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These were the rhythms of [her] life: indifference and violence; periods of abstract brooding and periods of intense desire.

----Richard Wright


THIR5T Preface from Dear Nikki

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing form the author, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of such without the permission of the author is prohibited. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Totally passive aggressive, I don’t appreciate it. The book is already priced low as fuck, Goddamn; how cheap can you be? Indie bitches gotta eat too; is this your way of telling me I need to lose weight? Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. Any member of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use, or anthology, or getting high should send inquires to THIR5T is a work of nonfiction. Some names and identifying details have been changed. Any resulting resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental and unintentional. Copyright © 2012 @02596194 All rights reserved.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This book would have been impossible without the two years I spent in college and the year I spent post graduation doing absolutely nothing. So here is to you, ennui: the 1820something War of Attrition. Also, a special thanks to the reliable weed/drug dealers for their availability of quality products and the Asian liquor store owners in the NW DC quadrant who did not card.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011 5:07 PM

FWD: Dear Nikki From: Shannon Ousley Outside of Polo and alcohol, marijuana is the Howard student’s best friend. The sorority girl, fine-arts theater gay, business major, frat president, celebrity’s child and child celebrity, hoodrat, Texan debutante, and sociopath all can simultaneously convene over the breaking down of some weed. Many a social revelation and “friendships” (brief incoherent moments of mutual realization and understanding) were sewn from the smoky dance of a Swisher tracing the lips of the lost and the damned. Among other things, we were looking for truth, a way to kill time, a new feeling only not to feel at all— to just sit above everything stoned in a room of the multicolored faces of our generation. Time was a figment of yesterday’s imagination and the pace of tomorrow. Every obligation melted away as we sat cottonmouthed with rap music playing in the background and the bass pulsing in our chests. I was finally numb enough to catch the beat and retrace the path towards instinct I had formerly lost in the dance of me against the world in my hometown. Except now, I was also battling my former self. This place had killed it. . . . My hometown was behind a shadow of smoke and THC. I would probably never find it again.


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One day life bitch-slaps us all for being too braggadocios about our moral dexterity. It says, “fuck you, try again,” and leaves us raped the morning after. No, like, literally date-raped the morning after in your dorm room bed in the same purple dress that you used to love. It is no bother, so you instinctually laugh and say, “No biggie—I guess I had that one coming for trying to act so limber and shit—as if I were master of the world when I really was just drunk and raging.” Then you get on Facebook and sift through the internet, absentmindedly counting your sexual partners, pausing a moment to reconcile with the fact that you cannot remember this latest one and cannot stalk them, realizing it is zilch; a YKK on an unzipped idea of fulfillment that unearths Pandora’s clam-burger box. It was you who got fucked that time around: not your mother’s daughter, daddy’s little girl, not a brother, sister or anything of the like, but YOU. You and everything behind your ego that feels every moment of life shattering as it stretches onwards towards infinity. Date-rape, though? With a few exceptions, that is just a played excuse feminists give for being too drunk at a party. I just feel this way because I


do not remember who it was, so I cannot stalk him on Facebook. Chances are we have met before and that was just his lucky night. The same thing happened to Marcus freshman week, and while the general consensus was that he was raped by that girl after he passed out, in actuality, he was just taken advantage of. It was wild watching the portly ZayZay throw him over her shoulder and run up the stairs into an abandoned room of a house party. Apparently, she sucked his flaccid penis as he flitted in and out of consciousness, making it hard so she could have her way with him. She is a Zeta now, and Marcus admitted that was the best head he ever had. I guess it could be worse. It was not as if I were roofied…well, I basically roofied myself. My friends left, and I was having a hilarious conversation with Robby about which girls he had not smashed at the party (hint: there were very few). In between our conversation, we were taking shots of Everclear. Then there was Brooks with the video camera on the night-vision setting. Everything was spinning…I was doing my dance to some song…then there was the girl I saw by the stairs while I was being dragged upwards and around some bright house. There were long spans of time, and somehow we were in his car…he is begging me to have sex, and I can barely hear his desperate little boy pleas in between the dizzying flutter towards darkness and sleep…murmurs of intoxication, him inside me, me stifling a laugh but being too numb to really move, boredom, a brief flash of clarity that feels like dull anger, him asking my name, me shaking my head, pissed off at how wack everything is, me wondering if it was good for him but feeling pretty sick over how out of control the idea of freedom and the pursuit of happiness is. I send a text, we drive, then darkness. Then the morning after. Laughter, then laptop. X out Facebook and Skype with your best friend overseas. Casually announce you got laid—leave out the part about how you do not know who it was, and you do not really remember anything. Laugh so emptily it rings in your ears like a worn-out drum vibrating like the tympanic nerve, like a stomach rumbling with hunger. Wish for passion, excitement, orgasm. Watch an art-house film that is basically porn, feel content, give a stranger a drunken blowjob as John Mayer’s “Daughters” plays on the iHome, choke on the irony, spit out the semen. Care less and less as you sink further into the abyss of sensual stimulation while feeling smaller and infinite as it seeps into


you. Lie there lifelessly clutching your smartphone and needing something without a name. Tell yourself to snap out of it. Take a picture in Photobooth to capture the face of perceived teenaged madness that, a year later, you dismissively categorize as disaffected, bourgeoisie complacency. Laugh until it fills you with life. Laugh because it is the only reaction in your entire being that is genuine. Turn on “Just A Girl” and feel it but don’t feel it entirely. Fall face forward into the unmade bed of absurdity that is reality, the cosmos, the cold, dead hands of Father Time that aim to molest you just like your academic advisor does with his eyes; despite all his intelligence and Ivy League education, he really is just a perv. Wake up without ever going to sleep, without ever turning off the lights on The American Dream or the dance of being young and alive. This is it: a steady flow of dreams and the moments you wake up in between. Why do we struggle to create something artificial when we have more in our souls than the game requires? Curiosity is where we lose everything; it slides in and divides intuition with a scalpel meant for a 7 th grade science experiment outlined neatly by McGraw Hill. I regret not losing my virginity in 7th grade to Patrick, the only boy who truly loved me. Gross overstatement, but the sentiment is real. What if I started having sex the moment that sex first overcame me? It is too bad it is not a perfect world. In my perfect world it would have happened gently and slowly, like realization, releasing raw intuition and the soft, majestic parts of the cosmos for the greater good of the nerve endings in our privates. We should have done it: looked into each other’s eyes and followed it steadily into an abandoned place and unleashed all that was wild and pure within us. For a moment of raw, innocent passion, I have bet my entire life: my college GPA, my scholarship, my parents’ expectations of me, years of academic excellence and participation in extracurricular activities, countless wishing over flaming birthday candles, and five hard-pressed wishes upon shooting stars. All for what? Binge drinking that turns into a thin line between date-rape and desperation? In doing a pathetic but calculating stranger a sexual favor, I had hoped to stockpile good sexual karma so one day I may reignite that natural 7th grade science class pull. My concept of libido is now tangled in those dusty memories of innocence and a lust for something that depletes my soul as my body lurches towards a stranger’s in his car.


Who am I? A masculine concept with two “x” chromosomes, one of which is a Barr Body? What about those genes of mine that are constitutively expressed? There is that gene for stoicism; or how about that gene for dispassion? My life is stale breath and the illusion of a chemical happiness. I am societal perfection: a teenaged-dreamed, Tumblr-reblogged, identity crises of fashion expressiveness of EPIC proportions—like, EPIC, man. In my conversations with my admirers, I repeat the manic 140 characters or less iterations of the cool crusaders streamlined for product placement in my generation. I spin the story of endless waves, summertime, freedom, just something chill, a Biggie lyric, some dielectric, bold-faced lie falling out of a lopsided grin that masks the hollow, dead stare in my eyes. I am manically searching for a reprieve so this crusade of selfdestruction I undertook in college could mean something to my posterity, or at least my non-existent Roth IRA. My only investments are my mind and spirit, and they are completely contingent upon the way I see the world. If I diversify my options, I also have my womb, the caverns of all humanity. I have been living off these things and I am hungry; it is as if there is not enough time in the world, yet absolutely everything is at a standstill, floating on to a disquieting remix of a song I used to love but now only remember whispers of its melody. I dreamt of change so furtively that I felt an ache inside of me that I had once lived it. I wished for it so hard that all the truths in my world turned to dust and sat where my concept of reality once lived. All I have to give is what I feel. What more can I desire to give to the world without being a bloody fool, a hot mess in between a joke and a dream about reality and her place as a racial minority in society, the dirt for the spoiled land of the inbred pecking order. Fuck the world. I am a dynasty of duality reaching out for my main bitches Medusa and Calypso, down to ride girls with blunts of kush dipped in Promethazine, ready for the night ride to nowhere in the middle of the hearttransplanted American Dream. Lub-dub-lub-dub-lub-dub-lub-dub-lub-dub; bass bumping from the speakers, pounding on the walls, vibrating in your belly, falling from your lips as you suck back a beer and rub on a stranger. Twirl around in a circle as sweat drips from the ceiling. Do you hear it? Are you


feeling it? It is hot, and you are drunk and high, and laughing with a wet grin slipping down your face in place of tears, because it is your song and you had a great pregame. Your mouth is dry and the gum is stale in your mouth. You are escaping the blues by embodying them; the hunger pangs of your soul are dull because of the way this liquor has your brain cells lysing. You are sloshing through reality on empty, one grand toxin melting like cheap makeup, waterproof mascara, everything that says skin to skin. Put an L to the sky, raise a cold cup of brew foaming over the crystallized cloud you sit on. Stare at the world with glow-in-the-dark stars in your eyes. Sail through time zoning and head back to your past. Fuck it; barrel onwards towards infinity in hot pursuit of beauty within the disaster of the entire funhouse freak show. Party! Live the party-girl dream you have been sold on by those who sell beer, cigarettes, and Solo cups. Dance! This thing that I was after was a purposeless, abstract concept. It was stranded in between two thoughts in the barren wasteland of deferred dreams. Somewhere around the roughage of fallow thoughts and life aspirations, it sprouted up like a weed, germinating from the seeds of discontent sewn from years of systematic suppression. Prior to this, I was the Prefect of Perfection; I sustained my parents’ wet dreams long after their intimacy had dissipated. The abstraction was a siren that beckoned me to adhere to the greater sensibility within my being that commanded me to skip, run, leap, and look at how HIGH I get to jump. The wind rushed through my hair, drew tears from eyelids, popped my ears, and carried my fears away in one brief, uninterrupted motion of guzzling whiskey. But then there it was: the blatant obtuseness of the abstraction sitting on my conscience as I strained from my dorm bed to see my parents’ picture on my desk. It kept me awake at night, beating and scratching at me, an unwanted pregnancy of the mind desiring to be held. I was an unfit mother constantly surrounded by manipulative friends. It took a village to raise this child, so I invited Maria Juana along to help break the ice. She brought her friends José, Jack Daniels, Jim Bean, Don Julio, Svedka, and Smirnoff. I went around the world, my head spinning like a globe and my body staying in the same place, dehydrated from a thirst of the soul so rooted in my lifestyle that


I had to shed skin and tear vaginal walls to reattach myself with a concept of a human form. The abstract desire had driven me wild, wilder than my grandest conceptions of virility and insanity. It pushed me to the outskirts of thought, and I found myself refilling that notion of humanity with the delirious, redeyed pursuit of the shadows of various chemical highs. I chased friendship and fun with a vigor reserved for those who believed in changing the world. I held the disbelief of a new-world order in my heart but proceeded to promote its validity with a straight face and dark glimmer in my eyes. It was all laughs and loneliness, and when the laughter went away it was hunger and pain drilling holes into my new concept of being. I began to die from the inside out, just a little bit closer to the origins of my soul, wired off all-nighters, drugs, and hazy realizations I tried to hold on to with limp hands. My heart bled with passion, menstruating for seven days in freshman week, and then it was dry. It became a flaky-brown and fueled the fury burning inside my being like Toxic Shock Syndrome. I barreled onwards into the throes of house party Hell with the taste of death upon my lips. The parties of freshman week stuck together like a Solo cup and orange cooler in red rings of hunch punch on a messy countertop. Behold: the crime scene of the cool, disaffected youth. We used the parties to set our souls on fire because this was the chic path to self-discovery. The music was loud and we crowded around in the multiple rooms trying to find an outlet for our thirst. More specifically, we had two hours to get it in before the police came. There was a dip in energy after the first shots and drugs were ingested, and then suddenly we were gone, crazy with blind enthusiasm, quoting platitudes like rap lyrics to popular songs our bourgeoisie upbringings would never allow us to fully understand. We were faded, wavy, tweaking in a moment of suspended oblivion, half-texting, half-flirting, and broadcasting it all in 140 characters or less. Welcome to the age of nuanced intelligence: a fretful reading in between the lines of the wet walls of the American Dream, penned by a foreign landlord. Whose house is this, I think I know. He is miles away, tottering along the lines of insanity and blithe freedom while sacrifice sits upon his cluttered desk tops of maturity like a mortgage he commissions an irresponsible college kid to pay in the form of monthly rent. We pay our


tithes to party, so this house is ours; the walls are pregnant with our sweat and souls. Outside these perspiring, vibrating walls is a bleak dimension of reality: war, modern slavery, city government, poverty, climate change, socioeconomic tensions, gerrymandered subdivisions, white flight, gentrification, and class lines blurring in a melting pot of an abandoned future, whirling around in a discontinued ad-infinitum loop. Thankfully, we are oblivious to it all. That is what this chemically-induced happiness is: blissful ignorance magnified on the scale of resurrected soulful abandonment. While the world is suffering, we play musical chairs with our lives, downing pills and drinks, one by one, for something to chase while being chased by the feeling of almost losing it all. The global neighborhood is changing and we are mourning, disguising it as a party. We are college students: the relief workers and youth ambassadors to the world’s social soul. We are here to save the you. Pass me a lighter and let the colorful insanity ensue. The year was 2008. We are heading down along the black slide of the distended belly of an orphan suffering from malnutrition; his plight is broadcasted into your world at 2 AM on an infomercial you no longer have to watch, because you are out trying to get fucked and getting turnt up in a city! By God, by JOVE, by HERA, by it all! We are condemned to demarcated off-campus wooden fortresses that time and truth have done nothing but highlight as the last playgrounds before the big show; and now the grand finale: the fat, prima-donna jawn bleating the ballad of discontentment sentiments allocated for those who did well on the SATs. Chuch. All God’s people say, “AMEN” to the pursuit of the post-coital fluids, nature’s Elmer’s glue to broken libidos, daddy issues, and good, oldfashioned and quick sexually frustrated finishes. With each dowsed cup of hunch punch I felt the thirst rise in me like a literary declaration. Eroticism accelerated from somewhere suppressed in my head to my frontal lobe. Not exactly tingling, because this Everclear has me numb and stumbling my way in the dark around the thin waist of a boy I danced with. Watery smiles slide with sweat off our faces like an inside joke of a friendship developed 30 minutes at a time. I love everyone, and I love the world, and I love this boy because I have decided that tonight he is going to deflower me. Tonight, the night for the special occasion, is rather unremarkable because it is long overdue. It is all just a whim, a lark almost,


and I had lost all feeling, but this way it did not hurt and I was just a tad late socially but not late enough that I became uncool. Until then I had spent my time batting away empty excuses and sexual advances of the past with a shyness that felt more like an angry superiority. I could not lose my virginity stereotypically. He had to be a dark prince with a hard-on who would forget me as soon as we finished but remember me (and my abs) because of it forever. Long live empty sex with a strong finish! Long live being fucked and never thought about again! I felt destined to be fulfilled in that empty way by memories of heat and passion experienced on the side of buildings and under staircases: true love for a night. It all just sounded so nice. I stared at my stranger through double-vision as I slipped in and out of consciousness. 15 cups of hunch punch doth make a dark prince. I was suddenly aware I was finally drunk enough to give it a go. We whirled towards the bathroom. I pulled him inside, closed the door, and turned on the light he immediately reached to turn off.

What the fuck? It had to happen fast.

We stood there in the dark, and he was sort of confused, overwhelmed, a green actor with stage fright who had forgotten his lines. In the movies, there were no words for what I wanted him to do, so I guided him along with gentle body language like the spunky, independent, feminine, indie protagonist. I began to feel impatient as he got all 6th Grade on me. Too many moments of scared, brief pecks, the sausage stuffing of two fingers, and nothing in the category of skills, just bumbling confusion and poor execution. The impatience erupted into irritation. Bitch, you ain’t no virgin is you? I hissed in my head. Except I was drunk so it sounded more like, “Umm—do you have a condom?”


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