Spring Break

Here is an excerpt from my memoir, The Complex Mind Of A Good Kid In A Cruel World”

Who’s Up For A Road Trip!

In Spring 2007, I went on a road trip to Miami with four of my friends. I was totally anxious when we agreed to go on this Spring Break trip. I am not the type of person who likes to go out of his comfort zone. I had barely gotten used to my Houston surroundings and now I was agreeing to go on a road trip with four other people to Miami, Florida.

But it was at this time when I felt like I was slowly coming out of my shell. My social life outside of going to class and attending the social group was basically non-existent. Going on a road trip to Miami felt like a perfect opportunity to expose myself and take risks. Get out of my comfort zone and see what else exists in this place called America.

And so it was agreed that we would rent a car, budget for fuel and motels, and set off on Sunday before the Spring Break week started. Our itinerary would include stops in New Orleans, Orlando, Miami, and on the way back, a brief stop in Alabama.

What’s the worst that could happen?


I Got Drunk On Bourbon Street

We arrived in New Orleans just in time for Mardi Gras. Ahmet, my Turkish friend, knew someone in New Orleans who we met up with to take us Burbon Street (A name which did not disappoint). We hang out at his place for a bit. Just drinking and trying out his hookah. I had no idea those things were flavored! I smoked one that had an orange flavor. It was delicious.

We all headed to Bourbon Street after that. I was basically the baby of the group. I was 20 years old at the time and the drinking age was 21 in New Orleans. (I think it’s kind of ridiculous because America allows 18-year-olds to officially own guns but having a 20-year-old consume alcohol is where you draw the line? Whatever.)

Me being 20 years made getting in bars a bit tricky because bouncers would always ask for ID and me being “Mr Goody Two Shoes” didn’t have a fake ID. This ID Card theme played out in other places along the way. But that didn’t stop me from having fun. There was one spot along Bourbon Street in which I managed to sneak past the bouncer at the entrance by wearing a hoodie and basically camouflaging myself into the club.

Now I knew why I didn’t like going to places like nightclubs in the first place. It was an overload for my senses. A lot of people, loud music, drinks and hot girls. I was really out of my element. There were girls dancing on tables, seductively looking at my camera as I took their picture.

As the night went on, one of my friends brought me a drink. The drink was called a grenade.

A grenade? Yep. That’s what they called it. Imagine a long green transparent hollow cylinder with a grenade looking shape at the end of it. It looked like a weed bong but it was filled with an alcoholic beverage.

It was great. You could taste the liquor in it but it was disguised to be so sweet and so I can’t help myself and just kept drinking. I drank it like it was a soda drink which turned out to be a BIG mistake.

When the blurry vision started, walking a straight line became a problem. Plus, I was SUPER hungry. If I didn’t eat something soon, I was going to pass out.

Luckily, Bourbon Street had some food spots. I found a little food joint along the way and that’s when I realized that I was low on cash. I spotted an ATM close by and went to withdraw money.*

*Pro-Tip: Don’t go to an ATM when you’re NOT sober. What I’m saying is, don’t drink and withdraw. Thank me later.

I don’t remember how much I took out of the ATM. All I know is, I pulled out way TOO much cash because I couldn’t figure out if the machine was giving me the option of $20 or $200.

When I got back to the food joint, I could barely order what I wanted to eat. I was slurring and couldn’t speak well. Probably the effects of the alcohol. I somehow managed to blurt out (or rather point out) that I wanted some Po-Rice with beans (A New Orleans meal).

I was halfway through my meal when I felt some of the food I was eating started to rise up in my throat. I felt like I was going to puke. I don’t think I would have been able to look my friends in the eye if I just puked my meal all over the floor because I couldn’t handle my alcohol. I stopped eating, took a few minutes to regain myself and the feeling of throwing up passed. Unfortunately, so did my appetite. I had barely eaten half of the meal. It was a waste of money and good food.

The next thing I remember is that I’m sitting upstairs at some make shift bar and club. My friends are on the balcony chatting up some girls and I’m sitting on the couch drinking a bottle of water with my camera in my hand. I’m just nodding my head to the music when this gorgeous blonde walks upstairs into the bar. She made everybody turn heads. But it wasn’t because she was attractive. It was because she was wearing NOTHING but a pair of knee high black boots. I am saying that this blonde woman was nude and wearing nothing except for a pair of boots and a couple of Mardi Gras beads around her neck. She had a cigarette in one hand and a drink in her other hand. So I did whatever half drunk young man would do in that situation and I just stared at her boobs from my chair. They were huge and obviously fake. But do you think my half drunk self cared about that? Not in the slightest. I was getting a free nude show and didn’t have a care in the world.

The naked blonde must have been drunk or high because she looked like she was in her own world. Ignoring everyone and just doing her own thing. I taped the whole thing but unfortunately, I lost the video footage and pictures somehow. (Sorry perverts)

My friends and I continued our escapade throughout the night. We went to different spots and bars, threw beads on girls who flashed us their boobs, sat through a swimsuit beauty pageant. I drunkenly made out with a woman which I don’t really remember because I was drunk (duh). We even run into the naked blonde again who was still drunk or high.

Getting close to 12am, we decided to call it a night. We had to leave in the morning for our next location. As we walked through Bourbon Street, girls were yelling on top of terraces. They were teasing with their shirts with some guys on the ground yelling for them to flash their boobs. Some of the drunk ones take their shirts off and beads shoot up to the terraces.

What a party. Welcome to Mardi Gras.


PSA: Thank You For Smoking

Let me take this time to tell you about the time I tried smoking cigarettes. It was an experimental thing. Before we packed and left for Spring break, I had gone into a store on campus and bought a pack of Rothmans cigarettes along with a lighter.

What made me decide to try smoking at this point?

Sheer curiosity.

I never understood the point of smoking. I had read different experiences online from people who were smokers. Some shared good experiences. Some shared bad experiences.

Being the naturally curious person that I was, I researched about smoking. I read about the risks of smoking and even watched Youtube videos on how to smoke. If I felt like I was getting addicted, I would stop at once. The goal of the experiment was to smoke a whole pack and see what the end results were. So I started my cigarette smoking experiment after New Orleans.

So what was my first smoke like? Weird. Bad. Awful. It left a “smoky” taste in my mouth. It wasn’t great. But it wasn’t that awful. Just wanted to see it all the way through.

The experiment keeps going as we continued towards Miami. I was halfway done with my cigarette pack when we were in Orlando. At this point, I didn’t get the point of smoking but I could see where the addiction came from. I did notice my anxiety would go gone down a bit when I lit one up. Some say the nicotine has that effect. I can also say that cigarettes definitely affects your appetite. That taste in your mouth definitely makes you not want to eat a meal. Eating a cheeseburger after you smoked a cigarette just didn’t seem appealing.

My cigarette pack was almost empty by the time we were in Miami. The experiment was over. No more cigarettes for me.

The lesson I got from smoking cigarettes? It makes your mouth taste like shit.


Miami Beach

We finally got to Miami. Ahmet insisted that we play Will Smith’s “Miami” song through the car speakers. It was definitely a cheesy moment but it was a cool cheesy.

Miami. My goodness. Miami was glorious. The weather was great and the girls were very good looking. But Miami was expensive. My goodness. If you want to live near Miami Bank, your bank account better have a lot of 0s in it. The price for fuel at the time in Miami was about $4.20. Back in Texas, it was about $2.50. Huge difference.

The first thing we wanted to do was to go to South Beach. It had to be done. Unfortunately, it was spring break and so EVERYBODY was on the beach. Trying to find a place to settle at the beach was hard. I was not a fan of crowds in the first place so trying to relax at a crowded beach was no challenging.

So we skipped the beach after a couple of minutes and take a little stroll. There were just hot girls everywhere. A lot of expensive cars too. I think I saw two Lamborghini back to back drive down South Beach.

Miami, Beaches, Girls

At one point we all split up and agreed to meet up later. During my walk, I stumbled upon a tattoo parlor. I don’t know if it was the excitement of the whole Miami trip or if there was something in the air but I made very rash decision to walk into the store and get a tattoo.

(PSA: Don’t try to get a tattoo in the spur of the moment. It’s not smart. Ask all girls with tattoos on their lower backs)

When I walked in, I saw this gorgeous lady talking to the tattoo artist about getting a new tattoo. She was wearing jean shorts and an orange top which showed off her stomach. You could have eaten ice cream off that stomach. But let’s not go there right now. The artist told me to look around and he would attend to me soon.

This was a bad idea. I knew it was a bad idea. What the hell was I doing trying to get a tattoo in Miami Beach?? Thankfully, I came to my senses and walked out of there before I made an awful decision.

The whole Miami experience was a bit much for me. A lot things were expensive. The girls were way too pretty and out of my league. It was all kind of superficial for me. Miami was way out of my league. I’m a simple guy and I like simple things.

After our South Beach experience, we left back to Houston. Our Spring Break road trip was a success. It had been a great experience. I wish I could have taken more road trips with my friends. We even spoke about doing one to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition.

Perhaps, one day, we could all get in touch and do another crazy trip.

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My Second Crush (Or How I Became An Athlete Overnight)

Remember the first crush I wrote about? The girl named Michelle (Not her real name by the way). The girl who was smart and stuff and I didn’t have the guts or confidence to approach her? Well, she was old news and I found someone new to crush on.

For now, let’s call her Kay.

Kay was cute, smart and intelligent (For some reason, I keep falling for the smart girls). She had a killer smile and I loved her laugh. You would think at this point I would have mustered up enough confidence to talk to girls right? Nope! I was still in my cowardly lion phase. Still scared of the “what if” scenarios. There was no way I could approach her and just try to have a normal conversation. Plus, she was kind of super serious when it came to school. She seemed to be in her books and stuff. The impression was that she didn’t really want to be sidelined with stuff like boys or relationships. But I had to something to get her attention. I couldn’t impress her with my super smarts because honestly, she was WAY smarter than me.

Nope! I was still in my cowardly lion phase. Still scared of the “what if” scenarios. There was no way I could approach her and just try to have a normal conversation. Plus, she was kind of super serious when it came to school. She seemed to be in her books and there was this impression that she didn’t really want to be sidelined with stuff like boys or relationships. But I had to do something to get her attention. I couldn’t impress her with my super smarts because honestly, she was WAY smarter than me.

I had to do something. I had to get her attention. But how was I going to do it? How was I going to get her to notice me?

By becoming an athlete overnight.


On Your Marks….

I had always liked sports. I grew up watching Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls win championship after championship. Unfortunately, I could never play sports because I wore glasses. It would have been great to have worn contact lenses but at the time, the hard glass contact lenses were available and I wasn’t comfortable with wearing those. So my dreams of one day playing professional basketball weren’t going to happen anything soon. But wearing glasses was not going to stop me from trying to impress my new crush at school.

The school was having its annual track and field event and anybody could join in and compete. It was going to be team based with different houses competing. When I’m talking houses, think Harry Potter and how he and his friends were in their houses like Ravenclaw and Slytherin (Note to Harry Potter fans, I know Harry Potter was in the Gryffindor house. I’m just making a point).

I found out that Kay was in my house! What a coincidence. I was totally going to compete in a track and field event to try and impress her. The first event was going to a marathon run and anybody who wanted to participate could join it.

Bingo! That was my perfect chance to make an impression.

I decided that I would run this race for no other purpose other than to get noticed by Kay. Why? Because I’m a complex human being who didn’t understand that conversations with other fellow human beings can go a long way than physically exerting yourself in a long ass marathon race.

I told my friend David about running the marathon and he said he wanted to join in. So David became my training partner.

So every afternoon, David and I would go practice running around the school area. Eventually, we were joined by a couple of other people who were also partaking in the marathon. This marathon run was either going to help me make an impression on Kay or it was going to kill me.


I Run A Marathon And All I Got Was A “Good Job”

The day for the race was finally here. I was going to run my first marathon and I was SUPER nervous. My adrenaline was in high gear. Honestly, I wanted to NOT race anymore. I could have just said “screw it” and not run. But I had put in so much effort especially with training and I didn’t want it to go to waste. So I had to man up and just go ahead and do what I had to do.

The school marathon officials made an announcement that all official runners should make their way to the starting line. There must have been about a 100 people in the race. My stomach was doing somersaults and backflips as I approached the starting line. All I wanted was for the race to start and be over. My plan for the marathon race was to try and not finish in LAST place. That would have been a bad look for myself and probably would killed any chance of making an impression with my school crush.

“On your marks!”

We were all set. The race was finally about to begin.

“Get set!”

There was backing out now.

BANG! The race gun was fired and we were off to the races. I started off with a slow jog but EVERYONE started with a sprint. A sprint! I was quickly falling behind and had to increase my speed to keep up with the pack. After a couple of minutes, people started their slow jog which was good for me because sprinting in a marathon at the start was not a good idea.

The race had officially started and there was no quitting now. Running is an interesting sport. During some periods of running, there is always some form of doubt that creeps into your head. A voice seems to whisper to you that “hey, it’s not a bad idea to stop running and just walk.” You just have to persevere and push that voice aside and keep running. Thanks to my weekly

Marathon running is an interesting sport. During some periods of running, there is always some form of doubt that creeps into your head. A voice seems to whisper to you and says, “Hey, it’s not a bad idea to stop running and just walk.” You kind of have to persevere and push that voice away and keep running. Thanks to my weekly training, I had built a bit of mental strength to push off those doubts.

I had a very good friend who was very encouraging during my marathon race. He wasn’t officially part of the race and was volunteering to help out with water distribution for the runners.

“Don’t think about stopping”, “Just keep going”, “You’re doing good, keep it up” were some of the things he would say as we kept running. It was like having a personal trainer at the gym telling you to do more push up even though you’ve done about 50 of them.

By the first hour of the marathon (I have no idea how long we had been running at this point), I had built a rhythm with my jogging. The voice of doubt in my head kept creeping in and telling me to walk. But I knew that if I stopped jogging, I wouldn’t be able to gather the energy to start up again. So I just kept jogging, hoping to get to the finish line which felt so far away. I didn’t know how long I had been going. The concept of time didn’t matter anymore. I didn’t care about getting a top position. My priority was just to finish the race.

I managed to pass other runners who had basically said “screw it” and had started walking. It was a bit of a confidence booster. I knew that at least I wouldn’t be in last place. It felt like I had been jogging forever when I got to a spot where I recognized as the final stretch of the race path. I was almost done. I could finish the race and then collapse on the floor and have my school crush notice me and tell me how cool I was. (That was what I was thinking in my head).

I was almost done! I could finish the race and then collapse on the floor and have my school crush notice me and tell me how cool I was (wishful thinking).

My friend was at my side during that stretch. He was in my ear, motivating me with his words of encouragement. But at this point, it actually started to get annoying. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate him telling me not to stop running and keep going. But now he was that same gym trainer who is telling you that you should do one more rep on the bench press machine with the weights. But you know you’ve done enough and don’t want to do one more rep or you’ll crush your chest.

“I get it! Enough” I said to him with what little energy I had. I think he got the message so backed off a bit. I gave him a thumbs up to signify that I was thanking him for his help.

I never knew how much of a competitive person I was till I started this marathon race. Even though I didn’t really care about what position I finished in, it didn’t stop me from wanting to outrace anyone who was in my peripheral. During the final stretch, I noticed someone in front of me. He could hear my footsteps and so he looked back and saw me coming. He then started to increase his pace a little. I did the same. I wanted to pass him. Badly. I even broke into a half sprint. With the all reserve energy in my tank, I sped up to try and catch him. He noticed what I was doing and then he started sprinting too. Now it became a race.

I wanted to pass him. Badly. I even broke into a half sprint. With the all reserve energy in my tank, I sped up to try and catch him. He noticed what I was doing and then he started sprinting too. Now it became a race.

I even broke into a half sprint. With the all reserve energy in my tank, I sped up to try and catch him. He noticed what I was doing and then he started sprinting as well. Now it became a race.

The final stretch of my first even marathon turned into a sprint. There were students on the sidelines on the final stretch of the race cheering me on to try and catch up. But I realized that it was not going to happen as we drew closer to the finish line. I slowed my pace and gave up the idea of trying to catch up to the person in front of me. I had done my best.

I eventually crossed the finish line, completing my first ever marathon. I slowly walked onto the big soccer field where all the teams were. Tired and worn out, I looked for my fellow house team mates. I eventually found them, looked for a nice landing spot on the grass and allowed my body to crumble to the floor. I was exhausted! My legs hurt. My chest hurt. I just pass out and take a very long nap.

I was exhausted! My legs hurt. My chest hurt. I just wanted to pass out and take a very long nap.

But I had set out to do what I wanted. I wanted to run a marathon race and I had done it. It was all that mattered. My school crush had noticed. She came over to my limp body and asked if I was OK.

This should be the part where it turns all fairytale and I say that this is how we feel in love and it was all great from there. But this is reality and life is cruel and complex.

“Yeah. I’m fine. I’m just exhausted,” I said, almost barely audible.

“You did good. Well done” She said with a smile. She then walked away to see the other runners who were crossing the finish line.

That was it. No hug. No kiss on the cheek. No staying by my side as I recovered from a long ass race. Nothing.

I just laid there on the floor, trying to get my body to recover. I eventually closed my eyes and finally relaxed. I had run this stupid race to impress a girl and I don’t even know if it worked. What a dope!

It was later on after everyone had crossed the finish line before they told me that I had placed around 13th or 15th in the race. Not bad for a

Not bad for a first-time marathon runner.


Abandon All Hope

Kay was kryptonite. I couldn’t get close to her. When she was in class, she was in school mode. You almost had to wait for that perfect opportunity when she was distracted to try and catch her attention. But there was never any opportunity for me to do that.

It all seemed to prove futile. I just wasn’t going to impress her and get her to notice me. I wasn’t going to be that guy who was going put himself out and get shot down. Back then, I wasn’t a big risk taker. The marathon was the first time I had decided to do something out of my comfort zone. It had felt good but now I was back in my neutral position.

Me having a crush on someone is the worst. I can never have a face to face conversation because I was always worried about how I would come across. The confidence just wasn’t there. I guess that’s what being an introvert is like. It’s easy for someone else to say that I should just go have a conversation with her. But for me, that’s like going to the edge of a cliff and telling me to jump into the water below. The problem is that I can’t swim and I’m afraid of heights.

And so I never jumped. I just stood at the edge of the cliff and stared into the water, wondering if I could ever jump. I would just go through the “what if” scenarios in my head, letting chances slip away. The endless cycle starts and doesn’t seem to stop. In the end, I would just back off from the cliff and tell myself that it’s not worth it.

You abandon all hope and tell yourself it’s not worth it. Hopefully, someone else will come along.

Crushes are the worst.

Loyalty

Always on my mind
No longer hanging on the fence
Driving together in fast cars
I think she has me in suspense
All that I ever need
Made for each other
Throw away all the envy and jealousy
Loyal to the cause
She deserves all the medals and trophies
Throw in all the ovations and all the applause
We both go down with the ship
If it’s a shoot-out
Better trust that we both go down with empty clips
Loyalty like diamonds of the rarest kind
She’s my jade stone, she’s only my
Girls like that so hard to find
Soul so rare, it blows my mind
Down for whatever
That’s all I need
She’s my queen and that’s royalty

Creatives Are Full Of Themselves

Creatives are full of themselves
Thinking that the art that they birth into the world
can solve the suffering and pain of their fellow man
Thinking that they’re all that and a bag of chips
Not knowing we can see when their egos swell
When the applause goes up and stage lights bloom
But they’re just empty like the rest
Surrounding themselves with others like themselves
Talking creative ideas and creative things
Using their powers to make creative pieces
But outside of their creative bubble
They can’t see what they are
Individuals who think they’re woke
Because they read books and make words dance at will
Thinking they relate to the world and its pain
Trying to use technology to spread messages of love
But they can’t even save themselves
They look at you like an outsider
Someone who doesn’t speak their language in their presence
I see these cliques gather and pay no mind to their surroundings
Comforting themselves as they lay in their own depression
Trying to positive think their way out of the reality
That they constructed themselves
So I say they can go f*ck themselves and their tribe
Because I too have painted my own blood on canvases
Painting living nightmares that haunt my spirit
I too fought demons of depression and loneliness
Taking pills which took away my ability to write
Dreaming of making love to death, and dancing off into eternity
I too am alone, awake at night as the world sleeps like the dead in the grave
But I know the world is cruel as doesn’t deserve my love
Creative are full of themselves
But the world needs more of them
To keep writing pages and letters of love
Creatives maybe be full of themselves
But in them, I can see the glimmer of hope
The spark that is needed for the next generation

The Reaping

I hear the sirens in the distance
Their echoing songs play
Makes you wonder how many souls died today
On the corner stands another place of worship
Men of God reciting their daily script
When the end comes, where will they stand
Because the Reaping is coming to GH land

Black smoke hangs in the sky
The sun turning everything to haze
Past glory, this place has seen better days
The insects feast on the filth in the streets
But the people are proud, of their so called peace
Hypocrisy is full to the brim, drink as much as you can
Because the reaping is coming to Gh land

I don’t love this country,I can’t stand the scene
The people frown in frustration, masking their silent screams
Crabs in a bucket, they pull you down to their level
Saints with rusted halos, I’ve seen more honesty from the devil
Everyman for himself, prepare as much as you can
The reaping is coming to GH land

It will start in the places, where you think you’re safe
But I advice you to flee this place
Envy in their eyes, they will come for what’s yours
Not caring about the blood they spill on the floor
Prepare for the heartbreak, Prepare for the onslaught
The Reaping is coming to Ghana
Whether you like it or not

Untitled #3

I ran my fingers through her hair
Listening to her steady breathing as she rests my head on her chest
I wonder if she dreams of a life without me
Wondering if she realizes that my emotions take time to manifest
Will she stay or jump ship like a sailor on a sinking ship
A ship damaged from sailing to close to the rocks
Scrapping the sides and losing some of it’s precious cargo
I have nightmares of her wondering off into the night
Finding comfort in the bosom of her one true love
So I intend to grip her close because I’m selfish
Keeping her prisoner
Knowing that I can’t give her half of my heart
I run my fingers through her hair
Hoping the scent never leaves my hand
Because eventually, I know she will leave me

Tattoo

When the needle hit the skin
It was like I was stung by a hot pin
The ink made its way into my body
following a path outlined by the artist
Anxiety came up, asking if this was a bad decision
Questioning my actions like a disappointed mother
The needle continued its journey
My body forcing to relax as it tried to accept this willful torture
Out of my comfort zone
Making decisions out of feelings and dismissing logic
I needed a symbol to remind me of constant struggle
Something to make permanent
A statement that I had lived this far and not given up
Because I have been searching for purpose in a clueless realm
Searching for peace amidst chaos
Looking for love with a full heart
But now I am lost and misunderstood
So when the ink dries off and my body readjusts
I can look at that permanent mark to remind me
that in the end
I’m just a human being searching for serenity