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Victoria Sambunaris. 1Untitled (Dunes); Near El Centro, CA, 2010

Victoria Sambunaris. 2Untitled (Red containers, wet ground); Fort Worth, TX, 2000

Victoria Sambunaris. 4Untitled (talc mine benches); Cameron, MT, 2009

Victoria Sambunaris. 8Untitled (Distant orange trucks docked with cornfield); Janesville, WI, 2001

Victoria Sambunaris. 3Untitled (Uranium tailings); Mexican Hat, UT, 2005

Victoria Sambunaris. 5Untitled (Copper mine); Bingham Canyon, UT, 2002

Victoria Sambunaris. 6Untitled (White trains on salt flats, I-80); Great Salt Lake Desert, UT, 2002

Altered landscapes from human activities and industry, from the series Taxonomy of a Landscape by American photographer Victoria Sambunaris.

via bldgblog + medium

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The mornings are when it hurts the most. When you wake up a blank, fuzzy slate and all your defenses are still down. And as things slowly come back to you, you remember her. Then you remember that she is gone, that she is no longer part of your life. And you remember what she did to you. At times, entire mornings are spent grappling with raw hurt and the burden of loss.

As the day progresses, you remember the things you tell yourself to shrug the pain off. Sayings and quotes you picked up here and there and cocoon yourself in. Sometimes they work. Sometimes, not so well.

Memories assault you as you emerge from your slumber. In the beginning, you had to deal with the hurt of her abrupt departure. Then the anger at her infliction. Now, it’s just this deep sense of loss. Little things about her, what you used to talk about or do together, just floating in like a thick fog, blinding you to everything. And the stinging reminder that those things – the sum of them being her – are out of your life now. That you will never see them ever again. Now you just feel like an amputee.

Eventually, the hailstorm mercifully tapers off and you find your place in the swing of things once more. You start to function and soldier through the painful aftermath. You remember the things you were told. That you would be fine. That it was never your fault. That you were too good for somebody who was apparently just looking for shallow thrills. You climb the apex of the dizzying heights of elation. You laugh with friends and some semblance of normalcy finally starts to set in.

Then the day ends and you once again strip off your armor, completely vulnerable to the next morning’s recollections.

I smile a little when you walk past
My already chink eyes turn to slits
When our eyes meet
When you flash me a shy smile
I also crack a little inside
Here is another denied you

The smile I give back
Is true
The veneer of confidence I exude
Is not.

The toil of pulling my smile down
Shallow enough
To look friendly
Of keeping my gaze brief
Fleeting enough
To appear formal
Gets heavier by the day

I’m biting my tongue off
As you skip away
Into the dazzling light

While I sit here and write my shallow poetry

I, too, will write

And create a story as beautiful and hopeless as ours.
A story of wistfulness.
A story of sadness. Of lost love. Doomed love.
Oh, such blissful damnation it was.

I will recreate this story
Like how I held you once again in my dreams
How we smiled and talked and laughed again
Just like before.
And make people weep
Like I wept.

Someday, time and experience shall free me
To write like how I so desired today.

It’s unraveling inside
Flooding and making a mess of things
And I’m helpless
Powerless to pour it out.
Words are still insufficient
– And perhaps will always be –
To capture what I had seen and felt.
(And what you truly meant to me.)

For a moment
All this rancor evaporated
To reveal the raw state of things.
I still miss you dearly, it seems. Perhaps I always will.

(The cold is slowly killing the dormant giant, but however long shall it take?)

And may I gladly accept it
As gladly as I have sought you out in the beginning
No longer carrying the shackles of bitterness on me.
Haven’t I suffered enough, after all?

Well written and poignant.

Thought Catalog

It occurred to me the other day that there might be people in this world who have never known unrequited love, have never fallen for someone who didn’t fall too.

I know it’s rarer than a solar eclipse, but it seems likely that some have managed it; people who married their high school sweetheart, who got it right on the first try, who were seemingly born with enough innate confidence to walk right up to the object of their affection and say, “I think you’re great, would you like to go on a date sometime” and whose confidence was rewarded with a resolute, “Absolutely, I’d love to” and a Happily Ever After. The rest of us would be inclined to murder a couple like this if we ever came across them, but I maintain that they are the ones who are missing out. Everyone should fall for someone who doesn’t…

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Like a lotus emerging
From the mud,
So have you appeared,
In this world,
Yet not of it.

I consider myself
Most blessed of all men
For having glimpsed upon your face.
Not even Michelangelo,
With all his magnificent frescoes,
Could have conceived of such beauty.
The most flowery prose of Marquez wilts,
Inadequate to fully describe your radiance.
The supple, rich compositions of Mozart
Are a rancorous cacophony
Compared to the melody of your voice.
Your entire being is a testament
To the masterful craftsmanship of our Lord.

I may circumnavigate this world
Sample the most luscious of delicacies
Climb the lofty peak of Everest
Swim the English Channel
Trek the Ural Mountains
Watch the Caribbean sunset
Walk the entirety of the Great Wall

But none of these
shall hope to compare with
the blissful moment
When my eyes fell upon you.
It was truly a day of days,
One which no other can rival.

You stood out
A swan
Regal in its repose
Babbling away
In their ignominy.

I have found my muse —
Alas! —
But for a moment.

Yet I shall not rage.
Neither shall I weep.
Just because
He got to you first.
Just because
He is
More worthy
Of you.

I shall not fly
Into a maelstrom of emotion
Sulk with resentment
And seethe with envy
Just for losing
I never even had.
Just because
She will never be mine.

I shall not have
To lower and abandon myself
To the maddening clutches
Of grief
To wantonly fling
My artless soul
At the burning altar
Of undignified melancholy.

For it is foolish.

Yet I cannot help
But do exactly this.
Act like the boy,
The child,
That I am.

For what else am I?

I am not a man
Like him
After all.

Not adequate
For anything
Resembling a soulmate
For anyone
Like her.

I can never hold you
In my arms
Never gaze
Into your eyes
My ears can never hear you
Sweet nothings.
My lips shall never
Meet yours.

So what
Can I do

But mourn?

Thought Catalog

1. You can’t please everybody. Unless you’re dead. But even that can piss some people off.

2. Be nice, or at least be civil. No, it won’t make you the most lovable person in the world. Do it anyway.

3. Eat right as much as possible. No supplement can magically make you healthy and flush out the junk you put in your body.

4. Make time for exercise. Nature designed you to move. Get your butt off the couch.

5. Do what you love but avoid getting yourself in jail.

6. Be wary of self-proclaimed experts of everything. It’s impossible for one person to know it all. They’re either crazy or trying to wheedle money from you.

7. That being said, have a healthy amount of skepticism and open-mindedness.

8. Speak your mind when you must. The world often gives way to people with agendas; being passive is like laying…

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A flurry of limbs, grunts of aggression, and labored breathing. And finally, that all-too familiar “tap-tap”.

This was what chess would be like if it were distilled into a fighting system. Brazilian Jiujitsu is a thinking man’s martial art. A simple stance branching into an ever-spreading tree of transitions, holds, chokes, and joint locks. The possibilities are endless. And the style is evolving.

This is what I do at least thrice a week. Step on the mat, learn a few techniques, and somehow convince myself that I was learning the complex art of Jiujitsu. Except that I was not. I had already managed to analyze the techniques taught to us in every class, but I still had no idea what to do when the time came to spar, or ‘roll’, in BJJ parlance. It is a complex style indeed. And complex was something my brain had trouble dealing with.

I had been subjecting myself to ritual manhandling and undergoing what clothes must endure when thrown into a washing machine – I had been doing this for the better part of four months. I had picked up the terminology, learned the basic techniques, and managed to mimic the foundational moves, all through various sources. The only thing lacking was intelligent application of all that I had learned so far.

So understand my chagrin earlier tonight when the past months of Sisyphean efforts had culminated in a relentless festival of domination primarily in the form of agonizing armbars and debilitating triangle chokes. It was a regular Monday night session for the rest of them, but for me, it was a melt-down.

Frustration threatened to burst out of me in the form of tears of discouragement. It was to my credit that I held them back with sheer force of will, but for a few seconds more. I excused myself under the pretext of fatigue, shimmied to the other end of the gym, took half a sip of water, and wiped away the tears that were already streaming out. I felt humiliated and emasculated, even more so than before. I could no longer smile and shrug off the defeat with a, “good one!” My God. Who pays two thousand pesos a month just to be shown the utter reality of his shortcomings for at least three nights a week? Drill sergeants would gladly do it for free at boot camp.

I remember a quote about Brazilian Jiujitsu: there’s always a way out. You just have to find it. There is always a reversal. A neutralizing technique. Something to stuff your opponent’s assault while you think of an appropriate counterattack.

Brazilian Jiujitsu preserves the gravity of the belts that other styles once held. A black belt in, say, Olympic Taekwondo hardly means anything anymore these days. In BJJ, it still means at least a decade’s worth of blood, sweat, and, yes, definitely tears. Isn’t this what it truly means to earn my next belt?

I know that I will leave the mat different from when I stepped onto it. I step off as a stronger man. A man with superior experience and more resilient resolve. Because that is what the martial arts are all about: honing of one’s spirit and will through pain. To master Jiujitsu, you must master yourself. You must overcome the discouragement and soldier on through the pain. You must slay your pride and rediscover how it truly is like to begin once again, knowing absolutely nothing.

And the encouragement and camaraderie from one’s brothers in arms don’t hurt one bit.

Quite insightful.

By the will of our Gods

You serve yours
I serve mine

Of separate allegiances

The sun yearning for the moon
Its burning touch begging
For her cool gaze

Just what does your heart desire,

My ancestors ask
Their pagan eyes boring into me.

I desire her, of course
Her warm, soft flesh
Her melodious laugh.

What is it that you seek,

My ancestors demand
Faces cold as ancient starlight.

Her, with her idiosyncratic appetites
And her languid temper

All of her, body, mind, and spirit.

You dishonor us,

They thunder

You are weak.

Ah, but the lilt of your voice
Echoes into the abyss of my unconscious
However foolish my answers be
However weak my resolve is.

And you have no idea how much the sight of you
Banishes the accursed doldrums

Yet we both know
That despite all this

We are meant to be

Forever apart.