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A Work In Progress
Warning: "If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think everything you're supposed to think? Buy everything you're supposed to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic…."
Tyler Durden in "Fight Club"
The look on your face right now is my fire, my inspiration, its what I live for. The shock, distress, or fear that can so easily be instilled in the depths of people by a few choice words is astonishing. Easy enough to understand right… WRONG! You can't judge something when in reality you don't know the first thing about it. So with this in mind, lets turn the clock back, shall we?
"DAMN IT!" I yelled as my head hits the roof of the car. My mother drove over what had seemed like the twentieth pothole in the last ten minutes or so. This was a normal Thursday afternoon routine for me … I was on my way to baseball practice at The Dust Bowl in my parents' sweet ride, a blue 1979 Chevy Impala. I was thirteen years old and living in Sunset Park, so naturally I thought it was the coolest thing to act "ghetto." However, all my "yo son" and "OD kid" crap was permanently halted by the next five words my mother spoke.
"Did you hear about Sammy?" she asked me. "No, what happened?" I asked in confusion. She then told me that she had heard on 1010 WINS that a teenager named Sammy Rivera had shot up an apartment the night before and was incarcerated. Sammy was a freshman at Fort Hamilton at this time. He wasn't an overly frightening person, only standing an average 5'7 135lbs, and I just couldn't fathom where he would get the idea to go shoot up an apartment. I frantically grabbed at my belt for my phone and chirped all of my friends, informing them of what I had just been told. When I arrived home after practice I turned on the radio and the news, and after almost an hour of waiting I found out the disturbing truth. Sammy, who was only 15 years old, was a Latin King. Two nights before he broke into an apartment on 54th street and shot six times, killing Barbara Nieves, a 19-year old innocent girl and injuring a man and his pregnant girlfriend.
The next morning I purchased the Daily News and New York Post. Staring blankly at his pictures in the articles and thought to myself, "You're in handcuffs and you still have that same cocky look in your eyes." Apparently he had assumed he would be getting away with his crime, because he was dressed as usual "rockin a purple tee and fresh dunks." For three years I had been hanging out with a Latin King, a killer, and a complete fake. He swore on multiple occasions that he wasn't in a gang, and always became angry when people didn't believe him. It occurred to me at this time how much of a moron I was for trusting Sammy, and promised myself that I would never be involved with a person like that ever again.
The Calendar now reads September 2005, and this is my second official school day in Bishop Ford. Eyes still crusted over from my healthy four hours of sleep the previous night, I walked in the door of Room 130 just as my Nextel i860 glowed 8:29am and plopped down in my seat … clearly psyched for the upcoming Global lesson. As the bell rang, my teacher Ms. Sebro wearing her oh so fashionable, trademark purple eye shadow, slammed the door and began yelling at the class to quiet down. Just as her screaming reached its peak, she was halted by the sound of knuckles hitting fiberglass.
I recognized the kid who walked through the door, "He's in a few of my classes." I thought to myself. He hobbled down the first row, encumbered by a black plastic cast that encased his right foot. The answer to my next question was already answered for me, because he was wearing a gray "Bishop Ford Football" pullover. Ms. Sebro then decided to yell at him (but not before looking at her attendance sheet) asking, "Why are you late Michael?" "MIKE! Right, that's his name." I thought. With the whole class hoping to be amused by his inevitable reprimanding, Mike shockingly shot back boldly saying "I have a cast on my foot. What do you expect me to do?" I smirked as she then instructed my class to open our textbooks, obviously attributed to her lack of a rebuddle.
Later that day after catching me staring at his hair (trying to decide whether it was red or blonde), Mike introduced himself to me in Biology. I told him I knew his name already, and quickly joined in cracking jokes with him on Ty, who sat right behind us. I realized that day that Mike was pretty funny, and something also told me he probably wasn't a Latin King. Come to think of it, it might have been the red hair.
Fast-forward a few weeks. After missing my first day of school, I once again stroll into Global first period, except this time I noticed a new girl sitting across the room. Even while sitting in her desk I noticed that she was on the short side. I also noticed her long curly hair, short black skirt, and the cute smile she had. What stood out above all other things though, was the pain that I could see in her eyes. She had an "I don't care" demeanor, but once I saw her brown eyes so full of hurt and betrayal I knew she wasn't just any ordinary girl. As the class went on Ms. Sebro mentioned her name, it was Amanda. I guess you can say I was considering "mackin it," but I thought better of it.
A couple days later, I remember trying to pull off the whole "stupid and funny" thing to seem cool. Ms. Sebro was complaining about her stomach hurting, so being the genius I am, I asked her right before the bell rang, "Are you pregnant?" As I was walking out of the class, Amanda walked up to me, gave me a solid two second stare, and said "You know, I've noticed you're really rude, immature, and obnoxious." Dumbfounded, I barely managed to stutter "W-w-what?" before she strutted out of the classroom.
I decided in about the middle of October to create a profile on Sconex.com (a website for high school students). So after setting everything up, I was searching for people to friend request, and would you check that out, I came across her page. "What the hell." I said to myself as I clicked the link to request her. Later that night, she had probably been tired and not cared who requested her, so she accepted the friend request. I was surprised, and when I saw her screen name on her profile, I took a chance.
The beginning of our conversation was awkward, and full of one word answers like hi, yea, and the famous "lol." After about five minutes of trying to be nice and prove I wasn't just another jerk, I gave up. I just left her alone, figuring "Hey I made the gesture so if she wants to PMS then let her."
I had thought at the beginning that she was different, and you know what? I was absolutely right. She IMed me about ten minutes later with sort of a trick question. "Are all guys the same?" she asked me. We talk about showing vs. telling in English class; well I guess it can be applied to real-life situations as well. I knew exactly what she was talking about because I looked at her profile earlier, and I listened to what she had to say and gave her my opinion on everything she asked me. We talked online for about five hours that night, something most guys not aiming to score would consider a waste. I listened, I talked, and I actually cared, something most guys my age can't even fake the right way.
Alright, so now its December 13th 2007 and its 7:03am. I opened up Microsoft Word and started this at about 2am. Do you know why? Its because I was doing my usual Myspace and Limewire routine until I got tired, when I put on a song by Hoobastank called "The Reason." When I started listening to it, I began thinking about my friends and my life, and the frustrating search for a memoir topic came to an end. It just keeps playing over and over in my head now:
"I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning…
I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you"
Yes, the reason is you Sammy. The reason is you Mike. The reason is you Amanda. All of my friends are the reason behind my better grades, my better attitude towards my parents, and at the same time allow me to keep the promise I made to myself. They have all helped me in their own ways, and although I'm not perfect I'm becoming a better person. Whenever I begin to act like an jerk I just imagine the faces of the people staring down the barrel of the gun Sammy pointed at them, and I realize that in order to "claim my humanity" I have to be my own person. I have kept my promise to this point, because I know that the person I was held me back and in order to move forward and be successful I have to let go of the negatives in my life. I believe Tyler Durden said it best when he uttered the words, "It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything." I guess I'll see where life takes me.
To Be Continued . . .