Thursday. 7.5.12 4:22 pm
“At the end of the day,” Miles says as he looks through me, “I know that I did something to make somebody out there just a little bit safer.”
The three of us sat at that table Monday afternoon an hour before she entered, a fitted Warriors cap on her head and a sling holding her arm in place. We all stood up when she arrived, led in by one of the staff social workers. Miles, an attorney who first became a prosecutor around the time my mother arrived in this country, stood at the head of the table, left arm extended to welcome the new arrival to sit beside him. He gave her an earnest grin, the type he always uses for complaining witness interviews.
“Alyssa. I’m glad you were able to make it. Come have a seat besides me, yeah?”
She obliges with both a nod and then a weakened smile. Miles, a native Hawaiian man of Japanese descent, pulls out her chair before turning to look across the table to Linus, another attorney.
“I’m Miles. I will be the lead prosecutor on your abuse case, Alyssa. Seated across the table is Linus – he’s another attorney here to help. If you don’t mind, he’ll be videorecording our interview this afternoon. Is that alright with you?”
She shrugs and grumbled a sullen “Okay.” before Miles continued.
“You’ve already met Cynthia,” he said with a nod to the social worker who accompanied her inside. “Oh! And this,” he says as all eyes turn to me, “is Jonathan. He’s here interning from some school on the mainland… you’ve probably never heard of it though. Harvard
.” He laughed. One of those harsh, guttural chuckles you’d hear at the end of a Carlton from Fresh Prince joke. “Why he chose to come all the way out to Maui is beyond me!”
Alyssa, a native girl around my age, forced a smile as she sat down. Over the course of the next hour, I sat across from this girl and watched her tell her tale.
Her boyfriend actually sounds like an interesting guy. He’s a surfer – pretty accomplished one, even. They actually met surfing and spent most of their dates on the North Shore, surfing or hiking like weird white people do.
(For the life of me, I’ll never understand the appeal behind hiking.. “Hey guys, let’s go WALK! Uphill! It’ll be as fun as you know.. walking.. uphill.. wait, why am I doing this again?” Hiking is almost as bad as camping.)
Anyway, they dated for a month or so before they got serious. About seven weeks into exclusivity he began acting funny. He’d get real jealous when another dude would look or speak to her and accuse her of cheating. When she denied it, he would yell. When she yelled back, he punched her in the jaw and told her not to talk back.
He apologized, reminded her of all the good times, and beg her to take him back.. and she did. The next time they argued, he tried punching her again but she ducked. He ended up slugging a wall and fucking up his hand so bad that he needed a cast.
So he kicked her instead. In the stomach. Then pinned her to the ground, burying his knee deep into her sternum, and choked her with his good hand until she passed out. While she laid unconscious, he kicked her immobilized body hard enough to dislocate her arm.
When everyone left the office that day but Miles and I, I asked him what the best part about his job was.
“That’s why I do this job – we all know it ain’t for the money,” he said with another one of those Fresh Prince laughs again. I believe him. Not sure if it’s what I’ll end up doing though.
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Letter to my landlord that Im leaving on his counter -- UPDATED WITH THE BACKSTORY
Tuesday. 6.12.12 2:39 pm
Saturday. 6.9.12 8:39 pm
Monday. 4.30.12 10:06 am
The difference between us
Thursday. 4.12.12 6:44 pm
“I, um… hm.” The hesitation lasted longer than I anticipated. I glanced up from the latin cuisine set before me and toward the latina sitting beside me. I answered the only way I knew how.
“I suppose I just want to do well—wait, no. I want to do good.”
“See, that’s the difference between you and I, Jonathan,” Dinara tells me with a smirk. “You want to do good. I want to do well.”
Dinara and I have grown remarkably closer over the past few months. Scheduled hour-long lunch dates evolved into dinner dates that lasted for hours, followed by art shows, movie debuts, riverside walks, and fireside talks. While there is a remarkable chemistry between us, I can't bring myself to give what I suspect she wants: true commitment. A label, even.
Her future career goals are standard fare as far as law school goes. The mantra she’s pushed on me over the past couple months, “prestige matters,” might as well be the slogan for these risk-averse brainiacs that surround me here. They long to work for top law firm, making top dollars, and living in the top cities. Even if the cost is, in my opinion, their soul. Personally, I could never work for a firm that represents BP oil against residents of new orleans who lost their homes and livelihoods -- even if they were paying me 20,000 a month like her and so many others.
To be fair, I've been getting a lot of pushback on my career decisions as well. Not only from my classmates like Dinara but even from people I hold in higher regard like Caitlin.
She doesn't really get me anymore.
Not sure if she ever did.
But more on that later.
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'tis a good day to saunter
Monday. 4.9.12 11:39 am
Joel is the kind of person whose smile illuminates his entire face – you wouldn’t have to look at his mouth to recognize his grin. I reckon it’s in the eyebrows. He’s got this way of arching them at just the right angle when he smiles – and he smiles frequently – that endears you to him. There’s a certain.. genuine quality to him that is stronger than that found in others ‘round these parts. He’s a good guy.
There’s a steady confidence to his ways I couldn’t even begin to feign. Joel was actually the first student here that really engaged me. The day of orientation, all 80 members of my section toured campus in various countenances. Some were genuinely excited, others merely donned that mask of eagerness. Everyone was remarkably nice and at least tried to be friendly. Well, almost everyone.
The ever-present outlier I am, I could not help but allow my pensive nature to overtake any desire I had to mingle and quickly found myself in the back of the throng of students. I lumbered behind the group, sauntering and taking in the sights rather than brisk by them to keep up with the horde. Joel, perhaps noticing my Thoreau-like saunter, slowed his own pace down and engaged me in conversation.
“What do you think,” he says to me with an eager expression?
“.. I don’t.”
I think I won him over with that quip. He laughed, introduced himself, and told me some of his story – lived in Pittsburgh, Maryland, North Carolina and Saigon. Went to H for undergrad and is now back for law school. As the year passed, he quickly established himself as one of the sharpest minds in the class, quick to speak up and usually with the right answer.. but never in the smug or condescending way one would expect.
I’m not entirely sure what it is he sees in me that makes him want friendship. I suppose, and hope, that it’s the same genuine quality in me that I see in him.
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