Sunday, September 27, 2015


I've done some stupid things in my life. Fewer than most people (or so I'd like to think), but more than some (probably).

Rational, sane, human beings weigh options, consider cause and effect, whether when deciding which laundry detergent to purchase or when deciding to go skydiving. We make choices. Most are sound. But not all are.

Our emotions often intersect and interfere with rationality. Especially when love is involved. People have done -- and will continue to do -- awful things to one another, or themselves, because they feel hurt or alone. Anger is a devil that can manifest itself in terrible ways.

I have always tried to be a reasonable, rational person. That reads like the opening paragraph of a serial killer's letter sent to the police, but hear me out. I also get angry at times. Sometimes I get so angry that I don't know what to do with myself. When I was an adolescent, and my parents would argue, I'd feel so upset and conflicted, and the only way I could express my feelings was by punching a hole in my bedroom wall.

That was how I dealt with the frustration I felt. I was upset, and rather than hurting other people, I chose to hurt inanimate objects: walls, TV remote controls, and, on one occasion, a flip phone. I broke it in half like an 80s action hero snapping a villains neck.

Recently, while dealing with immense stress and sorrow, I chose, irrationally, to harm myself. I could never commit suicide (I like living too much, no matter how far astray I've been led in life), but I was low. Bottom of the fucking ocean.

So I put a cigarette out on my left arm. Not fast, either. I ground the cigarette into my arm like that worthy was a glass ashtray.

Speaking from experience -- don't do that. Things can heal: relationships, surgical procedures, the disappointment of True Detective Season 2...but the pain of a third-degree burn is the gift that keeps on giving.

But even that will get better...unless the wound gets infected and you die from flesh-eating bacteria.

I'll try to get over it. But not today. Maybe tomorrow.

-- September 27, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Free Throw

A sweltering afternoon in August. The air is as thick as corn soup. I'm playing basketball.

Practicing is a better description, because not many people are out for recreation on this hot day. I'm playing by myself, taking jump shots, scrambling to get my own rebounds before the ball bounces off into the abutting river or the mud puddles surrounding the court.

It's peaceful. Serene. Despite the heat.

Damn, it's hot, though. My gray Timberland T-shirt is black with sweat. Perspiration is dripping into my eyes from my unkempt hair. I wipe my forehead with my forearm and see a residue of white sodium speckles.

Time to head home. Drink a 500 ml bottle of Gatorade and take a nap with the air conditioner on blast.

But first, free throws.


The basketball communion wafer.

Appease the gods.


I set my feet; my right foot half an inch ahead of my left.

I jimmy my waist until I feel comfortable.

I bounce the ball three times (the holy trinity), and spin it in my palms to get a good feel. This ball is a baby sucking on mother's milk.

I bend my knees slightly, square my shoulders, raise my arms, and shoot.


The sound of a basketball going through mesh is the most satisfying sound known to man. The sperm-egg analogue is obvious.

I shoot nine more free throws. I make them all.


A cold October night. I'm covered in blankets and shivering. I have a fever. The fluorescent lights are blinding and hurting my eyes.

A nurse tells me, nicely, that I have lost my left arm. I tell her she's crazy, because I can still feel it.

Then the morphine drip puts me to sleep again.

I dream that I am shooting free throws and playing piano.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fast Friends

June 12, 2011. The Miami Heat are about to lose the NBA Finals 4-2 to the Dallas Mavericks.

I'm already in the future. It's an early afternoon on June 13 where I am, Korea, working in localization at NHN, home to the country's leading Internet search (Naver) and online video game (Hangame) portals. I'm listening to ESPN Radio's broadcast, and I know that, for now, the sky is falling. I skip lunch, go to the bathroom to take a shit that won't manifest even though my bowels are wrung like a drenched towel, go back to my desk and send my wife a text message.


There are a lot of things that I love and dislike about professional sports, but the one question I have kept returning to over the years is, "Why do we care so much about something that affects our lives so little?" I don't have a solid answer to that question, but I do have a fraction of one: It's because we care. And caring is not a bad thing. It can get warped and twisted (see: soccer hooligans, Batfans, etc.), but caring about a TV show, sports team, or any other innocuous ephemera is -- at least to me -- a pure human emotion. We care because we appreciate; and we appreciate because we care.

That caring, that love, can quickly and violently become an ugly thing, however. Expectations, rational or irrational can find terrible paths when unmet. El Salvador and Honduras participated in mutual military aggression partially due to a football match. Vancouver has seen two riots after the Canucks lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. Hell, Los Angeles and Montreal have had riots when their sports teams win.

I don't know what leads to such a level of insane passion, although I'd like to, simply out of curiosity. What I do know is that on June 13, 2011 I was down. The Miami Heat, in the first year of the Big 3 era, had lost in the Finals, much to the delight of anyone who wasn't a Heat fan.

I needed a quick fix. I needed something to make me feel better, immediately.

So, like a child asking to go get ice cream after losing a soccer game, I called my wife and asked her to buy a dog, a dachshund, specifically. Bless her heart, she did.

I named him Flash, after the nickname of my favorite basketball player. I never could have imagined how apt that name would be; shorty can outrun a bolt of lightning, I'm convinced.

Why did I pick a dachshund? The most common answer to that question that I have given when anyone bothers to ask is that I live in an apartment, and I wanted a small dog who could comfortably live in an apartment. But I didn't want a toy poodle, a Chihuahua, or a lot of the other small dogs that some people buy more to keep as accessories rather than pets.

I think the real answer, though, is that a dachshund, with its long body and short legs, floppy ears and pointed nose, is my definition of an incalculable smile brought to life. The dachshund, for me, is a panacea.

Four years later, on a Sunday afternoon, Flash nestled in my lap, I am writing a love letter to my dog, who will never read this. But he knows how much I care about him, and I know how much he cares about me.

You can learn a lot from the eyes of a dog. They can't talk, but their look can convey more than most people can express in words.

[Insert David Berkowitz joke here.]

We bros. I'm Popeye, and you're my spinach.

I look into those tiny, wet black eyes and see pure love and affection.

If only everything else could be as such.