I have not liked anything I have written lately. x__x
let me tell you about anxiety —
because it’s more than the
racing heart —
it’s multiplied, magnified —
sorry, what did you say?
sorry, what did you say?
sorry, what did you say?
while Their words crash encrypted
against the firewall of your panic
it’s surreptitiously trying to convert mannerisms into mathematics —
how much oxygen is in the room
and how much of it can i sneak stuttering into my lungs
and will They notice if i’m taking too much
how much space am i taking up
and if i stand here or here or here
or shrink into myself
or suck in my gut
will i take up less
how many minutes have They spent on me
and how many more am i allotted
and are They giving them out of charity
or did i earn the right to keep them
it’s a prison
where your ribs are the bars
and your heart is a tripping, seizing convict
slamming against the walls
screaming and slavering
grappling with demons unseen
while your lungs, those unfortunate cellmates
squeeze themselves small
bruised and battered
by your heavyweight heart
“Stop saying you’re sorry! The phrase you’re looking for is, ‘Excuse me.’”
It’s really not.
“Excuse me” and “pardon me” are lovely phases, certainly serviceable enough, but roughly 95% of the time I’m not asking to be excused or pardoned.
The Social Anxiety Lexicon denotes, “I’m sorry,” as synonymous with the following:
“OH GOD AWEOIRUYWTOFADSFUADF I DIDN’T MEAN TO STAND WHERE YOUR FEET NEEDED TO BE BUT NOW THE FLOOR APPEARS TO BE ENTIRELY MADE OF QUICKSAND BORN OF MY FEAR THAT I MAY SOMEHOW WALK MORE STUPIDLY THAN USUAL WHEN I FLEE THE SCENE. OH. YOU’RE WALKING AWAY FIRST. OKAY. THAT’S GOO — WAIT, YOU’RE WALKING IN THE DIRECTION I NEED TO GO IN. OKAY. NO PROBLEM. I’LL JUST TAKE A DETOUR THAT LEADS ME IN A WIDE SEMICIRCLE AROUND THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BUILDING SO I DON’T LOOK LIKE I’M FOLLOWING YOU BECAUSE OTHERWISE WE’LL HAVE TO MAKE SMALL TALK AND I DON’T WANT TO DIE. I MEAN, NOW I KIND OF DO, BUT, YOU KNOW.”
“OH GOD AWEOIRUYWTOFADSFUADF I KNEW I SHOULDN’T HAVE INTERRUPTED YOU; NOW YOU’RE BOTH GAZING AT ME EXPECTANTLY. WHO DO I LOOK AT? IF I LOOK AT HER MORE, IS THAT RUDE? IF I LOOK AT YOU MORE, IS THAT RUDE? IF I FOCUS ON A MIDDLE DISTANCE, IS THAT RUDE? I’M PRETTY SURE I HAD A QUESTION BUT I DEFINITELY FORGOT IT — ONE SECOND OF SILENCE, TWO SECONDS OF SILENCE — AND NOW I’M CRACKING JOKES ABOUT THE WEATHER. AM I BREATHING MORE LOUDLY THAN USUAL? WHY DID I THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? HOW MANY SECONDS OF SILENCE CAN EXIST BEFORE THEY EVOLVE INTO AN AWKWARD PAUSE? AND NOW THAT I’VE STARTED THIS CONVERSATION, HOW DO I END IT? TIME TO PRETEND MY PHONE IS RINGING AND IT’S PRESIDENT OBAMA WITH A PROBLEM ONLY I CAN SOLVE.”
“OH GOD AWEOIRUYWTOFADSFUADF I JUST WANT TO WALK IN A STRAIGHT LINE AND NOT COLLIDE WITH YOU. HERE. LET ME SCURRY OUT OF YOUR WAY. NO, NO, NO, STOP PICKING THE SAME DIRECTION — YOU JUST — I — NO, YOU KNOW WHAT? IT’S FINE. IT’S FINE. I’M GOING TO JUST STAND HERE AND MAKE MYSELF AS SMALL AS POSSIBLE AND YOU CAN WALK AROUND ME. WHY DID I THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO USE A SIDEWALK ON THIS DAY OF DAYS?”
I realize I apologize more than is necessary and often find myself guilty of wanting to apologize for apologizing when I’m called on it. In sixth grade, this got me into trouble, earning me a smack upside the head from an ukulele-wielding nun.
True story. An ukulele can be used as a weapon.
Back in 2014 I created a Facebook page titled INKDOG to house my scribbles — poetry, prose, awful song parodies, you name it. I didn’t plan on discriminating. I felt so good about it that I shamelessly plugged myself on the Word Porn Facebook page [which has basically deteriorated to the point it ought to be called Clickbait Porn, but I digress]. When I hit one hundred followers, I felt like that was it — I’d made it. I devoted different days of the week to different themes: Saturday Caturday and Sunday Sonday were my favorites. It was then suggested very politely and privately that since I’d created that page to showcase my writing and not pictures of my pets, I should try to focus on my original goal. So I did. I deleted all the pictures of my fluffy children and got back to my scribbles. I’m still very happy with that page and the kind feedback I’ve received because of it.
That being said, I’ve written things that I’m incredibly proud of — and I never posted them. I refused to. I worried the content was too macabre — my opinions were too offensive — my “voice” was too frail to warrant asking people to spend time reading it. I was embarrassed by the inspiration for some of my work. Would I sound too much like a feminist? Too much like an anti-feminist? Was I too liberal or too conservative in my views? Did anybody really want to read poetry based on Korean singers or fictitious characters from a roleplaying game created by my friend and set during the zombie apocalypse? Would people understand that the opinions of those characters did not necessarily reflect my own opinions? I worried the risks were too great and the chance of disappointing my readers was too high. So I stayed quiet, and I stifled the voice I’ve worked for more than two decades to find.
The Unapologetic INKDOG is my way of breaking this self-imposed silence.
Ahead you’ll find unabashed fangirling over the legendary SHINHWA, photographs of adorable animals, longer works of fiction, and the occasional grumble. I expect to write waterfalls about my stumble-footed search to find and cultivate my soul’s Korean core — to jot down anecdotes about the people I come across and the way their idiosyncrasies reflect and refract mine — and to preserve memories I might otherwise forget. It won’t be free of “I’m sorry”s; nothing I create will be.
It will, however — I hope, I hope, I hope — be free of regrets.