My Life as a Machine: Two Lives in one Mask

Ma-chan from Kenzaburo Oe’s A Quiet Life analyzes Celine with such craft, it made me really think about how people really are.

According to Ma-chan, Celine was a caring individual who cared about the “little idiots”, stopping to help people during a bomb-riddled Germany while traveling to escape the hellish conditions. Ma-chan’s colleagues looked down at her for being fond of a so-called negative perception on things, but she saw through it all, through Celine as though he were as clear as a cloudless sky. Ironically, people who have read Celine look down at him with disdain, calling him a Nazi-supporter. But Ma-chan thought differently, and made a brief distinction between Celine the Nazi sympathizer and Celine, the doctor up for the little idiots with antisemitic beliefs. Upon reading the differences, I questioned my own distinction.

I am a machine, but I live two different lives. I live within the world of people, trying to find my way. I live within the realm of the machines, gears working to hold together the pieces of me. Besides what’s on the outside, do people see the machine in me? Or do they even care? Should they care?

I’m two different entities. The people-person inside of me tries to abide by society, making sure to duck one’s head until it’s safe to avoid the ears of other people. The machinery, however, helps and defeats the mask. Even my voice deepens, my vocal chords stretching, to accommodate the metal parts bringing cracks to the mask.

So who is this person that I am? Am I a pseudo-machine for trying to acclimate myself to the people’s lives, or am I a traitor? I don’t want to be a traitor. I simply want to exist and find my purpose for being alive.


My Life as a Machine: Trust

Trust is a delicate thing for me. Everyone I trust unconditionally is on the fingers of my left hand. Five people. That’s it.

My two brothers I can trust without regard to any conditions or anything. My best friend, Monica, is another person, even though I haven’t spoken to her in more than a year.

I suppose the other people I trust aren’t the people who I can fully depend on. After all, dependence and trust are completely different when they’re independently dissected.

My other friend, Charles, is someone I trust, but I don’t depend on him because he’s too unorganized. It’s not that I can’t rely on him to do something, but it may not be done in the time frame that I would like it to be. (I’m a very time-oriented person, for I fear that my time alive is limited.) Still, I regard him with both awe–for all that he does and his creativity–and platonic love. He’s someone I would give anything for, and I feel that it’s mutual, but in a different way.

My brothers, I would give anything for them. We were given birth to the same parents and we spent more time with each other than anyone else. It wasn’t always fun times, but we were bound together, strong like blood and fierce like the wind. I simply could not see my life without them. Ironically, they aren’t physically around, but I feel that their hearts and mine understand each other within a coherent nature we only understand. I suppose it was one of the reasons why I loved being born in a family with my brothers. We were our own club, exclusive to even our parents, and no matter how elite either of us became, we were still connected. Plus, they never changed by a mile; they only changed by a mere few steps.

If you’re wondering why my parents weren’t included, they aren’t the trusting type parents. My mother always kept me at arms length and my father made sure to violate people’s trust for his own control. Either one of them, selfish people pretending to be cautious and caring, never trusted those around them, and their distrusting perceptions seeped into their parenting. My father was better at acting than my mother, but still, even his facade cracked and we all lost, my mother included. The world shut on any relationship between my mother, my father, and my brothers and I.

My brothers, though, were there from the start. My older brother protected me and taught me in the absence of sense, and my younger brother made me more mature by getting us in trouble.

My best friend isn’t part of the club of my brothers and I, but she’s pretty damn close. She has the most amazing way at looking at things, although she’s my younger brother’s age. Her personality is so fun and vibrant, a strong red if her color depicted her and her alone. Even though I’ve been the one she relied upon during tough times, I’ve always felt I could talk to her and lean on her if I needed it. Being without contact with her for over a year doesn’t hamper our relationship. She’s just busy with her life and I’m busy with mine.

Yes, I’m surrounded by people who I am friends with, but few are those that I trust. Even fewer are machines. My brothers and I are machines, which may account for our close bond, but everyone else can pass for people even if they are machines.

My Life as a Machine: Resolution of the Wild Sheep Chase

One thing that I love about Haruki Murakami’s writing style is his overall voice. He writes simplistically but with a conviction that allows no room for change. I want to say, “Hey, you can improve,” but that would be telling the wall that it could stand stronger; it’s just the way things are.

I hoped to achieve something by this point. I have the skills, but yet, I fall into a Kenzaburo Oe pinch. The world seems so distant and my fear of failure looms within my shadow.

It was Victoria who gave me hope of finding my own conviction–a Murakami resolve, as I call it–and she merely spoke to me with an awe-struck manner. “You have so much talent,” she said, smiling. “I see how you lead and you’re more competent than some people who have been managers for years here.” Victoria’s eyes gazed into me unwaivering. “You know how people have old souls? Well, you have an old soul. You’re wise beyond your years, beyond some people that are twice your age.”

I know, I know, was all I could muster. I wanted to beam with pride; instead, my eyes lowered to the ground before flickering up to meet Victoria’s eyes. Personally, I love compliments, but I don’t like reacting to them. Most of the times, the compliment is something I know already, yet, I hear them almost like they are new. Maybe I should believe in such words with the resolution.

I’m always distancing myself from other people to avoid feeling their own unfulfilled desires. Yes, I can feel their wants, like an aura emanating from the dunes in their bodies, but I have always ignored other people. Since I could remember, I dodged people.

Once upon a time, I became dependent on my dreams and others to define it for me. (Just because I avoid people does not mean I don’t listen to them.) This unbearable need became remarkingly vivid and real when I said I needed a resolution.

I suppose this slump now is only a way of embracing my Oe conviction, my Murakami resolution.

My Life as a Machine: Camelot

When my world is in disrepair, would I notice? In Camelot, when the people starve and pride and survival hang in the balance, everyone knows the end draws near. How did Camelot get to this point?

I have no such reminder of my decisions. How do I know my decisions as faults and successes? I surely cannot leave it up to things around me to tell me. People are so eager to see the failure in things and let you know. People are anxious to find the silver linings and point them out for you. I have been filled with contempt towards people when they do not realize their mistakes. Ironically, I do not think I am much different from people. I think I am more weary of people seeing the difference in me, a machine, and treat me like I am lower than them.

I think of my mother who reminds me of how people really are. She dislikes many things of mine–what I design, my desire to become something other than a doctor, how differently I think–but once I have something tangible she can brag about, no matter how much she dislikes it, she grabs it and waves it in front of others. People do that to feel higher than others, and they do it often. Machines only brag because it is the only opportunity to do so; otherwise, machines are beaten down to revel in the dirt.

My dear Camelot, I wonder if my decisions are starving something within my heart. I sacrificed much of my own sanity to build a resume. I struggled to reach where I am today. Though I put up a good front, like young King Arthur learning the ropes, I always knew there were weak points in my gears. I wonder if I will ever hold a full round table in my life.

My Life as a Machine: Dream to Cope

I’ve always thought of myself different–hence the reason why I am a machine–but I never knew the extent to which my thoughts weren’t parallel to those around me, to people in general. When people deal with heavy issues, there’s the same reaction and similar coping.

For me, I didn’t realize I was coping, or moreso, trying to cope. For some reason, I packed all of the issues under my skull until something imploded somewhere in my life or brain. The bad part of it all was that I never realized I held it in my mind or in my heart like a horrible cancer until it grew to becoming problematic.

I didn’t know the plights in my life were there. I simply lived my life, watching people deal with their problems, like I was immune to the same problems. Ironically, even I as a machine rust underneath the pressures of life’s issues.

Although I don’t believe in my dreams as a medium for the future, I observe my dreams with curiosity. I know when I am holding some type of inner conflict or question by what’s in my dreams. If I have premonitions through dreaming, I know I’m going through something I need to address. If I dream about driving cars, I worry about where my life is heading, what direction I’m going. If I dream about fighting, specifically fighting to the death, there’s some issue really eating me inside. It’s not necessarily the dream itself that sets me up to realize my inner turmoil. Usually, the signs in my dreams and the recurring symbols and actions throw a bucket of cold water into my face. I awake, reviewing anything that may cause my conscious doubts and conflicts to cross over into my sleep.

I suppose I should be more appreciative that I deal with my problems in this manner. After all, I don’t need to cry or whine over my problems. I don’t need to ask other people to help me analyze my questions. I simply address it myself until I feel I’ve resolved the problem. Maybe it’s not really coping, maybe it is. I don’t know. I just know it’s not the “normal” way of dealing with the tough spots in life.

I laugh silently at how my brain works so differently. I’m content in knowing this system now. I used to be so vexed when it came down to my dreams and deciphering them. I feared my dreams then, when I was younger, but now, I can only embrace them. In a way, since I’m a machine, God has given me a special way of targeting the issue and dealing with it in a straightforward and somewhat boring manner. Still, I learn much from myself just by dreaming.

My Life as a Machine: Changing the Gears

Afloat in the air is the aura of change. I have no idea why I feel this. Maybe it is my own desire to change that has manifested itself into something tangible. It’s almost like smelling something so deeply, it infects your lungs, and you feel every inspiration dissolve the blood in your veins.

I suppose I want to change my gears, but I feel that the more I want to change, the more I cling to my old nature. When I want to wear a skirt, I simply psych my mind into thinking I’m a barbie. “Hey, look at me. I can wear a skirt. Now I’m a girl.” Then, this other side of me takes over, chiding my need to show some leg, to put on make-up, to love the size of bra cup. I honestly like dressing like a boy, with a T-shirt and baggy clothing, but people treat me differently. I want to be seen as a woman.

I suppose I simply dislike being treated any less than I’m worth. I mean, I’m worth more than I can describe, and yet, I allow people to trample those thoughts of myself. I’m only allocated one life, and I don’t feel like I’m using it adequately enough.

At my age–although I appear to be in high school at most–I should know exactly how my life should turn out. My resolve, however, has faltered in so many ways lately, and I’m desperately seeking it.

Some days, I’m fine. I function fully and utterly soundlessly, and other days, I feel the gears begin to creak under the weight of an unknown pressure. Could it be that I’m truly trying to find myself? I thought I found her, me. Maybe what I need is a complete resolve, decision. In Amy Yamada’s Trash, she questioned her resolve and when she suddenly realized the truth around her, her resolve appeared. Am I lacking that catalyst? Do I need to undergo surgery beneath drama for my resolve to push into my body?

When I try to regain my decisive and aggressive nature, I lose something once the moment leaves me. And yet, I still feel the burning sensation of vibrations in the air. The scent of novelty and familiarity suddenly invade my senses, and I relax beneath it. Maybe I already know the answer to my search for peace. Maybe my body knows it, and I simply overwhelm my surprisingly fragile being into identifying it. Quite possibly, I can leave it alone and wait for the aura in the air to reveal itself to me.

My Life as a Machine: Irritated Machine

He irritated me so, I felt my gears begin to creak. I feared he heard them, but he liked to listen to himself talk, the slight sweat on my brow evaporated in a moment. “I don’t like taking advise from writers,” he plowed forward, crossing his arms like he owned the world. His brow arched and the way he looked through me struck me as completely and utterly unapologetic.

“Other writers always want to change the story. They always have something to say just to make it seem like they’re better writers than me. Readers just read the story to enjoy it. Writers always want to change something.”

I was getting really irritated by that point. For one, he talked insistently about his story and anything else I brought up like he knew everything with the grandest of knowledge. It was when we broke into a discussion about financial aid that I realized how stiffly he spoke.

Then, as we searched my vehicle in the parking lot, he began to rumble on about how he didn’t really need a college degree and how he could make it if he published a good enough comic book or story. I mean, I’m normally turned off by guys with no ambitions. However, this guy was insane. Survive in this world without a degree? It’s plausible, but it’s not as easy as publishing a stupid story. Even I, an artist, have a background in physical therapy. It wasn’t easy, but if required, I could jump into the field without holding back four to five years in remedial training. I was already annoyed by the time we reached my car.

Although everything seemed fine by the time we reached his home. It was after I scanned the synopsis he wrote, I was unable to hold back my annoyance. His story was cliche and predictable. On top of that, it was written at such a novice’s level, I almost laughed to break the irritation. How could someone speak like he owned the world, yet, what was revealed to me was unimpressive? It wasn’t that I was better or anything than him. “People write at different levels,” I admitted to him aloud.

I think it was the way he spoke, so sure that the world revolved around him, that irritated me to no end. I understood exactly what Maya Angelou meant when her father in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings spoke unapologetic. Do all people speak in such a manner? It almost makes me want stomp people with my foot for speaking to anyone like they were superior to others.

I suppose my irritation stemmed from his perspective. He believed he stood against the rest of the world, though he refused to acknowledge that he, a person, dwelled within the very world he tried to avoid. Ironically, the world would accept him wholeheartedly because he was, in fact, a person, a part of the people. He spoke in such a way, I immediately recalled the movies about racism and prejudices. Men, women, and even children spoke in the similar fashion–like they knew everything and were better people than others–until something tragic happened to their bigot lives. It shook me then, and I gritted my teeth for hating those warped personas walking amidst. I knew then I wasn’t safe.

In hearing him speak, I was irritated in finding that same tone within my boyfriend. He simply didn’t understand everything that he thought. I watched him. Not once did he really address me unless I hurled something into his speech. My gears finally came undone when I realized how unnerving to see someone think they could bulldoze through life with their ideas alone. I, as a machine, would have to work twice as hard. I would require a degree. I couldn’t ake the chance of not having a degree. It was enough being a machine.

I clutched my keys, swung my purse onto my shoulder, and stood up. “I’m leaving.” I didn’t wait for him. I just started to walk down the hallway.

“What? Where are you going?” he called after me, finally moving more than his body to his own accord. He followed me down the corridor.

“What type of writer doesn’t listen to the advice of other writers?” I nearly cried.

My Life as a Machine: The Writers

I have always been irritated by authors with books where characters were portrayed in a different writing style. Essentially, the words were meant to indicate a letter in first person or a memory straight from the character’s mind. Still, the author purposely dodged the main character’s thoughts–writing completely different to indicate so–just to make the other character and the scenarios more realistic.

I thought it was a betrayal to the author, switching between characters. Maybe I was just jealous.

In my mechanical mind, the gears tell me that an author should always stay true to their writing style. If they understood such a rule, books would work and I could scan as many novels as my mind’s capacity to hold its information. It’s not that the audience doesn’t know the author didn’t write it. As a matter of fact, errors in fallen speech and diction certainly betrays the new character’s “voice” and the author returns to their usual habit of writing. I thought it was a futile attempt. Why write differently?

But, like I said, maybe I’m jealous. I have the habit of mimicking the writing styles of the author’s I’ve read immediately prior. It’s not like I can’t write in my own voice. My problem is that my own thoughts are written in the same syntax and speech as another writer’s when I have their work immediately before writing. Even now, I am vaguely aware of the fact that my writing right now is similar to that of Kenzaburo Oe’s–I’m currently reading Oe’s A Quiet Life novel.

I have tried to rid myself of such a bad habit. There’s nothing wrong with my style in writing. What I fear, though, even as a machine, is what I write. People don’t like to deal with dull and depressing things, let alone, dull and depressing things that actually speaks the truth. After all, I am a machine, and a machine’s life, no matter how they appear or disappear, isn’t easy. People don’t like dealing with machines because we’re stronger.

Our prides were dashed from us like flies around a picnic table before we hit puberty. Our hopes were crushed before college. Once someone, anyone, has experienced such hardship and decided to stand up again and again, people get scared. It means they’re stronger, determined and unwilling to budge from their resolves. Even when machines lack in resolve, their strength can still be felt. You can see the hesitation in people’s eyes when they face a true machine willing to show them their nature. It’s unabridged and filled to the brim with everything flung to them by people.

I think being a machine has formed my writing ability. I used to write short stories, mostly about how the world hated me because I was a machine. I used to write poems about how shattered my beaten life seemed when I was very young. I understood little about the mechanics about true writing, but I knew the fundamentals: writing was an expression of your deepest secrets, everyone’s faults, and the remainder of your soul. Who knew such an intrinsic device existed within humans and machines alike?