Freeze by Kenzo Fukuda

Back in October 2018, Creative Writing held our annual show where each of us recites a piece on stage, whether that be poetry, prose, or a short story. We also have skits in between parts of our show and our show’s title “La Cro-Ink” was for that. If you went to this past show you might know what is coming next.  

Getting past the basics, I had my poem detailed and planned out to the finest detail. I had adjusted the poem to fit a stage performance, found a clip of Tupac Shakur that meshed with my poem, had red lighting for my entrance and “Spanish Harlem” by Aretha Franklin for my exit. I rehearsed and memorized my poem “We the People” to the point where hyperbole would be appropriate. I was going to kill it! I was supposed to kill it. So when I walked onto the platform in the center of the stage, in front of the whole theater, I opened my mouth and froze.

That Eminem song “Lose Yourself” has more meaning to me now than before that moment. My palms were sweaty, my knees were weak, the whole shabang. My guess to why the words would not come out (sorry last Eminem reference) is because I had been on stage for 30 seconds leading up to the reciting. I could see them because the red backlight was shining on their faces and not mine. So when the spotlight dropped, my subconscious started freaking out because now everyone could see me. My brain just shut off and left me flapping in the wind. I had “forgotten” the first lines. When I say forgotten I don’t feel like I actually forgot the words. They were there, somewhere, it was just that my voice and brain could not connect. Like along the way, the words got into a car accident but forgot to call and tell me that they would not make it. I stood on the stand alone and empty.  

I started stuttering and ummming and whispering, “No, no…” the one thing we are told not to do when your forget a line. My body felt like rigamortis, paralyzed by fear but still experiencing every ounce of pain from it. I had to step back from the mic for a moment. I heard people shouting from the audience, “You got this Kenzo!” Even Heather, our department head, was screaming, “Just relax! Go!” But when I stepped back towards the mic and opened my mouth, nothing. I realized I had to skip the entire first stanza and start with the second. I ended up jumbling a lot of the stanzas around to make the piece make sense without the intro, which I didn’t even realize until I watch the video my parents took. I got through the piece and walked off stage.

As soon as I stepped off stage, a rush of Creative Writers swarmed me. They started comforting me, patting my shoulder, and said things like, “You did so well,” “You were amazing”, “At least you finished your piece!” I appreciated everything they said, and it goes to show how close knit this department is, but I was in a fog. Their voices were echoing and I could barely hear them. All I heard the voice in my head, “That could not have just happened, that didn’t happen, right?” It was a surreal moment where I could not process what just happened, like denial was making me forget the experience. But suddenly it hit me and I had to get out of there, had to get some fresh air. I went outside into the parking lot and started screaming.

I was throwing rocks, cursing, kicking the wall, punching the wall, grabbing my head and just sobbing. It was that feeling of let down. It’s such a terrible feeling when you work so hard to make something perfect but in the end it all comes crashing down into rubble. Several people came and gave me their own pep talk. I love each and everyone of them for it. They worked but what snapped me out of my funk and self loathing was my family. They said, and I quote, “Get over it! Stop with this self pity. What’s done is done.” You really do need your family to say something so blunt and honest. I also learned that half of the audience thought my freeze up was intentional. So that was a consolation. That night was full of ups and downs but in the end I’m grateful that I had this experience. If I had to do it all over again, I would rather not choke, who would honestly want to experience that again?  But I’ll try to focus on the positives rather than the negatives and hopefully learn from it.

Kenzo Fukuda, class of 2020

On Bicycle Thieves by Kenzo Fukuda

We recently watched Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves in Cine CLub with San Francisco Art & Film for Teenagers. The film follows Antonio Ricci, a poor father who is desperate to find his stolen bike because otherwise he would not be able to keep his job. The film displays the economic crisis of post-World War II Italy, specifically in Rome, through the eyes of Ricci and also his son Bruno Ricci. This leads to a juxtaposition in the view of their situation, between a father trying to provide for his family and a young boy who is forced to mature due to the circumstances.

At the start of the film, Antonio Ricci is portrayed as prideful, and a man of dignity. This is evident in the scene where he and his wife, Maria Ricci are in a fortune teller’s apartment and Antonio declares that he does not believe there is higher power, especially a sketchy fortune teller. But after his bike is stolen, he slowly begins to lose his pride and dignity because of what that would mean for his family and himself. It would mean failure to his wife, after his she sold their bed sheets to re-buy the bike, and action that showed faith to him. But because of the circumstances and the lack of opportunity, Antonio is forced to betray his own values in gestures of a worrying desperation. This is shown, through the fortune teller again, when Antonio and his son Bruno visit the her after a long afternoon of searching for the bike thief. The fortune teller tells them, “Either, you’ll find it now or you never will,” Antonio acts on these words and becoming a hypocrite to his own claim.

Bruno, on the other hand, is portrayed at the beginning of the film as innocent and oblivious. For example, when Bruno is cleaning the bike, he notices a dent and tells his father. Antonio brushes away his comment saying it will have to make due. Bruno responds by exclaiming that he would have told the man at the pawn shop so he could have it fixed. But what Bruno does not realize is that Antonio does not have time to have the bike fixed, it could cost him his job, and especially if the damage is something that can be managed without the cost of money and time. Later in the film, Bruno’s innocence and obliviousness slowly begin to deteriorate. He begins to realize this in the scene where Antonio takes him to an expensive restaurant out of guilt for hitting him earlier. The table next to them had a wealth family and a boy who was also Bruno’s age. The wealthy boy looks down on the way Bruno is dressed, the way he eats his food, and the way he acts. Bruno begins to realize that his family is not high in social standing. He begins to realize why his father is so desperate to recover the bike and they should not be at this fancy restaurant because the cost of the meal is detrimental to their situation. When Bruno realizes this, he stops eating, only for his father to insist that he finish his food. This is also where Bruno realizes his father is being a bit irresponsible, further shifting their dynamic.

The penultimate sequence that changes the father-son dynamic between the Antonio and Bruno is when Antonio steals someone’s bike out of desperation in front of his son Bruno. Several men catch him before he can get away and they sorely let him go because they did not want to arrest him in front of Bruno. The movie ends with Antonio holding Bruno’s hand for support; Bruno being forced to console his father, something that normally occurs the other way around. This final scene shows Antonio reduced to someone low enough to steal a bike, even though he was out of options. Had he not stolen the bike, he would have held pride and dignity but jobless. But if he successfully stole the bike, he would have job and could maybe scrape together some of his pride later. He was willing to sacrifice his own state of being to feed his family. In a time of survival, Antonio chose the short-term over long-term. Bruno’s innocence was lost in this entire ordeal. Witnessing his father become a thief right in front of him shattered any sense of good and bad morality that is easy to believe as a child. By the end of the film, Bruno is no longer a child because he is forced to carry this burden that his father failed to do.

Kenzo Fukuda, class of 2020

Procrastination, by Kenzo Fukuda

I love procrastinating. I do it all the time. I bet that everyone does it, excluding those mutants who have the willpower to finish their project as soon as they get the assignment. Procrastination is the action of delaying or putting off with something. For example, waiting til the last day to start a five page story that you had two weeks to do.

The way I rationalize putting homework off is through deciding how easy/useless/tedious the homework is. If I think the homework is tedious and won’t help me in any sort of way, I procrastinate. If I think the homework is easy then I will either do it right away of it’s in front of me, or I’ll save it for later. For example, when I put off my spanish homework due the night before, I immediately start to think about when I would have the time to do it before I have that class. I start to think in my head things like: “Let’s see, I can do my homework at breakfast, no it’s too early for that. I can do it in Physics class because we’ll have a sub… Oh! I can do it at the break. Yeah, I’ll have twenty minutes to do it. Alright back to YouTube”

Procrastinating sprouts when people begin to rationalize the amount of time it takes to complete a certain task. And we normally think about the minimum amount of time it would take to accomplish this task. Knowing that the task we have to do takes a small amount of time, we end up choosing to do something we want to do, over what we have to do; thinking that we can do both.

Kenzo Fukuda, class of 2020