It was 1998, the Year of the Tiger, and I felt like prey.
Band nerd, speech and debate, theatre, chess club, choir, and math/science club were just the beginnings of what would be an overall horrific successful high school career.
Backpack in tow, my best friend and I navigated past pubescent uncertainty and headlong into outright confusion of adolescence.
I was lucky, looking back, to have moved from Colorado a couple years prior, to wind up in a school that celebrated hard work and work ethic, that trusted the students to build their own educational experience and strive to perfect it.
Things changed in April 1999.
April 20th to be exact.
In one fell swoop, two high schoolers changed the course of educational safety. They brought up questions like "What does it mean to create a safe space?" and "What rights do students have in their environments?" and "What are the legal ramifications of protection?".
Once that sun sets, the stars come out, and the Englishmen
get quiet. The wind makes the sails swell a gentle cascading rhythm with the
waves. During the night, I am well. I am free.
"Up, apes," the monstrosity of a man shouts from
the top of the stairs. I have not revealed that I speak and understand English.
English was mandatory in my home. "No, son," my
father would correct. "It is pronounced Free-dum. Write it out, f-r-e-e-d-o-m."
He would smile at me while his gentle hands guided my clumsy fingers. "We
will leave our home, Chichi," he would whisper. "We will leave, and -
make sure your 'o' closes at the top - and you will see the land of plenty.
There will be grain and milk, and you will be full."
The last light of dawn fell to the contours of his face and
made laurels of his greying temples. "I will be there with you, Chichi.
Now, pronounce it like Dr. Wellesly."
We would sit in the dark corner of our home, l…
MARS, GOD OF WAR
Upon the bristling waves of the sun's gracious heat, our children will search in silence unending.
ANIMALS DO NOT PANIC
As the midnight cloud rode on the warm ocean currents, the orca bit at the shark, ready for more.
I. Grandpa stood by, cigarette burning to the cotton, because he liked to roll his own and his doctor knew he would never quit so he at least conceded cotton, watching as I threw the two- by- four to the ground, shouting obscenities like the ones he taught me because my parents never would, and kicking the dirt until the dirt even grew angry at my insistence.
When I asked him why he was so calm knowing that I would never finish my 4H project, he said, "Measure twice. Cut once."
II. My car stalled on the highway on my way to financial peace. My eyes spread along the details work, the last of my pennies in an effort to console myself against the aging dollar bills in my pocket, and I balled up my fists. I was too old to kick and scream and spit, …