Saturday, December 13, 2008

English 312 Final Paper: Reality & Media

Levi, Neda
English 312
December 13, 2008
Final Paper
Professor Wexler

Reality & Media
Dystopia Through The Airwaves

“A future dystopia is intriguingly shaped by the society’s obsession with reality t.v with fatal results for many characters.” – Elise Broach
Imagine for a second what each of our lives were like when we were at the mere age of five, beginning kindergarten without a care in the world. No element or factor closely related to that of a dystopic world ever surfaces at that point in someone’s life. As children we are put into a society, within a certain ideological state apparatus without ever knowing so. As we grow up, the media plays upon ideological state apparatuses, and societal norms shape us into what we come to believe is the right way to behave. Ideology exists all around us, and it is mostly through the media in which we, as human beings brought into this world unaware of any corruption that lies forth, are told what the right things for us to engage in truly are; whether they be a career choice to adopt, a fashion trend to follow, a diet to devour, or a genre of music to listen to.

Due to certain representations brought to us by the media, people are blindly sucked in and assimilated to obsessing and idealizing the hype about something, whether or not what they are internalizing is nothing more than a mere concept of interest that depicts negative repercussions, by the Repressive State Apparatuses, being implemented on members of society for millions of people to enjoy upon the stupid, big, plasma screened rectangular box with dials that has kept people entertained for years. By reveling in its glory, including myself up until a few years ago, we as a society are unfortunately dumbing ourselves down.
One of the most unforgettable television shows is Cops, which premiered on March 11, 1989. Why is it that you can ask almost anybody literate and coherent in American society and even those in some foreign countries, about Cops and they will know exactly what you’re talking about? This is the pioneering idea founded upon the reality television show and there’s something to be said about the fact that it remains true and timeless through and through.

What is it about watching a drunken minority break into someone’s car on a Tuesday morning at 2:30, which excites us more so than reading an article by Althusser to broaden our intellectual mind capacities? “The Repressive State Apparatus functions by violence, whereas the Ideological State Apparatuses function by ideology” (Althusser, 1490). The RSA’s, which include those authoritative associations that work for the state; most importantly, the punitive side of government established by the Federal prisons, courts, militaries, and judges along with the C.I. A, and the F.B.I are undoubtedly the premise for most reality television shows, and why our society feed into this is beyond comprehension. The media, especially in terms of reality television, is there to tap into everything other than our positive abilities to function within a society that harbors both positive and negative elements that work in tandem to hinder us and on the flip side help us succeed in life. Reality T.V shows have no purpose in allowing people, mostly the generations born after the 50’s where the media, materialism, consumerism and capitalism had a harder time breaking people down and compelling them to ditch the desire rooted in non-conformity and spend all their hard earned dollars in order to “fit in”, the ability to prosper by reaching the utmost of their individual potential, unscathed by the ominous need to expend and be acknowledged by some order in popular society.

Why aren’t there more reality shows geared towards a positive ideology? Is it because our society is undeniably lacking in its intellect as a whole to the point where The Real Housewives of Atlanta, exemplifying the lives of rich football and basketball players wives spending their husbands’ dough is more important than a special based on the ideology of peace that John Lennon wanted to see this world achieve or a documentary showing the horrible events that six million Jews went through during the reign of Adolf Hitler and his twisted need to kill them all?

Think of the image that Hollywood is represented as, through the media. It serves its purpose as an ideology in it of itself, but does reality television make that ideology or break it? “Ideology is a representation of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence” (Althusser, 1498). We can never truly know ourselves, away from ideologies and especially the norms that are implicated into our daily lives by the norms which society constructs. It is safe to say that every single body who composes their personalities, their endeavors, their existence through a social status and through material possessions which society deems as necessary i.e. a fashion trend, a sports car, etc. follows a certain ideology that from the moment of their conception was meant for them to buy into. Hollywood is a lifestyle, nothing more or less. It is a picture perfect world away from repressive ideological state apparatuses and more in tune with an ideological state apparatus that only exists to serve the beautiful ones (with the help of massive amounts of make up).

Reality television along with other elements of the media, is only there to exploit us, to dig deep into our rational mindsets and turn our attentions to something that we can do without quite positively. Without the media, there would be no need for advertising, material production (in the realm of extra sports car elements which range from unnecessary to absurd and utterly expensive), and a dumbing down of society; therefore the sad truth displays how the concept of ideology has steered clear away from anything positively idealized like getting an education, and more so geared towards the corruption of a society that relies heavily upon the media to rape our intellect and steal our notions of self and most definitely our hard earned money through consumerism, materialism and stupid shows about stupid people whom have no business being broad casted on television without a solid purpose or lesson to resonate amongst their viewers.

The media and glorious Hollywood are both institutions defined as
Ideological Apparatus, but they are obviously not ostensibly there to protect us as other Ideological State Apparatuses, i.e. religious sectors and schools, are. “Each of them (apparatuses) contributes towards this single result in the way proper to it. The communications apparatus by cramming every citizen with daily doses of nationalism, chauvinism, liberalism, moralism, etc., by means of the press, the radio or television” (Althusser, 1494). Even though the media does bring about knowledge in terms of political rallies, election coverage and news stories, one may still argue that it displays a lifestyle through reality television that portrays a false sense of reality for the younger generations, that will only deter them as they grow and learn to comprehend certain ways of the world and what is right and wrong through the ideological apparatuses that they reside in, thus being their families at home, and become educated in, thus being amongst their peers and teachers at school. “One apparatus certainly has the dominant role, although hardly anyone lends an ear to its music: It is so silent! This is the school” (Althusser, 1494). There is no ideology more affluent in society than that which houses the concept of education and importance that knowledge carries over all mediums in which media is filtered through. School functions as the institution that will further comprehension, intellect and success in future generations more so than any reality television spin-off will ever cease to do so.

Reality t.v is the epitome of trash, whether or not it is done tastefully. Sure, reality television provides entertainment and shock value that us, as Americans, find to fuel our daily subsistence by, but that should not grant it the power to surpass the ideology of knowledge itself.

Works Cited

Althusser, Louis. "From Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses
Notes towards an Investigation). "The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated, 2001. 1483-509.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jameson's Politics

The notion that politics can never be eradicated from this world rings true within our understanding of the universe in its entirety. Politics and Ideology work hand in hand, and everything that a society is established upon, or everything that a society is in dire necessity for, is all a manifestation of the definitive idea pertaining to politics. God created man, and man continues to advance with the production of technology and machines; without politics and the I.S.A's that we, as mere mortals are interpellated into from the minute of our conceptions with the signifier, our names, that our parents give us as unborn fetuses, the world would fall away from any gesture of its innate ability to cohesively exist. Political agendas construct the way humans interact in society, the way technology advances, and the way machines are built. Politics may stand alone; us on the other hand, including the machines representative of human labor, cannot.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Middle Eastern elements of Dystopia in Media

We live in such a corrupt and utterly disturbing society. As one of Middle Eastern decent, September 11, 2001 has completely changed the way “We” as a people are looked upon, and I am outraged by the fact that some Americans, in this nation founded upon equality, can possibly be as ignorant or more ignorant than those that they fear are constantly plotting to destroy their motherland.
In this clip from the Tyra Banks show, a segment is dedicated to what Americans
perceived from the get go of the name belonging to a little Muslim girl, and the cold-hearted thoughts that they stated about her name and her people as a whole, proves how fanatical some people i.e. “the privileged people” of America can undeniably be.


I enjoyed our class discussion relating to Obama's Presidential win and the certain
propositions that were mentioned, especially prop 8.
Like Nadia stated in class, Why not ban divorce?
Those who voted yes want to ban Gay marriages to keep the constitution intact and
protect traditional marriage and though I understand, I do not agree. So being a child with two mothers or two fathers may screw you up in the long run, but having divorced parents wont?
Well, as a product of two dysfunctional parents, I can assure those who voted yes on 8, that divorce does more than enough harm.
I may not know much about politics, but I know enough to where I find myself extremely passionate about an aspect of it or relating to it.
Obama winning the election was no doubt History in the making, but what gets me is how all you hear about is "An African American has become president!", left and right. I am by no means hating on the notion of a minority being the president, I voted for him and I feel that he can help me in my dire need for medical insurance, and poor, independent student present state of being, but it just frustrates me because his father, who left him when he was 2, is the only lifeline that connected him to the amount of black blood running through his veins.
He was raised by his white grandparents, and people who are aware of it still only
emphasize excitement over the African American part of him not the white, and I wonder why?
I do not mean to offend anyone. I am not an ignorant being, I just dont understand why people who have the citizenship and the rights to call America their country, fear an African American in power when he is just as American as they are?
Why is this country so hell bent over allowing somebody of a different race to rule?
This country is made up of immigrants period, which fall into the category of "Minority" most often. You would think those who claim this country to be their own would understand the meaning of "Minority" after all. I mean, weren't they the ones who stole this country from the Native Americans?

Risk & Interpellation

So, a couple nights ago I spoke to my hard-core Republican aunt and our conversation
left me stunned, not only because I lent my voice on behalf of those who feel that Obama can help poor college students and those without any medical insurance way more than Mr. McCain can, but mostly because she made me feel like a complete idiot!
Going to CSUN with more than 40,000 dollars debt combined out of financial aid and
school loans (I went to school in Nevada where out of state tuition needs to be eradicated beyond belief!), I am struggling to hold down a job, get this piece of documentation called a Degree which is supposed to get me a job that my own intelligence without school cannot (We have all been conditioned to believe so) and
become something, only to stress much more, struggle to pay my debts off, and live in
some way, shape or form better than I could have without an education...
Correct me if I am wrong, but what sense does this make?
Ever since we were children we've been told that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and that an education can get you all the riches your heart has ever desired.
Now I ask you, is this really true? How many people, whose parents do not pay for their tuition nor give them money to feed their material, emotional or physical hunger, truly get to relish in their ambitions really becoming part of their daily escapades? Taking risks, coming from a broken home with no monetary support from either parent is quite difficult, and pushing myself to be the best that I can be, is even more so difficult.
I am doing more than some kids without financial debt can attest to and I know that my education is something that in the long run CAN, though it is NOT GUARANTEED, get me somewhere good where the stress of life can go as easily as it can come, and yet I feel so tired, like I've lived a life of hard knocks and it shows.


On Tuesdays discussion about Music, I had my hand up a few times but I was never called on, nevertheless here's my chance to tell you, Angelo, that I agree. When it comes to Hip Hop, it's a genre that I have loved to dance to since I was six-years old and my mother signed me up for dance classes. I see Hip Hop and Rap in many ways. I think of the mainstream videos with all the sex, Cristal, bling and fancy cars, and I can't stand it, but then I think of Run DMC and LL Cool J, please bear with me if I don't know all the popular artists nowadays since I grew up on Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Queen and Bruce Springsteen, and I see Hip Hop for what it meant to convey from the get go, a celebration of art and the influence of the Black community and how much their people, both emotionally and mentally, had to give, individually and collectively.I think of Kanye West, and not that I know so much about him, but he could use whatever hook, belonging to whoever he wants, and I, as an individual, would still be enamored by his lyrics, his mindset and the deep truthes that he speaks of.Every genre borrows something from someone else yet people in our society tend to pick on hip hop most often. Mr. Vanilla Ice made it big off of Queen and David Bowie's hook yet refused to admit it, and people forgot about it. Even though I love my Queen, I admit Vanilla's was catchy and it made him HUGE! Music will progress, and one person will always catch a flaw, like you said, and help spark some controversy. People need to pay attention to the lyrics, whether or not they speak to the masses rather than attacking the artist because of the obvious hook that was borrowed. Every genre uses repetition in this business, but that doesn't mean than an artist cannot strike original genius within their capability to make music. I remember when I was 13 and P. Diddy, or whatever his name is today, borrowed The Police's hook from "Every Breath You Take" and I ask anyone reading this...Did anyone in the business, or in his fan base say anything or object to the fact that he had used repetition? Obviously not, he still had a hit and made bank.

Movies & The Concept of Art

I agree completely with many of my classmates that propose art as being a form of beautiful expression through writing, music, and acting, and whose to say what is art itself, and what is not art? though, when it comes to the topic of movies being art, my opinion differs with many. Movies began as a manifestation of ones artistic expression within the Silent Era, and I agree that as technology advanced and many modes of filming, videotaping and photography came to be, movies, television and model magazine covers, became replicas of something that left its audiences floored decades beforehand, but in my opinion, there are movies that will always radiate as beautiful renditions of art, and reside away from the sterotype of "Movies being of entertainment value and nothing remotely close to an artistic endeavor", in relation to the realm that the act of creating art was once known as.I think of movies like Philadelphia, Mask (Cher/Eric Stoltz not Jim Carrey), Steel Magnolias, Shawshank Redemption, Schindler's List and Stand By me, and no matter how cheesy some of them may seem to my classmates or anyone else for that matter, these movies have instilled something within me that has led me to strive in my artistic capabilties, and to pursue my creative endeavors. Movies that strike something within someone, something that is worthy enough, minutely or enormously profound, to bring about a coping mechanism for life are undeniably art. These characters and their essential subsistence as mere mortals have mastered a beautful work of art that has brought moments of piece into my enduring battles in life, and for me that is what the notion of Art, as I stated above is founded upon, and I can argue so for the rest of my life.


What thought has not crossed my mind on the topic of Eugenics and the picture perfect
qualities of Jude Law's character in Gattaca? Nothing.
Regardless of all his great attributes, he still came in second. No one ever wants to be
second best and to realize that even in a perfect society, where all diseases could come
to a hault way before the night of your conception, the thought of becoming second best
can still make you or break you. Personally, there are many times and many things that
have hindered me on my path to success, and if one day in the future, something exists
to eradicate the possibilities of my mother's breast cancer, my father's heart disease, my
aunt's bi-polar disorder, or my own chronic depression from deeply robbing my child's
shot at an extraordinary life from him or her, I would not hesitate to advocate on its


"My novel 1984 is not intended as an attack on socialism, or on the British Labor Party, but as a show-up of the perversions to which a centralized economy is liable. . . I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive, but I believe that something resembling it could arrive." George Orwell covered the idea of totalitarianism, along with addressing the thought that perhaps in the future the ability to corrupt ones psychological mindset with certain regulations may be quite affluent, yet on the flip side he had clearly illustrated the concept that perchance this future system may be more harmful rather than helpful. I have read in the past that Orwell was profoundly concerned by the general cruelties and oppressions that he saw well heeled in many communist countries. Orwell was concerned by the role of technology in enabling oppressive governments to monitor and control their citizens. “A reactionary society can force people to do many things which are against their social and physical interests and which may cause them acute discomfort and pain; but I doubt that it can break down the fundamental physiological distinction between pleasure and pain." By reading Howe’s piece and his quote, I am reminded by how I see the terms of Psychological usage in Orwell’s piece mirroring the ways of our American society nowadays. It is a thought that may not be paid much attention to, but to think of how much security has been enforced and changed throughout the years, due to the events of September 11, 2001 and just the new found desire to be safe in general since then, is fairly astonishing. You cannot walk into any grocery store, department store, and liquor store, without being watched. Are these just precautions to serve protection for those rich business owners, or to protect us all, the affluently rich Americans and the severely poor minorities from harms way? Hard curveballs are thrown into people’s daily lives, but I do not agree with Howe in that he doubts that a reactionary society can break down the fundamental, physiological distinction between pleasure and pain. No matter how brainwashed or forced to conform one becomes, one can never lose the ability to distinguish pleasure from pain. I simply refuse to believe so. In addition to Orwell having pondered upon what difficulties the future had in store for any society, I also believe that the media controls every source of information that we, the people of a nation, are being given. The news coverage is all we have to go about, and to decipher the truth about something massive, as did the party in 1984. They controlled every piece of information, and rewrote history to their own liking. We believe what we are conditioned to believe in our world today, but whose to say what is true and what is false, and whether or not the stories we are being led to believe are completely accurate or not. The media controls our society and our thoughts if we continuously let them in to do so, and in turn they will continue to control our pasts, as did the party in Orwell’s 1984.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Saturday Telephone Conversation: Spring 2006

Nye Hall: University of Nevada, Reno

I look out the window facing Argenta hall...
The sun shining on my face along with the notion of the world being wide-awake is all I feel.I spoke to him today.
He feels my pain, and I miss times like this so dearly.
I see the confusion in his eyes so clearly.
He begs me not to cry..."I'll get mad", he says.
He rules with an iron fist, and that is all I remember. I preach and pour my angst out to him.
"I'm a good kid. Do you trust that?”
He says, "Of course, I always have."
Oh how I miss his 41 year old soul...I see it less and less frequently, and it's the times where I am honored with his rare presence that I feel composed.
I'm not going to make it here...I don’t feel any serenity. Nobody interesting, nothing fulfilling.... just fakeness.
He says to me..."Maybe it's you who needs to change."
I know, and I've been dealt with the same predicament since he left when I was almost of legal age.
I know I need to be different, but I just don’t know how and where to start.
I'm so fucked up, and it's all the fault of the man who has the audacity to tell me to change.
I close my eyes, I see through the blinds of the shattered window of my broken home.
I see him walk into my room, that sweet summer day...a few days before I began the last year of torment in that hell hole that kept me captive for 4 fucking years of my misfortunate existence.
He sat on my bed...and as the tears fell down my face listening to "Drive" by my Ric Ocasek and the Cars, he said that he was done and that he couldn’t do it anymore... he left 2 days later.
"Let go your heart, let go your head"...He has forever left me repeatedly, and when shit gets hard I still run to him, but I cant anymore...but nothing, not even my intense hatred will make me stop doing so.
"Please forgive me, cause I know not what I do...Like a stone I fall in your eyes, deep into that mystery. I get half a mile to scream out loud, I get half a mile to die."
That cold, harsh fall has been every tomorrow that's turned into the past.
Aba, ani metta alechah...
The past is away from my sight, but forever in the cold, dead spirit that I have become.
Thank you for nothing....
It’s everything that's made me into the pale little girl with the I.V in her arm that you left out to rot.
and I still love you.

Replacing Emptiness: 9/2007

It has taken six painstaking years to come to a realization that what has happened has happened, and the distinct loss of everything I once encompassed that has made my life quite unbearable, will continue to resonate with each undying breath I take. Still, I sit in what was once my element, my sanctuary, and as the utter sadness of time passed wraps itself around my aching corpse, I close my eyes and drift away to that moment when my life came tumbling down once and for all. I see through the blinds of the shattered window of what was once my broken home. I see him walk into my room on that sweet summer day, a few days before the 12th year my reign as the supreme outcast began. I sat upon my bed, composed and fearful, as he sat down beside me, and gently moved aside my blue three-ring binder and a pack of blue Bic pens. As "Stand By Me" by Mr. King played on my Cd player and the tears began to stream down my tarnished face, My father, the man who had helped bring me into this world withholding a heart full of compassion and a piece of mind which had been fueled by an abusive past, decided to take the spirit within my soul, which he had tried to slay repeatedly throughout the years, and bestow upon it a fond farewell. My beautiful crazy shine, My father, My life, decided it was time to ditch the wife who made his life utter hell, and leave the product of his sperm donation to fend for herself, in this cold, cruel world. The next day, I began my senior year of high school, and came home that afternoon to a single mother for the 5th time in my life, only this time the heartache was undeniably going to linger beside me. Six years later, it may have been quite a disappointment, but I have come to cope with the notion that I will never be blessed with the spirit that was once my sweet father. It is the pain of missing him immensely, regardless of what he had done to instill such ambivalence within me. It is and will always be the fact that he once loved me, even if it may not hold true anymore for him. It is fighting back the cancer of my soul, in hopes of one day seeing the man I once had known to be my father...and it is fighting the truth, that there is no hope, and I will never see the real him again. I struggle each day to come to terms with a loss that has defined me day after day, counseling session after session, anti-depressant after anti-depressant, and yet the thing is I may have spent my life, up to this moment, yearning, yearning to kiss a childhood pain, a lingering moment that has yet to subside, a resonating goodbye, but the older I have become since that moment of truth that led me to believe that love leaves, I comprehend that my father had his reasons, and both my parents had their faults. Even though my father took his own disappointment in life, which was not having a father, out on me, I’d still give the world to be wrapped up in his tumultuous tempest and all its sheer wonder just one last time.

A Life of Love and Deception

Raindrops, intertwined with Serena’s tears, hit the pavement outside the therapist’s office on this sullen November morning. She trails far behind, listening to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” on the green iPod her father had given to her for her 16th birthday that September. Her mother, Kelly, and her flavor of the month, John, walk hand in hand, whispering into each other’s ears just a few steps ahead.
“Mom, this is utterly ridiculous! I don’t see any sense in this.”
Kelly sighs under the Chanel umbrella keeping her and John dry, and turns to look at Serena soaking wet,
“Rena, please cooperate with me! I’m not going to deal with your rebellion and unkindness towards me any longer! I’ve done nothing but been a good mother to you! If I can’t get you to treat me with respect, then maybe having you see a shrink will give you an attitude adjustment and open your eyes a bit.”
Serena looks at her mother in disgust. How could a woman who has committed such an act, be in such denial of it all? How can she be compelled to imply that her own daughter is the one who needs psychiatric help?
As they enter the Center for Family Counseling, John opens the door, smiling as Kelly enters. She blows him a kiss in return, and as Serena walks in, John notices her sigh deeply in what seems to be a look of nausea.
In the therapist’s office, the walls are covered with beautiful portraits of young children. As Serena makes her way to a brown rustic armchair, the painting above strikes her fancy. It is of a little girl with beautiful Native American hair, like her own, putting on ballet slippers, and suddenly Serena’s mind slips back into the days when her parents encouraged her to follow her dreams of becoming a Ballerina. She quickly wipes her tears away before her mother catches her letting her guard down. As her mother and John make their way to the red “loveseat” besides her, Dr. Anderson locks the office door, and plops her snobby rear end unto her white recliner.
“So Kelly and John, who is this lovely young woman you have brought in to see me today?”
Serena sighs and rolls her eyes at her mother. Her mother smiles back at her. “This is my beautiful daughter, Serena.”
“Hi Serena, Well, how can I help you today?
“Honestly, this isn’t for me, it’s for my Mother and her home wrecker boyfriend, husband, I don’t know—whatever the hell he is.”
Kelly looks at her, ashamed. “You see Doctor, she has become the absolute opposite of what I raised her to be. She has no respect, none for me, John, or anyone else for that matter.”
As Serena begins to cry, Dr. Anderson hands her a green box of tissues with a picture of a fall harvest drawn upon it. Thanksgiving, the year before, was the last time she saw her parents in a passionate embrace. “Tell me Serena, I understand you’re upset, but why? No one is here to judge, not even your mother.”
Serena looks out the window and wonders if the dark clouds are due to the sky having a heart full of pain. “You want to know what’s going on with me mother. You want to know why I’ve been acting this way. Huh?", Serena feels agitated by her mother’s long silence, slouches as she uncrosses her legs and stomps both feet down, "Well? Do you!!!!!!"
Kelly begins to worry by her daughter’s fit of implicit anger. “Yes, Yes baby, tell me, please.”
Serena sits up straight. “You see Dr. Anderson, I have nothing against my Mother or John; in fact I love John immensely, but not for becoming my mother’s lover.”
“Serena if you’re upset with me, fine, but don’t disrespect John.”
“You’re right Mom. Dr. Anderson, John is a perfect match for my Mother, a grungy musician, and a long-legged Blonde starlet, quite a blissful match. In fact better than his best friend, my father, ever was for her. Will that suffice Mother?”
Kelly looks at her daughter stunned, while the tears roll down Serena’s eyes, and her lips start to quiver, Kelly kindly responds, “Baby, Go on. Speak your piece.”
“I’m … I’m angry and caught up in the mess my mother could have prevented, if only she realized what her and my father really had. She allowed herself to fall out of love, or whatever her reasoning was, but I just don’t understand why? And if it was so necessary, why did she have to cheat with my father’s best friend?” Serena sobs silently, “Why would anyone do such a thing?”
Dr. Anderson hands her a bottle of water, and smiles with empathy for the sweet brokenhearted girl. “I understand that it is not easy to endure hardships like this in one’s life, but your mother may have had a cause unknown to you as to why she decided to act the way she has.”
Serena chuckles, and rolls her eyes. “Dr. Anderson, you do not understand. My life has not been perfect, but it has been more than I could have ever imagined. My parents busted their butts to allow my brother, my little sister and myself to live comfortably with all the finer things in life. They sent us to the best schools, and with my brother getting accepted to USC, they’re willing to pay for his tuition too but he doesn’t want them to, due to everything they’ve done for us. Now tell me, what other kid wouldn’t take Mommy and Daddy’s money whenever it was offered? My parents, my mom and “real” father belong together. The way my mother changed my father for the better, you would never believe she’d leave him in the end.”
Dr. Anderson looks at Kelly, then Serena, and smiles. “Do you love your mother?”
“Of course I do, she was an angel to all of us.”
“How did she change your father’s ways?”
“My father was a straight up narcotic fiend, a crazy addict. She pulled him out of it, never left his side through all his withdrawals and gave him a reason to live, and strive to become the musician he always aspired to be.” Serena looks at John with a look of contempt in her eyes. “If there ever was anything my Papa would give his life for, it was my mother and Johnny. “
Serena gets up and looks out of the window, and Kelly walks up and puts her arms around her and whispers in her ear, “Your father didn’t want me anymore.”
Serena turns around and slaps her mother across the face, and as John runs up to Kelly’s aid, Dr. Anderson looks at Serena with disappointment. “That was uncalled for young lady.”
Serena looks at the three of them. “She has left my father alone, and when he finds someone new the truth is, she won’t compliment him the way my mother did. Whatever my thoughts are on my mother’s relations with John, I’m entitled to them. He is not my stepfather, and never will he be anything of that sort to me. I am my father’s family; his daughter and only his.” Serena reaches into her pocket and feels the vibration of her cell phone. She glances at the screen, and can’t wait to answer it. She looks at Kelly and John, and looks down at their hands locked together. “As far as I am concerned, you both are as dead to me as you are to him.” She looks at Dr. Anderson and shakes her hand, “Well this has been quite enjoyable," she moves on to shake her mother’s hand, " Thank you, for the bullshit ending to a life I valued so very much, Kelly.”
As Serena slams the office door, she answers her father’s call. “Hi Papa.”
Anthony hears the hurt in his angel’s voice, and his voice trembles in wonder of what could have happened. “Rena, what happened? Why do you sound like you’re about to cry?”
Serena gets into the elevator, and standing against the metal railing, lays her head against the cold metal, slowly moving her body into the fetal position, as she sobs.
“Nothing, Papa, It’s just Mom, and John. They felt like playing a game of house, and took me to therapy.”
“You told her you wanted to go?”
“No, she’s just shocked by my intense behavior towards her and her sorry excuse for a boyfriend, and can’t for the life of her understand why. I’m so upset and angry, and I feel so ambivalent towards her for fucking up our family.” Serena grabs a hold of the metal railing, and pounds on the floor with her left fist, continuing to sob violently.
Anthony, driving home from his studio session, stops at a stop sign and pulls over on his way to pick up his little Lacey from Kindergarten. “Baby, please stop. I hate hearing you cry. You have a family, you’ve got Tony, Lace and I, and you know that no matter what happens between your mother and I, she loves you immensely and she always will. She never meant to hurt you.”
As the elevator doors open, Serena walks out of the building and sits on a bench in the pouring rain. “Can I see you, or are you at work?”
“Where are you?”
“I’m at the plaza down the street from Lacey’s school.”
“I was on my way to pick her up, but I’ll be there in five minutes. Wait for me.”
The thought of her father asking her to wait leaves her with a sense of protection. Serena wipes her tears away, with a clear understanding that as long as her father is there to save her from harms way, then nothing else matters. “Thank you, Papa.”

As Anthony starts up the car, and makes a left at the stop sign, heading down to the plaza, Kelly calls him on his cell.
“Where is she, Anthony? What did you tell her to have her act like an ungrateful little bitch?”
“Excuse me??? First off, your daughter walking out on you has nothing to do with me, and how dare you call her an ungrateful little bitch. I won’t disrespect you, and stoop to your level, but-”, he drives up to Serena, waiting at the curb, and lets her in.
“Hi baby”, as he reaches over to kiss her forehead, Kelly gets frustrated on the line.
“What is she doing with you?”
“Excuse me, she’s my kid, and that’s all I’m going to say to you.
“Let me talk to her.”
“Rena, your mom wants to talk to you.”
Serena looks at him, “I don’t want to see her, or speak to her.”
Anthony holds his daughter’s hand, “ Baby, you know I’m on your side no matter what, but she’s your mother.” Serena looks at him, and shakes her head, as her frown manifests into tears, as Kelly becomes impatient over the phone, and angry with him for stealing Serena’s love away from her.
“Anthony, don’t brainwash my kid into hating me.”
Anthony becomes irate, and tries to keep his cool in front of Serena, but finds it difficult. “Kelly, one thing I do not do is point fingers, and push people to hate one another. Rena is upset and tired. This whole situation is killing our kids, so before you judge, please take a minute and re-evaluate the situation, and see who it is that has prompted Rena to act this way.”
Kelly stops silent, as her and John walk to the underground parking lot. John opens the car door for her, and waits till she gets in, and closes the door for her. On the other end, beyond his love for her, Anthony still feels betrayed and extremely broken hearted. “Why baby, why would you do this to me?”
John kisses Kelly on the forehead, and whispers to her that everything will be just fine. “I don’t know, Anthony.”
“You don’t know? You don’t know! Damn it Kelly! I can’t believe you and that asshole! I’m done Kelly; you did yourself in this time. It’s completely over and I’m prepared to fight.”
Serena puts her headphones on hoping to drown out the sounds of her sorrow.
Kelly opens the car window a little and lights up a cigarette. “What’s that supposed to mean? Are you threatening me?”
“No. How quickly you forget. I was the one who loved you and would’ve died for you. Now, how could I ever wish to hurt you, when all I knew was how to protect you? I’m just making sure you know what the deal is.”
Kelly exhales a puff of smoke, as cloudy as the love she once shared with her husband has become, and lets out a laugh fueled with sarcasm, “Which is what?” She turns her speakerphone on so John can hear the conversation.
“Tony is going off to college, so I’m not worried about my boy, but there’s no way in hell that my girls will ever, (his voice begins to shake) ever, live in a house with that asshole you left me for.”
Serena looks over at Anthony, and senses his upset with Kelly.
“Papa, just hang up on her!!!! Please. It kills me to see how she keeps on hurting you. Fuck. I can’t take it anymore!” Serena throws her ipod at the windshield, and buries her head in her hands.
Anthony lifts Serena’s head up, and looks at her, “You are my life, and I don’t want you to hurt when I hurt. I’m going to handle this. I promise that Tony, Lace, You and I will be okay, and I won’t rest until we are. You got me?”
Serena bites her lip, and takes a deep breath in, “Papa, don’t leave me with her.”
“It would be the biggest mistake anyone can ever make, leaving my little girl alone. You have my word, no matter what, your coming with me.” Anthony kisses her head, and hears Kelly harping on the phone, again.
“ Listen Anthony", kelly pauses laughing hysterically "you actually think you’re going to take my girls away from John and I?”
Anthony begins to cry, and simultaneously give in to a fit of rage. “JOHN AND YOU! John and you??? You’ve obviously lost your mind. I’m filing for divorce, and Serena and Lace are coming with me!”
Serena turns on the speakerphone switch button on the sun visor to hear what her mother is saying…
“Over my dead body; after all, Lacey’s begun to call John, daddy.”
The feeling of eternal silence fills Anthony’s soul, as if someone had ripped his heart right out of him, and left it to be trampled upon. Her mouth slightly drops, and she looks at her father’s tears nearly drowning him, as he lies in a comatose state. Serena tugs on her father’s arm, hoping he’d come out of it and talk to her. She takes the phone and hangs up on her mother.
“Papa, she’s trying to get to you. Lacey never calls John anything of that sort. Everyone knows who her papa is, especially her. She calls you daddy, and only you.”

As Kelly looks down at her phone, she sees that he has hung up. She wanders off to the days when Anthony and her first got together 19 years ago, in her mind. The one thing that stays constant is the notion that he was her first love, and he always will be.
John pulls her bangs away from her eyes, and looks at her sincerely, “Sweetheart, are you okay?”
She takes out her compact and fixes her mascara. “Yeah baby. It’s over and done with.”
“Are you okay with that?”
She reaches for John’s right hand and holds it tightly, “He was the only man I ever fell for. I gave him my youth, my dreams, a family, and all the love I held in my heart. These truths make it hard for me to deal with.”
John replies sadly, “Do you still want to be with him?”
“Oh no", she kisses his hand, "Johnny, my love", she states lifting his chin up "I did what I did and I will face the consequences. I love you, and I know Lacey loves you, and that’s all that matters. We’ll be happy, with our own little family. You, me and your real daughter.”
John moves in for the kill, and kisses her unlike she has ever been kissed before. “If you only knew how much I love you." As they share an embrace, Kelly lays her head against his chest and listens to his heartbeat.
“I already know.” Kelly brushes her hand gently down his chest, and stops before she gets carried away. “Come on baby, Let’s go get your little girl from school.”


Never have I broken a bone in my body, though there remains the time where a fracture upon my 4ft frame occurred, crowning it as the only exception. Where I fell off the monkey bars and my collar bone broke my fall, leaving me bruised upon a glass bottle of whatever the ice tea craze was at the time, but as an adult I guess I have yet to be introduced to my pain tolerance for anything shy of a complete skeleton to the touch, unlike my pops.
Bubbly and vital; my frail bones never felt so alive. I was six-years-old, driving through the valley with my old man on that sullen, rain-reigned Saturday morning. I was fidgeting with the radio, hoping that perhaps Mc Hammer would come on and serenade me on the way to Ashley and Nicole’s house, but after a few moments, every station had declined my internal request. Silence between him and I was never spoken, I was laughing up a storm talking about Nadia and her dire need to overshadow Hammer’s running man at school yesterday, and just then, the unthinkable managed to overshadow the unthinkable. It was like being trapped inside something concaved where the blue sky waited for a sign to lift me vertically up and away, away from the day that I seemed to have loved. One minute is all it took, an intangible minute of silence, one that has lasted far longer than any minute has ever anticipated.
My old man, I break a smile at the heavenly thought of the handsome cold-hearted spirit in question. I drive through that intersection daily, you know, the one with the split in the road. That same telephone poll, harboring the 18-year-old scar, still struggles to stay intact. The echoes of paradise still chime loudly in my ears, and the lady, whose house my father absentmindedly decide to partially wipe out, still lives hazily in my memory. Like the few slight pleasures I have attained by living, seemingly lasting only countless seconds, the despair never seems to exhaust itself, that cataclysmic sound of death reverberates motionless, prolifically loud in my ears. I remember vaguely, the traces of blood upon my black and purple flannel. As a frightened child, my quiet composure still whole, I froze in wonder, silently for a moment.
I looked over to my left. My father undeniably lies comatose, with his sweet bald scalp, my crystal ball for as long as I can remember, sheltered by the clear glass of what was left of the windshield. A pale face, like one who had just conversed with a ghost of sorts, came running towards my contestably narcoleptic father and I. Her significant other, trying to keep cool, calls an ambulance. Bless her heart; she tries urgently to open my door, and yet another chance at living fearful is upon me.
“What’s your name, sweetheart?” she asked with this sweet look of worry, worry that would compel anyone to save someone.
“Maxine.” I responded, from what my remembrance supplies me, fairly teary eyed.
She grabbed my hand and escorted my tiny frame, to which everyone referred to me as Skinny Bone Jones, my moniker back then.

The sidewalk welcomed a chockfull of uninvited guests, standing silent and chaotic in their massively abundant movement of gawking at a child’s misfortunate ordeal. I’ll call her Antonia, since her name has escaped me. Sweet Antonia, my redeemer for that hour, led me into her yellow, sunlit kitchen, and pulled out a chair at the breakfast nook in the corner, and asked me to take a seat. As I sat down, she began to wipe off the blood from my torn black Levi’s.
“Do you feel alright, my dear?” she sympathetically questioned.
“I, I, I think so.” I stuttered. She brought me a plate of Oreo cookies and I thought to myself, my mother would have never done this, as she placed a glass of milk in front of me.
“Everything will be alright. Your daddy’s going to be just fine.”
I smiled kindly, and I sat fondly of that charming woman, waiting, wishing, and wondering what would become of my short existence later on that afternoon.
My description of lovely Antonia has embarked on to breed dimly into the land of anonymous beings, the place in which the significant ones, who once affected your life, grow fainter into years later. Sometimes, if I find myself on Lassen Avenue, I drive by just hoping to catch a glimpse of her, but who knows if she still calls that humble abode home. If I close my eyes, I can still catch my mother running to his aide on the stretcher, as I stood aside with Antonia, deeply wishing she were my mother.
If only my recollection would serve me better. Did I truly struggle with any tears? I wonder; could I have known then that this would still impale my daily endeavors, 18 years into the future? Was this to mark the end of the eternal neglect and ruling of the iron fist, which paradoxically, I still loved wholeheartedly? If these things, this flash of my youthful remembrance, have played a part in my chronic illness, why then can I not bid them a tender parting? Perhaps by allowing justice to the past be served, then it would mean no longer would the warmth of yearning for a goodbye, radiate above me, keeping me ill yet tenderly sheltered in this cruel world, sunlight hours in and calendar days out, as I hunger for something more, more than what my eyes have seen, more than this, more than all of this.