Substrate to Enzyme

You’re the substrate to my enzyme.

I thought of this quote while I was in some sort of biology class on a certain fateful day.

Fine, I’ll admit it: I forgot when I whipped this quote up. Here’s the thing though: it works. Substrates and enzymes are forever intertwined. Enzymes have nothing to act on if a substrate isn’t present. And substrates will remain inert for long periods of time without some bonding action from a friendly enzyme.

By saying I’m your enzyme, it’s a great way of saying we’re engaging in a healthy relationship. Or an unhealthy codependency. Let’s stick with the former interpretation. For sweetness’ sake.

The Creek

The underground creek laid in the ground like a corpse, exposed to the sunlight. The entrance before me was a gaping maw. Graffiti lined the walls like ancient runes; closest to the open mouth was scribbling in red spray paint, like a desperate warning. There was another entrance, closed like a closet, skeletons laid farther in. I stood on the lip of the internal place, staring at the miracle grass that grew on a sandy annex, surrounded by water. I grimaced as a yellowjacket flew past me, into the grass.

I had realized, just then, that life passed me by.

This place used to be animated. The sand was like a continent, composed of pebbles of all sizes, a beach rounding the flowing, healthy stream of water whose origins were unbeknownst to my friends and I. We fought with sticks, our fantastical battles rocking the land. I was a giant in my element; the markings left by the soles of my shoes were the writings of the great. Sometimes I stripped my feet of my shoes and socks and tip toed into the water while whoever accompanied me on this particular journey would watch me. The water was cool and clear, comforting and cleansing. At times, I would be lead astray by the spray painted language that covered the cement, flowing like the stream.

The graffiti baffled us, even then. We ran our fingers over the script, our goal to decipher, never succeeding. New words and sentences appeared every visit, the messages without meaning. Sunlight would wane, causing us to climb out in a hurry. We worried that whatever wrote the colorful script would drag us into the bowels of the tunnels we so fervently avoided.

There were rumors of a homeless man whose residence happened to be somewhere within the depths of the tunnels. I would dare my friends to take an exploratory trip into one side, but they never followed through. They would dare me, and my face would brighten red with fear. Sticks collected at the other end of the stream, forming a weak dam that barely slowed the flow of the water.

As the continent eroded, the soft land carried away by the stream, we grew older. My friends and I gradually shifted apart, like the granules that sailed away to lands unknown.  I would trek to the creek alone, stare at it, afraid to make the plunge into the world beneath my feet. At some point, the grass seeds made their own journey to the dwindling continent. They grew and flourished, just as I did.

The wind blew, bringing me back to the present. The grass whispered as the wind combed through it. Another yellowjacket flew past, but even faster this time. Some bird song erupted from the trees surrounding me. The graffiti transformed into an epiphany, the words a little less unclear. I glanced around, and jumped into my future.

The water was warm.

Image Credit:

Photo by Lisa Racz:

The Dot

I stare at the dot, the beginning of the end. Focus shifts from the teacher lecturing in the background to the many possibilities this dot holds. It could become a map to my future, or a map of some place I imagined. Dots connected in a complex mass of dark lines, mountains interspersed, the paths rounding the standing monoliths. The dot could become the first stroke of an imagined language, words unfamiliar to the ears of all but one; or, the dot could simply become the first words of an essay. Ultimately, this represents my life. My focus constantly shifts from the present to the many future possibilities that watch me on the sidelines. Our paths could cross, but I continue to walk in the straight line, ignoring the present.

In retrospect, I firmly believe books introduced me to my escapist nature.

Books become my escape when I make my life tough. Stephen King beckons, and of course I comply. I sit on my bed, beside my bookshelf, and read as the clock ticks. My stress slips away. My attention snaps back to the clock, and my mind enters overdrive as the stress comes right back, ten fold. Before Stephen King became my favorite author, I drowned myself in fantasy. I read voraciously, each book a different experience, each paragraph a scene, each sentence a vibrant image in my mind, each word a resounding member of a symphony. Garth Nix, Philip Pullman, Angie Sage, and Cornelia Funke were the raindrops that slowly grew into puddles.

Funke wrote the masterpiece series known as the “Ink Trilogy”. Back in the 4th grade, it felt as if Funke took my hand and led me into an entirely different world. I experienced everything with Meggie and Mo, the two main characters of the “Ink Trilogy”. I felt what they felt, I saw what they saw, I heard exactly what they did. The romance between Farrid and Meggie was absolutely enchanting. Philip Pullman authored the trilogy titled “His Dark Materials,” a series that follows the still naïve Lyra as she grows into an adult. “His Dark Materials” taught me that the world is not all black and white. Lyra’s father, Lord Asriel, murders one of Lyra’s closer friends to open up a portal to a different dimension. While Lord Asriel commits murder, he seeks to end the oppression of the religious institution on his home dimension by stopping it at its source. I let myself become embroiled in every conflict or issue that arose.

Before I began reading novels, I sat in the yard and played in the grass, imagining paths that wound around copses of trees that comprised an endless forest. I talked to myself, as I vocalized the communications that occurred between the people of the forest I imagined. A falling leaf was a grand zeppelin, the dirt – a canvas. I looked at a puddle and saw an expansive ocean that teemed with life. Now, as a young adult, I consider what I did pretty strange, but it was the only way I knew how to express myself. Writing was not interesting to me then. I stuck to children’s books. I was a walking representation of untapped potential. My mind teemed with ideas just as the oceans I perceived.

Just before the third grade, my family and I moved from Grandview Plaza to Junction City, a move that changed my life, no matter how insignificant the distance was. I left the familiar, and I was thrust into a world of the unknown. We made excursions for groceries, visits to my grandfather and the rest of my family. This was not an exploratory trip. We were moving. Forever. I remember the first day of school: I stood rigidly among my peers in a line that rounded the block. Over time my rigidity subsided and I became comfortable with my new surroundings. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Benton, slowly introduced me to reading. I learned cursive, and I began making daily trips to the library. I grew as a person and a student. I made my dive into the ocean.

Over time, escapism became procrastination. I fell into the ocean like a heavy stone, during sophomore year. I sunk, watching my progress be washed away by my very own idiocy. I sunk, seeing my future through a muddled lens, translucent, but clear enough to see what will become of me. I saw my future; a movie without sound, a character with no face. I drowned.

Luckily, I was able to forgive myself through the work and the time I invested during summer school.
Connect the dots, and you will see a story of development. Throughout my life, with the support of my teachers, friends, and family, I connected the dots that were presented to me, and even began drawing my own. As a young adult, the dots have become unclear, ethereal, beyond my reach – but not impossibly so. While, at times, water washes over the connections I draw, I recover and draw an even longer line that connects to two dots instead of one. I let myself drown from time to time, but ultimately I rise again.

Image Credit:

Photo by Dina Anuar:

Self Sincerely



It is pervasive like the fallout that descended onto the rest of Europe after the Chernobyl disaster. It poisons the soil, killing the life above. The trees are left, forgotten, blown by idle wind that only buffets the miasma. It is pervasive like the inherent loneliness so cloying in the Exclusion Zone. The silence is only broken by idle bird song, but even the birds can escape. The effects are far-reaching but are only felt by one.

This is my cycle.

The merry-go-round sits somewhere in the Exclusion Zone. It always sits in the Exclusion Zone, at times in the center of Pripyat, surrounded by the husks of past human habitation; at times in the forest, choked by brambles and surrounded by pine needles. When it turns, it screeches. When seen, it reminds.
The merry-go-round turns. Slow, the movement hardly felt. It revolves once. The wind blows, a marigold blooms. Striking orange petals tower above the soil, seeking. Dew glimmers. But the flower turns quickly to ashes, as the merry-go-round makes another revolution. It speeds, the grind of metal-on-metal replacing the silence. The world turns to a blur.

Around and around I go, on a forever merry-go-round. Faces fazing, memories passing, never stopping. I reach out into the blur and scream. Innocence – lost.

Writing is timeless, laughter fades.

Worth Lessened

They implicate, insinuate, that “it’s all in my head,” that it is an issue within me. An issue without root, easily solvable. Work ethic, something shallow. A lack of drive or determination. They say that it is my fault.

And the fault is mine.

It is my problem. It is personal, to only be understood by me. I damn myself. I am weak. I break and I have been broken. I am of flimsy construction. My self confidence is brittle. Fragile to the slightest touch of a brushing hand. The pretense is of no matter. Slight, but the grip can tighten. Cracks form, my value drops. I withdraw into a place unknown, isolation is my only virtue. They cannot see me here.

A Leech Discovered

He sits in the room, his eyes glazed over, the words passing but not understood. The face is set, impenetrable. The face of absolute normality, the face that belies nothing to the pain within. He stares silently at the teacher. Words cycle, they blow like leaves caught in a whirlwind but without a beginning. It happened naturally like the wind itself. A force of nature. The face that belies nothing to the outsider. Words are passed, the face contorts to one of a smirk. The joy lasts for a short while before it is blown aside by the winds.

He seems withdrawn but the activity continues. Never ceasing, a perfect storm.

Mouth Closed

The mouth forms a wall. A closed door. A sealed gate. A barrier impassable.I must speak but my lips will not move. The words vanish and I stutter. It is my problem, it is my cycle. My voice is stifled. I think but the words cannot escape – they must not escape. They are imperfect. They are wrong. They will not be understood. Barely passing for justification.

The Unrelenting Cycle

One thought begins with the end of another. I can no longer tell whether I stare at a new beginning or an end foreseen.


Self Sincerely,

And it goes on and on and on…