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Updated: Jul 16, 2021

Take this piece slowly, preferably bit by bit like a piece of cake. You may share a piece with someone, devour it in one go, or feed on it throughout time.

1. On the day of my birthday, I will be in my bed. The bright sun will wake me up because I refuse to buy curtains to shield its light. A weight that will sit on my chest will keep me awake. I will stare at the ceiling, thinking about what I lack and what I should be doing. How I should spend my day and planning when to get out of bed. I will think about the weight on my chest and how it will never leave me. How this weight has developed during my 24th year. How I just have to keep going with it. When I do get up, I know I have to feed my guinea pigs and rat. They are awake with me because they want their morning treat. What do I want as a treat? I will probably avoid all messages related to my birthday, especially from those people who are obsessed with knowing what day my birthday is. I recently have given up trying to hide the actual date?. I guess to make this day special, I will go to a bakery and get a cake for myself. Of course, I will share it with my roommates.

2. What is it about a birthday? I will tell you about mine. I was born on a day in July, the Cancerian part of the month. My mother is from Tokyo, and my father is from Northwest Indiana. I was born in the town of Valparaiso at 1:14pm Central Time. I was born a few weeks early. I guess I was destined to not take pride in myself. My mother gave me my first and middle name. “Lukas” was the name of the Italian race car driver that she found hot. “Takeru” comes from a famous emperor, who was queer as Hell. My father’s last name would complete my legal name, an Anglo-Saxon last name that has its origins from the forest protectors. On my 18th birthday, my father informed me that he saw the most peculiar thing. He went out to smoke on the roof and saw the moon and what he believed to be Venus and Mars in a vertical line in the sky. The reason for this celestial alignment would not be answered until I write this piece: the moon, Venus, and Mars were in Gemini. A blessing and a curse on my astrological chart.

3. In many ways, I do think I am a failure. Currently, I am getting phone calls twice daily from the private student loan company I signed my life away to when I was 18. I do not have any money or a secure job. I have been unemployed for over a year. I survive by eating an average of one to two meals a day if I can. I sit mostly inside waiting for someone or something to take me out of my bed/apartment. I do therapy three times a week. A session at 10am on Monday, a session at 2pm on Tuesdays, and a session at 12:15pm on Thursday. My therapist has been on vacation, and I am trying my best not to contact her. I thought I would struggle with it, but I have been doing a good job at keeping busy. But these phone calls and this constant nagging from my father ---- I do not talk to him nor do I care to talk to him ---- have been eating me lately. I am looking into paying my loans, but I do not have enough money to pay for rent. I had to get off unemployment temporarily to work a gig for twelve days straight, nine to eleven hours a day. I wanted to do it just because I could, and I needed the money. But it has ultimately fucked me over. I recently learned that I am behind on payments, and I thought I had time. But the thing with time is that it is always happening.

4. I feel like a failure nearly all the time. I know I do have people to reassure me that I am not. They will say that I am writing things and getting them published. That I am smart and brilliant like I always was in school. It has become noise to me. A noise that does not sync up to my interior self. I feel like a failure approaching 25, but I think this is where I need to be. I didn’t expect it to be so hard nor did I expect to still be here. My friends will console me and make a positive spin out of everything I feel. They will not listen to me. So in turn, I shall start spinning with them. I do not know where I am going, whether that be in life or with this piece of the cake, but I know I have the ability to move on and survive.

5. Before I move on from failure (at least for now), I want to do one of the worst things one can do to themselves: compare themself to others. Perhaps it is a position of envy, but the duality of my mind and body fight me into a position of self-annihilation. Actually, I am unsure what I do, but I guess I can write out how I feel. Let me embrace the negative. I am a failure because I always do things too late. I always just wait; I am very patient. I am waiting for things to happen because I am unable to make a move. I am nervous or I am careful. I am anxious or I am stubborn. I know I am all of these things plus more. A majority of my friends have found ways to move on whether that be with school or the pandemic. I cannot seem to get out of it. Yes, you can point to my writing and how I am doing it, but have you read my writing? It is the linguistic manifestation of my inability to leave or move on. I believe I may be the only one in my friend groups ---- besides the ones who identify as asexual ---- who has yet to find a relationship. I keep getting into the insecure ones. As a friend once said, I attract losers. I seem to be the one to keep around until you find something better. And I just let it happen. I am letting it happen right now. I feel like I am not cut out to be in a relationship with someone or with many someones. I think I am going to give it up for now. Maybe I will change my mind one day. But as I am nearing 25, I want to be alone. I don’t like this decision. It kills me, but I think I have to do it. I have to do things I do not want to do.

6. The only time I don’t feel like a failure is when I am talking to my therapist. I tell her everything, of course. She’s a ground I can crash into. I perform a self that I attempt to replicate in writing. With her ---- and she would know ---- I am in a much better place than I was before. It is hard for me to believe, as I feel more alone than ever. I feel more lost. But the thing that she emphasizes, and I am starting to feel, is myself. I have lacked a self since the day I was born. I have given myself away to people, but now I want to keep myself away from people. I cannot wait to tell her everything when she gets back from her trip. I am allowed a space to be and to feel. I find it scary that I feel like I have no one ---- yes I have friends, although there are limits and I am starting to build walls between me and them ---- but I find it amazing that I do not need anyone. There are people you can have in your life, but I am crossing many off my list. The people I am crossing off hurt me. I don’t need anyone to hurt me anymore. The people I am crossing off need me more than I need them. I want new friends, new people, and I will find them. Because I am getting better at being and doing myself. I am not failing at that. The people I am crossing off are failing at that.

7. I feel as though I have taken the position of the incel. An involuntarily celibate person. Most of them are male, are violent, and fueled by white supremacist and misogynistic thoughts. For my master’s project, I focused on Elliot Rodger, a grand-master incel. Elliot has become a haunting figure in my life, and this past year I had to lay him to rest in me. Not because I was happy but because my final project for my degree made me do it. Titled “How To Do Things with a Text that Wants You Dead,” I performed with Elliot’s 139-page manifesto. The manifesto is very detailed with his life and grievances. I feel like an incel because I feel like life hasn’t been kind to me, especially in terms of relationships. Perhaps this was my way into Elliot, a performative act of empathy. My project was in three parts. In part 1, I used the archive around him, such as news reports, clippings, sound bites, and his own videos to create a quick summary about him. Part 2 was my own manifesto to him. I wrote a correspondence where I was upfront with how I felt. This piece that I am writing now is an evolution of it. Still as raw as ever. But as a piece of performative writing, I wanted to unwrite him and his words. I would do so by blacking out all the things I found irrelevant in his writing. I said I wanted to keep the parts that felt like me. Part 3 was the performance of what I did. I filmed myself in private places just like he did when he stalked people or ranted. I performed with his words from his manifesto, making tiny adjustments to fit my narrative. I only changed a couple of things; it was mostly Elliot’s words. Instead of performing a piece about never being good enough and never finding love, I created a reparative text about how I am getting better and that I was enough for myself.

8. After that piece, I didn’t write or do anything for a year. I couldn’t. I tried. I tried so hard to do things. I tried so hard to write and think critically, but it ultimately erupted into failure. I audited classes last fall because I failed to have a writing sample. I wanted to apply to Ph.D. programs in the winter. I wanted to get in, but I couldn’t write. In fact, I was so close, and as the deadline was approaching, I changed my proposed project. I failed to turn anything in. I really hated myself for it, but I have to tell myself that it was the right choice. I wasn’t ready, and I should never push myself to be ready. I still couldn’t write. I still couldn’t think. I couldn’t even read. My friend Katie then called me out of the blue, and after a lovely chat, they were able to push me to write. Now I am writing my fourth piece for Blossom Magazine.

9. I didn’t take my writing seriously until very recently. What does it mean to take writing seriously? I guess for me it means to actually do it, and do it again and again. I have been conditioned to believe I couldn’t write. It wasn’t until I went to graduate school that I was told otherwise. I then took my first writing class ---- Performative Writing ---- with Barbara Browning, and my whole world opened up. Writing to me became less about structure and grammar and more so about a performance or a visual/felt medium. I write how I feel, or if I write more critically, I like to write things that perform their doing. For example, this piece “25” is about my birthday and how I feel at this point in my life. I wanted to write 25 fragments on thoughts and feelings I had leading up to the day. I am writing this piece in the style of pieces of cake. I want the readers to consume each piece slowly or share it. That’s the best I can do with an online publication, but if I could make this text more tangible, I would cut each piece up and serve it to each reader. Have a slice of my stream of words. Eat as much as you can. Throw away what you are unable to finish. I give you permission to do that with this writing.

Art by Lola Estok

11. I went to the beach. I never go to the beach. I never want to be outside, but I went to the beach. Specifically, I went to Brighton Beach. I had the most magical time with my friend Nína. I have never been to Brighton Beach. What I know of this Brooklyn neighborhood is that the majority of people speak Russian there. Speaking people live. There’s also a Law & Order: SVU episode that took place in Brighton Beach. It dealt with Russian immigrants and sex work with a guy shooting himself in the head at the end. So I had a lot of expectations. I also think I could understand a part of me that is ambiguous thanks to DNA kits. A fourth of me was understood to be Polish, however, that part may in fact be Russian. So at Brighton Beach, I tried to find something that calls to me, and we found it: a cute café called Café Eurasia. The beach is such a bad landscape for my mind. I haven’t been shirtless since I was ten, but I bared it all. I am afraid of open waters, so it took me a while to feel comfortable with the ocean. I can only go so far, and I refuse to put my head underwater. I am afraid to mess up my hair. I enjoyed going to the beach so much that I went again the next day. This is unlike me, but when the sun touches my skin, the thing inside me vanishes.

12. I have reached my favorite number. I wish I knew why I liked this number, or why we have a favorite ---- or lucky ---- number. Why do we have favorites for arbitrary things that hold no meaning on their own? 12 is that thing for me. I don’t know why. I know the number is biblical. The number was given to me on the day I was born. And magically, numbers followed consecutively. 1:14pm CST. Now you have the pieces to find my whole astrology chart, where my houses are, what is my midheaven, or what sign Chiron is in. Maybe this explains a lot more about me than writing does.

13. I am thinking about Lauren Berlant. They died this week, and it is such a shock to see people whom you never met but who have influenced you a lot go away. I had dreams of engaging with them, but now I can only do so through writing. Berlant left their mark on affect studies, specifically the US public sphere and sentimentality. We are all connected and affect each other. I extend the “we” to other beings and things in our Anthropocene. A phrase that is sticking with me from Berlant: to be in love is to be in sync with someone else. How many times have I been in love? I don’t know, but I know I have felt it a lot this past year. Recently, this topic came up at the beach between Nína and me. Why do we feel it and have to do it? We’re both Cancer suns. If we think about being in sync, then she and I are in love, in a way. After Brighton Beach the first day, we walked to Coney Island and engaged with the bullshit at Lunar Park. I made her play all these arcade games like air hockey, skeeball, and Dance Dance Revolution. I made her eat fried Oreos. We went on the Spook-A-Rama, which is one of the oldest haunted house attractions that has a unique track car and track system. I am a haunted house fanatic. I know I am making this sound like it was all about me, but it’s beautiful to be with someone with who you can do things, without even thinking. It was unplanned. We just said yes to everything. It was a beautiful day. Hot day, on Coney Island around sunset. This is a dream.

14. I am in love with someone. Let me write about him briefly and vaguely. He’s always on my mind, and I think I am always on his. I write about him too much. Just look at my previous writings on this site. It’s a hard relationship, but I do feel in sync with him. We are nearly complete opposites, but somehow a hurt kind of need is fulfilled when we are with each other. This is dangerous, but I want to allow myself to be and to feel with him. I don’t understand how or why we work. Or how or why we don’t work. Together, we just are. Meeting him was an accident. He just got out of a relationship. I just moved here not wanting one. We decided to meet. When I saw him for the first time, I felt something that I hadn’t felt before. It was instant. And the way he looked at me was mutual. I don’t know. I can feel it now, and it does make me want to cry. It was like the first time. We weren’t ready for any of it, but here we are. It will be almost two years. He is bad for me, and he is good for me. I am in love with him.

15. Sorry to repeat me, but writing centers me. And I have to perform a repetition. If you want to know how I write, I write through a lens of obsession and attachment insecurities. I write from a place of hurt and feelings and I try my best to have my writing perform that for the reader. I want you to feel with me. And I will repeat. I will tell. I will show. I will feel. And you will too. I want you to repeat. To tell. To show. To feel. Writing is the only thing I can do to get back into myself. When I have my episodes, I can save myself from going away by writing. Something about the words/wounds oozing out of the hands onto a material surface gives a body to whatever is inside me.

16. Who are my writing inspirations? I feel like it is time to list them. I always steal structures from others. I learned this from the playwright Paula Vogel. I love her so much. My favorite play is by her, and it is called How I Learned to Drive. I read it every year, and every year, I understand my own sexual injuries more. Other writers and artists I look to are Sarah Kane, Kathy Acker, Chris Kraus, Karen Finley, and Sophie Calle. I love how obsessive, raw, and methodical they are. I also love Audre Lorde, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Barbara Browning, and maybe Andrea Long Chu. For my first piece for Blossom, I took the style from Aisha Sabatini Sloan. I am trying to learn from her because the way she writes does wonders for me.

17. In July, I really need to start looking into my future, and on that horizon is more graduate school, writing, and other projects. I need to give an answer to the question of what my focus is or what I am researching. Perhaps I can demonstrate it here as I have never articulated nor written it down before. The intersections of my areas mix critical race and ethnic studies with psychoanalysis, queer and trans*studies, posthumanist philosophy, and affect. I work in the veins of cultural and critical theory, but I place myself in the field of performance studies. I place myself there because that’s where my methods are pulled from, and it is what I got my master’s degree in. I like to work with negative feelings, especially feelings towards sex, sexuality, race, nationality, and objects.

18. For my current writing and thinking, I want to look at the Asian American body. I do hate that term, “Asian American,” because it is so unfulfilling. Obviously, people will disagree and think I am damaging, but I will still have my thoughts on the matter. I am very interested in the lack and excessive nature of Asian diasporic bodies, particularly in a North American context. I want to look at where race and sexuality meet the so-called Asian American identity, and the fragments we negotiate in order to create a material, touchable, and performable body. I do believe that Asian Americans do not have a material body as the racial categorization is formed mostly through US laws ---- especially in regards to labor and immigration ---- and events/crises that exclude populations from American citizenship and protection. To introduce my negative feelings, I want to focus on negative stereotypes associated with such bodies and look at these figures: Elliot Rodger, Seung Hui-Cho, Jun Lin, and Andrew Yang. These figures haunt my imagination and the boundaries of my own East Asian body. Along with these figures, I am interested in intersecting them with Asian diasporic artists and writers. I will also be using psychoanalysis, particularly from the works of Melanie Klein and Jacques Lacan, to look at the fragments we choose, take, or leave behind. I am writing and thinking towards a racial body that is “good enough” (from another psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott) to be considered American. I want to write towards an Asian American body that is not in close proximity to whiteness and repaired to be a fulfilled body, whether material or immaterial.

19. I think I said too much. Sorry for those who had to chew through that, but I needed to write down something before I expand it and present it to faculty members and peers to critique, judge, and perhaps accept. I have been thinking for a long time about all of this. In January, I tried to type up a project to apply with, and I choked. I changed my project idea from studying bad objects ---- from Melanie Klein ---- to specifically looking at the “bad objects” Asian Americans have with their racial and sexual identities. I have been keeping this in for a while, and I am inspired every day. I want to write more critically, and I will have to soon. I want to rewrite my paper about the psychic attachment Americans have to their guns and how ultimately it fulfills the psychic lack of a phallus/dick. I want to write about the genealogy of wounded writing, how some writers attach to others, using Elliot Rodger and Valerie Solanas’ texts. I want to write about the Atlanta Spa Shootings that happened earlier this year. I want to think about how racial others, particularly Asian Americans, are attracted to whiteness, but I also want to write how whiteness desires nonwhites. I want to write about Jun Lin and his cut-up body. I want to write about my own sexual trauma and my mass consumption of gay porn featuring Asian bodies. I want to write about desire, our erotics, and all the things we have inside us.

20. When I reached my 20s, I didn’t expect it to be so hard. I didn’t expect life to be harder than my teens. I think I can speak for the majority of us. As I approach my mid-20s, I cannot help but feel proud of it. I know people in my circles worry about their age, especially those approaching 30. But I can’t help but be amazed how I will be 25. I didn’t think I would get this far. I want to survive each year. I want to grow old.

Art by Lola Estok

21. I am feeling some type of way today. My deadline for this piece is today, but I am so in love with the world. Especially people. I love people. Strangers. The way we meet. It’s one of my favorite things, and I am so in love with it. The pandemic has decreased these moments between us, but I had one of those moments last night. I was heading home from Brooklyn around midnight. The trains are hell at this time, and since I live in Queens, a few trains need to be taken. As I was waiting for the E train from the West 4th Street Station, an older man ---- who was drunk ---- asked everyone and anyone where the E train to Queens was. I pointed, and the man became not only very grateful but very attached to me. He followed me onto the same train car asked me several times where Parson Boulevard was. He was going deep in Queens, way further out than I live. He moved back and forth in the car but always made sure that he stopped to talk to me. I was amused, and it helped the time go by. I cannot help but listen to anyone. I feel like I have to because I feel like barely anyone listens to me. Then again, I don’t really talk. As a friend told me, I speak. I don’t know the difference. I suffer from co-dependency, the Icelandic version. According to my friend Nína, rather than “co-dependency” being a negative term that stigmatizes someone relying on someone or something in order to live, the Icelandic meaning is closer to what we may call “collective empathy.” It is foreign to an American body. If someone is suffering or feeling bad, you cannot help but assist them or accompany them. On this train, I didn’t want this stranger to be lost and to not be heard, even though he was drunk and saying pure nonsense. He told me to come to Coney Island and see him. Look for Uncle Greasy. He’ll take care of me because of my kindness. He passed out before I could say goodbye and leave my station. He had at least ten more stops to go before he reached his destination. I love people. I love their passion. I love their kindness to others.

22. I am starting to not like the friends I have. I don’t know. I have to specify because I am doing a lot of thinking on friendships. So far, I have categorized them as people who think they are friends with me and people who I consider friends. The term “friend” is overdetermined, and I like to not reduce the relationship to the word. I want to really think about this. What is a friend? Jacques Derrida has written about this. Maybe I should read that book? Are we friends because we genuinely like each other’s company? Or are we friends because we are inherently ---- apparently ---- social? Is it due to proximity? Or are we so afraid of ourselves that we go with the bare minimum? Perhaps I am being harsh here, but I don’t know what a friend is. I definitely do not use the term “best friend,” ever. I don’t think I ever had one. I do have close friends. I do want to have them close. But I am starting to question what I mean to people and what they mean to me.

23. I am currently making lunch. It is in my toaster oven. I didn’t eat breakfast today because I wanted to throw up. I woke up anxious. I am trying to figure out how to end this piece. I am going to stop writing after this fragment and watch an episode of Law & Order: SVU. I haven’t watched it for a while. It makes me think about the guy that I’m in love with. He’s the one who got me into this show. I miss watching television with him a lot. I will watch some TV. I want to read a book or something. I will pet my guinea pigs. I will find my rat because I let him loose, and I cannot find him. This is a usual occurrence. He is usually up in this futon I am sitting on, or he will be under the kitchen table. He is most likely asleep. He hates his cage so much. I wish I could let him free roam ----- he would be much happier ---- but I cannot trust him around the guinea pigs. He will attack them. Later today, I will be going back to Brooklyn. Downtown Brooklyn, where I was last night. I will be seeing the film Zola at BAM. I have been wanting to see this film for over a year. It is based on a long Twitter thread that I saw when I was in high school. I cannot wait to see it. I will probably repeat the same commute. Maybe I will meet another stranger. I have ten days left. Sorry to my editors.

24. 24 was unfortunately a void. I hate that it had to be this way. I didn’t achieve much, but I want to say that I have grown a lot. This may be the hardest year of my life, but I had tender moments. On my birthday last year, I walked the length of Manhattan with my friend Agnes. I got the idea from the TV show Broad City. They walked all the way from Inwood, the north part of Manhattan, and ended the day in Battery Park, the south part of Manhattan. They had a few treats along the way, but Agnes and I treated it as an endurance act. We didn’t eat any meals. We chugged a bunch of fruit nectar in Hamilton Heights and walked for six hours. I considered doing it again, but Agnes said/joked that due to them taking estrogen, they would be unable to join me. A lot has happened this year. My body and mind have transformed. I was so lost before? I still am, but I feel like I am beginning something. I feel like I am beginning. I was in love with him this year. We grew a lot together, and we grew a lot apart. I hope we can always be in sync.

25.On the day of my birthday, I will wake up. I will get out of bed. I will give my guinea pigs and rat their morning treat. I will look through my phone. Make breakfast. Brush my teeth. Wash my face. And step outside. I will be under the trees. I will breathe. What will be my treat? I will allow myself to be.

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katie wilkerson
katie wilkerson
Aug 21, 2021

Lukas I am always so thrilled and inspired after reading your articles. We are all failing at being human and it sucks so bad, I never expected it to be this hard, but living is and can be so beautiful and your writing reminds me that I am not alone. Excited to see where life takes you! Your writing is already so impressive, I've always always been so proud to be your friend. Can't wait to be one of the 20M views on your first TedX Talk! Happy belated birthday I LOVE YOU! (PS, Lola, the I want to survive each year I want to grow old graphic is the new lock screen on my phone)

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