His Name Was James

It’s crazy to think of all the little things we seem to overlook when it becomes routine. We’re so used to people, things, feelings, interactions – whether big or small, on a daily basis. Most times, little things in our routine change, sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes it’s not, sometimes you don’t even notice the change, and sometimes you realize it but keep it movin’ because what can you do?

For over 6-ish years, my dad and I literally crossed paths with an old man from our neighborhood almost every day. He was a Japanese old man, probably in his 70’s or 80’s, it’s hard to tell because he seemed to be in good health – being that he would talk to my dad every day during his morning walk. He had white hair, that kind of hairstyle where they’re bald in the middle, but he covered it with a Golden State Warriors championship hat, usually with a matching blue Golden State Warriors Letterman-type jacket. And his most important feature – his smile. He was always in a good mood, with a huge smile on his face. He just radiated kindness. My little sister and I described him as the “cute old man.”

For years, it was routine for me to walk out of the garage to find my dad talking to this man. How did they even get close? I don’t even know. My dad is the type of guy that smiles and says good morning to strangers if they so happen to walk by our house. My sisters and I have crazy schedules, between my older sister’s job, and at the time my little sister & I’s changing school and work schedules, my dad was basically always chillin infront of our house anywhere from 7:30 am to 1 pm, waiting for the next daughter he had to drop off (bless my dad’s heart, he works hard as hell.) before he leaves for work at 1 pm.

When I would walk out of the garage to get in the car, I would already expect my dad to be talking to this kind old man. When they would see me, my dad would say something along the lines of “Well, there’s my next customer!” The old man, with his charming warm smile, would wave at me as I say goodmorning to him, and he would tell my dad, “Ah! Taxi, your next rider is here!” He would say departing words to my dad, and 10 see ya later’s/goodbye’s we would be on our way. My dad would get in the car with a big smile on his face, close the garage, and pull out of our driveway. All the while, our friend would be waiting infront of our house for us to drive away, we’d wave goodbye, he’d do the same, and then we’d drive off. Through the mirror I’d see him continuing his morning walk, going up the hill towards the stop lights. This was routine. Every day.

My dad would tell me little bits and pieces of this man he got to know over the years. He knew he was Japanese, that he had an adult son he wasn’t close to because of the son’s troubled past, his wife had passed away and he was living alone, and he basically had no family in the area. He lived a block away from us, which is why our paths crossed plenty of times during his daily walks. He expressed to my dad that his next door neighbor was his friend, who was on his Will to obtain his house and belongings when he was to pass away.

As the years went by, gradually, things began to change. It seemed that we would pass by him on our car ride to school or Bart, when in the past, he would already be talking to my dad in the driveway way before we got out. It seemed that either our times weren’t lining up, we left earlier, or he started his walks later. All of this was so minuscule to me at the time, but now that I look back, I see that it was his health declining. My dad would make comments that he would see him taking a few steps and pausing. He was getting weaker and older, but still he persisted on with his daily walks. Everytime we passed by him in the car, my dad would honk. The old man would smile and lift up his whole arm to say hello, and we went about our drive. It made me sad to think that my dad and him didn’t talk as often, because it seemed like our times weren’t matching up anymore. Like I said, schedules changed, he was getting older/ walking slower, and we just seemed to see him in passing.

As time went on, it went from seeing him everyday, to seeing him every other day, to seeing him once a week. Gradually, we saw him less and less. This was all over a span of years, so it didn’t seem too drastic as how I explain it now. Like I said, we get so used to routine, that little changes in our day seem so minor, until you look back and realize it’s no longer the same.

The last time I could remember seeing our friend was around November 2018. I want to say sometime after Thanksgiving. It was a brief encounter since I was on the way to school. From what I remember he came walking up our street just as we were about to get in the car. They talked about the Warriors briefly, and that was that.

In February 2019, it had been months since we seen him. I asked my dad a few times before if he had seen the old man recently, and he also said he hadn’t seen him in a while. My dad thought that he had passed away since we hadn’t seen him in months. I brought it up a few more times, and when I didn’t verbally ask my dad, I thought about it everytime I got in the car in the morning and we didn’t see him.

Finally, one night when my dad and I got home, I brought up to my little sister how we haven’t seen the old man in very long. My dad agreed that it had been such a long time, that he’s pretty sure he had passed away. He also told us that he drove past his house a couple days before and saw a big container in the driveway filled with belongings, further explaining why he’s been M.I.A. That thought made my little sister freak out, even though I knew it was a huge possibility. My dad enthusiastically said , “Ok, Marinelle, tomorrow before I go to work, we’ll drive by his house and knock on the door.” This made me happy but at the same time sadness had taken over me. I thought it would be good to get closure on our longtime friend, but I had a gut feeling that it wouldn’t be what I expected. I doubted that he was at home just chillin this whole time, but a part of me still clung to hope that it was a possibility.

My little sister was bummed that she wouldn’t be present when my dad and I planned to go since she would be at school. I asked my dad how he even knew where he lived, and he said, “I’ve been in his house before! In his garage.” My dad also brought up how he would give the old man bread from the bakery, after dropping some off to my grandpa. My dad said he would see him walking by and would give him a portion of our family’s share. All these things we never knew, my dad going to his house, giving him bread, all these aspects of this man’s life that we had no idea of.

“… wait…. do you even know his name…” I asked my dad.

“…….I think its Steven? Steve?”

“Bruh! How have you been talking to him for years and not even know his name?!” Yes, I called my dad ‘bruh.’

“I…… I don’t know it never came up…” My dad said sheepishly.

“Did he know your name?”

“You know, I don’t think so. We might have said it maybe 1 time and we never called each other by name.”

The next day before my dad went to work, we drove the block to the old man’s house. The big container my dad was talking about was gone. There was no car in the driveway. My dad got out of the car and made his way to the house. I lost sight of my dad since the stairs were located on the side of the house. But I did hear a bell ringing. Not a doorbell, but an actual bell that you have to “gong.” After about 5 minutes my dad came back to the car.

“Yeah, he didn’t answer… I think he passed away,” my dad said.

“Was that a real bell?”

“Yeah, he said his doorbell wasn’t working so he just has a lot of bells.”

I felt bad that my dad didn’t get any closure. I looked at the old man’s house again. I saw that his neighbor 2 houses down was outside cleaning her car.

“Go ask his neighbor, or you’ll never know,” I told my dad. My dad’s a shy dude, so I expected him to say Nahhhhhh and drive off and forever wonder. To my surprise he agreed and got out of the car.

I watched as my dad approached the middle aged lady. She was cleaning her car and had to turn off her vacuum. From the car I could hear my dad say “… yeah, he’d be walking all the time.” After about 3 minutes my dad returned.

He got in the car and explained that he asked the neighbor about the old man that lived in “that” house.

“Oh, James? He passed away a couple months ago,” she told my dad.

My dad went on to say that he knew he passed away because it was so long since the last time we seen him. I said atleast we knew for sure and wouldn’t have to be wondering anymore. It was a pretty depressing moment and my dad said how the whole situation was just sad. I tried to brighten up the mood and car ride…

“Bruh, you said his name was Steve.” I said. My dad laughed and shook his head.

When I texted the group chat with my sisters and told them that James had passed away, my little sister texted back that she was actually tearing. He was a familiar face that we saw almost daily. His smile and positive upbeat attitude will always be the first thing I think about when I remember him. Mornings aren’t the same as they used to be. But nothing stays the same. These small routines and conversations were just that at the time – small routines that you don’t think twice about. But now that he’s gone, it makes us think of him everytime we pull out of the driveway to start off our day / morning.

His name was James.

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Podcast Episode #1 : Rose Vixen

I got paired with this really sweet girl in my Women Gender Studies GWAR class. We had to edit each other’s rough drafts, and I was very self conscious about mine. The professor let each of us pick whatever topic we wanted to write about for a final research paper. Of course, I went for what I was into – the Body Positive Community.

I explained to my partner that I had so much to say and this was a topic I’m very passionate about. She told me she really loved my topic and thought it was an important one to shed light on. At the end of class, she humbly and casually said, “I actually have an Istagram account that has a following in the Body Positive Community, I can help you.” Little did I know that my randomly selected partner was actually a well-known member of the community, who went by the name Rose Vixen. (@bbw.vixen on Instagram.)

Rose Vixen was the bomb. She told me certain things I should search up to bulk up my paper, told me the stories of her and fellow BoPo members being discriminated against, and different angles I could write from.

When I made my podcast, I knew I wanted the first real episode to be about the Body Positive Community. I’m so glad and thankful that Rose Vixen let me interview her! Check out Love Yourz Story Podcast Episode #1 with Rose Vixen:

Love Yourz Story Podcast

I always wanted to start a podcast, but never had the guts to do it. Of course, like everything I’m too scared to do, it somehow turned into a class assignment. It’s like the universe knows what I want and knows I’m too scared to do it on my own, so I get the final push from professors. Here is the trailer to my podcast. Basically my blog audio version. Stay tuned 💕

Analyzing My Instagram

I made this video of myself where I analyze my Instagram feed and ask myself the questions: Why am I posting this? How do I want people to perceive me? How do I accomplish the image I’m trying to portray on social media? Is my social media accurate with what’s going on in my real life? I analyzed my Instagram and came up with 5 things about me that I try to reflect online. I’ve realized that I really want people to know that 1. I’m a writer, 2. I have a blog, 3. I’m obsessed with J.Cole, 4. I’m from the Bay Area, and 5. I’m a body positive advocate and a feminist. I’ve provided screenshots from my actual Instagram profile to be completely open and truthful, but to also show what specific pictures and posts I’m talking about.

I thought it was important to dissect social media in particular because it’s such a big part of our lives. I personally think that people try so hard to uphold a certain image online, and at times, it can be very detrimental to ourselves and others. We tend to compare our lives to those around us, and if all we see are curated, happy, “I’m livin’ my best life,” photos all the time, it can leave some viewers feeling like they need to measure up to something unachievable. It’s like a competition of “Who has the better life?” It’s more common to see happy pictures and moments posted up on the ‘gram, rather than in-depth self-reflecting posts. I’ve written a couple stories on social media and the effects it has on people and how they view themselves. And I’ve found that social media tends to make people feel worse about themselves- whether that be their appearance, their self-esteem, their jobs, their life decisions, or their life in general. Social media is so readily available to view, but this also opens the door for constant criticism and comparing. People are so fixed on broadcasting certain aspects of their lives, but you will never really know the entirety of someone’s life through social media. You’ll just know what they want you to know, what they choose to show you. Like I said in my video, it’s like playing mind games with your followers. It’s not like we’re doing anything malicious, but it’s still trying to persuade your audience to view you in a certain way.

When I was analyzing my Instagram and asking myself these questions as to why I posted them, and what image I’m trying to project, I had my moment. One of those self-reflecting moments where you’re sitting there trying to make sense of everything, and all of a sudden the stars align and everything makes sense and you hit enlightenment. Just kidding, it wasn’t that deep. But I really had a moment of clarity, where I’m like, “ohhhhh…. Ok, so that’s what I’m trying to show, because X, Y, Z.” I think that’s what’s really important. The why behind what we post. What’s the motive? What is it accomplishing? Is the explanation as to why I post things detrimental, or a toxic way of thinking? I believe self-reflecting this way can help someone see their real motives. When I was recording myself talking about why I post things, I felt a little embarrassed to give my “why.” Only because we’re so used to uploading things with a witty or meaningful caption, but never the reason behind posting.

You’ll only know what they want you to know, is what I’m leaving with after this video. Even if someone documents their everyday life regularly, you’ll never really know someone’s truth just by their social media accounts. I was scrolling through my profile and chuckled in my brain a little. Yeah, y’all know I’m a writer, I broadcast it all over and post up my work consistently. But did you know that I’m actually very insecure about posting my work? Did you know that I sometimes wonder if I should even post it up because I have that doubt of, “who will even care?” Yeah, I have a blog. But did you know that I only made it because a class required me to? And did you know that I wanted to make a blog before that but never had the courage to do it? Did you know I kept the blog a secret- aside from those in my class- for about 6 months because I wasn’t confident enough to publicize it? Yeah, J.Cole is my favorite artist of all time… Actually, there’s no revelation for this point, haha. I fuck with J.Cole and I don’t care if you get annoyed of my J.Cole posts J . Yeah, I’m from the Bay Area and proud! But did you know that I constantly beat myself up over the fact that I probably have to live and settle down somewhere else because of how ridiculously expensive it is here? Did you know that I see the neighborhoods that I grew up in changing, and that it makes me really sad? Yeah, I identify as a body positive advocate and feminist. But did you know that I still have those days where I struggle to accept my body? Were you aware that I am so passionate about this topic that I cried in front of my whole class when pitching a body positive podcast idea to a well-known podcaster? Probably not. And that’s my point.

There is so much more to you that your audience will never know. You are the only person that can figure out your why. I’m putting this out there in hopes that someone views it and it changes them, or impacts them in a positive way. I hope that if anyone decides to analyze their own social media, and they realize they’re posting for toxic behaviors, that they reflect on it and find peace within themselves.

XPRESS MAGAZINE- “MIDDLE CHILD SYNDROME”

Ignored. Lacks guidance. Jealous. Rebellious. Resentful. Overlooked. Wild child. Smack dabbed in the middle – Ahh, characteristics of your typical middle child expressing the effects of Middle Child Syndrome.

Many believe that Middle Child Syndrome is not a real thing. Some believe it’s just a term used to excuse the way some middle children act, while others will argue that it is indeed a real thing, and believe that birth order plays a huge role in one’s personality.

CONTINUE READING:

http://xpressmagazine.org/2018/08/01/middle-child-syndrome/

XPRESS MAGAZINE – “I GOT THE POST-GRAD BLUES”

LINK TO MY ARTICLE, ” I GOT THE POST-GRAD BLUES” : http://xpressmagazine.org/2018/07/24/i-got-the-post-grad-blues/

I’m the kind of girl that always needs some sort of plan. I need to know what’s going to happen in the future, and plan out every aspect of my life because I’m terrified of not knowing.

I’m graduating this December, and saying I’m stressed out and filled with anxiety would be an understatement. Seriously, I think about my post-grad life so much that I’m already planning for my future meltdowns 😓. I’ve spent basically my whole life as a student – it’s all I know. So I know once I graduate it’ll be a huge transition, and I honestly don’t know what to expect and won’t know how to handle it until I get to that point.

Obviously, graduating has been on my mind heavy since my day is coming very soon. And since I’m naturally a curious worrier, I decided to write about alumni and their experiences with post-grad depression. It’s one of those topics that don’t get talked about often, but in reality, a lot of people struggle with life after graduation. The day they’ve been dreaming about is finally over. But what happens after receiving the diploma? They feel stagnant, they’re thrown out into the real world, and can’t help but compare themselves to their peers that seem to be ahead in the game. Talking to alumni AND a professor that have gone through the “post-grad blues,” really made me realize that everyone adjusts differently, but in the end, we all have our own paths and journeys that we have to go through. Change is scary. Life after graduation is scary. But talking about it, mentally preparing / being realistic, not comparing yourself to others and their accomplishments, and realizing that these emotions are NORMAL will help get you through it.

Kids Club

Blue carpet with colorful crayons that not only was on the floor, but also covered 40% of the wall. TV to my left, doorway with a half door to my right. If I look straight ahead I see the random column, also covered in that blue carpet.

This was my view for 4 years. I got my first job at the Kids Club in 2014, and it closed down officially June 1, 2018.

The start of this year, I got a new job at a preschool/ daycare, but I still worked at the Kids Club on Saturdays. Even when I had a new job, I couldn’t fully cut ties with my “roots.” There were rumors of the Kids Club closing, but I honestly didn’t think they would follow through, or if they did, it would be waaaayy after I graduated and have a Journalism related job. Wrong.

As I worked my last Kids Club shift, I started reminiscing on the last 4 years. All the people I met, all the parents I got close to, all the children I got to see grow right before my eyes, and the memories I’ll never get to relive. CHEEEEEESEEEEE. Yeah, I’m being cheesy as hell. But let me break it down…

This job was my new start in 2014. I was on my second semester in community college, I got myself out of a toxic relationship a month prior to getting hired, I just declared my major as “Early Childhood Education,” and this was my first job. Not only my first job ever, but also related to the field I wanted to get into. It was the start to my beginning.

When I first started working, the group of co-workers there were like my family. Even though we all went our separate ways, there’s a couple that I keep in touch with often and send non-stop memes to. I met so many people while working in the Kids Club. I noticed that I got close to a lot of the parents. On many occasions, I was the listening ear. Though I was (still am) young, many mothers looked to me for advice, to vent, to tell about their day or life in general. I built a lot of friendships with the mothers that used the Kids Club. I’ve heard their stories, I’ve heard their struggles, I’ve heard their side, I’ve heard (supposedly) the other side, I’ve heard what they’ve been through, I’ve heard the nasty drama they went through, I’ve heard their insecurities, I’ve heard the deepest parts of them that they so eagerly wanted to reveal and felt comfortable revealing to me.

I’ve always been all about the tea and beef. 🐸☕ Ironically, I try to avoid drama within my own life, but when it’s someone else’s drama I’m like YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, SPILL THE TEA RIIIGHTTTT NOWWWWW, UPDATE MEEEEEE. I guess I’ve always been interested in other people’s lives, but not only in a nosey way, but also because I want to help somehow or give some type of input. A mom from the Kids Club would tell me all the time how she valued me as a friend because how wise I am for my age, and how I keep it real with her regardless of how she would react.

I’m realizing now that maybe this job steered me into the path I’m at now. I knew I ALWAYS wanted to write. I declared “Early Childhood Education” as my major, but I felt like I was settling. I love kids. I’ve always been good with kids. So 18 years old, fresh out of high school, in community college with an undeclared major, I’m like…. fuck it, just declare child development because you know you’re good at it. But deep down I knew I was taking the easy road – Not saying at all that it’s an easy job. I still work with children as I work towards my degree, and it is no easy task. But for me personally, I knew that I chose to play it safe because I was too scared to actually follow through with writing.

But how would I make a living off writing? What if it flops? Who even cares what I have to say? What if people think my work sucks? What writing major can take me further and open up more than one path?

But working at the Kids Club also made me realize that I was in the wrong major. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the kids, but something in me was like, you know… this is a great job for now, but you know that you’ll feel unfulfilled if you stay in this major because you’re too scared to take a chance with something else…

So I switched…. And I switched….. then I was undeclared…. then I switched again. And found myself in journalism. I’m glad I took many classes to see what I really was into. But for me, I always had to have a plan. Where would this major take me? What other opportunities can it get me if I don’t get that particular job I have in mind for this major? But at this point I was like: bro, this is the start of my 3rd year in community college, I need to transfer already. Yeah, Journalism, yeah, writing, sure, ok, DECLARED. I think I declared journalism as my major before I even took classes on it. I would over think every major I went into (and switched out of), but it’s funny that the major I stuck with, was a no brainer. I didn’t want to over think because I felt like I wasted a lot of time doing that. And partly, I was tired of switching. I wanted to pick something and transfer out already. I figured as long as it’s writing, I’ll figure it out. I was always uncertain if I was on the right track. And if I’m being real, there were many times where I was close to switching back to Early Childhood Education because I was afraid of the unknown.

It probably wasn’t until transferring to SF State that I realized this was for me. I realized journalism didn’t mean only hard news. Journalism was anything that I was interested in, with sources to back it up. People think journalism is just writing and doing breaking news, but it teaches so many other skills that can really take you down multiple paths. I realized that I’ve been doing journalism all along. My interest in other people’s lives and wanting to know their emotions / situations were pointing to journalism this whole time. In the beginning I wanted to write for entertainment, made up stories that I concoct in my head. But the more classes I took, I found myself wanting to use my work to put out a message. I wanted to inspire, to inform, to make some type of difference in the world even if my audience are a few individuals. What I wanted to do was right in front of me the whole time.

When I think of the Kids Club closing I get sad. I feel like it was such a big part of my life. I did a lot of growing and met a lot of people there. 4 years, I did a lot of thinking, self reflecting, crying, laughing, stressing, etc, in those 4 walls covered in blue carpet with crayons.

The Kids Club will always remind me of our love story. That was truly the beginning. When Christian and I first started talking I’d be trapped in the Kids Room while he worked front desk. I’d look forward to those “bathroom breaks” he’d take, and I would so happen to be standing at the door so we could talk. 😂 I fell inlove with my co-worker, and we have the gym to thank for it.

I knew I wouldn’t be working at a gym daycare forever. I knew this day would come, where I had to let go of my first job. I’m such an over thinker that I can’t help but look at the last 4 years like a movie. All the things I went through, how much I grew, all the shit that happened in those 4 years, it’s crazy!

Just the thought of knowing that the room doesn’t exist anymore makes me sigh. Time is changing and time waits for no one. It’s like the end of an era almost. I guess the universe has a way of forcing you to move on and do better things in your life. I was always hesitant to find a new job or move on. It seemed like everyone I worked with found better opportunities but I was too afraid to find mine. I was afraid of the unknown. I didn’t want things to change because if it changed, that means I’m back to square 1, taking a chance on my decisions. And I didn’t want to do that. But at the end of the 2017 I knew it was time to start another chapter. I found the job I’m currently in and started January 2018, while still working the Kids Club on Saturdays. Not 1 month into my new job, and talks about closing the Kids Club started going around. And here we are 5 months later and it’s closed for good. I felt like it was meant to be. That the universe was like “bruh you ain’t neva gonna leave, we gotta close this shit for you to leave.” 😂😂😂😂

Change will happen regardless. My last shift, most of the parents took down my number for future babysitting. I looked at the walls, covered in drawings. Some of the artists of the drawings have moved away for years already. I sifted through the DVD ruins, and got the movies that I brought throughout the years. My “Kids Club” movie was over.

I told Christian that we had to take a picture inside since that room had so much meaning to me and our relationship. We got one of the new workers to take our picture, *snap* *snap* *snap*, 20 snaps later and our Photoshoot was over. I turned off the lights and closed the half door behind me. That’s a wrap.

Photo above taken by Manager B.P.