The Giving Tree

It has been just over two years since I donated one of my kidneys to my father. The exact date of the procedure being December 18th, 2014. It is a unique life experience that has brought me both joy and sense of accomplishment, but it has not been without its fair share of pain. I still don’t know exactly how to react to people’s shocked expressions when they find out about my story. A part of me feels good and is thankful for their kind words, but another part of me dislikes the false halo they’ve cast upon a young man who doesn’t have the slightest clue what he’s doing with his life. I definitely hate/feel uncomfortable when people say the word “hero”. That’s definitely not me. I don’t even like typing it. What I did wasn’t incredible. What was incredible was the cutting edge laparoscopic technology that top notch doctors used to make the procedure as minimally invasive as possible. I’m not brave. I was scared out of my mind. I don’t think I could go through something like that again without my guardian angel by my side every step of the way. Other than getting my wisdom teeth removed, I hadn’t had any type of surgery before that day, and even though my amazing mother donated her kidney and my lovely grandma received one, everyone experiences things differently. In that long week I spent in the hospital, I think I aged by twenty years. I saw first hand what running out of hope looks like as I made my nightly walker-assisted strolls down the halls of UCSF’s 9-Long. Eyes that are too dry to cry. It was a sight that reinforced my beliefs on maintaining close family relationships. I by no means did this out of some profound need to help people. I love my family, and my family loves me. They were in a time of great need, and I just so happened to be able to help. They would’ve done the same for me. It’s really just that plain and simple.

When you’re incapacitated in a hospital bed, you get to see who the people who really care about you are. Which friends come to visit, which relatives who are too far away to see you at least make a phone call, and how the most important person in your life decides to act during your time of need. I never even had to ask that person to stay. She was the first thing I saw waking up, and the last thing I saw falling asleep. For almost over a month she was my arms, legs, and my only sense of positive spirit. You helped me get in and out of bed, walk, shower, and even get dressed, and for that I am forever grateful. I still have so many mixed emotions about the whole ordeal and I don’t really understand why. I don’t regret anything I did, in fact I would do it again if it were both possible and or needed of me. Donating my kidney has changed how certain people see me. It’s granted me love from strangers along with opportunities I might otherwise have never had, but nothing is all sunshine and rainbows. Being one of the youngest living donors isn’t necessarily a title you want to have at only nineteen years of age. I’m twenty one now, and I’ll forever have dietary restrictions in order to keep my one remaining kidney healthy. People I thought I’d always know, have become distant strangers in my life. I suspect that the university I got accepted to, is realizing that perhaps they made a mistake letting in a kid who never even took the SATs or ever received a 4.0 report card. And scars that I were told would heal and fade away, are clear as ever across my body. I sometimes wonder if these changes are something I should take back if I could. But then, in that moment of doubt, I think back to my dad. I think about the fear and pain he experienced having to go through dialysis. I think about the late nights hearing my mom cry, as she tried her best to keep him calm and let him know that whatever happens we’ll make it work. And then, just like that, everything becomes as clear as my decision two years ago. I regret nothing.

This brings me to one of my favorite classic children’s stories, and my newest/most painful tattoo yet. I wanted to get something that didn’t necessarily highlight my personal story, and yet somehow still captured the essence of the gift of giving. I understand that it’s a sad story and that some people find it frustrating that the tree so willingly gives everything she has to a seemingly unappreciative boy, but I find her total selflessness as a proper step towards happiness. Sometimes we give away too much of ourselves and end up loosing a piece of who we are as part of the process. Other times it’s so bad that we let the world kill our kindness and vow a life of solitude. Then again, sometimes we are lucky enough to come across a soul that matches our own. We find someone that we actually want to give every part of ourself to. I’ve grown up in a middle class household. I don’t come from money, and yet I’ve been raised to see the world as an opportunity to lend a helping hand. I am not this positive of a person. To this day I struggle with how much I want to give to people. Whether it’s those who are closest to me, or the same homeless people I see scattered across the city on a daily basis, we all only have so much we can give to this world. I am by no means a giving tree. In fact, I’m not always even simply a kind/good person, but I think there is a profoundness is finding those worth giving everything for. I think pure bliss comes in finding people we’re willing to give all our leaves and branches to without hesitation, so that when we all eventually become stumps and think we have nothing left to give to this world, we can at least be happy. We can at least be reminded, that no matter what, we can always give love.

Loneliness

The world does not care about your loneliness
Rain clouds dissipate only once you’ve shed your hate
Sore shoulders from all the baggage you carry,
Bring light to the emotions you want to keep buried
Potential love in every face you see,
But you’ve become the very thing that nobody needs.

The world does not care about your loneliness
Time can be the cruelest of natural laws,
While her soul remains, the most beautiful thing you ever saw
Breathe in every moment, because no matter how hard you try, you never truly own it
The most tangled webs are spun from the kindest lies,
So maybe this is how an angel dies.

The world does not care about your loneliness
A stone may skip across water,
And yet a child grows up never knowing their father
Ashes rain down pieces of your past
Sometimes finishing first, feels like coming in last
To face the world alone, that may very well be the human condition
But sorrow will always beat you down into submission
Everyday familiar lips are all I long to kiss,
But the world does not care about your loneliness.

Numb

I’m not in any room that my body occupies. I no longer feel like I’m apart of this world around me. People come and go like the seasons and I could care less. I find it hard connecting with people old and new who are good to me. Everything is just noise. The world is filled with a deafening sound of people trying desperately to pass the time. Joe Schmoe talking to his friends about the big game or how he totally got with this one girl. Betty Sue laughing about a stupid meme her boyfriend sent her on her phone, while at the same time asking if her mascara is running. None of it fucking matters. Maybe it’s about time, but I have become selfish. I’m cold and detached. I begin and end each day the same way, angry. My knuckles are bruised from the violent outbursts when I just can’t take it anymore. I’ve run out of things to hit. My heart is full of so much hatred that I can’t seem to truly find a release. Not even things I use to love and crave calm me down anymore. It seems like drugs are the only thing that temporarily silence the voices in my head. The downward spiral started with fear, then that fear led to anger, now that anger brews a bitter hatred, and I know that the next emotion in this domino effect is suffering, and yet I can’t seem to stop the pieces from inevitably falling. I fought it for nearly twenty years, but the world has finally killed my innocence. I guess this is growing up. I don’t have any desire to partake in this new colorless world. Life in black and white just doesn’t feel worth living when you’ve been blessed with rainbows. I have no long term goals or dreams for my future. Whatever happens happens, I’m just simply going through the motions. Everyday I see the same train tracks and think to myself should I jump? I see the speedometer on my car and think maybe I should just pull this steering wheel? I mean who would even miss me if I were gone? Yes my parents would, but they don’t count. Who else would come to my service? Would anybody remember me years after I’m gone? I use to be scared of death because I was happy, because I saw it as a threat to that happiness, as this terrible black oblivion that would cease my desire to live forever; but now in my exhausted state, I almost welcome that great sleep. These aren’t just words. This isn’t some type of emotional art form I’m trying to tap into and mimic for girls who like to wear too much black and listen to my chemical romance. This is me opening up a direct line into my psyche, and transferring the thoughts that plague my daily routines into written words. People keep asking me am I okay? Of course I’m not fucking okay. I mean are any of us? How could you possibly know how I feel? You might say you hurt as well, but your pain is self inflicted, and when you’re the one holding the knife, you control how deeply you want it to cut. Me on the other hand, I have no control over my wounds. I never realized how much of my body is scars.

I don’t know why I keep falling down the rabbit hole, why I don’t listen to any of the warning signs. Maybe I’m addicted to pain because I’m scared of becoming numb. I reached total numbness once before and it wasn’t until I started to love again that I realized how close to the edge I truly was. I’d take feeling pain over feeling nothing any day. That’s also largely why I want to be a clinical psychologist, so I can learn how to better carry people’s pain for them. I will always gladly take the demons that haunt the ones I love and let them live inside me instead of them, because that is what you did for me and you didn’t even realize it. It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply. And yet I know that no matter how hard I try to be cold, this is who I truly am. That’s part of the reason why I tattooed a heart on my sleeve, because that’s often where I wear it. On the one hand I know that I still have important things left to do. That I still have so much love in me to give to someone special, but I don’t know if it can ever be matched. I don’t know why I give so much of myself to people. Why I so willingly give away all of my leaves and branches and expect to be fine in the end. It only leads to heart ache, because when I fall I don’t just fall, I break. I wish I was as strong and intimidating as I can sometimes seem to people who don’t know me, but I’m not. I use to think I could be your Superman whenever you needed saving, but I’ve flown too close to the sun and now my wings have melted completely off. It’s easy to be the hero, but it’s hard to be the one who needs saving.

(G-Eazy cover)

(Intro)
Give or take win or lose, the life we want ain’t always the one we choose,
but if you know who you are then the costs are few,
too bad opportunity only comes around once for you…

(Verse 1)
Yeah…one word at a time, the bigger the dream the higher the climb, the old me he got left behind, and now I’m reinventing who I find, I…
Will not get lost in this ocean, disregard the constant notion that fear is my only emotion, so…my whole vibe is love it all, fuck who tells you different they’re just acting fucking pitiful, the irony is, into a pit they’ll fall, robbing someone of their happiness is oh so criminal…but I though my ship was unsinkable! HA!
I use to think life was gravy, I don’t know whats got me lately, feels like I’ve been going crazy, shit! It’s like nothing here can phase me, my own fault for what now pains me,
chances of rapping like I’m Shady, Slim! But that’s the cost cause he’s the boss, they say choose wisely and know when to take a loss, but I do whatever it takes to make the catch word to Randy Moss, yeah, so now I’ll toss, into the next bar, a metaphor for my hunger call me Rick Ross bitch (RUH!) Yo, I am not the usual, my skills indisputable, box you up like a cubicle damn…I struggle with fighting through, laugh and see what that’s gonna do, I’ll buss your ass like I’m taking you to school, I’m no fool, my mind is a weapon so everything I say is too, jaw dropper mentality, I’d kill for my friends and family, but not enough strength in these arms is my reality…

(Break)
Sometimes I think these feelings will never stop, so what’s the point of trying to read the clock? I know opportunity is said to knock, but how can I reach your heart when you always change the locks? Well, I just can’t keep hating cause the Grim Reaper he is waiting for this monster that I’m making, I’m trapped…but not for long cause…

(Verse 2)
I’m breaking out this very song! Out the park like Barry Bonds! Trying to cross out all my wrongs! The list of things I want goes on and on, fuck you world this ain’t what we agreed upon! I’m a big fish stuck in a little pond, how do I spit like the angry blonde?! To infinity and FAR beyond! Because my love for you is always STRONG! If harnessed?! It could create an atomic bomb! And I’m just being honest, cause this right here my conquest, I can’t stop until you know who’s the hottest! You feel me? Cause this right here the real me, I never claimed to be a G, man I feel like no one here believes in me, so ya’ll just going to have to wait and see, if I wanted I could conduct a fucking symphony! Nah, I’m just playing, but my attitude towards greatness is what I’m trying to convey in, to my rhymes, to the mottos I memorize, look into my eyes if you think I’m speaking lies, ya’ll just neck ties,
strangled by who you think you are, but the truth couldn’t be more far, because opportunity is like a shooting star! Now are you going to catch it? Or are you going to continue living life wondering who you are?

(Outro)
Nothing in this world makes much sense…so you might as well make a wish right?

In The Past

(Verse 1)
It was back when the world use to make sense,
it was back when gasoline only cost 99 cents,
it was back when it didn’t matter where you were from,
it was back when children didn’t have to survive by carrying a gun,
man I wish I could speak with the passionate words of a preacher, and write something so deep that the student suddenly became the teacher, and the opposition forgot how to speak, then I’d know that I’ve finally reached my destination,
we take and we take and yet we’re still the richest nation?
I see what I want, but my runway is fogged, that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel might as well be God, because my God, love seems like a feeling of the past, something that just went to waste, why can’t I accept the way the world now tastes…?

(Hook)
All I ever wanted was you to see me,
All I ever wanted was you to hear me,
All I ever wanted was you to love me the way I love you,
But loving someone forever is something we can’t all do,
So I guess I was just pieces, of what you really needed…

(Bridge x2)
It doesn’t matter if come in first or last,
because from now on there’s no more living in the past (yeah I said)

(Verse 2)
Young and dumb, words we would hate to be called, so we disconnected from the world,
ironically by plugging in, we wore a fake smile, we lived in denial,
because happiness isn’t always happening, sometimes it takes awhile,
so we medicate away the symptoms of our pain but never treat the real causes,
yeah we won the war, but what was the cost of our great losses?
How long can we keep our emotions hidden? When the pressure to succeed has risen,
we like to act like not a single fuck is being given, but inside we’re scared, we’re just human, so we’re already impaired, and sometimes you just feel like you’re all alone,
I wonder why it is that we hurt the ones we claim to love most? I don’t know, so lets go ahead and have a toast, a toast to the hard times, don’t worry, someday everything will be fine, there has to be more to life than chasing that dollar sign,
man I think true love is what every soul on Earth deserves to find…

(Hook)
All I ever wanted was you to see me,
All I ever wanted was you to hear me,
All I ever wanted was you to love me the way I love you,
But loving someone forever is something we can’t all do,
So I guess I was just pieces, of what you really needed…

(Bridge x2)
It doesn’t matter if come in first or last,
because from now on there’s no more living in the past (yeah I said)

Lead You On (MGK cover)

(Hook)
Twice I turned my back on you…
I fell flat on my face but didn’t lose…
Was it the blue light?
Gone fragile?
Was it above the man?
In a wonder, steady going under…

(Verse 1)
Someone pull me up cause I’m sinking fast, like a retired athlete I’m just living in the past, I gotta open my eyes before I fucking crash, 120 is what it says right on the dash, I’m getting kinda scared don’t wanna raise any alarm but I look down and there’s blood dripping from my both of my palms, but I need it, I feel it, it’s a different kind of feeling, but now I watch what I wear cause I’m ashamed, look at what you’ve done, who is this freak that you’ve become? Man put that shit down stop playing with that gun, I looked at myself in the mirror and nothing got any clearer the only solace is knowing the end is that much nearer, and all I see in that mirror, is an insecure kid who’s fucking fat, like what girl would ever want a piece of that? So I, spit up everything I eat and try for some much needed sleep, but this has gotta be my fifth suicidal dream this week…damn

(Hook)
Twice I turned my back on you…
I fell flat on my face but didn’t lose…
Was it the blue light?
Gone fragile?
Was it above the man?
In a wonder, steady going under…

(Verse 2)
I feel the world slipping right from my grasp, I stare at the clocks waiting for it all to pass, I thought I was in first, but really I came in last, I thought I was made of steel, but really I’m just glass, we all fall apart, our edges become so sharp, and so we hurt the ones who fucked with our hearts, but really it’s, just defense mechanisms for future acts of terrorism, my expectations for happiness haven’t exactly risen, where do I go from here? My path is no longer clear, it’s cloudy with a chance of showers, sometimes I think I’ve gone crazy trying to waste away the hours, I’ve become scared of being left alone, because bad things happen when I’m forced to be on my own, everyday it’ll rain? Please I’m stuck in a snow storm and you’re just heading into another mans’ arms, while I’m sitting here thinking fuck you Bruno Mars I hate you and all your stupid fucking songs, every word you speak is so fucking wrong, but fuck it, nobody cares about the trash, so just throw me away and good memories of me will pass, don’t worry, no need to say goodbye, because inside these songs I can hide, I’ll be fine…

(Hook)
Twice I turned my back on you…
I fell flat on my face but didn’t lose…
Was it the blue light?
Gone fragile?
Was it above the man?
In a wonder, steady going under…

(Verse 3)
Man I feel like it doesn’t even matter how hard you try, I could spend an entire lifetime wondering why?! But I’m already dead inside, and now the skies are always grey, who knows if I’m going to be able to make it out alive today? So was any of it worth it? Fuck I don’t know, hate has taken over and now it’s all that I know, so lets take a leap of faith, off this here cliff, HERE…I…GO…

Stay Awake

Everyone knows that famous Aerosmith song where Steven Tyler belts out “I don’t want to close my eyes, don’t want to fall asleep cause I’d miss you baby, and I don’t want to miss a thing”. It’s a beautiful sentiment when you’re so full of love it’s coming out your ears, but when you lose that person you don’t want to spend a single second without, it’s a living nightmare. For me, I don’t want to close my eyes because you’re all I see. I don’t want to fall asleep because the dream of us together is better than my reality. I know deep down that I’m exhausted and I need to sleep more, but my unconscious mind is what makes the longing I fight during the day utterly unbearable. Sometimes dreams feel so real when we’re in them that waking up from them feels like you’ve been wronged or cheated of something. It’s as if you’ve just finished painting a picture and just as you step back to look upon your proud creation, someone comes along and rips it to shreds. I don’t know how to get the thought of you out of my head when you’re literally the woman of my dreams. The scary thing is though I know where this path leads. It’s a slippery slope. I’ve seen with my own eyes how someone can deteriorate into almost nothing when they choose the dream over reality. But who could blame them right? In your head you’re in control, you’re the captain of the ship, but in the real world you’re just a passenger going along for the ride.

It’s crazy to think of how I’d sometimes enjoy sleeping alone. That I ever took for granted how special it is to share a bed with the one you love. Yes maybe she hogged the covers but she was so cute doing it that it never truly bothered you. I mean God forbid she always wanted to snuggle with your stupid ass and have you hold her, because she loved being by your side that much. Man I can’t believe I ever had the fucking nerve to say “not right now”, “it’s too hot”, or “no I’m comfortable the way I’m already laying”, because now the mornings are the toughest battles I face each day. They’re so painful because I still think you’re here lying next to me. I still make sure you have the fluffiest pillow on your side of the bed because I know how damn picky you always are with your comfort. Fuck, I even still call it “your side of the bed”. I even still feel the need to roll over in the middle of the night sometimes and make sure you’re warm enough. And when I can’t sleep, or my nightmares keep me up, all I want to do is rest my head between your breast and shoulder and listen to your heart beat. One of life’s cruelest tricks are in those infinitesimal moments where you’re first waking up and you haven’t yet realized that it’s all in your mind. No matter how many times I’m fooled into thinking you’re there, I’ll never get over how much it hurts to reach out and expect your body to fit perfectly with mine, only to instead have my arm fall down onto nothing but cold sheets. And that’s when the downward spiral of negative thoughts begins. That knife I feel in my stomach when I imagine what guy gets to lay by your side and keep you warm at night now. I know people say “time heals all”, but that’s honestly one of the shittiest pieces of advice you can give somebody going through something. I know I can’t battle sleep forever. I know I’ll always lose that fight. But for right now I have to stay awake. I can’t keep seeing you in my dreams and then waking up wondering if I ever enter yours? I have to stay awake.