Faith.

Faith. George Michael. Sometimes, you just “gotta have faith,” as the song goes. For an awkward teen trying to find his place in life, these lyrics really helped define the man he would become. For me, faith was tied to harsh fundamentalist ideologies that made no room for a young kid who was already questioning…

The Kiss That Almost Was

She leaned into me, tilted her head to the side and closed her eyes. I did the same as I waited for the inevitable kiss. Under different circumstances, this might have played out like a Robert Doisneau photograph. But reality never plays out that way… Especially when you’re a teenager. In that mid-price range hotel…

A Closed Circle

Spring, 1995. The spiral tubes and breathing machines. The ICU and the specialists. The spinal taps and blood tests. They will become a litany of memories… But not for me. For my mother and my sisters, yes. And especially my father—although I will never ask. But it will end there. My mother will speak of…

Not Quite Ready For That Close-Up

From the Sunset Blvd screenplay Slow dissolve to: Hollywood, seen from the Hilltop at Ivar & Franklin Streets. Joe Gillis (VO) I was living in an apartment    house above Franklin and Ivar. Camera pans toward the Alto Nido, an ugly Moorish structure of stucco about four stories high. Actually, it is six stories high.…

A Gem Among Minerals

He didn’t exactly hand it back to me. He threw it at my face with a flick of his wrist. At least, that’s how I remember it. In reality, it was a combination of the two actions. He went up and down each aisle, returning each assignment to its respective student. The class was alive…

Madonna of the Brassiere

Do it! Do it! The mandate hissed in my head like air escaping from a deflating tire. The truth of the matter was: I didn’t want to Do it! The idea of it terrified me. They terrified me. Yet, here I was goaded on by a couple of horny teenage boys. Robin was in my…

Borderline

Embedded essay. Word count: 1,350. The bullet-riddled walls of our house were a reminder that our rented property lay on the boundary between two rival gangs, embattled in a property war, each claiming this territory as their own. These walls were also a reminder that our beds were a luxury best enjoyed in the middle…

A New Year’s Kiss

A kiss can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Marilyn Monroe sang about a kiss on the hand being quite continental. Julia Roberts’ hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold in Pretty Woman refused to even kiss her Johns on the lips. In Chekhov’s short story “The Kiss,” it led the protagonist to question its significance and…

A Guide to Masturbation

Embedded essay. Word count: 2,937. Avoid your parents today. Even though you told them over the phone last night that you’d stop for a short visit. You haven’t seen them since the first part of December and now it has been two weeks since New Year’s (Chinese New Year’s, to be precise). More accurately, it’s…