’s sudden need to be supportive of her dreams. “I had to bite my tongue when you were forced to turn down Harvard. I could not do anything when you were forced to turn down Deloitte. I am not going to stand here and watch my smart, talented daughter turn away another opportunity.”

“Hello?” Namie knocked the door of the house skittishly. She had never even met her mother’s side of the family before. They were never brought up, so Namie and Emiri just assumed they had all died or something. “Hello.” A tall Asian man opened the door. “Namie Merrimen, is that you?!” His eyes widened in surprise. “Uh, yes? Are you Juntaro Ishigo?” “I haven’t seen you since you were a little kid! Yuko, your mother, she’d sent me pictures of you as a baby a long, long time ago. But wait, it’s pretty late.’ Juntaro noted the dark skies hanging over his Maryland house. “Come in. Your aunt and cousin are actually setting up dinner right now.” Namie cautiously stepped into the house, unsure of how to feel about the entire situation. Her aunt? Her cousin? This is all still so new to her. “Hi! Welcome to our home!” A slim, attractive Asian woman greeted her as the college graduate entered a decent sized dining room. “You must be Namie! Oh, you’re so gorgeous. I’m your aunt, Xiaohua!” Xiaohua? Namie thought to herself. The woman in front of her had a very…not-Japanese-sounding name. “Oh, you must not have heard much about us. Well, your uncle, Juntaro, he is your mother’s younger brother. And he moved to Taiwan for work, where we met. We actually have a daughter that’s really close to your age. Wei! Come out of the kitchen and say hi to your cousin!” She called. “Okay, mom!” Another incredibly attractive Asian girl, around her early 20s, walked into the room, holding a large pot of stew. Quickly, she placed it down before giving Namie a huge hug. “Oh, I’m so glad to have finally met you! I’m Wei, your cousin!” While Namie was used to getting a warm reception from her own family, that is, when her father was not pressuring her into getting married, it was almost strange to receive that same treatment from these three, essentially, strangers. However, it felt nice. She was gracious to know that there were three people that she could trust moving into a completely new environment.

Despite her warm reception, Namie only stayed with her uncle, aunt, and Wei for a week before settling in Sky House by the Waterfront. And shortly after, Wei also moved out to the Georgetown area, just to be closer to her recording studio. Occasionally, the two girls would go back to Maryland for visits, and also became close ever since. Wei, being an only child, was grateful for having a sister-type figure in Namie, while Namie was used to being a sister, being an older sister to Emiri anyways. Namie struggled to find a job, however. It was hard for her to get employed initially. Even though her stock investments were financially sustaining her, she still wanted to work. She personally believed in working hard, and not just sitting idly, doing nothing. That competitive edge is what helped her achieve so much in her life already. In her eyes, going through what she had and knowing how accomplished she could have been, it set off a fire in her belly. She wanted to make a name for herself and prove to her father that she can be much, much more than just a housewife. Shuddering to herself as she logged onto LinkedIn, she began her job search, sending out resume after resume and filling out different applications. “No, for the last bloody time, I’m not a protected veteran!” She growled, submitting what felt like the 50th online application. “Oh, crap. I think I sent in the wrong cover letter.” She frowned, slamming her laptop shut. It was getting really late at this point, and she decided to call it a day.

However, she did get a callback. A hotel, the Ritz Carlton, had reached out to her for an interview. She applied to be a General Cashier, and after several rounds of interviewing, and admitting that she has no hotel experience, was lucky enough to land the position. She was being paid $20/hour to count money. While it was not terribly glamorous, it was the first offer she received, and Namie decided to commit to it, rather than wait for anything else. While adjusting to working in a hotel environment was hard at first, she slowly came around to it. She interacted with her co-workers a lot more, and eventually met Claire, who had been a recent hire for the front desk. The two bonded over the fact that they were close in age, both had Boo the Pomeranian backgrounds on their phones, with Lilly Pulitzer phone cases, and enjoyed buying their make-up from Sephora. It was an immediate friendship. While she only had two friends, being Wei and Claire, Namie was starting to enjoy her independence from her parents.

Damn real: chapter 3

“So who are you?” It was a few months ago, and a slightly younger Namie timidly walked into the dance studio with Claire. They were walking into the studio mid-session while Melissa was standing in the back of the room, teaching her class. “We’re here for dance lessons.” Claire stated. “Well, you’re either late or early. I’m in the middle of teaching these middle schoolers ballet, so I’m assuming you’re here for the next lesson, which is waacking?” The dance instructor referred to the crowd of 12 year-old girls who were clad in tutus. “Oh, shit. Well, we’re sorry. We can just watch as you finish up.” Claire shied away, dragging Namie with her so that the two could just sit in the back of the room. “Smart choice.” Melissa rolled her eyes, as she returned to tending after her class. “Geez, she’s a bit… snappy.” Claire frowned, crossing her arms unhappily. “Says the pot to the kettle?” Namie laughed. “Oh, shut the hell up. You’ve never had to work a night shift in your fucking life. You’d be just as moody if you had to work back to back shifts. It sucks.” “This isn’t about Melissa, isn’t it?” The half Japanese accountant raised an eyebrow at her friend. “No. It’s fucking Johan. Scheduling me like that repeatedly. It’s like he just wants to me to blow up at him and get fired or something.” Claire was referring to the front office supervisor at the time, who went on to be fired after the entire front office went on strike from being fed up with his inability to treat them with the decency of a human being. “I’m sure he’ll get his comeuppance. He clearly is in over his head. Liam wants him to go too.” Namie reassured the beauty guru. “Alright, thank you all for coming in this week. I expect to see you guys next week, practicing the form we went over.” Melissa shouted, startling both girls.

“Welcome to introductory tap dancing for adults. I am your instructor, Melissa, and I will try my best to make you all expert tap dancers by the end of the week.” “Ugh, I swear, Liam just wants us to suffer.” Claire whispered to Namie. Cardio was her least favorite thing to do. “So why are you guys here?” She looked at the relatively full room of young adults. “Well, we’re here because our friend and co-worker, Liam, told us about you.” Claire revealed. Liam recommended for the two to try out tap dancing as a fun way to relieve stress, and sent them to Melissa’s studio because he was friends with her. “Oh, you two work with Liam Peters?” Melissa’s eyes widened. “Yeah?” “He’s…horrible in bed. I swear to god, I can’t even believe I lost my virginity to him. Well, my butt virginity anyways. Oh. Wait. We can save that conversation for later.” The instructor realized that she horrified the entire class with her incomplete anecdote. “But anyways, next person, please!” A young man with short brown hair, a sharp nose, and high cheek bones stepped forward. “My name is Niall, and I have a passion for the performing arts. I love to play violin, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to learn tap dancing too.” He shrugged. “He’s cute.” Claire giggled, admiring his features. “He’s probably gay.” Namie crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. “Well, good sir, if you ever want to take my vag-inity, feel free to let me know.” Melissa offered, much to everyone’s disgust. “Oh, shut the fuck up! I’m going to teach you all how to be amazing dancers! You’re all in my fucking domain right now! Bear with me and all of me!” She shouted in anger. “Well, I don’t think my girlfriend would appreciate that, but I’ll definitely keep that in mind.” Niall chuckled. “So he’s not gay.” Claire laughed. “Totally a cover up.” Namie frowned.

“Now that we’ve got warm-ups out of the way, let’s start.” Melissa got up. They had finished introductions and their leg and arm warm-ups and were moving on to the actual dancing exercises. “So to start, we want you guys to just relax. I’m going to play the music, and demonstrate how to follow the rhythm with your feet and your hands.” She pulled out a remote control and turned on the stereo. “One, and two, and three, and four.” She demonstrated, tapping her feet against the ground while also buckling her knees to the beat. “This is stupid.” Claire rolled her eyes. Namie, however, was soaking everything in and mimicking Melissa perfectly. For her, there was something about counting the steps, motions, and beats, that really resonated with her as an accountant. “Everyone, look at Namie. She’s doing it perfectly. You go, girlfriend!” Melissa shouted before going back to demonstrating the exercise. The half-Japanese accountant could not help but smile as she continued to following. “Hey, don’t smile unless the routine calls for it! Breaking character like that will get you in a lot of shit if you were performing. Keep the mood of the music and artist in mind. It is fucking Drake right now. You’re supposed to be serious or indifferent at best!” Melissa frowned. Immediately, Namie replaced her grin with a look of general disinterest, much to the amusement and satisfaction of her overzealous dance instructor.

After their dance class, Claire laid sprawled on the floor, completely exhausted. Namie, on the other hand, was a little sweaty, but not nearly as fatigued. There was something about moving to the music that really resonated with her. “Hey, you.” Melissa walked up to Namie as the half-Japanese girl looked horrified. “Oh, hell no. You are not going to tell me about how you had butt sex with my co-worker. I can’t un-picture it.” Namie held up her hands as she tried to back away. “Oh, Jesus fucking christ, grow up. It’s the adult class. We’re adults who do adult things. Get over it.” Melissa rolled her eyes. “But that’s not why I’m here to talk to you. I already said most of what you guys needed to hear about Liam. Just don’t have sex with him unless you want to lie there like a plank-” “You’re doing it. You’re talking about it!” Claire groaned from the ground. “Oh, shut up. But yeah, Namie, was it?” Melissa looked at her. “Yeah?” “You’re a natural at this. I actually have been holding an exclusive class for exceptionally talented dancers, but it’s on Saturday mornings instead of Sunday afternoons. It’s for a very rare style, waacking. I would like to extend my offer to you for attending my classes.” Melissa offered. “Oh, but only if Claire can do it with me.” Namie tried to bargain. “Claire? She can’t even handle introductory tap dancing. I doubt she can handle the waacking classes.” “Namie, you should just go for it. She’s right. Dancing is so not for me…. I’m going to kill Liam for this.” The front desk worker growled angrily as she tried to get up from the floor, but to no avail. Her legs were too sore. “So what do you say? You have natural talent and I want to teach you something that I’ve learned from my experiences as a back-up dancer for singers around the world. I can open up the world of dancing to you in ways that you can’t even imagine.” Melissa looked at her. “Okay. I’ll take you up on that. Dancing with you in that lesson, it was fun. I want to continue.” Namie decided. “Teach me how to be a waack dancer.”

under the cherry blossoms: dream

It might just be because I have watched too many Japanese dramas, but I want to watch cherry blossoms bloom in Japan. Seeing the skies flood with these beautiful pink flowers is a sight to behold and it symbolizes so many different things: new life, a new year, and new opportunities.

When I started Featherlight, it was meant for me to better understand myself post suicide attempt. I used writing to help me cope with so many different kinds of pains and losses inflicted upon me by people who quite frankly were a waste of my time. But this post is not going to focus on that sort of negativity. I made my one jab and I’m moving on from that. I’m here to talk about cherry blossoms and new dreams.

In an ideal world, we can wake up every morning with a big, bright smile on our faces. There would be no need for negativity or bringing others down. When problems arise, we would simply face them and not make bigger deals out of them: situations would never escalate. Life would be simple but pleasant. With the bloom of this year’s cherry blossoms, I can finally say that I see the ugly side to ambition. The stress of taking on too much, it drives us mad with insecurity, exhaustion, and stress. We rub it in to others that we are doing more, as a facade masking how pained or shaken we really are. We are human beings, not robots. Trying to do so much may look good on paper, but it drives away a good portion of our humanity. It wears on our stamina and it makes us unpleasant to be around for a plethora of reasons, namely that we create insecurity and uneasiness with such reckless or bashful behavior.

I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they are not good enough. We all have the privilege of living life, and nobody should ever tell you that you are not good enough or make you feel insignificant in this world. You have been given an inherent purpose by being born a living, sentient being. Use that sentience and allow it to guide you to where you want to go. Don’t be worried if you’re not getting there as quickly as the person next to you. With enough dedication at a pace that befits you, you will arrive at your destination. For me, that is in Japan, owning a bakery, and being able to watch the cherry blossoms every spring. Even if it takes me until the age of 100, so long as I can get there before death, that is all I ask.