Blame

I’ve been thinking about the events of this past Monday a good amount. It occupies my thoughts a bit more than I would like it to, and to be quite frank, it scares the shit out of me.

What would have happened if I hadn’t crashed crew practice last Thursday and seen Sarah at breakfast? What if I hadn’t asked if she was okay? What if I hadn’t answered her Facebook messages or invited her over to watch The Walking Dead?

What if she hadn’t told me she had taken all those sleeping pills?

She would have died on my living room floor.

I’m trying my hardest to keep a level head, but my heart burns with anger when I think about what happened to Sarah.

I blame the women’s crew team.

Crew is a sport that requires each person to be in tune with his or her teammates. It’s no surprise that my boat and I were always together, even after we quit. You have to feel each other’s movements, keep in time with one another, and know what will motivate everyone to push hard to get across the finish line. There’s a special bond that is made among the rowers of a racing shell.

It’s very apparent when one person doesn’t fit. In most cases, he or she is pushed out of the boat regardless of skill level. Last season I had one cocky bastard play with the zen of my boat. Instead of drowning his ass in the Baltimore harbor, I took him to breakfast, shot the shit with him, and fed his under-aged ass a fuckton of booze. Bonds were made, oaths of fealty uttered, and our ancestors were surely proud of us. There’s a reason why the campus refers to us as a cult.

The women’s boats were a different fucking story. They were clique-y. They didn’t help their struggling boatmates improve. They ostracized the less-skilled at team family breakfast. Even my coach expressed her concern to me after she blew up on my ass and pretty much called me a misogynist.

I had two from the women’s boats come to me for help after they replaced a couple of my flu-ridden water beasts for a practice. They said they felt part of the team, like people enjoyed their company. They sat with me and the men’s boats at breakfast after that.

Sarah was one of the two girls who expressed their gratitude that day.

Now I can’t blame the women’s side of the team for what happened to Sarah entirely, but I think if they had given two shits about her, they would have fucking noticed something was up. How the hell did I, someone who had minimal contact with her and had quit the team this season, notice she was struggling?

They didn’t notice because they didn’t care. 

They should have been looking out for her. They should have at least talked to her for a little while so she didn’t feel so god damned alone. Fuck everyone on that shitty, godforsaken team that turned a blind eye to someone so kind and caring. Shame on them.

A few people have asked me why I left the team.

This is my reason.

My Ian

I just found out one of my friends died almost a year ago.

I was looking through the contacts on my phone and decided to shoot him a message. The last time we spoke, he wasn’t in a good place. The message failed to send.

I looked at his Facebook page. It hadn’t been updated in a very long while. And then I searched his name.

Ian [redacted]. Passed away July 5, 2015.

He was a user and went to rehab for it. He sent me a letter while he was there, with his messy mechanical engineer’s, all-caps scrawl.

When I was assaulted on campus, I cried and cried on the phone with him. He said he knew people from his bad ol’ days who could easily make the guy go away. He would’ve killed for me. Friends like that are a rarity few ever come across.

I feel an immense and terrible guilt on my shoulders. I remember messaging him a year ago with no reply. I asked if he was mad at me. No response.

alrighty then…

bye, Ian.

I unfriended him on Facebook, and I never really gave him a second thought. That was May of 2015.

I never e-mailed him or sent him letters.

I should have.

I should have tried harder to reach out instead of writing him off. He must have been in so much pain.

I’m so sorry, Ian.

I love you.

Batten Down the Hatches

Something bad is coming.

A foul thing is on the wind, and I don’t know what it is.

I miss my grandmother. She could read these things, give them form, and send warning. Most of the time she’d just let things be (Buddhist monks and they’re pacifist ways, I guess).

This feels like… like something irreparable may happen. A damnation, worse than death.

I’ve told Alex and Abe to watch themselves.

I’m scared.


I wrote that yesterday.

I had a vision or something just now. I know it sounds fucking crazy as shit, but it happens from time to time.

I felt Michael hurting and then he was gone. I don’t know how to explain it. But it was bad. I felt something similar when Grampa died. It was frightening and I deeply regret not calling him when I had the chance.

I’m scared. I want to tell him to be careful, but I don’t want to sound like a lunatic or break his wish for space.

I hope I’m just going off the deep end or something. I don’t want him to be hurt.

Just please, please, please be okay.


Update:

My father called this morning. I told him what I saw and felt; I know he’s had similar experiences.

I felt him leaving. It was so bad and awful.

There isn’t much you can do, Koog. When I get that feeling, I just tell the person to be careful. Tell him to take care of himself and then try to brush it off.

I keep staring at Michael’s GChat icon. I want to click it and say, “Be careful today. Watch your six, and take care of yourself.”

I can’t do it for some reason.

Secret Aunt

When I was a youngin’ my parents had to slave away to keep us all fed and clothed. We qualified for welfare but my parents’ senses of pride tongue the fine line between dignity and hubris. Sad to say I eventually found out how good welfare cheese tastes, but my belly was full.

Anyway, 엄마 and Pops were out of the house a good part of the working day and since I was so young and we couldn’t afford a caretaker of some sort, that meant Dennis was in charge. He made weird-tasting food just to see if I’d eat it cooked, he cleaned, and he made sure I didn’t die. Unfortunately, Dennis was at that age when it wasn’t cool to have a kid sister skipping along after you. I don’t blame him for thinking I was a pain in the ass because I was. I cried, I ate dirt, and I seemed to ALWAYS have to pee. How did he not leave me in an orphanage? He’s the real MVP.

It got to the point when Dennis would turn on the television and leave me at home by myself. He told me not to tell, and I didn’t… until there was a fucking Huckleberry Hound marathon on Cartoon Network and I blew a gasket. If people wonder why I’m weird, it’s because I got my brain melted by listening to a blue dog shittily sing “Oh My Darlin'” for about three hours straight. HOW CAN YOU EVEN MAKE THREE HOURS’ WORTH OF HUCKLEBERRY HOUND EPISODES?!?! 엄마 came home from work, she said “Jeshka, what you do today while Mommy away?” and I said “I HAD TO STAY HOME WATCHING A DUMB DOG SING BAD SONGS ON TV WHILE DENNIS WAS AT TIM’S HOUSE!” And then she blew a gasket. Ass whoopin’s were handed out, there was lots of crying, we had an awkward, silent dinner. Then my parents sat us all down in the living room, and my mother told us a story.

My mom had a lot of siblings growing up; she was one of seven, third oldest. She had to take care of the younger ones since her mother and father were often busy. This sounds familiar. Her two older sisters shirked their duties as caretakers, so my mother shouldered the responsibilities of taking care of the fourth child (I don’t think the youngest three had been born; perhaps a couple were infants.) My grandmother would yell, “Chong Yon! Take your little sister with you!” and my mother would grudgingly oblige. Wow, this story REALLY sounds familiar.

One day 엄마 decided to go to her friend’s house to play, little sister in tow. They arrived, and my mom’s friends said they wanted to play with sand and that she should fetch a pail of it. She left her sister with her friends and went to bring back some sand. While 엄마 was away her friends began to chide her sister. “We want to play with Chong Yon, not you.” “Why do you bother Chong Yon so much?” “Go away!”

My mother came back with the sand but her sister wasn’t there. “We told her to go home,” they said.

On her way home, my mother’s kid sister had been hit by a car. She died on impact. She died thinking her older sister didn’t want to play with her. She died thinking her sister didn’t want her around.

Dennis never left me at home again, and I’ve never watched an episode of Huckleberry Hound since.