We Want to Quit, Piano!

I had one arch-nemesis as a child. This shadowy figure would umbrella down to our home under an ominous cloud of disappointment with a never ending regimen of practice and lessons.

I had one arch-nemesis as a child.  This shadowy figure would umbrella down to our home under an ominous cloud of disappointment with a never ending regimen of practice and lessons.

Once a week, there’d be a tapping, suddenly there came a rapping,
As for entrance she must be asking, “Holy crap!  Hide!  Mrs. Lee is here!”

Mrs. Lee was my piano teacher and admirable adversary.  She was a young mother with a soft and elegant face, often dressed in a warm smile.  I would have probably had a strong infatuation if her heart wasn’t blackened with the joys of music.  My spine still shudders at the haunting sounds of Für Elise.

She was hired by my mom to assassinate my love for quiet leisure.  Every Wednesday, Mrs. Lee sat me in front of a piano and bludgeoned me with encouragement, patience, and creativity.  It was sick how she almost imbued me with self-esteem.  I countered using all the stupidity my clumsy fingers could muster to stave off developing into a sexy male adult.  She was no match for my apathetic coordination.

Five years of piano lessons and I never graduated beyond playing Chopsticks.  Both of my sisters advanced by leaps and bounds.  But, they found no pleasure adding music to their charm and grace.  My sisters yearned to have my absence of mind.  If I was learning nothing, it was only fair they abstained from being talented as well.

One night, the three of us had a sibling huddle to discuss our grievances.  This was the dawn of our emancipation proclamation.  For the first and only time, we cast aside our begrudging differences as the wise eldest, the tenacious high-achieving middle, and the boy.  An impassioned protest was to be held before the last minutes of inevitable bedtime.  Nothing could prepare my mom for the forthcoming barrels of uninspired youth.  With our sibling quarrels on pause, we had finally assembled…to avenge…in 3-D…tesseract.

We armored up with fresh underwear helmets and strapped pillows to our chests.  On glorious poster boards and restless colored construction paper, we painted our messages of dissonance.  Now came the final measure.

We revolted.  My eldest sister lead the charge.  She front-kicked the master bedroom door and we flooded toward the foot of my mother’s regal mattress.  Emboldened by the adrenaline of overthrowing the iron fist of the family, we raised our signs proud and stomped in a continuous circle.  “We wanna quit! Pee-yea-no!”  We chanted in a perfectly trained four beats per measure.  The irony was thick and savory.

My mother rose from her throne.  She squinted her tired eyes upon the challenge we initiated and struck her response.  “Ya! Chee-gum mo-hah nee?!”  We froze at the thunderous Korean scolding.  I peed a little.

“We…wanna…quit? Pee-yea-no?”  The chant roared one last time despite the quivering about our knees.  In a swift commanding stroke, my mother pointed at the door.  We felt like we made our point.  Our indignation was laid on the table, so we resolved back to our bedrooms.

Like any loving parent, my mom held the weight of our unhappiness into consideration and carefully debated a decision…for several years.  While we waited the years for her compromise, my sisters grew to win ovations at every annual piano recital.  An apprehension to music never stunted the maturation of my sisters’ innate talents.  I continued to grind through Euphemia Allen’s satirical rendition of asians eating a piano.

My mother highness eventually decided that academic tutoring took precedence.  The queen unlocked our shackles from the keyboard and ended the tireless piano lessons.  We were to prepare for our respective careers as the eldest lawyer, the gorgeous middle doctor, and the boy.  Our mom had won the battle.  She pretty much won the war also.  But we made a statement.

My Kitten’s a Cat

I adopted my kitten from an unwilling feral mother. When I found her litter in my backyard, she bailed. Like most pussies, the mom got intimidated at the sight of my burly physique. She moved all but the cutest baby, so I made the last one a member of my cool Kim clan.

Zoe and Faye sleeping

I adopted my kitten from an unwilling feral mother.  When I found her litter in my backyard, she bailed.  Like most pussies, the mom got intimidated at the sight of my burly physique.  She moved all but the cutest baby, so I made the last one a member of my cool Kim clan.

After feeding the kitten from my supple bottle, it grew up into one striking orange beauty.  It’s a shame she’s a jerk.  I would have named her Red Sonja if I had foreseen her violent warrior nature. But, I named her Faye because I only knew of her cuddles at the time.

Faye sitting pretty

I now have the scratched chest of a rapist.  Every time I put on a shirt, Faye thinks it’s fun to launch into my torso.  I always shriek at her method of acupuncture.

Cat blogs state that I need toys to keep Faye occupied.  I spent a small fortune on distractions.  The purpose is to teach her to separate pouncing the toys from loving the humans.  Sadly, she’s too fond of drawing blood.  I doubt she’ll ever stop trying to murder me.

Faye’s favorite toys are mice stuffed with catnip.  She loves getting high.  Anytime I need to work, I throw a laced mouse on the ground and Faye flurries about for hours.

There are times when I wish I could grab a catnipped mouse and play with her.  I just can’t play with belligerent druggies.  She growls.  When Faye’s got her mouth on a mouse, she shoots me a stink-eye and swats her evil razor claws at my hands.

I was a fool to fall in love at first sight.  Now I’m trapped in marriage to an abusive catnipoholic.  Faye just lies around the house all day, naked.  She exerts her dominance by degrading me into shoveling her poop out of sand and doesn’t even make herself dinner.  I have to fetch her every meal, or else she glares and meows about how I’ve been letting my looks go.

I still love her though.  I love her for the kitten she was and the cat she could be.  The nights are sweet as she snuggles by my side, despite her breath always reeking of the nip.  I dread the mornings when she insists on biting my toes.

Faye sleeping on my arm

Announcement & Special Thanks

Dear Friends, thank you. The response to this website has been amazing. Even though only a handful of people read my self-deprecating articles, a few of you have reached out to me with warm and welcoming arms. Sharing a good chuckle with you means everything.

Dear Friends,

Thank you.

The response to this website has been amazing.  Even though only a handful of people read my self-deprecating articles, a few of you have reached out to me with warm and welcoming arms.  Sharing a good chuckle with you means everything.

My goal with this website was to publish about once a month.  After talking with friends and family, I’ve learned that a month is too long of a wait.

I will publish on a weekly schedule now.  There’ll be a new post every Tuesday.  I won’t spam you with reminders.  I hate spam.  I will not send it from a tree, or spam you from the sea.  Spam is not nice, some kids have head lice.

If you’d like to stay updated, please follow me on Twitter or my Facebook page.

– John

New posts every Tuesday starting September 11th.

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey feels like reading the private journal of a 13 year old girl from the suburbs, whose lust floods so profoundly at the sight of a wealthy young man that it leaves one to wonder how she can walk despite her knees buckling over the slippery spills of her effervescing vagina.

Fifty Shades of Grey feels like reading the private journal of a 13 year old girl from the suburbs, whose lust floods so profoundly at the sight of a wealthy young man that it leaves one to wonder how she can walk despite her knees buckling over the slippery spills of her effervescing vagina.

I read 30 pages, which is a little over 3 chapters.

E. L. James is quite brilliant.  She dials back her writing so anyone smarter than a fifth grader can think, “I could write this.”  Too often, authors waste time with cliché literary techniques like describing stuff.  Some authors have a problem of ‘showing’ rather than just ‘telling’ with their writing.  James literally tells readers what to feel and think.  i.e. – He’s hot.  Suddenly, she’s hot.  Why use imagination?  Ain’t no body got time fo dat.

Even though the story is fundamentally told in the first person perspective of Anastasia Steele, the book is actually just non-stop dialogue.  It has the charm of reading a direct-to-video screenplay that is devoid of any scene headings, action sequences, parantheticals, and camera directions.  The story carries itself on dialogue styled in honor of the harmonious yimmer-yammer of divorced housewives dining on a few boxes of wine, all the while admiring the allure of a dangling mosquito zapper.  It’s musically musical.

I was impressed with her frequent ability to encompass an entire complex emotion into unique singular words such as “happily”, “nervously”, and “quickly”.  As a reader, nothing makes me feel more rushed with frantic anxiety than when an author writes the word “quickly” to describe action.  Commoners define her technique as adverbs.  I call it magic.  Adverbs are sometimes considered cheap and hollow because they lack informative value.  But James glitters the pages in so many adverbs, the story flows at a swiftly magically magical pace with a majestically mystic tonely tone…writtenly.

One problem I had with the writing was that James didn’t write any omg’s, rofl’s, or =)’s into Anastasia’s narration.  I don’t understand y she chose not 2.  How am I supposed to take the book seriously without ever needing an urban dictionary nearby?  The story would have been more relatable if the main character’s narration described her horny fluster as:

(* °_°) <3 <3 <3
or
8===========D ~ ~ ~ (°o °; )

From what I’ve read of the book, I assumed emoticons would complement James’ literary sophistication.  I guess she wanted to challenge her storytelling prowess and decided to not employ another powerful literation aid.

In less than 3 full chapters, James swings the setting from Anastasia’s home, to Christian Grey’s corporate building, then to his office, back to Anastasia’s home, later at her work, again at her home, and then a return to Grey’s corporate building.  I’m sure I missed a lot more of the book’s teleportation.  It was difficult to follow.  I may be too prude because I’m not comfortable with any author’s rapid casual slutting of settings.  Every other page the story is in a new place with no distinction or reason.

My favorite part of the book was reading Christian Grey’s dialogue in the voice of Dr. Evil from Austin Powers.  James’ vague description of Grey’s office had just enough detail to trigger my memories of Dr. Evil’s lair.  And then when it came time for his introductory dialogue, I had the best laugh hearing the puny voice of Dr. Evil speaking into his pinky finger.  I’m sure the author had more sincere and serious intents, but the shoe fit perfectly.

I am not going to finish reading the miracle book Fifty Shades of Grey.  I won’t dare further taint the pages with my unworthy eyes.  Reading the phrase “I blush” or “I flush” a million freaking times in 30 pages is just not for me.  I will be earnest saying E. L. James deserves a sincere tip of the hat for the massive popularity of her trilogy.  I think the writing is poor, but she managed to captivate a new world of readers.  Anything that gets people to read is all good with me.

Popple in the Wind: An Innocence Lost

The 80s were a simple time. Bugs Bunny was still racist, neon was popular, inflatable airbags were in kids’ shoes instead of cars, and seat belts were merely a suggestion for children. Danger and ignorance was the culture. My childhood was great…for the most part.

The 80s were a simple time.  Bugs Bunny was still racist, neon was popular, inflatable airbags were in kids’ shoes instead of cars, and seat belts were merely a suggestion for children.  Danger and ignorance was the culture.  My childhood was great…for the most part.

I used to play with stuffed dolls just so I could join in with my older sisters.  Even though I was often too young to understand, I always followed their lead.  My eldest sister once grabbed a doll, placed it under her shirt, and jovially exclaimed “I’m pregnant!”  With a doe-eyed sibling idolization, I leapt for the nearest doll, jammed it on my belly, and cheered “Me too!”  She pummeled my endearing naivety with laughter.  I was probably 4 years old when I learned that boys weren’t allowed to be pregnant.

Having been raised by a busy single mother who spent all of her time earning food for our table, my sisters were my closest available role models.  They taught me multiplication and division when I was in the first grade, how to shave my face, and the quickest way to fetch them food and drinks from the kitchen.  Heck, just about all of the things I’ve come to not understand about women I pretty much learned from my two beautiful sisters.

Everything changed when I lost my Popple.

Prior to Alf crash-landing into mainstream culture, Popples were among the most popular children’s toys.  These dolls were flamboyant plush marsupials that looked like Frankenstein’s Care Bears stitched from a medley of highlighters.  Their charming novelty was that each one could tuck itself inside their pouch.  My sisters and I each had our own and loved flipping them into balls and then back into their freakish half-bear form.  We made our Popples dance, sing, and occasionally shut their dumb booger face because somebody was the youngest as well as the only boy of the three.

Our favorite place for Popple tomfoolery was inside the family Toyota Wonderwagon.  The tubular van was a staple of the decade’s flagrant disregard for safety standards.  It was made of tin, infamous for toppling over in beach winds, and had windows that opened wide enough for children to leap out of.  My mom often tested the sturdiness of the van’s engineering by reaming into cement dividers and smashing into fellow commuters.  Even today, she continues to perpetuate the stereotype that pediatricians can’t drive.  I don’t know how any of us survived.

We brought our Popples everywhere.  We especially made certain to bring them along for every arduous van ride to church.  One woeful Sunday, a brilliant idea enraptured my eldest sister.  What if we opened the windows on this bitch and dangled our Popples over the freeway?  With no hesitation, my sisters flung the windows open.  A torrent of high speed winds consumed the van.  They both jutted their Popples toward on-coming traffic and giggled in whole-hearted glee as the air violently thrashed about their dolls.  Their joy was infectious.  I needed to taste the fruits of such jubilant reckless abandon.

I stepped into the headwinds like a lemming approaching the cliff.  The wind thrust back my fine-chiseled 5 year old biceps, but my desire to be like my sisters awoke the determination of my inner crane-kicking Daniel Larusso.  I was getting out of Reseda with a rich blond girlfriend.  Bonzai.

My hand swept out the window and my Popple caught ferocious turbulence.  I tried to believe, though the going gets rough, but I couldn’t hang tough to make it.  I was losing.  Sirens blared.  The emergency doors blew open and oxygen masks were deployed.  The mission was failing faster than my attempts at swooning women.  My Popple went through rapid seizures due to the sudden change in cabin pressure as my grip grew frantic, desperate, and feeble.  I had never trained for a moment like this.  If only I had listened to my mom…  If only I had eaten more spinach…

All hope was lost.  My Popple shed a single tear and then let go.  No matter how much I tried to stretch my reach, I couldn’t go-go gadget it back into my arms.  I watched my childhood fly off into the depths of the highway.  It collided onto speeding windshields and vanished beneath the soot of busy tires.  The entire time, my Popple somehow bravely held its innocent grin.

Blindly idolizing my sisters left me hollow.  I cried for months, delved into a soulless Berenstain Bears addiction, and drowned my sorrows in root beer.  My sisters did their best to console me, while gratefully clutching their own Popples that continued to tirelessly return from the trenches of battle unscathed.

Our family traveled the same highway for years.  And every time we approached the scene, the three of us would gaze out the windows in silence with a tinge of hope that we might find my Popple like a missing Mousekewitz.  But, my story has no happy ending.  I am now an old popless man forever pained with the thought of my beloved being found by another and betraying me in the embrace of some paup’n homeless child.

…Rosebud.