Thursday, May 28, 2015

Memoir Outtake: Never Underestimate the Healing Power of a Super Soaker

Mariana and I sipped stiff cuba libres in our parents’ backyard. We stood beneath the patio roof as my brother-in-law, Rick, and my dad prepared the grill with lighter fluid and charcoal. The first drink I slurped down produced an immediate giddying effect. I’d slept for shit the night before which is why I thirsted for that caffeine-liquor kick. At some point, while we flashed the gab, Rick mentioned these Super Soakers he had in their car trunk. He bought them to shoot around with his four-year old nephew. He typically left the water guns in their garage but he figured I might want to have a showdown with him on a hot, summer afternoon in Fremont.

I said hell yeah.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Memoir Outtake: Beatling

Lafayette/Moraga Regional Trail
Here’s a transition I excised from a chapter titled “Made Me Nuclear.” This cut comes between a perilous nighttime bike ride I took on St. Mary’s Road without my front bike light and Charlie Lustman’s amazing musical, Made Me Nuclear, in San Pancho. This is the extended version with 302 words I later pared down to 180 words, which I ultimately cut (boohoohoo!):

Once I made it onto the flat part of the trail, whose fissures and bumps I was familiar with, I turned my iPod on. I rang my bicycle bell a couple of times and made a tooting sound while I scrolled through my songs. A righteous Beatles tune to sing along to was needed. I picked one of my all-time Lennon faves, “I Am the Walrus.” I had memorized the song since I was seventeen when I became enamored with John. (Lennon was one of my first heroes. For his songwriting genius; the fearlessness he demonstrated in playing from his heart no matter how vulnerable or dark his emotions were; his open-mindedness; his wit; his self-deprecating sarcasm; and his belief that celebrities should utilize their power for what he believed were righteous causes.) I sang aloud to the song. I went to these noise-making lengths because that part of the trail had deer. They hid amidst the thicket of bushes, behind the trees that lined the path. During the previous school year, I rode the trail one night and nearly hit a deer that darted in front of me. Since then, as a precautionary step that happened to be joyous for me (though assuredly abominable to hear if anyone were around), I often sung aloud while I cycled through those deer-populated areas. That way, they knew I was there and wouldn’t freak out and jump in front of me once they saw my shrouded figure and the curious white light on my steering handle as I hurtled down the path like a glowing phantasm. (This strategy seemed to work because I never had another deer-in-bicycle-headlight encounter.)

And so, I goo goo g’joobed and hello-goodbyed my way onto the residential streets of Lafayette, beatling away. I made it to the station on time.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Beings - My 25 Favorite Animals

Photo by rasputina2
From an early age I have always had deep affection and fascination for all the animals we share this world with. When I was in grade school my mom would take me and my sister to the Irvington Library to load up on books and video cassettes to nourish us. I used to gingerly walk out of the library with a stack of books and tapes tucked beneath my chin. Back then, I almost exclusively read books about dinosaurs, Ancient Egyptians, and animals—especially sharks and predatory animals like hawks and snakes. Over time—though my parents didn’t believe me—I read all the animal books from that tiny library that interested me. My earliest career aspirations included becoming a zoo veterinarian, marine biologist, or archaeologist.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Memoir Outtake: Cycling through the Shitstorm

Here's the first of my memoir outtakes I am going to post on this blog. Like deleted film scenes, I thought it’d be fun to show what didn’t make the cut. Hope you enjoy this outtake from a chapter now titled "The Freak Show":

During our therapy sessions, I used a lot of analogies to explain myself to Akhila, the attractive woman with curly brown hair whom I had chosen as my therapist. For example, one day I tore out of my home on Dolores Street to make it to our evening session on time. I had less than fifteen minutes to cycle to their office in Hayes Valley, which was almost two miles away. A few minutes into my ride, it began to hail. Bicyclists were pulling off of Valencia Street, ducking beneath awnings, huddling in doorways with other pedestrians who stared out to the street. The pavement was doting with pebbles of hail. They thunked off my helmet. A few of them hurt as they panged off my knuckles even though I was wearing cycling gloves. Shit, I said, waiting at a red light as I got pelted from the icy mini-meteor shower. Once the signal turned green, I squinted and lowered my head to protect my eyes. I pedaled on.

Cold and sweaty with pieces of hail lodged into my sweater, I stepped into Akhila’s private study. I closed the door behind me. With a smirk, I wiped the sweat on my forehead with a hand towel.

“Sorry I’m late. I got caught in that hailstorm,” I said, nodding toward the window.

I dropped my shoulder bag and helmet beside my chair. I took a seat opposite Akhila, then stared out the window at the dark gray sky. The hailstorm had passed. I couldn’t stop grinning. Akhila watched me with a curious grin. Perhaps she sensed all the energy bouncing inside me like billiard balls after a thundering break. I felt like I could run for miles.

I chortled.

“That’s how the past year of my life has been,” I said, placing the hand towel on my lap as I tried to reign myself in. I explained that it was my first ride in the hail, that other cyclists pulled off the road. I brought up chemotherapy. “If I wanted to live, I had no choice but to just lower my head and keep going and going through that shitstorm, just like the bike ride I had now.”

I held my head high like a boy who just completed his first multiplication table. I was pleased with myself—how simple yet perfect the analogy was. Akhila nodded as though she was saying “Right on.”