Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, News & Relevant Topics, Personal & Opinion, Social Issues & Politics

Nobody’s Asking

Are you tired of hearing me say that I hate the modern practice of the death penalty because it’s now used to reap nothing than injustice, the exact opposite of what it was supposed to serve? Well, I’m not done. There’s just one more rant I want to post before I close this chapter for good.

oxymoron

“But it’s changing the Sharia law!”

I can’t tell you how much I hate hearing those words. People, the word Sharia does not mean penal code. Yes, aspects of justice and the penal code do fall in with the concept of Sharia but you cannot confound Islamic law, the moral code Muslims are called to live by, and the laws of your country enforced by the government. If you look at Wikipedia written in Simple English (apparently people are too stupid to understand regular English) you’ll see that “Sharia” isn’t a penal code set in stone. Very few aspects of it are set in stone in the Quran. I prefer to call the penal code part of it a principle of law instead since Islamic values such as equality and justice are set in stone, but social issues change from culture to culture, nation to nation, year to year and thinking that 7th century customs could solve modern issues is just insane. On the other hand, God’s timeless principles present throughout revelation can, but only if we can find a way to apply them properly under specific circumstances.

simpleenglish

Let there be no question that Islam allows (that is allows, not mandates) the death penalty for certain crimes, it’s an ancient prescription that has been around since the beginning of time, but where people go wrong is that they justify its modern practice by saying “well, it’s in the books.” Yeah it’s in the books, just the Word of God is more than just ink on a page isn’t it? People also think that the justice system today is the same as it was in the 7th century but that could not be more erroneous. So what was the death penalty for back then exactly? Primarily a deterrent, and used really only as a last resort to keep the community safe and free from crime. Today the statistics prove that it’s not a deterrent (the exact opposite actually) and we have very safe and advanced, albeit far from perfect, criminal justice and rehabilitation programs. In a nutshell, the death penalty was prescribed to uphold justice, but in modern society it does nothing but reap injustice.

Take a look at the death penalty in Islam page on ProCon.org. I don’t believe that apostasy is punishable by death in Islam but that’s another story, but you’ll see that the death penalty was reserved for very serious offenses and not taken lightly at all. I must add that Sheikh Ahmad Ash-Sharabasi’s comments were laughable though. How is the modern death penalty self-defense? That’s completely beside the point. Sure, the ancient death penalty served to destroy the threat but do you think that the American terrorists in Supermax are still a threat? Self-defense isn’t even an issue. It’s misguided and erroneous. On the other hand, let’s take a look at what we do with the death penalty in modern society. Firstly, take what Rabia Terri Harris had to say:

An Islamic opposition to the death penalty must begin by acknowledging that the Qur’an may clearly be read as giving special exemption (from the general prohibition on killing) to the taking of a murderer’s life…

Those who favor the death penalty therefore cannot be considered as beyond the pale: we must accept the faithfulness and validity of their opinion…

[T]he responsibility of a Muslim is justice. Will the killing of a murderer produce justice…

[W]e can measure whether it does or not by examining the state of public trust. In the US, the following facts have been established…Nearly 90% of persons executed for murder were convicted of killing whites, although people of color make up over half of all homicide victims nationally…[and] 90% of the people US government prosecutors currently seek to execute are black or Latino…

There is no justice here. No needs are met, no fear is alleviated. This idea does not work. The hallmark of truth is that it works…

It is a far more serious error of Islamic ethics to demand a human death in circumstances when there are doubts about guilt or innocence, where the bereaved are not consulted about their wishes, and when the penalty is selectively applied based on the pernicious fantasy that some lives have more value than others.

Islamic law, and Islamic taqwa, demand that we dissent from such a travesty of justice.

Nobody’s telling you that the death penalty is not part of Islam, and nobody’s asking you to remove those verses from the book. What I am asking is that we stop allowing injustice in the name of “Sharia.” You run your mouth saying that Sharia upholds justice but congratulations, your beloved Sharia law has turned into an oxymoron because the exact opposite is all it’s accomplishing! Tariq Ramadan also echoes this sentiment:

[W]e launch today a call for an immediate international moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in all Muslim majority countries. Considering that the opinions of most scholars, regarding the comprehension of the texts and the application of hudud, are neither explicit nor unanimous (indeed there is not even a clear majority), and bearing in mind that political systems and the state of the majority Muslim societies do not guarantee a just and equal treatment of individuals before the law, it is our moral obligation and religious responsibility to demand for the immediate suspension of the application of the hudud which is inaccurately accepted as an application of ‘Islamic sharia’.

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl also wrote that you’d basically have to be God himself to properly carry out a sentence of the death penalty. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan had this to say about the position of contemporary Judaism about capital punishment, which I believes echoes the sentiments of contemporary Islam in the face of the issues surrounding the modern death penalty:

In practice, however, these punishments were almost never invoked, and existed mainly as a deterrent and to indicate the seriousness of the sins for which they were prescribed. The rules of evidence and other safeguards that the Torah provides to protect the accused made it all but impossible to actually invoke these penalties… the system of judicial punishments could become brutal and barbaric unless administered in an atmosphere of the highest morality and piety. When these standards declined among the Jewish people, the Sanhedrin… voluntarily abolished this system of penalties.

We are closer to Andromeda than we are to a fair and equitable justice system. I don’t believe that reform will do it because peoples’ standards only keep declining, serving their own interests and disregarding the rest. How many times have I heard of dirty cops, corrupt law enforcement officials, cover ups, set ups, and downright gross injustice. So do we stop the oppressor from committing oppression? By removing the means of oppression, a.k.a. the death penalty.

When you sentence someone to life in prison it’s a very harsh sentence of reconciling with yourself looking at a concrete wall for every single day of your life but such a sentence can easily be overturned, after all the person is still alive and can still speak for themselves. On the other hand an execution is permanent and you can’t take it back. As I’ve written about in my previous published articles about this issue An Argument Against Capital Punishment (Part 1 of 2) and An Argument Against Capital Punishment (Part 2 of 2) among others, there is a scary amount of innocent people awaiting execution. And then we execute them in inhumane ways. Even if you wholeheartedly still believe in capital punishment after everything, you must also agree that there is no executing people in inhumane manners. That is not Islamic.

tariqexecution

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/152252551516/the-social-cost-of-solitary-confinement

Lastly, I want you to contemplate a couple of things before everybody loses their minds over this…

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/152252641306/we-need-to-realise-that-we-should-be-on-the-side

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/152252650276/youre-faithful-to-the-text-when-you-understand

Is the modern practice of capital punishment faithful to the text? Not even close! Consider this next time you go on blabbing about that “it’s scripture” or that you care about human rights. The two must go together.

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/152252926786/certain-verses-leave-no-scope-for-interpretation

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/152252967471/please-please-could-you-show-some-heart-some

Posted in Books & Stories

Lost Thoughts — Volume Two: Listen

As I walked through the gates of hell I could hear nothing but their voices. I was alone, completely alone. There was not a soul in sight, neither living or dead, not even a bird that flew overheard, nothing. Everything in the world appeared to be at a standstill, including the last grip I had on my sanity and my humanity. When I stopped walking everything went quiet, but the moment I made a move I could hear their voices again. I knew could not turn back, there’s never any turning back when you’re being thrusted forward by something greater than you. I kept walking the railroad and their millions of voices only kept whispering, wailing and singing with every step I took.

I put my hands over my ears to block out the torturous sound but it changed nothing. They were still talking just as much and I still couldn’t make out what they were saying. What were they trying to tell me? I did not speak Polish, Hebrew, Italian or any of the other languages spoken by the departed soul and even if I had, there were too many of them for me to understand a word being spoken. Maybe they were simply speaking gibberish, the language of the dead, one that the living could not comprehend. But they weren’t just talking to each other, they were talking to me.

The overbearing sadness of the place lingered in the air and long after it had been deserted. I kept on walking in steady steps under the grey sky along the railroad as I felt the rumble of the train coming from behind me. I tried to step off the railroad but I couldn’t, I could only walk faster but the faster I went the louder their voices got and I could not bear to hear them anymore. Although I could not make out what they were saying, having to hear it drained the very essence of my soul. As much as I walked I never seemed to get closer and I only grew weary instead.

“Stop!” I shouted back at the voices of the dead, “Just please stop!”

Their bodies were gone but their souls and voices remained. I was surrounded by barbwire fences and watch towers no matter where I looked and the building complexes never seemed to get closer. My heartbeat caught the rhythm of the approaching train and I fell to my knees in exhaustion, desperation and fear.

“Stop! Be quiet!” I begged the never- ceasing voices of the departed souls, “Please be quiet!”

It was useless to attempt to block my ears because it changed absolutely nothing. The ground underneath me was warm but the metal rails were cool. I latched on to them in an attempt to propel myself forward and reach the end of the railroad before the train caught up to me. Surely if it did, I would join the millions of voices speaking all around me. Their sound drained me and it became an ever-increasing struggle to keep moving forward. I grabbed on to the wooden planks below me, digging my fingers into the dirt and gravel along the way, and crawled forward.

“I’m begging you! Please be quiet!” I kept on shouting back at them.

The static noise only kept on getting louder and louder as I went. They didn’t want to be ignored; they wanted my attention.

“Silence!” I cried out, “Silence!”

I could no longer lift my head up as I crawled relentlessly so I closed my eyes and tried to detach myself from the noise. Eventually I came to a halt in front of a pair of jackboots. I touched their smooth leather with my tired and used up hands and let my head flop over the other one. I had made it away from the train, I thought, but the voices were still after me. They destroyed me and I wanted them to stop. My heartbeat slowed down and I looked up at the man in the jackboots, it was Rudolf. Never in the history of the existence of the human soul did I imagine ever being relieved, or even thankful, to see such a man in front of me.

I did not know why he appeared to be alive like me amidst the realm of the dead but he also did not appear to be shaken or tormented by the voices. How could he not be after what he had done to them, and even remorsefully begged for forgiveness for his actions? Surely since he was the person in command the souls would be quiet if I asked him to make them stop.

“Please Rudolf! Make them stop!” I pleaded.

I begged him on my hands and knees to please make them stop at last until he bent down, grabbed me by the shoulders and jerked me up to my feet in one swift and effortless motion. I had no energy left in me to fight but I wanted him to make them stop! Just stop! He grabbed my wrists as I raised up my arms and yanked me closer to him so I could look deep into his dark and empty eyes.

“No, let them sing,” he said, completely undisturbed by their tormenting voices and at absolute peace with himself, “I’ve already silenced them once and if you do it a second time you deserve the same fate as me.”

And then I woke up.

The breath came back into me forcefully and my eyes flicked open instantaneously. My heart was erratically beating in such a way that I honestly thought it was going to literally thought it was going to explode out of my chest. I placed my hand over my chest just to remind myself that I was indeed still alive, that my soul had returned to my body after my deep slumber, and to hopefully ease a few of the chest pains. I was covered in sweat to the point that I felt like I had just stepped out of the shower, except that I wasn’t clean. So much for taking a shower before falling asleep on the sofa the previous night!

Calm down, calm down, calm down. It was much easier said than done after something like that. That hadn’t been just a dream. Things had went way beyond that. I had went somewhere, literally went somewhere. Everything was so vivid and so real, there was no way that had been just a dream. I let my head flop back on the armrest of the couch and did deep breathing exercises so I wouldn’t have to take anxiety medication. I dreamed often, constantly really, but not like that. That had been much more than just a dream. But what exactly had gone on? What the hell had just happened?! It was as though my soul had transcended time and space.

I had probably been fidgeting around violently in my sleep for quite some time because my cat who always slept with me was on the floor not far away with her backed arched and the hair standing straight all over her body. How long had it taken for me to calm down? I didn’t know. I had not slept very well because of what happened and my body felt sore the moment I tried to move. I eventually found the courage to get up and take a shower to cleanse myself from whatever my soul had done while my body was sleeping. I even skipped class that morning and went straight to a scholar that could interpret dreams for help with putting my mind at ease because what had happened was not easily explained.

That wasn’t just your average dream with a superficial meaning. I hadn’t gotten drunk, taken any medication or anything else that could’ve impaired my state of mind last night. I wasn’t feeling ill. I hadn’t done anything, watched anything or thought of anything even remotely similar to what I’d experienced during my slumber. I had gone somewhere, my soul had gone somewhere while I was asleep. I was always taught that during the night God takes our souls and returns them once we awake those whom He wills and keeps those whom He wills. But what exactly had happened? What did all of it mean? What did it have to do with me?

I had never experienced anything like that before and I couldn’t easily shake it off. No, it was too intense for me to just let it go. There was no letting it go even if I had wanted to and honestly, if it had been just up to me, I would’ve loved to simply have forgotten about it. Go away, please be quiet! But no, I did not want to die the same way Rudolf did. Had I really seen him?

“The image of Rudolf is a very significant symbol for you Leila,” the scholar told me, “what he told you about himself is the same as what he wants you to know about yourself.”

“What?” I asked, completely confused and dumbfounded.

That is your interpretation of my dream?

The scholar did not answer and I knew then that our session together was over. Even after all the crying, my recounting in painfully clear details what I’d seen, how I’d even smelled and tasted the grime that clung to everything, and my shaking hands that one sentence was all I got for an interpretation. I went to school for my afternoon classes more confused than anything. What the scholar had told me only further puzzled me the more I thought about it.

No, let them sing, I’ve already silenced them once and if you do it a second time you deserve the same fate as me.

What did that mean? What had I ever done to deserve such a fate? I had done just the opposite in fact! Contrary to him I cared about people! Even strangers! I was pursuing a degree in human rights and I was on my way to helping the oppressed at the level of the law! I was the exact opposite of him! I would personally help insure that people would never have to go through the atrocities he helped carry out ever again. How did what he told me about himself have anything to do with my own life? I could not be farther from him in every possible way.

“Leila, are you listening?” Prof. Gusak asked from across the room.

“Yes sir,” I mumbled in a low voice, obviously still distracted.

I yanked my scarf over my head closer to my face and tried to focus on the lecture but I couldn’t. My mind kept going back to my dream night and day. I analyzed every single aspect of my existence in constant futile attempts to decipher what Rudolf had told me, or tried to tell me because I didn’t understand the meaning of the dream no matter which way I put it. What haunted me the most was how realistic and vivid it had been. I couldn’t get over it. It dominated every aspect of my waking life, my every moment spent alert was spent thinking about that. I couldn’t shake it off, the chills still clung to my skin. I still heard his voice, their voices, even the room was dead silent.

The image of Rudolf is a very significant symbol for you Leila, what he told you about himself is the same as what he wants you to know about yourself.

And what could that possibly be? I’d been over that a million times! We were nothing alike! Not in the slightest way! So what was it that he wanted me to know so much?!

Rudolf’s words and the scholar’s words didn’t fit together no matter which angle I tried. The only lead I could pick up on was literally silence. I’d always known that silent and listen were spelled with the same letters and really, you couldn’t have one without the other. I thought that maybe he was now being tormented in the grave because he hadn’t listened and he had silenced others but no, that thought didn’t go very far, he appeared completely at peace. I was the one who had been tormented, but why? What did this have to do with me? What was there more to say? Everything had already been said. My two cents was like a drop of water in an endless sea.

Or so I thought. But apparently others thought otherwise. I thought of going to see the scholar again but decided against it. I knew that he’d said all that he had to say and that if I pressed harder I would only get another cryptic message that would only serve to confuse me even more. Maybe it would’ve been easier to forget but my mind wouldn’t let me do that. Never forget, was that the message of the dream?

No, that didn’t fit. How could someone, anyone, forget something of that magnitude. The world couldn’t forget even if it tried. That would’ve been too easy for an explanation of such a deep dream. Attempting to dream again was to no avail either. I saw nothing but darkness, heard nothing but silence. I knew that it had something to do with silence but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. If the sound of their voices wasn’t haunting enough, the sound of silence was also deeply, if not equally, tormenting to hear.

I kept going round and round inside my head when it came to my dream. My mind only danced in circles, especially at night when I was left to lie down in my bed all alone in the darkness with nothing but my thoughts. Why did something that ought to have been so simple affect me so much? Why did it have to be so complicated? Why couldn’t he have just told me in simple normal people words?! At least that way I might’ve been able to do something about it instead of just sitting around and wearing myself out over it!

Leila, are you listening?

To make matters worst I’d become an insomniac because my mind was always spinning restlessly around the same words. Silent. Listen. Listen to the silence? No, that was just dumb. Finally I got angry and frustrated and decided that I needed some air so I went outside onto my balcony and walked into a star-filled sky. It was only me and the angels out there with a refreshing and cool breeze gliding smoothly through the trees in the distance. I looked up a the constellations silently asking if they would reveal to me the mysteries of life but it was always a one-way conversation between us.

“What is it that you want?!” I shouted into the empty night sky, “Just tell me once and for all so I can finally put this to rest! I’m listening!”

That’s when it occurred to me that Rudolf never wanted me to neither speak nor remain silent, he only wanted me to listen.

Posted in Books & Stories, Reblogged Posts

Lost Thoughts — Volume Two: Renegades

I woke up one morning feeling different. I just knew that something was out of the ordinary. I closed my tired eyes again and took a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. The smell of sweat lingered in the air of the dark room I was in. The only thing I could hear was the silence. It was just going to be another bad day, I was going to have to face that, that’s all. I exhaled loudly, a little louder than I should’ve, before rubbing my tired eyes and getting up. I wasn’t ready to face the day, I didn’t really want to. The first problem I encountered was that I woke up in someone else’s room. I needed to go to the bathroom too much to look around it so I ran out down the hallway in hopes to find the toilet before I did it in my ugly ripped jeans. They were dirty, and they weren’t mine either.

In the bathroom I came face to face with a problem much bigger than having to pee. As soon as I walked in I came face to face with my reflection in the mirror and I noticed that something had changed. But not just a little something, everything had changed! That person in the mirror wasn’t me! I had been a short, red-haired and green-eyed girl but that guy in the mirror wasn’t. I touched my face just to make sure that crap was indeed real, that that was indeed me, and sure enough it was. It wasn’t all just some weird nightmare. The person I now saw looking back at me in the mirror was a tall young man with long brown hair, dark brown eyes and tattoos. Lots of tattoos. I had a big problem on my hands.

I pulled down my pants and sat on the toilet even though I no longer had to in order to urinate. I was freaking out inside of my own skin, or at least someone’s skin! After I finished my business and I stuck my face in the mirror again. Long flawless face, neat eyebrows, a crooked lip ring on the right side, clean shaven and a huge neck tattoo in a language I didn’t speak. I was a guy, I was literally a guy. My first instinct was to slap myself to wake up from a horrific nightmares but much to my displeasure it wasn’t even a dream. It was reality. So being a guy wasn’t what was horrible, what was horrible was that I didn’t know who the guy was, or who he was supposed to be. Panicking, I stomped out of the room and into the living room where I found a guy sleeping on the couch and another one watching TV. I had no idea what the hell was happening and much less who those people were and what they were doing in my house. I thought it was my house at least?

“Hey Jizz, you alright man?” the guy watching TV asked me, “You look pretty puzzled.”

Jizz?! What the hell was Jizz supposed to stand for?!

“Eh, yeah… I just feel, sort of, odd today,” I muttered out unsure of everything.

He was a short, blue-eyed creepy-looking bald guy wearing a tuxedo. He had the palest skin I had ever seen and a big evil grin on his lips stretching from almost ear-to-ear. He seemed to know me, or at least he knew Jizz.

“You know, you got pretty shaken up in the car accident last night,” he went on, “are you sure you don’t want to go see a doctor?”

A doctor, how convenient! Jizz’s voice — my voice — was low and scratchy. I would’ve given my new body just over twenty years or so, and the voice matched up with the one of most young men in that age group.

“No, I’m fine,” I lied.
 I was far from being fine.

“Alright man.”

The other dude on the couch subsequently got up after he heard us speaking loudly. I must’ve had a blank expression on my face since he didn’t look impressed. That guy had messy burgundy dreads, bright green eyes, more tattoos than I did, and probably too many piercings for his round little face. He looked like he could’ve been a model but sex, drugs and rock and roll had messed him up pretty bad. He rubbed his tired, bloodshot eyes before yawning with his mouth wide open like a cat would. The inside of his mouth revealed most of his teeth rotted away by drug use and a tongue piercing that looked like it was about to fall out.

I simply stood there and stared around the filthy room in front of me until I heard someone pounding on the door. I wasn’t able to react right away. The mess in front of me was too much to swallow at once. That place was a dump to the finest degree. How could anyone live in filth like that?! Even pigs had a higher standard of living than that! It looked like I was the person in charge of the place so I went to open the door since the pounding didn’t stop even after a few moments. Some cute blonde girl pushed me out of the way as I reluctantly opened the door and stomped right in. She immediately started yelling at the guy with the dreads but I was too distraught to listen to what she was trying to get through his head. I couldn’t help but fiendishly smile as she slapped him in the face though. After she was done she just walked out empty-handed like nothing had ever happened.

The dude seemed unfazed, even still in a daze. The creepy tux guy smiled creepily from the side of his face too but didn’t speak. My first instinct had been to laugh but I couldn’t quite get it out of my mind that I still had a whole life to figure out.

I slowly walked to the middle of the landfill-like room called my living room looking down at the roaches crawling on the dirty floor. I then stopped and faced the two guys in front of me and took a deep breath.

“What exactly happened last night?” I asked honestly, somewhat afraid of what the answer was going to be.

“You put my tape recorder in the microwave you son of a bitch!” yet another guy yelled out from behind me.

I turned in a jiffy to look at him. He was a skinny, short brown-haired guy with a menacing frown sweeping over his face. His dark brown eyes fiercely looking in my direction almost like he wanted me to evaporate in his gaze.

“You were in a car crash with that drug dealer guy last night, you escaped unharmed but he got taken to hospital and he got arrested,” the guy with the burgundy hair sheepishly answered my question in his soft voice, “you know they tied him to his bed and shit.”

Oh wonderful, now I do drugs.

“Oh,” I muttered, not knowing how else I was supposed to react.

I figured I was in much deeper than I originally thought. I went back into the room I assumed was mine and sat down at the desk in the corner of the room near a dirty little window that I could barely see out of since it hadn’t been cleaned in so long. I picked up a little book lying in the center of the desk on top of a pile of other junk. It was Jizz’s diary. I figured that might answer a couple of things, about Jizz at least, because how I went from being a woman to some young man overnight while I was sleeping could not be explained with even the best of science.

I took a glance at the clock at the same time too. It was eleven in the morning and it was raining outside. I had no idea where I was; not the street, not the city, not the country, and not which galaxy for that matter. As I read the diary I found out that Jizz — I — was a journalist and that the place I was currently in was California, although Miriam, who I really was inside, was from Idaho. I had a band called The Sexy Killer Barbies in which I was the singer. I also found out that I was addicted to drugs, had a bad girlfriend, and had no life.

There was a guy in my band who played bass, his name was Brady and he was my best friend. But he was also a junkie and I didn’t want him in the band anymore. Then there was Craig, the guitarist whom we all hated. There was one last guy named Allan but we all called him Pogo over his love for the nasty corn dogs of the same name. I didn’t quite know what piece of the band he was supposed to be since all he did was play with kids toys and Silly Putty onstage.

We had a Value Village drum machine instead of a real drummer and we had a real important show coming up on July 4th, 1990 out of town. I didn’t know when that was supposed to be because when I’d gone to sleep the night before it had been January 29th, 2010. So I had a show to sing at sometime, but I had no idea what the hell our music was about! I’d never even heard it! I quickly ran out of the room to go see the others.

“What day is it today?” I asked, somewhat afraid of what the answer was going to be.
 “Saturday July 4th, 1990,” the guy with brown hair who accused me of destroying his tape recorder replied apathetically, “but we don’t have to perform if you don’t feel well.”

“No, I just have,” I stumbled with my words, “no, I’m fine.”

I went back into my bedroom which was just as dirty as the living room with what looked like vomit near the closet door that had fallen off the hinges. I turned the place literally upside down but finally managed to dig up some lyrics and a bunch of other band-related junk. In my panic I didn’t know what I was doing. Why in the world did I agree to perform?! But it was too late to back down. I was going to do it. I’d have to do something. Amongst the rubble in the room I managed to find the set list for the show so I shoved it in the pocket for my old jeans. I took a deep breath and rearranged my new long hair before going to sit calmly in the living room with the others. The black leather couch looked infested with mold but it was cleaner than the floor so I flopped onto it. Before anyone could speak or even move there was another knock on the door. The dude with the burgundy hair got up to answer it as if he as expecting someone.

“You owe me $200 Brady!” the guy on the other side of the door yelled loudly and angrily.

So now I knew that burgundy-haired boy was Brady. I had found some money in my gross room so I decided to run and get it and give it to the guy demanding it since according to my diary Brady was my best friend. The guy at the door literally ripped the money right out of my hands and left giving all of us dirty looks as he did so.

“Thanks man,” Brady told me, looking relieved. “No problem, I replied, “you’re my best friend, no?”

He smiled as he walked away to pick up his bass in the corner of the living room and started playing. The guy who accused me of destroying his tape recorder picked up the guitar and joined in. I figured that was Craig and the bald tux guy was Pogo. At least I now had identities for the guys in my house and in my band. As they started jamming in the living room I went back into my room to listen to some demo tapes we had recorded, probably on that infamous tape recorder I had destroyed, and listened to the awful sounds coming out of the headphones over and over again. My band was terrible! We only had ten songs so far so I figured I wouldn’t have too much of a time performing them. That was the first piece of good news I had heard all day.

After multiple hours of listening to that ruckus through the headphones I went into the kitchen to make myself some food — Miriam was an excellent cook but I couldn’t comment on Jizz — but as I opened the fridge I saw that it was mostly empty, apart from a couple of beer bottles and multiple plastic containers filled with rotten cheese like somebody had a fetish for such disgust.

“Since when do you eat?” Brady asked laughing as he joined me in the roach-infested kitchen after he finished jamming with the other boys.
 “Well everybody eats,” I replied, not knowing if it was supposed to be funny or not.

“Drug addicts don’t eat,” he said as handed me some white powder in a little clear plastic bag, “here you go.”

That stuff must’ve been cocaine, yuck. I politely accepted the dope, even thanked the idiot for it, and retreated to my room once again. I searched through the closet to find some clean clothes to wear, or at least cleaner than the pants I had on. I had no underwear, mismatched socks and no shirt. I’d recently gotten a new chest tattoo since it still hurt quite a bit. I found a decently clean black shirt so I put it on and swapped my pants for some orange pants that looked like prison suit pants but they were clean so I didn’t hesitate to put them on. I didn’t care what I looked like. Considering the kind of hell my poor house had been through over an indefinite period of time, the clothes I had on my back were the least of my concerns.

Lastly I put on a black and white classic Adidas jacket and just barged out the front door and walked down the street in the pouring rain. I had to remind myself not to venture out too far because I didn’t know where I was going and in the year 1990 I didn’t have an iPhone with a GPS in case I lost my ass somewhere in a big strange city. I stopped at a little random restaurant at the end of the street to dry off and to pig out all while still listening to my band’s demo tapes. In my life as Miriam I had never before seen one of those huge apparatuses that you shoved a tape into to listen to it on the go. And then when one side of the tape was over I either had to rewind it or turn it over. I couldn’t have survived on my own with all of that weird and retro technology that was like a godsend back in the day.

After I finished my extra large portion of the special of the day; a cheeseburger with fries and gravy and a drink of choice, I walked back to my little house in the middle of Waterloo Avenue. I had barely dried off and the rain sure wasn’t stopping but what the hell did I care? I tried to focus on the words on my demo tapes. I could barely hear a thing, it was all just yelling and puking noises with some more bogus banter in the background not to mention the other absurd noises that were supposed to be the melody of the tune. I was definitely discouraged that that was my band and that’s what I had to put up with. I didn’t hold it against Jizz for putting the tape recorder in the microwave just so he wouldn’t have to hear that shit anymore. I wasn’t happy about it to say the least, but I definitely wasn’t the type to back out either.

“It’s all or nothing,” I reminded myself out loud.

Once I got back home the guys had started yet another jam session but the second time around the beer had made it out of the fridge and the empty bottles were lying all over my living room. I’d never had much of a taste for beer in my actual life, but who was I kidding, I grabbed the very last bottle, chugged it down like a big man like Jizz could and joined in on the carnage. I started singing and I managed to make it through all of the songs the guys decided to play. I was just a tiny bit off but it was nothing compared to that carnage they were making.

Once the carnage was over I sat down on the smelly couch and let my head tilt back and just breathe. I glanced over at the clock again, we’d have to get ready for the snow soon. Craig said that some dude was supposed to be arriving at any moment, I figured it was the band manager or something like that that would be arriving to take us to our destination so I figured I should get ready. The other guys, whom I ultimately figured were my roommates, all got dressed in crazy makeup and outrageous outfits including some downright girl clothes at times. Not knowing any better, I imitated them.

As the afternoon went by, my new existence wasted away the seconds and the minutes. Soon it would be time to head to the venue and once again I had no clue what the hell I had to expect. All I had to bring was my megaphone since I didn’t have a real microphone for my off-key singing.

After everyone got their equipment ready in the band van, a big fat guy that I reckon was the band manager the boys were talking about drove us to the venue. It took about an hour and a half to get there. That was enough for my bandmates to get completely wasted on our way there. They all pressured me to join in the debauchery but I repeatedly refused, saying that I had a stomachache, although according to them sniffing coke was supposed to help my aches and pains.

A classic rock band opened our show and entertained the crowd of only about thirty people for half an hour. It was just past eight that night when we took the stage for our 4th of July show. Everyone booed us as we walked up there. I had so much stage fright that I felt like throwing up and somewhat even regretted not consuming drugs and getting high out of mind before winding up there in front of those people. Just before I started to sing I noticed that everyone in there were dressed like absolute freaks, and my makeup and wild hair was pale in comparison. The few actual fans of the band in the crowd had shirts of me and on those shirts I was a true freak as well. I was in a freak band in a freak world. But that wasn’t even me!

After I managed to get through our ten short songs I demanded to go straight home. Since I was the frontman and the person who kept that freak show going, they did what I told them to do. During the trip back to my place all of my guys were completely wasted so I decided to chug down a couple myself until all of my stress was washed away. I needed it. For a big chunk of the day I had been in a blank daze but all of that mixed in with the adrenaline from the show was beginning to wear off and I realized just how actually tired I really was from all that bogus crap called Jizz’s life I had to put up with during the day.

* * *

The only thing that woke me up after I dozed off on the couch amidst the increasingly creepy things crawling on my floor was the loud ring of the phone. It was right next to me on the little table so I simply reached out my arm and picked it up.

“He’s dead Jizz! He’s dead!” a female voice screamed on the other end of the line.

I had no idea what was going on and I really didn’t feel like dealing with it at God only knows what time of the night it was so I hung up.

“Who was that?” Pogo asked me.

I hadn’t noticed that he was nearby. Some sort of debauchery had gone on before I fell asleep but since I was drunk I couldn’t quire remember.

“I don’t know,” I muttered while looking at the phone before looking over at him, “and how the hell did you get into my house?”
 “We live together Jizz,” he replied blankly, “don’t you remember?”

No I didn’t. I not only had no idea what was going on and now someone had died! Someone I was supposed to know! Feeling completely lost and not knowing what to do, I simply crawled over to my bedroom, flopped over my cheap mattress on the floor of a bed and dozed off into a dreamless and peaceful sleep. An alcohol and drug-induced sleep I should also note. Such behavior seemed to have been the norm for Jizz so what the heck. There was no longer a difference between Jizz and Miriam anyway.

The next morning I woke up amazingly sore, more than I had ever been in my life. The first thing I did was look around the room. It was Miriam’s room. I quickly rushed into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. It was myself again! I let out a huge sigh of relief! Thank God! I was me again, back in my house in Idaho with my cat and my stuffed toys and my normal life and everything. Let’s just say that I was happy being myself and that I’d never complain that I didn’t love myself again.