Father’s Daughter

Father’s Daughter

I grew up being the princess, plastic baby pink heels, and plastic jeweled crowns all to my disposal. I am the only daughter and the youngest of three childrenーan ascribed status and with an attitude to carry it out. The pink paint of my walls eventually faded and the jeweled crowns eventually broke. Being a princess wasn’t a reality anymore and I took my interests elsewhere. I was always a “daddy’s girl” and I could do no harm; being into literature and music as I grew up was just the start of being more like my father than any family member could see coming, especially my mom.

My mom wanted to spoil her only daughter and raise me to be just like her. She tried her best to get me to cook, her pride and joy. We started with quesadillas, then on to eggs; easy stove top cooking. I conquered the art of making scrambled eggs, eating them almost every day until my brother made me a runny batch, and I have not liked them the same since. After the eggs, I didn’t see the point of continuing further. Regardless of whether I could cook, my mother still made the food and would remind me almost every night how badly she wished I could cook or how I have to learn how to cook “for when I have a family.” This nagging only made me more distant. The sound of my mother’s voice complaining from the echo of the kitchen made me walk away.

The kitchen was only the start. Eventually, my joy of clothes diminished. As a child, she would spoil me with new clothes, buying such bold and pleasing outfits for me to wear. My taste changed as I got my own sense of style, and she found herself tired of returning clothes that just didn’t work for me. Her baby pink blouses did not enthuse me in comparison to black band t-shirts. She’d then offer to buy me clothes of my choosing, but I’d tell her, “No, thanks,” as I always had a book in mind. She turned away, frustrated at with my priorities. By the time I was fifteen, she eventually came to the conclusion that it was probably best that I wanted to buy books over clothes. My mom’s way of treating her daughter went from buying me clothes to taking me to a bookstore, leaving me alone for two hours as I roamed, and maybe buying me a book if I was on my best behavior. I thought that was awesome, however, she probably didn’t at first.
My mom used to tell me as a kid that I wasn’t allowed to call her my “best friend.”

“I am not your friend, I am your mom,” she said. As a kid, this was so plain to me, because why would I call my mom my best friend? I used to have a bitter taste when my friends would refer to their moms as best friends, because I didn’t understand wanting to be with my mom more than necessary. I’ve spent the most time with my mom, to a fault, as if she were a best friend. I know every step to take to make her angry, as she does with me. My family likes to remind me that when I was a baby, I used to cling to my mom. I lost count of the times my grandmother told me that I never wanted to be with anyone other than my mom.

“We used to try to hold you and play with you, and you would just cry until your mom picked you up,” my grandmother said.
“Quincy was always momma’s girl,” my aunt chimed. I found this hard to believe as a teenager, as my mom and I stepped on each other’s toes the most in my household. My loud, argumentative mouth countered my mother’s authority throughout my childhood. When you have one daughter, what else would anyone expect? It is only natural for mothers and daughters to become annoyed with each other. It is obviously not the same for every mother and daughter, however, there is always this sense of annoyance from the daughter, because we think the mother is hovering and pushing for no reason. For a mother, there is a struggle, because most of the time, they try to get the best out of their daughter, and some just don’t know the right way to go about it. As an adult, I can now appreciate how my mom treated me, or maybe I can appreciate it because she relaxed more once I turned eighteen.

My mom would tell me, “You are your father’s daughter,” which almost had a hint of resentment because I wasn’t my mother’s daughter. However, I think most would agree that my interests and personality were nothing like my mom’s. As a teenager, I embraced this. I thought it was a good thing. I wanted to be my dad, I wanted to be a lawyer like my dad; my desire was focused on being like my dad. I sought my dad’s approval rather than my mom’s, which I think annoyed her, naturally. The housewife lifestyle my mom lived was never in my plans. I couldn’t wrap my head around the mom haircut, the apron attire, and the life in the kitchen. As the only daughter, I think people just expected me to shadow my mom, and I grew up doing the opposite of people’s expectations. There was something so attractive about not being what everyone thought I’d be.

The frustration grew more as she realized that our personalities were not matching up. I had a strong case of introvert, which started taking place at the age of twelve. My mom was an extrovert, and for most of my life, so was I. You can imagine the dramatic shift when my mom started realizing that I spent much more time alone than I did with people. Though I never found controlled isolation a problem, she did. She thought I was depressed, which is apparently not an abnormal reaction when you witness your loud, annoying, ham of a daughter become a reserved teenager, gripping to anything but social interactions. The amount of times when she yelled at me for being quiet are countless. It always started in the car.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, annoyed
“Nothing,” I answered, honestly.
“You better not have a bad attitude right now, I’ll just take you home.” This threat was a frequent occurrence. I would often argue and defend myself, and tell her, “Now I have a bad attitude because you’re assuming I did when I didn’t.” It eventually got to the point where I wouldn’t argue and instead continue my silence. She had to learn somehow that someone being quiet wasn’t a personal affliction, or perhaps I was just thinking, God forbid. She started arguments that were never necessary, yet totally necessary to figure out her only daughter. This frustrated me just as much as it did her. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong by not socializing all the time, and I sure as hell didn’t want to be nagged for something I didn’t understand. These comments about my attitude evolved into, “You look like you have a lot on your mind,” which was most of the time true.

My dad has a chronic anxiety disorder, which was a massive change for my mom and the rest of my family as it progressed. Along with not being able to understand her daughter, she was trying to make sense of anxiety with my dad. There is nothing to make sense of, I’ve concluded, it’s a mental disorder, incurable, though manageable. By nineteen, I realized that I had dealt with a lot of anxiety myself since I was ten, and it was only getting worse. I didn’t tell my mom because I didn’t think she could handle more than what was on her plate; sensitive and strong, she held our family together as she saw her husband suffering. I compromised because of this, figuring my anxiety was just a part of being a teenager. By the final year of my teens, I told her about my anxieties as subtly as I could, which was not taken so subtly. For her sake, I watered down as much as I could, explaining the knife I felt in my chest as if the knife were rubber, not causing too much pain. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe me at first, it was that she didn’t want to believe her daughter was dealing with what her husband dealt with. As she listened to me, I became more vocal. I would tell her about my feelings and my thought process. I shared the intrusive thoughts of my own criticism that bled through everything I did and my immobile state when I got overwhelmed with the possibility of failure. She responded with that motherly certainty and concern, “You sound just like your father.”

My selfishness and independence started diminishing as I got older and I found a common ground with her throughout the years. Her favorite activity besides cooking had always been writing. The times I left home to go read, I asked her to join me. As I read my depressing Russian literature, she wrote; both of us with earphones plugged in. If someone were to look at us, they may say we were disconnected with each other, because the sight of us with earphones in, doing separate things as a mother and daughter may have looked as though we were ignoring each other. But we were together.

I looked closely at my parents and how they worked as such opposites. Amongst moral values, one was music. That was one of the compromises between my parents. They agreed that classic rock will forever be better music than the stuff we listen to now. When we were children, my mom didn’t allow us to listen to pop radio. She didn’t want us to look up to those pop stars, like Britney and Christina, so we grew up on classic rock. My mom leaned more toward R&B, where my dad leaned more toward metal and punk, and I being my father’s daughter, leaned the same way. My mom couldn’t really tolerate much angst in 90s alternative rock, and of course, this was the anthem of my entire adolescence. I discovered my favorite band, Nirvana, at the age of twelve, and my mom didn’t understand the joy I got from this band. I felt a freedom listening to them and was happy that it was a band that I discovered on my own. I made her listen to an acoustic, live version of a song by Nirvana called “The Man Who Sold the World.” She immediately knew it was not a Nirvana song. She looked at me with certainty and said, “This is Bowie.” I nodded my head. Without my force of opinion, she said, “I think I actually prefer this version.” I had successfully moved her to another common ground. I shake my head as she now asks me to play Radiohead’s “Special” song or the joyful song that is Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” as she cooks in the kitchen.

One day, while we were drinking coffee, I asked my mom for some advice on how to cure a hangover. She grabbed the sugar from my hand and told me, “No sugar in coffee.” I wrote this down because I found it comical that my mom was willing to give me hangover advice. I then realized I wanted to make a list of advice my mom has given me. That same week, I found my mom in the kitchen, her version of an office, and she was dancing to Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer Maker” while wrapping her maroon apron around her waist. I asked her what she was cooking. She said tacos and rice. Not just any rice, of course: Spanish rice. She looked over at me from the stove, her wooden spoon in hand, and pointed it at me. “Learn how to make Spanish rice and you will make your husband happy.” I noted the certain charisma a cook has, but even more so, a mother who cooks. Her favorite place in the house was the kitchen; this is where she felt most free. The place that I find myself leaving the quickest to avoid cooking or doing kitchen chores is the place my mother thrives. I didn’t feel so annoyed that night and asked her if she needed help. Not giving it a second thought, she said yes, and walked me over towards the rice. Her face brightened as she looked over at me pouring the tomato sauce in the rice and mixing it. That night after dinner, she offered to drive me to the bookstore to buy that Existentialist book I’d been wanting.

I know my growing up had a lot to do with the change in our relationship. As the years have passed, I’ve grown closer to her. I’ve had to get over myself and my defiance, she had to get over who she thought I would be. Maybe it was those hard circumstances in our life that brought us together. In the direst of circumstances, I’ve had to soften and realize that I need my mom much more than I think I do. I can’t say she’s my best friend, because she would be upset with me, but our mother-daughter relationship is something much more. My admiration and love for my dad never ceased, but I’ve gained a whole new admiration and love for my mom. Between the yelling and the tense silence, we found our medium.

When she writes me little letters from time to time, she always writes, “It’s an honor to be your mom.” I don’t think I could have accepted that years ago because I didn’t understand it. Now I can accept it and proudly say it’s an honor to be her daughter. My friends who know my mom will read this and agree that it is an absolute honor to be her daughter. I hear it constantly: “I love your mom…Your mom is the best…Your mom is so sweet.”
And I agree with them just about every time.


Writer: Quincy Roach is currently attending Fullerton College in pursuits of becoming a teacher. This is her first published creative nonfiction piece.

Artist: Andres Martinez was born in Mexico City and is inspired by the people of his home country. He has adopted Chicano arte and has come up with his unique style. Through murals, drawings and paintings, he relates the message of struggle, achievements, and common people. Andres commemorates and emphasizes the struggles and existence of the gente that he portrays. With these portraits, he would like his audience to not only admire but ponder who these everyday people are and what stories they have to tell.


 

The Same Chorus

The Same Chorus

He is standing in the middle of the street
Fidgeting with a cigarette in his hand,
The ashes slowly falling to the ground,
The embers flaring—voicing their final words
Before extinguishing themselves.

The silhouette of his sunken shoulders
And hanging head
Is outlined by six letters
That announce their existence with flickering neon lights.

L – I – Q – U – O – R

From a neighboring window sill
He hears an ominous chorus begin to play.
He begins swaying to every note,
Reminiscing with every lyric.

Every memory is eating at his flesh.
Every letter etching its way into his bones.
Branding him another failure.
He is standing in the middle of the street
Fidgeting with a cigarette in his hand,
The ashes slowly falling to the ground,
The embers flaring—voicing their final words
Before extinguishing themselves.

The silhouette of his sunken shoulders
And hanging head
Is outlined by six letters
That announce their existence with flickering neon lights.

L – I – Q – U – O – R

From a neighboring window sill
He hears an ominous chorus begin to play.
He begins swaying to every note,
Reminiscing with every lyric.

Every memory is eating at his flesh.
Every letter etching its way into his bones.
Branding him another failure,
Another star to cross paths with.

She, on the other hand,
wanted nothing to do with him.
She thought that if she treated every memory like poison,
and every shot like a remedy,
that the regret and shame would disappear miraculously

Maybe then betrayal would stop being her Warden Officer
dotting the sky with guilty thoughts,
Or a voice preaching the holy gospel of lust.

So she persuaded the sun to follow into the night.
Substituting sun rays with the city lights,
And the warmth that radiated on her skin
With the burning sensation felt in her throat.
She went on stumbling between bars
Listening to the same slurred lines of romance.

She was waiting.
Waiting for her heart to flutter

Like when he spoke to her.

She laughed.
She cried.
She fell.

Listening to the same chorus.


Writer: Anthony Camacho fell in love with rap and literature at a young age. He saw both of them as a way to see the world from different perspectives. As a result, his love turned into a practiced passion. His passion for writing soon found its home in poetry and spoken word, allowing him to create events inspired by those around him, their emotions, and his own problems.

Artist: Ali Ha is a student at Fullerton College.


 

An Apology

An Apology

I gave him the silent treatment
for three days
until he stopped me
and hugged me.
His hug so tight, I stood numb.
Apologizing, my eyes lower
as he tells me it will probably happen again.
My body shaking,
I did not say it was okay,
I did not lie through my chattering teeth.
He calls me useless in front of his son,
my father.
My best friend and I run out of the house,
my words stumble over each other,
composure stretched thin.
I find myself alone
in a room, dead silence—I crumble.
My hands never leaving my face,
trying to keep tears from falling,
holding reality in.
I see myself in the mirror,
my eyes red and swollen.
Silence
had never been louder.
Its eighty degrees hot outside,
yet I pull a big blanket over myself
as my warm tears bring chills over my body,
my head feeling every tick and tock
from the grandfather clock in the house.
Pieces in me broke the moment I heard the roar
of my father’s voice
telling his own father that he never
has to come to another one of his grandchildren’s birthdays
ever again;
my eyes nearly scratched out
when I saw my mom crying.
My grandfather tells me he’s sorry, though
he’ll probably do it again. I wonder when
he will be sorry enough to stop drinking.


Writer: Quincy Roach is currently attending Fullerton College in pursuits of becoming a teacher.

Artist: Cassandra Jimenez is a third year student at Fullerton college. She plans on completing her Associate’s Degree in Art and plans on transferring to a four-year university to receive a Bachelor’s Degree. Cassandra has loved art since she was small. But, her interest in art increased when she took intermediate and advanced art in high school. She prefers water color painting but also enjoys drawing and even creating murals. Her love for art is displayed in her work.


 

Words from the Grill

Words from the Grill

My father had asked me one night if I wanted to go with him to the Korean barbecue grill that I often spoke fondly of.

I was in my room when he walked in to ask and I pretended to be studying for a class I never had for a term I wasn’t enrolled in. My mother had gone to work for her overnight shift at the hospital, and my sister was quick to decline the offer in favor of watching a movie with friends. My father was always at home, studying throughout the day and sleeping for a few hours, only to wake in the dead of night to continue studying. At the time, I was taking a small break from college due to low grades resulting in a temporary state of depression.

“Sure, let’s go,” I told my father, patching my poor Korean with English words, which was enough to get by when I needed to talk to my parents.

Without another word, he left as suddenly as he had arrived, leaving me to assume that he was saving his stockpile of words for when we were at the restaurant. It wasn’t a comforting thought, for my father was notorious for his lengthy lectures. I sometimes envied children from other families. Each of these lectures, at one point or another, involved something about me and my sister’s education and how we needed to study harder or else we’d end up homeless. This terrified me when he first mentioned it to me in elementary school, but I became numb to this fear when I entered high school.

“You see that man? You’re going to end up like him. True story,” my father would say upon seeing a homeless man on the streets.

The trip to the Korean grill restaurant was quiet, another sign that my father was biding his words. Outside the restaurant, in the alley neighboring the tofu house was a man in shabby clothes with a stash of black plastic bags in a cart next to him. My father should have seen him too, but he chose not to say anything. Once inside the restaurant, we were seated at a table with a built-in grill in the center and a large metal vent shaft hovering between us.

“Are you doing well in school?” my father asked.

“Of course, I’m doing well,” I lied.

The waitress arrived to take our orders after this brief exchange of words, so I began thinking of a name to call my nonexistent professor should my father have the need to ask for it. By the time the waitress was finished writing our orders down, I had a string of fabrications prepped and ready to forge the delusion in my father’s mind that I really was doing well in college and that I was guaranteed a set of perfect grades at the end of the fall semester.

“You’re getting A’s, right?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said with a confident nod.

“That’s good,” he said as he sipped the cup of tea left behind by the waitress. “Keep studying hard and someday you might get into Berkeley.”

I said nothing. Another waitress approached us and lit the grill. She later came back with a large tray of various side dishes. My father picked up his chopsticks and helped himself to the long, brown stalks covered in sesame seeds. Although I am of Korean descent, I find that my preference in food is in a different region than that of my homeland, which disappoints my father. He continued to eat while I fiddled with my chopsticks, dipping one end into my water cup and drawing faces on a paper placemat.

“Is there anything you want to tell me?” my father asked.

The question was sudden and filled with implications that gave me quite a start and left me extremely worried. My brain furiously ran through its simulations and the solution it produced was simple and counter-investigative to my father’s question.

“No, not really,” I said in response, as I calmly resumed my chopstick water drawings.

“You don’t have anything to say?” he asked. His tone made me curious about the nature of his question. It was unlike my father to delay a confrontation about the subject of my education. One “C” from high school was enough for him to begin a three-hour lecture immediately following my return home.

“Nothing,” I said.

My father must have snapped then, not out of anger in discovering my vacation from school, but out of disbelief and confusion, because he scoffed like one would at a magician presenting an unsolvable magic trick.

“Why do you never have anything to say?” he said then.

The answer surely must be self-explanatory, I thought. But then I remembered the many times I had had a conversation with my sister about the reasoning our father had behind his lectures. We would speak in her room on the floor right after one of his hour-long lectures as a form of stress therapy to relieve our tired nerves after sitting in one place for too long. Our father’s excuse was that he was old and wise, his age and experience giving him reason to warn us on a weekly basis about the trials of getting a job.

My sister’s theory was that my father regretted his decision of coming to America, choosing to punish his children in the form of lectures. Though my sister had a reasonable rationale for his speeches, I found my own theory to be more convincing. I had never seen my father leave his study, a room initially designed as our house’s den to which he had a door installed, and this gave me reason to believe that he had not many friends to meet. Humans are social creatures and my father is no exception, but I felt that this made him horribly inclined to lecture his own children to make up for the lack of friends he possessed. Thus, it was my belief that in order to give his brain the necessary kick into realizing that other humans existed, he would need to sit his own family down and speak to them for great lengths.

“I don’t really talk much,” I said.

“You don’t have any trouble talking to your mom,” he pointed out.

It was tempting to tell him the truth about his choice of approach, that it was easier to talk to my mother because she didn’t spend an hour telling me that I needed to study.

“You wouldn’t be interested,” I replied. My Korean was far from perfect.

The waitress returned later with a tray holding several dishes of various meats, all of which she began piling onto the grill along with some raw onions and mushrooms. With her tongs, she stirred the pork strips and thin slices of beef brisket around the oiled grill, and I watched the smoke rise up from the meat into the exhaust vent as if the ghosts of the animals were being inhaled into the steel flue.

“What am I doing wrong?” My father asked when the waitress left us to tend to the grill.

I pondered the question. Here was my father, who obsessed over the welfare of my education, now curious about why I never bothered to make small talk with him. So, in exchange for the sudden interest he had in his son’s life, I offered him a bit of advice that should have revolutionized his methods of parenting.

“Maybe you shouldn’t talk about studying so much,” I said blatantly in English.

My father stopped eating and took his time to translate my words. I assumed he was done translating when he picked up his chopsticks and stabbed a pork strip. I thought he would have more to say, but my father never said another word as we ate.

We left the restaurant afterwards, my father carrying with him the knowledge from our discussion and I with a better understanding of my father.

The man in the alley was gone, along with his cart full of plastic bags. Before we stepped into the restaurant, I was sure he would have said something about him. Maybe he had grown partial to his existence in the hopes that I had finally learned to divert myself onto a less ragged course.

The drive home was not nearly as quiet as the trip to the restaurant. My father must have been proud of himself for opening up to me, because he was trying to start up conversations that, for once, didn’t involve my education. He began talking about the trips I wanted to take to England, the trips I never mentioned to him, but only to my mother and sister. He even asked what hobbies interested me, which was hard for me to take in, considering he had always tried to push his childhood onto me. For once, it was as though my father had learned to take a step back and take a look at himself, to see the missing bonds between him and his son.

This was most likely the moment that made my father stop his weekly lectures, which I did not notice until the year I returned to college. I couldn’t say that I was proud of him for realizing what caused his own children to avoid speaking to him.

I imagined myself walking on a path to see someone I knew. A friend, or a person I’d met sometime in life—anyone who made an impression in my life. After the night I went with my father to the Korean barbeque grill, I had set myself on this path to see those people for how I used to remember them, and for how I will continue to see them.

I saw my home at the end of this path. Inside, I found my mother on the sofa, watching some silly Korean drama. My sister would be sitting next to her, watching, but never appreciating. I passed by them to a door that I saw every day, one that I couldn’t avoid seeing but never dared to open. I challenged that fear that night by opening this lonely door. It opened into black obscurity, a darkness for the unfamiliar. In this room, I searched—only searching—for I wasn’t prepared to explore the darkness of the room just yet. Then I saw my father, a body wrapped in the confining shadows of the solitary chamber of his design, a prison within a home.


Writer: Tim Pak plans to become a full-time writer, and is currently attending Fullerton College as an English major and is working alongside other creative writing students in LiveWire. Tim is also working on a series of young adult fantasy novels which he is still in the process of developing. This is his first published short nonfiction story.

Artist: Gabe Munoz is a local tattoo artist here in Fullerton, at Classic Tattoo, and has been oil painting for one year. He has been attending Fullerton College since 2017 where he obtained his Associates Degree in Art and continues to work towards his BFA.


 

The Science of Confusion

The Science of Confusion

Nothing to fear but yes is go
People are irritated
All the gum in the sea couldn’t bask in the sun for a sector
Despicable rollers skating in a pool,getting air and water on a plate in jail
You paid the process now you must grill
Free of debt
Free of labor
Free of nothing more than your own front porch
Static on a radio words on a cactus
Symbols of the past transform into a mask worn by many
Peace is what is needed by George
The end ended never to be ever over and under again and never
Biology of a tree when the birds and chemical force bind time and touch
Ouch! That fallout hurts and for good reason
A painful price for a quarrel of egotistical sub humanoids
The beginning (Whoever sees this is alive)

G Schulz-1985


Writer: Greg Schulz is a proud graduate of Fullerton College. He attended from 1986-1989 and earned an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration. He transferred to California State University, Fullerton and later earned graduate degrees at both California State University, Long Beach and the University of Southern California. Today, he serves as President of Fullerton College. Our students inspire him every day, and it is his hope to inspire them. He wrote this poem in 1985 as part of a movement/venture that he and his friend, Jay Tilles, were developing called Centrifugal Mutology, which they defined as “The Science of Confusion.”

Artist: Nick Williams is a digital artist based out of Orange County who has been actively creating for a few years now. Working with the creation and manipulation of shapes, he says the inspiration for “Loop” came from admiring the sharply angled architecture of a recreational building in his neighborhood pool complex. He says that his journey in digital art has brought him a much needed sense of comfort and hopes he will continue finding the motivation to create.