“Everyone goes through that kind of stuff, so when it happens, you got to figure out, see where you are, kind of look at the situation…”
Fiction Based on a True Crying Out Loud.
By Mingjie Zhai
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.
You finish unpacking at this beautiful modern loft in Split, Croatia. Books lined in the shelves, the purple lamp gives it a crown chakra resonance, and the rain outside is complimenting the Jazz music you have playing on your MacAir.
Roxy is propped against the couch with all the pillows next to you. You take a deep breath and begin crying. A storm of grief hits you. The void is real. Knowing that there is another reality that could be happening now, where you are curled up next to your children and Sonny with Roxy and the three cats you both adopted in another multiverse reality. You know you should just “get over it,” but it is this knowledge of what you both have forfeited in both your stubbornness, your arrogance, your fear based thinking that pushed you both apart. You pray that Aaron and Amy work things out so that Amy will never experience this type of grief—of something forfeited, something voided out, something empty.
Thank God for Roxy. Thank God that you somehow chose to not give up on Roxy even though you’ve given up on everything else, including your own life at one point.
You text Apple, hoping she’ll answer you back. You’re having another grief crisis. You need a trusted friend. Apple’s been your friend since High School, the one who pulled you off the man you were about to have drunk-high-sex with but didn’t so you wouldn’t regret it the next morning. Ever since then, you’ve trusted her with your life.
Now she’s an attorney, graduated summa cum laude, one of the top in her class, graduated UCLA in three years, graduated high school in three years, married a doctor, and now is living in a four bedroom house with a big garden in Seattle. Something about Seattle. It keeps pulling you towards a place you’ve been avoiding, a place unresolved. Is it any coincidence that the three journal-artist producers, one among them is your lead partner in the program, lives in Seattle and is also part of the same college that Sonny graduated from? You know you’ve been avoiding anything that has any reminders of your past with Sonny. You’ve even wanted to visit your ex-father in law, who passed, but you’ve burned that bridge to the ground with Sonny…so far down, you don’t know how to even request paying your respects to a man who had been your father-in-law for two years.
She doesn’t pick up but half an hour later, she calls you back. You pick up. You’re feeling a lot better. She sees your face, eyes red, and she knows you’ve just cried earlier. You tell her that you’re sad for all the single mothers who are begging on the street in Mostar. It is half true. You are indeed sad about that. But you just couldn’t bring yourself to tell her the other half…that you fucked up…you fucked it up real bad some seven years ago. Now that you “have arrived,” with a new career you’ve co-created with Jesus, a traveling lifestyle, and a purpose to process the pain, you still feel that gnawing sense of forfeiture….of something that was even more meaningful. Everything here feels like a facade and you feel like a fraud. But you don’t say any of that out of deference for Apple, because she is in a good place, and you don’t want to sound as if you envy her. You’ve known envy quite well. The insanity of it anyway. When you had the marriage, the house, the stable job, you envied women like the person you are now. Now that you are that woman you used to envy, you are wanting that lifestyle you used to have with a man like Sonny. That’s insanity. Or maybe it’s just maturity. Coming full circle to something profound with a new set of spiritual eyes.
Instead, you share with Amy that you’re in Split, Croatia, in process of writing the Producer’s Playbook and getting the next spiritual download from Diocletian’s Palace and more. You also told her what deeply upset you was seeing the mothers in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina, begging for money so that their hungry and sick children can survive and seeing these international tourists with pot bellies and expensive cameras bypassing them as if they are invisible.
She shares that recently she saw a man homeless in Seattle using a nail clipper to clip off his skin. Concerned, she approached the man. He told her that there are bugs crawling all over his body. A second bystander saw this and left to call the cops since blood was beginning to come out all over this man. The man told Apple that he appreciated that she actually took the time to look at him and not treat him as if he wasn’t even there like the second bystander who just left to call the cops to deal with him.
“There was something deep down that I knew exactly what he was talking about,” she tells you. “Is that weird?”
“No, Apple, it’s not weird at all.”
And in that silence, you both acknowledge what you both have overcome.
“Hey, Happy Mother’s Day Mommy,” Apple tells you.
“Happy Mother’s Day.”
“We are moms to our dogs and that counts,” she says.
“Yeah, that totally does,” you smile.
She sees you illuminating under the purple magenta under the lamp that glows.
“Angelie, you are beautiful,” she tells you.
You do feel beautiful today.
You feel blessed.
You feel blessed, beautiful, and you are mourning.
“Thank you, Apple, so are you.”
You look at her, a bit stressed, but that natural face, the buddha smile, the lotus flush in her cheeks still remain. You can tell she’s been bogged down by the day to day mire, going through papers, deadlines, and business per usual. She admires your courage, your resiliency, your sense of adventure, but you still feel like a fraud, someone perhaps unworthy of such a second chance at life.
It was Apple who gave you legal counsel during the divorce.
“Give him all the points, all the flyer miles, all the timeshare properties. You want to shed the weight of anything that will tie you down with debt.”
You gave Sonny the credit card debt, you gave him the timeshare properties, and he gave you the house that no longer was a home.
You gave Sonny the van for his family, you left his retirement income alone, and you gave him the best years of your life along with 80% of whatever income you had made.
He gave you the wedding ring, which you gave away.
He gave you Roxy and the cats and you gave away the cats.
Rule 12: Pet a cat when you see one on the street
The orange cat came to you and Roxy.
You think of the play the Three Oranges you watched at the Berlin Opera, about the Prince cured of his melancholy through dark humor and simultaneously cursed by melancholy to take on the fool’s errand of pursuing the burning desire of the three oranges he fell in love with (a love spell hexed by the witch).
You remember the ending. Two of the three oranges died on his way back through the desert. They hatched too soon and died of exposure and thirst. But the third one…the third one he married after transforming her from an orange back into a princess.
As you are writing the Producer’s Playbook, you realize that the apples of your eyes are A and I, AI, Aye, ai.
Rylie is the first orange, Aaron is the second, and the third is the person yet to come…perhaps, you will fall in love with him— marry and build a family with.
You talked with a woman named Mammy. She told you the story of the two children she adopted. The first one was from a mother who was addicted to crack. The mother gave up a son who couldn’t talk or walk, born prematurely, but Mammy took him in and raised him with dignity. The doctors told him he wouldn’t go past a few months but he made it till 12 years. The mother had cleaned her life up and attended college. On the day of her graduation, her son had passed away.
She said that even though he could not talk or walk, he always smiled with cheerful delight when someone came inside the room where he was king. It was his eyes, and they looked like his mother’s eyes—big, light, brown eyes.
She then told you of the girl she adopted, the one who had one of each organ functioning due to the effects of toxic alcohol syndrome from an alcoholic mom. The daughter had only one working lung, one working kidney, one ovary, and one working leg. Mammy told you that God had healed her other leg and had given her three children, all of whom were easy births. The way Mammy imitated her daughter on the phone while she was in labor. “Mom, I got to go now…I’m about to have this child,” as if she just had finished dinner and is ready for dessert, you couldn’t help but laugh and smile on the other line.
After the Journal-Artist interview, you followed up with directions on how she could submit her first journal entry. She has a true fiction story to tell.
As you take Roxy in your routine afternoon walk in the small Croatian village of Zaton, there it occurs to you: You were those two mothers who forfeited two children you could have had. Perhaps the first came from the unconscious self condemnation for the meth addict in you who felt unworthy to take care of your first baby when you had gotten pregnant at 20 and the second time for the alcoholic in you who felt unworthy to have her second child at 23.
And yet, Mammy prayed for you in the name of Jesus, at the end of the interview, and you realized that you were talking to a woman who had adopted two kids who were unwanted by their birth mothers, and yet they were still given life and given a home. Mammy was singing in a choir where one day Joyce Meyer pulled her aside and told her to forgive her mother for not being there when her son died the way you now realize you have to forgive your mother who was emotionally absent for most of her life with you. The mother you had imagined would blame, shame, and condemn you for having the first two children with Sonny.
The funny thing about this resentment towards your mom is that you don’t really know what she would have said because you never even told her.
You thought you knew your mom. But you don’t know your mom.
You sent your mother a necklace with a crystal Purple Heart and a red rose encased inside a glass shaped like an apple, laced with 24 carat gold. She tells you to not give her anything, to a point of almost scolding you. You realize this has been her default. You realized that you were raised by a woman who did not know how to love herself. How do you convince someone that they are worthy when they dismiss the love, help, and appreciation of others?
“Just take care of yourself,” she tells you, “then I’ll be happy.”
Mammy tells you the story of her mother…a mom who did not like the fact that her daughter had cut off the long braids out of perhaps rebellion for her seemingly controlling mother. She had cut them off and mailed them to her mother out of spite. After her mom had passed away, the daughters were going through all the stuff in the house, organizing here and packing things there. To her surprise, she had found the braids she had cut off and mailed to her mother. She cried when she realized the depth of her mother’s love for her daughter. Perhaps it was your own unforgiveness toward your own mother that prevented you from wanting to have kids. You couldn’t fathom putting your kids through the misery of life with an absent mother or a mother who doesn’t love herself. It’s either perfect or nothing at all. You realize now that that’s your insanity. You were staying in judgment against bad mothers. You somehow expected your mother to be perfect, but what you saw growing up was a mother who could not find the strength to stand up for herself and leave an abusive relationship.
The last two men you dated, you had insulted their mothers without ever meeting them. The first son told you his mother was in the mental institution and you told him that that was his dad’s fault for gaslighting the mother. Too true. Too soon. Too exposed. He melted like a snowflake.
The second son you dated, you had called out that he was a Jocasta son, meaning growing up with a mother who was narcissistic. You called it out and he did not protest because he knows this to be true. Again, too true, too soon, and too exposed. The two sons both called you crazy, the latter going so far as to call you a psychopath, and you don’t know if this is something Holy Spirit inspired you to do—call it like you see it—or something the daemons have given you so you can sabotage any possibility of true healing.
You know from Dr. Jordan Peterson’s talks that the truth is medicine—albeit a bitter one—and even though you may not gain anything out of it personally, you know that in the long run for their own life paths, it will prove invaluable to know.
How do you know that? Because Drum and Bass had called you out to be a malignant narcissist, because Green Eyes told you that enough was never going to be good enough for you, because Readle told you that your incessant criticism of him made him want to kill himself.
Drop the Rock
What you had missed in the missing piece of the puzzle is to learn how to let go of the judgment (even if you were right) and let God handle it.
Your sponsor had given you the directive of praying to God every morning first thing when you wake up to ask God to remove your defect of character—your distrust in God.
It is in your distrust in God that keeps you striving, controlling, micromanaging, fearing, and manipulating. You have a sense of fear and distrust.
And there, in the eye of fear, you see the root of all evil—distrust in God’s Goodness.
You head to Old Town, hoping to be there in time for Sandstone Church, for the spirit there to take you under his wings to guide you and guard you while in your journey. As you walk alongside the ancient medieval walls into the main city where the castles are fortifying tourists, merchants, souvenir shops, high end restaurants, and Museums preserving old texts and esoteric knowledge, you observe the many lonely faces of the people who walk past each other, too afraid, self-conscious, and walled up to connect, whether by class, by race, by stature, by whatever artificial distinctions there are. No wonder you need to call in the Online Drinker’s Den meetings so you have some kind of connective anchor, and no wonder going on #Slack to connect with your team is critical to the welfare of not just the nonprofit organization but also to your spirit.
It’s indeed a lonely planet as you sit by yourself eating the garlic mussels with the garlic bread, drinking your hot chocolate while eating your fruit with mascarpone.
You realize that the celebs in Los Angeles do indeed portray a lifestyle of opulence for the waiters and waitresses who wait on them like the men and women here wait for the next tourist to come through. Perhaps, they are indeed envious of the lifestyle of the rich and famous but if they only knew how the rich and famous are also lonely as well, then maybe they can take satisfaction in the bread they knead, in the young love they hold hands with, and the stories they tell each other over family dinner.
A beautiful tall blonde Croatian boy in his early twenties waits on you and you can’t help but feel the sexual attraction come forth. You confide in your soul sister from San Francisco the day before how much you miss the warm touch of a man holding you the morning after. It is one of love, of tenderness and you want to forget one of the things Aaron said to you, “I think about you every day. We fit together like lock and key.” You tell him it is because you two were not having sex but making love, which is the total acceptance of each other, good and bad.
You blocked him because you realize that if you do not, that sooner or later, he would have either come halfway across the world to see you or you would see him back home. You had once asked him what would have happened if you did not leave. “You probably would have gotten pregnant by now,” he says to you. You laughed because he was right. You thank God for the grace and strength to have left because had you stayed, you two would have been completely off the mark. It would have been a push and pull love triangle and someone is going to be really hurt. You have already been way too jaded to have the kind of soft heart to have crumbled, but it would have hardened your heart. And you can’t afford to harden your heart. You must guard it. Tend to it with love and care. Keep it young.
You no longer like to speak with people who smoke because it is a reminder of a time when you tried to kill your own voice.
Judah Smith’s sermon is on forgiveness and you remind yourself that you still need to work through forgiving yourself over the way you responded when Sonny left. You still cringe at the thought of how you were so desperate, needy, and codependent. Then your false pride would kick in and you would like to pretend that the facade looks nice when really, the infrastructure is crumbling down.
The foundation must be solid and as long as you are doing the simple and hard thing for the sake of acting in the way of loving thy neighbor, who in this case, is Amy who loves Aaron, then you are still on the mark.
Being on the mark matters more than the result of an imagined future. You have arrived in the arms of the man you loved and adored for 6 years and there came a point in your life where even that was not good enough. So it’s not Sonny who was the problem. It was your ism, your lack of conscious contact with Jesus, your higher power.
While you were eating your dessert, you ran into the retired Canadian you had met a few days earlier. She had met her husband of six years at a dungeons and dragons RPG game and they have been traveling together with their dog, a cocker spaniel, the same one that one of your friends has when she met her partner at a different dungeon—the Drinker’s Den dungeon.
On the way out, you meet a man playing a Spanish love story on his guitar per your request. He gifts you a CD and tells you he wants to see you again. You hesitate. You feel obligated to connect but you don’t. You don’t want to connect.
This entire time you have not been fully transparent about your outward appearance.
You are an attractive woman. Better than average. Probably an 8 in worldly standards, a 7 in LA standards, and a 9 in Chinese standards.
People whistle at Roxy but they also look at you. You two catch eyes everywhere you go. No matter where, you attract eyes.
Eyes from young little girls who find you curious, eyes from older men who find you an anomaly, and the eyes of young women and men who are perhaps a bit envious and fascinated, respectively. The ones who understand you are the younger generation and the older ones. It is the millennials you have issues with, even though you are still considered a millennial. There is a young Nouveau Riche generation that is hyperplastic, surface, and Instagram perfect that gives you a kind of nausea if you hear them talk for too long. They are self absorbed, narcissistic, and entitled. And you don’t like them because they remind you too much of yourself growing up. They are blind in depth and distracted by appearances. They do not see you. They do not see the woman begging on the street with her starving children. They do not see the ones who are silently cutting themselves, throwing up, shooting up, and popping pills. They hide behind social media, building personas, building personal brands, but not being the full spectrum. And who can blame them? Corporations have learned the algorithm of what it takes for people to buy. It’s what James Joyce calls pornographic art—art that incites fear or desire rather than esthetic arrest. They have taken advertisement, marketing, and even journalism to serve a bottom line that says, “Buy me so you can feel better about yourself.” When what you can actually do to feel better about yourself is use that money to give to the hungry woman on the street so she can feed her starving child while you spend ten times the money on a branded shoe that you’ve waited two hours in line with your bro-ey friends to buy.
The Third Orange Cat
You pass by your third orange cat today.
This time, the orange cat made you think of the time when Rylie threw his orange cat to the side during one of your many video chats and you responded with, “That’s no way to treat pussy.” That resonance brings a smile to your face.
You find the video of the both of you interacting, some year and a half ago. You watch the first half. You immediately know that the reason Rylie had called you sick was because you both were falling and you told him that you were leaving.
You are next to the Adriatic port of Split when you worked up the courage to email him. It’s been more than a year since the two of you interacted.
I’m coming back in 3 months. I hope we can start dating again. If you want me in handcuffs, I hope it’s tied to your bedroom instead of in court. Just saying. If it is in the cards that you find me becoming your woman, then this time, I’ll stay.
You love him because you know he’s going to get a laugh out of the handcuff reference. The two of you both have a dark sense of humor.
You walk across Old Town Split. LA keeps calling you with all the pop music you hear some halfway across the world from Rylie and home. You wonder how Rylie is taking in all that “niceness” LA has to offer?
You run a mental list of places you want to hit up when back in town. If you’re going back to LA, then you’ll have to play smart not hard. You’ll have to play with a fresh set of eyes, this time wiser, more reliant on God.
You don’t want to get ahead of yourself. You still have not finished your spiritual walk here. It’s Mary Magdalene talking to you. You are listening to the audiobook of the esoteric gnostic gospels.
“Let those who have ears, listen.”
And you know it’s time. Mary has been guiding you and the first time you really took notice was at the Berlin Museum when you saw her codex, her testimony. The very paper where she wrote down the extra knowledge that the 12 disciples could not comprehend because she had a partnership, when Harry met Sally kind of love relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. It was love at first sight. Jesus was tired, he left Judea as not to draw fame towards his healing miracles, and there he came upon a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well. There, he was thirsty and asked her for water. He could have avoided this road but he refused. He knew she had many men in her life and she was beautiful.
You think of the movie, Pretty Woman. How one man can inspire a fallen woman to become…well…whole again.
You google Jacob’s well and it is in Jerusalem. You have found several listings that are affordable to stay. Plus the plane tickets round trip are not that bad.
What does Mary know that the rest of the disciples don’t know?
Mary was Jesus’ life partner, the wife of Jesus, the sexual soul-tied partner of Jesus, and the one who inspired Jesus to love, Eros, via the carnal man of God in the flesh.
Body, Soul, and Spirit
It talks about the noose, the realm between the pneuma, the spirit, and psukhe, the soul. You visualize the pathway of the Ying and the Yang, where the white line meets the black, and vice versa; the black dot in the middle of the white tadpole and vice versa; that is the noose.
It is the place where the upward pointing triangle intersects with the lower pointing triangle, so the noose is the hexagram, the six points of intersection where the upward and downward triangle touch, or the space between the sword piercing heavenward and the sword piercing hellward in the orthodox cross.
You get an email that evening with a Documentary premiere movie about a woman set out to change her fate by gathering Palestinian refugees to build a food truck business with her. It’s premiering in the same city Rylie may be living in the last time you remember hearing about his move…before he thought you were a psychotic stalker.
You’re not a psychotic stalker so much as you are an empathic, strong willed and smart ass girl. However, you admit that the line between Girl Interrupted and being the actual Angelina Jolie who plays the character is a fine line.
Apple tells you the that you’re beautiful on Mother’s Day when you’ve been feeling so off. So voided. The enemy reminds you how foolish and fruitless your life has been. Sure you’ve traveled, published three books, and started a non profit, but no kids? What a loser.
You look around at your posh two story loft. The lamp glows purple and you’ve finished saging the room. The rain is pouring outside. You feel a heaviness that only your body can express. As if to say to you…tick, tock, your biological clock.
You know what you have to do. You have to go back to LA where the one man you can actually see yourself procreating with lives and somehow, the two of you will reunite, without you manipulating it, controlling it or forcing it. Even spelling it out makes you scoff.
Where’s your faith?
The man wearing the orange sash with his nephew tucked in his bosom, the last Instagram unchanged, and the man with the teal blue iris.
Apple tells you that your middle school best friend is now happily married with two kids and is running her own cookie shop in Taipei.
You wonder if you are the villain in this story. You begin to doubt God’s plan for you to build a family. And yet, while that doubt is happening, another part of you know that this is the attack of the enemy—doubting God’s Goodness and doubting your own goodness.
You are video chatting with Apple and she shows you around her front yard garden. It is lush green in Seattle right now…spring after the rain is so beautiful. You smile. You are genuinely happy for her. She finally found stability after years of feeling like she could never fit in anywhere.
She never knew her father and her mother wanted her to have a better life than the one she was living so she entrusted a friend of a friend to take care of her.
She looks at you while the purple glow illuminates your face. Apple has seen you through your drug phase, your divorce phase, your alcohol recovery phase, and now your travel phase.
Apple reminds you of what you’ve survived through and who you are now as the manifestation of who you’ve always been as a potential now realizing.
You respect Apple so much, knowing everything she’s gone through and is still going through.
“Happy Mother’s Day to us!” She says. “Yes, dog mommies are still mommies.”
You smile. Apple always knows exactly what to say when you’re down in the dumps. She tells it like it is.
You tell her you feel so sad for what you witnessed in Mostar. The tourists passing the hungry woman with the baby. “It was like she was invisible. People judged and ignored. It’s really not any different than what happened inside the concentration camps. It’s apathy,” You say.
She gives you a sad smile and tells you of the man homeless that was using a nail clipper to remove pieces of his flesh as she was passing through. There was another passerby who witnessed the same incident and the other man immediately got on the phone and called the cops. Apple went up to the man and asked him if he was okay. The man said he needed to get the bugs out of his body. It’s the parasite he tells her. Apple knows exactly what he meant. You both know exactly what he meant.
You watch a Comedy Central show on YouTube called, This is Not Happening with Ari Shaffir. You’ve seen Ari perform live at the Comedy Club a few times already. You’ve even taken down Bobby’s number but Bobby didn’t like the way you left a voicemail…it was insistent and entitled, something Aaron has called out…essentially, “unprofessional,” or not respecting people’s boundaries.
There was an episode of a blonde woman who, now nine years recovered, recounted her rock bottom times when she started drinking her own piss when she heard that meth piss was potent. You cringe in horror and laugh in the absurdity of it all. That’s where the power is. It’s in beating your own shadow to the punchline.
You think back at the time you met Russell Peters and you chatted and he gave you his email, but also ghosted. To live in LA is to not take rejection so personally. No means not yet in the city of dreams…the city where you hope the broken are transforming into the broken open.
You have so much to contribute in the city. So why are you running?
Maybe you’re not running…maybe you are deliberately isolating so you can hear God speak to your heart.
And it’s been working.
No way you would have paid attention to divine Mary’s blessing without first communing inside her ancient mason portals of true blues first inside the Berlin Museum where her Codex just drew you to her.
Her very papyrus at the Berlin Museum where you first began becoming aware of the true power of the eXtra esoteric wisdom of Original Eve began unlocking as you continue taking steps forward.
You search his name on your email search query and one titled, “Google AdWords” pops up.
You watch it. Half way through. You realize, yes, Rylie is the one. Do you have the patience to wait for him? Even if it means a lifetime?
You deleted your Bumble account. Now it’s only at BFF mode.
You tell yourself to wait until you get back to LA. You’ve already bookmarked the place where you’ll be staying in Glendale and the place where you’ll be working. Is that plotting? Probably.
No…it wouldn’t work then. You have a co-creative space you can continue producing showcases and even build an interactive Musician’s piece of all your photography/videography. You can follow up with Gaslamp Killer and start there.
Just do you baby girl. The universe will take care of the rest.