Tag Archives: Derek Frazier

Reflections V.1

By Derek Frazier 

Growing up and recognizing that my high school experience is over because I am a senior, creates a looking-in-the-mirror kind of mindset in me. It makes me pause, and look back on the wisdom I have developed over the last four years, and what affected me the most. For me, it was learning the difference between a defeat and a failure.

I have a very disciplined work ethic, and that has bled into my personality as I have matured. If I am given a challenge, I will move heaven and Earth to accomplish that goal. I don’t feel satisfied until I have given it my one hundred percent, even if it costs me mealtime or sleep.

As I’ve grown, however, my self-doubt has almost manifested into a voice, one that I associate with Satan himself. When I did something that I knew I could do, such as brave my fear of heights on a zip line, or make a medical decision at work when a little kid is injured, the voice whispers “you can’t do this,” or “why are you even trying?”

I will not say I’m embarrassed that sometimes I gave into the voice, but I am ashamed of the effects. As someone who still strives to work hard, I melted down when I performed a job poorly. My anxieties would go into overdrive, and start to hammer a massive amount of stress into me. I would start to hyperventilate, pace back and forth, and talk faster than I already do. The voice would start to repeat, “failure, failure, failure.”

Even now, my brain is prone to overthinking. So when the voice got louder I started wondering, “What else can’t I do, what else have I failed to do?” When often I hadn’t failed or done anything wrong. Unfortunately, I am still plagued with the symptoms of overthinking, just not to the same degree.

Meditations on who I am as a person helped me quiet that voice, as did yoga and spending time reflecting in nature. There is something very intimate and enlightening about dissecting the things that make you who you are. It’s like standing naked in front of a mirror and recounting the stories of how you got all your scars. I’m not saying go into the park and everything will get sorted out, I’m saying it helps to close your eyes and teach yourself acceptance.

To me, failure isn’t a bad thing anymore, its an opportunity to improve, to accept that you didn’t do it right. It’s not an ugly “F” written in sharpie, it’s the universe’s way of giving you permission to try again. It’s okay to cry and admit that whatever it is you’re facing in life might just be a little too much for you. Just don’t give up on yourself.

That is defeat, that is letting something beat you. The red pill versus the blue. It’s the mental decision to give up and let that voice feed off you.

When I was younger I studied martial arts, and I had a very serious Sensei. He would always tell us that we weren’t trying hard enough when we were putting our everything into the forms and repetition of movement. Looking back, I see the point he was trying to convey about a lack of mental discipline. Karate was more than repeating a kick or a punch, you needed to look past him and prove that you could do it.

But it hurt nonetheless. And after deciding enough was enough, I gave up on karate, convinced that all dojos and martial arts were like that. And now I regret that decision very much. I have trained in other styles of martial arts, and self-defense since, but I regret not proving myself to my Sensei. I wholeheartedly believe that decision is where my voice of self-doubt started. If I had stayed and practiced Karate under a different tutor perhaps things would have been different. That was my first defeat.

I still have anxieties about whether or not I can do something, crippling as they were prior to my self-reflections but not as often as before. I learned to close my eyes, take a breath and clear my mind so I could enjoy a few moments in peace. If I had given into the self-doubting voice. I would never have been a writer. I would never have gained the self assurity that I will become a paleontologist, or dissipated my fears of being a terrible father one day.

This isn’t a statement of triumph, or a claim that I’m better than anyone, this is a reflection on the greatest chapter in the reflection of my life to date, and a hope that it inspires others to do the same.

 

The Woman in the Japanese Hospital Bed

By Derek Frazier

The early morning shift of the Kyoto Takeda Hospital was a slow one, dotted with the occasional life or death cases. The doctors had taken to calling it “The Delivery room.” The hospital lacked the necessary equipment to deliver children, so the name stuck.

Einosuke Hada was the newest member of the Delivery, a bright young man in his late twenties who recently graduated from an American medical school (he had gone on scholarship) and acquired his position. The only sound in the common area was the clop-clop-clopping of his shoes as he paced, papers being signed, and the ringing of the receptionist’s phone.

Einosuke heard the ringing of the ambulance sirens as the vehicle parked. A split second later the doors swung open.  

A group of four emergency medical specialists pulled a gurney with a woman strapped to it down the hall towards an operating room.

“Hada-Sama,” one of the specialist exclaimed, adding the honorific to Einosuke’s last name, “give us a hand!”

The young doctor stepped quickly behind the gurney, the baggy legs of his purple scrubs fluttering as he doubled his pace.

“Status?” he asked, keeping his eyes on the emergency room doors that were growing closer and closer.

“Female in her twenties, she’s stable but her vitals are weak,” The specialist from earlier spoke.  His name tag in his left breast pocket identified him as Harada.

“Cause of injuries?” Einosuke asked, looking down at the woman before him. She wore a ripped raincoat slick with blood. Underneath Einosuke could see a well made black dress, with silver detailing working its way down from her breasts to her stomach like a spiderweb of dew. The left side of the dress had split outwards from the seams, exposing purpled flesh. Blood and scraps of fabric mixed like paint on her pale skin.

Harada’s breath came out in puffs as they rushed along the sanitized halls. Einosuke repeated the question.

“Severe blunt force trauma,” Harada said. “Witness said she threw herself in front of a truck.”

The doors to the emergency room opened with a heavy clunk, as they slammed against the light blue walls. With a grunt, Harada and Einosuke managed to lift the young woman onto the table in the center of the room.

“Left brachial and antebrachial are shattered,” Einosuke muttered to himself, looking at the signs of damage after he gently cut away the undamaged sections of coat and dress. “At least three fractured ribs and possible bruising of her left lung.”

With a sponge he began dabbing away the blood, his stomach clenched at the tender give of flesh and bone.

“Massive bruising and contusions on the left side of her face,” Harada said, pointing before leaving the room.

Einosuke lifted his head from the apron he was tying behind his back to look at an entering nurse.

“Get Doctor Hirano, and bring an oxygen mask immediately!” he exclaimed, “And notify the blood reserve downstairs that we will need a possible transfusion.”

“Of course,” the nurse said before stepping out.

Eventually, the nurse and Doctor Hirano returned. The graying doctor did her best, trying to keep up with the frantic movements of her younger counterpart.

“Her breathing’s shaky,” Einosuke said, a hint of panic seeping into his voice and clawing into his heart. The woman’s already pale skin faded into translucence.

“Let’s get her an MRI,” Doctor Hirano said, wheeling a new gurney over to the table before holding the patient’s ankles. “Slip that mask over her mouth.”

As Einosuke watched the young woman sleep in the MRI under the influence of anesthesia, he felt a lump grow in his throat.

He was just about to pray to the Buddha when Doctor Hirano made a noise in the back of her throat.

“What is it?” He asked.   

 Hirano let her gaze turn to the door of the analyzation chamber.

“She has a tako tsubo,” Hirano said.

Einosuke looked at the monitor in disbelief, blinking his eyes in hopes that he wasn’t seeing the disfigured bell shape of her heart.

However, no matter what, her heart stayed misshapen.

“Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy,” Einosuke said.

With a grumble of frustration, he ran his fingers through his straight black hair. Individuals who suffered from the ailment experienced an overflow of blood into their heart, a result of the interior tendons snapping. They died of a broken heart.

“Is there anything we can do?” He asked. “I’ve never– this isn’t something I– can we do something?”

Hirano shook her head and whispered, “nothing,” before leaving the chamber to return the patient to the emergency room.

In the staff locker room, Einosuke lit an offering of incense for the large metallic statue of the Buddha that took up most of the space in his locker.

“Take her into your arms, Lord,” he begged, tears beginning to flow from his cheeks. “There is nothing I can do…look after her,– in this life and the next.”

If the mighty Buddha accepted the offering or pledge he gave no sign, he simply smiled his bronze grin, staring back at the anguished doctor.

Who said nothing.

Who heard nothing.

 

Acrostic poem #9

By Derek Frazier

Prophecies and fate aren’t things I believe in.
And yet I have never felt this sure about anything before. It’s
like writing my name, a part of my identity, a way to
express who I am and how I want to leave my stamp
on the world. I have dreamed of this profession for hundreds of
nights, ever since I was four years old. You don’t just choose
to ignore something like that, to turn your shoulder when all
of the signs scream your name like a coliseum’s crowd. I
love this career and, for the life of me, I do not fully understand the rhyme
or reason as to why I crave the words “Doctor of Paleontology” like an alcoholic with
gin. And I doubt I ever will.
I was put on this planet for a reason. I have a whole life ahead of me but the most
single truth I know is that this was what I was built, designed, crafted, engineered
to do.

Mr. Fatherless

A letter to an unborn orphan whom I will adopt

By Derek Frazier

My son,
I will not be the stereotypical
American father you imagined.

When we play sports, I will
throw baseballs through your
mother’s windows and lose frisbees
in the trees of our front lawn.

On the Fourth of July, I will
be too busy making a bonfire in the grill
to actually cook anything.
And I will spend far too much time baking
and reading to watch football with you.

I do not fish, I do not like smoking,
and I do not enjoy fighting
another person’s battles.

I will, however, be a teacher.
I will show you how to cook,
how to speak other languages
and write worlds into being.
When you fall in love or become frustrated
because of some mercurial romance,
I will be there to explain them as best I can–
and I’m sorry– because with all
my experience, I will fail miserably.

I will teach you how to fight
and stand up for yourself.
To treat others with respect no matter their color or gender.
You will learn to hold the door for someone,
to look both ways before crossing a street.
You will learn to mind your manners,
your “yes ma’am” and “yes sir.”

In the end my child of Africa, China, India,
England, or even Harlem, you will learn
from a father nonetheless.
And I will give you a home.

Paleontologist

By Derek Frazier

My mother is the reason I want to be a paleontologist. I was raised in a very warm and comforting middle class home. No matter what my sisters and I wanted to do as an occupation we were never told “no.” We were always encouraged to follow our dreams and to focus on what made us happy. My mother has always claimed that paleontology is the only career she sees me doing. “You’re going to go and dig in China,” she told me once jokingly. “You’re going to play in the dirt and I’m never going to see you again.”

Beyond this, my whole life I have been surrounded by the Jurassic world. I grew up watching The Land Before Time, Dinosaur Train, and Walking with Dinosaurs. My favorite book besides The Hobbit was Dinotopia. To this day I have a giant plastic tub of dinosaurs in my basement and stuffed dinosaurs in my closet that I will never give away. I have cookie cutters shaped like a t-rex, stegosaurus, and triceratops for when I’m baking.

I don’t really know why I love paleontology. I just do. For as long as I can remember my childhood dream has been to go to college and study until I graduate with a doctorate degree. It’s all I’ve ever wanted and no one has told me no so my plan is to keep dreaming.

It’s somewhat ironic that my lifelong dream and goal involves heat and math. I’m not a very mathematically inclined individual, personally I believe that the Romans conquered the Greeks as payback for creating algebra. And my ideal temperature is mid sixties with a cool breeze. Yet there I will be six or seven years down the line in a 100 degree desert using calculus to plan an excavation zone to dig up thirty foot long reptiles while still being  paralyzed by my fear of snakes.

Fate has a sense of humor.

Also it’s a little mind boggling. I am a junior in high school, and in a few weeks I will be a senior, and then after that I will graduate and move onto college. I remember sitting in my elementary school classroom thinking “Man, I have to wait eight years for college?” And now, having only one year left to go is truly a surreal realization. I am so close to achieving my dream. It is the greatest tease, to be close enough to start planning colleges and initiating that part of my life, but remaining far enough out of reach that it is still an ambition.

Ambitious is definitely a word I would use to describe myself. I don’t want to be a celebrity I simply want to be recognized for my discoveries and for my assistance in making the Earth’s past all the more clear.

I have never met anyone who has told me that my dream to become a doctor or professor of paleontology is unreachable. I know that it will be challenging and that it will be a long road, but that’s what I signed up for the moment I held my first t-rex toy. I will allow nothing to stand in my way. I will stand among the mighty heroes of my childhood and smile because I was meant to be there.

Je suis prest, I am ready.

The Big House

By Derek Frazier

Cheap sheets and
big dreams can’t keep you warm.

Neither can a three-page love song.

So I’ll work through the days and nights,
trying to keep bills off the table,
so we can live in comfort.
You might say that I’m working too hard,
that it’ll be the death of me.
To that I’ll say:

“One of these days
I’m going to buy you a big house
and it will have a wrap-around porch,
a massive garden blossoming under
blue gartered windows, a rope swing
and a large picnic table
with homemade apple pies, and long green grass
where our kids can run.
They’ll pick wild herbs and read
books under the shadows of the tall
pine trees.
They’ll laugh and share smiles
while we watch from the shade,
drinking cherry wine.

We will put it on a hill
that slopes down to town.
Growing by the front door is
an apple tree where we will stretch
a quilt under the stars and watch Venus flirt with Mars.
The city won’t be able to reach us.
We will lose them in the dust of our long
dirt road, all those smells and sights and sounds
of the metropolis.

And when nightfall finally comes
we will push my grandmother’s chair,
the old coffee table, and a hand-me-down couch
against the living room walls.
So we can dance
beside our night light shadows,

under the roof of our home.”

Noir

By Derek Frazier

I came home at twilight,
sore from work, tired from the hours.
The sky was ebony, no birds in flight,
lights gleaming from the city’s towers.

I wasn’t expecting to fall in love all over again in the black.

You were laying on our bedroom floor,
wearing my shirt, its color matching the door.
No makeup. Your hair was undone.
You were staring at the wall as the clock spun.

I wasn’t expecting to fall in love all over again in the black.

The honeysuckle sweet of your lips
had more sugar than a bible verse.
I can still feel the velvet of your fingertips
on my body, running across my worse
scars. The blue of your eyes was the only light I could see
as I felt your arms envelop me.

I wasn’t expecting to fall in love all over again in the black.

The Moon’s silver light
made sparks out of falling rain.
The red of your hair was crimson in the night,
and your soft laughter bubbled like champagne.

I wasn’t expecting to fall in love all over again in the black.

My eyes tried to take in all of you.
You blushed and closed your eyes
while I lost myself in your black bird tattoo.

The window’s candle slowly died.
I pulled you close to me,
inhaled, and exhaled, breathing you in.
You said: “you make me live breathlessly.”
I replied: “kissing you makes my head spin.”

I wasn’t expecting to fall in love all over again in the black.

To Those Who Will Date My Little Sister

Inspired by Jesse Parent’s “To the Boys Who Will One Day Date My Daughter”

By Derek Frazier

To those who will date my little sister.
I am warning you now.
My little sister will not come
with a warning sign, or any label
of any kind for that matter.
But you will fall hopelessly
in love with her.

You sucker.

You will fall in love
with the sideways curve of her smile,
with the massive collection of pillows and
stuffed animals on her bed.

You will fall in love with the messes she will make
on her bedroom carpet. That massive pile
of random things from her numerous hidey holes
and shelves. And when you ask what she’s doing
with all of those things she will look you dead
in the eye and calmly say
“Go away. I’m trying to get my life together.”

You will fall in love with her incredibly
rusty Korean, her obsession with manatees,
her dreams of becoming a mermaid, and her
insistence that “everything tastes better with ketchup.”

Don’t freak out when she randomly decides
to make velociraptor sounds during quiet moments.
Don’t question when she suddenly declares
that she is a potato.

She will flip the world you live in upside down
and inside out. You will right yourself and
come back wanting more.
Losing yourself in the blue of her eyes,
the hiccups of her laughter as it echoes
throughout your bedroom.
She will take your heart and treat it
gently because your love wasn’t a gift,
it was a privilege.

Six billion people walk this earth.
Only one of them is my little sister.
Please, hold her close when she cries
and promise her that tomorrow will be better.
Be the reason I hear her giggle on the phone
when I’m away at college or far away living
my own life.

Comfort her, take care of her, love her,
promise her the world and mean it.
Be the saltwater to this little mermaid,
and it wouldn’t hurt if you took the time
to learn a little Korean.

 

Dear My Itty-Bitty Self

 By Derek Frazier

Dear itty-bitty me,

Relax. Discover. Dream. And don’t doubt yourself.

Relax. Math will always be something that challenges and frustrates you, but it’s nothing you won’t be able to handle. Your anxieties will never go away. You will experience true and earth shaking anxieties. Anxieties about fitting in, and not making friends, whether or not you’ll ever fall in love. You’ll fit in just fine, you’ll apply to an art school where being goofy, tea addicted, and book obsessed is almost a requirement. You’ll make friends, lots of them. Friends who will always have your back and who you will always be there when you’re angry, sad, or lost in the world. You’ll never stop being a big softy, kind and polite, and there is nothing wrong with that. You’ll fall in love too, a lot. But that’s okay, because you’ll learn that to become the person writing this letter you’ll need to understand what it means to truly love someone more than life itself. And how much it hurts when you lose them.

Discover. Branch out. Pull yourself out of the fantasy-obsessed trench you’ll dig yourself in sixth grade. You’ll learn that you are a pretty good poet, that creative nonfiction isn’t as bad as you thought because you love journaling. You’ll learn things like how to find the volume of a cylinder, that weight is actually the amount of force gravity has on an object, and that your second favorite color is grey. You’ll learn about other religions, realize you want to be a confirmed Christian, you’ll learn that even though you’re terrified of being an adult you love the idea of being a father.

Dream. Dream big. Dream about owning your own brewery. Daydream about how good the way “Professor Frazier” sounds. Make being a paleontologist a life long ambition. Buy every fossil you can find and spend days covered in dirt. Imagine smiles on your future children’s faces when you read them The Hobbit as a bedtime story. These dreams will allow you to do incredible things, to keep going. You’ll get into an art school and study to become a writer , you’ll climb a waterfall, and you will spend sleepless nights writing poetry.

Speaking of which, don’t doubt yourself. You are stronger than you know, both physically and emotionally. You can do this. Sure, going to school for almost a quarter of your life sounds intimidating but don’t spend your time worrying about that. Think of the family you’ll create, the friends you’ll make and all the things you’ll accomplish. Don’t doubt your abilities, and don’t worry about what tomorrow brings. Because as Mom will one day tell you, “you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time.”

Wishing you all the assurance in the world,
the much, much taller you

Holding Her

By Derek Frazier

The first time I held her
in my arms, I knew exactly
where I wanted to be.
The feeling of her erratic
heartbeat, of her hands tucked
against my stomach
added to my thoughts of:
“She is here.”
“This is not a dream.”

I remember pressing her
against my chest while she sobbed
into my t-shirt, crying because
she felt like the world
was too much for her.
I remember her arms around my neck
when all I wanted to do was scream
and break the world apart.
I could feel her pull me closer
as my anger began to blossom.

The in-sync tempo of our heartbeats
reminded me that the world
can be just as beautiful
as it is cruel and as long as she
was a part of it, the world
would stay beautiful.

Sometimes holding her
is better than kissing her.
It doesn’t matter if she’s cold,
warm, soaking wet
or barely breathing.
The feeling of her
in my arms is a luxury
I’m glad I can afford.

The first time I held her in my arms
I knew that I was meant to be there.
It was like the final piece of a puzzle
clicking into place. An open wound
in my heart was stitched by
her promise of “I’m never going to want
anyone as much as I want you.”

Holding her is electric,
Whether it is the actual static from her
fingertips or the shivers down my spine
when she pulls me close.
Holding her is addictive,
each time she pulls away I want
to reset the clock and feel the rise
and fall of her breathing all over again.
Holding her is beautiful.
Because it doesn’t matter if it’s
the fourth time or the seventy fifth,
they always feel like the first one.
Holding her is knowing where I belong.