I’ve Got a New Blog: Therewasthistime.com

Hi! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted any new short stories on Rough Draft. But, I’ve got a good excuse: I was writing a YA novel called The Soundtrack.

The novel is finished and is being edited by an editor who I feel will help to make it a success. In the mean time, however, I’ve started a new blog which I hope will be entertaining: http://therewasthistime.com/

I’ll be posting on it faithfully every Monday and Thursday. Please visit! Happy reading!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Relax, seriously

I’m tired. I think we all are. It feels like we’ve been going and going nonstop for about fifty years now, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it feel like every vacation we have, every day off we get, is never long enough? It feels like that for me and I’m sure you feel like that too.

For the most part I know we’re all working hard or stressing out about how to get ahead just a little bit. For most of the people reading this, you’re probably worried about getting old too fast. You’re probably wishing that you were at a certain point in your life by now. Maybe it has to do with making more money. Maybe it has to do with finding that special someone who you think will make your life complete.  Maybe it has to do with wishing that you’d done more of the fun stuff while you had the chance when you were just a few years younger. Maybe you wish you were able to travel more and live your life like one of those movies where they seem to hop continents like they’re riding a bus from Jersey to New York City; as though it’s no big deal and doesn’t cost much.

I’m stressed. I won’t deny it. I feel like I’m constantly having to tell myself to let the muscles in my face relax because I’m constantly either frowning or wrinkling my brow in concentration (For everyone around me, it probably looks like I’m always constipated) . You know what I mean. You feel it too, don’t you?

I bet you wish you could take about a year off from your life or at least a year off from working. I know. I feel like that too. Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen any time soon.

Even though most of us aren’t lucky enough to have that much time off to just chill, I think we have to take an evening off now and then. I think we need to relax sometimes and not think about what’s missing in our lives. I think we need to just sit back and breathe. We need some time to just close our eyes, relax our shoulders, and feel the breeze. I think we need to just be.

I’m doing that tonight. I have a glass of a delicious bottle of sangiovese I was lucky enough to pick up for just thirteen dollars at a wine store nearby. The owner of the store joked with me that he’d never been able to let this wine decant properly because it’s so delicious that he drinks it all as soon as he opens a bottle. I must agree with him.

I’m trying not to think about work. I’m trying not to think about anything really. I’m not even going to edit this post. I’m just going to sip this wine, enjoy the cool breeze coming through the windows, listen to band of horses play in the background, and just breathe.

I hope you’re able to find time to do the same if only for an evening.

Posted in Uncategorized, Wannabe Deep Thoughts | 1 Comment


In my mind, I can still smell the hot breeze blowing the smell of fish up from the village to the school where I lived and worked in one of the towns surrounding Qingdao. When I looked out my apartment room window, I could see the bay where the fishermen docked their old, rattling boats. To me, it was a wonder any of those boats actually made it farther than a few hundred yards out into the ocean before splitting at the seams. The hills surrounding the bay towered over the little village and made the whole area feel as though it were in a realm all its own. The school I taught at was built on the side of a hill with the peak rising just behind our campus. I had always planned to climb it but just couldn’t summon the courage or energy.

When it was discovered that one of the younger students at the school had been molested by a foreign teacher, we all felt a crushing sense of shame. It felt the way it might when you find out that one of your relatives has been convicted for murder. It was true that none of us foreign English teachers had known Alistair very well and those that had known him hadn’t much cared for him. But we knew that many of the Chinese students and teachers lumped all of us foreigners in the same category to a certain degree.  We felt sure that there would be a “guilt by association” mentality from their point of view. After all, when we saw a Chinese person spit in the street, cut in line, or speak very loudly in public, didn’t we shake our heads and mutter, “these Chinese people?”

Since he was Australian, the other Americans and I gossiped about, “those Australian bastards” and assured each other that Americans would never do a thing like that.

The girl I was dating at the time was one of the native Chinese teachers at the school. She taught one of the third grade classes. A few weeks after everyone found out about it, we were taking a walk and I asked her about the situation and if it changed her opinion of me since I was also a foreigner. She thought for a minute.

“Of course I don’t think you are guilty along with that animal. I know that you would never do anything terrible like he did. But I think that some of the others may look at your group of foreigners a little differently now.”

Her voice had that northern accent which I found charming. I loved how she emphasized different words than a native English speaker would. I unconsciously listened for it, and in this case she emphasized “you,”  “with,” and “differently,” in those sentences.

“What I hate the most about that man,” she paused for a moment and I could see that she was starting to get emotional. Her eyes began to water a little bit. “Is that it seems he came to China only because he knows that our country is weaker and that he can do this kind of crime here without being punished.”

“Hey, come on,” I said softly. “China isn’t weak. It’s one of the most powerful countries in the world. Anyway, I’m sure he’ll be punished.” It was a weak attempt at consolation and it sounded fake when the words left my mouth.

She shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. Many foreigners come here just to do things like that and are never punished. They can just go back home or go to another school. They are taking advantage of us.” She pronounced her words carefully and each syllable sounded like it had been preplanned. She swept her hair away from her face and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Her eye shadow smeared a little under her left eye. The tears were due to a sense of helplessness, I realized, and not only because she was sad for the molested student.

It was warm outside and the back of my shirt was starting to become a little damp. I patted her back gently and felt a little wetness seep through her shirt onto my hand also. I quickly pulled my hand away as we continued walking in silence for a while.

“Are you here for the same thing?” she asked me suddenly. I stopped abruptly and turned toward her. She faced me and looked a little defiant.

“Lucy, you know I would never do anything like that!” I protested. “I thought you just said you didn’t think that I was the same as Alistair!”

“No, I mean are you here to take advantage of us? I know you won’t do that kind of thing to the children but are you here only to date Chinese girls for fun and then return to America when you want to find a real wife?”

Shocked, my mouth worked but no words came out.

“Of course, not,” I finally managed to get out

“So you are taking me seriously then?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said weakly.

We finally started walking again and stopped at a juice bar where I got a strawberry and kiwi juice. She had pineapple and orange juice.  We walked back toward our apartments when it started to get dark.


After we had broken up and I returned to America and found a “real” job in Seattle, I gradually forgot Lucy. My teaching years in China had been a fun experience but it wasn’t anything more than that, I thought.  I sat in a coffee shop one night enjoying the jazz guitarist playing to the half full room. He stopped every once in a while to tell the story of the song he was about to play.

“My next song is a personal one,” the guitarist said into the microphone. “I actually wrote it after a girlfriend broke up with me. She was Australian, and I guess she just wanted some American boy to have fun with while she visited our fair city. She went back to kangaroo country because she said she didn’t like the rain here. But it’s all good because we don’t want people here who can’t handle a little rain. Am I right?”

The audience clapped and laughed as he began his song. As he strummed the first few chords, I remembered how after Lucy and I had started walking back to our apartments after having juice that one day, she apologized and said she didn’t mean what she had said earlier.

“Don’t worry about it,” I replied. “You were upset.” I smiled at her. Just then, it started to rain lightly. We had to hurry back before we got soaked to skin.

Posted in Stories Stories Stories! | Leave a comment

Which Story is Best?

Hi all!

Thanks so much for reading the stories I’ve posted.

I have a huge favor to ask: I’m planning to enter a couple different versions of one of the stories on this blog in a short story contest. Would you please let me know which story you like best and why (If you choose one of the stories with two parts, please include both parts in your consideration.)? Simply add a comment to this post for your vote.

Want to look over the stories again before voting? Just click on this link: https://joshsuds.wordpress.com/category/stories-stories-stories/

I can’t wait to get your feedback. Thanks again for reading and for your vote!


Posted in Random Poetry, short stories, Stories Stories Stories!, Uncategorized, Wannabe Deep Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

No Answer

The boy hunched over his desk protectively like a prisoner guarding his lunch tray. Quickly, he glanced up toward the front of the room to make sure that Miss Hendricks was not watching as he put the finishing touches on the note. He read it twice to make sure it was perfect. His face was flushed and his heart felt as though it would jump out of his shirt.

“Thomas, I’d like you to give us an example of a prepositional phrase, please,” Miss Hendricks said, looking at the classmate seated directly behind him. She stood next to the blackboard holding a piece of chalk, ready to copy down Thomas’s answer. The boy’s chair jumped slightly.

“Hey, Peter, give me the answer,” Thomas whispered harshly. His breath smelled like eggs and Peter pinched his nose shut as Thomas kicked his chair from behind once more.

“She’s looking right at you, I can’t give you the answer,” he whispered back.

“Thomas, we’re waiting.” Miss Hendrick’s rapped the chalkboard with her knuckles. Some of the other kids in the class stared and giggled at Thomas. He hardly ever knew the answers. He answered questions by repeating whatever someone else gave him.

“Hurry up!” Thomas whispered angrily at the back of Peter’s neck. Peter did not respond and instead began folding the note. He would give it to Livia after class was over.

Thinking about her answer made his heart pound so hard he could hear the pulse in his head. She sat at the front of his row and twisted around in her chair to stare at Thomas along with the other kids. She smiled at Peter when she saw him looking at her. It was the most beautiful smile in the world. Instead of smiling back, he looked down shyly.

Peter rehearsed mentally exactly what he would say when giving the note.

“Livia, would you please read this when you have time?” That didn’t sound right. He pursed his lips.

Suddenly, the paper was snatched from his hands. Thomas waved it over his head.

“Miss Hendricks, Peter is passing notes in class,” Thomas said loudly. He grinned menacingly at Peter. Some of the other boys in class hooted. A few girls laughed. Livia looked toward Peter but he dared not meet her eyes.

“Give it back!” Peter said through clenched teeth. He grabbed for it. Thomas danced out of his reach and opened the paper.

“No, don’t read it!” Peter said, jumping toward Thomas. Miss Hendricks clapped her hands for attention.

“Class, settle down! Thomas, give me the note!”

Thomas held the paper out of Peter’s reach and began reading loudly.

“Dear, Livia.”

Some of the kids laughed and clapped. Peter once again grabbed at the paper and missed. Livia got up quickly from her desk and ran from the room.

Thomas continued reading out loud. Miss Hendricks was yelling now. Peter grabbed at Thomas’s arms and tried to snatch the note back; not that it would do any good now. He halfheartedly shoved Thomas and sat down. He stared at his desk.

Posted in Stories Stories Stories!, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments


Sorry for the blog’s appearance. I’m trying to make it more organized and hopefully a little more visually appealing. All the widgets should be in the right places soon! Bear with me.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Relief – part 2

“He told us through Kenneth that we should each pick a girl from the group. To tell you the truth, I was pretty nervous. It’s not every day that a big group of girls looks you up and down at the same time,” Alex said.

Alex turned to Ray, who also seemed slightly nervous.

“Which one are you choosing, Ray?” he said quickly.

“Man, I don’t know, does it even matter which one you choose? I have no idea how this works. I thought I was getting my hair cut. I hope I don’t pick the strongest girl who leaves me with a bunch of bruises.” He fidgeted with his watch.

Kenneth quickly chose a girl. She slowly stood up and took short deliberate steps over to him. Kenneth seemed indifferent. The manager looked impatiently at Alex as Ray then pointed at a girl. Apparently tired of waiting, the manager then motioned for the girl at the end of the couch to come over to Alex. She walked over and the three young men followed the girls up a set of stairs to a large, dimly lit room with two rows of massage tables. Only one or two of the other tables seemed to have people on them.

Kenneth said something quickly to his masseuse and they walked to a table toward the back of the room. Since they were nervous, when their masseuses tried to take Ray and Alex to tables on opposite sides of the room, they motioned that they wanted tables next to each other. The girls laughed and Alex and Ray climbed onto the tables.

“Here goes nothing,” Ray said.

“If you hear me scream, come over and rescue me,” Alex replied.Their masseuses closed hospital-like curtains around each of the individual tables.

“Alex, you’ve never had a real massage before right? Is this what they usually do?” Ray’s voice came from the next table. The masseuse with Alex motioned for him to lie on his stomach. She wore a shiny, silver colored dress which struck him as a little unusual for a masseuse. Oh well. When in Rome, he thought to himself.

“I don’t know, man. I guess this is how it works,” he said back to the curtain. The girl began rubbing his back and Alex closed his eyes. Her hands moved from his upper back to his lower back and from side to side. Then she closed her hands into fists and began to pummel his back. She roughly rubbed his upper back and then his lower back then she quickly moved her hands down to knead his buttocks and his legs all the way down to his calves. This is a little rougher and more rushed than I thought a massage was supposed to be, but it’s not terrible, he thought.

After only a couple of minutes or so, she motioned for him to turn over. He rolled over onto his back and she said something to him in Chinese and motioned for him to take off his shirt. She looked a little bored but smiled at him. He took off his shirt and she placed it on a chair. As he lay back down, she again began massaging him. This time, however, she seemed to take her time rubbing his shoulders, and then his arms and then his chest, and then his stomach. Her hands moved expertly back up to his chest and she glided her hands back and forth, applying a little pressure now and then. Then she moved down to his legs. He laughed as she rubbed his feet since he was ticklish. Then she quickly massaged his calves and thighs. Something was a little bit fishy, he thought to himself as she massaged his thighs. She looked at him and smiled.

Should I tell her to stop? He wondered. Perhaps I should ask Ray what he thinks. He turned to say something through the curtain as the girl continued to squeeze his thighs.

“Oh wow! Uh,” he heard suddenly from Ray’s side of the curtain. At that moment the girl placed one hand on his most sensitive area and smiled at him.

“Yao bu yao?” she asked. She smiled at him again. Alex froze

“Hey….man, is something weird happening over there?” he heard Ray ask.

“Uh, yes,” Alex replied.

Ray’s face appeared as the curtain parted. He looked down at Alex’s waist and then at Alex.
“Oh, yeah, looks like the same thing that’s going on over here,” he said. The masseuse working on Ray appeared also and said something to Alex’s masseuse. She shrugged and looked a little puzzled.

“What do you think, man? Time to go?” Alex said.

“I think so. I’m not in the mood for a disease,” Ray replied. He jumped off his massage table as Alex did the same. Each grabbed their shirts and threw them on as the girls said something to them. They seemed a little annoyed.

“Kenneth!” Alex called down the row of tables to the one at the end covered by a curtain. There was no answer. A sound of a muffled giggle drifted to them from behind the curtain, however. Alex and Ray looked at each other.

“Okay, let’s just go,” Ray said. Alex followed him down the stairs to the lobby area. They quickly paid the man at the front and hurried out the door, leaving Kenneth behind. When they were out on the street, Ray stopped and looked at Alex without saying anything.

“Man,” he finally said. Then they both laughed.

“That’s one of those experiences I’ll always remember and be able to laugh about,” he said with a smile. I shook my head and chuckled. Our cups of coffee had long since become cold.

“That’s pretty crazy man. So what happened to Kenneth?” I leaned back in my chair. The other customers in the coffee shop were gathering up their belongings and I wondered whether it was too late to order another cup.

“I’m not entirely sure since I never brought it up with him again. But I think I can guess,” he laughed. It was the first time I’d seen him laugh that night.

Posted in short stories, Stories Stories Stories! | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Relief – part 1

“Do you have to breathe like that?” she asked sharply. Her voice had that edge to it the way it always did when she was about to pick a fight. Her eyes narrowed now and he imagined that if she were a tiger, she would jump over the table between them and then possibly maul him to death.

“Like what?”

She opened her mouth and rounded her lips into a circle and breathed noisily; like a runner gasping for air at the end of a long run. She glared at him as she mimicked his breathing.

“I don’t sound like that. I’m not that loud. Besides, this is the way I’ve always breathed. Why should I change now?”

“You should change it because it’s really annoying and I can’t concentrate on anything when I hear it. Can’t you breathe through your nose like regular people do?”

He didn’t say anything. He simply looked down at his plate and stabbed a slice of cucumber with his fork. He brought it to his mouth and crunched it noisily. She was still looking at him.

“Hello! I’m right here. Are you going to answer my question? Can you breathe through your nose like a regular person?”
He ignored her and stabbed a cherry tomato instead. The little red ball was juicy and it squirted him directly on the chin. Sarah laughed loudly.

“Even the tomatoes don’t like hearing you breathe,” she said triumphantly.

He stood up, pushed the chair back, walked to the door and slipped his feet into some shoes. He didn’t bother to tie them as he stepped out into the hallway. He could hear her laughing still as she called after him.

“Oh come on, Alex, don’t be so mad,” he heard her voice drifting toward him as he slammed the door shut behind him. He was standing on the backs of his shoes since he hadn’t bothered to put them on properly. He walked awkwardly over to the elevator and pushed the down button. He knelt down to put on the shoes as he waited for the elevator. The door slid open after a moment and Alex got on and pushed the button for the lobby.

It was chilly outside as he stepped out of the apartment building and into the fall night. It reminded him of that night in China years ago. He called me and asked me to meet him for coffee. He usually called me when he wanted to get something off his chest. I agreed to meet him in a few minutes.

The coffee shop always played jazz. Tonight, Duke Ellington gently floated through the small shop as I walked through the door.

When we had both sat down in the chairs at the back corner of the coffee shop with our cups, I asked him what the problem was. Instead of answering right away, he looked down at the black liquid in his cup for a moment.

“Bear with me for a minute ok? I just want to tell you a story,” he said. His eyes pleaded with me.
“Not a problem. I’d love to hear a story,” I replied with a smile. He nodded and began.

“I moved to China after I graduated from college. I went with a buddy of mine, Ray. We shared an apartment and taught English to freshmen at a technical college there. Neither of us spoke much Chinese at all beyond a few words like ‘hello,’ ‘goodbye,’ and ‘I don’t speak Chinese.’ So we had to rely on one of the Chinese teachers who lived in the same apartment building to take us to places that we wanted to go. The guy’s name was…” Alex tapped his chin with his forefinger as he tried to remember. “Kenneth!” He snapped his fingers and set his cup down on the table.

It was already past eight o clock and there were only a couple of other customers in the coffee shop. They looked like students. One flipped through a pile of note cards while the other tapped at his lap top computer. The girl behind the cash register wiped the back of the pastry display case.

“Kenneth used to get a little annoyed that we asked him to take us everywhere. He’d say ‘I’m not your translator.’ But we’d still be able to convince him to take us to places. So anyway, one night, Ray decided he needed a haircut. We’d seen plenty of barber shops around town but since we’d only been in China for a few weeks at that point, neither of us was confident enough in our Chinese to get a haircut. We were afraid that if the hair cutter didn’t know what we were saying, we might end up with Mohawks or perms or something. So we dragged Kenneth along with us one night after work.”

I nodded to show I was still listening and set my cup down on the table too.

“Up until then, we’d seen plenty of hair cutting places around but they were all very different from barber shops back home. There was usually one of those electric striped barber poles in front of the place and there would be a girl at the front whose only job seemed to be opening the door for customers and saying ‘welcome’ to them. Also, most of the barber shops have people who wash your hair and can do quick massages. And then, the barbers themselves weren’t at all like what they look like here in the States.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. I tried to picture a Chinese barber and an image of Bruce Lee holding a pair of scissors popped into my mind.

“I mean, the barbers there are these young guys who dress as cutting edge and fashionable as possible. Well, I mean, we’re talking about Chinese cutting edge fashion. So their hair will be dyed all sorts of colors. Their clothes are very trendy; like leather pants and medallions hanging around their necks.”

I chuckled at the thought of a blue haired rocker type cutting my hair.

Alex shook his head. “I tell you,” he said. “It doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence or hope when a guy who insists he’s not your translator, tells another guy with spiked orange hair and tight leather pants how to cut your hair in Chinese. I was betting that Ray would need to shave his head after the hair cut.”

“So anyway, we drag Kenneth with us to the closest hair cutting place to our apartment. It was some place with the striped barber pole spinning next to the glass doors. We didn’t see any customers but we went in anyway.”
Alex stopped to take a quick sip of coffee and then continued his story.

When Alex, Ray, and Kenneth stepped into the barber shop, they noticed that not only were there no customers, there were also no hair cutters. When Kenneth asked the manager at the front how much they charged for haircuts, the manager replied that they did not have anyone to cut hair at the moment. They did, however, he quickly added, have very reasonable priced massages available.

The man pointed behind them at a group of about twelve girls seated on a circular couch. The girls were all watching a television show but seemed a little bored. Kenneth repeated this to Ray and Alex in English.

“No thanks, man. I just need to get my hair cut,” Ray responded. He tugged at his bangs which did indeed look to be much too long for his round face.

“The manager says the massages are very cheap because there aren’t too many customers now,” Kenneth informed us.

“How much are they?” Alex asked. “Not because I need one, but just out of curiosity.”

Kenneth turned and asked the man.


At this point, Alex’s cell phone began ringing on the table in the coffee shop. He looked down at it.
“I’m not going to pick it up right now. I don’t feel like talking to Sarah,” he told me calmly.

“So, you guys had a fight?” I asked, setting my coffee cup down across from his. The girl behind the cash register checked her watch and then rearranged the napkins on the counter.

“Well, yes, but it’s something I don’t really feel all that eager to talk about. I’d much rather just tell you this story about China. Is it boring you?”

“No, not at all. I was really getting into it, but just thought you might want to, you know, get this stuff off your chest.”
He waved his hand dismissively.

“Later. Do you have time though?”

“Yes, definitely. Don’t worry about me,” I responded.
He continued.

“So, the manager told us the massages would be about thirty eight yuan or something like that,” Alex said. “I did some quick calculation and realized that it was less than five dollars US at the time. Ray said that at a price that cheap, we definitely needed to get a massage. So we asked Kenneth, who agreed, and the manager pointed again at the group of girls seated on the couch.”

– to be continued –

Posted in short stories, Stories Stories Stories! | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Crying Button

When I was a kid, my brothers and I had a tree fort. It was built high above the ground between three oak trees. When I think about it now, I realize that the fort was not particularly safe for children since we built it with our dad, who believed that duct tape could fix anything short of a broken marriage. In some cases, it might even have been able fix them too. We built the fort out of old lumber. The railings consisted of a single two by four on each side placed at about hip height for us. There was also a rope, which had a pulley, connecting the fort to another oak tree about forty feet away. This was our escape and the idea was that someone could slide from the fort to the ground by hanging onto a rope handle connected to the pulley. I remember the rope snapping on a couple of occasions when my brother and then a friend of ours tried to use the pulley-rope escape. Each of them fell to the ground and would have cried had the wind not been knocked out of them. Luckily, neither of them was seriously injured. This is the kind of fort we had.

Often, when guests with annoying children came over, my brothers and I would climb into the tree fort away from the little brats. Of course, when these kids saw that they were not allowed in the fort, they only wanted to enter it more. This is why my brothers and I had a bucket of acorns stored in the tree fort as ammunition against would be intruders.

One particular weekend, a family with two boys came over to visit. The younger of the two was named Jeffery. He was still afflicted by baby-speak although he was about five or maybe even six years old.  Jeffery could not pronounce the letter “R.” His r’s sounded like w’s. Consequently, Jeffery, when asked to introduce himself, would call himself “Jeff-we.”

After my younger brother, who was the same age as “Jeff-we,” and I scrambled up to our tree fort to escape these two boys, they ran after us and tried to approach the fort.

“Acorn time, David,” I said to my brother. We waited until the boys were in firing range and then unleashed a hailstorm of acorns at them from our perch. In about twenty seconds, the battle was over due to “Jeff-we” bawling like a baby.

“Something hit me on the head,” he screamed. “It felt like a wock.”

His crying sounded like a fire engine’s siren and I knew that my brother and I would be in trouble with Mom soon.


I have a hard time remembering the last time I cried. I recall choking up on several occasions. I believe my eyes have even started to water once or twice. But I simply do not remember the last time I actually sobbed and just let myself go.  I do not know why this is.

People always say that it is good to cry. In this day and age, even men are invited to “cry it out” as a sign that they are confident enough in their masculinity to release their sadness, frustration, etc.

I know all this.

I remember when my grandmother died. I must have been about eight years old. My family sat and wailed on our living room couch together when we got the news. We all hugged each other and sat for what must have been twenty minutes. When we were done, I remember feeling better. The release felt as though we had flushed away a lot of bad feelings. It was like having a stomach ache and going to the bathroom. When you are done, you flush the toilet, stand up and say, “ahhhh, I feel so much better.” (Maybe you don’t say that, but I do. I make it a point to say this in public bathrooms especially.)

I know I must have cried at some point after that, but I honestly cannot remember when. The next related incident that sticks in my mind was during my eighth grade year at my school in Indonesia. It was between classes and I was so angry at my classmate, Thomas, that I threw a small pink eraser at his back as hard as I could.

“Ow!” he yelled. “Don’t you know that really hurts?!”

I was so upset that I ran out of the classroom to avoid crying in front of him and his friends. If I did, he would have won our fight because winners do not cry unless they are winning an Olympic medal. Yet, this incident sticks out in my mind not because I was crying, but because I did not. I ran to the bathroom, stared at myself in the mirror and willed myself not to let the feeling overwhelm me.

Don’t even think about crying. Babies and girls cry. You don’t.  I thought to myself.

Since then, I do not believe I’ve cried. I have wanted to. Believe me, I have definitely wanted to.

I wanted to cry when I moved away to college for the first time. I think most kids are excited to go to college, but if your college was the one I went to, you would understand. I had never lived away from my family for an extended period of time and when I brought my luggage into the dorm room. I realized that I was no longer just a kid. From then on, I would virtually be an adult. I would not be able to expect my parents to be my final authority. I would not be able to go home after the end of a school day. I would not be able to sleep in my own bed. Most importantly, the college was run like a conservative, Christian, military school. This alone, should have reduced me to a bucket of tears. But, it did not. I slapped myself on the side of my face as hard as I could and held back the emotions.

I wanted to give in once more when I graduated from college and my parents could not be there because my dad had just suffered a debilitating stroke. Instead, I smiled and hugged my brothers and friends.

I wanted to cry at my grandfather’s funeral when literally my whole family was gathered around the casket saying their final farewells to him and not one of them had dry eyes. A lump the size of a basketball gathered in my throat but my eyes stayed dry.

Cry, damn it! I thought. I was sad enough to fill a swimming pool with tears that would not come. My body refused to cooperate with my emotions.

Someday, I would like to be able to cry on demand. I will press the little, red, round button located on my wrist. Immediately, tears will gather in my eyes and my knees will buckle. My breathing will become shuddering sobs and my body will begin shaking as the tears flow down my cheeks.

Instead, the rock inside me grows a little bigger each time I want to but cannot. Soon, I am afraid it will take up the whole interior of my body. Soon, if no tears come, I will become hard and dry. If I trip, I will shatter into gray, rocky chunks all over the sidewalk.


One winter night, we received two inches of snow at our house. Although there was not much, it was enough to topple one of the trees holding up our tree fort. I was upset at the time since the falling tree took our fort with it. We would now have to launch acorns at other kids from the ground.

I suppose, in retrospect, that this was a good thing. If a mere two inches of snow could bring down the oak tree, I imagine it could have fallen over at any time while one of us was up in the fort.

Posted in Wannabe Deep Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What is your favorite Fight and Fish story?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment